Blake Thompson daht Net

Like I was saying....

Letter To My 26 Year Old Self

I’ve been meaning to jump back into this blog (remember me saying I was going to be consistent again with this back in October?), but why not jump back in this way? So here goes.

Exactly 12 years ago I wrote a blog post called “Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self.” It was a fun exercise in looking back on life and where I was and where I thought I would (and did) end up.

Dear Blake,

Yo! You’ve been married just over a year now. How crazy is that? Communication is sometimes hard, right? Living together is really cool, but now you’re in each other’s space all the time. Just be sure to talk it out. And even though you think it’s worth arguing about the toilet seat, it really isn’t. Take the time for walks together. Take some trips. They don’t have to be fancy trips, but pour yourself into the quality time together.

Enjoy this coming season of MSU Football. Take Bev to a few games at Scott Field. Y’all don’t have a kid yet, and it becomes more complex to go once that happens. If you have a chance to go out west to a game, take it. Enjoy the trip with your friend. Trust me. Because the next eight years of MSU football will be putrid.

Go for runs. I know Bev got you into running with a few races here and there. But keep it up. It’s good for you. Keeps the heart pumping. Plus it’s a great thing to share with Bev. And one day you can share that time with your future kids as well. Plus it keeps you from having to get bigger pants too. Haha. I know you think you can live on Hamburger Helper, Cap’n Crunch, and cookie dough right now. But you can’t forever. Strengthen that core too. Oh, and remember when you thought over 40 was kinda old? Haha.

Speaking of kids, being a parent is awesome. And challenging. And rewarding. And hard. And a blessing. It’s impossible to effectively explain without being in the middle of it. Just like no one can really describe “being married” till you are. You have to experience it. But pray for your kids now. There will be a few of them. You and Bev will be blessed beyond measure. And yours and Bev’s parents will be great grandparents and love them to pieces.

Start getting up a little earlier. Yeah, I know… those early first five minutes suck. Your bed is comfortable. But you already know that once you’re up and moving it’s enjoyable. Maybe go on a run. Walk Sally around the block. Spend some time praying over your marriage and family and future. Spend some time in Scripture and ask God for His guidance. This will all be time well spent. Oh, and maybe part of the “getting up a little earlier” is also clipping the wings on the old Night Owl some too.

Be intentional with your days. Make a to-do list and make sure to spend some time knocking out those things. I know youth ministry can have a very fluid schedule. But not every day is conversations across a ping pong table. So make sure you’ve gotten things taken care of so you can also be intentional with the hangout times.

You’ve been thinking about it. And soon you and Bev will start taking steps into investing. I know retirement seems a long way off. But be consistent with investing. And when the market makes a big dip don’t freak out. Just be consistent. It will pay off. That online bookstore, Amazon, would probably be a good thing to buy too.

Your head is full of ideas. Some seem kinda silly while you’re confident some of your ideas could really work out. Go for them! Some won’t go as expected, of course. But there will be a day you’ll really wish you’d taken a shot at some of those things. Don’t be afraid of failure. Or better yet, admit your fear but do it anyway. It’ll get easier and easier to go for it the more you do it.

Keep learning. I’ll admit you’ll never have need for algebra again in your life… except for when your kids take algebra and need some homework help. But keep reading and learning. Sure, you enjoy a good Stephen King or Raymond Feist book. But read some nonfiction as well. Learn some web skills. You’ve had fun starting the ONElist for Lake Stephens. But you’ll create a few other things too. There are many things to catch your attention. But don’t just read about them. Do something with what you learn. Build and be creative. Take a few risks. But always stay true to who you are.

Don’t stress too much. There will be a few rough patches coming up in life. But hold your wife tightly and draw strength from each other. Pray for each other. Ask God to give you both patience and grace/mercy. You are good together… but sometimes patience isn’t your first reaction. Learn to trust Him daily even though you want to know what’s going to happen next month or next year. Just keep trusting Him daily.

That’s about it for now….

So… if you were to write a letter to yourself roughly 20 years back… what would you say?

And … we’re back!

