Transformation!

Hello again from France!

As our time here draws to a close, I thought I’d offer part two of my musings alongside a few pics – click here for the first.

The theme of transformation runs deep through the ministry of Bless.

Whether it’s the land on which they live (shout out to these girls who laid the floor this week!)

or the lives they reach,

What a privilege to partner for the past 10 days and involve ourselves in the joy and hands-on work of transformation. As our time in France comes to an end, we know it’s just the beginning of a renewed friendship with our longtime friends here in France.

Our refugee friends hold a place in our hearts. Our new brothers with their wide smiles and long eyelashes. Their laughter. Their fierce love for dominos.  Of creativity and colour. The ones who have walked across the land. The desert. The Alps.

Who are leaders and dreamers and carers

Who are created in the image of God.

WIth purpose.

This week we have offered meals, water, fruit, clothes and lots of shoes from the converted ambulance. SOS Chai needs our help to keep going! You can give through their Giving page here.  

 

This song will remind me of this trip. 

I am no victim

I live with a vision

I’m covered by the force of love

Covered in my Savior’s blood

I am no orphan

I’m not a poor man

The Kingdom’s now become my own

And with the King I’ve found a home

(And with the King I have a home)

He’s not just reviving

Not simply restoring

Greater things have yet to come

Greater things have yet to come

He is my Father

I do not wonder

If His plans for me are good

If He’ll come through like He should

‘Cause He is provision

And enough wisdom

To usher in my brightest days

To turn my mourning into praise

I am who He says I am

He is who He says He is

I’m defined by all His promises

Shaped by every word He says

Greater things have yet to come!

Praying you’ll experience the transforming grace of God in your life today,

Love, Michelle xo

 

Advertisements

God sees Diamonds

 

IMG_5928

Hi friends,

We are seven days into our Pursuit School trip to Normandy in France, working alongside our friends Gerard and Chrissie Kelly and the ministry of Bless.

Our days are filled with time in the Bethanie prayer room, food and games with our new Sudanese friends (connect four champ over here;) speaking at church plants, celebrating D’Day.  Onto worshipping in a tiny chapel on the Compostela pilgrimage, on the grounds of our friends’ new campsite and visiting the landing beaches on D’Day.  

 

Stay tuned for my musings over the next days as I reflect on our time.

Let’s begin with the Bless mission statement written by Gerard 

 

We believe every human being has a worth, worth seeing.

Every name is a sound worth saying.

Your potential is a prayer worth praying.

You see coal – God sees diamonds

 

We believe in the grace of the gifts God gives.

His breath in everything that lives.

Greater gifts to be discovered – deep in you, disguised, dust-covered.

You see coal – God sees diamonds 

 

We see traces of truth in the yearnings of youth

God’s image in imagination.

We crave a community that will honour audacity,

And cherish the dreams of its children.

You see coal – God sees diamonds.

 

We see God seeking a servant generation.

Kindness as the kindling to kick-start transformation.

Love as liberation of a captive creation.

We are digging for the diamonds God sees.

 

During our first visit to Caen, we enjoyed the church of Saint Pierre built around the 13th century and the Chateau de Caen built by William the Conqueror in 1060. Our eyes were drawn to stained glass and broken walls, ancient limestone carrying whispered prayers of hundreds of years – of wars and rebuilding.

It was a warehouse on the Presqu’ile that captured my imagination.  

The old warehouse surrounded by white vans housing trafficked daughters – their candles burning.

The derelict warehouse with shattered windows and prophetic graffiti.

The roof caught my attention.

Among the verses of love in 1 Corinthians 13, we are told that ‘love bears all things.’  Brian Simmons writes, although commonly understood to mean that love can bear hardships of any kind, the nominalized form of the verb (stego) is actually the word for ‘roof’ found in Mark 2:4 which says, ‘since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. Paul is saying that love covers all things like a roof covers the house. And like a roof protects and shields, you could say that love springs no leak. It is a safe place that offers shelter, not exposure.

The challenge is that as we offer this kind of love, we can bring transformation that does not follow a system but looks for ways to take off the roof.

||As we stood on broken glass and sang Amazing Grace, Dedicating the ruins,

I saw the pieces forming a mosaic, Into a place of beauty,

Where the writing is on the wall, And a new song rises from the land||

IMG_5968

Watch this (sacred) space,  thank you for your prayers!

Love, Michelle xo

‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink…whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.’

