smile

“Smile.”

You’ve been told that many times, each person with different intentions.

Smile, because you always do.

Smile, because I want you to. 

Smile, because I want you to see you happy. 

Sometimes you pretend to be happy so others don’t worry about you. You hate it when they needlessly worry, yet at the same time you want to know someone, anyone cares to break down your walls.

Sometimes you just want to break. Sometimes you use anger to cover up sadness. But when you are sad, you’re always told to… smile. Your feelings get stored up over and over again, hiding behind your plastic face.

It’s hard to be strong. What you don’t know is how much strength it takes to let yourself feel.

So frown. Cry all you want. Then smile – not because you’re supposed to or because someone tells you to. Smile because you are truly happy and because you are loved.


I guess all of my posts have kinda had a theme recently of being pretty short and talking about emotions. They’re usually based on what I’m learning in life, so I guess I’ve been learning a lot about feeling. Hopefully they’re inspiring and relatable to you guys too. 🙃

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thoughts on reformation day

As many of you may know, Reformation Day was on October 31st. This is the day on which, in 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his famous Ninety-Five Theses onto the door of the Catholic church in Rome. This momentous act sparked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which led to the founding of the many Christian denominations that exist today.

Luther was a German monk whose teachings and beliefs centered around Romans 1:17, which reads: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” The last part of that verse is the most important: The righteous shall live by faith. These words had been lost in the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church, and when Luther re-discovered them, his life was changed forever. He realized that no amount of atonement or good works to pay for his sins would ever be enough – in fact, Isaiah 64:6 says: “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Think about that for a moment. The greatest, kindest, most selfless, most incredibly righteous act that we could ever perform – it is nothing but filthy rags compared to the perfect righteousness of our Father.

This is something that I think has been forgotten by many Christians in the modern world. We put too much faith in our own good works, and we rely on them to help atone for our sins, whether we realize it or not. But the truth is, our own righteousness can do nothing to redeem us or pay for our sin. Only our faith in God can bring us to be born again and welcomed into His kingdom. Christ forgives all – the reason he died on the cross for us was to pay for our sin. He has already made the ultimate sacrifice for you. Your sin is already atoned for.

Though I’m saying this, I don’t think that we shouldn’t try to do good things or show our Christianity and love of Christ through our actions. We absolutely should do those things, and we should let the love and righteousness of Christ shine through us as we do so. We just need to remember to do these things not to pay for our sin, but to benefit others and help spread the love and joy of Christ.

Let all that you do be done in love. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14

-Clara ❤

 

the time we’re given

I’ve been thinking about the time change.

When Daylight Savings Time ends, we lose an hour. When it starts, we gain an hour.

But we don’t have that option in our normal life.

We’ve all done things we regret, right? Whether it’s something we wished we hadn’t said, or an action we regret, we all have them. If we could turn back time, I’m sure most of us would try to correct a past mistake. But we don’t have that option. We have to live with what we have, learn from our mistakes, and try not to make them again. And the thing is, sometimes we fail.

But you know what? We’re forgiven.

God forgives us when we screw up. He forgives us when we make mistakes. And we can repay Him for his unconditional love by living our life for him. We don’t know exactly when He’ll call us to Him, but it could come when we least expect it. So if we use the time we’re given wisely, we can spend our afterlife with Him.

So use your time wisely. You never know when you’ll have to stand before the Lord, and we want him to look down at us and say, “Well done, child.”

signoff

what is your strength?

Let’s talk stereotypes.

I, myself, am an athlete. I’ve played soccer, volleyball, softball, and am hoping to start up track this spring. Softball, to me, is by far the most fun sport to play, but it comes with its struggles. People expect so much of you in the sport, even though the margin for error is massive. You have to run fast, throw the ball hard and accurately, swing the bat with power, take leaps of faith to catch something, and if you get hurt, to suck it up and keep playing. It takes a lot of strength, both physically and mentally. And that’s the same for every sport.

But let’s face it. Not everyone is an athlete.

Not every person out there has to make decisions needed to change the entire aspect of the game within milliseconds. Not everybody has the strong muscles and endurance to withstand physical exertion for over an hour at a time nonstop. Even if they do, maybe they’ve decided to not spend that kind of energy on sports…

So does that mean all jocks out there should look down on people different than them as if they’re inferiors?

