Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hay is for Horses

As I was going through my latest group of downloaded pictures, I realized that I haven't introduced you to Horse Haven's newest arrivals. Even now, I don't have all of the new horses pictures because some came this past week.

So here we go. Meet Sugar the ex-pony ride...pony. At her first Adoption Day (our equivalent of an open house), she gave pony rides to any kids who stopped by:

Meet Dancer, a gorgeous but pushy gelding (on the left), and Poppy, a sweet little 3 year old mare (on the right). That's One-Eyed Jack in the middle; he's not new, but I know he would want to be mentioned anyway:

Meet Ace, a good young guy who was returned to HHT because his owner fell on hard times:

Meet Spirit, not to be punny but she's a spirited little pony, who loves to take off once you let her out in the pasture:

Meet Prancer, an incredibly shy but loving Paso Fino mare. She'll be even more beautiful once she gains some weight:I love horses. I love them so much that I don't really mind taking care of them in the pouring rain, sloshing through inches of mud-poo mixture, and getting hay down my shirt...all with a cold. They truly are gifts from God.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just What I Needed

'Nuff said:

"In this is love...that God loved us and sent His Son as a propitiation for our sins." -1 John 4:10

Saintly words: "God's love for us has no equal. It infinitely surpasses the love nature has imprinted in the hearts of parents. We can be certain that whatever such a Father sends us is for our good." -St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Talking with God: Loving Father, let me believe firmly in Your love for me despite all the trials that may come my way. Help me to cling to the thought that You want only what is best for my eternal welfare.

Amen brother, amen.

Free Time

Thus far I have enjoyed college life. I've only had two exams, and I passed both with flying colors. Work, studying, class, and church have kept me busy, so that abundant "free time" that everyone told me about is basically non-existent. Funny that I should say that though, because here I am blogging and being on Facebook at the same time that I should be writing my geology notes and doing the assigned reading for English class.

Okay, so I do have free time. I choose to make it...budget it in...whatever you would like to call it.
I'm sharing some snippets of what I do with free time. Why you ask? Well, I just want to that's why, and of course I know that I have other things that I should be doing!

The video is of my best friend and me playing with the different voice options on her webcam. It is really ridiculous. You probably won't be able to understand anything that we say because the audio isn't the best, but facial expressions are worth a thousand words. The pictures are self explanatory; I was extremely bored and clicked on the webcam.

(Trying to figure out the online football ticket system.)
(My roommate just made Ramen noodles, and they smelled a little funny.)

And hey, if you think all the above is ridiculous, just think...I could be doing drugs, stealing, NOT holding doors open for others, and NOT helping little old ladies cross the street.

One good thing that I have noticed lately is that I pray more. When I wake up, before bed, before most meals (if I remember), Compline, and random moments in between it all. I feel good and at peace more often because of it. I'm sure God is happy with this addition to my free time activities.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Sampling of What Is to Come

I don't have much time to write because I've got an exam to study for, but I do want to share this with you...

"Look at the rainbow and praise its Maker; it glows with a surpassing beauty." -Sirach 43:11

"Whenever our eyes feast on a spectacular scene--such as a magnificent landscape, or a splendid sunset, or a beautiful star-studded sky--let us realize that it is only a pale reflection of the Divine Beauty. Let us then bless the Lord as being the sole source of all good." -St. Theresa of Avila

Often I find myself praising God for a rainbow, the sunset, my cat, the sound of a galloping horse, the mountains, or a clear night sky. I love being outside. Even a pile of leaves or a puddle reminds me of the magnificence of creation. Why, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe that is one of my gifts-being able to find God's presence in inanimate objects and living creatures.

St. Theresa said it well. If these earthly things are just a pale reflection, a small sample of the beauty to come...of the beauty that awaits us, I can't even begin to imagine what is in store!

Friday, September 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes

So after seeing the "7 Quick Takes" post on two of my favorite blogs, I thought I would start trying to do it as well. Here goes...

1) I have known about the band Old Crow Medicine Show, but I went absolutely crazy when I heard "Wagon Wheel" the other day. I'm pretty sure that they are one of my new favorite bands...ever. The song came on one of my mixed CDs. It's awesome. The video is sort of strange.

2) My Spanish professor said for being a 211 student, my writing skills are rather good. You might not find that particularly interesting, but believe you me I was really happy when she told me that.

3) I learned the score of my first college exam on Monday....a 96! Woot! It was in Geology 101 which is one of my favorite classes thus far.

