Sandbox 6

So…. This week is a madlib! 

Give me ten words: Three adjectives, two verbs, four nouns, and one adverb.

I will give you the filled paragraph! 

The original is:

On Christmas morning we run downstairs as soon as we are awake and wait in the kitchen. Generally we are decked in Christmas pajamas and bathrobes. We bake sausage balls and cut up oranges ready to take into the living room. Habitually we line up at the door with baskets in our hands and often Santa mugs full of coffee. When Daddy gives the word we charge into the room. Our stockings, so loaded with presents have always managed to fall off of the mantle and end up in various chairs or on sections of the couches surrounded by presents. We all dig in and explore our stockings excitedly. I usually never eat any breakfast except my chocolates.

What will your words turn it into? 

NP6 – Glancing Back At The Fading Shore


Leading up to this chapter Ella Middleton, a seamstress of 20 in London, Spring 1840, has taken on a new client for the season. Juliet Willingham is a young lady who is just going out this season and has bonded with Ella. Mrs. Middleton has been trying to get Ella married to any wealthy man so that Ella can have the time to raise a family instead of being trapped in the sewing trade her whole life. Ella looks for much more than money in a gentleman and has resisted every pressure of her mother. This last Sunday she introduced a Mr. Frederick Williamson to Ella. He is wealthy and charming and Ella’s resolve to not marry the men chosen by her mother is now threatened. What will she decide?



            Before I knew it, I found myself in another fitting with Juliet.


“I’m so glad to have found a seamstress close to my age.” Juliet said softly, and I wondered again if she felt nervous. “You see, I don’t have any sisters. As much as I love my brothers, it’s just not the same.”


I poked a needle carefully through the blue silk of her bodice as I replied, “I don’t even have brothers. It’s just me. I’ve sort of had sisters all my life because we’ve boarded seamstresses as long as I can remember. But it hasn’t been quite the same. They come and go. But I’d love to have a brother.”


“It’s nice. Lawrence and I are close.”


“Ever since my father died I’ve always wished I had a brother.”


“You were close to him?”


“Yes,” I tried to swallow back tears I felt coming. “I could come to him about anything. What I miss the most was just being able to fall apart when I was with him, and he wouldn’t condemn me or make fun of me. He would give me a long warm hug. And tell me all would be right in time.”


“Oh I know!” Juliet exclaimed. “So often you have to pretend everything is dandy in your life when you are around others, while you just feel like honestly admitting your heartbreak.”


“What I hate the most is that gentlemen will ask to call on you and woo you and you just wonder, will you be able to trust them with the saddest part of you? I have begun to realize that when someone is asking to know me closely, they are asking to know my heartbreak, to know the darkest part of me. Do gentleman expect that? Or do they expect a pretty girl to flirt with and look good on their arm? How do you make a judgement call when deciding over suitors? How do you know if they will care about you?” I unconciously began spilling myself over the subject.


“I know.” Juliet fidgeted with her fingers as she spoke. “I think that is why my brother has never shown much interest in marriage. He is protective of me too, and we’ve talked long about what I should be looking for in a gentleman. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find a man as worthy as my brother.”


“And I wonder if I will find a man as worthy as my father,” I stood back and surveyed her dress. “He was the best of men and I remember once when I was very small he rescued a little boy from a gang of young men who were beating him. Could I find a man as admirable as that? It’s not so much that I want to marry. I’m content working, but I’m lonely. With my father I could just speak, but now if I want to talk to a gentleman, unless it is romantic, it becomes awkward. I can’t confide much in anyone but girls without making a mess.”


“I guess I’ve never considered how blessed I am in that regard.” Juliet smiled endearingly at me. “But take heart. I’m sure you’ll find someone as worthy as you deserve.”


I began adjusting her dress again for a better fitting at the waist as I wondered if Frederick had any of the virtues we discussed. “Well, the only way to know is to risk showing your heart for what it is.” I sighed. “I’ve done that a few times and have been laughed at for ‘being emotional’ and yet I’ve never met a man who is less emotional than I. Every boy or man I have ever known has caused as much or more drama in our friendship than any girl I have known.”


Juliet laughed. “My brothers squabbled just as much as my friends and their sisters do. I have to be their go-between.”


“Do they still live at home?” I wondered their ages.


