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

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

 

Sweet 2016

Hello again, Happy New Year from our family to yours!

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Having spent a wonderful three weeks over Christmas in Stourbridge our hometown we are now back home to Kelowna and excited for the New Year…. and the snow.

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Christmas saw us celebrating Phil’s 50th UK style, our 18th wedding anniversary, Bella’s 13th birthday and a memorable trip to London. Phil walked the Worcestershire way in one day with his friends – 35 miles of English countryside. Not quite the 2-day ramble Phil and I completed a couple of years ago (Read about that one here) We enjoyed a few days away with our fave friends who were visiting from Brisbane. Not to mention Christmas and New Year celebrations… I think I need a holiday! So blessed to know the love of family and friends on both sides of the pond.

Onto 2016!

I am currently collating prophetic words for 2016 and look forward to posting my annual mashup over the next week or two. Here is the post 2015 – in order to look ahead at all God wants to do it is important to acknowledge all that God has done.

There is excitement in the air at Willow Park Church as we head into a focused period of 21 days prayer and fasting. In addition, we have an ongoing prayer room for the next week at Highway 33 where you can creatively pray and join with others. This is a significant time for our church and the city of Kelowna. Leave your prayer requests in comments and I can post them in our prayer room walls.

Prayer Changes Things

As ever, I challenged my friends to think of their word for 2016. My word for 2015 was LAUGHTER… I realize as an INFJ I seem to laugh more on the inside and smile on the outside! #lil

My word for the year is BELOVED.

That I would always know I am His beloved and the fullness of that.

That I would see everyone I meet as His beloved.

And because of that – those I meet would know they are His beloved.

“When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosenness of others. That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone – a unique, special place. Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart.” Henri Nouwen.

What is your word for the year ahead?

That’s all for now – let me know your prayer requests and your word.

I’ll be back with my prophetic mashup soon,

Love, Michelle xo

Sign up here for 21 days of prayer and fasting devotionals from Willow Park Church.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

 

The Feet of Jesus

Hi all,

A quick catch up and another poem by me!

We saw Nanny Sue, Dion and Charl leave us last week after a wonderful few weeks together then this week saw the arrival of Jo and the boys.

We decided to take them for an evening stroll on Mission Creek on their first night. Josiah was excited to spot a Momma bear and cub up the tree.

EEK!

IMG_2236Have you heard this song by Paula and Hannah McClure ‘Jesus we love You’? My theme…

‘Our affection, our devotion poured out on the feet of Jesus’

I love to reflect on life as pilgrimage. We understand that a pilgrim is ‘a foreigner or wayfarer’ An older more poetic definition of pilgrim has its root in the latin ‘through the field’. The ancient image suggests a curious soul who walks beyond known boundaries, crosses fields, touches the earth with a destination in mind and purpose in heart.

Enjoy my thoughts of the feet of the One who touched the earth with destination in mind and purpose in His heart.

The Feet of Jesus.

The womb of the chosen mom,

Trough hay in newborn toes,

Kicking.

Childhood Passover pilgrimage,

Into cold waters of Jordan,

Obeying.

The pinnacle of the temple,

Temptation to step,

Overcoming.

Fragrance fills the air,

Awash with tears,

Receiving.

Storm shakes the night,

Boat rocks as water holds,

Walking.

Dove feathers fly,

As tables overturn,

Stamping.

Fastened by nails to Cedar,

Splintered agony to death,

Loving.

Resurrected beach strolls,

With grains of sand known,

Living.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Michelle x

Bloom where you’re planted.

Canada 893Walks in our Canadian garden.

During worship in church a couple of weeks ago I saw a garden where God walked among us. As I watched him walk, I began to see us – his children – in different scenarios.

The first scene I saw was people sat in tangled weeds and undergrowth – head in hands not knowing where to begin.

The next I saw were people hiding behind trees, glancing out occasionally but hiding.

The next I saw were people who had climbed up trees… familiar story?

I looked across and saw people tending a section of garden, beautiful flowers, vibrant colours – this group had their backs turned to the rest of those in the garden.

There were people wandering around the garden and not settling.

Then there were many giving out from their areas.

The beauty of this picture was as the Lord walked amongst us in our own space – there was no condemnation. He walked as a friend, drawing us, wooing us, pursuing – he had gentleness in His eyes and oozed love.

God walks amongst us.

His presence …

will address any alienation or isolation we might feel.

will pour out love over fear.

will strengthen us to find our way out of the weeds.

will call us to make our home in Him.

will call us to face one another in true community.

This speaks of intimacy – God is calling us to a new intimacy in Him.

The book of Songs is where I am camping out at the moment… I think I’ll be here a while. As we acknowledge our place in the garden. The Lord is speaking this word from Song of Solomon 2:14 “…Let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

Let him see your face. The real you. Let him hear your voice. He is interested in all you have to say.

