Twenty Lessons for Twenty Years

So…today is the big day. My twentieth birthday. 

And if I’m totally honest, I feel no different than I did yesterday.

Nonetheless, in the tradition of posting a blog-per-birthday, I decided to write about twenty things that I’ve learned over the last twenty years.

And I hope you enjoy reading them!

  1. Trust God – I know that I used this one last year, but it is still so relevant! Every year life changes, and we are faced with new challenges, trials, and oppositions. Nonetheless, in the midst of this God is always constant. He was, and is and is to come (Revelations 1:8) and He never changes or acts inconsistently. Through all of life’s trials, we can always turn to Him for guidance and direction.
  2. Hold onto your true friends – As we go throughout life, it’s likely that we’re going to meet tons of people. Some are going to enter our lives and some are going to exit. Nonetheless, through all of this it is so important that we keep our true friends close! Friends are hard to come by, and when you come across the ones that will stand by you no matter what, don’t let them go! They’re one of life’s rare gems.
  3. Stay true to yourself – God has crafted each one of us into something unique and special. We were all created with innate worth and potential. And, in a world where everyone is trying so hard to fit in, it is so much better to stand out – making the choice everyday to be true yourself and live your life with confidence in Christ!
  4. Stay close to family – The older you get, the more you realize how important your family really is – and how short of a time that you have with them. Make the most of the time that you have with your parents, grandparents, and relatives. More than likely, they have a lot of wisdom that they’ve obtained over the course of their lives – and they’ll always be your biggest cheerleaders!
  5. Appreciate the small moments – Because one day, those small moments will be big moments.
  6. Chase your dreams – In the words of a song by 33 Miles, “You only get just one time around, you only get one shot at this…one try, one ride, one life.” Don’t be afraid to make this life everything that you want to to be – and go after your goals with the confidence that you can achieve them.
  7. Working hard pays off – Sometimes, hard work isn’t easy or fun in the moment, but it pays off in the long run. Put your all into every project, every job, and every assignment that comes your way. I promise you won’t regret it!
  8. Make a difference – Every day we are given the chance to make a difference in someone’s life – no matter how small it might seem. Don’t waste the opportunities that God has given you to be a light for Him, and make someone’s day a little brighter.
  9. Hard times never last forever – Each one of is going to face trials and tribulations in this life. It’s part of living in a fallen world. But we’ve all been there, and it will get easier. Don’t forget to reach out to God, family, and friends during these times. Sometimes, we all need to ask for help, and we all need somebody to talk to.
  10. Don’t be ashamed to rest – None of us were made to keep going 24/7. There’s nothing wrong with resting, and taking a break after a day of hard work. We all need rest sometimes, so we’re refreshed to keep going in our daily lives and tasks.
  11. Life is more than the things you post – In the modern world, it can be so tempting to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to post a picture on Instagram, or a quote on Twitter, but life is so much more than that. Don’t forget to live in the moment, and forget about your social media for a little while.
  12. Age is just a number – Sometimes, once you get into your teens, birthdays can get a little scary. You’re faced with the realization that you’re getting older, and you have a lot of life decisions ahead of you. But sometimes, it’s best not to focus on the number, and just do what you need to do each day, which brings me to my next point…
  13. Take one day at a time – Jesus actually gives this same piece of advice in Matthew 6:34. He says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” If you take one day at a time, life becomes a lot easier to handle.
  14. Find something that you love to do – For me, hobbies have always been a great way to relax and have fun. They help us to de-stress from the responsibilities of the day and give us an outlet to pour our energy into. Personally, my main hobby is writing—but for you, it may be any number of things, from singing, to sewing, to soccer. Find out what it is – I promise you won’t regret it.
  15. Don’t make a SO your whole life – For those of you who don’t know, ‘SO‘ is a trendy term for a ‘significant other‘. And the reason I use this term is because it’s not just a girl problem—guys do this too. Since I’ve gotten to college, I’ve seen more and more people get so consumed in a boyfriend or girlfriend that they forget about everything else around them. There’s nothing wrong with dating, but never get so wrapped up in the person you’re dating that you forget the other important areas of your life.
  16. Stand up for what you believe in – Never be afraid to use your voice and stand up for what you believe in. It can often be scary to share your views, whether they be a belief in God, a political opinion, or a cause that you feel strongly about, but it’s so worth it. Speaking up can make a real difference, and they say that one spark starts a fire. Never be afraid to speak out.
  17. But do this with gentleness and respect – Branching off of the last topic, as important as it is to stand up for your beliefs, it is also important that you do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). It is important that we respect those around us, and present each of our beliefs and views with love.
  18. Don’t be afraid to try new things – I’ll be the first to admit that I hate change. Nonetheless, sometimes change can be good. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
  19. Take the time to appreciate beauty – Every day we are surrounded by beauty in this world – whether it be a kind word or a beautiful flower that we see outside. Take the time to appreciate these things, or as the old saying goes, ‘take time to smell the roses‘.
  20. Celebrate life’s accomplishments – You know, like writing a post to celebrate getting older. That sort of thing.😉

