The Closed Doors

There was no room at the inn.

The expression, from the Christmas Story as recorded in scriptures, has come to mean many different things.  Mary and Joseph needed a place to stay.  She was pregnant. They checked around and found no inn with a spare room, ending up in a stable.  They faced many closed doors.

We all face our closed doors.

3598404782_7dbe1e459a

Photo Credit: M.Orellana via Compfight cc

You can be moving along and gradually, or suddenly, things fall apart.  Your path shifts. The climb is now up hill. The promises you know as truth seem so far away and you look to God and wonder where the target on your back came from.

Closed doors are a necessary part of life.

On Thanksgiving, I spoke to a friend at Hope Rescue Mission.  He was having a rough few weeks.  His children and wife were dealing with medical issues.  An extended family member was seriously sick.  He felt beaten down.  He sighed and looked at me.

“You know you’re moving in the right direction when the Devil tries to hit back,” he said.

Where are you taking your hits this week?  Looking for a new job? Kids creating stress with the holidays? Finances getting thin while your waist line may be moving the other direction?

When we follow our calling, we will face closed doors.  God’s answers will come in their time, not ours.  We can’t lose hope and I write this sentence for you as much as for me. We will get pressed, and pressure is a good sign to keep fighting.  Use it as a barometer to know you are making a difference.

Even if  you end up in your version of a stable, shake off the cold, ignore the animals, and know that the universe was changed in such a place so many years before. That night it was the perfect, and only, option.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

“When I am weak, you’re strong.  Your grace is all I’ve got.  What love is this that loves no matter what?” ~Strong by The City Harmonic

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.

 

6285404227_17c6f166e4

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

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.

4391

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.

 

Writing Our Story

We’ve officially reached that time of year.  Halloween has passed. Time is running towards Thanksgiving and Christmas. We approach the days we’ll spend with family, eating, laughing, trading stories and gifts. 2014 is nearing an end.

Time keeps moving and these are the days we take stock of our lives.

So where are you in your story?

We are a society that values our prodigies. We like our athletes, singers, actors and actresses young.  We constantly strive for the next best thing.  I’ve read research saying that traditional job applications are over, that employees will need to present portfolios showing their best work and past experience will mean nothing. Employers are moving towards contract-based work with applicants proving their current value.  What can you do for me now not What have you done in the past.

We are pushing the past away for the sake of innovation.

So what if you’re not on the younger side of things?

It is the lesson to never lose hope. The world can always be changed.  Our work is never done. Experience, no matter what society says, carries value. The next movement will be created in a fertile mind, whether it is in its second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth decade of life.

5529

Your story is never over. As long as you are breathing, you can speak life into someone you love, into a situation that needs fixing, into a family that needs peace.

My grandmother is 97.  When my grandfather passed away two years ago, she placed a rose in his coffin.  Her story was not over.  She’s a woman with a soul of iron, stronger than I’ll ever be, and a foundation of a family.  She raised two girls for years while my grandfather fought in WW2. She worked various jobs well past the usual retirement age.  She loved deeply and fully and still does to this day.

She’s one of my heroes.

So, no matter where you are, remember your story is not over.  The scenes may change, the circumstances shift. Money comes and goes. Jobs change. Living situations vary and people move in and out of your life. Keep creating. Find your passion and make time to see it through.  Keep doing the work.

We are all called to something special and must have the determination to see it through. Sometimes, in your darkest nights, that can only come from God.

~Matt

Soundtrack inspiration: