Andrea Lucado joins our chat circle this week. My husband and I have had the privilege of knowing Andrea and her family for about twenty-five years. I watched Andrea grow from a little tyke crawling around on the church pews to the beautiful debut author of English Lessons.
Please join our conversation. Andrea is offering an autographed book to someone who comments below. I will announce the winner next Tuesday, the 30th, on this site, Facebook, and Twitter.
Congratulations to Marilyn Ridgway, winner of an autographed copy of English Lessons. All Marilyn did was comment, so join in this coming week’s chat for a chance to win another author’s book.
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Andrea Lucado, the girl
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. As a pastor’s daughter, church felt like my home. I spent as much time there as I did in our house. I knew every hallway and back staircase. I learned about Jesus in that church. It’s where I met some of my lifelong best friends and where I felt most comfortable.
From San Antonio, I traveled to West Texas to attend school at Abilene Christian University and studied abroad in Oxford. I fell in love with the city and vowed to go back and live there one day.
After I graduated from ACU, I did just that. I lived in Oxford for a year and attended a school called Oxford-Brookes University where I earned my master’s in English Literature. I also started blogging while I was there. I prophetically titled my blog “English Lessons.” (Tweet That!)
Andrea Lucado, the grown-up author
English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith released May 2, and man, has it been a journey. The writing process was pretty organic. I sat down one morning at 5:30 before work (I was working in book publishing at the time) to write just for fun. I hadn’t done that in a long time. I thought I would write about women’s issues. Women in the church or women and beauty. Something like that.
Andrea’s Writing Journey
Instead, I wrotea story about two people I met while I was living abroad in Oxford. I wrote about the park we sat in, what the weather was like and what we had talked about. I wrote about how we walked to an ice cream shop andwhat I had worn. Navy shorts and a pink top. For the next several months I continued to get up at 5:30 on Mondays and write and all that came out were stories from Oxford.
After a few months of writing for fun, I started collecting these stories into essay-form. I sent a few to my dad (also a writer) and asked what he thought. With his encouragement I kept going until I had a good ten chapters finished. My dad’s agent, one of our best family friends, agreed to represent me. He has been such a gift!
I think the hardest part of the process was when it came time to send my work to the people I wrote about. Because it’s a memoir, I was required to get story release forms from most of the people mentioned in the book. That felt incredibly vulnerable and while most of my friends were very kind about the whole thing, a few of them were not thrilled to be in a book. I had to cut chapters and make major edits. It was hard to get their feedback but also a very stretching and strengthening time. I learned that as a writer, I will never please everyone. (Tweet That!)
What’s Next for Andrea Lucado
I haven’t started working on another book yet, but I hope to soon. I want to see through this release of English Lessons and be sure I do it well. Then, I will sit down and see what comes out. English Lessons is largely about faith and doubt.(Tweet That!)
The year I lived in England I asked those big questions: Why do I believe what I believe? Would I still be a Christian if I hadn’t been raised in a Christian home? Etc.
Now I ask different questions but they do include doubt. Doubt in God’s character, in his goodness. My relationship with him has deepened so much since Oxford. Perhaps my next book will be about that.
Lord, You’re our refuge in times of trouble, our safe harbor in storms. You’re our good Shepherd who leads us into green pastures beside still waters. You restore us and feed us and comfort us. What more could we want? Thank you for Your faithfulness.
Bless Andrea as she seeks you and shares her insights with readers. ~ For Jesus’ sake
Forensics. Fingerprints. Forget feelings or faith. Follow the blood evidence. CSI fans can tell you all about it.
So can Lee Strobel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who took a dare to prove Jesus a fake. In his best-selling book, The Case for Christ, Strobel chronicles his nine-year search all the way to the Holy Land and to the conclusions he reached based on the evidence. The movie, The Case for Christ, is profoundly significant on this week before Easter. (My copy is almost 20 years old!)
Which got me to thinking …
I chat weekly with fellow authors who’ve been called to write faith stories. But in light of the movie, The Case for Christ, and Holy Week, and–frankly–a Facebook post by niece, Sarah Brooks–I’m taking a detour to pursue a different, and yet similar, path–a trail of evidence somewhat like Strobel’s. I’m looking for faith evidence–the blood and fingerprints kind–in a case involving a 5-year-old child named Wilson Beckett Brooks.
Frankly, his parents–Taylor and Sarah (Sparks) Brooks–have been dumbstruck by Beckett’s exuberance. So have the members of The Hills Church in North Richland Hills, Texas who witness Beckett’s ever-so-faithful snapping of his camera shutter beside the baptistry. (Check it out!)
Speaking of dumbstruck …
Occasionally I endure a down day. (The picture above does NOT illustrate “down day,” by the way.) My natural tendency is to collapse inward and draw the drapes and crawl into bed and cover my head. But if I go to Sarah’s blog, Life as of Late, I’m dumbstruck to find the truth of Psalm 17:22a (A cheerful heart is good medicine) in a quirky kind of Technicolor. Sarah presents life in the Brooks household in all its realness and zaniness and joy (Check it out!), and tucked into the center is a gem of wisdom. You’re in for a treat here!
But I digress …
Back to finding faith evidence to explain how 5-year-old Beckett fell so unabashedly in love with Jesus, I put on my CSI hat and discover he’s covered with his mom’s and dad’s fingerprints, but since I’m a Brooks, I’ll examine Taylor’s prints on the Brooks branch of Beckett’s family tree.
As a bit of a genealogy freak, I could go back ten or more generations, but I’ll begin with the first Brooks for whom I have a photograph: George Brooks, 1872-1936. Did this g-g-grandfather of Beckett’s leave fingerprints anywhere? Let’s see …
George Harmon Brooks
My grandfather, died before I was born, so I have secondhand knowledge alone, but it’s reliable–the testimony of my father, George’s son, and my mother, George’s daughter-in-law. To say the very least, George Brooks exuded enthusiasm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He preached it through his gift of song.
My mother, one of the congregants who “experienced” George Brooks firsthand, was mesmerized by his voice and his ability to draw folks into the song service. Not one to take no for an answer, Mr. Brooks folded his soft-sided song book into a roll and beat the rhythm on the palm of his other hand. Oh, George Brooks wasn’t content to stand at the front with a song book in one hand and the other raised, counting out the beats ever so methodically. No, he walked up and down the aisles as he sang and called on the silent ones to join in. “If you can talk, you can sing!” Mr. Brooks would declare, and he meant it. (Tweet That!)
Think you can’t sing? Let George Brooks take you aside, and you’ll learn real quick that you can. Think you can’t stand at the front and lead a song? Let George Brooks get a hold of you, and you’ll change your tune. (Excuse the pun!)
Yes-Sir-Eee-Bob! George Brooks left fingerprints–on his son, Wilson.
Wilson Freeman Brooks
Iknow Wilson Freeman Brooks‘s fingerprints firsthand. The greatest honor of my life–aside from God’s grafting me into His family tree–is calling Wilson Brooks “Daddy.”
Daddy was born the second son of George Brooks, a man who could get anybody to sing but couldn’t seem to make a decent living. Dirt-poor but faith-rich, they struggled on the Texas Panhandle, but the crucible of poverty produced Daddy, a great man by all accounts.
A home and family of his own
Wilson Brooks and Goldie Banks married in 1935. He was earning $5 a week as a farm hand. They lived in little more than a shack Mother considered a palace since she was living in a barn when they married. Daddy taught his first Bible class when he was 21, and he never stopped. Matter of fact, he taught a class–from his wheelchair–just days before he died.
More reserved than his father, Daddy could lead the singing like nobody’s business, and folks joined in. A real treat was when he sang in a quartet, always the tenor part. And–oh–the precious memories he and Mother created in our family-and-friends circle, singing faith. (Click below to listen to our sibling acapella quartet using shaped notes at Mother’s funeral.)
