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.

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:

photo.PNG

The Christmas Miracle

Christmas is almost here!

Almost…

Almost Christmas

That means it’s time to spend priceless moments with family, eat way too much food, and pretend to like presents that are actually pretty weird.  For me, it’s also a time to be thankful for the wonderful miracle of Christmas.  It’s a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the fact that God took the form of a human (who sometimes wore tuxedo t-shirts) to restore a severed relationship with humanity.  Slightly less important, I was able to overcome a severed relationship with the gym and fit into these Christmas pants:

Bonobos Miracle

(They will be appearing at one of our church’s Christmas services this Sunday.  Hopefully they do not rip on stage.)

I’m also thrilled to announce another Christmas miracle!

I got a new pair of shoes!

The Christmas Miracle

I don’t think I’ve ever loved something so much in my entire life.  (Sorry, Amanda, but I’ve got to keep it real.)  Infinite thanks to my thoughtful, incredible, and talented friend Paul who spotted these fly Sperry kicks at DSW and knew I’d love them.  Although finding something as beautiful as those shoes is a miracle in and of itself, the price Paul paid for those bad boys makes getting those shoes the biggest miracle in DC since the Redskins actually made the playoffs last year:

$1.05!!!

DSW Receipt

In short, thanks to Jesus, Bonobos, my thighs, DSW, Sperry, and Paul for helping me believe in Christmas.

The Weekend

Well, folks, Monday is knocking at our door again.  My initial reaction to that news is to break down crying.  However, I’m going to try to stay positive and make the most of this workweek.  We got this.  Yo.

Before I dive back into the exciting world of Outlook calendar invites, Excel spreadsheets, and the occasional PowerPoint presentation, I wanted to highlight why this weekend was awesome:

1.  I did no work.

2.  We went to a rocking first birthday party for Big Daddy Zane.  Zane’s parents, Josh and Avery-Lynn, are some of our dearest friends.  Hanging with cool babies like Zane and “Fresh Prince” Will Smith(son) have helped make me less terrified about having kids.  Avery-Lynn did an amazing job decorating and cooking for the party.  Never underestimate the power of The Hyphen.

Here’s an example of Zane’s coolness.  He has a talk show.

3.  I ate some stellar fajitas at an awesome Colombian Christmas party hosted by Natalia on Friday night.  This epic throwdown was at Sol Mexican Grill on H Street.  Natalia used this fun and festive event to raise more than $200 for DC Doors, a non-profit that serves the Latino homeless community in the DC area.  You go, guuuuurl!

Amanda (+ two babies), Natalia, Ashley, and Ryan Gosling
The Weekend

4.  The Christmas Tea.  Although I’ve been going to Capital City Church for nearly five years, this was my first time rocking out at the “Beautiful You” Christmas Tea.  I shouldn’t have waited so long.  It was a stunningly beautiful event.  More importantly, it was so inspiring to hear Christine Caine share stories about the work the A21 Campaign is doing around the world to fight human trafficking.  Of course, like any respectable Christmas event, tacos were involved:

District Taco

Props to Kerry for generously paying for everyone’s lunch after I jokingly thanked him for picking up the tab.  We should go car shopping together.  I tried to pay his generosity forward by buying tacos for the two ladies in line behind me.  They were pretty stoked, but also confused.

Here’s some more Beautiful Dudes who helped out at the Christmas Tea:

Beautiful Dudes

5.  I liked this incredible Christmas tree at The Willard Hotel.  A lot.

The Willard

I also liked this girl:

McCormicks

6.  My dear friend Hannah posted an amazing series of photos showing her adventures with a gingerbread man named Stefan over the weekend.  You need to follow her on Instagram (@lovehannxoxo) to check out ridiculousness like this:

Stefan

7.  It was fun hanging out (and laughing) with these two:

Teresa and Amanda

That is Amanda, my wife, and Teresa, not my wife. However, Teresa and her husband, Marcel, have been incredible new additions to the Cap City Church family.

8. I got to see this guy:

alex

(I see you posing like you’re not posing.)

9.  I ate a lot of Oreos.

Oreos

Thus, I decided to make a music video about it.  Coming soon.

