“I Am Groot” (and High School Biology)

Confession time: I have never seen an Avengers movie.

But if it can redeem me, I have seen one Marvel movie (which I am very grateful to have seen!) and that was Guardians of the Galaxy.  Which I loved.  Since I don’t have space, in one post, to analyze all five beautifully crafted lead characters, I want to talk about one: Groot.

Almost everyone can appreciate a good humanoid tree.  I have yet to talk to anyone who doesn’t love Groot, but really now, what’s not to like?  He is a walking, talking tree who can regenerate from one twig, whose vocabulary consists of I and am and Groot (in that order).

But my favorite thing about Groot is the way he grows.  From his habit of shooting up twice his original height to reach things for people, to the flower he spontaneously grows out of his palm for the beggar girl on Knowhere–I love the way he is simply bursting with life.  There’s a special place in my heart for the glowing firefly-like things he generates at the end.

What I did not realize until just recently was how appropriate this attribute was for a (sort-of) talking tree.


I’ve spent this school year finishing my high school biology course (“Exploring Creation with Biology” by Dr. Jay L. Wile), and I’m really enjoying it.  The latest chapter I finished was all about plants, including (of course) trees.

One thing Dr. Wile discussed was stems.  He pointed out that the stem you would typically think of as a plant stem (herbaceous stems) cannot grow any larger after they mature.  This is because they will crack the skin of the stem, and expose the inside of the plant to the elements.

Tree trunks (or woody stems), however, are another story.

Underneath the outer bark of a tree trunk is a layer called the cork cambium.  Its job is to produce new bark, underneath the old layer of bark.  This allows the tree to continue growing as long as it can and simply break through the bark, since there is always a new layer underneath.


Whether the makers of Guardians of the Galaxy were aware of this or not, I love how accurate their depiction of a “human tree” is; trees are literally cracking their own skin with the pressure of the life inside them!

Groot’s unquenchable, thriving growth is actually quite congruent with his real-world counterparts.


‘When that happens to a tree, you find that some have bad hearts.  Nothing to do with their wood: I do not mean that.  Why, I knew some good old willows down the Entwash, gone long ago, alas!  They were quite hollow, indeed they were falling all to pieces, but as quiet and sweet-spoken as a young leaf.’ (457)
The Tower Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Alright, we storytellers just love trees.

A Writer and the Word

Since I attended a girls’ conference when I was little more than a decade old and committed to read my Bible every day, I’ve known it was important for me to read the Bible as a Christian.

While I did not honor my original commitment very well at that stage, it was the beginning of my journey towards making the habit of picking up my Bible every day.  It’s a been a roller coast to say the least, but I stuck with it fairly well.

Then I started reading “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, and he posed the question: am I worshiping God while I form good habits, or have I started worshiping the habit itself?  And I began to wonder if I was worshiping the habit.  Was I reading my Bible to “be a good Christian” or to learn more about God?  In the circles I move in, reading your Bible every day is “cool”.  Was I persisting just so I could smile and answer affirmative if the topic of daily reading ever came up?

So I started to let myself take breaks.  I took the pressure off.  If I didn’t find time for the Bible, I would assure myself I was doing important things and God didn’t want me to spend all my time reading (like that argument would have carried a fleck of weight if we’d been discussing reading The Lord of the Rings instead *cough*).  And maybe if I remembered I would run through a psalm I had memorized before I fell asleep.

It’s not like you would have found my Bible a month later, in the back of a cupboard, covered in dust; I probably still read it most days.  But it certainly wasn’t a priority.  Even when I came to the conclusion it probably was beneficial to read it every day, it was still not top of the list.

But then I noticed a difference.  When I didn’t read the Bible, I was different–and I didn’t like the different me.  Reading God’s Word changed me.  And THAT was the beginning of another journey, towards prioritizing my Bible reading. . . again.

So I read the Bible every day; not because someone tells me I should, not as a safety net in case I’m asked, not even really because I want to know what’s in it.  I read the Bible every day because it makes me feel closer to God, and that’s where I want to be.

But what I didn’t anticipate was the how darn inspirational this reading plan was going to be–while I knew it was going to affect me spiritually, I didn’t expect it to affect my imagination.  My writer-brain gets on fire when I’ve been consistent in reading God’s Word.  I don’t why it took me seventeen years to understand it’s important to read the Bible as a storyteller.  It’s gotten to the point where I can hardly read my Bible anymore, if I’ve been consistent for days, because the story ideas come so fast while I read.

I mean, tell me this isn’t Middle Earth or Narnia-esque:

“But you, O God, are my king from of old;
you bring salvation upon the earth.
It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.”
-Psalm 74:12-14

And is this not just begging for a novelization?

“I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it.  And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it.  Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.  But nobody remembered that poor man.”
-Ecclesiastes 9:13-15

And that’s only two of many I’ve run across (Job, for instance, always just sets my imagination on fire!!).  I’m sure I’ll find more.

Good morning again

Good morning readers!  By the time any of you can read this scheduled post, it will be Sunday morning, and I’ll be on my way to church to find and hug my friends, and already missing my older siblings whose Christmas break from college has finally run out.

Man! has it been too long.  As a writer, I wanted–of course–to post all through December, about gifts and Jesus and the real meaning of things, and maybe write a short Christmas story: the whole shebang.

Needless to say, none of that happened: I posted once about Christmas, and left my blog to its fate.  I read Pride and Prejudice in two days (it was exhausting but I cannot put that book down for the life of me!) and I re-read A Christmas Carol just for the giggly Christmas-feels.  I stressed about life while simultaneously abandoning the real world, and I epic-ly failed at giving Christmas presents.  I stayed up late unloading my heart on my family and crying (more than once), and I wrote several thousand words in a messy first draft of “Nieo & Star”.

Christmas break was a whirlwind, and sadly included no blogging.  I’m back to school now, but we’ll see how it goes.  Maybe I’ll be back.

‘What do you mean?’ he said.  ‘Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?’ (13)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

(Side note: if you say that quote replacing good morning with merry Christmas, you sound like Scrooge.  Just try it.)

Good morning, my good hobbits!  And a late merry Christmas, whether you want it or not.