Monday, December 30, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: My Sister's Friend

One of the anxieties that I've had during this online dating experience was seeing people whom I went to high school or college with or that I knew from the real world. I'm not sure why it would bother me so much but it just did. I did see a few familiar faces and I have exchanged a few emails back and forth with two (nothing to profound, just a "Oh my goodness, how are you? So good to see you!" like we had run into each other at the Target or something). There was one email that knocked me off balance, though.

I received an email saying, "You're Rebekah. Emily's sister."

That was all that the email said.

I read the guy's profile, I looked through all of his pictures but nothing rang a bell.

Though my sister and I share similarities, I really don't think we look alike. We both have large personalities and people usually notice when we walk in the same room, but over the past few years, we really haven't run in the same circles. I was very confused.

I responded with a simple yes and was hoping that would be the end of it. He replied, "I thought so! How are you?"

It's one thing to start a conversation with a clean slate and get to know someone via online messaging; it's a completely different ball game when they've got an upper hand on you and you have no idea how.

"Before I answer that, who are you?" I replied.

"I went through school with Emily."
"Yeah, I figured that. Who are you? Have we met?"

"No. We've never met. I was a few years younger than Emily so you and I never went to school together. I remember you coming around, though."

I found it (still do) interesting that this guy is probably within months of my brother's age but for some reason it seems thinks he only went to school with my sister. It's even more interesting when one considers that my brother and sister basically did everything together my brother's freshman year -- you really couldn't know one without the other. But, I digress.

As he was replying to me, I was reading through his profile. He's currently spending his time as a pizza delivery guy. He had hopes of either getting into a well-known music program or joining the military next year. He loves his family. Apparently one of the things he "can't live without" is a mint mojito.

If he's "a few years younger" than my sister, he's not legally old enough to drink.

I asked him about his drink of choice and he responded, "Oh, yeah! Love those!"

"But you're not old enough to drink," I emailed back.

"Well, no, but the ladies don't have to know that." He inserted a winky face for good measure.

"It says your age on your profile."

"Right. I had forgotten about that."

We had a few more one sentence emails back and forth which all consisted of me calling him out on different things on his profile. He eventually stopped responding. I still don't know his name or recognize his face.

This reminds me of my first year of teaching. A few friends and I went out to a bar in downtown to go dancing. I spotted a student of mine (he was a junior in high school) across the dance floor. Thankfully, I knew the bouncer from an environmental science class in college and got the situation taken care of. The kid was still talking about "finding whoever ratted him out" when he returned to school on Monday.

Some people. They're just simple. Bless their hearts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: My Life Problem, I Think.

Hey y'all! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

I spent the weeksbefore Christmas looking forward to lots of laughs with my family, some incredible eating provided by my grandmothers and my mom, and Cousin Time with the extensions of my soul. All of the cousins couldn't be together on my dad's side of the family because my aunt and uncle and their two offspring are currently stationed in South Korea, but all of the Originals were going to be in attendance (a few were bringing their significant others) and I just knew it was going to be a Christmas to remember.

And it was...but not because of the food or the Cousin Time...

But because of the fever, body aches, and sickness that has plagued my body for the past few days. No Cousin Time, no food, no laughter. Insert depressing sigh here...

I'm finally at the point that I can stand for more than ten minutes and personal hygiene is back on the list of priorities. I'm taking these all as good signs, though my diet is still basically water and Campbell's Chicken 'n' Rice Soup. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

But my current required love of Chicken 'n' Rice Soup is not why you're here.

I still haven't gone on any dates and I'm not really emailing with anyone promising. It's just an app on my phone for the moment.

I have, however, been doing some introspection.

This guy emailed me. I don't know his name so I'm going to call him Bob. According to Bob's profile, he's nothing like I'm looking for. I've learned that if guys lie about themselves online, they usually lie in their favor, so I'm thinking that everything that Bob is saying is legit. Meaning, he makes less than I do, he has a kid, he still lives with his parents, he graduated high school but hasn't attended any higher-level education. Oh, and did I mention he's 31?

Some of the things that I listed are not the end of the world. I'm willing to have a conversation if you have a kid. If you haven't gone onto higher-level education but you've done something meaningful with your life, great! You make less than I do...well, I'm a teacher. Are you a teacher, too? Because if you're a teacher, I can't date you for about a million different reasons. You still live with your parents? Um. Umm...we're gonna...well, um, we're gonna need to have another conversation. Especially if you're 31. 

