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.

Write Your Vision…

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Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Write the vision
And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets
So that the one who reads it will run.

For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time
It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail.
Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it,
Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (AMP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Life That I See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

No Place to Call Home

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I call Paris my second home, though technically I’ve never lived there. 

I queue like a Brit.

I (often) dress like a Swede.

Some days I sound like an Aussie.

I am overly polite which runs true of most people raised in Canada. 

I like spicy food like an Argentinian and have the temperament of a Latina running through my blood.

I have the sensibilities of a German, obsessively strict with time and leaning on the side of OCD.

My heart is ripped into pieces, travelling quite literally to the corners of the earth with each family or friend who takes it with them as they bid me adieu. 

When I am sad or want to celebrate Whatsapp, FaceTime are my mecca.

And Fika has become the connection point of my daily life. 

I am have a home. I have books (apparently this means I am settled). 

I have a permanent job.

And yet, wherever I am standing, I always refer to where I am not as home. 

I’m not nomadic. Nor am I crazy. 

My heart, the one torn into pieces makes home many places.

And I am okay with that. 

I understand that not everyone will understand.

I get that my life my seem strange to some.

And while my personality would love to please everyone, I know that it’s okay that I won’t.

Wherever I am, there is always an open door, a free bed to sleep on. My life will never stop moving, even when the “settled” seasons of my life begins. I long for adventure, to touch every aspect of the globe. My YouTube history would divulge my secret obsession of constantly learning about other cultures, maybe my Netflix account would too.

I know there are others out there whose hearts sing similar songs, and one whose song matches mine. For others, we may sound off-key, and that’s okay, because there songs sound like nails scratching on a chalkboard to me.

I will likely never be in a place I call home, because where my heart is, that is home.

Where God leads me, where he places me or takes me away from, all home. He guides my soul to long for Him, for new places, for new people.

What’s your song?

He Speaks Into My heart, or thoughts on prayer

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I remember in high school a friend of mine decided to pray through the fruit of the spirit, asking God to help her develop these traits.

 

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

Patience wasn’t a fun week. For any of us.

I know I’ve asked God for a lot of things in the past and so many of these prayers I’ve felt have gone unanswered, but in fact God answers them and I blatantly chose to ignore every.single.sign.

You see, God always answers. I’ve come to realize that whether we choose to hear the answer or selectively ignore his gentle whisper, He always answers…especially when he’s the one that put the prayer on your heart.

And those my friend, as you will come to see, from my recent experience, are sometimes the hardest.

I don’t have a truly spiritual or maybe theologically correct answer for prayers like this. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit speaking? But sometimes I just jot random prayers down, not thinking about what I’m praying…unlike those moments on my knees where I’m often begging God for something I probably don’t even need, thinking a bit too much, because let’s be honest…we all do it.

And so what makes me stand in awe of these prayers is their simplicity and then, and probably the most important, the impact they end up having and the urgency with which God answers them. But back to that soon…

So, here I am, just two weeks ago, during another Sunday message I flipped over my notebook page and half heartedly scribbled the words “break my heart for what breaks yours”.

I closed that page and continued to take notes.

And I got on with my week.

Then BAM.

Right. Can I warn you not to pray “break my heart for what breaks yours”.

It was terrible. Seriously.

I mean, I spent MOST of the week feeling as though I was seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus. And seriously, not making this spiritual or like its a super cool thing. It’s not. In The Shack the author describes heaven as being full of colours we can’t even comprehend on earth, as if our eyes have been half shut. That’s kind of what it felt like…except I wasn’t seeing beautiful colours.

I was seeing pain in a way I had never imagined. It wasn’t on the news, on the faces of those whose plight is highlighted or even (wrongly) sensationalized all over the media. It was the pain of the lonely woman sitting in the corner of the train. It was the pain of a man whose problems weighed him down like stones, but no one seemed to take note. It was the pain of the couple, sat in front of me, so drunk that they had lost the ability to communicate on a level no more than a toddler. It was the pain of the girl who was violated and now the world felt like it was against her. It was the pain of the guy who has walked away from the church and no one seemed to notice he wasn’t there any longer.

I was seeing pain and it was humbling.

Break my heart for what breaks yours.

And in those words, in that prayer, is the lesson I’m learning…

I think about all the times where I was so inwardly focused I didn’t notice others pain…and I am daring to say I guess God was ready for me to what He sees…

We are so busy. So caught up in our own pain, our own paths to success, the music, the distractions, to see others. To see the people that, as Christians, we are called to love…to SEE.

I’m guilty of praying a lot of prayers half-heartedly. Or praying my selfish desires up into the heavens with more passion that I actually should.

It’s kind of despicable. It doesn’t take so much to pray. It’s simple and powerful and those prayers WILL lead to action because when God shows you what He sees, you’re driven to help.

And can I say I’m so thankful God doesn’t handle us like we would handle us if we were God. Let’s all take a moment to say a big AMEN.

Instead, I reckon he does exactly what He did with me recently.

He wakes us up.

Whether it’s in the middle of the night or in a random thought half way through a sermon. Maybe it’s while we are driving down the highway or on the train to school.

Bam. Suddenly you remember your old school friend that you haven’t thought of in years. Or maybe you notice the person begging in the street, who you pass by every day. Or perhaps it’s simply a tug on your heart about a cause you’ve recently been told of.

We have to wake up. Wake up to what is going on around us. Wake up, sit up, pray and take action.

We are his hands and feet and He needs us more than ever. We need to listen.

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

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

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

I did.

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

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

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

The reason?

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

My purpose is to remind you of this: 

You are enough.

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

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

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

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

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

We need to stop the photoshopping of who we are.

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

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

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

Psalm 139:13-16 states,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To Honour her Legacy

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My beautiful Oma passed away a few months ago and today, as I washed the blanket she carefully crocheted for me just ten years ago I was reminded of the lessons she left me. In the last couple of years of my Oma’s life I saw her less and less, but I came to realize more and more how much I was like her. Perhaps this is the reason that we butt heads so often…our fiery, stubborn personalities were what bonded us and created tension all at once.
Personality aside, I learned a lot from Oma  and I reckon the world needs more people like her so here are a few pieces of My Oma…

1) Even the pennies count: I can be guilty of spending money simply for the pleasure of a good cup of coffee or that feeling of a brand new, snugly sweater. However, my Oma, a pastor’s wife and a child of war understood, sometimes to a fault, the value of money. While she too loved beautiful things she also picked up literally EVERY penny.
She knew that money had value and that we should not wasted anything. Her habit of picking up every penny meant that we all always had our favourite chocolate or treat waiting at Oma’s house.

Which leads me to the next point…

2) Value every one individually: Although Oma had 4 kids and a plethora of grandkids, most of which are female, she understood that we all needed different things. Oma knew that spending time with me, cuddling on the couch spoke to my love languages. She understood that always having Opa’s favourite cologne or jam spoke to his needs. Even in death Oma was prepared. Just days after her promotion to heaven Opa, with tears in his eyes spoke to me of how he found his favourite jars of jam stacked up in the cupboard, waiting for him, as if she knew she was going.
Oma knew that we all need different things in life, whether it was a hug or are favourite cookies Oma understood the power of loving individually.

 

3) The power of the living word: Oma never got out of bed without spending time with God and his Word. Whenever I stayed at Oma and Opa’s house we would read our devotions and pray together. I never felt like I could conquer the world more on those days and when I did feel a bit weak I remembered Oma would have spent time praying for me that morning. I was covered. She taught us that no matter the circumstance we were in God was there for you, through prayer or his words.

 

4) Honesty: My grandparents could fight! I think my aunt and I got all our fiery spirit from my Oma. I didn’t know her as a mom, I knew her as a grandma, something very different than what Oma may have been like as a young woman…However, Oma was never dishonest. She told you and everyone else what she thought, but because she loved you, you knew it was okay. Oma was the only person who told me that my ex wasn’t the person for me. She was quiet but firm and I appreciated it now (not so much then I can tell you…). Her desire for truth and direct attitude showed me that in this world that’s the only way to live. Why be anything you are not? What do you gain by not being truthful.

 

5) What love is: Okay, so Oma is not the only one who taught me this lesson, many people have contributed to this very important lesson…but Oma showed me in ways only a grandmother can…
In how she got up early to peel grapefruit for ALL the grandkids.

In how she made us all “Oma cookies” for every birthday.

The way she stayed up and sang me to sleep when I was afraid.

The way she honoured my Opa and the calling to ministry they had on each of their lives.