4) I was able to sleep in Thursday, seeing as that is usually my only day to do so during the week. While I was not late to my 12:40 class, I almost was. It was a hurried dash from the University Center (I forgot my backpack) to my dorm, then a power walk to class. A good thing from that day was that the guy I've been sitting next to for 2 weeks finally had a conversation with me. Oh and I didn't have to go to English.

5) I was finally suckered by my friends to get Skype. I'm glad they bothered me constantly to because I've been able to see and talk to them without having to drive at least 2 hours. I really like Skype!

6) Survivor started Thursday night. It's been one of my long time favorite shows. Reality television, I know, but I can't help it.

7) My friend Katie Ann, her roommate Andi Marie, and I had a henna party Thursday. It was awesome. I love henna tattoos. I'm currently sporting three sweet designs. I now have an henna! (If feet bother you, then don't look below...)

It seems that a lot happened Thursday. Come to think of it, it was a pretty packed day. Anyway, hope you have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

I recently came to love this hymn. A short while ago we sang it during Compline (evening prayer) at the Episcopal-Lutheran residence. It was one of the most beautiful prayer services that I've been a part of. There were only around 10 of us and a few of them are music majors so they sing like I wish I could. Add the piano, and wow, what a great way to praise the Lord.

Then a few days later, my friend and I made some mixed CDs and Sufjan Stevens' version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" was on the first CD. I love it so much that I want to share it with you, even though I bet most of you have heard it at some point in your lives. I can't fully describe what it is about this hymn that makes me love it so much. Maybe it is because it speaks what I feel in my heart.

Here are the lyrics:

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy unchanging love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

UT Football

Yesterday I went to the UT vs. UCLA game. It was my second UT game ever, and the first as a college student. I loved it!

I've never seen so much orange in my life. It was one of my high school colors, and now it's back in full force in college. I had to go to the barn before the game, and when I drove back, it took me at least 30 minutes to get to my dorm which is usually a 15 minute drive! Luckily there were some kind souls who blocked off my parking garage and only let students with legit parking tags in. I met up with my friend Katie Ann, and we went off in search of free food but ended up eating on the strip. Then we ventured to a tailgating spot where some friends of mine would be, and it was a pleasant surprise to find the Bishop of Knoxville sitting there!

As Katie Ann and I made our way around the stadium to Gate 4, a really big golf cart was attempting to drive through the throng of people. I looked to see what privileged person that could be, and holy crap it was Bruce Pearl! He's the greatest thing that has happened to UT's men's basketball program. I told Katie, "It's Bruce!" She didn't look right away, and then all of a sudden everyone else around us realized that Bruce Pearl was right there. Everyone started clapping and hooraying and yelling "Bruce! Bruce! Brrrrrrruuuuuuuuuce!" It was extremely exciting to be 3 feet away from him.

We made it to our seats in record time it felt like. Actually I sat with Katie in section F instead of section FF where I was supposed to be. Nose bleeds seats weren't my first choice but that was what I was assigned, so I cheated and went with her. The clouds were out, so that was nice. The Pride of the Southland band formed the famous Power T, then split up to form that tunnel of people for the football players to run through. It was incredibly loud when the team ran out! Tennessee fans mean business my friends. Don't mess with them.

Kick-off was less than stellar because of well, the kick. Then the sun came out for awhile which made it infinitely hotter. I didn't feel too bad because everyone else around me was sweating buckets too. Then those two funny guys that sat in front of us got really excited. They were very inebriated, but that made the game more fun for us. At one point, we scored a touch down, and the funny guys started giving everyone around them high-fives. The one guy almost fell over he was so enthusiastic.

My favorite part of the whole experience was when the band and the crowd joined together to sing that famous chorus from "Rocky Top." It never got old to sing it, and I can't even begin to count how many times we sang it. It was also amazing how a few players down on the field could incite an entire stadium to roar and clap and carry-on. I love the UT football atmosphere: the orange, Rocky Top, roasting in the sun, sitting practically on top of your smelly neighbors, and being dog-tired while walking back home (to the dorm, not 26 miles away!).

I felt pretty witty and creative after the game, so here's my facebook status:
"Ashley Siferd is tired. Today was a long day. I love the UT football atmosphere, but the game was not to my liking. I might attempt to TACKLE my laundry and INTERCEPT the growing pile before I have TO THROW IT AWAY before I get SACKED by a bunch of shirts."

Even though UT lost, I still had fun. Football is my favorite sport to watch, and especially now that I'm an actual UT Volunteer. Go VOLS!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Knock Knock...

I pose to you, readers, the biggest question of all time. At least, to me anyway...

