on watching Ben-Hur (1959) as an adult (feat. a little life update).

photo by kiwi thompson via unsplash.

Hi, guys.

Remember me?

My last post was published all the way back in November 2022 and my life has been crazy since then. I mean, it was crazy before…but November 2022 was where things got real. That was the month where, one day, I resolved that the next 365 days would be a year of intentional singleness, with the goal of seeking God first. I was sick of struggling with thoughts of discontent, always wondering if this guy or that guy might be ‘the one.’ So I gave my singleness to God and in return, He began showing me just how good and satisfying He is.

That isn’t to say that my life has been perfect since I set aside this year to seek God. Actually, the first three or so months of 2023 were some of the darkest of my life as Satan attacked. I felt as though God was finished with me, could never love me, and so many other dark emotions. (The key word there is ‘felt.’ If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I cannot trust my feelings–only God’s Word!) But it has been worth it all. I went into this year with a desire to know Jesus more…and I do. He’s my Savior and I love Him and there’s still so much more to learn.

And, yes, I’m still single. Prospectless, in fact–which is actually fine. November isn’t here yet. 😉 I’m not expecting that a flood of guys will appear at my front door when that specific date rolls around. (Just one–the right one–would be nice though…) And even when this season of singleness ends (or if it never does), I want my main goal to be that I will know and love God more each and every day.

Now for those thoughts on Ben-Hur (1959)…

Until a few days ago, I’d never actually seen Ben-Hur in its entirety. Although I watched it many, many times as a kid, there were always scenes that we skipped–either because they were too ‘boring’ (Judah and Esther’s romantic rendezvous) or too intense for younger viewers. Once I was old enough to watch the whole thing, I never did…for a pretty shallow reason. I’m not a fan of Charlton Heston, so sitting through a nearly four hour long movie starring him didn’t excite me.

But last week, I finally did see Ben-Hur from start to finish. (Minus the overture/intermission, because I was watching it with other people who didn’t appreciate the glorious music.) And here are some things that stood out to me.

They really don’t make ’em like they used to.

I know that’s a very cliched thing to say about old Hollywood epics like Ben-Hur, but that thought kept coming to my mind over and over again as I watched it. The sets, the extras, the matte backdrops, the sheer scope of the story, the larger-than-life characters, the exhaustive soundtrack, the chariot race (!!!!!!!!!!)…I was in awe from start to finish. Watching Ben-Hur as an adult was a much more satisfying experience than watching it as a kid, since I was able to really appreciate the plot, character arcs, and massive amounts of work that went into the film as a whole.

Charlton Heston still isn’t my favorite, but he turns in a great performance.

Judah’s journey from the highest highs to lowest lows (and back again) is incredibly engaging and intense–and that’s thanks in large part to Charlton Heston. Heston’s acting style annoys me sometimes (he can be a liiittle over-dramatic, imo), but I was still invested in Judah’s story from start to finish. I’m getting a little choked up even now, thinking back to some of Heston’s work in the scenes involving Judah and his mother and sister. So good.

Messala terrifies me.

One of the best movie villains…and one of the most chilling. The way he instantly turns on Judah (and the Hur family as a whole!) is shocking. He’s an evil guy, right up to the end of his part in the story, but there’s still a bit of sadness in the back of my mind for what he was and what he could have been. 😦

Judah’s revenge/redemption arc is beautiful…but lacking in one way.

I really liked Judah’s character arc in Ben-Hur, no question about it. But what would have made me love it is if there had been a longer denouement before the film’s end. I don’t have a clear picture of what that could have looked like, but I think including news of Christ’s resurrection would have been nice. Judah was impacted so powerfully by Jesus and without the resurrection there’s a bit of a sense that Jesus was just a good man who helped Judah. I also would have liked a scene or two of the Hur family after their initial reunion. They were so sweet and happy together at the start of the movie; after multiple hours of separation and misery, seeing them reconnecting would have been wonderful.

(“And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand” is still the best line in the movie though. A great ending to Judah’s arc, even if the rest of the denouement feels a little rushed.)

When this movie is powerful, it’s really, really, REALLY powerful.

I’ve tried just now to write about what makes Ben-Hur such a powerful film, over sixty years after its release, but words really do fail me. Its a powerful character study that grapples with themes of revenge and forgiveness and fear and death and life. The chariot race is still spectacular in every way (as well as being a clear inspiration for the podrace in The Phantom Menace). And the very human, relatable characters will capture your heart. Ben-Hur is food for the spirit. If you haven’t seen it yet, take the next available opportunity to do so!

I don’t know if I’ll return to posting regularly here (or even semi-regularly). But I did really enjoy writing this blog post. Let me know how you all are doing and if you’ve seen Ben-Hur (and what you thought of it, if you have).



turning 24.

God has been so good to me in this past birthday year. I’ve seen Him provide in many, many different ways, answer prayers both big and small, and comfort myself and those close to me during times of extreme grief and pain. This morning, as I reflect on all of that, I’m overwhelmed by His care for me!

This is also the year where I’ve finally begun to feel like an actual adult. Which might sound a bit odd, as I’ve been a legal adult for six years now. But this was the year I finally stopped being so passive about my life, and I think that really made a difference. I’ve been actively seeking God, learning how to drive, having difficult conversations, and even though it’s been hard…it’s also been good. Really good.

In this past year, I:

  • Learned how to use a French press.
  • Learned how to sing alto. (Still a work in progress, but I’m much farther along than when I started.)
  • Learned how to drive. (Ditto.)
  • Had five stories accepted by Havok Publishing. (Three published so far.)
  • Celebrated the two year anniversary of working at my current job.
  • Celebrated my first ever Tolkien Day.
  • Watched Leverage and The Mentalist and finished Lost.
  • Got to read In the Glorious Fields by Emily Hayse. (Finally!)
  • Learned to stop worrying and love James Garner.
  • Went to juror selection. (Wasn’t picked though.)
  • Saw a high school production of The Sound of Music.
  • Cheered for and cried over the Freedom Convoy to Ottawa.
  • Learned to tolerate my family’s new puppy.
  • Witnessed Roe v. Wade being overturned IN MY LIFETIME!
  • Helped out with my church’s Vacation Bible School.
  • Wrote 300K+ words.

