Song of the Willow – Part 4

Chapter 5 – Avery

Days passed in a blur as Willow mourned the loss of the life she had known and the circumstances she now found herself in.  She wandered from the living room to the chairs by the fire pit and back again.   Food consisted of nibbling on pieces of bread or downing a banana or apple from the baskets she found in the pantry.  The phone rang several times over the course of the week, but Willow ignored it as she alternated between sleeping and crying.

Saturday morning was turning to afternoon when a car pulled up the drive.  Silence greeted Avery as he got out of the car.    The silence sounded louder with the crunch of the gravel beneath his feet.  He grabbed some paper sacks from the back seat and headed towards the house. 

When there was no answer to his knock, Avery opened the door and headed in.  Seeing Willow asleep in a chair, he continued to the kitchen where he dropped the paper sacks.  Opening the pantry, he began to put away the groceries he had brought.  It didn’t take long for him to realize not much had moved on the shelves.   He had already been concerned at the lack of answers to the numerous calls he had placed to her phone, but this was taking it to a new level.

Minutes later he moved to the living room and stood watching Willow sleep for a minute.  “Lord, I’m out of my element here.  Help.”  He rubbed a hand down his face and looked around him.  Making a decision, he leaned down and gently took one of Willow’s arms.  Wrapping it around his neck he slipped one hand under her back and another behind her knees and gently swung her up.   She stirred briefly but the movement, in general, did not seem to affect her.  Avery carried her up the stairs to the bedroom she had chosen the week before and placed her on the bed.  Positioning the covers, he pulled them up over her and then slipped out of the room, closing the door behind him. 

Back downstairs, Avery headed out to his car and popped the trunk.  It was probably a safe bet that if he could carry her up the stairs without her waking, he could do a little work without the noise being an issue.

First item, a bicycle.  He pulled it out and took it back to the porch where he leaned it up against the house.   Back at the car he proceeded to pull out some scrap wood and headed into the barn, staggering under his load.  Avery had spent his week looking up how to convert a barn stall for chickens and was determined to get the work done today before he had to get back.  The next time he came out, he could bring chickens with him, or have some delivered if she wanted a large amount of them.

While he worked, he prayed.  It was what his mother had taught him to do, and this situation definitely lent itself to that!

“Lord, You’re going to have to do something here.  I can’t act like her father, even if I want to.  You need to give her a desire to live because its not just about her anymore and I know you know that better than anyone.  I just need to tell You how frustrated I am over this situation.  I want to see her succeed and thrive here.  This is a good place.”

As Avery prayed he swung his hammer and soon there were roosting boxes for chickens built along one wall.   When he was finished, he packed everything up and headed back into the house.  He searched through a couple of drawers in the kitchen until he found some paper and a pen and then he started to write.  One note was left on the kitchen counter.  One note was placed on top of her violin that stood in a corner of the living room.  One  was put smack in the middle of the chair cushion where Willow had been sleeping just hours earlier.    Lastly, Avery climbed the stairs one more time and placed a note on Willow’s beside table, with the cell phone beside it.  Hopefully when she woke it would be the first thing she saw.

Then he headed back down the stairs, took one last look around, and pulling the door shut behind him headed back to his car.

His thoughts troubled him as he pulled back up the drive to the coastal road that would take him back out to the town.

“Lord, help me not to make a big mistake here.  She’s going to be really upset with what I’m doing.”  But that thought didn’t make him change his mind.  Something needed to change and Avery knew just the person who could help.  Slowing before he would have reached town, he pulled off the main road onto a dirt one and bounced over the rocks to the third house.  Pulling in, he got out and made sure to slam the door loudly to announce his arrival.

The sounds of kids screaming as they played in a backyard somewhere up the road reached his ears and he smiled to himself.  He had fond memories of playing the same way as a kid.  Just then a door opened and an older woman came out of the house.

“Avery?  What are you doing here?   I wasn’t expecting you.  At least I don’t think I was!”  the woman placed a finger, wrinkled with age, to her lips and seemed to get lost in her head as she tried to remember something she couldn’t.

“Hi, Mom.”  Avery closed the distance between them quickly and wrapped the woman in a hug.

Home Ec: The Art of Transforming Clothes

Home Economics is all about teaching our kids to work with what they have. Knowing how to do simple tasks that used to be common. Today, we live in a wasteful culture and many of these ideas have been put aside in favour of the “throw it out and buy new” mentality.

