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This is what it means to have LIFE TO THE FULL

When I was in High School I dreamt of being a top notch student and working at a great job, and being part of the student council, having a cool boyfriend, and achieving all around success.

Later in life I found my long lost report card and read it. Apparently my top notch marks were in fact, a dream. I did get a job when I was sixteen but I was ill suited for it. My employers were very sweet just the same. I never did get to be on any student council, because I was too busy hoping there was counsel for my family. I had a boyfriend, but I wouldn’t say he was cool, more like predatory. So much for success.

But the full life I dreamt of then was a seed, a glimmer of hope of the joy I celebrate today. If we learn from our mistakes we are all the better for it. I couldn’t celebrate this full life I have without giving credit to the author, and the finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).

There are those who believe faith is for the weak, but this weak is wise (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

So here’s to wisdom, to eventually learning to choose wisely, enjoying a wonderful husband, our incredible gifted children, our two extraordinary grandchildren, our health, our home, work for our hands, and joy in our hearts. So this is what it means to have life to the full (John 10:10).

..and it is all because of HIm. It is all about trusting Him, no matter what anyone else says. He is the one who made us, and He is the one who knows who we really are, and what we really need to experience life to the full.

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Expectations at Christmas Time

What are your expectations at Christmas time? A better question may be, “What were Mary’s expectations at the time of Christ’s birth?”

Considering what happened all those years ago can help us gain perspective. We are told many times through scripture and from the pulpit of Mary’s situation, but for Mothers in particular – this deserves another look.

Why? Because we mother’s, even humankind as a whole, have a commonality to behold. We all worry about what other people think. Read (1 Samuel 16:7).

We want our families to look perfect and act perfect, when we know that is not realistic. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:23).

We fuss over the house, the food, the sleeping arrangements, when Mary had none of these options. We mourn over those children who do not share the faith anymore, but then we read not all of Jesus’ brothers believed (John 7:5). And we can assume quite reliably that the siblings did not always get a long.

We want all of our family together at Christmas time, and especially shining radiantly in the pew beside us, but the shortcomings we focus on make us feel out of place, perhaps even condemned?

Mary felt condemned. Not many understood the miraculous birth of Christ. And as he grew older, the rumours of who Jesus’ real Father was, still rumbled.

Mary’s focus had to be on what she believed in, not what was happening all around her, and certainly not on what people were saying.

As a mother of diverse children who are all on a journey to test their faith and make it their own, or not – my focus this Christmas is on my relationship with Jesus, and the purposes He has for me to live out. Both my husband and I taught our children about Jesus while they were growing up underneath our roof. Now we teach our children through how we choose to live our lives, even after they’ve moved out.

It seems terrible to compare Mary’s suffering or even Christ’s suffering, to ours, but that is part of the why Christ came – to identify with us in every way (Heb. 4:15). As parents and children, there will be sufferings, and temptations of all kinds.

When you observe Jesus’ birth this Christmas ask Him to help you focus on Him, and not all of your (our, their) imperfections. When I see my brothers and sisters at church I am not thinking of their wayward children, or comparing my children to their godly offspring. I am not remembering how they fell yesterday, or how I fell last week. I am looking in their eyes as one child of God to another with faith and hope for our future because of what Jesus Christ’s birth came to accomplish.

Finally, if we can focus on what faith means “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1), we can TRUST instead of worrying. Mary chose to trust in God no matter what. She could have worried her whole life about her calling as a mother, her children’s paths, and appointments, about what her family looked like to everyone who lived around them, about how her children bonded, or didn’t bond, but instead she trusted God.

Even as I close I recognize a slight deviation from that trust, the temptation to add words to please everyone’s ear. Perhaps this sounds too fluffy, or maybe there’s not enough focus on character and consequence? How quickly we can get caught up in what is going on around us, and what we think people might be saying, and how we might adjust our lives to please someone else.

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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

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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

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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

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Back to School – To the Finish Line

This morning I have enjoyed looking at pictures of friends’ children all dressed up to go back to school. Oh what memories I have of those days, not only of my own children going back to school, but what it was like for me. As I pondered some of those memories I realized the ‘back to school’ phenomenon is still a thing for me, and will likely continue to be – for the next two years.

One of my greatest joys, once our youngest child had left the nest, was to go back to school. I had several reasons for my decision. I didn’t want to wallow in an empty house.  I wanted to learn something new, but most importantly I wanted to grow in my faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Word. When I graduated from High School I was not in the mindset of wanting to attend a Bible College. Today I am.

I am an online Canvas student with Briercrest Seminary and College. They are situated in Caronport, Saskatchewan.  Because of my work, and day to day responsibilities I am only able to take one course at a time, rather than delve into the whole program at once. I usually register in the fall, and the course time frame varies.

Currently I have registered for BLST 230, Paul and His Letters.

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I believe staying in the Word helps us gain the wisdom we need as individuals, for our marriages, and as parents, no matter how old our children are. Staying in the Word is going to get me across the finish line of faith, and give my children continued hope in a confusing world.

Who knows, perhaps some of the truths that stand out over the next six months will be shared here in my blog.

Are you interested in going back to school? What stage of life do you find yourself in? Perhaps raising your little ones is the school you are in right now,? That my friend is a challenging curriculum, one in which God’s Word can certainly shed some light.

 

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The Father’s Heart

One out of four women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This song is dedicated to our little boys and girls, and to our mothers and fathers, to our sisters and brothers who have suffered sexual trauma. May we all continue to work towards solutions. I know there is hope and healing available from our Father’s heart.

 

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Blessed Be The Lamb

blessed be the lamb picBLESSED BE THE LAMB

“Knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  1 Peter 1:18-21 NASB

Although I recorded this song back in 2000, it amazes me how it continues to speak, and give direction, and hope. No matter what I face from day to day, knowing there is someone who can identify with my struggles in every way, brings me comfort. Knowing [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]I have a friend who has triumphed over death[/clickandtweet] brings me peace and joy beyond explanation. Reading God’s Word, and learning as to how he suffered, as a gentle perfect lamb, shows me how to endure hardships on this planet. Knowing He trusted God even when forsaken, I can trust him when my circumstances look bleak. Jesus knew his stay on earth would be short, but his sacrifice would last for all eternity. He is the Blessed Lamb, and I am blessed to be his child.

BLESSED BE THE LAMB

VERSE 1

What can man do unto my soul?

What can words take away?

Lift my eyes to the cross he chose,

this man bore my shame.

CHORUS

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Blessed be the Lamb who died[/clickandtweet] and spoke not a word,

silently he bore my sorrow.

Blessed be the child who cries and hopes in the Lord

Eternity is their tomorrow.

VERSE 2

How can love live among such hate?

How will I carry on?

Look to him who endured such pain,

silent and strong.

CHORUS

Music and Lyrics by Cindy Palin ©2000