Thursday, June 27, 2013

Coffee and Bikes

So I'm trying to get more consistent again at blogging.  I started working at a coffee shop a few weeks ago so I can be up at 6 a.m. and have time to get things done before socializing becomes a priority and distraction and so I can have time to read, write and pray, as I enjoy doing so.  You've probably noticed the last two weeks I have posted (yay) but it is Thursday and I have yet to post for this week.  So this is a forced post, but they say you have to make yourself do the hard stuff so you can reap the benefits later.  Plus the more you do something, the more you do something.  So as this may not be the best post, (it's not inspired or amazing) it is a post and it is out there.  I might have other unusual posts soon too, because I am trying to expand my talents as a writer and creator.

Tuesday was a fun morning at the coffee shop.  A regular and I sat there talking and drinking like always when two adventure-loving souls walked in.  Two young men dressed from head to toe in biking gear.  Red faced and sweaty from the already 100 degree Oklahoma weather, they looked around confused and asked me if they could park their bikes inside the shop.  "Sure, why not?" I replied.

Instantly my head started reeling with questions.  Who were they?  Where were they going?  Why were they getting coffee before a bike ride?  Isn't that bad for you?  I took a breathe and calmed myself down before I burst with questions.

"Hi, how are ya'll?"

"Great, just thought we'd come by and grab some coffee before we head out."

"Where are you going," I asked, relieved I finally had an opportunity to question them.

They then began to explain that they were "riding for affordable housing."

"What the heck does that mean?" I asked.



The redheaded guy began to explain that it was a non profit organization called Bike and Build (Bikeandbuild.org) The organization is made up of 18-25 year olds raise money then ride form coast to coast building houses and working in conjunction with local Habitat for Humanity locations.

What a fun idea!  I thought to myself, and proceeded to ask dozens of questions about everything from camping to biking gear to their physical fitness.  Surprisingly enough, neither of the young men had any type of bike training before they jump on a cross-country ride.  The darker one said the furthest he had rode before this was about 8-10 miles.  Wow!   I couldn't believe it.  I did a duathlon a couple of years ago and my first day of training was 5 miles.  5 miles on a bike is so insignificant if you are even in halfway decent shape.  Within a week I was riding 10 and for the race I rode 18 miles.

What about the pace? I asked.

With a group of about 40 riders on each of the 8 American routes, it is hard to ride in a pack.  The group tends to break up into smaller groups of about 3 or 4 and ride at their own pace, so speed is never a factor.  A supply van rides behind the pack with all sorts of medical things, food, and luggage.

In between my questions I had the chick who was in there with me pipe up.

"I don't know what all you guys do, but here's 10 bucks and any coffee or treats you get today are on me" she said.

How cool!  The guys were super appreciative, as they were pinching pennies to get across the states.  We asked them a few more questions about the routes, the set up and the fun they'd had.  Before they left the chick and I prayed over these two guys and asked the Lord to give them safe travels.  After only 5 minutes of adventure-talk these guys had to hit the road.  Dissapointed hope left me there in the shop.  I was dissapointed because I wanted to go with them, I wanted to ask more questions, and I wanted to hear more stories.  However I was hopeful because I had an idea of what I might do next summer. :)

For more information check out bikeandbuild.org and if you are a personal friend of mine please contact me if you would like to look into applying further.  I am very interested and would like to bring some friends.

Well that ends chapter 1 of the coffee adventures.  More to come soon..maybe!

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Go Play!!"

Last week's post seemed to generate a surge of excitement, introspective, and lots of interesting discussions with others.  At least for me, my honest post encouraged me to seek out conversation with friends my same age.  Much to my egotistical surprise, I opened my eyes and realized there is a large handful of us who are all in the same boat.  Wow, Satan is sneaky!  He makes us think we are constantly alone in our struggles, when in fact we are always in good company.  Anyhow, since I have seen such a reach for twenty-somethings who are "Happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time," (as T-Swizzle puts it), I have decided to write a few more posts on the subject...if for nothing more than to satisfy my hungry mind.

"The safety of the fence or the danger of the ride,
I'll always be unsatisfied.."
--Miranda Lambert, Airstream

This week is a very similar post, and hopefully just as relatable.  I always say I think too much, and when I have freetime I really get to thinking too much.  The other day I was pondering all the exciting and uncertain possibilities for my future (before and after college graduation.)  Very quickly I was overwhelmed by the hugeness of it all.  I mean really, you think about it and after you have that diploma, the world is yours.  You are free to do absolutely anything.  Or in many of my friends' cases, I have noticed that taking a break from school is very helpful, that too opens up the possibility of doing and achieving absolutely anything!

As I sat and pondered and quizzed and hummed, I finally reached an emotional hot spot and broke down in tears.  (Yes, I am a girl.)  As I lay there crying for about 2 minutes, I finally asked myself why I was so frustrated.  My brain responded with this scenario...

Being at this stage in life is like being 8 years old all over again.  I remember as a kid, wanting to spend summer days inside watching TV while my mother would stand close by in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning and what not.  It was easy, safe, and natural; yet instead of letting me do this, my mother wanted me to "Go Play!"

"Zap!" The TV is turned off and the remotes are gone...all in about 30 seconds.  Defiant faces and angry hearts from my brother and I are aimed towards Mom as we compete against her in a stare-down.  (She always won, of course, but we would always try.)  "Go play.  Get outside...now!" she would command us.  

After losing a losing battle, brother and I would reluctantly obey her.  We'd take the first step outside and then awkwardly stand there complaining that we were bored and had absolutely nothing to do outside.  Besides, it's 101 degrees and there is no one to play with.


The truth is however, you are not bored, you are only scared.  As an 8 year-old you are experiencing the fear of the unknown.  Although on a small scale, you are still experiencing the fear of leaving your comfort zone and conquering the world on your own.

My brother and I would try complaining to Mom, but she would always shoot back with the "You're only bored if you choose to be bored" speech and repeats her "Go play" command.  Frustrated, a little scared, and unwilling to try something new, we would then make our way across the yard to our neighbors house.  "Can Austin come out and play?"  Of course, Austin was always up for an adventure.  Next we would go get Jacob, Jonathon, and whoever else happened to be in the neighborhood.

What happens next?  

Well pretty soon we are all so caught up in who's going to find your new hiding spot in Hide-and-Go-Seek, or the barrel role game, or how far you can jump on your bike, that you have absolutely no concept of reality.  You are a child completely and utterly consumed with the present.  No worries, no concerns, just laughter, fun and adventure.  This is the way we were meant to live.  Right in the middle of your heavenly bliss, where everything is perfect, and the step outside the door was way worth it.  You are laughing and playing and living and loving and then...you are called to dinner.

Ugh.  Frustration and anger again.

...Poor mom, she must have only seen the angry sides of us.  Bless her soul..

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The terms "Mom" and "Google" are interchangeable.

"Leap and the net will appear."

I don't know, but do you ever feel like that?  I've noticed the fear and excitement that comes when students approach graduation (more-so college than high school, but the feeling is still similar.)  You want to be good, successful, and exciting, but at the same time you are so careful about not messing up and taking the wrong path that you completely miss out on the fun adventurous part.  Sometimes risk is right.  (Risk is Right is a book by John Piper that I have not read, but my brother claims is wonderful.)  

I've seen a few classmates do great in college.  They excel straight through just like they did in high school, graduate with honors, and then what...well they go right back to school again.  Personally I think "Wow, how could you possibly go to more school?"  But a friend of mine pointed out the other day that well...you're 22 years old, you just graduated college and well, for the past 16 or so years of your life you have been in school.  It's safe.  It's comfortable.  It's what you know.  So of course, if the possibility exists, why not go back?  Just like the 8 year-old's comfort is sitting on the couch till noon watching cartoons under mommy's close supervision.

I'm not at all saying that going back to school after graduation is wrong.  I am challenging you though, if that is you.  Is that really what you want to do?  Is that going to be an adventure worth telling your grandkids?  Perhaps, instead you should do what your heart tells you to do.  Move to Venice and be the missionary God has called you to be.  Join Journey-men and live fully for the hope of the Lord.  Or maybe its' jumping out and starting your own business.  Whatever it is, don't be afraid to jump off that ledge.  Peter would still be in the boat if he would have listened to fear.  Yes, failure will probably happen, but that's where you learn, where you grow.  Failure is a beautiful thing not to be avoided at all costs.

Hmm..  for me it is leaving this part of the state, let alone this state.  I want to stay here, I want to move back to my hometown and live a quiet life.  But really?  At 22 don't you think I should go do something??  We have more energy and vigor than any other age group right now, so why not use it for some learning, growing, and helping.  Staring my fear right in the eye, is the desire to go travel..everywhere.  I need to learn and experience different cultures, true art, and meet people.  That's what I want...at least for now.  But hey, don't sweat it.  Let God be your guide.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord..."
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Twenty-Two

So I'm sure you've heard the new Taylor-Swift hit, "Twenty-Two."  I love it.  How cool is it that someone is finally celebrating 22.  It's the first birthday doesn't mean much.  It's the beginning of the next 8 years.  Everyone loves 21 and it's excitement.  But 22 is often neglected.  Thank you, Taylor Swift, for representin'.  
I've been wanting to write about the song for a while, but haven't sat down to be inspired yet.  I love the fact that it captures the age.  Basically it's like "blaahhhhhh."  You are at the awkward in-between age of no specificness.  Like Taylor, most of the world sees this as an opportunity to "dress up like hipsters and make fun of exes".."have breakfast at midnight"...or "fall in love with strangers."  Who cares?  you're 22 right?  Right...to an extent.  As a Christian there's more to it than that.

