*Pops head back in the door*

“Anybody here?”

Just wanted to pop back in and say:

  • I’m still alive.
  • Life is good, but it feels very hectic and heavy at the moment. Lots of good things going on, but also lots of busyness, and that is crowding out good-but-not-vital things like blogging.
  • That said, I miss writing to y’all. My hope is to find a few moments to jot some thoughts down about what’s been going on, in the near future. No promises, though. You know how it is. But someday in the coming few weeks, I’ll try to give ya an honest-to-goodness TIWIARN post.
  • In the meantime, some things you can pray for me:
    • Strength to make good choices for my health and not give into bad habits and old patterns.
    • Protection and blessing for my wife and unborn baby.
    • Spiritual growth, particularly in the area of joy, patience, and a controlled temper.
    • That I would keep my priorities straight, so that I can focus on what’s important and not be tossed about by every wind of “URGENT” item that enters my field of vision.

I think that’s about it.

In advance of the weekend, here’s a link to an old post about Good Friday.  Hope it blesses you.

He is risen, gang. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!

The Insufficiency of Implicit Dignity.

[This is a long one, but I hope it’s useful to you. Thanks for reading. –d.]

On Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching the morning sermon at my church. It was “Sanctity of Life Sunday,” but rather than speaking just on abortion (per usual for that day), I sought to expand our focus. So we looked at what the Bible says about the dignity and value of human life as a whole, asking the question, “Why is human life sacred? What sets us apart from the rest of creation?”

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I won’t reprint my full manuscript here, but I’ll give you a summarized version:

Mankind was created especially by God. The language of Genesis 1 and 2 speak to a particular attention and direct interaction by God with the man and woman He made. He gave them the place of honor and responsibility over all creation (“a little lower than the angels,” as David would write in Psalm 8). They would represent Him throughout the earth and rule over it. But our first parents rebelled against their King, committing cosmic treason by breaking His commands and sinning against Him, as they sought to be His equals.

However, despite the entrance of sin and death into the world, God still affirmed the value of human life in Genesis 9, and the distinction of value between man and animals, because even as fallen creatures we are made in the image and likeness of God.  Human beings have dignity and value, not because of our abilities or capacities, but because of what God has done in choosing to have a special relationship with us.

I spoke about how there isn’t a clear teaching in Scripture about what constitutes being made “in the image of God,” but working off the idea of being created to glorify God all over the earth, I talked about how human beings have the singular ability of echoing (ever so faintly) some of the communicable characteristics of God. We can demonstrate love, mercy, justice, faithfulness, and other attributes of God, but in a diminished and creaturely way. However, the entrance of sin into the world corrupts even our best intentions and actions, so that we as a sinful creatures are only able to demonstrate these attributes, on our best day, in broken and distorted ways. We do not love God and each other as we ought, and our poor attempts at “righteousness” or “goodness” are mixed with self-interest.

Because God is just and holy, He must rightly punish sin and destroy evil, and thus we would be doomed. But God (who is rich in mercy) sent His son, Jesus the Christ, whom the Scriptures repeatedly call “the image of God” (Col. 1:15) and “the radiance of His Glory, the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). In short, Jesus the God-man is the perfect template of what mankind was supposed to be but could not be, because of sin.

Jesus lived a human life of perfect righteousness, died in the place of sinners, taking our guilt and the just penalty of divine wrath upon Himself, and then was raised again, giving us the guarantee of our own resurrection for all who turn from their sins and trust in His saving work as our sacrificial substitute. Those who trust in Jesus are “made new” and then begin to be remade, reshaped, into the image of Jesus (sanctification). Several passages in the New Testament affirm that we who have been born again are being remolded to look like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 4:17-24; Col. 3:9-10), and when we are finally resurrected, we will be finally and fully restored (II Cor. 3:18).

