First, let me introduce Rowena. We have been online friends forever and ever, and IRL friends since sometime in the 90’s when we discovered that we had a special mutual friend… my mom and I went to a fiber arts convention together, and we both had other friends who would be going, and we were looking forward to introducing each other to one particular wonderful creative artist… how I wish I had photos!!
But I do have photos from the last time she was here….
After a long career as a professional ballerina, Rowena turned to textiles and costume design. Her first book was a 360 page textbook teaching apparel designers how to use CAD to make flat patterns… http://www.wildginger.com/products/dfp.htm But now she has a far better job, and I’ll let her tell you all about it.
Guest Post – Rowena Aldridge
sweet elizabeth, thank you for inviting me to share the story of my book with your readers! i feel like a groupie, getting to play with the big kids.
this whole thing started the year ella was in kindergarten. it was 2008, i quit work so we could begin homeschool, and that was the first time in her life (and in my entire adult life) in which i had a chance to really invest in the season of advent. she and i went all out, we made an advent calendar and strung it up on the mantle and each day she would wake up and run to the fireplace to see what was inside that day’s pocket. i was very unsure of what the advent calendar should include–i wanted it to center around the scripture story of the nativity but i also wanted to keep the element of treats in it too. a friend had posted a list of suggested bible quotes with ideas of some small trinket to include with each one, and i dutifully printed out the quotes and gathered the trinkets and by the time christmas came, we had spent the entire season of advent with our various bibles, comparing and contrasting how the different translations treated the same verses, ella had a small collection of items that reminded her of each verse she had learned along the way, and the true message of the season had started to take shape in her mind.
the next year, i knew she wouldn’t fall for the same thing again. 🙂 so i started early, studying the nativity story, looking at a concordance and reading commentaries. during this period i was very much struggling with my new role at home–before, i had always had a job and a career to give me some self-definition–but that first year oh homeschooling and housewifing was so new and it had not gone as i had expected (in other words, it was not perfect, which is how i imagined it would be. oh, how we learn….) that year i decided our advent calendar would follow the daily mass readings, which was fine but frankly somewhat impersonal, even though i was careful to choose little tokens to go with each reading. ella still enjoyed the process but it felt “cold” to me.
it was at that time that i took to heart these words from the second chapter of luke: “mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” i so sincerely, desperately wanted advent to mean something beyond the words, beyond the story–i wanted it to invade and infiltrate and conquer my heart. i began to write down little thoughts about the story and the verses and the season–whatever they were, whenever they came to me–believing they would somehow take shape and start to make sense.
the third advent, i decided we’d have a jesse tree, like we did in our parish when i was a kid. each day in the advent pocket there was a bible verse, a short reflection, then a jesse tree ornament craft for ella to make to remind her of what she had read. by christmas day, we had walked together thru the cliff notes on the story of salvation–working with our hands, being makers–reflecting together at length, side by side, on the meaning and the purpose of the season, of our circumstances in life, of our place in the history of god’s plan. that was when i realized that it was time to share my story–because i had finally begun to understand my story.
the real work of putting the book together began with me re-reading everything i had written and praying to be enlightened as to how it might be of use to someone else. LOL who wrote this: rowena the wife? the mother? the person who used to be someone else but is now someone new? it came to me that the writer was actually the person i wanted to be: rowena the homemaker. so with that in mind, i started organizing the material around what another wife or mother might understand and relate to.
originally there were meditations for each day of advent but the message was not clear enough yet for that structure, so i scaled back and chose to offer just one meditation for each week of advent, and to use the ones that gave me the most confidence and peace in my desired role as the maker of a home. i decided it might also be helpful to include a few of the passages that had resonated with me, and the questions those passages caused me to pray as well. often we don’t say our real fears or hurts or angers out loud and we divert attention by complaining about the things that don’t really matter, so we don’t know that there are others out there that struggle with the same things we do. i hope that by being transparent on my journey, other wives and mothers might know they are not alone.
this first edition of the book includes the weekly meditations, several journaling prompts for each week, and suggestions for how to put the reader’s reflections to work in daily life. already, i’ve received feedback that the meditations are resonating with other women. as a gift to my readers, i created a set of printable journaling pages to go along with the book.
it is my hope that this book is the beginning of a conversation, between myself and my readers, and amongst the readers themselves, that will help us support and comfort each other through the story that begins with one special young woman whose life as a mother and wife unfolded in ways she had not imagined either. 🙂 ”
And you can follow Rowena’s journey as a mother, a wife, an artist… at her blogs here: