Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind?

In 1977 “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” hit the big screen. The title means humans observing aliens. This past weekend when I traveled to the coast and back I had the experience of “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind”, which stands for humans observing humans.

There was the intoxicated fellow of asian descent who wanted to butt in front of me in the boarding line-up at YYC. I knew he had missed his Zone 1 cue, because he stayed too long at the bar. His pungent breath gave him away. I let him in. I was amused with his greying pony tail. Why is it men think a pony tail or top knot is cool?

Then came the ever so late stewardess who dramatically arrived behind me in in the security line up.  Her exaggerated watch glancing, toe tapping, and head poking up and over the conveyer like a spastic gopher, got under my skin. She would inch forward, and I would inch forward, and she would huff again. “Tough time in traffic?” I wanted to ask. “Bad case of asthma?” The lady in front of me was so kind, and let the frantic stewardess run ahead. She could have asked, rather than play charades. Secretly I hoped when she walked through the full body scanner, Scotty from Star Trek would beam her up to another planet. Poof!

I couldn’t forget the red neck from the outskirts of Saskatoon, sitting behind me on the plane, who insulted the fellow coming down the isle to sit right next to him. Ole’ Red Neck blurted out “Look Martha, why do we always get someone REALLY BIG sitting next to us?” Thankfully for Red Neck, the Big Fella was very kind and didn’t use Mr. ‘mouth piece’ as a seat cushion. And to clarify Big Fella wasn’t big at all, he was tall.

On my way back to Vancouver there was a man waiting to board the Ferry at Langdale Station, who told a little girl in her stroller, to pull up her pants and say ‘no’ to crack. What was he thinking? His remarks were highly inappropriate! I was stunned. There are those people who should think twice about opening their mouths in public. Her mother did not respond, but stared off into the distance. If it had been my little girl the stranger was speaking to, I would have stuffed him in a crack between the board walk.

I spied a ‘stick figure of a man’ wearing blue jeans, a lumberjack vest, and a toque, carrying nothing but a plastic shopping bag. When we boarded the Ferry he disappeared, only to appear next to me in the elevator. I wasn’t sure  which button to push to get us to the passenger deck, so I asked for help. He pushed a button and then turned to me and said “I have bad teeth…..and lung cancer”. “I am so sorry” I replied. “It’s okay, I smoke, but I am trying to quit”. It took a few seconds for me to recognize an opportunity for prayer, but the elevator door opened, and he was gone. After lunch I went to find him, before he threw himself overboard. I spotted him talking to another perfect stranger, only this time letting him know he was “paramilitary, and he didn’t like killing people, because of what it does to your insides.”

I found a place to sit on the warm side of the sun deck, just out of the wind. Along came a woman wearing a kid’s polka dotted blanket for a scarf, over a khaki rain coat, wearing floral rubber boots, with her pants tucked inside. She waddled, kind of sort of, or maybe that was the wind. I thought her idea of walking was better than my sitting, so I got up and circled the deck.

I noticed a charming down syndrome man who road the 257 Express from Horseshoe Bay to downtown Vancouver. He tried to talk to the lady next to him, but she said she couldn’t understand him. I could, and I was sitting across the isle.

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I hid behind my sun glasses and watched. He removed his hat and glasses and rubbed his face, then ran his fingers through his hair. He eventually moved closer to a young woman, who had a large tiger patterned suitcase. He told her he liked her suitcase, and reached out to touch it. She nodded, then quickly turned away. Every once and a while a ball of white would protrude from his lips, and my stomach would turn, thinking it was saliva and spit. Turned out it was gum.  I couldn’t help but think he was very courageous. Who did he belong to? Was it hard for them to let him ride the bus alone? Was he ever greeted warmly?

To my disgust I witnessed a very tall elderly gentleman ‘hack a lube’ (is this even the way you spell it?), on the skyline pathway, a few feet away from me. I almost threw up right then and there, but miraculously held my breath. I concluded he had probably been an orphan his whole life, with no mother to teach him manners. He was dressed like a businessman, with the behaviours of a barbarian.

Once I got seated on the Sky Train at Canada Line Station, I witnessed a middle aged man come running through the open door. His lips were pursed and he was making an odd breathing sound like a woman in labor. Once he was seated he continued to furiously push his air in and out loudly, his lips never changing shape. I quickly scanned his person for a backpack, a bomb, a terrorist? He pulled out a piece of paper and nervously flapped it around. He rocked back and forth in his seat. After some time I realized he may be mentally challenged in some way, but very brave, and able to navigate to his next stop. He took his backpack with him. Whew!

I was almost home, plane touched down and I paused from observing the human race, and looked into my heart instead. I asked myself “Do I love my fellowman without measure?”

My “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind” made me realize something astounding. God is amazing. He loves us all without measure. He loves the drunks, the tardy. He loves those who put both feet in their mouth. He loves those who are sick and hurting, and those who commit fashion suicide. There is no intellectual prerequisite for God’s love. He loves those who mind their manners and those who are socially inept. He even loves me, which ever category I find myself in at the moment.

 

 

 

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The Pretty Things or Jesus?

While walking to a meeting this morning my thoughts drifted to a relative who seems to have traded the faith of her youth (in Christ Jesus), for the moon and the stars.  I’m not sure what happened. I think of the verse in Galatians 5:7b “…who cut in on your to keep you from obeying the truth?”

I’m reminded of history, where Israel was rescued from the Egyptians by the hand of God, and in a short span of time – were complaining about the desert and worshipping idols.

Why is it some will be rescued and seek to know their rescuer deeper, while others will be rescued and tire of His faithfulness? I believe God can give us the gift of faith, a desire to seek Him more. As I get older I thank him for his mercy, and pray that I will not wander off after some pretty, empty thing…..

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The Pretty Things

Vs 1. You can sway, you can swoon, you can stare at the moon

but I know the one who hung it for you.

Can’t you hear him calling for you now?

But it’s all about the pretty things, the sound of your voice analyzing.

Your heroes wear capes, and the cross is passe – hey,

I’ll take Jesus any day.

Vs 2. You can gaze at the stars, read your horoscope charts

but I know the one who knew your birthday

long before your parents said hello.

But it’s all about the pretty things, your ideas advancing.

Let your heroes parade, there’s no room for a grave, hey,

I’ll take Jesus anyway.

Chorus: When tradition falls hard, and contrition fades

I will not be alarmed, He predicted today

When the moon waxes cold and your magic is frayed

Lay your pretty things down and pray.

Vs 3. You can question the truth, you can trust in your youth

but I know that somewhere in the middle

everyone plays second fiddle soon.

Well I highly doubt the pretty things, it’s all about the meaning,

and the life that He gave when the stone rolled away, hey,

I’ll take Jesus any day.

©Cindy Palin, September 29th, 2017

Scriptures you may want to read: Mark 13, Colossians 2:6-9

 

 

His Bride

Last night I couldn’t sleep, and decided to watch a “no brainer” kind of movie. Some of the subliminal messages kept rippling in the rain this morning. I got my coat on, and went for a walk in a nearby park. Nothing like a stroll in the fresh autumn air to turn our eyes towards our creator. His light illuminates the beautiful truth.

As I shuffled through the dying leaves my mouth couldn’t help but smile. I felt so glad to be alive. In my moment of gratitude words came out of my mouth, words that brought the dilemma of this dying world, and the promise of life to light.

Some of these words may not be understood without an understanding of scripture. If you have questions about some of the terminology, make sure you ask them. Find someone who owns a Bible and dig in.

This song is a message for those who believe, and yet doubt in God’s power. How many times have I prayed for someone’s relief, and doubted it may happen? This song is a message for those who believe, but have forgotten where they’ve come from. This is a song of conviction, and of hope, and a song to soothe the weary caregiver’s heart (Gal. 6:9).

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His Bride

Verse 1.

She comes and goes in different colours. She changes clothes but underneath,

the sound of axes in the forest remind us all about the thief.

Her yesterdays keep on repeating, despite the prayers upon our lips.

But if He’s given us tomorrow, there’s still a hope that she’ll be His.

Chorus:

So bend your knees all God’s children, arm for battle, sound the cry.

And do not weary of your mission until this daughter is His Bride.

Verse 2.

We come and go in different colours, we wear your robe but underneath

our accusations of each other bring us so humbly to your feet.

And under grace our hearts keep beating, your ceaseless prayers have called us forth.

And while we’re certain of tomorrow, there are still more who will be yours.

Chorus:

So bend your knees all God’s children, arm for battle, sound the cry.

And do not weary of your mission until this daughter is His Bride.

©Cindy Palin, September 22nd, 2017

The Conversation Has to Happen (2017) Review

Quote from Juliette Lewis

I want to personally thank Andrea Hawiuk and Friends for the generous and informative conference on Depression and Suicide, The Conversation Has to Happen (2017). Every story shared offered new insight for those suffering, and those suffering along side of. Thank you also for inviting several of the agencies in Olds to participate through a showcase in the Pomeroy Inn and Suites Foyer.

 

I was moved by Rev. Dr. John Pentland when he humbly introduced a friend to share about the loss of her Son Ty. I was also very inspired by John’s response to “Thirteen Reasons Why“. I want to follow his practice of writing thirteen nuggets of wisdom to encourage our children to embrace life.

I was in agreement with Mike Ryan when he brought our attention to society’s different treatment towards alcohol versus drugs. They both alter our mental state.

Jim Marland and his program Can Praxis is ingenious and so necessary for veterans and first responders.

