In The Midst of Storms
~ Sometimes love means getting wet in the rain. ~
|Ch.5 of Amber O’Brien’s book Love.Always.Wins.|
So. Much. Rain.
For two whole weeks —long, dark days of rain —short, violent storms and hail. Broken branches littered my yard and canceled plans littered my calendar.
“Where is Noah?” I asked, “Is his ark about to pass us by?” I teased my coworkers as we looked out my office window at the sheets of rain falling on the parking lot.
But what I was really looking for was a rainbow.
Don’t we all hope for the rainbows? Aren’t we all searching for some beauty after the pain, some encouragement after the rain?
But for the longest time I couldn’t find one.
“Look for the sun,” my husband reminded me. “Both the sun and rain are needed at the same time to create a rainbow.” And then… It. Happened.
On our way to dinner we drove through the middle of a perfect rainbow. Glorious colors —red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet on both sides of a giant arch with the ends close to each side of the road. Our car slowed to a saunter under the middle of a breathtakingly beautiful rainbow.
My sweet sister, Liese, calls this, “A kiss from God.” A kiss or God-wink is an aha moment when our loving father provides a reminder that He is always with us and knows what we need.
This rainbow reminded me of the promises from our loving, caring creator that joy does come after times of drought —and it does come after long nights of doubt.
Most comforting to me was the realization that I didn’t have to wait until the rain had ended to see a rainbow. Both sun and rain are needed at the same time.
In my soul I was reminded of God’s faithfulness —I am here. I am here in the rain. I am here in your pain.
Soon after I noticed God’s sign in the sky and I caught my breath, I began to sing the chorus of a poem I had written years before:
In the midst of storms, rainbows are born, His love shines through our tears.
In the midst of storms, rainbows are born,
He is here, He is here.
He loves you, my sweet sister. He promises to be with you through the storm. Just as Noah and his family stepped off the ark to realize the beautiful bow in the sky, the fresh arched piece of God’s gift of glory covers the roads you embark on.
Sweet surprises are ahead for you.
Your part is simple… just like my husband encouraged me, “Look for the Son.”
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In the Midst of Storms
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~ Sometimes love means being kind first. ~
If looks could kill, then every morning she killed me again, and again.
Each morning that she dropped her daughter off at our school, our paths crossed, and I noticed her body froze, her face turned to stone, and her eyes pierced my own when I greeted her. The constant reminder of how much discord existed between us when we saw one another seemed to make her more irritated and miserable.
Months before, we’d had a tough meeting. It happened when my job had been to set some boundaries with her after her unpleasant words toward one of my employees. As a result, she was asked not to interact, or even to approach that person for a temporary period.
My assumption had been that she would pull her child from the program, but instead, she kept her daughter in our community because she thrived in our care. But maybe, she had just stayed to make my life miserable.
So far, she was winning.
I felt ready to move on and to forgive her for the incident, but her eyes demonstrated that, “if looks could kill,”then she wished, instead of moving on, that she might want to, “move over,” my dead body.
My initial tactic had been to act cheerful and friendly when I spotted her arriving at school with her daughter. “Good morning!” I’d greet her with a smile, and tried to push through the uncomfortable situation.
The upbeat engagement that I attempted only seemed to result with her increased irritation. Her already anxious face grew exceedingly serious each time she stepped through the door to leave her daughter before going on to her high-level corporate position.
Unfortunately, I am ashamed to admit that I grew weary and turned my greeting into one of sarcasm one morning when I called out, “Have a nice day!” She picked up my tone, and responded in a like manner, leaving me with a feeling of defeat and disappointment in myself.
Weeks passed while I now resorted to avoid her. However, the daily tension became so great, that I decided to zero in on the problem with God.
“Oh Lord, what can I do to make this better?” Vaguely recalling a Bible verse from Proverbs about winning over an enemy with kindness, I began a google search. “A gift in secret pacifies anger,” it states in Proverbs 21:13.
What gift could I give her? I kept thinking about this, and praying. I realized that some common ground that we shared was the joy of her daughter. In fact, this woman was a wonderful mother, even so much that she chose to leave her daughter in the best situation despite her own personal discomfort. Maybe I could write her a card about her bright and engaging daughter that she could read in her own personal space. Taking a pen, I shared the truth about what a gift that Becky continued to be at our school. To illustrate, I included some specific examples for her encouragement.
A few days later, our paths crossed, and this time her face softened when she saw me. She approached me and thanked me for the card. After chatting briefly about her amazing daughter, we both went on to enjoy our day.
