Playing and Praying

 

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Phil’s (our) sabbatical drew to a close with long days in Maui, where we valued a time of stopping our work to contemplate His.

We returned to the thoughts of Eugene Peterson who writes well on the Sabbath.

“…it’s the evening when God begins, without our help, his creative day and the morning is when God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated – to participate. So we sleep to get out of the way for a while and join in the rhythm of salvation. We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn” He also adds, “the Deuteronomy reason for Sabbath-keeping is that our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deut 5:15). Never a day off. The consequence: they were no longer considered persons but slaves”

…a familiar story?

As I think of the next 7 years of ministry, the goal is to both pray and play well – to enjoy the art of living and lighten up, even scripture is advising me ‘not to take myself seriously, but take God seriously (Micah 6:8 MSG)

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Eugene wraps his thoughts with Psalm 92, of gratitude, prayer and the metaphors of music, animals and nature to learn from. Praying and playing share this quality: they develop and mature with age, they don’t go into decline…they are life-enhancing.

We were looking through our gazillions of pics this morning – of Zebras in the Serengeti, Grizzly bears along the highway to Banff, a Rattlesnake poised on my daily walk around the orchards. And from last week as the dawn chorus took on a tropical twist and the ocean was still, the clan took their snorkels down to the salty water and while playing the reef…

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Playing and Praying

From Psalm 92. //What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,  to sing an anthem to you, the High God! To announce your love each daybreak, sing your faithful presence all through the night, Accompanied by dulcimer and harp, the full-bodied music of strings. You made me so happy, God. I saw your work and I shouted for joy. How magnificent your work, God! How profound your thoughts!….My ears are filled with the sounds of promise: Good people will prosper like palm trees, Grow tall like Lebanon cedars; transplanted to God’s courtyard, They’ll grow tall in the presence of God, lithe and green, virile still in old age. Such witnesses to upright God!//

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I will announce your faithfulness and love.

Evening and Morning.  

Sanctifying my days. Applying His ways.

The sacred rhythms of praying and playing.

Emptying from the clamor of me. Making Him room.

Being. Doing. Repeat.

And in the sabbath sounds I hear a whisper,

‘don’t forget I AM Good News. I AM joy. I AM life.’

The good news is a person: Jesus, who walked on this earth to offer an alternative to a humanity devoid of real hope, who died on a cross in order to redeem humanity, who came “to bring good news to the poor … to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free. Let’s not forget that truth.

With a sabbath softened heart. We continue…

Love, Michelle xo

 

**There have been a number of reading inspirations in the last few weeks. I have been nervous to finish Pete Greig’s book – Dirty Glory – thoughts on that in 6 months or so…**

 

Never Unfriended

FRIENDS!

Happy Spring…

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I’m on the launch team for this timely book ‘Never Unfriended’  by Lisa Jo Baker. This book is full of truth and challenges us to look at our own lives, how we view friendships and what kind of friend we are. Recognising the the cardinal rule of friendship. you have to go first. Chapters explore subjects such as… fear of being hurt (friendship PTSD), listening, being un-fine and of course jealousy and comparison.

These are powerful truths and so important for us in our unfriending world.

A glimpse of the book:

‘…..the ultimate friend, Jesus—the One who moved into the neighborhood to get to know us, the friend of the popular and unpopular, of priests and pastors, of the uneducated and the graduated, of elementary school girls and their minivan-driving moms—put it pretty plain and simple. When asked what the greatest commandment was, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the heart of this book—the call back to friendship—even when it’s hard, awkward, unfamiliar, or scary. Being willing to be a neighbor in the heart sense the word is being willing to connect with the people who God puts in our path. It’s doing life together, especially the hard parts.

It’s choosing friendship on purpose.

And then there’s this.

‘In our relationships, maybe without even realizing it, we try to stuff our people into an image we’ve created for them. An image that’s comfortable for us, but might actually cut off their circulation, their personality, their quirks. I’ve done this for years, often with the best intentions. I love people. I love seeing them grow into the best versions of themselves. The only problem is that it’s not actually up to me to come up with the blueprint for that version. I’m not their God. And they’re not supposed to be created in my image.’

