Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Decade!


On the eve of New Years, 2009:

I was eight years old when the big 2000 came around. At the prompting of my parents, I can faintly remember what I was doing that night the ball dropped, and everyone held their breaths waiting for computers to fail.
Throughout the last 10 years, I've counted ahead to the year of my graduation.
"2010! Wow, how far away that is!"

The last 10 years have brought new friends, and birthed deeper friendships with those I've had since before I can remember. I've had killer birthday parties, bummer moments, and many great opportunities.
Thinking back (as far as I can remember) into the last decade, one thing sticks out in my head above the rest.
I've learned to love music.


Growing up, I never understood the point of music. Sure, I was that kid that knew all the oldie songs (thanks to my dad) and could sing "Yellow Submarine" or "Brown Eyed Girl" until something else, just as annoying or catchy, popped into my head.
I didn't get the core of music. Part of that probably was due to mere immaturity.

Regardless, I owe my love of music to Lee and Justin Gaupp. They showed me the heart of hardcore, the love behind lyrics, and the symbolism of symphony. Their ever-increasing taste for tunes inspired me to develop a music palette of my own, and it has since grown to include artists from nearly every genre.

Much has happened in my life since that realization. I've grown, and grieved. I've loved, and laughed.
Through everything, however, one band has remained close to my heart. Because of their lyrics? Partially. Because of their amazing performances? Incompletely. Because of their heart? Now we're talking.






From Wikipedia:

The band's name is an acronym for "Multi-sensory Aesthetic Experience,"
From their website:
Multi-Sensory Aesthetic Experience
is the study of sensation, perception,
emotion, and meaning in art and music.
Mae started in 2001, released their first album, Destination: Beautiful, in 2003 through Tooth and Nail Records, and have since released a total of six albums- with a seventh on the way, and have taken up the weight of a label all their own, called Cell Records. Their goal is to connect with people, and to do so through all of the senses. Their concerts are an amazing ensemble of music and video synced together to form not only an entertaining show, but an experience that will stick in your mind, make you think, and touch your heart. They are a concrete mix of lighter Alternative Rock to solid Rock.
To me, Mae is about more then music, they're about life. I've listened to them during the most depressing days, and during the brightest moments. When I hear a song, it's more than music. It's experiences, individual moments, and memories laced together with the needle and thread of harmony. I can see my past behind me, and I get a glimpse of the future before me. And, most important of all, it helps give me context for where I am now. This year, especially, their albums (m)orning and (a)fternoon have hit me right where I'm at. Life is a journey. I am in process. And Love is the most important thing to hold on to.

Perhaps one of their shirts says it best:

This decade has brought a smile to my face, and tears to my eyes, as has Mae. This decade has helped me realize that growing up is more then watching the years go by. Mae has given me a soundtrack for that realization.
I think that we've got what it takes, to get this heart start beating again.
So take it all the way.
Whoa, whoa.
And our hearts are on The Everglow.
So just let go and fall into it.

May this next decade be prosperous and incredibly real for you. May you grow, change, and draw near to Papa.

Colin






If it interests you,
check out what Mae is doing now. Give them a listen. Particularly, go buy The Everglow, followed by (m)orning.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas and a New Season

Merry Christmas!
Or day after Christmas, I suppose.

I really wanted to do some kind of Holiday post about good cheer, cookies, Santa, and presents. Every time I'd try to clear my thoughts and whip out my blogging device, however, I'd draw a blank. No accidents, I figured, and I let my dad hold down the blogging fort.

And now, Christmas has left the plate and New Years is up to bat.

I'm currently in the back of my parents Saturn Vue on the I-15 headed South to Salt Lake City, then on through Vegas. My dad and mom are talking in the front, and I've got my headphones, laptop, and Internet card in the back seat. Our ultimate destination is Palm Springs, California for some extended family visiting.
And I think I'm ready to write a bit about my mixed feelings this Holiday season.


This year has been painful, no doubt. I've written about it plenty before. Thanksgiving proved especially difficult, because, well, it's hard to to give thanks when there's not much to be thankful for. Then again, it really did put in perspective what I do have to be thankful for. You can read about that here.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, no doubt. I love everything that goes with it: decorating my family Christmas tree, setting up the little village on our chimney, putting up the lights with my dad, drinking my mom's delicious homemade egg nog, enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book by the fireplace, and most of all: Christmas morning. I love waking up to the presents, hugging my parents and whispering "Merry Christmas." The stockings are always opened first in my house: we each open our stocking at the same time, pausing every few gifts to look at each other's winnings. After stockings, my mom generally has some kind of small breakfast cooked up. This year it was cinnamon rolls, and man did they taste good with the coffee she brewed up. The presents came next, and because I'm the youngest, I got to hand them all out. This year my cousin Dannie came and opened presents with my family; she was an awesome addition. Every year I pass out a present to each person, and we take turns opening in some kind of orderly fashion. This particular year we did oldest to youngest. Every present is appreciated, and none are taken for granted. We hug each other and laugh plenty.

My family has traditions built around relationship and love.

And this year, one of the stockings remained hanging above the fireplace. Empty.

Papa, what are you doing?

