Thursday, July 31, 2014

The What and The Why: Taking Inventory in Summer 2014: Part 2

As if I needed to say more, right? Well, yeah. Kinda.

It's a funny thing the way my mind works (and my grammar too; one post I'm "Stilted McGee" and the next I just let it run). Anyway, Monday I posted about my fierce intentionality to live well based on knowing that life has eternal meaning and significance, regardless of what I do with it. That assurance, of course, comes from Christ and my deeply held belief that we are all part of his ongoing, eternal narrative of redemption.

I still hold to that truth as I type this, but I think I did myself a disservice in my last post. Here's the deal: On Monday,  I said I was not very good at executing my plans or staying on task and reaching my goals.

Truth is, I feel that way sometimes. And sometimes it is, in fact, true.

But not always.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The What and The Why: Taking Inventory in Summer 2014

Each month, I try to take an inventory of what I am doing and why. Most folks don't need to do this, but I do. I require the pause--the respite from life's busy-ness--to recalibrate, to refocus, to keep my heart and mind in check. But between you and me, I'm not very good at it.

My intentionality is not always affective. Sometimes it just reminds me of how many things I've ineptly tried to integrate (or juggle)--Home, Faith, Family, Friends, Wealth, Health, Hobbies, Novels, Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Articles and on and on...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Is a Brief Update Better Than None?

I struggle with that above heading. Is it better to hit the web with a quick and dirty post or would it benefit my readership more if I post sparingly but with greater depth? To be honest, I don't have an answer. I know that I feel like I'm off schedule if I'm not posting something every four days, but I don't know if I should be posting just for posting's sake.

I have a game plan come September for a shift that I think will make your visits here more worthwhile. In the meantime, here's a brief update on my other writing pursuits as of today:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

BOUNDARIES and FREEDOM: My latest at x3Church

Below is an excerpt from my latest submission to X3Church, in which I extol both the virtues and possible vices of placing boundaries on one's life due to addiction.

"Boundaries are useful only to the extent that they have meaning; a meaningless boundary does nothing but impede freedom, and recovery is all about being free. This is why I treat many of my boundaries as lines in the sand rather than laws etched in stone. As habits and patterns change, so too should our mindset; addicts need to get to a place where freedom is normal again. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recommendation: Deliver Us from Evil

Deliver Us From Evil is the new film from writer/director Scott Derrickson, who continues to establish himself as a unique voice in the horror genre thanks in part to his ability to blend familiar tropes into fresh filmgoing experiences. In 2005, Derrickson became a known Hollywood presence with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a motion picture that fused a supernatural thriller with a courtroom drama to great effect. With his latest film, Derrickson successfully blends the gore of an occult horror picture with the pace of a redemptive police procedural to create a new type of cop movie, even if it covers territory tread by other, lesser films (I enjoyed this far more than the arguably similar Fallen, despite that movie's inclusion of John Goodman, who is kind of a trump card).

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Jeremiah 29:11, Again.

This post was originally published at, on Sunday, April 8th, 2007 at 9:50 PM.

And I still agree with it, so I'm recycling it today. I did slight editing to correct my 25 year-old, caps-lock-friendly self (the same 25 year old self who would write: "you are a jerk, and I hope I meet you so I can punch you in your face. yeah, I'm that serious about it." What was I thinking, writing that?)

Editing aside, the message is intact. Enjoy!

Jeremiah 29:11, and a Christian Response 

To Those Who Hold To It.

Friday, July 11, 2014

More From : On Displaying Stuff I Don't Need

So, for my monthly piece at, I thought I'd pose a question to my fellow collectors. I asked them how they displayed their collection and why. My hope was to start a conversation and get some cool insight into how my fellow toy enthusiasts felt about getting their collections out of the bins and onto shelves.

I offered some thoughts and...received one response in return. I'll take it!

Check out the full piece HERE!

Additionally, I was able to complete another, more-industry focused interview with Rocco Tartamella!  Check it out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Touchy Subjects by Craig Gross and David

Touchy Subjects
By Craig Gross and David Dean

PLEASE NOTE: I received a review copy of this book from the ministry,

Touchy Subjects is the latest release by XXXchurch co-founder Craig Gross, who now teams with comedian David Dean on tackling the pertinent and complex subject of parents’ conversations with their children about sex. The book is divided into two portions, the first offers principles for the ongoing dialogue and the second serves as something of a printed Q&A with the authors. 

Overall the book is heavy on substance but lacking in presentation. I am on record as having an issue with the limitations of co-authored works. I always think the best choice is to have an editor come and tie the book together, making one new voice of the two individuals. But this book chose to delineate between Craig and David, which inevitably sets a strange expectations in the reader’s mind. I could not escape thinking, "Oh, I expect a joke now" or "I disagree with him on X, so I will skim his stuff on Y"(though I didn't, for review purposes). Granted, these may be my faults as a reader, but they were the fact of my experience. At the very least, the book clearly shows when either author is writing, which is helpful; however, the constant shift in authors constantly interrupts the flow of the text.

Of course, this book almost seems primed for an interrupted experience. Broken into short, topical sections, Touchy Subject feels like far more of a reference volume than anything else, a sort of shorthand manual for when "this situation" or "that new question" arise. This is not to say that such an approach is bad. In fact, given the other items I’ve mentioned, perhaps this sort of format is almost preferable.

Good but not great, Touchy Subjects will certainly serve those interested in the issue (which should be all parents or would-be parents). In some situations, I could see the book being a life-saver for those who sincerely need some counsel on how to approach these issues but do not know who to seek for it. Frankly, it may make for really good curriculum in a Sunday school class for parents of all ages and stages. The format, consistent nuggets of insight, and overall scope would benefit any church willing to enter the important discussion.

Touchy Subjects is now available at

Touchy Subjects: Talking to Kids about Sex, Tech, and Social Media in the Touchscreen World

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why I Write About More Than Recovery

If you've been following the blog for any amount of time, you know that I write a fair amount of content about recovery from addiction (see here, here, and a wealth of links, here). That's become my "thing". As well it should. All my studies of "branding" and "focus" tell me that recovery from addiction should be that aspect of existence about which I write so that folks who come to my "social platform" know what they are getting.

But I've had a hard go of focusing. I write reviews, updates on my books, random life musings, and thoughts on Scripture. I even write about toys from time to time. Conventional wisdom rallies against this sort of thing, and the data does not lie. My "social reach" has extended very little since 2012. I try to cover too much. People come here because they want to read about...yeah, that's the problem. They don't know; maybe I don't either.

But here's the deal. This blog is called "Living Life Loving Christ", and that is no singular endeavor. Life is multi-faceted; life is not about a brand (no matter what culture continues to tell us). A human life has its moments of reflection, of confession, of silliness, and of self-indulgence. And dear readers, I mean to live life

But the truth is that my doing so does have a singular focus, a narrowness. It's loving Christ. Oh how I want my life to exhibit a love for Christ! I want people to see my name and think, "that dude loves Jesus" (and I want that to be true). Granted, the blog does not always accomplish this; neither does life itself. And inasmuch as I'm guarded and mindful about what I post, I try to provide some vulnerable insights. I try to provide a holistic picture of a person living life and loving Christ while doing so. Maybe I do; probably I don't. Either way, that's the goal. 

So that's why I lack focus. That's the reason my brand consistently fails the litmus tests. For me life is more than recovery. Life is art. Life is disappointment. Life is joy. Life is love, and for me that love is Christ. 

How bout you? 

Friday, July 4, 2014

To Retreat from Revisions


Here I am...middle of summer and two months behind on my latest draft of To Retreat From Romance. The revisions team is still in place, and I am immensely grateful for it. Three months will have passed by the time I get the latest version to them. They're willingness to stick with the project has motivated me to do the same.

The fact is that it's been hard to do the real work of revising on this one. Inasmuch as overall feedback was positive, the net result of all my notes was that core aspects of the book needed to change, and I knew it would be a great deal of work to get the story where I had to get it. I used the move, article-writing, blogging, even decorating as an excuse to avoid the grind of revising, but the reality hit me this last week like rush of inspiration in itself: I can do this.

I've done it before now, and I will hopefully do it again. Now, the goal is to get it done.

And I shall. Thanks for joining me as this project runs its course; I hope it will be worth the wait!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In God's Image : Sculptor : Rocco Tartamella

In God’s Image: “Subcreators in a Created World”
An Ongoing Series from 3LCpublishing

In this edition of "In God's Image", we will get to know Rocco Tartamella, a professional sculptor who has worked in the toy industry for over a decade. Rocco and I met at Toy Fair 2008, when I was covering collectibles news, and I ran coverage on several fascinating personal projects on which he was working at the time. We struck a chord to such a degree that he even let me leave the show with a souvenir from his table (and it is excellent).

Years later, for reasons I do not recall, we touched base once again and quickly found that we had common ground well beyond our love of the collecting hobby. We were both Men of Faith, and our connection over values and deeper issues became not only apparent but altogether ingrained in our ongoing conversation.

Today I invite you to get to know Rocco a bit better, as he is in the midst of pursuing a noteworthy project: releasing an Archangel Michael Collectible Action Figure via Kickstarter, in what he hopes will be the first in a line of collectibles featuring Angels and Demons of the Scripture. Truly Rocco displays that he is made in God’s Image, serving as a subcreator in our Created World.

Please join me in reading about Rocco's work and vision: