Donny's Ramblings


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Write a Better Story, Live a Better Story

This post was written September 12th.  I couldn’t post it until today because it contains my review, of sorts, of Donald Miller’s latest book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and we (“we” being the bloggers given advance copies) were not supposed to release our reviews until today.  This is cross-posted on both this blog as well as in a note on my Facebook page.  Feel free to comment at either (or both) location(s).

Late Thursday night I finally opened the package I’d received from Thomas Nelson earlier in the day.  Had I known what was inside I wouldn’t have waited so long.  For some reason I’d been sent two copies of Donald Miller’s latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  I started reading, but stopped long enough to text Don, telling him I was reading his book.  He had no idea why I was sent two copies either, but offered to send yet another one if I wanted it.  Of course I want it!  I’ve a few people in mind to send the two extra copies, but I’ll keep the one Don sends, especially if he autographs the inside.  It was late, and I had an early flight to catch, so I put the book down, deciding to instead read it on my flight to Indiana to speak with part of the XXXChurch team at Purdue University.

Donny Pauling, Meet Donald Miller

Donny Pauling, Meet Donald Miller

Friday morning started… interestingly.  My flight was delayed more than two and a half hours, creating a scheduled arrival time that would put me at the university an hour after I was scheduled to speak.  That wouldn’t work.  I explained the situation to a very helpful Alaskan Airlines employee, who was kind enough to put me on another flight with another airline – United – the only catch being I’d have to drive more than two hours south to Sacramento to catch it.  My efforts would be rewarded: if nothing else went wrong I’d arrive at Purdue just 10 minutes after the time I was scheduled to take the stage.  Much better – the band could easily play a couple of extra songs and the crowd would never know the difference.

Finally on my way to Indy, I cracked open Million again.  I read it all the way to my connecting flight in Denver, often laughing out loud, likely making my seat companions wonder if I was mentally unstable.  If you’ve read one of Don’s books I’m sure you can identify: the man is funny and can tell a story! This one really amused me:  it’s inspired by Don being told his life is just too boring to make a movie out of.

I only read for a few minutes after leaving Denver for Indianapolis.  I needed to catch a nap so I’d be sharp enough to speak to the thousand plus college students expected to attend Friday Night’s Porn and Popcorn event.  I put the book in my bag in a revered, sacred place: the pouch occupied by my beloved MacBook Pro and Kindle DX.   Don’s latest would have to wait until the return flight…

…which was also delayed more than two hours, getting me into Chicago an hour after my next flight left, but not before Don’s pen reduced me to tears in front of my fellow passengers on the Indy to Chi town stretch.  While taxiing to the gate in Chicago I texted Don to harass him for this.  “Wow.  That wasn’t intended I assure you!!” was his response.

Once in Chicago, and after more than an hour standing in a customer service line to be rebooked, I learned I’d have to spend the night at O’Hare and settle for a 10:40am departure the next morning.  I had a decision to make: I could go postal like the lady standing behind me, or I could accept my fate and see this as an opportunity to finish the book and perhaps experience what it’s like to sleep on the floor of one of those family bathrooms – you know, the kind that lock and give you the stall all to yourself? While I don’t think that’s any part of the kind of “better story” talked about throughout Don’s book, I decided it’d be much better than the heart attack Ms. Postal was about to give herself.

Probably because of the smile I kept on my face as Mt. Saint Helens erupted yet again behind me, the United Airlines Customer Service Rep gave me a standby ticket for a flight that wasn’t mentioned earlier.  It was very full and the odds were just about zilch that I’d actually catch it, but with two hours to kill before knowing the answer for sure, I took the ticket, found a family bathroom, plugged in my iPhone to charge, and relaxed a little.  I couldn’t get comfortable enough to feel like reading, but the hour and a half spent in that solitary space was still a great escape from the noise of an insanely busy terminal, and I only felt a little guilty when the handle was wiggled a time or two by people who probably actually needed to use the facilities for the purpose they were intended.

Divine intervention must have opened heaven, earth, and a few seats on the 8:16pm flight to Sacramento, because my name was called – and I got a window seat.  In another miracle rivaling that time the USA won the gold in hockey against the Russians, the seat in between me and the other guy in my row remained empty after the doors closed and boarding ended.  With the extra space to stretch my legs, I was soon comfortably finishing A Million Miles in a Thousand Years…which brings me to the present, where I still sit on that same plane hurtling towards Sacra-tomato at 500 miles an hour, writing to you, my constant readers.

