Your Narrative

Your Narrative

Hi friends,

First of all, thank you for coming back to my blog. It’s been too long. I have been processing so much of life post-grad. As I am learning; processing, healing, and even celebrating can take time. Since I started this little blog, life has changed – a lot. But a lot has also stayed the same. I still love to write, take photos, spend time with my family, and with Dash of course.

I have had the opportunity to see many musicals this year- which has brought me so much joy! Many times, I have been sitting in my seat waiting for the show to start and I have flash backs to my younger self who was so infatuated with the theater.

If you could give your former self a tour of your life now, what would they make of it?

I know my 16-year-old me would be surprised at how some things have panned out. She’d be intrigued by the new cast of faces around me. She’d be relieved that nothings gone majorly wrong. She’d be astonished that she works in full-time ministry – and loves it.

But I suspect that my teenage self would be quietly disappointed that, overall, adult life is way less glamorous and way more ordinary. Twenty-three, not living in where I thought I would be, not doing so many things I SWORE I would do (you know how teenagers are dramatic and all). I don’t know how my expectations of adulthood became so fantasized. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. It just isn’t how I imagined life would go.

And that, so often, is the problem. A gap is triggered by what we imagined, and it grows so wide that we find ourselves free-falling down it.

Growing up doing theater and acting, I often would imagine myself in scenes like in a sit-com or movie. Ok… just typing that sentence makes me roll my eyes at myself. But it is true! There were plot twists, dramatic climaxes, agonizing choices, and satisfying all’s-well-that-ends-well moments.

As an adult, I see now that looking at life like that actually helped me see a bigger story and make sense of the how the Lord was working in my day-to-day existence. It was a way of seeing direction. Ultimately, it’s a way of stepping back to enjoy details of God’s providence – to rejoice in knowing the script is being written by someone else. (As a writer, this is both terrifying and a huge relief)

I’ll bet your narrative hasn’t gone the way your 16-year-old self would have written it. But God’s script for our lives is immeasurably more. Your life is not a second-rate sitcom with you as the title character, that runs its course and then gets outdated or cut from air. Side note. . . Does anyone else imagine what character they would be in their favorite tv show? You’re totally lying if you say no.

If you have eyes to see it, your life is immeasurably better than that.

The purpose is immeasurably grander. Your existence is not at all meaningless. It’s not a search for happiness or satisfaction that will end in disappointment. Your life’s purpose is to bring glory to God. God has written a script that reveals his glory – that shows the weighty, awesome essence of who he is: A God of justice, grace, compassion, commitment and complete integrity.

And God doesn’t just show us how wonderful he is, like were audience members watching a performance. Instead he invites us onto the stage to live lives that marvel at and enjoy how wonderful he is – to give him glory.

While my life hasn’t panned out the way I would have imagined, I pray that no matter where his plan takes me, I am able to see him in it – every step of the way.

I for sure have not mastered this whole adulting thing – but I do know that even in seasons of dissatisfaction, rootlessness, doubt, or loneliness choosing Jesus is better.

Simply,

Madi  

PS. No, that is not me in the feature image. Just one of my pals.

New Year, New Me: MaKenna McGraw

New Year, New Me: MaKenna McGraw

Last but certainly not least, to wrap up “New Year, New Me” is someone who I could not imagine life without. She is driven, hilarious, stylish (100% thrifted), and talented in all aspects. MaKenna and I met nearly 18 years ago when my mom finally brought a sister into my life. I asked Makenna to share her story because I look up to her in so many ways. She strives to be closer to the Lord in everything she does and quite honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t had her on sooner. One thing you should know about MaKenna and I is that we are opposite in all the best ways. The Big Man Upstairs really knew what He was doing when he made us sisters because Mak and I make a great team. In fact, this past year we have had the coolest opportunity to grow a ministry together (Shout out to Be Lifted!!) – which will probably go down as one of my most favorite things I have ever gotten to be a part of.

One of my favorite things about Makenna is her love for animals – but not the regular house pets… Makenna has a hedgehog named Samir and once loved a hermit crab named Sedoon better than most love other people. Unfortunately, Samir has since past but his memory lives on forever. For the sake of respecting time, I will stop the stories and let Makenna tell hers. . .


I have been privileged with being shepherded by two incredible christian parents and a whole lot of people who have been cheering me on and encouraging me in my walk with Jesus for many years. With all that being said, I have been in a personal relationship with Jesus since I was ten years old after realizing I was never gonna be good enough on my own. Looking back on the past eight years of my life I could not imagine a more timely moment for me to make that decision and begin to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

My two big interests growing up were soccer and swimming, and to give you a little insight on that my instagram username for many years was livluvsoccerswm28 (yikes). For a large chunk of my childhood I literally breathed sports. I would go to swim practice in the morning, go to school (for a portion of my life that looked like homeschooling), go to swim practice, and end my day at soccer. Don’t get me wrong- I LOVED it! Unfortunately at the time I didn’t realize that by consuming my being with sports, winning, and improving myself I was hindering my ability to grow in my relationship with Christ and live in a way that was glorifying to him and not myself. I also didn’t understand that my swim coach was taking advantage of my drive and determination. One day my coach moved away and no one knew where he had gone and I was devastated and confused. I went to a new team and the sport was just never the same for me. After only a few short months I quit and no one understood why but even I could not explain it. It took me a couple of years to fully understand what had happened to me. I never stopped going to church and many people sought me out for theological answers because I had an incredible amount of head knowledge when it came to the Bible.

I began to have sleeping issue, I slept 1-2 hours a night if I was lucky because I was consumed by anxiety. I still continued to try and manage all of my emotions on my own until the summer going into my freshman year of high school.

I have attended Pine Cove (a Christian summer camp) all growing up and am a huge fan!! This particular summer was the hardest summer of my life and quite frankly I was at a point where life just didn’t seem worth it anymore. I was at camp for two weeks and there I met one of my most favorite people on the planet, Grace Jones (soon to be Boggs #wholettheboggsout). At camp I called her Taco and ironically she was not my counselor that summer but rather my friends counselor. Taco sought me out and by the end of the first week asked me to hang out with her because she wanted to know more about me and who I was. After a short hour and a half of her peeling back all of my layers, I told her of the horrors I had been lugging around the past three years. The Lord used Taco that day to show me his love and his omnipresence in our lives. I went home from camp and sat my parents down (you can imagine how that went). Chains were broken, burdens were lifted, but little did I know that was just the beginning of a long struggle that left me with the choice to either be a victim or choose joy.

I have learned so much about what it looks like to struggle for the advancement of the gospel and to struggle knowing that the battle has already been won. My freshman year I started counseling after having frequent dissociative episodes. To give you a little insight on what that looks like for me, these episodes last anywhere from 45 minutes to 4-5 hours. I never remember anything and during the episodes I often act very out of character. These episodes have been my thorn for these past four years, but they have taught me to cling to scripture and make prayer a lifestyle, . Often when I feel myself starting to slip into an episode I turn to two passages of scripture. The First being Exodus 14 (Crossing of The Red Sea), specifically verse 14 when Moses was speaking to the children of Israel and they were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, they had nowhere to go because the Red Sea laid before them and the Egyptian army was quickly closing in behind them. The Israelites are in a seemingly impossible situation, but it was a situation brought on by the Lord Himself. This verse that says,” I need only to remain calm, the Lord is fighting for me,” reminds me to cry out to the Lord in times of hopelessness and hurt and to rejoice with the Lord in times of celebration and achievement. The second passage is Psalm 23, A Shepherd’s Psalm. This is a passage that I have had imprinted on my heart for many years and is a daily reminder of how I should look to the Lord to shepherd me through life. It is a constant reminder of how the Lord is my comforter and my provider and with him I lack absolutely nothing, but without him I am nothing.

Scripture memorization is an important part of my life and has allowed me to effectively share the gospel everywhere I go. Likewise, my story is an avenue that allows me to share the gospel in a very personal way by telling people of how the Lord used the darkest and dirtiest part of me and turned it into something beautiful and glorifying to him. My life is not easy but I would not trade what happened to me for anything and I would relive it a thousand times over if it meant people would continue to see and learn more about Jesus through me.

