Tuesday, July 10, 2018

4th of July Book Haul

via pixabay
This 4th of July was a hot one. One of those where you shower and go out and then come home and shower again because it's so hot. Did that stop me from going to the annual book sale?

Pfft. What a question. 

Complete with water and rolling cart to carry books (very smart suggestion, made by le mama, which I was super happy with later) I trecked off to the library. Tables and tables of books in the hot sun. Filing around rows of books with other eager bibliophiles. 

Much bliss. 

So here's what I picked up (disclaimer: I haven't read most if not all of these books, and some of them are interesting general market books but may contain content that I probably wouldn't fully endorse/may end up discarding later. If you know of yucky content, I'd love to hear about it!)

The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society
GUYS. A movie adaptation with Lily James releasing in just a month! It looks fantastic! I hope it's good--I was over the moon to find this book (plus a copy for an author friend of mine.) 

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder 
This book is about a boy who associates things in his life with different colors. But the color of murder disturbs him, and he needs to find out what caused the death of one of his neighbors. Note: I just flipped through the first pages, and it looks like it may contain a mature theme. I possibly won't be continuing. 

The Book Thief
When I was younger, I turned up my nose at the moral premise of stealing books. Now I'd actually like to consider the story, because it seems to be a powerful one. 

The Five Love Languages of Children 
I've never actually read a full book on the five love languages, but I've taken the test and found it helpful. I flipped through this edition at another place recently and thought it might have some helpful insights in it  (especially because I'm rarely around children.)

The Help
I don't know about all the content in here, but like The Book Thief, this seems to be a powerful story, so I thought I'd pick it up and consider it, especially due to the themes of racial injustice. After To Kill a Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, I'd love to see the theme further on in history. 

90 Minutes in Heaven
I was able to hear Don Piper speak once at a writer's conference. His story made sense to me, but I thought it would be worth reading the entire book to see if all of it bears out with my current understanding of Scripture. 

Good to Great, by Jim Collins
I just heard of this book--it contains the 20-mile march principle from Amundsen's race with Scott to the north pole. Amundsen marched consistently 20 miles a day, and I love how they apply this concept to all of life. I thought it would be interesting to explore further. It's for businesses, so I don't know if a lot of it will apply, but we'll give it a shot. 

Friday's Child, by Georgette Heyer
I haven't read a Georgette Heyer, but really want to! There were several to choose from but I didn't know which one to get, all the sads, so I picked one by title and hoped for the best. 

Romeo and Juliet 
Currently on a Shakespeare kick. I wanted to get The Merchant of Venice, but that one was a school copy with markings in it, so I thought I'd wait for one with clean pages. And one of the other collections I thought about switching out for was gone by the time I went back. All the sads. 

The Princess Bride 
Hopefully good for laughs. 

Master and Commander, The Far Side of the World
Both beautiful and the same editions. Just found out The Far Side of the World is #10. Oh, well. I'm good at reading the endings of things first. ;) :cheeky chuckle: 

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I
I already have a couple of editions of Sherlock Holmes. But this one was the same cover I checked out from our home library and read first. I couldn't resist. The sentiment was strong with this one, and it's the perfect travel copy. 

Gone With The Wind
My two goals this year are to read Gone With The Wind and Wuthering Heights so I know the stories and my mom and I can chat about them together. 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass 
Please be enchanting! When's the best atmosphere to read this book? 

The Iliad and The Odyssey 
I hadn't thought of any books ahead of time, but I thought this one would be cool to read ahead of time. I've heard Aimee Meester recommend it, and it sounds fun, so I was super happy it turned up!

Have you picked up any books recently? What's on your summer reading stack? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Last Battle: Of Aslan and Remembrance

via Pixabay
It was almost midnight on a Saturday evening when I finished The Last Battle. There were two chapters left, and if you've already read the book, you can't stop in the middle of the last two chapters. It is a hard book. A book of endings after glorious centuries of adventure. By the time you're into the adventure, there's also a sense of foreboding: this battle and what comes from it will not be the same as anything else from Narnia.

