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.

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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. 05/06

These past couple of weeks have been eventful.

In school, we finished reading Crime & Punishment. It was a very interesting book and well-written, and in many ways I enjoyed it immensely, but I’m not gonna lie, that was one of the hardest weeks of my life—it’s such a depressing and dark book! But it ends happily (arguably… due to its ambiguous ending, some of my classmates would disagree with me). We spent four class periods on it, and the classes were so interesting—there are so many themes in this book, it’s mind-blowing! If only I could have half the skill in writing fiction as Dostoyevsky had. After reading it we had to write a paper on some aspect in the book, and I turned in my rough draft just before midnight last night. My LAST rough draft, ever. What an amazing feeling.

While some days have been hard, these past couple of days have been quite joyful, actually. The LORD has been giving me a deeper love for Him and His Word—I’ve actually been motivated to read it these past couple days, and to pray more often and more deeply. And these times in His Word and in prayer have been so sweet and life-giving—it totally affects how joyful I will be that day! Lately I’ve been reading through 1 John, and various Psalms (102, 103, 62, 46 are all wonderful), Romans 12, Isaiah 53, etc.

I’m so glad that spring is finally here in its fullness—the trees have leaves now, the grass is no longer dead but living and green, and there are dandelions everywhere, and the temperatures are getting warmer. Praise the LORD!

I’ve been in a juicing/smoothie-making mood these days. A few of my favorite smoothie recipes have been:

  • banana / spinach / avocado / yogurt / honey
  • banana / clementine / plain kefir
  • banana / frozen wild blueberries / avocado (this one turned out to have a consistency kind of like soft-serve ice cream!)

 

While school has been stressful, nearing the end of the semester (two weeks left!), I’ve been intentional to take breaks when needed for the sake of preserving my health, and this has been so nice. During these breaks I’ve been taking lots of naps (I’m not being lazy… I’m so sleep-deprived that it’s absolutely necessary), journaling or reading my Bible, blogging, and working on my lettering business.

Later!

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

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 – 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

 

Summer Recap

And just like that… Summer flew right by.  Now I only have a week left until college starts up, and while I’m eager to get back into all the school stuff, I want to enjoy and make the most of this last week of no schedules.

This summer has been a good one.  A quick recap of what happened:

I spent a couple weeks home, hanging out a lot with good friends and making a lot of awesome memories.  Then…

I spent several weeks working in the kitchen at a christian camp.  It was great; I’ve worked there before and know most of the staff there really well.  In the evening, when we weren’t working, the staff played games, or watched the Olympics together, or just hung out some evenings, which was fun.  Some other evenings I just spent in my room having some down time, as I was so tired from that day’s work that I needed to get off my feet or spend a little bit of time alone (I love people, but I’m just a bit introverted and need a little time by myself every so often to recharge), and would read my Bible, or answer emails, journal or do handlettering.   When we were working, we often played music to make things more fun.  We played For King & Country, Rend Collective, and Phil Wickham many times, as well as “Geronimo”, “Baby Baby” (the contemporary version featuring Tori Kelly), “Gone Like A Freight Train” (a classic in the camp kitchen), and “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATHE (one of the best songs ever).  We washed so many dishes.  I burned my fingers repeatedly while stacking hot plates.  I made nearly all of the gluten free baked goods.  Sometimes they turned out well, and sometimes they didn’t, so they didn’t tempt me (a good thing; I can always use fewer carbs and sugars in my life).  One of the best things about this summer was on the weekends, during staff meetings, when we would tell and hear stories of how the week went and how God worked in the lives of the campers that week.  Oh, so good.  In short, it was a good camp season, and I am thankful and blessed to have been a part of it.

Now I’m back home, and it feels nice, although not a ton is going on these days.  I’ve been setting up my new room, which has been fun (I switched rooms, due to old roommates moving out and new ones coming in).  I’ve been putting artwork and handwritten quotes all over the walls, unpacking and such – and sometimes just laying in front of the fan.  We don’t have air conditioning, haha.  I don’t have an actual bed frame yet, so I’m sleeping on a mattress on the floor (which isn’t all that bad, but once it gets cold and I start seeing mice, I’ll want to be off the floor).

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When I haven’t been setting up my room, I’ve been reading for my first class, early.  Or helping my friend address wedding invitations while watching olympics and seeing that 1st place tie happen in men’s swimming.  Or going with a couple friends to “Targhetto” (a Target in the ghetto, pretty self-explanatory) and then to a used bookstore (I found so many classic children’s books that I had read in my childhood, and I wanted to buy them all!  I totally would have if I weren’t a poor college student trying to be frugal, haha).  Or biking to a coffeeshop and then (currently) waiting for the rain to stop so we can go home.

Later!

Maddie

 

And just like that…

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It’s over.  Another semester… done.

