Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas Psalm

I wrote this in an email to my family recently during an email war (not in the bad sense of the word “war,” we just emailed a lot in a short period of time). Thanks goes to my brother Joel for some scribal corrections and editing.

A Christmas Lament of Ben (To be accompanied by a mouth harp)

Oh, where shalt thou lay down thy head,
Will it be in an office or on a couch,
Oh, that thou will have internet access,
No matter where I find thy resting place.

The nephews surround me, Oh Lord,
I hear their footsteps approaching,
When I rise, I hear them,
I listen to them while on my bed,
Hear my cry, Oh Merciful One,
Is there no place where I can’t hear them?

And yet, I am renewed in the morning,
As I smell sweet cinnamon rolls, the nectar of life,
I dine with pleasure, they nourish my bowels,
Thou must eat them with haste before the runners’ return,
For this nourishment for sure, Oh Lord, we shall tempst them not.

I am surrounded by a whole host of kinspeople, My Lord,
But somehow I still find solitaire, or Soduko, or a TV,
This is where I want to be Lord, this is the depth of my heart,
Blessed with the innumerable riches of family, I give You the glory,
You are not far from us, Lord, when we are together.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Food For Thought: Nashville

Three reasons we shouldn't move to Nashville: Maggiano's, Cheesecake Factory, and Panera Bread Company. I think moving to Nashville would get us used to these dining establishments and they would not be as special anymore—they would just get all of our money.

Maggiano's has the best ravioli we have ever had, hands down. We first experienced it in Chicago (Schaumburg actually, but it is all the same to non-locals) as we were looking for a place to eat deep-dish pizza. We assumed a place called Maggiano's in the Chicago area would have pizza, but they didn't, so we settled for the ravioli, which basically rocked our faces off. We then thought if the ravioli was so good, we had to try to the tiramisu, which ended up being the best tiramisu we'd ever experienced.

Cheesecake Factory is amazing and has good food, but the kicker is the cheesecake. Sure, in some grocery stores you can get Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but it is not even close to the same quality. Nashville has the closest Cheesecake Factory, but we've also been to the one in downtown Chicago for New Year's Eve, and it has a way better atmosphere (you feel like you are in the womb again).

Panera represents the simple things you miss from your homeland. We have the Atlanta Bread Co. here, but it cannot compare to Panera at all. Panera brings back memories of Bailey and Joyce McBride, cinnamon crunch bagels, and broccoli and cheese soup. We got take-out from Panera on the way home from Nashville last weekend.

In the end, food is good and filling, but the people we've shared these meals with are what make them great. Sure, it is nice to reach food nirvana (symptoms include slight dizziness, ecstasy, surreal contentment), but a meal without company is missing something and never as fulfilling.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ode to the Christmas Sweater

Tis’ the season for beautiful Christmas sweaters! And what excitement it was when I found the most beautiful Christmas sweater I’d ever seen at our local Park Avenue Thrift Store (sounds expensive). After searching through racks and racks of smelly women's sweaters, I finally stumbled on it, and fell in love right away. It has all the best features of the Christmas sweater—a large poinsettia, a Santa Claus face, a larger than life candy cane, bells, a horn, raised stitching, ornaments, and “NOEL” in big letters, just in case you did not catch on to Christmas theme. The fact that it was a button down and had shoulder pads made me feel extra special as I shelled out my $4 for the huge sweater that could have kept many poor children warm. Yes, for those two hours at the Harding Grad School Christmas party, I was the embodiment of Christmas. Oh, how I love Christmas sweaters! I must admit, the x-mas sweater is one of the best parts about going to church around the holidays, because they’re everywhere, spreading Christmas cheer.
Click here to see the famous Christmas sweater. . .

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Oh, What a Night!

This is how Monica keeps things interesting at our house:

Ahh, man
B: What happened?
M: I broke the light cover in the bathroom and then I dropped the light bulb…
B: How did you do that?
M: I set the light cover on the toilet and then it slid off and broke on the floor, and it scared me so I dropped the light bulb and it broke, too.
B: hmmph
M: Are you going to ask me if I’m okay?
B: Are you okay?
M: Yes.

Thirty minutes later after the incident and after the clean-up by Ben.

M: You need to vacuum out the glass in the sink better.
B: No I don’t, because I didn’t vacuum it in the first place, so I can’t do it better.
M: Do it.
B: Okay

5 minutes later:

M: I had you vacuum out the sink because I broke another light bulb…
B: You broke another one?!? You broke TWO light bulbs…
M: Yes, because I am too short and didn’t want you to do it.

1 hour later in the grocery store parking lot:

M enters the car laughing
B: What’s so funny?
M: I thought you were in the car right next to you, so I opened the other car door, and it was the wrong car.
B: But there were people in the car!
M: I know, I realized that after I pulled the handle up, and then I just waved at them because it was the wrong car.
B: I am putting you in a straitjacket for the rest of the night…

Monday, December 4, 2006

Sooner or Later

I have to praise the OU Sooners for their outstanding play the other night to win the Big 12 Championship. Being the eternal pessimist, I never thought it would happen—I mean Texas losing to A&M—who would’ve thought. And then winning the game against Nebraska in the air. With a great last name, I should’ve never doubted Thompson.

I called a pretty good play myself on Sunday morning. I knew it was the elder induction Sunday at church, but I did not dare tell Monica beforehand. It was a trick play of sorts with some misdirection, and then when we came out of the huddle, I called the audible at the line, and then she knew (30 minutes before the service started). It was actually a pretty decent elder induction Sunday—it lasted less than two days—and we went on our way to the very important third service we like to call lunch. Hey, where did Curt go?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It is Finished...

And I was only 2 minutes late to class!! I pulled a famous Thompson all-nighter with Cali, and burned the midnight oil.

You, Me, and Dupree is a pretty funny movie. I’ve been an Owen Wilson fan for a long time, Monica for longer probably, and we were laughing pretty hard at parts.

Someone, who I don’t know, responded to my latest answering machine with, “That’s all you got?” I think it was a wrong number.

Either the dishes need to get washed, or we’re going to run out of money eating out soon.

I thought of a new answering machine jingle just in case the guy calls back. Hmm… Why do I want this scary man’s approval?

I haven’t eaten or slept all day, and all Cali does is eat and sleep all day—it’s like we are in alternative universes.

Wednesday nights are boring without Lost, we didn’t have to rush home from church to see it. Now that Eco (Echo?) is off the show, we can’t consider it church anymore.

We now have two Ford trucks, but only because I have a profound respect for Toby Keith and his politics. All the gas they consume makes me feel more Republican.

There are currently no $100,000/year counseling positions available in Colorado right now, so we’re out of luck.

Sometimes I wish that everyone snow skiing right now would break their legs, just because I am mad that they are skiing.

Oh yeah, and everything is not really bigger in Texas, except the conspiracy that everything is bigger in Texas.

I just realized the letters in Texas can be rearranged to spell taxes. Tennessee only spells Nessteene.

Yuo can udenrtsand me eevn if I tpye lkie tihs, so why do we wrroy abuot slpeilng.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving and Birthday Fun

We had a great Thanksgiving break in Springdale, AR and Springfield, MO. Thanksgiving dinner was brought to you by Cracker Barrel. I've decided this is the best way to do it. They have a special Thanksgiving plate with all the classics-sweet potato casserole, ham, turkey, stuffing, sides of your choice, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Basically, it keeps you from eating too much and you don't have to worry about dishes or leftovers. I was fully sated and felt fine afterwards. I really do think this is the way to go. . .

I was going to try to avoid it, but it was also my birthday weekend. I hate my birthday and try to downplay it as much as possible, but Monica made me celebrate it. So, Tuesday night we went to Bluefin (just the two of us and I didn't have to invite anyone!) and I opened my presents from her. First, I opened a present and it was a shirt from the GAP sales rack. Monica made an excellent selection—it was on sale and it looks good. Then, I got black socks from her, but in one of the socks was a big lump. I was thinking it was pack of gum and would have been fine with that, but no, it was a freaking 2 GB iPod nano. Being the grateful person I am, I immediately asked how much it cost. Prepared for the answer, Monica said she paid $50 for it, her parents chipped in $50, and the third $50 came from MY Best Buy gift cards I hadn't used yet. So, that made it a little better knowing she didn't drop $150 from our account on it. Now, I am just trying to get used to something I would never dream of buying for myself (I'm not trying to sound self-righteous, I just hate spending money). I'm not sure what to do when I get nice presents like that. Besides that, I got birthday money, and I will try to save it for as long as I can before someone makes me spend it. Fortunately for her, I tend to spend money when I get down (in my mood, not at the club).

Anyway, we came home Saturday in time for me to watch the OU/OSU game at Buffalo Wild Wings. We didn't go to Oklahoma this year because I didn't want to. Sometimes you just make decisions like that for no good or bad reason at all. They all called on my birthday yesterday and sang Happy Birthday to me on the phone, so it was like I was there. Now, I must put together a paper before Thursday at 1 PM, which by some miracle, I have already started, but don't plan to finish until 12:45 PM or later on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Time for Change

Whoa! Things are changing around the Thompson house. Winter is coming, Bonneville is leaving, the Ford Explorer Sport is here, and we are looking forward to Monica’s 1 year anniversary with RemitDATA. I have to write a paper by the 30th, finish up my internships, and have my 26th birthday on the 26th. We have to decide where to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas and keep both families happy. The Christmas card picture needs to be taken (without Judson’s help, unfortunately), and someone has to write a clever “Year in the Life of the Thompson’s” ditty to include with the card. Then, we need to figure out addresses and who makes the cut.

Tis’ the season to be busy . . .

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Voting Day

Yesterday, we voted at our usual place, South Park Elementary School. You hear the talk of other states where the lines were long because of ID checks, well, that didn’t happen to us. In fact, no one checked our IDs at all. Good thing, though, because I could have been anybody.

I voted Republicrat. I won’t tell you specifics of who I voted for, but I will tell you I voted for Mike Kernell (D) for State House Rep. because he campaigned at Cooper’s (a fairly dangerous grocery store near our house) during the last election. Somebody coming into the neighborhood really does make a difference—I feel like he actually cares about me and other Cooper regulars. I did drive to the election station in a Ford…hmm.

I hope you voted because you wanted to, not because someone told you you have to or you’re not a good person. I vote NOT because I am a Christian, I vote because I care who represents me in our pagan government. I will in no way condone the idea that it is our Christian duty to vote, because in my mind, it isn’t, but you may think differently, depending on whether you agree or disagree with me. The important thing is that you feel good about the reasons you vote.

So, this does not reflect any of Monica’s political views. We differ on politics, but somehow we still manage to love. This does represent my (Ben’s) views and I do approve this message.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Bad Day or Good Day. . .And the 10 Second Kiss

WOW! What a way to end a fun-filled week. Let me just cue you in real quick.

My truck stopped starting and I had to jump it for a few days. Then, on the way home from Hot Springs, I had to push down on the breaks fairly hard, and then I had to put up with the awful grinding noises ever since. Today, I was uninvited to a lunch by a school administrator THROUGH a third party fellow student. Let’s hear it for a real class move!!! I’m not bitter, just kind of feel devalued. Also, I found out today that I will not receive my diploma until December 2007, even though I will finish my classes in the Summer of 2007.

After that experience, I had a few counseling sessions (as a counselor). My car mechanic, Bill Edmondson, who is an incredible car mechanic, called and told me to call him about the Bonneville. Turns out the ABS system needs to be replaced, and that will be $1200. Well, that’s out of the question because car is not even worth that. I told him to just put break pads on it, and I’ll continue to drive it. That was the dagger in my heart today, but at least it came from the front.

So, it might sound like I am just female doggin’, but I’m not, and I am going to get in big trouble for that term. True, this was a bad day, BUT if you look at the other side of coin and the rest of the story, it gets better.

First of all, my truck just needed new battery terminals, which was a cheap fix. Second, my tension, frustration, and distrust of this administrator was confirmed and I can continue to be unsure of authority—very important to my generation. Third, FINALLY I HAVE AN ANSWER about what to do about the Bonneville. None of this guessing anymore, I can be sure it’s time to give up on the long fight. It’s actually kind of nice to have that burden off my shoulders. Now, we just have to find a car to replace it.

Last, and certainly most, I got to each lunch with my wife in the midst of all of this at Bluefin. Regardless of what happened today, that makes a beautiful day in my mind because I was with her. We started this new ritual called the 10 second kiss that we read about in a book we’re reading for Wednesday night class, and it is great. After teeth-brushing in the morning, right before work, we kiss for 10 seconds. Then, when she comes home from work, we do it again. It is amazing what these 10 seconds do for our marriage. So, please don’t get any negativity from this blog. It will all take care of itself in due time. What you do need to do is the 10 second kiss, and remember how powerful a few minutes of being with the one you love can be. It saved my day...

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Picture of Us

It has been quite some time since we put up a picture of ourselves, which is odd, because we are really in love with ourselves and like to look at ourselves. This picture was taken at Bluefin about a month ago when Monica’s parents came into town.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Car Repairs and Preacher Relocation Programs

Car repairs make me want to cuss.

In worse news, Curt Sparks, the preacher at Sycamore View Church of Christ (where we go) is resigning and taking a preaching job in Kansas City—that makes me want to spiritually cuss. He is an amazing preacher and we did not want to share him with anybody. Shame on him for following God’s plan for his life.

Bless our little hearts. . .

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Wife

Just a short blog to tell my wife I love her—she is incredible.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nothing and Yet Everything in Particular

In no order at all, these are things that have happened recently:

*Monica's parents came to down for a weekend visit.
*The Minors flew to Memphis just to have dinner with us.
*We are training Cali to be a dog, and not our human child.
*I changed the spark plugs in my truck (8 of them—took me 4 hours).
*We fought about money.
*Monica liked Click, I didn't, but we both liked Thank You for Smoking.
*Home group is awesome!
*I have an internship lined up for next semester.
*Both our cars passed inspection and we paid $216 to Memphis for our tags.
*I took a midterm.
*Joe's Crab Shack closed downtown.
*We watched the entire first season of the show 24 in a week.
*We made it to Bible class 1 out the last 4 Sundays, but they now know our names at Starbuck's.

WE ARE AWESOME! Life is a lot of fun and Memphis is a pretty cool town. It is impossible to keep this blog updated with all the crazy things we do. If we can ever get some time we'll be a little more detailed about our lives, but right now, this is the best we can do!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Can't Sell the Car

We can’t do it! Bonneville is too special to us and worth more to us than the offers made on it. We are now going to drive the thing until it dies a few more times, all based on the theory that it is better to drive it than to have a car payment. So, 213,000 miles and counting—how many more can we get out of it?

Thursday, October 5, 2006

2nd Most Dangerous City in US?

Okay, so I keep hearing and saying that Memphis is the 2nd most dangerous city in the US. Does anybody know where this stat is coming from? I wouldn’t say I don’t believe it, but all the past reports, like a 2005 report, say we are more like #16 or so. Either way, it is pretty bad, but #2 is pretty high for being #16 last year. I did hear a stat the other day on the news that there were 1600 home break-ins in the last 30 days! That’s probably a shocker unless you are from around here, especially since it was the same house. Okay, it wasn’t the same house. . .

Anyway, just wondered if anyone had the stat. I am now going to the inspection station on Lamar because it is in a scary place and it is the shortest wait—I wonder of there is a connection!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Needlephobia Success

Some of you might know about Monica’s incredible fear of needles. She can’t hardly even watch a needle going into somebody on a TV show without cringing. I make fun of her for it, but it is not funny at all to her (which is, of course, why I might of her about it). Monica has had some bad previous experiences with needles and giving blood, and also has a close family member with an intense fear of needles as well. I can’t blame her for this fear.

At her last doctor’s appointment the other day, she was determined to give blood samples. I was surprised because she turns all shades of purple, her eyes get bloodshot, and she totally tenses up any time she is in the doctor’s office and knows the needle is coming. This time, though, it was different. She did have abnormally high blood pressure, and the Dr. asked her if she was taking any blood pressure meds, but it turns out she was just so nervous about the blood test and the needle! As is our policy, I wait in the lobby and the nurse calls me in when it is blood time. I was finally called to the plate and I went back to assist. . .

The determination was evident on Monica’s face. The nurse came in and let Monica lie down for the major procedure. We had a great nurse, too—one that was nice, had a good sense of humor, and did not mock Monica for her fear (like the last nurse did). Monica asked how many tubes of blood they needed, but the nurse said, “You don’t need to worry about that, that’s my job.” She stuck Monica, but Monica took it in stride and kept breathing heavy and squeezing my hand as she kept her eyes closed. Then, as quickly as it began, it was over and the blood was taken.

Monica confessed it wasn’t really that bad! She doesn’t want to do it everyday, but she made a huge step towards conquering the fear. The Dr. made her a deal that if she gave blood now, she could skip a year—great motivation for Monica. We got the results from the test and I must say that my wife is perfect. Not that it is anybody’s business but ours, but I have a really healthy wife, and it must have a lot to do with my good healthy cooking. Yeah right! All that to say I am so proud of my wife for winning the battle against the needle. She is awesome!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

A married couple in a session the other day mentioned success with Covenant Eyes, a program that emails a spouse and/or other accountability partner about the websites one visits. If you or someone you know is looking for some good accountability measures, especially when it comes to looking at bad stuff on the internet, this is it. It is only like $6 a month and there is a Mac version—I know it is hard to believe, but Mac people also have problems with this sort of thing, too. It can be installed on multiple computers, cross platform.

I am avoiding using the "p"? word, but it seems like all we're taught is to not look at it. That might have been easier before the internet, but now that we have it, we got to do something about it. So, take a look at the Covenant Eyes website. It is my experience that most guys would not argue with having this safety net—they want help, and they want something like this.

I'm sure this will work for more than the dirty picture addiction. In fact, I thought about using it this summer to see just how much Monica went onto the Big Brother website. Of course, then she would also see how much I go to espn.com.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New Friends on the Block

About a month ago, another couple about our age moved into the neighborhood, two doors down. We were kind of shy and after a couple weeks I talked to the husband and threw a football with him and another neighbor for a few minutes. Later that week we stopped by for a sec to say hi and check out their house. Turns out they needed a kitchen table and we were going to hang out with our friends that night who were selling a kitchen table, so we took pictures of the table and they bought it! That's just a fun fact for you.

The next week we had a cookout with them at their house and got to know them pretty well. He's a Ph. D student in biology at Memphis, and she is a nurse. Then, we experienced the weirdest thing—we left their house and walked home two doors down. It was awesome! Two nights ago we played Yahtzee at our house and they walked home. I think it is so much fun to have friends that close.

This is a dangerous thing because our friends living at a longer distance joke that we don't want to hang out with them anymore because they live so far away. And, our friends who have lived fairly close to us might wonder why we didn't hang out with them since they have always been in close proximity. For those far at a longer distance—we still like you. For those closer—let's hang out more. The point of this blog, though, is that it is really cool to have friends that live within comfortable walking distance—I highly recommend it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

OU Blues

In my mind OU is still undefeated, but that doesn’t mean Jack. UPDATE: The officials of that game have now been suspended for one game due to their bad call on the onside kick (see comments for link). Probably not a fitting punishment since this really hurts OU’s post-season chances.

Here’s a funny difference between Ben and Monica:

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the OU game because we did not get the game on TV. I’m frustrated because OU is on one small screen, while we have to watch the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game and Louisville vs. Miami game on the other big screens—both unimportant games for sure. Monica goes to Old Navy next door because she just wants a cute football shirt to wear while we are at BWW watching the game. So, I am concerned about the game, and she is concerned about looking cute at the game. To each his or her own, I guess.

She has been very good about sympathizing with the Sooners and me. We might have a future OU fan—as long as she can find a cute shirt!

Monday, September 11, 2006

TV Time Distortion

Apparently, there is a difference in time between watching Big Brother: All Stars 3 times a week for 1 hour each time and watching a 3 hour football game. Monica and I are constantly arguing about TV watching times. My side argues that all her shows add up to more than my sports watching, and her side says my side watches sports all the time and it adds up to more than her shows.

The solution: Look at this through the other side's perspectives. We both refuse to do this, so we remain in gridlock. This shall be the eternal battle until we move to some third world country where we only get re-runs of Walker: Texas Ranger.

Only a brave man would comment on such a topic of the TV time distortion problem—I dare you!

Friday, September 8, 2006

Home Group Last Night


I came prepared to lead it one way, but it went a different way—which was by far a way better way to go! I am in awe of how our group works through Scripture and applies it to life—I just have to have a topic and then stay out of the way (which is my preferred way to lead).

Plus, Cali got to sit on and attack Mike and Christi.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

How Do You Know?

A little joke for your day: How do you know when Ben and Monica are starting to feel good about their finances? A: They get hit with a huge vet bill, and have to start all over again.

In all seriousness, this is pretty petty stuff. Our money woes are no different than yours, we just have a blog to complain about them on. We are still clinging on to our "no credit card debt"? thing, but man are you asking for it when you make that vow.

In other news, Cali gets to wear one of those head guards so she doesn't lick her armpit sores - we like to call it her satellite dish. She is so pitiful! We are going to try to be home more so we can take it off and just monitor her . . . poor puppy!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Latest Beef with Church Stuff

I just realized the other day that I am passionate about a technical issue about religion. I will be vague as to not single out any activity in particular, because this has been culminating over quite some time. And yes, some of it stems from my own frustration with the Sunday night and Wednesday night requirement for church attendance.

Basically, my beef is this: Christians do not have to have a church service to have fellowship and to grow in Christ. I, personally, feel like we too often consider fellowship sitting in a service and shaking hands with those around us at the appointed time (or the 'pony time' in West Texas). I am not against the church service at all—I love it and it is crucial to the life of a Christian—but it is when people have to have a formal service to feel like they have had fellowship or "God time"? that bothers me. I guess that's their decision, but I believe so much in the power of just being together as a source of Christian fellowship.

Case in point: Small groups. Some of the most powerful spiritually moving times I've had are in Christian small groups, even though we had no Bible open and didn't sing any Songs of Faith and Praise. God still reveals himself in my friends' lives, and I need to hear their stories—even though their stories didn't make it into the Bible. Beyond that, I have never had many deep Christian relationships until I was involved in a small group. This is my own fault, but I have to have the small group to survive spiritually. I'll have to admit, though, sometimes if our small group gets real small (like 4-6 people), we just talk about our lives and what's going on, and I still feel spiritually uplifted. Just a note: we certainly use the Bible and scripture in our group, but we don't feel like we have to exegete a passage every night, thank goodness!

This isn't coming out real clear. I would make a horrible church minister. We need the church, we need to worship together as a church, but woe to us if it stops there. A Christian in isolation isn't experiencing life and will easily fall, and a Bible class with 20-60 people is still isolation in my book. If we were not in a small group and did not hang out with our Christian friends outside of "church,"? we'd fall away, even though we would still be at church every Sunday. There are 10 other people in our home group, besides Monica and I, and we would trust our lives with any of them. We would battle Satan with any of them.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are with other Christians and are frustrated because you are not having a formal devotional, just drop your guard and get to know one another. Stop thinking that a Church service is the only way you can worship and fellowship with others. You'll never get to know somebody by standing next to them during a service, but you really get to know someone when you play a game, sit around a table, go out and get coffee, eat dinner together, etc. Plus, when you really know the people you are worshiping with, you are worshiping on a whole other level. How many people do you "know"? at church? I certainly don't know enough.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Soccer Weekend

This weekend 8 other guys and me played in a 6 on 6 soccer tournament. We were one of two US teams, and all the other teams were composed of Hispanics. It was a great multicultural experience, and it was put on by MUM and the Iglesia de Cristo at Sycamore View C of C. We played hard, but we only won one game! Actually, I am not totally surprised we only pulled off one win, because we had never played together as a team and we were playing teams that play together every week in leagues.

Needless to say, playing games on a Saturday afternoon in intense heat is not an easy thing to do. By our last game on Sunday we were all pretty wiped out, and it was even worse as the other team destroyed us. Despite all of our misfortune, it is just fun to play soccer. I don't think I'll ever try to play 4 games in 2 days again (granted they were only 44 minute games), but maybe a game here and there would be okay. Also, I owe Monica a weekend because my games took all of our together time.

Have a good week! Hope you had a great honeymoon, Mark and Darci.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Happy Anniversary #3

Just in case you did not have it on your calendars, today is our 3rd anniversary. What a blissful 3 years it has been! I can’t imagine being married to somebody more perfect—Monica is pretty lucky to have me (haha). Monica is incredible and she is my soul mate and my everything. She means more to me than anybody else, and I am still madly and deeply in love with her. God has really blessed our marriage and has been with us every step of the way. Happy Anniversary, Us!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mission: Accomplished

I think you all are getting the wrong impression of me. I really do work hard in school and turn in good papers. My recent performances are not making me look too good. Here is how I look at it: I am still spending about the same amount of time other people do on their papers, I am just doing it all in one sitting.

I also need to say that the Harding Grad M.A. in Counseling program is pretty awesome. It is fairly demanding academically and extremely practical. The hardest part about the program for me is becoming aware of myself in so many ways and then coming to grips with it. Anybody can do the academic work, but it is the soul searching work that makes or breaks you. So, if sometimes it seems like I am not taking the paper writing part of it seriously, I am definitely taking the soul searching part seriously.

