Willow’s Back in Chapter 3 of “A Lonely Willow”

A Lonely Willow: Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Willow reflected on the past month one morning as she sat on the back deck watching the sun rise over the water.   Each day had brought an increasing sense of peace as she allowed the serenity of her new home to fill her.  She had enjoyed reading her Bible in the silence of each morning, and felt closer to the Lord than she ever had.

Her little home had become a source of joy to her, rearranging things inside to suit her needs and tastes, and walking the grounds outside drinking in the sunshine on days it allowed.  Rain had filled many of the spring days so sunny ones were treasured.  Willow was looking forward to planting gardens, both flowers and vegetables, and the time that it would give her outside.

However, she could feel a restlessness begin to fill her as well: a restlessness that she attributed to a lack of human interaction.   She had yet to venture into town.  Avery had been out once a week with groceries and any books or magazines she had requested.  He rarely stayed longer than it took to drink a cup of coffee, but she enjoyed his visits and saw them as her touch with the outside world.

This morning an idea began to form in Willow’s mind, though.  Although, she had been feeling too fatigued to make the walk into town (about a 3 hour trip one way), Avery had purchased a bicycle for her that would make the trip much faster and easier for her.  It had been leaning up against one wall in the little shed and Willow decided that today would be the day she would make her first trip to town.

Once the decision had been made, she quickly grabbed a backpack, filling it with snacks and a bottle of water.  Slipping her arms through the straps, she walked purposefully towards the shed and threw open the door.  There stood the shiny, new bicycle and Willow smiled, turning her face up to the sun and its golden rays, before grabbing the handles and starting the walk down her dirt lane to the road.

The ride to town filled Willow with a sense of excitement as she travelled up and down low hills, often quite close to the ocean.  She hugged the shoulder of the road as cars whizzed past her and took her time following along behind them.  Women weeding garden beds and men cutting grass threw her a friendly wave as she followed the curves of the road, finally reaching the small town Avery had showed her on their midnight ride through that first night.

Willow stopped outside a grocery store and took a moment to get her bearings.  Directly across from her stood an imposing building, probably a courthouse, or something like that, she surmised.  There was no sign in front and Willow figured it wouldn’t matter since she didn’t plan on needing anything like that.  Various storefronts dotted the street, a thrift store (might be good for when she needed new clothes), a “Dollar or More” bargain store, a small pharmacy with a clinic beside it, and a used bookstore.   Books were Willow’s weakness.  She knew at some point she’d be checking out that one, but perhaps not today.

Farther down the street Willow noticed a sign for a library.  That was one place she knew she would definitely check out today.  And between the library and the grocery (where she now stood) was a small green space.  It was really too small to be called a park, although a sign near the street proclaimed it “Victoria Park”.  A gazebo stood in the middle of it and a few benches were scattered around cement sidewalks.   Tulips and cedar bushes filled in the spaces between the sidewalks and buildings, making it look an inviting spot to stop for a rest.

Willow decided to check out the small grocery store first.  As she walked up and down aisles pushing a small cart she looked at the people around her.  A mom with two little girls pushed a cart piled high with boxes of cookies, apples, and cereal.   Willow smiled thinking, Breakfast of champions!

An older man walked slowly down the aisles, pausing to roll an apple around in his hands before putting it back, knocking on the watermelons before moving on, and then carefully selecting a few potatoes to place in his cart.

A woman in a business suit breezed quickly around the store, grabbing items quickly off of shelves.  To Willow, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what she picked, except to fill her cart.

Finally Willow finished circling the store and headed to the checkout.  A young woman stood behind the conveyor belt, chatting cheerily with each person as they paid for their purchases.  The cold shoulder, business suit lady gave, didn’t seem to faze her as she chatted on.   The mom with three girls smiled tiredly and answered back with a few words before packing up her groceries and heading out the door.  Willow was next and she smiled broadly back at the young woman.

The name tag attached to her store vest proclaimed her name to be Lola.  The frizzy black hair framing her face made the name feel appropriate.

“Good morning!” she sang as she began ringing Willow’s purchases in.

“Good morning.” Willow replied back.

“Are you new around here?  Didn’t hear of anyone new moving into Last Chance.  A’ course the Peterson place been up for sale for a while but I hadn’t heard it sold.”  Lola looked up and the innocence in her eyes caused Willow’s heart to stop pounding.  She didn’t know who Willow was and wouldn’t unless Willow told her.

