hello twenty-eighteen

I love the beginning of the new year, but I’m not big on resolutions. A resolution is a decision that was made to keep. It’s this mentality that makes them so frustrating when I slip or can’t keep up with the decision that I made. So this year, I decided to write some goals I want to work toward throughout the year.

I feel like goals represent growth which is exactly how I want to go into the new year. Reflect on the events and choices of the previous year and see what I can change this new year. My intention with creating goals was to not feel like I had to wake up on January 1st a whole new person, because – let’s face it – that is not going to happen, but instead have positive changes to work at little by little.

For this year, I have six goals that I am going to focus on. I have very specific personal reasons for choosing each goal that I’ll share throughout the year.

My six goals are:
1: Exercise Daily
2: Journal Weekly
3: Read More
4: Save Money, Budget Better
5: Weekly Family Devotionals
6: Make Every Day Count

So here’s to making 2018 a year to be happy about and proud to remember!

| Lauren Grey

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if it looks too good to be true

Dear Young Female Millennial Christian Instagrammer,

I used to know you a long time ago and just recently came across your Instagram feed. Your pictures are beautiful and caught my attention immediately, so I scrolled through them in awe of the life you portray. You have built this picture of a [seemingly] perfect life and I have to ask myself how much of it is true? I wonder how long it took you to stage each picture exactly right and how many pictures were deleted before finding the perfect one to post. I became very interested in the reality of your world, so I began to read some of the captions and what I found really made me think.

I can’t help but become curious as to how you live this perfectly instagrammable lifestyle. Per one of your posts, I learned that you don’t work and your husband works part-time [at home!], yet you own a home, afford a baby, and boast about having no debt [except for said house].

This got me thinking about my own life – the one that my husband and I work very hard for. We both work full-time jobs to afford our modest lifestyle, so I just can’t imagine how you are able to afford yours on just a part-time job. I created a list about what all you would have to pay for; I figured if you don’t have student loans and drive old cars, then the following would be the basic bills you most likely would have to pay for:

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Utilities
  • Energy
  • Wifi/Internet
  • Phone Bill
  • Car Insurance

All of those would easily add up to a part-time paycheck, maybe even two. Your husband must make a ton of money working this part-time job. But then I got to thinking, what about health and dental insurance? You would have to pay all of that out-of-pocket, because most part-time workers don’t get insurance. Then I read about all the stuff you did to fix up your house… it just makes my mind go wild thinking that this kind of life is out there.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind working and I can’t imagine not helping out my family while I have the time, but I just want to know what part-time job pays for a family of three to live comfortably with little debt? I would also love to see the real side of your family one day. Maybe do a post on struggle or working hard or about long, sleepless nights due to your newborn. I would admire you so much more if your entire life didn’t look staged.

I hope you tell your secret one day and give us a glimpse into your real world!

Sincerely,

Lauren Grey

winter bucket list

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
-John Steinbeck

Experiencing winter can be a tough thing to do when you live in Texas. The weather doesn’t get very cold and we rarely see any snow, so enjoying holiday festivities takes a lot of mental energy. Every year I get my hopes up that this winter is going to be the winter I actually have some fun, but the reality always falls short. I’ve been inspired by a fellow blogger to create a list of things to accomplish this season to learn to have fun again.

So here is my list of things to do this winter:

  1. Go Ice Skating
  2. Build a Gingerbread Village
  3. Create a Sugar Cube House
  4. Look at Christmas Lights
  5. Bake and Decorate Christmas Cookies
  6. Take a Picture in Front of a Christmas Tree
  7. Sip Hot Chocolate on a Cold Night
  8. Knit a Scarf
  9. [Hopefully] Experience Snow
  10. Watch a Christmas Movie in a Vintage Theater
  11. Visit the Christmas Capital of Texas
  12. Read 5 Books

Let the winter festivities begin!

movie review: star wars: the last jedi

Alright, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I did not like Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I wanted to like it. More than that, I wanted to love it. I got tickets to see it opening night, stayed up way past my bedtime for what was supposed to be the bedtime story of the year and was very much let down. It wasn’t the worst movie or the worst sequel, but – in my humble opinion – it didn’t live up to all of the hype.

*SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*

Last night I went over in my head why I was so disappointed in this movie and I came up with the following seven reasons:

The first 30 minutes were boring and monotonous.

The beginning was not exciting or entertaining. I wasn’t drawn in or excited about the story at all.

Too many new characters to care about.

This movie brought in too many new characters we are supposed to care about. In the original movies, you had supporting characters, but they only received screen time when it was relevant or helpful to the overall story. The opening scene of this movie, a young girl sacrifices herself to blow up this ship or weapon – which would have been okay, but then we meet her sister who becomes this underdog hero and apparently we are supposed to care about her. Then there is Poe, who I liked in The Force Awakens, but seemed to be off his game in this movie. And Finn who played a major role in The Force Awakens, but seemed to be chasing his tail in this movie. What was their purpose?

Leia using The Force not to die.

Leia is standing right next to a window on the ship when it is blasted and everything flows into space. Admiral Ackbar loses his life, the glass alone would have at least cut her up, but then we see her floating in space. What a peaceful death, right? Wrong. All of a sudden her finger twitches and her eyes pop open and she USES THE FORCE to make it back to her ship after she already should have been long dead. This was so cheesy and not at all believable. The worst scene in the entire movie – I had to hold back from laughing. Besides Leia being a Skywalker and being told the Force is strong with her family, it has never been said that she knew how to use the Force or trained to be a jedi. Yet here she is saving herself from death using it, perfectly. I don’t buy it.

The cheap laughs.

Since when is Star Wars a cheesy comedy? Jar Jar Binks was supposed to bring comic relief to the prequels and majority of fans hate him, so why bring in these stupid creatures just for laughs? Sure, there was comedy in the originals, but it was because of brilliant character development and story telling, not because the movie feels a bit too serious. As my husband put it as we were leaving, “It felt like they tried to make a serious movie for children.” It was in the very apparent “laugh” scenes that I felt Disney shine through more than ever.

The casino planet.

This planet was a complete waste of twenty minutes of screen time. Everything about it. Just bad. I felt it was only there to tell Rose’s backstory and give an opening to the end (which they could have done any other way that actually connects to the real story). We don’t care about Rose’s backstory; we never heard Lando Calrissian’s backstory and we liked him just fine – let her be a supporting character and leave it at that!

Who is Snoke?

During The Force Awakens, they kept talking about this great and powerful Snoke (almost like the Wizard of Oz). He always appears huge in his holographic form, but we never had any information on him. In this film, we get to meet him and see him in his true form and he basically dies three seconds later. We are just supposed to accept that he seems to have mind control abilities (which seems more like a jedi trait), yet he couldn’t see Kylo Ren using the force to kill him? Really? I also want to know who he his, how he came to power, and why he looks the way he does? Also, Luke said that Snoke was already in his head – well could you expand on that? It just seemed silly to have this supposedly important character in only like 10 minutes of both movies. We want more.

Where was the conflict/connection between and inside of Rey and Kylo Ren?

The only part I actually enjoyed in this movie was the great scene where Rey goes to Kylo Ren to turn him and is brought before Snoke. The fight scene between Kylo Ren and Rey was fantastic and I loved seeing them work together, but in The Force Awakens there is supposed to be this connection between them, but all I saw in this movie was Snoke “bridging their minds,” it had nothing to do with a genuine connection. WTF! Also, both Kylo Ren and Rey are supposed to have serious pull the each side of the Force. Kylo Ren is supposed to be battling the good inside him and Rey is supposed to be battling her pull to the dark, but we BARELY SEE IT. I wanted to see a lot more of the Kylo Ren and Rey backstory and just of them in general instead of all the hooplah surrounding Finn and Poe.

All in all, I want more from these new movies. If you are going to continue a brilliant series and a classic story, you need to bring something new, original, and creative to the story. Well instead of new, original, and creative, we just keep getting “been there, done that” and I’m growing tired of it. I feel like they love to stir up the suspense and make it seem like they are building something totally mind blowing and then not following through… which is what happened with The Last Jedi to me. It doesn’t feel like they know where they want the story to go and that is a problem. You can’t write a story based on what you think the audience wants to see; you have to write an incredible story and go with it.

If you choose to see it, prepare for some cheap laughs and disappointment.

the one where i’m being left behind

The moon doesn’t consider one phase better than another; she just glows, equally stunning at each turn. Why should we be any different?
-Cristen Rodgers

It blows my mind how quickly things can change. Back in February of 2015, two of my close friends from high school got engaged. At that point in time they were my only friends getting that serious, but I was just daunted by this new “twenty-something” phase I was entering. All I could think about was in the next few years my friends would start getting married, having kids, and moving on with their lives while I still hadn’t gone on a first date. There are so many things I wish I could have told nineteen year old me to ease her worries.

Little did I know that literally two years later I would be engaged myself.

I feel like back then I was in such a rush to get where I thought I was supposed to be. I wanted to be dating. I wanted to be graduated. I wanted to be successful. I wanted to be on my own. I wanted to have it all together. Now I’m married, graduated, fairly successful, and on my own… but even though I have majority of the things I wanted back then, she and I still have so much in common!

Now that I’m less worried about where I’m supposed to be and what milestones I’m supposed to be chasing, I feel more comfortable to just be. And just being makes me so happy! When I’m not constantly comparing my accomplishments to those of others and cutting myself down for “falling behind” in life, the stress levels are lowered for more enjoyable days. And what more could I want than more enjoyable days?

| Lauren Grey