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So I’ve taken some time off this summer to get out and live! I’ve discovered that there is indeed a whole wide world out there apart from social media, blogging, Facebook, etc.

Who would have thought? 😉

As those of you who’ve stopped in before know, my wife and I have been living out that “in sickness” clause this year. Indeed, the last year and a half has been tumultuous to say the least. Which is why, when she was feeling better, we vacated the valley where we live for cooler climes. It was glorious waking up to views like:

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What’s not to love about that?

We spent a considerable amount of time just driving around admiring the different views. And eating ice cream. A lot of ice cream. 🙂 (Seriously, my pants are tighter).

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This place was decent, but their ice cream wasn’t kept quite cold enough. More’s the pity.

Here are some more gratuitous landscape shots:

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Are you jealous? 😉

As indicated above, I’ve taken some time away this summer to travel, spend time with family, and to live. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been working; on the contrary, I’ve got some irons in the fire that I’m really stoked about <--see what I did there? Fire/stoked. 😉One of these irons is a blogging eBook with Chris Morris and Tim Gallen. We have a structure, a theme, and some preliminary pieces written. When it’s done it should be a hoot! Can’t wait for you to read it!

Another project is a semi-irregular podcast with Ricky Anderson (because neither of us can commit to “regular”–maybe we need more fiber in our diets?), called Faith, Culture, and… You. This idea grew out of a conversion he and I had via Words With Friends chat (if you can believe it) about Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz movie. I liked it, but Ricky not so much.

Should be fun.

As for personal writing projects, I’ve an idea about a couple and and weekend trip gone horribly wrong. But like the late Orson Wells, I’ll sell no wine (in this case, story) before its time. I’m calling it Casita 106 At the Red Pines.

By the way, if you’ve been looking for something to read, I can’t recommend Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game highly enough. (I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind about the sequels, although I’m tearing my way through them).

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Peace out,

Chad

'Depression' photo (c) 2008, Eddi van W. - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I’m going to be honest: I don’t know how to thrive. From the outside, my upbringing was white, middle-class suburbia. From the outside, my current life is the same: white, middle-class suburbia. But on the inside, it was chaos.

It still is.

I have been in survival mode all of my life. The chaos around me–messy house, messy car–feels normal. It’s what I know.

Either that, or I don’t care. Life has been about finding that one bright, shining place. A quantum of solace, if you will. This will make me feel good. That will make me feel normal. It never works.

My sleep is worse than ever, but I still get up, go to work, do what I have to.

Continue Reading…

Folks, in our ongoing series on anger I’m privileged to bring you a post today from Shawn Smucker. In his own words:

Shawn SmuckerShawn is the author of Building a Life Out of Words, the story of how he lost his business, his house and his community, then found happiness making a living as a writer. He lives deep in the woods of southern Lancaster County, PA, with his wife and four children. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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My Anger is a Goldfish

My anger is like seeing an old friend from high school at one of the harvest fairs we have here in the fall, a friend with whom I had many good times doing things that are now embarrassing to recollect. When I first see that old friend, I smile and think about saying hello. But then I remember everything we did and I realize it would be awkward. We terrorized the community back in our day, stole road signs and drove like maniacs.

Things are different now. I am different.

Not knowing how to deal with such a friend, I duck my head and walk around to the back side of the tent where people are throwing ping-pong balls at fish bowls. Children walk by holding goldfishes-in-water by the crinkled necks of clear plastic bags, and I wonder how many hours or at most days those fish have left. And my old friend wanders by, chatting with someone I do not know, and I sigh.

So it is with my anger, this old friend who I cannot communicate with. This old friend who startles me with his sudden appearance. This old friend who causes me to hide in obscure alleyways and watch the random bouncing of ping-pong balls as they dance over the heads of goldfish praying, “Not me!”

* * * * *

According to Annie Dillard, Rabbi Isaac Luria “repudiated both anger and sorrow, for to him anger, especially, was the proximate source of all evil.” This is a foreign thought to us today, when we are encouraged to embrace our feelings.

Feelings cannot be judged as good or bad, we are told by everyone. Feelings simply are.

* * * * *

When I was a boy, I was taught in no uncertain terms that anger was bad. In the Amish culture, that murky, beautiful people from whom my grandparents emerged not unscathed, stoicism and emotional control are valued above all else. I have seen many Amish men venture towards anger, but they veer away from it by laughing forcefully, or scoffing. Ridiculing something is preferable to being angry with it.

Then I read somewhere that anger is simply the result of a blocked goal. I want something. I am blocked from attaining it. I am angry.

And so when I feel that dragon’s egg beginning to tremble, when I feel anger beginning to hatch, I search for what it is that I am being held from.

The constant activity of the children, when they are supposed to be in bed, is keeping me from a tranquil evening.

The person driving the car that cut me off is keeping me from feeling that I am an autonomous human being that owns the roads.

The person on the internet that disagrees with me is keeping me from feeling safe and secure in the little castle of beliefs that I have constructed, that help me make sense of an upside-down world.

But instead of addressing my old friend Anger, I scurry off to the side and simply wait for him to pass me by. I prefer avoidance, for now.

Then I realize that my anger is not my old friend from high school. My anger is a goldfish, because I believe that my anger can be submerged in the water of some other emotion and carried away, so long as I cling to the crinkled neck of the clear plastic bag that holds it.

For some reason, though, this particular goldfish never seems to die.

Folks, it’s my privilege today to present an interview with author Chad Gibbs. He is the author of the bestselling God and Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC, and the recently released Love Thy Rival: What Sports’ Greatest Rivalries Teach Us About Loving Our Enemies. (Head here if you would like a signed copy).

