Blake Thompson daht Net

Like I was saying....

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Christmas 2010

This was probably one of the most relaxing Christmases I’ve had in the past few years. In times past it seemed like there were more things to get done than time to fit it all in. But this year we kept on the move some, but then had some time to sit back and just enjoy the days as well.

Friday we went to Amory to spend the day at my mom’s. We exchanged gifts with her, hung out for a while, and then went to my grandmother’s house to eat supper with all the uncles/aunts/cousins and then open a few presents there. It’s always a lively bunch. And a crazy bunch.

We left late that night, found a gas station still open after 10pm on Christmas Eve, and drove home. The kids went right to bed and Bev and I got everything set up for the next morning by the tree. The kids were not expecting Santa Clause to come. They’ve never been big Santa kids, but they still look forward to Christmas morning to get presents.

The next morning I woke up at 7:55 a.m. On Christmas morning. And I woke up on my own. No kids waking me up. I was amazed. They were all still asleep! But with in three minutes Addie comes running in telling me it’d snowed! And indeed it had. Supposedly the first snow in Oxford on Christmas day since 1913. Oh, and my mother in law hadn’t showed up yet! Now, I don’t mind her coming over on Christmas…quite the contrary. But last year she called a six-something in the morning asking if we were awake yet. I said, “nope”. I thought she was about to leave Tupelo to head our direction. Turns out she was about to turn into our neighborhood!

Anyhow, she came over for a late breakfast and stayed til early afternoon. Then my dad and step-mom came by later that day too. So the day was filled with more family and a few more presents and lots of candy being eaten. The kids had a blast, and we only had about two real times where they were about to fight over toys! It seems that six year old girls and two year old boys can be quite opinionated and possessive at times.

I know in times past I’ve bemoaned that Christmas time doesn’t seem like the same feeling I used to have. But maybe I’ve gotten past that. Or maybe I’ve gotten more involved with my kids at Christmas instead of the “cultural” feeling of Christmas. Or maybe I’ve realized ….I don’t know. Maybe it’s that it is what you make it, and now that I’m a big boy it’s up to me to put more effort into it. And I still don’t want to let myself or our kids fall into an idea of Christmas being about gifts and decorations and candy/food and everything.

I don’t think we do, necessarily. And you can ask our kids what Christmas is about and they’ll tell you straight up. Rowan even went around singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jesus for a few days. But when I look back over the last week and month, I realize that we, as a family, didn’t spend enough time discussing, praying about, and looking towards Christmas and the coming of the Christ Child.

Next year, that will change.

Two of my favorite memories from Christmas: one was when the kids ran from their room to see their gifts out by the tree (we left most unwrapped (we’re strange like that )) they were really excited. But as they sat side by side infront of their gifts, Addie, our oldest, kept talking to her brother and sister about all the cool things they got. She was so excited for them. It was awesome. Then she moved on to take a closer look at her gifts as well. But seeing her excitement and encouragement for her sister and brother was heart warming.

And another was how I punked my mother in law on Christmas morning. I’ll post about it next!

I’ll be home for the holidays

Well, not really sure. But there’s a good chance.

Turns out Addie has strep throat. Sunday afternoon she was acting really tired and said her head hurt. Yesterday it turned into a headache and sore throat. And fever. But just a little. It never hit triple digits.

But this morning she woke up still feeling bad. Head still hurt and throat sore. So I took her temp and it was 101.6. Nothing to be alarmed about, but with how she felt yesterday too we decided to take her to the pediatrician. And it’s strep.

She had a choice of taking medicine for a few days and it feeling better in a couple of days. Or taking this big, thick shot and being better tomorrow. Surprisingly she chose the shot.

So depending on how she feels in the next few days, we may be sticking around Oxford for Thanksgiving.