Afine physical specimen as a young man, Daddy developed his muscles not in a gym but by plain ol’ hard work. As a farmer he knew his work never really ended. There was always something that needed doing. But nothing got in the way of church–not a cotton crop or even a flood so severe he had to put his family into a farm trailer and pull it by tractor over the water-covered dirt road. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and every night of Gospel meetings, Daddy showed up with his family, Bible in hand, ready to teach a class, lead a song, or even take the preacher’s place in the pulpit. I couldn’t count the times he–rather than the preacher–was called on to counsel someone, to lead a sinner to Christ, or to understand some theological or doctrinal point of Scripture.
Fingerprints of a Father
I still see the golden glow of the ceiling light over the kitchen table and Daddy sitting there with his Bible, sometimes alone, other times with his children or a friend, excavating God’s Truth. And at church, welcoming visitors and encouraging folks out front after the last Amen.
Proud of his family? And devoted? No one surpassed Wilson Brooks. In love with God’s Truth? No one fell harder than Wilson Brooks. Oh yes. Wilson Brooks’s fingerprints are all over the place, but nowhere more clearly etched than on his son, Dale.
Wilson Dale Brooks
Dale was a late-in-life surprise for Mother and Daddy. With children ranging from 19 to 11, the birth of another son was almost more joy than Daddy could contain. I never shall forget how his face beamed with joy the day they told us a baby was coming. Dale was my baby doll. I dressed him up and rocked him and fed him and even tended him when he came down with chickenpox.
Unlike his three siblings, Dale never knew Daddy as a man with physical strength. You see, our father was stricken by an undiagnosable muscle malady similar to ALS when Dale was a preschooler. As the rest of us headed off to college and married life, Dale grew up chair side and bedside by Daddy, talking with him, helping dress and feed him, and driving around “the fields” to check on the crops.
With a father confined to home and then burying him when he was 14, Dale never enjoyed Daddy’s wholehearted pride and joy over his high school athletic and academic successes. He never knew what his brothers and I experienced–a father who chaperoned events, traveled on buses with them, and applauded their extraordinary accomplishments–but he did benefit from the best of Wilson Brooks–his love and enthusiasm for the Truth of God and Jesus, God’s Son, even in the worst of his physical trials.
Emerging from his personal crucible at Daddy’s gravesite and along lonely rows of cotton and sugar cane, Dale followed in his father’s footsteps. He set his sights on Jesus. He had the good sense to marry Cherie Vess in 1978 and, like his father before him, dedicated his home and family to God. Fingerprints? Oh, you bet. Dale has left fingerprints on his daughters, Evy and Ellen, and his son, Taylor.
Wilson Taylor Brooks
With two older sisters, Taylor was born the sole male twig to bear Daddy’s name for future generations. As smart and kind and good and Truth-and-family loving as his father and grandfathers before him, Taylor has established a home where Jesus is the heart, the dead center, of his family, and has shown himself to be worthy in every sense to wear his grandfather’s name.
Wilson Beckett Brooks
All of which brings me back around to Taylor’s firstborn son, Beckett Brooks, and his camera. Check out Sarah’s Facebook post about Beckett’s latest gig as his church’s newest “official” photographer. Beckett’s love for God’s Word (and his mother’s fun-filled guidance) here. And the little boys he’s big brother to here.
Oh … about that blood thing. Sure enough, I found blood evidence in my investigation. It’s called “bloodline” or DNA on Ancestry. But in the Bible, it’s the blood of the Lamb. I’m with Beckett on this one. Get out your camera, folks! It’s time to celebrate!
Hallelujah! Praise God for Jesus … Passover … Holy Week … Good Friday … and, best of all, Resurrection Sunday!
P.S. Thank the Lord for Beckett Brooks and his faith!