About Amanda Cunningham

Amanda worked as a full-time school teacher for two years before getting married and having three wonderful kids. She blogs about faith, family, food, and fun. While crafting takes up a lot of her extra time, Amanda also strives to help others through ministry in her church and in the community. Amanda, also known as Mae, works as the church music director and homeschools two of her three children

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.                               

Song of the Willow – Part 2

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Avery pulled off the winding road they had been following, driving into what seemed like a forest.   It didn’t take long, though, for them to leave the trees and drive into a clearing.   The moon reflected off ocean water as he pulled up to the house, Willow’s house.  He questioned the sanity of what he was allowing her to do as he brought the car to a stop and turned it off.

He watched Willow unbuckle her seat belt and take a breath before opening the car door.  The sound of waves crashing against the rocks in front of them and the smell of the salty air seemed to give her strength as she stepped out.  In the moonlight the house rose before them, showing a gabled roof and a wrap-around porch.  The windows were all dark and Avery shivered in the eerie silence.

Summoning his manly courage, Avery’s shoes on the gravel drive crunched loudly in the darkness as he moved toward the house.  “Let me get a light on for us,” he said quietly over his shoulder.  He reached the porch and continued to the door, shining a small flashlight so he could see to unlock it.  He worked his way to the back of the house, where the previous owner had told him he would find a small generator.  Turning it on, he moved his way back to the front door, turning on a light in one room as he went.

He found Willow standing in the doorway and gently took the small bag she had been holding.  Placing the bag up against a wall in the hallway, he moved back towards the door, “I’ll grab the rest of your bags.  I got you one of those large, lantern flashlights, so you can use that to check out the rest of the house.  If you’d rather wait until morning, you’ll find two bedrooms at the top of the stairs, along with a bathroom.  Pick which room you’d like and I’ll crash in the other one.  Tomorrow we can finish making plans before I head home.  They’re not expecting me at the office until the day after.”  He watched her for a minute, just standing, looking as lost as he felt, and then he slipped out the door and picked his way across the gravel drive to the car. 

Avery knew his life was changing along with Willow’s.  Keeping Willow, and his work for her, a secret from his partners at the accounting firm was going to be interesting.  Monthly trips out to this fishing village were going to need a good cover story.  At least she would never have to worry about money.  William had seen to that.  And Avery was going to make sure that William’s investment kept Willow for the rest of her life.  Investment.  Avery smiled sardonically at that.  I’m pretty sure that’s not what William considers it.  His heart grew hard as he thought of the man’s cruel nature.  At least this situation had given Willow the chance to get out from under William’s thumb.  Being rich was often a curse, as it made people act the fool.  He only hoped Willow had learned her lesson and didn’t repeat it in a new town.

Willow’s condition was the only thing that gave Avery pause as he thought about her living out here alone.  She had specifically requested something off-grid.  Something Avery wasn’t sure this little rich girl would be able to handle.  No electricity meant no phones and no electricity.  Although he was thankful she had accepted the cell phone, for now.  Had she ever even used a wood stove before let alone cooked on one?  He shook his head.  At least he had made sure she had the small generator and extra propane to fuel it.  She would at least be able to turn on lights and use a regular stove if she wanted to, although it would make a whole lot more sense to just be hooked up!   Avery’s name was on the house deed and planned on paying any bills associated with the house himself.   Her idea, though, was to keep the bills down to only essential ones.  There was no need to draw attention to the fact that he had a house way out in the middle of nowhere.  But the lack of electricity and regular plumbing bothered Avery.  He planned to keep close watch on her for the first little while to make sure that Willow Quinn survived her first few months alone.   After today, Willow Quinn would essentially cease to exist, but he was going to make sure she didn’t literally cease to exist.  No one would be able to trace her to these back woods, and “Willow Quinn” would be gone while living only a few hours from her hometown.

Avery slammed the car door and carried Willow’s bags into the house.  Willow was just heading up the staircase as he entered.

