Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Long Walk

I'm standing at the base of a mountain.
The rhyme from preschool comes to mind
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Have to go over it. 
I can't fly & my jumping record maxes out at a foot, 
so it looks like my two feet will be taking me to the other side.
that's logical, right?

there is a mountain in my path and i have to hike over it
it will be tough, no doubt
but it will be worth it
there will be the grueling treks but not without the beautiful moments
and i will reach the top 
and it will be okay
by the end i will have learned new lessons and encountered a different type of beauty than the plateau would have allowed.

my personal mountains, i must hike over.
and this is what I have to remind myself- 
you can't fly
your personal mountains cannot be conquered in a day
you cannot do it alone, 
because you are weak

I need a sustainer, a helper, a guide to help me through this trek
and I have one, but what good is He if i continually ignore Him?
Life is a journey and He is with me, 
to make the tough times more bearable and the beautiful times more beautiful. 

and the mountains- they don't go away
they never will,
but neither will His prescence
and everything is better when you know you are not alone. 

so conquer,
with Him.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Mistaken Mistakes

the gap needs to close.
anyone have adhesive for the heart?

once  I tried to give my cares to the backs of the sand dollars by the sea.
...they came back.
but it was a poetic gesture.

a salve for the longing, maybe that's more like it

He's teaching me to be okay
okay with the normal, okay with the outliers
and the beautiful mistakes

are there such things as mistakes?
they all shape us into who we are
some make good memories, laughable even

risk within bounds,
but risk all the same.
yes, memories to warm my heart. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The ER

Sitting in the ER. 
To my left sits a lady with her face in her palm.
Her other hand clenching her side.
 She appears to be doing everything she can to hold in the pain.

To my right are sweet friends,
waiting on the results of their friend's ct scan.
She is well.
No seat belt, car totaled, walking away with a fractured arm.

Behind me are two tired women,
waiting on loved ones.

At the front desk is a daughter,
all I hear is
"8 stinnets"
 "massive heart attack"
I see her dear mother,
 barely able to support herself in the chair.

I walk in laughing at my friend's clumsy mistake,
hoping that his stitches won't hurt too bad,
planning on fixing it with ice cream afterwards.

I walk out with eyes wide open to God's grace.
Grace that I live a life that has been free of loss,
a healthy body that doesn't require much,
and an existence that has never known pain. 
It's easy to forget the world we live in.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Little Rhyme

One thing I ask is to be found bowed at Your feet, 
that You may be pleased. 
That my heart may be fixed where true joys are to be found, 
effacing all the worries that so easily surround. 
My life is Yours, I know that to be true
but please take my heart and yield it Lord, completely to You.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thanks

Here I sit,
on a lovely bench under a tree with falling leaves,
with cobblestones under my feet and a sun painted all shades of orange setting behind me.
I can hear the squirrels romp through the leaves around me.

If there's one thing this semester has taught me, it is this:
I live immersed in beauty every day.

Sometimes I must do more searching to see the beauty,
but it is there all the same.

Thanksgiving is not a day.
It is not just Thursday, November 24.
If thanksgiving were that, just a day- how bland life would be.
How many blessings around us would go unnoticed if it was constrained to 24 of the 8,760 hours we are given each year?

No- Thanksgiving is a posture in which I am to live.
It is the final article I must clothe myself in daily.
It is the lens through which I am allowed to see beauty,
to see the blessings the Lord surrounds me with.
Without thanksgiving, the beauty is drawn out of our lives.
Our selfishness,
our dissatisfaction with life,
is magnified all the more with this ignorance.

Thanksgiving is the staple.
It is the acknowledgment of all that the Lord chooses to bless us with.
It softens our hearts to His love and opens our eyes to His blessings.

So, during this holiday, I am thankful.
Thankful for home cooked meals.
Thankful for the sweet friends and families that I got to spend time with this week.
Thankful for my own family

And my thanksgiving must not stop here-
in this moment,
in this day,
in this week.

It must continue-
day by day,
moment by moment,
as the Lord opens all of our eyes to the blessings surrounding.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Years That Go By

 "The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom"
Psalm 90
 The hands of God.
Out of the same hands that bring beautiful autumn trees comes the wild winds that rip them to shreds. Life is fragile.
Time owes us nothing.
We aren't guaranteed another minute, another hour, another day.

Ann Voskamp describes time as a river that rushes through without any regard of travelers passing through. I think if the Lord instilled the reality within all of us that our days truly are numbered,
we'd all live so differently. We'd be so much more intentional about our life. We'd treasure and nurture the relationships in our lives. As a Christian, I would feel the urgency to love on others so much more. I'd be more direct in telling everyone of all that my Lord has done for me. We really aren't promised anything. As cliche as this is, we all need to learn to live as if tomorrow wasn't there. And if we are honest, it's not. We don't know what the future holds, but we stroll through life as if we do. If I live to be 60, I don't want to wake up and realize that I've wasted 21,900 days of my life with meaningless tasks and unintentional conversations with people I never took the time to deeply care about and a relationship with the Lord that I never tried to tell others about. Even just with college. Time is fragile, and this is such a vital time to learn from the Lord. Why would I waste that by seeking out selfish desires, so I can learn the same lessons I did in high school 50 more times? Not that I have the ability to choose the higher road, because I don't. But there is a desire to live and grow close to the Lord. Teach me to number my days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Beauty

"We want to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it."

Beauty is what I've been missing.
I get glimpses of it on a daily basis
(autumn anyone???)

 Life is good, friends.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Grace

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge"
All sense of self-pride is gone.
I am humbled and realize my need of my Savior.