Absolutely not.

It’s becoming a widespread thing in today’s schools were kids are basically grouped into specific categories where their personality fits, and each category is ranked for popularity and “coolness”. And apparently the only category with kids considered strong is the jocks..

Since when did this kind of thinking become acceptable?

You can’t tell how strong someone is by how fit their physical state is or how popular they are amongst the masses! It’s about how much work and effort they’ve put into their own talent in any part of their life.

Take the musicians, for an example. The people who can organize certain chords and tempos to compose the most pleasing sounds that flow into your ears. The artists? All they need is a pencil and paper, and a priceless masterpiece follows, whether it be prose, poetry, or picture. And we can’t forget about the dancers who display feelings and stories through fluid movement. These are the types of people who poor emotion into their talents, affecting your own mind in multiple ways all at once. Their strength lies in their creativity and hard work, traits that a lot of athletes could only dream of having.

There’s also the “nerds”, or more appropriately, the ones who have the largest mental capacity of us all and enjoy the principle of learning. They are the ones who take God’s gift of the human mind to their advantage, expanding it to it’s limit. Their strength? Their determination and more importantly, their brain, which is the strongest muscle in the body.

Now, these are obviously just some of the more distinct types of people. There are hundreds of talented individuals out there with different skills, traits, and hobbies that require great strength of mind, heart, and body.

And who says you have to stay in one of these groups and only one? God created you with a powerful mind and body, capable of unlimited things. He didn’t make any kind of category for you to be placed in based on your personality. He didn’t mean for you to feel like you can’t branch out and explore new interests, just because other people will judge you for it. He created you to be you. You are unique and strong in every which way, no matter how different you think and do things from other people.

I want you to go out today and do whatever makes you happy, whatever you dream about, and whatever you enjoy doing. Life is short, so why should you spend most of it not doing something you love for fear of being judged? Or even worse, for fear of being too weak? Trust me in this, if you set your mind to do something, you will always find the strength to do it.

So go live your dream.

artists feel everything

It’s okay to feel sad. 

Feelings are complicated things. We all have them, whether we’d like to admit it or not. But take a step back to think about it. Joy, fear, pain, hope, love, the list goes on.

Some days, it can be really good to just feel. It’s okay to be happy and joyful without fearing disappointment, and it’s okay to feel the satisfaction of crying and letting out all your pain. It’s okay, and it can impact your art.

I’m going to take a guess and say that most, if not all, the readers of this blog like some kind of art form, whether it be writing, music, dance, drawing, etc. Just for a minute, close your eyes and think about your art.You’ve probably heard the advice to make people feel something through art, but it can be easy to forget that we have to feel it first. How can we make others feel an emotion we haven’t felt ourselves?

Take music. As you practice songs, remember how the lyrics make you feel. As you compose your own pieces, remember not just to compile together what sounds nice, but to tell a story. As you write lyrics, remember that emotional honesty makes a song stand out.

It hasn’t been until the past couple days that I’ve really taken this to heart. Go feel something. Don’t be an emotionless robot, no matter what anyone else thinks. Use your emotion to fuel your passion.

I dare you.

don’t take it for granted

There are a lot of things I take for granted. I think most of us do. It’s so easy to slip into a routine and forget that the people, places, and things that you interact with every day could all be snatched away in a single moment.

Recent events have helped me to realize just how many things I take for granted. There are so many terrible things happening in the world, but these two seem so much closer to home. For that reason, they really got my attention.

A series of powerful hurricanes and storms recently battered the US, shutting off power for hundreds of people. Electricity is something that we take for granted – yet we’re a single strong wind or heavy rain away from it being snatched from us. Suddenly we’re stuck in the dark with no running water, no air conditioning, no lights – and all of a sudden simple, everyday things like calling a friend or taking a shower are no longer options. So much of our lives rely on electricity, and yet I take it for granted.

Another thing. I take safety for granted. The safety of myself, my family, and my friends. I’ve never before lived in fear of my homeland being attacked by another country. After all, America is the strongest, the toughest, the most powerful, right? Yet North Korea recently threatened the United States – and if they actually attacked us, things would suddenly look much, much different. The entire country would be living in fear. We would all be in mortal danger. All it would take is one man halfway across the world deciding to act. Yet I still take my safety for granted.

