Seasons come and seasons go, and every year the sight of snow threatens to paralyze my soul. Christmas finds me questioning your gifts of joy and suffering, and memories send me off in search of hope. I am weaker than most – You came to a manger. I am broken to the bone – You were pierced for a stranger. The past has left its mark – but Christmas heals the heart with memories of a child who offers hope. Hope is your child, Hope is your love, covering a multitude of memories that will never measure up. Seasons come and seasons go and every year should I get cold help the love you give me make a home. At times I might feel out of place, O but for your light of grace – every year you always offer hope. ©CindyPalin All Rights Reserved
We’ve all heard so many memes about not living in our past, but instead looking towards the future. I like to look back and remember just enough to see how far God has brought me. When self doubt starts to crowd in my thoughts I am careful not to waste any energy thinking about how I started in my faith journey, but instead I focus every thought on how I plan to finish – faithful.
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NIV).
“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV).
When you spend most of your time listening to those who are in major inner turmoil, that turmoil can manifest in your own mind. For those who believe in God’s Word, we understand we can sin in our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).
It is important not to be afraid or despair. If we confess our sin he will forgive and heal, and transform us (1 John 1:9). Part of this transformation is choosing to think on Him instead, and meditate on His Word (Psalm 19:14, Eph. 4:17-24).
Sometimes we believe that our confessing needs to be accompanied with some other sort of action. I have often struggled with asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over, and wondered “what else should I do?” I have questioned my sincerity. Do I have a penitent heart (Psalm 51:17)?
This morning I confessed to God out loud for my sinful thinking. For a moment I considered my confession to be insincere, because it was not accompanied with tears. However, I realized my lack of tears was not a sign of insincerity, but faith, and maturity. I had sinned in my thoughts. I obeyed God by confessing and I believe in His forgiveness. Confessional faith is a choice to move on in praise and service to my King as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
It is very important to recognize we are in a battle (Eph. 6:12).
We are going to sin (Romans 7:21 and 22).
We need to confess out loud to God and establish an accountability system (James 5:16a).
We need to ask for prayer (James 5:16b).
No show of grovelling or whining or anything else of our own strength is necessary (Eph. 2:8). What Christ accomplished on the cross for us is complete (Heb. 10:10-12).
We must press on (Phil. 3:13 – 14) – WITH JOY!
And remember if we are not able to see ourselves for who we really are, how can we help others?
Driving home from the U of C last Friday afternoon I caught a broadcast on the increasing mental health dilemma in our youth.
For sometime I have been quietly listening and observing our current daily practices in our culture. I believe our ability or inability to balance our lives is directly connected to our mental health. Recognizing or not recognizing the need for downtime should not be hinged on our age and generational background only, our personality traits must also be considered, as well as our spiritual beliefs and traditions.
For example for someone born at the very end of the Baby Boomer generation, one might conclude I don’t embrace technology therefore I am not plugged in 24/7, not cool, not hip, and live in slow motion. However I embrace technology and my addictive personality finds me fighting for mental balance among the fray – all of the time.
I attribute my mental health to cultivating my spiritual health. My ability to recognize when I am over stimulated or driven, or anxious comes from actively meditating on my relationship with Christ, and His Word. Might I suggest reading the Psalms, both the laments and the praises? It is a great way to contemplate injustice, sorrow, poverty, creation, beauty and nature, and realize humankind has faced similar problems and celebrations since the dawn of time. This truth reveals we are not alone, God can hear us, and He wants to comfort us and restore our minds.
If we are to navigate the overwhelming waters of our culture’s technology frenzy, we must make sure to schedule downtime for reflection and meditation, and genuine relationship.
The inability to go for a walk without a phone is a red flag. The inability to sit by the fire on a cold winter’s night without your computer is troublesome. Have you been watching a movie with your phone or i-pad in hand and feeling rather accomplished at your capacity for multitasking? Have you studied the advertising practices on television and recognized the same patterns? It isn’t enough to watch a movie anymore, you must have advertisements, and pop ups with even more information.
