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.

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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.

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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

Once Upon a Christmas Past…

Once upon a Christmas Past…

Struggling with pneumonia, I laboured to pull out the piano bench quietly. Once seated my right foot found the middle peddle, and pushed it down to the left to lock it in place. This way I could play and not disturb anyone’s sleep. It was the middle of the night. Only the street light’s glow on a fresh fallen blanket of snow lit the keys before me.

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Christmas was coming, and I had been too sick to do any shopping or baking. Little did I know that a song would be my gift to those I loved.

“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.”

My parent’s marriage had its ups and downs. When they divorced Christmas was never the same. I know now that Christmas does not hinge on humanity’s imperfect state.

As I wrote at the piano, their pain and mine, of never being a whole family again, flowed out of my heart and onto the page. Mysteriously, for every sorrow a remedy followed. Each melodic, aching admission turned into a revelation 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.”

The next day I printed the song onto fancy paper and fashioned small pillows with pockets, from scraps in my sewing closet. Each pocket was sized to hold a copy of the song.

When Christmas day arrived, our family drove almost two hours north to my sister’s place for dinner. Unfortunately I was still very short of breath, so I attended the festivities in my pajamas. Like Linus from ‘Charlie Brown’, I toted a blanket behind me. Although my ‘song pillow’ gift to everyone was small, I trusted they too would be lifted by the musical revelation of hope God had inspired.

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.

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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).

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

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:)