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, Writing

Praying for Paris

Paris.

It’s a place that fills some of my most treasured memories. It’s where I had the best crepe of my life. It’s where I fell in love with coffee. It’s where I found the most amazing bookstore (thanks to Amanda Scott!). It’s where I formed new friendships and then watched the Eiffel Tower light up the night sky with them. We laughed. We explored. We were adventurous! When I was in Paris and the UK, I felt like I was finally starting to live the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic.

But that was before the terror. Before the city of lights went dark and the city of love felt fear. Before over 100 people died. Before people no longer felt safe leaving their homes.

I remember Paris being a bustling city that never stops, but now I imagine it’s streets and Metro stations deserted and it’s world-class cafes and patisseries empty. I imagine the tables that face the streets longing for a spectator willing to watch passers-by, willing to observe the theater before them. But I imagine the theater of the streets longing for anyone to walk by as well.*

Though France may be our oldest ally, the French and Americans haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. I certainly felt those tensions when I had the opportunity to visit Paris. But we sympathize…no empathize. Americans know what it is to experience an attack on home soil. We know what it is be scared to go anywhere. We know the fear, the hurt, the anger, the sadness. We’ve asked why, how could they, and what next.

So, to Paris and all of France, we know. We stand by you and we pray for you.

*For anyone who has never been to Paris, many of the cafes and restaurants there have patio seating and all the chairs face the street. While I was in Paris, a local told me and the group I was with that it’s a French pastime to “people watch.”

 

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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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