Welp, it’s been over six years since there has been a new post here. I’ve kept the ole blog online, but it’s been pretty dormant. I’ve thought a few times about firing something out. I used to be pretty frequent with this thing back in the day, but then it turned into a now and then. And then life got flipped, turned upside down and I’ve not posted in over six years!

I actually started a post earlier today, but it was getting too detailed with the last six years. But I realized I just need to knock the rust off of things at first. So I’ll try to give a very brief overview of where I am in life at the moment, maybe a little glance backward and who knows about the future?

Since I’ve last posted I’ve had four different jobs. Many overlapped, but now I only have one job. I’m a Realtor here in Oxford. Been working in real estate for five years but an actual Realtor for four years.

I enjoy it. It’s great working with people in what is usually one of if not the biggest transaction they’ll ever be a part of. The hours are weird and kind of flexible, but it’s definitely not an eight to five job.

We sold a house, rented a condo, bought a house and renovated it in the last few years. After a time of not knowing if we’d stay in Oxford or leave the area, we bought a home that needed some a lot of TLC and made it into a cozy home. It’s not large, but we love where it is and our neighbors and all.

Addie is now in college. She is a Bulldog down in Starkville, and Ella is a freshman at OHS (yes, our “new” house is in the Oxford School District now). Rowan (6th) and Quinn (3rd or 2nd?) are still homeschooled at this point. The girls went to public school starting in Middle School. Rowan most likely will do the same next year.

At the MSU football game Addie’s freshman year

Working as a Realtor is way different than working at a church. Being 100% commission based can be a little scary. You can have a good month and then you can have a next month of nothing at all. I’ve had combinations of both of those it seems. Like church work, the schedule can be weird and you phone can ring/ding at just about any time. And like church work you get super involved in the lives of the people you’re working with. I intend to talk more about this line of work in future posts.

We have a new dog now. The first Christmas we were in this house we got him for the kids. He’s pretty awesome Here’s a video of it.

Anyhow, I’m going to wrap up this ice breaker of a post. I have a lot more thoughts. I want to talk about different jobs I’ve had. Places we’ve been. Struggles we’ve endured. Projects I have on my mind. Side hustles I want to pursue. But I can’t put that all in one post can I?

So if you have any questions, ask them in the comments below. I’ll get to them. Nothing like the first week of October to start a blogging project right? Who said blogging was dead?

Life Under Renovation

Right now it seems that life is under renovation.

Things are being torn out, removed, repainted, repurposed, and rearranged.

Lots of questions are being asked and some of them are being answered. But some are still dangling there. Unanswered.

Tom Petty said some wise things.

I’ve wondered for the last few months if I should say anything here. And how to even say it. But after lots of thinking, I decided to go for it. Even if I don’t know how to do it. .

But in a nutshell, I’m looking for a job. No longer working at The Orchard here in Oxford. Looking for “new opportunities” out there. It was an interesting parting.

It’s been an interesting few months. I’ve been trying to learn more about myself, about God, and how the two of us can walk in step with each other more and more. What is He wanting me to learn about Him and about myself? What does He want to do with me and my family next? How does He want to use us?

Some days are great. Some days are pretty low.

But I have a confidence in Him that assures me that there is a plan. There is a purpose. And there is something around the corner (or the corner after that one) that is going to make sense of everything. So until I get to that corner and make the turn…I’m still just walking forward and asking Him lots of questions along the way.

But as Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.

Bobby Bones has left Austin for Nashville

Bobby BonesSo Bobby Bones is leaving Austin for Nashville. And that probably means nothing to just about anyone in Mississippi!

Bobby Bones is the host of the Bobby Bones Show, a morning show out of Austin, TX. I came upon him a couple of years ago after looking for something to listen to when Kidd Kraddick was on a summer break. I had remembered Kidd poking fun at Bobby’s show once, and decided to check him out. Been listening ever since (thanks, Kidd Kraddick!)

I usually download the Bobby Bones podcast and listen while driving or exercising or sometimes before sleeping. The appeal of the show is that it really is like a group of friends hanging out on the radio talking about the world, news, and pop culture and making fun of each other. Bobby is the “every-man” who isn’t afraid to talk about personal stuff and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Amy is the most conservative of the crew and obvious about her faith, but easily keeps up with the guys in their banter. LunchBox is the self proclaimed “ladies man” who brags about an active night life that others are usually skeptical of. And Carlos splits time behind the board and on the mic, but is always good for classic one liners.

Bobby Bones Show Crew

Anyhow, they all dropped the bomb on their listeners last week when they, along with their producers Ray and Alana, announced they were moving to Nashville to become “the biggest country radio show in the country”. It was a surprise. But I’ll still try to listen even though I’m not much of a country fan.

I’m curious how the show will change. Because of course it will change some, right?

  • But hopefully we’ll get to hear how they are learning a new city and (to a degree) new culture in Nashville.
  • Will the “Name That Tune” game now be all country songs?
  • LB will have a new city to discover all his favorite night spots.
  • Will Bobby‘s girlfriend end up joining him in Nashville?
  • Will Amy‘s adoption plans take on new light in a new city?
  • Will she finally get to hang out with Taylor Swift?
  • Is Los really staying behind in Austin? Etc, etc.

Bobby Bones HeadshotThe appeal to the Bobby Bones Show was that it has always been so casual. They didn’t TRY to be funny or interesting. They just… are. I still catch Kidd Kraddick’s show occasionally. And I still like it; I do. But like a lot of morning radio shows they sometimes seem a little “forced” or like they’re trying to hard. Does that make sense? I can’t quite put my finger on it.  But the BBS just hung out and talked and made me laugh. And my favorite thing has to be the Name That Tune game (I once saved up a bunch of those on podcast to listen to during a 10k race.) I would so dominate that game!

Anyhow, the crew from The Bobby Bones Show is on a break for a week or two as they move and get situated in Nashville. I’ll be interested to see how their transition goes. And if they can bring along a non-country fan such as myself. But I expect the shift to be smooth.

Have you ever heard The Bobby Bones Show before? What did you think of him leaving for Nashville? Do you think anything will be different?

Eleven Reasons I Hate Winter

Do you hate winter? Maybe “hate” is a strong word. But still, there are days I really hate it.

This past summer it was hot. Really hot. People complained all around the South. But I never did. Yes, I got uncomfortable. Who didn’t? But I knew that come wintertime I’d be longing for the days where my clothes are plastered to me as sweat drips down my back. I’d yearn for sometimes having to take two showers a day.

i hate winter

But these are not those days.

So let me tell you the eleven reasons I hate winter.

  1. Scraping windshields. For some reason my truck will have ice on the windshield most winter mornings. Therefore I have to either grab a cd case and try to chip/scrape the stuff away, or crank the truck ahead of time to run the defrost at full blast. And the windows are always fogged up too.
  2. Static Electricity. I shock everyone and they shock me during winter months. And when I get out of a car I usually shock myself when shutting the door. Sometimes it’s funny. Usually it’s not.
  3. It’s dark all the time. It’s dark at 5pm now and that stinks. I love me some daylight saving time. I’m so glad we gained an extra two months or so of it. But I’d be willing to campaign for it being the US’s full time gig.
  4. It takes forever for my shower water to warm up. Who likes a cold shower?
  5. Getting out of the shower is brutal. And when we’re trying to get our kids to get a quick shower and they will not get out, or once they finally get out they decide they want to huddle there dripping wet holding a towel crying instead of drying off and putting on warm clothes.
  6. Exercising outside in winter is harder. Getting up earlier for a run, or an evening run can be miserable. So much easier to lay in bed or read a book or watch some Netflix. And don’t suggest a treadmill. Those things are miserable too.
  7. All this dry air makes for some miserable dry/itch skin and chapped lips. It probably has to do with the super hot showers I think I need to take too.
  8. Dressing my kids in cold weather is quadruple difficult. In the warm months, I just grab some shorts and a shirt for them. There’s a 80% chance they’ll match. And then a pair of flip-flops  But with winter months I have to have an undershirt, shirt/sweater/sweatshirt, jacket/coat, socks, shoes that need to be tied, and then maybe a hat of some kind. And then fitting this overstuffed kid into a car seat and trying to get the seatbelt adjusted for today’s wardrobe is a hassle. In the summer, I never have to adjust anything. Oh, and by mid-day you may need to redress the kids because they’ve warmed up.
  9. Windchill. In the summer you WANT the wind to blow. You welcome it. In the winter it makes terrible weather even more terrible. And if it’s a damp wind then the discomfort is exponentially worse. Summer breeze makes me feel fine. Winter breeze makes me shiver.
  10. My wife’s hands/feet. Now I like to snuggle, don’t get me wrong. But in the winter my wife’s bare feet literally feel like they have been walking in a winter wonderland for an afternoon. Hands too. And for some reason she thinks I’m the best way for them to warm up.
  11. Kids can’t play outside. Our kids love the outside. But getting dark earlier and being freezing cold means they’re inside continually asking “What can I do? There’s nothing to do!” We try to be creative with games or crafts or stuff like that, but options are fewer in the cold/dark months. My go to answer is usually “PUSHUPS” but they don’t think that’s funny anymore.
There are some things about winter that I like: Christmas music, occasional snow, hot chocolate, snow skiing, and maybe a few others if I think hard enough (bowl games!). But if you gave me the choice between being hot or cold, give me hot every day of the week. 

