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


From the Archives: 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Letdown

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This weekend, I’ll be very busy Nutcracker-ing. (Is that a verb? It is now.) I’ll return next week with a regularly scheduled post, but for now enjoy this holiday post I originally published in 2015. 

Christmas is almost upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you’re getting very excited about it!

But even as we hype ourselves up for the wonderful morning, we also expect the letdown when everything is over. You know the feeling: the presents are opened, there isn’t anything left to do, and you start feeling disappointed, sad, or frustrated that it’s all over.

How can we avoid this holiday letdown and spend more time focusing on the true joy that Christmas is supposed to bring? Here are four things you can do to help prevent and offset those feelings of disappointment.

1. Don’t build up unrealistic expectations.

We are all prone to building up and anticipating Christmas much more than we actually should be. We hype up the gift part of it so much and expect everything to be perfect and wonderful for the entire day.

This is dangerous; don’t allow yourself to imagine Christmas being perfect. The world is still fallen on Christmas, the presents don’t last forever, and things will not be magically perfect on the twenty-fifth of December. Don’t imagine it that way.

2. Make God the center from the start of the day. 

If you wake up before your siblings or have to wait for your parents to get ready in the morning, spend that time before you open gifts reading the Christmas story in your Bible and praying that God would give you the right heart during the day’s festivities.

This will help remind you of the purpose of the day before the gift-unwrapping starts. And even if you don’t have time to read your Bible beforehand, you can still say a quick prayer to yourself to help center your mind on God.

3. Focus on the right things while opening gifts. 

While you are opening gifts, take your time. Don’t rush through it. Focus on enjoying the delight of others when they receive the things you picked out for them. Focus on appreciating each gift that you open. Take it slowly and keep yourself in a generous and thankful mindset.

4. When the presents are gone, spend time in the Word. 

The letdown usually hits in the time between the end of gift-opening and the next order of business for the day. You are just sitting around staring at the piles of gifts that have all been opened, waiting for whatever happens next.

Avoid this by immediately spending some time reading your Bible or a devotional and praying after all of the gifts have been opened. Thank God for the blessings He has given you and refocus yourself on the greatest Gift of all: Christ Himself.

Will you try these strategies? Have you experienced letdown in the past? How else have you dealt with it? 

love, grace

Favorites: Fall 2017

fall favs edited

Fall is my favorite season. It’s so beautiful outside, I love the crisp, but not freezing, weather, and I get to wear scarves and sweaters and boots (finally). Here are a few other favorites from this fall season (September through November):

The Nashville Statement (Desiring God): Every Christian should read this manifesto of Biblical sexuality in an age when all of these points are up for discussion and debate.

Found this video challenging and thought-provoking:


Image result for a mango-shaped space A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass – this book made me cry my eyes out late at night. Be warned. Recommended for ages 10+.

And then if you need cheering up, a few favorite Blimey Cow/Jordan Taylor videos:


four tips for breaking the strong female character trope - a guest post by Christine Smith [header image]100% agree with this article – must read if you are a fiction writer!

Image result for elantris Elantris by Brandon Sanderson – for an example of how to do the aforementioned “strong female character” correctly (and just about everything else in fiction) – my Goodreads review – recommended for ages 14+

Loving This World As It Really Is (Well Said) – an absolutely beautiful discussion of how we as Christians see the world

Formulaic for a Reason: The Existential Appeal of Hallmark Movies (The Gospel Coalition) – loved this take!

And speaking of romance, this happened to one of my favorite YouTubers this fall:


Finally, I don’t really like this actual song very much, but this cover of it features a whole bunch of different genres and is so creative and amazing!


What are some of your favorite things from this fall? Do you agree with any of mine? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Quotable Quotes Volume 1 (Thanksgiving Edition)

quotable quotes 1 thanksgiving edited

I hope all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here are some of my favorite quotes about gratitude to encourage you to keep counting your blessings all year long.

“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.”

-Ann Voskamp

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

-G.K. Chesterton

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

-Charles Dickens

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”

-A.W. Tozer

“A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord.”

-Billy Graham

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

-A.A. Milne


Which of these quotes is your favorite? Do you have other favorite quotes about gratitude? How do you cultivate a thankful heart all year? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

The Night Circus: Subtle Magic and Unseen Drama

This was supposed to be last week’s post. I was gone all week and just noticed that somehow it ended up posted as a separate page for some reason. Here it is in normal post form…whoops! 

Image result for the night circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My Rating: 4.5 stars


Plot Summary

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I loved this book. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever read, in characters, plot, and writing style, and it definitely pulled me out of the slight reading slump I had been in for a little while! I couldn’t put it down.

First of all, the premise is incredibly creative and unique, and the plot spun out in an unpredictably lovely way. I have to say – this is not a fast-paced book, and I can understand that therefore it may not be some peoples’ taste. But I love character-driven, beautifully written stories that focus on thought and emotion (inner action, rather than outer action, if you will), and this book was definitely that. So I loved it, even though some people don’t.

