An Imperfect Journey towards Faith

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I sat in church, amidst a sea of faces, some who knew me well, others who wouldn’t be able to pick me out in a lineup. I loved my church, I still do, though I’ve moved on. I loved the people, the leadership, the diversity, the energy. I love the constant run towards God, even if not always close to perfect. Our goal was finding God and helping others find what we already knew.

Except that I didn’t know what I believed any longer. Circumstances had hit me hard and I was dealing with rejection from a number of sources very close to me. Cloaked in confusion I couldn’t see beyond myself. I wore pain like rose covered glasses.

I wish that I could say it was the first time something like this happened. Only 4 years earlier I sat in the Royal Albert Hall, longing for answers. Screaming out to God, giving Him ultimatums.

As the service ended, like the weeks before and for weeks following, when given the chance, I, along with the countless others loudly and boldly prayed what we call the “Salvation prayer”. I didn’t even believe it at first, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep going on this path. I cried out, speaking those words, longing for a tangible feeling.

I prayed myself into belief again.

And like back into 2008, God showed up.

There were no grand overtures, miraculous signs or wonders. As I lay down my humanity, God took over.

It took my unbelief, my desire for answers to connect again.

And it continues today.

It’s super awesome being a believer in Christ. Until you wake up. Literally, each night you fall asleep and then you wake up and you’re just like anyone else in the entire world.

Until you call out.

Again and again.

God is like a gentleman caller, eagerly awaiting his beloved to allow Him into her presence. Stood across the room, he steals glances at her, longing to bring her close, but polite enough to understand that forced affection grows weary, but true love, tried, tested and endured will stand the test of time.

 
“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him[a] from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

C. S. Lewis so eloquently stated: “Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo.”

He is always there, but until we call to Him, seek Him, He is simply there loving us.

I don’t think my journey is over. I still have days where I wonder and question though those have changed all those years ago.

Instead of wondering if I believe, instead of questioning God, I ask myself why I question His love, what I am doing that makes me feel further away or left in silence. Instead of running away, I run towards.

Towards His Love.

Towards His Grace.

Towards His promises.

Dare to Dream Again

 

 

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She stood in the storm and when the winds did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.

Almost 6 years ago”A” bought me a ring with that quote inscribed inside. What neither of us realised then was how much those words would carry me through not only that season, but also again five years later.

July Twenty Sixteen my life changed once again, a storm would force me to make a choice, to once again adjust my sails. Admittedly life wasn’t bad nor was I particularly dreaming about a next step. I was happy. Apparently, God has other plans.

“God told me that he is asking you to step out of the boat. He says you need to trust him 110%. He is about to fulfill the desires of your heart. You weren’t doing what you loved–and he wants you to do what you love.”

(there’s more, but that’s all you get to hear).

It’s funny when God speaks through your friends. Over the next three months, God repeatedly told different people the same thing. One by one delivering the same message to me.

Adjust your sails. 

Step out of the boat. 

DREAM AGAIN. 

I wish I could have told you that God immediately showed me the next step. How to get out of the boat, the right way to step, the path to take. I wish I could tell you that the last nine months has been simple and straightforward.

It hasn’t.

It’s caused me to question my faith. It’s caused me to question my sanity. I even think it’s lost me a few relationships along the way. I’ve given up a lot, but at the same time, I have gained so much.

I’m 33 and I’m not starting over.

I’m dreaming again.

When a ship sails into a storm it doesn’t rebuild the ship. The captain doesn’t say to the crew “oh em gee you have failed and up until now forget everything you did and start over.” The captain orders the crew to change course, to adjust the sales.

In life, when a storm comes, we don’t forget what we know, what we have done, what we have accomplished. We take what we have learned in the past, the skills we have acquired and adjust our sails. We handle it.

So, here I am, adjusting my sales, changing course. Dreaming again.

It’s not easy. There are days I cry. There are days I want to throw some stuff or yell at God. There are days when I want to give in. Where I don’t feel understood, heard or even seen.

But mainly there are days where I am thankful. There are days of rest. There are days of small victories (yay!!) There are days where I write pages and pages in my journal, dreaming, looking forward, planning.

