Thank God It’s Monday

Thank God it’s Monday.

Like nails on a chalkboard or Britney Spears singing the National Anthem, those words just don’t sound right.

I’ve spent most of my “22” years dreading Mondays. It usually starts on Sunday nights. Once 6 or 7pm hits, the inevitable march towards Monday morning begins. There are feelings of dread, stress, and sadness. Once Monday morning arrives, the complaining about work usually begins soon thereafter.

Lately, I’ve realized that I spend too much time complaining and just trying to survive until the weekend.

No more.

I heard an awesome message at church a few weeks ago from a guest speaker who challenged us to stop dreading Mondays, to stop complaining about work, and to stop spending our days thinking about the next big thing. Rather, he encouraged us to treat work like an opportunity to be a positive influence on others, to serve those in need, and to think of work as another way to give props to God.

Hello.

I felt convicted. I needed an attitude adjustment. So now I’m saying, “thank God it’s Monday.”

TGIM.

However, I’ll miss these two:

TGIM

The Power of the Church

“Church.”

It’s a word that has the power to evoke many different emotions.

Sadly, a lot of them are negative.

For many people, the church is a symbol of repression, discrimination, and boredom. I get it. There is a lot of bad history there and I’ve fallen asleep in church a bunch of times.

Despite the negativity, the history, and the bad stereotypes, I have a different story to tell.

A story of hope, a story of generosity, a story of love.

That is the church Jesus intended.

That is the church Jesus loved.

That is my church.

A family at our church has been going through some really tough times. The unwanted trifecta: medical issues, unemployment, and the loss of their home. They asked for prayer, so a lot of people prayed. However, I felt like we needed to do more. These folks have amazing spirits, are always willing to serve, and their church should be there to help in their time of greatest need.

It was.

In a way unlike anything I could have ever imagined.

Last fall, one of my good friends, Teddy, and I went out to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. We once lived in the same small town in Texas about 25 years ago and so we both have a passion for Mexican food. Work, technology, and to-do lists occupy so much of our time, so it was priceless to just sit down, eat tacos, and talk with a friend face-to-face.

We invited more guys from Capital City Church to join us for Mexican food the next month. We’ve gathered together every single month since last November. I started to call it “Dude Date.” About 25 of us hit up a local Mexican joint, bond over tacos, give out a coveted “Dude of the Month” award, and raise money for a different charity each month. We usually raise about $125. We also raise a lot of eyebrows when we roll into a local taco joint 25-deep on a Monday night.

The Church

Dude of the Month

These two separate stories converged last week. Instead of raising money for a charity, I decided to use this month’s Dude Date to raise money for the family at our church who needed some hope. I emailed the group of guys and asked for help. I thought we’d raise $300. I was really hoping for $500.

We raised $5,160.

(drops the mic)

(picks the mic back up because there is more to say)

I’ve never seen such unbridled generosity, enthusiasm, or love from a community. I was moved, I was shocked, I was honored to call these guys my friends and this church my home.

Most of these guys didn’t know the family we were helping. It didn’t matter. One guy said God was pounding on his heart when he heard there was a need. He gave $1,250. Someone mailed me an anonymous $800 money order. Another guy paid for everyone’s bill at last week’s Dude Date and encouraged the thirty other guys to donate to the family what they would have paid for their meal.

I gave all that money to the family today. It has felt like the week before Christmas since Monday. I was so excited for that moment. It was priceless. It was powerful. That money will be used to make sure this beloved family has a place to live.

That is the power of the church.

The church Jesus loved. The church I love.

The Power of Shame

I started writing this blog one year ago. I was feeling directionless and needed a place to coalesce my thoughts. I also hoped to make people laugh by sharing my not-so-deep thoughts about life and insignificant pop culture issues. Most of all, I wanted to use this blog to fight back against the culture of shame that permeates so much of our world.

For years, I was ensnared by the shame of my past mistakes. I was filled with regret. I felt damned to a seemingly hopeless identity and future.

Of course, I told no one.

That’s why I started this blog.

I believe that many of us are bearing burdens that are too heavy to carry alone. Those burdens have the power to crush hope. Those burdens can become our identities.

Yet, we tell no one.

Shame is a powerful force. It hurts to pull down your mask and let the world know that you don’t have it all together.

Well, neither does the rest of the world.

When I started writing about our past marriage problems, I had many people reach out to me and say they had faced similar failures, obstacles, and regrets. It was priceless to know that we were not alone and that others had fought similar battles. I just wished I had shared my story earlier.

That’s why I started this blog.

I thank God for a patient wife, a God who forgives, and two little babies who remind me that what once was broken can be restored.

The Power of Shame

All-Stars

Hi.

Tonight is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. Unfortunately, I fell a few million votes short of making one of the teams. Maybe next year.