Thus, my appeal to believers in Jesus (in light of these truths) is to recognize that all human life has dignity and deserves respect, regardless of that person’s actions or circumstances, because God has made them in His image. We are thus commanded to see all people through the eyes of the Spirit and not through the eyes of the flesh–and we are compelled to make our appeals to all to be reconciled to God (II Cor. 5:14-21).

In the sermon, I mentioned several classes of people who deserve dignity and respect but are sometimes passed over in our culture: the unborn, the orphan, unwed mothers in crisis, the sick and dying, the disabled, the poor. Since I feared the sermon was running long, I mentioned also a mixed-bag category of “people who are different than us”–including people who look different, speak a different language, were born in a different country, or even worship a different god. All these, I argued, have dignity and should be shown love and respect because all these are made in the image of God and need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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I finished the sermon and actually felt pretty okay about it. After the service ended, I was approached by a few of the brothers, including an African-American brother in our church family who’s a friend of mine. He hugged me and thanked me for the sermon, but then he said, “You know, at the end, I was expecting you to talk about race a little more. But that’s okay.”

For a moment, I was struck.  It seems so obvious.  On a day when I’m affirming the value of all human life–on MLK weekend, of all things–I missed a chance to make an explicit reference to one of the most divisive issues in our culture.

It’s not that I didn’t think of it at all. It was implicit in my comments throughout the sermon. I said more than once, “all people, no matter who they are, have dignity as being made in God’s image.”  But I missed the chance to say it more clearly.

All I could do was apologize. I told him it was there in the subtext, but I confessed that I could have and should have taken an extra moment to underline it.  My friend graciously shrugged and shook my hand again, “I’m not offended, man. I know what you meant.”

Even so, the more I considered it, the more I was a bit bothered by it. What should have been underlined in my outline became a footnote.  If you had asked me directly, I would have affirmed unequivocally that all people of all races are made in the image of God and are deserving of respect and dignity. But I’m not forced to think about race that often. I don’t have to rub up against that issue every day. It can slip into the background for me. Maybe that’s a privilege I’ve been afforded.

“But Dave, your job as the preacher was to herald the Gospel, not push a social message.”  Yes and amen, and I pray I did that clearly. But: there is nothing unbiblical or inappropriate about speaking prophetically from Scripture to a specific issue facing our community, especially when it is practically set up on a tee for me to take a swing at it. We were talking about human dignity and value and the way we as Christians should affirm the value of all human life. I don’t need to promote or support any specific political interest group in order to say what the Bible says–that all people are made in God’s image, that God is no respecter of persons, and that we as the Church are called to proclaim reconciliation to ALL people, including those who are of a different race, background, or class than we are.

And maybe I shouldn’t have to single out race and ethnicity as one of those issues, but we live in a country that seems to be growing more divided around race.

Here’s what I’m getting at: I don’t think it was enough simply to imply that people of other races have equal dignity with mine. This is worth speaking directly to, even at the risk of possibly over-emphasizing it. The Gospel is the answer to racism, and the Church needs to repeat that over and over until the world gets tired of hearing us saying it!

I’m frustrated that I missed the easy opportunity to do just that. By God’s grace, I hope my listeners heard what I didn’t say explicitly but should have. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit is the one who applies the Word to our hearts. And I pray that my church family hears His voice today.

Wait a minute–I have a blog, don’t I?

[No posts for more than 3 weeks? Wowsa.]

A few words to update you on what’s been going on with me:

At the moment, I’m at the tail end of a pernicious head cold. So I’m a little foggy-headed today, but I wanted to post something new.

Honestly, things are pretty good. December was a good month for me. Some exciting things are happening in my offline life that I can’t quite talk about yet. Work is keeping me busy. A few weeks ago, I took a roadtrip with my wife up to my old college town to pick up my sister at the end of her first college semester. We enjoyed Christmas in-town with the family. It was a good end to a challenging year.

