My Paradise and Heaven

These past few days have carried heavy news to my heart, and the hearts of those I love. When I feel helpless to find comfort or bring comfort to others, I know where to hide. I cozy up on my Heavenly Father’s lap and close my eyes and let the tears fall. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God catches our tears in a bottle. He sees them. He feels our sorrow. He hears our prayers. And there in my hiding place I beckon you to climb up on his lap. There is room for you too.

My Paradise and Heaven

Dedicated to Amanda and her family, and to mine, and to ours together, as one day we will enjoy such sweet reunion.

Is He a mere three letter word, this God I put my trust in?

Is this presence that calms my fears, a ghost of my imagination?

Have the prayers I’ve prayed each day and night sailed into some abyss?

Have the tears I’ve cried, and all my sleepless nights gone unnoticed?

Is my reflection of pure peacefulness, a mask or a mirage?

Who then has quenched my thirst and grown my courage?

Who washed away my hopeless state, and turned my eyes upward?

There is a God my heart knows well, I take Him at His word.

Upon the wind, under the sun, the earth expounds His praise.

Shall I not too be wise to share His wonder all my days?

Is He a mere three letter word, this God I put my hope in?

He is my breath, my life and death, my paradise and heaven.

by Cindy Palin © August 24th, 2017

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:)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Blessed Be The Lamb

blessed be the lamb picBLESSED BE THE LAMB

“Knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  1 Peter 1:18-21 NASB

Although I recorded this song back in 2000, it amazes me how it continues to speak, and give direction, and hope. No matter what I face from day to day, knowing there is someone who can identify with my struggles in every way, brings me comfort. Knowing [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]I have a friend who has triumphed over death[/clickandtweet] brings me peace and joy beyond explanation. Reading God’s Word, and learning as to how he suffered, as a gentle perfect lamb, shows me how to endure hardships on this planet. Knowing He trusted God even when forsaken, I can trust him when my circumstances look bleak. Jesus knew his stay on earth would be short, but his sacrifice would last for all eternity. He is the Blessed Lamb, and I am blessed to be his child.

BLESSED BE THE LAMB

VERSE 1

What can man do unto my soul?

What can words take away?

Lift my eyes to the cross he chose,

this man bore my shame.

CHORUS

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Blessed be the Lamb who died[/clickandtweet] and spoke not a word,

silently he bore my sorrow.

Blessed be the child who cries and hopes in the Lord

Eternity is their tomorrow.

VERSE 2

How can love live among such hate?

How will I carry on?

Look to him who endured such pain,

silent and strong.

CHORUS

Music and Lyrics by Cindy Palin ©2000

Heaven Can Be Found – the story

babyfinalShe was seventeen when she died. My husband and I had babysat Sarah, and her two sisters when they were in elementary school. They moved away and we tried to keep in touch, but the distance didn’t change our adoration for them and their parents.

Time passed and we heard our friends were divorcing. One January, Mom and the girls took a trip skiing. On their way home there was a terrible accident and Sarah left our presence forever.

I remember when I got the phone call. I walked to the refrigerator and stared at their picture, until the weight of it all buckled my knees beneath me, and I slumped to the floor.

Soon after I was driving my children home from an errand and mumbling under my breath to God, about the accident. I was angry, and stopped at an intersection to wipe my tears.

“Are you sure you’re not just up there playing some game” I asked God.

“There probably isn’t even a heaven, we’re just pawns, expendable” I spewed.

In that same instant I looked in the rear view mirror as if the Holy Spirit had prompted me to do so. There was my youngest’s blue eyes blinking back at me. She looked like a porcelain doll. In the backseat my two oldest children, equally as wonderful, were playing.

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]”If I can give you these children, I can make a heaven”[/clickandtweet] I heard God whisper to my heart.

I got home and wrote this song…..Heaven Can Be Found ©Cindy Palin 1994

Sound sample only, full version available on iTunes.