No, Madelyn, you're not perfect.
Even more specific-
you're wrong.
Even more specific-
you're not as mature as you think you are.

I cringe as these thoughts run through my head. But then I open the Psalms and I see David's pleas for mercy from the Lord and I see the beauty in grace. I'm not always going to do the right thing. I'm going to let people down, and people are going to let me down. But that is how the Lord made me and it is Him that chooses to fix me. He fixes me. He loves me back to eternal perfection. He loves me back to wholeness. Whether this love is expressed in rebuke or blessing, it is love all the same and it is what binds the broken pieces back together. So I hide under the shadow of His wings. I mess up and see for myself what grace like rain really is. He wraps His arms around me and I know that in all of my imperfections, I am treasured.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Really Strong Opinion

Lately, I've just been really frustrated with the subject of relationships. And what better place to vent about it than my blog, right? It'll be great to go back in 2 years and cringe as I re-read my profound thoughts of freshman year haha. Spoiler alert- I'm a girl and I don't really understand how all of this is for guys. I'm not saying Im right, just sharing my opinion.

A lot of what I see these days is people around me trying to rack up connections with the opposite sex to make them feel good about themselves. All I see is girls and guys not respecting one another, and as a result, using one another for a temporary source of self esteem.

Girls try their best to sell themselves to guys as a desirable individual to be around. They get to entertain themselves by playing mind games with one another. Each one knows they don't want to date, but it's something fun to do and every now and then it makes you feel a little less lonely without the work of a relationship. It temporarily pushes their own insecurities to the background, and inflates this false sense of self worth.

Why not friendships with substance to them? Ladies and gentlemen, you can do better. Respect yourselves more than that. And I'm speaking to myself here too. What a cheap form of satisfaction that surrounds us. It's easy to casually date or "hang out" or whatever else you want to call it, but immensely less rewarding.

To be a friend, to value someone not for how they make you feel or what they can offer you, but for who they are- there is alot to be said for that. This is a friendship of substance. A friendship that involves girls and guys respecting one another. Friendships that encourage you and build you up. Friendships that respect the boundaries. Guys that encourage you to be the best that you can be and look out for you.

I guess I'm slightly confused and mostly tired of people hearing that girls need to "put themselves out there", you know, in the "you should probably spend more time on your makeup and be slightly more commanding for attention" kind of way. Nope, I sure don't. I'm not interested in the business of pressuring myself to be appealing and be entertaining and be the guy's girl. Don't friends just happen? Since when did we have to start trying to sell ourselves to everyone around us? I just don't really understand it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Gratitude

"God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: Joy"
One Thousand Gifts, 57
"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!"..."this is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it"..."a cheerful heart is good medicine." Rejoice in the Lord. Okay, maybe sometimes that's do able, like when I make a good grade on a test, but always? That's a little much. And a cheerful heart? I know I definitely don't want to be that obnoxiously optimistic girl. No thanks. I'd rather be real. You know, honest, dry, and slightly skeptical about everything- always saying what's on my mind. I'm done with all of this forced optimism about how great everything is because God loves me, because honestly I have bad days and lots of them. So no, just because God loves me doesn't mean my bad days are instantly made better. I just want to be genuine. Yes, I'd love to be able to be joyful about everything, but I'm tired of faking it. 

I've been on a hunt for joy for a long time. How do I live my life with a purpose- with actual life - with genuine joy? I decided to stop trying to be the person who had it together all the time (not that I every really was, but I stopped making an effort to be). Instead, I starting laying it all out there for everyone to see. If I was having a problem, it's very likely that everyone around me was aware. I may have been a bit of a pessimist, but atleast it's genuine...right? As I slowly became more and more of a complainer, I started to realize that maybe this whole effort to be "real" was not the best thing. Had I been seeking to find my identity in Christ, that would be a different story. But, as I journeyed to find "myself" apart from Him, I found exactly what I am without Him- a dirty, sinful person who had nothing to offer and found no real joy in life.

It wasn't until I started reading One Thousand Gifts (through my wonderful Bible Study!), that the Lord really started opening my eyes to all of this. In fact, it wasn't until the other morning as I was reading in chapter 3 that it all began to sink in. The author had previously wrote about how giving thanks for everything is the key to living a full life. She points out that in doing this, we recognize what God has done for us. This act of giving thanks puts us in a position of humility- where we understand that all good things come from the Lord. All good things are because of God's love for us. "It's our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated ourself, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right" (59) This complaining that I had become so accustomed to was not just a result of my disssatisfaction- it was something far worse. This was me rejecting not only the blessings that the Lord has given me- but His love for me

Every single time I complain about something I am rejecting the way that God has chosen to love me. I'm rejecting Christ's work on the cross. I'm rejecting His eternal grace. I'm rejecting the full life that He offers me. With my ingratitude, I tell God that He is not good enough. And when I finally saw that THIS is what my ingratitude really meant, it shook my world. It hurt my heart. I have been rejecting the way God loves me, because I can't stop focusing on myself long enough to see the exponential amount of blessings that the Lord gives me on a daily basis...because He loves me. He loves me. I don't deserve it. He loves me, ungrateful, self centered, Madelyn. He loves me, and will continue to no matter what. That my friends, will bring you to your knees.
I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for the early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of the crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.
Thanks isn't always natural, it takes effort. It requires a habit to be formed. But when you see yourself through the correct lens- a sinner saved and made beautiful only by the grace of God - it changes everything. You appreciate the little things. You realize that each and every moment in your life matters. It's all intentional. Every day is a gift of God's love and to neglect that is to throw away something beautiful. 

"Teach us, O Lord, to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

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