Goodbyes Come in Waves.

For everything that happens in life, there’s a season… Ecc 3:1

A few surprise Hellos this week.

The O’Boyles after 17 years! Missionaries for YFC who have lived in Cyprus, Dubai, Thailand and Denver – we got to hang out with this fabulous family and have Neil preach at Willow Park before they head back to the homeland. Neil is taking on the role of National Director of British Youth for Christ. Loved this moment of being their last stop before heading home.

Kande our friend from our hometown in UK who lives in Japan was visiting family in Kelowna this week. Kande looks as beautiful as ever! We enjoyed a lovely lunch and catch up.

Jolyon on business in Vancouver popped over to Kelowna. We love you Brother Jo.

And it’s…

Goodbye or an-nyeong-hi ga-se-yo to Chloe our 13-year-old student from Korea who has been with us for the school year. She has coped well with the Collins clan and leaves us with a good grasp of the English language, a love for Canada and a slight English accent.

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Goodbye to Emily as she heads off on the yellow bus to Watson Lake in the Yukon for a couple of weeks. Emily and a team from our church will be running a youth camp on a reserve, just 3 days North. Love your heart Emily.

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DSC09107Goodbye to Jessica as she heads to Green Bay camp on their discipleship training program for 3 weeks (a 20 minute drive over the bridge) Proud of you girl and remember Hawaiian Tropic Oil is not sunscreen.

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And now…

Goodbye to my friend Esther. The one who has been by my side here in Kelowna. She’s prayed for me, cried with me and laughed a lot with me. She has understood me (except for my texts) She’s watched my kids overnight when we have needed a getaway. What a gift you have been Mrs. P – Tuesday mornings will never be the same. Seriously – who will laugh so loud at my stories that Starbucks is bought to silence. As for Christmas Eve, I promise that the Collins family will take part in a pajama hunt in honour of the past few years.Your gift of leading us in worship has been beautiful, you and Chad have both been huge cheerleaders of Phil and I in Willow Park, we are so grateful to God!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Praying for you ALL as you head to Texas. You guys will be a gift to your community. Love y’all.

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Let us see the richness of ever changing seasons as God weaves these wonderful moments, we embrace them and are thankful. Even the goodbyes or should I say au revoir – until we see each other again.

May you know God’s love and presence this week,

Love, Michelle xo

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” Frederick Buechner.

Isolation to Restoration.

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Hi friends.

I have been busy these last few weeks – busy resting. Argh.

I returned from Africa and soon enough became quite sick. This resulted in me being admitted into hospital and quarantined for three days. Because I had been to the country of Tanzania in (East) Africa (the continent)

During quarantine I was tested for EVERYTHING and in full isolation, which meant masks/gown/gloves for anyone visiting. The kids embraced the moment. Seriously.

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‘Sorry for treating you like a leper’ the Doctors would say – which opened up a whole other conversation.

I learned that Jesus loves to hang out in quarantine. In fact, He loves nothing more than to step into our quarantine – whether externally forced or self-induced.

During this time I read, I slept, I listened, I heard whispers that can only be heard in silence, I listened to worship and I journalled – a lot.

I received love and care from family and friends home and away – what a gift. Every person needs a community, every person is created for family, look out for them – they’re everywhere.

I was discharged from hospital with a ‘virus’ diagnosis and perhaps being a little burnt out and was encouraged to rest with plenty of self-care.

This is what I have been doing for the past few weeks…

Where exhausted is a little too familiar, where aches and dizziness can overshadow.

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So, besides a little health update and to thank you for your prayers I’d like to encourage you with some musings from this unfamiliar place. So if you have a few minutes grab a cuppa and read on!

I love how the Lord speaks.

I woke at 4.30am last week, with the words ‘He restores my soul’ dancing my mind.

Ah yes from one of my favorite psalms. He restores my soul.

‘Thank you Lord…can I go back to sleep now?’

I woke later to a text from Phil from his Stourbidge, Swanwick, Saskatchewan tour – he wrote this from Psalm 138:3

‘In the day when I cried out, You answered me,

And made me bold with strength in my soul.’

There’s a theme!

I looked up this verse in other versions, some write to be infused with strength.

The Passion translation says this: “At the very moment I called out to you. Your presence came and you answered Me! You strengthened me deep within my soul, And breathed fresh courage into me!

