So what shall I do with @Just_Matt_?

No straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends; There's no clear-cut beginnings; And so far no dead-ends. Harry Chapin, All My Life's a Circle

One year ago today, I received an email from the HR Director, asking if I wouldn’t mind stopping by her office for a little “chat.” I knew what that meant. It was early Tuesday morning and very few people had arrived in the office yet. I knew exactly what that meant.

Less than an hour later, I was walking out to my car to get a box so I could gather up my belongings. It wasn’t a surprise, really. It had happened to a lot of people in recent weeks. In fact, I was starting to see a bit of a pattern. But it still left me a little disoriented.

I had just been fired.

I can say all I want about how this was a blessing in disguise and that I’m better off now than I was then. Those statements are true. And I probably said those exact things to people that day. Because I believed them. But this was still a rather significant change in direction for our family. And can I just say that this couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time?

A week before this event, we moved into a new rental.

A week before that, we had purchased a new (to us) van.

Two days after I was fired, Christy’s teaching job lost funding.

The day after that was the one-year anniversary of Dave’s passing.

Emotionally? I don’t know if there could’ve been a worse time for this to happen. There was all this excitement about new things like the adoption and the van. That excitement was mixed with sorrow and uncertainty as we didn’t exactly know where this road was going to take us. It’s kind of tough to know what’s happening next when both family members lose their jobs in the same week.

Of course, there never really is a good time to get canned. Is there?

Anyway, I promise I’m in a better place. Of course, I miss some of my former teammates. But I really do love my new jobs. And pretty much everything about my life is in a better place. A much better place.  So I’m not really carrying any emotional baggage like I did back when we moved to Greenwood.

Back when I was guest-posting and doing other digital promotion for my former employer, I had created a second twitter account. Y’all already know about @mattdantodd. Right? And y’all are already following me. Right? If you aren’t, you can go ahead and click on over there and do that. I’ll wait.

I promise. I’m waiting.

Done?

Good.

You might have known about @mattdantodd. But I’ll bet you didn’t know about @Just_Matt_. Well, now you do. And I’m looking for some input about what to do with this account. You see, @Just_Matt_ has kind of lost his way. I’d love to help him find his way back on track. There’s no need for him to end at a dead end. Is there?

So on this, the one year anniversary of my life taking an unexpected turn, I’d like to know what you think I should do with @Just_Matt_. Should I primarily promote this blog through him? I kind of do that already through my main twitter account. I’m really not sure what to do with him at the moment. But I’m open to suggestions. Actually, this is me begging for suggestions.

What should I do with this twitter account?

I could try to bribe you by saying the winning suggestion will get some awesome prize. But I really don’t have an awesome prize to give away. All of our extra money is tied up in adoption expenses right now. Remember?

I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Oh, and that quote at the top of this post? Here’s the rest of the song. I think it’s kind of fitting for today. Don’t you?

#TwitterTuesday :: Adoption and sports and ice cream and suffering and all things in between

There aren’t many favorite tweets from the last week. It could be argued, however, that some of these tweets are worth a thousand words. Or more. I’ll let you decide.


This photo took my breath away. And gave me goose-bumps. Love everything about this. If you haven’t seen this yet, drop everything and do it now. I warn you, though. It might make you cry.


I know a lot of people who are hurting right now for a whole lot of different reasons. This tweet was perfectly timed.


Remember how we discussed whether or not you should rush the field of play? Just a friendly reminder to make sure the game is over before you do so.


What’s Summer without a creepy ice cream man?

The sun continues to rise

Sunset from Base Camp at Philmont photo SunriseatPhilmont_zpsbc936663.jpgI took this picture in July of 1994. It isn’t that great of a picture, but it’s one of the most special and most memorable pictures I have taken from any of my five treks at Philmont Scout Ranch.

I had just completed my final trek at Philmont. I thought this would be my last hurrah* at Philmont. Kevin and I had the amazing opportunity to hike down Time Ridge from the Tooth of Time together in a very cool moment of brotherly bonding. I was going to be heading away to college in a month and I knew that shared experiences like these were going to become few and far between. So I cherished that moment as much as a fresh-out-of-high-school kid could cherish.