In the interim, I’ve put together a list of some of the All-Stars in my life. This list isn’t exclusive, but just some of the names I could think up at midnight. I just want to say thanks to these people for being awesome.

Amanda M.: I’m really glad I married this lady. She makes me laugh every single day.

Steve Ellis: I’m guessing none of y’all know Steve. I don’t know Steve. However, Steve founded Chipotle. Thank you, Steve.

Paul M. and Eddie W.: These guys are some of our BFFs. They make us laugh, they are always there to help, and they are incredible cooks.

Paul and I as (unintentionally creepy) Bert and Ernie, Halloween 2013:

All Stars

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Hannah M.Hannah inspired me to start this blog. She also loves the same kind of terrible music that I enjoy.

Tom Brady: He’s won “5” Super Bowls for my beloved New England Patriots. Thank you, Tom. We should hang out again:

My mom and Amanda’s mom: Both of them have stayed with us a bunch over the first few months of our kids’ lives. Their love, support, and help have been priceless. We would not have survived without them.

Joe S.We send a lot of snarky texts. Most of them are about baseball and the horrible grammar we see people use on Facebook. It is healthy to vent somewhere.

Steve F.: More snarky texts. Most are about crazy stuff our kids do, the highs and lows of being a lawyer, and how amazing our wives are at everything. Steve also makes me feel young when we hang out because he’s much older than me.

Josh O.: I look up to this guy more than I do any of my other friends. Josh is 6’6″.

Howard and Kelly A.: Howard has been one of my BFFs for 20+ years. They are the nicest people in the world. Kelly is also really short.

Kelly and Josh:

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Terrence C.This guy drives like a thousand miles to church on Sunday. He’s a wonderful, insightful, and funny guy who I am honored to know. He also likes Mexican food.

Kim and Matt H.These two model the love of Jesus in such incredible ways. Plus, their son is absurdly cute.

Vanilla Ice: Thank you for the inspiration and the greatest work of art ever created.

Dennis and Donna P: They are such incredible pastors, mentors, and inspirations.

Ryan Zimmermann: You’ve followed me from Virginia Beach, to UVA, to DC. Thank you for the support. You are also my favorite baseball player.

Joy and Hunter W.These two are crazy. Crazy because they are willing to do whatever it takes to build an incredible church community.

Andy DunnThis guy is the reason I wear pink, yellow, green, orange, and purple pants. He founded Bonobos.

“Wear the Rainbow.”

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Chris D. and Alissa K.: These two are hilarious. They are getting married in October. I can’t wait to celebrate their lives. However, I’ve been told that I have to stay at least 20 feet away from the microphone.

Charles C.This guy constantly challenges me to be a better man, husband, and father. He is from Texas. I am too.

Brian WilliamsHe is my favorite newscaster. He is also my baseball BFF and such a wise and thoughtful friend.

Chad and Kaci C.: Their lives are crazy, but they live them out with incredible grace, composure, and humor. We want to be parents like them.

Ben I.: This guy came to church one time and was volunteering the next week. He has been such an inspiration to so many people at our church.

Ron M.Amazing man. Amazing life story. Amazing musician. Amazing beard.

John C.Very few of my guy friends love shoes as much as I do. John does. #solidarity

Jen S. and David W.I could not live the thug life without them.

My grandparents: I would not be here without them. Literally. Plus, all four are magnificent human beings.

My kids: They have changed everything. For the better.

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Okay, time to go to bed. Bye.

 

Lost and Found

In case you didn’t notice the creepy bunny at the mall or the absurd amount of yellow candy at CVS, Easter is almost here. I’m really excited about Easter this year because we’ll actually be able to go to church. It’s been five years since we’ve been to an Easter service because we were either gallivanting through Thailand or Hungary or visiting my brother in jail. I’m also really excited about Easter because I have a new pair of teal and orange shoes I want to wear.

Oh, and because I have a new appreciation for the story of forgiveness that is central to the message of Easter.

Like every human being ever, I am my own worst critic. I magnify my mistakes and replay the memories of my stupid decisions over and over again like they were Katy Perry songs on my iPhone. I’ve struggled with a lot of the same issues for so many years. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. I feel defeated, I feel like a loser, I feel condemned. Thus, if I feel that way, then God, OMG, must really feel the same. It has to be a horrible movie for Him to watch me screw up again and again (but it is still a better movie than Cloud Atlas; that was a waste of three hours this week). I feel like the weight of my mistakes is so heavy and my shame so great that I am unworthy of God’s grace.

