Never Unfriended

FRIENDS!

Happy Spring…

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I’m on the launch team for this timely book ‘Never Unfriended’  by Lisa Jo Baker. This book is full of truth and challenges us to look at our own lives, how we view friendships and what kind of friend we are. Recognising the the cardinal rule of friendship. you have to go first. Chapters explore subjects such as… fear of being hurt (friendship PTSD), listening, being un-fine and of course jealousy and comparison.

These are powerful truths and so important for us in our unfriending world.

A glimpse of the book:

‘…..the ultimate friend, Jesus—the One who moved into the neighborhood to get to know us, the friend of the popular and unpopular, of priests and pastors, of the uneducated and the graduated, of elementary school girls and their minivan-driving moms—put it pretty plain and simple. When asked what the greatest commandment was, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the heart of this book—the call back to friendship—even when it’s hard, awkward, unfamiliar, or scary. Being willing to be a neighbor in the heart sense the word is being willing to connect with the people who God puts in our path. It’s doing life together, especially the hard parts.

It’s choosing friendship on purpose.

And then there’s this.

‘In our relationships, maybe without even realizing it, we try to stuff our people into an image we’ve created for them. An image that’s comfortable for us, but might actually cut off their circulation, their personality, their quirks. I’ve done this for years, often with the best intentions. I love people. I love seeing them grow into the best versions of themselves. The only problem is that it’s not actually up to me to come up with the blueprint for that version. I’m not their God. And they’re not supposed to be created in my image.’

And…

‘We need to give up our expectations for people to be faultless or to be basically different from who they really are. Maybe the person isn’t so “bad” after all; maybe they are just different than we would have made them. Maybe what we are thinking is the absolute “right” way to be or to live is really a personal preference that we are trying to legislate on someone else. We tend to make our view the “right” view, even in areas where God says that other views are okay also. This is the whole concept of Christian freedom.’

Sound good? You can preorder on Amazon or through neverunfriended.com where you will receive the first 5 chapters (and other goodies) as a digital download with your preorder before April 1st.

This book has brought me to some lights on moments, some tears, healing and lots of courage going forward.

Lord. Wrap us in divine wisdom – help us to know when to let go of friendships, to walk away but also when to hold on. Help us to believe the best and be a blessing, to lay down jealousy and to be an encouragement.Help us offer grace to our teenage self and give us courage to be the friend we want to have. Amen.  

It’s time to step into imperfect friendships – letting go of expectations and inviting God-given (opposites, different, awkward) to do life with.

Love, Michelle xo

‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ 1 Cor. 13:7).

‘Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.’ James 3:17–18

 

 

Dad

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My Dad lay in deepest of sleeps, his breath rattling loose around his fragile frame. He was leaving us, departing this momentary world. Many of those around his bed had been allowed their moment and I waited quietly for mine. Even with ten of us around his bedside My Heavenly Father graced me my space. As I looked up to an empty room tangible peace invaded my being.

Just my Dad and me.
I looked down at his hands, one hand held a wooden prayer cross and I wrapped his other around mine.
I wanted to hold his hand as he was ushered in.
That smooth, familiar hand.
That had steered the truck to support our family.
That had betrayed…defended.
That held back screaming fans in the 60s at the packed town hall.
That had given out aid in Croatia.
The hand that had surrendered to God.
The miracle of his surrender made the redemption of God all the more glorious. We all remember that miracle – when God broke into the chaos, pouring rivers of living water and drowning dysfunction. And wherever the river flowed, transformation happened.
…I said all I had to say; my throat squeezed tight, words finally filling my voiceless pain. He heard me, his frail, cancer consumed body slowly departing, but he heard me – healing tears rolled down his cheeks and mine.
‘Well done Dad, well done.’
Family gathered close again, holding hands tight and every second dear.
Sounds never heard before, emotions never experienced.
Then…a glorious February sunlight shone through the hospice window, a new light.

Remembering you today Dad, with Beatles songs and stories and I’m so thankful to our Saviour,
Love, Shell x

I pray for those of you in the unending shadows, that you will not be overcome by fear.
I pray that you will be reassured that He is with you in those moments and that He is near with protection and guidance.
I pray that you will know His comfort, His presence, His peace – always.

You are loved.

I’m stuck in Hope

Hey y’all  – a quick check in from the land of Hope!

Pursuit School of Evangelism was prayed for and commissioned yesterday at the Multiply conference in Vancouver with Luis Palau. Excited to see where God takes this vision!

I am sitting here in a terracotta colored motel room in a town called Hope, BC. Perhaps not our first choice of vacay but the Coquihalla is closed due to multiple accidents and severe weather warnings. In fact, it’s the first time in many years that all roads between the Coast and the Interior are closed. We are often involved in firsts.