Dr. Jody Carrington’s choice of videos were helpful in teaching us how to connect with one another.

Thank you Rick More, and family for sharing your story about Lindsey, and the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation.

Terry Coles – thank you for your honesty and humility. Blessed to have heard your story.

One particular topic that was not discussed at great length was how some of our cultural entertainment trends are catalysts for further suffering. Violence, death, and fantasy, all contributing to darker mood swings, and often times an unrealistic view of life.

Thanks to Wayne McCracken and Don Matchullis, very tasteful touch with the musical choices.

 

Cindy Palin – Director of CAPCC – Olds Location

 

 

 

 

Back to School – To the Finish Line

This morning I have enjoyed looking at pictures of friends’ children all dressed up to go back to school. Oh what memories I have of those days, not only of my own children going back to school, but what it was like for me. As I pondered some of those memories I realized the ‘back to school’ phenomenon is still a thing for me, and will likely continue to be – for the next two years.

One of my greatest joys, once our youngest child had left the nest, was to go back to school. I had several reasons for my decision. I didn’t want to wallow in an empty house.  I wanted to learn something new, but most importantly I wanted to grow in my faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Word. When I graduated from High School I was not in the mindset of wanting to attend a Bible College. Today I am.

I am an online Canvas student with Briercrest Seminary and College. They are situated in Caronport, Saskatchewan.  Because of my work, and day to day responsibilities I am only able to take one course at a time, rather than delve into the whole program at once. I usually register in the fall, and the course time frame varies.

Currently I have registered for BLST 230, Paul and His Letters.

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I believe staying in the Word helps us gain the wisdom we need as individuals, for our marriages, and as parents, no matter how old our children are. Staying in the Word is going to get me across the finish line of faith, and give my children continued hope in a confusing world.

Who knows, perhaps some of the truths that stand out over the next six months will be shared here in my blog.

Are you interested in going back to school? What stage of life do you find yourself in? Perhaps raising your little ones is the school you are in right now,? That my friend is a challenging curriculum, one in which God’s Word can certainly shed some light.

 

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

The Best of All He Is

Our daughter is about to leave for full-time missions. It may sound silly but I smiled as I pulled the stale waffles out of the refrigerator. They are summer memories of three of our adult children in the kitchen eating one of their favourite foods.

We were saving them to toast, but forgot them in the back of the top shelf. Now I fear they may choke the toaster.

As I dump them out of their plastic storage bag, I can hear my daughter downstairs, stuffing her duffle bag full.

What have we gotten rid of in our lives in order to pour into our children, the very best of all He is?

Life is full of object lessons. Life is a series of getting rid of the garbage and filling our souls with nutrients.

“Train up a child in the way he should go…..” Prov. 22:6

Ephesians 4:22 – 24, setting aside the old life and being renewed.

Grant my children godly discernment and wisdom to know not what, but whom to hold onto.

 

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.

Who Do You DEPEND on when CHANGE is at your Door?

I have learned that no matter what I face I am never alone. When my parents were going through a divorce and my new husband couldn’t relate to my heartbreak, God could.

When my children left for kindergarten, then graduated, and one has married, no one could get inside of my heart and hold me like God could, and still does.

Now I am facing the third or fourth season of watching our youngest leave for missions, our second born leave for the sixth time for yet another skating tour – a second time in Europe. Our eldest and her husband moved to a different province a year ago this past April, with our two little grandchildren.

Who holds us together when everybody leaves? God does. I constantly turn to God’s Word and read the stories of those who have gone before me, and how God sustained them when they faced change and loneliness. The time I do not have with my family – is time for me to pray for them, and time for me to live a life of example.

Every change, every tearing, all the comings and goings in this world are opportunities for us to watch God’s faithfulness at work.

When it comes to our children leaving the nest, sometimes we can let the tearing overshadow the growth. Rather than focusing on the change, or the empty space, why not focus on the new strengths you see your adult children developing? Why not focus on the new skills they are acquiring? Take a minute and reflect on how you too are growing through it all.

I admire how all of our children are leaders. Each of them have a leadership position of some kind. In some ways I could say their Dad and I have raised strong independent people, but I give the credit to God. There is one thing I want us, and them to never forget…don’t be so independent you forget to depend on God. He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). You would do well to read the entire context of that chapter to see what kind of change Israel was facing.

It is very easy to talk to God about how our lives radically change over the years. Just find a quiet spot and call on his name. Ask him to reveal himself to you. Ask him to speak to you. Tell him how you are doing, and what you need help with. Wait for answers in the stillness of the night, or the quiet of the morning. Don’t look to the world for the wisdom that only God can give. Don’t turn to the right or the left (Deut. 5:32, 28:14), comparing your life with others perhaps? Don’t reach for the first thing that numbs your pain. Focus on His truth. Watch for Him to show up in the most miraculous of ways.

 

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:)