My family made the decision this year, at the prompting of my sister, to remember my brother for who he was in his entirety. Now this may sound all fine and dandy to you, but you probably didn't know my brother. There is a lot of hurt in my family from things he said, things he did, and tension he caused. For my sister, the bad memories outweigh the good. For me, some of the earliest memories of my brother are of him lying, deceiving, and yelling at my parents. For my parents, they raised a fun-loving beautiful boy who turned into a drug-addict trouble producing man.
It's really easy to Saintify someone when they die. It's a lot harder to acknowledge who they were in their entirety.

But something that's hit home for me this year is that, in the grand scheme of things, what I DO really holds little worth. If I could DO my way into Heaven, there would have been no reason for Baby Jesus to make his manger appearance.
What I'm beginning to see now is that the coin has two sides.

How often do I find myself holding on to my actions as if they are what defines me? In reality, who I am in Christ is all that really holds weight.
For my brother, his actions would have sent him to Hell. Who he was in Christ made all the difference, eternally.


Looking over at that empty stocking on Christmas morning was not easy. Neither was sitting around the table saying a bad memory I had about my brother.
For all of his imperfections, and everything he DID that was awful, the person who he WAS, was amazing. And, as the case could certainly be made, the person he IS, is even more incredible.
Christmas was hard, but it was good.

And now, it's about time to celebrate the onset of 2010. For me, next year will hold all kinds of changes, not the least of which is the transition for High School to College. And something I've learned from this year is that no matter what I do, what happens to me, and what changes I go through, God is the same. Yesterday, today, and forever baby. He's where it's at: the Alpha and the Omega. He's Love, and He loves me. Insecurity and fear begone, Jesus dwells in my heart, life. Next year is going to be incredible not because of what I do, but who I am in Him.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas, and that your New Year's Celebration is full of fun!

Colin

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The One Year Anniversary of Ground Shaking


This year has been
changing
incredible
devastating
life changing
life halting
unbelievable
frustrating
real.

This blog has been one of the best outlets for me to process, share, grieve, be real, and have some fun.

And today marks the one year anniversary of Ground Shaking. One year! As I reflect on the many, many posts I've written, I can't help but reminisce. Reading posts from a different stage in my life really gives insight into how far I've come in this last year.

Thank you so much for reading. Thank you for participating in discussion, and for processing ideas and thoughts along side me. Some of you have been around from the very beginning, and some of you are reading this post as your very first. Either way, thank you for being a part of Ground Shaking.

And what of that name? Ground Shaking. A long time ago, I wrote:
'Ground Shaking' is a direct result of what I believe my purpose in life to be. Haha, I know right? That's a pretty intense statement. In all seriousness though, I've put a ton of thought and prayer into this aspect of my life. I've been challenged to think and re-think. Eventually, I was able to land on a one sentence phrase which I believe sums up my purpose. My purpose is to be an earthquake for Christ. I know that as time goes on, how I define my purpose will probably be sanded down and polished. It may even be broken in two and completely re-made. As I stand now, however, this is what I believe my purpose to be.
This year has proven to be both sand paper and polishing rag.

So, how has my definition of 'Ground Shaking' changed in the last year? In a few ways.
  • I no longer see it as an act necessarily. Being a Ground Shaker doesn't require an action on my part- it's who I am.
  • My effectiveness as being a Ground Shaker largely depends not on how I appear, or my surroundings. Rather, it depends on my being secure in who I am, and being 100% real in that environment.
  • Love is an integral part of being a Ground Shaker, and Papa is Love.
  • Ground Shaking doesn't necessarily mean speaking up because I feel I have to. Many times, it means listening and sincerely asking questions.
On this blog, I've shared my best times, and my worst times. Thank you for your discussion and thoughts as I've continued to develop what being a Ground Shaker means.

It's a process. Life, I mean. I'm in it, your in it, the President is in it, that guy on the corner holding a sign is in it. We're all in process. Just as this first year of my blog has held the best and worst of experiences, I anticipate this next year will hold amazing times, and frustrating periods. My life will, inevitably, change in the next year, and I will have things cross my path that are completely unexpected. What I'm beginning to realize is that all of that is simply a part of the process.

This I do know: Papa is especially fond of me. He loves me how I am, and is excited for who I am becoming. As much as He loves what I am interested in and what I do, He cares so much more for who I am. His love outweighs all the hate in the world, and his peace calms the most fearsome of storms.
He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is Love. He is.

The only reason I can have any impact on this world- ANY IMPACT- is because of Him. I am, because He is.

Fascinating how that works.

Am I a Ground Shaker? Yes.
And, I am only this because He has created me this way, and loves me how I am.

May this next year of blogging be even more terrific, profound, fun, ridiculous, and full of love.

Thanks for tagging along with me! Here's to a great start of year two!

Colin

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful


As I looked back at my blog posts, I realized this is my very first time blogging about Thanksgiving. Very cool, and very interesting.

To be honest, I feel like I don't have much to be thankful for this year.
My brother died. My grandma died.
If anything, this is the year I probably have the most reason to NOT be thankful for anything.

My family has a tradition at Thanksgiving. We each have a candle clipped on to our plate. One person starts with their candle lit, and they say one thing they are thankful for. They then use their candle to light the candle of the person sitting next to them. This continues until the entire table is ablaze with thankfulness- only then do we begin the meal.
In past years I remember wanting to get on with it so that I could taste the beautiful dark meat of the turkey, and the gravy-topped mashed potatoes. When my turn came to say what I was thankful for, I remember saying the normal things: "my family," "my friends," or "a great year" were classics. I wasn't being a selfish kid, I simply was taking for granted everything that should have meant something in my life. Taking for granted the very thing that made the food on the table possible. Ironic.

In many ways I feel like my response to the thankfulness candle this year could simply be "pass." I've got the excuses and the reasons to be sure. In fact, my family as a whole has every reason to give a big resounding "pass" to the question of thankfulness in 2009.

But I don't think that's at all what Thanksgiving is all about.

The Pilgrims who originally celebrated Thanksgiving weren't giving thanks for the easy situations, simple problems, and "safety", they were giving thanks for avoided fatalities, survival, and friendship. They were giving thanks for what little they had.

History put aside, can I honestly put on a sour face during Thanksgiving? Can I honestly spit in Papa's face for all the relationships he's given me this year? Can I, in good conscience, go pout in the corner and let every joyful moment of the past year slip my mind? No, I really can't.

Is it true that shitty events have taken place in the life of Colin Mansfield this year? Undoubtedly.
And yet, I have so much to be thankful for.

  • One year anniversary of dating my girlfriend, Kona Estes.
  • My nephew, Cole, who will be turning two this January.
  • A dog who, despite losing both of her eyes this year, remains happy as a puppy.
  • True friends who have incredible senses of humor, will pray with me when I need it, and will tell me to shut the hell up when I need it.
  • An amazing sister. Words can't describe how much she means to me, and how much closer we've gotten this year.
  • A real relationship with Papa. I used to know him as my God. Now he's more, he's my daddy.
  • The realization of what Love is. And who Love is.
This is in no way a complete list, or even the start of one.

I really do have loads to be thankful for. And, like the Pilgrims, much of it has come through looking through the lense of loss.

This year, when I get the candle passed to me, I won't have to say pass. Nor will I feel inclined to say any old thing because the turkey is calling my name.
This year, I'll be able to speak with the knowledge that I have so much to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Colin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I've got a feeling

That you're really going to like this video.





Colin

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thoughts on Sunday


When I think of Sunday, a few things come to mind.
First, naturally, church.
Second, hanging out with my family. Normally this is breakfast after church, talking over the week's events, and laughing alot.
Third, relaxing. A great Sunday, in my mind, consists of sweatpants, dinosaur slippers, a good book or laptop, and (in the colder months) a fire roaring nearby.

Isn't it interesting that the first thing that I think of is church? The American culture has almost sold church as a "must do." It's like, if you want to feel good the rest of the week, you should go to church. Get your god face on, sing a bit, space out, then head home to kick back and let the good times roll.
Obviously something is wrong with this picture.

Some would argue that church itself is the issue. Atheists may say that church attempts to copy that community which families naturally share together already. This artificial ecosystem, they might say, only breeds a gross copy of the original.
On the other side of the spectrum, Jesus-loving Christians might say that the real problem with church is that the building is often filled with fake, mask-wearing, judgmental people. For a church to work, they might say, people must realize that the church building isn't really the Church. Some might even say that church is entirely unnecessary for the Church to exist.

I'm being real here: I really am not 100% sure where I lie in this spectrum of opinion. I would love to say that I know where I stand, what I believe, and that I have the Bible verses to prove it. But I don't.
I'm in process.

What I know (or think I know):
I know I'm not an atheist. I know that many people find value in even the most dysfunctional of churches. I know there are people who feel closer to God in the most religious of buildings, and really can't focus with roaring guitars and a huge sanctuary with overhead screens. I'm close to people who have stepped away from "church" altogether, in order that they might embrace BEING the Church. I see value in that as well.

I know that I don't like feeling like I should go to church on Sunday. On the other hand, I know that the things I don't want to do can be those that produce the most value. I understand that obligation does not breed love, but I'm not sure if love can breed obligation. I know hierarchy is the natural human response to disorder, but I also know that the Holy Spirit can reveal herself like the most wild, disorderly thing there is. I also know I probably offended someone by calling the Holy Spirit a her.

What are your thoughts?


So much to think about, so little time to process.
Well, for now, I will enjoy my Sunday.

Here, have some Calvin and Hobbes:
http://digitalconversations.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/calvinacademiahereicome.jpg

Colin

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Re Blog: Church Alumni

This post is taken from Captain's Blog. View the original post here.

Last week I was interviewed by Recycle {Your Faith} ministry about my current story and thoughts on corporate church. An hour and a half session was clipped into three minutes. Oh my! It is scary to put your thoughts down on tape knowing that someone could edit your comments to make you look other than what is in your heart to share. I'm glad I trusted Craig. I think he did a great job with a dicey topic and an amateur interviewee.

Recycle {Your Faith} produces short videos that are designed to be shown at small groups to introduce topics for discussion. I wonder what dialog will come out of this!

Click here to see the video Craig titled, "Church Alumni."

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Great Romance

So God created us in His image, and He is love.

