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It’s hard to be somebody. A poem and a prayer for rights.

it’s hard to be somebody

who believes. This day and age, especially 

the broken and inconvenient lives, like faith,

are trampled. Waste

cans line the streets and overflow, meaningless

now. The fuschia rage wins.

Or so it seems. 

Nobody is somebody, after all

when the battle is unseen. Glory,

Glory hallelujah.

His truth is marching on. So let’s be quick

to forgive. And pray

for the right to overcome.

Renew. On freedom. And US.

Freedom rings in

those who lay down

their swords of pride and fear, choosing

instead to use both arms to embrace

their brothers and sisters bent in the ruins 

of despair.

The bombs burst, fueled

by the oxygen of hope, ignited

by the freedom to change in the shadows

of Washington crossing the river

and Lincoln freeing the slaves

and Roosevelt riding rough

and the rows of corn browning in fall

and the rivers curving, ancient and still

and the sea to shining sea.

Because this land is a mess 

but this land

is ours

and we who dwell upon it owe it

and each other

kindness, like the starlings who invaded

unwelcome, but who thrive anyway

by the grace of the One

Who made them.

Let us then rise up and repair the 

devastations

that will ever be among us, 

and which will only be raised up 

one at a time

hand in hand

together.

because we are all strangers in a foreign land

and we only link hands when we

stop

and see

that we are not so different, you

and I.

The rocket red glare of darkness always threatens

cities on a hill.

And so

we turn our eyes to spacious skies

above the plains of division and to the statesman–O, let there be even one–

in this sweet land 

of liberty, where fathers died

and brothers and sons. Let their music

“swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees”

Sweet freedom’s song.

Sweet.

Freedom, if nothing else, is that. 

Let us at least link arms and fight 

for the nectar we have too long taken

for granted.

God bless

the U.S.A.

Amen.

*

President Ronald Reagan, on the occasion of his inauguration, January 20, 1981:

“Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.”

No part of our lives is wasted. Thoughts on writing and research.

I had the hardest time picking a major in college.

Everything interested me.

(Well, except for math.)

Truly.

Everything.

Just ask my roomate from back in those days.

From medicine to literature, political science to genetics, journalism to plant biology…there is so much wonder in the world…and so much to wonder at…how could I possibly choose just one thing to focus on for the rest of my life?

While I used to feel inadequate about my indecisiveness, I’m finally realizing I’m wired this way for a reason, and that writing novels is the ultimate and wonderful culmination of all my passions.

When I write a story, I can be whoever, wherever, and whenever I want

I can live on a pecan farm in Alabama (How Sweet the Sound). I can be a nationally renowned jewelry artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or South Haven, Michigan, or a Jewish boy escaping Eastern Europe in 1904 (Then Sings My Soul). I can be a dairy farmer or a pastor and live in a small town (Lead Me Home).

And all of that takes research.

Glorious, wonderful research in libraries and online, in documentaries and journals, and even in my own back yard.

I have books on pecan farming and I’ve spent hours watching pecan farmers on YouTube. 

I have binders full of lapidary design and stacks of books on rocks and minerals.

I’ve spent hours at my cousin’s dairy farm and I even hauled my family north to South Haven, Michigan one spring break when they’d have much preferred to go south.

And now I’m at it again.

I can’t say a whole lot about the current novel I’m working on, but here’s a stack of some of the reference books I’m using. The fiction ones you see are there not because of the subject, but because I’m studying those authors’ writing styles. You’ll also notice books on the writing craft, wildlife, and more.


Last week I even went on a wonderful field trip to spend a couple of hours interviewing a woman who is a wildlife rehabilitator. (So much fun!!!)

I hope you’ll be able to see the fruits of my current research sometime in 2018. Until then, I’ll share bits and pieces like this.

Mostly, I wanted to encourage you today to know that even though some seasons of our lives don’t make sense, no parts are wasted. Not even the painful parts. 

I agree with Carrie Fisher, who said to, “take your broken heart, and make it into art.”

All things work together, after all. 

That truth is more evident the more I learn, whether studying the life cycle of a pecan or the intricacies of a gemstone; the incredible instincts of rabbits and squirrels to care for their young; the way monarchs migrate for miles and across generations; the birds of prey and ducks who mate for life; and the ability of nature to heal itself. 

We live in a pretty amazing world, don’t we?

So, this is a glimpse into my writing life and what I’m working on at the start of 2017. 

It’s great fun.

It’s a lot of hard work.

And most of all–best of all–the results are a gift to you, dear readers. 

What about you?

What are you working on this year?

If you are a writer, do you like research? Why or why not?