I am made new through Jesus Christ alone and now my purpose here on earth is to shout the good news from the mountain tops and live a life of bold obedience. As we all fail to keep our new year resolutions, my hope for everyone is that we turn to prayer, scripture memorization, and seeking wise counsel rather than anything else this world has to offer. That we embrace what this new year has to offer with expectancy in our hearts and a yearning to serve our King who gave everything that we may know him.

Simply,

Makenna, aka Mak, aka MaK Truck, aka Kenna

New Year, New Me: Natalie Hawkins

New Year, New Me: Natalie Hawkins

Natalie Hawkins, where to even start? If you know Natalie, you know she is the kind of person that you don’t even have to speak to, to see how on fire she is for the Lord. She loves other so intentionally and deeply. Natalie and I met through the church we both worked at in College Station. I looked up to her in so many aspects of her life, the way she is raising her kids, her passion for her community, and even her ability to make you feel so loved and heard when you speak to her.

She is one of those people who is a super hero at everything she does. Wife, mom of four, and running student ministry in Hearne, Texas – because she and her husband felt called to move there to actively love on that community-seriously, let’s talk about her steadfast faithfulness!!!!

My senior year of college, my boss asked if I would be willing to move from teaching the infant class to teach in the three-year-old class for Mothers Day Out. I was a little nervous but when she told me my co-teacher would be Natalie I was thrilled. For an entire year, I had the pleasure to pour into the cutest kids while being poured into by Natalie. I am seriously so excited for you to read about her and her journey, I know you will love her as much as I do. . .

PS. There were many many pictures I wanted to post from MDO, but for the sake of the privacy of the kiddos, you’ll have to ask to see them in person.


I divide my life up now by a moment when I decided to yield control of my life to Christ. To let Him call the shots and to submit to Him in all areas of life. This came about when I was 22 years old. Growing up I considered myself a Christian; I believed in the gospel and that the Bible was true. I bounced between being active in church and periods of trying to “disappear off the radar” with God. This was because I struggled with whether God and the Bible should have all authority over my life or if there was a way I could pick and choose the areas that Christ had Lordship over. I realized I was destroying myself living this way.
Running from a broken home, I had fallen in love with alcohol in high school and all that came with it. I didn’t choose Godly relationships or friendships but still expected to have faith whenever I decided to go back to it. I had become pregnant and had two abortions. I had begun to get in trouble with the law due to alcohol. After my second DWI arrest, I ended up in a 40-day rehab center for alcohol. It was there that I decided I wanted to clean my life up. I knew a relationship with Christ was the answer, yet I wasn’t sure how exactly I was supposed to jump on this Christian bandwagon.
I began trying to go to church, read my bible, and pray. I still felt alone and struggling with the temptation to return to my old lifestyle. I slipped up and began to return to drinking and a past relationship. I ended up pregnant. At this point, I thought about an abortion, but very clearly heard the Holy Spirit’s voice in my heart speak “You will not do that.” I was terrified but knew I would be having the baby. Fast forward a bit, and I was a mom still struggling to leave my old lifestyle while trying to be a good mother to my son. I attended a Go Missions event with a Christian friend. As I was listening to these people, share how they had allowed God to use their lives for His Glory and His purposes I ached. I kneeled and apologized to God. All my sin seemed to pass through my mind, and I knew I was so guilty. I had shattered this relationship with God so far beyond repair, and I told Him so. I didn’t expect Him to take me back, but I did owe Him an apology. It was then that I saw a very vivid picture in my mind of myself all alone in a big field, laying flat on my face. I heard a clear and commanding voice in my heart say “Don’t think that anything you have ever done, or ever will do, will ever be bigger than what my Son did for you on that cross. You are forgiven because I said you are forgiven, you are redeemed because I spoke the Word. It is not about you. It is about Me. Go.”
I stood up a new person. I finally understood the gospel in the deepest part of me for the first time. I was forgiven! God accepted me because of Jesus! He also just told me to “Go.” He had a plan and purpose for me, and it was time to begin! From that point on there was a power in my life that wasn’t there before. I had hope. When temptation came on, I would quote Scripture out loud and believe that the Holy Spirit could and would uphold me and keep me from sin. There were a lot of changes I had to make in my life also. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me that I was supposed to end a lot of my friendships. I wasn’t given peace to go to the same places, watch, the same movies, or even listen to the same music. He was making me new, and if I wanted that, I would have to submit to God’s will in every area of my life. I had fallen on my face in life, and I desperately wanted God to transform me, so I listened. I would do it God’s way this time.
I have never regretted anytime that I said “yes” to God. It has been 8 and ½ years since that point, and I am sober and married to a Godly man who was delighted to become a father to my son. I am about a mother to 3 children with a 4th on the way (Madi here: Her 4th arrived!! Baby Charlotte is here!!), and currently, my husband and I are serving as the youth directors at our church. God is mighty, and He is able! My prayer is that all the body of Christ, myself included, will continue saying “yes” to God in all things. Submitting to the authority of Scripture even when it is hard. Obeying the Holy Spirit as He nudges our heart and reaching out for help when we need it. God is fully able to transform us into the image of Jesus if we yield to Him. Oh, how desperately our world needs to see the likeness of Christ.

New Year, New Me: Savannah Lundin

New Year, New Me: Savannah Lundin

Y’all…. Y’all, the next guest to share her thoughts with you is a girl who was the sweetest surprise to my senior year of college. We met in a student organization at THE greatest university in the entire world, Texas A&M University- WHOOP! Savannah was my little in Christian Business Leaders (shout out!!!). Shortly after our first coffee date I knew Savannah and I would have more than a big/little relationship (I am realizing that I probably sound like every basic college girl right now but its true!).

Savannah is a deep thinker, peacemaker, achiever, and one of the most loyal friends you would ever meet. She cares deeply about digging into the word everyday and I am so excited for you to read her convictions. . .


Hey y’all! My name is Savannah, and I am currently a sophomore at Texas A&M University, A-A-A-A-A! I’m a Supply Chain major in the Mays Business School, and if you’re asking yourself what exactly a Supply Chain major is, don’t worry, you are not alone! I didn’t know the first thing about it until I came to college.

I’m the youngest of three sisters, and when I’m not at college, I spend most of my time with my amazing mom back home in Austin, Texas. College is both everything and nothing like I expected it to be and God is continually teaching me new things every day. It can be exhausting and frustrating but also so fulfilling and exhilarating as I face each and every opportunity and try my very best to further the Kingdom with it.

Most days I start off asking God the same two things…“God help me to love others and further your Kingdom” … and of course to pass any upcoming tests and assignments I may have hahaha.

Recently I’ve been going through the book of Mark, and though I’m only on chapter 14, God has consistently been revealing to me countless things that I’m beginning to see in a new light. Some passages I’ve read many times and others I’m less familiar with, but God uses both all the same.

Isn’t that funny how that works?

Sometimes I’ll see a whole passage, but other times it’s as simple as how I interpret one word. In one instant God can completely change my view.

It’s kind of like starting a new year if you think about it. Most likely, you can and will live a life similar to one in 2018…and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! However, that does not mean that God cannot change your view of it in an instant. In fact, the odds are that I will face some of the same struggles, problems, and stresses that plagued me in 2018 but that does not mean I have to deal with them in the same way and neither do you. Through my study in Mark, God has brought many of His truths to my attention, but one, in particular, has been on my mind for the past couple of days. It is one of the truths I hope to carry with me into the new year in an effort to alter how I see and deal with things.

Before I get to that though, I believe it needs a bit of a precursor. Now it’s no surprise that Jesus’ road to the cross was long and arguably can be defined by one word: unjust. However, we, as followers of Christ, know that Jesus wasn’t sent here to live a life untouched by the sins of man for he came to save those very people from their sins.

