Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

An A to Z Challenge apology. Kind of.

A to Z Challenge

Well….

might have bitten off more than I could chew by trying to conquer the A to Z Challenge this year. If you take a quick glance at my blog, you’ll see that my A to Z posts have kind of tapered off. You shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like I didn’t warn you.

I’m going to get it done. I promise. But it probably won’t be finished by the end of April. Part of me says I should say that I’m sorry. But I’m not. Sometimes things just happen.

am going to finish the Challenge. And I’ll back date them so they’re in the order they’re supposed to be in. It kind of makes sense to do that.

To those of you who have been able to stay on track, congratulations! I’m happy for you! This is a much tougher challenge than most people think. You should be proud of yourself.

 

S is for Soap on the Bottom of the Pan

1960s Boy Scout Handbook
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During my second year in Boy Scouts (or maybe it was my first year), our Troop hosted a competition. During one of our weekend campouts, we were challenged to “earn” the First Class rank based on the requirements from the 1960s. Each requirement was given a specific amount of points and each of us found a partner for the weekend’s competition. Jarod and I teamed up and instantly began preparing for the campout. We had a month to hone our skills for the contest. And we were determined to win. Since we were so young and inexperienced, we were at a definite disadvantage. We were going head-to-head against teams of Life Scouts and Eagle Scouts. Even with a weighted scoring system that leveled the playing field, the odds were not necessarily in our favor.

Since everyone was working in pairs instead of functioning in the standard Patrol system, the Troop didn’t have enough equipment for the campout. So we had to bring some of our own utensils, including pots and pans.

Since this was a campout based on the 1960s, that meant that we weren’t allowed to use the propane stoves that our Troop had. Each team was required to cook his own meal over an open flame. And we would be judged on how well we built our fire, prepared our food, and cooked our meal. We also had to eat what we cooked. That was a requirement to receive maximum points.

Properly cleaning and storing our equipment was also a requirement.

Jarod and I had an ambitious menu. We were going to wow the judges. We felt a higher degree of difficulty was necessary in order to take down the more experienced Scout teams. I don’t remember what we had for dinner, except potatoes. I know for a fact that we had pan-fried sliced potatoes.

While we were about to start cooking dinner, I walked away for some reason. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was getting firewood. Or maybe I was getting water. I really don’t remember. But I remember I was gone for a few minutes. Continue reading S is for Soap on the Bottom of the Pan

L is for Like My Page

You know how I said a few days ago that I’m working on building my email list and creating a new and improved newsletter so I’m not totally bound by the unpredictable whims of other platforms?

Well, that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on those other platforms. So why not mosey on over to my nifty little facebook page and give it a like?

Facebook Page

 

It won’t make you thinner. It won’t make your teeth whiter. It won’t cure your plantar fasciitis or your halitosis.

But hopefully it’ll make you smile. I’ll do my best to make you smile. And that’s worth something. Besides, only 10 or 20% of those who like the page will ever have a post of mine show up on their feed, anyway. So you really have nothing to lose.Right?

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

K is for ‘Koinonia’

K is for Koinonia #AtoZChallenge

Summer in the Son (aka SITS) at Kentucky Christian College (now known as Kentucky Christian University) was an annual tradition for our youth group while I was in high school. In fact, it looks like it’s still an annual tradition for them.

My experiences at SITS were highlights of my high school career. I guess you could call Summer in the Son an Ebenezer in my life. During my Freshman year, I was on the team that won the conference’s volleyball championship. Later on (possibly the year before my Junior year), I had the honor of standing up with one of my friends and watch him get baptized. I was introduced to the music of Rich Mullins, DC Talk, A-180 (later known as Audio Adrenaline), and Al Denson. There are some days where I think about songs like Be the One

and Beyond Belief

…and I have a little tear well up in the corner of my eye. It’s not because the videos are so hokey. Don’t get me wrong. They are pretty hokey. But the tears well up because the music takes me back to that Ebenezer. And I remember where God had brought me. And how far He’s brought me since those five amazing Summer experiences.

Summer in the Son was where I was challenged to shock the world with the Good News.

At the end of each night, our youth group would meet in an upper room in the Chapel. We’d sit in a big circle and share highlights and lowlights from the day. We’d laugh. We’d cry. We’d open up. Some people would share some pretty deep secrets. There was a lot of praying. There was a lot of hugging. And more crying. And more hugging. And more praying. And it would go on for hours. It was pretty intense. There were many nights where we’d be late for curfew. But that was OK. Because something BIG was happening. And God was moving in some powerful ways.

It was known as koinonia – “fellowship.”

