My (Ben’s) grandfather, Alfred Marshall Thompson, passed away last Thursday, December 4, after battling complications from old age and pneumonia.
Granddad was a sweet and sensitive man, a man of many good deeds and few words. He was always doing kind things for others and smiled all the time. The weeks I spent with my grandparents when I was younger remain some of the best weeks of my life. I was nobody’s brother or the youngest child, I was the grandson, royalty for the week.
They both loved me in a way I only felt from my grandparents. Grandmom passed away in 2004, and I am glad they will be reunited. I’ll miss Granddad. I saw him two weeks ago and knew it was the last time I would see him alive, and I felt peaceful and sad at the same time. I had a chance to look in his big blue eyes and say goodbye.
The funeral was today, December 8, in Wichita Falls, TX, and it went well. It was a small family service and it was a nice close to a wonderful life. We all shared tears and laughs as we remembered this kind, gentle man who showed us how to care.
This whole blogging thing is helpful to me. Thanks for being my vents around the nation (not sure if I have international readers). I realize I am one of several hundreds of thousands or millions that are or will be laid off before this is all finished. As difficult as it has been, the support we’ve received has been awesome and a blessing to say the least. God is at work in our lives and we hope we can be open and ready for change (and not in the political slogan sense). “Yes, He [God] Can” is the motto we are trying to follow.
This weekend we are meeting with a mission team we have considered joining for the last 3 months or so. For all you changeologists, we are in the contemplation phase of this decision. The team is looking at going to Dublin, Ireland later in mid-2009, and we would follow next year. We’ve been in prayer for a while now about this opportunity and we are looking for our markers to line up, as Curt Sparks would say. Being missionaries is something we’ve both considered at different times, although we rarely talked about it because we didn’t know if the other person was serious. We can’t help but think about all the different things pointing us in this direction. As I wrote somebody the other day, it is a whirlwind right now!
It looks like the man is going to be a little flexible on the time. I strongly expressed my concern to them and think it made some sort of difference. It is amazing what cussing someone out can do (just kidding!). I mean, it is amazing what it can do, but I did not do it. Anyway, it looks like I will have a little more time to transition clients as well as transition myself. Thank you for praying for this to happen.
Our plan is for me to go on unemployment for a few weeks and then we, being Monica, Cali, and I, are going to take a six month road trip around the US and make money through 1. A subscription blog (like $2-$5/month) 2. Photography 3. Finding small jobs while on our travel and 4. Renting out our house while we are gone. We may have to wait until it gets a little warmer because I want to go west first. Some of you may think I’m joking. Trust me, Wally World won’t be closed when we get there.
Not only has my place of employment decided to discontinue the counseling program, they decided to end it on December 31st. I may start 2009 unemployed! If you are praying for this situation, I ask that you pray the administration can see we need more time to end this program. It is extremely unprofessional to end a counseling program this quick and it is potentially harmful to clients. This is also a terrible time to end a program like this (just think of how stressful your holidays are).
I feel like Clark on Christmas Vacation when he gets the jelly-of-the-month club instead of a bonus. Please, no one go Cousin Eddie on my CEO.
Thank you all for your prayers. Today at 4 PM, Sheila and I talk to our CEO to find out if the counseling program will continue where I work. Our jobs are on the line and we are hoping that our organization will give us a chance to continue serving the poor in the Memphis area through counseling. We are giving it our all because we believe so strongly in what we do, and we believe God is using us to impact lives of those in desperate need. We (our counseling program) exists to provide high-quality counseling to those who often get overlooked or receive a lower standard of care. We try to bring light into dark worlds by being with people in their struggles and doing our best to let God shine through us. If given the chance, we truly believe this program can get out of the red and begin to support itself financially.
Pray for us if you get a chance. We’ve got some burdens weighing us down right now and need your prayers. I’d rather not get into specifics openly on a blog at this point. If it is true that you grow through struggles, then I’m pretty sure we’ve got some growth opportunities in front of us. I find it easy to say, “I trust God right now,” but not easy to feel peace in that belief. Having hope and fear at the same time creates a peculiar inner conflict for me. By peculiar I mean unsettling and uncomfortable. Thanks for reading this.
p.s. We are not on the baby train or divorce train right now.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."?
I felt like I was “leaning on Jesus” this morning as we sat in the inspection line at 6:40. I felt pretty good about things until I started the car and all I could see was white clouds coming out of the tailpipe. Finally, it came to my turn and I drove in the garage part of the inspection station, and the clouds ceased. No smoke was coming out and the finally passed inspection! There was great rejoicing in the car, and I now live to drive my truck another year.
I would like to thank Monica for coming with me and bringing good fortune; my mechanic for giving me good advice; K-red for his advice and support; American Muffler on Lamar and Knight Arnold (If it has “American” in the title, it must be good); and Autozone for their help in tracking down a part for me. It’s funny, but this really feels like one of the bigger accomplishments of the year. Graduating and passing my licensure exam are a close second and third.
I feel lighter now. It may in part be to all the exhaust fumes I took in while in the inspection line, but I think it is from not having this car thing hanging over my head. I probably made it a bigger deal than it was, but I do feel better now.
