Roots

I write from the hair salon. Yes it’s that time – roots.

‘Whaaaaat I hear you cry, you’re not a natural blonde?’

Yes I am! Or should I say was, when I was 5. And now I just enjoy a little assistance to maintain that natural color.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with birthdays for the Collins men. A high energy party for Josiah and his friends, a Canadian style meal and a legotastic time!

Love celebrating with my fam.

Phil flew to Vancouver this week where he spoke at a pastor’s conference.  Encouraging them to dream big and firing them up to continue in their God given calling.

Then there was Halloween…

Bella the funky ballerina and Josiah the cowboy hit our busy neighborhood and went trick or treating.

Stop right there Michelle. Aren’t the roots of Halloween dark?

Yes.

But I am not, because my God is not. I believe in opening my door and letting the light out, redeeming the day and introducing a different Spirit.

As Christians we are called to be light right? Then arise shine!

And now a thought to end this writing prompt.

A while ago I went to a friend for counselling and prayer. A line of thought she shared with me has stayed close. It is this.

As one woven by our Creator, we are all designed with specific roots of character which define us. What can happen is that the enemy, choices…. life’s events can take this God given root and twist it.

Here are some examples of twisted roots.

You protect those around you with your silence over challenging behavior. Could this be your God given root of integrity is gnarled.

You are bolshy, even arrogant. Has your root of boldness been twisted?

You fear confrontation, you allow compromise. Has your root of being a peacemaker wandered.

You are a bully. But God’s plan for you was inner strength.

We often think we need to to rip up the roots that define us. Instead maybe those God given roots need to be straightened, healed and freed.

I hope that resonates with some of you.

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Colossians 2:7 

Have a great weekend,

Love, Michelle  xoxo

It’s 5 minute Friday – I’ve been following a word prompt – Roots. Click here to find some encouragement with a group of great bloggers.

Five Minute Friday

Thick skin, Soft heart.

‘LOOK’

‘You don’t look like a Pastors wife’.

I smile.

I wonder is it because I wear make up, say the wrong thing on occasion, roll my eyes too often, laugh at the wrong time during conferences?

What springs to mind? Here’s the stereotypical criteria I have realized.

As Pastor’s wife one must:

Smile continually and produce lots of perfect children by pain-free supernatural childbirth.

Play piano, sing like an angel, work in the church nursery.

Organize women’s events and carry an endless supply of Kleenex.

Bake on demand.

Produce a real baby Jesus if one isn’t available for the nativity.

There’s more but you get the idea.

I’m currently writing an assignment for my course, a fictional piece called ‘Confessions of a Pastor’s wife’. In researching I have found a number of things – pastor’s wives put themselves under massive amounts of pressure, feel isolated, alone and often resentful. I read that 8/10 PWs’ feel unappreciated or unaccepted by their husbands congregations. According to  survey by the Global Pastors Wives Network 80% responded that they wished their husbands would choose another profession, and 88% struggle with depression. 88%…

I came to realize a long time ago that I’d never meet the criteria and as Pastor’s wife I would be not allowing other people’s expectations to define me.

Because in being me, I am honouring the one who created me.

Unique and precious in His sight.

Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of piano playing, sensitive, singing PWs and that is who they are meant to be. It’s not about rebelling against stereotypes and trying to be cool.

It’s about authentic living.

So, take a good look at your Pastors wife (you do anyway) and…

Lay off on the expectations, throw lots of grace her way and bless who she is.

And I’ll end with this.

If I’m made to live a goldfish bowl. Please throw me some food in occasionally.

Love, Michelle xoxo

I am joining the free writers over here today.

Five Minute Friday

My friend Melissa also wrote a beauty today. Read her blog here…she’s a legen…I mean I really love her.

Wide

I live in wide open spaces and hemmed in places.

I gambole in fields and stand behind shields.

I gracefully guard, often hide.

Then turn to You, arms, heart, me,

Wide.

I have 5 minutes to write on the word ‘WIDE’

But I find that other my few words above, Psalm 18 offers the words I want to say, enjoy them.

I love you, God—you make me strong.

God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.

My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.

A hostile world! I call to God, I cry to God to help me.

From his palace he hears my call; my cry brings me right into his presence— a private audience!

