2018 Year in Review

Fireworks Display Above Trees

2018 is over.

This year has been a crazy ride: the completion of the college application process, the whirlwind of senior year events and grad parties and graduation itself, a two-week trip to Europe that was an incredible experience, moving into college, and completing my first semester at the college of my dreams.

On the blog, all of this change has meant sometimes spotty posts, and so I want to thank all of you so very much for sticking around and being patient with me. Now that I’ve gotten back into the groove of posting weekly, I want it to stay that way. I’m just settling in for my second semester, so we’ll see what happens as classes get going, but Saturday posts are definitely what I’m aiming for!

For now, here’s a look back at some 2018 highlights:

Most Popular Posts (By Pageviews)

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Should Christians Read Fiction?

We Need Higher-Quality Christian Art.

Transitions: Learning to Trust God Through College Applications

Why Christians Should Care About the Arts

Other Personal Favorite Posts

Why the Arts Are a Valid Career Path for Christians (are you noticing what the theme for this year was yet?)

Christian, It’s Okay to Dance.

Should We Accept Ourselves For Who We Are?

Favorite Books of 2018

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Favorite Movies of 2018

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Coming in 2019

So…here’s the truth.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t post as much during the fall is because I’m starting to feel really burnt out on blogging.

I feel like I don’t have anything to say anymore.

It used to be, everything would inspire me to write posts. I had a list of ideas a mile long. And sure, I still have enough ideas that I could fill the blog, but…they aren’t ideas I’m passionate about. They aren’t things that motivate me to write.

I’m in a kind of limbo right now with this blog. Blogging isn’t really the cool thing anymore, but I really enjoy it. But at this point I’ve been doing it for so long (more than four years!) that I feel like I’m exhausting my niche. I’ve changed a lot since I started this blog, and I’m not really sure what direction I want to take it in now.

I guess the main thing I’m saying is that there may be a lot of experimentation in 2019. Please, give me lots of feedback! Let me know which of my posts you like and don’t like as I play around and try different things.

And right now, I need your input. Give me requests and suggestions and questions! Tell me what you want me to focus on! More movie reviews? More bookish content? More Bible studies, cultural issues, practical posts? Lifestyle? Fashion?!

Basically, the sky is the limit for 2019, and I want to know how best to serve you! So share all the thoughts in the comments!

I hope you all had a wonderful 2018, and here’s to a full and adventurous 2019!

love, grace

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Favorites Roundup: August ’18

Hello!

So…

It’s been a long time.

Since I last wrote, I packed up my entire life, moved 14 hours away from home, met a new roommate, moved into a new dorm, made some new friends, started some new classes, and basically started a whole new life.

And now I hope to be back to blogging for good! My life has settled into somewhat of a routine, and although it’s crazy busy, I’ll be trying to fit blog posts in every Saturday. Throughout the fall, I’ll be getting back to the Transitions series, so that you can come along with me on my college journey and hear what I’m learning as the weeks go by.

More on that later. For today, I want to share with you a belated list of some of my favorite things from August. Because I kept meaning to do this, and these are too good not to share.

Favorite Books

Image result for save the date morgan matson My first Morgan Matson book definitely lived up to the hype. Check out my full review here.

Image result for fawkes nadine brandes This book is full of incredibly powerful themes and issues. Brandes does something many authors fail to do, and fits her faith into a book in a deep and beautiful way without making it preachy. (And this book was written for the general market!)

Favorite Movies

Image result for newsies live I KNOW I’ve mentioned it on here before, but…a bunch of dorm friends and I rewatched it the other night, and I just have to say it again. Newsies Live is one of my favorite movies of all time. And it’s on Netflix, so there’s no excuse not to watch it!

Image result for the lion king Guess what?? I watched this for the VERY FIRST TIME. Amazing. Of course.

Favorite Articles/Blog Posts

Favorite Videos

Favorite Song

 

What’s the best movie you saw in August? Share in the comments!

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: Feb-April ’18

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Happy May! We’re so far into 2018, and it’s been a great year so far. Here are some of my favorite finds in the last few months…

Let’s start off with this amazing arrangement of an iconic song:

Autobiography of a Fantasy Character – hilariously calls out all of the cliches, and Tracey now has two more parts in the series!

Art Which Nourishes, Art Which Starves – from My Lady Bibliophile, and so relevant to all of the things we’ve been talking about on the blog lately.

What Is Love? – a beautiful and inspiring reflection from Abbiee on all the small ways we show love in our everyday lives.

This video from Becca:

Why Every Day is a Beautiful Day – a simple, inspiring call to thoughtful living (all of Miriam’s writing has been so great lately too)

What a Cold Shower Taught Me About Gratefulness – another reminder to keep perspective in the midst of the Christian life

Some simple, practical tips to improve life for you and everyone around you:

3 Epic Ways to Make the Devil Scream Oh No – an epically inspiring post from up-and-coming Christian blogger Madi Grace

And finally, Christian Alexa:

 

Which is your favorite? What other awesome things have you found around the Internet recently? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Favorites Roundup: December/January ’17-’18

On the Movie Screen: Jan-March 2018

Superheroes, Science, and Sanderson (Reading Recap Jan-Feb 2018)

2017 Year in Review

year in review

Somehow 2017 is over, and 2018 is upon us in a little more than twenty-four hours. It simultaneously feels like this year went on forever but also flew by. I finished my junior year of high school, started my senior year, switched back to my old dance studio and performed in the Nutcracker again, went to a dance program and an academic program away from home, wrote a novella for the Rooglewood Press contest…so much happened. And the last few months have been an absolute whirlwind. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, a little more peace in the coming months, now that a few of my most stressful projects are winding down.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting year for the blog (especially the last couple of months), and I want to thank all of you for sticking around and reading everything I have to say! I hope to invest so much more into this blog in 2018.

But before we get into that, here’s a quick recap of some things from 2017:

Most Popular Posts (by pageviews)

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 1: God’s Purpose for Romance

Fun Friday: Blue Sky Tag

Why Growing Up is a Good Thing

The Broken Way: Finding Beauty in Brokenness and Suffering

Other Personal Favorite Posts

The Relationship Series (first one linked in list above):

God’s Purpose for Singleness

Avoiding Drama and Temptation

Developing Your Convictions on Dating 

4 Ways to Stay Content in Singleness

And this one that seemed to mean a lot to quite a few people: After the Rain: Lessons from a Stormy Day

Favorite Books of 2017

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Favorite Movies of 2017

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Plans for 2018

I have lots of ideas for what I want to do on this blog in 2018…

First of all, I want to do lots more reviews of books, movies, podcasts, blogs, etc. There is so much media out there to sort through, and I consider that one of True and Pure’s most important purposes, to help you know what out there is good and God-honoring and worth your time.

I also have an idea to start a regular “from my journal” series, where I share things I’ve been learning in my devotional time. I’m still considering doing a series on learning to drive as well, and I’ll continue to do Monthly Favorites and the occasional Quotable Quotes.

In my own life, this coming year is going to be one of great change: I’ll be graduating high school, spending two weeks in Europe over the summer, turning 18, and then starting college. So you can probably expect posts related to those things to pop up here once in a while.

(And if you’d like to start seeing more about my life, please let me know! I purposely steer away from it, but I do want you all to feel like you know me, and I don’t want this blog to come across as impersonal.)

As of tomorrow, my novella will be entered into the contest (it’s fully done as of this afternoon! Eeeee!) and I’ll have the freedom to work on some different writing projects. One of the things I’m considering is writing a serial story to post on here, probably allegorical, and I might publish some poetry or something from time to time. I also plan to start submitting some articles to websites like The Rebelution and Kingdom Pen. This year is going to be a year of exploring with my writing, lots of small projects. My novella took a lot out of me and I’m not quite ready to attempt a major project again yet.

If you have any post suggestions or requests, please let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And now…how was your 2017?

Was it good? Hard? Some of both? What were the best parts? What did God teach you through the bad parts?

Did you publish any writing (blog posts, etc.) that you’re particularly proud of (share it!)? Looking back, what else did you accomplish?

What were your favorite books and movies? Did you discover new music, or a new author, or a new blogger that you now love?

And what are you looking forward to in 2018? What do you hope to accomplish? What are you excited for?

I want to hear all about it! Share in the comments below. Here’s to a wonderful New Year’s and a wonderful 2018!

love, grace

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

I don’t talk about my personal life on here all that much, but today I want to share something that happened this past week and the big lessons that I’m learning from it.

I’m in the middle of the college application process, and most of you probably don’t know that my dream school is Princeton. This is a dream that developed relatively recently as I researched and visited, and let me tell you – I want to go there so badly. 

So in October, I polished up my application and hit submit. I was told I would find out in mid-December.

Well, the decision came out this week. I was deferred.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with college-speak, that means they aren’t deciding yet, that since I applied with the early round, they’re waiting to decide with the next round in the spring. Basically, I still have no idea what’s going to happen, and I have to wait three more months to find out.

Was I disappointed? Yes, of course. Obviously I had hoped that I would get in and my future would be settled.

But that afternoon, I heard God saying to me – You don’t trust me yet. So I’m going to make you wait a little longer. 

And that brought such a strong sense of peace.

God is giving me another, longer waiting season so that I will learn to lean on Him, to let go of things I can’t control, to trust in His plan. He is making me wait, so that I can learn that it’s all going to be okay, so that I can let go of my own plans for my future, open my fists and give it all to Him, and say, with total honesty – Lord, I trust your will over my own.

He started to teach me this, in a small way, at Nutcracker last weekend (and the timing of this is amazing). I had some fast costume changes, and a few times during the shows I didn’t make it and had to enter late for a dance. The first time this happened, I was so stressed out, but as the weekend went on I felt something shift – and I had peace.

During the final show, I was late once and almost late a second time. And I was okay with it. I knew that in the scheme of things it didn’t matter, that I couldn’t control it. I was at peace, going with the flow and trusting God’s purposes.

I’m normally a huge perfectionist, so this was a major shift in perspective. It could only have been God. And I think He was preparing me, teaching me to trust on a small scale so that when it came to the big stuff, I would be ready.

And so, on Wednesday, when I opened my decision and read “The admissions committee has deferred a decision on your application until the spring”, I could be okay with it.

Waiting is hard. But it is in waiting that we have to cast ourselves onto God the most. It is in waiting that we must rely on Him, because we have nothing else to lean on. It is in waiting that the Christian life becomes most different from the worldly life, in waiting that our faith is tested, in waiting that our faith becomes solid and unshakeable.

I don’t trust God enough yet – I know that. And I know God is calling me to this waiting season for a purpose, to teach me to trust, to strengthen my faith. So in the next few months, I’m going to have to learn. I’m going to have to learn to live my life the best I can, not worrying about what will happen in April. I’m going to have to learn to give my stresses and my worries to my God constantly.

And most of all, I’m going to have to learn to hold my plans for my future with open hands. Because the plans He has for me? They are good.

Better than anything I could ever dream of.

Whether they include Princeton or not.

love, grace

August 2017 Month in Review

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“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” (Henry James)

Bloggings of the Month

liebster award.pngsome more random things about me (these tags get harder every time I do them…)

Image result for the gray havens highlighting one of my new very favorite bands

MY VERY FIRST GUEST POST!!!! The lovely Miriam from Crafted by Christ wrote a beautiful post on thriving right where we are. I loved hosting her! Be sure to read the post and check out her blog as well!

29949578 a review of one of my favorite summer reads

I celebrated my second blogiversary and did my very first giveaway!

My tips for reading more during the school year, plus recommendations

habits3 and finally…habits to cultivate this school year

Favorites of the Month

Thrive SeriesThe first post in Miriam’s new series came out! I was so excited for this, and the first post did not disappoint.

 I wish everyone in the world would read this post from Nadine Brandes and take it to heart.

Image result for warfare julie hallWarfare by Julie Hall (my review)

I WANT TO SCREAM FROM THE ROOFTOPS HOW MUCH I LOVE AND AGREE WITH THIS POST!!!

Katie Grace put everything I’m feeling about senior year into words.

This video is such an important reminder as us teenagers try to figure out what to do with our lives:

Image result for my lady janeMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (my review)

It Takes Trust in God to Rebel Against the Culture (1)I found this article about trusting God so helpful and practical!

I relate to this video so much and I’m sure many of you can too…

And finally, purely for fun:

Coming in September

I’ve put together my blogging schedule all the way through December and I’m so excited for it! In September, you can look forward to the beginning of a brand-new series that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, for which I will write periodic posts over the next few months. (Here’s a hint: reading the most important book!) I’m also going to review a movie this month, so if you have any movies you’d like to see a review for, let me know in the comments!

How was your August? Did you have any amazing summer adventures? What are you excited for this school year? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

10 Verses to Encourage You This School Year

Remember…Take It One Step at a Time

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

Belated Blogiversary Celebration + Giveaway!

It was my blogiversary earlier this month, and I completely forgot decided to wait until now to celebrate!

It’s been two years since I started this blog, and I can’t believe how much it has grown. I don’t know what I expected to happen…I think that even though I wanted to have a lot of followers, I never thought I would actually have a lot of followers. And yet True and Pure continues to grow, and God is using my writing beyond what I ever imagined.

So thank you, my wonderful readers, for supporting me and being interested in what I have to say! Without you, this blog would have no point. It means so much that you continue to read and like and comment on my posts. Thank you for always being such thoughtful, encouraging readers, who I truly enjoy interacting with!

All-Time Most Popular Posts

I have posted a total of 166 posts since I started this blog. Here are the top ten most popular:

modesty series 2Should Christian Girls Wear Makeup? 

selection series for blogBook Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

3 Reasons I Hate Black Friday

why I'm not dating in high school 1.jpgWhy I’m Not Dating in High School, part 1: God’s Purpose for Romance

modesty series 2How to Dress Modestly (Tips and Tricks) 

God outside of timeC.S. Lewis: God Outside of Time

sermon notes2.jpgHow to Take Sermon Notes 

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Fun Friday: Blue Sky Tag 

untitledInfinity Dreams Award 

What’s Next?

In the year to come, I want to continue to write posts that will encourage all of you to live for God in your teen years. I want to write more reviews, invite more guest posters, and try lots of new things (seriously, I have so many ideas…poetry/flash fiction, interviews, Q&As…).

I would welcome any requests or suggestions you have! Feel free to leave me a comment, or get in touch with the form under “Contact Me”.

Giveaway

And now, a True and Pure first…my very first giveaway!

In honor of my blogiversary, I will be giving away the following to one winner: 

  • A paperback copy of Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal (read my review)
  • A handwritten note of encouragement from me

To enter:

  • Be a follower of my blog
  • Comment below and share a Bible verse that’s been encouraging you this summer!

That’s it! The giveaway will close on August 25, 2017. I’ll choose one winner to announce in my post on August 26!

I’m so excited for the year to come, and I can’t wait to see what God does with my words this year! Thank you again, so much, for coming along on this journey with me!

love, grace

July 2017 Month in Review

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I’m back! Taking a hiatus was definitely the right thing to do, as the last few weeks have been absolutely crazy. I survived, however! I survived teaching ballet to rambunctious little girls, throwing a big 17th birthday party, and dancing for 8 hours a day while staying in a dorm three hours away from my family. And I loved every minute of it, but I’m glad to be getting back to writing, and calmer days, and a little bit more real vacation time before school starts again.

Bloggings of the Month

Before my hiatus, I did write a few posts:

the works vs. grace thing again

Image result for la la land I finally saw it!

growing up2.jpg a post that’s very close to my heart…what God’s been teaching me about growing up

Favorites of the Month

Image result for spider man homecoming Spider-Man: Homecoming was amazing!! Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man yet, in my opinion, and I’ve seen all three. If you are into Marvel and haven’t seen this yet, what are you waiting for??

674749 29949578 This month I read two of the cutest fantasy books ever…if you have any interest at all in fantasy, fairy tales, cute romance, or fun banter-y dialogue, The Ordinary Princess and Paper Crowns are definitely for you!

On Coming out of Depression & Experiencing the Faithfulness of God.png this beautiful post from Amanda is something everyone should read

 Two beautiful posts about the power of fantasy: Fantasy in My Veins from Tracey and My Life’s Tower of Fantasy from Deborah…love, love, love! (Deborah’s picture wouldn’t load on my computer…ahem, sorry.)

And finally…you’re welcome:

 

Coming in August

  • Ideas for overcoming cell phone addiction
  • Thoughts on denominational differences
  • Some favorite blogs you should be following
  • A new pet peeve of mine
  • Reviews! (Some new favorite music of mine, and others TBD.)

 

Did you have a good July? Was it as busy as mine? Did you read anything good? How much longer do you have before going back to school? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

June 2017 Month in Review

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Summer is in full swing, and if you’re like me, you suddenly have quite a bit of free time on your hands. I encourage all of you to use some of that free time to get closer to God this summer. Read your Bible more than usual, memorize some verses, spend an hour praying about something close to your heart. Make God a first priority and let Him guide your activities. He can and will make your summer peaceful, fruitful, and enjoyable.

And even if He doesn’t, at least not right now, you can know that He is on your side, and all you have to do is trust Him faithfully. Your life is in His hands. Your summer is in His hands. So go and be at peace, regardless of what storm is raging around you.

Bloggings of the Month

faith in humanity2.jpg the problem with this popular phrase

Image result for heartless reviewing this Alice in Wonderland prequel

Favorites of the Month

I saw For King and Country in concert last night…it was so uplifting and encouraging. This is one of my favorite songs by them, for anytime you’re having a bad day:

Untitled design-46 To the Graduates…yes, this is long, but I’m begging you to read the whole thing. Slowly. Whether you’re a graduate or not. It’s beautiful.