I have no idea what my twenty-fourth year will hold. But I’m excited to see what God will do. ❤


currently… (august 2022 edition)

Hey, guys!

I’ve been super busy lately and blogging took a back seat because of that. However, I hate to leave this blog for long periods of time, so I thought I’d jump on and share what I’m currently reading, watching, learning, etc. Fun for me to share and (hopefully) fun for you to read. ❤

Let’s jump right in with what I’m…


Along with blogging, reading has also taken a back seat lately. Part of that is because I’m busy, but a big reason is that my attention span and focus just isn’t what it used to be. (I blame my phone…and myself.) But! I’m still working my way through The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s fascinating. I’m right at the cusp of the Count taking his revenge on everyone who ruined his life, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

I’m also reading Andrew Peterson’s Adorning the Dark. It’s been on my to-read list for at least a couple years, and I just recently got it from the library. I hadn’t even finished it before I ordered my own copy from Amazon—I needed to highlight passages. So, so good. It mainly deals with songwriting, but (obviously) it’s great for fiction writers as well.


Last night, I watched Pixar’s Luca for the very first time. I had zero interest in watching it (despite how much my younger siblings love it—sorry, guys!) until I read this review and actually discovered what it was about? (I think Disney dropped the ball when it came to advertising.)

Anyway, I loved it! I’ll have to watch it again to solidify what I think of it, but it’s a solid Pixar film for sure. Luca and Alberto are absolute friendship goals. *sniffles* (The soundtrack is so good too.)

I’m also mildly obsessed with The Mentalist right now. If any of you are fans of the show as well, please let me know in the comments!


Some classical music for writing.


How to drive! Terrifying, but necessary. 😉


My sister is a barista at Starbucks right now and she gets a free pound of coffee every week. I’ve been having fun trying all the different varieties she brings home.


Healthier! I’ve become more conscious about what I eat, and I’m focusing on eating less junk and more whole/unprocessed foods. It’s been a great change for me.


Even though I’m not a kid anymore, I’m reeeeally looking forward to my birthday in a couple weeks. I’ll be 24, and I dunno…birthdays always excite me for some reason. I’m having a couple friends over to eat delicious food and watch a movie. Good times all around. 🙂

I’m also eagerly anticipating my next Havok story getting published on the 24th!


I’ve worked on a couple Havok stories and finished a scene in one of my Westerns. But I haven’t written much besides this blog post lately—I hope that changes! I want to get into a good writing routine and stick to it. Otherwise, how will my books ever get written??

That’s all I have to say about myself for now! What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear from you!


the honestea tag.

The time has come for me to bare my soul in this tag of brutal honesty. XD

Let it begin!


  • No lies allowed. If an answer is too shameful to expose you may substitute the answer with a gif/image of someone drinking tea.
  • There are optional bonus additions to questions but these are not for the faint of heart.
  • You complete the tag having answered every question + the bonus additions (no gifs used), you are dubbed a certified tea chugger, and you deserve a badge to show the world that you are not afraid of a steaming hot cup of TRUTH.
  • Tag at least one other person (a tea party with just one is not very fun. trust me.) Untagged persons are more than welcome to fill it out as well (nothing cooler than crashing a tea party).


What is a ‘bad’ (generally disliked) movie that you actually love?

I know that many people love Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man now, but I think that his solo movies (particularly the second one) still get a bad rap. So I’ll just say it: I love The Amazing Spider-Man. And I like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than I dislike it. I do wish Harry had been the main/only villain, but oh well.

What is your most shocking reading habit?

This isn’t a habit, since I don’t personally do it, but I really see nothing wrong with dog-earing pages.

Tell us the number one lie you write in your posts.

I try not to lie in any of my posts. On occasion, I will hype up a book or movie a tiny bit more than I really feel like doing. (As in, I may have felt a bit more meh about a book than I let on in the review.) But I do really try to be honest with my reviews! Especially since I’ve been gypped by gushing reviews. (Don’t get me started…)

Tell us the worst character name you’ve ever thought up. {Bonus: share a character name you find ridiculous in a book/movie.}

I’m sure there are bad character names I’ve come up with, but I’m drawing a blank.

Okay, okay.

I wrote a western once upon a time where the main character’s name was ‘Edward Smythers.’ Not the worst, but what is that last name??

As for another author’s character name that I find ridiculous, Charles Dickens has a lot. But they’re meant to be ridiculous, so I doubt that counts.

What is the real reason you procrastinate writing your work in progress?

Laziness. And probably some fear of failing to write perfectly.

What is a genre of music you secretly love?

I don’t know about genre per se, but I’ve enjoyed songs from ABBA despite not listening to their music/that genre in general.

If you’re a plotter, what do you really think of pansters? If you’re a panster, what do you really think of plotters?

I’m a hardcore plotter. I don’t understand pantsers at all. But if it works for them, who am I to say nay?

Share at least three lines of dialogue from one of your first writing projects. {Bonus: give us the good stuff. your most gruesome butchering of the English language.}

From an extremely juvenile horse story I wrote a decade or so ago:

“This horse is pretty bad-looking,” Mrs. Smith was talking. “But if anyone can pull him through, you can Mr. Hardy.”

“Well Mrs. Smith, we’ll do our best.”

“Do you want to keep the horse once we’re finished with him?” Burt asked.

“Do you think he’ll be any good as a saddle horse?” Mrs. Smith queried.

“I think there’s a fine horse under all this dirt, and I’m determined to get that horse out. Just leave it to us.”

” ‘Us’, what do you mean ‘us’? I thought it was a one man operation here.” said Mrs. Smith.

“No, I do the actual training and that, but my daughter brushes and talks to the horse, winning his trust you know, and my wife is kind of the treasurer of these stables.”


Tell us the title & artist of the last song you listened to.

Rubber Ball‘ by Bobby Vee.

Which beloved book/movie character do you dislike & why?

Samwise Gamgee.

But before you unfollow me, let me explain!!!

Although I do dislike Sam more than I probably should, I also recognize how wonderfully self-sacrificing and loyal he is. (And please note that ‘dislike’ does not equal ‘hate.’)

My dislike of Sam stems from a couple things. I resent him because he gets all (or most) of the praise from the fandom, and Frodo (my favorite!) is generally and unfairly overlooked. I recognize this is quite petty. XD But my second reason? Sam is actually horrid to Gollum time and time again. He undoes all the work Frodo has done with/for Gollum in trying to bring Gollum back to the side of goodness.

Now of course there are extenuating circumstances. They’re in dangerous territory, Gollum really is quite a fiend, and Sam feels a big responsibility to protect Frodo from any danger. All well and good. But Sam antagonizes Gollum a LOT when he could have just held his tongue and followed Frodo’s example of mercy and kindness. He didn’t though. And the fandom all but ignores that side of Sam, which really bugs me.

Anyway, just take a look at what Tolkien said in Letter #246!

Sam is meant to be lovable and laughable. Some readers he irritates and even infuriates. I can well understand it. All hobbits at times affect me in the same way, though I remain very fond of them. But Sam can be very ‘trying’…If he had understood better what was going on between Frodo and Gollum, things might have turned out differently in the end.

For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes in II 323 ff. when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum’s tone and aspect. ‘Nothing, nothing’, said Gollum softly. ‘Nice master!’. His repentance is blighted and all Frodo’s pity is (in a sense) wasted. Shelob’s lair became inevitable.”

If no one agrees with me, it’s okay. Tolkien would have. =)

Tell us the title & topic of a post you have left in draft.

‘The Christian Themes of A Quiet Place

Will it ever see the light of day? Who knows!

What is a book you pretend you’ve read/would like to read but know you never will? {Bonus: share a time when claiming you’ve read a classic/well-known book didn’t end well}

I don’t pretend to have read books. (At least not anymore.) There’s no shame in not having read a book!

Tell us the title & topic of the most embarrassing post you’ve ever written. {Bonus: include. the. link.}

Too many to choose from, hehe.


I’m not going to specifically tag anyone. It’s open to anyone who’d like to answer these questions, as indicated in the tag rules, and I’ve included a ‘clean’ copy of the questions below, for your convenience. 🙂

What is a ‘bad’ (generally disliked) movie that you actually love?

What is your most shocking reading habit?

Tell us the number one lie you write in your posts.

Tell us the worst character name you’ve ever thought up. {Bonus: share a character name you find ridiculous in a book/movie.}

What is the real reason you procrastinate writing your work in progress?

What is a genre of music you secretly love?

If you’re a plotter, what do you really think of pansters? If you’re a panster, what do you really think of plotters?

Share at least three lines of dialogue from one of your first writing projects. {Bonus: give us the good stuff. your most gruesome butchering of the English language.}

Tell us the title & artist of the last song you listened to.

Which beloved book/movie character do you dislike & why?

Tell us the title & topic of a post you have left in draft.

What is a book you pretend you’ve read/would like to read but know you never will? {Bonus: share a time when claiming you’ve read a classic/well-known book didn’t end well}

Tell us the title & topic of the most embarrassing post you’ve ever written. {Bonus: include. the. link.}

What’s a genre of music do you secretly love? A movie you adore that critics despised? Let me know in the comments!


currently: spring 2021 edition.

Concept + title taken from Maribeth B.’s excellent blog post. ❤

*winces at the fact that my last post was published on April 30th*

Yikes. Has it really been so long? Sorry, guys! I don’t really have any excuses because I’ve *cough* been stuck at home with The Dreaded Plague for quite a while (thankfully, I’m back to work now–but it wasn’t a treat being cooped up for so long). So yeah, I had plenty of time to write blog posts. But I just didn’t really have a lot of inspiration. 😛 Anyway! I’m here today with a ‘catching up’ post to let y’all know what I’ve been doing (hopefully in an interesting way).

I am currently…


Well, I flew through Lord of the Rings in approximately two weeks. When I was feeling not so great and my eyes ached too much to read, I curled up in a chair and listened to Phil Dragash’s amaaaazing audiobook. He tries to do movie-accurate voices (often with great success, particularly Pippin and Aragorn) and there’s Howard Shore’s music and sound effects in the background…highly recommended! (The audiobooks are on archive.org! Here’s the link to the first one.)

Right now, I’m reading a book-for-review: Never Miss. It involves a mysterious heroine and a possibly man-made disease. Sounds intriguing, no? I’m hoping that it rises above typical Christian fiction blandness, but we shall see. You’ll hear my thoughts in a review sometime before the end of this month!


A couple Hitchcock films. Both re-watches, but they were still v. entertaining. Especially Dial M for Murder. Besides the fact that adultery is basically swept under the rug and there are no real consequences for it (plus, Mark and Margot get together in the end–we assume), it’s so good!! The other one I saw was The Lady Vanishes. Lots of fun. It’s such a sharp film with intelligent, likable characters (even though the villains’ plot kind of hinges on stuff out of their control–like that couple who are having an affair not admitting that they’d seen Miss Froy for their own reasons).

I also watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with Rachel and that was such a treat. Definitely enjoyed it more when I watched it with her than I did the first time I saw it. One of my favorite parts was the White Council coming to Gandalf’s aid (particularly Warrior!Elrond). And then of course Martin Freeman’s Bilbo. Such a treasure.


Nothing these days, besides a bit of fanfiction. I do want to continue writing the sequel to Flicker, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe today?


Going to church this Sunday. Possibly getting a government benefit for being a ‘critical worker’. (#money) Going out for lunch (and/or shopping) with my mom next week. Celebrating my oldest bro’s birthday tomorrow with applesauce cake and my gift to him which I’m suuuuper excited about (it’s a Funko Pop of one of his favorite LOTR characters–possibly his favorite, actually–Gimli). (I can say that ‘in public’ because I’m 99% sure he doesn’t read my blog.)


Instagram posts related to my freelance editing business! (Even if that just means tossing around ideas in my brain lol.) I know I need to be more professional about publishing posts on a schedule and all that, but it’s early days yet!


