Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mas is Over

Phew! We made it through Christmas. This year the holiday went really well for us. We actually drove through 300 miles of fog to get to Springfield from Memphis, and then 450 miles of rain and snow (sometimes mixed) from OKC to Memphis (it's a 500 mile trip). It let up a few miles outside of Memphis, and we were reminded that Memphis must be the Promised Land.

We both have amazing families. We stayed with each family for 2.5 days—we try to make it as even as possible. Much Wii was played, and Guitar Hero 3 was a hit with the adults under 40. We ate and ate, opened gift after gift, and went to bed later and later. Now, it is time to recoup and decide how to spend our Christmas monies.

However, besides the picture in the previous blog and some caroling, we didn't do a lot of thinking about Jesus. Part of that was the Sunday sermon did not have a focus at all on the birth of Jesus, and part of it was that we got so wrapped up in the other holiday stuff. I'm okay with it, though, because it is hard to balance consumer Christmas with spiritual Christmas. Also, the importance of Jesus' birth goes far beyond one day a year. Remembering Christ daily seems to take precedence over celebrating one day. Plus, as a C of C member, I know that Christmas wasn't really Jesus birthday! Maybe we should drop the Christ part and just call it Mas—the season of more. Merry Mas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Reason for the Season

Spotted in Strafford, Missouri, during our holiday travels…it doesn’t get much better than this!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What is My Legacy?

From time to time, I have a tendency to go into philosopher mode and post something on the blog. Ninety-five percent of the time I hold back; however, I often run into recurring themes in my life and I feel a need to pass it on to you. Take it or leave it, but at least think about it for a second.

The question I've heard in self-help books and from motivational speakers is this: What do you want your legacy to be? I come up with grandiose statements in my head—loving husband, father, and Christian who did it all and still had time for his friends. BUT, what I, and probably others, often run into is this question: What is my legacy now? This can be haunting question if you let it. People who complain they don't know who they are or why they are here may be fighting a legacy battle. What if the legacy you think you can't find is the one you are living right now? What if your legacy set for you by family, friends, yourself, is to be a wanderer, or an unrealized potential, or the family project. That's a sobering thought, at least for me. Nobody is legacy-less.

Hope comes in when you realize you can be different than the path set out for you. I'm trying to do this. I don't have to be here for what others put me here for—a huge statement indeed. It is possible for me to live a life for myself and God and start my own legacy. Col. 3 attests to this (and I paraphrase)—not until I rid myself of my human-given legacy and the things that old life includes will I begin to find my place in Christ as a new creation. Not all legacies given to you by others are bad, but they'll never be yours or feel like yours until you completely embrace them yourself. I don't want my legacy to be, "He lived up to other peoples' expectations so well,"? or even, "He was just like so and so"?—no offense, so and so. I want my legacy to be, "Ben,"? and then everybody laughs to themselves because they know Ben. So, if you are struggling with the legacy question, maybe it is time to ask yourself whose legacy you are trying to live up to or carry out. If you don't like it, change it—but be ready for struggle.

These are my thoughts and opinions only, not empirically validated statements.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Have a Wii

This is probably no big deal to most people, but we (or Monica with my b-day money) somehow ordered a Wii off of Amazon last week. Apparently a co-worker had a watch on the item, alerted Monica when it came up, and we got it for retail, and not from one of those special people trying to sell them for $500 and causing false supply and demand—bless their hearts. Anyway, my recent rants about materialism have been challenged, and I gave in to this guilty pleasure. It happens.

Last week Monica told me that she did not want me to play it too much because she did not want me to get better at it than her. I told her I was “naturally” better at it anyway and it wouldn’t matter. In fact, I specifically told her she had never beaten my bowling score. She beat me 158 to 150 the first time we played! Hey, sometimes us naturals have bad games. . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chinese Proverb

Tension is who you think you should be.
Relaxation is who you are.

Chinese Proverb

Who are the “Chinese” and where do they come up with these amazing “Proverbs”? This wise saying pretty much sums up my entire life, which is full of tension, not relaxation. This was not from a fortune cookie so please do not try to add any prepositional phrases to the end of it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Yay for Turkey Day! Hope everybody has a wonderful and joyous day. Remember, there is a reason every holiday movie is based around a family ready to kill each other—it is so unimaginable that it can only happen in movies! We’ll be in Arkansas and Missouri and then be back in Memphis for my (Ben’s) birthday on Monday. I will not be shopping on Green Friday, but Monica might go for it.

Pecan pie awaits. . .

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Views on Stuff

“Wow, that’s a pretty good price for a TV,” was my thought the other day as I looked at a $1299.99 42-inch 1080p LCD HDTV at the store.

What has happened to me? Since when is $1300 a good amount of money to spend on a TV? I am embarrassed by this sort of thinking, but it is becoming all to normal for my mind to go into this mode. Wait a minute, though, I deserve this and I work hard; plus, we have been suffering watching on our 27-inch TVs since we got married. We watch a lot of TV, we might as well invest in an area we spend most of our home time.