Here’s a quick quote for your day (I will try to track down the source soon, because a co-worker relayed this to me after reading it):
“The definition of anxiety is imagining the future without God in it.”
I am on a quest this month to get my car through inspection. The problem is that my car smokes just a little bit, but they refuse to pass it if there is any smoke. The other problem is that there are only 3 inspection stations for a hundred thousand cars that go through each month. Every year so far, I fail the first time and have to scramble to get it fixed.
So, I failed earlier this month due to smoke. Then, Friday, my car could not exceed 45 mph on the interstate. I now have a new catalytic converter, and also found out my EGR valve was not working. So, I bought the valve and spent Sunday afternoon trying to get the old one off. After succeeding at taking it off, I noticed it was completely clogged and so was the tube coming into it. I decided not to put a $100 part on a bad tube, and I put the old part back on. Monday morning, I called my mechanic and he told me it would be okay to put the new one on, as long as I unclogged everything.
I promised Monica we would get our Halloween pumpkin Monday night, and I told her I could put the car part on in under 30 minutes. She set the kitchen timer and I went to work with my pride on the line. Twenty-five minutes later it was done AND it worked. The timer is still going on when I will actually put all my tools away. All this to say that I am not sure there are many satisfying experiences for me greater than the experience of successfully performing a car repair. I was going to say this is a man thing, but women experience the same thing.
I will tell you one type of repair that is rarely successful or satisfying: spouse repair. I don’t suggest anybody try to “repair” or “fix” a spouse. The real fulfillment for me has come when I made repairs in myself that changed my relationship with Monica—like learning how to like myself better. I sound like a 12-step meeting, I know, but I think that’s why it is important for me to have something I can fix, like a car repair every once in awhile.
Here’s a quick update on us. For Ben, it is work as usual—been at my current job for just over one year as a full-time employee. I’m beginning to do some more speaking on mental health issues, which is nice because I get out of the office. I am hoping to qualify for licensure by January 2010, and once I do that, we will have more options as far as moving goes.
Monica continues to look for a job. She is interested in not settling for a job just so she can work, and is doing a lot of work on finding out what a good job would look like for her. She is up to date on the latest news everyday, and is having lunch with friends when she can. The good thing about her not working is that we have three-day weekends every week and over the holidays we will only have to work around one schedule.
We feel like we are in this weird stage where we could go a lot of directions. We try to stay open to different things that come our way and make the best of being in Memphis. We have many dreams and ideas, and we hope to be ready for whatever comes our way when we finish the Memphis stage of our lives.
Where were you when I stole 15 cents from my dad’s work drawer to buy candy, got caught, and had to pay him back?
Where were you when I got that speeding ticket at 16 and didn’t have much money to pay the ticket and court fees?
Where were you when we decided to buy a dog, had car trouble, and had trouble paying bills? (The credit companies were there for sure!)
Where were you when we wanted to by a 47-inch TV, but could only afford a 42-inch?
Where’s my bailout, rescue, buy in, or whatever you want to call it?
Honestly, I am on the fence about what to think about the “plan” to save our economy, and I wanted to make fun of it (that’s what a past therapist observed I do when I am not sure of something). Someone owes me for my misfortunes and I want some answers, and I’m only asking for $300 billion.
First off, wii got a Wii Fit and wii love it. It does goes against the zero accumulation rule, but wii couldn’t resist! The hope is that wii will have some negative accumulation in other places.
Second off, we received a check for $400 from our travel insurance company because that is what we had to pay out-of-pocket to spend two "extra"? days in Jamaica during Hurricane Gustav. That's pretty good considering we only paid $100 for the insurance in the first place! Below are some pics of recent events…enjoy!
Ella Whaley - congrats Jason & Nicole!
A trip to Nashville to visit our friends Sam & Christel
I am not ready to write much about the loss of Wesley Hunter, my second cousin, who passed away Thursday night. Wesley died after struggling for three years through unimaginable emotional and physical pain following a roadside bomb hitting the jeep he was in during his
Army tour in Iraq in 2005. Click here to be linked to his obituary.
Pray for his family. My heart breaks when I think about what they are dealing with right now. We’ll be attending the funeral tomorrow at 4 PM in West Texas.
That’s right, we started a family tradition of spending our anniversary in Jamaica. Last year we just missed Hurricane Dean, but this year we weren’t so lucky and got to witness Hurricane Gustav firsthand! 70 mph winds, 14 inches of rain and 2 extra days later we made it back to Memphis safe and sound.
Jamaica was amazing - you know same ole’ crystal blue water, white sand beaches, beautiful sunsets. We spent most of our days back and forth between the ocean and reading our first novel together (The Kite Runner - thanks for the recommendation Bailey!).
One of our favorite things we did last year was the Catamaran Cruise which turned out to be a bummer this year…at the beginning of the cruise a couple of dolphins swam right beside our boat. Ben made the comment that seeing dolphins is supposed to be good luck which did not end up being the case. Once we docked at Pirates Cove we were told that we couldn’t cliff jump because the property had been sold to private owners, but we decided to make the best of it and go explore the horseshoe cave. As we returned to the boat we were both attacked by a group of jellyfish. Later on Ben said that his first thought was, “I have to get Monica out of this water no matter how many times I get stung,” and the 9+ stings on his back are proof that he let me go up the ladder first. Side note: he will be receiving “Husband of the Year” award for that heroic act!
