In-depenDANCE Day

Happy Independence Day!!14565778851_621f6458f4_m

What do you think about when you hear the word INDEPENDENCE?  Often, we talk about our ability to depend on ourselves, to determine our steps, to be self-sufficient.  In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition says “freedom from outside control or support; freedom from the control of others.”  We are often encouraged to “stand on our own two feet” and be independent in this life.  And although, there are parts of being independent that are profitable and worth striving for…I have found that I need others to live this life well.

I believe we were created for relationship–with God and with others.  We need Him and we need others to encourage us in this life that often can be full of stresses and struggles.  I need guidance in so many areas of my life and although I can be independent (and sometimes stubborn)…I am finding that truly I need more than myself to get through.

It may a bit counter-cultural but I want to live in–dependence upon my Lord and Savior.  I need His help, His strength, His wisdom in every area of my life.  I want to live leaning on Him and His faithful love.  Dependence is defined as “relying on another for support.”  I certainly rely on others for support.  But, I also want to rely on, rest on, lean on Jesus.  I believe He alone knows what I need most…He alone can truly provide what my heart and soul long for.

Psalm 59:17 says, “You are my strength.  I sing praise to you.  You, God, are my fortress, my God in whom I can rely.

I John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is LOVE.  Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.”

KNOW and RELY…I love those words.  The KNOWING here seems to indicate something deeper than just casual knowledge.  To know someone more personally involves a much deeper relationship.  Trusting and relying on someone goes beyond a short encounter with them.  It happens after much time together, many shared experiences and conversations–having a history of trust-building times with them.  I want to be that kind of person–reliable,trustworthy, dependable.  Often times, I believe I am…but also so many times, I am not.

But, I have found that God is the most trustworthy One.  I’ve experienced His extravagant love, dependable strength, and faithful care.  In all the struggles and stresses of my life, He has proven Himself to be trustworthy again and again and again.  He has answered more prayers than I can list and sustained me through some of my most difficult days with a peace, strength, and hope I could not create on my own.  This is NOT to say life has been easy or stress-free.  But, God has been with me at every moment.  Living life in-dependence on Him is the only way I know how to get through it all.

My mom knew how to lean on God.  She did it with much faith and trust, in some of her deepest places of sorrow and suffering.  I was blessed to be with her the last 6 weeks of her life here on earth.  I watched how she rested and relied upon her Savior in her most difficult days as her body battled pancreatic cancer.  She continued to pray and read her Bible, go to church and Community Bible Study, journal the things she was grateful for, shower her smile and love on anyone who came to visit, go for walks and prepare meals.  It wasn’t a checklist of “good things to do” to her…it was her life and God was her hope.  She had a strong desire to spend time with her Savior and with others.  I truly was amazed how she found the strength to keep living so courageously when she was in ever-increasing levels of  pain and discomfort.  She moved forward on this difficult path as if she KNEW and RELIED upon more than what could be physically seen.  She lived in-dependence on Him and I believe He strengthened and helped her through it all.  I too want to live this way.

I love words and I would rewrite the word independence this way:  in-depen-DANCE.  As I researched the origin of the word, I discovered that the French word is spelled “in- dependance“.  I love the thought of following God being like a dance.  I am not a very good dancer but I know several people who are.  When I do dance, it does lift my spirits.  Watching others who love to dance brings happiness and joy.  With partner dances, there is a “Lead and Follow” concept that is needed for the dance partners to move together well.

Marisa Wright at http://www.hobbylark.com states, “Lead and follow” is the secret to getting two partners dancing smoothly together. It’s simply impossible for two people, dancing in close contact, to move seamlessly if each person making their own decisions, choosing their own timing and doing their steps independently. They must coordinate their moves perfectly – and the only way to achieve that is for one person to direct the moves and the other person to follow.”

I’ve found that the more I let God direct my life and the more I follow His ways, the more my life is filled with love, peace, hope, and purpose.  I’ve discovered that as I spend time reading God’s Word and praying, asking God to speak to me, looking at life through a lens of faith, noticing the God-given things and thanking Him for them, responding to nudges and interactions that come my way, then I will grow in my dependence on God.  There will be many mistakes and stumbles, and I will need God’s encouragement and grace over and over again.  Learning to listen for Him will take a lifetime of practice, but I believe it is worth it.

At http://www.arthurmurraylive.com, Chris Lynam states in his analysis of “The Dance Partner” poem–

“One of the greatest aspects of partner dancing is that every dance requires an invitation.”

Every dance requires an invitation…

I believe Jesus gives each one of us an invitation in this dance we call life…an invitation to accept His extravagant love…an invitation to let Him lead our lives…an invitation to join Him on the adventure He has already planned for us…an invitation to lean on Him and find the strength, peace, hope, and love our hearts are longing for.  His invitation is always there waiting for each one of us…

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God will never force Himself upon us.  His invitation of love will never end and is waiting “in our mailbox.”  He is hoping we will open it to learn more about His love!  I’ve heard it said that”the Bible is God’s love-letter to us.”  I have found this to be true.

If you want to learn more about God’s great love for you, may I encourage you to start reading the book of John, written by one of Jesus closest disciples? As you do, notice especially how Jesus loved the people around Him when He was here.  (It may be different than you expect.)

Happy IN-DEPENDANCE Day everyone!

May we join in the dance and may we keep in step with our Savior…may we let Him lead and may we follow with our whole hearts.

 

Anchored to Hope

This Saturday will mark the second birthday my Mom is spending in heaven. It gives me great peace to know she is in the presence of her Lord and Savior, fully alive in a place of overflowing love and joy beyond anything we can imagine. I look forward to being with her again one day…but the loss here remains and I miss her greatly.

This post was written by a close friend of hers recently. Cheryl taught me piano lessons when I was a little girl. I appreciate her insights and hope that her post will encourage you this day.

An Apple of Gold

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternitywith God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There…

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Live Like Yellow

IMG_9952I want to live like YELLOW…

let me explain…

Yellow was my mom’s favorite color.
It was a perfect color for her…bright, cheerful, uplifting…a JOY-full color and one of HOPE.  The yellow-ish sun and stars…both bright lights, just like her.  We might say she had a “sunny disposition.” An article in Psychology Today says if yellow is your favorite color, “Finding happiness comes easy to you and others would compare you to sunshine.” She was like a ray of sunshine, and radiated love and warmth to all who came into her path.  She had a way of warmly caring for people she knew well and those she didn’t.  Many have shared they miss her smile.  Mom looked on the bright side of things and focused on the positive always.  She rarely complained, even when she was in the battle of her life and in great pain.  Oh, how I want to be more like that…

I want to live like YELLOW.

One of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is  “a color whose hue resembles that of ripe lemons or sunflowers.”  Again…perfect for her.  She loved lemons, all things lemon…she loved lemon slices in her water, squirted lemon juice onto vegetables and chicken, and baked lemon squares with powdered sugar on top.  And sunflowers…we had sunflowers on the tables at my parents 50th wedding celebration.  Sun–flowers…always lifting their heads up to the sun…how perfect for my mom…always pointing me and so many others to the Son, her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Just as anchors mean so much to me, so does the color yellow.  Both remind me of my precious mom and I notice them wherever I go.  There have been so many gifts of yellow and gifts of anchors this past year…such precious gifts from God.  Seems like I notice these things everywhere I go now.  They are reminders of her love, her life and they always brighten my day when I see them.

I want to live like YELLOW.

Gifts of Yellow:
*Anchor Pillow:  When I returned back home a year-ago April after Mom’s Celebration Service, my bench in the front yard had a beautiful large yellow pillow sitting on it with a big white anchor on the front (along with beautiful planted flowers nearby).  This was a gift from a friend.  She had been at Marshalls looking for something special to give to me from my Bible Study group.  She saw one large pillow and “pulled it off the shelf because it was yellow.”  She couldn’t believe that it had a large anchor on the front and she got chills when she saw it.  (Nautical themes often have anchors, but they are very often patriotic colors).  The fact that an anchor was on a yellow pillow was quite unique…a special gift from God.
*Goldfinches:  I have a bird feeder right outside my kitchen windows and I love to watch the many colorful birds that eat seed there every day.  I see bluebirds, cardinals, sparrows, chickadees, and blue jays there daily.  I have never seen gold finches.  But, the first Sunday after I returned back home, there were two bright yellow gold finches at my feeder.  My husband noticed them and when I saw the two bursts of bright yellow that morning, tears came to my eyes.  Following that sighting, I purposely bought special thistle seed to attract more gold finches.  I watched and waited day after day, week after week, month after month from last April-September for the goldfinches to arrive.  They never came.  My Dad was here for a visit this past October and I asked God if He would send us a goldfinch…One of the last days my dad was here, he was working outside in our yard.  I went out to check on him and just as I got close to him, I looked up at the tree and there sat a goldfinch for both of us to see!  The only other time I saw a goldfinch that first year without mom here, was this past April 13…the one-year anniversary of Mom’s departure to her heavenly home.  Once again, I asked that God might send me a goldfinch as it would be such a special gift on a day of missing her greatly.  I went to my neighborhood Bible Study and couldn’t believe my eyes…my friend, who was hosting, also has a bird feeder out her kitchen window.  But, she gets a constant flow of bright yellow goldfinches at her feeder daily!  There were several of them!  How like God to send these bright yellow gifts to me to make me smile on a day of sadness. How wonderful for Him to use a friend to encourage me in the process…

So once again, I’ve bought some thistle seed and I’m happy to report that this May, gold finches have found the seed.  Daily now,  I get to admire these beautiful gifts of yellow and I am so very thankful.

I want to live like YELLOW.

*There have been so many other yellow gifts that I might write about in the future…my yellow knock-out rose bush that bloomed this past December for the first time, the beautiful yellow swallowtail butterfly that lingered at my butterfly bush often this past summer, a yellow iris that bloomed for the first time at my Uncle’s home last spring (It had never been planted), the gift of the yellow ribbons/anchor pins for my Mom’s celebration service…

So, on this Friday before Mother’s Day…I thank God for the gifts of yellow and the gift of a Mom who brought so much Son-shine and happiness into my life.  Her love and life shine brightly still and will continue to inspire me to live more like the color yellow.  

I also want to thank God for her identical-twin sister, my dear Aunt, whose favorite color was also yellow.  She truly was a blessing, full of overflowing kindness, warmth, love, as well as the same Son-shining faith.  It gives me great comfort knowing that these twin-sisters are in heaven together, shining brightly like the stars and in the presence of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 60:1 (AMP) says:  “Arise [from spiritual depression to a new life], shine [be radiant with the glory and brilliance of the Lord]; for your light has come, And the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you.”

The Message version says it this way:  “Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you…But God rises on you, His sunrise glory breaks over you.”

The brightness of a sunrise…the magnificence and beauty as the sun breaks into the darkness at the beginning of each day…radiance…glory…beauty…

I want to live like YELLOW!