 “Let’s just get to bed, while there’s still some night left.  You must be exhausted.”  She spoke to him as she ascended.  “We can go through the house tomorrow once we’re rested and can think clearly.”    He watched her pause at the top of the stairs, seeing three doors.  He made his way up behind her and waited on the landing as she opened each door to see what was behind them.   Willow’s movements were slow, as if she were moving through a fog.  He realized what she must be feeling, leaving her family and friends.  Would she be able to handle the isolation? 

“I’ll take this room.”  Willow had stepped into the larger of the two rooms and stood with one hand wrapped about a bed post. 

Avery, waiting at the top of the stairs, now moved past her with the rest of her bags and laid them on the floor.  “If you need anything, I’ll just be across the hall.”  He stopped and stared at her for a minute, and then moved back into the hallway, where he picked up his overnight bag and headed into the smaller bedroom.

He listened for a moment to make sure she was okay.  He could hear the creaking of the bed as she lay down.  Then silence reigned and he realized she must have fallen asleep.

Avery stretched out on the bed, his sock-clad feet hanging off the edge, the awkwardness of sharing a house with a woman never leaving his consciousness.  As a Christian he had been taught not to put himself into compromising situations, but he doubted that this would actually qualify as compromising, since not a single person knew of his existence in the house.  Willow Quinn had enough things to worry about without adding him to the equation.  He knew if his mother knew what he was doing to help Willow she would tear a strip off him. Thank goodness she would never know.

He rolled over, working to relax so he could fall asleep.  The drive had seemed to take forever, Aspotogan seemed like the end of the world to a city dweller.  How in the world was she going to survive out here by herself?  She’d never even cooked a meal before and here she thought she was going to run a farm and sustain herself?  Avery mentally rolled his eyes and sent a punch into his pillow.  If he was any kind of man he would insist she get back in the car tomorrow and go straight to the police with him.  William could not get away with this! 

He flung himself onto his back.  Oh, yeah, that would work, and William would pay off the police and Willow would be found in a back alley a week later, a mugging gone bad.  He could see the headlines now.  How she had even gotten mixed up with him Avery could not figure out.  How was he supposed to go back home tomorrow and just leave her here?  He’d never sleep again, worrying.  She’s only 21, barely old enough to vote, drink, and have a driver’s license, and here she was, out in the middle of nowhere (thanks to Avery), planning to live off-grid and hide out for the rest of her life.  It didn’t seem like much of an existence to him.  But there wasn’t much he could do.  He had no desire to move out here with her, he enjoyed being an accountant too much. 

“Lord,” he prayed silently, “this situation seems hopeless, but I know it’s not.  You are in control.  Help me to remember that.  I’ve prayed about this and I see no other way to help her right now.  So I ask that You help her.  Keep her safe, Lord.”

He rolled over to face the window, the light from the moon outlining it.  His thoughts continued to plague him, but eventually a restless sleep came over him.  Morning would come soon enough and with it a whole new set of problems to be faced and worked through.

Song of the Willow – Part 1

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Willow moved quietly down the grand staircase of her parent’s large house.  As long as her father was asleep she shouldn’t have a problem getting out the front door unnoticed.  The big grandfather clock in the hall began to chime midnight as her hand touched the handle on the door.  She stilled, listening for sounds that her parents had awakened, and then slowly continued opening the door.  Slipping out into the night air she closed it gently behind her.  The few bags she carried contained her most precious possessions along with some clothing. 

One bag in particular Willow hugged tightly under her arm as she stumbled along the sidewalk.  The contents of that particular bag could not be lost, for without it her plan would never work.  And work it must.  William must never know her secret and he must never be able to find her.   Leaving like this, without saying goodbye to her parents, made Willow bite back a sob, but the less they knew the better.  This way they couldn’t be hurt.  HE couldn’t hurt them.

She located the car waiting ahead and quickened her footsteps until she reached the back door.  Placing two of the bags on the back seat, she continued to hold onto her precious cargo as she slipped into the front seat of the car.

“Did anyone see you?”  The man in the driver’s seat asked, almost in a whisper.

“I don’t think so,” Willow replied.  “The house was completely quiet when I left.  Are you sure he won’t be able to find me?”

The driver manoeuvered the car away from the sidewalk into the road, checking his mirrors periodically.  It reminded Willow of all the spy movies she had watched growing up.