When I was little we didn’t have a ton of money. We wore hand-me-downs from cousins and friends (or siblings since I was the youngest). I watched how my mom created things from nothing. I distinctly remember her holing herself up in her bedroom one year, creating a wedding dress for my barbie doll to give me for Christmas. A wedding dress, People! I will never forget that. It might be one of the only gifts I actually remember getting as a kid, made even more special now since I know how much work went into it!

Now, as a mom, who is trying to be frugal and a good steward of the things that we have, I have learned various ways of remaking clothes to work across seasons and kids.

Today I’m going to share just a few ways that I transform my kid’s wardrobes across seasons. Some of these I have shared in previous blog posts, but I’m going to place them all here for easy reference. There is one more, really neat, idea that Jessica (my blog helper) is going to share at some point in the coming weeks but I’ll keep that one a surprise. =)

The Art of Transforming Clothes

1.Cut off pants into short – or make into skirts. I’ve shared a bit about this here. Turning pants into skirts is another fun thing I like to do. W loves her long jean skirt that I made her this Spring. I also did one (that we passed on to someone else) where I cut off the legs, leaving the zipper intact, and used different strips of fabric to create more of a country boho style with gathered layers. We’ve also done a knee length one that allows you to use just the jean legs to finish it so it’s all jean, unlike the one below that has the extra fabric panel.

2. Cut off long sleeve shirts to make them short sleeved. This is a great way to prolong your child’s wardrobe past one season. The thing is, if you do pass clothes down to younger kids, you can always reattach the sleeves (or add a different colour sleeve) to make it work for the winter again. I’ve added sleeves to shirts for my littles the same as I’ve cut them off for the summer. I didn’t even hem the one below because as I’ve said before stretchy fabric rarely frays.

3. Save old clothes (or buy cheap items) and use them to make new ones. I’ve used strapless dresses (which I would never wear) to make new dresses that were more my style. Straight skirts can have panels added to make it a-line. Oversized sweatshirts or t-shirts can be cut down to make them fit either yourself or your kids. My son has made t-shirts for himself this summer from some his dad was getting rid of. One, he accidentally sewed wrong (and ended up making a hole in) so we adjusted it and added a panel to make up for the part we had to cut off. I’ve made shirts from old skirts, cut up vintage bed sheets, etc. The proverbial pillowcase dress literally comes from pillowcases (works great for young girls.

4.Share clothes. This should be a thing, but I find now, everything is about making a buck. Instead of sharing things people “sell” them. I much prefer the idea of sharing clothes among each other. Imagine how much money we could save by passing clothes around? I have a friend whose son is in between my two and it works great for us. When my oldest grows out of his clothes, I pass them on to this other boy, and when he grows out of them his mother passes them back to me. Then I pass them on to another boy a little bit younger than my youngest. Thus, one item of clothing can get at least 4 uses out of it. Sometimes those clothes even come second-hand – giving them such a long life compared to this constant cycle of buying new or even purchasing second-hand. It’s all about being a good steward of what God has given us.

What are some other ways you can transform clothes or scrap fabrics? To me, this is an art form. Art is one of my favourite subjects and teaching our kids to see it in everything we do is a great way to make even simple things look fun and interesting.

I saw this neat article the other day and wanted to share this here as well. For those who don’t have a sewing machine but still want to teach their kids the art of transforming clothes, learning to sew by hand can be so beneficial. There are many cultures today who still employ this technique. I’m thinking of trying it out myself and seeing if I can create an entire outfit by hand. It might be more difficult with the stretchy fabrics with stitches popping but might still be fun to try! Check it out at TheDreamstress.com

The Ring Does Not Fit

*Disclaimer: I received this book for review from Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own.

**Some links on this page may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that allows me to continue running this blog.

Have you ever felt trapped in your marriage? Like things just haven’t gone the way you thought they would? That maybe you married the wrong person? That your life would have looked vastly different if you had married someone else?

Sunshine Rodgers takes us on a journey in her book, The Ring Does Not Fit. Alena is married to Lee, a Christian man. She has no interest in his interests and is only looking to make enough money to have the things she wants. But is life really about “things”?

Alena falls asleep one afternoon and wakes up in another reality. But is it the reality she really wanted? As each day changes and other husbands parade before her eyes, Alena has to figure out what truly matters in order to find peace.

This book had an interesting story-line. I thought the author did a great job showing how women often overlook what is right in front of them because they’ve lost sight of the truth (Jesus Christ).

However, there were a few times I felt uncomfortable with where she was going. There were many scenes of intimacy implied that I felt went a little further than they needed to. Although the author never went anywhere inappropriate, I felt that she was often leading our thoughts there and I didn’t like that path.

