control

con·trol
kənˈtrōl/Submit
noun 1.the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

verb
1.determine the behavior or supervise the running of.

Raise your hand if you’d prefer to supervise the running of your life?

For so long my knuckles were white wrapped around anything they could find. Anything I could find that would give me some sense of control. Control over where my life was headed or what opinions were formed of me in the back of someone’s head.

Where did we ever buy the lie that life is best when it’s left in our hands, when we can control it? When it’s tame and small and within our grasp? We like life our size. God laughs and says, “why? life is meant to be God-sized.”

Why have we settled for mediocre dreams that can be controlled and let ourselves believe that it is foolish and unrealistic to do something with our lives that might not be covered under an insurance policy? Something that might involve a risk. Something that might involve a rejection.

In our minds what is held in our hands is safe. We have to realize that the only full life is one that isn’t held by ourselves. The only full life and dream and heart is one that is in His hands, and it is anything but safe. That means things are way out of our control. That means life is so much crazier than what we can come up with. That means that a lot of our stereotypes and expectations have to be shattered.

Take one thing from this: the most dangerous place your life and dreams could be is in your own hands.

His life for us is so much bigger than the lives we have planned for ourselves. Fuller, deeper, more abundant, and riskier. It’s frightening and peaceful and chaotic and confusing and beautiful.

We’ve settled for less in thinking we have to live contained and controlled. We’ve cheated ourselves by holding on to what should be in His hands. And until it’s all back where it belongs, we’ll keep running in circles.

No amount of control is ever going to fill a heart that keeps wanting more. Because control and safety and certainty is not the answer. The answer is you do not know, and that’s the point. The answer is that the very essence of life’s beauty is its mystery. The answer is, that it is way out of your control.

And that is the best possible situation you could be in. Completely surrendered. Completely “not” in control. Completely given over to the God of all the Universe who is writing a story for you that is anything but ordinary and contained.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t do ordinary things. It just means He has called you to do that ordinary, mundane, scheduled stuff in an extraordinary way. It means that you will never find His unexplainable joy in safety and in sameness. He will break your walls down. He will ruin your version of comfort. He will set you on fire with a longing to be anywhere but in the driver’s seat. He is going to use you, I know it. But you have to realize that the greatest gift He will ever give you, is to make you realize that you control nothing. Sometimes that’s painful. Sometimes it hurts way harder than you think it should. But it is always worth it.

No, you are not in control. And for the record, that is the best place to be.

passion 2017.

 

Passion was incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like it. There’s a lot that I don’t want to forget from those few days. & so I’m writing them here so I can always go back and  read them over and over. I don’t want to come “down from the mountain” and live unchanged.

Our hearts get puffed up when we simply learn more stuff. Words can enter our heads and never sink into our hearts. I want the passion behind this movement- behind the words spoken and the praises proclaimed-to saturate my life. Hearing a powerful message is one thing. Living it is another. The disjunct between truth and the tendency to live by feelings is life’s great battle. One we will fight, and one we will win, in Him. So some reminders wouldn’t hurt.

passion17

C h r i s t i n e   C a i n e

We don’t need more gifts or talent, we need endurance. God isn’t going to pull us out of uncomfortable circumstances. No, endurance stays. We need to stay. Be present. Push through whatever we face. We need to endure and we can because of Christ.

You have to lay aside what is holding you back. The weights and sins that are keeping you from the presence of Christ. Lay them down & run to Him. Stop competing and start being faithful to God right where He has you. He isn’t looking at your success compared to someone else, He is looking for faithfulness.

Don’t believe the lie that what you do today doesn’t matter. Where you set your heart today-during these years-will determine the course of the rest of your life. Yes it will look different and no you may not win man’s approval. Your heart is your compass right now. Set it straight to Christ. Look up, it’s all about Jesus.

J o h n    P i p e r

The essence of evil is to lose a taste for God and to prefer anything more than God. Eve delighted more in what the fruit could do for her than what God could do for her. You have to get beyond the commandments to the reality, that the ultimate essence of evil is when you taste the glory of God and you want to trade it.

Until you see and hate evil, you will perpetually dumb down the majesty of God. The greatness of God is magnified when you are satisfied in Him. Guard your heart, and fight the battle. The battle for satisfaction in your God.

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F r a n c i s   C h a n

One of the most destructive things we can do is to rely on our own thoughts. We need to stop believing everything we think and valuing our own thoughts more than God’s. Get outside your own head.

We can’t believe everything we feel either. Pray for the Spirit of Revelation. Pray for His thoughts. Get alone with God and empty out your own thoughts and feelings. Exchange them for His. In short, tell yourself to shut up.

