Welcome to FindingFreePodcast.com!
Finding Free Podcast is a place for exploration and wandering, where you can sift through your own life and faith, and uncover the truths about yourself that have been there all along. Amy and Craig Andrews are regular people who want to create safe space for all to explore questions of faith and culture.
Our hope is that these conversations can be a place for you to interact with real stories of real people learning what it means to truly live out their full, meaningful and authentic lives. May this be a space for you to find rest, community and encouragement for your own journey to finding your free, even when it doesn’t always look like what’s expected.
Please excuse our temporary website while we get things up and running.
Thanks for listening!
Finding Free Podcast Episodes
Episode 40 - Faith Deconstruction: Finding Your Own Answers with Stan Mitchell
“In the most general sense, faith deconstruction begins with people realizing that the answers they possess are answers they have memorized that were achieved or developed by other people or authority figures…they were not their own answers. The demand of deconstruction is not that you find different answers, though often that happens, but that you ask the questions and find out for yourself.”
Questions about faith are often unnerving...for those asking them, and for those hearing them. When those we love ask hard questions, the temptation is to give someone an answer to hold onto rather than to sit with them as they find the answer themselves. The church simply must make space for the process of asking hard questions and discovering answers.
We were able to sit down again with our friend Stan Mitchell to talk about faith questions and what it's like to walk the road of faith deconstruction. Stan is the founding Pastor of GracePointe Church in Nashville, TN and is a leader of an online community called Everybody Church. We discuss with Stan why asking spiritual questions is a healthy practice that ultimately leads to a deeper faith formation if we are willing to do the work of walking the journey.
Episode 39 - Just for Laughs: Dad Jokes with Craig Andrews and Jeff Bell
Recently Craig and Jeff Bell did a “dad joke” video for Cedarbridge Baptist Church as a fun way to highlight Father's Day. Some of you have seen this video, but what you didn’t see was the rest of the almost full hour of what they recorded. In this episode, we are releasing the full unedited version, and for laughs, we even included soundbites of Amy trying to get the intro right at the end. Enjoy and we hope you laugh with us! And just a warning, we are talking about Craig and Jeff, so some of these jokes and language may not be suitable for younger ears!
Episode 38 - Faith Deconstruction: Craig Shares Experiences From his own Journey
Deconstruction is a bit of a buzz word these days, but for right reasons. Many people, especially those who grew up in a church atmosphere, find that at some point they need to rethink, unpack and "deconstruct" the theology, ideas and foundations that they were given early in life, sorting out elements that caused harm and eventually finding their way to a more complete and wholistic theology. This process is a necessary part of spiritual growth, but can be scary and alienating. In some church settings "doubt" and "questions" are even viewed as a lack of faith or even sin. In this episode, Craig shares part of his own story of deconstruction and talks about what it was like to walk through doubts and questions in a church setting. He shares how he has processed both positive and negative church experiences, and gives thoughts on how to be helpful if you or someone you know is experiencing faith deconstruction.
Episode 37 - Sexual Abuse in the Church: An Interview with Survivor Keith Morris
Trigger alert: sexual abuse, rape, sexual trauma, religious sexual abuse
There are some experiences none of us want to have inside knowledge about. Yet too often the unbelievable happens, and we find ourselves living through experiences that are so horrifying, our lives are instantly and forever changed.
Keith Morris grew up as a preacher's kid with a life that revolved around church in every way. As a young preteen in the 1970's, Keith was was befriended, groomed and sexually abused repeatedly by a family friend and prominent religious figure of the time. After the abuse ended Keith turned to alcohol to help him cope with the trauma, which led him further down a spiral of pain.
It took Keith years to understand and work through the trauma of his experiences. He has since given his life to sharing his story, traveling and teaching about sexual abuse, advocating for abuse victims and working to change laws that hold abusers accountable: all giving hope to others facing similar experiences.
We consider it an honor to have Keith Morris with us to share his story, and hope that it will bring light and awareness to the epidemic of sexual abuse, religious abuse and sexual trauma.
This is not an easy listen. But it is important. If at any time you are triggered or need to talk through personal experiences on this subject we urge you to contact the National Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
Episode 36 - Trauma & Our Bodies: An Interview with Therapist Sarah Lewis
Any amount of research on stress and your body will tell you that chronic unresolved stress has a negative impact on your overall health. But what happens when life hands us more than stress, and in fact, we have to deal with experiences that are traumatic? Some trauma is easy to recognize because of the severity of the experiences themselves, but other traumatic experiences may be harder to identify, making it more difficult to get the help that is needed.
