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On this Resurrection Day for many, I wanted to  share a writing I originally posted on N&N in 2018. I have since added to it in order  to share here with you now.


We went to freakin’ ISRAEL y’all.


I know some people are like, “Israel…what’s the big deal? It’s a country everyone wants take over or throw missiles at.”

Not making light of that, because while at dinner one evening with locals, they got alerts to have their bomb shelters ready on standby. And they casually shrugged their shoulders and said, “What are we going to do? Stop living? If that’s the case, they’ve already won.”

Israel may be small, but the people there sure are mighty.

Because of the tradition in which I was raised, this sacred place has always been on my heart. Even though my perspective has slightly shifted + expanded, I do not discount the amazing teachings, stories and lessons that originated there.


I’ve never been one who cared much for labels. They seem so finite. Determined. Set. Permanent.

I believe the constructs in which we build around ourselves sometimes end up keeping us from growing. We become stagnant. Stinky. #stankstank

During college, one of my professors for my Spiritual Formation class said something I’ll never forget:

“We often think that the spiritual life is like a circle of highs and lows. A cyclical routine of connection + disconnection. When in fact, our spiritual nature is not to be confined to the finite shape of a circle. It is in fact, a spiral, still containing those familiar highs + lows, but ever moving forward.”

Yeah, you might need to take a second to chew on that one! And for those of you wondering, WTF kind of college class is that!?! I studied Religion and the Arts at Belmont University. There were 10 of us sitting in leather back chairs in round-table discussion over spirituality, poetry, politics, dream interpretation and our Enneagram results. Random? Maybe. Life-changing? YES.

Anyway, back to labels. We are gonna use the C and the F word here in a second. Brace yourselves.

For some reason, deep down I never really liked to call myself a Christian. It felt icky and sticky and judge-y and put out all those “holier-than-thou” kinda vibes. Yet in high school I carried my Bible to school at times, created a political party called the “Dove Party” for an economics class project, sang in the youth praise band every week, went on mission trips, led Bible studies, and even returned after college to work as an intern and then Assistant Youth Director.

Even still, amongst all of that, I didn’t like to blatantly call myself anything.

Our human thinking minds like categories and labels to decipher between and differentiate what is this or that. Identifying with labels make us feel safe because we know where we belong. Psst I have a secret for you. You have always belonged. Regardless of what you’ve been taught to believe. YOU BELONG.

Western wall in Israel

Prayers at the wailing wall


After dropping labels,  I still had Faith in something. Something bigger than me. Some Thing that created this place, these people, this world, this life. My life.

As Rob Bell puts it, “There’s More going on here…”  More beneath the surface, waiting to be unearthed.

Now, THAT is something I could bodly claim and spread to the ends of the Earth.

Now hear me out, I don’t discount my upbringing and the tradition I was raised. Not one bit. I don’t discount my teachers or friends or family or anyone who claim that title and proudly wear it on their sleeves.

But for me, over time when I felt confined, I noticed I wasn’t growing. I felt comfortable. Going through the motions.

And comfortable isn’t something I want for myself.

Comfortable = complacent in my book.

It means routine, structure, methods, rules, should’s and should not’s.

Comfortable = unconscious living. I wanted to feel ALIVE. I wanted to live a conscious life.


I remember having several conversations with my youth kids and even an old college boyfriend who were struggling with their Faith. They had doubts. Questions. Uncertainty. And they were afraid.

All I could tell them was that “At least you are consciously aware and are questioning things, rather than blatantly or blindly accepting it all.”

You might ask, Isn’t that what “faith” means, Madison? 

For some, sure. I don’t want to tell you what’s the perceived “right” or “wrong” for you. That’s not my place or authority. That’s between you and the Divine.


All I do know is that you are sacred + sovereign. Right here, right now.

I believe the questions are asked by the seekers. The awakened. The conscious.

So I guess I am sharing all of this REALLY personal spiritual stuff (because that’s something we aren’t allowed to talk about apparently) to let you know that if you have questions + doubts, those things you don’t have the answers to, but know there is something More…where ever you are on your journey, that it is OK.

I believe everyone has a spiritual path on this Earth that we must learn to discover, and if decided, we choose to walk it open-hearted. Have you ever stopped to consider, we are the Divine literally experiencing itself? Have you ever stopped to consider that “to bear witness” meant to witness the Divine that exists within our very own being?

Ask the questions. Wrestle with the Why. Follow your curiosity. Listen to your Intuition. (aka God, Spirit, Gut, Inner Knowing, Divine Presence, whatever-you-call-IT.

Allow yourself to be open to discovering the Divine Presence in places you never imagined. And you just might be surprised where you end up.

Wow. What I thought was just going to be a short intro turned into a bit of a spiritual testimony. Not gonna lie, I am a little afraid to put this out there, but it’s something I can no longer keep to myself.


The Divine Who created this universe we call home, created you and me of the same materials.  When you get elemental about it, we are made of literal magic and stardust. Each human being who walks this Earth, is The Universe embodied. How freakin’ cool is that?


It’s a land of history + mystery. A land of poets + prophets. A land of mysticism and tradition. A land of conflict and resolution. A land of Wonder + Awe.

Now I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea

Floating in The Dead Sea ISRAEL

Floating in the Dead Sea

Click here to view the entire gallery.





A Land of Poets + Prophets

This post is a writing from a workshop in 2017. Essentially, we were directed to write a love letter to oneself. Reflecting back on it all these years later, it amazes me how 2017 Madison knew exactly  what 2023 Madison needed to hear. In her own voice, nonetheless. I encourage you to swap out names and pronouns to make it applicable to you. Or even better, it inspires you to write a love letter to yourself.—You are loved.

Sara k blanco photography





Madison my dear love,

you are powerful beyond measure.

You are strong and beautiful

tough and empathetic

adventurous and reserved

You are an amazing woman.


An amazing woman who has lived a lot of years in her young life

a lot of feelings, emotions and experiences that make you uniquely you.

Your perserverance and compassion rise above all else.

your heart is so big and so full

you can’t help but want to connect, share and love.

You see the good in people. You see their story. You see what binds them, and what lights them up

Your adventurous spirit has so much more to teach you as long as you are open and willing to listen and follow its lead.


Madison my dear you found yourself in unsuspecting circumstances. Ones that you aren’t proud of but if it weren’t for them happening, you wouldn’t be the awakened and beautiful soul you’ve become.

Your biggest lesson in this life is to learn to let go of shame and expectation, and fully embrace your humanness.

Trust is your biggest teacher and speaking your personal truth is all that matters.

Grace and forgiveness are necessary in your life—two things you are good at offering to others, but not to yourself.





You deserve grace and forgiveness from yourself, too.


Your old soul allows you to see and understand more than most will come to know in their lifetime.

That is a gift.

Fear is your biggest rival but it is through the building of your own backbone and the discovery of your own voice you will overcome it.

You are beautiful.

Sing it. Say it. Pray it. Chant it. Dance it. Write it. Dream it. Embody it.

You are stronger than you give yourself credit for, and capable and deserving  of all that you dream of and connected to the Loving Divine that so many seek.


my dear love,

you can do hard things.


*Artist portraits by Sara K Blanco Photography*



Hey stranger—you might be a returning visitor, or a fresh face to this space. Either way, I hope you’ll stick around for a bit and swing by every so often to see what we’re up to.

Hi, I’m Madison. If you want to hop over to the about page to get a sense of who I am and where things started, but as life is ever evolving, this post is about where we’re at now. There’s been a lot of changes over here, both internally and externally, physically and metaphysically, and more. If you’ve been around here for awhile, then you know what’s up.

Here’s a short synopsis to bring you up to speed:

  • I’ve worn many hats as a creative, starting my career as a portrait photographer in 2012, primarily focusing on high school senior portraits, which then evolved into contract work for Sarah Briggs Jewelry, and then creative portraits and the like.
  • MADISONCARY biz cards
  • In April 2021 I rebranded MADISONCARY and shortly after in August 2021 I launched and quickly paused a new project called SACRED PORTRAITS.
  • As life would have it, September 2021 was my last family session as a working photographer.
  • January 2022 I was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain tumor (diffused midline glioma to be exact) Take a listen to the instagram post I wrote shortly after we learned the news. (Plus some extra commentary)

Madison luikens brain cancer

it’s been a journey to say the least.

Since I can’t quite be behind the camera these days due to my poor vision and unsteadiness on foot, I am reviving this blog as a way to share and connect further via long form writing than the glimpses we see on social media. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and rather than give platforms like Instagram my best work, I wanted a to have it all live in one place that is solely mine.


So, what can you expect?


Poetry and ponderings mostly. Probably paired with images I’ve captured over the years.

Why poetry? It’s my favorite form of expression and my most sacred form of prayer. I’ll be sharing some work that you may have already experienced, and a lot more that has lived in the notes app of my phone or scribbled on the pages of half-filled journals. The audio portion of my blog will resurface as well. You can listen to previous posts here.

There is no agenda or goal with this, other than a creative outlet for me as I heal. While writing a year’s worth of medical updates on Caring Bridge, I realized how much I missed the blogosphere. So here we are, taking a leap, regardless of who shows up to read it or not. Because honestly, it’s for me. And if you decide to stick around, I look forward to connecting with you.

The topics you can expect to find here: musings on love, life, trauma, faith/spirituality, family, growth, gardening, my favorite things, who knows! There’s no set agenda or schedule, just heart-led and honest. What you encounter here might be different from your perspective, but that’s the cool thing about art. It’s the process of working out a perspective or interpretation  on paper, canvas, song, dance, etc. This space is not here to convince you to think one way or another, but a container for the exploration of  ideas and lived experience, and possibly find comfort, too.

So with that, take what resonates, and leave the rest.

If something hits, let me know. If you want me to write on something in particular, let me know on that, too. But before I start opening the floodgates, I’m going to speak my truths first.

As with the phases of the moon, if you’ve been around enough, you’ve seen all iterations of Madison, from youth director, to photographer, to crossfit coach, to nutritionist, so thank you for being here as I evolve into the next iteration of me. All those versions are still within me, as I navigate what comes of this chrysalis I currently find myself in. I hope you stick around long enough to find out. And if not, you’ll know where to find me.

Welcome back to MADISONCARY







do you know how magnificent you are?
do you know the sacredness of your very being?
do you know the breath moving your chest is a work of art?


can you see it, radiating from within you?
can you feel it, the bass note of your existence?
can you taste it, the sweetness of your soul?


do not hide from being fully seen as you are.
do not whisper when you are meant to roar.
do not withhold, diminish or belittle that which makes you whole.


YOU, my dear one, are B E L O V E D.


creative artist portraits Madison Luikens photographer

creative artist portraits Madison Luikens photographer

MADISONCARY West Texas Photographer Midland Austin Big Bend Elopments

creative artist portraits Madison Luikens photographer


B E L O V E D | Kori Creative Portraits.

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