I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things

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Aloha!  

I hope your summer is going well! I loved the message this weekend at Willow and thought I’d share a few thoughts from it (and merge them with a previous post) Our summer theme has been the minor prophets and this week we looked at the prophet Micah. Inevitably landing on Micah 6:8: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Let’s take our pick of the many areas to respond to globally with this verse, the injustice that we are made aware of daily. Phil brought the response to our own doorstep – to be conscious of the lonely, recognising that loneliness is a serious problem in our communities.

The bible says ‘God sets the lonely in families.’ (I’m sure that means via us?)  This is more than being alone, a state of being, in fact, being alone can be a gift (INFJ here) This is different, lonely is the emotion brought on by feelings of separation. Loneliness can be devastating, a riot in the brain that brings feelings of being uncared for, not celebrated, unloved.

Let’s backtrack to when loneliness entered – God created Adam and Eve and walked in the cool of the day with them. They were created for His presence, but as we know, sin entered the world and separated us from God. Shame, nakedness, and loneliness penetrated the heart, and we’ve struggled with this ever since, affecting many of our choices. Hurt and pain can isolate us, as we hide within the fear of rejection and misunderstanding. We deny ourselves grace, and we make unhealthy comparisons, enhancing loneliness on an island of echoes.

Good news.  

Loneliness does not exist within the Trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in an adoring relationship. One does not function without the other. God is not alone, and God is not lonely. The trinity exalts one another, communing and honoring. It’s a sublime dance. Or as C.S. Lewis put it, ‘in Christianity God is not a static thing… but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you would not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.’

Let’s grasp this truth and let’s attempt the outworking of the dance… exalting, honoring, and working together and ‘as we limp toward transparency and community and friendship with our own fears and insecurities, we recognize that we aren’t alone. When we see that we are not alone, we can reach out to one another.’ Ann Voskamp.

Reach out.

As we all carry the blueprint of community, let’s find our place to belong, to find our people. For us, we have seen that in our church community – which we believe was God’s idea. We are better together! Eternity is written in our hearts while community is written on our front door, at our table, the coffee shops, where the people gather, wherever we choose to intentionally position ourselves with others. Our health could even improve, according to Caroline Leaf in her new book ‘Think, Learn, Succeed’ ‘Community involvement has been associated with mental health and cognitive resilience, reduction of chronic pain, lower blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health. One recent study even indicates that social isolation and loneliness kill more people than obesity.’

Lord,

Help me to be aware that you are with me in every moment.

To know true community in you.

Help me grasp the truth that you desire to walk with me in the cool of the day.

In the valley and mountain. The confusion and fear. The celebration and hope.

Help us all to reach out and find our community.

Amen.

You are loved,  Michelle xo

‘I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things’ Mother Teresa

 

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It’s time to Sing your Song.

Happy October!

IMG_0711It’s been a while… because…and that update is in my next post! My friend messaged me yesterday and suggested a little ‘kaizen,’ a Japanese word, loosely meaning small, continuous change that will eventually add up to big change. Kaizen, could be little things such as cutting down sugar, slowly, building up exercise, gradually, small amounts of time aside to read, adding up to books completed. You get the idea.  

For me. Writing small amounts that will affect the habit once more. So today. I’m writing and musing a little…

There are two verses that are dancing around my soul this week.

 

 

 

The first – one of my favourites.

The Lord your God in your midst,

The Mighty One, will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17

The other is the promise of the new song sung from despair in Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the Lord; 

And He inclined to me,

And heard my cry. 

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,

Out of the miry clay,

And set my feet upon a rock,

And established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth—

 

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Here’s a poem I wrote ‘The Song’ Inspired by Psalm 40  

I’m breathing.

This darkness can swallow whole.

It echoes down here.

In the slime.

Wait.

I’m silent.

Surrounded by the mess of me.

I abandon.

Quiet.

I’m inhaling.

A new fragrance as I meander putrid alleys.

Breathe.

I’m hearing.

Faint somethings of a new sound.

Listen.

I’m feeling.

A dancing breeze, blowing in a new choreography.

Move.

I’m touching.

I reach. Wings beneath.

Landing.

I’m listening.

Thunder, wild, declaring.

Ending.

I’m calling.

You hear. You hear.

You rescue. You’re here.

I’m tasting.

Purity.

We sit. We feast.

I’m singing. A new song.

I’m seeing. You. In me.

©Michelle Collins

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Father God, I pray that we hear your song, your song of extreme affection. That we know the true meaning of you rejoicing over us, your dancing and spinning around in joy. Give us ears to hear your love songs, songs of hope and future – and when hear them, that we will believe them. I pray that we will know the beating of your heart. That we respond to the divine romance and our song will join yours. Amen.

You are loved,

Michelle xo

 

Playing and Praying

 

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Phil’s (our) sabbatical drew to a close with long days in Maui, where we valued a time of stopping our work to contemplate His.

We returned to the thoughts of Eugene Peterson who writes well on the Sabbath.

“…it’s the evening when God begins, without our help, his creative day and the morning is when God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated – to participate. So we sleep to get out of the way for a while and join in the rhythm of salvation. We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn” He also adds, “the Deuteronomy reason for Sabbath-keeping is that our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deut 5:15). Never a day off. The consequence: they were no longer considered persons but slaves”

…a familiar story?

As I think of the next 7 years of ministry, the goal is to both pray and play well – to enjoy the art of living and lighten up, even scripture is advising me ‘not to take myself seriously, but take God seriously (Micah 6:8 MSG)

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Eugene wraps his thoughts with Psalm 92, of gratitude, prayer and the metaphors of music, animals and nature to learn from. Praying and playing share this quality: they develop and mature with age, they don’t go into decline…they are life-enhancing.

We were looking through our gazillions of pics this morning – of Zebras in the Serengeti, Grizzly bears along the highway to Banff, a Rattlesnake poised on my daily walk around the orchards. And from last week as the dawn chorus took on a tropical twist and the ocean was still, the clan took their snorkels down to the salty water and while playing the reef…

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Playing and Praying

From Psalm 92. //What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,  to sing an anthem to you, the High God! To announce your love each daybreak, sing your faithful presence all through the night, Accompanied by dulcimer and harp, the full-bodied music of strings. You made me so happy, God. I saw your work and I shouted for joy. How magnificent your work, God! How profound your thoughts!….My ears are filled with the sounds of promise: Good people will prosper like palm trees, Grow tall like Lebanon cedars; transplanted to God’s courtyard, They’ll grow tall in the presence of God, lithe and green, virile still in old age. Such witnesses to upright God!//

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I will announce your faithfulness and love.

Evening and Morning.  

Sanctifying my days. Applying His ways.

The sacred rhythms of praying and playing.

Emptying from the clamor of me. Making Him room.

Being. Doing. Repeat.

And in the sabbath sounds I hear a whisper,

‘don’t forget I AM Good News. I AM joy. I AM life.’

The good news is a person: Jesus, who walked on this earth to offer an alternative to a humanity devoid of real hope, who died on a cross in order to redeem humanity, who came “to bring good news to the poor … to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free. Let’s not forget that truth.

With a sabbath softened heart. We continue…

Love, Michelle xo

 

**There have been a number of reading inspirations in the last few weeks. I have been nervous to finish Pete Greig’s book – Dirty Glory – thoughts on that in 6 months or so…**

 

You are Invited…

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‘The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus Who was nailed to the cross. He is not here! He has risen from the dead as He said He would. Come and see the place where the Lord lay. Run fast and tell His followers that He is risen from the dead. He is going before you to the country of Galilee. You will see Him there as I have told you.” They went away from the grave in a hurry. They were afraid and yet had much joy. They ran to tell the news to His followers. As they went to tell the followers, Jesus met them and said hello to them. They came and held His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My followers to go to Galilee. They will see Me there.” Matthew 28:5

C.S Lewis calls it ‘The Strangest Story of all’

The Easter Story.

It’s all about stories.

Those ordinary ones who put Him there that day, the same men who went home to their wives making dinner, to their kids. Pilate…Caiaphas…Soldiers…those doing their job.

The nameless carpenter who crafted the cross. Doing his job.

These ordinaries remind me of the destructive darkness that lies deep… that we are all capable of.

I am reminded that the cross dealt with that darkness and if I don’t deal with it then it deals with me.

It’s all about stories.

Your story, His story.

What will you do with your story? Do you live it for yourself. Or do you occasionally allow God an appearance.  Or do you take your story and fully immerse into God’s story.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. 1 Peter 1:3 MSG

Richard Rohr writes ‘Most of human life is Holy Saturday, a few days of life are Good Friday, but there only needs to be one single Easter Sunday for us to know the final and eternal pattern. We now live inside of such cosmic hope. Jesus trusted enough to outstare the darkness, to outstare the void, to hold out for the resurrection of the forever-awaited “third day,” and not to try to manufacture His own. That is how God stretches and expands the soul, and makes it big enough to include God.’

Today you are invited into the story of the resurrected life.

‘But Michelle – it’s okay for you to talk of this resurrected life, but really, is this story the answer to my life that feels so dead and dark? How do I leave my Holy Saturday life. How do I leave a tomb life. A life of darkness that I can’t see my way out of.’

Invite Him in.

Invite Jesus into your tomb – your mess – your dark. Allow him to lead you out.

A resurrected life awaits you, a life of life.

And when the betrayal of Maundy Thursday, the darkness of Good Friday, the confusion, questions and doubt of Silent Saturday happen we can face them from the place of resurrection.

We can face those days in the power, promise and the presence of Jesus.

Happy Easter!

Love, Michelle xo

 

It’s a YES from me!

Hi friends, 

I read this quote recently, ‘put your YES on the table and let God put it on the map.’

I immediately thought of two significant YES moments.

The obvious being YES to Canada seven and a half years ago;  then there was this moment.

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I’m 22 years old, sitting under the African sun, the air is smoky as fires crackle outside homes along the roadside. I’m writing, not only saying yes to God, but to a place. To a mission and a lifelong love of a ministry. I remember wanting to go Africa the day I said yes to Jesus, anywhere in Africa! I’d tried to get there through various charities but it didn’t happen immediately. A ‘yes’ doesn’t mean we click our fingers and it happens. A few years later I went with a good friend to Living Waters to Mwanza, Tanzania. I remember more than one person saying to me ‘how do you think those poor Africans feel, you white people coming and going.’

Fair question?

Back to my journalling. I’m 22. I’m saying yes and ‘Lord, can my yes stay here, not necessarily live here, but commit to this group of people?’

And now 23 journals later, I am still staying yes, to the same place and people. My yes joined the unwavering yes of the ‘good friend’ I traveled with – oh and we’ve been married 19 years, he’s a veryyyyy good friend.

When my 14 year old Bella sent me a photo of her first African sunset over Lake Victoria a few weeks ago…

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…my heart beat faster, as it does when Emily’s eyes light up when she talks about Mwanza. Then came more pictures, and videos of laughter,  of movie nights and colouring and games with the children (we like to call it family night) and then the pics of helping in school, teaching ABC’s and 123’s.

Phil was able to spend quality time with Living Water’s staff, teachers and friends, looking into familiar faces and smiles, of newly weds or of new parents or into the eyes of those heavy with grief. 

To find a charity, a tribe, a ministry, a community you can invest in outside of your own comfortable world, whether one mile or ten thousand away – this is Jesus living, the way of the kingdom. For us it’s a blessing to board four flights and travel across the world to be with family. We love our Living Waters family – Carolyn, Agricola, Happiness, Lillian, Goodluck, Baby Agnes, Joyce, Doris, Fred and many, many more! 

You might remember a trip I took three years ago – I wrote about it, here and here  (this one was my favourite)  A friend on our team, Cathleen who lives in Kelowna, said YES too – to something she had no experience of, yet felt a call and passion to run with.

The dream to build a secondary school!

Three years later Phil and Bella were able to see Living Waters Secondary school close to completion. An inspiring, innovative project built from shipping containers! WOW! Follow the journey of the school here.

What are you saying YES to today that will live longer than you?

Have a great weekend,

Love, Michelle xo

P.S.  Thank you Carolyn for saying YES in the beginning!

 

Dancing in the Cool Breeze

Hello!

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Aren’t we all feeling a little more Spring like today?  It’s Spring Break over here and Phil and Bella are home from a beautiful time in  Mwanza. I look forward to filling you in on their trip – that’s my next post….in fact I have many blog posts running around in my head and I’m hoping they’ll land into some coherent words soon. If not then thanks for your grace. Creativity has taken a leave of absence but I’m hoping its return is imminent.

