I currently have these vases of peonies and carnations on my desk, and they are just so pretty and smell so good. I wish that flowers lasted forever… they’re starting to fade now. A few days ago when they were new, I took some pictures of them (some were taken with my Ōlloclip).
God is just seriously so creative.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Hey everyone! My lettering business now has a name: MH Lettering, and now has a website and is on social media. Still no Etsy shop yet, but until then, I’ve put my work out there in order to gain some publicity.
Summer has been going pretty well so far. So far I’m still in something like the “newlywed stage” of summer, where all is sunshine and daisies – I have a bunch of free time, and I can do all the things I want to do – and the harder parts of summer haven’t kicked in yet. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, and enjoy the “sunshine and daisies” for now. =)
Speaking of sunshine, today I got to meet with one of my good friends, whom I haven’t seen since I was 17, and we took a walk around one of the lakes and caught up on each other’s lives. It was great; the weather was beautiful, so sunny, and it was nice to get some exercise. I’m so glad I finally got to meet up with her; we had been talking about it for a while, and now we finally did it. =) After that, I went home (with a nice little bruise on my cheek from whacking her car door on my face by accident when she dropped me off at home, and I was shutting her door), did some online shopping for shoes (I’ve been needing something comfortable for my feet; most of my shoes are those super poor-quality ones you’ll find at those trendy stores at the mall… they make my feet feel awful after a couple of hours), finally ordered a pair of Toms, had lunch, and took a nap. I woke up, read my Bible (I’m currently going through Hebrews, partially because I’ve been wanting to read Tom Schreiner’s Run To Win The Prize, which was recommended to us at school during the class on Hebrews. I thought maybe I should refresh my mind on Hebrews if I’m going to read it), and made supper (warmed up some curry lentil soup that my mom had made. Thanks Mom). So yeah. Summer is going pretty swimmingly, I’d say.
Today as we were walking, my friend asked me if I had a summer bucket list. I said I didn’t really, but later I thought that that was a good idea. I need to make some goals for myself to accomplish this summer (when I’m not working). So with that, here are my summer goals:
- Get somewhere in the novel I started. That’s right, folks, I started writing a novel (or a mini-novel, we’ll see what I have the patience for, and if I can come up with a good enough plot). There is no guarantee I’ll finish it, but one day the basic idea of a storyline was formed in my head, and I wanted to make it a thing. I won’t say much about the plot, except that there are the themes of fear, struggling with depression, lies, and then finding freedom and joy, and learning to care for and invest in others even when going through difficulties yourself. These themes all take place in the life of a 20-year old girl named Sparrow Dellinger. That’s all I’m going to say about it.
- Read. A lot. I always have aspirations to read over the summer, but it doesn’t usually happen. This summer, I hope, will be different. Maybe I can actually finish one of the many books I’ve only gotten one chapter into. I want to read books of heavy theology, as well as some good fiction (if you guys have any fiction recommendations, please let me know. Until then, Pride and Prejudice, round two. Or maybe some Louisa May Alcott).
- Spend as much time outside as I can, and store up Vitamin D for the winter. (That won’t be hard.) Get really tan. (That will be hard.)
- Blog often (only if I have things to write about).
- Be intentional about investing in the lives of others.
- Saturate myself in the Word.
- Keep up with my Greek skills. I should make a habit of reading that old interlinear Greek New Testament I have. I don’t want a year of hard work to go to waste.
What are your plans for this summer?
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:
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.
- Hot chocolate.
- Hugs – long ones.
- Happy memories.
- Water when you’re in desperate need of it.
- Fall colors.
- Corporate worship.
- The book of Romans.
- Reading for pleasure.
- 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.
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.
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:
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.
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. =)
Well, folks, it’s been a busy last couple of weeks, as the school year is coming to a close. Yesterday we had our very last class (and our final Fancy Friday as freshmen! How many F’s can you fit into one sentence?). It was a bittersweet day… it was our last class with one of our professors, who will be teaching the new freshmen next semester while we move on up to sophomore status. I’m going to miss his humor and the “skip around the room”s he had us all do on our birthdays. He’s great.
