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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Insta-Church vs. Authentic Church

We’ve all seen and experienced the Instagram Influencer on social media. Even if someone hasn’t been crowned an actual “Influencer”, we all have those friends who post every bit of their seemingly perfect lives online for all to see. They tag themselves in exotic places, eating in fancy restaurants, with lots of beautiful friends, and pose beside well behaved, smiling children. People have quickly caught on to the problem with this carefully curated persona some individuals are creating on social media…this isn’t real life.

Do these “picture perfect” people ever have a bad day? A zit? Cellulite? Trouble breastfeeding? Do they ever have a lazy day, with no workout, or skinny tea? Do bad things ever happen to them? Do they cry? Grieve? Have anxiety attacks? Do they have fat rolls anywhere? Or have to see a doctor for their acne, migraines, mental health issues, or itching you-know-where? Do their kids ever scream, cry, or wipe poop all over the nursery wall? Does their breath smell bad? Are their homes really this clean all the time? Who are these robots?

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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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