A Bigger Story.

Day 30.

IMG_2923First day on the ski hill today for a few of the Collins fam.

Cue Vangelis, ‘Titles’….

I did it. Set my goal. I completed my goal! 30 days of writing.

30 posts drawing thousands of visitors from over 50 countries. New subscribers. New friends. Old friends reconnecting. Faithful cheerleaders. Daily prompters. THANKYOU! I just love fulfilling my passion, to encourage, to cheer you on. Challenging you to a deeper place of spirituality, of self-examination, asking the who and why, integrating that with the world outside, to a place of knowing a daily reality of God in your world.

I want to encourage you to set your own goals and realize your part in the big story, and to understand the part you play in your story is so important. So needed, not only for you, for those around you.

Yes, that includes you…

Donald Miller writes these four points on the Storyline blog:

• Every story is built around a character or characters. This part is easy. By God’s design, you are the principal character of your story because you are the only character in any story you can control. You are the storyteller and the principal character all in one. The story may be about something other than you, but you have agency and to deny that is to tell a really boring story. The first of many keys to living a great life is to take full responsibility for our lives.

• The character has to want something. If the main character in the story doesn’t want something or if what they want is muddled, the story lacks direction and purpose. The same is true in life. When we want something we launch into the story question, that is “will the character get what they want.” But that’s not all. What we want needs to be good, self sacrificing and we have to want whatever it is we want more than we want glory or to feed our ego or even validation. When we find that thing we want, our story not only engages the world, it engages us and we become much more interested in life itself.

• Every character must go through conflict. Far from being a bad thing, conflict in story is a necessity. In America we live in a culture that avoids conflict but we do so to our own detriment. Conflict fills a story with meaning and beauty. Not only this, but conflict gives value to that which we are trying to attain. And conflict is the only way a character actually changes. There is no character development without conflict. So when we choose our ambitions, they should be difficult and we should anticipate and even welcome conflict.

• Stories must resolve. In stories there’s a scene called a climax. A climactic scene will resolve all the conflict in the story in a single action. Life doesn’t really work this way, but having a visual scene in your mind that you can head toward is motivating. For instance, if you want to lose 30 pounds, don’t set that as a goal, make the goal finishing a marathon. Finishing a marathon is visual and much more motivating.

My Prayer for you today:

“….is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:

Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”

Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road

This isn’t the end of my blogging, just a little less often.

See you soon,

Love, Michelle xoxo

For those who are joining today. Here’s a quick link to my 30 NaBloPoMo posts!

1. Uproot for Fruit

2. Getting intimate with Strangers. 

3. Stop for the One

4. Uncomfortable

5. TuneIn 

6. All in a Days Work 

7. Baby steps to dreams

8. Billy Graham’s last Sermon

9. Marnie’s Story. 

10. Remembrance Day  

11. I Choose to Forgive

12. Meditation: That’s what you need. 

13. Glorious Ruins

14. Beautiful BC. 

15. Stretched. Exploring Beauty. 

16. Sadness and Joy Kiss. 

17.  Sunday Smiles.

18. Reach Out.

19. A Chat with my Blogging Muse.

20. Expectations.

21. Cheers.

22. Fly.

23. A Cosmic Trio.

24. Sunday Soup.

25. Diamonds.

26. Hope on a Rope. 

27. A Wordy Reminder.

28. Giftastic.

29. Trees

30. A Bigger Story.

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Trees.

Day 29.

IMG_3712‘Serene’ Ponthus Beach, Broceliande Forest, France. Photography by Christophe Kiciak.

It’s -2 and Bella is busy throwing wood on the fire for the evening,  I remember a conversation I had with Andy Donaldson a few weeks ago and then I think of my big bro, who creates from wood – making jewelry, furniture, drums. His eye catches the grain to release the art, although he does feel that wood holds much more beauty when it’s alive than when it’s dead.

These three bring todays prompt. Trees.

In the beginning I wrote about roots, but let’s backtrack to a different beginning. In Genesis God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.” And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
all varieties,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—Day Three. Gen 1:11-13

In this beginning, when trees were spoken into being, Jesus was there. Taking part in the art, delighting in detailed design. A vision of the tiniest of tiny becoming towering trees. The spoken order of seasons, of planting, of growth, of prunings, of dead wood, of life, of fruit. I’m sure He knew we would desire to hold onto the vibrancy against dark skies a while longer as the leaves blow towards a harsh winter, the whiteness of dormancy. Of waiting.

The trees of creation become the trees of expecting.

I see Mary and Joseph sitting under a tree, vine-like emotions winding their way around new life. A quick breeze blows through the branches as questions fill their conversation. Leaves fall as fears are voiced to each other then… sunlight breaks through the branches, a gentle reminder of their angelic visitation.

The tree of expecting becomes the tree of the carpenter.

The babe is born, Jesus, cradled in a wooden trough from trees he had spoken into being. Boy Jesus sits and watches Joseph, learning from the carpenter. He watches him carve, saw, file, create. He learns to strip back, smooth the rough. He knows wood, its texture, and its smell.

He sits high in the tree pondering his earthly Father and his craft, pondering his heavenly Father and his creation. His craft. He looks at his own hands, rough with scars from his own woodwork.

The tree of the carpenter becomes the tree of teaching.

Leaning against the tree on the mountains, surrounded by roses of Sharon, he speaks to his friends, teaching and guiding. They have heard him speak to fig trees and about mulberry trees. He has described the mustard seed, his favorite, the weak to the strong, the lost and the found, the last shall be first.

The tree of teaching becomes the tree of purpose.

The garden of Gethsemane offers an uncomfortable pillow for weary heads; Jesus knows agony among the olive trees, dark and shivering, he’s alone with his Father. The wait is over as a different light shines though the trees.

Exhausted, beaten, tormented…Jesus carries the tree to Golgotha. The dead weight of creation on his back, enduring the wood. The tree. Our tree. Our splinters, cuts and pain, the rings of our life running through. Mary watches, she has followed his journey, from a distance, understanding the will of the Father.

There’s a reason dead wood was used for the cross. Dead wood is thrown into the fire.

The tree of purpose becomes the tree of salvation.

It’s Day Three. New Creation. A fruitful life. Your gift.

Happy weekend y’all, enjoy the trees.

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

Giftastic.

Day 28.

When I started this blogging marathon.

Those first days…

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But really…most days felt like this.

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When I publish a post.

When someone manages to breakthrough WordPress security on my blog and leave a comment.

How some imagine the Collins home.

Seriously though, some people think blogging is narcissistic.

As I near the end of this blogging marathon. So me.

Happy Day,

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

A Wordy Reminder.

Day 27.

The Collins home has various degrees of the bleurghs. Colds and sickness and general meh.

But! I was pleased to hear this morning that I had passed the latest module on my degree. I held off on signing up to the next as I wasn’t sure whether the play that I had written about the life of John Harper, preacher on board the Titanic, would be accepted. Apparently it was just fine!  Which means I have now signed up my next module – poetry.

This got me thinking about the time before we moved to Kelowna. The time of  words, songs, poems and the whispers of God through people to reassure us as we moved on.

Those words combined formed this image of words which has held us on the days when we wonder.

Wander? No way. These are the days when the words speak louder than ever.

WordItOut-word-cloud-309207

Now, enjoy this poem. Written by a friend of ours, Andy, our town centre poet, a wandering bard, a family friend who would sit at my parents table and talk about life and its complexities.

 Au Revoir, You Collins’s (With Apologies To Bob Dylan)

 It’s not a simple twist of fate,

Or an idiot wind that carries you to Canada.

I’d say its receptivity, desire,

Faith and humble stamina.

You’re blowing in the wind,

You don’t know where it comes from, where it’s going.

If it becomes a hurricane, the Spirit’s in the blowing.

Blood of the Lamb on the tracks

Of a partially trodden path,

Like the rolling away of a stone.

Far from us, you’ll bear His fruit,

Far from being complete unknowns.

Remembering us, you may get briefly tangled up in blue:

Subterranean, homesick –

If so, the Son will see you through.

You’ll have a shelter from the storm,

Knock- knock- knocking on heaven’s door,

Held by enduring friendship,

Within God’s abundant store.

