Does Work Really Come First?

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This is a question that's boggled my mind for years. And in a society like ours, the answer of whether work comes first or not seems to be yes. Most of us choose time sheets over quality time; meetings over family meet-ups; coffee over a deep sleep beside our significant other.

As a Christian, I try to frame work as an extension of God's ministry. He has equipped each of us with talents that nobody else has. While our careera may overlap, the exact gift we bring to them is unique.

Looking at work this way helps me realize that there is so much more to life than the 9-5 grind we are raised to strive for. Yet seeing that truth is hard, especially in the hyper-competitive world of college and career planning. Praying over it this past week, I came to this conclusion:

| When the office closes, remember who you come home to and what you surround yourself with. THOSE are the things that truly matter |

When you are stuck in miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic, think about the destination. Identify who you are coming home to.

Whether it be your spouse, children, parents, roommates, furry friend; these are the individuals that matter. They will be there for you when your boss lets you go or when your coworkers frustrate you to no end. They matter because God himself put them in your life to be a blessing:

| "(v.9) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: (v.10) If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. " -Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 |

But what if you live alone?

Understand that what you surround yourself with also matters. It could be your circle of friends who has weekly coffee dates. It could be your side hustle of blogging, crafting, cooking, or movie critiquing. Whatever it is; surround yourself with something outside of work.

I can personally say that lacking one or both of these things is cause for going insane. You have nobody to vent to, and no outlet to pour your desires, stresses, and mistakes into.

For all it is meant to do, work is not created to satisfy us. It is how we serve our society. But you also need a way to serve yourself, whether it be through the companionship of others or chasing your unique and amazing dreams.

So to anyone who asks, I firmly believe that work doesn't come first in my life. It is a means to an end, but it will never be the end of my meaning.

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~This is My Story~



My Week in Tallapoosa, Georgia!

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There's something thrilling about not knowing where you'll sleep each week. Waiting in anticipation for Friday night, where the answer finally comes, only to leave two days later. 

Out of all eight weeks, this past one was definitely my favorite.

In the Sunday morning darkness, a handful of Luther Springs staff and I loaded the van for Tallapoosa, Georgia to work at Lutheranch, our sister camp and the newest of the four NovusWay sites. The travel excitement grew inside my body, making sleep impossible (or maybe that was just the lumpy van seats).

Eight hours later, our van rolled across bumpy gravel and past soaring trees to the Lutheranch Retreat Center.

First reaction: This place was beautiful. Wood floors and paneling. Granite countertops. Vaulted ceilings and giant windows. It screamed opulence in the wilderness, not summer camp.


All of the campers and counselors stayed in hotel-style rooms inside the center, each equipped with bunk beds, carpeted floors, private bathrooms and showers, and beautiful wooden doors to fit the center's rustic, woodsy theme. 

Sunday passed, and with it camp came. Each day began at 8:30 am with breakfast cooked by our amazing kitchen staff. Meals included hearty strips of bacon, buttery biscuits, fresh fruit plates, grits, thick and fluffy pancakes, and of course, piping hot coffee!

After breakfast, the campers trekked over to the outdoor chapel for morning word. The walk there included gravel paths, grass fields, and my favorite part: a Narnia-esque trail surrounded by trees and rolling hills.

Going alone one morning, I found an unexpected surprise. Nestled among the trees were hand-painted prayer rocks. It made me wonder how many visitors had passed over these same rocks, too consumed in their own thoughts to notice the beauty beneath their feet.

When unoccupied, the outdoor chapel was my favorite spot to relax and reconnect with God. The giant cross and lakeside view gave me peace, and moreover an appreciation for God's creation that I could never feel in the suburbia of Orlando. 

After morning word, the kiddos did a changing lineup of camp activities. One of my favorites to watch and photograph was swimming/canoeing at the lake.

It was during this time that I truly saw the personality of each camper. Some jumped right in, eager to swim and have fun. Others were wary of the floating algae and imaginary lake sharks. Yet all were eventually able to let loose and just be kids, which is what camp is truly meant for! I also got some SWEET cannonball pics :) 

After activities, we scarfed down delicious lunch and relaxed for an hour to let the food digest in our tummies. Once rested, the campers took a hayless hayride through the woods to Trinity House. Here are some of my photos from the ride up:

Owned by the camp, Trinity House was the original place for campers to stay prior to the retreat center. It was used by us each day for bible study and CRAFTS, which was my second favorite time to photograph.

Each day's craft was themed to fit the word of that day (i.e. perspective, community, identity, purpose, and hearts), allowing campers to remember the bible study in a visual manner. Crafts included cross necklaces, clay bowls, heart mason jars, and melty beads. I might've overdosed on creating versions of the latter... 

One of the things I miss most about Lutheranch is the wildlife found there. Frogs. Dragonflies. Deer. Fireflies. You couldn’t walk somewhere without encountering raw nature, or it encountering you...

Which brings me to the story of Bear. It was Tuesday morning, and I, in my sleepy haze, was jolted awake when someone shouted that a bear was outside the retreat entrance. With camera in hand, I went to see this bear. Here’s what I actually saw: 


This is Bear (pronounced Bee-Air). She was a stray Great Pyrenees, fluffy and content roaming the camp. Bear also loved people. All week, she would randomly make an appearance around camp. At Morning Word, group interaction course, craft time; you name it, she was probs there. 

