zoom zoom and a vroom vroom

Attending church since March has meant something totally different than it did…. well, anytime in history before March. A lot of congregations are utilizing the Zoom live meeting program, which is what my Sunday morning Bible study uses.

A typical Sunday for me is Bible study starting at 9am– oh wait, first I wake up at 855am– Bible study ends and I watch the church service live on YouTube.

I had only heard of this next type of church service on the news until my brother’s church held a successful service, drive-in movie theater style.

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Vroom vroom!

If you’re a church-goer, how has your church adapted to the situation? Chime in below and thanks for stopping by!

-Out of the Wilderness

 

Turtle power!

I was just minutes away from arriving at the ultimate 2020 spring break destination when an almost unthinkable thing almost happened… almost! Driving on a two-lane road I could see in the distance something in the middle of my lane. I’m sure you’ve seen this before: a turtle slowly crossing the road. After passing him, I slowed to a stop and ran back to assist him in his adventurous kamikaze-like mission.

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Photo by daniyal ghanavati on Pexels.com

Only one problem… an oncoming car. I was so sure the driver would see me standing on the side of the road, and therefore be attentive to what’s happening in front of them. Also, it’s important to note the speed limit on this road was 45, so this car was not going slow by any means. I could see the driver’s face. She wasn’t looking at me (that’s good, I guess) but she also was not showing a look of attentiveness. My gaze lowered to the car’s tires. Wouldn’t you know the turtle was in the exact WRONG spot, perfectly lined up in the path of this this vehicle of death!

BUT!!!!!

No exaggeration, at the very last second the driver became fully aware of what was about to happen, so she swerved sharply away from the turtle and onto the sandy shoulder of this coastal road. The thing is, now the car was coming for me! Was I willing to die so this turtle could live? I hadn’t thought that far ahead, to be honest.

Almost involuntarily I shifted into a 3-point stance like I was playing defense against Michael Jordan. I don’t know why my body did this, I guess it was just a response to the oncoming threat. In a split second I thought that whichever way the car went to avoid me (to my left or to my right) I would throw my body in the other direction. Think of a soccer goalie during a penalty kick, heaving their body towards the ball, except the exact opposite.

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Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

Now I saw panic on the driver’s face as she hurdled towards me. I guess I can be most thankful for the sandy shoulders on either side of the road because the car slowed down quite a bit as the driver and her passenger regained control and slowly drove by me on my left side. After they moved back onto the road to continue their drive, I ran out to grab the turtle, who certainly had a story to tell his other turtle friends that day.

As I set him in the nearby brush, folks in a convertible passed by and affirmed my good deed. I’m always happy to stop and help turtles in dangerous situations, and this one could have been traumatic in about 27 different ways! I’m so glad it wasn’t.

-Out of the Wilderness

Epic Spring Break in Florida

There was no alcohol, no drugs, no late night parties– actually, I take that back, there were a few late nights but for this spring break, it was all about family! I took my self-quarantining to the gulf shores of Florida where my nieces and nephew were spending their spring break.

This timely family reunion was so fun. Let’s see if I can remember all the things we did: spike ball, boat trips, tubing, wakeboarding, collecting shells, found a sea horse (more on that soon), naps, dog walks, morning beach jogs, volleyball, knockout, one on one basketball with my brother, races, fixing lights, food, more food, golf cart rides, tennis, movies, black jack, war (card game, see below), bonfires, s’mores, One Night werewolf game, sushi (thanks brother in law!), work (thanks Zac, Kelly, Anderson Design Group, Steve, and Electronic Express!), watching an eagle fly, dolphins, stingrays, fish, seagulls, paddleboarding… phew, I think that was it.

Oh, and my sister’s family got a puppy. So it was kind of a boring week ūüėČ

I’m awake, but I think deep down I’m still napping.

-Out of the Wilderness

 

Nashville to Graceland, part 1

“Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old things they are not forgotten
Look away, look away, look away Dixieland…”
(An American Trilogy – Elvis Presley)

Yes, the series of upcoming posts is about a family trip to Memphis, Tennessee to visit the famed home of the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, but it begins at my home. Well, actually it begins in Tallahassee, Florida because that’s where part of my family departed ¬†when they saddled up to head north to Nashville, Tennessee. I could write a lot, I really could, but to save you some time…. I’ll sum up their 9 hr trip by saying this: they left Tallahassee and next, they arrived in Nashville… much to my joy and excitement! That was Thursday. Early Friday morning we packed up and headed west to Memphis. Take a look at the first part of our trip in these pictures…

Morning fog over a river…¬†IMG_20191018_072031

My dad, the Captain, driving us to Memphis (mom and sister in the back seats sleeping)…
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Nearing Graceland…
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Even closer to Graceland than we were in the last picture…
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Entering the museum across the street from the Graceland mansion…
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Welcome to Graceland!
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Part of the intro video before shuttling over to the mansion…¬†IMG_1913

Check back tomorrow for more from this spectacular family trip!
UDPATE: here’s part 2

-Out of the Wilderness

My 2017 Nissan Versa Note – every mile a memory!

