Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."

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

I’ve accepted the 2015 A to Z Challenge

A to Z Challenge

After taking a year off, I’m taking another crack at the April A to Z Challenge. I had fun writing for the challenge back in 2013, but realized I didn’t have the time or energy to dedicate to it last year. Do I have the time and energy to do it this year?

Probably not.

But that’s OK. I’m going to give it the ol’ college try. I like the concept. And it’s a good way to stretch your writing skills a little bit. The premise is simple: you through the alphabet, assigning a letter to each day in April (minus Sundays). A post each day has to be based on that letter. Like April 1 would be “A,” so a post needs to be based on something relating to the letter “A.” It could be a word or a sound or I guess you could even talk about a building inspired by the letter “A” if you really wanted to. Then April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on until you end with “Z.” Makes sense, right?

2015 A to Z Challenge Calendar

It’s really that simple. But it might not be as easy as you’d initially think. Some people, however, like to make things even more difficult. They have themes for the whole month. Others have talked about writing a story throughout April and starting each chapter with the assigned letter for that day. Me? I’m not that creative. I’m not ready to tackle a challenge like that. I’m going to be lucky to just make it through the Challenge without an overall theme. Maybe next year I’ll be able to step up my A to Z game. We’ll have to wait and see about that.

Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge? Let me know in the comments that you stopped by. I’m looking forward to reading other people’s entries. It’s going to be fun!

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I’m packing my bags for SoFabU on the Road in Cincinnati!

OK. In reality, it’s just going to be one bag. And I haven’t really started packing yet. The event doesn’t happen for another month. But I’m pretty excited to have this opportunity.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had some great opportunities to publish some sponsored posts on this blog. And the money that is being made is helping to cover some of our adoption fees and travel expenses. But after we bring “W” home, we’re going to have another mouth to feed – a 14 year old boy’s mouth to feed. That means we’ll need to be able to put more food on the table. Because 14 year old boys like to eat. A lot.

So, it’s time to step up. It’s time to take my blog to the next level. 

So I’m hitting the road on April 25 and driving to Cincinnati to participate in a one-day event that’s been put together by Collective Bias’s Social Fabric University: SoFabU On the Road.

There’s a lot that excites me about this conference, but I’m most looking forward to the Keynote Session. Here’s the description:

Attendees will walk away with a solid understanding of how to pair analytics data (Google, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook) with common, free publishing tools to grow their audience with data-driven processes.

That’s exactly what I need! I know just enough analytics to get myself into trouble. I’m looking forward to learning how to keep myself out of trouble. In doing that, I’ll be able to make this blog even better for you, Dear Reader.  Then I can find other ways to get myself into trouble.

I struggled long and hard about attending this conference. With all of our extra funds going towards adoption-related expenses, there really isn’t a lot of room in our budget to cover something like this. I agree that it’s an investment that will have big returns long-term. I agree that this really is a quite affordable event. But I still hesitated on jumping in.

Then something unexpected happened.

I was awarded a grant to go to SoFabU On the Road in Cincinnati! It covers the ticket and travel expenses. And that’s pretty amazing. And unexpected. And amazing. I had applied for the grant, but didn’t really think I’d be chosen. I’m humbled at this opportunity and plan on making the most of it. This could have HUGE implications for our family. I even have a little post-conference mini-retreat planned so I can go ahead and work out a plan to start implementing all of the new ideas that I’ll learn while they’re still fresh in my mind.

SoFabU On the Road isn’t just coming to Cincinnati. They’ll be meeting in several cities throughout the United States during the year, including Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta. In all, they will visit 11 different cities when all is said and done. It’s likely that they’ll be coming to your area in the near future. But if you want to join me in Cincy, I would act fast. The Early Bird registration price ends soon! You don’t want to miss out on the big savings, do you?

I’m excited to be visiting the Queen City in a few weeks. If you’re there, feel free to tap me on the shoulder and say “howdy.” I’d love to connect with you. It’s always fun to put digital names with real-live faces.

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16 ways you can support our adoption

16 ways you can support our adoptionIt’s no secret that adoption can be expensive. Of course, it’s also no secret that giving birth to a child can be just as expensive. It’s just paid in different ways by different people. So as we’re waiting to meet “W” and ultimately bring him home, we’re busy finding the funds to complete this journey. And that’s where you come in. Just like are plenty of ways you can help orphans without adopting, I’ve come up with 16 ways you can support our adoption. And most of them won’t even cost you a cent! Here they are:

1. Buy Coffee.

Just Love Coffee Roasters

image via The Cultureist

When you buy coffee from Just Love Coffee Roasters, we receive a portion of the profits. It’s that simple. In addition to high-quality coffee, they also have apparel, mugs, and hot chocolate available. They make special blends for different occasions, like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. And you can even sign up for a year-long subscription. You’ll have high-quality coffee delivered to your doorstep every month. Oh, and they also have single serve cups.

Just Love Coffee Roasters has all the coffee you’ll need. And it creates a win-win-win situation. You are supporting Fair Trade coffee growing co-ops around the world. You’re helping to cover our adoption expenses. And, you get some pretty tasty coffee. As one former co-worker (who claims to be a coffee snob) of mine once said:

It’s yummy.

What more do you need to convince you? If you’re a coffee drinker, please try Just Love Coffee today!

2. Give us your books.

If you live in the Greater Indianapolis area and have extra books sitting around gathering dust, we’ll gladly take them off your hands! We’ll re-sell them to Half  Price Books for cash money. If you live in southwestern Indiana or the Louisville area, we can also arrange a pick up. It just might take a little bit of time.

Do you have books you’d like to donate? Don’t hesitate to contact me! We’ll get something worked out.

The next three have to do with an upcoming garage sale.

 3. Donate items to our garage sale.

We originally planned on having a garage sale on Saturday, April 25. Because of a scheduling conflict on my end (I’ll explain in a later post. It’s a really really really good conflict), we’re going to have to host the sale at a later date.

In the meantime, we need your stuff! If you’re like us, you’ve been doing some Spring Cleaning and discovered all kinds of stuff that you really can live without. If you live in the Indianapolis area, we’ll be happy to take it off your hands. Just shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling.

4. Help promote the garage sale.

Once we have the date nailed down, if you could help tell all of your friends in the Indianapolis area to come buy our stuff, that would be awesome.

5. Show up. Buy stuff.

That kind of goes without saying. Right? If we’re going to have a garage sale, we need people to buy our stuff!

Here are some ways you can provide support without any effort at all.

This is going to sound silly, but supporting this blog is a great way to help our adoption. I have had the opportunity to use this space to publish some sponsored blog posts. Over the last year, all of the money from those compensated posts have gone to help pay for adoption expenses. The more “reach” and engagement that I can show potential advertisers, the more likely they are to hire me. And that’s a good thing. So, here’s what you can do to support this blog…

6. Subscribe to the email newsletter.

Did you even know there was a newsletter associated with this blog? Probably not. I haven’t done a great job at letting you know about it. That changes today.

Subscribe to Life in the Fishbowl

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7. Follow me on twitter.

8. Do you use tumblr? You can follow me there, too. 

9. “Like” my facebook page

Get involved in the page. Like the articles you like. Leave comments. The more you’re involved on the page, the more facebook’s algorithm will allow the page to show up in your news feed.

10. Follow my Pinterest boards.
Visit Matt Todd’s profile on Pinterest.

11. Engage.

Keep reading posts on this blog. Comment on articles. Share posts on your social platforms. You can start by sharing this post, if you want.

12. Buy from affiliate links.

Most links to Amazon are what are known as affiliate links. That means we get a very small percentage of each purchase made from that link. It doesn’t really add up to much right now, but if you’re going to buy the product anyway, why not help us out in the process?

Prayer might be last on this list, but it’s what we need most.

13. Pray for “W.”

I can’t imagine what it’s like to know that your have a family that’s pursuing you, but you still have to wait. And while you’re waiting, having to watch other kids leave with their forever families. Please pray for his sweet spirit. Pray for his health. Pray for his safety while he waits. Pray for his transition as he makes our family a family of SIX, while moving to a strange country with a strange language, customs, and food.

14. Pray for the governments and agencies involved. 

International adoption involves a lot of bureaucratic red tape and hoop-jumping. Please pray for all agencies involved, that all the ‘i’s will be dotted and the ‘t’s will be crossed and that everything will be conducted with the utmost of integrity and honesty. Pray for roadblocks to be removed and that this adoption journey will be smooth.

15. Pray for our family.

Pray for our nerves as we wait. Pray for the transition. I have no idea what it’s going to be like adding another teenage boy to our household mix. But we’re going to do it. Because he’s worth it. Please pray for our family as we get ready for this transition.

16. Pray for God’s provision.

We have applied for several grants and no-interest loans to help pay for these expenses. Many of these ministries and agencies are looking at and praying over our requests as we speak. Please pray for open hearts as they hear our story.

I know God is going to show up. In some way, some how, He always does. He provided in unexpected ways during Mihret’s adoption. I’m confident He’ll do it again. I’m hoping it’s through these grants and our fundraising efforts. But maybe that won’t be the case. However He chooses to provide, I look forward to seeing Him work through His people.

That’s all. For now.

So there you have it: 16 ways you can support our adoption. Most of them are pretty painless. Right? But I promise, if you do even a few of them, you’re going to make a huge difference.

Thank you for your ongoing support. You have no idea how much it means to us.

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Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JustAddRotel #CollectiveBias

Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart!

Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart! #JustAddRotel #ad

Are you creating a big snacking spread for the Big Tournament? Looking for ways to spice up game day and save money at the same time? #JustAddRotel is the perfect way to spice up your favorite recipes. From guacamole to pot roast sliders, adding a can of RO*TEL makes a traditional game day recipe into something extraordinary. Click this link to print a Walmart coupon where you buy 3 cans of RO*TEL, you will get 1 can free!

 Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart! #JustAddRotel #ad

Hurry, this coupon expires on April 6th and is only while supplies last! Be sure to look for RO*TEL in either the Pasta or Hispanic aisle in Walmart!

Why not share this coupon with your friends? After all, sharing IS caring!

You know, when I think about using RO*TEL to create something great to eat while watching a sporting event like the Big Tournament, the first thing that comes to mind is their famous queso dip. And that’s great. I love RO*TEL queso. But did you know that there’s so much more you can do with RO*TEL? I put together this Pinterest board to share some of the awesome things you can make with RO*TEL.

Follow Matt Todd’s board Awesome RO*TEL recipes (#ad) on Pinterest.

See? This is why you need this coupon. You don’t want to run out of RO*TEL when you’re making all these recipes!

What recipe are you look forward to trying after you use the buy 3 get 1 free coupon at Walmart?

Do  have your own “go-to” recipe that uses RO*TEL? Or are you going to give one of these amazing recipes a try? Please share in the comments.

And don’t forget to share this post with your friends!

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The paper chase: A big adoption update

This whole adoption process has definitely been a marathon and it is not for the faint of heart. There have been days, weeks, and even months where it has felt like nothing was happening. That’s part of the reason I haven’t given much of an update on this blog recently. There really wasn’t much to report, other than the fact that we were still caught in the grueling process that is known in adoption circles as the paper chase. Now, we aren’t new to the paper chase. We’ve done it before. But I guess I’d forgotten how long the process actually takes. Or maybe I thought it would be quicker this time around. After all, we had all the documents from before.

Nope.

Almost everything had to be redone. And sometimes they had to be redone again because people had trouble following directions the first time (let’s not talk about how difficult it was to get the form for my physical filled out properly by the doctor’s office). I’m pretty sure it took twice as long as Mihret’s paper chase. And the stress of getting other offices to correctly do what they’re supposed to do just might’ve taken a few months off my life.

But it’s all OK now. Because it’s out of our hands.
Adoption Paper Chase Complete
That’s right. We have finished the paper chase! Our dossier is complete! After months of feeling like we’re marking time, there’s finally some movement. We’re starting to see some momentum in the adoption process. Things are starting to move a little bit quicker. Hopefully, momentum keeps going the right direction.

What’s next?

Now that our dossier is in the hands of our agency, they’ll go over it and make sure everything is there and nothing needs correcting. Then it will be translated into Amharic. Once it’s translated, it will be sent to the Ethiopian government. That’s the next milestone – the DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia) date. Once they receive the dossier, they’ll do their due diligence to make sure everything is in order. That could still take a while. After that’s completed, there will be two separate trips to Ethiopia. In the first trip, we’ll meet “W,” our son, for the first time. We’ve been communicating with each other since late last year and we’ve even been able to send some small care packages with other families who are flying to Addis, but we have yet to see each other face to face.

I have to admit, I’m having a hard time waiting for that day. I can’t wait to look into his eyes and tell him that he’s mine. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around him and welcome him to the family. I can’t wait to smile at him and tell him how loved he is. I can’t wait.

Of course, I have to wait. Because we’ll stand before the Ethiopian court the first time and they will declare “W” our son. But then we’ll have to wait some more while the US Embassy does its due diligence to make sure everything is in order. That takes several weeks. So we’re supposed to go home and wait.

That’s going to be tough. I had a hard enough time leaving Mihret at the Care Center that was adjacent to our hotel after meeting her. I can’t imagine leaving our son half a world away after meeting him. But people do it. And everyone survives. I suppose we’ll survive, too.

Actually, I know we’ll survive. Because it’s what we have to do. It’s the process we have to go through. We’ll do whatever it takes and jump through whatever hoops are necessary in order to bring “W” home to his forever family.

We’ve achieved a major milestone in our efforts to adopt “W.” But there’s much more that has to be done before he is home with us. Many of you have asked how you can help us on this journey. I’m putting together a post that answers this question. Hopefully it’ll be ready tomorrow.

In the meantime, I ask you to pray. Pray for all of the bureaucrats and diplomats involved in this process. Pray that the paperwork is correct and it is translated accurately and quickly. But most of all, please pray for “W.” Pray for his health. Pray for his spirit. Pray that he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he has a family who loves him and is working to move heaven and earth to bring him home.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

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Cherry Coke Pulled Pork makes college basketball even better [Recipe]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  Coca-Cola is a corporate champion of the NCAA. #FinalFourPack #CollectiveBias

#FinalFourPack Game Day

I love this time of year. The air is starting to warm up. The birds are returning. The flowers are starting to bloom. And a select few college teams are still playing basketball. All are signs that March is upon us. And I believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

NCAA® March Madness is about to descend upon us. It promises to be full of s the proverbial David vs. Goliath stories, surprising upsets, instant classics, and heartbreaking losses as the field of 68 men’s teams will duke it out for the opportunity to visit my fair city of Indianapolis. It’s in our beloved town where the kings of the college basketball world will soon be crowned.

Yes, I am excited about NCAA® March Madness. I get this way every year. I love every minute of the tournament, from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer. It’s wall-to-wall basketball for three weekends in a row. And I can’t get enough of it.

I have already made the declaration in our home: if the TV is on, we will be watching basketball. End of discussion.

With so much on the line with each game, I believe watching them should be an event unto themselves. This year, I plan on gathering the family around the TV to soak in as much of the hoops hysteria as possible. We’ll probably even invite some friends over to watch with us.

When gathering people together to watch, you want to keep things simple. After all, the tournament is primarily about the games. Right? You don’t want to spend half of Game Day in the kitchen making snacks. Fortunately, Coke has provided a convenient way to help you prepare for the tournament with the Coca-Cola NCAA® Final Four Pack available at Walmart.

#FinalFourPack display at Walmart

These convenient four packs come in three different flavors: Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, and Coke Zero. They’re easy to carry and a great deal! You can get four 4-packs for only five bucks. A #FinalFourPack is a great way to make wall-to-wall basketball watching even better!

You have to eat while watching basketball, right? Watching all those games can be exhausting. With help from one of the Final Four Packs, you can make a simple meal-sized snack that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: Cherry Coke Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I love this recipe because you can put it together quickly and then go back to watching the games. You just set it and forget it until it’s time to remove from the oven several hours later.  #FinalFourPack Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cherry Coke BBQ Sauce

 

The process to make Cherry Coke Pulled Pork Sandwiches is really quite simple. It just requires a lot of patience. But that’s OK. You’ve got some great basketball games to keep you occupied!

What You’ll Need:

#FinalFourPack Cherry Coke BBQ ingredients

  • 1 3-to-4 pound pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • hamburger buns
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 12 ounce can of Cherry Coke
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Spices (see below)

#FinalFourPack Cherry Coke BBQ spices

Spices:

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

What you’ll do:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

3. Put hamburger buns to the side. You won’t need them for a few hours.

4. Place pork shoulder into roasting pan or similar dish with sides.

5. Combine remaining ingredients (ketchup, Cherry Coke, red wine vinegar, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices) into a mixing bowl. Stir until blended.

6. Pour over the pork.

7. Bake until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can bake it longer than that if you’d like. In fact, it’s recommended. Some say you want to reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Because that gives the connective tissue even more time to break down, making the meat amazingly tender. You want to set it low and bake it slow. A good rule of thumb is to plan on an hour per pound of meat at minimum.

8. Go watch a game or two. Or maybe even three! It is NCAA® March Madness time, after all. Don’t worry about the pork for a while.

9. Seriously. Stop worrying about the pork. Set it and forget it.

10. Once your meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a large platter. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

11. While the meat is still warm, use two forks and pull the pork apart.

12. Add some of the sauce from the baking dish to your pulled pork.

13. Spoon the pulled pork onto the hamburger buns.

14. Enjoy!

See? It’s really that easy. Some people like to top their pulled pork with slaw. You can do that if you’d like. Or serve it with pickle spears. Or top it with mayonnaise (I know, it sounds weird, but trust me. It’s pretty good). This sandwich is the perfect pairing with the Tournament because it gives you all the time in the world to watch all the buzzer-beaters you can handle!

What’s your favorite Game Day snack? Do you have any traditions for NCAA® March Madness? Please share them in the comments below!

But that’s not the only way Coca Cola can make your college basketball experience even better with their Final Four Pack. You can follow Coke and Coke Zero on their social media platforms and continue the fun all year long.

Coca-Cola

Coke Zero

The college basketball fun with Coca Cola doesn’t stop there!

Enter the giveaway below for the chance to win the ultimate #FinalFourPack basketball giveaway!

 

Coca Cola #FinalFourPack Walmart Sweepstakes – $1,000 in Prizing

 
When you enter, you also have an opportunity to enter to win tickets to the 2016 Final Four! All you need is a selfie.
#FinalFourPack selfie
So what are you waiting for? Enter to win today!

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March and basketball go together like peanut butter and jelly

The playoffs begin for the over-30 basketball league Aug. 4 at the fitness center here. The championship game is scheduled to take place Aug. 10 at the fitness center gym here.
High school tournaments are in full swing. Student athletes are delivering heartfelt speeches on Senior Nights. Conference tournaments have started. Selection Sunday is just around the corner. Some upsets have already happened. Congratulations, Illinois State, for knocking off the Shockers today. The ball will soon be tipped for that One Shining Moment. And people are talking like coaches will gladly jump from the NBA to coach the Cream and Crimson. I think they’re dreaming, by the way. But that’s a different post for a different time. Maybe. I’m not sure I have the energy to get involved in the argument. Let’s just say that I think it’s a pretty bold assumption that it would happen.

They’re all signs that March has begun, my friends. And I can’t be any happier. This is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year. I love all things about this season. And it’s even more special this year because, once again, our fair city is hosting the men’s Final Four and there are all kinds of fun festivities planned for that weekend. We’ll be there. Shoot, we might even wear some candystripes since it’s highly unlikely that our beloved Hoosiers will be wearing theirs on the court come game time that weekend.

Ah, March and basketball.

It goes together like cheese and crackers
Like socks and shoes
Like biscuits and gravy
Like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Like R2D2 and C3PO
Like peanut butter and jelly.

It’s March. And it’s full of hysteria, insanity, and wall to wall basketball. And I love every minute of it.

Because in 49 states, it’s just a game. But this is Indiana. And we love our basketball. We love it so much that I think Thursday and Friday of opening weekend should be declared a state holiday. Shoot. Let’s make it a Federal holiday. I mean, come on, it’s not like anyone with a desk job is working when these games are on. So why not go ahead and give everyone those days off so we can celebrate the greatness of college basketball in March?

Come on. You know you like the idea. It fits. Like peanut butter and jelly. Then you we can watch basketball, basketball, and more basketball.

That just might be heaven on earth. Wouldn’t it?

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A family favorite: Breakfast Pizza!

It’s that time of the year again. Number 2 pencils are sharpened. Students are filling in little bubbles, answering math questions, and writing essays. Politicians are grandstanding  about how long the process is supposed to take. And I’m once again reminded that a balloo is a bear, to wuzzle is to mix, and a younker is a young man.

Yes, standardized tests are ruling the day in Indiana.

Schools always encourage us to make sure our kids have a good breakfast on mornings like these. I can’t think of a better breakfast than this breakfast pizza. So I made it for them this morning.

Breakfast Pizza

This is the same kind of pizza I made a few months ago. It’s the one I was so excited to make for breakfast. It’s the recipe that I actually had a dream about making the night before I made it. And rightfully so. This pizza is that good.

That. good.

About a dozen years ago, I was the opening manager at a pizza joint. After firing up the oven and making sure everything was ready for the day, I would make a breakfast pizza and share it with my Driver. It was pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

And I just did. ;)

I don’t know why, but after I stopped working at that pizza place, I never really thought of making a breakfast pizza again. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve thought about that pizza quite a bit over the years. It was probably my favorite breakfast food ever. but for some strange reason, it never dawned on me that I could actually make something similar at home.

That was a horrible oversight on my part. While it’s true that I don’t have access to the exact same ingredients that I had at that pizza joint, it doesn’t mean that I couldn’t make something that tasted just as good.

Maybe even better.

I’ve seen breakfast pizza recipes with biscuits for a crust. I’ve also seen some with sausage gravy used as the sauce. Those are great. They taste pretty fabulous.

But they don’t hold a candle to the recipe I’m about to share with you.

When I made this pizza for the first time in a dozen years, it quickly became a family favorite. I think Aiden could eat it every day if that was a possibility. I’ve only made it a few times because it’s hard enough to get up on a school day without having to get up even earlier to put this pizza together. There are a few things you can do ahead of time, but you still have to get up early to bake the pizza. But that’s OK. This breakfast pizza is worth getting up a few minutes early.

Here’s how to make it: Continue reading

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Egyptian Christians, St. Bartholomew, and counting the cost

In light of recent news of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt because of their faith, I was reminded of something that I had written 10 years ago for a church history class while in seminary. It was a meditation based on the painting of St. Bartholomew. Christian tradition says that Bartholomew the Apostle was martyred for his faith. It was a brutal execution.

St. Bartholomew

You can read the whole devotional thought here, if you’re really interested. It’s OK if you aren’t. That’s not really the reason I’m writing today.

I really want to share one of the meditation’s final paragraphs. Because the point is just as important today as it was when I wrote it ten years ago.

The image of St. Bartholomew calls upon us to pray for the persecuted church around the world.  It tells us the story of the millions of Christians who have given their lives for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.  It is a startling reminder that the price of following Jesus Christ is not cheap.  It is not a road that will be traveled lightly.  There will be trials and persecution of all kinds.  In the end, it could cost the believer everything – including the loss of life.  It is the example of St. Bartholomew that encourages the believer to press on towards the prize, knowing full well the costs involved.  It is with that same confidence that we face the perils of following the Lord of all things.

I think these martyred Egyptian Christians do the exact same thing. While the nations rage and come up with a fitting response to these barbaric acts, let us count the cost and take up the cross with reckless abandon. Let us live in boldness, full of hope, joy, and love, as we press on towards Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

I know it’s not easy. I’m not pretending it is. But this is how we are going to change the world, my friends.

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It’s cold. And I need a beach.

Myrtle Beach Sunrise
A few years ago, I published a well-reasoned argument outlining why I wasn’t a fan of going to the beach. I still agree with the majority of those points, but after visiting Myrtle Beach in October, I came to love everything about the beach. It wasn’t super-hot. It wasn’t over crowded because it wasn’t really their prime tourist season. Shoot, even the sand didn’t bother me. Too much.

Even though we were on a tight budget, our family had a great time. Yes, we had to say “no” to doing a few of the touristy things, but that was OK. That gave us more time to spend in the sun, sand, and water. We searched for seashells, cruised the Boardwalk, and built several sandcastles.

Myrtle Beach October, 2014

And at night we strolled along the coast. While I wasn’t able to accomplish Item #17 on my list of things I want to do, the week was a huge success and we made some pretty awesome memories together. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to have a candlelight dinner by the ocean with Christy. I will just have to make sure that happens. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Congratulations, Myrtle Beach. You’ve won me over.

Myrtle Beach, October 2014

And now that we’ve been facing highs in the teens (at best) and bone chilling winds that have been strong enough to knock down tree limbs, I’m finding myself longing for a return to the warm, sandy coast with the calming sounds of the waves kissing the shore.

Yep. It’s cold. And I need a beach.

Myrtle Beach October, 2014

Until then, I’ll just have to settle for these beautiful memories…

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