Buried Alive

We all know people who don’t want to face the world on a given day. They are tired of being stepped on, and generally sick of the crap of life. Some are overwhelmed by the state of society—”The world is evil; there’s no point; evil is winning”—while some are direct targets of crushing injustice.

In either case, we hear it in their anger. It is evident in their depression. It has become personal. They’re buried under it.

To all those in a state of defeat, worry, frustration, reactive anger, or agony, know that hope is alive somewhere under the rubble. Love is in there too. Faith is recoverable beneath your personal landslide. We hear its life, its breath, its cry for mercy. 

It’s true that corruption and oppression are real, powerful, suffocating, and sometimes deadly. But it hasn’t won. You’re not done breathing. You’re not done with faith, hope, and love. Those three have not flat-lined.

For all those not presently buried, help those who are. It was us yesterday; it could be us tomorrow. Dig to rescue those who are struggling for breath. Shovel the weighty debris off their backs. Get on hands and knees, and push aside the dirt and clay until victims have access to air, to faith, to hope, to love.

Together, let’s resuscitate faith, hope, and love. Those three do remain in people as individuals, and among humanity collectively.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Photo by Roman Apaza on Pexels.c

Leave It All On the Track

I learned a critical life lesson while a member of my college’s track team.

I learned to leave it all on the track.

It was when my college coach moved me from the sprints to the 800 meters that I learned the first part of the lesson.

The hard way.

My first meet running the 800 was an embarrassing failure. I thought I had more in me than I actually did. I took off like I was running the 400. At 600 meters, I was leading and people were cheering …

Then I hit the wall. I suddenly started running in slow motion. The competitors overtook me, as I labored to “run” the final straightaway. I’d blown it. I had so much to learn.

It was a valuable lesson. It brought to my attention that it takes more to win a race than will power. That is a critical ingredient, but it’s not the only one. Failing taught me to also listen to my body. To know my ability.

To inhabit that level of ability until it expanded, and then to inhabit that increased ability.

I learned to pay attention to the details. Daily workouts brought new awareness of my evolving conditioning. I learned I must know my current abilities.

But that, too, was a delicate balance. Often, I thought I had nothing left. I was certain, on the 9th of 10 assigned 400’s at practice, that I couldn’t possibly run more. I was done. But after a 30 second assigned jog, the coach said, “Now another!”

I misjudged myself again. I could run one more. Training proved it over and over again: I could do another. And another. There was more in me than I thought.

Eventually — with repetition repetition repetition — I knew my body. I knew what practice had proved to me. I knew the correct pace to …

Come race day …

Leave it all on the track.

The lessons slowly and imperceptibly were integrated into my being. I could more quickly apply them to different race distances. I couldn’t explain it to anyone, I just knew it. Or better said, I felt it.

That ability translated to the roads when I moved from track to cross country to road racing. I didn’t have a coach to push me after college, so I carried her lessons within. I carried my experiences within.

I pushed myself to the limits I’d learned of myself.

On race days, whether it was a 5K or a half marathon, my goal was to arrive at the finish line at the moment I exhausted everything in me.

To miss that correct pacing was to blow the race.

Race too fast too soon, and I would repeat that awful first 800 race in college. I would exhaust everything I had within me well before the finish line, resulting in failure.

Withhold too much, and I’d never know if I could have done better. If the race was close, I’d never know if I could have won.

Experience internalized knowing how to leave it all on the track.

It is the same in the race of life.

I wish life was a nice, flat, smooth, gentle road, but steep hills sometimes pop up out of nowhere. Rocky terrain unexpectedly appears under our feet. Massive holes open up in front of us, seemingly hoping we’ll fall in.

During the difficult races of life, I draw on what I learned from running:

Empty the tank too soon and I’ll hit the wall and tighten up before the finish line. Empty the tank too late and there was more I should have done.

From running experience, I know that …

I often have more in me than I think. Having to keep on keeping on proves it so. And …

I sometimes stumble into complete exhaustion before the finish line, and I didn’t see it coming. When that happens …

I’ve learned to rest my soul, just as rest is critical in physical training.

I also learned that …

Finding the correct pace is a challenge in life, because it is ever changing and constantly surprising. It is a series of new and different races. I can’t know the right pace because I’ve never run each new race before. I have no previous experience to draw on. I don’t even know if it’s going to be a short sprint or a mega-marathon.

Each new race teaches me new things, even when I’m not aware of how, or for what purpose ahead.

The experiences become integrated into my being. I am not able to explain them, but they are there, to draw on as a past experience one day.

Even the failures — maybe especially the failures, just like that first failed 800 race in college — is never in vain. Each experience is for a purpose. I don’t have to know the purpose now, but I expect to one day. Each failure is to be remembered, so as not to repeat it.

