The Best of All He Is

Our daughter is about to leave for full-time missions. It may sound silly but I smiled as I pulled the stale waffles out of the refrigerator. They are summer memories of three of our adult children in the kitchen eating one of their favourite foods.

We were saving them to toast, but forgot them in the back of the top shelf. Now I fear they may choke the toaster.

As I dump them out of their plastic storage bag, I can hear my daughter downstairs, stuffing her duffle bag full.

What have we gotten rid of in our lives in order to pour into our children, the very best of all He is?

Life is full of object lessons. Life is a series of getting rid of the garbage and filling our souls with nutrients.

“Train up a child in the way he should go…..” Prov. 22:6

Ephesians 4:22 – 24, setting aside the old life and being renewed.

Grant my children godly discernment and wisdom to know not what, but whom to hold onto.

 

When No One Understands the Pain

My workweek was experientially rich. I could say “rough”, but I am going to choose the word “rich”. In my line of work debriefing is mandatory. In most cases a debrief means communication between two people in order to process confidential and often challenging  information. This communication practice, in my work setting, is to help me process what I’ve heard, and to help me leave the information in God’s capable hands.

This week I didn’t get the chance to debrief so I wrote instead. As I wrote down each experience a new realization came to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes, even when we are able to debrief with someone we are often still left with an unexplainable unsettledness deep inside. Why?

Even when the hearer is listening, a part of the speaker’s heart is never heard. I am not saying those whom I have talked to in the past have not heard me. I am not saying those who have talked to me have not been heard. I am realizing that as mere human beings, we are incapable of doing what only God can do. We cannot hear the heart. We hear sound bites only.

As I watch my adult children growing and learning and developing in their unique vocations I see a similar frustration across the board. We are family. We have genetic commonalities, personality similarities. Our faith heritage contributes to the way we experience this world as well. But despite our kinship, as we come together to share our deepest concerns, there can still be unseen tension. This tension or inner frustration isn’t because we don’t love each other. It exists because we cannot hear one another’s hearts like only God can.

No matter how much we love each other, there is a limit to our hearing and our understanding. I often think of this song lyric “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus….”

If I could give my husband anything, if I could give my children anything, if I could give my friends anything – it would be these words:

When no one understands debrief with God – He hears your heart.

Better still, before we look for someone to understand – go to God first.

Even Adults Aren’t Grown Ups

Disappointment…

I can remember the first time I realized that even adults aren’t grown ups.

For a long time I couldn’t understand why people older than myself were treating one another so poorly. Didn’t they know better?

As a child I began to see that one’s past could very well have something to do with present behaviours. That realization helped me to develop a compassion. I began to separate the behaviour from the person, albeit not all the time.

When that exercise fell short I came face to face with my need for divine intervention. I needed someone who could give me strength and wisdom beyond my human capabilities, someone who could help me forgive others for their short-comings, and someone who could help me forgive me for mine. I needed God, and believed He wanted to help.

With God’s help I am growing up more every day. I want to be an adult that my children and grand-children can look up to.

“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”(Romans 5:5)

 

 

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 II

I saw the lovely trio skipping down the street one Saturday morning. More like the little ones were skipping, while dragging their mom along behind. I’m not sure how we struck up a conversation. She was asking for something in particular and I must have thought I could help. I set a time with her to come by her place.

She had given me her number and I called first. The morning it worked for me to go for a visit the sky was overcast and grey. Most of the snow had melted but the earth looked like a dirty carpet. I could hear the brittle ice snap, crackle and pop under my shoes as I approached her building.

I rounded the corner in the sidewalk, and thought I saw God’s little angels painting the earth white again. They were dressed in nothing but summer lace crinolines and black rubber boots. They were hopping on the tiny patches of ice left over from yesterday’s melt, and giggling with glee each time a new crack cried out. They didn’t notice me at first, but I saw the door to their apartment wide open, flapping in a north wind. I could see their breath crystals in the air, and I could see mine.

