Some highlights from Aiden’s football season

Aiden Todd - Number 5

Aiden’s football season is over. He’s still practicing, helping the practice squad as the Center Grove Varsity Football team begins its quest to win another State title. And that’s important. But the Junior Varsity team’s season is over. So, for all practical purposes, Aiden’s season is done, too.

It’s really no secret that being a Sophomore on a team that has its share of upperclassmen makes it a challenge. So Aiden really hasn’t gotten as much playing time as he’s been used to having. That’s OK, though. Because he took advantage of the opportunities he had. Some people choose to sulk and complain about not getting very much playing time. And then they use that as an excuse for poor performance on the field (I’ve even heard some professional players do this). I’m happy to say that Aiden didn’t rely on excuses like that (even though it was probably tempting at times). He gave it his all, every time he was on the field.

In the final two games of the season, he was on the field a total of six plays. Like I said, this wasn’t really unexpected. But even though he wasn’t on the field very long, he had a huge impact on the games. Because within the span of just six plays, Aiden recovered a fumble and successfully defended a potential touchdown pass.

Earlier in the Summer, I asked my facebook friends to help come up with a nickname for Aiden since he was going to be wearing #5 this season. As you can see, we came up with a pretty good list.

I was partial to Red Five or Johnny Five, but those didn’t really gain much traction. When I presented the list to him, Aiden’s favorite was Five Finger Discount. Fitting, since he plays defense. Right? The problem was that it was such a long nickname that we never really used it.

We probably should have. Because he had a knack for robbing his opponents of the ball. Here’s some photographic evidence to support my claim.

Fumble Recovery


As this play unfolded, we saw commotion around the ball carrier. As you can see, #5 (aka Johnny Five aka Red Five aka Five Finger Discount) is about to jump into the heat of things. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get a picture of what happened next. After the dust settled and the refs started peeling players off the dogpile, Aiden popped up and held the ball in the air.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if it was really Aiden or not. I mean, it looked like him and I was pretty sure it was #5 with the ball, but I didn’t see the ref say he had recovered the fumble. It was only after his name was announced over the PA system that he was, in fact, the one who came up with the ball, that everything caught up with me. It was a pretty cool moment to watch.

You could see that Aiden was excited about the fumble recovery as he bounced off the field. And that excitement didn’t fade throughout the rest of the game. Take another look at that photo at the very top of this post. I took it some 10-15 minutes after this game was over. He was still beaming. You can see it in the smirk on his face. I think he was trying to hide his excitement for the picture. Because, you know, serious football players aren’t supposed to smile (or something like that). But he really couldn’t.

From Five Finger Discount to “No Fly Zone.”

Before the final JV game of the season, Aiden said that he didn’t think he was going to have the chance to play. In the Varsity that took place the night before the JV game, Center Grove fought tooth and nail against Cathedral and wound up winning in overtime. It was a high scoring affair, but it was close throughout the game. That meant little room for any JV players to play on Friday night, which meant they would get more playing time during Saturday’s JV game. And that meant less opportunity for Aiden to play.

He did get to play, though. And again, he made the most of the opportunity. He probably saved a touchdown in the process. The opposing quarterback threw a deep, deep ball to his receiver, but #5 was there to break up the play.


Aiden football highlights aidens-almost-interception-2 aidens-almost-interception-3 aidens-almost-interception-4

The crowd cheered. The team shouted. Some of his teammates called him “No Fly Zone.” Pretty cool stuff.

But here’s the thing: Aiden wasn’t happy about it. “I should have caught it,” he told me later. And he might be right. Although it looks like there could have been offensive pass interference on the play, he did have his hands on the ball. There’s a chance he could have caught it. But breaking up the pass the way he did? That was huge.

And he wasn’t satisfied with it.

You know, they say that football and other sports can make you a better student. After talking with Aiden about this play, I can see how that’s possible. He wasn’t happy with just a “good” play. He was kicking himself for missing the “great” play. It was only a matter of inches. That’s the difference between doing what’s “good enough” and what’s “excellent.” It can be the difference between getting an B+ and an A. And, of course, that can mean the difference between receiving a partial scholarship in college and earning a full-ride. So you shake off the past and keep working towards getting better.

