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

Greek Word Study

*Disclaimer: I received this book for review from Celebrate Lit

I love learning about the Bible. My Bible-specific classes in college were some of my favourite. It felt like I was unlocking something that had been a mystery to me. I remember reading my textbook for Bible Geography and Customs and my classmates thought I was crazy. But understanding the customs of the Bible just made some of the passages make SO MUCH sense.

This isn’t to say that you can’t understand the Bible without these types of things, I know that the Holy Spirit can give us understanding as we read, so please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.

I just find that sometimes a passage becomes more real to me or takes on even more meaning when I understand completely what was being written and what was happening during that time period. I am, however, a history buff, and that might be part of my fascination with the whole thing.

However, when I saw the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance. Greek was actually something I wasn’t allowed to take in college. I think they had some idea that girls do better with languages and that it would discourage the guys if the girls were getting better grades (that’s what was whispered in dorms, anyway, hah). I don’t know if that’s the real reason we weren’t allowed or not, but I think it would have been cool to have learned even a little.

The author, Chris Palmer, did a great job with this book, writing it for the everyday person. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to understand what he’s written. His style is simple and personable, making it an enjoyable read as well. I actually thought this would be a good book even for a homeschool setting. You could study one word a week (there are 90 words in the book). A great option for those who don’t want to get too heavy into learning Greek, but still offers enough instruction to help with the understanding of the Bible.

I recommend this book and am hoping to add a paperback copy to my bookshelves

About the Book

Book:  Greek Word Study

Author: Chris Palmer

Genre:  Christian Non-fiction, Educational

Release Date: July 17, 2020

“Flour. Sheep. Coins. Wheat. Jesus never abandoned the familiarity of His time because what He had to say was so celestial or deep. Instead, He took advantage of what people already understood. In doing so, He didn’t just leave a way of salvation for us, but also a pattern of teaching to follow. This alone was my inspiration for how I chose to write Greek Word Study.”—author Chris Palmer

In a follow-up to his highly acclaimed book Letters from Jesus: Studies from the Seven Churches of Revelation, the Rev. Chris Palmer has written Greek Word Study: 90 Ancient Words That Unlock Scripture. With wit, humor, grace, and scholarship, Chris offers biblical insights while teaching Koine Greek words and phrases one delightful bite at a time. Unlike other books that overwhelm readers with Greek grammar, word formation, tenses, and the like, Chris makes the language accessible to anyone, using modern stories and analogies that engage readers and draw them into the Scriptures. Learning some Greek words and phrases helps you read the Bible in high definition!

“You don’t need to be scholar to read this book and you don’t need to know an ounce of Greek either. In fact, you don’t even have to really know much about the Bible at all,” Chris says. “All you need to do is just kick back and enjoy.”

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

The Rev. Chris Palmer is the founder and pastor of Light of Today Church in Novi, Michigan, and founder of Chris Palmer Ministries. He is host of the popular podcast, Greek for the Week, seen on several Internet platforms. His first book with Whitaker House, Letters from Jesus: Studies from the Seven Churches of Revelation, has received dozens of five-star reviews from readers.
Chris began in full-time ministry in 2006 and began to preach internationally in 2009, helping many congregations grow, flourish, and expand. His desire for missions is to train and educate pastors, encourage congregations, support the vision of local church, and show the love of God to the culture. He has done this successfully for a decade in over forty nations of the world in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean, working with both traditional churches and the underground and persecuted church.
Chris earned a B.A. in Pastoral Studies from North Central University and an M.A. in Exegetical Theology, magna cum laude, from Moody Theological Seminary. He is a sought-after Greek scholar for his ability to make God’s Word come alive from the Greek in a unique way. Chris is often invited to present Greek and hermeneutics workshops at Bible and ministry schools. He recently began working on his Ph.D. at the University of Wales, Bangor, in the area of Johannine literature, particularly the book of Revelation.
His previous books include the self-published Living as a Spirit: Hearing the Voice of God on PurposeThe 85 Questions You Ask When You Begin a Relationship with GodThe Believer’s Journey, and Escaping the Haunting Past: A Handbook for Deliverance.

