newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: February, 2016

Lacking in depth, but sooooooo totally not the point.

This is a review of the book The Comeback by Louie Giglio.

31tc8cdh2nl-_sx325_bo1204203200_Sometimes when I write a book review, I will scroll through what others have said on a site like Amazon before I start writing so I know I’m not repeating others. One of the more negative comments people have made about The Comeback (which I found to be an enjoyable read) is that it is “like eating candy instead of meat and potatoes”, and that it is a simplistic presentation of Bible stories without any real depth to them. I agree that if the reader approaches this book hoping for a jaw-dropping, fresh-revelation, deep dive into Scripture he or she will be let down. But that isn’t the point of Giglio’s project and why the vast majority of negative reviews should be ignored.

In The Comeback, Giglio presents the reader with the reality that no matter how far he or she has slipped, strayed, fallen, etc., it is never too late to start over. Whether feeling like not living up to potential, giving up on a dream, all the way to drug addictions, the notion of a “comeback” is what Giglio encourages the reader to go after. Giglio uses a combination of personal anecdotes, stories of individuals, and Bible stories to emphasize the same point, no matter what it is always the appropriate time for a comeback. This book is meant to gently and graciously coax the reader into making a positive change.

Giglio’s tone all throughout the book is one of love and patience. I was impressed with how he manages to use everything from Biblical narratives to Johnny Cah to the Auburn-Alabama Iron Bowl game from a few years back as perfect examples to bring home the key ideas in his text. One of my favorite examples that he incorporates in this book is one of an abstract art project his dad creates which is too big for hanging so they cut out a portion of the picture Giglio frames the smaller section and hangs it in his office. The point of that story- brilliantly conveyed- is that most of the time we are not able to understand our situations because we can’t see the context of the “big picture.”

Overall, the writing is simplistic and accessible, and that is what makes this a good book. No matter the reader’s circumstances, he or she will be able in reading The Comeback to come to the realization that is never too late for one.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for publishing a review. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions contained are mine.

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An update on the dad-front.

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Back-to-back snow days has been a treat. I’ve been able to stay around the house and spend quality time with my wife and newborn daughter (she is technically no longer premature since we are past what would have been her due date). I have finished two books and am wondering if I might be able to knock out a third today. Probably wishful thinking.

Kizzy and I move forward with our ambitious plan to read through The HobbitThe Fellowship of the RingThe Two Towers, and The Return of the King before the end of this year. We passed page 100 of The Hobbit this morning; we’re off to a good start!

I made a New Year’s resolution to avoid the “dad bod”. While I have not necessarily kept the best eating habits over the last couple days, I have maintained proper hydration and managed to work out still. I need to be under 215 lbs. by 1/19/2017. It’s possible.

I like snow days.

How do I get my wife on board with the idea of a second major tax deduction in one year?

I think the subject line for this blog post says it all. And of course, anyone who has been keeping up with the life of me and my wife knows that we had a large tax deduction (our daughter Keziah) last month. So this post could be alluding to a second child in one year.

Or…

It could be an open invitation to the greater Interwebs community to give us creative ideas for how to get a break on next year’s tax return now that we are more or less a one-income family.

I’m open to suggestions.

Every once in a while, it’s nice to have some hope.

This is a review of the book Dangerous Love by Dr. Ray Norman.

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Because of time commitments and the general hustle of life, I do not get as much time to read as I used to. On top of that I also do not have as many opportunities to try and read a book from start to finish in one afternoon. I sat down with Dr. Ray Norman’s Dangerous Love and not only finished it in one afternoon, but I walked away from the book feeling like it was an afternoon well spent.

Dangerous Love is the story of a man whose life is blown apart by a senseless act of violence enacted on him and his ten-year-old daughter in the middle of the Islamic Republic of Mauratania after 9/11 and all the events that happen in the wake of the tragic event. The book opens with what could almost be called a prologue where Norman describes the moment when the attacker tries to kill him and his daughter, ending the short introduction painting a vivid image of his critically wounded daughter.

From there, Norman describes the process of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing he, his daughter, and his wife must all go through. Norman is very transparent about his thoughts, and about many of the unspoken issues he and his wife had to work through during this time period. All along the way though is a remarkable story of hope in times of suffering and radical grace that had me choked up a few times while reading it. Norman brings the story to life in an easily relatable way that leaves the reader feeling like he now knows the author intimately well.

I am not usually the guy who picks up these kind of “hope in adversity” books because I find them kitsch and cliche; this book is immune from any of that sort of glibness. The book resonated with me because Ray Norman comes from a place of (temporary) spiritual abandonment, which is something that all Christians will experience at some point.

Overall, I cannot endorse Dangerous Love enough. It is worth the read. Consider getting ahold of a copy and finding out just how on the money my thoughts on this book are.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for publishing a review of it. I was not obligated to publish a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

What’re you doing? Running away; you? Running home.

Comic books.

Graphic novels.

The funnies.

Call them what you will, but don’t call them a waste of time. Or at least not all of them.

I’ve been reading the collected Essex County from Jeff Lemire. This is by far the best graphic novel omnibus I have EVER read; someone get me my own copy of this thing please. I would be grateful.

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All the action takes place in rural Essex County (Ontario), Canada. Lemire uses intertwining character arcs to guide the reader through some of the most complex aspects of the human condition: grief, loneliness, family, and what it ultimately means to be human. And Lemire does it really, REALLY well.

But while I could rave about this graphic novel trilogy endlessly…

Essex County gets to the heart of why we need more in life than rigid scientific rules and everything having to fit into a neat box. Good art, whether musical, visual, sensual (ever curl up under a handwoven afghan???) does something that science, technology, engineering, and math cannot do. And that one thing is make a person feel.

We need people willing to embrace the emotive, expressive, sides of their nature. I could read you the definition of “loss” from a dictionary, or tell you how to treat it based on a psychology textbook. Or, I could play you The Fray’s “How to Save a Life”, show you a brilliantly taken photograph, or have you read Essex County and confront you with your own humanity and emotion in a way that “STEM” can’t.

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I am tired of politicians and no-nothings so damned convinced that the only important subjects in school are the ones with neat, scientifically provable answers. That is not life. Well, maybe I should that is life. But it is not humanity. And not having opportunities to encounter our own humanity is one of the worst travesties that living could ever provide.

A perfectly planned, scientific blog post would have a carefully constructed ending. But sometimes “messy” requires that the post just ends…

 

Our best Valentine’s Day in few years.

Six days from today should have been our (my wife’s and my) last Valentine’s Day without kids to add into the mix. And then Sarah developed complications because of her pregnancy which resulted in our daughter having to be induced and brought into the world four and a half weeks early. So suffice it to say that our almost four-week-old newborn drastically limited our options for how to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2016. So here’s how we celebrated the “holiday”:

  1. I went to church and Sarah stayed home with Kizzy.
  2. I brought home Chinese takeout.
  3. We napped.
  4. Sarah did a little bit of set-up work in the nursery.
  5. We watch some of season two of Scrubs.
  6. We stayed in and relaxed with our daughter.

And it is these things which led my wife and I to conclude that Valentine’s Day 2016 is the best V-Day we have had in a decent few years. V-Day 2011 I was unemployed, going through health problems and a depressed wreck. Four years ago on Valentine’s Day, unfamiliar with how high-traffic restaurants in Fort Wayne are, we struggled to find a place to eat out and ended up driving around town and finally settled on Texas Roadhouse with a 1 hour 15 minute wait.

On Valentine’s Day 2013 I spent the evening throwing up after eating shrimp; I have an allergy but I thought that because it was a “holiday” that it wouldn’t count. Two years ago I had strep throat, and last year, 2015, it was Sarah’s turn to be getting sick all evening. So in essence, once we got married Valentine’s Day has been statistically a less-than-enjoyable day.

With hope, maybe this will be the beginning of something better.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

My three-week old is smarter than yours. But not by choice.

My three-week old daughter Keziah has taken on an ambitious task for a little girl who, born four and a half weeks premature, still hasn’t reached her actual “due date”. This ambitious task is to have The Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy read to her in their entirety before Halloween.

Full disclosure: She did not actually set the goal herself. Her daddy -me- did that for her to help her work on language acquisition. Expect this post updated when Sarah gets a picture of me reading with her.

A book that explains why my wife gets frustrated with me. Sometimes.

This is a review of the book Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes.

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I like chaos and unpredictability, and am okay with spontaneity. My wife is the opposite; it is all about order and sticking to the plan. Sometimes I wish I could find a way to get her to understand the upsides of ambiguous situations and circumstances. In Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing, the newest book from Jamie Holmes, I might have found the perfect explanation.

To state that in considering Nonsense that Holmes has done his homework is an understatement. Each chapter is loaded with analysis of research studies, current events, and experiments, and it is presented in an engaging way that brings to mind a book like Leavitt and Dubner’s Freakonomics. Whether Holmes is discussing psychology experiments connected to hoaxy alien encounters, the evolution of Absolut ads, how vague situations enable an individual to “stumble” over the answer to a problem, or how the brain is able to synthesize seeming opposites, the material is presented in a way that is accessible to readers of many levels and in a way that makes sense.

I appreciate this book because I was reading it, there were times where I thought, “I wondered that too.” But then there were other times where I thought, “That is totally me. I understand why others would be frustrated by that.” If I had a critique of the book, it might be that Holmes might have at points brought too much information to the table but other times it felt like there was not enough.

In the end, my wife sometimes wants me to appreciate structure more. I look for open-ended situations as a way to be spontaneous. If something unpredictable happens, I am okay with that. Reading Nonsense is a way for me to understand why I enjoy not knowing so much.

I received my copy of this book for free through the Blogging for Books program. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are my own.

 

Zen and the art of bottle feeding.

When it comes to baby care, bottle feeding is not my forte. Every time I sit down to feed my daughter, it feels like submission wrestling. Trying to help my daughter develop a good latch technique leaves me feeling like I’m practicing strangleholds. And on top of that, it is not uncommon for me to break into a sweat.

This thought crossed my mind a few days ago, so since then I have started paying a little more attention to my own non-verbal cues during feeding. I have never been able to get her to eat a full bottle for me, so I wondered if there was anything I could do to help the process.

I noticed today that while I was feeding my daughter, three things were going on. The first was that I was sitting with my toes curled. The second was that I was breathing quicker and more shallowly. The third thing I noticed was that my grip on the bottle was almost a deathlock. So I planted my feet on the floor, and began taking deep breaths to relax the muscles and tendons in my arms, legs, hands, and feet. I worked on doing that and lo and behold: Kizzy finished her bottle.

Moral of the story: Caffeine-addicted dads may not be naturals at bottle feeding our children, but it can be done.

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