Blond on blond on blond on blond on blond on blond,

On highways that you visit and revisit;

Don’t think twice, babes, it’s alright,

Yours are prayers and pleasures, stuff of life,

The joy of the Holy Spirit.

God is making planet waves.

Don’t feel lonesome when you go.

Under the maple leaf, Jesus saves,

The train is coming – why should it be slow?

Constant, He is rearranging:

For the times they are a-changing.

© Andy Mullis 10/06/2010

Why not remind yourself today of the words around your life.

How many Bob Dylan songs can you spot in the poem? Answer in comments…that is if you can find a way through WordPress hoops. Goodness.

See you tomorrow,

Michelle xo

Hope on a Rope.

Day 26.

Today’s post is prompted by this picture Phil captured yesterday as he ran in Black Mountain.

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‘But those who wait on the Lord. 
Shall renew their strength;
 They shall mount up with wings like eagles, 
They shall run and not be weary,
 They shall walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40:31

To reach that point of soaring and strength we must WAIT upon the Lord.

Waiting – that time that so often feels like a rut…

Let’s try and think of it differently, in this verse waiting is an active word from the Hebrew word ‘qavah’ which literally means binding together. Imagine the process of making a rope by twisting and weaving, the more strands the stronger the rope. Strands working together, entwined. The same word “qavah” figuratively means ‘to hope, to expect, to look eagerly for, to lie in wait for’

It’s anticipation. It’s Christmas morning at the Collins home.

How else do we tie in this rope of waiting with strength? Think about the use of ropes. When the rope is put to use it draws strength from the strands and goes to work. The more strands we weave into our faith life the more strength He gives us. Our strands could be prayer, study, friendship, laughter, learning from others, solitude, celebrating, rest, serving. All bound together in a life in Him.

Waiting comes in weaving. Strength comes in waiting.

One of the strands I love is to learn from others. Gleaning wisdom and life from those who have ‘been there done that’. Wisdom is woven through scripture in lives and stories. Solomon prayed for it, we are encouraged to ‘get wisdom and get insight’ in addition if we lack wisdom, ask for it and it will given to us abundantly.

 

We have a wonderful group of seniors in our church and I asked them ‘what would be your pearls of wisdom to the next generation’?

Here are some of their answers.

**Laughter is medicine for the soul**

**Look at where the other person is coming from**

**Don’t just look forward. Enjoy each present moment. Age 70 comes all too quickly**

**Every day has it’s glorious moment…or maybe even two. These make each day worthwhile**

**Each person is dealt his own hand of cards (life) to work with. Better to work with it than always complain and wish and hope things would have been different**

**Accept that God is ultimately in charge, and he can be trusted totally**

**Totally love your family, and treasure your friends. They are the icing of life**

**Don’t live life according to emotions; Live life on purpose, God’s purpose••

**Be true to yourself. You were created unique and perfect. Choose early to love yourself as you are, regardless of outside influences**

**I think the test of the “pearls” are when your child says them back to you at an appropriate (inappropriate) moment!….but Mom, you always say,…

**Life is NOT fair. Take what life gives you and do the best you can with it**

**Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.  But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. Matthew 23:11**

**We are so busy charging all our devices to connect with what is important to us. Are we remembering to connect through His Word with the only one who can give us peace and purpose in life**

**Be Yourself….”If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself!” Luke 18:14**

**From the movie Notting Hill, as Hugh Grant wonders if he could re-establish a relationship with Julia Roberts and she is busy ‘on set’. The line “But if you could wait, there are things to say.” Is one I have used effectively many times.

**Common Sense, which means making sound and prudent judgment based on simple perceptions of the situation or facts**

**Common sense to accomplish something not written up in a book. Common sense to know what is right when others my say otherwise. Common sense in university where no absolutes are taught. Common sense to consider the immense implications of unwise decisions. Common sense to solve a problem that cannot be solved at the same level that created them…..I am sure common sense is Gods voice in our inner being giving direction and wisdom**

Time to thread these pearls on the rope don’t you think?

What are your words of wisdom for the next generation?

