Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Walk to the Mailbox

If you want to talk I'd prefer it in a letter as opposed to a phone call or text.
Don't get me wrong. I will reply to a text, and I'll answer my phone. But there's something about writing letters and receiving them.

I realize that I really like letters. Letters don't require instant reply, and they are an excellent lesson in patience. Letters allow you to put your thoughts down on a page. There is something very permanent about a pen, and something promising about putting it onto paper. In writing letters I have found I can be the most honest because I have time to collect all my thoughts. I have time to expand on ideas that otherwise get lost.
I like putting a stamp and addressing the letter. Licking the envelope is even a joyful experience. When I walk down to my mailbox with a letter to send, I get the chance to be thankful for the person I'm writing to. Putting the flag up on the mailbox is like sealing a deal.
Letters can be anything. Words of encouragement, apologies, ideas, jokes, condolences. 
You can call me later, text me tomorrow, but hey, today? Today, write me a letter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More Then Just a Pretty Face

My sister, Shannon, has never really shared with me much. For the most part, she keeps to herself and that's fine for us- we still love each other dearly. But recently, that has changed. Shannon is beginning to open up to  me, even if it is bit by bit. And her story is so special and incredible I think it needs to be shared.

This girl is so unique and beautiful. She is an absolute treasure, and all who know her will agree. But like everyone, she isn't perfect. I suggest you watch the included video to learn more- but the story she has to share is so special:
Shannon has a few learning disabilities, but she isn't afraid to tell people about it. She wants others to know there is hope in the face of any challenge. She wrote this whole speech herself just so other kids with learning disabilities will know they are not alone.

I hope you will watch this video and be inspired by Shannon, my 12-year-old sister. I also challenge you to not look at people for who they are on the outside, but to really look at their heart, because everyone has their own struggles, weaknesses, and also their own strengths.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Looking Forward

"I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future." -Tim Tebow
The future can be a terrifying thing. Not knowing what will happen next, not knowing who you will be, not knowing where you'll go. It feels a lot like you have been thrown into a dark room where you can't see more than two feet in front of you. Nothing really seems to piece together.

But everything will fall into place, and everything will end up working out. I often have to remind myself, "Sometimes things have to fall apart so that they can later fall into place." God HAS a plan for the future, a plan especially for me, and a different one for you.

Many miles may separate us,
And people may come between.
But I know that the Lord has a plan-
Greater than anything heard or seen.

I don't know where I'm going,
You aren't sure what's ahead,
To the Lord I cast my trust
And to you I'll give my hand.

We will walk to Him together,
And when unsure of days to come-
We will cry out to our Father!
Our God will guide us home.

I pray my faith will grow;
I pray the same for you.
Whatever happens between us
I trust in God's great view.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Take a moment

Everything's flying past and the stress levels are mounting. You probably even don't have time to read this (I definitely don't have time to write it!). You just want to go crawl in a hole and cry yourself to sleep; maybe things will work out and be better when you wake up.
Do yourself a favor: take three deep breaths. Drop everything, shut your eyes, and take three deep breaths. Lean into the fact that you are loved, and that God will not send you into a situation that you can't take on and survive (with His help, of course). Trust that peace. Maybe things won't end as you hoped or planned, but everything will be alright in the end. If it's not ok, it's not over yet.
Breathe. Let go. Inhale, exhale.  Your life is a crazy and beautiful thing. Just don't get so deep into the crazy that you lose sight of the beautiful.
While your eyes are shut, take a moment to thank God (even if you've never talked to Him before and feel crazy doing so) for just three things today. Maybe they were challenges or times people forgave you or just seeing a flower next to the sidewalk. It's just between you two.
Breathe and trust His Peace. You're gonna be ok.

1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Prayers and love,

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Prom with Daddy

Prom is JUST around the corner. It's in all sorts of advertising, and on many people's minds. In some ways it consumes people. Guys think about who they are gonna ask, how they are gonna ask that girl, if they are going to get a tux, and how they are going to pay for everything. Girls spend hours dreaming about their dress, hoping to get asked by that one guy, flipping through millions of magazines that tell them how to look absolutely wonderful, planning exactly how the night will go, and making sure that every detail is taken care of.
"Prom, it's like the Olympics of high school." -Disney's Prom
One night. It may be fun and memorable, but at the end of the day it's just one dance and then it's over. How can it become something we can remember?