 

1) When did you first know that writing was something you wanted to pursue? And who supported you early on in pursuit of your calling?

I didn’t really start reading until after college. I mean I knew how to, just never did it for leisure. I think a love of reading really turned me on to writing, and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) was and is my biggest supporter (figuratively, not literally).

2) You are the (regional) bestselling author of God & Football. What kind of pressure did you put on yourself to follow that book up with something as strong (and as funny)? (And what does a typical Chad Gibbs work day look like?)

No pressure really. I mean I’d love for each book to be better than the last, and each one to outsell the last, but that’s not going to happen. In the end I just want to write stuff that makes my wife laugh. Not sure if there is a typical work day. Some days I write all day, some days I drive all day to talk to a church or group, some days I watch a lot of soccer.

3) Your wife is a doctor? What’s it like having a live-in patron? Ok, just kidding! How supportive is your wife of your work? How does she help keep you grounded?

Tricia could not be more supportive. It’s obviously a blessing to be able to pursue writing full-time, and not something I could do without her. All aspiring writers should hang around medical schools to look for potential mates.

4) Your second (published–we know all writers have trunks, and in them are manuscripts mouldering far from the light of day) book, Love Thy Rival, came out recently. How did the idea for that book come about? Is there really more sports in it? 😉

More sports I’m afraid. With the first book I looked at how fans love their teams, and in this one I wanted to look at why sometimes they hate their rivals even more. To me it seemed a natural progression, although publishers didn’t think so, which is why I self-published it.

5) As a writer, who do you like to read? What kind of work nourishes your creative soul? Along those lines, would you agree, or disagree, with the following: Worship is whatever we attempt to derive life from? In your case, what is it about sports that so nourishes you?

Oh I read all sorts of stuff. Enjoy Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson, AJ Jacobs, Malcolm Gladwell. Older stuff I enjoy is Hemingway; read Great Gatsby every year, and To Kill a Mockingbird is a favorite. I love reading about travel, and I love funny writers. Sometimes reading this stuff ‘nourishes my creative soul’, and sometimes, if it’s too good, it makes me want to give up. I’m not sure if sports nourishes me, but I enjoy the drama of it. I think that’s why I write about fans, and not really the games.

6) As intimated above, your books are funny. What pushed you in that direction? What, in your view, makes for good satire?

It’s the only way I know how to write really. I just put down my thoughts and observations, which I guess are oftentimes humorous. I get that from my mother, who sees the funny side in every situation.

7) I’m not so much a sports fan (a huge failing, I know); as such, what would I (or readers like me) get out of your books? What is there that’s applicable?

I think the two books are entertaining, even if you’re not a sports fan. Spiritually, they take a look at idolatry, something we all struggle with from time to time.

8) You’re currently engaged in a campaign to build a women and children’s clinic in Haiti. How did that come about?

After writing God & Football I started getting emails from fans who shared my struggles. I remember thinking, “great, a community of like-minded Christian sports fans. I just wish we could do something.” So I spoke to Samaritan’s Purse when wrapping up the new book and we came up with a giving campaign that would pit rival fans against each other with the goal of raising 40K to build the clinic in Haiti. We’re over 1/4 of the way there, but still have a ways to go, so if any of your readers are feeling generous you can send ’em my way.

[Note: to learn more about the Samaritan’s Purse campaign, and how you can help, please visit Chad’s blog]

9) I’ve heard that you’re a rabid Star Wars fan? (I am, too). What do you like about Star Wars? Which one is the best (if you say Phantom Menace you’re never welcome back here again)?

Empire is the best film, and the best thing about Star Wars is Lando Calrissian.

10) What’s next for Chad Gibbs? I hear you’re working on a travel book for Zondervan–how’s that coming along? Any fiction in your future? Any questions you’re surprised you’re never asked that you would like to address? Speak now, or forever… Oh, never mind. 😉

Yes, a travel book with Z that looks at Christianity around the world. Been to Brazil, Spain, England, Russia, Uganda, and Italy so far. India, Japan, The Netherlands, China, Australia, Israel and Turkey to come. No fiction for now, unless you count the parts of God & Football I made up. Oops.

About Chad Gibbs:

Chad Gibbs, former baby, is the best-selling (okay, regional best-selling) author of God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC and Love Thy Rival: What Sports’ Greatest Rivalries Teach us about Loving Our Enemies. He has written for The Washington Post, CNN.Com, RELEVANT, and has made multiple (okay, two) appearances on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. If you’d like to talk to Chad about his books, or about life, or about how to lose baby fat, he can be reached at [email protected] or by raven.

I Aim To Be Scarce

randomlychad  —  November 5, 2012 — 11 Comments

Folks, if you happened to drop in last week, you may have seen an excerpt from my memoir-in-progress. In it, I grapple with who my dad is, the forces that shaped him, and the watershed moments in my own life. While it does tread through some heavy territory, it is ultimately a tale of grace and redemption.

Or it will be.

If I can get done. Along with the memoir, I’ve also taken up the mantle of NaNoWriMo, or national novel writing month. Which means I’m now not just working on one book, but two. Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Time will tell.

In any case, what this means is that I’ll have little time for this blog for the foreseeable future. In truth, I’ve been feeling called in this direction for some time, but have resisted it out of fear.

What will happen to my platform?

I’m not sure. What I do know is that “he who seeks to save his life shall lose it,” and “unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone.”

All of which is to say: I aim to be scarce for awhile.

This is not goodbye, but rather goodbye for now.

See you in the coming weeks, and months.

All my best,

Chad