Pause.

Hey fam.

Today’s been a slog, and I don’t have a post ready. Ironically, today’s post was gonna be about work. However, I have more work to do today than time to do it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with two thankful posts.

Thankful for your understanding and your prayer support.

See you tomorrow.

—d.

Want to buy me a coffee?

Photo by Igor Haritanovich on Pexels.com

Hey gang, gonna cut right to the chase.

I’ve set up a Buy Me A Coffee account, as a way of giving you fine folks an opportunity to support my work here (and encourage more of it).

And I gotta admit up front: this feels a little weird. I mean, I’m not raising money for an altruistic cause. I’m not facing great financial need. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m blessed. God has been kind. All my needs are met.

But I like coffee, and I like writing for you. I want to keep doing it and do more of it. I’m kicking around some ideas for some exclusive perks for folks who throw some cash in the tip jar. Maybe some original short fiction, maybe some dedication/tribute/by-request posts, “super-chat” style. Maybe even exclusive audio content, if I can get my hands on a good microphone. (If you have ideas or anything you’d be interested in seeing, let me know in the comments.)

So, bottom-line: if you like what I write and want to throw some cash in the ol’ coffee can, you can click the link here. I would certainly appreciate anything you feel inclined to throw my way. And hey, if you’re not in a financial position to do so, that’s totally fine. I appreciate your taking the time to read, like, and comment on my work. Don’t think for a moment that I take any one of y’all for granted.

Have a great day.

–d.

#Septemblog2022 Day 1: Back in the Saddle

I find the best way to get back into blogging after a long hiatus is by choosing not to attempt a magnum opus right out of the gate. Instead, when one needs to knock the rust off, get back to what worked at first.

When I first started blogging back in 2002 (please don’t go back and read my old posts–they’re garbage), I would post 3-5 times a day in little bursts. Microblogging before it was cool. (Was it already cool? Am I fooling myself?)

The times when I’ve enjoyed blogging the most–other than the handful of really good ideas I’ve been able to flesh out over the years–was when I could just jump on, bang out a few hundred words, and be on my way.

In the past when I’ve done this, I’ve emphasized the Need for Building a Daily Habit. (Notice all the capital letters indicating seriousness and importance.) Nuts to all that. What matters is shipping. So I’m gonna ship. And if I can batch these posts out to make life easier, I’m gonna. I’m sure you don’t mind.

So, here we are, gang. Welcome to #Septemblog2022. The return of the mack. See you tomorrow.

Updates, Odds, Ends, etc.

Photo by Stijn Dijkstra on Pexels.com

Hi reader.

It seems like quite a bit of life has happened in the last 2-3 months, both in the world and here at home. I don’t have time for all sorts of detailed explanation, so here are the bullet points:

  • Work/ministry/family life is a bit hectic lately, but humming along. I’m thankful to God that my family and I are healthy and that He has graciously supplied all of our needs, just as He always does. That said, I’m feeling the strain of many commitments and not much time.
  • We are in the process of buying our first home. If you’re not aware of how ridiculous things are in the real estate market, I’ll just say that this video is only barely satire. We have a contract on the new place and may be closing and moving in over the next month (more on this later, I’m sure). As such, I may not be posting too much until after we get settled in the potential new homestead. (Of course, anything would be better than the almost-zero I’ve posted since the beginning of the year, right?)
  • Speaking of posting, I’ve started contributing to Things Above Us, a Christian group-blog. (Don’t get jealous–I’ve only posted once so far.) I would very much appreciate if y’all could check that out and, if it interests you, sign up for the email updates and follow us on socials. The guys I’m writing with are solid dudes, and it’s a pleasure to join them and contribute in some small way to the site.
  • I’ll be heading to Together for the Gospel in a few weeks, thanks to the generosity of a good friend. This will probably be the last time I get to enjoy a conference like this for a while (see above re: buying a house in this crazy market). I’m really looking forward to getting a little time away to worship and recharge. It’s been a tough spring.

That’s really all I’ve got going on: work, church, household, a little writing. But that’s enough.

Before I go, a couple links you may find interesting:

  • Starting on a somber note: as I’ve mentioned before, I love international versions of The Voice. Here’s a video from The Voice of Ukraine–one of my favorites, actually. Here’s a band of soldiers performing just a few weeks before their country would be invaded by Russian forces. There’s no way to know if any of these brave men and women are okay, but it’s just another reminder that this month-long war that may not directly touch many of us across the West has a very human cost.
  • Okay, this one’s actually somber, too: Austin McConnell gives us a glimpse of the heart-breaking secrets behind (literally) a 19th century French painting.
  • Less somber, more epic: here’s a cover of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” in the style of Muse.

That’s it. Happy Thursday, gang. I hope to post sooner again sooner rather than later. In the meantime, join the mailing list in the sidebar so you get notified every time there’s a new post. Thanks!

We Need to Talk about Bruno-19.

First of all: I thought this was really funny.

#FreeBruno

Also, Encanto is an amazing animated movie, and I’ll post about it soon.

But I bring this up because something’s been bothering me that I think we need to consider:

Catching Covid-19 carries a lot of unhealthy and unnecessary social stigma, and we need to stop treating it like a point of personal or moral failure.

Even now, two years into the #ForeverPlague, I still hear people talking about getting Covid as if they were admitting to having an STD–always in hushed tones with eyes askance. It’s as if the only way a person can be infected is if they are reckless with their health and careless about everyone else, or if they’re a knuckle-dragging science denier whose backwards lifestyle begs to be punished by such an illness. After all, it’s the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” who deserve a long, dark winter of sadness and death, or somesuch.

Weird how even people who are vaccinated can get the disease. Also people who are super careful. Even people in Antarctic research stations.

The other day, I was about to mention during Sunday School that a friend of the group tested positive so that the folks in attendance could pray for a quick recovery. As I was about to mention “the respiratory virus that must not be named,” a couple on the front row practically jumped out of their chairs to shout me down and say that person was just feeling “under the weather.”

This isn’t the only time I’ve seen this type of reaction: no one wants to admit the reality that we’re all getting Covid.

Yes, that’s right, I said it: It’s almost a certainty that we will all get Covid eventually. Probably multiple times.

So much of the public conversation about Covid seems couched in shame and exclusion language, and that nonsense needs to end.

Here’s the reality about Covid-19, gang:

  • It’s a respiratory virus, so it’s never going to be eradicated. We’ll have to figure out how to live with it, just like we live with influenza.
  • Treatments will continue to be developed and improve. More options will become available for both prevention and treatment.
  • Vaccines don’t protect against ever getting infected. It stinks, but it’s true. However, vaccines *do* seem to make subsequent bouts of the illness easier to manage. We can discuss and dispute over whether or not that’s sufficient justification for getting it versus the possible risks and side effects.
  • We should all be free to make the decision about vaccines without external compulsion of any kind. This should be stupidly self-evident, but there you go.
  • Natural immunity is usually better than artificial immunity. Artificial immunity is probably better than simply living with higher vulnerability due to comorbidities.
  • We can do a lot of things to boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance to fight off the #ForeverPlague. Take good-quality supplements for Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc. Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Drink water. Sleep sufficiently. Eat good-quality food.
  • If you test positive, talk to your own doctor (and not some whacko on the internet) about what treatments and medications may be appropriate for you personally based on your medical history and current health status. Again, talk to YOUR doctor and make a decision with YOUR doctor’s input.
  • Pay attention to your symptoms and don’t be a doofus and go out in public when you’re clearly sick. It’s not rocket surgery.

To address the end of the video above: yes, people are deciding to go back to work, go back to school, and move on with life. The virus should be taken seriously, but we still have to move on. It’s not the bubonic plague, killing a third of the population in a matter of months or years; with some basic preventative and/or supportive care, 99% of folks who get Covid will be okay in a few weeks. The rest, we can all try to watch out for and help out as we can.