See you tomorrow,

Love Michelle xoxo

Diamonds yesterday, pearls today, what’s tomorrow… Purple Rain?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamonds.

Day 25.

Rose of Sharon

It was a year ago today that my Nanny Rose passed away; it’s at times like this I’d love to be with my family, remembering our Rosie and keeping her memory alive.

So last week when I asked my Mom to consider writing some thoughts for my blog, I wasn’t really thinking about the timing of it, and it falls on today and that’s good, you know? Many of you know my Mom, for those who don’t, you can meet her here. Anyone who has met her in person remembers her, that’s for sure…

I asked Mom to share a few thoughts on finding God in difficult times.

‘…So when Shell asked me to write something I thought, ‘not this week’. Then I thought ‘why not this week’? Why not share with others how God is in the midst of our dark places. And how he shows us those diamonds in the dust. How those rainbows appear just at the right time. And how we can cartwheel with joy.

I call them diamonds – that comfort, peace and love which God brings in the midst of the most painful of times. I have seen them repeatedly for many years and will share a few with you.

Starting with the most poignant.

I knew that I needed to go to the chapel of rest to see Mom, but I was struggling. I didn’t want to but I needed to. The phone rang and it was my sister. ‘Have you seen the rainbow Sue?’

I looked out to a glorious rainbow to what seemed to reach from my house to hers.

I went to see Mom shortly afterwards, which took away the pain of the image in my mind of her last moments. On our way home, we saw another rainbow, right over the place where Mom had collapsed. It was as though God was saying ‘It’s OK, she’s with me’.

Diamond.

Way back in 1990 I had this word from God. ‘As you stand firm on my rock, the storms will swirl around you and come against you but I AM YOUR ROCK do not move from me. When you walk forward lean into the storm, lean into the wind, do not be forced back, do not bow down to the pressures that come against you for the victory is mine.’

Strong words, words that were to stand me in good stead in the years that followed.

The storms did come, many of them, but after each and every storm came the rainbow, I love rainbows and I am reminded of God’s promise to me every time.  Of course, it’s not a physical rainbow every time; God speaks to us in different ways. Above all,  he has equipped us with His word and in it we can discover the soundest advice for every situation we face.

Underlined in my bible are many promises – for my family, for each of my children, my grandchildren…for my life.

I stand on those promises. Speak them out. Shout them out. Cry them out.

I speak Gods word into dark situations and I see His answer come. In His time.

God comes into our dark times in so many ways to let us know He is walking beside us.

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On New Years Eve 2006, I went to church feeling tired and sad because my Uncle had passed away the night before in hospital. He’d wanted to go, he’d had enough of this life and had prayed many times for God to take him.

We got to the hospital, he’d just gone and there was his bible, open at his favorite scripture. ‘In my Fathers house are many mansions.’ What a blessing to me that was.

Diamond.

Back to New Years Eve morning. It was testimony time so I got up and gave testimony to the wonderful things God had been doing in my family. As I went and sat down I experienced a massive pain in my head. I managed to find the church foyer where I lay on the floor unable to move, I remember friends praying for me at that moment. Days later in the Queen Elizabeth hospital my consultant came to me and said I need to be rejoicing as 50% of people die on the way to hospital after a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage that I had experienced.

Diamond.

Even this last week we had some news that caused us much joy yet attached to it so much pain. In that pain I am praying ‘God, show yourself in this’. As we walked out of our house. I looked up at our Rose of Sharon bush…and there were unexpected fresh blooms. The Rose of Sharon represents Jesus.

Diamond.

These are just a few of many examples of how God speaks to me. Always, someway, somehow. God’s diamonds appear but we have to look for them, to listen for Him in those dark places.’

Thanks Mom – Encouraging words today, and knowing you you’ll keep adding to them as the day goes by!

I would add, that we have faced the worst of situations as a family and in them we have seen the best of God. Be encouraged to look for Him in the places you find yourselves today, He so loves to speak to us.

Verses to encourage you:

O Lord, in you I have found a safe place. Let me never be ashamed. Set me free, because You do what is right and good. Turn Your ear to me, and be quick to save me. Be my rock of strength, a strong place to keep me safe. For You are my rock and my safe place. For the honor of Your name, lead me and show me the way.’ Psalm 31:1-3

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.’ Psalm 18:6

Moses spoke to the people: ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today.’ Exodus 14:13

Finally, be blessed by this song… Your word unfailing. Your promise unshaken. All my hope is in You

What diamonds have you seen this week?

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sunday Soup.

Day 24.

Less of my words today but a hearty combination of pics and links for your Sunday.

Yesterday, I woke too early to a text from Emily asking to be picked up from her KCC ‘all nighter’.  I threw my coat on over my PJ’s in true Rutland Style. Had I not had to leave the house in -5 and de-ice my car I would have missed this.

de iceGive Thanks

had to stop the car on my way to pick up groceries to enjoy my favourite artist enjoying a pastel moment. ‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ C. S. Lewis.

IMG_3658Go Slow

Links I’ve enjoyed this week.

Josiah loves Kid president and his advice on 20 things we should say more often.

Oh Dove.

Grant (yourself) Grace.

We all love this. Sing. Sing. Sing!

Be God-Struck

I’ll end with a story we have all heard before.

One day, father was doing some work and his son came and asked, “Daddy, may I ask you a question?” Father said, “Yeah sure, what it is?” So his son asked, “Dad, how much do you make an hour?” Father got bit upset and said, “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?” Son said, “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” So, father told him “I make Rs. 500 per hour.”

“Oh”, the little boy replied, with his head down. Looking up, he said, “Dad, may I please borrow Rs. 300?” The father furiously said, “if the only reason you asked about my pay is so that you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or other nonsense, then march yourself to your room and go to bed. Think why you are being so selfish. I work hard every day and do not like this childish behavior.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think, “May be there was something he really needed to buy with that Rs. 300 and he really didn’t ask for money very often!” The man went to the door of little boy’s room and opened the door. “Are you asleep, son?” He asked. “No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy. “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier”, said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you, Here’s the Rs.300 you asked for”.

The little boy sat straight up, smiling “oh thank you dad!” Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled some crumpled up notes. The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at his father.

“Why do you want money if you already had some?” the father grumbled. “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied. “Daddy I have Rs. 500 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you”. Father was dumbstruck.

With this reminder, my children have all of me today.

…and if my house feels dusty, it doesn’t matter because look! So pretty.

IMG_3661Dust, magnified 22 million times. pic. twitter.com/QVmzDBY3I8

 Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth. Give Thanks. Love well.

Re–joice. Share Whatever Is Good. Anne Voskamp.

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

A Cosmic Trio.

Day 23.

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C.S.-Lewis

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Guest Post: P.J Collins.

What a week it is, half a century for these unlikely travelers.

Let me start with a confession; I love Doctor Who. Yes, I am that stereotypical six year old hiding behind the sofa, terrified of bog eyed alien monsters.  A 60’s child, so Tom Baker the fourth doctor will always be my Doc.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy and C. S. Lewis, Kennedy and Lewis who passed into a faraway country.

And 50 years of Dr. Who, the longest running Sci fi series to visit our TV screens, with 10 million Britons watching the second show, Kennedy was dead and the Daleks had landed – Lewis’s death was overshadowed that week.

This cosmic trio have influenced my life.

Kennedy, the most distant of my influences gave us the moon –  his speech, his belief and passion that captured a generation’s imagination. We can go beyond. The impossible can be possible, what is unreachable can be reached. He lit the touchpaper and reignited the imagination, he declared ‘A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on’. I can still see those speckled images as man walked on the moon, ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ You see I’m an optimist, I believe in believing. Keep looking up and beyond.