Timberlake – Fallon – and History of Rap

I saw this from a friend last night on twitter. I figured I’d give it a look. Jimmy Fallon sometimes seems a little forced in his comedy, but I usually end up liking the guy when I watch him. But it seems that almost anything that Justin Timberlake does these days is gold (but I’m not sure anything beats his “Bring it on down to Omeletville” skit on SNL .

But JT was on Fallon’s show and they presented a little history of rap. Enjoy:

Did you recognize each of the songs? Seems it would have been pretty cool to have been in the audience for this show, huh?

When it rains…

Thursday night I noticed the air conditioning making a funny noise. When it was running it sounded like a tick! or a ping! sound. I know those aren’t quite the same. But it was a metal on metal sounds. And throughout the night into the morning it got a little faster. One of those, “Hmm, I wonder what that is?” sounds. Plus it created a rumble too. All out of the ordinary.

The next morning we turned the air up and all was silent. But as it would turn on/off in the day I noticed the sound changed to more of a metal on metal, sheering sound. Like “I could start shrieking any minute” sound. A “but I still like to rumble a lot too!” sound. As it got worse/louder I decided to call an AC guy. It was Friday afternoon and he had three more stops to make. So he told me what to look for. So I’m in my 140 degree attic taking off panels and reaching around in blower wheels and motors and stuff. I’m afraid I’m about to lose a few fingers or my hand now and then. But after repeated calls and “what is a squirrel trap? where is the ‘set pin’? Are you sure you can’t come look” questions I decided to wait it out. I mean, it was loud. But it was cooling things off.

But it got louder and louder. So I called another AC guy. He came (it was now after 5pm. So “weekend rates apply”) and quickly surmised that my blower motor was shot. Wouldn’t last the weekend. But wouldn’t hurt to run it til it died. But I left it off thinking I’d save a few bucks to try and buy this blower motor that I’m sure is expensive.

It’s been a warm weekend too. But not unbearable inside. We’ve not run the AC at all since Friday afternoon even in 95 degree weather. But it’s actually cool at night. I did try to turn it on a few minutes ago just to see. But when I flipped the switch  it sounded like I’d released a few Transformers into my attic and they were about to bust through the ceiling. As cool as that might sound, I turned it off.

Oh, and guess what? Yesterday my wife’s van decided to quit working. She was in town. And we were going to meet her. But when we came back, I had to drive her van home. It had gone dead on her, but never did for me. But the “O/D Off” light was blinking. And every time the transmission shifted it felt like a Transformer was kicking the front of the van. But I made it home.

After looking around Google a bit I determined it was either a busted transmission or a solenoid something or other. Probably anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a four digit number I don’t want to consider right now. But it still ran, right? So I was going to drive it to church this morning. But I only got about 30 yards out of my subdivision before it went dead. And then… it. would. not. crank!

Finally it did. And I thought I was going to have to leave it on the side of the street. Ella was with me and kept asking a dozen questions a minute: “Dad, why are you hollering at the car?” It took me about 10 minutes to get my van back home (about a half mile?) and got a ride to church. But tomorrow I get to find a way for the van to make it to a shop. But a auto mechanic or a transmission shop? Who knows?

The joys of house/car ownership!

I’m in love with Club Level Seats (video)

So I went to the Mississippi State football game two nights ago. I had some expectations about the game. They were not realized. We only lost by three. Compared to last year’s game that is a huge improvement. But I left really unsatisfied and disappointed in the game. We’re obviously not as good as some thought. And Memphis might just be that bad. But Auburn isn’t all world either.

MSU has some improving to do. And I still am confident they can. But I’m still saying I’m really happy with a 6-6 season. We HAVE to steal a game from either LSU or Georgia in these next two. We’ll see.

But how I watched the game was pretty amazing. A friend with family connections had some primo tickets. He drove up from Mobile, AL and I met him at the game. Now I knew “club level” seats were nicer and all that. But I really had no idea.