L o u i   G i g l i o

Jesus did not come so that we could get some of Him, He came so we could have all. The cross is devastatingly beautiful because it is the only place where the dead come to life. It cancels our guilt and shame.

Never again walk unworthy in this world. The story of the victim ended at the cross, and the story of the victor began in the empty tomb.

L e v i   L u s k o

It takes endurance to spread the fragrance of Christ. To make fragrance, you have to be crushed. Courage is contagious. Fear is faith in the enemy. Confidence inspires confidence.

Jeremiah was a man destined for impact. He didn’t just save you from hell, He saved you to shake the gates of hell. Ministry starts at home. Where you are right now. How will you be faithful somewhere else if you cannot be faithful with what you have been given?

The only way to get to your destiny is through difficulty and discouragement. You need to be challenged and reminded of the calling on your life. We must train for the trial that will come.

It is an honor to be trusted with pain. God puts to use what He puts you through. Would you be willing to be broken for Him to bring His purpose to the world? Jesus always breaks the bread before He multiplies it. We have to lean in to the breaking.

Quit relying on willpower, you have God’s power.

 

dear 2016; thank you

2016,

If I could change anything about you I don’t think I would.

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This year, I met my insecurities. They walked up and introduced themselves to me. I learned their first names and then I quickly learned I didn’t want to keep company with them for long. I saw them for what they really are-liars. Frauds. Deceivers.

Once I met those insecurities the blindfold fell from my eyes. I could see, and what was even more beautiful? I could dance. I could run free. I could sing and my heart could swell. My heart could ache and my heart could rejoice. Yet in all of that, I could actually live, no longer held back by lies that had become my heart’s reality.

Because fear can really drag the life out of you if you let those insecurities convince you it’s worth your time of day.

The freedom came when I realized that it wasn’t worth my time of day.

It’s a lie and my soul learned the shattering reality of freedom.

2016, you taught me what I love to do.

When those insecurtities were no longer welcome here, a purpose came flooding in. Purpose was a welcomed guest. It still is. I embraced it, and it set my soul on fire. I’ve welcomed it in, and now I have a lifetime to get acquainted with it. There is room. So much room. Room for that purpose to fill up my heart’s home. And room to learn about that purpose for the rest of my life.

I learned what sets my heart on fire. That somehow by putting down my messy thoughts into words and sentences and paragraphs I can lay out what is on my heart. I learned that I may not love speaking my thoughts, but I crave the freedom of writing it.

I didn’t just meet my purpose this year. I met a few others. I met myself. My shell was cracked. I learned to loosen up. The girl who cared so very much about what people thought is still a little part of me, but nothing like the girl whose heart was lit with the sparklers of self-doubt at the beginning of 2016. I have learned confidence. Not in me-but in the fact that a perfect King makes no mistakes. That he declares my timid voice bold, my wavering faith strong, and my insufficient works enough.

You taught me that it’s ok to not be in the same place everyone else is. You taught me to give myself time to grow and realize that other people might have figured out who they are in this world in high school. I might be a bit late. But that’s ok. I learned to give myself time.

I learned that there’s a reason for where I am. There’s a divine piece of glory in this mundane daily grind. There’s overflowing grace in an overflowing schedule. There’s so much more than grades or numbers of approval.

There’s a lot of myself left in me that I don’t love. But with every crack of brokenness that has shattered me this year a little more of my God has flooded in, and a joy has filled me like never before.

2016 pulled back the curtains and let the light shine in.

It’s the taste of freedom and purpose I have experienced.

That’s what this year brought me, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

There were days I was so happy with my little world and days I hated it with all of my heart. My faith faltered. I questioned and doubted. I came back to Him. I ran again. And I always found His arms open and waiting for me.

I used to despise the uncomfortable, but you taught me that the uncomfortable days make a way for joy. And now I know, I am right where I am supposed to be.

Thank you for teaching me how to feel, how to live, and how to know a joy so deep and wide nothing can compare. I love this life.

I’m forever in love with you Jesus. Keep me in awe, not just of your goodness this year, but how you sustain my every breath.

Retreat

I rolled over this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. So the house is quiet and no one else is up. It’s not that early, it’s just the holidays. I logged on to type some words because I couldn’t find my book. And then I saw the “daily prompt.” Retreat.

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Naturally, I clicked on Merriam Webster online and looked it up. The first definition read

a (1) : an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable

Saturday night the pastor’s words stuck in my head.”We are in this world but not of it. And God saved us from the world to send us back out into the world.”

I’ll admit that scares me. I would much rather retreat. I’m an introvert who tends to quit on resolutions and difficulties easily. I really like what I’m already comfortable with. But sometimes I think I it’s simply that I’m afraid of showing up to my own life. Most of the time I retreat because I’m afraid of what could hurt me.