And…

‘We need to give up our expectations for people to be faultless or to be basically different from who they really are. Maybe the person isn’t so “bad” after all; maybe they are just different than we would have made them. Maybe what we are thinking is the absolute “right” way to be or to live is really a personal preference that we are trying to legislate on someone else. We tend to make our view the “right” view, even in areas where God says that other views are okay also. This is the whole concept of Christian freedom.’

Sound good? You can preorder on Amazon or through neverunfriended.com where you will receive the first 5 chapters (and other goodies) as a digital download with your preorder before April 1st.

This book has brought me to some lights on moments, some tears, healing and lots of courage going forward.

Lord. Wrap us in divine wisdom – help us to know when to let go of friendships, to walk away but also when to hold on. Help us to believe the best and be a blessing, to lay down jealousy and to be an encouragement.Help us offer grace to our teenage self and give us courage to be the friend we want to have. Amen.  

It’s time to step into imperfect friendships – letting go of expectations and inviting God-given (opposites, different, awkward) to do life with.

Love, Michelle xo

‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ 1 Cor. 13:7).

‘Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.’ James 3:17–18

 

 

Dad

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My Dad lay in deepest of sleeps, his breath rattling loose around his fragile frame. He was leaving us, departing this momentary world. Many of those around his bed had been allowed their moment and I waited quietly for mine. Even with ten of us around his bedside My Heavenly Father graced me my space. As I looked up to an empty room tangible peace invaded my being.

Just my Dad and me.
I looked down at his hands, one hand held a wooden prayer cross and I wrapped his other around mine.
I wanted to hold his hand as he was ushered in.
That smooth, familiar hand.
That had steered the truck to support our family.
That had betrayed…defended.
That held back screaming fans in the 60s at the packed town hall.
That had given out aid in Croatia.
The hand that had surrendered to God.
The miracle of his surrender made the redemption of God all the more glorious. We all remember that miracle – when God broke into the chaos, pouring rivers of living water and drowning dysfunction. And wherever the river flowed, transformation happened.
…I said all I had to say; my throat squeezed tight, words finally filling my voiceless pain. He heard me, his frail, cancer consumed body slowly departing, but he heard me – healing tears rolled down his cheeks and mine.
‘Well done Dad, well done.’
Family gathered close again, holding hands tight and every second dear.
Sounds never heard before, emotions never experienced.
Then…a glorious February sunlight shone through the hospice window, a new light.

Remembering you today Dad, with Beatles songs and stories and I’m so thankful to our Saviour,
Love, Shell x

I pray for those of you in the unending shadows, that you will not be overcome by fear.
I pray that you will be reassured that He is with you in those moments and that He is near with protection and guidance.
I pray that you will know His comfort, His presence, His peace – always.

You are loved.

Sorry for being your biggest critic

 

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Friends,

Last week I mentioned ‘wow’ moments I had read or listened to. Here’s another…

 I read this quote by Abi Stumvoll

‘Stop criticizing your God-given temple (your body) repent (say sorry/change your mind) to every body part that you’ve spoken death to. Because when you speak life to yourself, you will bloom into it’

 Abi carries a great message of freedom after a life of self-hatred and insecurity – here’s a short summary for you with a few of my musings thrown in.

Many of us are our war with ourselves. We have an accuser who tells us everything we are not allowing a lie to wrap itself around the core of who we are. A violence against the truth. When we criticize ourselves we are criticize our Creator. The bible tells us when a kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand. When the war is on against our body it prevents us from living in fullness of our true self. God is calling us to wholeness and reconciliation with ourselves – our mind, body and emotions.

Abi challenges us to say sorry to our bodies for the ridiculously high expectations.

Sorry for expecting perfection

Sorry for being your biggest critic

Crazy? No crazier than saying the constant horrible things about ourselves things day in day out. Isn’t it true that most of what we say and do to ourselves we would never do to another person?

What happens when you love something? You invite love back.

This will take intention and commitment – but let us not starve ourselves of love.

Let us unite with our God created selves and begin the habit of love.

Let us start speaking some love over ourselves, breaking a lifetime of loathing.

Let us agree with truth even if it doesn’t make sense – speaking truth out loud – there is power of life and death in the tongue. You might not ‘feel’ anything but the truth promises to set you free.

My prayer for you today is that you will allow God’s love to reach you as you embrace this truth. That you will go where you think love can’t. That you will hear what He likes about you. That you know what He loves when He sees you.

Declare:

I choose to love what you love. I give myself permission to shine. To be alive and vibrant with the life of Christ. I will not align with lies and the accuser. I will know the truth and the truth will set me free. Amen.

Bless you!

Love, Michelle xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week in the Life of…

 

 

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We all have those fears that travel down the road of morbid forebodings, mine often dance darkly around car accidents. So when I received a call last week from my firstborn screaming that she had been in a car accident it would seem that what I feared most had come upon me. And then to be first on the scene and responsible for calling the emergency services.My mind quickly raced to my own accident when I was 17 in my little yellow mini, as I heard the same words ‘girls you were fortunate to walk out of this…’

All that to say I am SO thankful to God, for peace over the could’ve been, for angels and for praying friends and family.

And what I’ve learned again that even in my most feared situations there He is in the midst. The promise of God for ALL of us ‘Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear, Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted (Psalm 23 Voice)

There is one author of morbid forebodings. 

And One ever present in the reality of pain and difficulty.

This weekend I chatted a guy who found a beautiful salvation through Teen Challenge. I talked with a Mexican man who after being in Canada for two days, was on the number 10 bus and saw a service was on at Willow Park church, got off the bus and came in. The first people he met were Spanish speaking, naturally, because God loves detail. This man soon found himself wrapped up in the love of His heavenly Father and declared ‘this is my church.’ I found myself surrounded with many cheering that our Permanent Resident status is granted (thank you Canada) I spoke with friends who had been to the accident spot to give thanks to God for protection. We saw healings as those who attended Azusa Now shared stories of the event, years of pain subsiding, back pain eased, sensitivity to sound and light gone. FOR REAL.

I found myself surrounded with many cheering that our Permanent Resident status is granted (thank you Canada)

I spoke with friends who had been to the accident spot to give thanks to God for protection. We saw healings as those who attended Azusa Now shared stories of the event, years of pain subsiding, back pain eased, sensitivity to sound and light gone. FOR REAL.

We saw healings as those who attended Azusa Now shared stories of the event, years of pain subsiding, back pain eased, sensitivity to sound and light gone. FOR REAL.

And.

I looked into eyes of desperation and saw hope deferred making sick hearts cry for help.

I was reminded to consider it all joy whatever I face and to be content, to turn my eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful face.

As we head into a new week I pray that you know love and grace poured into your soul,  that you know peace in the midst and his presence in every hidden space of your life.

Love, Michelle xo

P.S. Happy Birthday Mom. We love you! xx

Dance with Me

#write31days

Day Three: CAPTURE 

Here’s a few pics to capture my day and a few words on the One who captures my heart.

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The following are poetic words to one of my favourite songs… I’d love you to listen to it here.

“Dance With Me”

Behold You have come over the hills, upon the mountain

To me, You will run

My Beloved, You’ve captured my heart

Won’t You dance with me

Oh, Lover of my soul

To the song of all songs?

With You I will go

You are my Love, You are my Fair One

The winter has passed and the springtime has come

Won’t You dance with me

Oh, Lover of my soul,

To the song of all songs?

Romance me

Oh, Lover of my soul

To the song of all songs

My prayer today is that your hearts will be captured by the Lover of your soul. That you will fall in love, trusting every move, rest, twist and turn.

More tomorrow…

Love, Michelle

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Through the Wardrobe.

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Hi all. This week I have seen community at its best. Practically, spiritually, physically – you know one of my favourite lines is that we are

‘created for community.’

Following a word prompt: community. Com(with)Unity.

We arrived at Green bay all set for a week of ministry Phil speaking on Ephesians 6. We unloaded kids and luggage; as usual it looked like we were emigrating. A baby faced skater noticed my van overheating – wait – that’s not steam it’s smoke. Fast-forward 5 minutes. Fire trucks arrive and douse my flaming Odyssey. I informed the firefighter that I had cleared the people should the car explode – he kindly informed me ‘that only happens in the movies’. We spent the week with the Green Bay family – and love to take part in their mission ‘to lead all people into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.’

I received a desperate text from good friends trapped in the Rock Creek fires. BC has experienced some harsh fires this summer and this was one of them. We stopped, dropped and prayed desperate prayers through tears right there on the dock surrounded by candy filled children having the best time. Our friends and many others surrounded by candling trees and without emergency crews able to reach them ran for their lives. Terrifying. Fire crews eventually rescued them and they found refuge for the night. Again we saw our church community step in driving for hours to bring them home.