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out

Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning.

He stood me up on a wide-open field;

I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.

When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start.

Now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted.

Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick.

I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step.

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life; I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!

What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth.

Have a great week,

Michelle xoxo

Photo Credits: icbymc – From our day away with God, Sept 2012.

Five Minute Friday

Ha Ha Habits.

The brood are settled back into school, loving their new teachers and grades. This week has been one variety for me, helping Phil teach a ‘Hearing God’ seminar on Tuesday, a ceramic bowl painting fundraising evening on Wednesday for my friend Debra who is heading to Rwanda at the end of September. I volunteered at the Hope centre today where I fell in love with the poor in a new way and tonight… the Senior’s hoedown. Boom boom clap.

My musings have turned to the subject of habits. Some healthy some not, some useful, some I couldn’t live without.

The habit of constantly checking Facebook. Really? The habit of daily applying and straightening. Really? Err. Yes really 😉 not to mention those I won’t write about. Then there are those habits my kids love – movie nights and popcorn, slurpee Thursday, and of course, those they don’t love, like one hour of Internet a day.

Habits good or bad, control who we are, the key is to controlling them, habit overcomes habit.

It’s September and time to establish new habits – just because new is good. So, let’s not focus on habits that need breaking because when you’ve established new – old will be….well….old.

So, what’s September like for you?

For me.

I get up a little earlier because I find strength in the quiet. He waits for me and talks and I know that to listen, I’ve got to tune in. Listening to and responding to ‘Mom can I, can we, …’ on repeat x4 requires a tune in that can hinder my listening. A new habit.

I load up the kids in the van and we deliberately fake laugh for a while, where I encourage them to repeat after me. ‘Ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee, ho, ho,ho’. Crazy I know. It inevitably turns into real laughing and by the time we reach school we look like the Waltons and others look on thinking ‘look at them, laughing at 8.30am, it’s just not fair’. How I wish you could have been in my house 30 minutes before (well sort of wish) where shouting and slamming took over, and ‘I’m tirrreedddd’ rang out strong, where threats failed and bribing prevailed. Try intentional laughter. It works. In fact on our way today Bella said. ‘Let’s laugh again.’  A new habit.

Bella and Josiah don’t need too much encouragement to laugh.

8.35am I meet Mrs. P and we power walk up Hartman Hill, our morning ‘mountain’, we have slight trouble breathing and chatting but enjoy the walk down, heads high absorbing life and 30 minutes later we head off to our day, cardio boosted and endorphins dancing. A new habit.

Really, this is steep…

Phil and I began a new teaching series this week, 220 people from our church family arrived, ready to receive teaching on ‘Hearing God’. Is that because you have an authority on this Michelle? Yes, and so do the 220 who attended, some just haven’t realised it yet.

Week one and we focused on the word of God being His voice, practical application followed where people answered a number of questions to help them realise that yes, they do already hear God.

Listening.

What I find as we enter this kind of series is a couple of themes arise. One is that we try too hard to hear and often confuse ourselves – we encouraged people to approach it with joy and not get hung up. The other is that when God begins to speak, and we are willing to listen, we make ourselves vulnerable and that can be hard right? We serve a loving God who knows us better than we know ourselves, relax, He knows.

We are already hearing testimonies of those changed by our first evening together, meet Bill for example, he found some of the exercises we introduced difficult, he continued to ponder them at home and realised that although having always believed, he hadn’t fully committed his life. Bill gave his life to Christ the following morning with his family and now wants to be baptised.

Bill is 82!

Our homework for the week was to daily practice listening prayer for no less than 30 minutes a day, asking certain questions and waiting for answers.

This will be new for many, but we believe that soon enough hearing will become a habit.

One that will change us.

 The final question of the practical application was to ask God the question

What do you like about me?’

Why don’t you ask God that question and write the answer in your journal, enjoy the answer.

Have a great weekend,

Michelle xoxo

 Wear new habits and your life gets a makeover. 

Do things at the same time everyday and find yourself a different person.

Anne Voskamp.

The Walk

Kelowna, BC
Kelowna, BC (Photo credit: RobertCiavarro)

‘We met a lady in Value Village, she told me her story, she was widowed two weeks ago and wants to connect with a community, especially to pray. We talked about looking forward. I sent her to Willow Park’

‘We were chatting to a couple from Cambodia, she belonged to the boat people fleeing Vietnam, she eventually found Kelowna and met her husband. I’ll go back to visit them at their shop’

‘We took your recycling today. But gave it to a homeless lady who was angry and upset. She’d only made a dollar in recycling since 8 this morning. I like to think of it as giving Jesus my empty bottles. She was happy’

Story after story – names and more names. New friends.

Bob, Dave, Iris…

Yes, my Mom is visiting Kelowna for the first time this week, and is enjoying every minute. Every time Mom and Dion leave the house for their twice daily walks around our local town of Rutland they meet people, they stop, they talk, they ask questions, not only that they really want to know answers. This results in an instant disarming connection and you can know that wherever their story goes, Mom will introduce One whose story we were born to belong.

Mom’s feet!

So my immediate response is ‘should I be walking the streets of Rutland to hear stories’? Not necessarily, I believe the point is this – my Mom is fulfilling her calling as an evangelist and is doing this by stepping out of the house, walking to keep her self fit, alongside saying ‘here I am’

Living a life of ‘show me who lord, show me where’.

And then, I hear this:

Am I stepping out where I should be.

Am I walking my neighbourhood seeking out the lonely.

Am I being a voice where mommy porn is norm.

Am I writing the book I am called to write.

Am I painting that inspired piece representing injustice.

Am I ready to get on that plane with and suitcase full of mosquito nets.

Am I buying extra tins of food for food bank.

Am I?

Am I ready to switch off Facebook and dive deep into the eyes of the children I’m entrusted with.

Am I calling a sitter to book that long awaited date night.

I am with I AM.

Are you?

Yes, but how Michelle, how do I find my place?

Answers can always be found in God’s word, I read this chapter this morning and wonder if this is where it begins.

It’s long. But worth every second you spend reading, meditating and digesting it.

Ready?

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him…. fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it… in this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvellously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Love from the centre of who you are; don’t fake it…. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality…. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone….Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Taken from Romans 12.

Powerful. Love it. Now to live it.

This week, my Mom and Dion accidentally popped into the Cadillac Bar on Highway 33, we did laugh that the first night in Kelowna as Mom found herself in an exotic strip bar. But really, it’s no surprise to those that know her. Mom knows who God has called her to be, she has readily recognised what God wants from her finding herself facing God given opportunities every step of the way as she places it all before God as an offering knowing the only reason she is this place is because she has fixed her attention on God and been changed from the inside out.

My prayer is that you find your God given place – designed for you.

And never let it go.

Be blessed,

Michelle xoxo

Heavenly Perspective

What time is it? Summertime. School’s out – scream and shout! (in excitement of course…)

Sorry, I know, so 2006 – yet feels appropriate somehow.

Yes, the Collins kids have finished school for 11 whole weeks of summer funshine.

Josiah graduated from Kindergarten this week and was proud to receive the ‘Creative Builder’ award. A very appropriate award for this five year old as he makes, creates and builds continually. I did have to explain to him that he hadn’t actually graduated from school for good – but into Grade one.

He was beginning to talk about career options.

Bella won the ‘Super Friendly Kid’ award. She is a gift.

What a great thing to celebrate our kids in the midst of teaching them what not to do. 11 weeks of holidays have a way of highlighting these areas.

So along these wonderful teaching experiences…

Don’t forget to celebrate your kids too!

I wrote last week on ‘Home’ and linked this with the Lords prayer in particular

‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’

This post created more questions than comfort as I began to contemplate yet again – what does this mean, to live out ‘on earth as it is in heaven’?

So I read, studied and questioned – I also wrote to some fellow God chasers to ask them the question.

Here is a medley of responses (thanks for your input!)

Heaven is a place of uncertainty, I can only know love is there, earth a place of uncertainty and I see love everywhere.

It’s all about the daily choices, the “What would Jesus do” choices – to choose to bless, to choose kindness, to choose to show the love of God, to offer help, to offer hospitality, to offer hope.

Seeing Jesus in the faces of the poor.

It is daily looking for opportunities to display righteousness (virtue), peace and joy. (Rom 14:17) It’s not glamorous really; an open home for neighbors, a meal for the broken hearted or disenfranchised, a chat with the lonely and perhaps babysitting for a Momma who needs a break. Trying to live each day on purpose, looking for circumstances that I can insert a little ‘heaven’ into the lives of those around me.

Faith is capable of creating a spiritual reality in heaven through our prayers and belief. Mk 11:24 something invisible to us but real, visible, in heaven. We then need to pull this invisible spiritual reality down onto earth in God’s timing to become visible to us and physically real. Faith is the key. Whatever exists in heaven is available to us on earth. However we need to also pull it down. It is a very active process.

It simply means peace.  Peace at all costs.  

There is no distance in the spirit of God…it has brought about a shift in my spirit somehow….I think more and more of eternities shores!!…it helps me to look at things from a heavenly perspective….

Heaven is a restored place therefore the will of heaven would be to promote restoration here on earth between people and people, people and God, people and creation, people and peace – a conduit of restoration.

‘The beauty of the earth’[Rutter] is what speaks at this time. this is what draws me into His presence –literally nature all around. The air I breathe, the beauty I see, the breath of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the song of a bird, the the joy in a child, the matter that flows all around me , waiting to be noticed Job 37:14.  

Hugh Halter in ‘Sacrilege’ says this ‘The Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of has both an earthly and heavenly meaning. The whole purpose of living a kingdom life here is to bring moments, glimpses, and impressions of heaven to earth. Jesus continually references qualities we find in heaven, like comfort, mercy, seeing God himself. Christ followers are to ask for, hope for, and involve themselves in activities that bring a little heavenly peace to a peaceless earth. Peace being the absence of fear, concern, worry, with an inner life disposition of meaning, trust, faith and an intimate connectedness to the Creator of the universe’

So if I’m hearing this right. We are to draw on an invisible heaven – bringing into existence through faith, by becoming the conduit – a conductor of heaven.

And that’s where this question finds me – actively allowing these two worlds to collide.

Try it for yourself and show earth where you have been.

Any thoughts? How do you bring heaven to earth?

We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.” Andrew Murray

Time for Tea

May has been a messy month. Lots of irritations, sicknesses and hindrances, one after the other – not life altering but those stresses that play tag and all merge into one, piling on one another. Wearing – you know?

Moan over.

I have enjoyed the last few days of UK sunshine – through facebook.

Lovely posts of celebration, Olympic torches, Eurovision comedy, and bluebells, ice cream and Jubilee fever.

I have missed home.

My highlight of this week, actually – I have a two, one is finding Madonna’s new perfume and loving it.

It’s called ‘Truth or Dare’ try it and tell me it doesn’t remind you of… something.

My BIG highlight was being asked to speak at our women’s multi-generational tea. An event organized by some great women in our church. 220 women dressed up fancy, sipping cups of tea from fine bone china, pinky in position.

The pressure was on – how do you hold a teacup Michelle?

Is it scones or scons?

Where is your fascinator?

I’m not sure they understood when I said “I dow know bab, ah’m from up the Lye”

I enjoyed being in a candlelit room with the over 90’s and the under 20’s – with a whole host in between.

The grads and great Grandmas – all sharing some life.

All running the same race, many bearing scars. Running can take its toll.

I got up to the mic shared some life stories.

Because life stories are good and real.

Life stories help people to connect and let down their guard.

God’s faithfulness was the theme. As you know I have an abundance of examples of God’s faithfulness in my life and the life of my family.

I trust that God took my words and did what He does best with them.

Blesses, heals, delivers, transforms.

I was reading about the power of story in this article in Psychology Today.

…’I thought I knew the trouble that Bethany Hamilton faced. I had first heard of her on Halloween 2003, when I was in Kauai, Hawaii. The then-13-year-old, the daughter and sister of surfers, had been winning surfing contests since the age of 8 and was on her way to becoming a world champion. Practicing that morning, she paused for a moment with her left arm dangling in the water. In seconds, a 14-foot tiger shark ripped off the arm just below her shoulder. Friends frantically paddled her, hemorrhaging profusely, to shore, crafted a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash, and rushed her to the hospital. A few weeks later, she was back on her board, teaching herself how to surf with one arm. Months later, she was winning championships again and, aiming for the grand prize, earned a spot on the U.S. National Surfing Team.

