The Beginnings of Summer

My life, since I finished my last final:

Hung out with my classmates. Laughed a lot. Went to Chipotle with some of them. Was tired, so I tried to take a nap in an empty classroom (didn’t work). Did absolutely nothing yesterday morning and afternoon. Went to a swing dance, saw some friends there and danced twice. Hung out with some classmates some more, went for a walk with some of them around the city, going to the top of a parking garage and admiring the view (I didn’t go very close to the edge…heights. Ya know?). Went to bed at midnight. Tried to sleep in, but couldn’t (had this dream—a good one—after which it was impossible to go back to sleep). Journaled. Recounted the previous day’s adventures to my sister.

And my school’s commencement is tonight, so I’m really looking forward to going to that and cheering on some of my friends who are graduating.

It feels so good to finally feel alive again. This past school year was wonderful, and I am so thankful for the memories made, the beautiful souls I’ve gotten to know there, and the lessons I’ve learned, academic and otherwise. But it was hard, sanctifying, exhausting, and very draining. It’s good to have all of that behind me, and to finally be able to relax, recover and have some fun, and not have to worry about the next day’s assignments.

Freedom.

I had my last final interview this morning. 10 minutes beforehand, I was going through my notes frantically, trying to solidify as much information in my brain as I could. It was 9:07, and I had the 9:10-9:40 interview. Seeing that the classroom was empty, I walked into the classroom 3 minutes early.

“Hey, Madeline,” my professor greeted me. I greeted him likewise and sat down at a table, opposite him. After asking me a couple of smalltalk-y questions about my summer plans, he opened in prayer and then began interviewing me.

He began with the theme of authority. I was so glad—that was the theme I had focused on the most in preparation for this.

I talked about British monarchy, its clash between the Catholic church and the parliament, the establishment of the Anglican church, the “Divine Right of Kings”, the KJV Bible, etc., all the way to Dostoevsky and Crime & Punishment, with the theme of relativism and how the individual decides what is right and wrong; how Raskolnikov denies that his murder was a crime…

We talked about the development of “the nature of the self”, we also talked about Marx and Communism, the American Civil War, World War I, The Edinburgh Conference, Socialism and themes in Crime & Punishment (quite a wide spectrum of topics).

And 30 minutes later, just like that, I was done.  FREEDOM.

 

 

FINALS.

 

It’s finals week.

This morning I walked into my classroom, where a few of my classmates had gathered together to study.

“Have you done your interview yet?” I was asked. (In this program we do finals in the form of 2 30-minute, one-on-one interviews with our professor, covering the information we learned over the semester and tracing themes throughout history.) I replied that I had not yet. Mine would be in half an hour.

“Can I pray for you?” one of my classmates asked me.

“Sure!” I said, not having expected the pleasure of getting to be prayed for. Aww. (The others had probably prayed for one another earlier, and I had missed it.)

She started praying, and in a second the others were all around me praying too—for clarity and the ability to recall everything I’d studied… You guys. My class is so sweet. I felt so blessed.

Then I tried to hurriedly intake as much information as I possibly could until 8:30.

/ / /

8:30 came.

I saw one of my good friends. She gave me a hug. “How do you feel?”

“I don’t know,” I responded with a nervous laugh. I did not feel ready for this.

“I’ll be praying for you!” she said.

“Thanks!”

I walked into one of the classrooms and sat down with my professor. He opened with prayer, then we started.

“Over the year, we’ve studied the development in history of the relationship between faith and reason. Can you tell me about any themes we’ve studied this semester regarding faith and reason?”

I racked my brain. I knew I had made a long list of such themes in preparation for this interview, but I could not for the life of me think of the first theme on that list. An uncomfortable silence ensued. I looked down at the plastic table-top—white, with little black flecks in it, like vanilla ice cream—and tried to think.

Aha. Pascal.

Pascal was the first person I could think of, though I knew he was not the first contributor to the “faith vs. reason” developments since the 1500s. But I started with him.

Pascal had a positive attitude toward reason, but knew the fallibility of man’s reason…oh wait. Before that was Descartes—”I think, therefore I am”… AHA—he introduced the “subjective turn”: reasoning starting with MAN as opposed to starting with God. (Why, Pascal.) He also had his cosmological argument (cause & effect) for the existence of God, which was that an imperfect being cannot think of a truly perfect Being. In other words, he said that an imperfect cause cannot create a perfect effect—therefore God must be something existing outside of a person’s imagination; being most perfect, He must exist. (#Anselm)  THEN there was Pascal. “Man is a thinking reed”—Pascal had a high view of human reason, but he knew that humans are fallible, therefore reason is fallible. “The heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.” He held that God can only be truly known by the heart, not simply by reason ALONE… (paraphrased summary of thought process)

I went on, until I had said as much as I could recall. “I think that’s all I’ve got,” I at last said.

We moved on to other topics.

…”Well, it’s 9:00, so we have to stop.” he said after a while. “Thank you!”

I thanked him and left. One interview down. I did not know whether I’d done well or not.

“Madeline! How did it go?” a few classmates asked excitedly.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I think it went alright…”

I went back to the classroom and checked my email. What, a grade back already? That was quick. It’s probably just a C, I told myself. I was not expecting anything good. I always had gotten Cs on my interviews.

Not this time— this time it was higher than a C. Wow, how unexpected! I was beaming. Praise the LORD! He had heard those prayers. Somehow, though I felt like there were many questions that I answered with “I don’t know”, and many awkward silences, and many times where I felt like I could not properly communicate what I was thinking, the LORD had given me the grace of a good grade.

One down. One more to go.

Life. 04/13

This will be a short one, because, well, I should be writing a paper.

Life has been hard. Really hard. In so many ways—health-wise, emotion-wise, faith-wise, life-wise. School is hard. The stress is real. I’m so overtired that I can hardly think straight sometimes. But God is carrying me through. And there is light at the end of the tunnel, I know there is: firstly, I am a child of God. Is there any happier or more comforting news than that? And these hard seasons I am going through are refining me, making me more like Christ. Oh, LORD, continue to make me more like Your Son, no matter what it takes! Secondly, there are only 5 weeks left of school. Thirdly, I’m learning so much about my health issues. I have Horner’s Syndrome, and I am learning so much about it and how it affects certain areas of my brain, as well as my gut—it may even have been the cause of my having Celiac Disease. Anyway, I am seeing a neurologist for Horner’s and for a traumatic brain injury I had had when I was 6. I’m feeling hopeful about finding healing soon. Praise the LORD!

Also, I’ve been marveling these days about how God uses hard situations for good. If things had not gone as difficultly as they had been, I would not be who I am. I would not love the LORD as much as I do. I would not have met the people I have met in those seasons, or would not have grown as close to my friends as I have during those hard days. I would not have as much compassion for people who are hurting. If I haven’t been wounded myself, I would not have known how to care for others who are hurting too. So although those days were dark and horrible, I am thankful that God brought me through them. He used them for my good, and for His glory, and has brought me closer to Himself. Wow. Thank You, God. Thank You Thank You Thank You.

I will post more later soon, if I can, AFTER this 12-page paper is turned in. WHEW!

Happy Holy Week!

Maddie

Rest.

Last night, at 11:58pm, I turned in my music analysis paper. And then the reality hit me:

I can REST now. I’m on Spring Break.

And how good it feels!

Today has been a mostly relaxing day, but the part that was relaxing and joyful was absolutely lovely. I listened to some music. I journaled. I read Psalm 34 and John 15. I juiced some some apple-beet-carrot juice (I’ve been juicing these days, and it is wonderful), and heated up some chicken soup for lunch. I prayed. I sang as I worked in the kitchen. I read blogs. And now here I am. It’s good to have a little breather from school (not complaining—I love my school—but breaks are nice too), and be able to slow down for a while. During this week, I hope to:

  • Catch up on sleep.
  • Do relaxing things.
  • Read my Bible.
  • Think and journal.
  • Fellowship with people.

