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Stick Your Neck Out

Imagine the world’s main populace hanging out on one ol’ filthy couch, comfortable, and unwilling to budge regardless of who may be needing help. This is the image that I had when I wrote this song last night. I’ve been very aware of a great deal of young people warring with suicidal thoughts, and a great deal of grown ups not sure of what to say… It is okay to pause before we leap, but we must leap for humanity’s sake.

Gotta bone to pick with this indifferent populace.
How many lives will comfort cost this time?
You don't know him well,
but when he's dead, how do you tell
him you care?
Don't give me unfair!
Let's just grow up here!
Get off that stupid couch and stick your neck out.
Why don't you stick your neck out?

I'm a home sick for an indulgent kind o' fix,
where people try to love with all their might.
I don't know you well,
but just in case I wanna tell
you I care.
The world can laugh at me,
reject my empathy.
I'm up and off this couch,
to stick my neck out.
I'm gonna stick my neck out.

Someday the measure stick will break.
Someday the hungry will not ache.
Someday the rich and poor will shout,
we're up and off this filthy couch.
We're gonna stick our neck out,
Come on and stick your neck out!

©music and lyrics by Cindy Palin March 15, 2019
All Rights Reserved
Registered with SOCAN
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Daughter of Zion

Reading in John 12:12-19, 40 Days of Decrease Study by Alicia Britt Chole

Why a donkey I wondered? Humility and peace. Why the palm branches?Triumph and victory. They came to the processional because they had seen the signs. They wanted a King, but were not expecting a Saviour.

Their demands for Kings in the Old Testament pages, was an earthly fix. But a Saviour for the soul? An eternal remedy.

Every Easter season I revisit a song I wrote years ago called: Daughter of Zion. I have linked a chord sheet and will post a sound sample as well.

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Pondering the Prologue

Reading 40 Days of Decrease.

Even as I ponder the prologue, it is through tears. How often have we mourned over loss, and not considered the losses Christ faced?

“He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years” Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease.

I wept when I read that line. I think of my earthly father, now gone. I think of our loved ones across the miles that we cannot see anytime we want to.

And Jesus knows what that ache feels like.

I am excited to begin this journey. If you haven’t heard of this book be sure to visit the trailer above.

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Two Equations, Two Kinds of Wisdom

Praying for wisdom in someone’s life today, and as I contemplated their approach to life, two equations came to mind.

  1. Surrender = Life
  2. Control = Death

When we strive in our own strength, we are really trusting in ourselves, not God. To trust in ourself is to deny God His rightful place in our life, that is if we understand what it means to invite him in. To believe we can conquer with God’s help, is wisdom. To trust in ourself is wearisome.

  1. With God = Wisdom
  2. Without = Weary

I was reading in ‘Old Testament Wisdom Literature’, by O’Dowd and Bartholomew, where they speak of C.S. Lewis and his understanding of the modern day Christian’s idea of wisdom.

We have the head knowledge, much like Qohelet in the book of Eclesiastes, but to gain true wisdom, we must surrender to God’s process. C.S. Lewis helps us picture this process starting with a small cottage. We are thrilled God has come to live there, but when he starts to “knock walls down and reconstruct the house we are far less happy about his presence.”*

Last night I wanted to find some stretching exercises on the internet. I opened up the first file I found. It contained some yoga stretches without a lot of their verbal theology, however I smiled when I heard the young woman say, “now determine your intentions for the day.”

I choose life, I choose wisdom, and so determine to surrender to God’s intentions, and His plan. He’s been knocking down my walls for a while, can’t imagine He’ll stop until He’s finished.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21)

*C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Glasgow: Fount Paperbacks, 1977), p. 172

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This is what it means to have LIFE TO THE FULL

When I was in High School I dreamt of being a top notch student and working at a great job, and being part of the student council, having a cool boyfriend, and achieving all around success.

Later in life I found my long lost report card and read it. Apparently my top notch marks were in fact, a dream. I did get a job when I was sixteen but I was ill suited for it. My employers were very sweet just the same. I never did get to be on any student council, because I was too busy hoping there was counsel for my family. I had a boyfriend, but I wouldn’t say he was cool, more like predatory. So much for success.

But the full life I dreamt of then was a seed, a glimmer of hope of the joy I celebrate today. If we learn from our mistakes we are all the better for it. I couldn’t celebrate this full life I have without giving credit to the author, and the finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).

There are those who believe faith is for the weak, but this weak is wise (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

So here’s to wisdom, to eventually learning to choose wisely, enjoying a wonderful husband, our incredible gifted children, our two extraordinary grandchildren, our health, our home, work for our hands, and joy in our hearts. So this is what it means to have life to the full (John 10:10).