It is Lewis’ understanding of mankind that gave us another giant leap, offering us theology and poetry mingled together in a very holy union. He taught me that atheism is deadly and dull, uninteresting, lacking imagination, unpoetic. It was the glimpse of joy that captured his heart, you know how it is when you read something and it speaks into those deep places, you gaze into a mountain range, glimpsing that joy. I see my walk with Christ like this, listening to his whispers, the prayer, the poetic imagination of our communion with God. We need to put the poetic and imagination right at the centre of our walk with Christ. I want to sit with Jesus as the paralysed man descends through the roof and dust fills the small room; I feel the shock as he heals the withered hand as I stand in the crowd and feel their hard hearts around me. You see I have always had the desire to push through the wardrobe and walk into Narnia. Too many Christians are still organising the coats in the wardrobe and miss the wonder of Aslan. Atheism is dull but Christianity without imagination is deadly.

Tears never fail me when the children in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe return to war-torn Britain from Narnia, there is a land beyond that reaches into our world at war.

From a wardrobe to a police box. What captures me about 50 years of Doctor Who is that he has been always present in our living rooms, on those rainy winter afternoons, after hours of playing football or as a teenager walking around the town centre. It is the constant epic, the themes of salvation, redemption; standing against merciless aliens that want to conquer mankind and enslave them, stealing the uniqueness, stealing life. It is the Doctors need for companionship and the many dimensions he travels through. The world may be overrun by aliens but one man always turns up.

Yes the biblical themes scream at us.

For many in faith we have forgotten that we are in an epic struggle for freedom, that He will return and so many have been captured by this alien force.We must not forget “thy kingdom come” we must not forget the heavens, the eternal reality of the cosmic struggle.

Thankful today for this cosmic trio.

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Fly.

Day 22.

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It’s Five Minute Friday and today’s prompt is FLY.

Joining other bloggers in five minutes of free writing – no editing, no perfecting. Simply ~~flowing~~

Should I write about my love for Fly boots?

Or my love for flying to the UK, and flying back to Kelowna again.

Or when Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) rescued me from the African bush after our car accident, and the locals had to clear a runway in the village and the local witchdoctor surrounded us drum, drum, drumming.

Fly. Hmmm. You’ve only got 5 minutes Michelle. Stop waffling!

….I wrote a post during the Spring, ‘Look at Birds.

I encouraged you to be careless in the cares of God.

I showed pictures of the robin nesting outside of my bedroom window, of bright blue eggs and bald baby birds.

I remember during that time we held a buzzing baptism service at church, where youth and young adults gave glorious testimonies of their salvation, new life, healing.

The overflowing church erupted in praise time and time again, the love of God lifting the roof.

Back to my yard.

During the nesting time I let my dog Sunny out in the yard as usual. The robin would swoop and dive-bomb the dog. The dog would chase the bird.

The fight was intense.

But, what the Momma Bird didn’t… couldn’t do was protect her fledglings from the only response our dog knew.

I had watched and marvelled at those eggs and hatching and first days.

And then… Gone.

Back to church.

We have a responsibility to care and nurture our babes far beyond the glorious testimonies of their new birth.

We are called to disciple and lead our people into a deep faith walk, to encourage them to ask the hard questions and navigate ways through the fog of doubt.

We are called to offer wisdom on the scriptures that speak of the reality of darkness and to shine a light on the enemy of our souls who wants to kill, steal and destroy.

We are called to invest time and energy into those who learn from and follow our example. Those who are looking at our life and asking: how would you handle this…that’s how I will do it. How do you live your life, how do you react to this situation, how do you handle your kids? Those questions can only be answered when we are willing to be a gracious, godly attempt of the answer.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.’ Donald Miller.

I have seen this lived out strong among our youth and young adults. Sharing lives in genuine care, homes, hands and lives open.

‘It is beautiful to discover our wings and learn how to fly; flight is a beautiful process. But then to rest on the wings of God as He flies: this is divine.’ C Joybell C

Five minutes are up (or thereabouts)

What does discipleship look like to you?

Who are you protecting and nurturing to enable them to fly?

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

What do you mean you wanted to hear about MAF rescuing me?!

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Five Minute Friday

Cheers!

Day 21.

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Angelic clay creations were in full flight in the Hope Centre this week. I decided to put my sculpting skills to good use and invited Ken to help me. Ken is a regular to the Hope Centre although he doesn’t usually engage in crafts. His first words to me were ‘I can’t do that’ but as people watched Ken work and encouraged him, he continued his scoring and shaping. As Ken saw that his creation was good, he continued and smiled. By the end of our craft time he was reshaping what I had done – apparently my angel was too muscular. We joked about who would take the angel home when it was fired, I’m sure Ken’s angel will take pride of place in his quiet home this Christmas.

