Three days with family in glorious Chicago brought a summer's worth of memories. With a daughter's fall wedding, my budget thanks this Midwestern gem of a city--my city, with all it has to offer--for perhaps my only vacation.
Wednesday morning I boarded the northbound Amtrak, then let the clackety clack of train wheels spread goose bumps over my arms. What will the nephew I haven't seen in fourteen years look like? Act like? How will Switzerland have treated my expatriate brother since we last visited?
Can I somehow bottle up the essence of Chicago in three days and lavish it on the skin, heart, and soul of my 79-year-old mother, her friend, my brother and nephew?
Before we left the Normal train station, God brought my way a seat partner named John, a 29-year-old now searching for answers in college textbooks that he hadn't found overseas in Pakistan and Iraq. Thank God the Holy Spirit scooted into our seat. Oh, how I pray You prepared John's heart, Lord, for the words I shared.
After the train deposited me in Union Station, I managed to stagger by old loves, the main branch of the Chicago Public Library and the Art Institute, without giving in to withdrawal pain, deserting my family, and spending the day with Monet and Van Gogh and Stegner and Brooks...
Family-bound and a bit woozy from the fight with my tempetuous old loves, I rolled my bag up bumpy Michigan Avenue sidewalks to our hotel and...my relatives. My brother embraced me, and I let his tobacco and space smell wash over my soul. One look at my nephew brought my brother's lively brown eyes, my brother's nice smile...and a new love! An embrace and smile from Mother showed that the Great Physician was helping her trump the residual effects of chemo. Also along for the trip was Mom's best friend Ardis, my daughter, and her fiance.
With our wide range of ages, interests, and stamina levels, I demanded much of Chicago. And Chicago did not disappoint!
We ate deep-dish pizza, strolled through Millenium Park's amazing gardens and watched children jump and dip through its zany water fountains. My camera-savvy nephew caught our reflection in The Bean. The Hancock Tower let us gloat over the lowly streetbound humans, both by sun- and moonlight. The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel turned and rose, just to bring the skyscrapers--frozen music--tantalizingly close.
That night, we tucked into luxurious accommodations at the Allerton for a fraction of the usual Michigan Avenue boutique hotel prices. Open windows allowed cool Lake Michigan breezes to kiss our cheeks. Horn honks and sirens soothed me in that strange way of one who truly loves all that a big city has to offer.
I went to sleep whispering thanks for the Allerton staff who'd shared local restaurants, guided my gang into the hotel parking garage, opened doors, punched elevator buttons, treating us as if we were royalty and not a plain old family playing tourist and taking Chicago for all it had to offer.
The next morning, Amtrak delivered my husband and son for a brief day visit, and we experienced even more of what Chicago has to offer. Bus rides. Long walks. Hyde Park. Secret Service. Obama's home. Designer stores. Another great restaurant. The homeless.
It was my daughter who started our connection with the raggedy folks shaking cups, holding signs, bundled like Eskimos in layers of dark clothing, wool caps failing to cover disheveled hair.
"I can't just walk by them like they're invisible," she explained as she and her fiance darted into a Starbucks and purchased muffins.
"You're right," I said, wondering how I had managed to do that very thing.
"I mean, they're people, and they deserve a 'hello.' A smile. A muffin."
On Thursday, after my sweet daughter and her fiance left for Indiana, her statements lingered in my mind, and I determined to continue her legacy, one restaurant meal at a time.
"Could you give me an order of what I just had?" I asked my server. "Pack it to go, and I'll get it...right before we leave."
Our family meal continued. Luscious buckwheat pancakes. Plump, juicy blueberries. Succulent oranges. Good conversation. Then I got up, grabbed the sack that the waitress had set near my plate. "I'll be right back," I told everyone.
"Aunt Patti!" My nephew caught me just outside the door. "I want to go with you."
"You know, in Germany, they wouldn't do this for these people," my nephew whispered, in perfect English.
I swallowed hard as we veered around a knot of businessmen. "It's complicated, helping the homeless." Could I condense all I'd learned through my ministry work and my daughter's summer internship with the homeless in Seattle into a few brilliant statements for my German nephew? No. But once again, the Holy Spirit showed up. Thank God.
"I wouldn't do it either, except for Jesus," I continued. "You know, He tells us to lose our lives for the sake of others. He tells us to help those in need, to give our coat if need be. It is because of Christ that I do this. Certainly not because I am good or nice or anything like that."