– Maddie

#myriadsofblessings – 03/12

  • Homemade applesauce.
  • Butter.
  • That my life is not the storyline of The Sorrows of Young Werther, this very sad book I have to read for school! I am dreading reading the rest of it today, to be honest… I had to put the book down a few times, breathe, and remind myself that this is mere fiction. If my hope were not in Christ, this would be my life.
  • Community. I have been so blessed by the wonderful people God has placed in my life, they are priceless.
  • Progress, in any area of life.
  • Deep, honest conversations.
  • God’s sustaining mercy and grace. Oh, what would I do without Him. (Rhetorical question. I would be under His wrath.)
  • that God has a plan in everything, be it poor health, struggles, trials… He uses all these things for good.
  • that even when I wander so far, God has never failed to lead me, like the loving Father He is, back to Himself.
  • That God is pleased to use me, of all people, to bless others. What.
  • Hilarious things said in class, often providing comic relief on the more stressful days.
  • Songs that are dense with gospel truth. (i.e. “The Power of the Cross” by the Gettys, “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery”, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. So good.)
  • Fun times with friends.
  • Color.
  • Wool socks.
  • Skirts.
  • Chicken soup.

Under The Fig Tree – A Sonnet

In anguish my heart searches, seeking rest,

But there is none: two wills divide my mind.

My evil thoughts and actions I detest,

But somehow cannot bear to leave behind.

 

I feel this battle in my soul increase;

This sin I hate, yet love, grips me with force.

These habits, when will they at last decease?

They promise joy; I only know remorse.

 

Almighty God! From sins, deliver me!

These worthless things I somehow love, destroy!

From hollow, fruitless pleasures, set me free,

And make me captive to Your greater joy.

 

You’ve taught my restless heart to rest in You;

I now know joy unmeasured, joy most true.

 

(A sonnet I wrote for a school assignment, inspired by Augustine’s Confessions.)

 

Life – 10/22

These past couple of weeks have been pretty nice. The fall colors are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m trying to enjoy them before all the trees lose their leaves. Yesterday as I was walking home from class with two friends, we collected red, pink, orange and yellow maple leaves. I might hang them somewhere, not sure what to do with them yet.  Ahh, I love fall.

We haven’t had a ton of homework other than the usual reading.  The professors cancelled a major paper that we were supposed to do, which was SO wonderful. Now things are starting back up, as we have a quiz on Monday.

A couple days ago I was low on groceries, and like they say, necessity is the mother of invention—I ended up making a type of paleo-friendly pancakes… you know that recipe on pinterest for “clean” pancakes that are literally eggs + banana? (I don’t like them, they just taste like banana-y egg, which is weird…) If you use canned pumpkin instead of banana, it tastes better.  I did 3 eggs to about 3/4 cup of pumpkin, with some honey and cinnamon, and they weren’t bad, actually. They obviously weren’t the texture of real pancakes; they were thin like crepes, but flimsier and lighter.  They were pretty good, though, at least I thought so. I did wish I had something like tapioca flour to thicken the batter a little bit, though (although I don’t know if tapioca is paleo-approved.  I’m not eating paleo, per se, just trying to go easy on carbs).

Yesterday in class we studied Petrarch, a medieval poet and writer. We had read his essay, “The Ascent of Mount Ventoux”, which I found very amusing—in it he tells of his adventures climbing “Mount Windy” with his brother, and then uses it as an illustration of “the soul’s climb toward blessedness”.  Also, I find it humorous that he carried a pocket copy of Augustine’s Confessions with him wherever he went. He must have really admired that guy (well, everyone did back then, but apparently Petrarch especially). We also had read some of his poems from the Canzoniere, they were mostly really sad, depressing poems about pining after his very DISTANT, unattainable “love”, Laura (whom he apparently only saw once from afar, and fell madly into this obsession over her…). My prof had people read them aloud, and let them do so in whatever style they wanted, which was pretty fun. Haha.

Yesterday was my school’s annual fall party, and it was wonderful.  It was sad to think that it was my very last fall party, as I plan to graduate this spring. It was held, per usual, at this really pretty farm with a huge red barn, in which we barn danced. I went on a hayride, then I hung out with 4 of my friends, we climbed a tree, and then I went on another hayride, this time with them. I talked to some friends that I hadn’t gotten to talk to in a while, so that was awesome. I didn’t dance a whole lot this time, other than the Virginia Reel with one of my friends, and three line dances. It was a fun evening.

