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.

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

Religious Talk MINUS the GRACE

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This week I was witness to a grievous situation. Much is expected of those who represent Christ, and whom are vessels of his love. Scripture emphasizes that those in leadership, who teach, are judged more strictly (James 3:1). The every day tasks we share together must never overshadow the value of another man’s soul. Our projects, and dreams must always be tested by God’s Word, lest we get a head of Him, and trample all over His children in the process. Do we know the people we are leading? Have we bothered to take the time to get to know them? Have we heard their stories, or have we settled for warm bodies filling chairs, to make it look like we’re doing something right? Are our words reflecting Christ, or turning people away – for eternity?

My Untitled Song

When did your vision become the goal?

Who put the ‘holy cause’ before the soul?

History reveals that nothing’s changed,

still marching on – using His name.

Pushing agendas that are worldly sound?

Caring for others, but the numbers count?

No mystery here, a classic case,

religious talk minus the grace.

What were your reasons to believe?

What high and mighty dream got up your sleeve?

Today is all some people have

What face did they see looking back?

Adding a rule or two, to up the game?

When did your faith become more about fame?

Tomorrow comes, it’s not enough,

because religion isn’t love.

Words and music by Cindy Palin ©January 27, 2017 All Rights Reserved

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19).

 

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.

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Home Away from Home

They opened a black rod iron gate that faced the street, and in we rolled with our suitcases trailing behind, over the threshold into our home away from home, through a meeting room with white stacked chairs, and into a courtyard full of foliage.victoria-el-salvador

To the right is where a vehicle was parked each night, with two side doors, one for the vehicle to come and go, and one for us to enter and exit every day. To my left was a corridor where the men turned to their sleeping quarters, one big room with four bunk beds and three singles. These areas were tucked under the upstairs living quarters.

We women were instructed to go straight ahead and further in, past the parking on the right, and the men’s quarters, a counter and bathroom on the left – towards an outdoor washing station (where we would get our clothes washed throughout the week). The station was a flat stone surface where our friend would roll and knead the clothes with lye soap and water.

A few steps in towards the washing station was where the courtyard opened to El Salvador’s sky, with a myriad of tropical plants and vines. A sharp right past the greenery and a stand alone corner bathroom, and up three stairs. Another right turn up six or seven more steep steps, at least for we short ones. There was a railing I could hang onto, but I did so carefully so as not to disturb the precious vines clinging to the same. I noted how my friends, who were taller, seemed to take the stairs so effortlessly, and how I sometimes had to take two hops for every one, especially at the end of the day.

I loved how the stairwell shared the outside cinder block wall, and every time I reached the top I would pause and look out at the carpeted hills of green, and the place across the side street where a woman ground corn by hand. This spot also became Martin’s secret espionage station, where he would lie in wait to pummel our unsuspecting friends below with water balloons (all in good fun).

At the top of the stairs lay a row of three bedrooms, a bathroom, and then a fourth bedroom, each with single beds and bunks. The previously open eve of the roof had been sealed, perhaps to keep humans and bugs apart, or to keep us dry? Rumour had it the gecko’s liked to visit, but I never saw one. My roomy found one in the sink one morning and decided he got there first, thus her decision to brush her teeth in the shower. We were told about the gigantic bugs that resembled grasshoppers, and one of those clung to the outside of our bedroom door for most of the week. I named him Jiminy Cricket, but he never once mentioned Pinocchio.

The first couple of nights, when I awoke to use the bathroom, I would click on my flashlight and try to unlock our door as quietly as possible. I would then tip toe down the outdoor corridor hoping not to see the rumoured midnight cat robber, who came looking for bread. I’d reach my destination, jump inside and lock the door behind me, and then remind myself to breath. Every once and a while I would scold my brain for entertaining thoughts of some critter hiding behind the shower curtain.

At first, the thought of a nocturnal cat thief, snooping for bread, didn’t fizz me much, but we were soon told the said “cat” may not be your average house hold variety, but a jungle one instead? Someone may have been pulling our legs, but my quiet bathroom exits became louder in order to frighten any real threat away, hoping to keep any jungle cat from pulling my real leg.

I loved waking up to the sound of the rooster’s crow, even though their singing began around 3:00 a.m. Yes, there were several of them. Perhaps they were singing the traditional El Salvadorian welcome song? And then there were the birds that came to dance on our roof around 6:00 a.m. Perhaps they were concerned we may sleep in?

The clothes drying on the lines criss crossing the courtyard, and our railing every morning reminded me of my childhood, hanging out clothes on the farm. My eyes always drifted over the walls of the compound to a collage of red pines on yonder hill, and a ribbon of road that wound off into the distant jungle. It made me wonder what lie beyond, and conclude how big the world really is, and reel at the great deal of detail God put into Creation.

My home away from home reminded me of how much God truly cares about you and me.

“But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Some how the words “thank you” don’t quite say enough to God and our El Salvadorian hosts.

Gracias