Thanksgiving Break, etc.

As of yesterday afternoon, I am on thanksgiving break! It feels so good to be able to relax a bit. To be honest, I slept in today and took lots of little naps (I am SO overtired… I’m trying to slowly “pay back” my “sleep debt”, haha). It will be good to have this break. I’ve had time to do fun things, such as leisurely scrolling through Pinterest, or reading for pleasure, and it has been so nice.

By the way, while I am on the topic of reading, the other day I was wondering what I should do with my spare time, when I’m not in the Word, or socializing, or being with my family, or doing necessary life things such as cooking, doing my hair, cleaning, etc., … and then I remembered that there are these things called BOOKS. And they are a different kind of book than the ones I’ve been required to read for the past three years (Aristotle, DesCartes’ Meditations, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, Rousseau… not to complain, of course—I’m glad to have read these—but they’re not exactly FUN haha). I remembered that there are fun books, the type that makes one feel shivers of delight over the beauty of how the author using words, captured a human emotion just perfectly. I realized I have almost all of the L.M. Montgomery’s Anne series to finish, as well as a few books by Louisa May Alcott, and hey, when in doubt, I can always re-read Pride & Prejudice… and so I’ve started getting into reading for pleasure again. I am so happy, haha. I just finished Anne of Avonlea last night… oh, I love the Anne series so much. It’s so wonderful. Montgomery is such so observant, in the way she gives everyone such a unique and interesting personality, and she just knows the human mind and heart very well. She captures the beauty of friendship, and the difficulty of growing up and everything changing, and things like that so well. I just started the third book, Anne of the Island, but haven’t gotten very far into it yet.

Yesterday in class we explored texture by making rubbings of different surfaces… and blowing ink bubbles. It was so cool! We used this dishsoap/water mixture, poured some water-based ink into it, and used those little black coffee straws to blow bubbles onto paper and make cool little designs. How artsy. (No ink was accidentally consumed, don’t you worry.) We used this glossy type of paper (like the type most magazines use, but a little more dense), which didn’t fully absorb the ink, but kept it mostly to the surface of the paper. The results were pretty rad:

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So fun! That first one is currently the background on my phone.

On a serious note now—I was marveling today… you know what’s absolutely wonderful? Having a solid hope to lean on no matter the circumstance. I’m talking about the Gospel here. Praise God for the Gospel. Life has been hard sometimes, with illness, and adjusting to a new season, and minor depression, not to mention the fact that I am a sinner, and fail multiple times a day and feel awful… but in all of this, I know one thing that is for sure: I belong to Christ. In Him my sins are forgiven.

“My sin is nailed to the cross

My soul is healed by the scars

The weight of guilt I bear no more

Praise the LORD, praise the LORD!”

– Rend Collective, Nailed to the Cross (this song has kind of been my anthem these days… so good and so full of truth)

And because I don’t bear the guilt of my sin anymore, I know a freedom that stays with me even when life is hard. Though I may not have happiness, I can have Joy. Though at times I may not feel free, I know I am, because the Bible—God’s Word, which is truth—says I am free in Christ. And I can trust God’s word, because God is not a liar. I was reading the first few verses of Romans 5 and thinking about the first part of Ephesians 2 today, and wow. While I was dead in my sins, and didn’t care, and was living like hell, following the enemy, who is at work in the sons of disobedience, doing and embracing DEATH, SIN, everything awful—God, in His great love for me, sent His perfect Son to become the sacrifice for my sin. Christ did this willingly, taking the wrath of the Father that I deserved to bear—on Himself. He died, and my sins died with Him. He rose again, because He has complete power over death, but my sin stayed in the grave. Sin, death, satan, are darkness are now defeated, and Christ reigns! Oh what freedom! I am no longer bound by these things… I am forgiven, set free by the sacrifice of Christ! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” … (Ephesians 2:8-9) This is the hope I have when I can hardly see past my doubts, when I’m feeling sick and don’t know if I will ever find physical healing in this life, when I feel crushed by the weight of my sin. It is finished. (John 19:30) The cry of victory is my anthem, my battle cry. There is still a war to fight, but the outcome has already been decided, and my Captain is the Victor.

