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.

Everyday Heroes: My Wife

Hi, world.

This is Amanda.

20140228-092218.jpg

Amanda is my wife. Amanda is my best friend.

Amanda is my hero.

For SO many reasons.

Amanda is 37 weeks pregnant. She has fourteen pounds of babies growing, squirming, and kicking inside her.

She went to work today.

I’ve told her for weeks that she should take her leave early and just rest.

But that’s not Amanda.

She is always working, always knocking out to-do lists, always hustlin’ to complete the tasks that need to get done.

She is always thinking about others.

Amanda has worked in public schools in Fairfax for the past eight years. She spent seven of those years as a special education teacher. Her passion for those kids was remarkable. She never gave up on them and never judged them by their disabilities.

She’s always treated me the same way.

I have done a lot of dumb stuff, made too many mistakes, told a lot of bad jokes, and I have some weird eccentricities. I have dragged Amanda to two Britney Spears concerts and two Backstreet Boys concerts. We went to WWE Monday Night Raw on the night of our first anniversary.  I have worn silly mini-shorts, every color of pants imaginable, and I spend too much money on sneakers. I make dumb music videos and yell a lot during sporting events.

Despite all that, never once has she judged me, mocked me, or walked ten feet behind me so people wouldn’t know we were together. Being yourself is a critical part of any healthy relationship and Amanda helps make that possible for me. She has helped me become a better man, even if it has taken a lot longer than she probably hoped. She is more than I deserve.

Amanda is my hero.

Bye.

The Mistakes of Marriage

The Groove

Other than the horrifying beatdown*** the Patriots are enduring as I write this on Sunday night, it was a great weekend.

I got to hang out with awesome friends from Capital City Church as we showed a little love to some rad kids who are living in one of DC’s homeless shelters.  There was lots of football, plenty of great food, and endless laughs.

Plus, an epic battle for little league football coaching supremacy.

Me and my boy Eric have known each other since the days when Ricky Martin was “Living la Vida Loca” and the Backstreet Boys were “Want[ing] it That Way.”  We put our 13-year friendship to the test on Saturday as our teams squared off on the gridiron.

Eric and Andrew

We tried to look hard, but you know, we’re from Virginia Beach.

Thug Life

I told my team there were three rules: (1) don’t get into a fight; (2) have fun; and (3) bust out some sick dance moves when you score a touchdown.  They did all three of those things.  One kid did a somersault after an incredible 30-yard touchdown run.  Good job, bro.

My “blue” team eventually toppled their “maroon” counterparts with a dramatic game-winning rushing touchdown as time expired.  I decided to sit out the next game to ensure that I went out on top and because I was way too hyped about a bunch of eight-year-olds playing flag football and I was worried about having a stroke.

The Groove

Our pre-game jumping jacks helped us develop the stamina we needed during our game-winning touchdown drive.

Jumping Jacks

More important than any win or loss, it was such a beautiful experience hanging with these kids. I just tried to be a positive, authentic, and goofy guy when interacting with these little dudes and dudettes.  It was one of those awesome, and rare, moments when I felt like I was doing exactly what I’m on Earth to do.  By the end of the day, the kids were repeatedly screaming my name to show off their juke moves and passing skills.  In addition to coaching them to gridiron glory, I chased them around.  A lot. Today, I can barely move.  However, the aches and pains were definitely worth it.  Especially because some of the kids thought I was the real Tom Brady.

Thanks, dudes.

We also picked up some cool baby gear this weekend.  Cribs, a dresser, chairs, and all that jazz. More importantly, some new threads:

Onesie Tie

“Amanda” insisted that we buy these little onesies…

Cute Onsies

In addition to those football and fashion throwdowns, we also had a food extavaganza on Friday night with some dear friends.  We had a lot of gift cards and treated some friends to a “nice” dinner.  Amanda is obsessed with Olive Garden and wanted to indulge in the culinary offerings of that “authentic” Italian restaurant.  As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of the OG, but she was happy and we had so much fun hanging out for hours and laughing way too much (mostly at Amanda and her passion for Olive Garden).

Olive Garden

Saturday night was also a blast. We got to hang out with 20+ friends from college while eating way too much fried turkey and pumpkin pie.  It is such a rewarding experience being able to keep in touch with people we’ve been friends with for the past 12 years.  Life has changed a lot since 2001, but I’m so thankful that we’re still on this journey together.

Last, and certainly least, I also tried a Pumpkin Spice Latte for the first time on Friday.  It tasted like someone squirted fake pumpkin-flavored chemicals out of a bottle and into a cup of coffee.  Oh, right, that’s exactly what happened.  Eww.

PSL

***Okay, the Patriots scored 28 straight points after I turned off the TV to write this post….and…we just won.  Holler.