trust.

it’s hard to trust.

sometimes. most of the time.

it’s necessary to trust.

always.

recently, I’ve been constantly reminded of both of these things. how painfully hard it is to trust sometimes, and how painfully necessary it is. i’ve been forced to do a lot of trusting. clinging to the light at the end of the tunnel. trusting

others,

because i really can’t trust myself.

the struggle,

because the only way out sometimes is through.

God,

because His ways are higher than mine.


and let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy. there’s been a lot of tears and a lot of brokenness, and there’s going to be a lot more. it hasn’t been fun and it won’t be. it’s not easy when things like

eating

keeping your head up

remembering what it’s like not to be hurting all the time inside

get so incredibly hard, and it feels like no one understands.

it’s not easy when existing hurts.

i don’t really have an aim with this post, other than the hope that if you’re reading this and you’re finding it hard to trust God right now — if you feel so painfully, painfully alone — i can share this with you: i’m there too, and we will make it through —

(hold on to that when you can’t hold on to anything else.)

— not by our own understanding, but by leaning on God’s.

not by solving our own problems, but pushing through the crushing pain and letting God carry them for us.

i love you all. trust your Father. and trust me when i say this: you are not alone.


gonna be real, guys, i don’t really know where this post went, but i hope it speaks to someone (without me going into too much personal detail about my own recovery) because chances are that someone out there is going through the same thing that i am. and it’s okay. it’s okay to feel lost. just hold on tight to the knowledge that even though it doesn’t feel like it, you’re not lost because God’s got you. ❤

sarah

p.s. ‘pologies for us missing the last few weekends of posts! we’re hoping to get right back on track next weekend.

p.p.s. thank you all so much for one hundred follows! we’re honored to have all you wonderful dreamers along with us. mwah!

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the shepherd’s peace

​”The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalms 23

Today, in my weekly homeschool group, my class read Psalm 23 aloud for devotions. I, personally, feel like the circumstance couldn’t have been better, considering the fact that today we started our final exams. I had no idea the encouragement was needed so badly until it was given.

I know most people don’t have their finals this early, but I think we can all agree on how much of a struggle they can be. They require so much more perseverance, patience, and diligence than most can handle, which just leaves everybody feeling extremely stressed and nervous. After all, this is our future we’re talking about, and some teachers aren’t as generous as others when grading. Peer pressure alone can be enough to set someone on edge, much less the intense projects and tests themselves.

It was amazing this morning, though, because as we were reading and discussing David’s psalm, I felt a huge part of that load lift off my shoulders. Here’s a little of what I mean:

“The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.”

Just that first part itself already fills me with a sense of peace. The Lord is our shepherd, and just like any other sort of shepherd in the days this psalm was written, He cares for His sheep. God protects us from any sort of dangers and struggles we might encounter. Not only that, but the extremely serene picture David talks about shows us how our Shepherd can calm us.

“He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths if the righteous

For His name’s sake.”

Just as God wants us to feel calm and peaceful from His protection, He also wants us to feel influenced positively by those who surround us. He specifically leads each of us to those who will impact us the most by how they act, causing us to strive to do the same for His glory. Amazing, right? And that isn’t even all of it.

“Even though I walk throught the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Back in those days, shepherds and their sheep sometimes had to travel to get to the good pastures. And there were instances where they had to travel through rough and rocky valleys that contained all sorts of hidden predators, but that’s a big reason of why the shepherd kept a staff with them. To fight off the predators and protect the sheep.  So we have simply nothing to fear then, as our Protector knows exactly how hard to push you before you reach your limit. Whether that’s with a literal test you’re currently stressing about or a life-changing trial that you can’t escape from is up to Him.

This specific Psalm is pretty popular, and sometimes is too easily dismissed, because lots of Christian kids learn it at a young age in an Awana program. However, that is exactly why it’s so important. There is nothing out of our Lord’s control, nothing He can’t protect you from, and nothing that can stop Him from filling you with irreplaceable peacefulness.

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What can’t you do with your Shepherd watching over you?

A Godly Teenage Girl

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.

Today’s culture celebrates and encourages sin. If you’re not sinful, to the majority of people, you’re an outcast. However, if you are a good woman, you have true worth more than precious jewels.

Proverbs 31 is often referenced as a good verse to define womanhood, and I agree! However, a lot of these verses apply mostly to married women and follow the customs of Bible times, so I thought I’d dive into wisdom we can take away from these verses even as single teenage girls in today’s culture. I’ve used the Message translation for the purpose of this post.

Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.

A good woman is always faithful, and not once has she ever broken anyone’s trust. We must understand what it means to give our word, and know that yes means yes and no means no unconditionally.

Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

A good woman never holds grudges and is always kind, even when it’s inconvenient for her emotions. Teenage girls are known for being catty and always getting revenge, but we can be the city on a hill by loving everyone, friend and enemy, without spite.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing… She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.

A good woman enjoys passions that are productive and wholesome. This doesn’t necessarily mean knitting and sewing, as much of that is machine-done now, but back in Bible times knitting and sewing provided clothes, blankets, and other goods for the family. Therefore, it is a hobby that doesn’t waste her time and does good for others. What we do in our spare time should reflect that; and we should often check the fruits of our labors.

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day… First thing in the morning, she dresses for work and rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

A good woman knows how to handle her responsibilities, even if it means getting up before the sun does to do what needs to be done, and she keeps working well into the evening. It can be hard to get up on time for school and afterward we just want to relax and watch TV. However, getting up earlier and persevering gives us time to accomplish all our school assignments and any other hobbies we want to pursue.

She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.

A good woman is charitable. She doesn’t stop and think about herself first or worry if helping out will get her hands dirty. We should always be willing to be Christlike and help those in need, not just for volunteer hours, but out of love for others.

She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.

A good woman is prepared. If an emergency were to happen, she has a backup plan. We can show this in our lives by doing things ahead of time, not just waiting until the last minute. Who knows what change of plans could happen?

She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant.

A good woman excels at what she does even though it is hard work. We’re growing up in a culture that teaches us to complain when something is hard or a webpage takes longer than thirty seconds to load, but a good woman knows how to do the work and do it well.

… and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

A good woman doesn’t worry about tomorrow, for she knows that tomorrow can worry about itself. She sees each day as a new opportunity. Even though the world is crashing down around us due to sin, we have the hope of Jesus Christ in our hearts and should always be optimistic.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.

A good woman only speaks what is wholesome. This means she doesn’t gossip, talk smack about others, brag, or lie. She only says things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. We must be careful what we say, online and offline, to make sure that we don’t waste our words.

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.

A good woman knows how to influence others when she is in a position of leadership. For example, many teens babysit or are put in charge of their little siblings, and this is a great way to live out this verse.

Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”

A good woman is recognized by those around her who have seen the many great things she does and how holy she is. Our parents, teachers, and coworkers should be able to see that we are different.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

While society may try to tell us what they think a good woman is, the happiness from that will soon fade. A godly woman will have longer lasting joy and admiration from the right people.

The Fortified Tower

Trembling, scared, afraid, emotions spilling over the top.

Tears spilling, nonstop, slowly becoming numb.

Blasting through your ears, forgetting about where you’ve come from.

On the phone, trying to explain, scared to talk.

Your best friend says it feels like you’ve already died.

The sad part is you think you want to.

Blood, scars, shame, humiliation, the world it dark.

You need someone, something, anything to protect you. It feels like no one cares and if they do they won’t understand.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face… As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” – John 19:1-2, 6

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10

God loves us. He has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus understands. He was sent to earth and died one of the most painful deaths surrounded by people mocking Him. He lived a life of temptation and pain just as you and I.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower. If you run to it, you will be saved.

That verse isn’t a fill in the blank. You can’t say “Music is a fortified tower. If I listen to it, I will be saved,” or  “My boyfriend/girlfriend is a fortified tower. If I run to them, I will be saved,” or “Self-harm/drugs/drinking is a fortified tower. If I run to them, I will be saved.”

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Except we drown ourselves in our music to forget the world. We find people to date to make us feel worth something again, but it only ends in heartbreak. We self-harm to make our lives feel justified or do drugs and drink to forget the world around us.

But does the Bible advise us to go running to all that?

No. God tells us to run to the one Who cares about you more than anyone else, the one Who understands you better than you understand yourself, and the one Who will never fall apart, leave you with more pain, or only give you a temporary solution.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. – Psalm 94:18

Every single time I’ve messed up, God has always been right there. Sometimes God tells me not to do things that hurt myself and I do them anyway, but He’s never said to me “You’ve messed up too many times and you’re no longer worthy of My love.” He’s always given me a reminder that He loves me and that He’s already paid the price for my sin; I don’t need to take guilt into my own hands.

So run to the Lord, and be safe.

If you are feeling suicidal, have had suicidal thoughts, or have harmed yourself, please talk to a trusted adult. There’s no issue “too small” to go over with.  If you ignore it, the problems will only snowball over time. God loves you and doesn’t want that life for you. Feel free to email me if you ever need to talk.

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so you say you can’t.

so you say you can’t.

and why is that?

is it because you don’t feel well? your head hurts, your stomach churns, and you simply don’t want to face life?

or is it because you feel defeated? like a weak, young soldier on the battlefield who’s been slain, you are broken. never able to get back up. it’s as if the enemy is standing over you, beating you mercilessly and eternally.

maybe it’s because you can never do anything right in anyone’s eyes. nobody seems to see anything good in you. you’re constantly the ugly duckling, thrust away and shunned as if nobody cared. you’re weird, you’re wrong, and you’re messed up. nothing can fix that.

or maybe it’s because it was actually alright from the start, but then something happened. you were okay, they were okay, everything was okay. nothing could stop your joy, nothing could stop your love. and yet something did.

it might be because all it took was that one person. that one mind. that one thought. that one sentence.

and maybe it’s because in that one moment everything went downhill and never stopped.

they never stopped.

maybe it’s because after that, you fell apart and now you can’t do anything worthwhile. at least not to them. it’s all a big, hairy, dirty mess, and nothing’s worth standing up for anymore.

and now you just c a n ‘ t.


so you say you can’t.

but wait a moment, back up a few steps.

since when?

since when did you let others control who you were, what you thought, what you wore, or how you acted? since when did the way the world did things was the only way you could do things? the beating, the words, the awfulness of it all, since when did what that do to you turn you into who you are now? when did others see into your mind and soul and instantly know what you needed most in life?

oh, wait. they can’t.

need to hear it again?

they can’t.

they can’t control your actions. they can’t control your thoughts. they can’t control your appearance. they can’t control you.

you, my dear friend, are your own person. you have a mind that decides for itself, a soul that has its own morals, and a body that moves how it likes. not one person, not a single person in this entire universe can do that for you.

nobody else can look at you and know your innermost thoughts. nobody can realize your deepest needs. nobody can figure out your most secret desires. it doesn’t matter they think, what they do, or what they say about you. because they aren’t you.


so you say you can’t.

there’s no reason to say that anymore, dear.

you aren’t a weak soldier. no, you’re a mighty warrior. you are the one who walks past all the ignorant of the enemy. they may tear you down, break you apart, and burn you to a sizzle. but you will rise from the ashes more beautiful, more knowledgeable, and more powerful than ever before.

because you are the one who doesn’t care what other people think of you.

you are the one who shapes your own life.

you are you.

so say you can.

“you is kind. you is smart. you is important.” – aibileen clark, the help

20 Things You Can Pray For Daily

It’s easy to forget how powerful prayer is. We’re actually talking to the Lord of all creation and as Christians, I think we often take that for granted.

 

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16b

A few weeks ago, I wanted to create a list to place on the wall near where I keep my Bible to remind me what to pray for and just to keep praying. I wrote down everything I could think of, but when I went to go look up more ideas, Google left me pretty empty. Everything I found was a short list of stuff I’d already thought of.

In case any of you are with me on this, love prayer, and/or want more ideas of things to pray for, here are the ideas I came up with.

Personal

Pray for. . .

 

1. God to use you to share the Gospel with someone

This is something my pastor encourages our youth group to do every morning when you wake up. Pray that God will use you to share the Gospel, bring someone to Christ, and be a light to others.

