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!"

A Letter to my Nephew

Dear Jaron,

It’s amazing how one tiny life that left us far too soon could have such a profound impact on my life today. In the midst of that terrible heartbreak and the darkness of the valley while in the shadow of death, we experienced the light of God’s love and peace and hope shine through a tiny baby boy and his parents that night. In the midst of our heartache, I believe we caught a tiny glimpse of heaven as you opened you eyes in the arms of Jesus.

Happy birthday, Jaron. We love you. We miss you. I know you would have been so excited to be a great Big Brother to your brother and sister. I imagine you would have been dancing around the airport when we brought Mihret home.

And I know you’ll be dancing around in Heaven when we finally come Home and see Jesus with you face to face. We only held you for a time that was all too brief. But our hearts will never let go. We will never, ever forget you.

Love,
Uncle Matt
(Your favorite uncle. I don’t care what anyone else says)

Happy Birthday, Jaron

My nephew would have turned 4 today.

I miss him. I wish he could be here when we bring Little Girl home later this year. I wish I could hold him in my arms again and tell him happy birthday. Someday I will be able to. Because I know that the grave is not the end. And there is a time and place where I will see his face again.

Until that time, I will join the rest of my family in grieving with hope.

Groundhog Day: My Nephew

Part 5 in the Groundhog Day Series where I try to answer the question: If you were forced to re-live a single day for the rest of your life, what day would you pick?

Answer #5: June 8, 2005

June 8, 2005 changed my life forever.

June 8, 2005 was one of the most painful days of my life.

There’s so much I could say about that day, but in the end, I think it’s best to just say that even with all of the heartache and pain, I’d gladly choose to re-live that day…just to be able to hold my nephew for a few more minutes…just to show him (and his mom and dad) how much he was loved…how much he is still loved.

Of course, re-living that day over and over would mean that I wouldn’t have sung Happy Birthday to Caedmon last night. And wouldn’t have heard him say “Do it again!” after we sang it.

Of course, there’s a lesson here about living in the past, but I’ll save that for one final ‘Groundhog Day’ post.

In the meantime, I think I’ll sit back and cherish the small amount of time that Jaron was with us.

The eternal God is our refuge. And underneath us are His everlasting arms.
~ Deuteronomy 33:27

Birthday

Two years ago, my life was changed forever.  I never would have thought that such a short life could make such a long-lasting impact.

Happy birthday, Jaron.

I love you.  I miss you. 

Love,
Uncle Matt

Pray for Trenton

Matt and Shannon were one of the couples who were at the hospital the night Jaron was born. Now, liztodd and kmtodd23 have a chance to be there for them.

Their new baby, Trenton, will undergo a heart procedure sometime this week. If it were at any hospital other than Riley, I guess Trenton would have been a candidate for a heart transplant.

Please pray for Trenton. Pray for the doctors. Pray for Matt and Shannon.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while in school, it’s that God is much bigger than we realize and can even comprehend. I know He will somehow use this to His glory, even though it’s tough right now to see how He will actually do that!

Chapel part II

There are very few songs that make me cry. In fact, I think there are only two. I don’t always cry when I’m singing them, but it is not unheard of for a tear or two to fall during these songs:

Blessed be Your Name
This song carried a lot of meaning before this Summer. It always used to make me think of my friend Greg, who died suddenly last year.

Then, we sang it at Jaron’s dedication and funeral services. Now, I can’t sing the song during a worship service without weeping. It’s not that I don’t believe the words – I do with all my heart. There’s just so much more power to those words now.

Give Thanks
I had forgotten about this song until we sang it in Chapel today. It’s old-school contemporary, if that makes any sense. I remember singing the song in church (back when it was Cullen Avenue – not Crossroads, like it is today) a lot right after my Grandpa died (over 15 years ago!) of a massive heart attack. Needless to say, it was unexpected. I remember thinking, How can I give thanks when something so terrible has happened to me? Can I honestly say that I am rich and strong because of what the Lord has done for me? I don’t think so. Of course, I know now that I can sing those words with conviction, but that’s what I remember thinking at the time.

I don’t know how long it has been since I sang this song as part of a worship service, but I do know it has been a long, long time. As we sang it this morning, all of those emotions and questions and struggles I was wrestling with after my Grandpa died flooded my memory and I wept. I almost had to leave the room because I was concerned about making a scene.

It is amazing to look back and see how far my faith has come. At the same time, I wind up asking the same questions from different perspectives. Have I really grown that much, yet learned so little? I think that is part of the journey of humanity.

Lessons Learned…

Round 2 of seminary has begun. Last year stretched me beyond my wildest imagination. The thing is, it wasn’t just because of the academics or the theological issues raised during class…

Sometime during the year in every class (except Greek), the professor would talk about the unpredictability of life and then wind up saying, “What are you going to say to the couple in the hospital who just lost their newborn baby?”

It didn’t become personal until second semester. Every time someone would ask that question after finding out about Jaron, I wanted to stand up and shout, with every ounce of my being, “Yes – what do you say to that couple!?! Please tell me!” Unbeknownst to my professors, that had become more than a rhetorical question.

I’ve learned you really can’t say anything. Being there and showing you genuinely care is more important than trying to figure out some profound thing that only makes you sound naive in the end. Above all else, listen! That’s a trait that is far too absent in ministers across the nation. I wish there was some way to teach listening as a class. If there were, I think it would have to be a required course for every ministry candidate.

Round 1 of seminary was buttressed by life experiences that threw everything into turmoil. I wonder what is going to be thrown at me this year. I’m not too worried about the classes themselves. Yes, the readings are never ending, the tests will chew me up and spit me out, and I’m sure I’ll have some kind of dream about Greek principal parts attacking me in my sleep. That’s not what I’m curious about. What kind of life experiences are going to come my way this year that my seminary training will somehow supplement? God got my attention through heartache last year. Maybe He’ll use something more happy this year.

Comfort

Every time something life-shattering has occurred in my life, I encounter another Steven Curtis Chapman song. I don’t normally pull out his CDs when I’m looking for something to listen to, but he captures something in his lyrics that I have not seen since Rich Mullins. While searching for a song with Kevin and Liz for Jaron’s memorial service, we rediscovered this song…

With Hope
From Speechless

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you’ve gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but …

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
We’ll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God’s plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father’s smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
‘Cause now you’re home
And now you’re free, and …

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
We’ll see your face again

We have this hope as an anchor
‘Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so …

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope