Party Barge & Car Surfing In Daytona Beach (Memoir)

daytona beach

It was 1986. I was a senior in High School, and somehow I ended up with a group of guys at school sanding down an old short school bus. Two of them (brothers) had gotten the bus as a Spring Break present from their Dad. We gutted the thing, painted it black, and I painted, “Party Barge” on the sides. I also painted “Party Barge” on the little flip-out stop sign. It was no longer the iconic red and white flashing stop sign; it was now the solid black with gold Def Leppard-esque lettering “Party Barge” on it.

SO cool.

Surprisingly, my parents said I could go. However, like all the times before when I really wanted to do something, the night before they said I couldn’t go. They got mad because the boy’s father wanted them to sign a liability waiver for me to be in the Party Barge during spring break.

I don’t remember having a fit, but I do remember being incredibly angry. My parents relented at the last-minute (there is a lot to be written about that at a later date) and the next day the “Party Barge” crew headed to Pensacola.

Pensacola was boring. We thought MTV was there. They weren’t. However, we quickly traveled a million more miles to Daytona Beach where the MTV Spring Fest was actually happening.

It was wild.

I will never forget pulling up on the beach where there were practically naked young adults and crazy old people … EVERYWHERE! I was mesmerized.

My parents weren’t. I called them … eventually … to tell them we left Pensacola and were now in Daytona. To describe them as “not happy” is an understatement.

The Blessing of Aunt Ruby

elderly young hands

This was published in June on Dr. Kathy’s
blog
. I wanted to bring it here too. Kathy wrote this as an introduction:

Summer can be a time for rich memory making. Randy’s memories can inspire you to think about what memories you are and aren’t creating for your children. Sometimes, we’re so concerned with doing things for our children, that we don’t do enough with them. And, have you told them about your grandparents and those even older? Pull up a chair, grab a piece of pie, and talk. Speaking of pie, if there was a “food smart” it appears Randy’s Aunt Ruby and Great Granny Sallie Mae had it. Warning – you may be hungry after reading this. I’m craving a juicy peach – in or out of a pie. – Kathy

When my Great Aunt Ruby passed away in 2006 it was heart-breaking news. She was a sweet soul here on Earth, an blessing to our family, and I miss her.

Aunt Ruby married my Great Uncle Boochie (Boochie is a name of endearment) who was the son of my Great Grandmother Sallie Mae. They lived with Sallie Mae. Uncle Boochie was a police officer and died relatively young from a heart attack. My Aunt Ruby definitely was a modern example of the Biblical figure of Ruth. In the Bible Ruth stayed with Naomi, her mother-in-law, out of loyalty and in the humility of service even after her husband passed. Unlike Ruth, Aunt Ruby was never to re-marry. She stayed and lived with my Great Grandmother until Great Granny passed away. It was only then that Aunt Ruby moved out on her own.

Father’s Day 2014

father son day

This morning I posted a status update that sums up my feelings for Father’s Day this year pretty well, and I embed that here in the post below. I also had a fun time hanging out with Alan, Leslie, Nate, Sarah, DJ, Leslie’s Mom Sue, all the kiddos. It was a fun cookout and of course everything was delicious; lots of good stories and laughing. I hope you had a great day too.

Embrace The Imperfect Student – A “No More Perfect Kids” Reflection (Cross-posted)

student

Here is the full text of my guest blog post on Dr. Kathy’s blog not too long ago. I am so honored to be guest blogging over there!

I am honored to be blogging here today! Lately, I have been reading No More Perfect Kids by Dr. Kathy Koch and Jill Savage. The story below tumbled out and onto the screen after reading the first chapter of their excellent book. I hope you will see the value of how a teacher can embrace an imperfect student, help affirm their innate gifts, and set them on a positive course. Mrs. Pierson has always been a personal hero of mine. I am sure you will see why.