Youtube Music (paid version).


Chatting with Mary.


My own little space.

LOTR/The Hobbit soundtracks.


Animated films.

Butterscotch chips. (Like chocolate chips, but delicious caramel-y goodness.)

Lots of other little things. ❤


What have you been doing lately? Seen any good movies? Read any good books? Enjoyed any good food? Let me know in the comments!


little life update + my favorite Easter song

Hey, all! What’s up? How’s life been going?

Mine hasn’t been too bad lately. There’s work of course, and then I also went to the mountains with a couple friends last weekend. Banff is gorgeous!!! I fell in love with the mountains themselves pretty much at once (even though my first close glimpses of them were in the dark). They are awe-inspiring, tranquil guardians. ❤ I was able to pick up some gifts for the fam in Banff’s maaaaaany gift shops, which was very fun.

I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and watched The Light Between Oceans. My reactions to both are mixed (though I’m more positive about Uncle Tom’s Cabin). I’m also HUGELY excited for The Chosen Season 2 (episode one premiers this Sunday!).

There’s not actually too much to say in regards to life updates–work takes up quite a bit of my time (including on my days off because that’s when, sadly, I feel almost justified in being lazy and doing next to nothing). I’m working on the alto part to a song that I’m going to sing with my sisters on Sunday (in church). At first I was horrible at the part and I wanted to drop out, but I worked on it and I’m so much better at it now (and it’s fun to sing alto, when I actually do it correctly).

Anyway, I’m going to go and make myself a coffee and then start checking more things off my to-do list. This blog post will be my first completed item of the day. But before I go, I thought I would share my favorite Easter song. Let me know what you think!


thoughts as I enter 2021.

I wrote the bulk of this post on New Year’s Eve, so when I say ‘this year’, I mean 2020.

I started writing my customary New Year’s Tag, but I’m just not feeling it this year. Partly because work has kept me really busy (and tired)–I have near full-time hours now. And I don’t think that the normal questions match the abnormality of this year. Questions like ‘what have you done in 2020 that you’d never done before?’ The answer to that could take up several paragraphs! Between COVID-19 and work, there’s a lot to say.

I also thought about doing a month-by-month recap of 2020, but never got around to it. A lot of it would be…not stuff I want to share with the public. 😀 There was also a ‘top ten books of 2020’ post floating around in my drafts, but I doubt that will see the light of day. The list, if you are interested, is as follows:

  • Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  • 0/100 by Jim Van Gelderen
  • The Saving Life of Christ by Major W. Ian Thomas
  • One Bad Apple by Rachel Kovaciny
  • Nine by Rachelle Dekker
  • Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry
  • Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary
  • Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
  • Miriam by Mesu Andrews

The top two knocked me out, by the way. Especially the toppest top one.

So those were the books of 2020. I read less than a hundred, which is sad. There are so many books I want to reread and I just…don’t. As for movies, I didn’t keep a record of the ones I watched this year. Psycho (1960) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stick out in my mind. Oh, and the remake of Mulan! That was good, much better than I’d expected. Agents of Shield was the TV show of 2020 for me (I also appreciated Vindication), though my interest petered out in the sixth season. Seasons one through four are my jam.

Drank a lot of coffee this year. Coffee is good.

I had a lovely Christmas, with plenty of useful presents.

Spring and summer were the best parts of the year, though February and the very beginning of March were AMAZING as well. February 21-22 was my church’s winter teen camp and I was a volunteer worker in the kitchen. We had like seventeen kitchen workers for a camp with less than a hundred campers, so there wasn’t a lot to do. I took a bunch of pictures, walked on a frozen lake for the first time ever (so cool), sang with my church peeps, found a friend, and overall had such a wonderful time.

Then at the end of February, my pastor took myself and some of my siblings on a road trip down to a church conference in Wisconsin. Again, AMAZING. I want to go again this coming year, but it doesn’t look very likely to happen. 😦 But anyway, I loved the conference. We got back sometime in the first week of March right before everything happened. So thankful I was able to go.

As I said, spring and summer were the best. Even with the restrictions and inner turmoil, I treasure those days. I was able to hang out with some of the coolest people in the world as we shared the gospel, had a book study, prayed together, and generally had a blast. It’s not a stretch to say that the first half of 2020 was one of the absolute best parts of my entire life. Crazy, right? I don’t want to be insensitive to those who have had a terrible 2020. It’s just that for me, personally, this year has been great for personal growth, getting closer to God and finding out Who He really is, and so on.

I polished Flicker and submitted it to my dream publisher.

I got bangs.

A friend and I hosted a birthday party for a mutual friend, and it included an old-fashioned recitation with poems and songs performed by different people in the church. There was some serious talent on display and it was wonderful!

the chairs set up for the recitation.

I got a job at a seniors’ home, in housekeeping. It’s been challenging (and continues to be, especially since we’re in outbreak mode right now), but good. Surprisingly good for my relationship with God, as I’ve had to rely on Him for solutions to problems and that sort of thing.

I let my heart get way too involved with someone and then I found out that was a big mistake and now I’m working on not letting that happen again.

My assistant pastor’s wife started a Bible study with me and four more people have since joined. Yay! We’ll be going through Acts, starting next week. (I’m also planning to read through the Bible chronologically this year–hoping to go through the entire Bible in 2021. Something I don’t believe I’ve ever done before, sadly.)

Katie and I met IRL in January. I’ve now met two internet friends in person! We ate Chinese food and watched The West Wing and she attended my church’s annual business meeting. Good times. 😀

COVID-19 is a thing, and it derailed a lot, but I don’t view 2020 as a wasted year. I learned more about Jesus, so that makes the year worth it in and of itself. I can’t really think of much to say as a summation sort of thing, but I don’t hate 2020. I love aspects of it. There was also a church camping trip in August. (I know this post is a bit all over the place, but it’s late and so I’m just tossing random things into the mix.)

Goals for 2021:

  • See Flicker get accepted for traditional publication.
  • Read through the entire Bible.
  • Read 100 books.
  • Save A Certain Amount of Money.
  • Complete a first draft of a novel (idk which one yet).
  • Journal consistently. I used up my five-year journal and I don’t feel like springing for a new one, so I’m going to try journaling in a notebook instead. A bit leery, since I’ve tried that before and failed. But we’ll see.
  • Maybe some other stuff, but that’s all I have for right now.

