Monday, December 3, 2018

Celebrating Christmas With Our Lost Loved Ones

The other day I switched my Pandora station to play a Country Christmas station. Scotty McCreery's Christmas in Heaven sounded through the speakers and I hung onto every word that touched my ears. It was beautiful. Sad, but beautiful. I nearly started crying as I thought of the loved ones who have gone before me. My grandfather's face was clear in my mind. I began to wonder what McCreery had sang in his song:

"Is the snow falling down on the streets of gold?
Are the mansions all covered in white?
Are you singing with angels "Silent Night"

It made me sad at first, thinking of loved ones in heaven, but then I realized they are with the King. They are worshiping Jesus. They are face to face with Our Savior. My wondering turned to curiosity instead of sorrow. While there is still an ache of grief, there is a joy in that realization. Christmas is about celebrating Jesus. Our loved ones are celebrating in Heaven and we are celebrating here on Earth until our time comes to join them. 

The holidays can be rough when there has been loss. It doesn't matter how long it has been, the ache is still there, whether in the forefront of one's mind or in the back of one's memory. I pray that during this Christmas season those who grieve find joy in even the little things. May they feel God's peace and comfort around them. I pray they remember to celebrate Jesus' birth. May they contemplate the reason for the season. I pray they remember their loved ones are singing with Jesus. May they join in singing praises to the Lord on High.

Merry Christmas and God bless you all!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Travels and Thankfulness

Last month I was blessed to go on a trip with a very close friend. It had been roughly six months since I had last seen her and we were both in a place in our lives where we just needed a break. God's timing was perfect and He gave us the trip we needed. It was a trip to grow our friendship, a trip to refresh our souls, and a trip to grow closer to Him.

I had never been to Outer Banks, North Carolina and I was ecstatic to go. My friend and I had been counting down for months and the night of my departure finally arrived. I had an overnight flight, which are actually becoming a favorite of mine. I mean, who doesn't love running on caffeine and being surrounded by sleep deprived human beings? Besides, airports seem quieter during the late night/early mornings and less...chaotic. Also, I'm an author and a people watcher. I find it fascinating to watch people interact with each other and their surroundings. It gives me material for my writing and when it is really late at night, it's quite amusing too.

My flights went smoothly with only the minimal delays, very adorable crying infants, and a lot of sailors. My seat row mates were pleasant, probably because they slept most of the time and one of them was a dog. I ran into at least three sets of twins in the airports and was able to help a sweet mom with her twins while we waited for a flight. I was served coffee and a pastry by the most genuinely happy Starbucks employee I've ever seen, and I was picked up by my friend and her family with hugs all around.

It would take too many pages to even summarize my trip. But I'll just say, it was amazing. Just enough activities to see parts of Outer Banks and just enough downtime to relax on the beach. I laughed so much in the week I was literally sore. My friend and I made a habit to go to bed "early" because we needed hours to just talk and quiet time to read our Bibles together. The week was a time to invest in relationships: our relationship with God, our relationship with her family, and our own friendship. It was a time to let go of the stress of life and simply enjoy ourselves, which we did.

So in the month dedicated to thankfulness, I am thankful for this opportunity and thankful for the incredible friendship I have been given. I'm also thankful for my Heavenly Father, who knows just what we need and when we need it. He refreshed my spirit. He strengthened a friendship. He drew me closer to Him. For that I am thankful.

What are you thankful for this month?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

God is good. God is faithful.

My sincerest apologies for missing September's blog post. It's was a crazy month and time got the better of me.

For the last week I have been sick and while it is quite miserable being sick, it has been a week of some much needed solitude and rest. I've watched more tv than is probably good for me and slept many more hours than is usual. The best part of resting was the time I had to think and talk with God. There is something about being able to forget life's craziness and just rest in Jesus. He used this time to remind me of couple important lessons.

The first being, that it is okay to ask for help and depend on others. Now I wouldn't call myself an independent woman. A stubborn woman, yes. I don't like being a burden on people. I don't like asking for help when others are already busy. I would rather wear myself to the bone than be an inconvenience. So I am learning to be dependent to a healthy degree. God reminded me of this at the beginning of this week's sickness. He told me to let my family help me so that I use what energy I had to let my body heal. This didn't mean I could be lazy, but rather that I needed to be aware of my limitations and speak up when something was outside of those limits. I'll be honest. It's been hard for me. But God is good and He is faithful.

