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

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

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

Our Past Does Not Define Us

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lyrics by Cindy Palin

Sweet Mercy

Emerging from a long line of sorrow and of rage

Curious as a child, who invited it to stay?

Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies

Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.

Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair

The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there

Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might

Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night

And where the rage died, the peace grew

And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through

Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy

The lineage of hatred determines not your name

The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim

Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time

Sweet mercy has another plan in mind

My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14

Song written by ©Cindy Palin/November 22/06