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.

Visiting George At The Local Gayopolis

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Sunday, August 3rd 2014 was the first time I had been in a gay bar in over 23 years. I went right after church to go visit my friend George (a.k.a. Carmella Marcella Garcia) who I hadn’t seen in 27 years.

It was a trip.

Yes, it is a gay bar, it is the famous (infamous?) Parliament House (PH). It is known around the world from what I have been told. I have never been to it or even driven by it… until that Sunday.

Chased, Caught

father-son

This post was published on Dr. Kathy’s blog back in June. She wrote this as an introduction:

Today I’ve invited Randy Thomas to blog for me. He begins with a beautiful illustration from friends and contrasts their father-son relationship with his own. You may be able to relate to Randy’s sadness and grief. But, keep reading, because Randy writes about God becoming his new Father and that changes everything. Everything. He writes about the chase and I love how it ends. I wonder if you’re familiar with it. Read to find out. – Kathy

Four-year-old Isaac, with a flash of his bright eyes and curly blond hair, could pretty much convince you to do just about anything. That boy is a handful and all you can do is smile as you pull him off the next piece of furniture.

The staff were all gathered together for lunch one day when Isaac came by the office, along with his mother and sister, to visit his dad. After the meal was over, Isaac ran around the conference table taunting his father, “Catch me Daddy!” Every time he passed one of the guys that had gathered around for lunch, we would growl and try to hook him with our arms. He giggled that 4-year-old sunshine of a giggle, eluding our scary traps as he playfully derided us, “I passed you!”

“Lately, he likes to be chased and get caught,” his dad later explained to me.

Exciting New Book Projects (Updates and Personal Announcement)

hands keyboard typing

Lately I have helped other friends with their books and that has sparked a new personal book project! I have been so excited it has been hard to sleep the past couple of nights. :)

If you are someone I am connected with on social media, you might have seen various posts lately about how I have the honor of working with Dr. Kathy Koch as she writes her new book “Screens And Teens: Connecting With Our Kids In A Wireless World.” So far I have done background research and given feedback on what she is writing as she writes it.

So fun.

This comes on the heels of doing the same type of content/writing feedback for another friend’s memoir, Jennifer Allison (aka The Rambunctious Kid.)

Seriously, I am loving these kind of projects.  While I haven’t been a part of his writing process, I am of course very excited for Alan Chambers who has worked very hard on his new book that is due out next year.

Repost: “A Profound Moment – Reflecting On The Exodus Closing Announcement”

exodus logoThis post from my old blog has been brought to my attention several times within the past couple of weeks so I thought I would repost it for the record. I have only slightly edited it for information (ongoing) that is no longer relevant. For those that don’t know, or didn’t read this on my old blog, the particular night referenced below is one of the most powerful experiences I have had. This post was originally written July 8th, 2013.


On June 19th 2013, during the opening night of the Exodus Freedom Conference, I sat on the front row. Leslie was to my right and  Kathy and the Exodus board to my left. All of us were providing each other, and Alan, support as we knew that Alan was making one of the most important keynote speeches of his life. He announced that Exodus is closing.

It was excruciating. The tension, the excitement, the knowledge of what was about to be said … my heart was racing and the tears came and went … to come back again. I had known that night was coming for a while, but there is a difference between knowing and experiencing.

It was quite the profound experience.

Of Pickles, Healthy Habits & Potato Sack Fashion (Health & Fitness Update)

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I think I can make this "bunched up potato sack" look a thing... #needsnewclothes

I think I can make this “bunched up potato sack” look a thing… #needsnewclothes

Yay health!

