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25 (Give Or Take A Few) Random Things About My Life

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So I’m sure you’ve seen that massively popular “25 Random Things About Me” thing going around on Facebook. I usually hate things of that nature, but I actually did one of them for once. I’m glad I did. I had the opportunity to do a lot of introspective thinking and withdrew a lot of thoughts I didn’t think I’d ever share publicly. It was fun. I put a lot of time and thought into it, probably more than I should have.

– There are few things I love more than mid-’90s music. It’s some of the best stuff in the world and there will never be music made the same way again. So much of “today’s” pop music is just trash. Either way, I’m a music nut and know every word to way too many songs.

– As a follow-up to the first point, when I meet the girl that makes me feel what mid-’90s music makes me feel like, I’ve found my soul mate.

– I crank up my XM Radio and shamelessly belt my heart out in the car, singing as loudly as possible. People passing me on the road undoubtedly think I’m insane (or that I’m yelling at them), but I couldn’t care less.

– On that note, I’m not ashamed to admit that I really love Alanis Morrissette.

– I run DowntownShortPump.com because I have always loved everything about Short Pump since Broad Street was a two lane road and there was nothing here but farms and trees (literally).

– On that note, the one thing I don’t like about Short Pump at times are the people. I can’t stand living in Wyndham. I’ve been here since I was 11 years old and always judged for living here, despite the fact that my whole family has never fit in because we’re not like them and don’t go parade around with material things like some of our neighbors do. Some of the most rude people I’ve ever met go to The Dominion Club (also in Wyndham). I go there, too because I like the club itself. However, the people make the place, so…

– I’ve been a “Christian” since I was 7 or 8, but I’ve just recently started to become a Christ follower. There’s a huge difference. It’s amazing how your life changes when you realize you’re talking the talk but not really walking the walk below the surface. I did that for years, looking back on it. I’m making a genuine effort to live up to what I say I am now.

– Despite owning my own business and theoretically having dozens of dreams to build my future on, some days I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. Either that or I have so much “creative clutter” in my head I can’t think straight about anything.

– I don’t really like to watch or play any sports besides bowling and putt-putt (hey, they’re sports in MY book) and I’m okay with that.

– I have always been slightly OCD… ever since I can remember… but not enough for it to have ever affected me in an overtly-negative way.

– I don’t drink, despite the fact that 95% of everyone my age does. It used to bother me that people actually looked down on me for this, but now I’m completely confident in my decision. That’s not to say I’m opposed to drinking, I just have a problem with the fact that some people look forward to blacking out all week. What a way [not] to live.

– I’ve always secretly wanted to own my own radio station, or at least do voiceovers/be an announcer. I can also do all sorts of voices like Ahhnold, Scooby Doo, etc. and some of you that’ve heard them probably think they’re pretty scary. Wish I could find a use for that stuff…

– I love sushi more than I even care to admit. I wish more of my friends liked it because I’ll go every chance I get to eat it. There’s no food that compares to freshly prepared sushi.

– I’m neither a Republican nor Democrat, and frankly politics drive me crazy. While I have more conservative than liberal viewpoints, I’m pretty much in the middle of the spectrum and vote for the person, NOT the party.

– I’m not into surface level conversation or small talk. I like getting below the surface and having deep discussions about life, and getting to know what’s on people’s hearts, NOT just their minds.

– On that note, I love listening to people and their problems. It becomes a burden sometimes, but I get a lot of joy out of [trying] to help people solve issues. Even if I don’t give the best advice, I’m always willing to lend an ear.

– The Outer Banks is my second home and I’ve always contemplated living there. Although one time I went in the dead of Winter and the place was a cold, windy, bleak, deserted island. It may get old in the Winter if you lived there year-round.

– I’m one of the most laid-back people you’ll ever meet. Most of my friends have mentioned to me now and then that they’ve never seen me mad. It takes a whole lot. The problem with that is sometimes people get mad at ME because they mistake my laid-backness as not caring. It’s not that I don’t care about things, I just try not to get stressed out about them.

– On the contrary, I’m really outgoing and talkative. Especially late at night. When I get sleepy, I start getting kind of crazy sometimes.

