Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Road to Nowhere~

Sometimes, when I'm out driving, I see a road that draws me in.  I find myself wanting to head down that road and imagine that some great adventure awaits me there.

There are a few roads like this in my area that I have never been down.  I'm saving them for some lonely afternoon, or keeping them a mystery because...

... sometimes when you take a road like this they turn out to be just another ordinary road.

Okay, I admit that I usually take every interesting road I see, because I'm looking for great pictures to share with my blog readers.  And I am obsessed with the beauty of God's creation.
Furthermore, in my area there are surprises around every curve in the road.  You never know when you'll cross a hill and see Amish children riding a pony.  One rainy day on my way home from work, I passed a farm where a plain-Mennonite family lives.  Two boys were out flying a kite in the rain.

Next time you see a road that seems to be drawing you in... take it!  If you find some great adventure there, it will be worth being late to wherever you were going.  If it's just another road you haven't lost much.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Do over!

Life is full of things that need "done over."

Karm and Coke stand patiently waiting to go out and do a little work.  Last year, Karm, Coke and I worked hard tilling up a weedy section of pasture and sowing grass seed in it.  After somewhat of a drought and then an incredibly hard winter, our hard work must be done over.  And it looked so promising last spring when fresh new grass was growing.  Have you ever poured hard work into something, only to have to re-do it?
You can see from the pictures above and below, that all we have to show for our last years efforts are a few dandelions.  In my novel, Under the Heavens, main-character Lenny plants a row of soybeans and wants do it over.  He realizes that some jobs just can't be done over.  Once you plant seeds in the ground, they will grow where they are planted, straight row or not.

Recently, Under the Heavens, has been reviewed a number of times.  My reviewers have been kind, but they have also pointed out to me some of my own "crooked rows" and exposed my area's of weakness.

When I read those more critical reviews, it's easy to get bummed out and loose my confidence as a writer.
 Instead, I need to take their views and learn from them; unfortunately, I cannot re-do my novel.  A part of me would love to try and "do over" what I have learned could have been improved on, it's too late for that.  My plan is to take what I learned and move forward.  I need to put those lessons to use in writing my second novel ( un-named sequel to Under the Heavens), remembering to continue what people like about my writing and change what is needing improved upon.  Furthermore, I need to remind myself that writing is a creative work, not everyone will relate with or enjoy what I am trying to communicate.  The hard part is separating "constructive criticism" from "differences of opinion" I'm working on that.

Karm and Coke, enjoying a sunset with me as we finish our evening work.
Here are links to a review in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

You can lead a Horse to Water...

 Water is a source of life.
We need water everyday, but it does happen that we sometimes get too much of a good thing. 

 When my wife and I visited an Amish community near Hazleton, Iowa, spring melt was causing a bit of flooding.  This Amish fella had some manure to haul and he didn't let a little field pond get in the way of his work.  I was surprised that his horses walked right in; some horses will refuse.  I probably would have gone around this part of the field, just to avoid putting my horses to the test.  This is why horses owned by Amish are such well trained creatures.

A few years back, I gave a horse drawn wagon ride for a local Mennonite family's reunion.  They wanted me to take them to an Amish home a few miles from mine, where they were going to look at some quilts.  It was a wonderful evening for such a ride and the perfect destination for a horse-drawn hay ride.  There were a couple of snags along the way for me though.  First off, I told them that twenty people would be a full load and they told me that only twenty wanted to ride.  Closer to thirty got on.  Then, it was a really warm summer evening and my team was sweating pretty good when we got to my Amish friends home.  He came up with a bucket of water and offered some to both of my horses... but they refused.  Old John Henry said, "Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

Everyone was having such a good time, when we were ready to leave it was getting dark.  One of the family members had brought their grandmother in a small pickup, they followed me back home.  With headlights shining through the crowd and horses, we could almost see and be seen.  This and insurance purposes are some of the reasons I don't hire my horses out for rides anymore.  Sad though, because it was a lot of fun.

At the end of the day, it is still true, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.  Which reminds me of a scripture.  Jesus was waiting for his friends by a well and a woman came along.  He didn't have a container to draw water with, so he asked the woman for a drink.  She was surprised, because Jewish men of that day wouldn't speak to Samaritans, much less a Samaritan woman.  She said, and I paraphrase, You are asking me for a drink?  His response: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water... whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty again."
             Gospel of John, Chapter 4
       My desire is to lead my friends to this living water, though, I understand that I can't make them drink.