Word of the Week

Today I'm wondering what did gratitude look like in your household growing up?

I can remember once as a kid getting a coloring book from a relative that was obviously already colored in by another kid. Sigh. Yet, still I was expected to be appreciative of the thought. It's the thought that counts, right?

This week's word speaks to what we accept in moments like this: crumbs. Crumbs is a very small amount of something.

Though of course we normally think about crumbs in terms of food, I think we all know what it is like to receive something from someone that is a crumb. It's obvious to that a "fit" is not there between the gift and the receiver. It's obvious to us that no thought or attention to detail has gone into the offering.

But we say thank you for crumbs because gratitude is everything right?

Recently I've been thinking about how often our acceptance of crumbs goes against the SOUL WORK that our hearts are longing for us to do.

Well, what do I mean? Well, accepting crumbs in the bigger picture of your life can look like staying in relationships full of abuse, control or just plain meanness simply because it's expected or easier.

Accepting crumbs can look like planting yourself in a career pathsimply because it pays the bills but is draining the life out of you every day.

Accepting crumbs can mean saying in older age that "this is just how life is going to be" without any fight in you for what might bring YOU joy in the now (even if you have to work around your limitations).

Why do we do this? You might accept crumbs believing that it's the best there is. Or it's all your worth. Or that your gratitude for something that is obviously painful will somehow make it less painful (but it doesn't).

I want to say to you today: you are worth the having your cake and eating it too as my grandmother used to say. You are a beloved child of God with needs that deserve to be met. Your acceptance of crumbs as all there is robs the world of YOU.

You are allowed to be the gatekeeper of your own life. You are allowed to stand up for what is not serving you and choose another path. You are allowed to let the crumbs be crumbs on the floor and not have to pick or clean up after others.

Of course, this doesn't mean that a rejection of crumbs in your life will mean that everything will be instantly better or that new things will show up on command. But it does mean that IF you let the crumbs go, THEN you'll be ready to say yes when "the whole pie" finds you.

On the journey with you today of rejecting the crumbs and believing in beautiful wholeness in the days to come-



When you were a kid and you did something good, would you ask for extra tv or video game time? Would you want ice cream? Or a toy? In modern times, it hard to think of teaching or parenting kids without some use of our word for the week: reward.

Reward: a thing given in recognition of one's service, effort, or achievement.

In my house, with small kids underfoot, I often think of this word now in terms of our candy bucket we keep above the refrigerator for when homework is finished. Or I think of the kids summer reading program at the local public library with prizes at every tier completed. Or I think about all the apps I have on my phone that earn me rewards if I eat a certain amount at a restaurant or shop so much at a clothing store.

The hope of a reward in the end can motivate us to make particular choices, right?

But, rarely do I think of rewards in terms of the spiritual work of my life.

Recently, though, I started noticing the rewards of my life that came from the good/ hard things I'd been through, and all the soul work I put in to learn from these experiences.

For isn't it true, your life is a series of events that build on each other. The blessings of today were birthed in the preparation and prayers of yesterday. Or simply put from the Biblical concept (see Galatians 6): you reap what you sow.

For example: are you making a living with a job you enjoy? Well, then you are reaping the rewards of your vocational training and education.

Are you enjoying meaningful friendships? Well, then you are reaping the rewards of the courage you had many months or years to open your heart to someone new.

Are you enjoying retirement on your own terms? Well, then you are reaping the rewards of the faithfulness to work that you completed.

There is always something to be grateful for, even if things aren't not as they once were and even if you see the brokenness around you of the many problems in the world. Life can always offer you the gift of rewards, if you see it with this perspective.

But, I be remiss if I didn't add this: it's always good to remember that not any of us are an island of achievement. Our lives can easily be rewarded by privileges that have nothing to do with our actions. Our race, our socioeconomic status or our country of origin may have moved us to the front of the line to enjoy more than our share. So, let us not insert the word "reward" into sentences where "privilege" really should be.

But, thinking of your life in terms of its rewards is helpful because it births in you gratitude. And it can remind you to sow things now that you want to reap in the future.

So, here's your friendly spiritual reminder to enjoy and spend some time just naming "the rewards" in your life. I bet you'll be so grateful you did.

As for me, know I am so glad you are on the journey with me each Sunday in these messages-- I feel so much gratitude about that.



I'm wondering this morning, how am I finding you? What's new in your world since we last spoke?

Recently I was talking to a friend who can't seem to shake where she is, doing the same thing day after day. Her anxieties seem to be all-consuming. She feels discouraged and most of all stuck-- our word of the week.

Stuck is defined as firmly positioned in place and difficult to dislodge.

What's the good news in stuck? There's not a lot, truly if you see stuck at its face value. You can easily go down the "woe is me/ woe is the world" and stay stuck in mental agony for a very long time.

