Things I didn’t know were going to be really awesome

This is… American Idol. 
I was working at a camp with no TV, no news, basically cut off from the outside world. So when I returned to civilization, I didn’t know how big American Idol was that first season. As you know, it went on to be an extremely successful reality/singing show.

Little rascals with big voices.
It was somewhere around 2001 and I had a friend I worked with that loved country music. Well, I didn’t really know that till she said one day that she loved a band called “Rascal Flatts.” I had no idea who they were. I still vividly remember wondering who this band was. Fast forward and well, they’re one of the biggest country bands ever. I was definitely late to the party on that one! But they’re such nice guys and hey, one of their wives was even kind enough to promote my book (scroll down to ‘reviews’ on this link), so how could I not be a big fan!

Can you hear me now?
I remember when I first heard of Verizon. I was determined to pronounce it “Vare ih ZON” because I was annoyed at how close Verizon was to “horizon.” I didn’t know their company name was a combination of veritas and horizon. My commitment didn’t last long since everyone else was saying it the way it was supposed to be said. Anywho, they’ve been my carrier since the mid-2000s and I don’t think I’ve ever regretted it!

Swamp People Work GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Great, I’ll see you at 4am.
The term “Free-lance work” was about as foreign to me as Zimbabwe before I moved to Nashville. I mean, I’d heard of it but didn’t really know much about it, except that as a newbie in video/TV production, it was intimidating. But after working here for a few years, the term became as common to my life as breathing.

What? Our whole history is in this house. You can’t just sell it out from under us and act like it’s not a big decision. -Crosby
I thought, what’s the big deal, ya know? It’s a TV show. It’s about a family. OK, that’s been done before. But whoa, was I wrong. One of the best, if not the best show I’ve ever seen. From the topics, to the humor, the soundtrack, it’s so good. Now when I hear someone mention the show, I don’t snort a snarky reply. My eyes widen and I smile!

You spin me right round, baby, right round.
A couple of neighborhood kids came over to the fence to pet Piper and Asia. One of them had this little trinket. I asked and he said it was a “fidget spinner.” I thought, “Hmm, that’s a clever little toy. I wonder if anyone else has seen these things.” I think you know the answer to that. I can’t remember the last time something blazed through the country like fidget spinners did. Maybe beenie babies?

Let’s go! 
The latest addition to my list of things I’ve never heard of till they’re already everywhere is “Dude Perfect.” If you haven’t seen them yet, check out any of their crazy trick shot videos (like the one above featuring fidget spinners) or their stereotype videos and you’ll be hooked. They’re so good, some folks think it’s all set up.

What are a few things you hadn’t heard of till the explosion already happened?

-Out of the Wilderness

My Beef With Christmas Music as Heard on Christian Radio

Since I was a little guy, I’ve loved Christmas music. From “Joy to the World” to “Christmas Canon” to “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” all of it reminds of why I love this time of year. Well, not because someone’s grandma got run over by a reindeer, mine certainly didn’t, but you know what I mean… being with family, creating memories, and of course, the history-altering birth of Jesus.

manger1What really gets my goat this season is the Christmas music I’m hearing on Christian radio. Here’s what happens… I’m driving down the road flipping through the stations. I hear “Joy to the World” which is my all-time favorite Christmas song. So of course I’m going to turn it up and sing along. Verse 1… awesome. Verse 2… awesome. Then as soon as I gracefully begin singing verse 3, I’m cut off by… what’s this? Different lyrics? And the melody doesn’t even sound the same! Now instead of singing about joy to the world, I’m asking “What in the world?”

I understand since American Idol came around, it’s popular to “make it your own.” I get that and for the most part, I like the idea. I still remember hearing Phillip Phillips’ version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was amazing. Or David Cook’s heartfelt rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” Plus, who can forget Adam Lambert singing “Ring of Fire”? I loved all of those. But when it comes to this issue I have with some Christmas songs, well, it’s a genre of music you don’t really need to change. It’s what the American Idol judges would say about a Whitney Houston song. Just sing it well. That’s all.

scene from A Christmas Story
scene from A Christmas Story

It’s like these artists took your favorite Christmas sweater, sewed in their initials, and now they’re selling it on Etsy. Or if I were to repackage everyone’s favorite movie “A Christmas Story” with an added scene I shot myself because, well, I wanted to call it my own. Then I sell it on eBay as the “extended version.” The most recent example I’ve heard this season is a song called “Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy).” Let’s not even get into the confusing conflict of a song with lyrics about something that’s unspeakable. That’s not the point. The point is they damaged a perfectly good sweater.

A wise man once said that if a person comes to him with a problem, they should also come with a solution. So I’ll take his advice. The solution to this problem is simple. Sing the songs as they were meant to be sung. Or come up with something original. I know it’s tough to come up with a timeless Christmas song… nearly impossible. But artists should try. Mariah Carey did it with “All I Want For Christmas.” Another instant classic was written by a comedian, “Mary, Did You Know?”

There’s more that can be said about this whole “repackaging” thought, especially in Christian music. But instead of repackaging that conversation, this site hits the bull’s-eye.

Merry Christmas!
-Out of the Wilderness

Things I Wouldn’t Have Believed A Year Ago

If you told me a year ago that I’d be making more money than New England tight end Aaron Hernandez the last half of 2013.

I’d visit a doctor and a dentist on two consecutive days.

Last summer we saw dolphins jumping in the boat wake and I told my nephew it was a once in a lifetime experience. Then this summer, we saw this. What the heck do I know?

Northwest was no longer just a direction. #poorbaby

Sharknado. Enough said.

That a few weeks ago, I’d toss the signature I got from Alex Rodriguez after chapel at Westminster Christian School in 8th grade, in the trash.

That the Dolphins would now have the lamest logo EVER. C’mon, guys! I’ve been a lifelong fan but I think now it’s reached an expiration date. #GoTitans

That American Idol hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. It’s over, let it go peacefully into the night.

That interns all over the country were born while Bill Clinton was in office. Wasn’t that like a few years ago??

Miracles, What Are They Anyway?

After barely making the playoffs, your favorite hockey team wins the Stanley Cup. Not a miracle.

Speeding down the highway in the pouring rain, just missing the jack-knifed semi-truck trailer. Not a miracle.

A man turning water into wine. Miracle.

The word miracle is far too often associated with something that is simply not miraculous. It’s a word that is overused, like a standing ovation during American Idol performances. When the audience stands and cheers after every performance, the honor of a standing ovation is lost. If a miracle is God acting in a situation, then anything that happens naturally is not a miracle. Take the stories from the Bible: Jesus turning water into wine, Moses parting the Red Sea, Lazarus coming out of the grave… these are miracles. Water never turns into wine. The Red Sea never splits in two. Death has never released it’s grip on anyone (up to that point). I’m sorry, the last I checked, a baby being born is not a miracle. Why? Because reproduction is the way humans were designed. It’s what is supposed to happen. It’s natural. It seems miracles occur in specific instances for specific reasons, mostly to make people aware of God’s presence. While there are plenty of other ways to see God- in nature, in people, in the birth of a baby- miracles are extremely rare, and extremely unnatural. The exciting part is when you do witness a true miracle, I have a feeling you won’t be able to keep from giving God a standing ovation. Or at least tweeting about it.