Adjustments must be made … Wisdom must be in play …

Alter my pace. Speed up. Slow down. Push through. Stop. Rest. Recover. Proceed. Be aware, listen to the coach, trust the training, adjust, and …

Do better next time.

Ultimately, succeed in time.

I can’t possibly have the perfect performances for all the brand-new races of life. I know that with life comes challenges, some of them nearly crushing. But …

I want to do as well as I can in the series of races I call life.

I know “failure” is part of the training.

I know that to repeat the same mistakes must not happen. That is the stuff of fools, the stuff of failure. Stubborn refusal to make corrections may result in disastrous, irreparable consequences.

I know that making wise adjustments, and trusting the training of life makes it possible to succeed where I never thought possible.

I know that often there is more in me than I think.

I also know that I have a breaking point, and when it is breached, rest is essential. Recovery is part of training.

And I know that too much rest …

Means I won’t leave it all on the track.

I don’t want to go to my grave, and look back knowing I’d left abilities, potential, opportunities, or purpose in my tank.

That, to me, would be a huge regret.

So I’m focusing on finding just the right pace and just the right energy expenditure to leave it all on the track.

To do that, I need to know what my abilites are. I need to know a right opportunity (and the wrong ones) when I see them. I need to know what my purpose in life is.

Honestly, I can’t see the whole road of my life. But …

I do know the section of road that is right in front of me.

I am committed to getting that section of road right. I don’t want to compromise that standard of getting life right, any more than I would have compromised running my best possible race in my running days.

Keeping the principles of racing in mind, I want to go to my grave with nothing left. Nothing wasted.

I want to leave it all on the track.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7


Cindi Gale

On this day of Michael Cohen’s public hearing before congress, it is the thing called truth that is on my mind. First, though, I want to disclose that my observations of truth have been in the making for many years. In the most upending time of my life, I discovered how truth is targeted, and how easily it can be obscured.

A person I knew for nearly two decades, first demonstrated the degree to which some people will hide and spin truth to avoid personal accountability for egregious wrongdoing.

This person I knew so well had something to hide. He knew I knew what that thing was.

He turned upside-down and inside-out to create a coverup. He caused many relationships to unravel and splinter. He told people his victims caused the unraveling. More than anyone, he focused on me. He ran his newly created lie by me, trying to make me…

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What Is Prayer?

There are varied answers to “What is prayer?”, depending on who has influenced you. Religious customs shape the prayers of most people.

But what if it is God himself who teaches a person about prayer? What if it is God who influenced us, instead of people?

When God is the influencer, prayer is:

Listening and understanding, in place of solicitation.

Informal and constant. It is anytime, anywhere.

Prayer, His way, is:

Deciding to believe what God says, in place of discouragement and fear in dire circumstances.

It is learning who He is while engaging with Him in daily life.

It is conversation, just as we converse with humans.

To not listen in conversation, especially in the presence of one who is all-knowing, is the stuff of fools.

Prayer is:

Realizing He knows your thoughts as soon as you think them. It is acknowledgement that He knows.

It is learning from HIm what to do in the thing you’ve acknowledged together.

This conversation and counseling from God is possible because:

The gap we imagined between us — He in Heaven and we on Earth — has been bridged by Jesus’s sacrifice of life, and by the presence of His Holy Spirit on Earth.

As unlikely as it seems, and as difficult as it is to absorb, He longs to partner with each of us, to engage with us every hour of every day, and to help and empower us in the details of our lives.

The Gravity of God

Cindi Gale

1 Kings 18:20-40

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god…

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Spacious Place

Cindi Gale

Psalm 18

13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness…

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Ocean, What Ocean?

Cindi Gale

I’ve long felt it necessary to be sufficiently hard-nosed in order to survive psychologically through life but something inside tells me that sensitivity is just as important. Without it, without empathy, the world would be an impossibly harsh place. ” – Paul Fischer

Paul is a Londoner now living in Croatia. I am a lifelong American. You, as a reader of this blog, join others from a hundred countries on six continents. At a glance it seems the greater our geographical and cultural divide, the less likely any of us would relate. But life, and how we cope with it, is often a challenge for us all. Supposing there are others in varied states of misery who might like some company, Paul and I are letting you eavesdrop on our recent exchange of emails: 

Hi Cindi,

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Steer Me Right

Living in the landlocked heartland of the United States, I don’t often experience oceans. So during a visit to Mexico recently, I savored the sounds: the rolling waves of the North Atlantic lapping the shore, the calls of unfamiliar birds; the sights: sublime blues, greens and aquas; the sensations: warmth and dynamic, soothing sand underfoot.

