Party Barge & Car Surfing In Daytona Beach (Memoir)

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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.

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.

The Blank Sheet

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Catharsis: purification or purgation of the emotions (as pity and fear) primarily through art: a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension: elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression (source; emphasis mine)

Kathy’s post brought back an amazing string of memories.  She wrote about helping families in need provide back to school supplies for their children. Instantly I was reminded of grade school and my writing tablets; the excitement I felt when I looked at a blank sheet of paper.

As a little kid, I loved loved loved getting new paper. I do remember crying when I first learned to write. I was incredibly afraid of the teacher, Mrs. Warren, would punish me severely if I didn’t get it just right. Of course she didn’t, and I can remember her telling me I would be alright, that I was doing a good job… and that I needed to stop crying because I had work to do. I am smiling over that last part as I type this. Mrs. Warren made time to encourage, but she was also about getting it done too. In short order, I grew to love the process of writing. Whenever I would receive a brand new stack of paper, and pens/pencils, I felt like the luckiest kid in the world.

Chased, Caught

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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.

Fourth of July Sushi, Prayer Request For Elbow, And Down Again This Week! (Health & Fitness Update)

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Here is today’s health and fitness update!  I appreciate those of you who read these and are supportive. I find that these weekend updates are helpful for me to do because it gives me a chance to evaluate the week and enjoy this journey a little more deeply. It’s how I roll :)

The Weight Loss Part

As of today I weighed in for Weight Watchers(WW) at 222.2. I lost another 1.6 pounds last weekThe rundown:

  • May 14, 2013: Was at 270 … total net loss to date, 47.8 pounds
  • On May 17, 2014 (Rejoined WW after stopping for three months) I weighed 238.2. Since rejoining I have lost 16 pounds

“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.

Taking a Deep Breath

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Tomorrow is my 46th birthday. Normally I start announcing it … loudly and often … for up to two weeks prior. This year it has come up in passing, and while I still expect a parade to honor this wondrous event, I haven’t been hyping it as much as usual.

Maybe my “mellow out” age is 46? ::: laugh ::: I still want a parade though … that’s not wrong is it? … what?

For a little while now I have been humbled by how much the gay vs ex-gay (and vice-versa) debates had defined me. While in the ex-gay movement, I always knew that I had a life beyond that realm. Lately, the humbling part of actually living life beyond Exodus, is the realization of how some of the polarization found in that movement did define my identity. A bit shockingly, its influence on my vision for my personal future was much more than I realized, or cared to admit.

“LifeFlow” – The Journey Behind The Painting

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Martha and Mary

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:38-42

Late February, maybe early March, I went to the art store. I had created a few paintings over the holidays and absolutely loved the refuge/communion that activity provided. While creating them I kept thinking, “This is a life-giving and affirming activity. This is a major part of who God created me to be.” However, as I stood looking at the blank canvasses in the art store, I was focusing on the smaller canvasses. It occurred to me to not “settle” for limiting my artistic vision.

So, I just went all hog-wild and chose a 3×4 foot canvas!

Buying this giant of a canvas literally made my stomach nervously rumble as I took it up to the counter to purchase.

Perfectly Placed Dots

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Forgive the lighting quality. I took this photo on my iPhone. Click the image to bring up the image file. Then click on it again to see the full size.

Please forgive the lighting quality. I took these photos on my iPhone. Click the image to bring up a larger version. It’s not finished yet :)

I am going to share something personal. I am not going to apologize for it and I am not going to minimize it. If you think it is weird than so be it :).

When I hung my current painting (not quite yet finished) on the wall, stepped back about five feet, and looked at the light blue sphere filled with those dots … I literally burst into joyful tears. Another time that happened during this project was when I started adding the iridescent white dots streaming throughout the piece.

During the creative process I get lost in thought and enjoy the flow. As I placed each of the white dots, I had the thought, “these are like individual souls flowing through the world….”

Lessons From Lilly

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A few years ago I was working at home one day hoping to get some overdue tasks done.  Back then, I needed to get away from the office I worked in to really focus … I was hoping to do that on this particular day.

However, God wanted me around the house for a different reason. Getting my projects done wasn’t on God’s agenda, and plans quickly changed.

As soon as I sat down to my computer, my neighbor came over.  He and his wife have a cute little girl named Lilly.  Lilly was about 18 months old at the time.  I moved in next door to them right before she was born.  She was also  born two months early with a condition I can’t pronounce or even try to spell.  I had never heard of it before.  The condition severely attacks her muscles and bones.

Unfortunately Lilly broke her leg that week.  She had a huge cast for such a little leg.  That morning, her father was amusing her and as he picked her up … her cast fell off!

How does a cast fall off? And yet, there was Lilly’s Dad with her in one arm and holding the cast with the other hand.