Friday, July 17, 2015


I didn't know we were poor until my sister explained it to me when we were in our twenties.  We lived in the big house on the hill. We had food to eat from the garden and from Grandpa's farm.  We had bikes and skates and a toy or two at Christmas. We had television and cars and took vacations.

I thought everybody built their own house. I thought it was normal to wear the same dress for years as I grew through all of the matching hand-me-down dresses from the cousins.  I had sun and fun and laughter.  I don’ think it was poor.

I'm pretty oblivious to things going on around me.  Sure I knew my cousin always seemed to have multiples of the newest pet rock.  I figured it was because she was a spoiled brat.  (Turns out it was probably because she stole them but that is another story for another time.)  Sure there was that girl at school who had the amazing blue dress, actually lots of different dresses.  I figured it was because her grandmother didn't have so many grand-daughters.  I don't think that any of that was poor.

I had enough.  And enough is not poor.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Faith, Gravity and Dictators

Gravity exists.  We know that. Trying to deny gravity will cause the ground to quickly remind you that gravity is there.  We may not fully understand it but we have a pretty good notion of how it works.  It may be that future research changes our understanding.  But the outcome will be the same.  We have no choice but to live within the rules of gravity.

And yet, human nature is such that we have always tried to find ways to circumvent that about which we have no choice.  The story of Icarus and his wax and feather wings is an object lesson to those who would defy gravity.  Da Vinci's journals contain detailed descriptions of flying machines.  Climbing trees.  Soaring monuments.  Kites.  Hot air balloons.  Airplanes and rocket ships.  Defying the required order.  Finding ways around.

Dictators and tyrants are in the same boat as gravity.  They take a population and force obedience.  There may be great public outpourings of love and respect.  But humans will find ways to break free of that forced love and unearned respect.  The dictator has to always keep his feet beneath him. He can't trust anyone.  Loyalty taken by force and money can be bought by greater force and more money.  It can more easily be earned by a leader who delivers freedom of thought and action.  Humans want to go their own way and choose their own path.

Faith depends upon doubt.  If there is no doubt, it is not faith.  The existence of doubt makes faith appealing.  As humans we can choose to believe. We can pick the path that is right for us.  Because there is doubt, faith is a choice.  Any great leader would prefer to be chosen by his followers. Because earned love and respect engenders true loyalty.  So God has given us the choice to have faith and doubt or to robotically comply.  It is up to us to choose which sort of leaders we want, and we’ll get the ones we nurture. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Growing up, I loved Victorian houses.  I searched for gingerbread, wrought iron and widow's walks where ever we went.  I would imagine all sorts of adventures on those elegant roofs.  We lived in a Victorian era house when I was very small.  The gingerbread had been removed and the pocket doors were sealed into the walls.  I don't remember much about it.  I always figured that is where my love of ornate houses came from.

During my college years, the university theater guild advertised a showing of Mary Poppins.  I dragged my best friend to see it.  I knew that I had seen it during a magical summer when I was, again, very small.  I didn't really remember any of it.  I vaguely knew the story.  I just wanted to see it again.

As the opening scene started to unfold a sense of belonging washed over me.  By the time the canon went off, I knew.  I absolutely knew what I had been searching for all those years.  It was that street.  Those houses and that cannon. 

A subconscious memory that impinged upon my conscious behavior.  And still today. 

Oh.  To have a cannon on the roof. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Exit 73

My name is Gracey Newstead and this is my story.  Well, I think it is mine.  Sometimes I have a hard time telling where my story stops and the rest of the world begins.  So I guess the best thing to do is to start at the beginning.

I was found along the highway in Kentucky.  You guessed it.  Under the sign marking the exit for the towns of Gracey and Newstead.  When you are found under sign like that the name sort of sticks.  About the fourth or fourtieth time passing the exit it became clear that I had a story to tell.

I don't know where this is going or where it will end but you are welcome to come along for the ride.  I've got quite a few more trips to make past mile marker 73.