In the name of love…

I heard a saying recently: “Days go by slow but weeks go by fast.” How true that’s been for me in the last 15 to 20 days. It seems like yesterday I was watching deer in a neighborhood yard…

…and that’s already been 4 weeks ago! Since then I’ve been around the southeast from Birmingham to Tallahassee, Memphis, Branson, Montgomery, Nashville, and lots of little towns in between.

In the name of love.

On the way to Missouri we stopped at the Civil Rights Museum, the site where MLK gave his life for freedom and love.

img_20170630_190243420.jpg

My brother and two of his kids at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee.

Then we went on to Missouri, where my brother and I could do our part to serve in the name of love.

In Branson (actually it was Lampe, Missouri), we volunteered at a camp where we worked when we were in college. I’m sure I’ll post more about our time there but for now I’ll say it was a really great, exhausting, learning, fun week with him. We did a lot of manual labor type work, lifted weights, ran a 5k every day for 5 days, played whiffle ball homerun derby, and lots more. We got there on a Saturday. When my body felt like it had done all it could do, and I was ready to pack up and head out, “It’s been a great week, y’all!” I came to realize it was still Saturday. Dang. Long days, for sure!

Straight after that week was Wilder beach week back in Florida, at a little beach just south of Tallahassee called St. Teresa. This is the week all the Wilders meet up for a week of fun with 8 kids, 8 adults, and 3 dogs. Lots of love in this family!

Exhausting was this week, too, but mostly because we’re all having fun on my dad’s boat (tubing, skiing, dolphin watching, etc), playing soccer on the beach, knockout on the basketball court, volleyball on the beach, and other random fun things that don’t include flying a kite. More on that later!

I returned to Nashville two weeks after leaving. It was nice to sleep in my own bed again, to watch Leverage on Netflix again, to play sand volleyball with my friends again. But this trip was so great.


-Out of the Wilderness

Advertisements

All the jobs I’ve had with my brother

The other day I was thinking about how a lot of the jobs I’ve had are thanks to, and were right along side, members of my family. Probably because we’re both guys and only a year and a half apart, it was my brother that I worked with mostly. Going all the way
back to 4th grade, I remember helping him deliver newspapers when we lived in Fort Adams; military housing in Newport, Rhode Island.

Paper or plastic, ma’am?
wdMy first real job, though, was bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie in Miami, Florida… once the area recovered from Hurricane Andrew, that is. Who was bagging there, too? Yep, my bro. The dynamic duo at your service! I have a few memories from this job. The one that stands out most was this lady that came through the line, you had to keep an eye on her, for sure. Even thinking about it now, all the fear I had in the moment rushes back. I think she just had some sort of mental disorder but here’s what she would do: grab something from a nearby shelf (like a candy bar next to the register), throw it on the ground and step on it. At one point, she had a loaf of bread in her hand. Tossed it down, stepped directly in the middle of it. I couldn’t believe it. She did this with a few other things, too. Weird stuff, man.

We gotta wake up at what time????
hardeesFast forward a couple of years and my brother and I were spending the summer in Monticello, Florida. Our dad was starting a new job in New York, so he went up early, before the rest of us moved there from Florida. My mom was spending time in Tallahassee with her parents. So there we were living with my dad’s parents in a house they built off of South Mulberry Street. Well, about a block away was a Hardee’s. We both got jobs making biscuits on the weekend. We only worked a couple days a week, but just knowing we had to wake up at 4am both days was enough to ruin the entire week. But it was pretty awesome to have grandparents that woke up with us, made us breakfast, and drove us the 1 block to get there. And our boss was funny, in a “does he think we’re curing cancer?” kind of way. One time a batch of biscuits came out overcooked. Lost the batch. Boss proceeded to punch the wall. Classic.

You’ve got to scalp ’em Seminoles!
Two years later we were both students at Florida State and he helped me get a job at the Leach Center, where he was already working. We both worked there for the remainder of our college careers. This job reinforced the importance of being on time. They didn’t have much tolerance for being late, I’ll say that! We both made a lot of good friends there, some we are still friends with today. And by the way, if you’re ever trying to use someone else’s ID to sneak in somewhere, at least make sure you kinda sorta possibly look like them! College kids, man, you’d think they’d be a little smarter 😉Leach New Inside

It’s where, now?
Another place we both worked was a summer camp in Lampe, Missouri. It’s called Kanakuk. I know, I know, I just said a few words you may not have heard before. But Lampe is about an hour south of Branson and Kanakuk is pronounced can-uh-cuck. An amazing place for kids to learn sports taught by college athletes and at the same time, grow in your relationship with God. No, I was not a college athlete. Unless you count being intramural champs, baaabbaaayyy! DSC09261My brother and I both count Kanakuk as a big influence on our lives, from the people we met and worked with there, to shaping our outlook on life and faith.

We’ve also worked together on various video projects over the years. One might be a workout video, another a sports highlight reel. Here’s one we made recently of his son, my nephew, playing football.

