Word of the Week

Do you have a word for 2018?

I'm not sure when the tradition started but I love beginning each new year with a word. It's a spiritual practice to let my intuition take the lead and hover in a particular place.

I can remember one year when my word was "abundance." I was coming out of a long, hard season and abundance was God's invitation to me to accept goodness in my story again.

I can remember one year when my word was "surrender." I'd been struggling for a long time with some very clear ideas of what I wanted my life to look like. And the word of surrender was God's invitation for me to stop all my planning and just be.

But what about this year?  What will my word be? 

For now, I'm leaning into the word "connection." I think connection will be my word for 2018.

I believe I arrived here because the final months of 2018 have been filled with lots of frustration about the difficulty of creating community.

I've felt frustration with how complicated schedules keep local friends of mine from ever actually seeing each other. I've felt frustration with how following each other on Facebook becomes the only way I  "keep in touch" with people I love so much. I've felt frustration with how hard it is to do life with a group of people besides those who actually reside in my house.

And as much as I love doing life with the two awesome people who share my last name, I want more. I want more authentic community.

I want people to show up as big for me and my family. And I want to do the same for them.

I want our home to be more of a gathering point for more laugher and rest for those who need it the most.

I want more friends with whom have regular dates, traditions and "come hell or high water" we will hang out with one another evenings no matter if we have kids at home or not.

And I don't think this feeling I'm noticing is unique to me.

Back in September, I took on a new pastorate. I'm currently at the helm of a Washington, DC church. Such a role gives me a front row seat to people's lives, schedules and values related to community building.

And I have to tell you, what I'm finding all over again (as I did in other congregations) is that it's not just my household that struggles with connection. The temptation to isolate ourselves in our over stimulated age is very real especially in the Washington, DC area where I live.

We travel a lot.

We work a lot.

We have extra commitments that ask a lot of us.

And, in all of this: we're exhausted. Working on deepening our relationships just feels like one more thing. Showing up regularly for community building is something we don't have time for . . .

But as for me, I want to chart a different course. I wan to say to the universe, to God and to any of you reading this blog post right now that I want more connection in my life.

I want to host more weekly dinners around my dinning room table. (Who wants to invite themselves over?)

I want to be more intentional about hanging out with those who want to be intentional with me.

I want to open up my heart to new relationships that are full of soul-ful connection.

I want more. 

And I want more for the church where I'm serving too. I want them to know and love each other in deeper ways too. I want them to be community that becomes even more committed to each other in 2018.

What about you?

What's are you hoping for in the year to come? It's ok to long for more!

This week like many of you, I'm thinking much about the possibilities of 2016. What joy might be around the corner? What hope might I need to find? What love is yet to be?

But when I think back over 2015, I have to admit though, it has been a TOTAL surprise! But the best kind.

I started the year as the interim pastor of a congregation in Oklahoma. I loved every minute.


Then, early in February, Kevin and I had the professional experience of the lifetime getting to attend the National Prayer Breakfast (and heard some prophetic preaching from the President). We also had meetings with Congressional leaders via our work with Feed the Children at the White House. So cool! 

On February 21st, I celebrated my birthday with these dear ones at a quiet party on top of the Devon Tower in OKC. My dear husband made this lovely surprise possible, a colliding of my worlds!


In March, I enjoyed preaching a Lent series called "First Family" sticking close to the first 5 chapters of Genesis.  The sermon: "We are Clothed" was one of my favorites. Preacher friends: would highly recommend preaching through Genesis during Lent. There's some good stuff there.

Easter was a highlight as well. I led an Easter sunrise service with a fellow female pastor in the middle of Western Oklahoma. (Who would have thought it?) And then a couple hours later I preached one of those Easter sermons when I felt really proud when I was done. I wanted the congregation to know that Easter is a way of life, not just a day and I think they heard me.

2015-04-26 18.14.29April, sadly was a month of treasuring our last days as a resident in Oklahoma in beautiful scenery like this and saying a lot of "thank you's" to God for the gifts of the journey. Most of all, the word, "Beautiful and Terrible Things Happen" was on my mind-- one of my best blog posts of the year, I believe.

May was a month of rest and travel, saying goodbye (at least from our official duties) as President and First Lady of Feed the Children. I preached this sermon at the Dagoretti Children's Center in Nairobi, Kenya with tears in my eyes: "Why are the Hagans Leaving Feed the Children?" Proving yet again that I can't be in Kenya without having wet eyes.IMG_5345

But, as much as I was saying "goodbye" to Oklahoma friends in the move, I quickly found out it was more like "see you later." It's a beautiful thing when God gives you community all over the world!


