Why a Rainbow?

TRM instaPeople have been asking about the meaning behind The Rainbow Moment. I’ve shared several versions of an elevator speech, but I thought I’d share the real deal here.

The volume itself is based off a poem I wrote a year and a half ago. I was doing a 30-day poetry challenge, and day eight told me to write about a color without using the name of that color. I loved the concept, but I couldn’t pick just one color. I decided to write an acrostic poem using the seven colors of the rainbow. What a genius idea, right? The poem turned out much better than I thought it would. It didn’t have a name then, but it made my eyes tear up, and it captivated my heart with a vice grip.

The poem itself is a story of redemption, and what a story it is. A prisoner finds his way out of his prison, and while he’s running away – and thinking all the self-loathing things a former prisoner would think of himself – he comes to the end of his road and the beginning of a new one. He comes across a boat surrounded by angels. They explain they’ve come to save him, and he can barely believe it. With tears in his eyes, he climbs onto the boat, and the angels bring him home.

Without fail, every person I’ve shared this poem with has teared up; they’ve felt warmth in their hearts, and their mouths are splayed open with gigantic smiles. This poem is freeing. It floats high on a cloud of the Holy Spirit’s powerful, all-consuming love, raining peace on the reader below. If you’re looking for something to save you, well, only God can do that. But this poem, and this book, too, will certainly help with that.

Double-Rainbow-over-ManhattanBut even still, why would I choose to base an entire book off of a rainbow? Doesn’t the rainbow stand for homosexuality and other ~ weirder ~ sexualities? Am I not scared of people thinking this is my coming out?

No, I’m not.

Rainbows mean a lot of things to a lot of people. A rainbow baby is one born after a miscarriage or a loss. The Rainbow Bridge is where dogs go after they die, to wait for their owners to come and get them. And, yes, it is the symbol the LGBTQ+ community has chosen to represent their movement.

Let us remember that the rainbow belonged to God before it belonged to any of us humans.

When we look at the rainbow from a biblical standpoint, it stands for God’s choice to define Himself as love. When God first created the rainbow, He told Noah that He was creating it for Himself. God created the rainbow to remind Himself of His choice to no longer look at the world through the lens of judgment. After all, His perfection would never be less than perfect, and our disgusting sin would never go away without his help. Thus, He promised to balance out the bad of the human race with His own goodness (Genesis 8:20-22). In the moment of its creation, the rainbow stood for steadfast goodness that would never fail.

In each of the modern meanings of the rainbow listed above, the rainbow stands firmly as a promise. People cling to rainbows for hope. They hold fast to it for reasons they don’t even know – reasons that are engrained in the fiber of every living being. When God speaks to Isaiah, He says speaks of Noah and says, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” (Isaiah 54:9-10). This is what the rainbow stands for: an unshakable and irremovable covenant.

We cling to the rainbow because, at its very core, it is imbued with everlasting goodness.

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Throughout the Bible, God tells us of His promise to Noah; the authors of different books speak of His kindness and faithfulness when they speak of the rainbow. They speak about the beauty of His compassion and the choice He made to never act out in anger against the human species again. God chose the Israelites, and the Gentiles in time, to be His protected ones, His Beloved.

That’s what the rainbow stands for, whether people realize it or not. I whole-heartedly believe that the meaning first given to something – the meaning behind its creation – never fades, and the rainbow is definitely one of those things.

As my good friend Sarah said, “[God] literally made a new physical phenomenon just because He wanted to remind anyone who looked up after a storm of His loving kindness.”

So, yes, I have chosen the rainbow – the most grand and decorated and permanent of all God’s creation. The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but this God-spoken, naturally-occurring atmospheric condition will last forever, and I’m making a habit of writing about eternal things.

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Let’s Go Back, Dear

dear-beloved

Let’s go back to calling everybody “Dear.”
Write everyone letters addressing them as close-to-our-hearts.
Let them hold our words in their hands
And be encouraged.

Let’s go back to holding doors open for each other,
No matter how far they lag behind.
We’ll bring people with us
As we walk into the world ahead.

Let’s go back to not letting strangers be strangers for long.
Smiles and hugs make the world go ’round,
And we know everyone we meet
Needs at least one to last the day.

Let’s go back to loving people regardless of limits,
Theirs or ours.
This is how they’ll know us; this is how they’ll see:
Our fully-functioning unconditional love for each other.

