"Getting to Knoooooow [Meeee!]"

Fellow blogger, Lauriloth, from Musings of an Elf, posted about a 20 Random Facts About Me tag, created by Belle of In My Life.  I've always enjoyed learning more about the characters and personalities of my bloggin' buddies, and this tag is perfect!  Though she didn't actually "tag" anyone, this is open to whoever and everywho.  O_o 

(The above title is based off a song.  A huge virtual hug to anyone who can guess it!)


1.  What are three of your favorite hobbies?
        Reading, Writing, and Photography, I guess.  



2.  What is your favorite season?
        Oo.  Though Winter is beautiful in its own way, I can't stand the cold.  And while I can be found singing the lyrics to Frozen's "Let it go, let it go!  The cold never bothered me anyway," that is essentially a lie, as the cold REALLY bothers me.  Summer is probably my favorite season.  (Although I love each in its own time!  Spring, time of renewal--flowers in bloom, everything green.  Fall, perfect weather--not too hot, not too cold.)




3.  Heels or sneakers?
        Of the two, sneakers.  I would rather be comfortable than fashionable.  But it IS possible to be both!  I prefer ballet flats and no-heel boots over anything.  I mean, come on, I have a hard enough time walking in normal shoes without tripping and giving the floor a hug.  Why should I embarrass myself needlessly?







4.  Casual or Fancy?
        Um, how about casually fancy?  Is that possible?  I love to look nice, even for a trip to Walmart!  Casual for everyday, Fancy for special occasions.  :]


5.  What do you prefer, a Birthday Party or a girls sleepover party?
        Birthday Party.  I was always uncomfortable at sleepovers, at least with a great number of girls.  Now, with a cousin or two and my sisters, no problem.  But a bunch of random girls. . . scary.  I was the shy one, remember?


6.  What do you enjoy posting about more?
        Names!  And my characters.  Those posts, especially, help me to know my story people better.



7.  How old are you?
        I am one and twenty.


8.  When is your birthday?
        July 23rd.  I'm a Summer baby.  Maybe that's why I like that season the best. 


9.  Do you like the thrill of a roller coaster?
        Haha.  That's funny.  Ah, no.  Just ask my family.  My aunt and uncle had to practically drag to me ride the newest coaster at Dollywood.  Yes, I have ridden it twice. . . And screamed my head off the whole two minutes through.


10.  Do you like watching movies in a theater?
        YES!  We only go if it's a movie we KNOW will be awesome.  Like The Hobbit and Frozen.  


11.  What would be your ideal job in the future?
        I used to have a hard time with this one.  You know, the question of "what do you wanna be when you grow up?"  But now, it is pretty clear.  I want to be a helpmeet and wife to my future prince and a mother to our children.


12.  Are you into sports?  If so, which ones?
        Always enjoyed a good game of basketball, whether it was me on the court or watching on the telly.  But I have to say DANCE is my absolute favorite, ballet to be specific.  And yes, that is a sport.  :D


13.  In a football party, which are you:  the one that jumps while shouting if your team almost scored?  Or the one who isn't that interested in the game and prefers to eat the snacks while talking to friends?
        I'm pretty equal in both departments.  I love food, but I also love a good game and enjoying it with friends and family.  


14.  Did you play Playdough as a child?
        Yes, though I don't remember playing with it often.  I loved crafting a masterpiece with my own hands.


15.  What are your favorite clothing stores you prefer to shop?
        Goodwill.  And it has to be the one in my hometown, which is decent and neat, and I know exactly where everything is.  I also like Target.


16.  Are you a bookworm?
        Such a silly question.  YES!


17.  Which do you spend more time on:  a book, or the internet?
        Again, this is pretty equal.  It depends.


18.  When did you decide to start blogging?
        I guess it was about four years ago?  I'm not sure exactly.  My mama started one around them and I posted off and on for a while on hers, until my sisters and I decided to start one ourselves.  And it has grown from there. 


19.  On your honeymoon, which would you rather go to:  a rustic lodge in the mountains, or a sunny beach house in Florida?
        Oh.  So hard!  I've practically lived in the mountains my whole life.  And have only been to the beach TWO times in my ENTIRE twenty-one years.  But if I had to choose between Florida (no offense meant to any native Floridians) or my beloved mountains, I would definitely go with the rustic lodge.  

        Now, if it was Hawaii. . . That's a whole different story.  ^__^


20.  What are five of your favorite movies?
        ARGH!  Why such hard question?  If you have taken anything away from my blog posts, and if you know me at all, you know I have too many favorites to count!  *le sigh*  I shall do my best.  Note, this is extremely difficult.  Here goes nothing. . .

1)  The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Yes, that counts as one.  And it must be the extended versions!)
2)  The Chronicles of Narnia  (Yep.  All three.)
3)  Captain America
4)  Tangled  (Frozen is a CLOSE second, of course)
5)  Pride & Prejudice (1995)

        Whew.  That was hard.  And it's the same with books!!  You feel me?  Does anyone understand?!?

Okay.  Anyway, I leave you with this wisdom:



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Well, that was fun.  Now, it's your turn!

If you decide to do this, let me know in a comment!  I'd love to read your answers!

Fairfarren, my friends.

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What's in a Name?

Elon
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Biblical
Pronunciation:  EH-lon,  EE-lon

Meaning & History
Means "oak" in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament, this name was borne by a judge of the Israelites.









Deja
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Various
Pronunciation:  day-ZHA

Meaning & History
Meaning "already," from the French phrase deja vu "already seen."



Arden
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation:  AHR-dǝn

Meaning & History
From an English surname, originally taken from various place names, which are possibly derived from a Celtic word meaning "high."



Sarai
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Biblical, Biblical Hebrew
Pronunciation:  SER-ie (English)

Meaning & History
Means "my princess" in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament, this was Sarah's name before God changed it, as recorded in Genesis 17:5.



Names and history via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

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Book Review [Not a Fan]

not a fan.
Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
Kyle Ildeman

[rear cover]
Are you a fan or a follower?

The dictionary defines a fan as "an enthusiastic admirer."  Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice.  Fans may be fine with repeating a prayer, attending church on the weekend, and slapping a Jesus fish on their bumpers.  But is that really the extent of the relationship Jesus wants?

Jesus was never interested in having admirers.  It's not fans He is looking for.

Not a Fan challenges you to consider what it really means to call yourself a Christian.  With a direct frankness that you're not likely to hear in Sunday School class, Kyle invites you to take an honest look at your relationship with Jesus.  His call to follow may seem radical to us, but Jesus desires it for every believer.

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Oh, dear.  Behind, I am, in my reviews.  Said I would post about these books before Christmas, I did.  Well, that didn't happen. . .

So, here I am, at last.  

The cold hard fact regarding this book is:  you will either love it, or hate it.  I have found that the people who read this and come away genuinely changed are the ones who read with an open mind and heart.  They are willing to listen to the blunt truth that Christians in this world no longer act like Christ.  Maybe on the outside they seem to follow His ways, but most are just going through the motions.  This book has been an eye-opener for them and they take the road to become true followers.

On the other hand, those who come away with a hatred for this particular book and end up posting negative reviews, do NOT like change and are happy to stay the "lukewarm" Christians they have always been.  These are the fans.

Not a Fan addresses both types of Christians.  In the first chapter, you take an honest diagnosis.  The dreaded D.T.R.  

Define the Relationship.

This is the test to discover your level of commitment.  (And Kyle Idleman makes it clear this is a commitment, not just a decision.)  He uses the illustration of a couple in a dating relationship.  Eventually, the time comes to decide if the relationship between boy and girl should continue to the next level (toward marriage) or cease and, hopefully, part as friends.  

As a follower of Christ, there will come a time when He asks you to define the relationship.  In other words, are you all in?

Mr. Idleman says, "I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days.  Fans who cheer for Him when things are going well, but who walk away when it's a difficult season.  Fans who sit safely in the stands cheering, but they know nothing of the sacrifice and pain of the field.  Fans of Jesus who know all about Him, but they don't know Him..."