..and it is all because of HIm. It is all about trusting Him, no matter what anyone else says. He is the one who made us, and He is the one who knows who we really are, and what we really need to experience life to the full.

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Story behind the Story

We had the opportunity to take in “Mary Poppins Returns” this year. It was a delight. I couldn’t help but realize there was a story behind the story. Someone in real life, a long time a go, found themselves in financial stress, and a Chimney Sweep and a magical Nanny appeared to help them cope.

Take the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” for example, a fellow who daydreams to cope with his reality. This is another movie worth seeing, if at least to help you identify why and when you ‘walter’.

After Face-time with my grandchildren, who live approximately 671 miles away, I began to daydream or ‘walter’. How I could accept their invitation to tea when they lived so far away? Well I can’t tell you what happens next but in May of 2019 you can read it for yourself.

Thanks to Word Alive Press (Publisher) and Desiree Tomkow (Illustrator).

Speaking of ‘story behind the story’, this is me reading before I could write.

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Expectations at Christmas Time

What are your expectations at Christmas time? A better question may be, “What were Mary’s expectations at the time of Christ’s birth?”

Considering what happened all those years ago can help us gain perspective. We are told many times through scripture and from the pulpit of Mary’s situation, but for Mothers in particular – this deserves another look.

Why? Because we mother’s, even humankind as a whole, have a commonality to behold. We all worry about what other people think. Read (1 Samuel 16:7).

We want our families to look perfect and act perfect, when we know that is not realistic. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:23).

We fuss over the house, the food, the sleeping arrangements, when Mary had none of these options. We mourn over those children who do not share the faith anymore, but then we read not all of Jesus’ brothers believed (John 7:5). And we can assume quite reliably that the siblings did not always get a long.

We want all of our family together at Christmas time, and especially shining radiantly in the pew beside us, but the shortcomings we focus on make us feel out of place, perhaps even condemned?

Mary felt condemned. Not many understood the miraculous birth of Christ. And as he grew older, the rumours of who Jesus’ real Father was, still rumbled.

Mary’s focus had to be on what she believed in, not what was happening all around her, and certainly not on what people were saying.

As a mother of diverse children who are all on a journey to test their faith and make it their own, or not – my focus this Christmas is on my relationship with Jesus, and the purposes He has for me to live out. Both my husband and I taught our children about Jesus while they were growing up underneath our roof. Now we teach our children through how we choose to live our lives, even after they’ve moved out.

It seems terrible to compare Mary’s suffering or even Christ’s suffering, to ours, but that is part of the why Christ came – to identify with us in every way (Heb. 4:15). As parents and children, there will be sufferings, and temptations of all kinds.

When you observe Jesus’ birth this Christmas ask Him to help you focus on Him, and not all of your (our, their) imperfections. When I see my brothers and sisters at church I am not thinking of their wayward children, or comparing my children to their godly offspring. I am not remembering how they fell yesterday, or how I fell last week. I am looking in their eyes as one child of God to another with faith and hope for our future because of what Jesus Christ’s birth came to accomplish.

Finally, if we can focus on what faith means “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1), we can TRUST instead of worrying. Mary chose to trust in God no matter what. She could have worried her whole life about her calling as a mother, her children’s paths, and appointments, about what her family looked like to everyone who lived around them, about how her children bonded, or didn’t bond, but instead she trusted God.

Even as I close I recognize a slight deviation from that trust, the temptation to add words to please everyone’s ear. Perhaps this sounds too fluffy, or maybe there’s not enough focus on character and consequence? How quickly we can get caught up in what is going on around us, and what we think people might be saying, and how we might adjust our lives to please someone else.

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Let Him In

Who is God to you? Is He a name you heard about at Sunday School? Maybe your Grandparents mentioned Him around the dinner table? Is He the character you saw played by Morgan Freeman in “Bruce Almighty”?

To some people God is a list of rules, that can never be kept.

To others God is a name they call on when life is very difficult.

And to others, God is a Father figure who has given up on them a long time ago because they just can’t seem to get their act together, whatever that means… 

…because no one has their act together.  You might think they do, but humankind measures and compares, and we all fall short.

Please don’t wait around until you have your life in perfect order before you let God in. Let Him in right now in the middle of this imperfect reality.

Let Him in despite what you have heard others say, despite what you decided yesterday. Let Him in even if you’re scared He might require something of you, even if it means someone might say “I told you so”.

He will help you get to know who He is, and who you really are, and give you the peace and direction you need to maneuver in this very strange place called life.

Let Him in.