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I’m not one to be obsessed with what kind of car I’m driving. Nor am I a “car guy.” I have changed oil, swapped out filters and such, but none of the crazy stuff folks who love cars are into. In fact, my heart leaped at the lyrics of Switchfoot’s “Gone”…

We got information in the information age
But do we know what life is
Outside of our convenient Lexus cages

I have loved those lyrics since the day I first heard them. But that’s neither here nor there. You may think it’s odd I’m posting a blog about my Nissan. Well, I’m odd… so sue me! Actually, don’t. Please don’t!

So why do I love my Versa? Well, it looks good, it runs good, it’s got room for me and my dogs, and it’s my second Versa after my first cleared 200k miles a few years ago. That one was a champ before it went on to new owners. This one is also my first hatchback and I love that about it. The 2008 Versa I had was sedan style, and it was good too, but I find myself enjoying the heck out of the hatchback. Great gas mileage, quiet engine, decent sounding speakers. It’s just a fun car!

Here are a few milestones we’ve crossed in our brief relationship so far…

mile 19… drove off the lot of Hays Nissan of Rivergate, Nashville, TN

mile 37… first song played in the Versa: “Start Over” by Roger Jaeger

mile 234… ran windshield wipers for the first time

mile 3,038… stepped out of the car, dropped my phone and shattered the screen (RIP Motorola Droid Maxx!)

mile 4,280… drove to my friends Kirk and Melody’s wedding in Beechgrove, TN


mile 14,116… drove to Florida to help with Hurricane Michael cleanup

mile 27,395… met up with Jonathan Mills to hand him the 2018 Fantasy Football trophy

There are a ton of things that happened between those mile markers, but those are a few memorable moments. If you have a Nissan Versa, enjoy it! And if you’re considering adding a Versa to your fleet, do it!

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-Out of the Wilderness

Cheers to a new year!

I’m walking around in a robe, I’ve taken back-to-back baths in back-to-back days, and I have a cold. That can only mean one thing…

I’m back in Nashville after a busy, yet terrific, holiday vacation in Florida!

Like this cat, I’ve pretty much quarantined myself indoors to rest, recuperate, and catch up on Netflix. A couple of so-so movies? Done (Bright and Pottersville). Fuller House? Done. Riverdale? Working on it.

While I’ve been wasting away on the couch–¬†not reaching my goal of 160 miles in 60 days, tissue within arms reach, cup of apple juice on the table tray, covered in 37 blankets– the thought dawned on me that I seem to get sick every time I come back from Florida. So is it that I’m allergic to Tennesseee, or do I just wear out my body in Florida because who else is going to beat my nieces at croquet, lose to my brothers football team on the beach, brag way too much on the driveway playing knock-out, or help build a gigantic sandcastle?

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So now I pay for it. But there’s something else I sometimes catch when I’m down visiting family in Tallahassee. Nostalgia. This trip I got a big dose when we dug up a few VHS tapes from the 80s and 90s. Long story short, we’ve been looking for a couple of specific events that were recorded but haven’t been seen in years. While we were looking through tapes one day, we found video of our entire family¬†taking part in a live nativity scene. My dad was Joseph, Mary was one of my sisters, and my mom was a wise man. Not sure how those parts got divied up, but whatever. I was a shepherd, along with my oldest sister and my brother.

We also found video¬†one of my sister’s high school track meets, and another tape had both sisters’ “after prom” party. If you’ve ever wondered how teenagers danced in the 90s, wonder no more.


I think one of those dancers would be reported for sexual harassment in today’s world, but I’m not saying who *cough, cough, white guy doing pelvic thrusts*

Since returning to Nashville, I’ve been going through VHS tapes I brought back with me. I’ve seen clips from my family that I haven’t seen in decades. It’s definitely put me in a nostalgic mood. I also am fortunate that my birthday is late December, so the past couple of days have included thoughts about what I want next year and my next year, to look like. Watching these old videos helps me to reflect on the almost 4 decades I’ve been on the planet, and what direction I want my life to go in the next 4 decades. Of course, I also stumbled across this: me playing the trumpet next to my best middle school friend, JR:


Dang, I wish I’d held on to that trumpet!

My goals for 2018 are pretty simple, but if I can accomplish them, that’ll be a big step in a great direction.

Give more. Serve more.

I know it sounds a bit vague but this theme encompasses my time, my money, my attitude, and my heart. So when opportunities arise to give or serve, whether it’s helping a neighbor, serving at church or in the community, I want to say yes when I’m able to.