Because sometimes it’s a matter of inches. That’s true in football. But it’s also true in life.

Hard work and dedication pay off. They don’t always result in accolades or recognition. Sometimes they don’t even result in a win. But you keep working. You keep trying. You keep pressing on and keep getting better. Sure, there will be difficulties. There will be obstacles. And there will probably be a failure or two (or more). But we keep going. That’s what makes a heart of a champion.

Regardless of what the scoreboard says.

What are you doing to become a champion today?

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Deals of the Week

Deals of the Week

In an effort to help you, the beloved Life in the Fishbowl community, I’ve decided to start sharing some of the great deals I’ve come across. Hopefully, this will be a valuable service for you as we head into the Christmas shopping season. Please note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.

Show your support for those who serve with NFL Salute to Service Fan Gear
From now until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, October 18, you can get $25 off an order of $50 or more when you checkout with your Visa card!

Fall Sale: 20% - 40% off almost everything

33% Off Select Sweats and Tees!

Tee Fury
Shop the Tee Fury Halloween Collection with 20% off! Use code 20Treat1016. One time use, customer must be logged in. Valid through 10/20

Have a great week, y’all!

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How did we get here?

This election is making me cry

Growing up, I was taught that your presidential preference was a private matter. It really isn’t anyone’s business who you voted for, so you should just keep that information to yourself. I get the concern. I really do. You don’t want anyone to bully you into voting for someone you don’t support. Announcing your political preferences could impact your employment. Even though that kind of stuff is supposed to be illegal, it could happen. And there’s always the chance of losing friends over politics. It’s stupid. I know. But it happens. A lot. So I’ve generally kept quiet during election season.

So I hope you understand how uncomfortable this makes me. Yes, I’ve hinted before at my displeasure with candidate choices – I even joked about running for governor earlier this year – but I don’t think I’ve ever come out and used this platform to discuss who I was voting for or against. That was too private. Besides, my choice might offend someone. And that’s the last thing I want to do. Being offended? It’s no fun. It’s also no fun doing the offending. So I’ve sat back and stayed quiet. I can’t stay quiet anymore.

This presidential election makes me weep.

There. I said it. I know some of you are ardently for Mr. Trump. Others of you proudly say “I’m with her.” Me? I listen to the mudslinging and the pettiness and the name-calling and the fear-mongering and the intellectual dishonesty and the patently false accusations and the intimidation and the mind numbing rhetoric coupled with refusal to listen to anyone from the other side from the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever (EVER!!) and I wonder,

“How on earth did we get here?”

I really don’t know. But it makes me weep. It makes me weep when I hear one candidate say whatever is necessary to get elected. And then I hear the other candidate say whatever it takes to get elected. It makes me cry when I see venom spewed online. It’s not just directed at the candidates, but it’s also at their supporters. Nobody’s listening to each other. Everyone is just trying to shout down the other side, screaming louder and louder, refusing to pay attention to anything.


And this is for the two most unpopular candidates ever?

What are we doing to each other?

I assume some of this has to do with the way we tie our political parties to our beliefs. Since there are only two major parties, American politics has become an “us vs. them.” You’re either for me and my party, or you’re against me and my party. I don’t see how anyone is supposed to get anything done at all with such a polarized attitude. And don’t point fingers when you read this. Both Republican and Democrat supporters are doing this.

So with this “if you’re not for my party, you’re against my party” type of attitude, the shouting begins. Then the mudslinging. And the vitriol. And the hatred. Then we forget that the “other” side is made up of Americans. They care about our country just as much as “we” do. So we build up these walls between the two parties, between “us” and “them” and  support anyone “our” side puts forth as a candidate. Because “my” candidate isn’t “their” candidate. And “my” candidate will win and make America greater (or great, depending on who’s saying what) again.

I had a teacher in high school tell us once that her father was a staunch Democrat. He was such a dedicated Democrat, that he would vote for any candidate the party would put forth. He said he’d even vote for the devil, as long as he had a (D) by his name.

I thought that was a little extreme when I heard it. But we’re not too far off from that now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Trump is the devil. I’m not saying Hillary is the antichrist. I highly doubt either one of them smells like sulfur.

