Word of the Week

Can you remember something you've done for so long that you can't exactly remember when you started?

Maybe it's how long you've been on a board or have attended a particular church? Maybe it's how long you've volunteered at the PTA or the cancer society? Maybe it's how long you've gathered for coffee every Friday mornings with friends to catch up?

For me, this is how I think about my Sunday morning emails to you. Word of the Week has just become a part of what I do and how I think. I can hardly remembering not doing it.

It took some digging, though, and I realized that it's been over 5 years that I've been writing (hard to believe). Some of you have been on the journey the whole time (bless you), others of you just met me over 2 years ago when I moved to Georgia. Many of us lived through a global pandemic together. Many of you celebrated my book launch, Brave Church: Tackling Tough Topics Together with me in the summer of 2021 (thank you) and stayed around. Many of you have written me along the way letting me know how your stories have connected to mine (a huge honor). I'm so glad you are here!

But today, I want to tell you that the word evolve is inspiring me about what Word of the Week will look like going forward.

Evolve: to change or develop slowly often into a better, more complex, or more advanced state.

Evolving can seem like a scary word (who likes change?) but truly I like to think about evolving as a process of becoming more authentic.

Spoiler alert: this is not a "break-up message." If you are still game, I'm going to keep this going.

But here's the point: Where I was 5 years ago is not where I am now (as I'm sure if you look back on your life 5 years ago and the same could be said about you too!)

In the past year, I've come to know more clearly: "this is where I am" and "this is where I am not."

My circle has gotten smaller. I've claimed my best energy for myself, my family, and my congregation that I love dearly. I'm not as interested anymore in things that would have made my heart soar years ago . . . like publishing contracts, a growing social media followers list or a working outline for my next book. Less for me has become MORE!

However, I AM still interested in meaningful conversations, in spiritual wisdom that transcends the bounds of religious practice, and belonging to a community.

So, I'm going to keep writing Word of the Week as often as I can simply because I enjoy doing it. (Also: so many of you have encouraged me that it's meaningful to you! Yay!)

Here's the evolving part . . .

In the future, I'm going to have an index on my website of words that you can reference of previous entries. This way if what I ofter on a Sunday morning doesn't float your boat, you could pick your word based on your circumstances. (Stay tuned!)

And, instead of writing you in a sequence (which has been confusing because no one gets the same word each Sunday depending on when you signed up) moving forward, everyone subscribed to this email will get my thoughts in real time on Sunday mornings. So if you want to share with your friend or talk to someone else about it, you'll be on the same page. Yay!

I'm making this change because I want my offerings to you to be as meaningful as they possibly can be (and in a way that is sustainable to me too) and because I want us to keep building community as we do it!

Thank you for patiently listening my "evolving story" this morning. Know how thankful I am to be on a little corner of the internet that has somehow connected with you-

I'll be in touch soon after Easter-



plazaJesus says to his disciples: "I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

It's one of those scripture passages that I've had in my head for years thanks to all that time spent in church.

It's one of those scriptures that prosperity gospel types like to quote when they're seeking to prove that what God really wants to give us is abundant wealth. Joel Osteen anyone?

It's also one of those scripture passages that altar call preachers use to talk about "getting saved." Oh my.

It's a passage that conjures up visions of heaven and hell-- who is going where.

I dislike it all of these uses.

Yet, lately I find myself sitting with this word "abundant" with fresh eyes, thinking about the movements in my own life and those around me too.

And this is what I think: we are scared out of our pants of the word "abundance." We really like our poverty instead.

Of course this phrase sounds contradictory. Who doesn't want to have something? Who doesn't want to receive blessing? It's rare that you meet a person in poverty who says, "I'd like to live in the slums for the rest of my life."

But, honestly, I think so many of us do! It is often much easier being miserable than it is accepting the vulnerability of healing, especially when that healing asks our life movements to change. Because poverty is what we know. We feel comfortable with our pains, even if they are pains nonetheless. We like being left alone and no one bothering us with the challenge of asking for more.

Recently, I've found myself in several conversations with two camps of people. Those who have pushed through difficult times in their life toward abundance and those who are stuck in muck and just don't want to get out.

Just yesterday, I looked a friend in the eyes who I know has worked hard to fight for her own life (even when it meant facing difficult days of doubt, depression, and even wondering how in the world she'd make it to the other side) saying, "I'm so proud of you. . . . I"m so happy for the joy that I see in you. . . . Please don't ever stop fighting for abundance life and kick my ass if I ever stop either." It was a moment to look back on the past and with gratitude for all that God has done.

I was in a similar conversation with another friend a couple of weeks ago who said things to me like, "I'm just don't think my life is ever going to get better. . . . I guess I have to get used to this. . . . Nothing good in life happens to me. . . . I can't imagine trusting people again." And yet upon hearing these litany of words, my heart just sank. Because I knew abundant hope had been completely taken off the table for the person.

Sure, in life we are all on a journey. We go through seasons. Sometimes we must just hide in our caves for a while and be sad, angry or bitter. Sometimes these seasons of hopelessness last for a long time, even longer than we would like. And it just is what it is. And sometimes those dear ones in our life like pastors, friends, or family members hold up our hands (just as Joshua and others did for Moses in the wilderness) just have to be the ones who keep us going.

But then there comes a time when enough is a enough. A time comes when we need to look up to the hills from which comes our help. Our calling is to say yes to abundance. Our calling is to say yes to hope-- even if we can't see the way ahead clearly. Our calling is simply to receive. And in the process surround ourselves with others who can help us move in this way-- for abundance is so big that often we just can't take it in alone.

So, I ask you where are you today? And what is holding YOU back from God's best for your life?

And, for those of you who were wondering-- I had a lovely birthday yesterday. A perfect day of abundance to savor for a long time!