My heart is with a good friend who has lost her best friend this week; she is out of physical reach yet close to my heart. Social Media often gets a bad rap but I have watched a community gather around her – a digital vigil of grief, love and support, then, stepping out of the virtual and sending her to her loved ones.

Kelowna was shocked and sad as we said goodbye to an adventurous young man from our community, Kevin was a free diver who lost his life this week in our own Okanagan Lake – a man who lived life to the full, having travelled to 25 countries already this year. Phil spent time with his family and tribe from around the world throughout the week and celebrated his life on Saturday. Kevin knew Jesus and was surrounded by family and friends as they said goodbye. In the devastation of tragedy – Jesus was present. IS present.

Josiah, my 8 year old theologian heard the story of Samson this week and mentioned that the gouging of Samson’s eyes wasn’t told and ‘didn’t he kill the philistines and die himself Mom?’ I explained that was the story, but perhaps not the best ending for children’s fireside. I reminded Josiah that we don’t live a Disney Christianity with constant happy endings and life doesn’t always happen as we’d like BUT there is always a bigger story at work and we know that God is good, faithful and present in all.

I’ll leave you with the hope filled words that Phil read at the celebration of Kevin’s life – a man who always pushed through the wardrobe.

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” – C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle. 

I pray you are able to love and be loved in your community this week,

Love, Michelle xo

Lasagna Garden

Hello friends. It’s been a while! My life is consumed with many things right now. I’m not writing as much as I’d like but I know it’s a season of focusing elsewhere and I’ll be back to it soon enough.

Here’s a Collins catch up in pics…

Soccer time for Josiah.

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Ballet exam for Bella – here she is warming up.

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Homeschooling Miss Jess, 6 weeks to go!! A busy soccer season for Em. This week Emily goes to ‘Valleys’ with her team with a chance of heading to Provincials in Vancouver – exciting! The twins are in Vancouver this weekend supporting their friend who is auditioning for ‘The Next Star’.

Seasons! I love the season we are in and I am loving the life and colour of Spring.

Pics from our treehouse.

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Phil and I enjoyed a weekend in Harrison at the ‘Pastor and Spouse’ retreat for our denomination. A lovely time, authentic speaker and we cleared up on the door prizes. Did I mention I won a camera Glen?

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Fluttering fairies otherwise known as Hummingbirds.

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Phil has been working with Josiah on a new project in our yard. A lasagna garden! What’s a lasagna garden? I hear you say. Glad you asked…

Lasagna gardening is an efficient method for a making a new garden bed. Lasagna gardening is a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method that results in rich soil with very little work from the gardener. Also known as “sheet composting,” lasagna gardening is great for the environment, because you’re using your yard and kitchen waste and essentially composting it in place to make a new garden.

To make the garden, organic matter is added in layers (hence the term lasagna) The layers break down over time and you are left with a nutrient filled soil in which to grow your flowers, herbs and veggies!! The best way to layer the garden is to alternate layers of brown (carbon rich) materials with green (nitrogen rich) materials. ‘Greens’ for the Lasagna Garden: Fruit and vegetable scraps, Grass clippings, Coffee grounds, tea bags, tea leaves, trimmings and deadheads from the garden. ‘Browns’ for the Lasagna Garden: Shredded paper, newspaper, straw, peat moss, fall leaves.

One of the best things about lasagna gardening is how easy it is. You don’t have to remove existing weeds. You don’t have to double dig. The first layer of your lasagna garden consists of either brown corrugated cardboard or three layers of newspaper laid directly on top of the grass or weeds in the area you’ve selected for your garden. Soak this layer down to keep everything in place and start the decomposition process. The grass or weeds will break down fairly quickly because they will be smothered by the newspaper or cardboard, as well as by the materials you’re going to layer on top of them. This layer also provides a dark, moist area to attract earthworms that will loosen up the soil as they tunnel through it.

The delivery of layers (all recycled)

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Josiah concentrating on planting.

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Here’s to the harvest!

I pray you are able to see the life and beauty of the season you are in,

Love, Michelle x

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time’ Ecc 3:11

 

A Bigger Story.

Day 30.

IMG_2923First day on the ski hill today for a few of the Collins fam.

Cue Vangelis, ‘Titles’….

I did it. Set my goal. I completed my goal! 30 days of writing.

30 posts drawing thousands of visitors from over 50 countries. New subscribers. New friends. Old friends reconnecting. Faithful cheerleaders. Daily prompters. THANKYOU! I just love fulfilling my passion, to encourage, to cheer you on. Challenging you to a deeper place of spirituality, of self-examination, asking the who and why, integrating that with the world outside, to a place of knowing a daily reality of God in your world.

I want to encourage you to set your own goals and realize your part in the big story, and to understand the part you play in your story is so important. So needed, not only for you, for those around you.

Yes, that includes you…

Donald Miller writes these four points on the Storyline blog:

• Every story is built around a character or characters. This part is easy. By God’s design, you are the principal character of your story because you are the only character in any story you can control. You are the storyteller and the principal character all in one. The story may be about something other than you, but you have agency and to deny that is to tell a really boring story. The first of many keys to living a great life is to take full responsibility for our lives.

• The character has to want something. If the main character in the story doesn’t want something or if what they want is muddled, the story lacks direction and purpose. The same is true in life. When we want something we launch into the story question, that is “will the character get what they want.” But that’s not all. What we want needs to be good, self sacrificing and we have to want whatever it is we want more than we want glory or to feed our ego or even validation. When we find that thing we want, our story not only engages the world, it engages us and we become much more interested in life itself.

• Every character must go through conflict. Far from being a bad thing, conflict in story is a necessity. In America we live in a culture that avoids conflict but we do so to our own detriment. Conflict fills a story with meaning and beauty. Not only this, but conflict gives value to that which we are trying to attain. And conflict is the only way a character actually changes. There is no character development without conflict. So when we choose our ambitions, they should be difficult and we should anticipate and even welcome conflict.

• Stories must resolve. In stories there’s a scene called a climax. A climactic scene will resolve all the conflict in the story in a single action. Life doesn’t really work this way, but having a visual scene in your mind that you can head toward is motivating. For instance, if you want to lose 30 pounds, don’t set that as a goal, make the goal finishing a marathon. Finishing a marathon is visual and much more motivating.

My Prayer for you today:

“….is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:

Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”

Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road

This isn’t the end of my blogging, just a little less often.

See you soon,

Love, Michelle xoxo

For those who are joining today. Here’s a quick link to my 30 NaBloPoMo posts!

1. Uproot for Fruit

2. Getting intimate with Strangers. 

3. Stop for the One

4. Uncomfortable

5. TuneIn 

6. All in a Days Work 

7. Baby steps to dreams

8. Billy Graham’s last Sermon

9. Marnie’s Story. 

10. Remembrance Day  

11. I Choose to Forgive

12. Meditation: That’s what you need. 

13. Glorious Ruins

14. Beautiful BC. 

15. Stretched. Exploring Beauty. 

16. Sadness and Joy Kiss. 

17.  Sunday Smiles.

18. Reach Out.

19. A Chat with my Blogging Muse.

20. Expectations.

21. Cheers.

22. Fly.

23. A Cosmic Trio.

24. Sunday Soup.

25. Diamonds.

26. Hope on a Rope. 

27. A Wordy Reminder.

28. Giftastic.

29. Trees

30. A Bigger Story.

A Wordy Reminder.

Day 27.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 It’s not a simple twist of fate,

Or an idiot wind that carries you to Canada.

I’d say its receptivity, desire,

Faith and humble stamina.

You’re blowing in the wind,

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

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

Blood of the Lamb on the tracks

Of a partially trodden path,

Like the rolling away of a stone.

Far from us, you’ll bear His fruit,

Far from being complete unknowns.

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

Subterranean, homesick –

If so, the Son will see you through.

You’ll have a shelter from the storm,

Knock- knock- knocking on heaven’s door,

Held by enduring friendship,

Within God’s abundant store.

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

On highways that you visit and revisit;

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

Yours are prayers and pleasures, stuff of life,

The joy of the Holy Spirit.

God is making planet waves.

Don’t feel lonesome when you go.

Under the maple leaf, Jesus saves,

The train is coming – why should it be slow?

Constant, He is rearranging:

For the times they are a-changing.

© Andy Mullis 10/06/2010

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

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

See you tomorrow,

Michelle xo