Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

Life in the Fishbowl - Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

It’s National Coffee Day. Buy some coffee. Help our adoption

The powers that be have declared today to be National Coffee Day. If you’re a coffee drinker, I’m not sure why you need a specific date for you to celebrate coffee. I mean, every day is coffee day for many of you. Right?

So it’s National Coffee Day. And you love coffee. You also want to do good with your purchase. I’ve got a proposal for YOU!

Just Love Coffee adoption fundraiser

You can support our adoption by buying coffee from Just Love Coffee, a portion of the proceeds will go directly towards our efforts to bring our boy home.

I don’t drink much coffee, but I know this is some high qualityquality stuff. A former co-worker of mine is a self-proclaimed coffee snob. She had this to say about her purchase:

“It’s yummy.”

It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Happy National Coffee Day, y’all! Thanks for your ongoing support! Now buy some coffee!

(please)

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“My life is but a weaving…”

Ever look back on a series of events and see that all the pieces were coming together perfectly? Ever look back and realize that the hand of God had to be orchestrating things because there’s no way that you could make things happen the way they did? Ever stand back and say, “Wow. Everything that has happened, the good and the bad, has led my life to this moment“? It leaves you awestruck and breathless. Well, it leaves me awestruck and breathless, anyway.

While I cannot share many details right now, I promise I will in the very near future. In the meantime, let me say this, friends:

God has been at work. He is still at work.

He hasn’t put all of the pieces into place yet, but I can see how He has already brought so many threads together. He’s weaving an incredible work of art. It’s been pretty amazing to stand back and watch it all start coming together as He slowly reveals His handiwork.

I can’t wait to share the story He is telling. But for now, I’m going to watch Him work in the amazing ways that only He can.

It leaves me in awe.

It takes my breath away.

My life is but a weaving - Corrie ten Boom

Life is but a Weaving
(the Tapestry Poem)

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Corrie ten Boom

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Our lives changed after we took this picture 5 years ago

We took this picture five years ago today. It was the last time we were together as a family of four.

Outside Indianapolis International Airport before flying to Ethiopia.

A few minutes after this, the kids drove off with their Papaw. Soon after that, Christy and I boarded a plane. Our ultimate destination was a Little Girl in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Flying over Egypt

Five years ago today, we were ending one leg of our family’s journey.

Five years ago today, we were starting another leg of our family’s journey.

Five years ago…

Wow.

How has it already been five years since we went from being a family of four to a family of five?

Our first picture as a family of five. Taken at the Indianapolis International Airport

It couldn’t have happened without the prayer and support of some pretty amazing friends and family who were with us throughout the process. And it certainly couldn’t have happened without family members taking care of Aiden and Alyson, trying to do whatever possible to keep their lives as close to normal as possible while their mom and dad were half a world away. To anyone and everyone who had some part in our journey to bring Mihret into our family, I want to say “Thank you” again. Thank you for allowing God to use you and to weave your story into our family’s story.

Because we can’t imagine our family without Mihret.

Family picture at the 2013 Show Hope Celebration in Franklin Tennessee

I bet you can’t, either.

The kids holding a sign that says

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9/11, ISIS, and a different response (aka the post I don’t want to write)

The Greatest of These is Love

I’m going to be honest here. I’ve been struggling with writing this post for quite some time. I don’t really feel like I have any real answers here. And I like answers. I like to have my posts tied up in a neat little package with a nifty bow to present to you, dear reader.

I also hesitate to post this because it feel like I’m choosing to be a little naïve. And nobody likes to appear naïve.

And maybe I’m struggling with this thought that’s been rattling around in my head and my heart because…well…I don’t LIKE these thoughts. But I have to share them. I have to get them out. You might not like them, either. You might want to call me an idiot. You might want to call me crazy. That’s OK. I’ve been called crazy before. Or maybe you’ll choose to never read any of my stuff again. I hope that won’t be the case. But I might understand if you choose that response.

I remember how it felt to watch the planes slam into those Towers. I remember the horror of watching the buildings collapse. I remember wishing for *those* people and anyone who agreed with them to be sent straight to the pit of hell. Like all other Americans who watched in disbelief and terror that horrible Tuesday morning, I will never forget. I will never ever forget.

Here we are, 13 years later, and how far have we really come? We have killed countless terrorist leaders, including Osama himself, but the President addressed the nation a few nights ago, declaring that “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.” That sounds an awful lot like his predecessor, who said, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” Doesn’t it?

We’ve been doing an awful lot of hunting these past 13 years.

We’ve also done a lot of punishing.

Regardless of your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that there have been a lot of successes in the ongoing fight against terrorists.

Yet here we are again. We’re in another knock down, drag out with a ruthless terrorist organization. They rose up out of a crippled terror group. And once ISIS (or is it ISIL?) is destroyed , what’s to stop more terrorists from rising up in its place? It’s like the Hydra – you cut off one head and two more sprout up in its place.

Then they’ll strike at us.

We’ll strike back.

They’ll get revenge.

We’ll punish.

And it will go on and on and on.

We are stuck in a never ending cycle. The pursuit will not end. The hunt will not be over. When will it stop? Will it ever stop? I remember during the initial days of the commencement of the War on Terror that we were warned that this effort could take decades – maybe even generations to accomplish.

What if we responded in a different way?

And here’s where I struggle. I don’t know how we, as a State, could implement any other approach than a military response. These monsters are terrorizing civilians, murdering babies, and beheading journalists. They must be stopped. Period.

But I also keep hearing these quotes bounce around in my head and heart:

“An eye for an eye makes both men blind.”
- commonly attributed to Gandhi

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
- commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you.”
- Jesus (Matthew 5:44)

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”
- Jesus (Luke 6:27)

“…the greatest of these is love.”
- Paul (1 Corinthians 13:13b)

So that’s where I’m stuck. I don’t want to respond with love. I don’t even know how to respond to this kind of evil with love.

Like I said, I don’t have a pretty bow to wrap around this one. There’s no Brady Bunch or Family Matters ending here where everything magically comes together at the end of the post. Responding with love could mean that more people are murdered and oppressed and abused in the immediate future. That’s not good. At all. Things are messy right now and a response like this could make things even messier.

And I don’t like that one bit.

But doing the same thing we’ve been doing but expecting different results…that sounds like the common definition of something. Doesn’t it?

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Walgreens #GetAShot Twitter Party 9/17, 1-2 pm ET ($550 in prizes)

RSVP for the #GetAShot Twitter Party

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.

#GetAShot-Twitter-Party-Badge-9-17, #TwitterParty, #shop, sweepstakes on Twitter

Do you love a good Twitter Party?  I do! that’s why I’m excited to co-host a party about how you can Give a Shot when you Get a Shot at Walgreens! On Wednesday, September 17 at 1:00 pm ET, please join me for the #GetAShot Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing this wonderful opportunity to give back to children in need and giving you a chance to win prizes.

As you might know, the Get a Shot, Give a Shot program at Walgreens is something that is very near and dear to my heart. If you’re planning on getting a flu vaccine this year, I ask that you strongly consider getting it at Walgreens. Because when you get vaccinated at Walgreens between now and mid-October, you’re also giving a vaccine to a child in a developing country through the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life program. So this Twitter Party is extra-special. Not only do you get a chance to win one of the six prizes, but you will also help spread the word about this life-saving campaign. You can win stuff and change the world all at the same time. How cool is that?

Join me and RSVP for the #GetAShot Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

RSVP at SoFab Chats

DATE:  Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TIME:  1:00 to 2:00 pm ET

PRIZES:  5 – (1) $100 Walgreens Gift Cards

EARLY BIRD PRIZE:  1 – $50 Walgreens Gift Card

HOSTS:  @Freebies4Mom, @MoneywiseMoms, @comebackmomma, @mattdantodd, @JManMillerBug

SPECIAL GUEST:  @Walgreens

RULES:  #GetAShot Twitter Party Official Rules

RSVP & PARTY GRID:  #GetAShot Twitter Party Page

PLEASE RETWEET:

 

How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party
Sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party?
Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes?
RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize?
Watch for your chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

TIP: Special deals and brand coupons?
Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!

TIP: New to Twitter parties?
Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties?
Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!

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Wait till next year…

I’ll bet you thought I forgot. I’ll bet you thought I was going to just let this series of posts fade away like Wonderful Wookiee Wednesday and Flashback Friday (which started waaaay before the whole Throwback Thursday trend. Yet again, I’m a trend-setter) and Thankful Thursday.

I’m happy to say that you were wrong.

2015 fireworks

It’s just taken me a while to finish this sentence:

“Next year looks better to me because…”

….things are in place for 2015 to be a dream year. Obviously, I cannot predict the future. But here are some things I would love to see happen by the end of next year:

    • I will be helping out a local nonprofit organization or two, utilizing the marketing skills I learned during my place of previous employment. It might not pay much, but that’s OK. We’re going to change the world.
    • We will finally be a family of six.
    • I will finally complete the One Year Bible. I started it back in…oh…2012. And I’m currently on track to complete it December 26, 2014. I suspect that end date might change. Unfortunately.
    • I will knock off a few items on my “Things I Want to Do” List. Like, maybe #1 (Go to the Men’s Final Four – it’s in Indy next year), #9 (Attend the Indianapolis 500), #31 (Visit Lincoln’s Tomb), #32 (Grow a Garden), and #88 & #89 (Build and Launch a Model Rocket with my Kids).
    • Maybe I will have figured out a way to have a getaway with Christy. A week would be awesome, but I’d be just as happy with just a night or two at this point.
    • There’s this little thing called Star Wars Episode VII that’s scheduled to come out in 2015. I just might have to take the family to a midnight showing of that on opening night.
    • Maybe Aiden will go fishing with me and my dad at Bennett Spring.
    • My story about a snowpocalypse falling upon Indy will be complete and I will be well on my way to finishing my story about a colony on Mars.

Since 2015 starts just a few months from now, it’s time to get cracking and lay the groundwork for what could very well be the most epic year of all time. You hear me?

Of.
all.
time.

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My notes from Mixwest 2014

Mixwest Notes
I had a great time at Mixwest 2014. I got to meet some new people, catch up with some old friends, and learn some pretty amazing stuff from the fabulous collection of speakers and presenters.

It’s always hard going to a conference like this and deciding what workshops to attend – especially when you want to go to all of them. But you can only go to one at a time, unless you’ve managed to figure out a way to be in three places at the same time. If you have, please contact me! I want to learn your secrets.

My friend, Leah, calls this the Mixwest Struggle. And let me tell you, the struggle is real, y’all. Since many of you might have shared in The Struggle this year, I’ve decided to share my notes from this year’s conference. Now, I’m not the most amazing note taker on the planet, but I did try to get down as much relevant information as possible. Here are my notes from Mixwest 2014.

And in case you’re interested, here are my notes from Blog Indiana 2012 – the precursor to Mixwest.

I should mention that because of The Struggle, I tried to avoid sessions that I knew were going to be recorded. Once those are available, I will have figured out how to be in two places at the same time! Still gotta unravel the mystery of being in three places at once. But that’ll happen. Some day.

I hope these notes are helpful. If you have any technical difficulties, please let me know and I’ll get that fixed ASAP. And if you have any notes or insight from any of the sessions that you attended at Mixwest 2014, I’d love to learn from your experience!

Keep being awesome, Mixwesterners! Hopefully, we’ll see each other again next year. Because I love what you do.

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3 more things my high school band director told me

Yesterday, I shared three things that my high school band director told me that have stuck with me over the years. But I wasn’t done. There are three more things that I need to share…
Low brass awesomeness

“Don’t mess with the Star Spangled Banner.”

You march onto the field, play the song exactly the way the audience expects to hear it. Then you march off. No fluff. Nothing artsy about it.

He was right. He still is. Every time some pop sensation tries to do something cute with the national anthem, that person gets lit up on the social networks. In a different context, it could be considered ground-breaking (see: Jimi Hendrix), but we are a nation of traditions. And if you’re going to perform the national anthem before a game, you’re better off just performing the song the way it was written and getting out of the way. If not, you might find yourself on some Top Ten Worst National Anthem Performances list.

Whenever someone messes with the national anthem, I just shake my head. “Mr. Briel was right,” I say to myself. “They should’ve listened to him.”

Blind fish and a prediction about our offspring

Mr. Briel opened class one day with a story. It wasn’t entirely unusual that he would tell us a story, but this one was a little different. He started talking about fish. But these were just any fish. They were blind fish that are found in caves.

Blind Cavefish

Then he started to discuss the scientific theory behind this phenomenon. Strange, I thought. I must have accidentally walked into biology lab instead of Concert Band. He explained that organisms adapt to their environment over time. Features that an organism needs in its environment continue to be strengthened. Other organs, like the eyes in the cave fish’s case, eventually phase out. Fish in a body of water in the middle of a cave don’t have any need for eyes, after all. There’s no light anyway. So over time, the fish just stopped growing eyes because they weren’t using them anyway.

Then he explained that the things an organism uses tend to be emphasized as their genetic makeup is passed on from generation to generation. At the same time, the things they don’t use tend to be minimized as an organism adapts over time. Sometimes, these features disappear altogether.

After giving us a brief scientific lecture, he paused and looked over the class.

“You know, I was thinking about this effect of passing along traits to our offspring as I was trying to figure out what happened during yesterday’s class. And I’ve come to this conclusion:

“Your kids are going to be born with no ears and really big mouths!”

You know, there are days when I think of this prediction and wonder if Mr. Briel might have had a touch of the gift of prophecy. Because…well…there are some days where it sure feels like he was absolutely right.

As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. And I’ve had some pretty large helpings of that dish over the years.

“If you’ll switch to tuba, I’ll put you in Wind Ensemble.”

In 5th grade, I took up the trumpet. A cornet, to be specific. But that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I was part of the trumpet section, so we’ll just say I was playing the trumpet.

Anyway, I started playing the trumpet in 5th grade. I played it all through middle school and even marched as a trumpet during my Freshman year of marching season. I was decent. But I definitely wasn’t great at trumpet. My trumpet skills were nothing to write home about.

At the end of 9th grade, Mr. Briel came up to me towards the end of class. He had a proposal for me. We didn’t have anyone lined up to play tuba the next year. So he asked me and two of my Freshman trumpet buddies if we’d consider switching from trumpet to tuba. To sweeten the deal, he said that he’d put us in Wind Ensemble – the highest level of band at our school – if we made the switch.

So I switched. And my musical career took off.

Because of a scheduling conflict, I was not enrolled in Wind Ensemble the following semester. I was disappointed, but it turned out to be a great thing. Since I was the only tuba playing in Concert Band, I couldn’t hide behind anyone else. I had to quickly learn how to play my new instrument and I had to learn how to play it with power.

So I did.

Not to toot my own horn (no pun intended…or maybe it is intended), but I got to be pretty darn good for a guy who didn’t start playing tuba until the 10th grade. I wound up on the All-City Honors Band for two years. I played in a large brass ensemble at the State Solo & Ensemble contest. I participated in TubaChristmas for several years. I performed in several church orchestras and brass ensembles. I even had a tuba solo in a jazz concert while at Milligan. Turned out it was my final instrumental performance ever.

All City Band

All City Honors Band. Can you find me? I promise I’m in this picture.

I had a much better time playing tuba than I ever had while playing trumpet. And I have Mr. Briel to thank for that. Sure, he might have chosen me to play tuba simply because I was a pretty big guy and could handle carrying a giant brass instrument around. But that’s OK. I have no complaints. Because it still opened all kinds of doors for me.

And now I’m a bass line guy for life.

Mr. Briel impacted me in many ways. But this invitation to play the tuba? It was life-changing. And I cannot thank him enough for giving me that opportunity.

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