2. Strength to avoid temptation

As we go through our day, the devil has many temptations set to lead us astray. Pray that God will give you strength to avoid these temptations.

3.  The fruit of the Spirit

. . . Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Pray that you will be filled with these virtues so that you may reflect Christ and become more godly.

4. A forgiving heart that doesn’t hold a grudge

Because we were forgiven, we can forgive. Pray that you don’t hold things against others and will have the strength to resolve a fight instead of make it worse.

5. God to use your talents to glorify Him

For me, that looks like praying over my words before I write to leave it in God’s hands or for the growing worship team at my church. Pray that whatever your talents are, that God will use you for His glory.

Friends and Family

Pray for . . .

6. Those who are sick

Especially with flu season going around, pray that God would comfort those who are sick and bring them a quick recovery.

7. Who/what you’ve said you’ll pray for

How many times do Christians throw around the phrase “I’ll pray for you!”, and how many times do we actually pray? Be true to your word and pray for people you’ve said you’ll pray for.

8. Friends who are unsaved 

If you know your friend is unsaved or aren’t sure, pray for their souls and pray that you can play a role in their salvation.

9. Your future spouse

This is something I’m new to, so I don’t know as much about it, but pray for your future husband/wife.

10. Your neighborhood

There’s an amazing website called Pray4EveryHome. I recommend you check it out and follow the instructions on there!

Church

Pray for . . .

11. Requests from church groups

Pay attention when people ask for prayer in church/youth group/etc. They could really use your prayer.

12. Your pastors 

There are so many things you can pray for your pastors! For example, to bless the sermons they write and to give them strength to do their jobs.

13.  Your church’s vision to be fulfilled

Lately, my church has been taking a lot about our vision. Pray that it is fulfilled and that you can play a role in that.

14. Biblical unity 

Unity in the church is another thing we’ve been talking about. Basically, getting along with everyone in the congregation and being a good community. Pray that you can connect with others in your church and for the ability to prevent fights.

15. Missionaries

For the missionaries in your church. If your church doesn’t have any (or even if they do), missionaries around the world. List them by name and specific needs if you know of any.

Other

Pray for . . .

16. Your enemies

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. – Luke 6:28

I bet some of you saw this coming, didn’t you? 😉 Yes, pray for your enemies. If they’re unsaved, pray for their souls; pray for you to behave in a Christlike way; pray for anything specific to their needs.

17. Our country’s leaders

Some of you like our president. Some of you hate him. Some of you know the other people in office. Some of you don’t. Either way, pray that God would give them wisdom, even if you don’t like them —  all the more reason to pray.

18. Your blog readers

You can interpret this in any way you like, but pray for your blog readers! This is something I’ve recently been doing. 😀

19. Human trafficking victims

This is something I’ve recently learned more about. There’s still slavery going on in many ways. Pray for their freedom and for peoples’ eyes to be opened.

20. Charities 

What’s just as good, if not better, than donating to a charity with a noble cause? Praying for them! Pray that they would be able to do their work well and that they would have sufficient funds.

“If every prayer you prayed in the last 24 hours was answered, what would happen?”

I’m not sure where this quote originated, but it makes you think. What am I praying for? Who am I praying for? Am I even praying?

What would you guys add to this list? Share with me in the comments! Praying for you all,

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Dreams…

I am so thrilled to be guest posting here on The Young and Dreaming today, I am so thankful for this opportunity! I hope you all will be encouraged by my article.

We all have dreams that we hold onto tightly inside our hearts, dreams we cherish and think about every single day. I want to talk about those dreams because I am just like you; I had dreams in my heart that I wanted to make happen. But there was one little problem, or more like a big problem.

I thought I should wait.

I thought of my dreams; starting my own business, beginning a magazine to encourage and inspire Christian girls, and write my first Christian fiction novel. As I thought of these around my early/mid-teens, I thought, “I can’t do them now, I have to do school. I think I’ll just wait and do them once I graduate…” And so I didn’t make my dreams happen, I put them on the back burner with the thought of “someday” I’d make them happen. Now that I look back on it, why did I think that? Life is a gift, each day we have we cannot take for granted because we are never guaranteed a tomorrow. But still I waited.