When we were younger, my mom covered the pictures of Tash. Those were dark to us.

The Last Battle starts, interestingly enough, with the clearest depiction of manipulative abuse I've ever seen in print. If I were counseling someone going through that issue, I would probably pull out that chapter as an example. It takes the danger signs and puts them to living flesh in the dialogue of an evil monkey: "Now Puzzle, I understand what needs to be done better than you. You know you're not clever, Puzzle." From the beginning Shift makes Puzzle do the dirty work, railroading over all his protests. He sends Puzzle into a dangerous, cold pool, sends him to the market for bananas (making him think he wants a walk when he doesn't), and forces him to put on a lionskin costume when he's tired. It's easy to see that Shift is bad from moment one. And Puzzle has believed Shift for so long that he really does believe he isn't clever anymore: a tragic sign of an abusing relationship.

Throughout the story, Puzzle is rescued from Shift and lifted from his captivity. C.S. Lewis, through Eustace, points out that believing lies does damage. "If you'd spent less time saying you weren't clever and more time trying to be as clever as you can--" Jill, of course, shuts him up, though I think it's an interesting point that lies we believe about ourselves contribute to the unhealthy power an abuser can exercise, denoting that we bear some responsibility for our own actions. (Though certainly not at all for theirs.) I also thought of a danger signal earlier in the book: "There were very few Talking Beasts or Men or Dwarfs, or people of any sort, in that part of the wood, but Shift had one friend and neighbor who was a donkey called Puzzle." That sounds a knell of concern. An abuser with one friend, far away from anyone else who could challenge him or tell Puzzle what was really going on. It's so sad. Puzzle had no help. He was stuck on his own, and it's easy to get stuck on your own. We all need people to help us. But while it's sad, thankfully it also has a good ending: Lewis gently depicts the healing that came when Puzzle found precious, true community and Aslan.

Another thing that struck me in the book was how important remembering history was in dark moments. In chapter four, after a captive King Tirian sees a strange, harsh Aslan appear on the hill near him, he is left in cold and darkness. At that moment, he sets his mind back to remembering. "He thought of other Kings....He thought of his great-grandfather's great-grandfather King Rilian....Then he went further back and thought about Rilian's father, Caspian the Seafarer....And then he remembered (for he had always been good at history when he was a boy) how those same four children who had helped Caspian had been in Narnia over a thousand years before." Remembering gives Tirian the tool he needs to cry out to Aslan and the four children from the past. It's impossible not to draw the parallel: time and again in Scripture, remembrance of God's acts of deliverance gives hope for the future.

Later on in the book, in chapter eight, King Tirian is walking with Eustace, Jill, and their tiny band of survivors in one of the happiest scenes in that bleak middle. They're in the midst of a beautiful wood when Jill says "It's a pity there's always so much [misfortune] happening in Narnia." In that moment, Jewel the Unicorn says that she's "quite mistaken". He tells her more ancient Narnian history than we've probably heard in the series thus far, covering the time between The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Swanwhite the Queen. Centuries of dances, feasts, and tournaments. King Gale, who delivered the Lone Islands from a dragon. While this isn't used to draw out hope, it's a fascinating moment in the story.

It's a story of high emotion: a great epic at the end of a tale for children. It twists your heart in the reading of it from Jill's tears in battle, to the bear's heartrending confusion in his moment of death (which my sister pointed out to me), to the dwarves' rejection of truth after Shift used their religion to lie to them. Throughout the dark moments, Tirian's personal demeanor and relationship with Jewel the Unicorn give a feeling of courteous, chivalric knighthood in a way I noticed differently from the other tales. (For some reason, I don't know why, King Tirian was one of my favorite kings.) King Tirian and Jewel's iconic stand by the white rock is a fitting climax to the seventh story in Narnia. I won't spoil the ending for those of you who haven't read it. But in the midst of the darkness, Tirian's steadfast faith gives comfort: "Courage, child. We are all between the paws of the true Aslan."