 What about you? Why do you love or hate winter?

Time for the weekend

Earlier this week my back was killing me. Like to the point I felt like an old man when I tried to get out of bed or out of my truck. Like I’d have to use my hands to swing my legs out of truck and basically “fall” out of the truck instead of stepping out like normal. It got bad enough that I decided to do something I’d only thought about earlier in life. I went to a chiropractor.

The first visit on Wednesday he took a couple of X-rays and hooked me up to a machine that gave me “electrical pulses”. I don’t know if it worked or not, but my back did feel better the next few hours. Maybe it was the electric pulses, maybe it was the ibuprofen. Or the planks I did earlier that day. But my back did feel better. And also yesterday.

Today it was still feeling better, but I could tell it was still a bit stiff. But it wasn’t hurting like it was before. But he showed me my crooked back on the X-rays and my lumbar bones. Then he “adjusted” me. I laid on my side and he shove/twisted me to where sounded like someone was eating peanut brittle. And I’m all good. Or better.

He still told me to hold off on running til our next visit. But I should be back running next week. Which needs to happen fast because I have to get ready for the Double Decker. But I also knew I’d be getting ready for a Men’s Retreat with The Orchard  this weekend. And if I was going to be out in the woods with a bunch of dudes doing whatever dudes do, I didn’t need to be saying, “Yall go ahead. I’m going to hang out here and tend the fire and make sure no one carries these rocking chairs away.”

But I’m really looking forward to the retreat. We’ll have quite a few guys from our church and their friends together for some great hang out time and some great discussions about God’s work in our lives. And it will be a unique setting as there will be no kids or wives around either. We love or wives and kids. But this will be a good night/morning.

Plus, we’re meeting at Camp Lake Stephens which is one of my favorite places on earth. And interesting note is that we’ll have the retreat in the woods. At a camp. By a lake. On FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH. I really think that’s quite awesome as well.

So now I have to go pack and make sure I can find a decent flashlight for the weekend.

Verge Conference: Missional Community Pre-Lab

Verge Conference 2012

Today was the Missional Community Labs here at the Verge Conference. It was from 8:30am – 5:00pm. The day had six different time slots with about five options per time slot. Sometimes it was an easy decision of which to attend, but other times I had to make a tough choice and expect to get an audio download later of a few I missed.

I won’t type out my entire notes from each session but some key points from each.

A – The Future Of The Church: Panel of Mike Stewart (director of the Verge Conference), Jeff Vanderstelt, Hugh Halter, Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Felicity Dale: It was a time for Stew to ask a few questions of the panel and they gave some insight and observations about the church. This was meant to prime the pump for the rest of the day.

  • FD: In the first reformation the Bible was placed in the people’s hands. In the second reformation we’re seeing the church being placed into their hands.
  • JV: We can’t accomplish what God has called us to without the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • NC: Is the Holy Spirit evident in our lives? It’s not the gifts of the Spirit that should be so important, but the fruit. We need the spirit filled life that bears the fruit.
  • AH: What type of church do you hope your children are one day a part of? How are you helping to build that church?
  • HH: The Kingdom will always be good news. Our task is to make it tangible.

Break Out 1 – How Missional Communities Make and Multiply Disciples: Jeff Vanderstelt & Caesar Kalinowski

  • Everything we do is a form of discipleship. Everything we do counts. We’re showing the world what life in submission to Christ looks like.
  • The goal is never discipline, but discipleship. Discipline w/o Christ can lead to self-righteousness.
  • Discipleship happens through Life on Life, Life in Community, and Life on Mission.
  • Those three parallel with knowing, believing, and doing.
  • Most groups seem to focus on knowing but need to work on the being/doing.
  • Life on Life – How is your life being exposed to those in your community? Where is your life visible/vulnerable? Access points into our lives for others to witness.
  • Life in Community – We are in a context of living the life together.
  • Life on Mission – The mission God calls us on will reveal our deep need for God in our lives.

BO 2 – Practical Tools for Moving Small Group sot Missional CommunitiesHugh Halter

  • Hugh basically laid out the differences between traditional small groups and the “next level” that missional communities are taken too. They take more buy in, more time/life investment, and more transparancy. He likened them to be a part of the Navy (anyone can join) to being a Navy Seal (specialized calling).
  • He explained the differences between the “modalic” structure and the “sodalic”.
  • To make the transition he recommends starting a pilot group that you do not go public with. He recommends 10% of congregation to begin to grow MC’s.

BO 3 – Gospel on MissionJonathan Dodson

  • What is the gospel? The good/true story that Jesus has defeated sin/death/evil through his own death/resurrection to make all things new.
  • How do we go on mission w/ the gospel? Know people, love people, speak the gospel.
  • Non Christians know when you see them as a project. They should be objects of love instead of projects of evangelism.
  • Discipleship isn’t inviting people to an event but into your life.

BO 4 – Discipling Children in Gospel CommunitiesJeff Vanderstelt

  • If you can teach something to kids then you can probably teach it to anyone
  • You can’t effectively make disciples w/ Sunday only church. MC’s are the primary vehicle for disciple making.
  • Mom/Dad are primary ministers to kids. And we should equip them.
  • Shift from being a director to an equipper.
  • The family is the greatest influencer of kids’ lives. Or lack there of.
  • Where/how do you want your kids to end up as an adult? Then train for tha tnow. Is ther ean expectation for that’s what htey’ll become? And make sure they have experiential time.
  • All kids go through The Story of God at least once a year.
  • If we don’t take seriously the discipleship of kids, then the parents won’t either.

BO 5 – How To Use The Story Of God in Making Disciples – Ceasar Kalinowski

  • We live in story. We are born aural leaners. Most people are good story tellers.
  • More and more of society is functionally illiterate.
  • Will one more good sermon save our land? No.
  • People engage more and retain more w/ a story narrative.
  • We have to help people find their story in the story of God. What does it mean for them to live w/in God’s story?
  • God is always the hero in Biblical narratives.
  • You can’t teach the NT w/o first knowing the OT.

It was a full day of sessions. But they kept us supplied w/ snacks, water, sweet tea, and lunch. It was a great way to kick off the Verge Conference. And I walked around the city some and enjoy Austin. I hope to get me a UT shirt this week. And maybe a BU shirt as well.

And here is my friend Logan’s take on his first day at Verge Conference.

The Verge Conference: Getting Here

Well we made it to Austin last night for The Verge. Remember when I posted about it a few months ago? Well I won a free ticket!  And now my first day is done. And I don’t know how to effectively get things out of my head in a way that will make perfect sense. I guess I could wait until we’re back and take a day to sit and process it all, or I can do a brain dump and then go back through it later to polish things up. So here are a few observations:

From the 700+ drive here:

  • My sixth month old was a freaking champ during the ride. He didn’t get that upset much.
  • When he did get upset he really let us know.
  • Shreveport, LA is bigger than I remember.
  • Driving across LA and TX into the setting sun is horrible w/o sunglasses.
  • In Texas there are two lane rural roads where the speed limit is 70mph. I shudder to think of people living alongside that road having to pull out of their driveways into 70mph traffic.
  • So that means on some Texas interstates the speed limit is 75mph.
  • I like the Texas custom of people moving over into a wide shoulder so I can pass on the left.
  • After the sun went down and I wasn’t looking into the sun the drive was much more pleasant.
  • Driving through Waco I saw a lot of nice looking buildings next to the interstate. That was Baylor University. Looked nice during the drive by.