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving! That’s exciting. But I try to be thankful every day, so even though it’s great to have a day every year to focus of gratitude, in my book every day should be thanksgiving. (I’m talking about the focus of the holiday, not all the food… then all things pumpkin and cranberry wouldn’t be quite so special!) But in light of tomorrow, and also because I don’t want to write another post tomorrow, I thought I might devote this little paragraph (or more like the list following this little paragraph) to gratitude. So with that, I’m thankful for:

  • (for the millionth time) God’s abundant grace in Christ. What love. What undeserved love. There is nothing better than this.
  • Friends. What blessings.
  • making new friends.
  • family.
  • music that feeds the soul (namely, worship music)
  • the warm, gentle glow of Christmas lights.
  • having a backup device when my laptop decides to go berserk.
  • days when I feel well and joyful.
  • the human ability to tell stories. And how that ability is a gift from God, and… He is the Author of a Story. Whoa.
  • the ability to create. Also a gift from God. Similarly, God is the Creator of the universe. *mind blown every time I think of this*
  • God’s Word, and the freedom to own it.
  • breaks during the semester.
  • being able to study what I’m wired to do. (Theology is great. Love it. I don’t feel called to be a theologian. Design, however… aw yeah.)
  • sleep. (I wish I got more of it.)
  • poetry. Writing it, and reading it.
  • getting a hug from a friend when I’m having a hard day.
  • Sunlight.
  • One-on-one time with people I love.
  • smoothies.
  • the foods I can eat.
  • adventures.
  • good memories.
  • heartwarming books.

What are you thankful for? How are you spending Thanksgiving? How are you students spending Thanksgiving break? Any good book recommendations?

Later,

— M

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Life. 11/14

Hey everyone! I haven’t had a ton of time to blog lately. Currently working on a post, but I need to edit it some before I post it. How are you all? In a nutshell, life is alright. God is good. Some days have been absolutely wonderful, some days have been unbearably hard. Some days my faith has been strong, and some days I’ve struggled with guilt and unbelief, but I have been learning that my feelings and truth are not always the same thing (more on that later)—that I can choose to believe God’s word, although today I may not feel the truthfulness of the truth. (But I do want to feel that truth is truth while I believe it, of course.) I’ve been learning to preach the gospel to myself daily, to seek the LORD, to focus on Him, to enjoy Him and the good things He has given me, to be in fellowship with dear friends who love the LORD (for I have seen that it is sometimes through the words and kindness of other believers that He shows us truths that we need to hear—this happened last sunday when I was with a dear friend of mine…praise God for friends that point you to Christ when you are doubting!). Anyway. Other than that, in school I’m learning HTML and CSS in order to create a website, and designing a newspaper layout, and just this morning I gave a 3-minute presentation (for which I pulled an all-nighter in trying to prepare for it) on a painting by Albert Bierstadt. Life is good, sometimes it’s hard, but that’s life, and I have a sure foundation in Christ and in the work He has done. Overall, I am very blessed.

#MyriadsofBlessings:

  • squash (I love squash!)
  • a little bit of snow
  • thick hand cream for when my hands get dry (winter, though… it’s rough)
  • being able to spend time with a friend this past sunday! So nice.
  • being able to talk to a friend yesterday that I hadn’t talked with for over a year!
  • God’s faithfulness and sustaining grace.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Orange juice/cranberry juice when I have a cold.
  • ginger tea.
  • thick sweaters
  • comfy clothes
  • wool socks
  • smoothies
  • salmon
  • sweet potatoes
  • the Gospel.
  • This song. I’ve been listening to it so much lately. Its so packed with truth and it’s just so beautiful, and I discovered it right when I needed it. Plus it’s Rend Collective, so…

“When I stand accused by my regrets

And the devil roars his empty threats

I will preach the gospel to myself

That I am not a man condemned

For Jesus Christ is my defense”

-Rend Collective, Nailed to the Cross

There’s my super quick update on life. How are you doing?

Later,

M

Inexpressible Joy at 1:00 AM

Rain falls outside the window of my new bedroom, complementing the silence of the night. I am restless, I can’t sleep. But this is a good kind of restless. Though my body can’t fall asleep, my soul is so perfectly at peace. I’ve been praying and have been absolutely IN AWE of how beautiful God is. These past few days have been so joy-filled, and the LORD has really blessed me in so many ways, that looking back on this past weekend and today, I am amazed at this God that I serve and that I get to call my Father. I am so overwhelmed by His goodness, and I must recount some of the many, many things He has shown me and that He has done or given me these past few days:

  • A new home in a new town. It’s quieter. It’s safer. It’s more peaceful. I go to sleep and hear crickets, not people yelling at each other. I wake up and hear birds twittering peacefully, as I look out the window and see the golden glow of the morning sunlight. After years of not feeling very safe, I now can rest.
  • Friendship, fellowship, and community. The other day I was able to hang out with a dear friend of mine. We bought art supplies at a craft store and then painted together, while listening to worship music and talking about what God has been doing in our lives. The next day I got to attend my small group for the first time in forever (I had been out of town over the summer) and spend time in prayer with the people in my group, and then discuss Revelation 1 and what it says about Christ. Then yesterday I was able to meet a friend in person who I had met online, and spend some time with her and her family after church. Fellowship and community are such beautiful things. I am so, so blessed.
  • I have seen the power and reality of the gospel more clearly these past few days. That though there is so much darkness in this world, Christ is stronger. So much stronger. That since I am in Christ, no weapon formed against me shall prosper. That persistence in faith in the promises of God makes the enemy flee. That Jesus is victorious and that all authority has been given to Him. I have seen struggles with fear and with sin, I have seen heavy battles over the course of my life, and I have seen God’s grace in giving me firm faith and His peace even in the midst of those battles, and persistence to keep on looking to Christ… until at last satan gives up even trying to discourage me and all I know is God’s peace. I have also seen other people’s lives completely changed—I have seen one girl, who had once been in spiritual bondage and recently was set free, get baptized yesterday. I was weeping tears of joy—people, the gospel changes lives! Jesus Christ changes lives, and the powers of hell cannot stand a chance against Him! The reality of the gospel has been so real to me these past couple days—Christ has conquered my sin, the fullness of it, and I bear it no more! In Him I am a child of God, free from condemnation and counted righteous, although I had deserved the complete opposite. Friends, trust in Jesus Christ! In Him is real, lasting Peace (the peace I feel so much right now); in Him is inexpressible and overflowing Joy! In Him is fulfillment and satisfaction and contentment! He is everything I need!
  • It’s so good to be back at my home church again. Today my former youth pastor visited our church and preached, and it was one of the best sermons I have heard.
  • And then right now, as I was lying here in bed, I was just thinking about God’s goodness to me, about all that He has done for me, and of what Jesus went through for me, because He loves me, and was overcome by the fact that He is very real (which I always have known and believed, but now I could really feel it), and that He loves me… and, more than I ever have probably felt before, I longed to just be in heaven with Him—worshiping Him, learning from Him, seeing the wounds in His hands with my own eyes—the wounds that He took for MY sake—I cannot wait for that day when I will be with Him forever.

The LORD is so good.

 

One thing have I asked of the LORD,

that will I seek after:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD

and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4, ESV

 

Life. — 07/14

I’ve been wanting to do a life-update post for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to it until now. So, here it is, finally!

Life these days has been good… lots of rest, which my tired body needs to heal. Lots of time outside in the country, away from the city for a while. (I love the city, but sometimes you just need to get away into nature a bit and get a change of pace.) Lots of sun (I’m starting to get a tan.) Lots of time in my hammock. Lots of time alone… sometimes it’s nice, but I’ve recently been seeing the need to be intentional about being with people more—being alone for long periods of time is never a good thing. A couple of walks, during which I would enjoy the trees, the flowers, the grassy plains, the clouds, the butterflies that would leave me when I would try to get near enough to get a picture of them…

Other than all of this, I’ve been doing a cleaning job on the weekends. It’s been a pretty okay job… it’s great when you have music to listen to. Last week I was cleaning a shower, and my arm accidentally bumped the faucet handle, and it sprayed water all over me. Thankfully I had enough time for it to mostly evaporate before people would see me all wet. Haha.

I’ve recently discovered this song, and it’s literally been on repeat until I started to grow tired of it. I think it’s pretty fun:

These days I’ve been feeling rather distracted, as I talked about a couple of posts ago. I want to wholeheartedly seek the LORD, but I so often get sidetracked, trying to find satisfaction in other things. Not that these other things are bad in and of themselves—they are good gifts created by God for us to enjoy—but when I start to put my hope in or base my identity upon these things, that’s idolatry. My constant prayer is that I would love the LORD with my whole heart, soul, and mind, and learn to enjoy His gifts rightly, enjoying Him ultimately. God is the Source of all good, truth and beauty; therefore, I should find my refreshment from the Source, not the stale, stagnant pool to which it leads. (That may be a cliché analogy, but it totally makes sense to me, so I’ll use it.) Ad Fontes! (Latin: “To the fount!”)

This gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, egg-free, happiness-free (just kidding… sort of) diet has been good, kind of hard, and very helpful. Although I REALLY miss cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter, cutting out dairy was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel a lot better. I’ve been trying to eat things that don’t ferment very much in the gut (I have this list of foods that do and don’t), so yes, my diet is rather limited. However, I’m doing this so I can heal. Once my gut has healed well enough, I can start re-introducing things like brown rice and sweet potatoes (I am REALLY looking forward to that day).

What have you been up to these days?

-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

My Hope & Stay.