Have a great day! I am now finished with my summer semester and the fall semester starts Monday. I am going to enjoy my break!

Monday, August 14, 2006

It Finally Catches Up to Me

So, I have a paper for group counseling due Wednesday. Since it is a counseling paper, I do all my research in the U of M Library and not Harding. So, I check the hours and guess what? It closes at 5 PM (10 minutes ago) and is closed tomorrow so the library staff can have a retreat tomorrow. WHAT IN THE WORLD? HOW IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?

Well, I deserve it. I have been procrastinating too long on my stuff lately and I deserved for this to happen to me, but I am still boiling mad. I have a plan B, though, and it involves Questia.com, finding somewhere that has internet, and taking it as it comes. Plan C involves finding a diamond, a suction cup, and some black clothes to sneak into the U of M library.

In a way, I am kind of glad this is happening. Maybe I’ll get my rear in gear earlier from now on—I doubt it!

Monday, August 7, 2006

Great Comments!

Wow! We did not expect to get so much feedback on those last couple of blogs—Thank you so much. I guess we can all relate to the last-second paper writing procrastination thing, as well as the topic of racism—I am definitely convinced of how important it is to remember that racism is still alive and well, and we don’t need to pretend like it is not important. I will hopefully never again wait that long to write such an important paper.

We went to Hot Springs this weekend to hang out with Brian and April on Lake Hamilton. It was an awesome trip (much thanks to Brian and April), and a well-needed (and well-deserved on m’s part) break for both of us! Unfortunately, we were both kissed by the sun and look a little lobsteresque and feel like we are on fire. We applied, but apparently did not re-apply enough! We thought for a date night we could both just peel skin off each other.

Monica promised pictures on the last blog and they are coming soon. We have birthday pictures, Cali pictures, and lake pictures we need to upload.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

24 Hours Left

Well, I still haven't written a word yet! I just got back from Hell, aka Mustin's Auto Parts on the Tennessee/Mississppi border to pick up a wheel—not a tire, not a hubcap, but the actual wheel part to replace the wheel that was shredded when our ball joint came out of the socket which allowed the axel to land on the inside of our wheel and destroy it like a dog in a teddy bear museum. I call Mustin's Hell because it takes forever to get there (esp. in an unairconditioned truck) and this is the second time I've gone this week, AND both times I had to go 6 miles away to an ATM because they only take cash or check. SO, I bring a check the second time and they tell me they only take company checks (after telling me I could bring a check on Tuesday). I am pretty sure the real Hell will not take Debit or Credit Cards. To make a long story short, I hate Sam's, but I like Holt Tire next to the movie theater, and I now have a used tire on a salvaged wheel that I am pretty sure Hell (Mustin's Auto Parts) made at least $75 off me. Final total for this last car repair including what I had done today is $520. (new ball joint, labor, new wheel, new tire, tire and wheel installation)


My thesis statement: Racism is bad, okay. The church as an institution through its structure and benign neglect of the biblical mandate of unity of all people (Eph 2 and Gal 3:28 and such) is guilty of prejudice and racism. The 90's had Rodney King and the new decade has Hurricane Katrina to remind us of the atmosphere of racial tension we have. If you don't believe me, ask Kanye West and he'll straighten you out.

Basically, I will talk about what racism is, how it is represented theologically, how the church (not the CofC or The Church, as we in The Brethren like to call it at our Brotherhood meetings) has neglected the issue and contributed it, and finally, how I, Ben Thompson, am going to solve the problem with my paper. Here's a hint: I do not believe the solution is to have more black churches and more white churches, and I don't think mere assimilation is the key. However, I am pretty much going to stay away from the phenomenon of having a church of another culture meet in your church building and counting it as reconciliation, or should I say recon-silly-ation. I believe it is so much more than that. We have to be integrated and we have to show the world that the one place that should accept everyone is the church, and stop hiding behind the myth that it would be much worse to integrate than it would to stay separate. In my gut, though, I don't think I am ready for that, and I am pretty sure most Christians aren't either. I have definitely stepped out of my realism box, haven't I? Ignore my ranting and raving, I am a mad man right now.

See you tomorrow.

And yes, we got approached with our first revenue-sharing scheme yesterday. . . we are now officially adults.

UPDATE: I am pleased to announce that Ben finished & turned in his paper (never mind that he barely missed the 4P deadline & had to make a run to the post office to get it postmarked with today’s date on it:)). On another note Cali got her second ‘lion’ haircut this week & we are about to have amazing adventures this weekend so stay tuned for pics!!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

50 Hour Paper

It begins now. . .

In 50 hours or so (4 PM Friday), I have a 15 page paper due for my Christian Ethics class. This paper is worth 35% of my grade, and needs to be good quality. The topic is racism and how the church often unintentionally upholds it. It should be really interesting—I just have to write it. Basically, I am supporting the position that our current church structure is set up for keeping up the race barrier in churches. Now, I just need 15 pages to support that position. I’ve never waited this long to start, but the summer blues got a hold of me. Summer classes are straight from the devil.

Maybe I’ll update you on the progress as I go along. I bet you are so excited!! Yeah, right!

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Here’s my question:

What do you set your thermostats on during the day and during the night in the summer? I need to make sure I am not abusing my wife by the high temperatures I keep our place. During the day we keep our thermostat at 82 and at night 77/78. I am of the school of thought that we can get used to whatever we put the thermostat at within reason. I have also been trained to believe that giving up comfort for saving money is always a good deal.

I am guessing we are on the warmer side compared to many of our friends and blog readers, but it would be nice to know if we are crazy or normal. The hardest part of the whole thing is how we had to shed our security blanket—you know, that blanket on your bed that really serves no purposes except to give you some weird sense of security.

Please do not respond and make us feel guilty if you are in a country that does not have A/C, or at least only the rich people have it. I realize in most of the world they do not even have air conditioners. I think this is why the heat wave in France (high temperatures reaching above 86!) is so dangerous. You just have to tough it out.

I am disappointed that nobody shares my hatred of the Hicks/Ford commercial.

P.S. Monica’s birthday is tomorrow!!! YAY!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Commercial Warfare

We’re under attack!! And it is coming from an unlikely source—Ford Motor Company and Taylor Hicks. The attack is in the form of the Ford commercial where Taylor Hicks is singing a song about possibilities. The attack is coming at least 6 times a day while we watch TV and he has found a way to attack us on all three major networks. We must take a stand against this kind of unjust war. For those of you that have TiVo or something similar, you are safe because you don’t have to watch it—your TV snobbery has saved you! However, for us poor folk without that technology, we are forced to suffer. The worst part, MUTE DOESN’T MAKE IT ANY BETTER.

I am going to give Taylor Hicks some credit because he doesn’t have a choice about how Ford is using his image to attack the American people. Ford, though, has no excuse for their torture on the American people. This could be the worst attack against American TV watchers since the mangled hamster looking thing on the Quizno’s commercials—except that commercial did not come on every two commercial breaks.

You may say the solution is to quit watching TV, especially the commercials, but that’s hardly a good solution because we have to watch TV ( a result of boring lives). The solution is not to quit buying Ford cars and trucks because that’s already happened. No, the only solution is to tell everyone you know about this attack and eventually it has to get back to the Ford marketing people. It’s our only hope—we owe it to Taylor, to ourselves, and to America as a whole. It’s up to you . . . fight for your freedom.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Colorado Dreamin'

We think we’ve decided where we want to end up in a few years—Colorado. More specific, we want to be in the Colorado Springs area. I must admit we are fairly uneducated about Colorado and have only been there once as a couple, but we just like it. Yes, we know it is expensive to live there, but it might just be worth it. I am also told that Colorado is overrun with counselor-types, but I think I could manage.

Anybody else have the Colorado call? Skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. Fresh air and cool summer evenings. It just seems like Colorado possesses a lot of nice qualities that we look for in a state. Don’t get us wrong—Memphis is pretty awesome, but it is just not where we see ourselves forever. Colorado might not be where we want to be forever either, but we have our sites set on it. You also have to realize that “a few years” might be a long time depending on how our lives and jobs are going here. However, in the end, Colorado sounds nice!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What is Summer Again?

Summer is pretty much worthless when you work. I just spent two and a half hours working on a chart and just when I thought I got it right, I sent it to the printer and it looks nothing like it does on my screen. So, I spent the last half hour making it look wrong on my computer screen so it would print right on the printer. So much for absolute truth!

