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Swimming the Echo by Brian L. Tucker

Swimming the Echo

by Brian L. Tucker

Giveaway ends September 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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15th of July

Carpe the Carp.


carpe-diem-1542865

 

I saw a fish on vacation that made me realize it was closest in personality to me. Not an exotic Mahi Mahi. Nope. Not even a treacherous Barracuda. I am closest in disposition to…yes, that’s right: the Caribbean Sea Carp.

Have you seen one of these before?

They are funny looking. And just plain funny.

They like to get out in the sandy parts of the coral reefs and roll around.

My wife and I brought our goggles and snorkeled on Seven Mile Beach at Grand Cayman last week, and I wanted to see “Bigger Fish” than the ones flapping along the shoreline.

So out I went. No life jacket. No flippers even. The water was SUPER clear. And out about 200 yards there were buoys tied off (and weighed down) to the ocean bottom.

There were sea urchins and prickly things everywhere, so I was cautious not to put my feet down anywhere. My goggles allowed me to see everything resting on the bottom.

Whoseits and whatsits galore.

Then, I spotted the big, beastly tumbler that is the beloved Sea Carp.

He blended into the orangish, golden ocean sand quite well. But, his movements gave him away. As I approached him, he rolled and spun over and over again in pure delight. I put my hand out, and he didn’t even try to swim away like the other (smarter) fish. He just kept spinning, reaching into coral, knocking up sand and making the water dusty. I signaled for Leah to join me out there, but the urchins weren’t too inviting without flippers. So, I paddled around out there as long as I had strength and eventually told the thirty-pound bumbler goodbye.

When I got back to the shoreline, I exaggerated the carp’s size to everyone around us, but I knew what I saw. He was quite the spectacle; his aloofness to all those two-legged giants was quite appealing, I thought.

It got me to thinking about humans. Humans. Our purpose. The way we’re made. It made me smile that the Sea Carp resonated so deeply. He just wanted to enjoy the coral, food, and waves; he let them move him around constantly. I thought he had the right idea. Maybe we shouldn’t fight waves all day, everyday? Maybe rolling around and enjoying what’s set before me isn’t so bad? I appreciate God giving all that He has already.

If I’m like any fish, I’d say this fish in the Caribbean is probably the closest match. I hope I can keep the contentment up and the urge to flee my surroundings down.

Happy Hump Day!

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14th of July

New Publication.


LOBSTER MEAT IS SWEET –

brian-tucker-christine-stoddard-lobster-meat-is-sweet

(artwork representing this story by Christine Stoddard, 2015, now on physical display in Washington, DC).

Hey guys & gals! My new story “Lobster Meat is Sweet” is now available for reading on Story Shack Magazine here. Check it out and let me know what you think. Love y’all! Thanks for reading my stories and supporting my insanity. God bless you this week.

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13th of July

Wish I Knew His Name.


caribbean-cruise-1-1396741

 

My wife and I vacationed recently. HAVE I TOLD YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE VACATION? Sorry, I’m not screaming AT you…just TO you out of excitement. Yesterday, we made it back from a 2-week hiatus at the Florida Gulf Coast and then a couple’s cruise.

Now, let me tell you one story that sticks out most clearly in my mind. You’re reading this thinking…I don’t want to hear about the Caribbean, or, Brian’s encounters with sharks, but I promise this is that “other” experience abroad. Just follow along. It goes like this…

We arrived at Port Canaveral on July 4th (mid-afternoon) to check-in at the Radisson. I stand in-line and await my turn. There’s an Asian American man of medium build wrestling with a couple of youngsters (I assume they are his), and he’s sweating profusely. The attendant helps him check-in, and he departs with the anxious Lilliputians in tow.

I check us into the hotel. We rest. We eat Subway. Nothing too glamorous here. (Are you still with me?)

We awake on July 5th, after having slept a restful, fireworks bombarded night. I check us out of the Radisson. We are shuttled to Port Canaveral and our new home, a big ship.

It’s ginormous, my wife says. It’s magnificent, I say. The embarkation goes smoothly. We set sail at 5pmish EST. We dine at 6pm. The ship is like a city. You forget you’re moving, plowing towards Caribbean-filled air at 21 nautical knots.

