Expectations?

Day 20.

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I’m expecting good things from this post…

The scenario. Jesus continued on his travels and entered a village where Martha opened her home to him. Mary sat and listened; hanging on every word Jesus said while Martha busied herself in the kitchen. Martha has often got a bad rap in this story but in her defence she did open her home and they had to eat!

…But all she had to do in the kitchen pulled Martha away. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand’. Oh, I’d be huffin and a puffin in that kitchen clattering those dishes, sighing and whying. Poking in my head in and with that sarcastic edge saying ‘err sorry to interrupt but is there any chance of some help in here’.

Martha’s expectations were different.  Jesus responds with ‘Mary has chosen better.’ There’s the expectation gap – the gap between what we expect and what we experience.

That gap exists in our everyday doesn’t it.

Our summer holidays, the care of others, your kids rooms, their behaviour, them. What church should look like, feel like, sound like.

Frustration sets it until it becomes the bitterness gap. My experience is often limited by my expectations.

*I recognize that our disappointments are often much bigger than this story but we can learn from the heart of it.

Here are some points to consider:

I cannot expect what I do not express. At least Martha said what she was thinking. ‘Don’t you care Lord that she’s left me abandoned in the kitchen.’ How often do I leave my expectations unexpressed? Quietly imposing my standards on others.

I am not authorized to negotiate anyone else’s relationship with God. We can be disappointed in our experience of others, expecting them to express their faith in a certain way. We cannot live another’s experience, worship, prayer or service. We are individually called to answer for our own.

My problem is placing my perception of God’s expectation on others. I realize more and more I have to stand before God for me – not you.

I have attended 4 churches in my 25-year journey with Jesus. I began in a church of ‘no denomination’ although affiliated with the Holiness Pentecostal Movement. For me, there were positives that I hold dear. But we were the best, the elite – or so we thought. We were charismatic; we hosted the biggest names in that movement, we did the lot, often with a heavy dose of judgment on our part. Sorry.

Years later, Phil became Pastor of our home church, our roots. It was here I decided to live out my faith differently because I didn’t want to be told how to behave in my expression.  I would do it my way…all this while looking back and judging my previous experience.  8 years later I moved to an Anglican church in the role of community worker. I quickly judged this church, desperate for things as they were until I decided to remove my charismatic blinkers. I took God out ‘my’ box and began to embrace worship, liturgy, service as it is meant to be. Personal. Owned. It was then I saw a community of people loving God, owning their calling and serving well in the community they were given.

And now I am here, in Kelowna at Willow Park Church. Embracing all of the above in a boxless, spacious place.

I must resist the temptation to draft others into my dysfunction. The above kind of attitude brings a ‘nobody gets lives it the right way but me mentality.’ If there are certain cycles on repeat. Like every church is dissatisfying and every friendship is not up to my standards and everything your child does is not good enough. We might need to look in the mirror. I know I do anyway.

Jesus says ‘Martha Martha, you’re fussing’

Michelle Michelle, you are worried upset, stop the ‘if only they would just….’

The greatest source of my frustration with others is my confusion about God’s expectations of me. Martha was doing the right thing, the thing she was good at, but her heart was a confused. Ask this question. What is it Lord that you want of me? Clarify his expectations of you and hold them close. One of my favorite posts was the expectations of a pastor’s wife. Expectations of others on me – perceived or otherwise.

I know many who read this are in places they never expected to be. Jesus is saying don’t let the way you thought it should play out keep you from experiencing the joy of entering the deepest place and finding me there.

Mary chose what was better. His presence. His ways are above our ways, his thoughts above our thoughts. Don’t let darkness diminish your expectation, it’s time to resurrect your hope.

*Don’t let what you expected keep you from what God wants you to experience* Steven Furtick

I’ll finish with this story…

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

By 
Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Hope this encourages you today!

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

*Today’s post was inspired by Steven Furtick’s teaching ‘the Expectation Gap’

NaBloPoMo November 2013

A Chat with my Blogging Muse.

Day 19.

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A chat…

So, how’s the blogging marathon going Michelle?

