The Next Best DISTRACTION?

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?

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BALANCE or COLLAPSE, it’s your CHOICE.

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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 Saviour Complex

One of the most important life lessons – there is only one Saviour. No matter how justified or righteous we may feel, getting in the way of God is costly. Most often it happens because we think He is too slow. If we can just push the envelope, then that person will have the help they need. But will that help last?

God’s plan and His timing gets to the bottom of the barrel and illuminates the real problems that are preventing people from thriving. We have to get out of the way and learn to pray for the Holy Spirit to do the ‘deep’ work.. Then the mess is truly dealt with, and a firm foundation can be built for future generations.

Our Saviour complex is a bandaid approach that gives the appearance all is well, but it only makes us feel better temporarily. These thoughts in no way are to be used as an excuse to do nothing. Simply by asking Jesus to speak to you is the best place to start. And sometimes, like today, the best thing I can do is go to the piano, and listen.

“Run to the Rescue”

Sometimes you ask for just what you get

and wonder why life is so hard?

Layers of bandages fester regrets,

but lets you pretend who you are.

So you run to the rescue,

and help someone else make it right.

So keep telling yourself you’re the Saviour.

Keep pulling the ocean uphill.

Keep talking to God like he’s needing your favours,

and blaming Him when your plan fails.

I’ll love you in-spite of your blindness,

‘Cause he loves me in-spite of mine,

But what will it take to convince your Highness

playing God’s wasting your time.

Sometimes we’re standing in the truth zone,

and choose to get lost anyway.

Peeling our history back to the bone

is far too depressing to face.

So we run to the rescue

to help someone else find the light.

©Cindy Palin March 17th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

#metoo must go beyond

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Those who have vulnerably come forward and shared #metoo, know that this is just the beginning, but thank you.

There may be charges to be laid, and court dates to attend, as well as days and months, possibly even years of healing ahead. For those of us who can – forgiveness.

But let’s do more hard things and go beyond that initial transparency. What practical things can we do to educate, and protect our children, and the generations to come, from sexual assault and abuse? How can we change society?

As we all know, many of those coming forward in the beginning of this incredible movement, have been actors and actresses. Is it reasonable to ask that they petition their peers to turn down roles that promote sexual promiscuity and sexual violence? And what about the writers?

Can a film wishing to make a powerful statement about a sexual matter, say it without the skin?  Do we really need to see it all to understand what’s happened? Are there different ways to tell the story?

Is it reasonable for the consumer to boycott movies that promote sexual violence? If we know of someone who has been raped, should we be watching that kind of subject matter on television, or paying to go to that kind of a movie? We can’t blame Hollywood writers, if we keep showing up.

Should we be asking ourselves what kind of gaming we are involved in, and does it promote sexual abuse?

What kind of music are we listening to, and how do the people dress when performing that music on stage? What kind of sexual messages are they portraying? And how on earth did they get to that place where they thought they needed to dress a certain way to be heard? And what about our most impressionable audiences who are actually beginning to believe ‘sleaze’ is the norm? Do role models realize what they are responsible for?

How is our language evolving? Does the casual ‘f’ word sound so casual to someone who has been raped?  I know it doesn’t!

All of these questions and suggestions don’t even begin to address generational issues, but it is a way to go beyond the initial testimonial.

Those of you who have been sexually assaulted, including myself – we can make a difference for ourselves, our children and our future, by making counter culture choices. Our world is saturated with sexual propaganda, but we can see through it, can’t we?

Just as those of us who have come forward, have helped others come forward, we need to do the rest together as well. We need to keep coming forward and taking practical steps to go beyond.

Yesterday, on the radio, I heard about the long waiting lines for those seeking counsel. Please call your local Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre, who have trained client advocates able to listen for free, who will plug you in to further resources, and help you establish a support network. It is a confidential and safe place. One of their programs I have benefited from is called ‘Steps to Sexual Health’. They have a 24 hour help line: 1.844.343.1611 (Central Alberta Canada), or look online for a Pregnancy Care Centre near you.

www.pregnancycare.ca

 

 

 

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

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.

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:)

 

 

Even Adults Aren’t Grown Ups

Disappointment…

I can remember the first time I realized that even adults aren’t grown ups.

For a long time I couldn’t understand why people older than myself were treating one another so poorly. Didn’t they know better?

As a child I began to see that one’s past could very well have something to do with present behaviours. That realization helped me to develop a compassion. I began to separate the behaviour from the person, albeit not all the time.

When that exercise fell short I came face to face with my need for divine intervention. I needed someone who could give me strength and wisdom beyond my human capabilities, someone who could help me forgive others for their short-comings, and someone who could help me forgive me for mine. I needed God, and believed He wanted to help.

With God’s help I am growing up more every day. I want to be an adult that my children and grand-children can look up to.

“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”(Romans 5:5)

 

 

Moving Forward

The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.

Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.

Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.

Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.

Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.

*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.

If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.

Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.

We are cheering you on!

One of the Chosen

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I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.

How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.

And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)

Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).

How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?

What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26

These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.

I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.

“One of the Chosen” first draft

Verse: 1

I find myself dreamin’ from time to time,

how destiny called this heart of mine.

I hear the soft shuffle of sandals in sand

and reach out to take his hand.

His voice is familiar but I don’t know why,

He asks me to leave all I’ve known behind

I follow his footprints, and the Sea disappears

I awake to find I am here.

Chorus:

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To take up my cross, to give up my life

I am One of the chosen the body of Christ

Verse Two:

I think of Stephen summoned to speak

The surge of the Spirit and the crowd at his feet

The smell of the dirt mixed with his dried blood

the stones where he once stood

And that voice so familiar saying ‘well done’

Christ in the clouds at the right hand of God

Stephen closes his eyes, and the world disappears

I know why I am here

Chorus:

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish my life

I am One of the chosen, the body of Christ

Bridge:

We are the chosen the body of Christ

Few are called indeed

May we follow our Lord with all His might

and reveal this mystery

Congregational Choruses

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To carry our cross, to give Him our lives

We are the chosen, the body of Christ

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish our lives

We are the chosen the body of Christ

©Cindy Palin/June 9, 2017