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?

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Should We Dare Expect the Joy Without the Sorrow?

Who am I that you are mindful of me?

I’m not the first to see the thirsty scorn your living water.

I’m not the only one, to wrestle or to question,

the mysteries of life, our groanings under heaven….

I just learned a couple of days ago that my song “O Morning Star” is on the shortlist of finalists, in the Word Guild Awards, Write Canada 2014, under the best song lyric category.

This song is very personal, they all are, but this one in particular, because it was written to prepare and equip for an agonizing time, for me, my family, and our church family.

Our daughter had come home for a sick day in November to let us know that a friend of hers had just lost her mother, after a long battle with depression and insomnia.  We were heart-sick, racked with tears and pain, but not without hope.  Our daughter brought her friend home shortly thereafter during a snow storm and we were all able to hunker down by the fireplace and hear the young lady tell us all about her mother.

A friend, and mother whose children were around the same ages as mine, had just been diagnosed with cancer, and aggressive kind.  Her family, and our church family as a whole – were devastated, but not without hope.  She died a week before Christmas, and her funeral was held just days before our Christmas Eve service.  Never has Christmas been so sacred or more meaningful. It was as if she was giving us a special gift, a reminder.  After all, that is why Jesus came to a manger, to identify with our sorrows, and sufferings, and eventually put an end to our eternal death sentence, by dying on the cross, then conquering death on the third day.

I had found out on a snowy Wednesday before Christmas that my brother was not recovering as we had hoped he would, from his stroke and related ailments.  I stood before a judge just five days before Christmas begging the Judge to grant me a warrant to get my brother further help.  The Judge granted the warrant but the Doctors would not comply.  We tried.  Did we fail?  Maybe, but….

Who am I that you are mindful of me?

Should I accept to dare expect, the joy without the sorrow?

You are the Holy One, my peaceful revelation.

The certainty of death is swallowed in salvation.

O Morning Star, you are life and light unto my soul, and still I sing….

©Cindy Palin, October 2013

The interesting and profound revelation is; this song was given to me right before any of the above mentioned, happened. Almost as a foreshadowing of what was to come.  I sang it throughout the months of November and December, as well as at our friend’s funeral, and felt God’s comfort and assurance through the journey.  He is  my Morning Star, and He is light and life unto my soul!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am With You

Yellow Balloon I Am With You

Yellow Balloon
I Am With You

The yellow object caught her attention out of the corner of her weary eye.  End of day and one more job to do.  Lot check.  A few more moments and out into the twilight to make her last rounds.  “Check all the vehicles, every last one, make sure they’re locked” her mind repeated like a broken record.

Hand on the door, she turned instead and picked up her new friend.  She felt as though it had been calling to her.  “Take me with you”, it bubbled.  Left over from last week’s sale, still with well-worn string, she fastened it about her wrist and disappeared into the shivering darkness.

The ground crunched and the highway buzzed, and yet a holy silence pervaded.  She heard him whisper, “see this yellow balloon.”  She felt his presence. “I am right here with you, I am everywhere you are” he reminded.

She had just returned home and taken a job to save up to leave again.  Her year had been a whirl wind of mystery from the shores of Australia to the Philippines and India, to a snow laden camp in a northern forest, to a car lot in Alberta, and God was with her.

She needn’t worry or question, but rest in knowing that he would never leave her or forsake her.  She wondered why she had been privileged to be called in the first place, to see what she saw?  She grieved.  No matter how varied the cultures were – man was the same.  No matter the beliefs of man, someone could always make her feel small.

But he said, “be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deut. 31:6)

She paused and looked up at the night sky.  The yellow balloon, as if filled with his spirit gently swept her forehead.  She crunched towards the shop and pressed her face to an office window.  She smiled at her co-worker inside, and wondered if they recognized who she had with her?

Living Vertical in a Horizontal World

Good morning Jesus. It has been an interesting week, holding on tight to your hand and walking with you while you open my eyes and lift my chin gently upwards with the tips of your fingers.  You keep me living vertical.

Windows and doors open all around me, revealing images of this world’s reality, of our perilous soul condition.  Objects of desire are blotting out the Son, blind sheep still wander.  The weight of it wraps around my feet and threatens to keep me horizontal.  The pain of it tries to drown me, but you severed my ball and chain on the cross, and we walked into freedom from the tomb.

Since you joined the Father and left your Spirit here, there’s a lot of seeking going on, but not for you.  Your truth has been traded for brighter lights, bigger toys, man’s temporary fascinations.  As if we can compete with you and your design, your purpose and your plan? Have we forgotten the cycle of history repeating itself?  Our struggles and our triumphs are not original, or the first, or the last, but You are.

You hand crafted our intricate, brilliant minds in your image, kissed our lungs with air and yet some can’t even bring themselves to speak your name.  So much safer and hip to use the buzz words of the day, so non-committal, so plastic intelligence, empty, and most of all – powerless.  But my soul is not downcast.

You delight to say my name and called me before the earth felt the warmth of the sun.  The realization that I even bleep on your radar slays me, that I am so much smaller than the stars, yet matter more to you than the entire universe put together.  I am but a speck of star-dust orbiting around you.  You are a mystery magnet I cannot explain. I am in awe of you and go deeper, past the velvet curtains of your solar systems to the beginning and the end, into your heart.

How do I know you are real?  How do I know there is one God, and that you love me?  How do I know I have nothing to fear when I put my trust in you?  You have proven yourself over and over and over again.  Every living cell bears your seal, every generation has witnessed the majesty of your handiwork.

The closer I come to you, the faster you run to me.  I don’t need to see the exact lines of your face to feel you here beside me.  I am not ashamed, and I will not apologize for believing in a baby born in Bethlehem, born of God and born of man.

As the world grows darker, as the pages of time draw to an earthly close, even though my body may lie down before the trumpet sounds, keep my spirit living vertical.  I love you.

Rainy Days and Faith, and Orange Plaid Rubber Boots

dreamstimefree_32548I sat in bed against all our fluffed up feather pillows with a “faith” cup I was given for my birthday – full of coffee and cream of course.   The curtains were open just enough for me to see the sky’s expansive shower head, rain down in a westerly direction.  Every now and then between whispering prayers and reading Psalm 73, I looked up into the darkest parts of the trees to see if God had turned the tap off.  It’s easier to see the translucent rain drops that way.  It was still raining, a lighter pressure than before, and the naughty branches were quarreling with each other.

It’s a good day for rain I guess. Life must go on, even though everything is a bit more difficult to do, umbrellas, plastic bags, rubber boots.  Mine, are shallow orange plaid so I can’t go wading in the deep puddles.  Maybe that’s why my husband bought them for me, orange so he could spy me from a mile away, and shallow to keep me on the sidewalk.

I feel like a little girl who needs to be told to keep out of the puddles.  I feel like a little girl most all the time. I keep her close to the surface in everything I do, that way I hear the birds sing, and watch for what God is going to say next.

What are you going to say today, Lord?  When the sun is out I think we run off and play without consulting you, but when it rains everyone is a bit more unsure of how to proceed.