The Father’s Heart


One out of four women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This song is dedicated to our little boys and girls, and to our mothers and fathers, to our sisters and brothers who have suffered sexual trauma. May we all continue to work towards solutions. I know there is hope and healing available from our Father’s heart.

 

Louder Than The Lies

Recently,  building with Shelter Canada in El Salvador, I noticed one of the family’s relatives had a television in their nearby home. I was immediately reminded of a dear friend of ours who visited a Zulu Chief in South Africa. Upon his arrival he noted that the Chief was watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “terminator” role on television. Even more recently I was having a discussion with someone in my own neighbourhood regarding a prominent Hollywood celebrity who works as a bounty hunter.

All of these observations, and subsequent conversations have something in common. Each occurrence was in the midst of an impoverished reality, people needing homes, food, education, facing life threatening situations. I ached at the thought of the pseudo reality many have chosen to live in. I grieved at the realization millions of souls around the globe are influenced by false truths that offer no real food for their spirit. Many of the messages streaming into our minds are negative and violent, encouraging a tough and calloused approach to life.

A character’s persona, and imaginary world, whether on television, in a video game, music video, or novel – offers the observer an escape from reality, a reality that may be very difficult. This escape is only temporary. Reality is always right around the corner.

What kind of real food do we need to be sharing with one another so our lives have purpose, and meaning, and hope? What kind of truth can we be living out loud to help our loved ones, and neighbours get up every morning and seize the day? With God’s help truth can be louder than the lies.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Home Away from Home

They opened a black rod iron gate that faced the street, and in we rolled with our suitcases trailing behind, over the threshold into our home away from home, through a meeting room with white stacked chairs, and into a courtyard full of foliage.victoria-el-salvador

To the right is where a vehicle was parked each night, with two side doors, one for the vehicle to come and go, and one for us to enter and exit every day. To my left was a corridor where the men turned to their sleeping quarters, one big room with four bunk beds and three singles. These areas were tucked under the upstairs living quarters.

We women were instructed to go straight ahead and further in, past the parking on the right, and the men’s quarters, a counter and bathroom on the left – towards an outdoor washing station (where we would get our clothes washed throughout the week). The station was a flat stone surface where our friend would roll and knead the clothes with lye soap and water.

A few steps in towards the washing station was where the courtyard opened to El Salvador’s sky, with a myriad of tropical plants and vines. A sharp right past the greenery and a stand alone corner bathroom, and up three stairs. Another right turn up six or seven more steep steps, at least for we short ones. There was a railing I could hang onto, but I did so carefully so as not to disturb the precious vines clinging to the same. I noted how my friends, who were taller, seemed to take the stairs so effortlessly, and how I sometimes had to take two hops for every one, especially at the end of the day.

I loved how the stairwell shared the outside cinder block wall, and every time I reached the top I would pause and look out at the carpeted hills of green, and the place across the side street where a woman ground corn by hand. This spot also became Martin’s secret espionage station, where he would lie in wait to pummel our unsuspecting friends below with water balloons (all in good fun).

At the top of the stairs lay a row of three bedrooms, a bathroom, and then a fourth bedroom, each with single beds and bunks. The previously open eve of the roof had been sealed, perhaps to keep humans and bugs apart, or to keep us dry? Rumour had it the gecko’s liked to visit, but I never saw one. My roomy found one in the sink one morning and decided he got there first, thus her decision to brush her teeth in the shower. We were told about the gigantic bugs that resembled grasshoppers, and one of those clung to the outside of our bedroom door for most of the week. I named him Jiminy Cricket, but he never once mentioned Pinocchio.

The first couple of nights, when I awoke to use the bathroom, I would click on my flashlight and try to unlock our door as quietly as possible. I would then tip toe down the outdoor corridor hoping not to see the rumoured midnight cat robber, who came looking for bread. I’d reach my destination, jump inside and lock the door behind me, and then remind myself to breath. Every once and a while I would scold my brain for entertaining thoughts of some critter hiding behind the shower curtain.

At first, the thought of a nocturnal cat thief, snooping for bread, didn’t fizz me much, but we were soon told the said “cat” may not be your average house hold variety, but a jungle one instead? Someone may have been pulling our legs, but my quiet bathroom exits became louder in order to frighten any real threat away, hoping to keep any jungle cat from pulling my real leg.

I loved waking up to the sound of the rooster’s crow, even though their singing began around 3:00 a.m. Yes, there were several of them. Perhaps they were singing the traditional El Salvadorian welcome song? And then there were the birds that came to dance on our roof around 6:00 a.m. Perhaps they were concerned we may sleep in?

The clothes drying on the lines criss crossing the courtyard, and our railing every morning reminded me of my childhood, hanging out clothes on the farm. My eyes always drifted over the walls of the compound to a collage of red pines on yonder hill, and a ribbon of road that wound off into the distant jungle. It made me wonder what lie beyond, and conclude how big the world really is, and reel at the great deal of detail God put into Creation.

My home away from home reminded me of how much God truly cares about you and me.

“But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Some how the words “thank you” don’t quite say enough to God and our El Salvadorian hosts.

Gracias

 

 

Confessions of a Tech Speck, Seat 36B

From the moment I was seated, I mean packed like a sardine in a tin tube, I could feel it, the overwhelming pressure to push a button, flip a switch, plug a cord in. I had faint recollections of my decision to abstain from technology on the trip, so faint I found myself with my ear buds firmly planted and fashion television boldly taking me where no dress had gone before, all before the plane had plotted its course for El Salvador.

flight-screensAnd then it happened. My conscience rap, tap, tapping on my heart. What is it I’m afraid of Lord? Afraid of too much silence and what You might reveal? Afraid of possibly hearing You speak? Afraid of peace and serenity, the sound of the wind?

That’s what I want, to challenge our cultural norms, to analyze and discern before I completely forget what Your voice and creation sounds like, before I become just one more robotic speck in an endless drone of white noise.

I pulled my ear buds out, shut my phone completely off, and tucked my belongings back under my seat in front of me. I looked out the window at the clouds and waited….  We’re so conditioned to watch the computer, clock face, or phone screen that we’re missing the sky, we’re missing You.

Here I am Lord, in seat 36B. You have my attention.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:22, 23.

 

Remembering El Salvador….

I never thought I’d go, and now I’m memorizing every face and every street in case I don’t get back, so I will not forget.

photo-2016-11-02-8-14-54-amThe bus climbed the green filigree mountain, up and over the winding road into Victoria’s town square. I marveled at how the driver magically maneuvered around each narrow street corner. We were living in a movie. We had entered an enchanted fairytale, surrounded by Spanish adobes, and ornamented arches with scrolled barred window frames. I felt like Lucy stepping through the wardrobe’s portal into the land of Narnia.

In Victoria, El Salvador
we found something better than a fantasy novel full of talking animals in a frozen forest. We met family in a tropical jungle of bamboo and bananas, oranges and lemons, flowers and chickens. We played with children and attempted to learn the women’s tortilla technique. We shared stories wrapped in two different languages, sweating under November’s heavy hot sun.

We built houses together, pointing, laughing, digging and pounding. We walked to tasty rice and bean breakfasts, and scrumptious Pupusa dinners in the yellow restaurant where San Salvador’s volcano can be seen smiling through the mist from the end of the street.

We prayed, and worshipped together bringing glory to the Father, and fire to our faith. We fell in love with kindred spirits and trusted when we had to tear ourselves away that one day we would meet again, whether here on earth or in eternity.

Gracias, Gracias, Gracias, to everyone of you. Many of your names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and also on our hearts.

 

Until We Meet Again

There had been many embraces but none like goodbye....(our team just got back from building houses with Shelter Canada in Victoria, El Salvador area).

cathedral-victoria
The Cathedral standing in Victoria’s town square, an example of El Salvadorian architecture

Even the El Salvadorian sun bent low over the white Cathedral’s spire for a closer look. The fumes from the breakfast fires, the burning garbage and endless truck exhaust no longer hovered overhead, but crowded in my last pockets of air for the departure ceremony.

I knew we had come to lift them up, but now their arms opened wide and lifted me, and pulled me close, face to face for one last slow dance. Arms wrapped firm but gently, pausing intentionally for the rhythm of our hearts to synchronize, for our gratitude to turn to salt and run together in one mighty river of life down our cheeks.

