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Swimming the Echo by Brian L. Tucker

Swimming the Echo

by Brian L. Tucker

Giveaway ends September 20, 2017.

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9th of August

The Time Given


Last weekend offered something all of us pray for, whether it’s an audible, breathed prayer or not:

Time with people we love and care for and MISS as the clock pulls us forward

My hometown library hosted a book signing, and Lindsey S. Frantz (a childhood best friend) and I were able to attend, and sign, our newest works. That in itself was a great blessing. To be able to write and share our stories with others. But the best was still yet to come that day.

We had friends and family in attendance, when so many other things were happening in the lake community of Monticello. It meant so much that people chose to stop by and say, “Hello!”

We saw people we hadn’t seen since the days Monticello High School stood three stories high on Cave Street. And that in itself was also like walking into the wonderful past.

I saw teachers I respected and still talk to this day. Vicki York Davis. Carolyn Harris. Betty Hyden. Allyson Upchurch Tucker. Beth Brewerton. And family was there. And best friends. The library gave us a solid 2 hour window. And the reunion saw people staying well beyond that.

Then, the night held more reunions with best friends opening up their home in Somerset and allowing all of us to eat dinner together. And Sunday permitted my wife and I to see my grandparents, for the first time in many years. My brother, sister, and their families were also in town. I was able to see nine-month-old, Henry, for the first time.

Before we left, Mom packed up yellow and green tomatoes from her garden and put them in our car.

We were exhausted arriving in Chattanooga. But the time permitted us to see a microcosm of what I imagine heaven to be. It was worth it.

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30th of January

Gloves Off Gospel


My pastor says things much more eloquently than me. He draws inferences from the Good Book, and I thank the Good Lord for it.

Some times I find myself just wanting to haul off and punch people.

But fortunately, I have people around me who teach biblical truth. A wife who loves first and foremost.

It stops my fist before it leaves the proverbial hangar.

Yesterday, Mark spoke on Revelation and made a connection to loving people I’d never heard in my 32 churchgoing years.

And before you stop reading, let me say right here that it wasn’t another LG,LP message. He didn’t make it about holding hands and skipping or anything.

It’s what I like to call Gloves Off Gospel.

It wasn’t highfaluting wish wash, but something that dug in and hit home.

The question he led with: Do you love as well as you used to? (Taken out of context this could mean anything. But here, for a Christian, it means what it says.)

Revelation 2 instructs every believer to – “do the works you did at first…”

This harps on how love diminishes in everyone who starts on warp speed, with mad love for God, and then, well, fizzles out.

Life, politics, saccharine packets, and bad pizza take their toll on our hearts metaphorically and literally. 1st world sucker punches happen and we think this somehow makes it okay to stop caring. I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with any punch to my gut. From friend or foe.

My stomach hurts just typing this. I want to avoid the lull of carelessness. Forever.

Can we pray for impenetrable faith? Do we need extra compassion injections over time? Are we being the body we’re called to be?

January is cold and nothing can insulate like good works & faith.

Do I love as well as I used to?

 

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23rd of January

Language is Universal.


It’s easy to lose our love for words & conversation.

Language can become nothing more than consonants, vowels strung together and overlooked on social media.

I take them for granted every day. I misuse them, too. Saying things I don’t mean.

Writer friends of mine can do beautiful things with grammatical units, prepositional phrases.

Phonemes and morphemes constructed to make magic to listeners in any native person’s land.

I love the impact of language. How it can transport us in fiction like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to 1930s Maycomb County, Alabama, or relay world news pertinent to us in 2017. It can unite (and often divide). It can be succinct and to the point. It can also be long-winded and meandering. (Much like me…)

But, at it’s core, language serves a purpose: to communicate.

Fun Facts

  • With 6,500 languages in the world about 2k of these have less than 1k speakers.
  • Mandarin features almost 1 billion speakers (well over double those of us speaking English).

“Ni hao,” “Hello,” & “Hola” all greet peoples of the world. And can mean different things in the way they’re said.

I love the unity of language.

You might ask, “But doesn’t language divide & confuse us daily?”

To an extent, but linguistics unifies as well.

Studying languages as obscure as the Pirahã language of Brazil (comprised almost entirely of phonemes) merits importance to those still speaking it. Likewise, just because those natives of North Sentinel don’t want to be invaded by outsiders doesn’t cheapen the Sentinelese language spoken on their restricted coasts.

I like not knowing some things about the French language. It’s mysterious. There’s a hidden code in every language. It allows people groups to learn from one another, share, and also hide in the comfort of their uniqueness as well.

Did you know inhabitants of the island of La Gomera use a whistled language? Or, that the Pawnee tribes’ (Native American) language involved a love affair with syllables (some words possessing over 30 syllables)? Or, that the Taa language in Botswana literally translates to “the language of human beings”?

I found the English language WordClock online and it states there’s a new word added every 98 minutes. As I type this post, the clock shows: 1,005,366 words in the English language. That’s 14.7 new words per day. See it here.

Do you think language unifies or divides? Should it be kept in a lockbox only for natives to speak to natives? Should North Sentinel Island be invaded for the sake of conversation? (Ok, that one is a bit pointed.)

Are you a wordsmith secretly planning to now learn Pawnee, because you read this blog? Buy Rosetta Stone for Pirahã if it exists?

I love the discussion of language. No matter where you are on this blue planet you can take this blog, copy & paste it into a word app on your phone, and in a minute (maybe less), you know exactly what I’m saying. You process it in an exquisite, God-given brain, and you respond.

Magic. Voilà!

 

 

 

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14th of November

Home is more than an address


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I think about home a lot.

Especially since moving away.

 

Home –

“the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”

 

I like this definition better than some of the others online; it includes that one word, the adverb ‘permanently’.

The image seems truer somehow, even if it’s not the reality you (or I) experienced.

If you’re like me, the word home seems more distant now than it ever has.

 

If you’re from southern Kentucky (specifically Wayne County), you know exactly what Monticello-born author, Harriette Simpson Arnow meant when she said this about her mom’s view of home:

… she (Mama) knew most of the families … in Wayne County. If Mama didn’t know at least who their grandparents were, she considered them strangers. Because she’d grown up that way with the Denneys. There was Denney’s Gap and a Denney post office and two Denney graveyards, and Denney’s Store. And she’d grown up surrounded by her Denny kin. I don’t think she ever felt at home after leaving Wayne County and her close relatives.

 

The sentiments ring true for me. They make the world so much smaller. In my head I think, I’m from where she’s from, my grandparents still live in Denney’s Gap, I know where those graveyards are and that store. I feel what she felt.

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Have you connected with a place like that before?

A place that makes the world suddenly smaller, more intimate?

Do you travel home as much as you’d like?

Is it home like you remembered? Or, do you find yourself longing for another home?

Something C.S. Lewis once surmised, saying, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

It clicks in my head and my heart, as I write this blog in Tennessee. The world isn’t too large to make the trip back, but the miles seem endless staring at this electronic screen. The years busier, and the friends older. While I might not be able to stop time and make my hometown exactly as I remember it, I smile when I think of that one word, and the notion of eternity for all of us.

Not here in Chattanooga. Not there in Monticello. But, another world – permanently.

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22nd of September

Stranger Things at a Stop Light


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One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen occurred on my commute to work yesterday. Something I hadn’t seen before and the epitome of what many might call a Hallmark moment. But, for me it was something else. It didn’t come off as cheesy in the slightest.

It distracted my driving, but in a good way.

I was driving in the slow lane listening to Weezer, and the traffic was stop-and-go. And I was belting some lyrics from the white album, and I came to another red light and immediately looked in my mirrors to see if I’d been caught in any direction. Then I glanced left and the car next to me offered this aforementioned Hallmark moment.