Then, I spot the same Asian American man wrestling with two elderly folks at the Schooner Bar on deck 4. Where have the two younger rapscallions gone? I wonder. He’s yapping at the two elderly folks, and I know he’s trying to get to dinner just like we are. It’s a big ship, I tell myself again. Plenty of room to not be disturbed. 15 stories. C’mon. Maybe I should just introduce myself and make it less weird? I don’t, but move into the dining hall and feast on salmon.

Day 2–a day at sea.

We lounge on the top deck, my wife and I. I plant my face in a waterfall of cascading agua and threaten to not remove my head until we arrive in Haiti. Leah humors me, says “You’ll drown.”

Again, I see the man with the two young kids sitting across from us on the 11th floor, the sunbathing deck. Here, I also see the two elderly folks with him. At the Solarium bar, I see him order a drink. Still, it’s gone too far for introductions. I chalk it up as “we just happen to travel in the same circles” and laugh it off.

Have you ever wondered how you and someone else could literally travel in the same circles? Even at sea on a boat that’s colossal in size?

Day 3–Labadee, Haiti. We dock. We swim on a beach. The same Asian American man walks in front of our chairs 7-10 times in the course of our 2 hours there. I kid you not!

Day 4–Falmouth, Jamaica. We dock. Leah shops. I shop. We board the boat quickly. Jamaica isn’t a place to linger, unless you have a shore excursion. (I do not see the man, the kids, or the grandparents, I assume are his.)

Day 5–Cozumel, Mexico. We dock. The family leaves the ship right in front of us. We see them in the shops. I spot them walking past Carl’s Jr. (Yes, that’s the same franchise as Hardee’s, but with a different name. And, yes. There’s a random one in Mexico. And, yes again. They do serve the Loaded Omelet Biscuit in Mexico as well.) Leah says innocently, “Where have we seen them before?”

I remain silent. Shocked that this phenomenon has happened and equally so that no one else is noticing it but me. Does God want me to talk to this man or what? Wow!

Then, Day 6–day at sea. We see him, his family. It’s gone too far to strike up a conversation at this point. On a ship with 3,000+ guests there’s no way to fathom how I’d strike up a conversation at this point without seeming touched. It would go something like, “So, I’ve seen you. I know, you’ve seen me. Where are you from?”

And silence would follow. He just wants to enjoy his vacation. I’m enjoying mine, I say to myself. Just let sleeping dogs lie.

Day 7 arrives–sadly. The debarkation. We are one of the few EARLY ones that choose to lug our bags off before the maddening crowd awakes. I spot a trio of dolphins in Port Canaveral. Leah says, “There must be a lot of fish nearby.” I agree. Then, the same man with his family marches past me in the line, and he’s sweating again. The kids are a bit calmer at 6:30am–maybe just grumpy now. The grandparents are stoically staring out at the sea. The soon-forgotten trip is in everyone’s mind.

But, I don’t forget anything yet, because we are suddenly shuttled back to the Radisson parking lot. Leah offers to drive, and we take a different road northwest towards Chattanooga. This one offers countless toll roads. We stop 5+ times and shell out the extravagant payments that keep Florida highways looking so pristine. We try to make it around Disney, Orlando, the mice infestation. We succeed. And, when we’ve finally struck highways with numbers we recognize, Leah exhales and decides to stop at a Dunkin Donuts. When we exit, I run to the restroom like one of those mad children from earlier. Leah follows behind me. The ladies room is unoccupied. We recognize a sign on the men’s room which reads “Please knock before entering…Door doesn’t lock!” She laughs at me and ducks into the women’s room. I hesitantly knock on the door, where the wood is off-colored, because so many other fists have knocked before. I wait. No answer. I call out, “Anybody in there?” Nothing. So, I throw open the door and…

Who do you think should be squatting there?

Yep. You guessed it! The same man from our previous jaunt across the southwestern Caribbean. The same man of 9 days previously! The two wild children were in the lobby with the grandparents, I guessed. It was just he and I. I said, “Oh, I’m ssss-so–ssorry!” and slammed the door shut on his bewildered face.

