All about the bass or don’t change for love.

Disclaimer: I believe that everyone is on a journey in life. For some it’s mental health, some spiritual, some physical, some emotional. Basically we are all in progress. While we are in the process we need to remember that we are enough, the way we are. Also, there are some parts of us we cannot change, where we are from, what happened in the past, or our ancestry. Please read the following with that in mind.

1d6df9a12dc97cf0d1564262a4c5e803

Last weekend I competed in a booty challenge. Okay, so let’s clarify this and please keep reading. My amazing, gorgeous friend of African decent challenged me to basically shake my butt. In Public. In front of boys.

I did.

Did I think it through? Did I philosophise over it? No, but I did pause briefly and think whether I should be doing it and I went for it! It was fun. We laughed, we shook our tushes and we just had a good time. It showed a piece of the slightly crazy girl I can be…

Being an ex-pat I am constantly aware of how different I am. As much as we do not want to admit it, we consistently make judgements and assumptions based on everything from nationality, to accent, to physical appearance. I have experienced it all. It never makes it any easier. Whether we like it or not it it is how society functions. In order to keep things simple we ask questions like, where are you from or what do you do? These things shape “who we are” to others.

I’m writing this blog because my heart is breaking. In the not-so-distant past I have had too many conversations from too many people (both men and women) who are in some way not happy about who they are.

The reason?

Someone has said no to dating them or equally so, they have not been out on many, if any dates recently. Some of these have been explicitly because this person had something “different” about them to what the other person felt was okay for them. Some reasons truly shallow and others, well, each of us have the right to date who we like, this is not the issue I am addressing. I am not going to spend the remainder of this blog post on the dating scene, particularly the Christian dating scene, that’s not my purpose here. I am addressing the fact that these circumstances have seemingly lessened who a person is, to themselves.

My purpose is to remind you of this: 

You are enough.

My very wise pastor Gary Clarke once said, the person you are meant to marry will likely be the person to whom you look over one day, (as you run with and toward your purpose and goals), who is running beside you. So just keep focused on those (and Jesus), and maybe look over once in awhile. You might be surprised.

There’s a great song out currently called “All about the bass” by Meghan Trainor. Some of the lyrics go like this:

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ‘em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Trainor’s lyrics specifically talk about body image and I love the line which goes “I see the magazine working’ that Photoshop, We know that shit ain’t real, C’mon now, make it stop”.

We need to stop the photoshopping of who we are.

Remember, maybe the girls will only remember, that movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts? That girl didn’t know how she liked her eggs because she always said she liked the kind of eggs that the man she was dating liked.

By the end of the movie she sat with 30 plates of eggs in front of her, trying to figure out what SHE loved.

The truth is that we were created very uniquely, we all like our eggs differently, or not at all.

Psalm 139:13-16 states,

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

You are created to be who you are. God knew your body shape, he created your personality, he knew the struggles you would have, the talents, the dreams. He knew that you would move across countries or stay in your home town. He knew that maybe you need a little help with getting motivated or that the person who would one day hold your hand in marriage would need to be just as driven as you were.

So then why do we always look at ourselves, criticise our lives when we have not yet found “the one”? It needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

If someone doesn’t like that you come from a particularly country, forget them. If someone calls you intimidating (yep, seriously), then forget it. If someone doesn’t like that you have a fabulous booty, forget it!

When I have a moment, frustrated waiting for the love of my life I think about a couple things…

First, I find it unattractive if a person is not pursuing life with passion and drive, we have one life, why waste any of it?

Second, why would I waste energy being someone I am not.

Third, a very dear friend of mine once said to me “M, I hope that one day a man recognises the woman you are and who you will be, and doesn’t let you go”. I could trust this man to have my best interest at heart, and so I treasure those words.

In someways the third piece of advice is what I want you to remember the most…

There will be someone who loves you not despite your booty, your drive and your love of sushi. Okay, a bit specific but you get it. Right? Being in a relationship is difficult. It is work. I am sure that marriage is 100 times more difficult (at least that’s what my friends who are married say). Why would we want to sleep by someone who doesn’t love ALL of you? Really. LIKE SERIOUSLY!?

stop, breathe and go out and be fabulous. It’s the single most attractive thing out there: Someone living their life passionately, fully and with purpose.

Update: I also want to add that until you love yourself, no relationship, even between friends is really going to work…but that’s the next post…

 

To Honour her Legacy

love is new

My beautiful Oma passed away a few months ago and today, as I washed the blanket she carefully crocheted for me just ten years ago I was reminded of the lessons she left me. In the last couple of years of my Oma’s life I saw her less and less, but I came to realize more and more how much I was like her. Perhaps this is the reason that we butt heads so often…our fiery, stubborn personalities were what bonded us and created tension all at once.
Personality aside, I learned a lot from Oma  and I reckon the world needs more people like her so here are a few pieces of My Oma…

1) Even the pennies count: I can be guilty of spending money simply for the pleasure of a good cup of coffee or that feeling of a brand new, snugly sweater. However, my Oma, a pastor’s wife and a child of war understood, sometimes to a fault, the value of money. While she too loved beautiful things she also picked up literally EVERY penny.
She knew that money had value and that we should not wasted anything. Her habit of picking up every penny meant that we all always had our favourite chocolate or treat waiting at Oma’s house.

Which leads me to the next point…

2) Value every one individually: Although Oma had 4 kids and a plethora of grandkids, most of which are female, she understood that we all needed different things. Oma knew that spending time with me, cuddling on the couch spoke to my love languages. She understood that always having Opa’s favourite cologne or jam spoke to his needs. Even in death Oma was prepared. Just days after her promotion to heaven Opa, with tears in his eyes spoke to me of how he found his favourite jars of jam stacked up in the cupboard, waiting for him, as if she knew she was going.
Oma knew that we all need different things in life, whether it was a hug or are favourite cookies Oma understood the power of loving individually.

 

3) The power of the living word: Oma never got out of bed without spending time with God and his Word. Whenever I stayed at Oma and Opa’s house we would read our devotions and pray together. I never felt like I could conquer the world more on those days and when I did feel a bit weak I remembered Oma would have spent time praying for me that morning. I was covered. She taught us that no matter the circumstance we were in God was there for you, through prayer or his words.

 

4) Honesty: My grandparents could fight! I think my aunt and I got all our fiery spirit from my Oma. I didn’t know her as a mom, I knew her as a grandma, something very different than what Oma may have been like as a young woman…However, Oma was never dishonest. She told you and everyone else what she thought, but because she loved you, you knew it was okay. Oma was the only person who told me that my ex wasn’t the person for me. She was quiet but firm and I appreciated it now (not so much then I can tell you…). Her desire for truth and direct attitude showed me that in this world that’s the only way to live. Why be anything you are not? What do you gain by not being truthful.

 

5) What love is: Okay, so Oma is not the only one who taught me this lesson, many people have contributed to this very important lesson…but Oma showed me in ways only a grandmother can…
In how she got up early to peel grapefruit for ALL the grandkids.

In how she made us all “Oma cookies” for every birthday.

The way she stayed up and sang me to sleep when I was afraid.

The way she honoured my Opa and the calling to ministry they had on each of their lives.

Love is not only a choice but it is also truly practical. You can say I love you all you want but it’s only in your actions that love is truly felt.

I don’t know where my life will take me or whom I will share it with, but no matter who crosses my path I hope that I can carry on the legacy of love shared with me and all those whose lives she touched.

Day by Day or “how hard it is not to worry…”

b05a2a226fb756f38cafc55d9249cc97-e1390762115720

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

Approximately two and a half years ago I began to feel like my life, as I knew it was over, it was changing. It was what I now recognise as a time where God was changing my heart and preparing me for the next season. I can recall sitting in my wee studio apartment in southwest London crying because I could not understand why I felt so restless and yet so scared of change.

It was about 10 months later when I was sat in my new apartment in Stockholm that I could see all that God had been doing. Why was I ever concerned?

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. -Romans 1:20 

In just over seven weeks I will be in a position for God, with all his eternal power and divine nature, to do amazing miracles in my life. I literally have no plan as to what I will do next, except to find a job that I am passionate about or re-start a few old projects of mine. Aside from being able to food and clothe myself, I’m ready for life to take me where I will best show the greatness of a God that wants the world to see how loved they are.

However, in my humanity I still worry some days and get scared about finding a job in a country I’m still not fluent in the language…so, my daily reminder is to stand in the belief that as I go by my day-by-day he will make the way, he will carve out my path.

“People are without excuse”

I am without excuse, my life is His.

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?  I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.
That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past. -Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

I was listening to a podcast this morning, about God’s will for our lives. He was talking about worrying about decisions we will make, from dating or getting married to selling a business or moving. The speaker quoted Colossians 3:17 which says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So, that’s it…do everything in His name.

He will guide me.

He will open doors no man can shut.

The future is in His hands.

For Love overcomes all fear

Image

I’m not exactly what you call, shy. Really? The girl who writes about her entire life and puts it out for the world to see…shy? Never…

Even at ten years old, when my fellow classmates were asked to describe me in a class exercise I got a lot of “can get whatever she wants” and “is nice” but shy was definitely not an adjective to describe me.

Then why, when it comes to certain aspects of my life, particularly when it relates being interested in someone it is that exact word I’ve used of late to describe how I feel or why I’m not more obvious or direct with what I may feel towards someone. When asked why I don’t just come out and be direct with someone about how I feel, I often justify away by saying “that’s not how I was raised” or “girls do not pursue” and while these things are true for me, I think that it’s more than that.

It’s fear. It’s fear that it won’t work out.

It’s a huge risk to say “Hey, look at me. Choose me.”

Although I use the example of romance, this is true in so many situations, when applying for a new job, when thinking about starting your own company. Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable takes courage. When you ask someone to choose you, in whatever situation it’s scary. Fundamentally, when there’s ever a moment in your life where you don’t know what’s next and you simply need to take a giant leap (or maybe even a small step) it is far too easy to be ruled by fear.

I’ve learned that unfortunately it’s often because of past experiences we are filled with fear in future situations. Rejection, humiliation or even allowing the wrong people to speak into your life can set us on a path of destruction and fear that God never meant for us to be on. Sometimes it’s just even a situation or circumstance that was completely out of your control, and now you can’t shake the memory.

For me, it was a good relationship gone bad, where I was told that everything that made him want to be with me originally, was everything he detested and couldn’t handle in the end. I was too much. It made me fear being myself completely and showing someone my heart.

It paralysed me and eventually I got through it. I’m so not proud of that time in my life, but thankfully God uses all things for good and from it I learned a few things…

1. God created us not with a spirit of fear but that of a sound mind.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7

Yes, there’ll be moments when you can feel fear, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have the power to change our thoughts and not allow it to rule us.

2. When it comes to my life I only ever want what God wants for me. Whether it’s a relationship, a job or a friendship…a move to a new country *cough Sweden cough*

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

He has plans for you…He has plans for me. Ultimately, whatever my life looks like all I want to do is glorify God and show His love to the world. Why would you want to live a life that wasn’t meant to be yours? Why would you want to chase anything situation, be it a man or a position in a company that wasn’t totally completely enamoured by you? It takes too much energy to be in a place where the fit isn’t right.

2. He created me (and you) uniquely and the world (and probably a certain someone) needs that person.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139

Whatever it is, a relationship or a job or a part in a play. Our gifts, talents and personality were created for a purpose on purpose. We cannot let fear dictate our steps. We were made in His image. You are wonderful! Of course we all have things to work on, I mean, life is a journey, but you are amazing, learn to love yourself.

3. God wants us to live our lives in Him and through His strength, not our own.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. -Phil 4:13

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. -Isaiah 40:29

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. -Psalm 119:28

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We’re not doing this life alone. God is always with you, in all situations, stop, breathe and take it to him…He will give you everything you need to do life well.

So, what I’ve been practicing and that which I am still learning to do in all situations (control issues much?) is to keep my heart and my mind focused on Him. I know that the plan for my life is good and if my heart is set on the right path then I don’t have to be afraid to show the real me…

Right now, for me, after I turn in my thesis the world is a blank slate and I know that…the BEST is yet to come.

 

30 things

30 Things

It’s only a few days until my birthday and in the midst of all the thesis writing, getting ready for parties and Easter I wanted to take a moment and write what I’ve learned over the last few years.

I’m not about posts that tell everyone else how to live their lives or give you a three-point system to being successful, happy, loved, content etc. I am, however, a big fan of sharing…I believe that the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is not only true, but also something that never changes. It’s not without the wisdom, trials, advice and celebrations of others that I would have already made it this far.

With this in mind, before the date changes over and I’m well and truly into my 30s here are 30 things that I have learned…I would love for you to add to this list and share what you think too!

Note: there’s no order in this list…no importance, no rating…just lessons.

1. Life is about balance…whether it’s in health, in relationships, or in how much time you spend staring at your smart phone, we all need balance in our lives. Without balance there’s a good chance you will go mad (crazy). If something feels off, check if something is taking too much of your energy or devotion and change your priorities.

2. There only two constants in your life: you & God. If it’s one lesson I have learned is that no one, not even your parents are going to be a constant in your life. Although we’re designed to be in community, in relationship, we need to ensure that we take care of our relationship with ourselves and God first. If these are in place you can serve the world from a much better, and healthier, position.

3. People are mean. Face it, you’re mean, i’m mean. Thankfully, most of the time it’s only a moment and driven by emotion or maybe just not eating a snack (can we talk about “hanger”?). Get over it. If you were mean to someone, apologise and move on. If you’ve been hurt…deal with it. Holding onto that which is negative really can kill you.

4. People are often just curious. SO STOP TELLING EVERYONE EVERYTHING. Honestly, I spent too much of my 20s justifying why I didn’t want to go to this party or that event. I told too many people what I was feeling or who I may have been interested in. It’s none of anyone’s business and often “care” is curiosity!

5. You cannot control anything but your decisions and subsequent actions. This is the big lesson I learned in my 20s. I tried to make my life like a chess game. Life isn’t chess…Life is Twister, Snakes and Ladders and often even Solitaire. You can’t figure out what’s going to happen or try to manipulate the situation. Your best bet is to learn to simply respond with grace and maturity to anything that comes your way…it will all fall into place.

6. Thankful is the only attitude you need. This may come across as odd, I really believe that if you do anything with love you will have the best life, but with that, out of that comes and attitude of gratitude; a thankful heart. I have learned that if we constantly look for something to be grateful for then life becomes a lot lighter and people actually want to be around you.

7. I am unique…and so are you. Life is not one size fits all. Aside from the simple (and yet often hard to grasp) lesson that we are all on our own journeys, this is more a practical statement. You are going to wear a different clothes size then the girl standing next to you. You may be better at football than your flatmate but he can rip you to shreds on a surf board. You may need to stay away from meat but you love pasta. Find what makes you healthy and strong and go with that…

8. If you knew what was ahead you would cry, scream, throw a fit, want it so bad that you would mess it up. I remember a message that Christine Caine once spoke, she said that if we knew that we were going to be in 5, 10 or even 20 years you would either become too proud to get there or too scared and fall in a crumbled mess. I love that looking back I can see the thread that got me where I am today. We really need each day to get to the next…give yourself grace to get there in the right time.

9. Water is the best drink. Fact.

10. God really does love you. This is an entire blog post in itself or maybe even a long conversation over a cup of coffee, but it’s true. He loves you and wants you to know that.

11. Cultivating a “Jesus heart” is the only way to live life. This has been my 2014 challenge, a real, “What would Jesus do” kind of challenge. So far, it’s well…hard but the results have been amazing…I’ll keep you updated.

12. Expectations of others only ever bring pain. It’s that simple, when we put expectations into a situation, we’re trying to control the outcome. Just let it go (cue the soundtrack from Disney’s Frozen).

13. God truly opens doors no one can shut and shuts those no one can open. A few months ago I prayed that God would show me the direction a relationship was going. I think God knows that I don’t easily give in to situations because within days he slammed a door shut so hard I didn’t even want to open it…Ask. He’ll show you.

14. People rely on me. And people rely on you…let your yes be yes and your no be no. Be of good character and do it out of love.

15. Influence is not about position. When you have had a title and then not had a title this lesson is a lot clearer, but I learned that my actions, really my life, are always being watched. I will guarantee you that you have someone who is looking up to you to see what you are doing or how you will react. Treat that responsibility with a lot of respect, you never know who’s life you can change for the better (or worse).

16. You will never please everyone; so stop trying.

17. I’m a mess without God, sleep, healthy food, exercise and a balance of alone time and social time. My darling friend Sarah used to be the best at checking me on these things. If I called her, broken down, she would run through a list of questions before she asked me “what was wrong”…I learned to do a self-check when life seemed a bit too heavy. If all of the above were in place and I still felt off…something was really wrong.

18. Living an outward focused life only brings joy. I don’t smoke, never have, but a friend of mine told me that when she smoked her life was always full of more anxiety. When I questioned why, she noted that when she lit a cigarette, she would have time to mull over the issues in her life. She would become inwardly focused and her anxiety would rise…even if she hadn’t been anxious in the first place. Sure, we have to care for ourselves, but when I try and live with others in mind suddenly life doesn’t seem so heavy.

19. Puppies can make anyone smile…yeah…just try and look at a puppy and not be happy. I dare you.

20. Friends become family. Having lived away from home since I was 18 I have come to value my friends with high regard. They are truly the family you get to choose. Choose wisely and be a good friend.

21. Other people’s choices and actions reflect on them, not you. I often take things to heart. The best lesson I was taught is that most often, what others do, is not a reflection on you, but on what’s going on inside of them, or maybe simply how bad their day was. If you’re really concerned, talk to them…otherwise move on.

22. Do everything with passion. If you hate what you do change it or figure out a part that you can be passionate about and cultivate that.

23. Surround yourself with passionate people…boring people lead boring lives. You get one, make it count.

24. Appreciate people for who they are, not what you need them to be. Once I stopped wanting people to fulfil a particular aspect in my life it all became a lot easier (probably for them too).

25. Once in a while, eat ice cream even if it makes you sick. Maybe ice cream isn’t your thing, but it goes back to balance. I am soooo allergic to ice cream and it’s not going to help my health, but once in a while…just because I really want it, I eat it…feel a bit sick, but just enjoy the moment and realise that it’s not going to kill me. (if you’re allergic to peanuts, please do not try this at home). You get the gist though right? It all goes back to balance.

26. Understanding a second, third, fourth language brings more than communication, it brings understanding. If there’s one lesson I have learned about living in a country that I have no linguistic connection to, is that language is more about words, it is about culture. The more I think about the language, the way people communicate, the more I understand the culture I live in.

27. Leadership shows mainly in the quiet and small things. In order to lead in life your actions don’t always have to be big, you don’t always have to be the centre of attention. Leadership is most often shown in the way that we do our every day.

28. No matter how old you get, you’ll always feel 12 when you go home to family…enjoy it.

29. Spend a lot of time in the sunshine. My new favourite thing is to get up early on the days i’m not going to the gym and go for a run. Often in Sweden (in the Spring) it’s really sunny first thing then may cloud over…those first few rays of Vitamin D are nature’s medicine.

30. You really do become like the people you surround yourself with…be aware. I was taught that you should constantly evaluate who you are allowing to speak into your life and who you spend time with. Not only will you become like the people you are with, but who they are will reflect on what others think of you. Choose wisely.

And as a bonus…

31. Take each day as it comes…don’t get through a day, feel it, experience it, love it…and don’t worry so much about what comes next.

 

Faith through the storm–to my Oma

risk 1

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do for you…

Those words ring through my memories, off-key and accented, but beautiful nonetheless.

I was under five years old and almost, most definitely, terrified of lightning. It’s amusing now because as I’ve grown up, I have also grown to love thunder and lightning storms. Perhaps it’s because of that song and the memories of a child, scared in an attic room, that I am so comforted by the same sight and sounds now. The thunder and lightning fuel my faith rather than frighten me in my humanity.

I used to spend summers in Toronto with my grandparents. Being very humid and very hot and all that scientific stuff, Ontario is known for crazy summer storms. I would lay in bed, in my grandparents home, stricken with fright. Crying until, that is, my Oma would come find me and snuggle up in bed with me.

Oma is a powerhouse. She’s a petite fireball. There isn’t a memory that I have that doesn’t contain Oma talking about God or praying. Oh…and chocolate…Oma loves chocolate. Her home, as far as I can remember, always has a pantry FULL of chocolate and open to everyone.

My Oma is sick now. We’re not sure what’s happening, we know there’s no cancer in her blood or lungs, but we’re still not sure what’s happening with the mass in her stomach. Most people can’t imagine what someone else would feel like in her situation, but I can.

You see, for all our faults, my Oma and I are more alike than I sometimes care to admit. We feel so deeply that it hurts, we love more passionately and with more heart than sometimes I think people should. Her faith, my faith, are so important to us. We HATE when people don’t understand our point of view. We also have the worst tell. If we aren’t, let’s just say a fan of someone in our company, maybe that person makes us feel uncomfortable, it’s obvious. The chatterboxes we are disappear and our body language becomes stagnant. It’s like pulling teeth from a shark to make us talk. We live our lives fully for others, we enjoy our time away from everyone. She left her family for love, to move to a country far away, to have a better life, to live with her best friend. Sometimes I think that if Oma had been born closer to my age we would have gone on a lot of adventures together. Sometimes I think that if I had been born when she did, I would have left my family for love to. I think I still would.