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So we end up in Hope where Rambo was filmed! There are a few more visitors tonight as sleepy motels fill up #quietatmosphere

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It brings me to thinking about… wait for it…Hope!

I reposted a blog yesterday, which told the story of my baby bro – here it is. It was read and shared more than ever. Always thankful for hope being shared and the power of prayer realized.

I was thinking about some of my old Hope posts and remembered ‘Camp Hope’ from 2010. Can you remember the emotional scene as we watched 33 Chilean miners rise in the Phoenix capsule, following the natural response of family, friends and strangers setting up an actual ‘Camp Hope.’ Above ground. Waiting.

I love hope, not wishful thinking hope but a confident expectation kind of hope.

I spend a lot of time in Camp Hope. Praying and believing for those trapped, blinded by the dark and awaiting rescue. I’ll wait in Camp Hope for as long as it takes – until I see the Phoenix. We all have our role in the camp, some keep spirits high, some cry, some keep order and some can’t find words  and that’s ok too.

‘The moment we get tired in waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans’ Romans 8:28

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

My favorite quote is in a letter written by 19-year-old Chilean miner Jimmy Sanchez? ‘There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here’

And then there’s Jacob (Joseph’s Father) in the Old Testament.

On reaching Jacob they told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt. Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them’ Genesis 45:26

This far surpassed any news he could have expected – in fact – the King James Bible says he fainted. Of course he did! He had concluded that Joseph was dead – therefore he was unable to conceive any alternative.

God loves to break in far beyond our imagination, far beyond our expectations and our conclusions and surprise us.

Let’s allow our imagination to run wild and find our faith extreme.

I’m staying in Hope,

Love, Michelle x

 

Our Promise. Be.

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Our Promise. Be.

From Isaiah 9

Where words fail.

Faces pale.

Find us in groans of grief.

Our Promise.

Wonderful Counsellor. Be.

Wild fear, smothered in dark.

Tormented.

Too painful, just too hard.

Our promise.

Mighty God. Be.

In the empty, the void.

In the missing voice. No choice.

In loss like no other.

Our Promise.

Everlasting Father. Be.

Restless sunset.

A world making us wince.

Lost innocence.

Our promise.

Prince of Peace. Be.

O come, O come Emmanuel.

Be with us.

Praying this over you today,

Love, Michelle

A Redemptive Advent*ure

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Hi friends near and far,

I don’t want to miss the opportunity to join in with advent people around the world today!

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 the promise that God has given you.

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 and how this sacred season is perfect for Jesus to awaken hope in hearts. Advent reminds me to stop, to breathe, to wait to wonder, to look, to yearn, to anticipate. So 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

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

The weary world rejoices

Are you ready for your redemptive advent*ure?

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.

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‘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.

 

 

He comforts to the point of strength

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I have no words yet I have all the words. Death seems to have a way of breathing new life into our bones and shifting our focus on the eternal. Thank you all for your love, prayers and messages these past few weeks. We have felt it. God has wrapped us up in His love. For those who are new here. Here’s the link to our journey over the past while.

I have been meditating on the valley… because it is a familiar place to us at the moment. It would appear this valley here is no sprint – but what I do know is that ‘even though I walk through the darkest valley.’

THROUGH. Phew

 Rick Warren describes the valley as : Inevitable /\Unpredictable/\Impartial/\Temporary

Valleys happen, they are no respecter of persons and never happen at a good time – read more of his devotional here  – he ends it with this ‘…There is an eternal glory. This is important. Pain can be productive. There will be a benefit for our problems if we respond in the right way. While we have the temporary hassles there is long term, eternal benefit when you go through a valley and respond to it correctly.’

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Our God the comfort, He comforts well – to the point of strength. That’s our promise even when emotions weigh us down and grief gets in the bones. Even in the darkest valley moments. There’s always, ALWAYS light.

Because of promise. Because He is light. And there is no darkness in Him. And at times like these. When we’re fighting for the day. There is a community that rises up. With encouragement and food, and cakes (because sweet things are comforting ;)) meals out and a whole lot of love. Thank you.

….and today I am procrastinating on a uni assignment because I seem to have misplaced creativity. I am supposed to be writing a Fantasy story for 7-9 year olds – so I decided to ‘winterize’ the (neglected) veggie patch instead.

As I begin to turn it over, and weed – I pull up a whole harvest of misshaped carrots – I find monster zucchini hidden under shrivelled leaves – and an abundance of tomatoes desperately crawling on the ground. Yes, there is still fruit – even when it appears we’re not on top of things. There is harvest in this mess.

And a surprise selection of sunflowers grow tall. Facing light.

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After my gardening today I came in for tea and (more) cake and read an article by Danny Silk.  ‘Your life is a gift from God to you. It has infinite value to him, which he communicates to you in all the many ways He loves you…healthy relationships grow between people who have embraced their individual responsibility to tend to their own gardens. …You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. If you have ever been on a plane, you have been subjected to the flight attendants’ spiel about what to do if the cabin loses pressure. They explain that oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling and show you how to put them on. Every time, they remind you that if you are traveling with a child or someone else in need of assistance, you must be sure to put your mask on before you try to help anyone else. The implication is clear. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to care for anyone else. (Thanks Danny!)

So as we walk through the valley we care for ourselves, we hide in the rock, and hear Jesus whisper ‘get up’…. and we take a few more steps.

And even in these past few weeks loved ones near and far have faced their own valley –unexpected news, accident, illness and loss.

Friends: God is near to you – He is near to the broken hearted He rescues those who are crushed in spirit – He prays for us. What a perfect opportunity for the Holy Spirit to meet us in our weakness and pray on our behalf. He knows us.

That’s all for now!

Love, Michelle xo

 

A few days before we returned UK Phil preached on the book of Job – little did we know we’d practicing what he preached… you can listen to it here.

 

Chapter One of the Great Story

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“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle.

When we followed God’s call across the pond. We knew there’d be some sacrifice involved and knew there would be times when that call happens. Last week we heard Phil’s Grandfather (Pop) had deteriorated in health and was in his last days and asked the Lord to grace us with time with him. So we flew on a cramped flight, the Collins clan scattered around the plane.

We spent his last days with him. Talked about his life, about heaven, we prayed, cried, laughed. Pop slept through it all but we know he was listening.  And as Phil sat with his Pop on Monday evening, his final breaths were woven with Phil praying the Lord’s Prayer, until his last breath came with Phil’s ‘Amen.’

 

We woke yesterday to beautiful skies – reminded that his mercies are new every morning. We enjoyed a drive out to Church Stretton, and a beautiful walk over Carding Mill Valley in the Long Mynd. I love to listen to whisper of God in nature. And as I breathed the wonderful air I invited heaven to speak. The stunning landscape changed with the weather as clouds rolled in, the wind blew and sunshine surprised. CS Lewis wrote ‘grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.’

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I looked at my family and rejoiced in the knowledge of a living, loving Christ holding us up.

We reached the top and made our way across heather-covered hills, within moments sheets of rain fell curtain-like around us. The promise of stunning views of the Welsh Hills were wrapped in fog.

I was absorbed by the grey beauty of the valley.

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And paused in His presence.

We walked from the hill, down into the valley, into the pain of more loss. Phil’s mom,Val, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Her pilgrimage here on earth over.  As we sat with her and prayed her into Jesus’ presence – the tangible love of God filled the room. Holy. So holy.

How she loved the Lord – feisty and stubborn, beautiful and childlike. A colourful rich soul.

In our disorientated state of grief. With weary heads and bodies, we are thankful for your love, near and far – we love how God uses people to heal people.

We are amazed with the favour of God’s timing. A friend described it as a ‘perfectly orchestrated piece of a very sad song.’

Pray for us, especially Phil, as we enter into a week of funerals and travel once more across the world to our other home, community and life.

We grieve with hope – knowing there’s no real end.

‘Til heaven – Nanny Val and Pop.

Love, Michelle xo

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Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

She ignored me in the church foyer…

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Hi friends!

How’s your summer?

We’ve enjoyed summer weeks of lovely family and friends staying with us from far-flung places such as UK, Cyprus, Seattle and Vancouver…the pic above was taken during a short break we enjoyed at Harrison Hot Springs.

I promised a few ‘wow’ thoughts – here’s another.

Phil preached a challenging sermon on offence a few weeks ago; combine that with John Bevere’s book and boom!

Isn’t it so easy to be offended? From a crime against us to ‘she ignored me in the church foyer.’

I am challenged to acknowledge how offence can affect EVERYTHING.

Offence is the thief of abounding love, of freedom, of joy.

Offence takes a hold of me and drains life from me.

Offence makes me self-centered.

It becomes my filter with which I view the world.

And soon enough – offence goes deep and takes root, and the root has a name.

Bitterness.

That toxic root becomes an acidic tree.

Oh and bitterness, not only affects me, but those around me.

If we let that bitter tree grow. We live life with a critical heart. We’re moody. Hypersensitive…

Fixating – because bitterness flourishes in the soil of justification. And as we replay the movie of scripted speeches and justified revenge – it becomes a blockbuster of bitterness.

And while we love to blame the one who has offended us – the only one who can take the purposes of God’s plan from me is ME, the only one who can take the purposes of God’s plan from you is YOU.

Bitterness travels in a pack, so not only our emotions – but also health can be affected too. Scientists have even concluded that bitterness, if left unchecked affects our hormones and immunity.

Offence and bitterness suffocate the life out of us – swallowing up the spacious places God has promised.

UNTIL we hear the Holy Spirit – the Counselor whisper – hand it over, hand them over.

But..but…

Forgiveness is the answer – it sets US free. We have been forgiven much.

Hand it over, Hand them over… To Him and see the promised LIFE released in you.

I wonder if you recognize some of those roots and fruits – I know I do.

Lord, give me courage to be honest. I give you permission to shine a light on who I am offended with, reveal unforgiveness or bitterness. Show me where roots of bitterness have taken hold, affecting me and those around me. Bring me into the promised spacious place as I release my offence and those offending me. AMEN.

You are loved,

Michelle xo

“Do not be afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal any unforgiveness or bitterness. The longer you hide it, the stronger it will become and the harder your heart will grow. Stay tenderhearted. How? Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. —EPHESIANS 4:31-32”

 

Sorry for being your biggest critic

 

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Friends,

Last week I mentioned ‘wow’ moments I had read or listened to. Here’s another…

 I read this quote by Abi Stumvoll

‘Stop criticizing your God-given temple (your body) repent (say sorry/change your mind) to every body part that you’ve spoken death to. Because when you speak life to yourself, you will bloom into it’

 Abi carries a great message of freedom after a life of self-hatred and insecurity – here’s a short summary for you with a few of my musings thrown in.

Many of us are our war with ourselves. We have an accuser who tells us everything we are not allowing a lie to wrap itself around the core of who we are. A violence against the truth. When we criticize ourselves we are criticize our Creator. The bible tells us when a kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand. When the war is on against our body it prevents us from living in fullness of our true self. God is calling us to wholeness and reconciliation with ourselves – our mind, body and emotions.

Abi challenges us to say sorry to our bodies for the ridiculously high expectations.

Sorry for expecting perfection

Sorry for being your biggest critic

Crazy? No crazier than saying the constant horrible things about ourselves things day in day out. Isn’t it true that most of what we say and do to ourselves we would never do to another person?

What happens when you love something? You invite love back.

This will take intention and commitment – but let us not starve ourselves of love.

Let us unite with our God created selves and begin the habit of love.

Let us start speaking some love over ourselves, breaking a lifetime of loathing.

Let us agree with truth even if it doesn’t make sense – speaking truth out loud – there is power of life and death in the tongue. You might not ‘feel’ anything but the truth promises to set you free.

My prayer for you today is that you will allow God’s love to reach you as you embrace this truth. That you will go where you think love can’t. That you will hear what He likes about you. That you know what He loves when He sees you.

Declare:

I choose to love what you love. I give myself permission to shine. To be alive and vibrant with the life of Christ. I will not align with lies and the accuser. I will know the truth and the truth will set me free. Amen.

Bless you!

Love, Michelle xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.

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Friends,

Thanks for opening up my musings today.

A happy summer to you – look out for the Collins Clan news later this week.

For my next few posts I will be highlighting some wow truths (to me anyway!) that I have heard/read/experienced these past few months. I hope they will bless you and maybe even create some wow moments for you too.

Phil preached a great sermon on worry and stress from Philippians 4 last week. You can listen to it here!

‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’

I had been meditating on this for several days when in the dark hours worry invaded my thoughts with force – taking me by the neck and rubbing my face in every possible dread filled scenario. Of course we know that the enemy, the accuser speaks one language. LIES. He comes to accuse and tell us everything we are not, and every scenario that will not happen.

In the midst of the onslaught I was reminded of the time I was with a loved one through a dreadful panic attack. During the out of control state I knew I needed to find eye contact so I held my loved ones face in my hands and began to speak life and truth and looked deep into those eyes that began catch the light.

In Philippians 4, the Greek word for worry that Paul refers to is an image of Romans killing – when they would take four ropes and four horses and pull the body in every direction.

Worry does this. It pulls us in every direction.Tearing us apart.

Philippians 4 offers us truths for displacing worry.

Adoration: Worship always beats worry. We are promised that the Lord is near.

Earnest prayer: He loves ours passionate, persistent prayers.

Thanksgiving: How can we not be a thankful people who have found healing and freedom?

So back to my dark hours. Jesus took my face in His hands and loosened the grip around my neck.

‘Look at me’ he He whispered. And as I gazed into the eyes of fire – words of truth and trust began to flow, because that’s what all of this is about TRUST. He reminded me of promises and reassured once more.

And peace descended.

….and I know when that moment comes again, when I’m caught off guard when trust is crowded out and I find myself face down again. I’ll find my face in His hands and hear Him whisper.

‘Look at me beloved’

Have a great week,

You are loved,

Michelle xo