The Hebrew word for soul means a breathing creature – living – alive. Our soul could be described as our mind and emotions – our person – our self. Our heart, character, personality through which we encounter life. It’s the depth of our being. The seat of our will. It’s the breath of life. It’s our natural life that which makes us exist and animates us! You get the idea.

His Spirit is ours to ensure restoration happens. God doesn’t control our soul, it is under free will – we choose whether our soul prospers or dies. It’s about inviting the Spirit into our soul to repair and restore.

The Hebrew word of restoration is rich in meaning: to bring back; to bring home again; to build again; to recover; to refresh; to relieve; to rescue.

There are times when God invites us to walk through obscurity, questions, darkness and confusion to find the truth of who we are. It is here we find the condition of our soul. Remembering what we think and feel affects our physical bodies. I don’t underestimate how emotional upset results in physical upset. The reverse is also true.

We all know life wounds our souls. There are times when the Spirit works through others or situations to bring change. He invites us into a process of restoration. This is why we love offering Encounter God to our congregation. Restoring what was lost from the original design.

What is your soul saying today? What area needs restoration?

He restores my soul. Your soul.

Mr. Buechner captures it well…

“Every once in a while I recognize that I am walking in green pastures that call out to me to lie down in them, and beside still waters where my feet lead me. Sometimes in the way the breeze stirs the palms or the way a bird circles over my head, I recognize that even in the valley of the shadow of my own tangled thoughts there is something holy and unutterable seeking to restore my soul.”

Pray this over your own life…

Lord. Thank you for restoration.

Thank you for the life you breathe into my being.

Thank you that you refresh the fatigue I feel.

Teach me to recognize the green pastures, and to lie down in them.

Help me to allow myself to rest.

To allow myself to slow down. To be.

I invite the breath of God into every area of me that needs restoration.

Into every emotion, every thought, every cell and fibre of my being.

To recover what is lost and stolen.

You are my healer.

You came to give life in abundance.

You are the creator of my life.

Restore me – to be all you created me to be.

Amen.

 

 

Love, Michelle xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Thanksgiving

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Here we are on the second day of my ‘Africa musings’. Read the first day here.

Gen 12:1 says Go to the place I will show you.

So I heard and I did. Gathered. Fundraised. Put on my best flip flops and travelled (flip flops not recommended 😉

During our fundraising activities a well-meaning lady told us that short term missions trips were a waste of time indicating that they did more harm than good.

What I love about visiting Living Waters is that we were not arriving there to take over and wave our magic wand of the West but rather to join in with the ministry and bless all that is already taking place – supporting teachers, and staff and simply being with the children.

Ensuring them all of a group of people in a faraway place, actually, a 14, 130km away place – who regularly pray for them, love them and think of them often.

‘Go where your best prayers take you’ says Buechner.

‘Put willing feet on your red letter verses and go’ says Me.

10711076_10152449982490954_7364837984647119140_nMarnie’s feet!

Isaiah 52:7 ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that God reigns!’

This became a relevant verse as we climbed to many mountaintops to share good news stories. Personal mountains, fear filled mountains and blatant ‘I cannot do this’ mountains.

What did that look like? Where did those beautiful feet take our team?

They danced with African congregations (the first time I had danced the conga around church) these feet skipped over ropes and walked African streets sharing good news.

They dodged scorpions, dragged themselves through airport corridors, and kicked own self at times.

They stood in front of hundreds of people – as the team shared painful stories, of loss and redemption, testimonies of God’s goodness and grace.

They stood strong – supported by team members cheers.

They they chased bubbles and dogs and wore Converse with Sunday best…10624821_10152449901015954_5131216671648908056_n

They climbed from under a mosquito net during the night and paced a room in prayer as fever peaked and darkness raged.

These feet worked hard…

Each step we took was one of intention, digging our cracked heels into dusty soil.

As grateful passion was ignited to a burning flame because of our feet on the ground.

And now we are home, the all important question ‘How was it’?

A poignant question to ask this Thanksgiving weekend and I am reminded again to convert gratitude from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living.

