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.

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:)

 

 

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

Growing or Just Planted?

Going on a holiday is all about finding rest – an internal rest. But even in those moments of almost complete abandonment, there is reflection.

-The joy in the sweet reunion with family and friends, and in the celebration of new and beautiful surroundings.

-The peace in the departure from focused routines and checklists.

-The opportunity to meditate on character, and relationships, and ample room for prayers of thanksgiving, for all the good God has done and continues to do.

There is space for questions, and re-evaluations about the place you are planted.

It would be absurd to think each time one bends towards the sun (a new destination), that one’s roots be moved as well.

Knowing we are rooted in God where ever we go is a holiday in itself.

But wondering….”are we growing where we’re planted, or are we just planted?” This is the question? This is the deep reflection and stirring in my heart.

After having had the privilege to sit in some SBS Bible classes at the YWAM base in Maroochydore, QLD, Australia, and witness their example – I’ve been challenged to learn more (Hebrews 5:12-13).

Is it to be accomplished here where we have settled into familiar soil? Are their ears to hear? Is their evidence of fruit? Does God have a new work for us here, or a work for us in a new field? Does God have a fresh wind, and refining fire for exactly where we are?

1 Peter 2:2 “like new born babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

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)

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Understanding the Times

 

Everyone is changing their mind, or getting on the band wagon, or losing conviction, or…..and the list goes on.

So she wrote her little song on a cold winter’s day,                                             tucked the tears in her heart, sent the music to play.                                                  To fly to Jesus like a bird on the wind,                                                                          He’s coming again someday.

She knows they have their reasons for drifting away,                                             ’cause she’s caught herself in seasons of dry bones,                                                  but a change of heart is different than changing your mind,                                and the road ahead looks more and more alone.

So she strums her little song on a sweet summer’s night,                                     holds His promises close, as her whispers take flight.                                             They fly to Jesus like a bird on the wind,                                                                     He’s coming again someday.

And she contemplates the choices, the give and the take.                                     She’s no stranger to the voices man is prone.                                                          She’ll change her mind on coffee, but anchor her heart                                           on the only One who’s going to lead her home.

The hours are fleeting, the daylight is but a glow on the sea.                                   And there’s a meeting she’s keeping, she sings –                                                       He’s coming for me.

So she sings His mighty song on the battlefield line,                                                with His sword in her hand and a victory cry.                                                        They fly to Jesus like a bird on the wind,                                                                   He’s coming again someday.

And she mourns the soldiers falling, the left and the right.                                     She hears the scoffers calling to her soul.                                                                    But her heart is pressing forward and leaving behind,                                            each word that stands against the truth she knows.

Cindy Palin ©July 2016 All Rights Reserved

   The other day my daughter and I were praying, and some of her words reminded me of how I usually pray at the piano and write… Above is a word picture of a songwriter’s heart contemplating the signs of the times, and the affects thereof.

And scripture tells us…

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:4-14 ESV).