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 ūüėČ
  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.

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?

My Year of Changing the Way I Worship

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I remember it so distinctly. I was at a conference that my church puts on yearly, in different cities around the world. I had flown in to this particular city to serve on team, the people around me, unfamiliar. Opening night I was stood at the back of one section and as the lights dimmed for the beginning of worship and Taya’s familiar voice filled the arena, I heard someone excitedly whisper, “oh, here it is, it’s THE SONG”.

“You call me out upon the waters…The great unknown where feet may fail…”

They were so excited about hearing this song that was sweeping the nation, in churches and radio, in person! And, to be completely honest I was sort of annoyed. Did they not understand that yes, this song was beautiful and Taya slays it, but it’s so much more.

“And I will call upon Your name…And keep my eyes above the waves…When oceans rise…My soul will rest in Your embrace…For I am Yours and You are mine…”

Worship is personal, so I asked myself why it bothered me. I mean, who am I to judge? But, it was that moment I realised that it was the Holy Spirit gently making me aware of how often I sing songs in church, that barely touch my lips, let alone my heart.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…Let me walk upon the waters…Wherever You would call me…Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…And my faith will be made stronger…In the presence of my¬†Saviour…”

That was October 2014. I was officially graduating from my MSc in a couple weeks and soon to start a new job (I didn’t know I was hired yet, and nor did I know that 2015 was going to be one of the most blessed, fun, horrible, tumultuous years of my life). But that night I decided that if I was going to worship, I would do it with all my heart. That I would change the way I worshipped. If I was going to lead people in worship then I had to lead myself first in the way I worshipped.

So, I gave myself a bit of a rule. If I wasn’t in “the mood” to worship, I would stop, pray and refocus, as much as I needed, to keep my heart continually focused and in the right place. I would sing because I meant it, I would praise because He deserves to be praised. I would worship because I am a thankful. I wouldn’t sing words, I would sing prayers. Practically speaking I also listened to more worship music than I have ever listened to. I changed my alarms to worship music to remind me to start the day thankful and appreciative. I took moments, turned off all distractions, put on songs like “It is Well” or “We Dance” and literally stood, sat, danced…I let myself be romanced. (no, not in that freakish “I am dating Jesus” way, but in the allow-the-Holy-Spirit-To-wash-over-You kind of romanced.

Yea, so that’s not as easy as it sounds. Like any habit in your life it takes a lot of practice and discipline. A lot.

It’s crazy. I wish I could say that this conviction brought me into some existential, blissful existence, but if you remember, a couple of paragraphs up I mentioned that 2015 wasn’t so hot.

You see, when you prayerfully sing “I will call upon Your name…Keep my eyes above the waves…My soul will rest in Your embrace…I am Yours and You are mine…” God tests you. And tested over and over again I was. And over and over again I vowed to keep my promise to practice this new habit.

And thus began an aspect of 2015¬†that I haven’t shared with anyone. I guess I never felt ready or wasn’t sure, or maybe it’s that it’s still a daily practice that I haven’t perfected. Much like my commitment to going to the gym 6 days a week. I know it shows results, but it doesn’t mean I am always consistent.

Full disclosure: My nearest and dearest will know that I have had times where I was still a wreck and worried, fretted, cried, but it was a lot less than other trying times in my life. 

So, before this post ends I will share what my year of worshipping prayerfully brought to me and my relationship with God.

Peace.¬†When my heart was continually focused on His promises, Who God is, on worshipping Him, I didn’t have space to worry.

Hope.¬†When I sang words¬†like “My soul will rest in Your embrace…For I am Yours and You are mine”¬†I was reminded of all the times that He carried me, blessed me, moved my life forward even when I was less than deserving.

Joy. Your grace abounds in deepest waters…Your sovereign hand…Will be my guide”¬†When I reminded myself, over and over again, that His grace abounds, that I am saved and made free, I could remain joyful in times of sorrow and pain, even when the world felt like it was collapsing around me.

Patience.¬†When I couldn’t see my next steps, I sang “Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me…You’ve never failed and You won’t start now…”¬†I reminded myself of all the times before that He held me up.

