Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Story of Sophie

In chapter six of Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis and Beth Clark, Katie describes how her experiences with two children, Sumini and Brenda, profoundly changed her understanding of what she was to be doing in Uganda. Sumini would become part of Katie’s family; Katie ministered to and prayed for Brenda while the child was dying in the hospital. Brenda “miraculously” recovered and was sent home; Katie never saw her again.

Wham! Suddenly I’m 37 years back in time, in a completely different culture that what Katie is describing, and yet…

In 1974, my wife and I moved to Houston from Beaumont, Texas. I had gotten a job at the headquarters of a big Fortune 500 oil company while she finished her journalism degree and worked at the Houston Chronicle. Over the next year or two, I became interested in doing volunteer work, and through a voluntarism program at my company, I eventually connected with Cambio House, a residential facility for emotionally disturbed children.

The children ranged in age from 6 to 12. There were never more than 10 or so at a time. Each child had his or her own room. The children lived there, went to school there, ate there and played there. Their emotional disturbance was officially classified as mild. The more severe cases were assigned to another facility.

My job as a volunteer was the provider of field trips. For good behavior during the week, the children got to go on Saturday field trips. The staff maintained a chart of points, and if enough good behavior points were accumulated, the child got to go on a field trip. It was a big deal – it was often the children’s only experience outside the home each week.

We took trips to the zoo, to Hermann Park, to the movie theater – whatever might be on the staff’s approved list. Some weeks I might have five or six kids; some weeks two or three; and some weeks, none at all. On those Saturdays, I worked with the staff inside the house. They were not fun days. The kids would be angry and sullen, and sometimes destructive. Temper tantrums were common. So was screaming. It could be ugly.

I was allowed to read the children’s admitting files, and the reading was grim. I read stories of child abuse, child prostitution, and abandonment. It seemed impossible for these stories to be happening with the shadow of downtown Houston, then often referred to as the “golden buckle of the Sunbelt.” The place was awash in money, oil money, and yet here were the stories of children abandoned, abused and forgotten.

One little girl, whom I will call Sophie, was 10. She had been brought to the home after police found her and her mother living on the streets. She took care of her mother, and provided for their food. She often secured leftovers from garbage cans. When they needed money, well, let’s say Sophie knew how to earn it. Her mother was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and her parental rights given to the state by the courts. Sophie bounced around the foster care system, and ended up at Cambio House.

She was small for her age, blond-haired and knew more profanity than most adults. Adults were people you didn’t trust, who took advantage of you and hurt you.

Keep in mind that Sophie was considered a mild case of emotional disturbance. When she lost control, which was often, she was a terror. She might have been small, but she could do serious damage.

Sophie rarely accumulated enough points to go on field trips. But for whatever reason, I came to represent something for her. Perhaps it was because I was associated with fun things, or because I wasn’t there all the time. I did see her in one of her tantrums from time to time, but it was rare. Even the staff noticed she tended to be on best behavior around me.

We’d read together, talk, play games. She drew a picture of me and my wife that I still have, filed away in a cabinet in our basement. The day she gave it to me, I understood what I represented to her. I was hope.

And then one Saturday, I showed up as usual, and discovered that Sophie wasn’t waiting like she always was. I went to her room and found it stripped bare. Sophie was gone. Her behavior had gone from mild to severe in one fell swoop that week, a tirade had turned to serious physical destruction, and she had attacked one of the staff members. She had been sent to a residence home in the woods of East Texas.

I never saw her again. If she is still alive today, she would be 47. Did I make a difference in her life? I don’t know. I hope so. I hope she made it.

But I know what motivates Katie Davis in Uganda.

Next week, I’ll continue the discussion of Kisses from Katie with the story of Joe, another of the children at Cambio House.

To see more posts on this chapter of Kisses from Katie, please visit Jason Stasyszen at Connecting to Impact. Jason and Sarah Salter are hosting our discussion of the book.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I hear the thunder
a rumble in the distance
attended by flashes of light,
and rain.

