Intense Gratitude

My heart is so full right now. God is so good. SO GOOD.

Firstly, I’ve been thinking recently about and marveling at how much God has done in my life these past few weeks, and how much better my life has been. I have no words. Some of you who know me well have heard from me how things have been going for me recently, and those of you who don’t know me but have been reading my posts from this past spring have an idea of how hard things had been. But it’s gotten so much better since then. Praise the LORD. (So to those of you out there who are struggling so hard and don’t see any hope for the future… hang on—it WILL get better, believe me.)

  • Mentally/emotionally, I feel great—so much more joyful and hopeful; so much more at rest—I actually enjoy my life more. I wake up nearly every morning feeling feel so much happier to be alive (not that I ever wasn’t happy to be alive).
  • Faith-wise… you know, it’s always a journey, I’m always learning; I’m a sinner in need of God’s grace. I mess up, I run to Him, He shows me mercy. By His grace, I keep running, learning to hate sin and love righteousness. So things aren’t perfect in the slightest (how could they be, on this side of heaven?), but He’s been teaching me so much, and blessing me and showing Himself to me in so many ways. I’ve experienced so much more joy in Christ, and God has been answering my prayers that I would enjoy Him more (shoutout to Jonathan Edwards’s Personal Narrative for the idea to pray this… Edwards did, and I thought, good idea!).
  • Physically, I feel better. I’m still not a perfect picture of health, but I have seen improvement. A significant example of this is that my hair is growing back. About 3 weeks ago I got it cut short (at about chin-length), and since then the amount of hair I was losing slowed down to a halt. Which is a serious answer to prayer. I am convinced that the reason for hair loss was mainly intense stress, while nutrient-deficiency also was a factor. (I get enough to eat, but my body can’t absorb enough nutrients.)

Which segues into the next thing that I am SO happy about: I had an appointment with my doctor today. I had gotten so many different tests done, and during this appointment we went over the results. And—praise the LORD!—the results came back with very pleasant news. I don’t have the possible conditions that I had been wondering whether I had. There was one test I did for “cross-reactives” (foods that the body reacts to as if they were gluten, even if they are completely gluten-free things, such as dairy, potatoes, etc.), and according to the test results, the only cross-reactive that my body can’t handle is dairy, which is kind of sad. On the bright side, all the other cross-reactives were negative (which means I can have things like potatoes and brown rice again! Praise the LORD.) In short, he concluded that things look very hopeful. I can start introducing those “cross-reactives” back into my diet, and I will still have to keep taking supplements, and continue doing exercises that help stimulate the left-cerebellum and brain stem. Anyway, I am so thankful that God helped me find this doctor, because I have NEVER been helped with my Celiac/Horner’s/Traumatic Brain Injury issues to the extent that he has helped me. Ever. My life makes so much sense—how these three conditions totally build off one another and cause all the various symptoms I’ve been having. I now know why I am this way, and have so much hope and confidence that things will only get better.

Thirdly, I’m just in awe over how God has just really blessed me with the friendships He has given me. I’m in awe over the wonderful sisters that God has placed in my life ever since starting college. I have grown so much because of them, and am so, so thankful for all the ways in which they’ve cared for me, listened well, offered wisdom and encouragement, and pointed me to Christ.  God placed the right people in my life at the right time. I’m also amazed at how God brings people together in suffering, and causes something beautiful to come from something unbearably hard. Or how real friendships will not cave under failures—I know that I have failed to be loving many times, yet by God’s grace, there is forgiveness, and the friendship continues on, stronger. Community is such a beautiful thing.

God is just amazing. I can’t say it enough.

—Maddie

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.

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

Fragility—a poem

This body is fragile and weak—

This isn’t exactly what I had envisioned.

But I know that it would be wrong

To question the Artist about his decision

To make me the way that I am for some reason,

And give me this life with its trial-strewn seasons.

So help me, when tears fall, and I’m on my knees,

To praise You through sorrowful fragility.

 

Like David, I ask You, “How long?”—

I could have been freed from this when I was younger,

But I’ll never say You were wrong

To give me a thorn that would bring forth such wonder.

But when I feel lost in my questions, alone

In a valley, enveloped by many unknowns,

Please be my light, Father, and help me to see

Your hands at work through this hard fragility.

 

As I recall all that I’ve seen—

All the difficult things that You, LORD, have assigned me—

You faithfully guided me through

Every trial You’d given, in love, to refine me.

For pain leads to growth, and such growth have I tasted.

Those tears and unbearable days were not wasted.

I thank You for giving me this severe mercy:

This difficult, beautiful fragility.

Reasons to rejoice.

Life can be really, really hard.

Excessive stress.

Feeling rather emotionally unstable.

Constant fatigue.

Feeling like nothing that I eat is agreeing with me.

Grief over sin.

Anxiety. Depression.

Tears. Pain.

Really knowing that I am but a breath that vanishes.

The unknowns—how long will I be this sick? Will I ever get better? How will this affect my future?

Life is really, really hard sometimes. 

But even then, God has been showering so much grace upon me:

 

Sweet time in His Word.

Precious friends with whom I can be absolutely real, not being afraid of being vulnerable; friends who understand me and care about me, who weep with me when things are hard and rejoice with me in times of joy; friends who encourage and pray for me. Friendship is such an amazing gift.

People in my life who are humorous.

Naps. I’ve been taking so many; I need them.

The Psalms. (Psalm 46, especially)

Grace to rest in the truth of the gospel. I’ve got no reason to doubt. God has me.

Songs that are full of gospel truth.

Things in life that are ordinary, but make life fun: music, smoothies, outings with friends, sunny days, rainy days, laughing with my sister over memes, orchids, poetry, etc.

Most of all, knowing that God loves me, that I am His daughter, and that He is for me, working everything—yes, EVERYTHING—for my good and for His glory. Though I may not see it now, I will later, and this will result in more joy in Him.

 

Even in dark times, there are so many reasons to rejoice.

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

When Footing is Slippery

These days have been a little rough. Okay, we’ll not sugar-coat it… just “rough”. I think I may have posted enough in previous posts that most of you may get the idea—the struggles against doubt, fear of man, and failure in obedience. I’ve often been feeling like a complete failure and worrying that my faith might one day completely go down the drain; that I’ll give up altogether… and that thought terrifies me. One of my most common prayers these days is “Hold me fast; don’t let me go, don’t let me walk away. Help me to stand firm.” And this far, God has so graciously kept me.
I just got home from Christmas with the family. It felt good to walk in the door of my own home and breathe a sigh of relief—I’m home. I love my family a lot, but it’s good to finally be home. I decided to check the mail to see if my letter that I had sent to my friend had even been taken by the mailman (we have a super deep mailbox, so sometimes I feel like letters might get forgotten down there for a while before they’re discovered). Not only had it been taken, but—oh joy!—I had received one from her.  Awww. At the very end of the card, she had written “Never forget His steadfast love”, and then “Ps 94:18-20”. So I looked it up. The first two verses really blessed me:

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalm 94:18-19, ESV

Just before I had read her letter, I had been praying and I had journaled about my struggles—”The rushing waters are up to my neck, and I am trying so hard not to lose my footing.”—and then boom, she writes me a card with a reference to a verse that had to do with feeling like losing one’s footing. I love how God does things like that. Wow. I was reminded of how every time I felt like this was the end, that I had no hope, God helped me, every time. And he will do it again. Every time I have been in over my head with doubts and fears and guilt, He has picked me up out of the rushing currents and set me on a rock. Every time I have felt that my faith would fail, He has held me fast.

So friends, if any of you are feeling similarly—if you feel like your feet are slipping—cry out to Him. Keep praying. Be persistent. Don’t give up. He will save His children. He will make their footing sure. He will hold them fast.

With you in the fight,

Maddie

Life – 12/18

As of this past thursday afternoon, I have been on Christmas break. It feels so good to have another semester under my belt, and to no longer have to think about I have to do this assignment, and this paper, and oh yeah, I have a quiz on monday… now I can breathe a little bit.

I’ve been working on handlettering a bit, making an order for a client and brainstorming about my soon-to-be Etsy shop. I’m really excited.

 

 

On Friday evening I decided I wanted to make homemade toffee. So I did. I make mine with honey and coconut oil (I’m guessing 1 part coconut oil to 5 parts honey… I didn’t measure), and then whatever I want to flavor it with (slivered almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, ginger… the possibilities are endless. This time I used ground cinnamon). This time, however, I made them differently than usual. Instead of pouring it while it was still liquid into a buttered pan to cool and harden, I waited till it was of a gooey consistency, buttered my fingers and pulled it like taffy (like they do it in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy… pull it, double it in half, repeat the process multiple times) until the color turned from dark brown to a light golden color. Then I twisted them into little pieces the size of caramels, and sprinkled them with sea salt. Salted toffee! It turned out pretty good, I thought; I brought some to my family and they loved them as well. Cool. Guess I’ll be making those again sometime. It’s hard being allergic to sugar, sometimes I really wish I could have sugary things like most other people (although I’d probably be seriously unhealthy if I were able to), so I’m pretty happy that it is possible to make toffee using honey.

Yesterday I went with my fam to the mall to go shopping (I hadn’t really hung out with them this much in a long time, so this was nice). At the end of the day I ended up with a really cute coat (it’s really thick, which will be nice since temperatures around here are way below zero), two plaid flannels from Ab&Fitch, and this cozy maroon sweater from Old Navy. When we were at Old Navy, “Holiday” by Britt Nicole came on, which I find rather hilarious—it’s a really old song; I think ON has been playing it every Christmas for about 10 years now (it was released in 2007), and it’s not even a Christmas song. I also got to smalltalk with one of the workers there as she scanned a tag on my sweater to see what the actual price was, so that was cool. We talked about where we were from, all the snow we’re getting, etc. Do you ever run across certain people when you’re shopping (I’m talking about workers) and you just want to be friends with them? It was one of those scenarios.

Despite all of this, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, to use a super cliché phrase. Struggles. Depression. Sin, and remorse over sin. Doubts. Anxiety. Feeling stuck. Crying out to God, and often doubting whether or not He can even hear me. Miserable, right. I won’t go into detail, but there’s been some difficult refining going on in my heart these days. But God is faithful, patient, and abundant in mercy and grace. He uses these moments to show me sin, to help me fight it, and to help me remember how much I need Him. As I once told a friend in a conversation we had a couple weeks ago, I’m sure if these hard times weren’t happening in my life, I would easily forget about Him. Which is a terrifying thought. So I’m thankful that He is using these times to sanctify me and teach me (and sometimes force me) to cling to Him for dear life—because He is the very reason I have life, and my heart is “restless till it rests in [Him]”… only then will I ever have real Joy.

In my devotions I’ve been reading through Hebrews. It’s been cool seeing in what ways Jesus fulfills the Old Covenant and many Old Testament symbolisms—that He is the better Adam; that He is the Great High Priest who made the final sacrifice: Himself, etc.—which is fitting in that we are approaching Christmas. So good. I’ve been also reading Psalms (not in any particular order, but based on what I need to hear that day, I guess). Good ol’ David. Journaling goals right there. When I journal, I’ve been trying to do it kind of like how many Psalms go: starting with the problem but resolving it with truth—This is hard. But God promises ___. So I will trust Him—I’ve found it very helpful. Get it off your chest, but don’t stop there. Preach to yourself.

I’m excited for these next few weeks of break. I’m excited for Christmas, and I’m excited to get some non-academic things done. Such as:

  • Polish studies.
  • Getting through some of the many books I have on my shelf that I haven’t gotten very far into yet. I’m finally reading Run to Win the Prize by Tom Schreiner, and it’s been really good. I want to read something by Louisa May Alcott, and maybe read through Pride and Prejudice again (I probably say that every break…).
  • Writing more. More poetry, more progress on my novel (it may never get published, we’ll see), more blog posts, more journaling.
  • Lettering, and learning from the pros on how to do it better.
  • Opening the Etsy shop.

It’ll be good to get some of these done.

Love,

Maddie

But Wait… It Gets Better

Looking back a couple years ago, I was kind of in a difficult season of life. I am so thankful that things are different now than they were then. Back then I was anxious, I was enslaved to fear, filled with doubt, bombarded with lies about who I was… I just wasn’t very free. I was a Christian back then and knew the Gospel, it was just a very difficult season for me.  And I wondered if it would ever end.

Fast forward two years later, to today. I still struggle with doubts sometimes, but my faith has grown and I have learned, and am still learning, to doubt my doubts and CLING to the hope of the Gospel and to God’s Word, which is true and reliable. My fear is mostly gone. He is working in my heart, causing me to seek Him, causing me to desire Him more.  I’m by no means perfect, but God has been so gracious and such a good Father as to help me out of that season and bring me nearer to Himself. He has been giving me a deeper sense of my need for Him, and proving Himself faithful, meeting that need by satisfying me with Himself. I am NOT the same person I was two years ago.

The moral of the story is, if you are in a difficult spot, and if life is absolutely miserable, and you’ve been crying out to God for the millionth time and you STILL don’t seem to have gotten anywhere, don’t give up hope. Take it from yours truly. In the moment when I was in that dark valley, I thought I would never be able to climb up out of it. I thought I would always be troubled in my mind and worry about things that weren’t even true. I didn’t see any change taking place, any hope for things getting better, and it was discouraging. But over time, things most certainly did get better. Since that time–though so gradually it was hard to see the process take place–God has been restoring me, healing me, setting me free, and constantly reminding me of His love for me and His amazing grace shown through the sacrifice of His Son. Keep seeking Him, and He will be faithful to show up.

-Maddie

I sought the LORD, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

(Psalm 34:4-6 ESV)

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

 

#myriadsofblessings – 8/13

The “Thankful” post series (in which I list things I am thankful for) now goes by “#myriadsofblessings” to go better with the blog title.  FYI.  Anyway, here are some blessings I am currently grateful for:

  • Deep conversations with good friends.
  • Being home.
  • Frozen berries. (Just eating them out of the bag is one of the best things ever… if you don’t mind your thumb and index finger turning purplish-red in the process.)
  • Windows that open.
  • Forgiveness in Jesus.
  • People I can be completely honest and open with.
  • Spontaneous adventures with friends.
  • Mangoes.
  • Brown rice pasta.
  • Babies.
  • Knowing (and actually believing) that God is in control of all things.
  • The fact that I get to go to my home church tomorrow. YESSS.
  • The sound of crickets at night.
  • Scented candles.
  • God’s Word, in English. What grace.
  • Color.
  • Eyesight.  Yesterday I imagined what it would be like living without sight, and how hard it would be.  So many people do.  I’m thankful that for now, I have working eyes (albeit nearsighted ones that need glasses).

What are you thankful for?

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

 

Thankful. 5/31

These days I’m thankful for:

  • God’s grace in dealing patiently and mercifully with me when I’m being a brat, and in helping me to see things more like the way he sees them.
  • Mint iced tea.
  • Gluten free pasta – a luxury.
  • Freedom from certain legalistic boundaries.  Legalism is the worst.  The earth is the LORD’s, and all that it contains, and when someone uses a thing God created, not from faith, that doesn’t make that created thing evil.  The evil thing is actually our sinful hearts.  It would be like saying, “So many people misuse food, being gluttonous.  Therefore, food must be evil.”  NO!  That is faulty logic!  The food itself is not the problem; the problem is the heart of man, who twists and misuses creation in a way the God did not design creation to be used.  Although hardly anyone would believe this (in that we need food to survive), many legalistic arguments follow this same logic, I’ve noticed.  We all need to realize (including myself) that all things are created by God, and he has created them to be enjoyed, rightly.  Alcohol is a good thing, but in enjoying it, don’t lose your self-control or ability to discern “should I say/do this, or not?”.  Food is good, but don’t be a glutton.  Friendship, music, writing, etc., are good things, but they can be used for good, or for evil.  When they are used for evil, that doesn’t make those things “off-limits” (i.e. “Dancing is bad, because sometimes people can do suggestive things while doing it.”  No, dancing is not the issue, the suggestive actions are the issue.  One can dance in a way that glorifies God).  The things that God created can be used for good (bringing glory to him), or for evil (using them not in the way he intended them to be used).
  • Life.  Yes, I am so thankful for life in general.  It’s awesome.  I mean, of course, there are those days when everything goes wrong and the day couldn’t be short enough, but there are also those days when it’s sunny out, and I get to go on adventures with my friends, and hilarious things happen, and good conversations are had, etc., etc.  Life is just beautiful.
  • Technology.  Seriously, it makes life SO much easier.
  • Words.
  • Friendship.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Salads.  They’re SO good.  Last week I made this salad (twice) out of baby kale (chopped up roughly), chicken, cherry tomatoes (halved, so they don’t explode in your mouth), avocado, and then olive oil and lemon juice for dressing.  AHHH.
  • Long, deep conversations.
  • Fresh berries.
  • Avocados.
  • A fan, when it’s super hot and the house doesn’t have A/C.