Skip just this paragraph if you don't want a couple of spoilers. The only thing that struck me as a little off (and I'm being too perfectionist, I'm like, this is Lewis's story, Schuyler, it's OK) was the spiritually-blind dwarves still sitting in the middle of the grass when other animals have streamed off into Aslan's shadow. Why is this cockroach in my salad? Aslan's country is supposed to be perfect. Secondly, I know it's slightly rebellious and perhaps theologically questionable, but I was always glad that Emeth got to Aslan's country. Perhaps not right, but it is how I feel. And lastly, I was also glad when a friend sent me a quote she found about Susan from C.S. Lewis: "The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end--in her own way." ~C.S. Lewis, letter of 22 January 1957

Later in the book another beautiful quote pops up: "Tirian said they could come with him and take their chance--or as he much more sensibly called it, 'the adventure that Aslan would send them'." In Aslan's hands, there is no chance. His sovereignty still reigns, and he still cares about his people in this story: the confused mice who don't know if they should help Tirian. The bear who "doesn't understand." Puzzle, in the grip of an antichrist figure. Tirian, bereft of Cair Paravel. And Jill and Eustace, who can't quite remember how they left home. Even in the midst of fire and Calormene drums, of gathering enemies and the fear of being shoved through the stable door, the High King reigns in Narnia. And that squeezes my heart because through a story it washes us with the truth that God is taking care of us. Even when we don't understand, and the enemy is stronger, and our fears draw closer and closer to hand, God is taking care of us.

*slight spoilers follow* 

This story is hard and sad, but it is also glorious and hopeful. The contrasts are sharp, leaving the light bursting bright. I am glad to have read it. Of course, I want to read the rest of the chapters that go on and on, "each one better than the last." I never want Narnia to end.

So, even though I don't get to read them, I'm glad it never will.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

If You Need a Refresh on Devotions

cover photo via Goodreads 
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson have a fun mother/daughter presence on Twitter. Sometimes interacting with each other with a humorous repartee, but also maintaining their own ministries, their main focus is to bring Christians back to the heart of our faith: the Gospel. In doing that, they remind readers again and again that Christ loves us all, not for what we have done, but for what he has done. Their reminders always feel full of comfort and grace.

I met both of them at the National Bible Bee a few years ago, for a mother/daughter breakfast. I had just read the book they co-authored together, Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions, which offers age-appropriate answers for hard things to talk about. I think it was Elyse that day who mentioned her granddaughter's name was Eowyn (We got onto that because I was telling her about my name origin: an actress on Anne of Green Gables.)

A few months ago I noticed a new book of hers on Amazon, and I was excited that it might be one of my options in the Bethany House review program. Sure enough, it was. Finding the Love of Jesus From Genesis to Revelation is well worth adding to your TBR. It will help you rediscover the Scripture with a whole new appreciation.

Elyse starts with a Biblical framework, exploring some faulty reasons Christians have for reading their Bibles, (morality studies, daily fire insurance from problems, etc.) Instead, she points out that the Bible is about Christ. Using the example of Jesus walking on the Emmaus road in Luke 24, she says that since he found himself in all the Scriptures, we should look for him in the Old Testament too.

As a side note, something she said blew my mind: Jesus read the Scriptures growing up knowing he was the central figure. They were all about him. That left me in awe because any normal human facing that would collapse under the pride, but Jesus was able to read something that was entirely about himself while maintaining his sinlessness.

Elyse spends the majority of the rest of the book demonstrating how to take on a Christ-centered mindset in reading the Old Testament. Because she's writing to women, she explores some biblical accounts about women, including Esther and Deborah. But she also goes into men, including Job and Moses. At the end of each chapter, she offers questions which encourage readers to respond to the chapter and to dig into Scripture for themselves. While I couldn't do them in the initial read-through, I'd really like to come back to them. This book is a great choice to jumpstart morning devotions, to study with a group, or even to gift someone who likes studying the Scriptures. Its primary focus is to point us all to what Christ did and how he loves his people.

I'm still working through a couple of points in the book that my heart isn't quite with yet. I understand the point about the Bible not being about us (and Elyse does a really good job explaining what is still about us, especially in the chapter about the law) but there's something about my understanding of that perspective that still bothers me, and I haven't worked through it yet. That's not the fault of the book. It's just where I'm at in my spiritual maturing. Also, another point she made about the law was frustrating at first, but let to a really neat lightbulb moment this morning. She said, "What this third use [of the law] should not do, however, is cause us to think that our grateful obedience earns God's love for us. So, should we strive to love in response to his love? Yes, of course. But whatever we accomplish in our striving, none of it merits God's love or care for us. We can't be good enough, but he loves us anyway." Initially, I felt frustrated since I was hearing, "Nothing you can do earns God's favor, but still do good anyway." I didn't really see the point of doing that just in itself. But I had more to learn. 

A missing piece of my understanding fell into place listening to Michael Card this weekend. He's talking about hesed: God's extravagant favors to us, and how he wants his children to ask for favors even though we know we don't deserve them. The extravagant love of hesed, he said, hopes for and wants a response from us in like kind. An example of that would be the sinful woman, whom Jesus has forgiven much, and who washes his feet with her tears, anointing them with oil. That's extravagant hesed in return for extravagant hesed. It's not about earning grace. It's about responding to grace with extravagant love. Obedience is Jesus' love language--and so it's an extravagant and heartfelt response to what he's done for us.

That's what Elyse was saying as well. I just couldn't hear her saying it until this morning. "Remember that the primary law is to love, and love is always responsive in nature. He loves us, therefore we love him and want to please him. Only as you remember how much he has loved you will you be motivated to love and obey in return" (Finding the Love of Jesus, pg. 128-129).

I obey so much out of obligation and fear and anxiety. These teachings are good truths for me to hear.

I read the Bible once a year for a while using a couple of different plans for daily devotions. Two years ago I felt in the need of breaking the routine, and have spent the time since in various study methods, study books, and BSF. But I'm starting to feel the hunger to return again, and reading Elyse's book gave me something fresh to hunt for when I start up a plan again. I want to look for Jesus and his love as I read through it. I'm so glad I read Finding the Love of Jesus From Genesis to Revelation, and I would definitely recommend it to love and know Jesus more.

Find it on Amazon or Goodreads.

I received this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, June 22, 2018

1 Year Ago {100% on Kickstarter}

I wasn't quite sure when the date was for the end of the War of Loyalties Kickstarter campaign; so I checked recently--and when I found out it was this Friday, I set a reminder on my phone. 

A year ago today, sometime around 9:30, we hit 100% funding. 

That opened up the door to so many dreams--to paying an editor. Choosing the cover designer I really wanted to work with. Creating beautiful posters for characters (including one of Jaeryn's iconic vow). A year later I have a book of my own in print--that has been loved so kindly in its maiden voyage. 

It was a dream that started with a lined piece of paper, a pen, and an old orange folder seven years ago. 

That Kickstarter money covered costs and then some. It covered font licenses that I hadn't planned on, in order to reimburse other creatives for their work. It covered shipping (those were crazy days standing while postal workers slapped stickers on many boxes.) It covered necklaces and shipping boxes. But more than that: your investment in the project fueled me in those last edits to try to make it the very best the story could be. I wanted to honor your investment--and that helped me in that final re-write it really needed. I had a tribe. A waiting audience. That was an incredible gift in itself. 

While there were a couple of learning-curve rough spots, overall the journey of publication was a dream come true. It was a journey of enough. Enough money. Enough time. Enough joy and knowledge. Enough help. It was a gift from God that I hope I will still be looking back on and remembering when I am old. 

Perhaps I should make the reminder on my phone a yearly one: an Ebenezer stone to mark the way. 

Your 100% made it possible to hold my book in print 100 years from the time the story took place. It made it so I could sell books at our homeschool convention. It's brought across my path fans of characters I love. Next weekend I'll even be bringing copies to a World War One tea. And as I sit and write, there are several boxes of books across the room from me that will find their way to homes. 

