Category Archives: Journaling

A Prayer Journal Entry

Brace yourselves. I’m about to get real, real over here.

When I was praying the other night, I had to have some Maddie and Jesus honesty time. And while normally Maddie and Jesus talks stay between Maddie and Jesus, I felt like I needed to share these. First, I want to let you know where I’ve been spiritually. I should only be sharing highlights if I’m not afraid to be real about the less than ideal stuff too. Second, I want to let you know if you have been in/are in/will ever be in a weird, confused, and kind of upset but also still in love with Jesus place that doesn’t totally make sense, you aren’t alone. I’m pretty sure it’s just part of the journey. And finally, I wanted to let you read how I write when I pray, since I’ve found writing things down often helps me sort through what I’m thinking or what I feel like the Holy Spirit is speaking. I love learning how other people connect with Jesus or use their journals, so maybe you care about that kind of thing too.

This is a genuine, recent entry out of my prayer journal (excluding some personal details). Welcome to the heart of a girl whose life isn’t always on-my-knees-first-thing-in-the-morning and praying-for-the-cashier-because-the-Holy-Spirit-said-to kind of love for Jesus. Sometimes my love for Jesus, in a very non-glamourous way, means I have to tell Him I’ve had some expectations that He hasn’t met. And we have to deal with that. So this entry actually has a lot of uncomfortable vulnerability and bad theology. Yeah, I know. Don’t say I didn’t (…say I didn’t) warn you.

• • •

Where’s my first love, Lord?

Where’s the love and zeal I used to have for you?

It’s not that I stopped loving You. Or stopped pursuing You. Or stopped believing in You. But I’m lying to myself if I say that we are okay. That everything is like it used to be.

I’ve doubted Your power. I’ve questioned Your love. I’ve believed that You aren’t wholly trustworthy. I’ve relied on my own strength. I’ve dismissed the ways You’ve moved and spoken in my past. I’ve ignored Your voice. I’ve accepted some easy, powerless rhythm with You as normal and comfortable. I’ve stopped clinging to the truth that You are as good as You say You are. Because, why?

I used to run to You. To prayer. To listening. To community. To worship. To deep places and deep things. To just being with You. 

It’s like my Spirit was all dried up by questions and confusion and unmet expectations. 

I think I’m angrier with you than I want to believe. I’ve followed you so wholeheartedly. My family has followed you so wholeheartedly. I could go down the list Lord. I just don’t understand. . .

And I know. I know what You’ll say. Maybe that’s why I’ve let the fire fade, or something. Because I don’t want to hear, “You aren’t supposed to understand. You have to just trust me.” Again. 

I can hear the bad theology reverberating in my head. I know what lies sound like. But I can’t help but feel like You’ve broken promises to me. I feel like You’ve let me down.

I hate that because I know it’s not true. I hate that because my life isn’t dramatically or catastrophically falling apart. And maybe, even more, I hate that because I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to get back to the old us.

It’s not that I don’t love You. It’s not that I don’t want to love You. I want to want You again. I want my first love. I want pictures and discernment and just being with You. I want to believe in the power of prayer and the weight and glory of everything You can do. I want hours in your presence that feel like just a few minutes. I want You to the be the first and last thing I think about everyday. I want to pray for people and encourage people and see Your heart for people again. I want to remember what it’s like to be overwhelmed with all the finite love I’m capable of for You. I want to be overwhelmed by Your infinite love for me. I want to be reminded. I need You to remind me.

Wanting it is enough, right? It has to be enough. I feel like it’s all I have.

I don’t know when my Spirit dried up or died down. I don’t know when one of our wheels slipped off the track. I don’t know when I started building up cynicism or anger or hurt towards You. But I need you to teach me how to seek Your face again. Because I really do love You.

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Some Letters to Myself

As I started post draft after post draft, unable to complete a thought about things that the Lord is teaching me, I stumbled upon something in one of my old journals.

I wrote these letters to myself a few years ago after reflecting on the past few years. I looked back on the different seasons of my life, how I viewed them and reacted in the moment, and with that 20/20 hindsight vision, gave my younger self some advice.

It may be theoretical or pointless because I can’t go back and tell my 9, 13, or 16 year old self anything, but what’s amazing is how many of the things I still need to hear today. That despite 5 or 10 more years of story after story of the Lord’s faithfulness, I still let my heart get overwhelmed, I still worry about circumstances, or have to preach His trustworthiness to my heart. So here’s a glimpse into my younger heart (and, let’s be real, some of my heart today):

journals

 Dear 9 year old Maddie,

You are dealing with stuff in school. One day it’s great and you and your friends have a secret handshake, and the next you don’t feel cool or pretty enough. I know you think some of the girls are prettier than you. I know you wonder why some people are best friends with the other girls and not you. I know you are secretly jealous of the friendship the other girls have and the way the teacher prefers them. I also know that when the “pretty” girls include you, you let it cover your insecurity. I know how you make fun of one of the girls because you think she’s a little more awkward (and you secretly feel left out and awkward). But I know that she hurt your feelings when she didn’t like the book you gave her at the book swap. I also know that it kind of hurts when she gets all the attention, even if it’s because people are joking about her and the boy you think is cute. I know how you are trying to figure boys out (you’ll never be able to, just so ya know). I know you feel crazy when you go back and forth, thinking they are cute, but still annoying. I also know how you feel when they pay attention to you. And you don’t know what to do with that in terms of your relationship with Jesus. CALM DOWN. Things like someone not liking the book you brought to a book swap is really not a big deal, although I know it really feels like it in the moment. It’s good that you want to be people’s friends and you want to love them – never lose that to cynicism (you will for a period). But Mads, always make sure you are someone friend or not someone’s friend for the right reasons. See everyone through the eyes of Christ, not what they can do for your identity and insecurity. You won’t stay close to a lot of these people from elementary school anyways. So learn to love them in the moment and don’t be afraid for the Lord to only keep them in your life for a season. Find your worth in Him alone. He’s the only one that can completely fill your desires to be loved and pursued. Your life is going to change and things will get better, but you won’t always see it in the moment. Don’t forget to cling to the Lord and keep things in perspective.

Love, Me.

Dear 13 year old Maddie,

You are letting everything overwhelm you. Take a deep breath, babe. It’s all ok. It is all going to be ok. What you are so concerned about doesn’t really matter in the long run. In fact, you are going to read back over these journal entries some day and laugh at how big and important some of the smallest things seemed. But the fact that you are putting and pouring your heart out before the Lord is amazing. Don’t lose that. Don’t get so caught up in everything else that you forget that He is everything in the first place. You are about to face the loneliest time in your teenage life. A lot of friends are going to leave your life, church stuff is about to get messy, and you are going to feel like the new friends you are making aren’t happening fast enough. Go wholly to God in this. Your relationship will grow leaps and bounds during this time with Him. Don’t forget to forgive people in the middle of this. They are doing the best they can and the Lord is going to use it all for His glory, even though it may hurt pretty bad in the moment. You are going to hit a lot of emotional highs and lows in the next few years. You aren’t crazy and it won’t last forever. Rest in the unchanging nature of God and let it all play it. I promise, it’s going to be okay. Combat the anger and cynicism that bubbles up. Let the Lord refine you in this desert and appreciate the blessing when He sends it. When you don’t see the blessing? Appreciate Him and realize His infinite love for you.

Love, Me.

Dear 16 year old Maddie,

Welcome to a very maturing year for you. You are going to have some of the deepest moments with the Lord, and also some pretty shallow relational and academic failures. You are going to wrestle with praise and hypocrisy and fitting in. You are going have some wonderful insight and write things to and about the Lord in this time. Never forget to be grateful for what the Lord brought you out of and spared you from. Embrace church and the people in it – they aren’t perfect and there will be times of confusion, but the Lord is going to be so in it. You just have to search for Him. Don’t let your overthinking interfere with the spiritual depths the Lord wants to bring you to. Stop worrying about your friendships, especially with guys. It’s really all okay. Stop worrying about your future. I know you probably won’t believe me, because I know how overwhelming it feels to your young heart, but the Lord really is going to work everything out in some pretty amazing ways. Cling tightly to the One who has never and will never change or leave. He loves you more than anyone else ever will. His plans for you far supersede your plans for yourself. Trust Him.

Love, Me.

You may not be a 9, 13, or 16 year old reading this. In fact, you may be significantly past 20. And you could probably write me a letter with the incredible wisdom you’ve accumulated that’s more impactful than any of these. And maybe it’s not even the content of these letters that means anything to you. Maybe it’s the fact of looking back and hypothetically writing to yourself after seeing the big picture. Because we know the Lord sees it all. He sees us in the past, He sees us now, and He sees us in the future.

And in that future, what do you think you’d be saying to your heart now? It’s probably a lot of the same things Jesus may be saying to your heart that you have tuned out (guilty as charged over here). Are you trusting in the ability of the Lord to carry your burdens? Are the “mountains” in your life as big of a deal as you think they are? And if they are, are you seeing them in light of the love and sovereignty and redemption of the Lord, even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment?

Because here’s the deal, life’s going to keep going on until we reach the shores of eternity. And then we’ll get to look back on our whole lives and see all the places the Lord was moving when we couldn’t see it. I know there are things that I’m going to look back on 10 years from now and say, “oh Mads, if only you knew. . .”

But the less of those there are, the better. Because Jesus is good and faithful here and now. And I don’t want to miss it. Let’s pursue His unconstrained, timeless wisdom together, choosing to speak the truth of the future and the past over what we may or may not be feeling in the present.

Have a wonderful Monday. Remember, it’s all okay. He’s got you.

Be Still, My Soul

Oh hi. Me again.

Because it’s been two months since I’ve posted anything, but I’m not really in the mood to sift through my journal entries and try and compile what the Lord has been teaching me in the crazy past few weeks, I’ll give you this gem of a poem.

I’m not even sure where I found this, but it’s been a constant prayer of mine these past few weeks. The combination of commanding my soul to be still in the midst of so many unknowns, being reminded of the overwhelming trustworthiness of Jesus, and resting in the power of The One who stills the seas has been putting my tumultuous heart at ease.

As I lean on the words of others to give a voice to the depths of my heart, I pray that you find some joy and peace in this truth today. Know that you are loved more deeply than you could ever imagine!

Be still my soul, your God will undertake

To guide your future as He has the past

your hope, your confidence

let nothing shake

all now mysterious shall be bright at last

Be still, my soul!

The waves and winds still know His voice

who ruled them while

He dwelt below

K von Schlegel

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Do You Trust Me?

“I don’t know why it’s been so hard to trust You this semester. I don’t know how this fits with increasing my faith – it doesn’t feel like I’m trusting you for bigger things than I used to. It kind of feels like I’m going backwards. So even in that I have to trust that You are still leading me forward, in your will and love. For Your glory and my good. My Jesus, I love you!” November 19, 2014

Set Me continually before you, Maddie. You can’t put your hope in people and then expect your trust in Me to follow. See Me as the Ark of Covenant, going before you. Trust that I know where I’m leading you – including your emotions. You’ll be amazed when you look back and see the story that I do. I’m increasing your faith for later things you’ll believe me for – even if you don’t see that now. Trust me with your heart, with your emotions. I don’t let hard things happen or hurt without purpose. And have grace for yourself because I have grace for you. I look on you with such compassion and love. I’m overflowing with eternal and faithful and trustworthy love for you. Lean into my unfailing nature, even when you don’t see how I’m fighting for you. You only see in part, Maddie. Don’t miss the part you can see. Trust me with the part you can’t. I’ve got you – I won’t let you fall or misstep. I’m holding you and your heart. Let me speak to you, let me remind you of these things every once in awhile. I love telling you that I love you and I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing it awhile. Do you trust me? Do you trust me?

Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than

my dull heart can yield;

Invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to thee,

tightly entwine itself round thee,

be allured by thee.

Then shall my walk be endless praise.

Valley of Vision, Journeying On

In the Stillness of Summer, He is God

My journal is sitting on the table beside our guest bed. It’s been mostly unopened all summer. My Bible sits next to it. It’s not much better. And there’s this tension, because it’s not that I’m running away from Jesus. But am I actually running toward Him? There was something soothing about the busyness of… Read more. . .