– I’m a morning person. I’ve never needed an alarm clock. I don’t own one. I’m really weird- I have a built in clock in my head I guess because no matter what time I go to bed, I always wake up really early. I think the latest I’ve ever slept in was 9:30. I feel like if I’m asleep after 7:30 or 8:00 I’m wasting my day. I physically can’t sleep in. Then again this leads to the aforementioned problem of getting crazy when I’m out at night and sleepy.

– I love hanging out at coffee houses (shout out to Daily Grind), but I hate coffee. I love tea though, go figure.

– I go to other coffee houses because I can’t stand Starbucks (I go RARELY). Or Walmart for that matter. They’re both bad, bad companies that cause more harm than good in this world in more ways than one, in my humble opinion.

– I don’t think I’ve been bored anytime in recent memory. Maybe a few years. I can always entertain myself and am usually busy with something anyway. Even if I’m not, I’m always thinking about stuff, so I really never get bored.

– Problem with the above thing is I tend to over-analyze stuff sometimes.

– My perfect night out is dinner, a movie, and chatting at a coffee house. I don’t really enjoy parties that much, but I’ll go from time to time.

– When I was little, I used to be afraid of the wind and things that were hollow, such as chocolate Easter bunnies. (I think this one gets the random statement award).

– I’m a closet geek, in the sense that you wouldn’t walk up to me and be able to tell I was into tech stuff, but just under the surface, I’m a hardcore Apple/Mac fanatic and can fix most computer problems if you give me enough time.

Christmas 2008: A Light In The Darkness

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christmas2008These are tough times in our country and in our world. The economy is in turmoil and uncertainty abounds. Countless businesses that have been around for decades, and some for more than a century, have gone out of business or are in bankruptcy. People have lost their jobs, their houses, their life savings, and their dignity. It’s clearly the worst time our country has had economically since the Great Depression.

I’ll have to admit that the time leading up to Christmas didn’t feel the same this year. Things are just different this year. Not just in the economy, country, and world, but also in my life and my world. My life has changed very significantly since this time last year. I’ve changed my ways of thinking, my ways of doing things, and pretty much anything else you can think of. I have a new job, a lot of new friends, I’m going to a new church, and I have a new, much more positive, outlook on life.

I guess, reflecting on the matter, the reason why the season didn’t feel the same as years past was not because I’ve become more of an adult, but because I’m a big fan of tradition, for one. We’ve always had our family Christmas traditions, and we haven’t done as many of them as in years past. I’ve also become very busy with work, school, and starting up my own business. It just feels like there’s no time to soak in the spirit of the season and enjoy the holidays this year.

I tried to “un-busy” myself by not putting up as many Christmas lights at the house this year (I usually string them up like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation), and focus on what’s important. I have done that more, but still found myself incredibly busy with other things.

No matter what, though, I always get that same wonderful Christmas feeling in my heart at least a few days before Christmas Day. I’m totally in the spirit now. Everything in life has changed for me, but I find comfort and joy in the fact that Christmas will never lose its meaning, significance, or specialness to me. It may be that I don’t completely feel it for the whole season anymore because of how busy life has gotten, but Christmas itself will always be the same.

The reason for Christmas has become even more meanful to me as I’ve started to study the bible more and grow even more in my Christian journey, and it’s really cool to be able to focus more wholeheartedly on the “reason for the season.” God bless everyone, thanks for reading my blog throughout the year, and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Following Christ: Duty Or Delight?

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I was incredibly inspired by the sermon this morning at Redemption Hill Church. There were so many things packed into one half-hour message it was amazing. The first question posed was a very thought-provoking one: Is following Jesus a duty that you perform or a delight that you have? It’s a very, very good question, and one that I never really gave much thought to.

How many of us have gone to church all our lives and never really stopped to think about why? It sounds strange, but chew on that for a second. I think we can become complacent over time and even start going for the wrong reasons, whether we think it’s just because we’re supposed to or to gain the acceptance of others, or a plethora of other reasons.

