Sweet 2016

Hello again, Happy New Year from our family to yours!

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Having spent a wonderful three weeks over Christmas in Stourbridge our hometown we are now back home to Kelowna and excited for the New Year…. and the snow.

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Christmas saw us celebrating Phil’s 50th UK style, our 18th wedding anniversary, Bella’s 13th birthday and a memorable trip to London. Phil walked the Worcestershire way in one day with his friends – 35 miles of English countryside. Not quite the 2-day ramble Phil and I completed a couple of years ago (Read about that one here) We enjoyed a few days away with our fave friends who were visiting from Brisbane. Not to mention Christmas and New Year celebrations… I think I need a holiday! So blessed to know the love of family and friends on both sides of the pond.

Onto 2016!

I am currently collating prophetic words for 2016 and look forward to posting my annual mashup over the next week or two. Here is the post 2015 – in order to look ahead at all God wants to do it is important to acknowledge all that God has done.

There is excitement in the air at Willow Park Church as we head into a focused period of 21 days prayer and fasting. In addition, we have an ongoing prayer room for the next week at Highway 33 where you can creatively pray and join with others. This is a significant time for our church and the city of Kelowna. Leave your prayer requests in comments and I can post them in our prayer room walls.

Prayer Changes Things

As ever, I challenged my friends to think of their word for 2016. My word for 2015 was LAUGHTER… I realize as an INFJ I seem to laugh more on the inside and smile on the outside! #lil

My word for the year is BELOVED.

That I would always know I am His beloved and the fullness of that.

That I would see everyone I meet as His beloved.

And because of that – those I meet would know they are His beloved.

“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.” Henri Nouwen.

What is your word for the year ahead?

That’s all for now – let me know your prayer requests and your word.

I’ll be back with my prophetic mashup soon,

Love, Michelle xo

Sign up here for 21 days of prayer and fasting devotionals from Willow Park Church.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

 

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

Home sweet Home

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Day Five of 31 days of five minute free-writes.

Word prompt: Home.

I remember when we first moved to Canada and people would ask ‘does it feel like home’ I wrote about it here in my early blogging days…

Love the words of Madeleine L’Engle ‘We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where your home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity, that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.’

I glimpsed it even today.

Monday does that, being Sabbath all.

It was the silence.

The water, rushing, dancing over stones,

The dreaming.

I glimpse it

In authenticity at the table,

In the building and being,

In spontaneity and celebration

It’s in my people and those people,

It’s hearing

It’s seeing

With the sense of heaven.

I asked those under my roof the question ‘what does home mean to you?’

*My own bed. Family. Where memories are born. Familiar

*Closing the curtains. A blazing fire. Fire. Downtown abbey. The chatter of children in the background. Warm evenings on the deck. Watching the sunset. The hub of communication and well-being.

*A place to relax. To eat together. To play and to have fun. A place of love.

*Home is family.

*My happy place.

What a gift!

And then, one day…

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…come further up, come further in! –The Last Battle. C.S Lewis.

Happy Day,

Love, Michelle

 

Embrace the Hygge

#write 31 days

Day Four: Embrace.

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A British friend wrote on Facebook this week ‘OK Hygge is my new favorite thing…..’

Having been out of the country for five years I realized I could have been missed a new trend. Food? Fashion? A new band?

I learned this about Hygge, pronounced ‘hooga’ – that there’s no English equivalent for the word, it’s a uniquely Danish concept.

Hygge is about warm atmospheres, sitting around the table, woolly socks, blazing fires and candles – don’t forget the candles.

I’m thinking it’s something us seasonally affected Kelownafornians can embrace.

It’s more than being cozy, it’s being at home, forgetting worries, creating a space for family and friends around us. It’s a place to be rooted and connected with those who appreciate you and see you for the gift you are.

The reality is hygge was never meant to be translated – it was meant to be felt – it creates well being.

For some of us it’s something that we do anyway. Calling it hygge is just like a seal of approval.

I’m ready for the new season with a good dose of hygge – are you?

Tell me, how do you embrace hygge?

Bless y’all,

Michelle.

Oh and Solomon gives us this wisdom in Ecclesiastes too…

‘I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.’

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To help with the cozy, check out http://www.sackclothandashes.com THE nicest blankets who guarantee with every blanket you purchase, they will give a blanket to your local homeless shelter.

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Dance with Me

#write31days

Day Three: CAPTURE 

Here’s a few pics to capture my day and a few words on the One who captures my heart.

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The following are poetic words to one of my favourite songs… I’d love you to listen to it here.

“Dance With Me”

Behold You have come over the hills, upon the mountain

To me, You will run

My Beloved, You’ve captured my heart

Won’t You dance with me

Oh, Lover of my soul

To the song of all songs?

With You I will go

You are my Love, You are my Fair One

The winter has passed and the springtime has come

Won’t You dance with me

Oh, Lover of my soul,

To the song of all songs?

Romance me

Oh, Lover of my soul

To the song of all songs

My prayer today is that your hearts will be captured by the Lover of your soul. That you will fall in love, trusting every move, rest, twist and turn.

More tomorrow…

Love, Michelle

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We are that Family.

Day Two of 31 days of writing. Word Prompt: Family.

11218918_10153328071359480_6088156165853711636_nI see my church family as a living, breathing organism with a natural rhythm of inhaling and exhaling, gathering and going out.

This week I have seen our young adult community gather close to mourn the loss of their friend Lauren. A bright light and Jesus lover, Lauren is remembered daily in our church family. They were reminded to – grieve with hope, stay close to each other and keep talking about Lauren.

Church family, it’s natural to be together as scripture encourages us. Inhaling, being close, filled up, worshipping and praying together and for one another AND exhaling going out to be light and salt to fulfill our calling.

Let’s not hide in our churches nor isolate ourselves. Let’s not add to our dysfunction with offenses and ‘not liking how things are done’ and the many issues that can distract from our priority.

Let the main thing be the main thing, knowing Christ together and sharing that with our community.

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Inhaling we live in fellowship,

Exhaling we release what the living God breathes into us.

Inhaling ask the Spirit to take control.

Exhaling we live in a place of confession and forgiveness.

Of letting go, releasing.

Breathe church family….

As God intended.

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I asked a few friends what (in a few words) ‘church family means to them’. Here are some responses…

*The book of Acts. Living it.

*A better family than the one you’re born with.

*Unity. One heart, one way. Corporate, powerful, effective prayer.

*Interactive , supportive , prayerful, “do life” together , beautiful and messy…

*A group of people bound together by blood and by love with passion for and dedication to the honor and growth of the family name and legacy. Every member with value, purpose and responsibility to the community.

*It’s the ones with the same heartbeat as your own. Ones where words are usually not necessary because there’s a deeper understanding and connection.

*Connection with people who know my story. People who will pray for me and stand by me, who accept me. People who are my tribe.

And this…being in a church family means you will never be lonely or as Psalm 68:2 puts it ‘God sets the lonely in families…’

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle

Calling.

Hello! Did September just happen??

I’m taking up the 31-day writing challenge for the month of October. There are many ways to join in with this and I’m following Katie Motaungs daily word prompt to free-write for five minutes everyday.

Easy right? Write.

Day One word prompt: CALLING

I remember when I was a 17 year old baby Christian, I was convinced I was ‘called’ to be a Pastors wife. Ahem.

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Evidence here in my first bible, complete with compulsory red leather case and gold edge tabs.

Then years later Phil, my husband, who just so happens to be a Pastor would dream of Canada and after a couple of years I gently asked him to stop telling me because you know, roots and tribe and all. Until, my reaction began to change and one night my resistance (fear) faded and a divine shift happened.

And here we are in Canada…of course we all know just because we say yes to a calling doesn’t mean it’s easy (see most bible characters for details) CS Lewis wrote ‘To follow the vocation does not mean happiness, but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow.’

A calling isn’t glamorous, it’s a response, a yes to a summons. A surrender. To die to past and say yes to the future.

I have found we so often complicate our God given calling, as I get a little older I find the following to be true:

You’re called to the very thing that gets your heart racing, your blood pumping.

You’re called to be the world changer that you secretly know you are.

You’re called to be life to the one in front of you.

For some you are called to raise your kids, to work in Starbucks, to buy dinner for the guy holding the ‘to honest to steal to ugly to whore’ sign.

Others you’re called to work nights, to write those words, to sing those songs.

You are called to live and breathe and scream when life doesn’t make any sense.

You are called to find Christ in the midst of suffering and to invite his Spirit to bring healing.

You are called to be a good friend and LOVE yourself.

To know you are fearfully and wonderfully made…and to bring this truth those you meet.

And.

Before all of that, let’s start in the secret place.

You are called to intimacy with your Maker.

Or as Oswald Chambers puts it…

If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, “I wonder why God allowed this or that?” And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose. A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.

And if you’re still a little stuck, let’s take this advice from Micah 6:8

‘But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow!

Love, Michelle

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The Feet of Jesus

Hi all,

A quick catch up and another poem by me!

We saw Nanny Sue, Dion and Charl leave us last week after a wonderful few weeks together then this week saw the arrival of Jo and the boys.

We decided to take them for an evening stroll on Mission Creek on their first night. Josiah was excited to spot a Momma bear and cub up the tree.

EEK!

IMG_2236Have you heard this song by Paula and Hannah McClure ‘Jesus we love You’? My theme…

‘Our affection, our devotion poured out on the feet of Jesus’

I love to reflect on life as pilgrimage. We understand that a pilgrim is ‘a foreigner or wayfarer’ An older more poetic definition of pilgrim has its root in the latin ‘through the field’. The ancient image suggests a curious soul who walks beyond known boundaries, crosses fields, touches the earth with a destination in mind and purpose in heart.

Enjoy my thoughts of the feet of the One who touched the earth with destination in mind and purpose in His heart.

The Feet of Jesus.

The womb of the chosen mom,

Trough hay in newborn toes,

Kicking.

Childhood Passover pilgrimage,

Into cold waters of Jordan,

Obeying.

The pinnacle of the temple,

Temptation to step,

Overcoming.

Fragrance fills the air,

Awash with tears,

Receiving.

Storm shakes the night,

Boat rocks as water holds,

Walking.

Dove feathers fly,

As tables overturn,

Stamping.

Fastened by nails to Cedar,

Splintered agony to death,

Loving.

Resurrected beach strolls,

With grains of sand known,

Living.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Michelle x

Through the Wardrobe.

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Hi all. This week I have seen community at its best. Practically, spiritually, physically – you know one of my favourite lines is that we are

‘created for community.’

Following a word prompt: community. Com(with)Unity.

We arrived at Green bay all set for a week of ministry Phil speaking on Ephesians 6. We unloaded kids and luggage; as usual it looked like we were emigrating. A baby faced skater noticed my van overheating – wait – that’s not steam it’s smoke. Fast-forward 5 minutes. Fire trucks arrive and douse my flaming Odyssey. I informed the firefighter that I had cleared the people should the car explode – he kindly informed me ‘that only happens in the movies’. We spent the week with the Green Bay family – and love to take part in their mission ‘to lead all people into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.’

I received a desperate text from good friends trapped in the Rock Creek fires. BC has experienced some harsh fires this summer and this was one of them. We stopped, dropped and prayed desperate prayers through tears right there on the dock surrounded by candy filled children having the best time. Our friends and many others surrounded by candling trees and without emergency crews able to reach them ran for their lives. Terrifying. Fire crews eventually rescued them and they found refuge for the night. Again we saw our church community step in driving for hours to bring them home.

My heart is with a good friend who has lost her best friend this week; she is out of physical reach yet close to my heart. Social Media often gets a bad rap but I have watched a community gather around her – a digital vigil of grief, love and support, then, stepping out of the virtual and sending her to her loved ones.

Kelowna was shocked and sad as we said goodbye to an adventurous young man from our community, Kevin was a free diver who lost his life this week in our own Okanagan Lake – a man who lived life to the full, having travelled to 25 countries already this year. Phil spent time with his family and tribe from around the world throughout the week and celebrated his life on Saturday. Kevin knew Jesus and was surrounded by family and friends as they said goodbye. In the devastation of tragedy – Jesus was present. IS present.

Josiah, my 8 year old theologian heard the story of Samson this week and mentioned that the gouging of Samson’s eyes wasn’t told and ‘didn’t he kill the philistines and die himself Mom?’ I explained that was the story, but perhaps not the best ending for children’s fireside. I reminded Josiah that we don’t live a Disney Christianity with constant happy endings and life doesn’t always happen as we’d like BUT there is always a bigger story at work and we know that God is good, faithful and present in all.

I’ll leave you with the hope filled words that Phil read at the celebration of Kevin’s life – a man who always pushed through the wardrobe.

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” – C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle. 

I pray you are able to love and be loved in your community this week,

Love, Michelle xo

In the Summertime.

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Hello! It’s been a while… summer livin’ and all. I’m excited today to introduce a fresh new look to my blog (thank you lovely Bethany from our For the Love launch team) On the subject of For the Love by Jen Hatmaker – don’t forget to pre order here… review coming soon.

For the next week or so I am joining up with Blogging 101 on WordPress to give us writers a blogging boost. Assignments and changes on the blog everyday for a few weeks. Today is finding a new theme – I’m such a good student. Thanks WordPress!

For those new around here the reason I write my blog? I love stories and putting faith words to life. My favourite posts are those that give you a glimpse of life of this British family pastoring and adventuring in Kelowna, BC alongside offering words of encouragement to you on your journey, ‘bringing God colours into the mundane and miraculous.’

The blogging world is saturated with blogs of this same genre particularly in North America – and I don’t even offer recipes! So I could ask, is it worth it? But we don’t all read every blog. We read a blog we are interested in, and that we have connection with – and for me that’s enough, so I blog on! Oh and it helps because I am working on a Creative Writing degree.

The biggest comments I have are those of thank you for the encouragement and also apologies for not ‘actually’ commenting on the blog itself. Ah yes the whole commenting thing! I’m told I should leave the blog with a question to encourage you to comment. I’m learning…

Family news. You might remember I mentioned we were waiting to hear from Canadian government that Phil is ‘the man for the job’ we were pleased to hear a YES from them and now wait to be invited to apply for Permanent Residence soon!

We enjoyed a week on Kitsilano beach, catching beautiful sunsets, absorbing vitamin sea and enjoying the beauty of Vancouver. They tell me it rains there but I don’t believe them.

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Bella and I enjoyed a girly 24 hours and went to see Taylor Swift in concert. That girl can sing and dance for hours! Taylor is pretty special too.

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As I wrote on my last post – summer is busy with visitors and camps. Jess has been away for almost a month and returns this weekend. Emily and Bella are currently at the Ark, Emily cooking and Bella having the time of her life, although I’m sure the kitchen is fun too! That leaves Josiah to watch movies and play games with his lovely cousin Charlotte. We all head to family camp at Green Bay next week where Phil will be teaching for the week.

Nanny Sue and Dion are in town, making Kelowna their home for a month!

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So, there’s a little catch up.

I was challenged to publish something on my blog that I haven’t done before so here is a poem I wrote – rewritten from one of my favorite Psalms. My lecturer did challenge me on attempting to rewrite something famous that couldn’t be improved upon but I offer my reflection anyway!

The Invite.

Spoken and silent needs, you know them well,

Your voice settles my soul.

I roll in verdant meadows, in carefree rest.

Stagnant sea, parts to a grace oasis,

I drink in the life of silent streams.

In deep valleys, you whisper echoes,

on weathered trails and sunless paths.

I’m invited! Your guest to sit and feast.

To face my enemies, who watch and mock,

my head spins again under their scorn.

I’m invited! My saporous spread.

I’m invited! My paradise picnic.

Your healing oil cascades over my head,

fresh fragrance flows, I carry your balm.

My darling, ever-present Companion,

You have pursued me well, I will abide,

where the feast never ends. It never ends.

 

Time to hear from you…

Describe your summer so far in a few words…

and/or

What can I pray for you?

Thanks for reading!

Love, Michelle.