Monday, November 28, 2011

Almost Christmas

I can feel Christmas in the air, even as the rain falls when I once new snow. It is funny how badly I want this season of joy this year. I want the season of miracles, joy, hope and laughter. Usually I get in the Christmas mood when I shop on the 22nd, but this year is different. We are getting in the mood early! Here are a few favorite ways.

Jazz music: I like jazz music pretty much anytime, but in the Christmas seasoning imagine a ton of lyrics about mangers and candy canes. Somehow these songs are incredibly Christmassy. You should try it out.

Movies under blankets: No season has better movies to enjoy. There aren't inspiring Labor Day movies, but The Muppet's Christmas Carol? I'm not sure if there are better films. Plus, it is the only time of year that I don't make fun of myself for Hallmark like endings. Elf, The Grinch, They Year Without a Santa Claus. Seriously great movies!

Hot drinks: In the middle of summer I prefer a warm drink to a cold one. I spent plenty of days sweating on my back deck with a hot cup of coffee in hand. This time of year I am not alone. I like not being alone.

Purpose: Sometimes I can feel how much we as a people lack purpose. Monday bleeds into Tuesday and we may not wake until Saturday. When it is Christmas time we seems to live a little different. We seem to have hope for things that the rest of the year we would consider childish. We seem to find something positive in people that we are often critical. So many of us believe in something bigger than ourselves. Many of us pause to ask where our faith in this precious Child is blocked by what feels to be our reality here on earth.

This year I need Christmas. I have gotten to know so many more people who are desperate about their need for a Savior. I have seen that there is no amount of money or help that I could give. I know in my heart that my friends don't need me, they need a Savior. I'm so grateful that into this reality on earth a Savior was born. Enjoy this season in every way that you can.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Good of Facebook

I'll be honest.  I don't like Facebook.  I'm grateful for it because this week is about being thankful.  Still, for me, I'm about as thankful for Facebook as I am for my back molar.  I am sure I would miss it some if it were gone, but right now I don't really care.  Anyways, today I went through Nikki's pictures.  She has a slew of photos on their from the past five years.  It was pretty incredible looking through and seeing Ana when she was so tiny that her smile was bigger than her head.  I laughed seeing that Durant's eyes have always been huge and that Carter has always been like my miniature guy friend.  It was powerful watching through photos as the last two years have progressed and Ezra and Jackson have grown bigger and more comfortable over time.  I am a very blessed man.
Even though I still have no interest in playing Farmville or giving you corn, I am finding some good on Facebook.  I think I can call it a day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Looking big. Feeling small.

A few weeks ago when I was in Ethiopia I got to visit the Eshet school where we are running the 10c dabo feeding program.  It is at this school that we are feeding 61 students.  The most challenging part of feeding these kids was seeing how many kids didn't have food yet.  In order to go to this school, you need to show that you do not have income, and therefore need a free education.  The difficulty comes in when they have an hour for lunch and nowhere to go and no food to eat.  There have been a few students who pass out from hunger.  They are otherwise healthy, but there is no food.

We spent our time with the students that we were feeding.  These were all of the preschoolers.  I got to go and sit with them.  Seriously, how great is this photo?

I look like Elf in this photo!  At the same time, I felt like him.  I felt so huge in this room.  You could stand three of these students up on each other and they would be able to stand as tall as my giant 5/10" frame.  

Height aside, I felt tiny.  I knew that there were kids outside hoping for leftovers.  I knew that even if we fed the entire school there are still others hungry.  I knew that even after hunger was met, there are so many needs.  It was one of those clear moments when I felt that the world didn't need Matt, but Christ.  I can offer a little food and a funny photo.  Lasting hope comes through Christ.

Hebrews 6:19-20
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. "

Why isn't there a song about Louisville?

It seems like any good city either has a song or a band named after it.  Okay I don't know of a song named after Brooklyn Center or Eau Claire.  Still, there should be one about Louisville.

