White Noise Here We Come

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.

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Forgiveness Only Goes So Far?

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.

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.

 

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

How to Pray When You are Hurting…..

…specifically when you are suffering for taking a stand for Christ.

  1. Get on your knees “…pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:28).
  2. Identify who or what has hurt you (what does it look like spiritually?)
  3. Ask God for help on how to pray
  4. Sit quietly and reflect on someone who may have been in a similar situation (someone written about in God’s Word).
  5. How did they respond?
  6. Look up the related scripture that comes to mind through the Holy Spirit’s leading.
  7. Continue to wait on God, and listen for His response

2 Corinthians 10:4 talks about the ‘weapons of our warfare’. Followers of Christ have effective tools to use in spiritual warfare, tools that are not of this world.

I wondered to myself, the other night as I knelt in the dark, “what are those weapons?”.

The verse goes on to inform us our weapons have “divine power to demolish strongholds”. Verse 5 continues “We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.…”. 

2 Corinthians 6:7 opens the window of clarity a bit further, “in truthful speech and in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.”

But again what are those weapons of righteousness? Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us more insight. Verse 12 (in context) reminds us insults may be hurled from human lips but “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against….” (Eph 6:12).

Find a Bible, a Bible app, or use www.biblegateway.com and read on for yourself. A study guide Bible is the best because you are provided with extra explanatory notes below, and other verse references.

The remaining verses in Ephesians 6:10 – 18 continue to describe our weapons, (the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, sword of truth…)

As I waited in the dark I asked God to show me how these weapons demolish strongholds and tear down arguments? I lifted my arms and pulled down an invisible wall in front of me, trying to see if further understanding would come. It did.

I recognized my accuser as someone I loved. Suddenly I understood as we pray God’s power transforms us. We begin to see the situation through His eyes. Just as God forgives, we  forgive. In love and forgiveness we are able to see through the circumstances. We are able to take our thoughts captive and submit to God’s purposes (2 Cor. 10:5).

I recognized I had a choice to wear the false accusations and allow the curse to linger, or to pray and clothe myself in Christ (Romans 13:14).

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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:)

 

 

WATERFALL

The song came before the picture, but one of my favourite lines….”if there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’, you’re my waterfall, fill me again.

Standing in a waterfall means all you can see and feel, and hear is the water. Many times life’s circumstances swirl around us and drain us dry. How can we keep a healthy perspective? I suggest you stand in the waterfall…..and for me that waterfall is God. David talks about great grief being swept over him in the waterfall, in the deep, in the waves (Psalm 42:7). But I see God’s waterfall as place of strength, standing on the rock, surrounded by His presence. The water not sweeping me away, but filling me with His truth.

WATERFALL

I’ve been here before, not so long ago

Almost missed the signs, now I know, I know

The sky can be blue, the wind can blow wide

But without you here, I’m desert dry

Gotta hear your voice before birds sing

Gotta say your name, as you grow these wings

If there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’

You’re my waterfall, fill me again

I will live by faith and not by sight

Where you roar is great, and the world’s dark night

is a shadow small, and a moment’s pain

You’re my waterfall, fill me again.

Worry’s at my door, thinking he’s at home

Sometimes he gets in, but it’s not for long

He stirs up the storm to empty and drain

But in the waterfall – I will remain

lyrics and music by Cindy Palin @Feb. 9, 2017 All Rights Reserved