Flooding the Gutters with my River of Pain

Not that it’s fun to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders from time to time, but it does shove my heart to the edge.  And that is where I find Him, standing like a rock, buffering the wind, arms wide open, and he smiles and gives me a pen and I run off like He’s just given me my favorite candy, and write something down.

A couple of days ago a heaviness came to visit and settled right in as if it meant to stay for awhile.  I asked friends to pray and knew that eventually the cloud would lift.  As I was wading through the muck in holey hip waders I remembered how I love a thunder storm at the end of a hot summer day.  I can stand for hours and watch the “run off” race down the gutter into the storm drain, always so amused at what the water picks up along the way, as long as it isn’t me.

Then I saw myself as a little girl in bare feet padding through the puddles with a make shift secret in my hands.  A couple of tooth picks and a touch of white and I squatted down on the side walk and placed it in the water.  The sky was so low and heavy that I felt a bit like chicken little.  My little project, compared to the gutter rapids looked so tiny and frail,  but I knew something it didn’t…..so I let my sail boat go.

As these images played through my mind I found myself sitting at the piano writing this song……I can hardly wait to record it and share that too.  Think “blues” feel, low notes, smooth rocking, back and forth melody, husky voice – but a warmth that spells hope.

The news of a storm on a hot summer’s day

Flooding the gutters with my river of pain

I barefoot the puddles and soak to the bone

Cause I’m out on a mission – not sailing alone

It’s you and me my friend, I can hear you on the wind

Saying “rain lasts for a day, but my rainbow’s here to stay!”

The clouds on the stage are too low for a view

Hanging my happy was a cruel thing to do

I’m knee-deep in middles but aiming to float

Cause I’m out on a mission to sail our boat

It’s you and me my friend, I can hear you on the wind

Saying “rain lasts for a day, but my rainbow’s here to stay!”

Tidal waves sweep the bottom of my soul, but your rainbow’s here to stay!

©May 15th, 2013

There’s nothing like remembering God’s promise.  We might not feel him near, it might take a while to hear his voice, we might feel like helpless little children on a makeshift boat, the clouds might not allow for even a glimpse of light, the storm drain threatens to suck us down its vortex but for………….the invisible rainbow.  The everlasting promise that our ship’s Captain will never abandon us.




Sweet Nothings or Sweet Somethings

Her birthday loomed in the distance like a nuclear cloud.  All she could do to fight from sinking was talk about how much weight she had lost.  At first I was embarrassed for my friend, did she not know how she sounded?  The new acquaintances in the room seemed to be oblivious, but maybe just polite. I ached for who she had become, then her cloud scuttled over and moved in on my sunshine.  But what are friends for?

I crawled into bed that night and that darn cloud came with me.  I imagined my arms flailing around to chase it away, like some monster mosquito, but it wouldn’t budge.  The vapors stuck together like more of a soft solid, like cotton candy, only not pretty or tasty.  I felt a lump in my throat.

I was worried about another friend too.  My heart had held onto a few of her words as well and they were still echoing off my ventricle walls.  After all these years I was finally understanding that some of her messages sounded like one thing but meant another thing entirely.  If I was attentive and quiet enough I could hear the pain between the lines.  And I wanted her life to be perfect, pain free.

I bowed my head and quieted my heart to pray.  My husband was almost asleep beside me and I broke the silence with a silly confession that revealed my own insecurities. “I’ve been meaning to ‘graffiti up’ the bathroom mirrors in the women’s washroom at the church” I whispered in my tired husky voice.  “I thought I looked pretty good in my polka dot dress today until I caught a glimpse of myself in that mirror” I continued.  “Forget the whole pear shape thing, I looked like the world’s first largest black speckled pumpkin.”

I felt his warm hand stroke my back and as the strokes moved up and down in a gentle motion he began to whisper sweet nothings, but they were sweet somethings to my soul.  Some ‘things’ she had needed to hear her whole life.  I had someone telling me I was beautiful, and he was still lying beside me to prove it.  He loved me then, he loved me now, and all she had to hang onto was the scale.  All she had to convince her she was beautiful were the red numbers followed by the pound sign.

His warm hand stopped and his voice trailed off into a muffled snore.  My other friend had a husband and needed him to tell her she was beautiful too.  And maybe he did tell her, just not enough.

My eyes got heavy and I heard a familiar voice inside my heart whispering. I needed to tell God all about it, about them.  I needed to bring their situations to His throne of grace.  I needed to practice true love towards my friends and love them for who they are, self-centered rants, negative outbursts included.  I needed to trust God that He would shape them and mold them, in their unique circumstances, if they would let Him.  I needed to remember that life isn’t pain free, but prayers are free and He can hear them and he can lift the weight and he can blow the cloud away – for eternity.