Once back in DC, God kept giving me places to preach. One of these places was at my home church, Martin Luther King, Jr. Christian in Reston.

Early in June, it was my beloved Pastor Jean's anniversary Sunday and  I boldly proclaimed, "How long will you grieve?" It was one of those sermons though that made people wonder if I'd lost my mind when I started and my soul sister, Amanda and I still laugh about it. 2015-06-14 13.33.16-2

One of my favorite memories of the summer included being the Baptist House chaplain at The Chautauqua Institute in New York. Not only was it a life changing week with a friend but it was the moment I heard a word of direction about starting something new.

A HUGE NEW PROJECT is in the works and I can't wait to tell you more about it in 2016!

2015 was also the year I got over my fear of riding a bike! Look out world . . .2015-07-03 18.16.45-1

In September, Kevin and I bought a new house and prepared to move across town. After living in two states for three years we were ready to slow down and be in ONE place. Though there were bumps along the way-- the house buying process is never for the faint at heart-- we made it through and soon were settled in (though of course we have tons of work to do in the future!).

I refreshed my commitment to writing in the fall-- trying to only BLOG when I had something really burning to say and re-submitted my book proposal for publication (fingers crossed for 2016!).

And as far as the blog goes, these were three of my most read posts:

"Staying in Your Own Lane"  (jealous anyone?) and  "It Gets Better" (a post about marriage) and "All of Life is a Gift" (after visit to Riverside Church in NYC).

This Advent season I was asked to preach at Springfield Christian Church in Springfield, VA for the whole month. I had fun with it! My favorite service was Christmas Eve-- a service in English and Spanish.  Yakelin, the ordained minister and translator I worked with was so full of the Spirit and made the experience one of my favorite of my life. We were so in sink with each other. It feel like a work of art to go back and forth between Spanish and English. I wanted to cry tears of joy when the sermon was over.

And now, we're celebrating the holidays with a beloved friend of ours from Kenya that we met in Nairobi 4 years ago. Sherlyne has brought our home so much joy and we love her very much.


If there is anything I've learned in 2015 is to live in the moment, accept what is and cling to the good.

It could be SO easy for me to be anxious on a regular basis because so little about my life or ministry is planned or settled.

But, I hope as this post shows that when you follow God, things happen. Things you can't dream up happen! So it's only our job to hang on for the ride!

A friend of mine recently told me 'I'm his favorite circuit riding preacher." And I liked that. I can't wait to stay on the move in 2016. Coming to a town near you soon!

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?

I thought I was done. I really did. I had written a book.

The manuscript that I had been working for almost 2 years had finally reached the stage of the game when it was time to really get serious about publication.

I learned how to write a book proposal (which is no small collection of words!). And, I wrote one. Some publishers were even interested. One was really interested. I knew with a little more attention I'd be on my way to the author track. Visions of my book launch party filled my daydreams with glee.

I was ready to be done with this project. It had taken enough out of me. I had "done my time" putting butt to computer chair.

I was ready for an editor to hold my words in hand and do that thing I'd heard they'd do: tear it a part (to make it better of course).

But then something happened.

I went to Africa-- a land of so much fertile soul filled ground for me.

In November with Feed The Children, I crossed the ocean for another big adventure in Kenya. And one night at dinner when Kevin and I happened to be alone, I just came out with it my stirrings.

"I am not done with this book. I need to start over."

Kevin, knowing his task master wife well, looked at me with eyes of disbelief. "What??"

Yup. I knew in my gut was true. I'd already made the decision to start again.

Not because the details I was seeking to narrate in the story had changed. Or because I suddenly realized I needed a whole new writing style. Or even because I lost the courage to tell the story I started to tell when I began with chapter one.

No, I needed to start over because I didn't write the book I was meant to write.

I needed to re-write the whole manuscript.

Many of the bolts and hinges of the story I wanted to tell were there but the framework and the intent was all off.

I needed write about how pain can be a catalyst for transformation and in particular how relationships can be spiritual tools of such. Parts of the old story would be there but the voice would be altogether different.

But the thing is I am not very good at starting over. Though I feel writing is an art form and so I guess that makes me an artist-- I am not your typical artist type. I don't like open-ended possibilities. I don't like perfectionist driven dragging your feet deadlines. I'm a "getter done" kind of girl even if I post blogs with misspelled words.

And here I am in January, staring at a manuscript that needs new life. How could this have happened?

I'm going to do it though. I'm not going to be afraid to start over. Because this is what I know in my heart of hearts:  what I could have offered you would have been good but what I could offer you might just be great. So why not?