As for the radio silence: I honestly just haven’t had much to say, or at least much that was worth saying. I hit a point when I just didn’t care enough to write regular posts. Part of that blogging drought may be that I also haven’t been reading regularly this month (so as you will see soon, I only added one more “reading challenge” title to my final count).

The end of the year is always a time of introspection and reflection, and a reassessment of where I am and where I want to go. Maybe that’s a cliched approach, but there it is. The point is, I’m taking some time this week to take stock of my priorities and agenda, so that I’m spending my life on things that I care about most. (No, that doesn’t mean we’re breaking up–but I do want to consider how much time I’m ready to invest into this project.)

Here’s the deal, gang: My blogging mojo is in a bit of a trough, and I don’t just want to blather for the sake of posting new content. If you’re taking the time to read what I write, then what I write should be worth your time. I have had a few ideas in the past couple of weeks, but I wasn’t sure if I had enough new to say to justify 700 or so words about it.

What does that mean, moving forward into 2017? It means that when I have something new that’s worth saying, I’ll say it. I may adapt some of my Sunday School materials into short posts here, if I think it would be profitable. If I gather enough items for a Friday Five, I’ll post that here on Fridays.

The next Federalist post will go up on the “4thDavePapers” blog next Tuesday, and I hope to throw some new content up there once or twice a week, because the read-and-respond approach will keep me thinking and producing material.

But I’m not going to post just for posting’s sake, out of some sense of obligation to vomit up internet content. I’m not going to offer up half-baked hot takes on current events because everyone else is doing it. There’s enough of that going around.

The best way for you to keep up with my blogging in 2017 is to subscribe. You can subscribe by email at the bottom of the page, or follow my blog through WordPress, so that you get notifications when I have new content available. And I’ll do my best to make sure that any new content is worth your while.

Thanks for subscribing, thanks for reading, thanks for sticking around. My hope is that my 2017 writing, however inconsistent, will become more and more beneficial to you.

Happy New Year, friends!
–d.

 

The 4thDave Friday Five! (12/2/16)

Hey gang!  Thanks for hanging in there with me as I’m trying to figure out a workable posting schedule in the midst of some other big life stuff (more on that in the coming weeks/months).

In the meantime, I have 4 neat videos and a blog post to share with you for your Friday enjoyment.

One:  The new OK GO video is amazing. OK GO has a history of elevating the music video genre to the level of insane, real-life Rube Goldberg machine footage. Well, this latest entry is no different! Love it.

Two: Another good video from Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness. Here, he challenges the phrase “I don’t have time to ___.” (Hm. So I guess I should have said earlier that more frequent blogging “wasn’t a priority” at the moment. *shrug*)

Three: A Bad Lip Reading video of Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back. Oh man, this song will be stuck in your “coconut,” like the poking of seagulls.

Four: A theory about the Dark Secrets behind the fate of the Rogue One main characters. The Film Theorists have some crazy ideas about what happens to the crew of the Rogue One after the events of the upcoming movie. (Note: There is a little bit of language in this video, but nothing extreme. Also, please note that I am not vouching for the other videos from FT, which can get inappropriate sometimes. There, we good? Use your discernment.)

Five: It’s Christmastime, which means it’s “‘Christmas Shoes’ Survival Season.” While I am on the record as being wildly opposed to “Christmas Shoes”(my least-favorite Christmas song of all time, no contest), I appreciated Jon Acuff’s more…measured tone, as he prepares us for this dangerous scenario.

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That’s what I’ve got for you today. Look for a new 4thDavePapers post this afternoon, and hopefully a little more content on this page in the early part of next week. (I have a little time this weekend, so I’m going to work through some post ideas I’ve been kicking around.)

Your turn: Any cool videos you want to share? Cool new discoveries you want to talk about? Do you have a blog/website you want to promote?  Comment below!

The4thDave’s Friday Five: Thanksgiving Week Edition (11/25/16)

Good evening, friends! I hope you are happily digesting your Thanksgiving meal and/or leftovers, as I am. I apologize for the lateness of the hour, but my family has some specific Thanksgiving Day (and day-after) traditions that needed to be taken care of.

So here’s a list of fun things for your weekend enjoyment:

  1. This short interview clip of Lin-Manuel Miranda: Obviously, Miranda and his hit musical Hamilton have generated some, let’s say, strong feelings lately. I just think it’s fantastic that when asked which celebrity turned Lin into a bit of a fanboy when he met him, this is his first response.
  2. The books of Rob Sheffield. Sheffield is a Rolling Stone writer whose work I have come to appreciate over the years. His first book, Love is a Mixtape, was brutal and gorgeous, as he used the mixtapes he made for his late wife as a framework for talking about their relationship and the aftermath of her death. His second book, Talking to Girls about Duran Duran, provided a fascinating look at how music shaped Sheffield’s formative years. His third book, Turn Around Bright Eyes, is my favorite, in which he describes the power of karaoke and the part it played in his meeting and wooing his second wife. I’m reading his latest, On Bowie, and I have to admit I’m struggling with it, but that’s more due to the subject matter than Sheffield’s writing. (I think I was naive about how sexualized Bowie’s early career really was. *shrug*)  Sheffield’s style is earnest and clever, full of subtle lyrical allusions and wordplay. If you are interested in reading some easily-accessible rock writing, Sheffield’s work is worth checking out, especially his first book.
  3. The4thDave Papers. Here’s where I plug my newest little project: an essay-by-essay examination and interaction with The Federalist Papers. My hope with each post is to summarize the main ideas in each essay (or group of essays, if there’s a continuous series), and address if those ideas have any application here at the end of 2016. I’m sorry to say I’m already a bit behind my desired output schedule, but I’m hoping the longer weekend will allow me a little time to get ahead. Currently, I have a couple of introductory essays and a post on Federalist #1. Look for Federalist #2 no later than Tuesday.
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life. Okay, folks, I’m going to make my yearly appeal on behalf of one of my top-five favorite films of all time. (Not just one of my favorite Christmas films, mind you; one of my favorite films of all time.) The fact that this movie is considered a Christmas movie is incidental; about 80% of the movie doesn’t take place during Christmas. It’s a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey, a man who spends his entire life sacrificing his own dreams and ambitions for the good of others. He gives and gives, and when he is faced with the possibility that he could be jailed for a crime he didn’t commit, he questions whether or not his life had any meaning. It’s only through a bit of angelic intervention that George sees just how many lives he affected by his selflessness and sacrifice. (Yes, this movie has some goofy theology. Fine.) This movie touches my heart in a way few modern pictures do. If this is a movie you have always written off as boring or hokey, my request is that you give it another chance during this Christmas season. I usually watch it at least once or twice, starting with Thanksgiving weekend, so I’ll be popping it in the player tomorrow.
  5. Turkey Hash. One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods isn’t part of the meal itself (which is great). I love making turkey hash with some of the leftover meat. It’s nothing fancy, but here’s what I do:  1) Dice up a good mix of light and dark meat [but more dark], some white onions, and some potatoes (enough to where you have a 1:1 ratio of turkey to potato). 2) In a skillet, heat up some oil to a simmer, and throw in some minced garlic and the onions, and fry them up until the onions are translucent. 3) Then add the potatoes, and fry until the potatoes start getting a little soft. 4) Then, stir in your turkey to warm it up.  5) Add black pepper (fresh ground, if possible) to taste, but don’t be afraid to be generous with the pepper. If you didn’t have minced garlic, you may want to throw in some garlic powder at this point. 6) Keep stirring to keep the potatoes from burning. Once the turkey is hot, pull it off the stove, dish it up, and enjoy. You can thank me later. It’s not a fancy dish by any means, but its simplicity is its strength, I think. You could add some diced bell peppers or zucchini or something, but I like keeping it simple.

