12.26.2015

Gender Reveal Party + Video




Finding out the sex of your baby….so many pros and cons to each and honestly it all comes down to the couple and what they want. For Mark and I it was a no brainer that both of us wanted to find out. I am a planner (surprise!) and I know it would give me such peace of mind to have the nursery done, clothes bought and know if its a baby girl or boy. We weren't hoping for one gender or the other we were just so excited to know. Another fun fact about me: I love knowing things, so waiting the full pregnancy when I could have the opportunity to know didn't seem fun.


We found out together during my ultrasound on December 18. Then we waited. We are so close to our families and wanted our entire immediate families together to tell them the amazing news. My sister and brother in law live in Florida and their flight came in real late the 23rd so a Christmas Eve party was in order!


& it was the best. If you are debating between doing a gender reveal party - DO IT! One of my most favourite moments in 2015 and one I will cherish forever. Everything was perfect, having our entire immediate families there on Christmas Eve - could it be more perfect? Nope! Best Christmas present being able to share the news with the people I adore the most:)

I called one of our family friends who makes the best cookies ever and asked her to make "boy" cookies and a blue cake. We ate cake on Christmas Eve celebrating our sweet little boy.




I honestly love this baby so much!! It's unbelievable how much love I have in my heart and I haven't even met him yet. Mark and I talk to him constantly and just pray over his sweet life. Part of me is terrified to try and mother a boy - how do I even do that? Everyone knows I'm a girls girl. But the thought of doing this parenting thing with Mark calms me down. I know he will be the best Dad - he is already planning the poor child's entry into timbit hockey hahaah!

I love Psalm 139:13. 
"For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother's womb"

How incredible is that? God knows our baby boy and is forming all of his parts inside of me! Lord, you are so cool!!!

Our baby is kicking lots and is a little mover. I think he likes rolling over
because it will be constant kicks for a solid 30-45 seconds as he moves to a new position. uhhh I love him! Okay, I'll stop.


Thanks for letting me share our very exciting news with you today! Hope you have had the best Christmas ever.

xo
Mark and Maddie 




12.17.2015

HALFWAY THERE

17 weeks


20 weeks

20 weeks. Yippie!

I am so thrilled to write that we have hit the half way point. Compared to the last time I wrote, I was feeling miserable and not even sure I wanted to go through with another pregnancy. It actually was no fun what so ever.

At around 16 weeks, my life changed. I got some energy back and the best part was I stopped throwing up. One day I woke up and the sick to my stomach all day feeling was gone. I didn't want to cheer just yet incase it would come back but it hasn't. Mark and I are so relived that I am not throwing up every day!

So for about a month I've been feeling great. Still tired and cramps sometimes but nothing to really mention…nothing compared to the first 16.


Here are some facts where I am at right now at the halfway point:

Size: baby is the size of a banana

I still haven't felt this baby kick me. Sometimes I get a tad worried why I haven't felt any movement yet, but I haven't sat still [ever?] so I'm not sure if I'm just not taking enough time to rest and lay on my back to see.

Cravings: cheese. anything cheese. cheese bread and marble cheese have been the favourites. I really like pickles too… thats a cliche one but has been true for me. I go through about a jar a week

Weight Gain: I thought I would have gained a lot more and think I overestimated to some people but I've really only gained 10 pounds (drastically is different whether I weigh myself in the morning or at night)

Sleep Patterns: I've been really restless at night. The one and only cure I have found is back tickles from  my husband. I will be so restless and then before he's 5 minutes in I'm already asleep. Have I mentioned that I have the BEST husband ever? I wake up 1-3 times a night to use the bathroom and body pillows have been my best friend. I can't sleep without a body pillow now.

Baby Room: we haven't really purchased anything yet. Waiting till the business of Christmas is over and we can focus on baby once 2016 hits.

So thats the update. So much more encouraging then the first trimester post. If you missed it you can check it out here

Can't believe Christmas is so soon!! *Most of my shopping is done:)
xo
Maddie


12.09.2015

God Doesn't Need You


This fall season has been one for the books. It's been absolutely insane. Trying to figure out all these changes with my body has been tough. At 16 weeks the nausea finally went away and for that I am so thankful- I am feeling so much better. Work wise, it has been such a whirlwind. God is so faithful and has been so good to our church and to me but oh my, I've learnt a lot and been forced to deal with stuff I haven't wanted to deal with.

Through all the craziness of our pastor and wife just abruptly leaving and Mark and I trying to fill in so many gaps- somehow God has thread through this life lesson so loud and clear over these past fifteen weeks.

He doesn't need me.

Now, some people would find offence to that… but it has been the most comforting thing to my spirit over this season. God's got it. God is so much bigger, so in control, so sovereign that whether I am on board or not, God will still do His thing. Whether people leave abruptly or not, God knew and isn't phased.

God has a plan. He always has since the beginning of time and has a plan to come back soon and rule and reign on the new earth. God has a sovereign plan in place. He has it all covered. The bible says in Matthew 16:18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." God is building His church and nothing, not even the gates of Hell will overpower it. Our God is so strong. This stuff excites me. It gives me so much hope. 


