Climbing Mountains?

I don’t like climbing mountains, so I was surprised to find I am a mountain climber. The rocks are life’s challenges. The sheer height is fear of failing. The climbing gear is my relationship with Christ, and His Word. And the climb? My continuous choice to overcome.

I was looking for useful tools the other day for a friend who is fighting depression, and came across a podcast by John Piper (his youtube channel is Desiring God). Thanks Julie for suggesting it.

As embarrassing as it is to admit – I can’t remember which bible verse he quoted, but He tells us the best way to overcome depression is to gaze at God. At first I scoffed “oh come on – it can’t be that simple.”

You never want to give people advice that you can’t take yourself, so I pondered John’s words.

I didn’t understand.

“How do I gaze at You?” I asked God.

And then I sat very still and quieted my thoughts and waited. An answer came. You gaze at God by not staring at the world.

I personalized “the world”. What did that represent for me? I had been watching mystery/crime television, when I could have been playing music, or writing, or even resting. The information consumed left me feeling fatigued and restless. Images of struggle and death were the last flashes before I fell asleep. Not something a mountain climber needed to reach the summit.

A light bulb moment, fuel for the fire, energy for the climb! If you find yourself slipping, if you find yourself stuck, if you recognize you are out on a limb going no where – perhaps some reflection is needed on what or whom you’ve been staring at?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 (NIV)

Guess what? I skipped television tonight and wrote instead, as well as visited with some friends. Our conversation was very focused on….you guessed it, my best friend. tonight I think we’re going to be mountain climbing in my sleep:)

 

 

Moving Forward

The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.

Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.

Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.

Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.

Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.

*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.

If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.

Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.

We are cheering you on!

Sunday Mornin’s Callin’ You

When I was in my early twenties I came to the late realization that trying to do life without God wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

I decided to wander into a church in my hometown one Sunday morning, and wasn’t prepared for my panic. I was certain as soon as I crossed from the foyer to the sanctuary, everyone would see right through me, to my black heart.

Thanks to an associate Pastor, who kept reminding me about God’s grace, I kept answering the ‘Sunday’ call. Over time the doubts, and accusing voices in my head grew faint, and God’s voice became familiar. God became my Father, I became His child, and the congregation – my family.

During that time I concluded there had to be other people like myself who questioned whether they belonged in church, and decided to write a song…

Sunday Mornin’s Callin’ You

Verse 1:  Sunday mornin’s callin’ you, crusted dry and over due

Pack your black heart on your back and run, fast as your feet can carry you

Bring your heart in from the cold, shake the dust off of your soul

They don’t know where you have been or what you’ve done,

Only Jesus has to know.

Chorus:  Sunday mornin’ keeps on callin’, blossom fresh and clean

It’s never too late to trust in Jesus, you know what I mean?

Verse 2:  So you’re travelin’ down the road, passed a church a mile or so

Your mind’s certain on sleep my darlin’, it’s let you down before you know

So your baggage is raw you tell me, and you’re so pressed for time

No time like the present, to change your mind

Chorus: Sunday mornin’ keeps on callin’, blossom fresh and clean

It’s never too late to trust in Jesus, you know what I mean

©August 2000, Cindy Palin

You don’t have to go to church to blossom and be clean, but it was there I learned it was possible.

Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green (Psalm 92:13,14)

To Be Loved, Part I

I met her when I was dating my (now) husband. Back then she was maybe twelve. Powder white skin and long ebony tresses. Not a care in the world. I noticed she liked to care for the little ones at Sunday School, like a Shepherd gathers his little lambs. We got to know her Mom and Dad a little, but when we returned home from our honeymoon, there had been an ugly split in the tiny church plant we’d been attending, and they were no longer around.

Years later I saw her downtown, and she had grown into a lovely young woman in her twenties. She was dating a young man with a high profile career, and excited about life. No sooner had I imagined a lovely wedding and dreamy future for this beautiful spirit, I heard about the break-up. I didn’t know how to get a hold of her to see if I could take her out for coffee and chat.

One day out of the blue I get a phone call. Did I remember who she was? Absolutely. She needed to meet me.

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I’ll never forget how I felt holding her hand across the table and watching her tremble. She was addicted to prescription drugs. Her Mother and Father had split. She had a child from a lover, but her child had been taken away. No one really knows how to determine which hearts break and recover, and which hearts crumble and lay down and die. Why had my little Snow White not found her Prince Charming? Why had there not been anyone to protect her from the wolves?

I went home that day and wrote this song. It has never been recorded, but remains to be a favourite of mine. Not that it is pleasant to remember the demise of a dear friend, but it is important to remember there is only a window of time for us to cherish and nurture each unique life.

I wait for her and know our meeting won’t be pretty

She’s cut her hair and tells me she is far too heavy

But I see the twelve year old I knew when I was twenty

Who used her up and left her second hand?

How my soul aches to see her shake drinkin’ her coffee

All she needs, all she needs is to be loved!

It’s not the first time I’ve heard it

It’s not the last time I’ll see

It’s the all too familiar calamity

All we need, all we need, all we need is to be loved…..©Cindy Palin, Nov. 2005

That same day, I went to check on another friend I had met on a Saturday morning, out shopping. I will share the second half of the song, which is her story – tomorrow.

 

 

Quick to Pour Out, and Slow to Consider….

I woke up with worship on my mind.

“Not a bad way to wake up”, I thought.

Once songs were chosen and emailed off to the different worship team members, I sat at the breakfast table and wondered “what next God?” Every day is an open window, a portal to new lessons waiting to be learned.

By the end of the day I wasn’t sure what it was I was supposed to learn. “I may have been better off staying inside with a closed door.” I muttered under my breath.

But there in the middle of an absent answer – was the answer itself. Every phone call, every errand ran, every conversation had been riddled with obvious pain. Maybe it wasn’t obvious to everyone, but I could feel it. I could hear it in their voices. I could see it in their body language, like a crippling disease. As I witnessed and embraced my beloved (those who Christ has blessed my life with) I too felt my bones weaken, and my spirit faint, and knelt to hand my anguish over to God. Prayer was the lesson. Prayer was the answer that always leads to action.

For the addict whose name was the same as a biblical warrior – I prayed for the Holy Spirit to intervene, so that he too could march around his walls of Jericho, and conquer his demons once and for all.

For the mother, I thought of Jochebed, Moses’ mother and how she too had to let go of her son unwillingly, and watch a stranger raise him. I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort her, and remembered Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

And for a friend who is always struggling to make ends meet I thought of the Israelites wandering in the desert, afraid for how they were going to find food and water. God had given them manna with instructions on how to collect it and use it to keep their bodies fueled, but in their disconnect they squandered it and the food spoiled. Their wandering cycle lasted for 40 years and many died on the way to the Promised Land. I prayed for my friend, for the power of the Holy Spirit to help her look up and take hold of God’s provision, and so break the generational cycle, which threatened to end her life and the lives of her children, and their children.

And for me, I cried out to God that I would get up off my knees and act out His compassion, as Christ and the early church exemplified (Acts 2:43-47).

As I wondered just how much we should give, and where the balance should be the words “poured out” tumbled out of my mouth.

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Isaiah 53:12b “…..because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Let us be quick to pour out what He has given us, and be slow to consider ourselves.

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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)

 

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

Why is He Not Enough?

What changes our faith statements from “God is good” to “there is a higher power”? When did you decide to pray to something, rather than someone? When was the decision made to trust in crystals, or look to the moon for guidance?

As technology races forward we have access to so much information, but this doesn’t mean all of it is good. Our brains naturally migrate to new “stuff” that stimulates our thinking. New information can challenge our traditions, and entice us to entertain new possibilities. Change can be very good, but not every new thing is truth.

Lately I havtruth-JPG-96e noticed a surprising amount of people have flocked to using fancy ethereal terminology when talking about spiritual issues, rather than mentioning the names of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Is sounding politically correct more attractive than the message of the Gospel? Have you heard about the power in Jesus name (Phil. 2:10)?

It seems as though He who saves our soul has now been equated to the same importance as the latest in paint colour trends. Using today’s lingo and jumping on the newest spiritual band wagon isn’t going to give us the strength we need to navigate the storms of life, or lead the next generation into wholeness. Ephesians 6, verse 10 and onward tells us it is God’s strength alone that will help us recognize dangerous schemes, and plans that set themselves up against the truth.

If you are someone who has heard the salvation message of Jesus Christ, and responded, but now have decided to try something new, I challenge you to ask yourself why? Did you ever take steps to get to know the living Christ, and our Creator? Have you spent time reading His Word, or resolved yourself to take a person’s word instead? How do you know what they are saying is trustworthy?

Why is Jesus no longer enough? Why does finding your ‘power animal’, or purchasing a crystal, or talking to the dead appeal to you more? How has magic, and casting spells become a better option than prayer? When did the Bible, and Sunday School become something archaic and irrelevant, and why? Is it that many have tired from ‘doing’ religion, rather than ‘being’ in a relationship with Christ?

Are we really ready to trust ourselves over and above He who has made us?

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” Romans 1:20 NIV.