Looking forward to that day when those dreams that line the pages of my journal, the whispers of my heart come to full fruition.

“For what it’s worth, it is never too late to be who you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you find the strength to start over”

 

 

 

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.

When Calling Surpasses Comfort

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As of Wednesday, November 30th I will no longer have a permanent residence (for now).

This is the girl who has planned every step of her life as long as she can remember. It may not seem like it to some, but my steps are generally well thought out, prayerfully considered and concrete. While most people move to a new country and then look for housing, I get an apartment even before I am there. So, when the opportunity for change seemed to appear I was headed in one direction, quickly! However, that took a turn and now things are changing and I am headed back to North America…not my plan.

Planning is in my blood. It is what balances my creative, erratic and romantic side. I will always remember a former boss telling me “Michelle, sometimes you let the artist overtake the entrepreneur.” Although he didn’t say it quite as eloquently, or even as nicely, I understood this to be what he meant. My logical brain never leads me too far where my creative nature wants to fling me.

However, as I sit in a cafe in Söder, I am taking time away from my client to write this. I am not going to tell you what to do or how to live your life. I am only going to share how God has worked on my heart and allowed me to be taken on what I am so confidently branding #mybiggrandadventure.

It started years ago already. Admittedly Sweden was never in my plans. I thought I would set up residence in London and there I would stay. Of course, knowing the playful relationship I have with God anytime I say “never or always” my life is sideswiped. So, in 2012 I packed my life up, left the first place I really felt completely me and moved to the land of simple beauty. Sweden has been amazing and very difficult at once. I understand now the journey God has taken me on and I am sure I will talk more about that in subsequent blogs and articles. For now I only want to focus on how He has taught me of his grace, mercy and undying love for me (and for you). How He has taken my broken heart, mended it, only to break it over and over again, only this time for His purposes. How, through the blessings and triumphs, low moments and pain, He has, like a potter, sculpted me. Oh boy, I am so far from perfect and my journey nowhere close to finished, but I am so thankful for His fatherly love and gentle discipline.

The foundation laid for me in London was strong and while I didn’t always understand then what He was teaching me through greater leadership, friendship and serving, those experiences have now allowed me to take the next step. And so, with that I am learning…

  1. The freedom of resting in His plans. When I have, in the past, tried to make things work for myself I have only landed in what can be said is a mess. It may not always be a big mess, but it definitely wasn’t where I was intended. This time, as I step out, leaving my home and starting anew, although I am filled with sadness for all the good I am leaving behind, I can only be excited for what is to come. For, as many have said, the safest place to be is in the will of God. No longer do I worry about how anything will plan out because, dang what He has already shown me is far greater than I could have ever planned.
  2. That it’s okay to be sad and happy all at once. I have the greatest mix of emotions right now. Literally holding back tears as I write this. I am so utterly, insanely thankful for the people I have in my life. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for my life up until now and the people are a huge part of it. I can only be excited about those I am about to meet and what God will do with the friendships we build. How freaking exciting is that!!? And knowing that distance, as I have more than once stated, is only a physical thing. As I experienced this week back in LDN, those who God places in your heart will never go away. It doesn’t matter really if we are next door or across the world, love really never dies. So, while I am sad I am leaving the day to day lives of some, while others who were only a quick plane ride away are (for now) separated by an ocean, there are many more new hugs to be had, coffees to drink and plans to conquer.
  3. That grief is a very real thing and does not come only with losing someone. Only about 8 weeks ago I was walking to a team night with my friend Marie when something struck me. I turned to her and said “I don’t know if living in Europe is still a God thing or if it has turned into a me-thing.” You guys, let’s be honest. I am so much more European than North American. I cried yesterday, panic attack, when I had to talk about mobile phone plans across the Atlantic. Darn, they’re not even called mobiles there. I have such a strong heart for what God is doing over here in Europe and that has not changed. So, in the midst of transporting myself across the world, all that I had felt called to, is changing and I am grieving that. I haven’t lost that heart for Europe, it’s simply a new season and one that I know is of God. (side note: I know this because of many prayerful conversations, God moments and just the simplicity of how this is all working out).  And so, I have to grieve what has been, for a new season of what will be. I also have to grieve my safety net. As I said, I am used to having my ducks in a row (at least when it comes to structure). I am going to a lot of unknowns and that is okay. But, for those of you who haven’t lived closely to me over the last 12 years, this is HUGE FOR ME and SO SCARY. I may seem like I flint and fly all over, but in fact calculated risk is my thing. So, here I am learning to grieve really my old self and truly die to what God has in store.
  4. And finally, not everyone is going to understand and that is okay. Truth be told I am pretty confident some people, many people will be a bit confused as I move into this next season. It’s okay. I am too. But, that’s okay because I don’t always understand your choices, their choices. What I do know is that although in the past I really cared about what others thought of my choices, that has since changed. I understand now that if you care that much about my choices and are in a close relationship with me, you can just ask. I am happy to talk about my reasoning and why I am doing something, but if someone is not going to ask, then I let them assume all they want. It’s not worth worrying about me if you don’t care to ask. Please know that this is the most freeing revelation you can have, if, like me, you tend to be a bit of a people pleaser. The only person I am accountable to, other than myself, and more importantly is God. He called us to love Him and to love others. So, in all I do, I prayerfully consider my actions in light of that. Is this God and will it harm or hurt others? Of course I assume that most of the time if it’s God then it won’t harm others!