He mumbled, “Aaaaghhh!” and tried to block his face from view. I shut the door so quickly, his face hadn’t registered with me yet. I was too focused on the embarrassment from seeing another grown man indisposed. But, the seconds ticked by as the door remained closed. I heard a flush. I thought about the previous 9 days.

“No way?!” I mutter under my breath, stifling a laugh.

A lady behind me says, “Don’t you just wish you could just clear those images from your head?”

She was really funny. We both cracked up, but I tried to keep my voice down, because he was literally on the other side of the door. My doppelganger of sorts. We traveled the exact same circles and now we were in a random Dunkin bathroom in southern Georgia at 10am or so after all of our time together…and I still didn’t know his name.

He exited and laughed nervously with us.

I said, “I’m sorry about that.”

He waves it off with a smile, says, “The sign clearly reads that the lock doesn’t work. It’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault,” and he laughs again.

I think I should say, “Hey. I know you from somewhere,” but I know it’ll open a can of awkward worms. Over a week’s worth.

He doesn’t admit our connection either, but marches to the front, orders, and collects his family.

What if we lived in the same exact city and didn’t know it? Pretty odd, huh? How many people have the same circles and just don’t know it? Maybe it takes a 9-day voyage to realize it? I still don’t know his or his family’s name. But, I imagine they live right here in southeastern TN alongside me.

We made it back to our apartment last night, and I still have an odd mix of vertigo and disorientation going on inside my head. The realization that this man and I were so similar is unnerving. He’s out there, and he’s busy. I can only imagine that if we ever have children, and we go on another trip like this, and my folks come with us, I’ll be sweating and running around exactly like he was.

I just hope I’m not trying to use a Dunkin Donuts’ bathroom without a lock and laughing off the intruders as they enter my brief bit of solitude.

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28th of June

What God says about What we Can Handle.


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Question:

===============
Will God give us more than we can handle?

===============
Truthfully…
===============
One of the most misunderstood attributes of God is that He wants us to live life care-free. (So much for my Ferris Bueller quest, I guess. ChickaChick-oww.)

===============
3 examples of people being overwhelmed–

1.) Moses
===============
Exodus 4:10-13 (ESV)
—————
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

2.) David
===============
Psalm 38:4-8 (ESV)
—————
For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

3.) Jesus
===============
Mark 14:32-36 (ESV)
—————
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.
And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”
And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

In other words…
===============
God consistently gives overwhelming burdens to those whom He loves.

What does it really mean?
===============
1 Corinthians 10:1-14 (ESV)
—————
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
and all ate the same spiritual food,
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

In other words…
===============
Followers of Jesus do not have to question whether God is real. BUT…Followers of Jesus will be given more than they can handle…consistently.

Why does God give you more than you can handle?
===============
To strengthen our faith and make you whole.

To be whole.
===============
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
—————
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Why does God give you more than you can handle?

3 REASONS
===============
To encourage us to move
===============
To teach us to depend on a strength other than our own.
===============
To experience His power.

Call on Him…
===============
Psalm 145:18 (ESV)
—————
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Truthfully…
===============
God is more interested in our faithfulness than our comfort.

Truthfully…
===============
God is more interested in us demonstrating His glory than trying to pretend like everything is ok.

Bottom Line…
===============
Will God give us more than we can handle? Most definitely!
And once we realize why, we will be forever grateful.

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22nd of June

One-Year Anniversary of “Baptisms & Dogs: Stories”!!


bt

It’s been a year since its debut! The story collection I never imagined would see daylight..let alone printing presses. (It went to WASHINGTON, DC, at one point, Thanks to Matt Smith and the Marine Barracks, and their private library there. I never imagined real heroes would be reading it. EVER!) It’s been a crazy process, and I admit it’s been a BIG learning curve. From where to submit stories to what types of writing conferences to attend, I’ve learned A TON. And, I still feel like a novice. 🙂