As I read through Mark though, Jesus makes it extraordinarily clear that at any given moment, He could have just said a word and ended it all, but we never saw that happen. Why? Because His love for us was so great, turning back was not an option. Because if He didn’t save us, then no one could. Because we are His children and if nothing else, we are the objects of a love so incredible–so beautiful that until we stand face to face with the one who made it all we won’t be able to understand it truly.

This brings me to the attitude that I hope you all will join me in living out through 2019 when faced with adversity or struggles placed in our path we should spend less time worrying about why we are going through it and more time about how best we can glorify God with it. Because spending less time surprised or even angry over the speed bumps of life, mean more time for us to notice and allow God to work through us in his plan for redemption.

As Christians, we are told to expect struggles and difficulties, just as Jesus himself experienced. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice when he came and died for our sins, but that did not guarantee us a life free of adversity, as much as we might wish otherwise. I think a lot of us get caught up being angry and confused as to why we find ourselves in less than ideal situations, while all the while we could be missing the very opportunities Jesus has placed right in front of us. It’s one thing to be told that we should expect adversity because of the path we, as Christians, have chosen for ourselves but it’s another thing entirely to live that out each and every day.

Living that out means trusting in God’s plan every time a conversation doesn’t go the way you had hoped. Living that out means looking for the bright side in less than bright situations. Living that out means setting an example for those around you in how you deal with hard news. When we place our trust in the One who never fails, we can take heart because we know how the story ends, even when the world says differently.

Now, I will be the first to admit that many times I have failed to trust in God when hard times came my way, but that does not mean I will ever stop redirecting my focus on Him and I encourage you to do the same.

I hope that the next time you are toe-to-toe with one of life’s giants, you will stop and ask not “why” but “how” — How can you use me in this God? How could my actions honor and point others to you?

One of my good friends from college has a sign in her room that I am often reminded of, as it has become our inside joke of sorts, and it reads, “The struggle is real, but so is God.” I cannot promise you the struggles of life will get any, but I can guarantee you that our God is Faithful in each and every situation.

I hope y’all are able to find some encouragement in this and be reminded yet again of our Father’s love for us! Thanks for stopping by!

Simply,

Savannah ❤

New Year, New Me: Gonzalo Morillas

New Year, New Me: Gonzalo Morillas

The next guest writer for the “New Year, New Me” series is the kind of friend everyone needs in their life – even though he is an OSU Alum – Go Pokes? Gonzalo and I met at a place that is near and dear to my heart, Kanakuk Summer Kamps. We both worked at Family Camp though I can’t remember the exact moment Gonzalo and I became friends, I remember wanting to be his friend because he has such a great sense of humor.

So it is entirely possible I forced him into a friendship. One of my favorite memories with Gonzalo is sitting in the rocking chairs on camp property and chatting about how we both felt called to work in the corporate world, yet we both felt so in-our-element in the ministry setting. We all know how that turned out for me, but I’ll let him tell you more about who he is and how the Lord is using him. . .


Throughout the last few years, if you would have told me that I’d be working in vocational ministry after college, I would have looked at you like you probably needed a smack in the face. Don’t get me wrong, I had a heart for diving deep into the mission of the local church and to see the saints flourish as they become more fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. However, I just didn’t believe that God was leading me down that path. I saw my strengths better played out within the context of the business world. Regardless, God had other plans for me, because I currently work at a church in Dallas called Watermark Community Church to help lead college students and young adults to live life to the fullest and rooted in Jesus Christ. More specifically, through a gathering called “The Porch,” I get a front row seat to watching the lives of 20-somethings be transformed by the Spirit’s ministry of reconciliation and sanctification through an authentic biblical community. I get to pray, encourage, exhort, and love the members of the body while staying on mission with them of making known the gospel of Jesus Christ to all regardless of the tongue, color, age, gender, or background.  