“Well, the oldest is married, so he and Lawrence only fight if his family visits for a while.” Juliet shifted and scratched her head as I unpinned the dress. “But James and William are younger than I am and I have to manage them too.”


“It’s complicated having siblings then?” I again could only wonder.


“Oh yes. Yes. And being an older sister is a job in and of itself,” She began dressing again as I folded up the fabric of the new gown. “But, changing the subject, you mentioned a suitor you were to meet, how did it go?”


I blushed a little. “Well… I think it went well. I don’t know anything about him really, but he was very kind.”


She smiled, “I hope it turns out well.”


“We shall see.”



NP5 – Up Anchor

This is chapter three of the novel project. Ella Middleton is a young seamstress of 21, the same age as Queen Victoria, living in London, England. Her father passed away when she was 17 and was never a safe guard for choosing a husband. Her mother has now been throwing her way every moneyed man she can find. Ella, however is determined to find true love, and has so far resisted the match-making process, to spite her loneliness and longing to marry. Her mother has tried again to throw a gentleman her way, what will he be like, and how will Ella react?

He tipped his hat to me as I stepped out of the cab. My spirit quailed. I can’t explain what made me give such a reaction, but I immediately distrusted the man. I’d seen a pair of dark eyes beneath that hat brim and a smile full of mischief  which I later described as a smirk. By the time I had reached the steps he had disappeared into the church.

After the service I found him leaning on a porch column with his top hat over his brow. “Miss Middleton,” He swept off his hat and bowed. “Fredrick Williamson at your service.”

I curtsied in response. As he looked up from the bow our eyes met. The smirk dropped from his lips and he genuinely smiled.

“I was told to meet you here.” I began, feeling a bit awkward.

“And I came to seek you.” He studied my face. “You are indeed as beautiful as I have been told.”

“Thank you.” My cheeks flushed. I could tell from his eyes that his compliment was honestly meant. “And how many girls do you compliment in a day?”

He scoffed playfully, quite taken aback. “What?”

“I saw you complimenting two other ladies this morning.”

“I assure you,” He said, trying to quiet his little smirk. “I only complement a lady I find deserving.”

“And how many is that?” I had begun to enjoy our playful tete-a-tete. I realized now that sometimes his smirk meant he was blushing and trying not to grin.

He scoffed again. “You- I-” his smirk broke and widened. He wiped his hand over his mouth, as if to wipe away the smirk. “I am usually not so stumped by a lady’s words.” He lost control of his face and blushed fully. He again drew his hand over his face, as if his blush was dirt to be brushed away and renewed his gaze with a freshly controlled expression.

My mind ran him over constantly, attempting to draw his character. I thought he was a bad man, but I’d been told my whole life that first impressions are often wrong. While I had never had a more intense first impression, I should let him draw his own character, right? I should let him speak for himself, should I not?

“You don’t easily trust me,” he said, stroking his chin softly as he gazed at me. “But you don’t trust anyone easily. You carry yourself with a barrier around you.” He finished and then quickly added, “As any lady should!”

I smiled at his care to make sure I understood his intent.

“And…” he added slowly, with his smirk growing again. “You don’t trust a man with a smile.”

“You are quite right in your observations.” I smiled, but it dropped from my lips and I gazed down at my gloved hands as I remembered the smile that had stolen my heart. “I’ve had bad experiences before.”

He shrugged, “We all have. Life is hard.”

I disliked his casual attitude over the comment, but he couldn’t know the depth of pain I was feeling. He had drawn a bucket from a well of hideous sadness in my heart. The last man with a smile that I had loved had left me without even a word.

“I hope that I do not seem too eager or forward. I am a man who speaks his mind and am not one to beat around the bush.” He pulled himself from leaning against the column. “It has been long since I enjoyed the pleasure of an intelligent conversation with a lady.”

“I am not a lady.”

“Yes you are. I mean the term as one of respect, not one of societal rank. If I were to call you a girl it would be either a term of endearment, and it is too early for that, or a term that denotes a lower rank. It would imply that you are younger than I, and presumably less experienced, perhaps naive  If I were to call you a woman I would unfortunately imply the common usage of the word; that you have not lived honorably enough to earn the title of lady. But if I call you a lady I hold you in the honor and respect you deserve.”

I smiled at his eloquence. My estimation of him rose more and more as we spoke. I hoped I was not merely falling sway to his charm. We continued in conversation through a cab ride home and over dinner. I learned that he loved to read as much as I did and we agreed in perspective on various historical events. By the time he stepped out the door with a sweeping bow I was leaning on the door frame, blushing. Perhaps my wait for a husband had finally ended.