 

You are Invited!

img_9857-2

C.S Lewis calls it ‘The Strangest Story of all’

‘The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus Who was nailed to the cross. He is not here! He has risen from the dead as He said He would. Come and see the place where the Lord lay. Run fast and tell His followers that He is risen from the dead. He is going before you to the country of Galilee. You will see Him there as I have told you.” They went away from the grave in a hurry. They were afraid and yet had much joy. They ran to tell the news to His followers. As they went to tell the followers, Jesus met them and said hello to them. They came and held His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My followers to go to Galilee. They will see Me there.” Matthew 28:5

The Strangest Story of all, the Easter Story.

It’s all about stories.

Those ordinary ones who put Him there that day, the same men who went home to their wives making dinner, to their kids. Pilate…Caiaphas…Soldiers…those doing their job.

The nameless carpenter who crafted the cross. Doing his job.

These ordinaries remind me of the destructive darkness that lies deep… that we are all capable of.

I am reminded that the cross dealt with that darkness and if I don’t deal with it then it deals with me.

It’s all about stories.

Your story, His story.

What will you do with your story, do you live it for yourself, or do you occasionally allow God an appearance…or do you take your story and fully immerse into God’s story? 

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. 1 Peter 1:3 MSG

Richard Rohr writes ‘Most of human life is Holy Saturday, a few days of life are Good Friday, but there only needs to be one single Easter Sunday for us to know the final and eternal pattern. We now live inside of such cosmic hope. Jesus trusted enough to outstare the darkness, to outstare the void, to hold out for the resurrection of the forever-awaited “third day,” and not to try to manufacture His own. That is how God stretches and expands the soul, and makes it big enough to include God.’

Today you are invited into the story of the resurrected life.

‘But Michelle – it’s okay for you to talk of this resurrected life, but really, is this story the answer to my life that feels so dead and dark? How do I leave my Holy Saturday life, how do I leave a tomb life, a life of darkness that I can’t see my way out of.’

Invite Him in, as I did 28 years ago, I invited Jesus into my tomb – my lost, twisted mess. You can do the same, he will lead you out.

A life of life is yours! He came to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect —life in its fullness until you overflow! (10:10) 

…and as life happens, whether its the betrayal of Maundy Thursday, the darkness of Good Friday, the confusion, questions, and silence of Saturday – we can face them from the place of resurrection.

We can face those days in the power, promise and the presence of Jesus.

Happy Easter!

Love, Michelle xo

 

On Doughnuts, Being present and Sunsets

It’s Spring Break in Canada. That time when the Collins Clan (-2) load up their coracle (or Honda Odyssey) and see where the wind blows.

IMG_3713

Our first stop was the Moda Centre in Portland, Oregon, to spend a mortgage payment on cheesy nachos and pop and watch the Portland Trailblazers v Cleveland Cavaliers. This game was a big deal! I decided to cheer for the winning Blazers, although, all credit to Lebron crushing a right-handed dunk, drawing gasps from the sold-out arena. They were almost as noisy as our own Heritage School supporters.

We’ve haven’t spent much time in Portland, so, before we continued our journey we caught the MAX light rail into the city and explored for the morning. It was 10.30am and we noticed restaurants rammed with diners – turns out brunch is a big deal in Portland. We decided there was only one place for our brunch and lined up for 30 minutes at the Voodoo doughnut shop – quite the quirky, gliittered walls, cash only, pink experience. We even got to the meet the well-known owner Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson.

IMG_3761-1

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Onto some tax-free shopping and a whole bowl (redemptive) lunch in the square, listening to stories of Bill, and his long history of martial arts, his children, and his knowledge of Jesus. Security moved Bill on as his perceived harassment was an issue.

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

As of January 2015, Multnomah County, which includes most of the city, had 3,801 homeless people. Some in temporary, others transitional with more than 1,800 are “unsheltered”—that is, sleeping under bridges, in parks, and on sidewalks. Grateful that Portland has several organisations supporting the homeless,  Portland Rescue Mission, Union gospel mission, R2D2 (right to dream too) 

Our journey continued on Highway 26 to Cannon Beach. With eyes wide open, absorbing the scenery and catching our breath, open fields became tree-lined roads, where we admired the fluorescent green, moss wrapped trees. We were brought to an abrupt stop as one of the first on the scene of a horrific car accident. Phil was able to communicate with emergency services, prise open crumpled cars and help the injured out of their vehicles. The sounds and sights you don’t want anyone to experience or witness. Emergency services eventually arrived and we drove on.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their 19-year-old, Kendra and Grandpa, and for those who were airlifted to hospital.