Moving at its own speed
neither slow nor hurried
cleaning and healing and washing,
like rain.

An integral and intimate component
of what lives, and is, and will
following its path and swath, wet
with rain.

Washing my face, smoothing lines
of worry and doubt, and fear,
falling on my hair, washing
with sound and sense and light,
like rain.

Time is not chronology
or a clock
Time is sometimes soft.
often hard, and driving
always cleansing,
 like rain.

This poem is submitted for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. To see more poems, please visit the site. The links will be live at 2 p.m. Central time today.

Photograph: Before the storm by Larisa Larisa via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Monday, February 27, 2012

More Conscious of Time

At The High Calling, we’re finishing up the last chapter and epilogue of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks. And now I’m considering the story of Harold and Erica at the end of their lives, and what does that mean.

I’ve discovered I’m becoming more conscious of time, and its passing.

It’s not moving any faster than it ever did, of course; I’m simply becoming more aware of it. And it’s in the little things, like it takes five and a half minutes to unload the dishwasher.

I know this has to do with age. Chronologically, time is catching up with me. And I’m trying to stare it down.

I’m doing things at 60 that would seem more natural at 25 or 35.

I published a novel after I turned 60. I’m working on the sequel. Depending upon how the sequel does commercially, a series lies behind it. Another novel, completely different, has almost 70,000 words completed, with another novel idea rolling around in my head. And this novella thing I’ve been working on, all because I heard a piece of music. I’m experiencing a literary flood that’s almost overwhelming, at a time and an age when I thought ideas might be drying up.

My day job involves social media. I was a speechwriter who started with electronic communications in 1993, moved on to the web. And then it was blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the rest. I am not exactly what most people think of as the correct demographic for social media. As the King of Siam told Anna, “Is a puzzlement,” except that I think what’s different – why I ‘get it” when others my age and younger don’t, is that I bring a lived life to the understanding of communications technology.

I’ve become more aware of the impact of my parents on my life. I spent 18 years under their roof in direct, day-to-day contact, and 42 years later, I can see the influences they had far more clearly than I could years ago. Earlier this month, I spent a long weekend with my mother in New Orleans, and we talked in a way we never really had before. I should say I asked questions and she talked. I wish I had had a tape recorder, but I didn’t anticipate the level of conversation we ended up having. But I did take notes.

It’s no coincidence that I can look at my own two children, my two sons I love so much, and I see my influence.

Part of what Brooks says in The Social Animal is that so much of our lives is actually directed, influenced and shaped by the “dominance of unconscious processes.” It’s likely true, but it’s an incomplete statement.

His perspective is largely biological and sociological; mine is increasingly spiritual. I don’t see unconscious processes directing what I do. Instead, I experience how God has wired me, both collectively as a human being and individually as me, and I’m only gradually becoming aware of the totality of it all.

And it is awesome.

“We are not who we think we are,” Brooks writes.

And he’s right. We aren’t.

Until we understand that we are the children of God.

And then everything changes.

To see more posts on the final chapter and epilogue, please visit The High Calling, where our discussion is hosted by Laura Boggess.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Attila the Honey

He was our firstborn, the son of two parents who were rather bookish, studious and quiet.

He wasn’t.

We nicknamed him Attila the Honey, the original strong-willed child with a tender heart. He walked at nine months, for exactly one day, and then he discovered he could run. At about two, he decided he was an adult, and should be able to do everything his parents did. Like climb in the car and turn on the ignition. He liked to go to restaurants – and climb into strangers’ laps like they were old friends.

When he was not quite five, he no longer needed training wheels on his bicycle.

I can’t remember a time he wasn’t into baseball, but there must have been one. His father wasn’t. Everything Travis learned about baseball, and he learned a lot, he didn’t learn from his father.

When he was 15, he went on a mission trip to Haiti. This was when President Clinton had sent U.S. troops in to restore civil order, and not all order had been restored. But he went, got sunburned, heard voodoo drums in the hills at night, fell off the back of a truck, fell in love with a bunch of children, helped with a water project and had one of the most important experiences of his life.