The one thing that Oma has taught me and continues to teach me is about faith and conviction. Though we don’t always agree on some of the legalities of our beliefs (she definitely wishes I never got inked), Oma has taught me faith and courage of conviction. She stands up for what is right, what is the truth. She stands up for her family, for the ones who have less, the ones who can’t fight for themselves. She doesn’t stand for injustice and her grace, her grace is much more than I ever imagine I could give.

I’m far away and sometimes it’s hard to know that I may not see her again. I mean, even before this health scare that was a possibility. There are a lot of people I may never see again…I don’t know. However, I know that, knowing why I have walked my own path, that, even if she wants me near her, she allows me to do what God wants me to do and covers me in prayer.

So back to those nights, those loud, thunder-filled nights…Oma would crawl into my bed and sing me to sleep.

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

And now…

That God, the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever…that God who is so strong and so mighty…we’re believing that He’s maybe not ready to have Oma preaching at Him in Heaven. We’re believing that whatever is attacking her body will be rid of and she will have many more years with her family. I mean, who’s going to make sure that the right guy marries me? Oma will have a say…

And if not, whatever happens…Oma’s legacy will live on in the faith that she has installed in all of the lives she touches and continues to touch.

This is to my Oma…Your God is so great, there’s nothing He won’t do for you.

Make you feel my love (or, A Simple Message)

The days had just turned, from bright, sunny and warm to stark, cool with just a hint of frost in the air. I stood at the window in my kitchen, staring into the courtyard.

When the rain is blowing in your face and the whole world is on your case

I could offer you a warm embrace to make you feel my love

Warm liquid hit my hands as I looked down and realized that tears were falling down my cheeks onto my now still hands.

When the evening shadows and the stars appear and there is no one there to dry your tears

I could hold you for a million years to make you feel my love.

 It had been a hard week. Dealing with issues that had come up of rejection I no longer knew how to cope. I was doing what every good German girl does (or so my Oma says), I was cleaning to deal. I was cleaning to cope.

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet

But I would never do you wrong

I’ve known it from the moment

That we met no doubt in my mind

Where you belong

Those words tore into my rejected heart. Years of pain built up, as I listened to the voice of a girl from Essex belt out a love song.

But it didn’t feel like a love song from a woman to a man. It felt stronger, deeper and much more than simple words.

I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue and I’d go crawling down the avenue

You Know there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17″For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

 Jesus. My God. My savior, my Lord, nailed to the cross because I was loved, am loved, so much that He died for me. He died for you.

The storms are raging on the rolling sea and on the highway of regret

The winds of change are blowing wild and free

You ain’t seen nothing

Like me yet.

There are days that are good. There are days that are absolutely incredible. There are days where I sit on the bathroom floor wishing that I still wasn’t dealing with the pain.

There are days that will be awful and there will be days that will incredible.

There will always be “days”.

However, bigger, strong and more powerful than a day is one the we call Messiah, Yahweh, Lord Almighty, El-Shaddai.

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true

Nothing that I wouldn’t do

Go to the ends of the Earth for you

To make you feel my love, To make you feel my love

He’s longing for you like he longs for me.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 His message is simple. He loves.

Don’t Rush the season

Today I wore the wrong clothes. WOW.

What a profound way to start the first blog post I have written in a few months.

side note: I spent the last few months swimming, running, spending time with friends, going to concerts and being on holiday. I can only say that this summer has been a blessing that I did not realise I needed.

But back to today. Today it was 19 degrees and for some reason I felt that UGG boots, jeans and a thick sweater were appropriate. You see, I want autumn to come. Stockholm has had the most amazing weather for the last few months and then, having spent most of August in France I grew accustom to 39c (95F) days and barely cooler nights (and thankfully, most of the time access to my own pool). I came back to Stockholm and expected, with classes beginning, to be presented with foggy mornings, cooler days and brisk evenings. I wanted to wear layers and boots and clothes that I could cuddle up in. Is that what happened?

No.

It’s still almost 20+ degrees every day and I can’t accept that. I want autumn now and therefore dressed accordingly. However, I pretty much spent most of the day overheated and consequently in a strange mood (probably because my body thought I was trapped in a desert grave and was going to suffocate to death).

I was rushing through the season. 

I’m pretty convinced that in a couple months, when the snow is everywhere and I’m wearing 4 layers of clothes that I will look back and wonder why I wanted to be cold so badly.

It’s like that in so many aspects of our lives. We’re in elementary school, so we want to be in High school. We’re single, we want to be dating, we’re dating we want to be engaged, we’re engaged we want to be married etc etc. Or perhaps it’s that we’re in school and we want our first job.

Whatever it might be, it’s almost as if the season we’re in is never enough.

Here’s my season. I’m finishing up my MSc and I’m free to pretty much do whatever projects I want. I’m writing a book, i’m starting a company, I’m privileged enough to get to work with the youth at church and really build into their lives. I’m also able to meet all new people as living in Stockholm only a year means there are so many new people to meet.

I’m in a pretty free season.

You know what freedom like this brings?

Time.

And time…time allows me to think.

And for a planner.

Well, that can be pretty bad. 
Except that for the first time in my life (really, truly), i’m not planning. I’m LOVING the season I am in and enjoying the time I have. I am actually not wanting to rush this season.

Christine Caine, speaking at an event I was at, stated that women are pregnant for 40 weeks for a reason. If the baby is born too early or too late, then complications happen. In one case it’s not developed completely and in fact, can lead to some pretty serious damage.

I don’t know what the next season of my life holds but I do know this. I want to ensure that I don’t rush this current season. I want to meet the people I’m supposed to, develop those relationships the way they should. I want to be faithful with the time God has blessed me with and use it correctly. I want to develop the skills I am and put all the effort I can into the work I need so that, when the time comes, for all these things or for the next season I haven’t rushed and under or overdeveloped any. one. thing.

God gave us seasons for a reason. His timing, His plan is perfect. Not one thing will happen out of it’s time so why rush the season?

Ecclessiastes 3 says…

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,

A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,

A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What profit remains for the worker from his toil?

10 I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s heartsand minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live…

 

So, whether your season is good, bad or even really horribly ugly…don’t rush.

celebrate.

learn.

plan.

grieve.

fall in love.

learn a skill.

Just don’t rush.

Lost in the moment

Today is one of those days I want to be sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and snuggled up to the man I love.

 

Except that I know I have to be careful with what I say.

5 years from now I’ll probably be texting you saying, “Help, the kids are crying, the hubby wants dinner and I would love to be sitting on that couch, in solitude”

 

That was a text I sent one of my best friends last week. I was feeling sick and just wanted to be taken care of and quite frankly, be sharing my life with someone. (When I’m ill I have a tendency towards the mellow dramatic…I use the phrase “when I’m ill” loosely).

So last night I did just that. I made pasta (apparently my increase in running is making me actually want the stuff), put on one of my favourite girly movies, lit some candles and found a blanket. The flat mate is out and I am alone.

AND I LOVE IT.

So many of you may be thinking that I’m rather weird. Either you are married and wish you still had time alone or you just think I’m strange for thinking the way I do.

Well, historically I have been known to oh, live in the future/hate the season I’m in/want it all now and yesterday. Contentment never really came easy for me. It is not that I don’t appreciate life but I’m a wee bit of a visionary/planner (Emily, if you’re reading this I know, I know…”wee bit” is an understatement), so therefore enjoying the moment is not my strong suit. Casting vision, planning, being creative…all that plays on my strengths.

Enjoying the moment…nah, what’s next?

Except that lately I have learned to simply enjoy the moment. It might be because for the first time since I was 15 years old, I haven’t had to work full time in a summer. I have an entire 3 months to do, literally…whatever I want to do. I have TIME!

Fast forward to June 2014. This is the month I have to hand in my Masters’ dissertation and from that point onwards “real life” will need to begin again. I don’t know what that will look like, but I’m pretty sure “real life” will not include the ability to do whatever I feel like all day long. You see, this is my season to write, to work out as much as I want, to see friends, to lay in the park, to read for hours on end. This is a very unique and special season and I almost ruined it by wanting something that’s just not in this season.

It’s a simple lesson but the grass always seems to be greener on the other side. However, when we learn to water the grass, to appreciate the season we are in, or the side we are on, then that prepares us and makes us ready for the “other side”.

Truthfully? There are a plethora of things that I would like to see in my future, but if I don’t enjoy the season I am in now, if I don’t appreciate and take it step by step then my tomorrow won’t come out the way it’s supposed to.

So, let’s enjoy the seasons we are in and appreciate them for what they are. I am going to stop wanting the next thing all the time (so there’s always room for goals and for dreaming) and simply love the moment.

Now, I’m going to get back to my book…I may just read all day…

Back to the Basics

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at” or Get out of your comfort zone

 

 

Stood in front of the mirror, fresh from the shower, I had a few minutes to myself before I ventured out into the corridor again. On a winter trip with a few of the teens from my church I decided this was the year I was going to snowboard.

Pretty sure I made it up the KIDDIE hill (or Barnbacken på svenska)…oh, once.

I never thought I’d want to declare war on a tow-lift but alas even getting up the hill on that evil contraption was about as fear-inducing as going down, fast, while my feet were glued to a board.

So there I was, a few hours later, completely covered in bruises and feeling…amazing. Yet something I said to my friend B who was teaching me to board, run in my head…

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

A few nights ago I was out with some friends for a movie when, prior to the movie, we were chatting and my Swedish skills were put to the test. One guy said to me, “Michelle, you need to get out of your comfort zone.”

You see, I can speak Swedish…and I understand so much, but I don’t speak it a lot with my friends. Why you ask?

 “I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

Recently I started running again. I’m still thinking I’m going to sign up to another ½ marathon but for now, it’s just for me. I’m on day 26 of my 365 running challenge now. The first few days were a struggle. Not because of my fitness levels, but because I was pretty sure I looked ridiculous running. Have you seen those images on the internet? Those “What I think I look like when I’m running” vs “what I really look like.” One image usually involves a bikini clad super model and the other a slobbering hound.

Truth is, I don’t look like either of those but it’s amazing what our minds trick us into.

I’m in the middle of what I call my “life break”. It’s actually not a break from life, you can’t take a break from life but you can have a season where things change, where you break away from the norm, where you refocus and redirect. This is the season of life I am in.

It’s a season where I am constantly having to get out of my comfort zone. You see, I have a LOT of dreams and ambitions for life and frankly, prior to August 22 I was living a great life but I was also smack RIGHT in the middle of the comfort zone.

And with all the respect to my old life, which, to many, and even to me, was fantastic…it sucked.

I had become too reliant on norms, comforts and myself.

I was lounging in the comfort zone.

So, being…well me…as you all know I changed my life drastically and with only one focus to ensure I kept running my race well and towards the ultimate goal (Jesus, if you didn’t know). I want all of my life to focus on Him, bringing glory to Him and showing others His love and grace.

I figured if I’m running to Him then everything else will fall into place.

What I have learned though is that following Him has taken me so far out of my comfort zone that I am pretty much constantly uncomfortable.

 

Going to church…

Uncomfortable.

 

Going to school…

Uncomfortable…

 

Writing for Beyond Rubies and SoWorthLoving…

Uncomfortable…

 

Just all…uncomfortable. Although they are seemingly normal and mundane things to one person there are aspects that make all these things uncomfortable to me. There are aspects to each of these things that I am not good at.

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

I know I have been called to a certain life, to accomplish particular things and this season in my life is preparing me for that.

But I think the greatest lesson I have learned is that it’s okay to just not be good at something.

I read this great quote…

As Christians we are called to live in excellence, to do all things for God and not for man.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

And He is going to help us along…

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

So what I am trying to say is this…

Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t step, don’t tip toe…JUMP. He has given you everything you need to accomplish all that He has put on your heart.

 

Start today. Whether it’s writing a book or getting healthy. If it’s asking that girl out or talking to your neighbor who just needs a friend.

 

Do something that you are not good at.

Do something that scares you because you really never know what will come from it or whose life you will impact.

 

I got a letter after I wrote a particularly “scary” post on SWL. Without sharing someone else’s story the letter detailed how the post helped someone through a break up. The truth? I hated writing that post. I cried writing it. I didn’t want to share it because I knew that it might get a couple people angry (if they misunderstood my intentions), it was uncomfortable.

However, as I read the words of one girl knowing that she was worth more than rubies all the uncomfortable feelings I had left me and I realized that although I didn’t like doing it…it impacted someone.

So maybe snowboarding or speaking Swedish perfectly doesn’t seem like something that will impact or make a difference but who knows? At least I’m going to try…