What does pain look like? Can you see it? If pain had a colour what would it be? In my mind it would be black or gray however I think most of the time it comes carefully camouflaged in bright colours, Sunday best , glitter and bling carefully covering the black so that no one can see.
Can you hear pain? Really, you should be able to hear it when your entire being is a train wreck so loud that surely those sitting beside you can hear the clanging in your head. However often all you hear is a soft moan or an escaped sigh, or glimpse a tear sliding down a cheek that makes no sound at all.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT
I think pain should have a smell so that it could alert us when it exudes from the pores of those around us. However it is invisible and odourless like a virus that sneaks in and catches you unaware. It spreads it’s toxins to encompass all of your being and yet remains invisible.
If you could touch pain would it feel cold so that you have to draw your hand back quickly? Does the cold wrap itself around your heart barely leaving room for it to beat? Does it linger in the air like an icy breath on a winter day?
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:17 & 18 NLT
Does pain have a taste? Does it taste bitter in your mouth? Perhaps it makes your mouth dry so that words cannot escape your parched throat if you finally muster up the courage to reach out. Stretch out your hands.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:6-8. NLT
When life deals out those seasons of pain it’s nice to have someone to talk to, someone to share what is inside, and hear encouraging words, a hug, a
“it will get better”
“I’m praying for you”
“hang on, I’m here for you”
and preferably from someone
who knows just what you are going through
who has experienced it before
someone who gets it
someone who really cares.
I think about the time Jesus spent on earth. He knew pain. Everywhere He went crowds gathered with every imaginable kind of pain. He is the King of Kings but He walked with us and chose to spend time with those who were hurting. He heard their pain as they cried out for Him to heal them. He saw their pain and they pressed close to Him hoping that He would see them and touch them. As they stretched out their hands to Him, He healed them. After that they killed him. He embodied our pain when He was rejected and put on a cross to die for sins He did not commit. He knew physical pain.
The colour of His pain was bright red for the blood He shed for us.
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NLT
If there is anyone who gets it, it is Jesus. He heard, tasted, smelled, touched, and saw pain in every colour. He knows what we are going through. Imagine taking your pain to Jesus the one who can touch your pain and heal you. Stretch out your hands. He is saying
“it will get better”
“I hear your prayers”
“hang on, I’m here for you”
because He knows what you are going through.
He understands what you are experiencing
He gets it and
He really cares.
Stretch out your hands.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 NLT
Copyright 2013 December 14 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
Toys packed – check.
Snacks – check.
Diaper bag – check.
4 hats, 4 coats, 8 mittens, 4 pairs of boots on – check.
4 hats, 4 coats, 7 mittens, 4 pairs of boots off because I forgot to take them to the potty – check.
4 hats, 4 coats, 5 mittens (nobody knows where they went) 4 pairs of boots back on – check.
By the time we arrived at the church we were frazzled and wondered if it was worth the bother. However when we stepped inside there were many loving arms reaching out to help with our little brood, hands to help with their coats, hands to wipe noses, arms to catch the “runners” before they ran out through the parking lot, and arms to help us settle in.
We did not get to relax very long before one child, naming no names – (Rianna) would crawl under the pews like a greased pig, fast as lightening all the way to the front before someone could catch her by the feet before she got to the pulpit and hand her back row by row to until she got back to us. Another child of ours which we cannot disclose – (Lieneke) would “visit.” She would toddle to a face she knew and stay with them and “visit” for the entire service looking back to us from time to time with a look that said “see, I’m being good.” Aneke and her cousin Devin would be at our feet and colour and the smell of crayon wafted over the back pews. We thought they were not aware of anything going on in the service until Devin would call out an answer to one of the pastor’s questions. Arjen would build Lego towers (which by the way are very dangerous for high heels). Don’t ask me how I know this.
If you ask me now, was it worth it, I would say indeed it was!
Today I get a warm fuzzy when I see little ones in church. I love the little one who dances in the aisle lost in the music unaware of all the people around her. We could take some worship lessons from her.
Welcome little one. Are you our future worship leader?
Occasionally a little one gets carried out, protesting all the way. When this happens there are smiles on the faces of the older Moms. It is a “knowing” smile. It is a “I remember those days” look.
It’s okay little protester. You are welcome here.
One Dad and Mom got their kids settled in the nursery and Junior church then promptly nodded off during the service. No one woke them because we remember all too well those sleepless nights with teething babies, the night owl toddlers, and feverish kids. We knew it was probably the first moment of quiet the entire week. We appreciate your efforts Dads and Moms. Don’t give up.
Tired, frazzled, sleep deprived parents are welcome here.
Those of you who have been through these days don’t forget to extend those “hands” to encourage all of the parents who make the effort to bring their children. Enjoy all the sights and sounds of little people. Crying and cooing babies, chattering toddlers and preschoolers, excited grade school kids, and even the misbehaving ones are all a special music to our ears. It is a precious sound, the music of our future church. Without their song our church will die.
Hello next generation church. Pleased to meet you next generation leaders. You are our future and you are welcome here!
And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18:5 NIV
Copyright 2013 November 3 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
The following is a rap for my beloved Camp Shiktehawk. This is the camp that I attended as a child and the camp where I trusted Jesus as my personal Saviour in a top bunk in cabin 11 1/2. A sign hangs in the dining hall which reads “Where He Conquered” because it is said that is what the meaning of the word Shiktehawk is. I remember another sign that hung by the fireplace in the old lodge which read “Jesus Never Fails.” As the camp faces the challenges of some major repairs we know that indeed HE has never failed us. We have tested it and find it to be true indeed and I know that HE will conquer any challenge if we give it to Him. HE comes through every time!
Just look up there and see that sign
Where He conquered is the theme of my rhyme
Don’t grieve it
Just leave it
‘Cause He has conquered and we’ll be fine
Fixed the foundation in Warner Hall
Poured the concrete and built the wall
Have some fun
Now it’s solid and it won’t fall
How ‘bout you is your foundation broke
The uglies of life flow in and soak
In a mess
To the One who fixes human folk
The flood waters came and the ice it jammed
And broke the bridge down from its span
So up we rose
To face those blows
The gap was closed
By all of those
Who cancelled Satan’s nasty plan
You too can swim when you’re going down
In the storms of life that make you drown
So look to Him
When life is grim
He’ll help you swim
And you will win
And you will get a golden crown
We know the crick it needs repair
But history tells us don’t despair
Nor up the crick
God is the one who will get us there
God said we’d have trouble from time to time
Where He conquered is the theme of my rhyme
Don’t grieve it
Just leave it
‘Cause He has conquered and we’ll be fine
Don’t grieve it …
Just leave it …
Believe it …
Copyright 2013 October 26 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
The last six months of my life have been quite intense, nothing out of the ordinary mind you. There have been things going on in my life that happen in everyone’s lives at one time or another. In May and June we had much needed renovations in our home and all the noise and dust and temporary displacement that go with that. I wonder if it is okay to ask someone to pray for us during renovations. Is that important enough?
In July was our third daughter’s wedding and all the running, planning, preparation, and endless tasks that are part of that. Every night after work there were lists of things to do. It seemed that for every one thing I completed on the list, two more things replaced it. In the end our friends came to our rescue and helped us complete the enormous task of decorating the church and the clean up afterwards. I could sense they were praying for us.
In August our firstborn daughter and her husband had a baby girl and after much anticipation, excitement, and the joy that all you Grandmas can understand, we welcomed tiny Jubilee into our family. She was an answer to prayer and we are in love. Thank you for your prayers.
In September we moved the remainder of our son’s belongings to his new apartment in another city with three other roommates as he started his third year university. I worried like all Moms do, would they get along, would he do okay in his studies, and would he eat properly? Will you pray for them?
Also in September our third daughter moved and all of her belongings and wedding gifts were carefully packed into a U-Haul and we delivered her to her waiting husband who had already started Med School in another province 1280 kilometres away. We helped them settle in, hang pictures, and put things away for a few days, but then it was time to go. My throat was tight and my heart had sunk to my feet as we bid them good-bye and headed home. I know you were praying just like you promised. I could tell.
When we walked into our empty house, I could hear the hum of the fridge and the ticking of the clock. I had never noticed them before; the silence was overwhelming. Even though we had been empty nesters for a couple years already, our nest never felt as empty as that day. My arms and legs were like lead and a feeling of fatigue descended on my body. The feeling was familiar. I felt like this after each of my children moved out. Can you relate? Yes I know you can. Could you pray for us?
