Book Reviews Featured

Live Big, Love Bigger

Cover of book, Live Big, Love Bigger

Kathryn Whitaker‘s new book, Live Big, Love Bigger hit shelves yesterday and I couldn’t put it down.

I’ve known Kathryn for probably nearly 15 years now—she was the graphic designer that created most of the paper printed for the University Catholic Center when I worked there. We became friends through her amazing design, my knack for untangling technical issues, and what became our common reality of a lot of kids under one roof.

Even though I know her, Scott, and the family, the book still contained many surprises. Kathryn, in a very real way, discusses her faith life and how, in particular, it was impacted by her fifth kiddo, Luke, who had a pretty crummy hand dealt to him in his early days resulting in premature birth, 40+ days in the NICU, and a litany of post-NICU specialists and surgeries over the last decade.

I gained another commonality with the Whitaker clan when our fourth and fifth kiddos, the twins, were premies and spent time in the NICU. Add on Olivia’s too-frequent hospitalizations for asthma and becoming more familiar with Dell Children’s Hospital than I ever wanted to be, there were a lot of aspects of the book that hit home.

Kathryn’s story with Luke and his medical needs absolutely blow my kiddos’ needs out of the water. Even though I can picture so much of what she describes from her NICU experience from my own and her words bring back a flood of memories, there was never any real mortal fear with our girls after the initial intake. But nevertheless, Kathryn shares her experience in a very real way that definitely led me to closing the book, taking a deep breath, wiping away a tear, then opening it up to keep going.

A returning theme in the book is how trying to maintain the perfect life is often what prevents us from living a perfectly real life. What impresses me with her telling is many of the things her family did in their quest to recenter themselves on things that matter is many of these things I’ve wanted to do myself but have been chicken. It sounds like a great idea to take a semester off from everything to reset, but actually doing so? Ha, I don’t think I would have thought it actually possible if I was being real with myself. But, if they can do it with six kids, well then, maybe so can I.

A small gem—the quotes on the chapter cover pages. The book’s forward was from another friend, Paulist Father Dave Dwyer, and the first three quotes were from Catholic religious figures, so I started to expect them all to be religious in nature. There were a couple that surprised me and reminded me that even the most faith-centered life is not exclusively religious—there is still the intersection with the secular world. And as an aside, one of the quotes is what is inscribed in my wedding band. Spoiler, it isn’t the quote from the BBQ Editor of Texas Monthly.

If you’re looking for a faith-centered but real account of how a family worked through difficulty, critically-sick kiddo, failing marriage, and able to come out stronger on the other side, this is a great read. Without getting too deep or going off into the weeds, the realness of her story makes it accessible.

Note: The links above are affiliate links. While I know the author, I purchased my copy off the virtual shelf like a regular Joe and Kathryn doesn’t know this post is being written, so I’m definitely not being paid or being given other considerations to write it.

Current Events Featured Reflections

El Paso Shooting (and Dayton too)

Thankfully, we did not have any family or friends involved at the recent El Paso shooting, but far too many people are not able to say the same thing today. One family member was there no more than two hours before the shooting and there is no reason why she was spared while others were not.

I am glad and hopeful that President Trump called this senseless act of hatred what it is: racism and white supremacy.

The President, though, needs to do far more to make me believe that he meant it. He needs to do far more to make those who choose hate and for those that choose violence to believe him.

According to researching at the University of North Texas, counties where then-candidate Trump held campaign rallies in 2016 had a 226-percent increase of hate crimes compared to those that did not host a rally.

The President has consistently referred to the issues at our southern border “an invasion”. The cornerstone of his campaign has been to create fear of “the other”. His Twitter account is full of racially-charged derogatory nicknames. He laughs off when someone at a rally yelled that they should shoot people.

I hope that this is the time that enough is enough and that he will change his behavior—for our country but for his own soul—but I’m not going to hold my breath. Until that happens, I can only assume something from a teleprompter is what his aides thinks he should say and his Twitter account is what he actually wants to say.

Guns are complicated, to a degree. As a society, though, do we need weapons with the disruptive power freely available? The Dayton gunman had an 100-round drum—legal. He killed nine and injured 14 within 30 seconds when shooting on a street. Imagine if he started within the crowded bar he was walking toward? He didn’t have priors, though there were warning signs he had issues a decade ago, nothing that made into a system.

Even treating the 2nd Amendment like a Golden Calf, there are better ways to control guns.

I’ve read on Facebook people say that guns are only tools and we need to dig deeper to the root causes. I don’t disagree with that either—we can still look at the tools while going deeper. As a country, we have plenty of problems, but as long as President Trump uses the amazing power he has to stoke fear and excite those with extreme xenophobic and racist views, we’re going to continue to see more and more weekends like last weekend.

Current Events Microblog

Rangers at Astros

Rangers would be a solid team if we could pitch better than a tee-ball team.

Daddy's Corner Microblog

For the record…

Almost a month exactly is how long I can be on the road with six kids before I hit the wall.


Big Dairy is trying to get teens hooked on lattes to boost milk sales

Dairy groups hope young latte drinkers can help reverse decades of slumping milk sales.

Source: Big Dairy is trying to get teens hooked on lattes to boost milk sales

This is pretty amazing. As someone who opts for coconut milk for lattes, this makes me laugh. I’d drink more cow milk if it didn’t make me feel absolutely crummy after drinking it.


West Virginia Troubles: Details about +Bransfield

In the years before he was removed from ministry for alleged sexual harassment and financial abuses, Bishop Michael Bransfield was reimbursed by the church for cash gifts he gave to fellow clergymen, records show.

Source: W.Va. bishop gave powerful cardinals and other priests $350,000 in cash gifts before his ouster, church records show

This story outlines a pretty amazing (in the worst way) failure of a bishop, his staff, and the diocesan boards. While he spent a large sum of money, I am glad that it wasn’t more and I’m glad that the diocese had random income-producing property to fund it. Any financial abuse in the non-profit sector is horrible and criminal, but I’m glad people in this incredibly poor region of the country didn’t donate that money he spent in such reckless ways.

The sexual abuse scandal is definitely the highest priority to resolve, but in my lifetime, financial abuse and mismanagement will be the next.