What You Will Find Here

Inspired by a video on Donald Miller’s blog, I decided to write a mission statement and clarify what you will find when you visit here.  A speaker on his blog stated that churches need to remember every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday. This post is inspired by that idea and comes in preparation for the launch of my new book and author website coming soon.

Who I Am:

A husband and father of two amazing boys.  I am making my way on this journey of life riding the ups and downs while figuring out what it all means and finding joy in the process. I obtained a certification to teach English and, in 2014, completed my MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University in Connecticut. I’m learning to be a better husband and father every week and, I hope, take some steps forward as much as I stumble.

What I Do:

My writing covers a range of topics, from inspirational to parenting, sports, creativity, culture and media. I’ve written everything from screenplays to novellas, novels and devotionals.

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What I Believe:

I try my best to follow Jesus.  I believe that we are not perfect. We will all struggle in life and we will learn from our struggles.  I believe everyone deserves a second chance and that forgiveness can change the world.  I believe the church gets it wrong just as much as it gets it right.  I believe we are all searching to complete the sentences of our lives. We do this in different ways, from addictions to spending and chasing fleeting value.

I believe in the mystery of faith, that we may not ever have all the answers. I believe we all have the power to love and to hurt, even those behind the pulpit on Sundays. Our goals should be to make a difference, to know that Jesus sought out people like us and that the Holy Spirit gives us courage and power to face every new morning.

Mission Statement:

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with All your Heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all things and he will make your paths straight.”

In the summer of 2014, I was struck with a choice: chase a traditional career in writing or give back this gift to God and see how he unleashes it in my life.  In chose the second option and that led to my current project, an account of fighting poverty in the city of Reading, Pennsylvania.

I want all of you to be inspired, to find hope, to know they are not alone and that their voice matters. Everyone counts.  Jesus showed us that and, even though we bury it under politics and religion, the truth remains.  Everyone counts. Every life has the potential to make a difference.

Every story matters to God.

Where to Start:

To get a good sense of my writing, start with here with a digital copy of my book on writing called Lazarus Art. Starting March 5th it will be free on Amazon.  You’ll find additional work there also including a new devotional coming by the end of the month.  If you enjoy what you find here, feel free to share with friends and loved ones needing hope.

What is Coming:

A new author website and devotional.  The launch of Glass Jar City, a Year in the Fight to Save Reading, Pennsylvania, a nonprofit publication and a special chance to raise money for those in the daily battle to defeat poverty and start those struggling on a path of new life.  Personalized ministry materials for individual and group study.

More work, new worship, deep conversation and a dive into the search for truth.

Thank you for spending some time here and I hope you enjoy your weekend.

Worship Song Inspiration:

~Matt

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Throw Away Old Stories

I’ve mentioned Donald Miller’s Storyline blog on here more than once and for good reason as I almost always get some selection of inspirational material.  If you haven’t followed them yet, I recommend it.

This past week, there was a post about changing the narrative you are living.  The writer told a story about a friend’s mother and this woman’s visit to her friend’s house. The friend complained that, when her mother was over, she “turned into a twelve-year-old again.” The writer continued to talk about growing up as an outsider and how she needed to overcome that to succeed in her creative efforts.

The post was up on Saturday and it has bounced around in my head since then.

How many of us are living old stories?

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I feel like this past year has been a journey to break the hold of old stories on my life.  I was not what you’d call an outsider as I had friends from different social groups.  I was not, though, the popular kid.  I didn’t jump at opportunities to show off.  I wasn’t a sports star or an actor with the drama club.

Oral presentations scared me until I took a public speaking class in high school.

These stories carried over into my early 30’s and I feel the fight rising. It is only a conflict because the old stories still exist.  Because the old part of my soul still stands on the sidelines content to be okay.

The time to be okay is over.

Change is possible if we allow ourselves to do it.  How many of us avoid the difficult conversation about Jesus at the water cooler because we were rejected in the past? Because someone made fun of us for being different? How many let those with stronger wills influence our lives and the lives of our children? How many refuse to stand because we’ve been knocked down too much that it is just easier to stay there?

Do we avoid risk because we fear failure or success? Breaking apart or breaking the bonds that hold us down?

I pray this week is one of change for you.  That you step out of your comfort zone and throw away the old stories impacting your life.  Starting writing new ones and see what happens.

~Matt

Picks of the Week 9/8/2014

(As a side note, any products mentioned below are not paid endorsements. Val’s Thirty-One recommendations are part of her consultant business. Everything else listed are our honest choices to improve your week!)

Scripture: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

One of my favorite verses and a cornerstone of our journey as a family.  Jeremiah is also one of my favorite books in the Bible.  He’s one of the guys who laid it out honestly and his words speak to anyone going through a struggle in their lives.

Book: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I found Donald Miller’s work at a point in my life where my faith was changing.  This book details his own path of belief as a college student and his attempts to figure out this thing we call faith.  Miller is an author and speaker worth following on all forms of social media.  Check out his book and you will find yourself asking deeper questions of faith.  You can find it here.

Worship Song:

Kristian Stanfill is coming to your area as part of the Passion 2014 tour. If you are not familiar with the Passion worship albums, download them as soon as you can.  They are filled with great music that brings you closer to God.

Website: Writing.com. When I started writing, this site was a lifeline.  They provide online workshops, portfolios, critiques, and readings.  You can spend hours reading work and helping other writers improve their craft.  They have contests and daily writing prompts to help defeat writer’s block.  It is a great introduction to the world of writing.

Family Activity: Pick your own apples.

We are nearing the time of year where local orchards are letting people pick their own apples.  Most do this throughout the growing season but, in the fall, there is something special with walking down lanes of apple trees and filling a basket. Get as many as possible and pick up some fresh cider on the way out. Our boys love it and your kids will too.

Marriage Activity: Find the trails.

There is no better time of year to search out your local hiking trails.  Trees are changing and the weather is moving towards more temperate days.  If you’re in for a challenge, head to some steeper elevations.  In our times of stress, we always loved getting outside for a walk in nature and losing ourselves to the beauty of creation.

Val’s Style Pick of the Week:

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A shout-out for the guys.  You can’t beat shampoo with the name Clean Brew. Redken makes quality products for men and this is one of the more popular selections.

 

Val’s Bag of the Week:

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The Oh-Snap Bin. These are great for storage and include snaps on the side where multiple bins can be joined together.  They are only $10.00. Trust me, you can never have enough storage!  You can find them here. You can find other specials for September and the entire new catalog for the month at Val’s personal Thirty-One site.