Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

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Surprise! A post on a Friday. I had something I really wanted to share while it was still fresh in my mind. I think I’ll continue to do this; I plan my Saturday posts ahead, but sometimes I get ideas that just can’t wait. So you may get a surprise post every now and then.

There’s Christian music and Christian books and Christian movies.

There’s also secular music and secular books and secular movies.

So what do we listen to, read, and watch, and what do we avoid? Do we only consume explicitly Christian media, or is secular entertainment fine as long as it is appropriate?

Here are my thoughts on this:

God created the world. God is truth. The created world cannot help but reflect God’s truth. Secular media may unknowingly reflect deep and profound truths about God and who we are in God.

Of course, there are many sources of entertainment that are completely inappropriate or promote messages absolutely contrary to Christianity. Those are a no-no, no questions asked, no exceptions.

But in the vaguer areas, the songs that are appropriate but don’t really have a “Christian” message, the children’s movies that aren’t inappropriate but aren’t particular Christ-centered either, the books by secular authors, look for little nuggets of truth.

They may be unintentional, but they will be there.

This train of thought, for me, was sparked by the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. I was listening to it on the way home from dance and started wondering whether, as a Christian, I should limit myself only to Christian music.

Then I started paying attention to the words of the song.

Here’s just a few lines that really hit me.

“Everybody’s been there,

Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy

“Fallen for the fear

“And done some disappearing…

“Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue…

“And since your history of silence

“Won’t do you any good

“Did you think it would?

“Let your words be anything but empty

“Why don’t you tell them the truth?”

That could be a Christian song, couldn’t it? As I listened to these words, I felt myself inspired to be a witness, to stand up for what I believe without fear, to stop my shy silence and speak up. Even though it doesn’t specifically mention God or Christianity, this song got me thinking about spiritual things. And anything that does that, to me, is good.

If we really listen, we can find truth all around us. And that can be so encouraging.

So use discernment. Don’t limit yourself just to Christian media. When you do consume secular entertainment, pay close attention to the worldviews and messages. When you find anti-Christian messages, avoid them, as I’m sure you’ve been told many times before.

But there is a flip-side to that, too, that rarely gets mentioned. When you find truth in secular media, rejoice! Let it encourage you.

God can speak through sources that aren’t explicitly Christian. Secular media can portray truth and beauty as well as, or better than, “Christian” entertainment. God is the creator of all art, everything that is lovely and good, and art is meant to be enjoyed.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you ever found exciting nuggets of truth in secular entertainment? Do you disagree with me, and limit yourself to strictly “Christian” media? How do you use discernment in your entertainment choices? Share in the comments below! 

Read more:

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

A Peek Inside My Music Library

Thoughts on Unrealistic Expectations and “Happily Ever After”

March 2017 Month in Review

For me, at least, March was very much a month of the daily grind. Very little excitement, very little unusual happening. Just trying to live faithfully, day in and day out. I’m not sure I did a very good job.

But the daily grind doesn’t have to mean boredom. It doesn’t have to mean gritting our teeth and just doing the same thing one. more. time. In fact, joy does not depend on excitement and adventure. Joy can be found in the everyday, by trusting that every task in front of us on any given day is one that God has given us to be completed in diligence and enjoyed with gratitude.

Bloggings of the Month

after the rain2.jpg lessons from the rain (which got such a good response! I’m so glad it helped so many people)

reblog from my old blog: how I enjoyed reading Deuteronomy (a preview of a series to come)

Image result for the broken way a review of one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read

 

Truths of the Month

from Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Romans

*we are called not only to understand the Word intellectually, but to believe in our inmost heart and let it saturate our entire soul, constantly being reminded of it in our daily life and seeing and doing everything according to it

*we can learn from the sin of others, not watching it in a proud, judgmental way, but in fear, humility, and gratitude, realizing that we could very easily follow the same path

*God could have given us passages in the Bible about modern issues like social media and dating, but He didn’t…those issues should not be our focus. our focus should be on simply glorifying God in every circumstance

*joy can be found in our work by attributing our success not to ourselves, but to God, and being thankful for it

*the things that scare us about today’s world are not unique to modern times. God can handle it according to His perfect wisdom. there is nothing we have to do but trust

*in suffering, we do not have to force joy, but still continue to trust God and live faithfully even in sadness

Favorites of the Month

Image result for greenwitch The third book of The Dark is Rising Sequence, and my favorite of the series. The whole series is definitely worth reading, though!

