Lent: Fast from indifference, feast on love.

 

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An article written last February with Pope Francis thoughts on Lent has stirred my heart.

…If we’re going to fast from anything this Lent, Francis suggests that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast from indifference towards others.

‘Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.…whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades….We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own….

‘But when we fast from this indifference, we can began to feast on love’

He continues ‘What are you giving up for Lent?’ It’s a question a lot of people will get these next few days. If you want to change your body, perhaps alcohol and candy is the way to go. But if you want to change your heart, a harder fast is needed. This narrow road is gritty, but it isn’t sterile. It will make room in ourselves to experience a love that can make us whole and set us free.’

Now that’s something worth fasting for.

As I (Michelle) walk the road to Easter – I’m committed to fasting from indifference.

More stopping for the one, less rush,

more engaging with stories, less scrolling past,

more hearing hearts, less agenda,

more awareness, less head in the sand.

More of YOU, less of me Lord.

Join me on the journey of fasting from indifference?

Love, Michelle

I’m reading Bread and Wine as my devotional during the next 40 days. A selection of readings by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Philip Yancey, Madeline L’Engle, Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and more.

Also head over and join my friend Melissa who is sharing thoughts on the journey here

 

 

 

21 days of prayer: A hard slog and a breakthrough

 

 

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We kicked off the New Year with 21 days of prayer and fasting – a first for Willow Park. We opened up a prayer room and saw a constant stream of people going through, enjoying the many creative ways to pray.

The biggest request being ‘can we keep the prayer room open after the 21 days of prayer’?!

For some of us our 21 days of prayer and fasting was a hard slog and for others a time of breakthrough and the rest of us… both.

Doesn’t that sum it up well?

What we do know is that from the moment we set ourselves to pray our prayers were heard – not a prayer is wasted.

We listened to testimonies at our prayer gathering. I love hearing Jesus stories! We heard of a sudden onset of mysterious sickness during the fasting time, after hospital stays, tests and a ton of prayer this young adult testified that the pain disappeared and the tests were clear. We heard of lives committed to Jesus once more, of hearts on fire for him, of a man who after a long time of feeling out of sorts with the church decided to let go of issues and return to church family.

I loved the story of a gorgeous senior lady who came and shared how she was deaf in one ear. She had asked her friends to pray for her (making the point to surround yourself with praying friends)

She ended the testimony with ‘I can hear perfectly now’

Wow!

Did someone lay hands on her? Or command deaf ears to open?

Not this time – her friend advised her on a new place to get a hearing aid and she can now hear perfectly.

God loves to answer prayer. Yes He can open deaf ears and blind eyes. He also gives us wisdom and answers often come in surprising and mysterious ways.

We also heard today of a lady who was prayed for at the Willow One gathering and was healed from 8 years and 4 months of back and nerve pain.

His ways are not ours!

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My poetic prayer is for those who cannot see the way forward…

Wait. Be still.

Don’t be afraid

You promise

That you’ll act on our behalf

And when we cant see the way

And darkness closes in

You remind us again

Be still

We hear

Whispered reassurance

I will prepare the way

I will part the way

My love fights for you

My passion a hurricane

To a standing ovation

Of parted waters

Know this beloved

I will drown the onslaught

You will move past your enemies

You will be hope filled

Open your eyes

You will see the goodness of God

In the land of the living

I am your salvation

Wait. Be still.

Bless you!

Love, Michelle

Prophetic Mashup 2016

 

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For the past few years I have gathered and collated prophetic words for the year ahead and condensed them into a ‘mash-up.’ Usually the words have a theme or thread – the themes this year are varied with many beginning with ‘2016: The year of the ….’ One thing I have learned is ‘every prophetic word is subject to the will of the listener. The work is His but the willingness must be ours.’

As you read through these words and thoughts I pray you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying and that your heart will respond to that which is for you, your family and your community.

Grab a cuppa, a journal and find some gold…

The Year the Tide turns 

Isaiah 59:19, ‘When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise up a standard.’ Many people get stuck when the flood comes, but they forget that God is raising up a standard. I want to encourage you, some of you right now are going through a challenging time, but I promise you that God is working on your behalf. The enemy may be coming in trying to overwhelm you, trying to make you feel like you are flooded by problems and adversities. But don’t pray complaining prayers; pray faith-filled prayers, saying that you trust the Lord, that He is going to cause you to triumph, He’s going to cause you to overcome. And I want to promise you the tide will turn.