We served those delightful pancakes to a middle-aged man in a park. Prayed with him. Gave hot coffee to a young woman named Meridian who was digging various Starbucks cups out of a Michigan Avenue trash and emptying them into a 32-ounce Big Gulp container. For the rest of that trip, we saw the best that Chicago had to offer. One homeless person at a time.
The king will answer them, 'I tell you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me (Matthew 25:40).
Front Page Headlines
Sequel to "Tattooed by Jesus!"
January 24, 2017
2017 brings three research projects...and a new book! » read story
"Tattooed for Jesus" cover
March 23, 2015
A cover picked from Illinois State University's gifted Design Streak Studio class! » read story
Book signing tomorrow!!! May 31 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
See you at Heyworth Public Library!+ » read story
April 16, 2014
Snowdrfits and -19 temperatures = great winter writing! » read story
"Reclaiming Lily" giveaway!
February 18, 2014
Bethany House generosity soothes winter blues!! » read story
2014 Begins with a Blizzard!
January 27, 2014
New writing partner? Hercules, the Arctic Vortex! » read story
Phases and Stages...
October 26, 2013
Oh, the phases and stages of life! ! I've said good-bye to relatives and dear friends this year, partnered with a talented friend to capture the memoir of an extraordinary Louisiana lady, and set aside for the moment work on three fiction projects. Through it all, God has placed His Hand on my shoulder and still whispers the words, the themes, the approach. » read story
Four projects...and a swirl of gray matter!
January 23, 2013
First it was the Irishwoman, way back in 2008. Next came What the Bayou Saw, a story from my roots. 2011 brought two books in one year. What's new for 2013? » read story
July 9, 2012
Jesus spoke of it often. Ha Jin novelized it.
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It's official! I signed a contract with Bethany House to write the latest story God laid on my heart, Reclaiming Lily. » read story
The Rhythm of Secrets
July 25, 2010
Look for the Rhythm of Secrets in January of 2011! » read story
The Rhythm of Secrets
February 23, 2010
Manuscript My Name is Sheba transformed into The Rhythm of Secrets » read story
Contract for My Name is Sheba
January 20, 2010
Kregel Publications has signed a contract to publish My Name is Sheba!
Mardi Gras celebration going on here!! » read story
Even Old Dogs Learn New Tricks
December 1, 2009
This old dog has got a real-life blog! Why don't y'all come over and see me sometime?? » read story
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
November 1, 2009
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One...
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, share a blessing, and you will be entered in a random drawing for a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card » read story/enter contest
October 30, 2009
Becky Tidwell, CONGRATULATIONS!
It was an IMPOSSIBLE task!
How did I DO IT? Burp! Burp! Read on!
P.S. Thanks for a month of laughs!!! » read story
Random drawing for nothing less than awesome!
October 16, 2009
Hey! Wanna visit my other blog? Read on! Or is that write on??? » read story
Writer returns to Southern roots
October 15, 2009
Metarie rocked as friends, family, and N'Awlins bibliophiles swamped one of American's most gorgeous Barnes &Nobles stores Oct 10. » read story
Writer again returns to roots--in the classroom!
October 15, 2009
Bleachers filled with scrubbed, smiling students--and God--provided supernatural energy. What a blessing it was to share my passion for writing! » read story
Calling All Mascot-Lovers. Rah! Rah! Rah!
October 1, 2009
In a rare spirit of compromise, this sports disliker will send a $15 Target gift card to some lucky visitor! The catch? Just name your favorite team mascot. » read story/enter contest
A Lose-Lose Situation!
September 30, 2009
Have you ever been in a lose-lose situation? Choosing ONE winner from this contest was IMPOSSIBLE--so I had my son pick a number from my "finalist" entries. The winner is.....Pat Grau!
Read on about an amazing wedding gift...at an amazing wedding. » read story
Wonderful times at area bookstores
September 28, 2009
Dear friends, my heart pulses with gratitude at your enthusiastic support during my appearances at the Hoerr Berean Grand Openings this past weekend. As always, I gain much more by YOUR appearance than you ever do by mine! » read story
The Miraculous Moment Arrives
September 23, 2009
As long as my synapses fire, I will cherish the mind's image of my daughter, aglow in her ivory gown, floating down the aisle on the arm of my husband, more handsome than he was when WE walked down the aisle 32 years ago.
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HOW TO STAY BUSY PREWEDDING
September 14, 2009
Only FIVE MORE DAYS till we Lacys celebrate our FIRST WEDDING! What am I doing to stay busy?? » read story
54-year-old learns to blog!
September 11, 2009
So you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! » read story
September 1, 2009
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share a wedding memory! It can tickle my funny bone, bring tears to my eyes. Why am I doing this? READ ON!!! » read story/enter contest
August Contest Winner
August 31, 2009
Kudos to Carrie Turansky and Charity: water! You've won the August website contest! Read on, folks, to learn about a heroic group! » read story
Writer Returns to Scene of Crime
August 4, 2009
Oh, I had a blast whooping it up at Books A Million, scene of a former crime--I mean book signing--in Terre Haute. » read story
July 31, 2009
The unchurched in Bangladesh. An orphanage in the Ukraine. A soup kitchen in your own downtown. What organizations pull at your heart--and your billfold? For the August contest, I'm offering a $50 check to the registered charity of your choice AND a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card to the winning entrant.
» read story
Saving the Best for Last
July 30, 2009
South Bend has been added to my list of the Midwest's favorite cities. Wanna know why? » read story
Congratulations, Virginia Campbell
July 30, 2009
Dear readers, thanks for lovely memories! It was harder to pick one name than it is to choose a truffle from a Godiva box. How I'd like to choose every entry!
Here's the top choices. Enjoy! » read story
Leaving the best of me behind
July 25, 2009
I left the best of me in Marion...but it's time to move on » read story
Day three (continued)
July 24, 2009
Jamey Johnson's and Selah's music carry me onward and upward. » read story
Day three, Indiana trip
July 23, 2009
Uncommon persons of the Fort Wayne kind... » read story
Day two, Indiana trip
July 22, 2009
An author criss-crosses Indiana...and finds hospitality in the heart of Nagaland. » read story
Day one of Indiana Road Trip
July 20, 2009
Blessings about from the Hoosier state! Just for fun, I'm blogging about God-stops along the way. Read more... » read story
Another reason to write
July 14, 2009
God, you deliver new mercies with every morning. Oh, how I delight to see what's next... » read story
4th of July memories
July 1, 2009
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift certificate, share your favorite Independence Day memory. Can't wait to hear from y'all! » read story/enter contest
A Writer's Dream Day
June 30, 2009
Number of pages written? Zero. Value of twenty-four hour period? Priceless. » read story
Congratulations, Jeanne Graves!
June 30, 2009
Apparently quite a few of my readers are itching to get away, several to the Holy Land! Read on... » read story
Critique partner does it again!
June 26, 2009
Don't miss Dream Chasers, by Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke! » read story
Calling all readers!
June 25, 2009
Don't miss The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! » read story
Don't Miss This Opportunity!
June 12, 2009
Calling all writers! Don't miss this chance to improve your writing...and your relationship with God! » read story
When the world caves in, head to Warrensburg
June 11, 2009
How can a small library in a town of 1,500 people make a difference? Read on... » read story
Wanna Get Away?
June 1, 2009
If you had unlimited time and money--yeah, we're summer dreaming--what getaway spot would you choose? Think big, think bold--and you just might win a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card!
Now for a different take on summer vacation, read All That Chicago Has to Offer » read story/enter contest
May 31, 2009
Congratulations, Diana! YOU--and Estee Lauder--are the big winners of May's Perfumania winner. READ Diana's poignant story of perfume...and memory. Then check out the top ten fragrances! » read story
Why I Write
May 21, 2009
Bad reviews. Lonely early mornings...and late nights. Plummeting sales.
Why DO I write? » read story
May flowers...and memories
May 1, 2009
I've always loved the season that brings perky daffodils, elegant tulips, shockingly orange poppies with their sassy black eye. But Daddy introduced me to a glorious world of flower fragrance--at the men's cologne counter of a department store!
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, name your favorite perfume, and describe it! » read story/enter contest
Easter Memory contest winner
April 30, 2009
Congratulations to Gayla Collins, the winner of the Easter memory contest. Thanks to the many who shared from their treasure trove of Easters present...and past. Be sure to read all about 'em under Favorites/Lists! » read story
Easter memory contest!
