Jesus Sanctified the Soil He Bled On!

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The Chapel here at Big Woods.

On Thursdays, everyone in training takes a day off from classes and chores to go into the Abbeville community to serve and minister to the people. It is quickly becoming one of the things I look most forward to. Each week, I am assigned to go to the Christian Service Center and volunteer during their weekly free Pregnancy Clinic. The Christian Service Center is run by the local Catholic church, and acts as a food pantry, free café, and bill assistance for the local community. On Thursdays though, they have begun a new program to help support pregnant mothers and their families.

Each Thursday, I am humbled and edified by the strength and resolve of these women we minister to. I get to talk with the mothers while they wait, play with their children, and most importantly pray with them. Many of them lack a support system, have no income, are living on food stamps, suffer from mental illness, are raising two other kids at home, are living in unsafe situations, and find themselves pregnant again. I know that I cannot begin to understand their situation, but I can allow their suffering and injustice to be mine. I can speak a message of hope and consolation to their hearts. I can share with them the one who is Healer of the brokenhearted, the sick, and the suffering. I know it is Jesus who can heal them. He can bring them courage, peace, safety, freedom, strength, and restore them to new life.

As for me, I get to be a friendly face, or smile that they don’t often get to see. I get to listen to them, to ask them questions and show them their dignity. I get to be compassion and understanding. Hope and support. I get to celebrate in their victories. I get to celebrate in the new life they are preparing to bring into the world. I get to congratulate them. To praise them. And most importantly, to love them.

These last couple weeks I have been keenly aware of the suffering around me both in the Abbeville community and in my fellow ‘missionaries in training’. While preparing for missions, I‘ve been praying that the Lord will increase the capacity of my heart to love and give me an insatiable zeal for souls. That He might give great compassion and a heart that breaks for my fellow man. Already now, I think He has began answering this prayer.

However, at the same time that my eyes are being opened and heart is growing, doubt has found a way of sneaking in. I found myself in prayer this week asking God why. Why do these woman suffer in this way? Why are my own new friends and family suffering and downtrodden? Why is following you so hard at times? Why does it hurt to love? Why is life so messy?

And as I sat in the chapel staring at the cross I got my answer.

Jesus’s crucifixion was messy. Jesus left a messy trail of blood and sweat all the way to Calvary…but death did not overcome Him, and He Sanctified the soil He bled on!

If He is our example, then we too are called to live this messy life with Him and for Him. We are called in blood, sweat, and tears to love so deeply and radically that the soil we walk on is sanctified. What a call! What a call for the whole Body of Christ.

Jesus Christ crucified is our hope, strength, and freedom. Let us cling tightly to His promise of everlasting life; to hope in the days where there will be no more pain and suffering. Let us carry our crosses all the way to heaven, not afraid of the mess, not afraid to let others see us, and not afraid to get dirty helping our fellow brothers and sisters out.

Jesus, you are beautiful.                                                                                                                  Life with you is a beautiful messy adventure!

 

In Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

 

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Sponges, Barnacles, and Oven Mitts!

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This week I resigned myself to my most favorite state of being…“living in sponge-like eagerness ready to absorb any knowledge the Lord wants to send my way.”

Every day I have so much to learn. From the Lord, from the brothers and sisters who surround me, and from all the classes, teaching workshops, bible studies, book studies, and small groups we participate in each day. I am saturated in Truth Himself, in Love, and completely and utterly convicted of the necessity of missions.

The past three weeks has been a whirlwind of transitions, change, learning, and growing. Amidst all of this, it is easy for me to doubt that I am capable of the great task at hand. But the truth is, I’m not. I am far too weak, prideful, and full of fear. However, praise God, that in my inability I am better suited to open my heart to the grace and strength He will work through me. My neediness is His hope, grace, and strength come alive; a simple testament to His Almighty Goodness.

Thankfully, this week I have been reminded so many times of the importance and urgent need for evangelization. This realization turns my fearful, “I can’t do this” into a convicted “I MUST DO THIS!” In St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Mission of the Redeemer, the saint reminds us that our church is missionary in nature. When Jesus sent his apostles out and founded the church, He said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation!” (Mark 16:15) Our response to encountering the Love of the Father and the Freedom and Hope found in the true person of Jesus Christ, should be to go and share this great news! How sad to think of the countless number of souls who are desperately longing for these things; belonging, love, hope, and freedom. And we have the answer. I have the answer, and He even has a name. Jesus is our answer, and I must share this!!!

One of my favorite memories from the week happened during a daily mass I was able to attend on Friday. The church Mary Magdalene in Abbeville, is so incredibly beautiful, and if I can find a ride who is willing to get up and go, The 6:30AM mass is my favorite way to start the day. This Friday, Father Michael gave a beautiful homily about the spiritual life and how there are always times of consolation and desolation, but in the end, as long as we are planted firmly in the Lord, we can weather the storms and struggles of life. As I thought about this, the Psalm we just read came to mind, “Blessed be the Lord, MY ROCK.” At this moment, a light bulb went off in my head…barnacles. That is what I want to be! A little barnacle holding fast to The Rock, who is our Lord and Jesus Christ. Maybe this isn’t the message the priest was trying to convey, but at 6:45AM this is what the Lord was inspiring in my heart, and I am so grateful that the Lord knows me so well, that He speaks to my heart in little simple analogies. I cannot wait to be a little missionary barnacle and pray that the surface of our Infinite Rock is abundantly filled and crowded with more barnacles, more souls, and more followers and believers seeking after His own heart!