So tell me…how was your 2020? What made it special for you? What was the most difficult part of it? How did you get through it?


twenty-five reasons Christmas time is the best time

1. The Christmas season feels like hope and light and everything good in the world. It lightens your heart and shakes up your life–and in a good way, not like a certain stupid virus.

2. The mall is Christmas-themed. In fact, everything is Christmas-themed. AWESOME.

3. It’s time to break out all those movies you only watch in December. Home Alone! How the Grinch Stole Christmas! It’s a Wonderful Life! Nobody’s going to blame you for doing a little bingeing, so go for it.

4. And you’ll probably have a bunch of new Christmas flicks to enjoy as well. Each Christmas season, streaming services, film companies, and even TV channels (Hallmark!) put out fresh Christmas content for their consumers. Sure, most of them won’t become hugely popular classics, but they’re fun for an afternoon or evening.

5. You can listen to your favorite Christmas carol in a million different renditions. If it’s a Christmas song, chances are that it’s been covered, re-mixed, and arranged into oblivion. Go to Youtube, search for Your Christmas Song, and enjoy all the unique ways people have played/performed it.

6. ‘Tis the season of gifting. So I know that Christmas has been turned into this big materialistic thing (in part, anyway). But you know what? I love Christmas shopping. And buying gifts for people. It’s my jam. So I’ll be another capitalist consumer, ’cause it makes me happy.

7. The tree. My family got a beautiful tree this year (I think it’s the best one we’ve had so far) and I just looooove it. I read an article that suggested sleeping under the Christmas tree for a fun activity and, yeah, I’m totally doing that. Probably on Christmas Eve.

8. Watching Home Alone. I know I already mentioned it, but IT IS LITERAL NEAR-PERFECTION.

9. The colors. You’ve got your standard red and green and gold, which I love. But then there’s also blue and white and silver…which I also love. Either way, you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous colors during Christmas time.

10. People are nicer, and there’s a spirit of camaraderie. I really don’t care about ‘the war on Christmas’. We shouldn’t be looking to the media/stores to reinforce the spiritual side of Christmas. Someone wants to say ‘Happy holidays!’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas!’? That’s fine. Bottom line is, people are nicer. Which is lovely.

11. The Christmas season gives people something to focus on besides…you know. Enough said.

12. There’s a focus on fun, joy-making activities. During Christmas time, people tend to think about things to do instead of just working, eating, browsing the internet, and sleeping. There are so many different Christmas activities awaiting!

13. It’s the perfect time of year to share the gospel. You’ve got a great opportunity to talk about the Reason for the season. Christmas-themed gospel tracts, anyone?

14. The decorations. I’ve already touched on the tree, but there’s so many other great ways to decorate as well. My mom has gone, um, rather crazy with buying and making Christmas decorations this year, but at least it makes the house look awesome. 😉

15. Alllllll the hot (and cold) drinks. Peppermint mocha Frappuccinos from Starbucks? SAY NO MORE. And then there’s also your usual hot chocolate, coffee, etc. Egg nog, if that’s your thing (I’ve never actually had it, I don’t think).

16. You can go crazy baking insanely yummy treats. Calories don’t count at Christmas time. (Okay, they do. But that can just be our little secret.)

17. It’s a great excuse for reaching out to family members and friends you may have grown apart from over the year. “Merry Christmas! I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked, but I hope you’re doing well. How about a phone call @ [insert time]? I’d love to catch up.”

18. A whole new wardrobe awaits (well, okay, maybe a few select pieces that get you in the holiday mood). *currently wearing cozy Christmas sweater*

19. Narnia is best at this time of year. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, that is. Not all the Narnia books/movies have a wintery aesthetic. But if at all possible, watch/read LWW this year! We all need a magical world to disappear into this year.

20. There are great Christmas books out there to read. As I was just saying with LWW! I’m reading A Christmas Carol today. Never gets old. ❤

21. You (hopefully!) get to fill at least one person’s stocking. My family draws names, so each person get a stocking to fill (it’s supposed to remain a secret, but several people usually figure out who has who by Christmas Day). It’s fun picking out little gifts to give someone an extra burst of holiday cheer (and candy!).

22. You cannot remain sad while listening to this. Not possible.

23. Did I mention Home Alone? IT’S JUST THAT GOOD.

24. The heady anticipation that culminates in ripping open a thousand gifts, eating way too much junk food, and spending time with awesome people. You mean we have to wait until next year to do it all over again?

25. Jesus. If you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit this year, that’s okay. Focus on Jesus, and your world will be put to rights regardless. He’s still alive and He can still make everything all right if you’ll trust Him.

Have I forgotten anything on this list? What are some activities, movies, music, etc. that make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year for YOU? Let me know in the comments!


eighteen resources for Christian girls (and guys!)

The Christian life can be a rollercoaster of emotions, experiences, and events. Jesus never changes of course (which is v. comforting), but we believers tend to change a lot over the course of our life (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse). I’ve compiled a list of almost twenty resources that have helped me in my walk with God (though I don’t think you can call people ‘resources’—you’ll see what I mean). I hope you find some useful on this list! ❤


Bible. I know this one is really obvious, but it’s essential for good reason. The Bible is God’s message to us. It’s how we know Who God is and what He’s like. It’s where we go to (or where we should go to) for truth, guidance, comfort, and basically everything. I use the KJV—I know it’s considered outdated by a lot of people, but I love it (and I don’t have the inclination to get into a debate on the merits/faults of different Bible versions :P).

My dad gifted me a leather-bound Cambridge KJV Bible with wide margins and a lot of note-taking space in the back. For the longest time, I was leery of writing inside that Bible because it seemed so permanent (and because I didn’t feel as though I had anything much to say). But I’ve been cautiously venturing into doing just that! Pretty awesome. I’d highly recommend getting a wide-margin Bible or a Bible specifically designed with journaling in mind. (Like this one.)

