Day 21.


Angelic clay creations were in full flight in the Hope Centre this week. I decided to put my sculpting skills to good use and invited Ken to help me. Ken is a regular to the Hope Centre although he doesn’t usually engage in crafts. His first words to me were ‘I can’t do that’ but as people watched Ken work and encouraged him, he continued his scoring and shaping. As Ken saw that his creation was good, he continued and smiled. By the end of our craft time he was reshaping what I had done – apparently my angel was too muscular. We joked about who would take the angel home when it was fired, I’m sure Ken’s angel will take pride of place in his quiet home this Christmas.

Debra is our Wednesday day manager, a teacher and a potter, she has worked with many of our visitors since we opened 2 years ago.

I asked her:

Why do you offer arts and crafts at the Hope Centre?

Picasso said “Art washes away the dust from everyday life”- I would agree with this.  However, I believe there are intimations of the divine whilst engaging in creative activities.  A significance that points towards the giver of life and breath, the One who breathes inspiration into our hearts and minds – our Heavenly Father.



What does your art session look like?

We gather around a white wooden table with our coffee and muffins while children dance excitedly around our feet. Amidst the chaos, it is here that the divine unfolds: planning, discussing and implementing the art & craft project; healing and a form of catharsis takes place.  Participants (and HC volunteers) feel their defensive walls collapsing and a sense of peace and safety replaces the cold fallen bricks of the wall. Much is discussed: we share our hopes and dreams; challenges and sorrows; or perhaps, whether or not the color blue should be used instead of green for the foliage in the painting!

Over coffee, paintbrushes, and glue, we laugh, empathize and sometimes cry.  The safe HC environment allows for repressed thoughts and feelings to surface; where they can be given a voice and then simply be received by listening hears with tender hearts. Feeling the emotion, processing it, they can sometimes move on.

Arts and Crafts are a vehicle for expression and communication of our innermost thoughts and feelings.  Feelings that perhaps words cannot express can be sometimes reflected in a piece of art. Artistic endeavors allow for our individual human narrative to be told and shared with the world. Our art piece, whether it is a grand acrylic painting or macaroni glued on the back of a cardboard cereal box says:  I was here and that it matters.



Can you share any stories of hope from your sessions?

A new/drop-in participant was having a particularly hard day. She decided to participate in the day’s art activity:  creating an African collage/painting.  Tears began to well in her eyes and she told me that I couldn’t know it, but being there that day being able to feel joy and have the ability to express herself in a visual way, “saved her life that day-literally”

Another group lady who has a large brood of children and struggles to make ends, meet told me that she looks forward all week to spending her Wednesdays at the HC where she feels love and friendship.  She said it confirms to her “she is not alone in this”. The support she receives from both the HC volunteers and the other visitors builds her up and helps her cope with difficult life issues she faces when she returns home.

One of ladies needed help with getting donated clothing to the church.  I went to her house and after loading bags in my car; she gave me a tour of her modest home.  Scattered throughout her entire home, were her arts & crafts treasures that she and her daughter made at the HC.  She proudly displayed the items on glass shelves; a fireplace mantle and her paintings were hung on the walls.  Her proudly displayed creations revealed something of the goodness in her soul.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Art connects us to the divine; to our Heavenly Father who delights in our creations.  By creating, we honor God, the Great Creator! It is here that I find fulfillment and joy while sharing my skills and blessings.


Thanks Debra, we appreciate all you do.

Back to Ken, who sits with us, eats with us and often falls asleep in the Hope Centre.  I see more than a man who is having a go at crafts as he put it ‘like a girl’. I see this verse all around him… and for everyone who walks through the doors.

‘Still, Eternal One, You are our Father.
We are just clay, and You are the potter.
We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth.’ Isaiah 64:8

I asked a few visitors why they came…

*Because I like to meet new friends, get free clothes, go on the internet and play piano sometimes.

*I come because its cozy and for the good people.

*It’s a safe place and I wouldn’t ever go out otherwise.

*Because the resource centre sent me.

*Because I’m cold.

Then one man sang me a song:

 Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

 Where everybody knows your name,

and they’re always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

You can see why this is my favorite place – I hope this inspires you!

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

**Hope Centre is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10-2 at Willow Park Church.

We serve a free, healthy hot lunch daily at 11.30 at ‘the table’. All welcome!

We also offer baby supplies to families in need – diapers, formula and wipes.

Hope to meet you there!**

All of the above art completed by Hope Centre visitors.


Stop for the One.

cold.Hi! It’s Day 3.