One moment it seems like everything is alright, and the next moment I feel like the ground beneath me is crumbling. This Horner’s Syndrome is relentless—my mind is so overworked from all the hard work it must do to control the left side of my body and make it perform somewhat normally. This silent, involuntary task that my brain does—trying to keep the left side as coordinated with the right as it can—leaves my body and mind often fatigued, and makes it hard to think, hard to concentrate, hard to feel emotion sometimes. Because my mind is working so hard to do necessary things, it leaves little energy to do “less necessary” things, like thinking deeply, feelingly, critically. I still can do all of these things, but it takes a lot of energy and wipes me out. Living with Celiac has also been rough. I’ve avoided all grains for 3 months now, because they were making me sick, but now it seems like whatever I eat is making me sick. School is stressing me out, and I feel like the combination of this and health issues are together slowly doing me in. I’ve lost half of the amount of my hair… Yes. Half. I used to have a very thick head of hair. Not anymore. Thankfully, what has been lost came out evenly, so I’m not bald, and no one can tell I’ve lost any—except myself. And it concerns me. Finally, Depression has been hard to bear. I know that Celiac and Horner’s, stress, and certain life situations, are the main causes of this. I feel sad. I feel alone—alone in my struggles, alone in general, even though I have supportive friends and family who are encouraging through all of this. But I have learned time and again people can only do so much; though they can be a consolation and very encouraging, they don’t have the power to make things alright—only God can do that. Some days I’m overly weepy, and other days I feel completely apathetic and wonder what’s wrong with me.

But as hard as things are, I do not write this from an attitude of hopelessness. Yes, this is my life right now, and I will say it like it is—no use pretending things are differently. There are days when I feel like there is no hope left, and I cannot describe the horror of this feeling. But I know that this feeling is not the truth, and I tell myself this nearly every day:

There is hope. 

Though I FEEL like my strength is failing, like I will never see the sun, that I will lose my mind from all of this stress; though every day I see my physical weaknesses and face the fact that I am dust and to dust I shall return—I KNOW that I have this sure, unwavering hope:

A faithful, loving God Whose love for me is steadfast and unchanging. 

He loves me. He is for me. In Christ, I am adopted into His family. I am His daughter. He will never leave me. He forgives my sins and gives me grace to pursue Him, even now. He hears my prayers, even when my finite brain erroneously thinks He can’t hear me sometimes. And He is working everything for my good, to make me more like Christ. And He will carry me through it all. He will give me grace to endure, to stand firm, to not fall away under the pressure of it all. Seriously, when I look back at all I’ve been through so far, I realize what a miracle I am and how faithful and loving my Heavenly Father is.

So I will bear my struggles in faith, knowing that my struggles are not the end of the story. I won’t bottle up my emotions, or pretend that everything is just fine—I will be honest, because suffering is life, and it must be dealt with. To not deal with it would be unhealthy. But I will deal with it from faith, knowing that in all of this, God is in control. He is sovereign over my life. Let Your will be done, LORD. You know what is best for me. You are working these things in my life for Your glory and for my sanctification. Just, please, give me the strength to endure, as You have all these years before now. I believe You. Help my unbelief.

When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

 

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For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,

for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:5-8, ESV

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

Winter Break, A New Semester, Sonnets, etc.

Hey everyone! My winter break is finally over. It was pretty wonderful, part of the time. A lot of the time it was kinda lonely and uneventful, but other times I was able to get together with good friends and have fun. I went out for a lunch with a friend and we caught up on life and had great conversations. I went bowling twice. I got together with friends, and we played games, talked, laughed and just enjoyed spending time together. By myself, I spent time in the Word, journaled a lot, did a lot of calligraphy, had dance parties all by myself, and I also was able to read a little bit… I picked up some of the books on my shelf that collect dust and never are read, and at least started a few of them. (At one point I read over 1,000 pages over a period of about 4 days, hardly stopping except to eat and sleep… but that, my friends, is a story for another time. I’m glad to be finished with that week… it was pretty hectic, but totally worthwhile and rewarding.)

A new semester has started, and I am so happy to be back! We had our first lesson today, as well as our first chapel session of the semester. Those wednesday chapel sessions are one of the highlights of my week. It’s so refreshing to be able to get together in the middle of a busy, sometimes stressful day and just worship the LORD together as a student body and be encouraged from God’s Word.  Also, this is pretty cool… for our first assignment, we each have to write a sonnet (after either the method of Petrarch or Shakespeare). The assignment is due friday, but it very well may be turned in today (I was eager to start working on it right away). Maybe after I turn it in I’ll post it on the blog. We’ll see. I’m quite happy with how it turned out. If only more assignments were poetry assignments!

Later!

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

Life – 10/22

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

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend!

-Maddie

 

 

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

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 6.26.03 PM
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?