After college, he worked a few years (with a local baseball team, the River City Rascals) and then he went off to Phoenix to take an operations job with an expansion league. The league shut down after a year but he found a job with Marriott and started learning the hotel business. He met this girl named Stephanie at church. They got married in 2008. Since nothing would keep Travis away from the home of Cardinal Nation for long, they moved to St. Louis when she was pregnant with their firstborn, named Cameron, who was born in 2010. Cameron is going to have a little brother come May.

It is my prayer that Cameron will be gentler with his little brother more – a lot more – than his father was with his little brother, Andrew. Travis believed he was fully capable of taking care of Andrew, regardless of what his parents said. Fortunately, Andrew turned out to be made of tough stuff.

Happy birthday, my son. You taught us much – about ourselves, about faith and about love. You still are.

Top photo: Dad holding seven-month-old Travis
Middle photo: Dad holding one-year-old Cameron
Bottom photo: Attila the Honey in his favorite shirt at the 2011 World Series.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Good Reads

Author Marilynne Robinson pens an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education – on reclaiming a sense of the sacred. Simply Darlene tells the story of a puppy who teaches a neighbor something. Chris Galford says he ain’t no poet, and Tim Good has a cold haiku. Jack Baumgartner has some wonderful drawings of Jonah and the whale, and Jay Cookingham had another edition of Bad Sheep. And a lot more.


The eyes have it” by Jerry Barrett at Parenthetically Speaking in 3D.

How to get a bus out of a ditch” by Shawn Smucker.

Longing for More” by Jason Vana.

The Lament of Loss” by J of India at Neither Use Nor Ornament.

Looking Back” by Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today.

Has God Disappointed You?” by Jason Stasyszen at Connecting to Impact.

Not Sitting in Estes: Me” by Megan Willome.

I am not a disappointment” by Louise Gallagher at Recover Your Joy.

The Magnificent Seven” by Jay Cookingham at Soulfari.

He had to go” by Jake Lee at Very Much Later.

Reclaiming a sense of the sacred” by Marilynne Robinson for The chronicle of Higher Education (hat tip: Jeff Overstreet).

When you need to remember” by Sandra Heska King.

The size of pancakes” by Harriett Gillham at The Other Side of the Mountain.

Professors, Pups and Pedigrees” by Darlene at Simply Darlene.

Calm in the storm” by Daniel Donovich at The Itinerant D.

Paraprosdokian, Anyone?” by Rachelle Gardner.


As the Sun Is Set in the Forest” by Robert Lee Brewer at My Name Is Not Bob.

Food Chain” by Steven Marty Grant at Urbanality.

Marilyn Nelson” by D.S. Martin at Kingdom Poets.

Looking for Meaning in Red” by Maureen Doallas at Writing Without Paper.

Ain’t No Poet” by Chris Galford at The Waking Den.

Ambition” by Tony Maude at Rumours of Rhyme.

Where do I go from here?” and “No ringtone” by B.K. McKenzie at Signed…BKM.

Tyranny of socks & everyday radicals” by Brian Miller at WayStationOne.

Fro-Zen” by Timothy Good at Poetry by Tiwago.

Paintings and Photographs

Photography of a Black Saddlebag” and “Water on Smoke” by Timothy Good at Photography by Tiwago.

Resting…Still” by Susan Etole at Just…A Moment.

A New Season” and “The Sky in the Water,” watermedia on paper by Randall David Tipton at Painter’s Process.

Looking and seeing” by Nancy Rosback at A Little Somethin’.

Surrounded by the deep” by Jack Baumgartner at The School of the Transfer of Energy.

Out of the Wind” by Michelle DeRusha at Graceful.

Grit: An Essay with Photos” by Diana Trautwein at Just Wondering.


Bad Sheep: Orange You Glad to See Me?” by Jay Cookingham, at Soulfari.

Photograph: Winter Fog by Larisa Larisa via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Fragment from 2005

Cleaning out old computer files can be illuminating. The words below were the very first ones I wrote for Dancing Priest, circa 2005. They did not make it into the final publication. But they do give a small glimpse into the sequel, and beyond.

Transcript - From Interview 1 JZK-H

…ridiculous. And I’ve agreed to talk to you about this only because there’s so much foolishness about Dad and Sarah, and what did and didn’t really happen. Here’s another example – the so-called miracle healings. Total, absolute nonsense. There weren’t any miracle healings. But the legend did start in a sand of truth. Dad saved Uncle Robbie’s life at the Olympics in Athens, but the only miracle was that Dad had the presence of mind to press his hand against a bleeding head wound. No, he wasn’t a real uncle, but so many of Dad’s and Sarah’s friends were so close to the family that we called just about everybody an uncle or an aunt. That’s why the accounts get so confusing at times.

But there was no miraculous healing of Uncle Robbie, and Dad would be the first to say that; he wouldn’t even take credit for saving Uncle Robbie’s life. He’d be embarrassed by all this talk of possible sainthood, and likely more than a little angry. He’d be outraged if he knew that people have set up shrines to pray to him, I can tell you that. Tommy Mike is spot on for tearing them down, and who’s to disagree with Dad’s own son?

But Dad did create miracles – the natural, earthly sort, the ones that come of perseverance, hard work and a lot of love.

I was one of his miracles, I think. Yes, you don’t have to ask, I’ve heard the stories and rumors that Dad was really my natural father. Another bit of nonsense. I was 8 years old when my mother and I first laid eyes on him. And Dad was 15 when I was born an ocean and continent away from Scotland. But I was one of his natural miracles all the same, and that’s a part of this story.

We’re starting this off badly. You said you worked weeks on the outline for this, to try to tell the story factually, methodically and chronologically. Isn’t that what you said? That appealed to me, because that’s how my military-trained mind organizes everything. But like everything else connected to Dad and Sarah, I suppose, love trumps method and the grand plan. Memories don’t happen chronologically. Stories don’t either. And I think the same is true for the lives we live. Life really isn’t a chronology.

[Tape Inaudible] …miss them. I see a bicyclist riding down the street and immediately think of Dad in his jersey and spandex shorts, racing like the wind. How he could ride the bike. That’s how everyone first knew him, you know, the Olympic cyclist who became a hero. He taught me to ride the bike, too, in that little park not far from the church in San Francisco, the same park where the shooting happened. He taught us all to bike, in fact. There is a photo of all of us biking in a line – Dad, Hank, the twins, Tommy Mike, and then me bringing up the rear. It was one of Sarah’s favorite photos; they used it for the Christmas card that year. I must have been 18 or 19 at the time, I think it was right before I went into the RAF, and Hank would have been 9 or 10, the twins two years behind Hank and Tommy Mike two years behind them. Jason never got into biking; I kept telling him what he was missing, but he wasn’t interested; he was a runner. And you’ll need to ask him how he became a runner.

And you’ve seen Sarah’s paintings, or most of them. Incredible, aren’t they? That show a while back at the Tate was something; it set attendance records for any art museum in the world. You saw it? Then you know. Sarah would have been overwhelmed by it; Dad would have stood there, just grinning like he knew this would happen because she was so good. Jason wrote the catalog for it, I hear it’s already become a collector’s item. And Jason could speak to her art better than anyone; he’d watched her create a lot of it. And aside from being Dad’s wife, she was a great artist. She was considered good before she and Dad married, before all of what came after.

Some of their stories have disappeared, you know. Likely most of them. And while I can give an educated guess about a lot of things, the plain fact is I’ll never know for sure. None of us will. We all have a piece of them and even putting all of our pieces together won’t give you the whole picture. And so we have to imagine what may have been, and likely was, and you’ll just have to be content with that. And I’ll tell you when I do that. Ultimately, though, we all have to imagine most things about them, to grasp what’s true. We can’t relive their lives. Yet the imagining makes it more special in a way, don’t you think? The imagining makes it more real.

But if you start with two known facts – Dad and Sarah loved each other and they loved God – you can’t go far wrong. That’s where their story centers, from the beginning.

