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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Trying to Fly?

Imitation Wings

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and He will make your paths straight. Psalm 3:5-6

I have experienced the difference between trying to fly (living in my own strength), and taking flight (trusting in the Lord).

lyrics from “the Walking Dead” on “My Heart’s Lament” Album. featured in my upcoming book “The Faith Keeper”.

initial image from http://www.dreamstime.com, added quote and design by Cindy Palin

To Bind up the Brokenhearted

This past week while preparing songs for the second Sunday of advent, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.  Yes, those feelings hound us all from time to time.  My thoughts kept drifting to extended family situations, those which happened long ago, and some more recent, even though I was rehearsing words like….

“Come thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free”

Sunday came and our worship practice was rushed.  Some of us had arrived late due to freezing rain the night before. Everything had been frozen over with a thick sheet of ice.  My entire vehicle was imprisoned in a hard glossy shell. As I yanked on the handle to try to open the door I heard….

“From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee”

My husband was away, and I sat alone near the front.  As the church filled for the first service I kept wondering, “why God, would you want to have anything to do with someone as weak as I?

“Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art”

In the middle of a song I looked out and saw a friend, who had just returned to town from her Mother’s passing.  I had wanted to have her over for dinner right after she arrived home, but the time had slipped away. Another song and another face, a man who had  said goodbye to his wife last Christmas, due to a sudden serious illness.  “I need you” my heart cried.  “We need you”.

“Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart”

In between services I spied a new friend and slid into the pew beside her.  I had remembered she had told me something in passing – months ago, and It kept ringing in my ears.  I sat down and cautiously asked if I could inquire about her health.  She graciously shared about her illness and the necessary medications required. She went on to tell me a bit about her family and where she came from.

“Thank you for coming Jesus” I whispered under my breath, for taking on human form and walking among us to feel our pain”.  For sacrificing your life  in order to release us from the icy grip of despair and death. You alone, are our strength, and hope!  As we celebrate your birth in a manger, and long for your return –  may You be our desire and our joy!

 

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1).

Lyrics from “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Text: Charles Wesley, Music: Rowland H. Prchard, Arranged by:  Robert Harkness

 

 

 

I feel a Crack Coming On….

Human emotions are complicated.  You never really know what is lying just below the surface to make someone decide one thing or another.

I’ve noticed that quite often, I decide I know – when the reality is – how can any of us really know what is going on in someone else’s head?

I have a theory.  It comes from observing and listening and bungling things up for a very long time.  If you see someone who is acting rude – chances are that person is very insecure, or afraid.  If you see someone act like a snob, and down right unapproachable, chances are that person is acutely shy.  If you see someone acting stubborn, putting a wall up, and shutting down – chances are they are broken-hearted.  No, really, this isn’t just my eternal optimism talking.

You don’t have to be broken-hearted about lost love, there are plenty other things to be broken-hearted over, and I mean plenty.

The problem is, if we all shut down because of our broken hearts, there isn’t going to be any moving forward, there isn’t going to be life.  We might expect the other person to do what ever needs to be done, but what if that person is shutting down?  What if that person needs support?

I recognize how I am made, my personality type.  I took one of those tests from a book called; “Discovering your Strengths”.  Only problem is, my highest scoring trait isn’t very helpful when push comes to shove.  My greatest strength according to the book is “responsibility”.  This means I want to do the right thing at every turn.  What does that equate to?

This means, I am bound to be alone a lot.  If I am not careful, my “responsibility” could turn around and become – resentment.

This is why it is important for me to hang on very tight to Jesus.  If I can’t be sure what the other person is going through, and I don’t want to assume, and step on toes, I can always ask Jesus for help.  Quite simply, “Jesus, how am I suppose to proceed?”

Here is where it gets really painful.  Don’t get me wrong, having a faithful friend in your corner is the best thing you could ever have, but He is always going to ask you to do the hard stuff.  “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than himself” (Philippians 2:3 KJ21).

 So, yesterday, now, and forevermore, I need to move through life with my heart in His hands.  There’s that little word “trust”.  It is only five letters, but it packs a punch, because trusting often means suffering in silence, oh yes and holding the bag.

The bag that has the smiles in it, and the tender voice, and the soft response, and the understanding song, and the hand pats, and the open arms, and the prayers, and the tears….

Sometimes being a Mom, and the oldest sibling isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be.  Wait a minute, maybe it is – I feel a crack coming on right now.

The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17 NIV).

Orange and Blue

Was kneeling beside the bed talking to God.  I looked up and saw the dead orange maple seeds clinging to the bare bone branches.  But there in behind was that incredible, trustworthy blue sky backdrop.  P.S.  We don’t live in Vancouver.

I think that’s what I must look like when I am walking in my own strength, dead and orange and clingy.  And there’s the Lord in all His grandeur, vibrant and true blue, waiting in the wings to envelope me in His arms when I finally learn to trust.

Orange and blue.  Those colors go together amazingly well, something you don’t see much of in home decor.  I smiled as I looked around our bedroom, blue and orange.  I know it sounds crazy but I had inadvertently designed our bedroom after the pattern outside our window.

I’ve been feeling kind of sorry for myself, discouraged about some of the gifts God has given, not being used.  And yet, as soon as I released that thought I heard Him say something.

You’re right, Lord, I am using them, they are just not fitting into the box we live in.  But we don’t LIVE in this box.  I’d rather our relationship be ALIVE than do something simply for the sake of doing it, or because it is the trendy thing to do, or for someone else’s approval.

Then I thought about some of the people I’ve been discouraged for, and I heard Him say something else.

You’re right Lord, discouragement is a sign we’re walking in our own strength again.  Trusting in our own wisdom.  And it’s not even close to wise.  Wise people don’t write people off before the end is even here.  “It is a good thing you don’t do that to us” I sighed.

“I’m sorry” I said out loud.  I got up off my knees and went out into the living room.

I trust you Jesus with what you’ve given me.  Thank you for what you are using it for even if I can’t see that right now.  I trust your timing and I trust you with those people you’ve put in my life.  And as I learn to be more like you, as I talk to you and practice being ALIVE in you, I trust that you’re going to show me some amazing things.  You already have.

Orange and Blue.