I also didn’t appreciate that she brought Jesus Christ into the book using the initials J.C. It seems very disrespectful to me and I struggled every time I saw those initials in the book. She doesn’t explain that that is who she is talking about until the end of the book but it is very obvious and again, made me uncomfortable.

Overall, I’m not sure I would really recommend this book unless you knew someone who was struggling with similar thoughts.

About the Book

Book:  The Ring Does Not Fit

Author: Sunshine Rodgers

Genre: Romance, Fiction, Christian, Fantasy

Release Date: November 19, 2019

front cover

Alena is stuck in a mundane marriage and longing for something different. New clothes. Bigger bling. Flashy cars. Miraculously and inexplicably, it all happens in a flash and she is finally married to
the man of her dreams, but something still seems to be missing. In all her excitement, the one thing she’s looking for is the one thing she can’t seem to keep.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Sunshine Rodgers is an International Best-Selling author, speaker and motivator who excels in sharing the hope and light of the gospel in her books. Her characters experience the love and grace of Jesus
Christ and the beauty of Heaven. Sunshine hopes her pages will get you passionate about your faith. Her books have been made into audio books and translated in different languages. Her social media sites and personal blog reach thousands of readers a week. Sunshine has appeared in magazines, newspapers and live media interviews and is working on her merchandise line (available on her website!). Sunshine now enjoys her days traveling for signings, author events, speaking engagements and book tours.

More from Sunshine

“Why are we never satisfied?  I mean, we can have houses, cars and money and still want more! If I were to break it down, I would have to say…insecurity.  Maybe we feel like we’re not good enough. I don’t know about you, but I compare myself with others
all the time just by looking at social media and feeling like I don’t measure up. My book “The Ring Does Not Fit” concentrates on appreciating what is right in front of you, celebrating those who are still with you and staying humble. Because the grass is not always greener on the other side and there is always more going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about.I wanted to explore the issue of contentment  in my book.The only way to really get over any personal frustration and constant comparison  is to have
an attitude of thanksgiving and praise where you are thankful for what you have, no matter how little or big it is.That’s the first step to loving life.”– Sunshine Rodgers

Blog Stops

Quiet quilter, July 8

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 9

Through the Fire Blogs, July 10 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, July 10

 Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 11

Texas Book-aholic, July 12

Blossoms and Blessings, July 13 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, July 14

Inklings and notions, July 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 16

For the Love of Literature, July 17 (Author Interview)

Andrea Carmen, July 17

Quiet Workings, July 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 19

Just Your Average reviews, July 20

Artistic Nobody, July 21 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sunshine is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Visa card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fda3/the-ring-does-not-fit-celebration-tour-giveaway

Scripture Writing – The Art of Memory

Writing out Scripture has been a part of my devotional life for a few years now. I was introduced to it through Heidi St. John’s ministry and really enjoyed it. One year I started highlighting each of the passages we copied out so I could see what part of the Bible I had written out. I love opening my Bible and seeing that green colour throughout it’s pages.

I remember hearing about a pastor’s wife who literally wrote out the entire Bible in notebooks and had them all labeled on her bookshelves. Ever since then I’ve had a desire to do the same. Not as a status symbol, but as a symbol of my commitment to the Lord and the words that He has given us.

There is something about writing down words with a pen and paper that has proven to help with our understanding of what is being said. MedicalDaily.com states: “…it seems those who type their notes may potentially be at risk for “mindless processing.” The old fashioned note taking method of pen and paper boosts memory and the ability to understand concepts and facts.”

Researchers have found that “writing letters activated more regions of the brain than typing letters.” (James, K. H., & Engelhardt, L. (2012). The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 1(1), 32–42.)

The very act of writing out Scripture can help us retain more than just reading, or even typing them out. And, according to some research, it can help us to retain the important stuff, not just random things (Lifehack.org).

It seems the Lord understood this concept thousands of years before researchers figured it out. Deuteronomy gave us this principle in relation to the kings of Israel. Long before the nation even asked for a king, God knew that they would desire one and He instituted rules to govern that king’s rule. One of those rules was that he would write out an entire copy of the law (which today we recognize as Genesis to Deuteronomy). The Bible says that that copy was to stay with him and was to be read over and over all the days of his life.

Deuteronomy 17:19, 20 gives us the reason for them to do this:

“….that he may learn to fear the LORD his GOD, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”

While we recognize that the Books of the Law were written for God’s chosen people specifically, I think the principle of writing out Scripture is one that we can all learn from. Whether we take the time during our life to write out the entire Bible, or just parts of it, the principles remain the same:

  1. Learn to fear the Lord
  2. Understand God’s commands so we can honour them
  3. Recognize our own sinful nature so that our hearts do not become prideful
  4. Stand firm so we aren’t easily swayed (tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine)
  5. Teach our children so they also stand firm in the Lord.