Think about it, "Omaha" bu Counting Crows was the inspiration of two road trips for my family.  "Walking In Memphis" somehow got me through my college years even though I went to college about ten hours from Memphis and never listened to a Elvis song in those years.  I do think that I am the only person who would pump themselves up for sports with Marc Cohn.

Then the bands for those who are more blessed chronologically know Chicago and Boston.  Boston slightly ruined my wedding dance, but I heard that they were good.  I'm sure I'm missing a few, but that further proves my point that Louisville deserves a song.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I am fascinated by how often we think about us. Maybe it is just natural, but it seems pretty broken.
We have a raccoon that lives under our deck. He broke the side of the deck and must be getting bigger because the hole is bigger and bigger each week. I haven't officially met him yet, but I am pretty sure he isn't too concerned about what I think of him, his impact on my deck or if his hair is looking good on that day.
He's this nasty looking, honest!

Even though he often outsmarts me, I am holding on to the hope that I am slightly smarter than him and more advanced than he is. (Once I fix the deck we'll find out.) With that said, I should be able to handle basic stuff like him, eating, drinking, finding a place to sleep, and move on to more important items after that. Instead, I stay in the same pattern, thinking of myself way too seriously.

I would love to see what life looked like if we trusted basic needs to be basic. We didn't complicate them. We didn't glorify them. Maybe even we could put others basic needs ahead of our complex needs. I am holding out hope that this is possible. I'm also holding out hope that a bear will move under my deck and scare away the raccoon. That would be an awesome blog post!

Monday, November 14, 2011

How far?

I'm a dad. When I think of the things that most practically define me, that is definitely top 5, hopefully top 3 behind follow of Christ and husband to my bride. (sometimes other identities sneak in, but that's another post.)

I'm learning so much about me by being a dad. The new thing I'm seeing is how far I will take things. I saw it in my kids this weekend. I threw a football party for Jackson, Durant, Ana and I. It was an all out celebration with Twizzlers, smoked almonds, and orange soda. The funny thing was the kids weren't satisfied. They wanted two sodas instead of one.  Chips instead of almonds. They didn't want just football, but movies. Not just the afternoon, but all night. They weren't even happy with just Saturday, but wanted Sunday as well. We missed a few memories looking for the next.

I saw it most clearly in a thank you card Jackson made me. He drew a wonderful photo of us both as ninja turtles. On the inside he thanked me for the fun weekend, and then he dropped the question...can we play video games? He knows we weren't going to, but since we had fun he thought he could maybe have more.

The same thing was shown perfect in a photo Nikki took with Carter in Memphis.

My son is a little comedian, but he's doing what I have often done.  I have tried to see what I can get away with.  One more soda, candy bar, movie or game. 

I want to be grateful for today, messes and all. I don't want to look for how I can get away with more, but how I can live more content. Isn't to want His kingdom more than this world, and celebrate the journey of getting there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

1 in 4 wins

I have never won the lottery.  The main reason is because I haven't bought a ticket since I bought some for my grandpa when I was in middle school.  He didn't win on one ticket and it seemed all too expensive.  It may be because of this, but I do spend a year's worth of money at McDonald's during the Monopoly game.  This year it paid off.  After all, one in four wins.

We didn't win the million, the car, or even the video game system.  Instead, Nikki and I won the two most valuable breakfast sandwiches known to man.

We cashed them in last Friday at a McDonald's in St. Matthews.  While we were sitting there I saw a guy with his Bible out.  I wanted to talk to him, but I figured that I am weird and it was the biscuit talking.  I thought I would finish and then maybe get up.  Then, I looked to the other side and saw two more guys with their Bibles out.  I had to see what was going on.  Well, the first guy, Brandon, went to say hi to the other two.  I saw my window and made Nikki quickly slam her sandwich so we could walk by them on our way out.  Brandon was talking to a lady, so I just stood there awkwardly until they were done. I'm sure I looked odd, but I'm used to that.  Once that conversation ended Nikki and I got to know Brandon as well as Scott and Drew.  We talked for a little while and left so encouraged by the faith of these men.