Read an Excerpt

Study 12: Immeasurable: Hyperballō; ὑπερβάλλω)
And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might. (Ephesians 1:19)
Over the years, I’ve been privileged to travel to many lands and countries to preach the gospel. One of the best parts about this is experiencing the different cultures, particularly their food and cuisines. Meals are times of joy and jubilee, when the hosts go all out to make me feel at home.
This is especially true in Sicily. I’ve often joked with my Sicilian friends that eating is a full-time job there. Sicilians take pride in making sure you are well fed, and you’ll often hear them say, “Mangia” (eat) or “Mangia qualcosa” (eat something), even right after you’ve just eaten. Food is of the utmost importance there and the answer to many of life’s problems. I understand this because my grandparents were of Sicilian descent.
There’s a joke in Sicily about a young man with a guilty conscience who tells his mother, “Mama, I’ve robbed a bank.” She says, “Well, that’s not good.” Then, he says, “And I’ve stolen a car.” His mama says, “I see. That’s not good either.” Then he says, “And I haven’t eaten today.” And she jumps up from her seat and screams, “What! You haven’t eaten? What’s wrong with you!?”
I once invented a joke of my own that the Sicilians found funny. I said, “After studying God’s Word, I’ve discovered the disciples of Jesus were Sicilian.” They looked perplexed. While they were still scratching their heads, I had them turn to John 4:31, which says, “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him [Jesus], saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’” I think that joke has been making its way around Italy ever since.
Needless to say, there’s never been a time when I’ve been disappointed with mealtimes. I’ve been to Sicily twelve times and I can’t think of one instance when I didn’t have more than enough food placed before my eyes. I will never forget the first meal I had in Sicily. It was on a Sunday afternoon after church. I was told we were going to have “a little something” before dinner that evening. They brought out course after course after course. I was stuffed to the gills before the main course even arrived¾and this wasn’t even dinner.
My translator told me later, “Chris, the Sicilians go all out for every meal. You are never going to survive if you try eating everything.” If I’ve learned anything about the wonderful Sicilian people over the years, it’s that they don’t mess around when it comes to food: it’s always going to be over and above, more than enough, and plenty left afterwards.
The apostle Paul talks about God’s power this way in Ephesians 1:19. Here, Paul was sharing with his church in Ephesus what he prays for them. He tells them that he prays they will know the hope that God has called them to and the riches of God’s “glorious inheritance in the saints” (verse 18).
The hope that God called us to represents the beginning of the Christian life. While we did call upon God to be saved (see Romans 10:13), He first called us. He called us to belong to Christ and have a new life free from sin, to be holy and separate from the world, and be part of God’s celestial family.
The riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints alludes to the end of the Christian life. It is our total inheritance, which we will receive when the fullness of time comes. Until then, we are waiting for it with patience. In short, verse 18 speaks about the beginning and end of the Christian life.
At present, we find ourselves in the middle. Our Christian life has taken off, but we have yet to receive the totality of God’s promises. As we make our way toward receiving this final inheritance, we find our path strewn with all sorts of challenges, difficulties, and suffering. To push us past these and over the goal line, God has given us His power—“what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.”
The Greek word for “immeasurable” is hyperballō. It is a two-part Greek word that comes from: hyper (above, over, beyond, more than) and ballō (to throw or cast). It literally meant to “throw beyond” or “surpass.” Over time, it came to express other means of excessiveness such as outbidding someone at an auction, extreme heat from a fire, unbearable pain, and the intense brightness of stars. Hence, it was a word used for something that stood out, excelled the norms, and went beyond the standard amount.
The idea in this Scripture is that God supplies an over-and-above ration of His power to help us overcome the obstacles and challenges we face so we can receive the full inheritance promised to us. Not just a little, just enough, or even more than enough, but an over-and-above, highly excessive amount, like a meal in Sicily. We can stuff ourselves with God’s power and never come close to exhausting it. It’s all around us and is ours for the taking. And we aren’t to be stingy with it because there is enough to go around and plenty to take home.
Perhaps you are wondering how you can tap into this smorgasbord of power. The way Paul tapped into it: through prayer. When you come into prayer, you stand before a banquet table that is heaped with everything you could possibly need to overcome your troubles. And you are free to take.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 13

Through the Lens of Scripture, August 13

For the Love of Literature, August 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 15

deb’s Book Review, August 15

Texas Book-aholic, August 16

Just Your Average reviews, August 16

Inklings and notions, August 17

Just the Write Escape, August 18

CarpeDiem, August 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 19

For Him and My Family, August 20

Quiet Workings, August 21

Batya’s Bits, August 22

Mary Hake, August 22

Godly Book Reviews, August 23

KarenSueHadley, August 24

Captive Dreams Window, August 24

Lis Loves Reading, August 25

Artistic Nobody, August 26 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

As He Leads is Joy, August 26


To celebrate his tour, Chris is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!

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


Song of the Willow – Part 5

Chapter 6 – Willow

Willow slowly rolled over and stretched one arm over her head.   Why bother waking up?  She had spent the last week questioning her sanity.  She snuggled down under the covers on the bed and rolled onto her side.