Thank you to all of you who poured out. Because of you, I get to use the long-dreamed-of title, "Author".

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

In Which Mrs. Lynde Discovers Anne With an E

After watching the trailer for Anne with an E, Season 2, I thought it would be hilarious fun to have Mrs. Lynde's commentary on it. No disparagement to the series intended--I haven't seen it yet! A link to the trailer is found under "Trailer comes on", which may help with the context of the article.  I hope you all enjoy. :) ~Schuyler 
via Pixabay
It has long been known in the annals of time that strong personalities must possess their own territory. Every bird must have its thicket, every lion must have its pride, and every woman must have her own kitchen. Such is the law of humanity, and this law is kept inviolate in Avonlea...

Mrs. Rachel Lynde reaches for a pair of spectacles and furtively glances towards the shut kitchen door. Jerry Buote sits at the table with a fresh jam and bread. All the curtains are closely drawn.

Mrs. Lynde: At my age I don't hold to modern laptops, but there comes a time for everything. I simply must know what the minister was talking about. I won't have a moment's peace until I do. Anne all over Netflix? What is this Netflix?

She pulls a laptop from under the kitchen table and sets the cord on top of it.

Mrs. Lynde: Mind you, the church has come to a pretty pass when ministers are mentioning movies in sermons. When I was a girl, such a thing was never heard of. Did they exhaust the Holy Scriptures, that they have to fall back to pagan entertainment? It's a disgrace, that's what. Jerry, how does this thing turn on?

Jerry Buote obligingly plugs in the cord and turns on the laptop. Mrs. Lynde puts on her spectacles and watches over his shoulder.

Mrs. Lynde: YouTube? What's YouTube? The minister said it was on Netflix.

Jerry: You'd have to pay for Netflix. YouTube is free.

Mrs. Lynde: Well, go to YouTube then. I'm certainly not paying hard-earned money until I know if it's worth something.

Jerry pulls up Netflix. Mrs. Lynde stares open-mouthed at the array of videos offered.

Mrs. Lynde: How did you learn about computers, Jerry? It's not natural in my opinion. And do you watch YouTube?

Jerry mumbles something under his breath.

Mrs. Lynde: Speak up. I can't understand you.

Jerry, hastily: Sometimes. Here's the trailer the minister was talking about.

Trailer comes on:

Anne: "Isn't the world a remarkable place?" 

Mrs. Lynde: She'd say that. Marilla never could get that girl to settle down to anything like a normal child.

Matthew and Marilla sit on the sand eating a picnic. 

Mrs. Lynde: Lawful heart, is that Marilla Cuthbert? And Matthew? Having a picnic? I can tell you, that never happened. All of Avonlea would have heard of it.

Gilbert appears walking with a friend along the road.

Mrs. Lynde squints at the screen: Is that his father?

Jerry: He's an orphan in this season.

Mrs. Lynde: An orphan? Gilbert Blythe's no orphan. His father was alive to see his grandchildren, that's what. He would turn over in his grave to hear it--I only hope Gilbert doesn't see it mentioned after the funeral.

Jerry: Gilbert worked at the docks in Charlottetown in this show.

Mrs. Lynde, outraged gasp: Gilbert Blythe lived in a respectable family until he went to a respectable school and became a respectable doctor. To think I lived to see the day when the truth was as over-rated as this--and I've heard some lies in my time, believe me. I once heard of a man in White Sands who lied to his wife about what he'd done with the crop money. Died in his bed that very night. Now people are being paid for such tales.

The teacher appears in a pageant costume.

Mrs. Lynde: Well, that's the best he ever looked, that's what. He never did benefit the school. Making girls sit with the boys was a disgrace to Avonlea.

Gilbert Blythe stands on the deck of a boat. 

Mrs. Lynde: They probably have him traipsing off to Las Vegas now. Pretty soon Anne will be in boy's clothes going with him.

Anne: have you ever heard anything more romantical? 

