Front Porch Living

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How many of us wake up in the morning,  go to work, come home,  sit on the couch, and turn on the T.V. just to start it over again the next day. I believe it is important for us to not sit idle and have time just pass us by. We have to get out there and get involved in life. Over time, we as a society have begun to isolate ourselves. An example of this is 50 years ago, when houses were built with  porches on the front of the house that enabled us to sit out there and interact with our neighbors. In the last 15 years, however, we find ourselves building decks on the back of our houses so we can have privacy so that nobody will disturb us. I am not implying decks are bad, but  implying that we are becoming an isolated society. We’re  living our own lives, not bothering anyone or anyone bothering us.

This post is going to contain a lot of words and names which may seem irrelevant at first and maybe even a little drawn out. But hang in there, and I promise I will pull it all together to sum up my point.

It all started last fall while sitting in a movie theater with a woman named Stephanie, watching the “Race Across the Sky”. It is a movie chronicling an annual, brutal 100 mile mountain bike race held in Leadville, CO. It was at this time when my buddy Mike and I decided we, too, would race in a 100 mile mountain bike race. Oh, how little I knew at that time.

Once we decided we were going to race a 100 mile race, we had to decide which race we would enter.  After a short time, we decided on the Shenandoah 100 due to locality, and it was late in the season to get in as much training as we could. We started training about a year out from the race, just putting in a lot of long, slow, boring rides to build up our endurance. During this time, we talked to many different people who attempted such a feat to see what we were in for. This included our bike mechanics and mountain bike racers Scott W and Kyle,  the“Wonderboy”. Not only did they keep my bike riding smooth and fast, but filled us with great riding wisdom. Then there was Stephanie S. Not only did she race and finish the Leadville 100, but she starred in the movie they made of it. Stephanie is a special woman who has used biking to overcome many adversities in life, including a mental illness she deals with and discusses in the movie. She was an incredible encouragement to me throughout the year, always keeping me motivated.  As time wore on and the weather warmed, Mike and I signed up for our first enduro race which was held at French Creek in Elverson, PA. The name of the race was appropriately called “On the Rocks at French Creek”, due to the rocky terrain. In the description of the race, it actually says that if you sign up for the enduro, you need to get your head examined. It wasn’t the most inviting words to sign up for this race, but we decided this would be a good test for us to see where our fitness level was. It was during this race where I got to ride with Stephanie for the first time, but not for long, as she passed me in the first couple of miles, and I never saw her again until the end. I did, however, ride with another great rider, Jill N. During this ride, I got to hear about all the other races she was in over the years, and a lot of her many accomplishments. Of course, the longer I rode with her, the more emasculated I felt do to her optimal fitness. Along with her was another elite rider that made me begin to wonder if I took up the wrong sport, Nicole S. I would have the pleasure of riding with these great women throughout the season, doing various enduro races. While riding for hours on end with someone, you get to know that person pretty well.  We celebrated as we achieved minor accomplishments like clearing a technical section of the trail, and encouraged each other as we suffered together and our bodies rebelled against us. Not only did Mike and I  use races to get tuned up for the big day, but countless hours riding on local trails with our friends. There were rides with teammates Rich, Arounkone, Kyle, a different Kevin, Mike, and others . During these rides, we pushed each other, encouraged each other, laughed and cried, and, well, I cried a lot anyway. I also did countless rides on the road, sometimes riding with my neighbor, Jim,  spending hours talking with him and getting to know him better. Finally, the big day has come and I race (survive) the mountainous terrain, barely. After crashing hard, not once, but twice. I got to ride with hundreds of other like-minded crazy people, where we all encouraged each other to finish the race.

So why do I bring this up, you ask? I realized that by setting a goal a year ago, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people. People who encouraged me, people that I encouraged. Friendships were formed, and friendships were nurtured, all this because I set a goal. If I decided to just continue to wake up, go to work, come home, and watch T.V., I would have missed getting to know all of these people and the great memories that were created.

In the bible it says,  “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all”.  And in the book of Hebrews it says,  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
And in 1Co 10:24  it says, “ Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor”.  We are encouraged in God’s word to get involved with others, to encourage others, and be patient with others. It does not say to hang out by yourself, look out for number one and mind your own business, and live in your isolated life with blinders on.

I have decided this year to live more intentionally and make thoughtful choices. I decided to set goals in order to bump into more people and get involved in their lives, and have them get involved in mine. This year I am learning the guitar, learning Spanish, started a blog, going on a missions trip to Nicaragua, read 10 chapters of the bible a night, and writing a life plan- just to name a few. I can’t wait to see who I run into and how they can encourage me and I, them. I urge you to get out on the  front porch and see who walks by.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Front Porch Living

  1. Carol

    I’m a back deck “leave me alone” type of person. Now, because of your blog, I have to rethink my retirement years. Thanks a lot! Ya’ know, I see what isolationism is doing to Dianne & Donny. Not good. Nancy is a great example of someone who, even though she has mental problems, goes out everyday to meet people, witness to them, and encourage them.

    • Kevin SIne

      I agree. It is really important to get involved in the others lives. But it can be done in our daily activities we just have to engage. Thanks for your thoughts and observations

  2. I grew up in a row house in Allentown. I had the front bedroom on the second floor. None of the houses had air conditioning, so all the neighbors would sit on their porches in the evening. I remember falling asleep listening to the adults talking (sometimes arguing) on their porches.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Rachelle

    Funny you should write this. My sister who lives across the street from me had a front porch put on her house last summer. I started getting texts from her that said “Coffee on the porch. Ten minutes”. It wasnt so much the people that walked by (no one really comes down Stallion Road anymore) but the time we spent with eachother. Not really sure who hated who more growing up (could be a tie) and I swore she would never be my friend but now because of the porch we did spend time together. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Walton’s Mountain and of course there was that night last summer that she told me to paint my toenails because my feet were ugly (I responded by telling her to paint her face) but it’s nice getting to know my neighbor better…even if her coffee sucks.

    • Kevin SIne

      Thanks for sharing Rachelle, great comments. That’s really funny you guys make fun of each other. Getting involved in others lives sometimes ain’t pretty but I think it’s necessary.

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