So…as I step into this next (super exciting and scary season) I am only seeking the steps God has for me. I am moving and taking decisions in rest, not in striving. Although it is not always comfortable (thank you to my mom and my circle of trust for putting up with a lot of crying), it is what I feel is my next step. I am grateful for you all who read my blog and follow along with me on this journey we call life.

In less somber  news I have a few exciting projects coming up so please follow me on Snapchat: meegsx, on Insta: michelletiffanycandice for updates. I will also have my Swedish number on whatsapp and a new number otherwise. You can message me anywhere for that 🙂

Until then, I hope that my revelations will help you a bit.

with love (and until California)

Michelle

Surrender: one dash vulnerability, take away the pride

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Sometimes I hate social media.

Funny, as my work, my audience, my connections around the world, very much rely on this form of media to connect, maintain and grow all sorts of relationships.

This isn’t a post on the dangers of social media, or SoMe, but only as a catalyst to illustrate my recent lessons.

But we’ll get back to that.

Some of you may remember a book written a few years ago called “If you want to walk on Water, you got to get out of the boat“. Well, boy have I stepped out of the boat recently.

Last week I gave up my apartment here in Stockholm. (This will come as a surprise to some of my local readers)…sorry I haven’t had the chance to tell you.

I gave up my apartment, I’m putting most of my belongings in the storage and moving in with my bestie (in a tiny, studio apartment).

Why?

Because when you want to walk on water, you need to get out of the boat.

AND DANG, that boat is really, really, really hard to get out of. Like, people, I am pretty sure I had put up military-style fencing around the edge. I liked my safe life, my beautiful life, with my pretty apartment and my gym membership and my monthly mail order make up. Except that it wasn’t moving forward. I wasn’t really living my purpose. Too often over the last couple of years things were going off kilter and a line had to be drawn.

So, I tore that fence down and jumped in.

The truth is, aside from a freelance writing contract and a few bits and pieces, the future is a beautiful blank canvas. God has given me tools to impact people around me, make a difference while I am here and a shift needed to happen.

I have to admit, and this is hard, that it’s so easy to look back and go “oh, okay, so I was on purpose here and then…oops I stepped off”. Except, that’s not actually the case. We spend, oh, maybe I just spend too often looking at what we see as missteps, what in actual fact, God has used, planned or not, to refine me.

In order for me to really get out of the boat I had to get to this point. Stubbornly, it may have taken me longer than He wanted, or perhaps, it’s exactly the right time. I don’t believe it’s my concern. I believe only that God has me here, now, in a place I can be completely moulded by Him.

