A Chat with my Blogging Muse.

Delicious Autumn!

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Thankfully my muse arrived for a chat…

So, Michelle, where have you been?

I could ask you the same question!

What happened to blogging everyday in October?

I had all good intentions until day six and realized the goal was unrealistic. We had a Phil’s 50th birthday to celebrate (I’m 44 – have I mentioned that?) The celebration began with an open house at our place for two days when 200 lovely church members dropped by to wish the main man a happy birthday. Great to connect with so many Willow Park people. Many cups of tea later we drove up to Sparkling Hill (on our own!) The celebrations continued with a week of fun times with friends and family. We quickly moved on to celebrate Josiah’s 9th birthday. Josiah did wonder why Phil was getting all the attention – after all 9 is a great age…

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AND during all the celebrations I had a 3000-word essay to complete.

So I did write everyday – I just didn’t blog everyday.

Remind us again of why you write…

Communication and connectedness are my strengths. I love to be able to 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 carry hope and for me writing is the best avenue for this. My ultimate passion is to tell other peoples stories of hope and of finding true faith in tough places.

I am reminded again today that to write well I must fully embrace living.

Live first, create second. Art is born from life.

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How is your creative writing degree?

It moves slowly, but doesn’t stop and that’s the main thing!

I have learned that writers need to be readers. That I can’t be a writer if I’m not a reader – writers teach us how to write – or how not to.

What are you reading?

I am currently reading for an essay I am writing.

‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed, ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer, ‘Walden’ by Thoreau and ‘Walking Home: The Poets Journey’ by Simon Armitage. Lots of creative non-fiction – I find myself on the pathways of the Pacific Crest Trail, the raw beauty of Alaska or crying with Chris McCandless mother on a green abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail. I have yet to join the poet on the Pennine Way.

Have you had time for anything else?!

Of course…

As you know my passion is our Hope Centre, we are currently re-imagining what this ministry looks like. Realizing what we are not as much as anything else, focusing on what we can do well and how we can best serve our wider community.

We just held another Encounter God – the God given vision to see a community transformed, made whole and living out a listening life is happening in our church.

This past week we attended the Hope International Development Agency Film Premiere and Dinner with our life long friend Lowell Sheppard who is Asia Pacific Director for HOPE. I was moved by the story of Chan whose life was changed by the provision of a water well though HOPE. She has seen the health of her family improve; her children attend education and food security in growing and selling vegetables. All through the gift of clean water. Her words ‘we now have everything we need’ on are on repeat in my mind.

Last night we met with a group of our adults who are passionate about prayer. It was a moment when God was smiling. A moment to mark as we discussed prayer rooms, a week of constant prayer in January and 21 day focused time of prayer and fasting. Watch this space!

What are you excited about?

Christmas of course! It’s the first time since we moved to Canada that we’ll be in Stourbridge (our hometown) for Christmas. I CANNOT WAIT to spend time with my loved ones.

So that’s me! Thanks for reading.

Praying that you’ll know God’s wrap around presence, protection and peace over your life.

Stay in touch,

Love, Michelle x

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Beloved: Do you believe it?

Hi family, friends and readers from around the world. Thanks for reading! Here’s a snapshot of my week and some words of truth about YOU.

A week of being celebrated as a mother of this brood.

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Check out the best answers from the boy.
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Summer snow.

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We relocated the Robin’s nest as it didn’t appear to be the best place. Robin had other ideas and built another bigger and better nest, same area, slightly higher. (On a similar note, our immigration situation is ongoing. Thanks for prayers!)

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And our cutest new addition. Cloudy.

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A word I am carrying is ‘You are Beloved of the Lord’. Scripture is full of us children of God being addressed as Beloved of the Lord.

e.g“God’s beloved; God’s permanent residence. Encircled by God all day long, within whom God is at home.” Debt 33:12

Today I’m cheering each of you with this message. So, take a couple of minutes to hear this truth about YOU.

What does it mean to know I am ‘Beloved of the Lord?

It means I know who I am as a child of God. Knit together in my mother’s womb. Created with imagination and care. A piece of art, a poem. I am loved, favored. This is not some wishful thinking. Nor is it some delusion of grandeur. This is the truth of who I am as God’s child.

Henri Nouwen in his book Life of the Beloved writes:

“When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosenness of others. That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone – a unique, special place. Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart.”

Love. these. Words.

Do you believe you are created for his purpose and his plans? That you are significant? That you have a God given voice, with words of a significant contribution to those around you, which is unique and only you can offer.

