When the Night was Total Darkness

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I won’t lie, I still watch young adult TV all the time. For me, watching television and film are one of the few ways I can completely switch off my brain and relax. It is my often my escape.

I follow the TV show Switched At Birth and have since it’s pilot episode. It covers a lot of topics, in the messy way that real life happens and I enjoy it. Sure, it’s still television and therefore reality is often suspended, but nevertheless, it is as close to life as possible.

Yesterday I tried to watch the latest episode, which came with this warning:

Tonight’s episode contains story lines dealing with sexual consent. Viewer discretion advised.

I am 31, I can handle it. Right? Except, not…because there were triggers.

The episode revolved around Bay, one of the lead characters, waking up next to a man (she knew) without remembering anything from the evening before. Her memories came only in short flashbacks and understanding how she ended up where she was that morning. 10 minutes into the episode I had to stop.

You can read more about the episode and the issues covered here.

You see, it’s been almost 4 years so I did not think it would affect me.

In the Autumn of 2011 I was invited to a party. It was glamorous, rocking and filled completely with 99.9% people I did not know. The evening began fine. Partying with my “date”, a girlfriend I brought with me, meeting famous and semi-famous people and enjoying the crazy atmosphere.

It must have been around midnight when it all went blank and I woke up past 9am the next morning, in my bed, no phone, no clothes and no memory of the last 9 or so hours.

To this day I remember only flashes of that night. What I do recall and what still often haunts me is the day after. It was the darkness that enveloped my spirit and more clearly my mind. It was the fear of the unknown. It was the inability to recall little more than trying to get into a club, trying to take money out of the bank machine and standing with police. Everything I could remember felt like it was happening in one of those really bad dreams where you can’t wake up, but nothing is really clear either.

It was all that came out of that night’s events…the worry of maybe having been raped. To this day I still feel like I could vomit at the thought. Luckily, I was safe and nothing happened to me. I ended up speaking to the cab driver who got me home. I realised through that conversation that I had been drugged.

Me, the good girl. I had been drugged and it was my fault.

It was in the aftermath that I dealt feelings of guilt, moment of anxiety, fear and frustration. It took an already clear inability or fear of vulnerability to an entirely new level.

I am not writing frivolously, not for attention…I am writing to give a voice, or maybe to add a voice to the many out there that are scared to speak.

You may not have been drugged like me, but there is a day or night, a time of your life that was cast in darkness and you may still be struggling with the effects or how even to get out of it.

For me, it was first and foremost my faith in God that, through time, enabled me to work through the issues that arose from that night. What I am now grateful for is that all I went through enabled me to grow as a person. It was also those around me, who I trusted to tell (and not many know), who showed me who I was and how this was not a reflection of me. You are not your circumstances or that which has happened to you.

You, the person reading this, whose stomach is turning in knots right now, whose eyes are filled with tears. Tell someone. Talk. Know you are valuable and worth being treated as a human. You have the right to feel whole and free.

If you feel you can’t tell someone around you, tell me…you are valuable.

From me to you: a blog without a title

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How do you tell someone that you are actually okay with where you are? How do you admit that you were always convinced that you wouldn’t marry until you were at least 30? More importantly, how do you admit that you allowed other people’s insecurities, life plans and expectations drive you to live outside the peace of God that you had so closely held onto all your life?

For me it was a shameful thing to admit.

When I was about 17 years old I had a very strong vision for my life, one that I do not recall sharing with anyone. It was like a snapshot of my life over the next 15 years, I saw myself in university, I saw myself moving away, I saw a beautiful apartment and a life to be envied. Most strikingly I saw myself single…and really really happy.

So off I went to university and was a happy girl. Sidenote: although I really would not change my life I do still have moments where I wish I had followed the dream and gone to Wellesley, studying only with women who had strong academic goals. Anyway, back to my life…

I went off to university and begun having those conversations. You know them, we all have them…so, when are you going to find a nice boy? Did you hear so and so hooked up? He really likes you, you should date him. The worst was one car ride where my friends spent the entire time driving up to the cabin matchmaking our group of friends so that we were almost all related or connected by marriage. It was a nightmare.

I dated some throughout university, had my many crushes…but really, looking back there was always the prevailing thought, that nagging voice that said “Michelle, you are destined for something so much more than what you would get if you settled here.”

(disclaimer: I have no inherent issues about marrying young, or dating, or any life choice that is different than mine. This is about MY choices and MY destiny (and consequently the man I marry and our children)…

My life was a battle between what was “expected” of me and the vision and dreams God had placed on my heart. Amusingly enough none of the relationships that I had worked out and God used a pretty supernatural moment to get me over to Europe. I moved and settled in my life there.

I love God. I love the hope that Jesus brought and the life that He has given me. I am a person who naturally puts her heart and soul into what she does and so when I moved to London and got a just okay job (because I was so scared to fail) I put my entire heart and soul into church. Understand that I will always do that, but instead of finding a balance on a day to day basis I made my work second and my life at church the priority. I was not actually honoring God in a HUGE part of my life and yet I seemed like I was this good girl. Praise the LORD that we have grace and my life still had fruit and that God used me because of my willingness to serve him. However, on the professional side of my life I was lacking. I was not happy. I hated Sunday nights. I had lost sight of my goals. In actuality I had lost sight of what God put on my heart and therefore almost lost sight of him.

I spent many years pretending. I was sort of happy. I was sort of present in my daily life. I mean, I really do not know of how many people knew that I was not all me…but I knew and God knew. We can so easily hide ourselves in today’s world. Again it is only by God’s grace that I functioned, but this is a WHOLE other topic that I need to save for next week.

So, here I was living my life, going along, making friends and serving in church, but that path that I saw when I was 17? I was so far from it. It hurt to think about all that I was missing. I knew that when I got up each day and went to my various jobs that I was not on the right path. There was something missing, something akin to what I think it feels like to lose an arm. It was a phantom pain.

During this time there was also a lot of guys. Oh gosh. I will not get into detail, but instead of just enjoying friendships and seeing what would happen I began to feel the pressure of the people around me (again) to be discontent in my singleness. It says in the Bible that nothing can be taken away or added that is not from God. Ask me about that one day. I have 100 different stories. In hindsight (so wise hindsight is) my struggles in dating and relationships came from the fact that I was fighting God’s plan for me. He makes straight our paths, he levels mountains…he goes before us (Is 45) but if we are not following behind him…we can still be walking crookedly and climbing mountains when the narrow, calmer path sits parallel to ours.

I was a lost little soul and it was not until I felt like I had hit rock bottom that something changed. Work, love…it all escaped me. I was not even myself completely. I prayed and asked God to reveal who he wanted me to be again. My journey, too long for this post, took a number of steps including spending a 6 month period praying each week to make a commitment to love God. It meant jumping in deep and looking for a job that would be put me on track (even if it meant a pay cut). It meant giving up on dating until I could see clearly again. My vision so blurred by the expectations of others.

In life, some of us spend too much time listening to what others think or say. I believe the term for it is people-pleasers. I remember Phil Dooley speaking about this, about quitting people pleasing and chasing God instead.

It was in my lowest point where I turned my neck and started really chasing God. It was not that I had been away from Him, but that I conveniently allowed others to speak into my life.

You know, it was not all as bad as it seemed and if you speak to those around me now, who knew me then, you would never say “Michelle was not with God”…but there is a difference between loving God and seeking Him first.

It was when my priorities really changed that my life changed the most. Now, I am 31 and God has put me in a place, not without challenges or difficulties, but in a place of GRACE.

I wish some days that I could have just gone back to 17 and kept my eyes and heart focused on what He showed me at such a young age. However, now when God speaks directly into my heart, when He shows me His promises; when he whispers secrets to me that show me what is next, I listen. I listen and I take hold.