And then Luke 15 slaps me all up in the head. In this chapter, Jesus tells three stories:

The first is about a sheep that got lost from the herd. Jesus emphasizes that a single sheep is so valuable to the shepherd that he will leave all the other sheep to find the dumb one that went astray. After he finds it, the shepherd invites all his friends over to celebrate the return of his lost sheep. I’ve been to a few awkward parties over the years, but a “I Found My Sheep” party sounds like the worst. Despite that, I still love this story.

The second story in Luke 15 is essentially the same as the tale of the lost sheep, but it is about a lost coin. Thus, there is less poop and fleas, but still the same awkward party at the end to celebrate finding the lost coin.

Finally, there is the story of the prodigal son. I like this one the most because sometimes it is hard to relate to a sheep or coin. However, a dude who lived it up, made some poor life decisions, and found himself full of regret and laying face down in the mud, yea, I get that. Although the prodigal son blew a bunch of his dad’s money on booze and prostitutes, the dad still welcomes his son back with open arms. Yep, the son screwed up. A lot. Yep, he hit rock bottom. Yep, pops still threw a rocking party to celebrate the fact that his son came home. It didn’t matter that the son was filthy. He was home.

I love these stories because they remind me (1) that we should throw more parties; (2) that God isn’t up there excitedly waiting to smack me down each time I screw up; and (3) my mistakes will never be too great for His grace.

I am the sheep.  I am the lost coin.  I am the prodigal son.

I am also hungry for some McDonald’s breakfast. BRB.

Purpose

I’m a big believer in the ideal that we each have a purpose in life. I think there is a God-designed narrative out there for all of us where we can have the greatest possible impact on this world. It might be something you discover during your teen years or you might be an immature 30-year-old attorney who is still trying to figure out what he wants to do when he “grows up.”

I’ve been trying to discover my purpose for most of the past decade. I’ve desperately hoped for the indisputable answer written across the sky that points me in the right direction. However, God doesn’t seem to work like that. If the answer is quick and obvious, you’ll learn nothing from the journey.

I just wish the journey wasn’t so long.

Of course, there have been months and years during the past decade when I pushed these types of questions to the side because of exams, busy times at work, and episodes of “Flavor of Love.” However, I’ve thought about these issues every single day for the past two years.

This is a challenging issue because stepping into your purpose usually takes a lot of hard work and I don’t have much free time to be running some kind of side hustle.  Additionally, this also gets tricky because I have a number of different passions, including music, fashion, and Chipotle, but I don’t think any of them are my purpose (unless there is a burrito tester job out there).

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve finally discovered my purpose. However, I am getting closer. I’ve recently realized that there are two things in life that bring me the most joy (other than Chihuahuas, gummy bears, and baseball):

  • making people laugh; and
  • standing on a stage with a microphone.

I would have said the exact same thing ten years ago. However, those feelings have been buried by the stresses and to-do lists of life. Thankfully, our church gives me an opportunity to MC services sometimes, where I have an opportunity to (1) stand on a stage, (2) hold a microphone, and (3) tell cheesy jokes. Doing those things illuminates a spark within me that is unlike anything else I’ve experienced. It just feels right. 

Thus, I need to do it more.  I want to do it more.

Oh, back to that whole fear thing.

For the past two years, I’ve wanted to try stand-up comedy. I’m a pretty outgoing guy, but the thought of bombing in some sketchy nightclub is paralyzing. Well, it’s time to get over that mess. I want to try it. I need to try it.

I’m going to try it.

This year.

That’s partially why I’ve been posting lots of random, and hopefully humorous, Facebook status updates in recent weeks:

Old

Toxic

Taco Bell

Ninja Turtles

Target

I love to laugh at life, both the beauty and the awkwardness. And it’s time to sign up for some comedy classes and talk about the wonders of life on stage. Again, I’m terrified about that idea, but now the three of you who are reading this can help keep me accountable.

Thanks.

Awkward White Guy Rap – Britney Spears

We all have a Fountain of Youth, a Moby Dick, or a Holy Grail that seems unattainable, uncatchable, and unreachable.  It might be those last five pounds you just can’t shed, running a six-minute mile, or beating the fiftieth level of Candy Crush.

For me, it was performing a Britney Spears song.

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No longer.

Due to the help of one amazing singer (Jen!), a spirited violinist and his flashy blue violin (Jackie!), and two uber-cool brothers (Dave and Phil!) who make up one-half of an amazing band (The Unlikely Hero!), I found my Holy Grail this past weekend.

Thanks for watching!

A special thanks to Jen, Jackie, Dave, and Phil for making this video possible!  Huge thanks to Paul A. for letting us use his camera and for Capital City Church for letting us jam in the office to film this silly video.  Finally, thanks to Britney Spears for the inspiration.

Seriously, watch The Unlikely Hero video linked above.  They are so good.

Oh, and this video helps explain my Facebook post from Thursday:

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