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

Hope on a Rope.

Day 26.

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

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‘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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamonds.

Day 25.

Rose of Sharon

It was a year ago today that my Nanny Rose passed away; it’s at times like this I’d love to be with my family, remembering our Rosie and keeping her memory alive.

So last week when I asked my Mom to consider writing some thoughts for my blog, I wasn’t really thinking about the timing of it, and it falls on today and that’s good, you know? Many of you know my Mom, for those who don’t, you can meet her here. Anyone who has met her in person remembers her, that’s for sure…

I asked Mom to share a few thoughts on finding God in difficult times.

‘…So when Shell asked me to write something I thought, ‘not this week’. Then I thought ‘why not this week’? Why not share with others how God is in the midst of our dark places. And how he shows us those diamonds in the dust. How those rainbows appear just at the right time. And how we can cartwheel with joy.

I call them diamonds – that comfort, peace and love which God brings in the midst of the most painful of times. I have seen them repeatedly for many years and will share a few with you.

Starting with the most poignant.

I knew that I needed to go to the chapel of rest to see Mom, but I was struggling. I didn’t want to but I needed to. The phone rang and it was my sister. ‘Have you seen the rainbow Sue?’

I looked out to a glorious rainbow to what seemed to reach from my house to hers.

I went to see Mom shortly afterwards, which took away the pain of the image in my mind of her last moments. On our way home, we saw another rainbow, right over the place where Mom had collapsed. It was as though God was saying ‘It’s OK, she’s with me’.

Diamond.

Way back in 1990 I had this word from God. ‘As you stand firm on my rock, the storms will swirl around you and come against you but I AM YOUR ROCK do not move from me. When you walk forward lean into the storm, lean into the wind, do not be forced back, do not bow down to the pressures that come against you for the victory is mine.’

Strong words, words that were to stand me in good stead in the years that followed.

The storms did come, many of them, but after each and every storm came the rainbow, I love rainbows and I am reminded of God’s promise to me every time.  Of course, it’s not a physical rainbow every time; God speaks to us in different ways. Above all,  he has equipped us with His word and in it we can discover the soundest advice for every situation we face.

Underlined in my bible are many promises – for my family, for each of my children, my grandchildren…for my life.

I stand on those promises. Speak them out. Shout them out. Cry them out.

I speak Gods word into dark situations and I see His answer come. In His time.

God comes into our dark times in so many ways to let us know He is walking beside us.

IMG_5074

On New Years Eve 2006, I went to church feeling tired and sad because my Uncle had passed away the night before in hospital. He’d wanted to go, he’d had enough of this life and had prayed many times for God to take him.

We got to the hospital, he’d just gone and there was his bible, open at his favorite scripture. ‘In my Fathers house are many mansions.’ What a blessing to me that was.

Diamond.

Back to New Years Eve morning. It was testimony time so I got up and gave testimony to the wonderful things God had been doing in my family. As I went and sat down I experienced a massive pain in my head. I managed to find the church foyer where I lay on the floor unable to move, I remember friends praying for me at that moment. Days later in the Queen Elizabeth hospital my consultant came to me and said I need to be rejoicing as 50% of people die on the way to hospital after a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage that I had experienced.

Diamond.

Even this last week we had some news that caused us much joy yet attached to it so much pain. In that pain I am praying ‘God, show yourself in this’. As we walked out of our house. I looked up at our Rose of Sharon bush…and there were unexpected fresh blooms. The Rose of Sharon represents Jesus.

Diamond.

These are just a few of many examples of how God speaks to me. Always, someway, somehow. God’s diamonds appear but we have to look for them, to listen for Him in those dark places.’

Thanks Mom – Encouraging words today, and knowing you you’ll keep adding to them as the day goes by!

I would add, that we have faced the worst of situations as a family and in them we have seen the best of God. Be encouraged to look for Him in the places you find yourselves today, He so loves to speak to us.

