4 Ways to Read More During the School Year (+book recommendations!)

I know many of you who follow my blog are avid readers, with stacks and piles of books waiting to be read. I am, too. I love books and reading is one of my favorite leisure activities.

But once school starts, our time slowly slips away from us and we find ourselves reading less and less. What can we do to ensure that even during the school year, when life gets busy, we are still enjoying great books on a regular basis?

I have four tips for you:

1. Take a book with you to school every day.

This may not apply to those of you who are homeschooled, but it’s the single tip that has made the most difference for me. I carry the book that I’m currently reading in my backpack every single day – it’s a daily essential just as much as my planner is.

Because there’s so much downtime in public school classes, and because I’m a pretty fast test-taker, I get a lot of reading done in little bits and pieces throughout the day. Between classes, after a quiz or test, on the bus, during study hall if you don’t have anything else to do…all of that is valuable time perfect for pulling out a book.

2. Set aside particular times in your weekly routine to read.

During the school year, spontaneously picking up a book in your “free time” usually isn’t going to happen (mostly because that free time doesn’t really exist). But if you structure longer chunks of reading time into your week, you’ll make steady progress. For me, this is usually weekends, especially Sundays. But whether it’s every evening before bed or for three hours on Saturday afternoon, plan some regular time into your schedule when you can consistently get some reading in.

3. Listen to audiobooks.

To be honest, I really prefer print books. There’s something about holding a book in your hand that just can’t be replaced. But if you’re an auditory learner, or you’re literally always on the go and can’t find time to read anywhere in your schedule, audiobooks might be a good option. You can listen to them while you’re driving, working out, doing chores, walking your dog, and more; it’s a great way to get through the books you want to read while still getting other things done as well.

Using audiobooks for school reading while multitasking can be a great way to save time too. (Even consider putting them on double-speed to save even more time!) You can then use the time that you would have spent reading school books to do other things (like reading for fun, maybe…?).

4. Choose books that you can’t put down.

Finally, make sure you are reading books that pull you in, books that you will voluntarily choose over social media and all those other time-wasting activities. If forcing yourself to read Charles Dickens is going to mean you never actually read at all, then don’t try to read Charles Dickens during the school year! Maybe do that over the summer instead.

If you like classics, by all means read classics. But if you just need to read light, fun books to take a break from schoolwork, that’s totally fine too.

Here are a few of my favorite lighter reads to get you started (if you want more details about any of these feel free to leave a comment!).

Image result for paper crowns mirriam nealPaper Crowns by Mirriam Neal (fantasy, fairy tale; be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of this if you haven’t!)

Image result for the lunar chroniclesImage result for heartlessThe Lunar Chronicles and Heartless by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi/dystopian, fantasy, fairy tale retellings; some intense scenes/violence and mostly clean romance)

Image result for the penderwicksThe Penderwicks and sequels by Jeanne Birdsall (contemporary, family)

Image result for vinegar girl Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (contemporary, clean romance; maybe some language, I don’t remember)

Image result for interrupted rachel coker Interrupted by Rachel Coker (historical, clean romance, Christian)

Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar children series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and sequels by Ransom Riggs (fantasy/weird sort of historical; some language and intensity)

Image result for dragon king trilogy stephen lawhead The Dragon King trilogy by Stephen Lawhead (epic fantasy, adventure; some scary scenes/violence)

Image result for mitford series The Mitford series by Jan Karon (contemporary, family, Christian)

 

What do you think? How do you make time to read during the year? Have you read any of the books I recommended, and what others would you recommend? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

 

 

 

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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 

things to do with siblings.jpg31 Things to Do With Your Siblings

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

Book Review: Paper Crowns

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Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal

My Rating: Four Stars

Age Suggestion: 10+

The Book

Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

My Thoughts

This was a cute, innocent romp into the world of fantasy, and I loved it! It was such fun to read, and left me feeling happy and satisfied. So many books these days tend to drain my emotions or end unsatisfactorily, and this was a nice break from that.

The plot itself is relatively simple, and I mean that as a compliment. It was refreshing to enjoy a story that wasn’t convoluted or incredibly complex (as much as I love that kind of book too), where the plot was a straightforward good vs. evil with a bit of magic thrown in. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simplicity, nothing wrong with books that don’t attempt to tackle the problems of the world, and rather just give us a good story.

That’s not to say that there weren’t unique elements. I don’t know that I’ve ever before read a fantasy novel where the core group of questers (is that a word…I don’t know…) included a small petulant child and a really cute dog. So that made for some really interesting dynamics in the group as things went along.

The best part of this book was definitely, without a doubt, the dialogue! It’s funny and touching and kept me interested the whole time. And Mirriam is not afraid to layer the sass and bantering on thick! Often I read books that have a little bit of banter and then it’s not enough and I’m left wanting more, maybe because the author was afraid of overdoing it. Paper Crowns has just enough. It’s not forced and it all flows well with the story and the characters. It makes it more realistic too – because even on a dangerous quest, a regular group of people isn’t going to be solemn and single-minded the whole time. There will be little annoyances and quibbles and teasing and laughter. And she captured that so well.

Hal is the best. *tapes my mouth shut* *talks about Hal for twenty minutes, but luckily you can’t understand any of it because there’s tape on my mouth and SPOILERS*

Ginger herself was such a refreshing main character! She was sarcastic and independent without being the kind of stereotypical “tough girl” that gets on my nerves. There was a feminine side to her, a vulnerable side, the side that likes to buy pretty craft paper and fold it into birds and flowers. It was a beautiful balance that I really appreciated.

And the cast of supporting characters was unique and well-rounded, each one adding something to the story. The only one that I didn’t really feel was unique enough was Azrael, even though I loved him, because he and Hal were a little too similar for me. But overall, every character was great, entertaining, with a good role in the story.

*Content Warnings*

No language. Romance has some kissing but is all completely sweet and clean. There is a villain, with some violence including a few deaths and a climactic final battle; a few of the unsavory characters are a bit on the creepy side as well. But nothing is overly graphic at all, and it still retains a very innocent feel. This is a book I will definitely be giving to my younger sisters to read.

Basically, this is the kind of clean, sweet, innocently entertaining book that is so hard to find nowadays; it has high stakes that keep it interesting, but all with a light fairy-taleish feel. Mirriam’s writing is fantastic and I have a feeling this is a book I will often reread! I highly recommend it to anyone who looks fantasy, fairy tales, or just clean, good books. It’s great if you have younger siblings who need book recommendations too!

What do you think? Have you read Paper Crowns? If so, did you like it? If not, will you read it now? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Heartless: Wonderland As You’ve Never Seen It Before

La La Land: Old-School Movie Magic

7 Childhood Books I Still Love

Stop Waiting for Friday

Hi everyone! Today I’m so excited to bring you a guest post from the wonderful Miriam at Crafted by Christ.  Be sure to subscribe to her blog! She has wonderful insights on Christianity, life, and being a teenager, and I’m honored to exchange posts with her. 

It was the most boring month of my life.

In May of 2016, at the end of my sophomore year of high school, I had nothing to do but anticipate the future. The end of that month began the whirlwind of working and taking college classes that I am still caught up in today. But this was the beginning of the month, and all I could do was imagine what my life would be like after I started my first job while simultaneously taking classes for dual credit at the local university. So, day after day I went through the motions of my uneventful school days, impatiently waiting for my life to begin.

But one day, it dawned on me—here I was, sitting around waiting for life to “start,” when God purposely gave me this time to prepare me for what was next. I asked Him what He wanted me to do with these few short weeks of waiting. He led me to this poem, which I promptly copied into my journal, adding my own personal applications:

“Stop waiting for Friday,

for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life.

Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you’re in now.”

[God’s will is for you to thrive in waiting. He has given you this time of waiting for a purpose. Take advantage of it]

~Anonymous

What did God want me to do with this time? He wanted me to learn how to thrive.

No matter how much we deny it, the school year is coming upon us very quickly. In the summer, we tend to have a little bit more time to spare, even for those of us with jobs. Making time for Christ is hard during the school year when our schedules are full to the max. So why not use the time we have now to build healthy habits that help us thrive during the coming weeks?

But what are the characteristics of a thriving Christian? Here are just a few that I have learned since those weeks of waiting back in 2016.

⦁ Someone who prioritizes God’s Word.