There you go! Twenty lessons for twenty years! I hope you enjoyed reading these, and if you have anything that you’d like to add, feel free to write it in the comments section! I’d love to hear your thoughts!😃

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#AmbivertProblems

Recently I learned something fairly interesting about myself.

Something shocking, that shook the very corners of my mind.

I am not fully extraverted. 

Instead, I’m an ambivert (in case you’re wondering, this does not mean I have special powers).

What is an ambivert, you ask? According to the Myers Briggs personality test, an ambivert is sort of a hybrid between an introvert and an extravert. It’s when you’re too introverted to be extraverted and too extraverted to be introverted. So…you fit nowhere.

I actually figured this out recently through a discussion with my mom. Both her and I came out as extraverted on the Meyers Briggs personality test a couple of years back. Nonetheless, it was sort of a mystery to me why she always seemed so much more outgoing than I was. It wasn’t that I was shy—I grew out of that in high school. It also wasn’t that I didn’t like being around people—honestly, I love interacting with others.

So, what was my deal? Why is it that I sometimes suddenly get quiet in social settings, or sometimes need to go to my room after a long day out of the house? Apparently, it’s because I can function like both an introvert and an extravert. Because I literally got almost half and half every time on the test, I have tendencies of both types within my personality.

And this is what it looks like in real life.

1. I can relate to both introvert and extravert problems. 

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I literarely go crazy if there’s silence for a long period of time. In a social setting, I prefer that at least one person in the group is talking, and when I’m alone, I like to play music for background noise. On the other hand, I’m not always going to be the one to initiate small talk. I often strongly prefer listening to talking, unless I have something important to say, and sometimes get energized simply by watching other people talk. I get energy from being around people, but in social environments, I often come off as more of an introvert

2. Depending on who I’m around, my extraversion levels can go way up or way down. 

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I’m not the same level of “talkative” around every person that I meet. When I’m with my closest friends, or talking with my family, I can be super extraverted. However, when I’m in a room full of strangers, I immediately get worn out and quiet. It’s not that I’m not open to meeting new people—I totally am. I just feel less energized. It takes more out of me to be social, and sometimes, I need sort of a ‘social hiatus‘. I shut down, daydream, and go into my own internal world—often without even realizing it, in order to try to quickly ‘recharge‘. I need a burst of energy so that I can keep going.

3. On the other hand, I sometimes shut down around people I know. 

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If I’ve been out of the house for a long time, in a super talkative and high paced environment, I sometimes get quiet regardless of who I’m with. Like in the last scenario, I don’t do it on purpose, and I’m often really enjoying myself. But I have a difficultly keeping my energy levels up. I can’t think of anything to say and I start to feel as if I had just run a marathon. I get a boost of energy when I first get to the destination, but after a while, that energy levels begins to wane.

4. I often crave deeper connections, but don’t quite know how to get there 

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As an ambivert, I function best when when I’m around people that I have a deep, meaningful connection with. I value close friendships and ties between family members, and feel happiest when I’m around people who I know like the back of my hand. Nonetheless, getting to that place isn’t always easy for me. Between being somewhat private by nature, and an ambivert, it can be hard for me to forge close friendships—especially when I’m around a lot of people I don’t know very well.

