I've heard a lot of references to it lately. In movies, in TV, personal conversations, overhearing other conversations. It seems the concept of "time" is on everybody's mind these days.
- "Time is a predator. It's stalking you."
- "Time is running out. The world cannot go on like this indefinitely."
- "Time is what you make it."
- "Ain't nobody got time for that."
I don't know if it's my own physical mortality taking notice because I realize I have much less time ahead of me than I have behind me. Or maybe it's "my ear to the ground," listening for the "thief in the night," who will come and snatch me away to be with Him as His follower (Matthew 24:41-42). The times we live in sure look like they could be the Last Days. Yet, when you think about it, we all have "last days," don't we? Every generation has. Today could be your last day of your last days. Or this month of March could be. Or maybe the remainder of 2023. Jesus could come back before you finish reading this blog post.
Point is, God has counted every hair on your head and mine. He knows us that well. And for some of us, it didn't take Him long to complete the mathematical procedure. :-) He also knows how much longer we have on this round rock we call Earth. This world isn't going to last forever. He's going to make it implode (2 Peter 3:10). He's going to create a New Heaven and a New Earth for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Revelation 21). He's going to make things like they were intended to be back in Genesis 1-3, before the serpent showed up and lied to Adam and Eve.
In light of all this, how are you spending your time? And is it in the presence of God Almighty? An everyday presence that reflects and shines forth the rock-solid truth that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, just like Jesus said it was?
I hope so. If not, they're are people praying for you. The Holy Spirit is calling, nudging, pointing the way, doing everything He can. But He won't drag you kicking and screaming into heaven. And Jesus is waiting patiently, with open arms, to welcome you in as a brother or sister. And God is waiting too. Waiting for you to finally "see the truth" and come to an understanding of who you are in light of Who He is (Matthew 5:3).
It's at that moment in your life when you can truly say, "Time is simply something this dying world laments. But in the Kingdom of Heaven, time is eternal, so it need not be feared."
It's also moments like these when a writer captures such sentiments and wraps them up in a thing we call a "book."
This brings us to our next guest on the Florida Front Porch, where the rain has been little, the pollen has been much, the heat has been record-setting, and allergy season is in full bloom! We'd love to have some graupel about now.
Please welcome fellow Word Weavers author, Tracy Smoak!
Tracy, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Tracy Smoak?
A native Floridian, Tracy L. Smoak grew up in Clermont riding horses and climbing citrus trees. Her passion is to encourage others in their faith journey. She is an author who loves photography. She has a wacky sense of humor and adores eating chocolate.
I remember when the Clermont area had citrus trees. From the Citrus Tower, you could actually see citrus. Now, it should be called the "Rooftop Tower," because that's all you seem now. Homes and businesses everywhere.
If you could go back and have a “do over” concerning something in your life (we’re thinking about something non-writing related here), what would you have done differently?
I never would have worn open-toed sandals to work at the maximum-security prison where I taught GED classes to young men!
There's a story there...want to elaborate in the comment section below? Or maybe not.
There's a story there...want to elaborate in the comment section below? Or maybe not.
Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?
Photography is a joy! I love sneaking up on wildlife during nature walks to capture an image. Gardening and flower arranging also are favorite pastimes.
Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?
God does have a sense of humor as He invites me to write about areas of my deepest pain such as job loss and failure. The novel that is coming out in June 2023 started with the grief surrounding watching my dad have a massive heart attack the morning of Thanksgiving Day in 2011.
For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?
I adopted a pit bull six years ago through Cornerstone Hospice’s Pet Peace of Mind program. He snores loudly and rumbles when his back gets scratched. He strolls through the neighborhood as though he were the mayor chatting up constituents.
Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook?
In 2011, I wrote Who Brought the Dog to Church? and had an editor commit to a contract. Unfortunately, she soon lost her position as the publishing industry reeled from ebook impacts. Then I had a literary agent represent the book. No luck, so I literally threw the manuscript in the closet for a decade. Gave up on the dream completely. Twelve years later after dusting off the work and going to a writers’ conference in 2021, I got the contract with Ambassador International after deleting fifty pages that were outdated and revising to add seventy more.
It's all about God's timing. (Where have I heard about this "time" thing before...?)
Who Brought the Dog to Church? makes me laugh out loud at the characters’ crazy antics. (One may suggest therapy as I “talk” with my imaginary friends LOL). But the story also touches on deeper themes of dealing with grief after the death of a loved one and how to help women trying to escape domestic violence. During 2011, I also trained as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and met many courageous people. Part of why I never gave up on the story was because I think many who are trapped in abusive relationships will find hope.
Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them?
I want to cry, then stomp around a while. A veteran reviewer early on gave me great advice: Ignore hurtful reviews, particularly if the writer isn’t coming from a Christian perspective. My job is to write as best as I can for Kingdom glory. If not everyone enjoys the work, then that is their prerogative.
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?
I do lots of crazy things when I think God is calling me to move forward in faith. I lived in a Mongolian ger during a mission there. I got locked up with young men ages 17 to 21 so that I could teach and maybe even touch a heart with hope. I even dodge snakes walking through the woods and marshes to get photographs for the devotionals I write.
Why do you live where you live?
I live in Florida because I can go barefoot most of the time and live in shorts. The sun usually shines and creates a diamond effect on the lakes. The natural scenery is breathtaking.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?
Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you.”
I get bored easily and like having adventures. This passage makes feel confident that if I keep asking to
grow, God will guide me.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?
Thank you to Kevin and the other members of the Lake County Word Weavers writers’ critique group. They supported me in 2021 when I showed up at a meeting grousing silently to God about why was He asking me to write again when the doors closed a decade ago. That merry Word Weavers crew encouraged me and gave me hope.
We are a merry little band of writers. A group that keeps growing, by the way. It has been interesting to see how God has developed the group over the ten years or so.
Thank you, Tracy, for taking time to share with our readers. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap things up?
If you like to view short videos with Scripture, music and nature art, please check out my YouTube channel at youtube.com/@tracysmoak. I also have a playlist there “Carnival of Craziness” to provide resources for survivors of domestic violence.
Also, I have another project coming out soon! It's a Bible study with Bold Vision Books, titled Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place. The book cover isn't quite ready yet, so I can't share it here. But it will be on my website as soon as it's finalized. We will be starting the edits later this month.
Readers, in addition to that YouTube Channel, you can also find Tracy at these locations:
Readers, as always, it's fun to introduce you to authors you may or may not have heard about before and give you the opportunity to meet them, get to know them, and possibly find a new author you like.
Until June 2023, take care!
PS - Did you know? Kevin's latest work, a novella titled, The Near Distant: Eye of the Beholder, was announced on March 2nd as a finalist in the Novella category of the 2023 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Awards! Winners will be announced in May at the conference.