And then instinctively my eyes squeezed shut imprinting their faces on the pages of my memory – family forever – until we meet again, precious brothers and sisters across the miles.

*Not only will our team continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in El Salvador, we will remember their faces – the face of Christ. Many thanks to Shelter Canada for the opportunity they have provided for teams to build houses in El Salvador. Many thanks to Olds Baptist church and our community for the prayer and financial support, and many thanks to our team leaders.

More Bitter Than Sweet

The writer of Ecclesiastes knew that justice would never be fully realized here on earth (Eccl. 2:17).

https://vimeo.com/187060799

“More Bitter Than Sweet”, isn’t a song of hopelessness, but one that takes us into the Father’s presence to hear his heart next to ours.

I just want to crawl on your lap, I know you’re busy, but if there’s anyone who cares, it’s gotta be you. Life as we know it has turned out to be tougher than nails, more bitter than sweet. I appreciate your answers but I just need your love. Wanna hear your heart next to mine.

May I come and sit at your feet, this world’s gone crazy and for everything unfair, you know the truth. Love as we’ve shown it has turned out to be colder than steel, more bitter than sweet. ©Cindy Palin All Rights Reserved

 

 

Seeds in the Soil of My Brain

dreamstimefree_54663This morning I was thanking God for his help last night. Usually it’s when darkness falls that my mind gets clouded in turmoil. And it’s more than a problem of trying to shut my mind off, it’s a war. I’m fighting thoughts I believed died a long time ago.

As a child I heard many things, and witnessed many things. Once images enter your eyes, they get comfortable in the garden of your mind, unless of course you ask God for help to weed them out.

Years ago, I began to understand that those images, and words were weeds in the soil of my brain. As I learned to pray I could see God pulling those weeds out, gripping them right down at the root.

Last night, there were remnants of thoughts that came to my mind’s door. I couldn’t see them clearly, but I knew they were there, and they wanted back in. God had pulled them out, and yet they wanted to return. I wondered what I had done for them to think they could come back?

I knew if I allowed myself to even consider them briefly, they would once again wiggle down and get comfortable in my mind’s garden. They would sprawl out their tentacles and take over everything like an infection.

This morning as I was thanking God for his help with my thoughts, He reminded me of something He has been trying to teach me for sometime. There are influences around us that sprinkle unwanted seeds in our mind all the time. Unless we recognize them for what they are, and continue to ask for God’s help, they will take root again.

What kind of seeds are planted in your mind? Are you able to recognize the good seeds between the bad ones? Ask God to root the weeds out, and help you think on Him, and his purposes.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Phil 4:8 NET)

 

Musical September Sentiment

September, my favourite time of year. Yellow school buses line the street outside my door. Little people stream the sidewalk, swinging their lunch pails in the air. So many memories in September, like the first day my daughter went to Kindergarden. And then of course further back, the first day I went to Olds Junior High.

For those of you who love music from different era’s, I’d like to suggest two links to listen to, that will get you in the Happy Sentimental September groove

free  images www.dreamstime.com
free images www.dreamstime.com

Earth, Wind and Fire – September, released Nov. 18, 1978

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs069dndIYk

John Mayer – ’83, released in 2001

 

 

Drowning in a Feeling, or Living in the Truth?

I was going through some of my writing and came across this rough draft, and video. It speaks loudly of where I once was, searching for self, longing to belong. I know now that drowning in a feeling will never be as good as living in the truth. Thank you Jesus – I choose you!

Who Needs Love?

If I let myself I can feel it again, power disguised as love.

I can see it well, everywhere that I turn, everyone’s trading up.

Cause it’s better than waiting around, it’s better assuming control.

It’s better, so much better to drown in a feeling, than to know.

If you let yourself, you’ll believe anything, lies disguised as truth.

Can’t you see it now, your heart’s underneath, the weight of a thousand moons.

Cause it’s better than waiting around, it’s better assuming control

It’s better, so much better to drown in a feeling, than to know.

Cause you were told, but what’s the fun in that?

When you get old, maybe then you’ll settle down,

but until then – you’ll take the feelings.

Yeah until then – who needs love?

©Cindy Palin, music and lyrics, all rights reserved