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”

 

Break the Walls Down

Walls01

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

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

-The Rocket Summer, Walls

Brick by brick. Stone by stone.

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

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

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

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

Brick by brick. Stone by stone.

The walls went up. and up. and up.

-mp. 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

go on, let Him break your walls down.


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

A Lesson 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

Currently

swl quotes

So something a bit new in 2013! Once a month I’ll share a “currently” post. I believe we can get inspiration from many people and many places and once a month I’ll share what is inspiring me and maybe inspire you a bit.

Loving: Winter! I didn’t realise how much I love winter until I moved to Stockholm. The clothes, the warm drinks, the crispness in the air. I have discovered a love of winter (and fun new clothes) that I never knew. Now i’m just in search of the perfect fire place to sit beside and keep warm…and maybe someone to keep warm with! 😉

Watching: Mad Men. I am about 6 episodes in and I’m still unsure of whether I rate the show or not. I think from a TV studies perspective I can appreciate the history, the style, the clothes and the culture; however the misogyny and over-sexualised nature of the show puts me off.

Anticipating: Taking the youth on a snowboarding/skiing in a few weeks. Not only am I excited to see what God is going to do in their lives but I also get to learn to snowboard. Let’s see if I get off my butt at all!!

Listening to: Alicia Keys, The Civil Wars, Eisley, Lifehouse and The Lumineers…all the newest albums.

Planning: Rebranding this website. It’s a big job and slightly overwhelming. I’ve also got a second project on the go and thinkingabout the wisdom of when to start it!

Working on: patience. Is this an ongoing battle that I’m always going to struggle with? 

Thinking about: Not thinking about the future. Isn’t that funny? This is actually an area I struggle with a lot. I want it all now. I’m a true visionary at heart and getting from point A to point B may have a bunch of steps but I rather skip them, even if I know that I need them all to get to where I’m going. No one ever ate an entire cake in one bite.

Wishing: I had the finance to see my friends more and more. I miss the coffees, the walks, the evenings spent just hanging out with so many. I’m going to have to get better at Skyping!

And now to leave you with a little treat. The following was written by Cory Copeland. Thanks Cory for letting me repost!  You can find his website here or on Twitter here. I had been thinking over and pondering this topic when Cory’s post came up on my newsfeed. Please take a second and read and maybe even follow his blog too!

enjoy

Michelle

What Kind of Wrecker are You?

-cory copeland

What does it mean to be wrecked, exactly? Not in the way one car wrecks another, but the kind of wrecked when something or someone comes along and completely discombobulates your life, mind, and heart. Everything you thought you knew is now in question because for once, you’ve been awoken to new truth. To be wrecked is to be reduced to rubble and rebuilt. And this wrecking can produce itself in good and bad ways.

They say love is a wrecker. We’re marching along, happy and satisfied though wanting, and suddenly, our world is turned upside down by some ardent lover. We are wrecked from the first day because we weren’t aware we could feel these things or speak those words. They lift us up and brighten our life. We love them and they return that love tenfold. It’s all so wonderful and meaningful.
But as time passes, we grow accustomed to one another and we become comfortable. Eventually, our effort passes by the wayside and we merely exist in each other’s company. Soon after, the fights start and the passion that once burned so brightly between us turns to white hot rage. Filth spills from our mouth as we hurl insults at this person we once cherished. We do our best to hurt them, to reduce them, to wreck them.
The ending is inevitable and comes much later than it should have. We are undone and we are broken for a spell. What once was a wrecking of saintly beauty has turned us into a twisted form of bruised feelings and lonely regret. Love has wrecked us.

They say love is a wrecker. We’ve played this game before and are leery of its black magic. We proceed with caution, but the curiosity is too much for our sensibilities to resist. This new angel has appeared and with it, has cast away every doubt and hesitation we once held. We step slow but steady, proceeding at a comfortable pace because we’ve been wrecked by that wretched potential before and we aren’t in a hurry to be back there. But this new hope pulls us forward with grace and charity. Slowly, beautifully, we are becoming wrecked once again.
The nights are softer and the days feel longer. Everything is sweeter and moves slower. We feel whole again and want nothing more than to be with our lover forever. We speak sweet and smile wide. Cross words rarely pass through our lips and anger feels like a thing of our past. We are happy now and we are wrecked in goodness and love. Our once desperate life was found a new meaning steeped in graciousness and beauty. We are fulfilled. We are satisfied. Reduced to nothing and rebuilt, we have been wrecked.