Debra is our Wednesday day manager, a teacher and a potter, she has worked with many of our visitors since we opened 2 years ago.

I asked her:

Why do you offer arts and crafts at the Hope Centre?

Picasso said “Art washes away the dust from everyday life”- I would agree with this.  However, I believe there are intimations of the divine whilst engaging in creative activities.  A significance that points towards the giver of life and breath, the One who breathes inspiration into our hearts and minds – our Heavenly Father.

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What does your art session look like?

We gather around a white wooden table with our coffee and muffins while children dance excitedly around our feet. Amidst the chaos, it is here that the divine unfolds: planning, discussing and implementing the art & craft project; healing and a form of catharsis takes place.  Participants (and HC volunteers) feel their defensive walls collapsing and a sense of peace and safety replaces the cold fallen bricks of the wall. Much is discussed: we share our hopes and dreams; challenges and sorrows; or perhaps, whether or not the color blue should be used instead of green for the foliage in the painting!

Over coffee, paintbrushes, and glue, we laugh, empathize and sometimes cry.  The safe HC environment allows for repressed thoughts and feelings to surface; where they can be given a voice and then simply be received by listening hears with tender hearts. Feeling the emotion, processing it, they can sometimes move on.

Arts and Crafts are a vehicle for expression and communication of our innermost thoughts and feelings.  Feelings that perhaps words cannot express can be sometimes reflected in a piece of art. Artistic endeavors allow for our individual human narrative to be told and shared with the world. Our art piece, whether it is a grand acrylic painting or macaroni glued on the back of a cardboard cereal box says:  I was here and that it matters.

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Can you share any stories of hope from your sessions?

A new/drop-in participant was having a particularly hard day. She decided to participate in the day’s art activity:  creating an African collage/painting.  Tears began to well in her eyes and she told me that I couldn’t know it, but being there that day being able to feel joy and have the ability to express herself in a visual way, “saved her life that day-literally”

Another group lady who has a large brood of children and struggles to make ends, meet told me that she looks forward all week to spending her Wednesdays at the HC where she feels love and friendship.  She said it confirms to her “she is not alone in this”. The support she receives from both the HC volunteers and the other visitors builds her up and helps her cope with difficult life issues she faces when she returns home.

One of ladies needed help with getting donated clothing to the church.  I went to her house and after loading bags in my car; she gave me a tour of her modest home.  Scattered throughout her entire home, were her arts & crafts treasures that she and her daughter made at the HC.  She proudly displayed the items on glass shelves; a fireplace mantle and her paintings were hung on the walls.  Her proudly displayed creations revealed something of the goodness in her soul.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Art connects us to the divine; to our Heavenly Father who delights in our creations.  By creating, we honor God, the Great Creator! It is here that I find fulfillment and joy while sharing my skills and blessings.

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Thanks Debra, we appreciate all you do.

Back to Ken, who sits with us, eats with us and often falls asleep in the Hope Centre.  I see more than a man who is having a go at crafts as he put it ‘like a girl’. I see this verse all around him… and for everyone who walks through the doors.

‘Still, Eternal One, You are our Father.
We are just clay, and You are the potter.
We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth.’ Isaiah 64:8

I asked a few visitors why they came…

*Because I like to meet new friends, get free clothes, go on the internet and play piano sometimes.

*I come because its cozy and for the good people.

*It’s a safe place and I wouldn’t ever go out otherwise.

*Because the resource centre sent me.

*Because I’m cold.

Then one man sang me a song:

 Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

 Where everybody knows your name,

and they’re always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

You can see why this is my favorite place – I hope this inspires you!

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

**Hope Centre is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10-2 at Willow Park Church.

We serve a free, healthy hot lunch daily at 11.30 at ‘the table’. All welcome!

We also offer baby supplies to families in need – diapers, formula and wipes.

Hope to meet you there!**

All of the above art completed by Hope Centre visitors.