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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Neighbors We Ignore

If you’ve gone to church even a few times, chances are you’ve heard the story of The Good Samaritan. It’s a “classic” among the parables of Jesus. One that preachers love to tell because the imagery is so simple, yet the message is so moving. This story stirs something deep inside us. It flips the script of what we assume to be true, which is that religious people are people of character who always do the right thing. Because in this particular story, the person who ends up helping the wounded man, essentially, is not the minister or the deacon or the Sunday school coordinator. It’s the bi-racial 20-something yr. old, Catholic converted Muslim woman, fully tattooed and wearing a hijab that stops to care for the man beat up on a city street. But we’ll come back to this story... 

There’s actually two stories happening in these 12 verses of Luke 10. The story of The Good Samaritan is encapsulated by a larger story in which Jesus is having a conversation with a Hebrew scholar. This was an expert of law and there was no distinction in this society between civil and religious law. This lawyer had every intention of trying to back Jesus into a corner. The Greek word used translated “test;” he was testing Jesus. 

He asks Jesus, “What must I do to have eternal life?” And this is where Jesus sounds like every mother that out-wits her children on a daily basis by answering a question with a question. 

My mom had this technique down. There was this one time I remember

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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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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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Watching Your Faith Go Up in Smoke

I watched in horror with those all over the world as Notre Dame Cathedral burned and smoke billowed into the air. One of the oldest and most famous cathedrals in the world, it was erected over 800 years ago but took only a few hours for the great spire to topple like a child’s block tower.

As the fire burned, unscathed by the water cannons flooding the structure, virtual onlookers began to speculate if the building would be totally consumed or if enough could be saved and rebuilt. I felt a visceral reaction coursing through my body as I stared into the screen watching the church burn. It was a physical manifestation of what I’ve felt for the last decade. Sounds horribly dramatic, doesn’t it?

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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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