“Looks can kill,” but a thoughtful, authentic gift can heal.
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Creamy, Cool Kisses
~~Sometimes love remains anonymous~~
Yesterday marked the anniversary of my infant daughter’s ‘Heaven Day.’
After 40 days of encouraging ups and heartbreaking downs in the NICU, God’s loving presence embraced me as I held my baby’s beautiful, perfectly formed body for the last time. Peace covered me like the soft, warm wings of the angels that carried her home.
Days later, while I watched her tiny coffin lowered carefully into the frozen ground, this peace continued to cover me as the thick, white snow clings to a barren tree.
Soon after all my friends and family went back to their own lives, I realized why the loss of a child has been described as having one’s arm cut off. The limb will never grow back, and the pain is agonizing as the process of the raw, open wound slowly heals. Insensitive comments and pat explanations sting as if salt is being rubbed into the open wound.
My husband and I both carried gaping wounds and grieved differently. As a result, we could not comfort each other. During this lonely, terrible time of darkness, my sensitive small daughters each regressed as they reacted to the recent rollercoaster of events and emotions. The oldest, who before Megan’s death had been potty-trained, reverted and started to cling to me for support. Both vied for my attention, and bickered between themselves. I struggled to care for them as the grief sapped so much of my energy.
For example, I remember standing at the sink one day, and yelling out to God, “Why did you give her to me… only to take her away?” Tears ran down my cheeks and I shook with pain. Underneath my anger cried a hurt little girl who felt that God had ignored her prayers. Truly, I had begged for God to heal my baby.
A few months after both the funeral and my emotional outburst to God, I bundled up my two older daughters (three-and-a-half, and two-years-old), and drove to the local mall. Soon after we arrived, I decided to buy ice cream for my precious little ones in the food court. When I approached the register to pay for it, the cashier explained that our treats had been taken care of. The bearded man explained, “Each day a man comes here, and picks someone to buy ice cream for. Today he picked you and your little girls.” Oh what a sweet kiss from God when I needed it the most.
My need wasn’t money, for I had plenty to buy ice cream. But what I had needed to know was that God saw me. I needed to know that He cared about me, and that He would tend to my tender faith and raw questions.
I now had proof that I was not alone. This was the beginning of my awakening to the fact that God saw my sore, hurting heart, and grieved with me.
He would gently guide me through my it, and help one moment at a time.
God’s loving touch of sweet provision soothed my raw, hurting heart as cool, sweet ice cream runs down and coats a sore throat.
Twenty-four years later, my eyes still fill with mist when I remember how I felt during this time, the lowest and loneliest season in my life. But then those sad tears join with ones of gratefulness as I also remember God’s personal kisses of kindness.
I now realize how important doing acts of kindness anonymously can be, for then the recipient does not have to use up energy to repay anybody back. Because of this, the recipient can truly receive a gift from the hand of God —the One who is The Giver of all good gifts.
I call these inspired and Spirit-led acts of kindness giving a KISS from God.
K – Kindness
I – In
S – ‘Spired by the
S – Spirit (The Holy Spirit)
A KISS is different from the often referred to, “Random Act of Kindness” or “RAK,” which has the connotation of just being due to random luck. Instead, a “Kiss” in not accidental at all, but consists of who looks and prays for someone who is hurting, and by listening to God, takes action for how to best respond.
“What is Love to me?” someone might ask.
A small cone of vanilla ice cream given by a stranger.
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Discussion questions for those that want to delve deeper:
1. What does a rainbow promise in the Bible? Look up Genesis 9: 9-17. The Bible begins and ends with a rainbow, for in the last book, Revelation, a rainbow circles God’s throne. See Revelation 4:1-4. What do you think this means?
1. Ponder and share a specific way that God has ‘kissed you’ recently with His kindness.
1. In Kind Kisses, a written note softens a strained situation. Have you ever given or received such a gift? Is the Holy Spirit leading you to express love to someone in your world?
1. Sometimes, like in Creamy, Cool Kisses, the best kind of gift might be anonymous. Why is it more difficult to give in secret? Or, is it easier? Share an example from your life.
1. How can we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us so that our ‘kiss’ reaches the right person at the right time?
1. Look up Colossians 3:12-14. Read it slowly. How can your love act like glue in your relationships?
1. How is the acronym RAK different from KISS? Why does the word, ‘random,’ not work as well in our walk with the Lord?
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Time for a Dessert Challenge
Place a giftcard in an envelope with a short note that says,
God sees you and adores you, for a neighbor, or a friend who is struggling.