Still Choosing to Call God Good

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.

free google images

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 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?

google free images

 

BALANCE or COLLAPSE, it’s your CHOICE.

Google Free Images

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 Gift

I was walking to work the other morning, one of our warmer mornings, and was thinking about our children across the miles.  I celebrate each of them for their unique God given gifts and abilities, and their determination to follow their dreams. I cherish their friend relationships, their mentors, their loved ones. As I listened to the crunch of the snow under my feet and watched my breath crystallize and fog my glasses, I smiled. Each of our grown up children live long distances away, if we are to count the miles, but there is one gift that keeps them closer than we are able to comprehend – the gift of prayer.

free google images

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~ Philippians 4:6

The Nativity, Yesterday and Tomorrow….

Last Christmas we bought our grand-daughter a Nativity Scene, I think it was the PlaySkool brand. For both of them we purchased a storybook about the Nativity, with incredible life like  illustrations, Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockcroft

This Christmas we cannot be with our grand-children and their parents, so I wanted to make the children something special in honour of our baby King, and to teach them about our very sacred family tradition. My husband bought me a Precious Moments Nativity Set some thirty years ago. Precious Moments are Sam Butcher’s creation. I pulled them back out of the box and crafted a story. Now that this little video has been made perhaps we’ll need to come up with another way to share the Nativity next year?

I did suggest to my family, (the ones that are here) that we go down to Hildebrand Motors and tell the story using their Nativity Scene, by moving the almost life size figures around, and video taping it. They thought that was a tad weird. It would have been great fun.

Anyway, thank you to Sam, Garage Band, and Facebook, oh yes and iMovie

A home made Christmas present for my two little grand-children….

Merry Christmas Willow and Thorin

Love Grammie and Papa

My Christmas Surprise

We were expecting a rather quiet, but blessed Christmas season, with our youngest daughter who teaches at a Bible School, flying in from Australia. It would be her first Christmas at home in three years.

We learned months prior to December we would be blessed for four days the week before Christmas, by our daughter’s bestie, whom we endearingly refer to as ‘number four’. She was flying in from Toronto, where she studies dance. Accompanying her would be her fiance, whom we had met the year before at Christmas time. He was flying in from Florida.

free google images

Monday night I left work in the dark and walked home along the snowless sidewalk, excited to see who would be gathered around the fire at home. The air was crisp, but unusually warm for the week before Christmas.

I rounded the final block and a car came out of no where, and drove up beside me and stopped. The window went down and I heard a voice say “can we help you with your bags?” I bent down to see a familiar face smiling at me. It was our son’s girlfriend. I looked behind the wheel and there he was – our son. But how I wondered? They were in Europe skating. We had just Face-timed them the day before.

Still in shock, I hopped in the back seat. Seconds later their rental car was parked in our driveway. They had flown all the way from Utrecht (Netherlands) to surprise us. Although they were given five days off, much of that would be travel time. I was overjoyed at their adventurous spirits and their huge sacrifice to be with us for a few short days. Due to the nature of our son’s work, it was his first Christmas at home in seven years.

Although our eldest daughter and son-n-law and two precious grand-children would not be able to join us, I cherished our time together in October and November.

As if things couldn’t get better, I looked out the window Monday night and saw the snow begin to fall. Every bed in our house was full and so was my heart. 

The fullness would continue with a spur of the moment family dinner planned for the next evening, Mom and Grandma, and other dear friends travelling up the next day.

I knew in a few short days our circumstances would be quite different. Our full house would not remain full, but the memories made, our conversations and warm embraces would be more than enough to keep a smile on my face all year long.

-Cindy

 

 

What’s in a Teddy Bear?

Yesterday coming home from church I was reminded about the annual Hitman Game and the Teddy Bear Toss, http://hitmenhockey.com/teddy-bear-toss. The news announcement brought back a difficult, but heart warming memory. Thank you – to our communities and the Hitmen Hockey Team, for your generosity and kindness during the Christmas Season. It made a difference to our little family, and we will never forget you.

free google images

One afternoon around Christmas time in 2007 I had gone down the stairs to our daughter’s bedroom to see why she wasn’t answering my call. We were all getting ready to go out and visit with friends. When I found her in her room she was not able to speak or walk. She was eight years old. I carried her out to our vehicle, and drove her down to the clinic. Her younger siblings were crying and frightened because their big sister didn’t recognize them.

Soon after our arrival at the clinic we were told about her Grand Mal seizure. Her Daddy arrived from work to comfort our children, and I got in the back of an ambulance to ride with her to the Children’s Hospital. After a very long night of nurses coming and going, poking and prodding and shining lights in her eyes, the sun arose. I waited to see if our little girl would open her eyes, if she would talk. I had been cautioned that she may have sustained brain damage.

Our daughter opened her eyes. She didn’t smile like she usually did, but she did look around the room. I told her where she was, but she didn’t seem to react, however she noticed she was sharing her room with another patient, a little boy in the bed next to hers. She shoved off her covers, and slid out of her very tall hospital bed. She walked over to a book shelf and pulled a book out. I then watched her go to the boy’s bed and reach for a chair that was nearby.

The seconds that followed were magical. I watched her turn the pages of the book, and heard her voice begin to read. Tears trickled down my face. I didn’t know what the days ahead would bring, but our little girl had come through a very difficult challenge. She was walking, talking and able to see another child’s needs.