Wait. What?

Willow opened one eye and then the other.  How did I get into bed?   Suddenly wide awake, she sat up quickly.  Scanning the room her eyes finally lit on the note and the cell phone on her bedside table.   Picking up the note she read its contents,

Willow, when you wake up would you please call me?

I’m worried about you and need to know you’re okay.



Willow cringed.  She looked down at what she was wearing and cringed again.  He had carried her to bed?  She must look a mess!  How embarrassing!

She left the cell phone where it was and moved slowly from the bedroom to the bathroom.    She stared at the shower for a minute before reaching out and turning it on.  Even though she didn’t feel like it, a shower was necessary.    She could go back to bed for the rest of the week after she was done.  What day was it anyway?  Avery probably came on Saturday, was it still Saturday?  She determined to check the date on the cell phone when she was done. 

Surprisingly, the shower made her feel more normal.  By the time she had finished, dug clean clothes out of the still packed suitcase, and towel dried her hair, Willow realized she was starving.  “Might as well find something to stop THAT ache.”   Speaking the words out loud sounded even louder in the quiet house.

Willow headed downstairs, forgetting completely about checking what day it was.  She found the next note on the counter as she reached for a glass to get some water.


I brought you a few things and stashed them in the pantry.    I wasn’t

sure what you liked, but since you didn’t answer your phone this week

I had to guess. 

Please call me!   


She left the note where it sat and went to check the pantry.  A carton of fresh eggs sat on the sideboard beside a refilled basket of bananas.  A loaf of bread and what looked like a crock of butter was also there.  She opened the ice chest and discovered he had also purchased a couple steaks, some deli meat, and a carton of cream.  She found herself cringing again as she realized the steaks were probably supposed to be supper for the two of them.   The cream inspired her and she quickly got the generator going and started the coffee perking.  She hadn’t had coffee in a week!   She really was losing her mind.

That thought prompted her to go back into the ice chest for one of the steaks.  On the floor in a corner she spied two wooden crates, one with potatoes and one with carrots.  Scooping up as many as she could carry in one hand she went back into the kitchen and dumped it all on the counter.   Then she turned to look at the stove.  She was going to have to figure this out at some point.   

And then she hesitated.  Other thoughts began to fill her mind.  Why bother?  What’s the point anyway?   Sleep sounds better. 

She left the food sitting on the counter and walked slowly to the living room and stared out the window at the water.  It wasn’t a particularly bright day, and the grey of the ocean brought her spirit down to match it.   Although it calmed, it did nothing to give her the will to live.

Then she noticed the next note.


                             You’re not my daughter, but today I definitely feel like a dad.  As much

                             as I want to tell you to snap out of it, it’s not my place.  You’re going to

                             have to figure this thing out.  It’s a mess for sure, but it’s one God can

                             clean up.  Read your Bible, Willow.  I think you’ll find the peace you’re

                             looking for there.


Willow read through the short note a second time and then her eyes lit on a book sitting on the table to the left of the chair.  Her Bible.  She sank into the softness of the couch and the arms seemed to wrap her in a hug as she reached for the black leather book.  She was fairly new to this Bible stuff.  She had stumbled into a mission one night after walking around the streets of Rockland the day her life fell apart.  She had heard the news of the Gospel and had gotten saved.  The woman who had led her to the Lord had given her this Bible. 

She opened it and the pages crackled with their newness.  She started reading in Genesis 1 but found nothing in those first few chapters that brought her peace.  Frustrated she placed it back on the table and went to where her violin leaned against the wall.   The last note lay atop it.


                             I heard you playing that first morning here and the sound was beautiful.

                             God has given you a talent and if you choose to cultivate it you can still

                             use it for His glory, even out here all alone.  Don’t let the music die inside. 

                             Keep playing!   Play for Him.  Let Him hear your sorrow.  But also share

                             the joys, they’re there if you look for them.   Don’t give up.

                                                                                                                                                CALL ME!


Willow took the case to the coffee table and opened it.  She took her time rosining her bow and tightening it.   The she took the violin, adjusted the shoulder piece, and tucked it under her chin.  She plucked a few strings to check the tune, and then placed bow to strings.   Then Willow played.  One of the only celtic-style songs she had ever learned.    It was mournful, slow, and beautiful.   She determined then and there to learn more.  The classical repertoire she had been forced to learn had never moved her the way this song did.