Finals Week is next week. Woo-hoo. I’m actually pretty excited; I do find it fun to study for finals. Especially if you study for it in a group setting; that makes it all the more enjoyable. Last year 5 of us (I, my roommates and two friends) spent the whole day before an exam in our apartment, making a timeline of ancient historical characters, making those virtual flashcard sets on Quizlet, and doing whatever it took to stay awake, focused and sane – techno music, consuming much caffeine, wrestling matches (among the guys), pushups, me sitting in weird positions on the couch (upside down)… It was a late, crazy, fun, semi-productive day. (This time around, I intend to be way more productive though.) :)
These past couple weeks we’ve been studying the writings of the apostolic fathers, learning about Constantine and how his “conversion” (I’m still not sure whether he did it for anything more than political purposes) affected Christianity and the Roman Empire. Very interesting stuff.
The weather has been beautiful lately. Whether sunny or rainy, I’ve been loving it all. Variety is a good thing.
Current music favorites: Benny Goodman. Ben Howard. Jason Gray. Jon Hopkins. Royal Tailor. And of course, good ol’ Rend Collective.
These days God has been teaching me to be to look to Him for strength (these finals, man!), and has been convicting me these days of pride/vanity. So often I tend to think so narcissistically sometimes, caring about what I look like, what people think of me, whether or not they like me or appreciate who I am or what I do… and then I catch myself, realizing how stupid and selfish it all is to be so narcissistic. Oh, LORD, forgive me! I’m doing my best to turn my mind away from myself, and turn it to ways I can serve the LORD in caring for others (Phil 2:4), whether they be my brothers and sisters in Christ, my family, or the strangers I run into when I’m out and about. I want to imitate Christ in the way I live, becoming a servant to others.
I’m thinking a lot about summer these days. In a week we’ll be done with all academics. No more papers, no more deadlines, no more 300-some pages a week (which will be nice!), no more school-related stress. However, while a vacation from these things will be nice (and much needed), it’ll be kind of sad as well. I do love having the blessing of being able to learn what I’m learning at such a stellar college. I’ve learned so much, and I am so grateful for it all. Along with this, I will miss everyone terribly. My classmates have been such a blessing to me. We’ve grown pretty tight over this past year. These people have encouraged me, helped me grow in my faith, made me laugh (A LOT)… Awww. I love them so much. Thankfully, if the LORD wills, we will all be reunited come fall. There are things, however, that I am looking forward to doing this summer. I’m looking forward to doing some reading. Leisurely reading. And a lot of it. I don’t want my mind to turn to mush over these next three months. Right now on my book list I have Things of Earth by Joe Rigney, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D.Wilson, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, Salvation Belongs to the LORD by John M. Frame, and Augustine’s Confessions. And of course, the Bible. I also hope to blog more often: poetry, short stories, photos, bits of life and what God has been teaching me; also I hope to write on theological things, using writing to grow in the knowledge of this amazing God that I get to call my Father. I hope to draw more. Way more. I hope to spend lots of time outside, enjoying the sun and getting some much-needed Vitamin D. I hope to take lots of pictures and do a lot of baking. I’m looking forward to doing everything I’ve longed to do, but couldn’t for lack of time. I’m looking forward to a pretty awesome summer job, and being able to spend time with friends whom I have not seen in forever. I’m looking forward to those occasional quiet evenings sitting alone on the dock, watching the sun set over the lake, hearing the waves lap against the shore. I’m looking forward to serving others. This summer job I’ll be having will be a whole lot of that, and it will be an awesome experience. I cannot wait. LORD, what do you have for me this summer?
