A New Goal

This book taunts me daily.  What is it? It is the complete works of Thomas Jefferson.  The inside lists them this way:

  • Autobiography
  • A Summary View of the Rights of British America
  • Notes on the State of Virginia
  • Public Papers
  • Addresses, Messages, and Replies
  • Miscellany
  • Letters

I am not sure what inspired me to read this book in the first place.  I think it might have been when I watched that HBO series on John Adams and it talked about how they wrote letters back and forth to each other.  When I ordered the book, I don’t think I expected it to be 1517 pages long and include a section called “Miscellany.”  But I have it.  And it’s been on my reading list for two years now.  I will conquer it this year. (I think it’s important to note here that my friend Zach is currently conquering the 7 Summits, while I am conquering Thomas Jefferson.  Listen, not all of us can handle the altitude!)  I have made a decision that I will read 10 pages of this book every day. So, knowing me and that I will miss some days, also factoring in my vacation in April, it should take me about 170 days.  That puts me at August 16, which is, coincidentally, Rick’s birthday (I was actually really shocked when I landed on that day just now).  I think that’s a good day to finish.  We will see how this goes!

REVISED 2010 Reading List

With my recent job change that wasn’t in view when I made my initial list, I have decided to alter my list a little bit.  A couple of the books on the old list were there to improve my skills at work, not because I really wanted to read them.  They don’t really apply to my new job, so I revised the list.  Some of the additions are related to my new job, some were inspired by books that I have already read this year, and some were free downloads on the Kindle.  Here it is:

  1. The State of Jones- Jenkins & Stauffer
  2. Counterfeit Gods- Timothy Keller
  3. South of Broad- Pat Conroy
  4. Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?- Pete Wilson
  5. The Noticer- Andy Andrews
  6. Open: An Autobiography- Andre Agassi
  7. Walking With God- John Eldredge
  8. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson- Thomas Jefferson
  9. Cold Tangerines- Shana Niequist
  10. Boundaries- Cloud & Townsend
  11. When The Heart Waits- Sue Monk Kidd
  12. For Women Only- Shaunti Feldmann
  13. Velvet Elvis- Rob Bell
  14. If You Want To Walk On Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat- John Ortberg
  15. Orthodoxy- G.K. Chesterton
  16. Life of the Beloved- Henri Nouwen
  17. The Best Question Ever- Andy Stanley
  18. Born to Run- Christopher Mcdougall
  19. Facedown- Matt Redman & Louie Giglio
  20. The Unquenchable Worshipper- Matt Redman
  21. Blessed Be Your Name- Matt & Beth Redman
  22. Into Thin Air- Jon Krakauer
  23. A Champion’s Mind- Pete Sampras
  24. Desperate Hope- Candi Pearson-Shelton
  25. The Traveler’s Gift- Andy Andrews

Kelly Went to California

(The title of this post was completely ripped off from the title to my friend’s (Eddie Kirkland) song.  So thanks, Eddie even though I didn’t get permission from you to use it!)

Last week I had an awesome trip to Southern California!  I have two sets of friends who’ve had babies in the past year or so and I wanted to meet them!  I spent the first few days in Riverside visiting Aaron and Sarah, who recently welcomed Talia into their family.  I have known these guys since my Costa Rica days and since before they were dating, so they are definitely special friends!  It was amazing to get to meet Talia who is so precious!  Sarah also gave me some great photography tips (she taught me how to use the manual settings on my camera).  I love hanging out with these guys!  Sarah is also the best photographer I know, so check out her website here and her blog here.

The last few days I spent in San Diego visiting the incredible Leeman family!  I worked with Lisa at NPCC for a long time and we became friends through that.  Then she met and married Troy who lived in San Diego.  He stole Lisa and sweet Arden away from Atlanta, but I am so happy for them, and was so excited to meet their little Ryker!  It was a blast!

I was also able to spend about 24 hours by myself in Newport Beach and Balboa Island.  That is definitely my favorite part of California, so it was nice to walk around, take pictures, look into shops, and talk to random people along the way.  I loved it!

Here are some of my favorite shots from my trip using my new camera skills taught by Sarah!

Book Review: The State of Jones

I loved this book.  But then again, I love history!  This book took me on a journey through a part of the Civil War that I was not familiar with.  It takes you back to Jones County, Mississippi where some Southern Unionists decided that they were not going to support to Confederate cause, so they started their own territory and their own government (using the Union laws and policies).  It also gives a good look into the lives of the Unionists in the South and the hardships of the families of soldiers who were at war.  It takes you through “Reconstruction” and really gave me a unique perspective on life in the South after the war.  Keep in mind, this isn’t a novel by any stretch of the imagination, but if you like a good history book, I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Open

If you are a tennis rat, this is the book for you.  He takes you through his entire tennis career, basically match by match.  He also takes you through his many hairstyles and clothing choices, which was entertaining.  I was really into this book, despite it being so long and SUPER detailed.  I had a hard time putting this one down.  If you don’t really like tennis, this is not the book for you.  If you are easily offended by language, this is also not the book for you.

Thoughts On Pride

I was reading through the book Counterfeit Gods when I was punched in the gut by the following thought from that book:

No one who is seriously wronged can “just forgive” the perpetrator.  If you have been robbed of money, opportunity, or happiness, you can either make the wrongdoer pay it back or you can forgive.  But when you forgive, that means you absorb the loss and the debt.  You bear it yourself.  All forgiveness, then, is costly.

When I was going through my discipleship training school with YWAM back in 2000, we had a whole week of teaching on relationships.  I don’t remember much of what the guy said, honestly, but there was this one line that he said over and over again that I will never forget (mostly because he said it over and over again.):

Every problem in the world is a relationship problem.  The problem with relationships is pride.  The solution to that problem is humility.

That sounds pretty basic.  The problem, I think, is that we are so caught up in ourselves and “justice” and “fairness” for ourselves, that we don’t even realize how prideful we are.

It is true that the greatest cause of destruction in relationships is pride.  A lack of humility.  It is fatal.  If it is present, relationships cannot succeed.  We must die to ourselves daily.  Ephesians says:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Since reading that book, my mind has been bombarded with ways that pride can kill relationships.  Things we say or do that we call “godly.”  We disguise our punishment of people and our pride and call it “an apology” or “confronting in love.”

The truth is that forgiveness, or saying “I forgive you” with the intent of teaching the offender a lesson is not forgiveness at all.  It’s pride and it’s destructive.

“I’m sorry” followed by an excuse or an accusation (i.e. I am sorry but you were a really big jerk too) is not an apology and only widens the gap of dissension.

Confrontation that lacks love and complete humility only causes more damage.  It’s arrogance disguised by a biblical principle.

I’m not sure exactly where to land this thing because I haven’t even come close to processing all of this.  I think these verses from 1 Peter about sum it up though:

I Peter 3:8-12

8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
11He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Book Review: South of Broad

I got really into this book and had a hard time putting it down.  It’s a really interesting story by an author that I had not read before.  It offers a very unique view of the South, particularly Charleston, in the 60’s-90’s.  I am not sure that I would recommend this book, however.  Though the story was intriguing, it was also pretty inappropriate at points and several aspects were a little too haunting for me.  If I am thinking about something for several days after I read it that wasn’t a “life lesson” I am always a little wary of it.  So, read at your own risk.

Book Review: The Noticer

This was just a great story. It’s a very easy and short read. There are some great lessons in this one, and of course I pulled a few quotes:

“A best friend,” he said softly, “will tell you the truth . . . and a wise best friend will include a healthy dose of perspective.”

“Look young man,” Jones went on, a bit more seriously, “your father and all his problems are in the past. Here he is, dead, and you’re still dragging this ‘my dad was an alcoholic’ thing around! It’s time to stop letting your history control your destiny.”

“Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?” “Well . . . four.” “No.” Jones responded. ” There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.”

“Intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”

Book Review: Counterfeit Gods

At first I wasn’t a big fan of this book.  The first couple of chapters seems like “duh” information.  But, the more I read, the more I became intrigued and dug in deep.  I highly recommend this one.  It gave me a very different perspective on some aspects of this life that I considered “harmless.”  Here are some quotes that really hit home with me from this one:

“An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life had meaning, then I’ll know that I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’ There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.”

“If you are too afraid to love or too enamored by it, it has assumed godlike power, distorting your perceptions and your life.”

“If we are deeply moved by the sight of his love for us, it detaches our hearts from other would-be saviors.  We stop trying to redeem ourselves through out pursuits and relationships, because we are already redeemed.  We stop trying to make others into saviors, because we have a Savior.”

“The biblical story of salvation assaults our worship of success at every point.”

“The increasing political polarization and bitterness we see in U.S. politics today is a sign that we have made political activism into a form of religion. . . in the biblical view of things, the main problem in life is sin, and the only solution is God and his grace.  The alternative to this view is to identify something besides sin as the main problem with the world and something besides God as the main remedy.”