Verses to encourage you:

O Lord, in you I have found a safe place. Let me never be ashamed. Set me free, because You do what is right and good. Turn Your ear to me, and be quick to save me. Be my rock of strength, a strong place to keep me safe. For You are my rock and my safe place. For the honor of Your name, lead me and show me the way.’ Psalm 31:1-3

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.’ Psalm 18:6

Moses spoke to the people: ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today.’ Exodus 14:13

Finally, be blessed by this song… Your word unfailing. Your promise unshaken. All my hope is in You

What diamonds have you seen this week?

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

NaBloPoMo November 2013

A Cosmic Trio.

Day 23.

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C.S.-Lewis

4th-Doctor-Who-Tom-Baker--008

Guest Post: P.J Collins.

What a week it is, half a century for these unlikely travelers.

Let me start with a confession; I love Doctor Who. Yes, I am that stereotypical six year old hiding behind the sofa, terrified of bog eyed alien monsters.  A 60’s child, so Tom Baker the fourth doctor will always be my Doc.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy and C. S. Lewis, Kennedy and Lewis who passed into a faraway country.

And 50 years of Dr. Who, the longest running Sci fi series to visit our TV screens, with 10 million Britons watching the second show, Kennedy was dead and the Daleks had landed – Lewis’s death was overshadowed that week.

This cosmic trio have influenced my life.

Kennedy, the most distant of my influences gave us the moon –  his speech, his belief and passion that captured a generation’s imagination. We can go beyond. The impossible can be possible, what is unreachable can be reached. He lit the touchpaper and reignited the imagination, he declared ‘A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on’. I can still see those speckled images as man walked on the moon, ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ You see I’m an optimist, I believe in believing. Keep looking up and beyond.

It is Lewis’ understanding of mankind that gave us another giant leap, offering us theology and poetry mingled together in a very holy union. He taught me that atheism is deadly and dull, uninteresting, lacking imagination, unpoetic. It was the glimpse of joy that captured his heart, you know how it is when you read something and it speaks into those deep places, you gaze into a mountain range, glimpsing that joy. I see my walk with Christ like this, listening to his whispers, the prayer, the poetic imagination of our communion with God. We need to put the poetic and imagination right at the centre of our walk with Christ. I want to sit with Jesus as the paralysed man descends through the roof and dust fills the small room; I feel the shock as he heals the withered hand as I stand in the crowd and feel their hard hearts around me. You see I have always had the desire to push through the wardrobe and walk into Narnia. Too many Christians are still organising the coats in the wardrobe and miss the wonder of Aslan. Atheism is dull but Christianity without imagination is deadly.

Tears never fail me when the children in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe return to war-torn Britain from Narnia, there is a land beyond that reaches into our world at war.

From a wardrobe to a police box. What captures me about 50 years of Doctor Who is that he has been always present in our living rooms, on those rainy winter afternoons, after hours of playing football or as a teenager walking around the town centre. It is the constant epic, the themes of salvation, redemption; standing against merciless aliens that want to conquer mankind and enslave them, stealing the uniqueness, stealing life. It is the Doctors need for companionship and the many dimensions he travels through. The world may be overrun by aliens but one man always turns up.

Yes the biblical themes scream at us.

For many in faith we have forgotten that we are in an epic struggle for freedom, that He will return and so many have been captured by this alien force.We must not forget “thy kingdom come” we must not forget the heavens, the eternal reality of the cosmic struggle.

Thankful today for this cosmic trio.

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Glorious Ruins

Day 13.

burnt out carPic by Phil

I grab my writing moments as Bella has her swimming lesson, it’s the end of the day, the YMCA feels like a noisy public sauna and it’s midnight dark outside.

Today has forced me to focus on a ruin.

You know the type. Where dysfunction, bad choices and pain have created a desolate rubble heap. Where abandonment resembles charred ashes. This ruin has been desolate for too long.

I face this and wonder if there hope in this situation.

A glimmer?

Surely if I stand for anything it’s hope.

So I search for the answer in the One who left glory to be ruined.

I turn to ruins in scripture and find Ezra and Nehemiah. I see the Old Testament temple overthrown and burnt to the ground. I smell a land charred. Desolate. I see the foundations cracked. Gaping. I see the city walls ruined. Defenseless.

Ruins – we see them everywhere don’t we? Fragile humanity.

Ezra focuses on rebuilding the temple, Nehemiah on the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. What gems did I learn from these stories?

Survey the land before building. Vision gives life. Wisdom leads. Rebuilding needs people. It takes courage. Opposition will come. You will be discouraged. There’s always trouble. Strong foundations are built on praise. Plans are interrupted. There is accusation for those rebuilding. God steps in at the appropriate time. The prophetic voice is strong. The promises of God are yes. The temple was rebuilt. God is intimately involved in our lives. He does the impossible.

These verses:

Ezra. 7:28 Because the Lord my God was helping me, I had courage…

Ezra 10-11 When the workers laid the foundation of The Temple of God, the priests in their robes stood up with trumpets, and the Levites, sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise God in the tradition of David king of Israel. They sang antiphonally praise and thanksgiving to God: Yes! God is good!
Oh yes—he’ll never quit loving Israel! All the people boomed out hurrahs, praising God as the foundation of The Temple of God was laid.

Ezra 8:21. I proclaimed a fast that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions

Then there were these words…. to this song….

Glorious Ruins

by Hillsong.

 When the mountains fall

And the tempest roars You are with me

When creation folds

Still my soul will soar on Your mercy

 

I’ll walk through the fire

With my head lifted high

And my spirit revived in Your story

And I’ll look to the cross

As my failure is lost

In the light of Your glorious grace

 

Let the ruins come to life

In the beauty of Your Name

Rising up from the ashes

God forever You reign

 

And my soul will find refuge

In the shadow of Your wings

I will love You forever

And forever I’ll sing

 

When the world caves in

Still my hope will cling to Your promise

Where my courage ends

Let my heart find strength in Your presence

Thankful to Jesus – the ultimate Glorious Ruin.

Hope this post encourages you, it did me. You are loved.

See you tomorrow!

Love, Michelle xo

Remembrance Day.

Poppies on the Somme

Many of us hold memories of family members involved in war. Stories of loss, pain, stories in the eyes of loved ones that were never told, then for us in more recent years, a lovely friend.

My Great Grandad Bert died from wounds in Flanders, Great Grandad Charlie, I remember him as the gentlest soul, held medals of bravery from WW1. Great Uncle Cyril was in Italy – an unforgettable character as any of my friends who met him know! My Grandad Bill was posted in the Sahara on tank recovery.

IMG_3517Grandad Bill.

IMG_3519His recovery truck.

And in Upton on Severn my Great Uncle John Herman is remembered.

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The red-flowered corn poppy became the symbol of wartime remembrance for the First World War – being immortalised by John McCrae, the Canadian Surgeon and Soldier, in his famous poem of 1915  “In Flanders Fields”.

Nature reminding us each year to remember all who have suffered through war, those who have gone and their relatives, the injured and those around the world who continue to fight and suffer. The least we can do is wear the poppy and hold the silence, we never underestimate your pain and honor you.

James McConnell was an American pilot who had volunteered to fight in the war and was flying with the French Escadrille Lafayette. He recorded a vivid description of the destroyed landscape below him as he flew over the 1916 battlefield of Verdun. He describes the front line as a brown belt, a strip of murdered Nature “Immediately east and north of Verdun there lies a broad, brown band … Peaceful fields and farms and villages adorned that landscape a few months ago – when there was no Battle of Verdun. Now there is only that sinister brown belt, a strip of murdered Nature. it seems to belong to another world. Every sign of humanity has been swept away. The woods and roads have vanished like chalk wiped from a blackboard; of the villages nothing remains but gray smears where stone walls have tumbled together… On the brown band the indentations are so closely interlocked that they blend into a confused mass of troubled earth. Of the trenches only broken, half-obliterated links are visible.”

However, sometimes the sights and sounds of nature could be seen and heard through the fog of battle. Soldiers spoke of how birds, and most particularly the lark, could be heard twittering high in the sky even during the fury of an artillery bombardment. Quoted from James McConnell, Flying for France, New York, 1916. McConnell was killed in March 1917 when he was shot down.

Dusty recesses keep providing us with historical records bringing back the toils of those times; in 2009 one of the oldest surviving First World War poppies – plucked from the killing fields of Flanders in 1915 – has been found in the diary of a former soldier. Len Smith was 24 when he picked the delicate flower from the ground in no man’s land while serving with the 7th City of London Regiment in Belgium.  Mr Smith, a sniper and battlefield artist, pressed the poppy in his diary for safe keeping – perfectly preserved for over 90 years.

We preserve our memories holding our loved ones dear.

Remembering today… preserving our memories, praying for those who still find their hearts in that desolate place, the place of troubled earth.

I pray that in that desert you will hear a new song.

Love, Michelle x

Marnie’s Story.

Day 8.

My friend Marnie recently spoke at our women’s group, this is her story as I heard it. I’m glad she agreed to let me share it – her story needs a voice.Image

Withdrawal. 

‘…I had always felt the different one in my loving home – the loud, crazy, weird one. I was proud of my outspokenness and I liked to have fun. I was the big one, the insensitive one in social situations. At school I was the ‘not so pretty girl’ and the target for bullies. While I was proud of being different I didn’t realize a seed of rejection had been planted and the rejection I faced at school and church watered this until the roots began to choke out the person I was. They shaped me into a hard, strong, independent woman, who covered sadness with humor, surrounding myself with people and activities to keep my sadness and anxiety at bay. In all the surrounding I was lonely.

My earliest memories are of anxiety and worry. I felt like I had to make sure everyone in my family was safe, if I could control every situation it would be OK.

This behavior continued into my adulthood and just before I got married my body began to break down. The constant stress and anxiety started to take its toll and I developed allergies resulting in torturous itching.

I married my college sweetheart and promptly regretted it. Marriage wasn’t anything that I had thought it would be.  I had married an alien – how was I going to do this for the rest of my life?

My health issues continued, a herniated disc, years of debilitating pain, unable to walk most days and in and out of the hospital. The pain radiated down my leg causing permanent nerve damage. I suffered in silence. I withdrew from life, angry at God, wondering why he was doing this to me. This was not what I had planned. I was going to be a wife and mom who stayed at home and raised my babies. So far I had married an alien, had 2 miscarriages and was unable to carry a baby to term. As my friends around me were having babies I sunk into anger and despair.

Adoption.

I had always felt a calling to adopt and had shared this with Rob before we got married. One day we received a call from the ministry saying that they were looking to place a child into a family. This started us on the fast track through home studies and background checks. The child was placed elsewhere but during the process we met our son. We fell in love with 3 year old Geo, he came to live with us, it was clear he was in mourning for the loss of all that he had known. He had come from a completely dysfunctional situation where there were no boundaries or rules, for a child with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) this was a really unhealthy combination.

We believed the sooner he had boundaries, rules and structure he would be much better off, we focused more on bad behavior than on forging a strong loving relationship. We didn’t realize the damage that was being done and as we focused on curbing the bad behavior his frustration and anger grew.

When Geo was 11, it all came to a head. We had just had our birth daughter and we had also adopted two more children with FASD. Our house was out of control and I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Geo refused to assimilate with our family and was becoming increasingly more abusive and mean to us all. He began running away and destroying his room. Staying up throughout the night screaming and pounding the walls while kicking the ceiling above his bunk bed. We were all at our wits end and the anger that we felt towards him was toxic to all of us. We began looking for treatment programs for troubled youth but found Canada sadly lacking. My life long friend with 2 teenage boys offered to take Geo for 2 months so that we could regroup. During this time we got a key worker who worked with us to understand FASD and we started to implement strategies that would help us all succeed. I was not emotionally prepared for his return, suffering with PTSD from years of emotional abuse and his rejection of me as his mom. His behaviour continued.

Grace.

I had completely shut myself off from everyone and had nothing to give. I met an acquaintance one day who invited me to a bible study on love.

I laughed to myself as I thought that once again God was giving me a kick to get up and love this kid. For many years, well meaning people had offered their help and advice. Often pushing me more to bury myself away reminding me again of the root of ‘you are not good enough’. I had nowhere else to run, my humor was gone, I said ‘OK God if this is what I need to do I will do it.’

I went to the bible study on love and I listened quietly until I thought my head would explode, I finally said to the leader ‘how can I love someone who is abusing me’? I closed my eyes and squared my shoulders waiting for the inevitable Christian answer. But it never came, instead the women came around me and prayed for me. They gave me grace. This was my first breakthrough into healing and softening my heart – and I will never forget that feeling of grace. I never realized that what I was craving was grace. The strong independent one who never gave grace to myself or others. Something inside me changed as I experienced grace.  Grace is so important in this busy, harsh and judgmental world that we live in. I began to heal slowly, but not enough, I was still stuck in my pain.

Tears.

We finally met our counselor who helped us transform our family, by introducing us and teaching us the works of Gordon Neufeld. Through many months of counselling we have learned to stop reacting to Geo’s behaviour and instead address the root. Asking ourselves first why is he so angry and frustrated? How have we contributed to that? How can we respond differently in order to diffuse that anger and frustration? What does he need from us?

We started building a connection that was subtle, persistent, enduring and calm. Geo began to feel like we “got” him, that we really were in charge and that things were going to be OK. With that sense, he could breath a little more deeply and learn to relax and rest, instead of constantly living in the fight or flight mode. We learned to find a softness for him that we had lost along the way.

But, I didn’t think I would ever learn to love this kid again. I was holding onto my anger and sadness with everything in me, I was so defended after years of pain and abuse that had been inflicted by Geo, I did not have any desire to change it. The only reason I agreed to go to counseling was because I had 3 others coming up behind him. If I could stop what had happened with Geo from happening with the other kids, I would go. I had absolutely no hope of repairing our relationship.

The process of trying to fix my son led me to the startling realization that it was me that needed fixing. My counselor kept telling me, “you need to find your sadness, find your tears for this kid. You need to feel your futility”. Human nature is such that when the going gets tough we get tougher. I had lost my ability to feel my sadness because if I did I might shatter into a million pieces. As I started realizing what it meant to find my sadness I began to feel the layers start to unravel, recognizing how they had changed who I was. My past had shaped the person that I was. My parents were amazing, loving and committed, who were frustrated with a daughter that they didn’t understand or know how to help. They, as we were, would have been heart broken to know that they had wounded me with their words. I would not have recognized it had it not been for what we began to understand from Gordon Neufeld about anxiety and defended behavior with respect to feelings of attachment.

Every reaction I had in my life was based on those feelings of the little girl trapped in perceived rejection – toward my friends – being funny, toward my parents – controlling circumstances, towards my husband – never relying on him, towards my kids – not being soft and loving, and towards God by trying to run the show on my own.

I was defended against being vulnerable – to everyone. – how then could I expect my 11 year old to be any less defended against vulnerability?

When I was able to see Geo for the scared, lonely three year old that he had been, I began my journey to find my tears. I shed the tears of my futility and it helped me to cultivate courage.

Authentic self.

I had the courage to face my fears and in doing so, I am now able to live my authentic self, the woman God made me to be, not the woman that others caused me to see myself as, not the woman I had molded myself into, but the woman God saw me as.

I no longer feel different, I feel strong, poised with God’s strength not my own. I no longer feel inadequate to be a mother my 4 beautiful children. I am secure and through his grace laying it down daily – my anxieties, sadness. In doing so I am learning to be a softer, gentler more compassionate me.

I strive to give grace to others and to myself. God has tasked me with 3 special need kids and a toddler who tests me daily.  When the going gets tough they inspire me to be softer not harder. I try to find my heart eyes – to look underneath the surface of the moment to the inner workings of my kids, to try to find a way to really see each of my kids with eyes that know them and their needs and then the answer of what they need in that moment becomes intuitive. This journey has not been easy and I probably would not have chosen it but had I not gone through every single one of the trials I would not have found my way back to God, to my authentic self.