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

If you look up how to make a clay pot you will see that the potter has to have a strong hold on the clay, gently, but slowly applying pressure so that He or She can shape and refine the clay into the desired shape.

The clay, like us, in order to be moulded must surrender it’s natural shape in order to become the master’s design.

We too, have to completely surrender, allowing God to apply pressure and constraints in our lives, in order to become who He desires us to be, in order to best live our lives for His purpose, our purpose.

So what’s the formula? Well, I reckon this is where it comes down to two main areas.

Remove the pride and add a dash of vulnerability (a very big dash).

This is my experience, and feel free to argue. Let’s go back to the SoMe example. We are inundated with images on Instagram and Facebook, and texts about everyone else’s lives. We see the new boyfriend, the new fiancee, the big house, the better job etc…ALL THE INTERNET and our pride swells up. Why doesn’t my life look like that?

Well, first of all because that’s not your life. And secondly, it probably does, to someone else. But that’s a whole other blog…

Pride takes us on a path that is often not ours to take. I have this great sweatshirt that says “Thou Shalt Run Your own race”. When pride takes over, we end up running towards someone else’s goal, we run in their lane and run against where we are supposed to go.

But when we keep our eyes focused on the main thing and ask for, listen to the Holy Spirit things change. Our course changes.

Seriously though, this is hard. Especially when maybe our track was always meant to go this way and then that, but we are still running the way we were meant to last year. Pride sees only what WE as humans see…what we can accomplish. It takes us off track or keeps us on the path when we should have taken a left.

So, now that we are working on pride…let’s make it a bit more difficult and really get in there.

Vulnerability.

Dang that word hurts. Vulnerability, we think, means putting our trust in someone else. In fact, I am realising that it’s so not about other people. It’s about being vulnerable enough to really hear the Holy Spirit whisper and then act on it. If God opens doors that no one can close and closes doors no one can open, then it doesn’t really matter if we are vulnerable with the humans in our lives. Of course they’re the vehicle, but listening to the Holy Spirit allows us to understand where, when and with whom we should be vulnerable with.

So, truthfully this is a blog that has no real ending. These are daily and even hourly lessons I am currently learning. The good old “lay it down” and surrender it all is a constant journey and one that isn’t a chore, but a path to glorious freedom.

To be continued…

 

6 things I Have Learned about living in the “In Between”

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5 November 2005. I had been living in London all of 70 something days and I was at a “Hillsong Women” event or as we know it now, The Sisterhood. It would be the first time I met Christine Caine and the first of many times God used her to punch me straight in the face.

She spoke on “and you will”…those moments between Asking and Receiving.

“Ask, and it shall be given you…” Matthew 7:7

I remember distinctly how she spoke about being prepared and ready for what God was going to give you, the direction he was sending you. She eloquently illustrated it by comparing these in between seasons with having a child. If the baby arrives too early then there are often problems because the child isn’t developed enough to leave the protection of the mama. Similarly, if you are baking a cake, if you take it out too early it’s not baked and you could get sick from the raw egg. When things come too early we aren’t ready.

There have been more than one of these in between seasons for me in recent years. Looking back, it’s perhaps my rush of the in-between that has led to needing to redo those seasons more than once. Either way, I learned six fundamental lessons that haven’t only helped me through this season, but grew my faith and made me better.