My final final was completed, I turned it in, and I let out a huge sigh of relief, and let it sink in that now it had become officially summer.  (and oh, you know that that one song from High School Musical was then stuck in my head for a long time afterwards… “what time is it… summertime… it’s our vacation!!!”  I know.  I know.)  Friends got together to celebrate the end of another semester, with a bonfire, s’mores, and lots of laughter.  Commencement happened.  A few friends graduated with their Associates degrees.  A few final hours were spent together the next day before we parted ways.  Many goodbyes were said.

Many of my friends have packed up and gone home.  Most of them, God willing, I will see next fall.  Some of them, however (a few of the ones who graduated), I may never see again, and I’ll miss them.  But I’m excited to hear about what God has for them next.

I came home this evening, and went into my room… and it was empty, since my roommate had left for home.  So after getting emotional about how much I would miss her, I went to work rearranging the furniture, and took the top bunk, swept the floor, and put artwork and Bible verses and quotes in various places on the walls  –  it would be my room now.

Everything feels so strange right now.  But I’ll get used to it.  I’m thankful for another season of college life, and now I’m thankful for a summer, a time to finally relax  –  reading and blogging and writing and hanging out with people and studying the Bible and hand-lettering and doing other things to my heart’s content.  I’m also excited to work this summer, and to see people that I haven’t seen in a long time.  I’m excited to grow further in the knowledge and love of God, and to learn new things.  I’m excited to spend as much time as I can outside, and get all the vitamin D I’ve been lacking.

I can’t wait to see what God has for me in these next couple of months.

Life – 04/21

Hey everyone! How are you all? The end of the semester is coming up so quickly, with only 3 weeks left! Gotta finish strong, get all those verb paradigms hammered into my mind. I’ve got pretty much all of my vocab down, so that’s good.

These days have been very mellow, most of them spent at home. If you’d ask me what I do all day, I would say, Greek. Read my Bible. Journal. Wash dishes. Text my sister. Listen to music. Do some hand-lettering.

Speaking of music, I’ve REALLY been enjoying The Gray Havens’ new album, “Ghost of a King”. Their music is so fun, and the lyrics are so cleverly written, and many of the songs have Gospel illustrations worked into them. It’s pretty cool. I really like “Shadows of the Dawn”, “Diamonds and Gold” which has a really catchy tune, and “This My Soul” whose lyrics are wonderful.  Besides The Gray Havens, I’ve also been enjoying Jason Gray’s new single, “Sparrows”.

Now that it’s officially spring (it has been for a while, I know), I’ve been really enjoying all the springy things I’ve missed: birds singing, the windows open, rain pattering outside, sleeping with the fan on (YES), wearing skirts, and all that.

I’ve been asked to do a couple lettering projects recently, and it’s been pretty fun. I got to design my roommate’s wedding invitation, and just yesterday someone else asked me to work on a project for them. Um, YES.

Greek has been fun, as usual. Last week my professor led us all in a game of Greek Jeopardy and it was great. The category titles were pretty funny – for example, “Just Do It” for Imperatives (commands and prohibitions), “To Be Or Not To Be” for Infinitives (“to be” verbs), etc. Haha. I love Greek class. We’ve started calling the letter xi (ξ) “the squiggle”, ever since one of the guys in my class called it that, forgetting its actual name.  So whenever we review the Square of Stops (a very hard-to-explain system in which certain consonants in Greek, when followed by a sigma, produce either phi, xi, or sigma), “when κ goes before a perfective aspect market σ, it will yield what?” We won’t say “xi!” but rather, “the squiggle!”  Also, some of the mnemonic devices some people use crack me up.  There’s this word, εγώ, that is procounced “eg-OH”, and it means “I”.  A few weeks ago in class, when one of the guys was trying to remember the word, another guy whispers to him loudly, “What are your favorite waffles?”  At which the first guy I mentioned lights up and says, “Eggo!”  And then my prof says “Those are BARELY waffles, guys.”

In my devotions I’ve just finished Romans, and am starting 1 Corinthians and Acts.  The Epistles are SO good (the whole Bible is… and by the way, I know Acts isn’t an epistle, haha).
Ahh, this sound of rain is wonderful.  Some people hate rainy days, but I think they’re one of the best things ever.

Well, bye!

-Maddie

Life – 02/08

Hey everyone!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  A lot has been happening these past few weeks, and for a long time I haven’t really felt up to blogging.  But today I finally did.  It probably wasn’t a good idea, though, because it looks like I’ll be up late prepping for my Greek test tomorrow.  Oh well.  Anyway, here’s a bit of what’s been going on in my life this past month or so:

I went ice skating with some friends (only once).  I didn’t fall on my rear and get injured this time, thankfully.  The skates made my feet hurt though, and I had forgotten most of my skills.  I stayed very close to the edge most of the time.

I started a new semester.  Only I’m taking a year to focus on a few subjects, and plan on jumping back in the original program I’m taking, next spring, and getting my associates degree.

I have been having a bit of time to slow down and relax (see above).

