Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves: Installment Two

I decided to do an illustration for each installment of my new story. I hope you enjoy them and the next part of Chip’s adventures!

A late-night snack brought Chip to the clearing the next evening, though perhaps, in his heart, he was wishing that an answer might come to him if he listened very closely as the wind went whistling though the trees.

As it happens, listening closely led to something that Chip did not expect.

He was just hopping closer to a patch of grass, softly illuminated by starlight, when a loud grunt sounded from above, nearly sending our young rabbit scampering for home.

But some mumbled words soon followed, and when Chip moved back a ways, he saw that it was only Nesbit, asleep on his nightly watch (though the owl, of course, would never admit it).

Chip shook his head with a small smile, wondering to himself how often the owl called for perseverance in his dreams.

“Hmm… Chip, my lad,” Nesbit mumbled, and the rabbit turned.

“Yes, Nesbit?” he asked, but found that the owl hadn’t actually stirred.

Still, he was speaking, and Chip hopped forward quickly, the better to hear him.

“Waiting… waiting, Chip.. must persevere…” – this punctuated by a loud snore – “… Abaline.”

Abaline! Chip was instantly intrigued. What was the owl saying? What was Abaline?

“Nesbit?” he called.

No answer, but surely, you know as well as I that a young rabbit never gives up so quickly.

He bounded to the tree and began thumping his strong hind feet against its trunk, hoping to jar the owl from sleep.

Back he ran to gaze up at Nesbit’s perch and measure his success.

Minimal.

“Nesbit,” Chip cried out more loudly, earning himself several agitated chirps from a nearby swallow’s nest. He ignored them, determined that he would have an answer. “Nesbit, what is Abaline?”

“You’ll never wake him, my lad,” came a familiar, quavering voice.

Out of a burrow, which Chip knew to be the largest in Everleaf Forest, emerged Romulus Took, the badger. He was very close to ancient, though no one knew his exact age or dared to offend the distinguished old badger by asking.

“Could you try, Mr. Took?” Chip asked hopefully.

“I can do you one better,” the badger answered, raising his bushy eyebrows. “I can tell you who Abaline is myself.”

Chip barely remembered to breathe he was so astounded by this turn of events.

Romulus let out a deep, rumbling chuckle. “Follow me, my lad. Stories like this one are best told by candlelight.” He turned and lumbered back toward his burrow entrance, Chip following eagerly behind.

It was widely accepted that Romulus Took was an odd sort of badger, though a well-loved one. He was notorious for collecting all sorts of trinkets from the human world; the badger was fascinated by them all, but it was candles that he loved best.

Chip’s father often related the day, quite some time ago, when Romulus Took had brought the first candles to Everleaf.

The skeptical and the enchanted alike had accepted Romulus’ gift with curiosity, which quickly turned to delight as, candle by candle, a small corner of Everleaf Forest was illuminated by dozens of flickering lights.

He never would say where he found the candles or the countless other oddments that filled his cozy home. No matter how many times Chip asked – and the badger had long ago lost track – all Romulus Took ever offered was a smile and wink, and perhaps, a self-satisfied, “Oh, Elsewhere.”

Chip did not know why Mr. Took was choosing to so freely share what he knew about Abaline, but he certainly wasn’t going to question the decision and risk the old badger changing his mind.

They were far into the tunnels now and Chip could see the wavering shadows of several candles’ flames dancing on the earthen walls. Soon enough, they emerged into a cozy, hollowed-out space where all of Romulus Took’s favorite trinkets were kept.

Immediately, Chip hopped onto one of the cushiest things he had ever had the pleasure of sitting on; Romulus told him they were called “chairs.” Whatever they were, Chip loved nestling in them while Mr. Took told one of his many well-known stories.

Tonight, the young rabbit was filled with more anticipation than usual, for he guessed (rightly) that tonight’s tale would be unlike any he had heard before.

What’s that?

You’re not quite sharing Chip’s anticipation? That is a problem.

Hmm?

…Well, perhaps you’re right. Until next time then.

*

Alexandria

P.S. If you’re enjoying the story, please share with family and friends! Thank you!

Love Without Boundaries

Yesterday, I read a devotion from Loop that I can’t forget. I’ll share it at the end of this post, but for now, I want to share the lines that are staying with me, particularly now because of everything happening in our world

“My love in you is what equips you to give freely and love without boundaries. Only when you love freely, with your personality and with your gifts – can My freedom be experienced in you. And that is what people find captivating.”

Loop

We’re living in a time when people are telling us where we can go and what we can do and that, right now, it’s best and safest not to draw physically close to one another.

And this strange reality could shut us down. It could make us close ourselves off and hide away, could make us put up walls that no one could ever hope to get through.

But I think we have an unprecedented opportunity that could put all the darkness of this time to shame.

Yes, we could turn inward and forget about everyone around us.

Or we could love people with an uncommon love and give with an uncommon generosity.

