Saturday, October 31, 2015

First Time in History. . .

October 31, 2015 is a day that has made equine history! It has happened! For the first time in history we have a Grand Slam Winner! The Grand Slam is the title given to the winner of the Triple Crown, as well as the prestigious Breeders Cup Classic. This feat has never been accomplished. . . until now. Moments ago, eight horses settled into the starting gate, jockeys poised for action. The bell rang. The horses leapt forward as one. American Pharaoh, first winner of the Triple Crown in 37 years, took an early lead. He held that lead through the end of the 1 1/4 mile race on the Keeneland Racetrack just outside of Lexington, Kentucky. Not once did he waver. Never did he struggle. He kept his lead throughout the entire race and crossed the finish line 6 1/2 lengths ahead of the rest of the field. All viewers, including my family from our living room, were ecstatic! We had witnessed history once more! Three-year-old American Pharaoh with jockey Victor Espinoza, trainer Bob Baffert, and owner Ahmed Zayat took him to victory! American Pharaoh ran his race with seemingly no competition in 2:00.07.

Now, the famous horse has retired to become a stud and will be living in a lovely breeding farm near Keeneland, not far from where he was raised. He has finished his racing career with ease, class, and style. He is one of the best. Never will there be a horse like American Pharaoh.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn to Me

This post was inspired by another blogger friend, Faith P. Thanks, Faith! To read her post, click here.

What does autumn mean to you? To me, it is:

  • Cleaning our woodstove chimney
  • Short days and chilly nights
  • Getting up while it is still dark
  • Long shadows
  • Unpacking winter clothes
  • Shivering until we light the fireplace each morning
  • Watching leaves flit through the sky on their way to the ground
  • Being more careful when riding the horses because of breezes that might spook them
  • Starting to think about Thanksgiving
  • Harvesting the last of the garden
  • Pumpkin flavored everything! (pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin-flavored chips, pumpkin-flavored cream cheese, pumpkin pie, pumpkin-flavored marshmallows, pumpkin-flavored cereal, pumpkin ice cream, and even pumpkin-flavored pumpkin seeds!)
  • Eating more homemade soups and breads
  • Baking
  • Shopping for Christmas
  • Leaves crunching beneath my feet
  • Doing more blog posts and novel writing
  • The Circle C Short Story contest ;-)
  • Both my parents' birthdays
  • Looking forward to my birthday (aka. making a wish list) 
  • Reading a good novel in front of the fireplace
  • Rain and wind
  • Changing my blog layout to give it an Autumn look (For those of you who read my posts in your email, check it out! I think that it looks pretty cool!)

This is all what makes autumn be autumn to me! What about for you? Do you identify with any of the things that I mentioned? Thanks for tuning in!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October: Pastor Appreciation Month

Before October is over, I want to bring to your attention that this month is Pastor Appreciation Month. Traditionally, members of a congregation show their gratitude to their pastor by doing something special. It could be bringing the family a meal, writing a note, or just making a point to say "thank you." Because my Dad is a pastor, I know firsthand how much work goes into preparing Sunday morning teachings, in addition to all the other in between meetings. Aside from teaching on Sunday, during the week pastors are preparing their hearts and messages for services or other activities like (as in my Dad's case) youth group, a men's meeting, and visiting those in the hospital or jail, or those who are facing difficult times. Pastoring is a full-time job. So much goes on behind the scenes that many people never find out about. They pick up the phone whenever it rings, and are constantly studying and preparing. Things come up spur of the moment that they have to attend to and in addition to having a full-time job, they are also on call. Many people assume that pastoring means simply getting up on Sunday and delivering a message, but it is SO MUCH MORE!

Next time that you see your pastor, youth leader, worship leaders, and other ministers, I encourage you to tell them "thank you." Show your gratitude by taking them a meal or sending a card. Over the years members of our congregation have done this for us, and it has truly been a blessing! Remember that it doesn't just have to be in October. So, to all the pastors out there, thank you!

Especially to you, Dad. . .
Thank you for taking your job seriously and remaining so dedicated. Thanks for being my pastor. . . even at home. I love you and want you to know that I am grateful to have you as my pastor, father, and youth leader. Thank you!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Writing Challenge #2 Winners!