“I’ve made sure nothing traces back to you.  Your name is not on any of the paperwork for anything.  No one even knows I’m working for you.  The house is ready.  My contact told me it was fully furnished.  It’s got quite a bit of property attached to it, so you shouldn’t have to worry about nosy neighbours around you.

But have you completely thought this through?  What are you going to do?  You can’t hide out on a farm by yourself forever.  You don’t even know how to farm!  I should never have agreed to this.”

Willow’s jaw clenched as she thought of William, “This is going work, Avery.  As long as there is no way he can find me, if I stay off the grid, he never will be able to.  That’s the way it has to be.  Everything is a minor detail.  I’ll learn how to run a farm.  I will do what I have to to survive.”

The two continued on their way in the dark, silence filling the car.

Willow Quinn settled back into the soft leather of the car and closed her eyes.  Her curly red hair billowed behind her head as she attempted to sleep.  The moonlight shone off the paleness of her face, bones sharply outlining her cheeks.  She was thin, too thin for her condition.  The stress of the last few weeks hadn’t helped her at all.  She shifted in the seat, trying to get comfortable.  Small, slender fingers picked absently at something on the bag in her lap showing her nervousness in the endeavor.

Having grown up in a wealthy home there were serious doubts that Willow would fare well in the new life she was determined to make for herself.  Willow’s driver, Avery Clarke wished there were another alternative, but he knew Willow was right about the danger and running appeared to be her only option.  Whether or not it was a good decision would remain to be seen.

After driving for a while, Avery pulled off the highway and into a small town.  “Willow,” he called softly.  “You might want to wake up.  We’re almost there and I want you to know your surroundings.  You need to have an idea of where everything is.”

Willow stirred and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.  She looked blearily out the window and then straightened as she realized the significance of where they were.

“Where are we?” Willow asked, not having cared where she was going until this moment.

“Where we are going is called Aspotogan.  But there are no stores or anything there.  I’m pretty sure this is the closest town to where you’ll be living.  This town is called Last Chance – I know, very cliché.  There is a small grocery store here and the post office; although I made sure you had daily mail delivery.  If you need to mail anything important you’ll have to walk it in here.”

“How far are we from Aspotogan?”  Willow rubbed her eyes, trying to focus on her surroundings as Avery drove slowly down the main street of the town.

“It’s about a 20 minute drive but a lot longer walking.  You’ll have to try it out on your own but I figured it’s about a 3 – 4 hour walk, depending on how fast you can do it.  Or you can wait for my monthly visits and I can take you shopping.  But a month is a long time to go without shopping and I doubt you’ll be able to do that until you get yourself set up.  Even then, I don’t think it’s healthy for you to go too long without seeing people.”

Willow straightened in her seat and turned to look out the window.  “What about a bicycle?  I bet that would cut the walking time down quite a bit, although not as feasible in the winter weather, I know.  And while I understand your position, Avery, you have to understand mine.  William was quite clear on what he would do if I didn’t do what he said.  If he finds out where I am, anyone in contact with me will be in danger.  I can’t make friends with these people.  I can’t do anything to jeopardize their lives here.  You know that.”  She pushed a strand of curly hair behind her ear.  “It’s not just about me anymore.   I know you think I’m not going to make it out here on my own.  I’ve grown up a spoiled, rich kid so you have good reason to think that.  But I will make this work.  I have to make this work.”

Avery cleared his throat before speaking again, “Just remember you’re not alone.  You have me and you have Someone else, too, Someone who is greater than William.”

 “I know, Avery.  I am so thankful for you and for all the help you’ve given me.  And I appreciate you keeping everything quiet.  I know I must seem like an immature 21-yr old right now, but I know I can’t do what William wants me to.  I need to trust that the Lord has bigger plans.  I don’t need to make a mark on the world, but I am willing to trust Him to see to my future.  Right now that future includes spending time alone with Him.  A lot of time alone.  He will sustain me, of that I am certain.

The clock on the car dashboard read 2:35 am as they pulled onto the road leading to Aspotogan.  Willow’s excitement began to build as she envisioned what her new house would look like.

Avery grabbed a paper bag from the back seat with one arm while keeping his eyes on the road. “I grabbed a couple things for you, just in case.  I know you said, no phone, but I can’t leave you out here with no means of communicating.  Even if you just keep it for a couple months, the phone is in my mom’s name so it won’t trace back to either of us.  If you need anything, you can call me.  There’s a library back in the town, but you can’t be walking 4 hours to the library and back every week, so if you think of some books you’d like, magazine subscriptions, whatever, you call me and ask and I’ll get it done for you.  With no internet you won’t be able to just look up a recipe or figure out how to fix something yourself.  You are still going to have to ask for help and I’d feel better if you had this on you.  I’ll be your Google search engine, so to speak.”   Avery chuckled at his joke.

Willow gave him a tight smile, the argument against the phone dying on her lips.  He was right of course.  She wouldn’t know exactly what she needed until she got out there.  She had always used the internet to figure everything out; she wouldn’t be able to do that anymore so she’d have to have access to books, catalogues, and magazines somehow.  She sighed at the thought of relying on anyone.  She would do it for now, but there would come a day when she would give him the phone back and thank him for his help.  But for today, she would have to give in.

Just a few more minutes and Willow Quinn would step into a new life, a life without friends or family.   But with the Lord’s help she would make this work and she would trust Him to lead her future.

Home Ec: Bringing the Basics Back to Our Homsechool

Bringing the Basics back to our homeschool: Quiet Workings

I have been really convicted lately about teaching my children life skills not just book work. This is something I don’t see promoted a ton in our homeschool community but I almost think it’s more important than academic prowess. And not to say that no one talks about it, but I find the conversation surrounding this to be minimal at best.

Recently I read a book (that I’m thinking of reviewing at some point) that really brought home the point of reminding our kids that one of our goals, as Christians, is to exercise “dominion for God’s glory.” What does this mean? Well, in the book of Genesis, God instructed Adam to keep the garden and to dress it. God didn’t tell him to learn how to read, or to study one career path and then only focus on that niche. He valued a good work ethic and stewardship (my pastor has been preaching on this topic and I think this blog post ties in).

Years ago, I remember hearing the phrase “Jack of All Trades” regarding men in our circles. Just meaning that they had enough knowledge to fix smaller issues, either around the house or with the car, etc. My dad is one of the best examples of this. I remember him getting a book on fixing toilets from the library. We rarely called a repairman for small fixes. He didn’t work on cars so much but anything around the house that needed work he figured out how to fix, or asked someone to show him how to fix it.

My mom also had her own set of skills. She baked, cooked, even sewed clothes (she made bridesmaid dresses for my cousin) and she even held an outside job doing typing work. To me, this embodied what Solomon’s mother was writing in Proverbs 31.

I’m not saying that academics are bad. What I’m saying, is that, in our culture, I think we’ve placed more emphasis on book work than on practical living. What is our purpose for homeschooling? Many are just “schooling at home”: following the public school’s idea of what school should look like. I have heard of far too many young women getting married who don’t know how to cook a meal, or clean a house.

People often laugh at me when they hear that I sew, make my own soap, taught myself to wood burn, made jewelry for a time, etc. I like learning. I’m a teacher at heart and teachers are only teachers when they continue to learn new things themselves. I realize not everyone is going to be on that wavelength, and that’s okay too. I just want to make it clear that I’m not calling out anyone’s spirituality based on how many crafts they can do! We each have our own unique skills that God has given us. But I think we’ve lost a lot of skills that our grandmothers and great grandmothers had just because we’ve decided they aren’t for us.

I think there is a point where we need to make sure that we’re imparting life skills to our kids. Whether we’re teaching them how to do laundry properly, how to cook (even if it’s just simple everyday meals), or how to take care of clothes to make them last.

If we truly believe that everything we own is the Lord’s (which we should if we’re Christians), then that translates over into taking care of the things we own AND not spending money needlessly. This is a tenet of financial freedom. Instead of throwing out pants that have a hole in the knee and buying new ones, cut them off and make shorts, or check out the myriad of tutorials online on how to darn or patch them. I did this with a pair of my son’s joggers this winter and he loved them more after I patched them then before. All I used was a simple piece of felt that matched the colour of his pants, a needle, and Dollar Store embroidery thread (that I keep on hand) and hand sewed it using a youtube video as my guide. Because I have scraps of felt hanging around from when I used to make quiet books, this literally cost me nothing. To buy him new pants (even second-hand) I’m looking at $10+.

Darning technique: Quiet Workings

Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman using a spindle (inference here is making wool to sew with), making herself clothing of tapestry, silk, and purple (it’s not wrong to make yourself clothes that fit well and look nice), and also making fine linen and selling it to add to her husband’s income. She took great pride in fabrics and in how her family was dressed. Another verse says that her entire household was clothed with scarlet. It’s not wrong for women to want to look nice and I think the fact that more than one verse was dedicated to talking about her use of fabrics and clothing is an indication that a woman of strength and honour cares a lot about her appearance and how the world perceives her. Not to the point of making yourself into something you’re not, but to the point of showing people that you care about how you look. We represent the Lord every time we walk outside our front door and it’s important for us to teach our kids this fact while maintaining stewardship of our finances. In essence, this means we don’t go to the mall once a week.

Another point to ponder comes from one of my college teachers. She was often saying that you should spend money on quality pieces that can last you for years! The t-shirt at Walmart might only be $6 but if it wears out, fades, or stretches weirdly in a couple of months, you’re wasting money on something that will not last. If you spent $25 on a good-quality t-shirt, it could last you many seasons. (Ask me how I know!)

Home Ec is about more than just giving our kids a life skill. It’s about teaching them to be good stewards of the things God has given us. I’m planning to add to this little series on teaching life skills to our kids. And I hope it will be an encouragement to you as you navigate teaching your children the way the Lord instructed us to.

Proverbs 31:21, 22 Colouring page: Bringing the Basics back to our Homeschool

**To download the Scripture colouring page, right click on the picture and save to computer, then print.

Willow is Back! Where did she go?

Guys! I’m excited. This has been in my head for so many years and I started Willow’s story a few years and then lost my motivation, lol. That happens a lot with me if you hadn’t noticed. Hah.

However, recently I was chatting with a sweet lady who also happens to be my inspiration for Willow’s story, and she kind of lit a fire under me to get it done! And I’m kind of glad she did. She has been such an encouragement through email and her own books and although I know I can’t do her story justice, I’m excited to see this story come to life.

Many years ago (about 7 years) I read a book called Past Forward by Chautona Havig. The book was originally written in serial style similar to the old newspapers that would run short stories over the course of a few weeks. At the time I read it, it was offered for free on Amazon (Ms. Havig is amazing and always has a book on sale or free for Kindle). You can find the first three parts of this series here on Amazon.ca

The story is about a girl, named Willow, whose mother has just passed away. Willow grew up on a farm with no contact with the outside world. In the course of the story you learn that Willow’s mother got pregnant in her 20’s and was forced to go into hiding from the man who got her pregnant. Kari Finley builds a life for herself completely off gird, learning to care for animals, harvest all the food she needed to survive, and learn all manner of crafts and handiwork. Raising a daughter in this setting is one of the greatest achievements of her life. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to. There are 6 parts to the story, each one building on a theme of spiritual growth. I think you would be encouraged and taught through this simple story.

But Ms Havig’s books started with Willow’s story with only snippets into Kari’s life and I was intrigued. The idea of being self-sufficient and teaching yourself to do everything including weave clothing and give birth is something I can feel. While I love having an online business and first world amenities, I also see the benefits that such a life could afford.

And so, instead of going off-grid myself, lol, I decided to write her story. And yet, it’s not Kari’s story, or Chautona’s, it’s mine. I hope you’ll stick around as I share my version of Kari Finley’s story, Song of the Willow, over the next few months. I don’t know how many chapters it’s going to be. It’s still writing itself and growing. As I write this story of loss, I’ve been learning much about myself as well, and my response to the loss I’ve experienced.

I’m not a professional writer. The only thing I’ve ever had published was a simple editorial in my local newspaper. But I love to write. And the story is inside me. So I’ll write what the Lord tells me to and pray it is a blessing to someone. <3