5. Sometimes, I honestly don’t know what I want 

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When you walk the fine line between being energized around people and getting drained after being around them too long, trying to figure out what you need at the moment can be a real challenge.

6. Nonetheless, despite all of that, there are still perks to the ambivert life. I can relate to both introverts and extraverts and appreciate both time with people and time alone. 

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“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 

How about you? Do you function more as an extravert, an introvert, or an ambivert? I’d love to hear about you guys in the comments below! 

Growing Up On 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl

Hi everyone, I hope that you had an awesome Easter and a wonderful stuff-your-face-with-candy-day-after-Easter! I know I did, and if you want to see some of the pictures, you can feel free to see them on my Instagram page here.

For those of you who don’t know, or who are new around here, I’ve been publishing blogs on this site since I was seventeen years old. As a college student who’s now almost twenty (eek!), I’m pretty proud to admit that!

Nonetheless, with time comes change (Even though as an ENFJ with a hard J, I’d prefer nothing changed—ever!), and the older I’ve gotten, the more stumped I’ve become for topics. For those who are worried, I’m not planning on breaking up with this blog anytime soon (love you guys!), but I am planning on making a few changes around here.*

You see, over the past three years, I’ve mostly used this blog as a place to publish articles on all things faith, growing up, and living. I’ve addressed a pretty wide range of topics too, ranging from social issues, to politics, to relationships, to friendships, to living confidently in Christ. However, going forward I would like to expand my horizons. Rather than making this blog soley about various challenges and issues that we face as young Christians, I’d like to make this about all-things-life.

My goal has always been to keep this blog real, and lately, I feel like I’ve been struggling to do that. Because if I’m honest, there is so much more that I’d like to share with you guys besides just articles. I’d like to share about my random thoughts and musings. I’d like to share about that-really-awesome book that I just read the other day. I’d like to share about what God’s teaching me, and interesting experiences going on in my day-to-day life. I’d like to make this blog a journey—where we both travel to figure out the Christian life together. 

The last three years have honestly brought about so many changes, challenges, and new things that it’s hard to believe that it’s been just three years. Somehow, I’ve transformed into a high school senior just starting to grow into her own skin to a young adult—making decisions about college, life, and my career. I’ve graduated, had my first part-time-job, worked my first internship, made new friends, and experienced many ups-and-downs of life. It would be a lie to say that I’m exactly the same person that I was when I started. It would also be a lie if I said that my blog hasn’t already evolved into something much different than it was when I launched it back in 2015.

So let’s keep growing. Keep learning. And keep traveling together.

One step at a time.

Trusting God all the way.

*As you may have noticed, I already changed the layout to a pretty sweet new one! 

A Poem For Easter

Hey everyone, I wrote a poem for Easter and decided to post it in celebration of Resurrection Sunday! 

I hope you guys enjoy it! 

Everything can change in a moment 

From what it was before 

Everything can change in an instant 

When salvation is knocking on your door 

 

The blood and sweat mix together in a tragic harmony 

On that dreaded fateful day

When our Lord was crucified on the cross

As our sins were washed away 

 

The earth went dark, there was a spark 

In Heaven as He tore the veil 

Sealing fate for all who make 

Him a part of their life and will 

 

With one last breath He looked ahead 

And said “not my will but thine” 

As His soul was committed to the Father and there was darkness in the sky 

 

His heart went out, His mercy fell, in an act of love and life 

A death and burial for us all in an act that was love personified

Three days passed as the disciples stood waiting for a direction or a sign 

Trying to discern the Lord’s will, not knowing this was an act divine 

 

 

Three days passed and so it seemed 

That hope was wearing thin 

Until the tomb was visited, by an angel and two women 

 

Yes, an angel appeared to give the news

He said to them “Fear not!” 