This isn’t about sitting pretty in our gardens,

‘It is time to bloom where you’re planted..then you and those around you will know the sweet fragrance of Christ’

SAM_0909Walks in our English garden.

‘Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence. Psalm 105:4

‘My lover is already on his way to his garden, to browse among the flowers, touching the colors and form. I am my lover’s and my lover is mine. He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers’. Song of Songs. 6:2

N.T Wright writes ‘If you don’t want your garden to grow weeds, one of the best ways is to keep it well stocked with strong, sturdy flowers and shrubs. If you don’t want your mind and heart to go wandering off into the realms of darkness, one of the best ways is to keep them well stocked with wise and thankful themes’.

Hope these words of encouragement bless you – you are loved – you have a place. Let Him see your face and hear your voice.

Stay in touch,

Love, Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prophetic mashup for 2015.

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I have read a lot of prophetic words for 2015 over the past few weeks.

Wow – feels like there is a lot of promise over this year. I have read repeated words that this is a year of acceleration, breakthrough, salvation, healing, overflow and turnarounds.

My prayer as you read through this ‘prophetic mashup’ is that you’ll find encouragement and your spirit will respond with a yes to that which is for you.

Proverbs 4:18 says, ‘But the path of the righteous is like the light of the dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day’ with this in mind 2015 should be our best yet.

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Before 2014 was over I made an intentional decision to deal with the effects of it… whether that was letting it go, shaking it off or any other popular song lyric. No seriously. On New Years Eve I went into my room, locked the door and in prayer, went through the year month by month. When you face heart pain with the loss of a loved one, those closest to you separating, when you experience health scares, face accident…there needs to be healing. It was a significant hour, and healing continues. In addition, I also went through my journal and saw significant answers to prayers I’d forgotten I had prayed. I saw how words and whispers of God define my life. God is far more concerned about what we’ve become than what we have done. I love journaling and highly recommend it as you enter into this new season.

Some headlines of prophetic words for 2015.

Double Portion Year

Or as Jonny Enlow puts it ‘double for your trouble’.

2015 is a year of double portion favor, grace, glory, blessing, provision, jubilee and inheritance.

‘O hostages of hope. I announce today that I will restore to you twice as much as what was taken’ Zechariah 9:12

Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt. Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever. Isaiah 61:7

This does not mean a life of no challenges – but it does mean a life of greatly satisfying fruitfulness.

Jubilee

Later in the year we will be entering the 70th Jubilee cycle since the very first Jubilee, which occurred when Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land and liberated it from the Canaanites. In a jubilee year, all debts are to be cancelled; all land is to be returned to its original owner. Liberty is proclaimed throughout the land. When the great Day of Atonement in the Year of Jubilee came, every enslaved Jew became a free man once again and repossessed his inheritance.

Outpouring Of The Spirit Of God

We are in the season Joel prophesied about. ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.’ Joel 2

Intimacy

‘Come away with Me My beloved as I am awakening love within your heart’. Come away with me. How does that look for you? Jesus wants to reveal secrets, love, and mysteries to you. The Lord is singing love songs over you, wooing you. Yes YOU. This is my favorite! For a girl who struggled to express any emotion God has restored pure intimacy in my relationship with Him – there is much fruitfulness in intimacy I could write lots on this…watch this space and here’s a love song to listen to.

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Fulfillment of Promises

There have been many of us who have believed God for a miracle, breakthrough or fulfillment of a prophetic word in our personal life over a number of years. Years of waiting will see a turnaround and fulfillment in 2015. ‘For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us’ 2 Corinthians 1:20 ‘…There will be a fulfillment of those things which were told [you] from the Lord’ Luke 1:45

Standing on a promise of the Lord is not wishful thinking, no matter what you’re facing. God’s promises carry their own assurance of fulfillment because ‘God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Nehemiah 23:19

Breakthrough/Hope restored.

As many reach opposition capacity, breakthrough will happen. As doom screams at you – you must keep your eyes on Jesus, praise on your lips and your whole being in his word.

Many have been feeling like they are constantly living in the first half of John 10:10, that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. That they are continually being hit, continually battling his lies and threats to kill and destroy without feeling like they are living in the latter half of John 10:10, that He (Jesus) came to give life and life to the full.

‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’ Hebrews 6:19  

Where there was disappointment, heartache and pain – God is restoring hope to many in this new season.

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ Romans 15:13

 

Open Door

‘After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ Revelation 4:1 NIV   He is calling us higher – resulting in a change in our perspective

The Table is Set.

‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ Matthew 14:21

‘Come, for everything is ready’ God has prepared a table before us and we are being given an invitation to be part of something big that God has been planning. This represents the spiritual outcasts that God is drawing in now. Another of my favorites. I love the table!

Finding new fruit in your family tree

Your generational gifting and calling will become clearer this year. God is revealing positive, hidden blessings and callings in your family tree. You will no longer be worried about generational curses, because generational blessings will come to the forefront.