Good! I mean good..and hard, and challenging and at times rather tiring.

How does it compare to the actual (half) marathon you just ran?

There are a lot of similarities. The people I am writing alongside – some in it for the fun, others more serious, the unexpected friend popping up to cheer me on, the need for energizing myself along the way. Training too, life itself is my training for writing – reading, experiences, challenges, it all prepares me for the stories I write.

Did you plan the posts in advance?

No, mostly because I decided to join the marathon on the day it began, so I write as the days unfold. I see it like Old Testament manna, enough thoughts and quotes and threads for one-day, then wait see what tomorrow brings.

It’s Day 19. How do you feel today?

Today I feel tiny and a tad fragile, like I want to hide for a while. You know those days, when confidence is hard to find? My INFJ character is reacting to me putting my words out there for 18 days straight, a little too exposed. My pinball machine mind out of control. I’m going to stare out of the window for the day.

Why are you doing this anyway?

A number of reasons. I like a challenge. I am in the midst of a Creative Writing degree and the discipline of writing – consistent and daily is a practice I need to apply and until now I haven’t. Obviously, the idea of writing daily is for practice, editing, improvement. What I didn’t take into account with NaBloPoMo was the challenge of pressing ‘publish’ everyday whether I’m entirely happy with the writing or not – but those who read it are very gracious 😉

Why writing?

Communication and connectedness are my strengths. I love to be able to connect and weave and paint a picture with words. I am startled by beauty and the experience of finding grace everyday. I am predisposed to see the world sacramentally and I love to share these glimpses. I am a hope giver and for me writing is the best avenue for this. My ultimate passion is to tell other peoples stories of hope, of finding hope in tough places.

I am reminded today that to write well I must fully embrace living. Live first, create second. Art is born from life. Joseph Campbell put it like this: I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

Why blogging and not a book?

I started a blog to help my family and friends stay in touch with the Collins in Kelowna. It has evolved over 3 years to more of a devotional and encouragement for people, while still including adventures and observations of our life here and there.

There are four million mommy bloggers alone in North America so I try not take my blog too seriously! I do what I do and enjoy it. There’s the key word in this. ENJOY!

And my book… it’s there pinging around that pinball machine. One day…one day…

Any nugget to leave your lovely readers who have chosen to click onto your blog today?

Yes! Thank you and…

‘Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.’Frederick Buechneur

So that’s me for today, hiding away and that’s okay.

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Reach Out.

Day 18.

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Today’s word Prompt. Reach.

Hmmm. Reach – to stretch out an arm in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something. I ponder which direction to take this, should I offer a rendition of  ‘Reach for Stars’ by S Club or let’s go 60’s and sing the Four Tops classic ‘Reach Out – I’ll be there’ … obviously waaay before my time, but my Auntie Steph played it a lot.

Or we could look at Jesus inviting Thomas to reach out…

The disciples have seen Jesus, he is risen. Thomas has yet to see him and makes it clear that unless he sees the nail marks and puts his finger in his side, he won’t believe. Then there’s the moment when Thomas is face to face with Jesus. Imagine being there, in that room. The doors are locked. The disciples are gathered and Jesus enters. Jesus turns to Thomas and invites him to reach out his hand to his side. To stop doubting and believe. The tension. Will he? Does he? The story goes on to say that Thomas sees, believes and cries out ‘My Lord and My God!’ to which Jesus replies, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Love this, especially as this verse lands on us, the ones who have believed without seeing. Blessed.

So as I reflect on that thought I am led to write to thank the One who reached out to me.

Reach – Inspired by Psalm 40.

I’m breathing.

Darkness swallows whole, echoes down here.

Slime. Stuck.

Wait.

I’m silent.

Surrounded by the mess of me.

I abandon.

Quiet.

I’m inhaling. 

New fragrance meandering through putrid alleys.

Breathe.

I’m hearing.

Faint somethings of an unfamiliar sound.

Listen.

I’m feeling. 

A dancing breeze, blowing in a new choreography.

Move.

I’m touching.

Ropes. Climb. Wings spread.

Heights.

I’m calling.

You hear. You hear.

You rescue. You’re here.

I’m listening. 

Thunder, wild, declaring.

Ending.

I’m tasting.

We sit. We feast.

Purity.

I’m singing. A new song.

I’m seeing. You. In me.

 

See you tomorrow!

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

 

Sunday Smiles.

Day 17.

tumblr_lbmragGvcb1qdw16zo1_1280It’s Sunday. It’s X Factor catch up and I’ve just heard ‘I’m a Celeb’ is starting tonight !

Which means one thing, I don’t plan on using my brain too much.

SO, today’s post is the best church bulletin bloopers, they still make me laugh…

  • Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help.
  • Thursday night – Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say “hell” to someone who doesn’t care much about you.
  • For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
  • This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
  • Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk please come early.
  • Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing “Put me in my little bed accompanied by the pastor.”
  • Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be “Little Mothers” will meet with the Pastor in his study.
  • This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
  • The service will close with “Little Drops of Water.” One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.
  • Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.
  • The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.
  • At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  • Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
  • The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
  • Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.
  • The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”
  • The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7p.m. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  • Weight Watchers will meet at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
  • Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
  • Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who are preparing for the girth of their first child.
  • The Lutheran Men’s group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.
  • The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”
  • Our next song is “Angels We Have Heard Get High.”
  • Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  • The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
  • The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
  • During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
  • Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
  • The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
  • 22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.
  • Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.
  • Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
  • Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.
  • Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
  • Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack’s sermons.
  • Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  • Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.
  • The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.
  • Youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 pm in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
  • Miss Charlene Mason sang “I Will Not Pass This Way Again,” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.
  • This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Hope they bring a smile today,

And finally… to ponder.

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See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

“Laughter is the greatest weapon we have and we, as humans, use it the least. – Mark Twain”

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sadness and Joy Kiss.

Day 16.

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I crash out wordless, exhausted and toasty warm and convince myself that it’s OK to post a picture of my roaring fire and that will be enough for a blog for today…

And while it is OK to have a wordless day. I start to think…and as I sit, my mind weaves around stories, quotes and people and I find a loose thread I like – and here I am.

…I remembered an interview with Rick Warren who described life as a series of problems. Either you are in one now or you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into one.

That God is more interested in our character than our comfort…Yay.

And rather than hills and valleys, back and forth, he describes life as two rails on a rail-track and at all times you have something good and bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

Then Henri Nouwen* writes that life is a time “in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment.” We all have our own experiences of those moments. Those joy moments that we will know will pass. I think of my babes hugging and squeezing and fitting me perfect and then in the blink it’s a different fit,  I spend lovely time with far away friends on Skype and then say goodbye once more, I smile over the pictures of loved ones now gone and hold memories over those I can’t reach out to anymore.

Nouwen suggests that these experiences of sadness and joy create longing in us, “making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one shall take away from us.” and “We were made for something more, something beyond today, and loneliness whispers to us of Jesus and an ultimate union in heaven.”

Until then, we do life together – the reason we were created.

*from Nouwen, Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life

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Street Art in Tel Aviv. National Geographic.

My day began with this story:

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .’  The origin of this letter is unknown.

See you tomorrow,

Bless YOU!

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Stretched. Exploring Beauty.

Day 15
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Dear Girls,

Do you remember when Josiah asked recently ‘when you had a belly button was it an inny or an outy’ or the time Bella asked ‘why is your tummy cracked’.

Babies have a way of stretching you beyond recognition.

You did just that with my body when I was pregnant.

‘Ouch’ people would say as I walked past them. ‘Got to be triplets’ they’d whisper.

39 weeks.

Then at 39 weeks you arrived. Emptying my body of your life. And that skin, that wrapped around you and held you tight. It fell and refused to get back up. That rock cake now Pillsbury dough. The pressure to return to our pre-baby selves is strong. That was never going to happen with me with elasticity loosely offering control.