Nonetheless, it wasn’t always like that. At eight-years-old, I was fleeing terrorism from my home country of Peru and moving to the States to start a new life in the town of Edmond, Oklahoma. Not having grown up in the church paired with a background of family brokenness made for an explainable outcome of me being introduced to a lifestyle of drugs, sex, and alcohol at a young age. By early high school, I had made it a habit to live a life for the flesh and the things of this world – smoking weed after school and walking in sexual impurity whenever I got the chance. However, through the simple faithfulness and obedience of a kid in school, he took a step of boldness and asked me if I’d like to come to a movie night with his youth group at his church that Friday night. Not having anything better to do and seeing that he was a good kid, I agreed to go. A few weeks later, I returned to a second movie night. This time around though, the youth pastor asked me if I’d like to take the place of a kid that had just dropped his spot from the week-long summer trip the youth group goes on every year. Seeing that the trip had already been paid for and my parents didn’t mind me going, I quickly accepted the invite. Then, on June 15th, 2011, in an old auditorium filled with over a thousand other high schoolers, Jesus grabbed hold of my heart as my ears heard the gospel for the very first time in my life and the majesty of Christ was irresistibly presented to me. Even though I tried to fight it and felt incredibly confused, I couldn’t shake off recognizing that I was a depraved sinner in need of a gracious savior. I had been exhausted by continuously chasing after things that only offered me temporary satisfaction leaving me feeling empty afterward. So, from that moment on, I had been made new; the old had passed away, and behold, the new had come.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t going to be easy. After all, Jesus was calling me to die to myself, pick up my cross, and follow Him daily. I don’t think at the time I fully knew what that meant; but with years of studying His word and through the influence of great biblical teachers around me, I would soon grow to better understand that true freedom is attained in submitting, victory is gained at surrender, and life is found at death. God’s purpose has never been about robbing me of life but rather always about leading me into it. Today, God has me working for the local church, but tomorrow He could have me somewhere entirely different. If there is one thing that I’m learning in this season of life is that the Lord calls us to be faithful today (Matt. 6:33-34). Say yes to today, offer up what He’s entrusted you with, and watch Him multiply your fish and loaves. He will always be most glorified through you when you become most satisfied in Him.

Today I remind myself that and I reflect on what He’s done in and through me, but moving forward, my eyes have also been exposed to the many areas I have yet to grow in. When it comes to Matthew 20:26-28, I see I’m often not the first to raise my hand and serve in situations where I’m not benefitted. Jesus came to serve, but I find that I’m selfish and usually only willing to help others when I know it will eventually be to my benefit. As a close friend of mine recently put it, “you’re really into the things you’re into and really not into the things you’re not into.” Leaders take the initiative for the benefit of others. You can’t always play quarterback, but you have to be a team player and ready to lead even when you’re not in charge. So absolutely, through the Lord’s providence in my life, I have come a long way. From being that high school kid that got stoned in neighborhood parks and stole things from malls just for fun to pursuing the Lord every day. He continues to deploy me to use my gifts within the context of the local church, I pray He molds me into the kind of person that He’d want to entrust more ministry to. Regardless, whether in the local church or business world or wherever else He may have you, I pray that your heart always breaks for the lost and that you be made more into a willing vessel of using your gifts for the building up of the body (Eph. 4:12). You don’t have to work at a church to equip the saints, but you do have to be the church to grow the kingdom of God with more saints for the glory of God and His glory alone.

Simply,

Gonzalo

New Year, New Me: LaNita Edmondson

New Year, New Me: LaNita Edmondson

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Goodness gracious, I can’t believe it is 2019. It feels like just yesterday we were counting down the seconds to 2018. It’s crazy how fast time flies and how quickly life moves. I am seriously so excited about this coming year, a lot of new has happened in my life in the last six months, and the only way I made it through was by seeking lots and lots of wise counsel. I was brainstorming on what 2019 would look like for Simply Madi, and one thing was beyond evident to me. Simply Madi would not even be a thing without all the wise people I have been blessed by throughout my life. So, I thought we would kick off the New Year by hearing from five people whom I adore.


I am seriously SO excited to introduce you to LaNita Edmondson, LaNita and I met when I was a young 16 year old at Rockpointe Church in Flower Mound. LaNita and I were paired up to help with Cross Training which is our church’s version of VBS to lead a group of kiddos put on a one-act musical. I immediately fell in love with her energy and enthusiasm for people. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I had the pleasure of sitting next to LaNita on a van on the way to a high school youth retreat. I was immediately reminded of her passion for others and amazing gift of listening, and since then I knew I needed to have her share her heart on the blog.I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. . .


So, this isn’t the blog post I’d intended to submit. Originally, I’d written something completely different. Madi asked me to write in the vein of “New Year, New Me” and so I did. But then I had a ton of people over last night and their conversations got me to thinking….

Now before I get going, allow me introduce myself….my name is LaNita. I’m a wife and mom of three who is currently studying to become a Biblical Counselor. I love to travel, love musical theater like I love to breathe, and I looove to read! I put JK Rowling right at the top of my list alongside Lewis, Tolkein, and Roosevelt… Eleanor that is. But my most favorite thing in the whole wide world is people. I love to be with people!

Last night, I had a house full of girls home from their first semester of college. It was music to my ears and a balm to my soul! What a joy to listen as they excitedly unpacked much of what they are studying in their classes. There was a common fascination amongst all the girls, regardless of major, with learning about people and what makes them tick. I listened to talk of genetics and DNA, predispositions and environmental factors. I listened to talk that arrived at various conclusions with such finality that it shocked me.

They spoke with such certainty, arriving at the position that people make their life choices based on factors beyond their control or responsibility. I heard lots of, “Studies have shown that…” and, “We now know that the way people thought ten years ago is now completely false”. Guess what? Ten years from now, professors will be making the same statement about that which you are so convinced is true right now.

Here’s the thing, knowledge brings wisdom, but what kind of wisdom do you wish to cultivate in your life? The wisdom of God, or the wisdom of man? So in the vein of “New Year, New Me” here is some solid truth to consider…

1Cor 3:18-19 Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness”

The new year brings many an opportunity to start fresh. And worldly wisdom says that we can remake those things that were broken or unfinished in the past. Worldly wisdom says that you can wipe away the stains of poor choices or regret of chances not taken. Worldly wisdom says that things are not your fault, you are genetically doomed to be a certain way. So in our own power we begin to research…build plans for ourselves…dive into the seeking of new ways to do things…anything that will bring us closer to the “ideal” us that we envision. We promise ourselves that this year is going to be different, this year…we will make positive changes…and that’s great….except, did you catch how many times I just said ‘I’ or ‘we’?

Hear this…to view ourselves, others and circumstances through the lens of our own wisdom will bring much falsehood and misery. But to seek God’s wisdom in all that you do, to ask Him who created you, “Lord, what would You have me change? Lord, will you forgive me of the sin of being consumed with self…and Lord help me by your power to live a life for You…not for me.” I want to encourage you to start the New Year with the mindset that says: “God, I want to be in right standing with You. Every hour of every day, may my thoughts stray to You. I want to walk in Your ways, I want to live in Your love, and I want that to spill out of me and be evident in my words and actions.” New Year, New You? Yes! But lasting and true change is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit living in you. If you don’t have that, if you have no idea what I’m talking about and want to know more, I’d love to talk with you.

It was so nice to meet you, I send you all big hugs, lots of love, and wishes for you Happy New Year and New You with God!

Simply,

LaNita

Pacing

Pacing

New seasons mean new perspective and changes with new environments, relationships, and growth. Recently, when I am not with high school students or creating content for the church I work at, my nights have looked like time spent on the balcony of my apartment sitting on the ground because I have yet to buy outdoor furniture. As I sit with my bare feet pressed against the wood posts, I am taken back to the times I spent as a child on my grandparents property in Colorado in 56-degree weather. I could never have imagined that I would be led to the duties that have now met me here in Dallas. When I look out at my new Dallas view in December to a shades-of-brown-and-green with cars screeching, music buzzing, and faint murmurs, I am picturing a blue lake with crisp air, swaying aspens and the quiet noise in Colorado.