My impression of Austin so far:

  • I came to the first two Passion conference in the late 90’s. But I remember nothing of Austin except for going to REI once with some friends.
  • Austin is a big city with lots going on. I don’t know how much of the city I’ll get to see, but I hope to take as much in as possible.
  • More tattoo’s in Austin than in Oxford.
  • Lots of construction going on downtown in Austin.
  • I think I like this place.
  • I’m hoping to see the famous Austin bats. I am close to the bridge.
  • But the free wifi at the hotel isn’t the best.

And the Pre-Conference Labs:

  • I went to the Missional Community pre-lab today at St. Davids.
  • It was informative and the speakers were approachable
  • I’ll give a few bullet points of each breakout in the next post.

Verge Conference 2012

A year or so ago I heard of the Verge conference while perusing twitter. I started paying attention and heard some new things. Things about being “missional” and “missional communities” and some really good speakers. I listened to some of it live stream while I was painting the bonus room.

But this coming February, Verge 2012 is back in Austin and I’m really wanting to go. For the past few months I’ve been chewing on and digesting what it means to live “on mission”. The Verge Network‘s website has been a steady stream of information from some of the top thinkers in this field. You may remember the video from Soma Communities I posted about recently. I’m continually intrigued by this way of life. It seems so fresh, yet is not really anything new.

A couple of months back there was a GCM Conference (The Gospel/Community/Mission Collective) in Huntsville. I was hoping to be a part until a wedding conflicted with the timing. Now I hope to be able to make it to Austin this Spring again. When I read this following description, it makes me wonder what is possible within my own church:

VERGE is a four-day experience for anyone pursuing the mission of God, in community, whatever the context, for the sake of the Gospel – everyday leaders, students, entrepreneurs, artists, urban innovators, business leaders, community development specialists, non-profit leaders, church planters and church leaders.

Verge will resource you to make disciples who make disciples in every sphere and domain of society, advocate for the poor and oppressed, mobilize urban and global mission leaders, and champion movements of gospel-centered missional communities.

I want to be able to know more, to experience more, and to be able to cast the vision of what it means to live on mission in all areas of our lives. I want to see The Orchard be infused with the gospel and the realization that each of us is a missionary, each of us is called to bear witness to greatness of who God is. And I know that I need help in figuring out how to practically lead our current community group ministries into understanding the heart of Missional Communities. I think I get the end goal, but how to get from where we are to where we end up isn’t always that clear.

Here is a short video that fills you in just a little bit more:

Is anyone else going? Has anyone else been before?

Coffee Shop + Laptop + Restroom = ???

Okay, picture this situation. You need to get out of the house/office/dorm room and think it’s a good idea to head to the local coffee shop because you still have some stuff to do. Maybe you’re writing a paper, or Christmas shopping online, or tweaking your fantasy football team, or Facebook stalking, or reading blogs, trying to get to Inbox Zero, or whatever.

But as the minutes pass by and you drink more coffee (or tea or Coke Zero) you start to feel the need to go to the restroom. So then you’re faced with the conundrum: What do you do with your laptop?

Assuming you’re there by yourself, do you

  1. Close it up and carry it in the restroom with you?
  2. Close it, pick up the cord, put it all in the backpack and carry it in the restroom with you?
  3. Do you make eye contact with someone and say, “Would you mind watching my stuff?” all the while hoping they don’t run out with your computer as soon as you lock the restroom door?
  4. Do you just hope that everyone is as nice as you and would never steal a computer in a coffee shop?
I’ve walked in and seen a PC laptop sitting on a table next to an empty coffee cup and thought, “Who would want to steal that anyhow?” [Just kidding!] But there have been times I’ve seen a MacBook Air sitting there and wondered who would just leave that sitting there unattended? But often the shop is crowded, right? So if you pack up your stuff your table will be gone when you get back. So you leave the table covered with your stuff and therefore “saved”, right? But is a crowded shop more or less conducive to such a theft?
So the question to you is “What do you do with your laptop in a crowded place when you need a quick restroom break?
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