That’s all I’ve got tonight, folks. Have a great rest of your Thanksgiving weekend.

And, to paraphrase Andrew Klavan from Wednesday’s podcast: Remember that “thank” is a transitive verb, which means it’s an action word that is directed toward something or someone. It’s not just a vague feeling. “Giving thanks” means there is Someone to which we are being thankful. So take a moment, take stock of your blessings, and remember that all good gifts come from God. He’s the One you need to be thanking (and not just on the last Thursday of November).

Why *don’t* I write like I’m running out of time?

Quick update on life ‘n stuff:

New Year? Nah.
The “new year” approach isn’t really working for me. Anyone else? (I won’t wait for you to respond, but please do so in the comments.) Like so many things, I think I haven’t really locked in on a strong enough “want to” to drive action. So I will confess to you, my friends, that I have been busy (or busy-ish) and have used that as an excuse not to write.

I hit one of those moments yesterday in which I realized I was feeling guilty for tasks and responsibilities I had placed upon myself. Not writing enough. Not reading enough on the 2016 Reading Challenge. Strangely, I wasn’t feeling as guilty about things that ultimately mean more. I still haven’t gotten back on track with food like I wanted to. I’m still not taking in Scripture consistently.

SO HERE’S MY GRAND RESOLUTION:  …I’m gonna stop with the resolutions. For the rest of the year, I’m just going to work on getting a little bit better. Better choices, linked end to end. And when I miss, I’ll keep going. I’m not giving up on myself.

Reading List? More like Reading Missed
My 2016 Reading Challenge progress has pretty much stopped. You may have noticed that I didn’t post an October update. Well, here it is, my October Reading Challenge Update:  

Nothing. I read Nate Pickowicz’s great book, Reviving New England. I read a few Batman trade-paperback collections (the “Court of Owls” storyline, and a Loeb/Sale story). I listened to the audiobooks of the last two Miss Peregrine books (those were pretty good!).  But other than that, nothing of note. Not for lack of trying, but I just haven’t found anything that has grabbed me, from that list. I will post an update at the end of November if I make any progress, and then a year-ending post in December with the full list. But I think I’m going to let myself off the hook on this reading list thing. Part of the reason is because of all the other stuff we have going on.

Not-quite-Dad
My wife and I have talked for a while about becoming foster parents, but in early October, we finally started taking steps. Now, we’re in the midst of training and learning and filling out reams of paperwork. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. I’ll have a lot more to say about it in the coming months. But it’s really taken up a lot of mental and emotional space in my life. I’m not saying it’s a good reason for not doing the daily stuff I had tried to commit to doing. But it’s part of the mix.

Back to (Sunday) School
I’m teaching adult Sunday School again! I’m on a rotation with another teacher, so I’ll be teaching for the next 3 months. We started a series this week on the attributes of God. I may throw some posts up with my lesson prep/notes, if you guys want. But that is also going to soak up some time an energy in the near term.

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So what’s next?

I’m not giving up on the weight issue. My wife and I are probably going to go back to ketogenic eating (which is an AWESOME thing to do, six weeks before CHRISTMAS). But it was working for both of us, so we want to go with what works. I’m going back to Weight Watchers on Saturday to face up to the scale (and all the weight I’ve gained in the last month). I’m going to the gym tonight. So yeah. Still fighting.

I still want to increase my writing output. One idea for that came from a couple of college friends of mine on Facebook. I’ll fill in the details of that tomorrow, but I’ll say this: the post title is a clue.

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I’ve got a Friday Five ready to go for tomorrow, so come back and check it out.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking around.

If you’re on Twitter, follow me at @the4thdave

 

The4thDave’s Friday Five (11/4/16)

The “Friday Five” is a weekly list of five things I’m interested and want to make you aware of–whether they be serious or silly. Think of it as a list of stuff I like that I think you might like, too.