& the most humbling part about this lesson I've been learning… God doesn't need me but He wants me to be apart of his divine Kingdom plan. Wow. Thank you Lord. You want me? Sinful, messed up, selfish me?? Yup. He wants me and wants to use my life to bring glory to His name. He gives my life purpose, meaning and significance. I am in a fight - fighting for souls on the Lord's army. 

and it's thrilling!! I love this journey with God. I love being apart of His team knowing that He has already won. What has gotten me through these past crazy months is knowing that God has complete control and will continue to build His church no matter what. 

No matter what season of life you are going through, know that God has a plan, is in control and is completely sovereign. You can trust those promises. 

xo
Maddie

11.29.2015

Guest Post: Steph on Pregnancy

there are few people that I trust and love more than this lady. Steph is an incredible, a lifelong friend and I am so excited for you to read her thoughts. She is expecting her beautiful baby any time now and blogged about her experience. So blessed to know her, and I know you will be blessed reading this post. xo Maddie

not Steph's belly - just a cute pic:)

I have looked forward to being pregnant and having a baby probably since I was twelve years old. I would cut out pictures from magazines of what my husband and children would look like as a family and would write captions/stories beside the pictures. I gave them names and personalities. I dreamed of a large family. I still dream of a large family, but it will be whatever God has planned for us.

I have kept a journal throughout this pregnancy because I want to be able to look back and compare experiences with each child – my excitement, my fears, my cravings, my lovely weight gain, etc. This blog post is not just for the purpose of keeping a diary or remembering my experience, but to share struggles and truth about pregnancy that maybe some other moms or moms-to-be can relate to. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience and journey is their own and very different.

The following are a few personal struggles I have had throughout the pregnancy.

1. Exhaustion.

First trimester hits pretty hard. The constant feeling of nausea drains your energy and you may find that sleep is the only escape from it. This beautiful child inside of you is using a lot of your energy to grow. Your body is doing incredible work. I can’t complain though – I only dealt with this sickness from weeks 8-12, but I can sympathize for the moms that struggle with this. When I had the chance, I was sleeping 12-hour nights in addition to my naps during the day. I was still struggling at 6pm to keep my eyes open for a couple more hours. This exhaustion led to feelings of failure in other areas where I no longer had energy or time.

2. Feeling of failure.

I needed sleep for the baby. I understood that. But that didn’t make me feel better about not having the energy/the stomach to cook meals for my husband, to provide the same “smile all the time” care for my patients at work, to keep the house clean and organized, or to continue helping with youth and other church events. I couldn’t do it all and get the sleep I needed, but if I spent more time on one of those areas in my life, the other areas suffered (at least that’s how I felt).  I have always struggled with being a perfectionist, but God is continually working in me and sanctifying me in these times when I can’t keep things “just so”.  I am so thankful for my amazing husband during these overwhelming times and how supportive and understanding he has been. As I moved into the second trimester, my energy levels came back. I LOVED the second trimester. I finally started to feel the baby move and a bump slowly started to appear! But as the third came creeping up, other insecurities did as well.

3. The baby belly.

I love baby bellies! I find them so adorable on every mom – except me! In the first trimester, I had put a pillow in my shirt to imagine what I was going to look like in a few short months. I couldn’t wait to start growing - to know that my baby was growing! With that being said, I haven’t talked with any mom yet that loves everything about their baby belly. I am about 35 weeks now. Until a couple weeks ago I was still running. This has now turned into short walks with a few yoga classes during the week. Unfortunately my trips to the gym are no longer something I look forward to. When you are not pregnant, a main motivator for working out is seeing the progress – lower number on the scale, more energy, quicker pace while running, heavier weights, etc. As I went through my pregnancy, going to the gym, my numbers on the scale continued to go higher, I started feeling short of breath as the baby pushed up on my diaphragm, the speed on the treadmill got slower, and my weight lifting turned into light yoga stretches. There is no visible progress motivating you to go back to the gym the next day. That being said, I am still aware of all the health benefits that come along with exercise during pregnancy so I continue as much as I can.

I do love some aspects of my baby belly. I love watching my baby’s kicks and summersaults. If you spend the money on fancy maternity clothes you can feel super cute too. At the same time it is also an insecurity. I do stare in the mirror and look at the beginning of stretch marks, question what is happening to my belly button, try on five shirts a day to find one I feel okay in (usually my husbands now), and wonder how my husband still finds me attractive. These feelings are an every day battle to overcome.

4. First time mom anxiety.

If a first time mom-to-be has not asked you for an opinion on a baby product or advice, please do not tell them what they “absolutely need”. We have spent hours going through baby product reviews that tell us that if we do/don’t buy this specific brand our baby will probably die… okay maybe not to that extreme, but some moms are crazy! We first time moms have made a registry or list of what we need and edited it multiple times questioning if we could possibly ever be fully prepared! Along with that, please do not ask us if we are ready for our baby’s arrival. If we are not ready (which I don’t know if you ever feel fully “ready”), then it provokes more anxiety and panic. For example, I am 35 weeks, and really could go into labor anytime. I do not have my nursery done, I do not have my bags packed, and I do not have many of the essential things I need to have prepared (carseat). Every time I am asked if I am ready, I have a to-do list run through my mind and an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy as a new mom. I will smile, I will answer your question, and I will not be upset that you asked, but this is just an FYI that your well intended, show of interest, can trigger/add to a new mom’s anxiety.

At the end of the day, I love being pregnant. My back aches, I don’t sleep, my legs go numb sometimes, my feet swell, I have heartburn, and I feel like a walrus – but I love being pregnant. All of these not so normal things become normal and tolerable when you think about that pain in your ribs being your precious baby’s tiny foot. I love knowing that God is forming this beautiful, perfect child inside of me and I cannot wait to meet him/her.

Thank you for reading through my rant. I hope this will help some other pregnant women to feel not so alone or guilty for not being overjoyed 24/7 during this time. It’s not always easy, not always fun, but I know that it will be totally worth every minute in the end.

Love,
Steph

11.10.2015

First Trimester

11 weeks


so this is so exciting. I've jotted down thoughts and spoken so many of my feelings out loud to Mark but to put them on this blog in this space is so exciting. I actually get to blog about my pregnancy now!

You must know that I adore so many blogs and many [cough cough* most] are of mothers. I love reading every story and how they process motherhood. I especially look forward to reading their pregnancy thoughts and stories, they are wonderful. But now, now I have the freedom to write my own and that is the best! I can't wait to look back at these posts and read them with my kiddos:)

so first trimester.

it sucked. a lot. 

I've always dreamed of being a mom and wanted to be a mom. In my "trying to fit in with the world days" I wanted a career working for the United Nations in my heels saving the world living downtown nyc, but since those days are long long over I've loved motherhood and wanted this so badly one day. I would pretend to be pregnant, try to produce a baby bump after eating too much and casually look at babies clothes and shops- just so I could be prepared. Pregnancy is so beautiful and I wanted to be ready when my turn came. I had this idea that the entire 9 months would be so blissful. Sure, mothers got sick, but really when you are creating a baby inside you it's just way to exciting!… what a wake up call I had.

the pregnancy test read positive late August and we were overjoyed. A baby! After months of praying the Lord has given us a miracle and we are pregnant! That time was the best. Telling our parents and siblings right away (4 weeks) was the best… then it went downhill.

I haven't had an awful pregnancy by any means. But I haven't been myself. So tired, throwing up, throat burning, dizziness and the worst part about first trimester is that I wasn't able to tell people!!! I was so tired one night and not myself and I knew everyone would understand if I told them but I couldn't and had to fake it. That sucked a lot.  I knew that I needed to eat something small every 2 hours or else I'd probably throw up, but then I am still working at a restaurant where I am around food for 4-5 hours without a break… I knew if I just told them they would understand and I could eat some crackers but I couldn't.

At one point around 9 weeks I said to Mark "I am never doing this again. This is so awful." I was so unproductive due to my tiredness and there was a lot of pressure and stuff I was working through with our jobs. So much for wanting 4 kids I thought… if I can make it through 2 pregnancies that will be amazing.

15 weeks
The first 1/3 of this pregnancy was rough. I wish more of my blogger friends told me that so I didn't have such an unrealistic expectation. But it passes, the weeks went by slowly and I was under a lot of stress but they passed and we made it through.

I am 15 weeks and into my second trimester. We have told the world, I have a baby bump and am able to make it through a full day without a nap. Right now, I am loving pregnancy. Last night I was jumping around the room doing a happy dance because I adore our baby so much. I am so in love with this child it's crazy. I want to meet him/her so so badly.

But first trimester, that was rough. I'm so thankful to have gotten through it and when so little people knew my husband and family were amazing. Their support is unreal.




10.26.2015

WE'RE GOING TO BE PARENTS!!


YAY!!!! insert all the most exciting emojis!!

Mark and I are elated to share the news that we are pregnant!


We are beyond blessed to have a little one growing inside of me. We have prayed over this baby long before we started trying and know that life is a gift and miracle from the Lord. We are praising God for most exciting news ever!


I am 13 weeks today and just finishing up my first trimester. I must say that this pregnancy stage hasn't been the most fun. I've been very nausious and throwing up which hasn't helped with our busy schedules but on the whole I am just so excited! I am looking forward to the second trimester where all the books say my energy will come back! That would be amazing. Mark has been so supportive and encouraging me to take those naps…haha.


It all started on Mark's birthday over lunch at the end of April. We were chatting about all things and he brought up the idea of having a baby. Sure, we've talked about it and people joke but we hadn't had a serious sit down conversation about when we were thinking and what would be the right time for our family.

We spent a few months praying about it, crunching numbers, looking at our future jobs and career paths. I love Mark so much and married life has been the absolute best with him! I am so thankful for the 2.5 years we will have together being married just the two of us. Yet, we both felt ready for this next stage. We had this peace and we just decided to go for it. We were overjoyed when we read that the test was positive in August.


