A Chat with my Blogging Muse.

Delicious Autumn!

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Thankfully my muse arrived for a chat…

So, Michelle, where have you been?

I could ask you the same question!

What happened to blogging everyday in October?

I had all good intentions until day six and realized the goal was unrealistic. We had a Phil’s 50th birthday to celebrate (I’m 44 – have I mentioned that?) The celebration began with an open house at our place for two days when 200 lovely church members dropped by to wish the main man a happy birthday. Great to connect with so many Willow Park people. Many cups of tea later we drove up to Sparkling Hill (on our own!) The celebrations continued with a week of fun times with friends and family. We quickly moved on to celebrate Josiah’s 9th birthday. Josiah did wonder why Phil was getting all the attention – after all 9 is a great age…

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AND during all the celebrations I had a 3000-word essay to complete.

So I did write everyday – I just didn’t blog everyday.

Remind us again of why you write…

Communication and connectedness are my strengths. I love to be able to weave and paint a picture with words. I am startled by beauty and the experience of finding grace everyday. I am predisposed to see the world sacramentally and I love to share these glimpses. I carry hope and for me writing is the best avenue for this. My ultimate passion is to tell other peoples stories of hope and of finding true faith in tough places.

I am reminded again today that to write well I must fully embrace living.

Live first, create second. Art is born from life.

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How is your creative writing degree?

It moves slowly, but doesn’t stop and that’s the main thing!

I have learned that writers need to be readers. That I can’t be a writer if I’m not a reader – writers teach us how to write – or how not to.

What are you reading?

I am currently reading for an essay I am writing.

‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed, ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer, ‘Walden’ by Thoreau and ‘Walking Home: The Poets Journey’ by Simon Armitage. Lots of creative non-fiction – I find myself on the pathways of the Pacific Crest Trail, the raw beauty of Alaska or crying with Chris McCandless mother on a green abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail. I have yet to join the poet on the Pennine Way.

Have you had time for anything else?!

Of course…

As you know my passion is our Hope Centre, we are currently re-imagining what this ministry looks like. Realizing what we are not as much as anything else, focusing on what we can do well and how we can best serve our wider community.

We just held another Encounter God – the God given vision to see a community transformed, made whole and living out a listening life is happening in our church.

This past week we attended the Hope International Development Agency Film Premiere and Dinner with our life long friend Lowell Sheppard who is Asia Pacific Director for HOPE. I was moved by the story of Chan whose life was changed by the provision of a water well though HOPE. She has seen the health of her family improve; her children attend education and food security in growing and selling vegetables. All through the gift of clean water. Her words ‘we now have everything we need’ on are on repeat in my mind.

Last night we met with a group of our adults who are passionate about prayer. It was a moment when God was smiling. A moment to mark as we discussed prayer rooms, a week of constant prayer in January and 21 day focused time of prayer and fasting. Watch this space!

What are you excited about?

Christmas of course! It’s the first time since we moved to Canada that we’ll be in Stourbridge (our hometown) for Christmas. I CANNOT WAIT to spend time with my loved ones.

So that’s me! Thanks for reading.

Praying that you’ll know God’s wrap around presence, protection and peace over your life.

Stay in touch,

Love, Michelle x

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.

Uproot for fruit.

This time last year I began NaNoWriMo, a month of daily writing towards a novel. I reached 7000 words and gave up. I love starting things…

This year I’m trying something different. NaBloPoMo.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

A blog a day to encourage and develop creativity and writing practice – and no doubt post pictures when my words fail. So, for those of you who have signed up for my blog posts. Thank you. Especially for your grace as my posts sweep daily through your inbox. I do hope you will benefit somewhat from my writing experiment.

Day One.

Last weekend was our Women’s Encounter God retreat. I have written about Encounter God in previous posts, click here for a more in-depth description. We are passionate about Jesus healing and freeing the whole person.

As Phil and I walked on Black Mountain on Monday I saw this.

IMG_3354If the root remains. So do the pains.

Last year I wrote a blog about roots, here’s a snippet:

‘A few years ago I went to a friend for counselling and prayer. A line of thought she shared with me has stayed close. It is this. As one woven by our Creator, we are all designed with specific roots of character which define us. What can happen is that the darkness, choices…. life’s events can take this God given root and twist it.

Here are some examples of twisted roots.

*You protect those around you with your silence over challenging behavior. Could this be your God given root of integrity is gnarled.

*You are bolshy, even arrogant. Has your root of boldness been twisted?

*You fear confrontation, you allow compromise. Has your root of being a peacemaker wandered?

*You are a bully. But God’s plan for you was inner strength.

These God given roots of characteristic need to be straightened, healed and freed.

Back to this week…

Then there are other roots, sin, pain, abuse, un-forgiveness of others and self – these need to be uprooted to bring transformation. If they are not uprooted, unhealthy growth occurs – those same patterns, behaviour and habits.

But how Michelle? How do I uproot? My own experience has been to revisit the pain. In going back to that place where the pain was formed. The 10 year old girl whose trust was betrayed. Revisiting that wound allowed me to fully forgive. I found that when the pain was revisited, I was able to not only forgive but also picture Jesus standing besides me while the wrong was taking place, and more importantly think about how He felt about what happened. That is when the healing came. This isn’t to revisit the same physical place but rather the memories a place in my mind where the pain took place.

And then following the uprooting, that wide, raw, gaping place. Jesus pours in His love…and we begin to change, forming new behaviour and habits.

‘Should we not see that our root is right, before expecting flowers and fruit?’ Scraps, Amy Carmichael

Uprooting, though painful, brings transformation.

Encounter God is not a ‘one weekend fixes all’ event, how could it?

Encounter God gives us the tools to live in a daily place of confession, repentance and deliverance. With one another – in community.

If we confess our sins to God, we are forgiven but James 5:16 says ‘confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’

As ever, the stories that came from this retreat were beautiful, many healings – especially when people forgave themselves.

IMG_3346A Golden Fleece in Black Mountain.

 Verses to encourage you:

 ‘You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world’ Matthew 5:8

‘But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, 
the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
 putting down roots near the rivers. Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
 never dropping a leaf,
 serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.’ Jeremiah 17:8

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Colossians 2:7 

And a final challenge…

‘If we are to be anything, we must bury ourselves deeply, and let Jesus take complete control.’ Andy Donaldson, Church Planter, Theologian.

See you tomorrow!

Michelle xoxo

Friday Faves: New things.

It’s new…It’s Friday Faves!

A mash up of my faves of the week. Photos, snippets, books, quotes etc – you get the idea. Hopefully, there will be something for everyone. Particularly for those friends and family who, for the most part haven’t a clue what I am writing about.

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I started my new module. Focusing on dialogue, script and screenplay. Loving the subject and having the actors staying with us this week – bonus!

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Josiah learned to ski!

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I tried snowshoeing  (accompanied by the famous DR)

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Phil – When in Canada!

Loved Searchlight’s show ‘Chariot’. Their idea of using church based actors worked brilliantly – particularly with our talented bunch at Willow Park.

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Love this pic from the show. Check out more of Chad’s work at ChadPerryPhotography

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And…as the Big White cloud cleared.

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A new cloud appeared. 

Praying. 

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Enjoy your weekend!

Love, Michelle xoxo