Word of the Week

How many long-term relationships do you have in your life in the present day? Do you still talk to someone from high school? Do you have a sibling who is more like a best friend? Or a cousin that is your soul sister?

Relationships for the long haul can be some of the best gifts to the human experience-- people who can know and love us well over the decades. Yet, this isn't always the case with everyone. We move. People move. We change. People change.

Our Facebook culture has given us this idea that we have to be in touch with everyone we ever met! (It's crazy, right?)

Sometimes we realize, "This person was in my life for a time and it's over."

To this plight enter this week's word: freedom. Freedom defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

To live your life in freedom is to intentionally think about the question of WHY. Why are you saying yes?

Freedom in relationships means to say NO to obligation and YES to what is life-giving.

Freedom in relationships is what can lead us to the people we need right wear we find ourselves.

Freedom in relationships moves us away from guilt and just doing stuff because we have to do it. Or because we might let the person down if we don't keep things going.

Moving into freedom with people around us can be painful though. Often expectations don't align. People want us in their lives but it's not an experience we need. Other times, we want to be closer to folks who simply don't have time for us.

But the ancient wisdom I always go back to is this: the truth will set you free.

Freedom helps us honor the truth of others. Freedom helps us honor the truth about ourselves (often the hardest truth to offer). Freedom gives us this gift of letting go what is not ours to have. And, settling into freedom can feel so good! Do you know what I mean?

So, this week, I would love for you to spend some time thinking about the most important relationships of your life. How are you spending your time lately?Maybe what might emerge for you is a person or persons that you are spending time in that you just need to let go. No hard feelings. No drama. Not even some big talk. But just let be what is: freedom. Live your life in your lane where you need to be.

Freedom, you see, is this beautiful gift God gives so so that our life can open up to more beautiful things-- the things that are most life-giving for us!

Here's hoping for a week filled with joy for you-



Do you have a word for the year?

Last year on Epiphany Sunday (early in January) I drew this week's word as my "Star Word." (If you are unfamiliar with this practice, you can read more about it here). It became a guiding point for so many of the decisions I made throughout 2021.

Openness: lack of restriction, free from obstruction.

Author Anne Lamott encourages a life built on openness in this book when she writes: “If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there... When nothing new can get in, that's death.” The counterpoint is also true: if we are alive, we can be OPEN.

As I settled into this word last year, what I noticed right away is that it's really much harder than it looks. For example, in your week--

Will you pout because things don't turn out as planned? Or will walk into a new day with openness?

Will you hang your hat solely on belief systems that have always worked for you? Or will you let openness lead you to what you need now?

Will you follow through with commitments simply because it is what you've always done? Or will you allow openness to re-recreate your schedule when the nudge comes?

In fact I would describe openness like walking through a dark cave. You know there is light somewhere. You know that just as you came in, you will go out. But all the "getting there" is very, very foggy.

For to be in a state of openness, you have more questions than you do answers. You are more lost on the path than found. You have more question mark prayers than you do resolute declarations.

Yet, openness is not about what your life looks like at any given moment. It's about HOPE.

If you are up for this openness challenge this week, pause for a moment. Put your hands in your lap. Open them palms facing up. Imagine what you'd like your hands to be more full of right now. More peace? More clarity? More____?

Sit with your Creator in the possibility of what might be next.

Waiting in openness with you-



In December 2012, I quit my job.

I didn't have another one to go to.

And though there were lots of extenuating circumstances that led me to believe that I knew what would be next-- at heart I really didn't have a plan. It was very UNLIKE me.

All I knew was that Kevin could not do his work at Feed the Children all over the world around the world while I remained in a full-time pastorate in Virginia. Something had to give. And it was my job.

I told friends and family that I quit because I wanted to finish my book manuscript (which I did, but have shelved for the proper time to bring it out again).

But at a deeper level I quit for other reasons.

Traditional, scheduled and go to into the office every day kind of ministry wasn't fulfilling my soul.

And even if this meant I didn't buy new clothes for a long time or buy a new car for a couple of years, I could not go another day in the same old routine.

I know I made the right choice, looking back now.

But, the next steps weren't easy. The voices around me (or least the ones I heard the loudest) didn't help either.

People said: "Oh, you must be a good housewife" (As if suddenly I became Martha Stewart or something. Wrong!)

Or, "Aren't you so lucky you don't have to work?" (As if I didn't want to work. I did!)

Or, "You used to be a pastor?" (As if not having a specific location to pastor suddenly took my resume away. Not true!)

And looking back now, I have to say that leaving my acceptable job was one of the bravest things that I've ever done. 

Why? Because I care what people think. I want to be normal.

Quitting my job, however, showed me who I was like no other experience could.  John Lennon made famous the saying, "Life happens when you are busy making other plans." I was busy making other plans. And by quitting my job, life showed me another way to live.

Slowly I began to find my place at Feed the Children within the PR/ Communications department. I helped to start the first ever blog for the organization. I began doing freelance writing and social media projects for colleagues. More and more friends asked me to preach in their congregations.

What I was doing felt more aligned with my being than it ever had before.

My life began to speak in a Parker Palmer sort of way saying:

Now, that I'm pastoring in a more structured (and more recognized) setting again, I've noticed how colleagues' responses to me have changed. One even said, "Welcome back to pastoral ministry." But the thing is I never left!

But in these months, I'm doing it differently.

I'm remembering more who I am and who I am not.

I'm saying yes more often to short-term projects that I know I have energy to complete.

I'm believing that I am a pastor-- no matter if a church puts my name on the sign or not.

I'm thinking that interim work is more my speed as far as church life goes.

Ready to make a big life transition and afraid? Take courage from my story. You can do it too!