March 26, 2010

Welcome to Our Shelves!

So I decided to join in all the bookshelf fun going on over at YLCF this week. Therefore it is my pleasure to introduce you to our books!

I say "our" books because my husband is every bit as much of a reader as I am. When we married, our books also joined together in the holy state of matrimony and became one rather large collection (sorta like the Brady Bunch). We dream of having our very own library/study one day with wall-to-wall shelves.

Until that day, though, we work with what we got. That means many of our books stay in storage because we simply do not have enough bookshelves to go around. And now if you will, Exhibit A:

Location: Livingroom

Uppermost shelf: bible study guides, various Christian topic books. C.S. Lewis. Hind's Feet on High Places, My Utmost for His Highest.
Next shelf down: our favorite fantasy collections, many Ted Dekker books.
Oh, and our phone.

Middlest shelf? Third one down?
Photo albums. Not books exactly, but deserving of their own shelf nonetheless.
Wedding album, college albums, childhood albums, honeymoon, vacations, etc.

Middling Shelf? Fourth down? (having math issues today, can you tell?)
More of our favorite fantasies. Guess what we read a lot of?
Lord of the Rings, Narnai, David B. Coe, and some random books, such as my Spanish-English dictionary and the Busy Book for Toddlers. Oh, and Artemis Fowl who SHOULDN'T be on this shelf at all. He's a library book.

Bottom shelf: This one belongs to Caleb. Who prefers his books strewn all over the floor.
It's true. No matter how many times I pick them up (or make him pick them up), they are back on the floor in a matter of minutes. That's not to say he doesn't love his books. He does. And he loves for us to read to him.

This is an old-piano-bench-turned-end-table. Location? Also the livingroom.
This is where the library books live.
(That's my bible lying on the floor. No, my bible is NOT a library book. But sometimes our books cross over. You know, to see how the other half lives. We don't mind our books mingling, as long as they get along and the library-owned ones don't get lost.)

See? Artemis Fowl was visiting Tolkien, but I've put him back in his place. Other books here include several different histories of Washington state and our island in particular. And a few Harry Potter books I'm re-reading just for fun. And a Jane Austen fan fiction that looked interesting. And . . . I think I'll stop. My eyes are bigger than my library card.

See these boxes? Full of books.

These, too. They have no home at the moment. As I said, we need more shelves.

Exhibit B. Bookshelf #2. Location: Den
The organizers hold old magazines, notebooks (of which I have many), and scrap-booking books.
Then there are my writing books, research books, Jane Austen collection, and assortment of non-fiction volumes. Oh, and a few Shakespeare (my favorite ones).
There are two more shelves below this one, but alas! those belong to Caleb as well.
They are currently empty. Actually, they're usually empty.
Because as I may or may not have mentioned, Caleb prefers his books (and toys and clothes) on the floor. Much as I may try to convince him otherwise, I know a losing battle when I see one.
Some day he'll appreciate full shelves and clean floors. I just know he will.
Anyway, that's my story (and my shelves!) and I'm stickin' to it!

March 14, 2010

I Find God in the Oddest Places

She is neither a real person nor someone of my own creation but a character from a computer game.

Her name is neither Jaclyn nor Jacqueline but Jack.

And it took me the longest time to puzzle out why, with nine other computer characters to befriend and talk to, Jack remained my favorite.

Her character is unexpected and unconventional, even for a science fiction, space-exploring, futuristic computer game. You first meet her on a prison ship, where she's kept under lock and key as an inmate; she is incredibly strong, completely bald, and covered head-to-toe in a bold, complex pattern of tatoos. She has a mouth that would scare any sailor, and you later learn she's on the prison ship for murder.

Not the sort of person you'd really want to cozy up to, you know? Certainly not BFF material, nor the kind of woman you'd invite to chick flick night.

Nevertheless, as the game progressed, I found myself fascinated by Jack. Not by her "bad girl" persona, but by something else.

I took every opportunity to talk with her as I played the game; in all conversations with your characters, you can either respond with understanding and empathy or with irritation and disinterest. I chose the former route with Jack. And the more I responded with kindness, the more her tough, crude exterior began to fall away. Little by little, she let her guard down and piece by piece, she shared her story:

Jack was raised by neither parents nor guardians, but by a host of scientists who performed experiments on her from the earliest age.

She had neither friends nor enemies, but lived out her childhood in near-total isolation.

She had been abused in most ways a child can be; manipulated, used, and exploited, she quickly learned no one was safe. Until now.

As the game's story line unfolds, I slowly earn Jack's trust. At first, she thinks I'm just being nice because I want something. Then gradually, she begins to understand I'm nice because I genuinely care about her. And that realization changes her.

Jack begins to see the world differently. She begins to exhibit empathy where none existed before. She still talks rough and gruff, but after a few encounters with her past, I also discover she's capable of compassion.

Then it hit me one morning while I did dishes and thought thoughts wholly unconnected with the game: I was watching a redemption story unfold right before my eyes. Heck, I even got to participate in it! Jack was a modern-day "man of the tombs" who was so broken, no one would touch her. She hated the world because the world had always hated her. Yet, when someone offered her a bit of understanding and friendship, what an unparalleled difference it made! Just like the man of the tombs. Just like so many others. Just like me.

Turns out, Jack is my favorite character because deep down, I know there's a little piece of her living in me. A dark, bitter side of me I prefer others not see, but which exists all the same. A broken, angry part of my soul that yearns for kindness, empathy, and salvation.

She may not be real. Her story may be vastly different from mine. But her redemption is beautiful to watch nonetheless. Stories affect us in powerful ways, whether they are read in books or played out on computer screens. Jack's story reminds me of who I am, where I came from. It reminds me of my need for a Savior.