Oh yes, and “Dear God, could you tell them they’re beautiful too, please, because they are and I really want them to hear you say it”.

The God Substitute – Temporary Infatuation

I remember the crowded coffee shop and the shoulder to shoulder line up.  I remember seeing her and an army of history marched through my head.  She was the black sheep in her family, but even black sheep deserve to fall in love.  She did and they were great together but a few weeks before her wedding her husband had an accident at work involving industrial chemicals.  She knew something was wrong but went ahead with hope and ended up marrying a stranger.

My eyes scanned the bobbing heads and animated faces who were already sitting down enjoying their morning java, when I saw him, my Father.  Even after all we’d been through my heart skipped a beat, it was the ever-present hope for change. I kept hoping one day I might see who really lives behind those blue eyes.  One day I might see laugh lines.  One day I might see a child’s faith commitment reborn, I might see a life surrendered to God.

I watched the megaphone bumble across the floor to his table.  Her voice was louder than the forty some other conversations going on.  Then I felt him, God’s presence,  The Holy Spirit stood right in front of me, leaned in and pressed his finger on the ear of my heart.  I listened and I knew more than coffee was brewing that day.  Trouble was just around the corner.

I got my coffee to go but walked over to my Dad’s table before leaving.  I waited for the perfect moment then leaned in and gave him a left arm hug.  He smiled and I left praying that God would give me the place and time and courage to give him the message I had just received, even if parents don’t like to get advice from their children.

Not long after, we did have that chat and I told him what I heard God tell me in the coffee shop.  Dad was no stranger to that kind of talk, because his Mother, my Grandmother, breathed that talk all the time.  She wasn’t perfect, I’m certainly not perfect, but if God gives you a message, you need to give it.

My Dad and Mom were separated, it was his idea, but something he kicked himself for every waking moment.  Actually, he probably fought those demons in his sleep too.  They loved each other but couldn’t live together at least not without a whole lot of divine intervention.  Here’s the thing, divine intervention doesn’t happen unless you ask for it, and pride doesn’t ask.  And even then, both parties have to want the same thing.  To  make matters worse, sometimes a life time isn’t long enough for a person to heal.  Sometimes you live apart and love from a distance.

The gal in the coffee shop had been separated for quite some time and by God’s good warning I could sense she was thinking my Dad could be her prince charming, a second chance at a future.  When my Dad finally heard what I was trying to tell him, he laughed.  “As if someone like her would be interested in an “old fart” like me” he chuckled.

One week later, the spiritual battle ended, just like that.  Not even a fist fight.  She moved in, in more ways than one, and any chance our father (or her for that matter), had at surrendering life over to God’s plan, was obliterated.  The hope of putting God first for just once, the hope for a personal transforming relationship with God – was substituted again for temporary infatuation.

If God is warning you about something today, take it seriously.  It is so easy to live in the “now”.  He wants us to live with an eternal perspective.  This life is over in a blink!  What might look promising today, could break your heart tomorrow.  What might look like a warm blanket for you, might be the loneliest move you make.

In loving memory of even the painful lessons, because with God’s help we can learn from the pain.



O Promised Love

When I witness one more abandoned soul, one more broken promise , one more casualty of love, I ache inside.  I long for justice.

For one fleeting second I wonder – does God see the injustice?  Does God care?  Why isn’t He doing something?  And then I remember.

God did not reach down and yank the whip away from Christ‘s flogger.  God did not reach down and tenderly lift the crown of thorns off of his son’s head.  God did not reach down with might and fury and prevent the hammer from driving the large spikes into Christ’s flesh but he did do something.  He reached down and intervened for his son’s killers by letting his son die because God knew that only that kind of love would save us from ourselves.  The innocent for the guilty, the grace for the undeserved.

Thousands of years have fled the earth like falling stars flee the sky,

since they lashed their claws to bare the bone

And he let them – for you, O promised love whom we discard

Thousands of years have passed overhead like wisps of clouds gone by,

since they crowned his brow in broken glass

And he wore it – for you, O promised love whom we molest

Thousands of years have circled the earth as the earth chases the sun,

since they drove their teeth into his veins

And his wrists burned – for you, O promised love whom we leave for dead

Love chose our name when he poured out the seas

Love called our name when he writhed his last breath

Love carried our name in the fold of his arm, near the song of his heart

When he marched from the tomb, and he did it for me, he did it for you

O promised love – whom we adore!

We are not abandoned!

©May 4th, 2013 Cindy Palin