And ultimately, I believe that whether or not you catch the ‘Rona is in God’s hands. Do your best, be wise about it, and trust the sovereignty of the King of the Universe. Our days are in His hands, and we’re not even promised our next breath. So just chill out and be grateful for His myriad blessings.

In conclusion, and by way of review:

  • People who get Covid aren’t somehow being punished for their epidemiological sins.
  • Covid infection is not a symptom of moral failure.
  • Lack of Covid infection is not a sign of personal righteousness.
  • Trust God’s hand and plan, and stop being ridiculous about this.

Let me know what you think about all this in the comments.

The4thDave Drinks Bones Coffee (and You Should, Too)!

How d’ya do, Mr. Bones!

I’ve reached the life stage in which gifts I receive for birthdays and Christmas tend toward power tools, grill equipment, and leather goods. The last few years’ gifts, however, have been predominantly coffee-related. That in and of itself is funny, since I don’t consider myself a coffee connoisseur. I like my 12-cup Mr. Coffee and will occassionally enjoy a French press. (My wife has now converted to Chemex pour-overs and swears she’ll never go back.)

I’ve gotten to try a few different brands of small-batch and specialty coffee, but the company that I come back to over and over is Bones Coffee. They have a nice variety of both flavored and unflavored coffee, with lots of neat seasonal and specialty flavors throughout the year.

Note: This is not a sponsored/affiliate post–BUT if the fine folks at Bones want to toss me an affiliate link or discount code to share with you, I’ll be more than delighted to do so.

Here are some quick capsule reviews of flavors I’ve tried so far, in case you want to check out Bones Coffee for yourself:

Mint Invaders from Chocolate Space — Chocolate and mint is my go-to sweet combination. Every year, I hit up Starbucks on or around November 1st for the official start of “Peppermint Mocha” season (and don’t talk to me about how it’s available at other times in the year, because I don’t acknowledge that). I dig “peppermint bark” flavored coffee creamer and mint chocolate chip ice cream–mint and chocolate are totally my jam. I had high expectations from “Mint Invaders…” when I first tried it and was extremely pleased. While the flavor isn’t as overpowering as if you were adding a heavy creamer or syrup to your coffee, the flavor and aroma are definitely there. I’ve gotten multiple bags of this flavor and it’s become one of my regular Bones selections as a result. Definite recommend.

Holy Cannoli — I don’t know what kind of eldritch flavor alchemy the Bones folks are using, but I’m stunned and delighted to find that this coffee actually reminds me of the flavors of a good cannoli–the subtle sweetness of the filling, the nuttiness of the wafer, and just a touch of chocolate. The reason this flavor works so well is that it doesn’t hit you over the head with the combination. Some flavored coffees so overwhelm you that the taste becomes cloying. “Holy Cannoli” hits that right level of subtlety so that you don’t forget you’re drinking coffee, but you’ve got a nice sensory boost from the other flavors. Plus, and I think this is really a key factor, it helps when the added flavor actually complements the flavor of coffee itself. Having a cannoli with a cup of coffee makes sense as a flavor combination. Other flavors, not so much, as in the case of…

Electric Unicorn — This is billed as a “fruity cereal” flavor–think “bowl of Fruity Pebbles.” I won a sample of this flavor in a Bones giveaway and was curious to try it out. Turns out, this one was a big miss for me personally. During my first two sips, I was intrigued, if a bit confused. However, around Sip #3, I actually started feeling a bit nauseated. It’s not even that it was too sweet (obviously, since I controlled the level of added sugar in my cup); it’s that the flavoring was just so strong, and it seemed to clash with the natural flavor of the coffee so much, that the whole thing just wasn’t appealing after just a few swigs. I’m willing to give unusual flavors a try, but if I have no desire to finish the mug, that’s a really bad sign. I’d say pass on this one, unless you’re REALLY intrigued by the flavor concept, in which case I’d recommend maybe starting with a sample pack first.

Sinn-o-Bunn — Again, here we have a flavor where they nail the concept in a way that almost defies logic. In fact, for this cinnamon-roll-flavored blend, the magic works a little *too* well. I wanted to get a good sense of this one, so I brewed a pot with a ratio of 3:1 Bones to plain decaf, and after the first mug, I could almost go back and cut it a little more. The flavor of not just cinnamon but honest-to-goodness “cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing” is *so* strong that dialing it down by mixing it with some non-flavored coffee may just be the way to go for me. Truth be told, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you want to see your coffee dollars stretch a bit. You could find a good quality non-flavored roast (perhaps some of Bones’ single-origin coffee) to throw in the mix so that it dials the flavor strength down a bit and extends the enjoyment of the flavored beans to additional brews. Either way, this flavor is a qualified win for me.

[Fall Seasonal Flavor] Frankenbones – One of the cool things about buying coffee from a small-batch roaster like Bones is that there are seasonal flavors that come around periodically. While these flavors aren’t available right now, they will be later in the year, so I wanted to put them on your radar now. Frankenbones is one that I’m going to give another shot. The flavor of this autumn seasonal offering is listed as “chocolate hazelnut” but when I had it, the chocolate came through much more clearly than the hazelnut did. It was still good, but I just didn’t get as much of the distinction there. That said, I’m a mocha fiend, so chocolate coffee ANYTHING is a winner for me. I happened to receive a bag of it over Christmas and will be enjoying it soon, so I’ll pop back in the comments and let you know if it won me over even more!

[Winter Seasonal Flavors] The Winter Holiday Exclusive Flavors: White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Gingerbread, Egg Nog, Jingle Bones, Oh Fuuudge! — Two years ago, we ordered the sample pack of the “holiday” flavors, along with a few extra full bags of Oh Fuuudge! and Peppermint Bark (see above, re: my love for both chocolate and mint). Those two are obviosuly my favorites of the bunch. Jingle Bones is a nice mix of coconut, vanilla, and caramel, and I liked that quite a bit; it reminded me one of my favorite local coffee brands that mixes coconut flakes in the whole-bean bags. Not all of the flavors worked for me—I didn’t love the gingerbread and eggnog samples. Don’t get me wrong; they get the flavors right and they’re not that bad (sorry, Electric Unicorn). They’re just not what I prefer. All in all, it’s a great selection, and if you’re a fan of any of the “holiday flavors” from Starbucks, you should check out Bones’ offerings when they become available in the late fall.

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If you’re a fan of flavored coffee, I think you should give Bones a try. Like I said at the top, this isn’t a sponsored post. I legitimately like Bones Coffee and drink it often (I’m sipping on some Sinn-a-bun while I’m typing this, as a matter of fact). I’ve reached out to the company to see if they’d be willing to hook me up with a discount code for my readers, and if I get that, I’ll update the post. I also have several more sample packs to try out, so I’ll have another flavor round-up coming out later in the spring with more recommendations.

In the meantime, may your brew be strong and your mug be steaming!

(That may be the lamest way I’ve ever ended a post.)

Meme Sequitur.

I make memes to amuse my coworkers or friends on Twitter. I save most/all of them. They’re mostly stupid.

For some idiotic reason, I decided to gather some of the ones that still make me laugh, even if they are no longer culturally relevant and probably not funny to anyone but me. Think of it as my New Year’s gift to you, the people. But really to myself.

I was tempted to call this post “Meme Time,” but I worried JackSepticEye fans would get upset. (And if you got that reference, you are entirely too hip for this post.)

So, here are some of my favorites, with brief explanations as needed. If any of these are amusing to you, I’ll consider that a win and a great start to 2022.

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Remember that time two guys were arrested for loitering inside a Starbucks one afternoon? And how angry crowds stormed Sbux locations, resulting in photos of stone-faced baristas wishing they were anywhere else in the world? Yeah, that was a thing.

I call this one, “Cage-Stage Keto.”

Self-explanatory.

“Mmmy depreciousssss…”

One more. I can’t help myself.

I’m so hydrated right now, I can see sound.

Oooooh, political!

Ironically, I made this more than 4 years ago, and it’s still applicable!

Pretty self-explanatory, I feel.

Bless up, Harambe, wherever you are.

A Calvinist meme for the home folks.

Heh. Medium.

I stand by this one.

We need you now more than ever, Rob.

From the set of “The Social Network 2.” Alternate caption: “Insert a meta-joke here.”

“Look, Clark’s just here to help, Bruce. We all are.”

Theology-nerd alert.

Only Darin Day will appreciate this, and I don’t think he even reads my blog.

Man, I need to fire up my SNES Classic sometime this week.

If Drake were a grittier rapper.

And, finally.

…I feel like I should apologize for most of these. But I won’t. Happy New Year, everybody!

It’s been a long December…

Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

“It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe / Maybe this year will be better than the last / I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself to hold on to these moments as they pass…”

Adam Duritz, “A Long December”

Hey y’all. Quick December update.

Greetings at the end of December. For the 4thDaveFam, it’s been a doozy, full of very mundane busyness, mild frustration, and minor illness. And runny noses. LOTS and LOTS of runny noses.

Of the five elements of the “Power Five” I had talked about in my last post, the one I was most consistent with was telling my girls that I loved them every day. Even that wasn’t a home run itself, but I feel like I’m building into the rhythm of our family pretty well, which is great.

Everything else? Oof. I’ve been a mess, gang. Not sleeping much, not eating well, drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee, not exercising, not spending much time at all in the Word and in prayer. And on top of that, my immune system has been taking a beating from various colds and flus that my sweet little ones have been bringing home and sharing.

Am I hoping to turn things around this week? Of course. Hope springs eternal.

But (literally) at the moment, I’m wracked with wheezing coughs and I’m running a low-grade fever. So any major changes in my daily life may need a couple of days to get going.

Illness and exhaustion won’t stop me from posting a few items this week, I hope. You may see a post I wrote a month ago about frustrated ambition, or a little 2021 reading retrospective, or even a quick affiliate post on behalf of the good folks at Monk Manual (if you’re wanting to buy a journal, wait like 36 hours or so, I’ll hook you up with a discount!). No promises, but since I’m not working this week, I may be able to pull that much off.

In the meantime, just a note of encouragement:

This year, I really feel like I did a terrible job celebrating Christmas (my tongue-in-cheek twittering about the merits of Die Hard as a Christmas movie aside). I wasn’t feeling the comfort and joy on a spiritual level. I went through the motions. I’m bummed out about that in retrospect.

But you know what? That’s why Jesus came: to rescue the hurried, the harried, the helpless, and the hopeless from a life of striving and utterly failing to live righteously. There is nothing I can do in my own power to live the way I’m supposed to. I’m a sinner by nature and by choice, and there is nothing I can do in my own power to overcome that.

But at Christmastime, we celebrate that Jesus the eternal Son of God graciously condescended to be born in human flesh and live among us. The baby of Bethlehem grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, accomplishing a life of perfect obedience to the will and law of God, in order to earn the righteousness we could never touch. Then, at the perfect time, Jesus died in the place of ruined sinners, paying the penalty for our failures and rebellion, so that all who turn away from their sin and look to Jesus as their Savior may be forgiven and set free from the guilt, the shame, the power, and the penalty of sin. Not only that, but Jesus rose from the dead 3 days later, demonstrating His authority over life and death and that His sacrifice on our behalf is acceptable to God. We who know Him as Lord and Savior have a share in that resurrection and will be raised up with Him on the last day, to life everlasting in Heaven with our God.

If you follow Jesus and, like me, your Christmas season wasn’t the worshipful, meaningful experience you wish it could have been, know that the grace of God extends to your lousy December. And you don’t even have to wait until January 1st to “resolve” to do better, because Jesus has done all the “better” for us. He calls us simply to follow Him in obedience, taking His yoke upon ourselves, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

On the other hand, if you only know of Christmas as a baby in a manger and a choir of angels serenading frightened shepherds, there is so much more to the story. And the so-much-more-ness is what matters the most to you and me, right now, in the shadow of another Christmas season come and gone.

Comment below or email me if you want to talk about that further.

Merry Christmas, friends. God bless you in Christ Jesus. Talk to you soon.

Happy December!

[Source: https://clearlakeiowa.com/high-five-clear-lake/ ]

Howdy, folks!

Sorry for the extended, unplanned break there. I wasn’t really thinking I’d take a solid month off from posting, but to be honest, I was just struggling to find things to say. So here’s a bit of the ol’ “This is Where I Am Right Now.”

Personal Updates

November was better than October, on the whole. I mean, no loved ones died, so that’s a positive right there. I didn’t spend quite as many late nights working. I got to take a few days off here and there and spend time with my immediate and extended families. And while I didn’t really engage in any performative public thankfulness online, I will say that I tried to appreciate all the many gifts I receive from God on a daily basis. And I’m feeling better, at least mentally. Still dealing with some physical pain and stuff, but doing well on the whole.

Blog Updates

While I won’t try to do another daily-posting stretch anytime soon, I will be hopefully uploading at least 1-2 posts of substance each week. I’ve got a few sermons in the can that I wanted to upload (the last half of the Jude series from the summer, and another sermon I got to preach last month). I have some ideas for Christmas-y content that I may roll out before too long, as well. The point is, I’m easing back in. Thanks for sticking around.

Health/Goal Updates

I’m easing back into my low-carb/intermittent-fasting regimen. “Easing back” meaning that I’m not 100% LCHF-keto, but this week I’ve started reducing my carb intake considerably, and I’ve tried to stick to at least a 12-hour overnight fast between dinner and morning coffee. Over time, I’ll tweak that and shrink my eating window down a bit more. It’s all about iterating and learning how I function best. I’ll probably post on that again in the near future.

As for other goals, rather than wait for January to resolve anything, I wanted to get started with an idea I came up with that keeps my goal-setting a bit more simplified: the Power Five. These are five goals I’m shooting for every day, in order to build back some habits that have fallen into disrepair. My five daily goals are:

  1. Time with God, in Word and prayer;
  2. Doing something physical for 30 minutes every day that breaks a sweat;
  3. Taking care of my body, not only by doing the basic hygiene stuff like showering and flossing, but by actively working to heal/recover where I’m hurting;
  4. Eating wisely and making good choices about what kind and how much food I consume; and
  5. Looking each of my girls in the eyes every day and telling them how much I love them.

Now you may be clamoring to say, “Dave, those goals are too vague! They’re not SMART goals! They’re not measurable or countable or–”

Let me stop you right there, bub. I recognize that the Power Five doesn’t hit the mark when it comes to what “good goals” should entail. There’s a reason for that.

The only measurable I’m aiming for is consistency.

My hope is that, over the month of December, I can begin building a consistent rhythm that will carry me forward. Once I have that rhythm going, I can start attaching some numbers to the process.

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So there’s my update: life is good and I’m grateful; I plan on posting more often this month; and I’m looking to give myself a Power-Five every single day in December.

See y’all later!

#Blogtober2021 Day Whatever: We’re fine, we’re all fine here, now, thanks… How are you?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Just popping in here to say: I’m doing okay. Lots going on.

  • My grandfather died at the end of last week, bringing the (hopefully) final total to 3 extended family members who passed away this month. All three had serious medical conditions. It’s still sad.
  • Work life is busy, church life is busy; both are stressful, both are blessings.
  • My household’s doing okay. My kids have colds and aren’t sleeping that consistently this week. We’re all feeling a bit exhausted. But down here in the southland, we’re now enjoying a brief cool spell, so that means more time outside this week, which is good for everyone’s disposition.
  • My wife and I are trying to buy our first home and realizing we’re a bit out of our depth with this process. Thankful for a good realtor to hold our hands (and keep our heads above water).
  • Again, I may not post much more this week. But I’m doing okay. Still not getting my sleeping schedule and eating habits (or caffeine consumption) in proper balance. Hope to do that next week, as I take some time off work and spend time with my family. November reset, here we come.

That’s it, that’s what I got. Let me know how I can pray for you in the comments. Talk to you later.