#Blogtober2021 Day 15: Oops, I did it again.

“I played on my tablet… got lost in a game…”

That’s literally what happened. Some dear friends came over this evening to celebrate my birthday. A delightful time of fellowship and delicious pizza and cheesecake.

Once that was over, everyone went home, and we had finished cleaning up, I started playing a puzzle game on my tablet called The Room 2. Basically a combo puzzle-box / escape room style game. Aaaaand I lost track of time.

It’s time for bed. Streak broken. Oh well. Catch ya later on today.

#Blogtober2021: Forty-one Random Facts About Me.

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com
  1. When I was in high school, we had a very hard-working drama teacher but no actual theater department (or budget), so we put on a “Broadway Revue”-style production when I was in 11th or 12th grade. I sang “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” from Les Miserables and brought the house down. Grown men wept. (At least, that’s how I remember it.)
  2. I’m a Chicago Cubs fan for 3 main reasons: because my dad was; because we could watch the games on WGN; and because Ryne Sandberg was a beast (and is still my favorite ballplayer of all time).
  3. I read The Chronicles of Narnia 3 times through in elementary school, and almost completed a 4th run but decided to skip Dawn Treader, my least favorite of the series as a child. When I reread the series as an adult, it became one of my favorites.
  4. I still vividly remember when my parents gave me a copy of Super Mario Brothers 3 (as a surprise on the way home from school in 4th grade). I remember the car my dad was driving (a 1980 Plymouth Champ), how he told me to reach under the passenger seat, the tactile sensation of feeling that signature shape of the NES game box (with that delightful bit of “give” when you pressed down on the front of the box) inside its plastic shopping bag, and being thrilled with the prospect of receiving any new game. I remember pulling the game out of the plastic Kmart bag, freaking out, and then running in the house when we got home to thank my mom and then pop that cartridge in.
  5. Another favorite childhood memories related to that game was staying up on a Friday night with my mom and playing through (no whistles) all the way to World 6, fueled by pizza and Pepsi/Mountain Dew, until the pre-dawn hours. Mom was never much of a gamer, but she did enjoy Mario. And she beat the original Super Mario Brothers before I did, which I don’t know if I have ever forgiven her for.
  6. I worked at a grocery store in high school: first as a bag boy, then a dairy clerk, a utility (clean-up and trash) clerk, and a grocery clerk. Part of my responsibilities with those last two roles was scrubbing the loading dock floor every day with the scrubber. I’d get bored during all those solo hours that last summer before leaving for college, so I’d make up songs and sing them to myself as I worked. At one point, I had an idea to write a parody musical of Les Mis about students who were addicted to caffeine. (It’s an idea that still might work in the age of online video.)
  7. Foods I used to despise as a child but now enjoy as an adult: Mayonnaise, avocado/guacamole, strawberries, brussel sprouts, moderate-to-highly spicy food, raw cucumbers/tomatoes (but only in certain dishes).
  8. Foods I used to despise as a child and still can’t stand as an adult: Pickles, cucumbers (most of the time), melons.
  9. While we’re on the subject of food, I think pineapple on pizza is delicious, candy corn is a delightful Halloween snack, and BooBerry is far and away the best of the General Mills Monster Cereals.
  10. My favorite era of pop music was the period when I was just starting to drive and listen to the radio on my own. So we’re talking early-mid-90’s top-40 and alternative. Gimme a mix tape with Gin Blossoms, Ben Folds, Cranberries, Collective Soul, and Spin Doctors, and I’m a pretty happy man.
  11. And yes, I mean mix-tape. Mixtapes are better than mix CDs, for the simple reason that the power of the mix tape is that you can’t skip tracks. The listener must necessarily just be along for the ride and trust the sonic direction the tape-maker is taking him or her. I’ve enjoyed this as both the maker and listener. (One time, a friend made me a mix CD in which he melded tracks together so that only 4 “tracks” came up, and each one had 2-3 songs on it. That annoyed me because it seemed to defy the inherentexpectations of the format, and at the time, I didn’t appreciate what he was attempting.)
  12. I don’t know if I could give you a list of my top-five favorite novels. I used to be able to. These days, I have a hard time recalling what I’ve read in the last six months. There are a few titles that float to the surface of memory, but then I realize I haven’t read them in more than 15 years and I’m afraid of what would happen if I revisited them now, much less recommended them to others. Things have changed. (I should hope so.) But if you were to ask me for a recommendation of something everyone should read, I might say The Pilgrim’s Progress or A Tale of Two Cities.