The excitement of Canadian Thanksgiving filled the Collins home a few weeks ago. The aroma of roast dinner floating though the house and the sense of all things are good. I blogged this truth and loved the concept of thanks living.

My children were most upset that I hadn’t purchased Pumpkin Pie for dessert.

‘But Mom, it’s thanksgiving…’ they cried in their twangy English accents.

I drove down to Coopers and the favor of God fell as I purchased the last pie in the store. I put on my best Canadian accent in case there was a battle of the pies.

As Bella and I left the store I saw a friend from the Hope Centre. He was sitting on the cold concrete, his cap empty. We chatted for a while, he’d had a good day. As I left I said ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ he responded with ‘Will you be down at the church this week’. ‘Yes’ I responded. ‘See you there!’


I drove home quiet.

We ate our thanksgiving feast, the taste of conviction strong.

I chatted with Phil who challenged me. Is this conviction or condemnation?

‘Conviction leads you to Christ, condemnation leads to guilt’.

Shortly after dinner I jumped into my car and went to find my friend. To change my response, take him a thanksgiving dinner, bring him to the house, buy him some groceries. ANYTHING!!

I drove around looking, searching, ‘Lord, just show me where he is’….

I would love for this to have the obvious happy ending, that I fed him roast dinner and my family made him feel loved and warm.

But I couldn’t find him.


As I drove around the streets of Rutland the conviction of God burned through to my soul.

Tears, gosh the tears.

As I said, the conviction leads you to Christ – to his heartbeat.

Why do I write this? Because although there’s not the obvious ‘happy ending’ the truth of God’s heart burned in me that day like never before for those who are hurting, hungry, empty.

As you know, I spend a lot of time in our Hope Centre, where these guys hang out – I feed them weekly, clothe them, and sit with them. As I wrote yesterday, they are like family.

But – it’s also about those moments. The one.

‘Simply take a moment and love the one in front of us. The pressures and busyness of daily life creates a self-focus that hinders us from stopping for the one. However, the love of God is made manifest through simple acts of kindness.  When you love God first and then love the one person He puts in front of you each day, the Gospel becomes simple’. Heidi Baker.

Next year Thanksgiving will look very different – you’re all invited!


Christ has no body on earth but yours;

no hands but yours;
no feet but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out

Christ’s compassion to the world.

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

 Let me know who God places in your way today – keep your eyes open for the one.

See you tomorrow!

Love Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Intimate with Strangers.

Yesterday I started the journey of 31 days of writing.

I began by uprooting. Now, let us plant, grow, let roots go deep as we sit and meditate, let’s swing on new branches, both strong and flimsy, let’s eat juicy fruit and learn from other trees as the month progresses…

Day Two.

Check out this link.

‘There are no strangers here, just friends you haven’t met yet’

We are created to be relational.

“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. … It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 1:26, Genesis 2:18). The phrase, “Let us make man in our image” reveals an “us-ness” in the very nature of God. The very essence of God is relational, and that essential quality has been imprinted on humans. This capacity for a relationship with God extends to humans, which is why the Genesis story declares that God created Eve for Adam because “it is not good for man to be alone.” Relevant Mag.

This is why I love working in our Hope Centre.

Where us strangers gather, eat, connect.

Become friends. Become family.

IMG_2593Hope Centre Bonding.

But as I write I realize that the Hope Centre is an easy example to use. I’m challenged to bring it home,  relationships I am face to face with daily. My family.

A family of six goes many directions hourly. You can imagine. At the end of the day when we’re all tired, our heads turn downward and we stare at our orchard of apple products.

I’m not going to have a go at social media here – because I love it! But I overdo it which often means my kids do too – something has to give.


Let us begin with our immediate family. Let us not be strangers in our own home.

My family lived around the table. That’s where connection happened. Touch, laughter, tears, eye contact. Friendship.

The table. A perfect place to start…

See you tomorrow!

Love, Michelle xo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Saturday Soup: Two

IMG_2832 My favourite artist. Kelowna.

Family: I took this sunset pic on the way to see ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ with the little people. Not exactly on the way but kids are used to my sunset snapping detours.

Reading: This letter to Miley from Sinead resulting in bloggers, news and all things media passing their opinions. Miley responds by retweeting Sinead’s posts from 3 years ago on Sinead’s struggle mentally, and compared her to Amanda Bynes who is currently in a psychiatric hospital. Sinead is now on her 3rd letter. Stating she will support Miley when she is having a breakdown. The well meaning start, ends with lawyers.

And Miley and Sinead are in the spotlight.

I have 3 girls who have grown up with Hannah Montana and have no doubt watched Robert Thicke thrusting and Miley’s twerking.

Because of letters I have written,  my children can make informed choices.

Because of the letter, present in my home, they know of a value system that is different.

So, how about – in addition to writing to celebs, let’s write letters to our own kids on how to cope with this stuff.

Better still – talk to them. Uncomfortable words. Face to face. 

From Miley to Henri Nouwen. It is my soup after all…

Thinking: ‘The human, ordinary yet divine gesture of breaking bread. A gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. God becomes most present when we are most human.’ I have focused on the following thoughts of Nouwen a lot this week. Especially as I eat toast with my friends in the Hope Centre.

A most ordinary act in which I believe that God is most present.

Quote: ‘Wow, Michelle, did you make these oustanding cookies’ ‘Yes, a secret recipe. I have only shared it with Costco’.  Made me smile…

Thankful: The reason we are planted in this beautiful country is Willow Park Church, Kelowna.

I know, I know – you think it is for the lakes, ski hills, mountains, the beaches and all round beauty.

But seriously.

A church where:

The voices of hundreds of young adults worshipping at Pursuit can be heard merging with the voices of the Friday morning hymn sing in the Hope Centre.

The stories of our Encounter God retreat merge with Phil’s storytelling at the Seniors Hoedown.

The joyful screams of children at Jam & Thrive merge with the whoops of women at Take a Break.

The cars through hoops of fire merge with the battered bikes outside the Hope Centre.

The quiet prayers of the faithful 7am prayer group merge with the cry of city pastors agreeing in prayer.

Rich and diverse – a church that can’t be defined. 

A church whose sounds touch heaven. 

Verse: That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. Ephesians 2:19

Us. Community.

And finally, if nothing else. Sing-along to this!

Enjoy your weekend, find your place,

Michelle xo

PS: New website launch today at Willow Park Church. Click it out here!


Our week in Kelowna. The Collins Clan drove down to Omak, Washington and drove back over the Canadian border within 24 hours. With one purpose – to renew our visa.

A couple of hours, lots of questions and obstacles overcome.

We were granted 3 more years. Our adventure continues!

A friend of our Hope Centre is having twins and before she heads off to Vancouver to deliver her babes – we threw her a baby shower. Love to bless!



We held a day of service on Thursday with Heritage Christian School Grade 8’s who served the church with great hearts and attitude. It wasn’t all hard work though, when our youth and children’s department get involved so do water guns, cotton candy machines and slurpees. Thank you again Heritage.

We hit the skate park with Josiah and Bella. Heart in mouth – need knee pads.



The fair came to town. Oh yes it’s ‘Maydays’ which brings excitement to our home. As the twins were doing there own fair thing. We took the little people and to Josiah’s delight he was allowed on the ‘scary’ rides which he took on without fear.


Bella and Josiah on the ‘stomach left somewhere in the sky ride.’

With my Friday Faves done, you don’t mind if I squeeze in a five minute Friday do you? Ah good.

The word for this week is ‘Song’. There are so many paths I’d like to travel down with this word. But I have 5 minutes and I’m heading down a muddy path to find a song.


They call it a dawn chorus. It’s more like a rock opera outside my window every morning, and it begins at 4am. Our lives are surrounded by songs. This week I reminisced as I listened to songs from my teens. Then I cried as I listened to one particular song as I thought of my Dad’s funeral service, then remembered it was actually from Mom’s wedding. Tears soon turned to laughter.  I’m sure there’s a song attached to every month of my life. I love music.


I meet you with no song. Friends who’ve lost their song.

Who cry out as David did in Psalm 40. I waited…I’m waiting patiently, expectantly for the Lord.

How long Lord?

You cry out in your waiting and veiled silence.

How long?

Patience, while positive, isn’t pretty.

Singing from pits echoes your own voice as you strive to hear another.

Steve Bell wrote this piece last weekend. An image of freedom, and the often painful road we need to take to reach it.

‘Today I freed a songbird who was trapped in our garage

And flapped against the pane that rendered freedom a mirage

I had to further terrorise the frantic feathered beast

Who could not know that capture was the terms of her release.’

Psalm 40 continues…

‘At last he looked; finally he listened.

He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud.

He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.

He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God.

More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.’

Whether you are in the pits, or on the rock – here’s a truth to absorb.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

The Hebrew word used here to describe how Father sings is ‘rinnah’. It means to express a ringing cry, a loud shout, a proclamation of extreme joy and an expression of gladness.


Praying you a hear His song over you this weekend,

Love, Michelle xoxo


Five Minute Friday

On Dr. Martens and Friendship.

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*.
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.


(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