All I've wanted to do for about 2 weeks now is go outside and play soccer, but I am stuck in my GA job for 120 hours this summer, haven't gotten a pay check for a month and a half for a lot of work at both my jobs, and to top it all off, I'm complaining about it on my blog to people that work 40+ hours and have to do worse things than I am doing (plus probably only get two weeks of vacation a year). I apologise (and in British English even) for my complaining which is not useful for building anyone up.

I just long for the summers of my childhood when I never had to wear shoes or a shirt (except at meal times) for 3 months and would play outside all day. I'm pretty sure someday I'll figure out how to get back to that, or maybe I'll just realize the immaturity of it all and accept my adult status . . . I hope not!

This is a picture we took of fireworks with our camera. Oooh aahhh . . .

Friday, July 7, 2006

Picture Pages

This was an 80’s skating party for our friend Merschon’s birthday. It was totally awesome!

Below is the plane David, our brother-in-law, flew us in to Hot Springs and back to Memphis. Thanks Dave.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

We're Back

It’s been a crazy few weeks since our last post. We went to Happy Hollow Bible Camp for a week and then to Hot Springs last weekend. I am in charge of putting up some pictures for you, so please be patient!

Friday, June 16, 2006


What did we do? We paid off $2200 of debt in 6 months! We made a challenge for someone to join us in this endeavor, but no one came forth on our blog. If anyone was apprehensive about it, I hope we can inspire you. PHEW! What a relief from the stress of all that debt just hanging around us. It’s amazing how much we were challenged in our pursuit of eliminating this debt, although most of the challenge came from ourselves and our immaturity with money. We did have those unexpecteds like some major and minor car repairs, but we made a commitment and stuck to our guns.

God has been good to us. We have a long way to go in being good stewards of our money, but we are trying. It’s amazing how much you want things when you are trying to save your money and be responsible. It’s so unnerving to have to time it just right so the mortgage check doesn’t get to the bank before you get paid. I hope we can get past that for good now. We have a lot of resolutions now.

Of course now we have to really watch ourselves and live like we were living when we had to make those payments. Now it is time to save and give to God as we have purposed. It is so exciting right now for us—we highly recommend this feeling to anyone else who wants it.

Friday, June 9, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: A Call to Creativity

My beef with the prevalence of The Da Vinci Code church discussions is the lack of originality I hear for the titles of these classes. Regardless of the fact that we have a class aimed at debunking fiction, I am more concerned with the title of the classes. Decoding the Code, Decoding the Da Vinci Code, Debunking the Code, and similar ones all wreak of a lack of creativity. I am calling for more creative titles for these courses. Here is my list so far:

1. Da Crack for Da Code (getting there, but only a C+)
2. Dan Brown: The Code Cracker (funnier in certain cultural regions)
3. The Da Vinci Crap or The Da Vinci Commode (only a community church could pull these off)
4. Da Only Way to Get You to Come to Wednesday Night Church
5. Da Usual (for Catholic churches, get it?)

6. Da Reason Da Vinci Code is Da Fiction
7. Opus Pocus (Subtitle: The Da Vinci Code and Opus Dei)
8. Searching through the Smoke of Da Vinci's Crack (my favorite, but only a B for making sense)

Please feel free to add your own creative titles!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Hamburglar is on the Loose

Tuesday night I (Ben) answered the phone and it was the Mt. Moriah Sheriff's Department. The recording went something like this: "This is the Mt. Moriah Sheriff's Department and we are calling to warn you that since May 1st of 2006 there have been an increase of break-ins in the area that you live. The perpetrator is coming in back doors and windows, even forcing his way in. These break-ins are happening between the hours of 1 AM and 6 AM while people are at home. He is stealing mainly wallets and purses."�

Thanks and no thanks! Now, for my main sleeping hours every sound will now be somebody breaking into my house. He probably goes by the name Hannibal and seeks to eat my face off. Do I bring my wallet and Monica's purse in the bedroom, or does that mean that if somebody did break in they would come looking for it? Do I trust Cali to scare the perpetrator away? Am I just a wimp (I AM scared of a bike in my yard at 2 AM)? All in all, I think I am glad to know someone wants to break into my house. I have now taken some measures to make it harder to break in, but I had no idea how expensive it was going to be to keep a moat with alligators up and running.

Go here for some home theft prevention procedures.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006


I was driving to work this morning and saw a truck with a bumper sticker on the back windshield that read, “I HEART MY WIFE.” For some reason this just hit me as a REALLY nice gesture.

I’m not used to seeing bumper stickers that say anything besides “W The President” or have Calvin peeing on something - especially in Memphis. It just really got me thinking that such a simple gesture says so much about that husband driving that truck. Sure, his wife could have ‘given’ him that sticker or even put it on there herself, but I’d like to think that it was his idea & that he truly does love his wife & wants the world to know.

I’m not sure if Ben would go for putting one of these bumper stickers on his pick-up truck because his friends would probably make a lot fun of him, but I know that he loves me. Who knows, maybe I’ll get my own, “I HEART MY HUSBAND” sticker for Bonneville:)

You can get your own I HEART MY WIFE bumper sticker here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day Swim

Continuing on with our recent theme of spontaneous decisions, we decided to go to Hot Springs, AR on Sunday after church. We were just sitting around and Monica wanted to go, so we packed up and left within the hour of her idea. We had two goals—spend a lot of fun time with David, Sarah, and our nephews, and go swimming somewhere. We had a lot of fun with our family and found a little beach on Lake Hamilton to swim. We need to thank David and Sarah for letting us come at the last second with no notice! Well, the picture shows how much fun we had . . .

Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men 3: The Last Stand

In a completely out of character move for Benica, we saw X3 at 12:04 AM this morning. Thanks to Justin the Sane who scored us tickets and invited us to this affair, we attended this movie in a packed theater. We got there about 10:15 and stood in line forever, but we got the best seats in the house for a great movie.

What can we say about X3? It was a great movie if you have been involved in the previous X-Men movies. The mustached man that reviews movies on ABC said it had no story and was all action, but what does he know? This was a great conclusion to the story and we enjoyed it. I did not realize how much I cared for mutants until I watched this movie!

So, go if you enjoyed the other two X-Men movies, but if you are going for shear entertainment, you might be better off going to a movie about animals trying to prevent urban sprawl.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kicked Out of Weight Watchers

Yep, that’s right - you read correctly…yesterday I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting & was kicked out. Let me start at the beginning…the past several months my mom has been doing WW & has amazing results to show for it! I am so proud of both her & my dad for losing excess weight, continuing to keep it off & living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve seen how much happier they are & how much more energy they have which inspired me to give it a try so that Ben & I can start early. I’ve gained a little weight since we said our “I do’s” & I have one of those ‘sit at a computer for 8 hrs. a day’ jobs so I thought this would be a great way for us to both get into shape & learn to eat healthy.

After work yesterday I decided to sit in on one of their meetings (which is what they suggest you do if you’re interested). I got a few pamphlets from the receptionist & sat through a short meeting. Everyone there was 55+. There were some nice people & some ‘interesting’ people. One lady told a story about how she used to buy candy bars in bulk at Sam’s & binge eat them, but now she hasn’t had a candy bar or ice cream in 11 years. The funny thing is that she still doesn’t look very ‘healthy’ & apparently this is her second shot at WW. I guess you could say that it wasn’t really my ‘scene’ although I was really trying to blend in. I just felt a little like the whole time everyone was staring at me thinking, “Get out of here skinny girl!”

So at the end of the meeting the leader asked anyone who was new to come & sit up at the front so that she could go over the WW plan. After a few minutes she asked us to turn to page 34 of our booklets. All I had was a pamphlet with 15 pages in it. She acted surprised that they hadn’t given me one & asked me if I had signed up. I told her no & that I was just sitting in on the meeting to see what WW was about before I decided to join. She abruptly said, “Well, I’m not allowed to go over the plan with you then!” Dead silence followed with me picking up my purse & scurrying out. When I was almost out the door I heard a, “We hope you come back soon.” Yeah right!

Don’t get me wrong, I think WW is a wonderful program & we plan on getting their recipes from my mom so that we can incorporate healthy eating into our lives. I do feel like they need to work on how to ‘introduce’ the program better to their prospective clients without shooing them out the door…& that’s how I got kicked out of WW!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How did this happen?

