The Ideas You Get When You Clean Your Office


I just cleaned my office. I’m getting the work space ready for the next phase of supporting my new book Rescuing Christina. And also for starting my next project.

Rescuing Christina is now out in the wild, but so far it’s gotten very few bites. It’s okay. My job is to do the best I can, and that (so far) I have done. It’s always risky to take on a project, aspire to excellence, and then stumble and bungle along, learning through trial and error along the way. It’s like when I decided to teach myself how to install crown molding and picked the kitchen as the first room of the project. Kitchens have lots of inward corners, bull nose corners, short spans, long spans, and pillars that jut from the wall. Not fun. Caulk became my best friend. I went through six tubes. At least I’ve got relentless determination going for me.

I’m officially in the marketing stage of Rescuing Christina. It’s been a slow start; I’ve made the mistake of assuming I know what I’m doing. You see, early on I had beginner’s luck with Facebook ads. I couldn’t understand why so many people were signing up to get a free book in trade for subscribing to my email list. My ad campaigns generated something like 45 leads a day at .09 a lead for three weeks! And then it dawned on me. All of the leads were coming from one country. I wondered. So I did a little sleuthing. I found out that people who live in that particular country don’t have direct internet access to the larger book retailer sites. So they find books for free on Facebook. Heavy sigh.

But I’m not giving up. I’m just taking stock. Cleaning my office gives my subconscious the time it needs to process new ideas…or get over a major disappointment. I once wallpapered my entire kitchen in one weekend after learning that my business partners had sold our firm out from under those of us with a more junior stake. I didn’t say a word (well…I did roll my eyes a few times). But no words: I just wallpapered. You should try it.

As for my next project, I’m feeling drawn to write a book about World War II. I know nothing about World War II except what I learned from my oldest daughter at the dinner table, a free online course about Winston Churchill, and the first four episodes of Band of Brothers. Of course, there’s another reason I’m thinking about it. I recently came into possession of my great-uncle Julius Easton Slack’s personal effects. He served as a brigadier general under General Patton during World War II. There’s a lot of stuff: US Army binoculars, riding tack, side arm holsters, uniform paraphernalia, an American Flag, and hundreds of battlefield photographs, many stamped Confidential by the 166th Signal Photo Co. There are also two sets of dog tags and an ID bracelet engraved with “Brigadier General Julius E. Slack. US Army.”

The pictures are sobering. The men look like they’re straight out of a movie, but they weren’t in a movie. They were fighting for the freedom of the world. It’s a daunting realization, and for a second I feel shallow and cowardly. But just for a second. It’s not about me. It’s about bravery in the face of evil and the willingness to fight for the life of others. I wonder. I’m curious. It seems important.

It feels important.

Richard Rohr wrote about the concept of deep time. I don’t think I can explain it. I’m not sure I understand it. Strangely, I feel it more than I understand it. When I think of (or feel) deep time, I see the expanse of human existence over the ages, and I’m a part of it, formed and affected by those who came before me in my ancestral line, and influencing the formation of those to come after me.

It makes sense. Look at the Bible. God in His mysterious ways, allowed, engineered, and worked through hundreds of people and circumstances, crafting myriad stories, each it’s own, yet connected to the others. We can believe He continues His craft, and that each of us is part of the bigger story still being woven, and yet unfolding.

Which brings me to why I feel drawn to write a book about World War II. You see…my great uncle was involved in an interesting situation while serving under Patton. I’m intrigued. If I were to dig for more details, might I find a story worth telling? I don’t know, but I have this weird sense of obligation to those who came before me, including my uncle and even my revolutionary war great great great…(you get the point), grandfather who served under Washington. There’s a line of honor behind me. I feel I have a responsibility to acknowledge them in some meaningful way.