Where do I start? How can I begin to tell my story?
I’ve told a few people that Becca, my older daughter made a website for me with the idea that I would start a blog. Well, she made it, and she came over to show me what to do with it.
I ran a Reflections column that first day, just to have something. But I’ve always intended to start with something new.
I wrote something on Aug. 23, 2020. But I decided I didn’t want it to be my first post.
And I’ve continued to ponder how to get started.
“Tell your story,” was the reply I heard from Becca, and others.
So here it is.
I started out as a small child.
But then I realized that was the name of Bill Cosby’s second record album.
Actually, his albumwas called, “I started out as a child.”
So maybe it isn’t plagiarism, because I added small child.
Let me start at the beginning.
Looking back, my beginning began during the fall term in 1971. My life didn’t begin in 1971. I was born in 1953 and I was already 18. But an event took place that impacted the rest of my life.
I was enrolled at the University of South Florida. After unloading my stuff and my folks dropped me off at Fontana Hall on the north side of Fletcher Avenue. It was one of two 13-story off-campus dormitories at the school.
I was too late to get an on-campus housing. Fontana Hall was more expensive than on-campus housing but was probably better than me getting an apartment.
So, I got my room and after eating dinner with my folks I was alone in my room. It was still light out and I decided to do something I did a lot back in those days, I looked for a game of basketball. I went to the campus gym and got into a couple of games. I don’t know how many. I didn’t make any friends that night, either.
The impacting moment hadn’t yet it, though I know something was weighing heavily on my mom’s mind.
You see, back in 1971, Fontana Hall had open visitation. With the exception of one boy’s and one girl’s floor, it was open visitation by the opposite sex 24-hours a day.
I wasn’t expecting that.
Nor did my mom.
But after a night to sleep on it my mom decided she didn’t want me available to the opposite sex 24-hours a day.
So when we saw each the next morning my mom asked if I would consider moving into the non-visitation boy’s floor.
I think I could have blocked my mother’s move, but I'd never met my roommate that night. And I was feeling lonely, very lonely.
So, I agreed to change rooms and go to the non-visitation boy’s floor.
You have to understand that even though it was 1971, open visitation was ahead of it’s time.
But not at Fontana and DeSoto halls. There were 26 floors. But only two floors, one for boys, and one for girls, were non-visitation.
So my room was on the second floor of DeSoto Hall.
The floor had room for 64 students.
My floor only had 13.
Thirteen boys. Not sure how many were in the girl’s floor but it wasn’t much more.
If my roommate had been there night it might have been another story. But I spent the night alone.
I was one of seven kids so I never really spent the night alone.
well, except that summer. My folks had purchased a home in Florida, but I already had a job at a Shop-Rite grocery store in Brielle, New Jersey. So I was able to stay in New Jersey that summer. Without my folks. Without much supervision. My big brother Bob and his wife Elaine would stop by, but i had free reign.
I also had my first girlfriend that summer.
Suffice it to say I was very naïve. Well, maybe not very naïve. But pretty naïve. Almost very naive. I spent a lot of time together with my girlfriend. Almost every day. So, while I was naïve I wasn't lonely. Or alone.
But I was my alone my first night at USF.
And when my mom proposed the change, I wouldn’t say I was all for it. But I didn’t oppose either. I’m not sure when I met my new roommate but I’d already changed rooms once, I wasn’t about to do it again.
Do you ever think about little, insignificant things that might have changed your life?
This was one of those moments.
But it really didn’t take effect until my junior year.
And I go into that during another blog.
About 15 years ago my kids and their friends were trying to decide what type of dog would Jesus have had as a pet? First they thought a Golden Retriever would have been Jesus’ canine companion. Later they agreed it would be something small and defenseless, maybe like a Chihuahua or my diminutive Dachshund at the time, Bailey.
Upon further reflection I decide our other dog at the time, Rufus, was the dog Jesus would have picked. You see, Rufus is a mutt. A nondescript, Heinz 57 Variety type of a dog.
He’s definitely not a pedigree, like Bailey, though Bailey was supposed to be a Miniature Dachshund. Weighing in at 18 or so pounds he was definitely not miniature. We never had luck with miniatures. Rusty, our second Dachshund was also supposed to be miniature. He wasn’t and tipped the scales at 17 or 18 pounds.
We didn’t know what breed of dog Rufus was, nor did our vet. But we figured he was some sort of hound.
We got Rufus at the Lake County Humane Society about 1994 or ‘95. It was guesstimated that Rufus, which was his name when we found him, was about 4 months old. It was Rufus’s name which saved him because Rufus was my nickname in college. Anytime the girls got a stuffed animal I would say to name him Rufus. They just said, “Dadddd.”
We were told he probably wouldn’t get much larger – which was very wrong. Back then he was probably 30 pounds max. Eventually he tipped the scales at 95 or more pounds. And he hit triple digits on more than one occasion.
Rufus is very definitely a mutt.
But he was a loyal mutt. And he was also pretty smart.
I can hide a treat in one of my hands and Rufus would swat at it with his paw. He was right at least half of the time. Actually, his record was far better than one out of two.
Rufus also tried to please, although as he got older he practiced selective deafness. Rufus also smelt bad and he shed a ton of hair. Yet, I believe Rufus is the type of dog that Jesus would pick.
And I’m glad, because if I were a dog, I’d be a Rufus.
There’s no pedigree in me. And sometimes I’m overweight and smell bad, though I have kept most of my hair.
But there’s nothing extraordinary about me. I have nothing special in my breeding—only Jesus.
Those are the type of guys Jesus chose to turn the world upside down.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him,” wrote Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31. “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”
Jesus can also use pedigrees. That’s what Paul was. Among the Jews. He was a Pharisee and held to the Law faultlessly.
But it wasn’t until Paul put his pedigree behind him that God could use him.
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God,” he wrote in the next chapter. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Sometimes, I think we get too far away from Jesus’ simple plan. We put far too much stock in pedigree papers and titles—titles we don’t find anywhere in the Bible.
And we hinder the cause of Christ because we try to pick the wise and the strong.
What type of dog would Jesus have picked?
That’s simple—a simple dog. The same type of men he called his disciples.
And thank God for that.
Author and historian Rick Reed has been writing about Florida's Lake and Sumter counties since 1991 in The Daily Commercial, The Lake Sentinel and Lake Magazine. His Reminisce column, which looks at local history in Lake and Sumter counties has appeared in The Daily Commercial since 1998. He served as the City curator of the Leesburg Historical Museum from 2003 to 2008 and wrote the Sesquicentennial History of Leesburg in 2008, a 240-plus page book of Leesburg’s history.