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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being a light

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably read the metaphor of being a light. It’s such an incredible idea to me that once we’re saved, Jesus’ light shines out of us and into the world as He uses us as a bright spark in a place of darkness.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. – 1 Thessalonians 5:5

Isn’t that such a beautiful and inspiring verse? Something I think about often is this: how do I share the light of Jesus with others and help them to see the beauty of His love? Here are a few suggestions:


pray for others:

Making sure your friends and family know that someone is thinking of them and praying for them is a great way to show them God’s love. It can be really encouraging to someone to know that they’re being prayed for. If you’re forgetful like I am, make a list of everyone you want to pray for and keep it with you so you can add to it whenever necessary.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:16

help everyone:

Beyond just telling someone you care, actually show them that you care. Do chores in the house that your parents would normally do. Help your siblings with schoolwork. Offer to help everyone, everywhere as often as you possibly can. This shows someone that wow, they’re not just saying that they care – they actually do. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and making sacrifices for others is a wonderful way to show them the love of Christ.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

stay positive:

Pointing out the bright side during a hard time can shift everyone else’s point of view and turn a less-than-ideal situation into a reminder to be thankful. The attitude of one person can change the attitudes of everyone around them – I know from experience. If you’re smiling and praising God even when things go wrong, I can guarantee you that the people around you will follow your example.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

love your enemies:

Loving those who don’t seem to love you in return can be really hard, but the results are well worth it. Along with confusing your enemies and making them wonder what gives you the strength to treat them with such kindness, this is a wonderful, inspiring example of God’s love for anyone who might be paying attention.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44

 share the gospel:

There’s no better way to show Jesus’ love to someone than to share the gospel with them. Though no one apart from Jesus can save their soul, sharing the good news of God’s redemption with a person can point them in the right direction and give them hope, encouragement, and a purpose for their life.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! – Psalm 96:3


I hope those ideas were helpful and encouraging! Remember that no matter who you are, God can use you to be a light in the lives of others.

“You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14

-Clara ❤

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.

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 ❤

the outsiders

Last night, I was listening to one of my favorite bands, NEEDTOBREATHE, and The Outsiders came on. I’ve listened to that song dozens of times before, but this time, the lyrics really hit me.

One of the greatest things about being Christians is that we are the outsiders.

Wait… “outsider” is a bad thing, right?

That’s what we’ve been told by the world.

But this world is not our home.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20

Our true home is with Jesus. We are set apart by Him from the world. We are outsiders here, in our temporary home – but not in our eternal home.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18-19

Look again at the underlined part of that verse. The world hated Jesus.

Would you rather be loved by the flawed, twisted, sin-filled world that rejected Jesus – or by the perfect One who created you, knows everything about you, and still loves you unconditionally?

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:17

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather put my faith in forever than something that is “passing away”.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

Matthew 16:26

Next time you hear the phrase “there’s no place like home”, remember that for us, there truly isn’t – because we’re spending our eternity with Jesus.

Be an outsider.

On the outside, you’re free to roam,
On the outside, we’ve found a home,
On the outside, there’s more to see,
On the outside, we choose to be.

NEEDTOBREATHE, The Outsiders

-Clara ❤

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

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 ❤

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 ❤

{Never Ending}

2 Corinthians 4:16:  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Do you recall the day someone told you that you have an obnoxious laugh, that your style in clothes was odd, or that you were annoying and your opinions were stupid?

I’ll bet you remember it perfectly.

Now, every time you start to laugh at a joke, you hold yourself back. When you get dressed in the morning, you double check to make sure you fit with the trends. You never disagree with anyone and keep your mouth shut half the time.

During each one of these incidents, their words still ring in the back of your mind.

I let their words in. I let them get the best of me. — Worth it by Cimorelli

For many of you, insecurities fill your mind every day. Your hair is the wrong type or color, you’re not skinny enough, you have too many pimples; basically, you believe you’re a waste of space

So, you try to find a way to cope.

You change your appearance. You keep yourself busy. You lose weight. You act out. You refuse to let yourself cry.

Everything should be perfect then, right?

Wrong.

Pretty girl, don’t need to hide the part of you that you don’t like. Turns out, it’s my favorite thing about you. — Freckles by Maddie Wilson 

You’re still depressed, and you don’t know why. It’s never enough for anyone, and you still aren’t happy with yourself.

Oh, darling, you were never meant to change. You cannot find your fulfillment in what other people think; it’s a never-ending search. However, our fulfillment comes from God our father. Everything else will end in hurt, pain, and disappointment.

Psalms 139:14a: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

He made you: your smile, your laugh, your complexion, your style, your weight, your height, your personality, your talents — the Bible tells us we were even made in God’s image.

Song of Songs 4:7: You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.

In God’s eyes, everyone is beautiful. Think of yourself as God’s work of art. He spent time on you, crafting every part of you.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And when you get saved, your sin has been wiped clean.

I know this is a thing that a lot of people struggle with insecurities. Sometimes, it originates from people’s words. Their insults stick to us and we remember them for a long time. Even after they’re practically forgotten, we still feel insecure.

When things get hard, we try to find ways to cope, but at the end of them, they never seem to work. However, God gives us our worth, and can I say: you all are very, truly amazing. Like a piece of a puzzle — when one goes missing, the whole picture is ruined.

I hope you enjoyed this second person story/poetry/Bible verse/song lyric compilation! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

~Josie