I come from the school of belief that whomever you date should make you better. They should build you up and encourage you and point you on to greener pastures. They should have an understanding of your life and be able to your helpmate and your partner.

So, there's me.

I have my own house. I own my own car. I have a four-year college degree and am beginning to work on my Master's. I have a career and all of the baggage that comes with it. I have a supportive family and an incredible group of friends who have walked me through several stages of life and loved me in so many ways. Whoever walks into my life and expects to take on the challenge of dating me has big shoes to fill.

These shoes are not just the ones that my Daddy has walked in my whole life, but even more than that, the shoes that I've built myself. If you're going to come to table, you better bring something to share. Not to brag, but I'm a pretty good cook (realistically and metaphoricallly, in this sense) and you've gotta measure up. And these kinds of goods can't come from Harris Teeter (though there isn't a a girl alive who will say no to their Creme Cheese Frosted Brownies, amen!).

Before you enter into a relationship, you have to know what you're worth. You have to know what you're bringing to the table and what can be expected for the other person to bring to the table. At some point it needs to be an equal playing field.

Here's my life problem: I've gotta wait. Waiting for the guy who has it all isn't optional for me. I've figured out what I'm worth and that bill adds up. Second best isn't just first loser in this sense; it's completely a loss.

Bob, you have a great day. I hope with everything to that you find an amazing woman to walk along in life with you and to love your daughter. Unfortunately, I'm not that girl.

Monday, December 23, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: The Date Where I Fell Asleep

Yes, that title is true. I went on a date and I fell asleep. 

This date happened earlier this year, but since I have nothing new to share, I'm going back into the archives for some material.

The first time I was online dating, back in February, I received a message from a guy. He was nice and easy to talk to, he was also a high school teacher (as I was at the time) so we had plenty to talk about. This guy knew exactly what he wanted and he was going to go after it (read: me). We started messaging on a Saturday and he somehow talked me into going on a date that Monday, 48 hours later. 

For the life of me I cannot remember why, but I remember being very, very tired. It must have been an eventful weekend or maybe it was just a long day with students. Regardless, I was tired. Samuel still got me on a date.

I changed my clothes, put on date-appropriate shoes, refreshed my make-up, and headed out to the restaurant. Samuel lived in a neighboring county so we were splitting the difference in drive time. 35 minutes later, I showed up to the restaurant and he greeted me at the door.

I'm gonna be honest: my first impression was "Nope! Never gonna happen!" If I didn't think it was completely tactless, I would've Lemon Lawed him right then, right there (any HIMYM fans in the house?). Nevertheless, I went inside to dinner. By this time, I had perfected my first date spill: I have the best family in the world (insert a story or two about Lake Week or Christmastime), I love my job (tell either a story about my sassiest student or my most challenging student, depending on the mood), and traveling is a passion of mine (ever heard of the Middle East? Yeah, it changed my life). 

Then, I made the mistake of letting him talk. Well, the good news about this portion of the date was I was given the opportunity to eat my entire salad and plate of pasta without having to worry about talking with my mouth full. This. Kid. Could. Talk. Y'all. 

Do you remember how I said I was tired? Well, when I'm entertained I can push through the tiredness and stay alert. However, when my entertainment is monotoned and is unaware that he is repeating myself for about the fourth time, my eyes get a little heavy. I did my best to "Oh, really" and "Is that right?" and "Oh, wow!" in all of the right places. I started pinching myself in the wrist to try to keep alert.

Samuel excused himself from the table and my ears were happy to get a break. I laid my head in my hands, trying to think of how I could let this one down gently. He was so sweet but there was zero spark. Our sense of humors didn't really match up and it just wasn't right. It, that glorious It that every girl wants to find, simply wasn't there. 

I felt a hand on my back. It was Samuel announcing his return to the table. I jumped a mile high. He laughed and asked if he startled me.

Truth be told, what had startled me the most was the fact that Samuel had pulled me out of that twilight zone. I had fallen to sleep right there at the table. Head in my hands, my eyes had closed and I was slipping out of reality to catch some Zs. Thankfully, the restrooms were behind me, so I really don't think he noticed.

Blame it on the long weekend, blame it on a crappy Monday. It doesn't really matter what you blame it on, here's the truth: I went on a date and a fell asleep.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, happy dating :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: Decisions.

First, an apology: do you know those moments when you forget if the day is Tuesday or Wednesday? I did that last week, except I thought that Friday was Tuesday. Pulling two sixty-hour work weeks with my church's Christmas pageant on top of it made me hurt. I had to cross off my lesson plans so I wouldn't make copies for the wrong days!

Not blogging for two weeks was completely unintentional. It just kind of happened as the clock kept moving and there weren't enough hours in the day.

So much has happened since I last posted. Let's catch up!

The biggest thing would probably be my recent acceptance into graduate school at North Carolina State University! This is a move that I've been considering for about two years (seriously for a year) and decided to take a leap of faith and try. I got an email a few weeks ago letting me know that I was accepted and I've enrolled in my first class. I am beyond excited (and more than a bit nervous) about this new adventure. I will be studying Literacy Education for K-12. This will enable me to do small group education one day and to work one-on-one with struggling students.

And, yes, I am currently an educator in North Carolina. And, no, the news has not been lying to you about our current working conditions. However, my heart lies in my classroom and until there's no fight left in me, I'll keep fighting the good one.

On that note, I have survived twelve more days with my kiddos. Some moments I truly don't know how I did it. Others, I'm so in love with my job and the little people I get to work with that I could weep for joy.

My church's Christmas pageant was last weekend and my amazing drama team rocked it! I loved working with that group of people and seeing them all come together as one. 

That's enough about me...let's talk about dating!

Unfortunately, I have no jolly good news to share on that front. Even though I haven't been faithful with the blogging, I have been faithful with the online dating. For the most part, these guys are weird.

However, there is Chad.

Chad messaged me about three weeks ago with an interest to know about growing up in a small town (a little factoid I share about myself on my profile). We started chatting about large families and he told me about growing up across the United States (military family). We shared Thanksgiving traditions -- it was a week before the holiday -- and I regaled him with stories of my students who had truly lost their minds on account of the upcoming five-day break. 

Our emails haven't been consistent recently; regardless, they happen. 

Chad is also the oldest of three and while his family spreads over multiple state lines, they're very close. He works at his dream job and loves doing things in the woods. I'm gonna be honest, y'all, I don't do nature, but I'm all about a man who wants to spend his time outdoors. You wear that plaid, honey!

You couldn't see it, but I just snapped my fingers in a "Can I get a witness?" fashion. Moving on...

Here's the thing about Chad, though, guys: he doesn't love Jesus.

My parents had this saying when my siblings and I were growing up: "Don't wait until you have to make a decision to make it." Meaning, you need to decide the answers to the serious questions before you get caught in the situation. If you wait until you're handed the cigarette to decide if you want to be a smoker or not, you're more than likely going to become one. If you're already in the backseat with the guy...well, bless your heart.

A year ago I dated a guy who I thought hung the moon. He gave me the tingles and challenged me and made me think and listened really well. However, I knew from our first date that we weren't going to be a forever kind of thing. He was too wishy-washy in his beliefs and I firmly believe in being equally yoked. I tricked myself into thinking other things because I was too busy admiring his beard and holding his hand, but I knew the entire time that the situation would do nothing but end with a broken heart on my end. 

If I had held on to my convictions a year ago,  a lot of things would be different. I've learned to learn from history because it will surely repeat itself.

As much as he makes me laugh and as much as I like talking about all of our travel adventures, Chad's gotta go.

Somewhere out there is a man with a beard and soul that loves Jesus. The plan is to wait for him, and I'm gonna stick with the plan.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2nd.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Two years ago, I woke up in my aunt and uncle's house in Georgia. My uncle was going to be honored at a changing of command ceremony, where he turned his battalion over to another commanding officer. His time at Fort Gordon was up, and my parents and I had headed down to Georgia to be with him during this special time.

I watched Uncle Doug be honored and go through the ceremony -- the likes of which I had never seen anywhere else -- and afterwards we headed out for a family meal at Logan's Roadhouse. Those rolls were so good.

I was wearing a green sweater with a new purple scarf that I just bought the week before especially for this occasion. I dropped some barbeque sauce on the right arm of the sweater during lunch. The stain is still there. I was wearing some high heels that day, too.

As we were walking out of the restaurant, my phone rang -- I was still rockin' the purple BlackBerry -- and my caller ID told me that my CBSP sister Holly was calling me. I figured she was probably raising support for her job with Campus Crusade, so I figured I would pick up the phone, tell her I was busy, and call back later.

"Hey, Miss Holly! How's it -- "

"Bekah." Holly is one of the most upbeat people you'll ever meet. She doesn't end sentences with periods. It's usually an exclamation point.

"What. What's wrong?"

"Bekah. Travis is dead."

I know that my hip bone is connected to my leg bone and my leg bone is connected to my foot bone, but I couldn't remember where my feet were at that moment. I took a step forward to try to balance myself and I chastised myself once again for how bad of an idea my heels were that day.