We are so close to the end of the semester, it’s crazy! Trying to finish strong. Studies are very interesting. We’re studying early church history and reading through the Epistles. Yesterday I read the entire book of Hebrews. Such a good book; probably one of my favorites in the Bible. God has been teaching me a LOT lately. We’ve been wrestling with a lot of topics: doctrines, salvation, sin/grace… all sorts of things. A few days ago we had a class on the five points of Calvinism, and it was very intriguing, though I didn’t fully understand everything. Also we’ve been memorizing Romans 8, and we’ve gotten as far as verse 27. Romans 8 is the bomb. So glad that we’re memorizing it this semester. Seriously, I just LOVE going to school here – every day I come away learning something new and amazing about this God I serve. He is wonderful.
Also, God is currently teaching me to give myself grace when I fail, as He gave me grace through His Son. I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to my actions, and sometimes feel guilty for even the smallest mistakes I make. Guilt is definitely something I struggle with, even with things I have already taken to the LORD, and I need to keep reminding myself that these feelings of guilt are not from God, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)” – Christ has forgiven me for everything wrong I have done, large or small. Through Him, my slate is clean; I am justified! I’m thankful that God has given me a hatred for sin, but reminding myself daily of His grace to us in Christ. Wow. What love, that Christ would take my penalty for sin upon Himself, and give me His righteousness instead! He is so good.
And He is SO faithful, even in the hard days. These days have been a little tough, to be honest; it’s kind of a fight for joy, with the workload and the sleep-deprivation, learning to every thought captive in obedience to Christ, and just the weaknesses that I’m not proud of (introspection, poor time-management, etc.). But I’m learning to see these days as gifts; they remind me how utterly dependent I am on God for everything: life, breath, provision, faith, joy, etc. If life were totally perfect, I wouldn’t see my need for Him, and that would be awful. And through these trials, whether they be a massive paper I’m supposed to write, or the temptation to worry or doubt or complain about something, God is teaching me to look to Him for strength in these circumstances, and then supplying that strength abundantly. His grace is totally sufficient.
These past couple weeks my friends and I have been enjoying going on little excursions around the city, taking pictures, playing games, going out for coffee, etc. I’m so thankful to have such brothers and sisters as classmates. I’ve been so blessed by the times we’ve spent, the laughs we’ve had, the jam sessions and game nights, the deep conversations about life, theology, Nichomachean Ethics, how to pronounce certain words, etc. They’re amazing. :)
Enjoying my new glasses and being able to see clearly again! The first class I attended after getting them, I squirmed with delight at the fact that I could actually SEE what my professor was writing on the board, and could sit in the back of the class if I wanted! (I still enjoy sitting up front though.) :) I wrote a cheesy little poem the day after getting my glasses:
O former glasses dead and gone,
We’re through (not sorry!); moving on
Not only ‘cause of your decease,
But time to start fresh, if you please.
Since you, I’ve found a better pair
That makes my face look twice as fair.
I chose you when I was thirteen,
My fashion sense was different then.
Now, I’m not saying you looked bad,
But getting new ones makes me glad.
For one can tire of red and blue
rectangular frames; let’s start anew.
So during my final teenage year
I left you for a more hipster
Type with slightly bigger frames
(Don’t worry, they don’t take o’er my face);
Brown; the tortoise kind. Sold!
Something fun but not TOO bold.
And so it happens, I confess,
That I couldn’t miss you less!
And so I hope that you don’t mind.
Thanks to the new ones, I’m no longer blind.
Haha :) Have a good week!
After a rather hectic week, with a mid-term exam and an extended paper, spring break has finally arrived! I am so overjoyed. I keep having this thought “I have things to work on” and then remember “Wait! I don’t!” What relief! :) It’ll be so nice to have a whole week to just unwind and rejuvenate. I’m planning to do some pleasure-reading (i.e. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis and The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney), write (during regular school days I never have the time to let my thoughts flow on paper as much as I’d like), draw, sleep, spend time with friends and get in the Word more. This will be fantastic.
I am LOVING spring. It’s so good for the soul! The warm and sunny days, the fresh air, hearing the birds, being able to use my porch again, the ability to not have to wear a coat and don shorts and sandals/flip flops… ah.
