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

Life – 08/29

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Notes on our “Confessions” class

Things have been going really well these past few days.  School has been super interesting, and every day I’ve looked forward to the next class.  We are now into our second week of school; we just finished reading and discussing Augustine’s Confessions and just today we discussed Augustine’s understading of the Trinity and of the Will, whether creeds and confessions are an important thing to have in the church (we’re reading part of The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman for that), etc.  So many topics in one class period!  It was so interesting though.

To provide context for future posts, I might as well add that hey, so I’m actually not a junior.  I would have been, but last year the stress, the workload, the late nights and minor depression (from all of this) got to me, consequently last year things didn’t go as well as I’d liked, and I didn’t exactly pass.  I had taken my fall sophomore semester, but couldn’t take the spring one until I caught up on some things.  So I focused on my Greek, aced it, enjoyed a lighter workload for a season, and now I’m back as a Sophomore, 2.0.  While this is hard in some ways going from one class to another, it’s been great being a part of this new class.  From the start I immediately felt like I belonged, they were all so welcoming.  Last year I had gotten to know some of these people, and became good friends with them.  Now I get to be in class with them, and hang out with them all the time.  It’s pretty sweet.  Besides the people I already knew, I got to know the people I didn’t know very well.  At this point I know everyone’s names and have talked to nearly every one of them, and they all are super awesome people.  I left a great class, but I entered one that was just as equally great.

Now that I’ve provided some context, I can talk in the future about themes we’re studying without you all being confused – “didn’t you go through that material already?”

Besides academics, life has been good these past few days – exceptionally good.

  • The LORD has been so full of grace to me, as always, particularly now by giving me joy in him, which I’ve felt somewhat lacking before and had to fight for it.  I feel like these days my prayers have been less self-focused and more gospel-centered, which is good.  Besides that type of joy (which surpasses all others), I’ve been laughing so much these days, haha.  There are a few people in my class who are absolutely HILARIOUS, and they have been a source of much humor in our classes and in the times we hang out together.
  • Some days the weather has been slightly chilly – an indication of fall weather.  You guys, I cannot wait.  The colors.  The smell of dead leaves, and the sound of them crunching under my feet.  Actually having to wear sweaters and wool socks and use blankets.  Being able to drink tea without overheating myself.  Pumpkin, cinnamon, squash… guys.  I bought a butternut squash a few days ago.  YES.
  • I’ve been learning the pleasure of listening to entire albums at once.  I used to not have the patience for that.  But I’ve been realizing that albums sometimes have a big picture, and certain songs sometimes build off others in the album, or a hidden theme develops that I would have missed had I only listened to select songs at random.  Even if not, I’ve found listening to entire albums pleasurable in and of itself.  A few albums I’ve been listening to, start to finish, are
    • Ghost of a King by The Gray Havens
    • Where The Light Gets In by Jason Gray
    • Posters by Strahan

So that’s a bit on how things have been going recently!  I could say so much, but time is limited, and I’ve got to make supper and get to my reading (my reason for blogging was to wake myself up – I kept dozing off mid-sentence while I was reading, and would end up dreaming ends of sentences onto ones I had started while awake!  So strange, haha).

Maddie

 

Summer Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later!

Maddie

 

Life – 05/23

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

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

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

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

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

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Later!

-Madeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Goals

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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?

 

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.

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Happy Monday!

School Excitement, Life Lessons & Music

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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).  =)

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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.

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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  =)

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God bless,

Madeline

I Don’t Want To Waste My Break

These past few days God has been teaching me a lot of things, including patience and being thankful, no matter the circumstance.  I still have two weeks left of winter break, which is awesome.  However, as one of my friends said today, “you can only bum around for so long”.  I feel like life these days has been a little monotonous, just because, well, there’s not much for me to do.  I have no work, so I’m a little bored.  I’m ready to start school; I’ve been longing for the college life again.  I miss all my friends, most of whom are still out of state.  I miss their smiles, their humor, their personalities… them.  I miss those late nights when my roommates and I have a few friends over to study, and the delightful smell of coffee lingers in the atmosphere.  I miss our apartment.  I miss going to class Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; hearing the Word being unpacked and getting my mind blown time and again over the awesomeness of God.  I miss the Thursday chapel sessions.  I miss wrestling with complicated topics together with my classmates.  I almost miss the biweekly synthesis essays.  I miss that glorious, accomplished feeling of having accomplished something.  And yes, I even miss all the reading.  And in thinking longingly about all of this, I can tend to be discontented about where I am right now.  But no.  Instead of looking on this momentary season with a negative outlook, I should make the most of it.  I should enjoy all the grace God has for me in this time. I get to be at home with my family, whom I love to death.  I get to be there for the funny things they do and say.  I get to eat my mom’s cooking every day (this is a treat after having to cook for myself for so long).  I get to do fun, leisurely things, such as drawing and writing whatever I want (i.e. anything other than papers) to my hearts content.