I’d say these two are more like clowns, but clowns are already getting a bad rap right now.

And people are voting for them. Blindly. Because Hillary is not Donald and Donald is not Hillary. How messed up is that?

That’s entertainment?

And then there’s the debates. Don’t get me started on those. Are any of you actually listening to what they’re saying? Or are you just looking for “gotcha” moments you can turn into a meme? Do you really care about a proper discussion of ideas? Or are you simply looking for more reasons to justify why you’ve chosen the winning side? Are the debates merely entertainment now? That’s twisted. But if that’s the case, then pass the popcorn. It’s only the future of our republican democracy that hangs in the balance. So let’s focus on The Donald’s hair or Hillary’s cackle. Because those are the things that really matter.

I thought we were better than this.

I hoped we were better than this.

Are we better than this?

These presidential debates make me weep.

I didn’t even bother watching the second round of debates. And I still wept. All I had to do was look at my facebook news feed or my twitter timeline. Nobody was really listening to what the opponent was truly saying. They were just looking for reasons to prop up their own candidate. Or maybe they were watching simply for entertainment value.

So we have the two most unpopular presidential candidates in the history of the United States because we want to watch the debates turn into train wrecks? Because that’s what this election season has become. A train wreck. I wish we could hit a restart button. Or vote “none of the above.”

While I’m close to a decision about who to vote for, I’m not quite there yet. I can tell you this, though: I am not voting for Hillary Clinton. And I am not voting for Donald Trump.

No way.

Uh uh.

Not on your life.

Their candidacies make me weep. 

So voting for them would be…oh…what’s the word…?


What’s an upstanding citizen to do in a situation like this? I might have an answer. Then again, I might not. I’ll be sure to share whatever conclusion I come up with. Because I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this conundrum.

*You’re welcome to comment on this post. But you have to be nice. If you’re going to try to convince me to vote for a candidate, make sure you’re actually talking about reasons to vote for the candidate. “Trump isn’t Hillary” or “Hillary isn’t Trump” isn’t good enough. I will delete anything that comes close to name calling or trash talking. Or better yet, I might edit your comment and make it link to the *other* candidate’s site. Let’s keep this civil, friends. Got it?

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Sweetest Day is almost here!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.

Sweetest Day #SweetestDay

What? You’ve never heard of Sweetest Day?

That’s OK. I’d never heard of Sweetest Day until a friend of mine from Chicago mentioned it while we were at Milligan.  I wondered.


Yeah. It is. It’s a made up holiday. Its roots have something to do with candy makers wanting to “bring happiness to those who were forgotten,” like the poor, old folks, and orphans. Since the first Sweetest Day in the early 1920s, the day has evolved into a day to spread goodness and cheer to everyone – especially your significant other, and especially if you decide to give away sweets. Because that’s what makes it sweet, right?

So, it might be true that Sweetest Day really is nothing more than a made up holiday in a thinly-veiled attempt to get us to buy more chocolate on the third Saturday of October, even though we’re already stocking up for Halloween. It’s still a good opportunity to make sure that Special Someone knows you’re thinking about him or her. Right? I mean, who doesn’t like being told that they’re on someone’s mind?

Go Big or Go Home?

You could choose to go all-out and do something like plan a romantic getaway with Since Sweetest Day is always the third weekend in October, you might want to check out south central Indiana. It’s beautiful this time of year!

eCreamery $10 Off Banner AdOr there’s ice cream. There’s always ice cream. What’s sweeter than ice cream? That’s the perfect gift for Sweetest Day, do’t you think?

And what makes ice cream an even better treat for Sweetest Day? Personalized ice cream!

We like to say that there’s always room for ice cream, even if you’re full beyond full. That’s because ice cream oozes through the cracks. It’s proven.* Because science.

Of course, if you haven’t done it yet, you could always try your hand at writing a love note.

Or, there are a few other small gifts you could give for Sweetest Day. They’re simple. They’re corny. And they’re sweet. For Sweetest Day. Get it? And you can find many of these items at Dollar Tree (you can order them online with FREE In-Store Pickup. [Restrictions may apply]). So it’s a pretty good deal!