Finally, Closer.¬†You know that God only wants the best for you? And that whole “be careful what you pray for?” Ya well when you pray “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…And my faith will be made stronger…In the presence of my Savior…” HE ACTUALLY DOES IT. And that’s just one example. I began to realise that the more I prayed prayers that taught me to seek God, to seek the characteristics of Christ that would lead me into deeper, closer relationship with Him, it truly infiltrated all areas of my life. Yeah, a lot of it really hurt, but it was beautiful when the words I once sang as prayers of a desired relationship, became words that described my relationship with God.

And to be honest, it simply brought honesty back into my life and relationship with God. Worship isn’t always an idealistic, focused time with God. Just this Sunday my blood sugar was so low, my mind was elsewhere and worship was okay. It took a LOT of effort to focus. A year ago I would have gone through the motions and left. Instead I reminded myself why I was there, WHO I was worshipping and refocused. I think it’s what they call conviction (wink wink). It’s not about guilt, you can’t build a relationship out of guilt, it’s about an honest, no holds barred, sincere relationship with God.

And dang it’s amazing.

 

 

 

 

An Unapologetic Year

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“You know what attracted you to me? The way you don’t apologise for who you are”

That was 4 years ago and somewhere between that conversation, all the moments, circumstances and conversations past, and the present I changed.

Sure, I tried to get it back. Half-heartedly really; I even began 2015 with a drive to kick some butt. I even wrote a blog about it. I said I wouldn’t be afraid to sing again…

Now, it wasn’t that I completely lost myself, I even took a few steps forward. I got a bit of my backbone together again, I took a huge step in my health (and constantly need to remind myself of that), I achieved a few good bits.

But when I look in the mirror I noticed one thing.

I lost the light in my eyes.

I was looking through some old photos and wondered what was different. Yeah my hair was different, but that’s not abnormal. I am thinner now. Okay, fine. But what? It was deeper, it was in my soul. Cue dramatic music.

Seriously though? What was it that took away my drive? What was it that made the shine disappear.

And then it came to me…quietly.¬†

I allowed people to affect me. 

I allowed rejection to overcome me. I allowed other’s opinions take over. I allowed other people’s standards to affect mine.

I put less emphasis on the way I wanted to live my life and the dreams I had, the goals I set for myself to be determined by “them”.

oh the dreaded “them”. Who is that? Well, ¬†it can be what we believe others think of us. It can be the parent¬†who doesn’t seem care enough or the boyfriend who breaks up with you. It can be the girls’ at the gym who stare. It can be the boss that tries to bring you down because of his or her insecurities. It can be standards of the culture or world we live in.

Except that years ago I chose not to live by the standards of others. I chose to live for God, with excellence, with grace & forgiveness. 

‚ÄúNever apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.‚ÄĚ

Well, somewhere along the line I started to apologise.

And somewhere along the line the shine in my eyes started to dim.

We all go through ups and downs in life. The darkest times do often bring the brightest lights, but it’s when we allow those moments, those people to define us, then we lose our way.

No one is perfect all the time. I love the fact that I am a really hard person to read, that I have high standards, that I can swear like the best of them one minute, but then have a philosophical discussion on the existence of love in this world the next. I like the fact that I am not like everyone else and that I live with a hope greater than this world. This world is hard and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.

And I miss the girl who didn’t give a … (ahem)

Because that girl got sh*t done and I have pushed her away for too long.

And I have one life. One moment to make my mark. Why am I allowing anything, anyone to stop that?

No longer.

I will find my focus. You find yours. I will not apologise for who I am. I will be more vulnerable. I will dream more. I will take time to do what I need to do. I will say yes and I will say no. I will not allow fear to overcome me but instead remember that I have been given a spirit which overcomes fear. I will sing. I will dance. I will watch obscure movies. I will kiss more. I will worship more. I will be me. Can you be you? Because I love it when you are you.

So, here is to 2016 and letting that light shine.

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.¬†
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.¬†
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”¬†‘A Return To Love’ (1992) by Marianne Williamson

A New Level of Trust

I often hear the term “oh, I am waiting on God”. Actually, not only do I hear that term, but I myself have said it, numerous times, in context of anything from a relationship to a job, to any kind of answer for which I feel like I cannot control. I see it all the time, plastered across numerous blogs, preached in sermons, and most importantly even in the Bible.

In fact, every morning, at 9:55am I get a reminder flashed on my phone:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

It has long been a topic on this blog about allowing God to take control.

