What I learned about being lost

This guy is a bit lost as well…

She asked me “did you lose yourself a long the way?”

And with tears, slowly rolling down my face, I had to answer yes. Anything else would have been a lie.

Lost myself. 

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines lose this way: to fail to keep or hold (something wanted or valued).

To fail to keep a hold of something valuable.

I lost myself.

I lost something valuable.

I just returned from London where I was at my 10th Colour conference. I know that I know that every year God has something to tell me. I mean, I ask him very specific questions and expect answers, so of course He leans in as I lean in. However, there is always something that surprises me. This was it.

Brooke, Juliet, Cass and Sara were talking about worship and miracles when we sang this song. I want to tell you we all came out of that session looking like fashion models, but the truth is that God, in only the ways He can, used that song to speak to 11,000 women individually. I personally ended up removing all make up and starting again…yeah. That pretty.

I digress…

During this beautiful moment I heard the words: “Forget those who rejected you for what you are not and hold close those who love you for who you are.”

Even writing these words causes me to pause as the impact of that drives deep into my being. How many of us have experienced rejection, causing us to question who we are, to undermine the person we are meant to be, to wonder if we are enough, to maybe even lose ourselves for a time?

No one? Just me? Okay, cool I am good if I am the only one.

Except I reckon at least one other person may have experienced this, even for 15 seconds, one day while doing laundry.

So…for that one other person who may have once felt this way, this is your turn around moment or at least I hope it can be.

Hold close those who love you for who you are.

I am a huge fan of not caring what others think. I genuinely try to practice this. Except I realised while I don’t necessarily care what others think of who I am, I do care when they don’t accept me on the basis of what I am not.

Kind of crazy right? Except it’s kind of easy to slip into. While we are off not caring if others accept us for who we are, we are chasing those who find fault in what we are not. So then we end up spending a lot of time trying to be what we are not and undermining the beautiful person you are. Forgetting all the talents and skills you have to offer the world, the person you are and trying to fit into a box that “they” have created.

Michelle, you can speak 5 languages but not this one. Michelle, you are really lovely and everything, but you’re just a friend. Michelle, you have all this experience, except. I can go on and on, but examples don’t really matter.

Because actually…I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And God created me the way I am. He made me for such a time as this, to live out my purpose in only a way I am created to. My skill set and talents are something that I have to answer for. When I step into heaven I want to be able to say that I have used all my talents to the best of my ability.

Now, I am leaving behind those who reject me for who I am not and embracing those who love me for who I am, I have found who I am again.

And so what if maybe I spent a period of time lost. The thing is we are never lost when we stand by God, I believe He just allows us to wander a bit…quietly walking beside us, whispering into our very souls, until we understand once again and find our way back to ourselves, just that much stronger.

And even if you get lost a couple times, you are always welcomed back. Because you belong.

No Place to Call Home

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I call Paris my second home, though technically I’ve never lived there. 

I queue like a Brit.

I (often) dress like a Swede.

Some days I sound like an Aussie.

I am overly polite which runs true of most people raised in Canada. 

I like spicy food like an Argentinian and have the temperament of a Latina running through my blood.

I have the sensibilities of a German, obsessively strict with time and leaning on the side of OCD.

My heart is ripped into pieces, travelling quite literally to the corners of the earth with each family or friend who takes it with them as they bid me adieu. 

When I am sad or want to celebrate Whatsapp, FaceTime are my mecca.

And Fika has become the connection point of my daily life. 

I am have a home. I have books (apparently this means I am settled). 

I have a permanent job.

And yet, wherever I am standing, I always refer to where I am not as home. 

I’m not nomadic. Nor am I crazy. 

My heart, the one torn into pieces makes home many places.

And I am okay with that. 

I understand that not everyone will understand.

I get that my life my seem strange to some.

And while my personality would love to please everyone, I know that it’s okay that I won’t.

Wherever I am, there is always an open door, a free bed to sleep on. My life will never stop moving, even when the “settled” seasons of my life begins. I long for adventure, to touch every aspect of the globe. My YouTube history would divulge my secret obsession of constantly learning about other cultures, maybe my Netflix account would too.

I know there are others out there whose hearts sing similar songs, and one whose song matches mine. For others, we may sound off-key, and that’s okay, because there songs sound like nails scratching on a chalkboard to me.

I will likely never be in a place I call home, because where my heart is, that is home.

Where God leads me, where he places me or takes me away from, all home. He guides my soul to long for Him, for new places, for new people.

What’s your song?

He Speaks Into My heart, or thoughts on prayer

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I remember in high school a friend of mine decided to pray through the fruit of the spirit, asking God to help her develop these traits.

 

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

Patience wasn’t a fun week. For any of us.

I know I’ve asked God for a lot of things in the past and so many of these prayers I’ve felt have gone unanswered, but in fact God answers them and I blatantly chose to ignore every.single.sign.

You see, God always answers. I’ve come to realize that whether we choose to hear the answer or selectively ignore his gentle whisper, He always answers…especially when he’s the one that put the prayer on your heart.

And those my friend, as you will come to see, from my recent experience, are sometimes the hardest.

I don’t have a truly spiritual or maybe theologically correct answer for prayers like this. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit speaking? But sometimes I just jot random prayers down, not thinking about what I’m praying…unlike those moments on my knees where I’m often begging God for something I probably don’t even need, thinking a bit too much, because let’s be honest…we all do it.

And so what makes me stand in awe of these prayers is their simplicity and then, and probably the most important, the impact they end up having and the urgency with which God answers them. But back to that soon…

So, here I am, just two weeks ago, during another Sunday message I flipped over my notebook page and half heartedly scribbled the words “break my heart for what breaks yours”.

I closed that page and continued to take notes.

And I got on with my week.

Then BAM.

Right. Can I warn you not to pray “break my heart for what breaks yours”.

It was terrible. Seriously.

I mean, I spent MOST of the week feeling as though I was seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus. And seriously, not making this spiritual or like its a super cool thing. It’s not. In The Shack the author describes heaven as being full of colours we can’t even comprehend on earth, as if our eyes have been half shut. That’s kind of what it felt like…except I wasn’t seeing beautiful colours.

I was seeing pain in a way I had never imagined. It wasn’t on the news, on the faces of those whose plight is highlighted or even (wrongly) sensationalized all over the media. It was the pain of the lonely woman sitting in the corner of the train. It was the pain of a man whose problems weighed him down like stones, but no one seemed to take note. It was the pain of the couple, sat in front of me, so drunk that they had lost the ability to communicate on a level no more than a toddler. It was the pain of the girl who was violated and now the world felt like it was against her. It was the pain of the guy who has walked away from the church and no one seemed to notice he wasn’t there any longer.

I was seeing pain and it was humbling.

Break my heart for what breaks yours.

And in those words, in that prayer, is the lesson I’m learning…

I think about all the times where I was so inwardly focused I didn’t notice others pain…and I am daring to say I guess God was ready for me to what He sees…

We are so busy. So caught up in our own pain, our own paths to success, the music, the distractions, to see others. To see the people that, as Christians, we are called to love…to SEE.

I’m guilty of praying a lot of prayers half-heartedly. Or praying my selfish desires up into the heavens with more passion that I actually should.

It’s kind of despicable. It doesn’t take so much to pray. It’s simple and powerful and those prayers WILL lead to action because when God shows you what He sees, you’re driven to help.

And can I say I’m so thankful God doesn’t handle us like we would handle us if we were God. Let’s all take a moment to say a big AMEN.

Instead, I reckon he does exactly what He did with me recently.

He wakes us up.

Whether it’s in the middle of the night or in a random thought half way through a sermon. Maybe it’s while we are driving down the highway or on the train to school.

Bam. Suddenly you remember your old school friend that you haven’t thought of in years. Or maybe you notice the person begging in the street, who you pass by every day. Or perhaps it’s simply a tug on your heart about a cause you’ve recently been told of.

We have to wake up. Wake up to what is going on around us. Wake up, sit up, pray and take action.

We are his hands and feet and He needs us more than ever. We need to listen.

My Year of Changing the Way I Worship

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I remember it so distinctly. I was at a conference that my church puts on yearly, in different cities around the world. I had flown in to this particular city to serve on team, the people around me, unfamiliar. Opening night I was stood at the back of one section and as the lights dimmed for the beginning of worship and Taya’s familiar voice filled the arena, I heard someone excitedly whisper, “oh, here it is, it’s THE SONG”.

“You call me out upon the waters…The great unknown where feet may fail…”

They were so excited about hearing this song that was sweeping the nation, in churches and radio, in person! And, to be completely honest I was sort of annoyed. Did they not understand that yes, this song was beautiful and Taya slays it, but it’s so much more.

“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…”

Worship is personal, so I asked myself why it bothered me. I mean, who am I to judge? But, it was that moment I realised that it was the Holy Spirit gently making me aware of how often I sing songs in church, that barely touch my lips, let alone my heart.

“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 Saviour…”

That was October 2014. I was officially graduating from my MSc in a couple weeks and soon to start a new job (I didn’t know I was hired yet, and nor did I know that 2015 was going to be one of the most blessed, fun, horrible, tumultuous years of my life). But that night I decided that if I was going to worship, I would do it with all my heart. That I would change the way I worshipped. If I was going to lead people in worship then I had to lead myself first in the way I worshipped.

So, I gave myself a bit of a rule. If I wasn’t in “the mood” to worship, I would stop, pray and refocus, as much as I needed, to keep my heart continually focused and in the right place. I would sing because I meant it, I would praise because He deserves to be praised. I would worship because I am a thankful. I wouldn’t sing words, I would sing prayers. Practically speaking I also listened to more worship music than I have ever listened to. I changed my alarms to worship music to remind me to start the day thankful and appreciative. I took moments, turned off all distractions, put on songs like “It is Well” or “We Dance” and literally stood, sat, danced…I let myself be romanced. (no, not in that freakish “I am dating Jesus” way, but in the allow-the-Holy-Spirit-To-wash-over-You kind of romanced.

Yea, so that’s not as easy as it sounds. Like any habit in your life it takes a lot of practice and discipline. A lot.

It’s crazy. I wish I could say that this conviction brought me into some existential, blissful existence, but if you remember, a couple of paragraphs up I mentioned that 2015 wasn’t so hot.

You see, when you prayerfully sing “I will call upon Your name…Keep my eyes above the waves…My soul will rest in Your embrace…I am Yours and You are mine…” God tests you. And tested over and over again I was. And over and over again I vowed to keep my promise to practice this new habit.

And thus began an aspect of 2015 that I haven’t shared with anyone. I guess I never felt ready or wasn’t sure, or maybe it’s that it’s still a daily practice that I haven’t perfected. Much like my commitment to going to the gym 6 days a week. I know it shows results, but it doesn’t mean I am always consistent.

Full disclosure: My nearest and dearest will know that I have had times where I was still a wreck and worried, fretted, cried, but it was a lot less than other trying times in my life. 

So, before this post ends I will share what my year of worshipping prayerfully brought to me and my relationship with God.

Peace. When my heart was continually focused on His promises, Who God is, on worshipping Him, I didn’t have space to worry.

Hope. When I sang words like “My soul will rest in Your embrace…For I am Yours and You are mine” I was reminded of all the times that He carried me, blessed me, moved my life forward even when I was less than deserving.

Joy. Your grace abounds in deepest waters…Your sovereign hand…Will be my guide” When I reminded myself, over and over again, that His grace abounds, that I am saved and made free, I could remain joyful in times of sorrow and pain, even when the world felt like it was collapsing around me.

Patience. When I couldn’t see my next steps, I sang “Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me…You’ve never failed and You won’t start now…” I reminded myself of all the times before that He held me up.

Finally, Closer. You know that God only wants the best for you? And that whole “be careful what you pray for?” Ya well when you pray “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…And my faith will be made stronger…In the presence of my Savior…” HE ACTUALLY DOES IT. And that’s just one example. I began to realise that the more I prayed prayers that taught me to seek God, to seek the characteristics of Christ that would lead me into deeper, closer relationship with Him, it truly infiltrated all areas of my life. Yeah, a lot of it really hurt, but it was beautiful when the words I once sang as prayers of a desired relationship, became words that described my relationship with God.

And to be honest, it simply brought honesty back into my life and relationship with God. Worship isn’t always an idealistic, focused time with God. Just this Sunday my blood sugar was so low, my mind was elsewhere and worship was okay. It took a LOT of effort to focus. A year ago I would have gone through the motions and left. Instead I reminded myself why I was there, WHO I was worshipping and refocused. I think it’s what they call conviction (wink wink). It’s not about guilt, you can’t build a relationship out of guilt, it’s about an honest, no holds barred, sincere relationship with God.

And dang it’s amazing.

 

 

 

 

An Unapologetic Year

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“You know what attracted you to me? The way you don’t apologise for who you are”

That was 4 years ago and somewhere between that conversation, all the moments, circumstances and conversations past, and the present I changed.

Sure, I tried to get it back. Half-heartedly really; I even began 2015 with a drive to kick some butt. I even wrote a blog about it. I said I wouldn’t be afraid to sing again…

Now, it wasn’t that I completely lost myself, I even took a few steps forward. I got a bit of my backbone together again, I took a huge step in my health (and constantly need to remind myself of that), I achieved a few good bits.

But when I look in the mirror I noticed one thing.

I lost the light in my eyes.

I was looking through some old photos and wondered what was different. Yeah my hair was different, but that’s not abnormal. I am thinner now. Okay, fine. But what? It was deeper, it was in my soul. Cue dramatic music.

Seriously though? What was it that took away my drive? What was it that made the shine disappear.

And then it came to me…quietly. 

I allowed people to affect me. 

I allowed rejection to overcome me. I allowed other’s opinions take over. I allowed other people’s standards to affect mine.

I put less emphasis on the way I wanted to live my life and the dreams I had, the goals I set for myself to be determined by “them”.

oh the dreaded “them”. Who is that? Well,  it can be what we believe others think of us. It can be the parent who doesn’t seem care enough or the boyfriend who breaks up with you. It can be the girls’ at the gym who stare. It can be the boss that tries to bring you down because of his or her insecurities. It can be standards of the culture or world we live in.

Except that years ago I chose not to live by the standards of others. I chose to live for God, with excellence, with grace & forgiveness. 

“Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.”

Well, somewhere along the line I started to apologise.

And somewhere along the line the shine in my eyes started to dim.

We all go through ups and downs in life. The darkest times do often bring the brightest lights, but it’s when we allow those moments, those people to define us, then we lose our way.

No one is perfect all the time. I love the fact that I am a really hard person to read, that I have high standards, that I can swear like the best of them one minute, but then have a philosophical discussion on the existence of love in this world the next. I like the fact that I am not like everyone else and that I live with a hope greater than this world. This world is hard and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.

And I miss the girl who didn’t give a … (ahem)

Because that girl got sh*t done and I have pushed her away for too long.

And I have one life. One moment to make my mark. Why am I allowing anything, anyone to stop that?

No longer.

I will find my focus. You find yours. I will not apologise for who I am. I will be more vulnerable. I will dream more. I will take time to do what I need to do. I will say yes and I will say no. I will not allow fear to overcome me but instead remember that I have been given a spirit which overcomes fear. I will sing. I will dance. I will watch obscure movies. I will kiss more. I will worship more. I will be me. Can you be you? Because I love it when you are you.

So, here is to 2016 and letting that light shine.

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ‘A Return To Love’ (1992) by Marianne Williamson

I don’t do Resolutions, per se (or how I will spend 1 January)

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About eight years ago I started a tradition.

I take a day, early in the new year, or just before the clock turns past 12 and write the vision.

Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Write the vision
And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets
So that the one who reads it will run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time
It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail.
Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it,
Because it will certainly come; it will not delay. Hab 2:2-3

Many years ago I read a story about a class who did an experiment. They were asked to come up with goals. Some wrote goals, some wrote specific goals, other just came up with them. 10 years post-graduation, of those who wrote them down and made them specific, they were wealthier and more successful than 95% of the class. That inspired me. Set your vision and make it plain.

My yearly goals aren’t simply “I will make x amount of money by x date”. I truly take this time as a period of reflection. Phone goes on flight mode, ear-cancelling headphones go on, coffee is in it’s place.

First, give thanks.

‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God…for you.’ I Thess 5:18

Before we can reflect we should give thanks that you’re still here. We aren’t promised more than today and we survived another year.

Then, I get into it…

This is a time to reflect on the year. A time to celebrate what I achieved. A time to think back on where I could have improved. It is a time to see how I was challenged and what I learned. It is a time to think about who I want to spend more time with in the coming year and who may need to step out of my life in the forthcoming season. It is a time to think, pray and ponder over the word or words that will govern my life in the next year. It is a time to set specific goals financially, spiritually and for my health. It is a time to ask God to breathe into my plans, to take away that which will not benefit me in the next season. It is a time to ask Him for whose life I need to speak into. It is a time to be silent.

I then write it all down. I don’t give myself a limit. I don’t stress. I simply write.

Then, after it’s all unconsciously and metaphorically, on the table…I begin to define. Some things stay in my notebook, others become real in terms of setting dates and making plans to fulfil goals.

It’s a process, but it is one that I not only look forward to, but also find to be some of the best therapy of the year.

You see, it’s easy to look back on a year and forget. We see that which has impacted us the hardest or most powerfully. We see our flaws, instead of our victories.

This small chunk of my year has become sacred and I hope that it will become a part of your year too.

How to be a Badass

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2015. You really surprised me. You brought some of the most challenging moments of my entire life. You stripped me bare. You revealed parts of me that I had hidden away and some I had never known. You made me cling to my God and to shake people from my life. You gave me the drive to change my life. You are a year I want to say “get behind me” and yet I know that so much was taught to me.

So, 2015. I thank you. Thank you that you are almost done. Thank you that you showed me that I am stronger than I have ever been. Thank you for teaching me to be a badass.

Ultimately we all understand that circumstances happen to us, but they need not hurt us, they can define us.

2016 is going to be one of those culmination years. It will be a year where all that the last four years, all the difficulties, the sowing, the pushing through, will bring the harvest. How do I know this? Because I will make it happen. I am going to be a badass…but how?

“To win battles you need to have the right strategies and resources because victories are not by accident” -The War Room

  1. I am going to fill myself good. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31b-32. If it means pasting post it notes up in every inch of my room I know that when I hear the voice of the one who created me, I am inspired and know my value and worth.
  2. I will fall on my knees. Maybe not always literally, but I have learned that in the most difficult times of my life, if I pause and, even in a whisper, surrender my moments to God, I am filled with peace.
  3. I will stop listening to the voices. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” John 4:7 We all have a purpose on our lives and the greatest battle we face is that of the devil trying to stop us. But the battle has already been won and we simply need to stop the voices, whether they’re in our heads or from the critics. I am really great at going to the dark places in my mind, and sometimes I pause there, sometimes I allow it to fuel my creativity, but I never allow it to take me down. Allow the dark to fuel the fight, not to consume.
  4. I will seek inspiration in the every day. Whether it’s a good book, a long walk, a sweat-filled work out, or even dancing around the house to a good song, I choose to seek out what will drive me forward.
  5. I will learn to be vulnerable. I think one of my greatest lessons I have learned is to be more open. One of my favorite parts of this year was meeting someone who brought out aspects of me I didn’t share with a lot of people. It was only in the letting go of everything that I was able to trust this person enough to, in turn, get to know myself better. I stopped thinking of how I should act or what should happen and allowed myself to be. I hope that 2016 will bring more vulnerability.

Being a badass may look very different to you. To me a badass will mean being a woman who doesn’t doubt her confidence. Who continues to find her value in Christ. Who doesn’t care if people don’t think she is their cup of tea. Who finds the beauty in the waiting and in the truth. She finds freedom in understanding that she is an onion waiting to be peeled, layer by layer and it’s okay to only allow some people to see each of those layers. She is a badass because she loves unconditionally.

I hope that I can inspire you, even a little, to be a badass, whatever that means to you.

 

 

 

 

Cause I’m Gonna Make This Place Your Home (Or a love letter to Stockholm)

for the blog depaysement Daniel Dalton, buzzfeed unsplash.com

Var kommer du ifrån?” She asked. He said *just tell her you’re from Liljeholmen

It’s taken three years. After three years of living in London I already was calling myself a Londoner for two years, but Sweden has been different. Slower. Life in Stockholm is slower than life in London. By miles. It’s smaller, more beautiful, it’s different. I am different because of it (and that’s for another day).

And yet still, to say “I’m from Stockholm” has yet to cross my lips.

I guess the accent will always give it away, Swedish has yet to feel like second nature as French or any other language has so easily come. But it will get there.

Maybe it’s my subconscious fighting against settling in a place I never thought I would end up.

And yet, there’s no place I would rather be. 

This summer, as I looked for a new job, I had the world at my finger tips. My language skills, network and varied citizenships make doors open for me. And yet, a nagging feeling, a lack of peace determined my steps, guided my job hunt journey.

Something kept me from leaving. More than leaving, something ensured I stayed, planted, rooted. Even through the frustrations of rejection and boredom…and some pretty crappy summer weather. Filled with days swimming, cool nights at the outdoor cinema, long walks through the city. Stockholm became home.

And I think I have become more Swedish than I ever realised. 

I leave for Russia tomorrow and I am pretty certain that on Saturday evening, a week from now, when I step off the plane, back here in Sweden I will be so happy.

I will have missed the fresh air that is really like no other place I have lived or been. I will be happy to come back to my (much more) minimalistic flat, that thanks to the help of some has become better and better lately. I will come back to the coffee, the candles, the blatant disregard for social mores of constant communication that both frustrates me and builds trust.

But more, I will have missed the people.

When I first arrived I was addressed with the ubiquitous question “so, how long are you staying?” which soon grew tiresome and although I still get it sometimes I ignore it. For the answer is and always will be, This is my home, length of stay to be determined. This frustrating question came with the Swedish tendency to not take people in right away. Probably stemming from years of staying in the country, friendship groups known from childhood and the centricity of familial relationships. Outsiders are not easily welcomed in.

But please take this not as criticism, for I don’t mean it that way. Instead, it’s a part of Swedish mys, or comfort. It takes time to build real relationships (Friends, dating…), but those friendships, those relationships, once solidified, last forever.

This is likely the reason we don’t have to call or text as much here. Or perhaps why, in secular Swedish society, sambo, or a common-law relationship is common, why dating works very differently here. Once you know you know.

At least these are the observations of one would-be Swede.

And that is what I will be so happy to come home to in one week’s time.

Those relationships I have built over the last three years, some from the beginning, and some from just the last few months. It’s the people who text me at random times, no matter what country I am in. Those who have taken the time to get to know me for me. It’s all those wonderful people who make home home.

For those people I am so thankful.

I am thankful for the fikas, the evenings sipping wine, the nights filled with tears, the lunches, the gym dates, the movies…or just the simple act of cooking together.

Sure I love Sweden. Yes I love all the little aspects of Swedish culture that sets it apart from no where else….but it’s the people.

To those people, who know who they are, whatever the future hold, thank you for making this place home.

A Beautiful Mess (or the post I cried writing)

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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?😉