10.  I got to rock out at our church’s DC site today.  I usually hang out at the CapCityKingstowne location, but I had a blast getting funky with the DC crowd.  Christine Caine shared an incredible message about making the most of your current situation instead of always looking towards the next “best” thing.  That’s always been something I’ve struggled with, so it was a wonderful reminder.  I also made my second Miley Cyrus joke while MCing a church service.  That’s a win.

11.  Most importantly, this photobomb:

Photobomb

Thanks for reading!  Have a wonderful week!

Thankful

Christmas and Halloween are pretty rad, but Thanksgiving is the Britney Spears of holidays.  

Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  Yo.

There is amazing food, endless football, and it’s not out-of-control crazy like Christmas.  Most importantly, it’s an amazing time of reflection and gratitude.

Our 2013 Thanksgiving Family Photo
Thankful

Things will look a little different next year.

Oh, and I can eat SO much pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving and not even feel that bad about it.

Thankful5

Back to the “important” stuff.  Being thankful and junk.

Here’s what I’m most thankful for in 2013:

-A God who forgives.  I desperately need that.  All the time.

-A wife who is patient and doesn’t reject my pleas to help film “music” videos.

Awkward White Guy Rap - Lose Yourself - Eminem

-The dude(tte) who invented selfies.

Thankful3

Thankful7

-Creative friends.

Bert and Ernie

-A little boy and a little girl.

Sonogram

Sriracha.  I put that stuff on everything.

-Jordans

Jordans

-Baby Jordans.

Baby Jordans

-The new fro-yo place by my office.

-The new fro-yo place by my house.

Justin Timberlake.  “Mirrors” was my jam this year.

-My new brother-in-law.  Now I don’t feel like a third wheel when Amanda and her sister hang out.

steven

-A job where I can be myself

-A church that encourages me to become a better version of myself

-Tom Brady.  Thanks for standing ten feet away from me in January.  It was fun hanging out with you.  (It counts.)

-Sparkling water

-The heroes who come to our Cap City Church small group.  Y’all are nuts, but you are encouraging and entertaining individuals who I don’t want to do life without.

-“Wrecking Ball.”  This was the best song of 2013.  Hopefully I didn’t ruin it.

-The Mexican and Peruvian restaurants by our house.

Thankful7

-Razors

razor

Hannah M., Brian W., Matt C., Jon Acuff, and Taylor Swift.  You all inspired and encouraged me to start writing this blog.  Thanks.  Now, you must apologize to the rest of the world.

-The people who read this blog.  It means the world to me and I am so grateful for you.

-Red pants

redpants

-My Virginia Beach friends.  Yes, our city can be a little cheesy.  Yes, it can be a little trashy.  However, it’s an amazing place to grow up.  Plus, it’s full of spectacular people.

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-All my friends.  Thanks for the encouragement and the laughs.

-My BFFs who decided to marry each other.

howardandkelly

-Beaches in winter

-The people who actually watch my dumb “rap” videos.  They have gotten 40,000 hits on YouTube over the past few months.  That makes me a little scared for humanity.  However, ease up on the mean YouTube comments.  We have feelings too!

-Kelly Kapowski

-Silly friends

Stop Yelling

Chubbies Shorts

-Cheesy baby stuff

Halloween Shirt

-My red Puma coat.  I’m biased, but it’s pretty dope.

Eric and Andrew

-Taco Bell.  I want you everyday.

-Getting every penny back from our trip to Toronto that was cancelled at the last second due to a blizzard.

-Going crazy for Amanda’s 30th birthday by building her a tower of 30 presents.

amanda gifts

-Being alive

-Powdered donuts

-Game nights

twister

-The Washington Nationals.  The 2013 season was disappointing, but we still had fun.

lombo

-Haribo gummy bears

-Haribo everything else

-Our flower beds.  It was fun feeling like an old man each morning I watered the beautiful flowers and plants Paul, Eddie, and Chris planted.

Nando’s Peri Peri.  If you’ve never been, go immediately.  Eat everything.

Bonobos

bonobos

-UVA’s basketball team.  Thanks for helping me heal from a disastrous UVA football season.

-“Cruise” by Florida-Georgia Line and Nelly.  I love this song.  A lot.