Life – 05/23

Hey everyone!  How are you all?  I am doing pretty well.  So far, this summer has been quite structure-less and full of socializing.  It’s been really nice.

Last Wednesday I went swing dancing.  The event was held at a really nice park pavilion overlooking a lake.  I went with my friend, and we had a ton of fun.  I danced three times.  Dances are great, because when you aren’t dancing at the moment, you can people-watch.  There’s always that one girl there who’s wearing an absolutely crazy outfit, and that one guy who is determined to find himself a girlfriend by the end of the evening.  Also, watching people dance who know what they’re doing is quite pleasurable.

Yesterday my friends and I had a cookout at a park by a lake (a different park by a lake).  It was really nice – the weather was perfect.  A little ways off, there was a hispanic family probably having a family reunion or something – the occasion was probably pretty important, because there was literally a mariachi band playing for it.  That was pretty awesome.  After a couple hours, one of my friends and I went for a little walk, which was fun.  During which, I happened to look down at my feet at one point, and I found a little inchworm crawling on one of my Toms.  Ah yes, I had forgotten that this is the time of year where there are caterpillars, of which I have a quasi-phobia.  So I flicked it off.  At least it was tiny, and not one of those big, fat ones with extravagant designs on them.  I mean, they’re pretty amazing creatures that point to an amazing God – but they make me shudder.  By the time we walked back to our picnic spot, it was getting dark, and we parted ways.

When I haven’t been hanging with other people, I’ve been…

  • reading.
  • working on my novel a little bit.  I’ve got a few ideas in my head about how this storyline is going to go, and I’m excited.
  • brushing up on Polish.  I’ve been using Duolingo and Busuu for that.  They aren’t Rosetta Stone, but that’s okay; they have some handy features that Rosetta Stone does not.  On Busuu, for example, people who speak Polish can correct my Polish exercises (in which I have to write sentences using the limited vocabulary I have learned), and I and other English speakers can correct people’s English exercises.  It’s pretty great.
  • hand-lettering, of course.
  • painting, for the first time in a while!  I painted one of my favorite quotes on a canvas:

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Later!

-Madeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed By Grace

About an hour ago I was sitting on my bed, reading a Psalm, when BAM.  I was awestruck by the depth of God’s love for me.  I grabbed my journal and scribbled away my thoughts about this amazing reality.  In the midst of this season full of battling against guilt-trips over my sinfulness and trying to hang on to the truth of the Gospel, God gave me a breath of fresh air.  He helped me to see more clearly.  And so here’s what I wrote (slightly edited):

God loves me.  The Almighty Maker of the universe LOVES me.

O my soul, let that beautiful truth sink in; believe it.

This God, powerful beyond comprehension, loves even me, a sinner who has offended Him, rejected Him, and ran after other lovers (comfort, material things, the praises of man, etc.) innumerable times.

And in this way God loved me, that He sent His perfect, sinless Son to be beaten, whipped, spit upon, mocked, “marred beyond human semblance”, and, worst and most terrifying of all, all God’s wrath was poured out on Him.  The very wrath that God had for me was placed on His own Son instead.

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  And He died.  Jesus gave His life so that I could live and be set free from my sins.  “He left His Father’s throne above” so that I might be free to approach that very throne, without condemnation, welcomed as His child.

But this freedom would not have existed if He had stayed dead.  He rose again.  Death could not hold him.  He laid it down of His own accord, and He had the authority to take it up again, and take it up He did.

“Then bursting forth, in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again.”

And in coming back to life, He defeated sin, He defeated death, He defeated darkness.  Because of His work, my chains are broken.  I now belong to Him.  I am adopted into God’s family, God as my Father, Jesus as my Elder Brother.  I have an inheritance that is kept in heaven for me.

And God, my Father, delights in me, rejoices over me, and calls me His child.  I am His, and He is mine.

LORD, what is life.  You are so good.  You overwhelm me with Your grace, Your abundant grace.