So I’ll finish by saying that of all the things my brother is great at (sports, public speaking, being a brother, friend, etc), he’s also been a great co-worker. And he’s got an amazing younger brother, too!

-Out of the Wilderness

 

 

I’ve loved you all over the world…

I first laid eyes on her in 2007. Great curves, light, and sporty. My Nissan Versa is nearing it’s 10th anniversary as my main squeeze when it comes to getting me from A to B, and I gotta say, what a ride it’s been! With her CVT and her auxiliary input and all 4 of her cylinders, she’s made zipping around the southeast something to write home about.

And although I’ve never literally written home about her, I did jot down some landmarks in the first year of our relationship. They honeymoon phase, if you will. Here ya go…

mile 10 got the keys.

mile 110 drove to Percy Priest Lake for wakeboarding and cliff jumping.

mile 340 bought the first tank of gas.

mile 655 returned home from a Nashville Sounds baseball game.

mile 684 sneezed in the car for the first time.

mile 747 returned home from a couple garage sales.

mile 1,623 trip to Cincinnati, OH to visit family.

mile 2,300 drove to corn maze in Whitehouse, TN.

mile 3,717 rock hits windshield, crack begins to spread.

mile 4,265 fighting to stay awake on 231 returning to Nashville from Tallahassee, FL.

mile 5,263 first oil change, location: Action Nissan in Nashville, TN.

That’s just a glimpse, but I’ve had a lot of good memories thanks to my car. She’s nearing 180,000 miles today. That’s probably 93 in car years! I know I won’t have her around for a whole lot longer so for now, this post is for you Black Pearl!

-Out of the Wilderness

All the places I’ve lived, and a favorite memory from each

coast-guardMy dad was in the Coast Guard, so that meant a lot of moving around. Before I was born, my family had already been up and down the east coast, and spent some time on the west coast, too. My oldest sister was born in Key West, next oldest sister was born in Monterey, CA and then my brother in Virginia. When it was my time, the family was back in Key West. I was there for a short time before we moved out west. Here’s the list!

born: Key west, FL (December 26, 1978)

Hawaii – I was just a little guy here, about a year old, so I have three memories: attending a luau, going into a building, and going under a bridge (or tunnel?) on the way to a beach. I guess the luau is my favorite because I remember looking across and seeing my baby sitter.

Hollywood, FL – Started my academic career here at Sheridan Hills Christian School. Favorite memory: Our family took a lot of boat trips. We went down to the keys, spent nights on the water, I got sea sick for the first time, and still, these trips are easily my favorite memory!

me as 4th grader 2St. Petersburg, FL –  Attended Maximo Elementary School for 2nd and 3rd grade. Favorite memory: At school I met a friend that made me laugh so hard all the time. To this day, I measure everyone else against him. He was so funny. One of my least favorite memories: My funny friend was not at school one day, then not there the next day or the next. A few days later, his mom came in and picked up his things. I never saw him again!

Newport, RI – This is where I attended 4th grade at Underwood Elementary. Favorite memory: touring all the mansions, like these.

the-breakers

The Breakers. 62,000 square feet! 

newport-mansions-43

Rough Point. 39,000 square feet and 105 rooms!

A tie for favorite: all the lamborginis. Not sure why there were so many, but it was somewhat common to see one driving around the city. And Saabs. Lots of Saabs.

2-me-and-whitney-williams.jpg

5th grade at Widewater.

Stafford, VA – I was a 5th grader at Widewater Elementary School then moved to Stafford Middle School for 6th and 7th grade. These are my favorite years from growing up. I made great friends that I still have today. One favorite memory: trick or treating on Halloween one of the years. Somehow a friend and I got separated from our group of friends, but he and I still went around to so many houses. That was a fun night! Also, our house was situated on a golf course so we’d go out there to play football, capture the flag, flashlight tag, and hmmm, maybe hit some golf balls. I also came up with a list of things that happened in middle school that absolutely would not happen in today’s world. Here’s a link to that:

[11 Things You Can’t Do In School Anymore]

Miami, FL – Westminster Christian School for 8th – 10th grade. Favorite memory: being on the JV basketball team. And it was in 10th grade I had my first kiss. I know, I was late to the party! 🙂

New York, NY – Curtis High School for half of 11th grade. Favorite memory: I got to see a taping of David Letterman. It was really fun. We lived on Governors Island, so it was nice to have a place with grass, and trees, unlike most of New York City back then! Also, riding a ferry past the Statue of Liberty every day on the way to school was pretty neat.

Tallahassee, FL – Finished 11th and 12th grade at Leon High School. My dad retired from the Coast Guard in 1996 so we moved back towards family in Florida. Favorite memory: this is getting difficult because with each place, I have more than one favorite! But to name a few, I’d say my aunt’s lemon squares, my grandfather driving 120mph in his Isuzu Trooper to get me to school, pb and j lunches at The Brown Bag Express, basketball with friends, and graduating from the same high school my mom graduated from.

Note: I stayed in Tallahassee for college, as well. I have so many great memories in those 4.5 years. Too many to pick one!