  13. My favorite Bible verse at the moment (and as close to a “life verse” or theme verse as I have) is Ezra 7:10. “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” If my life has a mission statement, it’s probably something pretty close to that.
  14. I’m trying to read a lot more theology these days, both for personal benefit and as a matter of practical helps in ministry. As a Reformed-ish Baptist, I know that my favorite theologian is supposed to be Spurgeon (and he’s a close second), but I think my current favorite is actually Martyn Lloyd-Jones. (So much so that one of my fantasy football team names is “Martyn Lloyd-Jones-Drew.” I’m pretty proud of that.)
  15. I was a theatre minor in college. Know how you can tell? I spelled it “theatre.”
  16. It’s currently 2:15 a.m. as I’m writing the first part of this list. I’m taking a break from work. I’ve been working late a lot over the last few weeks. It’s not optimal, but this is the only stretch of uninterrupted hours available. Life as a work-from-home parent of toddlers, I guess. I’ve been working from home since the forever-plague kicked things into chaos last March. I love working from home–wouldn’t trade it for anything. But seriously, my kingdom for a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, some days.
  17. I’m an elder/pastor at our church (part of a group of elders who lead and teach). Been serving in that role for 3 years. I almost quit a few different times over the last year. I also strongly considered not standing for a re-appointment at the end of my term this coming January. Shepherding is hard. It’s draining. It’s often thankless and emotionally fraught. But I love it. I love being a lay-pastor in my congregation. I love teaching, preaching, praying, counselling. I love being able to help think through big decisions that we must make as a church body. And if I did actually step away, I’d miss it terribly.
  18. I’m realizing how incredibly boring this post may be for some of you.
  19. I’m the “4th” Dave because my father is the 3rd. The first two in the series lived in Virginia during the Civil War. My grand parents were history buffs, thus they picked up the thread of David’s in the family line.
  20. I’m often asked if I would continue that trend. I don’t quite know. But at this point, I have all girls, so it doesn’t matter.
  21. My wife and I are strongly considering making our first home purchase, which both thrills and terrifies me.
  22. My favorite video game of all time is probably “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” “Shadow of the Colossus” comes a close second. Confession: I’m not sure I’ve actually finished either of them.
  23. Easily 65% of my “Music” playlist on YouTube is comprised of interesting covers, rather than original music.
  24. I love karaoke. Love. It. And my “rockstar dream” is literally to be the front man of a covers band. That would be a blast.
  25. I just downloaded the game “Monument Valley” onto my tablet. It’s a gorgeous little puzzle game. Short but highly recommended.
  26. I’ve never played an actual escape room and have always wanted to.
  27. I have a really interesting novel in my head, a half-dozen chapters of which exist on a hard drive somewhere. I can’t shake the thought of it but I’m also terrified that if I sit down and write it, I won’t do it justice.
  28. I know, this makes me exactly like every other non-writing writer.
  29. I’ve taken work trips to conferences in Boston, Orlando, Albuquerque, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., and San Diego.
  30. Other than San Diego, I’ve never travelled along the West Coast, but I’d like to change that someday.
  31. I went to college in central Oklahoma. Lived in a small college town. I miss those days sometimes. Simple life: school, part-time job, usually play practice or some social event.
  32. On the other hand, I have to say I’m really thankful for where God has brought me up to this point. Amazing wife, wonderful daughters, rewarding ministry alongside much beloved brothers. I’m thankful. I don’t deserve any of this.
  33. The last year has been hard at times. The forever-plague has served to draw out the crazy and ugly in a lot of folks, including some I know and trust.
  34. Through it all, God has been faithful, as He always is.
  35. (I don’t think I’ll finish this before midnight.)
  36. Yes, I realize the 41 “random facts” have devolved into just statements.
  37. Cut me some slack. It’s near midnight and I’m totally spent.
  38. Three points left. I have nothing to add.
  39. Thank you for reading this far. I really really appreciate y’all.
  40. Good night, God bless, get some sleep.
  41. It was my birthday today. It was a good one. Looking forward to the year to come. God is good.

#Blogtober2021 Day 13: Fall is (almost) in the air.

It’s almost Fall, y’all.