Thanks to Leah for remaining patient with my trips to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and coffee shops around Chattanooga. I’ve tried to motivate her with, “Hey, one of the future novels will take place in the fictional town of Seton, Kentucky.” I’m not sure she’s convinced, but if you see her, tell her to give it a chance in 2015, 2016, 2017, etc. How ever long it takes, I guess. (*insert nervous laughter*)

Thanks to Leah, Nathan Davis, and Lindsey Frantz for taking a look at this new idea. It consumed a good chunk of 2014-2015, and it’s still undergoing changes, but I’m optimistic to do something with it before the year’s end. While my tentative title isn’t nearly as clever as Russell Helm’s Sprinkle Cheese (to be released later this fall as The Ground Catches Everything), I still hope you consider reading my work, Beef Jerky for All, when it’s published.

Similarly, the 2015-2016 (and newest) project is underway and gaining some steam. It doesn’t have a witty title yet. (It’s the Seton, KY revisiting…and I hope to complete its first draft this summer. We can all make Christmas wish lists, right?)

I write all of this to say, Thank you again for the support–lovely readers. Readers of this blog. Readers of anything I’ve sat down to try and muster up the courage to complete. Prayers appreciated for the journey ahead. It’s exciting and daunting all at once. Like a deep dish, meat lover’s pizza from La Rosa’s. It’s beautiful and scary all at once. You have to dig in and burn the roof of your mouth. Because you know…it’s worth it.

 

God bless you this week!

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17th of June

Insert Foot into Mouth.


GNSTPost3-763x362

 

My church’s most recent series covered the topic of–

“When we place words in God’s mouth…”

Pretty scary concept, huh?

 

Our pastor, Mark Love, went on to point out that we are “all in danger of letting our ability to reason overshadow God’s wisdom.”

Unnerved yet?

 

The topic of true wisdom is just getting started.
===============
1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV) states, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Then, Mark asked a question I’ve wondered a million times and tried to force myself into an answer that is contrary to scripture: “Does God want us to be happy?” He states it better than I can, in our church’s blog.
===============
I mean, our forefathers wrote this (below) into our country’s beginning so it has to be true right? Our end goal = our happiness?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

But truthfully…what if it looked more like this?
===============
–> God doesn’t just want you to be happy, he wants much more for you.

 

Mayo Clinic’s Study on Happiness (It took a Mayo Clinic to tell us this?)
===============
1. To be focused on the right things, the right thoughts. 2. To be resilient to life’s curve balls – creating healthy boundaries. 3. Biggest hindrance to happiness – Thinking too much about yourself. (NO WAY!! Not in our country, right? How could that be possible? The land of Instagram.) 4. Happiness is a decision.

Bigger question: Why does the pursuit of happiness fail every time? (#3 in study above)
===============
[We believe that if it makes us happy, it must be good. If it makes us unhappy, it must be bad. If something doesn’t make us feel good, it must not be what God wants.]

What if? (Bear with the notes here…)

 

What if the enemy is at work in the world (our day-to-day lives) tarnishing our ideas of what happiness is?

(BINGO! At no point in history has the notion of happiness-as-a-right dictated the citizen like it does in 2015.)

But truthfully, God doesn’t want us happy when…1.) it is due to something that is unhealthy, unwise, or wrong in His eyes, 2.) it is only based on what the world has to offer instead of what He created us for.

In essence, we are worshiping the creature instead of Creator.
===============
Romans 1:22-25 (ESV) sums up this predicament from erroneous human behavior prior to our 2015 pitfalls.
—————
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Don’t love the things of this world. (This one is tough for me.)
===============
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
—————
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Synopsis: The Godly are Happy.
===============
Psalms 97:12 (NLT)
—————
May all who are godly rejoice in the lord and praise his holy name!
God wants you to be blessed.
===============
blessed: makarios (mak-ar’-ee-os); supremely blessed, more than happy.

 

Blessed… (9 examples from Jesus himself)
===============
Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)
—————
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
===============

And quite possibly the most difficult to adhere to but the most all-encompassing…

James 1:2-4 (ESV)
—————
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

Max Lucado said…
===============
You weren’t made for earth. Moments of happiness and joy cannot compare to what’s ahead. Lower your expectations of earth. Not heaven. No new car, new wife, new baby, new boat will give you the joy your heart craves.