Jesus loves me when I’m a sponge, He loves me when I want to be a barnacle, and He even loves me when I dance in the kitchen with oven mitts for hands (this tends to happen on occasion). He loves me when I doubt His goodness. He loves me when I struggle to accept His mercy. He loves me when I’m tired or grouchy. He loves me, not for the things I do, but for who I am. For the mere reason and fact that I exist. What more could I need? What more could I ask for?

The world often tells us to strive for perfection; that we need to be and act a certain way. But Jesus wants us to be the person he created us to be. In all our uniqueness and imperfections, He longs for us to come back to Him just as we are!!

May God remind you this week of your beautiful uniqueness and His passionate and reckless love for you!!

Jesus, you’re beautiful!

 

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

 

Are You Thirsty?

Friends and Family,

Another week of Intake has come and gone, and once again I stand in awe at glory and goodness of God. As I’m writing this, the song “Wonder” has popped into my head.

“May we never lose our wonder,                                                                                                  wide-eyed and mystified,                                                                                                                may we be just like a child,                                                                                                          staring at the beauty of our King.”

It was a whirlwind of a week that was filled with confidence, doubt, laughter, tears, conviction, truth, mercy, beauty, brokenness, wonder, and so much joy! Jesus, truly you are beautiful!

_MG_7262.jpg(This is my friend and fellow missionary Libby embracing me in a warm hug. The community of women here is amazing, and I am so grateful for my sisters in Christ who challenge and call me higher each day!)

This week commenced with a three-day inner healing retreat. Under the guide and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we spent three days delving deep into our hearts. We discussed how so often our distorted and broken view of wordly love damages our view of God’s love and our relationship with Him. God’s unconditional “no matter what love” isn’t based on the things we do or do not do, but instead flows from our inherent dignity and worth as heirs and children of God. This is not always an easy concept to grasp, but after this week I am convinced that we owe it to ourselves to call out the lies we are believing and to claim His victory and love as our own.

In a society that is addicted to pain-killing and quick fixes, satan entices us to fill our innate human longings with ungodly things. The facts are there: depression rates, our obsession/addictions to drugs, sex, television, alcohol, porn, power and money show how our hedonistic cultural views promise false happiness that ultimately leaves us searching for more. We are thirsty for love, belonging, appreciation, safety, worth, and uniqueness. We are thirsty for these good things, and it is time we turn to Goodness Himself for the answers. Jesus is Freedom, Truth, Happiness, Purpose, the Way, and Life Himself. He is Love, Belonging, Safety, Worth, and Appreciation.

The question the Lord asked me at the end of the week was simple,

“Are you Thirsty?” Do you want my mercy and forgiveness? Do you want My Love over the love and pleasure of the world?

It seems like a pretty straight forward question, but I realized that in order to more fully embrace all that the Lord desires to give me, I have to swallow my own pride and admit that I can’t do things on my own. It was only then could I give a heartfelt cry, “Yes, Lord I am so thirsty for you. I want you. I surrender whatever control I believed myself to possess. I give you alone sovereign rule over my life!”

So I challenge you all to allow Him to ask you this same question too. Are You Thirsty? I encourage you to kneel before our Lord and Savior and beg for a drink of His life-giving water. You won’t regret it!

He already thirsts for you! I pray that each day your hearts thirst for Him more and more!

Please continue to keep all of us here in your prayers as we continue to learn, love, and grow together. Lord God, we praise you and glorify your name.

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

When He Reigns, He Pours!

Friends and Family,

It has rained everyday since coming down here, but what has stuck with me more than any of the mosquito bites or humidity, is the incessant raining down of the Spirit upon the time we have already spent here.

Our days have been filled with talks, orientation, cooking, cleaning, singing praise and worship, prayer, getting to know everyone, and plenty of sleep. Here at Intake (training), there are 6 families (with a combined total of 31 children), 13 single women, and 4 single men. Through their beautiful witness of love and sacrifice I am learning to embrace the chaos and messiness of life.

_MG_7008(Our main meeting space in the Big House)

Out in the country you’ll find our diverse group living in a hodge-podge of trailers and houses. This community of love, messiness, and Jesus is called “Big Woods”, which I’m sure is no coincidence at all, to the “Big Hearts” that inhabit it. I have already experienced great southern hospitality by the families and teams living here, who have graciously welcomed us and are teaching us each day.

Amidst it all, there is no lack of leisure and fun. We have eaten alligator sauce picante, danced to live Cajun music, and even had a pool party in the rain.

I’m so excited to be here; to grow more and more each day, and to become a missionary after His own heart. Each day, I am being challenged to live intentionally in the love of God; to let His love be the foundation of my life, and the foundation of everything I do. It is easy for me to loose conviction in this truth and often, I am quick to forget of the Father’s great love for me. But I gaze up at Him in the Tabernacle, on the cross, and in the beauty of creation, and my heart melts. He utters His voice in scripture and the whole earth melts. (Psalm 46:6) The walls I put up. My pride and perfectionism. Any façade or strength I believe myself to possess melts away, and I sit content in my weakness, and His Glory, His Goodness, and His Love.

Just as the waters rain down upon us each day, God’s glory, mercy, and love reign down upon us all. Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, reigns in our hearts. He reigns in this place.

Thank you for all of your love, prayers, and support.  I love and miss you all. At the end of the day, stay close to the Heart of Jesus, for that is where I hope to be.

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

 

A Call to Mission

Welcome friends and family to my new blog!

I have been given the incredible opportunity to serve the Lord on foreign mission through an organization called Family Missions Company.  Stay tuned for updates and stories from my mission experience.

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“Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” – Ephesians 6:18-20

 

 

Please continue to keep me and all those I will serve in your prayers. Thank you so much for all the prayers and support.

All glory and praise to our Lord and Savior!!

 

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith