Independence Day for the rebels

I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate July 4th for 38 years and watch fireworks shows all over the country. In fact, tonight I’ll be watching one in Missouri of all places. I’ve been to a show or two in Nashville, a couple in Ohio, quite a few in Florida, and up and down the east coast as I was growing up. I’m hoping today is a day that everyone around the country can set their political differences aside and simply celebrate. Firworks. Grilled burgers. Sparklers. Red, white, and blue.
Without the rebellious lovers of freedom hundreds of years ago, our country wouldn’t be as amazing as it is today. Before we are Democrats or Republicans, before we are Americans or immigrants, we are people. We are people who love freedom. We are people who believe in love and equality. It’s why the rest of the world wants to move here, and why some of the rest of the world hates us. But by golly, what an amazing country! One man can grow up to become a professional baseball player. One woman can grow up to run for president. There are teachers, and maintenance people, taxi drivers and Uber drivers, pastors, lawn mowing professionals, inventors and entrepeneurs, horse caretakers and zoo keepers. There are so many possibilities for everyone that calls themself an American and it’s all thanks to Independence Day.

So as you hoist your flags this morning, as you watch the fireworks explode in the night sky, be thankful for the rebels. The dreamers. The fighters. God bless America and I pray that our country unites again under God for the purpose of pursuing happiness with loving our neighbor as ourselves as our montra.

-Out of the Wilderness

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A week at summer camp: Part 1

It was the summer of 2000. I was between my junior and senior year of college and I was off to Missouri to be a videographer at a popular Christian sports camp in Lampe, Missouri. It’s called Kanakuk. DSC09261My sister had worked there in the mid-90s and my brother, too, in the late 90s/early 2000s. This was my first time experiencing Kanakuk Kamps, but not my last. I’d come back in 2001 and 2002, all three times working in video. After the last summer, I “settled down” in Tallahassee with a “real job” and began the life of a “young adult.” Life was all…fancy guyThen I moved to Nashville and life was all… brayI worked at CMT for 9 years, but then got laid off! the horrorSo basically I’ve had the entire summer to do whatever I want with the comfort of a generous severance package. Long story short, and because my brother was taking his son to Missouri for a week at Kanakuk, I tagged along to volunteer with my bro at a summer camp I hadn’t been to in almost 15 years! I was excited to go back, and really excited about the road trip I was about to take with my brother and nephew. DSC09183 DSC09184 DSC09188 DSC09190 DSC09191 DSC09193 DSC09194 DSC09197 DSC09198 DSC09200 DSC09202 DSC09203 DSC09206 DSC09208 DSC09211 DSC09214 DSC09215 DSC09217 DSC09226 DSC09228 DSC09231DSC09233 DSC09237 DSC09239 DSC09243

We made it to Missouri! The 7+ hour drive went by so fast. It was July 3rd so that’s why there were so many flags flying. Even these…DSC09260But anywho, politics aside, we were in Missouri and excited about it. Check back tomorrow for more!

-Out of the Wilderness

The Bachelorette Ashley, Episode 7: Ryan P. Talks About Water Heaters

After a July 4th holiday break, The Bachelorette show comes back with fireworks of it’s own. From a date that ended with the guy sent home to a surprise rose recipient, episode 7 offered a dose of romance, a splash of humor and a few heart-breaking moments with past contestant Emily Maynard.

Let’s start with the good stuff.

that's me with a mustache

Ok, now on to the drama. Ryan P. is the last remaining contestant who has never got a one-on-one date and he’s determined to get one this week. There are three single dates so he’s got a chance but the first date went to Constantine. They take a train ride. This’ll probably be recorded as the shortest date in Bachelorette history because if you blinked, the next guy you saw was Ben F. Ben’s date began with a scooter ride up a mountainside. Major points to Ben for his Dumb & Dumber reference. Did you catch it? Was it:

A. telling the story of a guy he once met named Sea Bass
B. talking about Samsonite luggage
C. singing, “Goodbye my loooooooooove!” then bumping into the car ahead of him
D. a reference to Harry and Lloyd riding the mo-ped together

I’ll give a rose to whoever gets the right answer. So Ashley’s date with Ben F. went on and on… and on… and on…. until night turned into day. Where I come from we call that a sleepover. This made the guys jealous, especially J.P. He pouted, didn’t talk to the guys and the little vein in his head popped out. His low spirits made the group date almost unbearable for the two other guys there, Ames and Lucas. Doesn’t it suck when you’re on a date with a girl and one of the other guys on the date has a bad attitude? Man, that’s never fun. But anyway, J.P. got the group date rose. I guess it’s true what they say, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Anyway, the last one-on-one date went to the joyous Ryan P.

Ryan: “Have I talked to you about water heaters?”

Not really. I got my pen and paper out, but son of a gun, right when he was gonna give advice on saving hot water and some money, they cut to an Ashley voice-over. Turns out water heaters aren’t the way to a woman’s heart, so Ashley sends Ryan home without a rose. My guess is that’s not the last we’ll see of Ryan P. Here’s a picture of my cousin Will getting married.

that's him standing by the bride

The last 20 minutes was dedicated to confirming what we knew two months ago. Brad and Emily are over. Minus five points for Emily’s reference to the catchphrase of the year, “dot, dot, dot…” Why must we somehow include Bentley in every episode? Although, “dot, dot, dot…” is a pretty fun thing to include in, what?
A. conversations

Yep, that’s the right answer. Ryan and Lucas were sent home without a rose. Roses went to J.P., Constantine, Ben F., and Ames. And my eBay package from China arrived torn and with nothing in it. Thanks a lot Postal Service.

"WE CARE"

The Three Star-Spangled Banner: Nashville

As our nation celebrates it’s independence on July 4th, I’m celebrating the city I love. Those that live here understand there’s something special about Nashville that makes us proud to live here.

With verse one and four of our National Anthem, here’s a tribute in pictures to the great city of Nashville, Tennessee.

sun setting over 2 Rivers Greenway.

a lone tree on the shore of Percy Priest Lake.

O say can you see, by the dawns early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight.

fans crowd together for 4th of July fireworks, downtown Nashville.

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

steps at one of the entrances to Percy Warner Park.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

flyover at LP Field.

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

hot air balloon floating over middle Tennessee.

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

a church in downtown Nashville.

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

statues downtown.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

*All photos were taken by Ben Wilder*