We are still not sure how a trolley (max speed 20 mph) hits a car, or how a car hits a trolley. How did this happen?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quote of the Day, Followed by a Rant and Rave of the Day

“Man will always be imaginative enough to enlarge his needs beyond minimum requirements and selfish enough to feel the pressure if his needs are more than the needs of others.”—Reinhold Niebuhr in Moral Man and Immoral Society

Not to be taken out of context, this is referring to the fact that a perfect society cannot exist in which every man takes what he needs “according to his needs” (Niebuhr again). However, I feel as though this statement sums up a lot of what I have been feeling lately. It is the imagination that keeps us wanting more all the time, and it is our selfishness that makes us think that our needs are way more important than helping others. And at the base of all of this is not as much the problem of having too much, but the problem of apathy towards other peoples’ needs.

What I think I understand is, life is not a question of do I need this, but a question of do I want this more than I want to help someone else with their actual needs. Of course, if I quit buying things, then the economy would go down, jobs would be lost, and way more people would be needy—I had to think American capitalism to come up with that. Fortunately, we are not striving for a pure socialist society, so none of this really matters, right?

I’ll always be able to up my minimum requirements. Fortunately, with the use of credit cards and other lines of credit, I don’t even have to have to have. But will I ever realize that my having comes at the expense of not helping others have—I hope not! What a terrible way to live. When I need to get more furniture, I guarantee you that I will feel that “need” more than I will feel the “need” to contribute to an organization that takes care of homeless pregnant women (besides, they got themselves there, right? I deserve my couch).

These are the kinds of rantings and ravings that get me in trouble. This is supposed to be a blog about Ben and Monica and their perfect lives with their puppy, Cali. Perhaps I need to start my own blog somewhere else and vent there and save this blog for the cute stuff. This blog does not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of its host, OC, or its other blogger, Monica. I talked to Cali, though, and it does represent her view.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Cali's First Haircut

Poor Cali. Her hair was getting long and she was panting all the time, so we decided she really needed a haircut. Believe or not, she pretty much accepted the fact that she was going to get a shave no matter what, and she surrendered peacefully. It is hard to see, but I call this the “in like a lamb, out like a lamb” haircut because her body looks like a sheep, and her tail looks like a lion’s tail because I left the hair on the very end of her tail long.

Sam and Christel's Wedding

Congratulations! What a beautiful wedding!

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

No Uploads for You

Sorry, blog lookers, but I can’t upload any pictures for some reason. You would be seeing pictures of Cali’s first haircut, Sam and Christel’s wedding, and other assorted pictures. We hope to get this problem fixed soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Getting There!

Excuse our lack of updating, we are having fun keeping up with life. I have one week of school after this and then finals. Monica has a final in two weeks as well! The Matts came Monday night and left Tuesday morning and we are going to Christel and Sam’s wedding this weekend. This is all welcome, because life was getting a little boring there for a while.

Our bedroom is blue now. It was purple but this blue caught our eye in the store and purple was so 2 months ago. We actually painted it in one afternoon and evening. One major advantage of small rooms is the little amount of time it takes to paint. I hate to tape the room off so I just paint around the trim with amazing accuracy, and we don’t really use a drop-cloth because of our hardwood floors.

We have some good stuff in store for you soon, so check back early next week!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Adventures in Budgeting

Budget. There is a lot of transference on that word. Some of you may hate the word and want to destroy it, and others may find comfort and security in the word. Then there is the attachment we give to the word as a married couple. Budget can mean loss of freedom, control, and fun as we know it; or it may be a welcomed change from the financial stress surrounding your marriage. Whatever the meaning, we got to do it!

Today, I completed an elaborate budget spreadsheet—sorry Ramsey the Great, I hate your FPU sheets—and made a decent budget. I sent the budget to Monica so she could correct my attempts to disallow us any money for anything fun, and we came to a workable solution. It wasn't so bad! Sticking to it will be another matter, but I am pleased with the beast we created.

We need to update you on our get out of debt progress for the sake of our egos. We have not wavered from our $XXX/month pledge to our credit card. In fact, we are really excited for the day when we can save that chunk of money for something we might actually need.

The hardest part of this whole thing for Ben and Monica, though, is keeping money from being our security and our god. I think God does a pretty big battle with money and our hearts. Satan is like the ultimate loan shark because he can give you all the money you want with no strings attached, because he knows you will attach your own strings to money and Satan merely picks up the strings and ties you up. Fortunately, God can forgive our spiritual debts and remind us where our true treasure lies, which I am pretty sure is not in a bank vault.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Timeless Comments

We, at Barefoot in Memphis, want to apologize for the ridiculously long wait it takes to view the Comments section on our blog. We have no idea what is going on, and we don't know who to ask for help. We feel like we are letting ourselves down and you down, because it is almost not worth commenting if it takes too long. Thank you to those who bear with the long time lapse—you are brave.

I am off jury duty for the month. I went today but I did not make the cut. I did get interviewed by the judge, but one of the attorneys must have thought my hair was too spiky or something. I actually found myself wanting to be picked for two reasons—1) I had this real desire to be one of the 8 selected to be involved in all the courtroom drama, and 2) I would get paid more being there than I would with my dinky part-time maintenance job.

I would have been guaranteed two days of work, maybe three, but they sent me home. I heard a few details of the case and basically here is what you need to know in order to stay out of a similar situation—have car insurance or you will be sued by the person you hit who then enlisted one the major "TV Lawyer Firms"? in Memphis. I am making no claims towards the innocence or non-innocence of the defendant. Just stay up to date on car insurance with a reputable company.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Lie Factor

I think part of being a good friend is the ability to lie. For instance, anytime you ask a friend something about your appearance, they will almost always tell you that you look good, even if you look like a cross between Carrot Top and Benji. You don't want a friend to be too honest, so you welcome the lie and go on with your ugly self.

The other evening as I was shaving my face in the shower, I asked Monica if I got it all, and she said yes. I believed her, put my clothes on, and we left for home group. We got home that night and I looked at myself in the mirror and it looked like I had been shaved by a blind man with butter knife. I catch my wife in her lie, and all she says is, "I thought you were kidding!"? Thanks honey.

Anyway, good friends lie, and that is the way it needs to be. A quick lesson in girl language (Monica informed me of this)—When you are a girl and you change your appearance and then find yourself in the company of other girls, and they say nothing, it is because they hate your new look. It is a pretty funny phenomenon, because instead of lying, girls just act like they don't notice. If you are a guy and another guy looks odd, you are lucky because there is now a guy that looks worse than you and you have just moved up the food chain. In any of these situations you should lie—a good friend would do no less.

So, the key is to lie. Here are some good lie statements to try:

"Oh, your hair is so short."? (as if short could actually mean good)
"Where did you get that sweater, did 1987 come back?“"?

"That's a pretty color to paint a room that no one sees."?
"No, you don't look fat, everything else just looks small."?
"Nice shirt, who knew Ocean Pacific was still around."?
"Awesome jeans, I like how those pockets are high and spread out—makes your butt look small."?

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Office

Besides The Office quite possibly being the funniest show on TV right now (sorry Joey—ha), it is also a place where Monica goes to work everyday. Just in case you don’t know, Monica is no longer a travel agent. That job is long in the past as of December, and she is in a new job that pays her for the work that she does.

RemitDATA is the new place that she works. They are a company that does cool things with EOBs, ERNs, Medicare, and other insurance stuff. If you work for a health care provider and you want the most effective way to remit data and save tons of time a day by eliminating a good deal of paperwork with Medicare clients and other insurance providers, then contact RemitDATA. Plus, they have really awesome customer support personnel. Monica happens to be one of those customer support workers. She and Angie work with customers and keep them running with the service.

Monica has nothing against her old workplace, but sometimes there are just better places to be. The power of a stable income is great and has really helped us along, but Monica comes home a lot less stressed, gets paid for her hours, has awesome co-workers, great bosses, and gets to wear jeans for casual Fridays (which is pretty high on the list of benefits for her). The office is also in a cool location about 30 seconds away from the Mighty Mississippi.

This is a picture of the RemitDATA team.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Proud Parents!

When our baby was born in some factory somewhere up north in 1993, I’m sure she had no idea she would have come this far. She had two sets of parents before us, but Monica took full custody of her in college. I signed on to be a parent after we got married, mainly for insurance purposes, but we don’t talk about that around her. One of the days if she does the math, she’ll realize Monica had her before we joined in marriage. She’s been a good traveler, having gone to Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee—as far as we know.

She’s generally a good girl: Doesn’t complain too much (although she acts up at times), fairly low maintenance, and so forth. She’s been blessed with good self-esteem. Heaven knows it’s been hard for her to see new models every year. Needless to say, we are proud parents. Many people might have given up on her years ago, but we have always believed in investing in her. Whatever it takes to keep her moving on down the road is what we are willing to do. Sure she has her scratches and imperfections, but we don’t notice them.

Thank you, Bonneville.

Congrats on your 200K milestone!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Close to Home

On the way home from Nashville, we were listening to the radio and heard that 27 people died last weekend in Iraq, including 2 American soldiers. Every time I hear about soldiers losing their lives, I worry about my 2nd cousin, Wesley, as he is in Iraq. I (Ben) talked to my dad on Sunday and he told me that Wesley was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb that hit the jeep he was in. Unfortunately, the two other soldiers in the jeep with Wesley died, but fortunately he lived, but with some serious injuries. He is in Germany right now recovering. Please pray for Wesley and his family during this time.

I can't imagine what they are going through right now. Something like that really brings the war close to home. I feel like we dog the war and debate why we are in it more than we show concern for the lives that are being affected. I'll be the first to say that I don't think or pray enough about something that is touching so many lives. Whether or not we agree with the war, we have to agree that the soldiers like Wesley are true heroes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Walken '08!!

My dreams have come true! Christopher Walken is running for president. I promise you I think I am not joking. I am really looking forward to his campaign. It’s about time that we have somebody fun run for president.

Check out his website here. I personally like to read everything with his voice in mind. If he actually shows up on a ticket in 2008, I might have to give him my vote. I think he could win just by using his evil stare to intimidate people to vote for him.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Valentine's Horror

My wife made an awesome Valentine's Dinner for me on Tuesday night. It was toasted ravioli with salad, and a piece of pecan pie (my absolute favorite). We ate at our table with some pretty heart shaped candles and our nice crystal candles. After that we cuddled up and watched TV and stayed up until 1 AM because Gilmore Girls came on at midnight. Sounds like a perfect night, but bad things always happen on "perfect nights."?

Monica went to bed and I decided to take Cali to pee in the front yard because the backyard was muddy. Cali, being the wild beast that she is, found a dead bird amongst some leaves and ate it! I tried to stop her, but to no avail—she took care of that bird, that poor dead bird. In the intense struggle, I touched the dead bird in her mouth and felt like I needed a good hand washing. I washed my hands in the bathroom quite compulsively to get the obsessive thoughts of contracting the bird flu out of my mind. I then remembered I had some hand sanitizer in the car. "I'll be right back,"? I muttered to myself and to my sleeping wife Monica. In horror movie language, that means I'm gonna get axed. I go outside, get in the car, and sanitize my hands. As I am getting out of the car I see it . . .

I freaked out because I left the front door open and I was sure whoever had something to do with it was in my house killing my wife. I run inside, my heart beating and my adrenaline pumping and nothing. No man, no sound, just my wife sleeping like an angel. I say, "Oh my goodness, baby, there is a homeless person bike in our front yard on the other side of my truck."? "What are you talking about?"? she says. "There is a bike in our front yard and it is 1:30 in the morning."? She immediately runs to the window to look at the bike while I am freaking out—what if the scary bike owner is lurking around our house? What if he has been watching my every move? I called the police station—“An adult bike is in my yard, can you send a patrol car?"? They said yes and we waited and waited.

All of the sudden my wife yells at me with a whisper, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, some man just got on the bike and is riding off, come look."? I looked, but I missed him, but apparently he came from somewhere across the street, got on his bike and drove off down the middle of the street. I call the cops back and tell them they don't have to send anybody. They send two cars by anyway (10 minutes later) and shine their lights around, but no scary bike man in sight!

What did scary bike man want? Where did he come from? Why a bike? We have two hypotheses: 1. Having a secret affair or 2. Smoking and/or purchasing the reefer (marijuana for you older readers) from the guys (late teenage boys) who smoke the weed across the street. The bike—we can't figure out, but it was parked in our yard, next to my truck, at 1:30 AM.

And Justin, your challenge is to comment in a way that makes sense to others.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Exemption: DENIED, Drugs, and Shooting the Elderly

I thought checking the box for jury exemption that said I was a student would somehow exempt me from federal jury duty—No such luck! Apparently, even though you can claim that exemption, "There is no legal basis"? to grant me that exemption (at least that is what my denial letter said). Oh well, I will just have to serve my government by the freedom they extend to me by requiring me to serve on a federal jury. I'm sure I signed up for this somewhere, just like Iraq signed up to be a democracy (they might tap my phones for that comment).

Fortunately, my jury duty falls in the month of March when I have two weeks "off"? of school. So, I can't complain too much at all. Who knows, I might even find myself on the trial against my ex-drug using neighbor who was evicted, but since then has "upped her level of crime"? (presumably to get drugs)—at least that is what the sheriffs outside our house told us Thursday. I am talking about the suspiciously quiet people who rented the house next door and stole their air conditioners to get more drug money, not Floyd, our 90-year-old neighbor who is about the best neighbor anyone could have.

Speaking of old people. . . when the news came out that VP Cheney shot someone while hunting, I thought it was so funny that on our news that they said, "VP Cheney shot an elderly man while hunting quail yesterday."? True, he shot his hunting partner who was 72 years old, so I guess he did shoot an elderly man, but the news made it sound as if Cheney was hunting too close to an old folks home and shot some old guy on his scooter. However, I have to give News Channel 5 some points for the clever angle they took, Bravo!

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

1 out of 5 stars for the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl was a disaster. The commercials stunk, the halftime show stunk (unless you are a Rolling Stone fan, but maybe even then), and on top of that, the game wasn’t really that exciting. I hate Diet Pepsi now because of their sub-par commercial spots. Godaddy.com wins the award for the most tasteless, unfunny, and vulgar commercial. Cadillac Escalade wins for most car commercial time. Bud Light was the only beer that even cared to advertise besides Budweiser. I expected more out of the monkey commercials. Yes, there were other commercials, but they don’t deserve any awards because they just weren’t that great, kind of like the game and half time show.

Here are my changes: Let me and some friends screen the commercials for the next Super Bowl. Ban godaddy.com from ever advertising again. Require more beer companies to put out commercials. For halftime, quit with putting up a singer or group up that is only chosen because they are too old to cause any ruckus. Super Bowl halftime shows should be about putting the best show together with a whole host of performers that don’t have grandchildren my age. That doesn’t put Tom Petty out of the running, but he wouldn’t be a part of the Super Bowl anyway, because he doesn’t take part in things that are purely about advertising and corporate sponsorship. Have both teams bribe the refs instead of just one team, like the Steelers, so the game will be worth watching. These are just a few changes I would suggest for a better Super Bowl experience.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

State of the Marital Union

Inspired by the recent State of the Union Address by W, we (as in Ben) thought we would have a State of the Marital Union Address. Please feel free to stand up and clap after every few statements to draw this entry out as long as possible. It’s been a great year of marriage and the outlook appears to be great.

Our economy started slow and fluctuated last year (2005), requiring us to go into a major deficit, but we are taxing ourselves more now to pay off that debt. By the middle of this year, we plan on balancing our budget and getting rid of our debt. Hopefully our economy will be out of the red in 2006. Although, there is fear on the horizon, as the Bonneville is showing signs of breakdown.

We have now won the War on Terror. If you’ve had a puppy, you know what I mean. Occurrences of sock suicide missions are down, and the enemy (Cali) has been subdued. We are now enjoying a time of peace with our perfect little puppy. An agreement has been reached with Cali that if we pay attention to her and scratch under her chin, she will hold back her attacks.

The No Child Left Behind is a tremendous success, as we have no child to leave behind.

Overall, last year was a good year. Just like the State of the Union, we rose tint everything in our clever rhetoric. However, I think that is what we need to do in marriage—look back and remember our successes and strengths. So, the State of the Marital Union gives us great hope in the future and fond memories of the past. There is every indication that we should continue to strive on towards a more perfect union.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Jury Duty and a Town Hall Meeting

Finally, a chance to serve the great democracy we live in through federal jury duty. I sure hope the full-time student exemption I claimed doesn’t go through so I can serve and miss class! I’m trying to lay the sarcasm down pretty thick. If I had nothing else to do, I think it would be fun to serve on a jury, but this time I can hopefully pass.

In other fun news, we had a great home group town hall meeting, and have sorted some things out. I realized I had too many agendas for the meeting, and having other people voice their considerations helped me see a better way (hence the reason we had a town hall meeting). This paragraph means nothing to you if you are not in a young married home group at Sycamore View. We now have a great home group plan and with a lot of work, intentionality, and prayer, the new plan should work.

Last and least exciting, Monica decided to get sick last night after the meeting and stay up all night hugging the toilet. We can’t trace the illness to any one thing she ate, but I know one thing, I’ll never dare her to drink a whole gallon of milk in an hour again! Monica knows how to be sick, though. I thought I was sleeping with a little kitten with a broken paw all night. She's gaining her strength today, and should back on her A-game tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pray for Secrets

I determined today we carry too much stuff around with us that we have to keep a secret. I also determined that I hate how it has to be like that. I imagine you can think of at least 5 people right now who you know need help because you know their secret. They might not even know that you know their secret, and for some reason, it is better that way.

I just thought it would be nice if we prayed for all the stress and confusion we all are feeling because all the secrets we carry around, be it our own secrets, or the secrets of others. I am not sure there is a much worse pain than the pain of knowing someone else is hurting and you can't say or do anything about it. Add that pain to your own pain and all the other people's pain you have taken on and you have to be careful not to explode. We carry a lot of pain, and if it wasn't for being a part of God's kingdom, it would be a tough life. We need to pray for each other!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Babies, Babies, Babies

To have a baby or to not have a baby…that is the question. More importantly, WHEN to have a baby or when not to have a baby seems to be more realistic in our case. I know it’s not surprising that it seems that everyone around us has a baby, is pregnant or is trying to have a baby. Sure, there are the few & the proud that have chosen not to have kids or to wait several years until the fad is over in our age group & everyone has given up & then SURPRISE, they’ll start popping them out & be those 60 yr. old parents whose kids are still in high school.

We’re going on 2 1/2 years with it just being me, Ben & in the recent year Cali (our practice child). We’ve been talking a lot lately about parenting styles & who’s going to be the disciplinarian, etc. Obviously, we plan on waiting until Ben is out of grad school & has a job so he isn’t trying to balance homework & ‘dadwork’ at the same time. Beyond that though there’s always the financial stability issue & is someone going to stay home with the baby & how many kids do we want to have & how far apart should we have them & what things do we want to do BEFORE we’re parents…the list goes on & on.

Right now we’re perfectly content with our little family. We are excited to have kids someday, but are also excited to spend these few years together without all the chaos. Maybe we should get another puppy before diving into parenthood just to be safe. Any advice on this subject would be truly appreciated.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Parenting Class

I had a meeting with a committee at church last night and Monica decided to go attend a class. This was our first time to go to church on a Wednesday night at Sycamore View (and we call ourselves Christians!?!). So, I went to my top secret man committee meeting and Monica chose the only class she was really interested in—the Parenting Class. This class uses short videos every week from Focus on the Family starring Dr. Dobson and then the Family Life Minister facilitates discussion of questions different parents have. Monica will continue to ask questions until they find out we don’t have kids, but are trying to apply the advice to our dog Cali (i.e. why does our “kid” steal our underwear and try to eat it in the backyard?).

The other night on Scrubs, kids were described as being like dogs that slowly learn how to talk. Actually, Monica’s rationale is that we need to know about parenting before we have kids (no we are not trying, nor are we pregnant) so we have something to go on. I will join her in the class when my man committee doesn’t meet. Does this sound funny to anyone else? I mean the part about the class, not the part about us having kids someday.

We’ll try to pass some tidbits on as we develop our parenting style that will totally change when we actually have kids someday, but maybe something will stick . . . you know, for Monica because she is the woman and she will be raising the kids (please know I am either joking or getting a butt whoopin’ tonight or both).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Book of Daniel

I have to put my quick two sense in on this Book of Daniel TV series coming out. Apparently it will not be shown in several cities including Little Rock. The show has not even aired yet and it has caused quite a stir. It looks like the show is based on a priest who has a drug addict wife, gay son, and other personal and family problems. It also looks like Jesus makes a few cameos throughout the show to help this priest out with everything. You can only imagine the uproar this has caused in Christian circles—they don't want the show aired at all because it is just not right theologically and religiously.

Here's what I think. This is typical of American Christianity—let's attack this show because it has something to do with the Bible. What about all the other shows that constantly portray Christians as rigid, extreme, women oppressors who can only see one side of an issue?

ER is about as anti-Christian as it can get sometimes. For instance, last week a conservative Christian family comes to the ER because their 15 year old girl was raped and now pregnant. The parents said it was God's will for this to happen and they want to keep it. The show then portrayed the girl as an innocent, brainwashed victim of an oppressive Christian home. Long story short, the girl is given a special application of something that hardens the uterus and somehow causes a miscarriage in many cases. The girl is told that this is God's way to reconsider his will, and her parents will just think it is a miscarriage—Christian dilemma solved, oppressive Christian values defeated. Hmmm. . . lying, dishonesty, deception, etc. Where is the outcry against this? Wait, ER is too good of a show, it just represents our culture, blah, blah, blah. Don't worry, we'll keep watching it in my home.

We could go into so many more examples in shows like CSI, The Office, Scrubs, The OC, Las Vegas, etc. I mention these because we watch many of them and we're not doing anything about it either. My point is this—be consistent. We can't pick and choose shows because they "directly"? deal with the Bible and it might look bad for us "Christians."? We need to be on the front lines against many shows that attack Christianity and make us look crazy.

The real bottom line: the best way to get rid of TV shows is to not watch them (like Joey, per example) and show people what Christianity really is (like Curt Sparks). I've heard estimates that the country is 90% Christian. That is a lot of TV programming power. But more than that, people need to see what Christians are really like from your actions, not ER.

Unfortunately, ER and other shows are not exaggerating what they've seen Christians to be like, they don't need to. And what if, like the Book of Daniel series, some Christians are fighting battles against addictions and homosexuality, while looking for Jesus—even if what he says does not seem perfectly theologically consistent to us. It might not be a bad representation of many Christians, or it might be a slam on mainstream Christianity. . . I guess we'll have to watch and see, since it does not conflict with our other shows. As for me and my household, we will serve the __TV __LORD (Check one).

Monday, January 9, 2006

The Challenge

Here is the goal for the first half of our year: Pay off our no-interest credit card before it becomes an interest bearing card in July. This is a big goal for us, because the payment we have to make to achieve this goal each month is about 18% of our income. We are pretty psyched about it because Monica’s new job actually pays her for the work she does, so we have a stable income.

Yesterday, while I washed the dog, Monica cancelled our other credit cards-one even offered to transfer our balance we are trying to pay off and give us 0% interested for 12 more months (jerks!), but we resisted the devil, and he fled from us. Our tax return money should pay for our car insurance, and the little extra money I bring in working my 2 jobs will mainly go to payments. We can do it and we are going to do it, with the hope of no major accidents or surprises!

We have a few strategies we are employing. #1. Praying #2. Eating in more and taking our lunches to work everyday #3. Making all of our payments, including the credit card, as early as we can in the month and live off the rest (might not work for everyone, but it does us) #4. Not lowering our standard of what we give to God #5. Keeping a cushion in our account so we do not have to use the credit card again #7. Not being stupid with our money (i.e. buying things we don’t really need—this is a tough one)

We are going to do it and by the end of June we are going to have $0 on our credit card. We are willing to challenge anybody to do the same and go for it with us—you just have to set a goal for some month this year and tell us. It would be way easier to have others to go for this goal with us. Grand prize (unlimited number of winners): You’ll have no more stinkin’ credit card payments and can begin to actually make some money.

Friday, January 6, 2006

New Drapes and a Clean Couch

Monica picked out these new curtains from Target last night and I was in charge of hanging them up this morning. It is amazing how she can make our front room look so pretty. The night before she took all the stuffing out of the couch cushions, darned the holes, and washed the cushions. Then we put the stuffing back in and now it looks incredibly clean—no more water spots where Cali decided to lick the couch.

Plus, we got Cali a doggie bed and she is no longer allowed on the couch. We’ve been busy with the little things . . . I’m glad they are only little things!

Curtains 2

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Welcome to 2006!

The New Year has arrived and we made no New Year's resolutions. Are we underachievers or are we just realists? Perhaps we don't make resolutions because we get everything done anyway and we are pretty much perfect. Or maybe we just didn't make them because we didn't want to. You be the judge.

I think it would be fun to make Chinese New Year Resolutions, but then I fear the fortune cookie would lose some of its mystery. We could make a New Year's UN resolution, but then only us and our British friends would do it, and everyone else would hate us for it, and it would even bother some of us after awhile. Then, you have to contend with the fact that there is no New Year's resolution example in the Bible—not even a necessary or unnecessary inference.

I think our best example is the new day resolution given by Jesus when he said we have to take up our cross daily and follow him (Lk. 9). Maybe instead of trying to fit inside a pair of pants or our bathing suits we should think about putting on our cross everyday, because I definitely don't fit my cross. By the way, just like the New Year's resolution, it is okay if you fail as long as you keep trying and don't say you'll start tomorrow, because you won't—start today!