Simple Seeds

Recently, I’ve had the word “hate” stuck in my head & on my mind for the past little while. This word, this verb, this action, this arrow that cuts straight to the heart, has been tossing on the waves of my mind.

Hate is such a strong word, yet we use it everyday. “I hate peas” “I hate the rain.” “I hate the smell of wet dog.” Yet, when I truly think of hate, I can’t help but think of the atrocities that have been committed throughout history (both past & present). Hate is a force that drives seemingly “small acts” such as gossip, manipulation, exclusion and stereotypes, which in turn drives acts such as bullying, abuse, racism, sexism, classism & other types of discrimination. Hate has even lit the fires of genocide & tragedy felt around the world.

How do you get from gossip to racism, from exclusion to bullying & manipulation to genocide?

While I was siting on the bus today, praying, thinking & wrestling with hate, I realized that hate starts out as just a small seed. Maybe that seed was being bullied as a child & so you bully others as an adult. Maybe that seed was being insulted by someone of a different race & letting that seed fester & rot & turn into bitterness, which turned into racism. Maybe that seed was a misconception, false information or just ignorance that you never checked out & chose to cling to.

But those seeds are dangerous.

For most of us, those seeds turn into attitudes that make us cranky towards certain people or in certain places. For most of us, we won’t end up on the front page of the newspaper because of a little seed planted long ago. For most of us, those seeds will grow silent hate that churns in our hearts & is only seen now & then.

But for some of us, hate can be a powerful force set on destruction.

I was thinking about one very extreme example of hate today: the holocaust. It breaks my heart to think of the atrocities that were committed by the Nazis. There are no words to describe the tragic effects of that hate. But I was wondering today, how did Hitler get to the place where he simply hated the Jews to slaughtering millions of people? How did his followers get to that place?

My best guess it that they had seeds of hate inside of them & all they needed was one man to spark the fire of animosity that was growing inside of their hearts. They needed one match.

This is a sobering thought for me because none of us are immune to the effects of hatred, whether we are victims or victimizers. Hatred is so prevalent in our world & it fills my heart with sorrow. You can call me a hippy or a sap, but I long for the day when humanity turns from our hell-bent ways of destruction & animosity & we learn to love & celebrate each other.

The only force stronger than hate is LOVE. So let us be bent on destroying those seemingly insignificant seeds of hate & loving each other no matter what the cost is.

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KO’d By Fear

In January, I wrote a post about my New Year’s resolutions. My plan for this year was to make it epic. While it may not be obvious in that post, I had big hopes for this year. I wanted to move upwards & onwards. I wanted to see changes for the good. I wanted to climb mountains & go on adventures. I wanted this year to ignite my soul.

This makes me laugh because, whether I express them verbally or not, God knows the desires of my heart. I can lock them up inside myself, but God knows. Oh, He knows. When I wrote that post & expressed my hopes for this year to others, I feel like God said to His angels, “Man, Michaela will not know what’s going to hit her!” I think God may have giggled in excitement and/or given Jesus a high-five.

But whether those things transpired beyond the pearly gates or not, God has done a mighty work in me. He has transformed me in ways that I didn’t expect & I wasn’t even hoping for!

We are only four months into 2011 & I feel like I’ve overcome & changed so much. Before all this craziness that God has immersed me in, fear had a nasty grip on my heart. I was so afraid to stick up for myself in case people would hate me. I didn’t dare dream for fear that I may never see those dreams realized. I never experienced radical joy because I was afraid that it would be taken away from me, like a tease.

To be honest, I never pursued much of a relationship with Jesus because I was so afraid that I would wake up one day & find that He stopped loving me.

Fear crippled me. It crushed me. It smothered my passion, my silliness, my everything that made me the way that I am. Fear locked me inside a cage & said, “You must be small. You must be shy. You must be silent, timid, weak, hopeless, helpless, lost, sad & wounded.”

But God was not satisfied with the fearful me. He is not satisfied with the fearful us.

I’ve taken what seems to be tiny baby steps to grow closer to Jesus, but He multiplied those steps into something huge. I brought Jesus the little that I had & He made it into something so beautiful & amazing. (Think fish & loaves. Matthew 14:13-21.)

God has flung open the doors of my heart & I can barely make it through a day without feeling exhilirated, refreshed & so filled with joy. I do things that I have never done before solely because I am so in love with Jesus & crazy happy. I dance at work in front of people. (The old Michaela never would have done that.) I run around like a little kid with my brothers & our dogs. I’m going to the gym. I am cutting back on my caffeine & sugar intake. I read my Bible on the bus. (Again, never would have done that before.) I’m going to freakin’ France & then going to school shortly after!

Those may seem like small potatoes to you (& some of them are), but Jesus isn’t just interested in being radical with the big stuff. Jesus wants to revolutionize our entire lives so that we are so free & filled with joy that we can hardly contain ourselves. Sure, life gets rough & there have been times where I’ve bawled my face off in the last couple of months. But Jesus is the Redeemer of the big stuff in our lives & the small stuff. Don’t think anything is too little for Him. (Think mustard seeds. He seems to be fond of them. Mark 4:30-32 & Matthew 17:20.)

I don’t know how to wrap up this post except by saying don’t let your fears have you in a choke-hold. Don’t be KO’d by fear! It’s not anything remotely close to easy, but it can be done. I am not finished my journey with eradicating fear from my life, but I know that I have to fight for it. Sometimes I don’t like putting in the effort, but, when I do, it’s so worth it!

“Now if you know what you’re worth, go out & get what you’re worth, but ya gotta be willing to take the hits.” – Rocky Balboa

Go out & get what you’re worth & don’t let fear hold you back!

And because I am a photographer, I posted some of my favourite “artsy” photos from a recent trip to Seattle. To see more of my Seattle highlights, check out my facebook page!

(I’m not sure why these photos are teeny tiny, but you can always click to enlarge.)

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Set the Captives Free

I was hanging out with my friends Aubri & Angela the other day. Angela & Aubri are in full-time school & Angela & I are going to France in a month, so none of us have money to spare. We won free donuts from Tim Horton’s & I heard that Starbucks was giving out free coffee, so we decided to have a date & end the evening by watching Tangled & eating nachos & snow peas. Epic.

Aubri & I get fired up about…well…pretty much everything. Over our free coffee & donuts, I realized that one thing that we have both become really passionate about is ending human trafficking (also known as “modern day slavery” or the “sex trade”).

I remember when I first heard about human trafficking. It was about a year ago & a good friend of mine was becoming more & more involved with this crisis spreading across the earth. I had heard the words “human trafficking” before & I knew about people who are forced into labour and/or paid horrible wages in third world countries, but I had never opened my heart & eyes to hear, see & feel this crisis for myself. My friend started telling me all these facts about human trafficking, specifically with the sex trade, & my heart was blown wide open.

There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today. Women & children make up about 88% of those victims.

Those are startling statistics.

I could write for hours about human trafficking. I could talk about it for days, but I really feel like every single person on this planet is responsible for ending this crisis. We all have a part to play. While I may never go to India or Thailand & bust open doors of brothels & rescue women & children, I can raise awareness where I am today. I can plan events to raise money. I can pray. I can speak for the those who are voiceless.

I can fight & I can kick & I can scream.

For more information on human trafficking & modern day slavery, please visit the links below. Take 5 minutes out of your life to learn about what is happening around the world & in your own country. Ignorance does nothing. If you have any ideas or suggestions or events that you would like to plan, let me know & I would love to help you out! While I’m not an expert on human trafficking & I’ve only started this journey, I am so on board with helping wherever I can. Slavery was abolished once. It can be done again!

Check out these organizations who are working to end human trafficking in our lifetime:

Not For Sale
Exodus Cry (they have a great blog that I read all the time)
International Justice Mission
Hope for the Sold
End Modern Day Slavery (human trafficking specifically in Canada)
iempathize (this is a great site because it offers a personality test to help you discover how you are best suited to end modern day slavery)

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Growing Up

Lately, I have been acutely aware of the fact that I am growing up. (I know, earth-shattering discovery, right?) But sometimes the days, months & years just get away from us. We lose grip on the fact that time is passing. And I’ve had to slow down lately & realize that I am taking really big steps in my life.

I’m going to France in a month with my best-friend & I am going to real school in the Fall. Along with that, I applied for my first credit card & it came in the mail today. Ho-boy! Big responsibility right there, but I am ready for the challenge.

Partnered with these tangible life steps, I have also been growing in character & wisdom. I’ve been learning more & more about how to be a grown-up, godly woman. My friend, Aubri, has been teaching me a lot about that lately. (I don’t know if she’s realized that or not, but now she knows.) Aubri has been teaching me how to be a fiesty, courageous woman that doesn’t compromise & that speaks the truth, in love, always. I’ve learned a lot about being a strong & courageous woman through her & those lessons have been invaluable.

It’s hard to be bold & filled with love in a society that either tells women to stay silent & weak or to be overly aggressive, masculine & to “wear the pants” in our relationships. It’s hard to find the balance of being feminine & fragile, while also being powerful & fearless. While I have not finished this lesson in “feminity 101”, I have been enjoying the journey thus far.

The above picture is of my oldest brother, Matt & I about 18 years ago. Time flies & I am not a little girl anymore. I have been becoming more like the woman that God has created me to be. I’m excited that I get to live & be how God had planned from the day he formed me in my mom’s womb.

There is a high calling on the daughters of God & that calling has been speaking to me lately. We are called to be prayer warriors, to speak for the voiceless, to fight for the powerless. We are called to comfort those who mourn & take care of those who are hurting. We are called to be filled with grace, love & mercy & to shine the glory of Jesus into the darkest places of this world.

For me, silence is no longer an option. Fear has no place in my life. Cowardice will soon be a distant memory. I want to be the princess that God has called me to be. I want people to look at me & see Christ in me. I want to be tenacious, courageous & fearless like my sisters before me.

The following verse has been ringing through my head over & over again. It’s a command that God gave to Joshua when he replaced Moses after he died. It’s an encouragement that God repeated five times in one chapter. I think he was trying to drive home a point…

“Have I not commmanded you? Be strong & courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Timid women don’t change history.

♥ Michaela

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I love people, which makes sense. As a portrait photographer, your job is people and the visual arts. Without people, I would have no job, no art. I am dependant on the beautiful people that enter my life. And that dependance is surprisingly liberating. Why? Because I feel so blessed to work with incredible people day in and day out.

One prime example is Hannah. Hannah is graduating from highschool and she heard about my photography through a mutual friend. She sent me a message over facebook and boom! We booked a session. Since Hannah contacted me, I had been very excited to do a shoot her. We decided to go to White Rock and, even though it was raining the whole week, the sun decided to make a glorious appearance.

Spending an hour and a half with Hannah was very inspiring. One thing that really struck me was that Hannah chose to do a shoot with me despite her insecurities and inhibitions. Like every girl on the face of the planet, she has felt insecure about her appearance and has felt extremely camera-shy. Hannah really wanted some great photos of herself before grad and because she got her braces off (woohoo!), so she decided to jump feet first into a shoot with me. Not only did she stand in front of my camera as I took pictures of her for an hour, she let go. She made silly faces, suggested poses, twirled, laughed, threw her hands up in the air and showed me a glimpse of the real Hannah.

Man, it was so inspiring to watch Hannah shine in front of me! I had just met her, but I felt like I was allowed to see how lovely and fun she is. I did not see this camera-shy girl that she had warned me about beforehand. I feel so blessed to have met this beautiful girl.

Hannah, thanks for giving me inspiration and a great reminder to be true to who I am whether I am in front or behind the camera and when there is no camera around at all! Let’s get some coffee together sometime!

~ Michaela

For more photos, check out my facebook page!

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Mondays & Inspiration

Ah, Mondays. I am part of the general population that dislikes Mondays greatly. It’s the end of the weekend, the beginning of the work week. You have to get up early and leave relaxation behind. Fortunately for me, my Mondays are now Tuesdays, meaning I now have Mondays off for awhile. Woohoo! And so, I am going to to tell you about my wonderful Monday that I feel so blessed to have experienced.