Psalm 119:15 says, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” By taking the time to write out Scripture, the words that the Lord has given us, we will increase our understanding of His words to us. In short, there is a great possibility we will remember more of the Bible when we write it out, it will be easier to meditate on, and it will be easier to memorize. (Psalm 119:11)

We can do this with our kids as well, building on our theme of teaching them to love and honour the Lord. Imagine if we started them when they were able to write and copy by having them write out one verse every single day. How many verses would they have copied out by the time they become adults? How much of the Bible would they have placed in their hearts?

Scripture-Writing.

Maybe it’s time for us to write God’s Word on our hearts! <3

Song of the Willow – Part 3

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*If you haven’t read the beginning of Willow’s story, start here:

Part 1

Part 2

Chapter Three – Avery

The next morning Avery awoke to the mournful sound of a violin.  He quickly got dressed using the small bathroom to brush his teeth and comb his hair. Then he packed the few items he had brought with him back into his overnight bag and headed down the stairs.

 He found Willow in the living room with a violin tucked under her chin a tear tracing its way down her cheek.  As soon as she noticed Avery’s presence she stopped playing and began to put the violin away.

“What’s wrong Willow?”  Willow turned her tear streaked face to Avery and pointed an accusing finger out the window to the harbor that was in view in the morning light.

“THAT is the problem.  This house is sitting at the mouth of a harbor.  Boats will be going past here every day!  People are going to be talking about that girl out on the point all by herself.  This isn’t safe.”  Her anger pulsed in the room between them.   Avery looked her straight in the eye as he answered.

“Willow, yes, this house is on a point where local fishing boats will pass by on their way home most days.   Local fishermen.  Not tourists.  I chose this place because of it.  I THOUGHT that if something WERE wrong, one of them might notice and be able to contact authorities. It would actually ensure a measure of safety.”

Willow looked out the window at him and back again.   “Really?  You thought of that?”

He stared out at the beautiful scene portrayed outside the living room windows before answering.  Yes, Willow, I thought of that.  And the fact that this was too gorgeous to pass over.

“Willow, I tried to think of any way to minimize risk to you.  I can’t in good conscience leave you out in the middle of nowhere with no way to contact someone should you need it.  I have to stand before the Lord some day and give an account for how I handled this situation.  And I don’t want the guilt of your death on my hands.”

Willow had the good grace to blush.  Then she turned to face the window again.  Avery decided to give her some space and turned to head to the kitchen.  “I’m going to go make some coffee and see what there is for breakfast.”

He didn’t wait for an answer, and none came.

Avery scanned the kitchen before starting a search for coffee and cups.  A coffee maker sat on the butcher-block counter so he knew there should be the fixings to go with it.  Cupboards spanned one wall and open shelving the opposite one.   A small table and two chairs sat beneath the open shelving.  A small cookstove sat to one side.  Avery had no clue how it worked and he wasn’t about to start figuring it out now.  He headed into the pantry where he had found the generator the night before and fired it up.  At least now he could make some toast and coffee.  While in the pantry he found the bread and small ice cabinet that contained some cream and a bottle of jam.   The lawyer he had been in contact with had done a good job of making sure they had a few essentials.  The cream looked fresh, there must be a farm around here somewhere. 

Heading back out into the kitchen it didn’t take long for him to get the small repast on the table.  The smell of brewing coffee drew Willow in and the two sat down to eat.  Avery held out his hand and waited for Willow to take it, then he bowed his head to pray.

Chapter Four – Willow

Willow felt on edge as she joined Avery at the kitchen table, took his hand, and listened to him bless the food and her new life here.  She had woken this morning to the glorious sound of the waves on the shore but the realization of how close she still was to people had shaken her, until Avery had explained the intent behind it.  She still didn’t know how she felt about it. 

She absently answered the questions Avery lobbed at her, and nibbled on the toast in front of her.  The reality of what this life meant was beginning to settle in, creating cracks in her heart that she felt would shatter any second.

“Would you like to take a look around outside?  The house isn’t that big and I’m sure you’ll enjoy poking around once I’ve gone.  That door leads to the pantry.  There should be enough food stuffs there to keep you until I come back next weekend.  Just give me a call this week and let me know what you’d like in the way of food.   The generator is also in there.  I should show you how to run it before I leave.  Your only other option will be the cookstove.  I noticed a load of wood outside last night when we got here.”    Avery chattered on and even he could see he was filling in a gap where Willow wasn’t talking. 

“Thank you, Avery.”  She finally spoke.  “I think I can figure out the generator if I feel like using it.   I’d love to see what’s outside.”  Love.  Willow’s heart cracked a bit more.  How often do we use this word ‘Love’ outside of it’s true context?  Was it a lie in this case?   She shrugged inwardly and pushed her chair back.  Standing, she gathered the few dishes they had used and carried them to the sink.   Instead of a tap there was a hand pump to one side.  Pumping the handle a few times produced a trickle of water that Willow rinsed the dishes with then left them in the sink to wash later.  Later.  When she would be alone.  And free.

Before she felt herself lose control she spun on her heel and faced Avery.  Summoning every ounce of strength she had, she smiled brightly and said, “All right, Knight in Shining Armor, show me why you thought this would be such a perfect place for me!  We’ll call it the first of many adventures!”

Avery was taken aback for just a second by the abrupt change in her demeanor then flashed her a grin.  “Why yes, Fair Maiden.  Come and see your kingdom.”  She laughed a little too gaily, even to her own ears, and then headed out the front door.

The house sat in a clearing, at the end of a point of land surrounded by trees.  The clearing was quite large and Willow could see that raised garden beds had already been created on one side of the house.  They looked to be a good size and she presumed she should be able to grow most of her own food in them.   It would be interesting learning how to garden.  She hadn’t played in dirt since she was small girl and had gotten severely scolded for getting her pretty dress dirty.

To one side of the raised beds stood a large shed, or small barn, as the case may be.  Willow decided to see what was inside.  She thought it might be neat to have a milk cow or even some goats and chickens.  They would keep her company.   She unlatched the door and stepped in, letting her eyes adjust to the dimmer light before moving farther inside.   One side of the shed appeared to house tools: a push lawn mower, a gas-powered one, and an odd assortment of tools she didn’t know how to use.  The other side contained small stalls, the floor bare and asking for hay.  It smelled earthy and Willow wasn’t sure if she appreciated the scent or not.

Heading back outside she wandered around to the back of the house. 

Avery followed behind her, a stream of one-sided conversation that seemed never-ending.  She ignored him for the most part, knowing that soon there would be just silence.

The sound of the water was noticeably louder now, but instead of the crashing she had heard the night before, a gentle lapping of small waves against the rocks was all she heard.  It was calming.  Peaceful almost.  A small deck had been built near the water, with a fire pit in the middle of it.  Wicker furniture had been placed around the pit making it look inviting.  Willow walked over to it and ran her hand along the back of one of the chairs.   A small sigh escaped her.  This would be her spot.  Even if there was no one else to fill the other chairs right now.  Maybe someday there would be.

The sun was high overhead by the time they finished their tour of the outside.  The warmth had filled her spirit just a bit and she headed to the house to make lunch.  

“So what do you think, Willow?”  Avery paused on the top step and leaned against the porch railing.

“It’s beautiful, Avery.  I’m glad you chose this spot.  I can see myself here now.”   She stood with the door half open staring out over the yard.

“I can see you here, too.  Last night I debated the wisdom of leaving you alone, but now, now I see that you need this.  You need the healing this place can bring.”

Willow lifted pain-filled eyes to his, then turned and headed inside, the weight of her situation crashing back down on her.   Mechanically she made sandwiches for the two of them.  It didn’t take long for them to eat and down another cup of coffee.   By the time they had finished Willow could feel her brave façade beginning to crack. 

“Is there anything else I can do?”  Avery stood and moved their dishes to the sink.

“Avery, I think it’s time for you to go.”  Willow stood and moved to the living room.  Avery followed her but stopped just inside the doorway.  She stared out the window at the water just as she had that morning.  “I need time to process and think.  So much has happened…” she trailed off.

The sandwich Avery had just eaten sat like a lump in his stomach at the thought of leaving a young, vulnerable woman alone in a town where no one knew her.   He had known this moment would come, but maybe he had tricked himself into believing that she would tuck tail and run once she understood the situation of living out in the middle of nowhere. 

“Willow,” He waited until she turned to look at him.  “I will be praying for you.  Praying that God gives you peace here, that He brings you hope.  Don’t give up on Him.”  Willow nodded and her head and pressed her lips together.  Then she watched as Avery turned, grabbed his overnight bag he had left on the floor that morning, and moved to the door.  He turned one last time, gave her a sad smile, and then left.  The screen door slammed shut behind him.   She waited until she heard his car start and the sound disappear up the drive before she allowed herself to break.   Then the tears came, like the ocean rushing over the rocks outside her window.