Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When Does Owning Become Hoarding?

My goal for this year is to simplify. I ended 2014 sorting, downsizing, and decluttering. Before December, I packed away all but 9 sets of our clothes as our moving plans proceeded. In the last days of 2014, I set out 4 outfits to last until we unpacked at our new home.

As my clothing options decreased, I didn't feel deprived in the slightest. I was disturbed as I searched for non-clothing items I prematurely packed, how I would come across stashes of clothes in various parts of our bags & boxes. I was ashamed that I actually hadn't missed more than half of my clothes.

When I was a volunteer in Costa Rica, I had 3 pairs shoes (dressy flats, work, everyday) 3 skirts, 3 jeans, 3-4 capris, 4-5 nice tops, 2 sweatshirts, and 4-5 t-shirts. Now, I have 4 jeans, 3 capris, 5 pairs of shoes (dressy flats, dressy boots, dressy professional, everyday, winter/hiking boots). I have used the same small black purse for over a year, although now I have a canvas bag for when I can't fit everything I need in my purse.

I know that others have more clothes, more shoes, more purses than I do. However, just because I can think of examples of those I am doing "better" than (have they lived in 3 apartments in 2 countries over the course of 4 years?), we are to compare ourselves to others. Christ is our measuring standard. His Word is our to guide & direct us.

John the Baptizer gives a new definition of minimalism in Luke 3:11, as he answered the crowd's question of what they should do: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

My first thought when I read this is "What about laundry day? If I only have one set of clothes, what will I wear when I wash my clothes?" I can have problems with my blood sugar, so of course I need to keep my secret stash of emergency protein bars. I need to make sure I have enough food for 3 good-sized meals today & tomorrow, so I can't give away any to the one who is hungry today.

What if the world's definition of hoarding is too broad? My go-to online dictionary defined hoarding as follows: "to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, etc." We think of hoarding as a problem of those with more stuff than us. We think that while they take preparation and good stewardship too far, a week's supply of food is not unreasonably and if we can close our cupboards and our closets, we don't need to address how much stuff we own.

What if hoarding doesn't begin when we can't see our floors or can't safely walk across the room? What if hoarding, from a biblical standpoint, is much more innocent looking? Could I be hoarding when I keep a week's worth of food in my house, instead of only my daily bread? Could I be hoarding when I have enough tops & pants/skirts to wear a different outfit for two weeks?

1 John 3:17 asks "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" If I have 2 winter coats and I look without pity at the homeless man facing the winter temperatures in a windbreaker, can I call myself a Christian? If I ignore the hungry beggar so I can more quickly make it home to cook & eat my third meal for the day, how can I expect to meet my Savior's gaze at heaven's gates? If I am not sharing the clothes, food, and blessings God has so generously given me, how can I bear Christ's name? What if my savings account, in addition to removing my need to rely on God, slowly ties my heart to the world while I save for a rainy day & other whims in a world where many are without clean water, sufficient food, and adequate education?

Let me ask you, exactly when does owning items cross over into hoarding them?

Luke 3:10-11, 1 John 3:17 New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Citation: "hoard." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 01 Jan. 2015. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hoard>.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Behind the Names of the Sunken Realm

This blog post is about a book (within a book series) by Serena Chase. I love all the books in her series, but this post will be focusing on the Sunken Realm. This is a giveaway to enter at the bottom of this post.

Behind the Names: the Eyes of E’veria series
by Serena Chase

Across genres, there are often interesting stories about how authors choose the names for the characters in their books, but in speculative fiction (fantasy, sci fi, dystopian, steam punk, etc.) those behind-the-scenes naming stories extend to places, objects, processes, abilities, and terminology—sometimes entire languages are created. In this series of posts, which will be spread over time, as well as several blogs, my Facebook page, my newsletter—and eventually videos in which I will share pronunciations, as well—I will attempt to unveil the stories behind the names populating the epic fantasy novels The Ryn, The Remedy, The Seahorse Legacy, and The Sunken Realm, a few at a time.