Sun and Moon

I was the sun
And you were the moon.
We were friends in the winter
Though we met in a June.

I, little sunshine
Went bouncing around.
You, the still moon
Made hardly a sound.

We talked here and there
When the autumn leaves fell.
Always into the night
Long stories we’d tell.

We met once again
On a warm summer night,
Shared embraces and whispers
Beneath the moonlight.

We met in the sun
And under the moon.
I am the sun.
You are the moon.

“Love. . .your neighbor as yourself.”

What if, next to our devotion to God, our first priority in life was taking care of each other, not merely ourselves? What if we took seriously that the second most important commandment is loving your neighbor? What if we invested in the hearts and souls of each other, and not merely our physical well-being? We tend to buy our way into each other’s affections instead of getting our hands dirty in each other’s troubles. Why are we so selfish? What if everyone around you cared about you, not just if you are sick or well, not just if you are doing well or badly in school, about you? What if everyone cared about your struggles? What if they cared about how you are feeling today?


For some reason work is always more important that spending time with friends. You either take your work seriously or you are a party animal. No in between. “Work before play” is where we get that. And yet when is getting down and dirty in the troubles of our companions “play”? “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14) If we consistently took care of each other’s emotional and spiritual needs, how much better would all of us be able to care for our physical needs?


Work is so important these days. It’s all about progress. “Stop doing that hobby. You aren’t producing anything from it. Stop watching movies, they aren’t getting anything done. Don’t cry, it doesn’t accomplish anything.” The only trouble is that all of those things do produce something, and all the same thing: relaxation. We forgot what it meant to relax without being lazy. Somewhere along the way we forgot that work was always punctuated with rest. God gives His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2) “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” (Hebrews 4:1) Somewhere along the way we decided it was better to work all the time. There are workaholics or lazy people. Who is well-adjusted?


How many people do you know who struggle in their daily lives because they are lonely or hurting? How many people do you know who can’t seem to get their career off the ground? What happened to them to take the drive from them? And who is there to support them, to carry them through that struggle? So often we decide to cut out social time in order to spend more time working so that we can make progress in our lives. But some people cave into party animals and never work, because they can’t sustain themselves by their own strength. Where is the balance? What if instead of working constantly on our own lives, we took and interest in others? What if we stopped being selfish and said, “Here, let me take your problem and make it mine.”?


NP4 – Chapter 2 of the Novel Project – Sails Unfurled

This is chapter 2 of a story about Ella Middleton, a seamstress working in London during the early reign of Queen Victoria who is exactly her age.  Ella misses her father and struggles coping with loneliness and a host of unsuitable suitors that her mother likes to send her way. She has just taken on a new and wealth client.

    “Ella,” My mother took me aside before dinner. “You’ll be completely in charge of Juliet’s new wardrobe. We have so many orders this season that none of us will be able to lend a hand. Can you do it by yourself?”

I nodded calmly. “Yes, Mama. I’ll be fine.” I took a deep breath. “It’s a big task, but I’ve been sewing for years now. I know I can do it.”

Mother’s hand dropped from my shoulder as she sighed with relief. “Well then, if you are certain.” She turned and run the breakfast bell.

I gazed out the window as I waited for the room to fill with girls. At our shop we boarded seamstresses from the country and had a few girls from the city who came as day workers. I watched people walking back and forth in the street. There was a gentleman on the opposing side walk that caught my eye. He wore a long black coat and a top hat. I saw little else of him, as his back was turned, but something in his manner seemed friendly and protective. I wondered who he was.

“Ella!” Evangeline, one of the seamstresses, called to me. “We’re ready to sit down.”

I turned from the window and took my seat at the breakfast table. As I often did, I let my mind free to wander in my thoughts. I spent the morning cutting fabric for the patterns juliet had chosen. She had scheduled a fitting at 3 that afternoon, so I worked to piece together as much as I could before she arrived. When the lunch bell rang I stood and stretched my back.

“Oh, Ella!” My mother met me at the door into the dining room. “I forgot to tell you. There’s a gentleman who’d like to call on you.”

“And he is?” I brushed past her through the doorway, trying to be politely disinterested.

“His name is Frederick Williamson and he is quite good looking.” My mother followed me through the room.