In class we are doing New Testament Survey and Theology, which I am enjoying very much. We recently read through and compared the content, the literary styles, and the backgrounds of the four gospels, then read Acts, and now we are studying the Epistles Just yesterday I finished a big paper on the Kingdom of God. It was interesting to write, and made me look forward to Christ’s return and the coming of His Kingdom.
I’ve started making handmade cards. I had my very first client about a month ago, who wanted me to draw a portrait of Audrey Hepburn, so I did. I’m working on opening an Etsy shop soon and sell cards and art prints; however, those probably will be high-quality printed versions of original drawings. I don’t have time or energy to hand-draw every single product. I’m a busy woman. :)
A couple weeks ago our school did a dodgeball tournament. It was pretty awesome. There were some pretty hilarious team names, such as “the Darth Graders” (professors and faculty, who showed up in Darth Vader costumes), “The Beach Bums” (my team, who wore shorts, tees, bro tanks… summery clothing) and “The Church Dodge-matics” (which is so delightfully nerdy). However, towards the end of the tournament, I got hit hard in the face by a ball, hurting the top of my nose, and… breaking my glasses. Oh no. So for the past couple weeks, I’ve been living in a slightly blurry world, unable to read words from a distance (especially on the whiteboard in class) or people’s facial expressions from far away. It’s pretty sad, but I’m learning to live with it. The night after it happened, I wrote an ode to my glasses:
O Glasses! Dear you were to me,
For you enabled me to see.
But now you’re dead and gone, and so
Blurred vision once again I know.
A couple days later, I borrowed these obnoxious fake hipster glasses from my sister, and wore them to class the next couple of days to see what people would say. I got some surprising “cute glasses!” compliments, a “Those are actually growing on me! You look cute in them!”, and a perplexed “…how do you like your new glasses, Madeline?” (to which I replied, “They’re fake.” To which my friend replied, “Are you sure?“) Haha! :D Thankfully, I just got some new ones (which are pretty funky and hipster, though not in an excessive way) a couple days ago, and God willing, they will be coming soon! It’ll be nice to have clear vision again. :)
This quote is one of my favorite quotes ever, and it’s played a pretty significant role in my life. It’s been on my mind these past couple months. God has been helping me improve in taking thoughts captive, recognizing untrue or sinful thoughts when they come, and replacing them with what is true and worthy of my thoughts. He’s teaching me to set my mind “on things above, and not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2)”; to focus on Christ and make Him the center of my mind and affections.
Winter Break is coming to a close. Overall, it was really good. I spent precious time with my family. I got to sleep in most days (a luxury!), make smoothies whenever I wanted (I don’t own a blender, but my mom does), and draw, take pictures, write and do exegesis (in layman’s terms, study the Bible) to my heart’s content. Then the past couple days were spent with the freshmen that are currently in the area: going out to eat, playing hilarious games like Quelf and “Dreams”, and having conversations about things like Calvinism versus Arminianism (typical of Bible college students… but really, theological conversations are the best). Good times! Anyway, I feel well rested and ready to start a new semester. I’m currently in the process of packing up and moving my stuff back to my dorm. I’m also reading for our first lesson this Wednesday, about the Greeks, Romans and Persians during 400-300 BC (i.e. Alexander the Great, Xerxes, the Peloponnesian Wars, the rising and falling of Rome, etc). Very interesting. I’m very excited about this semester. We’ll be studying Greek philosophy, literature, culture and mythology, and go through the New Testament. I. AM. PUMPED. Beyond words. =) I’m especially looking forward to going through the Epistles. Paul, John and Peter’s letters are FANTASTIC.
It’ll be good to be back home again, living with my roommates again, cooking my own food, having friends over, and sleeping in my own bed, in “the batcave” (my loft/closet, which needs a better name, haha). =)
These past few weeks, this is what God has been teaching me:
– Words can tear down, or they can build up. Be careful how you use them.
– God is gracious, even when I am not. I hate to admit that some days I was tempted to feel easily irritated about things. Then I would stop and think, “Where did this attitude come from? This is not right!”