The_Sheer_Awfulness_of_Christianity The Sheer Awfulness of Christianity from Kingdom Pen. Basically if you’re a Christian who writes fiction, you must read this. And then reread it. Like every week and month and year. Pin it to your desktop, print it out and stick it on your bulletin board. THIS is how to write Christian fiction that isn’t sappy or cheesy or overly sentimental. So good!!

This video offers a life-changing perspective:

Purely for fun…bookworm lifehacks that may or may not change everything for you.

Encouraging and insightful:

And finally…this song is incredible. Listen to the words carefully.

Coming Next Month

A new blog schedule! For July and August I will be posting twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I always have more time to write over the summer so I’m excited for that!

While I’m on the twice a week schedule I’ll be writing a review or other entertainment-related post every Saturday. In July I’ll try to give you a movie review, a book review, a music spotlight, and then my post for the Silmarillion Awards Fantasy Celebration. 

I’m turning 17 this summer…and I’ve been thinking a lot about childhood and growing up. I recently had a realization about the Bible’s view of childhood, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I’ll also hopefully be posting about:

  • another way to think about good works in light of grace
  • teens who think we’re unstoppable
  • ideas for overcoming cell phone addiction (and a challenge for us)

See you on Wednesday to kick off July!

What do you think? What are you looking forward to doing this summer? How will you put God at the center of your summer? 

love, grace

Read more:

7 Childhood Books I Still Love

Podcast Review: Age of Minority

A Peek Inside My Music Library

May 2017 Month in Review

May is always one of the hardest months of the year, at least for me. It’s full of testing (AP tests, SOLs, and the SAT…) and school is winding down, but not quite over yet. Motivating myself to do anything once it feels like summer is so difficult.

But I just keep plugging along, trying to get done what I need to get done and still have some fun along the way, giving myself grace when I’m not quite living up to my own standards. Because those standards aren’t everything, and God loves us no matter how unmotivated we are at the end of the school year.

Bloggings of the Month

old testament pt3what God’s law teaches us about worship

old testament pt4 social justice for the Christian

big ben, bridge, clock tower a special Fun Friday post: the Blue Sky Tag

old testament pt5.jpgpractical tips to get into the Old Testament (the conclusion to the Lessons from the Law series)

Truths of the Month (from my journal)

*there is always always always hope. the Bible promises a day when everything will be so completely right again. (Isaiah 61)

*all the things that happen to us are demonstrations of God’s love, meant to advance the goal of making us more like Christ. (Romans 8:28-30)

*the calling of the Christian is not to do and be good at everything, but to cultivate the specific gifts God has given to us and use them for His glory. (Romans 12)

*the world begs for unity, but the only way to true unity is Christ. the unity God gives us goes far beyond anything the world has. (Romans 15:5-6)

*as Christians, we are called to maturity in spiritual things, but it is okay to be seen as innocent in the world’s eyes. (Romans 16:17-20)

*without God’s love, Christianity would literally not exist. love is the catalyst for everything we believe, and it should be the most important thing in our lives, daily and consciously choosing to love those around us. (1 Corinthians 13)

Favorites of the Month

Image result for heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer was a very anticipated read for me, and it lived up to expectations! It may have ripped my heart out and stomped on it, but oh well…

Image result for arranged Arranged is a random movie that I had sitting around that I watched on a sick day this month. It’s such a sweet story of a Jewish girl and a Muslim girl who become friends, both of whom are having marriages arranged for them. Perfectly clean, with a cute happy ending. I loved it!

Even though I’m not really thinking seriously about dating and all of that yet, I absolutely loved this talk on singleness from Sam Alberry. First of all, he’s British, which is great. He is so entertaining to listen to, and the talk is full of practical wisdom and amazing insights! Highly recommended.

After Manchester, from Ann Voskamp. No words for how beautiful this is.

I found this video so helpful. Use discernment- Becca isn’t a theologian, and I don’t necessarily agree with her on everything, but a lot of what she has to say in here is really good.

Is the old testament still relevant today? And finally, since we literally just did a series on this, please read Is the Old Testament Still Relevant Today? Some really great points that I didn’t mention!

Upcoming

In June, I have a few standalone posts planned, including a book review and some ideas for making most of this summer. And then, once I get out of school in late June, I’ll have lots more coming, to be announced!

Speaking of summer, I’m trying to decide on a posting schedule for the summer. If you could give me your input, that would be great:

Anyway, I hope you had a great May and are having a great summer/June so far! I’ll be back next week with more summery stuff!

love, grace

How was your May? Did you read or watch anything good? Tell me in the comments below!