Well, I am quite pleased with the entries I received for the writing challenge with the moral "honesty is always the best choice." It seems like you all really enjoyed it! I had such a difficult time judging them since each one had its own strength, but alas, I have managed to choose the top three. Thank you one and all for entering! May you enjoy reading all the entries. Please comment and let me know if you are interested in more of this sort of writing challenge, and your thoughts on how this one compared to my other one. Note, all the entries are in purple so that you can easily tell them apart from my comments. The results are as follows:

1st place: my sister, Abigail R.
2nd place: Kaitlyn K.
3nd place: Faith P.

Super job, Abigail! What a great example of the importance of honesty! Not to mention that I love old west sort of stuff! She dubbed her's Should have Told the Truth.

Slipping through the night shadows a masked man crept up to the livery of the rowdy gold town. Pulling out a piece of wire, he stuck it in the lock and expertly began jabbing it around. Finally the lock came loose and fell off. He slipped inside, closing the door behind him. The horses stirred at the odd sent of the stranger as the man walked past each stall, examining all the horses. After passing a palomino he decided that if anyone saw the mare, it would be very hard to recognize her from other palominos. "It's alright beauty, I won't hurt you. All I need is a mount to get me out of this town that's held me behind bars fer so long." He spoke soothingly to her as he haltered her, tacked up, and then slipped out of the barn. Sticking to the shadows, he made his way out of town where he disappeared into the night. By day-break the whole town was up early, due to the spreading word of the robbery. By then the criminal and the horse were miles out of town and resting in an old abandoned barn where the culprit and his companions hid out. They enjoyed stealing palominos since it was hard to tell them apart. The new horse got acquainted smoothly with the other twelve palominos. "While I was in town I stole some farmers outfits for a disguise," Mark, the bandit who had stolen the palomino, remarked later in the evening as they sat around a small fire. That night, all five bandits changed into disguises in case any "visitors" came by. The next morning, the culprits were awakened to the clip-clop of horses' hooves. They looked up to see the sheriff and five of his posse riding toward them.
"Howdy," the sheriff called, "You wouldn't happen to be able to brew some coffee for me and my men, would you?"
"I believe we have the supplies," Mark replied, trying to hide his worry. "Bring out the supplies, would you John. Please, sit down." Mark moved his hand showing a row of chairs. "You can release your horses into the corral. My horses would enjoy the company." After the horses were released and the coffee poured, Mark asked, "So, what brings you out here?"
"Two days ago a prisoner broke out of jail and also stole a horse—a palomino." The sheriff looked at Mark. "It seems mighty curious that you have a corral full of palominos."
"Are you saying that I stole that horse!"Mark furiously replied.
"Well, did you? Tell the truth," the sheriff asked.
"No, that's utterly ridiculous to think that I, a farmer with a love for palominos, stole a horse." Mark stood. "Now you probably need to be going so I won't keep you. Would you like me to ready your horses for you?"
"No thank you, we will take a look at the horses while we are there. Now the owner said that the mare's name was Sunshine," the sheriff said to himself."Sunshine!" he called.
"Neigh!" Sunshine trotted through the corral toward the sheriff who glanced toward Mark.
"Line up." Worriedly Mark stood in a line next to his companions. The sheriff haltered the horse began walking her past the men. When they reached Mark, Sunshine stopped and nickered to him. "Sir," the sheriff remarked toward Mark, you will be hung. The rest of you will be put in jail." That day the sheriffs words were carried out. The bandits were put in jail and Mark was hung for his crime. The sheriff's last words to him were, "Son, if only you had told the truth, we might not have been so hard."

Second place is awarded to Kaitlyn K. This was a wonderful way to put an example of this moral into everyday life. This is just like how God works. Great job!