Quickly, but gently I introduced myself and scurried them inside. Thankfully they remembered my face from our previous brief encounter. Their mother was on the phone, standing at the end of the stairwell. I could hear her deflecting verbal punches from who knows who on the other end of the line.

I glanced to the right where nothing but a large mattress lay on the living room floor. My eyes dared glance to the left where a years worth of dishes and dried food decorated the kitchen counter. Their Momma looked up from the phone, smiled and waved me in to sit down.

I can’t remember what it was I was doing there, but the memories of that morning never fade, and the words we shared gave more insight into her world. Here is the second verse to yesterday’s song “All We Need”.

Winter’s arrived, I find her girls out in their dresses

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The look she wears can make you question how she stresses

She married far too young and craved herself a family

Only to starve to death from the silence inside

She’d never harm a flea, but she’ll break on empty

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 is the all too familiar – calamity.

Where do we find this kind of love?

How do we grow this kind of love?

How can we be this kind of love?

All we need, all we need, all we need is to be loved.

©Cindy Palin November 2005

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.

Melodic Words & Run Away _____.

My mother use to sing to me every morning, “Good morning Mary Sunshine, what makes you wake so soon…..”, and I carried on the tradition. Music has played such a large part in our lives. We’ve gone from singing in the kitchen and playing “name that tune”, to four part harmony after dinner, to my children falling asleep to my late night songwriting escapades. As our children got older they dug out their Dad’s record collection, and listened to him rave about rock concerts.

So you think making up songs to help my grand-daughter eat her turkey soup would come as no surprise. Then there was our breakfast ditty so little Willow would eat her breakfast. “Bread gets toasted, eggs get fried, bacon’s roasted, the fruit is dried, but it all takes time, it all takes time, please and thank you mom/dad for breakfast time.” ©cindy palin

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As our mealtime songs progressed I got the idea to record some of them on my   phone, which then birthed the idea of possibly writing them in a songbook for toddlers who don’t like to eat (which is just about every toddler on the planet), because there is just too many things to do other than sit still and eat.

Spending time with my grand-children over the holidays has really got the creative juices flowing, even changing diapers this morning proved to be inspirational. When my grand-son Thorin kicked and squirmed and sent a turd rolling off of the change table I couldn’t help but think of “On top of Spagetti”, where someone sneezed and sent the meatball rolling. I know the correlation is a bit of a stretch, but I can see Robert Munsch pulling off a run away turd story rather nicely.

But perhaps I will instead……

Looks like my New Year will be full of some exciting writing challenges!

Winter’s Gift

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We drove through a frosted postcard, with trees dressed in their choral gowns, and the mountains draped in evergreen. Fresh streams hung frozen from rock faces creating tears of teal glass, and white woolen snow on winter’s breath, swirled and danced around us.

It was the day before Christmas Eve, and we stopped for the night at an Inn. There was room for us. The snow was falling hard, and rather than peer at the magic through our room’s window we bundled up and went in search of wrapping paper. Neither one of us had our winter boots on, and our shoes were disappearing in a foot of snow. When we reached a recently shovelled sidewalk, we slipped and slid as if on skates, from the ice beneath the snow’s crust. But it was peaceful, and dark except for the streetlight’s glow and winter’s gift.

We purchased our paper and trundled off back the way we’d come. Distant hums and whines of snowplows and sanding trucks lulled us to sleep, and thankfully bad dreams of closed road signs were not to be realized.

At morning’s light we drove further, and deeper, and higher into the magic of winter, with anticipation of something far greater than the wonder all around us – the wonder of a child, two in fact.

At times our tires crawled with the crunch of the snow beneath, and at times our engine purred as we descended mountain tops. We reached the Ferry at Horseshoe Bay early Christmas Eve, and quietly ached for a place on board. One by one the cars started rolling forward. We were near the end of the line, and we held our breath.

Moments later we had crossed the Straight of Georgia, and were surrounded by one of God’s most miraculous gifts – our children and grandchildren.