The people's voice of reason

"Live Life by Design NOT by Default"

Because I love to read, I'm always searching for new books of interest, especially from authors I've enjoyed in the past. So after learning of a new book written by local author and friend Jeff Barganier, I knew it would be added to my reading list. I'm still weary of the political landscape of the past year, so instead of my normal commentary on politics, I want to share with you my thoughts and impressions of this book, How Prayer Helped Me Escape the Corporate Rat Race...and Live Life by Design Not by Default.

While Jeff's first book, The Slash Brokers, was a compelling albeit alarming work of fiction based on fact, his current book is a memoir of the power of prayer in his life and that of his family, as well as the faith required for his mid-life decision to walk away from a successful corporate career. Although I was acquainted with Jeff through our common interest and work in politics, I knew little about his personal life other than the fact that he was a former attorney and financial advisor before becoming involved with the day-to-day-operations of his wife Cindy's interior design company.

Jeff is a natural and vivid storyteller, and the book is filled with details of his life growing up in Greenville, AL where he met Cindy, and their early life as husband and wife. The stories of those early years reveal an intense work ethic that they each possess, evidenced by Jeff working various jobs while attending law school at night, and Cindy diligently establishing a name for herself in the interior design industry. Memories shared of those years relate the financial struggles of starting a small business, becoming parents, business mistakes made and lessons learned – often costly ones – while also revealing a strong marriage that is modeled after the Biblical picture of Christ and His Church.

Interwoven throughout the book are Jeff's deep moral convictions, and readers get a glimpse of a man of integrity who is deeply troubled with what America views as success, particularly at the corporate level, and how culture drives far too many of us to ignore the cost of that success as it relates to our families. He shares how in his career as a financial advisor, money was his motivating force, but a hostility for the corporate rat race was increasingly festering inside. And while he attempted to productively channel that resentment into tackling various projects around their home – quite entertaining chapters of the book, I might add – his misplaced motivation made for a miserable existence in the corporate world.

Jeff's journey through what his wife calls the "lost years" is an honest and humble reflection of what I believe so many of us search for in life, even those of us professing to be Christians who are still putting more faith in our world, and our political leaders, than in our God. Through prayer and faith, what Jeff ultimately found was a way to "work to live" rather than "live to work." But make no mistake – there is nothing in his story that diminishes hard work; to the contrary, he believes hard work is good and necessary for each of us, and is by design what we are expected and required to do in order to live in a functioning and civil society. Working to live doesn't give one permission to neglect responsibilities or to simply float naively through life assuming everything will be just fine, nor does Jeff view our God as a fairy godmother to grant our every wish.

With the full support of his wife, Jeff took a leap of faith to leave what the world views as security, and he is now living by design to utilize his talents and abilities unencumbered by the control we give others when we default into our culture's materialistic definition of success that can often lead to excessive pride and problems of emptiness within our families. It is a journey that will inspire you to do a bit of soul-searching of your own motivations and encourage reflection on what really matters in this world.

It was hardly surprising that Romans 12:2 continually came to mind as I read: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

That is living life by His perfect design, and Jeff Barganier's faith is leading him to seek it. As we enter into this New Year, seeking that design would serve us all well.

Marcia Chambliss has been involved in grassroots conservative politics since 2009 and has contributed opinion articles pertaining to and cultural issues to The Alabama Gazette since 2010.

Jeff Barganier will be signing copies of his latest book as follows:

January 17, Montgomery Antique Gallery 11:30 to 2:30

January 18, Greenville, AL Public Library 5-6:00 pm

February 24, New South Books 2-4:00 pm

April 19 "Friends Talk" Pike Road Library

For more information, contact Jeff at 334-356-3652 or


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