I think we all do it from time to time. Holding back because if we gave more it might take a part of us. We’ve covered up our beautiful ability to feel pain because we’ve started to believe that certain emotions show weakness.

I’m more and more convinced that we have to let ourselves feel the highs and the lows. We have to know pain in order to know joy. To know a loneliness somewhere so deep that we can feel an acceptance and love so full. I think maybe life is that way. We cannot know what we are missing until we taste what we never want to miss again. 

Retreat is easier. But it makes life boring.

If you want your life to count for something? Make it your mission to quit retreating from the purpose you’ve been given.

That’s my one goal for this next year, to stop thinking I can come up with a better purpose for myself than the one I’ve already been given. To stop quitting on life and to start showing up. Not because I’m not scared, but because I am scared. And bravery doesn’t mean the fear goes away, it simply means you do it inspire of the fear that might linger.

New years resolutions can pile up and then you forget what you really want to change. So don’t change so many things. Change one thing that will change everything.

Show up to your life. Every. Single. Day.

Show up with a sword ready for the unknown.

Show up bold & courageous despite what opinions they might have.

Show up because you know your life matters.

Show up to the difficult, dangerous, and disagreeable with a brave smile, because you know how it all ends.

Show up because He didn’t save you to sit back–

He didn’t save us to retreat.

 

via Daily Prompt: Retreat

human

 

What does it mean to be human?

Some days we don’t even know ourselves.

Sometimes I think we get it engrained in our heads that once you know Christ, it’s all smooth sailing from there. That all of the sudden you are this picture of perfection and somehow attain super-human status.

But today I was encapsulated by immeasurable joy when I realized something that is true of me and every single person:

We are simply human.

We are not strong on our own. We honestly can’t do anything from an eternal perspective on our own. I can’t even breathe on my own. I forget a lot of things. I get distracted like you wouldn’t believe. I fold to pressures. I know what it’s like to feel free. I hate that I struggle with fear. I love something one day and despise it the next.

I am simply human.

Beautifully human with the ability to think and feel joy and pain and to breathe in this very moment.

Perfectly human. Fraught with imperfections and feelings I can’t even find a definition for.

This means that my relationship with God? It’s an imperfect mess of good days and bad ones.

This means that my relationships with people? They’re filled with actions and words I wish I could take back.

This means that my patience to wait on God’s promises? Eh, it’s a little thin.

I just wish we could all understand that it’s not up to us. That you are an incredibly messy, imperfect, human. You are not a lousy Christian. You are human.

And your humanness is beautiful, because it’s the way He’s transforming the world. He’s redeeming this place one broken, messy, forgetful human heart at a time.

What even is Christianity but a way that God transforms our humanness by invading it with Himself. He fills our humanity with Divinity. That is the only way we are transformed. It’s not by mustering up more humanity and more of a mess to slap on top of our already messy selves. It’s about realizing that we actually can do nothing.

I know that this world of self-empowerment hates that. But it’s true. We really aren’t good for much without Him. But when He sets our hearts on fire with a purpose He can do incredible things through us. In that light, believing in yourself looks more like believing in your Creator who didn’t make a mistake.

You may have anxiety and you may battle depression. You may struggle with eating-disorders and you may hate your body. You might be walking through a season where you feel like a really lousy person and label yourself hypocritical for calling yourself a Christian.

It is the most beautiful of ironies that your weaknesses somehow become catalysts for the power of God to overtake your life.

I tend to over complicate things and find reasons for what I struggle with. But the reality? I am human in the rawest form, and I’ll never find answers in my humanity. I have to look to something greater. I have to realize it’s actually pretty simple: I am human and I need Him.

I dare you to be bold enough to ask God to use you right in the middle of your mess. Right in the middle of your weaknesses, ask Him to step in and breathe His love into your humanity. And when you ask, be prepared. He loves to use the messiest, most-human, people.

we’ve all been given a battle

 

we all just want to know we’re not the only ones who feel like professionals at being messy human beings.

XI.XVI.MMXVI. 2:25 pm.

Today in class I had to stand up and speak. I didn’t know it and it was unexpected. my hands were shaking, guys. They were shaking. I had no time to prepare for this. I felt like the whole world was watching me say my few words about two advertisements in front of 25 people. I felt like everyone could see my intense level of nervousness and fear and that the other person in my group who stood up there with me probably was like “what the heck” at my hands shaking as I held our little paper with observations. Plus my hair was probably messy and why in the world did I wear this sweater?

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetOk, dramatic right?

But that’s just what fear does.

