30 May 2011

They Sacrificed Their Lives So That We May Be Free

"As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on."

~The Battle Hymn of the Republic

To those who have fought on the front lines, to those who have sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the service you have given to our beloved country. I am so grateful for each and every one of you.

As we all go about our Memorial Day festivities today, let us not forget what this holiday is really about: the sacrifices so many men and women gave in the service of our dear country, so that we may remain "one nation under GOD, with liberty and justice for all." They gave their all for us. We can never repay the debt we owe to them.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance." ~Psalm 33:12

28 May 2011

My First Book, Complete

Violets Are Blue has been written, titled, edited, and sent off to a book editor. And as of now, it has been completely edited a second time. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember. Whether Violets Are Blue is eventually published and is a hit or stays a document on my laptop forever, I will never forget how happy I feel at this moment. 

I feel like dancing a jig. :P

This is my third draft of this book, and I love it dearly. The characters, the story, everything about it is close to my heart. The Bradshaws feel like my family.
As promised in this post, I shall now include all the details: 

Pages (including title page, book hook, prologue, and epilogue): 205, .14 font, 1.5 spacing
Words: 52,645
Characters (no spaces): 228,005
Characters (with spaces): 280,837
Paragraphs: 2,291
Lines: 5,006

I already have an event going — Unsinkable — that deals with my book and the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. There are monthly giveaways, guest posts, VAB updates, and so much more. Click here for more details about that. 

As soon as I publish this post, I plan on jumping up and down and perhaps letting out a girlish "eep!" or three of excitement. Is that a bit strange? :)

27 May 2011

New Design

Hello ladies, and welcome to the new and improved Living on Literary Lane! I am loving how much extra posting space I have, especially for large photos. Many thanks to Miss Megan Kristine of Calm Water Blog Design for making my little "hollow" look so lovely. Can we give her a round of applause? If you would like a pretty design for your blog, Megan will be relaunching Calm Water in the near future, with a new name, new packages, a shoppe, freebies, and much more.

If you have my old blog button on your blog, I do hope you will change it out with my new one, which can easily be found to the right on my sidebar. -->

Well, that is all for now, as I must get back to my editing of Violets Are Blue. Blessings!

23 May 2011

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

There are few books that are just pure genius. You know what I mean when I say that--they take the truth, and then retell it in a wholly original way that makes you understand it so much better. And the characters, the plot, everything about the book is believable, natural, and draws you in. C.S. Lewis' books are a fantastic example of this, as are Jane Austen's. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is also one of those genius books.

The Giver
By Lois Lowry
*Summary taken from the back of the book

Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.

When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Lois Lowry is a pretty incredible author. Even though she is writing about a fictitious world in The Giver, she manages to draw the reader in and make him/her feel as if they are not just reading about this world: they are IN it. The minute I began reading this book, I was intrigued. I read it in sixth grade for school, but I finished it at least a week ahead of time, because I was so enthralled with it.

When you first read about the Community in The Giver, it doesn't seem that bad. After all, everything is orderly and neat, and the little problems are quickly resolved. However, as we read further, we discover the disastrous consequences of such a lifestyle. There is no love, and virtually no emotion of any kind. The Elders control everything, and the people have no authority. Everything is decided for them, even down to their spouse and their children. 

The sad thing is, this type of society not so foreign as we would wish. Of course, we cannot remove memory from everyone and put it all in one person, who then transfers the memories to the next Receiver, but the ideals behind this are the same. The people in this story live in a utopian Community. Many of our leaders today believe that this type of lifestyle is good for everyone. Think about it: no pain, no hardship, no tough decisions. Everything is "handled" for you. But that means no life, no love. In The Giver, the old people are purposely killed because they can no longer benefit the Community. The same is done with weak or disabled children. We see this happening all over the world today, as young mothers choose to abort their babies simply because having a child at this time in their life is not part of their "plan." 

No one can put down The Giver without being moved in some way. This book is unforgettable.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
I recommend this book for ages 13+ because of some mature content.


"Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others." —The Giver, chapter 12

19 May 2011

Radiance :: Week 1

My dear friend Brianna has invented this blog parade called Radiance, and I'm am joining her. The purpose behind this event is to get us thinking about the deeper, more thought-provoking subjects in life, rather than just brushing over them.
When did you give your life to Jesus? How did He reach out to you? What was your first response?
My parents were raised in Christian homes and are Christians themselves, so naturally, I was raised in a Christian home. I have been going to church and hearing Bible stories and Scripture verses recited aloud since I was a little girl. I accepted Jesus into my heart at age 5 and fully expected to go the Heaven. As far as faith went, everything was packed into neat little boxes with bows. My spiritual life was organized, and I didn't need to do anything else. I had heard stories of missionaries and such who were persecuted because of their faith, but surely that wouldn't happen to ME. I didn't even live in any of those countries, for goodness' sake--I lived in the United States of America, where I could shout to the world from the Walmart parking lot that I was a Christian and virtually nothing bad would come of it.

