A Changed Life


The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert:  An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Crown & Covenant Publications, 2014. Link is to the author’s website.

This book recently came up in a discussion with my friend Clover.  “You’d better not read that book if you’re not serious about your faith,” she said.  How true.  I had read it earlier when our pastor quoted from it in a sermon and kept thinking that I should include it in this blog.  Clover’s comments spurred me on.  There’s a new expanded version out now but I couldn’t find that image.  The version includes some sections written by the pastor who reached out to Butterfield and was instrumental in her salvation.

I fell in love with this book when I read the following:

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A Quiet Week

Next week Gideon starts back to college classes.  He has his fourth chemo and an MRI of his spine next Friday, thus moving along in the process of finishing out his treatment and getting rid of his braces.  I was so hoping that he wouldn’t have to wear those hot, bulky things back to school, but we have to wait until he can get in to see the “crazy spine doctor” who prescribed the braces in the first place.  This week was a nice lull.

We did make it to the Denver Botanic Gardens on Monday to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit, and Gideon was able to walk around for a couple of hours before saying that he’d had it for the day.  If you live in the Denver area I can’t urge you strongly enough to go to this event before it closes in November.  (My posts tend to be a little bossy, don’t they?  Read this book.  Go to this exhibit.)  Chihuly is the guy who does those unbelievable glass sculptures.  In this exhibit, the installation is as impressive as the art itself, as you come upon glass spires shooting up in the midst of flowers, or glass spheres floating in the water.  There’s a canoe piled with glass.  I cannot imagine the amount of work it must have taken to get these huge, fragile pieces into place.  As I said on the way home, “They did way more than they had to.”

Then Gideon got an unexpected treat.  His dear aunt Carol, Jim’s sister, had e-mailed him about the possibility of his attending SIGGRAPH, the computer graphics convention being held in Vancouver this year (and which we would probably have attended in person had Gideon been able to do his internship in Seattle this summer) by means of a remote-controlled robot.  Way cool!  He could control the robot with his laptop, moving around the various exhibits, sitting in on presentations, and carrying on conversations with various attendees.  A great boost.

A big week coming up!  Hope to have a good report next Friday.

How It All Began


The Happiness Project:  Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin, HarperCollins, 2009 (original hardback publication date; now available in several other formats)

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a formal review (well, as formal as these things ever are) of The Happiness Project, since that book kicked off my whole “Intentional Living” thing.  I give credit to the book in Intentional Happiness and also on the home page of this website, but here’s some further information.  Gretchen Rubin certainly doesn’t need my help in selling any more books, as she’s sold about a gazillion already, and I would like for everyone reading this to buy a copy of my book first, but then after that you should buy a copy of her book if you’re one of the half dozen people who hasn’t already done so.

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Third Chemo–Halfway Through!

Really, there’s not a lot to say in this post.  We made it in to the doctor’s office in plenty of time, the procedure went very smoothly, and I got to eat my traditional eggs and sausage breakfast at the St. Luke’s cafeteria.  Gideon wanted to stop at Chipotle’s on the way home for lunch, so he obviously felt pretty good.  College classes start two weeks from Tuesday for him, and it looks as though he’ll be doing just fine for them.  We may start out with my driving him in to campus for the first few weeks just so he can avoid the jouncing of the light rail and the long hike across campus.  He should be able to get out of his braces in three weeks or so, which will be a great relief for all concerned.   An MRI at that point will tell the spine surgeon what the deal is, but it seems pretty clear that his left leg is continuing to gain strength, thus indicating that his spinal column is healing on its own.  So he’s continuing to slog on through.

We appreciate everyone’s prayers and concern so much!  If all goes as planned, the last chemo will be sometime at the end of the first week of October with a PET scan to follow.  I’ll be posting updates after future chemos.

Eating Lean Is Pretty Mean


The Big FAT Surprise:  Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz, Simon and Schuster, 2014.

Let me say that I hope Teicholz makes a ton of money from this book.  She deserves that, having spent the past nine years doing the research for the 337 pages of text plus 100+ pages of notes that comprise this book.  And the message is:  Whatever you think you know about what current research tells us constitutes healthy eating, you’re almost certainly wrong.  If you go back and actually look at the original data for the studies that have been so influential in our dietary thinking over the past few decades, as Teicholz has done, you’ll find that they don’t actually say what it’s been said that they say.

So, for example, take a look at the so-called “Mediterranean Diet,” beloved in song and story.  What does it consist of?  Lots of vegetables, lots of whole grains, fish, and the very occasional serving of red meat.  The fat of choice is olive oil, gallons of it.

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The Importance of Humility

Humility Book Mahaney

Humility:  True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney, Multnomah Books, 2005. Link is to the book’s Amazon page.

This little book packs a lot into a few pages.  We’d had it around the house for years and I’d never read it, which is a shame, as I could have benefited from it much sooner.  At first I struggled to get through it, as I found it a bit dry.  Come on, C.J.!  Tell us a few jokes, the way you do in your sermons!  (I’ve heard Mahaney speak several times when he was a guest preacher at a former church.)  As the book went on, though, I became more and more involved in it.  The best chapters come at the end.

Let me quote from chapter 9, “Encouraging Others”:

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