Unlocking

‘I am coming like the lightning to unlock every circumstance that’s been held up. I am coming in power, and I am coming quickly. I am bringing it from Heaven to earth. In these next six weeks, I am coming in power, and I will unlock that which has been locked! Do not expect anything to feel the same as you go forward. Don’t expect the things that you have done for years to even feel the same. This will be a time that you will look at everything that is happening with fresh eyes and new eyes. Rejoice in this and know that I will not let you stay in the same place. I have brought you too far to let you stay where you don’t belong anymore.’

The Ground

We are seeing everything that has built up in 2015 come to a complete tipping point. For the bowls of prayer, petitions, and decrees have come before the Lord and the Lord is about to move on behalf of His people. The events, even the tests and trials that were experienced during this phase, have been the ground for that which the Lord is establishing now. ‘For now the dry ground is about to become your watered garden. The harvest will be like nothing you have seen in times past. For this is a part of the accelerated course that has come upon the land, and there will be rapid growth in this season.’ The ground of peoples’ hearts, the ground of peoples’ minds, and the ground of peoples’ spirits will be cleansed. The land will be cleansed with My love, mercy, and purity of purpose that will be planted into the ground. It will purge and uproot that which was sown by the enemy. This is a time and an hour for a great cleansing to take place: unto the people, unto the land, and unto the Church. This cleansing will cause a re-turning and a changing; and in that turning and that changing, My people will be delivered, healed, and prepared.’

The Process of Restoration

‘There will be a restoration, a return to the place of original intent, and a return back to ground that needs to be taken in the realm of the spirit. There will be a return back to those things that I have called My people to accomplish. I will work generationally, and I will take My people into a deeper depth of the anointing and into the power of My grace in My love. For this will be a part of that which I have placed upon them that they may grow.

‘I will even take this season of restoration and will unveil the seedlings within the plant of its origin, and you will see My purpose purify the hearts and minds of My people. They will become ready, they will come forth, and they will move forth to do the things that I have called them to do in this season. Then you will understand the re-digging of the wells and the replanting of My Word, as it called to take root and bear fruit as My plan becomes activated in this hour.’

Tipping Point

Watch how when the efforts of many move together a tsunami wave of momentum is created, having much impact. It will begin in January and go throughout the year. You will see people connecting people, purpose, time, and energy along with great moves of God’s glory touching others on new levels. There will be those who will be carriers of the glory realm coming together.

The bowls of the prayers of the saints will be tipped over, taking others into greater realms of prayer movements. People will be gathering together with a hunger for His presence and hearts crying out for transformation, and it will take place in the house both apostolically and prophetically. In many ways God will see to it that things fall into their proper place.

The Year of the Slipstream

Slipstream: ‘the airstream generating reduced air pressure and forward suction directly behind a rapidly moving vehicle.’ The year 2015 has been a year of intense pressure, intense stretching, intense opposition, and contending. I believe in 2016 there is an invitation into a divine slipstream. The wind of the Spirit is moving in great acceleration, but the Lord is calling us to a ‘positioning’ of greater rest. This invitation will require a greater trust in the Lord and His timing and ways. These slipstreams are going to go in different directions in some ways to how many have anticipated He is going to move and ‘when,’ but as the people of God allow the wind of the Spirit to carry them in this slipstream, there is going to be greater ground taken, greater manifestations of His power and Spirit, greater fruit for less effort. This divine slipstream is going to see many get a rest from the hard toiling of 2015, where things will begin to flow in 2016, as the manifested winds of grace land in lives in greater ways. Abundance, provision, and manifested blessing are going to break through in 2016 in exponential ways.

Year of the Pioneer

Pioneers have been through intense trials, opposition, weariness, hardship, and fire. In the year of 2016, a great vindication is coming over the pioneers. It will be like Joseph, when there was great favor over his life and it was evident that the Lord was with him as all he touched prospered. Favor is going to be poured over the pioneers in 2016 in greater ways, especially as they have sown, stewarded, and forged forward when no one was looking, no one was cheering, no fruit was manifesting, but they continued obedience to Him and to the vision the Lord had given them; they will be rewarded, many openly and publicly in 2016, and put in charge to oversee much more. Much more will be added to them and placed into their hands as they have stewarded well and served the Lord faithfully.