Even recently I wrote about having a trust without borders and the lessons in peace and humility that allowing God to have control brought. However, it was not until I was spending time with an amazing friend in NYC that our discussion led to a new and deeper understanding of God and his timing.

You see, in January I strongly felt that God was telling me to stop even considering my next steps and to simply (not so simple) take each day and allow myself to do well with what was in my hands. Whilst I accepted this and as you can read in my post, learned many valuable lessons from that time. Funny though, because just 6 weeks after writing this post I began to get a bit antsy. It was only when I went to NYC and hung out with C that I began to understand what God was trying to teach me next.

10626453_10152435093227091_4653617695945005897_nC and I had not seen each other in years, but as only true friends can, we picked up where we had left out. It was in this discussion that God spoke to me. At first, difficult to articulate, I later came to understand this.

My child, you tell me you trust me, you make all the effort to do what is asked of you, but you still give me timelines.

It hit hard, the realisation that although I gave God my every day, it was with the subconscious understanding that he would provide when in my time. For me that meant that as I finished my thesis, I would go to a few interviews and miraculously I would have a job before the end of summer. Funny thing, our timing, it is rarely, I hasten to even say, never God’s.

Now, while God continually and faithfully provided for me from June to October when I finally got my full time position, it was not in the manner I saw coming.

Do you not believe, live in the complete understanding that I love you so much that I want to give you my very best. I see the desires of your heart, the longings of your soul, I put them there. I love you enough to keep you from that which will not be my best for you.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matt 6:33 (AMP)

It is much easier to say you will trust God for a spouse until you are in your 30s and you see your body adding hair in places you did not want.

It is much easier to trust God for that job until you are dangerously close to running out of money.

It is much easier to trust God for that new apartment until you have just bought another one and you have not sold your first.

It is always easier to trust God on our terms. For me, it used to be hard to trust God in even the small things…but as we grow, as we mature, God allows us to be stretched and grow. It used to be that I would take a job just because I was worried I could not pay the bills. This time, I trusted and I waited on Him…and again, he showed me His love in beautiful and even outstanding ways.

I guess what I am trying to say is that…

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. Isaiah 41:10

Allow your trust in God to stretch you further, wait on Him…the answers will come…it may not be as tangible as a house, or a husband, it may be a lesson in understanding your purpose, your place, your destiny…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

A Trust Without Borders

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You call me out upon the waters.¬†The great unknown where feet may fail and there I find You in the mystery. In oceans deep, my faith will stand. Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.¬†Let me walk upon the waters…Wherever You would call me.

When Jesus called Peter out of the boat and onto, not into the water Peter’s first mistake was taking his eyes off his Saviour. When he focused his attention back on Jesus he miraculously walked across water.

January 2014 I made a very strong decision to live as much in the moment as I could. Although I have goals and dreams I made the conscious decision to take each day as it came, putting all that I could into each day and allowing each step to determine the next. I was going to keep my eyes on Jesus.

Almost 10 months later I wish I could tell you that it was the most joyous ten months I have ever experienced. I wish I could say that each day was filled with joy and new understandings of God and beautiful flowers blooming next to the paths that I walked along to get wherever I needed to be. I wish I could tell you that in those moments, which stacked into days and months I had Snow White-esque interlopers of birds hanging my clothes and wee squirrels sweeping the floor. I wish I could tell you that seemingly out of nowhere the man of my dreams walked up and declared his hidden love to me in a move so romantic, so over the top that I was maybe being punked and Ashton Kutcher might have made an appearance in Stockholm. I even wish I could tell you that my perfect job fell into my lap as one day I opened the door to the library, pausing for a moment and seeing that someone had chased me down the street because I “looked like the exact person they needed working for them”.

Yeah, absolutely none of that happened. (I may have to write a movie though…)

What happened was different. What happened, what is still happening now was something that is almost too personal to share, but too significant to hide.

Rather than writing a long essay which postulates on the grander theological reasoning behind why this happened and how I’ll simply share, in a few bullet points what it meant to be, what it means to me to really step out onto the water and be lead by the Spirit.

Peace. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

I once believed that peace meant that you had to feel great and that it was something that made you smile leaving you with happy thoughts and rainbows coming out as you spoke of how much at peace you are with a decision.

The peace I have become accustom to over the past few months is something I have never experienced. It’s a peace that truly passes understanding (Phil 4:7). Let me explain what that feels like. This peace is one that not only allows you to say “I’m looking for work”, but one that needs no explanation as to why you have yet to find a job. This peace is a confidence in the promises of God to prosper you and to not harm you. This is a peace that knows that when you are doing what you can, God will do the rest.

This is a peace that allows you to say “I’m okay being single” and not following it up with some sort of excuse such as “I’m not ready, or maybe he’s not ready, or maybe I need to lose weight, or where different clothes or try Tinder”.** This is a peace that says I’m okay with being single because being single is not a disease or a simply a season waiting to end (although it probably is simply a season). This peace knows that every period of my life prepares me for the next and MOST of the time I did not know what the next season looked like or how the current season’s lessons would bring me forward, and yet still it did.

Peace won’t always feel great, but this peace is one that is steadfast because my Saviour doesn’t change and wants the best for his children.

Humility

A large part of the last ten months was spent writing my Masters thesis. This meant a gigantic portion of my time writing…alone…in a library or some odd cafe which contributed greatly to my caffeine addiction. Writing a thesis is a process I really wish everyone had to go through. There is something about doing your own research that teaches you a multitude of lessons, the least of which is self-discipline. This process though taught me a lot about humility. In those last few weeks when I thought I had pretty much screwed up my entire thesis or in the beginning when I questioned my topic, I was surrounded by friends, professors and colleagues who helped me understand myself and straighten out some of the wires that were causing my brain to explode. Far more than grateful this process, alongside this daily surrender of a plan to God helped me become more humble. You can ask my parents, I have been self-sufficient from a young age and these moments when I doubted myself and had to ask for help gave me a sense of my part in this huge world and a desperate need to humble myself when I needed to call for help.

It may seem like a strange comparison but when we cannot even ask for help from those who surround us, then how can we ever seem to ask for help from God. God is seemingly untangible in the human realm. We cannot physically see or touch him, although I have in moments felt his tangible presence. Believing in God takes faith, is faith. When we first learn to allow others around us to help us, to let them in, we can further allow God to help us, take care of us and protect us.

Joy

I have a great sense of joy. I have known the ups and downs of life, but I must admit that some of my previous tendency to plan every inch of my life has robbed me of the joy of some experiencing the here and now. One night this summer my friend R and I decided we were in dire need of really good pizza. Sadly my body and I do not agree on what I like and what it allows me to eat so once in a while I go hunting for really good pizza, even though I will suffer after. R and I combed the streets of Stockholm and searched the internet for the best pizza in the city. We “stumbled” across a place, a bit off the track that has room for about 10 people on a good day and only opens at 4pm. Forgetting everything else that needed to be done we went along and had what I believe was one of the best pizzas I had ever eaten, washed down by craft beer and experienced in what felt like a genuine Italian eatery. Following this we decided we had to buy our amusement park passes that moment and after walking all over town we ended up at the amusement park where a concert was taking place. What began as a plan to grab coffee turned into one of the most lovely nights I had. R and I allowed ourselves to enjoy every moment of the evening and not worrying about what we had to do. I don’t recommend throwing caution to the wind, but that day without a plan will forever be a great memory and a time where R and my friendship was sealed.

These past few months, allowing each day to come and also allowing myself to enjoy the moment, not worrying about what might come or what might be happening in that moment, has opened me up to a greater joy than I had experienced before. It’s like joy on steroids. I’m not sure that is an appropriate analogy…but I’ve learned that allowing yourself to live in the moment discards the worry, the striving, the anxiety.
I write this all not only to you, but to me as a reminder. I’m still in job search mode, still apartment hunting and still single (haha jokes…), but seriously, I could say that I am living in the in-between and before today I would have said the same.

Except I am not living in the between, I am living. When we live life waiting for the next thing to happen, rushing through to the next step prematurely, then we actually stop living. Living is more than waiting for the next iPhone to come out or the next holiday. Living is breathing in each day, enjoying whatever time you have in each situation and with whomever. Living is joy, peace, contentment…

I challenge you to stop waiting and just live.

 

**The Tinder discussion is an entire other post!

Inside the Frame

mise-en-scene.

It’s the term that describes how actors are framed within a scene. It is how the director places characters so the story is best told.

It’s a very French word for framing.