“For the one you look for is no longer here, no He is now long gone

Christ has risen from the dead, go tell the world good news”

This was a day for celebration, when all that He said had come true

 

This is the miracle of Easter 

A story passed down of old 

This is the story of Easter 

And it is a story meant to be told

 

Everything can change in an instant 

When Jesus comes into our lives 

Everything can change in a moment 

Because of the love of Christ 

Happy Easter!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

 

 

 

Real Talk About Relationships: A Post For Valentine’s Day

Relationships.

Admittedly, this is a topic that I haven’t talked much about on my blog. It’s also probably the one topic that most people would expect to see on a teen blog. For years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to address this topic here, and have never really come to a resolution.

Nonetheless, lately, I feel very much compelled to address it, and I feel that it’s about time I did a post on dating relationships

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You see, the reason I’ve never posted about relationships on here is because I’ve never been in one myself. And I have always felt sort of inadequate to give advice on such a complicated topic. Throughout high school, I was always heavily immersed in what some have dubbed “the Christian subculture“. Almost none of my friends dated. Almost none of my friends were even allowed to date. So, when I started this blog, I focused on things that I either knew something about or current social issues that could be easily resolved through research.

Needless to say, dating didn’t exactly make the cut.

Considering I barely had a fully formed view of dating relationships in high school, I decided to hold off on this topic until later—when I had more insight into the topic. Admittedly, I’m not much further along than I was a couple of years ago, but I do feel more equipped to speak about dating at this point. In fact, my lack of knowledge serves as sort of a lesson in itself for this post.

Christians need to talk about relationships. 

In the midst of relationship messiness, we as young people need instruction. And most of us, if we’re really honest, are seriously lacking in dating-expertise. 

Speaking on behalf of Christian teens (of which I still sort of qualify, at nineteen years old), most of us half been hit with dating theories left and right. Many, which my friend Emily so apty pointed out, that are born more out of fear than wisdom. We’re bombarded with a billion prerequisites that go beyond the realm of Biblical truth.

We’re expected to know if we can marry them before our first date. We put up so many boundaries that we throw trust, intuition, and normal interaction out the window. We’re encouraged not to “get too attached” or “give our heart away” while on the hunt our soul mate. We’re encouraged to start dating at eighteen, and get married three or four years later, because it would be simply dreadful to end up as an ‘old maid‘ at twenty four.

It’s enough to make you want forget dating altogether and live vicariously through chick flicks and Nicholas Sparks novels. 

Nonetheless, lately, despite my own lack of experience with dating, I have started thinking more actively about dating relationships and what makes for a good relationship—as I’ve discussed the topic with friends and talked about it with my mom.

Thus, I would like to keep it simple, and list some of the basic principals that I believe equal a healthy relationship.

Love, Honor, and Trust.

For many of us, it has been all too easy to grow up with presuppositions about the opposite gender—especially for us gals. I’ve spoken about it previously in relation to male-female friendships, but the struggle is all too real with dating relationships.

Between TV, movies, and offhand comments from well meaning people, girls aren’t taught to hold out for a man with self-control. We’re taught that all men are all basically walking hormones—and within this toxic teaching, we fail to teach girls to wait for someone they can trust. As a culture, we’ve failed to differentiate between normal, self-controlled, imperfect guys with struggles and sexual predators.

Even Christians have often been guilty of making excuses for inappropriate behavior—thus choosing to stereotype our brothers in Christ rather than assume the best about the majority of men. Because of this, too many girls have come to expect the worst of guys, and stayed with toxic, abusive boyfriends—brushing it off as “typical male behavior”. Girls aren’t taught about warning signs to watch out for, and abusive men are often been brushed off as “normal”—creating a recipe for disaster.

As God’s children, fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, we deserve to be with someone who respects us and respects the God that we serve. We deserve a man who will treat us right and honor us. We deserve to know that there are still good guys left in the world, and that we ought not to settle for less than our best.

The Freedom of Not Knowing 

Sometimes, a date (or a courtship) can be just that. A date. Not an engagement; not a marriage proposal. It doesn’t make us shallow or a ‘serial dater’. It just makes us human. It just means that early in the relationship, we might not know if they’re the one. And that’s OK.

