He comforts to the point of strength

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I have no words yet I have all the words. Death seems to have a way of breathing new life into our bones and shifting our focus on the eternal. Thank you all for your love, prayers and messages these past few weeks. We have felt it. God has wrapped us up in His love. For those who are new here. Here’s the link to our journey over the past while.

I have been meditating on the valley… because it is a familiar place to us at the moment. It would appear this valley here is no sprint – but what I do know is that ‘even though I walk through the darkest valley.’

THROUGH. Phew

 Rick Warren describes the valley as : Inevitable /\Unpredictable/\Impartial/\Temporary

Valleys happen, they are no respecter of persons and never happen at a good time – read more of his devotional here  – he ends it with this ‘…There is an eternal glory. This is important. Pain can be productive. There will be a benefit for our problems if we respond in the right way. While we have the temporary hassles there is long term, eternal benefit when you go through a valley and respond to it correctly.’

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Our God the comfort, He comforts well – to the point of strength. That’s our promise even when emotions weigh us down and grief gets in the bones. Even in the darkest valley moments. There’s always, ALWAYS light.

Because of promise. Because He is light. And there is no darkness in Him. And at times like these. When we’re fighting for the day. There is a community that rises up. With encouragement and food, and cakes (because sweet things are comforting ;)) meals out and a whole lot of love. Thank you.

….and today I am procrastinating on a uni assignment because I seem to have misplaced creativity. I am supposed to be writing a Fantasy story for 7-9 year olds – so I decided to ‘winterize’ the (neglected) veggie patch instead.

As I begin to turn it over, and weed – I pull up a whole harvest of misshaped carrots – I find monster zucchini hidden under shrivelled leaves – and an abundance of tomatoes desperately crawling on the ground. Yes, there is still fruit – even when it appears we’re not on top of things. There is harvest in this mess.

And a surprise selection of sunflowers grow tall. Facing light.

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After my gardening today I came in for tea and (more) cake and read an article by Danny Silk.  ‘Your life is a gift from God to you. It has infinite value to him, which he communicates to you in all the many ways He loves you…healthy relationships grow between people who have embraced their individual responsibility to tend to their own gardens. …You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. If you have ever been on a plane, you have been subjected to the flight attendants’ spiel about what to do if the cabin loses pressure. They explain that oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling and show you how to put them on. Every time, they remind you that if you are traveling with a child or someone else in need of assistance, you must be sure to put your mask on before you try to help anyone else. The implication is clear. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to care for anyone else. (Thanks Danny!)

So as we walk through the valley we care for ourselves, we hide in the rock, and hear Jesus whisper ‘get up’…. and we take a few more steps.

And even in these past few weeks loved ones near and far have faced their own valley –unexpected news, accident, illness and loss.

Friends: God is near to you – He is near to the broken hearted He rescues those who are crushed in spirit – He prays for us. What a perfect opportunity for the Holy Spirit to meet us in our weakness and pray on our behalf. He knows us.

That’s all for now!

Love, Michelle xo

 

A few days before we returned UK Phil preached on the book of Job – little did we know we’d practicing what he preached… you can listen to it here.

 

In the Summertime.

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Hello! It’s been a while… summer livin’ and all. I’m excited today to introduce a fresh new look to my blog (thank you lovely Bethany from our For the Love launch team) On the subject of For the Love by Jen Hatmaker – don’t forget to pre order here… review coming soon.

For the next week or so I am joining up with Blogging 101 on WordPress to give us writers a blogging boost. Assignments and changes on the blog everyday for a few weeks. Today is finding a new theme – I’m such a good student. Thanks WordPress!

For those new around here the reason I write my blog? I love stories and putting faith words to life. My favourite posts are those that give you a glimpse of life of this British family pastoring and adventuring in Kelowna, BC alongside offering words of encouragement to you on your journey, ‘bringing God colours into the mundane and miraculous.’

The blogging world is saturated with blogs of this same genre particularly in North America – and I don’t even offer recipes! So I could ask, is it worth it? But we don’t all read every blog. We read a blog we are interested in, and that we have connection with – and for me that’s enough, so I blog on! Oh and it helps because I am working on a Creative Writing degree.

The biggest comments I have are those of thank you for the encouragement and also apologies for not ‘actually’ commenting on the blog itself. Ah yes the whole commenting thing! I’m told I should leave the blog with a question to encourage you to comment. I’m learning…

Family news. You might remember I mentioned we were waiting to hear from Canadian government that Phil is ‘the man for the job’ we were pleased to hear a YES from them and now wait to be invited to apply for Permanent Residence soon!

We enjoyed a week on Kitsilano beach, catching beautiful sunsets, absorbing vitamin sea and enjoying the beauty of Vancouver. They tell me it rains there but I don’t believe them.

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Bella and I enjoyed a girly 24 hours and went to see Taylor Swift in concert. That girl can sing and dance for hours! Taylor is pretty special too.

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As I wrote on my last post – summer is busy with visitors and camps. Jess has been away for almost a month and returns this weekend. Emily and Bella are currently at the Ark, Emily cooking and Bella having the time of her life, although I’m sure the kitchen is fun too! That leaves Josiah to watch movies and play games with his lovely cousin Charlotte. We all head to family camp at Green Bay next week where Phil will be teaching for the week.

Nanny Sue and Dion are in town, making Kelowna their home for a month!

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So, there’s a little catch up.

I was challenged to publish something on my blog that I haven’t done before so here is a poem I wrote – rewritten from one of my favorite Psalms. My lecturer did challenge me on attempting to rewrite something famous that couldn’t be improved upon but I offer my reflection anyway!

The Invite.

Spoken and silent needs, you know them well,

Your voice settles my soul.

I roll in verdant meadows, in carefree rest.

Stagnant sea, parts to a grace oasis,

I drink in the life of silent streams.

In deep valleys, you whisper echoes,

on weathered trails and sunless paths.

I’m invited! Your guest to sit and feast.

To face my enemies, who watch and mock,

my head spins again under their scorn.

I’m invited! My saporous spread.

I’m invited! My paradise picnic.

Your healing oil cascades over my head,

fresh fragrance flows, I carry your balm.

My darling, ever-present Companion,

You have pursued me well, I will abide,

where the feast never ends. It never ends.

 

Time to hear from you…

Describe your summer so far in a few words…

and/or

What can I pray for you?

Thanks for reading!

Love, Michelle.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘There is Love in our home now’

 

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It’s Saturday, 10am and 65 ladies slowly arrive.

They are dressed in their brightest and boldest, dresses and scarves flow, some even bridesmaid-esque.

The guests arrive by foot, ferry and dula dula.

There’s a feeling of celebration is in the air.

It’s time for our women’s seminar!

New notepads and expectancy are in hand … not forgetting the introduction of the ‘door prize’.

The first sessions explored what it means to live in intimacy with God and the life we are promised in doing so.

The team shared during the afternoon session – we had spoken of intimacy, so naturally spoke of the fruit produced and how that might look in our own lives.

Testimonies flowed. As did tears. Women are women.

One of my favorite parts of the day was the lunch we provided for these lovelies.

Served by the men. Yes the men.

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One lady commented how the food was like that served at a wedding.

A wonderful prophetic sign.

“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:4

God had clearly ordained this time for these women – to be spoiled and cared for – for feasting and fun.

We declared the goodness of God and the banner of love waved high.

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As the day went on, we heard stories and we became friends I was reminded of my other favourite feast – of Psalm 23.

‘You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies, You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace’

God promises a feast set in the midst of a battlefield. Undaunted by evil or troubles. A feast prepared for these women in the midst of their enemies.

Their enemies?

Many the same as mine and yours. Many not.

Marriage problems, making ends meet, concerns for future, health issues.

There was much darkness to overcome, vivid nightmares to battle and the influence of witch doctors to flee.

These women saw a reprieve from their battles, as we declared the goodness of God enabling them to see the banner of love waving more once.

In addition to great food –  we feasted on the provision of promise, the sustenance of comfort – rest – peace – friendship – hugs – hope for another day…

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Psalm 23 speaks of the word ‘table’, you spread out a table – meaning to grow long, reach, spread and stretch forth. My prayer for these women as we sat together was that the provision and sustenance would go far beyond what we could see.

On our final morning a Living Waters watchman came to tell us that his wife had been at the seminar and had met Jesus.

His words were enough ‘there is love in our home now’…

Yes!

I just read this prayer today… for my sisters in Africa and for you wherever you are.

Join me in praying?

Lord, look…

Marriage & kids & relationships & people are ridiculously hard…. and they can make our hearts grow hard & our legs go soft & bottom line: we have no idea how to keep going on.

And You hearten us, Your Word breathing fresh hope into our bones:

“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up….

Become wise; point your life in the right direction…

You’re so steady & determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you…” 


That’s all Lord.

Make the bruised, brave.

Make the wounded, wise. 


Make the daunted, determined.

In the name of the only One who loved us to death & back to the real & forever life… In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

More soon,

Love, Michelle