This year, I'm going to enjoy prom with my Daddy. No, not my father whom I live with, but my Father in heaven: God. I am just a sophomore and therefore am not even old enough to attend my high school's prom. I will be helping out because I'm in student council, but the point is that I will still be dressed in the most beautiful of clothes and dancing.
Jeremiah 31:30 tells us how when the Lord is found "Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."
I may not have a dance with the boy I like, but I will be dancing in the delight of the Lord. I may be bummed that he didn't ask me- but I will still be joyful because my Daddy is with me.
God is the King of Kings, and therefore I am His princess. In Psalm 45:13-14 it says how God dresses up his daughters, "All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king." And just before that in Psalm 45:11 it says how "The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord." He dresses us in His righteousness, not because of anything we've done, but simply out of unconditional love.

I may not be going to our school's prom, but I will be dancing with my Daddy who thinks I'm beautiful.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who I am is not my relationship status

One of the things about my generation that blows my mind is how we determine a relationship's seriousness and sincerity by how it comes across on Facebook, especially via the infamous relationship status. If something isn't "FB official" we doubt the commitment level and whether the two people can handle having the world know.

In truth, some of us just don't think it's needed to post about our little lives constantly. If you want to know where I stand, ask me. I'm not condemning Facebook or using it to keep up with others. But I also don't think we should assume where anyone stands based off of posting online in any medium.

See, it goes like this. I'm not worth anything because of who I know, what I say, or what I do. That feels like pretty basic head-nodding material, but think about it. What you do and say means nothing if you do it for and by yourself. Essentially, I am worthless without Christ.

And in Him, I am worth everything.

Whether Facebook or anything else says I'm in a relationship or single, it doesn't matter. That doesn't make me worth anything more or less. Even if I AM dating someone, that still doesn't change my identity at it's purest and most raw level. I am loved and beautiful and freed and a dancing daughter of the King because He made me so, not because he made me so. If you catch my drift.

If not, let me break it down for you. God is the only one who gets say in my worth. If any boy (or girl) calls me beautiful or valued or sweet, they're certainly right, but not because they said it. Little he (boy and/or man) can certainly speak worth to me, but his approval or lack thereof doesn't change me one iota. Sorry, boys. Big He (Daddy/God) says I'm all that and more. He gets to say that, see, He kinda made me like that. Can't argue with how I'm made.

You tracking? If not, email me. I'm pretty sure my email is somewhere on this page...

My point is this: because I am everything in Christ, I am free to relate to people. If I run into people (boys particularly) and date or not, that's cool. I just am looking to share life. Whether or not we're dating or "FB official" or at whatever marker that says how committed we are doesn't really matter to me. As long as we're happy, we're just gonna go for it. The last thing I want to do is ever shape a relationship because of how I'll have to explain it or how people will think of it.

"In Christ alone, my hope is found."
May that be true in all our lives.

All my love,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dear Boys, an Apology

Dear boys,
I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the horrible treatment, the gossip, the judgement, the pressure, the expectations and the double standards.
I'm sorry that for years us girls have been showing off how we deserve to be treated better, but all the while, we're refusing to even care about how you are doing that day.
Sure, we kinda care. We'll check in occasionally. We definitely care if something will affect how you feel about US. For our selfish ways, I'm sorry.
I'm sorry for the times I have broken your heart and walked all over it. Even if you broke up with me, that was no excuse to flirt with every boy in front of you, try to make you jealous, or tempt you.
Sorry for thinking that we need to tempt you in order to get your attention, especially when that attention is already on someone else.
I'm sorry for thinking that men who care don't exist, while pressuring you to be the tough ones.
I'm sorry for thinking that you didn't have feelings.
Thank you, brothers, for being such men. Thank you for treating us right, for treating us like princesses and for holding us when we cry. Thank you for how blatant and honest you are with us. Thank you for the genuine smiles, and the laughs that we share. Thank you for trying to be the best man you can be.
I'm just sorry we don't treat you better.
These Dancing Daughters of the King

Friday, March 9, 2012

Get Over It

Today is official "Get Over It" Day.

Really. Just type it into Google, and you will come up with March 9th as the official "Get Over It" day. Now, let's be honest, we all have things we should probably just get over. Just be done with them and move on.

I understand: Sometimes it can be difficult to find something to get over. Therefore, I decided to make a list of all of the things that you could get over (if you can't come up with them on your own, of course). I can promise you will find something to get over today.
  • A recent break up
  • Failing a test
  • Getting in trouble at home for something you did
  • Losing a big game for your team
  • Getting pulled over on your way to something important
  • Getting a concussion
  • Losing your phone, iPod, or other fancy gadget
  • Wrecking your car
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Someone calling you a not-so-nice name
  • Putting down a dear pet
  • Technology not working
  • Being late to class
  • Not getting Manning as the Broncos quaterback
  • An ugly picture of you posted on Facebook
  • A not-so-recent breakup
  • Missing one point on a quiz
  • Accidentally killing the fly that landed on your desk
  • Losing a bobby pin
  • Getting a paper cut on your pinkie
  • The ending of The Hunger Games
  • Having your chips stolen. In second grade.
  • Your sibling eating the last cookie
  • Missing breakfast
  • Not having enough shoes
  • Not having enough followers on twitter
  • Not being able to reach the popcorn from the very comfortable position you are in
  • Finding out that Tim Tebow and Taylor Swift are dating
  • The bad hair day you had in September
  • The AWFUL school picture from 7th grade
  • When communists arrive in the summer house
  • The death of your three times removed second aunt's birthmom's pet goldfish
  • The fact that you are paler than the moon
  • Reading this obnoxious post, which you though would be very serious
  • Your best friend calling you "mom" on accident
  • Being stuck behind the ice cream truck in traffic
  • Having Friday by Rebecca Black stuck in your head
If you have any more ideas, feel free to tweet them to me @MadeleineIs3rd with hashtag #getoverit. :) Any more, and we will include them in another piece.

Now go out there, and GET OVER IT!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Just a Boy

This is a song I wrote in the summer of 2011. I found it in some old stuff, and thought I'd share.

I was falling down
Stumbling on my own way.
Thought I knew it all,
But then came the day:

I fell too far,
For something that wouldn't last.
But God picked me up
In His love that's deep and vast.

See you're just a boy
Who's never been mine.
But I've got my God
To keep me satisfied.

Now, each day gets better,
But each day still hurts.
Just know that I'm healing,
I can't get worse.

'Cuz you're just a boy
Who's never been mine.
But I've got my God,
To keep me satisfied.

I've moved on,
My heart's been made pure.
I don't need you now
And I won't cry anymore.

See, you're just a boy
Who's never been mine.
But I've got my God,
And I'll be just fine.

Have you ever listened to Ooh Ahh by Grits? If not, I recommend that you do. Right now. I'm a huge fan.
Anyways, In the song, there is a line,
The fear of never falling in love and the tears after losing the feeling of what you thought love was.
Last Summer, that was what I felt like. I cried pointless tears over a guy who dumped me because I thought that I had lost "love." I felt like I'd never be whole again, and a part of me would always be missing. The pain I felt in my heart burdened me and brought me down. One day, though, while just playing around on the piano, it hit me. I felt better than I had the day before. I was gonna be alright. There, in my moment of revelation, this song was born. After I had finished it, I felt lighter knowing that I didn't need that boy in order to be happy. I found the true love of God which was enough to keep me fully satisfied.

It has a tune and stuff, but I don't have the ability or talent to record and/or post. Sorry team!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something of freedom

Maybe it's selfish of me to not accept love and grace. I know it's a human thing too, that we don't see the love He has for us as readily, which is dumb because there's way more and it's way better. But maybe in my own head, in my own thoughts, I think I'm not ok enough to love. That somehow He can love everyone else fully and deeply but when He gets to me, He only has the tail end of it like the bruised end of a banana or He's completely out. Maybe it's the broken promises, the loneliness, or the silence, but somehow that's what I expect. I don't mind being second; people are welcome to go first- I don't need to push. It's a you-then-me family around here.

"Now You pull me near You
When we're close I fear You
Still I'm afraid to tell you all that I've done

Are You done forgiving
Or can You look past my pretending, Lord
I'm so tired of defending what I've become
What have I become?"

But I can't let that get into my relationship with Daddy. I'm not the last one in a handout line.