—Prayer. Besides prayer being a way to, let’s be honest, ask God for stuff, prayer can truly be a two-way conversation between you and Jesus. I’m not saying that He audibly speaks to me as I pray, but more than once, as I’ve been praying, a new insight into God and His character has sparked inside my mind. It’s really cool when that happens. I know that I have often fallen into the trap of ‘laundry list’ prayers or prayer sessions that are mostly asking God for what I want (even when I’m praying for others, it often turns into asking, asking, asking without much praise or just talking to God like a friend). And our prayers shouldn’t be like that! :/

I think I mentioned something about this in a previous blog post, but if you’re stuck in a cycle of rushing through a prayer list, asking God for things instead of simply spending time in His presence, or any number of other blah prayer habits, you should try praying through scripture! (Specifically, the psalms.) David and the other psalmists knew how to praise God, and how to pour out their hearts to Him. Here’s a link with more information/tips for praying through different psalms. ❤

—A plan. Can you tell I’m an enneagram one? I love to-do lists, organization…and plans! You should definitely find a Bible reading plan. When you don’t have any idea where you’re going in your reading/study of the Bible, you’ll probably end up drifting from book to book, picking out verses here and there. And while every part of God’s Word is amazing, you’ll almost certainly get more from it if you have a plan.

If you’re unsure where to find one, the Youversion Bible app is an excellent place to start. I’ll talk more about it below, but suffice to say that they have thousands of different Bible reading plans—everything from one week devotionals to one-year marathons. (I also love these plans.)

What Bible reading plan do I follow? Well, I’ve kind of adopted my assistant pastor’s wife’s method. We take a book of the Bible each week (or four to six chapters of a book, if it’s longer) and read that passage through every day that week (though honestly, I pretty much never read it every single day :P). We write down our questions, thoughts, and general observations about the passage and then share them with each other (and a couple other women who’ve joined our Bible study as well). I’ve never consistently (or semi-consistently) studied the Bible like this and it’s such a good thing to do. I’ve learned so much (and I know there’s still a ton to discover).

This week we’re doing James, by the way. 😉

Also, I’d say that it’s a good idea to have a plan for when you’re going to spend time with God and to have a prayer plan. Even though I’m not a morning person, I find that it’s so good to get up around six and spend an hour or so reading the Bible, taking notes, and all that. Just find what works for you! You may actually do much better reading in the afternoon or evening. It all depends on the person.

As for the prayer plan, the Coffee and Bible Time girls (more on them in a bit) did a prayer challenge during July where you set yourself a time limit and then pray for that amount of time each day. I found it really good and helpful (though I didn’t stick with it through all of July, sadly), and it’s something that each of us could implement into our devotional time.


—Notebook/journal. Not a necessity, but super helpful for jotting down notes, thoughts, prayers, poems, and anything else that comes to you as you read your Bible and pray. I know that some Christians really advocate writing down prayers. I’ve done a bit of that, and I might do more…but I mostly use my notebook for Bible study notes. 🙂 Again, whatever works for you! Also, you might find it helpful to start taking a notebook to church to write down sermon notes. I do that for a couple different reasons, and it’s lovely for catching those little insights and #fire points during messages.

—Highlighters. I don’t have a color code method (and that’s something I kind of regret now), so if people discover my Bible in the future, they’re going to get a headache from trying to decipher what the different colors mean (answer: nothing). But I love highlighting my Bible all the same. Look up highlighters that are specifically for Bibles, so that you don’t have the dreaded bleed-through.

—Your favorite hot beverage. Got to have that coffee (or tea)! I’ll get up, get dressed, come upstairs and grind coffee beans, brew the coffee, and then settle in with my Bible/notebook/pen/highlighter. #best


—Devotional book. I don’t currently use a devotional book, but I have in the past and they can be great for one’s devotional life (hence, the name). Usually the readings are quite short and, if you get a good quality devotional book, they can enrich your understanding of God, the Bible, and the Christian life. I’d recommend The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major W. Ian Thomas, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, and Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon. I also found a list of devotional books on Goodreads, and some of them look really good. (I just can’t wholeheartedly recommend any book I haven’t yet read. And I know that Jesus Calling has some iffy doctrines. :P)

—Other Christian books. There is no greater Book than the Bible. But that doesn’t mean that you should only read the Bible and turn your nose up at any other book. There are several amazing Christian books (both fiction and nonfiction) that can inspire and encourage you in your faith. The Saving Life of Christ and If I Perish, I Perish by Major W. Ian Thomas, 0/100 by Dr. Jim Van Gelderen, and Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman are excellent books to start with. (And there’s soooooooo many others. Like Elisabeth Elliot’s books, A.W. Tozer’s books, C.S. Lewis’s books…) For fiction, I’d recommend authors Lynn Austin and Jack Cavanaugh.

—Christian movies. Yes, I know. Christian movies are often mocked and disliked, because there are so few quality ones! However, I would recommend I’m Not Ashamed, Courageous, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, The Ultimate Gift, Risen, The Prince of Egypt, and the TV shows Sue Thomas F.B. Eye and Vindication. Also, you can watch a TON of faith films on Tubi for free (at least in Canada?). Most of them are garbage, but they can be a nice diversion.


—Youversion. I think every Christian app list includes the Youversion Bible app, because it’s just that good. You have a clean interface to read the Bible, a verse/devotional/prayer of the day, badges you can earn, Bible reading plans, and more! My mom wrote a really good, helpful review of the app on her blog if you want to check that out.

—Bible Hub. This website/app is chock-full of Bible study tools (as well as the full Bible, of course), but what I mainly use it for is Strong’s concordance. With the Bible reading method that my assistant pastor’s wife and I use, Strong’s concordance is really awesome because if we don’t understand something (a concept, the use of a word, etc.), we can find good insights by using Strong’s (or, often, more questions). I haven’t really explored the rest of the app/website, but I’m sure that there are other good resources on there as well.