  1. You need to shut up and listen: if you’re anything like me you try and figure out what is going on. You talk to a million people, read, talk some more, try to sort it out in your head. When I stopped, and in this particular season, took a literal break from reality and went to Greece on 22 hours notice, it allowed God to be able to speak to me. I stopped talking and God began to pour out His love and encouragement over my life. When we quiet ourselves God can speak directly to us, or through others to show us what He is doing.
  2. Rest: I am not good at this one and sometimes I feel like God forces me into it. Probably a bit like a parent who makes their slightly fevered child stay in bed all day, even when the child feels “okay”, our Father knows our health levels. When we are in the between, don’t always try and rush it, rest because He knows how “well” we need to be for our next step.
  3. Keep on, keeping on: It’s easy in the in between to forget the rest. For example, when waiting for a new job, we may get so caught up in it that we forget our other goals, like working out regularly. Or perhaps you’re waiting for the love of your life to come along, but in the meantime you’re not cultivating other relationships or using your single status to serve others. We are, whatever the next step is, the most attractive when we are busy being us, fabulously. So, keep on, keeping on, you’ll attract the next best thing.
  4. Ask, ask and ask some more: No, I am not saying beg God for that job, that boyfriend, that raise. I am saying ask God what He is trying to teach you in this season. A few months ago I was in a similar situation and God came through fast. This time, when I am again, deciding on my next steps I asked God why the other didn’t work out. Expecting something different I only heard this “Michelle, you kept asking for a job when I wanted to give you a life.” Right, schooled by the big guy upstairs. God has taught me so much in the last few weeks, but only because I sucked it up and asked for a performance review 😉
  5. Silence the Voices: These are not the voices in your head. We have already addressed this. These are the voices of EVERYONE ELSE. Seriously, I always want to ask everyone else what they’re thinking about my life decisions. It’s this utterly ridiculous need for affirmation I am working on…but really, don’t we all do it? It’s like “hey guys, when you text a girl you’re not just texting her…you’re texting at least 3 of her friends too”. We love getting opinions of others. I wrote about this a while ago, but when we are on our journey, and God is working on us in the process, we can so easily get off the path or be distracted by what others believe we are going through. Be wise, stop and like some great fashion editors say “before you go out of the house, take off one accessory”. Before we go getting everyone’s advice, step back and ask if it’s just too much.
  6. Find Your Faith: Okay, so I just said get rid of all the voices…except when it comes to building faith. Wherever you are in your “in between” times can get tough and we can lose our faith. I was so encouraged this past summer, when my Swedish mom said one small thing to me “when you don’t have faith, I will have faith for you.”It was like a weight, lifted off my shoulders. Sometimes we need some people around us who will have faith for us, sometimes we will be that for others. This isn’t about advice or opinions. This is about allowing others, who love and truly care for us, to be our faith, to point us in the right direction, to be our fuel.

I like to reflect on the Amplified version of the verse as I think about my current season: Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.

Keep going…He always takes you through.

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 different kind of me

So, it’s January 26th (I think?) and today I’m writing about my new year’s resolution.

My journal for the year, the personal one, the one that is filled with inspirations, doubts, dreams, broken promises and resolutions is sitting near me. On the first page it simply states “I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one”. Calamity Jane everyone. A legend.

Every year I take some time to refocus, give myself a word or two to focus on for that year and then write some goals around those. What does my relationship with God, my health, my career, my family, friends and love life look like in context of all this.

This year my words were simple and interlocking. They’re my words, but they all came with an overarching question over them.

Is what I choose today going to affect what I want tomorrow? Will my today negatively or positively impact what I want long-term?

I am blessed. I have people around me who love me. I know that sounds cheesy or maybe even prideful, but these people who love me, why I consider myself most blessed, is that they challenge me. They challenge me to be a better woman, person, friend, daughter, employee, worker, ME.

One of the best questions I was ever asked was why I allow myself to do things, or allow things to happen to me, which will inhibit the woman I am becoming, the person I want to be.

That struck my heart…probably at that moment mainly because they were asking me about relationships and my apparent inability to trust men. Fabulous right? Not so much.

Anyway, that question stuck with me and has slowly, over the past year buried itself deep and began to blossom into what has now become my 2015.

There is nothing particularly spiritual about this post, though it does affect that part of my life. There is no major scientific studies around what I am doing. It is simply a question…

Is what you are choosing now going to affect your future positively or negatively? 

It’s in every decision, every action, every mood or feeling.

If I choose to go to work out or not.

If I choose to sleep because I am tired or not.

If I choose to date that guy…or not.

If I choose to have coffee with that person or not.

You see, rather than spend the moments, the money, the time, the resources, I have chosen to invest them (thanks Andreas).

I am never going to be a help to anyone if I am not the person I am supposed to be. My daily decisions, your daily decisions should be ones which you and others will get a return from.

So, ask yourself this…

What choice am I making?

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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