Does this sound familiar? Is this your life too? This season of my life summarizes the day to day things that we all face. In fact, I know that most of you can relate to at least one of those things that occurred in our lives these past few months. It is a comfort for me to know that I have friends who will pray for me in my ordinary days for all of the things that happen. I can feel the strength of their prayers amidst the routine of my life. I feel secure that they will not forget me when prayer time comes.
There is rarely a week that goes by that someone does not ask me to pray for them. I always answer an emphatic “indeed I will!” Not one of us would ever say:
“No, I will probably forget about it in five minutes.”
“Nah that does not seem important enough to pray about.”
“Really, you want me to pray for that, get a grip, seriously!”
“Yes, I may remember to pray once but not tomorrow or the next day.”
“No, I feel tired, I think I’ll just go straight to bed tonight and not pray for you.”
“No, you are on your own baby doll.”
But seriously …
Yes, I admit from time to time I have, I did, and I will, forget my promise and I am so sorry I let you down. I have committed to be serious about praying for all of you in the busy times, difficult times, decision times, those crippling seasons of pain, and even in your every day ordinary things. Our God cares about EVERY season in our life and has His hands outstretched to help and HE will never forget His promises!
Do you have someone to pray for you? Will you keep your promise to pray for others when they ask? Do you believe God indeed hears your prayers and is waiting to help?
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 NLT
The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 NLT
Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. Psalm 50:15 NLT
Copyright 2013 September 22 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
A fond memory of my Dad that I wrote the night before he died remembering all the conversations around the well he had drilled at his cottage. The well still overflows after all these years and people still come from all over the lake to get fresh water.
Water water everywhere
But not a drop to drink
Lloyd scratched his head a while
“We need a well I think”
The well it was a gusher
It overflowed its cover
So Lloyd piped it to the lake
So he could share with others
So neighbours came across the beach
To fill buckets to the top
Little kids came with wagons
At the well they made their stop
Soon friends became aware
You could not hurry back away
‘Cause Lloyd would start a story
And of course you had to stay
And if you came by boat
Or if you crawled along the shore
Or tried to sneak in while its dark
Lloyd would spot you from his door
Not a subject went uncovered
Around Lloyd Burpee’s well
If only water spouts could talk
What secrets they could tell
From politics to religion
To who made the best cream pie
What lures caught the biggest bass
And the biggest fishing lie
Were Ford’s or Dodge’s better
And who had the fastest boat
How taxes were way too high
And the best way to build a float
Lloyd’s well was like a webpage
When neighbours there all met
And much more fun to talk
Than e-mail or internet
So if there was a story
That was worth at all to tell
Then you probably heard it first
At Lloyd Burpee’s well
In memory of my Dad, Lloyd Burpee
May 22, 1929 – July 21, 2002
By Cyndi den Otter (C)
Copyright 2002 July 20 10 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
A lot of people believe in God. Some don’t understand what it is that He did for us on the cross but do have a vague idea that He is good. Some non believers call on Him just for emergencies like illness and accidents and flat tires on remote wilderness roads. If you ask someone if they believe in God the answer is often yes, but they don’t believe that He is someone that they need to be involved with on a daily basis. Christians will give you an emphatic yes, they believe, but in reality often only call on Him for emergencies as well. I ask why bother believe in God at all if we are not convinced of His power and lack the knowledge of who He really is? Why would there be a God who is supernatural who could just speak the universe into existence yet just sit back and watch after that, powerless to do any more? Others believe that indeed God is all powerful and supernatural so why would He want to be involved or even care about us little humans scurrying about?
Does God really love us? If He loves us, is He powerful enough to help us? If He is powerful, will He use His power to help us in the day to day routine of our lives?
I think if I am going to believe, I have to believe big. I have to believe that God is all loving, all powerful, and cares about us more than we can begin to comprehend in all things in our lives – big and small, or not bother to believe at all.
What does this mean for us in our day to day lives? How would we live our lives knowing that the God of the universe is crazy in love with us, sent His only son to die for us, and wants to be involved with us every minute of every day? How do we live knowing that we have the same powerful God on our side that spoke the earth into being? What do you need to ask Him to help you with today? He is waiting for you to ask.
Do you need to ask God to save your marriage? I have been in many situations where a married couple sat on opposite sides of the room in front of us saying that their marriage was not salvageable and that there was no hope. I have seen some of those same couples a year later working side by side in ministry with a strong marriage because they dared to believe that God would help them to do the hard work to reconcile. They chose to believe that He cared about their situation and that He had the power.
I have knelt with scores of parents as they pray for their children to return to God. I have looked into their faces full of pain and worry when their children turned their backs and walked away from what they were taught. Leave them in the hands of God and believe that He loves them even more than we are humanly capable of, and receive His peace and reassurance as you wait. Do you believe he cares?
What is your situation? Are you anxiously waiting for test results? Have you going through a serious illness. Do you need comfort and peace in your sleepless nights? Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? Are you drowning in day to day life? God wants to be invited into all of it, yes even the messy parts. Do you believe in your big God?
Perhaps you want to dream big but you don’t think God could use you. Maybe you are stuck in the thought that He would only use someone who is smarter, and more charming, and more educated, and more gifted, and more talented and more popular and and and … Do you dare to believe in what He can do with your life? Do you have the courage to dream that big?
I don’t want to be among the scores of non-believing Christians. I want to believe my God is loving and powerful and caring and big. I don’t want to leave God at church on Sunday morning. I want to invite Him into every part of my life every single day. I am trying to grasp the concept of what He can do in my life if I invite him to participate in every part of my day. If I forget, will you remind me?
Ephesians 3:16-20 16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. NIV
Copyright 2013 May 23 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
When we get in trouble we pray. When we have an emergency we pray. Sometimes people pray when they don’t even have a relationship with God at all. My Dad was a great prayer warrior and man of God. People in his work place would often ask him to pray for their situations because they knew he had a “direct line” to God and could put in a word for them. But does God just hear the 911 prayers or can we talk to Him about all things?
I know in my head that God wants us to pray about all things but I often keep all of those “all things” prayers to myself. I didn’t think people really wanted to know when I as a young mom was praying over my washing machine, or the car tires, or anxious about the kids’ colds. After all, those were not really “important” prayers. In my mind important prayers were deep and religious sounding, like far off missionaries, church vision, world peace, and hungry children in foreign lands. Does God really want to hear about “all things?” Does He really want to hear about “everything” that concerns me? Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6. With a promise like that I can know in my heart and not just my head that He wants to hear from us. It sounds pretty clear to me, what do you think?
My parents were prayer warriors. I remember as a teenager coming back from choir trips late at night and not wanting to wake them, I tiptoed up the stairs, stepping over the steps that squeaked only to hear them praying. My name was mentioned a lot. I think yours was too. I wanted to be able to pray like that. God had a lot to teach me and He gave me a wonderful opportunity to learn.
I found myself face to face in my living room with the women of my bible study. As we made relationships we began to feel safe. As we felt safe we began to talk, and as we began to talk, we learned that many of the concerns we had as women were the same. One woman brought a notebook where we recorded our prayer requests and I was amazed to see how many answers to prayer we could see right before our eyes while others we waited on. Prayer became an all day dialogue with God concerning every part of my day – “all things.” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18. I was glad God gave me a way to pray my “all things” prayers with others. The bible study notebook got scooped up and stashed away and a couple of years later it resurfaced. I began to read about the promises we had claimed and with growing wonder and excitement I got out my pen and checked off some more answers to prayers that had happened while the book was stored away. Some I had forgotten we had prayed about.
God does not forget our prayers and God’s promises do not have an expiry date.
Life presented me with many a quandary and decisions weighed me down. All of my wisdom was not enough and many times I had no clue what to do. Job decisions, child raising, future planning, and financial decisions perplexed me. I have prayed for wisdom more times than I can count. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 Read it! Note the words “gives generously” “to all” “without finding fault” and it “will” be given. Now that is a promise I am going to grab hold of!
We all have those times in our lives when we have 911 calls to God. You know those times … when you are distraught and upset and unable to pray, those times when life is dark and you are unable to string a logical sentence together. God understanding the limitations of our humanity gave us a verse to reassure us that He would understand those distressed prayers and that they would be crystal clear to Him. I love this verse. … the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26.
What is your “all things” prayer today? Is it for yourself, your family, your friends, your church? Are you in a season of 911 prayers? Do you believe God hears you? So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. Hebrews 4:16. Pray. Trust. Listen for His voice. Expect to hear His voice. Thank Him and praise Him and most of all, Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
By Cyndi den Otter (C)
Copyright 2013 April 12 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission