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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Taking Flight

The Heart of a Planner

Confession. Sometimes my heart gets ahead of me. Correction. Sometimes my heart gets ahead of God.

As I make plans for the direction of this blog, I find myself just wanting to hit the ground running. I’ve got so many ideas that it has literally been killing me not to go ahead with them. But the timing just hasn’t been right.

One of the things I hate most in life is steamrolling (granted, it’s sometimes a necessary evil), but in all the exhilarating emotions that come with motivation and new ideas, on an almost daily basis I find myself trying to steamroll God. ‘Trying’ being the operative word. I make these plans in my head. I get so excited over them that I sometimes lose sleep. I’ll spend the last few minutes or hours before going to bed writing or thinking of ways to grow Taking Flight and even when I put down my work and go to bed, my mind is going a million miles an hour and sleep evades me. In my head, I imagine God saying, “Um excuse me miss” as I say, “Now I’m gonna do this and that.”

James 4:13-15
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

This week has been no different even though it’s OU’s finals week and in the midst of studying I still found myself dreaming wildly and planning my next adventures with Taking Flight. (Don’t worry, Mom! I still studied my little heart out.) If you were to look in the margins of my Cognitive notes and study guide, you would see little notes to myself on ideas for articles and next steps in growing this site. As I studied, it took every fiber of my being not to switch gears and take a “study break” (that, if we’re being real, would have been a complete hiatus from studying).

There have been times in the last two weeks where I’ve had to pray “God, help me stick to the task at hand” because even though we have those outlets where we feel we are serving God at our optimum level, that is not the only place our servitude is needed. Sometimes those outlets where we feel we are most serving God are actually the outlets the feed our ego and arrogance (James 4:16). And sometimes our service to His kingdom is needed in the day to day and not in the grandiose because sometimes it is the menial where His name is glorified the most.

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Though writing would have been a lot more fun than studying Cognitive Psychology, my heart cannot speed past God’s heart.

This blog has become one of my favorite adventures. With each knew post, I get to grow as a writer and a daughter of the King. I love that feeling I get when I start writing an article and I hit a cord not only in my own heart but in the hearts of others.

Anyone who writes or creates in anyway knows that feeling and it’s exhilarating! It motivates me to want to write more, which is why it’s hard to stick to the task and glorify Him in the menial.

However, finals are over (PRAISE!) and I can now get back to doing what I love most – writing for Taking Flight.

I’m a huge planner and I’ve been dreaming like a maniac over this blog! I am beyond excited to reveal some of those plans in the next few weeks and coming months, but until then bear with me as I wait for the right timing. God’s timing!

(Photo courtesy of Kathryn Patterson)

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Taking Flight

What is True Humility?

Sometimes we see verses in the Bible on humility and we think that means self-deprecate. Why wouldn’t we? After all, if you were to look in any dictionary ‘humble’ is defined as having a modest or low opinion of your own importance and ‘self-deprecate’ is defined as expressing disapproval of yourself or dismissing something as being unimportant. They sound exactly the same, and maybe by human standards they are. I sure thought so.

I think most people think that if they self-deprecate then they have succeeded in humbling themselves thereby doing what God has asked them to do because the Bible clearly tells us that we are to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. But I think the creators of modern English dictionaries are wrong. Self-deprecation is not the same as humbling yourself.

C.S. Lewis recognizes the disparity between self-deprecation and humbling yourself when he writes “by this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever mean trying to believe they are fools” (The Screwtape Letters).

We think self-deprecation takes the form of humility, but that’s not the case. Self-deprecation is when an attractive person thinks him or herself unattractive, when an intelligent person thinks him or herself unintelligent, or when a person with a great personality thinks him or herself as having no personality or having too much personality. And if this is self-deprecation then by deprecating ourselves we are also deprecating God’s creation. We are saying that what God created isn’t what God actually created it as. And by doing this, we are discrediting God and making him seem less important than he actually is. In summation, we are humbling God when what we were actually trying to do was humble ourselves.

So what is true humility? What definition of humility should we be going by as we seek to humble ourselves?

C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity that “true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” I agree with Lewis, but I also propose that true humility is thinking ourselves as important but less important than God, beautiful but not as beautiful as God, intelligent but nowhere near as intelligent as God, and full of personality in a unique and God-given way but only full and complete in personality because of God.

So yes, humility is to think of yourself as less important…than God. It is not to think of yourself as not important at all because as one of my favorite books/movies says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

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Taking Flight

What Christianity Should Be Teaching About Marriage

Wichitas-me-deep thought

After multiple conversations with friends and after reading this article, there’s something I feel I really need to address that a lot of people associated with the Christian faith have yet to acknowledge.

Growing up, I heard so many lessons in bible class about how to be a good wife, and I went to so many Bible studies that focused on “the someday.” What people always seemed to fail to mention was that “someday” wasn’t a guarantee and that “someday” was not the purpose of our existence or our faith. Somewhere along the way, people seemed to forget to mention that our purpose was to glorify Christ. In short, modern Christianity has missed the mark as a whole when it comes to marriage and how we teach it to young people. Bible studies have gone from how we can imitate Christ to the “when you’re married”, from the “someday” where Christ returns to the “someday” with a white dress and diamond ring.

So super duper honesty time: how modern Christianity teaches marriage is backwards. If we simply taught people what it means to be a Christian, which is to serve and love others unconditionally, then the rest would follow. It would be a natural transition to go from a person whose mission was to be Jesus to others to being Christ at a more intimate level to a spouse. If greater Christendom emphasized what it means to love one another, people would already know how to be good spouses if and when the time came because they would be treating everyone else that way.

Instead, young, single people fall victim to single shaming and they freak out when they get to college and realize they don’t have a significant other in their lives and so many others do. They feel like those who are in relationships must have reached some higher level of righteousness and that God is rewarding them because they have been taught that marriage is the goal to strive for or that marriage is the ultimate way to live out and practice their faith. It becomes the fuel for many sleepless nights and personal crying sessions. It becomes the core of devotionals and the topic of Bible class series in an effort to undo the damage. It becomes the snarky comment in a conversation and the scary thing is when you hear high school girls start repeating these snarky comments. It becomes the fear that paralyzes us and keeps us from doing what we are meant to do and from following our dreams. It’s what inhibits us from dreaming wildly and living adventurously.

And then it gets to the point that young single people think that if they don’t graduate in a certain semester or if they don’t take a certain career path that they would some how royally mess up their life and ruin any chance of ever meeting “the one.” We think if we dare to dream too big and somehow find success in that dream then we would be thought of as intimidating, unapproachable or unattractive.

Essentially, young Christians come out of high school youth groups more prepared to be “good spouses” than they are prepared to live out the gospel and that’s not okay.

So, to teachers of Christianity, which is essentially everyone who calls him or herself a Christian, stop teaching marriage and teach Jesus. And to the singles (meaning anyone who isn’t married) dare to dream wildly, be ambitious and live adventurously! Don’t let fear stop you from climbing a mountain, writing a book, starting a business, or doing what you love to do.

(Photos courtesy of Kathryn Patterson)

Wild Women of the Wichitas

Wichitas path

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Taking Flight

But We Still Call Him Father

For the past week, thousands of people have prayed on Ben’s behalf and have waited to see what God’s answer would be. This morning we got our answer and the answer was “no.”

Though it is not the answer any of us wanted, it is the answer we were given.

But we still call Him Father. We still call Him good. We still call Him loving. We will probably never understand in this life why God answered the way He did. However, one thing I am certain of is that without a doubt Ben was a light in a dark world and his impact, his love, his smile are certainly still seen and felt. His death is felt across the world, but any believer will know that he isn’t really dead but asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) .

One Sunday when I was at home, our preacher, Chris, said something about how not everything happens for a reason, but that some things just happen. When I first heard that sermon, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. At the time, most of my thought process hinged on the idea that everything happened for a reason like most people believe and that all things happened for the good of His kingdom like most Christians believe.

Now I think I know why there’s something flawed in thinking all things happen for a reason because when you start to think that everything happens for a reason you start to ask God “why” and when you start to ask why, you start to walk a tightrope between a shaken faith and a shattered faith.

So I choose not to ask why but to thank God for the few years He allowed me to get to know Ben, to thank Him for the tremendous display of faith from his family and friends during this time, and to thank Him for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 5:19) because this morning an angel took flight.

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Writing

The Post I Never Wanted to Write

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This was never a post I wanted to write and it’s definitely one I never thought I would. It’s not a post that any one who reads this blog ever expected me to write about. It’s not a post that fits the theme of this blog. It’s not a happy post, a witty post, or an adventurous post, but it needs to be written.

Friday night a young man who is very close to my family was playing football and went to make a tackle. From what I’ve heard it was a clean hit, but something wasn’t right when No. 28 walked off the field. That night high school junior Ben Hamm was rushed to St. Francis in Tulsa. (Full story here)

Saturday afternoon I received the tough news that Ben was in a coma and it hit pretty hard, but I just keep thinking, “You know what, God’s got this. All I can do is pray. God is in control and He’s much more capable than I.”

I held on to that feeling, that faith if you will, until Monday morning and I got more bad news. His cranial pressure had risen to dangerous levels. Every time I checked Facebook, there was more bad news and more bad reports. And then Monday became Tuesday. I woke up to more bad and for the first time I wasn’t sure. I woke up and cried and just waited for the next update. I checked social media more than I probably ever have looking for anything new and hoping for something good. I didn’t want to go to class or keep any of my responsibilities. Then, I woke up Wednesday and saw a text from my mom. More bad news. And I cried again. I drove to my first class and arrived late. I sat down in my normal area. The professor had already turned the lights down so we could see the PowerPoint and I was thankful for that because I couldn’t stop thinking about it and started crying half way through class. Then I walked to my second class, checked social media again, and cried in class again. After that, I came home and I think a cried a little bit more.

The past few days I’ve thought exclusively about a family that is having to watch their son, their brother, their nephew, their grandson go through the worst situation I could have ever imagined. I’ve thought about a youth group that has to watch its friend fight for life. I’ve thought about my brother having to watch his best friend be touch and go. I’ve thought about the pens and needles everyone is standing on as they wait for the next news and hope and pray for better. It’s the stuff you see in movies. It’s the stuff you hear happen to people you don’t even know. It’s the stuff that you never think will happen to you or anyone close to you.

There’s a part of it all that doesn’t seem real, and there’s a part of me that hopes I will wake up tomorrow and it will all be over or better yet had never happened. There’s a part of me that hopes that the next time I go home that I’ll see Ben up in the front pew with the rest of the youth group. There’s a part of me that hopes Ben and Seth with be joking around and arguing about the best sports team or who’s played the best game on Saturday.

So, I hope and I pray. I start to think about school, but then I just can’t because I know there’s a 16-year-old boy who needs every second of prayer I have and God who wants every second of prayer and devotion I can muster. I write this post not for my glory, but with the hope that Ben’s suffering and his family’s suffering and his friends’ suffering…my brother’s…suffering will not be in vain. I write this with the hope that someone out there will read this and turn to God. I write this with the hope that someone will find their faith.

Some of you have probably never prayed in your life. Some of you have prayed and come to the conclusion that you don’t see the point. Some of you are probably wondering why I still pray and why I still have hope.

I pray because it works. I pray because I serve a God who listens. And I hope because God first had hope in me.

You may not believe in God. You may not pray to God. But I ask that for 5 minutes of your time that you believe in a God that is greater than me or you or all 8 billion people in the world and that you pray because a 16-year-old boy needs just that. He needs you to believe, he needs you to hope, and he needs you to pray.

What say you?

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