Sometimes I just need to shut up

God will direct

“shut up, shut up, shut up!!” (Black Eye Peas song in your head yet?)

Do you ever scream that at yourself? You can hear yourself talking, babbling on and you just.can’t.stop.

I do. I talk when I get nervous. Recently sitting across from someone, after dinner, chatting, I knew I should just stop talking and enjoy the moment, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t keep silent because I did not know what would happen if I just stopped. I was scared. If I stopped talking I’d lose control of the conversation and anything could happen. (really I’m not neurotic…)

Sometimes I create noise just so that I don’t have have to stop and see what happens next. If I keep going…then at least I know where I am headed.

The thing is, I reckon we do that a lot with God. We keep ourselves busy, we fill the silence with talking, with internet, with music, with thoughts, with whatever distracts us from hearings God’s voice. If we keep talking or keep planning…keep ourselves, busy, then we can direct our lives. When we create a lot of noise then we allow ourselves to remain in control.

We say that we want what God has for us. We say that we trust God. We say that we want His plan but then our actions speak differently.

Recently I awoke early and did not need to get out of bed so I put on some worship music. Playing softly the words of “Oceans (where feet may fail)” filled my room and as I quieted my heart and mind I was again reminded of God’s providence.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

I think of Peter when God called him onto the water. When he kept focused on God’s voice he walked fine. HE WALKED ON WATER! Seriously, this guy just got out of a boat, in a storm and walked on water. Have you tried walking on water lately? I live in Sweden and the closest thing I get is walking on ice. Walking on water is simply not possible without God. In fact, many things aren’t possible without God.

When Peter began to listen to the noise around him, he began to sink. It was more than the fact that he stopped focusing on God. He just could not shut up. While he may not have been literally been talking, the voices in his head allowed doubt to enter his mind and heart and change his direction. In this case, it was actually DOWN…he was sinking. However, when we shut out all the voices, the opinions, the advice and listen to what God is saying, our direction, our paths, remain straight.

God gave us his word to light our path.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6

He said he goes before us and prepares the way.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

We can trust him to lead us and give us the best.

It’s really time to cut out the noise. I am a proponent for good, strong wisdom from friends and mentors. We need community to live our lives and we need input from others. However, sometimes we take that too far and instead of praying about it, searching His word or simply being still, and we just listen to everyone else. Well, everyone has an agenda. Other people do not see your entire future. We exist within space and time and a specific context. While advice and input is important we must keep our hearts focused on the one whose love is unconditional, who knows your days, and the number of hairs on your head. have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?

So, I am learning to just shut up…in all areas of my life…and trust that the next steps are His best for me.

Psalm 46:10 says that we need to be still and know that God is, well God.

Commitment…it’s a scary word.

commitment

This is a simple post. Nothing ground breaking or revolutionary. It’s a post about the simplest yet the most complicated aspect of life. It’s about love.

Actually, it’s about more than that…it’s about commitment.

A couple married 65 years were asked how they have stayed married for such an extraordinary amount of time. Their answer: “we come from a time when we fixed what was broken instead of simply throwing it away.”

One of my favourite movies of all time is When Harry Met Sally. More than the story itself  (although it’s got some funny lines!!) I adore the vignettes that run throughout the film, where  elderly couples tell stories about how they met. Each with a unique and very amusing story. My favourite line is “At that moment I knew I knew like you know a good melon”

How many times have you walked down the street and seen an older couple walking, holding hands and gone “aww”? Or maybe, like me, you recently watched as a gentleman of around 70 stood on the platform, waiting for the train, clutching a bouquet of flowers, and wondered…do you think he gets those for his wife every week? or even every day? I wonder what the occasion is?

Some people dream of an epic romance, some simply want to be married (the latter, I feel sorry for). I want a best friend. Someone who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts. Someone whose passion for life, people and God shines. Someone who will dance with me at 3am in the middle of the kitchen when life is a bit too hard, to celebrate or just because we want to.

I want a love that knows that when things are broken you fix it.

I reckon that there’s not enough of that in our lives nowadays. Commitment. Honour. Devotion.

In a world that is becoming more transient it’s easier to think that someone better will come along. In a world where there’s plenty of opportunity to not commit to the job that you have been entrusted with. In a world where consumer goods are becoming less expensive or upgrades, updates and new versions are constantly available, not to be satisfied with what you have because getting something new is just too easy.

So instead of flaking out, throwing it away or giving up…

Let our yes’s be yes and our no’s be no. Let’s be people whose word means something. Let’s fall in love with our best friend and make it work because the world needs examples of people who just don’t give up.

Let’s keep running the race…let’s commit.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith -2 Timothy 4:7

Break the Walls Down

Walls01

And you got nowhere else to go
And you’re lost within your own home
And you’re trying so hard to win
You keep trying its embarrassing
And how you don’t even know
But you know you’re off the tracks
And how did you get in here
Thinking how did I get in here

I’ll help you break the walls down
I’ll help you break the walls down
And bust you out and take you home
Believe in me you are not alone
I’ll help you break the walls down

-The Rocket Summer, Walls

Brick by brick. Stone by stone.

With each broken promise, with every dream never realised, with each empty word falling flat, the walls were built.

With each slanderous word, with each whisper of gossip, with each backstabbing thought, the walls were built.

With each painful glance at the mirror, with each damaging thought, with each murmur of self-doubt, the walls were built.

With each break up, with each broken friendship, with each moment of abuse, the walls were built.

Brick by brick. Stone by stone.

The walls went up. and up. and up.

-mp. 2013

Your walls look different than mine. Mine may be brick, with graffiti and big windows. Yours may be concrete, scratched by years of pain or maybe wood, damaged by the rain of tears.

Walls are dangerous. While healthy boundaries force you to look up and keep you protected, walls keep you hidden, closed off and unable to grow.

A lot of the time our walls are invisible to us. The walls we have built are for protection against more pain (in whatever form). They keep the abuser at bay, they keep the potential of heartbreak from existing, they hold the world away.

These walls are usually not visible to others, in fact, often over compensation leads those around you to believe you are just fine. We act out in order to preserve our dignity; over compensate to hide the pain.

Admittedly I have built walls more than once in my life. Self-preservation yielded the need to hide, to run away, to close off so that as not to allow someone else to tell me that I wasn’t good enough…

I stopped writing, stopped singing, stopped being me because “me” wasn’t good enough.

Most recently I built up walls around my heart. My mom told me I am stand offish. I’m not even sure that’s a real word but apparently whenever she sees someone show interest I turn into stone.

What I thought was healed was merely mended. Although no longer in pain the next step, the one that would allow me to move on was to break down the walls.

For the former, breaking down the walls meant getting up in front of a whole lot of my friends who had never heard me sing and just belt it out at a friend’s wedding in France. It was there that I found the courage to break the walls down and believe that I was enough.

Now, for me, it’s vulnerability of the heart. In this case, when it comes to my heart, it means letting someone in again. It means even simply allowing myself to be myself with another person, to let him see me, to know me, to consider the possibility of more. It’s often a prayer, a cry out to God, going…protect me Lord, because I’m trying here…

The thing with walls is, that even if they were built because of something done to us, we choose to be victims and build the walls. Walls are built because we do not feel that we are enough. We may not feel that we can overcome the pain, the abuse, the heartache…whatever the case may be (and to varying degrees these things are not easy and may require, in some cases, professional assistance*), but they do take a first step of believing that we are good enough for a complete and fulfilled and whole life.

Understanding your value and knowing you are completely worthy of being whole is not easy. It requires acceptance of flaws, understanding that no one is perfect, and most importantly, I believe, the knowledge that you were created with a plan in mind. Intricately, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Knowing that the King of Kings loves you and planned your very existence can help break those walls down.

He wants you to be whole, to live a full life, in relationship with Him and in healthy relationship with others.

go on, let Him break your walls down.


side note: if you or someone you know needs professional help please contact your local church or medical professional, or talk to a friend. We’re not in this life alone. x

A Lesson to my 18 year old self…

the past

author’s note: I wrote this a few weeks before I moved to Sweden. I didn’t share it then, but I thought why not? We can always learn from our past. 

I was 22 with a degree plus a bunch of other letters in front of my name…I packed my bags, booked a plane ticket and moved to England, alone. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, or what was next;  I only knew that I wanted out of Canada and that I liked the idea of being in PR. Admittedly I have spent a lot of the last seven years trying to figure this all out…

So here I am…a few years past 18… and my life just changed all over again…I cannot tell you what you should do for a living or who you should marry but I can tell you what I have learned…a girl, trying to be a good woman and trying to honour this life I have been given while I’m here…

1. Don’t expect the world to do anything for you…instead, expect to be the person who goes above and beyond.

You will stand out in whatever environment you are put in, whether it’s work, serving in church or living with your new housemates. When you choose to put in the extra bit of effort that will be seen. My boss was always amazed that I ask for reviews every 3-6 months; however I’m the only one in our team who has been promoted twice in three years. Go the extra mile and people will notice…

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

2. Don’t get expect to stay in the same job for the rest of your life…instead, be faithful in what you are doing, take opportunities and let that which gets you excited guide you.
I left my post-secondary education believing I was going to walk into my perfect PR job and just be fabulous. What a shock when 2 months into living in London I had already been a temp and started working back at Starbucks. It took four and a half years before I landed my PR role which I loved and which has formed the basis for my future studies and owning my own company. And you know what? All the skills big and small; from learning how to set up a phone system to taking up Dutch (temporarily) as another language, that I picked up working in other roles, were the very things that got me that job.
3. Don’t take yourself so seriously…instead, laugh at the awkward moments, understand your heart will heal and that who you are is far more important than what you do. 

I have to say I spent far too much of my 20s caring what others thought of my job, my looks, the boys I dated and where I was going to be in 30 years. Then one day I heard a very popular Christian folk singer from New Zealand talk about how God created me to show love and be loved and at that moment my life changed (albeit slowly and it was a process). It was easier to be generous with my time, my finances, my entire being. I could just be me and as I allowed myself to be comfortable in that I began to really become the woman God created me to be.\
4. Don’t live a mundane or mediocre existence…instead, live a life full of passion.
Whatever you love, go for it. Do everything you do like you only have today…because honestly, that’s all we’re promised. Love with all your heart. Eat well. Exercise with effort. If you love writing, write all the time. If you love coffee, become your own at home expert. People who live life with passion go far and are far more interesting than those who just get on with it… 

“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15
 
And when life gets too hard, stop, breathe and thank God He gave you life…the life you’re living, your unique and perfect existence. Remember you can only make the impact that you can make. No one else can be you, so go out, be you in every way…

Inside the Frame

mise-en-scene.

It’s the term that describes how actors are framed within a scene. It is how the director places characters so the story is best told.

It’s a very French word for framing.

We all do it. When we take a photograph whether on film or digital. Whether you intend to print it and hang it on the wall or put it up on instagram, you frame the moment.  When taking the photo, you keep or take away that which you want to remember or forget.

We do that with life most of the time. We look at the moments framed by the present. We see the here and now and understand our past or future within that context. What is often forgotten, what is often left outside of the frame, is that the Author of our lives is outside of time.

This past week I had the absolute privilege of taking up 14 of our youth up to the mountains along with 3 of our other youth leaders. One night as we were getting everyone to bed I stopped in the hall to speak with one of the pastors leading the camp. She and I started talking and realised that we had a mutual friend, from Canada, in common. As we spoke, we found out that actually we have a couple of friends in common. I was so excited. First, having any connection to something from home but even more because it was an answer to a prayer from earlier in the evening.

You see, being in Sweden, is really not where I thought I would be. In fact, if I’m completely honest, which I try to be on here, I did not think (or rather I hoped) that I would not leave London single. Don’t get me wrong I have no inherent problem being single I just didn’t think that I would have to start again, “all alone”. I sat in our evening service and cried, trying to hide the tears as they fell with no control down my face. Part exhaustion, but mainly simply the feeling that I had been left all alone to start over again, in a country where I’m just beginning to speak the language, still having those moments where I laugh, simply because someone else is, and where I’m still adjusting to the differences in culture. Where, being a student again, I’m just not sure what is next. Of course I’m living life here as if I’m staying forever, but I don’t have a crystal ball and like anyone, it’s not always easy to know what that next step is going to be.

It was just a moment, and I stopped, prayed and just asked God, again, to give me a sign, a big one, to remind me of His goodness, His plans, His grace on my life.

And He did…in the form of one blonde, Swedish pastor.

You see, that meeting reminded me of what brought me to Sweden. Sure I went back to school to do my MSc. Practically, that brought me out here, but more than that I can see now that it was so much more. If I look back at the snap shots of life I look at moments I have framed individually in my mind.

1) I was 12 years old and I met LJ whose older sister KA would later become a dear friend and end up living in Stockholm.

2) My mom took me to “dinner in Sweden” one night when I was visiting her when she was living in Denmark.

3) Randomly meeting a guy from Gothenburg in London and learning to count from 1-10 in Swedish while trying to stay awake all night to catch our flights.

4) Connecting A into her first connect group in London and she eventually moved back to Stockholm and became part of our church here.

5) Moving to London and shortly after, meeting another A, who eventually moved back to Stockholm and is part of Hillsong here as well.

6) Meeting D on the Underground in London and then KA ending up in her connect group in Stockholm.

7) Coming to Stockholm from London, for work and realising how many people I knew already…

Seven simple and very brief snapshots of life. Individually, they mean nothing. They are simply pictures put in frames, memories, good times, moments left in the past.

But put pictures together and flip them really fast and what you get is a film.

There’s a theory in Film studies called the Auteur theory. It says that the film directly correlates to the author’s vision.

My life, your life, has an author. He began my story many many years ago. He wrote it perfectly and with such care to ensure every detail was carefully written out as to make the perfect life for you. Things are not always going to go perfectly and there may be a few extra shots in their that are not ideal, but the film has an ending and with Him all things are worked out for good.

I may not know how my film ends yet (and believe me, I am confident that there is still much more to be accomplished) but now, as I look back at the “dailies” of my life so far (that which has been already filmed), then I see that the Author of my life has a strong, firm vision and I can fully trust in it.

Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding…Proverbs 3:5

trust