Stranger Blog Posts

Once again, I’m hooked.

I’m feeling nostalgic all over again and wishing it was really 1984, so I could head over to an arcade for an afternoon or maybe hit up the mall for some good tunes at an actual music store.

Season 2 has definitely got me anxious. I’m trying to figure out the good guys from the bad guys (with the bad guys tending to be authoritarian in nature for the most part). I’m also trying (and failing) to figure out how the storyline will play out.

I love wi-fi and smart phones and hi-def, but part of me would gladly give all that up to be 12-years old again with those days where I didn’t have adult responsibilities and my future had endless possibilities.

I sometimes think it’d be the coolest thing ever to have a time machine or some other means to travel back in time, if only for a day or so. I could visit with relatives who have passed away or go to my childhood home and wander around. Maybe just sit and soak it all in.

The reality is that for better or for worse, I’m stuck in 2017. Even if I could lay my hands on one of those Deloreans, I can’t go back.

But you know what? Here’s good. The present is a gift because I’m alive to open all its endless possibilities. I may have a job and bills and boring adult stuff, but that means that I survived and that I’m still here, a privilege not everyone gets.

So I’m thankful for this day, October 30, 2017. And I have three more episodes of Stranger Things Season Two to get my nostalgic kicks in and live vicariously back in 1984 again.

On a side note, I’d have a really hard time giving up Netflix to go back in time.


Wednesday Wisdom

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God ’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this” (Proverbs 3:5-12, The Message)

It turned out to be a nostalgic kind of day for me. I had an old Bourgeois Tagg song from 1987 stuck in my head all day. Here’s the link to the song if you’re not familiar with the name of the artists. They weren’t exactly household names back in the day, but they made at least one fantastic song.

I also made the trip back in to the land of The Upside Down by revisiting Stranger Things Season 1. At least the first episode. I still get the same warm fuzzy nostalgic feeling that I did the first time. I also want to head over to the mall for Cinnabons and some CDs from Camelot music. It’s available for streaming on Netflix with a new season just around the corner.

I think I get nostalgic for the 80’s because life was much easier then (as it should be when you’re a kid). I recognize that I can’t go back, but I have to live today in the place where God has planted me.

As always, I recognize that I’m very much in need of wisdom. Yet at the same time, I seem to forget most of the time that for me to gain wisdom, all God asks of me is for me to ask for it. Not in a half-hearted, one-time prayer, but in an everyday, persistent, keep-asking-keep-knocking, as-if-my-very-life-depended-on-it kind of prayer.

Lord, grant your children wisdom to be able to navigate this life and live out the hope you promised so that others become envious of that hope we have and want to know more about it.


More Magic Movie Moments from the 80’s

I finally got around to this 80’s classic. It only took 30 years, but I found this little gem on Netflix and decided to take a break from Sons of Anarchy for a trip down Nostalgia Lane.

The movie features a young Patrick Dempsey, better known to most people these days from his role on Grey’s Anatomy, and Amanda Peterson, who sadly passed away in 2015. It also stars the red-headed kid from The Burbs, but in a much less creepy role.

What I expected was a bit of light romantic comedy fluff done 80’s style. What I got was a lot deeper and more meaningful treatise about the price of popularity versus the ultimate freedom in being true to yourself.

The movies I like and tend to gravitate toward are movies I can relate to, and I could certainly relate to this one. Patrick’s character starts off as a bit of a nerd, buys his way into popularity, loses himself, and eventually . . . well, I’m not big on spoiler alerts, so you’ll have to find it on Netflix to find out what happens.

There’s something magical about a good 80’s movie. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know that it’s missing from most of the newer movies I’ve seen. Maybe it’s that 80’s movies have a kind of fantastical quality that, if not completely realistic and believable, is fun to visit for a while.

I just may be forced to break down and buy this one on blu ray to add to my already ridiculous movie collection.


Merry Christmas Adam

Everyone knows that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. But does everyone also know that today is Christmas Adam, which precedes Christmas Eve. Celebrate in style with a McRib at McDonald’s!

Actually, all those dreams I’ve had of a white Christmas this year are being replaced by the reality of thunderstorms and tornado watches. In this case, the line “Hail, the Son of Righteousness” is quite literally coming true in some places with actual hail.

I’m hoping and praying that all my Nashville friends out there are safe and sound in the midst of tornado warnings.

I’m also praying that in the midst of the shopping frenzy, people will remember that what counts most aren’t the gifts under the tree as much as the Gift lying in a manger.

I confess that for me it’s a time to watch all the classic movies like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and White Christmas and to listen to my vast collection of Christmas music.

Still, it’s also a time for me to reflect and remember the birth that changed history as we know it. There would be no Golgotha and no Resurrection without a Bethlehem. There could be no Risen Savior with Scarred Hands and Feet with out a Child Wrapped in Swaddling Cloths and Lying in a Manger.

Maybe I’m like a broken record when it comes to Christmas, but I don’t care. I do love Christmas. Yes, for the nostalgia and warm fuzzies, but also for the way in which the impossible became glorious reality in the form of Emmanuel, God with us.

So be sure to have all your presents bought and wrapped. Have plenty of eggnog and cheer. But don’t forget to leave room on your schedule and in your heart for the babe born to be a sacrifice for you and me.

And God bless us, everyone!


Motownphilly Back Again

I don’t know about you, but there are certain songs and albums that take me back to a specific time and place.

For me, one example is Boyz II Men’s Motownphilly, which takes me back to my freshman year at the Deusner 7 (or maybe it was 5) dorm room at Union University in the fine city of Jackson, Tennessee, where (I might add) you can’t go 50 feet without running into either a college or a church.

I’m not the world’s biggest hip-hop fan as a general rule. Not that I have anything against that genre. I just never really have gotten into it.

But there’s something about hearing songs like “End of the Road” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” that make me nostalgic.

Sadly, that dorm building is no longer there. It got taken out by the tornadoes that swept through the campus back in 2008. In fact, the last time I was there, I didn’t recognize most of the campus (or the people).

I do remember the first time I set foot on the campus of Union, it was like God was telling me, “This is where I want you. This is your place for the next four years.” It felt like home and the peace I felt was undeniable.

There were some scary and stressful moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to stay due to finances, but thanks to Stafford loans I managed to graduate four years later.

I made some great friends and great memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Sometimes, I think I’d like to get together with some fellow Unionites and reminisce about those days and catch up with what everybody’s doing these days.

I think that should happen soon, preferably in the Nashville area. I might even bring my Boyz II Men CD with me.



It’s Summer Solstice Again

“It must have been the summer solstice
When I first gave my heart to You
The first day of a brand new season
In a fevered passion for Your simple truth
It was the longest I’d ever felt for anything
And it gave my soul a song to sing . . . .

And with the spring comes the thaw
Melting my heart reviving all
It comes full circle and then
It’s summer solstice again

So can You throw Your arms around me and walk me home
I’ve wandered off way too far for way too long
And standing broken in this wilderness of shame
I have found my only strength is in your name
Oh, Father please can You undo what I’ve done
And get me back to square one

Back to the summer solstice

Take me back

I wanna go back” (Wayne Kirkpatrick, recorded by Susan Ashton).

Yes, it is summer solstice again. It’s officially the longest day of the year in terms of having the most daylight.

This one was hot. As in even standing in the shade, I was still sweating like the pig that knows he’s about to be bacon.

It felt like I was standing in front of an oven, only there was no aroma of anything baking, except maybe me.

Summer always makes me nostalgic for days I can never get back. It makes me miss people I will never see again in this lifetime.

I’m thinking about all those Johnson family reunions we used to have where all the cousins would make the drive down to Christiana, Tennessee and bring buckets of fried chicken (along with a multitude of casseroles and other foods) and tell stories of yesteryear. I miss those.

It’s easy to want to look back when you can’t really see what’s ahead, to long for the past when the future seems uncertain and scary.

That’s where a lot of us are right now. We’re holding on to what we know, what we can feel with our hands and see with our eyes and make sense of with our minds. We cling to the tangible, even if it’s what’s holding us back from becoming what God destined us to become.

Maybe faith is letting go of  those things and reaching out into the unknown with only the assurance that God will be there.

I love what G. K. Chesterton said: “Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

So here’s to hope, which is possibly the best thing going right now.

Hope is a good thing.





Old Christmas Movies


One of the reasons I love this time of year (and there are many) is that I get to pull out my epic collection of Christmas movies and watch all my favorites again. Especially the old ones (meaning those made before I was born).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of the more recent holiday flicks, too. I love Home Alone, Scrooged, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and even the 90’s remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

But my heart truly belongs to the classics.

It’s not Christmas without seeing old films like The Bells of St. Mary’s or The Bishop’s Wife. I can’t really get into the festive mood of the season until I’ve seen White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Not forgetting lesser-known (but equally classic) movies like Christmas in Connecticut, A Holiday Affair, Holiday Inn, Remember the Night, and A Christmas Carol (any of the older ones are good, but I recommend the 1951 Alistair Sims version).

Maybe I like all these old movies because Christmas makes me nostalgic. I start missing my childhood and the people that I loved that are now gone. I miss the unadulterated excitement that Christmas brought that made me unable to sleep on Christmas Eve.

I know that the proper etiquette is to wait until Thanksgiving to start watching Christmas movies, but I say to that, “Balderdash!” I’m not waiting. Besides, that’s probably not even a real rule, just something I made up.

What old Christmas movies do you watch every year? And by old, I mean pre-1970. I discovered a couple of gems last year for the first time in Come to the Stable and It Happened on 5th Avenue, and I’m always looking for a good holiday classic.

So send me your recommendations. Email me at or find me on facebook or send up smoke signals. Whatever works for you. Just let me know, ’cause enquiring minds want to know.