Nearly a year and a half ago, I began blogging. And I truly believe the LORD used this for my good. I began following several blogs by lovely Christian young ladies, and I was completely startled by their faith. They seemed so happy about it, like every day was an adventure. 

"I want that!" I thought to myself. "I want to know the Scriptures as well as they do. I don't want to confine Bible-reading and Jesus to Sundays only. I don't want to pray only when I want something for myself!"

Through deep prayer, reflection and much searching of God's Word, I began to grow in my faith. I also began delving into these ladies' blogs, and there I discovered new ideas that had never occurred to me before, such as courtship, modesty, and saving your first kiss for your wedding day. These ideas affected who I am now. Material things still mattered to me, but they mattered so much less. Compared to God, the world and all its earthly treasures seemed fake and worthless.

It wasn't that I was not a Christian before; my problem was that I was not growing. I was physically and mentally growing, but my spiritual life and my relationship with my Savior was the same as it had been when I was 5 years old. It was almost as if I was still learning that 2 + 2 = 4! 

I certainly am not done growing spiritually. In fact, I don't think I ever will be. The more I learn of Christianity, the less I understand it. But really, think about it: are we meant to understand it all? If we understood everything, where would be the need for God? The better I get to know my Savior and my LORD, the more I realize how much I need Him and how worthless I am without Him.

P.S. Ara is hosting a beautiful giveaway at her blog, Shilah, in honor of her 18th birthday. Click here to check it out! 

16 May 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Oh goodness... it's been way too long since I did a Miscellany Monday post. Being that I have many things to say but each of them is not worth writing a whole post on, I think this is the perfect way to sort out my thought and let all of you know of the activities that have taken place on Literary Lane lately.

{one} Dance. That pretty much says it all... that is, if you're wondering why I have been out-of-blog for the past week. Dance, dance, dance, and yet more dance. I had class on Monday and Tuesday, a dress rehearsal on Wednesday, class on Thursday after tutorial, another dress rehearsal on Friday, and then the recital on Sunday. Whew! *wipes brow* 'Twas the busiest week of my life, I think. The recital went splendidly, and was such fun. Oh, and did I mention that on Monday I was informed that my ankles are now strong enough to go en pointe? Mm-hmm. That definitely made my day year. :)

{two} Spanish. My last exam was on Thursday. It was nerve-wracking and hectic, but I made it through the test. And actually, it wasn't that hard at all. What was hard was the building tension each day that occurred whenever my thoughts wandered and I spent too much time thinking about it. But it's over, and it wasn't that hard, and I got a good grade. Now I don't have any more schoolwork to worry about (except that necessary evil known as geometry, which I am still working my way through... slowly) until late August. I feel like dancing a jig. Anyone care to join me?

{three} Unsinkable. The first giveaway ended this week! Can you believe it? I certainly can't. Time doesn't just fly--it zooms. Now that the first giveaway is over, the second one has begun. Care to join? Click here. Have absolutely no idea what Unsinkable is and are shaking your head in utter confusion? Click here.

{four} Violets Are Blue. I have been such a bad writer lately. What with everything that's been going on in my life (mainly dance, but also exams), writing has really fallen to the wayside. I have to admit that I'm not a very disciplined writer. When I get a good idea, I'll write for hours. But when it comes to research and editing what I've already written... well, let's just say I'm not quite so eager. Once I sit down and get into it, I do fine. It's the actual deciding to sit down and forcing myself to start that is hard. *sigh* But I have a deadline. And people with deadlines don't really get to choose when they write. 

{five} "I had a dream..." Have you ever heard of the song "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn? It was in my dance recital. Ohhh my. That song is so pretty. I love, love, love it. The very whimsical-ness of it, the delicate and pretty tune, everything about it is so... dreamy. :) Look it up--you won't regret it. 

{six} Sleep is a precious gift that should never--ever--be taken for granted. And this is coming from a girl who got to bed at nearly 11 o' clock P.M. every night this week. Not to mention the fact that I had to wake up at 5:30 A.M. Thursday morning for tutorial. I slept in as much as I could on the days that I didn't have any morning activities, but it wasn't the same. Besides, I'm an early bird. I don't like lying in bed late: it makes me feel lazy. My opinion of rest and its value has been changed drastically this week.

Well, that about concludes everything that's been going on in my life lately. Now I think I'll go make myself a cup of tea and get around to that writing that needs to be done. :)

10 May 2011

That Motherly Instinct

“The noblest calling in the world is that of mother. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece or who can write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.”
~David O. McKay

Very few people can pass a little child without sighing and saying something along the lines of "Aww, s/he's so cute!" Our Heavenly Father put that instinct inside of you! He WANTS His children to love and care for each other. He made women for a very special purpose: motherhood. He formed her body just right so that she would be perfect for bearing children. He put in her an instinct that yearns for children. He made her capable of doing more than one thing at a time. He gave her a heart for her husband and her family. He made her just right for His own glory and purpose. 

Why, then, do so many women ignore this motherly instinct and go off in search of their purpose in careers?

The reason behind this ill-informed logic is simple. From the outside, who wouldn't want a career? Who wouldn't want to be rich and successful? According to the world, children would just hold one back in the climb to success. 

In the end, all these women are seeking is LOVE. They want to be accepted and admired. In the eyes of the world, the most lowly of women are mothers. They spend their time at home, cooking, cleaning, teaching their children, and nursing babies. Where is the glory in that? Mothers are sometimes disheveled, their make-up isn't perfect, and they often have bags under their eyes from sleepless nights.

In the eyes of God, however, a woman's highest calling is motherhood. What the world doesn't see are the kind smiles she gives when her son shows her the picture he painted, and how much it warms his heart that she appreciates his art. The world doesn't see that her hands, though rough, are gentle when smoothing the fevered brow of a sick child. The world fails to recognize that she is talented in the art of doing multiple things as once: she can hold an infant in one arm and a toddler in the other while teaching a small child how to ride a bike. She is the one to whom the children go when they need comfort and love. She brings her husband glory and honor, and he delights in her.

I have nothing wrong with women who seek careers. After all, there are certain people whom God has called to lead a single life. In that case, there is certainly nothing wrong with it. However, at some time or another, that urge will come into a woman's heart for children. The sad thing is that, instead of answering that natural calling, she tries to satisfy it in other ways. I have actually seen couples out and about who are pushing their puppies in a stroller. I almost passed out, I was so shocked. A baby stroller? For an animal? And sadly, these people who love their pets so much often get snooty around children, thinking that all children are a nuisance to be avoided at all costs. The world's opinion is almost the exact opposite of what God tells us in His holy Word. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." ~1 Peter 3:3-4

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." ~Proverbs 14:1

"A kindhearted woman gains respect." ~Proverbs 11:16

"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court." ~Psalm 127:3-5

And of course, the verses in Proverbs 31 about the wife of noble character:

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.'" ~Proverbs 31:10-31

Don't resist that motherly instinct! God put in in your heart for a reason. :)


08 May 2011

To My Mother

Dear child! a faithful mother's love
For thee will toil, and watch, and pray;
An angel hovering still above
Thy couch by night, thy steps by day.

Oh think how oft thy lips have pressed
Her breast! how oft thine arms have clung
Around her neck, while to her heart
She clasped thee close, and sweetly sung!

When fever's burning flush suffused
Thy cheek, and heaved thy panting chest,
Thou rest or refuge all refused
Save mother's arms and mother's breast.

And she would sit with tangled hair,
With haggard cheek and heavy eyes,
Tend all thy wants with loving care,
And soothe thy pains and hush thy cries.

And she would whisper in thy ear,
And press upon thy infant mind
The name, the love of Jesus dear,
And God, thy Father good and kind.

The pouting lip, the pert reply,
The sullen brow, the stubborn will,
Will dim with tears thy mother's eye,
And her fond heart with anguish fill.

The smiling lip, the ready yes,
The sunny brow of cheerful love;
What balm for mother's heart like this?
What dearer blessing can she prove?

Is she a widow? doubly dear
Be she to thee; when griefs assail,
Kiss thou away each mournful tear
That wanders down her cheek so pale.

A faithful God, the first, the best-
The next a faithful mother's love;
Thou shalt, dear child, of these possessed,
Be safe on earth, and blest above.