I thought the kid probably had a lot of grit. But that was the last I thought of her until 2009, when producer David Tice came knocking on my door to sell me on a small independent film to be based on Hamilton’s autobiography, Soul Surfer. Tice talked numbers and budgets. I was unmoved. Nobody says, “Hey, let’s go down to the AMC theater, I hear there’s a film there that came in on budget.” I passed on the project.

Then one afternoon, Hamilton herself showed up on my doorstep in Kauai. Dressed in a sleeveless top, with no prosthetic arm, she seemed shockingly at ease. I asked where her self-confidence came from. She said, “The shark may have eaten my arm but I was determined it was not going to devour my dream.” She credited her faith for getting her through.

“And now I see the bigger purpose for my life,” she told me.

“To realize your dream to become a surfing champion?” I asked.

“No, my purpose from God,” the girl explained. “To help others know God’s love. I want my story to inspire others to never give up, no matter what. That’s why I hope this movie gets made.”

We know the success of this movie – this story and the influence Bethany Hamilton’s life has had, especially for teens.

Soul Surfer (film)
Soul Surfer (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A verse I shared at the tea was Jeremiah 1:5, it says this ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, 
 before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “But Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah is called as a prophet. He says I am too young.

What about you? Do you offer an excuse to God who is calling you?

But Lord, I’m too young,

I’m not young,

I’m too stressed,

I’m too busy,

I’m too scared…

But Lord, Canada is so far…

The Lord said. DO NOT SAY

_________ fill in your own blank.

‘I AM WITH YOU’

My favorite verse of this week is Psalm 36 in the Message bible:

God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic,

His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic.

Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost;

Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.

How exquisite your love, O God!

And for this week…whether you find yourself in chaos or harmony,

I pray you know His exquisite love.

It’s Pentecost Sunday, make yourself a cuppa, click here and enjoy.

Michelle x

Silent Flood

Photo: Mine

‘Sound imposes a narrative on you…and it’s always someone else’s narrative…The pursuit of silence, likewise, is dissimilar from most other pursuits in that it generally begins with a surrender of the chase, the abandonment of efforts to impose our will and vision on the world. Not only is it about standing still; with rare exceptions, the pursuit of silence seems initially to involve a step backward from the tussle of life… It’s as though, as a culture, we’ve learned to ‘mind the gaps’ so well that they’ve all but disappeared. We live in an age of incessancy, under the banner of the already heard and forgotten’ George Prochnik (from In Pursuit of Silence)

Having read this gem yesterday morning I purposed to take a morning of silence. I had deliberately created a gap in my life and planned to keep it wide.

I dropped the brood off at school, delivered some supplies to the Hope centre and enjoyed a chat with a friend. She encouraged me to read 1 Kings 19.

Elijah’s time of Replenishment and Rest – Yes. Yes. Yes.

This is where I am at – God challenging my ability to rest. My ability to remember me. I head home to silence. No music (a challenge…) No podcasts. Stop.

Photo: Mine -Revelstoke

I sit silent with my pink leather journal, bible and hot toast on my ‘creative chair’.

And I listen. Tuning in to silence is a challenge isn’t it?

But I was more challenged with the sound of running water. I check the house for running taps – outside taps – inside taps. None.

 3 hours later….

Burst pipes have a way of wrecking a basement quite quickly.

Insurance company arrive. Workmen chatting. Radio’s blaring. Dog barking.  Flooring ripped up in my basement. Laundry wall sawn out. Three dehumidifiers on full blast constantly  – the familiar sound of traveling at 30,000 feet rumbles through my house.

The sound of insurance claims and phone calls.

The sound of chaos.

Now – I’m realistic about these things and realize it’s inconvenient but it’s fixable and could have been a lot worse (I wasn’t meant to be home for 4 hours…)

But, it got me thinking about floods. And how many friends I know who have been flooded out in life recently. Marriages. Relationships. Loss. Ripped apart and chaotic. Floods appear throughout the narrative of scripture, here’s a favorite of mine which I’d love you to take into your heart today.

Isaiah 59:19 ‘When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him’.

It’s God’s flood that sweeps away the enemy and his works, visualize this – the Spirit of the Lord – ‘a wind urging on a mass of waters through a compressed and straitened place – increasing their (the waters) impetuosity and violence’

The comparison of a warrior or hero with such a mighty and impetuous torrent, is exceedingly forcible and beautiful.

He will fight for you.

Can you see Him ‘Lifting up a standard’? Not only does this mean raising a banner but also meaning to impel, to cause to flee, to put to flight, to drive him away.

Be encouraged.

Invite the Spirit of God to raise a standard for you. To be your victory.

He that has delivered will still deliver.

I’m off to pursue silence in this chaos.

Have a great weekend!

Milagros

We have enjoyed the company of our friends, Searchlight Theatre Company this week as they have toured the Okanagan region with shows, mainly ‘Questioning Aslan’ a wonderful production, inspired by the life of C.S. Lewis which promises to ask questions of faith and belief that provoke, challenge and inspire. Check out their website here.

Phil and I get our first night away in (too) many years this week sans the children – let me hear a cheer. We are heading down to Vancouver to hang out with Coldplay on Friday night.

I have heard a few stories this week of surprises, of life and hope.

And we all need some of that right?

Here are a few of them condensed.

First of all, meet Analia Bouter, Doctors told her that her baby was stillborn when she gave birth in Argentina’s northern Chaco province on April 3. But when she and her husband wanted to see their baby again and pried open the coffin inside the refrigerated morgue, they found the baby breathing. They knelt down and thanked God for the miracle and named her Luz Milagros – miracles! One week on baby is still holding on, pray for her, and the family. The five hospital staff said ‘there is no explanation for this’

I also read about the Indian boy who lost his mother in 1986 and has found her 25 years later from his home in Tasmania – using satellite images.

Saroo was only five years old and working with his brother sweeping trains. He fell asleep one night, woke alone and stepped onto a different train – after falling asleep again, little Saroo woke fourteen hours later in Calcutta – a life of sleeping rough and  begging followed until he was taken into an orphanage and adopted by a couple from Tasmania. Saroo knew nothing of his background – his identity – his town. But the desire grew stronger to find out. There were scattered memories with some more prominent – waterfalls and dams. Saroo worked out that 14 hours from Calcutta gave him a rough distance of 1,200 km enabling him to zoom in on Google earth – finding his waterfall. He retuned to Khandwa, and eventually found his home – and his mother.

Milagros!

As you have probably worked out by now – Hope is one of my favorite verbs.

Here are some lines from my post in 2010 ‘Gracias Senor’ about the Chilean miners trapped underground and those who set up Camp Hope above ground.

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

I am currently residing in Camp Hope. Praying and believing for one who has experienced an explosion around her young life, trapped, blinded by the dark and awaiting rescue.

Camp Hope will be my home for as long as it takes – until I see the Phoenix.

We all have our role in the camp, some keep spirits high, some cry, some keep order and some can’t find words…‘the moment we get tired in waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groansRomans 8:28

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark’

This week, I caught a glimpse of the Phoenix when I received an email from the one we are holding out hope for saying ‘Shell, I feel like I am coming out of darkness’

Milagros!

You know, ‘all season’ camping is hard work –  those tent pegs have to be driven deep.

But we camp all the same and will continue to do so.

And then there’s Jacob in Old Testament.

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

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

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

‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’

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

For those for whom we can’t imagine a positive outcome.

For those we have drawn our own final conclusions.

… and let’s just see if new hope is birthed.

Let’s see some milagros!

Dirty Windows

English: Old Volvo in Hedon, East Riding of Yo...

                                                                    Photo: Creative Commons. 

A couple moved to a new house. On their first morning, the wife looked out the window and observed her neighbor hanging sheets out to dry.

‘Those sheets are still dirty’ she said. ‘Maybe she needs a different kind of detergent. I should go and teach her how to wash them properly.’

Every few days, she made the same comments to her husband when her neighbor hung out her laundry on the clothesline. A month went by and one morning the wife was astounded to see that her neighbor was hanging out clean sheets.

She exclaimed to her husband, ‘Look, she finally learned to wash her clothes. I wonder who taught her?’

The husband replied, ‘Actually honey, the only difference is that I got up early this morning and washed our windows.’