The person next to you cannot do what you do. Ah that person next to you. That one so easily triggers inadequacy – insecurity. Envy even…

I believe when we know our belovedness – these feelings will begin to disappear. Bob Sorge says this. ‘We need to find ourselves in Christ, when we learn the secret of living for an audience of one. Envy will no longer be an issue.’

God has named you, it’s time to let the thoughts God has of you define you, His thoughts are infinitely more important than what others think of you.

‘Let us live our lives you were exactly who Jesus thinks we are’. BG.

This truth is found in scripture, it’s found by being in his presence living aware of creator God, mindful of him. It’s no quick fix or 3 steps to ‘belovedness’ – let us allow ‘belovedness’ invade all we think, say, do.

Lets work together to break through oppression and lies about ourselves that life has forced, breaking off the stuff that keeps us down. For some of us it’s not breaking off it’s allowing God in. His embrace will break the anguish in you.

Or as Henri put it, “First of all, you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting belief.”

Praying this truth over you today,

Be.Loved.

Michelle x

Saturday Soup 4: Wear Love.

This week was birthday week for the Collins men.

I whisked Phil away for a night to the Sparkling Hills Resort in Vernon (of course a night feels like a week in parenting years.)

Seriously, what’s not to love about Sparkling Hills?

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Beautiful food, stunning views and cleansing spas.

Coolness of waterfalls. Warmth of fireplaces. 3.5 million Swarovski crystals in virtually every element of the property, many crystals have a permanent coating know as AB, this gives off the rainbow effect as they emanate light and color every where you turn.

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Rainbows of living colour.

Hiding in our own Aurora Borealis.

A tiny glimpse of paradise? 

Allow me to share a couple of things I learned:

*European hour doesn’t mean you have to be European to attend. ‘Oh, Hi pastor Phil’

*Just because there’s a gorgeous bath for two in the window… Doesn’t mean the windows are tinted.

You’re welcome.

I love to celebrate birthdays. Henri Nouwen wrote this.

‘Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. These are ways of saying: ‘It’s good that you are alive; it’s good that you are walking with me on earth. Let’s be glad and rejoice. This is the day that God has made for us to be and to be together.’

As we return from Sparkling Hills to foggy trails we celebrate Josiah’s 7th birthday.

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Energyplex noise, so many toys, and a bunch of handsome boys!

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And yes… ‘Show me the boy at 7 and I will show you the man’.

In 2024, lookout for the man who is a great friend. Understands women.  Who has no fear. Continually questions …and is the best hugger. Yep. Josiah will be that man.

Back to that permanent coat to reflect color…

I’ve been meditating on this verse.

‘So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.’ Colossians 3:14

Don’t you think by choosing to wear this new wardrobe we reflect God and his promises?

Have a great week.

Wear love, it looks good on you 😉

Michelle xoxo

Saturday Soup 3: Thanksgiving.

Found: This little treasure trove. Thanksgiving treats for us Brits in Canada. Shhhh.

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Writing: The relief as I posted my assessments for uni this week! Although $70 postage wasn’t such a relief… as long as I pass (and don’t have to repost…) I’ll be a happy writer.

I move onto poetry. I have always written poetry, the deep, the dark… the fun ode. I look forward to understanding orthometry.  Be prepared for poetic offerings!

Thanksgiving: This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving and Fall is busy repainting the treetops in vibrant colour – the Collins fam are out in nature – breathing and bear hunting, listening and memory making.

I’m giving thanks, living thanks. 

Mark Buchanan wrote in his blog today ‘God lavishes his grace upon us, not that we would bottle it, but that we would channel it. He’s not looking for holding tanks. He’s looking for sluices. Grace abounds so that it might overflow.’

I will spend my weekend around family, friends and turkey. Reminded to be thankful daily – constant and generous.

Reading: ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10.

The Voice translates this as “heaven’s poetry etched in our lives,” the NLT reads “God’s masterpiece” and the Jerusalem Bible says, “God’s work of art.”

The Greek word for “workmanship” used here is “POIEMA,” and it means “that which is made” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). The word signifies that which is manufactured, a product, a design produced by an artisan. It is the word from which we get our English word “poem.”

We are God’s poem – His work of art. 

Here are a handful of the many poems in my life – those in my thoughts and prayers this week, don’t they make a beautiful piece?

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Let’s try and grasp this verse and understand our worth, beauty and creativity as God’s masterpiece.

Respond with a few words of thanksgiving in comments! Go…

IMG_2903 Taken on Bella’s paper route… finding Him in the ordinary. 

 

 

Saturday Soup: Two

IMG_2832 My favourite artist. Kelowna.

Family: I took this sunset pic on the way to see ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ with the little people. Not exactly on the way but kids are used to my sunset snapping detours.

Reading: This letter to Miley from Sinead resulting in bloggers, news and all things media passing their opinions. Miley responds by retweeting Sinead’s posts from 3 years ago on Sinead’s struggle mentally, and compared her to Amanda Bynes who is currently in a psychiatric hospital. Sinead is now on her 3rd letter. Stating she will support Miley when she is having a breakdown. The well meaning start, ends with lawyers.

And Miley and Sinead are in the spotlight.

I have 3 girls who have grown up with Hannah Montana and have no doubt watched Robert Thicke thrusting and Miley’s twerking.

Because of letters I have written,  my children can make informed choices.

Because of the letter, present in my home, they know of a value system that is different.

So, how about – in addition to writing to celebs, let’s write letters to our own kids on how to cope with this stuff.

Better still – talk to them. Uncomfortable words. Face to face. 

From Miley to Henri Nouwen. It is my soup after all…

Thinking: ‘The human, ordinary yet divine gesture of breaking bread. A gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. God becomes most present when we are most human.’ I have focused on the following thoughts of Nouwen a lot this week. Especially as I eat toast with my friends in the Hope Centre.

A most ordinary act in which I believe that God is most present.

Quote: ‘Wow, Michelle, did you make these oustanding cookies’ ‘Yes, a secret recipe. I have only shared it with Costco’.  Made me smile…

Thankful: The reason we are planted in this beautiful country is Willow Park Church, Kelowna.

I know, I know – you think it is for the lakes, ski hills, mountains, the beaches and all round beauty.

But seriously.

A church where:

The voices of hundreds of young adults worshipping at Pursuit can be heard merging with the voices of the Friday morning hymn sing in the Hope Centre.

The stories of our Encounter God retreat merge with Phil’s storytelling at the Seniors Hoedown.

The joyful screams of children at Jam & Thrive merge with the whoops of women at Take a Break.

The cars through hoops of fire merge with the battered bikes outside the Hope Centre.

The quiet prayers of the faithful 7am prayer group merge with the cry of city pastors agreeing in prayer.

Rich and diverse – a church that can’t be defined. 

A church whose sounds touch heaven. 

Verse: That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. Ephesians 2:19

Us. Community.

And finally, if nothing else. Sing-along to this!

Enjoy your weekend, find your place,

Michelle xo

PS: New website launch today at Willow Park Church. Click it out here!

Saturday Soup: One

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Another week…

Writing: I have stared at my Macbook for endless hours this week as I had a deadline with an assignment. Procrastination mocked my quickly fading summer tan as I edited 5000 to 3000 words – the story remained the same. Less is more Michelle. Lose the cliches Michelle.

Wordy birdy.

This module has been great – we had the choice of writing for screen, radio or stage. I wrote for stage and although I’m only on my second draft and it will need many more hours of writing dedicated to it. This play will be on stage. I can totally see it. Exciting.

Family: I love this picture of Josiah’s shoes he wore to church. Long may he hold onto his quiet confidence and quirky ways.

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Speaking of the 6 year old. Here are just a handful of his (many) questions from this week:

*Why do we have to pay tax on stuff?

*If someone is having a nightmare in their sleep and they die, does the nightmare end?

*Before you had children was your belly button an inny or an outy? *sigh*

*You know that God was in the beginning and it was dark, what was before the dark?

Love his questions. I especially love Daddy coming home…and Google (afterall, Google is 15, which means it knows everything…)

Listening: I have enjoyed the poetry that is Gungor’s ‘I Am Mountain’ this week. Check it out a song from the album here. My fave song today is Wandering.

Reading:  This article written by a former editor of Loaded mag on the subject of internet porn following research for the UK documentary, Porn on the Brain. He set out on a journey to answer the question: is porn harmless, or is it damaging lives?  Please read and be vigilant. The age of innocence is over.

‘We need to get tech-savvy, and as toe-curling as it seems, we are the first generation that will have to talk to our children about porn….We have to tell our kids that pornographic sex is fake and real sex is about love, not lust’.

Watching: The nights draw in which means we watch iPlayer – Downton, The X Factor, Doc Martin. We love our UK TV fix!

Then there was this short documentary about the science of happiness. Why not try this experiment in gratitude. Go on, give it a try. Let us honor one another, and in doing so – honor God.

Meditating: ‘You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world’ Matthew 5:14. Us.

What was a highlight of your week? Let me know in comments.

You are loved,

Michelle xo