An African Adventure 2.

The story of Phil, Emily and Jessica in Africa continued. (See yesterday’s post for the first installment)

    Sunday we rose with the sun and traveled through the waking city, soon we were out onto a flat valley. Driving through cultivated patches of green corn and trees I did not know the names of. We drove by many mud huts, over flowing streams and open glades. Reaching the ferry we parked and walked on as crowds of people pushed to get to shaded spots. We were heading to an island nestled offshore, an hour and a half up the coast.

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Once on the other side we followed a dust-filled track and listened to worship as it greeted us.

I preached on the Cross – the power of Christ to set us free from sin, grief, sorrow and pain.

The tin roofed sanctuary became filled with the presence of God, as if the windowless structure had welcomed Him from every direction.

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The front filled with many tears, the pains we feel in the UK and Canada are also in Africa – the cross released its power.

     The last days of our trip were remarkable. Thirty very special friends gave their lives to Christ. Emily and Jessica spent more time helping at the school, packed classes, returning later with pleasure in their hearts.

An exciting conversation took place with a senior medical doctor, who, at the young age of 75 has given 40 years of his life to Mwanza. Healing, caring and driving the city strategy to build 17 clinics.

We became consumed and animated about a boat – a mobile medical clinic for the many hamlets that feed off Victoria.

The forgotten tribes, with no doctors, no gospel.

Old men dream dreams, young men see visions.

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The doctor was dreaming for his region. He would talk to the local medical authority and do some research; did we just birth a vision?

It was 2001 and we had a handful of tiny lives in the preschool, now 2013, 400 in the school, 15 buildings and 22 staff.

God can do amazing things with a humble heart – a gospel heart.

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Africa always does this, intoxicates you with faith, I’m drinking deeply for Kelowna and the church.

     Finally, we traveled again in search of Promised Land, farmland to feed the orphans and the wider community. Some areas were grass green and smooth, short as a meadow that had just been mown. Other parts were uncultivated, dried up scrub. We were shown many drier patches that needed water to bring fruitfulness, not impossible with Victoria. So the search continues; meeting the right person at the right time, God’s time. The road was only a track, red hard clay but it lead to a small sandy, thatched village with no school and many children running around.

In these areas only a small amount are Christians. So we returned from the bush country with a number of offers of land from locals, over inflated prices that need to be talked about over the weeks and months.

Last night I sat and prayed watching the sunset over Lake Victoria, my thoughts and prayers turned to the church and the God given task ahead.

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I conducted my final session with all the staff team – leadership, calling and good attitudes. They asked so many questions, thoughtful and helpful. Organizations are the same the world over; they need vision, clarity, God’s Spirit and people that believe that they can change the world.

We have really appreciated your prayers, support and emails over the past few weeks.

We are excited to see where the visions, prayers and thoughts of the last 10 days takes Living Waters.

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And now…another mission to throw our lives into. Kelowna.

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Have a great  week,

Love , Michelle  xoxo  

 

 

 

 

 

Here

I’m joining a community of bloggers today. Yes it’s Five Minute Friday and this weeks subject is ‘here‘.

The rules…

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

 

 GO.

‘Butterfly fly away’ plays on Bella’s iPod. Emily watches a nativity on an old camcorder. The sound of Ava Maria flowing through the tinny speaker.

Em looks out of the window and screams hurling to the door,

‘Jolyon’s here

Surprise. Surreal.

When a good friend arrives here. We are thankful for the gift.

Dazzling light on perspective, adding weight to vision, cheering and more cheering.

Because the fact is sometimes it is hard in the foreign land. Where people look so similar and speak the same language. Yet…

And has he returns to life in our other land. We still hear the cheers. Giving energy to run well, to run with focus and vision.

Reminded once again we are the ones who threw our hands high at the One shouting

‘Here we are Lord, send us, send us’

Reminded of calling.

And You did send Lord, and we are renewed and determined to fulfil all you have for our community.

 

How about you? Are you surrendering to that call yet?

Foreign lands or familiar streets, seek out your place to say ‘Here I am.’ I’ll be the first to cheer you on.

Got to fly – our friends the Tilbys will soon be here!

 

STOP.

Five Minute Friday

Storm

Photo:Mine

August 2004. We were near the end of our sabbatical when the storm warnings began. There was a new look about Daytona. Locals travelled with haste, a look of fear and intensity. We chatted with new friends in the grocery store, stockpiling cans, water and all things survival. Our small house near the beach would be our haven, we began to prepare the ‘safe room’. Blocking windows, ensuring order, candles, radio and water. Our makeshift citadel. We were ready. The children too were prepared, three girls, all in the same bed, torches in hand. They slept soundly. We tracked Charley across Florida until the moment came. Rains sounding like waterfalls, trees beginning to bow, power shut down – we headed to our safe room. Phil and I sat on our floor mattress like a couple of students and waited. Some would call it divine intervention as Josh Groban declared a tinny ‘You Raise Me Up’ on the battery operated radio, like the angel who’d sat in our kitchen the night before (that’s another story;)  Hurricane Charley arrived sounding like a freight train passing through our yard. Eerie silence followed. Until the next surge, of droning, whining, crashing. In the midst of the din our new friend, the radio DJ informed us that the eye of the storm was over Brookline Avenue. Our road…..

English: This image shows Hurricane Charley of...
Photo: Creative Commons

 Charley moved on to the Atlantic after a couple of hours.

We stared into darkness for a long time, until torches waved in our bleary faces and little voices whispered ‘has Charley been’?

….Storms rage in scripture. Tornadoes rip through the Bible. God speaks out of the whirlwind in Job and whisks the prophet Elijah to heaven in swirling winds.

In Matthew 14 we read of a great stormy experience for the disciples. Verse 22 says ‘Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Are you finding yourself too far out?

Verse 25 says, During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

The fourth watch. The darkest time.

Precious words followed as they feared the ghost walking towards them.

Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’

Take those words to your heart today.

Then there’s the storm of Mark 4:35…

On the evening of that same day Jesus said to his disciples, Let us go across to the other side of the lake. So they left the crowd; the disciples got into the boat in which Jesus was already sitting, and they took him with them. Other boats were there too. Suddenly a strong wind blew up, and the waves began to spill over into the boat, so that it was about to fill with water. Jesus was in the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a pillow. The disciples woke him up and said, Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die? Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, Be quiet! and he said to the waves, Be still! The wind died down, and there was a great calm.Then Jesus said to his disciples,

Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?

Yet again, we see havoc across land this week, wreckage of lives. I pray that our friends in Kentucky will find peace.

My week has been filled with conversations of stormy lives.

Some storms have been raging around lives for weeks, months. Questioning will this ever end? The tiring rage, the noise, the debris.

For some friends, it’s been the devastation of loss and grief. A storm with no warning. Worlds turned upside down. Hurting hearts. A dark time. Psalm 139 promises you ‘that even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you’

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt (...
Image via Wikipedia

Whichever storm you find yourself in I pray that are able to find the eye of the storm, we all know that the storm is not always removed, but Jesus in His love is our safe room, our haven. Sometimes, the ‘Be still’ is about you and your response in the storm.

One of things we learned was that being in the eye of the storm didn’t eliminate the noise, even the fear at times, but we realised soon enough that the devastation could have been a lot worse.

And remember Jesus slept! I love this line from ‘When Heaven Invades Earth ‘It was the peace of heaven that enabled him to sleep. It was the same peace that subdued the storm. You only have authority over the storm you can sleep in’

I think my kids had the right idea.

Psalm 91:1   

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,

Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.

I trust in you and I’m safe!” MSG

Have a great week – Sleep well.

Good Ass

British seaside donkeys in Skegness, Lincolnsh...
Photo:Wiki

A week of intensity and change in the life of our church – grateful for  God’s purposes and plans as we move forward.

Our friends Mark Ritchie and his daughter Keziah visited Kelowna – an eventful time on Big White as Keziah took a fall and broke her leg on Monday. We were thankful that no operation was needed and that Kez got a whole row of seats to fly back to the UK on Wednesday. The young people loved Mark and his preaching at Rush2012 last weekend, a wonderful event with 1500 young people – many finding faith for the first time.

I am well into my new Uni ‘Writing’ module… looking forward to practicing and testing out what I have learned on my blog readers. That’s you. Oh and while I have your attention I need to increase my followers on my blog, would you be happy to follow michelle’s musings? If so,  can I ask you to head to the right of the screen, click follow and then you’ll receive a post by email when I write one.

…..This week as I reminisced, I found myself on a beach. Seven years old, a white blond walking smile. Sunburnt and barefoot. The crowded beach, a bucket and spade holiday at its British best. Deckchairs and dinghies, the Sun and the sun.

England in the 70’s.

Our annual trip to Weymouth was THE holiday to be on. Our family of five, then five more, not forgetting that special five more. We were like gypsies, gathering, traveling and sticking together.

Back to the beach…

The sandman and his intricate carvings – never ceasing to amaze us. A pink cloud of candy floss sticking to my hair as I enjoyed the Punch and Judy show of the day.

A traditional Punch and Judy booth.
Photo:Wiki

The highlight of the day came after lunch…the donkey ride.

I lined up clutching my 25p, with whoever I could persuade to take me, someone who wasn’t writing postcards or playing swing ball, usually my speedo clad Dad. The smell of donkey, the morose guide and the worn leather saddle all made the experience what it is. Memorable.

The donkeys, each had their own name emblazoned on their harness enabling us to make an informed choice of which we ride. I was hoisted up onto my choice of my donkey. I’d always choose a name like ‘Sparkle’.

I’m not sure if you have ever been on a donkey ride but on an English beach it’s pretty straightforward. You are led up the beach for five minutes in a line, with ten other donkeys complete with children. And for those ten minutes, that slow donkey is all yours, you talk to it, you stroke it, and on my beach you look up and see King George  on a white horse set in limestone on Osmington hill, inspiring you to offer your beast a little kick to go quicker.

Photo:bbc

Your ride finished, you step down like a jockey. Giving your donkey a pat on the back, releasing a cloud of  sandy dust.

As the day passed I would casually walk by the donkeys, I was sure my donkey recognized me. I mean, it didn’t speak to me or anything….

Hmmm talking donkeys.

Now there’s a whole story in itself found in Numbers 22.

There’s a guy named Balaam, he practices sorcery, wizardry – a diviner. He gets paid to bring down curses and blessings on people. With this in mind Balak, the King of Moab decides to call on his services to curse the Israelites, now encamped on Jordan. He is feeling overwhelmed knowing that soon enough the Israelites would take over and destroy them. The King’s people ask Balaam for his services and he decides to ‘sleep on it’ which he did but wasn’t given the go ahead. The King sent more people, Princes this time, offering riches beyond imagination, sure to persuade. This time Balaam agrees to sleep on it again, but asks the princes to stay – greed and flattery whirling around his head he is bugged and pesters God, as Balaam sleeps that night he receives a conditional go ahead from God.

Next day, he saddles up his donkey and heads off.

As they travel with the princes God sends an angel to block their path, No one sees the angel – except the donkey. A comical scene ensues, first the donkey leaves the  road and heads to a field, recieving a beating from Balaam. The second time, he crushes Balaam’s foot against a wall, another beating and the third the donkey stops in a narrow path, you know the place, hemmed in no room to turn. This time the donkey protests by laying down in the road, resulting in a third beating. Having had enough beatings the Lord opens the donkeys mouth and says,

‘What have I done to you to make me beat you these three times’

Now, does this donkey have the attitude of Eeyore, despondent with low esteem or Donkey from Shrek, talkative and chatty?

A conversation continues between Balaam and the donkey (I’m guessing he doesn’t have an Eddie Murphy accent) making a fool of him in front of those around.

The Prophet Balaam and the Ass, by Rembrandt v...
Image:Creative Commons. The Prophet Balaam and the Ass, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1626.

Until finally, the Lord opens Balaam’s eyes and he sees the angel blocking the way before them – Balaam bows low and falls facedown.

Balaam’s response was to turn back, but God gave him permission to go ahead. Chances, more chances. He is good at that.

The story continues and as much as Balaam tried he could only bless the Israelites, time and time again.

So many truths spring out of this story. Maybe read it and see what you find.

I’ll go with this one…

Is God standing right before us. Are we so consumed in ourselves and the ordinary that we fail to see Him. You know what it’s like, when we have this journey all figured out. Shouting ‘that’s the way we do it’ 

Do we limit our experience of God, and the way He wants to communicate with us?

Our creative God communicates continually.

‘Lord, open our eyes to see you, open our ears to hear you all about us. We want to seek you wholeheartedly’

 

…. And remember that God still speaks through donkeys today.

 ‘Eee Awww’

Have a great week friends!

 

 

One Thousand Gifts. It starts now…

I thought it was about time I got on with my list. I’ve talked about it enough. Remember my Eucharisteo post. One of my faves. Lovely memories…

My list will be mostly photos. Images of life – of what I have seen then captured – often I will shower the image with words, more often hopefully not.

It’s all about counting blessings, being thankful – gratitude. Isn’t it so easy to run this race, head down, without taking in the view. I mentioned a few weeks ago, Emily and I have been taking part in the 365project. I’m on the hunt for images everywhere – and in doing so see colour I have never seen before, I see detail, faces, clouds, shadows, emotion…

I see creation.

I have found gratitude easier to find you know?

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world’  Sarah Ban Breathnach

Lets begin…

1. Knowing my Creator.

2. Swarming birds dancing across the skies.

3. The beginning of Lent.

4. My Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Fascination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Perfect & Fragile. Praying for a 7 week old baby in heart surgery and took this. He is making good recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Waking up to Art.

8.Learning

9. Movie Night at the Collinses

 10. Bella’s current favorite reading spot

I

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is gratitude something you practice. How is your gratitude list growing? Maybe think about joining the thousand gifts community.

How is Lent looking for you today? I read Anne Voskamps blog this morning on lent. I love this line.

‘Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation’ 

Let’s not forget formation as we walk together towards Easter.


Surprised by Snow

Snow Ghosts at Big White

Josiah sang this week….. ‘Oh no, you’ll never let go, through the ice and through the snow’

Worship with a distinct Canadian influence. It will be a particular favorite of mine as I drive around Kelowna today.

‘You wake up on a Winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there – the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this happened overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering, and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make your heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise in that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed’  Frederick Beuchner, Telling the Truth – The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale.

‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of his hands’

Click here and Enjoy this

Breathtaking, don’t you think?

Revelstoke Summer 2011. Our Lyndon.

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk, not to stand still in terror, but to walk and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility. Habakkuk 3:19

Praying for you, that whatever color you find your weekend, that you know God as your strength, that grace will cover all you do and as you walk on that rocky mountain you will know a sure footing.

All is Grace

Yabba Dabba Doo

White snow filled skies have dominated my world this week. Temperatures of -18. I felt like I was living in a black and white still. You can imagine my joy when I captured this.

I love looking for gifts of colour in my everyday.

Phil and I attended our first marriage seminar! Focusing on the Gottman Love Lab research. Interesting stuff. We realise we are doing pretty well. Good friends do marriage well don’t you think?

Emily and I are both taking part in the 365project. A photograph a day for the whole year. Challenging and a lot of a fun, we went out yesterday for a photo treasure hunt. Looking for good shots as we drove. It’s great how we are both so different in what we see.

Phil preached this week on setting your face like flint. A great message for the year ahead.

A few thoughts from the sermon…

Last week we saw the terrible accident of the Costa Concordia. The great Italian cruise liner which ran aground in Italy. Causing death, disaster and total trauma. Questions have arisen yet again over the structure and design of such ships. The floating world. With layer upon layer of malls, spas, swimming pools and casinos. The floating temple of fun. Built like sky scrapers but without the draft to fulfil the world above.

The metaphor for our faith is clear, what is below your waterline? How deep is your spirituality? Is it deep enough to carry you through? Or are you building layer upon layer on the surface of your life. The temple above outweighing the depth below.

Our challenge is to be determined, to be steadfast, to be resolute, to set our faces like flint in the year ahead to deepen our faith, our relationship with Christ.

Jesus himself was the most resolute as he set his face toward Jerusalem. We are encouraged to do the same as we face our task.

What does that mean?

Resolute. Steadfast. Immovable.

I like this, it gives the allusion of a statue; or perhaps to wrestling, and to standing one’s ground.

Where is this required?

In our prayer life. Pushing in. Being committed, determined.

In our bible reading. Allowing the living, breathing, active word of God to affect who we are, our decisions, our world.

In our service. Being committed to your activity. And if you don’t have one. Find one. Whether church volunteering or community service.

But what can I do? Something.

Everywhere we look there’s something. Have eyes to see. I write sat in the Talkin Donkey in Vernon. A Salvation Army coffee house who use their profits to combat social injustice in our community and around the world. I pick up a card. The bruised eyes of a woman pierce, they watch me eating my bagel, sipping my coffee. They ask me to go to this to make a difference in ending human trafficking.

I have a choice to make. She didn’t….until now.

Be determined and committed. You are valued. Time to pass it on friend.

“With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort” 1Corinthians 15:58

Deep deep waters. Where life transforms. A new sound is heard.

Deep, deep waters. Visibility only possible with another light.

Deep, deep waters. Where the breath of God becomes mine so that pressure doesn’t crush.

Deep, deep waters. Where you can but trust.

Deep, deep waters. You cannot run aground.

 And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me,
so I’m not disgraced.
Therefore I set my face like flint,
confident that I’ll never regret this.
My champion is right here.
Let’s take our stand together! Isaiah 50:7-8

Have a great week.

And remember…

The sharp edge of flint can be used to ignite fires.

The Blues?

I’m told it’s the most depressing day of the year otherwise known as Blue Monday (in the Northern Latitudes at least, this doesn’t apply to any Turners out there…)

The darkest day, gloomy, grey.

Malaise motivation. Happy hibernation.

Christmas is over, you’ve put on weight, the goals are waning.

You’re tired and what’s more your credit card bills are in.

Days are short, nights are long, melatonin confused.

For many this is winter blues, I would prefer to use the word blues rather than use the word depression liberally. “True clinical depression (as opposed to a post-Christmas slump) is a far more complex condition that is affected by many factors, chronic and temporary, internal and external,” wrote Dean Burnett, Psychiatry Lecturer in an editorial for the Guardian.

Here is the British mental-health facility’s tongue-in-cheek formula: (W+D-d)xTQ÷MNa

W = weather conditions

D = debt

d = ability to pay off debt

T = time passed since Christmas

Q = time passed since breaking New Year’s resolution

M = motivation levels

Na = need to take action.

Action! For us it’s living simply, keeping out the board games, finding colour in your day, embracing the season – skating, skiing, sledding, being creative,  giving to others and of course. Exercise…

With all that said, here’s  a few funnies to brighten up your day!

 Church bulletin mistakes…

 *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 will 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.

Happy Blue Monday friends.

Are you facing the blues this January?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ Romans 15:13

   ‘….Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!’ Nehemiah 8:10

Eucharisteo!

October 2011. Our long awaited trip arrived. The UK. The first time of returning as a family to the homeland. We were upgraded to business class which, when travelling overnight with the 4 children is just outright blessing! Feet up and heads back, the Collins spread themselves about that cabin like regular rich travellers. Alongside businessmen travelling alone staring, wondering, asking themselves – how? why?

Bella with earphones in situ shouts ‘Dad, have you travelled in this part of the plane before’? Phil discreetly shook his head.

‘PARDON, dad?

‘No, Bella’

Businessman smiled.

As we flew into London. A strange sense of ownership came upon me. The green, the fields, the rows of houses, the London eye, the millennium dome.

Walking through the airport, Josiah says excitedly ‘Mom, Mom remember these moving stairs’?  I think a trip to the mall is in order. Escalators in abundance.

On the subject of our mall. Josiah asked. ‘Are we climbing to the top of Merry Hill’?

‘What do you mean Josiah?

‘You said we were going up Merry Hill‘?!

We sped down the motorway, loaded with luggage. Registration plates on cars looking they were made by fisher price and sold in toys r us.

OOO 33 - A Plate For Investment

We have enjoyed a great first week of family, friends and visiting.

A whirlwind of loveliness.

Top question of the week. Does this feel like home? Our answer is clear, it’s simple. Yes. We are in such a blessed place in being able to say both places feel like home.

The connection is tangible.

We visited our home church on Sunday, thankful for the welcome and opportunity to share and pray.

Gungor in their song Crags and Clay describe ‘creation’s dance being in our skin’

‘The chaos of creation’s dance

A tapestry, a symphony

Of life himself

Of love herself

It’s written in our very skin’

I’m in love with that imagery and believe community and friendship are part of that dance. It’s in your skin.

Onto thanksgiving, as you can probably work out Canadian thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in the UK. We thought we would change that this week by gathering our friends at the biggest house (thanks family Evans) and holding thanksgiving roast for 18 adults. 27 children. Food upon shared food. Blessing. Conversation. Praying. Releasing. Sending. Did I mention food? We will linger for a while then journey on from our different continents. Living out very different lives, yet intrinsically similar.

So what were my friends thankful for?

Good friends, untidy hair, the Collins home for 4 weeks, to be alive, socialising, the animals, Jesus, for this dinner, the world and Bella, cake, God, each other, nature, apple (mac) chocolate cake, sunshine, family, friends over the years, my beautiful wife, opportunities for evangelism, 5 kids and still looking handsome, support pants, double decker planes, friends like family, grace of god, dishwasher, good authors, community of faith, walks, coffee, Josiah, the richness of friendship.

On the wonderful subject of thanksgiving.

Eucharisteo! My new favourite word.

As I mentioned previously, I am reading Ann Voskamp’s book. I love her thoughts. I especially love her gratitude list. I love lists. I might just have to start my own gratitude list. Would anyone like to join me?

Eucharisteo means thanksgiving, it envelopes the Greek word for grace, Charis, but also holds it’s derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning joy. (p32)

The central symbol of life, of scripture, running through life and in death, it runs through surviving, eating together, though sacrifice. Thanksgiving. Turning it around when negatives are so easily come by and produced. Switching it up to gratitude.

This isn’t about positive thinking, it’s more than that.

A life of gratitude brings transformation. Jesus gave thanks and broke bread. The one healed leper returned to give thanks and in return received wholeness, more than physical healing.

Study scripture to find the thread of thanksgiving and not only see how it proceeds miracles but precedes too.

Let’s get into the habit of Eucharisteo.

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world’  Sarah Ban Breathnach