Dreading the way back

I’m not sure what this says about my personality, but when I take my dogs on a walk, we have a joyous time. We have a fun time. We run, we laugh, we play, we sniff things. Life is just rosy. At least for the first half.

But then we turn around and it’s as if the amount of fun we just had is dealt back equally to us but in opposite form. We’re stubborn, moody, hasty, and yet moving slow. No matter if it’s a 1 mile walk, or 2 mile walk, when we make the turn or circle around for the second half, my dogs seem to think, “Now we’ll be poky little puppies.”

It’s not all their fault, though. They are just doing what they do by sniffing and exploring. But I turn into an impatient bully!

-Out of the Wilderness

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Passing by beauty

The other day I was walking my dogs and about halfway through I noticed this beautiful tree standing alone in a field that had just been cut back. Take a look.

 

I thought, “How rare and precious! I’m so lucky to have seen this one tree in an area where none others exist. Amazing!”

The dogs and I kept on the walk and that’s when I noticed something. I already knew how silly I can be, but this was yet more evidence. For the entire walk, and totally unaware, I had walked by about 15 of the same kind of trees. I just hadn’t noticed!

The obvious lesson here is to pay attention to what’s around you, as I clearly didn’t. But another lesson is this: Presentation matters. I hadn’t noticed the other white-petaled trees because 1. I wasn’t paying attention but 2. they were lost among the rest of the trees and underbrush. This one stood out because the surrounding area had been cleared, which drew my attention to the tree.

I hope you’re able to notice the beauty around you today!

-Out of the Wilderness

 

Weekend trip to Memphis

This past weekend I went to Memphis, Tennessee because one of my nieces had a soccer thing there. Her team is based in Tallahassee, FL so I don’t get to see them play terribly often. This was a great opportunity since the trip is only about 3.5 hours from Nashville.

Well, the downside is that it rained the entire trip. And I don’t mean spotty showers. I left Nashville in the rain, drove the entire trip there in the rain, all the soccer events were under rain, and then drove the entire way back in the rain. There wasn’t even a 5 second span where it wasn’t raining. Crazy. I *think* I even saw a guy building a wooden boat and I can’t be totally sure but there may have been animals walking towards him two by two.

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My sis and I on the team bus

Now with that said, it was still such a fun weekend. My niece played in two soccer games Saturday afternoon, and I love watching her play. I also chatted and laughed a lot with my second oldest sister. I count soccer and laughing as two of the best things I get to do as an uncle! Plus, I’ll be totally honest, I’m competitive. I really enjoy watching all kinds of competitions. So those were the top highlights of the weekend.

Another memorable highlight was being able to reconnect with a dog we met in Memphis last summer. You can see him in this video I made from July 2017:


The short story is that he was homeless, alone, hungry, and in need of some love. My nieces were champions for him, so we weren’t leaving there without making sure his circumstances improved, even if it was to give him a little more hope than he had right then. He ended up at a dog rescue organization and that might be the best thing that had ever happened to him up to that point in his life. Since then, he’s been brought back to great health, and was adopted by a married couple that works at that rescue.

So this weekend we had a small window of time to break away from the soccer stuff going on. We arranged to go see Cole man and here’s a short video showing him now, just 7 months later.


I’ll obviously count this weekend trip to Memphis as a highlight of 2018, with my fingers crossed for more great highlights to come!

-Out of the Wilderness

Kindness of strangers in unexpected moments

Part of what I do for income includes driving my car all over town and interacting with strangers. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, he drives for Uber!” Thankfully, no. Drunk strangers will not be vomiting in my car. I really enjoy delivering smiles for Amazon Prime Now. But it’s not always happy times, I’ll tell ya! Traffic can be a bear and a few weeks ago, the weather was quite the menace. Here’s a snippet from my dash cam the night I was delivering in Nashville’s heaviest snow of the year so far.


Even worse than the snow, though, was the ice. Some main roads, and most secondary roads, were layered in it. On top of that, I had 10 deliveries! I felt like David going up against Goliath, with a Nissan Versa as my slingshot.

I left the Amazon warehouse with just an ounce of courage. I slowly crept my way to the first customer and missed the mark with my first stone. Here I am in a bit of a predicament.


I was halfway up the hill and started sliding down. I was able to back into a random driveway and with some help, drive in reverse, through front yards, narrowly missing two cars but getting back onto a flat road without incident.

Nine more deliveries to go.

Already my neck was sore. My shoulders were tight. A few of the next stops were in flat areas of east Nashville, so that was a relief, but Goliath still seemed larger than life.