We are created in the image of Love.

God created us for relationship; with Him first, then with each other.

How does this romance work?

Men naturally will defend women, without thinking.

In the Bible, we are likened to the bride, and Christ to the bridegroom seeking after his bride.

Just as men will naturally protect and care for women, God will naturally protect and care for us.

And with danger looming, how much more?

What would happen if everything we look at: the trees, our jobs, board meetings, donuts, our spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend, related to this Great Romance?

Not like all connected, but all depending.

What would happen if we're not just affected by God's Love, but we depend on It?

The closer we draw to Him, into the arms of our Papa, the further we get from darkness, hurt, fear, and pain.

Papa, draw me close.

Colin

Thursday, November 5, 2009

From DC to Annapolis to Philly to West Point

Today was a whirlwind of the best kind.
Right now I'm on the East Coast with my dad, and let me tell you it's been a blast!




We flew into DC last night and immeadiatly went to the White House and Capitol building...at 1:30am! It was an awesome experience to be sure. After done with our late night adventure, we took the 45min drive to Annapolis and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. A great start.




Today was awesome. I've never done anything like it before; seen so many tourist and classic American spots in one day! Starting on Annapolis, we grabbed bfast at Carrol's then headed over to the Naval Academy to look around, and, as a Go Army family, urinate on the parade grounds. Ok, maybe we didn't :) all the same, USNA was a cool sight to see and place to experience. After visiting the gift shop, it was back in the car.



East Coast countryside is beautiful to drive past. Brilliant trees, ground moist from fall drizzle, beautiful sky.
But Philly is a whole other world.

If you were to take New York City, give it a traditional feel, get rid of the huge buildings, and make the people have REAL attitude, you'd get Philly. Let's just for comparing them to NY I'd probably get shot.
So, we did the rounds. Cheese Steak at Jim's was the biggest must-have, so we went there first. I got a steak sandwich with whiz and onions, and it totally hit the spot. :) something beautiful about eating Philly Cheese Steak...in Philly! Also, we got to see the bar featured in the movie 'Invincible' (pictured).



And now, back in the car, we're headed to West Point in NY! Tomorrow will consist of Touring USMA, then heading into NYC for some Little Italy goodness.

This has been so amazing! I totally can't wait for the days to come! We'll be headed back through Philly to sight see, then to DC for some touring before heading back home.
If ya want to follow my trip, head over to http://Twitter.com/ColinMansfield

Colin

My Dad and I in Annapolis!





Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rescuing the Damsel in Distress


What has become of my generation?

Guys treating ladies like trash, girls showing themselves off like trophies to be won. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I take one class at a public high school. Walking down the halls on any given day, I'm astounded at what I see. Gentleman! What kind of monsters have we become? Ladies! Where did the innocence go? The insecurity flows like an ocean tide, filling up the entire building until all that is left and felt is a current of emotions, chief of which is lust.

Oh man! My heart just weeps! So many girls without fathers, without someone who has actually loved them in their life. Looking for a guy to fill them up and make them feel wanted. A guy to just hold them and accept them for who they are. A guy to hold their hand, loan them their sweatshirt, kiss them on the nose. These girls, looking for a love to just BE with them instead get-

Guys! You make me ashamed to walk in the midst of a crowd of females at a school. Where did the expectations of being a "tough guy" come from? Where did the arrogance and fake self-assurance come from? You think you're so cool? You think you're so tough? Try being a gentleman, even for a second. You go to parties, drink, do drugs-all just to show off how cool you are. Try taking the harder road for even one day!

Honestly, I'm pretty disgusted at this whole Twilight thing. It's not the books that kill me. It's not the storyline or the characters or the premise. I get the whole vampire thing. I even get making that in to a romantic story. Here's what I don't get: WHY DOES OUR SOCIETY INSIST ON FOCUSING ON INSECURITY? Can't you see? Don't you understand? Are you so blinded?

JESUS LOVES YOU!!!


Girl's, you don't need to be filled with a guy. You don't need a boyfriend. You need Papa's love. And He is so here to give it to you.

Guys, you don't need to filled up by chicks, porn, or partying. Papa loves you the way He made you: a warrior and lover for Him.


We are the Damsel in Distress, and God is our rescuer. We are the bride, and He is the Bridegroom. God loves us, cares for us, seeks us, woos us, fights for us, defends us. He is here for us in EVERY fashion and in EVERY conceivable way.

I'm speaking to my generation.
Papa loves us so much. He hugs us in His warmth and joy, and has created us to love each other. Why do you resist such great love? Why do you try to find this love in the wrong way? It's all right here, right in front of us.
God is rescuing us, the Damsel.

But then again, who am I to talk? Who am I to judge? I'm just as sick as the rest of my generation- hypocritical, distracted, and seeking the Love of the Creator. Jesus, would you heal my heart?

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Let those words of the Psalmist ring true in my life.

Papa! Hear the cry of my heart! Don't you see what my generation is going through? Don't you see the broken households, the unloved, the depressed? Lord, save us. But, even more importantly, Love us; for what is salvation without Your Love?


A groan from the heart of Colin

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of The Deepest Things in Life: Love, Happiness, and Coffee.


This is a story I wrote for an English paper. I really liked the way it turned out, and thought I would share it! Don't mind the underlined words, they were a requirement for the class. Also, don't mind the font changes. Word doesn't like copy & paste. :)

Let me know what you think!


In 1974 it was built, a coffee shop from the beginning. Its basement had been designed as a roasting floor, and the top level was a cafĂ©- not unlike those of today. It was a pioneer in this department; not many coffee shops existed then. It wasn’t until the mid-80’s that it gained what we would call “espresso” now. The building found itself in the hands of a new owner, and the shop found itself with a new name. People would come in, get their specialty coffee, stay and talk a while, then exit and continue on with their lives. The building saw life open up before it: friendships forming, breaking news being read, love blossoming in one corner of the room while it withered in the other. Dramatically, the coffee shop saw all this and more: the transformation of technology as newspapers turned into laptops and books turned into eReaders. The wooden seats gave way to couches. Years would pass. Like the people, the seasonal coffees would come and go. Newcomers would become regulars, young students would become middle aged people, and the store would pass from owner to owner. Employees came and went nearly as often as those buying coffee. The shop even found itself under a “Green Mermaid” for a time- which also passed. The sun rose and fell, and still the coffee shop remained. The aromatic stench of Arabica beans roasting greeted passerby’s nostrils each morning. Entering the building, one found themselves greeted not only by the smell, but by the sight: tan walls with brown crown molding, lights shining through butcher paper providing an affectionately peaceful glow, and baristas greeting them with warm smiles and warm brews.

This story revolves around the events of one day in the life of one such barista. This coffee shop which Mike works in, tells a thousand stories of life, love, passion, peace, conversation, and people. This is the climax of all these things in Mike’s life; all brought about because one girl walked into the shop on a sunny afternoon in October, not too long ago. Mike purposefully reached down and pushed the doors open. Since he should probably unlock them before attempting to apply any further force, he grabbed his keys, put them in the lock, and opened the door. Making his way across the dark room, he reached the light switch and flipped it. In their typical half hazard fashion, the dreary-dust-colored lights sprung to life. Mike shrugged the backpack he had been carrying off, as he grabbed it with his free hand, then violently threw it into the employee’s closet with unnecessary force. Reluctantly moving to his spot behind the counter, he started the typical morning activities.
After working so long in the coffee business, all five years he’d been in college, Mike had grown generally numb to the typical tasks of the day. Initially the job held awe and wonder for a fresh-out-of-high-school student. He had mastered the various parts of creating the perfect cup of black bean juice quick enough. It didn’t even take him that long to learn all the regular’s names and drinks. Yet, after so many years of doing the same thing, Mike was tired. Grabbing the house coffee thermos, he put it under the drip machine. Then, grabbing a filter, he slid out the hatch on the drip machine where he would insert the grinds. Throwing the filter into the contraption, he slid it under the coffee grinder, then turned the grind switch to the ‘on’ position. Crunched between their mighty slices, the blades immediately began to grrrriind the coffee beans. Mike stepped back and looked at the room. Same dusty colored walls, same old couches, same sticky counters. Click. The coffee stopped grinding. Mike grabbed the drip contraption and, sliding it from the coffee grinder, he inserted it back into the mighty drip machine. Grabbing a pitcher, he poured the right amount of water into the hatch which was located above the coffee grinds. The machine began brewing the coffee on its own accord; Mike waited for the first drips of the medium house blend, then moved the coffee thermos so that the drips fell into its depths. In this same manner, Mike went about preparing the shop in the tediously detailed ways only a barista can. Shari, his coworker for the day, showed up right before the first customer. Mike had never really liked people who ordered coffee. “Now don’t get me wrong,” he would say to his friends, “I love making coffee. It’s the people that kill me! They’re so snobbish and stuck up. It’s like being a limo driver- people don’t really want to see you, because they just want what you have to offer. On top of that, you get to drive around in a limo all day but never actually get to experience the limo. ”
As the first customer approached, Mike shot out a “Good morning! What can I get for ya?”
The man replied, “Uh, yeah hi. I’d like a quad Americano with about a half inch of cream and two Splenda.”
At this, Mike would normally respond with a Sure thing, but decided to switch it up a bit today. What’d he have to lose?
“Do you want me to throw a couple extra shots in that for ya, or will four do it?”
The man looked at Mike, rolled his eyes, and didn’t respond.
“Right, quad Americano coming up.”

After the man left, Mike checked his tip jar. Despite his antics, the guy had still tipped $.75. Not bad. Mike’s favorite was when some idiot would tip three cents after a perfectly normal interaction. Being a barista, Mike understood that the biggest insult wasn’t not tipping, it was tipping an incredibly low amount. Favorably for him, the man had avoided a sin which was unforgivable in most coffee circles. At least he wasn’t a complete moron.

Mike often described his life in shades of sepia. “How was your day?” People would ask him. “Oh, it was fine.” would be his response, without hesitation, and almost without fail. Although not completely in unrest, Mike was lukewarm. He was flimsy in regards to just about anything you can think of. His opinions were wet noodles. The only thing he knew for sure was that he liked making coffee. This shop, what with its bustle of senses made him feel like he had his life in order. All he had to do was down an espresso shot, and look around the room. The coffee, which was thick on his palette, reminded him of the unsuccessful pick up lines the guy in the back was using on the lady he sat next to. The smell of the coffee in the air mixing with assorted pastries smelled almost as good as that lady’s perfume who just walked by. The smooth middle of the shot on his central tongue was as solid as the man’s intellect in the corner; you could almost feel the paper between his fingers as he turned the page in the latest novel he was devouring. The grand finale of the coffee, with its aromatic and fruity finish, reminded him of the hordes of people who brought their laptops throughout the day: typing, typing typing, as if they were taking notes on a subject they just knew they were going to fail the test on. Honestly, Mike enjoyed the bustle of the day because it kept him from seeing his own life, from having to deal with his own issues. Mike was living in a state of apathy.

When noon rolled around, Mike, who decided not to take his customary lunch break to Zen Bento stayed and took advantage of the employee discount on parmesan bagels. This act alone would forever change Mike’s life, for just as he would be leaving the store a young woman walked into the shop. Peering around the room, she looked Mike directly in the eyes. Down the middle of the coffee shop, she walked, never breaking the glance, straight to the ordering counter. Like a mythological siren. “I got this one,” Mike said to Shari. Then, to the girl, “Can I help you?”

---------------------

Sam pushed the doors of the coffee shop open. She stopped at the entrance, and looked around the room. Beautifully colored walls, a rich cream color with dark oak crown molding. Giving off a beautiful golden hue, the lights seemed inviting and calm. Even the floor, a shining bullion color, seemed to radiate peace and happiness. Sam walked in, completely stoked to grab a cup of coffee from such a quaint shop. Looking towards the register, her eyes met those of a dark haired man. He wasn’t entirely handsome, and yet had something mysterious about him. This was someone who had gone through much in his life. This was someone with a story, a past. This was someone who, given enough time, could be your best friend, someone’s ultimate safe house of confidence. This guy, given the right circumstances, would build a wonderful life with wonderful people to support him. By the time all this had gone through Sam’s head she was already at the register. She saw the brown-haired guy whisper something to the other girl behind the counter, while standing there. Then,
“Can I help you?”
“I’d sure hope so!” was all she could think to say. “I mean, you’re the barista and everything. I’ll never be able to make coffee like you!” Why was she stumbling over her words?
“Ok…” said the man, “Well then, what can I get for ya?”
“I’m not entirely sure. What’s good?”
“Pretty much everything. You partial to anything in particular?”
“I like my coffee like I like my men. Rich and black.” Oh man, the joke slipped out.
He chuckled, then straightened back up as if she hadn’t said anything.
“Just finished brewing the house blend. You want some?”
“Sounds as good as anything. Could you leave some room for cream?”
“Sure thing.”

---------------------

Rich and black? Really? Wow.
Mike liked this girl- mostly because she seemed like the type of person who would be easy to talk to. Probably the type of person who always had a tight group of friends in high school. The type of person, although exactly opposite from him, someone he would like to relate to. As he turned back around, she asked a question that caught him completely off guard.

---------------------

“Are you happy?”
Sam said the words before she even thought about their implications.
“Excuse me?”
“Happy. Are you happy?”
Quickly reacting, he said “I guess so.” Then smiled, “I get to make coffee all day- who wouldn’t want that, right?” No sarcasm, but a definite undertone of spite.
“Yeah, I see what you mean. How about this, what is it that you love doing?”
“Love?” responded Mike.
“Yeah, love. You know, opposite of hate. Overused word too many guys whisper into the ears of high school sweet hearts. Love.”
Both chuckled at this.
“I guess I’ve never really thought about it.” Said Mike, “love is one of those things that’s always been ambiguous to me. I guess my life has been a series of moment-by-moment decisions.”
“So you’ve never considered love in your thinking process?” asked Sam.
“I guess not, no.” responded Mike.
“Give it a shot sometime. You might find you like it.” Sam winked, then turned away, coffee in hand.

---------------------

The conversation had been odd. Deep, to be sure, if not a bit awkward. He had grabbed her a cup of the house coffee, tossed in the cream, all without even paying attention to his actions. His mind had been fully engaged in her questions; in her. How was it one girl had captured his attention so suddenly? And yet it wasn’t truly her, although her sandy hair and blue eyes definitely played into it, it was her questions. Who talked about happiness? Love? Were these things to discuss over a mere purchase of a house coffee? As she turned away, he noticed she left her money on the counter to pay for the drink. When he looked up, she was halfway to the door. Gliding, like an angel. “An angel? Yeah, an angel” thought Mike. Straightening his posture, he darted around the counter, lungs bringing in the coffee-laden air in quick intakes. Suddenly, he could feel the sticky mixture of sweat and coffee grounds on his fingertips- he smelled like all-purpose cleaner, he just knew it. Why so self conscious all of a sudden? Moving with a purpose, yet not totally sure what that was, he caught up with Sam when they were three-quarters the way to the front door. She turned.