I have been thoroughly enjoying Greek.  Well, the classes and the language in and of itself.  Not so much the program we’re using, haha.  But it’s been really fun.  We’re going to be memorizing lots of λύω paradigms this semester.  Last semester we did 2 of them, and this semester we’re doing 18.  #wow #bringit

I have been trying to keep my mind Christocentric – on Christ.  On who he is, on what he’s done, on who I am in him.  Spurgeon is known to have said something to the effect of “If Christ be anything, he must be everything.”  Yup.

I have been trying to make a point of memorizing Scripture.  Not just short, one-or-two-verse, Jeremiah 29:11 types of passages (though those are great), but also huge, 10-or-more-verse passages that describe the Gospel, or who God is, or who Christ is, etc.  Some huge passages I want to memorize are Hebrews 1, Ephesians 1 and 2, 1 Peter 1, among others.  I’ve just been feeling the need to have a very firm understanding of who God is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is, what the Gospel is, etc.  You know, important theological truths.  Stuff I already know, but want to have absolutely cemented in my brain.  I’ve got a little over half of Colossians 1:15-23 done, so that’s awesome.

I have been listening to a lot of The Gray Havens, Urban Rescue, Jason Gray, and Rend Collective.

I’ve been working every so often on handlettering.

God showed me that recently I have been giving into lots of negativity and self-pity, being discontented about certain areas of my life.  He showed me that he has placed me in the season I am in for a purpose, and I just need to trust him and see what he has for me there.  If things had gone the way my selfish self would have wanted, I would have missed out on that bit of grace he had for me in that time.  When he places me in a situation that isn’t what I would have wanted, he is doing that to test me; to sanctify me; to make me steadfast (James 1:2-4) and immovable in him; to cause me to remember how totally dependent I am upon him, and run to him.  He is good.  So good.

Have been realizing that life away from Facebook, Instagram and the like (for the most part) is so much better.

I’ve been journaling.  A lot.  It’s been great.

A lot of my friends are getting married and having babies.  It’s really exciting.

I joined a small group!  Since I go to a fairly-sized church (not exactly a mega-church, but rather large), our church does small groups, and I just became part of one.  I’m really excited about it.

I’ve been realizing yet again (for the millionth time) what a huge blessing friends are.  God has given me so many amazing people in my life, and has used them to encourage me, strengthen my faith, challenge me, and make me laugh.

I’ve been amazed these days at how God can use little, insignificant me to bless others.  When I look at myself, it’s sometimes hard to believe that he could use me.  But he can, and I’ve seen that he does!  Just today I was out with a friend for coffee, and when we were talking, she told me that what I had been telling her at one point in our conversation was an answer to something she had been praying about that morning!  What!  All I did was say words, but God decided to use them to bless her.  After she told me that, we just sat there, our minds blowing up.  It’s amazing how God works.

We still have a serious mouse problem.  I mean, okay, it could be a lot worse, so there’s a lot to be thankful for.  However, it’s pretty gross.  Thankfully, though, it might be getting better.  Maybe.

///

Happy Monday!

Break.

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Well everybody, I’m done with my 3rd semester of college.  And it feels so good.  I can hardly believe that I survived another semester.  It was really hard, but SO good; I learned so much.  When I was studying for my final interviews yesterday and today (instead of taking final exams, we have smaller exams throughout the semester, and then two 30-minute interviews with our cohort leader at the very end), it was so cool to look back and refresh on everything I learned.  This morning when I walked in to the classroom and sat down with my professor for my last interview, he said, “Well, Madeline, you’re 30 minutes away from freedom!”  When the 30 minutes were up, that wonderful feeling rushed over me of I don’t have any more assignments.  I’m free to do whatever I want.  WOOHOO!  I was pretty ecstatic for the next couple of hours.  =)

FYI, when I say “freedom”, I don’t mean that this semester was drudgery.  There were definitely very hard moments, and those were not fun, but they were definitely good for me, and I’ve learned a lot through those moments.  All that work, the sweat and tears and late nights and frustration (as well as the work that was more pleasurable, of course) was so worth it.  Because of it all, I have a greater knowledge of so many things, including but not limited to church history, European history and Greek.  It’s so nice to finally be able to know these things.  Besides the academic side of this semester, I made so many memories, and the friendships I’ve made during my 1st semester have gotten so much sweeter as we encouraged each other through the difficulties, laughed about things like ridiculous songs and strange words and Calvinist memes, had deep conversations, went on little excursions and field trips, and tried to be productive on those Tuesday study group nights, when 20 students would try to crowd into our house.  Often during this semester I would think nostalgically about last year and how much time we had to do more of those things, back when we all lived on campus or near enough to get together often, and take walks downtown or watch movies or have jam sessions.  But now that I think about it, though distance and a heavier schedule made us less social this semester, the times that we did get together were really sweet.  Overall, it was a great semester, and I’m happy to have a break.

So now I have 3 weeks to do whatever I want.  Wow, what a gift!  How am I planning to use all this time I have on my hands?  Well, I’m hoping to…

  • increase my knowledge in the field of language.  That means keeping up on Greek vocab, continuing my leisurely study of French, and reviewing Polish.  Today when I got home I laid in bed to “nap” and checked my social media and stuff on my phone.  I happened to notice my neglected Duolingo app, and decided hey!  I should learn a language during break, or refresh my memory on one I’ve studied before!  I found that Duolingo now offers a Polish course, and I started working on that.  I’ve taken Polish for two years, but then once I completed the Rosetta Stone course, I forgot a lot of it.  Now I can relearn it… and I think I like Duolingo a lot better than Rosetta Stone.  It’s definitely a different method of language-learning, but it’s free, and plus the app design is way more pleasing to the eye. I’m kind of choosy when it comes to design, I confess.  =)
  • cook.  Like, actually cook.  During the busyness of school, I would cook VERY simply.  Now I can have more fun in the kitchen and make more complex things, while not having to remember to leave enough time for homework.
  • draw.  I would every once in a while take “sanity breaks” and draw something when I couldn’t study any longer.  I wished I had more time to do it more often though, and spend as much time on it as I please.  Now I can.
  • read.  It’s funny how reading so much can cause you to desire to read even during a break.  Only I won’t necessarily be reading European history. ;)  Nah, a few books I’m hoping to read are Pride & Prejudice, An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (which I regrettably didn’t have time to read this semester, and was really bummed about that), and I’ll probably re-read Augustine’s Confessions.  And besides that, spend a whole lot of time in the Bible.  I need that.  I wish I could have had more time to do that this past semester.
  • be more social.  Like I said, I wish I could have been more social during school.  Maybe I can have more time to get together with friends now.  =)
  • do more things for others.  =)
  • write.

Whatever I end up doing during my break, I just want to make sure that I avoid frittering away time on things of little importance, and use my time for God’s glory and for my and others’ edification.  =)

-Madeline

Thankfulness, A Field Trip, Lessons in Faith, etc.

A lot has happened since I last posted – so many lessons learned, memories made, things enjoyed.  I cannot believe how fast this semester has flown by; in a few weeks it will be over!  Here is a portion of what has happened within the past couple of months:

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We’ve had a really warm, sunny fall over here, and it has been gorgeous.  I love fall so much.  =)  It’s been pretty decent teperature-wise up until this week, where the temperature dropped and the chilly winter winds picked up.  I’m excited that it’s time to break out the coat and mittens.  Bring on the snow!  (And I mean it; I love snow.  Until around February when it turns dirty grayish-brown from all the street sludge and car exhaust.  Then I can’t wait for spring.)

I finished a lettering project recently for a publishing house for a friend of mine.  I designed the logos, and I’m really excited how they turned out.  Can’t wait to see them in use!

These days God has been teaching me a lot.  I say that every week, but it’s true.  And I’m thankful that he keeps teaching me a lot.  =)  For a while until about a couple weeks ago I was worn out by school and because of this, really overtired and depressed.  In case I haven’t before, let me clarify: I love my school SO MUCH and and am so blessed to be studying here under such a wonderful curriculum and amazing professors.  I love what I’m learning, but the workload is pretty strenuous, and it’s easy to feel like I’m drowning sometimes.  Though I tried to fight it, I constantly was under this cloud of gloom and negativity, like I am not doing well.  I am going to fail.  There is no hope.  And if I caught myself telling myself this, I would stop and try to tell myself, NO.  Those are lies, Madeline.  I mean, even if you do fail, that is not the end of the world.  God has a plan for your life.  Trust him.  Ask him for strength.  Don’t worry about the future.  But I couldn’t really shake it for a while.  However, looking back, I see God’s grace in helping me through the rut.  I had a few really good conversations with a couple classmates about this, and I found that I was not alone; that I was not the only one who felt weary and overwhelmed.  After that, God basically shoved two verses in my face – ones that really spoke to me.  I only remember what one of them was, and I heard it in Greek class.  My Greek prof opens every class period with a verse – in Greek, of course – which we read and translate, and then he unpacks the verse.  Well this one time, he chose Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

 And I’m sitting there listening to Professor Matt explain the passage as I start to tear up and am like, Wow, God.  THANK YOU.  For the rest of the week, that (as well as one other verse that I found which I can’t remember) was recalled again and again as I preached to myself:  Don’t be anxious, Madeline!  Ask God for help!  He is Your heavenly Father who loves to give good things to his children!  Ask him for help with this seemingly impossible assignment!  He is able to help me do this!  Besides those verses, one Sunday our pastor preached a sermon that was just PERFECT.  The gist of it was this:  “Where you look tends to control your outlook” and “What you see by faith is more decisive and more defining than what you see by sight.”  It got me thinking, OH! By sight, I see an overwhelming task ahead of me, and it’s weighing me down.  I’m letting it ruin my life because I’m not looking at it from faith – instead of looking at it with the mindset of “okay, God put this task before me, and it looks impossible.  But!  He is able to help me do this!  Okay, LORD, help me!” and tackling it, trusting in his strength, I’ve been looking to my own strength and realizing my insignificance, forgetting that I have a God who I can ask for help.  Lord, forgive me!  Teach me to look to you in this, and give me the strength and endurance to do it faithfully!  So I was really blessed by that sermon.  Then, what do ya know!  I then went downstairs to help out in the youth group, as I do every week, and the lesson the youth leader taught was ALSO on faith.  What.  I went home that day, and I was just marveling.  Okay, God.  I have no words.  You are AMAZING.  Thank you for teaching me this.  Forgive me for my doubtfulness.  May I learn to trust You!  After that, by God’s grace, the nervousness, the panicking over the schedule ahead of me, the sobbing on my bunk as if there wasn’t any hope (how embarrassing…) and all that… pretty much ceased.  God gave me a more positive outlook.  I still felt overwhelmed, but I realized this:  God is in control.  He has a wonderful plan for my life.  Even if I don’t end up doing well in school, that doesn’t mean I’m stupid, and it doesn’t define who I am; my identity is in Christ, and Christ is what matters most.  HE is the reason why I live and move and have my being; I live to honor HIM.  Grades do not matter as much as he does, and I should not let this ruin my joy.  Things have been a lot better since then.

Over the summer, I started a notebook which I titled “Myriads of Graces”.  I write down the many things things God has done in my life, things he has blessed me with, and things that simply make me smile.  Two things inspired me to do this: the first being Psalm 103, which starts out with “Bless the LORD, O my soul”.  Recalling the millions of things he has done for me is one way that causes my heart to praise him – Wow, LORD, thank you!  You are such a loving Father, and you have blessed me with SO many good things I don’t deserve!  The second thing that inspired me was a message that one of the professors at my school spoke to some of the students, which was on the importance of cultivating a heart of gratitude towards God for all that he has done – and ultimately, for who he is.  Gratitude leads to worship (it should, anyway).  He defined gratitude as “a glad-hearted reception of God’s grace through his gifts”, and told of ways he exercises thankfulness in his own life.  He mentioned that one way was by making a list of a things that bring him joy – two of his examples being “wool socks” and “peanut M&Ms”.  (Those are some pretty solid examples…)  So this past summer, I started my own thankfulness notebook, and it has been wonderful.  Here are just a few things I have written:

  • God’s love for me.
  • The ability to create.
  • Healing from migraines.
  • The way sun shines through trees and illuminates the leaves.
  • Friends that you can have inside jokes with, tell anything, laugh or cry with.  You know, the best kind of friend.
  • Curry.
  • Bacon.
  • Hot chocolate.
  • Hugs – long ones.
  • Wildflowers.
  • Happy memories.
  • Water when you’re in desperate need of it.
  • Laughter.
  • Fall colors.
  • Jazz.
  • Dancing.
  • Corporate worship.
  • The book of Romans.
  • Art.
  • Reading for pleasure.
  • Showers.
  • Wearing pretty dresses.
  • Texting long into the night with sisters and laughing about inside jokes that only we understand.

You should start your own thankfulness notebook – it’s pretty fun.  =)

Greek, as usual, has been super enjoyable.  I love the satisfaction of being able to read verses in Greek and knowing what they say!  It is definitely hard work though memorizing all those paradigms and vocabulary words.  Wow.  Currently we are trying to memorize the Imperfect Active Indicative forms of λύω, and I’m still trying to get my prepositions down.  A couple months ago I started writing whatever I needed to memorize down and placing it where I would see it – First Declension forms on the whiteboard in my room, prepositions in a plastic bag stuck to the wall of the shower, etc.  All the work memorizing pays off though.  Greek is pretty awesome.

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I used to avoid sugar, preservatives, and unhealthy things in general, because I would get really bad migraines – like the kind that would sometimes cause temporary paralysis in some parts of my body, such as the right arm and sometimes the tongue, and would, on rare occasions, affect mental clarity (not in a weird way, but just that I wouldn’t be able to figure out the answer to six times four, or not be able to read words on a page.)  Once I would get them, the only thing I could do was sleep it off; I wasn’t comfortable using medication.  I started getting them when I was about 11, and then at one point when I was about 12 or 13, I started getting them pretty much on a daily basis.  It was a trying season of my life, but I did find that if I took fish oil and avoided sugar and anything artificial, they wouldn’t happen quite as often.  So I avoided sugar, dyes, preservatives, artificial flavors, and chocolate like the plague.  Then God chose to heal me.  A doctor found out what was wrong with me, and did what he could, and eventually the migraines became lesser and lesser, until instead of getting them daily or even weekly, I got them only about once a year.  I’ve been almost completely free of migraines for a few years now, and just recently have been introducing previously avoided things back into my life: sugar, chocolate and certain types of preservatives – not to intake on a regular basis, but just as a treat every now and then.  It’s awesome to be able to literally eat a gluten-free cookie, or pop an altoid in my mouth, and not worry about getting a migraine from it.  Last Tuesday I literally ate REAL ice cream, Breyers mint chocolate chip even (my favorite kind!), and it was THE BOMB DOT COM.  It’s so awesome to be able to have things like this again.  =)  FREEDOM!

We have mice.  And it’s disgusting.  I hear them scutter around and squeak in the walls at night, and I wonder how many there are in this house.  I saw one run out of the bathroom once (what on earth was it doing in there?), and hear them in the kitchen every so often.  Sometimes I can’t help thinking about that scene in Ratatouille when the ceiling comes crashing down and the old lady finds out that a whole rat colony has been living in her attic.  Ughhhhhh.  *shudders*  Thankfully, one of my housemates has stocked up on mousetraps (16 of them, to be exact).  I hope we find some dead ones soon.  (Ooh, I heard one just now.  Sick.)

These days our class have been studying Catholicism and the Reformation (woohoo!).  Because of our recent study of Catholicism, our class went on a field trip to a beautiful cathedral, where we attended the mass.  You know, if you’ve been studying Catholicism, it makes sense to see it in action, right?  It was my first time attending a mass.  When we walked inside the cathedral, I was like, WHOA.  It was so beautiful!  I wonder how much money – and TIME! – it took to build that thing?  When mass was over we walked slowly around, admiring all the elaborately detailed architecture.  I kind of felt like Lizzy Bennet walking through Pemberley, in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.  When we left the cathedral, we went to an Italian restaurant and had supper (well, I only had some pineapple, haha) while we fellowshipped, talked about the mass and what we thought about it, and enjoyed each other’s company.  We had such a good time.  Ah… I love my class so much.

Other various enjoyments:

  • Ask Pastor John podcasts.  Desiring God’s got an app for it, and you should download it.  =)  Each podcast is about 5 minutes long, and there are ones for almost every topic imaginable, and you can submit a question for Piper to answer.
  • Dancing around to Rend Collective’s new album while I cook or clean my room.
  • Occasional leisure time (such as right now, as I am typing this post!).
  • Writing out passages of the Bible and sticking them to my wall.  I’m realizing more and more that to fight the fight of faith well, I need to be well-versed in God’s Word, so I’m working on memorizing a few passages, like Ephesians 2:1-10 or 1 Peter 1:3-9.
  • Bacon.  I found some natural bacon (though I can handle some types of preservatives, I avoid those found in meat.  Thus, bacon was off limits for me) at Target yesterday, and fried some up almost as soon as I got home.  Guys, it was the first bacon I’ve had in years.  Wow.

Happy weekend!

Madeline

Life – 09/18

Hey everyone!  How are you all?  I’m doing well.  =)  Right now, I’m enjoying a little bit of free time, and it feels great.  I’ve been so tired, and have been working hard trying to read a lot and memorize what year the Vandals attacked North Africa and cut off what was left (East or West, I can’t remember) of the Roman Empire’s grain supply (I wrote a poem about it!  Just a second…), and memorize the forms of the Greek word λόγος (there are 8 of them!), and write on what I think Augustine’s understanding of the self is.  Whew!  It’s been wonderful to learn all the things I have been learning, but wow, I’m a bit exhausted, and it feels good to do something leisurely and restful.  I must be lacking in a year’s worth of sleep…  I think I’ll go to bed early tonight (pshhh… we’ll see if that actually happens).

This past week, we’ve been learning about Islam: its history, its religious and political significance, and what Muslims believe (studying its doctrines to what the Bible teaches).  It’s been very interesting.  For example, did you know, that their god (Allah) has 99 names that signify his attributes, but not one of them means “love”?  Learning that made me so thankful that the true God, YHWH, is full of love, and that by giving His Son to atone for my guilt, I, who once was black with all my errors and pain and regrets, have been made clean and set free from my sin, and become His adopted daughter, to love and serve Him in joy forever and bask in His glory… not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what HE did, out of His love for me!  I mean, seriously, what a gift!  No other religion teaches news like this.

Greek has been super hard, but fun.  I prefer the class sessions over the individual study time, because our Greek prof makes the classes fun and interactive, calling on us at random to answer questions (“Madeline.  Say this word on the board, tell me what it means, and parse it for me.”).  To parse a word is to identify its qualities, such as its case, gender, number.  For example, λόγος (logos – “word”) is in the nominative case, is masculine, and singular.  Greek is as hard to learn as I imagine English as a second language would be.  But it’s definitely interesting and fun!  It’s so cool to actually be able to read the New Testament in its original language.

I’ve been biking pretty often.  It’s been fun… biking in the city is kind of a new experience for me, so I’m getting used to that.  I have had a few awkward moments while doing it though… such as trying to cross a street but taking a while to get my bike to actually get moving, because the pedals are inconveniently situated, so I can’t push on it to get it going very well (while the guy in the car by me has to wait a second until I’m out of his way.  sorry dude).  This has happened a few times.  Or the time when I was biking with a friend, when we happened upon one of those ramps at the end of sidewalks, and I, having just been going rather slowly, had some trouble actually getting up the ramp, and had to kind of assist my bike along using my feet.  (Smooth.)  Meanwhile, my friend is several yards ahead, and looks back with an amused expression, probably wondering, “what’s taking her so long?”  Yup.  Haha.  But it’s been fun.