Mrs. Lynde: Well, she would say that too. Far be it from me to withhold credit where credit is due. And she did sleep with Diana and Minnie May. But lawful heart, what are they thinking of? And why are they mixing up Anne with this nonsense? There must be a Yankee involved with it somewhere. No, Jerry, don't touch any more of those videos. It's a nonsense and a waste of time.

Jerry: But the minister watched it.

Mrs. Lynde: Next time the minister comes I'll give him an earful. Endorsing a pack of lies like that from the pulpit? I tried to tell the committee. A young seminary graduate barely two years out of college, and he's been to Washington D.C. Why, a minister the exact same age over in Charlottetown embezzled the church funds--right out of the offering plates, that's what.

Jerry: I can take the computer off your hands, Mrs. Lynde.

Mrs. Lynde: Certainly not. I will personally take my kitchen ax to this terror of a machine tomorrow morning. It isn't even fit to give to the Pyes.

Jerry: They already have one. They watch it every night after dinner.

Mrs. Lynde: If Mr. Pye wants his children to grow up with heads stuffed full of deceit, that is certainly no business of mine. I'll go over tomorrow afternoon and tell him my opinion of it, make no mistake. It's high time you were in bed, Jerry. Have you seen to the cows?

Jerry: Yes, ma'am.

Jerry disappears. Mrs. Lynde looks at the computer, which has now fallen into sleep mode. Slowly, she closes the lid half-way. Then she pauses.

Mrs. Lynde: Oh, I'll never have a minute's peace until I know more.

She opens the lid again and clicks on the screen. But Jerry has exited the internet browser, and Mrs. Lynde stares blankly at a desktop of confusing icons. After a few fruitless clicks of the mouse, she closes the lid again.

Mrs. Lynde: I'll take the ax to it tonight, that's what.

Enjoy this? Check out The Olympics Come to Avonlea for more Mrs. Lynde commentary!

Friday, June 15, 2018

In Which I Commence A Stack of Improving Reading

via Pixabay
Marianne Dashwood started a stack of improving reading by the end of Sense and Sensibility. I wonder if she finished it; somehow I think she did. Her book stack was a result of a heart change, and I don't think it met with the fate of Emma's 101 titles.

I'm starting a list of my own--twelve titles that I'd like to read this summer in company with a summer reading program I'm taking part in. This reading program is from the Holy Grail of bookstores--the place with good deals, one that invites you to linger and breathe in the scent of it all and find some introverted soul peace.

This reading program has specific categories to choose from, so Wednesday morning I was busily looking at my TBR stack and seeing which categories I can fit the books into. And with great success--I've even got a couple of books to spare past the ten book requirement! (silent screaming how is this going to happen) Here's what I'm looking at so far:

(These categories were created by Baker Book House.)

Biography: Martin Luther, by Eric Metaxas
I got this book for Christmas; I'm really excited to read it and would like to finish it in this calendar year, HALP.

A Problem in Society Today: The Gospel Comes With a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield
I'd heard of this book before, but it was also mentioned in our church newsletter and the subject coincides with an initiative our church started where they're encouraging households to reach out to someone with the Gospel in the next week or so.

Published in 2018: Speak Truth in Your Heart, by Sarah Mally
This is such an important book for girls, equipping them to address spiritual lies and battles with the truth of God's Word. I'm looking forward to digging into it this summer to prepare my own heart for discussing it with my Bright Lights group this fall.

Teen Novel: Fawkes, by Nadine Brandes
Not only is Nadine Brandes the Queen Ninja of connecting with her fans, but I'm hoping to meet her this year at Realm Maker's, and I really want to get a copy of Fawkes to have her sign it (as well as bring my whole Out of Time series, who are we kidding.)

Recommended to You: Culture Care, by Makoto Fujimura
This book I think would have some good thoughts on art and Christianity to tuck away in my brain for the fiction class I'll be teaching later this year. It's a book my sister likes and recommended to me!