All in all it was a wonderful, much-needed vacation and we are still very much in love after 5 years of marriage!
Although I have not received official word, I did not get the job I applied for in Edmond. We’re a little bummed about it and now we are back to the proverbial drawing board. Oh, how we wanted this to work out! This just sets the stage for something better to come along, right? I think it was good for me to look for other jobs and for us to consider moving—it brought up a lot of things for us to discuss.
What are our plans now? We have no idea, and we couldn’t come up with anything last night as we stared at the ceiling. It makes sense to stay here for the next two years to get my license, and it makes sense to move away from a place we do not see ourselves raising a family. We’ll try to keep you updated…
As I sit in a coffee shop on a Wednesday afternoon, I am amazed at what a happening place this is & how many other people around me aren’t at work/school either. I’ve seen everything from old friends reuniting to a nun checking out the classifieds. I overheard a girl complaining about her job & realized that used to be me. From my experience, living life hating your job & having to commute in rush hour traffic on a daily basis is much more stressful than not having a job. However, feeling like you’re constantly in transition & having your spouse support you fully is tough & even earth shattering after awhile.
This is the part in my twentysomething life that I’m supposed to decide whether to focus on my career, travel around the world, have kids…the world is my oyster, right? So why does it seem so difficult not to get caught up in all the “responsibilities” of adulthood - health insurance, 401Ks, upgrading your house/cars/tvs etc? Would I be happier if I were sitting in a coffee shop in Auckland, Dublin or Colorado Springs - maybe? Would my life be complete if Ben & I created a new life & we would be able to experience everything in a whole new light - maybe?
I believe that relationships with people matter - stuff doesn’t. So why do we all go to work everyday to make more money to have more stuff? I know there’s a healthy balance of being responsible & not becoming a workaholic. Ideally, Ben & I would both have part-time jobs to support ourselves, yet also have time to enjoy more of life instead of spending it being at work. Ideally, ideally, we would both have part-time jobs that we loved, were passionate about & could make enough money to travel the world in all our spare time.
Mostly, during the past couple of months people have given me advice like, “just enjoy this time you have off,” which I am happy to say that I am so I hope these thoughts don’t come across as, “whoa is me, my life sucks.” A journey of self-discovery is better than no journey at all & I am happy to have the opportunity.
This week is concert week for the Benicas. Saturday night we went to a Dave Matthews Band concert at Autozone Park in Memphis. At 7PM when Willie Nelson was opening for him, the heat index was 105. By the end of the concert at 11PM, the heat index was down to 100. But isn’t that how you imagine a DMB concert should be? Everyone was sweating bullets and cheering everytime there was a breeze. The concert was awesome and we both fulfilled our dream of going to one of his concerts. When someone like the DMB comes to town, we try to go, because it is rare to have a concert of that magnitude in Memphis.
Tomorrow, we will be in St. Louis for a Tom Petty concert. This will be our third Tom Petty concert together and we are pumped! We’re going with some good friends who love the TP as well. Monica scored us some great seats, and we are ready to hear some awesome music. That will conclude our concert season for the year (one whole week).
We are attending a funeral today for the mother of one of our dear friends. Last year we attended the funeral of another dear friend’s father. Yesterday, I was talking to a friend on the phone and it hit me: When did we get to the point when losing our parents is a real possibility? I know it has always been a possibility, but it seems more real now. I don’t like to think about it, and I’d rather continue with my earlier beliefs that my parents will never die. It should make sense that as we get older, our parents do to, but I forget it sometimes.
I almost feel like I should now go into a discussion about how we should never take our parents for granted, but I don’t feel like going into the guilt part of this. I am mainly thinking about how things are different as we get older. Inevitably, we are all a day closer to our deaths than we were yesterday. In bed last night we were talking about this and how easy it is to forget to live in the present. It seems like we spend most of our time thinking about tomorrow and our plans, and we miss out on the present moments God gives us to live under his care. I realize I said earlier I didn’t want to go into the guilt part, and I think I just did.
Happy Birthday, Baby! For the next four months you are the old one in our house. Cali was the first to wish you happy birthday at 3:36am (I assume that’s why she was barking). I love you and I am glad I get to celebrate with you tonight. You are so wonderful and I am so lucky to be your hubby. I don’t know how you manage to be so awesome, but you are and I try everyday to elevate myself to your level of awesomeness. I hope you have a great birthday and have fun today. I love you!!!!!
Our iBook G4, purchased for me after my undergraduate graduation, has ceased to work in a functional way. Apparently, the logic board is not working right. Funny, I say the same thing about Monica sometimes (haha! I wouldn’t dare). That’s alright, my logic board usually overpowers my feelings board, which has its own problems.