Be warned, this is not for the faint at heart.  You must be willing to face the harsh truths.  Jesus says, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24)

"Following Jesus will cost you something.  Following Jesus always costs something." (pgs 30)

Has following Jesus cost you anything?

My notes:  "Well, nothing tragic, maybe.  When I listen to Him, it may cost me to not get to do what I wanted to do."

We may be required to give up time or a special hobby.  Or we may have to sacrifice tickets to this awesome concert we had saved up for to stay with a family member in the hospital.  

"Most of us don't mind Jesus making some minor change in our lives, but Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down.  Fans don't mind Him doing a little touch-up work, but Jesus is thinking over-haul.  Fans think a little make-up is fine, but Jesus is thinking makeover.  Fans think a little decorating is required, but Jesus wants a complete remodel.  Fans want Jesus to inspire them, but Jesus wants to interfere with their lives." (pgs. 31)

That is usually what scares the followers.  If you decide to follow Him, He requires your all.

I am afraid this isn't much of a review, but all in all I really enjoyed this book.  It is terribly thought-provoking and requires a good deal prayer.  Most of us do not realize that we are living as fans.  I guess I was one of them.  This book is a great wake-up call and I would definitely recommend it to any Christian.  My church did this as a church-wide study, but I would encourage it as an individual as well.  (If possible, find the video series!  It's a good tie-in.)


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Recommended ages:  16+



My name is Sarah, and I am not a fan.

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What's in a Name?

Fannar
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Icelandic
Pronunciation:  fah-NAHR (English)

Meaning & History
Possibly taken from the Old Norse fönn meaning "snow drift."




Delaney
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English, Irish
Pronunciation:  dǝ-LAYN-ee

Meaning & History
From either the English surname, which is derived from the Norman French de l'aunaie meaning "from the alder grove;" or from the Irish surname, which is an Anglicized form of Ó Dúbhshláine, meaning "descendant of Dúbhshláine."


Zakhar
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Russian
Pronunciation:  za-KAHR (English)

Meaning & History
Russian form of Zechariah, from the Hebrew name Zekharyah meaning "YAHWEH remembers."




Rochelle
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation:  ro-SHELL

Meaning & History
From the name of the French city La Rochelle, meaning "little rock."  As a given name, Rochelle was first introduced in America in the 1930s, most likely due to the fame of actress Rochelle Hudson (1914-1972), and because of the similarity to the given name Rachel.







Names and meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

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Book Review [Captives]

Captives 
[The Safe Lands #1]
Jill Williamson

Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  YA
Released:  2013

[Goodreads]
One choice could destroy them all.

When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many—including his fiancée, Jem—taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late?


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

Okay.  Maybe I am simply worn out and tired of the dystopian/futuristic novels that are so popular right now.  Most likely due to the Hunger Games, I guess.  Ah well, either way, I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  The above description is vague, to say the least, as to the whole plot of this story.  I was blown away by the unexpected, slightly graphic descriptions of some scenes.  And would therefore recommend this book to OLDER readers only.  For example, 18 and up.  Heheh. . . This is merely my opinion, folks.  Bear with me.  =]

[The Basics]
As to the story in general, I have one word:  CREATIVE.  The world-building and set-up was so very interesting and purely one-of-a-kind.  I loved the character's various personalities and differing moods.  There was more than a few times I laughed to myself at some of the dialogue.  I love that in a story.  :D

Captives centers on three brothers of the tribe of Elias.  Levi, the eldest, Mason, and Omar.  They are outsiders, living in their village of Glenrock outside the confines of the Safe Lands, which we soon learn is an enormous compound built specifically to protect its citizens.  Instead, it is, in the words of Mason, "a gilded cage."  A city filled with excitement, fun, and anything and everything you could possibly need to "Find pleasure in life." (The Safe Land motto.)  But still, it is a cage.  And what is so incredible is that the Safe Landers are blind to that fact.  Well, some.

Betrayed by one of their own, the people of Glenrock are captured, some killed, and taken to the compound where the women will serve terms as surrogates in the Harem (sounds bad, but it's more like a beauty spa and beach condo all in one--at least, that's what I imagined...) and the men tasked to odd jobs about the city, welcome to live peacefully as long as they give willingly to the Donation Center.  Yes, you can probably guess what that is.  

Thanks to a Great Pandemic many years ago, the population of the Safe Lands suffers from a disease known as the thin plague.  This affects their immune system and causes their skin to discolor and flake.  All of the people hide this illness well, thanks to their futuristic technology and a good deal of paint.  The disease causes other problems as well, and child-bearing is nigh impossible due to its affects.  So, what is the obvious solution?  Go and gather uninfected outsiders to save their population.  And if they do not come willingly, take them by force, as is the case of Glenrock.  

The women, between the ages of 14 to late thirties, as mentioned above, are taken to the Harem, where they are pampered and treated as queens.  Which, in a sense, they are.  To the nationals of the compound, they are the hope of the future, with the purpose of providing healthy, uninfected children.  To do this, they go through a procedure and given an artificial embryonic implants--another thank you to the men of the Donation Center.

[Other Negatives]
Along with these wicked wrongs, people drink exotic drinks in exotic bars, get high on "vaporizers" (similar to cigarettes, but are metal tubes that emit whatever color smoke you wish and come in various "flavors"), "pair up" (I don't need to explain that one, I hope), and visit numerous "dance" clubs, where women (and men) are scantily clad.  Everything that SHOULD set off common sense alarm bells in your brain, but are known as "pleasure" to the people of the Safe Lands.  Sadly, they don't know any different. 

[Spiritual Content]
If this was just another secular novel that told tales of suffering, love, and war with no hope of rescue, then I would gladly throw it away.  But the love of Christ is seen in its pages.  Even in a cage, God can be found.  Hope can spring from the actions of the most unlikely person, as well.  Both Levi and Mason understand that and their prayers and actions are evidence of their faith.

[Violence]
A good deal of this.  People are beaten, shot, stabbed, stunned, and cut.  

[Love-y Content]
Lots of kissing, my friends.  Intimate lip-locking.  Both from married couples and those that are definitely NOT married.  Couples "pair up" for the night. . . 

I gotta say, this was the most graphic YA novel I've read.

[Conclusion]
Although I did not enjoy this story as much as I'd hoped, it was a fascinating and intriguing tale.  Still, I would definitely recommend it ONLY to older readers due to much of the content.  Also, just because my review isn't the greatest, doesn't mean you should pass on a book.  Everyone has different tastes.  So, if you like the futuristic, dystopian novels, have at it!  Here's a more positive review from Jillian's (albeit brief) on Goodreads.  Please don't just take my word for it!

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Recommended ages:  18+  
(Again, this is my opinion, folks.)


Note:  I was provided a copy of this novel, thanks to Booksneeze.com, for my honest review.

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Go the Second Mile

Here is a new poem I wrote, inspired by Matthew 5:38-42.

Pinterest
What should I do
When to ground I am beat?
What can I do
In this world so bittersweet?
How can I shine
For God all the while?

In every trial and trouble,
Go the second mile.


"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'  But I tell you, don't resist an evildoer.  On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to the one who asks you, and don't turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." 
Matthew 5:38-42

We are to shine like Christ every day.  Easier said than done, right?  Still, it is possible.  In every thought, word, and action we can show His love to an unloving world.  And if that world beats us down, we can only get back up, proclaiming His Word all the more.  If our actions are pure and genuine, others will see Him instead of us.

I love Katherine Hepburn's quote,
"Life is hard.  After all, it kills you."  

A harsh truth.  But a truth all the same.  Whether you wish it or not, this life will end in death.  But if you have chosen Christ and believe with all your heart and soul that He is God and His Word is true, than Death is merely a door.  

A door to Life.

Go the second mile.  =]

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Character Spotlight [Rydan]

Rydan -- Sketch credit to my sister Jen!
Prince Rydan
age:  22
height:  6'1"
weight:  185 lbs
eye color:  amber/light brown
hair color:  brown
home country:  Gondoa

Personality:
Easy-going.  Ambitious.  When he sets a goal for himself, he won't stop until it is completed.  A natural leader.
As a royal, he is used to having control.  When that is out of his reach, he feels the need to take it and usually ends up frustrated, with himself, if not with others.  He struggles to change his attitude during these instances, and tries to have a family member or friend (like Peder) hold him accountable.  Open-minded.  Eager to do whatever it takes to be a good king someday.  Willing to listen to counsel.
Maybe a bit over-protective.  As the older brother, he has the instinctive mindset to protect those weaker than himself.  Sometimes he can take it too far and become over-bearing.  

Occupation:
Crown Prince of Gondoa, the greatest of the Seven Nations.  Only son of King Ryen and Queen Adrie, second eldest of four.  Acts as official ambassador to the other allied countries.

Worst Fear:
That he won't be able to live up to the standards/expectations (in his own mind) demanded of a prince, and future king. 

Personal Quote:
"I once sought fulfillment.  Hoping if I tried my hardest I could become my father, a great man with a large shadow.  But no matter how hard I worked or studied, I always fell short, in my own eyes, and, as I thought, in the eyes of those around me.  I couldn't accept who I was.  My duties as a prince, and future king--well, they can be a burden.  It was only when I truly realized my satisfaction came from Eliadan alone that I really started to live."

Role in Safia:
Co-star in her story.  Plays a big part in Safia's rescue and, in a way, becomes her protector.  When all she knows comes crashing down around her, he acts as a sturdy buffer, even when she makes it clear she does not yet trust him.  He stands tall amid the violent waves of life and never waivers in his faith in Eliadan.  Safia admires that and, through him, she learns to trust again, returning to the God she abandoned long ago.
Keeping his promise to take Safia to Charan, he journeys with her aboard his personal ship, the Sea Falcon, to the foreign country and later discovers a sinister plot against her life, when she should have been safe among relatives.  It is here he becomes her white knight, arriving in the nick of time to save his damsel from the evil that beset her and her family.
(*ahem* There may or may not be a bit of romance involved between him and her. . . I'm just saying. . . heheh, you know. . .)

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Hey, thanks for reading! 

Like the portrait?  This one, as mentioned in the caption, is from my other sister, Jenny, who you can find on our shared blog, Maidens of Virtue, where she posts weekly pictures of her art.  

Both Jenny and Julia (also on above-mentioned blog, whose picture was featured in the previous Character Spotlight) have an amazing talent in sketching (and painting) and are open for commissions, if anyone is interested.  This means they are willing to sketch a character portrait/profile of any character(s) in your own stories.  For free!  Most artists would charge a goodly amount for such a project, lemme tell ya. ;D

Anyway, if you are interested in seeing how your characters might possibly look like in the eyes of a reader, please contact me with info regarding said character(s).  This would include a physical description (eye color, hair color, face shape, long/short hair, etc), a personality profile (meaning how they act, if they're sarcastic with dry humor, or a shy introvert, etc), and some snippets of dialogue as well as parts of the story with the character (to give the artists a taste as to how they act/speak/etc.).  Anything else you might like to add would be helpful as well.  Note:  If you are interested in a commission, please be willing to email back and forth.  =]

Another thing you might want to take into account:  my sisters have different styles regarding their art.  Jenny has been greatly influenced by the anime/manga/Japanese forms, but has evolved her work over the years to have made it her own, very unique style.  Julia's sketches differ in that they are more realistic and yet have a "cartoon-y" look to them as well.  Again, it's her personal style (and I LOVE them both!).  Where Julia sticks to pencils, Jenny ranges from the same to digital art.  You can find her work here and here.  I have featured a couple of Julia's sketches on my blog here, here, and here.

Also, if you want an actual, physical copy of a drawing, snail-mail might be an option with a small fee for shipping--otherwise it is totally free with the picture sent via email.  The sketches will most likely be posted on our 3Maidens blog with a brief who's-who description, featuring the creator (you!) and your blog name and link.  Sound good?  =]  

Aaand. . . It would be nice if the person, or persons, requesting a commission be a follower of both blogs (3Maidens and Plain & Average) as well.  Too much to ask?  Ah, well.  ;D

Have fun with it!

My address:  plainandaverage.sarah@gmail.com

Fairfarren, for now!

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