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

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Will you still love me tomorrow?

Last week I dropped off my two dogs, Piper and Asia, at a kennel because, along with my brother, I’m volunteering at a Christian sports camp for a week in southern Missouri. Now we’re in the middle of our week here and I wonder what my dogs are doing. What are they thinking? What are they barking at? Is Piper chasing rabbits? Is Asia biting Piper’s ears to play? I miss my dogs! I even had a dream about them last night. There were a couple of puppies in the dream, too, and at one point I was carrying all of them in a Kroger grocery cart. No idea what that means but I hope they’re doing OK! I’ll see them Sunday and I just hope they still love me, much less remember my name!

-Out of the Wilderness

Four Days of Vacation: A Thanksgiving Story

I drove down to Florida Wednesday afternoon to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I’ve realized over the past few years that usually my “vacations” are always fun, but more exhausting than my “real life.” This trip was no exception. Here’s my family.
At first I was worried about traffic because the day before Thanksgiving is busy on the roads and highways. You know it’s true. Just outside of Nashville was bumper to bumper on Interstate 65 heading south. That cleared up rather quickly and it was smooth sailing all the way to Birmingham, Alabama. I made it through the city fast enough, but then all I saw were long lines of red lights. Makes me thankful I have a Droid with Google navigation. I avoided 90% of the traffic by splitting off to a side road.Saved me at least 30 minutes. From there on, traffic was smooth, though there were more cars than usual. I can’t say enough about 5-hour energy drinks. I’m the exception to the rule that soda or coffee or cold air or music will help you stay awake. But the 5-hour energy drinks? Work every time. On this trip I brought 2 DVDs with me so I could listen to them through the car stereo. The first was “Fast Five.” Lots of action, I couldn’t follow the plot (probably because I was busy, you know, driving), but all in all a good movie. The 2nd movie was “Trespass” featuring Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman. For a movie I had never heard of, it was pretty good. Much easier to follow along with because there wasn’t a terribly high amount of locations or details. It didn’t do well in the theaters, probably because there was practically no promotion for it. Those 2 movies, along with the 5-hour energy drink made the trip easy, even with the heavier traffic.

The trip took 8 hours and 15 minutes, which was not what I was expecting given that it’s the day before Thanksgiving. I thought it would take over 9 hours. When I got to my parents house, there were a few people still awake. After a little bit of visiting, we all went to bed.

Thursday:
Thanksgiving day. First I went to the dog park with my 2 dogs, my parents dog, 2 of my nieces, and my brother-in-law. We spent about 2 hours in the park, first letting the dogs run around in the fenced-in area, then taking them out on a trail for about 30 minutes.

Our big lunch was scheduled for early afternoon, so once we got back, it was almost time to eat. The meal was very good. My favorite this year was the cornbread stuffing with turkey gravy poured over it. Then we watched NFL football for the rest of the day. AT 1145 that night we went to Target to take advantage of their black Friday deals. Mistake. Remember how I was excited that I avoided the long lines of traffic on the highway? There was no avoiding long lines at 1230am in Target. I made it to bed by 130am.

Friday:
Went to play disc with my dad and brother-in-law. We didn’t have legitimate discs, so we used ultimate Frisbee discs. Not nearly as effective as discs made for golf. On the second throw of the first hole, my Frisbee hit a tree and shattered into 3 pieces. My dad and I shared his Frisbee and we finished 14 over. My brother in law finished 5 over. A disappointing result for me personally, but it was fun to play. On the way home, we stopped by Play It Again Sports and picked up a black Friday deal on disc golf discs… Saturday, it’s on! Later Friday afternoon, I recorded the cutest video of all time. Check it out here:

Friday night we celebrated my oldest sister’s 40th birthday. To surprise her, my parents set up a dinner at the restaurant inside the Florida State football stadium. Needless to say, my sister was completely shocked and giddy. A stretch H2 Hummer brought us there. So this is how it feels to be a famous person. The birthday party was awesome, had great food, great speeches, and my sister had a great time. We had the limo till 930pm so we rode around town then ended up back home about 945pm (not sure how much that extra 15 minutes cost, but oh well! P-Diddy wouldn’t complain, so I won’t either).

Saturday:
Another round of disc golf, this time with legitimate discs. Muuuuuuch more effective and resulted in more fun for all 3 of us. My brother-in-law won again, finishing at… oh I don’t remember, but he won. We got back to the house in time for the OSU/Michigan game. My sister and I drove quickly over to my 100-year old grandmother’s house to visit with her for a little while.

We couldn’t stay long because my sister and her family were leaving town that afternoon. When we got back to my parents house, we saw OSU lose, then watched Alabama beat Auburn. My sis and her family left and I took my dogs to the dog park one more time. Then at 7pm, game time. FSU vs. UF and the Noles won with ease. A good end to a good weekend, if you ask me.

Sunday:
130am, I’m in the car on the way back to Nashville. The 2 movies I got for this trip were “Hall Pass” and “Rango.” I couldn’t even make it half way through Rango, so I can’t recommend it. Hall Pass was ok, a little more raunchy than I expected. I laughed a few times, but only because I really like Owen Wilson. I’ll say this, the movie helped me stay awake, but would I rent it again from Red Box? No. I made it back to Nashville in time to go to church that morning then catch the afternoon NFL games. I took a fantastic nap and the dogs behaved quite well, even though they were cooped up inside because of a cold and rainy day.

Monday:
Back to work with some of my favorite people!

Here’s one of my beagles chasing a rabbit… enjoy!