Why I Will Always Be a Romantic

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picture from pinterest

The dictionary defines romantic as this: marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized.

Heroic.

Adventurous.

Remote.

Mysterious.

Idealized.

All these words in some way, I can ascribe to my life. Six days into what I have labelled #mybiggrandadventure I can only be sure that I will never, ever, ever stop being a romantic.

I simply do not have it in my blood. In my heart.

I won’t accept average. I simply won’t accept the idea of settling. I won’t accept that “that’s just the way life is”.

In the last six days, and actually, even in the days prior to me leaving Stockholm, I experienced love that was more than I could imagine. I cry, I know that, but I cried so often, simply out of gratitude for what had been and what was coming. The moments spent with friends, whether making pancakes or sitting “working” together in a cafe, touched me so much. I was often overheard saying I was overwhelmed by the displays of friendship that I was privileged to receive. Little did I know that from the moment I got off the plane I would not feel sadness, maybe a LOT of jetlag, but no sadness. Aside from a bad cold and a back injury, I have had the most incredible few days. No, I haven’t been discovered and now starring in a new film, nothing so grandiose. Instead, I have spent days with beautiful people, doing the simple things in life. Taking drives, having lunch, taking selfies, sitting a top Hollywood and dreaming of what may be one day, sitting on benches in the DTLA, catching up over the last years. Those are the moments I am most thankful for. Those are the moments that show me that I should never stop being a romantic.

Why?

Because these simple moments are the evidence of the greatest romance we can have in our lives, that of a relationship with God.

Romance isn’t romance if it happens every day, every moment. What makes life special if every day you receive a rose? It is in the ups and downs of life, where God gives you those simple moments, that makes life as romantic as I can ever imagine.

My relationship with God is real. We laugh, we cry, we yell (well, I do), we have our ups and downs, but if it is all I ever have in life, it is worth it. It is the greatest romance.

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.

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.

Keep me from getting carried away

let it be

The first time I ever heard Christine Caine speak she spoke about being pregnant.

It was my first time at a Hillsong Women’s event and I was a bit overwhelmed. I had only been living in London 2 months and everything was up in the air. I had no permanent job (at least not what I wanted to be doing) and well, pretty much my entire life was ahead of me. I listened to Christine talk about how there is a reason that women need to be at full term before giving birth. If the baby comes too early then it just isn’t the time.

I was, admittedly, distracted or even too focused on trying to get life right, to really allow this message to set in. I wish I had listened better because I could have avoided a lot of heartache.

Too early, too late, not the right time…

All these things have been factors in my life and if I’m direct, it has not been until recently that I have seen the affects that being impatient or not letting things developed has had on my life.

I’m a planner. If you read any of my posts from the last year or so you’ll see this is a theme I constantly struggle with. I like to know what’s next, what will the outcome be, where life is going.

However, as I listened to a song as I walked home this morning, I realized that has all changed. While of course, habits do not change overnight or in a split second, so I’ll likely still have my moments, I have come to realize that I am okay with waiting.

 

Out there

Thousand years into the future

Almost nothing of it seems sure

Things so rarely stay the same

Right here

In these burning simple seconds

Living out all your best guesses

Someone’s calling out your name

And you get carried away

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

 Teach me to know my number of days

Hold out my heart from getting carried

 

I’m one of those visionary type of people. I have ideas, I like projects, I love creating. My heart can easily get carried away with what will be.

However, just like a baby needs to be in the womb for a certain amount of time in order to develop, grow and be strong, so too is this the same for many aspects of life.

I want to give examples of things that you may need to wait for but something doesn’t feel right about that. I can however, tell you that I personally am at a stage where I am okay to wait.

You know when you’re making pancakes and you bite into a mouthful of batter? If you had just left the temperature a bit lower and let them cook a bit longer they not only would not have been burned but also, they would have been cooked all the way through. They would have been perfect.

In a season where for me, everything has changed and is in a bit of a “pull the arrow back before it’s launched” kind of season, I’m ready to wait. No pressure, no worry, no getting carried away…

Just living a life, loving it, enjoying the process and seeing where it all goes…

“keep my heart from getting carried…away”

 

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…

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