David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell – Review and Noteworthy Quotes

Most of us are familiar with the Bible’s chronicle of the epic battle between David and Goliath. Malcolm Gladwell puts this title story to good use in his New York Times best-selling book David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. In example after example, he illustrates how disadvantages in life can strengthen us and oddly become advantages in the long run. He touches on stories like David and Goliath showing how an underdog often uses unexpected and unpredictable techniques and skills to overcome difficulties and launch themselves into unique greatness.

Gladwell masterfully lines up a hall of “giant underdogs” as he details stories of a doctor, a teacher, artists, a dyslexic, and many more. david and goliath For example, he said that “conventional wisdom holds that a disadvantage is something that ought to be avoided – that it is a setback or a difficulty that leaves you worse off than you would be otherwise.” He continues, “but that is not always the case…..I want to explore the idea that there are such things as desirable difficulties.”

 He notes that people with difficulties are forced to be creative and innovative. There are more opportunities to think outside the box than what a more average, normal life might bring.

I enjoyed this book immensely and David and Goliath -2fundamentally agree with the foundation of his thought process and research. If a disadvantaged person has the motivation and ability to push for resources to implement overcoming strategies with new, creative and innovative ideas – success skyrockets. For some, I believe a disadvantage is simply a disadvantage. Some do not and/or cannot capitalize on their disadvantages.

What differentiates those who do and those who don’t?

That question is not addressed in the book or in this research that is quoted. However, it does not take away from the delightful journey as Gladwell describes example after example of people who took their difficulty and turned it into something great.

On a small scale, I can relate to this book personally as I know my own experience facing physical disability changed me for the better in many ways and affords me unique opportunities I would not encounter otherwise.  The book reminded me to honor the blessing of the unique gift that dichotomously exists in my limitations.

Incidentally, I have read other Gladwell New York Times bestsellers (The Tipping Point, Blink) and did not notice the Judeo-Christian influence evident in David and Goliath.  Apparently, Gladwell returned to his Christian faith while writing David and Goliath.

Noteworthy Quotes from David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

There’s no possibility of being pessimistic when people are dependent on you for their only optimism.

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The right question is whether we as a society need people who have emerged from some kind of trauma— and the answer is that we plainly do. This is not a pleasant fact to contemplate. For every remote miss who becomes stronger, there are countless near misses who are crushed by what they have been through.

Unexpected freedom comes from having nothing to lose.

When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters— first and foremost— how they behave. This is called the “principle of legitimacy,” and legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice— that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can’t treat one group differently from another.

The powerful are not as powerful as they seem— nor the weak as weak.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that prestige and resources and belonging to elite institutions make us better off. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the ways in which those kinds of material advantages limit our options.

Some pretend to be rich, yet have nothing; others pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth. Proverbs 13: 7

Did you read the book?  If so, what did you think about it?  If not, I hope you pick up a copy. -Madge

7 Cold Weather Gift Ideas

Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who is always cold when it’s below 50?  Or better yet, would you like to make a cold weather gift basket?  Below are seven cold weather gift ideas to include for the person in your life who is always freezing!  I am nearly always cold and I want you and your loved ones to stay warm.cold weather gift ideas