Meanwhile.

I recently read ‘God sets the lonely in families.’ I realize this is more than being alone, a state of being, in fact, being alone can be a gift (INFJ here) This is different, lonely is the emotion brought on by feelings of separation. Loneliness can be devastating, a riot in the brain that brings feelings of being uncared for, not celebrated, unloved.

Let’s backtrack to when loneliness entered – God created Adam and Eve and walked in the cool of the day with them. They were created for His presence, but as we know, sin entered the world and separated us from God. Shame, nakedness and loneliness penetrated the heart and we’ve struggled with this ever since, affecting many of our choices. Hurt and pain can isolate us, as we hide within the fear of rejection and misunderstanding. We deny ourselves grace and we make unhealthy comparisons. All enhancing loneliness on an island of echoes.

Good news.  

Loneliness does not exist within the trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in an adoring relationship. One does not function without the other. God is not alone and God is not lonely. The trinity exalts one another, communing and honoring. It’s a sublime dance. Or as C.S. Lewis put it, ‘in Christianity God is not a static thing… but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you would not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.’

Love cannot work alone. Could it be that we can fight loneliness with this understanding of the trinity?

Acts 3:19 tells us that, ‘upon repentance (of changing our mind, turning away) times of refreshing will stream from the Lord’s presence.’ These times of refreshing hints of that time when God walked with Adam in the cool breeze of the day. The work of the cross begins the restoration of paradise within the hearts of Christ’s followers. The garden of our hearts overlaps with the garden of God, and we can walk with him in the garden once more.

Let’s grasp this truth and let’s attempt the outworking of the dance… exalting, honoring, and working together and ‘as we limp toward transparency and community and friendship with our own fears and insecurities, we recognize that we aren’t alone. When we see that we are not alone, we can reach out to one another.’ Anne Voskamp.

Lord,

Help me to be aware that you are with me in every moment.

Help me grasp the truth that you desire to walk with me in the cool of the day.

In the valley and mountain. The confusion and fear. The celebration and hope.

Lord, every moment.

Amen.

We were never meant to be alone – we were created to enter into the divine dance.

Love, Michelle xo

…and Happy Mother’s Day Mom – you dance well.  

I’m stuck in Hope

Hey y’all  – a quick check in from the land of Hope!

Pursuit School of Evangelism was prayed for and commissioned yesterday at the Multiply conference in Vancouver with Luis Palau. Excited to see where God takes this vision!

I am sitting here in a terracotta colored motel room in a town called Hope, BC. Perhaps not our first choice of vacay but the Coquihalla is closed due to multiple accidents and severe weather warnings. In fact, it’s the first time in many years that all roads between the Coast and the Interior are closed. We are often involved in firsts.

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So we end up in Hope where Rambo was filmed! There are a few more visitors tonight as sleepy motels fill up #quietatmosphere

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It brings me to thinking about… wait for it…Hope!

I reposted a blog yesterday, which told the story of my baby bro – here it is. It was read and shared more than ever. Always thankful for hope being shared and the power of prayer realized.

I was thinking about some of my old Hope posts and remembered ‘Camp Hope’ from 2010. Can you remember the emotional scene as we watched 33 Chilean miners rise in the Phoenix capsule, following the natural response of family, friends and strangers setting up an actual ‘Camp Hope.’ Above ground. Waiting.

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

I spend a lot of time in Camp Hope. Praying and believing for those trapped, blinded by the dark and awaiting rescue. I’ll wait in Camp Hope 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  and that’s ok too.

‘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 groans’ Romans 8:28

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

My favorite quote is in a letter written by 19-year-old Chilean miner Jimmy Sanchez? ‘There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here’

And then there’s Jacob (Joseph’s Father) in the 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

This far surpassed 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.

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

I’m staying in Hope,

Love, Michelle x

 

Giftastic.

Day 28.

When I started this blogging marathon.

Those first days…

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But really…most days felt like this.

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When I publish a post.

When someone manages to breakthrough WordPress security on my blog and leave a comment.

How some imagine the Collins home.

Seriously though, some people think blogging is narcissistic.

As I near the end of this blogging marathon. So me.

Happy Day,

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xo

NaBloPoMo November 2013