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

 

Intense Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Maddie

#myriadsofblessings 06/18

  • Flowers.
  • Grilled vegetables (I’ve forgotten how good things are grilled.)
  • Adventures with friends.
  • Visiting new places.
  • The beach. I got to go to a real beach for the first time since I was 16, and it was wonderful.
  • Finding people who enjoy what I enjoy.
  • Enjoying something with someone else.
  • People who make me laugh.
  • God’s Word.
  • Corporate worship.
  • Drawing.
  • Freedom.
  • Having all the time in the world to get back to doing art again.  #summer
  • God’s faithfulness and mercy.
  • Blueberries.
  • Homemade blueberry lemonade.
  • Cute shoes. (Sounds shallow, but I don’t mean to be)
  • Air-conditioning.
  • Potted succulents. (I’ve always wanted one, and now I finally got one. Let’s if I succeed in not killing it.)
  • The color pink. (To be specific, very pale pink. Almost white. Not bubblegum or neon pink.)
  • Running water.
  • Not feeling nearly as unhealthy as I did about a month ago.
  • Pineapple.
  • Mangoes.
  • Social media to keep in touch with faraway friends.
  • New (pleasant) experiences.

What are some blessings in your life?

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

#myriadsofblessings – 03/12

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

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?

Thankful. 7/10

  • Finishing a good day’s work.
  • Rest.
  • Homemade ice cream.
  • Chocolate chips.
  • Little kids.
  • Looking back at fond memories and feeling all nostalgic.
  • Long phone calls with friends.
  • Laughter.
  • Forgiveness – receiving it, and doing it.
  • God’s grace.
  • Weekend afternoons in the hammock.
  • New pens for handlettering!
  • Rain.

Thankful. 5/31

These days I’m thankful for:

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

Overwhelmed By Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

So often we can look at others’ lives from a distance and see all the good things, and start to become discontented and think that our lives aren’t as cool, or as exciting, or as thrilling as those of our friends.

People used to tell me, “Madeline, you’re so cool!”  “You have the cutest outfits!”  “Can I be you?”  “I want your life!”

When people said these things, I was a little shocked.  Thanks for the compliments and all, but…

…are you sure you want my life?  Are you sure you want to be me?

What makes my life any better than yours?

Maybe you’re looking at the things I have.  Well, all these good things you see in my life are GRACE from God.  I don’t have these things because I deserve them or did anything to be worthy of them; I received them because God has been pleased to give them to me. But what you see is not all there is to my life.  I may focus on the good things when I talk to people or post stuff on social media or this blog, but just like everyone else, I have those days when I feel depressed, or feel defeated in the fight against sin, or when I just feel stuck.  Not to mention the various health issues, or all the little inconveniences that happen in life… etc., etc.  If you think my life looks perfect, let me assure you that it isn’t.  You may have things in your life that you wish weren’t there, but so do I.  While I may talk about some of these things once in a while with someone I trust, or do a very general blog post mentioning them, I don’t often go in detail to everyone about these things.  But just because you rarely hear about these things doesn’t mean they don’t happen to me.

So when you’re reading my blog or hearing me talk about all the good things about my life, or if you happen to notice the outfit I’m wearing and think it’s cute, or if you’re looking at my Instagram feed (which I haven’t updated in so long), or looking at such belonging to anyone else, please don’t let these cause you to be ungrateful for your own life.  I may own cute clothes or things or whatever else, but those do not define my worth as a person.  These things, while they are fun, don’t really improve my life, and will not last or truly matter.  I may post about exciting stuff that is happening in my life, but that’s not ALL that ever happens.  My identity is not found in the things I own or the things I do; it is in Christ – I am a sinner who deserves hell, but has been saved by God’s grace in Christ.  I’m not any better than you.

If your life seems boring to you in contrast with others’ lives, I encourage you to stop and think for a moment about the many ways in which God has blessed you.

Think of the people in your life that you love, the talents God has blessed you with, the hobbies you enjoy doing, the tastes, smells, sounds, etc. that bring you delight.  Look back at your past and see what God has done in your life that has brought you to where you are now.  Think about every little thing that puts a smile on your face.  These are gifts that God has placed in your life.  Enjoy them; be thankful for them.

Theodore Roosevelt has said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  That is so true.  When we compare our lives, our possessions, our wealth, the things that happen to us, etc. with others’, we lose sight of God’s grace in our own lives, and we forget to enjoy living and become miserable.  I’ve made that mistake so many times, and I don’t want to do that again.  And I don’t want you to either.

Let’s not compare ourselves anymore, but let’s be thankful for the lives we’ve been given, and enjoy them.  God has blessed each of us in so many ways.  In seeing the blessings that others have, let’s not be blind to our own.

-Maddie

Enjoying God Through His Gifts

God is just SO GREAT.  Wow.  These past couple days, I’ve been more aware of how awesome he is, and how he uses his creation to point to himself.  In even the little things in life that often I don’t give much thought to, I’ve found reason to praise him.  When I’m singing, not caring what my roommates think, I think, wow, God, thank you for a voice to sing and worship you with!  When I’m eating sauerkraut (yes, you heard me right.  It’s one of the best things ever), I think, WOW, God, you made cabbage and salt and all the science behind lacto-fermentation, and gave people the creativity to make things like sauerkraut!  Wow!  When I’m working on a lettering project, I think, WOW!  God, thank you for mind-hand coordination (or whatever it’s actually called)!  I can see something in my head, and transfer that image from my mind into reality (on paper) by means of my hand!  What!  When I’m journaling, Wow, God!  Thank you for words to express my thoughts and emotions!  

