This week, my little brother is getting married.
The Bride and Groom to be.
My siblings that live in California are flying in and for the first time in almost four years, my whole family will be together. The time we’ve spent a part has felt a little like the feeling you get as a kid when you can’t go outside to play because it’s raining. Like you’re being kept from something so fun and fulfilling. But then the rain stops and the rainbow appears and that’s how you know that the waiting is over.
Rainbows are special aren’t they? Like a rope with strands of color, they pull the sun behind them, tugging it into its place after a storm. They symbolize promise, hope, refreshing. They bleed with colors and light and character, bending but not breaking beneath the moisture of life. No where else in nature do you see such different colors aligned in unbreakable form, like God took each bow of color by itself and soldered them together so He could leave a symbol of His goodness in the space between Heaven and earth.
My family is like a rainbow.
I’ve mentioned before that I come from a very big family made up of my parents, myself, and my two brothers and two sisters. It wasn’t always like that though.
Until I was eight, I was a part of a family of four. It was my mommy, my daddy, my little brother and me. Things were good until cancer came into the picture.
When I was six, my mommy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought it hard. Very hard, surrendering her hair, her strength, her body to the battles. What she never surrendered though was her faith. That was unmovable, unshakable, locked up behind a wall that cancer couldn’t scale.
She knew where her hope was so even when things took a turn for the worse, and the doctors could do nothing else for her, she could smile. Even when she knew that her time on the front lines was ending, she was ok because she knew she was going home. And that’s what she did.
In December of 1997, a month before my ninth birthday, my mommy went home to Heaven. She had earned it. She was only 35 but she had packed those 35 years full of love and laughter, faith and friends, and had taught us what the most important thing was; to love the Lord. Her struggle with cancer, our struggle with cancer really, left us all battle scarred but strong. We knew who held us even if the outcome didn’t turn out like we wanted. She was the commander in that fight after all and she wouldn’t have stood for anything less.
After she died, my Dad stepped in to fill the role of Mom and Dad. He did an amazing job and I’ll love and admire him forever for that and for everything else he’s done for me. I remember the first Christmas after she was gone though. I was nine, almost ten and I remember feeling such a panic and sadness that no one was going to get my dad anything for Christmas. I scrambled to buy him some things but what does a nine year old girl know?
I remember trying to pick out a tie for him. I also got him the sound track to “Grease” because I knew he liked it but again, what does a nine year old girl know? I understood then the feeling God had when he looked at Adam alone in the garden with nothing but some animals and plants to talk to. I knew the sadness and urgency he must have felt when he said that man was not meant to be alone.
God knew it for Adam and He knew it for my dad. Woman wasn’t meant to be alone either though and about an hour and a half south of where we lived, parallel lives to ours were being played out.
Another warrior of faith, a man who had fought cancer strong and lived stronger, was being sent home too. His name was Gary. I never knew him but I feel like I did. I wish I had. He fought for six long years against leukemia with his wife, son, and two daughters by his side. They were left battle scarred and strong, too, just like us. They had watched while the most important man in their life led them in a fight for health but more importantly in a fight for faith and a legacy that would live on through them. I know because I get to see it everyday.
You see that family of his, well they’re mine now too.
God saw our two families waving in the wind and rain alone and thought that we just might be stronger if we were stuck together. Like a rainbow.
He brought together that widow and widower and their handful of kids and made us into a family when I was eleven.
We could be labeled as a “blended family” but I don’t think that term can suffice. Blended implies that we were two very different ingredients that had to be thrust into a blender and violently shaken up, forced into letting the other in. I suppose there have been moments like that, but God’s work has been tidier than that.
This was us six and a half years ago.
We weren’t so different. All of us had been fighting the same fight, stuck out in the same storm but given the most valuable weapon to fend it off with. All of us had been robbed by cancer but all of us had been reimbursed with the goodness and assurance of the Lord.
We came together like a rainbow after a storm. Bending across the sky, together to proclaim that all of those promises that God makes? Yeah, they’re true.
Here’s some of us just doing what we do; laughing together.
I remember when my dad and my mom (my step mom, but you’ll never hear me call her that) were dating, I found a sign hanging in her bedroom. It was Psalm 30:5:
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Even my childish mind knew that this was sign. Like the true woman of God that she is, she had proclaimed our restoration, written it on the wall of her home and her heart that God would restore.
When I look at my family, full of people and personality and stories and feelings bigger than we can contain I see the sign of His promise. Life wasn’t always perfect even after my parents got remarried and it won’t ever be, just like there were days where Noah had to watch the rain fall again. But just like Noah, I can look out and see the sign of His promise, that even when things are bad, He will never leave me or forsake me, his plans for me are good. He will never flood me with more than I can bear and when the storm is over, I will see the goodness of the Lord.
Here we all are with our spouses.
Another band is being grafted in to our rainbow this week and we couldn’t be more excited! With each person we marry and each baby that’s born into our family (we’re up to 11 now!), that rainbow, that blessing, that bright and bold proof of His promise and goodness gets bigger and stronger.
Together we bend and paint the sky with the stories of the goodness of the Lord. My family is like a rainbow.