As for me in this moment, I’m taking my robe, my apple juice, and I’m turning on Riverdale. Good day to you, and have a happy 2018!

-Out of the Wilderness

Surviving Hurricane Andrew: 25 yrs ago today

It was one of the scariest nights of my life. The house was shaking. Water pouring in. Trees blowing sideways like they were Lincoln Logs. Huddled under a mattress not knowing how this would end. But as frightening as it was in the wee hours of Monday morning, just a day earlier couldn’t have been more different.

Put on your tie, it’s time for church.

We were new to Miami, having moved there from Stafford, Virginia only a couple weeks prior to this particular Sunday. So what does a church-going family do when they arrive to a new town? They try out churches, of course. We dressed up in our Sunday best, only this time we arrived to a church with no people. We soon found out the church was “closed” because of the approaching hurricane. Closed on a Sunday!? What is this, Chic-Fil-A? What’s going on here? Weird, I thought. But no church? Hot diggity dog!

I know, it’s terrible that I was excited about that.

Sunday afternoon went pretty normal. A few hundred feet from our house on the Coast Guard base in Miami, Florida, my brother and I and our new friend John played tennis. A mild breeze, partly cloudy. A beautiful August Sunday. All the schools were about to begin the new year, including where my brother and I were brand new students, a private institution called Westminster Christian School.

The weather people got it wrong.

The weather people down here must be crazy. I mean, it’s a beautiful day and they keep talking about a huge storm coming. Have they looked outside? There can’t be a hurricane coming, I thought. How bad can it be, I thought.¬†Little did I know they were not wrong, they were not crazy. They were very right about the dangerous weather that was about to hit south Florida.

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Evening came and still all was calm. At home that night was myself, my brother, my mother, and our dog Belle, the wonder dog. My two sisters were about 8 hours north in Tallahassee because one was starting her freshman year of college and the other was on a mini vacation. My dad, a captain in the United States Coast Guard, was called in to head up a search and rescue team, preparing for action once the storm hit, and for the aftermath. They were based in an underground shelter at the Cape Canaveral shuttle center. Check out some of his storm recollection here.


Predictions had the storm making landfall in the middle of the night, so we went to bed not really knowing what to expect at our house.

Boom.

The storm hit somewhere around 2 or 3am and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. My brother, mother, and I gathered with Belle and were shocked at what we were witnessing. It was pitch black outside, but what we could see were trees flying by our sliding glass doors. Sideways rain and wind blowing so fast. Our screened-in porch, well, we didn’t see that because it was gone. OK, at this point I’m starting to believe the little weather thing they’ve been talking about might be serious. We had the radio on, listening to Bryan Norcross.
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Based on his expert advice for surviving a hurricane like this, we all climbed into the bathtub and tried to hold a mattress over us. Then we moved to the hallway and laid down side by side, three-wide. I was laying with my left side pressed up against the wall, and I kid you not, the entire wall was rumbling, moving side to side, the power of the storm shaking the entire house. We had the mattress above us, also trying desperately to keep hold of Belle, by her collar. She was obviously spooked by the weather, and kept pulling away from us. Eventually we let her go and she found safety under a chest cabinet in one of the bedrooms.

Then we felt wind blowing. Never good when you’re inside a house. And remember, it’s the middle of the night so it’s really hard to see anything. Was the roof coming off? Was the house about to be blown away? I had no idea.

Thankfully things calmed down, the radio advising to stay alert, though, because this was just the eye of the storm. In other words, we were only halfway through.

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Storm damage in the area from Hurricane Andrew

We were ready to hunker down again after a quick assessment of the damage. There was a hole in the roof, a hole in the kitchen wall. Water on the kitchen floor. The porch blown away. Backyard fence missing in action. Then the good news… we weren’t in the eye of the storm, the storm was over! As it turns out the Coast Guard base was just outside the path of the eye, so there was so much damage to homes and buildings basically next door to the base.¬†I became very thankful for government housing, our home being built well enough to withstand this historic hurricane.

The next day we began cleanup around the base and also began wondering about how we would get food and water. Well, remember how my dad was preparing for the worst? The Coast Guardsmen showed up with water buffalo trucks so we could all have clean water to drink. Truckloads of Gatorade. Canned food like tuna and spaghetti o’s.

They were heroes to all of us.

Hi there, don’t worry about unpacking, your stuff is about to be blown around town. -Andrew

All in all, it was an unique and peculiar way to be welcomed to Miami. And on top of that, school was supposed¬†to start that week! It didn’t. Public school started a couple weeks later, and at Westminster, it took a full 6 weeks to get things back in order. So I guess, as a middle schooler, that can be seen as a silver lining?

-Out of the Wilderness