Towards the end of the route, Goliath snorted as I approached the steepest hill yet. The house I was delivering to was at the top, about 5 houses in from where I decided to park the car. My slingshot wouldn’t win this battle. In fact, I felt pretty defeated at this point; half the deliveries were late and even after this one, I had a few more to go. To walk the delivery to the customer would take at least 3 trips from my car up the hill to the house, but as undesirable as that sounded, it’s all that could be done. So I started up the hill, a few packages under my arms.

As I handed off the first round of items, the most unexpected thing happened. The father of the crew that lived there began bundling up with heavy clothes and boots. My eyes widened. My heart beat faster. My shoulders loosened. He was coming back with me so we could slay this giant together!

We split the items between us and started back up the hill. We both were carrying almost more than we could manage by ourselves. And then another heroic moment happened: his son met us on the way and after giving him some packages, the three of us marched up the hill, up the driveway, up the slippery steps, and to the front door.

As it turns out, it was people that overtook Goliath this cold, snowy night. What does the Bible say? A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken. I’m so thankful for those guys that night. Their act of kindness won’t be in newspapers, it won’t pop up on anyone’s Facebook feed (except maybe for mine!), they won’t be ABC’s persons of the week. But for a stressed out delivery driver, this father certainly made an impression and lived out the Golden Rule. Plus he modeled for his son (and his daughter and wife who were watching from the window) one way to be a good man.

He reminded me a lot of my dad.

And that, my friends, is how Goliath fell that night.

-Out of the Wilderness

Life and death, and “Skol, Vikings!”

Last week will go down as a landmark on my life’s timeline. For anyone who saw my recent post about having a gun pointed at me, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And for those that missed it, you can click this link to be caught up, or… to make a long story short, a fellow motorist driving aggressively pulled up next to me as we were moving down a Nashville road and used his gun to make his feelings known more clearly.

For a few days after that brazen encounter, I had a headache which is very out of the ordinary for me. My head hurt because the brazen encounter took time to truly sink in. This happened. I could’ve been hurt.

What was I thinking?

More questions than I have answers for continue scrolling through my mind; did he try to pull the trigger and it malfunctioned? What was he thinking in that moment? Was it a 9mm or a .22? Why was he so aggressive? I’ll never know how drastically my life would have changed if the gun had gone off and I was struck by the bullet, or something less painful like the bullet just hitting my car. As close as he was, we were maybe 15 feet from each other, the chances of him hitting his target were pretty high. What if I died that day? What if I was shot, but didn’t die? Who would I rely on for help? Who would care for my dogs?

The bottom line truth is this: even though he didn’t pull the trigger, my life has changed forever. I guess it would be presumptuous to say exactly how because only time will tell, and right now I don’t know all the ways my life will be different from this one random afternoon. I do know the way I drive will be different. God only knows what the future would’ve looked like had things turned out worse, so I’m taking this as a warning to think before I act, and a gigantic blessing that I have another chance to correct my course, if that makes sense. A do-over. A reset. A fail but with no major penalties.

So that was the first half of the week. Then I found out an acquantance of mine passed away very unexpectedly. He’s a friend and fellow filmmaker with a couple of my friends, and someone I worked with on a huge project from 2015 to 2017. The news hit my two friends hard. They were close to him, and though I didn’t know him as well as they did, my heart became heavy the instant I found out. I’m sad for his family, I’m sad for my friends. It doesn’t make sense when such a great person takes an early exit, and we who are left behind are the ones who lose because of it. It’s hard to come up with something positive in circumstances like this, because the best scenario is one where he isn’t gone, but something cool happened on Sunday that I’m believing is a silver lining, a little gift from above that is sweet in it’s own little way. This guy was the biggest Minnesota Vikings fan this side of Heaven, and yesterday the Vikings pulled off a win in the final seconds of their playoff game, and it was pretty unbelievable. I won’t give a play by play recap, but they won on a last second, 61-yard touchdown pass as the seconds ticked down to end the game. I heard on the radio that right before the play started, the Vikings had roughly a 6% chance of winning the game. It was only that high because they were down by 2 so a field goal would’ve won it. But with 10 seconds to go and no time outs, 60 yards away from the end zone, TVs were being shut off across the country. The game was over. But uh uh uh, not so fast! Hike, drop back, launch, a catch and a sprint to the end zone for the win! It was a highly improbable ending, but so, so sweet. The biggest Vikings fan on that side of Heaven was jumping up and down, I’m certain.

Now another week has already started and I’m very curious about how it’ll unfold. I wouldn’t mind a week where nothing happens, a week that is so forgettable that I already forgot it and it hasn’t even happened yet. But if it turns into a week where God teaches me something, not to mention where He might have in fact intervened to save my life and my way of life, I would count that as a win, too.

And another Minnesota win would be pretty nice, too. Skol, Vikings!

-Out of the Wilderness