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!"

I am part of the legacy of Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins "I hope that I would leave a legacy of joy, a legacy of real compassion"

I remember when I was given a copy of A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band for Christmas in 1993. I couldn’t wait to pop it into my cassette player. To be honest, I didn’t really know what a liturgy was. And I had no idea what a ragamuffin was. But I knew who Rich Mullins was. So I was pretty excited.

The album did not disappoint. The instruments were amazing. And the lyrics had a beauty and depth that was absent from so much music in the early 90s. I’ll readily admit that I didn’t exactly understand some of the songs like How to Grow Up Big and Strong at first. But entries like Hold Me Jesus, and Creed, and Land of My Sojourn – they spoke to me.

They still speak to me.

I mean, listen to these lyrics from Hold Me Jesus. Rich had a way of voicing what your heart was crying out.

I saw Rich Mullins in concert a few years later at the now-infamous “She’s not my girlfriend!” installment of the Ichthus Music Festival  of 1996. I don’t remember many details from the concert, other than a few “postcard memories”* He was barefoot. I remember being amazed at the sound that came out of his dulcimer as he played. He told engaging, sometimes funny, always poignant stories.** He sang Sing Your Praise to the Lord, which he wrote. It was originally made popular by Amy Grant, although Rich smirked and said that she had messed it up when she recorded it.

He sang the song because he had just made a new recording of the song for his greatest hits album called Songs. So, of course, he promoted this upcoming album while he was on stage at Ichthus. So this concert was a greatest hits concert. And that was pretty awesome.

Fast forward three months…

Continue reading I am part of the legacy of Rich Mullins

Then Andrew Peterson made me weep. Again.

Navigating our journey as newlyweds

During the fall of 1998, Christy and I were newlyweds on the campus of Milligan College. I was finishing up my final semester of classes and Christy was working at a local childcare center. We were young, in love, and broke (as opposed to being old[er], in love, and broke like we are now 😉 ). In many ways, this final semester of mine was like a minor diversion before we took off on our journey of life dancing in minefields together.

Wedding portrait

When we first arrived on campus, we were the celebrities. It’s one of the advantages of being part of a small college community. Professors went out of their way to come see us on move-in day. It was…nice. Actually, it was pretty cool. I’m not sure you’ll find that kind of “welcome back, newlyweds” reception on most college campuses around the nation. But Milligan is pretty special.

Of course, many of our college friends had graduated and moved away. School and work and figuring out how to do this thing called marriage together took a lot of energy. So we really didn’t spend much time hanging out with our friends who were still in the area. And with Married Student Apartments being on the edge of campus, it’s not like we were in the middle of the campus commotion.

Looking back, I feel like the colder months of that final semester, with the early nights and living on the edge of the  campus scene, it was kind of isolating. We didn’t really hang out with anyone else. Just each other. Don’t get me wrong. That was pretty awesome. But we were in a different life stage than the majority of the campus population. Even in classes, it felt like I didn’t really relate to any of the students anymore. It’s like I was just biding my time until it was time for us to move on. Continue reading Then Andrew Peterson made me weep. Again.

These songs have brought me comfort

Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx.com
Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx

I’m not going to lie. The last few months have been hard. Heartbreaking, really. I went through a similar experience while preaching south of Muncie. I think I wound up conducting something like four funerals over the span of three months. It takes its emotional toll.

Back in November, we lost David, his mother, and his daughter. My grandma died right before Christmas. And then Dr. Phil Gerhart, a man who impacted my life and the lives of so many others in ways I cannot even describe (but will try to at some point in the very near future), died. There are moments when I feel overwhelmed with wave after wave after wave of loss. It’s almost like I’m drowning.

And that hurts.

In these moments of hurt and loss and sadness, it is inevitable that a song pops into my head and I find my heart pouring out in worship. The songs that keep popping up in my head? They are songs I haven’t heard or sung in years.

The Old Rugged Cross

It is Well with my Soul

Are you familiar with Audrey Assad? You should be. There’s a haunting beauty in her voice. And her story as the daughter of a Syrian refugee is especially poignant today. I admit that this was not the version of this hymn that has been churning in my soul, but it could be. It could be…

How Great Thou Art*

The majority of the congregations where I’ve worshiped and served over the past 30 years have leaned toward the contemporary side of Sunday morning worship. I’ve sung countless worship songs during that time. Many are deeply moving and have strong connections to my own personal faith story. And songs from the likes of Andrew Peterson, Rich Mullins, and Steven Curtis Chapman are woven into my story, too.

It’s an interesting thing, however, that the songs that I have found my heart singing over and over again these past months are songs from my childhood. Don’t read too much into that if you’re looking for me to take some kind of stand in the decades-old “Worship Wars.” I just think it’s a fascinating thing that during times of sorrow and heartbreak, I have found myself turning to the classic hymns.

Of course, it’s not just the simple music of the hymns. It’s not the creativity of contemporary songs of worship. It’s the One to whom these songs point. That is where real comfort, hope, love, and strength is found.

I don’t really have anything profound to say about this. I just pray that you are able to find some comfort in these songs that I’ve shared. And I hope they impact you they way they have touched me throughout the years.

*Yes, I know this is sung by the BYU Singers. Yes, I know BYU is a Mormon school. No, I’m not getting into any theological discussions or debates about that. The history of the hymn is powerful. Challenging. Inspiring. I don’t care who is singing it. The message remains. 

The 2014 Matty Awards

The ballots have been cast. The votes have been tallied. They winners are about to be revealed.

That’s right, friends! It’s time for the annual release of the Matty Awards! I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat in anticipation of this year’s announcement. This is, after all, a highly coveted award. It’s right up there with The Old Man’s fragile Leg Lamp.

So here’s this years winners in all their glory. But before I announce them, please note that the links included are affiliate links. If you happen to buy any of these fine products, a small portion of the profits will go back to me. And that helps keep this blog up and running. Thank you for your continued support!

Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, I’m pleased to present the 2014 Matty Award recipients.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

2014 Matty Awards

Best Movie


Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I think the second Captain America is my favorite installment in the Marvel series so far. Of course, I haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet. Some say it’s even better than Winter Soldier. That’s a pretty tall order. I plan on finding out soon if this is a valid claim or not.

Best Album


Andrew Peterson, “After All These Years: A Collection

Andrew Peterson is no stranger to this award. In fact, his album, Behold the Lamb, won the award for Best Album in the inaugural appearance of this award (back when it was called the Ralphies).

This is not your typical “best of” or “greatest hits” album. There are some new songs mixed in with the old ones. And the old ones have been redone. It’s like Andrew Peterson is covering Andrew Peterson on this album (or something like that). While I love every song on this album, I’m especially fond of the second half.

Best Song

I think this category is going to be handed over to my kids. Permanently.

Here are their choices…

Aiden


Lecrae, “Nuthin”
from the album, Anomaly

Alyson


One Direction, “Girl Almighty”
from the album, Four

Mihret


“Let it Go”
from the Frozen soundtrack

I know. Mihret’s choice is a shock. Isn’t it?

A #Frozen #selfie with Olaf. #Christmas2014

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Best Book (nonfiction)


Creativity, Inc.
by Ed Catmul

Not only is this the story of the creation of Pixar and the resurrection of Disney Animation, but it also talks about how to be a creative organization. This is a must-read for any fan of Pixar, Disney, or Steve Jobs. It might even be a must-read for fans of Industrial Light and Magic. It’s also a must-read for anyone remotely concerned about leadership, management, creativity, teamwork, or storytelling.

The chapter about failure is worth the price of admission alone. It’s completely contrary to what I’ve experienced in the corporate world.

Best Book (fiction)


The Warden and the Wolf King
by Andrew Peterson

No, this hasn’t become the Andrew Peterson Awards Show or anything like that. I managed to read some good works fiction this year. The Warden and the Wolf King is the best work of fiction I’ve read in a long time. I laughed. I cheered. I cried. I couldn’t put the book down. It is a fitting end to the Wingfeather Saga.

Best TV Show

Still retired. I have one show that I’d like to name, but I don’t want to jinx it. It seems like every show that wins this award is canceled shortly afterward. So I’ll keep my choice to myself because I kind of like watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

oops.

Best Sports Moment

Aiden Todd, North Middle School

I didn’t write about this when it happened. And it was one of the few times I didn’t have the camera ready when Aiden was on the football field this season, but the best sports moment, by far, has to be the interception he got during one of his games. Hopefully it’s only the first of many in his career. Although I don’t have a video or a photo of his interception, here’s a little video I put together while playing around with flipagram.

 

Best Blog

DorkDaddy
Dork Daddy
I mean, the guy is raising his kids in the ways of the Geek. And he and his family dressed up like characters from The Princess Bride this Halloween. And he even took his kids to meet Wesley himself. That makes for an awesome dad. And an awesome blog.

I could probably also give the award to Indy with Kids and Geeking in Indiana, too. But they’d be repeat winners. And we’ve already had repeat winners this year. Besides, they’ll probably win next year, too. Because they’re pretty awesome people with some pretty cool blogs, too.

Now it’s your turn! What books, movies, etc. are on YOUR list for 2014?

My Ultimate Christmas Playlist: Matthew’s Begats

Andrew Peterson - Matthew's Begats from Behold the Lamb of God

I like to remind people that everyone has a story. And God wants to write your story. He wants to use your story to impact someone else’s story. When I was preaching full time, I would point to genealogies like the ones listed in Matthew and Luke as examples of how God can use your story as part of His giant story.

It’s great. It’s inspiring. I still agree with it 100%.

But those names. Holy cow, those names. Some are almost impossible to pronounce – even for someone who’s taken Hebrew. OK. It was for just a semester and I didn’t do very well, but you catch my meaning.

That’s why Andrew Peterson (yes, I said Andrew Peterson. He’s back.) is such a musical genius. He can take something that can be a little dizzying when you listen to it and turn it into a pretty catchy little tune.

My Ultimate Christmas Playlist: Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God

I know. This is the second song on this Christmas playlist from Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. And there’s going to be a third one later. I probably should’ve just included the whole album on this playlist. But I didn’t. Because I think it deserves three separate entries in the playlist. It’s just that good. And even though this is one of my favorite Christmas albums, I can say with confidence that it’s infinitely better live and in concert. So if Andrew’s ever bringing this musical masterpiece to a venue even remotely near you, you really should go. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson If you can’t wait until Behold the Lamb of God comes to your town, you could always go ahead and buy the album. It’s always a good thing to support the artists who are actually creating amazing works of art. Right? Please note that this link is an affiliate link. That means that when you click on the link and buy this album, I receive a very small financial reward. Kind of like a commission. The presence of this link has had no impact on what I have to say about the song. It really is a great song. And a great album.

My Ultimate Christmas Playlist: Labor of Love

Labor of Love

Andrew Peterson has an amazing way with words. In Labor of Love, which he wrote for Behold the Lamb of God, he beautifully takes the whole concept of a calm, serene, silent nativity and turns it upside down. Andrew Peterson reminds us that the birth of baby Jesus probably wasn’t as clean and calm as we like to depict in our pretty Nativity decorations.

There’s a whole lot more that I can say about this and how we view Jesus’ humanity. But that’s probably for a different post. For the time being, I’ll just let this song speak for itself.

This recording of Andrew Peterson’s Labor of Love is from Point of Grace. I think they do a fine job performing it. If, however, Andrew Peterson ever comes to your town with a performance of Behold the Lamb of God, drop everything and go. Trust me. It will be worth it.

#TwitterTuesday is back and better than ever!

 

Yeah, I know. It’s been a while. But I promise you that this #TwitterTuesday installment is well worth the wait. This installment covers a variety of topics – from Breaking Bad to college football to the Fall Festival.

Yeah. It’s on my….I mean….Aiden’s Christmas list, too. I must say, the wait to find out what happens to the Wingfeathers is almost unbearable. If I don’t find out soon, I might start acting like a Fang of Dang.

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who didn’t watch Breaking Bad.

Congratulations, Dr. Hoover! We’re proud of you!

Christy’s going to be quite happy about this new development.

Which will happen first? The Hoosiers going to a BCS title game or Alabama going to the Final Four?

I have something to say to Skip and those who think like him. A post should be coming shortly.

Woah. That’s heavy.

Love love love the Fall Festival! Love that Chuck Lofton loves the Fall Festival, too!

2011 Ralphies Are Here!!

Hollywood has the Oscars (and the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards and a number of other self-congratulatory trophies).

The music industry has the Grammys.

Broadway has the Tonys and the Gospel Music Association has the Doves.

None compare, however, to the honor bestowed every year at MattDanTodd.com. Well…almost every year…

The 2011 Ralphies!!

In case you don’t remember what the Ralphies are, or want to see the past winners, you can refresh your memory here. And you may be wondering why I keep naming the award after a professor that I’ve never met. Well…it’s become tradition. And some traditions are not meant to be broken.

Or something like that.

Anyway, enough of the delay. Let’s end the suspense and see who this year’s winners are. I’m sure you’re about to fall out of your seat in anticipation. So in order to save you from potentially breaking your collar bone when you slip off the edge of your seat and ultimately try to sue me for causing you personal bodily harm (good luck with that…you might be able to get the Dallas Clark jersey from off my back cuz that’s about all I have), I now present to you the winners of the 2011 Ralphies:

(drumroll please…)

Continue reading 2011 Ralphies Are Here!!

My Missed Opportunity with the Wingfeather Saga

Christy and I have been big fans of Andrew Peterson’s ever since we were invited to one of his concerts back in 1998. We have loved his music ever since. So when we realized that Aiden was old enough to really enjoy the Wingfeather Saga, I was excited because it gave me a good excuse to read the book myself after he had finished reading it. So we gave him Book One: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness  for Christmas this past year. He says it was the longest book he’d read at that point. And he completed it in about a month’s time, which was a pretty good pace, considering schoolwork started getting in the way.

If I was the kind of guy who thinks ahead with such things, I would have read the book before he did; not because I am concerned about any content, but because the boy can’t keep quiet about what happens in the story! If I could go back and do it over again, I would have read Book One before he did, then take him out to breakfast once or twice to talk about the story while he’s reading it. It would’ve been a good father-son bonding moment. Maybe we’ll do that with the third book. But first, I have to finish Book Two (North! Or be Eaten) because he’s chomping at the bit to talk about it. We’ve managed to sneak in a few conversations about it, talking in code and in hushed tones because Momma hasn’t read it yet.

“I can’t believe that…”

“I know! I thought ….”

“Yeah, that surprised me too. I thought….was going to happen!”

We did manage share an inside joke at the Nature Center during our vacation when I pointed at a bas relief carving of a cow and said, “Look, Aiden! They have toothy cows here!” His eyes grew wide and he shot me a grin of approval. Success!

So here’s my conundrum: I’d like for Aiden to be able to start reading the third book before going back to school. I’ve just begun reading North! Or be Eaten. That means I’ll have to create an accelerated reading program in order to make this happen. I’ll probably just have to bite the bullet and go ahead and give him Book Three. There’s always the fourth installment to carry out my grand plan that I would have thought of if I was the kind of guy who thinks ahead with such things.