"HE'S WHAT!" I yelled into the phone.

Travis was overseas. Travis was telling people about Jesus. Travis was having an adventure. Travis isn't dead.

"Travis is dead."

Holly kept talking and saying things. She explained to me how he was found in his bedroom and she said other words, too. I don't remember any of them. The sun was really bright, I do remember that. My family was hollering for me to get in the car; they didn't know that I was trying to process the most life-altering information I had ever been given.

Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead.

The next thing I remember is being in the car with my grandparents and cousins. My mom was in the other car and was texting me if I had anymore information on my friend who had been injured.

No, Mom. I typed. He's not injured. Travis is dead.

My phone started ringing. Julia. Kerianne. My phone kept ringing. My sister. Jessica. Will.

I started calling people and asking what they knew. Information gets jumbled when we're relaying it across the ocean and then multiple state lines.

I called numbers I hadn't called in years -- Jill, Kelsey, Makenly -- and relayed the news over and over again: Travis is dead. Our brother has died. Our family won't be whole again.

Over the next few days, I didn't cry. I didn't want to feel anything, so I just turned into a robot. I went to work, gave my kids worksheets, sat at my desk, and stared out the window. I began to search for places in Travis' hometown to rent so we could all be together for the funeral and I looked up who had the cheapest flights for last-minute bookings to fly in our friends from outside driving distance.

A newspaper article from Travis' hometown made it public knowledge that he was dead. More than that, the article made it public knowledge that someone had killed Travis. What we had heard was an accident, a malfunction of his heater to cause an overdose of carbon monoxide, was actually murder.

Kerianne sent me a text saying "Julia says Travis's death wasn't an accident." I called her and she read me the article -- Travis was suffocated, found with a plastic bag over his head. I was driving down 440 heading back to The Manor. Wanna talk about distracted driving? I'll take your fighting six-year-olds in the backseat any day. She read me the article, and I held in my emotions. I went to The Manor, let out the dog, called My Kelsey and sped the two miles to her house.

I screamed. I cried. I screamed. I pulled out a few strands of hair. I said a lot of four-letter words. I screamed. I'm pretty sure I terrified My Lauren. I pounded my fists in her couch and on her floor. I felt everything for the first time in two weeks. It hurt like hell. I know what evil feels like, smells like. What the bile of it tastes like.

Someone murdered Travis.

I know someone else who was murdered.

They put nails in His hands, and stuck needles and thorns into His head. They whipped Him with chains made of broken glass and animal teeth. They raised His body up for all to see. They spit on Him, called Him names. Made fun of Him. They stripped Him of His clothes and humiliated Him. He is their Savior, and they crucified him like a criminal.

Travis didn't have to die. Someone else made that decision for him.

Jesus did have to die. He made that decision for Himself according to the will of His Father.

Jesus died so that Travis' death could mean something. Jesus died so that Travis' life could mean even more.

I am a public school teacher. I'm not supposed to talk about Jesus. However, when my kids see a picture of their Mama Sandy and some guy, they get curious. I answer their questions and I tell them about how Travis was the good one -- I swear he never got angry or frustrated. He had the patience of a saint. I tell them that the picture was taken my sophomore year of college at a dance that Travis and I went to together. We laughed a lot that night. The reason the picture is so old is because Travis died before we could take anymore. I tell them that he died because he loved Someone more than himself: Jesus.

Thanks to Travis' story I've told more of my kids about Jesus than I ever could before.

One of my most vivid memories of Travis is during the weekend we were all up in Kentucky for that dance. We were talking about when the next time all of us would get together and that we were sad to have to leave. We knew it was going to be a while before we could reconvene. Travis said, "Don't worry, you guys. Eventually everyone will start getting married and those can be our reunions!"

Weddings did bring us together a time or two, but our biggest reunion to date was for Travis' funeral.

Travis' entire existence had purpose. In life, his purpose was to make Jesus known. In death, his purpose is to leave a legacy that helps me make Jesus known. 

Travis' life didn't end in death. He is more alive in this moment than I will ever feel on this earth. Travis' story isn't over. When life is in Jesus, it's eternal. I celebrate that Travis' death on this earth was simply a stepping stone to Glory. I celebrate that he ran the race well and finished to hear, "Well done, My good and faithful servant."  I celebrate knowing that my Clearwater family is only separated here in this world, but will soon be reunited on streets of gold.

Hallelujah. Thank You, Jesus.