We arrived at our little lodge awaited us in Cannon Beach, the Bible open on my bedside to Psalm 104. Everything I am will praise and bless the Lord! O Lord, my God, your greatness takes my breath away, overwhelming me by your majesty, beauty, and splendor! You wrap yourself with a shimmering, glistening light. You wear sunshine like a garment of glory. You stretch out the starry skies like a tapestry…

….later we walked on the beach with Josiah asking questions, mostly about God being with people in their last moments, and eternity.

DSC_0392

And as the sun began to set, the verse unfolded before us, and we stopped, thankful that God promises to be near, He knows the beginning from the end and every breath we will take.

IMG_3825

You are Loved!

Michelle xo

*all pics mine 😉

Promises, Promises

IMG_9586

Happy Mother’s Day UK!

‘But Mom, we live in Canada,’ declare my children.

‘But I’m English,’ I reply.

Then on May 13, Mother’s Day, Canada. 

‘But Mom, you’re English.’

‘And I live in Canada dear children.’

#win

I am reminded of a post I wrote a while back about my Mom, ‘the laughing, tattooed prayer warrior’ and her love for God’s promises.

Mom’s life view is often from the valley, where mountains loom. But from that place, she always finds God’s promise and knows His presence. Whatever she faces, or we face, she is armed with a dog-eared notebook. This little piece of dynamite is overflowing with promises that God has given her. Verse upon verse, one promise after the other. Mom lives the promises of God, she sees many fulfilled, and some not – yet.

I remember as I went through the medieval torture of delivering twins naturally that Mom and Val played outside of my room. Wheeling one another up and down the halls in wheelchairs, laughing, waiting and no doubt being told off. I remember as Mom walked into the room, now quiet, she looked into my eyes – and hurt for the pain I was in. 

As Moms, we never stop laboring. We never stop delivering.

Jesus promises us, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ That verse has carried us through it all. Suffering still stings, promised strength is not pain immunity. It’s not positive thinking either. It’s focusing on the One who knows. Who sees us through those battles, one breath, one prayer at a time.

Thank you for showing me how this promise life works Mom, I’m thankful that my today is partly because of your faithful yesterdays – your faithful prayers of promise. You shine Mom – with life, His presence, and of course, a few added sequins,

I encourage you all today, find your promises, read them, memorize them, shout them, whisper them, sing them and cry them.

Let’s not work our problems out but allow His promises in.

Blessings and love, 

Michelle xo

What promise are you standing with today? Need encouragement? Here are a few promises for you…

All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13.

‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit’

Zechariah 4:6

‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’

Matthew 11:28-30

‘No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

1 Corinthians 10: 13

 

Get On With It…

Hey friends!

It’s been a while.

I blame the dreaded flu, an unresponsive Macbook and that January meh.

Anyway! Here I am with a February encouragement for you…

PSOE_CoverPhoto_1.0_NV

As you know, Phil and I love to teach, disciple all and invest in the next generation. So it was no surprise when five years ago at a conference in Kelowna, we were given a word about a ‘school’ where people would learn to minister, to preach, to live in God’s presence, to pray – to do. It was a far-reaching Canada wide word.

Then three years ago at Bethel, we were prayed for by several Pastors and were given the same encouragement from the Lord.

We wrote it down, for the appointed time

Last year, Phil was asked the question, ‘who is training the ministers, the evangelists?’ With a divine ‘Kapow’ that appointed time was speaking a clear,

‘Get on with it!’

We wrote a vision document and presented it our denominational leaders and with a resounding YES we gathered a group of people, young and not so, in our living room and presented a vision for a class/placement school in Kelowna, based out of Willow Park.

We dreamed and prayed and pursued.

We worked hard – writing, connecting, decorating, learning, collaborating, wondering…

Last September Pursuit School began with twelve full-time students, starting with a ‘boot camp’ where we took students through our Set Free retreat, Hearing God and understanding the importance of mentoring. The curriculum is packed with subjects, such as how to prep and preach, effective storytelling and understanding culture. Students have shared in church, rang bells with the salvation army, planned projects and taken part in our 21 days of prayer! Pursuit Night School also began with many attending weekly to hear the ‘condensed version.’  

I love the challenge of Bob Goff, ‘quit aiming for what you’re able to do; pick a couple things only God could do.’

I want to encourage you today, dig out your journal of dreams and divine promises.

Allow the breath of God to blow the dust off those prophecies and hear the whisper,

‘Get on with it.’

There’s something for us all in these poetic words of writer and blogger, Sarah Bessey.

My philosophy of ministry right now could best be described as “Get on with it.”

~There will be those who misunderstand: get on with it.

There will be those who judge and find your efforts wanting: get on with it.

There will be those who think you are doing it wrong: get on with it.