A Prairie Home Companion. My dad first introduced me to the work of Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion about 15-20 years ago. While I didn’t appreciate it at first, I grew to understand how unique and special APHC has become in a culture that is video-obsessed. There’s something about the slower pace and subtle humor of this “old-timey” radio variety show that sets it apart from other forms of entertainment on offer.

Last season was the final season with Garrison Keillor as the host. Since APHC had become virtually synoymous with Keillor’s grandfatherly baritone, I wasn’t sure the show could or even should go on. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong. Chris Thile, the singer and mandolinist behind the bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers has stepped up to the microphone, and in doing so has really breathed new life into the program. Thile and company perform a new original song in lieu of an opening monologue each week. The musical tone of the show has been updated to a more modern sensibility; the first three episodes have featured performances by Jack White, Dawes, and Esperanza Spaulding, and have featured winking references/covers of the likes of Snoop Dogg and Michael Jackson.

If you have never listened to APHC, or if (like me) you worried about its new direction, I recommend checking out the first  2-3 episodes. (Disclosure #1: The politics have not changed and are still left-leaning, if that’s a deal-breaker. Disclosure #2: The third episode has the first “miss” of the season, with a rather unfunny comedian.)

Board game cafes. One of my more-recently-discovered loves is tabletop gaming. If your familiarity with board games is limited to Monopoly and Risk, I would invite you to begin exploring the wide, wide world of gaming, because there are literally hundreds if not thousands of new games to try.

One *great* way to do that is by visiting a board game cafe. Usually, board game cafes serve coffee (or something stronger) and snacks, and have free games available to play; sometimes, they host events where gamers can meet up and play together. And this isn’t just limited to the more…we’ll say “insular,” types of games like Warcraft and D&D and the games with those crazy-expensive miniatures, so don’t let that scare you off. Thanks to the folks at BoardGameGeek, we have this map of known board game cafes around the world. If you’re anywhere near one, take a couple of friends, and go check it out this weekend.

As for folks down here on the Texas coast, I would strongly encourage you to check out Board Game Island in Galveston. It’s currently under renovations (and new management) and won’t be open for a few weeks, but my wife and I have visited several times and look forward to going back. They have hundreds of games for varying levels of players, and it is just a blast to walk in, grab some food and a few games off the shelf, and hang out for a few hours.

Pandemic. One of my current favorite board games is Pandemic, a cooperative game where each player is assigned a “role” on a team of researchers and scientists trying to race against the clock to stop global disease outbreaks. This game has spawned a host of expansions, variations, and even an IOS version that can be played on your Apple devices. The version I’m most looking forward to playing is Pandemic: Legacy, part of the “Legacy” series of board games, in which the actions of one playthrough influence all subsequent playthroughs. If you want to try a co-op game that is strategic and intense, Pandemic is worth checking out.

Voting Third-Party. The election is almost over, and if you haven’t taken the time to make your voice heard (and you’re an American citizen who is legally eligible to vote), I would encourage you to do so in a thoughtful manner. Vote your conscience. Vote for a candidate instead of just against one.

If you don’t like either major-party candidates, I would encourage you not to settle for the one you hate least. Look at the other options on the ballot, or the write-in presidential candidates available in your state. I haven’t done an official “endorsement” post on my blog (mostly because I don’t think it will matter much), but on Tuesday, I’m writing in Evan McMullin for president. I’ve never voted third-party before on any primary or general election, but 2016 is a singular year, and I think this is the best decision I can make.

McMullin reflects my values and ideological positions better than any other candidate on the ballot. While I don’t agree with him on everything, I believe McMullin will act with integrity, courage, and a commitment to conservative ideas. He believes in the sanctity of human life and is committed to limiting the scope and control of federal government. I think the platform McMullin is proposing would be the best thing for the future of the United States, so he gets my vote. If you haven’t voted yet, and McMullin is available in your state as a ballot vote or write-in, I would ask you to consider Evan McMullin for president.