Or it go a little something like this…

‘Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.’ Matthew 7:1 The Message.

Things are often not as they seem.

Photo: Mine

Isn’t it so easy to judge, to make assumptions? My friend Linda recently wrote this and I think it sums it up well….Don’t make such quick judgments about people, their present and their past; you’d be amazed at the pain, and tears a single smile hides. What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often then not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.

Everyone has a story within his or her story.

I posted this week on Facebook a quote from Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, NC

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel

Why did this resonate so much? Why was it reposted so much? Because we know it’s so true! In a world where Facebook statuses, Twitter and Pinterest are declaring how wonderful life is  –  perfect motherhood, glamorous vacations, heavenly houses.  Pinterest boards to make you curl up in a ball and cry. Speaking of balls. I was invited onto Pinterest. I was drawn into a visual maze of loveliness. I set up my own board and on it a placed a Cheeseball snowman. A fun Christmas appy.

But that’s all I have, and now I’m getting emails saying that people are following me on Pinterest and all I have is a snowman and… and….

I am not suggesting that Facebook becomes a negative wallowing of emotions or even that we shouldn’t celebrate life or create inspiring, pinteresting boards.  But when internal dialogue becomes ruled by comparison and insecurity – we are judging others and ourself and that needs to change.

Let us learn to read the pages of a person’s life, not just the cover – the flash status. That’s where effort, time and community enter in. To get to know stories, to go deeper, to ask questions…

Highlight reels.

Friends say to me ‘Oh you have a wonderful life on those ski hills, hanging out at the beach all day, writing blogs, reading books…’

Highlight reels. Snapshots.

I often joke telling friends I’ll  post a few pics of me ironing, doing laundry. I do normal stuff you know. Take yesterday for example….

Phil has been in the UK this week so the Collins kids took it in turn to sleepover with Mom. My day began as the phone rang at 3am. Someone there, but not speaking. Meh. Jessica sits bolt upright and tells me I need to pay the 6 bucks and get caller ID. I woke up again at 6am for the morning operation ‘get out of the door fully dressed, with backpacks and lunches and without shouting’

‘Because I will not bring anything to school later if it’s forgotten.’ (Yeah right Michelle…)

Operation successful. Onto the Hope Centre at 8.30. Our church drop in, free coffee, wifi, somewhere to hang out and keep warm. I have a friend who comes in, she enjoys me making her toast and a coffee. She carries a full clear bag of cigarette butts she has found on the ground outside, she smokes every 13 minutes. She reads a baby name book, smiles to herself and has the most beautiful blue eyes.

She has a story. She hasn’t told me her story but sometimes when she looks at me I think she’d like to. One day.

The Hope Centre gets busy with Moms coming in for diapers and formula. The Take a Break Moms come in to hang out after their meeting. I hear stories… anxiety, unemployment, loneliness, sickness, peace, hope, change.

I then enrolled on a Creative Arts degree which I am more than excited about.

Onto grocery shopping. Eww. No story there. Oh except I purchased a bag of nuts to snack on and found little surprise peanut butter cups in the mix.

Picked up the younger ones at 3, back to school at 4 to pick up older girls from basketball (complete with 3 friends) Fed the children and left the house at 5.30 to pick up Phil from the airport, on the way dropping into the YMCA to see if Bella had left her swimsuit last night after lessons.

My advice to you is this… Do not ever lose anything at the Y. Why? Because it all gets thrown into a bin which smells like cheese, I held my breath, dived in and found it. Double Eww!

Picked up Phil, dropped girls at Juice, went home and asked Phil a gazillion questions and caught up on more stories – all things family, friends and Stourbridge. I felt like I’d been there.

Picked up the girls at 9. At which point I realised I hadn’t taken a pic for my 365 Project. Jessica was very animated and excited after Juice waving her new glow stick wildly. This was the result…

So there you have it, for those who wonder what I do.

We all live a life surrounded by stories.

Often I hear them, sometimes I don’t – even when they’re told.

I’m sorry for those I don’t, the ones I miss…

…and if I ever my highlight reel bugs you just go to my Pinterest board.

There’s a lone snowman.

Have a great weekend friends. I’m off to clean my windows.

 Do to others as you would have them do to you‘ Luke 6:31