    Ashley stood up straight and wiped her forehead.  “I had forgotten that  hoeing a garden could be so hard!” she said to her friend Hannah, who was  sitting on a patio chair, sipping a glass of lemonade.
    Hannah grinned.  “Just do it my way,” she replied.  “Take as many breaks  as you can, get plenty of lemonade from the pitcher Mrs. Jenkins set out  for us, and get just as much money as everyone else.  I’ve hardly broken  out in a sweat!”
    Ashley frowned.  “Hannah, that’s dishonest.  I mean, you’re trying to  deceive Mrs. Jenkins into giving you just as much money as any hardworking  kid that she hires.  That isn’t right.”
    Hannah rolled her eyes.  “Come on, Ash, it’s not like it’s that big of a  deal;  I’ve been working... some.”
    Ashley sighed and shook her head.  “Hannah, that’s just not right.  Your  thinking is way wrong.”
    “And what makes you so sure that I’m wrong?”
    “Because the Bible says so!”
    Hannah rolled her eyes.  “Ash, you know I don’t believe in that stuff.”
    Ashley went back to her hoeing.  “Why don’t you just come help me?”
    “Oh, in a little while.”
    Ashley threw down her hoe.  “Hannah, so help me, if you don’t get back to  work, I’ll go tell Mrs. Jenkins what you’ve been doing!”
    Hannah raised her hands in surrender.  “Alright, alright!  Settle down!”   she picked up her hoe and began to chop weeds while Ashley went to get  herself a drink.
    Ahhh, that tastes so good!  Ashley thought as she drained a glass of  lemonade.  Turning, she picked up her hoe and was about to re-enter the  garden when she saw Hannah gently chopping off the tops of the weeds,  leaving the roots in the ground.  She’s at it again, huh?  Still doing the  least amount of work that she can?  Ashley rolled her eyes and went back to  work, finishing off the weeds that Hannah had “hoed”.
    When the two girls were done, they walked to the house to collect their  money.
    “My, done already!”  Mrs. Jenkins exclaimed.  She reached into her purse.   “Here you go, Ashley, Hannah.  Thank you for working so hard!”
    Ashley smiled and received her pay, annoyed on the inside.  She wondered  how Hannah could get away with a thing like this.
    As the girls started for home, Hannah counted her money.  “What?  She  didn’t give me nearly as much as last time!”
    Ashley, counting hers as well, said with surprise, “Huh!  She gave me more  than usual!  I wonder...” but she kept her thoughts to herself.
    Later that night, Ashley lay awake in bed, thinking about Hannah.  That  girl is going to get into a lot of trouble one of these times,  she thought.
    The next morning, Ashley was eating breakfast when the phone rang.
    She picked up the phone.  “Hello?”
    “Ashley, it’s Hannah.  You’ll never guess what’s happened!”
    “What?”  Ashley waited, bracing herself for another one of Hannah’s  shenanigans.
    “Mrs. Jenkins called Mom, and told her what I was doing yesterday.   Apparently she was watching out the window.  And now I’m grounded!  Can you  believe it?”
    Ashley smiled.  “Well, I suppose you learned your lesson.”

Third place was very difficult to choose, but in the end, Faith P.'s entry won. This one was great in that it is such a real struggle that many people have, and I love what a great reward Trent's honesty earned him! Thanks for entering!

 The judge banged his gavel. "Trent Porter, will you please stand?" 
 Trent shakily stood knowing his punishment would soon be meted out. 
 "There have been many charges brought against you by the state of Nevada," the judge began. "Among them are larceny, aiding in a child-napping, and an assault case nearly becoming murder. There is more than enough evidence and witnesses to convict you and send you straight to San Quentin penitentiary." 
 The judge sighed. "I have one question for you and one question only. How do you plead?" 
 Trent clenched his jaw. He knew what was true and he knew what would happen if he pleaded innocent. He also knew what awaited him if he told the truth. 
 Trent slowly turned his head and looked over his shoulder to the first row of chairs, where his wife and their two children sat. 
 Tabitha and Colin sat close to their mother, watching the court preceedings with wide and frightened eyes. Lila met his gaze and, though no tears showed on her face, he knew she was crying on the inside. 
 She mouthed something to him. Trent didn't need to read her lips, he knew exactly what she'd silently said. 
 God wants honesty... 
 Those were the same words she'd spoken to him last night. Another glance at Colin and Tabitha, and his decision was reached. He may serve time, but it was the only way his heart, mind and conscience would be clear. 
 He faced the judge and answered the life-changing question in a strong voice. "I'm guilty, your honor." 
 "Well, that's not the response I expected," the judge admitted. He banged his gavel again.
 "There will be a fifteen minute recess. After that time the verdict will be stated." 
 "Trent Porter, you have been found guilty of all of the multitude of charges on your record. I hereby sentence you to eighteen months of prison confinement." 
 One last pound of the gavel. "Case dismissed. This court is closed." 
 Trent sank back into the chair. Only eighteen months? He could have easily gotten five to ten years for his crimes. 
 Thank you, God. I don't know what I ever did to deserve this. 
 He looked behind him and Lila gazed back. This time the tears showed on her face and she was smiling. Again she mouthed a few words to him. 
 Thank you, Trent. I love you... 

To my final two entrants: know that I thought that your pieces were outstanding and worthy of recognition! Excellent jobs!

This entry is from an adult friend who goes to my church. Sharon, your entry made me laugh unto tears, especially because I can see you doing this! Thank you so much for entering!

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind was howling fiercely and the  thunder was clamorous- oh wait, that's just my husband snoring! I lay awake  thinking about how good God is, and how He cares about every detail of my  life. I ponder His majesty in the fierceness of the storm, and how I am  always safe from harm because He shelters me. I love the....ughh! My  thoughts are interrupted by the LOUDEST snore EVER! Sounds as though a  motorcycle is revving right beside me; in my frustration, I slowly reach  over into the velvety blackness, fumbling around to hone in on my target- a  perfectly fine nose making decidedly unacceptable noises! My hand finds its  target, grasps the nose firmly, and begins to squeeze- not so tight (at  first) but with more and more veracity I attempt to destroy my enemy, that  pesky, unrelenting nose! All reasonable thought gives way as I battle this  opponent, and I will not be defeated! Oops! I perceive eyes peering at me  through the darkness- "are you squeezing my nose?" The disembodied voice  inquiries. My mind races desperately as I struggle with the urge to deny  the fact. I want to say "why of course not; why would I do such a thing?".  But a still small voice reminds me that lying is a sin, a breaking of one  of the Ten Commandments, and decidedly rude to boot! Yes, I confessed , I  did try to strangle the life out of your schnozzola, as it was  being most  offensive. I lay there with a smile on my face, even as the nose began to  rattle anew. I was content, and with contentment comes great gain; I was  content because I was honest-and honesty is always the best choice!

Jesseca Dawn: your entry is super! I love the "on the record" and "off the record" parts. Isn't that how we all feel oftentimes? Thanks for entering!

Joyanna stood quietly against the wall, waiting for the footsteps she knew would come. Sure enough, the trademark clip-clip-clip of his boots neared the door.
He sounds like a horse, she thought, doing her best not to laugh. The reason he was coming came back to her and she immediately sobered.
The door opened and Lieutenant Erich walked in.  He took a seat at the desk and turned to face her.
"So, Joyanna. I have a question for you." He tapped his riding whip on the desk.
One-two-one-two. Joyanna's eyes followed the tapping. Why does he carry that anyway? I've never seen him ride.
"Joyanna, are you listening to me?"
The harsh tone of his voice interrupted her thoughts. She quickly raised her eyes to meet his, "yes, sir."
His eyes bore into her, "Did you or did you not purposely spill the gravy on Sergeant Steiner?"
"Sergeant Steiner?" her voice was quiet and her she glanced away.
"Yes, the man who was teasing you this morning."
"Nadetta said to be very careful not to spill it."
"Joyanna, look at me!" His voice commanded obedience. At once she raised her eyes to his face. His cold, blue eyes bore into her.
She shivered. His eyes scare me.
"I've asked you a question. I want the answer and I want the truth."
She knew that tone of voice. It was one that sent fear through her entire body. If I tell him the truth, will he hurt me? The question pounded through her brain.
"I won't hurt you. Just tell me the truth." He leaned back and rested his shiny black boots on the top of the desk.
How does he always know what I'm thinking? She wondered, studying his boots. And how does he always keep the boots so clean all day?
"How do you keep your boots so clean?" she blurted out. A feeling of fear swept over her when she realized she had asked the question out loud.
"I asked you a question first. Answer it!"
"Yes," she whispered.
He leaned forward till he was eye level with her. "Yes what?"
"Yes, I did it on purpose." What will he do to me? She could feel her heart beating in her chest as he stared at her.
She glanced down as silence filled the room. Then, to her surprise, he chuckled.
She risked a glance up at him, startled by the twinkle in his eye. Is he actually smiling?
"You know, I've always wanted to do something to that guy. He gets on my nerves."
"So. . .you're not mad at me?"
"Just for the record, what you did is wrong. Off the record, he deserved it. So," he sat back and took his his feet off the desk. "we'll let it go." His eyes turned cold, "but don't let me ever catch you doing it again."
She swallowed and nodded.
"Okay,, let's go. It's time for you to get started on your new responsibilities."
Joyanna nodded and stood, following him to the door. Her eyes fell on the swastika that hung above the entrance, proof that the Germans had in fact taken over France.
"Come on," Erich called impatiently, holding the door open.
Joyanna hurried out into the bright sunlight, then squinted up at him as he put his hat back on his head. "Can you answer my question now?"
He glanced at her, puzzled. "Your question?'
"How do you keep your boots so clean? 