Image result for the broken way See review above. So beautiful, profound, and healing.

Image result for sense and sensibility movie Elinor Dashwood is literally me. The weird part was seeing Snape play a proper English gentleman, and a good guy at that!

Image result for the fellowship of the ring A rewatch, obviously. But just had to include it because…how could I not?

Image result for age of minority If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you must! Sososo good for Christian teens or any Christian, really. And highly entertaining as well…I frequently look like a weirdo because I laugh out loud while driving.

34ae55bcedeaf01f8c8cd055559cb7fe an article in defense of fairy tales that I LOVED with every fibre of my being!

Coming in April

  • the beginning of my Lessons from the Old Testament Law series
  • a review or two, perhaps

How was your March? What are you looking forward to in April? Let me know in the comments! 

love, grace

The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering

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The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

My Rating: Five Stars

Age Suggestion: 12+

The Book

What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late? What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness? This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives.

This one’s for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness.  You could be one of the Beloved who is broken — and still lets yourself be loved.

You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually  within it.

You could discover and trust this broken way — the way to not be afraid of broken things.

(from Amazon with edits)

My Thoughts

This book is, to put it simply, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

I bought it a while back when I was at Barnes and Noble, and had put it at the end of my stack of books waiting to be read. But one day when I was having a particularly bad day, I needed something to encourage me and grabbed this book off the shelf. Wow, was it exactly what I was looking for.

The Broken Way is a raw, deeply personal, beautifully reflective exploration of how to navigate suffering as a Christian, and if you are going through something right now this book will absolutely speak to your soul. I cannot recommend it enough for those of you who are undergoing suffering of your own.

Even if you aren’t going through suffering, still read it! It addresses both the big suffering and the little, everyday stresses and worries that bother us all, giving a way to get through the general imperfection of life.

Ann Voskamp is one of the most talented writers alive today, and reading her writing is a unique experience unlike anything else. There were so many moments where I had to stop and read a phrase out loud to myself, slowly, and reflect on it before reading on, because it hit me so hard.

I have a feeling this will be one of my most-read, battered, scribbled-in-the-margins books in the years to come. It’s the kind of book that will change your life if you let it, the kind of book that every Christian should read and re-read and savor and live by.

Favorite Quotes (for just a taste of the beauty) 

“Blessed are those who are sad, who mourn, who feel the loss of what they love – because they will be held by the One who loves them. There is a strange and aching happiness only the hurting know – for they shall be held.” (18)

“So then as long as thanks was possible, then joy was always possible. The holy grail of joy was not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here, in the messy, piercing ache of now.” (29)

“Your life is unwreckable. Because Christ’s love is unstoppable. What seems to be undoing you can ultimately remake you.” (146)

“Feelings are meant to be fully felt and then fully surrendered to God. The word emotion comes from the Latin for ‘movement’ – and all feelings are meant to move you toward God.” (182)

“Jesus comes to give you freely through His passion what every other god forces you to try to get through performance…How can I not ache with a grateful love for a compassion like this? And how could His compassion for me not compel me to give His compassion to the aching?” (228)

 

What do you think? Have you read The Broken Way? If so, did you love it as much as I did? If not, will you read it now? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read More:

Check out my Facebook page for a mini-review of Beauty and the Beast.

8 Books Every Christian Teen Should Read

Book Review: Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

TV Review: Sherlock (2010-)

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My Rating: Five Stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

Seasons: 4 (3 hour and a half episodes each)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

At long last, here is the promised review of Sherlock. I am completely in love with this show and have wanted to put a review up for a long time! I was waiting until Season 4 was over and then it just didn’t fit in my blogging schedule until now.

(Also, I realized the last time I did any kind of review was August. Hm. I will try to be a bit more balanced from now on.)

The Show

In this contemporary version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, Dr. John Watson is a war vet just home from Afghanistan. He meets the brilliant but eccentric Holmes when the latter, who serves as a consultant to Scotland Yard, advertises for a flatmate. Almost as soon as Watson moves into the Baker Street flat, they are embroiled in mysteries, and Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty, appears to have a hand in the crimes. (from Google) 

My Thoughts

The characters are what make this show. Every actor is perfectly cast and at the top of their game, even for characters who are only in one episode; Cumberbatch and Freeman are both incredibly talented (seriously, Martin Freeman has the ability to make me cry like no other actor can).

The script and the amazing actors together make this show’s character development flawless. It is so much more than a crime thriller: it is about relationships, about the friendship between Sherlock and Watson and the way Sherlock develops into an actual living, feeling person who can interact with others. Cumberbatch plays that character development to perfection, and you barely even notice it’s happening until, at the end, Sherlock is a completely different person than he was before. It’s emotion-grabbing and flawlessly done.

Even though I consider the characters the centerpiece, the show does still have plenty of crime-thriller elements to satisfy those looking for a true mystery show. Each episode features its own mystery (although some tie together), and Sherlock’s methods in solving each are genius and leave the viewer in awe. The writing and directing is very well-done, crafting a story that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and that weaves many threads together exceptionally well.

Taking the Sherlock Holmes stories and setting them in modern-day London was a great idea! The modern elements add a lot (texting, anyone?), yet it still retains the classic charm and intrigue of the original stories.

Overall, this show is just simply very well done. The acting, the writing, the filming – everything comes together to create a show that, objectively, is one of the most high-quality TV shows I’ve ever seen.

And then if you consider the emotional aspect…be warned that if you start this show, your emotions will suffer. You will come to care about the characters more than you can even imagine, and the writers play off that to create episodes that will leave you with tears streaming down your face. It’s incredibly emotional without being hopeless or needlessly dark, and I love that.

Content

I won’t lie, Sherlock is a pretty intense show, with all of the crime and mystery and murder. I wouldn’t watch it if you are very sensitive to that sort of thing. But I’ve always been pretty sensitive and I found that I didn’t even think about it being too intense while I was watching it. While it is intense, it isn’t needlessly dark or gruesome.

There is no explicit content; however, there are some innuendos all throughout the series. Especially in the first season, there are also pretty frequent innuendos about a homosexual relationship between Sherlock and John (which, to be clear, never actually happens). It was annoying that they had to bring that up so often, but it got better in later seasons.

I don’t remember much about language; I think there is some, but it’s not anything R-rated (the show is TV-14).

Also, I did not watch Season 2 Episode 1, “A Scandal in Belgravia” because I heard it was a bit more inappropriate than the rest of the show (it’s the one based on the Irene Adler story, so I can believe it). Definitely find out what the content is like from someone who’s seen it before you watch it.

(I have not watched “The Abominable Bride” either, so I’m not factoring that one into any of this.)

Overall

This is an incredible TV show. If you’re a writer looking for good examples of character development, or a fan of period dramas and action movies (like me), or obsessed with all things British, or just enjoy good TV, I highly recommend it! As long as you can handle the intensity (which I would say is generally good for about ages 14 and up), it’s an amazing show that I would highly recommend!

 

What do you think? Have you seen Sherlock and are you a fan? If not, do you want to watch it? What other TV shows do you want me to review? Let me know in the comments below! 

love, grace

 

 

December 2016 Month in Review

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Christmas trees, Christmas music, Christmas cookies, Christmas presents…annnd just like that, December is over. In rolls January, bringing goals and fresh starts, snow (?) (please?), and a return to the normal routine.

I get very excited over making goals for the year. Last year I changed all my goals like three times during the year and then ditched them altogether, but let’s see if I can do better this year. I have a new planner, which always makes me optimistic about what I can do with my life. (I’m a planner nerd.)

And I really, really hope it snows soon! It never snows in December where I live but we usually get quite a bit of snow in January and February. Snow days are amazing.

This Month’s Devotions

This month, I read through Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift, an Advent devotional with Bible passages, readings to go with them, and questions for reflection. It was the second time I used this book during the Advent season and I absolutely loved it.

Ann Voskamp’s writing is superbly beautiful and the perfect way to stay focused on Christ during Advent. If you missed it, my Advent Reflections series was based on some of my favorite quotes from the book. All of those posts will be linked in the next section.

I’m currently studying The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. I started to have some questions about faith and the proof for God that I wanted to seek out answers to. I had read this book before, but not thoroughly, and didn’t remember any of it. This time I’m taking notes!

Bloggings

Image result for noel josh groban I shared some of my favorite Christmas music, both old favorites and new discoveries

childhood-christmas-favorites2 I also shared nostalgic Christmas favorites that I still enjoy

advent reflections part 1.jpgadvent-reflections-part-2advent reflections part 3.jpgadvent-reflections-part-4 the Advent series: part 1part 2part 3part 4

 a fun Christmasy tag

book and movie of the year 2016 2.jpg this year’s best book and movie

from other blogs…

A beautiful post about the wonder of God.

Also from The Rebelution, an interview with Tony Reinke about teens and technology. Totally worth listening to the whole thing!

Amanda’s post about facing the future really encouraged me as I start to think about what might be in my future…

Grace had a really great post about why she’s not ashamed she homeschools. I may not be homeschooled anymore, but I am still one of its biggest advocates, and this post hit the nail on the head.

Katie Gregoire is not a beauty guru. Also subscribe to her channel. She’s great.

A Studio C sketch in which the holidays are personified. One of my favorites of theirs recently!

If you haven’t seen Moana, you should. If you need more convincing: listen to this song.

And finally, if you still need more Christmas music in your life, here’s a gorgeous acapella Silent Night.

Readings

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  • Fourth Dawn: 3.5 stars. A very interesting look at Mary and Joseph and the history surrounding Christ’s birth. Read my Goodreads review for more.
  • The Greatest Gift: 5 stars of course. I think I’ve talked about this book enough on here already.
  • Letters from Father Christmas: 5 stars. I got this book as a gift; it was a Tolkien book that I didn’t even know existed! And the cover is gorgeous and glossy with that red and gold design; so pretty. Obviously I loved it, it’s Tolkien 😉
  • Library of Souls: 4 stars. My least favorite of the series, but still good. And the ending! It was actually happy. I was not sure how it would end happily, but it did!

Watchings

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Yes, it was Christmas break. How can you tell?

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: 4 stars. It was high time I actually watched this, and it was cute! A nice way to start my break.
  • Moana: 4 stars. Such a good movie! I would recommend seeing it in the theater if it’s still in theaters to get the quality sound and everything. The music is 5 stars (obviously, since it’s by Lin Manuel Miranda). And he even sings in one of the songs!
  • Elf: 5 stars. I’ve watched bits and pieces of this over the years but never actually seen the whole thing until this month. I loved it! So cute, and definitely something I will watch for Christmases to come.
  • AGT Holiday Spectacular: This is definitely a guilty-pleasure show, but this holiday version was fun! It was fun to see contestants come back and perform without the judging part.
  • The Nutcracker: Well, of course I had to watch this. I featured it in my childhood favorites post, and I can’t let a Christmas go by without seeing it!
  • Alice in Wonderland: 4 stars. I got this for Christmas and watched it immediately. It’s a relatively new, very creative ballet, that even people who are new to ballet would like because of all the different aspects (puppetry, tap dancing, etc.).
  • Sherlock: I just finished Season 3 last night. Still one of my favorite shows. CANNOT WAIT FOR SEASON 4 (which, if you hadn’t heard, is finnnnnnaly airing on Sunday!)

Listenings

I did a whole post on Christmas music so that basically covers it.

Upcoming in January

  • An official review of the first three seasons of Sherlock
  • Why I Don’t Date in High School: the beginnings of a two-month series on relationships in the teen years

 

I hope you had a wonderful December! What did you enjoy reading and watching this month? Are you excited for January? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

3 Childhood Christmas Favorites

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If there is one holiday that has tons of nostalgia surrounding it, it’s Christmas. Everyone has childhood traditions that have been part of their holiday season as long as they can remember, that provide continuity from year to year in the midst of growing up and going through changes in life. Christmas is a time to return to childhood, no matter how old we are.

This week, I want to continue the ‘Christmas favorites’ theme, taking a foray into the past and sharing three little pieces of Christmas that have been staples of my holiday season as long as I can remember. These are things that were huge parts of my childhood, that I still enjoy around Christmastime, and that I consider timeless, classic, and enjoyable for all ages.

 

Carpenters Christmas Portrait

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My family has listened to this album over and over on repeat every Christmas as long as I have been alive…first on tape, then CD :). It is such a classic! Not to mention it has so much nostalgia mixed in for me that it is always one of the first Christmas albums that I want to listen to at the beginning of the season. When I hear it the first time, I know Christmas has really arrived.

If you haven’t ever heard this album, you must listen to it! Classic Christmas at its finest.

 

Noelle of the Nutcracker by Pamela Jane

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I got this book one year as a child and loved it immediately, and have read it every year since and read it aloud to both of my younger sisters. I don’t know what it is about it that makes me love it so much, but I do, and it’s as much a tradition for me as anything else that my family does.

If you’re a teen or adult, you can probably read it in one sitting, which is all the more reason you should pick it up; it would also make a great gift for any younger siblings or cousins, etc. who are bookworms (or dancers!). Probably my favorite holiday book of all time!

 

The Nutcracker (American Ballet Theatre and Mikhail Baryshnikov)

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Okay…if I’m being honest, when I was a child I watched this year-round, not just at Christmas. But I’m including it here because it was such a part of my childhood and is technically Christmas-related.

It was probably the first ballet I ever saw, and could probably be credited with making me want to dance, which makes it even more special. Plus, Baryshnikov and Kirkland are such an incredible pair! There are other versions of the Nutcracker that I like just as well now, but none of them have the nostalgia of this one.

 

These three things all hold very special meaning for me, and they would also all be wonderful even without the nostalgia! I highly recommend them to all ages; they would be good for kids, teens, or adults to enjoy, or for families to enjoy together.

What are some of your most nostalgic Christmas favorites? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Coming soon: Advent reflections from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (posts during the week next week since I’m on break from school!)

November 2016 Month in Review

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December is here!! Which means Christmas!!

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday and so as soon as Thanksgiving is over I’m in full holiday season mode. Advent candles and devotionals, great music, decorating…I love it all!

November was a month of writing, primarily. This month, I wrote a novel from beginning to end, banged my head on keyboards, and then changed the plot completely to redraft the whole thing later. I saw my school musical, Godspell, and was pleasantly surprised by how respectful and accurate it was! (Let me know if you want more thoughts on this). Thanksgiving, of course, was a wonderful day of family time and delicious food.

And now, as we move on to December, I’m so excited to enjoy Christmas and the last month of 2016!

This Month’s Devotions

I finished reading through my Bible!

For the majority of the month I was in the book of Revelation. And while I was a little scared to start reading this notoriously difficult book, it turned out to be one of my favorite books in the entire Bible.

Why? Because it’s such a beautiful picture of the hope we have as Christians.

And that, I think, is the key to enjoying Revelation. Don’t try to decode every symbol or analyze every vision. Read it all with the overall message in mind: Christians will be persecuted, but it will not last forever. God will return, and He will judge the world and bring justice to His people. Through Christ’s amazing sacrifice, we will live forever in heaven, a place of such beauty we cannot even imagine it here on earth.