I’ve quit opening my Bible to any passages that might remind me of what God revealed to us in scripture about money and possessions. That stuff quit applying to me a long time ago because I do enough good things for others to make me exempt from having to cut down on my possessions. My things don’t keep me getting close to God! I am God-blessed American, and America has the market on camels that go through eyes of needles. The fact that my wife and I have more talks about money and possessions than we do about God, spirituality, or our relationship means nothing. After all, I can’t serve God if I don’t have any money, right?

Show me one television commercial concerning Christmas that does not imply that Christmas will only be good if you put the right stuff under the tree. In a Wal-Mart commercial, a wife says, “This is going to be a good Christmas.” Why, because she got a TV and an HD-DVD player for her husband. Oh, I am being so judgmental, maybe gift-giving is her “love language,” in which case, she’s cleared. I am not against Christmas, I am against making the value of a time or experience based on the value of the material gifts. I’m guilty of this, but pledge to make it different this year. This year I am going to try my damndest to value who I am with and what we are doing more than the value of what I get. I vow to put more value on the time spent playing Monopoly with my in-laws than on what’s under the tree. I vow to appreciate the time with my family that I see 2-3 times a year more than the envelope in the stocking that I know has money in it. This is going to be a difficult holiday season for me!

I struggle with possessions every day and I hate it. What if Jesus meant literally what he said about money? I sure hope what the Bible says about grace covers my sins of materialism and putting things before God. We are not called to move to Africa and have nothing, although some of us are. I believe when we quit struggling with worldly possessions, that’s when it becomes a problem. When I walk into a store and think a $1300 TV is a good deal, I need to be on guard. When I give less at church than I do at the restaurant that afternoon, I need to think about my life. Now, where I did leave my iPod. . .

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Who's That Puppy in the Road?

Today as we were taking Cali on her post-bath walk we saw a little Boston Terrier run across a busy street in front of a car & almost go to doggy heaven (yes, we believe in doggy heaven). We proceeded to take her back home with us & call the phone # on her tag because that is what we hope someone would do if Cali were ever lost.

The phone # was to a pet rescue organization & this little puppy is being housed in a foster home until they find a permanent home for her. We found out that her name is Kobi & her foster mom came to pick her up promptly after we called & thanked us for finding her & calling. If you or someone you know is interested in adopting her please check out the Guardian Angel Pet Rescue web site.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

For Your Inspiration

Joel, my brother, recommended the movie Peaceful Warrior (2006). Respecting his advice I rented it ($1.49 at Blockbuster) and gave it a watch. If you have a chance, rent this movie. I was impressed and it really impacted me on a spiritual level. I actually cried, and if you know me well, you know I hardly ever cry. Something about this movie connected with me and I can't stop thinking about it.

I used the word "spiritual"? in the above paragraph, and I want to qualify the term. The movie is not a "Christian"? spiritual movie and it does not talk about God and Jesus Christ. In fact, the spirituality is more of an Eastern/Buddhist type, and yet it does not explain it in such a way that one must become a Buddhist (meaning at the end of the movie it does not ask you to pray a special prayer). This movie is spiritual because it deals with the inside of a man/woman and his/her spiritual battles occurring there—meaning of life, control, and happiness type issues. I actually found it quite consistent with MY Christian belief system. The movie portrays a sense of finding power from within, and as a Christian, I believe in a power within, whether or not I really understand it. The movie gave me an idea of how to connect with that power better.

As always, I know some people will not like this movie at all. If you watch movies primarily to be entertained, this is probably not your ideal rental. If you are introspective and like to be challenged by movies, give this movie a try. If you like be inspired by movies, this is a good one. If other views of God or spirituality offend you, rent with caution. If you do watch it or have watched it, I would like your take on it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Runnin' Down a Dream

Last night we were treated to an amazing cinematic experience. It had everything we could ask for in a movie—Tom Petty, Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker's music, and Tom Petty interviews. Yes, for four and a half hours we were treated to the unbelievably awesome documentary that is Tom Petty: Runnin’ Down a Dream on the biggest cinema screen in town. Actually, Monica got the full experience because I joined her after my class at 9 and surprised her by showing up at the theater. I told her that missing this would be like missing our wedding—and I wasn't joking.

Yesterday was the only showing in theaters and today the documentary is being released at Best Buy for $24.99. I am pretty sure we are getting it, plus, I need to see the first half. If you are a TP fan, get it! If you are not a fan, don't get it, because you just might not understand, and that would be a disgrace to the film.

Monica introduced me to Tom when we started dating, and he has been an integral part of our relationship ever since. He's been on countless road trips with us and been in many of our conversations. He's even been on our blog a few times. We didn't go to bed until 1am last night because we were talking about him. I have respect for a man who says, "Country music today is like a bad rock band with a fiddle"? (this statement received thunderous applause in the theater). He's honest, doesn't back down, and lives his life without feeling like he needs to explain himself. Music isn't his job, it is something he feels he has to do. What a way to live!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Blog about James

Congrats to the winner of the name-that-commercial contest, James Wood! I hope to have more contests for people that do not have Tivo and still watch commercials. I am assuming, of course, that James and Andrea do not have Tivo. As promised, here is a blog about my good friend James.

James and I have some fundamental differences. James does not like soccer and I do; James can debate anything well, I debate most things poorly; James uses big words, while I stick to smaller ones; James likes coffee, I think coffee is from Satan; James actually moved out of Memphis after his time here, I am still in Memphis. It is as if we are from completely different worlds.

You may be thinking that it would take a miracle for us to get along with all these major differences. Somehow, quite possibly against the intentions of fate, we became pretty good friends. I remember many conversations in the HUGSR mansion while we were both GAs and slaving away. I don’t know what many of them were about, but I am sure they were important. We served on the Student Association at HUGSR together and changed the school forever (not really, but there are couches in the library now). Anyway, we had a good time hanging out.

As I was thinking about what to write about James, I thought I should come up with 5 adjectives to describe him. I then found words that have a lot of letters in them that are synonyms of those words, because sometimes I think this is the process James goes through in his head when he talks. So here goes my attempt to compliment James on his level. The 5 adjectives I would use to describe James are magnanimous, insouciant, perspicacious, conscionable, and mirthful. And with those words I conclude my blog about James.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

". . . would do the same me."?

After being interrogated by an insurance auditor yesterday and breaking a picture this morning on accident, I received a plea from an seller attempting to get excellent feedback from me. The seller wrote, “Thank you for shopping at seller’ I left a excellent feedback for you would do the same me. ” I have some feedback, “Uh . . . what?” (I’ll write a blog about you if you can tell what commercial that line in quotes comes from). I am protecting the seller’s name for his or her own privacy. Below is my reply:

Well, the book did have a lot more markings in it than the description led me to believe, but I just might give you some feedback because of your plea. However, there are more pressing issues. For instance, your message was really confusing. You wrote, “Thank you for shopping at seller’ I left a excellent feedback for you would do the same me.” The second phrase does not even make sense. Your first one is okay, but the second is awful. In primary school I learned that the articles “a” and “an” are used at different times depending on the first sound on the following syllable. Please consult a primary school grammar book for further instruction. The funny thing is, you do not even need an article in there at all, but I see how it could be confusing, so I will keep it in there! What I am trying to say is that your sentence should read, “I left an excellent feedback for you . . .” I am not going to get technical about the second part of the sentence because I don’t want it to get confusing. It read, “. . . would do the same me.” It literally hurt to type it like that. Is that even English? First of all, it is a run-on sentence, but some simple punctuation would help. Second, I can’t even tell if it is a question or a command. The command would read, “You would do the same for me.” The question would read, “Would you do the same for me?” I would prefer the question because it feels less manipulative and needy, although it still has a strong sense of neediness. I do not want to pick on your tactics for trying to get excellent feedback, but I do want to help you with the wording of your plea. If you are going to ask for excellent feedback, please cut and paste the following: “Thank you for shopping at seller’ I left an excellent feedback for you. Would you please do the same for me?” Or, if you want to keep the second sentence together, you could write, “Thank you for shopping at seller’ I left an excellent feedback for you, would you please do the same for me?” I will guarantee that you will get better feedback if you will use correct grammar. At the very least, you will avoid people like me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Work, Work, Work

Due to the overwhelming responses to our last few blogs, I thought I would write something not boring. We realized when we go to blogs and we see pictures of happy people on vacation, it makes us hate them, and I mean hate. So, if you hate us, we totally understand. We hate you when you go on vacation. There has also been some controversy surrounding the amount of skin we are showing in some of those pictures. Sorry, but we were in Jamaica and they boo and hiss at you if you have clothes on—we did not want to offend.

We are both now full-time employees. And I am not going to speak for Monica, but it feels good. Grad school finally ended and all my fears about finding work have been vanquished. Work, work, work . . . it’s what we do. I figure if we write a blog about work, we won’t be as much of a threat as when we talk about incredibly awesome vacations to Jamaica with white sand beaches and crystal blue water.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Where Would You Move?

Disclaimer: This blog in no way implies we are about to move anywhere, so no jumping to conclusions.

The question: Where (in the USA) would you live if you could live anywhere?

Follow-up question: If you are not living there already, what keeps you from living there?

My answer to get things going: Denver, CO. I am not living there because I just finished school and do not have a job lined up over there and haven’t had time to look. Plus, I am fairly content in Memphis and major change scares me.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Jamaica Mon

Regretfully, we returned from our 4-day Jamaica trip Monday evening. We celebrated our 4-year anniversary and Ben’s completion of his degree on this beautiful island. For all who want to know, the hurricane really did not affect the place we were at all—it was sunny skies and crystal blue water for us.

It was terrible getting back to Memphis after being in paradise. Sometimes near the end of vacations we both have that feeling that it is time to get back to our normal lives, but neither of us had that feeling at all. We had no desire to get back (except for seeing Cali again). We highly recommend going to Couples Swept Away when you go to Jamaica because it is an amazing resort and we were spoiled from the second we got there.

Catamaran Cruise
Our Last Night

Friday, August 17, 2007

Spiders and Hurricanes

The picture of the spider here may be misleading. Monica battled this spider to the death (and won) the other morning because I was not there to do the dirty work. She did, however, take a picture of the spider to prove that it was "huge."? The misleading part is the drain the spider is next to is actually 2 feet in diameter! Okay, I am lying, but that is what it would take for a spider to be "huge"? in my book. I thought about writing a long blog about how much Monica dislikes spiders, but there are more important things to discuss . . . like hurricanes.