– “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him” (Psalm 42:11). There are those days when I’m just not feeling the weight of the glory of the Gospel–I believe it, but I feel like it’s more in my head than my heart, and I’m not really seeing it for what it truly is, in depth… and I have to ask God for eyes to see it. Sometimes during those days my natural response is to worry: “Oh no! Does this mean I’m not believing it?” Not always. Somedays it’s harder to see clearly than others, but keep choosing to believe God’s Word; keep persevering! Psalm 42:11 fits this sort of scenario perfectly:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.
“Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.” I love this verse. God knows my heart. He knows that even though I’m not “feeling it” that day, my heart is longing to be in that fellowship with Him. And soon He will give me eyes to see again–more fully, in more detail–the beauty of the Gospel. So I press on, preaching to myself of the mercy and grace of God through Christ, and keep fixing my mind on the Word, and pretty soon… WOW. I once again realize how beautiful Christ is. And my heart is once again overwhelmed by His sacrificial love.
A couple days ago I treated myself to the luxury of Spotify Premium, so that’s been pretty fun. Current favorites:
Amazing Life – Britt Nicole
This Is My Year (Matoma Remix) – Family Force 5
Energy – Hillsong Young & Free
Tell The World – Eric Hutchinson
Holy Light – Phil Wickham
Trololo Song – Eduard Khil (aka “Mr. Trololo”). Yes, I’m serious… it’s been stuck in my head all week. Though it’s been an internet meme for quite a while, I was completely unaware of its existence until a friend showed it to me a month ago. The song was written by Eduard Khil, titled (in Russian) “I Am Glad, Because I’m Finally Returning Home”, and it’s essentially about a cowboy coming home to his wife. However, according to wikipedia (yes, I research these sorts of things), he never published his lyrics, but decided to sing the tune anyway, I guess. It’s a cool tune, I suppose, but why all the “lololololo”? haha =)
During these past couple weeks…
I swing danced for the first time. A few of the freshmen and sophomores at my college had a dance on Halloween (or Reformation Day, which I observe instead). We swing danced, waltzed, salsa danced, line danced, and there was even this dance off at one point between two of the guys (which was quite amusing). But I’d have to say that the swing dancing was my favorite. I felt very 1940s for a good part of that evening and it was fabulous.
I started drawing again. All because the LORD miraculously shoved a sketchbook into my hands by the means of my roommate. Seriously, God is so good. A week or so ago my roommates and I were having a friend over at our place, and we were talking about art, handlettering, prints and the like, and I happened to mention “I’ve been wanting so much to draw these days, but I don’t have a sketchbook.” To which my roommate immediately responded, “I have a sketchbook! Do you want it?” To which I surprisedly replied, “Seriously?” And our friend was like, “ask and you shall receive!” So God provided a sketchbook for me that day. And from now on, that sketchbook will serve as a reminder that God provides for me, even things I don’t need, even before I ask for them!
I challenged myself to draw every one of my classmates. I’m about a third of the way finished. I posted a picture of the work in progress on our class’s Facebook page, and now it seems like a few people in my class are following the project to some extent. One of them said to me, “Man, I’m excited for this! It’s like watching the progression of a building!” I got an interesting request from another: “Madeline, I want my picture to be something cool, like of me being on a horse, holding a spear… with [another classmate] on the end of it!” How about no… haha :)
I finally did something with those two cans of pumpkin in my cupboard. I made pumpkin custard, and pumpkin french toast. It was the bomb.
I fell in love with three new songs: “Carry You” by The Native Sibling, “This I Know” by Crowder and “Old Pine” by Ben Howard. Search them out, they’re really good (if you like indie-folk music). :)
God has been so good, as always. He’s blessed me in so many ways… by all my amazing friends here, by providing me food right when my fridge was about to go empty, and so many others.
It’s getting colder and windier! So excited for winter, and I hope to see snow soon! Yesterday I wore flip flops for probably the official last time of the year. My feet were like ice. On top of that, it happened to be raining. Rain, cold weather and flip flops = NOT a good combination.
Yup, so that’s what’s up!
Until next time!