Taking Flight, Writing

A Letter to the Woman Who is 19-going-on-20

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(photo by Kathryn Patterson Photography)

It’s been almost a year since I turned twenty. A lot of people said to get ready. That it would be hard and that the struggle would be so very real. People told me that this would be the hardest time in my life. But despite all the warnings and ill-tidings people would proffer, I looked at twenty and I saw hope. I saw joy. I saw new beginnings and unlimited possibility. I saw a chance to reevaluate the direction my life was going and reinvent who I was. So here is a heart to heart I offer to the woman who is about to leave her teenage years behind because ready or not, here twenty comes:

Sweet child,

You’re no longer a child anymore and I’m sure you’ve felt that way for quite some time. All of a sudden the number 20 is thrust upon you. You’ve longed for freedom and for independence. You’ve wrestled with this idea of womanhood – wondering what that exactly means and when exactly you entered that season. You’ve grappled with what a woman lives her life like and how you will live the life before you with strength and dignity and determination, but now you have to live it.

Twenty. It’s a very confusing number with so many implications, so many expectations. Your twenties are scary and ominous. There is so much uncertainty. For what might be the first time in your life you see the things in which you once put your hope for what they are. Meaningless. A vapor in the wind. Up until now you’ve had dreams – big dreams – but in the context of twenty they seem far off and unlikely.

I wish I could tell you all that there is to living out your twenties and living them fully, but I’m still learning just like you. But let me start here.

I hope that you will not lose hope.

I pray that you love life. I pray that you will seek adventure. I pray that you will not lose faith but instead find God in the most amazing and unlikely places simply because you took the time to look. I pray that you will not get caught up in the rat race of life, but that you will charge full speed ahead in the race God has called you to run.

I pray that you know that everything in this next decade of life and in every other decade is very much a choice. I pray that you choose joy even when that seems like the hard thing, the awkward thing. I pray that you choose love even when you don’t have a man in your life to love. I pray that you choose peace when the storm seems too big for you to weather. I pray that you choose kindness. I pray that you choose compassion. I pray that you choose grace. I pray that you choose beauty because, yes, even beauty is a choice. And I’m not talking about the beauty that comes from powder and paint.

I pray that you see the future as opportunity for God to be glorified and to make much of Jesus. I pray that you see the coming years as a blank canvas for Him to create a beautiful masterpiece. I pray that you look past the uncertainty and the unknowns and see all that the Master Artist could do in the coming years – that He can and will make beautiful things from nothing or even bad and horrible things.

I hope you take a chance. I hope you travel all over the world and leave worry behind because He is bigger than your worry. He is bigger than your fears because turning twenty is kind of scary.

But more than anything.

I hope you dream wildly and live adventurously.

In Him,

Candace

(Originally published to my former site, thetakingflightblog.com, on March 11, 2016.)

 

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travel

Taking Flight: Washington + Colorado

In the past month, I’ve been blessed to go to some pretty cool places. I love traveling and if I had an endless supply of money, I don’t think I would be able to keep my feet on the ground. I’d spend every minute exploring new places and trying to catch the next 747 to the next place on my travel checklist.

Over winter break, I went to two states I had already been to and even some already visited towns and cities, but I still made a point to find something and someplace new and amazing about each.

Washington

My first adventure started with a trip to the Pacific Northwest with my family to see more family that we hadn’t seen since my high school graduation so almost three years.

We actually flew into Portland, Oregon before enjoying the feet upon feet of snow and the beauty of the Cascade Mountains. Here are some photos from our stay at a quaint little farm house near Leavenworth, WA!

 The Drive to Leavenworth

   

The Cabin – Yes, there was a piano and horses!



  

Some Family and Some Sledding



  
  
  
  
Oh, and Bella (my cousin’s dog) LOVED her natural habitat!

Breckenridge, CO

Before I continue, I should probably say that I used to HATE going to the mountains. I was a kind of “loathe entirely” moment like from the Grinch because (1) it felt like my family went there every fall break when I was a kid and (2) I passed out every time.

But that’s all past tense junk now because mountains mean wilderness and wilderness means hiking, skiing and all sorts of outdoor fun. The higher the mountain the better regardless of fainting possibilities.

This was my second trip to Breckenridge in my life. Both times I have gone with the college group from church for a ski trip and it’s always been a blast. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than being surrounded by nature that God created and spending time with Christ-minded peers.

Though this was my second time to Breck, I still managed to explore some new slopes and enjoyed the breath-taking view that only harder slopes can offer. You don’t get views even close to that on Green slopes.

Here are some photos from Breck! Sorry they are in short supply compared to the WA photos!

Our Drive



I got Harper Lee’s new novel for the trip!

From the slopes, but not a blue. I was too busy trying to stay up to take a picture!

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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, 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

5 Must-Dos For Exploring the Wichita Mountains

I am so excited for this week! And why you may ask??? I’m going hiking in the Wichita Mountains! The Wichitas are one of Oklahoma’s best kept secrets for a number of reasons…the scenery, the wildlife, and the food. This small cluster of “mountains” that really look like ginormous piles of rocks can make the perfect day trip. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to hiking and there are actually a lot of sites to see while you’re there. So here are a few must-sees and must-dos of the Wichita Mountains!

    1. Mt. Scott: The big thing you should always do when you go to the Wichitas is Mt. Scott. It’s the tallest in the Wichitas at 2,464 feet elevation and the view is breathtaking!

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    2. Jed Johnson Tower: An easy hike but make sure you have a map of the state park and that you use the trail. I wouldn’t recommend that you try to blaze your own trail and I say that based on personal experience. Last time I went, my friend Kathryn and I thought we would be cool kids and do just that. It turns out that “as the crow flies” is VERY deceiving. (That’s the Tower behind us!)

    3. Elk Mountain: This is still a fairly easy hike but definitely more challenging than to Jed Johnson Tower. It’s at a steeper incline, and (if I am remembering correctly) it takes about 40-45 minutes to get to the top if you’re pacing yourself…and definitely pace yourself. The first time I climbed Elk Mountain (which was my first time I visited the Wichitas) I was actually working out regularly and I still got winded.
    4. Holy City: I include this one with some reluctance because if I’m being quite honest, the Holy City is kind of creepy. It’s an interesting site to see, but I felt like I was about to become a part of a real life reenactment of a Criminal Minds episode. Oh, and the Moses room…yeah just don’t. So creepy…
    5. Meers Burgers: Finish your trip the right way and get the best burger you will ever eat at Meers. It’s a hole in the wall kind of place and you will probably have to wait a good hour until your just seated, but definitely go because of this…

      …and for this…

    ….but also this.

     

    These are just a few of the sites I’ve seen at the Wichitas and I hope if you get the chance to go, that you enjoy it as much as I do. Though these are some things I personally have done, there are still a lot of things I want to see and do there such as the Rock Rooms and a trail that leads to a cave!

    So that’s all for now! Stay adventurous!

     

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    Taking Flight

    Backyard Adventures

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    Sometimes the best adventures happen in your own backyard. Okay…maybe I’m a college kid living in an apartment so I don’t have a literal backyard, but I still manage to find a little adventure here and there without leaving this great Okla-home state of mine. (Is that cheesy?)

    But really though. Sometimes it seems like you have to go to far away places with the craziest trails, peaks and rapids like Colorado, Washington, Oregon or the Canadian Rockies or the Andes to be adventurous. I’ll get on social media…pinterest, twitter, instagram… and because I follow a lot of outdoor lifestyle companies and that’s all I’ll see.

    While all those places are amazing, I’ve had some amazing adventures of my own without crossing Oklahoma lines even though this is a state that’s known more for its flat terrain than for its trails, lakes or “mountains.”

    Just a few weeks ago, I went on a retreat with the college group from my church. At this retreat, spend a weekend in a cabin on the river in Broken Bow, Oklahoma (which is about as far southeast in Oklahoma that you can go without being in Texas) and spend time getting to know each and going kayaking and spend time outdoors and kayak…and did I mention kayaking.

    If you can’t tell that’s one of my favorite parts about this trip, but this year I wanted just a little more adventure. As the weekend of the fall retreat started to get closer, I started to think about how cool it would be to have a hammock for this trip. I eventually decided to invest in an Eno hammock. For anyone who doesn’t know, Enos aren’t cheap. I went back and forth as to whether I should get one seeing as I’m a college student with finite funds that need to last. So, I even called my personal accountant (my mommy) to see if it was a good idea, but I think by the time I called her I had already set my mind on making the best purchase I have ever made.

    So I finally broke down and bought one. I actually got it the Thursday before the retreat and broke it out the next day just hours before we loaded up the church van (mostly because I didn’t want to look like an idiot who didn’t know how to put up a hammock). It turns out it’s really simple and anyone can do it, but I was also just so excited about my Eno that I had to give it a test drive.

    Before I continue, I might want to preface the rest of this article with the statement that this weekend might have been an adventure fail.

    I say that because I decided to be a cool kid and sleep in my hammock. Well that lasted one night because even with a microfiber blanket I still felt like a popsicle in the morning because temps got down to 50 degrees.

    But at least it was an adventure.

     

     

     

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    Taking Flight

    #DoHardThings

    A few months ago, my friend Kathryn encouraged me in this journey to take flight. She probably didn’t know it at the time, but she told me a simple phrase that has stuck with me whenever I think I can’t, whenever I think something is too scary, whenever I think something is beyond my ability.

    Do hard things.

    Three words. That’s all it is, but it’s a phrase the really caught on for both of us, and I’d like to think that God used Kathryn and this simple phrase to help us both grow in new ways.

    Growing up, I was a shy child. Hard to believe, right? Okay, maybe not.

    When I was little, people would come up to me at church to say hello and I would quickly hide behind my mom or dad. I was that kid who was scared of falling, scared of heights, and scared of getting hurt long before I even broke my ankle at the age of six. I was so timid and so cautious that it was almost dangerous. I had my shell. I had my comfort zone, and I liked it there.

    I never thought I would ever become adventurous in any capacity of the word…but I did.

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    On Monday, Kathryn and I went hiking in the Wichita Mountains in Southwestern Oklahoma. No, Oklahoma is not completely flat. Yes, Oklahoma has mountains…sort of. Any who, since we didn’t have classes because of the holiday, we took off to the mountains because we just couldn’t wait until January for a trip to the mountains. So we hiked, we bouldered, we got a little lost because we didn’t get a map first (I would not recommend especially for long hiking trips). And looking back I would have never have done five or more years ago what I did Monday.

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    I did hard things. In recent years, I’ve challenged myself to go out of my comfort zone. I’ve pushed myself to talk to that person or to go to knew heights or try something new. My senior year of high school I learned how to play golf, a sport I never thought I would play (seriously, that is). My freshman year of college I tried sushi and hiked the Wichitas for the first time. My sophomore year I went kayaking for the first time. This past May I traveled to a new country and continent.

    I still have a ways to go, but I think the phrase “do hard things” has caught on so well that other people have taken notice. Just the other day at work, the other intern said she could see me taking a year after college to travel the world. “You’re just so adventurous!” she said.

    All I could say was, “Why thank you! I try!”

    So, take flight and do hard things. Climb a mountain. Hike for a week, a month, three months. Learn a new skill that terrifies you. Train for a race. Explore a new city, state, or country. Interview for that dream job you really want. Leave that job you actually hate. Break off that relationship and learn to be an independent, solo amigo, single for a year. Guys, boys, men…how ever you see yourself…ask that girl out!!!! Girls, ladies, women…learn to say no and raise your standards!!!

    Find what is hardest for you to do and do it!

    (Photo credit: feature photo, Kathryn Patterson. Check out her Facebook page!)

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