Then something a friend said changed my whole outlook on my dreams.

She said something along the lines of, “Why waste your entire life thinking that ‘someday I will chase that dream of mine, someday I will do what I’ve always wanted to and feel called to do’, all the while wasting the years of your life until one day ‘someday’ is too late.” I felt as if she were speaking right to me in that article and it really hit home for me. She also mentioned that our youth is a gift; these years will not last forever. Look at David; he killed a giant with three stones in his youth!

So, one day I decided something. I wasn’t going to wait until I finished school; I wasn’t going to wait until ‘someday’ to make my dreams come true. With the Lord, I was going to make my dreams come true right here and now and stop wasting my life waiting for that ‘someday’.

Then along came another dream.

After contributing to numerous Christian magazines over the years, I had cultivated my love of writing. I found that expressing my heart and thoughts on paper (or computer screen) was how I was best able to convey my messages. I loved the Christian magazines I read and contributed to, and in my heart a small dream was forming like a tiny flower bud in spring before it burst into a beautiful bloom.

I wanted to start my own magazine.

This dream came along probably about a year ago and I decided on the name of “Sisters of Salvation” for my magazine. I do not remember exactly what happened, but I think the same old familiar excuse arose not shortly after. I decided to wait until I finished school. But, even though I was putting off my dream, I think it was the Lord’s way of saying, “Not yet, wait for My perfect timing.” It wasn’t until May of this year when my mom mentioned that I should start my own magazine (she now says she always knew as I wrote all the articles for other magazines that I would start my own someday) that I felt the Lord saying it was the right time to start the magazine. And now look where He has taken me! When I was just starting to bring together my ideas and plan how I would distribute this magazine, I never knew that in just 5 issues I would have such an amazing team of columnists, photographers, and artists along with a large group of subscribers in such a short period of time. “Christ’s Light Magazine ~Shining Bright in a Dark World” was born. The journey that the Lord has taken me on with this magazine has been such a wonderful one and hearing from my readers that they have been encouraged and inspired by it really makes my day every single time. I am so glad I followed the dream the Lord gave me of starting a magazine, because this magazine really is not mine at all. Jesus made it happen and it is His for Him to use for His ultimate glory and honor.

I had one more dream though. A dream of being published.

I have been writing a continual Christian fiction story for the magazine, “The King’s Princess” for around a year and a half now. I can’t believe the time has gone by so fast and that I am now on part 14 of the story that Lord placed on my heart to share. From the beginning of that story I had dreamed of one day combining and lengthening each part to form a novel, and it wasn’t until recently that I was inspired to put this dream into action by that same dear friend with the same words she had spoken before. Why was I waiting until I finished school? This friend is my role model, an author who writes books that touch my heart and soul in many more ways than one; she is the one who inspires me time and time again. I thought of her, having published her very first book at the age of 18, and I thought, “Why can I not do that? She didn’t keep her dreams bundled up until the day she finished school; she stepped out with Jesus and made her dream happen.” I knew in my heart Jesus wanted me to write a book, and my dear friend was just the right person to inspire me to make it happen. I am now in the process of lengthening and combining each part of my story into a Christian fiction novel that I am hoping and praying to be able to self-publish when it is finished. The Lord is making my dreams come true, and He used that dear friend to be His messenger to inspire me to step out and make them happen. I am forever grateful and thankful to Him for making my dreams come true and for bringing that friend into my life in the fall of 2015. She is my dearest friend and constant encouragement, she has never let adversity in her own life pull her down and crush her dreams. She has overcome a lot of things in her life, very hard things, things that would crush me, and how she has every single time trusted the Lord and overcome them has been the biggest inspiration to me. I look up to her, she is my source of inspiration and encouragement, she will never know how much she has affected my life and inspired me to dream with Jesus. My dear friend, you know who you are, I thank you for being you, the one and only you that the Lord brought into my life to inspire me to do big things for Him. I love you.

And now I am following Jesus on my biggest dream of all. A dream of becoming a missionary to the African country of Uganda. I know in my heart that the Lord has called me to be a missionary there, and I am always praying about it. That same friend knows in her heart that the Lord has called her to Uganda as well, she has known from a very young age where as I have only known I am called there for about a year or so now. What are the “odds” that I would have just happened to find a friend who shares the same calling as I do? There are no “odds”; it was the Lord at work in my life working out His master plan. I pray, pray, and pray some more that soon my friend and I will be able to go and serve together in the beautiful country of Uganda. I know the Lord has big plans for us, but you know something else?

He has big plans for you, too.

So take those dreams you are holding in your heart that you know are from the Lord, take them and with Jesus make them happen! Don’t waste your life waiting for that ‘someday’, do it now—today. The Lord is only waiting for you to step out; will you take His hand and let Him lead you on that incredible journey?

Megan 6

God bless you all! ~Olivia

​content to be an underachiever

okay, let’s be a little straightforward for a moment.

sometimes we see others and feel like we’re missing out in life. sometimes we see others and think, “why can’t i do all that?”. sometimes we see others and wish we could switch lives, even if for a moment, so we can experience all the fun they have each day.

it could be just me with my insecure mind, but i’m willing to bet there’s more who feel the same (and if not, this could get embarrassing for me real fast). we watch these people we know live such successful lives while we just sit amidst our fuzzy blankets, ice cream, and netflix wondering where on earth we went wrong. there’s always that one person (or persons) who’s active in three different sports each year, leads sunday school plus has a voice in the choir at their church, volunteers at the animal shelter two days a week, acts in a musical play group, takes three different music lessons, is a part of multiple extracurricular clubs, and still manages to ace their schoolwork and/or job with flying colors. most in society would call this person an “overachiever.” (i personally don’t, as they’re more of just people who take advantages of the opportunites given to them)

but i mean, wouldn’t that make you question yourself a little bit? i know i do would. just one glance at this person’s life causes me to realize my own is lacking. that i wasn’t living it to its fullest and should ram headfirst into all of these activities full speed, and envelop myself into the chaotic life because i feel like i need to prove that i actually do get out of the house (despite popular belief).

now, this is me talking as an extrovert. i’m outgoing and energetic when it comes to being around other people and i’m a huge sucker for the outdoors and physical activity. however, considering how i go to homeschool co-op and softball practice only once a week and manage to attend church about once or twice a month, you can guess i don’t get out of the house much. and with everybody else in the family working 30+ hours a week, i’m home alone most of the time as well. if i was more introverted, i would drink all this time up like a dog (which is very aggressively, if you didn’t know). it’s basically minimal human interaction, and even though i enjoy blasting music without anyone to judge me by my tastes, it can get, well, boring after a while. i love human interaction. that’s just my nature.

but here’s the thing: there’s only so much one person can do. you need to take all the factors into consideration. most of the time, the people who have all those opportunities live right in the center of or close to town, their parents are pretty well off when it comes to financing or having the time to spare, and/or they just have better and more options to choose from. when it comes to my own situation, i just happened to have most of the short straws. i live out in the middle of nowhere, both parents work long hours, and i have not had the chance to get my driver’s license yet.

and you know what? that’s okay. i’m very thankful to have my parents be this committed to me as it is (i didn’t exactly pick the cheapest sport to play, guys), considering i have four other siblings who also need attention. sure, they’re more independant, given the fact that they’ve all graduated highschool and gone on to their careers, but there’s always student loans, travel expenses, cars, insurances, etc. to think about. 

“but suzy!!” you may ask, “what about all the cool other stuff you could be doing?? you’ve got to be envious of at least a little, right???”

well, yeah i am. everybody is. of course i wouldn’t mind hanging around and taking care of stray puppies or rock climbing with friends or taking flying lessons, but that just isn’t possible at the moment. i know my time will come where i can do all that. i know your time will come.

we’re not going to be in the same situation forever, right? times and people change. i have three sisters who all went through college, and they are having the time of their lives now. in college or the workplace afterwards was where they found most of their friends today. they may have been home doing jack squat for most of their younger days, but they were able to use that time to work towards the bigger goal in the end, and it really payed off. 

so i’m content to be an underachiever.  i may not have a headstart like so many other teens i know, but i can at least use the time to work hard towards to what i know i will have.

– q

How to Gratitude Journal

Last year, I took a homeschool gym class at our local college campus. My group of friends hated it, but it wasn’t always that bad. Even when I had fun in our basketball unit or that semester we had epic teachers, I couldn’t really say that without getting a strange look.

This caused me to realize we can choose to love a situation for the good in it or hate a situation and focus on the negative  — but life would be all the better with more love.

That’s where the idea gratitude journaling comes in. It helps you focus on the good in life and makes you a happier person in general.  I got the idea from Christina and Amy Cimorelli. They mentioned this in their book, Lessons Learned. After hearing their own processes and how they’ve benefited from it, I’ve come up with my own routine I’m sharing with you all so you can see if it works for you too.

How to Gratitude Journal:

  1. Pick out a journal you like. You can do this physically or digitally; whatever works for you.
  2. Decide when to do it. I’ve found it’s most effective at two times: first thing in the morning or when you’re in a bad mood/have had a bad day. It’s been said the first ten minutes of your day set up the rest of your day, so why not start with a thankful mood? As for the latter, finding the good in your life when you’re in a bad time is totally life-changing.
  3. Come up with a structure. This helps you stay focused. Personally, I come up with five things to be grateful for and write it out exactly like “I’m so grateful for —”. Then, under each thing, I write “Thank you” three times to praise God for these things and really feel grateful for them (though now that I think of it, I should probably be writing “Thank You” 😉).
  4. Be grateful! The things you write can range from experiences (I’m so grateful I got to spend time with my friends today) to the things we take for granted (I’m so grateful I have a roof over my head) to random things that seem small (I’m so grateful for candles); you get the point. Be creative and try to come up with something new each time.

This has done nothing but positive things for me and been able to turn my mood around pretty quickly. I encourage you all to try this out and come up with your own way to do this!

Josie

celebrate | suzy and clara

There are so many things in life to celebrate. Holidays, events, people, changes — and somewhere in that mix is the gift granted to us of life. Today, not one but two of the amazing people who write for this blog are celebrating just that!

Clara and Suzy are two of the sweetest people I’ve met in the blogosphere. Both sweet, genuine, and funny, they’re always supportive and kind! (Not to mention talented. Have you seen Suzy’s blog? SHE CODED ALL OF IT HERSELF HOW DO I WORDS. And Clara’s photography! Hello what are you doing go look at some of it it’s amazingg)

Both of these wonderful girls are turning another year older today! Because of that, we threw together a mini virtual party to celebrate them and the amazing friends that they are. <33


 

clara

Clara is one of the sweetest people I’ve met in the blogosphere! She’s incredibly kind and is encouraging on a level that makes you smile uncontrollably. She’s a seriously talented writer, graphic designer, and photographer — I’m pretty sure she can make any everyday object into a work of art with her camera — and she’s so genuine and original in every single thing she does, never imitating any other person and always making what she does completely her own! <33

Clara — I love you so much! You’re so talented and THANK YOU FOR FIELDING ALL OF MY CRINGY CAMERA QUESTIONS. Your humility sets such an example and I can’t even deal with how incredibly sweet you are!! Now you shoulders really start that Photos Raphael™ pls.

From Charis @ Charis Rae: Happiest of Birthdays, Clara! You have been with me since the very beginning of my blogging journey, and I’m so happy our friendship has continued over the years. You introduced me to WordPress and helped me with themes, design, and post ideas. You’ve looked at my graphics, provided feedback for stories, and are so supportive and kind. You’re such a successful blogger, and I’m so excited for the future of our blogs and our friendship! Happy Birthday!

 

Happy Birthday, Clara! Love, Madi

 

From Mads @ Madi Grace: Eeep, happiest of birthdays to you, Clara! You’re such a gifted, talented, incredible person, fellow blogger, and awesome friend! I hope today is your best birthday yet, only to be topped by every year after. ❤

+ virtual bday card from madi 🙂

From Danielle @ Near But Far: Happy Birthday, Clara! Thanks for being such a great blogging friend. You’re so sweet and kind to everyone. I always enjoy messaging you, and you’re just one of the greatest people ever! You’re such an amazing writer and photographer, and just super fun to talk to. I hope you have a wonderful birthday full of great things!