  1. Wool Clothing: I’m not talking about just any wool clothing, I’m talking about high quality merino wool clothing.  Socks, scarves, gloves, winter underwear/base layers and hats are all possibilities!  Hats, gloves and socks are more reasonably priced between $20.00 and $40.00.  My personal favorites are socks and the base layers made from this great material.  If you are decked out in wool all over your body, you are sure to stay warm. I’ve written about merino wool here.
  2. Coffee and/or Tea Sampler: This may sound like an obvious choice, but depending on whether Tea or Coffee is preferred, there are many choices of samplers that can bring a splash variety and warmth to the mug of someone who is cold and likes hot drinks!  I prefer tea and would love a sampler like this one by Mighty Leaf Tea.
  3. Portable Hot Water/Beverage Heater: As a companion to the above sampler of tea and coffee, you might consider a traveling beverage heater.  There are many models that range from a very small metal coil that plugs into your car to small travel kettles.
  4. red vestDown or Fleece Vest: You can’t underestimate the extra warmth delivered by a nice down or fleece vest that can be thrown on both indoors and outdoors.  These vests can serve as an outer layer or and inner layer!  Buy one from just about any store when it’s cold.  cool cayenne
  5. Cayenne Pepper: This may seem like a crazy gift to suggest, but these spicy capsules will go a long way in keeping your loved one toasty from the inside out!  Another benefit of this delightful spice is that it has properties that help ease the pain of digestive tract problems.  I previously reviewed the Solaray brand, but there are other brands of capsules.  You can also use the Cayenne pepper in your spice rack if you enjoy spicy foods.
  6. Microwavable Pillow: Pick up a spa pillow that heats up in the microwave in two short minutes!  Wrap it around your neck and cuddle with a book!  If you’d rather get outdoors, put it on underneath your jacket and feel some added warmth for a couple hours.  I have been using Earth Therapeutics: Anti-Stress Microwavable Neck Pillows for years and get them from Kohl’s or Amazon.
  7. Personal Quartz Heater:  For those of us who are truly warm weather devotees, a small heater is a must have.  Personal warmth during a long day at the office or while paying bills at home, comes easily with a small heater.  Keep the house cool and make one room extra warm with a small heater.  At the office your coworkers will likely not feel the effects of your small heater.  You’ll be cheerier and more productive if you are not tense from fighting a chill. You can find a variety of these at Target, Home Depot, Kohls, Amazon and many other specialty stores.

Please share your cold weather secrets with me.  I want to stay warmer than ever this winter. –Madge

Jars of Clay – Unadorned Clay Pots

clay potThe beautiful gray haired woman had a soft weathered face and always wore a dress with stockings. Even though she lived alone she could cook up a storm into her late 80s and early 90s! Guests and family visiting her home would enjoy a spread of multiple meats, numerous vegetables, homemade cornbread, yeast rolls, and two or three desserts as well as a congealed salad she usually left in the refrigerator until mid-meal when she would rise from her seat exclaiming, “Oh, my, my, I forgot the congealed salad!” as she scurried to retrieve it from the refrigerator. Her food and hospitality were expressions of her love and attracted folks to Grandma Vera’s house!

She lived by herself until she passed at age 93 and was always serving others – never without food or treats for the school children who would drop by her house on their way home. She allocated her food scraps to stray dogs in the neighborhood and had a heart for God’s creatures and his people.  Strengthened by difficult times during the depression when her husband lost everything, she raised two children, and worked as a schoolteacher to support her loved ones in an era when most women were at home raising their young ones and tending to daily chores.
I’m blessed to have a number of her keepsakes; her hairbrush and mirror, the old jar of clay and the dining room table where we not only ate smorgasbords of delectable southern cooking, but where children gathered to play cards among cousins and cringed to be the ‘one’ who ended up with the ‘old maid’ queen of spades!

Jars of Clay

The worn clay pot is simple and unadorned, a treasure no longer used for carrying and storing staples like milk, or butter.  Now, whether it has flowers in it or is empty on our hearth, it reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. …..For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I love verse 7-8 in The Message version:

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.

With the love of Christ, you and I are like my grandmother’s old jar of clay:

  • We can hold beautiful and essential things of God!  They may be flowers of joyful smiles and they may be the buttery, smooth, satiating goodness of words of encouragement we share with others.
  • We can pour the refreshing and nourishing love of God on others with our words and actions!
  • We may look fragile, but we are handcrafted, have history and hold the hidden treasures of the Potter!
  • When we are broken, the loveliness within us is no longer hidden from others and the Potter will take the crushed remnants and fashion them into an even more beautiful and more useful jar!
Father, I pray your incomparable power will be reflected and poured out of us each day – even if it means a few scratches, cracks or chips on our clay pots!  Let us reflect your image this day remembering that you are indeed the wonderful, rebuilding, master Potter.

Merino Wool: The Warmest Fabric

For several years I have relied on SmartWool’s Merino Wool layers to provide winter warmth.  I am not an avid winter sports girl, in fact, I can barely stand being outside for an hour in the dead of winter.  I am paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury.  One of the side effects of my injury is that I get cold easily.  In fact, I can be cold even when my body is truly warm.  I know it sounds like an oxymoron but you just have to live the life of someone with a high level spinal cord injury to understand.  Starting in October I count the months until April and cherish each warm day.  In September, I brace myself for the blowing of cold winds and prepare for the winter chill – even in my moderate southeastern U.S. climate.194

I’ve searched high and low for every kind of heater, warm weather gear and warmth gimmick, and I seriously don’t care much about the electric bills in the winter.  I’d rather sacrifice other things to keep warm.  Once the air dries out and the temperatures drop there is nearly a constant background noise in my head whispering, ” I’m cold”.  It can be a rather annoying.

I discovered my favorite find for cool weather clothing a few years ago when I read an article about how wool keeps you warmer than synthetics and why wool is such a great fabric.

smartwool micro

People say it’s itchy, but they haven’t experienced fine merino wool made by companies like SmartWool, Icebreaker and Ibex.

I wear wool all year.  In the heat of the summer I have a couple lightweight wool tee shirts that I use as the perfect shirt.  It keeps me comfortable in the air conditioner and cool outside in the heat.

The Pros and Cons of high quality merino wool

  1. Warm:  It is by far the best solution I have found to keep warm!  In the winter I always layer with a lightweight SmartWool or Icebreaker shirt and add a mid-weight merino wool top over that.  I consider these my base layer and then if needed I put on the sweater or shirt I plan to wear on the outside.  I don’t do well with coats because they are binding on my arms, so this is what I wear all day inside and out with the exception of adding a vest occasionally.
  2. Odor resistant: Whether you perspire or not, this fabric is extremely odor resistant and does not need to be laundered often.  I wear my shirts for a couple weeks at least…  And I mean I wear the shirt underneath whatever I’m wearing for two weeks straight without washing it!  It may sound gross, but I promise even if you perspire you will be surprised how long it takes before it smells!
  3. Soft: You’ll never know you’re wearing wool!  This fabric feels a lot like cotton with stretch.  It is very comfortable and soothing.  I’ve been known to wear my lightweight wool to bed in the summer!
  4. Durable: These pieces do not wear out quickly.  They are high quality and well made.  If you have a few, you can wear them every day for multiple winters!
  5. Requires minimal care: Like I said above, you don’t need to launder them often.  My recommendation is not to launder them unless needed.  Give them the sniff test.  They are machine washable and can go in the dryer!   Sometimes I don’t put mine in the dryer and they will hold up better with fewer washes!  I have, on occasion, taken a piece that is a couple years old to the cleaners to have them freshened up.  The dry cleaners have a way with wool and can remove any pilling.  For every day care I simply lay my shirts out at night!  They can be folded or hung up for storage.
  6. Worth mending: Because I wear one of three light weight shirts next to my skin all  winter I have taken a couple to the dry cleaners to mend an elbow hole.  I’m always leaning on my elbow!
  7. Temperature regulating:  Choose the right weight and they will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.



  1. Limited selection of color and styles.
  2. Price: Find a sale!  I buy most of my merino wool on sale.  At first I paid full price for a couple pieces, but now that I know I love the product, I buy on sale and clearance!  I often get it as gifts!  There is nothing like a great pair of warm wool socks for any cold nature friend!  Price is probably the reason every cold natured person doesn’t buy high quality merino wool.  Full-price for a lightweight item like a long sleeved shirt is $70-90.  A mid weight ¾ zip shirt can run $90-120.  A wonderful pair of socks can run $25-30.Smartwool Women's PhD Snowboard Medium Sock

If you are not convinced to make an investment in high quality merino wool clothing, treat yourself to a pair of SmartWool socks, then decide on your next piece.

Stay warm and share your tips for beating the cold below.