I loved the cast of characters in this book too! Each of them were interesting and I cared about them all. Celia and Marco, of course, and Bailey and the twins (also can I just say that naming him Bailey is a stroke of genius…cough cough circuses), Chandresh, Mr. Barris, Tsukiko…everyone is different and they all felt so real and three-dimensional.

The setting, too, is almost a character in itself. The circus. It is a place that feels slightly creepy, but not in an obvious way. It is a place that is ever growing and developing, and it is a place that is simmering with unseen magic and a drama that the people flowing through the gates have no awareness of. The descriptions are phenomenal, even though the circus really seems like a setting that we can’t properly imagine, that perhaps even the author can’t properly imagine. But she still manages to help us picture some semblance of it, whatever our limited minds can.

There were so many intertwined plot threads and characters and perspectives that were put together so well…it’s the type of book that I’ll probably have to reread at least one more time, because I’m sure there are things I didn’t catch the first time.

My only real complaint is that it didn’t have a lot of thematic depth; I’m not even sure I can identify a theme. But the writing is so beautiful and the story is told so well that it really doesn’t matter all that much. The writing style is absolutely captivating as it twists and turns, making the already-unique plot even more incredible. If anything, perhaps, the theme of the book is beauty itself. And the writing captures that.

Really, I can’t even describe it in a way to do it justice. The Night Circus is truly unique, something that you can’t imagine reading until you actually read it. The way the writing, the setting, the characters, and the jumps in perspective all come together to tell a story is fantastic. It’s creepy, but in a subtle, sinister way rather than in-your-face. It is fantasy at its finest.


Content Info: one short, nonexplicit love scene between the main characters in addition to several other kisses; one use of a strong curse word (which I whited out in my book); some of the magical scenes/plot points might disturb younger readers, and there are a few violent deaths (not explicitly described).

Overall recommended for ages 16 and up.

What do you think? Have you read The Night Circus? If so, did you like it? If not, will you add it to your reading list? What’s the most unique book you’ve ever read? Share in the comments below!

love, grace

Checking In: College Apps, Writing Stuff, and Just General Updateyness

abandoned, forest, industry

Hi everyone!

I had five extra minutes so I thought I would just pop in and share a little bit about what’s going in my life and what’s next for this blog.

First of all –

I miss blogging. I miss my regular schedule, my constant flow of ideas, and my interactions with all of you. Blogging has become something that I can’t really imagine my life without, and this unplanned (and supposedly still unofficial even though I haven’t posted in a month) hiatus has just confirmed that. So I promise I will be back, because I still think about this little blog quite often!

So why am I not coming back yet?

Well, first of all, college applications are happening. November 1 is rapidly approaching and I’m trying to get all of that madness done.

Also, Nutcracker is happening. I go to rehearsals three times a week and on those days I basically don’t have time for anything else. I have eight parts. It’s a lot, but I love it.

Also, my novella for the Rooglewood Press contest is trying to happen happening. I’m struggling to make it a priority, but I’ve come far enough and I think it has enough potential that I desperately want to meet that December 31 deadline.

And of course I also have school and church and laundry and studying and all of that. But those things are always around. The three things I’ve mentioned above will all go away after December. I’ll still be dancing, but not quite as intensively, and the other two will be over and done. (And I will be one relieved human.) So my plan right now, unless the mood to post strikes me sooner, is to return to blogging in January. 

I wish I didn’t have to wait until then, but I want to be able to truly put effort into this blog. I just wanted to update you all on what’s going on, after my super-vague hiatus post in September and my one random book review (which was a free copy I agreed to review, so I figured I might as well post it here).

I hope you are all doing well! I miss you lots!

love, grace

Book Review: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

Perception (Vintage Jane Austen #4)

Rating: 3.5 stars

Age Suggestion: 10+

Plot Synopsis

Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late… (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I love the idea of retelling Jane Austen stories in more modern time periods, and I recently reread Persuasion itself and remembered how much I loved it, so I was really excited to read this.

I think the fact I had read Persuasion so recently was both a good thing and a bad thing. Part of me enjoyed having the story so fresh in my mind, but the other part of me really wished the retelling had been less straightforward and a little more creative. Because it is an exact retelling, with exactly parallel characters and every exact plot point pulled into the 1930s setting. I was expecting or would have preferred to have an inspired, but not so exactly retold, story, because in this case I always knew what was going to happen next and so throughout the middle I got a little bit bored. Plus, I do think that Jane Austen’s very episodic structure (a lot of barely connected incidents happening throughout the middle of the story and eventually building to a conclusion) doesn’t work quite as well for a modern novel. But that’s just a personal preference. And it was probably my fault for having read the original novel so recently. 

The characters were interpreted quite well, and the author didn’t use the direct retelling as an excuse to get lazy (for the most part – Veronica’s place in the story felt a little underdeveloped). I loved Sam’s added significance – she seemed like a much stronger character in this retelling than in the original novel, from what I remember, although I’ve always liked her. I’ve always liked Charlie’s counterpart in the original book, too, for some reason, and Perception highlighted those likeable characteristics. I also especially thought Robert and Bonnie were translated into the 1930s setting very well and liked reading about them.

I would have liked to see more exploration of some of the themes Austen hints at in the original story. But not all books have to be deep, and this one succeeded at being a light, comfortable story that brought me stress relief and a little bit of joy. Even if it’s not the deepest book in the world, the writing is good (unlike so many “light” novels) and I was able to finish it in a few days.

Content-wise, there is romance, of course, but it’s totally clean. One of the subplots involves a bit of violence, which isn’t graphic, glorified, or overly focused on at all. I would recommend it for ages 10 and up (although I would recommend reading Persuasion itself first, so that might move the age range up a few years).

Overall, while it wasn’t quite the creative retelling I was hoping for, I enjoyed this book a lot. If you’ve read Persuasion, but not too recently (wait a few years and forget some of the plot points), and are looking for something light and quick and clean, then pick this up!

(I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

What do you think? Have you read this? If so, did you like it? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

Mini-Hiatus (or why I’ve disappeared lately)

So I didn’t post last week. That was a conscious decision on my part, because I was overly stressed and needed to take a few things off my plate. I was totally planning to get back to regular posting today, but I find myself in the same situation again.

Basically, my life feels slightly out-of-control right now and I just need to let you know that I might not be posting regularly on here.

This isn’t an official hiatus, because I might end up posting more regularly than I think. Or I might not. I just never really know what each week is going to look like, and I need to get rid of the pressure to post weekly for a little while. So I’ll still be around when I can be. But if you don’t see me very often, it’s because I’m in the middle of an incredibly busy season.

Have a great day and a great week, and I’ll see you when things calm down!

love, grace

4 Reasons to Read the Bible

bible reading series1

We’ve all been told many times that to be good Christians, we should read our Bibles. But have you ever actually thought about why?

Well, duh, you say, rolling your eyes, it’s the Bible, Grace. Obviously we have to read it if we’re Christians.

But so often, we read it without really knowing what the point is, why it’s important, and what we’re trying to get out of it. We wander aimlessly through the pages, looking for that “spiritual growth” we’re supposed to find if we read for fifteen minutes every day. But without a clear purpose, growth is hard to come by. We need to know what the Bible is, what it is for, and how we can truly get the most out of it.

We’ll talk about the “how” part later. But for now, let’s talk about the “what for” part. Why should we read our Bibles? What is, truly, the purpose of it?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 sums it up best:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

From that verse, here are four reasons to read your Bible.

1. Scripture is God’s literal Word to us.

First of all, the most obvious reason. The God of the universe gave us a book of truth. Why wouldn’t you want to read that?

The Bible is not just a human book summarizing the history of the Christian faith and the dos and don’ts of the Christian life. Everything the Bible holds is God’s truth, breathed out for us to use. Hebrews 4:12 puts it this way:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Every time we read the Bible, God is working through the power of His Holy Spirit, opening our eyes and our hearts, teaching and training and correcting and inspiring. Fundamentally, the Bible is an amazing gift, and to neglect it is to neglect the one thing that will help your Christian walk the most.

2. Scripture shows us our sin and our need for a Savior.

So what, specifically, does the Bible show us and teach us? First: it reveals our sin in all of its ugliness. As we read God’s law, and see what He requires for a righteous life, we see all the ways in which we fail to measure up.

This does away with conceit and shows us our need for Christ. There is no way, after reading the Bible, that we can delude ourselves into thinking we are “good people”. And so we come away humbled and ready to accept the salvation that God requires, leaning on Him, knowing that on our own we could never live a truly upright life.

3. Scripture shows us who God is and what He has done.

As we read the Bible, we are humbled. We see ourselves for who we are. But we also see God for who He is.

The entire Bible is the saga of a people who rebelled and a God who loved them anyway, so much that He sent His Son to die. The more we see our sin, the more we realize the wonder of salvation, and the wonder of God’s love. Through the Bible, we come to love God more and more, as we learn more and more about His love for us.

We also learn about His character. God is so complex, and the best way to know Him better is by reading the Bible. Every time you read about God, you will learn something new about who He is.

4. Scripture shows us how to live a godly life.

And finally, once we have seen our sin and God’s love, and once we accept salvation, the Bible gives us a blueprint for our lives. Because while we will never be able to perfectly measure up to the righteousness God requires, through His work of sanctification we begin to change, growing more and more like Christ.

The Christian life is a hard walk, and the Bible is the guidebook. It is there for us to go back to again and again, seeking the way we should go in every situation. We should be familiar with it from cover to cover, learning to base our entire life upon the truth it contains.

If you’ve never read your Bible, or if this overwhelms you, don’t worry! This is the beginning of a new series I’m going to do on Bible reading. Next week we’ll start getting into the practical details, so stay tuned for that, and let me know if you have any questions I can address during the series!

What do you think? Do you read your Bible regularly? How have you seen these four benefits play out in your own life? 

love, grace

Read more:

Lessons from the Law: How to Get Into the Old Testament for Yourself

24 Resolution Ideas for Christian Teens

How I Enjoyed Reading Deuteronomy

August 2017 Month in Review

august 2017 review2

“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)


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