The second being, don't worry about tomorrow. Did you know stress can actually affect your health? Stress can lower your immune system, which in turn makes you more susceptible to illnesses. When I began to feel sick, I immediately started getting stressed about the things I had to do: work, writing projects, helping out at church, and several events. I had this mentality that "I have to be better by ___". As if I had any control over when I would be better! But God is gracious and He gently reminded me that everything happens in His timing and His timing is good and perfect. So I cancelled stuff, I missed events, I put aside projects, and I rested in Jesus. The other night I caught myself worrying about an event in a few days and I shook my head and said aloud, "I don't need to worry. It's all in God's timing." And that was that. I put it out of my mind and let God take control.

So what important things has God been teaching you? Do you need to learn to be healthily dependent on others? Do you need to stop worrying about tomorrow? Whatever He is teaching you, I pray you cling to Him in all that you do. May you find peace in Him during life's chaos. May you have moments of stillness to think and reflect with Jesus. May you be reminded of all the good things He has done. God bless you, dear reader.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Having Patience in a Rushed Society

We live in a society that constantly wants the next best thing and wants it now. If something doesn't happen immediately it is written off as never going to happen. Now don't get me wrong, not everyone does this. There are lots of hardworking dreamers out there that push back against society's standards. They work hard for what they want and they take life one step at a time with determination to succeed. But even they get discouraged. Even they get impatient. It's human nature.

Impatience is caused by society's standards constantly being thrust upon a person. It adds a whole lot of stress nobody wants. Society likes to put a timeline on life. It's all about graduating high school with a 4.0+ GPA, going straight into college, getting a masters, starting a career, moving up the employment ladder, increasing one's salary, marrying the "perfect" person, having the "perfect" kids, buy the "perfect" house, the "perfect" car, and retiring by 50.

Yeah right, totally going to happen. Not. It's just not realistic. And besides, society is so messed up that as soon as one person achieves the "perfect" standard, the next person has to do better. Society moves so fast that no one will ever really catch up. There isn't such a thing as "good enough". People are just tiring themselves out trying to reach something that isn't reachable. Each person's life is different. What is good for one person isn't necessarily good for the other. We each have a special path to go down. So how does one have "success" in life? How do we live in a world of rushed society without completely running ourselves into the dirt? How do we be patient and take the path we were meant to take?

Glad you asked. Patience requires trust. Not trust in an outcome, but trust in a person. That person is Jesus. Thankfully we have a God who is trustworthy, all powerful, kind, loving, worthy of respect. He sees the whole picture. God knows the beginning of our life story, the middle, the end. He knows all the trials we shall face, the victories we shall have, and the impact our lives will make. It isn't up to us to "make it happen". That's God's job. We are His tools, for His glory and not for our own. We live according to His timeline, not society's. In His timeline, God says "do not worry"(Matt 6:36), "rest in Me"(Matt 11:28), "for I know the plans I have for you"(Jer 29:11), "do as to the Lord and not to men"(Col 3:23), "Wait upon the Lord"(Isa 40:31).

Don't try and make it happen, you'll only tire yourself and get discouraged. Wait upon the Lord, lean on his wisdom and guidance. Seek His will for your life and be faithful to stop and listen. Be patient in His timing. His timing is perfect. You may have to wait years for something to happen. And it may never happen at all. It is all up to the will of God. But I can tell you this, if you are patient and it does happen, it shall be so much sweeter than if you were to try and make it happen all on your own. When you have patience and wait on God, you remove the pressure of doing it on your own, you take away society's grip on you.

I know what it is to wait for something to happen. I also know what is it is like to try and make it happen all on my own. It's exhausting. And trust me, it is so much better waiting on Jesus. I went against the norm and didn't go to college. Society told me to let my dream stay just that, a dream. But I decided to be an author instead. I felt God calling me to write with Him and He has blessed me by opening doors I never imagined being opened. I've written two manuscripts, sent one in for publication, and been declined several times, but I'm not giving up because I trust in God's timing. It's discouraging in the moment but when I think on the greatness of our Lord, I remember that His ways are higher than my own. So I wait. I practice patience. There are things in my life I have waited on the Lord for years. He has brought some of my waiting to an end but in other things I may end up waiting on Him for many more years to come. And that's okay with me. I've seen Him be faithful in different aspects of my life and I trust Him fully.

It's a struggle. A daily battle. But in the end it'll be worth it.

