The Barrel Race

A few weeks ago, we had to put down my 35-year-old quarter horse. He was one of my best friends, and when I was a teen we spent countless hours together. Barrel racing was one of our favorite things to do, and I wrote this poem in attempt to capture the inexplicable feeling of tearing around the barrels.

And We Fly

In Memory of Caleb's Jack Bar

Muscles tense and bunch beneath me,
dancing but not releasing.
Such a tiny being should not hold command
over so much power,
but the absurdly small bar of metal pressing against his tongue
and a great respect for the partner on his back
keep him waiting for the right moment.
The gate opens,
and though the reins remain tight,
he senses an almost imperceptible release
and shoots into the arena - at a mere trot.
"Control," wills the rider,
nearly jittering out of the saddle herself.
But then we're charging at the first barrel,
slowing to just this side of reckless to make the turn,
then suddenly the next one is in front of us, behind us,
a slightly longer stretch, and the final barrel. Turn.
Nothing before us but open sand.
His stride opens up,
and we fly.

Photos by Teresa (mom) and Paul (husband).


Going Back Cold {Christian Sci-Fi Book Review}

Physicist Dr. Jane Whyse and her husband have just arrived at a remote Antarctic base when they discover an unexpected blessing—Jane is pregnant with their second child. As Project Split Horizon builds the piezoelectric jet she designed, Jane gets closer to achieving faster-than-light travel, with the potential to radically change the course of NASA’s future plans. But after eight months of anticipation, the Whyses are devastated when their daughter is stillborn.

Torn between faith and hopelessness, Jane begins an ugly struggle to understand God’s plan for her life in the midst of a mother’s mourning. The lifeless Antarctic landscape seems only to emphasize the emptiness within her. Despite success in her scientific research and a world-changing technological leap forward, Jane continues to grieve. What healing can faith offer against hopelessness? Does the Author of Creation truly understand the suffering of His children? As she tries to find restoration through years of searching, Jane explores a critical horizon where her scientific breakthrough meets God’s sovereignty over space and time.

Book Review

This gripping, near-future sci-fi kept my attention from beginning to end, plunging me into life at an Antarctic research station and all of the highs and lows that can occur even in the midst of a monotonous landscape. Waller infused each character with their own personality and backstory to create a team of people that felt very real. In fact, by the end they seemed almost like a large family, with a few distant relatives on the fringes who came and went.

Although Dr. Jane Whyse is the protagonist, we also get the perspectives of other characters, and sometimes Jane’s actions are a mystery to her husband and teammates as well as to the reader, keeping us guessing at her thoughts and motives.

Going Back Cold covers some tough topics, and I think Waller handled them well. We may not share the same ideologies 100 percent, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story nonetheless. Additionally, some discussions toed the line of being preachy but instead were well-written. I found myself pleasantly surprised by some of these interactions. However, there were one or two awkward conflicts that left me wondering what happened to escalate things so quickly, what triggered this or that character to blow up over something trivial.

Despite the heartbreaking theme, the story is dotted with pockets of humor, and I often found myself laughing out loud at banter, antics, and references to hobbits in space.

4/5 leaves

About the Author: Kelley Rose Waller

Kelley writes fiction to imagine new life experiences. Her debut novel, The Senator's Youngest Daughter, was released in 2016. Kelley's day job as a marketing strategist offers her the opportunity to write and plan for clients in diverse fields. Kelley and her husband are Pennsylvania foster parents. Kelley lives and writes to uplift and glorify the name of Jesus Christ. Kelley is a ridiculous fan of science fiction and board games. She has a B.A. in English and lives in Lancaster, PA, with her husband, three sons, and their dog.

Going Back Cold will release on October 1, or you can preorder an ebook now!

Thanks to Kelley Rose Waller for providing a free ebook in exchange for an honest review!


Busy Morning {a poem}

As summer comes to a close, let's take a step back to the beginning of the season and fully savor this warm weather before it gives way to autumn.

A wren stands on the stone sidewalk,
legs extended to peck at the seeds of a dandelion
in the yard; white dots fan out around it.

Having bared the once-fuzzy head,
it hops onto the dewy grass - then startles back -
and tilts its head to eye more dandelions
towering just out of reach
before resuming its previous position to glean.

Another small brown bird joins the first,
this one rounder - perhaps they had been
calling to each other - chirping and trilling abounds
this busy morning.

It, too, eyes the taller stalks,
hopping bravely into the wet grass,
an then cleverly springs onto a long stem,
bending the laden head to the ground
where the round wren can easily gather breakfast
while the first, having truly bared its own flower by now,
hops off to investigate the mulched beds nearby.

Two catbirds swoop by in a blur;
a blue jay observes from its perch on a fence post.


Symphony of the Woods

The woods at first seem silent,
but listen:
The trees whisper and chatter
with the prodding of the wind,
and birds in the distance - and then closer - sing,
each with its own thread of song;
a branch creaks, an acorn falls,
the brook down the hill trills a percussive tune.
With eyes closed, observe
the symphony of the woods.


Ecofiction Roundup no. 1: Flight

Hello, friends, it's been a while! While I was living in Peru for six months, I let this dear blog fall by the wayside. Again. I have since started up a new blog, Enough, and the following is cross-posted there. But never fear! I plan to continue publishing bookish things and poetry here.


Recently, I discovered the genre of "ecofiction," and I've been wanting to shout the titles I've read from the rooftops, because they are simultaneously terrifying and inspiring. Ecofiction ranges from contemporary fiction to sci-fi but with environmental or nature-oriented themes. Although the name may sound new, the idea is not - if you've read anything by Barbara Kingsolver, you've read ecofiction.

As I began compiling titles for this Ecofiction Roundup, I began to notice a theme: flight. Whether they're attached to bees or dragons, these books all have wings.

Flight Behavior | Barbara Kingsolver

One of Kingsolver's many excellent novels, this book contains themes of relationships, conservation, nature, science, rural communities, and church. Nothing has an easy answer, and no one is perfect - life is complex and messy. Everyone has a story. Everything is connected.

The Crows of Beara | Julie Christine Johnson

This contemporary novel contains beautiful Irish landscapes, refreshingly believable characters, and a poetic story. It is a narrative of both people and place, and I love the relationships, the struggles, and the openness to the voice of the land.

The History of Bees | Maja Lunde

Three very different stories, ranging from historical fiction to dystopia, weave together beautifully by the end in barely more than subtle ways. The suggested possibilities are horrifyingly realistic, and yet hope has a place as well. This is a beautiful tale of bees, family, and humanity.

The Dragon Quartet | Marjorie B. Kellogg

This fantasy/sci-fi crossover is both entertaining and relevant. It has compelling characters, interesting cultures and landscapes, a brilliant weaving together of times and places, and settings eerily parallel to our own. And dragons, of course!

Where to Buy

Interested in reading any (or all!) of these wonderful books? Here are a few suggestions of where to find them:

1. The library
2. A local bookstore
3. A big box bookstore (think Barnes & Noble)

Like this post?
Read more about sustainable and ethical living on my new blog, Enough!