it’s okay to dream

Inspired by a Delta car ride home and a post shared on my favorite blog, Phylicia Delta.

water-sunset-nature-winter-season-snow-1680x1050-hd-wallpaper

March 6, 2014

Spring break began today, and I must say that I am very excited to be home.

One the ride here, I watched the fields– dark mounds of mud in extreme contrast to the bright glaze of ice– and I could not help but marvel at the magnitude of beauty. Beauty is too overused– the word is meant for moments when the mind has no ability to describe what the eyes and heart behold.

The view stirred my heart. As I watched flocks of geese glide through the baby blue sky, and I saw why poets are a little obsessed at times. Nature is more than art; it’s a tangible masterpiece.

As I observe the small wooden country houses with wrap-around porches and dogs chasing children, who giggle until they can’t breathe, I imagine the what lies ahead. Imagining might be my favorite pastime.

I dream of a white wooden wrap-around-porch home with a family of my own. I wake up, work a hard day as an engineer or doctor or missionary or mother or whatever else Jesus is calling me to be. I imagine being a good steward of every blessing He pours out, giving gifts to family, and investing in the church. I dream of sunny afternoons and teaching little ones to ride bikes and blow bubbles. I imagine adopting children and making them my own. I imagine telling my children about all that Jesus has done for all of humanity. I tell them that He died because He loved each and every one of us that much– and that He is coming again, and that one day we will be fully separated from every evil and completely surrounded by His love and grace. I imagine describing to them how we get to participate in bringing Heaven to Earth, how He is reconciling all of creation to Himself at this very moment, how we have the honor of being a tiny part of His great masterpiece. I imagine caring, cooking, cleaning, caressing, and all that comes with careers and homes and such. I imagine a house with guitars, laughter, love, a welcoming spirit, and hope of life through Christ.

And it all sounds a little silly and fairy-tale-like, but does it not seem so wonderful?

I have realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting these things. God created humans to imitate His glory, and His glory includes loving and laughing and hoping and singing and praising and building and imagining good things. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desire for more of God’s blessings. He wants us to embrace his miracles. We were made to enjoy companionship with God and others.

It’s so freeing to know that we were made to enjoy his blessings and what He has in store. 

It’s okay to dream.

There’s nothing wrong with desire and hope.

But I can’t sit around just waiting to be a career woman or for a family or a house; I have to live and embrace life now as well!

I can also be joyful in and grateful for my current, numerous blessings!

I have a loving family, a wonderful education, amazing friends, a cozy dorm room, a million precious memories, plenty of laughter to go around, and a God who calls me His own. He rejoices over me with singing and gladness.

My heart is presently full with His many blessings, and my cup overflows with abundance.

But there will always be a natural longing for more, more, more as long as we are on this Earth because we were made for perfect communion with the Father, without separation from His love.

Don’t be quick to worry: a day is coming soon where every thirst for something more, more, more will be quenched far beyond our imagination.

So yes, I long for future blessings.

But I am also so very content with my present treasures. I am at peace with the beauty of now and dreams of the future because I have hope in a Jesus who will fulfill His promises of this life and a world to come.

It’s okay to be joyful now.

And it’s okay to dream.

” I will exalt you, my God the King.

I will praise Your name for ever and ever.

Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord and most worth of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

One generation will commend your works to another;  they will tell of your mighty acts.

They will speak of the glorious splendor of you majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.

All You have made will praise You, O Lord; Your saints will extol You.

They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your might so that all men may know of Your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is faithful to all His promises, and loving toward all He has made.

The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.

You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

He fullfills the desires of those who fear Him; he hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord watches over all who love him, but the wicked He will destroy.

My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.

Let every living creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.

– Psalm 145

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worshipping while working

(Shout-out to my dad, who shared the family data plan with me, which allowed me to post this blog from my dorm room. 🙂 )

quote

Have you ever felt guilty?

Ha ha— psych! I know that answer to that already.

It’s cool, me too.

And particularity for Christians, we feel the constant guilt of not doing, being, reading, or praying enough.

So the other day I realized something:

Every day life can be worship.

I mean, I’ve heard it a lot, but it just hit home, you know?

So this has been my resolution for this new year (and all the years to follow!): to view every aspect of life as an opportunity for worship.

Even my slumbering and hustling and bustling are worship if I allow them to be. A constant reminder that boring pieces of the day can be used to fulfill a greater purpose gives me reason to offer my heart and circumstances to God in whatever part of my day.

Viewing everyday life as worship produces passion, purpose, and freedom in the mundane.

Example:

I am sitting in class listening to Dr. Mustache preach on chemiosmosis through the fancy-smancy lipid-bilayer of some cellular membrane of a eukaryotic cell.

Fun, right?

So I’m about to give up, because really.

But then I remind myself: listening to my teacher, and working hard in this class is worship. Because as I give Dr. Mustache my attention, the minute decision to respect my teacher glorifies God.

I think that’s pretty cool. I’m worshipping God by simply choosing to respect my teacher.

That gives me purpose in everyday life! Sometimes we just need that, ya know? There is a sense of purpose behind everything we put the slightest effort into.

And when I take out the trash, console a crying friend, or help Bobby with the lab report, it’s all for Jesus!

And that makes me pretty passionate about this whole living thing. Because Jesus is a pretty cool guy to live for.

My personal favorite part, though, is freedom.

I often feel guilty because I have only “given God” maybe fifteen minutes of devotional one day.

Or maybe I completely forget about my devotional.

Or maybe the day is packed, because you have so many responsibilities, and we are called to be in constant prayer and continuous glorification to God, but it’s just hard to fit all of that glorification into only day. 

I know how that feels. God says He is pleased with his “good and faithful servant” but I don’t feel so good and faithful today. I feel like a failure and defeated by the clock and responsibilities today. In fact, I really feel like a failure thinking about last (almost) eighteen years if I realize how much I “haven’t given.”

But that’s a lie, and the truth sets us free, guys.

The truth says that yes, God calls us to be in His word everyday (Psalm 1:2), pray endlessly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and glorify Him in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31).

And the truth says that it is possible, and you might have done it when you didn’t even realize!

When we realize that everyday life is worship, we don’t have to life in shame or guilt because “we can’t give enough of our lives to God.”

When we realize worship is the purpose of everyday life, we are motivated to live like Christ.

When we realize that we make choices everyday to glorify our Father in the mundane, we don’t have to live with the burden of “not giving enough.”

We give Him our lives and hearts by making the decision to choose to love through small actions such as washing dishes, signing checks, packing the lunches, working out, listening to a friend, etc.

If we only allow ourselves to constantly praise God, then it is possible.

The opportunity for daily worship is there.

God promised us He will provide, and He has provided this life.

We just must allow worship to be a part of it all. We must choose it. We aim to must remember the reason we walk our dogs and go to work or school. We must aim to remember that worship is not confined to a sanctuary or chapel.

And I pray that we realize this!

I believe that if we realize that every piece of every day is worship when we choose to love and not grumble, then our lives will be filled with passion, purpose, and freedom. And a result of this, we will look a little more like Christ with every decision.

And that’s the goal, right? To look more like Christ everyday?

That’s my new year’s resolution, and I pray that it’s the same for you.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” – Romans 12:1

“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’ but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Graham Kendrick

“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” Psalm 71:8

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

To clarify: I’m not saying that every single second of every single day that we are going to bring glory to God. We are going fail and sin—a lot! And that’s okay! Otherwise, we would have no need for Him. But aiming to look more like Him and live free of shame and guilt is Christianity lived out.

 I’m also not denoting the importance of corporate worship, daily meditation, or prayer. Those practices are very vital (1 Timothy 4:13, 1 Thes. 5:17, Joshua 1:8), and they fuel and guide us in daily worship! However, it is important that we remember worship is not confined to only hymns and publicly speaking the Word.

– Mary Madeline

my life– not

choice

“Where are you going to college?”

“What do you want to be?”

“Do you want to swim in college?”

“What majors are you thinking about?”

“When do you graduate?”

“Where do you want to live?”

Teenagers out there– can I get an amen?