The bible says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ 2 Corinthians 12:9

When I allowed the feeling of grace to wash over me from others it began to change me, when I allowed God’s grace and God’s strength to flow through me that is when the real change started.

‘God desires to restore us—the real us. As he heals our inner life, he calls us to rise to the occasion of our lives. The most important journey any woman can take is the journey into becoming her true self through the love of God. It’s a beautiful paradox. The more of God’s you become, the more yourself you become—the “self” he had in mind when he thought of you before the creation of the world’. Staci Eldridge ‘Becoming Myself – Embracing God’s Dream of You’

Thanks for taking the time to read this,  I hope it encourages you,

See you tomorrow, Michelle xoxo
NaBloPoMo November 2013

A chat with my blogging Muse.

 

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You haven’t written for a couple of weeks Michelle. 

I know, I know. Hmmm. I have many excuses… Lots of half finished pieces, thoughts whirring and so many ideas dancing, but to translate that into a coherent post is another matter. I write when I’m inspired, but I have to allow Inspiration time to flow and to direct my thoughts. My words.

What happened to your Friday faves?

I am inundated with some wonderful writers in my inbox. The last few weeks have been thoughtful and respectful pieces on depression, suicide in the body of Christ and our understanding of mental health in the church – highlighted by the death of Matthew Warren. We continue to pray for the Warren family.

As this is an area so close to my heart and prayers, writing about the ‘fave things’ I had enjoyed that week seemed a little shallow.

Remind Me of your passions, maybe  new blog posts will emerge from  them.

Oh where do I start.

* I help run our church Hope Centre every week. Those who visit have found a place of community, friends and free flowing coffee. I love to feed people, but more than that to see hungry people being fed. We also give away quality, donated clothes; it’s awesome to see people kitted out. Last week I gave a super expensive sleeping bag to a friend of mine who was sleeping on the street.(Thanks youth department lost and found – sorry parent whose teen lost your sleeping bag.) Yes! I’ll blog some Hope Centre stories soon.

*My passion is to see our church and community introduced to a new place of healing and freedom in Christ. Wholeness. There is no doubt that this is where our calling and vision lie. Last week, Phil and I went down to New Life church to visit the Eyes and Wings Prophetic conference. God shone light on our future with words around transformation, overcoming, creativity and presence through Charles Stock, Stacey Campbell and James Goll as they prayed and declared prophetic destiny over us. We spent today reading through and absorbing our words, then took time to pray over the city.

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I have no doubt I will continue to write stories of healing and freedom and encountering God.

Any more areas of passion?

Teenagers! You do know I have worked intermittently with teens for many years and have received training and qualifications in this area? Oh yes.

So all that expertise really helps now that you have your own teens right?

(insert own nervous loud laughter here)

Wrong.

But.

I am reading the best book on parenting teens I have ever read.  I will summarize each chapter for the many parents of teens (or soon to be) who read here.  Such great nuggets of truth and lights on moments. Sound good? Look out for those posts!

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‘my very own teens’

All this talk about writing, how is your writing degree?

Ironically, that would be another reason I haven’t posted my musings as often.

I am mid assignment. I am currently writing a screenplay on the life of John Harper. More to come on that as I am nowhere near complete.

Narrative, dialogue, outlines, treatments – it’s all new to me.

There are a trillion writing facts/quotes, here are a few for this week:

‘Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace.’

 Someone asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or when struck by inspiration. ‘I write when inspiration strikes he replied. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.’

‘I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.’― Madeleine L’Engle

Finally, you love your camera, have you any new photos to share?

I didn’t take this shot, but it really does deserve a post of its own. Don’t you think?  It was taken of my Mom singing at her friends wedding.

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It made us laugh out loud.

A lot.

Still does.

Even right now.

Hope you find something to inspiring on here over the weeks to come.

For you today I pray you know that:

‘God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever’
Psalm 100:5

Lots of love,

Michelle xoxo