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

3 Childhood Christmas Favorites

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

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

 

Carpenters Christmas Portrait

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

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

 

Noelle of the Nutcracker by Pamela Jane

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

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

 

The Nutcracker (American Ballet Theatre and Mikhail Baryshnikov)

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

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

 

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

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

love, grace

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

7 Childhood Books I Still Love

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We all have those books from our childhood.

You know the ones I’m talking about; the ones we’ve read thirty times, the ones that sit battered and worn on our bookshelves, the ones that we still pick up and read when we get the chance, the ones that will be the first books we share with our children.

Today I wanted to share a few childhood books for me; these are not only ones that I loved as a child, but ones that I still love, reread, and would recommend to anyone, young and old. Yes, many of these will take older readers one sitting to read, maybe two, but that doesn’t make them any less deserving.

Here are 7 childhood books that I still love and think that everyone should read. If you have siblings, relatives, or friends who are younger and need something clean and good to read, try these; if you’re looking for something light and enjoyable yourself, try these!

The Penderwicks and sequels by Jeanne Birdsall

This series is not only a childhood favorite, but four of my favorite books of all time. The fourth book actually just came out, and the fifth (and last…*sniff*) one is coming soon, but I discovered the first one basically by accident a long time ago. The series details the everyday (and sometimes not-so-everyday) adventures of four sisters, but that little blurb doesn’t do them justice by a long haul!  They are so, so, so good. Go read them now.

Elsie Dinsmore and sequels by Martha Finley

I haven’t read this whole series, but I’ve read like the first twelve or fourteen so many times. These books have been a big part of my life since I was very young and Elsie is my ultimate role model.

Ballet Shoes and sequels by Noel Streatfeild 

Even if you’re not a dancer and no longer a kid, I still recommend these! It’s a fascinating look into how ballet and theater used to be taught…I wish it was still this way and I could get a performing license at  age twelve…But anyway, these books are great and I’ve read them more times than I can count.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I like everything by Gail Carson Levine, but this was the first book of hers that I read and I’ve read it many times since. It’s the story of a girl cursed at birth with obedience; she has to do what others tell her to no matter what. A fascinating Cinderella retelling, one of the first fairy tale retellings I ever read, and a great read!

Betsy-Tacy and sequels by Maud Hart Lovelace 

The first four books in this series were a big part of my childhood. (Once they get into high school it isn’t as enjoyable for young children; I love the rest of the books now, of course.) Such a cute, timeless friendship story!

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright 

Probably one of the most re-read books on this entire list (I know I’ve said that about all of them, but I mean it), this book details the attempts of the Melendy children to save up their money and have some Saturday adventures. I know I read the others in the series at some point, but this is the one I’ve always loved the most!

The School Story by Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements is just a good writer overall, but this book has a special place in my heart because of the subject matter. It’s about a girl who decides to masquerade as an adult in order to get a book published; it’s a “realistic” story about real kids but completely far-fetched when it comes to the likelihood of this happening in real life. So fun!

 

So there you go! Seven of my favorite childhood books. Have you read any of these? What books played a big part in your childhood? Tell me in the comments below!

love, grace