We are delighted to share our most recent conversation with Sarah Lewis, who is a Licensed Trauma Therapist.
Join us as we talk with Sarah about how to deal with trauma, learn how it impacts our bodies, and listen as she identifies the reasons so many people suffer from unresolved traumatic experiences. Most importantly, we discuss the path to healing and wholeness that is possible for anyone struggling with the effects of trauma in their lives.
Episode 35 - LGBTQ+ Affirmation: An Interview with Trauma Therapist Sarah Lewis
Despite our best efforts, sometimes we hurt those we love with our words and actions, causing trauma and pain that has to be unpacked and worked through for years. This happens in every family; it is a part of life as we know it. Yet often families of LGBTQ+ individuals have a deeper levels of hurt and abandonment. Statistics of self-harm and depression are much higher in LGBTQ+ teens than average. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, and every story is different. Our conversation with trauma therapist Sarah Lewis uncovers some of the layers that LGBTQ+ families must journey through as they seek to listen and understand each other. What can parents say during critical moments of conversation that will foster openness and communication? What can the Church do to be clear and helpful for LGBTQ+ families as they navigate unfamiliar space that might make them anxious and uneasy? In what ways is the LGBTQ+ community needing the Church to show up and be what we claim to be? Our hope is that this conversation will provide much needed information and encouragement while challenging churches to love others better than before.
Episode 34 - Finding Full LGBTQ+ Affirmation: A Conversation with Stan Mitchell
We are excited to share our conversation with Stan Mitchell with you on Finding Free Podcast! This episode is a must-listen for our community. Stan is Co-Founder of Everybody Church, an online community created as a haven for anyone feeling spiritually homeless, but specifically as a place of inclusion and affirmation for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have been harmed and ostracized by the local church. He spends a lot of his time now working with families and churches as they navigate how the Bible supports affirmation and love of individuals regardless of their sexuality.
As Craig and I studied the Bible with respect to LGBTQ+ inclusion, we found it so helpful to listen to other voices that were focused on the Biblical text and true to the message and life of Jesus. Stan has been one of those voices. His depth of knowledge and scriptural wisdom, coupled with his ability to clearly communicate that message, helped us navigate our path from a traditional/literal theology to an inclusive way of looking at scripture. We are so glad you can join in on our conversation and know that Stan will be one of those voices for you as well.
Episode 33 - Finding Full LGBTQ+ Affirmation: A Closer Look at Scripture
During any conversation on LGBTQ+ inclusivity and the Church, the topic of scripture takes center-stage. What does the Bible say about same sex orientation? What does Jesus say? Are there any identified bible verses that address same sex relationships? In this episode, we walk through specific scripture verses that have historically been used to exclude the LGBTQ+ community from full participation in the Church. These verses are often referred to as 'Clobber Passages.' We believe there are other ways to look at these particular passages than what has traditionally been taught and be faithful to the gospel message and to Christ. We invite you to join us as we walk through these verses and share how we have come to look at them differently.
As it was for us, we know that changing your way of thinking on this particular topic is a long journey, especially if you were raised in a more "traditional" church setting. These scriptures are often debated by scholars and we appreciate your willingness to consider a perspective that might be different. We invite you to listen and take time to sit with the ideas we share.
Episode 32 - Finding Full Affirmation: Our Journey to LGBTQ+ Inclusion
I have heard it said many times before, “The Gospel is either good news for everyone or it is good news for no one.” Yet time and time again, one group or another gets pushed aside, deemed not acceptable, excluded...by the Church. This conversation is a personal journey that Craig and I have been on for years, and we’ve decided that we can’t be authentic to our own faith or integrity without publicly stating that we are fully affirming of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. We have witnessed first-hand and far too many times the trauma and oppression that exclusion from the church inflicts upon the LGBTQ+ community and believe that same-sex sexual orientation and the diversity of gender identities included is not a sin.
No, we haven’t always believed this, and this podcast is a conversation about that journey. In no way is this intended to be a slam on our traditional faith upbringings or the people that led us and taught us so well...this is simply a story about where we are now. We aren’t trying to “start something” or cause a riff between us and those who may view this differently. We simply want to say publicly: to the LGBTQ+ community, we see you, you are loved by us and by God, and we are sorry we have spent too much time as silent allies. In the words of Maya Angelo, “once we know better, we must do better.” This is one step in that direction.
Episode 31 - Originally Sinful or Originally Blessed: What if We Have Thought About it Wrong All Along?
Often there are ideas and theologies that we are taught that we hold onto for a while in life, but that eventually we realize need reframing and rethinking. The doctrine of “original sin,” the idea that every human being is born completely separated from God by sin inherited from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is one that many Christ followers have believed and lived into, though its roots can’t actually be traced back the creation stories in Genesis. Instead, what we see in the creation story is a story of God giving human beings an identity of "original blessing."
How did we end up with a doctrine of original sin? What would it look like to live into our original blessing, and let that be the identity that frames our lives? What if we looked at "blessed" as our identity as people instead of a "reward" from God? Dive into this conversation starter with us as we talk about original sin vs. original blessing.
Book referenced in podcast is Original Blessing by Danielle Shroyer
Episode 30 - Pandemic Life: We're Struggling Too!
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has everything in life as we knew it either on hold or moving forward in a very different way than we have known before. Every decision seems to take so much effort and yield more problems. We find ourselves on a wheel of uncertainty...spinning and spinning. Anyone else feeling tired or anxious from this constant spinning? Our mental bandwidth is maxed out and Every Little Thing is a Really Big Deal.
Everyone is feeling the strain these days and we wanted to let you know you are not alone in the mayhem. We had fun keeping it real and sharing some of our own COVID struggles!
Episode 29 - Mo's (my dad) Last Game Coaching at Apex
From 1972 to 1980, my dad (aka Mo, short for Morris) was the varsity basketball coach at Apex High School. When Amy and I were starting our Finding Free Podcast I needed to do a sound test for our phone interview equipment. So I called dad and got him to tell me about the last game he coached at Apex. I was 3 years old, and I do not remember any of this, but I know it had to be exciting! It came down to a last second shot with the ball in the hands of Anthony Byrd who would go on to play at Georgia Tech. These years while he was coaching are great memories for my family and his players, most of whom he still keeps in contact with to this day. I've always enjoyed this story and I hope you do too!
Episode 28 - Power & Position: Religious Leaders Should Use it for Good and Not Harm
Power dynamics in churches...this not something we like to talk about often, especially in today's political and social climate. It's hard but necessary for religious leaders to think about the power they wield in relationships and how it impacts those they communicate with. Especially in a religious context, power is often abused, causing trauma and broken connections. This can lead people to be hurt by the religious leaders that they tend to trust the most.
Discussing power in relationship dynamics is very tricky, and is not something we look at lightly. Religion has not always been the safe place it needs to be for the oppressed and at times has been a cause of much hurt and shame from people in powerful positions.
From pastors and ministers to teachers and bosses, how can we be mindful of the power we hold as individuals? What are some of the ways people subtly abuse power through their words and actions? Can we recognize ways in which we can use our own power and influence to raise the voices of those around us? Can we learn to use power in healthy ways, working for the good of the community at large? Our hope is that this conversation will be one small lean towards a healthy awareness of our interconnectedness.
Episode 27 - Amy's 7-12-2020 Sermon - Patience: The Link Between Patience and Grace
Living in a culture that thrives on "more" and "faster," it's no secret that most of us have a hard time waiting for anything. When we begin to associate what we can get quickly with what is successful, we set ourselves up for a spiritual life of discontent. God is incredibly patient with us, and our own patience with ourselves, with others, and with the world around us means not that we wait passively, but that we actively practice viewing others as God views us.
Episode 26 - Amy's 6-21-2020 Sermon - Intentional Love: The First Fruit of the Spirit
Ask the general public for a definition of love and you’ll get a variety of answers. We use the word love a lot, especially if you grew up in church and were told to “Love your neighbor” from a very young age. Yet, what does it look like to love others in today’s culture that is brimming with fear?
Walter Bruggeman says, “The definitive act of love is justice.” We simply cannot talk about loving others without talking about justice. How do we DO the work of love in a society where injustice prevails? What does it mean for each of us to “do love” as individuals and also together as a community?
What would it look like to really live into loving our neighbors as ourselves?
