Free Flying Faith

Faith and all the wonder and terror of it. Not so much anchored…more tied to a kite or a wild and friendly dolphin.

Advent Stories: Hookers, Heathens, and Me

One week til Christmas. One week til we celebrate God being with us.  
For some people, their lives are so full of family and friends, hot chocolate and Christmas Lights, that the darkness is just a shadow in the corner or a fading streetlight down the road.  For others, this is a time where the darkness threatens to swallow them whole.
Light flaunts its warm power in the life of one and barely flicks the skin of another covered instead in cold, dark loneliness. 
Advent is the waiting. The waiting 100s of years for God to come and make things right. Waiting generations for triumph and light and love to flood the world.  Waiting for God to be with us – really with us. We need God with us.  God, who says He is Light and Love, and yet seems to leave us lonely and scared in dark places. 
God, are you avoiding me?
    Where are you when I need you? Psalm 10:1-2
 
Advent is the waiting. We have no choice. Reminded of our powerlessness against the speed of time, we wait.  We cannot save ourselves or our friends from the pain of waiting on God to BE WITH US. 
With Christmas comes the promise of a future where we are whole and full. Christmas is the promise that while the pain is still here, God is doing a new thing. He came down to sit in the dark with us.  
And this is what He also asked us to do for each other too. While we wait, we wait together.  I will wait with you. 
The light breaks through dark’s hard shell at the exact points we meet each other.  At the loving touch of a friend, a spark […]

The Crowd in the Bedroom

The Love & Making It guest essays are rocking my world. These women have written from their guts, helping us all ask hard questions and enjoy our sexuality with more honesty.  Have you read them all yet? Go here!
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Today’s guest, Tara Owens, is an expert in spiritual direction, sexuality and God.  She lives in the professional and spiritual halls I want to roam.  Her words are smart and insightful. THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE SEX MATTER IN THE BIGGEST WAYS. Beware, you will read them and not realize how deeply they hook into your psyche.  But, do not fear, Tara leads by going first.  
If you want your sex life to be more Godly, let Tara’s words guide you there today.
Love and Making It is a series all about sex and sensuality.  Join us in finding the way back to confident joy in our bodies and in our bedrooms. 
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The Crowd In The Bedroom
By Tara Owens
 
Here’s what I’d been telling myself: I’ve already done this work.
I’d gotten up early, picked up a few friends, and driven two hours north for a day-long workshop on sexuality and desire led by Dr. Dan Allender, a Christian therapist and author. It’s a topic I care deeply about, one I teach and speak about, one I write about often.
And slowly, quietly, I’d gotten more than a little self-righteous about it.
Oh, not publicly. Not in talking with and sitting with those whose stories I tend. Not as I taught, not as I read or wrote.
No, it was worse. I’d been slowly getting more and more self-righteous in my marriage, in my own bedroom.
If you’ve never heard Dan Allender speak or read any of his books, let me compare his workshops to being in […]

3 Things to do to Make Holiday Moments Matter

Because, it’s the holidays. Thanksgiving is almost here. Christmas too. And we know who we are…
What I thought would be a short post about the holidays for a link-up with an amazing spiritual leader and director, Tara Owen, has become a mission statement.  I refuse to see failure or stress in moments that I didn’t think worked out “right”.  The wrongness does not make the moments worthless. Only my attitude can make them worth-more or worth-less.  
Keep reading if you want to join me!
Because, it’s the holidays. Thanksgiving is almost here. Christmas too. And we know who we are…
 
We are moment makers.
We plan and we dream. We buy ornaments and the perfect decorations; not from Pottery Barn (ok, maybe one thing), but even better than that. We find each piece of our decor all over the city… some at Michaels, Target, Ikea, save-on-crafts, Hobby Lobby … we arrange, we find, and we organize. We make treats and we pray over them when we remember to take the time. We want to create the perfect Christmas Season full of a love our families and friends and OURSELVES can feel. We want to feel it! We want it to soak into our bones in every possible way.
We light candles to remember the light. I have candles. Oh, I love them so much!** My favorite ones are discontinued. I can’t find them anywhere. And when I burn through the last two I have, there will be no more Christmas or Jesus in the world.
We listen to music, we make smells, we bring out the soft blankets and warm boots. We read scripture. We make lots and lots of plans to see every person possible because we love […]

I am a wife and I am a Jesus Feminist

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
 
I am a wife and I am a Jesus feminist.

In the game we were taught, we had assigned roles.
I am a woman. I am the church.
You are a man. You are Jesus. ???