So… in my excitement for this upcoming next semester, I don’t want to let myself miss out on what God has for me right now: rest and time with my family.  I want to enjoy these next two weeks, because soon enough I will be busy again.  :)

 

“Counting It All Joy” During Finals, etc.

Hello everyone!  I’ve been wanting to blog for some time, but I’ve been so busy with finals.  Augh.  It’s super exhausting and sometimes it is so tempting to just have a big ol’ weepfest about the heavy workload.  However, I try to avoid those impulses, press on, and remain cheerful, keeping in mind that this is what God has for me to do right now, and that pretty soon it will all be over; I will get to enjoy a long vacation from studying, and will be able to have time to do enjoyable things again (oh happy day!).  This verse has kind of become my theme these days:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-3

When God is putting me through hard times where I honestly have no idea WHERE I’m going to come up with a 5-page essay concerning the theme of suffering in Buddhism, finish all my assigned reading, or come up with something sufficient to say in my student interview (and on top of that, be deficient in sleep), he’s teaching me to “count it all joy”.  Each hard moment is an opportunity for me to grow in faith, trusting that He will provide all my needs, rather than freak out in despair.  Where I grow in faith, I grow in steadfastness (or some other translations say “perseverance”).  And perseverance leads to more faith, and then more perseverance, and so on.  It’s a vicious cycle in the best sense, essentially.  So God has definitely been using this season to teach me to look to him for everything.  That I am in no way self-sufficient; I am fully dependent on Him.  He will provide; He’s never failed me, and He never will.  So though it’s been hard, it’s been SO good.

Anyway, in my last post, I was looking forward to Thanksgiving break.  I’ll quick tell you how that went.  It went pretty well: I got to visit my family, hang with my sisters, take a good long break from studying, and celebrate Thanksgiving with some relatives.  Our dinner was the bomb, especially the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin custard and my mom’s cranberry apple sweet potatoes.

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After thanksgiving dinner, we had a white elephant gift exchange.  It was pretty fantastic.  The gifts I ended up with were actually pretty useful – two pairs of mittens (I could always use a backup pair of mittens), and a pair of snowman socks (YESSSS.  Haha).  :)

 

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Our class recently read through Homer’s The Odyssey.  It was interesting to learn about the Greek pantheon, and Homer’s worldview, shown through his poetry and storytelling.  Then I had to write a paper contrasting Penelope, the wife of the main character Odysseus, with Sarah of the Bible.  I concluded that each went through tough trials, but had different outlooks on life and responded in different ways to their circumstances, based on their worldviews (pagan vs. God-centered).  It was definitely interesting.

 

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A few days ago, a few of my girlfriends and I went ice skating.  I had never done it before, so I was very wobbly and I fell down a lot.  Haha.  But I think I started to get the hang of it to some degree.  It was pretty fun.

God has been constantly showing me his goodness these past few days, even in the smallest ways.  Last Sunday, after one of those “God, I’m so exhausted and bored that I don’t know what to do with myself” moments, one of my friends randomly stopped by (my roommates invited him, but I had no idea he was coming), and he, my roommates and I went to a coffeeshop to continue our studies.  It was so good to finally get out of the house and have a fun time.  It was cool because God knew that I needed a change of scenery, and he answered my prayer and provided it so unexpectedly and at the perfect time.  Then last night my small group got together, one last time before winter break, and we all shared what God has been doing in our lives so far this semester.  Sitting there, hearing everyone’s stories and being so encouraged, it just hit me how blessed I am to be a part of this school, along with all these lovely people who are like-minded in the gospel yet each have a unique story and calling.

 

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And as usual, class has been mind-blowingly AMAZING.  These days we have been going through the minor prophets of the Old Testament, and looking at all the foreshadowings of the Messiah that was to come.  They’re EVERYWHERE.  My goodness.  It’s SO COOL.  We went through the basic themes of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and all the visions of “the latter days” – the end times.  We were also shown how there is this recurring theme throughout the Bible of water flowing out of the temple.  Let me mention first that the temple was where the presence of God was.  Eden (which can be a sort of temple figure, because the presence of God was there) had a river flowing through it.  The temples built in the Old Testament, I think, were built by streams or rivers (something concerning water that flows),  Jesus (the presence of God, in the flesh) had blood and water flow out of his side when he was pierced, and lastly, Christians flow living water out of their hearts (John 7:38) (and we are temples of the Holy Spirit).  And then, another observation is that in Revelation 7:17, it talks about how in the new heavens and earth, the Lamb will guide his people to springs of living water.  Well, that is where the presence of God will be.  Whoa.  Mind. Blown.

(If you’re wondering why on earth there is something about “ten toes” in my notes in the photo above, we were going through the book of Daniel that day, and in Daniel there are a lot of visions.  And in one of the visions, the number 10 occurred a couple times, which I found interesting. That’s what that’s all about. Haha)

I am so excited for winter break.  I’ll be able to do the things I never have time to do these days.  During that time I’m hoping to draw, write and blog way more, write a few letters, spend lots of time in the Word, and be with my family.

God bless,

Madeline

 

 

Music, Field Trips & Anticipation for Thanksgiving Break

These past couple weeks have been quite interesting.

I’ve been enjoying the snow so much.  Watching it fall while I sit in my warm house with a cup of tea (or in the library, as I try to tackle an essay on the interactions between Israel and Assyria in the Old Testament) is near perfection.  A couple of the people in my class had never seen snow in their lives up until now, so it was cool to see their reactions, to hear about what they thought when they first saw it, felt it, walked on it.

God has been teaching me a lot.  He’s been proving Himself faithful over and over, and teaching me to rest in Him; to bring any anxieties or stress (college, life, etc.) to Him, and He always takes care of it.  Matthew 11:28-29 is high on the list of my life verses (I don’t have just one…I can’t narrow down the whole Bible to just one verse; it’s all so good):  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Jesus is just seriously THE BEST.

Our class learned about Hinduism last Friday.  It was a very interesting day.  The lecturer that day was actually Indian; a Christian who was a former brahmin (the highest, most desired position in the caste system; so it’s amazing and so cool that he left that to follow Jesus).  Hinduism is strange – the ultimate goal is to become one with “Brahman” (their impersonal god of gods, I guess) and become impersonal.  Which makes sense now to me why yoga (which actually is a hindu practice) is all about emptying onesself.  Hmmm…  I really don’t know why anyone would desire to be impersonal.  After class, we took a field trip.  We had lunch at an Indian restaurant, and then toured a Hindu temple.  It was very interesting.  The tour guide showed us all the different shrines containing images of some of the Hindu gods and goddesses, and told us about their attributes, etc.  It made me thankful that the REAL God made Himself known to me, chose me to be one of his children, and opened my eyes to how awesome He is.  On the ride back, I and a few guys in my class were talking about this, and we were like, “Man, if God didn’t save me, I sadly would probably chosen Hinduism over any other religion!”  Yeah.  It made me super thankful.  :)

I’ve been noticing how less-effective studying in a group setting is.  It’s fun, but certainly NOT productive.  ;)

I’ve been listening to Christmas music, and it isn’t even thanksgiving yet!  A couple days ago, Rend Collective came out with their Christmas album, Campfire Christmas, Vol. 1, and I bought two of the songs (“Ding Dong Merrily On High” and “Merry Christmas Everyone” – the first is my favorite).  They are so FUN!  I really admire their style of music.  Anyway.  You should check it out.

Speaking of music, I’ve also been into these songs:

Looking forward to thanksgiving break!  :)

These Days – 08/31

So ever since I got back from Colorado, this is what has been going on in my life:

I purchased a very awesome but generic backpack.  It looks like this:

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I feel quite hipster owning it, to be honest.  ;)  The funny thing though, is that its brand is a complete knockoff of the Levi’s brand.  The logo is that familiar Levi’s shape, but instead of saying what you’d expect – Levi Strauss & Co – it says “AUGUR Strauss & Co”.  What on earth?!  Plagiarism!  Haha.  Thankfully that logo was on a tag on the inside, which was easily able to be seamripped off.