 

Put simply, again, The Godly are Happy. They don’t need to be manipulated or goaded by Instagram (sorry for the app-bashing). 🙂
===============
Psalm 97:12 (ESV)
—————
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

 

Enjoy Wednesday and Thank God for the wisdom and peace this offers!

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10th of June

Permanency.


The world changes minute-by-minute. Man-made advancements and technological marvels rise. The earth itself is always subjected to freeways, turnpikes, & sludge. Here’s a little comfort in knowing nature’s resiliency through it all–

 

river

 

“Men may dam it and say that they have made a lake but it will

still

be a river.

It will keep its nature and bide its time,

like a caged animal alert for the slightest opening.

In time,

it will have its way;

the dam, like the ancient cliffs,

will be carried away…

piecemeal…

in the currents.”

 

–Wendell Berry

 

(Beautiful imagery for your Wednesday from the greatest poet living today!)

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8th of June

FUN things to do on your anniversary!


 

Here are ‘7 Things’ I thank God my wife and I were able to do last weekend for our 7-year anniversary:

 

1.) Ride a Segway like a boss in Franklin, TN. (As opposed to riding a segway like this.)

IMG_06561gg

 

2.) See Leah sit in the biggest chair East of the Mississippi

20150606_111950

 

3.) Go to a concert featuring bands neither of us had ever heard of (really)…

20150606_214256bl

 

4.) Find a Wingstop in a random shopping center in Nashville TN.

o(W-I-N-G-S-T-O-P is the best!!)

 

5.) Work out TOGETHER after 1.5 days of non-stop travel.

m

 

6.) Celebrate with dinner together in Chattanooga!

lllll

 

7.) Take a walk after dinner (and ask a stranger to snap your picture). Yes. A picture together. Imagine that. A brief reprieve from the never-ending single person poses that we do as couples. 🙂 The gentleman who snapped ours was kind enough to ask “Portrait or landscape?”

b

 

7 FUN things to-do on your anniversary! (Franklin -> Nashville -> Chattanooga)

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29th of May

6 Questions to Ask When Making a Bucket List.


big-drink

The Bucket. Kicking the Bucket. Passing on. Reaching heaven.

Where do you see your life going in the next few minutes, hours, weeks, years? Do you have a vision of some sort? Is God directing you to a path?

The Bucket List is something many have thought long and hard about since that cheeky 2000s movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. But, people thought about it long before that movie as well. They’ve thought about it for thousands of years. Believe it or not.

The 5 Big questions to consider when making this list of yours: Who? Where? What? When? Why?

  • Who do you hope to be during the course of your days on Earth?
  • Where do you see your actions, words, etc., taking you?
  • What are you doing to make this life the best it can be?
  • When do you see yourself standing up for the life God wants for you?
  • Why would you alter your current course at all?

 

These are tough, whether you’re building a Bucket List or not. But, what if we treated everything in our day-to-day lives with a Bucket List mentality? God supreme. Our breath a gift. Where would our map point us?

See, the who, where, what, when, and why give us a full range of questions to help keep our focus on the present. On the progress of each day. Then, if we throw in 1 more question (the How?), we will rarely miss our mark. Because, the How? is self-explanatory. How will we stay on course? – God. (If we answer the How? any other way, it leads us astray.)

So, to go back to the Big 5 (+1 How?) we now have the logic needed to build the best Bucket List ever!

How would you build yours now knowing the purpose behind a life-long Bucket List?

The Brian Tucker Bucket List

Honor God (and never quit), Become a better husband, truly grateful, Fish for marlin in the Gulf Stream, Write a novel that changes someone’s life, Become a better listener, Go to a “good” concert each and every year, Tithe with a grateful heart, Ride a bull (and/or) run with the bulls, Have a conversation with Charles Portis, Harness my pride and take bold, God-approved stances on issues in our world that would exemplify Christ, Store up treasures in Heaven not Earth, Visit a new continent every 5 years, Be still at least 1 time every day, Play Contra on a drive-in movie theater, Move to Kentucky, have a son, and name him Ken Tucker (safe to say Leah won’t ever stand for that one, I’ve tried), and Travel through the Panama Canal from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean.

Think about yours. Share it as you build it. Write me back.

Here’s a great one I found online

Screen-Shot-2012-06-17-at-6-17-12-11.08

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28th of May

Farm-Living.


palomino

Have I told you about how I grew up on a farm?

(Some of you just read that and probably thought: O boy. Here we go.)

Most of my times were enjoyable on the farm.

A lot of heavy lifting. Baling hay. Etc.

But, the item that stands out most solidly was something that started as a love of mine and became (ever-so-gradually) a fear, then full-blown hatred about farm life.

It was…my horse.

That’s right.

Backstory: I had had the best pony you could imagine. He was part-human, I swear. Like a big, loyal puppy dog. He followed me everywhere. Going on trail rides with my family was a treat. (I even asked if he could come in the house once or twice.)

Then, 2 things happened:

1.) I grew about 1-foot one summer, gained 50 pounds

2.) My mom said I needed a ‘horse’

So, the hunt started and stopped at an auction in central Kentucky.  We found a palomino! (I’d always wanted one of those.)

I wish I could say the story got better.

Ryker’s Brand Gold dust (her official name) became Gold dust and then Babydoll, because me and my brother thought it sounded better.

She was deathly thin when we bought her. Her next stop probably would’ve been the glue factory had we not stepped in.

She gained weight. We fed her non-stop. Then, I started training her. She gained a little life from the food and training. You could see it in her eyes. I was excited to try this new ride, even though I missed my always faithful pony, Arrow.

Babydoll was beautiful. (Just like the color of gold dust when she was let out into our fields to graze, to take in sunshine, and to mingle with the herd.)

Then, I asked the question, “Since she’s trained, could we take her on the next trail ride?”

We did.

She jumped into the horse trailer, no problem. She unloaded no problem. She rode the trail (at first) no problem.

Then, some proverbial dam bust somewhere in her head.

The happy, content, fat, gold-coated Babydoll went haywire. She refused to cross small watering holes. Started biting other horses. And at one point, she turned and ran through dense trees and brush piles. But, it was obvious she wasn’t just going crazy…she was MEAN. Babydoll tried her hardest to knock me off with branches, tree trunks, and debris. (It was the largest beating I’ve ever sustained on a horse to this day.)

Fast forward to the evening, and I was devastated. We let her graze with the rest, and we left it at that. The next day, my brother and I were going out to fill the water troughs, and Babydoll perked up her ears. Neither Jared nor I thought much of it, because most of the herd loved to check out the water tanks.

But, she did a bit more. She lowered her head and lunged at us. Jared was faster and scaled a fence and looked back. He saw me getting rammed by the rock-like head of the horse. Luckily it knocked me sideways in my run, and I didn’t take the brunt of her force. I recovered and sprinted to another gate and hopped over just as she smacked that gate with her head.

She had become a demon (almost overnight).

Then, we talked about it as a family. We thought she’d come out of it. But, deep down I felt otherwise.

Over the next 2 years, we watched her give birth to foals. Then, we watched her kick at them non-stop and refuse to let them nurse. Luckily, we had other mares to let Babydoll’s offspring choose from.

The trail rides became worse and worse. She kept trying to do the “fling off” method. Rather than enjoy the trips, I just spent most of my weekends whipping her and trying not to die.

2 things happened:

1.) I became great at dodging disasters/death every Sunday

2.) Babydoll took on a constant Hulk-like persona among the other horses.

My family agreed that my sole job was to keep Babydoll from killing the others in the herd. Talk about great riding motivation. But, I did.

Babydoll was hateful, and I missed Arrow, the pony. It was night and day between the two animals’ personalities. Maybe it’s what caused me to steer away from farm life. Either way, I know that Babydoll is somewhere today wreaking havoc upon some other poor soul.

Arrow at 20-something years of age is still offering rides and helping to train the future riders of America! (You should visit him at a stable in Monticello, KY.)

To you Arrow, I say, “Thank you for the many miles, compadre!”

To Babydoll, “No one liked you when you were angry.” (Hulk reference)

 

Throwback Thursday!

 

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