Episode 25 - Women in Ministry Part 2: Sharing Her Story - An Interview with Rev. Beth Thompson
Second in our series on Women in Ministry, we dialogue today with a friend and former co-worker, Rev. Beth Thompson. Beth spent almost 40 years in ministry and was graduating from seminary at the height of the "women in ministry" conflict. She discusses the atmosphere during that time period and describes what helped her stay the course when things were difficult. And if you know Beth, she drops the mic on the regular and hits the truth hard, and this conversation definitely does not disappoint! Amy had the pleasure of working with Beth for almost 15 years, and she can say without a doubt that Beth's mentorship and modeling of what it is like to be a woman in church ministry was invaluable for her as she began full time ministry. Beth's example in ministry has impacted countless people and churches, and we are honored to interview her today.
Episode 24 - Women in Ministry Part 1: A Beautiful but Difficult Road
When I was in college, I kept having this thought that would not let me go...a sense that, in order to be fully true to myself, I needed to accept that I was being called by God into Christian ministry. I wasn't exactly sure what that was going to look like, but I knew that it was true. Looking back, it is fulfilling to know that I am where I am supposed to be in life, but I'll also admit that being a woman in ministry (as in many other professions) carries more than its share of criticism from those who would say that to be an ordained female pastor is not in line with the teachings of the Bible.
Women serving in pastoral leadership has been a much debated topic in some denominations. In this episode, we discuss the history of the "women in ministry" issue, offer some insight on the bible passages often cited and debated by those opposing women in ministry, and share our personal stories. Craig discusses his experiences of being questioned about "how he allows his wife to be a minister" and I share some thoughts for other women who may be discerning God's urging to explore vocational ministry.
Episode 23 - Has Church Made 'Hearing God' More Difficult Than it Should Be?
How do we understand and communicate with God? How we grow up and our own personal experiences within church life can greatly impact our view of spirituality and how we understand listening to God. If you grew up in a more traditional church setting there may be automatic rules and stipulations that come to mind on the topic of communicating with God...but does it have to be so difficult? Have we perhaps made "communicating with God" more complex than it needs to be? In this episode Craig and Amy dialogue about their journey to understand and live into what it means to hear and act on the voice of God in their lives.
Episode 22 - Backpacking Part 4: They Really Were Skinny Dipping and Other Funny Stories
In our final episode of the Backpacking Series, we share some of the more humorous experiences we've had on the trail. We simply couldn't end this series without sharing some of these stories. From walking up on people actually skinny dipping to the day we lost two college students, we do a lot of laughing as we relive these tales. We bring in one of our former students, the always delightful Zack Hamby, to share some of his funny experiences and reflections on what the trip has meant to him.
Episode 21 - Backpacking Part 3: The Time Where Jeff Bell Swore He'd Never Go Back
In this episode we interview a very faithful backpacking leader, Jeff Bell. If you had asked him during his first trip if he thought he would go again, he would have said "I'm glad you saw me out here because you will never see me again!" Since his miserable & rainy first year, he has faithfully gone back every year since. As always, Jeff brings his since of humor to the conversation and as an educator talks about how this experience can have a major impact on students' lives. From tent antics between Jeff and Craig to the year he tried to bring 2 pounds of bacon on the trip, get ready to laugh your way through a wonderful conversation.
Episode 20 - Backpacking Part 2: "My how the trip has changed!"
In Part 2 of our Backpacking Series, we discuss how the trip has evolved over the last several years. As we learned more about how to manage a group in the wilderness, we were able to focus on helping students grow in leadership skills, team building and wilderness education. Of course you'll hear more about rain, more rain, even more rain and plenty of other funny stories that have happened along the way. Thanks to years of on the trail learning, amazing volunteers and students who are willing to step away from what is comfortable and lean into being challenged, this time in the wilderness has become way more than what Amy envisioned 20 years ago for her divinity school project.
Episode 19 - Backpacking Part 1: It's a wonder we all came back alive!
For the past 20 years, over their spring break, we have taken our high school students on a 4 day, 20 to 30 mile backpacking trip in the NC mountains. If you have ever gone on one of our backpacking trips you may have asked yourself, "How in the world did they dream up this miserable fun?" In Part 1 of this series, we walk through how this trip began as a divinity school project and what the first few years were like. Snow, rain, lightening and hail....we had it all and sometimes we have to ask ourselves how we all came back alive! We cherish and laugh about these early adventures, but they have helped us evolve the trip to where it is today.
Episode 18 - We're all in the weeds and that's ok!