—Abiding Radio. I love this app! Most Christian music these days isn’t my thing, and listening to the same few albums over and over again gets old pretty fast. So when I downloaded Abiding Radio after a friend recommended it to me, I fell in love right away. (One of the settings is a bit finicky, and I ended up deleting AR after a while because of that. But then I re-installed it a little while ago, figured out the setting that had been causing me trouble, and now I loooove it.) You can listen online or download the app for Apple or Android.


—Coffee and Bible Time. This is the first Christian girls channel I started following once I began to grow in my walk with God (I think it was actually a contributing factor to that growth). They have so many great videos (you might end up binge-watching their channel, along with the other two channels I talk about below). Three good videos of theirs: 10 JOURNAL IDEAS (for those who don’t know what to journal about), 10 Things Christians Should Be Doing Daily, and 54 year old shares 10 things she would have done differently in her 20’s. (Yep, I love lists.) They also have a vlog channel, for those of you who enjoy vlogs.

—Tiffany Dawn. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend all of Tiffany Dawn’s videos because she goes into pretty adult territory semi-often. 😛 But the videos I have seen from her are usually excellent and helpful. She speaks on relationships, singleness, growing in Christ, and all that kind of awesome stuff. Here are three great videos from her: Dear Single Girls: Ignore these 4 things people say, What to Do While Waiting on God, and 4 Things that Changed My Faith Forever.

—Morgan Tracy J. Okay, I haven’t watched many of Morgan’s videos (though I have a ton of them saved to my ‘watch later’ playlist on Youtube). But I included her on this list because her videos look really good and helpful! Three I’m looking forward to: Revamp Your Life with Jesus (Five Tips), Social Media Detox (Is Social Media Controlling You?), and 21 Day Daniel Fast Experience + Tips.


—A good church. This should actually be in ‘the essentials’ section, almost. Yes, you can survive without a good church. But it’s hard to thrive. Really hard. (Speaking from experience here!) When you find the church that God wants you to be in, it’s amazing. Obviously not without its challenges, since a church is the members, and church members are people, and people are sinners, and sinners live messily. But the benefits far outweigh potential hurts. Growing under good preaching, have a family of believers that will support you (and who you can support in return)…it’s quite literally a taste of Heaven.

our parties are WILD. 😂

—A group of like-minded friends. Church = family. But within that family (and outside of it, too), it’s a great idea to have a smaller group of friends that you can hang out with. Building strong friendships does take time, but it’s #worth. Pro tip: try to spot a kindred spirit or two in your social circle. And once you have, open up! Don’t wait for them to come to you! Go to them, perhaps starting with something small that’s on your heart. Because until your relationship with people moves beyond surface conversations, you don’t really have a relationship, y’know? You and your friends should build each other up spiritually and know how to have a great, fun time.

—A spiritual mentor. I see a good spiritual mentor as being someone who you can go to with the tough questions and struggles that you’ll inevitably face in your Christian life. You need a mentor who won’t judge you or look down on you for your spiritual wrestlings, but who will instead encourage you, gently correct you, and above all, point you to Jesus. There are actually a few different women in my life (plus my pastor, who is not a woman :D) who fit that criteria, but my assistant pastor’s wife is who I consider my ‘official’ spiritual mentor (it’s not really official at all, tho). She’s awesome. ❤

Tips for finding a spiritual mentor? Basically the same as for building good, deep friendships: open up. This doesn’t mean you have to spill your soul to everyone until you find the right mentor for you. I just kind of randomly opened up to Mrs. S. (my mentor) one time when we were texting. I didn’t know her super well, but she was the first person to talk with my family when we arrived at the church for our first ever service and she always seemed very friendly and nice. Anyway, I told her about something I was struggling with and she sent me back a SUPER long, helpful text that included an invitation to study the Bible with her. And here we are, three-ish months later!

Also, you can always ask God to send you a spiritual mentor. 😉

Wow. This post is super long. I hope at least some of these resources/thoughts were helpful. Please let me know what your favorite Christian resources, tips, etc. are!


when God says ‘no’ (+ 5 things to do when that happens)

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “He’s interested in someone else.”

Those words were a devastating blow to the months and months and months of hoping, praying, and crying I’d done about This One Guy. The whole thing had been an entirely new experience for me. Sure, I’d had crushes here and there (more like mindless infatuation, really) but I’d never felt this seriously about anyone. I really thought that this guy was maybe, hopefully the one for me, the one I’d end up marrying.

And then…the talk with his mom.

Everything bottomed out after I heard those words. I went home from church and sat in my family’s van and cried and prayed and read a bit of the Psalms. I called a friend from church and my pastor’s wife and my assistant pastor’s wife and talked to them about it. And then I came inside and my siblings made a special run to the store to get me chocolate ice cream (classic breakup food—not that it was a breakup :P) and I think I watched an episode of Sue Thomas F.B. Eye. (I make fun of that show but it’s been my go-to more than once when I need a break from stress or grief or anything.)

The thing is that I think God led me to talk to the guy’s mom and tell her how I felt. I kind of thought that after if found out that it wasn’t going to work, I’d be able to move on and be fine (though I knew I’d be crushed at first). I’m glad that I found out the truth instead of going on for months and months more, thinking that I had a chance, but it was it was also fun, y’know? Having that one person who you just really, really like and imagining a future, all of that. (Annnnnd this is why my pastor said that, in future, I should be careful to guard my heart so that I don’t get emotionally invested in a guy without knowing whether or not it’s God’s will. :P)

The bottom line is…

God said ‘no’.

And He’s God! If He makes it clear that something’s not His will, then you’re pretty much up against an immovable wall. (I know people do things out of His will every day, but do you get the difference? Like, I can’t make the guy fall in love with me. Any relationship I have in the future will have to be brought about by God because yeah. I just…can’t. Like, I could chase guys until I got one—maybe—but that’s so lame!)

How do you deal with that, when God says that to you? How am I dealing with it?

Well, in some ways, I’m not. *hides face* But here are a few things I’ve learned in the past couple of months (I’m still learning, learning, learning and I stumble and fall SO many times, so please don’t think that I’m some perfect Christian blogger).


When we pray, we aren’t just talking to ourselves (though it can sometimes feel that way). We’re talking to God. To Jesus. It’s getting alone with God, pouring out your heart before Him, telling Him exactly how you feel and then leaving it in His hands as a kind and loving Father Who will always do what’s best.

There may be a temptation to draw back from God, to give up on prayer, to think “What’s the use? What I was praying for didn’t happen. God didn’t give me the answer I wanted and He could have. He’s God, after all!” While I don’t remember if I’ve ever prayed a similar prayer, I know that it can be something in our hearts—even if we never specifically pray it to God. He knows what’s in the darkest corners of our heart too. We can’t hide anything from Him. And, truthfully, His will for your life is better than anything you could plan for yourself. He truly loves you! Please don’t ever doubt that, even when disappointment makes His love seem distant.

If you’re struggling to put your thoughts into words in order to pray, don’t stress about it! God knows our thoughts before we even think them. (Psalm 139:2b says “thou understandest my thought afar off“.)

An awesome thing to do if you can’t put your feelings into words is to start praying through the Psalms. David and the other psalmists seem to have experienced every emotion known to man and they poured out those feelings (under inspiration of the Holy Ghost) into gorgeous poetry. Often, one particular Psalm can capture your emotional state so perfectly that it seems weird not to pray it out to God, y’know?

Here are some great passages to read, pray through, and meditate on: Psalm 62:5-8, Psalm 57:1-2, Psalm 27, Psalm 9:9-11, Psalm 16, Psalm 30, Psalm 37:3-8, Psalm 71, Psalm 84:10-12, Psalm 91, and Psalm 138:7-8. And there are tons more! Those are just some that I’ve highlighted or have found really special to me, personally. Comment and tell me some Psalms that have helped you through a tough time—I’d love to check them out.

Do you have a support system? People—one, two, or more—who you can count on to be there for you with words of encouragement, hope, and good advice when you need it most? I hope so! I’m blessed to be surrounded by awesome, supportive people but there have been times when I either didn’t reach out to them or when I didn’t feel as though I actually had many people to turn to. (The particular time I’m thinking about is another blog post altogether—we’ll see.)

Like I talked about above, when I found out that the guy I was interested in was actually interested in someone else, there were three different people I called. I also talked with my sister and texted another friend in the church during that time. And then there was also my pastor a couple days later, plus the guy’s mom actually.

I feel really blessed to have all that support.

If you’re going through a tough time, reach out to the people around you. I know it can be really scary to do that, even if it’s someone you like and trust. Maybe you’re not sure how they’ll react or if they’ll actually be able to help you.

The truth is that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in troubles. He should be the One we turn to first. But He also puts people in our lives and He created us to need human interaction. He sets the lonely in families.

Don’t be content with surface conversations. Call someone up, arrange to meet them for coffee, and then let them know what you’re struggling with. Be honest and let them pray for you and walk with you through this time. Your relationship with them will be strengthened and it’ll be amazing in the end.

God is God. There are so many adjectives that we could use to describe Him. So many verses we could go to to explain Who He is. But sometimes in the middle of our day to day lives, we can lose sight of Him, even though we know He exists, that He’s there and that He sees and hears us.

It’s always a good idea to get alone by yourself and truly meditate on Who God is and what He’s done for us. I don’t know about you, but when I really start to think of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and the amazing love that poured into that sacrifice…it really puts my problems into perspective. How can I sit around feeling sorry for myself when Someone literally died for me? When He loves me so much, has done so much for me?

When I was struggling with a different problem, I started a list of truths about God and then wrote out verses to support each truth. I didn’t do nearly as much on that list as I should have, but maybe I’ll return to it someday. I highly recommend that you start your own list as well!

Our hearts are deceitful and when we’re led by our emotions, our lives become a roller-coaster. I don’t feel loved. I don’t feel like God is there. I don’t feel as though He’s actually kind and merciful. I don’t feel forgiven.

Thankfully feelings don’t equal truth. God’s Word is truth. Jesus is truth. We all need to return to the Bible every single day to discover truths about God, meditate on them, and let Who He is and what He’s done calm our spirits and increase our love for Him.

Yep, I’m still sad about the whole thing. Sometimes I cry quite a bit, even though it’s been *quickly checks journal* close to two months since I found out about The Realities of Life. (#traumaqueen) And the thing is, it’s totally okay to grieve—even if it’s two years (or more) since you’ve been hurt. God doesn’t put a time limit on our grief. We do, however, need to guard our heart against becoming bitter, jealous, hateful, or any other sinful emotion. We need to keep taking our tears to God, giving the pain over to Him, and letting Him do what He wants with our lives. Because…

Joy comes in the morning.

He gives beauty for ashes.

His mercies are new every morning.

He makes everything beautiful in its time.

Our expectation is from Him.

And He loves us. So grieve, yes. But always, always remember Who your God is. Don’t turn from Him. Instead, run toward Him with every problem.

You’ve prayed. You’ve cried. You’ve cried to friends. You’ve cried out to God. You feel as though you’ll probably never be happy again. You’ve eaten way too many carbs in the past few days.

Well, it’s time to do something.

I’m not saying that you have to run a 5K marathon. Or wash the dishes, even. Just something as simple as making your bed. Or putting on some fun earrings. Or reading a book to your little sibling. The big things can come later. Right now is the time to take one baby step forward.

Done that? Looking for more? Well, what I’ve found is that throwing yourself into activities doesn’t take away your feelings or your grief or anything of that. Only God can turn your sorrow into true joy. But getting things accomplished is helpful in a couple different ways: one, it does provide a distraction and two, when you push yourself to spend time with friends, make a delicious supper, work, garden, etc., you’re still moving forward and doing good things. Not doing anything and regretting it is one of the worst feelings.

In the last couple of months, I’ve worked on a couple different writing projects, made supper almost every night (cooking is the besssst), done church projects and activities, spent time with friends, and more. I still struggle! But I’m glad that I can look back on those two months and see that I did stuff with my life.

So when you feel ready, do a little something. You’ve got this. ❤


Wow. That ended up being super long. Thanks for hanging in there! And now I want to hear from you guys: what are some of your tips for working through grief, trauma, heartbreak, etc.? Let me know in the comments. ❤


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