Before McDonald's I was in a hurry and we weren't even supposed to be in St. Matthews.  It was only because I forgot what I needed that Nikki met me at Heine Brothers and we headed out together.  Brandon was there on accident.  Scott and Drew just started meeting the week before.  It's not like all of the world changed and we were able to give free McMuffins to all the homeless downtown, but it was a beautiful reminder that God has gifts for us in the middle of our day.  I have lived deeply encouraged for a week off of that "chance" meeting.  I have rarely been more thankful that I don't mind standing awkwardly waiting to say hi to someone God may have me meet.  It feels like 75% of the time I feel like a fool, but the rest of the times make it worth while.

I'm not trying to be too cheesy, but I will be anyways.  I pray that my family and yours have the courage to feel odd as we courageously follow what God has in front of us.  May He guide your steps, even if they lead you to McDonald's.  I pray we become known as people who go where He leads.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I haven't figured it out yet, but on certain days in Louisville organizations can take donations at stoplights. It is very strange and I am certain I will accidentally hit one of the workers some day. The worst part about hitting them is not that they would be hit by a Jeep, but that I would feel like subconsciously I didn't like their cause. That would make me feel bad, and probably donate.

On Saturday Carter and I were driving to UK. On the way we passed two different intersections with donation-takers. The first one was for the humane society. These poor dogs and cats need homes and people were dumping money in the buckets. It looked like they were buying rare hamsters with the amounts they were giving. In fact, I almost missed the light because two cars in front of me was trying to give so much. Generous people, seriously! I have a game to go to!

The next intersection was for a homeless shelter. I'm not lying, people were rolling up their windows. I have never seen drivers avoid eye contact. Not one person gave. It was crazy. People were acting like they would catch homelessness by giving.

Why do we care about the puppies but not the people? It was a pretty odd moment. I still argue that we, as people, are an odd breed.
By the way- even though UK won, I still like U of L!

Practice what we sing

Just the other day I was riding around with my little Ana in the car. We had a worship cd on and Ana was in the back singing away. I started listening to the words again and I was reminded how much truth is packed into many of the songs we sing. I can't help but think, "what would we look like if we lived what we sing?"

It's amazing how we can worship in the car to a cd full of truth about who God is and who we are in light of Him, and then hop out and live different. I know there are little pathways in the brain and I am wondering how God connects the two areas. What would I look like if my life reflected my favorite songs? (Not the 90's classics like "The End of the Road." More like Chris McClarney or Chris Tomlin songs.)

I cannot wait for the day when all that we know and believe in theory comes out of our lives in reality. Instead of knowing God should be first, we live with Him first. Instead of saying we trust Him, truly trusting Him. Instead of caring as we pass by someone, actually stopping and seeing the people in front of us. The day that this happens will change the world. Maybe that day is today.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Long absent, possible return

There are some things that I just love the idea of but don't necessarily want to work towards. I wish I could wake up in shape, learn a language in my sleep and become a natural writer by blinking. None of those things happen, but are all worth pursuing. With that said, at least today I will blog again.

I meet with this group of guys on Fridays. They are great guys that I have met with for just over a year. Today was interesting. I feel like we had the exact conversation a year ago. I even remember some comments being the same. I remember hearing "everyone is worn out", "time is going to fast", and "those ladies took our table." It made me realize, I really shouldn't act surprised by life any longer. As long as I can remember, some people have felt worn out. Scripture teaches that is a reality. It also teaches that when we are weary God will be our strength.

I am beginning to wonder what would happen if I shifted the attention away from weariness and towards God's provision instead. What would it look like to look to Him in practice instead of theory? What if we didn't accept life staying the same, and also stopped pretending we can change ourselves?

It's work to relearn life. I think it is worth the effort to trust God to bring all that He says He provides. This isn't just money. This is peace, hope and all of the rest. Here's to relearning to trust Him...again.