And while it’s possible you’ve experienced both of these scenarios as I have, a begging question is brought forth.

What kind of wrecker are you?

Do you fill those around you with happiness and grace? Or do you selfishly take what you can and leave those around you wrecked and angry?
Are you a faithful friend and lover who aches to make others whole? Or are you in search of your own fulfillment and your own desperate treasure?
Do you wreck others in goodness and beauty? Or do you leave them broken and regretting the time spent in your company?

We all will wreck and we all will be wrecked. With guarded hearts and hopeful vision, we can avoid the lesser and wreck this world with love and understanding.

A new year…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you enjoy!

Image

xx michelle

On the Subject of Singleness

I am no expert on love or singleness…

But I have been in love and I am single.

So I guess I can say something on the subject.

My lovely friend told me today that her boyfriend and her were back together after a time a part and reflecting on what they both wanted. I was so happy for her as she was glowing and as I sat on the bus riding home I realised that I am in no rush to be with someone and this, this is new.

I am probably going to have to read this post at least once a week because I do have my moments but I thought about life now and I realised that I’m just happy to wait. There is no one in my life that makes me want to give up the life I have. Maybe that’s selfish, but if you listen to Paul he does talk about how an unmarried man or woman can attend to the affairs of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7). I think, after 29 years, I’m finally believing that.

Oh sure, I absolutely want to get married but I also do not want to marry the wrong person.

I live in a country that actually has a word to describe the idea of just enough…mediocrity in another sense of the word. Okay, so not all Swedish people live like this (take for example, all the amazing inventions like Skype that have come out of this country) so I am definitely not putting the Swedes down. However, it’s a great word to describe how a lot of people seem to choose their boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses; they’re just enough.

As it says above, “Yes, I’m single and you’re going to have to be pretty damn amazing to change that.” I always thought that it was a bit rude, a bit cheeky and maybe even a bit prideful. It’s not though, is it?

I have one life one earth.

I have ONE chance to make the biggest difference to as many people as I can.

As a Christian, I have one purpose: to show the love of God to others so they may find Him and His grace, love and relationship.

If I marry the wrong person…am I really honouring that responsibility?

God has put many dreams on my heart. Some of these dreams I have fulfilled, some I’m working on and others, well, I’m not quite ready to do them yet…some of these things I will accomplish on my own, others with business partners and then some with the man that decides, with me, to spend the rest of our lives together.

I don’t want to be the girl who gets to the end of her life and sees the life she could have lead, the impact she could have made, the people who would have met Christ…I personally want to do everything in my power to make the “would, could and should haves” as small a number as possible.

So, if it means waiting a bit longer to get married…then okay.

I can wait.

Pressed upon my heart for many weeks now is this: be here, in the season I am in now, simply taking care of the things that are in my hand now, honoring the now, so that whatever God has for me, all the doors He opens and closes, the steps I need to take, the people I need to meet, that I will be prepared for them because I was faithful in my day to day.

It applies to my marriage as much as it does my career…

I have, in the past, been stuck in a job only because I had to work and took the first thing I found instead of trusting God for the better thing and that simply sucked. I do not want to be stuck in a covenant because I went for the first thing that came along. If it means waiting for that one who needs time, or waiting because I need time…whatever the reasons are that I am not yet running the race with a partner, I would much rather wait than commit myself to a life sentence of “Just okay.”

So…until that time…I’m okay..no, I’m more than okay. I am content with me, with my relationship status and well, frankly, someone is going to have to be pretty damn amazing to change that…

Until then I’ll just keep piling on the blankets to keep warm in my king size bed in a very cold country.