There will be those who hold you up as a warning: get on with it.

There will be those who say you have no business doing it: get on with it.

There will be those who believe you’re outside the boundaries: get on with it.

There will be those who are certain you are too much: get on with it.

There will be those who question your faith, your credentials, your right, your voice, your methods, your manners, your tone, your size, your doctrine of atonement, your style, your medium, your translation of the Bible: get on with it.

Get on with the work of the Gospel.

Get on with rising, on with love.

Get on with speaking up and speaking out.

Get on with setting more places at the tables in the wilderness, with opening the doors a bit wider, with blowing the roof off with praise.

Get on with late night walks under the stars and kisses behind the minivan.

Get on with praying for miracles and working for them, too.

Get on with reading widely and listening deeply and being disrupted.

Get on with new paths in unexpected wilderness.

Get on with the people who laugh and cry easily.

Get on with proclaiming freedom and welcome.

Get on with making a home where the dispossessed feel at rest.

Get on with giving away your money and making plans for goodness.

Get on with feeding the hungry and offering water to the parched.

Get on with paying attention.

Get on with staying awake and watchful.

Get on with making a nuisance of yourself to the powerful.

Get on with organizing and protesting and making speeches on Facebook.

Get on with declaring this is the year of the Lord and you’re not going to stop until there is beauty for ashes and joy for mourning.

Get on with making friends and being kind in ordinary ways.

Get on with your own healing and wholeness so that you can offer a healed and whole glimpse of the abundance of God.

Get on with renewal and redemption and resurrection~

We are now accepting applications for Pursuit School starting this September. If you are interested or know someone who might be, get in touch via our website pursuitschool.com

Blessings on you and yours,

Love, Michelle xo

 

Advent: Do it Again.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal

with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am— praise His holy name.

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal;

sing a song from a grateful heart;

sing and never forget all the good He has done. Psalm 103.

When people hear about what God used to do, one of the things they say is: ‘Oh, that was a very long while ago.” . . . I thought it was God that did it. Has God changed? Is he not an immutable God, the same yesterday, today and forever? Does not that furnish an argument to prove that what God has done at one time he can do at another? No, I think I may push it a little further and say what he has done once is a prophecy of what he intends to do again. . . . Whatever God has done . . . is to be looked upon as a precedent. . . [Let us] with earnestness seek that God would restore to us the faith of the men of old, that we may richly enjoy his grace as in the days of old’ Charles Spurgeon

Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. Malachi 3:16

Let us gather this season and tell stories of God’s goodness, of answered prayers. Let us remind each other of Red Sea moments and of dry valleys where the presence of God is promised.

Let us gather around the fire of the spirit burning – our testimonies sparking a flame of faith. Testimonies of today miracles, our homes and hearts filled with a declaration of ‘do it again Lord’. The power of testimony that will prophesy the possibility of God to others, waging war on darkness. The power of testimony that will reveal the reality of God and bring the spirit of celebration.

Let’s share our stories and let God do the rest,

Love, Michelle xo

 

Advent: A New Sound

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Friends near and far, join me in my advent musings over next two weeks ~ I hope they encourage you.

Advent, our time of waiting. The gospels are full of waiting people, waiting with promise. Waiting is active, which means we are fully present in the moment. Trusting that something is happening deep in our God given promise.

Henri Nouwen writes ‘Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. We are always waiting, but it is waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps. Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting.’

The thrill of HOPE

I am reminded of the hope we have in Christ, who is HOPE and how this sacred season is perfect for our hearts to awaken. Advent reminds me to stop, to breathe, to wait to wonder, to look, to yearn, to anticipate. Let us join in with the candle lighters, the life declarers and the hope bringers – believing that God sent his only son as a babe and He made his home on earth and it all fell into place.

Advent is about a bigger picture. It’s about our eyes being opened spiritually, our ears hearing a new sound. To Emmanuel – God with us. How many of us are weary in the waiting, the wondering and worrying? Let us use this time of advent to find moments to whisper the words….

O come, O come Emmanuel

Advent is not the same old same old.  Advent is a time of change, let us spend time looking at the areas in our lives to be redeemed, recognizing what is holding us in its power

or

maybe it will be a tiny spark of wonder, the newest of realizations, or the joy of transformation.

YOU are loved and I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.

‘But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of yourself somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.’ Frederick Buechner.

xo

It’s time to Sing your Song.

Happy October!

