My New Year’s Resolution for 2016

Happy New Year

Well, 2015 has come and gone. And what a year it was! If you didn’t get a Christmas card with a letter included, don’t take it personal. We didn’t send any this year (again). Maybe next year?

So here’s a very brief look at some of our family highlights from 2015…

Aiden started his high school football career. Aly has taken her final year of middle school by the horns and is thriving as an 8th grader. Mihret was named her school’s Spotlight Student and was presented before the School Board.

Oh yeah, and Christy met our son for the first time.

Then five months later, I met him. And Weldu officially became a Todd.

Of course, there have been some bumps along the road. But 2015 was a pretty amazing journey.

My 2015 Best Nine
Thanks for the recap, 2015BestNine.com

As I look ahead to 2016, the year we should finally fill that empty seat at our table and have all SIX of us under one roof at the same time, it promises to be an exciting year. And I can’t wait.

I’ve never really been big on making New Year’s resolutions. I know a lot of people resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, get organized, spend less/save more, read the Bible regularly, or spend more time with family and friends. You know, the usual resolutions. Some have established SMART goals they want to achieve. They planned their work. Now they’re going to work their plans.

Those are great. If you have one of those resolutions, I hope you are able to keep it. I hope you can look back on December 31, 2016, and say “Yeah! I kicked that resolution in the teeth!”

Me? I don’t really have a resolution for 2016. Sure, there’s a lot I need to change. There’s a lot of me that needs fixing in the New Year. But I’m kind of taking a longer view on the changes that need to be made. This really isn’t a resolution for 2016. It’s more like a life goal. You could say it’s a New Year’s revolution.

I want to be known as a man of grace.

I don’t mean a guy who’s graceful on his feet like Fred Astaire.

Any hope for that kind of grace has been long-gone for a long time. Have you seen me try to dance? I’m no twinkle-toes. And I’m definitely no Fred Astaire. I’m much more like Matt Foley.

No. I’m not talking about my agility. I’m talking about having grace ooze out of every pore of my being. The way I see it, I can either be a man who is judgmental, trying to find the fault in every little thing. Or I can be a man full of grace, showering it on the world around me. I could be wrong about that. But if I have to be wrong, I’m going to choose to err on the side of grace. Because that’s what I’d hope people would do for me. Because, as the song says, grace wins. Every time.

When I come to the end of my days, and people gather together to put me in the ground, I want people to share stories about my compassion. I want the anecdotes people hear to be full of grace and forgiveness. There’s a lot of things I’d like to leave as a legacy for those closest to me. But at the top of the list, it’s grace.

I want to be known as a man of grace.

And I have such a long way to go before that happens. So I’m starting today.

What are your resolutions for 2016? What can I do to encourage you to keep that resolution?

My wisest decision in 2013

wisdom turn the page

I don’t really consider myself “wise.” Although I do have a lot of gray hair. And that’s supposed to be some kind of sign of wisdom – right? I’m not buying it.

While I don’t think I’ve made a lot of unwise decisions in 2013, there aren’t many that really stick out as decisions that were necessarily “wise,” either. Except one.

I turned the page.

I let it go.

I stopped nursing that grudge that I’d allowed to stick around somewhere in the back corners of my soul that no one really bothers to look at. I’d held onto it for the better part of two years. Didn’t even realize I was doing it most of the time. But now it’s gone because I’ve let it go. Of course, I had to get kicked in the teeth to realize what I needed to do.

So maybe I’m not so wise after all. But I’m definitely a whole lot more free now that I’m not carrying that burden around anymore.

This post is part of the #ThinkKit December post-a-day blog writing challenge by Smallbox. Today’s prompt: “What was the wisest decision you made this year?”

You interested in participating? There’s still time to join in!

Then God kicked me in the teeth

Face Kick

It’s not anything I ever plan, but September seems like it has turned into a month of reflection for me. Fresh off the heels of our anniversary and the celebration of Aiden’s birthday, I guess I’m already in a sentimental mood when September hits. For some reason, there are a lot of events that happened in September that have had a significant impact on the story of my life. Some of the events have been amazing, like the day we officially became a family of five.

Others?

Not so much.

And it’s my reflection on this last event that happened two years ago this weekend that forced me to look in the mirror. And I’m not sure I liked what I saw. I thought I had moved past this event. I thought I was not longer harboring any resentment or hard feelings. I might have been wrong about that.

You see, our church is kicking off a new small groups initiative. The main point? Circles are better than rows. I knew that saying. it was the main point of one of the final sermons I preached in Muncie. So while I was excited about this new direction our church is taking and I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that circles are better than rows, I found myself dwelling a bit on the events that led up to my firing. It stirred up some sediment in my soul that I thought had already been settled.

I don’t think this was by accident. Because it fully prepared me for the message I heard Sunday morning. It was almost as if the entire weekend was planned just for me:

Let it go.

And that’s when God kicked me in the teeth. That’s when God opened my eyes and made me realize that I was still nursing some kind of bitterness way down deep inside me. That’s when I knew that I hadn’t gotten past things that I thought I had gotten past. I thought I was fine. I thought I had moved past it. This past weekend showed me that there was still some part of my that was desperately trying to hold on to some part of a grudge.

surrender lettering tattoo

So I get it now, God.  I give up whatever rights I think I might have had to harbor those hard feelings that were buried deep in the depths of my heart. I might not think it’s fair. And that’s OK. Because forgiveness isn’t fair. I surrender. It’s time to turn the page and leave the past where it belongs – in the past. There’s too much living to do today to be dwelling on things in the past that I cannot change.

I’ve let it go.

And hopefully, I won’t pick it back up.

M is for Manning, Brennan (1934-2013)

A to Z Challenge 2013 M is for Manning, Brennan 1934-2013

I had originally planned on writing about Milligan Homecoming for my “M” entry. With this morning’s news of Brennan Manning’s passing, I find it altogether fitting to use “M” to remember how he changed my life by helping to completely rewrite my understanding of who the Father is and how He loves me. And my understanding of grace? Don’t get me started…

I’m not sure if there’s a contemporary author who has impacted me so deeply.

Thank you, Brennan.

Pat Robertson & Adoption, revisited

In my last post, I promised I’d share my reaction to Pat Robertson’s comments about adoption. I think one of the things that aggravated me so much about his statement was the fact that it came right on the heels of the message I delivered on Sunday at our church. The title of the sermon? What’s the Big Deal? about Adoption.

In the spirit of Matthew 18, however, I’ve decided to addressed the majority of my concerns to him directly. It’s all to easy to dog-pile on him because of the outlandish things he has said over time. So I wonder how effective it would be to continue to cry out against him in the public square without attempting to address it one-on-one, first. If you’re inclined to join me, you can find his contact information here.

If he responds, great. If not, then I’ll share the rest online.

In the meantime, however, I still believe there needs to be some damage control…

  • I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. Everyone should count the cost if they’re considering adoption. Like I said repeatedly in my sermon, not everyone is called to adopt. It’s extremely tough. And like brother Pat said, an adoption is for life (I’m not as offended by the dog pound reference as some other parents are because…well…some people have acted like that recently). As mentioned in the feature, his ministry does support orphanages in Haiti and runs a training facility in Armenia, among other places.
  • That being said, just because a child is broken doesn’t mean that child shouldn’t have a loving family. In fact, that’s even more of a reason for them to have forever families that will love them. But like I said, it’s not always easy.
  • If Aiden suffered brain damage in the womb, I would love him whole-heartedly. If Alyson experienced brain damage during birth, I would love her whole-heartedly. Why is it so hard for people to understand that an adopted child can be loved wholeheartedly – even if there’s brain damage or other special needs? As you might imagine, this one really touched a nerve with me.
  • Major props to Terry for handling the entire exchange with such grace.