Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, 
the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, 
is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?"

~Benjamin Franklin~

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : The Three Lives of James Madison

Okay, so I have finished reading a second biography on James Madison, and while I don't plan to make it a habit to read multiple biographies on each president (until next year when I read two biographies on Andrew Jackson—ha!), I'm glad I did in this case. You can read the recap I wrote of Lynne Cheney's biography of Madison here. Comparatively, this 2017 biography of Madison by Noah Feldman is much more intellectual, authoritative, and thorough. Of the two, this is definitely the one I'd recommend. 

The full title of this book, The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President, gives you a glimpse at how the book is written. It's actually divided into three books, each focusing on the main three phases of his political career. The first phase details his work on the creation and ratification of the Constitution. While Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution and the Constitution we have today is very much his brainchild, I had no idea after reading Cheney's book earlier this year how much his original vision for the Constitution was compromised and changed during the Philadelphia Convention. I appreciated that Feldman took the time to really describe how the convention played out and explained how the small states forced Madison to compromise his idea for having proportionate representation in both houses of Congress. Madison did not think each state should have equal representation in the Senate because he thought both houses should have representation proportionate to each state's population. This is only one example of the many issues battled over and compromised on during the Philadelphia Convention. After reading Cheney's book, I had this vague notion that Madison wrote the Constitution, presented it to the Convention, there was some discussion and debate over it, and then it was accepted. That's not how it went down. The Constitution produced by the Philadelphia Convention certainly was constructed on the frame Madison introduced, but it was fleshed out much differently than he originally imagined.

The second phase describes his time as a Congressman and the rise of partisan politics. When Madison dreamed up his perfect Constitution, he was adamantly against partisan politics and he thought that the construction of the Constitution would actually prevent political parties from rising up against each other. Boy, was he wrong, and this is a point in Madison's own thinking and practice that he truly evolved on. He went from working closely as friends with Alexander Hamilton in their effort to have the States ratify the Constitution by writing The Federalist Papers, to considering him a political and personal enemy. In this phase of Madison's life, he and Jefferson really banded together to create the Republican Party in order to combat the Federalist Party headed by Hamilton. Madison went from supporting a powerful central government to protecting States' rights, a true 180 in his thinking.

And in the final phase of the book, Feldman concentrates on Madison's involvement in the War of 1812, first as Jefferson's Secretary of State, then as President of the United States. Madison's thinking on this subject shifts again from being certain that the U.S. could maintain control and neutrality during the war by utilizing economic sanctions to our advantage, to eventually deciding that war was inevitable and ultimately winning the presidency by promising to fight for U.S. interests. Again, Madison's time as President was my favorite part of his life to read about.

Another major difference between Feldman's book and Cheney's was their differing views on Madison's health and motivations for religious freedom. While Cheney spent so much time theorizing on Madison's "mysterious" bouts with poor health and positing that he was committed to religious freedom because he probably struggled with epilepsy and people back then attributed epilepsy to demonic possession, Feldman very practically asserts that Madison's dedication to religious freedom stemmed from his time at Princeton being surrounded and influenced by students and professors of differing beliefs. He writes off Madison's occasional mentions of illness to debilitating migraines or other plausible illnesses which made a lot more sense than Cheney's far-reaching notions of epilepsy. I appreciated that Feldman stuck to the facts of what we know about Madison as opposed to Cheney's constant efforts to fill in all the blanks of his personal life.

Another point Feldman made in this book that I really loved was one regarding Madison's marriage to Dolley. While John Adams is always hailed as such a loving husband because of the multitude of affectionate correspondence he shared with his wife Abigail, Feldman points out that Madison always preferred to be with Dolley while Adams spent much of his political life apart from Abigail. Not to say that Adams didn't love his wife, but the point resonated with me.

Really, my only bone to pick with this biography is that the Table of Contents is after the preface. (Who does that?!) While there were times when Feldman was so detailed I just wanted him to get to the point already, his writing ultimately helped me understand Madison and at the end of the book, I realized the detailed accounts of the political battles he fought gave me the clearest picture of Madison possible. If you're looking for a good biography to read on Madison, I highly recommend this one. 

And just to give you a little update on my Monroe dilemma: I got the bio by Harlow Unger, and I think I can squeeze it in this year so stay tuned for another presidential recap before 2018 is through!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Casual Fridays

Happy Friday to meeeee! Here's my latest haul from The Book Shelter. I picked these up last weekend, and it's taking a lot of self-control to not drop everything and just sit around reading all day. I only have 7 books left from my original 2018 list so I should definitely be able to get to one or two of these babies before the end of the year. Have you read any of these? Which one should I read first? 
And here's a bonus shot of my Colonel-bud to send you on your weekend because he was just glamming it up on the couch and the lighting was pretty. You're welcome.
What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Gilbert darling, don't let's ever be afraid of things. 
It's such dreadful slavery. 
Let's be daring and adventurous and expectant. 
Let's dance to meet life and all it can bring to us, 
even if it brings scads of trouble and typhoid and twins!"

~from Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery~

Monday, August 6, 2018

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, my sweetheart! I love you forever!
And Happy Birthday, Najati! We love you so much!
Cody shares a birthday with our oldest girl Najati. She lives in Tanzania, and today, she turns 15 years old. We love her dearly and pray for her consistently. We write her letters, and she writes us back. I would encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in need with Compassion. You will change his or her life for the better and fall in love in the process. We hope to be able to visit Najati one day, but we may never get to hug her this side of Heaven. If you have questions about how this all works, I would love to talk to you more about this amazing ministry. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Casual Fridays

I think today we'll phone it in and just do an extremely basic Currently I'm... post. Because at the time I'm writing this, it's nearly 1 AM and I plan to be dead to the world when this goes live in a few hours. Let's see what I can come up with in the next 15 minutes.


... technically, nothing at the moment. And not just because I'll be asleep when this post goes live. I finished The Three Lives of James Madison on Monday, 31 Days of Praise on Tuesday, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (say that 5 times fast) last night. Never fear: I totally intend to begin Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis whenever I wake up. And Othello won't be far behind.


... Bones. I'm beginning to lose count of how many times I've watched this show from start to finish, though, if we're going to be precise about it, this would actually only be the second time since the show only came to a complete close last year. I'm currently on Season 10 and loving it just as much as I usually do even though I'm super mad at a certain someone right now. (Can't say who because my mommy-in-law is watching the show for the first time and I can't give away any SPOILERS.)

... Alias. Oh yeah. We're throwing it back old school. Cody and I just picked up the first season at FYE and I am hooked. I never saw a single episode of this back in the day, but I am into it now.

... all the movies. Like, seriously, I have been on such a movie kick lately. In the last couple weeks alone, I've managed to squeeze in all five of the Mission Impossible movies (we're going to see the new one tonight!) along with Ladder 49, Cinderella starring Lily James, and First Daughter to name a few. And that's just in the last few weeks. Y'all. Someone stop me.


... the Netflix release of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I mean, since I just confessed the movie kick I've been on and managed to mention Lily James in the same breath, I might as well come clean about this. I adored The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (more about that in a gushing recap to come), and I am psyched for the movie. Even though I just watched the trailer and I'm already feeling very skeptical of the creative license taken to make this into a film, I'm a fan of Lily James (and the rest of the cast I was catching glimpses of in the trailer) and I think it's worth a viewing. 

... Mission Impossible 6 tonight! (No, I will never call 4, 5, and 6 by their lame names, and yes, I know we pretty much already covered this in the last section, but it is now 1:08 AM: you get what you get.)


... Publix buffalo chicken dip on Tostitos Bite Size tortilla chips. If you don't know the delicious goodness that is this perfect snack (or breakfast, don't judge me), then you aren't living. Get down to the Southeast and get on my level.

... Luigi's Lemon Italian Ice. Because Florida summer. 

... leftovers for days, y'all. I don't know why we seem to be in leftover heaven lately, but we have been and you won't hear me complaining. I think I've subconsciously been cooking in bulk just so I won't actually have to cook every day. 


... to Relient K's Air for Free album. It's such a chill summer jam album, and I love it.

... to Train. Whatever album I land on. They're just my go-to. 

... to my entire iPod on shuffle. This is not something I typically do because I have over 10,000 songs on it or something crazy like that, but once every 6 years or so, I just get in the mood to have the whole thing on shuffle and that's the mood I'm in now. It's pretty fun.

... to Despacito. Honestly, I don't know the entire literal translation of this song, and if it's inappropriate, I apologize but don't tell me because it will be a very long time before I stop dancing around to this. 


... so very proud of my littlest sister who just signed her letter of intent to play college tennis on a scholarship because she is the bomb and doing it huge. (Also, I can't believe we're all officially and legally adults now. Is this real life? And can I possibly be this old?)

... bereft of sweet nephew snuggles. I need more in my life. Like yesterday. A six hour drive is too far away, and they're trying to take him to Germany?! I ain't doin' it.

... a teensy bit proud of myself because as of last night, I have read 26 books so far this year and 16 of those are even from my original 2018 book list. Not too shabby, and we still have five months to go. 


... my family. 

... my friends.

... my church.

... my life.

... my bed. It's 1:32 AM, and I am done

What's currently going on with you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Ma says I'm getting too old to dream. Do you think I am, Miss Shirley?"

"Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old."

~Pauline Gibson & Anne Shirley in Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery~