“Counting It All Joy” During Finals, etc.

Hello everyone!  I’ve been wanting to blog for some time, but I’ve been so busy with finals.  Augh.  It’s super exhausting and sometimes it is so tempting to just have a big ol’ weepfest about the heavy workload.  However, I try to avoid those impulses, press on, and remain cheerful, keeping in mind that this is what God has for me to do right now, and that pretty soon it will all be over; I will get to enjoy a long vacation from studying, and will be able to have time to do enjoyable things again (oh happy day!).  This verse has kind of become my theme these days:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-3

When God is putting me through hard times where I honestly have no idea WHERE I’m going to come up with a 5-page essay concerning the theme of suffering in Buddhism, finish all my assigned reading, or come up with something sufficient to say in my student interview (and on top of that, be deficient in sleep), he’s teaching me to “count it all joy”.  Each hard moment is an opportunity for me to grow in faith, trusting that He will provide all my needs, rather than freak out in despair.  Where I grow in faith, I grow in steadfastness (or some other translations say “perseverance”).  And perseverance leads to more faith, and then more perseverance, and so on.  It’s a vicious cycle in the best sense, essentially.  So God has definitely been using this season to teach me to look to him for everything.  That I am in no way self-sufficient; I am fully dependent on Him.  He will provide; He’s never failed me, and He never will.  So though it’s been hard, it’s been SO good.

Anyway, in my last post, I was looking forward to Thanksgiving break.  I’ll quick tell you how that went.  It went pretty well: I got to visit my family, hang with my sisters, take a good long break from studying, and celebrate Thanksgiving with some relatives.  Our dinner was the bomb, especially the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin custard and my mom’s cranberry apple sweet potatoes.

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After thanksgiving dinner, we had a white elephant gift exchange.  It was pretty fantastic.  The gifts I ended up with were actually pretty useful – two pairs of mittens (I could always use a backup pair of mittens), and a pair of snowman socks (YESSSS.  Haha).  :)

 

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Our class recently read through Homer’s The Odyssey.  It was interesting to learn about the Greek pantheon, and Homer’s worldview, shown through his poetry and storytelling.  Then I had to write a paper contrasting Penelope, the wife of the main character Odysseus, with Sarah of the Bible.  I concluded that each went through tough trials, but had different outlooks on life and responded in different ways to their circumstances, based on their worldviews (pagan vs. God-centered).  It was definitely interesting.

 

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A few days ago, a few of my girlfriends and I went ice skating.  I had never done it before, so I was very wobbly and I fell down a lot.  Haha.  But I think I started to get the hang of it to some degree.  It was pretty fun.

God has been constantly showing me his goodness these past few days, even in the smallest ways.  Last Sunday, after one of those “God, I’m so exhausted and bored that I don’t know what to do with myself” moments, one of my friends randomly stopped by (my roommates invited him, but I had no idea he was coming), and he, my roommates and I went to a coffeeshop to continue our studies.  It was so good to finally get out of the house and have a fun time.  It was cool because God knew that I needed a change of scenery, and he answered my prayer and provided it so unexpectedly and at the perfect time.  Then last night my small group got together, one last time before winter break, and we all shared what God has been doing in our lives so far this semester.  Sitting there, hearing everyone’s stories and being so encouraged, it just hit me how blessed I am to be a part of this school, along with all these lovely people who are like-minded in the gospel yet each have a unique story and calling.

 

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And as usual, class has been mind-blowingly AMAZING.  These days we have been going through the minor prophets of the Old Testament, and looking at all the foreshadowings of the Messiah that was to come.  They’re EVERYWHERE.  My goodness.  It’s SO COOL.  We went through the basic themes of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and all the visions of “the latter days” – the end times.  We were also shown how there is this recurring theme throughout the Bible of water flowing out of the temple.  Let me mention first that the temple was where the presence of God was.  Eden (which can be a sort of temple figure, because the presence of God was there) had a river flowing through it.  The temples built in the Old Testament, I think, were built by streams or rivers (something concerning water that flows),  Jesus (the presence of God, in the flesh) had blood and water flow out of his side when he was pierced, and lastly, Christians flow living water out of their hearts (John 7:38) (and we are temples of the Holy Spirit).  And then, another observation is that in Revelation 7:17, it talks about how in the new heavens and earth, the Lamb will guide his people to springs of living water.  Well, that is where the presence of God will be.  Whoa.  Mind. Blown.

(If you’re wondering why on earth there is something about “ten toes” in my notes in the photo above, we were going through the book of Daniel that day, and in Daniel there are a lot of visions.  And in one of the visions, the number 10 occurred a couple times, which I found interesting. That’s what that’s all about. Haha)

I am so excited for winter break.  I’ll be able to do the things I never have time to do these days.  During that time I’m hoping to draw, write and blog way more, write a few letters, spend lots of time in the Word, and be with my family.

God bless,

Madeline

 

 

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