Pursuing a Dream

On Yu with DebbieWhat would possess someone to travel long distances, alone, by bicycle? What if that someone was a 23-year-old female? What if she was just learning the native tongue of the land through which she was to bicycle? And what if she had no tools to fix a flat tire?

Some of you may be thinking: That’s crazy! Debbie and I have bicycled long distances together and even we are wondering if it crazy.

However, I suppose what has possessed our overnight guest, Onyou Kim of Seoul, South Korea, to begin her journey today from Boston to places well beyond our neighborhood in Marlborough, Massachusetts, is the same bug that has caught many other bicycle tourists over the years. That bug certainly caught us five years ago and hasn’t let go yet.

Our guest has brought the spirit of adventure to a higher level than Debbie and I can relate to. Her free-spirited dream is now becoming reality. A music major at New England Conservatory of Music, Onyou (translated “love is gentle”) decided to take a few weeks before returning to her native land to see more of America from the seat of her new touring bicycle and get to know more of its culture from the homes of her host families. Debbie and I are privileged to be her first hosts, thanks to our affiliation with warmshowers.org and our proximity to her starting point.

Onyou purchased her bicycle online just a few weeks ago, with little time to prepare and ride it. She was studying and practicing her music as school wound down for the semester. With her handlebar-mounted iPhone doubling as navigator and her violin strapped aboard, she saw no need for much preparation on this journey. Why get hung up on the details? She can figure things out along the way. She claims she’s lazy, but we suspect not. We think confident and resourceful may be better words to describe her. Trusting would be another.

Although I have difficulty relating to her fearlessness, I love her willingness to “go for it.” I admire her attitude. Onyou’s courage and initiative, her desire to explore, and her faith in Good Samaritans down the road, capture perfectly the spirit behind bicycle touring. There’s too much life to discover not to grab it by the handlebars and ride it for all you can. This is no different than traveling halfway around the world to go to school in an entirely different culture. Her bicycle tour is simply another adventure in her education. Onyou is pursuing a dream. Isn’t that what we all should be doing?

With over 10,000 miles worth of people coming to our aid on our prior bicycle touring escapades, Debbie and I are enjoying being on the other side of this scene for a change. Moreover, Onyou’s attitude, ambition, and daring give us hope. It’s refreshing to experience hope from a young person because, as Hope Coaches for TheHopeLine, we often deal with youth who feel they’ve lost all hope.

We also like sharing our touring tales with tonight’s guest. We hope to improve her upcoming travel experience while encouraging her to keep pursuing her own dream. She says she’s doing this tour with the dream that she’ll be able to do it with a husband some day. Now that’s a dream worth holding close to one’s heart. We’d love to encourage a heart like hers, and we’re doing the best we can, but frankly our Korean is not what it could be.

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Love is Out There

Love is Out ThereIf you’re a single woman over thirty, there’s good news for you: love is out there! So says Melissa Williams-Pope in her new book entitled Love is Out There: True Stories of Hope for Single Women Over 30. Williams-Pope has assembled a collection of encouraging testimonials from twenty women who had all but given up hope of meeting that special someone.

Each story is written in the words of a woman who went through what seemed like a long and winding road toward marriage. A strong theme throughout is that God brought them to their mate often when least expected, but clearly after He had prepared both of them for the right time. Some of the testimonials refer to Psalms 37:4: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Even the stories that do not refer to this passage resonate its truth.

Love is Out There has an international flavor, with stories from Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, and “Down Under,” with six countries represented. The author has lived in the USA, the UK, and now resides in Auckland, New Zealand. She leaves readers with a personal application guide, which she calls the “21-Day Heart Exploration Experience,” and an opportunity to share their own story at www.LoveIsOutThere.com/share.

Call me biased, but I enjoyed Deborah’s story the most. That’s my wife, Debbie Bishop, and she crafted some beautiful words to unequivocally praise God for His gift to us.

You can read Debbie’s story and nineteen other inspiring ones by purchasing Melissa’s book on Amazon.com. Debbie and I have enjoyed reading these stories to one another. Simply click on this link: Love is Out There: True Stories of Hope for Single Women Over 30 (which is an affiliate marketing link for which Open Road Press receives a commission on any purchases).

If you’re single and are looking for some encouragement, check out Love is Out There. It’s a quick read that will remind you it is never too late. God has not forgotten about you!

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Open Road Press Releases New eBook

Red Background Sales Copy ItalicsI’ve recently written a business eBook entitled Hedging Commodity Price Risk: A Small Business Perspective and published it through Open Road Press. We released this new title in Amazon’s Kindle store while on the road in Missouri in September of 2014. After we returned from TheHopeLine Tour, we pushed it to Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Kobo Books. It’s already received favorable reviews on Amazon.

Because this is a business book that doesn’t fit well on this website, which has a tag line of “Love and Life by Bicycle,” I’ve set up another website where I’ll periodically post blog entries about hedging and other materials about the book. Click here to go to that website.

You can learn more about this new book by reading this news release. I’d be grateful if you spread the news by sharing any of these links with anyone who you think might be interested in this eBook. If you’d like to pick up a copy, you can purchase it from the Open Road Press store or from any of the three online booksellers shown above.