Pioneers, don’t give up! The year 2016 will see everything fall into place and an extension of time and space for increase, divine suddenlies, and turnarounds. The Lord is going to do things in a 24-hour period in and through the lives of the pioneers in 2016, which is not humanly possible, that will restore, refresh and fill the pioneers with renewed hope, expectation, and new levels of faith, and they will bring the Body of Christ to a whole new level of faith and hopeful, joyful, confident expectation in the timing, ways, vision, goodness, and provision of the Lord.

2016: Abundance, Overflow, and Fruitfulness

‘Agree with the decree.’ You must hear what Heaven is saying and echo and speak and decree that here. You have to be moved by what you hear. Regardless of circumstances and situations, you have to agree with that decree. Your season may be contrary to the rest of what is going on around you. The Lord said the season you are going to be in is three big words: abundance, overflow, and fruitfulness. The fruitfulness only comes after cutting back the vine. God cuts back and prunes the branches, and only then can much fruit come forth. It is one thing to bear fruit, but the Lord is glorified in much fruit. We are moving from fruit to much fruit. I see the end of pruning and cutting away, so that much fruit can come forth.

Redeeming Time

C.S. Lewis said about redeeming the time, ‘We can actually buy back times in our past when we have felt abandoned, abused, betrayed, and fearful. We as Believers cannot only be forgiven of our past but we can travel back in time with God and see God as an ever present help in that situation in the future.’

A Year of Favor

Favor is hard to define but not very difficult to describe. Favor is an invitation into God’s shalom—his peace, wholeness, fullness, kindness, abundance, and well-being. It’s an assurance that he is with us and looks kindly on us—that his people live under his smile. It means he is uniquely disposed to pour out his grace on all who will receive it, that he is the wind in our sails, that his promises are “yes and amen,” that the God of glory is on our side, and that none of our obstacles or opposition are any match for him. Favor assures us that it’s not irresponsible to put the weight of our hardships on him and refuse to feel the burden of them ourselves. It means even our problems will work out for our advancement. It tells us it’s okay to laugh today. As much as we want. It also means I’m his favorite. You are too.

A Season of Light

The Lord says that, ‘The enemy has been bringing a spiritual fog into your spiritual atmosphere. This has caused you to be unable to see clearly. It has created doubt around the things that you are making decisions for. It has caused you to be unclear about that which you are to pray and that which you are to do.” But, the Lord says, ‘Watch now, for I bring My wind, and I will remove the fog, which has encased you. I will remove from you the obstruction that has kept you from seeing clearly. You are now entering into the season of light, and the glory of this season shall come with great clarity, great purpose of mind and the greatness of strength of the anointing of My Spirit. Expect Me to clear the atmosphere that has hindered you so that you may see clearly all things,’ says the Almighty. God is now bringing His wind to remove the fog, which has kept you from seeing clearly. This will continue into the spring of the year and then He will bring His spiritual rain to wash away the dust (defilement) left by satan’s attacks.

I (M) believe that the secret place is key to all of these words – that lives must be from intimacy with Christ. It is there you will hear for your own life. I love this line ‘Don’t go to your assignments without God’s blessing. Passion isn’t permission – presence is.’

 I pray Psalm 27 over your life…that you will know the Lord as your strength and salvation. That you will know a year of freedom from fear and as you seek Him – the ONE – you will know who you are created to be. I pray God’s purposes will be clear. That when those days of trouble come you will know Him as your safe place. I pray as you wait you will be strong. That you will know and remain confident of this – you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Amen!

and finally…

We are called to be the uncontainable aroma of Christ.

Love, Michelle xo

(Words collated from the Canadian Prophetic Council, Stacey Campbell, Lana Vawser, Bill and Marsha Burns, Phyllis Ford, Kathy Pelton and can be read in their entirety on Elijah List and Lana Vawser’s website Oh and me – MC 😉 )

The Blues?

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We’re told it’s the most depressing day of the year otherwise known as Blue Monday…

The darkest day. Gloomy grey.

Malaise motivation. Happy hibernation.

Christmas is over. The goals are waning.

You’re tired. Your credit card bills are in.

Days are short. Nights are long.

Melatonin confused.

For many this is winter blues, let us use the word blues rather than the word depression. “True clinical depression (as opposed to a post-Christmas slump) is a far more complex condition that is affected by many factors, chronic and temporary, internal and external,” wrote Dean Burnett, Psychiatry Lecturer in an editorial for the Guardian.

