by Jason Reynolds

December 30, 2017

I scrawled the names of many books in my iPhone during our annual family outing to the Texas Book Festival last month. Since I was with my kids, many of those books were Young Adult books, so this might be the first of a few YA that show up here in my recent reads.

Several authors raved about Long Way Down, and we went to two different panels that Jason Reynolds participated in, so here it is. Fit this in the category of books that take me totally outside my experience as it chronicles a minute in the life of a boy who is preparing to take revenge out on someone who he thinks murdered his older brother.

This “minute in the life” takes more than a minute to read, but I read it in one sitting. It’s a short read because it’s written in verse, but also because it keeps pulling your forward in the story.

December 30, 2017 10:38 am

At any rate, the creed is necessarily something we say together, something we can only truly believe together. … We’d have to keep asking each other whether or not we believe. I assume I’d hold you up on your weak days, and you’d hold me up on mine.

Just started reading this book by my friend Winn. I imagine there will be many passages I highlight as enthusiastically as I did this one.

December 28, 2017

I’ve been working with ShippingEasy since 2013, when the relocated to the United States and launched a massive update of their product. I was hired to create their marketing site in WordPress, merging a design that they provided with a Bootstrap template they liked. A year later, we rolled out a new site using a similar process, and it’s had many revisions along the way.

A few weeks ago, we launched an entire new design. They had a designer work up a new site from scratch, and then I built out the code on top of their existing site structure and content. A few of the interior pages are still getting facelifts, but it’s a fresh new look that was a lot of fun to build.

December 28, 2017 7:36 pm

The primary function of my blog when I began, oh so long ago, was to share thoughts about the many books I read. (Well…and also to get some Amazon Associate links going to help sustain my reading habit.) I’ve not kept up with that for the last few years, but I’m working my way back to that.

I created a new post format for my blog to post thoughts about some of the books I’ve read. I’m not intending to write reviews or even synopses, but just to capture some thoughts after I finish each book and it’s still fresh in my mind.

An example of the first post of this kind is below…

by Dexter Palmer

December 28, 2017

I’ve been loading up my library wish list with all the books I’m finding on all of the “Best of 2017” lists. All the while, I’m still working through the books that I added from all of the “Best of 2016” lists. Case in point… Version Control, by Dexter Palmer.

As science fiction goes, I hereby declare there is a sub-genre called Science Fiction Realism. Yes, it’s a close kin to Magical Realism. It’s the kind that takes place in our known world within history or the not too distant future. The setting is familiar, but events are introduced which are outside the usual reality.

I make this declaration in order to state that:

  1. This is my favorite kind of science fiction
    I don’t as much enjoy the labor of forming mental constructions of whole new worlds and alien races that science fiction often requires. But I like the idea of a story that stretches the boundaries of this known world in a way that I can identify with the story but also imagine a different reality.
  2. Version Control is this kind of science fiction.
    It’s a near future story that mixes elements of mild dystopia due to the reign of social media, broken relationships and racial tensions with mild elements of science fiction. It will be one I remember to recommend to others. In fact, I did earlier today.

December 19, 2017

I’ve had a tenuous relationship with the enneagram for 10 years or so. I’ve appreciated the framework of it more than any other ‘personality’ profile, yet I found myself often switching around how I thought I best fit within it. Most often, though, I came back to the Enneagram 5. This podcast conversation hosted by Ian Cron offered the most helpful explanation of 5 I’ve heard in a way that I can finally, and firmly, plant my 5 flag.

December 19, 2017

Had the pleasure of beta-testing Scrivener 3 over the last many months and it’s just right. Often, useful software bloats and complicates over time. Scrivener 3, while adding a bunch of improvements, is still Scrivener. When you open it, it looks better, but familiar. The core purpose that I’ve used it for is still what it does best — break down a writing project into maneagable pieces and reference material. My only gripe is that I don’t have any longer form projects going at the moment to use Scrivener with.

December 4, 2017 8:11 pm

I’ve long had on my list to update the website the blue and orange for football season. But the Broncos are such a mess right now, I’m content to keep Angels colors in play and look forward to the spring.

December 4, 2017

Can’t think of a sermon where I’ve gotten as much positive and kind feedback. Also can’t think I’ve a sermon where I’ve gotten more grief…mostly nice grief. Listen and see for yourself — unless you hate history.

December 2, 2017

Chris Morton and I continued, and finished, our Catechesis series with a conversation through a few more of the questions that were submitted from the aMS church community.

November 28, 2017

We took questions from our church community to close out the Catechesis series. There were more questions than there was time to answer. I was glad to have two others from our leadership team — April Karli and Shane Blackshear — join me in responding to the questions.

November 14, 2017

Golly. When I was lining up the sermons for this series, why did I give myself this one? Truth be told, I did a similar topic the week before Easter, but there was still plenty to talk about this time around. And I’m thinking there’s still plenty more to be said on this one…

November 7, 2017

I forever enjoy hearing the creative processes of others — especially hearing how some of the most creative and outside the box thinkers thrive in the most structured rhythms. This whole interview is interesting, but especially Cuomo talking about how he focuses on a specific and different element of songwriting each day of the week.

November 1, 2017

This one ties closely to the sermon the week before on God’s role in creation. A lot of focus on Genesis 1, with some included thoughts from Vishal Mangalwadi, John Walton, and Anne Lamott.

October 28, 2017

Extras that I couldn’t get to in the sermon from the Sunday before. This one focus on some musings about the problem of evil.

October 25, 2017

I took a brief planned hiatus which turned into a longer unplanned hiatus. But it was good to get back to the fancy mic with Rich Villodas on the other end. Too bad I forgot to make sure my fancy mic was actually turned on in the settings, instead of my MacBook’s dinky sad mic.

October 25, 2017

Still having so much fun with this series called Catechesis on long held beliefs of the Christian faith. Perhaps a little too much attention was given in this on to Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Jürgen Moltmann’s eyebrows.

A Simple Workflow for Book Exercises

You know...those parts at the ends of chapters you usually blaze past

October 18, 2017 | Leave a comment

I have a goal to read at least 52 books every year — an average of a book a week. I’ve met that goal every year since 2004. I love to read. I also love to say I have read…that long list of books I’ve read probably makes me feel a little too good about myself. (Completely unrelated, but important — I read The Brothers Karamazov this summer!)

I don’t want to be too hard on myself here, because I do get something akin to a dopamine hit when I learn something new. I browse library and bookstore alike, scanning for covers and titles that catch my eye and curiosity. So, it is true to say that it is reading that I love as ideas pass through my progressive lenses into my brain.

But, I recognize that I’m also eager to move on to the next idea as soon as one book is in the final few pages. I have a helpful system to capture notes from books for future reference, and that often gets put to use in sermons and conversations.

Most of the time, though, I’m not so eager to stop and fully engage the ideas I read. I’d rather stuff them in my brain with the other words I’ve read and move on to consume more. Me is to words as Cookie Monster is to cookies.

I’m progressing in age, as that mention of lenses above might have told you. And maybe I’m gaining a little patience and wisdom too —- at least enough to recognize that those exercises and questions I often find at the end of chapters might be helpful to engage beyond a skim.

A few months ago I created a system to make space in my attention for those exercises. I’m a regular journaler in Day One, capturing personal reflections, beans or bourbons I’m imbibing at home, movies I’ve seen, and yes, books I’ve finished reading.

The ease of getting photos in Day One has made it a streamlined way to work through book exercises too. When I run across an exercise in a book I think worth returning to, I capture an image of it into Day One. A screenshot of an iPad screen, or a quick photo of a Kindle screen or (gasp!) physical page does the trick. I tag that entry with the Book title and an incomplete tag. A task in OmniFocus prompts me daily to work back through the unfinished tag to see what exercises still await.

Am I new man in the last few months after adding this workflow? Probably not.
Am I a little more thoughtful? Hopefully.
Am I more intentional and deliberate turning ideas into growth? I think I can say yes.

October 17, 2017 8:20 am

Mulling on the page is an artless art form. It is fooling around. It is doodling. It is the way that ideas slowly take shape and form until they are ready to help us see the light. All too often, we try to push, pull, outline, and control our ideas instead of letting them grow organically. The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.

Just finished my third time going through The Artist’s Way. Didn’t stir as much in me this time around, but still find resonance with occasional idea like this one that can be found throughout.

October 12, 2017

A companion to the sermon below. We’ve been offering extra content in this series to include some of the parts that didn’t make it in the sermon, as well as reflect on what has come out of the discussions in the community groups. Never thought it would be so easy to sit in an empty room and talk into a mic for 40 minutes…