So what will you do? Will you have patience in a rushed society? Will you wait upon the Lord?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Wait Upon The Lord & He Shall Renew Your Strength

Wait upon the Lord and he shall give you strength. Isaiah 40:31a. It has been my life verse for years and it is a verse I hold very close to my heart. Some people get new verses each years, some it varies. But mine has stayed the same. Whatever the reason is, I'm clinging to God's words. I'm clinging to God. I've seen God's provision time and time again. He is faithful when I call, even when I stumble along in my own knowledge before asking Him for help. God is gracious and He is my source of strength.

A life lived with Jesus isn't an easy one, but it is worth it. Every step is worth it. A relationship with Jesus is unlike any other. When you're stumbling, when you're too tired to go one, when life has pulled you down, turn to Jesus. He'll lift you up on wings like eagles. He'll refresh your spirit. He'll give you His strength. He is faithful in all things. Big and small.

Just think of how wonderful it is to have a relationship with someone who cares for you. It may be a parent, a sibling, a significant other, a best friend. As amazing as the times you have with them are, the love you feel, the memories you have created together, that person is still human and at some point will let you down. They still have faults. They will still let you down. This isn't meant to minimize the relationship we have with our fellow man. We need these people in our lives. God put them there for a reason. But this illustration is, rather, to maximize the relationship you can have with your Lord and Savior. He isn't human. He's God. He won't let you down. He had infinite strength, amazing love, endless grace, tender mercies. He is perfect. So perfect man cannot fully comprehend his nature. It blows my mind.

Walk with God. Lean on His love. Wait upon the Lord and He shall renew your strength.  <3

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Don't Just Write For God, Write With Him.

Writing is different for every writer. For some its an outlet, for some its a job, for some its a hobby, and for others it is simply something their good at.

Writing was a huge emphasis in school. My mom homeschooled us and I remember her telling us we needed to write everyday. It didn't matter what we wrote, if we added pictures, if the spelling was on point, or if the grammar was correct, none of it matter as long as we wrote something. As we grew up, we would learn to edit what we had written and this became a major foundation in my current writing process.

Writing turned into an outlet for me. Expressing myself verbally is difficult, especially when I am upset. But on paper, I can write my thoughts as fluidly as they come. It doesn't have to be spelled right or grammatically correct. No pressure. Just words on a page. I simply write what I feel. There were a lot of letters I wrote to explain what was going inside of me because I was unable to say it aloud.

Then writing became fueled by emotion. I started writing poetry. Tell me to write a poem and I could do it. It would be hard, but I could achieve it. But it flows more naturally when it stems from my emotions. When emotions weren't there, I relied on inspiration. Books, movies, music. Anything really. My stories are created through some spark of inspiration. I wrote my first book when I was eleven and the sequel six months later. I recognized that God gave me the ability to piece words together in some form of literature and was going to use my writing to glorify God. So that's what the first two books were writing for. For God.

Then I started my third book, the process was harder. I was 13, fresh into high school, life was crazy, and it was the first book I seriously wanted to publish. Trying to juggle school, several sports, have a social life, and write a novel was no easy feat. I kept saying I was writing for God. It took me a while to realize that while I was doing it for God, I was doing the heavy lifting without Him. It was for His glory, but I wasn't inviting Him into the process. I was trying to do it on my own. So I decided to change that. Before each writing session I started asking God to work with me.

Inviting God into your writing process helps take off the pressure that you have to make it happen. Whether its asking Him to give you the words to write, the target audience He wants you to aim for, the editors, agents, and publishers He wants you to submit to, intentionally invite God into your process. Pray over the manuscript before you send it in. God's will shall be done. If He wants your work with a particular group, then He shall make it happen. Work along side God. Don't just write for God. Write with Him.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Solitary Profession?

You may have heard it said before that writing is a solitary profession. It can be. But it doesn't have to be. It shouldn't be.

Writers need to be in contact with their "tribe" of fellow writers otherwise they are going to get swallowed up by the feeling of "I'm the only one". Whether via conferences, emails, clinics, writer Facebook groups, etc., we need one another to navigate the writing world, to learn from, and to spur on. Writing is a constant learning process. Things change over the course of time and what is desired in the industry now may not be in the future. Growth is not achieved by keeping to oneself but rather through an exchange of knowledge.