We went for our first ultrasound last week and got to see our baby's heartbeat and he/she was moving its arms around. It took my breath away as I watched this beautiful baby living inside of me. Our due date is May 3.


I have been dying to share this news for so long and am so blessed to be able to tell the world now!!

We are so excited to be MOM and DAD in May! I knew Mark would make the best Dad since I was 15 when we worked together at camp for the first time. Kids adored him and my heart went crazy. He would play with them, be silly with them and all the campers just wanted to hang out with PacMan. In these past eight years of being with Mark I've been able to watch interaction after interaction of how he loves babies and children and takes care of them so well. My heart is so full at the thought that we will get to be parents and love on this baby. He is going to be the best Dad!


I honestly love this child so much already and it has only been 13 weeks!

Baby, you are so loved and adored by your mom and dad and we are stoked to meet you! We have been praying over you every single night that if its the Lord's will you would grow into a happy healthy baby. Keep growing strong… Mom promises to not eat too much candy!

Thanks for reading and celebrating with us! Thank you to one of my best friends Larissa for taking these pictures for us. We will cherish these forever. xoxo

10.19.2015

Is Porn Only a Male Struggle? + My Story with Porn



I wrote a blog post about female porn in the spring and shared a bit of my story with struggling with "female porn." [ aka, false expectations women put on men in relationships from romantic comedies, books etc]. If you haven't read it, you can check it out here.

I had many woman comment saying they were struggling with reading erotica and placing false expectations on future boyfriends/husbands. These were the conversations I was hoping to have. Then, I also had woman email me that they struggle with "female porn" but struggle with watching porn too. The woman I talked to all felt so ashamed that this was even a struggle for them. It's suppose to be something guys struggle with but not girls right? Us ladies struggle with reading fifty shades of grey but not the hardcore porn stuff right? I started thinking and chatting to others about males watching porn vs. female. Then I did some very basic research (I always want to be careful when researching about porn…it can get dangerous fast). Here's some of the basic facts.

1) Women watch porn. [23% of Pornhub's viewers are women]
2) Women watch porn longer than men on average
3) The majority of women who are watching porn fall into the age category of 18-24. my age demographic. [36%] [Women between 18-34 make up 64% of viewers]

Then I looked up what my go to Christian ladies say when it comes to sex, porn, masterbation etc. I started reading their blogs and listening to the podcasts they were posting. Over and over and over again women were saying they were addicted- yet so ashamed. It's a mans struggle, not a woman's - let alone a Christian women.

In a lot of males testimonies you hear them struggling with porn and masterbation. Yet, how many ladies get up and tell that in their story? Even though many of them are struggling with it.

Mark and I have worked for many years with Christian teens. Many of those guys come straight up to Mark and have a PAM (porn and masterbation) questions. I was thinking how many ladies have approached me so boldly and asked those same questions…very few.

I think the first thing we need to get over is that many godly Christian women struggle with porn. Just like many godly Christian men struggle with it. Yes, more men struggle with porn, but that doesn't mean it's not a women's issue.

Secondly, I don't think there is a lot of support out there for woman struggling with porn. Sure, my non Christian friends talk about porn and watching porn with their boyfriends to get going… I think in our North American culture it is normal for women to watch porn now, but in the church - I'm not sure how many youth groups are talking to teen girls about the addiction.

So why do I even care about this? Great question! 

I have a heart to see all Christians but especially Christian women walk unashamed in who God has called them to be. Yet, I keep having conversations with women who feel like they are living a double life, because they love Jesus so much but are struggling with such a "dirty taboo sin." Satan is keeping them in bondage because of the stereotype women watching porn gets in the church. They feel that if "anyone knew or their future boyfriend/husband found out" they would run. I want us ladies to live in the full freedom of the cross. That means confessing our sins, and getting help especially when it comes to addictions. Having a mentor or someone to talk to about it can provide such hope and encouragement. Even telling a trusted Christian mentor can feel so amazing - just to get it off your chest.

I remember in grade ten my boyfriend ask me to watch a movie with him. Little did I know the movie was porn. I remember feeling so helpless not wanting to hurt him or not be cool and ask him to turn it off but knowing that this was wrong. He didn't even ask me to do anything with him afterward and when I went home I felt so ashamed. I didn't realize the images that would stay with me for so long. I can recall the sex scene typing this out today. I thank the Lord that I didn't get addicted like I know so many of my sisters in Christ are but that doesn't mean I didn't start casually watching porn. So I thought who can I tell who won't judge me and think I am the worst Christian ever? No one came to mind. I was working at a Christian camp in the summer and knew I had mentors but I couldn't think of one person to tell to help me. It was devastating. One summer I remember brining up the topic of porn to test if there was anyone I could confide in. The girls and the older mentors all said things like "gross, disgusting, thats not what Godly women do" and other comments that made me feel like I was the worst for struggling with porn and masterbation. People were judging me for kissing guys let alone watching porn. That summer going into grade 11 I had myself convinced that I was the only Christian girl on the planet who struggled with this and that I was the worst Christian ever. It was a long couple years that I stayed in bondage. Yes, God still used me in incredible ways and I grew in my relationship with Him and learnt lots but I wasn't living in the full freedom I am now. I always had my secret sin that i thought would never make me good enough to date a Christian guy or "really be used by God." 

