One of the Chosen

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I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.

How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.

And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)

Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).

How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?

What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26

These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.

I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.

“One of the Chosen” first draft

Verse: 1

I find myself dreamin’ from time to time,

how destiny called this heart of mine.

I hear the soft shuffle of sandals in sand

and reach out to take his hand.

His voice is familiar but I don’t know why,

He asks me to leave all I’ve known behind

I follow his footprints, and the Sea disappears

I awake to find I am here.

Chorus:

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To take up my cross, to give up my life

I am One of the chosen the body of Christ

Verse Two:

I think of Stephen summoned to speak

The surge of the Spirit and the crowd at his feet

The smell of the dirt mixed with his dried blood

the stones where he once stood

And that voice so familiar saying ‘well done’

Christ in the clouds at the right hand of God

Stephen closes his eyes, and the world disappears

I know why I am here

Chorus:

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish my life

I am One of the chosen, the body of Christ

Bridge:

We are the chosen the body of Christ

Few are called indeed

May we follow our Lord with all His might

and reveal this mystery

Congregational Choruses

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To carry our cross, to give Him our lives

We are the chosen, the body of Christ

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish our lives

We are the chosen the body of Christ

©Cindy Palin/June 9, 2017

The Promise

I awoke this a.m. and found it hard to get going. The sun helped. My warm bath soothed. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to begin a new day with the right attitude.

I flipped through some old songs and found a worship chorus I wrote back in two thousand and four. It made me think of my Grandmother who told me, “the best time to be thankful is when you don’t feel like it.”

“And how do you do that” I asked her.

“Choose an attitude of praise” she replied.

So I took the song “I Will Hold to Your Promise”, and went down memory lane, out loud, at the piano.

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I confess with my mouth

I believe with my heart now

I accept your gift of love

take my sin to the west

throw it over your shoulder

cover me and lift me up

I will hold to the promise

I will see you one day

I will hold to the promise you have made,

my Lord

I will hold to the promise

I will see you one day

I will hold to the promise you have made

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

“Promise” is a beautiful word. God has promised to forgive of us of our sins, to be in relationship with us, and to return for us one day.

Suggested reading 2nd Peter, chapter 3 – The Day of the Lord.

Our Past Does Not Define Us

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lyrics by Cindy Palin

Sweet Mercy

Emerging from a long line of sorrow and of rage

Curious as a child, who invited it to stay?

Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies

Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.

Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair

The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there

Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might

Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night

And where the rage died, the peace grew

And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through

Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy

The lineage of hatred determines not your name

The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim

Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time

Sweet mercy has another plan in mind

My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14

Song written by ©Cindy Palin/November 22/06

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.

 

 

WATERFALL

The song came before the picture, but one of my favourite lines….”if there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’, you’re my waterfall, fill me again.

Standing in a waterfall means all you can see and feel, and hear is the water. Many times life’s circumstances swirl around us and drain us dry. How can we keep a healthy perspective? I suggest you stand in the waterfall…..and for me that waterfall is God. David talks about great grief being swept over him in the waterfall, in the deep, in the waves (Psalm 42:7). But I see God’s waterfall as place of strength, standing on the rock, surrounded by His presence. The water not sweeping me away, but filling me with His truth.

WATERFALL

I’ve been here before, not so long ago

Almost missed the signs, now I know, I know

The sky can be blue, the wind can blow wide

But without you here, I’m desert dry

Gotta hear your voice before birds sing

Gotta say your name, as you grow these wings

If there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’

You’re my waterfall, fill me again

I will live by faith and not by sight

Where you roar is great, and the world’s dark night

is a shadow small, and a moment’s pain

You’re my waterfall, fill me again.

Worry’s at my door, thinking he’s at home

Sometimes he gets in, but it’s not for long

He stirs up the storm to empty and drain

But in the waterfall – I will remain

lyrics and music by Cindy Palin @Feb. 9, 2017 All Rights Reserved

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!

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.

 

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.