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

Ready or Not, here I go…

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photo: ivanka.trump.com

“When you talk about going back to Toronto, you light up, and that you can’t fake”

Dang. You have to appreciate honesty eh?

And the thing is, that even though I don’t have every step planned out, I am genuinely excited.

Like the quote says, most of the time I am not quite ready, but I go anyway. If I was always waiting until I am ready I would never move…

And because of that I took a moment to meditate on what I am excited about in this move.

I am looking forward to discovering a new city. I’ve never actually lived there and learning about the places that will make me feel at home; the cafes, the bookshops, the running paths, my favorite cinema…what will my Saturdays look like?

I can’t wait to meet “my people”. I know that I have an existing community in the city and I have the most incredible community spread all over the world. It can be scary moving to a new place when I have been so blessed with truly the most incredible “family “all over who have challenged me, encouraged me for so long. So meeting my new people is one I look forward to. What will they do? How will we meet?

Experiencing re-connection. I have had the privilege of meeting many people who have touched my life. Some for a few years, others more than a decade. Living near so many that were an important part of my uni years is actually really cool. Though we have grown up and went our ways I look forward to having time to reconnect.

The adventures of road trips! This may be a silly one, but I love driving and discovering new cities. I already have plans for Maine and Rhode Island and maybe even the entire East Coast of Canada.

But even though I am excited and looking forward to a lot, the honest truth is that I have never been so sad and so excited all at once. Sad because I am leaving the known, the familiar and in every season there remains an aspect of the unknown.

Will I fit in? Will my time away have changed me too much? Will the community I long for be there?

The thing is, even 12 years ago, prior to moving to London I asked myself the same questions and I have had the most incredible life so far. God provided me with more than I ever expected…so it got me thinking about choices.

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We were created with free will. We choose to love God. We make decisions daily about our life, big and small.

But…

We were also created to be in relationship with Christ.

So…

I believe when we are in relationship with Christ and truly spending time in conversation, in His word, then our choices will be in line with His best for us.

And so logically, all the what if’s and maybe’s aren’t so scary.

I always go back to the verse that I read the day I made the decision to move to London.

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
 
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.

Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.

He has never failed me. He has always brought me from Strength to Strength. So, I step out, not quite ready, a bit trepidatious, excited…

What will the next season look like!?

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?

It takes two or “I’m glad we met”

You know, a lot of the past few months have been spent dealing with the hurt, the pain, the brokenness of the last year. I used this as a place where I could think, feel, express and comprehend everything that had gone on. (And with God’s grace, help others in ways I never imagined and for that I’m thankful) And through that entire time there was one thing I never really expressed, the one thing that I always felt but was not ready to say out loud.

When you deal with grief, with brokenness and it involves another person it’s just easier to process what you are going through and not consider the other person. When it comes to breaking up with someone that is more than often the absolute truth. The thing is, that’s okay. It’s okay to just deal with you and to become you again. In my case, find myself, change my life, fix what needed fixing and pursue the dreams I had on my heart for so many years.

For me, I tried a lot, in my prayers, rants and journal entries to understand the other side but frankly, it was not the time.

And then one day that just changed. It’s that moment when you can begin to remember in peace and accept what you knew already: it takes two. There’s always another side to the story, a person on the other other end of the break up. They suffer, they grieve, they hurt and they have their own issues to deal with (because honestly, we all have baggage).

My friend made a comment on Twitter that parents of writers never really get to forget their past mistakes because we use the material in everything we do. Quite frankly, Max Dubinsky was right when he said that you can’t date a writer either, unless you marry them (which he did)…that can’t be easy for the one on the other end.

The other person is human and of course they have to deal with all that went on and move forward. It’s forgiveness, it’s closure and I hope that some day it means a friendly, genuine hello.

We have been given grace beyond what we deserve so we should be giving it too…so for what’s it worth…I’m glad we met…

and for all of you…when it’s time…forgive, forget, remember peacefully…

 

It’s Back to the Basics

I went to a party last night and since it’s customary to take your shoes off when you go into a home here in Sweden I did…and my immediate reaction was “I’m so sorry my feet look terrible and unkept” (sorry mom…)

It’s not that I am a princess who must get manicures and pedicures all the time but quite honestly there are a few things in life that I enjoy doing to make my somewhat hectic life more centred. Admittedly some of these things are very first-world and I could get some flack for calling them basics. So here is your warning: these may not all be basics for everyone but hear my heart and know that life is definitely not “all about me”…

You know those moments where you just want to go crawl into bed and hide for days? Or maybe it is the days that nothing you put on fits right or feels good? Maybe yesterday every time someone even tried to say hello you got overly frustrated and irritated? Maybe just because your boyfriend didn’t call, you cried? Or when the baby just would not fall asleep at 3am, for  2 hours and you felt like you don’t even know why you decided to become a mother or a father. Maybe you feel like your wife hasn’t stopped nagging you for days? Or has your roommate NEVER cleaned up?

These are just a few of what I feel like are evidence of a mind and body that is not taking care of itself. Let’s face it, most of the time when things are not going right around us it’s because of what is happening IN us. I have an amazing friend who often gets my rants when any of the applicable above have happened to me. She is one of the people I have allowed to speak completely freely into my life…and knows everything about me. My favourite reminder from her is always her first question after I have finished my rant, “Chelles, so are you keeping up the basics?”

And…after a momentary pause and a quick evaluation the answer is usually a quite, soft “no”.