The Weight Loss Part

As of today I weighed in for Weight Watchers (WW) at 223.8The rundown:

  • May 14, 2013: Was at 270 … total net loss to date, 46.2 pounds
  • On May 17, 2014 (Rejoined WW after stopping for three months) I weighed 238.2. Since rejoining I have lost 14.4 pounds

This week I haven’t done anything different from the past week. Still sticking to plan and the new workout routine. However, the other day I had a couple of whole dill pickles with lunch and actually noticed I got bloated (from all the sodium). I have heard skinny people say, many times, that they can really tell when they take in a lot of sodium and I just thought that was silly. Nope, it’s a real thing and my diet has progressed to the point of really noticing it (in a big way). I guess when I used to live in a constant bloated kind of state it wasn’t that noticeable. That’s kind of scary now to think about.So glad to be on the healthier side of things now. Maybe I will go with just a few dill pickle “chips” instead of a whole one. :)

The Fitness Part
I have noticed that my going to the gym five times a week has definitely become habituated because I honestly haven’t struggled with wanting to go in a long time. Plus, I don’t even think about it that much except as a positive thing I get to do and not something I *have* to do. It has become a natural default in my life. One that I even defend and protect as a very important part of my day (early morning.)

And… oh my gosh… Bruce Pitcher’s story on ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss this past Monday night was simply amazing. Cried most of the way through it. His amazing health journey coupled with his personal story … wow … very inspiring and my heart goes out to him.

Wrap-up
Nothing huge to report this week but this is about where I am at with all of it. As always, thanks for your support, encouragement, and prayers. And, again, as usual, if you are also on a health/fitness improvement journey I would love to hear from you. Those of you who have spoken up before (publicly, privately) are in my prayers as you come to mind.

We have to do this for ourselves in order for it to work and stick. However, if we do it together it is nothing but good!

“Exodus International To Close…” – One Year After The Announcement

exodus logoOne year ago today was one of the most adrenaline filled/stressed-out days of my life. I knew that Alan Chambers was going to announce that we were closing Exodus that June 19th night. It was an incredible moment. One I will not forget. I am very proud of, and love, Alan for his intellect, bravery, and compassion.

I was the guy to hit publish on the press release and distributed it online while Alan was speaking. Definitely a personally catalytic moment in time.

Today I am not writing this to re-argue about the rightness of our decision. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was the correct decision to make. I am confident the Lord had orchestrated the entire situation; that He lead the staff, Alan, and the Board to that conclusion. I have a peace in my heart and simply know it was the right decision. I remain convinced it was for the best on many levels. I also stopped trying to convince others who disagree to agree with me. It is what it is. I’ve moved on and I hope others will too.

It’s A Gay Pride Time of Year

gay pride symbol

Today I am seeing a lot of pictures from my gay friends on social media of various gay pride events they are attending. Gay pride events happen throughout the year but June is kind of the launch of the yearly gay pride season (please correct me if I am wrong.) Anyway, seeing all those pictures reminded me of an article I wrote on my old blog that I want to share with you again today. I hope you find it worth the read. It’s been slightly edited from its original version.

It’s A Gay Pride Time of Year

It’s that time of year again, drag queens strolling down main street, the activists groups chanting their slogans, and gogo dancers causing parade float designers nightmares (they just won’t stand still!) Then there is the other 90% of parade people like your neighbor Sarah, or cousin Bill and his partner walking along hand in hand. They commit to completing a long parade route to show solidarity with the LGBT community and/or cause represented within that sphere of influence. Common + Unity = Community. Everyone belongs to one (a community), or several (communities), because we are wired to want to be known by others and to know others.

Of Heart & Mind

heart fixed

I can confidently say that God wired me to be an intuitive “feelings-first” type of person. I trust my feelings and intuition because that is, no question, how God made me. The problem is that in my efforts to test and find the meaning behind the intuition, I can be lazy and simply “assume” something to be true. Based on my gut feeling, I can explain away a situation or judge a relationship without actually paying attention to discovering the broader context of known facts. I do that much less now that I have gotten a bit older, but it can still be a struggle. I have learned to not act on my feelings before prayer, investigation, and reflection.

All that said, God also wired me with a brain and the ability to analyze and apply logic. I might be a feelings-first type of person, but I am not properly engaging the broad range of gifts God has given me if I only make decisions based on how I feel.