Sweetest Day gift

Who says you have to give food for Sweetest Day? You could give a pair of socks with a note attached that says something like “You knock my socks off!” They could be serious socks. They could be silly socks. It’s really up to you!

Corny? Yes. Absolutely. But wait. There’s more!


Donut you know I love you? #SweetestDay Sweetest Day

Or you could always surprise that Special Someone with donuts (or some other type of snack cake) with a silly note like “Donut you know I love you hole lot?” Or something like that.

It’s goofy. I know. You might even call it punny. But it’s a simple way to celebrate Sweetest Day, don’t you think?

I know there are other simple, punny Sweetest Day gifts you can give. Share your ideas in the comments below!

I hope you have a fun day, sharing sweetness with your friends and family!



*No. It isn’t proven. This is just a joke. But it sounds good. Doesn’t it? That’s why we use it as an excuse to eat ice cream.

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In the Limelight

It took me long enough. I was invited to participate in this project back in 2013. After dropping the ball and never getting back with my answers, I am pleased to finally be part of the ongoing “Dads in the Limelight” series hosted by Dad of Divas. I don’t really know why it took me three years to answer the questions. But it did. It was totally, 100%, completely my fault.

Hopefully it’s worth the wait. So why don’t you mosey on over there and check out what I have to say? While I don’t promise anything profound, you do get to look at some pretty fun pictures.


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Take The #40Pounds Challenge and change the world

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #40Pounds #CollectiveBias


School has been in session for almost two months now. I know. You don’t have to say it. Many of you didn’t start school until Labor Day. But in order to have longer Fall, Winter, and Spring breaks, something has to give. So that means a shorter Summer for us. For our three teenagers, that wasn’t exactly happy news. For our youngest? Well, she started counting down the days as soon as school was out in May.


Yes. She’s a goofball. And we love her.

So now we’re just a few days away from the end of the first Nine Week Grading Period. That means we’ve had plenty of time to work out all the kinks and become a fine-tuned, well-oiled machine when it comes to getting our three high schoolers out the door and on the bus by 6:30 in the morning. Right?

Well, not exactly.

I’m not going to lie. It’s still pretty stressful in the minutes leading up to the bus’s arrival. But there are still a few tricks we’ve learned along the way. I’m happy to share the wisdom we have gained over the last two months.  Continue reading

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Happy songs


A few days ago, the world was rocked with a stunning announcement. It was an earth-shaking surprise. OK, not really. It really wasn’t a new development. In fact, a similar announcement was made in September of last year.*

Apparently, researchers at Mizzou have decided to determine what the happiest song is from the last 50 years. And they can make such claims because used science to help determine the happiest song. So they analyzed all kinds of aspects of different songs, including rhythm, tempo, theme, and key. And so they took the answers were from a focus group, ran the numbers, and came to this conclusion:

Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen is the world’s happiest song in the last 50 years.

Because science.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love me some Freddie Mercury and Queen. A Night at the Opera is probably one of my most favorite albums. Whenever I hear Bohemian Rhapsody, I have to…well…you know…

But I’m sorry. I don’t think I can say that Don’t Stop Me Now is the happiest song in the world. I’m not even convinced it’s even the happiest Queen song. We are the Champions comes to mind. So does You’re My Best Friend. How can a song that includes “atom bomb” in its lyrics be considered the happiest anything?

I think science has failed us, y’all.

In light of this, I have decided to conduct my own search for the happiest song from the last 50 years. And I have a feeling my findings will be just as legitimate as the group of neuroscientists’ results.

Here are my candidates. In no particular order.

Good Vibrations
The Beach Boys

Don’t Worry Be Happy
Bobby McFerrin


Kool and the Gang

Pharrell Williams

The Village People

The Touch
Stan Bush

For the record, if you don’t understand why The Touch is a happy song, I don’t know if we can be friends.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
The Proclaimers

Walking on Sunshine
Katrina and The Waves

Top of the World
Van Halen

There you have it. My totally unscientific list of happiest songs in the world. So how should I pick the #1 song? I don’t know. Maybe I should just flip a coin.

I know this list is biased. It leans heavily on songs from the 80s and the 90s. I don’t think I have a problem with that, though. At least you smiled a little when you listened to some of these songs. Right? That’s kind of the point of a list like this.