I'm standing atop Mount Sinai or Mount Carmel or even just Sugarloaf, enveloped in His fiery presence. It's just us. I'm a little awed and a little ashamed. I feel so undeserving. What have I done to get here? I don't remember the journey up here, the sacrifices I had to make. I just know I'm here. And as much as the journey matters, I seem to think that right now is all that's gonna matter right now. Like my past and present don't exist. All the shortcomings I know I had, all the times I fell flat on my face, all the good moments when I did what I was supposed to too- they're all just not there. Something in me wants to ask who I am without a past and future. But something in me knows it's going to be ok.
You're mine.
A voice doesn't echo in the silence that buzzes anyways. It resounds in me. It digs into my core and buries itself there. It stripped off all the lies and the secrets and shame a long time ago and now it settles at my very core. The layers have been peeled back and my tender heart seems to beat way to quickly, way too loudly. But even that doesn't scare Him away. My shame and fear are staked a little ways away at the feet of a man who is bleeding and broken, but stands taller than I do by half a foot. And His presence speaks volumes.
The man's smile breaks like sunset and lights up everything equally and better. I don't turn in shame; I can't. The man holds every shame and fear that I had on leashes. They're awful creatures that aren't quite alive, and it hurts to look at them, but I'm caught up in this man's smile anyways. I don't known his face or who he is, but I have a small hunch that this is the Master of the wind and waves and of me.
I don't think I've ever run as fast or as hard in my life to Him, and I don't think I've ever felt as whole. My past doesn't come back to me, so I can't reference that. But I feel the Dream of Eden in me- that of perfect love with Daddy. I don't know how to explain it really, and don't feel a need for once to explain anything. Because I get the feeling that this man knows. That there is nothing he doesn't know. I think he knows more than I do, honestly. My beast of fear reacts, but it's not me anymore.
We stand on a cliff. All day wouldn't be enough with this man, but I don't have much of a sense of time anyways right now. The wind blows around this cliff. It's strong and scary and I think I might fall, except the man has me firmly. We look down at the circling dark that swirls around a beautiful world. The dark is in and overwhelming the beauty, but the beauty fights back to her best. The man explains that he's going to go down and fix it soon. I believe that. When we look to the other side, we see a dark place. From down below, the entire place would appear a bit like Vegas downtown- glitzy, shiny, promising, and chipping to show the fake. But from up here, all we can see is a city of darkness- of shame and fear and lies and worthlessness. This city is so built on everyone in the beautiful world as much as it's built on it's own inhabitants. The man gestures to my beasts. I won't be needing them.

"We are his portion
And he is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So heaven meats earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart burns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
He loves us"

They are not like puppies. They tempt me to cuddle them and hide them away like I have before. I know better this time. The man holds the first on still and I kick it as hard as I can into that dark city. Back to where it came from. I don't need it. Then the next and the next and the next. The man smiles broadly. It was almost a scary prospect to surrender those with his help, but it feels so good.
Gone are the doubts. Gone are the fears. Gone are the thoughts that I don't matter. That I'm not pretty enough. That I need to do more in order to be loved.
Now, I'm standing with him again. This time he's smiling again at me, but something's different. His smile seems sadder. He hugs me and then turns and walks to where a cross is resting. I hadn't noticed it. Shouldering it, he starts walking.
Come on; join me.
I do. I want to help him. Maybe he is the strongest person in the world, but somehow I feel the need to carry that cross up that steep hill too. Then I realize it's not his cross. That man carried his cross many many years ago in his surrender. Now it's my turn- he's carrying mine. I'm just responsible for it too in ways. So we start the journey up that hill. It's not easy and I trip and stumble, but my Daddy loves me very much and protects me from the pain.

"Life is waiting for you
And life I have given to you
Tell me what else can I do
What more have I left to prove?
That I am what you need
Still I will hold on to your heart
Through the chaos and the dark
When your eyes fail to see
So what are you waiting for?

On and on we go
Come love take my hand
On and on we go
As you run away again
On and on we go
Back to where this all began"

Friday, February 3, 2012

This is goodbye, I hope

Sometimes goodbye is a second chance.

Maybe not a chance like Winnie the Pooh would have wanted....
"Goodbye? Oh, no, please. Can’t we go back to page one and do it all over again?"

I'm sorry, Pooh, we can't. But sometimes goodbye is a second chance at life. Maybe it's just a second chance to breathe. To redevelop something in you that was choked by what used to be.

And goodbye doesn't have to be to a boy or a girl. Maybe goodbye is saying goodbye to what should never have been. A habit? An addiction? A broken thought process? When we say goodbye to what was holding us down, we say goodbye to a little chain that kept us tethered, something that didn't let us from flying free, something that didn't let us live the Christian life we were supposed to.

A note: when I say "Christian life," your mind might automatically zoom to the place that says "Christian lifestyle= vanilla, boring, average goody-goody life, shiny cars and Jesus music." Can you, just for a moment (though ideally for longer), put that mentality to the side? Can you see the life-changing effect that Christ has? Can you see the freedom and the joy that come from life in Christ? Can you breathe in a little whiff of how good that life is?
24-7 Prayer International has a Vision statement that answers the question, "What is the Vision?." The poem was written late one night as part of the first-ever 24-7 prayer event by a man just trying to work out his life. Part of it reads:
"The vision is an army of young people.
You see bones? I see an army. And they are FREE from materialism.
They laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday. They wouldn't even notice. They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won. They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They need no passport.. People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence. They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying. What is the vision ? The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure."

Does that sound like the stereotypical "go to church, do your job, go home, pretend everything is fine and listen to soft music all the time" Christian? Not to me. It sounds like pure missions. Like serving the One who asks only that of us. It sounds free and beautiful.

Goodbye means that we can let go of what we used to clutch so dearly. That we can now breathe deeply of His presence and take His hand. That we give up the crutches of relationships, of problems, of hatred and drama, of grudges, of addictions, of old habits, and we run to Him. We let go of the old and take hold of the new.

But when we do, the Enemy will absolutely, 100% attack us. Here's something that shouldn't be a radical thought, but somewhat blows my mind: Satan hates you.

Not only that, but he will do everything he can to destroy you. To take you down. To make you feel isolated, worthless, and unworthy of love. That's his goal.

But you know what? The war is already won. Our Daddy fought that fight and won already (Exodus 14:14) and will if we need help. But there are everyday battles. The choice to go latch on to your ex. The choice to say that word. Those words. The choice to smile at her, to say hi to him, to be helpful, to complain or not, to lift someone up or cut them down. Those little battles. The ones with yourself are hard too. You have that choice to believe that you are wonderful. That you are beautiful, that you are uniquely and wonderfully made. That you are loved, freed, held close, and known. That God doesn't just love you, He likes you, He's proud of you, He wants to spend time with you.

I'm learning this slowly. I'm learning that I don't have to accept the lies of "you're worthless," "you're not enough," or "no one likes you." I'm learning what the voice of my Daddy sounds like, and I'm learning what goodbye means.

And sometimes, it's a hard goodbye, but when I finally make a clean break with it, I find that peace and freedom that I'm called to live in. And that gives me hope.

Your challenge for the week (if you want):
Find one thing you need to say goodbye to. Just one lie that makes it harder for you to see Daddy (a note: He can always see you, but sometimes it's just hard to see Him and what He thinks of you). Take that lie and find some Truth to combat it, and remind yourself of it every day. Every single day, as many times as that lie comes up.

Goodbye to that lie. (teehee rhyming.)

Prayers and love!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forgive and Forget

Sometimes people hurt us in the worst ways possible. Mostly for girls, this is through mean gossip, words written on the wall, a snide comment, a hurtful text, and so many other things. Often times we sit in our own self-pity, and just hold in anger to the person who hurt us like that.
Just imagine for a second, that your closest friend just decides to turn their back on you. This person hurts you in the WORST ways possible. They go as far as to betray you. Would you forgive them, ever? Probably not.
The thing is, there was this guy. His best friend sold him to people who wanted him dead. Once those people had killed him, the man who sold him felt awful. He had just wronged his close friend. But the funny thing was, he was already forgiven. The guy who was so unjustifiably betrayed, his name was Jesus. Before he died he forgave those who wronged him, and through his death and forgiveness, others were able to get into heaven. Even after hurting God over and over with out sins, we can get into heaven.
If we have such a Merciful Savior, who forgives even those who SELL Him away, why don't we forgive? How come we find it so hard to forgive those who have hurt us in some way?

Trust me, I understand it isn't easy. I KNOW it's not. I have harbored hurt before, and gripped anger. I have stared at a bathroom wall that screamed, "You aren't good enough," and "You are worthless." The worst part, it was directed right. At. Me. In the beginning, I was so full of anger to this vandal. And it's true, I shed too many tears over it. But through some of my very closest friends and mentors I was reminded of that one thing:
Forgiveness. Even if you don't believe in God or Jesus, forgiveness is sooo appealing. It's a chance to start over and erase all mistakes. Every time I mess up (which is often...) I hope that someone will forgive me for hurting them.

Through all of this trial, I have come to not only forgive whoever this is, but forget it. What happened is a thing of the past, and although it's still saved as a memory it is neither a good thing, nor a bad thing.
I wish I could forgive this person to their face, but I do not know who it is. But to anyone who has ever hurt me on purpose,
I forgive you.
With love,