I feel that I’ve been this way throughout my walk with Christ for far too long. It’s only been recently, through the sermons and small groups of Redemption Hill, that I’ve really examined myself to see my true motives for why I do what I do. What I’ve found is that for at least the past 3-5 years, I’ve made going to church more of a dutiful thing than a delight. The thing I’ve come to realize is that once you really take a look at how God is working in your life and helping you to become the person you’re supposed to be, you’re filled with a sense of joy unlike anything else in this world. As that’s happened to me over the past month or so, I’ve begun to take great delight in both attending church and striving to live my life in a way that honors God. I have an understanding of myself and of God that I’ve never quite had before, and it’s a beautiful thing.

The next question that was posed was also a good one: Do you follow Jesus hoping that he’ll love you? What difference would it make for you to follow Jesus because He loves you? How is the source of motivation different? This is a powerful question. As human beings, we tend think that if we do more things that please God, He will love and accept us more, when in fact this is totally backwards. Jesus loves each and every person unconditionally, no matter their situation or how much (or little) they honor Him with their lives. The basic message of Christianity is Christ’s love, and this is the foundation of that principle.

Once we fully understand these two questions fully, I think we’re more inclined to delight in following Christ. I know it’s completely changed my outlook. We’re also more inclined to spread the love and joy of Jesus once we realize our glory is secured by the fact that Christ has died for us, and not based on how we follow Him. That’s not to say we shouldn’t live God-honoring lives. That’s paramount, but all too often this is the only message that is conveyed about Christianity. The message posed in these two questions is the one I think needs to be shared more often with non-Christians. Unconditional acceptance and love is the quintessential meaning of Jesus.

Finding A New Church Home

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I’d like to preface this post by saying I started going to the church I attended up until this Sunday in mid-2003. There’s no need to mention its name to the masses here on the Interweb because this isn’t meant to be a knock on them. That being said, some of you from Redemption Hill probably know where I’ve been attending. I’d like to share my church history with you all to help you understand what point I’m at in my life and walk with Christ. It’s a bit long, but I hope you’ll take the time to read it.

I’ve considered myself a Christian since I was old enough to understand what it meant, maybe a little older. But only recently have I understood what it means to be a follower of Christ. I’ve grown to understand that Christian and Christ follower are not synonymous, contrary to my thinking for years. Anyone can say they’re Christian, but there are a lot of people that fail to back up this statement with the way they live out their lives. Anyone can “talk the talk,” but a smaller number actually “walk the walk.”

I feel like I’ve been one of those people. Sure, I’ve always gone to church most every Sunday, I pray, and consider myself a pretty good person. But lately I’ve really taken the time to examine myself and my actions, and realized that those things, while good, aren’t nearly enough. Truth be told, I’ve never actually read the Bible in any depth before. That’s probably the biggest thing, and I guess that’s because I’ve never connected with a small group that’s motivated me to take my faith to the next level. Truth be told, it was always difficult to connect with anyone in the congregation at my former church, my age or otherwise. The people always seemed cold to a certain extent, even when I made a concious effort to connect with them. It was just the demeaner of the church, I suppose.

Throughout my half-decade at this particular church, I began to get heavily involved in several ministry teams. I started by running the on-screen lyrics and video in the back of the auditorium. I then transitioned to the multimedia team, where I helped edit videos that the church produced to coincide with the coming week’s Sunday morning message. I found this work very rewarding at first, mainly because I saw how people were touched, and even came to Christ, on various occasions after seeing the end result of our production efforts. But after a while, I started to get burnt out and realized I wasn’t volunteering for the right reasons anymore.

I was basically volunteering my time because I was pressured to do so by others and because I felt obligated. I therefore no longer received the joy that came from seeing how peoples’ lives were touched by our productions. I took some time off from my duties to take a step back and see if it was what the Lord was calling me to do or not. I didn’t get an answer right away, but that didn’t mean He wasn’t listening to my prayers. Everything is done in God’s time, not ours, which I think we all fail to remember from time to time.

To make an incredibly long story a bit shorter, it was when I returned to the ministry that I realized it was not where God wanted me to be. The Technology Director, whom I worked under, and I had major personality differences. He, as well with most leaders of this organization, are very rigid, structured people who focus on putting on a big, polished production every Sunday. I, on the other hand, am very laid back and not into the high-pressure environment that encompassed the church. I also felt that it got to the point where there was much more focus put on aesthetics and putting on a show than nurturing personal relationships with Christ. The church is run very much like a corporate office.