Here is the British mental-health facility’s tongue-in-cheek formula: (W+D-d)xTQ÷MNa W = weather conditions. D = debt. d = ability to pay off debt. T = time passed since Christmas. Q = time passed since breaking New Year’s resolution. M = motivation levels Na = need to take action.

Action! 

For us it’s living simply, keeping out the Christmas board games, finding colour in your day, embracing the season – skating, skiing, sledding, being creative,  giving to others and of course – exercise…

With all that said, here’s a few funnies (you’ve read before I know) to brighten up your day!

Church bulletin mistakes…

*Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help.

*Thursday night – Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

*Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say “hell” to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

*For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

*The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

*This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

*Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

*Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing “Put me in my little bed accompanied by the pastor.”

*Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be “Little Mothers” will meet with the Pastor in his study.

*This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

*The service will close with “Little Drops of Water.” One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

*Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.

*The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

*At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

*Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

*The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

*Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.

*The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”

*The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7p.m. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

*Weight Watchers will meet at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

*Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.

*Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who are preparing for the girth of their first child.

*The Lutheran Men’s group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.

*The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

*Our next song is “Angels We Have Heard Get High.”

*Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

*The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

*The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

*During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

*Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.

*The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

*22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

*Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

*Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

*Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.

*Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

*Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack’s sermons.

*Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

*Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

*The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.

*Youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 pm in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

*Miss Charlene Mason sang “I Will Not Pass This Way Again,” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

*The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

*This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Happy Monday friends.

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ 

   ‘….Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!’ 

Love Michelle xo

 

Home sweet Home

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

Word prompt: Home.

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

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

I glimpsed it even today.

Monday does that, being Sabbath all.

It was the silence.

The water, rushing, dancing over stones,

The dreaming.

I glimpse it

In authenticity at the table,

In the building and being,

In spontaneity and celebration

It’s in my people and those people,

It’s hearing

It’s seeing

With the sense of heaven.

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

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

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

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

*Home is family.

*My happy place.

What a gift!

And then, one day…

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

Happy Day,

Love, Michelle

 

Compelled by Love.

IMG_4253How’s your January going? I have read a lot over the past two weeks of the destiny over 2014. ‘Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none.’ I am already seeing these waters and I’m jumping in…you?

My mind whirls and I want to write – but I don’t know where to start, so I start right here. Write here. Phew. They say just keep writing. Right? Write.

My poetry module is progressing, although I find it challenging, when is the piece complete? I sent an assignment to my tutor this week – so I’m sure he will let me know!

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This week was the ‘Kelowna Week of Prayer’ it kicked off at Church@33 – what a great evening of churches praying in unity.

We look forward to Searchlight theatre in Kelowna this month too. Don’t miss the world premiere of this WWII adaptation of the bestselling classic novel “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. Reserve tickets here. It’s always a treat to welcome these guys to Kelowna. Don’t forget my chocolate DR!

Today’s musings are from these words from the ‘Signature of Jesus’ by Brennan Manning.

Laugh with me! Death is dead! Fear is no more! There is only life! There is only laughter! If the darkest night is upon you as you read these words, know that the risen Jesus is wild about you even if you can’t feel it. Listen beneath your pain for the voice of Abba God.

‘Make ready for the Christ, Whose smile, like lightning, Sets free the song of everlasting glory that now sleeps in your paper flesh, like dynamite.’ Thomas Merton.

There is a wonderful Saviour wild about you, with a smile like lightening. Powerful, drawing you, reassuring, loving YOU. Reaching deeper than your darkest.

Yes! I hear some say. I am in that place…Then I know for others it’s as if you are living in a constant stress dream, where you are shouting and screaming but the words just.won’t.come.out.

Be encouraged today with this.

‘The moment we get tired in the 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. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.’ Romans 8:26 The Message.

The relief I have found in this verse. When my deepest soul cannot find words as I think of loved ones and situations around me. Heaven goes deeper than our darkest…

CompelledCoverLogo2Back to smiles like lightening. I watched ‘Compelled by Love’ last week, this feature-length biography traces the journey of Heidi and Rolland Baker, Heidi is often described as a modern day Mother Theresa. Their pursuit of the presence of God has transformed a poverty-stricken and war torn 
Mozambique through love in action. Shot on the run over a period of 20 years, in 10 countries and on 4 continents in war zones, brothels, and Ivy League campuses, from Hollywood to Mozambique. The film chronicles the power of one life fully yielded to God and the truth that love wins: One life surrendered, one nation transformed…

The truth of one in love with Jesus, who said yes and who encourages us to step into our yes.