I’ll end it there – clearly this is my mash up – taking words, collating them and condensing them. I do this because I know how God wants to speak to our hearts – to encourage us to pursue, to be pursued and to be reminded of/dig out those promises (and also last year people appreciated me reducing 20,000 words to 1,396)

Now that you have read these words – pray over them, digest and absorb them and repeat. Call them out. Own them. And most of all enjoy the journey. Jesus came to give life, and life to the full…

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Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen’ Eph 3:20-21

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. Psalm 65:11-12

 

‘Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.’ God’s Decree.

‘Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel:

‘They’ll rebuild their ruined cities

They’ll plant vineyards and drink good wine.

They’ll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables.

And I’ll plant them, plant them on their own land.

They’ll never again be uprooted from the land I’ve given them.’

God, your God, says so. Amos 9:13

Here’s to 2015. Sounds like it could be legendary.

Love, Michelle

(Words from Jonny Enlow, Lana Vewsar, Doug Addison. Bill Burns. James Maloney. Rick Joyner and last but not least Michelle Collins 😉 and can be found in their entirety on Elijah List.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughter is a Leap

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The arrow of time moves swiftly.

For some as 2014 closes, you’re happy to see the back of it, draw a line and stride over the threshold into 2014. A year of pain for some – health, finances, grief and loss, others, a year of surprises, adventures, twists and turns and for most a combination of all.

My inbox is full of inspiring New Year blogs this morning. Social Media alive with sparkle and well wishes.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog this year – my most read were “The Worcestershire Way’ ‘Fighting Fires’ and ‘Isolation to Restoration’. It was visited from 97 countries and as ever my mom is my biggest commenter and cheerleader! Here’s to my writing life continuing to do what it does. Musing on life, faith, the mundane and the mountaintop and weaving it into a God filled experience.

Join me again in 2015?

Every year we gather with a few friends over Christmas and discuss our one word for the year ahead.

Mine for 2015… LAUGHTER!

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“Solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” GK Chesterton

God is joyful. He sings, he laughs, he delights. Scripture says all creation was given a measure of glory – that’s us too. You hold a part in the chorus of the creator that no one else plays. You are alive with light and life. There is something unique about you that represents the Father heart of God.

Our joy is often lost when were turn inwards – becoming negative and self critical. Let’s fix our eyes on Him, the great designer. We were made to recognize His voice, our issue is when we don’t hear him, or rather we don’t listen, when our negative critical self talk speaks a louder, darker voice.

‘Joy is peace out loud. Peace is quiet joy’ BJ

Lets have a quick look at Nehemiah 8 and Psalm 23 then you can carry on partying…

In Nehemiah 8 we see a people who have found God’s word after being without it. The picture is wonderful, everyone standing from morning until afternoon listening in to the word – families, communities gathered, listening. Soon enough, tears – mourning as they discover among other things a standard they cannot meet.

For some of us a familiar story.

Here’s the good news. God had other ideas.

Here it is in verse 10.

“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!”

This image of family, community, eating, feasting, living, sharing. God knows life is hard work and He offers us His joy to be our strength!

The story goes on to say. Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

They understood. They lived it. The seed of joy taking root, far from the topsoil where the enemy can steal.

As I ponder this truth, I think of my one of my favourites, verse 5 from Psalm 23. ‘You spread out a table before me, 
provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies’

Picture that. Your enemies. You know them. We all have them. God promises you will feast in the midst of them. You will eat, know his goodness, and in that eating, you will find that the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Let us set the feasting atmosphere for 2015. TOGETHER!

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”(Herman Melville, Moby-Dick)

IMG_0428 Happy New Year from my family to yours!

Love, Michelle xo

 

Preparing Him room.

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Hi all.

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 yum treats. 7000 people attended over the 12 shows. 2500 bibles were given. We were able to pray for 577 prayer requests on our prayer tree.

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What a wonderful opportunity to invite our community into God’s story!

 ‘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.

‘The weary world rejoices’

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

Let us use this time of advent to focus on our dark and say Emmanuel – I cannot do this. Let us invite Him into the places where decay has spread beyond hidden messes in our heart.

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?’

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

 O come, O come Emmanuel’

Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness,

send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to you coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”

—Henri J.M. Nouwen.

‘Let every heart prepare Him room’

 Love, Michelle xo

Isolation to Restoration.

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Hi friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love how the Lord speaks.

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

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

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

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

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

And made me bold with strength in my soul.’

There’s a theme!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He restores my soul. Your soul.

Mr. Buechner captures it well…

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

Pray this over your own life…

Lord. Thank you for restoration.

Thank you for the life you breathe into my being.

Thank you that you refresh the fatigue I feel.

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

Help me to allow myself to rest.

To allow myself to slow down. To be.

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

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

To recover what is lost and stolen.

You are my healer.

You came to give life in abundance.

You are the creator of my life.

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

Amen.

 

 

Love, Michelle xo