The Chicago Cubs. I already posted my story. But man oh man, I’m still happy about this. So I give you this compilation. Tears. Chills. So good.

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Your Turn: What’s good, fam? Share some of your favorite recent discoveries in the comments.

Let’s Try That Again: Day 1 of Month 2.

[I wrote this entire post last night, only to delete it accidentally, because I was using a tablet instead of my laptop and I switched apps without thinking. So here’s my best approximation of last night’s post.]

One month ago, I wrote about how I was going to treat the first day of the month like a new year, and start working on a new habit of daily Bible reading. How did that work out?

It went pretty well…for about 2 weeks.

Sometime around my birthday celebration, it all kind of fell apart. I stopped reading the Word regularly. I stopped tracking my food intake (resulting in my gaining back the little bit of weight I had lost in the previous month). I stopped working on my 2016 reading list. I just let up for some reason. My normal schedule was disrupted by parties and travel and family activities, and rather than leaning into the daily habits I had been developing, I fell back into bad patterns.

So now, here we are, a month later, and I’m sorry to say that my adherence on last month’s goal was about 50%, if not a tad less. That’s just sad. So you know what that means… Happy New Year! I’m starting over. But not just starting over–I’m adding a new element. (I know, it’s crazy. Just roll with it.)

Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo for a few weeks (hmm–starting to see a pattern) before realizing it wasn’t quite the right time for me. I got about 15,000 words of a novel written, with notes and random scraps of text to carry through the rest of the book and into the next two. Over the last year, the story has been pressing into my consciousness at various times, and I’ve been keeping a record of ideas and insights that have resulted. It’s a project I am determined to get back to, because I think it will be worth doing.

While I’m not going to go full-NaNo this year, I have decided to add something writing-related to Month 2 of this “new-year” approach.  For the month of November, in addition to continuing to increase my Bible intake, I will try to write 300 words a day of something. You will sometimes see the results of this on the blog (like this post!), and other times these words will only be for my own purposes–writing prompts to sharpen my skills, poetry for my wife, incremental work on my novel. 300 words a day–a modest amount. Nothing to go crazy over. But if I do that, at the end of November, I’ll have produced at least 9,000 more words of creative content, which will be a good thing for me, no matter what.

So, welcome to Month 2. I’m looking forward to keeping you up to date on my progress.

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Your Turn: Are you working on any new habits? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? How can I encourage you or help you in that?

 

The4thDave’s Inaugural “Friday Five” (10/28/16)

Back in the olden days of my first blog (please don’t try to find it; it’s much too embarrassing), I had a regular Monday post in which I posted a 10-item bullet-list of random coolness. Sometimes, the bullets were links, sometimes they were just random updates on things, or comments on topics I found interesting. For a while, it was a weekly update of the Cubs’ record (during a bad season, sadly).

While I pretty much use Twitter for that nowadays, I thought it would be fun to try something like that here on the blog. So, starting this week, I’m introducing a semi-regular feature called The4thDave’s Friday Five. I know other blogs do this already, and do it better than I certainly could. But while my Friday Five posts may not be as spiritually-focused as Entreating Favor’s “Daily Discovery” or as particularly useful as Tim Challies’ “A La Carte” posts (and if you’re not checking those out every day, you should!), it will have my personal flair.

Basically, a “Stuff I Like” post with longer commentary than Twitter allows. Don’t expect great depth, in other words.

If you like it, let me know! If you hate it, also let me know! If you don’t care either way, continue in your apathy!

*Mario voice* Here we go!

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One:  My post from February about “voting against and voting for.”
I was considering reposting this piece from February, but I figure I might as well just bump it up this way. Early voting for the US presidential election started this week. As we are now less than 2 weeks from Election Day, I wanted to make one more appeal to you, the voter–vote for something, not just against something. Vote your conscience. Vote for principles.