I’m sure it’s missing a song or two. Which song(s) do you think should be added to the list?

*Strangely enough, I could not find a link to an announcement in 2016. Could it be that the internet is abuzz about “news” that was released a year ago? I promise I heard a local news station talking about it this week.

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Remembering Rich Mullins

"It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn't live." Rich Mullins

You might remember that I mentioned back in April that I announced to the entire Ichthus Christian Music Festival that Christy was not, in fact my girlfriend. Of course, we all know she really was my girlfriend by this point. We just hadn’t admitted it to each other. If you don’t remember that post, or have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, you can go to this post and catch up. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you. It won’t take that long to read.

That was also the last time I heard Rich Mullins perform. I did get to meet him about a year later, but I missed out on hearing him sing. If you don’t remember that story, you really should read it.  It’s OK. I promise I’ll wait for you.

There are a few things I remember about that concert, even though it was twenty years ago. I remember he was barefoot onstage. At least, I’m pretty sure he was barefoot onstage. I also remember he sang a song that he had written that Amy Grant had originally made famous. When he introduced it, he jokingly said that she had screwed it up. Or maybe he wasn’t joking? I guess you can decide for yourself.

I spent some time listening to Rich today. I’m not gonna lie. I wept when I heard some of his songs. In some ways, I think his music speaks to me today more than it did when i first heard him. A few musicians have taken up his mantle, but there will never be another Rich.

Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of the crash that took his life. I think it would be great to put together some kind of tribute to him, celebrating the impact he made on countless lives in the past as well as the present. I’m not sure what it will be, but I think it should include some form of audience participation. I don’t know. Maybe some kind of crowdsourced video or something?

We have a few months to think about it. I’m sure we can come up with something. Right? Who’s with me?


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A few Septembers to remember


September is a strange month for me. I’ve already talked about how September 11 is a mixture of laughter and sorrow in our house, thanks to our new family traditions. And, of course, there’s the anniversary of bringing Mihret home from Ethiopia. But there’s also a series of days in September that lead me to some self-reflection, contemplation, prayer, and even a little bit of dreaming. These anniversaries aren’t necessarily things I celebrate. They turned my world and my family’s world upside down. But I think they’re worth discussing,

September 1999

I did not attend Milligan with the intent of going into Youth Ministry. I don’t know what I really thought I was going to do with my Ministry degree, but youth ministry really wasn’t in my plan. Thanks to the recommendation of one of my professors, a church search committee approached me. Would I consider moving to Kentucky to take over the ministry programming from preschool thru college-aged students?

i’d recently graduated. I was a newlywed. And this position kind of fell into my lap. OK, it didn’t exactly fall into my lap. It wasn’t handed to me. I had to go through the interviews. We had to go through the process. But it was clear that doors were opening. So, although it was never part of my grand plan, I became a Youth Minister and moved our tiny little family of two to central Kentucky in early 1999.

It was clear from the beginning that I didn’t know what I was doing. Really. I can say that with almost two decades of analysis. I was ill-equipped. I can’t blame my alma mater for that. I just didn’t pay much attention to anything anyone said about youth ministry during my ministry-related classes because I was convinced I wasn’t going into youth ministry after college.

I was wrong. And it showed.

Christy tried to help me as much as she could. The staff tried to help me as much as they could. But in the end, there were too many unsaid, unmet, and unrealistic expectations. I had them. So did the Board. And so in early September, 1999, the Elders and I agreed that we should part ways.

This hurt in a lot of ways. This might be one of my biggest regrets. In retrospect, I believe things could have changed. Everything could have improved. And if I could go back and change things, I probably would. I was already emotionally exhausted just a few months into this ministry. So I left. And it hurt.

But I learned a lot from it. I was more confident than ever in my calling into some type of full time pastoral work. So I started addressing some organizational and administrative issues. I also talked to other youth ministers, attended some conferences, and had a better vision of what I thought a dynamic, impacting youth ministry would look like. And so I approached my next ministry position with a fresh outlook and renewed vigor.