There were kayaks and baby catamarans for us to journey a few hundred yards from shore. On each exertion, the swells of the waves lifted and rested, rocked and settled the small crafts. Had the winds been stronger and the waves more forceful, we would have been challenged to paddle or sail on course. But the days were merely breezy — it was on one of those afternoons while kayaking the gentle, stable swells, that a scripture came to mind:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

The lesson was in the water — its power, its movement, its potential force. Assuming we desire God’s will for our lives, if need be, God will increase his power under our efforts to move us where we belong.

Sometimes we paddle, but foolishly. Sometimes we lack motivation and inspiration, and just sit there in our kayaks, not paddling at all. Our humanness makes us incapable of perfection, and many life decisions are burdensome. What if we error? We fear the consequences of poor paddling, poor decisions — “What if I choose the wrong friends, the wrong college or major, the wrong mate, the wrong job in the wrong city, the wrong school for my children, the wrong doctor or medical facility for a grave health issue, the wrong end-of-life care for a loved one … ?”

Fear not. God’s purpose will prevail. Life decisions which appear to us to be permanently consequential, are not so from God’s perspective. Regardless the direction we’ve paddled or drifted, our life stories are not over. If we genuinely desire God’s will for our lives, yet inadvertently paddle or drift in the wrong direction, he will rise like ocean waves to move and settle us onto his course.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

What a relief. The big and small decisions we must make in life, are not as burdensome as they often seem. If we sincerely and consistently aspire to be in God’s will, then, despite our misjudgments, apathy and errors, the LORD’S purpose will certainly prevail.

Productive Rest

Rest. I always thought that it was a break from productivity.

Silly me, because I know the essential role of rest in physical conditioning. Following a period of challenges to the body, rest allows for the body to respond by increasing oxygen-carrying capacity, bone density, muscle expansion, hypertrophy of individual muscle fibers, and more. Leave out the critical phase of rest, and the body will break down. Include the critical phase of rest, and during that time the body improves to better meet the increased demands that are being placed on it.

Our souls need rest also.

Just like in physical training, the amount of time in the rest phase is important: too little and recovery and expansion is compromised; too much and we lose all that we gained from the pain. Anyone who has stopped running for an extended time knows that starting again is like being a first-time runner. We don’t keep fitness without regularly participating at the level we were at before. We simply lose it. It’s not fair, but it’s reality.

So rest is for a time, not meant to be forever, unless your goal is to be a supreme couch potato. And frankly, that’s not good for your health — count on living less years on this planet if rest is your constant state of being. We don’t want our minds, emotions, and abilities to handle life to shrink either. Why not turn the pains we just went through into gains, to better meet the demands that life is placing on us? Rest for a time, but plan to return to life with the “more” that we just acquired.

Some of us are on the opposite end of the spectrum. We think rest equates to laziness. Rest is wasted time. We think it’s unproductive. We feel guilty resting when tasks are waiting. We feel best the more productive we are. We are wired to be task-oriented. Or perhaps we’ve been unknowingly misled to esteem it.

Reframe rest for the soul as being productive, because it is. During rest we are restored. No, it’s not measurable in the way that the performance of the human body can be, but logic informs us that rest must also be beneficial, even essential, to our inner selves.

Find rest for your souls where you choose. I found mine in the arms our loving Father.

I don’t remember when it first happened, the real but immeasurable and unprovable settling inside his embrace. I do remember that it was on a night when I was distraught, anxious and afraid. I was out of ideas and out of options. I so wanted to be a little girl again, when I remembered finding peace in the arms of my parents. Back when it was socially okay to be helpless and afraid. Back when it was acceptable to cry without knowing why. Back when it was okay to find solace there, and the size of me was little and size of my parents was big.

And there it appeared, that first night, the offering of open arms. The big, strong, broad chest, welcoming me to lay my head there. The arms that surrounded me gently but firmly as soon as I settled inside them. The soothing beat of his heart against my cheek.

Since that first night, I seek those arms regularly. I find I’m settling there even when I’m not distraught, afraid, or anxious. I rest in Him simply because I can. It’s wonderful there. I will never outgrow it, there are no age limitations or requirements that must be met first.

He’s there always, welcoming anyone needing rest. And we all do.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Those Who Fear Him

Those who believe in God commonly believe he loves us unconditionally. He blesses us unconditionally. We find solace in that. We hold fast to the belief that as soon as we commit a wrong, even knowing it is incongruent with the God we claim to serve, we are instantly forgiven. We easily send faith into the universe for all the benefits of God, because our father is the creator of that universe. We acquire all that is God’s because we are his children. We believe we are not only loved unconditionally by him, but are promised all his benefits without conditions.

But …

There is a condition. We may erase it the second we read it, but that doesn’t make it go away. We may briefly acknowledge it by claiming that, “Of course, yes, I fear Him,” but that doesn’t make it true.

Do we truly fear Him?

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
the Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbour his anger for ever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children –
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.