Write Your Vision…

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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.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (AMP)

Last night, prior to coming to church, I was thinking about life and what I wanted it to look like.

If you have read any number of posts I have written over the last four years you too may see the red thread, the struggles, the peaks, the values, the celebrations. As I come up to four years of living in Stockholm and pondering, dreaming, making plans for what may come next I have thought of it in the frame of how I see my life unfold.

Three years ago we were challenged, at Hillsong Conference, to write out our vision. Something akin to what Brian wrote many years ago, he challenged us to write our vision our “world that we see”. The Bible says to write your vision and make it plain…so why not?

Last week, as I took some time to think about where my life is today, I opened up my notebook from that time and began reading.

I realised, that although, the life I see, is unfolding now and the circumstances and situations I have experienced are shaping me.

So I am sharing mine with you, baring it all in hopes that you’re encouraged to do the same, to write your vision and see the beautiful and amazing way God answers.

The Life That I See

First and foremost, I see a life governed and framed by the knowledge that God is my Saviour, my hope, my redeemer and that Jesus came for my freedom. The life I see is lived with a resolve that all I do is framed by the conviction and commission that I am here to love God, be loved and show the world that God loves them and His Son died for everyone.

I see a life that is overflowing with God’s love and grace, so much so that people cannot help but ask why life is so different and want the same thing.

I see a life that is framed by grace, but with a longing to live not of this world, but in it, as a light, confronting others in a gentle way, that they understand and want it too.

I see a life that is overflowing in life, not for pride or to brag, but to show all He has done for me. A life where generosity is not simply a term, but a way of life. I see a life where money is no object so that I (and my family) can say yes to any need that may come our way and we feel led to support.

I see a family, who don’t just exist, but live life as a team. I see a marriage where our relationship reflects that of Christ and His church. A marriage, which honours the other person, chooses to love when it feels impossible, where divorce is not an option, where our goal is to help the other person become the best they can be and to see them live out every God-breathed dream and God-given destiny. I see a marriage where we have so much fun together that people always believe we are newlyweds. A marriage where courage and conviction ensures the other stays on path.

I see a home where love is tangible when you walk in the door. A home whose doors are open to friends, family and those in need.

I see a career that has no limits to creativity, financial blessing and strong relationships. I see a business so prosperous that it makes a huge impact on the world, so much that the world has to stand up, take notice and that all glory goes to the God.

I see a life lived in peace, not in fear, in the security of Christ and with courage of conviction. I see a life lived where home is heaven.

 

 

We Danced

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

Every December we danced.

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

That day was my favourite.

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

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

Dancing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“People are without excuse”

I am without excuse, my life is His.

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

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

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

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

He will guide me.

He will open doors no man can shut.

The future is in His hands.

The One about Love

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I’m sitting in a cafe at the moment, waiting for a friend and for the beginning of three days of home-exam torture. I can’t believe the first year of my MSc is over in just a few days.

Back to the immediate present. A man is sat just feet away, dressed in all his finery, well-groomed with Gatsby-esque demeanour exuding from his very presence, something is not quite right. He seems unsettled and nervous until I realise that beside him is a bottle of Taittinger and one of the most beautiful bouquets of roses I have seen ever. I can only imagine what he has planned for the person who will receive that and more, what piece of beautiful prose is hidden in the card that waits its receiver.

LOVE.

What is LOVE?

I stumbled across this video just now and having watched it can only admit that crying in public has become less of an issue recently. Take a moment and watch…it’s only 3 minutes.

That kind of love is the love that dreams are made of, but do we know what that kind of love really is.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

The world needs more of that kind of love. That selfless, undying kind of love in all areas of our lives. From our spouses, boyfriends, sisters, family, friends or simply the person you meet on the side of the road. A love without selfish motivation, a love that looks outward.

“Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not ‘require, demand, anticipate, expect reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving”. -Paul Tripp

That’s the kind of love I want to exude…

The kind of love that doesn’t role it’s eyes when asked to do someone a favour. 

The kind of love that gets up every morning and ensures that breakfast is ready and the coffee is made.

The kind of love that stays up all night when someone just needs to talk. 

The kind of love that doesn’t make snide comments when *that* person begins to talk. 

The kind of love that knows makes people light up inside. 

It’s a lofty goal and one that I am sure I will always be striving towards but it’s a goal and one that I want to work towards for the rest of my life.

Join me?

 

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.

Break the Walls Down

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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 from a Formerly Broken Heart

Time to say goodbye: updated...

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love does not envy.

Love does not boast.

Love is not proud.

Love does not dishonor others.

Love is not self-seeking.

Love is not easily angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but love does rejoice in truth.

Love always protects.

Love always trusts.

Love always hopes.

Loves always perseveres.

One year ago today these verses pressed against my heart. I wrote them in my journal, I pondered the implications of putting this kind of love into action. I thought through how I was demonstrating them and how in so many ways I lacked real love. The words burned into my spirit and I was unable to shake them from my thoughts.

I thought that I was being drawn to these verses within the context of my own relationship. I was in love, or least falling, and my heart was full. We’d had plans and dreams and I felt secure.

God, how can I show love to him more? How do I show real love?

These words etched into my journal in black ink, over and over. God, why are you showing me this?

You see, that relationship, it was my first real relationship. I have never been the girl to jump into anything serious. Sometimes I think I was being protected, other times I wanted to simply run away, other times I don’t think I could be bothered. Either way, this was my first relationship, my first time falling in love and I was gone.

Looking back, the last few weeks of that relationship were a warning sign that maybe something was off and I struggled with how to deal. I spent hours journaling, praying, trying to understand. It was during this time that these verses kept popping into my mind and touching, even scraping at my heart.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love is not easily-angered.

Love is not self-seeking…

Than those words happened that ended it all…

“I can’t love you like you need. I don’t want to.”

Ouch.

I look back over photos from the months following that night. I can still see the sadness in my eyes. Sadness I thought I had hidden in my heart. Many people said I was protected from a hurt much greater than I imagined but when you lose love, more importantly, when you lose that which you love your heart seeks something to grasp onto. I felt like I had nothing. Admittedly, even writing these words has been something I have struggled to do over the past twelve months. Who wants to admit that someone wrecked you? Who wants to admit that you made mistakes in a relationship? Who wants to admit how you felt rejected, broken?

Pride sometimes stood in the way of admitting that it was okay that it was over.

Now, with today being Valentine’s Day, I can admit that there were days I stood in the mirror hating myself. There were days I replayed my entire relationship over and over trying to figure out what could have been done better. There are days where I saw any reminders of him and my heart broke again, not only for my relationship but because I lost my best friend. There were even days I hated him. I think the worst though are the days when you believe love won’t come again. The days when, in my case, you live in an entirely new country, with all new people and you can’t see one day in front of the next. Those days are the scariest for a heart that still has fragile moments. I can admit that there were moments when pride filled my heart and I did not want to tell any one how broken I felt. I felt so unworthy of love.

But slowly, surely and with my heart and mind focused on God He began to reveal to me why those verses burned so deeply days before my relationship ended. He was protecting me before I knew I even needed it. He took the broken pieces of my heart and healed them. Intricately sewing each piece back until the seams were invisible.

Love is patient…in my friend’s ability to let me yammer on about how I was over it…when I wasn’t really.

Love is kind…when my best friend sat with me, letting my cry for hours in her lap.

Love does not envy…standing beside my best friend and soul sister when she got married to the man of her dreams and simply being happy for her.

Love does not boast…when you are celebrating others.

Love is not proud…admitting that I was wrong and apologizing.

Love does not dishonor others…stopping the words to fall out of my mouth when someone wrongs me or others.

Love is not self-seeking…knowing all that your mother gave up for you so you could flourish.

Love is not easily angered…keeping your mouth shut and your heart soft even when you hear lies being told about you.

Love keeps no record of wrongs…remembering the past in peace.

Love does not delight in evil but love does rejoice in truth…making the decision to speak truth for long-term gain instead of short term pain.

Love always protects…knowing when to reveal truth to someone when you know it may hurt.

Love always trusts…taking the next step and letting your heart be open again…

Love always hopes…open to a future with a love greater than what you have already experienced.

Loves always perseveres…trusting the almighty God that His love is so great that He will only bring you better.

LOVE is an action. LOVE is a choice.

So…to quote the ever popular “Love, Actually” then…love, actually is all around.

I’m single and the next time I fall in love I will be better at it. Not because I’m better but because I know God’s love better. I see it in every one around me, I see it in me, I see it in the little ways that God reveals His unconditional, impenetrable and unmoving love.

My hope now is that single or not, my actions, my words, my thoughts demonstrate real love…in all that I do.

love is

On Vulnerability

vulnerable

“I like you”

Those words can be the best or worst thing an unmarried  person has to hear or say.

In Sweden, as an egalitarian society, the concept of a girl asking a guy out is not unheard of. This turn of protocol is even familiar or dare I say normal. Showing that you are interested or declaring what you want, as a girl, here in Sweden is far more normal than other parts of the world (as far as my experience can permit me to declare).

Having been raised with the  completely opposite state of mind, with a strong sense of tradition and code that says the guy makes the first move, this entire revelation is not empowering but in fact the epitome of terrifying.

It requires vulnerability (and a decision to follow this social more of course)

To be vulnerable means to being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally: “we were in a vulnerable position”.

When you allow your heart to be open, to risk rejection you are vulnerable.

The idea that someone can hurt you, break your heart, reject you is one of the hardest concepts to swallow and that’s probably why a lot of us are single for a lot longer than we had hoped.

However, there is someone who will never reject you or break your heart or hurt you. He created you. He knows the hairs on your head. He knew you before you were in your mother’s womb. He knows the life He has for you. He is the Lord God.

He knows the moments He will need to pick you up shattered from a broken heart and the moments where He rejoices in Heaven with you as you make the decision to follow Him.

He knows your ups and downs, your ins and outs. He knows when you stand in front of the mirror and reject the beautiful person you are. He knows the moments you cry out to Him thankful for the life He has given for you. He knows it all.

He knows ALL of these things and He loves you.

So, then I ask myself and you…why is it so hard to be vulnerable with God?

Unlike that person that makes your heart skip, the one who, human like you, has the ability to hurt you, God loves us with a love unparalleled. He loves us so much our human hearts cannot fathom it.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love…That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; Ephesians 3:17 & 18

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16

I was listening to a song by Ne-Yo “I will love you until you love yourself” and I thought that it was such a great representation of God’s love for us (warning: the video is NOT). He will love us no matter what. He loves us on the days we love Him and the days we push Him away. He loves us when we love ourselves and those we do not.

So then why do we find it so hard to be vulnerable in front of the ONE who no matter how hard He tries cannot not love us? Why do we find it so difficult to trust His plans for us?

Three Februaries ago I stood in Hillsong Church Stockholm visiting a friend from high school. I was here on business. One year ago I stood there with my ex after a weekend wedding of that same friend. And this past Sunday, I walked into my church, Hillsong Stockholm and went to my third Vision Sunday, not as a spectator or a guest here but as a leader and member of my church. My path to Stockholm has been a crazy one and simply unimaginable to think that when I stepped on a plane almost 8 years ago to move to England that my life would be here in Stockholm now. However, the thread that has been woven by my heavenly Father is one of love and kindness, of careful planning and purpose.

Looking back I was not always so vulnerable with God (and in particular areas I’m still not). I tried to make plans, to manipulate, to fall at His feet and cry out why? But yesterday, Vision Sunday, was a strong reminder and evidence of what happens when you allow yourself to be vulnerable to the one who created it all.

As for the boy…jury is out. I’m still not sure I can be the one to make a move, but I know that my heavenly father has my heart in His hands and my life will be alright and for that…I am truly thankful.

my peace I give you