I no longer care if my FB feed is COVERED in engagements, weddings or babies. It does not phase me when my friends complain they are single. I do not long for another job or a different life, because I am living my life, my destiny and with God beside me, I will not falter.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

A New Level of Trust

I often hear the term “oh, I am waiting on God”. Actually, not only do I hear that term, but I myself have said it, numerous times, in context of anything from a relationship to a job, to any kind of answer for which I feel like I cannot control. I see it all the time, plastered across numerous blogs, preached in sermons, and most importantly even in the Bible.

In fact, every morning, at 9:55am I get a reminder flashed on my phone:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

It has long been a topic on this blog about allowing God to take control.

Even recently I wrote about having a trust without borders and the lessons in peace and humility that allowing God to have control brought. However, it was not until I was spending time with an amazing friend in NYC that our discussion led to a new and deeper understanding of God and his timing.

You see, in January I strongly felt that God was telling me to stop even considering my next steps and to simply (not so simple) take each day and allow myself to do well with what was in my hands. Whilst I accepted this and as you can read in my post, learned many valuable lessons from that time. Funny though, because just 6 weeks after writing this post I began to get a bit antsy. It was only when I went to NYC and hung out with C that I began to understand what God was trying to teach me next.

10626453_10152435093227091_4653617695945005897_nC and I had not seen each other in years, but as only true friends can, we picked up where we had left out. It was in this discussion that God spoke to me. At first, difficult to articulate, I later came to understand this.

My child, you tell me you trust me, you make all the effort to do what is asked of you, but you still give me timelines.

It hit hard, the realisation that although I gave God my every day, it was with the subconscious understanding that he would provide when in my time. For me that meant that as I finished my thesis, I would go to a few interviews and miraculously I would have a job before the end of summer. Funny thing, our timing, it is rarely, I hasten to even say, never God’s.

Now, while God continually and faithfully provided for me from June to October when I finally got my full time position, it was not in the manner I saw coming.

Do you not believe, live in the complete understanding that I love you so much that I want to give you my very best. I see the desires of your heart, the longings of your soul, I put them there. I love you enough to keep you from that which will not be my best for you.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matt 6:33 (AMP)

It is much easier to say you will trust God for a spouse until you are in your 30s and you see your body adding hair in places you did not want.

It is much easier to trust God for that job until you are dangerously close to running out of money.

It is much easier to trust God for that new apartment until you have just bought another one and you have not sold your first.

It is always easier to trust God on our terms. For me, it used to be hard to trust God in even the small things…but as we grow, as we mature, God allows us to be stretched and grow. It used to be that I would take a job just because I was worried I could not pay the bills. This time, I trusted and I waited on Him…and again, he showed me His love in beautiful and even outstanding ways.

I guess what I am trying to say is that…

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. Isaiah 41:10

Allow your trust in God to stretch you further, wait on Him…the answers will come…it may not be as tangible as a house, or a husband, it may be a lesson in understanding your purpose, your place, your destiny…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

A Trust Without Borders

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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. Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters…Wherever You would call me.

When Jesus called Peter out of the boat and onto, not into the water Peter’s first mistake was taking his eyes off his Saviour. When he focused his attention back on Jesus he miraculously walked across water.

January 2014 I made a very strong decision to live as much in the moment as I could. Although I have goals and dreams I made the conscious decision to take each day as it came, putting all that I could into each day and allowing each step to determine the next. I was going to keep my eyes on Jesus.

Almost 10 months later I wish I could tell you that it was the most joyous ten months I have ever experienced. I wish I could say that each day was filled with joy and new understandings of God and beautiful flowers blooming next to the paths that I walked along to get wherever I needed to be. I wish I could tell you that in those moments, which stacked into days and months I had Snow White-esque interlopers of birds hanging my clothes and wee squirrels sweeping the floor. I wish I could tell you that seemingly out of nowhere the man of my dreams walked up and declared his hidden love to me in a move so romantic, so over the top that I was maybe being punked and Ashton Kutcher might have made an appearance in Stockholm. I even wish I could tell you that my perfect job fell into my lap as one day I opened the door to the library, pausing for a moment and seeing that someone had chased me down the street because I “looked like the exact person they needed working for them”.

Yeah, absolutely none of that happened. (I may have to write a movie though…)

What happened was different. What happened, what is still happening now was something that is almost too personal to share, but too significant to hide.

Rather than writing a long essay which postulates on the grander theological reasoning behind why this happened and how I’ll simply share, in a few bullet points what it meant to be, what it means to me to really step out onto the water and be lead by the Spirit.

Peace. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

I once believed that peace meant that you had to feel great and that it was something that made you smile leaving you with happy thoughts and rainbows coming out as you spoke of how much at peace you are with a decision.

The peace I have become accustom to over the past few months is something I have never experienced. It’s a peace that truly passes understanding (Phil 4:7). Let me explain what that feels like. This peace is one that not only allows you to say “I’m looking for work”, but one that needs no explanation as to why you have yet to find a job. This peace is a confidence in the promises of God to prosper you and to not harm you. This is a peace that knows that when you are doing what you can, God will do the rest.

This is a peace that allows you to say “I’m okay being single” and not following it up with some sort of excuse such as “I’m not ready, or maybe he’s not ready, or maybe I need to lose weight, or where different clothes or try Tinder”.** This is a peace that says I’m okay with being single because being single is not a disease or a simply a season waiting to end (although it probably is simply a season). This peace knows that every period of my life prepares me for the next and MOST of the time I did not know what the next season looked like or how the current season’s lessons would bring me forward, and yet still it did.

Peace won’t always feel great, but this peace is one that is steadfast because my Saviour doesn’t change and wants the best for his children.

Humility

A large part of the last ten months was spent writing my Masters thesis. This meant a gigantic portion of my time writing…alone…in a library or some odd cafe which contributed greatly to my caffeine addiction. Writing a thesis is a process I really wish everyone had to go through. There is something about doing your own research that teaches you a multitude of lessons, the least of which is self-discipline. This process though taught me a lot about humility. In those last few weeks when I thought I had pretty much screwed up my entire thesis or in the beginning when I questioned my topic, I was surrounded by friends, professors and colleagues who helped me understand myself and straighten out some of the wires that were causing my brain to explode. Far more than grateful this process, alongside this daily surrender of a plan to God helped me become more humble. You can ask my parents, I have been self-sufficient from a young age and these moments when I doubted myself and had to ask for help gave me a sense of my part in this huge world and a desperate need to humble myself when I needed to call for help.

It may seem like a strange comparison but when we cannot even ask for help from those who surround us, then how can we ever seem to ask for help from God. God is seemingly untangible in the human realm. We cannot physically see or touch him, although I have in moments felt his tangible presence. Believing in God takes faith, is faith. When we first learn to allow others around us to help us, to let them in, we can further allow God to help us, take care of us and protect us.

Joy

I have a great sense of joy. I have known the ups and downs of life, but I must admit that some of my previous tendency to plan every inch of my life has robbed me of the joy of some experiencing the here and now. One night this summer my friend R and I decided we were in dire need of really good pizza. Sadly my body and I do not agree on what I like and what it allows me to eat so once in a while I go hunting for really good pizza, even though I will suffer after. R and I combed the streets of Stockholm and searched the internet for the best pizza in the city. We “stumbled” across a place, a bit off the track that has room for about 10 people on a good day and only opens at 4pm. Forgetting everything else that needed to be done we went along and had what I believe was one of the best pizzas I had ever eaten, washed down by craft beer and experienced in what felt like a genuine Italian eatery. Following this we decided we had to buy our amusement park passes that moment and after walking all over town we ended up at the amusement park where a concert was taking place. What began as a plan to grab coffee turned into one of the most lovely nights I had. R and I allowed ourselves to enjoy every moment of the evening and not worrying about what we had to do. I don’t recommend throwing caution to the wind, but that day without a plan will forever be a great memory and a time where R and my friendship was sealed.

These past few months, allowing each day to come and also allowing myself to enjoy the moment, not worrying about what might come or what might be happening in that moment, has opened me up to a greater joy than I had experienced before. It’s like joy on steroids. I’m not sure that is an appropriate analogy…but I’ve learned that allowing yourself to live in the moment discards the worry, the striving, the anxiety.
I write this all not only to you, but to me as a reminder. I’m still in job search mode, still apartment hunting and still single (haha jokes…), but seriously, I could say that I am living in the in-between and before today I would have said the same.

Except I am not living in the between, I am living. When we live life waiting for the next thing to happen, rushing through to the next step prematurely, then we actually stop living. Living is more than waiting for the next iPhone to come out or the next holiday. Living is breathing in each day, enjoying whatever time you have in each situation and with whomever. Living is joy, peace, contentment…

I challenge you to stop waiting and just live.

 

**The Tinder discussion is an entire other post!

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

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

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

I did.

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

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

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

The reason?

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

My purpose is to remind you of this: 

You are enough.

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

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

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

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

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

We need to stop the photoshopping of who we are.

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

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

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

Psalm 139:13-16 states,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

H.O.M.E

It feels like home to me…

Just know you’re not alone, Cause I’m going to make this place your home…

Another aeroplane, another sunny place, I’m lucky, I know. But I wanna go home, Mmmm, I’ve got to go home…

Ahh, Home…Let me come Home…Home is wherever I’m with you (2x)

La la la la, take me Home, Baby, I’m coming Home…

And finally…

There is no place like HOME.

I think that HOME just might be important to people…

So, what is home?


What does it mean to you?

When you see the word home, when the word passes your lips do floods of warm memories of your childhood home come flooding in? Or perhaps bad memories engulf your thoughts? Perhaps the immediate image is that of the kitchen you had today’s morning coffee in, or the apartment in the last city you lived in. It may even be that home has many meanings to you.

Before I continue on, I’ll give you a bit of my story. I was raised in British Columbia, Canada. My parents worked full-time so I was raised by a village and subsequently I had many houses to live in: my grandparents, my baby-sitter’s and my own house. We then moved into a new house at 13 and at 18 I moved across the country to attend university. There I first lived in residence halls, then in a house then apartment with friends. Meanwhile my parents had divorced and were living in separate houses with new spouses. My belongings packed up and stored. Shortly after university I moved to England where in seven years I lived in 5 different housing situations, mostly with friends but once on my own. I have since moved to Stockholm and live in an apartment with two others who, before I moved in, were strangers and I plan to eventually move in with a friend.

Woah, now that’s a mouthful, but hang on with me…

If HOME is a building, something I attach myself, my memories, my life too then what happens of my heart when that changes?  Am I left with no home? Or a permanent sense of belonging? I say no.

When someone asks me where home is I really do not have an answer. This question is usually paired with, well, where is home? I can’t really say Canada because that’s not the entire story. If I say London, I get a look wondering where my accent is and if I said Germany (where I hold citizenship) I have to explain that I have never lived there.

So…do I have a home?

Home, to me is a not a place, it’s not a person, it’s not even a place that is permanent.

Some say that home is where the heart is…and if that’s the case my home is in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The United States, Germany, England and Sweden. My heart is in all those places. I have friends and family, each of whom have a piece of my heart.

So, to me, home is more than where my heart is. Home is a state of mind. It’s a place where I may have lived; it’s a place where I have loved. It’s a place where I am safe and protected and secure.

Home is not a permanent fixture. The first house I ever lived in on Peacock Place is not “home”. At least not the only home I have had. It is a place where memories lie dormant but it’s not complete understanding of home to me.

For some, you may never leave your childhood city or even move out of the home you grew up in (who knows each circumstance). Some of you may be even more extravagant like a beautiful friend of mine who has not stopped travelling for over 5 years moving from place to place to place on a grand adventure. For each of us home will look differently but the most important thing to remember, to even get away from is the dictionary definition of what home is.

The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.

Get that out of your mind. It’s a constraint, a lock, a wall.

Home is where you make it, the people you let  in and the memories you have and will make.

If what you experienced as home hurt you, than make new memories.

If your childhood home is no longer there, then build a home where you are at now.

If, like me, the physical representation of home changes constantly, feel not weary or displaced but blessed that the world is your home, your family expansive, diverse and full of love.

I think I love the song that says…”home is wherever I’m with you”…

Because YOU are important to me.

A new year…

So, around February last year I started this blog up again. Since then it’s been growing and growing.

I’ve decided to re-do the site and make a couple of manageable changes. These are meant to help me give you a better blog and to ensure I’m keeping all my commitments.

I’m going to be working with the lovely Kory to redesign the blog, which I’m super excited about!

I’ve also decided that I’ll be posting on Thursday from now on. This way I keep up my schedule and you will always know when a new post is coming.

Occasionally I’ll add something important on other days but until then check back next Thursday for a new blog.

Before you go, many of you know I also write for So Worth Loving and it happens that today you can pop over here and see my new blog post.

Hope you enjoy!

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xx michelle

I will be a better me

A better me

1st of January.

I love that day. Growing up in the Northern Hemisphere, January is generally crisp and cool. The air feels clean and clear and full of expectation.

Around the world people are waking up with hope and expectancy. Some have said goodbye to a year of pain and for others the year will begin with blissful memories of a year gone by. Whatever 2012 was, 2013 is a blank slate, ready for the artist to create a beautiful piece of art.

I wrote in my previous post that 2012 was nothing that I imagined it to be; change was the word of the year. Truthfully, I spent most of 31 December excited to say goodbye to 2012. It was not that it was the worst year in the world or that nothing good came out of it, so much good came out of it. It was simply that there was little rest in 2013.

So this year, I plan to rest.

REST

Verb 

1. Cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or to recover strength

2. Remain or to be left in a special condition

Noun

1. An instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity

2. The remaining part of something

For me, resting does not mean doing nothing. Instead of being the instigator of more change I will build. A house stands because it is built on a firm foundation and this year my resolutions/goals are based simply around building…

I simply plan to be a better me…in all areas of my life.

I look forward to 2013, with great expectation. I know that there will still be change, that life will move forward, that the unexpected may knock me off guard and I’ll celebrate the joyous moments as well…but I also know that this year is not a year to instigate but to rest, to pause, and to consider…to Selah…with hope and expectation that He who created me, brought me to exactly where I am now and my responsibility is to honor that.

I wonder what YOUR 2013 will be. Is  it a year of change? It is a year of rest?

Why not take some time to stop, think and pray…and consider the year ahead.

do not just let life happen around you.

love x

dear past

It takes two or “I’m glad we met”

You know, a lot of the past few months have been spent dealing with the hurt, the pain, the brokenness of the last year. I used this as a place where I could think, feel, express and comprehend everything that had gone on. (And with God’s grace, help others in ways I never imagined and for that I’m thankful) And through that entire time there was one thing I never really expressed, the one thing that I always felt but was not ready to say out loud.

When you deal with grief, with brokenness and it involves another person it’s just easier to process what you are going through and not consider the other person. When it comes to breaking up with someone that is more than often the absolute truth. The thing is, that’s okay. It’s okay to just deal with you and to become you again. In my case, find myself, change my life, fix what needed fixing and pursue the dreams I had on my heart for so many years.

For me, I tried a lot, in my prayers, rants and journal entries to understand the other side but frankly, it was not the time.

And then one day that just changed. It’s that moment when you can begin to remember in peace and accept what you knew already: it takes two. There’s always another side to the story, a person on the other other end of the break up. They suffer, they grieve, they hurt and they have their own issues to deal with (because honestly, we all have baggage).

My friend made a comment on Twitter that parents of writers never really get to forget their past mistakes because we use the material in everything we do. Quite frankly, Max Dubinsky was right when he said that you can’t date a writer either, unless you marry them (which he did)…that can’t be easy for the one on the other end.

The other person is human and of course they have to deal with all that went on and move forward. It’s forgiveness, it’s closure and I hope that some day it means a friendly, genuine hello.

We have been given grace beyond what we deserve so we should be giving it too…so for what’s it worth…I’m glad we met…

and for all of you…when it’s time…forgive, forget, remember peacefully…

 

It’s Back to the Basics

I went to a party last night and since it’s customary to take your shoes off when you go into a home here in Sweden I did…and my immediate reaction was “I’m so sorry my feet look terrible and unkept” (sorry mom…)

It’s not that I am a princess who must get manicures and pedicures all the time but quite honestly there are a few things in life that I enjoy doing to make my somewhat hectic life more centred. Admittedly some of these things are very first-world and I could get some flack for calling them basics. So here is your warning: these may not all be basics for everyone but hear my heart and know that life is definitely not “all about me”…

You know those moments where you just want to go crawl into bed and hide for days? Or maybe it is the days that nothing you put on fits right or feels good? Maybe yesterday every time someone even tried to say hello you got overly frustrated and irritated? Maybe just because your boyfriend didn’t call, you cried? Or when the baby just would not fall asleep at 3am, for  2 hours and you felt like you don’t even know why you decided to become a mother or a father. Maybe you feel like your wife hasn’t stopped nagging you for days? Or has your roommate NEVER cleaned up?

These are just a few of what I feel like are evidence of a mind and body that is not taking care of itself. Let’s face it, most of the time when things are not going right around us it’s because of what is happening IN us. I have an amazing friend who often gets my rants when any of the applicable above have happened to me. She is one of the people I have allowed to speak completely freely into my life…and knows everything about me. My favourite reminder from her is always her first question after I have finished my rant, “Chelles, so are you keeping up the basics?”

And…after a momentary pause and a quick evaluation the answer is usually a quite, soft “no”.

When we think of the basics we usually think food and water. Yes, these are the very basics but everyone has their own basics which need to be sorted in order to live a full and healthy life. I have figured out what mine are…some of them are must-must basics and others are every few weeks rather than weekly (like manicures/pedicures) or even hourly but these things in my life mean that I can be the best I can be and fulfil the purpose I have here for others.

So here are mine…and in no particularly order of importance…all have their own place

  • read my bible, listen to worship music, pray: connect to God constantly
  • exercise regularly
  • get a lot of fresh air
  • coffee
  • drink lots and lots of water
  • limit the amount of sugar I ingest (which is almost zero now)
  • eat regularly and unprocessed
  • get my nails and hair done
  • keep warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot (this affects me)
  • get enough, proper sleep (so it doesn’t just mean time but I always make sure my bed is clean, with lots of pillows and blankets. It’s my oasis)
  • talk to my friends regularly
  • connect with my family regularly

These are my basics…you’ll have your own (although a lot of these will overlap). We’re all different and I encourage you to find out your strengths and weaknesses (for example; I’m an extrovert, so I get energy from being around people, HOWEVER, I am also an only child and very much know my limitations when it comes to how much alone time I need (it’s more than most think))

Take some time and remember that you need to be the best you can be so it’s okay to understand how you tick. You’ll be better off to your friends, roommates, husbands, wives, kids, boss…we want to live strong and excellent lives so please, invest in the basics.

And if you need a few suggestions for a busy season I found this blog which will give you 55 ways to maintain your sanity…

xxM