I gotta tell ya:  I honestly don’t know how to write the review this book deserves.   Don tells a story – his story – yet somehow his story challenges the reader to go out and live a better version of their own life story.  He does this in a way I can’t put into the right words to make you understand how special a gift you’ll be giving yourself when you pick up a copy.  He just does it… Donald Miller style.  Just buy it! Then come back and tell me if I’m the only grown adult it moves to publicly laugh and cry, unconcerned about those sitting nearby.


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It Sucked and then I Cried

For several years now I’ve read a blog called Dooce.com, written by a mommy-blogger named Heather Armstrong.  I can’t recall exactly how many years I’ve been reading, but I know that when I started reading it I was still blogging about producing porn here on this blog.  I remember this, because I attempted to purchase advertising on Heather’s blog and was promptly turned down.  Since finding Jesus (who was hiding under the bed) I’ve not attempted to advertise on Heather’s blog again.  Mostly because I no longer possess much of that stuff we call “money” and therefore cannot afford such luxuries as advertising.

But I still read it.

If you’re a stick in the mud, you might not appreciate Heather’s irreverent humor. I dig it. She’s hilarious. And besides her witty blog posts, her website also contains daily photos where one might find a sweet photo of her daughter Leta, perhaps witness some random object resting comfortably on her dog’s head, or even the latest mascara she purchased at Sephora.  Yes, I find myself clicking on such photos as Mascara. Why?  Because often times there’s an amusing caption below it.  I love to laugh, Heather’s site delivers numerous reasons to do so,  so I return to it.  Daily.

Heather’s book “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita” humorously chronicles Heather’s experiences becoming a first time mother. She holds nothing back, even when discussing how postpartum depression led to a short stay in a mental institution, and proves even such things as stays in the loony bin can be presented humorously.  And should you decide to read it, be prepared to learn more than you ever wanted to know about poop.

This past Wednesday, facing a long drive of 250 miles (each way) in order to attend the nearest book signing, I emailed Heather’s husband Jon to make sure the schedule hadn’t changed. He was kind enough to let me know that the previous evening’s signing in Portland was so well attended that several people had to be turned away, so if I wanted to insure a seat I’d likely want to show up early. I did so… 2 hours early in fact. I passed the time reading the first several chapters of the book and talking to the ladies who began to arrive not long after I did. For the longest time I was the only man in the waiting audience. In fact, I think I was probably the only single man period. If you look hard enough you might see another male or two in the crowd, but I’m certain they were drug to the event by a wife or girlfriend:

Listening to Heather Speak

Heather is just as funny in person as she is on her blog, or in her book:

Heather Armstrong Reading Her Book

If you listen closely, you might hear a mangling of English words. On this particular evening I witnessed Heather pronounce the word “crayon” the same way you or I would say the word “crown”. Apparently, a BYU degree in English does not come with a requirement to lose the southern drawl.  Which is fortunate, because it makes listening to Heather even more entertaining.  🙂

I was 4th in line to have my own copy signed:

Signing "It Sucked and then I Cried"

I’ve now read the majority of the book (a handful of pages remain before I’ve finished it). It’s very entertaining and very funny.  I particularly think mothers would enjoy and identify with it, but men shouldn’t be afraid to pick up a copy as well (and gentlemen, should you need to explain your purchase to someone just say you have a friend who needs to be scared out of impregnating his wife, and the purchase is a gift for HIM 😉 ).

Click the photo to be taken to the Amazon.com site selling Heather’s Book:


“It Sucked and Then I Cried:
How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita”

PS: It Sucked and Then I Cried has already made the New York Times Best Sellers list. Congrats to Heather for that!


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Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great About Christianity”

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)


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Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About Christianity"

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)


10 Comments

Books

I’ve been receiving books from major publishing companies (such as Zondervan, Thomas Nelson and others) in the hopes that I’ll read and review them for you, my constant readers. Their arrival is usually preceded by an email telling me the title of a book they’d like me to review, and a brief summary of the contents. I’m honored to be asked to do this. I didn’t contact them. They contacted me.

So what this means is that at some point very soon I’ll have another tab up there at the top of the page called “Book Reviews” (or something similar). And I’ll be brutally honest with my opinions of each book.

I plan to publish each review as a main article right here on my blog home page, and then archive a link to each article on the new “Book Reviews” page I just mentioned. I’m excited.

I’m guessing my recommendations of Donald Miller’s and Rob Bell’s books have caught someone’s attention.

They picked the right guy. I love to read.

Love it, love it, love it….