The pain of living through harrowing Mozambique, one of the poorest nations is clear. Heidi shares how she lets her Mozambican children inside her house to replace their “orphan spirit” with a “spirit of adoption”. Allowing them to eat her food, to celebrate being family. Unconditional love evident.

I loved this movie; a reminder of what Jesus can do in your life when you say yes. Yes to the gospel. To His love. Yes to being Him right where you are. I loved to watch Heidi – she emanates love. One of my favourite lines was this – ‘Fruitfulness flows from intimacy’ and one word I know I’m chasing in 2014 is intimacy. Jesus is calling us to intimacy. His presence.

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Our response when we see this love, is to be compelled to say ‘send me Lord’ and to know that sometimes ‘send me Lord’ starts right where you are.

Are you compelled by His love?

Love, Michelle xo

Advent*urous thoughts.

Hi all. I’ve missed you! We have just completed another wonderful Living Nativity at our church. When thousands enter into what is the ‘Kelowna tradition’ and experience the nativity, Bethlehem village, live mannequins and yumlish treats.

1476243_697943840230508_696441835_nAngelic Beauty – ChadPerryPhotography

1454684_697952596896299_279524062_nMy Bella the mannequin – ChadPerryPhotography

1426136_697944203563805_1200221222_nWise Guys – ChadPerryPhotography

This year we introduced a prayer tree… to witness our local community lining up to pin their prayers on the tree was beautiful. We pray life and hope and a resounding Amen over those prayers and the courage it took to write them.

 ‘The thrill of hope.’

I’m trying to be clever and think of something different to write about, a different advent angle.

Because everything I read says the same thing.

Over and over.

The same message.

It tells me to stop, to breathe, to wait to wonder, to look, to yearn, to anticipate.

That there is hope, there is light.

And the more I read the more I realize of course the message is loud.

It’s the clearest it has ever been.

It is the most wonderful time of the year!

So I will join the advent people because there is no place I’d rather be.

The candle lighters, the life declarers, the hope bringers.

Because I believe that God sent his only son as a babe and He made his home on earth and it all fell into place.

All of this – advent is about a bigger picture. This time. This waiting.

It’s about our eyes being opened spiritually, our ears hearing a new sound. To Emmanuel – God with us.

 ‘O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.’

How many of us are weary in the waiting, the wondering and worrying?

Let us use this time of advent to focus on our messes and say Emmanuel – I cannot do this, inviting Him into the places where decay has spread beyond the box in our hearts where we have hidden the mess.

Advent is not the ‘same old same old’.  Advent is a time of change.

Let us  spend advent looking at the areas in our lives to be redeemed, recognizing what is holding us in its power.

Take a moment to pray…

‘Emmanuel. God with us. With me. What do you want to say to me?’

IMG_3795.JPGJosiah the firestarter.

It could be tiny spark of wonder, the newest of realizations, or the wonder of transformation. He wants to answer you.

So that when Dec 25th arrives  – you can say ‘I am changed.’

‘The weary world rejoices.’

This weekend I experienced my boy disappearing in Walmart for the longest 15 minutes OF.MY.LIFE. I have never seen so many potential kidnappers during that time. ‘Code Adam’ bought Josiah back holding a couple of DVDs which he’d like to add to his list. With a familiar hand waving gesture of my father, Josiah decided he’d looked long and hard for me, and that it was me who was lost. He wants Smurfs 2 don’t cha know?

Also, I saw: more sickness, my poetry module arrive, cabin fever, the making of lip scrub, living nativity mannequin prep, the booking of flights, the not wrapping up warm enough. Homesickness. The traffic, the busy, the lost teenager arriving because she had nowhere to go, the homeless saying thank you, Josiah asking why, the presents list added to (again). The ski hill experienced, overdue homework complete, another dinner prepared. The smoothing of my edgy soul as I chatted to a faraway friend.

I saw…and felt -20 therefore I saw a fire roaring, and, and, and….

We all have similar stories of busy, and I know for some it’s more than busy – it’s dark, it’s painful,  it’s a desert, and you feel trapped, defeated.

But let us try and find our moment to breathe the words.

O come, O come Emmanuel.’

……..

‘But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of yourself somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.’ Frederick Buechner.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever. John 3:16

Are you ready for your redemptive advent*ure?

