Friday, March 18, 2016

Writing Challenge #5 Answers!

Please, a round of applause to all who entered this challenge! I had so much fun reading your entries. Every single one was amazing and did a great job of showing the moral: don't jump to conclusions. Here are the three entries I received, in the order they were sent to me. Thank you to all who entered and those who wanted to enter but were unable to.

My first entry was from Abigayle. It was written in a lovely style that I really enjoyed. It seemed like I could step right into the story and take pictures of the dew. Thank you for participating, Abi!

The Dew Remains
I tumble out of bed and don on my clothes with haste. The dew remains on  the grasses and I must capture it before it evaporates into the dawn of  another day. I fasten the last button and fly down the stairs, over the  porch, and out the gate. I hear the screen door slam as my feet carry me  over the sharp stones among the feverish dust and into the horizon where my  meadow lies.

Oh, my beautiful meadow. I hardly remember snatching my satchel that now  rests across my shoulder, slapping my leg with every footfall I leave  behind. I pull it over my tangled black hair that tumbles over my shoulders  and draw out my sketchbook and pencils. The very sight of them stokes a  warmth in my heart that is not often there.

I spy the masterpiece I come to relay with led and paper and sit on  nature’s wet blanket to get a better view. The sun’s sleepy rays hit its  dewdrops with such precision, I determine to come again and again. As many  times at it will take to transcribe the beauty held in the spider’s  delicate hovel, a homage to its Creator.

A shadow creeps over my page, cast not by any cloud or tree, but by a  fellow person. I turn, prepared to release my fury on the mortal who dares  to disturb my sanctuary. Every one of them knows by now, I had made  certain, not to disturb my solitude.

The eyes I meet are not familiar but foreign, as is the ringing of voice,  when he asks, “What are you doing?”

I scoff and turn back to my work. Can he not tell I am busy?

“Do you live here?”

Again, I remain silent, hoping he will go back to where he came from.

“Look, I’m just trying to be friendly.”

I whirl around and stare his striking blue eyes into a puddle as he takes  in my odd appearance—the blanched skin, consuming eyes, and strident hair.  My hem must be wet three inches up. “I am not your friend,” I hiss. “Don’t jump to conclusions.”

I return to my work and smile as the shadow retreats. But the spider is  gone and with it his web. I dart my eyes for a moment, searching. I snap  one of my pencils over my knee in my fury. How could you?

Then over the wind, I can almost hear his mocking voice. Don’t jump to  conclusions.

I sit chastised for a long while until the dew begins to fade and the sun  bursts down more heavily. Then I turn and walk home, lacking all luster I  left with just an hour before. On my way I meet the boy again. He had never  really left. He remained there, at the edge of the meadow, watching,  waiting.

He holds is hand up and offers to carry my satchel. I agree to let him, if  only to make him feel better for my outburst before. He makes small talk on  the way home and I learn enough about him that I realize perhaps we could  be friends. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions.

The next entry I received was from Lauren Stoner. It displayed the moral wonderfully! I really enjoyed reading it!

Charlotte Balentine sighed in disgust. How could her brother do this to  her? Of all the people in the world, her brother was marrying Holly  Sheaffer. The Sheaffers were the richest family in town and the entire  family was spoiled. Holly’s younger sister was Charlotte’s age and was mean  and rude to her at school.
    “Gavin, you can’t marry her!” Charlotte protested.
    “Charlotte, I will marry whomever I want,” Gavin replied.
    “But they’re mean people!”
    “You don’t know Holly.”
    “Yes I do! Her entire family is mean and nasty and I wish they’d leave  town!”
    “Charlotte!” Gavin spun around. “That was totally uncalled for.”
    Charlotte squirmed under her big brother’s stare. “But the Sheaffers  always have everything they want and treat all of us like dirt. The whole  family thinks they’re better than everyone else.”
    “Enough, I’m late for work.” Gavin grabbed his coat. “Holly’s coming over  for supper and your attitude towards her better change before then.”