And their story begins with cancer. Most of that beginning has to be imagined, because we’ll never know really what attracted Dad’s birth parents to each other. We have less of them than anyone else in this whole story, yet they were the ones, you might say, who started it all.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday

My friend Duane Scott at Scribing the Journey shifted Pleasantly Disturbed Thursdays to Fridays, and we haven’t had one in a while, so I thought I’d move it back for the moment.

My head is buzzing with words. I think I have too much going on.

I’m editing the sequel to Dancing Priest. There’s no title yet. The working title I’ve been using no longer fits. The editing involves what I might call “soft rewriting.” I’m not doing wholesale cuts and replacements, more like minor cuts and small replacements. It’s work.

Every so often I’m stealing a few minutes to write. This novella that started with some music keeps pulling me back toward it. It’s about 40 percent done, and the rest is outlined. I know how it ends, and I’ve already figured out the ending scene. But it’s work, too.

There are poetry projects, articles for blogs, reviews of books – lots more words. And work.

And I’m enjoying all of it.

I’m reading two books for online discussion groups – The Social Animal by David Brooks for The High Calling and Kisses from Katie for the group led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. We’ll be finished with the Social Animal in early March,

Reading underway for book reviews for various people or sites includes This Morning: Poems by Michael Ryan (to be published March 13) and Joseph Wambaugh’s new novel, Harbor Nocturne, due out in April. I’ve also got four other poetry books waiting patiently.

My personal reading right now is Frantic, Mike Dellosso’s new book. It’s set in Maine. It’s a thriller, as in scary. It’s his fourth novel and I think his best yet.

On the non-word front, I did something rather remarkable this past Sunday. I rode a bike. I rode it for 35 minutes. It was the first time in eight months, since my back problem started last June. It was a great feeling to be back on the bike. My legs, however, did issue a protest on Monday and Tuesday.

My wife and I watched the conclusion of the second season of Downton Abbey on PBS Sunday night. We’re both addicts, although I don’t do go so far as to spend hours online looking at all the sites, interviews, speculation and even paper dolls.

Last Friday night, we saw the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and a young actor named Thomas Horn. It’s about 9/11, but it’s about a lot more than that. It’s a great movie; the boy is one extraordinary actor. If you haven’t seen it, you should. The trailer is below.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kipling and Empire

The 1880s and 1890s: It is the zenith of British power in the world. The sun literally never sets on the empire. Queen Victoria sits on the throne. It is the British Raj in India. Imperialism is becoming a widely accepted political philosophy and practice.

If there is one writer, one author who is most associated with the high-water mark of British dominance, it would be Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). Today he might be most remembered for being listed in the credits of the Disney movie “The Jungle Book,” or possibly as the author of the father-to-son poem “If.” But in his lifetime, he was one of the most popular writers in Britain, producing stories about India and British expansionism, children’s stories – and poems. He was even sounded out about becoming Britain’s poet laureate – and he turned it down.

To read more, please see my post today at The Master’s Artist.

Katie Becomes a Mommy, Times 5

Katie becomes a mommy. Five times over. And this is just the start.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis and Beth Clark. Katie is living in rural Uganda, serving as a missionary. One thing has led to another, like they always do, and Katie finds herself adopting three girls, and then two more.

This is part of the tragedy of too much of central and southern Africa. Wracked by civil war, disease, high mortality rates due to AIDS and other factors we would find alien anywhere in the United States, children too numerous to count have been forced to become adults. Too many children have to care for younger siblings. Too many have to care for sick parents.

With the first three Katie adopts, their parents are dead or gone and their grandmother can barely find enough food for herself. And so a 9-year-old cares for her younger sisters, and the 5-year-old has to work in the fields to find food.

For more than a decade, we sponsored a little boy in Kenya through World Vision, until the development goals were achieved and the community moved to self-sufficiency.