But Bear wasn’t the only camp furry friend I found. There was also a barn cat who lived with her kittens near Trinity House, and found daily relaxation on the house steps. 

She was super skittish if you tried to pet her, but would still try to rub against your legs and purr. I could never quite figure out if she liked me, or just used me as a scratching post... 

I LOVED meeting these fluffy friends and seeing their personalities each day. Yet, one aspect of camp takes the cake as my favorite (literally).


We all know that I am a casual foodie (or person who just REALLY REALLY enjoys unhealthy things), so obviously the sweets would be my favorite, Here were my top two of the week: 


Introducing ice cream in a BAG! It might look... weird, but trust me on the deliciousness of this treat. Each camper was given a paper bag filled with ice and the heavy cream ziploc mixture. After A LOT of shaking that vv hurt my wimp arms, I took the ziploc out to find homemade ice cream! We finished it off by adding our own toppings and eating right out of the bag. 

My second favorite dessert was also a camp sweets essential: s’mores 😍 Not only was it delicious, but it also yielded some sweet bokeh pics:

We left the day after these s'mores photos were taken. Driving down the winding road of camp on that sunny Friday afternoon, I felt pangs of sadness start to form in my stomach. 

What if I never get to see Lutheranch again?

The sprawling trees and Bear will be a mere memory to me. The kind kitchen staff, rustic lodge, cool Georgia breezes, and the twinkling of starlight and fireflies across a glassy lake surface will wither to crude sketches. But even as the details fade, the impact this week had on my life will remain.

For in my heart, a small part will belong to Tallapoosa, Georgia. Always.

I hope you enjoyed my latest blog post!

Check back each week for a new blog on faith, life, food and more. Oh, and of course...


Instagram: @maddiekjosa

Twitter: @Hey_ItsMaddie31


~Beyond Words~

7 Things You Didn't Know About Me...

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You might be wondering: why? Like what has spurred this girl to randomly talk about herself?  

The funny answer is that I’m bored in the forest and crave contact that’s not mosquitos or frogs. The true answer is that I’ve been down on myself recently for hiding who I really am, and so in true Maddie-fashion, I decided to rectify this issue by being honest with all of you. 

Here goes nothing: 

 #1 I can’t stand feeling inadequate.  

Because I like to believe that I’m superwoman. And when life kicks me in the butt and takes my cape, I realize that I’m not. None of us are. Living up to unrealistic standards only leaves me sad, not successful. True power comes from being boss at your own thing and not someone else’s. 

#2 Orlando will always be my home  

It’s been my city forever (minus that one time I was born in Fairfax, VA). This is the place where my parents met and went to school (hint: CHARGE ON), where my brother was born, where I’ve spent countless Not-White Christmases, and now where I go to college. I choose Orlando because of its thriving, diverse heartbeat. No matter what, it will always be my home.

#3 I SUCK at remembering birthdays  

Or anniversaries. Or meetings. Or basically anything with a date that I need to remember. To anyone who’s been a victim of this painful truth, I am so so so so sorry. You have every right to berate me, honestly. Life without my agenda, Facebook and Apple Calendar would vv sad. Let’s just say that.  

 #4 I also suck at loving myself

High school was when the self-hate hit me hard. Looking at the bodies and personalities of my female classmates caused me to compare and doubt my worth. As many of you already know, this dangerous cycle led me to anorexia. It took months of tears, gripping conversations, and therapy before I mostly recovered. I say mostly because this is something I still struggle with; the idea of self-love. What helps me get through my down moments is my amazing Savior, who reminds me that there is beauty in the brokenness of my body. Always. 

#5 Pizza is my life food 

Switching from eating disorders to eating food? Most definitely! Pizza is something I could talk about (and eat) all day. Here’s why: it’s because of my unhealthy consumption of pizza that I overcome my anorexia. Sadly I can’t eat it that much anymore since I’m not, ya know, 99 pounds, but the memories remain. Pizza also has a special place in my ❤️ because it’s a food my boyfriend, TJ and I both L O V E. About 90% of our dates involved eating pizza, and when he’s not around next year, I can eat it and feel like he’s there, letting me eat his leftover crust pieces. 

#6 My life isn’t actually purple  

If you follow me on Insta, you’ll understand why I said this. My entire grid theme highlights the color purple and makes my life look all glamorous, as do filters on anyone else’s account. But honey, that just ain’t real! I use filters because my grid is a visual resume for potential employers. It’s not meant to paint an unrealistic picture of my life. Your Instagram shouldn’t, either. Be honest. Be true. Be you!!

#7 I wear contacts because I was bullied  

Four-eyed freak: the phrase that haunted me year after year as a child. I grew up with glasses and my classmates knew it. Coupled with puberty pudginess and acne, my glasses were the only thing needed to label me as a nerd. Loser. Weirdo. 

I end with this truth because it hurt so. dang. much. It was a label that followed me up to high school. It was why I never went on dates and became so obsessed with how I looked and what others thought of me. The sad part is, I doubt any kid who called me that understood the lasting consequences of their actions. Getting contacts could never let me see past what I was labeled. 

So for any person who feels the same as I did—you are not alone. You are worth more than the label given to you because there is only one that matters: Child of God. 

I hope you enjoyed my latest blog post!

Check back each week for a new blog on faith, life, food and more. Oh, and of course...


Instagram: @maddiekjosa

Twitter: @Hey_ItsMaddie31


~Beyond Words~