Later that morning while we were resting I tried to stop my mind from worrying. I knew our daughter was in good hands, but the fatigue and the weight of our daughter’s health cast a long shadow on my heart. The word ‘Epilepsy’ had been used in the nurses’s conversations. What did it all mean? Would our daughter ever enjoy a normal life? Would she have another seizure?Just as my head felt like it might explode a group of men in hockey uniforms came into the room. They were all holding Teddy Bears. Our daughter sat up and blinked. The men smiled and three of them offered her a bear.  I think it was because they had learned she had a brother and sister back home.

Their visit reminded me that so many people cared. We were not alone and forgotten in our sadness, but cradled in the arms of others, even strangers. The Teddy Bears were a symbol of compassion.

Later that day a neighbour and her son came to visit. They were frequent visitors to the hospital and heard we were there. Her son had had several seizures as a young baby and boy, and was in a wheel chair. Our daughter didn’t say much, she was very tired, but she looked at the little boy then back at her three bears, picked one out, and offered it to her new friend.

It was at Christmas time so long ago, in the Calgary Children’s Hospital, where our daughter was indeed given the diagnosis of ‘Epilepsy’, but it was then she also decided to be a Nurse. She never wavered from that call. Her health condition improved, and four very challenging years later, on September 9th, 2011, she was given a clean bill of health. Today she is married, with two beautiful children, and practices nursing on the Sunshine Coast.

Thank you Calgary Hitmen and all the Teddy Bear donors, for keeping the  Annual Teddy Bear Toss tradition alive. We are witness to the difference a Teddy Bear can make in the life of a child.

 

 

 

 

Unanswered Prayers at Christmas Time?

Years later when another Christmas was fast approaching, my children and I were coming home from a medical appointment in the city. It was somewhere around 5:00 p.m. and the sky was already dark as I drove in a southerly direction  back into town. My children could hear me praying out loud as I drove. A very dear neighbour was terminally ill with cancer, and I was begging God for a miracle of healing. The next day I planned to stop in to see her at the hospital, if she wanted visitors.

She had been battling stoically, but privately, and even that summer when I happened to bump into her on the sidewalk with her rainbow toe socks, and Birkenstock sandals, she didn’t want to talk about it.

I dropped the girls off at the house. Our son was away. I then turned around and went back to the office to finish up where I left off. When I got to the shop my husband’s face said it all. She was gone.

With my head buried in my hands, I quietly sobbed behind my desk. With only an hour left until closing, my husband insisted I go home. For some reason I picked up the phone, and called our eldest daughter to give her the devastating news, and to announce I was coming home early. God then prompted my daughter to be an instrument of hope in the moments that followed.

We lived only a few blocks west of the store, but the blocks stretched into miles. I pushed my foot down on the gas pedal, but the van belligerently crawled along. Streetlights lined the road, but not one of them seemed capable of beating back the darkness. The bleak winter night grew blacker than ever before and threatened to swallow me whole. My lungs lamented beneath my ribs. Why had God not answered my prayers?

“Why did you allow her to die?” my spirit screamed into the darkness.

“Her children needed her, her husband needed her, and I needed her!”

My emotions were all over the map. I felt betrayed, and deeply wounded. For one very dark moment I believed God had abandon us all. I cranked the wheel to maneuver up our driveway. There on the peak of an enormous white snowdrift, which had conquered our front step, was one small candle propped in a mason jar, shining defiantly.

free google images

God could have healed my friend, he could have made the moon stand still, but instead he chose to reveal himself to me through a tiny yellow flame, and the love of my children. The vast expanse of snow was indeed a vicious cruel reflection of the unfair world we live in, but the candle’s flame profoundly commanded the view, and spoke volumes.

“I hear you, and you are not alone” I heard Christ speak as I stared at the incredible view.

Christ’s presence lit up the sky and surrounded me. I went into the house and embraced my children. Together we walked to the window and silently watched the flame of the candle burn brightly.

Cindy Palin

Lessons in Life – Across November’s Sky

I was running errands today, which required a lot of loading and unloading.  Back and forth I went between the indoors and the outdoors. On my last run I flung open the door to the outside world, and was greeted with an amazing heart warming sound and sight. I heard my friends, the geese, honking at each other. I looked up to witness the fine feathered flock paint their “‘V’ across November’s sky. Usually their familiar song stings my heart. After all, their flying south means Old Man Winter has swallowed up all of autumn’s warmth, and the last of our coloured leaves.

This time their song was saying something else. I stood, both feet planted in the parking lot and listened, and watched carefully. It was almost as if I was afraid I might miss something important. I watched until they disappeared into the glare of the late afternoon sun. I was awe struck. I had made a new discovery.

I’ve always known their V shaped flying formation is to prevent wind resistance. But this time I saw something more.

free google images

A few geese fell out of formation, and the perfect ‘V’ was ruined. I wondered for a few moments what the stragglers were up to, but then recognized a consistent pattern. Could it be the geese took turns with each other? Those in front would tire, so others would take their place?

I couldn’t help but smile. God uses His creation to teach us something every moment of every day. What I was witnessing was a lesson for all of mankind – a perfect ‘team work’ analogy. My curiosity got the best of me, and I went home to look up more information about geese, and their flying habits. To my surprise I found an article that echoed exactly what I had been musing about, and said it very well.

Five Things Geese Can Teach Us About Teamwork by Len Wilson

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).

free google images

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