A Call To The Curious Barefoot Life

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~Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God.

But only he who sees takes his shoes off;

the rest sit ’round and pluck blackberries~

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

While scrolling my instagram feed of Bella’s mission in Portland and Em, Jess and friends visit in Stourbridge, I came across an insta story which started this musing. My friend Dani (who I babysat for in Portugal and now lives in Texas with her husband) wrote that she’d heard her Mom, Nessa (my friend who lives in Florida and was preaching in Ecuador) preach on the challenge of surrender. Dani sent it to me on Whatsapp and here I am still musing on Nessa’s challenge. 

It starts with an inquisitive Moses and God in a blazing but not consumed bush, who asked of Moses, ‘Do not come any closer,…..Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Exodus 3:5

This was significant, as in the Old Testament removing your sandal and giving to another was a symbol of handing over, of giving up rights.

What did Jesus do at the Last Supper? He washed the disciples worn, dusty feet. We know that Peter, responded ‘No, I will not participate in this’ (Because he knew it was a degrading task) But Jesus, apparently committing a faux pas in His upside-down kingdom way responded ‘If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing’ Another symbol of shoes off, humility and surrender to a washing that can only be offered by the One. Not only that, the message of ‘the way down is the way up.’

Of course, we are not in the Old Testament custom of handing over shoes as redemption. It’s about our heart response to God almighty who lives in an everlasting fire and calls us to surrender – a life of serving Him and others.

Let’s journey on through on this barefoot pilgrimage – 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.

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My thoughts on the feet of the One who touched the earth with destination in mind and purpose in His heart

Feet of Jesus.

The womb of the chosen mother,

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.

 

 

Let’s follow this example of humility and reverence of removal

Of shaking off the dust and dirt and saying yes the holy.  

And as we surrender,

God’s presence in us, promises that where we stand, is sacred, holy ground.

You are loved!

Michelle xo
PS. These feet belong to my friend Marnie and was taken during our trip to Africa a few years ago – you can read about that here  and the countryside pic was taken when Phil and I completed the Worcestershire way a few years ago which you can read about here 

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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

 

Be Kind to Yourself today!

Friends,

A quick summer Collins catch up…

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Summer is in full flow here in Kelowna, Mom and D have enjoyed their annual visit, Phil and I took advantage of Josiah at the Ark camp and stayed at Spirit Ridge Resort, Osoyoos last week. Highly recommended! Em and Bella had a great time at Watson Lake in the Yukon, Em with the youth team and Bella with the children’s. You can read about the camp in this local newspaper report here.  Phil visited both of the teams and camps for a few days and was so blessed by their energy, commitment and the way God is using the church and camps we are involved with, and of course, he enjoyed the many bears and other wildlife (lynx!) along the Alaska highway.

 

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Emily and Jessica are heading to the UK for a visit in a few weeks to visit Family and friends before they head back to College in September.

Me – well I think about my France trip and all that I saw and how God is using our friends in Caen. If you didn’t catch my thoughts on the trip, you can read about it here and here. I’ve also just signed up for my final writing degree module and looking ahead to September and our new intake of Pursuit School students. If you know someone who would like to join us from September 2018 to June 2019 (a 6-month program is also available) point them to our website here!

There are many musings whirring through my head this week – of answered prayers and gratitude and observing first hand the promise of God over my family. But that’s for another time. But…for now, be encouraged that God hears every prayer you pray for your babes – every prayer. He answers and is always faithful.

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While Emily was at work last week a little girl couldn’t find her Aunt, Em asked, ‘what does she look like.’

The girl thought a while, smiled and replied ‘she’s very kind.’

I love this!

How is kindness looking on you today?

Some of my favourite verses are from Colossians, ‘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 3:12-14

Can you imagine if we lived like this?

One of the areas highlighted in my life recently has been kindness.

In a world of cruelty and opinion and frustration, the universal and divine language of kindness helps to drown harsh updates, hungry humans, and wandering souls.