When we think of the basics we usually think food and water. Yes, these are the very basics but everyone has their own basics which need to be sorted in order to live a full and healthy life. I have figured out what mine are…some of them are must-must basics and others are every few weeks rather than weekly (like manicures/pedicures) or even hourly but these things in my life mean that I can be the best I can be and fulfil the purpose I have here for others.

So here are mine…and in no particularly order of importance…all have their own place

  • read my bible, listen to worship music, pray: connect to God constantly
  • exercise regularly
  • get a lot of fresh air
  • coffee
  • drink lots and lots of water
  • limit the amount of sugar I ingest (which is almost zero now)
  • eat regularly and unprocessed
  • get my nails and hair done
  • keep warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot (this affects me)
  • get enough, proper sleep (so it doesn’t just mean time but I always make sure my bed is clean, with lots of pillows and blankets. It’s my oasis)
  • talk to my friends regularly
  • connect with my family regularly

These are my basics…you’ll have your own (although a lot of these will overlap). We’re all different and I encourage you to find out your strengths and weaknesses (for example; I’m an extrovert, so I get energy from being around people, HOWEVER, I am also an only child and very much know my limitations when it comes to how much alone time I need (it’s more than most think))

Take some time and remember that you need to be the best you can be so it’s okay to understand how you tick. You’ll be better off to your friends, roommates, husbands, wives, kids, boss…we want to live strong and excellent lives so please, invest in the basics.

And if you need a few suggestions for a busy season I found this blog which will give you 55 ways to maintain your sanity…

xxM

 

A year can change a lot

TWO WEEKS!!!! Yesterday I had dinner with three of my dearest girl friends and as we stood in the kitchen of our newly-married friend’s flat we were all shocked that it in just two weeks I would be settling into my new home in Stockholm.

One year goes by so quickly. In one year I have gotten promoted again at work, been to Stockholm (x4), Las Vegas, New York, Ottawa, Toronto, Paris (x5), Mexico and Italy. Two of my best friends got married. I went into and out of a relationship. I decided to move from the only home I have ever known as an adult. I helped write a book. I started a blog again. I started my own business. I met some of the most amazing people ever in all those cities I have visited. My best friend in Paris told me she would be a mom. I got to be in the greatest city in the world during the Olympic games (and more than once have been squished up between athletes and players on the street or public transit).

That’s a lot…and that’s not even going into how much I have seen God work in my life. I have gone from what I thought was whole, to broken to whole again. I have reached levels of intimacy with God that a year ago I would have been amazed at and now just realize I’m barely scraping the surface of the goodness and mercy and grace and love of our Lord. I used to think I understood the desire to know Christ better and to be in a deeper relationship with Him and now I only understand that I barely know him. My heartbreak made me understand His. His compassion flooded over me so that I may be more compassionate. His love overwhelms me on a daily, even hourly basis. It’s truly humbling.

One year. Just one.

I’m at the point right now where everyone is asking me about what I’m going to be doing in Sweden, how long I’ll be there and what my plans are while I’m there. Sure, I have a few things worked out but honestly, with all the choices and doors that could be open I can’t even begin to think what one year from now will look like…

My eyes have been opened to the truth that we simply need to be thankful for the days we are given and honor that which is in our hands today. Because trust me, the God who can do exceedingly, abundantly more than you ever hoped for or imagined is just waiting for you to let Him take you for the most amazing ride you have ever been on…

xx M

Walking through an Open Door…

Stockholm, Sweden; my new home. I’m still getting my mind wrapped around the fact that I’m leaving the only home I have known my entire adult life. I’m leaving the comfort of a huge group of friends, my primary language and a full time job. In September I will be a student again, pursuing my Masters of Science in Consumer and Business Marketing and because that’s not enough for me, freelancing. In some ways this feels like a bit of a life break but realistically this is an opportunity to grow, challenge myself and live the life that God put on my heart.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that life doesn’t always work out how you thought it might. It’s not always going to take you down a path of least resistance or open every door with a golden key. Life is not about ease of access to opportunity or going about life existing. As Christians life is about showing the world that there is hope and life beyond what we see now and that we are so loved by a God who wants to give us life abundantly. And frankly, sometimes those lessons are best learned through plans gone wonky, broken hearts and tear stained paths. It’s in how we deal with those moments that show the world that defeat is not in our vocabulary and that no matter what…we will come out fighting.

Pre-relationship I wrote a list of things that I was dreaming about. Those things have never changed, the only thing that changed is that in my foreseeable future I won’t be doing them with someone. So, I took some steps to see if some doors opened and one big one did. I have had it on my heart that one day I would go back to school to give myself a stronger foundation, so that all those dreams and ventures that are on my heart, may eventually come to fruition (in some form).

Many years ago I sat down with a friend who told me she was moving to Africa to volunteer in a baby’s home. Setting aside some of the bigger desires of heart she took a leave of absence and went. What she told me next, comforts me now. She said that over the years she had been prepared for this move without even knowing it. It was little changes in her heart, experiences, people she met etc that allowed her heart to be open to such a big move. Now, as I look back over the past seven years living in London I can see that I have been prepared for this move too. It’s so beautiful to see how God intricately weaves his thread through our lives not missing one stitch as he designs a gorgeous canvas. note: that girl lived so faithfully and now not only has amazing life experiences, but all those desires she put on hold are coming true now with a little princess on the way with her husband she met whilst on her grand adventure.

So here is to next steps, future plans and great adventures. Over the next few weeks I’ll be changing the format of this blog a bit. I will reveal more, but I envision set days I post on, with specific themes on each day. I hope you’ll join me as my journey continues…because frankly…The Best is Yet to Come…