There are very few moments since my SITS days that I’ve really, truly, experienced a deep connection with so many people on such a strong, personal level. I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit was working on us and through us during those intimate moments in the upper room.

I’m thankful for these moments in my past. I’m thankful for the adults who were there and prayed with us, prayed for us, listened to us, and supported us. I’m thankful for the other students who were there and for the bond we continue to share. I’m thankful for the grace that was showered upon us. I’m thankful for the unconditional love that we encountered each night. I’m thankful for the healing that began and the friendships that grew.

I’m thankful for the way God uses simple, no-frill meetings like our koinonia sessions and turns them into something that’s life-changing.

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

J is for Just Love Coffee

Here’s a friendly reminder that you can get a fabulous cup of coffee (or hot chocolate or mugs or apparel) delivered right to your doorstep. When you purchase from Just Love Coffee Roasters, you’re supporting fair trade around the world. Plus, you’re supporting our adoption efforts when you follow this link to make your purchase.

Just Love Coffee Roasters
Image via The Cultureist

If you’re gonna buy coffee anyway, why not help others in the process? Am I right?

If you hurry, there’s a special roast just in time for Mother’s Day. Who can pass up the I Love Mom Coffee Roast?

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

I is for Injera

I is for Injera #AtoZChallenge
This image of injera was edited by my daughter. She did a great job, didn’t she?

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with injera. OK. “Hate” is too strong of a word. But there are times where I’m really not a fan.

What’s injera, you ask? I’m glad you did!

Aly eating Ethiopian food with injera
That’s Aly trying injera back in 2009.

Injera is the spongy, sourdough-type bread that’s a staple in Ethiopian cuisine. It’s thinner than a pancake and thicker than a crepe. It’s part of the meal. It’s also the meal’s plate. And it’s your utensil.

You read that right. No spoons. No forks. You simply tear off some injera and scoop up some of the stew or veggies or lentils or whatever you’re eating. It’s messy. And kind of fun.

I love injera because of its deep ties to Ethiopia. I love injera because it reminds me of Mihret’s first home. And now it also reminds me of “W’s” current home. It’s a beautiful thing.

There are times, however, when I’m not really a fan. Sometimes it’s too sour. And I definitely don’t like injera by itself. Fortunately, it’s not supposed to be eaten by itself. And when you tear off a chunk and grab a handful of doro wat or doro alicha or cabbage, carrots, and potatoes?

Oh man.

I don’t think it gets any better than that. Somehow, the sourness of the injera just works with the rest of the food. It’s an amazing experience.

And I can’t wait to have some more.

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

H is for Heroes!

H is for Heroes - A to Z Challenge

Oh man.

The Age of Ultron is almost here.

I’m a sucker for hero movies. So I can’t wait for the second installment of Avengers! It promises to be a great way to kick off Summer!

How about you? What movies are you looking forward to this Summer?

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

G is for Getting Organized

G is for Getting Organized - A to Z Challenge

All my life, keeping things organized has been an issue for me. It started in elementary school and got worse throughout my academic career. Let’s not talk about my pitiful excuse of a science fair experiment that I tried to throw together over night in middle school. Or the semester-long research paper that I scrambled to research and write the weekend before it was due my Junior year of high school. And that poetry project I pulled an all-nighter to create during my Freshman year of college? Although the final product was pretty good, I’m convinced it could’ve been better. It certainly wasn’t my best effort. I’d run out of time. Because I wasn’t organized.

“Get organized.” That’s something I was told quite a bit during high school and college. I was even told that by my immediate supervisor in my first experience in full-time ministry – the one that only lasted for 9 months. Part of the reason I didn’t last that long was because of my poor organizational skills. People just kept telling me to “get organized,” though. And I was never really given any tools to discover how to get organized.

I knew I needed to get organized. I just didn’t know where to start. So I’d write “Get Organized” as an item on my to-do list. Like that was going to help. Are you surprised that I never checked the box on that line of my lists?  I didn’t really know any better. I have the feeling that a lot of people feel that way. They know they need to improve the way they have things organized, but they just can’t figure out how. They don’t even know where to begin.

I’m not the most organized person in the world. Just ask Christy. But I’m better than I used to be. I’ve read books. I’ve checked out articles on the Internet. I’ve watched news segments about organization. None of that really helped. The best thing I did was about ten years ago. I got help. I was able to talk to someone and she helped me figure out how to take tasks that were overwhelming and break them down into manageable things. She helped me realize that I need to create patterns in my own life so I can maintain some level of control when things get all crazy and seemingly unmanageable.