So, we are off to purchase a new MacBook so we can exist again. Life is tough without a laptop, especially when you’re needing to do research for jobs, or waiting to hear back about jobs. We’re managing okay, but there is this constant fear that we’re missing an important email. It is pretty sick, actually!
Good news! I passed the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) National Exam… Basically, it is the big test I have to pass before I can get my license in a year and a half. I guess it is like our board exam. It is nice to have it over and done with because it was hanging over my head for a while.
Now, for the two steps somewhere else. I called the Oklahoma MFT board to see if any of my supervision hours would transfer and they said, “No, you would lose them all. It would be better to finish in TN and then move here.” I am 350 hours into 1000, and have paid about $1500 for supervision so far, so that makes the decision a little tougher. I call this two steps somewhere else (instead of back) because I am not sure where this leaves us. We were thinking strongly about moving back to the Oklahoma area, and this adds a new dimension to the mix. And, there is this little part of me that wonders if maybe God has something else in mind than to move back to SUV-land right now. Last night in bed we were talking about how in five years we’ll probably look back and say, “See, it worked out,” as we drive our twin Mercedes to our 6 bedroom house. Of course, that “fantasy” would mean we are living in my parents house driving my dad’s old Mercedes--let’s hope it doesn’t work out!
I’m tired of being challenged at church. Curt Sparks left several years ago and I was dreading the interim preaching. Turns out, though, that Sycamore View did an incredible job at finding interim preachers who continually fed me. Here’s how it went down: First, Curt announced his departure and delivered an amazing series on the Holy Spirit and following God. Next came John Mark Hicks. His honesty and his introduction to Christianity as a human transforming endeavor leveled me week to week. Then, Jim Woodruff hits the scene with his openness and sincerity, showing us the power of the Gospels. Honestly, his preaching for me had little to do with what he said, and more to do with the honesty with which he faces life. Finally, we found a new preacher, Josh Ross, and he’s continuing with passion to show me what it really means to call Christ my savior.
It’s funny, I shy away from much spiritual talk on the blog. There exist several reasons for this, and I will let you in on the most difficult one: I am scared to death of Christianity. To truly follow the words of the Bible takes me so far from what I really want to do. It was nice when sacrifice meant not going to a soccer game on Sunday morning. Now, it means loving people I don’t want to love, sharing things I don’t want to share, making decisions I don’t want to make, giving up control over things I don’t want to give up contol over. Is it really worth it? I stay awake thinking about that question. Please don’t see this as a call to try to answer that question for me, because you can’t. I feel good that I am at the point that I can have that question, instead of worrying about whether I am giving enough money, and whether to base that on net or gross (answers are no and probably gross, anyway). There have got to be less demanding religions out there!
I had a friend text me the other day asking me how life was on the other side to which I responded “wonderful”! I am in week 3 since I decided to quit my job & I wish I could say that I had figured out the perfect career, but alas life has a way of distracting me & for some reason fortune cookies aren’t that specific. Ben & I spent week 1 being counselors at my dad’s camp session in Missouri so that week didn’t really count. The first part of week 2 was spent recovering from camp, unpacking & getting our house ready for company because Ben’s friend Patrick came from OK to spend a week with us over the 4th.
Our little family is at a crossroads right now in our lives. We are on the verge of becoming “The American Dream” with 2.5 kids & a white picket fence. We know that the decisions we make now will affect the rest of our lives - where to live, what jobs we have, what house to buy, etc. Part of us wants to keep our adventurous spirit & move halfway around the world to New Zealand or to Colorado & another part of us wants to be even closer to family so that our kids will grow up really knowing their grandparents, aunts & uncles.
There are couples that allow their kids to become the center of their world & squeeze out anything they were interested in as a couple or as individuals, which we do not want. However, we wouldn’t be cruel enough not to create the beautiful children that our genes will no doubt create (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen Ben’s baby pictures). The problem is that there’s never a good time to have kids so you just have to squeeze them in sometime eventually.
All of this said, we are VERY blessed & we have wonderful lives & a lot of people that care about us in this world. We will continue to pray about all of these things & as Curt Sparks once said, “look for the markers to line up.”
This morning I had to get up before Monica to go to work, while she slept and relaxed. This is the first time in 4 years that I will have to get up and go to work before Monica on a regular basis. I have to be the one to deal with the alarm clock each and every morning. I think this is supposed to make me feel like more of the provider or something.
If you’re not up to date, Monica’s last day of work was June 20th. Last week we were at camp, so this morning was the first real day of her unemployment. She gets two months to figure out what she really wants to do as well as enjoy life outside of corporate America. I’m really excited for her! This girl is on a mission to find a job she doesn’t have to settle for just because we need money. She’s good at any job she does and usually excels at it, but this time she wants to be doing something she loves and is good at--quite a revolutionary idea!
All you cheapskates and penny pinchers will appreciate this: Since Monica decided to take this leave of absence from the world of work, I decided to enforce the “no accumulation” law. Basically, this law states that while we are only on one income, we are not allowed to accumulate anything—no furniture, no clothes, no decorative items, and no Wii Fit (that one hurts, I may need to rethink this). Yep, we are strictly purchasing perishables only. All violators of this law will be punishable by lectures.