To start off, you have really big tickets. You even put them around your neck on a lanyard. I don’t know if this is to show everyone how good your seats are or what, but anyway… So we went on into the stadium and got in line for the elevator to take us up to the upper levels. After a few minutes an event staff person walks up and asks us if we’re going to the Club Level. After we not he tells us we can go to this other elevator. No wait at all (it was still a little ways before kickoff, but the line was for the people going to the upper deck).

So we get up to the top and there’s another checkpoint to pass through. A lady scans our ticket and then gives us a wrist band. Hmm. That’s new to me. But it gives you access to everything up there.

So we walk on through and I notice how nice everything is. Classy decorated. Lots of whites, maroon, and wood. There are even rows and rows of wooden lockers. What are lockers for up here? Interesting.

And then there are leather chairs and big screen televisions and tables and tables of food. So even though I had cash in my pocket to buy overpriced hotdogs and candy, I could grab a plate, walk through the line, and get pasta or salisbury steak or shrimp/crab dip served to me. Since I’m not always good with decisions, I got a bit of each. Then there were the unlimited fountain drinks of Coke Zero. I mean, won’t they have Coke Zero in heaven?

And then there was the mountain of chocolate chip cookies as big as a pancake. I ate six of them. Yes, really. And there was fruit and cheese and there was still the regular hotdogs too (but you had to get them yourself instead of someone serving them to you.)

The seats were great. Only about 8 or 9 rows probably of seats up there. So in a time out you could go to the bathroom, wash your hands, refill your Coke Zero, grab another cookie, and be back to your seat before the game started back. Or you could have stayed inside in the air conditioning and watched a little of the Vikings/Saints game or the US Open or just watched the MSU game on ESPN…while eating more cookies. You could also sit at one of the tables inside and still watch the MSU game on the field live. I came in to make a phone call and was able to hear my call and watch the game quite easily. (Oh, and those lockers I mentioned, that is where people keep their “special beverages” that they’ll add to their Cokes.)

So, the game experience from Club Level spoiled me. It will never be the same. Though I’ll go watch a game at Scott Field from just about any seat if given the opportunity.

Addie and Ella :: What’s The News? [ep1]

Okay, I’ve been late with this. The girls recorded this a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve been lax at getting it ready to upload. So here it is. (And they’ve got one more ready for me to edit as well.)

Forgive the hum you hear. I’ll take care of that next time.

If you want to leave a question for them, put it in the comments.

Big Week For The Bulldogs

My wife will make fun of me for this because she says this is just about the same statement I make for about half of the games Mississippi State plays. But I’ll make it anyway: this ballgame tomorrow night against Auburn at home on ESPN is…..wait for it….HUGE!

But it’s true. To be plain about things, MSU has been quite a distance from a “good football team” for quite a while. Heck, we’ve not even gotten very close to average. Yeah, we did make it to a bowl game (and a win) back in 2007. And there was some hope that we were better than just okay. But then Croom showed his real skills the next season and got canned.

Last year we showed improvement over the year. And ended on a big high note after giving Ole Miss all they could handle (and more). But I knew not to get overly optimistic based on one game. But during the spring, and the summer, and fall practice the attitude of the players and staff still seemed to be trending upwards. I found myself getting cautiously optimistic.

But then last week happened. We killed Memphis. We scored 49 on them. Could have put up more. It was awesome. I know, I know…it was just Memphis. Who couldn’t beat Memphis? But here’s the thing. I think MSU teams of the past would have beaten Memphis. But something like 17-10 instead of 49-7. I’ve had people ask me, “Are yall that good, or is Memphis that bad?” Great question. Answer is probably a little of both.

We’re much improved. But we don’t have to wait long to really put it to a test. Tomorrow night Auburn comes to town. Last time they visited they only beat State by one point. Or you could say they almost doubled our score. Either way, it was 3-2. But I expect many, many more points to be scored at Scott Field tomorrow night. All eyes will be on Starkville. No better chance for Mississippi State to prove themselves now worthy.

I know they can. I hope they do. I’ll be there to watch.

A Tale Of Two Sundays

Church services at The Orchard this summer have been good. Usually when summer comes our numbers drop a little because of the college students that attend are home for the summer. Or off working somewhere. Or just traveling and seeing cool stuff. But usually, most of them are not in Oxford.

But this summer our numbers didn’t drop significantly because many of our college students stuck around Oxford taking summer school or getting jobs. So summer was a nice time to get to know them better, and we also saw a few new families start to attend during the summer. Plus often times we had many counselors from Camp Lake Stephens attend too.

But when fall gets near we know to expect an uptick in attendance. But no way to really gage it though. We averaged about 115 from the Sunday after Ole Miss’ exams were done through the last weekend before classes started. I preached on August 15th to about 135 people. The next weekend, the 22nd was “Move In” weekend. Classes for Ole Miss started the next day.

On that morning we saw familiar faces showing up. Then some we’d not seen around the Orchard in a few months. And then new faces. And more new faces. And more and more! We started finding folding chairs in the storage room. We took all the chairs out of the Kids’ Ministry rooms. And we ran out of chairs! We had people sitting on the floor, standing in corners, out in the hallways… There were over 250 people there! I was quite surprised. We practically doubled from the week before.

I joked with myself that my awesome message the week before brought everyone in. But really, I don’t know what the catalyst was. And we start wondering how to prepare for the next week.  Pat is preaching a series on Biblical Friendship and I think it hit home with many people. But so many of the new faces were college students.

This morning I woke up to get ready for church. It was grey and raining outside. I thought, “hmm.” I figured the rain would keep people in bed or just in their homes. So we wouldn’t have to move as many chairs around.

We still set up a few chairs in the overflow room, but didn’t know what to expect. The service at The Orchard starts at 10:30. It stops raining about 10ish. There are a few people there. But then it happens again. A steady trickle becomes a stream. And soon we’re scrambling for chairs again. Taking the chairs from the kids again. And having people sit/stand everywhere. It didn’t seem quite as crazy this time, but there were actually more people there today than last week. The parking lot was an insurance adjuster’s nightmare with all those cars parked so tightly and all those college girls trying to maneuver around!

Now people are suggesting knocking out walls and other major remodeling projects. I’m interested to see how many people coming on Sunday mornings shift to the evening service that will begin on September 12th. But running out of space is a good problem to (temporarily) have.

It’s been an exciting two weekends. Seeing your church attendance double. But we’ve got to continue to seek God in how to connect everyone that’s coming to God and to each other. Provide community both big and small for them. And to create space, whether that means extra services or expanded rooms. So if you’ve read this far (and I’ll admit that I left out a lot of details I wanted to put in. I’m trying to get better at that) I ask that you pray that we, The Orchard, seek God and His wisdom for what our next steps should be.

Next weekend is a holiday weekend. No one has school on Monday and many people are off of work. Will people be traveling? BUT…it’s Ole Miss’ first home game of the season! Will more people be in town and come to church? We’ll see.

The Freshman 15 :: Tips For College Newbies

With school just starting up for most colleges and universities, I decided to put together a list of 15 Tips for College Freshmen.

Some of these are from my own experience, and some are from conversations I’ve had with other “experienced” college students or graduates.

  1. Enjoy it! Don’t stress out – It’s a new place with new people with new expectations. But you can pretty much start all over. For most people you can start your reputation over at ground zero (which is good for some, scary for others). But enjoy the next four or five years. Stressing continually about school will only make your grades bad and body unhealthy.
  2. Go to Class – This accomplishes a few different things. The professor knows your face (and this counts for something), listening and taking notes helps (even if you don’t study them a ton later), and many classes will drop you a letter grade if you miss too much. Plus you can form study groups and meet that girl/guy you saw sitting up front.
  3. Be a part of a campus ministry and local church – If church and following God is already a part of your life, then I urge you to get involved with a campus ministry. It helps you stay grounded in what you believe, you can find friends pretty easily, and you can find people you can to go for talking though issues at school. And I encourage you to find a local church to call your own for the next few years. It’s rewarding to be a part of something bigger than just a “college student ministry”, but you can serve in the life of the Church.
  4. Watch what you eat – I know… when you’re 18 you think your metabolism is hyped up enough to handle anything you eat/drink. But believe me, it will catch up to you fast if you’re not careful. You don’t have to have a strict diet, but too much pizza, chips, snacks, and soft drinks will add up before you know it.
  5. Go to the cafeteria and union often – They are natural gathering places. You’ll see lots of people and start to recognize them. Talk to them. Make friends. You might think you have a lot of good friends from high school. You don’t. You do have a few good friends from high school though. But the friendships you make in college are so much deeper than your high school relationships. It’s like Jr High < High School < College.
  6. Go to the games –  It’s football season. Get excited about your team, whether you’ve been a fan for life or just a week or so. But go, enjoy pregame festivities, cheer in the student section, celebrate or get mad with your fellow fans. Do the same for Basketball and Baseball seasons. Those will be some of the best memories. And even if you’re not a big sports fan you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of the event together. And you’ll probably become a fan.
  7. Know who you are and what you believe – There will be plenty of people who try to tell you what to believe or who you should be. Be confident in yourself. Don’t be a people pleaser or you’ll end up being not just two faced, but five or six faced depending on how many groups you run with. But know what you believe and be able to back it up.
  8. Enjoy it – There’s lots of extra curricular activity that goes on at college. My advice is to be responsible. Stick with a good crowd and have fun. But don’t go crazy. Especially with camera phones and facebook in everyone’s pocket. Plus, getting too crazy too often will cause your grades to suffer. Mom and dad won’t like that.
  9. Exercise – It helps on multiple levels. It clears your head and relieves stress.  It keeps you healthy. It helps ward off some of those hot wings and pizza from last night. It’s a great way to meet other guys/girls at the gym or running around campus. Each school has its own gym for the students. And there are probably various other gyms in town. Use them. Or just run a lot.
  10. Stop by your professors’ offices during their office hours – This will help you out a ton. Ask them to look over a draft of your paper, ask a question you thought of in class, ask why you missed a question on a test or what it was about your paper he didn’t like. This lets them know you care about their class. That makes them remember you and probably like you. They’ll almost help you write your paper if you ask enough questions (not literally, but you know what I mean).
  11. Read – Read the syllabus. Twice. Read the course materials. And read your notes. With basic comprehension and retention, you’re already ahead of the game for most courses. Then read/study/read/and bust your tail some more to go for that A. Studying is important. Getting in a study group can be beneficial too.
  12. Go to the Library – It’s quieter in there. There are tons of resources there. You can study or get away from the craziness that is often in the dorm or house. And if not the library, find a special place to study that is away from everything.
  13. Diversify your social network – If there are kids from your high school at your college don’t only hang out with them. Don’t hang out with only people in your major or from your dorm or your greek affiliation or your campus ministry or your club/team or your….. you get the point. But have a variety of groups you interact with. It’ll make you much more well rounded.
  14. Don’t wait til last minute to study – It will be both tempting and convenient to do that. And it can be destructive as well. Stress you out. And then you order a pizza and gain 15 pounds and make a D on your test… Remember that stuff about reading? Don’t wait til the day before a test to start your reading. Nor wait til the day before a paper or project is due to ask your prof for assistance.
  15. Watch your money – It is easy to spend lots of money in a short amount of time if you’re not careful. Then you’re buying a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger off of the dollar menu the second half of the semester or have debt. Ignore all the credit card applications that will seem to fall like rain on freshmen. You don’t need all that credit.

That is a quick list. What did I leave out? What advice would you give a college freshman starting school for the first time?

Addie and Ella :: Part II

Here’s the second part of the news show from a few days ago. This time they tackle sin, grandparents, lying to parents, and books.

And sadly the memory card had gotten full, and things ended too soon. But they still had a good time with it.

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