The Gift of Life

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My daughter just finished writing a blog post and quoting Habakkuk 1:5, regarding the work God is doing among us right now.

https://juliechristinepalin.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/foolishness/

Things we wouldn’t be able to grasp if he told us about them. Our lives are just a fragment of the big picture.

The verse was a reminder that God is still in control, even when things don’t make sense, even when we lose friends, and family to death, at what seems to be the strangest of times.

Eccles. 3:1,2 tells us “There is a time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. A time to give birth and a time to die…”

For our family friends who just lost a wife and a mother in an accident, these words at first glance probably do not bring much comfort.

If we stand back and look at the big picture we see the gift of life God gives us all, and the gift of sharing our lives with others, the privilege parents have, through their love,

which brings more life (children) into this world, and the circle continues.

I thank God for our friend’s mom, and the time we had with her. Her leaving us at this time gives us opportunity to reflect on what we will do with the rest of our life, for however long we are here.

Let us humbly, and gratefully live the life we have left to the best of our ability, in peace with one another, and in God’s strength.

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The “Bad Guy”

Once upon a time there was a little family. They weren’t sure how to do life, but like all families – tried to do their best. As the family grew up the mom, and dad realized there were a whole lot of things they could be doing better, and they discussed working together towards common goals, so their children could do the same. However, the one parent who always spoke up, was still the same parent that spoke up. The other parent who was always quiet, was still the same parent who was always quiet. This doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, but eventually the outspoken person became the “bad guy”.

The problem with the “bad guy” scenario is that there isn’t one “bad guy”,  there’s two, the one who wears the label, and the other one who lets it happen.

The good news is, this little family didn’t stop talking. This mom, and dad didn’t stop trying to work towards common goals so their children could do the same. Eventually both parents found their “together” voice and decided to wear the “bad guy” label together, and proudly, because suffering for saying the right thing is the best kind of pain there is.

Remember parents, you are your children’s parents, not their buddies. Always speak the truth in love, regardless of the response, and pray more than you eat, drink and sleep.

To God be the glory

 

 

 

Sacrificial Offerings

Usually every church you go to has a certain way of doing things, a structure to the service. Our church always has someone present special music while the offering plate is passed, but there are many sacrificial offerings going on in a service simultaneously. You need only be still and sensitive to the Spirit to see them.

This past Sunday a lovely woman got up to sing “Breath of Heaven”, which tells the story of the mother of Jesus. Even when the Christmas story gets clouded, most people know Mary was a young person with a scandal to deal with. She accepted her sacrificial call stoically, only to lose her son years later at the hands of an angry mob. She gave birth never really knowing the full extent of what her sacrifice would be.

I closed my eyes and and prayed for our friend who was singing, and the tears began to roll down my cheeks when the lyrics came “breath of heaven hold me together”, because I remembered how the vocalist lost her son years ago. Jesse would have been in his early twenties today.

Once the service concluded I found my eyes drift over to the far left of the church, to the front pew. There I saw another woman sit down to ready herself for prayer in case anyone needed to come to the front and pray. She too had lost a son years ago. Shane was a father at the time of his death, leaving a wife and three children behind.

I marveled at these women, and their sacrificial offerings, pressing on in faith despite their broken hearts, and the fact there will be missing family members at their Christmas table.

Thank you for being real, courageous and faithful, Bonnie and Val. Please know that there are people watching and learning from your example, and people praying for your strength as you continue the journey of faith God has called you to finish.

May the family of God hold one another together in Christ’s sacrificial offering of love, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we look forward to a family reunion one day in heaven.

Merry Christmas!

Cindy

 

 

Why?

Recently friends of ours have had to go through something no one ever wants to experience. These words (also in song format) are dedicated to their family, and evidence the family of God grieves together. This is my attempt to share their pain, and my intent to join them in asking our Lord – “Why?”.

“Why?”

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wanna weep an ocean.

Even still justice will remain,

hidden beyond heaven’s plain.

Time, could it travel faster,

or should it make a motion –

Yesterday hasn’t yet arrived,

and second thoughts spared us from this plight?

Oh – oh – oh I can hear your loud accusers

Oh – oh – oh blinded by their own peculiar stains

So let the sun refuse to rise!

Let the earth swallow the skies!

Let a mother’s tears run dry!

Oh – oh – oh …………………..why?

©Cindy Palin – November 2nd, 2015

photo made possible by http://www.dreamstime.com

Handouts are easy, Love is Hard!

This morning I was blessed by a conversation with a friend.  Her words affirmed what God has been teaching us at Break of Day (practical break for the single parent family in our community).  He has been taking us through lessons in love.

Every third Wednesday of the month volunteers and families from our community have dinner together.  We choose to eat together on purpose.  Those who believe are listening for God’s directives and watching to see Him at work.  Guests come to relax and put up their feet and enjoy a dinner they don’t have to cook for a change.  Collectively, both volunteer and guest are in need.  There is always room to learn more about love.

One of the first “love your neighbor” lessons I learned, was when a young man’s wife left him and their two toddlers.  He was distraught and paralyzed with pain.  We heard many had taken food to his house, only to find it rotten on the counter weeks later.

If that approach wasn’t working, what remedy was there?

First of all, what wasn’t working?  Do you see our flawed human mindset?

We’re not asking how the person is doing?  We are asking why a good meal went to waste?

Handouts, for the most part only serve to alleviate our own discomfort.

But what do you think?

Connecting to Combat Apathy

In 2005 I was in South Africa listening to a very well-educated young woman speak to me about the future demise of their next generation.  Most of the adults had already died from AIDS, leaving the children to fend for themselves.  I ask you, how does our society differ?

We have a North American disease that is picking off both adults and young adults, and leaving our children to fend for themselves.  It is called APATHY.  This disease is rampant, both in our community, and our churches.  This disease does not put us six feet under immediately, at least physically, but spiritually – absolutely!  We don’t need pills to combat this disease, but there is a high cost.  A cost that is going to obliterate our nation’s future and suffocate any signs of hope for THE family.

We religiously sponsor children in other countries, to save their lives.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a generous thing to do and we should do it.  I suggest, if you are sponsoring a child right now, look around your neighborhood and get involved with a family right here, in your own home town, over and above your sponsorship.

Many choose sponsorship because relationship is not required.  Now this isn’t true for all of the sponsor organizations or sponsors involved, but if we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, and how we buy into our culture, it is – money first, relationships later, if at all – unless there is something in it for us.  This is who we really are.

We have programs that run over the school year, and camp programs throughout the summer, many designed to emphasize mentor-ship.  But all too often, once the program ends, so does the relationship.

Oh, I can hear you – “what’s wrong with the kid’s parents?”.  Take a good look in the mirror and ask that question again?  None of us are perfect and we should all be so blessed to have someone interested in walking along side us and our children, whether we’re parenting or teaching, coaching a sports team, or listening to the birds sing.

So what’s the cure for our disease?  How can we change so that our children will grow into strong caring individuals, full of purpose and joy?

One on one relationships.  Getting to know Jesus is the best one on one relationship there is.  If you catch a glimpse of His commitment to you, you will want to commit to him.  He’s going to ask you to love people.  Watch for his lead, listen for his voice.  Guaranteed – he’s not going to give you an impossible task, and He isn’t going to wait for you to become perfect.  He’s going to ask you to get involved as you are, and love others as they are, and together we will learn who He is.

Sarah Young tells us in “Jesus Calling” that a “mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control”.  Connect instead!

No matter where you work, no matter where you play, or what program you’re involved in, find someone to mentor,  and commit.  This isn’t a trial drug, this is a cure we’re talking about.  You must be willing to commit for life.  Think about it, we commit to a whole lot of stuff, except for people?

The big picture is too overwhelming, so remember – one on one connections is the best place to begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.