Nashville, TN – This is where I’ve lived since the mid-2000s. Also too many great memories to pick one at the moment. So I’ll go with the lame answer: My favorite memory of Nashville is all of them. 😉

-Out of the Wilderness

When death knocks at a neighbor’s door

It’s been over 10 years since I left Tallahassee, Florida to pursue a burning in my heart that brought me to Tennessee. My delight in video production started way back when I was a little kid but it really grabbed ahold of me in college. Soon after graduating, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a local church youth group and a lot of what I did with them was make videos. Each week I got to know the kids better and realized they were a pretty special group.

Well, in this group was a young girl, I think she was in middle school at the time. She had short, curly, blonde hair. I remember how much she smiled and was friends with a lot of other kids there. She had a spark and you could just see it, that she would be a spark in a lot of people’s lives. I didn’t know how, and I guess no one did at the time. At that age, and even the age of me and my friends who were also volunteering there, it’s hard to know exactly what mark we’ll leave on the world. We were all so young.

A few days ago this girl, now an adult, was killed. The moment I found out moved in slow motion. It’s not like I knew her anymore, but still, it was a total shock. No one ever wants to hear of someone dying way too young. She was 24, the reports say. Her death continues to weigh heavy on me. I can still barely believe it, and don’t want to.

The sad news has reminded me how precious life is. I sit in the back yard, letting the heaviness pin me to my camping chair. I think about all the little concerns I have that, if I knew I was about to die, those concerns would not even be the very last things I’d worry about. They’d be so far off the list. One of my dogs lays about 10 feet in front of me, next to her frisbee. My other dog’s inside, under the sheets napping. My family in Florida is probably at the soccer field, baseball field, or eating lunch, or a few of them jumping on the trampoline, or swimming in a pool. I blink my eyes as my mind goes deeper and deeper into thought about what really matters. My faith. My family. My friends. My neighbors.

Then more thoughts about what I’m doing that’s a waste of time. What I’m doing that I need to keep doing. What’s important? When it’s my time to go, what I’ll be most proud of. Least proud of. What I’ll regret. Will I have been a spark in the lives of those around me; my friends, my family, anyone I work with?

I’ve tried to express the current state of mind I’m in, but maybe this quote I’ve heard before is more appropriate, “When you don’t know what to say, sing.” This song by Greg Holden is what I’m singing along to…

A few days have passed since her death. Clicking over to her Facebook page I’m reading comments on her wall, all confirming the spark she was to so many people. Because of Shannan, I’m not taking today for granted. I’m soaking in the sun and sights of kayaking downtown Nashville, and thinking of Shannan.

Hope you’re still a bright shining spark in Heaven.

-BW

The year 1997: putting the O in pOpular

The year was 1997. I was a pale, skinny, timid high schooler walking the halls as a senior at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. This city was different than what I was used to. Students drove big trucks with big Mickey Thompson tires.mickeythompson
In Miami, where I spent most of high school, the smaller the tires, the better.
Hooptie1Both were absurdly extreme. And possibly extremely absurd. But as a teen in Tallahassee, a must-have car accessory whether you rolled on mud tires or more efficient, less noisy stock tires was the O.
oakley sticker

It was practically your parking permit at Leon. Having mud tires and this sticker earned you triple bonus points and a spot on the football team.

20 years later I don’t see any Mickey Thompson tires, maybe because Nashville isn’t as “southern” as Tallahassee. I will see the O every once in a while, and it takes me right back to my days at Leon High School and that pair of Oakley’s I lost in Georgia when I left them on a rented van after me and my family went to Callaway Gardens for a holiday weekend full of lights and laughter… and tears.

-Out of the Wilderness

 

The Reawakening: Part 7

There seems to be a possible twist in this exciting adventure.

Cincinnati, Ohio. A family of 6 preparing for another school year. 4 young daughters have only known life in Ohio but have a Mom that urgently prays for God to open up doors for them in Tallahassee, Florida. It’s been years since my sister, their mom, has felt her heart longing for life near the rest of our family, in the Florida panhandle. I absolutely adore my family and when my sis told me about her prayers, I proclaimed if she and her family move to Tallahassee, I would to. If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t think it all the way through, and made the promise before I rationally thought about what it actually means for me to leave the city I love. Years have gone by without any developments for my sister’s family… until now. You see, it’s pretty much all rested on whether my brother-in-law can get work in North Florida as an engineer. Tallahassee being a relatively small town (not including the college population), I guess finding work he’s qualified for isn’t as easy as you might think. But later this week, he’s making a trip there for a face-to-face interview with a potential employer. This is their second or third interview and from what I’ve heard, it looks very promising. Now I’m hearing chatter about the promise I made a long time ago. I joke that it expired. But if I’m being totally honest, the idea doesn’t sound totally absurd and it’s something I’ll be thinking about over the coming weeks.

Could this be a twist I never saw coming? Could my time in Nashville be coming to an end? Frankly, I’m shocked those words are even on the table because I love it here.