Category Archives: Blog-1

Stomping Grounds

I’m getting older. I used to believe that the connective tissue between the young me and the current me grew thinner with every year; the older I got, the more sure I was that the young me, and youth in general, did not have a lot to say to the older me.

I’m glad I’ve trashed that notion.

A girl named Becca Lou helped me trash it. So have Evan and Gray and Riley, and Ryan and Brooke, and Shaina and Phil, and Nikki; so have Darren and Nolan, and Daniel and the other Nikki–these young people I know whose lives stretch out before them like sun-skimmed water, an endless ocean heading for God, and, thrillingly, for God knows where; these guys help me revisit old stomping grounds. Through them, I realize that I used to

• Believe a little more deeply.
• Trust a little more quickly.
• Have a little more compassion.
• Have a little more fun.
• Throw a little more caution to the wind.

I think us older folk are sometimes afraid to look back on the hopes and the dreams we had in our younger days, maybe because we’re afraid to acknowledge that some of them didn’t pan out.

But take another look at my list. Something leapt on my own second pass, and here it is: not once, when I wrote that list from the hip, did I mention concretes. I did not list that maybe I imagined myself living in a log cabin on a lake by this time, or that I drove a certain car, or had a certain job. My gut wrote the list, not my intellect.

When I connect with the young people in my life, I am freshened to the stomping grounds that mattered most. I connect not with absolutes, but with spirit. I feel not a desire to “do it all over again, and this time do it right”, but to think on something else entirely.

These young folk have their twenties, thirties, and forties ahead. My fifties, sixties, and seventies stretch out before me. When I stay in touch with the young people in my life, and with the old stomping grounds they invoke, this is how I see the years ahead: sun-skimmed, and oceanic, and heading for God, and, thrillingly, for God knows where.

Goethe and God

The Goethe quote. Anyone hear of it? First time I came across it was through a now-favorite book, Close to the Wind, by Pete Goss. Second time was through The Crime of Living Cautiously; Hearing God’s Call to Adventure, by Luci Shaw. Here it is:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

I have found it is so. My current writing project, (it’s a WWII spy novel—the Jonah book mentioned somewhere on my website will come later) has proved this Goethe quote out. Once the decision was made to write outside my usual genre, it’s as if Heaven opened up in a banging “YES! This is IT! The Right Path! Come on guys—let’s throw in, give some aid, let her know Heaven is her ally!

I’m telling you what: I’ve had more unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance crop up with this project than I’ve been aware of in a very long time. It’s just God in the wings, relieved that I’ve stopped doing (at least in this part of my life) what Rich Mullins sang about, “I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want than take what You’ve given that I need. And I beat my head against so many walls, now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees…

Recently I fought so hard to write where I really didn’t want to write. And didn’t God have a dickens of a time trying to get through to me. But he did, and I’m writing something different, and I am amazed. Furthermore, I am happy in this writing biz again. Shockingly, effortlessly happy. Sometimes it isn’t hard at all. It’s just Grace. And Goethe.

Heading for Normandy soon to camp out in the middle of my story. Not sure what to expect, but God will be there, so all is well, and will be well.

Groot—out.

Tracy Receives the Mark

Never say never, and never say stuff like “I won’t have a Facebook account until they make it a law” right on your home page, ‘cause you’ll eat it later. Yep, I’ve received the mark of the Facebook beast. It’s called a “Fan Page” (yeah, and doesn’t that make me feel dopey) linked to Jack’s Facebook account, for the purpose of displaying my books because my agents say I gotta have, and the technical term is, “on-line presence.” Incidentally, I have two agents because I’m a special case—Kathy speaks and Dan interprets, because Kathy speaks a language I can’t understand. It’s called Sense.

Anyway, it’s not a very social page from my end. But you know what? This borderline Luddite, (word courtesy of Meredith Smith—look it up on Wikipedia, it’s a great word) who from obtuse laziness and absence of techno curiosity rages against anything new, now takes the first tottering step to the Technological Revolution.

It’s all about being electrocuted together. I’d be one lonely little Luddite if some blown transformer sends you all to Jesus without me. I’d get stuck evangelizing the Left Behind, and who needs that kind of responsibility. And Kathy wouldn’t be around to talk Sense, and Dan wouldn’t be here to interpret. We go, we go together. In this, I am resolute.

So thanks for welcoming me back to the ranks. Because I yet have a foot in Luddite Land, I’d love if you’d contact me via my website if you ever wanna talk about stuff because, have mercy, it’s all about baby steps. When I’m a big girl, I may have my own Facebook account.

(Or not. Said the diabolical inner Luddite vying for control…)

Cheerio, all!

Groot—out.

The Future Belongs to….say what? Come again?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

I first came across this phrase when I rented a cute little cottage to finish a book. It was on a magnet on the fridge. I studied it warily, not quite understanding why I didn’t like it. Because it seemed I should. I felt obligated to like it.

I came across it once more the other day, when I turned my calendar forward. It was the new inspirational phrase for March. “You again,” I muttered, irked with myself for not understanding why I disliked it. I went on my merry, and thought no more of it until the other day when I read a verse that shot me from my seat and made me bellow, “THAT’S why!”, startling everyone in the room. They are used to me, however, and paid no mind as I grabbed a black Sharpie and ran to the calendar. This is what I wrote: “No it doesn’t! It belongs to those who work hard and get beat up to pursue it! Faith without works is dead!!”

Here’s exactly why I don’t like it: When I reach for substance in that sentiment, my fingers fall through smoke. A vapid vagary does not contain siftable material worthy of inspection. I’d call it damned nonsense if I hadn’t already used it in an earlier piece, and if it didn’t lessen impact to swear twice in consecutive essays.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams? Believing is and never will be enough. Ask any demon. “You say you believe in God. The demons also believe, and tremble.” Back up from that verse, James 2:19, and you’ll find “I’ll show you my faith by my works.” I’ll show you what I believe by what I do. The only future I have is in the action I take.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams…it’s silly enough to keep repeating, for the sheer revolting glory of it. “I am repulsed, yet I cannot look away.” (Niles said that, in a Frasier episode.) Sometimes you have to look at something long enough to understand what it really is. To my surprise, I find that some things are nothing at all.

The future belongs…okay, I’ll torment you no more and end with an updated version of this silly little sentiment: The future belongs to those who keep moving when fired upon.

Damned Nonsense

I better get right to the point since I started with a swear word. But first, I’m still transitioning from essay to blog. Maybe we should call it ‘Blessay.’ But that sounds a little wonky-spiritual to me. I know of people who refuse to call it a potluck. They call it a ‘pot blessing.’ I mean, seriously: “Hey—you gonna bring that yummy casserole to the pot blessing?”

I’m here today because of a C.S. Lewis entry in a devotional a friend gave me. Check this out: “Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist would say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.’ The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’ For Christianity is a fighting religion…it thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”

One of the things I’d like to see put right is this idea that cancer and disease is from God. If cancer is from God, then Jesus owes an apology to every person he healed while he walked the earth. He may have gotten in the way of God’s plan for that person, you see; he may have thwarted some higher purpose God had for the development of that person’s character.

Damned nonsense.

In 2001, I found myself suddenly in the hospital with an abdominal infection. Not once did I imagine this infection was from the hand of God. Instead, I and all the rest—doctors, Jack, friends, and family—fought the thing tooth and nail with any means we had. The doctors fought with drugs, family and friends fought with prayer. A week later I left the hospital considerably diminished, but alive and well and with a new appreciation for doctors and their gifts of healing, for friends and family and their tenacity to pray.

Did Jesus ever once hand out cancer, epilepsy, madness, or any other kind of illness to those who came to him? Not once. He healed every disease brought to him, and why? Because it was something bad, something not a part of his plan at creation.

People I love have died of cancer and disease. And we fought it every inch. They were brave people who went down in harness, fighting. And the fighting wasn’t damned nonsense. It was brave and true, and I will see them again someday and tell them what it meant to me that they fought.

Here’s a quote from Aeschylus: “Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” Cancer and sickness, disease and madness, tyrants all. Fight them on your feet, with every tool God has given.

Christianity is a fighting religion.

First Blog Essay; On Blogs, Facebook, and the New World Order.

I used to write essays for my old website. Things change. People don’t write essays any more, they Blog. In a visually aesthetic way, Blog is an ugly word to me. Wish they could’ve come up with something nicer. Even pronunciation isn’t nice: it’s either BLAHG or BLAWG. This should have gone to committee. We should have called it Pie. Pie is nice in every way, visually and audibly, and we could have made it mean “Blog”, because we can do that.

It all comes down to a New World Tech Head Order. I’m not a tech head. I don’t Facebook or Twitter. Got enough twitter going on in my own head without doing everyone the favor of spewing it onto the World Wide Web. Yet, in some things I want to be heard for the simple reason that I’m a writer, and I write. So in laying down the essay venue for my new site, in trying to figure out the new rules for the new order, an interactive essay (blog) was an astonishing concept at first. “Feedback?” I asked my web guy. “Why would I want feedback?” (Anyone who doesn’t have Facebook isn’t interested in feedback.)

But I get it, and that’s why I have a contact page. I like to add my assent or dissent now and then, too. I like to be heard, and I like (generally) to hear. It’s called being part of the human race, and though I won’t Facebook, I’ll stick my toe in the techno water just enough to get electrocuted so we can all go down together. It’s called “community.”

Community is good. I get it now. I like mankind, I like being part of multiple kingdoms, seen and unseen. There was a time when it wasn’t so. I used to be a gregarious isolationist. I’ll save that for a later entry.

So here I am. My website is as Facebook as I’ll ever get, but it’s a toe in the water and I’m glad to be here. Glad you stopped by. It’s about getting electrocuted together, man.

There’s a lot of love in this room.

So I’ll check in now and again with an essay—or whatever you want to call it. Blog. Pie. Until then, cheerio. Hope your day goes well.

Groot—out.