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.

Summer Church Camp Saves

At the risk of sounding psycho, there is a dark force that keeps us from surrendering to that which is good for the soul.

SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for example. So many people excuse themselves from pinching pennies and marking calendars in order for their children to attend camp. I still regret that my husband and I did not make time for family camp!  I regret saving my pennies for other less important things.

There is also this frame of mind that creeps in and tells us that summer church camp is maybe just a little too churchy. We don’t want our kids to be too churchy do we?

When I was a child SUMMER CHURCH CAMP saved my life, or should I say that is where the ‘saving’ began? Thank you to my parents for allowing me to go. It was at summer church camp I was introduced to God’s love and truth, and a relationship that would never let me down.

Do you want your children to develop integrity? Do you want your children to understand the importance of friendship? Do you want your child to understand the importance of commitment? Would you like your child to become a leader in the community?  Do you want your children’s eyes to be opened to possibilities? Do you want your child to know there is someone who loves them, who will never let them down, who can transform them into a relational and faithful person?

Don’t let your earthly wisdom cloud your brain. Allowing your children to be taught about God is not forcing them to believe, but giving them an opportunity to choose. Allowing your children to be around other people who are seeking God’s goodness, is a positive and real experience. Real people working, and playing, and learning along side other real people in the midst of a myriad of issues, in an adventurous outdoor setting, away from the usual pressures of life.

Choose SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for your children, choose IT for yourself. Choose it for your family, and watch your joy multiply through the years!

1 Cor. 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom

Signed: Saved and proud to be churchy, happy, healthy and a leader in my community – Cindy Palin

P.S. I love you Jesus

 

Between the Lines

Often what we observe on the outside is not what is going on inside.

 

Between the Lines

Do you remember Joe, our neighbour to the right,

Who threw his dinner trays out into the night?

To litter his front door, but it meant so much more.

Talk about strange,

Talk about old,

Talk about saying goodbye.

 

I try hard to forget a buddy, boy – the man,

Who up and quit the fight, rather than take a stand.

Who traded joy for pain, his dignity for shame.

Talk about rage,

Talk about cold,

Talk about choosing to die.

 

Reading between the lines, sometimes more than I can bear.

Must I resort to tearing clothes and shouting in the air?

Talk about games,

Losing control,

Talk about living a lie!

 

She was a pretty girl, He was an easy take.

She knew he wasn’t right, but He believed in fate.

And once He saw her heart, She left him for the dark.

Talk about fake,

Talk about bold,

Talk about crumbling inside.

©Cindy Palin 2005/revised/2017

 

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

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

Who Walks the Recesses of the Deep

The stars, the stars above the waters. I looked up and out of the oval glass, then down to the blackness beneath. “God” my thoughts echoed into His silence, “I’m jammed in this metal tube, above your great expanse.” “But your spirit has wings” He answered instantly.

Reaching forward I found the flight information with a touch of the screen. We were still about five hours out of Brisbane. The ocean’s trenches and scattered islands off the east coast of Australia were identified. Seeing the features described made the Sea less foreboding, but no less deep.

“It had to be deep God, for You to compassionately hurl our sins there” another spirit thought spoke (Micah 7:19)

Saturday I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and still thinking about the ocean, “the sounds of Your breathing, the mist of Your nostrils, and yes, the depths of Your love.” I searched the web for those same “trench” names glowing on the airplane screen, instead I found a 3D map of the ocean floor, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-07/3d-map-of-australia-seafloor/5372132

I gazed at the swirls and globs of turquoise and teal clay on the map. I imagined Your hand reaching for Your magic dust. “Do You, the Master of the universe keep Your coloured paints in jars, or do you just think, and it appears?” It was You who first whispered the idea of colour, and their hints and hues into the world and our ears, as life burst forth from the womb.

“Do You have tools like we do, with wooden handles and sliver blades, to scrape the ocean floor and shape the underwater mountain ranges?” I asked and quickly scoffed at my question. “Of course not” I answered myself.

You trace the trenches with Your finger nails, and imprint the basins with the palm of Your hand!

My God, my God – who has “walked the recesses of the deep” Job 38:16.

 

 

 

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.

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

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).