Two: My wife’s Etsy shop.
Nepotism and self-promotion on my inaugural Friday-Five? You betcha! But if you’re looking for a Christmas gift or something nice with which to decorate your home for the holidays, please take a look at my wife’s Etsy store. She makes beautiful handmade paper crafts, and can do special orders and custom wreaths. A brand-new item she’s just started selling: handmade paper Christmas ornaments (called “Finnish stars”). Super cool.

Three: The end-credits track from the upcoming film “Doctor Strange.”
Composed by Michael Giacchino (who wrote the music for LOST and Up, among others), this track, called “Master of the Mystic Arts,” is a trippy, swirling, operatic delight, bringing in flavors of sitar, harpsichord, and B3 organ. Giacchino has become my favorite film score composer–yes, more than John Williams, there, I said it!–because his instrumental pieces tell stories and connect to the emotions in a powerful way. So it is with this, which only makes me more excited about the upcoming Marvel film. Put on some headphones, turn this track up, and jam.

Four: My favorite musical discovery of 2015-2016. 
I don’t listen to a lot of new music, even though the opportunities for discovering new (or new-to-you) music are higher than ever before. That said, my favorite musical “discovery” of the last couple of years is the Austin band “Explosions in the Sky.” They’ve been around for more than 15 years, but I just realized last year that I really dig their music (which was featured, unbeknownst to me, on both the film and TV versions of Friday Night Lights). It’s technically classified as “post-rock,” but the best way I can describe it is “perfect soundtrack music.” It’s almost entirely instrumental, emotionally evocative, and a perfect soundtrack for making whatever you’re doing seem more epic. My favorite EITS album is The Earth is Not A Cold, Dead Place, so if you want to check them out, start there. That’s the record I keep coming back to.

Five: THE CUBS, y’all. THE CUBS.
I may need to write an entire blog post to suss out exactly what I’m feeling right now about the fact that my Chicago Cubs, my “lovable losers,” the home of my boyhood baseball heroes, are in the World Series for the first time since Harry Truman was president.  As of this writing, they are tied at one game apiece, with Game 3 in legendary Wrigley Field scheduled for tonight. It still seems like a dream. I’m not even the most hardcore, Fever Pitch kind of fan, and I’m really excited about this. Which is why I love stories like this:  Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber collided with a teammate on April 7th (the 5th game of the 2016 season), and tore 2 ligaments in his knee. He didn’t play another inning on the Cubs’ professional squad for 6 months, as he rehabbed, worked out, and played in the Arizona fall league–that is, until Tuesday, when he started as the DH in Game 1 of the World Series. Since then, he has hit 3-for-7 in the first 2 games, with a run and 2 RBI. Awesome.

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Your Turn: Got any cool links, stories, or ideas? Share in the comments below!

Status: Unclear.

I’m not going to belabor the point, but I feel the need to unload a bit of this internal jumble out onto the internet, if you don’t terribly mind:

I’ve been feeling very scattered over the last couple of weeks. October seemed to be start well. I was hitting my daily Scripture reading goals more often than not, tracking my food well, and then my birthday came around and…well, it all sort of fell apart. I sort of fell apart in a handful of small ways.

I hasten to add: Nothing *happened* to cause this. I just…stopped. Stopped reading the Word regularly, stopped tracking my food, stopped exercising, stopped all of it. And I have to tell you, no big surprise here but I’m feeling very jumbled. Very off-center. Very “washing-machine-banging-around-until-you-even-out-the-load.”

Was it related to the birthday? I don’t think so. I’m not aware of any existential dread that arrived when I turned 36. I just shifted into neutral for some reason, and I’ve been coasting for about 2 weeks.

I share this to explain why I haven’t been posting much, and to give those of you who pray an idea of what you can be praying for, in my case.  I think what I really need is to recalibrate a bit. I need to slow down, get back to my core values, and start again.

I’ll check in later in the week. Have a good evening, all.