IMG_0711It’s been a while… because…and that update is in my next post! My friend messaged me yesterday and suggested a little ‘kaizen,’ a Japanese word, loosely meaning small, continuous change that will eventually add up to big change. Kaizen, could be little things such as cutting down sugar, slowly, building up exercise, gradually, small amounts of time aside to read, adding up to books completed. You get the idea.  

For me. Writing small amounts that will affect the habit once more. So today. I’m writing and musing a little…

There are two verses that are dancing around my soul this week.

 

 

 

The first – one of my favourites.

The Lord your God in your midst,

The Mighty One, will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17

The other is the promise of the new song sung from despair in Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the Lord; 

And He inclined to me,

And heard my cry. 

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,

Out of the miry clay,

And set my feet upon a rock,

And established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth—

 

IMG_0510-1

Here’s a poem I wrote ‘The Song’ Inspired by Psalm 40  

I’m breathing.

This darkness can swallow whole.

It echoes down here.

In the slime.

Wait.

I’m silent.

Surrounded by the mess of me.

I abandon.

Quiet.

I’m inhaling.

A new fragrance as I meander putrid alleys.

Breathe.

I’m hearing.

Faint somethings of a new sound.

Listen.

I’m feeling.

A dancing breeze, blowing in a new choreography.

Move.

I’m touching.

I reach. Wings beneath.

Landing.

I’m listening.

Thunder, wild, declaring.

Ending.

I’m calling.

You hear. You hear.

You rescue. You’re here.

I’m tasting.

Purity.

We sit. We feast.

I’m singing. A new song.

I’m seeing. You. In me.

©Michelle Collins

IMG_0201

Father God, I pray that we hear your song, your song of extreme affection. That we know the true meaning of you rejoicing over us, your dancing and spinning around in joy. Give us ears to hear your love songs, songs of hope and future – and when hear them, that we will believe them. I pray that we will know the beating of your heart. That we respond to the divine romance and our song will join yours. Amen.

You are loved,

Michelle xo

 

Playing and Praying

 

DSC_0301

Phil’s (our) sabbatical drew to a close with long days in Maui, where we valued a time of stopping our work to contemplate His.

We returned to the thoughts of Eugene Peterson who writes well on the Sabbath.

“…it’s the evening when God begins, without our help, his creative day and the morning is when God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated – to participate. So we sleep to get out of the way for a while and join in the rhythm of salvation. We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn” He also adds, “the Deuteronomy reason for Sabbath-keeping is that our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deut 5:15). Never a day off. The consequence: they were no longer considered persons but slaves”

…a familiar story?

As I think of the next 7 years of ministry, the goal is to both pray and play well – to enjoy the art of living and lighten up, even scripture is advising me ‘not to take myself seriously, but take God seriously (Micah 6:8 MSG)

IMG_1950

 

DSC_0233

DSC_0272

Eugene wraps his thoughts with Psalm 92, of gratitude, prayer and the metaphors of music, animals and nature to learn from. Praying and playing share this quality: they develop and mature with age, they don’t go into decline…they are life-enhancing.

We were looking through our gazillions of pics this morning – of Zebras in the Serengeti, Grizzly bears along the highway to Banff, a Rattlesnake poised on my daily walk around the orchards. And from last week as the dawn chorus took on a tropical twist and the ocean was still, the clan took their snorkels down to the salty water and while playing the reef…

DCIM101GOPRO

Playing and Praying

From Psalm 92. //What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,  to sing an anthem to you, the High God! To announce your love each daybreak, sing your faithful presence all through the night, Accompanied by dulcimer and harp, the full-bodied music of strings. You made me so happy, God. I saw your work and I shouted for joy. How magnificent your work, God! How profound your thoughts!….My ears are filled with the sounds of promise: Good people will prosper like palm trees, Grow tall like Lebanon cedars; transplanted to God’s courtyard, They’ll grow tall in the presence of God, lithe and green, virile still in old age. Such witnesses to upright God!//

DSC_0287

I will announce your faithfulness and love.

Evening and Morning.  

Sanctifying my days. Applying His ways.

The sacred rhythms of praying and playing.

Emptying from the clamor of me. Making Him room.

Being. Doing. Repeat.

And in the sabbath sounds I hear a whisper,

‘don’t forget I AM Good News. I AM joy. I AM life.’

The good news is a person: Jesus, who walked on this earth to offer an alternative to a humanity devoid of real hope, who died on a cross in order to redeem humanity, who came “to bring good news to the poor … to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free. Let’s not forget that truth.

With a sabbath softened heart. We continue…

Love, Michelle xo

 

**There have been a number of reading inspirations in the last few weeks. I have been nervous to finish Pete Greig’s book – Dirty Glory – thoughts on that in 6 months or so…**