For the past few days, we’ve been studying for a history quiz.  Some of my housemates and I made a timeline on our dining room wall out of different-colored baker’s twine, pinning on index cards with names and dates with clothespins.  It’s pretty awesome.  A few friends and I went to a coffee shop to study, two days in a row.  The second time was originally the morning of the quiz, so we all got up at 5-ish in the morning and got there while it was still dark.  And then as we were studying, we all received an email from our professor that it got postponed until Friday (so, this morning).  I’m not sure how everyone else felt about that, but I was relieved: more time to get the facts cemented into my brain!  I didn’t mind a bit that we had to get up at 5.  By the way, I found a fun way to study facts and dates:  write little poems or haikus about them!  Everything’s easier to remember when it’s put to rhyme or a tune.  Here’s one I wrote yesterday:

Near four hundred thirty the Vandals took Africa

Stopping the import of wheat to the Empire

This was a blow to the economy,

They then had no choice but to eat gluten free.

Obviously that last line isn’t historically accurate; I’m sure the victims of this catastrophe possibly could have grown their own wheat if they wanted to, and they probably did, but I added it just for the fun of it.  (YOLO.)  Anyway, all that poetry writing paid off today; I think I did rather well.  =)

These days God has been teaching me to take every hard situation – be it a hard assignment, or a life problem, or a day where I’m feeling a bit overtired, or a time when life isn’t going according to what I’d hoped – and “count it all joy”.

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 1:2-4 ESV)

What does it mean to “count it all joy”?  Well, the verse is saying that when hard times happen, I should know that God is using it to strengthen my faith, to teach me to trust him.  It’s sanctification.  So when I’m feeling not-so-joyful and wondering why on earth, or looking ahead with intimidation at a hard task, or whatever, God is teaching me to say “well, LORD, this isn’t pleasant, but I know that You have caused this moment in my life to happen for a reason, to teach me to trust You more.  So thank You, and help me to take this moment with joy, knowing that You are doing this for my good, because You LOVE me.”  If life were easy, I would be a spoiled brat.  Thank You, LORD for discipline.

Also, I’ve been reminded that God is the giver of wisdom.  Yesterday I was sitting in the school library trying to write the final draft of my Augustine paper.  It was pouring outside (yes!), and I was listening to my playlist on Spotify titled “Chillax” (full of calm, wordless, relaxing music), and I thought I knew where I was going with my paper.  All was going fine.  Then suddenly…  I don’t know what to write anymore.  My thesis doesn’t work.  I can’t come up with six pages’ worth of information to support my argument.  Oh no.  What on earth am I going to do?  These are the moments where I break down and am like, “Okay, God.  I cannot do this on my own.  Any knowledge I have is a gift from You.  Would you be pleased to give me wisdom for what to write, and help me to get this turned in on time?”  And often in the past He has been pleased to answer this prayer.  Last semester I was writing a paper that had to be five pages long, and I only had two, and it was due the next day.  So I asked Him to give me the right things to write.  And would You believe it?  God gave me some grace.  He helped me to think (more clearly, when it was midnight and all I could think about was “I want to go to bed”) about the topic I was writing about and calling to mind all kinds of biblical evidence for my argument, and soon I had 5 pages’ worth of “word vomit”, which I could sort through the next day.  I was like, “WOW, God!  Thank You!”  Also, today my professor happened to read 1 Kings 3:1-15 to us as our morning devotional before class. This chapter tells about when Solomon became king of Israel, and God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give you.”  Solomon could have asked for anything he wanted, but what he asks for is wisdom – understanding to govern the people well, and to discern between good and evil.  He realizes that he is only human, and cannot lead such a large nation of people on his own strength.  God is pleased with his humility, and answers His prayer.    Like, He REALLY answers his prayer, making him wiser than anyone before or after him.  So.  Moral of the story: Do you need wisdom?  Ask God.  =)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5 ESV)

Lately, I’ve been enjoying:  Tazo Passion tea  //  “Live To Praise You” and “Oxygen” by Lincoln Brewster  //  “Born Again” by Josh Garrels.  This song.  Wow.  //  Wearing dresses around the house because they’re comfortable, and why not. =)  //  Reading Beowulf.  (It’s our assigned reading for this Monday.  I’m only on the second page, but so far it’s enjoyable.  I’m reading the Seamus Heaney translation.)  //  The occasional chilly, rainy days.  =)  Fall is coming!  //  The book of Romans (I’m going through it for my devotions.  So good.  Paul is the man).

Happy weekend,

Maddie

ἡ ζωή (life)

It’s been a while, I’m sorry.  I’ve been so busy these days that I haven’t had much time for things like blogging!  But I have a little bit of leisure time, so I’ll do a short-and-sweet post to make up for lost time.  =)  I’ve just finished my 3rd week of my sophomore year of college.  This year is a lot different than last year in many ways:

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Now that I’m a sophomore, I no longer can live in student housing (which is reserved mainly for new students), so I now live in a cute old house with 5 other girls (3 of them classmates).  It has been so much fun!  I love my housemates so much, and the house is really nice.  We even have one of those old, creaky, cobwebby attics, with floorboards that give when they’re stepped on (which is a bit sketchy).  Going up there makes me think of Nancy Drew or A Little Princess; it’s rather adventuresome.  =)  The best part is that there’s a little space by some windows, with a carpet and some retro mattresses, where one can sit and read a book or do whatever.  I went up there for a bit to do some homework, until I thought I heard faint squeaking (which I couldn’t tell whether it was a mouse or just old-house-noises), so I gave up and went downstairs.

Life has been really good.  We are currently going through the “Dark Ages”, medieval church history (Augustine, Saint Patrick, Pope Leo I), and the like.  We’ve been studying doctrinal issues that the church wrestled with during that period, and monasticism, and European history after the fall of Rome.  It’s been fun.  We recently read through Augustine’s Confessions, and WOW.  It is definitely one of my new favorite books.  It’s so beautiful.

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Also, we’ve been studying Greek!  It’s been really enjoyable.  It’s very complicated (the grammar is INTENSE), but I love the way it sounds.  We’re studying the modern pronunciation rather than the academic one, and I actually prefer the modern way.  We’ve been going through the original text of John 1, and learning vocabulary verse by verse, and translating it into English.  It’s been really cool.

Weather is getting colder, and I am so excited!  I noticed as I was biking to school today that my hands were getting really cold, and when I got home from school I was eager to put on a comfy sweater and make a cup of tea.  I think fall is my favorite season… I suppose I like winter a lot too, though.  But fall… fall is really nice.  Not too cold, but cold enough to wear sweaters and boots and drink tea or hot apple cider.  It’s also the season for squash and pumpkin-flavored things… which I am looking forward to.  =)

More later!

-Madeline

Dear Former Freshmen

Dear former fellow freshmen,

It’s over… year one of college.  Can you believe it?  It all flew by so quickly.  And what a year it was.  It seems as though just yesterday I was looking around at all your faces during orientation, and only saw 27 strangers.  I thought it would take forever to get to know you all, but not so.  Before long you “strangers” became very close, dear friends to me.  I have so many fun memories of all the things we did over the year – playing ultimate frisbee at night, then taking a walk in the rain to Starbucks (only to find it closed).  Or playing countless rounds of “Signs”, “Psychiatrist”, ” The Fishbowl Game”, and “The Dreams Game” (good times!).  Or the time when, one rainy day, I had hurried into the student lounge from the library, a little bit wet and in a hustle to get my paper turned in, and one of you was concerned and asked if I was “going to be okay”.  (Apparently the combination of my wet appearance and hurried nature made me appear just a little bit crazy – but I wasn’t; just a little stressed.  Haha.)  Or that one time when a few of us went to that one ice cream shop where they served RIDICULOUS amounts of ice cream, and I was the only girl.  (It was fun watching you guys trying to get it all down.)  Or all those little debates concerning how to pronounce certain words (“bag” vs. “bayg”, “pillow” vs. “pellow”).  Or that one time when 5 of us walked around the city, taking turns closing our eyes and being led around: “okay, you’re approaching a mailbox; let’s go toward the left a little” or “we’re coming up to a curb”.  Or that leaf fight a few of us had, one warm October day.  Or the study groups we had, when we would fit 11 or 12 people into our living room/dining room area, and more talking than studying was done for the most part.  Or the jam sessions every Thursday that we did for a while during the first semester.  Those were fun.  Or the time when we went ice skating and I fell, spraining my left arm and tailbone.  (It took a long time to fully heal.)  Not to mention all the funny things you said, and the inside jokes that happened between us.  I may be just a little bit biased, but I think we have the best class ever.

We learned SO much in just one year: from Genesis and the creation views, to ancient near eastern history (“Shalmaneser Three, he washed his sword in the sea…”), to the Old Testament and the foreshadowings of Christ, to various world religions, to Greek literature and philosophy, to the New Testament, to Roman history, to early church history.  We covered a lot of ground.  And while at times it was hard to keep on top of everything, and was quite an endeavor sometimes to trust the LORD and stay calm rather than stress out, I think those near-crazy moments brought us a whole lot closer to each other; we saw the best and the worst in each other, and learned to forgive, serve, encourage, love and build each other up during those seemingly-impossible days.  I, for one, feel very encouraged by you.

And now look – all those hectic, late nights of studying (I’m not complaining) were worth it.  We pressed on, and made it to the end of our very first year.  Congratulations.  I’m praying that the LORD will bless you all richly this summer, and bring you all even closer to Him.  I’m going to miss you terribly, and am looking forward to, God willing, being back together with you this fall.

Madeline