Yet another thing that I take for granted is the ability to go to church and openly be a Christian. We don’t have to worship in secret for fear of being arrested. We don’t have to worry about someone finding out that we believe in Jesus. Instead, we can openly display our religion and beliefs. We are extremely privileged to be living in a place where being able to go to church every Sunday and be with other Christians is a normal, accepted thing. I often forget that there are many places where Christians are still heavily prosecuted for their faith.

I’m not saying any of this to provoke fear. I don’t want anyone to constantly worry about the things they love and rely on being taken away. Instead, we need to remember to be thankful. I know that you’ve probably been told to “be thankful for what you have” or “count your blessings” more times than you can count. Even though they seem overused, those words have important meaning. It’s extremely important to give thanks to our Savior for all the things He has given us. It’s easy to forget that everything is a precious gift – good health, a dry house, a well-paying job, warm meals, a loving friend – all of those things are His gifts to us, and we need to remember that.

Don’t take anything for granted. Remember to give thanks to the One who gave everything to you – He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

-Clara ❤

5 Reasons It’s Okay To Be Single

In this day and age, it seems like everyone has a significant other.

Seriously, think about it. If you don’t have a boy/girlfriend, you’re immediately assumed to be ‘playing hard to get’, or unable to get someone to date you. And it’s plain stupid. We’re allowed to be single! We’re allowed to say, “I’m not ready for a relationship like that. I’m not ready to search for the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.” So here are five reasons it’s completely and totally okay to be single.

*disclaimer* I have never been in a relationship, so all of my reasons are from observing other people’s dating triumphs and woes. These are not by any means from personal experience. 

1. You have time to discover who you are. If you’re constantly attached at the hip to a SO, you don’t have time to discover your passions, your shortcomings and strengths. If you break up with that person, you won’t know what to do with yourself! Being single gives you that extra time to discover new things about yourself, that you wouldn’t otherwise.

 2. You can build a relationship with God. If you’re constantly date, date, dating, you’ll never have a good, healthy relationship with the Lord. Being single lets you pray more frequently, to strengthen your bond to Him.

3. You’ll be able to take your time. Relax! Without having to worry about dates, you can hang out with your friends, dedicate yourself to your school or your hobbies, and remember: there will never be a shortage of the opposite gender. When you’re ready to commit yourself to finding a furture spouse, there will still be plenty of great guys and gals out there.

4. You won’t have the dreaded drama. There’s always drama after a breakup, one way or the other. If you and the person you break up with are both mature, responsible humans, and you mutually agree to end the relationship, then you can avoid most of the drama. But sadly, that doesn’t happen extremely often, so if you’re not dating at all, you won’t have to deal with the awkwardness, the gossip, and all the other downfalls.

And most importantly…

5. You don’t need another person to be happy! You can be perfectly happy without having a girl/boyfriend. Build good relationships with your family and friends instead! Spend time doing what you love, and you’ll be happy without the help of a significant other.

signoff

he knows your limit

Temptations can be anything and anywhere. They can sneak up on you, deceiving your mind into thinking they’re quite innocent, until you realize they really aren’t, but by then it’s too late. Sometimes they can be as simple as an unencouraged habit, but they can just as easily turn around and be as severe as a life-changing situation. Lies, deceit, bitterness, slacking off, breaking promises, mentally or physically harming yourself in any way, the list goes on and on, and it all seems just so easy.

“Just one time wouldn’t hurt, right?”

“Oh, I’ve only done it once before, I can let myself do it again.”

“Eh, it hasn’t happened that many times, and it’s not like I’m going to make it a habit or anything.”

The thing with temptations, is they’re constantly nagging you, eating away at your conscience. And if you give into them enough times? They’ll devour your conscience completely until there’s nothing holding you back. It may not seem that big of a deal at first, but you never know when it might snap back at you, whether it’s two days or two decades from now.

But you know what Christ says about that?

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Wow. So wait, the Lord is testing you? Yeah, He really is. Man is naturally born as faulty, so we are instantly drawn towards deceit and sin. Don’t worry though! God isn’t just some classic bully from school testing to see how much it takes to blow your fuse, because He created you and knows exactly when to stop so you won’t break. Pretty neat, huh? He knows what tests can push you to your exact limit, so that when you do pull through them–and He makes sure that you do–you’re relationship with Him will be stronger than ever.

However, don’t be getting any big ideas where you can just give in to any temptation that comes your way because “If God makes sure I overcome this in the end, I can totally still do it!”

No. Just no.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” – 1 Peter 1:14-15

The Lord doesn’t want us to just up and forsake Him and do whatever we want in the hopes of Him saving our butt whenever we get in a pickle. In response to Him handing us the free gift of salvation, He wants a little something in return. Our faith. He wants us to glorify Him in everything we do, so when we are stuck in the middle of a struggle, we have the mindset to keep going and look at the Light at the end of the tunnel. His Light.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

So keep pushing, no matter the size of test, temptation, or struggle, because God has your life in His hands and knows exactly what to do with it. Even if nothing is fixed in this earthly life, we still have something a thousand times better to look forward to. One day everything will be set right, and we will be able to experience the full splendor of Christ in all His glory. We just need to keep our eyes on the finish line and trust that He will see us through to the end.

suzy

Keep Dreaming

Sometimes, life is hard.

Of course, as we get older, we learn that life was never supposed to be easy. Back when we were young, our lives most likely consisted of dress-up games and make believe and wonder and learning.

We are still young. But sometimes we stop dreaming.

I sat down to type this post, not knowing what to write. I haven’t written a real post since the end of May. There are many reasons for that, a lot of which I won’t go into, but there was a lot of fear. What if my post is too short? Too long? What if people don’t like it? What if I let everyone down again, like I always do? I was letting my worries take over – my creativity was at a stop, and suddenly everything fun (blogging included) was just more pressure. Then I realized it didn’t have to be.

There’s a lot of talk about the struggles of high school. Not just the intense schoolwork, but the pressure of being on the verge of adulthood. We’re told we need good grades to get into a good college, we need to have good friends, the list goes on. So often, we turn into zombies, just following the rules, doing what we’re told.

We are still young, but we are no longer dreaming.

But remember how freeing it is to dream? Your favorite song comes on the radio, you’re alone, you stop to dance. You’re hit with a story idea in the middle of the night, you turn on your lamp, you spend the next hour writing it. It’s snowing outside on winter break, you sit down in a cozy chair, you read a mystery for hours until you’ve finished. When it’s late and you can’t sleep, your mind is racing thinking of all your hopes and passions, no matter how crazy society says they are. I’ll bet it’s fun just to think about.

I don’t know you. Not really, anyway. I don’t know your struggles, nor the cause of your pain, nor exactly how to help you. But I will encourage you to keep dreaming. Let yourself be happy. Find a way to make time for the things you love. Cut out things in your life that upset you, if possible. And most importantly, pray.

God knows you, friend, much better than I do. He is loving and all-powerful, and He is willing to help you. All you have to do is ask. And help might not come like you think, but God knows what you truly need, not just what you want. God’s will is perfect.

Stay strong. Keep dreaming. Be inspired.

~Josie

loving your neighbor as yourself

My dad asks me and all of my siblings the same question every night: “What are the two greatest commandments?

We always answer with the same thing. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

That second commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself,” seems pretty easy to interpret. You’ve probably been told to “treat others the way you would want to be treateddozens of times.

But that isn’t true.

You shouldn’t treat others the way you would want to be treated.

You should treat them the way they would want to be treated.

Think about it – we’re all very different. When you’re upset, you may want to be comforted and talked to, while someone else may prefer to have some time to themselves instead. When that person is angry or frustrated, if you treat them the way you would want to be treated, you wouldn’t be showing them kindness.

How could you ever love someone like that? It feels impossible.

You should love others with the extent of love you show yourself. What I mean by this is that there are things that you are passionate about and that you love, things that you will go to great lengths to be able to have. You should take that same passion and drive that you use to achieve the things you love – and use it to love others.

We can never love anyone perfectly. But we can show kindness, we can help in big and small ways, we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and we can try to genuinely care for others. We can be a little part of God using many people in many different ways to show someone that they are loved.

______

-Clara ❤