“I am new here but not in Last Chance.  I live a ways from here.  Just came to the closest place for a few things.”

“Most people head into the city so we’re real glad you decided to stop here.  Hard to make a go of it when Walmart is just 30 minutes that’a’way.” Lola jerked a thumb behind her back and then got to bagging up Willow’s few items.   Willow paid and picked up her bag.

“Thanks for stoppin’ in.  Hope we see ya again.”  Lola flashed Willow a bright smile and Willow smiled back before heading for the doors.   She could be friendly.  There was no problem with being friendly and it was okay because she lived too far away to become “friends” with anyone here.  As long as no one knew her it would be all right.  And she had no intention of coming in to town often enough for anyone to get to know her on a personal level.

Willow decided to stop at one of the benches in the park while she packed up her few items in her backpack.  She took a swig of water and quickly ate a protein bar before slipping her arms back through the straps.  Today was not the day for enjoying the area.  Maybe another time she would enjoy the scenery more.   Next stop: the library and then home.

Blue Sun – Book Review

Blue Sun by [Abrey, Tracy]

A week or so ago I mentioned Blue Sun on my Facebook page.  I hope you guys took advantage of it’s price (free at the time) – although from what I’ve seen on Amazon this book is still a really good price as e-books go (especially for one of good quality).

Genny Hazard is experiencing twinges of bitterness as her plane touches down on the Isle of Man in the British Isles.  Uprooted from her home in the States at the beginning of her senior year of highschool, she still can’t help but be impressed that her dad is working on alternative energy for the isle.

However, from the moment her plane lands, Genny finds herself enshrouded in a mystery that includes stalkers with a disturbing red tattoo, a mysterious castle that no one can get to, and mythology that makes her question her scientific beliefs.

I’ll admit I was extremely skeptical about the book as I started reading.  And, in all honesty, the only reason I picked it up was because it was free last weekend – and I knew the author.  If I hadn’t known Ms. Abrey I would probably not have started reading it at all.  Fantasy is not really my genre when it comes to books, but with this one I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.   I only had a few moments of “Really???”  I find folklore fascinating but I don’t dive into the world of fairies as reality.   However, I thought Ms. Abrey did an amazing job of weaving the two together without creating an unrealistic world.

Minus the “flying humanoid” and the “blue glow” mystery (I can’t give away that part), I found the book very believable on a whole and I like reality.   The essence of the book is fantasy, though, and you will find that it is really based on that.

One thing that I really liked was how Tracy Abrey wove the Bible into it without making it weird.  I honestly wondered how she could mix the two, Bible and mythology, but I think she did an amazing job of weaving the two together without causing you to question her theology.   My mom (originally from Ireland) always cautioned me about pagan folklore and it’s Satanic origins so I was expecting to feel a little awkward about that, but I found that Ms. Abrey really stayed away from that aspect, even though, at times, I thought she was heading that direction.   I think that’s one of the things that really made me want to keep reading.  I was trying to find fault with what she had written so I could feel justified in not having read it over a year ago when Ms. Abrey first contacted me about it.  I know, that’s terrible!

This book was a really great read and would be a good option for those looking for good books for their older teens (it is published as young adult fiction).

About the Author:

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Tracy Abrey has been passionate about writing since stating in her second grade  “school days” book that when she grew up she wanted to write books. Earning a BA in English literature and French from Houston Baptist University and having taught high school English as she pursued her MA in English literature at DePaul University, her childhood passion has morphed into an adult career focused on young adult urban fantasy. Tracy has lived in Canada, France, and England and currently resides in the US with her husband and two children.

On a personal note: Ms. Abrey used to babysit me when I was a young girl and our families attended the same church.  One of my favorite memories of her is of her taking my name and putting it into a song (that belongs to the ’80’s, trust me) and coming up with Manda Panda.  That nickname has stuck with me since she started it so many years ago and it never fails to make me think of her every time someone calls me that.

Although we didn’t stay in touch as much as we would have liked, our families still managed to maintain a thread of contact, visiting with them in the States and even attending Ms Abrey’s wedding.  Facebook made that thread a little thicker and I have enjoyed seeing her progress as she wrote this book and the sequel.

In relation to this book, Tracy told me, “It was important to me in the creation of this series to provide a clean, but still riveting story for teens (and adults!) who deserve an exciting read that isn’t inundated with sex and swearing.”   THAT, to me, is a great thing for ALL books.  I definitely look forward to reading more from her in the future and can’t wait to start Book 2 in the Blue Sun Series (Dark Waters)

You can check out Ms Abrey’s website at:  tracyabrey.com

Find her books on Amazon.com – For Americans

 Amazon.ca  – For Canadian

Teaching Canadian History

One of the workshops I attended at our Homeschool Conference last month was on teaching Canadian history in your homeschool, and I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed with the workshop in general.  I even had the chance at the end to discuss some of my issues with the man who taught it, and while he agreed with my assessment, he didn’t have any ideas to help me.

Before I tackle the big subject, though, I want to give you three, short reasons on why we, as Canadians, should be learning Canadian history.  In another post I’ll talk some about ways to teach Canadian history in your homeschool and my thoughts on the workshop itself.

Reasons To Study Canadian History:

  1. One thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.

We’ve all heard this saying numerous times in relation to World History.  But how CAN we learn from history if we don’t even know that history?  How many prime ministers can you name?  Can you tell me who wrote the Canadian anthem?  Or how long we’ve even flown the Canadian flag?  Who was Joseph Howe (we have a main street in Halifax named after him)?   Who was T.T. Shields (an important figure in church history)?   Why is Canada so full of diversity (where did all the immigrants come from and why did they leave their home countries?  What sorts of laws have aided our country in the past that are not being enforced today?

There is so much that our children are missing out on learning.  Instead, many of us are using American curriculums in our homeschool and learning American history (which isn’t entirely bad – Canadian history is more woven with American’s past than many people know).  In more than one grade I might add.  And I’ve had many people say to me that they didn’t see the need for their students to do much more than learn about Canada in one “section” of their history curriculum for one year.

We know lots about the rest of the world and nothing about our own country.  That’s sad.

2. Canadians have no loyalty.

How can you be loyal to a country you know nothing about?  You have nothing to hold you here.  I realize that Canada is made up of a diverse group of people, but so is the United States.   I sometimes, almost, think there is no point in calling us “Canadians” anymore because each group so closely associates with the country that it came from.  They see no need to become “Canadian”.   And I know that I am generalizing here.  I realize that not EVERYONE falls under this category.

I, myself, am so fiercely patriotic that I had people in college who didn’t know me ask me if I was American after hearing me talk passionately about a subject regarding our country.  Canadians are known for not being patriotic.  That is so sad.  This is why our military is so under-funded, our soldiers barely paid to give our country the freedoms that we plaster on banners.

Knowing and understanding our history will encourage patriotism in our children.  Even learning our Christian heritage within Canada is important for understanding where we stand as churches.   I want my children to know how our Independent Baptist church came to be.  I want them to have a sense of pride in the country we live in.

3. It’s Biblical to remember history.

 All you have to do is open the Bible (especially in the book of Acts) and you can find numerous sermons where the disciples started their message by talking about the past.  The apostles gave a recording of Israel’s history, reminding them of where they came from.  It’s fascinating to study the subject.  The crossing of the Red Sea was a momentous occasion.  Waking up to find manna on the ground.  Getting water from a rock.  These were important events in the lives of the Israelites that helped them to remember what God had done for them and how He had brought them through so many trials.  Their past helped them to see where they were.   In essence, the Bible itself is one giant history book that takes us up to a certain point in the history of the world.  And there’s no need to stop there.  God’s hand is evident throughout our own nation’s great history.  Before our last election I reminded so many people of God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel.  Mr. Harper stood behind Israel and our nation benefited from that.  It’s absolutely incredible to look back on the prosperity our country enjoyed during his time as our prime minister.   How can we not use that to teach our children an important Biblical subject?

Teaching our children about Canada will open so many more discussions and opportunities for seeing God’s hand than if we just stick to a history of the world in general.  We need to make it personal, bring it closer to home.  The more I learn about Canada’s history, the more I see how closely the Lord worked in it’s beginnings and through the people who settled it.  We may not be a country that was distinctly settled for religious reasons, but, for lack of a better word, religion was the base for her founding as much as America’s was.  Wouldn’t you want your children to learn about that?  Don’t you want to show them how great she has been in the past because of God’s blessings and how we, as Christians, can work to see her continue that way?

I wish I could inspire a love for Canadian history in each person I meet.  I have heard so many people say how boring it is and I want to snatch those words out of the air.    If you spend your time looking at the EVENTS that shaped this country, then yes, you could find it boring.  We didn’t fight any big civil wars or burn down government buildings.  But the PEOPLE that shaped this country are fascinating.  Canadians have been known for having courage and stamina that surpasses other nations.  That’s the legacy I want to pass on.  Standing up for what is right and having the courage and determination to press on even when circumstances are difficult.