But, as Parker Palmer writes in his book Courage to Teach, “We cannot see what is “out there” merely by looking around. Everything depends on the lenses through which we view the world. By putting on new lenses, we can see things that would otherwise remain invisible.”

I want to propose to you that perspective can help you get un-stuck.

As I write this, I'm noticing how brilliant the hues of pink in the sun setting outside my window.

I'm noticing how I just took a breath and then another one. My heart is still ticking.

And while I might dread long nights (thank you to my baby son for that), still the sun rises in the morning. I notice that good is always possible at the beginning of new day.

All of these things are gratitudes I would have never experienced if I hadn't just stopped to notice.

You see, to notice your perspective often gives you a new one. A new perspective can move you along.

In all of this, I'm not asking you to ignore the grief that is present in your life. You ARE dealing with some hard stuff! But rather, I am saying whatever heavy thing is on your plate, being stuck doesn't have to be the WHOLE story of your life.

God is present. Good is all around you. No matter how lonely you feel, somebody cares about you! I do. There is always something you can do to be of service.

So, I'm wondering how can you free up some mental space this week to notice what you might have overlooked? How can you get un-stuck in your thinking and living?



P.S. Here's something I wrote about an experience of feeling stuck in my life. I'd love to share it with you to give you hope as well.

The past week, how many times have you had to change your plans? Or put a hope for the future on hold?

In the covid-19 world we are living in, we are constantly pivoting, aren't we? We never really know what is going to happen or how long some bit of freedom might last. Control of our circumstances - what's that?

These are the facts. But I'm wondering today how can you respond to all of this constant change?

Well, our word of the week might be one option:

Nimble: to be quick and light in movement or action.

Being nimble speaks to the HOW. How do you respond to every cancellation, delay, or disappointment? How do you lean into wellness when the constant changes make you feel so out of sorts?

Being nimble offers us this gift: gratitude. Gratitude for whatever moments of joy present themselves. Letting go of what you do not know (like when this will be over). And simply being present in the life you DO have.

Easier said than done, right?

My husband often makes commitments with the caveat: "Lord willing and the creek don't rise." I admire how he leaves space for what might be outside his ability to control. (And makes us laugh in the process).

In your life right now, the "creek rising" might be a positive covid test or a school closing. It might be a loved one in the hospital or stuck in seemingly unending quarantine. Or it might even be the absence of simple pleasures like your favorite item not being available at the grocery store or your favorite shop closed due to lack of staffing.

But even when these things happen, you can be nimble in your re-direction of your energy toward what actually serves your well-being.

Will you let go of your illusion of control? Or will you hold on tighter and let bitterness eat away at you?

I know you are tired. OVER. IT. Covid fatigue, we all have it, right? But, with a nimble disposition you can keep going. You can! You can move toward rest, play, connection and joy when it finds you (even if it doesn't come in the way you might have originally planned).

There is a Shaker hymn that is one of my favorites: "Tis the Gift to be Simple." (The Yo Yo Ma and Allison Krause version is my favorite).

I love the line that says, "To turn, turn will be our delight, Till by turning, turning we come round right."

This is is where we are as spiritual beings right now-- we are being asked to nimbly turn, turn so that we come round right.

My friend: you may not always know where you are turning, but that's OK. God is with you, guiding you, and nudging you along in the paths meant just for you.

Cheering you on in your nimble ways this week!



thank-you-noteThere are two words that are never going out of style in the English language.


But we aren’t a culture that is really very good at thank you's are we?

How often are feelings hurt because someone forgot to say it,

One of my favorite gospel stories on the topic of saying "Thank you" comes from Luke 17:11-19.

And this is the scene: Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. While passing the border between Samaria and Galilee, he and his disciples hit a rest stop known as a local village.  And in this village, Jesus and his disciples were greeted by a group of ten men. They were all lepers-- a contagious skin disease that caused massive deformity.

Though pale by comparison to many other instances, a couple of years ago we had experience in our household that gave me greater sympathy for who have dealt with skin deforming or long-term contagious diseases.

Kevin contracted the shingles.

During the two weeks that followed and Kevin while was contagious our whole household routine was altered.

I have to confess I went a little crazy trying to make sure I didn’t get it too.

I made these rules: we would not sit on the same pieces of furniture. We would wash all of the sheets and towels immediately in hot water after Kevin finished with them.  We would wash our hands frequently and we would clean the bathroom a lot.

A week or so in to the ordeal, I think what was worse was not just the physical pain Kevin had but the social isolation. He told me how much he missed human contact. He missed being able to come home and sit wherever he wanted on the couch. . . .

In a similar way, these lepers felt isolated.

Their family members kept their distance. Even worse there was little hope that they’d ever get “well” because known medicine at the time had few solutions.

Only solution: shout “Unclean! Unclean!”

Yet, on this occasion scripture tells us, they risked everything and approached Jesus. 

And, Jesus’ response was, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

We might think this that this is a strange request—why did they need to go to the priests? Could have Jesus just healed them on the spot?

Much like a person today wrongly accused and placed on the sex-offender registry, to be a leper was a sentence of societal isolation until the religious powers that be changed the degree about the person.

A leper needed to be first verified by the priests BEFORE the person could re-enter the world and be treated like everyone else.

So, in Jesus telling them to go to the priest, he was saying to them, in your faith in me, go get what you need to have your cure from leprosy. Go to the priest and you will be clean.

What happened next? Verse 14 tells us that without hesitation all 10 go as Jesus tells them, and “as they went, they were made clean.” It was a miracle! They were given the cure that each of them had been dreaming about for years! What a day! What an amazing day it was.

Yet this is what I want you to pay attention to. . . .

We read no record that 9 of 10 lepers ever saw or talked to Jesus again. 9 of them said nothing more to Jesus. There would be no thank you from their lips.

It would be easy at this point to begin to speak negatively of them. Why did they NOT say thank you? Wouldn’t have that been the polite thing to do? Yet, we never hear harsh criticism by Jesus of them. The lepers were cured after all and life would be forever different! They needed to celebrate.

What about that one, though? The one who we read about in verse 15 who “saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice.” What was different about his experience? What did he come back and say thank you?

I think distinction comes as we follow the word “see” throughout the passage.

Hang with me for just one minute.

First, there is Jesus, who “saw” the lepers for the human beings that they were as they cried, “Unclean! Unclean!” It was where the miracle began.

Then, there was the one leper who after being cured “saw” himself as a new person and turned back to go to see Jesus once again.

Jesus and this one leper paid attention.

And this is the powerful part of the story in this one man’s coming back to say thank you, he was more than cured from his disease he was healed.

For there’s a difference between being cured of something and being healed, isn't there?

Being cured of a disease is all about having the physical symptoms going away. But healing is about something much deeper—healing is about emotional peace and spiritual peace and being able to walk in this world differently.

And this one who came back to say thank you got both a cure and healing too.

How? Jesus tells him that “his faith had made him well.” I want to stick with the word, “well” for just a minute because I believe it has a lot to teach us about what transpired.

The phrase, “made you well” comes from the Greek word sozo which is commonly translated “to save.” A soter is a “savior, deliverer.” Thus, in being “made well” the Samaritan finds salvation, but not salvation in the way that many of us might think of in terms of the typical “get saved” terminology. No, rather, by coming back in praise of God, the former leper acknowledged his dependence on something greater than himself.

This was the HEALING-

The years of anger, the years of bitterness, “Why me, God?” the years of emotional and spiritual pain were no longer chains that bound him up on the inside, as much as his disease isolated him from others on the outside.

He finds rest for his soul.

Few of us crave this kind of healing, do we? We often pray for CURES when we hear someone has cancer or is struggling with addiction or depression.

We say things like: “Dear Lord, please make my mom better.”

“Dear God, please help my son not make so many bad decisions.”

“Dear Lord, get me OUT of the hospital."

Sometimes we feel our prayers are answered. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we want to lash out at God and say, “Why is he still sick? This is all YOUR fault.”

But, I want to suggest in moments like this, we might in fact be focusing on the wrong things . . .

What if we, left the possibility of the “cures” to the mystery of life, and instead, remembered that all of life is gift?

This is what I most know: only leper who was healed was the one engaged in gratitude.

I have no idea, I know, my friends what is burdening you today, but what I do know is that gratitude is an invitation to the healing God wants to give us all. All of us.

Be the one who says thank you!

Hi friends! I'm coming out of a writing hiatus that I've taken since getting through the rush of our Feed the Children Christmas tour in Tanzania, Kenya and Honduras, special Christmas services at my church, travel to see family AND most recently getting knocked down with the flu. Whew!

The pace of the end of 2014 in the Hagan household was no joke! And, I think I'm just now coming out of the fog of it all. A break was necessary!

But now I'm back and in the spirit of the Epiphany season, I thought I'd share a few of the pieces of wisdom I was given in 2014 with hopes that it might help make your list of 2014 wisdom too.

Lesson 1: Life is always on the move.

No matter if we see it, feel it, or accept it, your life and mine is always on the move. We are rotating around the sun aren't we? Most of us hate change, but it comes with breathing.

This year in our household, we physically moved from a loft apartment, to a hotel, to a temporary house, to then another house, a place we bought in Oklahoma (who would have ever thought it?). We also maintained another house in another state. And we visited 6 countries and countless states. So much of our 2014 has been on the move on airplanes!

And not only in dwelling places-- our household experienced much emotional change. Attitudes changed. Moods changed. The people we most trusted changed. I got a new church calling.

So this is what I know: if we want to do life well, we have to accept change. Life is always on the move.

Lesson 2: Fight for people who you love.

One of my popular posts of 2014 was the one I wrote about my relationship with Kevin, how we needed to fight for each other even when thousands of things swirling around us sought to pull us a part. I believe it resonated with readers because you've all been at that desparate place too at one time or another.

The same is true of any relationship. Relationships without attention stagnate.

This is the year I could have given up on some people. I was hurt more that I could say, and maybe they were too? But, then by some MIRACLE, together, we found a way to make it work. And I couldn't be prouder of these tough, tough conversations and the even stronger friendships by my side in 2015.

Is there someone who you know you can't life without? Who has been a part of your story and you can't imagine your life without them in it?

Fight, my friends, fight!  Even when there is silence. Even when it is so damn painful. Even when you think what you say or think or feel doesn't matter to the other person. Fight for the people who you love.

Lesson 3: Anger Aint Sexy

I'm sure this life lesson is one that I will write about so much more in 2015, but 2014 brought me face to face with the ugly reality of what my anger looks like and how it makes people feel. And it aint good.

Our whole presence in this world shifts when we are angry.

It's not something the best make-up job or plastered smile could fix either. And we're all angry about something.

The self-care books tell us that anger is really not about anger but hurt. Yet, so few of us want to  (or know how to) deal with it, especially us good girls who'd rather be passive aggressive instead. But this is what I know, once you see the anger in yourself, you begin to see its ugliness in other people. Anger unchecked can have such a sad, sad grip on our souls. It's painful to watch. Why? Because anger just aint sexy.

Lesson 4: Love What You've Got

For years, I have been hoping for a life I don't have (and can't seem to have anytime soon). But, a shift happened in me this summer when I was able to let light come into cracks and name the cracks for what they were: good.

Here's one example, this spring, I experienced change in schedule that gave me a depressing amount of free time-- and I hated it. But now that I've got my hands busier than ever, I miss it. No blessing is ever perfect. I say this because nothing ever really completely satisfies us (as much as we think it will). Blessings and cursing often come out of the same opportunity!

So why not savor life and love what we've got? This is what I'm doing right now.

What about you? What lessons did you uncover in 2014?

We have now been in Kenya for two and a half days-- a country where Feed the Children has a strong presence through its work in the slums, with orphans and also in villages too. I shared a devotion with the entire Kenya staff of over 200 folks, toured the Feed the Children center, spent the night at a group home for the disabled, had "church" at a orphanage for abandoned elephants, dined with staff and much more! In response of seeking to take it all in, I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving.

We have met children without parents from babies to teens who have grabbed onto our legs and haven't wanted to let us go.

We have met caregivers of children who have welcomed Kevin and I with hearts full of love and support for the ministry that lies ahead.

We have met administrative staff who have blown us away with their commitment to love the under served.

We have met drivers who have with care driven us from place to place in an unfamiliar city and told us stories about their heart warming experiences with the children too.

We have met young men with learning and physical challenges that have delighted in our company not because we did anything special other than stop and spent time with them.

We have met folks of all kinds connected to the Feed the Children family who have made the distance between stranger and friend seem so very small.

In all of these things, we found ourselves on holy ground. Tears have flowed. God's spirit has been present. We have nothing to offer back except "thank you." There is no better feeling than to be in this kind of joy.

Kevin and I thank God for our calling to be here this week and for all the ways that this opportunity connects us to our larger human family. More blessing reports to come, I am sure. But for now before my unpredictable WiFi connection goes away, I will sign out in gratitude. Be well wherever you are!



I've been thinking a lot lately about the blessings of life, in particular how much I have to be grateful for. Though it's not that season when gratitude is what we normally to talk about (several more months to November!), I've been taking stock of how much I really do have to be thankful. Light has come to some really dark places in my life and in the lives of those I love the most and for this I can't help but name aloud the Lord's provisions.

And this is what I know: if we wait long enough and wait some more, I do believe that God will meet all our needs in accordance with the people we were made to be! This is not to say that every unresolved situation in and around us get resolved. No, but it does mean that we are given what we need to keep going, to take the next step. I call this provision: God's love for us.

So, today I wanted to share some of the things currently on my gratitude list. Maybe it will encourage you to make one too.

So, today I give thanks. I give thanks for all of these things, all of God's provisions. And I give thanks for you, my faithful blog readers for letting me share more of my story with you each time I post. I am blessed.

And you- what can you say "thank you, thank you, thank you" for today? Anne Lamott said once that this is the best prayer of them all!