Your Dad and I watched a documentary about beauty last night. We saw children on catwalks, a Mom fulfilling her life through her child. We saw a face peeled off, sliced and made tighter. We saw women die from anesthetic in the name of beauty. We saw social websites for the beautiful rejecting the ‘not so beautiful’. We saw the creativity of photo-shop edit out the Creators design. Natural life replaced with an untrue sparkle in the eye, quickly obliterated with the words. You’re fat. We watched a world of dissatisfaction.

Now… I know this is not breaking news. But this message is loud this week.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong but I have raised you with a healthy body image. But I fight a bigger demon. And as you switch on your media, you are told, sold an alternative message. It’s a lie.

The biggest choice you will make is who to believe…

I will always encourage you to eat healthily and it’s not because you are gaining weight. I will ask why are you standing staring in the fridge when you have just eaten because it’s about health and good choices.

You know we do our best to eat well – for the most part.

You see me working out to the T25 Beachbody DVD, we all know that 25 minutes or thereabouts of physical exercise is recommended. I feel better when I exercise, I would like to live a long time, and I enjoy the endorphins and the energy that exercise guarantees me.

You know that alongside good physical health I will always speak of a positive body image.

It’s time to rock your own brand of gorgeous. Good health goes beyond sizes.

Some thoughts:

“Do you say that tree isn’t pretty cause it doesn’t look like that tree? We’re all trees. You’re a tree. I’m a tree. You’ve got to love your body, Eve. You’ve got to love your tree. Love your tree.” Eve Ensler, The Good Body.

“If we really knew who God created us to be we would never want to be someone else.” – Bill Johnson

Positive body image leads me to my final thoughts, for this letter anyway.

Let’s talk Maasai. The beauty of the Maasai living in a commercial village fascinated Robert Biswas-Diener he wrote here of his travels through Kenya. The Maasai were free from the influences of media. Of propaganda. How would they know how to be beautiful?

One question he asked was “How satisfied are you with your physical appearance?” To his surprise, everyone in the village regardless of age, number of teeth, or quality of dress, told him that they were completely satisfied with the way they look. They have simple standards for beauty; they focus mostly on those aspects of appearance they can control, and take character traits into account when deciding what is good looking.

In the Maasai language, the word for physical appearance (which roughly translates as a person’s “goodness”) can also be used to describe their morality. In fact, so closely related are these two concepts that the Maasai typically think about attractiveness in terms of both physical attributes and character traits alike, suggesting that beauty is not only skin deep.

When he asked the Maasai about what constitutes a perfectly good-looking person, their answers frequently included friendly, well respected, disciplined, and brave.

And girls, for you to believe this Maasai translation of beauty in the midst of the lie is the bravest thing of all.

I’ll leave you with a challenge.

‘Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. 1 Peter 3:4

Love, Mom xoxo

PS. It’s Friday night, time for pizza.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Beautiful BC

Prompted today by the newspaper article headlined ‘Midlands school BANS children from using ‘damaging Black Country’ dialect.’

Day 14.

Black by day, Red by nightMy Sky: icbymc

 …I watch another blast of color fill the Canadian skies, the children drink Eggnog chatting with a twang of Canadian whispering through their English accents, the teens are getting ready to sit around a campfire for the night at Switchbank ranch.

The subtle influence of beautiful BC. British Columbia.

For 39 years of my young life I was influenced by another BC.

The Black Country, UK.

So, for today’s post I thought I’d introduce my Canadian readers to some Black Country facts and dialect. Yes. We have our own dialect. Contrary to popular (Canadian) belief that I speak like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey.

The Black Country is an area of the English West Midlands north and west of Birmingham and south and east of Wolverhampton. During the Industrial Revolution, it became one of the most industrialised parts of Britain with coal mines, iron foundries and steel mills producing a high level of air pollution.

Hence the name.

The region was described as ‘Black by day and red by night’ by Elihu Burritt, the American Consul to Birmingham in 1862.

In common with most parts of the UK, the extent to which the Black country accent and dialect are used varies from person to person and across the Black Country itself, with some elements of the dialect being stronger in some towns than others.