Hurricane Dean is headed right for Jamaica, which is right where we are supposed to go next week for our vacation. This has us worried, although there is no telling what the hurricane will do, if anything, to our vacation destination. But then it dawned on us that we should probably be more worried about people potentially losing their lives, than whether or not we get to go next week. We have travel insurance, so we are in good shape, but there are people that do not have much who might lose everything in this storm if it hits Jamaica and other places (it already nailed St. Lucia). So, vacation or no, let's hope Dean calms down and all the islanders are safe.

Friday, July 27, 2007

m's Favorite Dinner Picture

More evidence I have the most beautiful wife in the world!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Guests Galore

In the months of June and July, we were blessed with many guests. In June my sister, mom, and three nephews stayed with us for a week. July brought Patrick for 5 days and Michael for 2 1/2 days. We totaled it up and found we had guests staying with us 13 out of 30 days! That is a lot for us, but we really enjoyed it. It is nice to have a change of pace and new people. The only problem is that it reminds us of why having one bathroom is tough, and especially one right in the middle of the house.

Also, having guests is often embarrassing because we have very little food. We didn't even have any salad dressing when my family arrived! This is normal, though, and we've come to accept it. We are amazed when we go to someone's house and they have a full refrigerator—how do they do it? Maybe this is the DINK (dual income no kids) life. We never cook anything that takes more than 2 or 3 ingredients, mainly because after a day of work we just don't care to cook.

So, Monica's birthday is Saturday and we will be on a float trip! Wait, weren't we just on a float trip last weekend? Why yes, we were. I guess we are just gluttons for punishment. Anyway, Monica will be a year older and wiser and prettier! Next weekend we will celebrate with her family in Springfield, MO. Here is a funny thing (at least I think) about Monica. She gets birthday cards in the mail and will not even think about opening them until her actual birthday. I think this is crazy, especially since I know there is money in them, but somehow she has the discipline to wait.

Monica, Michael (Bubby), and Beale Street

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” ~ Frederick Douglass

Friday, June 29, 2007

Adult Lesson #57

When you start stacking trash on top of the lid of your trash can, it is probably time to take out the trash.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm Done With Class—Sort of

Saturday marked the last class for my Master’s of Arts in Counseling! Technically, Friday was the last day, but I still had to take a final on Saturday, which counts as class in my book. Anyway, I am finished with class related to my Master’s degree, although I will have to pick up classes here and there for different certifications that will make me more marketable; BUT, there is just something about knowing I don’t have to take another class unless I so desire. I wish I did not have to do papers for both of those classes, but that is how intensive courses work here—you do all the reading and take the tests, and then have 10 weeks to get the rest finished. I feel like I needed to tell you that because I am not finished until those stinkin’ papers are finished. There will be no party until that time, so no premature celebration, you might jinx me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Our Beautiful Puppy Dog

Cali deserves some spotlight on our blog. She is such a good dog and we love her. She has taken to sleeping on the rug—it's her special place. She also lies down on the porch when we sit in our chairs. If she had better parents, she could probably do more than sit, but we aren't big on the trick thing. But one thing we do know is that she is a beautiful dog.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Best Friend's Wedding

Last weekend we went to Austin & Rachel’s wedding just 8 hrs. away in Fort Worth, TX. We checked into our hotel at 3:15 with plenty of time to relax before the wedding at 7. However, from out of nowhere Ben decided to take one more look at the invitation & discovered that the wedding was not at 7 - it was at 2. We completely missed the wedding! Our first reaction was actually laughing hysterically, but shortly thereafter, panic set in & we had to kick it into high gear. Fortunately, we were invited to a private reception, but we were dirty & needed to shower, shave, iron clothes & figure out how to get to the reception.

After getting ready in record time, we flew down the road to get to the reception that we hoped was still going on. We made it to Stockyard Station & finally found where the reception was, but when we found it at 4:30, nobody was there. Turns out we were the first ones there, phew! In fact, no one got there until 5:15. We saw several good friends from our old alma mater OC, including Beau & Jeff & Amy, we danced with our awkward white rhythm, & we had several opportunities to converse with the new couple. And yes, we told them we completely missed their wedding.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Race to Nashville

Summer is here, and that means random weekend trips and a lot of fun. This last weekend was one of those trips. On Thursday my brother Mark called and said he was running a race in Nashville on Saturday night, and wanted to know if he could stay with us Sunday night.

Well, we decided to one up that and go watch him race on Saturday night. Justin and Brandy let us crash at their place (I played many hours of Nintendo Wii) with short notice. We ate at our beloved Maggiano’s (incredible ravioli and tiramisu), and then went to the race on the Vanderbilt campus.