The Phantom of AWESOME

I went to the Fox Theater for the first time ever this week! It was honest-to-goodness one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been inside.

The architecture was astounding, and there were stars in the ceiling, arches everywhere, original fixtures in the bathroom, and there was an orchestral organ that shook the building as it played and then vanished into the floor! I lovelovelove the gigantic beauty of it all.

phantom-of-the-opera_mainThe Phantom of the Opera was wonderful. It’s been one of my favorite musicals since middle school, so it was really nice to see it live. Of course, the musical play is different from the movie I grew up watching, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall, the cast did a really good job. To name a few actors: Derrick Davis (the Phantom), Katie Travis (Christine Daae), Anne Kanengeiser (Madame Giry), Phumzile Sojola (Piangi), and Victor Wallace (Joseph Buquet), I believe these characters were well cast, and the actors did a wonderful job recreating the characters I know and love from the movie.

The sets were my favorite part, by far; they are absolutely phenomenal. The chandelier literally made my jaw drop for a good five minutes, as did much of the rest of the stage design. I don’t want to give away the wonders of it, but if you have no other reason to go see this musical, you need to go just because of the sets. Holy cow. If I ever write a stageplay, I will have Paul Brown build the stage design for it. No joke.

A personal pet peeve I found recurring throughout the night: The actors over-enunciated the “R” sound while singing. “…YouR face, ChRistine…”  “…BewaRe the Phantom of the OpeRa…” This might be a personal tick, but I found it distracting and annoying. I feel it made the play over-Americanized in a bad way.

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If you are considering going to see this musical, I highly recommend you should go. It is playing in a gorgeous venue, and the story is pretty beautiful as well.

+ 60,000 smile points

 

Perpetual Priesthood

Aaron, brother of Moses, spent much of his life after slavery being believed in by God.

Aaron isn’t necessarily known for the good he did in the nation of Israel. Every preacher I’ve heard seems to hone in on the moment he loses faith. In Moses’ absence, right as God is telling Moses about his decision to have Aaron as Israel’s first High Priest, the people of Israel came to Aaron troubled about how long Moses had been gone. Doubt became the biggest player on the field, and Aaron allowed it to force his hand. He gathered the people’s gold and made a statue of a young cow out of it, commanding the nation to bow to it in the name of God.

aaron After Moses came down from the mountain to stop the idolatry Aaron had started, Aaron threw the blame on his people. Despite the fact that the golden calf was his own idea, Aaron tosses his people into the fire, and he goes so far as to say, “So they gave [the gold] to me, and I threw it into to the fire, and out came this calf.”

Really? It just came out that way?

That’s not how that works, Aaron.

As my pastor said this Sunday, “You don’t want a leader like that.”

But despite the fact that Aaron almost got the nation of Israel swept out by God in a murderous rage, he was still the human God chose to lead His nation into His goodness. Led by God’s divine instruction, Moses anointed Aaron as Israel’s first High Priest.

Regardless of that huge flaw in his character, regardless of the fact that Aaron deliberately led God’s people astray – even as God told Moses about his promotion, God still gave Aaron this important task. God decided, “I know Aaron still has the potential to live into this position. I will still give it to him, forgive his misdeeds completely and fully, and trust him with this most holy work.” God did not look into Aaron’s actions. He looked into his heart and knew Aaron wanted to do good and prove himself.

Aaron had allowed the people’s doubt to make him forget what God had done for them; this promotion was God surrounding Aaron continually with His presence for the rest of his life so he would never forget His goodness. In Exodus 40:15, God orders Moses to admit Aaron and his sons into “Perpetual Priesthood.” God gave Aaron and his sons – as a free gift – a forever job. Aaron would never lose his priesthood, and the generations of his sons and their sons would be secure in the temple, too. Not only did God look down and see the good in His child Aaron, He blessed him and his family for hundreds of years to come.

aaron1_8553How’s that for having God believe in you?

This is the Loving Father we have; despite our worst efforts and all our half-witted mistakes, God still sees the good in our hearts. God knows the beauty residing within us and chooses to look at that, no matter how ugly we feel or how bad we think we messed up.

When you don’t think you’re good enough, God knows you are. It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done or said or thought. God loves you and wants to see you succeed. He will give you good gifts, new opportunities, when you least expect them.

You are Loved. Always.

Showers of Peace

You start the day with
Hurricanes of condemnation and loathing.
With every step you take,
You fall deeper and deeper
Into the pit.

This destructive, destroying world
And all its helpless people
Have taught you to be ashamed
Of what you’ve done, said, thought,
Of who you are.

When you look around you,
When you see your environment,
All you see is shadows.
Darkness pervades the air.
Desperation invades your heart.

Something inside you sparks. I have to get out of here.
You gather all the energy you can muster,
And you run.
You leave the desolate behind
Heading for what, you do not know.

Up ahead, you see something new coming,
And you’re fearful of the cloud bearing toward you.
You’ve left the terror-wind behind
For what?
To be caught up again in what you cannot control?

Cleansing waters now compete for your attention–
Showers of mercy and grace,
But the weight of this rain is not oppressive.
A misting peace fills the air.
It lifts you, coaxes you, out of the dust.

You float easily with the rising tide
Like the donkey stepping up with every shovel-full of dirt,
You can wile your way out of this mess.
But when you reach the top,
You find a smiling face full of love.

This giant looks down at you and says,
At last, I’ve found you.
His voice carries the tone of a thousand Valentine’s hearts.
His smile awards your soul with the deepest kind of joy
You’ve never had the privilege of dreaming could ever exist.

And He tells you,
Let me bring you home,
Dear One.

And you answer,
Yes, Papa, please.

A Star Spangled Hope

So the Super Bowl was a really awesome game, right? I know I’m not the only one who marveled at that one guy who ran 80+ yards down the field for a touchdown and the Patriots’ fourth-quarter comeback to win in the first overtime in a Super Bowl ever.

But that’s not what affected me most that night. Our National Anthem did, one line in particular: “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” This line gave me tears in my eyes.

That’s some really beautiful imagery right there. I close my eyes and can see the battle raging. There weren’t atom bombs at this time, so the explosions are much smaller than the ones we’re used to seeing, but the air glows ember-orange and is overflowing with smoke everywhere I look. The ground shakes with each impact. Chaos is everywhere, but the flag still stands. There are tatters streaming in the wind and crisp, burnt edges, but it stands strong in the night, the blue and white in it standing out against the war-torn sky.

torn-flag

This line is also a lesson in seeing things from different perspectives. I bet the people fighting the fight, the ones with bombs dropping around them, did not see this scene so beautifully. They didn’t look up and think, “These bombs just show our flag so perfectly well.” The American soldiers were looking at their enemies and trying to keep them from getting to the flag to tear it down. They were busy in the fight.

But this moment was important in the creation of our nation’s identity, and one man – Francis Scott Key – just had to write a song about it. As his ship sailed on a mission to free other Americans from British captivity, Key had the perfect vantage point to see the bigger picture of the moment. He saw what the American people were fighting for, and he laid it into the groundwork of our nation’s identity: Freedom and the bravery to take hold of it.

The thing is, if the British soldiers had been able to get to our flag and tear it down, they would have won. While Key stood on the deck of that ship and watched, unable to do a single thing to help, all he could do was watch that flag. As long as it was there, he knew America would win the battle.

free-and-braveWhat are you missing in your fighting right now? Or are you watching, helpless, on the sidelines?

Either way, there is ALWAYS a bigger picture at work. There is always beauty to find should you seek it.

Either way, there is One Thing you can look to and find the battle is not lost: God, in all three persons. The Father is constantly working all things out for the good of those who love Him. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again to bring us new life and will come again to win the war once and for all. Holy Spirit is always with us, healing our souls and protecting us from greater pain and turmoil than we would have faced without His Good Work.

As long as God is the focus of your life, you’ve won. As long as you keep Him near, nothing will tear you down. We have this hope, that He is Truth and will fight on our behalf. He will bring us up out of the valley and to the mountaintop. He WILL fulfill His promises to us. ❤

Be Who You Are

previewBe who you are
(Some self-love is way overdue)
And you will fly like a shooting star

Be proud of your scars
They are proof of the truth
Be who you are

Erase the bars
That have hindered your view
And you will fly like a shooting star

For He holds all your tears in a glass jar
Don’t you know you’re valued?
Be who you are

Know that you are
Loved through and through
And you will fly like a shooting star

When you’re out near and far
Or standing in a Starbucks queue
Be who you are
And you will fly like a shooting star