The only way for any healthy tree to grow and thrive is to have a solid root system. The same goes for Christians. Nothing is more important for a believer than spending daily, quiet time with God. Reading the Bible and praying are the food and water that every Christian must have to stay strong and healthy. Without these things, you and I will never grow. Use these last few weeks of summer to develop a time and place every day to read the Bible and pray. You will never, ever regret it.

⦁ Someone who puts others first.

We are each so overwhelmingly selfish. This is something that I have been struggling against a lot this summer. To combat this sin, I challenge myself to purposely do one completely selfless thing every day. By doing this, I hope to make selflessness a habit. I am failing miserably at this, so I intend to use my last few weeks of summer to develop an attitude of selflessness.

⦁ Someone who lives in the now.

Some days when I am at work, I am doing all that I can to survive my shift so that I can go home, sleep, and do it all over again the next day. But should our lives really be like this? Just going through the motions is not thriving. To be a thriving Christian, I must intentionally live in the here and now. Sometimes that will mean forcing myself to smile. At work, I do this by praying for my customers and co-workers and humming worship music while I perform monotonous tasks. Each moment is a gift from God, so I want to use it for His glory.

The days of summer are dwindling quickly. Are we just going to let them aimlessly slip through our fingers, or are we going to seize these days, using them to develop habits that we can carry with us throughout the school year and the rest of our lives?

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the type of Christian that thrives. I am going to use these last few weeks of summer to their fullest to glorify my Creator. Will you join me?

Click here to read my post over on Miriam’s blog, about making God a priority during the school year. 

Share in the comments below: What are you doing to live this last little phase of summer to the fullest? How are you learning how to thrive in your own life? 

Music Spotlight: The Gray Havens

Image result for the gray havens  Image result for the gray havensImage result for the gray havens

 

 

 

Modern Christian music is a bit…disappointing…these days.

Okay, okay, I admit it. I listen to typical contemporary Christian music pretty often. There are good songs, and I think that anything that truly encourages me or prompts me to worship is worth listening to.

But there’s a lack of quality, both spiritually/theologically and musically, and once in a while I find some Christian music that makes me realize what I’ve been missing. The Gray Havens’ albums are like that.

About Them

The Gray Havens centers around husband/wife Dave and Licia Radford. Since their beginning in 2013, their projects have been hailed as “an imaginative treatment of faith…[having] a visionary quality that’s both playful and enraptured.” They have a knack for creating a listening experience similar to paging through your favorite book, with richly textured compositions and multi-layered lyrics. Releasing their debut EP on Noisetrade in 2013, and their first full-length album, Fire and Stone, in 2015, the duo has gained a steady following of listeners nationwide. (from their website, www.thegrayhavensmusic.com/)

Why I Love Them

The first time I listened to a Gray Havens song (“This My Soul” was the first one I heard), I knew immediately that this was some special music. The message that song expresses is just the simple redemption story that most other Christian music also shares: man sinned, and Christ came to die for us so that we could have eternal life. But it doesn’t just say it; this song captures the incredible beauty and wonder of that message in a way that I’ve never heard in any other song, a way that gives me chills every time I hear it. I loved it from first listen.

And as I listened to more of their music, my opinion was reinforced. “This My Soul” is still one of my absolute favorites, but every single song expresses truth in a beautiful, wonderful way.

The best thing about them, I think, is that the lyrics are deep, poetic, and thought-provoking. It isn’t just about the catchy chorus; these songs have truly great writing to go along with the high-quality music. You won’t catch every lyric the first time you listen to a song, or the second time, or the third time. I even recommend looking up the lyrics and reading them while you listen to the song. I’ve done that a couple of times, and I always get so much out of it. The lyrics of these songs express Biblical truth in a way that actually does justice to the wonder and mystery and depth and transcendence of it. They make you want to worship in a far deeper way than most of the worship music being marketed today.

Plus, just the musical quality is amazing as well. The instrumentation is interesting and there are different structures and styles; it’s not just the same formula over and over again. You can tell that they have poured heart and soul and tons of work into every single song.

One of my other favorite songs is “Jack and Jill pt. 2”. The first time I listened to it, the feeling I had at the end was that feeling you get when you finish a really incredible book. Music has never made me feel that way before. I can’t even describe how amazingly creative and lyrically brilliant it is.

Basically, this husband and wife get it. Their music does justice to Christianity in a way that no other contemporary music does that I’ve heard. They get that you can’t reduce the gospel to a few cliche choruses. They get that God’s power and glory are supposed to give us chills and make us fall to our knees. They get the wonder and the mystery and the incredible awesomeness of the God that we worship.

Because, in the end, that’s what Christian music is about: prompting us to give glory to God, leading us to repentance and worship and thanksgiving and love. And The Gray Havens’ music does that in an incredible way. I can’t recommend it enough. All I ask is that the first time you listen to it, you listen to it carefully and really let it soak into your soul.

Favorite Songs (all of them are so good, but here’s a sample)

Have you listened to the Gray Havens before? If not, will you give them a try now? (I hope so!) Have you found any other amazing Christian music recently? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

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

A Peek Inside My Music Library

A Day of Rest, Joy, and Worship

Fun Friday: Liebster Award!

liebster award.png

Here I am with another installment of Fun Friday for you!

The lovely Miriam over at Crafted By Christ nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thank you, Miriam! Definitely check out her blog. She’s a gifted writer and writes about many of the same topics that I do!

The rules:

  • Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer eleven questions that the blogger gives you.
  • List eleven random fact about yourself.
  • Nominate up to 11 other Bloggers that you think are deserving of this award (with less than 200 followers).
  • Let the bloggers know you nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

Miriam’s Questions

How long have you been blogging? I have been blogging for almost three years now. I started my Blogspot blog in the fall of my freshman year, and now I’m about to be a senior. I can’t even believe how much my platform has grown since then…I’m not even sure I really knew what I was getting into, and I can’t wait to see what else God does with my writing!

How has God been working in your life this summer? This is a small thing, but I went to a dance intensive last week and stayed in a dorm three hours from my parents. Before I went, I prayed that God would give me a good roommate, and He did! I really lucked out. There were some not-quite-as-nice people there who I could have ended up rooming with (it was randomly chosen) and I’m so thankful that God gave me such a sweet girl to stay with.

What is your deepest passion? I hope and pray that it will always be the glory of God, knowing that only the Holy Spirit can make that true.

Describe your dream vacation. Spending a week in New York City: seeing a show (Broadway or dance) every night, trying to dress like a New Yorker, exploring all the neighborhoods and the tourist attractions, revisiting favorite places, and going to all of the places that I saw but didn’t get a chance to go to last time.

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? 1. Freedom from the various bonds that I struggle with every day. 2. Complete and full joy. 3. A revival across the world of people who know and love God.

What is your greatest goal? To use some talent that God has given me for His glory and to advance His kingdom in the world.

Other than writing, what are your hobbies? Dance, although I’m not sure that counts as a hobby because it’s more serious than that, like a potential career path. Piano. Choir. Latin (yes, this counts. It’s a club!). Reading, followed by obsessive fangirling.

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior? I was blessed to be born into a Christian home, so I’ve known about Jesus for my whole life and was saved at a very young age.

What is your favorite book? Why? Why, Miriam? Why would you ask this question????????? Seriously???????? I refuse.

I refuse.

I will not answer.

Moving on.

If you could only write or only read, which would you pick? I’m going to have to say reading, despite how horrible it sounds not to be able to write. Because I could definitely read without writing (if I absolutely HAD to…) but I don’t think I could write without reading. But the best part is, I don’t have to choose and I can continue to do both!

What is the most random fact you can think of right now? Did you know that in that one scene in The Two Towers, where the find the pile of burning bodies and Aragorn kicks the head and screams, Viggo Mortenson actually broke his toe kicking it? He acted through it. That’s why it sounds like he’s in so much pain when he screams, because he was! 😉 (random enough…?)

