Why We Write: To Start a Movement

This post starts a series on writing and inspiration.

I believe we are all called to start something.  You may find yourself in the midst of the corporate world, doing a job you love and building for the future.  You may find your days with children and family members, running a house and being the backbone of a family. You may be alone in your apartment trying to decide what is next and what you can do to make tomorrow different.

We are all called to start something.

You can be satisfied or struggling and, deep inside, feel that pull to create.  What is uniquely yours and how can it be used to make the world a better place?

As I’m writing this book, one of the first organizations included was Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center.  I’ve spoken to family members and coworkers about this outreach and their efforts to help women, children, and their families in the city of Reading, PA. My mother works at a local hospital.  She sent me an email today saying that the Radiology department of the hospital will be sponsoring Mercy for the Christmas season.

Words creating action. A story leading to an outpouring of support. The actions of the hospital employees will directly help families in need.

I want this book to make a difference.  The movement has started. I’m excited to see what is coming and how it will keep growing.

 

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Photo Credit: Abi Booth Photography

So why do something to create movement? Why listen to that small voice urging you to grasp that gift inside and create? To reach out and push against your comfort zone? Because we are called to make a difference, to use this time we have to make someone’s life better.

We write to lift our voices and, hopefully, lift up others at the same time.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.- Romans 8:28

No Sleep

I’m a night person. There’s something about the end of a day, the quiet and peace of the dark.  I remember, growing up, laying in bed and listening to the sounds of the night outside. When I went to college, I would stay up late for a variety of reasons.  Val and I would go to dinner, then to a 10:30 movie, getting home at 1 in the morning and not think anything of it.

There was no kids, no serious obligations, and we had all the time in the world.

Oh how things change.

We had Carter and he went through the usual getting up at night that comes with being a baby.  That passed and, just around the time he turned two, he started getting up again.  He hasn’t slept through a complete night since.

We’re talking four years.

Aiden just had his second birthday and he’s a mixed bag of results.  Some nights he will sleep and some he’ll be up for a few hours at a time.

As you can imagine, not a lot of energy in the house right now.

We are desperate for some peace.

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It has been a draining week, days filled with issues and problems to solve.  If you have children, you know what nights are like dealing with kids who are tired.  They get a new and special kind of crazy when they are fighting to stay awake.  Then you finally get to bed and attempt to rest until you hear, “Daddy, will you sleep with me?”

I don’t know the last time I felt true peace.  C.S. Lewis wrote about believers having a divine discontent, knowing this isn’t our home.  He is right. We don’t settle for the trappings of the world as we push towards the realization of grace. We know the battle is already won, we know that we can have peace because Jesus has overcome the world.

These days I feel like Paul, constantly moving, writing this book, fighting issues on multiple fronts for our family, and doing it as a servant refined by suffering.

For now, I’d just take a night of sleep.

8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Maybe some day.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

 

The Whole World in His Hands

Today, a grand jury in New York City declined to press charges against a white police officer who applied a choke hold on a black man named Eric Garner, killing him in the process.  Garner had suffered from asthma and this move may have put him over the edge to the point of death.  In the wake of the Michael Brown situation, this only adds another level of frustration for those feeling like they cannot get justice or representation, that the justice system is skewed to protect police departments.

Garner died at the hands of a police officer. Michael Brown, according to a witness, had his hands raised before he was shot. These two ideas catalyzed my thinking tonight behind this post and the importance of what we do with our hands.

The New Testament tells us the story of Jesus. We read of his life, death, and resurrection.  He appears to the disciples and tells Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands so he may believe.  In his life, and his new life, his hands represented the embrace of the divine and the electric moment when Heaven and Earth collide.

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Hands can help or hurt, embrace or strike.  Babies rely on the touch of their parents.  Reach out to a child who has suffered abuse and you will get a much different response. A touch can soothe a broken heart and mend a bad day, it can heal a wound and provide strength to fight.

It is time to get hands-on.

We spend way too much time on the sidelines.  I’m guilty of this. It is so much easier to watch and let it pass, to go back to our everyday lives and figure someone else will deal with it. We are content with passivity. We are relaxed in routine. We are settled in our suburban groove of SUVs, PTAs, and trips to the grocery store.

We drift while this world explodes around us.

It is time to have the hard talk, to tell our kids about reality.  It is time to be active and serve to build bridges in the community.  It is time to have a front-line faith. Jesus could have stayed in the temple, made some money, and released some cool worship albums. He chose the other path.

His hands weren’t up, they were nailed to the cross.

We are called to pick up our cross and follow him, or are our hands too full already?

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

 

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is Val’s holiday.  I’ll admit it.  I love Halloween.  She loves Christmas.  We’ll watch every movie on Hulu and Netflix, play the songs on the car radio, and decorate as much of the house as possible.  The holiday itself carries fond memories for most of us and mixed feelings for others.  This corridor of Thanksgiving and Christmas places us in direct contact with family members who we do not often see the other ten months of the year.

I can’t read the title of this post without hearing Andy Williams singing the first line of the song.  Go ahead. Try it.

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Today, on my lunch break, I visited Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center for the first day of their Christmas events. They are an outreach ministry working with men, women, and families in crisis dealing with issues from unexpected pregnancy to abusive relationships and parenting classes. Mercy has served multiple generations of families across the city.

I spoke with Judy, a volunteer for the past fifteen years, after she had finished handing out the gift bags to the first wave of clients.  Mercy hands out bags of donated toys separated into gender and age groups. Parents register for the gifts and complete parenting classes before they are eligible for the Christmas program.

Three hundred children would be served this month, three hundred children in the city getting some joy from the compassion of people willing to donate toys.

I asked Judy if she has seen an increased need as the economy fell apart in the city.  She said that the severity of need has drastically increased. There are families that walk through Mercy’s door with nothing, no home, no clothes, no food.  She told me she still finds herself crying with clients after all the years of volunteering.

As we hit the malls this month, real and virtual alike, it is important to have perspective.  This is the time to give, to reach out to those in need.  Find a charity near you and pay them a visit or send them an email.  The person you reach should easily be able to give you a list of resources they lack at the moment.

The knowledge that you made a difference is a greater payoff than anything you’ll receive under the tree this year.

~Matt

Soundtrack inspiration: One of my favorites from Lifehouse.