For this post, I am focusing on names from Eyes of E’veria, book 4: The Sunken Realm

Eachan Isle: the name Eachan means “little horse.” It is the home of the Seahorse Pirates. ‘Nuf said.

Cazien: In one of the very early versions of The Ryn, Cazien was a villain—a “bad” pirate. I made his name from the real name “Caz,” which I found in my favorite of all name-research books, The First Name Reverse Dictionary by Yvonne Navarro. According to that book, “Caz” means “vain”—which is still a little bit perfect, even though he became one of the good guys over the course of rewriting that first draft.

Bowen: A friend and former co-worker has given her little boys the most charming names (and the boys are super adorable, too!) I asked Nikki if I could borrow one of her sons’ names for a sweet little boy in The Seahorse Legacy, and little Bowen made it into the next book, as well.

Pollis and Kasta are names taken from classical mythology, but I made mythological male characters Castor and Pollux female for my purposes.

Captain Ledo and Lady Signe were named along the same vein. Since I was gender-bending the Castor and Pollux thing anyway, I thought I’d go ahead and gender-bend the whole myth. If you don’t know the story, you can easily Google it, but when you do, you should note that Ledo is my masculinization of “Leda” from the myth and that the name Signe means “swan”—which delighted me. You see, my great-grandmother’s name was Signe! It seemed perfect to share my (great) grandmother’s name with Cazien’s grandma—and it was that connection inspired the name Meirma for “grandmother” in Seyharzien, the language of Eachan Isle. The Swedish word for maternal grandmother is “mormor.” Add in a Swedish accent to that—and a little creative license—and Meirma isn’t too far a stretch.

...and speaking of Seyharzien... in your best pirate accent, say “Seyharz”—Did it sound like “seahorse” to you? *winks* It does to me!

Princess Zohara: I know, I know, it sounds very Branjolina-daughter. But beyond that, I think it sounds very royal, in an exotic sort of way.

Prenzio: Cazien’s father was originally named Prinz—since he served as the “Prince John” type character to Cazien’s young-Robin-Hood-on-the-seas persona in an as-of-yet-unpublished (and unfinished!) prequel novel that takes place when Cazien is fifteen. An early editor said the name made her think too much of the 80s singer Prince (aka: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince), and although the ruffled shirts Prenzio (and Roeg!) prefer may be a little reminiscent of the “Purple Rain” video, I didn’t really want to make that comparison in my books. I changed it. As it turns out, I like the name Prenzio much better. It suits him, I think.

Destria: A destrier is a war horse, this is my feminization of this name, which seems appropriate for a Seahorse Pirate, don’t you think? I liked this name for this character and she’s been in my head for years and years. (And she will likely be in my head for many, many more!)

Briggan Roo: Clear back in the early drafts of The Ryn, there existed a scene (which was deleted years and years ago) in which Kinley taught Rose a difficult dance that went along with a song called “The Ballad of Briggan Roo.” Together, the melody and the dance told the tale of an ancient sea serpent. Ack, but those Veetrish, am I right? *winks* But... Briggan Roo was not entirely lost with that scene, only put off a few more books—until he could play a dramatic role!

What names and words of E’veria are you curious about? Tell me in the comments, and make sure to watch my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for news of when and where the next “Names of E’veria” post will appear!
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SERENA CHASE lives in Iowa with her husband Dave, teen daughters Delaney and Ellerie, and a big white dog named Albus (yes, he was named after that Albus.) A frequent contributor to USA Today's Happy Ever After blog, Serena is an avid reader of young adult fiction and inspirational romance and has become a respected influencer within those communities. When not engaged in her varied roles within the publishing industry, Serena can be found watching action movies and dreaming about someday living in a cottage by the sea. Connect with Serena Chase on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (@Serena_Chase) and visit www.serenachase.com to subscribe to her newsletter and gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content