Saying No

How ironic is it that toddlers frustrate their parents so much with their obscenely frequent use of the word no? Meanwhile, the answer adults wish we’d give more often is no. The same two letter word our toddlers have mastered, we can’t muster up the courage to use. Saying no is a skill to develop that takes courage, honesty, and maturity about one’s authenticity, availability, and passion.   

Why is it so difficult for people to say no? If you are one of them, you are among great company. Lots of folks struggle with no. I get it, people don’t want to disappoint, hurt feelings, feel the finality, or sincerely don’t know how to say no. Others don’t say no because they like to be in charge, in-the-know, feel busy, wanted, or needed. Maybe many don’t say no because of the still, quiet space it may bring for a season or the grief & sadness that can go hand-in-hand with a no. Whatever the reason, lots of people in our culture have an extremely difficult time saying no.  

The problem occurs when our yes begins to look like a no. When we don’t have the ability or courage to say no, but lack the passion, skill, availability, or desire to continue on, it will become noticeable. For many, saying yes in these situations means avoiding the awkwardness that can come with a no response. (After all, the no can be sent later in an email, when they are no longer face-to-face with someone.)

I remember an older minister telling me…

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Following a Lost Leader

I have been enthralled with the story of a missing young woman in the Pacific Northwest since mid-August 2018; so much so, I wrote an article about her for Nancy Grace’s website, Crime Online (If you’re interested, you can find the link to my article on the publications page.). The experienced hiker left for a solo day hike on August 1st on a difficult but manageable trail. Many hikers recounted seeing her, speaking with her, and one had a video from his hike in which she could be seen in the background in no duress. Large search parties with trained searchers and dogs, helicopters with infrared imaging, and drones with cameras were used in one of the largest and longest searches in the history of the area, but the search was unsuccessful. She is still missing today, somewhere in the vast wilderness around Vesper Peak, nearly a year later.

While some can read a news story and stay emotionally detached, I cannot so easily turn away from stories like this one. I have dedicated over 36 hours to examining video drone footage and scouring pictures taken from all angles of the mountainside, looking for even the smallest clues to help rescuers find this young woman. My husband questioned me a lot in the beginning, “Why are you searching so much?” And I began to question myself too... Why am I so captivated with this story?

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Grandma’s Notes on Hair & Sexuality

I found a small legal pad with some notes from my late grandmother. They were in one of the many boxes I’m just unpacking because it takes two hours to unpack a box when you’re crying into it as you go.

I admit, I was hoping for words of wisdom but what I found was four pages about a “woman’s seasons” and how a woman’s hair is part of her sexuality. (Interesting in and of itself.) It’s like she attended a horrible “hair seminar.” She was definitely not a hairstylist, so I’m not sure if this was something she saw on tv, heard at a ladies circle meeting, or maybe it was some kind of multi-level marketing scheme. [Update: My mom just called and said it had to do with a book called “Color Me Beautiful” that was popular at the time.]

The last paragraph of her notes read, “Hair is a tool in which a woman can express her sexuality and how she feels about herself. Women who neglect their hair or wear an unflattering style are telling the world they are afraid to be beautiful.”

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Another Man's Trash is a Woman's Emotional Garbage

I spent several days last week wading through the deep waters of another woman’s sexual harassment and stalking experience. There were pages upon pages of typed notes, collections of years of trauma and psychological torment. They were raw and vulnerable-- her tattered story stripped down to only the worst parts. I read every word… over and over and over again.

I never would have imagined a decade ago this woman and I would be such close friends. It was an accidental friendship that began with

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Just start with something...

And I felt a whisper somewhere deep inside my soul, “Just start with something…”

Here I am. It’s an extremely humbling and vulnerable place to be. I feel exposed, because I know how raw and honest and risky it is to be truthful, especially in today’s context. And I’m not trying to fill anyone’s shoes or become famous or form some strange cult (and land a Netflix series).

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Mr. Miyagi and Jesus

Jesus was a true artist. He used his words as a brush to create vivid, awe-inspiring and captivating images those around him could understand, drawing from the everyday life around them to transform a mundane lesson into a masterpiece. We know Jesus’ imagery well- the potter and the clay, the seed and the sower, the fish and the fisher-of-people, the vine and the branches. He used sheep, lambs, worms, snakes and hens to stones, bread, grapes, salt, wheat and wine. On and on the list goes, the original Bob Ross with a happy little cloud here and a happy little tree there.

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Empty Hands and Content Souls

I was 13. While my friends were ecstatic about all the new clothes and other stuff they would be getting for Christmas, I was facing the very real fact that we would not be exchanging any gifts in my family that season. My dad had just gone through a year of chemotherapy and several months of radiation; strained finances because of his illness and the loss of his job meant we did not have money to spend on gifts. Christmas would be different that year.

Christians are constantly reminded that Christmas isn’t all about gifts. And I agree; it’s not all about gifts — but

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The Womb of Baptism

Stepping into baptismal waters to baptize my first candidate as a minister, I relived many of the emotions I felt over 18 years ago on the day that I was baptized. While my baptism was a very special and significant event in my life, this new experience has forever changed me.

With each step into the warm waters of the baptismal pool, I grew increasingly aware of my surroundings. I felt the water pull at my robe and weigh heavily upon my limbs and skin. Hearing my cue, I grabbed the hand of the teenage girl I was to baptize and led her out into the water. Wading hand-in-hand with this beautiful, wide-eyed, fully alive, curious-in-the-faith young woman, I also became increasingly aware of the child — the precious little life — I was carrying inside me.

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Wild Chickens and a Mother's Love

One sunny afternoon, my oldest brother Troy had been chasing Fitzgerald’s famous wild chickens and so proudly bounded up to our home to show my mom and me these handfuls of bitties he was able to scoop up. He had at least four tiny chicks in each hand and a big smile across his face. And as he approached our house with these handfuls of birds, he had not even made it out of the alley when we witnessed the wild Burmese mother hen dive onto his head. And while my mother should probably have been a little more concerned for Troy, she and I looked at this sight in amazement and just laughed. It was the absolute funniest sight to be seen. And that was the day my brother understood what mother hens are willing to do to protect their babies. My story might seem wild or just wildly inappropriate to tell as part of a sermon, but it’s the first image that came to mind after reading the scripture text for today.  

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