Dancing in the Cool Breeze

Hello!

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Aren’t we all feeling a little more Spring like today?  It’s Spring Break over here and Phil and Bella are home from a beautiful time in  Mwanza. I look forward to filling you in on their trip – that’s my next post….in fact I have many blog posts running around in my head and I’m hoping they’ll land into some coherent words soon. If not then thanks for your grace. Creativity has taken a leave of absence but I’m hoping its return is imminent.

Meanwhile.

I recently read ‘God sets the lonely in families.’ I realize this is more than being alone, a state of being, in fact, being alone can be a gift (INFJ here) This is different, lonely is the emotion brought on by feelings of separation. Loneliness can be devastating, a riot in the brain that brings feelings of being uncared for, not celebrated, unloved.

Let’s backtrack to when loneliness entered – God created Adam and Eve and walked in the cool of the day with them. They were created for His presence, but as we know, sin entered the world and separated us from God. Shame, nakedness and loneliness penetrated the heart and we’ve struggled with this ever since, affecting many of our choices. Hurt and pain can isolate us, as we hide within the fear of rejection and misunderstanding. We deny ourselves grace and we make unhealthy comparisons. All enhancing loneliness on an island of echoes.

Good news.  

Loneliness does not exist within the trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in an adoring relationship. One does not function without the other. God is not alone and God is not lonely. The trinity exalts one another, communing and honoring. It’s a sublime dance. Or as C.S. Lewis put it, ‘in Christianity God is not a static thing… but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you would not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.’

Love cannot work alone. Could it be that we can fight loneliness with this understanding of the trinity?

Acts 3:19 tells us that, ‘upon repentance (of changing our mind, turning away) times of refreshing will stream from the Lord’s presence.’ These times of refreshing hints of that time when God walked with Adam in the cool breeze of the day. The work of the cross begins the restoration of paradise within the hearts of Christ’s followers. The garden of our hearts overlaps with the garden of God, and we can walk with him in the garden once more.

Let’s grasp this truth and let’s attempt the outworking of the dance… exalting, honoring, and working together and ‘as we limp toward transparency and community and friendship with our own fears and insecurities, we recognize that we aren’t alone. When we see that we are not alone, we can reach out to one another.’ Anne Voskamp.

Lord,

Help me to be aware that you are with me in every moment.

Help me grasp the truth that you desire to walk with me in the cool of the day.

In the valley and mountain. The confusion and fear. The celebration and hope.

Lord, every moment.

Amen.

We were never meant to be alone – we were created to enter into the divine dance.

Love, Michelle xo

…and Happy Mother’s Day Mom – you dance well.  

Guard your Heart.

 

burford house 010Photo by Mal Ballinger. 

We returned from our fab UK trip to spring in Kelowna, we all hit the ground running while overcoming jet-lag. Not the easiest week but hoping that next week feels a little more normal… whatever that is!

We celebrated 25 years of Willow Park Church today. What a treat to welcome the Pastor who carried the vision to bring the church to Rutland. Pastor Herb, now 90, stood and shared with us from the very spot where he had once stood on dirt and declared a place of worship. Looking forward to celebrating at Pursuit tonight as 20 young people are baptized. God is good.

I am musing over the verse. ‘Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.’ Proverbs 4:23

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When it comes to the Bible, we must be careful to not let familiarity cause complacency. ‘Guard your heart’ is one of those verses we all know and can easily slot into the category of romance and relationships, I believe it is much more than that.

It might help to understand what the heart represents in this verse. In the Old Testament the ‘heart’ is used hundreds of times, more than 200 times it deals with the thoughts, emotions, the wellsprings of life, those things that motivate and mold us. It is the core of us, our connecting part – our orientation to God and others. The home of dreams, desires and passions.  Words we speak flow out of our hearts. The choices we make flow out of our hearts.  In salvation, Christ takes our dead heart of stone and gives us a new heart of flesh. Guarding our hearts in this context means paying careful attention to our thoughts, our emotions, our desires, and our choices.  It is about the wisdom of living according to God’s standards.  King Solomon says it the wellspring of life, the source of everything. Our hearts overflow. We all know what can happen to plugged springs – where the flow has stopped. Water becomes toxic. Life is threatened. If your heart is unhealthy – it has an impact on everything else.

Could this be about being vulnerable to one another, but ultimately abandoning our hearts to Jesus?

I took responsibility for my own heart for too long which resulted in ensuring it was locked – therefore not broken. Self-protection ensuring I won’t get hurt, keeping people at arms length, not allowing a heart level relationship. Until I realized the more I guarded it, the more it isolated me.

It is simply not God’s will for us to be isolated, walled off, and invulnerable.

Guarding my heart is not about sparing me pain, but tending to the health of my soul.

We can often feel that vulnerability is what hurts our heart – could it be that by keeping our heart open and pure and being honest to ourselves, others and God that we set the ultimate guard in place? When we are vulnerable we are guarding through honesty, protecting ourselves with the garment of truth.

Ah yes…Truth.

I thank God that Jesus didn’t guard his heart, but poured it out. Let’s live our lives outward, as painful as it often is.

‘To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.’

CS Lewis, The Four Loves.

Thanks for reading,

Love, Michelle xo

 

 

 

 

The Worcestershire Way.

IMG_4021This week Phil and I walked the Worcestershire Way – from Bewdley to Malvern.  The first day should have been 16 miles but we did an accidental extra 4 and 15 the next.

A pilgrimage – date – retreat – marathon all in one – the delight of walking with the one you love. Creating a bubble in time, cutting through the busy, creating a thin place to reach heaven.

To spring clean the soul takes intention. 

Hope you enjoy our iPhone pics and a few musings from along the way.

The familiarity of Bewdley and the River Severn sent us on our way. The weather forecast was unusually spot on as the morning rain pelted on us as we made our way along the ‘coffins way’ to St. Anne’s church. We visited the church and dedicated ourselves, family, community and our walk to God.

The Way led us through farms and fields for miles as we left the pounding machine of life to a new rhythm, a rhythm of peace. Paths that told an ancient story.  Stories I remembered from my childhood ringing loud as the fields I walked were the fields Great Uncle Cyril had worked, ploughed and dug deep… in (only) his boots and hat.

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Onto the ancient woodlands of Oak and Ash, steep walks and the Abberley ridge. We were encouraged to trust the Way. It is easy to feel unsure how far you’ve gone at times and wonder whether you have missed a turning along the tunnel of trees, but we trust.

IMG_5667The woods chattered with delight, some like school children in the playground, others the sound of age as trees creaked at the force of high wind.

We reached the Manor Arms Hotel for lunch, to find they had stopped serving food. After a cup of English breakfast tea, a few olives and some pecans we were on way towards the Woodbury Quarry. Rolling wooded hills that held majesty and mysteries with views to the Welsh Mountains beyond.

At the top of the steep slope of Wasgrove Hill a strategic bench offered us a place to sit and enjoy the view.

IMG_5728Where sunlight brushed the landscape and changed the canvas of creation.

Where we recognised the change of our inner landscape, realizing the new that must come this spring, seeing the future and what must change.

Woodbury Quarry to Kingswood Common was our next leg, it was here we found ourselves in the shadow of an Iron Age fort, the markers had disappeared and I sank ankle deep in mud. A few miles of confusion led us back the right path as we walked through the blue hour alongside the River Teme.

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Onto our hotel for the evening, the Admiral Rodney, where an open fire and the jumboist, fishiest, jumbo fish ‘n’ chips and the familiar Martley accent welcomed us.

IMG_5661And in what seemed like the blink of an eye…

‘Would you like a Full English breakfast this morning travellers’? asked the landlady.

‘Naturally’ we replied. We were the last guests of the landlady of the pub as she was moving onto a new life.

Our first leg of the day took us to Knightwick. The fields and openness of our first day changed as we walked trails and coppices. Focus flowed as the steps grew.

Ankerdine hill and the River Teme led us through. The walk took on different processes as we dreamed, prayed and mind-surfed. Our next leg was Knightwick to Longley Green, passing through one of the most varied landscapes in Worcestershire. We enjoyed the closeness of lambs cheering us on as we walked. The rustle of the undergrowth following our steps. Bumblebees revving like Harley’s around our ears.

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Our destination slowly drew us and grew larger each step.

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A short detour through a pheasant filled forest led us on the track towards Longley Green, here the Nelson Arms and its new owners offered us lunch and the recommended pint of Worcestershire Way.

The next leg took us through orchards to Cowleigh Park. The Beauchamp fountain greeted us, as the fountain’s spring still flows from the pale turquoise tiles. It was here our path started to climb towards the Malverns.

We are now 29 miles in and the climb began – starting with 109 slightly torturous steps nestled between two cottages.

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Then… the ascent to the highest point of the Malvern Hills.

IMG_5722The hills we had aimed for, we now stood on. Blue skies and sunshine helped us see where we had come from, the Severn plain with its vast patchwork, the Vale of Evesham, the vales of the Cotswold’s and the Lickey Hills.

We completed the walk – happy that we still like each other even when the Way is boring, when we find ourselves lost in shadows and even stuck in mud. Happy that we find vision, clarity and purpose together. We ended with a great sense of achievement, and lighter, as we had cast off cares that had weighed us down, hindered us.

And as we walked – the season changed, and we declared it so.

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Happy Spring friends.

Love, Phil & Michelle.

‘See! The winter is past; 
the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth;
 the season of singing has come,
 the cooing of doves
is heard in our land. The fig tree forms it’s early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
 Arise, come, my darling;
 my beautiful one, come with me.’ Song of Solomon 2:11.