An Imperfect Journey towards Faith

because he listsn

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

 

 

dream again

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”

 

 

 

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

Dear Future Hubster.

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Dear Future hubster

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure you’re out there. Somewhere. Hiding behind a rock? Busy saving the world’s children in a feat of selflessness and honour? No? Yes? Maybe you’re just learning a lot about yourself and haven’t quite figured out that I’m the girl for you.

It’s okay.

I’m cool over here. I’m waiting. Not always patiently, but most of the time. True, I probably hop onto a dating app or two, but not for long, ask R, I’m off within 20 minutes because it’s just not you. And yeah, maybe I’ve dated a couple of guys, and they’ve been great, but all they’ve done so far is point me to the man that I really want. They’ve each done the honour of showing me the kind of man you will be. Piece by piece. And I’m grateful for that.

And truth be told, I’m grateful for the women in your life. Maybe you’re with someone right now. I pray for her, that she holds your heart with honour and prays for her future husband like I pray for you. I hope she teaches you things about yourself that bring you closer to me. I hope that you treat her like the woman of God she is. Who knows, we may have daughters one day and we both know they’re likely not going to marry the first man they date so let’s show them how to honour their future spouses.

So, you’re sitting there right now, maybe you’re having coffee. Maybe you just got off work or home from an evening with friends. But I hope that once in awhile you think of me. I wonder about you. Will you like adventure? Because I do. Discovering new cities and towns and forests are all exciting to me. Sometimes  I like camping and other times a nice 5 star hotel will be awesome too. Will you go on long walks through our city and near forests? Will you daydream with me as you walk beside me along life’s paths?

And then, will we go dancing? Okay so we don’t have to dance all the time, but your future wife loves to dress up in beautiful clothes and run around the town. She may have dreamed of romantic evenings on the Eiffel Tower (don’t worry, you can ask her friends for all those details because they’ve planned every minute). Will you stand next to me and tell me I’m beautiful even when it’s been a long week and we’re both exhausted but off on date night because, well those will always be important?

Sometimes I wonder what you’re like in church. Do you hold your hands up high in surrender or quietly connect to our Saviour? Are you the kind of strong silent type who will gently nudge me when my thoughts need adjusting? Will you get up early with me to work out and find my peace before our days start or will I have to spend mornings tiptoeing around because you need just five minutes more? I wonder what song you listen to when you need encouragement or find peace? Do you pray out loud or stare into the sky and silently chat?

So I sit here and wonder. Excited about that moment I know you’re mine. Pensive as I wonder how we will fight, how we will handle those tough moments. I hope that I am doing the things that are preparing me to be your wife. Sometimes, when I wake up in the night I pray that He shows me how to be best for you.

And I hope we can be silly. I hope we dance in the kitchen to 80s rock and sneak kisses in public (because i’m not so much about overt displays of affection). I hope we find ways of surprising each other. Ways that only we know about because we have taken the time to get to know each other, our contradictions, our faults, our weird habits and the best parts of each of us.

But for now. I will keep wondering and hoping and praying. And looking forward to the day that you go, “hey babe, it’s me”.

Loss Vs the Potential for Gain

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There’s very little length to this blog today. Simply a lesson I am learning more and more.

If it’s worth saving, it’s worth losing. 

There are many situations in our lives where we weigh out the potential for loss. We consider risk when making decisions.

How often have I heard a friend say “I would have asked him out, but if he says no?” or “I really think she needs to know this before she marries him.” or maybe, “He hurt me and I don’t know how to tell him, what if it makes it worse.”

These are of course, just three simple examples where we consider the risk of being honest with someone. Honesty in this day seems to be very difficult. It’s often hard to be honest and even more difficult to take.

One internet meme says it well. In reference to a long-marriage the quote says, “they came from a time where you fixed what was broken instead of throwing it away.”

We are in an age of hyper-communication and yet we tend to shy away from real communications, instead opting for niceties, likes and/or passive aggressive communication. We worry about saying something what could be deemed as harsh, negative or, even in many cases, just put us into a vulnerable position. Honesty is scary.

But when we love someone it’s worth it. Just like our parents put boundaries on us or discipline us because they love us, when we care about someone, when we love them, words end up only helping.

I don’t want to go halfway. I don’t want friends (and I mean real friends, not acquaintances) with whom I can’t bare my soul. I don’t want leave a broken mess behind me.

If I care enough about keeping it, I care enough about losing it.

If it was real it won’t stay broken long.

What I learned about love from a FaceTime Call

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The last two weeks are so have been filled with many a FaceTime or Skype call with friends from all across the world. When I moved abroad twelve years ago these were options that did not exist. I can’t even imagine what it was like in the 50s when my grandmother left Germany for Canada.
As I plan my steps ahead and follow the whisper that God has put on my heart, these calls have become ever increasingly important to me. Much like technology such as Facebook, Whatsapp, FaceTime, Instagram have done, the ability to connect as my feet touch the earth of a hundred different cities means more and more each day.
As I spoke to “meine schwester” in Germany, watching her be a mom, interacting with her gorgeous son, my heart was filled with joy that I cannot comprehend.
As I look to take new steps these moments are so important and have shown me two very important lessons.

 

1. People make you who you are.
I am so grateful for the people who have become an irreplaceable part of my life. Some have made me think differently. Some have encouraged me. Some have challenged me. Some have picked me up when I was down. Some have torn my heart apart. Some have celebrated me. Some have chosen not to. Regardless of the role they have played, they have made me who I am. Whether it’s been in uni or while I have lived abroad, we have almost all parted ways because of distance. And even so, when we need a reminder of who we are, we can pick up the phone or computer and get that reminder.

 

2. Your heart always has enough room.
Many have said that their children have shown them that their heart expands to infinity–that the love they have to give grows. For me, this has been the people I have met along the way. As I meet people, in different cities, countries…I have come to learn that we have been created with the most inexplicable ability to love. As a muscle, your heart needs exercise. It is the same with choosing to love. Whether this means loving a new person or ensuring you keep in touch with that friend you met in whatever place, however many years ago, our capacity to love, I believe, is simply an act of exercising the muscle. Become too insular and your muscle tightens. Live an open life and your muscle expands and is able to expand infinitely. It doesn’t mean that you can have 10,000 friends all at once, only that simply thinking of someone, sending a note or a prayer can be enough. Or maybe a Skype call once every year will do. Love never has to die.

 

3. Distance is nothing when love is involved.
And to much the same thought, when we choose to love someone, when we make room for them in our hearts, distance will never matter. In fact, that distance can grow your love and truly, no one is ever more than a plane ride away. Some of the most incredible friendships I have were those I met in a foreign place, sometimes even for a relatively short period of time.

 

To end this all…I say simply this.
i carry your heart with me. 
no matter where I go. or who I become. you have touched my heart and you are important to me. 
–––
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
ee cummings

Chasing the Dream

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She handed me a notebook and a modern feathered pen and said “never stop writing”.

I cried.

I cried because I knew she was right.

I cried because I knew what I had to do.

And yet, I still stalled.

I am a risk taker. But what others may not see, is that I take calculated risks.

Being a writer is not a calculated risk.

So I stalled. I’ve stalled all summer. I’ve looked for jobs, I have been part of extensive interview processes. I have laughed. I have cried. I have talked. I have prayed.

Oh I have prayed.

And yet the whisper came again. And again.

Many plans are in a man’s mind,
But it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out). prov 19:21

 

 

And so…with that in mind…I decided to jump and suddenly everything began to fall into place.

And that’s where I end this post…

Watch this Space.