All posts by Keith Thompson

Barbara (Bobbie) Phillips

Bobbie Phillips was my mother-in-law and she passed away one year ago. In a world where many married children complain about their in-laws on each side, we never had that problem in my family.

I could write for 10 pages about her, but I will keep this to the point. I was fortunate enough to be loved by two mothers, mine, and Elaine’s. As far back as I can remember, when we would see her, she never called me Keith. She always said, “hey son.” I am not sure she ever understood what those two words meant to me. It meant I was loved as a family member.

The most kind, thoughtful, and pure-hearted person I know is my wife, Elaine. Her mother was a close second. See, that is where my wife learned to live life like she does. Our two daughters are just like their mother, kind, thoughtful, wise, and pure-hearted. How we raise our children and the examples we set does in fact have an impact on the people our children become.

When Elaine and I were dating (started in high school) I was just a kid who had left home and supported myself. Many times, just barely making it. Bobbie Phillips would always have food for me every time I went over to Elaine’s home. She knew. I cannot express what that one kind gesture from her mother meant to a young boy who could have gone either way in life. It was her example that made me want to be a better man and showed me how life was done. Not one time did she ever talk badly about life and the issues she endured taking care of her husband for 11 years after his accident. She simply never complained out loud.

She was dearly loved by all her family and also especially by me. There are not enough adjectives to really tell the world the kind of woman she was but If you looked up the word ‘mother’ in the dictionary, it should have her picture beside the word. KT

Expiration date

This past weekend Elaine and I got together with her siblings and spouses to commemorate her mother’s passing one year ago. After lunch and conversation, we all went to the graveyard to put flowers on Elaine’s mom’s grave, her brother’s grave and her grandparents’ grave. I know it is a little morbid, but we also looked at our own gave plots where we will be when the good lord calls us home.

As we walked around graves, there were many we knew well. People we knew for years, leaders, our teachers, deacons, friends, and families all around us. I was stuck by one thought – the human mortality rate is 100% and we all have an expiration date. I do not care how important you are or how much money you have, we will be buried the same way and if you are a believer, we will all be judged the same way in the end.

I looked at some graves that were recent and others were older, and many were several generations ago. I have often said that our influence really extends to two generations. Our children and grandchildren. Beyond that there is of course love, but very little influence. The best I can tell, we get one shot to leave behind the example for our children and grand children to follow. In some sports you have instant reply, in golf you have mulligans, in basketball you get five chances to not foul out, in baseball you get three strikes, in football you get four attempts to get a first down. In life we only get one swing at the ball and there are no do-overs and no second chances. We are one and done.

Hopefully, many years from now someone will be walking past your grave and remember you for being a good man and or a good woman. Wouldn’t it be great if they could also say that you were honest, kind, trustworthy and reliable? Notice I did not say wealthy. We spend so much time trying to be this or that when the real truth is, death is the great equalizer. Next time you see a graveyard, think about what you want to be remembered for and I hope it is for the right things. KT

Masters – Augusta National

The Masters Golf Tournament (in my opinion) is the most special sporting event of all time. It has been said that the grounds at August National is the most well-manicured piece of real estate that exists in the United States. I have been there and do not doubt it is true.

A family member of mine (Spooky Craddock) and our wives were having lunch recently and the topic of the Masters always seems to come up around this time of year. He has been invited to play the course many times and I have only thought about playing the course many times. Ha

Augusta National operates as an absolute dictatorship. If you think about it, it almost has to be, given that its members are some the most powerful and recognized people in the world. Presidents, CEO’s, politicians, athletes, corporate leaders etc. If every decision was up for discussion and a vote, can you imagine? Therefore, the Chairman of August National makes all decisions, and every decision is final. I do not know if this happened once or if it happens all the time, but the chairman some time ago opened the business meeting with his financial report. He said, “last year we made more money than we spent.” That was the end of the business meeting. No handouts, no questions, no opinions. Just a simple statement and that was it. Ha

Two stories Spooky told me that may give you some perspective on Augusta National and how it operates – Some years ago when Clifford Roberts was the chairman (he served 45 years as the chairman) they had admitted a new member. During the business meeting this new member began to ask a lot of financial questions about income, staffing and various expenses etc. After the business meeting, the new member went out and played a round of golf. Clifford Roberts met the new member on the 18th green and ask him if he enjoyed his round. “oh yes, it was great.” he said. Clifford Roberts told him he was glad and told the new member that he was no longer a member of Augusta National and to get his things and leave. The meaning – no one questions the Chairman.

Some will remember there used to be a big tree in the 17th fairway that stuck out well into the fairway. They called it the Eisenhower tree because every time Dwight D. Eisenhower (‘Ike’) would play, he would hit his ball into that tree. In one business meeting, Ike was present when Clifford Roberts was chairman. He stood up and said, “I make a motion that we cut down that tree on the 17th fairway” and sat down. Clifford Roberts said “sir you may be the president of the United States, but I am the chairman of Augusta National and your motion is denied. Anyone else have anything they want to say?” it was crickets.

During the Masters week they sell on average, one million dollars an hour of Masters merchandise (shirts, hats etc.) The most amazing thing to me about the Masters tournament is the prices they charge at their concession stands. It is like stepping back in time. The egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches are $1.50, soft drinks are $2.00 and chips are $1.50. Try that at a national league baseball game.

There are many aspects of the Masters, which have become almost part of the soul of the American people. Even people who do not play golf are mesmerized by the reverence, respect and professionalism in the way the tournament is presented. It is almost like you’re in a time capsule watching a bygone era of American sports when life was simple. To say it is special, is an understatement. It is really the most special sporting event of all time. KT

Sound of freedom

I was meeting with a client in Ft Walton Beach yesterday, and he said something that made me pause and take note. His office is very close to Eglin Air Force base and has an outside veranda area that was opened when I got there.

Halfway through the meeting we heard a couple F-18s come screaming over his office and he looked at me and said, “that’s the sound of freedom.”

We take for granted, what we really have in America. There is no other country in the world that enjoys the freedoms we have. The sheer capabilities of our Armed Services would baffle the minds of most Americans. Those boys and ladies in those jets that flew over and the Navy Seals, Army Special forces, the Marines and the list could go on, are not just window dressing. They simply are the best deterrent the world has ever seen. No one wants to go to war with America. They may spout off that they want to, but they really don’t.

When those F-18s flew over us yesterday, I thought about all the civil unrest going on in our country. We live in a country that gives (paid for with the lives of young men and women) the freedom to say whatever you want without the threat of consequences. That in itself, is true freedom.

Our young country has only been settled for several hundred years, yet we are the beacon of light for the world to see and we are the example other countries follow. It does my heart good to show reverence and respect to those young Sailors, Airmen, Army and Marines because you see, it is them, who are paying for the freedoms we all enjoy. KT

Hurried and worried

Do you ever find yourself hurried and worried in life?  Life throws a lot at us and if we don’t have a good foundation, life can sometimes overwhelm us. There is a passage of scripture that always comes to my mind when I get in a hurry or concerned about something. It is Matthew 11:28 NIV – ‘come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. The King James version uses the words ‘you that labor and are heavy laden.’

Here is the point of the scripture for me. Jesus said, ‘come to me.’ He didn’t say come to the church or come to a meeting or come for coffee. He said to ‘come to me.’ See, it is not the place Jesus wants you to come to. It’s him. The best I can tell, you can come to Jesus in any setting, even while you are in a hurry driving somewhere. It is a quiet prayer breathed even when you are hurried and or worried. I find saying a little prayer something like this helps me. “Lord, help me to settle my spirit and go before me and prepare my way.”  A little prayer like that breathed from your heart, can really change the moment you find yourself in.  

God looks at you like you just like you look at your children. We want to know the details our children are dealing with because that helps us know how to help them and guide them. Same thing with God. He wants to know what you are going through. I simply cannot imagine a life outside of a relationship with God because it would be so lonely, weary, meaningless and dark. Jesus wants us to come to him with the small things in life as well as the big things. I believe (just my opinion) that he takes greater pleasure in the smaller things than the bigger things. When you can trust him with the smaller things, it is easier to trust him with the bigger decisions.

The next time you find yourself frazzled, frustrated and out of sorts, try the little prayer mentioned above and you may just find it helps. KT