Then she stopped, packed the violin away carefully, and placed it back against the wall.  Slowly her footsteps moved back to the stairwell and up to her bedroom.  She walked around the bed and reached the table where the cell phone lay.   Her fingers lightly brushed the cold metal and then, as if it were a lifeline, her hand wrapped around it tightly and she picked it up.   Spinning slightly, she sat on the edge of the bed and turned the phone on.   She located Avery’s number and hesitated slightly before pushing the call through.  It rang once and then picked up:

“Willow?”  Avery’s voice through the line was like water to a parched tree.   A tear slid out of the corner of Willow’s eye before she knew what was happening.

“Avery?  Where are you?”

“Willow, I’m not far.  I’m coming back and I’m asking you to trust me again, don’t be shocked, but I’m bringing someone with me.  Someone who can help you.  Give me 20 minutes.”

“Thanks, Avery.”  The call disconnected and Willow’s hand dropped.  She had made the first move.  Now it was up to God.

Dual Power of Convenience

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

Dual Power of Convenience FB Banner

So, I have to admit. This wasn’t a favourite for me.

Say wha?????

I know, a book by Chautona Havig that I didn’t rave over (sorry, Friend!).

I think I struggled with her take on a Christian marriage. It’s not wrong. In fact, I think there’s probably some Biblical take away here. I just struggled because in our culture we’re taught that there must be an element of love before getting married. We have a box that we’re told we need to fit into. Sometimes its hard to set those boxes aside when presented with something different.

I actually had a number of people who took me aside before my wedding and cautioned me about marrying a man 13 years my senior (because of course I was just marrying him because I was desperate!). There’s this stigma that unless you’re marrying someone you’re in love with you’re not marrying for the right reason. Although I’ve seen arranged marriages (friends from the Middle East) and how happy they are, it’s still hard to get past that feeling that that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. I think I had an internal war going on the entire time I read this book which is why I was ready to put it down by the time I finished it.

I will say, though, I find Chautona’s characters fun and easy to relate to. I especially liked Mallory’s character (even though she’s not the star of this book, hah). I would still recommend this book and think it was well written, even if I didn’t appreciate the subject.

Check out the other blog stops on the tour and scroll to the bottom for a giveaway!

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Inklings and notions, August 6

lakesidelivingsite, August 6

deb’s Book Review, August 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 7

Rebekah Jones, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 7

Artistic Nobody, August 8 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 9

21st Century Keeper at Home, August 9

She Lives To Read, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 11

Adventures of a Traverlers wife, August 11

Emily Yager, August 12

Stories By Gina, August 12

CarpeDiem, August 12

cultivating us, August 13

Connect in Fiction, August 13

Livin’ Lit, August 13

Read Review Rejoice, August 14

Quiet Workings, August 14

Blossoms and Blessings, August 14

Just Your Average reviews, August 15

Rebekah Reads, August 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 15

Lis Loves Reading, August 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 16

Splashes of Joy, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Captive Dreams Window, August 17

Spoken from the Heart, August 17

Lots of Helpers, August 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 18

About the Book

Book:  Dual Power of Convenience

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre:  Christian Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 28, 2020

Dual Power of Convenience-sm (3)

When Richard Danforth inherits the family estate on Merriweather Island, he doesn’t have time to deal with it—especially not from halfway across the globe. He’s too busy working to become the world’s newest billionaire and avoiding the women who would detract him from his goals.

Enter Lyla Santana. Fresh out of Oxford University with a degree in antiques and a relationship that nearly killed her to leave, she’s eager for the isolation and treasure trove that is Danforth Hall. Lyla also is determined to avoid men at all costs. Forever.

It was supposed to be a match made on paper. With him halfway across the globe, they’d never have to see each other again.

So, what’s Richard doing on Merriweather just weeks after the wedding? And how will his arrival test Lyla’s faith, not to mention stretch their so-called relationship?

In a twist on billionaire romance and marriage of convenience, this “Merriweather book” kicks off a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author


Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Did I Really Agree to Write a Romance Series?

When my fledgling little idea for a single book transformed into a series that then transformed into a SERIES, I kind of missed the part where I agreed (and likely suggested, if truth be told), that the books should be contemporary romance.

I mean, beach reads.  Romance.  Duh.

There’s just one problem?  I rarely write a straight-up romance.  And if I do, it’s usually a short novella in a collection—often at Christmas.


Isn’t it obvious?

Despite nine kids and being married for almost thirty-two years, I am THE most unromantic woman on the planet. No habla amor.  Or something like that.

So there I was, toodling down the 395 (a treacherous bit of road between my house and the publisher’s) when all of what I’d agreed to exploded in my brain.  I’m still scraping brain matter off the windshield and trying to stuff it back in. I need every last one of those “little gray cells,” thank-you-very-much!

