Sprinkling Spice–One Day at a Time

Looks Can be Deceiving

I once read of a woman who decided to make a dessert for her family’s Sunday dinner. She chose an apple pie, a pastry she made often and could assemble without any trouble. Within minutes she had the apples peeled, the filling prepared, and the pie in the oven. When she served slices the next day, her family spit their bites out like a machinegun on overload. Not offended, the woman tasted her creation and stomped to the kitchen cupboard. To her surprise, the bottle of cinnamon had been moved, a container of cayenne in its place.

I am a writer. Most of what I know about the craft has been learned at the feet of other writers. One of the things we’re told is not to overload a book with back story—the imagined history of the characters before they join the book. Many novices dump back story at the beginning like a bottle of cayenne without its lid. The reader closes the book before the adventure ever gets started. Author Anita Higman suggests adding back story to a book like you would add ingredients to a recipe. Sprinkle it throughout the manuscript like fine spice.

God often works the same way in our lives. If He were to sit us down and show us our lives in one panoramic view, many of us would opt out. Instead, He dishes it out to us one day at a time—letting us live and learn, experience and grow, fitting us for his kingdom.

 One day is what we are given—today—not tomorrow. So cherish this day, whether it comes with a teaspoon of sugar or a dumping of salt, it is all you are guaranteed. Trust you will be given just enough grace to see it through to its end.

Psalm 118:24 (NKJV) “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

 

Living Free in the Sacrifices of Others

Mementoes left by the sacrifices of others

Dust covers the hat, its fabric fragile in light of its age, the colors on the flag have faded with time—mementoes that remain of two men whose lives were important to me, who gave their service willingly for wars they didn’t cause.

I never met my father-in-law, who fought in WWI. When I married his son, the second youngest of six, the older man had already died. But my husband told me his dad was still refighting battles from the war the night he passed on.

My father fought in WWII. I have pictures of his time in Europe, his life with the soldiers, his youth spent in a bitter conflict. He and my mother married at the courthouse and she followed him from one assignment to another before Dad shipped overseas. Letters kept their love alive.

I have other relatives, classmates and children of friends who subsequently served in the Korean conflict, Viet Nam, and Iraq. All of them believed they were battling for our freedom, protecting a land unlike any other. Not all of them returned home.

Freedom is never free. A gift to be cherished, it must be guarded, nourished, and appreciated. We live in a country envied by most of the world. 

This Memorial Day I honor and thank these soldiers for their sacrifice. I owe them a debt of gratitude for the life I live. I am free to make my own choices, pursue my own dreams, and fulfill the purpose God has given me.

To all our servicemen, I say, “Thanks. You have given much.” This Memorial Day is for  you.

Philippians 1:3: “I thank my God upon every remembrance you.”

Turning Our Hearts Upward

A big leap for a little guy

While cooking breakfast one morning this week, I heard the trill of a wren coupled with whimpering warbles that sounded distressed. I glanced out my kitchen window and saw a tiny bird pacing—like the cartoon roadrunner—across my patio. Tail up and feathers fluffed, it continued its pitiful cries while the wren above answered, the panicked trills growing in their intensity. I could only guess the little one had attempted its first solo flight and floundered, caught in a down draft or sudden squall, sending it off course.

I held my breath, knowing the tiny creature needed to act quickly or it would be cat food. For what seemed an eternity, though only a minute or so passed, it trotted around in circles. All the while the continued calls of the wren above filled the area. Then, as if the fledgling made a decision, it leapt onto a patio chair seat, then hopped to the back. The bird wobbled there a few seconds, beak pointed skyward, tail still up. With a burst of energy, it fluttered—I can’t call the act flying—to a branch a few feet away and disappeared. I couldn’t see to discover its fate, but the patio grew suddenly silent. The wren’s trills stopped, as did the whimpers. 

I’ve known times in my life when I behaved like that little bird. Blown off course by a disappointment or discouraged when life swerves around a sudden curve, I falter, my whimpers falling on heaven’s ears. But like the wren to her young, God calls to me, offering encouragement through his Word and supporting me through his Spirit, until I turn my face upward and listen. 

In Psalm 138:7 says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You (God) will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies and Your right hand will save me.”  God promises to pick me up and carry me through whatever trial I face. I only have to trust. 

Later, I related the story of the bird to  my husband who, in his sage wisdom, replied, “Maybe it was afraid of heights?”

Book Pick–New Author Sherry Kyle

Raising a child by yourself is a tough assignment, but the difficulty is only heightened when the birth father chooses an unlawful lifestyle that is opposite from yours.

 That’s the situation Jessica MacAllister finds herself in when her son’s father calls her and requests a visitation, an encounter she knows cannot happen, especially since the man signed his custody rights away years before.

To escape, Jessica goes to visit her missionary uncle, George, whose illness has left him only one leg and who struggles with memories of Evelyn, a woman he once loved. What Jessica doesn’t know is her uncle’s long lost love is now a widow and looking for him, hoping to say she’s sorry for something she did those many years before. Nor can Jessica imagine that the handsome man she meets at a party will be a new love interest with an intriguing past, one that will unknowingly put her in harm’s way. 

 The Heart Stone, a romance novel by new author Sherry Kyle, explores the journey of the two women, a heart-shaped ring that binds them, and their desire to reconnect with this man they both love for different reasons. Set in the heart of Santa Cruz, California, you’ll enjoy the references to the beach, lighthouse, and gorgeous weather along with the bits of mystery, suspense and romance Kyle weaves together for a satisfying read. Published by Abingdon Press and available from Amazon.

 

 

In Search of a Breed Believed Extinct

 

 

Dominant Kiger stallion Bureau of Land Management Photo, HMA used by permission

 

While conducting research for my newest work in progress, I discovered a herd of horses unique to Oregon known as the Kiger Mustangs, a breed whose origins go back as far as the Spanish conquistadors.

 The horses are linked to Native American history, having been reintroduced to the Americas by Spaniards in the 1600s.  Believed to be extinct, they were considered the horse who helped settle the West. Rediscovered in 1977 during a wild horse gathering, the herd fell into protection by the Bureau of Land Management.  In an effort to keep the breed pure and to insure the animals didn’t succumb to natural disaster, two herds were established, one in the Kiger district and the second in Riddle, both located in eastern Oregon on Steens Mountain.

Slightly smaller than most breeds, the Kiger herd can trace its lineage back to one stallion, Mesteno, which means Mustang in Spanish. Testing by the University of Kentucky revealed Spanish markers in their blood and the animals carry the dominant genes which produce the primitive dun factor and gruella coloration and markings.

 The dun factor covers a range of color from gray to cinnamon, but the unique markings set them apart. The animal is often marked by a dorsal stripe, zebra stripes on the legs, arm bars, bicolor mane and tail, a facial mask and cob webbing. The ears, finely pointed and hooked at the tip, are outlined in dark colors with a fawn-colored interior. Wide prominent eyes mark their broad, flat forehead which tapers into a fine muzzle.

The Kiger Mustang is distinctive in conformation, having a wide and deep chest and a short, broad, and well-muscled back. The neck is well-crested. The bone is dense and the hooves are delicate and compact. The Spanish liked the animals because they were able to cover long distances. It is believed the horses descended from those used by Roman legions carrying soldiers miles across Europe.

The uniqueness of these horses reminds me of the verse in Genesis 1:24 (NKJV) “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, eachof its own kind’; and it was so.” I can only imagine God’s creativity as He fashioned the Kiger Mustang.

Kiger Herd Bureau of Land Management Photo used by permission