Eleven Random Facts

  1. I think both dogs and cats are super cute, but I’m actually really scared of cats. Making me a dog person.
  2. I made my Common App account today. (gasp!) (And for those of you who don’t know what that is…you will learn, small child. You will learn. It’s called college applications. It haunts you in your sleep. Mwahahaha.)
  3. I hate drinking straight coffee (give me tea any day), but I love unsweetened lattes!
  4. In theory I like the idea of painting my nails. In practice, my nails are never painted. Except maybe like twice a year.
  5. I have never seen Star Trek…I guess I should really get to it…
  6. Also I have never seen The Lion King. (Cue shrieks of horror in the comments section. *ducks behind couch* Don’t hurt me!)
  7. I used to draw a lot as a child. Now I never draw…my talents in the area of arts and crafts are really limited.
  8. I have lived in basically the same place my whole life. (Several houses, but in the same area, and the same house for the last twelve-ish years.)
  9. I have seen two shows on Broadway: Wicked and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. They were both amazing!
  10. I love pasta. Especially mac ‘n’ cheese. And apparently National Mac ‘n’ Cheese Day is on my birthday, so that’s cool!
  11. I have a strange obsession with things that are British.

The Nominees

I’m going to be lazy now. If you are a blogger who is subscribed to True and Pure and has less than 200 followers, I nominate you! If you do it, be sure to leave me the link to your post in the comments so I can check it out!

Here are your questions:

  1. What is your favorite genre of music and why?
  2. What is a book you are really excited to read soon?
  3. What is a popular movie that you really should have watched by now, but haven’t?
  4. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
  5. Which dessert do you find irresistible?
  6. What are your writing goals for the next five years?
  7. What is your favorite part of your house?
  8. How many books do you think you own (personally, not your family)? (Just an estimate for fun!)
  9. And to follow up, is there such a thing as owning too many books?
  10. What is your favorite thing about your church?
  11. What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

 

Now it’s your turn! Share your answers to any of the questions in this post in the comments below; I’d love to hear them! 

love, grace

Read more:

Sunshine Blogger Award

Fun Friday: Blue Sky Tag

The Wisteria Writer Tag

July 2017 Month in Review

july 2017 month in review2

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

Brief Hiatus

Just stopping by to let you know that I will be taking a two-week blogging hiatus (beginning, ahem, yesterday). July is really crazy busy for me, and I thought I could keep up with blogging, but I need to take it off my plate for the next little while. I usually take a break for part of the summer anyway.

So, I’m going to take a break, and I’ll come back in August! See you then!

love, grace

Why Growing Up is a Good Thing

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I turn seventeen on Friday.

In theory, sixteen and eighteen are both milestone birthdays, and seventeen is just kind of…hanging out in between somewhere. But to be honest, turning seventeen feels like much more of a big deal than turning sixteen did. It seems so much more grown up. It’s your last year of childhood.

In the world’s eyes, growing up is almost a tragedy. Childhood is seen as the best time of life, the simplest time, that will never return again. Now you have to enter the scary world of “adulting” and deal with the fact that the best years of your life are hypothetically over.

But is this the right way to think?

As I was thinking about this more and more, I realized something. Nowhere in the Bible is childhood idolized the way it is in our culture. There is not an ounce of nostalgia or sentimentalism towards childhood in God’s Word.

In fact, the opposite is true. Maturity and adulthood are lauded as good things, great things, things to strive for and look forward to.

Take a look at these passages:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…

-Ephesians 4:11-15

When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

-1 Corinthians 13:11

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

-1 Corinthians 14:23

Clearly, Paul does not consider childhood the best time of life. In fact, to him, “childhood” is synonymous for “immaturity”, which is something that all Christians should strive to overcome.

And this was really encouraging to me – childhood is not supposed to be the only good time of our lives. It’s not supposed to be a bad thing to grow up. It is, in fact, supposed to be a very good thing.

This does not mean that we cannot look back on our childhood with nostalgia. It is a wonderful time, certainly! And if you had a wonderful childhood that makes you not want to grow up, be thankful for that gift that God gave you. But you don’t have to feel like the best time of life is over once childhood ends.

Childhood is a training grounds for life. It’s a time for us to learn from the godly adults in our lives as well as learning from the various experiences we have. It’s our chance to make mistakes without the pressure.

But childhood is not the end goal. Here is the end goal:

Epaphras, who is of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 

-Colossians 4:12

In all of these verses, we see that the Bible views growing up as a good thing, not a bad thing; something to look forward to, not something to dread; something to pray for, not something to struggle against.