How often do you allow your conversation over coffee to be interrupted by your cell’s ringtone? Do you take all of your devices with you on a holiday? Are you one of those travelers who has to watch multiple movies? Do you take work home with you? Do you shut off unnecessary interruptions when you are studying? Ultimately we are overstimulating our brain. There is no longer an even flow of any one thought. Multiple chores and tasks are taken on at one time, with many left unfinished. We are stopping and starting like a beginner driver, or living from pop up to pop up.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not need to be plugged in 24/7. There have been studies done on teen stress due to having phones on all night. There are signs of loss of vocabulary, the inability to speak in full sentences. The emoji craze was fun for a fleeting second, but for some the world of texting and emojis have replaced reality, which can lead to an unrealistic craving for over sharing and drama. This drama can inadvertently change the atmosphere and attitude of your entire day, if it succeeds to pull you in.
Ever since the beginning of time we have been creating with the brains God has given us. However, when we leave God out of the picture our brains begin to hurt. We create, overstimulate and crash. Then we have to expend a ton of energy creating something else to fix the mess. Right now we are in that mess, and back paddling frantically to figure out how to help our brains heal.
God is the key to balancing our lives. God’s love, purpose and plan is the key to our mental health.
Today, if we are to take a real honest look at our nation, we have cause to mourn. By taking God out of our culture, our schools, our lives, our hearts and minds – we will continue to short out at breakneck speed. White noise here we come.
Contrary to the excruciating circumstances surrounding us at First Baptist, I awoke with such joy. I credit it to reading about our dear sister’s, and her family’s faith confession in the face of severe illness. They are still choosing to call God good, and so will I.
When I saw the rain outside my window this morning my heart leapt with joy. But my sister, how was she? As I went outside to work I paused, and looked up and welcomed the rain on my face. But my sister how was she? What ever she was experiencing, one thing was sure – her situation was reminding me of HIS gift called LIFE.
Strange how someone’s faithful posture in the face of uncertainty can lift so many hearts, and knit so many together.
Whether she is healed to spend more days on earth with us, or healed to enter heaven before me, my heart thanks her. In her suffering she has given more life to me than she’ll ever know, and has brought the promise of eternity closer.
And through the tears there is this unspeakable joy that cannot be explained. It is the Spirit bonding us together, whether near or far. It is the mystery of the Gospel calling us home and flooding us with HOPE.
Thank you my dear sister. You know well – God is still good.
The moment we let go of our NEED to have the LAST WORD,
is the moment we are HEARD.
The moment we let go of our NEED to be IN CHARGE,
is the moment we are given opportunity to LEAD.
The moment we recognize our NEED of GOD,
is the moment we lay down our DEMANDS,
and become BEAUTIFUL.
Cindy Palin ©Sept.9,2018
In reading further on leadership in the book Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby, my thoughts turned to our family life and our spouses. (This is more for those of us who are in a working and communicative marriage)
This may not be a popular message but it is one I believe in. Not only should we include our spouses in our decisions, we should be asking for their help as we make them, even if they disagree. We should be big enough to take their advice, and trust that there will be other opportunities down the road. In turn they will want to know what we think about their ideas, and welcome help with their decisions.
One of the most honoring and productive actions we can make for a healthy and fruitful future is to listen to our spouse and honor them by placing their ideas and needs before our own. I know, it sounds ‘old fashioned’, but life does run smoother. I believe in what God’s Word teaches us about our husband’s leadership role. Check out this link for a more extensive study on the role of a husband. https://www.allaboutgod.com/role-of-husband-in-the-bible.htm.
This leadership role is not only to guide us and assist us but to protect us from charging head on into something that will drag the family down, or pull the family apart.
I find it interesting how as little girls we dream of finding our Prince Charming, as young women we meet our Prince Charming, and then we marry and discard our Prince Charming in a inadvertent way, or literally.
Part of the reason for this abandonment is because we come to learn that Prince Charming isn’t always charming anymore. Well guess what? Neither is Cinderella that sweet. Another reason for this behavior is an unrealistic idea of what marriage is meant to be in the first place. Marriage is not a step-up to a solo career, it is signing up for a team sport.
So to recap on balancing our lives or collapsing them, how can we honor our husbands before we go running after the next best distraction?
People observing people… trying desperately to balance their lives. I wonder how many ‘balancing act’ courses exist? How many of these courses are able to teach us how to harmonize our chaotic schedules?
In seeking answers today, I came across a few articles that spoke about ‘plates being too full’. One author’s solution was to insist our vision was too small. “Get a bigger plate” he said. “O dear” is my rebuttal.
The trend today is to brag about how busy we are, but chaos should never be something we aspire to. Paul certainly had something to say about busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13). Don’t sign up to do more stuff simply because there are a plethora of choices.
I asked a colleague yesterday what her secret to balancing life was. She answered, “Ask Him”. Two very powerful words that we Christians can put into practice. Before signing our entire family up for our ‘culture craze’ way of living, let’s see what God wants. Jesus certainly was accountable to the Father. Christ’s short life on earth was purposeful and focused. He could have accomplished more, but instead He gloriously fulfilled his purpose. I have often reflected on how hard it must have been for him to restrain himself from healing everyone he met, just because he could.
While reading “Spiritual Leadership” by Henry and Richard Blackaby, I came across a paragraph that struck a chord. In brief they talk about a man who decided to climb Mount Everest simply because ‘IT WAS THERE’. Years later his body was discovered. He lost his life trying to achieve an unessential objective.
Isn’t that what we all experience at one time or another over the course of our lifetime? We embark upon the unnecessary, just because the opportunity is there, AND ‘balance’ continues to evade us. This is where the enemy of our soul wants us – running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off.
The Blackaby’s write, “why are you taking a particular action?” “What are the long term ramifications?” The authors conclude, “Those who impulsively charge forward will eventually collapse on their mountain, their efforts misspent.”
So let us revisit the “Ask Him”, and let us challenge one another to read God’s Word, and find out what He has to say in regards to balance.
Blackaby, Henry and Richard, Spiritual Leadership, B&H Publishing Group, 2011, pg 86, 87.
The next time you mess up, remember we serve a God who runs after our heart!
“Forever is Ours”
I get stuck in the ‘here and now’, although free of my past.
I forget forever is ours.
I can fret all I want to, but you pray for me.
I’m never too far from your arms.
than a friend who runs after my heart?
Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,
that your forgiveness only goes so far.
So I’m struck by your patience and freed by your truth.
Reminded forever is ours.
You purchased my soul, you’re not trading me in,
and you died to hold me in your arms.
Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,
than a friend who runs after my heart?
Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,
that your forgiveness only goes so far…
written in May of 2012 ©Cindy Palin
Psalm 103:12, Hebrews 10:17, Isaiah 1:18, Proverbs 18:24
We habitually sum up people at first glance, but listening is where it’s at. Today I kept listening. When something didn’t make sense I listened some more. I left work dragging my heels to the car, wearing all her words on my shoulders, but only temporarily.
As I drove home my spirit questioned God, and while I questioned answers began to formulate on my lips. I got in the door and went right to the piano…
“I’m here standing on the edge of the battlefield”
I know that is where I am supposed to be, fighting for others with God’s strength and wisdom.
“but let’s get real, it doesn’t look too good, you never said it would, and so I kneel” (John 16:33, Ephesians 6:18).
I continued to tell God what I saw…
“Right here, I survey the carnage of selfishness, it’s quite a mess, and yet the rose still blooms among the thorny tomb, and so I rise.”
I paused. Wasn’t Jesus telling me that he stood where I am a long time ago? And didn’t he find a way? And didn’t he rise from the dead? Was it not possible for myself and for others to get back up and keep on going, with His help? The key was to keep Him in focus and not the circumstances. As usual God was showing me a way through, not a way out, and not a way to feel sorry for myself or others, but a way to grasp the mystery of the Gospel-the truth.
“To life and all its imperfections, to live and suffer as you suffered, to love like there’s no tomorrow.”
So I didn’t have a quick fix for the dilemmas of the day, but I had something even more tangible – the love of God.
“You’re here pouring all your comfort and holiness upon our heads (John 14:16). O death where is thy sting (1 Cor. 15:55), O my Lord God and King and so I sing! And so I sing! To life and all its imperfections, to live and suffer as you suffered, to love like there’s no tomorrow.”
“Like There’s No Tomorrow”©Cindy Palin, July 17, 2018 Dedicated to all of His beloved who are struggling. Let us struggle side by side.