Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My first "real" bike ride

Every once in a while, my biggest fan will get the chance to read the blogs I write and for some reason or another I choose not to share. Perhaps it was because she knew the behind the sense of this ride she felt it important for me to finish the story and to share my thoughts. To be honest, I’m not sure they why, but nevertheless, I took the advice, and here it is . . . .
Back in November when we toyed with the idea of getting bikes, I am sure my assumptions were the same as many. Remember those childhood summers, filled with hours and hours of riding around the neighborhood? To the school playground? To the friend's house down the street? We lived on those bikes, and could ride for hours without a mere struggle. I wasn't not naive to think, that a good twenty years later, my riding experience would be the same of that 12 year old little girl, but nevertheless, I foresaw many effortless adventures and pain free hours spent enjoying beautiful days upon the saddle of two spinning wheels.
After 6 months and now knowing the importance of padded bike shorts, peddle cages,  butt butter, biking gloves, "On your left," and so much more, I have learned that "riding your bike" can be an entirely different ball game.
Yes, there are days when an effortless 5 mile stroll in your jeans around the neighborhood or in a local park provides enough solace from the fast paced momentum of the day.
And there are the rides where the minutes tick into hours, where the ground below passes and miles accumulate.  The rides where you discover places of beauty that you never knew existed along the back roads and trails of your hometown. The rides where your friends peddle alongside you and stories of family and events of the prior week are shared in between the twist and turns of the pavement. The rides where you cruise into town and share laughs over a meal with the ones you love. The rides where you pause when a moment is needed to take a photo or to enjoy the beauty of God's handiwork.
But a few weekends ago, we were able to be a part of something bigger; a world I knew existed but never envisioned being a part of.
We rolled up Saturday and it was obvious that we were the new kids on the block. We didn't have on a fitted bright colored jersey, and out of insecurities, I threw baggy athletic shorts over my very snug padded biking shorts. We did not have special biking shoes, or the type of bike that a majority of the riders traveled upon. We were out of our league, and I quickly questioned what in the world did we sign ourselves up for. We surely were not signed up for one of our leisurely day trips to cruise along the High Bridge Trail or for a stroll around the neighborhood block.
The Cap 2 Cap Ride was truly outside of my comfort zone and a challenge; I’ll admit I wasn’t sure it was a challenge that could be completed. But I have learned that it is in challenges and it is outside our comfort zones that some of life's best accomplishments and biggest blessings are clearly visible and humbly achieved.  And Saturday they were.
Looking back it was seeing familiar faces at registration, getting great riding advice, and sharing drinks and stories with experienced riders, it was waking up to the rain pounding on the roof, to walking out the front door into the sunshine of a gorgeous day, it was having my best friend by my side and  her helping hand in the midst of my frustrating obstacles, it was her prayers of support before the last leg of the race and it was the choir of voices shouting encouragement that could be heard along the course, it was the friendly first bumps of a job well done and the challenge of overcoming the mental "I can'ts" with the "I cans,” it was in seeing a mom and dad pull along their mentally and physically disabled children along the twenty five mile route and then watching them cross the finish line with cheers and smiles, it was being embraced as outsiders, as newbie’s, into a community that it didn't matter what you wore, or what bike you rode, what shoes you had on your feet, or really who your were, it only mattered that we all chose to get up that morning, to keep moving on those tiny seats, and to not stop peddling until the finish line was crossed….AND it was in accomplishing a goal, that at times I thought was unattainable, it was finishing that 25th mile and celebrating that victory with good entertainment, good food and good people that made the 2013 Cap 2 Cap Ride, an moment in my life I will never forget.
(And to you, my #1 fan—thanks for challenging me to finish this blog, even if I did drag my feet!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Count it all Joy

A little over a year ago, between the quiet yellow walls of my Powhatan kitchen, I spent countless mornings at the table with the book of James. Unlike previous years, this season of life was not particularly a difficult one, but rather one of healing, of truth and honesty, a season of understanding grace, and personally redefining what it means to live a life of faith - of expectant faith.  

It was in the book of James, in letting those God inspired words wash over my soul, that I was able to open up my hidden wounds and allow healing and forgiveness to fill those dark unexpected vacancies that had shaken my world. It was in those pen strokes that peace calmed the winds of unanswered why's and where's and how's that quivered my spirit. And it was in that book that truth pierced my heart and gave me permission to walk in grace and taught me to become the woman, God fearfully and wonderfully, created me to be.

It was in James's pages, that God led me to revisited those "trails" in my own life, and it was there I discovered that the worst days of my life, became the first days of my testimony. It was in my calamities, in my weakness that opened the way to His glory, to His feat. It was there at that kitchen table, many days not getting much further than verse 5, that I began to understand what James meant when he said "count it all joy."

You can imagine my excitement, when I found out my church was reading through James together. (You can read along with us, just click here).

“To count it all joy.” 

Beth puts it simply . . . “those who follow Christ will become more Christ-like because we face difficulties - not in spite of those trials.”

It is not “all joy” because the outcomes to our problems, our situations alway turn out the way we hoped and prayed that they would. It’s not “all joy” because happiness and success always follow our failures and let downs. It’s “all joy” because He’s present in the midst of our troubles. He’s working in the face of our defeats. And He changing us for the better in the middle of life’s moments of devastation. It is there, in the hardest moments of our lives, that the greatest stories of His faithfulness and wisdom can be seen.