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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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

Our Harshest Critics

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As someone who creates through words, there is no one more critical of my own writing than myself. I remember in high school when my friends would tell me I was a good writer. They would read something I had written and would praise me for how good it was, and I would always think that it wasn’t good enough. It had to be better. It could be better. I could do better. Even to this day, a friend will tell me what a great writer I am and sometimes I don’t believe it because I have this nagging voice in my head saying I’m not as good as I could be.

Sometimes we are our own worst critic and unnecessarily so. But there is a harsher critic, and she is our fellow woman.

They start out are girls who think that if you’re not chasing every boy who walks by then what kind of girl are you. And they are girls who aren’t boy crazy but who condemn those who are.

Then they grow into girls who think that girls who go to Christian universities are only looking for their MRS degree. And they are girls who think that girls who go to state schools are evil and unholy.

They grow up to be women who have worked and lived in one place their whole life who think women who like new challenges, a bit of risk taking and adventure, and having more than one job over a 10 or 20 year span are foolish. And they are women who like a challenge and that bit of risk who think women who have stayed in one place their whole life just like to play it safe, are boring, and simply don’t understand.

They are women who think that women who aren’t making a certain amount of money or not at that position in the work place are not that successful. And they are women who make enough just to be comfortable who think women who make six digits are only out to make six digits.

They are working moms who look down on stay-at-home moms for not doing anything with there life. And they are stay-at-home moms who look down on working moms for depriving their children of motherly affection and declare them to be bad mothers because they aren’t staying home with their kids.

Women are all too good at criticizing each other. We treat it almost like sport. To see who can find more to criticize about who.

The Ruth of the Bible is no stranger to the sport of criticism from her fellow woman. Some of the criticism she endured is laid out for us, but some of it you have to read between the lines to pick up on.

She was criticized for sticking with Naomi…by Naomi herself and I have no doubt by her family, friends and neighbors as well. Why would you come with me?

She was criticized for not seeking out a man and the security that would come with taking another husband after losing her first. After all, she would be provided for, given every necessity and earthly desire she could possibly want, and most likely have the opportunity to bear children. Would you remain unmarried for them?

She was criticized for leaving her homeland, the one place she had always known and probably loved, to be a comfort and support to the mother of the man she had loved. Everything. Her culture. Her family. Her memories. She was leaving it all for a nation that boasted in being the chosen people of the “one true God”—whatever that meant. She was leaving her people for a people who had a rap for being pretentious because they thought they were “chosen.” She was criticized from leaving the gods of her childhood and seeking the God of the Jews, the one true God. The God of said pretentious people. Your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. God back with her.

From her mother-in-law to her sister-in-law, from the people of her homeland and to the people of the Israelite nation. Who was in Ruth’s corner? No one. Even her late husband was probably rolling over in his grave at the prospect that she was going to the place he and his family had left and thought of as a desolate wasteland full of famine and grief. A place God had forsaken and brought famine down on.

There’s constructive criticism that comes from wisdom and experience. And then there’s criticism for the sport of it. It becomes a matter of how many flaws can I find in her so I can make esteem myself, elevate myself, put myself on a pedestal.

I think about the two women Paul specifically calls out in Philippians.

Euodia and Syntyche.

Two generally godly women who had served along side Paul and Clement but who were having some kind of disagreement. I have no idea what the disagreement was about. I’m not a Bible scholar or an expert in this matter, but I could almost guarantee that they were heavy into criticizing each other. Maybe for life decisions. Maybe for a matter that really had little significance to the outcome of the kingdom.

And as Paul pleaded with these women to agree, to put aside the criticism and work for His glory, I only ask to put aside whatever criticism you harbor to the woman next to you – your neighbor who God commanded you to love – and at the very least agree that glorifying God is the pursuit. But more…remember grace, love, kindness and compassion and put the fruits into practice.

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Books

Captivating

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“Every woman has a beauty to unveil.”
John Eldredge from Captivating

Just this past weekend, I went to Barnes and Noble. I had been itching to buy a book for a while and thought now was as good a time as any because what else would a college student about to enter finals season do? Obviously not study.

Originally, I went in looking for a book about coffee–I’m lame, I know–but instead I walked out with Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Kathryn, my friend and trustee photographer, had told me about this book some months back so I thought I would check it out. So far I’m two chapters in and all I can say is “Wow!” If I could afford to give every woman on the planet a copy, I would! But sadly I’m a poor college student. (I would probably give every man a copy too if I could because it’s one of the closest things you will ever find to a guide to women.)

As I write this, I keep going back and forth between wanting to write about this book and wanting to read it! I look at my computer screen and then I look back to the book sitting next to me and it’s taking me way longer to write this than it should!

In this book authors John and Stasi are a husband-wife duo who try to capture the psyche of a woman while also encouraging women to embrace who they already are in God in this inspiring book.

Even within the first few chapters, they recognize that it is part of being a woman to want to feel beautiful, be pursued, and have an irreplaceable role in an amazing adventure. What’s even more amazing about this book is not only do they recognize some of the most basic aspects of being a woman, but they recognize that it is okay for women to recognize that about themselves.

Women don’t have to hide behind this impossible-to-achieve feminist image of a strong, independent woman who’s tough as nails and doesn’t need anybody. On the other hand, women don’t have to hide behind the also impossible-to-achieve Proverbs 31 woman and feel like their place is in the kitchen or to be insanely busy to the point of exhaustion 24/7.

The authors recognize that there is a disconnect between the woman, the world and the church. While much of society boasts the image of the feminist woman as the ideal who bares her beauty without any reservations, the church sometimes buries a woman’s beauty and discredits its worth. And by discrediting the beauty of a woman, the church discredits the very essence of God that is within her.

With these two vastly differing views on what a woman should be, it’s easy as a woman to feel like you’re the object of a vicious tug-o-war battle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. John and Stasi Eldredge urge women to…well…be women.

The fact of the matter is women possess a beauty that is to be unveiled, and I can’t wait to read more of Captivating!

Be adventurous in the adventure where you cannot be replaced.

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Taking Flight

No-Makeup November and We Are Enough

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(Photo courtesy of Kathryn Patterson)

There are a lot of things I aspire to be in this life–a writer, a world traveler, a coffee shop owner–the list goes on and on. Though a lot of my dreams are pretty far fetched and will most likely never happen, the one thing I aspire to be above all else is a woman who empowers other women.

I started to notice this calling when I started to notice how often women around me would say one simple but tremendously detrimental phrase. For women of all ages and backgrounds, there is one phrase that we always seem to repeat. We tend to say it without hesitation and with no reservations. We say it for a number of reasons and that is the phrase “I am not _______.”

I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, outgoing enough, quiet enough, ambitious enough, talented enough. You fill in the blank.

Women are very good at self-deprecation. We are the masters at pointing out what we are not all while being blind to what we are. And usually the things we tell ourselves we are not, we actually are.

So hear this: The only thing we are not is perfect. No, we don’t have it all together, but we are strong, we are beautiful, we are smart, we each have our own unique and amazing personality, we are ambitious, and we are talented. We are more than capable of conquering our fears and achieving our goals.

We are enough.

One year ago, a great friend and the photographer extraordinaire who provides most of the pictures for this blog told me about a ministry aimed at teaching young women just that. Out of Nashville, Tennessee is RAVE Ministry, a community of young women striving to live a more purposeful life. Kathryn encouraged the girls in my church group to participate in a thing that they do every year called No-Makeup November, which is a campaign aimed at promoting women’s identity in Christ. Sure I had heard of No-Shave November, but No-Makeup November???

Despite my lack of awareness, when Kathryn suggested to the girls in my church group to participate, I couldn’t have been more excited! A whole month without makeup? Bring it!

Because let’s be honest, any girl who says she likes wearing makeup every day is probably lying. Personally, I hate wearing makeup most days. It’s expensive. Putting it on is time consuming. And when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how expensive or how “high-quality” the makeup you buy is, you will always feel like you have something on your face when you’re wearing it.

But more than that, we am more than the makeup we wear. We are enough without the mascara, the foundation, the blush. We are still just as talented, just as smart, just beautiful, just as capable without it. So regardless of your religion, I hope you are empowered and that you will join me and so many other women for No-Makeup November because you are more than the makeup you wear.

You are enough.

(Just as an added bonus, here are some brands that believe in empowering women as well. Tissues recommended.)

 

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