-My bicycle

-Not crashing on my bike at all in 2013

-Family

-Sunrises

-Sunsets

-Chips and salsa

-Jack Link’s beef jerky

…and…most importantly…

My dog

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Oh, and Zack Morris.  Thanks for the inspiration, bro.

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.

Three Simple Rules

I hate it when things are unnecessarily complicated. “LOST” was a brilliant show until it fell victim to complex spiritual motifs and complicated story lines. I also disliked the confusing moments in relationships when I was quasi-dating someone.

“Hey, John. Good to see you, dude. This is my, uhhhh, my, uhhhh, girlfriend Amanda.”

That’s awkward.

Most of all, Christianity has become way too complicated. Although the Bible is crazy long, there are really only three simple rules:

(1) Love God
(2) Love everyone else
(3) Love football

If you agree with any of those “rules” and live in the DC area, we should kick it on Saturday.

And pass it.  And run it.  And bounce it.

Capital City Church is organizing a huge program to help serve some of the people in our nation’s capital who have no place to live.  We’ll be serving food and organizing all sorts of games and activities for the kids who live at DC’s homeless shelters.  There’s even a flag football tournament, which will be won by the team I’m coaching.  However, we could use some more stellar volunteers to coach the other teams, ref the games, and do all sorts of other awesome stuff.  We’ll be rocking out from 10am until 5pm.  Even if you only have a free hour, come on down to the Rosedale Recreation Center (1701 Gales St. NE) on Saturday and show a little love to the community.

Nope, we’re not going to cure homelessness with one day of service.  However, we hope that hanging with these kids will remind them that someone cares.

Oh, and there will be a moon bounce.

If you’d like to volunteer, you can let me know or shoot an email to Steve, one of my BFFs (even though he denies knowing me in public), at steve@bethelovecampaign.org.

We hope to see you there!

Here are a few pictures from another epic Capital City Church service day:

Three Simple Rules

Three Simple Rules (2)

Three Simple Rules (3)

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…and hopefully Saturday’s event goes better than this…

Awkward Homeless

Everyday Heroes: Ron DMC

2013 has been a really special year.  I turned 30, found out I was going to be a babydaddy, later discovered I was having twins, and I finally got to see the Rolling Stones in concert.  Most importantly, I got a bunch of new Jordans.

Oh, and I met this incredible dude named Ron.

Everyday Heroes - Ron DMC

You may recognize him:

That video has gotten more than 4,000 hits on YouTube.  That sort of scares me.

In addition to his beautiful “falsetto” T-Swift voice, I love that Ron wears boots every single day.  If you try to put Ron in a box, he will use those boots to break those walls down.  He loves Jesus, but he also loves tattoos.  He rocks out to heavy metal music, but never misses an episode of “Gossip Girl.”  Ron is a tough military guy, but he spends more time fixing his hair than any other guy.  Ever.

Ron SelfieRon is also a veteran.  While movies and video games are the closest most of us will get to experiencing the horrors of war, Ron has witnessed it up close and personal. He’s lost friends.  He’s also struggled with depression, drugs, and divorce.  Less than a year ago, he tried to take his own life.

Now’s he the lead guitarist at Capital City Church’s new Kingstown site and one of my best friends.  Sadly, he’s leaving DC for music school in a few months.  Although I’ve only known Ron since April, he’s already meant so much to me.  We have a pretty sweet bromance and I will miss him.  A lot.  Ron has seen the best of life, but he’s also seen the transforming power of redemption, hope, and change.  When I have doubts about my own faith, Ron’s story reminds me why I believe.

He’s hilarious, he’s energetic, and he’s a perfectionist.  Both with his hair and his guitar game.  Ron makes everyone around him better.  In fact, he makes the entire world better.  Although I didn’t have a chance to interview all seven billion people on Earth, here’s what a random sample of eight really smart people had to say about Ron:

Eileen (@eileenwild): “What I appreciate about Ron is that he does life with his heart ‘all in.’  Whether it is meetings, music, or friendships, nothing is done halfway or without his contagious joy.  This one thing is for sure:  when Ron walks into a room, everything just got better.”

Ron Sky

Gio (@gio32r):  “Ron is a perfect example of God’s love.  His heart came in a box full of gift and talents.  His heart is big and willing to serve.  Mi amigo Ron eres el mejor.  You are the best, my friend.”  

Hannah (@lovehannxoxo):  “Ron is the coolest.  He is not only literally a rockstar, but he also has an incredible heart to see people connect to God and is willing to do just about anything to see that happen.  On top of that, he’s fun, can sing Taylor Swift (and everything else!), and can save your life if you’re choking or fall off of a curb.”  (Ron is also an EMT.  And Hannah is kind of clumsy.)

Jeff (@jefforzo):  “Ron is very inspirational in his tendency to dive in headfirst when he’s involved in something.  He puts himself in places where God can activate his passion and creativity, and it’s awesome to witness.”

Ron and Orzos

Ben (@benevans01):  “Ron’s a hero because he’s not just one person. He’s a talented musician, God-loving citizen who cares for everyone.  He’s also a friend who will do anything for the ones he loves and calls friends.  Doing those things aren’t easy in today’s negative-minded society, but that’s why he’s a hero!”

Alicia (@aliciaorzo):  “Ron is an encourager.  He is always working to get people excited and he is the first to “like” everything!  He brings the mood wherever he is!”

Ashley (@ashmichelley):  “Ron keeps me in stitches. And when I’m not laughing at/with him, I’m just feeling honored to call him a friend.  He’s a true worshiper who has a great head on his shoulders!” 

Amanda (@ajmccormick1):  “He’s cool.”

Ron guitar

Ron has survived life’s toughest and darkest challenges.  When I see Ron singing and playing guitar, I’m reminded that life is a miraculous and precious gift.  It is also remarkable to watch Ron play guitar and see someone doing exactly what they were born to do.

If you want to learn more about Ron, his guitar game, or his sweet hair, you should follow him on Instagram at @imronmillward.  Seriously.  Do it.

Bye, Weekend.

What’s up, November?!  You kind of snuck up on me, bro.

Although I had to work quite a bit and UVA’s football team continues to crush my heart each Saturday, it was still a fantastic weekend.  I hope you can say the same.  Here’s what I loved the most about this past weekend:

Bye, Weekend.  I Miss You

1.  I got to rock out with three amazing friends on Saturday.  Like the typical DC weekend, we made a rap video.  Other than my twin babies, it is my favorite thing I’ve ever made.  Seriously.  I’ve done a lot of cheesy musical performances over the years.  This one is actually good.  I hope.

2.  Halloween candy is still plentiful around our house.

3.  We had some folks over on Thursday for a non-party Halloween party.  It was fun catching up with old friends, meeting some new ones, and eating way too much food.

4.  I’m a 30-year-old attorney.  I spent Friday night playing a wrestling video game with two other legal professionals who are also present/future fathers.  Yep, we’re a mature and classy bunch.  Oh, and I also got to hang out with my super fly goddaughter.  Unfortunately, her parents separated us because I was “allegedly” teaching her “bad” things.  Whatever.

The Reach

5.  I caught up with a remarkable friend from dear ole’ UVA.  Seriously, he is the coolest and most interesting guy I’ve ever known (other than Justin Timberlake).  Hopefully we will break our streak of only seeing each other once every two years.  I hate it when life gets so busy that you can’t truly enjoy life.

6.  I got some new kicks.  I know the Bible says idolatry is bad, but I think Jesus would make an exception for Jordans.

Jordans7.  Speaking of Jesus, Pastor Dennis crushed an awesome message at Capital City Church about reaching the potential each of us has inside us and not being burdened by the heavy, confusing, and complicated yoke of religion.

8.  Our dear friends Eddie and Paul had a killer Halloween party.  I met so many wonderful people, ate so much incredible salsa, and plowed through twenty Double Stuf Oreos. I regretted two of those decisions the next morning.  Paul, who is a creative genius, had the fun idea that we should be Bert and Ernie for Halloween.  Although we looked like nightmarish versions of those beloved Sesame Street characters, it was still fun!

9.  The Patriots won.

10.  We’re one day closer to college basketball season.

Have a blessed week!