But it doesn’t just happen – in the garden of our hearts, we need to prune, tend, cultivate and give away the fruit.

There are whole lists of kindness we can follow, but we all know those don’t we?

I believe it starts with this act of kindness, which, when applied, inevitably affects those around me – the act of being kind to myself.

It’s time to be vigilant on behalf of your own best self which includes treating yourself as you treat a dear friend.

Kindness allows silence and hears a whisper of worth over your soul.

Kindness allows questions, doubt, and grief.

Kindness rushes in like a parent over their hurting child.

Kindness takes the opportunity to free your baggage.

Kindness affects your whole being with both nurture (caring) and action (motivating).

Kindness recognises that you are created with qualities that are a blessing to others – what are yours?

You’re created by God, made in His image and loved beyond measure. God is calling you today to be kind to yourself, to acknowledge your beauty and God-given gifts.

Be kind to yourself today; it looks good on you,

Love, Michelle xo

Listening

Reading (more to come on this book…)

 

 

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…**

 

Sabbatical thoughts: Part One.

Hello!

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We are on sabbatical! A gift of time given to Phil this Summer, after 7 years at Willow Park. A time to refresh, rest and study for the next season of ministry. If you follow our Monday funday life you’ll know that Phil and I sabbath well and this has transferred into an extended period.

In addition, Phil is studying to provide the church with new resources around the subjects of general anxiety and helping families with loved ones with cancer and dementia. Phil began his time with a 5 day hike along the famous West Coast Trail with our good friend Lyndon who flew in from the UK. A challenging 75 km hike between Port Renfrew and Bamfield on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

June also saw a great visit from Mom, Dion and Charl.

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Em and Jess’ graduation!

…and end of school and awards nights for Josiah and Bella. Into July we see Em return from Watson Lake in the Yukon where the team ran a great youth camp with our Watson family. Ark started this past week with our Josiah heading off for the first time. He loved every minute. You can watch their first week recap here.

I am busy with Pursuit School. We have students applying and I’m currently finalizing curriculum for the school and organising speakers. Go like our Facebook page and cheer us on! It’s not too late to apply, or you might know someone who would like to attend an awesome school of evangelism and mission based out of Willow Park Church in Kelowna.  

As an INFJ and a journaler I often pour out creative expression privately. Over the last months I have resorted to private expression, rather than posting, a few reasons but I do know that we all do our best creative best work when we’re doing it in front of somebody else. So bare with me as I write the mundane, the ordinary and practice taking my voice from private to public, from page to post once more.

July Journal entry

….I woke this morning early. English tea in my oversized starbucks cup (half tsp sugar) followed by coffee in a small cup (no sugar) It’s 8am and I decide to exercise before the forecasted 30+ hits. No make up, scraped hair and podcasts lined up I hit the orchards for my daily 6km loop. I walk uphill, run down around the orchards. I am rejoicing with morning creation, joining into God’s work that I’m called to enjoy and share and develop. Sunbeams dart through the forest trees. I stop. A few minutes later two fawns slow my steps. Sunny (our rusty whoodle) is frozen with excitement. The deer saunter towards us and Sunny can’t contain herself any longer, letting out a strange hunting squeal, they leap away, through the woods. Free.

We live in God; we move in God; we exist in God. Acts 17:28

The Jewish name for God – Yahweh – was not spoken, but breathed. Its correct pronunciation is an attempt to imitate the sound of inhalation and exhalation. We do that every moment: our first and last word as we enter and leave the world…. The one thing we do every moment of our lives is therefore to speak the name of God. This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world (Richard Rohr)

I run on, breathing. I love that in spite of ourselves and our pain, by breathing we are speaking the name of God, taking time with eternity. We see the breath of God in everything – through scripture – throughout nature.

Inhaling I ask the Spirit to take control

Exhaling confession

Inhale forgiveness

Exhale gratitude.