Mark ran at about 10:30 PM and I got some pretty lousy pictures with the dark conditions—Mark is the one in the red. Despite my bad pictures, he ran a personal best in the mile—a 4:02.52! That is pretty smokin’ fast. He didn’t win, but he did meet his goal of running his fastest time yet. Of course, the whole trip would have been wasted if he didn’t run really fast (just kidding!). Anyway, it was a fun time and we enjoyed hanging out with Mark Sunday evening. It is hard to get family to the east side of the Mississippi, so we have to snatch up any chance we can get. He asked me when we would be in Edmond next, and it was a little sad because we don’t have any plans to until Thanksgiving or so. BUT, summer is here, and that means random weekend trips and a lot of fun. This next weekend we will be in Fort Worth, TX, for Austin Grove’s wedding.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gainfully Employed

Is that a real term—gainfully employed? I’ve heard it pronounced “gangfully” employed in Memphis and from my Oklahoma days. There are many young men “gangfully” employed in Memphis, but I am not one of them. I am, however, going to start working for a paycheck starting Monday, May 21st. I am being hired by Christ Community Health Services as a part-time counselor. It is really a great fit because they don’t need me full-time yet, and I have to take my last two classes for my Master’s degree in Counseling this summer. It is amazing how God works in our lives.

We are pretty excited about this opportunity! It takes a lot of anxiety off me about looking for a job as soon as I finish school, and it takes some pressure off Monica as the sole provider for our family (I am thankful everyday for the sacrifices she’s made for me to go to school). We don’t plan to live any different, but we want to actually save money—something we have not been able to do, or tried hard enough to do, in the last few years. Anyway, the point is that I am working for real money in a place that values serving everybody in the community we’re in, and not just those who can afford it. Of course, that has its advantages and disadvantages, but for right now, this is where I need to be, and where I believe God wants me right now.

Monica’s take on all this: I couldn’t be more proud of Ben & for all the hard work he’s put into these past 3 yrs. working on his Masters! I am going to have to break him of his habit of having a book or a laptop in front of him at all times, but I’m sure he’ll always be studying something so I’d better get used to it. I’m very excited to start this new chapter in our lives & in our marriage. I plan on pursuing my career & interests as well as spending as much of our extra money traveling as Ben will let me. Click below for some fun pics from this past weekend in Missouri!

Putt Putting w/ Dinosaurs
The Fam

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Looking to the Future

Papers are in, one final was taken, and I only have one final left. It feels so good to be at this point every semester. All that procrastination for two weeks. It’s worth it, I enjoy where I am, and my classes are excellent.

I am also almost all done in regards to my MA in Counseling degree. I, or we (since Monica has experienced as much as the stress as I have), started in August of 2004, and I will turn in my final papers for my final classes in August of this year. Three years almost exactly! It will be such a relief for both of us, and we will then start a new chapter in our lives. On August 23, 2004, we went to On the Border for our anniversary, and we had no idea how we would survive this new life (we’d just been here 3 days). This August 23, 2007, we will be in Jamaica for our anniversary! Not a bad difference at all.

What will we do next? That is the question of the hour. Sorry, Casey and April, we are not having a baby right away (see comments 4 blogs ago); however, we do have plans for that in the future, but not soon at this point. We’re not moving, either. Three years ago, all we wanted to do was leave Memphis and shake the dust off our feet. Now, we can see ourselves being here for quite some time. Who knew? What we do know is this is a great place, and we love our friends, church, and we have good jobs.

Jobs? Yes, I have a job opportunity open to me right now, and I will start working this summer! Monica will continue to work hard at RemitDATA, but she won’t be the only source of income anymore. Apparently, though, just because I will work does not mean I can play more golf:( It means we can take care of the things we’ve been needing to do because we’ve refused to use credit cards, but after that I can play more golf and Monica can shop more. Anyway, we’re going to be here for a while. That’s still strange to say, but we’re getting used to it. I feel like we should plant a tree in the yard or something. As one friend might say, we’re getting more domestic (but not in Edmond, ha!).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Left Me for Vegas

I just wanted to let everyone know that Monica has been in Las Vegas, Nevada, most of this week for work. It could not have worked out better, though, because this is paper week (one down, one to go). I don’t have to feel bad that I didn’t go to bed last night. Well, I kind of feel bad because Cali makes it her mission to stay up with me, so she is pretty tuckered this morning. Anyway, maybe we can put a picture up of Monica in Vegas soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Paper Week

Well, it is paper week at HUGSR, and it is nuts. . . for the M. Div Bible guys, that is. Man do they stress out about their papers! My M. Div days are over, but I remember those days. However, I never spent as much time in the library as many of these guys. It kind of makes me feel inferior—kind of like I should work really hard on my papers. I do have a few things in my favor, and I would like to list them:

6. They are typically shorter in length
5. No commentaries or feszhersdgscktnrifts to look up
4. I focus on quality time, not quantity time (not that they don’t)
3. I know my counseling professors will accept me no matter what I write (if they don’t like it, it’s because there is something going on inside of them)
2. We only work in one language, and our original manuscripts are in English
1. They’re just easier, especially since I get to write about how I feel about what I write—that’s at least 2 pages!

I was not trying to be funny. I just want you to know how much easier my life is during these weeks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Animal Kingdom Discovery

I was reminded yesterday morning that Cali is a dog and not human. She proceeded to puke something up and then eat it again. That is not only not human, but utterly disgusting. Although, I am surprised Dave Ramsey doesn’t suggest for humans to do that in order to save a few bucks on food.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How We're Doing

The Thompsons are doing well, thank you. We are experiencing some disenchantment with the world of work, but we think that is mainly because work is stressful for both of us right now. It stinks how much a bad day at work can affect a person. The whole point of the 8-5 is so that you can leave it there. It’s funny, but Monica and I both get paid for listening to people’s problems. The not so funny part is my clients do not usually take out all their frustration on me, but Monica’s clients often do. If my clients attack me, we get to talk about it, but if Monica’s clients attack her, she just has to take it—the customer’s always right, even if he is wrong!