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Update on TheHopeLine Tour Fundraiser

PledgesAs we depart 2014, I’d like to update you on the status of our fundraiser entitled TheHopeLine Tour of 2014 and plug you into a unique opportunity before it’s too late to take advantage of it. If you’ve stumbled upon this webpage randomly or you’re unfamiliar with the tour or the fundraiser, my wife, Debbie, and I bicycled across the country this summer on a self-supported tour to raise awareness and needed funds for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults. We set a fundraising goal of $100,000. Thanks to generous friends, family, and people who were total strangers before our tour, we’ve raised over $32,000 to date. If you’re one of those supporters, thank you so much for your kindness to young people in crisis.

In each of the past two years, TheHopeLine has intervened in the lives of over 3,000 young people who were struggling with suicidal thoughts. Debbie chatted with a suicidal youth just this past weekend. During our tour, we took roughly 35 chats from the road. Of those, eight were suicide interventions. TheHopeLine deals with any issue that youth are struggling with. However, the suicide intervention statistics give you a glimpse of how severe youth issues are these days, and the type of difference TheHopeLine makes in their lives. Many youth will only open up in an anonymous forum such as TheHopeLine offers them.

Unique Opportunity About to Expire

TheHopeLine sign on Tim's pannierAlmost one-third of our fundraising proceeds has resulted from the generosity of a strong supporter of TheHopeLine, a Midwest dairy farmer who originally challenged supporters of the organization with a $100,000 matching challenge. He raised his match to $225,000 when the initial match was achieved in early December. As we turn the page on 2014, the $225,000 matching challenge will expire. If you have not yet made your pledge of support to TheHopeLine as part of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014, or if you feel compelled to raise your support, won’t you consider doing so right now, before this matching challenge expires? Any pledge made before midnight on December 31, 2014 and paid by March 31, 2015 is eligible for the matching funds, which effectively doubles the impact of your donation. To pledge support, please click here. If you would to learn more about why TheHopeLine is worthy of your support, click here. You may also want to read this blog post, entitled Hope is Not Free.

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To view highlights of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014, including the best photos and blog posts, please click here.

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TheHopeLine Tour Post Trip Thoughts Part 3

Part 3 of a 3-part series (To read Part 1 of his post trip thoughts, in which Tim describes the experience and how he is missing it, click here. For Part 2 about the route and the touring high points, click here.)

Fundraising

Pitching TheHopeLine was a privilege. We only hope that we have made as much of a difference for it as it did for our tour. TheHopeLine cause immediately connected us with people everywhere. Everyone, it seems, is affected by suicide. We learned better techniques for sharing our mission and developed more confidence the farther east we traveled. Our thanks to Marfa Films, who shot this video outside of Grace Baptist Church in Milford, Ohio, before we embarked on the bike path to Xenia. I must say, we seem a bit road weary here!

My biggest disappointment of the entire tour was the inability to land significant media appearances, despite pitching print and broadcast media in large nearby cities like Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. A major network television station in Louisville shot video of us and a senior producer in Columbus (Ohio’s largest television market) showed interest in our story. It seemed the farther we traveled, the higher the potential of drawing attention to our cause. However, no significant exposure materialized. The day our trip ended, we were planning a short day of 25 miles, and two rest days in which we would pitch media in Scranton, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, Worcester, Providence, and Boston. We’ll never know whether any coverage we might have received from those contacts would have made a difference in our fundraising campaign.

Tour CardI’ve developed a new appreciation for just how difficult it is to raise money, even for a nonprofit as worthy as TheHopeLine, which is saving lives. We’ll end our campaign somewhere over $20,000. Even though we had a higher goal, $20,000 is a healthy sum, and the potential exists for more. We’re thankful to family and friends, who were the predominant source of the funding. People were generous. They were also supportive by following us through the Open Road Press blog and Facebook.

I’m convinced we met prospective donors with the potential to send the mercury in our fundraising thermometer sky high. There were a handful of farmers with substantial crops and livestock, an investment banker, a financial advisor, a real estate developer, and that older gentleman at a motel in Brandenburg, Kentucky, who checked in just after we did. I had a strong impression that he was destined to make a difference. Whether or not he checked into TheHopeLine, we may never know. Potential donors were everywhere. We had promising encounters in Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Two Are Better

There’s nothing like a bicycle tour to bond you together with your riding partner. In our case, since we’re husband and wife, we reap a special bonus. Here we sit, overwhelmed with memories as we sift through photographs and blog posts, as we consider what was and what might have been. The intensity of our tour and its fundraising campaign meant that we needed to be fully engaged and cooperative to maximize our efforts. Crossing the Ohio River at Mayville KYIt seared us together. It’s not that we weren’t together before, but a bicycle tour unifies you toward a common goal much better than everyday life ever will. We grew closer. What bigger blessing could we have had? None that I can think of.

Thank you to everyone who followed and supported us. We believe that the connectedness and safety that we enjoyed were a direct result of other people’s prayers and God’s constant provision. Life’s experiences are accentuated when others are pulling for you. The pledges of support to TheHopeLine energized us. And those who regularly commented or “liked” on Facebook reminded us of the prayers and goodwill that came our way every day. We’re grateful to those of you who partnered with us.
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If you have not yet pledged support to TheHopeLine as part of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014, it’s not too late! What’s more, a generous donor of TheHopeLine has agreed to match your contribution dollar for dollar from now until the end of 2014. Won’t you please help raise the fundraising thermometer higher while making a lasting difference in the lives of young people in crisis? To pledge support right now, click here. If you would like to learn more about why TheHopeLine is worthy of your support, please read our case for support page.

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