---------------------

There he was, standing in front of her. Why? Breathing heavier then was necessary, smelling like all-purpose cleaner, and jeans smudged with coffee. But there he was. Moments ago she had shared the gift of thought with this man. He was in process, but then again, wasn’t she?
“I’ve never really done this before.” He stalled.
“Approached a complete stranger after they bought coffee from you?” Sam asked.
He laughed, less awkwardly then before.
“That, or asked that complete stranger out before. Not like a date, but just like, like a conversation between friends.” Mike responded.
She paused. A million thoughts rapidly rushed through her mind. In the end, wasn’t this just another son of Adam who was scrambling to find out his place in the world? A child of Him, wanting to be loved. Because of this simple fact, wasn’t he just like her?
“I’d like that.” Sam said. Then, “Over a cup of coffee?” She winked again.

---------------------

And so a meeting of two people ended in friendship. Over time the coffee shop would witness this friendship metamorphosis into a deeper relationship. Over many more discussions and jokes, this relationship would hatch into full blown love. The coffee shop remained as it always had been, stationary. The smell of freshly roasted beans, caramel-colored espresso shots being pulled, and the sweet aroma of mixing syrups. The same sounds: coffee grinding, an ice machine groaning, conversations of people mixing into a wonderful harmony of oration, milk steamers purring and creating frothy blankets which sat on lakes of cream. The sights remained the same: laughing couples, electric outlets in constant use, a teen with earbuds drowning out the world, coffee cups in every hand. The air even felt and tasted the same- a velvet and thick coffee undertone in every breath. And yet, within this stationary object, a relationship gave birth to two people in love. A daughter of Eve, and a son of Adam, joined in that same union which is meant for everyone with the Creator. Finally, through this story, one of the greatest mysteries of all time is brought to light: how is it that in such a broken world of sepia tones and lukewarm emotions, something as pure and faultless as love can exist? How is it that the simple act of caring, of showing love, can mend hearts together? And how is it that when hearts get mended, love is multiplied? Finding the answers to these questions is done only through experiencing that Love, that Happiness.
Mike would say it all starts with one decision to not eat out at lunch break. His wife, Sam, and their two kids would have to agree.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pondering and Pictures

I haven't done a mobile blog in a while and figure now's as good a time as any.

So I'm with my parents on the way home from Nampa tonight. We just got done meeting with some great family friends, the Slacks. Mrs. Slack, earlier this week lost her husband, and our dear friend John in a series of sudden events. It's such a sad time in the Slack's life right now, and we grieve along with them.

I haven't done much blogging or talking since my brother, Nate, died earlier this year. To be honest, I haven't had much to say. Back when everything happened, as you may or may not remember, I did alot of blogging with pictures. I'd like to do that now. These are all pictures reflective of not only my mood, but in many respects reflections of what my entire year has been like. I can relate to how the Slacks feel now on many levels. I grieve with them.

















Thank you so much for standing by me and my family this year. Please join me now in praying for the Slacks as they go through this process. And please, never cease to celebrate life.

Colin

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We interrupt this silence to bring you a brief blog post...

I've found time to steal away from school and work to kick back and do a late-night blog post! And there was great rejoicing! (yaaaayyy...)

Many thoughts have been running through my head as of late. Chief of these are about God, love, life, and meaning. I could do a million posts about each of those subjects, and if I were to tweet those posts and get a dollar for ever tweet, I'd have enough money to pay off our national debt! See how I snuck a political statement into that? Yeah, it just happened.

Anyways, an interesting story that sticks out to me actually happened today at dinner. Normally I eat with my family at the dinner table (my mom is an amazing cook so that also normally works out to my benefit.) Today, however, my parents were out at a thank-you dinner event. I was stuck at home due to homework, but at about 6:00 my stomach told me homework could wait- it was time for food.
So where does a 17 year old guy go to eat dinner alone? Apparently Panda Express. After getting my three entree plate of Kung Pao Chicken, Orange Chicken, (both are staples of Panda for me) the new Sweet Fire Chicken Breast, as well as a Dr. Pepper to compliment, I grabbed a seat in Panda's roomy yet post-dinner-rush-empty front dining room. And I ate.
It's been some time since I've eaten alone. In fact, after thinking about it, I can probably count all the alone-eating I've done in my life on one hand. As I sat there eating, I actually got bored. I entertained myself by people watching, but this too grew old over the course of my meal. So I turned inside myself and pondered this new development: eating alone. I realized it was talking I was missing; the stimulant of a good conversation at dinner. I missed my dad's dinner jokes and my mom's deep questions. The food began turning to ash in my mouth. Don't get me wrong, I love Panda, but Panda without company is like eating cookie dough made with salmonella infested eggs and rotten milk.
This eating alone made me feel so so so sorry for singles everywhere who get stuck alone at their dinner table with a bag or raman and their cats every night.

What on earth am I getting at? My little lonely-eating venture showed me one important thing: human beings are creatures of community. Even the most introverted of us need the council of a friend and the arm of a brother to help us when we slip. Loneliness in the world creeps out of the crevices that form between friends that haven't talked or hung out. The lack of love between people produces depression and the isolation of even the most hard prisoners drives them to the brink of insanity, then gives a light push. Human beings desire more then to simply cluster, collect honey, and protect their queen. We desire to be in relationship with each other; to love and to be loved.

That's where the Great Romance comes in, isn't it? It's the greatest way we can conceptualize Papa's love for us. It's one of the only ways we can put it into words. To simply say God loves me isn't enough, is it? To just say Jesus died on the cross for my sins is such an understatement, don't you think? It's as if this world craves love, but understates the Source of that Love to the point of making religion instead of relationship.

What would it look like to bask in the love of Papa? What would it look like to walk in peace and assurance? What would it look like to experience the Great Romance in my day-to-day life? What would it be like to never eat alone again?

Colin

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trying


Sometimes I want to write,
my brain it stops, tries to fight,
poetry simply won't come out,
So I sit and look into the night.

Sometimes I try to be witty,
To be honest, it's pretty shitty,
The jokes simply aren't clever,
Like 'what's a small cat?' It's a kitty.

Once, I tried to be strong,
It wasn't right, actually quite wrong,
I was weaker then when I started,
But my ego was twice as long,

I've tried to become smarter,
Focusing on that makes it harder,
I ended up giving up,
Totally made me feel like an unholy martyr.

Every now and again, I try to be hip,
I end up looking like Kip.
Yeah, from Napoleon Dynamite,
So I took that bud, and gave it a quick nip.

So many things I've tried to do,
In the end, they're all doo-doo,
Trying, trying, never being,
Being me. Just being Lue.


So often I find myself "trying" to be better, to do things that somehow will increase my worth as a person. Stopping and simply being gives me a refresher that it really doesn't matter what I do, especially what I 'try' to do; it really just matters who I am.

And I am a peaceful, free, and stupendous man.
Hey, that kind of rhymed :)
Colin

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spotted an EPIC FAIL

Saw this dufus riding his bike on the freeway on the way back from Men at the Cross. Here are the zoomed out and zoomed in versions.






Friday, October 2, 2009

Men at the Cross

At the Men at the Cross event in Nampa. POWERFUL beginning night. Michael W. Smith, Joe White. Papa is here too, wrapping many hurt men in His arms. The Ground is Shaking, people are being real. 1800 men crying is a sight to behold.
Follow along at http://Twitter.com/ColinMansfield
If you're a tweep already, search for the hashtag #MATC and follow in real time.

Finally, get another view from http://DennisMansfield.com my dad's blog.

Colin




















Thursday, October 1, 2009

And so I don this costume and cape...

Writer's block and I have been good friends over the past few weeks. Or, more accurately, the kind of writer's block that shows itself as "not enough time."
School's been a beast keeping up with. I only have four classes, but for those four classes I attend three different schools. It really is a lot to keep up with, both homework-wise (two of my classes are AP- Calculus and Physics) and schedule-wise (when to turn in said homework.)
Moments I can steal away are spent mostly with my three F's: Family, Friends, and Facebook.

That being said, this last week I've found more time on my hands, or maybe I've just learned how to schedule what time I do have. Regardless, I've started a new blog.


Now you may be thinking "Colin, you're crazy. What's wrong with this blog? You're honest, real, and (for the most part) up-to-date on this blog. What could you possibly start ANOTHER blog on?"
Well, my trusty reader, only one thing could so inspire me to begin writing on a tangent so often it requires a blog. And that one thing, believe it or not, is coffee. You see, I work at a coffee shop. Because of this, I've found myself becoming what many might refer to as "a coffee snob." Straight up, I only drink it if it tastes good. Due to this, I find myself judging each drink I indulge in with a critic-like professionalism (haha, right.) Seriously though, I work with coffee for hours at a time. I smell like coffee when I go to school. I drink it multiple times a day. I'm in love with it. Was that pushing it?

All those reasons, along with the desire to help the shop I work for, inform people about deals and coffee specials in the Boise area, and in general promote local coffee as a whole have driven me to start a blog, and a twitter. It's called BoiseCoffee, and I'm writing under the alias "The Coffee Guy".

If you live in Boise, like coffee, or just enjoy reading humorous blogs, feel free to check it out. If not, well you're lame.


And I hope to be posting here with more regularity!
Colin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jesus, your name is power, breath, and living water

This morning I went to SYATP (See You At The Pole) at Capital High. It was awesome.
At the beginning there were about 15 or 20 of us students there.
The prayer started at 7:00am sharp and continued on through about 7:45. By the end of it, nearly 50 Christian students surrounded the flag pole. Although I didn't get any pictures during the prayer, check out these of the fellowship after:



It was so awesome to see students come together both in the Love of Christ, and in free speech, and to see life spoken over the school and the nation.

During the prayer time a song popped into my head. I began singing it to myself through the prayer time, until eventually I was walking out to my car singing it. As I got in my car and started the engine and the stereo came to life, I was blown away. The song playing on the radio was the very song I had been singing.
It goes like this:


Gateway Worship - Revelation Song


Found at skreemr.com



I was so blown away by this "coincidence" and it so hit me how involved God really is in my life, our lives.
He never ceases to show me His love. How can I even hope to try to display that to others? It's so awesome that He expects nothing, but rather just loves me. And so, I am free. I am free to pray in public, I am free to be a Christian no matter the circumstances, and I am free to love others by Christ's example.

Freedom is a beautiful thing.


Did you go to SYATP? What was your experience?
Colin