A Beautiful Mess (or the post I cried writing)


I used to write more frequently for a company called So Worth Loving. Because it was a place that perpetuated, believed in, was based on your self worth and loving others, the raw, unabridged words that flowed there were real and I always felt safe writing there. In that space I was supposed to be a mess, I was supposed to be broken, or at least formerly broken, on my way some place better.

I kept this, my own little corner of the internet, though quite raw in moments, more of a place where there was hope and faith. For those who have followed along for years will remember most of 2012 where my heart bled onto the digital paper as I worked to become less broken, more whole.

However, overall I have ensured that for the most part, the rawest, and sometimes most shameful parts of who I am were kept on So Worth Loving or not spoken about at all. When I did open up on Beyond Rubies, yes sometimes people commented and liked, but it was less so and maybe I just wanted validation. Maybe I didn’t want people to see that I struggle. I had gotten over my people-pleasing, affirmation craving ways and wasn’t going back.

Or so I thought.

But something I realised over the last few months ,as I have begrudgingly allowed God to work on my heart, is that a bit of that girl who just wanted to be liked had crept back in and God was doing everything to fight her off.

Recently my friend Melissa said to me “Michelle, reckon you got a bit too much of your identity wrapped up in what you do?”

Oh that stung. Like I actually felt like I had been slapped in the face. Probably because deep down I knew that, after already 4 months of looking for a job I had started feeling less and less like me. Here is where I would normally start to sugar-coat my blog a bit. Brushing past all the pain, need of affirmation and desire to simply be accepted for me would be hidden under a lot of bible verses and challenges to be better.

But as I write this, tears flowing down my face, I have to only be thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows that life can’t be spent that way. It’s a paradox actually. I genuinely want to see the pain and tears of the people I love. I want to laugh with them, cry with them, understand their insecurities and pray with them. However to actually allow someone that close scares me.

To admit that I don’t always feel enough is terrifying. I wasn’t who I wanted to be in all areas of my life (see last blog for more about that). I wasn’t a person I thought was enough.

When God wants to teach you a lesson, He really will keep you in a place until you have learned it and while my journey is not over, I definitely learned that I need to learn the lesson and they do say the first thing is to admit you have a problem.

In the last few months God has brought me to a place where I have had to ask for help, I have had to reframe how I introduce myself to people. I have not been in the place where I can show someone how much I care simply by doing or buying them something.

I only have me. And learning to accept the fact that if all there is, is me, and someone doesn’t stay close, imperfections, insecurities and all. Then that’s ok. It only means that those who stay close, who leaned in, who still wanted me, those people are worth gold.

I am planning a little party to celebrate my new job. I wish I could say that it’s going to be a big bash. It’s not, a few people who stood by me over this last season (at least the ones in town…out of towners don’t count). The people who didn’t care if I couldn’t buy something, the people who believed in me even in the moments I didn’t believe in myself. The people who really see me.

Even if me can be a mess.

Learning to keep your eyes focused solely on your creator, to fall in love with His plans and purposes for your life, to be okay with your scars, all of this sucks, I am not going to sugar coat it. The process really sucks, but the end is result is beautiful.

A beautiful mess. A beautiful exchange. Christ could have saved the world any way he chose, but He chose the messiest way to demonstrate his love for us. And I am so thankful that this happened because I really don’t want to see what my life would turn out like if I didn’t have Him.

Maybe someone people will hate this post, maybe it will help one person. I am a mess. You’re a mess. I still get insecure and then go home and go “why didn’t I just…” or “will I ever be able to get over”…

And I will. And so will you.

We are beautiful messes. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Placed here for a time such as this. Loved before we even existed in this form.

The Problem with Perfection

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“Your sorrows today will help in somebody’s tomorrow.”

Charlotte Gambill spoke about this a couple weeks ago in church. Well, actually she mentioned it in passing and it was such a strong reminder of the fact that in the seasons of struggle, of growth, of challenge, that God will never allow anything to go to waste. In everything we experience it will either benefit us later on or help someone else.

I hope that my vulnerability will help someone else. So here goes…

I can be painfully shy. 

Okay, everyone who knows me should stop laughing now. I can be shy not because I am not a social person. I can be shy for another reason…

  • When I am in a public situation, speaking or singing I get terrible stage fright. Terrible. Until I walk onto stage. Then I am fine, but in the moments leading up to the actual event I am cold, nauseous, on the verge of tears.
  • When it comes to large groups of people, unless I have a function, I will stick to the people I know best. Unless I give myself a goal to talk to x number of people I will stay dangerously close to whomever I find won’t try and shake me off.
  • When I like a guy, even if I know that he probably likes me, I will act almost like I am disinterested when it comes to that moment where someone should make a move. I am not a move girl. I am an “oh-my-goodness-my-hands-are-shaking-and-freezing-cold-and-would-he-please-just-hold my hand/kiss me/put-his-arms-around-me-and-pull-me-close-because-if-this-is-up-to-me-I-will-be-single-until-I-am-90” kind of girl.

Because sometimes I struggle with knowing I am enough.

  • Maybe I don’t feel like I have the best voice.
  • Or that I am not enough of an expert that people want to listen to me.
  • Or I don’t think people want to talk to me.
  • Or he will find someone he likes better.

It’s a struggle and I am pretty sure I am not alone.

The problem is that my measurement of enough is perfection.

And guess what?

I’m not perfect.

Woah, take a minute. Breathe in, breathe out. I know. It’s a shock. Someone call CNN.

Now that you’ve gotten back up off the floor, shall we continue? Perfectionism is a disease. Or at least I think it is. The symptoms include shaking, dry mouth, cold hands, attachment to your phone in public, nights of regrets, shall I go on? There’s a lot to be compared to now. With the internet we get to see all the photos/stories/articles/movies that give us what we believe is perfection. It’s keeping up with the Joneses on a whole new level!

When we measure ourselves, compare ourselves, in any situation to a standard of perfection we will always fall short. It’s actually stupid. Comparing to or measuring ourselves against something we believe to be perfect (in the case of media or someone else) or to a standard that doesn’t even exist ensures that we are not wise.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12

So then what? I know I am not supposed to compare myself or to strive for perfection…but how?

When I am feeling shy because I am feeling not quite enough, I try and remind myself that I have someone who has already gone before me. Someone who has a plan for me. Someone who made me, fearfully and wonderfully. Who created me with purpose.

Okay, so I may still get nervous, but I am working on the not-having-to-be-perfect thing because dang that is a lot of pressure. Then I go back to the truth. Because who wants to marry someone who’s perfect anyway? ;)

One day a girl got off a plane…

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When I was eight years old I walked up to my mother and asked, innocently, “Mama, can I please go to boarding school in Switzerland?”

The answer was, of course, no. To a little girl who was in the midst of devouring the novels “What Katy did” about a girl who went to boarding school, this was of course one of the most devastating moments of my little life. Why couldn’t I go away and have adventures? I don’t even really understand why I chose Switzerland. I mean, Katy was British. Maybe the idea of a language I was familiar with, mountains and being semi-close to family in Germany appealed to my strange eight year old brain?

Needless to say it would be 6 years later when I took my first “solo” journey away, travelling to Hawaii to sing. Then just two years later flying to South Africa and finally moving away at 18 to go to school approximately 4300kms away from my hometown. I then “shocked” my family by moving yet another 3500kms after I graduated.

I was always on the move. And by the way, no one was shocked about my decision to move. Maybe just a little confused at the location. Needless to say, on September 5, 2005 I landed at Heathrow with way too many suitcases and an apartment which I had never seen. The adventure began again.

Ten years later it doesn’t feel like time has past. I remember sitting in the Sloney Pony pub with Emily, celebrating our five year anniversary of London living and now, five years later I’ve since moved on and still cannot believe I have been entrusted with the life I have.

So, to mark this occasion I wanted to share ten lessons I learned. If you go here you can read about 30 lessons I wrote about on the eve of my birthday. These will be different…

You can do the impossible. There is nothing stopping you from changing your life. If you are reading this right now, you have the ability to change your life. You are reading this on your phone, tablet or PC. If you’re blessed enough to have any of these things, then you’re blessed. Find a way to make something happen for yourself that you have once deemed impossible. God has promised that all things are possible through Him. Some of these things you want to do will take hard work, some the right connections, some training, some money. What is your impossible? At one time mine was running 13.1 miles and not passing out. I did it. At one time my impossible was dropping 12 dress sizes. Done. At one time my impossible was moving across the world. Check. God sorted that one out nicely. Literally the only thing stopping you is you. And if there’s someone cheering you on, believing in you, don’t let that person go. You’re going to need them.

You will never be ready. A friend once told me that men will never get into a relationship until they’re ready. Apparently this is some magic moment that is individual to every man and no woman, no one in fact, can predict it. I’m guessing it’s like a switch? Who knows, but apparently no woman can make a man ready. Well, sadly, like in every area of our lives we’re probably not ever really ready. The job you want? Maybe you don’t have quite the skills, but you have the passion, drive and some knowledge. Apply anyway. You and your spouse may want a child and are financially able, but you may not be ready emotionally. We can try and try to prepare as much for any season or moment in our lives, but there will always be some aspect of our lives that can put a huge “NOT READY” stamp on our plans. That’s why we have God and the Holy Spirit. Pray, seek wisdom and jump. Ready isn’t a something you can force.

Do it scared, but never without peace. Kind of the same as the above…just going a bit deeper. When I realised that my time in London was coming to a close it was scary. I remember sitting in my teeny studio flat crying my eyes out trying to figure out why God was definitely telling me that my London season was over. I couldn’t understand or contemplate. I mean MY LIFE WAS THERE GOD…hello!?! However, as I prayed and sought His peace and wisdom, when it came time to first decide to apply for uni here in Sweden and then actually move, the fear never left. However, it was being suffocated by peace. His everlasting and extraordinary peace that passes understanding. The opposite of fear is not courage, it’s faith. Keep your faith in your saviour and the peace will come.

Haters going to hate. People do not like me. Crazy eh? A lot of people do not like you either. Actually both those statements are sort of untrue. It’s not that people do not like you, but likely they’re dealing with some thing in their lives, which is causing insecurity, jealousy, envy, whatever the ugliness and it’s manifesting itself in the form of some hatred.

Did I ever tell you that once a girl said I was too nice? Another person once tried to make others hate me because I was over performing at work. When we live in the favour of God and strive for a life of excellence you’re going to get some hate. God said in this life there would be troubles, but He has overcome it all. Wipe it off and keep on walking.

You will probably lose yourself along the way, have people around you who will help you back. Ever look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Or perhaps some thoughts come into your head or even words out of your mouth and even you are surprised by the contents. This last season has been a psychological struggle for me. Being without work isn’t great in my books and not being busy leaves me with a lot of self reflection time. DO NOT LET ME REFLECT TOO MUCH. I drive myself insane. I am, along with many others, one of those people you don’t really have to scold or tell off or even help figure stuff out with. I self-analyse myself constantly, trying to understand my reason for doing something or whether my actions were in line. This means that without a job my little analytical brain was ON FULL SPEED AHEAD. Have you seen “Inside Out”? I would have loved to do that movie with my brain as the centre. Needless to say, in all this self reflection time I ended up over reflecting and losing myself in the process. Blame, insecurity, sadness, rejection…all crowded my thoughts. It wasn’t until I gave myself enough breathing room to let people in, who knew me and could hit me over the head with a book, that I found myself again.That and going back into HIS WORD, and losing myself in His love. When you feel yourself going connect with the one who created you and those who love you the most.

Reinvention is a key to life, but never lose your passion. When I landed in London I had baby bangs and short, blonde hair. Shortly after I dyed it copper, then blonde and purple, brown, blonde, red…the list goes on. I was a bit obsessed with constantly reinventing myself, at least physically, but along the way that reinvention saw itself manifest in my jobs. I have done a lot of things in the last ten years, but ultimately my passion has remained the same. For me, building relationships and helping others achieve their passions and goals is my passion in life, my purpose is to show people the love of God. This is my red thread when it comes to life. My jobs, where I volunteer, how I spend my downtime, the books I read, the conversations I have, they all revolve in some way around this. Everything I do somehow touches on this even if one day it looked like working in the media industry and the next it meant volunteering with a company to help grow their business. Don’t get bored, keep your passion passionate and see the difference you make in the world.

Taste the rainbow. There’s a great saying “Go one place every year that you’ve never been”. One of my favorite aspects of the last ten years is exploration. I’ve explored cities, countries and my own backyard. I’ve slept on airport floors, tasted champagne in Paris, swam in lagoons in Italy, found all my favourite coffee shops in Sweden, spoken a plethora of languages, met people from countries I didn’t know existed, all in the name of learning something new. I pray that this never stops, no matter what happens in the next season of life. Will I always be nomadic? Will I “settle down”? Will I marry a Swede, or an Australian? who knows. I just know that each day I want to “taste the rainbow” and know more of the world that God created.

Buy the shoes. Honestly, if you love something do it. Buy it. Explore it. Fine, be smart, don’t go into debt, but that aside, we have one life and if you really want to buy those red ruby slippers and dance on the Trocadero in Paris, at midnight, while the Eiffel Tower sparkles, do it.

But also, buy the shoes for someone else. Be generous. To whom much is given, much is expected. I’m getting a bit more serious now. A lot of what I have written is about you. Or about me. It’s about the person you’re trying to be to make a difference in this world. The thing is. We don’t live our lives in a bubble. We live our lives in relationship with others. Be generous with those around you. Look for the need. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you opportunities to see the need. I have a rule. Since I am currently not married with children I baby sit for free. If my friends need help. I am there. Not only do I figure that one day I will need someone else to watch my babies, but I have the time and resource now to bless someone else. What can you do? What is in your hands?

Invest in your future and in others futures. This is not about money. I decided, at 18, that by the time I was 30 I would speak 5 languages. I did it. Am I perfect at them? No…but I’m learning my 6th and can get by in a few more. This skill has and continues to help me and others in many ways. Last week in Paris a frantic Spanish woman came up to me for help and it was so fun to watch her face light up when I could direct her in her native tongue. By learning new skills we make our futures better equipped for the tasks and responsibilities that God has for us.

And invest in others…I love people so investing in them comes naturally. I have to stop there. Investing in people I like comes naturally. Investing in those who I love, but find more difficult to get on with naturally, well, that’s the goal of the next ten years. But back to it. We have all been given a step up by someone else. Whether it was a lesson, someone introduced you to someone who got you a job, or even someone helped you see what you didn’t know. We get places because of the people around us. I’ve learned that the best way to get more help is by helping those who are coming up behind you. I only stand where I am today because of the people who have gone before me (in all aspects of my life), so I can only humbly help others to pay back for all that I have been given.

God isn’t on top, He’s at the centre, He’s your everything. In the end it’s all about Him. I would never be where I am today if God wasn’t at the centre of my life. Now, He knows that he hasn’t always been there and I am sure I will continue to go through seasons where I have to adjust, but ultimately knowing that when God is at the centre of your life, of your everything than life is just that much better. It may not always be easy, but you will never, ever be alone.

Here’s to the next ten years…

We Danced


In our high school athletics were very important. We all took phys. ed. Everything from volleyball to badminton, cross country and weight training. 2-3 to days a week you were sweating alongside your classmates, enjoying all the benefits of what sport brings. Every December, to take a break from the norm, our high school offered a different kind of phys. ed. It was such a tradition that we tried to get out of our other classes, just to partake in more than our weekly routine of physical activity.

Every December we danced.

We did everything from traditional Russian dancing (I seem to remember something about being horses?), to the Scottish ceilidh and country line dancing from the bottom parts of the south of the USA. We learned to waltz, polka, whatever we could learn, we did. Then, just before winter break we had a school wide dance.

That day was my favourite.

As much as I loved all the learning, the actual classes, especially when we had to partner up, were hard. You see, I was the tallest girl in my class, for a LONG time. Standing at more than the average 5’5″ (165.1cm) at 12 and combined with a severe lack of guys during my gym block, we often had to pair up with girls, so I had to take the lead. Or, I got paired up with a guy who was so afraid to lead (because we were what 13, 14,15 years old) that we either ended up doing nothing or looking foolish. So when we had the school wide dance, I actually got to dance with a guy, lead by a guy who knew what to do. I loved the moments of being lead.

It’s funny what we believe affects us later in life. From such an early age I already had to learn to lead my own life. Okay, so this is just one example of circumstances in my life which made me take control of my life. There are probably another five pieces I could write on other circumstances which shaped the woman I have become (for better or for worse), but this…this one sticks out.


I guess it’s because I am not a fan of feeling foolish. I mean, who is. Who wants to look a bit dumb or make a mistake in front of people. Not exactly a trait many of us carry. Dancing is far more than a physical act. It is a metaphor for life. We take steps to the left, to the right, we go backwards and forwards. We are spun inwards and outwards, lead by our partner in what, over a song becomes a story, it is a journey which makes up a beautiful narrative. When we try to lead (when we aren’t supposed to), then the dance gets mixed up. Two people cannot lead. There must always be someone who follows. Or, if the one who leads, isn’t stepping up and taking the lead the path is full of stumbles, not as elegant and getting out of the missteps takes more time. The story isn’t as a beautiful, as graceful. A lot like our relationship with God.

BUT, allow me to take detour for a moment. Just for the sake of a good metaphor.

Dancing is a lot like dating. The dance of romance. Say what you want of equality, the man should take the lead. It isn’t the equal division of tasks that makes dating and eventually marriage equal, it is the equitable and efficient division of resources. Like a dance, when we have true equality, when the man leads, when he writes the story and the woman, putting her trust in him, follows, a beautiful story is written. When both focus on the same goal (glorifying God) then the dance has a purpose and a focus.

Oh wait, much like dating, God is trying to romance us…funny how this is all working together…

Today when I go to take dance lessons I can find it difficult to let the guy lead. I have been trained to take the lead, mostly out of necessity and practicality. Recently I was taking salsa lessons with a few of my friends. There were a few men there and I found myself really loving dancing and getting into the groove of things. With two of the say five guys that were potential partners, I rested safely in their arms, dancing away until I was drenched in sweat. When it came time to change and I was put with a man who wasn’t secure, one who didn’t have my best interest at heart, who didn’t focus on leading, the dance was awkward and generally never properly complete. The guys that I could trust were who we can liken to God. Strong, understanding of the journey we are to take, foreknowledge of the ending and aware of the steps we need to take to get there.

The men who were insecure, who hadn’t read the steps, who weren’t comforted by experience are much like when we take the lead in our own lives…stumbling, blind and without hope.

There’s a song by Bethel Music. It’s called We Danced. It’s a ballad, a worshipful song of the dance between ourselves and God.

You steady me
Slow and sweet, we sway
Take the lead and I will follow
Finally ready now
To close my eyes and just believe
That You won’t lead me
Where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance

The last few months, heck, few years, have been a struggle to say the least. A struggle by human eyes, but to God, a beautiful dance.

Like Joseph in Genesis, God has turned what was meant for evil in my life and made it for good. Instead of fighting the lead that God was taking in my life, I have learned, some days, some hours begrudgingly even, to allow Him to lead.

Praying to hear his voice. Asking for wisdom. Training myself to hear, to feel when the Holy Spirit is gently pulling on my heart to go one way or another, either physically or in a decision.

When my faith got tired, and when my hope seems lost (even today), I am in training to become one of the best dancers the world has seen. I am never going to be a ballerina on a world’s stage, or a hip hop dancer in a music video , but instead, I am going to dance my way, even through the missteps and the turns and twirls with the one who has always captivated my heart. With my Lord.

Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages). Hebrews 13:8

Are not two [j]little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

He invited you to dance, invited you to be part of a beautiful story, one that will be filled with less than desirable moments, but you will always know you’re safe, safe in the arms of your beloved.

In the Midst of the Waves

I thought about writing this when I had gotten the job, but then it made me think…

How many blogs, articles and books have been written once we have gotten whatever it is that we wanted?

How many times have you heard from your now loved-up, engaged or married friend that “oh, it was worth the wait” or “God totally had it under control”?

I am not saying that all of their good advice, consoling remarks or loving comments aren’t valid or true, but this time I am going to give thanks in the in between.

So here goes…but first, a side note (I do love side notes)

The funny thing about social media is that it isn’t reality. Or at the very least it isn’t the entire truth.

I choose to put online what I feel is most appropriate for the message I want to get across. My message affects my brand. As someone who does this for a living, I carefully cultivate what goes up or even sometimes comes down. I don’t believe in a personal and professional brand. I am me and I have guidelines about what I post. Nothing I have is private (except FB) and my audience includes everyone from friends, family, professional relationships and people who follow me because of my writing. I am constantly trying to keep a level of integrity in what I post, remembering that it might be my 13-year-old cousin or her friends seeing what I post or a future boss or client. Ultimately, I say this all, in this post because the last few weeks or months have looked a bit like a dream. And, I hope they did…because even in the darkest times I want my life, even on social media, to reflect the faith that I have and the thankful attitude I try my best to live with.


Back in April I was laid off. This is the kind of thing that happens when working at a start up, the risk you take.

Although I immediately felt saved (due to the difficult circumstances of my working environment) I was still laid off. Let me tell you. People can say you’re the best and that you’ve done an incredible job and you can even KNOW that this is true, and yet being laid off feels awful.

It feels like you’re being broken up with. You immediately want to go back through the past months figuring out what went wrong, where you could have saved yourself, knowing full well that it wouldn’t have mattered. I love what I do and also really function on the “having a lot to do makes me more productive” kind of level, therefore this wasn’t exactly a great thing for me. I have rarely ever been unemployed more than a few weeks, at most. Now, like the end of a relationship, I was faced with beginning again.

You know that moment when someone has told you that they no longer love you? That sinking feeling where all of the plans you have made in your head and heart, where all the expectations vanish faster than you ever dreamt them up?

All of this. All the time.

Except that this time it was different.

I felt all of this. All of the rejection. All the hurt and confusion.

But this time…this time instead of trying to fix it all, I just stopped. I stopped and handed it over to God.

Back in October, at Hillsong Conference, as I wept during this song…

And I will call upon Your name…And keep my eyes above the waves…When oceans rise…My soul will rest in Your embrace…For I am Yours and You are mine (Oceans, Hillsong)

…A gentle hand told me that God will always be my stronghold.

This time, when waves came crashing over me, I just stopped and let Him actually be my stronghold, my anchor.

Now, I am still in my ocean. Not only with work, in relationships, still single, still looking for my place in this world, but when it comes to work (my current highest need), even in my ocean, I see the light, I feel Jesus standing on the water, urging me to step out.

I have felt peace and I am rested.

I brought up social media because my Instagram account reads like a princess in a fairytale. Paris, London, Toronto, sun, friends…

It doesn’t show the days of sitting on my couch hunting and applying for the next role, or prepping for interviews on my holiday. It doesn’t show how even though I am at peace, God is using this time to heal me, to make me whole. It doesn’t show the tears and the frustrations.

What my Instagram account actually shows; what it demonstrates is His unfailing love, peace, provision and hope.
It shows that He gives me rest when I need it. He brings people to refresh me. He uses me to help others, even if I feel like I can’t help anyone.

When I sang… Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters. Wherever You would call me, Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger. In the presence of my Savior…deep down I admit it was still “lead me where I think you’re going to probably lead me, in my time”…

Well, my timing wasn’t right and I am still looking for a job and I know the timing and role will be perfect. But I can say this…

Even in the meantime…in the “and you will” *** stage of this season I have only ever felt His beautiful, unwavering peace.

***Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. Matt 7:7

When we know that our hope is in the one who is above all else, when our eyes truly stay fixed on an unmoving mark, the one who is never changing (Hebrews 13:8), and it takes a lot of practice (!!!!!), then that peace never leaves.

Why waste any energy on worrying? Stressing? Anxiety?

Sure, I want this season to end, but I love being in the right now. And I wasn’t always like this….

Thank God He has always had patience with me to get me here.





He Fights for Me


It was back in elementary/primary school when a boy tried to bully me.

According to my family I hit him in the stomach and told him he couldn’t do that.

Firm on the understanding of who(se) I was, I fought for myself.

As I have grown into an adult, as reasoning, circumstances and feelings began to shape my decisions more than fact (as is as a child), I found myself fighting for myself less and less, choosing rather to allow unreasonable behaviour of others to govern or affect my life.

Under the guise of “I choose my battles wisely” I found myself using that as an excuse to shrink away or not cause disruption so that I could continue in my comfort zone.

Side note: I will always choose my battles wisely. That will never leave my life, but as I do that, I cannot disregard myself in that choice. Choosing your battles wisely is about knowing when it is worth the fight, not when it might be uncomfortable to face something. This is wisdom. 

Here I was, an adult, allowing people to bully me, to disrespect me, to disregard my feelings and my heart, to be selfish with my love, to push me down so they could be higher, all because I didn’t want to fight.

I chose not to fight for many reasons. Maybe it was so that I could find a new job before I quit my last one, maybe it was because I loved my friend dearly and though her words hurt, the battle was too much for me to endure at that moment. Maybe it was because I couldn’t fight for my worth, I was too weak. Sometimes it was because being just his friend hurt less than losing him altogether or maybe it is still because I am just too tired of fighting for myself some days. Some days it is just too much…whatever the situation.

Lately I have been going through a new season. A season where, for many reasons, I have clung closer and closer to God. Some would think that this season was a “bad” one. Alas, it has not been bad or good. The last days have been filled with blessings, with pain, with adventure, with tight schedules and new promises. I cannot classify this season to any one adjective except that I call it my “closer” season.

And in this closer season, one where I have been able to find myself all the more close and in love with God I have been given a gift that money cannot buy.

In my drawing near, in HIS drawing near, I have seen how He has, does and always will fight for me.

In my desirable characteristics in a husband my top ten absolutely includes a man who will fight for me. He will be one who defends my virtue, pursues me with passion (even if the future isn’t simple), fights for our marriage and family on a daily basis. That’s what knight-in-shining-armour looks like to me.

However, in the last days, even though this still remains a character I desire only, until then, and then with, for the rest of my life, I will know, with quiet confidence that my Lord, my Father will always fight for me.

And with that in mind, I will always be able to rest.

Exodus 14:14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

2 Chronicles 20:17  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.

Deuteronomy 20:4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

No, you cannot stay there and do nothing. Taking abuse, allowing someone to hurt you, whatever battle you need one, The Lord will fight for you. He gives you everything you need.

In one case He took me out of my job, one that, to everyone else looked amazing (and to most extent it was), but I was being torn down, bullied and taken advantage. I had made the decision to stay until I found something new, God had other plans, but gave me financial stability to get me to the next season. In other cases it was telling the people who hurt me that it was not right because I know that God loves me so much that whatever reaction they have to what I have to say, I will be okay.

God fighting for me means that I am protected. It means that I do not have to do things in my own strength, but with the power of the Holy Spirit behind me.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. Phil 4:13 AMP

And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you. Romans 8:11AMP

He fights for me and because of that I can be at rest, whether sleeping or awake.

For that I am thankful.

Paper Bag Princess Syndrome

Paper Bag Princess

One of my favourite books ever written is a children’s story.

The Paper Bag Princess still sits on my shelf today, waiting for one day when I have a daughter and I, or her father can read it to her as she falls into a gentle slumber.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in Canada with the infamous Robert Munsch to narrate your childhood, I will give you the quick recap.

Princess loves Prince. Evil dragon takes over the kingdom, burns it down and kidnaps Prince. Princess goes to rescue the prince, outsmarts and outwits the dragon, rescues Prince. They live happily ever after…not. Prince tries to fit Princess into stereotypical box and Princess tells Prince where to go.

Not your typical fairytale. I grew up loving it for all the right reasons. Be who you are. Be smart. Don’t let someone talk down to you. Do not allow someone who does not respect the woman you are to have even a bit of your heart. All good.

However, somewhere in between the bedtime stories and creeping into adulthood my motivations for loving this book have changed.

Somewhere in those years I have gone from someone who wants an equal relationship where we love and respect each other, to desiring the very same, but someone not allowing anyone to take care of me. I liked that the princess told the prince where to go because she couldn’t get hurt.

You see, though I have lived a blessed life, there are a couple of factors that have led to a place where allowing someone to take care of me is difficult.

Whatever societal or cultural conventions may say, I want to be chased…and to be taken care of.

Each relationship will look different in how this plays out, but often the desires are the same. I will take care of you, if you take care of me. Mutual love, respect and desire. No mothering or control. A love that desires the best for the other.

But I have a problem, a problem that I am working on and why I am writing about My Paper Bag Princess Syndrome.

It’s without knowing it that the scars of past relationships, absent fathers, circumstances, well-meaning friends, too much “good advice” and not enough leaning on the truth that has gotten me and many others to this same place.

It is easier in life to take care of ourselves than to allow someone in. It is what so many of us struggle with that has become what I think is an epidemic in society. Vulnerability.

The love we want, the good fights, the better making up, the having someone to share those awful moments, someone to help with the chores, to make you laugh when you just want to cry, all of that…

So easily disregarded because it takes vulnerability and one other thing…

Making room for someone else.

I have never had a problem making decisions for myself. I go to the movies when I want, I move countries when I want, I buy what I want, I give money to the charities I want, I do whatever it I need to do without asking anyone’s permission.

And yet, and I know it’s not just me, I would trade that to have the other…to allow someone in my life.

As I write this I hope that my intentions with this are not overlooked. This is not about wanting to get married or desperation…it’s about understanding something far more powerful.

It’s about a daily surrender to me. It’s about literal taking up the cross and remembering that despite all that has happened to me and all that will, that I have truth in my life. I have been rescued, given freedom from all that our broken world brings and in that I can be secure that, if it’s meant to be, I will be able to allow someone to take care of me here too. I will be able to drop my guard, at the right time, and all someone in.

No excuses. No victim mentality.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37

I am not my past, though I have to deal with it. I am not my circumstances, though they have to be lived through. I am a Child of God who’s value is worth more than rubies and that is enough.

A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman—who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls. proverbs 31:10

A Question of Integrity

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When referring to a person, integrity is defined as having a quality of being honest or fair. It can also be seen as sticking to a moral code.

I have been thinking a lot about integrity lately.

One of my girlfriends and I are doing this rather intense work out and with it comes a lot and I mean, a lot of work. However, if we would spend the 6 days a week in the gym that we do and then go home, eat like we have the metabolisms of a 10 year old boy then we would be ruining the integrity of what we are doing. It would also mean that I was not committing to what I had promised myself. Saying I work out and then seeing no results would make me look rather foolish, no?

Integrity is a large part of all our lives. We only really have our integrity, our character. Money can come and go, our looks can fade, our charm can wither if we are too tired or stressed, but our character is what everything is built on. When I say I will do something I want the person I say that to to trust me.

There is a verse in James that has become one of my favourite: But above all [things], my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath; but let your yes be [a simple] yes, and your no be [a simple] no, so that you may not sin and fall under condemnation.

Integrity starts with understanding what you can give, what you have space for and what your priorities are.

When we understand our position and where we are coming from we can make decisions, promises and plans based on this starting point. To have integrity does not mean giving everything, but knowing what you can and cannot accomplish or do, particularly for someone else.

Additionally, this verse is part of a passage where we are forced to look at how we are treating others. Patience, humility and self-sacrifice are also described in this passage.

It makes me think that when we live lives of integrity all those things are among the characteristics that become part of who you in the practice of having integrity, in building character.

In order to have integrity a person must also be patient, treat others well, be humble and self-sacrificial.

It is so easy to say “sure I will get you in touch with this person” or “Yeah, we should do coffee sometime” and then promptly forget. We schedule plans and then make excuses or we start building a relationship with someone and then decide they are not enough of a priority to us and simply filter them out of our lives.

I love connecting people. It is part of who I am. I don’t charge for what I do, I just want to make sure everyone knows the people they need to know. However, it can be super easy to say “oh yeah, you should meet this person” and then when I get home from that party or networking event, want to take a nice hot bath rather than send that email.

What was my priority in that moment? The person or my own comfort?

When we decide that what we say will be what happens then integrity comes much easier.

Let’s challenge each other to live lives of integrity. Our character is really all we have. Once that is tarnished then fixing it is much more difficult to earn back.

To be Vulnerable

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It was 2012 and my break up was very fresh.

I was sat in a pub in Notting Hill Gate (one that still makes me flinch a little as I walk by on visits to my former home) with two beautiful friends of mine.

They were there to make sure I was distracted and were working hard at it. Sadly, even the thought of good beer and Sunday roast could not keep the gates of sadness locked and an outpouring of tears flooded by Yorkshire Pudding.

I was humiliated.

You see, I was sat there, trying to work through all that had happened. Introspectively analysing me and what could have gone wrong in my relationship. I had to show that I was hurting, that I was in pain, that I was not okay. But in showing this the floodgates opened.

For me, expressing myself is one of my most vulnerable moments. Expressing myself is where I shine. I know that I have a gift for writing and other forms of communication. But with that gift comes the other side, comes a weight I guess. Because I can so passionately express myself, it also means that I pour out everything when I do.

Vulnerability, particularly when it comes to me and how I feel, is not my strong suit.

Don’t get me wrong, if I write a speech and stand up to present it, I am fine. I can jump up in front of a crowd of 10,000 and sing. Cool.

BUT if you ask me to be real with you one on one, or sing in front of 5 people there is a high chance I will cry. Cry or becoming emotionally over wrought.

I have yet to find an article, a journal, a scientific, logical reason for this, but it is fact.

My ability to pour out my heart on paper, in song, in words thrown out into the vast unknown  and be vulnerable, but not stand in front of someone and tell them I am in pain or that I like them is like taking me to an executioner is one of question.

Maybe it is because naturally I am what they call an outgoing introvert or maybe I am too sensitive. I just know that being vulnerable when it is something close to my heart is a struggle.

This was proven recently, twice actually when on two separate occasions, one in the Gap and one in a cafe, I cried when having to face conversations about subjects close to my heart.


These lovely moments where I am not actually sad, but, as they say “feeling all the feels” it is easier for me to cry, then to not do anything.

This isn’t actually about my inability to react to any highly-charged emotional moment without crying. It is about the process it has taken to be okay with being vulnerable.

The fact is that I know I will probably always respond the way I do. Yes, I work on breathing through the potential tears so as not to appear like I am 5, unprofessional or not altogether okay…but ultimately I know that my ability to feel the way I do makes me a better me, a better friend, lover, daughter, cousin and even employee.

Being vulnerable has enabled me to be a freer person. I have gotten more jobs, stood up for myself, inspired others, gotten a few dates (and being dumped), let others done better, reached greater levels emotionally, gotten closer to God, to my friends, to my family.

I have even learned more about others through this process.

I would hasten to say that most people struggle in some way with vulnerability and deal with it differently. I could shut down and become emotionally stunted. Instead I cry. oh fabulous.

Some people hide their vulnerability in alcohol, in meaningless sex, in keeping people at a distance.

Websters Dictionary defines vulnerability as the capability of being physically or emotionally wounded.

The fact is many things have the possibility to hurt you. In your life it is inevitable you will feel pain.

Getting into the right relationship takes a great risk because you’re both human and could hurt the other. So, instead we bounce from person to person and when we meet the one with whom are heart connects we try and keep them at a distance so as not to face the fact that maybe things are getting a bit real and we need to change and let someone in.

Or maybe it could be something as simple as not wanting to go back to the gym because one day someone teased you back in high school how you were uncoordinated. Or maybe that you tried to ride a bike, someone let go and you fell off and now don’t want to get back on again.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that vulnerability affects all facets of our lives.

What I have learned is that in order to be more vulnerable I have to learn to trust others more. To trust them with my heart, my emotions, my general well being. When we allow ourselves a position of vulnerability we are not allowing someone power over us, instead we are inviting them to be vulnerable themselves and giving them permission to be open. We humble ourselves so that in return they will humble themselves. It is servanthood.

Sure, people still suck. We’re human. You could still get hurt. But what if you just opened up. Maybe you would learn more about yourself and the person sat in front of you.

Maybe your moment of vulnerability would impact a hundred thousand lives.

A Restored Heart

image1 (6)It was only a few weeks, maybe two months into my life in Sweden when my dear friend, who lives in New Zealand, insisted on Skyping with me.

My move to Sweden, whilst actually much more carefully planned and thought out than many on the outside knew, came as a surprise to most. One friend even asked me if I was running away.

Looking back now, exactly three years after I applied to do my MSc here and uproot my life of seven years in London, the move to a country where I had no knowledge of the language or any true tries, may have seemed a bit abrupt.

I had it all in London. A good job, amazing community, an all round lovely life. I was comfortable.

Unfortunately, in all my comfort, I was giving all that was broken in my life a place to hide. With routine and familiarity came a place to hide much that was tearing me up from the inside out. Like broken glass in a plastic bag.

Needless to say that Skype call came as a real awakening…

“Michelle, I feel like this your time to heal. This next season is about healing and it is not going to be comfortable. It WILL be painful”

oh, thanks.

The years prior to this had brought a momentous amount of rejection to my heart. Details of break ups, friendships torn apart, men in my life who should have been there for me, abandoned me. I had lost my step father when he was abruptly promoted to Heaven and a relationship or two torn from my life. Even church where was supposed to feel accepted and safe was all but filled with humans who were less than kind. It had been over a year of “go to sleep and wake up and life has changed monumentally”.

I was done.

Life was more than I could handle and yet that last year had been filled with so many amazingly good times that my logically minded brain would not let my broken and rejected heart feel that it was fair or reasonable to be sad.

It is genuinely a tumultuous season to be in.

Last night, as we celebrated the sacrifice that was paid over 2000 years ago, a sacrifice made so that my life could be whole, so I could be free, so that we all could live the lives we were meant to lead, loved and accepted, I was overcome by the overwhelming responsibility to tell a story of a girl.

The girl is me and she stands a different person than she was three years ago.

Looking back, my friend in New Zealand was right. This has been a season of healing. It has also been one of the most difficult three years of my entire life.

As a Christian, as someone raised in church, I also balance my intellectual side and my emotional side. I am clearly not the only one, but I am going to be blunt. I spend many a night struggling between wanting to give in to my human emotions of “this is not fair” and “this is not right” balancing it with the fact that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. I spend time balancing the argument of humanity vs grace. In a person who feels ALL the feels while still trying to make a logical explanation out of everything, I can be often at war with myself.

All the details of the past three years are not important. If you want them, we can have a cup of coffee or a Skype chat. This is not meant to be a post about how to fix a situation or make your life comparable to mine.

We all have our own struggles, our own personal reasons for needing a Saviour. The truth is, that ultimately we do all need a Saviour. It is only because of my relationship with God that all of me makes sense.

I was 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. Psalm 139:13-14

It was only when I allowed, actually allow (because I still and always will have my moments) myself to forget that I was made perfectly and uniquely in EVERY way…that I find myself forgetting that the rejections of this world are never going to break me.

Throughout the months and months of pain, of tears when no one was looking, that healing took place.

I truly had to go through the fire in order to come out more whole than I had ever been.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Is 55:8-9

It was only in the understanding of a love greater than I can comprehend, in the framework of hope that life made sense. Coming out of the other side it is easier to see the thread of love and compassion which brought healing.

I have gone from a rejected heart that sees fault in all others, sees herself as not enough, to a woman who again stands, a heart restored, not rejected, knowing that her full identity and reliance is firm in something much greater than herself. This is the freedom I find in Christ, freedom to be all of me, unapologetically, to face the world each day. Strong.