We all do it. When we take a photograph whether on film or digital. Whether you intend to print it and hang it on the wall or put it up on instagram, you frame the moment.  When taking the photo, you keep or take away that which you want to remember or forget.

We do that with life most of the time. We look at the moments framed by the present. We see the here and now and understand our past or future within that context. What is often forgotten, what is often left outside of the frame, is that the Author of our lives is outside of time.

This past week I had the absolute privilege of taking up 14 of our youth up to the mountains along with 3 of our other youth leaders. One night as we were getting everyone to bed I stopped in the hall to speak with one of the pastors leading the camp. She and I started talking and realised that we had a mutual friend, from Canada, in common. As we spoke, we found out that actually we have a couple of friends in common. I was so excited. First, having any connection to something from home but even more because it was an answer to a prayer from earlier in the evening.

You see, being in Sweden, is really not where I thought I would be. In fact, if I’m completely honest, which I try to be on here, I did not think (or rather I hoped) that I would not leave London single. Don’t get me wrong I have no inherent problem being single I just didn’t think that I would have to start again, “all alone”. I sat in our evening service and cried, trying to hide the tears as they fell with no control down my face. Part exhaustion, but mainly simply the feeling that I had been left all alone to start over again, in a country where I’m just beginning to speak the language, still having those moments where I laugh, simply because someone else is, and where I’m still adjusting to the differences in culture. Where, being a student again, I’m just not sure what is next. Of course I’m living life here as if I’m staying forever, but I don’t have a crystal ball and like anyone, it’s not always easy to know what that next step is going to be.

It was just a moment, and I stopped, prayed and just asked God, again, to give me a sign, a big one, to remind me of His goodness, His plans, His grace on my life.

And He did…in the form of one blonde, Swedish pastor.

You see, that meeting reminded me of what brought me to Sweden. Sure I went back to school to do my MSc. Practically, that brought me out here, but more than that I can see now that it was so much more. If I look back at the snap shots of life I look at moments I have framed individually in my mind.

1) I was 12 years old and I met LJ whose older sister KA would later become a dear friend and end up living in Stockholm.

2) My mom took me to “dinner in Sweden” one night when I was visiting her when she was living in Denmark.

3) Randomly meeting a guy from Gothenburg in London and learning to count from 1-10 in Swedish while trying to stay awake all night to catch our flights.

4) Connecting A into her first connect group in London and she eventually moved back to Stockholm and became part of our church here.

5) Moving to London and shortly after, meeting another A, who eventually moved back to Stockholm and is part of Hillsong here as well.

6) Meeting D on the Underground in London and then KA ending up in her connect group in Stockholm.

7) Coming to Stockholm from London, for work and realising how many people I knew already…

Seven simple and very brief snapshots of life. Individually, they mean nothing. They are simply pictures put in frames, memories, good times, moments left in the past.

But put pictures together and flip them really fast and what you get is a film.

There’s a theory in Film studies called the Auteur theory. It says that the film directly correlates to the author’s vision.

My life, your life, has an author. He began my story many many years ago. He wrote it perfectly and with such care to ensure every detail was carefully written out as to make the perfect life for you. Things are not always going to go perfectly and there may be a few extra shots in their that are not ideal, but the film has an ending and with Him all things are worked out for good.

I may not know how my film ends yet (and believe me, I am confident that there is still much more to be accomplished) but now, as I look back at the “dailies” of my life so far (that which has been already filmed), then I see that the Author of my life has a strong, firm vision and I can fully trust in it.

Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding…Proverbs 3:5

trust

I will be a better me

A better me

1st of January.

I love that day. Growing up in the Northern Hemisphere, January is generally crisp and cool. The air feels clean and clear and full of expectation.

Around the world people are waking up with hope and expectancy. Some have said goodbye to a year of pain and for others the year will begin with blissful memories of a year gone by. Whatever 2012 was, 2013 is a blank slate, ready for the artist to create a beautiful piece of art.

I wrote in my previous post that 2012 was nothing that I imagined it to be; change was the word of the year. Truthfully, I spent most of 31 December excited to say goodbye to 2012. It was not that it was the worst year in the world or that nothing good came out of it, so much good came out of it. It was simply that there was little rest in 2013.

So this year, I plan to rest.

REST

Verb 

1. Cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or to recover strength

2. Remain or to be left in a special condition

Noun

1. An instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity

2. The remaining part of something

For me, resting does not mean doing nothing. Instead of being the instigator of more change I will build. A house stands because it is built on a firm foundation and this year my resolutions/goals are based simply around building…

I simply plan to be a better me…in all areas of my life.

I look forward to 2013, with great expectation. I know that there will still be change, that life will move forward, that the unexpected may knock me off guard and I’ll celebrate the joyous moments as well…but I also know that this year is not a year to instigate but to rest, to pause, and to consider…to Selah…with hope and expectation that He who created me, brought me to exactly where I am now and my responsibility is to honor that.

I wonder what YOUR 2013 will be. Is  it a year of change? It is a year of rest?

Why not take some time to stop, think and pray…and consider the year ahead.

do not just let life happen around you.

love x

dear past

Trust is easy when you know you’re not going to fall

 

It’s so easy to trust when things are comfortable.¬†

When you have more than enough money in the bank…it’s easy to trust.

When you have a boyfriend who wants to hold your hand and whispers about your future…it’s easy to trust.

When you have a steady and fabulous job you love…it’s easy to trust.

When your kids are behaving well…it’s easy to trust.

When every day is bright and the sun warms your skin…it’s easy to trust.

When you are getting good grades in school…it’s easy to trust.

When you can see the path you need to take it’s easy to trust.

BUT…what about when…

Your wife just came home and said she is leaving you…

Your job is not safe because of economic circumstances…

What if your child has been diagnosed with a serious disease…

or what if you simply made some bad choices with serious consequences??

I started thinking about these things as the pastor was talking about tithing on Sunday. I’m an absolute believer in tithing and offering back to God what is His. However, I have to admit that since leaving full time job, moving out of London, starting my own company and basically going “okay, God, you put me here…take care of me” it’s not been as easy to offer that which is already His back to Him. Of course I have but I have had to go back and look at my heart reasons for doing it in the first place.

But this post isn’t about tithing (though important) it’s about the trust I put in God when the outcome isn’t clear or even what I hoped for or the future isn’t certain.

Moving to London was an easy transition in comparison to Stockholm. Though life here is absolutely wonderful, the perfectionist in me thinks I should have been fluent in Swedish two weeks ago, the girl who loves people wants best friends right away, the shopper/traveler wants to know how she will get more income and the planner in me wants to know far too many answers about the future to even start writing here.

But through this process what I am learning (maybe I should have called this post “Two months in,what I have learned)¬†is that in this season in particular, my job is to not only trust the creator of the world, the one who goes before me, the one who loves me, the one who has and will never leave me or forsake me, the one who has planned my life since the world began, the one who knows how many hairs I have on my head (even if I spontaneously cut it on a Monday afternoon)…if that wasn’t enough of a task…and enough reason to trust, my job is to live today so that when I meet a new person I’m prepared. When the next client comes along, I am prepared. When I’m finished my MSc, I’m prepared. When the next opportunity to travel (probably a wedding, it seems to be the trend) comes along, I’m prepared.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

proverbs 3:5

so, like me…do you have trouble trusting? I’m not sure we ever get to a place where we always trust but I do want to get to a place that instead of trying to solve whatever problem I’m facing, the first thing I do is remind myself who is in control…

Your value does not lie in your decisions

Hi All! I blog at http://www.soworthloving.tumblr.com as well…and wanted to share today’s post with y’all here. love from sunny London!

 

What happens when your plans don‚Äôt come to fruition? What does it feel like when the plans you made with someone fall tragically to the wayside? How do you respond when a decision you made and acted on for your life turns out to be the ‚Äúwrong‚ÄĚ one?

Do you feel downcast? Does your heart feel heavy inside your chest? Is your worth called into question (mainly by you and no one else).

You are not alone. These feelings of sadness, rejection, confusion and lack of self-worth happen to many or perhaps, dare I say, ALL of us.

But know this…one day the sadness will lift. Old plans will be replaced by new ones. Dreams will fill the pages of your journal, dreams that outshine what currently feels like the be all and end all of dreams.

Remember that no one else’s decisions can change your destiny. True, they may change the path to getting there but if something good is meant for you, it will come to fruition.

Your value does not lie on your decision making ability. It does not lie in whether someone chose to spend their life with you. And it definitely does not lie in what you do.

You, yes you, are so worth loving. Don’t let any bump in your road tell you otherwise.