April 1, 2009
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share YOUR most poignant Easter memory. Contest begins TODAY and will end on April 30.
» read story/enter contest
Winner, March contest!
April 1, 2009
Thanks, all of you who submitted heartwarming entries for the latest contest. Congratulations to Susanne Schurter, the winner of March's "Your Hero" contest! Read more for a poignant article by a wonderful young writer. » read story
March 3, 2009
I have a new hero, my baby brother, who is159th Fighter Wing Commander of the Air Guard in New Orleans, Louisiana. He's fought against both human forces and the forces of nature who've tried to destroy us and recently gave this speech at the wing change of command ceremony.
For the March contest, tell me your flesh-and-blood, modern-day hero. Winner receives a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card! » read story/enter contest
March 2, 2009
Congratulations, Ariel! You won the February Memories contest. Read my five favorite memories!l And thanks, Readers, for sharing your romantic secrets! » read story
Valentine's memory contest!
February 1, 2009
Pull out old love cards, faded corsages, and empty chocolate boxes. For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share your favorite Valentine's memory by February 29. Top entries will be posted under Headline News » read story/enter contest
Congratulations, Kelly Ann Thuet!
January 31, 2009
Congratulations, Kelly Ann Thuet, for your winning entry! READ these entertaining and poignant snow stories! And don't miss Diane Baum's poignant Christmas memory, which got lost in my mass of files.
Check out Favorites/Lists to see if YOUR entry made the Top Twenty! » read story
Congratulations, Rachel Robertson!
January 5, 2009
Congratulations, Rachel Robertson! You're December's contest winner!
Read Rachel's poignant Christmas memory--and the finalists who wowed me and my son Thomas, the judges! » read story
December's Christmas Memories Contest
December 1, 2008
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share your favorite Christmas memory! May the peace of Christ Jesus wash over you as you ponder His glorious sacrifice for mankind. Feliz Navidad! » read story/enter contest
November 30, 2008
Congratulations to Martha Artyomenko, winner of the November contest!
Get ready to salivate as you read all about it!
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Winner, October Contest
October 30, 2008
Congratulations, Deb Cleveland, for winning a $15 Barnes & Noble gift certificate with your wonderful entry to the "It's Time for Revival Contest." » read story
It's Time for Revival!
October 1, 2008
October contest: "Revive us again, Lord. Revive us again."
For a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card, read more! » read story/enter contest
September contest: best school days memory
September 2, 2008
Congratulations to Christy Hawkes, winner of a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card. Thanks to all the wonderful entries--check out some of my favorites at the Favorites/Lists feature on this website. Now for Christy's entry... » read story
The Audience of One
August 9, 2008
Have you been slapped by a verbal rebuff from someone in the publishing industry? Spit upon by a rejection letter from that agent of your dreams? Perhaps this article is for you... » read story
August Contest winner: Deathbed memory
August 2, 2008
Congratulations to Jane Squires, winner of the August contest. Jane will receive a $15 Barnes & Noble card. Thanks for the fabulous entries! » read story/enter contest
A Bit o' Irish in All of Us
March 1, 2008
Kregel Publications has recently announced the release date of my first novel, tentatively titled An Irishwoman's Tale, as August 31, 2008.
To celebrate (and because March 17 is St. Patrick's Day), I'm honoring the Irish among us (or in us) for this month's contest! » read story
The 2007 ACFW National Convention in Dallas
October 17, 2007
Over five hundred writers gathered in Dallas to praise God, eat chocolate, fine-tune their writing craft, conduct a bit of business, socialize, did I mention eat chocolate? The keynote speaker, James Bell, admonished us to, "never stop learning, never stop writing, never stop reading." » read story
Patti's Writing News
September 17, 2007
An Irishwoman's Tale, Patti Lacy's first novel, will be published in the summer of 2008 by Kregel Publications.
Unsettled Waters: A Story of Deception, is now complete!
To read more... » read story
Freedom to Read, Even in Jail?
July 15, 2007
"Across the nation, religious texts are disappearing from America's prison libraries." » read story
Setting an Example
April 27, 2007
Ninety-six-year-old published for first time! » read story
The Raging Battle
April 22, 2007
A teacher's struggle to make a difference in the life of a student named Amber. » read story
A Slow Learner's Writing Plan
February 21, 2007
So you want to be a writer...What's your next step? If you've picked up a pen... » read story