Random Thoughts

Got an iPad. Now I just need internet service that works.

I’d like to thank my family members who contributed to the purchase of the iPad. If I do something awesome with it, I’ll give them some credit. And I’ll blame them if I ignore my kids and wife.

Gained 2 pounds on birthdayweek. And it ain’t over.

Because people know I have an affection for bacon, I’ve gotten a few bacon-themed gifts. Y’all do know I like one-hundred dollar bills, right?

Only those who have recieved an iPhone or an iPad as a gift can understand how Harry potter felt when he opened his Nimbus Two Thousand.

I may or may not be considering downloading a graphic novel to read on my iPad.

#Occupymugshotsgrillandbar

I need to stop celebrating my birthday so I can play with my new toy.

Did I mention I got a new iPad 2?

Random Thoughts

Birthdayweek is going pretty well. Still waiting for fireworks, red carpet and tributes from Hollywood stars.

I didn’t dream about my job last night but I did dream about Steve Jobs for some reason.

Last night we had wings for dinner as part of the celebration of my birthdayweek and then before going to bed my wife said she really enjoyed them and then I fell in love all over again.

Truth will out.

To cap off my birthday, the wife and I will drive north to tour the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama. I’m afraid to tell my brothers this.

Today is my last day in the 30’s. I hope this makes all of you feel old.

I get excited about being in my hometown the same others get excited about being in someone else’s.

Doctors want you to rest so you can get better…unless you are in the hospital where they wake you up every couple of hours.

Last night I was working through some suggestions from my Editor on the book and I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty good…I really wrote that?”

Tuesday’s 10: Hopes for the Next 40

As we creep ever closer to my 40th I thought about doing 10 regrets. But that just seemed depressing and I couldn’t come up with that many anyway. So let’s look forward, shall we?

The following are 10 hopes for the next 40:

1. To love my wife the way my Dad loves my mom. To hurt because something hurts her and not simply because it gets in the way. To hang on tight till the end of our days here and we move on ahead.

2. To not have my feelings numbed by the shear weight of years stacked upon years. To laugh easily and be moved by beauty and ugliness.

3. To never grow out of the joy of having the windows down and the music up. To still enjoy the moment and take the long way home.

4. To be a better friend. To fight against the natural desire to be insular and tertiary to other people’s lives. And vice versa.

5. To be comfortable in this aging skin. Getting upset about getting old is as foolish as wishing grass wasn’t green. I want to look in the mirror and smile merely because I’m there.

6. To keep pressing against the tide of unknowing. My memory has finished it’s continual unabated waxing and now often wanes. But I don’t wanna forget how it feels to hold the relatively new hands of my beautiful kids.

7. I want to still get the chills when “Backstreets” streams out of my speakers. I want to be moved by “Carrickfergus” and “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”.

8. I want to learn how read the Bible as a worshipper and not a teacher or preacher. I want to use a diving board and dive in and relish the submersion. I don’t want to use it as a springboard.

9. To be less insecure about who I am. Justification should be the death knell for this but often it is just not so. Being less insecure would mean less reaction and more laughter.

10. To never tire of being stunned by the night sky. To not stop stopping and looking up. Taking the time to be dazzled by all those things which shine large and bright.

40 for 40

I turn 40 this week…hard for me to believe also. So I thought I’d start by giving you 40 fun facts about me and my life. After all it’s my birthday-week, so if it’s gonna be all about me, I might as well have fun with it…

1. I’ve probably had more jobs than 5 of you combined. From shipping baby announcements to engraving pens, I’ve done it.

2. Though I’ve never broken a bone, I’ve had back surgery.

3. My first car was a ’79 vette. Chevette. With no reverse.

4. I hated everyday of high school.

5. Sentences starting with an H are hard for me to get out because of my stuttering.

6. My earliest memory involves a sport I don’t really care for – basketball.

7. I’ve only shot a real gun once. Out of the 8 rounds I hit the skeet 7 times.

8. Starting in about 4th grade, I made terrible grades in school but I always tested well.

9. I don’t remember any of the Hebrew I learned in seminary even though I made pretty good grades in my classes.

10. I prefer cold weather to warm.

11. I’ve fought insecurity about every facet of my life since I can remember.

12. I get choked up very, very easily while watching a movie or TV show and resist watching movies I know are designed to do this.

