good news

Every single day, I am continually amazed by the good news of Jesus. The thought of His incredible sacrifice and redemption just isn’t something that I can get used to. I don’t think it will ever cease to amaze me, and I love that. It’s a source of endless joy.

One of my favorite bands, Rend Collective, writes songs that are incredibly joyful and full of love for our Creator, and every time I listen to them, I’m reminded just how much good news God has for us.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 43:1) Our Creator has defeated death itself, leaving us with no reason for fear. As soon as we confess our sin to God, He gives us eternal life with Him. We have literally no reason to be afraid of any earthly thing. Fear not. Is there any better news than that?

To the Lord our God belongs mercy and forgiveness. (Daniel 9:9) We can never lose favor in the sight of God. The forgiveness and love that He has for us is endless. We disobey Him again and again and again, and every single time, He forgives us. He loves us perfectly, never wavering, patiently waiting for us to return no matter how many times we run away from Him. For us, flawed and imperfect people that can’t stop making mistakes, this is such an enormous relief and source of joy.

We are not of this world. (John 15:19) I’ve actually posted about this before, but it’s such a wonderful reminder that I want to share it again. We are outsiders in this world. Once we have been saved by God, our home is in heaven, not here on earth. This is simply our temporary home, and we don’t have to worry about trying to fit in where we don’t belong. We can proudly stand out and wait for the day when we no longer outsiders. As one of my favorite Rend Collective songs says, “There are no outsiders to Your love. We are all welcome, there’s grace enough.”

For this very purpose I have raised you up. (Romans 9:17) As soon as we are saved, we are given an incredible purpose for our lives. We get to live for Jesus, sharing the wonderful news of his redemption with the world and serving Him through our words and actions. What better way to spend our time on earth than to spread the good news of our Savior?

Just the simple truth of our own brokenness and Jesus’ sacrifice should be enough to inspire joy on a daily basis. I think that sometimes we get too caught up in the details and forget to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. No matter what happens to us, if we have been saved, then we have nothing to fear. Jesus loves us eternally, forgives us eternally, and protects us eternally. That good news should be spread throughout all creation.

I will be undignified,
I will praise the Lord my God with all my might,
I will leave my pride behind,
I will praise the Lord my God with all my life.

Rend Collective, I Will Be Undignified

-Clara ❤

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your words matter.

Do you ever see someone who needs some encouragement and wish you could do something? Do you doubt your ability to help because you’re shy, embarrassed, or not good with words? You’re not the only one.

I think that many of us struggle with this – but we shouldn’t. You can make an enormous difference in someone else’s life, no matter who you are or how young you may be. All it takes to lift someone up are a few simple words of encouragement.

The power of words is immense. They can build someone up or tear them down. You’ve probably heard the saying that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.” That’s very true and important – but there’s more. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything – but if you do have something nice to say, say it. No matter how insignificant it may seem. If you know someone who’s really talented, it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to say anything encouraging to them. You might feel like your words wouldn’t matter much among all the compliments they must be getting. But if everyone thinks that way, then no one will compliment them at all. Every bit of encouragement, no matter how small it may seem, is important.

I wouldn’t be doing many of the things I love if people hadn’t encouraged me to keep going or complemented what I had created. Even the simplest things, like someone leaving a comment on one of my blog posts and telling me that they enjoyed it, makes me smile and inspires me to keep doing what I love.

Just as easily as words can make an amazing impact on someone’s life, they can also be incredibly hurtful.

Someone once told my dad that he didn’t have a good singing voice. Though the person who said that may have long forgotten their words, their comment impacted my dad so much that he didn’t sing again until he was in college and a friend encouraged him to sing. Even after that, it took him many, many years to sing confidently again. He actually has an amazing singing voice. You might have had a similar experience at some point in your life. Many people are much too careless with their words, and they never realize just how much they’re impacting others.

That’s just one small example of how your words can hurt someone. A single sentence can influence a person enormously. Words can tear down and destroy, but they can also be beautiful, encouraging, and inspiring. Use your words to put a smile on someone else’s face. Encourage your family and friends. Be that person who has a compliment for everyone they meet. You can make an enormous difference in someone’s life with nothing but a few simple words.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

-Clara ❤

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?

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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finding joy admist change

“Change is good.”

“Yeah, but it’s not easy.”

 – Rafiki & Simba, The Lion King

I’d like to talk about change for a minute. As a standard, I’m usually a pretty flexible person – an unexpected detour or sudden twist from the plan normally doesn’t bother me that much. But when change after change keeps piling up, when things keep twisting and turning like a complicated book plot and my mind is frantically saying, no, wait, this isn’t how it’s supposed to happen – it can be hard to keep the right attitude.

We’re often told that change is a good thing, as that quote from The Lion King portrays. I believe that change is good. But that truth can be difficult to accept – especially when nothing seems to be changing for the better.

Even when your life is turning upside down, there are some things that will never change. No matter what happens, Jesus remains unchanging for all eternity.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

I don’t know about you, but that’s a very comforting thought to me. There is absolutely nothing on this earth that can change Jesus Christ. He will forever be the exactly the same. A day will never come when we can’t count on him to be there for us.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:2

Another wonderful and important thing to remember is this: every single difficulty that we undergo on this earth is preparing us for the life after death. Even our worst trials and failures are nothing but a momentary affliction:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

In fact, the Bible tells us that the trials we encounter here on earth are to be counted as joy – for they are helping us to become steadfast in our faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4

Furthermore, we can be completely and totally reassured that God is absolutely keeping every single one His promises to us, even when we can’t see how He’s doing it. Especially when we can’t see it.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? – Numbers 23:19

Most importantly of all, no matter what happens to us, we cannot be crushed or destroyed. As Christians, the life of Jesus is manifested inside of us – and nothing can stand in the way of that.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is this: In the midst of change, don’t let yourself become discouraged. Though you may not be able to see it, God is in control of every single part of your life. He will keep you safe no matter what.

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6

-Clara ❤

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

​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

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.

“For I can do all things in Him who gives my strength.” – Philippians 4:13