I got that freedom by reading God's word. It came from time spent in the bible letting scripture define me and not my sin. Once that freedom came [long journey] I vowed to myself and the Lord that I would be more open about my struggle [in a tactful way] if the Lord would use me to love on and encourage other Godly women struggling with this.

Wow, God has answered that prayer a hundred times over. I remember one girl around my age who I looked up to so much. She was the ultra Christian and everyone adored her. I shared very little of my story with her and then we changed topics. She came back with tears in her eyes later that day and said "I struggle with it too. I'm addicted." I remember just looking at her, hugging her and realizing this is something that so many of us are keeping a secret and keeping us in bondage.

God has given me countless opportunities to pray with ladies and chat about 'sexual sin'. I am not proud of my sin. But today, I wouldn't change my story for anything. God is using my weakness to bring glory to His name. He is using me to chat with girls and ladies who are struggling with this sin and just need to know someone has been there. I don't want any girl struggling with porn and wanting help and a mentor and having the same experience I did… not being able to trust anyone because they think they will be judged.  I want to open God's word and read truth and freedom over these beautiful ladies. We are called to live this life in full freedom.

Males struggle with porn and so do females. I think the church should know this. 

If this is something you struggle with, know that I have prayed for you already. I prayed through my research and before even writing this blog. I prayed hard to know what to say online and prayed that you would find freedom in Christ knowing that He has given you the strength to overcome all sin. Jesus died for it all. Remember you are not alone. I can think of so many Godly ladies I know struggling with this right now. Remember there is hope in Christ.

If you want to chat please send me an email. I'd love to share more if you need, hear your story and pray for you.

check back on Wednesday for another post!

so much love,
maddie


*stats from this website http://www.pornhub.com/insights/what-women-want -  

10.16.2015

October: Currently

October is flying by! I can't believe we have already hit the half way point. I am definitely a summer girl but this cooler weather has been nice and my hunter boots and roots sweats are in full swing!

Here is some things I've been loving in October:

this podcast. I've just started listening to it and it has been so awesome. it answers all the questions we are all so scared to ask!

i've enjoyed this sermon on the signs us Christians need to know about the end times. We don't know the exact date or time when Jesus will return but we know it will be soon and we know that we have been prepared to notice the signs and not be caught off guard.

along with end times if you are a believer I suggest you download this app. Behold Israel has been a great (and easy) source of information to keep us in the loop.

if I had endless money I would buy this planner for the upcoming year. It is my type A personality dream! a girl can dream. and I love Elise and everything she produces.

this Lecrae video was inspiring. I look up to him so much and the role model he is to me but for so many young men. God is using him so much… check out this video.

bought this to track my sleep, heart rate and steps and loving my fitbit. of course, bought it used for a sweet deal and loving it while I lead my fitness class.

looking forward to ladies night out at my church this Saturday. If you are free this Saturday why don't you join me?



looking forward to another couple jam packed weeks! 

so much love,

Maddie
xo

10.14.2015

This Past Month




this past month….

has been a blur

has been exhausting

has been challenging 

this past month…

I've had the best God moments

I've heard His voice clearly

I've been tested through trials and didn't doubt God or His plan but came running at His feet

this past month I have grown and I am so thankful.

I want to apologize to you, because of my lack of writing. I've felt all the feelings this past month and knew I wasn't in a place to blog about it. I've said this many times but this blog is my online journal, an honest raw picture into my every day life and emotion. But it wasn't right to display all those emotions over the world wide web (good and bad) during this past month. Every time I opened a "new post" tab and started typing I felt the Lord saying "not yet Maddie." I knew that I needed my joy back from the Lord before I could start blogging again.

I was reminded that God loves the church and He adores His people. It's been God's church from day one and that's not changing. Through this transition phase I have been so encouraged in the tangible ways God is working through His church. My sweet husband and I have been tested physically, emotionally and spiritually and have grown so close in these last six weeks. We know trials produces character and I've fallen deeper in love watching my man's character shine. We are so close and even though these past few weeks have been exhausting, I am so thankful for them because we have gotten so strong together. Oh, I love my man so much!

I am really excited for this next season… I was dreading it even last week because my endless to do list - hence why I couldn't blog but now I am so excited. Even though my type A plans have been completely ditched of what my fall was going to look like (click here to read my birthday letter with all the original plans) I know God's plans are so much better than mine and I am excited to see where he takes us.

So I am in a great place…now. Mark and I are reading everything we can about helping run a church for the time being until we find an interim pastor. We are dreaming God dreams and really believing this is where we are called to be in this insane season still. I am screwing up daily, forgetting so many things and have a to do list that is around 42 tasks for the week. I still cry, get frustrated at myself and put the weight of running a Sunday service on myself. Sleep still isn't constant but God is so faithful despite all my screw ups and sin.

So if you are someone who prays, please pray for Mark and I. Pray for strength as we are a small staff getting through this transition phrase. Pray for strength. Pray for salvations and people growing in their walk with the  Lord. God is doing incredible things at the church and the church is still growing because it's God's church. Pray our eyes will be fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith and not on the earthly things around us.

Lastly, thank you for reading. It means more than I could ever type that you would take time out of your day and read this blog. It sucked so much reading all these other blogs in the past six weeks and not writing on foreverhis. My goal this fall was to blog three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Life is still insane right now but that is my hope! So please subscribe, bookmark this blog or check back for more posts.

Thank you so much. Have an awesome week.

xo
Mads.




9.07.2015

Fitness Class Coming Soon!

September already? I can barely believe it and with this amazing weather it has not felt like summer is coming to an end and fall is fast approaching.

I love summer so much (I am not winter person) but I love routines too… and the fall provides a fresh start, fresh routines and not winter weather, making fall one of the most magical times of the year.

Along with routines, my fitness routine needs a good remodelling. I've been trying to work out 2 times a week throughout the summer but its been tough. I am excited to get back to working out more regularly…. and I would love to invite you to come workout with me! (females only)

Last winter I started a fitness class at my home church and it was a blast. I wrote about it here, if you would like to read how it all began.

September 21 I am starting it up again! It is a dance fitness class and is for all ages! Moms are welcome to bring their daughters and grandmas are invited too. I try to prep everyone for each level of fitness.


My heart is just to workout to Christian music, worshipping the Lord while getting and intense workout. It is a no judgement class and as long as your moving it doesn't matter if you are doing the moves or not!… oh and the best part - its FREE!

If you've been meaning to workout more regularly this fall I encourage you to check out this class:)

All the details are in the promo, but check out the Facebook page here to get updates and cancellations, inspiration and workout videos.

If you have any questions, please send me an email at madeline_hockley@hotmail.com. I'd love to chat more about it with you!

Happy Holiday Monday!
Yay for routines and the chance to workout with lovely ladies :)

9.04.2015

Remain In Me


John 15: 4-5
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Been saying this verse out loud over my life this past week. Reminding myself that I can do nothing, yes nothing without Christ.

Just typing that tonight is so convicting and encourages me to stay close and remain in Christ. John 15 is such a practical passage and I love the imagery of the vine and branches.

Jesus is the vine, I am the branch. If my branch breaks off, I can do nothing. Yet, if I remain close to Jesus, I will bear much fruit. Not maybe, but I will bear fruit. That is so exciting.

I want to bear fruit for Jesus. I want my life to matter. I want to do something in this world that makes a difference for the glory of God…. but apart from Jesus and the vine, I am useless and can do nothing.

Let's remain close to the Lord knowing that you will bear much fruit.

How are you practically staying close to the Lord? What fruit have you been able to see recently in your life?


9.02.2015

My 23rd Birthday Letter

Yay for turning 23 today!

What I love around my birthday is that I get time to reflect on the past year and make goals for the future. I write a letter to myself every year to capture the big moments and wanted to share it with you!


Dear Maddie,

What a year!! Every year just gets better and better and my 22nd year has been one for the books. Let's recap: two days after turning 22 I started a new job working for Emmanuel Church. My hometown church hired me! Unreal. I am so blessed being able to do ministry as a "job." So blessed. I know this is where God is calling me personally and I am so stoked to be working in my dream job. Family wise: Mark is doing an incredible job working at Emmanuel. People love him and its been so wonderful watching him grow in his faith, leadership skills and love for the church. To be honest, Mark and I were a little concerned how we would work this past year living together and working together in our home. Early October we moved into the parsonage at Emmanuel. A super awesome house with an entire bedroom dedicated to a walk in closet (gah- my dream come true!!). It's been awesome living on the church property. I enjoy working from home and although there have been difficult times figuring out when I need to wake up and when to stop working late at night, it has been a blessing. So moving and a new job. Thank you Lord for making all these transitions so smooth…maybe too smooth?

Mark has always had a heart for ministry as in working for a church, while my heart for ministry has always been on a volunteer basis. After four months of working at Emmanuel, Mark and I started talking about how much we love it and really feel this is where God is calling us- to this full time ministry thing. When Mark and I were dating I clearly remember threatening him multiple times (not joking) that if he wanted to go into ministry work full time I was not dating/marrying him. I was convinced I was not a pastor's wife nor did I want pastors kids. Mark assured me that he wanted to be a teacher in the public school system, summers off, great pension… comfortable lifestyle for me. As I write this I can't help but laugh out loud at my screen… oh maddie…the things you said a couple years ago. Lord, you really do have your own agenda when it comes to our lives and I will still follow you if you call us to a pastors lifestyle. I just want what you want for our lives…but really pastor's kids scare me a little bit!