13. When we moved form Birmingham in 2000, I was ready to leave. Now that we are back, I never want to.

14. A great evening is sitting out in the cool of the night and listening to Billie Holiday.

15. I wish I was more of a neat freak.

16. Sometimes my mind shifts from contemplative to lazy without me knowing it.

17. I eat peanut butter and cheese sandwiches every now and then.

18. I question the judgment of those who like CSI:Miami.

19. The only other country I’ve been to is Canada.

20. I read a lot of the same books over and over.

21. I prefer a good burger over steak.

22. Flying is not a favorite. Landing is good though.

23. I was mountains over beach till this last family trip down to the 30A.

24. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t do much shopping at Whole Foods.

25. I’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life about 100 times.

26. Every day I look forward to getting in bed and reading.

27. I worry about my kids more than I should.

28. I’ve never voted for a Democrat.

29. Barbecue pork is a staple.

30. When my son says he doesn’t want to go to school, I agree with him on the inside while telling him he will have fun.

31. I have a book deal.

32. I named my son after Bob Dylan because my wife would not go for Van Morrison.

33. I have an arch enemy.

34. Coming up with these 40 is hard. And that is a little depressing.

35. My favorite book of the Bible is Romans.

36. Books about art theft are a favorite.

37. I can’t sleep without a fan humming in the room.

38. I’d rather be with my wife while doing something boring than be without her doing something interesting.

39. I worry about publicly failing at my new job.

40. I’m pretty much always hungry.

Random Thoughts

Protesters are the ultimate fundamentalists. Their modus operandi is to effect change merely by telling people what to do while never seeing their own guilt.

Started birthday week off with bacon this morning. Seemed only right.

When I heard about some Senators working to take care of the problem of people selling fake maple syrup, my first thought was – finally.

For my birthday I asked for a rocket-launcher, an iPad 2 and enough money for people to want to protest outside my house because of it.

Weekends are now very. very precious. Not because I’m not working but because of the reason why I work.

Random Thoughts

1. Next week is my birthday week. So all blog posts will be allllll about me. So nothing will change, take comfort in that, my readers.

2. A protest I could get behind is for better Groupons.

3. Starting to feel more confident in my job. That is until I assume I must be doing something wrong. Then I go back to questioning everything.

4. My dad is in the hospital. Everything is colored by that fact.

5. Have I mentioned how much I love Antiques Roadshow? Don’t tell anyone though. I got a rep to uphold.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. Saw a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar at Target. That is all.

2. Read about a new Bob Dylan tribute album. Isn’t every album one of those?

3. Wait, weren’t the OWS protestors against Nazis? At least before they were allied with them?

4. All I’ve wanted to listen to for more than a week is Springsteen. And Billie Holiday, I always want to listen to Lady Day.

5. Did you hear about all those wild animals being released in Ohio? Just another OWS protest, I assume.

6. I think facebook needs more sentimental posts.

7. You know I actually sympathize with some of those protestors. I’d be mad if someone stole my Macbook Pro also.

8. Actually, I’ve wanted to listen to bacon sizzle as well as Springsteen.

9. I’m tired of hippies, the lack of bacon in this world and Old Spice commercials. There, I said it.

10. 40th Birthday coming up. Visions of iPads are dancing in my head.

Bonus Thoughts:

11. Dear Guy from Maroon 5 who profanely called Fox News evil,
                       
      Allow me to introduce you to the Dixie Chicks.

      Lovingly, Matt

12. I don’t understand facebook anymore.

13. I’m looking forward to that day when I can walk into work and know what I’m doing. So until 2013, I’ll just keep learning.