If you read Revelation that way, I think you will find it much more enjoyable.

Bloggings

god is in control2.jpgthere was an election that happened this month and please remember this simple truth

Purposeful Pages Memethe last linkup: an inspiring website, how blogging has impacted me, what I would tell my younger self

gratitude2having gratitude in the midst of our entitled culture

from other blogs…

Honestly just read everything Amanda wrote this month. Slowly. Digest it and reflect on it. Such good posts that I couldn’t pick just one or two!

I love the idea of doing a one second every day video project. Don’t know if I could actually pull it off, but it is a really cool way to record memories!

This short story is so beautiful I can’t even…agh. So good. The concept and the twist and it’s just…read it.

And finally, two things to get you in the Christmas spirit: YA books paired with Christmas songs and December Song, Peter Hollens’ new Christmas single that is absolutely gorgeous.

Readings

The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and ExercisesThe Body in the Library (Miss Marple, #3)Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #2)

Three really good books that I read this month; all pretty quick reads, since I was writing up a storm and didn’t have a lot of spare time.

  • The Art of War for Writers: 4 stars. A really handy little book that I will be referencing often. Read my review on Goodreads here.
  • The Body in the Library: 4 stars. Love me a good Agatha Christie when I need something quick, light, and engaging.
  • Hollow City: 5 stars. I was worried it wouldn’t be as good as the first one, but it drew me in just like that one did. I love this series so much!

Watchings

Image result for sherlockImage result for hamilton's america

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(yes, I watched two things with Benedict Cumberbatch in them. don’t judge me.)

  • Sherlock: again, I only watched one episode of this in the entire month. Seriously. I just don’t have time to watch TV, even such epic TV as this. The one episode I did watch was the wedding episode (fellow Sherlock fans know which one I mean?) and it was just the BEST ever. All the cuteness!!
  • Hamilton’s America: yes, I have joined the madness of being obsessed with Hamilton. Even I, the one who hates rap with a passion, love it, and I think that says something! Anyway, this documentary was really great for some behind the scenes and clips of the musical as well as historical background. Highly recommended if you love Hamilton as much as I do!
  • Doctor Strange: 4 stars. Another great Marvel movie, as usual. Benedict Cumberbatch incredible, as usual. And if any of you are Marvel fans but afraid to see this one because of the supernatural elements, it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Not any different from Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy, really, and any problems I had with the movie were for different reasons altogether.

Listenings

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  • Godspell: As mentioned before, this was my school’s musical, and in addition to being much more accurate and respectful than I expected, the music is SO good. Listened to it obsessively after seeing the show!
  • Greatest Hymns: One day I got fed up with generic Christian music and wanted to go back to the old school songs, so I looked up hymn albums that I might like and found this one. It was exactly what I needed to refresh my soul.

Here’s a song that just makes me want to dance:

This is kind of the theme song for my NaNoWriMo (in addition to just being beautiful):

And another song I listened to on repeat while writing this month (love, love, love!):

Upcoming in December

  • Mini-reviews of favorite Christmas books, movies, and/or music
  • Um…an as-yet undetermined post about Christmas? Advent? Something? Who knows.
  • The 2016 Book and Movie of the Year! I can’t believe it’s already time to do another one of these.

 

I hope you all had a wonderful November! See you next week with some Christmasy stuff. Have an amazing December and enjoy the holidays!

love, grace

October 2016 Month in Review

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Leaves are changing colors, football is in full swing, and pumpkins decorate porches everywhere. It’s officially fall!

October was a month of settling into routines, of diligent work amid the daily grind. This month I helped at a wedding reception. I went to my homecoming football game (which we lost…) and had a ton of fun, and my chorus department sang the national anthem at another football game. I spent my weeks doing homework, going to dance class, and teaching piano lessons. Various activities with family and friends rounded out the month.

As November looms, there’s obviously one big thing on my mind…National Novel Writing Month! If you’re participating too, let me know and we can be buddies! I’m so excited. Don’t worry, it shouldn’t affect blogging too much, as I can hopefully still get posts up once a week. But if I do end up disappearing without explanation, that’s why.

This Month’s Devotions

This month I finished reading Hebrews and continued through James, 1  Peter and 2 Peter. I am now about halfway through 1 John. I’m getting near the end of this Bible read-through, and it will be the first time I’ve ever read the Bible all the way through. I’m excited to finally have read the whole thing!

Some things God taught me this month:

*True faith leads to works. Faith comes first, and then the works follow; the works are not something we must do in order to gain faith, but the other way around.

*Judging one another means putting ourselves and our own standards above God’s law. That is sin.

*In the Christian life, the solution to everything is putting God first. It helps to humble us, make us kinder to others, gain peace for the future, overcome temptation…it is the key to righteousness.

*Every instruction for how to live comes back to the gospel. It all has its foundation in the work of Christ.

Bloggings

Purposeful Pages Memethe linkup:  why I write, a book I would burn, my Myers-Briggs type, and more

encouragement for teens trying to find their way in life

living on the edge edited.jpggetting rid of a cultural rebellious attitude

from other blogs…

This post soothed my soul and quieted the perfectionist in me. Amanda has a way with words that puts God’s beautiful truth into beautiful writing to match.

Should we, as Christians, be drinking the pumpkin spice latte? Hahahahaha. This post made my day. (Public Service Announcement: It is sarcasm. PLEASE do not take it seriously. I beg of you.)

In case you ever thought that writing wasn’t a real job, Liz is here to convince you otherwise.

If you have lots of time to read a long post and look at lots of pictures, Christine’s post about her bookshop job is lots of fun!

Loved this gorgeous song from Imogen Elvis.

And finally, the phantom of the opera’s girl problems. You’re welcome.

Readings

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(Would you look at how similar these books are. Also the fact that they’re both story collections to supplement a popular series. I swear it wasn’t on purpose.)

Not a great reading month for me in terms of numbers, but that book on the right more than made up for lack of reading in the early part of the month!

Watchings

Image result for sherlockImage result for big fish

Again, not all that time to watch stuff this month. But the things I did watch were very high-quality!

  • Sherlock: Finally got to watch like one episode of season three. Dying to see the rest but never have time. Still an absolutely AMAZING show.
  • Big Fish: Five stars. I watched this in my Creative Writing class at school. It doesn’t really stand up to logical analysis, but somehow that’s what makes it so beautiful. Also I don’t really know how to explain it. Look it up on IMDb or something. But highly recommended!

 

So that’s that. Have a great November, and if you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month, good luck! See you next week!

love, grace

August 2016 Month in Review

 A quick update before we start…

Since my schedule for the school year is going to be insanely busy, I will only be posting once per week, on Saturdays, starting next week. I think it will be so much better for my stress levels and it’s much better for me to consistently post once a week then to promise two posts a week and never deliver. So posts will be coming on Saturdays during the school year; there may be an occasional “surprise” post on days I have off or something, but most of the time it will just be once a week.

This Month’s Devotions

Lately I’ve been reading in the New Testament, through Romans, 1 Corinthians, and I’ve just started 2 Corinthians. I highlighted so much in Romans…it was sometimes hard to understand, but I still got a lot out of it and hopefully I’ll go back and do a deeper study of it sometime.

Notable verses:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” -Romans 1:16

That is the attitude I want to have about the gospel, especially around unbelievers.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:1-2

One of my life motto verses.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” -Romans 16:20

Encouraging to know.

Bloggings

blogiversary2 celebrating!

reviewing a popular series

Purposeful Pages Memethe second linkup

god in school2.jpgseeking God in school

books2.jpgthe purpose of stories

standing for truth2remembering truth

Image result for red queen glass swordreviewing another popular series

respect teachers2.jpga common problem

I also added a What I Believe page under the “About” label. Check it out if you haven’t!