Despite the close proximity, many inhabitants of the Black Country resist hints at any relationship to people living in Birmingham, which may be called “Brum-a-jum” (way it is spelt). Residents of Birmingham (Brummies) meanwhile often refer to their Black Country neighbours as “Yam Yams”, a reference to the use of “Yow am” (or yow’m) instead of “You are”.

Studies show that 80% of the Black Country words used are that of Anglo Saxon descent. The Anglo Saxons (500AD) were brave and warlike people, expanding across England and pushing it’s native Celts westwards settling in the area.

So here are some examples of Black Country phrases, should you need them, otherwise known as guide to ‘yam yam spake.’

*keep out the oss road – get out of the way also stay on the pavement

*it ay arf black ova bill’s muva’s – looks like there’s a storm coming

*bostin fittle – great food

*ar bin all round the reekin – I’ve been all over the place

*stop ya blartin – stop crying

*stop ya werriting – stop worrying

*yowm like a bibble in can – you never stop talking

*ar bin – I am

*ar bay – I’m not

*ar cor – I can’t

*yow bin bost it ay ya – you’ve broken it haven’t you

*ow bin ya me cocker? – how have you been my friend?

*yowm – you are

*aye ya – aren’t you

*dowa – door

*mayyte – friend

*oss – horse

*wo’ – will not

*kidda – friend

*goo – go

*wick – week

*yampy – stupid

*tarrarabit – goodbye

*tay – tea (meal – dinner)

An example of a conversation.

Kid: Tay, I want me tay.

Mom: Yow cor ave yer tay, tay tay time!

Precious. Love my peeps.

I could go on to write about how my family settled in the mud huts on the Lye waste, or how my Black Country Uncle knocked out a donkey or how Phil’s Great Nan lived on a barge on the Nine Locks canal with 22 siblings – shipping iron ore from the Black Country to London. But I’ll save that for another post.

True to my musing form I have to end with a bible verse – courtesy of the Black Country Gospels.

“God’s gid me power in ‘Evv’n an’ airth. Goo an’ praych the gospel ter the peeple of all nairshuns, baptisin’ ’em in the nairme o’ the Fairther, the Son, an’ th’ ‘Oly Ghost, taychin ’em ter dew the things ar’n cummarndid yer”.

“Wile the shepuds wus waatchin’ oover thayer flocks..a brite lite shon all rahnd ’em. It day ‘arf put the wind up ’em”

Med me lof, have a bostin’ day me babs.

Leave me a Black Country message in comments!

See you tomorrow,

Love, Our ‘Shell  xo

Dedicated to Our Em.

Glorious Ruins

Day 13.

burnt out carPic by Phil

I grab my writing moments as Bella has her swimming lesson, it’s the end of the day, the YMCA feels like a noisy public sauna and it’s midnight dark outside.

Today has forced me to focus on a ruin.

You know the type. Where dysfunction, bad choices and pain have created a desolate rubble heap. Where abandonment resembles charred ashes. This ruin has been desolate for too long.

I face this and wonder if there hope in this situation.

A glimmer?

Surely if I stand for anything it’s hope.

So I search for the answer in the One who left glory to be ruined.

I turn to ruins in scripture and find Ezra and Nehemiah. I see the Old Testament temple overthrown and burnt to the ground. I smell a land charred. Desolate. I see the foundations cracked. Gaping. I see the city walls ruined. Defenseless.

Ruins – we see them everywhere don’t we? Fragile humanity.

Ezra focuses on rebuilding the temple, Nehemiah on the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. What gems did I learn from these stories?

Survey the land before building. Vision gives life. Wisdom leads. Rebuilding needs people. It takes courage. Opposition will come. You will be discouraged. There’s always trouble. Strong foundations are built on praise. Plans are interrupted. There is accusation for those rebuilding. God steps in at the appropriate time. The prophetic voice is strong. The promises of God are yes. The temple was rebuilt. God is intimately involved in our lives. He does the impossible.

These verses:

Ezra. 7:28 Because the Lord my God was helping me, I had courage…

Ezra 10-11 When the workers laid the foundation of The Temple of God, the priests in their robes stood up with trumpets, and the Levites, sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise God in the tradition of David king of Israel. They sang antiphonally praise and thanksgiving to God: Yes! God is good!
Oh yes—he’ll never quit loving Israel! All the people boomed out hurrahs, praising God as the foundation of The Temple of God was laid.

Ezra 8:21. I proclaimed a fast that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions

Then there were these words…. to this song….

Glorious Ruins

by Hillsong.

 When the mountains fall

And the tempest roars You are with me

When creation folds

Still my soul will soar on Your mercy

 

I’ll walk through the fire

With my head lifted high

And my spirit revived in Your story

And I’ll look to the cross

As my failure is lost

In the light of Your glorious grace

 

Let the ruins come to life

In the beauty of Your Name

Rising up from the ashes

God forever You reign

 

And my soul will find refuge

In the shadow of Your wings

I will love You forever

And forever I’ll sing

 

When the world caves in

Still my hope will cling to Your promise

Where my courage ends

Let my heart find strength in Your presence

Thankful to Jesus – the ultimate Glorious Ruin.

Hope this post encourages you, it did me. You are loved.

See you tomorrow!

Love, Michelle xo

Meditation – that’s what you need.

Day 12. 

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I’m a sunset snapper. I wait at waterfalls. I sit in silent woods. I’m lost in oceans.

It is there I meditate on my Creator.

I wake in the dark before the noise to meditate on scripture. I sit and listen as I reflect on the word.

It is there I meditate on my Creator.

And as I meditate – the I is lost and absorbed into my Creator.

I have been taking a group of women through the classic book ‘Celebration of Discipline’. The ‘Discipline of Meditation’ is transforming and I thought I would share my meditation thoughts with you, largely inspired by Richard Foster.

If this isn’t for you then enjoy the pics the Collins fam have taken this week!

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We live in a world of noise, hurry and crowds – if we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture we must be willing recreate silences.

Take your day today – crowded out, voices demanding, how many times have you said ‘I’m too busy’.

The bible uses two words to convey meditation, and together they’re used 58 times in scripture referring to:

Listening to God. Reflecting on Gods word. Reflecting on his works. Rehearsing his deeds. 

Ruminating on his law. 

In each case there is stress upon a changed behavior as a result of an encounter with the living God, it is continual focus upon obedience and faithfulness that distinguishes Christian meditation. 

*Isaac went out to meditate in the evening. Gen 24:63

*I think of you upon my bed and meditate upon you in the watches of the night. Psalm 63:6

*I will meditate upon your promise. Psalm 119:148

*Eli knew how to listen, and taught Samuel.

*Elijah spent day and night in the wilderness learning to discern the still small voice.

The list goes on. God spoke to them not because of special abilities but because they were willing to listen. Christian meditation – the ability to hear Gods voice and obey His word.

History. 

The beauty of a garden created for communion – them with God, Him with them. They fell. They hid.  Then, Moses learned to hear God’s voice, speaking ‘face to face as a man speaks with his friend’. Communion restored. The Israelites were not prepared for this face to face intimacy and preferred to listen to God through Moses. So began a long line of prophets, judges. Thankfully, in the fullness of time, Jesus taught us the reality of the kingdom. Jesus is sets us the ultimate example of mediation and communion, modelling for us a hearing and obeying life.

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Purpose. 

In meditation we are growing into a familiar friendship with Jesus.

What happens in meditation is that we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary of the heart. He is looking for communion with us, with inward fellowship of this kind the only outcome is the transforming the of the inner person.

We can’t remain the same. All that’s in the way we will have to let go – not have to, but want to.

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Misconceptions.

Christian meditation and other types of meditation are worlds apart. One empties the mind, the other fills it. Christian meditation goes beyond detachment through deliverance, to rich attachment with God.

Some would say it’s too difficult, too complicated, let’s leave it to those who have time.

Yet those who meditate would say it is as natural, and important, as breathing.

Some would say it is out of touch with modern day thinking, out of touch with reality and suffering.