What do you want your children to learn?

Road Rage

Is there ever a time when road rage could be considered righteous anger?

I’m kind of hoping so.

For the last week I’ve really been struggling with something.

Cell Phones and Cars

People laugh at me because I keep my cell phone on vibrate 99.9% of the time.  That other 1% is when I know someone is going to be trying to call and I’m NOT driving.   I just don’t see the need for people to have access to me 100% of every day.  And that’s my choice, I get that.   But honestly, I don’t see the need to touch my phone when I’m driving.  Partly because I’ve seen the statistics of accidents caused by texting while driving.  It’s so unnecessary!  If you need to answer someone’s text so badly that they can’t wait a half hour for you to get to your destination, then please, PLEASE, PULL OVER.

Last week my friend and I were driving home from the hospital.   I had just had an ultrasound and had seen the most beautiful picture of an active baby I had ever seen.  I cried during that hour.  I didn’t cry with the other 3 babies’ ultrasounds.  But having a baby in Heaven made that moment so much more special.  It made me value those precious moments of seeing a little nose, hands waving, feet kicking away.  I cannot tell you the love that you can feel for a little person that you haven’t even held.

Then we started home.  And as we drove the last stretch of highway to our exit, we passed a car.  A car that should have been passing us, as it was in the fast lane.   And the driver’s head was down, staring at a phone.  My shock turned to anger so quickly, and even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.  Did he not care that he could cause an accident?  If he hit the car I was in, he could potentially hurt this little baby I was carrying.

And thank goodness no other kids were in the car!

I told my friend she should honk her horn so we could express our displeasure at his lack of concern for others.  She didn’t think that was a good idea, as that could potentially cause him to have an accident if it startled him.  She was right, but it still burned me.  I really understood road rage at that moment.

That night, on our way to church, my husband and I passed two more cars with drivers texting!  Or at least playing on their phones when they should have been looking at the road.  And the fact that we had time to go past them and never saw their heads lift, means that their eyes were off the road far longer than they should have been.

And I saw ANOTHER one on the way home from church that night.

Why?

Why is it necessary to place other’s lives in danger just to answer someone’s question?   Or reply to  a witty text message?

Why?

The government of Canada did an “observational study” on cell phone use in Canada while driving and concluded that “Hand-held phone use by drivers was revealed, in this study, to be a common behaviour on Canadian roads, despite the risks and public concern.”

Despite the risks and public concern“???????

I couldn’t find a lot of statistical data based on Canadian surveys regarding cell phone use, but the website textinganddrivingsafety.com had some statistics that seem to mirror those of our American neighbours.

  • In 2011, 23% of all car crashes were caused by texting while driving.  That equals about 1.3 MILLION crashes.
  • The minimum amount of time that someone’s eyes are off the road while texting is 5 seconds.  This may not seem like much but actually equals the length of a football field when traveling at normal road speeds (55 mph).  A FOOTBALL FIELD!
  • 77% of drivers think they can safely text while driving?  Seriously?

I also have to say, the ones I saw texting that ONE DAY alone, were all adults, not teenagers or 20-somethings.  People who should have more sense than to buy in to the lie that they’re “driving safely” while texting.  Distracted driving of any kind can cause accidents and taking your eyes off the road for the length of a football field definitely qualifies as distracted driving.

I was so tempted to take down license plates that day and contact the police, but I’m not even sure they could have done anything – or that it would have helped those people to stop texting while driving – even though it IS illegal in Nova Scotia and, I’m pretty sure much of the rest of Canada as well.

But the next time you’re tempted to just send a quick text to someone while driving can you do something for me?

  1. Instead of picking up your phone, ask yourself, is this an emergency?  Will the time it takes me to get to my destination be too late to send this?   If so, pull over.
  2. If it can wait, PLEASE, let it wait.
  3. Think about the people around you, that van full of children headed home.  Those kids playing on their front lawn.  The mother who just came from seeing her baby on an ultrasound, or the one bringing a new baby home from the hospital.  The dad who is trying to get home from work to kiss his family.  The grandparents on their way to see their grandkids.

Because it’s not just about you.   It’s about everyone around you.

 

Sources:

https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-tp2436-rs200802-menu-139.htm

http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats

 

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