I slept in till 10am. (Oh, yes.) I woke up, showered, did some laundry, played with my Golden Lab and checked my email, which is pretty standard stuff. I then decided that I wanted to get out off the house for a bit. It’s frigid outside, so I got bundled up in my awesome jacket, yellow scarf and slouchy toque. I stuck my headphones in my ears and put on Bensé and Carla Bruni on my ipod and headed out the door. I live at the bottom of a seemingly giant and intimidating hill, so I decided to bus up it instead of walking. I then got some delicious coffee at the Wired Monk and, with a grande white chocolate mocha in hand, I walked to Shoppers Drug Mart and set my mind on getting some lipstick.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those girls that wears beautiful lipstick. I love the look of it, but I’ve never had the courage to try it out. So I walked up to the cosmetics lady and asked her to help me find the perfect shade. After an hour, I decided to get the one below. I love it and I can wear it during the day and if I go out at night.

Moisture Renew Lipstick by Rimmel London. #440 - Plumful.

After buying the lipstick, hand salve by Burt’s Bees and a copy Vogue, I headed off down the giant hill back home. I am blessed to live by very cool shops, one of which is House of Delovely. I LOVE this store so much! It has the cutest stuff! Some things are vintage or indie, while others are modern and trendy. It’s a perfect store to buy cute accessories, wedding gifts, decorations for your home or baby items. It is my new obsession. So I decided to spend some time in there and buy these awesome items below.

After spending a half hour there, I headed home, cracked open my Bible and spent time with God. I also spent some time catching up on blogs that I love reading. Today, I read Sarah Rhoads Photography blog and I felt so inspired. I felt so encouraged to be a person that lives in the moment and is not obsessed with themselves, but rather spends their time giving and sharing life with others.

At the end of her blog post, Sarah makes a confession. She says, “Hi, my name is Sarah & I am a workaholic. But I’m working on that for the sake of living a better life, and hopefully along the way I can create a legacy in the name of love… One that is rich in experience, compassion, love, serving others, real encounters with people, and creating something beautiful.”

While I wouldn’t say that I’m a workaholic, I am a selfaholic. I must confess that I spending a lot of time indulging in myself and forgetting other people. And I hope that the more time I spend with God and the people I love, that will change.

It’s been such a perfect day and I feel so blessed to have been able to start off my week with such awesomeness. Cheers to enjoying Mondays more, even if you have to work! Tip for the Monday-haters: pretty lips and French music helps greatly in enjoying every day, even Monday. :)

P.S. I took some photos of my lovely friend, Aubri, about a week ago. The photos are on my facebook page. I’d post them here, but my internet is being ridonkulously slow.

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What I Love

Because I’m still sick, I spent a bit of time online today, checking out new blogs and old favourites. It seems like today was the day for everyone to post about the things that they love. I thought that I would join in, too…

I love video-bloggers (a.k.a. “vloggers”). I am addicted to the the Community Channel, Rhett and Link and Julian Smith. I’m sure I’m not unique in this, but I love people who can make me laugh. And these four vloggers do a tremendous job in keeping me entertained every week. One thing I love about video blogs is that they are typically 10 minutes or less. Whenever I have some spare time, I can watch a video, laugh and then move on with my day.

For the month of January, I have decided to only listen to specifically Christian music. The reason I’ve done this is because my faith in Jesus is important to me and I wanted to spend the first month of 2011 focused on him. That being said, I love Jesus Culture. I bought their new CD, Come Away, not realizing that I would be listening to it practically everyday. Its fantastic!

The final thing that I am lovin’ today is singing. As previously stated, I am sick and, as a result, I have a raspy man-voice. Not pretty. It also makes singing rather difficult and I realized how much I miss it. FYI – I’m not claiming to have a beautiful singing voice. I really, really don’t, but I’ve learned to not care. If you have a set of pipes, you should sing loud and proud. :)

Oh, and I love the photo below. It is taken by the incredibly talented Sarah Rhoads Photography. To see more of the photos from that shoot, go here. Happy Saturday!

Posted in Life, Music, Photography | Tagged , | 2 Comments