I’ve seen evidence of both, but I’m choosing to believe that the uncommon act of loving without boundaries will prove the stronger.

Because while it’s painful and unknown to not be allowed to gather together, we don’t have to be physically present to love well.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle towards everyone.”

Titus 3:1-2 (NIV)

So, send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long while. Make a meal and leave it at someone’s door. Create something that will put a smile on people’s faces. Check on your neighbors and show kindness to strangers. (It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just genuine.)

Because the boundaries that are in place really have no power to stop us from loving others at all.

How have you been showing love and generosity in all the madness? I’d love for you to share.

Alexandria

Here’s the Loop devotion if you’d like to read the whole thing:

Hope & Laughter – Free Resources for Your Family

Life is unexpected right now, to say the least. I felt God prompting me to create a post to share some free resources to help bring some hope and laughter into a chaotic time. Personally, I plan on doing plenty of watercolor painting, coloring, and reading! Here are some other ideas for you and your family:

For the Colorists

Image Copyright Johanna Basford

Johanna Basford creates the most beautiful inky wonderlands that are just waiting for a splash of color! Grab some colored pencils or crayons and give it a go with these free coloring downloads.

She offers loads of tutorials on her website, and if you’re interested in drawing, she also offers a free Inky Art School on Facebook where she teaches you to draw for free!

For the Learners

Image Copyright Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Every day at 3 P.M. EDT, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will be hosting a Facebook Live where they feature one of their amazing animals and include an activity that your family can do from home! Today, they’re featuring the cutie above, Fiona!

Another great resource is Future Learn!

While you can choose to pay for more features, all of their online courses are free and they offer an incredible variety!

For the Opera Lovers

Image Copyright: Jack Vartoogian, Getty Images

At 7:30 P.M. every night, the Metropolitan Opera is streaming a different opera for free. Crazy for La Traviata? Searching for something to fill your Monday evening? Now’s your chance!

For Sunday Worship and All the Days In Between

On Max Lucado’s Facebook page, he is hosting a time of live prayer and worship each Sunday morning. This is a great opportunity to still participate in a worship service from home!

I also love the First5 app, available for free through Proverbs31 Ministries. Every day, there’s a new five-minute devotion that helps you dive deeper into the Word and understand what it means more clearly! They’ve done everything from Old to New Testament (and they have a plan devoted to the Psalms). You can move at your own pace and catch up any time! It’s a great way to spend the first few minutes of your day with Jesus.

Lastly, here’s a beautiful prayer from writer, Wendy Blight. Hope in the King of kings is what we need most right now, and I think this prayer is a beautiful way to allow God’s peace to replace anxiety in your heart.

If you know of any other free resources for people as we prepare to hunker down, please comment below! Now is the perfect time to be supporting and helping each other through this time however we can.

Lastly, these are the Psalms I’ve been clinging to the last few days: Psalms 23, 27, 91, 93, and 94. So full of the Truth and promises we need right now.

Praying for peace and laughter to settle on your hearts and homes,

Alexandria

The Wilderness Road

If you had told me six months ago that I would be writing a blog post, I wouldn’t have believed you.

If you had told me that, not only would I be writing a blog post, but that I would also be content and excited about doing it, I’d have laughed.

Six months ago, everything was mapped out in my head. I was going to publish my first book, Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, in serial form. It was going to be a wild success, and who knew what would be next?

But that’s where my plan got all twisted; my idea of success was all wrapped up in popularity, money, approval, you name it.

And God knew it.

“It so happened that after Pharaoh released the people, God didn’t lead them by the road through the land of the Philistines, which was the shortest route, for God thought, ‘If the people encounter war, they’ll change their minds and go back to Egypt.’ So God led the people on the wilderness road, looping around to the Red Sea.”

Exodus 13:17-18

I’m so thankful that He sees what I don’t.

From a worldly perspective, my first attempt at publishing independently wasn’t successful at all. And a month ago (OK, a week), if I’d been brutally honest, I would have had to admit just how bitter and disappointed and honestly stunned I was that this didn’t go how I planned.

Flash forward a few days later to when I actually started listening to what God had to say.

He brought me to two verses in Exodus to show me how I’d begun to wander from what He intends my writing to be and to remind me of how intimately He knows me.

He knew I would get wrapped up in worries and fears about money and success. He knew that my motives would get twisted, all because I was more worried about acquiring approval and having something concrete to show people, so I could say, “Look! See? This whole writing thing is worthy of being taken seriously!”

And I believed the lie that my words are only worthy of consideration if I have a dollar sign or a certain number of likes to hold up next to them.

And He knew, and He waited until I was ready to know it, too.

So, here we are six months later, on a website that’s unexpectedly become a blog. A place to share a love of stories and Jesus and the written word. There’s a lot left to learn about doing this for His glory rather than my own. I’m still being led on the wilderness road, looping around to the Red Sea, still unaware of what exactly is coming next, but certain now that it’s something unexpected and good.

Walk with me?

Alexandria