You get to be Jesus in this story?!

Have you ever played an imaginary game with your kids? Or did you play as different characters when you were a kid? What did you love to play? Were you the hero? Were you the parent in charge of it all? Wasn’t there always one kid who took the best role, the best character, and demanded you be like … the pet… or the baby… or Robin to their Batman?? That just sucked, didn’t it?

If you are a younger sibling, this was probably your life-story for a time. 🙂 Well…

Imagine being a woman in the church.
Imagine being told, from the day you started to form a true identity, that your role is to be the sidekick. Even when you were on fire, you were never the hero. To fulfill someone else’s vision, someone else’s hopes and dreams, someone else’s ambitions… this was your life’s work; not as a choice or a calling, but as an assigned character to play in someone else’s game.
People with a desire to lead need followers. Kingdom builders need servants. If men […]

By |November 11th, 2013|Free Flying Faith|2 Comments|

Learning New Things

Do you hate learning new things in front of people? I do. A lot.
I haven’t learned to ballroom dance because I do not want my husband to see me “learning” to ballroom dance. Until I try in front of him, I can keep the mysterious question going…  “is Nicole an awesome, naturally-gifted ballroom dancer?? Could be!!”
… I am settling for that.

A few years ago, we went on a cruise with a large group of friends. One night, we went to the karaoke bar. Now, I love singing when no one can hear me: loud concerts, the shower, my car. But, singing karaoke in front of people – especially friends with whom I work and will continue to see regularly…? Nope. No way. I actually remember saying the words, “I like what you currently think of me. There’s no way I am messing that up by singing in front of you.”
“I like what you currently think of me.” 
 
I am more comfortable with the
potential of being awesome than living the
struggle of becoming awesome.
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Before we get to all the life-lessons I should have learned by now, let’s talk truth for a second:
We are judgmental as people. Every single day, I hear people whisper critiques and make decisions about each other. Oh, he’s not great at this. She’s not ready for that.  I, myself, have seen someone try something and thought, oh. That was not very impressive.

We make decisions and categorize each other’s abilities.  And, then, as opportunities arise – both professionally and personally – we decide who is allowed to participate. Who is good enough?
Entire TV channels are built on this, this “making or not making the cut.”  You mess up once and you are out. Passion doesn’t […]

When We Were On Fire

If you’ve read this blog since it’s inception, you know I am a woman of open and hopeful and thrashing faith. I believe in a big God who loves each individual… but that belief is a wrestling I do fresh every day. Like Jacob in Genesis, I wrestle and prevail, and like Jacob, I am constantly finding God in new places – finding Him Even Here.  I met Jesus by name in a youth group when I was 14.  This entry is a poetic remembering of that time as part of Addie Zierman’s synchroblog in honor of her beautiful new book:
When We Were On Fire.
 
We ran through fields and over chain-linked fences to escape the hands of the enemy, in practice for the rapture. Dropped off in the middle of the hills and left to find our way back to the school auditorium, we feared Jesus would someday leave us behind because we didn’t truly believe.
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We sang at the top of our lungs with Joel Weldon at Hume Lake. We sang of love and hope and a Jesus who was everything. We knelt and sang quietly, trying to find the perfect pitch so Jesus would know we were worth loving… and so the boys next to us would too.
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We piled in vans and went to outdoor festivals to rock for God. When we were on fire, we could do anything for God! We moshed for God. We bought tshirts for God. We floated on crowds who lifted us up on their hands – 1000s of hands lifting us up so we could be closer to God, voices of love and cheering and camaraderie.
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We held hands and vowed to give our very bodies to God […]

Courage and a Poem

What have you done in your life that took courage?
This is what my boss asked us all in our staff meeting: What have you done that took courage?
Sitting there quietly, hands knitted together, making eye-contact so as not to seem distracted or weak; I let him finish and I listened as my friends and coworkers stood up to speak about skydiving, surviving strokes, having kids, traveling on missions trips, going to college… so many amazing things.
And while I can remember doing individually impressive things that took courage, the truth is… for me…
 
EVERYTHING TAKES COURAGE
Getting out of bed
Answering the phone
Calling AT&T
Singing when you can hear me
Talking to my neighbors
Admitting to really liking something
Going after my dreams
Parenting my girls
Creating from my heart
Everything

Calling AT&T takes as much courage as skydiving, for me.
But now, I have come to a place in life where I realize, I cannot take fear into consideration anymore – at least not anxiety, worry, insecurity. FEAR in it’s purest, most primal force, can save our lives. I am not talking about that kind of fear… I am talking about the insidious kind that takes us captive, binds us, so that we never grow in the direction of the sun.  We bend and warp to it’s controls. We never grow straight and strong. I don’t want that for me and I surely don’t want that for You or my daughters.
So remember today; the day this very scared person told you to be brave. DO IT AFRAID.
So remember today; the day this very courageous person told you to be brave. DO IT AFRAID.
This is why I wrote this poem, “Hello, Monsters”

 
“Tell fearful souls,
    “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here.”
Isaiah 35:3

Hi Mom!

