Like I was saying....

Category: Stuff (Page 1 of 65)

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 were 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 to 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” til 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 it. 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. But 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?

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?

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?

Missed Opportunities?

Yesterday in church Pat was teaching and one of the points he was making is that often times we in the church end up relying on “professional Christians” to do most of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to ministry, serving, and missions, but we as a church need to all take up the initiative and both lead/serve with the passions God has equipped us with.

He said that it won’t always be perfect, but we still need to give it a shot. Then he said something like, “Take this for example….” and then you hear a heavy bass line start up over the speakers. Pat grabs a handheld mic and says, “Karaoke is the ultimate example of regular people doing the job of a professional…” Behind him we all recognize “Stand By Me” starting up. “So I’m going to sing a little to show you that we don’t have to be perfect to be effective.” People start to shift expectantly in their chairs to hear Pat melt their ears with some crooning.

But then he bails at the last minute when the lyrics start flashing on the screens. People laugh. And all was good.

At the end of the service I go on stage to announce a few things, remind folks about communion after the service, and tell everyone we love them and look forward to seeing them again next week. But as I’m finishing the last sentence “Stand By Me” starts up again… People again laugh and I can see they’re wondering if I’ll sing or not. They’re looking for a good laugh, apparently. And I actually consider it. But I end up walking off stage after a bit of hesitation.

It made for some funny conversations after church. But I’ll admit on the ride back home as I was in the truck by myself I killed the song. I mean KILLED IT! I tried a few different pitches or intensities. Found my best Ben E. King impersonation. And I’ll admit that there was some regret mixed in. Why didn’t I go for it? Was it risk of embarrassment? Sounding too bad? Or screwing up? Or failure? [can you really fail at Karaoke?] Was it fear of being laughed at instead of laughed with?

It was probably a cocktail of a few of those mixed together. But as I look at my life, both past and present, I see the same thing has held me back from some different ventures/adventures. And I don’t want my life to be marked by that anymore. I want to be able to move forward and take “risks” without fear of failure. Or screwing up. To have confidence of Christ in me (the hope of glory).

Now of course this doesn’t mean I jump at any chance to embarrase myself, which I probably would have done if I’d actually tried to sing yesterday. But to not be scared to push outside of my comfort zone. I think sometimes my comfort zone can become my complacent zone. Does that make sense?

In honor of all our mothers.

I never have had a brother. But I do have a mother. But I’d assume if I had a brother and we tried to do something for our mother it’d probably go something similar to this.

The Nashville Flood

Here in Oxford we got a lot of ran over the weekend. I was actually thinking it was a lot. That was until I saw someone send a tweet that Nashville had gotten over TWELVE inches in less than 36 hours. Then I started to see the various photos coming out. If you’ve not paid much attention to it, you should check out the great website Nashvillest.

It is a blog for/about Nashville. It has many photos that will surprise you as well as tons and tons of articles about how to help, what you can do, and different insights on the flood. But before and beyond the Nashville Flood, the Nashvillest is a really intriguing site in it’s own right.

Below are some photos from the past few days:

We’re in the new building!

Back in January I posted a video from the first work night The Orchard had in the new building. That work night was on January 20th. And we’ve come a long way since then.

Last weekend Pat made the call to call it a 95% chance that we’d have church today (March 7th) in the new building. And I think that pushed us to get as much done as we could in the next six days. And there were lots of folks in and out of the doors. There was still painting, carpeting, putting together 200 chairs, hanging televisions, putting together children’s ministry furniture, setting lights, running sound system cable, building a stage, changing light fixtures, replacing facia board, getting the Fire Marshall to approve us, getting fire extinguishers, hanging posters, and probably a dozen other things. And all fo that was just this past week.

But there have been many, many people who have put in many hours to get the building to where we are. And today felt good. And one of the coolest things is that now we don’t need to spend near as much time before and after a service setting up things and then taking them right back down. We have had some great volunteers give their time and strength to that. We have been blessed. But now we get to reorient their efforts/focus to other ministry areas.

The new building still needs some more attention. There’s a punch list we’ll still need to knock out (did you see the bathrooms?). But it’s great to be in a building of our own. But we have to be careful that we don’t allow a building to define us. Sure, it opens up many opportunities and should also make other things easier. But it’s not an end all solution. Our heart, as a church, still needs to be focused on Jesus. And our passions need to be the same as His passions.

So while we’re quite excited about the building, we’re more excited about the opportunities it provides for The Orchard to impact Oxford for God’s Kingdom.

[I wish I had a few photos from this morning. Maybe next week.]

The Not So Newlywed Game

Not too long ago Bev and I had a few friends over for supper. You know how that usually goes. Some people are on time. Some are a touch late. But everybody makes it eventually. And then everyone eats at the table or the barstools or standing around in the kitchen. And then the guys end up in a clump while talking about sports or tv shows or how they would probably make up a good Curling team in the next Olympics. And on the other hand the ladies clump up and talk about their kids or how lame it is that their husbands watch Curling.

So this time Bev wanted to go with a theme for dinner. And for some reason she chose a Wedding Theme. So everyone wore something from their wedding or brought something from their wedding and wedding pictures and all that fun stuff. It was quite fun. But we also played a game. We called it “The Not So Newlywed Game.”

It is played like the classic Bob Eubanks version I guess. But we had five questions each. It provided quite a bit of laughs and insight as we talked through the ten questions. Here’s what they were:

Questions for the Ladies

  1. The saying “opposites attract must be true because my husband and I couldn’t be any more different when it comes to _________?
  2. Every wedding has something to go wrong. What detail at your wedding didn’t go as planned?
  3. Where did you share your first kiss?
  4. What is your husband’s most irritating habit?
  5. If your husband won $5000, what would he want to spend it on?

Questions for the guys

  1. If your wife could have unlimited access to any store, what store would she choose?
  2. If your wife could send you to the body shop for a tuneup, which body part of yours would she want worked on?
  3. What is your wife’s favorite comfort food?
  4. If you could have a second honeymoon, where would your wife want you to take her?
  5. If you wife was married to a tv/movie star instead of you, who would she want to be married to?

One fake question I threw out there for the husbands was, “Which of your wife’s friends would you most like to see in a bikini?” I asked it and then watched them squirm like crazy. But I was sure to jump in before anyone attempted to name a friend. It was funny. But what was funnier was when I asked the wives, “Which of your friends would your husband most like to see in a bikini?” I almost held it in to let the question go around the room and actually see if they would name anyone. But I couldn’t keep a straight face.

As I said, it was a great time. And I meant to mention that my wife actually wore her wedding dress from nearly 11 years ago for a while. She’s a trooper!

What questions should we have asked? Have you played the game before with other questions? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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