When we enjoy something that God has made, and marvel at it and his and his perfect creativity, that’s worship.  And seriously, I want to never lose this sense of awe.

I’ve still been keeping up my “thankfulness” notebook, writing down every little thing I can think of that brings me joy and makes me marvel at God’s creativity.  Some of these things (as well as others that cross my mind) are:

  • The Psalms.
  • Hands and feet that work.  So often I can take these for granted.
  • The brain’s ability to memorize information, such as the Bible, poetry, Greek verb forms, music, etc.
  • A voice with which to communicate, sing, laugh, etc.
  • Anything pepperminty.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Spending mornings at coffeeshops.
  • Personality.  Each person has different characteristics, different senses of humor, different levels of introverted- of extroverted-ness; some are super loud and expressive while others are quiet and contemplative, etc.  It’s so cool.
  • Humor.  Being able to laugh with people, or laugh while looking back at hilarious memories, is an awesome thing.
  • Hymns/modern hymns.  When I was younger, I had a bad case of chronological snobbery when it came to church songs – I preferred the more contemporary songs we sing at church, and not so much the “older” songs.  (I didn’t hate them, of course, I just didn’t have the appreciation for them that I do now.)  Now,  I have such an affection for old hymns, they’re just so packed with Gospel truths.  They’re timeless; the truth in them is still the truth today.  A lot of music that is sung in churches today can be a bit theologically wimpy and rather self-focused.  I like music that is more focused on the Gospel and on Biblical truths.  Of course, besides older hymns, I love many “modern hymns” too, namely those by Sovereign Grace Music, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Rend Collective (I believe they sort of fall under that category, in my book, anyway), Matt Redman, etc.
  • Going out with friends for coffee/lunch and talking about stuff.  I love getting together with the other girls in my life and talking with them about what God has been doing in each of our lives, and how things are going, how we can pray for each other, etc.  I’m meeting with a friend this week, and I am SO excited to hang out with her.
  • Listening to someone play the piano (or any other instrument, or sing, or whatever) who is REALLY good at it.  I am not that musically talented, so when I hear people play who are, it blows me away.
  • Having freshly-washed, full-of-volume hair.  (One thing I can’t stand is greasy hair.)
  • Dreary, cozy, dark, rainy days.  (Yes, those can be pleasant.)
  • Lemon-ginger tea.
  • God’s grace when I really fail (a.k.a. the Gospel.)
  • Homemade whipped cream.
  • Waking up, seeing the sunlight streaming in through the windows.
  • Signs of Spring coming, after a long winter.
  • Foreign languages.  They really intrigue me.
  • Community.  The Church – not as in the building, but rather the Body of Christ – is a wonderful thing.  Christians need each other, we are not loners.  We need each other.  As iron sharpens iron, the same thing happens when believers get together.  I love Hebrews 10:24-25:  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  Community – getting together with my brothers and sisters in Christ – is an awesome and important thing.
  • Fresh pineapple.  Awww yeah.
  • Snowflakes – the pretty, intricate kind.
  • Bacon.
  • God’s Word.  Seriously.  These past few days I’ve just been so blessed to have a copy of the Bible in English (and besides that, a limited knowledge of Greek, which is kind of a nice bonus), and amazed that God actually was pleased to give us his Words, his instructions; knowledge about himself, about Jesus, about the Gospel, about his plan for the world, the Kingdom, how to live, etc.  Wow.
  • Prayer.  James 5:16b says “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  And I have seen this to be true in my life multiple times.

God is seriously SO COOL.

Later!

-Maddie

 

Life – 02/08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve been working every so often on handlettering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

///

Happy Monday!

Rejoice With Others.

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“Rejoice with those who rejoice” – Romans 12:15a

So often I am prone to look at the things or pleasant circumstances that God has given to others, and think, “Why haven’t I been blessed with these things?” This is NOT the right way to think. As if I deserved ANYTHING! I have become aware how, very sadly, looking at someone else’s life with jealousy can cause bitter feelings toward THEM if I’m not careful. And I want to be careful that I do not adopt this ungodly way of thinking. As we know from reading the Bible, studying history, or even looking at our own pasts, we know that bitter feelings have the possibility of turning into hatred. What!? A simple “I wish I had”, when not taken captive, can turn into a monster of “You have this thing that I don’t, therefore I don’t like you”. Jealousy CAN sever close friendships… DON’T give Satan that opportunity! We must NOT let desire for a thing, circumstance, etc. turn into dislike for a person whom God has chosen to bless with such a thing! We should be on our guard so as not to let this happen; to recognize feelings of jealousy when they come, and stop them as soon as they enter our minds—No, I will not think that way. God, thank you for blessing this person with this thing! Teach me to rejoice with them, and not covet their lot, or be discontent about mine! We must learn to be content, even if God has decided not to give us something that He has willed to give someone we know. That’s just fine. If you know people in your life who are living the life you wish you could live, or have talent that you lack, or whatever, REJOICE WITH THEM! Be happy that God has blessed them in such a way!  And if you find it hard, ask God to change your heart! God has a plan for each of us, and He has given each what they need according to His plan. It is likely that the reason He has decided not to give us everything we desire is to teach us contentment, and that He is enough. Be thankful. Rejoice with others. =)