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!"

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 ūüėČ ). 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.

Finishing sentences

A few days ago, I asked this question on the Life in the Fishbowl facebook page:

“Pick a number between 1 and 449.”

I know. I know. An odd request. But here’s the results – 303, 52, 225, 322, 352, and pi. I know. I know. Everyone’s a comedian.

And now you’re asking, “So what?”

I know. I would be, too. In fact, I probably would’ve stopped reading this post by now because it really isn’t making any sense. Fortunately, I’m going to change that right about…now.

The method to my madness

Back when I was doing youth ministry full-time, one of my favorite games to play was “Would you rather…” Someone would pick a number and I’d read the number’s corresponding question. Stuff like, “Would you rather fly or read minds?” People who would rather fly would go to the left side of the room and people who would rather read minds would gather in the right side of the room. It was a great way to learn how other people in our ministry thought. What was important to them? What made their minds tick? It also opened the door to some more important questions later down the road.

I also had a list of unfinished sentences. I used it on occasion, but not nearly as often. I probably should’ve used it as my go-to tool because there’s a lot of potential in those questions.

Sentences

I rediscovered the unfinished sentences and thought it would be an interesting exercise for this blog. Each week for the next several weeks, I’m going to finish one of the unfinished sentences that everyone picked when they chose their numbers.

You’re invited

This could be a fun writing exercise and should help force me to stretch a little out of my comfort zone. But it doesn’t have to be limited to me. You’re invited to join in the process. Each Monday, I’ll post the unfinished sentence for the week. If the unfinished sentence inspires you to write something, I’d love to share it. Feel free to send it to me and I’ll publish it here. I’m also going to encourage my family to write their thoughts, too.

I’m looking forward to doing this and I hope you are too. This could be pretty fun.

And just to make life easier for you, here’s the list of unfinished sentences that were chosen. That way, if you read one that sparks your interest, you have time to write it ahead of time.

The Schedule

  • June 30 “It’s difficult for me to have disciplined, consistent time with God because…” (#303)
  • July 7 “Next year looks better to me because…” (#52)
  • July 14 “If I could change one thing about the way I was raised, it would be…” (#225)
  • July 21 “The roadblocks that keep me from having greater faith in God are…” (#322)
  • July 28 “My friends pressure me to…” (#352)
  • August 4 “When I need to go somewhere to think, I will most often…”
    – or –
    “The one think I could do this week to strengthen the spiritual foundation of my life is…” (#3 or #314 – aka pi)

Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Update (July 16, 2014)

Did I mention that those dates weren’t set in stone? I’m going to follow the sequence of questions, but don’t expect one every Monday. That original schedule might have been a bit ambitious for the middle of the summer with all of the family activities that have been happening.

Be Awesome Today!!

I have found myself watching this pep talk over and over again. I especially needed it today. It’s been already been a rough day and it isn’t even 9 a.m.!

I’ll be honest: I should probably watch this every morning. And twice on Monday. How about you?

It’s time to do something.

Create something that will make the world awesome

So I ask you…right here, right now….what will be¬†your¬†Space Jam?

Do it.

Today.

Because you’re awesome.

And together we’ll make the world more awesomer.

Listening to Einstein?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination embraces the entire world." - Albert Einstein
How much am I encouraging imagination in my kids? How much am I strengthening my own creativity and imagination muscles? All the knowledge in the world doesn’t do any good if ¬†you don’t have the imagination and creativity to do something with that knowledge. Einstein’s right. Knowledge has its limits. Imagination and creativity are¬†unbound!

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that doesn’t really value imagination. Yeah, there’s glimpses of it here and there. But even the things we call “creative” really display a lack of imagination. We’ve become lazy, willing to re-hash what has already been created because it “works” instead of taking the risk to imagine new territory.

It was imagination that led to some great discoveries and inventions. It was imagination that has pushed us to explore. And I don’t really see that being encouraged today. Instead of creativity, I see recycled ideas. Instead of pushing to the edge, I see satisfaction with the status quo. Instead of exploring other worlds, we’re settling for hitching rides on other countries’ rockets. Instead of stretching ourselves to find ways to be the Light in a dying world, the momentum pushes us to keep things the way they’ve always been.

Has imagination died? I don’t think so. But if we’re not careful, we’re going to have our God-given creativity sucked out of us like the flourescent lights in¬†Joe vs. the Volcano*. I don’t want that. I don’t think you want that either.

So what are we going to do about it?

The above photo was taken at
the Air Zoo of Kalamazoo

*The language in this clip does include a few instances of words that are not kid-appropriate. You’ve been warned.

I’ve been sucked in

Over the last few years, I’ve really gotten into the Rocky movies. I’ll admit that the last few, especially IV and V were pretty hokey. But there’s something about the series that resonates with me. Watching them doesn’t inspire me like the creativity displayed in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there’s still something about the story that just sucks me in.

So, when I saw this trailer, my heartbeat increased just a little. I’m probably going to go see it. There’s just something about Rocky…

Christmas Concert

Christy is a “street rep” for Andrew Peterson. She helps promote his albums and concerts in Johnson City. In appreciation of her hard work, she gets free Andrew Peterson stuff – CDs, tickets, and the like.

So, Andrew Peterson was in Johnson City last night and we got to go. He had a group of musicians with him and they performed a Christmas show called Behold the Lamb of God.

The first half of the show is the artists singing some of their stuff. Most of it was really good. I had never heard of Jill Phillips, but now I want all of her recordings! She has a phenominal voice.

Then there was this song about a fellow musician who lost a toe in a lawn mowing accident. The song was about the Little Piggy who Ate Roast Beef, and how he became freed from his brothers. It was, perhaps, the funniest song I’ve ever heard. What was even funnier was watching the guy who lost his toe laugh at the song. I think if he had shown some type of bitterness towards it, the song would not have been nearly as good.

The second half was the actual Christmas show. All I can say is, “WOW!” There are some times where I see a piece that is so well done that it inspires me to create something. Those moments are few and far between. I remember leaving the theater after watching Return of the King inspired to create. The same was true after watching The Rock and the Rabbi for the first time.

During this winter break, I had set a goal to return to writing my marching band novel. After last night’s concert, I’m beginning to reconsider. I might pick back up on the musical I have envisioned about the blind man and Jesus. We’ll see.

To make the night even more impressive, we got to meet Andrew. He autographed the CD we purchased for us. He signed it to Aiden and Alyson.