Happy weekend!

-Maddie

 

 

Life – 08/29

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Notes on our “Confessions” class

Things have been going really well these past few days.  School has been super interesting, and every day I’ve looked forward to the next class.  We are now into our second week of school; we just finished reading and discussing Augustine’s Confessions and just today we discussed Augustine’s understading of the Trinity and of the Will, whether creeds and confessions are an important thing to have in the church (we’re reading part of The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman for that), etc.  So many topics in one class period!  It was so interesting though.

To provide context for future posts, I might as well add that hey, so I’m actually not a junior.  I would have been, but last year the stress, the workload, the late nights and minor depression (from all of this) got to me, consequently last year things didn’t go as well as I’d liked, and I didn’t exactly pass.  I had taken my fall sophomore semester, but couldn’t take the spring one until I caught up on some things.  So I focused on my Greek, aced it, enjoyed a lighter workload for a season, and now I’m back as a Sophomore, 2.0.  While this is hard in some ways going from one class to another, it’s been great being a part of this new class.  From the start I immediately felt like I belonged, they were all so welcoming.  Last year I had gotten to know some of these people, and became good friends with them.  Now I get to be in class with them, and hang out with them all the time.  It’s pretty sweet.  Besides the people I already knew, I got to know the people I didn’t know very well.  At this point I know everyone’s names and have talked to nearly every one of them, and they all are super awesome people.  I left a great class, but I entered one that was just as equally great.

Now that I’ve provided some context, I can talk in the future about themes we’re studying without you all being confused – “didn’t you go through that material already?”

Besides academics, life has been good these past few days – exceptionally good.

  • The LORD has been so full of grace to me, as always, particularly now by giving me joy in him, which I’ve felt somewhat lacking before and had to fight for it.  I feel like these days my prayers have been less self-focused and more gospel-centered, which is good.  Besides that type of joy (which surpasses all others), I’ve been laughing so much these days, haha.  There are a few people in my class who are absolutely HILARIOUS, and they have been a source of much humor in our classes and in the times we hang out together.
  • Some days the weather has been slightly chilly – an indication of fall weather.  You guys, I cannot wait.  The colors.  The smell of dead leaves, and the sound of them crunching under my feet.  Actually having to wear sweaters and wool socks and use blankets.  Being able to drink tea without overheating myself.  Pumpkin, cinnamon, squash… guys.  I bought a butternut squash a few days ago.  YES.
  • I’ve been learning the pleasure of listening to entire albums at once.  I used to not have the patience for that.  But I’ve been realizing that albums sometimes have a big picture, and certain songs sometimes build off others in the album, or a hidden theme develops that I would have missed had I only listened to select songs at random.  Even if not, I’ve found listening to entire albums pleasurable in and of itself.  A few albums I’ve been listening to, start to finish, are
    • Ghost of a King by The Gray Havens
    • Where The Light Gets In by Jason Gray
    • Posters by Strahan

So that’s a bit on how things have been going recently!  I could say so much, but time is limited, and I’ve got to make supper and get to my reading (my reason for blogging was to wake myself up – I kept dozing off mid-sentence while I was reading, and would end up dreaming ends of sentences onto ones I had started while awake!  So strange, haha).

Maddie

 

Life Capsule – 04/13

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We are so close to the end of the semester, it’s crazy!  Trying to finish strong.  Studies are very interesting.  We’re studying early church history and reading through the Epistles.  Yesterday I read the entire book of Hebrews.  Such a good book; probably one of my favorites in the Bible.  God has been teaching me a LOT lately.  We’ve been wrestling with a lot of topics: doctrines, salvation, sin/grace… all sorts of things.  A few days ago we had a class on the five points of Calvinism, and it was very intriguing, though I didn’t fully understand everything.  Also we’ve been memorizing Romans 8, and we’ve gotten as far as verse 27.  Romans 8 is the bomb.  So glad that we’re memorizing it this semester.  Seriously, I just LOVE going to school here – every day I come away learning something new and amazing about this God I serve.  He is wonderful.

