I was reading in My Inspire Journey the other day about God’s plan for Sabbath rest. Psalm 23 was one of the scripture readings. Every time I read scripture I learn something new, even when reading a familiar, well known passage. I was struck by verse 3 in the EXB (Expanded Bible) by the word ‘reputation’. He leads us into rest and on right paths for the good of his reputation. Everything I do as a His follower affects His reputation. Now that’s a good reason to make sure I’m rested. What do you think?
The morning sky seemed like a water stained, black and white photograph. The recent memories of a client’s struggle muddied my thoughts even further. With furrowed brow I cautiously dodged patches of ice. “Such a slippery slope life can be” I thought.
Dainty white whispers of snowflakes fell on my forehead. I knew what they were trying to do. “I know, I know – no two of you are alike” I whispered back at them. If anything could cause me to look heavenward and consider my Creator, they could.
Once inside the windowless office I opened doors, turned artificial lights on our plastic Christmas tree and, put the brown coffee on to brew. I wandered over to the reception desk and spied a pile of bulging black garbage bags. There was a faded note marked ‘donations’ taped to one of them.
I fumbled with one knot. I pulled and pushed and caught a glimpse of something unexpected. Something new, brand new. I grabbed a pair of scissors to get to the treasure inside. The rhythm of my heart began to race. My eyes teared and the breath in my throat gasped.
Gently I lifted a perfectly hand knit child’s sweater out of the bag. My lungs lifted and sighed in relief. “The color of love!” My fingers gently untied the pom pom strings, and moved the zipper up and down. I twirled the sweater in the air from back to front, and felt a strange sensation come over me.
The love someone had poured into every stitch was now flooding into my veins, warming my limbs, blushing my face, and painting my lips in a smile. I found the faded note and turned it over to find a lady’s name and address. How could I possibly thank her enough? My heart took in every thread of her kindness and compassion.
She had no idea how the gift she’d made for someone’s little boy or girl had been a gift for me as well. I paused and the colors of love filled the room around me. The muddy struggles, the slippery slope, the plastic tree, and the browns and blacks of a challenging world were now magically changing to blue and yellow, pink and green.
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. 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. Hope is your child, Hope is your love, covering a multitude of memories that will never measure up. Seasons come and seasons go and every year should I get cold help the love you give me make a home. At times I might feel out of place, O but for your light of grace – every year you always offer hope. ©CindyPalin All Rights Reserved
We’ve all heard so many memes about not living in our past, but instead looking towards the future. I like to look back and remember just enough to see how far God has brought me. When self doubt starts to crowd in my thoughts I am careful not to waste any energy thinking about how I started in my faith journey, but instead I focus every thought on how I plan to finish – faithful.
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NIV).
“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV).
When you spend most of your time listening to those who are in major inner turmoil, that turmoil can manifest in your own mind. For those who believe in God’s Word, we understand we can sin in our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).
It is important not to be afraid or despair. If we confess our sin he will forgive and heal, and transform us (1 John 1:9). Part of this transformation is choosing to think on Him instead, and meditate on His Word (Psalm 19:14, Eph. 4:17-24).
Sometimes we believe that our confessing needs to be accompanied with some other sort of action. I have often struggled with asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over, and wondered “what else should I do?” I have questioned my sincerity. Do I have a penitent heart (Psalm 51:17)?
This morning I confessed to God out loud for my sinful thinking. For a moment I considered my confession to be insincere, because it was not accompanied with tears. However, I realized my lack of tears was not a sign of insincerity, but faith, and maturity. I had sinned in my thoughts. I obeyed God by confessing and I believe in His forgiveness. Confessional faith is a choice to move on in praise and service to my King as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
It is very important to recognize we are in a battle (Eph. 6:12).
We are going to sin (Romans 7:21 and 22).
We need to confess out loud to God and establish an accountability system (James 5:16a).
We need to ask for prayer (James 5:16b).
No show of grovelling or whining or anything else of our own strength is necessary (Eph. 2:8). What Christ accomplished on the cross for us is complete (Heb. 10:10-12).
We must press on (Phil. 3:13 – 14) – WITH JOY!
And remember if we are not able to see ourselves for who we really are, how can we help others?
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.
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.
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 moment we let go of our NEED to have the LAST WORD,
is the moment we are HEARD.
The moment we let go of our NEED to be IN CHARGE,
is the moment we are given opportunity to LEAD.
The moment we recognize our NEED of GOD,
is the moment we lay down our DEMANDS,
and become BEAUTIFUL.
Cindy Palin ©Sept.9,2018
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?