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Award Winning Book

Fun summer reading. “Monkeys In My Coconut Tree” by Ed Thompson, is a compilation of fun, easy-to-read stories of fun, family, and faith. It was a Reader’s Favorite 2016 Silver Medal Winner. So come on, check it out. Read some of the reviews and download your copy by clicking HERE. (Also available at Amazon.com, iTunes and others.)

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Zealots and Trolls

DT at CWS tunner

Sports fans are an interesting breed.

On one hand you have, of course, the “fanatic” or “zealot”, whom The Free Dictionary defines as “a person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm.” The opposite of a fanatic, according to Yahoo! Answers, is the “troll.” A troll or “hater” as they are often referred, is someone who opposes what you think.

Things can get real interesting when a zealot and troll sit next to each other in the stands.

I’ve just returned from Omaha, Nebraska, where I had the thrill of watching my son compete in the 2015 College World Series. David was six-years-old when he first told me he dreamed of playing in Omaha. Seeing his dream (and mine) come true was a beautiful, amazing experience.

As our team took the field, I was talking with another dad who was also experiencing dreams coming true. “There are over 300 Division 1 baseball teams,” he explained quite excited, “which means with 35-man rosters, there are roughly 10,500 student athletes playing baseball.” I nodded my head in agreement giving him the impression I was able to multiply large numbers in my head.

“Eight teams get to Omaha,” he continued, “meaning out of 10,500, less than 300 kids get to experience this.” Once again I nodded confidently in agreement. But then he asked, “Do you know what percentage that is?” He then just looked at me and waited as if my brain was somehow capable of figuring out his complex mathematical equation.

He must have noticed the blood rushing out of my head as I was trying to do math and mercifully volunteered the answer: “Roughly 2.6 percent.” “Yes, that sounds about right,” I said, stomping my foot trying to get the blood flowing back to my brain. “Think about it,” he insisted, less than 3% of all college baseball players ever get here. This is amazingly special.”

Despite my horrible math skills, I’ve thought a lot about that brief conversation. It was indeed “amazingly special” to get to Omaha. And when you consider the winner of the College World Series represents fewer than half of one percent (0.33%) of all division one baseball players (I figured that out all by myself), you realize how truly incredible it is to win this, or any other championship.

Which brings me back to the fanatics and trolls. You see, most are so focused on the win or the loss, they never take into consideration the incredible journey the athlete must take just to get into a position to win or lose. All that matters is for “their” team to finish in that very elusive half of one percent.

My wife and kids have urged me to not look at social media – the playground for zealots and trolls. For the most part, I have complied. But sometimes, I just have to look. And so it was after our team lost I ignored the warning bells and viewed a few social media posts.

And there they were. The zealots and trolls filling page after page with their unbridled vitriol. The fanatics chimed in on all the mistakes made which lost “us” the championship and the trolls basically suggested blind lame dogs would have beaten “our” team.

“It’s okay,” as my son has said to me more than once. “It doesn’t matter what they say or think.” In fact, like most athletes, he seems to have a basic understanding of the zealots and trolls. “They’re just fans,” he says a bit matter-of-fact. “They cheer and they boo. But they don’t understand.”

Then he looked at me and said, “But you understand, Dad.”

Indeed I do. I know all about the countless hours he spends to hone his skills when no one is looking. I know about his terrible disappointment after a poor performance and his heartbreak with a loss. I understand how hard he has worked to fight back from injuries and overcome way too many surgeries and hospital stays. And I certainly know all the sacrifices we have made as a family to help him get where he is today. Yes, I do understand.

So go ahead with your cheers and boos all you zealots and trolls. We understand.

Ese es mi hijo!

David HR swing

I’ve been yelling, “Ese es mi hijo” from the stands now for 16 years. It simply means, “That’s my boy,” and you hear it yelled out a lot here in Miami. For some reason, my hispanic friends think it’s funny when I yell it out.

I learned my Spanish baseball vocabulary at a popular baseball park here in Dade County called “Tamiami.” Against the well-meaning advice of many kind and gentle baseball-parent friends, David started playing there when he was nine years old. We were warned the conditions there could be a little rough. And just to prove the point, our very first game was complete with a resounding victory — and a fist fight — between the coach’s wives.

But it was at Tamiami my son, David, really learned the game of baseball. I can still hear some of the heavy Spanish accents from coaches as they taught the boys how to play. Baseball wasn’t just a game; it was a passion.

We sent 9-year-old David on a month-long baseball trip from Miami to Texas that year under the care of another couple. We never worried once knowing he would be the most well treated and cared for kid on the entire trip. Hispanics take family very seriously and David was their adopted gringo son. Not only that, but by the time the trip was over, David knew all Celia Cruz’s songs by heart.

Now David plays for the University of Miami. Not surprisingly, one of his teammates was on his Tamiami team. Several others play for different Division One teams while at least one other is already playing professional ball. Today, David was named one of sixty players to make the Golden Spikes Watch List. The trophy, which is awarded in June, is given to the athlete the panel considers the best amateur baseball player in the country. It’s a nice list to be on.

So once again, here I am in the stands yelling, “Ese es mi hijo!” And I couldn’t be more proud. God is good!

Back in the game 53 days after major surgery

The University of Miami’s final regular baseball series was agains the University of North Carolina May 16 & 17, 2014. The series included a 16 inning first game of the double header. Miami won the series to take first place in the ACC.

The series also featured my son, David, and his return after missing 32 games due to Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. He was hospitalized on March 19th, had six hour surgery on March 24 (including having a rib removed), and returned to action on May 16th. A remarkable return just 53 days after major surgery.

David said, “Having a little rib removed isn’t going to keep me out of the game.” Amazing! God is good, all the time.

Christmas, Cuba, Baseball & LOGOI…a great combination

Another LOGOI Side Road Adventure during our teams Cuba visit in December 2013. Thanks to a generous gift from Emil Castellanos in Miami, David Thompson (who plays third base for the University of Miami) brought in three large bags filled with baseball equipment. Much of the equipment was brand new thanks to Dicks Sporting Goods. This special visit included players from Cuba’s Sancti Spíritus national baseball team. The pastor of this church is a LOGOI/FLET Bible school graduate and one of LOGOI’s Five Dollar National Missionaries. What a wonderful Christmas present for us all. God is good!

Expectations

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right,” so stated the famous American industrialist, Henry Ford.  Of course, he also thought the Edsel was a good idea, so he wasn’t right about everything.

I’ve been thinking much about expectations these days. My youngest son, you see, is a student-athlete at the University of Miami.  He enrolled this past June with many ascribed “high expectations.”  And they weren’t talking about his GPA.

I’ve yet to meet a parent whose hopes for his child are that he or she grows up to be a disappointment, so like other Dads, I have very high hopes and expectations for my kids, too.  Naturally, all three of my kids are pursuing completely different paths, but the expectations for each of them to have success in their chosen fields are very high.  Not one of my children, by the way, are named “Edsel.”

The path our youngest son is taking, however, is a bit more public.  If one cares to, his success or failure on the ball field can be followed and pontificated upon from week to week.  And I must say, I’m rather intrigued by the vast number of self-proclaimed “experts” who really seem to enjoy pontificating.

“Expectations have long been a topic of psychological research,” says Jonah Lehrer in an article in the Boston Globe, “…but in recent years, scientists have been intensively studying how expectations shape our direct experience of the world, what we taste, feel, and hear.”  The article goes on to explain, for example, that a generic drug–which has the exact same ingredients as the brand name–is often proven to be less effective merely because it costs less.  In other words, the expectation is that the less expensive drug can’t possibly be as effective as the more expensive one.

“The human brain, research suggests, isn’t built for objectivity,” Lehrer explains.  “The brain is ‘cooking the books,’ adjusting its own inputs depending on what it expects.”  Lehrer reports, “Science suggests that, in important ways, people experience reality not as it is, but as they expect it to be.”

Science, it would seem, agrees with Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or can’t, you’re right.”

I thought about this after a particular game where David blasted a towering home run in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game.  It was a clutch hit that propelled the team to eventually win in eleven innings.  After the game, David confidently said, “I knew I was going to hit it out before I came up to bat.” I mustered a deep and powerful philosophical response to my son’s heroics by saying, “Wow!

ImageThe problems come, of course, when our expectations for ourselves or others are not realized.  Calvin, of the famous “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip said, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone’s expectations.”

Calvin was right, life is a lot easier without expectations.  But without them, I wonder if we would ever have heard of Neal Armstrong, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, Babe Ruth or LeBron James?  We are an impatient society and don’t have much time for the close relatives of expectations such as dedication, talent, and tenacity.  We want our expectations met and we want them met right now!  But life doesn’t always cooperate.

You may remember the popular bumper sticker that read, “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.”  It was basically a paraphrase from the Philippians 1:6 Bible verse which reads, “…and I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Ruth Graham, the loving wife of evangelist Billy Graham, fully understood this Bible promise.  If you were to visit her grave sight, you would see the following inscribed on her tombstone, “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.”

Expectations fully achieved!

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Surviving the End of High School Athletics

When it comes to recalling my athletic exploits, the axiom is true, “The the older I get the better I used to be”. The truth is, however, most of my athletic memories involve hospital rooms, casts, crutches, and Extra Strength Tylenol. I had a heart for football but knees for X-box.

My wife, Jenn, never actually saw me play football when we were students at Wheaton College. She did, however, visit me in the hospital where I slightly embellished how I sustained my season-ending knee ligament tear.  If memory serves, it was whilst tossing a perfect 127 yard touchdown pass between 8 defenders while being tackled by 14 rabid linebackers, the opposing team coaches, and a few cheerleaders.  It was quite a play.

David surrounded by family on Senior Day

I exchanged my football cleats for a seat in the bleachers long ago.  And what a great seat it has been.  Front row and center for the past twelve years; a constant barrage of football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball games and practices.  But then, in an instant, it came to a jolting stop.  Our youngest played his last high school game and suddenly, it was all over.

We knew this day was coming.  It had to.  It took a slow, inevitable route beginning with our oldest.  I distinctly remember his last high school football game and the slow, agonizing walk off the field. Shoulders were slouched giving way to heavy sobs.  And my son wasn’t doing much better, either.

But when our eldest son’s high school athletic career came to an end, we still had two more to cheer on.  That meant our calendar remained full of football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and baseball.  Then suddenly, my daughter’s soccer games were over; then her volleyball.  The writing was on the wall the entire time, but with one kid still in the system, the busyness continued.  Then, on a normal day, our last high school game was played and just like that, it was over.

Erma Bombeck said she took a very practical view on raising children.  She put a sign in each of their rooms which read, “Checkout time is 18 years”.

My wife continues to remind me that our job as parents is to prepare our children for “checkout time.”  As custodians of God’s prized possessions, we hope and pray we’ve filled them with confidence, dreams, determination, and faith and trust in a loving God.

When checkout time arrives, the ones with the biggest adjustments are often us parents.  We go from years of whirlwind activity to the unfamiliar territory of calm and quiet.  Suddenly, it’s just the two of us again and that’s both exciting and a little scary, too.

As it turns out, hanging out with my wife is pretty awesome.  And to my great relief, I think she likes hanging out with me, too.  So, it appears we’re going to survive the end of high school athletics. And if our recent trip out west is any indication, this new chapter  in our lives is going to be rather fun and exciting.

Today, highlighted on our calendars, are those wonderful college break visits and vacation days.  And of course, just because they’ve “checked out”, doesn’t mean they won’t be visiting.  After all, right next to that “checkout” sign is another sign that reads “welcome home”.

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P.S.  To our great delight, our youngest (David) is continuing his athletic career at the University of Miami.  We have many football and baseball games yet to enjoy.

National Signing Day: A Father’s Lesson

February 1st is “National Signing Day.”  It is the first day in which a high school senior can sign a binding Letter of Intent to play football in college. After months and sometimes years of recruiting, the hype and drama culminate on this special day as millions of deeply devoted college football fans tune in to learn which athletes have officially committed to their favorite school.

To be honest, I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to National Signing Day in years past.  But I certainly have this year.  You see, my youngest son is part of the hype and drama. CBS Sports (MaxPreps) lists him as one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the nation.  He is also projected as a high draft pick in the Major League Baseball draft this June.  But first, on February 1st, he will excitedly sign his letter of intent to play football and baseball at what we affectionately call, “The U.”  This is very good news for me. Half my wardrobe has the “U” on it.

To both my wife and son’s chagrin, however, it appears I have gotten caught up in all the hype.  There are at least a dozen or so fan-based websites devoted to University of Miami athletics and dozens more dealing with the MLB draft.  Few articles or discussion boards where my son is mentioned go by without coming to my attention.  And while the vast majority of articles and comments are very positive, a tiny few are negative. And what is a father to do when uninformed nincompoops make disparaging remarks about his son?

Well, in the way of a confession, I’ll admit that I have cleverly disguised my name and relationship to my son and have responded in anonymity to a few of the comments made by knuckle-headed bloggers and fans.  Using my highly developed skills in sarcasm and derision, I not only put those misanthropes in their places, but questioned their very intelligence for even thinking something negative about my son.

Then, and this is where I blew it, I proudly showed my wife and son some of the blog posts and comments (without revealing my cleverly disguised message-board name). I was confident they would be pleased how a total stranger was coming to his defense

To my great surprise, however, they were both able to instantly determine each one of my blog-post replies despite my cleverly disguised name.  Then, after reading my acrid comments, they would turn and look at me with an eye-narrowing “what is wrong with you?” glare.  “What?” I answered, trying in vain to look innocent.

After a brief discussion where various degrees of my intelligence were questioned, a beautiful moment took place, one I will long cherish.  My son put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and with an assuring and loving smile said, “It’s ok, Dad.  I can take it.”

It’s a beautiful thing to see your child grow up with steely fortitude ready to face a hostile world.  It’s that much more amazing to realize they are willing to step into the brutal world of college football where one can turn from hero to goat in an instant.  I have watched in admiration as Jacory Harris, the University of Miami quarterback these past years, has skillfully and graciously managed such a hostile environment.  “It comes with the territory,” is the common view.

And now a new wave of aspiring athletes will face the glaring spotlights and the roar of cheering or jeering fans.  As a Dad, I can’t imagine ever overcoming the sense that I have to protect and defend my children. There are, after all, a few loud cynics out there who like to drag as many people as they can down their sad and lonely road.  But for now, with ample threats from my wife and son, I have retired my clever pseudonyms.  And when I feel that desire to set another pundit in his place, I’ll remember that assuring smile, “It’s ok, Dad. I can take it.”

2009 Thompson Family Christmas Letter

Matt, Jenn, David, Ed & Abby

Warm Christmas greetings from the Thompson Family. Or, as the Spanish Santa’s say here in the malls of Miami, “Jo, Jo, Jo.”

Jenn and I took a moment to reflect on this past year to see if we had anything exciting to report. After a few minutes we realized 2009 was far more eventful than we had initially thought…so we took a nap.

Feeling refreshed, here’s a quick look at our year in review:

Matt (22) graduated from college! That is a wonderful, amazing sentence that wears us out all by itself. Now that a diploma from Florida International University hangs on Matt’s wall, he can always proudly say, “I was the first child to graduate from college in my family…” We are, or course, very proud of Matt. And now, the real world begins for this college graduate…

With that said, the ink was barely dry on his diploma when he was off to Macon, Georgia to begin his “Development Intern” job at First Presbyterian Day School. My brother, Gregg, just so happens to be the Head Master. Gregg was looking for someone with creative abilities to produce promotional videos, webcast school games and special events, speak at chapels, and generate even more excitement, energy, and school spirit for a great high school.

Laura & Matt

That job description had “Matt” written all over it. He is also a football coach once again and has even added “swim coach” to his vast repertoire of things he can do.

But far more exciting than any of these things is… he is getting quite serious with a young lady named Laura, who is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. Jenn and I are way too young for any of this…we need another nap.

Abby, (19) is a sophomore at Samford University in Birmingham where she is studying the cognitive and corporal effects of college on two hours of sleep per night. She has always been a blur of activity… now she must be seeing everything blurry, too.

She somehow manages to keep up with her studies in between her Facebooking and nimble fingered texting. And while this sounds a bit strange, it does make my day to get a text from Abby that says, “Luv u Daddy.” Abby continues to study Exercise Science. She is still very interested in helping people who need prosthetics, but is developing an interest in working with children who have autism as well.

Abby

She’s in a tough major requiring lots of long hours of study… and I have no doubt, a little extra sleep would help. She loves her Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and has made some great friends. She now has a “big” and a “little” which I’m told means something important. And because she is always awake, she is also the sorority’s intramural chairman planning all their sports teams and events.

Needless to say, this beautiful and energetic girl with a gorgeous smile has a long list of would-be suitors. I have calmly responded by developing a deep and intimidating scowl I’m hoping young men sense and fear from hundreds of miles away.

Abby seems to have developed some sort of immunity to my scowl, however. She knows she can soothe the savage beast with a simple gaze and smile in my direction. It’s not fair. I need a nap.

Most would agree that David (16) had a pretty good year. He started 2009 helping lead his team to their first State Baseball Championship since 1998. David was the only freshman on the team, but led Westminster Christian in home runs, batting average, and other such nice things.

The great season helped David become a First Team All-State Team selection, a First Team All-Miami Dade selection, and to top things off, a MaxPreps All-American (the top 30 baseball freshman in the country). So, yes, I suppose he had a pretty good year.

When the 2009 football season rolled around, David, now a sophomore, had the opportunity to put on the pads and help lead his team back to the playoffs for the first time in six years (Matt’s junior year). As a second year starter, the preseason report by the Miami Herald listed David as one of the top QB’s in Miami. The season concluded with David making the top 10 in several offensive categories for the entire state resulting in him being described as, “the top rated quarterback in Florida for the class of 2012.” Hmmmmm. Matt is quick to remind David, however, that his (Matt’s) 80 yard touchdown pass is still the family record. Even so, you can see some highlights here: David Football Highlights. After attending all his games, Jenn and I need and deserve a long nap.

Dave & Tim Tebow

Meeting Tim Tebow was pretty cool, too. And in case you were wondering, yes, the college letters have begun. Of course, Jenn thinks David being inducted into the National Honor Society was even more impressive than his athletic skills. I know…Jenn is so funny.

Speaking of Jenn, she had a pretty good year, too. She started the new school year at Westminster Christian as the new and very cute Elementary School Principal. Yes, several major changes took place at the Alma Mater of Ed, Matt, and Abby… but none more exciting than Jenn’s new role.

She was promoted from her Assistant Principal job in the Middle School to being in charge of grades PreK – 5th with roughly 60 teachers and over 340 kids to oversee. While most think she is working really hard, the truth is, she’s just reliving her childhood. We especially love to hear the stories of cute little boys and girls who are sent to the Principal’s office for one reason or the other. I tell everyone, “If I worked half as hard as Jenn, I’d actually get somewhere.” Jenn would take a nap if she had the time…

As for Mr. Ed, well, I am working on a very exciting project at LOGOI called our “Virtual Pastor’s Office.” It’s a brand new way to do missions and we have high hopes for how it can help indigenous pastors and leaders, missionaries, churches, as well as partners in ministry right here in the States. You can get a preview at www.logoibeta.org.

It’s also been great to see three of the singles from my “Beautiful Feet” CD make it to the top 20 of Christian Radio & Retail’s Global Charts. Over 500 stations are playing my songs and soon you’ll even be able to include some of my songs on places like “Pandora Radio” on the internet. My single, “Love Me Anyway” climbed all the way to #2 on the inspirational chart and held a top 20 spot for over 25 weeks. A fourth single is scheduled to be released in January. You can check my website for more details: www.edthompsonlive.com. And come on, invite me to perform at your church already.

Finally, I thought you’d enjoy a little picture of our home decorations this year. We’ve thought about doing this for quite some time as our neighbors get into the Christmas spirit with great gusto. They found a few “empty” spots in their yard this year which they’ve been able to fill with blowup Santa’s, snowmen, ferris wheels, and even a manger scene if you can see through all the penguins. So, we put up our Christmas tree, hung a wreath, and wrote, “Ditto” in lights on our roof with an arrow pointing at the neighbors. A steady stream of cars driving by at night seem to be enjoying our Christmas sentiments. We hope you do, too.

Merry Christmas, from our house to yours. May the love and grace of Jesus fill our hearts and lives. “Ditto!”

The Thompsons

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