    Holly arrived with Gavin at five for dinner. The five crowded around the  dining room table. Mr. Balentine said a quick prayer and the food was  passed around.
    “Thank-you so much for inviting me over,” Holly said as Mrs. Balentine  passed her the bread basket.
    “We’re so glad you were able to come,” Mrs. Balentine replied.
    “We wanted the opportunity to get to know you better,” Mr. Balentine  added. “Gavin has told us about you, but we haven’t had the chance to talk  to you ourselves.”
    Holly laughed nervously.
    “All good things,” Gavin promised, taking Holly’s hand.
    Charlotte resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Instead, she shoved a bite  of lasagna into her mouth.
    “What are you looking to do now that you’re out of college?” Mr. Balentine  asked.
    “That’s actually what we wanted to talk to everyone about,” Holly said.  “Gavin and I have been discussing this for weeks and we’ve been praying a  great deal. We’re positive about what God wants us to do.”
    “And what’s that?” Mrs. Balentine inquired.
    “Be missionaries,” Gavin said.
Charlotte set down her fork and looked at her parents. The Balentines  exchanged a brief glanced before looking to their son.
“I’ve been battling the Lord for a month now about this subject. I’d have  to return to Bible college, but Holly approached me about breaking off our  engagement because she felt called to the mission field too. When I  realized that she was willing to break up with me to follow the Lord’s  Will, I realized I had to put God first in our relationship, just like she  was.”
Charlotte couldn’t handle it any longer. “This is ridiculous! You can’t be  a missionary, Holly! Your family could never be missionaries! Your family  is rude and mean!”
“Charlotte!” Mr. Balentine shouted.
    Charlotte fled the room and retreated to the front porch.
    Moments later, the door opened and Holly walked out and sat beside  Charlotte.
    “I don’t blame you for judging me because of my family,” Holly said  softly. “I know my family is unsaved and they do a lot of things I wish  they wouldn’t. I know you don’t know me very well, but I am not like the  rest of my family. I used to be like them, but Christ changed my life a few  years ago and gave me new purpose.”
    Charlotte could hear the truth in Holly’s words. She felt awful for  jumping to conclusions. “Holly…I am so sorry.”
    “It’s alright; I forgive you.”
    Gavin joined the two girls on the porch. “Everything okay?”
    “It is now,” Charlotte answered with a smile. “Let’s go finish dinner.”

And Faith P. sent me her entry, much to my delight. It, too, displayed the moral very well and was well-
written. This one was so sweet. Thanks, Faith!

  Bryce Thompson was fuming as he stormed up the stairs to the elementary school and down the hall towards the principles office. He knew the route all too well. 
  Life had been hard for Bryce and his daughter since his wife passed away, almost year ago. This wasn't the first time he'd been called away from work on account of Laurel's disruptive behavior in school. He was about to his wit's end. Marci had been homeschooling Laurel, but that wasn't an option for them anymore.
  Bryce paused outside the door to the school office to gather his thoughts, before stepping inside. The school secretary, a middle-aged lady with blond hair and bright green glasses, looked up when he entered. 
  "Afternoon, Bryce." 
  "Hey, Gladys. I came as soon as I could." 
  "She's over there." The woman motioned to her left and went back to the paperwork on her desk. 
  Bryce turned in the direction she'd indicated. His seven year-old daughter sat slouched in a chair against the opposite wall. He walked over and stood in front of her. 
  "Laurel, look at me please." 
  She slowly meet his eyes, her own rimmed with tears. 
  "Is it true that you shoved Alicia Marshall into her lunch tray?" 
  "Yes, sir," she answered timidly. "But..." 
  "But, what?" Bryce prodded, kneeling to her level. 
  "I had good reason!" she insisted. 
  "Laurel, there is no good reason for you to do such a thing. Why can't you get along with that girl? Every time you get in trouble it has to do with her." 
  "Please, Daddy!" She scooted to the edge of the chair. "Please listen!" 
  Bryce sighed and sank into the chair next to her. "I'm listening, but I don't want to hear another round of excuses." 
  "Alicia Marshall is a nasty bully," the girl started. 
  "Laurel..." he warned. 
  "She is!" Laurel sniffed. "She makes fun of me since...since Momma died." 
  Bryce froze. "What?" 
  Laurel looked down at her lap and didn't answer. 
  "Have you told the teacher?" 
  "Mrs. Dickson doesn't care. She...she picks on me too because I'm getting failing grades... She doesn't like me and that's why I get in trouble so much." 
  Bryce felt like someone had dropped a ton of bricks in his stomach. How could he have been so consumed by his own grief that he overlooked his little girl? How long had Laurel been suffering? 
  "Oh, Laurel..." He held out his arms to her, as she slid out of her chair and crawled into his lap. 
  Bryce held his daughter close as she sobbed on his shoulder. He had believed others above his own daughter. He'd certainly jumped to the wrong conclusion. 
  "Listen, sweetie." Bryce pried his daughter's arms from around his neck and turned her chin so she looked him in the eye. 
  She yanked her chin out of his hand and wiped her nose on her jacket sleeve. Bryce grimaced and glanced around. He pulled a Kleenex from the box on the table next to him, handing it to Laurel. She took it and wiped at her nose. 
  Bryce let it slide; there were more important matters to be solved. "Laurel, will you listen to me now?" 
  Green eyes slanted in his direction and a trembling chin were his only answers. 
  "Honey, I had no idea any of this was going on. I'm so sorry that you were going through this alone. Can you forgive me?" 
  Laurel slowly nodded. 
  "Things are going to be different. We're going to spend time on your homework every night after supper and get your grades back up, alright?" 
  "Okay." Laurel smiled up at him so sweetly. "I love you, Daddy." 
  He kissed her cheek. "I love you, Laurel." 

 And that's all as far as the entries I got. A huge "thank you" to everyone who entered. Now, I have a
question for my readers and entrants. Would you like the next challenge to be writing a story based off
of a moral, or rewriting a popular fable, like I did in the beginning? Thanks again to everyone! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Meanwhile . . .

You have several posts coming your way (like the writing challenge entries) but meanwhile, I wanted to let you in on a little secret about me: I really like to bake! (Mostly cookies.) That is what I just finished doing. Here are a few pictures—just to make your taste buds water. They taste GOOD if I may say so myself! ;P
The dough: my favorite part to eat!
Ready to bake!

A peek inside the oven

Done baking!

Ready for consumption. Mmm!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Out my Classroom Window

Homeschool is not always as easy as it may seem to other students. It, like everything, has its pros and cons. One of the most difficult elements of being homeschooled is my struggle to make really good friends because I don't see others my age nearly as often as most non homeschoolers. Mostly, I just have friends within our church and youth group. That is not bad, just not always the easiest. Even then I sometimes feel left out when they start talking about school and I have no idea what they are talking about. I'm certain you other homeschoolers feel this same way. Then, you may ask, why do you like homeschool? There are numerous reasons, most of them centering around my family. Not only do I get to spend much more time with my family, but can also travel to see family that lives farther away. I can have a Bible Class and, as I'm sure you've gathered if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, we DO take many trips. We have been able to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, Disneyland, and the Grand Canyon on days when others are in school so it is not nearly as crowded. This brings me to the focus of my post. Because I am homeschooled, I am so blessed. Take a look at the view from my classroom window that I had yesterday.
Can't beat that! While homeschooling has not been easy, it is days like yesterday when I am reminded of just how truly blessed I am.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Ocean Breeze - Photographs!

While at my grandparents' house, I was able to get some nice pictures of the ocean. The day that we were leaving, the waves weren't huge, but they were big! It was hard to capture the color of the water, but it was beautiful! I thought that you might enjoy seeing a few. (Some are a bit blurry because they were taken with some zoom.) Enjoy!

Also, don't forget that the writing challenge due date is this Saturday, the fifth. I'd love to have you enter if you are able!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February Highlights 2016

Good afternoon, Friends! I hope that you are having a great week so far. Being the beginning of March, it's time that I give you some of the biggest highlights of my February.

I should start by letting you know that I was able to read eleven books in February for a total of 2,010 pages. In addition to the books mentioned below, I also read part of Silas Marner, by George Eliot and finished reading The Mark, by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.
  1. Daughters of the Faith Series: Shadow of His Hand, Wendy Lawton (148 pages)
  2. What About Cimmaron?, Lauraine Snelling (84 pages)
  3. Sierra Jensen Series: In Your Dreams, Robin Jones Gunn (140 pages)
  4. Forbidden Doors: The Guardian, Bill Myers (170 pages)
  5. Red Rock Mysteries: Windy City Danger, Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry (234 pages)
  6. Adventures of the Northwoods: The Disappearing Stranger, Lois W. Johnson (142 pages)
  7. The Black Stallion: The Blood Bay Colt, Walter Farley (307 pages)
  8. The Island Stallion: The Island Stallion's Fury, Walter Farley (190 pages)
  9. Pirates and Faith: A Captain's Heart, Molly Evangeline (365 pages)
  10. Golden Filly: The Race, Lauraine Snelling (123 pages)
  11. Golden Filly: Eagles Wings, Lauraine Snelling (107 pages)
I should also let you know that I was very happy with the turnout of the Super Bowl. Although the Greenbay Packers are my favorite football team, the Denver Broncos are my second favorite. So, yes, I was so thrilled that they won! Now, I hope that if the Broncos don't agree with you, you won't be upset with me. We can still be friends. :D

Also on that Sunday of the seventh, two missionaries from Malawi that my parents have known for years came to speak at our church. It was so amazing to listen to their stories and see God's hand! After church we were blessed to have them come to our house for lunch. (Privilege of pastor's family. :D)

The following Friday and Saturday were very busy for my sister and me who got to spend the night at a dear friend's house. Saturday we then ended up going to three other people's homes! Yes, very busy but fun!

The next Thursday my Grandma came to stay with my sister and me while our parents took the middle schoolers from the youth group to Hume Lake. We had so much fun with our grandma here! It is always so special to spend time with beloved family! Mom and Dad returned on Sunday evening.

Then, on Friday, we went to visit our grandparents for an overnight. I took a few great pictures of the ocean waves that I will probably share with you. The waves were so beautiful!
Pif, short for Purr Factory

Although in February we didn't take any "big" trips, it was still a busy month. However, it was also a bit of a harder month because in our area two people died. One we knew, and the other my Dad did the funeral for. The other very difficult part of this month happened on the 28th. When we returned home from church and visiting friends, we found our 17-year-old cat, Pif, had died during our absence. I had known this cat my entire life. He was most certainly part of our family so his passing was really hard. I would value your prayers for us.
Other than those three painful events, February was a good month. We visited with many people and were able to spend some time with my grandparents. Even with all the activity, I managed to do my schoolwork efficiently and get more exercise than I have in awhile playing softball and horseback riding. I was also able to take some pictures and read quite a bit.

So, have you enjoyed any of the previously mentioned books? What books did you read during this month? What did you do during your February?