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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Measure It UP

IMG_1044How do you measure your life?
What does success look like to you?  

How do you determine your worth?  

Do you find yourself comparing your life, your days, your looks, your accomplishments to others and find yourself feeling “less than?”

I do…

Whenever I start looking to others to measure my worth, I find myself lacking.  There is always someone better, more beautiful, more energetic, more joyful, more productive than I am.  This world continually shows us countless examples of “greater than” versions of ourselves.  In my 50 years on this earth, I have come to realize that I can’t compare myself to others to measure my worth and my success…when I do that, I find myself feeling down.  Many days, I can’t even measure up to my own expectations of myself and what I wish I would be…

I thought that once my boys were in college, I’d get my house in order…get more organized…have more time.  And, in some ways, this is true.  But, I still find myself living within several not-so-organized, not-so-cleaned-up areas.  It helps to know someone is coming over for a visit, and then I can get things a bit more tidy.  Does throwing all the paper clutter into a laundry basket and putting it on the washing machine count as organized?

I know keeping a super tidy home is not the most important thing…it’s the people in my life and relationships that matter the most.  I want to make a positive difference in this world,  love and encourage others, and be a blessing in big and small ways.  But, I don’t measure up to my wishes in this area either.

Maybe I’m not meant to get my worth by comparing myself to others or even to myself anyway…As I’ve gotten older, I am learning…
to rest in God’s love more,
to give myself more grace,
to “beat myself up” less,
to play less of the comparison game.

It’s not easy, but I believe it has to do with where I choose to look…My house may never get organized, but every day is a new opportunity to love God and love others.  And, although I will continue to not measure up by the world’s standards…this is not what gives me my worth.

How do you measure your life?
What does success look like to you?
How do you determine your worth?

I believe our worth is not based on what we do, but on whose we are.

I thank God for the gift of parents that loved me unconditionally.  From the moment I was born, I belonged to them and nothing could ever change that.  I made my share of mistakes along the way, but that didn’t change their love for me.

As a mom of two boys, I understand this kind of love.  I will always be “in their corner” and “on their team.”  I will always want the very best for them.  They will always be my sons and they will always have my love, apart from anything they do or don’t do.

I believe God loves each one of us with this same kind of unconditional love.  But, His love is SO much greater…it is beyond anything we could measure.

Romans 5:8 says, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” and Romans 8:31b-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  

So, I am learning…

*If I want to measure my worth, I need to measure it UP against His love.*

We are God’s most-treasured creation and He’s proven His love for us in the greatest way possible.  He will always be “in our corner” with open, outstretched arms.  We can lean into His love and He will always be there.

When I was a young girl, I used to pick daisies and pull off the petals.  Maybe you did this too.  The popular saying was, “He loves me…he loves me not…he loves me…”  Even though it was just a game, I always hoped the last petal I pulled would be “He loves me.”
The great news is that with God, every petal says, “He loves me.”  Every single one.  

Luke 12:6-7 says, Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Zephaniah 3:17 (GW version) says, “The Lord your God is with you.  He is a hero who saves you.  He happily rejoices over you, renews you with His love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.”  Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I know that full well.”

How should we measure our worth?
*May we measure it UP against His love.*  

One of my very favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 3:20.  “Now to Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory…forever and ever. Amen.”

I believe this is not only talking about all He can and does do in our lives…IMMEASURABLY MORE.  But, also His love is IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we can imagine.

*If we want to measure our worth, may we measure it UP against His love.*

John 3:16-17  says, “For God SO loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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