We are kind of bored right now with our lives. Sleep. Work. Eat. Watch TV. Sleep. That is kind of a crappy routine, but at least we’re comfortable and safe. Things should pick up as the summer comes and we have a little more time on our hands. I’m almost finished with school (two classes this summer) and have a summer job in line. So, we will soon have many more possibilities open to us. The question I pose is this: What do you do when your life gets boring? We need some answers. . .

Friday, March 23, 2007

She's Mine

On our way back from Oklahoma on Sunday, we stopped at a McDonald's for dinner. I ran inside to use the restroom while Monica walked Cali around outside. When I got back in the car, Monica told me a guy hit on her while I was in the restroom. Basically, he just said, "Hey,"? in an inquisitive way that men do to check out women are interested (yes, men still think "hollering"? at women works). Monica said, "Hi,"? and just kept walking, although she could tell he was still looking at her and Cali as they walked away.

I get a little frustrated with stuff like this, because I already know my wife is beautiful, and I don't need random guys to remind me. Usually I just let it go, but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I saw this guy and his buddy pulling around us while we sat in the drive-thru and I knew he had to try to check out Monica one last time. So, as soon as he pulled around I simply waved to him . . . and he waved back! It was pretty funny, and I hope he knows he was busted. Yep, I pretty much told him to find some other McDonald's to hit on married women. I'm sure he didn't care, but I did. Maybe someday he’ll develop enough confidence to approach women as people, and not objects!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

We Should Be Ashamed!

Anna Nicole Smith—one name, three words, constantly on the news. More famous in death than in life, we celebrate her contributions to the shameless world of our entertainment industry. We watch the saga of her death, burial, and her media resurrection. We are somehow delighted that such a famous person had such an estranged relationship with her family. We eat up the “who’s the baby’s daddy” world-wide search, acting like paternity tests don't work anymore. How many guys did she sleep with that could hold this claim? Maury does paternity tests revelations regularly on his show, so how hard could it be to do process of elimination.

I don’t understand this fascination with a seemingly immoral person. Maybe it is because she embodied the problems of the sex-focused culture we live in, like Marilyn Monroe, her idol. While good people die that work in the world for positive change, we are focused on a person who was portrayed as a sexual drug-ingesting goddess (sorry to pass judgment). Oh yeah, there is still a war going on! But even more important, Britney Spears is losing control and shaving her head.

By the way, we are still trying to figure out Monroe's death—makes you wonder how long we will have to live with this.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wii Addiction

This weekend we went to Nashville, Tennessee, for a counseling conference. We stayed with our good friends, Justin and Brandy, and let our dogs wrestle all day (they have a 100 lb. Labradoodle, and we have a 70 lb. golden retriever). Justin and Brandy recently acquired a Nintendo Wii, and I fell in love.

I’m not sure I can explain it to you, but this is the future of gaming It was the most fun I’ve ever had on a gaming system. I bowled, boxed, played golf and tennis, and raced trucks. I even created a Mii (a Wii character) that looked so eerily like me that I almost became him. You basically have a sensor remote that you control everything with—you pretty much have to stand up and move around to play.

Now, I have a problem…I want one like you wouldn’t believe The guilt this is producing is ridiculous. They are around $300, which is not bad for a gaming system these days, but when did $300 become “not bad” for anything like this. I can’t get one, but I want it so bad. Perhaps I should adopt a child so I can get one for him or her—this obsession is getting ridiculous. I’m taking it one day at a time. I don’t need one…Monica would leave me…I don’t make any money to buy one…I would have to get a bigger TV if I did buy one…the list goes on. I can live through this addiction, although I wouldn’t be opposed to anybody here in Memphis that would like to get one and let me play!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent—Not the Stuff in Your Pockets

No, we don't go to an Orthodox-type church, and we don't use a lectionary, but Lent is a spiritual celebration that I believe can be useful. Unfortunately, I can't give you book, chapter, verse, neither can I do command, example, necessary inference for Lent or any holy-day. I just see a lot of potential in my life for this time. Monica and I looked up some info about Lent last night and we've decided to do it our own way.

Pop culture Lent consists of not having something you really like for forty days. During these 40 days you praise yourself for this abstinence and tell your friends about it. Especially in the Land of Excess, there are 7,352 things we can give up and it won't really matter. We want to do it different. We want to abstain from some things, but also add some spiritual disciplines to our lives. This is a time to look for God's purpose in Christ's death, and subsequently, a time to look at your purpose as a human in light of this death. Lent is a season of confession and repentance—getting back to God.

Monica is brilliant. She came up with the idea of changing several parts of our lives and working on others. As silly as it may sound, we are both going to read The Purpose Driven Life (some of you might be rolling your eyes right now), study certain scriptures together, and dedicate ourselves to praying together everyday. This is a small step for many, but a huge step for us. We are giving up several things in order to help others (Isaiah 58 is our basis for this) during this time.

Orthodox or not, I think this can be an extremely valuable time for Christians to refocus on our spiritual lives. It is not hard to say, "One day we'll start being more spiritual,"? but it is really hard to decide on that day. This is the day for us!

One of today's readings in the Lectionary is Isaiah 58:1-12. Read it only if you want to be challenged.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Reading Books and Writing Blogs

I just finished two books for my Family Therapy class and I have to write a “process” paper on them. For all of you not in the touchy-feely type majors, a process paper is the equivalent of a book report. You still fluff your way through a process paper, but you fluff based on how you feel this book impacts you or may or may not impact your practice (or should I call it a ministry since I go to a seminary). I actually take these papers seriously because I am still fairly impressionable and naive, and the books I read often mess me up. Especially when you read about certain schools of therapy written by the founders of those therapies, it is hard for me to remain objective—their passion for their theory makes me want to believe it.

Without making this a long blog, which I am against, because people don’t read long blogs (they just say they do), I’ll just say Change by Watzlawick, Weakland, and Fisch and The Tactics of Change by Fisch, Weakland, and Segal through me for a spin. These guys come from early in the Family Therapy Movement (which many probably never knew existed) with some radical ideas. One main idea they have is divorcing their therapy from focusing on why something happens (“tell me about your mother” stuff) and focus on what is happening (what are your attempted solutions that keep failing). They find that more often than not, the problem is maintained by faulty solutions, and finding a new solution outside the usual set of unhelpful solutions is key. For you math or science nerds, their basis for a lot of this is the Theory of Groups and the Theory of Logical Types.

What does this all mean? Not much to anyone but me. Poor Monica has had an earful lately, especially when I start to apply this theory to theology, and even worse, to our marriage. For example, the other day she got mad because I did not answer her, and I told her it was because she wasn’t asking the right question (this is bad application of the theory on several levels). She’s heard enough about paradox, reframing, and mathematical theory to last her a lifetime. And yet, she listens like it matters, and that makes me feel good. In fact, she is so smart, because she uses these new theories against me.

Alas, this is a long blog after all. However, the remedy for a long blog is obscure quotes at the end, which is about the only part I read in long blogs.

“While we pursue the unattainable we make impossible the realizable.”—Robert Ardrey

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes the creative mind to spot wrong questions.”—Antony Jay

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Last night at some point, the tool chest in the back of my truck got jacked, literally! Not jacked as in stolen, but with the use of a jack, it was popped open and the contents were stolen. How do I know it was jacked? They left the jack in the back of my truck...I hope they don't want it back. Now, I have to give them some props for creativity, although, I am sure this is an old trick.

We have a neighborhood watch program and it works like this—every night, somebody comes by and makes sure your car doors are locked, and if they're not, they make sure there is nothing in your car a thief might steal. In fact, about a year ago, I left my doors unlocked, and my car was "checked"? by this neighborhood watch.

All things considered, my truck was parked in the street, which makes it fair game in Memphis, and all they borrowed was the new air tank I got for Christmas from my parents—I'd used it once. I will probably purchase another and not leave it in my tool box. Also, they were not tidy thieves, they threw my ropes out on the street. To quote Mary Kate and Ashley Olson's character on Full House, "How wude."? Well, at least I got a jack out of the deal and the thieves will make about $10. The best thing is it confirms my belief that nice things really mean nothing. So, to my wife's delight I come to this conclusion—we should now spend our money on abstract pleasures, like vacations or marital therapy smile that do not fit into truck toolboxes.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

John Mayer Concert

We had a blast Friday night! John Mayer was playing in the FedEx Forum and we had great seats. We decided in December that this would be our Valentine's present to each other (even though I still have to buy flowers and take Monica out to dinner). This is our second time to see him here, the first being at the Botanical Gardens down the street where he was playing with Herbie Hancock.

What can we say about John? For 2 hours he blew us away with his music. Seeing him live gives you a better appreciation of his mad vocal and guitar skills. He played his classics, like No Such Thing, Georgia, and Your Body is a Wonderland, as well a lot of stuff off his new album, Continuum, including my favorite, Gravity. Monica's favorite was Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, which was the finale.

Nothing really funny happened. We had a mini-fight when Monica decided I needed to get up and get her a beverage, but I eventually did my husbandry duty. We decided that they make the air really dry in arenas so you get thirsty. Anyway, John was incredible and it was an awesome Valentine's Day present.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What Happened to the Old Us?

The other day we received a promotional piece of mail that included a tropical magnet photo frame. I dug out my favorite picture from our honeymoon & stuck it on the fridge. The purpose of this was to help my case with Ben for us to go on a vacation next fall which I’ve been whining about for a few years now. His reaction, however, went something like this, “What happened to us - we were skinny & tan back then?!” I looked at the picture again & realized that we aren’t in quite the shape we used to be & have gotten a little lazy in our old married ways.

Its tough finding things to do as a couple that A) don’t cost money, B) we both enjoy doing & C) require us to get off the couch. What did people do every night before TV & movies??? Ben doesn’t particularly like to play games & we tend to fight a lot when we try doing house projects together. We do like to take our beautiful puppy on walks & we hang out with our other couple friends a lot, so don’t get me wrong - we do have a life. I’m talking about all the nights that we don’t have plans & just want to stay home…hmmm.

College forced us to stay active simply by walking to class & always having something to do or somewhere to be. When you ‘grow up’ somehow most of us get desk jobs where we sit at a computer 40+ hrs. a week forcing you to schedule in time to keep in shape. Between not exercising regularly & fast food being our Plan A for dinner most nights it’s finally catching up to us. I guess my question is…how as a couple do you stay healthy both physically & mentally after you’ve said your I Do’s?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

News Story on Adam

I linked this from a news station in Oklahoma City, and it is a really good piece on Adam. His funeral is probably still going on as I write this. Please say a prayer for his family today if you get a chance.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

More Information Concerning Adam

I had a chance to tell some of Adam’s story in chapel at the Harding Grad School of Religion today. People need to hear about Adam because he is a perfect example of living, sacrificing, and dying for the sake of the Gospel. What faith and courage he had! We can all learn from it.

If you have a chance, please go to Clint Davis’s blog to read some beautiful words about Adam and about Moses, a fellow worker who died in the same wreck as Adam. Moses leaves behind 4 children and a wife, and it is touching to read about him. They called him Moses the Carpenter, and he devoted himself to the work of the Lord. What a great loss for his family and for the mission effort in Uganda.

Also, on Clint’s blog, there are a couple addresses where you can send money to help out with all the emergency expenses resulting from this tragedy. Plane tickets, funeral arrangements, etc. It adds up quick, and if you are in a position to help, please consider these options:

Funds can be sent to:
Rochester Church of Christ
250 W. Avon Road
Rochester Hills, MI 48307
attn: Jinja Emergency Fund

This fund will cover missionaries’ travel expenses back home, those traveling to Uganda and Moses’ burial / funeral expenses in Uganda.

For the Langford family and funeral expenses, donations can be sent to:
East County Church of Christ
24375 SE Stark
Gresham, OR 97030
attn: Langford Family Fund

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Adam Langford, In Memory of an Adventurer for God

There are few people in this world I am truly jealous of and admire beyond words: People who live their lives without getting stuck on the details of the world. People who live as though life is a journey and find great joy in every adventure. I have always been jealous of Adam Langford.

Tuesday afternoon, January 16, 2007, in Uganda, Adam died in an automobile wreck. I had no idea Langford (as I usually refer to him) was even in Uganda, but he was, and he was on a mission team with his brother's family and several other families. It made sense, because sharing God's love came easy for Langford, you just had to be in his presence and you felt it. Langford was a light in the darkness everywhere his adventures took him. I believe at some point in life God sat him down and said, "Adam, all I want is for you to be yourself, and I'll do the rest. People will see my love through you."? Langford took that call seriously and the world changed because of him.

I still do not honestly believe he died yesterday. I don't think I will ever believe it fully. Adam was invincible. I played basketball in his driveway, I watched him do back flips at Spring Sing Practice, I . . . cannot accept the fact that I will never hear his laughter or be uplifted by being around him. No, Langford lives.

I am truly angry at God because I cannot understand his plan. Langford did what we all secretly wish we were doing—serving God with all of our hearts. He embraced his journey with no complaints and he put his entire being into it. I will always be jealous of that, and I believe I should be. Why, God, would you take someone doing your work and suffering for your cause with all his heart? It doesn't make sense. He had thousands upon millions of more lives to touch and make disciples. He had a heart for the physical suffering of those in Uganda, but that was not his main concern. He only wanted to bring hope to a place where there seems to be no hope. What about those people he was supposed to touch? No, it was not time, not by my estimation.

Adam, I can't make any sense of this. Somehow I know you can. You're rejoicing with the saints right now, maybe even playing soccer, but we have to grieve losing you, and it hurts deep inside. May God bless your family and friends because this must be unbearable for them. We all know you are in heaven where your journey has always been leading you, but no one expected it this soon. You give us hope, though, because we'll always see you. We'll see you in our lives and in the lives of your family and friends. We'll see you in the faces and hearts of those in Uganda who you gave your life to. In one of your last reports, you spoke of suffering. You suffered for the Gospel in the most extreme way, you died for something bigger than anything in this world. And I will continue to be jealous of you, because I'll always remember you had it figured out—be yourself, let God use you, and people will see God's love.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

An iPod for Monica

About a month ago Monica attended a Grand Opening for FedEx Labs. Little did everyone in her office know that all who attended this event would be receiving an iPod Nano as a ‘Thank you’ for coming. However, only 5 out of the 9 people in her office that attended received an iPod in the mail (Monica was one of the unfortunate ones that did not).

Everyone kept thinking they would be coming in a different shipment, but alas they never came…until YESTERDAY (can I get some ‘OH HAPPY DAY’?!). With MUCH persuading & bugging the missing iPods finally arrived!! Now Ben doesn’t have to share his anymore & Benica can live in iPod bliss happily ever after!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Happy New Year, 2007!

Happy New Year, everybody! We will call this the year that Ben should finally get a job! Actually, we are excited to see what the year will bring and hope all will go well for you as well.

Yay for 2007!