"It's your kindness that leads us to repentence, oh Lord.

Knowing that You love us, no matter what we do

Makes us want to love You, too." --Leslie Phillips "Your Kindness"

March 10, 2010

Thinking About Books Today . . .

. . . both reading and writing them. :)

I've done a lot of thinking today. Mostly about books. This may or may not have had something to do with a trip to the library this morning. Or the eight books I checked out when I'd only gone in to pick up three.

What can I say? There's just something deeply satisfying about leaving a library (or bookstore) with an armful of books. It's very happy-making.

I suppose that makes me a bibliophile. But I can live with that. I've been called worse. ;)

I surprised myself today. I've been in a book drought for months. If you look closely at my "Under the Reading Lamp" section on this blog, you'll notice I haven't updated that list since early November (ugh, I hate admitting it). Holidays, birthdays, Man Child, Husband, other hobbies. They all compete for my time. Some things are more important than others and in the last few months, reading has been shoved so far down the To-Do list hole, I need a flashlight just to see it.

I was happy to be reminded of my bibliophile-ness today. The bookshelf and reading lamp and library have been neglected too long. More on that later, though.

Reading isn't the only thing occupying my mind today. I've also been thinking about writing. Namely, my severe lack of it lately. A good friend of mine from college FB-ed me the other day and asked how my writing was coming. Was I working on any new projects?

Ha, I thought to myself. Nope. I wish. I should. I'd like to.

(I do, after all, have two half-written children's books that need finishing. Then there's the fantasy book about magi I started writing with Jason. And the bilingual fairy tale that is actually complete and polished and ready to be sent out to publishers for consideration. I just need to get my butt in gear).

The truth is, I miss writing. I blog, yes. But I miss the kind of writing I did in college, the kind of writing I went to college for.

(Can you hear the guilt? It's mewing around the corner. Quiet but insistent. Yep, I hear it, too.)

I tell myself I don't have time to write regularly, consistently. But that's not true. The truth is . . . more complicated. It involves issues of discipline, intimidation, and attention span (or lack thereof). It's actually a perfect topic for another blog post, another time.

(Ha! did you see me weasle my way out of that one?)

So yeah. I've been thinking about writing today. Pondering a few changes I might make, a few possibilities I might explore.

Y'all might see a few changes around The Inkwell, too! It's spring after all, right? (In some parts of the country, anyway ;). And spring is an excellent time for cleaning out, cleaning up, and trying new things.

Which brings me back to books. I'm starting a brand new reading list for 2010 and I want your recommendations. Most of you have offered recommendations at some point in the past; but they never made it on a list and if I don't write things down, I forget them.

Just like Dori. Nothin' in my noggin. :)

So if you would, pretty please, leave a comment for me on this post and tell me two of your favorite stories and/or authors. I'd appreciate it. Thanks, y'all!

March 9, 2010

Twenty-Eight Big Ones

Happy Birthday
funny hubby of mine!

You make me laugh and I love you for it.

From Tolkien and Dumas to Star Trek and WoW, we've shared so much through the years.
Now we're married and parents, but you're still my best friend.
I love you.
Happy Birthday!

March 2, 2010

Cute is His Middle Name

It began Sunday morning, when Caleb wanted to help do the dishes. Caleb loves doing dishes. Mostly because it gives him an excuse to get sopping wet and spray water everywhere.

Problem is, I was busy baking Amish Bread that morning. I couldn't oversee Tropical Storm Caleb. Plus Jason had just asked me (with that hopeful impish grin I can't refuse) if I would please make pancakes for breakfast.

"Pan-ceck? Pan-ceck?? Eat! Eat!"

The dishes were momentarily forgotten. Caleb scampered into the dining room and before I could pull out my bisquick and eggs, he'd pushed a chair around the island and up to the counter.

Jason laughed. "He wants to help."

I gave my husband a raised-eyebrow-look. A look that said, "Ha. You've never seen Caleb 'helping' in the kitchen before." But Jason agreed to help clean any mess that ensued, so up at the counter Caleb stayed.

Below are some candid shots of what followed:
(and by candid I mean really really bad photography)

We had to rescue the sugar once or twice; Caleb's discovered sugar, what it looks like, and more importantly, how it tastes. He'll shovel handfuls into his mouth if you let him.

But he also discovered baking powder that morning, which apparently doesn't taste so pleasant. His response? Pffpht, pffght, "Nasty!"

No egg shells in the batter, although one egg missed the bowl entirely when it was cracked.

You can see Jason laughing in this one. Mommy wasn't quite so happy, but I'll admit, Caleb was darn cute.

Going in for a "you are the cutest boy in whole wide world and I love you" Daddy kiss.

Yeah, that shirt didn't make it past breakfast. But true to his word, Jay did help with the cleaning and Caleb was happy, so who am I to complain?

I tend to shy away from letting Caleb "help" in the kitchen; I worry about the mess we'll make (and then have to clean). But I think I miss out on memories like last Sunday when I worry about the messes too much. My kitchen is none the worse for wear and the pancakes were edible, so no harm done. Right?
I think the pictures and memories were worth the mess. :) Guess I need to adjust my thinking a bit . . .
What do y'all think about toddlers in the kitchen? Have any stories to share?

March 1, 2010

Just a Bit of Silliness

Because I haven't had time to write a proper post.

Becaues I have had time to sit and scrapbook.

Because I was on a scrappin' roll tonight, folks. Lemme tell ya. :)

And because these two pages make me laugh out loud.

Hope they made you laugh, too. :)
Night y'all!