Inhale grace

I see in a blink, a spectrum of light dance through water spraying over the orchards.

I’m reminded of the promise of His presence,

I pray, Emmanuel, be with…

Dear friends who have lost everything to fire,  

Raging forest fires,

A precious newborn who needs miracle,

Good friends traveling for life changing treatment,

Our pastor’s, their families and our church family,

And for you in impossible situations I pray you know your loving Father, who breathed His life into your being, who promises His presence.

Love, Michelle xo

more sabbatical thoughts soon 🙂

 

Never Unfriended

FRIENDS!

Happy Spring…

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I’m on the launch team for this timely book ‘Never Unfriended’  by Lisa Jo Baker. This book is full of truth and challenges us to look at our own lives, how we view friendships and what kind of friend we are. Recognising the the cardinal rule of friendship. you have to go first. Chapters explore subjects such as… fear of being hurt (friendship PTSD), listening, being un-fine and of course jealousy and comparison.

These are powerful truths and so important for us in our unfriending world.

A glimpse of the book:

‘…..the ultimate friend, Jesus—the One who moved into the neighborhood to get to know us, the friend of the popular and unpopular, of priests and pastors, of the uneducated and the graduated, of elementary school girls and their minivan-driving moms—put it pretty plain and simple. When asked what the greatest commandment was, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the heart of this book—the call back to friendship—even when it’s hard, awkward, unfamiliar, or scary. Being willing to be a neighbor in the heart sense the word is being willing to connect with the people who God puts in our path. It’s doing life together, especially the hard parts.

It’s choosing friendship on purpose.

And then there’s this.

‘In our relationships, maybe without even realizing it, we try to stuff our people into an image we’ve created for them. An image that’s comfortable for us, but might actually cut off their circulation, their personality, their quirks. I’ve done this for years, often with the best intentions. I love people. I love seeing them grow into the best versions of themselves. The only problem is that it’s not actually up to me to come up with the blueprint for that version. I’m not their God. And they’re not supposed to be created in my image.’

And…

‘We need to give up our expectations for people to be faultless or to be basically different from who they really are. Maybe the person isn’t so “bad” after all; maybe they are just different than we would have made them. Maybe what we are thinking is the absolute “right” way to be or to live is really a personal preference that we are trying to legislate on someone else. We tend to make our view the “right” view, even in areas where God says that other views are okay also. This is the whole concept of Christian freedom.’

Sound good? You can preorder on Amazon or through neverunfriended.com where you will receive the first 5 chapters (and other goodies) as a digital download with your preorder before April 1st.

This book has brought me to some lights on moments, some tears, healing and lots of courage going forward.

Lord. Wrap us in divine wisdom – help us to know when to let go of friendships, to walk away but also when to hold on. Help us to believe the best and be a blessing, to lay down jealousy and to be an encouragement.Help us offer grace to our teenage self and give us courage to be the friend we want to have. Amen.  

It’s time to step into imperfect friendships – letting go of expectations and inviting God-given (opposites, different, awkward) to do life with.

Love, Michelle xo

‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ 1 Cor. 13:7).

‘Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.’ James 3:17–18

 

 

Dad

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My Dad lay in deepest of sleeps, his breath rattling loose around his fragile frame. He was leaving us, departing this momentary world. Many of those around his bed had been allowed their moment and I waited quietly for mine. Even with ten of us around his bedside My Heavenly Father graced me my space. As I looked up to an empty room tangible peace invaded my being.

Just my Dad and me.
I looked down at his hands, one hand held a wooden prayer cross and I wrapped his other around mine.
I wanted to hold his hand as he was ushered in.
That smooth, familiar hand.
That had steered the truck to support our family.
That had betrayed…defended.
That held back screaming fans in the 60s at the packed town hall.
That had given out aid in Croatia.
The hand that had surrendered to God.
The miracle of his surrender made the redemption of God all the more glorious. We all remember that miracle – when God broke into the chaos, pouring rivers of living water and drowning dysfunction. And wherever the river flowed, transformation happened.
…I said all I had to say; my throat squeezed tight, words finally filling my voiceless pain. He heard me, his frail, cancer consumed body slowly departing, but he heard me – healing tears rolled down his cheeks and mine.
‘Well done Dad, well done.’
Family gathered close again, holding hands tight and every second dear.
Sounds never heard before, emotions never experienced.
Then…a glorious February sunlight shone through the hospice window, a new light.

