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2018 Favorites

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Favorite Books of 2018 Just for Fun Lara Jean trilogy by Jenny Han - A fun coming of age story about three sisters.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - Rom-com set in 1999 with realistic characters.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - An introverted fan-fiction writer heads off to freshman year of college.

LiteratureThe Road by Cormac McCarthy - Best book about fatherhood I've read. Read it out loud - it's poetry.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami - Moody, mysterious, foreboding.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey - Space opera at the highest level.
The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski - I was immediately sucked into the magic and political intrigue of this brutal fantasy world.

Spiritual The Rule by St. Benedict - Some say the order of St Benedict is the oldest ongoing organization in the West (outside of the church). You can see why in this timeless classic of school for beginners.

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard …

A Beginner's Guide to Orienteering in an Existential Crisis

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I don't like to brag, but it's Internet in 2018 so I guess I will: Besides being left-handed and knowing a shocking amount about Hallmark movies, one of my standout qualities is the ability to jump from 75 to Brooding in less than a second.  I have decades of experience in brooding, and I've also brooded in over a dozen countries spanning three continents. Many amateurs think they need to sit in the dark and listen to The Smiths while clutching a highball glass like a talisman, but that's rookie stuff. Elite brooders like me can brood in broad daylight with no chemical enhancement needed.

I type all that knowing from experience that depression and melancholy are difficult things to experience, especially around the holidays. While I love pretty much everything about Christmas, the season can bring into relief difficult things that sometimes we'd rather not think about - missing loved ones, unrealized expectations, and the like. But it's not just the holidays. H…

Silence & Speech

I don't talk much.

There are plenty of reasons why.

SILENCE First, the Bible has so many verses about watching your mouth that it's hard to ignore. Here are some choice examples:
"As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God." - Ecclesiastes 5:1"If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." - James 1:26"Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble." - Proverbs 21:23"You must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you." - Matthew 12:36-37"A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent." - Proverbs 17:27-28 Experience, unfortunately, was another tea…

Life in Small Bites

Sam and I recently went to this local bakery called Paige’s Bakehouse. The thing they’re most known for is what I thought were called Petite Fours, but are actually petit fours (small oven). They’re basically mini, ornately decorated little cakes or sweets. Think about if you shrink rayed a full-size cake. It’s that.

That got me thinking about how we view life. I mentioned earlier that instead of seeing life as narrative, A to B to C to Z thing as I had been, I was now viewing it more experientially. More as sensations and still frames and feels than a chronological story.

The petit four dessert from Paige’s got me to this area of thinking about life in small bites, and how the small bite idea is so much healthier than where I’ve been for decades.

I’ve always been a big picture guy. I like questions. Why is all this happening? What’s the point? What’s my role?

By brooding on these big questions, I was trying to understand and see the whole giant cake. I was was also trying to eat th…

Experiential Living + Best Books of 2018 (So Far)

For pretty much all of my life, I’ve been looking at my life as getting from Point A to Point B to Point yada yada, with the idea that it all adds up to one day going to heaven. Point Z, I guess, or Point Upper Case A. Or Point Exclamation Point.

After reading books by Murakami, watching shows like Legion, or the movie Last Days, something shifted. I started seeing life more like impressions and moods and experiences instead of A to B to C. It’s been an interesting way to live, this...I don’t know, artistic way more than a narrative way. It’s kind of a weird feeling as a writer, at least for my kind of writing, to move towards mood instead of plot, but I like it. I don't know if it's better (or worse). I think it's just different and also equally valid. One big benefit I've noticed is that experiences with people are more meaningful because I'm not in a rush to do anything.
Have you ever thought about that? How do you think of your life? Is it more doing things on th…

Prayer of Examen

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Given my recent bounty of leisure time, I've taken up praying more. I realize how sad it is that I "took it up". Shouldn't it be like breathing or eating? But, with help from the Echo app and this discipline of examen, my life prayer life (well, all my life) has improved. What is examen? As you can guess from the word itself, it's the practice of looking at your life. You don't just look yourself, and you don't just look at yourself. You look with the Holy Spirit at your day to figure out where God was (hint:everywhere), how you did, and how you can be better tomorrow. This six minute video can get you going:


I also recommend checking out this website for more resources.

The biggest thing that's changed for me is I'm more mindful of my behavior, before, during, and after it happens. I'm also more grateful for all of the good things that happen. Highly recommend!

Be a Lake

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On a whim, I recently picked up Yumi Sakugawa's gem of a graphic novel called Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe. In it, Sakugawa provides readers with nine meditative exercises. She's whimsically illustrated each idea and exercise in black and white.

My favorite little exercise asks readers to not only pay attention to the universe around us, but also the universe within us. We're complicated people, and marvelously made (Psalm 139). It's good for us to examine our inner world and figure out what we can learn. Sakugawa asks the readers to do it by acting as if our inner world is its own real planet on which we're traveling. What can you learn from snowy mountain tops, or from cavernous depths? What's that inner world saying?

I honestly didn't know how to approach this little exercise. I just tried my hardest to think on it, but I fell asleep. However, as I was going about the next day, I was hit with a complete mental image of a dark,…

Phrase of 2018: Good for Good!

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Historically, I have been awful at New Year's Resolutions. Before the spring season is over, I often forget that I even made a resolution. Resolutions are out as a tool for me. But, I still want to be a better person by the end of the year. How do I get to there from here?

This year I'm trying out a phrase instead of a resolution. The phrase de l'annĂ©e is Good for Good! It's kind of vague, yes, but that's because I had to fit a lot of idea into three words. The gist is this: Taking care of my self is important because it better enables me to serve and love others. Physically, I need to take care of my body through rest, nutrition, and exercise. Spiritually and mentally, I need to spend time God with through constant prayer, Scripture, and reflection. The end goal isn't self-actualization, though that's a bonus of being a Jesus-lovin-son-of-a-gun. The actual goal isn't me; the actual goal is to be more ready and fully capable of participating in God'…

2017 in 37 Questions

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
I read more than sixty books, which is definitely a personal record!

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not quite. I intended to post something every day on Instagram that I was thankful for, but I stopped before February. It felt showy or braggy. However, In my journal and apps I did try to think of what I was thankful for every day. So I did try and stick with it throughout the year, just not in a public way. I'll try to keep that up in my normal journal in 2018.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes. Babies everywhere, all the time.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My friends' dog, Shelby, died. She and I had been friends for more than ten years, and it was sad to see her go. It was comforting knowing she had basically the best dog life imaginable.
Chris Cornell, one of my top three all-time favorite songwriters and my favorite rock singer, died. While he killed himsel…