4 Ways to Stay Content in Singleness (The Relationship Series, part 5)

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Read the other posts here: God’s Purpose for RomanceGod’s Purpose for SinglenessAvoiding Drama and TemptationDeveloping Your Convictions

 

For the final post of this series, I want to address singleness one more time. Because it’s one thing to decide you aren’t going to date in high school, and it’s something else altogether to actually rest in that decision with contentment in the everyday.

So how do we make the most of our singleness, not spending this whole season just waiting for the next, but truly living in it?

Develop a full, dedicated relationship with God.

Our primary focus while we are single is learning and growing in our relationship with God, pouring all that love out to him that will someday be given to another person. He is our first love, our focus, and where we get all of our joy and contentment. When you’re single, you’re not “alone”. You’re with God.

So spend lots of time getting to know Him and getting close to Him. Read your Bible consistently. Spend daily time in prayer and praise. Center your entire life around this most important relationship you will ever have.

Take advantage of your freedom.

When you are single, you have much more freedom, time and energy available. God put you in a season of singleness so that you could avoid distractions and focus completely on His work (1 Corinthians 7).

Take advantage of the time, resources, and emotional energy that you aren’t investing a relationship and invest them into the work of God’s kingdom. Pursue your calling with diligence and faith. Seek opportunities to further God’s glory in the world, maybe through traveling or mission work.

For more on this, I HIGHLY recommend this incredible talk from Breakaway Ministries. (The whole series is great if you’re looking for more Christian opinions on dating and marriage.)

Be ready if someone expresses interest.

So…you’re committed to singleness. You’re living a life dedicated to God. And then someone starts acting interested in you, or even directly asks you out. How do you handle this situation?

First of all, never lead anyone on. If someone starts flirting with you or acting interested, do not lead them on if you have no intention of actually dating them. It’s fun in the moment, but will only lead to hurt feelings. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Know what to say ahead of time. If someone asks you to date directly, you will probably be too flustered to be able to graciously refuse in the moment. Depending on your emotions to carry you through could lead to disaster, so plan a response ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be completely scripted, but you should have a general plan. Refuse graciously, but firmly, and don’t be afraid to explain your convictions if necessary.

And when you refuse someone, don’t leave loopholes that could lead to a just-friends-but-not-actually unofficial dating situation. That is not a good situation to be in.

Be ready when jealousy sets in.

Even if you are single and living a full, wonderful life devoted to God, there will be moments. You will see a couple in the hallway at school. You will read a story with a really sweet romance. One of your friends will start dating, get engaged, get married…and you will start thinking about how much you desperately want that to be you.

When this happens, first of all, remember that romance is never as smooth as it looks from the outside. Books and movies make it look perfect and wonderful, and it is that idealized image that is likely making you jealous.

Then remember your reasons for singleness. Instead of letting the seeds of jealousy grow in your mind, turn Satan’s intentions against him and use the moment to renew and refresh your commitment to singleness and to God.

Finally, remember that God is in control. His plan for your love story is infinitely better than anything you could come up with on your own. Trust in that.

 

What do you think? Have you enjoyed this series? Are there other relationship-related topics that you would like to see me address in the future? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

 

Developing Your Convictions on Dating (The Relationship Series, part 4)

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If you missed the first three parts to this series, find them here: God’s Purpose for RomanceGod’s Purpose for Singleness, and Avoiding Drama and Temptation.

I’ve spent several weeks sharing the reasons for my choice not to date in high school. To recap:

  • The purpose of dating is to see if someone is potential husband or wife material. Dating for fun has no value.
  • High school is a season of life where it’s important to be developing a close relationship with God as we figure out where we’re going in adulthood. Anything that distracts from that with no purpose is not a good idea.
  • Dating adds a lot of potential for drama into life, as well as temptations to compromise purity. Those things are better avoided as long as possible.

But now, I want to clarify something: Not everyone is going to have the same convictions on this. 

There is no verse in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not date in high school.” So this is an area in which everyone has to weigh the pros and cons and come to their own decision.

For me, the cons greatly outweighed the pros, and I felt that God was calling me to avoid dating in this season of life. But that may not be the same for everyone. For one person, they may decide to date as soon as their parents will let them. Someone else may feel called to remain single until their twenties. And there will be many in between those two extremes.