I love Anne Voskamp’s thoughts on this ‘What if the question around holiday tables wasn’t –What are you so grateful for? But rather how are you changing the world because you are so grateful? What if gratitude always meant a question mark — asking how will you let your gratitude to Christ mark the world for Christ?… Thanksgiving is a verb – a way to walk, to respond, to give, to do, to change the world.

Buechner also says ‘Generally speaking, if you want to know who you really are, as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you.’

Let us find a way to walk this out.

More tomorrow!

Love, Michelle

 

Pleasant Places.

IMG_5132I’ve been thinking about boundaries…

I wasn’t much for boundaries as a teen, it wasn’t that I pushed them, I just didn’t have any… and when my own teens remind me ‘you turned out ok without boundaries’ I remind them ‘I’m only ok because I met Jesus at 17 and he introduced me to a life of freedom within the boundaries of His love’.

I’ve been reflecting on Psalm 16:6 ‘My boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places’.

But what is the pleasant place… Is it a dream?

The dream of pleasant places leads us to a life of peace and an imagined contentment and all that is green. You know the green I mean?  The shade of green that social media invokes and the beautiful green of the grass on the other side.

The dream of pleasant places where it was and how it used to be. Before separation happened through broken relationships, through offence, through misunderstanding or how things were before we were all dispersed to the far ends of the earth.

The dream of pleasant places where we wish our home, our lot was different, our thoughts being continually distracted with more, bigger, richer, new and…and….I wish it was different.

Then there are the pleasant places that David describes in Psalm 16, the golden psalm – the psalm to live by.

Let’s think about David. He often finds himself in the pits – literally – he sinks deeper, unable to be rescued or even rescue himself. David the fugitive, running from Saul, hiding in caves, finds himself in much difficulty and loneliness.

We can identify with his darkness, depths, and pits. With being chased, sickness pinning us to our bed, thoughts digging our own dark cave. In reading that David’s ‘lines have fallen to him in pleasant places’ we realize that it’s not because David has found himself a nice acreage, abounding in health with all the toys he needs.

When the people of Israel entered the promised land they were given land to their tribe – each family were given their lot and the lines were drawn. Boundary stones were put in place and everyone knew the piece that God had given them. While David wasn’t in this physical place… he spoke the words. He knew the God of love within the boundaries he had been given. David knew and trusted God, reminding himself of the many promises God had spoken over the years. As much as a physical place, let’s view the pleasant places as a heart residence. The place of safety and protection, a place to share the burden, to hear the whisper of God, the place of holding and declaring promise.

I love what Frederick Buechner writes  ‘for Jesus, peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle, but the presence of love.’

Have you accepted His love? I know the minute I step out of the boundary of God’s love, those characteristics of the pleasant place are robbed, it’s a wild place outside that boundary.

The pleasant place of the heart also speaks of contentment.

‘I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.’ Philippians 4:12

As we wake each day and declare the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places, we can do so in faith, in the knowledge of the love of God. Working within the lines that have fallen to us. Trusting he will meet us there.                                This place is not limiting. This is all about freedom, because it is where God has called you to be, to hear his whisper and the revelation of God’s purpose and plan for your life.

I was chatting with Momma Sue today who is learning new contentment.                                                                                As life throws difficulty and limits her activity. Where boundaries feel claustrophobic and far from pleasant.

She is forced to sit, to stop and say ‘Lord, what do you want to speak to me today?’

Then she reads this….

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Amazing what happens when you ask.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I will leave this musing with this final thought… Let’s not forget to be thankful.

From the caves, the pits, the sickbed… from the mountain tops and wide open places. There’s always much to be thankful for. Let thankfulness become a habit. Reflect intentionally on the things God has given you within your boundaries.

And…wait…. AS I WRITE these words.

I receive a text from a loved one needing breakthrough, needing healing, needing peace, she writes

thankfulness may actually provide the long awaited key I will use to unlock major difficulties in your life. Giving thanks to Me can open doors that transcend your understanding – Jesus’.

Love and Prayers,

Michelle xoxo

Psalm 16.

Keep me safe, my God,
 for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;


apart from you I have no good thing.’

I say of the holy people who are in the land,


‘They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.’

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.


I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods


or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;


you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;


surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;


even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.


With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;


my body also will rest secure,

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,


nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

You make known to me the path of life;


you will fill me with joy in your presence,


with eternal pleasures at your right hand.