Critiques can feel like criticism and one person's opinion that goes against all others can be the one to stick with us forever. This is where our supporters step in. They remind us to stay true to who we are, that not everyone is going to love our writing (and that's okay), and to never give up. We get so wrapped up in our minds, so invested in our characters, and so anxious about what readers will think, that we can cripple our creativity. It is vital that we have someone to spur us on, someone we feel no pressure to from, and someone who simply believes in us.

As Earnest Hemingway put it, "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." There are writers who may produce better than others, who may have a few more books published that we do, who may have won several awards or even taught a handful of classes, but when it really comes down to it, we are all still writers. Some of us are just starting the journey and some of us have been plodding down this road for a long time. Each of us has a pace that works best and we must remember not to compare our "success" against another. After all, "success" in one writer's life looks completely different than another's. I believe success can not be measured against another's, can not be measured in numbers, in product sales. I'll readily admit I do not like the word. When you are thinking of where you stand, think about these questions: Did you put your heart into your creation, whatever it may be? Do you like it? Does it serve a purpose, however big or small? Are you proud to call it yours? Shouldn't that be enough?

My dear writer, keep writing. Be alone while you bring your stories to life if that is how you work best. But don't remain there. Get out and smell the roses. Attend a writing course or two. Brainstorm with friends. And if that isn't you, then be open to helping the writer that is. Include them into your "tribe", spur them on, trudge down in the trenches with them. Now if you are reading this and you aren't a writer, but you know one, then be willing to listen to their excited rambling, show interest in their characters, spur them on when the blank page is staring back at them. If you don't know a writer, than use this is life. Be a supporter. This world we live in can use a great deal more of those.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Connected By The Heart

God is good. He places people in our lives for a reason. His plans are perfect, His timing is perfect, He is perfect. I have seen Him work in my life as well as others around me. Four years ago, He gave me another sister-in-Christ. We live thousands of miles apart and only see each other maybe ever 6 months. We text 365 days out of the year and write letters 52 weeks out of the year. Yet we never run out of things to say. We have claimed each other as kindred spirits. Yet we can be like two sides of a coin.We know each other so well that we often forget that we haven't known each other all our lives. Yet there are always new things to discover about one another. She brings out the best of me, lets me be myself, listens and does not judge, comforts and encourages. She has a thousand times over proven her nickname, my Rainbow.

A few weeks ago, I was blessed to visit. After two flights, I headed toward baggage claim to find my friend and her family. I was rather mellow, due to the fact of being up for over 24 hours, with a 30 min nap and 2 1/2 cans of Coke. But the moment I saw her running toward me, her collection of key rings jingling on her backpack, grin wide with excitement, I perked up. I was ready for the 11 days we would have together.

It was a perfect mix of relaxation and activities. We wrote together, napped on the couch, watched movies, made cards, colored, sketched, snuck downstairs for midnight snacks. I bonded with her mom over tea, chocolate, and Hallmarks. We played games with the family. I discussed life as a writer with her older sister (who is wonderful author). Rain, her mom, grandma, and I took a road trip to Nashville, TN to see the Belle Meade Plantation and Parthenon. I got to feel a light snow fall into my hair in April! Rain, her sister, and their mom introduced me to Annie May's Sweet Cafe in Louisville, KY, which was amazing. We drove up to the Henryville overlook where I could see for miles over the darling little town. In the distance you could see the skyscrapers of Louisville. Rain, her mom, dad, and brother, and I walked the Big Four Bridge that stretches from Jeffersonville, IN to Louisville, KY on a Sunday afternoon. In the evenings, Rain and I would read a chapter of Psalms and a chapter of Proverbs and talk for hours until one of us would doze off on the other.

It was an amazing trip. So many beautiful memories were made. We cried our last night together. It is hard not knowing when you will see one another again. Even though we tossed around ideas for the next visit. Nothing is written in stone. Even though we talk everyday through some form of communication it is still hard to not be physically there for one another. Before I left to get on my plane, I hugged Rain and reminded us both that it was not goodbye, but a see you later. No matter how hard I try I can never fully describe the impact Rain has on my life, or the depth of our relationship. There is this warm comfort, a pure honesty, a tender transparency that we both share. It is beautiful. I thank God for her, daily. I pray that everyone has at least one person like this in their life. I have been blessed with several. And I believe it is important to have friends like this. Now I shall end this with a quote, that best describes Rain and I (and I am sure many other friends out there). "Side by side or miles apart, sisters will always be connected by the heart."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Another Writing Milestone

Yesterday afternoon I returned home from a weekend of growth, both as a writer and as a person. I attended the 49th Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference for the very first time and I am proud to say it was an incredible experience.

The weeks leading up to the conference were filled with frantic preparations, melt-downs, long prayers, and lots of stress. This was the biggest thing I had every done by myself and I'm not gonna lie, I was down right terrified. I had avoided thinking about the conference for as long I could, so much so that I lost track of how many days I had until my departure. I packed a few days in advance when I finally realized it was upon me, my worry switch from the conference itself to the idea of leaving something at home.

Friday came. I dragged myself out of bed, got ready, said my goodbyes and set off on out 2 1/2 hour drive with my dad. As most dad's must, he gave a mini pep talk including one of his favovite questions, "What makes a trip successful?" I am very used to this question and answered without hesitation, "That I come back loving God more, loving my family more, and loving others more." The rest of the journey was spent easing my nerves with music (anything from outlaw country to The Greatest Showman Soundtrack). Once at Mount Hermon, we checked in, found my cabin, walked around, and then the hard part... saying goodbye. The lovely Judy Gordon Morrow met me in hospitality followed by my awesome new friend Maddie, the wonderful Deb Gruelle, the encouraging Robynne Elizabeth Miller, and sweet Cynthia Ruchti. They all immediately made me feel at home. At lunch I met my next dear friend Rachel. We attended the Meet and Greet with authors, agents, publishers, editors. The event I must admit, scared me to death and Rachel kept me from hightailing it out of there. A workshop took me across "campus". After dinner I went to the General Session with the inspirational Liz Curtis Higgs. I was so exhausted at this point that halfway through worship, I broke down crying. I missed home, my twin sister, the quiet safety of my room. I was anxious and I couldn't stop thinking "What am I doing here? I can't do this. I shouldn't be here." Liz Curtis Higgs was amazing and her words took my mind away from my own thoughts. That evening I retreated to my cabin and found my new roommate, Angela, curled on the couch. We bonded over tea and talked for hours until exhaustion overtook us. 

Saturday morning came way too fast. At breakfast I voluntarily drank coffee (which was probably not a good combo with my anxiety). Had a panic attack. Slipped a PR to the extraordinary prayer team and hurried on to class. Susan Meissner's Fiction Track was amazing. Later, a dear friend gave me her appointment slot with a publisher, which after some convincing, I agreed to take and met with Sandra Barela from Celebrate Lit. She was super nice and my nerves melted away as she spoke with me. Lunch passed and I picked up my two advanced manuscript submissions, although I did not open them for an hour because I was scared of what I would find inside. Ginny L. Yttrup's Life Experience Fiction workshop that afternoon was inspirational, heart felt, and filled with amazing information. I was privileged to be in Susan Meissner's breakout critique group with several other brilliant writers. It was my first experience in a critique group and I loved it. The evening consisted of another General Session with Liz Curtis Higgs and a Personality workshop by Andrea Coli, which was exhilarating.

Sunday we had a Palm Sunday service and later I attended a Writing Acoustically workshop by Cynthia Ruchti, which I absolutely loved! Another General Session led to a Q&A with Francine Rivers, which was inspiring, fun, and (in my opinion) too short because I could listen to her all day!

Monday at breakfast I met Miralee Ferrell, which was a complete God thing because I had been told to find her earlier in the weekend and had sat down at a random table, where she ended up sitting at that morning. She was kind, engaging, and a pleasure to talk with. The Fiction Track and other workshops flew by. Then the class I had waited all weekend for finally arrived: Janice Thompson's The Pandora's Box of Personalization Method. Powerful. Amazing. Inspiring. Another breakout critique session pumped me up to continue writing my next book. The rest of the evening was a blur. I managed to stay awake through the other classes, general session, and autograph party.

Tuesday was bittersweet. Breakfast. Closing Ceremony. Waiting for transportation. There were lots of goodbyes, hugs, and see you laters. My body did not slip into complete exhaustion until I was in the car, with the monotonous sound of road running beneath the car, my mom's and my casual conversation, and the blur of scenery outside the window. God worked in amazing ways. Mount Hermon is gorgeous and God-centered and the people were encouraging and welcoming. The trip was a success. I came home loving God more, loving my family more, and loving others more. I am excited for the conferences in the future and highly encourage fellow writers to attend in the years to come!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Newest Adventure In The Writing Journey

On Saturday I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 2018 LIT Masterclass conference. The day was complete with several general sessions, breakout sessions for fiction and nonfiction writers,  two small group sessions with a writing coach. Lunch was provided and short breaks served as a wonderful opportunity to mingle with fellow writers, authors, and staff. It was an incredible day filled with community and knowledge that left me overflowing. God's love was evident among us all and I left feeling inspired.

However, it wasn't easy for me. I must confess that in the months leading up to the event I was extremely nervous, and dare I say terrified. I had only attended one other writers conference, which had been a year ago and with my loving dad accompanying me for support. That in itself was a huge accomplishment. Now here I was, going all by myself, driving roads I had never driven, and feeling completely unprepared. I was actually prepared, thoroughly so, but my brain likes to work overtime and stress me out to think I am not. The nights leading up to the conference were restless. My brain made its classic "think of everything that could possibly go wrong" list. To relax, I prayed for hours until I finally fell asleep. The Lord is so good and filled me with His peace. The morning of the conference, I woke refreshed and ready for the day. My parents, my sister, and my friends were encouraging as I left, promising to pray for me during the day. The drive to the conference was amazing. I listened to my favorite tunes, sang along, and not once had a fearful thought of the new adventure I had embarked on.

Then the hard part came as I eased the car into its parking spot. I had to get out of the car and go inside. My body wouldn't budge. I sat in the drivers seat for a few minutes, texted a few people, tried to think of excuses to stay in the car a while longer. Eventually I did get out of the car. Everyone was incredibly friendly. For sure I was uncomfortable, but I kept a smile on my face, forced myself to engage in conversations, and let God lead me though the rest. And He did. He gave me several ladies to hang out with during the day, enjoy lunch with, and bond over writing experiences. To my delight some of them were planning on going to the next conference I was to attend in March. I was also given the chance to catch up with a couple mentors I had met at the previous conference.

Attending the LIT Masterclass was a huge personal achievement and helped boost my confidence in my anticipation for the Mt. Hermon writers conference in March. I am fully relying on God to fill me with His spirit and to guide me in my next adventure. I strongly encourage fellow writers to seek out opportunities to attend Christian writing conferences around them. It is important for us as writers to surround ourselves with people who have similar passions, to build each other up as human beings, and encourage one another along our writing journeys. Writing is a never ending learning process we must cultivate through the knowledge and friendships of others and the presence of God.

Friday, January 12, 2018

“The noblest art is that of making others happy” ― P.T. Barnum

Hello Readers!

Over the holidays The Greatest Showman was released in theaters. The trailer was good and it looked like an enjoyable movie but I had no pressing desire to see it. I thought maybe I would rent it when it came into Red Box. After all, it is a musical, and I am not really a fan of musicals. When Annie, starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, came out in 2014, my opinion of musicals changed. The music was more modern and the songs seemed more fluid with the story telling. Last year Beauty and the Beast hit the theaters and Dan Stevens and Emma Watson sold me on musicals. They seemed more imaginative, more appealing to this day and age. Plus, its a beautiful retelling of the classic childhood fairy-tale.

Now, The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman, Zendaya, and Zac Efron. When you hear Hugh Jackman, you probably think Wolverine. When you hear Zendaya, its probably Disney Channel. And when you hear Zac Efron, its usually High School Musical. These three very different actors come together with many other, very talented, actors and created a beautiful piece that families can enjoy. It shows how all people are equal regardless of gender, size, race, status, deformities, education etc. The movie touches on the importance of love, communication, and staying true to who one is. With bright colors, captivating songs, crisp dancing, and talented acting, The Greatest Showman is, as stated by one of the characters, "a celebration of humanity". I left the movie theater happy, humming the songs, and eager to see it again. A few days later, I viewed the movie a second time and was just as satisfied as I left. The soundtrack is a new favorite of mine and the lyrics are just as inspiring.

The Greatest Showman is rated PG and is a good film for families. While every family is different in their belief's and every child is different in what content they can watch. It is my opinion that children 9/10 and older can view this movie. There are some scenes that may be frightening for younger children and there is one "bad" word that is repeated a couple times in Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron's duet together. Because P.T. Barnum's show is a circus, typical circus costumes can be expected, but are, for the most part, modest. I recommend this movie for families wanting an uplifting, joy-filled story about love, family, and pursuing dreams.

If parents are wanting a more in depth detailing of content to be aware of before watching with children, they can check out reviews at commonsensemedia.org and christiananswers.net/spotlight.

Happy watching!