Remembering you today Dad, with Beatles songs and stories and I’m so thankful to our Saviour,
Love, Shell x

I pray for those of you in the unending shadows, that you will not be overcome by fear.
I pray that you will be reassured that He is with you in those moments and that He is near with protection and guidance.
I pray that you will know His comfort, His presence, His peace – always.

You are loved.

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

 

He comforts to the point of strength

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I have no words yet I have all the words. Death seems to have a way of breathing new life into our bones and shifting our focus on the eternal. Thank you all for your love, prayers and messages these past few weeks. We have felt it. God has wrapped us up in His love. For those who are new here. Here’s the link to our journey over the past while.

I have been meditating on the valley… because it is a familiar place to us at the moment. It would appear this valley here is no sprint – but what I do know is that ‘even though I walk through the darkest valley.’

THROUGH. Phew

 Rick Warren describes the valley as : Inevitable /\Unpredictable/\Impartial/\Temporary

Valleys happen, they are no respecter of persons and never happen at a good time – read more of his devotional here  – he ends it with this ‘…There is an eternal glory. This is important. Pain can be productive. There will be a benefit for our problems if we respond in the right way. While we have the temporary hassles there is long term, eternal benefit when you go through a valley and respond to it correctly.’

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Our God the comfort, He comforts well – to the point of strength. That’s our promise even when emotions weigh us down and grief gets in the bones. Even in the darkest valley moments. There’s always, ALWAYS light.

Because of promise. Because He is light. And there is no darkness in Him. And at times like these. When we’re fighting for the day. There is a community that rises up. With encouragement and food, and cakes (because sweet things are comforting ;)) meals out and a whole lot of love. Thank you.

….and today I am procrastinating on a uni assignment because I seem to have misplaced creativity. I am supposed to be writing a Fantasy story for 7-9 year olds – so I decided to ‘winterize’ the (neglected) veggie patch instead.

As I begin to turn it over, and weed – I pull up a whole harvest of misshaped carrots – I find monster zucchini hidden under shrivelled leaves – and an abundance of tomatoes desperately crawling on the ground. Yes, there is still fruit – even when it appears we’re not on top of things. There is harvest in this mess.

And a surprise selection of sunflowers grow tall. Facing light.

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After my gardening today I came in for tea and (more) cake and read an article by Danny Silk.  ‘Your life is a gift from God to you. It has infinite value to him, which he communicates to you in all the many ways He loves you…healthy relationships grow between people who have embraced their individual responsibility to tend to their own gardens. …You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. If you have ever been on a plane, you have been subjected to the flight attendants’ spiel about what to do if the cabin loses pressure. They explain that oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling and show you how to put them on. Every time, they remind you that if you are traveling with a child or someone else in need of assistance, you must be sure to put your mask on before you try to help anyone else. The implication is clear. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to care for anyone else. (Thanks Danny!)

So as we walk through the valley we care for ourselves, we hide in the rock, and hear Jesus whisper ‘get up’…. and we take a few more steps.

And even in these past few weeks loved ones near and far have faced their own valley –unexpected news, accident, illness and loss.

Friends: God is near to you – He is near to the broken hearted He rescues those who are crushed in spirit – He prays for us. What a perfect opportunity for the Holy Spirit to meet us in our weakness and pray on our behalf. He knows us.

That’s all for now!

Love, Michelle xo

 

A few days before we returned UK Phil preached on the book of Job – little did we know we’d practicing what he preached… you can listen to it here.