Anytime we face a crisis it disrupts everything that is "normal" for us. Often that means a lot of "unaddressed mess" that we can normally ignore --- can no longer be ignored. In this episode, Amy draws hope from the stories of the Jewish exile and offers a way to walk through this ever-changing, vulnerable and liminal space we may find ourselves in right now. Sometimes the seasons of life we cannot predict can be the most transformative if we let them.
Episode 17 - Jonah: A story of God's Love for Everyone
The story of Jonah often captivates us as children. A person, swallowed by a fish? Are you kidding me? Yet even as we outgrow our childish thinking, we can learn a thing or two from this story for sure. In this episode, Amy suggests the book of Jonah has one main point...God's love includes E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. Those we love and those we don't. Those who think like us and those who don't. When judgement raises its ugly head, we can all learn a thing or two from this kid's story.
Episode 16 - Maybe Doubting Thomas should be called Normal Thomas?
Asking a lot of questions can sometimes get you labeled as a skeptic, trouble maker, or in church lingo, a "Doubting Thomas." But asking questions and searching for answers can be the most holy pursuit we ever take. In this episode, Amy talks about the disciple Thomas and discusses the benefits of asking spiritual questions. Could it be that we should make as much space as possible for questions about faith, those both from others and ourselves? Jesus' compassionate reaction to Thomas shows us that creating this type of safe space should be a top priority for the Church.
Episode 15 - Jesus, Peter, Shame, Fishing & Comparison
In this episode Amy talks about an interaction between Jesus and Peter to reflect on the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is a natural emotion we feel when we do something we later realize is a mistake. Shame is when we allow our mistakes define us. In this story after the resurrection, Jesus does not shame Peter for his past mistakes and instead frees him for a future of grace and love.
Episode 14 - Easter Sunday: When Jesus was a stranger
In this episode Amy talks about the first Easter morning and a few of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They converse with a stranger they do not know is Jesus. In time their eyes are opened to His presence and to the new life he is calling them to live out.
Episode 13 - Coronavirus Frontlines: Interview with NYC Resident Ben Peery
In this episode we talk with Ben Peery, who moved to New York City this past October. Ben gives us insight into how daily life has changed in the city and talks about a moving show of support that happens every evening for those on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Episode 12 - Passover & the Last Supper: How are they connected?
In this episode Amy talks about the connection between the Jewish celebration of Passover and the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. Most people who are not Jewish do not celebrate Passover, but we are really missing out when we don't think about Passover and what it means for us today. The Passover meal celebrates the Israelites' freedom from slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people were accustomed to remembering the freedom their people had already experienced in the past. Jesus, in his last meal with his disciples, through bread, wine and a bowl of water shows the disciples a new way to experience freedom.
Episode 11 - Motivations, Fears & Finding Free
In this episode we discuss some of our motivations and fears in starting this podcast. Amy shares how her fear of disappointing others held her back from stepping out and sharing her voice. Craig talks about the importance of having a safe space to ask hard questions about faith. We share how our 2019 cross country trip led each of us to find our own free and awakened in us the actual courage to begin. As we wrap up, Amy gives some thoughts on Finding your Free.
Episode 10 - Palm Sunday: Palms, Parades & People
Amy talks about Palm Sunday and gives us a few thoughts to consider as she contrast the differences between how Jesus and Pilate enter the city of Jerusalem during Passover.
Episode 9 - The Biblical Streaker
In this hilarious episode Amy, Craig and Ben discuss a little known passage in the Bible that might be the first recorded streaker in history!
Episode 8 - Coronavirus Frontlines: Interview with Dr. Tim Edwards
In this episode we interview Dr. Tim Edwards about what it is like to be on the front lines during the coronavirus outbreak.
Episode 7 - Creating rituals and why they are important right now.
In this episode of Corona Contemplations, Amy discusses the importance of creating space to see where God is at work in our lives.
Episode 6 - The Ben-tern takes the wheel!
On this episode Ben (aka The Ben-tern) takes the wheel of the podcast and gives some devotional thoughts based on John's exile on the island of Patmos.
Episode 5 - Annunciation Day!
Annunciation Day happens every year on March 25. Amy discusses how this special day has unique significance for us during the season of Lent and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Episode 4 - The Corona Contemplations Beginning
On our first episode of Corona Contemplations, Amy talks about what we can learn from Colossians to help us with our focus.