Expecting a person to know 100% who they’re going to marry when they’re still getting to know the other person and themselves is asking a lot. True, we should be someone we could potentially see ourselves marrying down the line. And true, they should have our core values and beliefs. But we don’t have to sign a contract on our first date. Sometimes, it’s OK to not know—that’s what the dating process is for. So we can get to know them. We don’t have to book a chapel on our first date, just as long as we treat the other person right, and don’t lead them on.

Listen To The Voices 

Oftentimes, our intuition can be a helpful aid in making big decisions, such as ‘who to date’. While we shouldn’t solely listen to our intuition, we shouldn’t ignore it altogether either. This pertains both to the specific person and to our standards. Do guys who are quick to anger make you nervous? Then stay away. Do you want a guy with certain core values, like honesty and integrity. Listen to that. Oftentimes, problems arise when we refuse to listen to our gut and the Holy Spirit’s counsel and try to rationalize behavior that we know is wrong. Don’t ignore that still small voice in the midst of strong feelings.

In addition to listening to our own intuition, it’s important to hear out what others have to say. Friends and family can provide insight on things that we haven’t even considered. Furthermore, it can be easy for judgement to get cloudy in the midst of a feelings for another person. If we listen to our voice and the voice of others—including God, through prayer and Bible study, we’ll save ourselves from a lot of mistakes and heartache.

Be OK with singleness

Too often, society and the church elevate marriage and dating relationships so much that they isolate people who are single—either out of calling, or for a period of time. Single people are often viewed with suspicion, or as somehow ‘less-than’ compared with their married counterparts.

Nonetheless, both statuses are fully respected in God’s eyes. Whether we eventually marry or not, we’re all likely to be single for at least some period of time. It’s important that we all learn to be comfortable with ourselves before we jump into a relationship with someone else. Ultimately, God is the only one who can give us true joy, and when we replace God with anything else—even a good thing, we will always be disappointed.

How about you? Do you have any relationship advice that you’d like to share? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section! It’s always great to hear your thoughts!

 

 

Thoughts And Ramblings Of A Christian Writer: Part Four (The Final Part!!!)

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. – Richard Bach

Today is the last part in my writer’s series, and perhaps the most dreaded—Editing.

 

For many writers, editing is the most overwhelming part of the process. Throughout the early first draft, we’re running mostly on creativity and fresh inspiration. The process is new, and oftentimes, we can’t wait to get our ideas down on the page. We can see it all in our minds like a movie, and we celebrate when we make it to the end of our story.

Editing, on the other hand, is different. It’s left brain. It’s practical. It means changing material that sounded really good a couple of days ago. It means reading your work through the eyes of a critic. And most writers don’t enjoy it nearly as much as the initial creative process. In fact, editing can make you feel a little like these memes bellow.

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And, at times, we may even feel a little like this guy.

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(As a new Dawson’s Creek fan, you had to know this would make its way into one of my posts eventually.😜)

Nonetheless, as stressful as editing can be, it is an absolutely essential part of the writing process. As good as our stories are, they’re never finished at the rough draft. Writing is a journey. And, like every journey, it takes hard work and dedication to make our stories the best that they can be.

According to thebookdesigner.com, there are four different types of editing: Big Picture Editing, Paragraph Level Editing, Sentence Level editing, and Word Level Editing.

Big Picture Editing means taking a look at your writing from a bird’s eye view. It means looking at your story and making sure that structurally, everything makes sense. There are no plot holes. There’s nothing that sounds, weird, or off, or incoherent. Hopefully, most of the big-picture of the book was structured carefully before and during the writing process, but if you have noticeable errors, they can still be fixed as you edit your manuscript. Remember—that’s the whole point of editing. To make your draft as good as possible before sending it to a publishing house (or, pursuing the route of self publishing).

Paragraph Level Editing is a little different. Like Big Picture Editing, it is largely about structure, but this type of editing involves changing sentence and paragraph structure to make the content easier to read and more coherent to the reader. This could mean clarifying sentences, adding detail, cutting fluff, and giving the book an overall “feel” or “tone”.