So how do you determine what your convictions are? Spend time in the Word, as well as reading articles and/or books by Christian people you trust (I would recommend I Kissed Dating Goodbye)Once you have a good idea of the arguments on both sides, and where those arguments are coming from in the Bible, spend time in prayer that God would show you what He wants you to do.

I would encourage you to seriously challenge any arguments, whether for or against something, that have to do with personal benefits, having fun, or looking good to other people. Don’t be afraid to confront any wrong motivations you discover and make the hard choice to let those reasons go.

It’s important to note, as well, that convictions may change or be adapted as time goes by and you mature in your faith. Be open to God’s prompting and willing to learn and grow when the time comes.

What If I’ve Already Messed Up?

Maybe you’re reading this as someone who has already been in their share of bad relationships, who started dating young, who has compromised their purity, or done other things relationship-wise that you regret. There are two things I want you to know:

1. God does not condemn you. There is grace to cover all things. 

The whole message of Christianity centers around grace, forgiveness of sins. No one is perfect, or even close to it, and that is why Jesus came! God will forgive you no matter what, absolutely, with no conditions, over and over. Trust in that.

2. It’s never too late to start living to honor God. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your past looks like; if you feel convicted now, start now! Ask that the Holy Spirit would give you grace to change your habits and seek to honor God in your romantic life. There is no reason to dwell on the past, and by God’s grace it is not too late to change.

Relationships and romance are tricky to navigate, but as Christians we have somewhere to run when we have no idea what to do, when we need comfort, when we need counsel. We have to be in tune with God and His Word every step of the way in order to navigate dating wisely and in a way that glorifies Him.

Next week, I’ll wrap up the series with one more post addressing singleness. Stay tuned!

What do you think? What are your convictions on this subject, and why? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

 

January 2017 Month in Review

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We’re already at the end of the first month of the new year. How are you doing with your goals? Are you living bolder, better, brighter for God in the new year? Accomplishing everything you could have dreamed?

Or are you, like me, realizing that God’s plans for you mostly involve seemingly small, mundane, ordinary things?

I’m learning that progress doesn’t happen overnight and that sometimes the hardest part of the Christian life is trusting that God is working in you even when it doesn’t feel like it. Trusting that He is in control of every small task that comes into your life and every small worry that crosses your mind.

Big goals are great, but don’t be discouraged if you aren’t accomplishing the lofty things you had hoped. Simply move forward into the next month, one step at a time, seeking to live for God in all things, small and big, and look for the little victories that are evidence of a greater work in your life.

This Month’s Devotions

I’m following the yearly reading plan laid out in the back of my Bible. I started late, but just doubled up a couple of days to catch up and now I’m on track. I just finished reading through the Bible, but I’ve never actually read the whole thing in a year, as the first time it took me a little longer. We’ll see what happens.

Some truths from this month:

*God will always provide what we need, and even more than we need (from Exodus 4-6)

*God is terrifying in anger, but that anger will never be used against us- only for us (from Exodus 15)

*God knows what He’s doing when He prompts us to do certain things in our lives…why would we question Him? He is the all-powerful God of the universe and knows so much better than us

*Equal treatment for all people is a very important part of God’s law system (Exodus 23:1-9), yet equality for ourselves should not be our focus; instead we should focus on serving others (Matthew 20:25-28)

Bloggings

This month I started a series on dating in the teen years (more specifically, why I’ve chosen not to). There were three installments:

why I'm not dating in high school 1.jpgGod’s Purpose for Romance

why I'm not dating in high school 2.jpgGod’s Purpose for Singleness

why I'm not dating in high school 3-corrected.jpgAvoiding Drama and Temptation

from other blogs…

From Mirriam Neal: become (super inspiring) and a super helpful hack for fixing flat characters

Observer > Critic (this sounds like a very hard but also very worthwhile mindset shift)

Even though getting old isn’t even on my radar yet, I loved this post: Your “Age” is Defined by Your Attitude, Not a Number

7 Tips for Victorian Happiness (this post is why I followed this blog)

If you were wondering about my political thoughts, other Grace says it perfectly

How to Find Time to Read More. Not sure if this was helpful or not…but definitely entertaining!