Posts and videos I enjoyed this month:

Readings

Image result for don't waste your lifeImage result for the scarlet letterImage result for keep a quiet heart

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Watchings and Listenings

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Image result for harry potter and the chamber of secretsImage result for zootopia

  • The Olympics: well, obviously.
  • Sherlock: This show is so good. It’s mostly clean (I did skip one episode b/c I heard it was a bit inappropriate), so well-done, the plot is great, the actors are INCREDIBLE, and the character development is SO, SO, SO GOOD! It’s creepy and intense but not so much that it bothers me, which is great. It’s a perfect balance of thrill vs. actually scaring me. This is my new favorite TV show!!
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 3 stars. Good, but I definitely liked the book better.
  • Zootopia: Four stars. A cute movie with a really important message.

I discovered Lauren Daigle recently, a Christian artist with some great music. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Coming in September

  • A review of Sherlock 
  • I promise, you don’t have to do it all
  • Are our works guilt offerings or thank offerings to God?

 

What do you think? Did you have a good August? Are you excited for September? Share your favorite summer memories in the comments below! 

love, grace

Book Review: Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

Image result for red queen glass sword

My Rating: Three Stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

I wasn’t planning to do a review of these books, instead just exploring my general thoughts about them in my post from last Saturday, Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories).

I didn’t have anything else to post on today, though, and I thought it might be good to put up a separate review of these books since they’re so popular right now.

The Books

Red Queen: The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Glass Sword: Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

(from Goodreads with a few edits)

What I Liked 

There are some great supporting characters in these books. I said in my review of Red Queen on Goodreads that I didn’t like Farley, but I got over that fast and she became one of my favorite characters, along with Shade. And my favoritest character of ever that I thought was great and then…*sob* If you want more details about this character and don’t mind spoilers, that’s the spoiler section on my Goodreads review, so you can check that out.

The worldbuilding was very good, I thought, although a map would have been very helpful since by the end of Glass Sword I was very confused about all of the places they were going. But the fact that the world needed a map speaks well about its development and complexity. Also, I felt like we got a lot of information about the culture and setting without any info-dumping, which was nice.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the writing, when compared to a lot of YA I’ve read. It was a bit of a different style, which was nice.

These books gripped me and kept my interest; I got through them much faster than Divergent, which definitely makes me like them better.

And the emotions…not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s a thing that happened so I’ll just mention it here.

What I Didn’t Like

I COULD NOT STAND MARE. She was a whiny, entitled, self-centered brat and then wandered around pitifully asking why she always pushed away all of her friends and no one liked her anymore. Hmm…you’re being a brat, so why would they still want to be friends with you? Maybe stop whining and just be a nicer person? And then at the end, she wouldn’t take anyone’s advice, and her internal monologue can be summed up as”I can’t believe they’re saying this to me again, I know it’s right but I’m just going to ignore it anyway and keep acting the same way”. Not a fan.

Ahem.

I really try to be professional in my reviews.

The other thing with Mare is that it took me a while at the beginning of the book to figure out if she was a girl or a boy. It wasn’t obvious. I thought she was a boy, which I didn’t appreciate when I finally realized she was a girl.

The endings of both books. The first one left me shocked and upset, and the second one left me a bit confused. I can’t say more because of spoilers.

Content

These books are not light and fluffy. There is violence, a lot of it, and some pretty disturbing elements too. Torture and murder and superpowers…it isn’t pretty.

As for inappropriate content, there is romance in both books, with some implied stuff especially in the second book, but not really anything super inappropriate, so that was good.

Overall Thoughts

Again, everything I talked about last week applies here. So far, these books don’t really pass the Philippians 4:8 test. It’s a lot of violence and selfish people doing selfish things, which, again, left me emotionally drained and frustrated.

I did like them better than Divergent, hence the three-star rating instead of two, but it’s still a pretty low three stars. I don’t know if I’ll read the final book when it comes out; I would like to, but I won’t be making a huge effort to get a hold of it and I might just forget. We’ll see.

What do you think? Have you read Red Queen and Glass Sword? Did you like them? Did you agree with what I said? Why or why not?

love, grace