The seasons are shifting and changing, beyond the weather. My time this fall has been full. Friends have gotten engaged, I have had crazy work hours, I have made job decisions and had creative accomplishments all in a couple of months. I have been reminded by walking through an advent study that these things are filled with love and joy and peace and hope. With Christmas festivities and the holiday season, I am greeted by old and new friends, I love getting to hear about where their lives have taken them. In early December, I was talking to a friend of mine. We were sitting upstairs on the balcony, watching cars zoom by and friends take an evening stroll. My friend and I partook in a conversation that will forever itch an image inside of my head. This friend is a person who can paint a picture when she talks. We often chat about how we are kindred spirits, while we are very similar; she is one of those people that when you spend time with her, you leave feeling so uplifted and encouraged. She begins to tell me this story of how she has been feeling this holiday season that could not have put better words to how I feel as well.

“Imagine back to your 5th birthday. Your parents place a practically perfect chocolate cake in front of you. You begin to indulge in the sugary goodness. You grab as much as you can and put as much as you can fit in your mouth. So much savory goodness in each bite. Every piece was taken, making you full. But did you even savor the goodness of the cake? Did you take notice of the flavor and sprinkles? Madi, this is what I have felt like.”

Guilty. I have been running – sprinting even, indulging but not savoring. My intentions are pure, and I bet I do a better job than I give myself credit for. I really do try to breathe a little deeper to allow my heart to slow and my eyes to capture what is in front of me.  But on my worst day, I tend to forget to savor. On my worst day, I am on my own control running around with different tasks at hand. Apple Watch friends, on these kind of days, when your watch notifies you to breathe, does it actually make you more stressed rather than relaxed? …Maybe that’s just me…

This summer after graduating from college, I never took a moment to slow down and rest. I wish I would have taken the time to escape to the beauty of my grandparent’s house in Colorado. Instead, I became consumed by transitioning to corporate America. I focused on making sure I was “ready” for the passage to adulthood (what does that even mean?? In hindsight, I realize you can never be ready for this). I was always traveling, moving, and taking. Then June came, and I was hit with the reality of working a full-time job. A couple of months into my new found career, I rediscovered a hiking trail behind my parent’s house that I used to run when I was in high school. This trail is full of memories for me, I made the decision to go to Texas A&M on this trail, I worked through the struggles I had with my faith on this trail, and now I worked through the frustrations I had with myself, coworkers, and relationships I have post-grad.

I turned my gaze from the buzz of my phone and to the motion of the trees and direction of the trail. For the first time in what felt like years, I was able, to be honest with myself. I allowed myself to rest. I allowed myself to dream. To dream of writing, creating, and capturing. I dreamt of pursuing my love for photography again. The scariest dream I let myself dig into is the dream of crafting, designing, and writing a children’s book. It was on this trail, I knew I would shortly quit my corporate job and allow myself to move past the heartbreak and anxiety that I had fallen into. I felt so full. I felt encouraged. I have always felt close to locations. I always have associated feelings with places, and this trail is one that the Lord uses consistently.

I slowed my pace and walked my trail one summer night with soft music playing in my ears, my face felt the warmth of the August wind. Six months later my trail and I met again with a newly discovered playlist and this time my face felt the cold of the December weather. Here, several months later, I am experiencing the same God and same Sabbath even in this crazy season of navigating adulthood. I think, being full is not about the pace.

Is it possible to be full in the slowest or most busy seasons of life?

Resting in the Lord will allow me to serve and love others better. I want to remember this season, even the hard parts and remember the harvest that has been cultivated. In 2019, I want to harvest a desire to slow down, I hope to dig deeper into my friendships and family, I hope to continue dreaming. I want to reap time with people and allow my breath to inhale deeper and exhale slowly. That is what this season will be. I dare you try to do the same.

What else am I up to? I am so excited about January 2019. Earlier this year, I became the Director of a high school ministry in Flower Mound called Be Lifted. Now, I get to help run the coolest benefit concert to help raise money for the ministry. One of my favorite artists, Chris Renzema is playing – Click here to buy tickets. I get to travel to Michigan to visit one of my dearest friends. I also am thrilled to announce a five-part series. In January, I will have 5 guest writers on the blog. I can’t wait for you to get to read how the Lord is using them. Happy day!

Simply,

Madi