I do realize that the goal of this church is to reach people who have always been turned off to church, never liked it, or would otherwise never give it a chance. At the same time, though, I think too much attention was put on bringing new people in, and not enough was put on fostering growth of those already there. The “turnover rate” that I’ve seen clearly exhibits this.

I started feeling the same way. My soul hungered for more than the church was providing. I even attended a few small groups but didn’t seem to connect with the people or the curriculum. But I still talked with Kamen, who I met when we volunteered together at this church in the video production team, on a regular basis, and he told me about Redemption Hill. Before long I decided to give it a try.

I’ve visited Redemption Hill 3 times, and I just have to say I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. The first morning I walked into Linwood Holton Elementary, I didn’t know what to expect. My family is still attending the other church, so I came by myself, and sat in the back. Not even a minute or two later, three people my age had come by and said hello, and before I knew it there was a whole group surrounding me. These people took me in and treated me just as if we’d been friends for years. It may not be a big deal to people who are used to that simple gesture of kindness, but it meant the world to me. I almost couldn’t believe it, simply for the fact that it was so unlike anything that would ever happen at my former church. At that church, you could attend every week and remain completely anonymous if you so chose. At Redemption Hill, I found that’s not the case, and I really think that’s a great thing. I really want to thank you all for being so warm and inviting. It really gave me renewed hope in what a church could be. I also attended one of the small group meetings at the Goodletts’ home and connected with the group and the discussion immediately.

Over the past month or so since I first attended, I’ve been back to my old church a few times, partly because my family still attends there, and partly because I was still thinking and praying over where I was supposed to be. It meant a lot to me that you guys cared enough to call, text, and send me messages on Facebook asking where I was on those weeks.

I’m happy to say that after that month of deliberation, I’ve found a new church home at Redemption Hill. I’ll be attending every Sunday now. I’m looking foward to entering this new chapter in my life, and I know that God has led me here for a reason. I also look foward to growing in Christ along with each and every one of you. Thanks for showing me the love of Christ with your actions. I’m excited to have finally found a new church home.

Richmond: This Is Home

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I’ve lived in this city my whole life. I was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in 1988 and haven’t gone anywhere since. Come to think of it, my family has pretty much been here since they came over on boats from England and Denmark. I’m also a direct descendant of William Byrd, the founder of Richmond. Over the past six months or so, I’ve learned, grown, and discovered so much about myself, as well as thought about what the future might hold for me. I’ve considered all sorts of possibilities, but the one thing I don’t think I could consider is ever leaving this city. Now that I’m forming a business centered around the city, River City Media Ventures, I have even more reason to stick around. The city is just part of who I am and what my life is all about.

I spent the majority of both Saturday and Sunday at the Richmond Folk Festival downtown on Brown’s Island, where I took the photos you see in this post. I all the love the multicultural events held around the city such as this one. There’s just so much to do in this city that you can’t find anywhere else. I’m also really into history, and Richmond’s just brimming with it. You can almost feel the tensions of the Civil War and the historic burning of Richmond when visiting Tredegar Iron Works. Richmond means a whole lot to me. Simply put, it’s home.

River City Media Ventures & Downtown Short Pump

By | business, funny, life, movie reviews, music, videos | One Comment

Seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. It’s about time I gave an update! I’ve been too consumed with other websites to keep up with my blog, I guess. I’m moving full steam ahead with my community news and information website, Downtown Short Pump. I’ve been trying to write new, original news stories each and every day, going out to the scene when news happens to get the scoop, and meeting lots of new contacts. I just put together an advertising guide, and hope to sell some ad space soon. Everything’s going really well with the site.

Aside from that, work and school have consumed most of the rest of my time. I work every day at the University of Richmond help desk for Attronica Computers, doing warranty service work on IBM/Lenovo and HP computers. It’s not a bad job at all.

I’m also putting the finishing touches on forming an LLC for my budding business, River City Media Ventures. It should be finalized sometime this week. 5,000 business cards are on their way to my house as I write this to give out to prospective advertisers and area residents. You can’t ever have too much promotion!

I chose to name my business based on other services I offer like web design and didn’t choose anything related to Downtown Short Pump because I have plans for many other different kinds of sites in the future. Downtown Short Pump is just the first. Under River City Media Ventures, I’m also offering web design and many other services I’ll announce at a later time. The plan has always been to provide lower cost design services from the beginning, and it’s starting to catch on. As of today, I have eight clients that need sites designed by the end of November!

That pretty sums everything up briefly. I’m gonna try to start blogging more frequently again, so I’ll have plenty more updates soon!

“In A World” Without Don LaFontaine

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You may not know him by name, but you no doubt know his voice. Don LaFontaine was the voice behind the vast majority of the movie trailers you’ve seen for decades. He passed away this morning from complications related to a collapsed lung, at the age of 68.

Over the span of his 25+ year career, he did voiceovers for more than 5,000 movie trailers and 350,000 television commercials, and is best known for his introductory “In a world…” phrase. No one quite had a voice like LaFontaine’s, and his voice will be missed.

His most recent television appearance was on a commercial for Geico, in which they simply called him “that announcer guy from the movies” because his voice is so widely known and unique.

I’ve always been intrigued by with the movie industry, and voice talent professionals as well, and would love to do some of my own voiceover work one day. Below is a video highlighting his career.

What Would You Do With Just One Month To Live?

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If you found out today that you had just one month to live, what would you do with those thirty precious days? How would you change? What things in your day-to-day life would become instantly unimportant and which things insanely valuable? This is all the focus of a book I just started reading entitled “One Month To Live: Thirty Days To A No-Regrets Life.” It’s written by Kerry and Chris Shook, founding pastors (husband and wife) of Woodlands Church in Texas, a megachurch with more than 15,000 regular attenders.

The book is divided up into daily readings that will help you understand how you spend your time and what’s important to you, as well help you face and then embrace your own mortality, which they say will ultimately set you free to live your life to the fullest and seek out God’s perfect plan for your life.

The most interesting thing I read so far was right in the introduction. It explains that people diagnosed with a terminal illness face their mortality and they instantly live their lives differently, but few people live their day-to-day lives like that.

I’m excited to delve into this book and really feel it will have a lasting impact on my life and help me change a lot of the things I need to work on, like how I spend my time, what my priorities are, and what’s most important to me.

I look forward to posting an update a month from now to tell you how reading this book has impacted my life.

In Remembrance Of “Miss Kitty”

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My dear next door neighbor, affectionately known as “Miss Kitty,” passed away this past Wednesday morning after putting up a long and brave fight with various types of cancer over the past few years. She was always smiling and very friendly. Her biggest passion in life was tending to her immaculately-manicured garden that encompasses the entire house, and she could be seen outside doing just that from sun up to sundown.

She loved gardening so much that she just couldn’t wait to get started in the morning. I remember many early mornings seeing her outside in her nightgown watering plants, probably because she was just so passionate about her garden, she couldn’t even wait to get dressed first! On that note, I think she has a lot to teach us all about life. You’ve gotta do what you love and find your passions in life. So maybe it wasn’t her occupation, but how many of us can say we have jobs that we wake up to each morning that we’re so excited about that we sometimes go to work in our PJs? Probably not too many.

At Kitty’s request, her ashes will be spread over her garden, and I can’t think of anything more symbolic of her life. She will be greatly missed by all. A snapshot of her sprawling garden and beautiful backyard can be seen below.

Totally Tubular 80s Party

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Even though it was more than a month ago, I still wanted to post some photos from the 80s party I threw for my parents. It was their 25th Anniversary, and I wanted to do something special for them. I worked with our family friend Sue, who lives near Charlottesville, in order to get them out of the house. She arranged for a town car to come pick them up and take them around to different wineries all day while I set up for the party.

It was a great turnout considering how many people take vacations mid-summer, and I really think the entire thing went great. There was lots of great food, great friends, great music, and it seems like a great time was had by all. Here are a few pictures from it, and the invitation I had mailed out.