At the time, I was also learning about management at a pizza place. The best thing I’ve taken away from that experience was this little nugget: Don’t wait until later. If you think of something that needs to be done, go ahead and do it. Don’t wait until later because you’re assuming you’ll have time later in the day. You don’t know what is going to happen later in the day. So don’t put off until later what you can do right now. This is true in most things, not just the pizza making business. If something needs to be done, get it done. Don’t procrastinate.

Both of these mentors in my life helped me realize this key thing when it comes to getting organized:

Getting organized is a process, not an event.

You can’t just wake up one day and say “I’m organized.” It’s not an item you can just check off your list and everything is magically organized for the rest of your life. It’s an ongoing process. At least, it’s an ongoing process for people like me. I have a feeling it’s an ongoing process for you, too.

Here are some things that have helped me get a handle on the organization process. Now I don’t have to just write “Get organized” on my to-do list and hope things magically get better:

  • I use alarms like crazy. If I want to remember to do something, I have to set an alarm. That makes my phone buzz a lot (I usually use silent alarms), but it’s totally worth it.
  • I hinted at it a week or so ago, but I’m a big fan of Evernote. I used to use it all the time when preparing for sermons. Now I use it to help keep me on task. I know I’m only scratching the surface of its functionality the way I use it. Michael Hyatt has taught me quite a bit about great ways to use Evernote. I’m still learning.
  • I’ve used Trello for projects. It’s a nice visual taskmaster.
  • Even with all of the bells and whistles on my phone, I still use a physical calendar to chart out my “editorial calendar” for my blog. Have I followed it to a ‘T’ this year? Nope. I think I was a bit too ambitious. But it’s definitely helped to keep me on track.
  • I try not to procrastinate because I know it gets me into trouble. Still working on that one. A lot. And I’m trying to encourage my kids to avoid getting into that habit because it’s a hard habit to break.

I’m no organization expert. Like I said, just ask Christy. But I’ve gotten better. Seminary kind of helped force me to get a handle on things. But I’m still not great. But that’s OK. It’s a process, not just an event. This leads me to ask:

What do you do to stay organized? What lessons have you learned? What tips can you share?

I want to keep learning. I need to keep learning and keep getting better. And the only way I can do that is by learning from other people. So…what tips do you have?

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

F is for Final Four Fan Fest

 

F is for Final Four Fan Fest

“Basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport.”James Naismith

Rumor has it that Indianapolis received some rave reviews about this year’s Final Four. And why not? Basketball rules the roost in Indiana. And Men’s Final Four weekend is a great celebration of all things basketball. Combining the two? Well, it just makes sense. Kind of like peanut butter and jelly. It’s the perfect combination.

So we spent Sunday afternoon/evening in Indy. It was not your typical Easter Sunday for us, but at least we managed to have some ham sandwiches on the way to the festivities.

#FinalFour #Indy

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We joined 3,500 other kids in a giant basketball parade, dribbling through the streets of downtown Indy. There were a few organizational speedbumps in getting the whole thing started, but that’s probably to be expected. Once we were on the road, there was nothing to stop us.

Waiting to get our dribble on. #FinalFour #FanFest #Indy

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Mihret has mad ball handling skills #FinalFour #Indy

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We also got to play around in the Fan Experience inside the Convention Center. Then we got to ride a Ferris Wheel and hear some live music. For the whole day, we spent a grand total of five bucks. And that was to park. I’m not sure you can beat that deal!

Dunk King #FinalFour #Indy #FanFest

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Final Four Fan Fest

Final Four Fan Fest

Final Four Fan Fest

 

Lady Antebellum. Can you tell? #FinalFour #JamFest #Indy

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It was a great day full of fun, family, and music. And walking. Lots of walking.

Not a bad way to spend your Sunday afternoon, though. We can’t wait for the Final Four to return in five years!

All Star dribblers. #FinalFour #Indy #dribble

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E is for Electric Youth

I originally wanted to write about Evansville for my “E” entry. But then I wrote about the University of Evansville for “C is for Championship.”

It would also behoove me to say that “E” is for Ethiopia. But I said that two years ago. And I’d rather not repeat myself in such a challenge. OK, I am going to repeat myself in a post later this month. But I already told you I was going to do that during the last A to Z Challenge.

So that leaves me needing a new topic for the letter “E”. I think I know exactly what to say. And my wife is going to love it.

E is for Electric Youth #AtoZChallenge

This one’s for you, Christy. Love ya.

Go ahead. You know you want to dance. You can’t fight it. Because it’s the next generation, which is part of the future that only belongs to itself. And it’s electric.