Readings

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  • Till We Have Faces: 4 stars. Obviously very good, since it’s C.S. Lewis, but I felt like I didn’t quite get the point of it or something. Probably need to read it again.
  • The Rose and the Balloon: 3 stars. Imperfect, since it’s a self-published book by a young author, but a cute story and a light, quick read.
  • Interrupted: 4.5 stars. I loved this book so much! Probably my favorite of the month. It was such a sweet romance with a deeper message, completely clean, and a Christian perspective.
  • Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys: 4-5 stars. Rereads all, and all just as good as the first time 😉

A few articles I enjoyed:

A final note: if you haven’t discovered The Babylon Bee yet, you’re missing out. It’s Christian News Satire from Christians and as long as you don’t take any of it too seriously, it’s really funny.

Watchings

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  • Sherlock, season 4: 5 stars. Oh my goodness. This season tossed my heart around and made me laugh and cry and scream and if you haven’t yet watched this show I think it is literally the best TV show I’ve ever seen and you need to watch it.
  • Becoming Jane: 4 stars. This was a really good movie! (Although sad…so don’t expect a happy chick-flick ending.) Would probably recommend to ages 14 and up because of a bit of content.
  • Les Miserables: 5 stars. So, so, so good!! I can’t believe it took me this long to watch it. Again, some content, but the scenes are easily fast-forwardable. The music is incredible and the cast is amazing and there is lots of food for thought as well.

Listenings

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  • Up in Flames: I recently discovered Ruelle, an alternative singer with some really great songs. You might especially like her if you’re a fan of Twenty One Pilots or similar bands.
  • Hamilton: Introduced my sister to Hamilton this month! (She loves it.) If you haven’t listened to it yet, please do! It’s amazing.
  • The Music of Jane Austen: Loving this as something to listen to while I do homework or write.
  • Covers Vol. 1: This has been my go-to album lately when I don’t know what to listen to. Evynne Hollens is amazing and every song on here is so good.
  • Age of Minority: This is a podcast started by Jaquelle Crowe, editor of The Rebelution, and her dad. They talk about different topics related to being a Christian teen in today’s world, as well as lots of fun topics as well. So fun to listen to and highly, highly recommended! Find it here.

Upcoming in February

  • A continuation of my series on dating, discussing how to develop your convictions, what to do if someone asks you out, being content to be single, and more.
  • A review of Sherlock seasons 1-4. (And yes, I know I keep promising this and it doesn’t happen…I will get it done at some point!)

 

How was your January? Did you read, watch, or listen to anything amazing? What are you excited for in February? Tell me in the comments!

love, grace

 

 

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 3: Avoiding Drama and Temptation

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If you missed it: part 1 (God’s purpose for romance) and part 2 (God’s purpose for singleness)

When you think of teenage relationships, what comes to mind?

For me, it’s two-week long couples, messy breakups, ongoing drama, physical commitment without long-term stability…

Maybe you’ve had better experiences with young relationships; I’m sure there are some out there that survive or even thrive. But in my mind that’s the exception and not the rule.

I covered the biggest reasons I don’t date in those two previous posts; those are the overarching beliefs that guided my choice the most. But now that we’ve talked about the big things, there is one more reason I want to mention: the potential for drama and temptation in young romantic relationships.

Avoiding Drama and Heartbreak

Love will always come with intense and possibly very difficult emotion, and trying to struggle through that sort of thing in high school can wreak havoc on you. In this season of our lives, we are trying to make important decisions and balance a million demands on our time. Emotions are real, and they can be incapacitating.

Yes, I know that even if you wait until adulthood for a relationship, there is still no guarantee that everything will be sunshine and roses. In fact, it almost certainly won’t be. But having to work through emotional drama in the midst of teenage stress and hormones will do nothing to help you. 

It goes back to being stable in God before you pursue another person; you should be stable emotionally (really regardless of age) to get into a relationship. And the teen years are probably the worst place to look for emotional stability.

Plus personally, I would rather not introduce the potential for heartbreak earlier than necessary. Call me selfish, but I think the lack of drama in my life is a rather nice side effect of my decision not to date.

The point is: relationships are hard. Relationships aren’t always happy. And us teens aren’t in a good place to be able to deal well with that. We shouldn’t feel compelled to invest a lot of emotion into a relationship that may not last. 

Avoiding Temptation to Compromise

We are, without a doubt, called to purity as Christians, and will be much better off avoiding anything that could tempt us away from it. Dating is definitely one of those things.

Again, yes, dating at any stage of life will bring temptation with it. But again, as teens we are likely not yet fully stable in our emotions or our relationship with God, and out convictions may not be as developed, making us especially vulnerable.

And here’s the thing: if you are dating for no other reason than fun, you will be tempted to go too far. If your relationship has no long-term purpose, then you may feel that it has no point beyond the physical aspects and be even more likely to compromise.

This is the biggest argument I have against teenage dating, even when intentional. Unless you plan to get married within a few years, a relationship that stretches on and on will only become harder and harder to maintain in purity. For serious relationships that start in high school, marriage may not happen for five or ten years, and in that time you can become so comfortable with each other that purity doesn’t even seem like a big deal anymore. That is a bad place to be.

Even if you are both very committed to purity, humans are imperfect and can be very weak in moments of temptation. By avoiding dating in high school, you are avoiding any chance of doing something in a moment of emotional weakness that you will regret later on.

 

 

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts on this subject in the comments! (especially if you’ve actually been in a relationship, since I, ah, never have, hence the title)

love, grace

Coming soon: We’ll continue the series and address what to do if you’ve already done things you regret, how to respond if someone asks you out, and more.

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 2: God’s Purpose for Singleness

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As we talked about last week, Christians are called to pursue God’s model for romance and marriage, not that of the world.

But it goes beyond that. We are called to pursue God’s model for everything in our lives.

One of our main purposes in the teen years is to learn about how God wants us to live our lives, to develop a relationship with him and learn to lean on Him in everything. In this way we can grow into adults who are stable, grounded on a firm foundation that cannot be shaken.

We have to be careful not to be distracted from this calling. And that is the second reason why I have chosen not to date in high school.

What is the Purpose of Singleness?

If God wanted to, he could give all of us a romantic attachment right now. It’s not neglect on His part. You’re not waiting for someone to drop into your life and then everything will be complete. When we are single, God has a reason for it. 

Here’s what Paul says about that reason:

 “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”

-1 Corinthians 7:32-34

Singleness is meant to be a time of growing as close to God as we can. It is a unique season of life when the only person we have an intimate commitment to is God, and so our focus should be on deepening that relationship, not waiting impatiently for someone else to come along. And in that growing intimacy, we are, in fact, preparing ourselves for an intimate relationship with another human.

The only way to be in a relationship that truly honors God is to be in a relationship with God first. If we rush into romance too soon, we will find that we are not as grounded as we thought we were and end up floundering, unable to find balance or fully show love to someone.

God gave us singleness so that we can learn what it feels like to serve Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, what it feels like to live completely committed to God’s glory. Because if we are trying to learn those things at the same time as we are trying to learn how to love another person, one will have to take precedence over the other.

Additionally, we cannot search for happiness in human love. Before we become invested in a romance, we must be fully secure in God’s love for us that will never leave, enough so that we can hold onto that in the midst of a human relationship and still have it to hold on to if the relationship ends.

We cannot seek a relationship to fulfill us; it is only when we stop desiring a relationship above all else that it is really good for us to be in one. If we have not found true fulfillment in God, we will end up unsatisfied, searching for happiness in one romantic attachment after another.

Find happiness first, outside of romance, and only then will a romance actually make you happy.

What do you think? Do you agree with my second reason for not dating in high school? What other issues would you like to see addressed in this series? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

 

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

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Going into high school, I had no strong convictions about dating. I was wavering on the edge of truth, trying to convince myself that it was okay to date, you know, as long as he was a Christian and we stayed pure.

Then I read a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It presented a new philosophy of romance for the Christian young person in a thoughtful, honest way, and I was convinced. While I don’t necessarily follow all of the specifics the book laid out, the principles led me to decide, purposefully, that I would not date at all during high school.

The question is debatable, and choosing not to date in a public-school atmosphere for four years is hard! But there are very good reasons for my decision and I want to share them with you in a series that will go through January and February.

We’ll start by looking at the most fundamental reason: God’s purpose for romance, dating, and marriage. To do that we have to go way back to the first married couple of the Bible.

What is the Purpose of Romance?

As we see in Genesis, God designed human beings for romance. His design of marriage was a lasting, exclusive covenant between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24), a design that was played out between Adam and Eve, the first husband and wife.

So what is the purpose of marriage? Primarily, to provide companionship. Eve was created so that Adam would have a helper, someone to live life with (Genesis 2:18). Humans are relational, and God gave us marriage as a way to have a deep relationship with one other person, a companion for us in the daily walk of life.

The other reason God created marriage is to have a model of His love for His people (Ephesians 5:25-26). The ideal loving, selfless relationship between husband and wife is the model for how much Christ loved us, that He came and died for our salvation. His love for us is pure, spotless, and beautiful.

Unfortunately, marriage has been marred by the fall in many ways, but the ultimate goal still stands, and as Christians we have the opportunity to pursue that goal despite the way the world has twisted it.

What is the Purpose of Dating?

With that foundation in mind, we can see more clearly the purpose of dating (or courting, if you choose to call it that). It is important to note that dating is a modern concept; there are many ways that people have found their spouse over the course of human history, some better than others, but there is not one perfect way to go about finding a husband or wife.

But that is what dating is: seeking a potential husband or wife. The goal of dating, courting, or whatever else you call it is to get to know someone better and see if they are the person God wants you to spend your life with in a marriage relationship.

Casual dating results in constantly giving your heart away to someone who is only in your life for a little while. We are called to date purposefully, seeking a partner in life, not for momentary fulfillment. Dating is not an end in itself; it is a means to a greater end. 

This is why I choose not to date in high school. I am not going to be ready for marriage anytime soon, and so getting involved in a relationship now would have no purpose to glorify God. All it would do is distract me, complicate my emotions, and add anxiety to my life.

Dating “just for fun” is not God’s best for us; we should always seek relationships intentionally, looking towards marriage and the future, and not just fun in the moment.

Have you been in a relationship before, and what wisdom can you share from that? Do you agree with me? Why or why not? Are you excited for this series? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

2016 Blogging Year in Review

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Wow…2016 Is Over?!

There are several things I can’t believe: how fast this year went by, the fact that 2017 starts tomorrow…but the biggest one is that I can’t believe how far this blog has come this year. It’s growing steadily, which is so exciting!

I currently have 74 followers. At my blogiversary in August I had 48. That’s incredibly rapid growth. My pageviews have more than doubled from last year too!

So thank you all so much for taking the time to read this blog and comment on my posts and support me. It means a lot! I’m so awed by what God is doing through my writing and I can’t wait to see where this blog goes in 2017.

Most Popular Posts

For the BookishScattered Journal Page MyLadyBibliophileMy Top 4 Favorite Blogs

modesty series 2Should Christian Girls Wear Makeup?

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

sermon notes2.jpgHow to Take Sermon Notes

snow.jpegTop 7 Movies for Snow Days

Personal Favorite Posts

Here are a few more posts that I was proud of or really enjoyed writing this year.

witnessing The How to Witness series: part 1 (preparation)part 2 (the conversation)part 3 (afterward)

thoughts on harry potter2.jpgThoughts From a New Harry Potter Fan

Book Review: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

books2.jpgWriting for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories)

standing for truth25 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

Other Blogs

Here are some of my favorite blogs I started following this year:

PAPER FURY Cait@Paper Fury (books, etc.)

 Abbiee (music, writing, etc.)

Rebekah@Hello Modesty (modest fashion)

RufflesandGraceVictoria@Ruffles and Grace (modest fashion, beauty, sewing, writing, etc.)

Mirriam Neal (writing, books, art. etc. like in the tagline)

Looking Forward

In January and February, as I mentioned in my last post, I will be doing a series on relationships in the teen years. I will talk about why I have chosen not to date in high school, how to develop your own convictions and stick to them, how to be content in singleness, and more.

(Also, I realized that I need a blog button. Will be getting on that ASAP.)

Beyond that, I don’t really know. I have lots of ideas, but at the moment I’m planning seasonally, so I don’t have anything planned out beyond February.

Various series ideas include cell phone addiction, how to have a devotional time, fruits of the Spirit, and more. I’m considering doing a post on learning to drive, since that’s something most teenagers go through. (I just got my driver’s license…!!!)

Let me know what you would be interested in seeing on here this year, if any of those ideas sound interesting or if you have other questions or requests. I’d love to get some input!

Here’s to a great 2017!

 

How was your 2016? Did you follow any great new blogs this year? What posts would you like me to do in the year to come? Let me know in the comments! 

love, grace

December 2016 Month in Review

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

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

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

This Month’s Devotions

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

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

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

Bloggings

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

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

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

 a fun Christmasy tag

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

from other blogs…

A beautiful post about the wonder of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readings

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

Watchings

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

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

Listenings

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

Upcoming in January

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

 

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

love, grace

Book and Movie of the Year 2016

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It’s already time for another book and movie of the year post! I had so much fun doing this last year and so I’m excited to do it again.