Shortly after coming off the trail, our crew received all our mail that had been sent to us while we were in the backcountry. Kevin and I received an envelope that had been sent overnight to us, which seemed rather odd. No one had ever sent us an overnight package while we were at Philmont. It was a little too unpredictable (and expensive) to try to send something like that. So we opened the envelope, which contained a note from Dad: Grandmama was in the hospital.

We didn’t really have much time to dwell on this news because of all of the debriefing events that had to take place before we could head home. We knew we’d be calling home later that evening. It was Mom’s birthday and we had a plan.

After the Closing Ceremony, we grabbed as many people as we could and had them huddle around a payphone. As soon as mom picked up the phone, she was serenaded by a motley group of 15+ teenage boys singing “Happy birthday, dear Mom!” to her over the phone. As soon as the song was over, some of the adults from our crew led the impromptu Boy Band away as we continued our conversation with Mom and Dad.

“How’s Grandmama?” I asked, fully expecting to hear that she had already gone home.

I don’t remember what Dad said or how he said it because all I remember was knowing without him even finishing the first word that Grandmama had died earlier in the day – probably while Kevin and I were hiking down Trail Ridge together.

As I turned to try to tell Kevin what I had just heard, words totally escaped me. I hoped he could somehow read my mind because I could not find a way to make myself say the words, “Grandmama died.”

Then I felt it. It was caring and comforting and strong. It was a hand on my shoulder. Mr. G had stayed with us and was there for us. He had found out beforehand and was there to comfort us as we found out this heartbreaking news some one thousand miles away from home. I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through that phone call without him being there for us.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I got up early and walked around through Base Camp. I remember seeing the vast sea of stars high above me and feeling extremely alone and sad. Then the sun began to rise. And I realized that even though things were dark and heartbreaking for me, there was still a glimmer of hope. The sun does still rise. The day does come. And the darkness is pushed away.

So I took this picture to remind me of that moment – to remind me that light is stronger than dark, even when I hurt deep deep down in my soul. When everything is falling apart and you’re completely isolated and alone….there’s still hope. Light still wins.

I thought of this picture yesterday as I was standing in a room with my colleagues, learning that our company was going through another reduction in force. This announcement was probably more difficult to hear than the one 10 months ago because I soon realized that many of the people I worked with very closely had become casualties of this “right-sizing.” And then I felt it again. It was the strangest thing. I felt this hand on my shoulder, much like I felt when Mr. G was putting his hand on my shoulder and telling me it was going to be OK. Of course, his hand wasn’t on my shoulder.

No one’s hand was on my shoulder.

But I felt it. And I wanted to go around the room and put my hand on everyone’s shoulder, telling them that things were going to be OK. We were going to get through this disappointing news. I wanted to find my colleagues who had just been let go, put my hand on their collective shoulders, and be there for them.

As I left the office after the announcement that day, I had decided that I was going to find this picture and post it with this story as an attempt to encourage my friends who lost their jobs that there is light at the end of this darkness and that I have confidence that all of them are going to go on to do some pretty amazing things in their careers. I have no doubt about that.

Then it became clear that Christy’s dad was not going to live very much longer. And I realized that this picture that I had been thinking of for the last 36 hours was really for me and my family.

There is light at the end of this darkness. There is hope at the end of this heartache. Life will continue to go on, even as we walk through the valley of death’s shadow.

Even in the midst of this devastating series of events, it behooves us to live, and live to the fullest.

*It turned out that this event was not my last hurrah at Philmont. I returned the next two Summers as a staff member. 

Thankful Thursday (#TGIR)

A Generous Surprise

Chick-fil-a Sandwich!

Having a four-day work week definitely has its advantages. My weekly commute time is shorter and my gas cost is significantly less. I get a three-day weekend every week. Except this weekend, of course (three cheers for four-day weekends!). Sitting in front of a computer for ten hours a day, however, is not exactly anyone’s idea of fun – even when you’re getting paid to be on the World Wide Interwebs. Sometimes you have to take a break and get away for a few minutes.

That happened to me today. I had to get out. A colleague of mine joined me on my little drive and we wound up at Chick-fil-a, which isn’t too far from the office (yet another reason my place of employment is pretty amazing. I mean…you already know my love for Chick-fil-a). As we walked in, my colleague turned to me and said “I’m buying.”

An unexpected free lunch coupled with some good conversation about work, life, and matters of faith turned was a great change of pace and a very generous surprise. It’s definitely something to be thankful for.

What about you? What are you thankful for this Thankful Thursday?