Thank you everyone who entered! Don't forget to please give me your input as far as future writing contests! Also, please seek God and see if he desires you to help my church in buying a well for a village in Asia by purchasing raffle tickets. Remember, your dollar will help to further God's kingdom work!

Have a great evening! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Little Colt

I have asked several of you if you would be interested in reading essays and other things that I write in school. So far, everyone has said yes. Thus, today I wrote a (very) short story. (It's only 380 words) However, I thought that you might enjoy reading it.

My assignment was to write a very short story based upon a picture. I chose a picture of two chestnut horses, a mother and a foal and came up with this. Enjoy!

In a lovely green pasture behind a perfectly kept-up red barn on an immaculate racehorse farm lived a little colt. For awhile, the little foal was content to remain beside his mother, enjoying the grooming that he received daily from the grooms, but slowly grew discontent, for though all would say he was pure Thoroughbred, far back in his blood was the heart of an Arabian. When he was nearly three-years-old, the young horse received his first trophy in a race.

As he grew into a fine racehorse, he was treated handsomely and given a pasture to himself. Yet, he did not desire to be alone. Over time, he felt his wild desire to be free grow within him until he could not hold it inside any longer. He was tired of the constant training and racing. He was weary of the grain to keep him energized.

Finally, he decided to flee from this organized life into that of a wild stallion. During the night, he nickered a goodbye to his mother and friends over the fence, and lit out toward the far end of his pasture. As he neared the fence, he let out a shrill neigh and lifted his front legs over it. He landed solidly on the other side and shook his mane. He was free! Nothing could stop him now!
He used his wild Arabian instincts and his Thoroughbred speed to carry himself far from the farm where he had been held prisoner his whole life and sped off into the crisp cool night. For days he traveled, enjoying this newfound life. Those instincts led him safely to water each day and eventually to the company of a herd of lost horses. This little band of mares the stallion took over and led them away from all civilization.

Though his master searched for him for weeks, they never found his carefully picked trail that led him to freedom. And it is free that he lives even today, with no fences to contain him; no grain to fatten him; no training on a track to work his steely muscles. His fence was the horizon; his grain the sweet grass; his training on the rugged countryside with his herd of mares. It was here that he was content.

Reminder: My writing challenge due date is TOMORROW! Shortly thereafter I will post the winners!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Win a Custom Quilt!

Good morning! Have you ever heard of Gospel For Asia and their Christmas Catalog? In their catalog you can purchase gifts such as sewing machines, water buffaloes, rabbits, bicycles, and other items to be given to someone in need somewhere in Asia all in the name of Jesus! My church supports this organization and is having a raffle for a custom quilt! Whatever size, pattern, and colors you want! All money raised for the raffle goes toward buying a well for a village in Asia.

In many places, the Christians in a village are driven away from the closer water source by non-believers, who may be forced to walk miles each day to draw water from a filthy stream. When a well is purchased, the Christians share the water with everyone in the village. This clean water blesses the entire village and is an open door to show Jesus's love to all the villagers. Many come to Christ through this blessing.

This year marks the 5th or 6th year that my church has raised money to buy one of these wells. You can live anywhere in the United States in order to participate. For specific details, view the flyer above. Ticket prices run as follows:
$1 for 1 ticket
$5 for 6 tickets
$20 for 25 tickets
To purchase a ticket, please send me an email through the gadget on the right sidebar with your name, email, phone number, and number of tickets desired. I will then send you my mailing address and your total, and fill in your tickets for you. Once you have received my mailing address, you can send me the money for the tickets. The drawing is December 6, 2015. If you win, you will be contacted by phone first.

I really encourage you to help this cause! Remember, all money goes toward buying a well for a village in Asia to share the gospel. Please consider helping out. Thank you!

Note: My Writing Challenge due date was Saturday but I will be extending it until this Thursday. Thus, if you would like, I would love for you to enter!