~Janet Hamilton

Momma, I love you so very much. You always cheer me up when I am sad. When I am sick, your hands sooth my fevered brow. If I am in need of wisdom and advice, to you I turn. You never complain, always hope, and never lose faith. Truly God has blessed me with such a beautiful and godly woman as my mother. If it is His will to bless me with a husband and family in the years to come, I only hope that I can be as good a mother to my children as you have been to me. 

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." ~Proverbs 31:10

03 May 2011

Movie Review: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

It's a rainy day where I live, a cozy type of day where you just want to curl up with a blanket, a hot cup of tea, and your favorite book... or in this case, a good movie. :) Also, it has been suggested to me many a time that I review my favorite movies here on LOLL as well as my favorite books. What better movie with which to start out than one of my all-time favorites, Sense and Sensibility?

Sense and Sensibility (1995)
*Directed by Ang Lee and starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman*

When Henry Dashwood dies unexpectedly, his estate must pass on by law to his son from his first marriage, John and wife Fanny. But these circumstances leave Mr. Dashwood's current wife, and daughters Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, without a home and with barely enough money to live on. Though John and Fanny inherit the family's vast estate, it is Fanny's shy, charming brother Edward who captures Elinor's heart. But before Elinor and Edward have a chance to express their tentative feelings for each other, Fanny contrives an excuse to send Edward off to London. Marianne, meanwhile, becomes swept up in a passionate affair with the dashing Willoughby, a very public romance conducted with so little prudence by Marianne that it earns her sister's disapproval. As Elinor and Marianne struggle to find romantic fulfillment in a society obsessed with financial and social status, they must learn to mix sense with sensibility in their dealings with both money and men.

Oh goodness, I love this movie. I had seen it a couple of times before, but then I received it for my birthday last year, so now we can watch it whenever we choose. Of course, we had to watch it our next movie night--we wouldn't be us if we hadn't. :) I think Kate Winslet is just perfect as Marianne; she seems as if she was born for that role. I've seen the 2008 version of S&S, and it is very good, but their Marianne just wasn't right. She was okay, but not as good as Winslet's Marianne. *Please keep in mind that when I say I really like Kate Winslet as Marianne, I mean just that: I like her as Marianne. I am aware that the actress has done several not-so-appropriate films before, and I do not condone her behavior. I am solely speaking of her performance in THIS film. I just wanted to make that clear.*

I love Marianne and Elinor's sisterly relationship in this movie. They encourage each other, love each other, and help each other without thinking about it... it's almost as natural as breathing. What a wonderful example! I know I am not always as pleasant as I could be to my siblings, but I am trying to improve on that. I would love if my sisters and brother would one day remember me not as the sister who was always telling them what they were doing wrong, but instead the sister to whom they came when they were hurt and needed love, the sister who was always there for them, the sister who cared for them and loved them. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

And oh my, there are SO many good quotes! So witty, so brilliant, exactly my type of movie. :) Here are just a few...

Margaret: "Please don't say anything imporant 'til I come back!" (This makes me laugh, because I can so see Emilia saying this!)

Marianne: "Did you see him? He expressed himself well, did he not?"
Mrs. Dashwood: "With great decorum and honor."
Marianne: "And spirit and wit and feeling!"
Elinor: "And economy, ten words at most."

Mrs. Dashwood: "If you cannot think of anything appropriate to say, you will please restrict your remarks to the weather."

Elinor: "I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him--that I greatly esteem him... I like him."
Marianne: "Esteem him? Like him? Use those insipid words again and I shall leave the room this instant!"

Marianne: "Is love a fancy or a feeling... or a Ferrars?" 

Elinor: "Marianne, can you play something else? Mamma has been weeping since breakfast." 
[Marianne switches to a dirge]
Elinor: "I meant something less mournful, dearest."

Marianne: [To Margaret] "Come, I'm taking you on a walk."
Margaret: "No, I've been on a walk."
Marianne: "You need another."
Margaret: "It's going to rain."
Marianne: "It's NOT going to rain!"
Margaret: "You ALWAYS say that, and then it ALWAYS does!"

Here are all the little nitty-gritty details, for your convenience.

Pros: Nothing inappropriate at all--no language, suggestive scenes, or anything. This is a great movie, and one the whole family can enjoy together. The story is excellent (Jane Austen did write it, after all), the language is beautiful, and the acting is brilliant. Gorgeous costumes, music, and scenery are the icing on the cake and make this film a must-see.

Cons: Some might find the language a bit difficult at first, but after you get into the movie a bit, it gets much easier.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. 

Here is the trailer:

For anyone who loves a good, wholesome period drama with lovely music, witty dialogue, and an excellent plot, this movie is for you. :)
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