"We are happy free confused and lonely at the same time," she sings.  So true.  How you are all four all at once, no idea, but it is very true.  

Sunday I talked to an old friend for a long time.  The conversation of two 22 year olds sounds much like Taylor Swift's song.  We talked about the bar scene, college, and life after college.  What the heck are you gonna do?  

So in a heart-felt writer's puke...I wrote this, and realized I have a special friend and Taylor Swift to thank for this post. (Plus a random mix of emotions, little sleep, good morning cookies and crazy circumstances.)  Enjoy.



Twenty-Two
Fear.

I guess I am admitting that I am scared.  Underneath the layer of happiness and confidence and passion…I am scared.  I’m scared of what life holds next.  I’m scared of what it doesn’t hold and the fact that I have no idea where I am going.  I love my life here, but I don’t want to stay here.  I want to go back to school but I’m scared to finish.  I don’t enjoy my major as much as I should and I don’t really want to go into that field.  At the same time I hate the disappointed stares and sighs I get as I walk in a room and tell people I’m perfectly happy being a waitress and working minimum wage jobs. 

                The thought of a real job disgusts me.  I don’t want to be professional.  I don’t want to live in the city. 

                I want to be married and start a family.  I want to experience love and community like never before.  I know who he is and I want to be held and cared for.  I want my best friend to travel the world with me and experience things with me. I want to live in my hometown and be surrounded by family.
               
But I know I’m not ready.  They say I’m not old enough for all that.  You aren’t supposed to move back yet, you’re supposed to live somewhere else first, away from family and friends…without a husband.  Alone.  At the same time, don’t give yourself away to another man.  Don’t sleep around, sleep alone.  Sure, you can date.  But is that really worth the pain and heartache of a temporary fix?  You have about 10 years to kill, do whatever you want, just don’t move home yet and don’t disappoint us.  Remember you have a husband and a future.  As for now, you build.

                As a twenty-something you need to save and invest for your future.  Save and invest money.  That means work, work, work.  Focus on a career.  Not a job, a career.  Oh wait, the thought of a career makes you miserable.  So do what you love to do. ..no, waitressing upsets people.  You want to run the company back home?  That’s awesome! But if you move back now we will consider you a “failure to launch.” 
               
  Save and invest.  Save and invest your time.  Save your time for those who matter, your family and friends.  At the same time they all have jobs of their own and won’t be around, and your family wants to see you succeed.  Invest your life.  Invest your time in something worthwhile now, because later you’ll have a family and won’t have time for it.  So go help someone do something. 
               
Save and invest your heart.  Save your heart for the one you love, but invest your heart in the temporary situations.  A job, a hobby, a charity.  Invest.
               
I think I want to finish up.  Finish up my college days.  Take some fun classes and relax.  Work a few hours a week, but take time to watch TV and go out with friends.  Paint, golf, and run.
                
After I finish I’ll move somewhere neat.  A neat little town with culture and excitement.  A tourist hot-spot with waitressing jobs and fun after-hours.  I will remain pure to my Lord, myself and my family, but I will meet people and make friends with everyone.  Latch on to a female of integrity and valor, someone who can show you the paradise of life.  Live with your heart on God and your eyes on love.  It’s ten years of purity, patience, saving, investing and growing.  This isn’t a horrible experience. 
It’s a beautiful opportunity.

You’re twenty-two, young and beautiful.  Don’t waste it on boys, sex and booze.  Invest it in love, purity and making a difference in the world around you.   Be goofy and immature, because you can.  Be full of energy, life and ideas for your investment, because you are. Twenty somethin'....


The power is yours.  Will you seize it?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gett'in the Scoop

*





















So there I was at the bank. Minding by own monetary business.

When it happened.

An old neighbor swooped through the air like an eagle, hungry for my personal life.

Now, it would be one thing if we had a relationship to build off of this sudden interest in my life but it truly was out of the blue.

She asked, ‘Well…have you been BUSY?” raising her eyebrows rapidly.

“Um…yeah. Work and school and stuff. I just got a new job.”

“Oh really? Anything else?

I was starting to think the poor woman had a condition that made her widen her eyes that wide at me.

“My sister just had a baby so I see her a lot” (Atta girl Char. Throw her off your scent.  She’s not getting anything about dating out of you. I should have told her 31 flavors was down the street if she wanted the scoop. 
Ba-dum-CHING!

She couldn’t help herself though. I suspect other Spinsters give in easier than I do.

“And BOYS????”

AHHH….there we go. No getting around this one.

“Oh you know….just having fun.”

Cue her speech.

“Well, MY son Rob took awhile to get married too. He just really took his time and I was really worried. I didn’t know what he was doing waiting that long. And then he finally found a great girl. He realized after awhile he just really needed to settle down.”

Then, with concerned eyes and as much force as she could muster in a whisper,

“Marriage really is a blessing.”

Bless her heart.

I should have told her I put the “in” in Spinster.

Going through the bank drive thru from now on,
Char