Back to Life

Change, for me, has always carried a mix of emotions.  I miss the things I leave behind and look forward to the things I am chasing down. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “So, what will you do with your degree?”  I wouldn’t have to worry about it! I don’t blame the ones asking the question.  Times are different.  Since 2008, the economy has changed and the demands of education has increased.  A Master’s degree is the new Bachelor’s. You can’t just send out ten applications and get ten interview requests. Merck, one of the largest employers in suburban Philadelphia, laid off over 600 people this week. I’ve been there and I feel for every one of those people going home and filing their unemployment papers and wondering how they pay the bills next week.

 

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I did my graduate presentation on writing a good antagonist.  One of the new students in the program asked my opinion on the current trend of popularity of anti-heroes, why movies and books are embracing the rebels and those acting outside of the classic “hero” pattern.  I mentioned that I had read an article about the popularity of The Walking Dead and that the writer mentioned that audiences were fed up with society. They were tired of the norm and celebrated a country ripped down by zombies.  Not many people are optimistic.

When you find yourself in the dark, keep your eyes on the light.  Remember:

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” ~Psalm 39:7

“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

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” ~Romans 15:4

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” ~Hebrews 11:1

I believe we are all called to a purpose, to a passion that will lead us to happiness. We have that underlying drive to gain what we seek. We have a calling to do something to change the world. All of this starts one step at a time, at home with those we love. As we go forward it will not always be easy but the prize is worth it. We know where to find our hope and our peace and where our light comes from when the darkness threatens. Failure may happen, but it is just a new chance to succeed.

So tonight, back from vacation, I’m looking forward at the journey. I’m so thankful for all I have and so excited for all that is coming, for the road that is rolling out ahead of my steps, for the chance to be a better father, husband, writer, and entrepreneur. As I take my journey, I wish you luck on yours and know that you never travel alone.

~Matt

 

The First Step

Today is my graduate presentation and reading and I am writing this post in between them. I’ve made a lot of friends in Fairfield University’s MFA program and one of the perks of the residencies is catching up with people you haven’t seen in six months.  I just had a conversation with a friend of mine named Josh who is part of my graduating class. He is a brilliant writer and a brother in Christ. We were talking about graduation and he said that it will be a weird feeling on Monday; the sense that something has ended and something new is starting. I totally get it.

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I’ve had many first steps in life. They are moments you never forget.  I remember the first day of college, of marriage, taking Carter home as a baby and wondering what we do from here. It is a mix of excitement, fear, and expectancy. God takes us to first steps for a reason.  It can be a transition from a job, a home, a toxic relationship, and possibly a church. There is a sense of mystery with first steps.  We don’t know what is coming. We picture the end result but, in reality, it is a mystery. We believe that God’s hand is guiding our path and making it straight.

Tomorrow I’ll walk in the graduation. We’ll go home on Saturday and, as he said, Monday will be the first day that I haven’t been a student in a long time. I’m sad for the passing but thankful for the moments and memories. I’m still believing that good things are coming. There will still be hills to climb (I’m still waiting on my test results.) and time never stops.  We can only make the most of the minutes we have.

The fear is gradually fading away. The excitement is building. I hope that Carter and Aiden will be proud of me one day.  That’s my goal, that they will look up to me and that I can set a good example as a father. This is another First Step to get there.

~Matt

Thoughts On the Road

I’m writing this post from our hotel room in Mystic, Connecticut.  We survived the trip and found everything successfully.  This morning we drove up to Newport, Rhode Island and spent some time on the beach and walking Cliff Walk.  As we crossed the bridge, the sign to Newport mentions that it was founded in 1637. That blows my mind.  They just passed their 375th anniversary. I stood on the beach imagining people from a hundred years before the American Revolution, an entire generation living and dying while the place was still a British colony.

We all have connections to the past and, I believe, certain locations. I love the south.  I love Cajun food and my dream is to get to New Orleans for a vacation. I feel like a thread of my soul runs down south. I love worship music with a hint of the blues like this song below off of David Crowder’s new album:

I love the chorus:

“If you’re lost and wondering, come stumbling in like a prodigal child. Feel the walls start crumbling, let the gates of Glory open wide.”

Those words have stuck with me recently.  We all get off the path, wondering on our own accord.  We build our walls and the only way to break them down is through God’s grace and glory. These are points God is driving home into my head.  I’m getting more responses for Overcome, lining up more interviews and preparing my pen to capture the hearts of those fighting to make Reading a better city. Next week I’ll be visiting the Hope Rescue Mission and I’m excited for the chance to volunteer and learn more about what it does and who it serves on a daily basis.

Today I watched Carter and Aiden play on the beach and swim in the hotel pool.  They are getting so big so fast and I just want to grab the moments and never let them go. I want them to know they can always come home, no matter how lost they get. I want them to know it is important to serve and live with a giving heart. There are so many things I want to pass on and that is why I write, to open myself up in words that will hang around for them and future generations.  Maybe, 375 years after Overcome is released, some guy will check it out of a library (digitally of course) and marvel at our past.

So tomorrow morning I have my graduate presentation. Tomorrow night I have my reading, and Friday will be the day. I’m past worrying about the presentation or reading. This is go time, the time where you just move forward.  I’ll get up early tomorrow, throw on my shirt and tie, gather my materials, and drive out to the island. This is life with a sense of purpose, something I had missed for a long time and am blessed to find. The clouds are clearing. The walls are crumbling. The gates are opening and I’m excited to see what is to come.

~Matt