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!

“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!  :)

Thoughts On Snowflakes & the Wonder of God

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Isn’t it amazing how much God cares for His creation? Snowflakes, for example, fall from the sky in the most intricate, symmetrical designs, only to melt soonafter. Think about it. God cared to make something so small—so perishable and fragile—into something amazingly beautiful. This means a lot to me, because if God makes something so temporary so breathtaking, how much more does He care for US, we who are made in His image; bought by the blood of Christ! God just blows my mind. Seriously.

First Snow.

As I lay there in bed, having just woken up by a rather strange dream, I turned over and tried to go back to sleep.  Then suddenly—oh joy!—I remembered that yesterday it was said that there would be snow today.  Reaching for my phone, I checked the weather app to see if it was true.  According to the weather app, it was.  But we all know that weather apps often disappoint.  I had to see with my own eyes: WAS it literally snowing?  Excitedly, I climbed down the ladder of my loft and hastened to the window.  And…

…it was.

The ground was covered in a layer of white.  It was as if the whole earth had been dusted generously with powdered sugar.  By the glow of the streetlamps (it was so early that the sun had not risen yet) I could see the fine powder falling softly, and gusts of wind made visible by it.  The world seemed so calm and serene.  As I just sat there, staring out the window and taking it all in, I prayed, thank you GOD.  I had been waiting for this to happen ever since the last leaves had fallen.  With happiness I anticipated the short walk to class, hoping that it would still be snowing by the time I would walk out the door.  Joy pumped through my soul as I kept telling myself, “it’s snowing… it’s actually snowing!”  I wanted to play some Christmas music.  I unlocked my door to the deck and walked out.  It was so perfectly quiet out, and under my moccassin-ed feet I could hear and feel that all-too-familiar crunch. I scooped up some of the snow with my hands… ah yes… hello, snow.  It’s been too long.

Thank you, God.

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A Week in the Woods

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Hey everybody!  I just got back from a week out at a cabin in the woods.  That meant a whole week without running water, indoor restrooms and internet.  During my stay, I got to take lots of pictures (you can see some of them on my VSCO grid), enjoy the pretty views and focus on my writing a bit more than usual, resulting in the birth of new novella in the works.  Maybe I’ll post an excerpt soon.  As enjoyable as the week was, I’m glad to be back at home, with all its familiarity and conveniences.  :)

Happy weekend!

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?

These Days – 03/01

Happy first day of March!  I’m hoping that the temperatures will rise and that spring will come quite soon.  Last year it snowed until May!  I’m very excited to start enjoying warm weather and not having to bundle up before going out.  You guys, I’ve got the spring fever.  And summer fever.  I’m excited to start wearing short sleeved shirts, shorts and flip flops; to be able to go outside more often; to have more things to take pictures of; to enjoy lemonade, cool summer evenings, jet ski rides, making flower crowns… I can’t wait.

I spent a good portion of this morning making bouquets and taking pictures of flowers.  Here are two of the results.

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About a week ago I discovered the awesomeness of VSCO Grid, and made a profile for myself to showcase some of my favorite photos.  You can check it out if you so desire.  ;)   http://thefloralberry.vsco.co/

I’ve been teaching myself piano again.  So far I know the first part of “All Day” by Cody Simpson (hahaha I know, right), and the first part of the Man of Steel theme, along with some others.

Did you know that if you google the word “tilt” (or “askew”), the webpage will tilt?  Try it.

Happy weekend!

These Days – 01/31

Hello, everyone!  Wow, this month flew by quickly, didn’t it?

Over the course of these past couple weeks…

I finished my entire Rosetta Stone Polish course.  Wow.  However, I’ve been reviewing bits of it, because I’ve forgotten much of what I’ve learned. :)

I’ve been experimenting with photography and flowers a bit.

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I’m enjoying the occasional sunny days, and looking forward to sunnier, warmer weather.

I was spending time in the Psalms last night, and wow… God is so good – powerful, but merciful to those who love Him.  He is amazing.

Anticipating the release of Moriah Peter’s new album.  All I know is that the release date is sometime this spring.  Can’t wait!

Bought about half of Jamie Grace’s new album, and that’s basically all I’ve been listening to.  “Do Life Big” is one of my new favorites of hers:

O T H E R  M U S I C  R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S :

I Know  –  Meaghan Smith

Little Ol’ Me  –  Jamie Grace

My First Love  –  Jamie Grace

Run  –  Charmaine

 

Happy February tomorrow!

Snow Day

So yesterday (MLK day) some other people and I had a snow day. We went to a state park and had a winter picnic, then went sledding for a bit afterwards. It was pretty awesome.
And as always, I took a few pictures – not so much of the event, but mostly of the scenery that surrounded us. Enjoy.

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These Days – 01/05

Here is the first These Days post of 2014!

These days I am writing (see my last post for more details on that), relaxing at home, and enjoying the last day of winter break.  Today is record cold (where I live, that means way below zero), and recently I developed a tickle in my throat, so today I’m taking it easy indoors, doing fun, relaxing stuff.

I’ve been loving notebooks a lot these days.  Ever since I got an iPod, my notebook usage had gone downhill… until a few months ago, when I remembered how pleasurable, satisfying, and cozy it is to physically hold a book of your written words, and how much more wonderful it is to put a pen to paper than to put your finger to a touch-screen keyboard.  So since then, I decided to use technology less for my writing, and notebooks more often.  It is much more fun that way.  And the other fun part about that is having to buy new notebooks!  There are so many beautiful ones out there that I started a pinterest board entirely for notebooks.  :)  Here are some that I have been eyeing.

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I just ordered the set of notebooks in the last image.  Can’t wait for them to arrive!

Currently loving to read blogs, look for photography on pinterest, marvel at how great God is, and take pictures of whatever can be captured indoors, especially frost and condensation.

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Current Favorite Music:

Brighter by Hillsong Young & Free

Alive by Hillsong Young & Free

Back To Life by Hillsong Young & Free

With Every Act of Love by Jason Gray

The Man of Steel soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.

…also, Jamie Grace posted a sneak peek of one of her new songs, Do Life Big, on her Instagram account.  It was pretty awesome.  I’m excited to hear the rest.

What’s going on in your life these days?