Love is not only a choice but it is also truly practical. You can say I love you all you want but it’s only in your actions that love is truly felt.

I don’t know where my life will take me or whom I will share it with, but no matter who crosses my path I hope that I can carry on the legacy of love shared with me and all those whose lives she touched.

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.

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at” or Get out of your comfort zone

 

 

Stood in front of the mirror, fresh from the shower, I had a few minutes to myself before I ventured out into the corridor again. On a winter trip with a few of the teens from my church I decided this was the year I was going to snowboard.

Pretty sure I made it up the KIDDIE hill (or Barnbacken på svenska)…oh, once.

I never thought I’d want to declare war on a tow-lift but alas even getting up the hill on that evil contraption was about as fear-inducing as going down, fast, while my feet were glued to a board.

So there I was, a few hours later, completely covered in bruises and feeling…amazing. Yet something I said to my friend B who was teaching me to board, run in my head…

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

A few nights ago I was out with some friends for a movie when, prior to the movie, we were chatting and my Swedish skills were put to the test. One guy said to me, “Michelle, you need to get out of your comfort zone.”

You see, I can speak Swedish…and I understand so much, but I don’t speak it a lot with my friends. Why you ask?

 “I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

Recently I started running again. I’m still thinking I’m going to sign up to another ½ marathon but for now, it’s just for me. I’m on day 26 of my 365 running challenge now. The first few days were a struggle. Not because of my fitness levels, but because I was pretty sure I looked ridiculous running. Have you seen those images on the internet? Those “What I think I look like when I’m running” vs “what I really look like.” One image usually involves a bikini clad super model and the other a slobbering hound.

Truth is, I don’t look like either of those but it’s amazing what our minds trick us into.

I’m in the middle of what I call my “life break”. It’s actually not a break from life, you can’t take a break from life but you can have a season where things change, where you break away from the norm, where you refocus and redirect. This is the season of life I am in.

It’s a season where I am constantly having to get out of my comfort zone. You see, I have a LOT of dreams and ambitions for life and frankly, prior to August 22 I was living a great life but I was also smack RIGHT in the middle of the comfort zone.

And with all the respect to my old life, which, to many, and even to me, was fantastic…it sucked.

I had become too reliant on norms, comforts and myself.

I was lounging in the comfort zone.

So, being…well me…as you all know I changed my life drastically and with only one focus to ensure I kept running my race well and towards the ultimate goal (Jesus, if you didn’t know). I want all of my life to focus on Him, bringing glory to Him and showing others His love and grace.

I figured if I’m running to Him then everything else will fall into place.

What I have learned though is that following Him has taken me so far out of my comfort zone that I am pretty much constantly uncomfortable.

 

Going to church…

Uncomfortable.

 

Going to school…

Uncomfortable…

 

Writing for Beyond Rubies and SoWorthLoving…

Uncomfortable…

 

Just all…uncomfortable. Although they are seemingly normal and mundane things to one person there are aspects that make all these things uncomfortable to me. There are aspects to each of these things that I am not good at.

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

I know I have been called to a certain life, to accomplish particular things and this season in my life is preparing me for that.

But I think the greatest lesson I have learned is that it’s okay to just not be good at something.

I read this great quote…

As Christians we are called to live in excellence, to do all things for God and not for man.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

And He is going to help us along…

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

So what I am trying to say is this…

Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t step, don’t tip toe…JUMP. He has given you everything you need to accomplish all that He has put on your heart.

 

Start today. Whether it’s writing a book or getting healthy. If it’s asking that girl out or talking to your neighbor who just needs a friend.

 

Do something that you are not good at.

Do something that scares you because you really never know what will come from it or whose life you will impact.

 

I got a letter after I wrote a particularly “scary” post on SWL. Without sharing someone else’s story the letter detailed how the post helped someone through a break up. The truth? I hated writing that post. I cried writing it. I didn’t want to share it because I knew that it might get a couple people angry (if they misunderstood my intentions), it was uncomfortable.

However, as I read the words of one girl knowing that she was worth more than rubies all the uncomfortable feelings I had left me and I realized that although I didn’t like doing it…it impacted someone.

So maybe snowboarding or speaking Swedish perfectly doesn’t seem like something that will impact or make a difference but who knows? At least I’m going to try…

The One about Love

love is new

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

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

LOVE.

What is LOVE?

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join me?