I recently got myself an Olloclip.  It’s so cool!  If you don’t know what that is, it’s a 4-in-1 lens clip set for the iPhone.  The lenses are 10x macro, 15x macro, wide angle and fisheye.  I’ve been experiencing with the macro lenses, and I just love them!  It brings my photography potential to a whole new level.  :)

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About a week ago was the start of a new season of life for me.  A season that at times can be hard and exhausting, yet so awesome, beautiful and oh SO worth it.  I started attending a really amazing Bible college.  I’m learning so much – every day God just blows my mind with new things to know about His power; His might, His glory.  I’m growing in knowledge of the supremacy and beauty of Christ.  I’m establishing so many wonderful new relationships that mean the world to me – when you get a good number of my classmates together, that’s when the fun and awesome fellowship happens.  (A couple nights ago several of us went to a park at night to play ultimate frisbee, then went for a walk through the city to find a Starbucks.  Sadly, it was closed when we got there, but I don’t regret the walk.)  :)

Yesterday I went to my very first urban farmer’s market.  Until now I’d only been to little ones held in a small town.  I decided to go all experimental and buy things I either never have had before, or have not had in a long time.  So I bought myself some purple green beans, elderberries, and a honeycomb.  I also bought a few things I was familiar with, too, like rainbow chard, a cucumber and some chamomile blend tea.

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Current songs on repeat:

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Hillsong United

To Leave It All Behind – Moriah Peters

I’ll Wait For You – Moriah Peters (anything by Moriah, really)

Build Your Kingdom Here – Rend Collective

When The Crazy Kicks In – Francesca Battistelli

Fix My Eyes – for King & Country

It’s Not Over Yet – for King & Country

Love Take Me Over – Steven Curtis Chapman

 

Have a good, restful sunday!

God bless,

Madeline

 

These Days – 05/17

Hello everybody!  It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted.  I haven’t found much to write about these days.  But a lot has happened in the past couple of weeks.  So here’s an update on my life.

During the past few weeks, I have learned so much about our amazing and great God.

I spent a few days out in the country, and got to enjoy the open space and fresh air.  Also I enjoyed being able to see the entire sky without obstructions (like buildings, etc.)!  You can’t do that in the city.  I saw some of the most amazing clouds.

I saw Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart series.  Now, I think Hallmark’s shows are super cheesy.  However, despite the cheese and unrealistic plot, I rather enjoyed it.  Does anyone else think that Jack sort of looked like Bear Grylls?  Haha :)

I took a few pictures.  Check my VSCO Grid or Instagram.

Started tweeting a lot.  Don’t worry, it’s for a good purpose.  :)  I started actually using my Twitter account for my other blog, Girls Who Glow (a blog for Christian girls), and I have been using it to encourage other girls, and have gotten encouragement myself.  Social networking is awesome!

Moriah Peters did a drawing for her painted boom box used in her video, and I entered to win it.  I don’t think I won, though.  The drawing ended yesterday, and I heard nothing.  Oh well.  ;)  Her new album is coming out on the 20th!  So excited!!!!

Remember when I had a very small (and sadly unsuccessful) design shop called Sparkel Works?  It’s long gone, but I think I might start it up again soon, God willing.

And last but not least, I am SO pumped and excited for this summer.

What’s going on with you these days?

 

These Days – 04/19

Hey everybody! Here’s a bit of what’s going on in my life these days.

I’m enjoying spring, warm weather and the sound of rain drumming on the roof and windows. One of my favorite sounds in the world. :)

Celebrating Jesus and His amazing love for me. Wow, He sacrificed Himself; died and bore my sin so that I could be reconciled to God and free from His wrath! And then He rose again, conquering death and sin! I am free because of what He has done for me! Forget the Easter bunny! Happy Easter tomorrow, everybody!

I saw Frozen last Sunday for the first time in forever (haha, get what I did there?), and it was clever. (By the way, I hope you happened to notice that Rapunzel and Eugene made it to the coronation, right?) I didn’t necessarily like the whole thing, but there were certain parts I really liked. I especially love the “Love is an Open Door” scene. I’ve been singing that song all the time these days. :)

I’ve been enjoying almond butter, smoothies, raspberries and homemade popsicles. God is so amazing that He made tastebuds and so many different flavors! Just today I made a popsicle that was literally just orange juice, coconut milk and honey, and it was really good.

What’s been going on with you these days?

Sketches, Music & Flowers

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Today so far was a pretty good day.

I woke up and immediately thought, I want to draw something.  So I did.

I swept the kitchen floor.

I listened to music.  (This morning I’ve had “We Are Brave” by Shawn McDonald on repeat.  Such a good song.)

I ate some frozen blueberries and stained my fingers purple.

I had a chance to go outside today, and it was very sunny and melty out.

I made a flower wreath and took some pictures.

I think I’m going to go have my read my Bible now and then draw some more, or continue the novella I’m working on.

How are you spending today?