Mrs. Pierson had this completely ’80’s longish bob hairdo thing going on. This was of course completely appropriate because the scene I am going to describe happened in 1984. She also dressed like a college professor (in my mind) even though she was my 9th grade civics teacher. I wouldn’t say she was overly gregarious, but she always seemed super-smart, confident, and calm. For many reasons, I loved her and that class. In all of my school years, civics was one of the very few classes I felt eager to attend. I never hesitated to raise my hand and answer the questions she would ask.

I loved the subject and I loved seeing her eyes light up in recognition of my eagerness.

Even when Tip, the kid in front of me, would blow spit bubbles randomly in the air, I was always focussed and enjoyed that class. Tip was cool too.

Litmus Test Christianity

litmus testJesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I was involved in the “ex-gay” movement for almost 21 years. While rare, there is an argument I have encountered saying that a person’s response to homosexuality is the litmus test of whether someone is truly applying The Gospel or even saved.

Every time I hear this it gives me chills. The truth is that if there actually is a litmus test, that test is Jesus Himself. To put anything else in place of Him as being the singular evidence of salvation, The Good News (Gospel), is simply idolatry by a different route.

It’s Raining Giant Trees (Dream)

dark wood texture

First I am going to share the dream by itself. Then after that I will share what it means to me. The reason I am separating them is that sometimes dreams are like artwork, people can extract a wide variety, and all kinds of personal meaning from them. I think that is totally cool. So, please read the dream, ponder it if you want and gather your own thoughts on it. Then read my thoughts after the second section divider. :)

In my dream I am sitting on my Great Granny’s porch. The porch was built by her father, my Great Great Grandfather, by hand. However, in the dream it had been carefully preserved, modified, expanded and updated. However, I knew that it had always been lovingly maintained/remodeled by The Owner. The house was simply beautiful, warm, welcoming. It actually looked like it had been decorated by one of my best friends. It was again, beautiful.

A Father’s Dance, A Son’s Joy

rob jude

This kid is cute. I mean … just cute as a button. His name is Jude. He has sandy blond hair and he loves worship time.

Jude and his parents always sat up front at church because Jude loves to dance around or jump in place. Of course, as little boys are want to do, he likes to run around a bit too. Jude has also been seen with his toy guitar in tow to play along with the band on a few occasions.

I told you … the kid is cute!

The cool thing about Jude is he likes to mix it up … he’s a squirmer. Tina is very good at giving Jude some freedom but is quite the Jude wrangler sometimes. She loves her son. You can tell.

Send Me An Angel

colorful dancefloor

Back in the day I used to sneak out of the house and/or call in sick to work to go hang out at the gay bars. I started going to them when I was seventeen. Initially the euphoria and my naiveté mixed very powerfully. I thought I had finally found a refuge for my aching heart.

As any traumatized slightly neurotic seventeen year old looking for any semblance of escape would be prone to do.

It wasn’t legal for me to be in the bars, even way back then. They had raised the drinking age a couple of years before I turned 18. Yes, it used to be lower than 21. Back then I think people had to have strong drink in order to put up with all the dinosaurs and lack of electricity. ::: grin :::

About The Alleged False Gospel Of “Nice”

bible thumper

Yesterday I started on a trail of reading through internet articles and blog posts from the religious activist community. One thing I repeatedly noticed is that there is a new talking point echoing throughout their chamber. The claim is that it is heretical to preach the false gospel of “nice”.  I ran into more than a few articles about how Jesus wasn’t a “nice” savior. While many words were dispensed, common arguments were used to prove their theological point. They reminded us that He ran the money changers out of the temple (with a whip no less!), was an absolutist (He is the only way to the Father), and belief in Him turned family members against each other.

A Bride’s Song, A Bridegroom’s Love

marriageforever12She is a petite blond with an incredible singing voice. I’ve known her for about eight years and have been in a life-group at church with her and her husband almost that whole time.

They are a wonderful, and oftentimes hilarious, couple.

Yesterday at church she led out on one of the songs in the worship set. As a friend, I was blessed to see her step up to the plate and knock it out of the park! She doesn’t lead out on songs often so it was fun to see her “soar” with the music.