“The owner of the cotton mill a few blocks away?” I looked up, not too surprised. He was rich. Of course my mother liked him.

“Yes! And I hear he owns a large sewing house as well. You should be honored that he’s taken a liking to you.”
“How does he know of me?” I gave her a slightly puzzled expression.

“Oh, he’s heard of your talent through the market. Your name is a rising one!” She smiled proudly.  “You remember Daisy? The girl who left us last fall. I believe she told him about you.”

I stared absently at the fruit on the table, wondering what sort of fellow he would be. “Well, I take it he’s spoken to you and that you’ve told him I would meet him?”

“Yes! He’s going to come to the Sunday service at our church and I’ve invited him to dinner.”
I looked forward to Juliet’s appearance that afternoon. Just before three I left the sewing room and cleaned up a bit before heading to the store front. She didn’t appear with the strike of the clock, so I absently walked around the shop tidying things. I glanced up as the door opened.

“Welcome to Middleton Dressmakers,” I smiled.

“Oh, thank you.” A tall gentleman smiled at me and removed his top hat as he closed the door. I could have sworn it was the gentleman I’d seen in the street that morning.

“How may I help you?” I laid down the bolt of fabric I’d been refolding.

“I’m here for my sister juliet.” He smiled as he spoke and brushed back a lock of hair. I remember noticing that it was undecided in color just like his sisters. Sometimes it looked brown and sometimes blond.

“Is she unable to come?” I felt disappointed. I’d been excited about her fitting.

“Our carriage wheel broke this morning. She will be able to come later in the evening, half past four, if you are able to see her then.” He held his hat in his hands at he spoke and his blue eyes looked at me with a distractingly intense gaze.

“Certainly! I’d be pleased to see her later. I’ll simply cut a pattern for another one of her dresses and she’ll have even more to try on.”

“Thank you. I will let her know.” He bowed slightly and stepped out of the shop.

I headed back to the sewing garret. My eyes followed the scissors across the cloth as I pondered the gentleman I’d just met. Something about him felt familiar and safe. I couldn’t remember ever having seen him before, but it felt as if he knew me.

“Ella!” one of the girls who worked primarily in the shop front was calling from the garret doorway. “There’s a lady to see you, Juliet Willingham.”
I dropped my scissors and picked up what I had ready. Lost in my thoughts of Juliet’s brother and then of what Frederick would be like I had completely lost track of time. I walked strait to the fitting room and found juliet waiting there for me.

“Ella!” She smiled. “Oooh,” she gasped with a smile growing over her face as she saw the pale blue silk for one of the gowns.

I smiled and held it up. “You like it?”

“Oh, I love it!” her eyes were wide with delight. “I’ve never been able to pick out my own wardrobe before. Mother always has done it for me.”

“Well, you’re going out. It’s very important to make sure the clothes are just the way you want them.” I smiled. “If you notice the slightest thing you want changed, let me know. You need to feel amazing when you are wearing these clothes.”

Juliet smiled as I pinned the fabric around her. She glanced in the mirror anxiously, and then looked at her feet. “I’m so dreadfully nervous about going out. . .”

“Don’t be!” I laughed. “Not that I would know what it’s like for a lady, but it wasn’t ever anything to be terrified of for me.”

“Do you have a beau?” she asked.

I pulled a needle out of my mouth and stuck it in the fabric. “No! I haven’t actually been seeing anyone for several months. But my mother has found a suitor for me that I’m to meet on Sunday.”

“Oh really?” Juliet was eager to know all about going out. “What is he like? Do you know anything about him?”

“Well, he is the successful owner of a large sewing house and a cotton mill. His name is Frederick Williamson.” I laughed to myself at how he must seem such a small man to Juliet, who was going out to choose a husband among lords.

“That sounds grand, ouch!” She jumped a little as I accidently poked her with a needle.

“My apologies.” I moved the needle quickly. “There. Take a look at yourself.” I stood back as she posed for the mirror.

“It’s… it’s beautiful.” She beamed. “I’ve never worn anything in this color before.”

We spent the next hour pinning, unpinning, and discussing the process of going out. Before our session ended the two of us had grown to like each other a great deal.

“You know, if all of these dresses turn out well to my liking and my mother’s, we might offer to have you as the family seamstress.” juliet said as she finished putting on her gown again.

