Taking Flight, Writing

Confessions of a Blogger

Confessions

The title of this post is “Confessions of a Blogger” but could just as easily be confessions of a millennial or confessions of being human.

This goes with out saying but I love blogs! I have a blog (duh!), I follow a lot of blogs on a regular basis and I read a lot of other random blogs here and there.

This blog has been a ton of fun for me! I get to do what I love, which is writing, and use that passion to share the experiences and thoughts I have as a 20-something college student. Blogs are a fun way to share what’s going on in your life with family and friends, to share ideas with people far and wide, and to learn about other people and their views.

But while blogs can be used for great purposes, there is one struggle that I and many bloggers like myself all share and that is the struggle over numbers. We struggle to be authentic and I am no different. I struggle with writing to what will get the most likes or shares. It’s not just about writing something people will like, but sometimes you just want them to love it and a lot of the time they don’t love it. They merely enjoy it and that should be enough.

I struggle to share real life – my very real and imperfect life – with y’all. There is a line between being brutally authentic and keeping some things private. It’s so easy to write the “5 things” kind of post and they can be a lot of fun to write, but people want to feel. I want to feel and I want to know that other people want to feel, too. And maybe they want to feel the same things, too.

The internet is not always the best place to share some of the most vulnerable and tender parts of your soul that are best kept between you and a friend over coffee or put in God’s hands over prayer. But there’s something to be said for being able to put into words the pain and struggles that other people can’t always express. It’s a blessing. It’s a gift. To not use it would be to disgrace God. I would be no different than the servant who was given the one talent to invest in only to bury it for safe keeping.

But more than anything I struggle with what people might say when I decide to write in a very raw and brutally authentic way. People won’t always like what I write. Some might honestly hate it – find it insensitive or too sensitive. Some people will think that I just need to get over it and not get too caught up in X, Y or Z, but for every person who thinks an article is “too (fill in the blank)” there is someone who I have encouraged, someone who feels heard and represented instead of falling through cracks of a planet with 7 billion people on it.

So I must speak. I must write and not for the likes and shares. But I must blog with all the authenticity I can muster.

What does being authentic mean in your life?

(Originally published to my former site, thetakingflightblog.com, on February 15, 2016.)

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A Christ-filled Adventure, Taking Flight

Bekah York + a Christ-filled Adventure

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The inspiration for Taking Flight didn’t just come out of nowhere. First and for most, this blog was definitely a God-thing. At the end of last year, I felt a gentle tug on my heart to use my love and talent for writing to further His kingdom so I started to just jump into my writing and see where it took me.

But I am always deeply inspired by the people He has placed in my life as well. Sometimes my favorite and best and most successful blog posts have come from having a cup of coffee with the people around me. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of those people and her Christ-filled Adventure!

Meet Bekah York! You can thank a conversation with this ray of sunshine for inspiring I’m a Christian and I go to a public university and Why I write. So sit back and enjoy this story of beautiful friendship!

How We Met!

I met Bekah at one of the best places to make new friends – at church! Though she came into the college group as a sophomore, she has been a great blessing to everyone involved. With her bubbly and infectious personality, Bekah is one of those people who will make you feel right at home in a matter of seconds!

However, it wasn’t just her outgoing personality that drew me to this sweet soul. Bekah is a journalism major at OU, which means not only did Team “Not An Engineer” gain another member at church but there was also someone in the same college as me! (Don’t get me wrong…love my engineering friends but it’s nice to have a conversation without the words “differential equations” and “solid mechanics” being said!).

And if that’s not enough, Bekah has a blog! I would suggest jumping over and reading some of her stuff. Hers is one of my favorite blogging voices!

Her Christ-filled Adventure

There are some people that when you meet them for the first time you just feel warm inside. They radiate joy and sunshine and you can’t help but be happy when you’re around them. I think fruits of the spirit and that verse from Proverbs 31 when I think of these kind of people.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
Provers 31:25 (NLT)

And that’s Bekah!

She’s full of so much laughter and joy and it’s infectious! I don’t think I’ve ever see her without a smile on her face. Even when she’s faced with the uncertainty and the enormity of what might come, she always shoots for optimism when her gut says otherwise.

But the part of about being “clothed with strength and dignity” applies to Bekah as well. She’s a strong and independent woman who’s not afraid to think intelligently and speak what’s on her heart – a kind of woman this world needs more of.

More About Bekah

Bekah is a fellow Okie! She grew up in the same part of the state as me in Broken Arrow, Okla. She’s a theatre enthusiast and loves all things acting, which makes total sense once you know her highly loveable, extroverted personality!

She dreams of one day being an actress, writer and photographer – all the things that don’t exactly make a lot of money as she is often told. I can certainly relate to the writer part!

She has a cute pup named Toby that she adopted from an animal shelter last spring. She is passionate about adopting instead of shopping – which I LOVE!

She’s another fellow coffee lover and one of the people I go to when I need a person to pray with.

A sweet soul. A lover of people and adopting shelter puppies. I hope everyone has a friend like Bekah in there life who inspires them to live a Christ-filled adventure!

Who in your life inspires you to live a Christ-filled Adventure? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!

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Taking Flight

An Open Invitation

If you’ve been keeping up with Taking Flight or have known me for any length of time, you probably know that my faith is a huge part of my life. Or at least I hope you know that. I hope you’ve had the chance to see just a little bit of Christ in me – in the way I talk, in the way I interact with others especially you, in the way I write. I hope that I’ve taken every opportunity to be Jesus to you and to show you his love and compassion, his grace and mercy.

Even if you and I have only had a 30 second conversation in the entire time we’ve been on this incredibly large yet very small planet together, I hope that conversation was filled with Jesus. We may have never even talked about faith or God or anything significant at all, but I hope more than anything that there was something in that conversation that you could pick out and say, “Is that what Jesus looks like? It might be.”

And if I have succeeded in being Jesus to you in any way, shape or form, then I have a small request to ask of you, or rather an invitation.

An invitation for you to ask.

An invitation for you to ask me about my faith, to ask me about Jesus, to ask me about the God that I believe in regardless of the messiness life might through at me or you.

An invitation to learn about the Savior without any Bible-beating or condemnation.

An invitation to experience, to know the best and greatest and most amazing thing in the universe – the gift of salvation that is free and abundant.

And if we have never talked about anything even close to that, if you didn’t even know I was a Christian, if you didn’t know that I was this serious about my faith, then the invitation still stands. Because I want to talk about my Creator and my Savior more than anything in the world. More than writing or traveling or books or coffee. It doesn’t matter if you’re a believer who is as passionate about God as I am (or even more so) or if you’ve never even heard of God or if you’re somewhere in between.

I want to talk to you. I invite you to ask me.

It might be uncomfortable for the both of us at first and I can’t promise that I won’t open up my Bible or tell you about a verse because it’s kind of a package deal. But I repeat: I promise there will be no Bible beating or condemnation.

And I promise it could be life changing for the both of us in the most amazing and awe-inspiring way possible.

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A Christ-filled Adventure

Kathryn Patterson + a Christ-filled Adventure

Part of my vision for Taking Flight is to feature people who are striving to live a Christ-filled adventure. Everything I write and publish to Taking Flight has been inspired by God and the people He has placed in my life so what better way to kick off A Christ-filled Adventure series with a feature on the woman behind the camera!

Kathryn Patterson (the one in the Oklahoma hat and Tennessee tee in the feature photo) has been with me almost every step of the way with this blog. The first time she provided pictures for me it was for an article I wrote following one of our adventures to the Wichita Mountains. I never really thought about her taking more pictures for Taking Flight seeing as this isn’t a blog that generates any kind of income whereas Kathryn owners her own photography business and she is absolutely amazing at what she does! Not to mention this blog was a completely for fun kind of thing. I didn’t feel like I had any room to ask for free pictures. I was grateful for the photos she provided me for that article and I told her that she was more than welcome to send more pictures my way if she wanted to.

And she did! She actually just kind of ran with it and started dreaming wildly about Taking Flight before it even became a thing. About a month later we went to the Wichitas again with our church group and out of no where she says, “And if you need and photos for your blog, I would be more than happy to provide them!”

My first thought was, “Yes, please! Take as many pictures as your heart desires and send them my way!” My brain is a little fuzzy, but I may have said that exact thing, too.

From there, Kathryn became the official Taking Flight photographer and my personal sounding board. If there’s ever an article that I’m not sure about or would like feedback on first before I hit “publish,” she is my go-to girl.

How We Met

I first met Kathryn my sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma. She had just transferred from Freed-Hardman University in Henderson, Tennessee to finish her degree in aerospace engineering.

(You read that correctly. Kathryn is an aerospace engineering major AND she has a huge passion for photography – so much so that she has her own business. She’s a woman of many talents!)

But that was just the in-person meeting. Earlier in the spring, I found myself in a situation where I desperately needed to find a place to live and roommate(s) fast. Our college minister had told us that she would be transferring so I reached out to her to see if she would be interested. At the time, she wasn’t sure what she wanted her living arrangements to be and long story short we never became roommates. Though I didn’t gain a roommate in her, I did gain one of the best friends I have made in college thus far!

Kathryn + Her Christ-filled Adventure

While we are called to be imitators of Christ, there is no way we could imitate him perfectly, but there are some of his qualities that we all have a knack at imitating better than others.

Kathryn is one of those people who almost perfectly imitates the gentleness and patience of Christ. I’ve never heard her say a malicious or negative thing about anyone and she truly lives out what it means to be slow to anger and slow to speak. She is always willing to lend a listening ear whether it be to simply hear about your day or about your struggles and frustrations.

Not to mention she’s my adventure buddy of choice whenever I’m in need of some wilderness time!

A Little More About Kathryn

She loves Jesus, but she also LOVES coffee. She’s a faithful customer to Cool Beans Drive-Thru coffee shop in Norman. (But really though, they know her car and order and I’m pretty sure they know her as Iced Macchiato girl because she almost always orders an Iced Caramel Macchiato except when weather calls for a hot ICM. But even then she still goes for the iced version.) On top of that she’s also a gold card member at Starbucks so when I say she LOVES coffee I mean she LOVES coffee, which is one of the many reasons why she is one of my best friends.

She kind of has a thing for Liam Hemsworth but who doesn’t??? She’s the perfect person to accompany you on your Barnes & Noble and Old Navy trips. She’s quite the fashionista. And she’s just an all around amazing and crazy talented human being!

So that’s the first addition of A Christ-filled Adventure! I hope to publish a new installment of this series once a month so keep an eye out for February’s Christ-filled Adventurer! To view some of Kathryn’s fabulous photography and learn more about her business, click here!

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Taking Flight

It’s okay to be vulnerable

Sorry for posting a little late this week, but I’ve been playing the part of busy traveler with a ski trip to Breckenridge with the college group from church. Any time I get the opportunity to travel I jump on it, plus traveling with my Christian brothers and sisters makes for an added bonus! Going to Breck may not help me achieve my dream of filling every page in my passport, but it’s always a fun trip with new challenges at every turn and slope and this year was no different. (But really though, there should be a passport for interstate travel just for funsies? Funzies? Fun-zies? Whatever.)

Challenges, as I was saying…

This year’s ski trip to Breckenridge has been no different when it came the obstacles I had to face – by choice and by circumstance, spiritual and otherwise. I went down my first blue slope. I managed to fall only six times throughout the whole trip. And I allowed myself to be vulnerable through the power of prayer.

Though it is something I’m still not comfortable with – I don’t think you ever do become comfortable with vulnerability – it is something that I’ve had to allow into my life since I started my blog. If you’re a writer or if you create in anyway, you know what it is to be vulnerable. With every stroke of a paintbrush, with every word you write, vulnerability or rather the fear of being vulnerable is always right around the corner ready to stop you from creating.

When we’re confronted with the fear of vulnerability, all sorts of doubts fill our mind. Will it be good enough? Am I good enough? Will it even matter? What if people hate it? What if people think I’m crazy? What if I AM crazy?

With each new article I write, I’m putting into words a small part of my soul and putting it on display for the world to see. And that’s absolutely terrifying. To share your soul with even one person is the most vulnerable thing you can ever do.

So when my college minister challenged those of us who went on our annual ski trip to Breckenridge to pray with another person in the group, I found myself staring my fear of vulnerability in the face once again.

The challenge was more than just simply praying with someone. It was more than simply asking God to help us through the next semester or for Him to help us be more patient or kind. It was about really opening up to another Christian with what we were struggling with. It was an act of confession, an invitation for a deeper sisterhood, a desperate plea for grace and mercy.

Before this past week, I had never really prayed with anyone. Sure I had prayed for other people and asked them what I could pray about for them. But praying with someone was a completely different story. Naturally, I put the challenge off as long as I possibly could.

I was a huge procrastinator on this challenge having waited until a couple of hours before our “deadline” per say. I was a procrastinator in that I couldn’t decide whom to pray with. It sounds dumb, I know, but bear with me. There was a part of me that wanted to pray with everyone in the group. I was so excited to have the opportunity to grow closer to a sibling in Christ that I wanted to repeat the process with everyone who went on the trip. But there was also a part of me that didn’t want to open myself up to anyone.

However, it finally came time for me to pray with someone and God provided the opportunity. I was out exploring the town and looking for a coffee shop with two of my friends Bekah and Sarah. We found a shop I had gone to the year before, ordered and found a seat.

Once we all sat down with our drinks, we had another moment of procrastination where we asked each other about what we got and if it was any good.

What did you get? How is it? This is amazing! So good! There’s so much whipped cream on this I don’t even know how to approach it… I think I need a straw.

But then we had this awkward pause and we knew it was time to get down to business – to confess our struggles, ask for prayers and help, admit that we need Jesus and that we need each other. It was time to allow ourselves to be vulnerable with each other.

So how do we do this? I think we’re just supposed to say something we’re struggling with and would like prayers for. Okay.

I went first – fumbling with my words and not really sure what to say or how to say it. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t want to put that part of myself, that part of my soul into someone else’s hands.

The lie that it’s not that big of a struggle was like a broken record in my mind.

That’s not a real struggle. It’s not that big, not that bad. You can hardly even call it a struggle.

But when I finally confessed my struggle, when I finally said what I needed prayers for, Bekah said, “Me too.”

So we prayed together, out loud, in public and it was then that we knew the weight of vulnerability had been lifted and the lightness of liberation took hold. It was then that we realized it was okay to be vulnerable especially in the presence of another believer.

Through vulnerability, we can grow closer to a sibling in Christ. And when we stop fearing vulnerability and allow someone to see even a small part of who we really are, we can finally learn what it is to be set free.

It’s like looking down the steep slope of a blue run and then taking the plunge feeling like you might cry or maybe even die from fear and exhaustion. But once you’ve left the flat landing and you’ve found yourself on the base of the mountain realizing that you’re still in one piece and that you actually did it, there’s nothing else like it. When you take the plunge into the thing you fear, you will find that you can say, “I no longer fear you.”

So find someone you can share a part of your soul with, ask for prayers, pray with them and learn that it is okay to be vulnerable.

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Taking Flight

Resolving to Live a Christ-filled Adventure

There is something so exciting about a new year. The New Year speaks of so many possibilities and hope! It’s a new beginning, a fresh start.

When 2014 was starting to come to an end, I woke up to find myself a broken soul and in need of a fresh start. In my brokenness God showed me a way out in the approaching new year. In my brokenness God inspired me to dream wildly with my 2015 New Years Resolutions long before the inception of Taking Flight!

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My Jesus Jar

It all started with a jar. I call it my Jesus Jar. There’s nothing special about it. It’s just a 16-ounce Ball jar that my roommate gave me last Christmas with some M&M’s in it, but over the course of 2015 it became more than just a jar to me.

I wish I had the journal with me now that I was writing in then in 2014 to fully remember and reflect on what led me to start a Jesus Jar. What I do remember is that I was eager for a change. I had fallen victim to the “sophomore slump” and as a result I was overcome with self-pity and sadness. I just felt stuck all the time. I was unhappy in my internship and at times in my major. To top it all off, I also didn’t feel like I was in the right place.

When 2014 was finally coming to a close, the Lord sparked a desire in me to know Him better and seek Him in prayer. I remember sitting in my room and looked over to the jar of M&M’s. Looking back, I remember it was like one of those moments in a Christmas comedy where the ornery kid takes one long look at the jar and then downs all its contents because that’s exactly what I did. I stuffed every M&M in that jar into my mouth, wrote down the first note and placed it in the jar. I never looked back from there (nor did I regret the obnoxious consumption of M&M’s).

The Jesus Jar became a physical representation of the prayers I sent up to the Father, a reminder that he hears every prayer and collects every tear in a jar (Psalm 6:9; Psalm 56:8). However, the first note was not a prayer, but a proclamation. It read:

Jesus satisfies. I have been filled.

Throughout 2015, it became my prayer that I would find peace and contentment in Christ alone and that he would fulfill me. I actually wrote one prayer that was probably from a night where I was so tired and so empty that all I had the energy to pray was, “Peace and contentment. Amen.”

Almost everyday, I would find scraps of paper that would be lying around my apartment or the pages of little notepads, and I would write down a prayer that was on my heart and put it into my Jesus Jar. Sometimes they were prayers of deliverance, sometimes they were prayers of hope and longing. Sometimes they were prayers for friends and family but a lot of the time they were prayers for myself. The act of putting the little note in that jar seems small but it was like putting the words “Your will be done” into action. By putting each prayer into the jar and tightly closing the lid, I was giving every prayer, every hope, every desire over to God in my quest to be Christ-filled.

A Resolution for Compassion

Along with an intense desire to know Christ better and more deeply through prayer, I wanted to put into practice one of Christ’s greatest attributes – his compassion. As 2014 came to a close, I found myself looking back on my life and the previous year and I saw a girl who was self-absorbed (if we’re being blunt and honest). Questions like why me, why is she so special, and don’t I deserve x, y or z, too had constantly consumed my mind in the months leading up to the new year. I rarely considered the feelings or needs of others, but instead wallowed in my feelings and my needs. But such questions and attitudes are so far from what it means to be Christ-minded.

In the New Testament we read of countless examples of Christ’s compassion and it usually wasn’t at the most convenient time that he demonstrated such great and overwhelming love. Remember the time when 5,000 people (and that count probably doesn’t include women and children) just wouldn’t leave him alone in Matthew 14? He tended their sick. He fed ALL 5,000 of them with what little the apostles had – five loaves of bread and two fish. He did all of that even though he was just seeking a place of quiet solitude where he could grieve the brutal and heartless murder of his cousin John the Baptist.

I looked at my life and the life of my Savior and realized that I was not taking up my cross as I should (Luke 9:23). My concern was not for my neighbor but myself (Matthew 22:36-40). So with my Jesus Jar in one hand and pen and paper in the other, I prayed for a compassionate heart and resolved to become a more compassionate person.

Another note I wrote to myself and placed into my Jesus Jar early in 2015 is a famous quote from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies and classic plays because it reminds me what life is all about. In the beginning, Scrooge is confronted by the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley. Too little too late, Marley proclaims to Scrooge one of the greatest truths we could ever live out:

Business?! Mankind should have been my business!

In 2015, I wanted to make mankind my business and I hope I have grown from a self-pitying, self-absorbed girl into a compassionate woman.

The Word Resolution

The resolution for compassion was in part inspired by my friend Kayla. I met Kayla my first year at OU at the church I worship with. Speaking of compassionate – Kayla is one of the greatest examples of compassion I have ever had the pleasure to witness! She’s the kind of person who will ask you how your day was before she says a word about her day and she will genuinely want to know how you are. But it was not only her compassion that drove me to a resolution for compassion.

Kayla had also told me about instead of resolving to drink more water or eat healthier or to lose weight (which are definitely all good things), she picks a word and makes that her resolution. I still to this day think this is the neatest idea!

A New Year, A New Song

When I think of a new year, I think of the hymn “New Song” we often sing in worship. Every day is a new song when we are in Christ. Through the death and resurrection of His Son, God has given us a new song to sing (Psalm 40:3).

So it’s a New Year, a New Song, a New Resolution.

In 2015, I resolve to be Christ-filled! I don’t want to waste a day of my life finding fulfillment in something other my Savior and King. He is the cornerstone of my life. I resolve to crown him King of my life today, tomorrow and everyday of 2016 and beyond.

Through Taking Flight and my Jesus Jar, I will use these tools to continue to seek him and glorify him, making much of his sacrifice on the cross.

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Resolve to Live a Christ-filled Adventure

So here’s your call to action, ladies! This year as you make your resolutions I hope you will dream wildly. There is no resolution too big for God to make manifest! Pick a word that you want to make a reality in your life and dig into the Word to see what scripture has to say about it! Take your resolution to God in prayer – maybe even start a Jesus Jar of your own or a prayer journal! Whatever you decide on, I hope it will lead you to live a Christ-filled adventure!

(photos by Kathryn Patterson Photography)

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