The choice, especially for books, was slightly agonizing, but I’m happy with the titles I’ve picked. In the end I just had to go with a gut feeling about which books most deserved this title.

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid to promote C.S. Lewis. Futhermore, this blog is not sponsored by C.S. Lewis, who happens to be no longer living anyway so how he would sponsor my blog, I don’t know. 

All jokes aside, I was a little concerned about choosing another C.S. Lewis book for my Book of the Year (last year’s was That Hideous Strength), but what can I say? C.S. Lewis is truly one of the greatest authors ever, and out of all the books I read this year, this one was the best. I do not take this choice lightly, and I didn’t want to choose a lesser book simply so that I wouldn’t have the same author two years in a row.

(It’s my award. I make the rules. And I say that the book can be by the same author two years in a row.)

So with that out of the way, I present to you…the 2016 Book and Movie of the Year! 

Book of the Year: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

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Runner-up: The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart 

The Last Battle is the final book of the Narnia series, the culmination of every plot in the other books. I had definitely read it before, but I was so young I didn’t remember, and this year was the first time that I sat down and read the whole Narnia series, from start to finish within a few weeks, on my own. The Last Battle blew me away.

The endings of the other books are all so bittersweet, with the children returning to the real world, unsure if they will return. But not this one. This one displayed the great climax of human history and the great resolution of final peace and joy. The ending is made even sweeter because of the previous books, all of the characters reunited in eternal happiness. This book somehow captures what the feeling may be like when Christ returns, and it is a picture of heaven that I will never forget.

The runner-up is a whole series, because taking one book out of the series robs it of its magic. The four books together make The Mysterious Benedict Society series what it is: a wonderful story of friendship and good defeating evil. While a children’s book, it has such important messages for all ages, and is a story that everyone can enjoy. It is a happy story that is deep and meaningful at the same time, a rare find in this age of dark and depressing or light and fluffy books.

Movie of the Year: Big Fish (2003)

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Runner-up: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) 

I don’t think Big Fish is a movie that can really be explained. I can’t explain what it’s about, or why it had such a huge emotional effect on me, but I’ll try anyway.

The movie is the story of a father and son, shown in the present and in flashbacks through the father’s life. All during the son’s childhood, the father told wild stories about his own life, passing them off as truth. As an adult, the son greatly distrusts his father and resents those stories.

The movie explores their relationship, especially when the father becomes very sick. It explores the power of stories and the lasting effect they have on our lives. The ending had me crying my eyes out, and the whole movie is fun, humorous, entertaining, deep, beautiful, and sad all at the same time.

And yes, more Narnia as the runner-up. This year I watched a Narnia movie for the first time, and was really pleased with how well it was adapted! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is visually gorgeous, well-cast, and stays very true to the book. I’m hesitant to watch the rest of the movies from things I’ve heard, but this one at least did a very good job and left me happy and satisfied.

 

What do you think? Do you like my choices? What are some of the best things you read and watched in 2016? Tell me in the comments! 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Reflections, part 4: Love

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Tonight, candles flicker in the dim light. Christmas trees are lit. Carols fill the air, voices raised by the thousands in songs of joy.

Tonight we wait for the birthday of Christ.

Christmas: a miracle of love. A celebration of a God who loved us so much that He came down to us in the humblest of circumstances so that we would not have to remain separate from Him.

Christmas is a celebration of love. That is what it’s all about: the decorations, the music, the food, the gifts; everything is a celebration of God’s incredible, abundant love. And what incredible love it was!

The note in my study Bible said that there is a possibility Jesus was born in the open air. The God of the universe, born to a poor couple in a small village in an alley somewhere. He lowered Himself this much because of His love for us.

Here, tonight, the story of salvation begins: a baby born who would grow up to be the Messiah, to die on a cross so that sinners across the ages could be saved. The story begins that will continue through the months and culminate in Easter, in His joyous conquering of death.

So let tonight and tomorrow be a joyous celebration of wondrous love! Christ is born! Hallelujah!

 

Merry Christmas to all of my lovely readers! I hope you have a wonderful day full of love, joy, and peace. 

love, grace

P.S.: 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Letdown