“Really?” I might have blushed at such an extreme offer and potential complement to my work.

“Yes,” Juliet smiled. “And I’d love it if that were the case. Then I’d see you all the time.”

“Well, that sounds like a wonderful challenge.” I smiled at her as we walked to the front of the shop. As she stepped into the street I turned away wondering what on earth would come of it.


SP4 – Quotes on the themes of the Novel Project

“I will not leave you fatherless. I will come for you.” – John 14:18


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverds 3:5-6


“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4


Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14


“Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” – George Bernard Shaw


“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2


“Look for the girl with the broken smile. Ask her if she wants to stay a while, and she will be loved.” – Adam Levine in She Will Be Loved


“Cry, I’m here to wipe your eyes.” – Adam Levine in Wipe Your Eyes


“It’s cold and loveless, I won’t let you be denied.” – Matthew Belamy in Undiclosed Desires


“The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.” – Zephaniah 3:17

NP3 – Chapter One – Self Anchored

This is chapter one of the novella project for the class. This is a historical novel set in Victorian England in 1840.  Ella Middleton is a seamstress working in her family shop with other girls like her.

I liked to think. That was one thing that I loved about my work. I could sit for hours over my sewing machine and sift through my endless thoughts. My father used to say that he wished my clothes could talk. “What a story they would tell!” I would laugh at him and say, “I hope they speak with discretion. I wouldn’t want my inmost thoughts known to just anyone, much less one of the dim-witted ladies of high society that I sew for.” He would smile, “I think you sew with enough discernment to pass it into the character of your clothing.” Then he would usually say, “But one day you’ll meet a real person who will listen to all those thoughts and he will be a lucky man indeed.”

I wanted to believe that he was right. My heart was sick with loneliness, my spirit weary from too many years of self-reliance, and I longed for a listening ear. My father had died when I was 17 and put off my “going out” for a year while I mourned. I still miss our evening conversations by the fire. In a way I find it a blessing for him that he did not live to see those days. He didn’t have to witness my lack of success in the courting sphere. At the same time I longed for his steady reassurance as well as his discernment.

My mother only aimed me toward moneyed men. I knew she meant well. She had grown up in the low working class and married into the low working class. Though she had lived well, she longed for me to have the freedom to choose my own lifestyle. She wanted me to have the time to raise my own children instead of working constantly and sending them away for schooling. She didn’t understand my love for the work as she was too concerned that it paid little. However well founded that dream was, she took it too far. If she met a successful businessman she would throw him at me regardless of character. Most of them were decent but not compatible.

This story is about the season during which I turned 21 and the year when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. While society rejoiced in the match, I couldn’t help but feel pressure from many people. Victoria and I were born on the same day and therefore everyone I knew felt like comparing us. In a way I felt a kinship to her, but I sometimes resented the comparison that came from our identical age. This year it hurt more. A number of my friends and elders believed I thought myself too good for marriage and foolish because of the choices I had made.

I was in the front of dress shop just after opening one morning. The first thing I noticed about her was her hair. When she walked through the door the sunlight caught it. Those curls couldn’t decide if they were blond or red. Then our eyes met. She had a beautiful innocent face and we knew at once that we were friends. She smiled at me and walked toward me, kneading her hands a bit.

“Hello,” She curtsied.

“Welcome to Middleton Dressmakers,” I curtsied in return. “What may I do for you?”

“Well,” She shifted her feet nervously. “I’m going out this season and I’ve found that your shop provides the most excellent fashion.”

I wondered if she’d practiced that sentence. She said it so carefully. “Thank you!” I smiled warmly, trying to make her more comfortable. “Please, come and look at the work from our various seamstresses.”

“Oh,” she grabbed my hand, a look of fear filled her eyes. “What is your name?”

“Ella Middleton,” I replied, puzzled.

“Let me just choose you. I’ve been told you are the best in the shop. My friends have used you before.” She blurted quickly. “I-I’m so nervous.” She let go of my hand quickly and looked down.

“I’d be honored!” I smiled. “Don’t be afraid! Going out isn’t too dreadful, although I suppose I’m not one to talk as I haven’t succeeded in these past few years.”

Juliette smiled understandingly and I led her to choose from fabrics and styles. We had become friends and I knew that this season would be one of excitement and a lot of hard labor. I’d never done a wardrobe by myself, though I was old enough, and never for one so rich as Juliette appeared to be.