So Mark believes that God is calling him to pastor a church. The most surpassing, amazing miracle is that I believe it too. Despite all my fears about being poor and moving around a lot, I've realized that the bible doesn't ask me to live a comfortable lifestyle but once that shows this broken world Christ. I am all in 100% ready to support my husband at 22. God has given us such a peace this last year as we have prayed about it and sought His heart. I am excited to write that we are just waiting on Mark's transcripts and he is headed back to school! This time, his masters of theology. 

Through this 22nd year of praying for our new careers directions we've had to ask some hard questions. Financially, that means me working at Crossroads a few extra shifts to afford his school. But once again, I am so happy to work more so we can afford school because I believe in my husband and the calling God has placed on his life/our lives. The scripture "two becomes one" has been playing over in my head as I type this. It is really true and I am noticing it in such a practical way this past year. Mark and I are one. We are doing this life together as long as the Lord comes back. His struggles and joys and mine and vice versa. Lord, thank you for giving me Mark. He has been the most loving, incredible husband this past year through all our transitions and I am so humbled that you allowed us to be together. Thank you for giving me my sweet man. I honestly love him more each day and I can't imagine what you have in store for us as we take your name wherever you call us (but my vote is staying in Elmira!!ahha)

I still feel like a teenager most days and not turning 23, but reflecting on the year I can see my spiritual growth in the Lord and that is the most exciting and rewarding. God, thank you for working on me. Thank you for not giving up when I screw up so much! I want 23 to be the best year yet for us. I want to look more like you, smell like you and allow you to use me to bring people to you. I know my faith is little but I will go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do. I long to bring others to you and to grow closer to you. I want to know you better, have longer life chats with you and dig deeper into your word. Thank you God for being so faithful to me and for blessing me with so much. Continue to teach me how to bless others with everything you have given me. Each day that we journey together I love you more. 

Reflecting back on 22, I can say that I never doubted God's sovereignty or His plan. I know God is in control. I know He knows what He is doing and I know where my place is. Sure, I ask a lot of questions about poverty, sickness, slavery, cancer and people dying so young - but never in those times did I question God's sovereignty or His plan. God is just and loving and is coming back and I am so secure in that. 22 was a great year to secure so many truths I knew in my head into my heart and every day lifestyle. 22 was also a great year to be secure in what God thinks of me. I have come so far with getting my worth from God, not others and just sitting at God's feet letting Him love on me. God and I have real conversations and I can't wait to read His word (the bible). It's no longer a chore or a question if God could really love me. I know these answers and now want to share it with others as God continues to work on all my other sin with me. I can't wait to see how my relationship with God will grow in my 23rd year. 

So happy 23 to me!!! Can't wait to see what this year holds. So excited, God have your way in my life.

xoxo

8.28.2015

Do Something


"Do Something"

This is a phrase I write over all my journals, planners and speak out loud often.

As a perfectionist I get super discouraged when I realize (every day) that I can't fix something, change something or learn something overnight. I often just feel overwhelmed by the problems of this world and the hurt that so many people experience.

For example in a given day I want to invite all the homeless people over for supper and hear their stories, I want the teenage moms with no support to come live with me, I want to love on the girls who are finding their worth from others all praying that they receive Christ and are fully living in His love and calling…. and my list can go on.

Watching the news is so discouraging but I am reminded over and over again that I can't do everything but I can do something. I remind myself to not get bogged down by all the things I can't do but to do something. This is why I write this phrase all over my to do lists and journals. It's God's battle and trust me, He is coming back to redeem this world and restore! My job: do something while I'm on this earth that is pleasing and glorifies God.

If you are getting depressed with your massive to do list or realizing you can't change everything, please be encouraged today to just "do something."

Happy Friday!
xo

8.24.2015

"No, I Didn't Marry Young because I just Wanted Sex"


I got engaged when I was 20 and married only four months after turning 21. Mark and I had been dating on and off (my fault, you can read our story here) for 5 years. By the time we got married, I was finished school and Mark only had one semester left. We were ready, so excited and knew this was the next step in our relationship.

The one comment we heard over and over again from dear friends and not so dear friends is that the only reason (or main reason) we were getting married this young is that we just wanted to have sex. The only reason we couldn't wait another few years is because we wanted sex. Clearly, thats the only logical reason to marry before 30! It never really bothered me, because I am so in love with Mark, it was more funny that people thought this way. So my tone in writing this post is pure fun!!  Yes, sex is a great gift inside marriage but sorry to say that it wasn't the reason.  Here are five of the many many reasons why I married young and so thankful that I did!!

1. We both adored Jesus and then each other
No couple, Christian or non Christian is perfect going into their marriage. We aren't perfect people so it is impossible to expect that. One piece of advice people gave me before I was ready to marry is to make sure my relationship with Jesus had some sort of foundation. Marriage works when your worth comes from the Lord. Mark and I started dating when I was 15 but most of high school and first year was spent getting my worth from others. It wasn't until I was put in a situation in South Africa to love vulnerable children that I cried out to God asking Him to pour out His love on those kids through me. He answered with: "Maddie you need to accept my love first, before you can truly love others with it." Obviously this was for my South Africa kids but it was a key turning point for my relationship with Mark too. Once I got that foundation, I was in a spot where I could love Mark with the Lord's love and not depend on Him for my worth. #letsgetmarried

2. Age is irrelevant, maturity is everything
I know some 28 year old men that are not ready to lead a wife and family and I know some 22 year old men that are. I am going to brag for a second and say that I have the best husband. Since I was 15, Mark cared about loving me like Jesus, serving me practically and caring for my spiritual needs more than anything. Mark is loyal, committed, selfless and (in my opinion) is well beyond His years spiritually. Mark was ready to lead a family well before He got married. I could easily see this before I even said yes. Remember, culture changes and so do the "cultural rules".  My grandparents generation it was normal to get married at our age. My parents generation too. Many countries around the world it is still normal… but suddenly in my generation I am "too young and just want sex." If you are both mature enough to get married, do it! If you need a few years then by all means wait! But it has nothing to do with the sex.

3. Are you committed? 
I remember two different conversations of people encouraging us to move in together and try it before committing. We were just too young to know.That way it was an easy out if all of the sudden living with Mark showed his flaws and I wanted to run.  Sorry, I don't want to "play house and married life" with my partner with zero commitment. That is, in my opinion, so hurtful and cruel to do to another human being. We are such a selfish generation. If he can't meet my needs, if his flaws are too big... I can just walk away because its all about me… urg.. NO!
Commitment is key and so much better. You don't have to worry if one day your partner will leave if it's not convenient or if you've changed too much - with commitment you are both saying you are sticking it out through the toughest days and the times you just don't like each other.
This may come as a surprise but you can commit to someone without living with them before. Another surprise, there were no "new flaws" or shocking things I learnt about Mark after we started living together. If you and your partner are committed to each other, don't believe in divorce and believe in the biblical model of marriage, "laying down your life for each other" I promise you 100% it will work despite not sleeping together or living together before hand.

4. Marriage is something God created and loves
Let's not forget. God created marriage and anything God creates is beautiful and has purpose. Marriage isn't some evolutionary survival tactic. God created marriage to be a picture a reflection of how He loves His church. Marriage is an earthly example to Christians and the rest of the world how God loves and works. This is something to take very serious. When people look at my marriage, do they see Christ or selfish ambition? This convicts Mark and I all the time as we constantly ask this question over our marriage and lives. The question we had to ask ourselves while we were dating is can we model this? Read Ephesians 5:22-32.  
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [a]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
Most people who say "you just want to have sex" have no idea the weight Mark and I put on ourselves to see if we could with the Holy Spirits strength live this out. We fail constantly, and back to point one, don't expect perfection before getting married or you will never marry.
God never said "you have to be 27 to model this properly" - God never put an age on us but an expectation. Mark and I prayed hard and were so humbled to strive to let God shine through our marriage. Just a quick example. So many of my girlfriends can't believe how amazing Mark is to me and how much he adores me and serves me. Each and every time they say that in disbelief I never miss an opportunity to share the gospel. I start with "Mark is unreal but its because He is loving me like Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her." I get to share God's heart for marriage and what it looks like. There is nothing sweeter to be able to share the gospel with people because they notice your marriage is different.

5. Doing life with your best friend is the best
Mark not only is my husband, but my best friend. Everything I do, I want to do and experience with him by my side. Once we knew we loved each other, loved Jesus even more, had commitment and were ready for the responsibility of striving to model our marriage after Christ's example, we were giddy with excitement to get engaged. Sure, I was so excited to one day have sex with my husband and after being sexually active before I dated Mark the temptation got bad sometimes for us. I want to say that desiring your partner and wanting to be intimate with your partner is a desire from the Lord. The desire is to be celebrated! Acting on it before marriage however is wrong (trust me I would know).
After 1.5 years of being married I can honestly say that I love doing life with Mark. It didn't make sense for us after we had committed to each other to then just date for a couple more years? That seemed backwards and it wasn't because of the sex… have I said that enough? ahha!
Someone told me to my face while I was engaged that " I was ruining my twenties getting settled down and that I would change and regret this." I never responded back because I was so caught off guard. What I would say now? I am not ruining my twenties - they are the best years of my life so far because I get to wake up, look to my left and see the most loving man I have ever met and he is all mine. I would say that I am not getting settled down just because I live with my best friend - we have the most fun adventures together. & I would say that yes, I am changing. I will change in my twenties, thirties, forties etc and I pray that I would constantly change more into the image of God along with Mark. Change is something to be celebrated and I am so glad Mark and I are striving to change more like Christ.

#suchalongblogpost!

If you've come this far, thats impressive. To conclude, I love sex and my sex life but that was not the main reason or even close to the top reason that I got married at 21.

I also love this link buzzfeed did that my sister in law shared called 17 Annoying Things You Should Stop Saying To Young Married Couples. Although it's not a biblical perspective it carries on the fun!

happy Monday! come back on Friday for a new post or put in your email (top right) to receive these posts. also if you liked this post why not share it on Facebook or Pinterest? It would mean so much!




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