It was a beat-up, rusted Buick with the front bumper held together by what looked like bungee cables.

Inside was a young couple who looked younger than my wife and I when we first got married (19 & 23). The young lady was in the passenger seat, and she was reading aloud from a book I couldn’t see too well – to her boyfriend, husband, fill-in-the-blank. (I’d like to say it was a Bible, but I couldn’t confirm the text.)

And what spoke volumes to me was their passion. She was reading and he was locked in with two hands on the wheel. (Imagine a young Johnny Cash with hair swiped to the side nodding and listening.) She would read, pause, and wait to see the man’s reaction. He, meanwhile, listened and encouraged.

The light turned and we all were set in motion again. As I turned Weezer down, in my rearview I saw the old Buick go left. I replayed the image in my mind, their passion-

It was 7am. The car wasn’t new. Their dress and style didn’t suggest wealth. And, they had what many call zest. I could see it all in that brief window of time stopped together.

[Imagine what an image of our grandparents joyriding around town might’ve looked like 50-60 years ago.]

This was something unexpected, and I got a better sense of what the word ‘contentment’ ought to mean.

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31st of August

Dedicated to a Brave Maine Coon


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(Kujo, circa 2004)

It’s difficult to lose a pet.

I got that call yesterday.

When you experience it, it’s difficult to respond.

How do you respond without feeling foolish?

It was a pet. An animal.

I’m working through it, but I know it’s been even harder to lose one that had such personality.

With me throughout middle & high school, college & graduate school, work & marriage and until yesterday.

The memories of returning from trips and seeing a Maine Coon saunter out to greet us in the driveway. The van still ticking and hot to the touch from miles upon miles on I-75.

Kujo. Such an ill-suited, ironic name for so lovable a cat. But, I laugh thinking about the day my sister named him. Stephen King would be proud.

Mom called last night to confirm that he’d been sick for a while. She took him to the vet. Kidney failure & a host of other problems. The knowledge of him being sick as heavy as the absence of him on the back porch today, I’m sure.

Mom said she buried him where the plum tree once stood. He’d like that, I know. Always one to follow her out to the garden and watch her weed & water the squash and peppers. A country cat. Indoor / outdoor. Super smart and always aware of when tuna cans were being opened.

I’m happy he’s at rest. As I’m sure you’ve felt the same about pets and friends and family.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. (Pets or not.) It’s amazing the memories they can provide. How pets can bring warring parties together. If you told me a Maine Coon could’ve helped deter arguments fifteen years ago, I would’ve laughed. But now I know, even pets, can be agents for good.

Take this sappy entry today and use it, if you’d like. I hope it brings you closure to issues you might be wrestling with this year. God wants us all to live fully, freely, and passionately. All of us. Even pets and animals like the ones Lewis wrote about in The Chronicles of Narnia. They too serve a purpose. Even if it’s to be a daily reminder that it’s okay to let our guard down. It’s okay to love and be loved.

 

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Categories:  brianltucker thankfulness
29th of August

Finding Contentment in a Busy Age


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Notes from yesterday were so spot on I had to share them today!

Regarding priorities in 2016:

Journey Church
August 28, 2016
====================================
Welcome to Journey Church, Chattanooga!
Philippians, Part 8
====================================

6 Basic Questions (good no matter what book of the Bible is being studied)
Who is writing the letter?
Who is Paul saying it to?
What is Paul Saying?
Why is Paul saying it?
What is the transferable principle?
How do we apply this principle to our lives today?

Philippians 4:10-20 ESV
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

  • Paul knew how to be content.

 

Contentment is determined by what is most important to you.

  • Paul knew that his relationship with Christ was the greatest prize and his reason for joy rest in a relationship that could never be taken away.

 

Philippians 4:14-20 ESV
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

God designed His community of followers to help take care of each others needs.

Philippians 4:17 ESV
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

Caring for others is the “fruit” of a life that is focused on following Christ

Philippians 4:21-23 ESV
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

What is the transferable principle?

  • Our satisfaction must be in our relationship with Christ instead of our circumstances.
  • We demonstrate our faith by caring for each other.

How do we apply this principle to our lives, today?

Philippians 4:12 ESV
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

  1. Develop a grateful heart.
  2. Keep your circumstances in perspective.
  3. Develop a discipline of moderation.

Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    4. Trust in God’s grace and the goodness of His will.

Philippians 4:18-19 ESV
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

  5. Look for opportunities to meet the needs of others.

Joy is found when we know that our prize is in Christ and we will be with Him for all of eternity.

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Categories:  adventure thankfulness
17th of August

The Angel Oak


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I stare at a painting of the Angel Oak above my desk and think about the longevity of its branches

Alive still

Even today

Once climbed upon by natives of her land

Pilgrims’ children, too

I think of the famous row planted centuries ago at Boone Hall

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Oaks stronger than their Pecan brethren

Storms incapable of wresting them down

Branches unfurled in every direction, even parallel, reaching to heaven and hell and outward like a hug

The rows serendipitous and interlocking

Singing in the cover of twisted limbs, twisted roots

Unfettered from last millennium

The breeze strong as a hurricane to shake even one

I see it in the frame beneath this glass above me

The Angel Oak isn’t alone

She cannot fall victim to loneliness, nor abandonment

Her moss covered tentacles pulse all the same

Whether here before or here after, she stands and breathes Lowcountry air on John’s Island

Resolute to face the tide once again

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17th of June

It’s Friday! Let’s read Wendell Berry!


The Sycamore

In the place that is my own place, whose earth

I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,

a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.

oldsycamoretree

Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,

Hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.

There is no year it has flourished in

that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it

that is its death, though its living brims whitely

at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.

Over all its scars has come the seamless white

of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history

healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection

in the warp and bending of its long growth.

It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.

It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.

It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.

In all the country there is no other like it.

I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling

the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.

I see that it stands in its place, and feeds upon it,

and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.

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9th of May

The Truth Hurts


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Tough news hit me right before a wonderful family vacation last week. It came in the form of an email.

Have you ever received unsettling news that way? No voice. No eye contact. It didn’t help that there wasn’t a thing I could do about it at the time…except focus on packing my bags and loading the car for the beach.

We went to St. George Island. It was great weather, warm water. Still the news lingered in the back of my brain. Stinging at times, when I wasn’t enjoying the sun. It was that email. Rereading it over and over again in my head. It came from the CEO of Booktrope, Ken Shear. He regretted to inform writers of the company’s upcoming immediate closure. He wrote:

We are deeply saddened to share the news that Booktrope will be ceasing business effective May 31, 2016. This decision was not reached lightly and we will share as much as we can with the community over the next few weeks…. What you need to know now: Booktrope will remove all published books from sale as of May 31, 2016

May 31st.

Thoughts of What the heck? and How will my book survive this? hit me again and again.

Then, I remembered that WHEELMAN and other titles at Booktrope existed before publication, and they would survive this as well. God is doing great things through the books in the Booktrope imprint, Vox Dei. These stories will continue being told – just in different mediums.

I appreciated the response from Shear and the timely update. It gave me enough foresight to mull this topic over, and I know I need to pray about WHEELMAN (and other books’ futures) as well.

The company’s closing date will mean the removal of WHEELMAN from their roster and printing will cease, as well as the Vox Dei logo going away. However, I am in the process of learning how to get the story back out there in a different way.

As always, I appreciate your faith and prayers in this current situation. Thank you for reading, and if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, this will be the last chance to order for a while. (I believe if WHEELMAN is ordered before 5/31, it will be printed via Vox Dei. Let me know if you have any problems with this.)

May God continue to bless the stories being told. Fellow writer, Niki Krauss does a much better job of describing the process for her thus far and getting her story re-printed.

All told: the beach is still there, the sun is still there, and God still holds it all together. Amen.

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