September 2002

After everyone survived the Y2K non-disaster, I joined the ministry staff of a church in the Indianapolis area. With a great group of adult volunteers, some strong student leaders, and a passion to impact Indy, we made a difference. We went on a mission trip to serve a ministry reaching the Navajo nation. We began a student-led Sunday night worship service that was pretty fabulous. We hosted Christian concerts. We attended CIY’s summer conferences and Believe conferences. We had a written purpose and Vision. An abandoned firehouse was transformed into a student outreach center. Teens were getting baptized. Lives were being changed. I was turning down job opportunities at other churches. Things were clicking on all cylinders.

Then the wheels fell off.

Administrative issues kept rearing their ugly heads. Instead of addressing them head-on, I just pretended they didn’t exist. I wasn’t spending enough time with some of our students. Some parents were upset. That got other people upset. Including my immediate supervisor.

Bada-bing, Bada-boom…

I left the Student Ministry position in September, 2002. I felt betrayed, alone, and uncertain what to do next.

The Interim

I found myself questioning God quite a bit during this time. While I told my youth ministry kids, “Don’t give up on the church,” I have to admit that I was close to doing that myself. We tried attending churches nearby. We were always met by former members from my former employer. “What are you doing here?” they would ask, oblivious of the events that had recently transpired. It was a completely innocent question, but it cut like a knife.

Every. single. Sunday.

We eventually found a church in Fishers. It was a small church plant with big dreams. It was a place where we could get plugged in, but we could also start the healing process. It was like a soothing balm for our hurting souls.

Christy and I had two very young kids by this point. I did whatever I could to provide for them. I worked in warehouses. I managed a pizza joint. I was a substitute teacher. We moved in with my father in law for what was supposed to be just a month or two. Maybe three. It eventually turned into two years. I still attended conferences. I got some counseling. I learned some organizational tools that still help me today.

We knew this was just a season. But I’m not going to lie. It was hard. I had interview after interview. Christy and I wound up visiting all kinds of churches all over the place: from Iowa to Florida.


To make a long story short, we returned to Upper East Tennessee. I enrolled in seminary to solidify whatever cracks may have surfaced in my ministry foundation.

September 2011

After Christy earned her M.Ed degree at ETSU and I had completed three years of seminary, we started to sense that our season in Tennessee’s fair eastern mountains was coming to a close. In the Summer before what was going to be my final year in seminary, we loaded up a moving van, hugged some dear friends, and waved goodbye to Johnson City. I had accepted a preaching position in a small church south of Muncie, Indiana. It was a homecoming, of sorts. And because of a series of events that included some wide open doors and some doors that had been slammed shut, I was confident we were where God had led us. I think it’s safe to say, though, that I never really felt at home there.

Some great things happened during that ministry. There were some pretty high highlights. I baptized Aiden and Alyson there. But I’m not going to lie. It was a rocky time. Whenever I’d get together with other pastors from the area, someone would always wind up saying, “I can’t believe you’ve stuck around with them this long.” And this was without telling them anything that had been going on.

I’m not gong to lie. I questioned God. A lot. Why would God lead me somewhere like this? There were days when it felt like I couldn’t do anything to ever satisfy some people in the congregation. I felt like a punching bag sometimes.

But when you look at people like Jeremiah, Elijah, and even Moses, it’s important to remember that “calling” does not always equal “fun times.” Sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t really want to do. And since I was still sure that God had led us to East Central Indiana, I needed to stop complaining and keep doing my best to reach our community. But I quietly looked around for other opportunities.

I stuck around with them for four years before they decided they’d had enough of me. It was pretty apparent early on that I wasn’t going to retire there. I was never going to be seen as a “local.” I saw first hand how the stereotypes about small churches might be more true than we want to admit. And there was plenty of talk about people and their problems instead of talking to them. And very little was actually decided upon by those in leadership. People just kind of did what they wanted to do and claimed the leadership had agreed to it. And that worked because nobody really knew what they really did or didn’t agree to do.

It is no secret that I was not surprised when they fired me. But it still hurt. A lot. The sense of betrayal cut deep. I could go into details, but I won’t. Let’s just say that it took a long time for those wounds to heal. It honestly took a good teeth-kicking.

Moving on

Things have certainly changed over the years since we were pushed out of Eacst Central Indiana. Our family has grown. I’ve picked up marketing/PR skills and experience. I know who I am. And I know Whose I am. That’s where I find my satisfaction and worth. I don’t need a title or position to have meaning.  Although I do preach in some area churches on occasion, I’ve moved on.

I’ve moved on.

Do I question my calling? Nope. I believe God used me in each of those ministry situations. I also firmly believe that He is using me right here where I am now. And that isn’t in the pulpit.

Every once in a while, someone will ask me if I plan on returning to the pulpit full-time. I say that I’m not against it. But it will require a giant neon sign floating in the sky that refers to me by name with a very specific set of instructions.

And I’m only half joking.

After seeing the dark underbelly of, for lack of a better word, church “politics,” you might wonder what I think about church in general. I think it could be argued that I’m even more dedicated tot he ministry of the church throughout the world, I’m spite of my not-so-positive experiences. In reality, all of us are messed up. And when messed up people get together, they’re likely to make messed up decisions and mess up some things along the way. That’s the beauty of the mission of God. He uses messed up people with messed up lives to accomplish His plan.

Don’t believe me?

There are countless examples in the Bible. If you need for me to, I can spell them out for you. If I was still preaching regularly, it would make a great sermon series. Maybe I’ll just write a book instead.

Hey, that’s not a bad idea. I don’t think I need a neon sign for that one.

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Happy New Year! In September. Seriously.

Remember 9/11

September 11 is a strange day for our family. I have a friend whose son was born on September 11, 2001. They named him Isaac, which I think is the perfect name for a child born in the midst of a national event like that. I’d imagine they feel a certain amount of emotional conflict every day 9/11 rolls around. That’s how things roll in our house on 9/11. But it’s not because of a birthday. It’s because of something else.

“Never forget…”

I remember. I always will. Like so many people who watched those horrific events the morning of Tuesday, September 11, I swore I would never forget where I was, what I was doing, and how I felt that day.

And I haven’t.

We remember that day every year. And I have to admit, I still struggle with how I should respond to these terrible acts, especially when I think about how messy it is when you respond to hatred with love and compassion.

Happy New Year!

But today is not only about remembering. Thanks to our family’s connection with Ethiopia, 9/11 has also become a day of celebrating. You might remember during the A to Z Challenge, I mentioned how Ethiopia has their own calendar. And based on that calendar, today, September 11, is the beginning of the New Year.

So today, we remember. We reflect. And we contemplate. But we also celebrate, dream, and eat lots of Ethiopian food. We’ve been told that Doro Wat (spicy chicken stew with boiled eggs) is a traditional dish for the New Year. So we happily had some today.

Doro wat for Ethiopian New Year today! Melkam Addis Amet! #EthiopianNewYear #MelkamAddisAmet

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

So we look back. But we also look forward. And we’ll probably hug our kids a little tighter as we spend this day remembering, reflecting, and celebrating as we encounter the whole gauntlet of emotions on this sobering anniversary/day of anticipation, celebration, and renewal in the New Year.

But that’s kind of how life goes sometimes, isn’t it? It’s a mixture of excitement and heartache, overwhelming joy and the deepest of sorrows, it’s the celebration of life and the mourning of death. It’s the good times and the bad times all wrapped up into one package that is hardly ever topped with a nice little bow. The plot is full of twists and turns and event taking place on top of event taking place on top of event. It’s ecstasy followed by unspeakable sadness followed by unsurpassed joy.

Such is the roller coaster we call the human experience.

So it may seem strange that on a day like today, I wish you a happy new year. But in many ways, it makes complete sense. Doesn’t it? Because when you look ahead at a new year, you can’t help but dream. You can’t help but work towards a better future. So in the midst of the sorrow of remembering the events of 9/11, I’m also reminded that there is hope. So. much. hope. And in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Because we’re going to make tomorrow better than today. We’re going to change the world.

Melkam Addis Amet - Happy Ethiopian New Year

A banner that was hanging in the hotel when we visited Ethiopia in September, 2009. It says “Happy New Year,” in case you can’t read what it says.

So I hope you understand what I mean when I tell you that I remember. Oh, I remember. I will never forget. Ever. And in the same breath, I wish you a happy new year full of joy, happiness, and a better tomorrow.

Meklam Addis Amet, y’all!

From the bottom of my heart.


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