From Nicole @ Wild Pennings: Happy birthday, Clara!! Thanks for being such a sweet and amazing blogging friend. It really makes my day when you ask how I am and then have a short conversation with me. 🙂 Not only are you super friendly, but you’re a very talented photographer—you’re pictures are stunning!—and blogger. Thanks for being an amazing person, and I’m so glad to have met you. 🙂 Happy birthday! *celebration noises*

From Megan @ A Barefoot Gal: HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLARA! I hope you have an incredible birthday, and I’m so glad we ‘met’ through blogging and that we are pen pals! You are so amazing at photography (I’ll refrain from using that title you seem to dislike even though it’s true, since it is your birthday) and graphic design and being amazing (yes, amazing at being amazing XD). I hope you have a birthday as fabulous as donkeys are!

From May @ Forever and Everly: Clara! You’re such a sweet, amazing, supportive girl. You take some of the most beautiful photos I’ve seen (because you are the CAMERA MASTER), and I’m in love with all the cute designs you make on your blog! I hope you have a WONDERFUL birthday & a great rest of your year!!! ❤

From Suzy @ The Youngest Perks (the other birthday girl!): HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOU FABULOUS AND BEAUTIFUL BEING, CLARA  I’ve loved every bit of our crazy rants about our mutual love for books and fandoms and the fact we’re literally twins irl. You’re an awesome person, and its been awesome knowing ya. 🙂 Now go stuff yourself with cake and food and relish in all the presents. Like right now. Shoo, it’s your birthday, get off the internet and eNJOY IT.


 

suzy

If you don’t know Suzy, you should definitely go wish her a happy birthday over at her blog The Youngest Perks. She’s a super talented coder (made her entire design from scratch like hello wow give me a minute to recover from the amazingness!!) and designer, as well as one of the funniest people I know in the blogosphere. She’s absolutely hilarious and she’ll stop at nothing to encourage others! <33

Suzy — I hope you have one seriously amazing birthday! You’re such a sweetheart and everything you say makes me smile. Also honestly pls give me your coding skills???? (Pretty pleaseeee????) You’re so hilarious and you put your heart into everything you do — I hope this year is the best yet!

From Clara @ Clara and Co: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUZY! I’m really glad we’ve been able to get to know each other thanks to this awesome invention called the internet. You’re an incredibly talented graphic designer, writer, and blogger. (I still can’t get over how gorgeous your blog is.) You’re also amazingly kind and hilarious – our conversations always have me laughing out loud. XD I hope you have an awesome day!! ❤

From Charis @ Charis Rae: Happy Birthday, Suzy! You’re hilarious and overall amazing. I’m so happy you’re a blogging friend! Your designs are bomb, your blog is amazing, and our convos are always full of lots of flailing and fangirling. I love you, and hope you have an amazing birthday!

 

Happy Birthday, Suzy! Love, Madi

 

From Madi @ Madi Grace: HEHE HI SUZY. I hope you have an amaaazing birthday today! It’s been awesome to meet you, and I absolutely love your blog. Here’s to an epic birthday!

+ virtual bday card from madi 🙂

From Danielle @ Near But Far: Hey Suzy! Happy Birthday! I don’t know you very well, but I do know you well enough to know you’re a great person with an awesome personality! You’re super fun to chat with because you’re super chill and funny! Have a great birthday!

From Nicole @ Wild Pennings: Suzy, I hope you have a marvelous birthday!! You’re one of the spunkiest, silliest people I’ve ever talked with and your comments make me laugh! XD Thanks for being one of the first people to ever comment on my blog; that encouraged me to keep at it. Your graphic design skills are just amazing, and I really look up to you as a person who always strives for her best. Again, I hope your birthday is a special one!! 😀


That wraps it up for this post! I know this is unusually placed and a bit unexpected, but we just had to have a special post to celebrate the birthdays of these two wonderful girls. Be sure to wish send birthday wishes to them both in the comments and stay dreaming!

sarah