While some of you in the US may be raising a puzzled eyebrow at this, what with your mild temperatures and low humidity, where I live near the Gulf Coast, it’s still hot as blazes. Today’s hitting 90. In mid-October. 90 degrees, people.

BUT.

Saturday is bringing the first blessed wave of cooler air that will actually make a difference in the forecast, as we say goodbye to temps in the 90s and hello to…well, I mean, not *sweater* weather for another month or so, but at least it won’t be humid and gross if you walk outside for more than a minute. On Saturday, I plan to spend most of the day outside, playing with the kids and grilling a ton of meat for a birthday get-together with family.

So, in celebration of the changing of the seasons (finally–FINALLY!), I’d like to share this bit of greatness from The Holderness Family.

On their behalf, the 4thDaveBlog proudly presents: “Every Fall Hallmark Movie.”

(If you haven’t watched their other stuff, this is actually part of a series [alluded to in the video]. The first Christmas one is still my favorite.)

#Blogtober2021 Day 12: To Be Read.

My TBR stack is getting out of hand.

And no, that’s not my entire TBR stack. Not even close. Not by a longshot.

I have a TBR bookshelf, y’all. A bookshelf of not-yet-read books. And a tablet with maybe a couple hundred more.

What’s pictured there is the current priority list of the TBR–books I pulled out of the TBR about 3 months ago, thinking that maybe I could make a dent in these over the next 7 months or so. (Of course, I’ve added about 8 to those stacks, while only finishing maybe…2?)

And that doesn’t count the stack of 4-6 in-progress books in the living room next to the comfy chair–a chair that, these days, I mainly sit in only when I’m feeding a baby.

Also, I have 3 novels I just checked out from the library on a whim. Because I have a problem.

So far this year, I’ve finished reading 16 books. While I’m glad for that much progress, normally I will finish between 30-40 in a calendar year, so I’m definitely way under my normal pace. No big surprise as to why, with a new baby and a more hectic work and preaching/teaching schedule this summer.

But it’s still a bit frustrating. I love reading. I just don’t do it much these days. There’s always something “more important” to be done, or my mind is just so tired from work at the end of the day that I want something easy. (The sign of a lazy mind–something I should be working on training?)

I’m hopeful that I can turn this around–I mean, obviously, as I’m still checking out library books. I just hate the thought of all these books in my house, unread. I should do something about that.

Here’s my “currently-reading” stack (from memory, so there may be gaps), and for the record, I’m not even halfway through any of them so far:

  • Preaching and Preachers – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • Lectures to my Students – Charles Spurgeon
  • The Daring Mission of William Tyndale – Steven Lawson
  • Holiness – JC Ryle
  • Gentle and Lowly – Dane Ortlund
  • The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
  • The Complete Husband – Lou Priolo

What are you reading these days? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

#Blogtober2021 Day 11: A case of the Mondays.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

I’ve got a lot to do, I’m pretty tired from the girls waking up crying during a pre-dawn storm, and I don’t want to have to worry about coming up with something worth reading today. Sorry, gang. I’m punting on this one.

But I’m also posting to acknowledge it, so that at least I don’t break the chain.

(Incidentally, I had originally posted a video of Evanescence covering Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” to close out this post, but I took it down because the song has some milder profanities in it. I wrestle sometimes with whether posting such things will offend the conscience of a good portion of my readership. I don’t want to throw stuff on here callously, but it’s also tricky to account for the large range of sensitivities of conscience [or possibly the numb spots in my own heart]. But that’s more introspection than I have time for this morning, so I’ll just say, if you are interested, and aren’t too bovvered by the swears, that song’s out there and it’s a rocker.)

Talk to you tomorrow.

#Blogtober2021 Day 10: Capsule Movie Review of “Wonder Woman 1984”

You may be thinking, “Didn’t this movie come out months ago?”

Yes it did. Welcome to the life of a parent of three littles. We…don’t go to the movie theater much. So my wife and I just finished this one (split over two nights) on DVD a few minutes ago, and I figured I’d give you my raw initial reaction. Ready?

It was fine.

I heard several commentators online talk about how bad and disappointing and woke the movie was, so my expectations were pretty low. But it was fine.

Some of the fight choreography was super-hokey. Some of the dialogue was clunky. The transparent painting of Maxwell Lord as the comics version of DJT was eyeroll-inducing. But the premise was just goofy enough to work, some of the ideas (e.g. truth being essentially the greatest good) were really nice, and the tender father-son moment at the end made me tear up, which was unexpected.