Does God laugh at knock knock jokes? Do you think He finds them funny?

I do. Maybe it's because I find most every joke funny, even the really lame ones. I feel that if you give it your best effort, you deserve a little laugh. So...

-Knock knock.

-Who's there?


-Dishes who?

wait for it, wait for it...

-Dishes one bad joke.

Haha! Get it? I love it. This is what I am doing with time that should be spent writing an English paper and a Spanish composition...blogging, telling knock knock jokes, and listening to the same mixed CD over and over again.

I also realized that I have not shown you the updated dorm room pictures. So here they are, posters, Marvel heroes calendar, family/friend photos, and all. I'm still holding out for some really awesome posters to go over my bed, but I'll just have to live with white space until my birthday in November. I think I can make it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

That's Some Spider!

I came home on Saturday to find my family outside working on various projects. I heaved an inward sigh of relief because that meant I didn't have a job to do! I was also happy to have made it out of Knoxville alive. If you don't know, it's football time in Tennessee. Oh wait...


There. That is how it's actually said. When people say that phrase, it is said in all capital letters. I like to watch football, don't get me wrong. It's just that I felt like a pariah when I told people that I was in fact not going to UT's opener against Western Kentucky...because I had to work. I'm glad I did not go (even though I had no choice really) because UT slaughtered WKU 63-7. I like to watch football, not a massacre. Maybe it's just because I'm a softy, but I would think that maybe after 30 points, you could be a little nicer. Don't tell my fellow UT students that I said that!

I digress. When I finished bringing all of my stuff in from the car, my sister proceeded to excitedly tell me about the spider! The spider! The spider! Kayla shouted, "Let me show you it!" I replied with an absolute no. I can't stand the sight of them. My skin crawls when I see one of those tiny little demons. As Kayla tried to drag me out front, I planted my feet firmly to the ground. Then my mom interjected and said that we had a resident writing spider. A big one. Curiosity got the best of me. I've always been fascinated by them (and writing spiders only).

It is MASSIVE. I got the heebie jeebies just looking at it from a few feet away. The way she was facing was bad for trying to take pictures, but I sure as heck wasn't crawling behind bushes to get a better shot! I don't think she is officially finished with her web because I've seen writing spider webs with a lot more detail. Nevertheless it was a sight to see.

As grotesque and horrifying as it was for me to be that close to a spider that big (and to resist the urge to find a shoe...), I can't help but marvel at the beauty of creation. Each little bug and every human and each piece of rock has value. Life is ever-present. Rocks you say? Yes, I say. I try to find God in in point, the writing spider, which is no easy feat for me folks.

So if I can find the beauty of God in a spider and her web, would it be so hard for me to find it in another person? Well, yes and no. Yes because, for me, it is relatively easy to find God in those you love, especially family and friends. No because it is hard sometimes to be able to get past boundary markers: that yuppie guy, that punk rocker chick, that homeless man, that nerdy girl, etc. It isn't impossible though. Jesus was able to dine with sinners and tax collectors. In fact, He chose to do so. It all rests with our decision making.

If we choose to find God in all things, I think our world would be a nicer place to live. Sometimes it isn't that easy to find God in certain situations and/or people, but that's okay. It's normal. If life and the decisions we have to make were easy, I think we should be a little scared.

That's some spider. Look at what a tiny little thing inspired!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh Happy Days...

Have you ever had one of those days when you're walking along, and BAM! all of a sudden you find yourself inexplicably happy? Well, I had one of those days today. I am pretty sure that it had to do with God mostly because I was thinking about Him. Okay, of COURSE it had to with God! :)

More specifically it was because I found out that He was working through me, and I didn't even realize it! I was asked to say a little something about being accepted and rejected in life during the prayer services at the junior high and high school youth groups this past Sunday. It was mostly "fly by the seat of my pants" only because I had one day to prepare a short talk. However, I find those to be the best talks sometimes. Anyway, we were pressed for time so I offered to skip my talk at the high school prayer service, but I was told not to and to please not leave out a certain part! I wondered why...

Well of course there was a reason. I found that out today. My story helped someone in the group who was struggling with the very same thing that I went through (and still go through). It made me feel incredibly awesome and happy inside that I was able to help someone...all with God's help and insistence of course.

Other events in the universe conspired to make my happy day even happier. My English professor let us out 25 minutes early. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I was walking through one of my favorite spots in the courtyard outside my dorm when the wave of happiness hit. I only had to work an hour and half today (and I'm off the next two days!). I had a really good lunch and dinner. My geography project is coming along nicely.

Thanks God. You rock my socks off.