Once we begin to reach these last years of childhood, we will have mixed feelings, certainly. Looking back, we ought to be grateful to God for the many blessings he gave us while we were still children. But we don’t need to get bogged down in what-ifs and should-haves. You don’t need to feel guilty if you think you didn’t live your childhood to the fullest, use your teen years well, or appreciate what you had while you had it. What God gave you, and what you experienced, was what you were supposed to experience, and it was enough. It was enough to prepare you for the adult that you are going to be, exactly what you needed as training for the rest of your life.

And as you turn your gaze forward into the future, be excited! Trust in God’s wonderful plans for your life, and realize that there will be just as many wonderful gifts in this life stage as in the past one. Look forward to the depths of faith and maturity that will grow and take root as you get older, the deeper and more meaningful relationships, the chance to do even bigger things for God in the world. The end of childhood is not the end of “the good years”. If you are with God, your whole life is good, and it is under His control.

He is with you in the present and the future, just as He was in the past; now take hold of His hand and move forward in faith and confidence.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…

-Hebrews 6:1

love, grace

La La Land: Old-School Movie Magic

Image result for la la land

La La Land (2016)

My Rating: Three and a half stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

The Movie

Two proper L.A. dreamers, a suavely charming soft-spoken jazz pianist and a brilliant vivacious playwright, while waiting for their big break, attempt to reconcile aspirations and relationship in a magical old-school romance. (from IMDB)

Starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

Rated PG-13

My Thoughts

This movie, while not flawless, was sweet and entertaining and right up my alley. The plot, though simple, is a time-honored story of artists seeking to “make it” in the big bad world of performing, and succeeds at bringing a kind of old-Hollywood glam into the modern world. I wasn’t always sold on the more out-there musical sequences (it works in Singin’ in the Rain, but you can only ask a modern audience to take suspension of disbelief so far), but somehow they still pulled off an updated but thoroughly classic musical movie.

I have to say, I’m not a fan of Ryan Gosling’s singing voice. I think he did great in the role overall, but his voice wasn’t good enough to really carry an entire musical. I didn’t really like Emma Stone’s, either, until she sang “Fools Who Dream”. Then it seemed like she just came out of her shell completely and I couldn’t have asked for a better singer. If only she could have sung like that the whole time…

(the one time I didn’t mind their voices was when they were singing “City of Stars” together in their apartment. It’s realistic that a couple just hanging out and singing together aren’t necessarily going to sound Broadway-ready, and it actually made the scene sweeter.)

But the music overall is great! The songs are well-written and beautiful and I love the instrumental soundtrack.

My one big problem with the movie is somewhat of a spoiler. So if you haven’t seen it and you don’t want me to spoil the end, skip past this next part.

SPOILERS BEGIN

Here’s what I hate:

Two people fall in love. For various reasons they have to part ways. Years later, one or both of them is married. The girl’s husband is played up as kind of a fool, or at best just mediocre. Then the lovers run into each other again. They can never be together now, but it’s obvious that they still care about each other. The girl doesn’t seem to really care about her husband at all.

Regardless of how good a book or movie is, if it has this plotline in it, I don’t like it. Because if you marry someone it hopefully means you love them enough to forget about other people you may have loved in the past. Plus, whether you love your husband or not, it’s just not okay for you to fantasize about a previous lover once you’re married. And why do they always have to make the husband seem so mediocre next to the other guy? It’s possible that she married another really great guy!

Ahem. Rant over. I loved the rest of the movie, I just really don’t appreciate that it ended this way.

SPOILERS END

 

*Content Warnings*

Like I said above, this movie is pretty clean as far as romance goes. The two main characters do end up living together outside of marriage, but what we see never goes beyond kissing.

The biggest reason I recommend this for ages 14 and up is because there is quite a bit of language, mostly mild, but with a few very bad words. So it really depends what you’re comfortable with, personally. I don’t mind a little bit of language, as long as it’s not constant, but if you’re really bothered by it you might not want to watch this movie.

 

Quibbles aside, I really did enjoy this movie. It’s rare to have such a clean, old-fashioned romance movie these days, and so I would definitely recommend it if you like romance but can’t conscientiously watch a lot of today’s rom-coms and chick flicks. It isn’t really a comedy, but it made me laugh out loud several times, while still having serious and beautiful moments as well. And for someone who loves musicals, it was just the perfect, sweet movie for a comfy summer night.

What do you think? Have you seen La La Land? If so, did you like it? If not, will you watch it now? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

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