When it comes right down to it, the film stands or falls on the performances of the leads, and Gal Gadot is just excellent as Wonder Woman. She elevates the material. And despite the strained justification for his return, Chris Pine is great on screen and he and Gadot have excellent chemistry.

So yeah. If you haven’t seen it yet but are still planning to, it’s worth a look if you go in expecting it to be middling at best.

I know that sounds like damning with faint praise. It’s really not. I just think I’m at the point where these movies don’t hype me up like they used to. That peaked with Endgame and everything since has been “yeah, okay, sure.” It’s not life-changing. It’s amusement. A-muse. Says it right there in the etymology of the word itself: don’t think to hard about such things.

Anyway, that’s what I got: WW84 is an imperfect but entertaining popcorn movie that benefits from the viewer expecting little and being pleasantly surprised.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

#Blogtober2021 Day 9: A Moment of Beauty

I learned something about hibiscus flowers yesterday.

My folks have a braided hibiscus bush in their yard. I noticed yesterday when I stopped by to visit my mom that there were multiple vibrant blooms on the bush. She said, “You know those blooms only last a day, right? They bloom once, close, and fall off. There are some old ones there on the ground.”

For some reason, that struck me as lovely. I know it’s a commonplace thing, and there will be several blooms on the bush each season. But knowing that these blooms I was admiring would only be there for a few more hours made the moment special to me.

I felt privileged, honored to bear witness to these blooms.

It’s so easy to take for granted how beautiful the world can be. We glide right past a thousand daily glories, distracted and dulled, blind to the wonder of creation.

I believe God made this world by the word of His power, by speaking this delightful globe into existence. Let it be. And it was. And He made it good. Not only good, but He made it better than it really even needed to be.

Have you considered the fact that all these delights are unnecessary? Vivid color, enticing flavor, delicious smells. All superfluous. Not that they don’t all serve a purpose—but they don’t have to be so enjoyable, so vibrant.

The tiny delights of daily life are gifts from a generous and creative God who has shown kindness to all His creatures—even the senseless, stubborn people who should recognize His grace and so often refuse to do so.

The next time you experience God’s superlative daily kindnesses—your child’s laughter, the smell of flowers, the sweetness of sugar or delicious aroma of coffee—take a moment and give thanks for His boundless grace, shown to humanity in these countless temporary gifts.

#Blogtober2021 Day 8: Calling an audible.

Hey fam.

I’m wiped out. It’s been a long day of family time and household obligations, and I have nothing in the tank. So no blog post tonight.

Instead, an invitation: in the comments, let me know how I can pray for you. My promise to you is that I actually will.

If you don’t believe in God or in the effectiveness of prayer, that’s too bad but I won’t fuss at ya. Just know that my prayer for you doubters is that you will one day come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, that you will find forgiveness of sin and receive a new heart and will in Him, and that He will upend and transform your life. That’s honestly the greatest and best thing I can pray for you.

That’s it. Goodnight, gang.

#Blogtober2021 Day 7: Oh, I’m still doing this, am I?

Hey gang.

It’s 11pm. I have been working since the kids went to bed this evening (just took a 20 minute break to watch Youtube videos with my wife and eat some oatmeal–so much for tonight’s fast!). And then I rememembered, oh yeah! I’m supposed to post something every day!

So here I am. Typing to you. Hi.

This is one of those posts where I feel like I’m just wasting your time. I don’t have anything interesting or insightful to say at the moment. I remember hearing/reading something from…someone (I dunno, maybe Jeff Goins?) about how successful blog posts are reader-focused–posts in which the author is providing information, or a recommendation, or something that makes his or her readers’ lives better. In other words, I should be giving you some sort of return on the investment of your time spent reading my work.

If you want to write something introspective and personally expressive, he said, you should put that in a diary or journal, not on a blog.

And I get that; that makes sense. If you don’t know actually me, there’s zero reason you should care what I’m doing at this moment. Odds are, if you don’t already have a relationship with me, you haven’t bothered to read this far. (If you have, thank you, but also…why?) Let’s face it, most of the people in my actual flesh-and-blood life don’t read my blog and can’t be bothered. That’s totally fine, too. But if I can’t compel my closest friends and loved ones to read each post, it’s a fool’s errand to expect a stranger to, unless I’m giving them a good reason.

So, what am I doing here, at 11:11pm (make a wish!), with nothing to say but still nattering on line by line? (What’s worse, I’m blogging about blogging, which is even more double-boring!)

Why am I bothering? Because I need to learn to become consistent.

I want to challenge myself to string together 31 days of writing something. Because if I can do that, maybe I can do 30 more, either here or elsewhere. Or maybe 60 more. Maybe I can start doing the thing I keep telling myself I need to get around to doing: being the writer I’d always hoped I’d become. Maybe I can actually write this crime novel that’s in my head and that I would love to share with you (and the two sequels that might follow it). Maybe I can finally work on typing up years of Bible study notes and Sunday School lessons into resources that would be a blessing to the people of my local church and the wider Church as a whole. Maybe I can keep working hard to produce valuable content so that I can start earning some real money through my writing.

That’s why, on Day 7 of Blogtober 2021, at 11:28pm, I’m taking thirty minutes away from the never-ending cascade of work tasks that have kept me up late for the last two weeks, so that I can pop on here, say hello, and let you know that I want to become the kind of person who writes every day.

And at this very moment, you’re helping me do that. So, thank you.

Talk to you tomorrow.

#Blogtober Day 6: Jason, I’d like to register a complaint.*

Not my actual meal, because you can see entirely too much green here…
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

I decided to take my family to Jason’s Deli for dinner.

It’s been…a while since I’ve eaten at Jason’s Deli. (My wife reminds me that we ate there the night before our second child was born, so that puts us at about 2-3 years. Pre-pandemic, in other words.) I was pretty excited about this: salad bar, fresh ingredients, hit up the gingerbread mini-muffins and apple slices a couple of times. Very cool.

We were confronted as we entered by a sign that said the salad bar is–I mean, I can’t even believe it still–the salad bar is now… single-trip only.

No more “all you can eat.” No more “lemme get just a little bit more of that pudding and those apple slices.” Nevermind the fact that if we’re being honest, most of us never really took more than one pass through that salad bar. It’s supposed to be all-you-can-eat! Jason’s Deli has given into the red wave of nanny-plate-ism, using the current forever-plague as an excuse to deny red-blooded, God-fearing Americans the right–the RIGHT–to have a mountain of cottage cheese and a multitude of saltine crackers! SINGLE. TRIP. ONLY?!? THE NERVE OF YOU, JASON!!!

But I kept my cool. I don’t want to end up on Youtube or TikTok in a “crazy customer” compilation. I may have given the cashier a minor bit of guff about it (“Is that true? Man, that’s too bad. Are they gonna change that? I tell ya, brave new world we’re living in. Ya hate to see it…”), but I would never cause a scene.

That’s fine, Jason. That’s fine. I’ll play your game.

You say one-trip-only. Very well. One trip.

…And it’s at this point that I wish I had taken a picture of my plate, which was a glorious 5-inch-tall heap of salad greens, veggies, 4 kinds of cheese, bacon bits, and ranch dressing; crested with onion crunchies and dried fruit and nuts; wreathed at the base of the salad mountain by goodly scoops of corn salsa, potato salad, cottage cheese, and THREE HARD BOILED EGGS. The heaping plate was joined by a side dish containing 3 gingerbread mini muffins, a 3-seed cracker, and croutons and pickles for my kids. (No croutons or cornbread muffins for me–I didn’t wanna get crazy.)

Seriously, I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture, gang. It was a sight to behold. And I ate the whole blessed thing, because all in all, it was a mostly-low-carb feast of vege, protein, and some (okay, not optimal) fats.

And my final summary judgment on Jason’s Deli, in light of all I’ve seen and heard and experienced this evening?

Hey, man, it’s still pretty solid. If you like salad bars, it’s worth going.

Just treat it like a college student hitting up the local Chinese buffet when the cafeteria is closed [he says, from experience]: Make sure to maximize your plate space. Go in with a plan. Think about how you will construct the salad for structural integrity and maximum value. And then go forth and execute the game plan.

Bon appetit.

=====

*Mr. Jason, and anyone else in the “Deli” household who may be reading this: I don’t actually have a complaint. I like your restaurant. And I get what you’re doing with the new menu approach. I’m still a fan.

But just know that if the one-plate limit becomes permanent, I’ll make sure to get every last penny’s worth off of that one plate. Fair’s fair. Dave don’t play.