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Also, God is currently teaching me to give myself grace when I fail, as He gave me grace through His Son.  I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to my actions, and sometimes feel guilty for even the smallest mistakes I make. Guilt is definitely something I struggle with, even with things I have already taken to the LORD, and I need to keep reminding myself that these feelings of guilt are not from God, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)” – Christ has forgiven me for everything wrong I have done, large or small.  Through Him, my slate is clean; I am justified!  I’m thankful that God has given me a hatred for sin, but reminding myself daily of His grace to us in Christ.  Wow.  What love, that Christ would take my penalty for sin upon Himself, and give me His righteousness instead!  He is so good.

And He is SO faithful, even in the hard days.  These days have been a little tough, to be honest; it’s kind of a fight for joy, with the workload and the sleep-deprivation, learning to every thought captive in obedience to Christ, and just the weaknesses that I’m not proud of (introspection, poor time-management, etc.).  But I’m learning to see these days as gifts; they remind me how utterly dependent I am on God for everything: life, breath, provision, faith, joy, etc.  If life were totally perfect, I wouldn’t see my need for Him, and that would be awful.  And through these trials, whether they be a massive paper I’m supposed to write, or the temptation to worry or doubt or complain about something, God is teaching me to look to Him for strength in these circumstances, and then supplying that strength abundantly.  His grace is totally sufficient.

These past couple weeks my friends and I have been enjoying going on little excursions around the city, taking pictures, playing games, going out for coffee, etc.  I’m so thankful to have such brothers and sisters as classmates.  I’ve been so blessed by the times we’ve spent, the laughs we’ve had, the jam sessions and game nights, the deep conversations about life, theology, Nichomachean Ethics, how to pronounce certain words, etc.  They’re amazing.  :)

Enjoying my new glasses and being able to see clearly again!  The first class I attended after getting them, I squirmed with delight at the fact that I could actually SEE what my professor was writing on the board, and could sit in the back of the class if I wanted!  (I still enjoy sitting up front though.)  :)  I wrote a cheesy little poem the day after getting my glasses:

O former glasses dead and gone,
We’re through (not sorry!); moving on
Not only ‘cause of your decease,
But time to start fresh, if you please.
Since you, I’ve found a better pair
That makes my face look twice as fair.
I chose you when I was thirteen,
My fashion sense was different then.
Now, I’m not saying you looked bad,
But getting new ones makes me glad.
For one can tire of red and blue
rectangular frames; let’s start anew.
So during my final teenage year
I left you for a more hipster
Type with slightly bigger frames
(Don’t worry, they don’t take o’er my face);
Brown; the tortoise kind. Sold!
Something fun but not TOO bold.
And so it happens, I confess,
That I couldn’t miss you less!
And so I hope that you don’t mind.
Thanks to the new ones, I’m no longer blind.

Haha  :)  Have a good week!

God bless,

Madeline

Second Semester, Greek Philosophy & Intertestamental History

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Well, folks, it’s been a while.  School started up a while ago, and A LOT has happened.  Quick recap of the past month:  A BBC Pride & Prejudice marathon.  The discovery that my roommates and I were not the only ones living in our apartment – a mouse was too (NO!!!!).  Lots of poring over Plato’s Five Dialogues and Aristotle’s Poetics and Nicomachean Ethics.  Much stress over trying to figure out the minds of Plato and Aristotle.  Laughing over Greek comedies; crying over tragedies (such as Oedipus Rex).  Lack of sleep.  Lots of laughter and memories.  My first theater experience.  Capricious weather; warm, sunny days following negative-degree temperatures.  The memorization of Romans 8 (I love this chapter!  So glad we’re memorizing it this semester!)  The process of forming good habits for the good of this semester.

More recently, we have officially finished our Greek Philosophy course, and are moving on to the Intertestamental Period (the time between the Old and New Testaments).  We’ve been reading from parts of the Apocrypha, Josephus, etc.  It’s been very interesting.

I’m starting a hand lettering/art business!  More on that soon hopefully!

Later!  Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

Madeline

School Excitement, Life Lessons & Music

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Winter Break is coming to a close.  Overall, it was really good.  I spent precious time with my family.  I got to sleep in most days (a luxury!), make smoothies whenever I wanted (I don’t own a blender, but my mom does), and draw, take pictures, write and do exegesis (in layman’s terms, study the Bible) to my heart’s content.   Then the past couple days were spent with the freshmen that are currently in the area: going out to eat, playing hilarious games like Quelf and “Dreams”, and having conversations about things like Calvinism versus Arminianism (typical of Bible college students… but really, theological conversations are the best).  Good times!  Anyway, I feel well rested and ready to start a new semester.  I’m currently in the process of packing up and moving my stuff back to my dorm.  I’m also reading for our first lesson this Wednesday, about the Greeks, Romans and Persians during 400-300 BC (i.e. Alexander the Great, Xerxes, the Peloponnesian Wars, the rising and falling of Rome, etc).  Very interesting.  I’m very excited about this semester.  We’ll be studying Greek philosophy, literature, culture and mythology, and go through the New Testament.  I. AM. PUMPED.  Beyond words.  =)  I’m especially looking forward to going through the Epistles.  Paul, John and Peter’s letters are FANTASTIC.

It’ll be good to be back home again, living with my roommates again, cooking my own food, having friends over, and sleeping in my own bed, in “the batcave” (my loft/closet, which needs a better name, haha).  =)

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These past few weeks, this is what God has been teaching me:

– Words can tear down, or they can build up.  Be careful how you use them.

– God is gracious, even when I am not.  I hate to admit that some days I was tempted to feel easily irritated about things.  Then I would stop and think, “Where did this attitude come from?  This is not right!”

– “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him” (Psalm 42:11).  There are those days when I’m just not feeling the weight of the glory of the Gospel–I believe it, but I feel like it’s more in my head than my heart, and I’m not really seeing it for what it truly is, in depth… and I have to ask God for eyes to see it.  Sometimes during those days my natural response is to worry:  “Oh no!  Does this mean I’m not believing it?”  Not always.  Somedays it’s harder to see clearly than others, but keep choosing to believe God’s Word; keep persevering!  Psalm 42:11 fits this sort of scenario perfectly:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, 

and why are you in turmoil within me?  

Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,

my salvation and my God.

“Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.”  I love this verse.  God knows my heart.  He knows that even though I’m not “feeling it” that day, my heart is longing to be in that fellowship with Him.  And soon He will give me eyes to see again–more fully, in more detail–the beauty of the Gospel.  So I press on, preaching to myself of the mercy and grace of God through Christ, and keep fixing my mind on the Word, and pretty soon… WOW.  I once again realize how beautiful Christ is.  And my heart is once again overwhelmed by His sacrificial love.

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A couple days ago I treated myself to the luxury of Spotify Premium, so that’s been pretty fun.  Current favorites:

Amazing Life – Britt Nicole

This Is My Year (Matoma Remix) – Family Force 5

Energy – Hillsong Young & Free

Tell The World – Eric Hutchinson

Holy Light – Phil Wickham

Trololo Song – Eduard Khil (aka “Mr. Trololo”).  Yes, I’m serious… it’s been stuck in my head all week.  Though it’s been an internet meme for quite a while, I was completely unaware of its existence until a friend showed it to me a month ago.  The song was written by Eduard Khil, titled (in Russian) “I Am Glad, Because I’m Finally Returning Home”, and it’s essentially about a cowboy coming home to his wife.  However, according to wikipedia (yes, I research these sorts of things), he never published his lyrics, but decided to sing the tune anyway, I guess.  It’s a cool tune, I suppose, but why all the “lololololo”? haha  =)

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God bless,

Madeline

“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

 

 

Music, Field Trips & Anticipation for Thanksgiving Break

These past couple weeks have been quite interesting.

I’ve been enjoying the snow so much.  Watching it fall while I sit in my warm house with a cup of tea (or in the library, as I try to tackle an essay on the interactions between Israel and Assyria in the Old Testament) is near perfection.  A couple of the people in my class had never seen snow in their lives up until now, so it was cool to see their reactions, to hear about what they thought when they first saw it, felt it, walked on it.

God has been teaching me a lot.  He’s been proving Himself faithful over and over, and teaching me to rest in Him; to bring any anxieties or stress (college, life, etc.) to Him, and He always takes care of it.  Matthew 11:28-29 is high on the list of my life verses (I don’t have just one…I can’t narrow down the whole Bible to just one verse; it’s all so good):  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Jesus is just seriously THE BEST.

Our class learned about Hinduism last Friday.  It was a very interesting day.  The lecturer that day was actually Indian; a Christian who was a former brahmin (the highest, most desired position in the caste system; so it’s amazing and so cool that he left that to follow Jesus).  Hinduism is strange – the ultimate goal is to become one with “Brahman” (their impersonal god of gods, I guess) and become impersonal.  Which makes sense now to me why yoga (which actually is a hindu practice) is all about emptying onesself.  Hmmm…  I really don’t know why anyone would desire to be impersonal.  After class, we took a field trip.  We had lunch at an Indian restaurant, and then toured a Hindu temple.  It was very interesting.  The tour guide showed us all the different shrines containing images of some of the Hindu gods and goddesses, and told us about their attributes, etc.  It made me thankful that the REAL God made Himself known to me, chose me to be one of his children, and opened my eyes to how awesome He is.  On the ride back, I and a few guys in my class were talking about this, and we were like, “Man, if God didn’t save me, I sadly would probably chosen Hinduism over any other religion!”  Yeah.  It made me super thankful.  :)

I’ve been noticing how less-effective studying in a group setting is.  It’s fun, but certainly NOT productive.  ;)

I’ve been listening to Christmas music, and it isn’t even thanksgiving yet!  A couple days ago, Rend Collective came out with their Christmas album, Campfire Christmas, Vol. 1, and I bought two of the songs (“Ding Dong Merrily On High” and “Merry Christmas Everyone” – the first is my favorite).  They are so FUN!  I really admire their style of music.  Anyway.  You should check it out.

Speaking of music, I’ve also been into these songs:

Looking forward to thanksgiving break!  :)

Swing Dancing, God’s Provision & Cold Weather

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During these past couple weeks…

I swing danced for the first time.  A few of the freshmen and sophomores at my college had a dance on Halloween (or Reformation Day, which I observe instead).  We swing danced, waltzed, salsa danced, line danced, and there was even this dance off at one point between two of the guys (which was quite amusing).  But I’d have to say that the swing dancing was my favorite.  I felt very 1940s for a good part of that evening and it was fabulous.

I started drawing again.  All because the LORD miraculously shoved a sketchbook into my hands by the means of my roommate.  Seriously, God is so good.  A week or so ago my roommates and I were having a friend over at our place, and we were talking about art, handlettering, prints and the like, and I happened to mention “I’ve been wanting so much to draw these days, but I don’t have a sketchbook.”  To which my roommate immediately responded, “I have a sketchbook!  Do you want it?”  To which I surprisedly replied, “Seriously?”  And our friend was like, “ask and you shall receive!”  So God provided a sketchbook for me that day.  And from now on, that sketchbook will serve as a reminder that God provides for me, even things I don’t need, even before I ask for them!

I challenged myself to draw every one of my classmates. I’m about a third of the way finished.  I posted a picture of the work in progress on our class’s Facebook page, and now it seems like a few people in my class are following the project to some extent.  One of them said to me, “Man, I’m excited for this!  It’s like watching the progression of a building!”  I got an interesting request from another:  “Madeline, I want my picture to be something cool, like of me being on a horse, holding a spear… with [another classmate] on the end of it!”  How about no… haha :)

I finally did something with those two cans of pumpkin in my cupboard. I made pumpkin custard, and pumpkin french toast. It was the bomb.

I fell in love with three new songs: “Carry You” by The Native Sibling, “This I Know” by Crowder and “Old Pine” by Ben Howard. Search them out, they’re really good (if you like indie-folk music). :)

God has been so good, as always. He’s blessed me in so many ways… by all my amazing friends here, by providing me food right when my fridge was about to go empty, and so many others.

It’s getting colder and windier! So excited for winter, and I hope to see snow soon! Yesterday I wore flip flops for probably the official last time of the year. My feet were like ice. On top of that, it happened to be raining. Rain, cold weather and flip flops = NOT a good combination.

Yup, so that’s what’s up!
Until next time!
:)