Yet rather than immunity, meditation yields insights and wisdom for everyday life. How to deal with, issues, problems, finding breakthroughs.

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Preparing to meditate. 

We learn to mediate by meditating. Our goal is to live in a place of meditation, the church fathers often spoke of ‘optium sanctum’ or holy leisure, a sense of balance and peace through the activities of the day. Living life in the presence, living life deliberately through the day and not sleepwalking. I think that comes in time. So, until then, try setting a time aside.

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Meditate upon Scripture. 

The primary form of meditation is on scripture, the study of scripture centres on exegesis, meditation centres on internalizing and personalising the passage. Resisting the temptation to pass over superficially as rushing reflects our internal state and this is what needs transforming.

Take a single event, parable, a few verses. Allow it to take root. Applying all of your senses to the task.  For example, ‘My peace I give to you’ What is the reality of this verse, brood on the truth, allow the whole person awakened. Rather than dissecting the peace, we are entering into it, until we’re not choosing to act peacefully, it’s springing from within.

Meditate upon creation. 

‘The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of His hands.’ Psalm 19:1

Look at created order. The beauty in symmetry. Listen to birds. God reaches us profoundly when we silence ourselves to listen. Allow it to become a way of life.

photoConclusion. 

Meditation is a passive discipline, characterized by reflection rather than study. Not so much an action but to be acted upon.The purpose of meditation is to hear God more clearly. It is listening, sensing, heeding, the life and light of Christ….which will ultimately transform us.

Are you familiar with Christian mediation? Is it something you practice? I’d love to hear from you!

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

I Choose to Forgive.

Day 11.

The concept of forgiveness can send shivers through the twisted backbone of who we are. The act of forgiveness can heal us to stand strong.

This weekend at church we continued on our #DiscoverJESUS series on the tough sayings of Jesus.

Bill Hogg spoke on ‘Love your enemies’…

corrietenboom2Corrie Ten Boom (cred. wiki)

We heard this story.

‘….It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.’ Powerful words from Corrie Ten Boom.

A more recent story from the Warren family whose son Matthew died this year:

The Warrens said they are grateful that California’s tough gun laws kept weapons out of Matthew’s hands for as long as they did. One of the hardest things they had to do was forgive the person who sold him the gun, Rick said, “because I didn’t want to forgive him.”

“He preyed on a desperate person,” Kay said of the online gun dealer.

Rick said he has to forgive the dealer, not for the dealer’s sake, but for his own.

“I forgive, first, because I’ve been forgiven by God. Second, unforgiveness makes me miserable. And third, I’m going to need more forgiveness in the future.”

“I don’t want to be tied emotionally to that person for the rest of my life,” Kay said.

My personal experience is acknowledging that the enemy is often my own heart, confronting my own gnarled thinking. Often blaming others yet failing to see it starts with me. Maybe we should start with another tough saying ‘Love yourself’.

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Does forgiveness mean we don’t care about justice? Does forgiveness mean there is no consequence for wrong? No. We leave justice and vengeance in God’s hands. Our job is to break cycles of hate, to be people of embrace, forgiving as God, In Christ, forgave us.

It starts with me.

You.

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Take a moment to read this poem by my friend Gerard Kelly from his book Spoken Worship.

I Choose to Forgive.

Though the cuffs of my jeans are muddied

from the dirt you have dragged me through,

I choose to forgive.

Though the nails of my fingers are bloodied

from the fighting you’ve forced me to do,

I choose to forgive.

Though no book or belief I have studied

can make sense of the path you pursue,

I choose to forgive.

Though the walls of heart are broken,

and the centre of my self is black-bruised,

by the lash of the lies that you’ve spoken,

and the wounds of the words that you’ve used,

though I huddle, a tear-trembling tragedy

stripped of the power to trust,

blocked off from all who might help me

by the guilt that came wrapped with your lust,

I choose to forgive.

And this act alone

breaks the cycle,

This act alone

rights the wrong,

This act alone

ends the evil,

This act alone

makes me strong,

Heals blind hatred with soft sight,

kicks the darkness into light.

I choose to forgive.

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xo