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 

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.

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.

 

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.

On Dr. Martens and Friendship.

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I chatted to my friend this week in the UK.
She said she keeps up with my blog and I said I’d give her a mention.
Who knew that five minute Friday would be the word ‘Friend’ so I have 5 minutes to write – no editing no backtracking *cough*.
Remember:
When we were in school together…and you spelt your name with a ‘y’. So cool.
We topped and tailed in my little single bed. A lot.
When my side the friendship talked the other into taking a day off school. Hmmm.
When I required big scrunched hair, you were my scruncher – diffuser and all.
When you saw my home as yours. My family as yours. That was good.
When we decided to say yes to the Jesus who invaded our lives with love and freedom.
Our mature years (late teens) – of even bigger hair and such sensible clothes, Benny Hinn and dwelling in four dwellings.
And then the wandering and wondering and meeting up again.
And all those babies.
And now…
Your eldest sits his leaving exams and my littlest sits his weekly spellings.
Your eldest says ‘Mom, I want physics and psychology and art.’
And my littlest goes to bed asking ‘Is it OK if I just tell God  He’s cool because of His superpowers.’ We’re doing a great job!

You’re more than my mate Kayt, your my sis.

Nearly 3 years ago, I stepped off a plane and had to start friend making again. And that’s been hard. It takes time doesn’t it?
Time. Energy. Effort. Courage…there’s that word again.
We are all meant to be friends with someone. We cannot do this life alone.

Jesus loves friendship.

I spent my Thursday at the Hope Centre.
I chatted with my biker tattooed bro with his UK imported Dr. Martens. I let him know his boots were having a major fashion moment in the UK. That kids, teens and Moms alike were wearing them with pride. The boot, designed after a ski injury back in the 60’s has made its air cushioned sole through decades of punks and skinheads to style mags and catwalks.
(I was the 9 year old skinhead down the Lye with waist long hair and docs) Seriously.

My Hope Centre friend. He told me he wasn’t sure if he fit in there because he was so different. ‘I mean, just look at me’ he said.
I told him everyone in the Hope Centre was different so he would fit in just fine.
As he was leaving he came up to me and said
‘Hey, English. I had a great morning.’

I could say its because of the Patti’s sandwiches or my excellent coffee or Esther’s hospitable skills. But I think it’s more than that.
You see there’s something that connects us all.
Whether homeless, happy, frantic, fed. We are made for connection.
For friendship. For community.
Whether living life together day by day, a weekly visit to the Hope Centre or friendship across the pond.

Friendship, is gift to be treasured and not taken for granted.

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(not the boots HC bro was wearing, the boots I would wear;)

My prayer is that you will find courage to allow yourself to find and to be a friend.

Yes courage.

‘The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage literally had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has actually changed, and today, courage is synonymous with being heroic or performing brave deeds.
Heroics and bravery are important, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we and about our experiences (good and bad) is the ultimate act of courage. Heroics is often about putting your life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting your vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary’ Thoughts of Brene Brown.

And finally…
Back to my mate kayt. She wears docs.

Have a great weekend friends!
Love,  Michelle. xoxo

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” CS Lewis.

Five Minute Friday