Love, Michelle xo

Trees.

Day 29.

IMG_3712‘Serene’ Ponthus Beach, Broceliande Forest, France. Photography by Christophe Kiciak.

It’s -2 and Bella is busy throwing wood on the fire for the evening,  I remember a conversation I had with Andy Donaldson a few weeks ago and then I think of my big bro, who creates from wood – making jewelry, furniture, drums. His eye catches the grain to release the art, although he does feel that wood holds much more beauty when it’s alive than when it’s dead.

These three bring todays prompt. Trees.

In the beginning I wrote about roots, but let’s backtrack to a different beginning. In Genesis God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.” And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
all varieties,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—Day Three. Gen 1:11-13

In this beginning, when trees were spoken into being, Jesus was there. Taking part in the art, delighting in detailed design. A vision of the tiniest of tiny becoming towering trees. The spoken order of seasons, of planting, of growth, of prunings, of dead wood, of life, of fruit. I’m sure He knew we would desire to hold onto the vibrancy against dark skies a while longer as the leaves blow towards a harsh winter, the whiteness of dormancy. Of waiting.

The trees of creation become the trees of expecting.

I see Mary and Joseph sitting under a tree, vine-like emotions winding their way around new life. A quick breeze blows through the branches as questions fill their conversation. Leaves fall as fears are voiced to each other then… sunlight breaks through the branches, a gentle reminder of their angelic visitation.

The tree of expecting becomes the tree of the carpenter.

The babe is born, Jesus, cradled in a wooden trough from trees he had spoken into being. Boy Jesus sits and watches Joseph, learning from the carpenter. He watches him carve, saw, file, create. He learns to strip back, smooth the rough. He knows wood, its texture, and its smell.

He sits high in the tree pondering his earthly Father and his craft, pondering his heavenly Father and his creation. His craft. He looks at his own hands, rough with scars from his own woodwork.

The tree of the carpenter becomes the tree of teaching.

Leaning against the tree on the mountains, surrounded by roses of Sharon, he speaks to his friends, teaching and guiding. They have heard him speak to fig trees and about mulberry trees. He has described the mustard seed, his favorite, the weak to the strong, the lost and the found, the last shall be first.

The tree of teaching becomes the tree of purpose.

The garden of Gethsemane offers an uncomfortable pillow for weary heads; Jesus knows agony among the olive trees, dark and shivering, he’s alone with his Father. The wait is over as a different light shines though the trees.

Exhausted, beaten, tormented…Jesus carries the tree to Golgotha. The dead weight of creation on his back, enduring the wood. The tree. Our tree. Our splinters, cuts and pain, the rings of our life running through. Mary watches, she has followed his journey, from a distance, understanding the will of the Father.

There’s a reason dead wood was used for the cross. Dead wood is thrown into the fire.

The tree of purpose becomes the tree of salvation.

It’s Day Three. New Creation. A fruitful life. Your gift.

Happy weekend y’all, enjoy the trees.

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

A Wordy Reminder.

Day 27.

The Collins home has various degrees of the bleurghs. Colds and sickness and general meh.

But! I was pleased to hear this morning that I had passed the latest module on my degree. I held off on signing up to the next as I wasn’t sure whether the play that I had written about the life of John Harper, preacher on board the Titanic, would be accepted. Apparently it was just fine!  Which means I have now signed up my next module – poetry.

This got me thinking about the time before we moved to Kelowna. The time of  words, songs, poems and the whispers of God through people to reassure us as we moved on.

Those words combined formed this image of words which has held us on the days when we wonder.

Wander? No way. These are the days when the words speak louder than ever.

WordItOut-word-cloud-309207

Now, enjoy this poem. Written by a friend of ours, Andy, our town centre poet, a wandering bard, a family friend who would sit at my parents table and talk about life and its complexities.

 Au Revoir, You Collins’s (With Apologies To Bob Dylan)

 It’s not a simple twist of fate,

Or an idiot wind that carries you to Canada.

I’d say its receptivity, desire,

Faith and humble stamina.

You’re blowing in the wind,

You don’t know where it comes from, where it’s going.

If it becomes a hurricane, the Spirit’s in the blowing.

Blood of the Lamb on the tracks

Of a partially trodden path,

Like the rolling away of a stone.

Far from us, you’ll bear His fruit,

Far from being complete unknowns.

Remembering us, you may get briefly tangled up in blue:

Subterranean, homesick –

If so, the Son will see you through.

You’ll have a shelter from the storm,

Knock- knock- knocking on heaven’s door,

Held by enduring friendship,

Within God’s abundant store.

Blond on blond on blond on blond on blond on blond,

On highways that you visit and revisit;

Don’t think twice, babes, it’s alright,

Yours are prayers and pleasures, stuff of life,

The joy of the Holy Spirit.

God is making planet waves.

Don’t feel lonesome when you go.

Under the maple leaf, Jesus saves,

The train is coming – why should it be slow?

Constant, He is rearranging:

For the times they are a-changing.

© Andy Mullis 10/06/2010

Why not remind yourself today of the words around your life.

How many Bob Dylan songs can you spot in the poem? Answer in comments…that is if you can find a way through WordPress hoops. Goodness.

See you tomorrow,

Michelle xo

Hope on a Rope.

Day 26.

Today’s post is prompted by this picture Phil captured yesterday as he ran in Black Mountain.

IMG_2805

‘But those who wait on the Lord. 
Shall renew their strength;
 They shall mount up with wings like eagles, 
They shall run and not be weary,
 They shall walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40:31

To reach that point of soaring and strength we must WAIT upon the Lord.

Waiting – that time that so often feels like a rut…

Let’s try and think of it differently, in this verse waiting is an active word from the Hebrew word ‘qavah’ which literally means binding together. Imagine the process of making a rope by twisting and weaving, the more strands the stronger the rope. Strands working together, entwined. The same word “qavah” figuratively means ‘to hope, to expect, to look eagerly for, to lie in wait for’

It’s anticipation. It’s Christmas morning at the Collins home.

How else do we tie in this rope of waiting with strength? Think about the use of ropes. When the rope is put to use it draws strength from the strands and goes to work. The more strands we weave into our faith life the more strength He gives us. Our strands could be prayer, study, friendship, laughter, learning from others, solitude, celebrating, rest, serving. All bound together in a life in Him.

Waiting comes in weaving. Strength comes in waiting.

One of the strands I love is to learn from others. Gleaning wisdom and life from those who have ‘been there done that’. Wisdom is woven through scripture in lives and stories. Solomon prayed for it, we are encouraged to ‘get wisdom and get insight’ in addition if we lack wisdom, ask for it and it will given to us abundantly.

 

We have a wonderful group of seniors in our church and I asked them ‘what would be your pearls of wisdom to the next generation’?

Here are some of their answers.

**Laughter is medicine for the soul**

**Look at where the other person is coming from**

**Don’t just look forward. Enjoy each present moment. Age 70 comes all too quickly**

**Every day has it’s glorious moment…or maybe even two. These make each day worthwhile**

**Each person is dealt his own hand of cards (life) to work with. Better to work with it than always complain and wish and hope things would have been different**

**Accept that God is ultimately in charge, and he can be trusted totally**

**Totally love your family, and treasure your friends. They are the icing of life**

**Don’t live life according to emotions; Live life on purpose, God’s purpose••

**Be true to yourself. You were created unique and perfect. Choose early to love yourself as you are, regardless of outside influences**

**I think the test of the “pearls” are when your child says them back to you at an appropriate (inappropriate) moment!….but Mom, you always say,…

**Life is NOT fair. Take what life gives you and do the best you can with it**

**Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.  But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. Matthew 23:11**

**We are so busy charging all our devices to connect with what is important to us. Are we remembering to connect through His Word with the only one who can give us peace and purpose in life**

**Be Yourself….”If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself!” Luke 18:14**

**From the movie Notting Hill, as Hugh Grant wonders if he could re-establish a relationship with Julia Roberts and she is busy ‘on set’. The line “But if you could wait, there are things to say.” Is one I have used effectively many times.

**Common Sense, which means making sound and prudent judgment based on simple perceptions of the situation or facts**

**Common sense to accomplish something not written up in a book. Common sense to know what is right when others my say otherwise. Common sense in university where no absolutes are taught. Common sense to consider the immense implications of unwise decisions. Common sense to solve a problem that cannot be solved at the same level that created them…..I am sure common sense is Gods voice in our inner being giving direction and wisdom**

Time to thread these pearls on the rope don’t you think?

What are your words of wisdom for the next generation?

See you tomorrow,

Love Michelle xoxo

Diamonds yesterday, pearls today, what’s tomorrow… Purple Rain?