In reality-in the big picture of life-it’s a silly little irrational fear. To my mind, though, it feels enormously big and consuming. It’s a fear I’m slowly learning to dance with. A fear I’m slowly learning to push through because I don’t think fearlessness is the absence of fear, but the courage to live in spite of the fear. It exists though, and it’s the battle I’ve been given to fight right now. I think it’s a little strange and yet a little beautiful that we’re all given battles to fight. It’s almost as if God says, “I just want them to know how weak they really are without Me.”

I don’t think our battles are anything to be ashamed of and I think our enemy is pretty happy when we convince ourselves we’re the only one in the world facing this battle.

It takes a lot out of me-this worry that I’m too much and yet not enough. This overthinking of everything I do. There are days when I am just physically tired from it. Sometimes it keeps me from what I really want to do, and in my heart I know that it always keeps me from living my life to the fullest.

I’ve gotten a few messages lately from people who have told me they wish their faith was as big as mine–as bold and as brave. But honestly? Girl, I hope it’s not. I hope it’s so much deeper. I hope you don’t struggle with the crippling fear of merely living life that traps my words in my throat sometimes. I hope you don’t get anxious about meeting new people and I hope you have a faith so free that any concerns about what people think of you just fall away. I hope you don’t think everyone’s eyes are on you in a crowd. I hope your hands don’t shake when you stand up in front of them. I hope you embrace your introverted awkward self and don’t hate it. I hope you are free.

My heart knows that one day I’m gonna have victory over this, because I believe my God wins. There have been baby steps. He’s slowly showing me that there’s a better way. But for now it’s a fight. I wish somehow I could fear the God that made me instead of the people He made. I’m working on that. I’m pressing into grace. I believe that one day, I’ll be able to stand in front of a crowd without a trace of fear, and that in my mind God will become greater and people small. I really do believe that. But today, it’s not that way. I have been given a battle. And in the messiest and most imperfect way, I’m facing the fear, and I finding courage to do life anyway.

So know that no matter how someone appears to you-they have been given a battle too.
No matter how many friends she has? She has a battle. No matter how many followers she’s attracted? She has a battle. No matter her relationship status and no matter her social life? She has a battle. No matter what her page online says? She has a battle. And if we’re being honest–real and raw–we can own the battles we have been given and fight together.

xo,
madyson grace

ps. own your battle below in the comments! I want to hear your heart. & I want to fight it with you.

 

 

rejection and failure: unlikely gifts

Rejection has come to take a negative connotation in our lives.

Fear of it can paralyze us into doing nothing at all.

We’ve pushed it all to the “ugly” side of things. The things we’d rather ignore and forget about. The things in life we hope to never experience. We label ourselves based on rejections and what seem like failures to us.

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The perspectives we have on rejection and failure have boxed us up for far too long and kept us back from who we were made to be.

We all seem to avoid those two things as if they are the last things we want to experience. Because they hurt. They break down the walls of pride that we’ve built up around our hearts. They reveal the ugly and messy parts of us. They reinforce the worst things about us. It’s as if fear, rejection, and failure speak to us, whispering,

You don’t fit in here. You don’t belong. You don’t have what it takes. And you never will.

But what if there is an entirely different perspective we can see rejection and failure from?

Isn’t it worth one thousand rejections of the wrong thing or the wrong person or the wrong group of friends to find the one thing or one person or one group of friends you belong to? 

Because in this life, you will be rejected. That’s a promise.

You will be rejected, because you were not meant to be accepted by everyone.

You are not for everyone.

You are not for the whole world.

You might not have found you’re people yet.

You might feel uncomfortable,

like each attempt at a new friendship dies out,

and that’s ok.

You may feel like there’s something wrong with you.

Like maybe no one understands your heart?

But one day, you will find the person that you mean the world to. Maybe one day you will find the friend who means the world to you. I hope you do. And you will realize you don’t need a world of friends. A few close hearts can mean everything. You don’t need a spotlight shined on your life. You need to let Christ set your heart ablaze. You don’t have to be noticed by this world that might reject you, you are seen by the One who always accepts you.
Because honestly?

The person who is never rejected-who never fails-who never messes up,

has never risked.

And if you haven’t risked anything, are you really living at all?

See rejection and failure through a new perspective. They’re pointing you to where you belong. They’re pointing you to the arms of a God who always accepts you. They’re pointing to the people He made to be in your life.

It’s the mundane days in life that require the most courage. The courage to be bold and to press forward, accepting the fact that in this life you will face rejection and failure. And yet at the same time, you can accept the fact that every rejection and failure is pointing you to your greater purpose.

And yes, a thousand rejections and a thousand failures are worth it when you find the one person you were meant to be with–or the one passion you were created to spend your life pursuing.