Book You've Waited Too Long To Read: Flame of Resistance, by Tracy Groot
My friend Amanda Barratt recommended this book to me, and we're going to read it together soon. I'm SO EXCITED!!

One-word Title: Hamlet, by Shakespeare
A friend is working on a Hamlet re-telling, and I really want to read this story, not only because she likes it, but so I can understand the original to better understand the retelling when it comes out!

Kid's Chapter Title: The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis
And thus will finish my Chronicles of Narnia re-read.

Author I've Never Read Before: A Higher Loyalty, by James Comey
I just picked this up from the library. The committee questioning with Comey last year was fascinating to watch, and I'm looking forward to reading his book for myself.

Made Into a Movie: A Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Steadman
It's gonna rip my heart out. A story about a husband and wife who tend a lighthouse and decide to keep a shipwrecked baby when they can't have kids of their own--even though they know who the mother is.

A Country I'd Like to Visit: Victoria: The Queen, by Julia Baird
When Suzannah Rowntree shared about the 1.99 Kindle deal, I picked this book up because I had a biography about Queen Victoria on my TBR for this year. First I flipped through it, then I started to read it in earnest. I'm geeking out, and it's already fascinating.

I only have until August 25th. Wish me luck. 

Are any of these books on your summer list? What are you hoping to read this summer?

also, half of these are nonfiction, who kidnapped schuyler 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Halfway Into Memory

via Pixabay
This year has slipped almost halfway into memory.

It's always startling to think that a year is half-way gone. Don't laugh; but twenty-three feels older than I've felt before, not just because I am, but maybe because I have passed an invisible inner curtain. In some ways it has felt like a season of spiritual heart-searching and uncomfortable questions; in other ways it has felt like a season of selling books and housesitting and enjoying those things.

Half the year is almost gone. I told my mom the other day that I'd read more children's books this year. They are easy; fast; beloved. A lot of them are books I hadn't read in my childhood, new worlds of wonder (A Wrinkle in Time, Boys of Blur). Some (Narnia, Gone-Away Lake) are remembered books I'm returning to.

Last month the sis and I spent the most time we've ever spent away from our parents, house-sitting by ourselves. It was another milestone; a passing of something. On those days I propped open my eyes well after midnight to read a bit of Henry V and feel impressed with myself--or to read The Borrowers, with their clash of whimsy and bittersweetness. A book like The Borrowers leaves you with a gentle ache afterward.

And there are more memories still--memories of reading about a sweet-souled girl fighting for right and justice after she is pulled out of Earth into a new kingdom of responsibilities. (Crowning Heaven) That book was read on a Saturday with drizzle in the air, as we traveled to an open house. And it was read again the following day on the way to church--cramming in a tense scene as we pulled into the parking lot. Another memory.

I won't remember all these memories. Life moves fast--sometimes it's hard to remember what I did a few days ago. But those memories are becoming me--heart and soul layered with the richness of living, whether I can call them to mind or not.

It's really a wonderful world--sitting with a warm breakfast plate and an open Bible, looking out our back window at the chipmunk who likes to sit on our step of a morning. Eating a warm British muffin with jam and then cracking open Psalm 119 for another round of working at getting its words into my mind. Deciding at random to open The Valley of Vision and start the day with a prayer. Sometimes I forget life is wonderful when there are things to stress and wonder at--niggling sins in my own soul that can lead to a cess-pit of naval-gazing. But it is, after all, the remembrance of the small things that helps us stay steady--something a friend's quote on Instagram reminded me of:
Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. ~The Hobbit
 If my heart while writing this post could be summed up in a piece of music (and I am so not the person to draw these sorts of comparisons) it would probably be John Debney's Elephant Waterfall. The frailty--the love--the change--they all ache in a terrible, wonderful way which the music perfectly captures.

So here's to new memories this summer--a cascade of them, found in turning book pages and coffee shop visits--in my first all-girl road trip and maybe, at long last, conquering Psalm 119. In dreaming of the next teaching year. In nights of gladness and tears.

I am eager for more layers in my soul.
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