On Doughnuts, Being present and Sunsets

It’s Spring Break in Canada. That time when the Collins Clan (-2) load up their coracle (or Honda Odyssey) and see where the wind blows.

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Our first stop was the Moda Centre in Portland, Oregon, to spend a mortgage payment on cheesy nachos and pop and watch the Portland Trailblazers v Cleveland Cavaliers. This game was a big deal! I decided to cheer for the winning Blazers, although, all credit to Lebron crushing a right-handed dunk, drawing gasps from the sold-out arena. They were almost as noisy as our own Heritage School supporters.

We’ve haven’t spent much time in Portland, so, before we continued our journey we caught the MAX light rail into the city and explored for the morning. It was 10.30am and we noticed restaurants rammed with diners – turns out brunch is a big deal in Portland. We decided there was only one place for our brunch and lined up for 30 minutes at the Voodoo doughnut shop – quite the quirky, gliittered walls, cash only, pink experience. We even got to the meet the well-known owner Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson.

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Onto some tax-free shopping and a whole bowl (redemptive) lunch in the square, listening to stories of Bill, and his long history of martial arts, his children, and his knowledge of Jesus. Security moved Bill on as his perceived harassment was an issue.

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As of January 2015, Multnomah County, which includes most of the city, had 3,801 homeless people. Some in temporary, others transitional with more than 1,800 are “unsheltered”—that is, sleeping under bridges, in parks, and on sidewalks. Grateful that Portland has several organisations supporting the homeless,  Portland Rescue Mission, Union gospel mission, R2D2 (right to dream too) 

Our journey continued on Highway 26 to Cannon Beach. With eyes wide open, absorbing the scenery and catching our breath, open fields became tree-lined roads, where we admired the fluorescent green, moss wrapped trees. We were brought to an abrupt stop as one of the first on the scene of a horrific car accident. Phil was able to communicate with emergency services, prise open crumpled cars and help the injured out of their vehicles. The sounds and sights you don’t want anyone to experience or witness. Emergency services eventually arrived and we drove on.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their 19-year-old, Kendra and Grandpa, and for those who were airlifted to hospital.

We arrived at our little lodge awaited us in Cannon Beach, the Bible open on my bedside to Psalm 104. Everything I am will praise and bless the Lord! O Lord, my God, your greatness takes my breath away, overwhelming me by your majesty, beauty, and splendor! You wrap yourself with a shimmering, glistening light. You wear sunshine like a garment of glory. You stretch out the starry skies like a tapestry…

….later we walked on the beach with Josiah asking questions, mostly about God being with people in their last moments, and eternity.

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And as the sun began to set, the verse unfolded before us, and we stopped, thankful that God promises to be near, He knows the beginning from the end and every breath we will take.

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You are Loved!

Michelle xo

*all pics mine 😉

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…**

 

It’s a YES from me!

Hi friends, 

I read this quote recently, ‘put your YES on the table and let God put it on the map.’

I immediately thought of two significant YES moments.

The obvious being YES to Canada seven and a half years ago;  then there was this moment.

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I’m 22 years old, sitting under the African sun, the air is smoky as fires crackle outside homes along the roadside. I’m writing, not only saying yes to God, but to a place. To a mission and a lifelong love of a ministry. I remember wanting to go Africa the day I said yes to Jesus, anywhere in Africa! I’d tried to get there through various charities but it didn’t happen immediately. A ‘yes’ doesn’t mean we click our fingers and it happens. A few years later I went with a good friend to Living Waters to Mwanza, Tanzania. I remember more than one person saying to me ‘how do you think those poor Africans feel, you white people coming and going.’

Fair question?

Back to my journalling. I’m 22. I’m saying yes and ‘Lord, can my yes stay here, not necessarily live here, but commit to this group of people?’

And now 23 journals later, I am still staying yes, to the same place and people. My yes joined the unwavering yes of the ‘good friend’ I traveled with – oh and we’ve been married 19 years, he’s a veryyyyy good friend.

When my 14 year old Bella sent me a photo of her first African sunset over Lake Victoria a few weeks ago…

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…my heart beat faster, as it does when Emily’s eyes light up when she talks about Mwanza. Then came more pictures, and videos of laughter,  of movie nights and colouring and games with the children (we like to call it family night) and then the pics of helping in school, teaching ABC’s and 123’s.

Phil was able to spend quality time with Living Water’s staff, teachers and friends, looking into familiar faces and smiles, of newly weds or of new parents or into the eyes of those heavy with grief. 

To find a charity, a tribe, a ministry, a community you can invest in outside of your own comfortable world, whether one mile or ten thousand away – this is Jesus living, the way of the kingdom. For us it’s a blessing to board four flights and travel across the world to be with family. We love our Living Waters family – Carolyn, Agricola, Happiness, Lillian, Goodluck, Baby Agnes, Joyce, Doris, Fred and many, many more! 

You might remember a trip I took three years ago – I wrote about it, here and here  (this one was my favourite)  A friend on our team, Cathleen who lives in Kelowna, said YES too – to something she had no experience of, yet felt a call and passion to run with.

The dream to build a secondary school!

Three years later Phil and Bella were able to see Living Waters Secondary school close to completion. An inspiring, innovative project built from shipping containers! WOW! Follow the journey of the school here.

What are you saying YES to today that will live longer than you?

Have a great weekend,

Love, Michelle xo

P.S.  Thank you Carolyn for saying YES in the beginning!

 

Journeying Home

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My Nanny Rose passed away last week. I know. How can this be? Nanny Rose. Perpetual 40 year old. She was a wonderful Nan, tall, beautiful. Strong.

On the day she passed I admired my favorite artist at work with the orange sky.

In another direction the early evening offered the sunlit moon.

I grabbed my camera, because I love to capture and went off sunset hunting.

Some chase storms, I chase sunsets.

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In this I thought of Rosie, and all of the sunsets she had seen in her life. Faithful. Constant.

I looked up to the hills where I saw the remnants of  fire.

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And that image was the one that struck me most.

Yes the world still turns, fiery sunsets faithfully happen and the same bright moon rises.

 But the flame of Rosie lives on and burns in each of our hearts.

We live on with a wonderful legacy of how to do family well, of knowing how to celebrate, and an unconditional love which supported and accepted us all.

There is nowhere in the world I would have wanted to be last week other than Stourbridge.

So I flew home to be with my family.

Tears flowed as quickly as laughter came as this cycle found its way round many times.

I walked into Nan’s house and enjoyed catching up with her lifetime scattered throughout. I touched Nan’s stuff, those things, trinkets and ornaments and pictures that make Nan’s house what it is.

This time differently though,  through the eyes of grief. I savored that moment.

And as we gathered to say goodbye, we did it as only our family could do. Close.

With my lovely brothers shouting shotgun as they got in the funeral car.

With my Mom admiring the flowers and not knowing that Nan was part of a cards club. Then realizing she was looking at another’s flowers.

With all the people, who you don’t see for years, but who played a beautiful part in our Rosie’s story.

As she did ours.

So here I am at 4am. Jetlag laughing at my confused state.

I soon flew home again. To be with my family.

Home – there’s no place like it right?

And now. The home of all homes.

The eternal destination or as Lewis puts it ‘the secret signature of the soul’.

I am sure of our heavenly home is within reach, the one we all journey towards –  we glimpse – yet can’t quite grasp it. But our homesick hearts know it is there.

Until one day… when we will not only see it, but taste, feel, hear and experience it.

So, until then, I ask. ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.

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Dedicated to Charlotte Rose Homer. My Nan.

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” ― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle.

Thank you for reading, you are loved,

Michelle xoxo