We didn’t just send a monthly check; we followed Andera John’s life. He lived with an intact family in western Kenya. Our sponsorship meant he could go to school, and we received regular report cards. Sometimes we sent extra gifts, and over time his family bought two milk cows (one for the family and one to provide income by selling the milk to others), a goat, clothes, school uniforms and other things they needed. We have a picture of Andera John and his brother holding the leads for the two cows while his older sister stands in the background with a new sweater – one that was hers and not a hand-me-down. Our cost was small indeed, but it helped propel the family’s fortunes.

Right now through our church, we’re in the process of sponsoring another boy in Kenya and a girl in India. Lots of churches have programs like this, sometimes worked through the missions ministry, and organizations like World Vision and Compassion International have more children for sponsorships than sponsoring families can be found.

It’s not the same as officially adopting and raising five little girls, but a very small contribution can have a huge impact.


Compassion International’s web site

World Vision’s web site

To see more posts on this chapter of Kisses from Katie, please visit Jason Stasyszen's site, Connecting to Impact

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Red Whistles at the Wolf

I'm taking a long walk. I'm thinking about the movie I saw the night before (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, in case you're interested). I remember my wife pulling up her coat hood up because it was chilly. I start thinking about the color red -- for February, National Heart Month, Valentine's Day. I'm thinking coat, hood, red -- and then a convertible with the top up drives by.

To read what happened from there, please see my post today at TweetSpeak Poetry: Red Whistles at the Wolf.

Life, Daily

Sunrise, curtained
date, disappears
hero, clay feet
promise, broken
hope, unrealized
honor, denigrated
hard work, disregarded
championship team, loses
expectation, flattened
commitment, unmet
restaurant, closed
addiction, unresisted
trust, violated
feelings, hurt
summit, unreached
savior, ignored

This poem is submitted for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock, and the word is “disappoint.” To see more posts, please visit Peter's site.

It’s also submitted for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. To see more poems, please visit the site. The links will live at 2 p.m. Central time today.

Photograph: Lonely man by Anna Cervova via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This One's Political (Sort Of)

In our discussion of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement by David Brooks over at The High Calling, our fictional characters Erica and Harold take a turn for the political – they get involved in a presidential election, working directly for a candidate (party unidentified but I would suspect Democratic). Brooks uses this to talk about our political inclinations and how we get them, and throws a lot of conventional wisdom out of the window.

I wonder what he would make of me.

The first time I was “legal” to vote was 1971. At that time in Louisiana, if you wanted to vote, you had to vote in the Democratic primary. The Republican Party existed in Louisiana and other Deep South states, but it was a non-starter in state politics from the end of Reconstruction in 1876 to the 1980s – a century of Democratic control.

For the most part, this “southern Democrat” translated as conservative. Then came the McGovern candidacy in 1972, and the changes engineered in the Democratic Party which turned out to be vastly more consequential than McGovern. What the changes had the effect of doing was to drive Southern conservative Democrats into the arms of the Republican Party.

For the next 30 years, and in three states – Louisiana, Texas and Missouri, I considered myself a Republican. I voted for Republicans at the national and state level, and usually if not always at the local level. My attitudes, perceptions and political beliefs were shaped and molded by essentially a Republican sensibility. I did feel an uneasiness with how the Republicans talked a good game on social and moral issues but never really initiated much. They seemed more adept at stopping or slowing, but not really willing to take on the major moral questions.

Two things happened that cut me adrift.

First, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 demonstrated the sheer incompetence of federal disaster authorities. People were dying in the streets of New Orleans, while the administration seemed more interested in making sure the President had just the right backdrop for a photo opp. I think the President truly cared, but his handlers were far more concerned with political appearances than with rescuing people.

This was my hometown, my family and friends, my heritage, and I was stunned by the ineptness of the government’s response. As columnist George Will pointed out at the time, whatever else you wanted to say about them, the Republicans were supposed to be competent. I joined the streams of tens of thousands who took to the internet to find out information, share information, and help people (I will admit to sharing what I learned about how to get in and out of the city with all the major highways blocked by police and troops.)

The second thing that happened involved David Kao, who had served as deputy director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for the White House. He began to tell all – and the “tell” was about how the key political handlers surrounding the President callously mobilized and used evangelical voters to get elected and then promptly ignored their concerns.

People like me.

I walked away from what had helped shape me for three decades – most of my adult life. I didn’t turn to the Democratic Party or other political groups. I simply walked away from the Republicans.

I began to do some serious soul-searching about what had shaped me. I realized that it had been less about what the Republicans stood for (or what most Republicans stood for) and more about what the Democrats had become.

Politically, I’m still adrift. I still am. And it is a good thing. I broke the lenses I was looking at life through, and I began to see more clearly.

To see more posts on these three chapters in The Social Animal – The Leader, The Soft Side and The Other Education, please visit The High Calling, where Laura Boggess is leading the discussion (and may be avoiding all this political stuff).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Good Reads

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner had a three-part series this week on what publishing can learn from Kodak – and then she had a cartoon about Mr. Dickens. There there’s the quiet strength most people overlook, a valentine from a father to a daughter, a wonderful description of the joy of writing, a hard look at how our culture romanticizes addition, poems about saints and love, some wonderful photographs and a movie trailer that dramatizes a painting. Great stuff.


The Beatitudes of Writers” by Joshua Spotts at A Writer’s Mind.

What Publishing Can Learn from Kodak - Part 1,” “Part 2” and “Part 3” by Rachelle Gardner at Books & Such.

The Quiet Strength Most People Overlook” by Mike St. Pierre at The Daily Saint.

Suite Francaise” by Harriett Gillham at The Other Side of the Mountain.

Wet Sheets” by Doug Spurling for Kingdom Bloggers.

Making a Dream Come True” by Cassandra Frear at Moonboat CafĂ©.

Fame, Fortune and Being Remembered” by Billy Coffey at What I learned Today.

To my daughter” by Jeff Jordan at To My Children, if They Are Listening.

Writer Needs Reflection” by L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone.

It’s Time to Move On” by Shawn Smucker.

The boy who wants to become Superman so he can save his mommy” by Emily Weirenga at Imperfect Prose.

Sensuality…29” by Claire Burge.

Running to Stand Still (the Joy of Writing)” by Travis Thrasher at The Journey is Everything.

Romanticizing Addiction – Part 1” and “Part 2” by Kathy Richards at Katdish.


The Sleeping Revolutionary” by Martin Duggan.

Resurrection/man” and “Canvas hearts” by Brian Miller at WayStationOne.

You are what you eat” by Nancy Rosback at A Little Somethin’.

Mexico” by Megan Willome.

John Milton” by D.S. Martin at Kingdom Poets.

Lay me down to love” by Claire Burge.

Saint Dwynwen” by Chris Smith at Welsh Poetics.

Gloaming” by Maureen Doallas at Writing Without Paper.

What It Feels Like” by Monica Sharman at Know-Love-Obey God.

Song of Almost Nothing” by Brendan MacOdrum at Oran’s Well.

Paintings and Photographs

Industrial Decay” and “Diary of a Hike” by Timothy Good at Photography by Tiwago.

Postmark” by Susan Etole at Just…A Moment.

Eight-Year-Old Designs Valentine’s Card” by Greg Sullivan at Sippican Cottage.

New Vessels” by Jack Baumgartner at The School of the Transfer of Energy.

Across Borders” by D.C. Lutz at Swollen Road Collective.

The Sweeter Tooth” by J of India at neither Use nor Ornament.

Bandelier,” mixed watermedia on Yupo by Randall David Tipton at Painter’s Process.

The Water Tower” by Steve Gravano at Take a Look Around.


Dickens and His Editor,” by Rachelle Gardner.

Videos and Podcasts

I wake and feel the fell of dark” by Gerald Manley Hopkins, read by Tom O’Bedlam at Spoken Verse.

The Mill and the Cross,” trailer for the movie that dramatizes Peter Breughel the Elder’s painting “The Way to Calvary” (1564).

Photograph: Spoked Snow by Jane Wahl via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.