14. The word “iPad” is not in my mac’s dictionary. Evil plot orchestrated by Google Chrome?

15. Waiting for a presidential candidate who will promise jet-packs and rocket-launchers for every man woman and child.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. I have had no bacon this week. Feelin’ it too.

2. Breaking news: Auburn once again proven to have not violated recruiting policy. In I’m sure totally unrelated news, a few thousand Bama fans wearing 1976 national championship trucker hats simultaneously got indigestion.

3. Helped a customer by myself finally. Thinkin’ about askin’ for a promotion.

4. If I thought even just a small fraction of the OWS protesters cared about the “Fast and Furious” investigation I would think about taking them seriously.

5. Thought I was getting used to shaving every morning and then realized that’ll never happen.

6. Dreamed about banking regulations last night. You?

7. When I was a little kid this girl I knew wore an annoying shirt that said, “Anything a boy can do, a girl can do better.” As I approach 40 most of my favorite authors and singers are women. And my favorite person is too. Maybe she was right after all.

8. I would like to start a new trend of serving Buffalo wings for dessert.

9.  If you’ve never listened to “Backstreets” by Springsteen as loud as you can while driving through the Birmingham night air, you are missing out.

10. Sign at gas station in my neighborhood: “Boiled Peanuts and Fine Wines.” I love this place called home.

A Pastor Goes Looking for Humiliation

I couldn’t even get a job a Target.

Back about six months ago when Bethany and I started talking about me looking for a job outside of pastoral ministry, I was optimistic. After all, I had a master’s degree. I have some facility with about five languages outside of English. I have a book deal. I have prior experience in a number of fields. My learning had depth and breadth. So I was optimistic about the job search. Turns out, unduly so.

The only responses I got from my inquiries and submitted resumés were rejections. Over and over and over. Often just silence.  My over-confidence was careening against the stone-cold immovable reality of a stagnant economy having little use for what I knew and had done.

Every now and again there were reasons for optimism. A lead here. A promised good word there. But the positive feelings would wane faster than they waxed. And I would be back on job sites broadening my search again.

About four and half months in and up to my chin in rising despair, I got an email from Target telling me I had not been chosen for a job. I was sure I would be miserable but knew the pay would feed us. I thought that with a little luck, I might get to oversee the music and books section or frozen foods. I was obviously more desperate than they were. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with such a job. I just knew I would be miserable. But I also knew I needed something.

I didn’t tell Bethany about this. You see, the plan was to wait till the end of August and then panic and send my resumé to retail places like Target. Just to do what we have to do. But I got that email about 10 days before the deadline.

A few days before I was at a concert and ran into an old friend. We had worked together before I went to Seminary and had even graduated from Bible College. He and his wife were part of Bethany and I’s history. Anyway, as we talked before the show I told him about my job search, he offered to help me out. He had the kind of job that might actually make something happen.

I think it was just a couple of days later that I sent his wife a message on facebook and asked for his email. Within a few hours we had planned lunch in a couple of days. That lunch was one part interview and one part reunion. Fifteen minutes after lunch, I was interviewing with someone else. An hour later I was communicating with HR.

I had a job a week later.

There is another layer in this story I need to share. With every week of looking I was growing further down into the soft soil of humiliation. There grows wild thoughts and poisonous regrets. But also can be found there fragrant recognitions of need. So I let go. I let go of my resumé and all the attendant demands and beliefs of what is due.

I literally wrote God and said, “I obviously will not get a job on what I have done. Will you help me in the same way you have me so many times before? With mercy?” That was the morning of the concert and the “chance” encounter with an old friend, who would show me extraordinary kindness.

Fast forward to this day – the day I write this. Today was a humiliating day. It was my first day post-training. I had to ask everyone a dozen questions because of how little I know and understand. I had to ask customers over and over to hold on while I got help. The air felt thick with embarrassment and my heart beat to rhythms of humiliation.

But as I’ve sat here thinking about it, I’m ready for it in a way I could never have been before. And to know God has been going before me in this time of humiliation is comforting. Painful, yes. But comforting all the same.