I was reading the great blog of James Wood and checked out a website he recommended. I now own the Brain Rules book by John Medina and have a great quote for the day: “Physical activity is cognitive candy.”
I don’t know how much you follow brain research, but I an beginning to more and more. As a counselor I am basically just trying to help people rewire their brains. Back to the quote, there is overwhelming evidence that exercise improves brain functioning. In fact, you don’t even have to do a whole lot of exercise. A 20-minute walk a day can make a big difference. Exercise also appears to help alleviate depression (of course, who wants to exercise when they are depressed). So exercise can help you function better cognitively and tighten your rear. Did you ever wonder why runners, apart from the crazy idea to wear the shortest shorts in cold weather, seem to be more on their game?
I highly recommend this book. If talk of evolution offends you and keeps you from seeing the bigger picture, I would encourage you to not read this. It is an easy read and practical. It is not overly-scientific and he is able to relate, regardless of the fact that he is an engineer.
Monica loves church camp. She went to at least three weeks of church camp every summer growing up. She had many camp boyfriends through the years (I lose count at 10). She has a certain peace about her that only shows up at camp, and I love seeing it. It’s like she’s exactly where she needs to be. Besides that, she now brings her camp boyfriend with her.
Camp is another Incredible Hulk moment for me. I hated church camp growing up. I went 4 times total in my life. One with a friend when I was about 8 or 9. The other three times were with my youth group, and I mainly went on those to please my mom. I was one of those righteous kids who hated church camp because it seemed to be more about hookin’ up than focusing on God. That’s really a lie . . . my real issue was that I wanted to be one of the sought after alpha males, and I couldn’t because my insecurity was out of control. Camp was tough for me.
Church camp is next week! For the first time, I can say that I am really excited about it. I will be a counselor in the oldest boys’ cabin, which means I pretty much get to hang out all week and play cards. Plus, I need a good week off of work because I’m starting to feel the burn-out. This year I have no graduate classes the week right before or after camp, which makes a huge difference. Also, I get paid for being there because I am using vacation time.
This Friday also marks Monica’s last day at work. I wasn’t supposed to blog about it yet, so I won’t say much more (although most people won’t read down this far). What I will say is please don’t ask if she is doing this so she can have a baby, although that seems to be her only culturally acceptable option in life as a woman besides work. Now, if you know of a job that Monica would be great at you can let her know. Here ye this, we are in no way bound to staying in Memphis, or even Tennessee. More on this later when we feel more free to talk about it.
Well, I’ve had my diploma since December, and being at a small theological seminary means one graduation per year. Really, though, I had an extra $150 and thought I’d love to use it towards graduation expenses. I had the privilege of being in the 50th graduating class at Harding Grad School. The ceremony was ceremonious and Monica, my parents, Monica’s parents, and my sister and brother-in-law were all present. I now have a baby blue tassel. I thought it should be pink since the degree was in counseling, but baby blue will do.
I was not too excited about graduation, and I have always seen graduation as boring and unnecessary. Graduations for me were more for the family than for me. I decided I would try to make this one different. I used this as a big transition marker for me. A master’s degree is a big deal! It marks a big milestone academically, professionally, and personally. As I tell Monica, I now have a license to be her master, as if the Bible didn’t already give me that right! Oh, my religious fundamentalism is just out of control today. In all seriousness, it has been easier to look forward to after looking at graduation as a transition point. Now, some people ask me when I am planning on going to get my Ph. D. My answer is, “It’s going to be awhile, and maybe never.” I am actually pursuing an honorary doctorate. OC gave out two this year--would it hurt to give a third? I wonder if I could find some obscure school on the internet and get one for a small donation.
Last night Monica and I tag-teamed the yard. She is an incredible lawn cutter and enjoys mowing, which makes me one of the luckiest men alive. I, however, had the task of starting the weedeater for the first time this year. Now imagine this: Monica peacefully mowing in the backyard whistling with the birds, and behind her the Incredible Hulk in a war with lawn equipment. I could not get this thing started for the life of me, so, as a show of my dominion over the weedeater, I hurled it across the yard. Monica just kept mowing and didn’t see it, nor did she see me repeat this epic battle four more times. I could just imagine one of our neighbors watching us and seeing this angelic wife mowing in peace, while her monster husband hurls lawn equipment across the yard. I finally won the war and ate weeds and edged the driveway, and we all lived happily ever after. . .
Oh, and one more thing. I am declaring my independence from making Monica any more lunches for work, because without fail, she somehow accidentally forgets about it and goes out to eat every time. I spent two whole minutes this morning making a sandwich for her that remains uneaten—how much more does she expect me to do, huh? On our 450 miles of discussion home the other day, she asked me if I remembered her making lunches for me when I worked at ISIS in OKC, and I didn’t remember it, so I guess we’re even.
Last Wednesday after work we made the 500 mile trek to Edmond to visit Ben's mom after her kidney transplant surgery. We stayed through Sunday and came back home last night. Mom is doing great and is back at home now. She is in pain from the surgery and the anti-rejection meds, as her body is trying to adjust to having a new kidney in it. Please continue to pray that she will heal and the kidney will not be rejected by the body. Mike Fowler, a family friend, donated the kidney—we are so thankful for his willingness to go through this for my mom!
Out of the 500 miles we drove back, we probably talked for 450 of them. Monica was sleeping for the other 50 of them. Car trips can be a dangerous thing in a marriage because you can't get away from the other person without jumping out of a speeding vehicle. We had a good car trip due to a new method we use with each other to relieve tension. Here's how it works: Someone perceives the other one doing or saying something that puts him/her in defense/rejection mode. The other person, tongue-in-cheek, says, "It's not about x, I am rejecting you as a person."? For example, Monica orders a drink with her meal as we're on the road, and she maybe drinks ¼ of it (we call this a kitty sip). I'm frustrated because we just paid $2 for sugar death water and she didn't even drink it. So I sarcastically say something like, "I'm so glad you got that drink, I guess our kids are looking at community college now,"? and she gets quiet and a little defensive and we get in a little struggle. I then say, "I'm not frustrated you got the drink, I am rejecting you!"? We have a little laugh at this absurdity and move on with our lives.
I am not suggesting anyone do this! We do this because we sometimes have a tendency to feel rejected by the other and go into "angry bunny"? mode, even though there was no good reason to feel rejected in the first place. Well, the reason is based on past experiences and the way they've been ingrained in the brain, which causes certain neurons to fire and blah, blah, blah . . . If we are on the way to eat and Monica changes her mind after I've selected the restaurant and I retreat like an angry caveman, a saying like this will bring me back to reality--she just wants to eat somewhere else, it has nothing to do with me! It took us a few years to get to this point.
Okay, it's been a month since this blog and still no new blogs. I'm beginning to feel like I'm looking at a photo at a funeral. Blow this picture up, slap an ornate gold frame around it, put it on a stand, throw some flowers around it, and listen to the speaker say, "Ben and Monica were outgoing and happy people who were never too busy to share their adventures with their avid blog readers. They will be missed, but let us find solace in their memories."? Add some quiet sobbing and plenty of sniffles for ambience and we've got ourselves a blog funeral.
Posted by Levi Felton on 05/27 at 10:30 AM
Funny you write that--you are very perceptive. We are in the process of ending this blog because of our busyness. We are planning a big funeral for it soon because, let’s face it, “Blog is Dead.” When something starts feeling like a chore or a job, it loses some of its importance. More than likely we will end the blog this August after our fifth wedding anniversary with a picture of us in a Jamaican sunset. We are still happy and outgoing, and have fallen prey to a busy DINK (dual income no kids) life. We are in the process of finding a way to print the entire blog in color so we don’t lose some wonderful memories. It has been a good run, and I am even a little choked up as I write this. Life after this summer will all be summed up in a one-page Christmas letter. Perhaps this will spur me on to put up a few more good entries for all you loyalists.
We recently went to Abbey’s (Ben’s cousin) wedding in Austin, TX. While we didn’t take many pictures of the wedding, we did manage to take pictures of us (big surprise, huh?). Every wedding we go to we take a picture like this. I just don’t understand why weddings are always about the bride and groom. There’s a healthy level of narcissism, right? Maybe we’ll find it someday when we’re less awesome.
My last entry was a bomb! I thought it was clever, but it may just be more evidence that I have weird thoughts. Actually, the truth of the matter is that I would not want to go to a blog that has no new pictures. We are planning to put some pictures up for you as soon as possible. We have pictures you need to see! If we exploit ourselves, people will come.
I've run across the slogan, "Freedom isn't free,"? several times lately, and I think I get the idea. America exists because of the sacrifice of so many before me, and because of taxes I give Uncle Sam to protect me. I have a friend with whom I joke about how Democrats see things and how Republicans see things. I do this with sweeping generalities and stereotypes of both parties. So, I thought I would offer another installment using this slogan.
For Republicans: Freedom isn't free...unless you can afford it.
For Democrats: Freedom isn't free...so the more it costs, the more valuable it must be.
Voting Democrat is actually voting for less change--get it! Monica calls that a Grandpa joke.
The simplest explanation of Christian counseling is the first line of Ann’s response. If I added that with Jason’s, I would say Christian counseling is counsel given from a Christian paradigm that seeks to connect one with God’s healing power. So, I just tell people to pray more and go to church more! (I am kidding). If I did that, I would violate the principle that God uses people and relationships to help people heal from their wounds.
Soapbox time: If, as Christians, we listened to each other more, I believe I would see less Christians in my office. I listen to people who are not listened to anywhere else, even, and sometimes especially, church. I am still working on listening without going into “solution mode.” I call listening getting out of the way of God. People already have enough people telling them what to do, and if that worked for them, they wouldn’t be in my office.
Churches are full of people with solutions, but the listener is a rare breed. I think there are more answers than questions out there. I believe the body of Christ would grow exponentially if we were known as the ones with ears rather than mouths. As a consequence, I would be out of a job!
This question was posed to me by a co-worker. Actually, the question was, “What is the difference between Christian counseling and secular counseling?” (If you chose the standard Bible class answer which is “Jesus,” then you would be right).
So, what do you think, blog readers? What do you think of when you hear the term “Christian counseling?” I don’t want to taint your answers, so I will respond to this question after several responses.
Shopping is a hit or miss thing for us, and usually it is a miss. So, when we have a good shopping trip, we feel really good about ourselves. Yesterday, Monica had the afternoon off and we went to see the movie 21. After the movie we went to Wolfchase to get me some glasses from Lenscrafters. We got there at 4:30 and it turns out I needed a new prescription, so I saw one of their eye docs. After I ordered my glasses and sunglasses, we had to kill 1 1/2 hours until they were ready. That was when we started our suicide mission to find a dress for Monica to wear to two weddings this spring.
Fortunately, we were looking for a chocolate brown dress. I think most people know that if you can know the color of the dress, you can scan through racks pretty quickly, and it can save days of dress-looking time. We pride ourselves in being quick scanners at stores. After trying several stores in the mall, Monica said the dreaded phrase, “It looks like we’ll have to go to a department store.” Fear entered my heart, but I had to be strong for her, and we went to Macy’s. This is the amazing part--we were there less than 20 minutes and walked out with the perfect dress! We gave each other several high fives and then proceeded to go to Brookstone to sit in massage chairs and lie on their Tempur-Pedic mattresses. After picking up my glasses, we left the mall at 8, without fighting. Three and a half hours of shopping and we were still friends!
We are officially going back to the land down under Cuba. We are going over our 5th year anniversary, just like we went over our 4th last year. As far as traditions go, we think this to be a good one. This is not a Babymoon either, so don’t start thinking in that direction. Once we have a child, we’ll have to start going to Beaches, but it is pretty much right next to Couples on the same stretch of white sand.
On another note, does anybody feel let down by John Mayer’s new song “Say what you need to say”? He sings the line “Say what you need to say” like 42 times or more. I thought that sort of repetition was saved for Christian music! Speaking of Christian music, Dave Matthews is coming to Memphis August 2nd and we’re going to try to go. We usually get passed up by the good ones in Memphis, so this will be a big treat.
Say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say…
As I sat in the McDonald’s drive-thru waiting for my 2 cheeseburgers and a parfait, I looked forward and saw a small child peeking over the back seat in the car in front of me. He had this real inquisitive look that only a child could give, and then he preceded to give me the bird. It was perfectly formed—knuckles tight and middle finger extended as far as possible with noticeable muscle strain! Not exactly a “Precious Moments” figurine experience! Here I am minding my own business and a five-year-old is insulting me. I ended up just sitting there, understanding that there is no way this kid understands completely what he is doing, hence his huge grin. I avoided making any negative response and refused to reward his behavior, but I found myself overcome with sadness. His parents were sitting in the front seat and didn’t see any of this, and I had the thought of getting out of my car and telling them what he was doing, but I decided this wasn’t a good idea because I had no idea how his parents might respond.
This was just one of those times to sit and be sad. He had no idea what he was doing and besides my hair being a little messy, this couldn’t have been about me. A good Christian might pray for the boy right then and there, but I have not achieved this level of sainthood. Out of all of this came the thought and question: what is a proper response to a situation like this—the proverbial 5-year-old flipper offer? And a companion question: What will I do when I catch my 5-year-old flipping someone off? (I plan on these things happening).
No, I’m not talking about a dinky little semi-pro roller hockey team, Memphis tornadoes refers to actual tornadoes. One touched down at a mall 10 miles away from our house, but we just got a lot of wind and rain.
Here is what I think is funny: Memphis city schools let out at 12:30 in the afternoon because of the possibility of severe weather. They weren’t even predicting the storm to come through until after school was out. It didn’t even start raining until 4pm. This is way different than what would happen in Edmond, OK public schools. I had to remind myself, though, that Memphis has a more litigious culture, especially when it has to do with schools and liability, and also, a high number of kids are in after school programs until 5 so their parents can work—and things were pretty crazy at 5. So, it makes more sense to me now, but is so different from where I grew up.
Tonight might be the most important night ever for the show LOST. All this unnecessary anticpation due to the writer’s strike has kept us on our toes. We watched the last two episodes of last season on ABC last night. They had a pop-up video type thing going on at the bottom of the screen that was helpful for getting back into the story line. We have waited so long for this show, and tonight our waiting will be over.
Why is this the most important night ever for the show? First of all, we’ll know if the fan-base has hung around after all this time. I’ve talked to a few friends who loved the show, but do not plan to get back into it. Second, we’ll find out if they can live up to their cliffhanger ending last season and continue with the momentum. Third, we’ll see if a show that doesn’t revolve around power-women (i.e. Desperate Housewives, Lipstick Jungle, Cashmere Mafia, Big Shots—haha) can still survive on TV. Fourth, they’ll find out if showing the premier trailor 50 times a day works.
If you are teetering on the edge of getting back into it or not getting back into it, you should get back into it. We need you to watch so the show will go on. We have purely selfish motives here.
In other news, Tom Petty is playing at the Super Bowl and is also going back on tour. We will see Tom and the band in August in St. Louis.
Our one year streak of missing Wednesday night church ended last week when we attended a class that presents Gray Chapman’s latest video series, “A Growing Marriage.” Somebody once said to do at least one marriage enrichment type activity a year where you go to a class or a weekend or Marriage Mentoring: Twelve Conversations. We think it a good idea--good enough to end our rebellion against Wednesday night church. However, LOST, when it comes back on, will make it hard to go (especially after the incredible finale last season), but perhaps we can withstand the urge to stay home and give el diablo a foothold on our hearts.
As goofy as marriage videos usually are, this one is quite bearable. Gary Chapman is engaging and honest about marriage. He’s not preaching at you to have a perfect marriage, he just wants you to pursue the possibility of things being better. Anyway, we are excited to do this series and hopefully grow our marriage. Even though a child would probably make our marriage better, we are willing to try a video series! (Please read that in the context of sarcasm.) By the way, there is plenty of room in the class for more couples!
Our’s does! Our neighbors told us last night that two separate times Cali ate an entire thing (about the size of a coke can) of fish flakes when they weren’t home. Their dog helped, of course, but Cali was the instigator. The second one wasn’t even opened yet, and they did not figure Cali would do it again. Somehow she got the flakes off the top of the aquarium and indulged herself. It is just hard for me to imagine dogs eating fish flakes.
Yeah, we go to our jobs as professionals and punch the time clock, but our real ambitions lie in going pro in Wii Sports. Last night Monica went pro in tennis and I went pro in bowling. Monica is now a pro in tennis and bowling, and so am I. Now, we have bowling balls with stars on them! It just feels good to give yourself to something larger than yourself. All the other Miis look up to us and want to have pro status like us. It can get to you if you’re not careful.
However, this is no reason to relax . . . You can lose your pro status if you don’t play up to your pro standard. You basically lose pro points if you do not bowl over a 180 or so. This is some serious pressure. In tennis you don’t get pro points for winning, you have to stomp the other team into the ground. It takes some real guts to go pro, but we’re up for it.
It’s amazing, this Wii thing (wink). We used to come home, order out, eat, watch TV, and go to bed. Now, we come home, eat, play Wii together, watch TV, and go to bed. I thought Memphis would have clean air before we played video games together. Not that it is saving our marriage or anything, but it does get us to interact more than just passing the salt across the coffee table. It forms a lovely triangle. We just tell Cali it’s too cold to walk (she can get jealous).
Today, I was reminded of a story I have heard, but am not sure the original source. If you know, let me know. The story goes like this:
A woman (could have just as easily been a man) searching for life's answers and wisdom traveled across the world to study under a certain wise man. When she arrived, the wise man told the woman to start reading day and night so she could have all the knowledge and wisdom of the ages. Every morning she would get up before dawn and read until after dark. On the first day, the wise man came in with a cane and asked her if she had all the knowledge and wisdom of the world. She said, "No, not yet,"? and then he gave her a hard hit on her head with the cane. This same thing went on for day after day, week after week, month after month. One day after 3 months of this, the woman decided she was tired of getting whacked on the head, so when the wise man asked her the same question, she gave the same answer. When he raised his cane to hit her, she grabbed his arm and looked him straight in the eye and said, "Stop it!"? He lowered the cane, looked at her, and said, "Your training is complete, you can leave now."? "Wait!"? she exclaimed, "I don't have all the knowledge and wisdom of the ages, I'm not finished."? He looked at her and said, "Oh, but you are! You were able to recognize something was hurting you, and you stopped it. That is all the wisdom you need."?
What a crock! No application whatsoever . . . sorry to waste your time.
>don’t let this happen to you. i know a person who knows this person’s brother. very important!!!!!!!
>>We made it another year! I feel like I should make some kind of list.
>>Top 10 Reasons I will not read my whole Bible in 2008:
>10. It’s too long and I don’t want to
> 9. The what to read what day list intimidates me
> 8. I’m already 2 days behind—I’ll never catch up now
> 7. It seems like something an old person would do, no offense old people
> 6. I’m not sure what to do with the Old Testament (help me Pemberton)
> 5. I may read something that will convict me to change the way I live
> 4. I always feel like there is something more I am not getting or open to getting
> 3. I am waiting for an LST team from a different country to use the Bible to teach me their language
> 2. LOST is kind of like the Bible . . . that has to count for something
> 1. There’s a good chance I will be struck by lightning after writing this bloggggggggggggggggg
>>Blog readers: Ben was struck by lightning as he finished typing this blog. Word on the d-vine is that he shall not enter the gates of heaven until 4 people reading this blog start reading their entire Bible and forward this blog entry to 4 other people, and so on. When 1 million people finish reading their Bibles this year, the gates will be open for Ben. This is very important: read your Bible or Ben goes to Hades. Also, kittens and puppies will all die until you read your Bible. Worst of all, they’ll continue to take the 10 Commandments out of courthouses unless you do this—they already got prayer out of schools. And, who knows who will be elected as our next president if you don’t do this.
Ben and Monica are superheroes living in Memphis. They have the most adorable puppy on earth and live in a house with a red door. Together they are unstoppable, and apart they are still pretty awesome.