Romance.  My heart sank.  Boy meets girl.  They like each other.  They fight.  They get back together.  They live happily ever after.

It’s a thing, folks.  A formula.  And if you deviate, true romance readers get annoyed.  What was I going to do?  I didn’t want to write romance.  Not really. I had ideas.  The prequel book had been all about trying to bring a young woman back to the Lord.  That’s more my speed, okay?

The wheels began churning.

The ones in my head, I mean.  The tires still rolled along the ground. Fortunately, my cranial explosion hadn’t caused an accident or anything.  Just in case you were curious.

I considered making each one loosely related to a fairy tale retelling.  I’d have a Cinderella story, a Beauty and the Beast, a… nope. That made it that far and I just couldn’t.  The minute we got to Sleeping Beauty, I’d have my readers in comas.  No. Thanks.

Next came Rom-com.  We’d make it funny.  All the stuff that happens in beach romances gone wrong.  Why not?  We live once!

I was yawning before the thought finished forming.

Right about then, I think, is when I wondered what kind of tropes I needed to consider.

See, romance tropes are a thing.  I even talk about them on my podcast.  The tingling sensation that comes when a good idea is brewing happened.  A grin formed.

Tropes. I’d play with tropes.  I’d take all those familiar things and twist them somehow.  Why not?  It would be fun.

And it was.

Right about then is probably when I began recording my ideas.  Creosote and sage whizzed past at breakneck speeds (let me dream.  I’m not a speed demon, but c’mon… for the sake of poetic license and all?). And the ideas whizzed faster (no license needed.  They really did).

Book 1.  Marriage of convenience.  I mean, those are always fun, right?  So why on earth would someone need to get married?

Every idea I came up with has been done… and done again.

That’s when I upped the stakes. Authors do that, you know. We come up with a way to torment our characters, and then we say, “Okay, now how can I make this worse?  Nope, I need it even worse.  Oh, and…” Bam!  The story goes from interesting to can’t-put-it-down.  All because we’re not afraid to be cruel to non-existent people. Score!

How’d I do it with this one? I added in another trope. One I personally just can’t “get.”  People love the things, and I’ve got no idea why.  But it answered my first question of why someone might need a marriage of convenience or… as my gal puts it… “a paper marriage.”

My guy became the world’s newest billionaire.

Yep, you read that right. I wrote a “billionaire romance.”  Sort of.  Now, if I could figure out how on earth I’d take two people on opposite sides of the world and get them together.

*insert hands rubbing together in fiendish delight*

Oh, yeah.  I did it.  And even more than that, I love it.  I made my characters do some stupid things. I really did (you know, like how two Christians didn’t even pray about their marriage decision?  Like how they didn’t even ask if the other person was saved?  Why should they?  They’ll never see each other again… they said.  Ha!  The Lord had other ideas.  Sorta.  This is fiction, right?  Oops! I suddenly feel like that crazy Kathy Morningside in Miss Congeniality).

From Adelanto to Kramer Jct., I planned out that first book—Dual Power of Convenience.

(the title gives away that reason for marrying, no?  Also, links may be affiliate links that provide a small commission at no extra expense to you.)

It was almost too easy.

Then I started playing with the next ones, and the series became a reality to me.

– Dual Power of Conveniencewhen a woman too afraid of men goes to work for a man who is too busy making money to want anything to do with that whole marriage and family thing.

– Bookers on the Rocks— This couple’s marriage is on the rocks (that’s the trope, of course), and neither of them has a clue. They’ve been married for twenty-five years, neither is having an affair, no one wants a divorce, life is good, so why is it on the rocks?  You’ll see…

– Directing Hearts— The Crawforths got tricked into allowing a reality matchmaking show film on their islands. Brooks Crawforth tangles with the director until their verbal battles turn into a different kind—a battle for their hearts (enemies to “lovers”)

– Just a Memory— In this one, Mallory Barrows (who makes appearances in all of the books) comes across an old journal that tells a story she’d never heard. It’s the old Patti Paige song “Go On with the Wedding” but over forty years later!  Mallory knows something that might just create a (here comes the trope) second chance at romance.

Printed on Her Heart— After being instrumental in so many couples’ relationships, it’s Mallory’s turn in this dual-trope story.  In this one, we get a mashup of friends to more and love at first sight.  Can’t wait to share it.  Squee!

Okay, that’s the deal.  Yes, I really did agree to write a romance series.

And yes, it probably was my idea.

I might deny it to my dying day, but it is also a whole lot of fun… so far.



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