When your mom reads your blog, you realize a few things…
The person with the biggest love and biggest hopes for you is here. She’s reading. She’s cheering. She’s feeling it at levels you don’t even feel it.
She’s a lot like God, my mom. And God is like my mom.
 
See it started when I wrote this piece on beauty.
And then my mom wrote this comment:
“There has always been a beauty about you that is stunning to me, both outside and inside. Your beauty physically is touching precious and great. Your eyes shine such a light. Your skin is like silk and your face brightens a room. And then from the inside your essence takes my breath away. The beauty formed escapes from you and makes everyone around you feel more beautiful, more full of life. I have felt blessed to have been given the gift of your life being, to have seen and known such a touch of pure heaven. And yes your daughter also stuns me at times when I look at her. I think how can someone actually be that beautiful. She has yet to fully know and shine her light, but she is blessed by a beauty that I do not think will ever diminish, only excel. Sometimes it is scary just how beautiful she is, and yet so real and so talented in her expression and the truth of her being. Some of that thanks to you and some thanks to the touch of God.”
THIS.

This is what my mom does for me. She’s a lot like God. And, God is a lot like my mom.

If God is real and cares about us as a parent, then it follows that God loves […]

Jealousy Remedy

 

The Interwebs of Jealousy.

The more active you become online the more overwhelming it can become. I look at Pinterest and the world of blogs and it sure seems like there’s a huge movement of women and men taking it upon themselves to be amazing.

Let’s take just one topic, for instance: FOOD

“Talented Girl’s” evening…
Organic, home-grown, or farmers-market-bought produce… fresh salads, home-made salad dressing… and for dessert she grinds up those almonds herself to make that almond butter and drizzle in dark chocolate made from local, small-farm ingredients. Oh, and, side-note, when she purchased the block of chocolate, she also somehow helped save starving children in Guatemala. She took crisp-focus pictures from multiple angles at every step of the process and put it all on Pinterest, Tweeted it, posted it on her Blog, and on Instagram too – ending with a beautiful picture of beautiful kids in a beautiful backyard under homemade bunting.
Oh, the foodporn! Oh, the earth-helping, child-saving glory!!
Delicious. Real food. Made from scratch with no processed ingredients. I am beyond jealous. Not only do I WANT the food in my mouth but I also want to have made it, grown it, taken such pretty pictures of my creation that others pin it repeatedly, and written eloquently about it all so someone else (NOT ME) could be jealous.

 

well…

I guess I could take pictures of the Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken we ate last night. I could take a picture as I pull it out of the TJs freezer it grew in. I could talk about how the cold bag kept my ice cream from melting in the car. I could take extreme close-ups with my phone as I rip open the bag with my bare […]

Hello, Monster

There was a time when my daughter was very scared of monsters. These were nights of 3a room visits and long conversations in the dark. Nights when the blinking light on the smoke detector threatened to eat her in her sleep.
During the day, we could talk openly about her fears and I tried to find humor and perspective for my Dear One. “Face your monsters,” I’d say. “Monsters chase us when we run. But, when you turn to face them, they either run away or they play with you.”

So, one day we tried to look straight at the monsters and get to know them…

 

BEING A MONSTER IS LIKE….
E = my daughter’s answers, Age 5
M = My answers, Age unnecessary

E – gobbling up chips really fast

M – knocking down a door when you try to open it.

E – Eating everything around you when you are hungry

M – trying to bounce a basketball and it goes through the floor.

E – Winning every basketball game because people are scared of you.

M – Being scared of the light instead of the dark

E – they like to sleep in your room all night and protect you. In the morning, they are in your room with the lights and blinds off.

M – looking in the mirror and startling yourself

E – being scared of your shadow

M – trying to watch TV but your fingers are too big for the remote control buttons

E – …So he just kicked the TV

M – wanting to make friends but everyone just runs away.

E – eating everything (including the jar) in one bite

M – loving camping and scary stories around a campfire

E – when you sleep in a tent, make sure to bring meat to eat

M […]