Sentence Level Editing, on the other hand, is more about mechanics. It’s where we get down to the nitty-gritty of our prose, and fix grammar mistakes and minor details that may have been lost in a sea of words. For instance, is the character’s last name “Jones” in one sentence and “Smith” in another? Does the protagonist’s best friend remain a brunette throughout the story? It sounds silly, but these kind of details can be easy to miss in a three-hundred page novel. It is important, for the reader’s sake, that all of this is addressed before the book is released into the hands of the world.

Last but not least, we have Word Level Editing, which is arguably the easiest and most basic kind of editing. This kind of writing addresses things such as spelling, typos, and punctuation. It is the kind of editing that many of us are familiar with from our days in elementary school, when we learned the basics of English and took standardized tests where we filled-in-the-bubble-for-the-correct-word.

I hope that these last four parts have been helpful and enjoyable to read for you guys! Admittedly, I’m still an amateur myself, but my prayer is that we can all learn, grow, and encourage each other on our journey to becoming better writers.

Writing has always been my passion and I know that I personally have loved delving deep into the world of fiction writing on my blog!

If you have any comments, please feel free to post them in the comments section! I always love hearing from you guys! 

Thoughts And Ramblings Of A Christian Writer – Part Three

Let’s be honest. Each one of us, if we’re telling the truth, wants to write something that leaves a lasting mark on this world.

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Each of us, as a writer, has a story inside of us that needs to come out.

Each one of us has a story that we want to bring to life.

Each one of us has something to say.

Each one of us wants to say something that matters.

This is where the concept of a “theme” comes in. A theme, in short, is the lesson, moral, or a concept of a story. And as authors, especially Christian authors, the concept of a theme is absolutely essential to our stories. It’s the meat and depth of our novel. It’s the heart and soul of our prose.

In my experience and observations, a theme can come into the picture in really any stage of the planning process. For some people, it’s easiest to start with the theme and structure the storyline around it. For others, myself included, it’s easiest to come up with the plotline first and than zoom into the lesson that you want to teach. The order doesn’t matter so much as the lesson that you choose to teach through your story. No one else can choose it for you. It has to come from your own heart, passion, and experience. It has to be something universal and unique—something that will inspire your readers in their own real, day-to-day-life. 

Personally, when I’m in the process of discovering my story’s themes, I do some soul searching—as I try to figure out what message I can convey through the storyline and what God has put on my heart to incorporate into my story. Oftentimes, I can even draw from my own life, as I think of things that I wish that I had known when I was younger. A theme, in short, can be anything from the importance of close friendships, to the problem with censorship, to the transforming power of faith in God. 

According to an article on www.novel-writing-help.com/what-is-theme-,html, “Theme is the deeper layer of meaning running beneath the story’s surface. While the surface story entertains the readers, the theme helps them to reach a new understanding of some aspect of the human condition.

Thus, while the story’s surface intention is to entertain, the story’s theme adds an extra, hidden dimension to a novel. It gives it depth, and helps us recognize things about ourselves and our world—much like how Jesus’ parable’s teach us important lessons about God and the world that we live in.

As humans, we’re all different, but we all experience many of the same experiences, hopes, and desires. Stories with strong themes capture this, and help us to see that we’re not alone. We find that other people have shared our same struggles and challenges, and have come out on the other side. When we delve deep into a novel’s theme, we often find that we’re not as alone as we think. 

As Christians, we have a guiding source of truth, which is God and His Word. Through spending time with God in prayer and reading our Bible regularly, we can develop strong themes and guiding principles for our writing (and life!). Thus, if you’re writing a story, I’d highly encourage you to look to Scripture for inspiration about your story’s theme. Like with anything else, God’s Word is always our best place to start. 

Some books that have gotten it right

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

Some movies that have gotten it right 

Do You Believe? 

Soul Surfer 

Freaky Friday 

Inside Out 

Dangerous Minds

How about you? What are your thoughts on creating a “theme” for your novel? Is there anything you’d like to add to this discussion? If so, please feel free to share it in the comments section below! Discussion is always encouraged here!😃