So maybe this isn’t every teenager’s thoughts and frequently-asked questions.

Maybe while I’m being a nerd of a teenager at math and science school, most other teenagers are thinking about their hot-date on Saturday night or the score of the Friday-night football game.

But in general, there are plenty of us who are so overwhelmed with the future and the options that it all seems to merge together, and sometimes I’d rather just work at Taco Bell and forget all that geriatric doctor or engineer or surgeon nonsense.

So as I am running the other day, I think about all the things I want to be, see, do.

And something stops me in my tracks:

When did my life become about me?

I realize that there is often a serious problem with the way I look at my life…

I look at it as mine.

I wake up in the morning in my bed and see my friends and my coffee and my grades and my house and my family and my shoes and my this and my that…. my life.

Since when did I have the authority to call this life mine?

It’s not.

A life is lived for myself– it’s such a waste. And I don’t want to waste my life on myself.

I want to live for something greater, something so much more wonderful than anything I could ever do or make or see or touch or taste.

I want to live for Jesus.

Because anything I do outside of Christ– it’s all dust. It will fade. It dry out. It will die. It will never be enough.

But Jesus– He is forever.

Because my human hands can never touch hearts. My hands are small and meek and inadequate without intervention.

But Jesus– He is able.

Because a life lived for myself is pointless.

But a life lived for Him– that’s real living.

When I realize that my life is not about me, then comes freedom, peace, and joy.

Freedom comes by realizing that I am free of my sin. I am free of the constant struggle of measuring up and meeting the mark. I am free of selfish desires and a heart that will never be satisfied.

Peace comes by knowing that there is a God who will measure up. There is a God who loves me. There is a God who is worth my praise, my humble works, my life.

Joy comes by knowing that this God has chosen to love me. He allows me to be liberated of myself and my darkness. He gives me a life worth living. And I am so thankful for that.

So my prayer is that these verses would be true in my life.

“He must increase, I must decrease.” – John 3:30

“But whatever was profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” – Philippians 3: 7-9

You are not your own; you were bought at a price” – 1 Corinthians 19b-20a

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” – Act 20:24

So one day I might be a gastroenterologist, missionary, Taco Bell manager, housekeeper, whatever.

But I pray that in everything– whether family, work, play, etc.– that Christ is the center.

Because at the end of this life, it doesn’t matter who I was or what I did or how I impacted others… (and I’m so glad, because I won’t measure up)

It’s about love poured out. It’s about Him. He is the alpha, omega, beginning, and end.

And I so honored that He would choose to work through my little hands in this big life.

– Mary Madeline

Who do you say I am?

Jesus.

Who is he?

The baby born of a virgin in a barn with filthy animals who kings traveled endless miles to praise and who angels worshiped.

The man, who after 2,000 years is still made present in this world.

The man who healed the blind with mud made from his spit.

The man who causes demons to tremble at the whisper of his name.

The one who is greater than the temple.

The man who walked on water.

The only person to live a blameless life.

The one who, after performing the impossible in the name of God, as God, the world still hated so much that he was crucified and willingly took upon all the shame and dirtiness of the world because he so yearned his people to know him.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is love poured out.

He is the reason I live. He is the rhythm to my heart beat. Without him, I will suffocate under the weight of this world. Without him, I will always be searching for something more, but I will never be fully satisfied. This is the same for every soul. Without Jesus this life is death, but with Jesus, death turns to life.

So to the believer—- keep believing. Hold on to Jesus. And to the unbeliever—- believe. Jesus is so immensely greater than anything this world, any “god”, any person can offer. He is beyond all imagination and comprehension. And He loves you and us jealous for you to be completely and ultimately satisfied in His great love.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is life.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
-Matthew 16:13-16

jesus is

the anchor to my soul

It’s been a while since I have last posted.

I mean, my posts are usually about once a month.  I don’t plan it that way; it just happens, but it seems that I skipped October.

It was probably because I was so caught up in swimming and school that “I didn’t have time for Jesus.”

That is absolutely sad.

So in this dry period, I must say that I have not felt like a Christian in the past month or two.

I have not felt like being loving or compassionate or gracious or giving or caring….. and I hate it.

Isn’t it spectacular?  I hate it.  That is exactly what gives me hope.

Romans 7:11-25 “And it is no longer myself, but sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I have felt overwhelmed with worldly and selfish desires.  These unholy desires come from within my sinful nature…. and I hate them, but I continue to do them. Paul is saying exactly what I feel.

(Amen, brother Paul.)

There is so much hope for me in this verse though.  I hate what I do. It sickens me.  I want God so much more than I want myself.

Psalm 97:10 – “Let those who love the Lord hate evil.”

I hate my evil.  My inborn evil; I hate it, and once again I say: this gives me hope.

Hope that I am a Christian, because sometimes I don’t feel like it.

Hope that God is close to me, because sometimes I don’t believe it.

Hope that one day I will be restored to Him, because I long for righteousness.

I’m not saying I feel less dirty, but I know God has cleansed me. I know this full and well. I pray that I will, and all others will know this more and more everyday. It is the anchor to my soul; without it, I would sink.

it’s not my life

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

This verse has spoke volumes to me within the last week.  I always am drifting off to the the summarizing thought of “What would make me the most happy?”  Really, think about it. Is that not the center of our sinful, human hearts? What will make me happy, what will please me today…  And it seems to me that God is trying to point us from south to north by saying, “I can give you happiness. Just give up yourself.  Give up your life for me.”

God doesn’t give us a simple 7-step “stress-free life” or self-help book, because He knows that we are helpless on our own, that we will drown in the pursuit of our own happiness.  He knows that we need his eternal Spirit to interceed for us when we are breathless. (Romans 8:26)  He knows and LOVES us.  It’s truly, radically, crazily amazing.  Instead, he gives us a simple truth that sets us free… we are nothing without Him. Our life is worthless. And He sends a the holy word that shows us grace and true love that is vast beyond all measures, vast even beyond our own sin.

Honestly, God is so right.  My own selfish heart keeps tugging at my heart, but God is fighting in an abandonded pursuit of me, and I know that He will never stop pursuing me, as long as I live on this Earth.  As I struggle with the body in the flesh, I hold on to this promise, until my heart beats its last time.

When we lose our life for Jesus… we find it.  We see the unseen, we fight the good fight, and in a dark world, we shine a light of hope.

open eyes

I could definitely say that my life has taken a U-turn in the last few months.  In March of 2012, I  went to St. Louis, Missouri with my youth group. I was expecting maybe an hour… stretching  to two hours of “Jesus-talk,” but mostly a “good time.”  Plans did not go as expected.  Each day was a crazy new adventure.  From the moment we woke up, we were committed to service.  Every day was an challenge to heal broken hearts, tend to the widow, love the homeless, give hope the hopeless.  Even if it meant raking leaves in the inner-city, or hanging out with homeless people.  And get this— we actually enjoyed it.  Together, we learned more about God and ourselves than we ever expected. We learned how dead we are to our sins.  But also, how jealous God is for hearts of sinners like us. We would stay up past midnight talking, singing, crying, praising, and laughing, only to wake up at 6:30 every morning. It was life-changing.  Not just changing lanes either, but totally different highways.

We could not keep it to ourselves.  Such love calls us to spread the news, and we couldn’t help but do exactly that!  We were on fire for Christ (and still are.)  It turned out, that we were actually dead to our sin.. BUT by God’s great mercy and love for sinners like us, he gave us eternal righteousness.  A newness of life, as long as we trusted Him with that life.

However, trusting Him with my life had alot more that met the eye.  Everyday, I discover how dirty I am. I discovered the selfishness of the human nature. But the more I notice my sin, the greater God’s grace looked.  It is breath-taking.  Such abounding, indelible love however, calls me to radical abandonment.  I cannot simply sit in the pue every Sunday morning, listen to the words, and not allow it to change who I am.

Such love calls me to serve others, to give something of myself.  To sacrifice.  It calls me to love others more than I love myself.  Everyday, I am challenge to deny myself, and take up the cross. (Luke 9:23)

And in that, I have never found greater joy.