Word of the Week

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.

When you find yourself stuck: what then?

Questions like these are ones that I've tried to teach through the past several years. I even did a email devotional series on this topic recently (which if you haven't checked out, learn more here).

And certainly they are the kind of questions that people seek my input on when I'm their pastor.

But proving the point that pastors or helping types are real people, such has been the quandary of my life over the past several months.


Can't seem to find my way to joy. Feeling overwhelmed and not able to do the tasks I really want to do. Disappointed in so many situations around me including those playing out in the news on a daily basis.

Weeks ago, the Senate confirmation hearings for our newest Supreme Court judge really did me in as I know they did for so many women around the country. I found myself sucked into the news that kept playing hope deflating bites.

To feel unheard, silenced or ignored is a dreadful feeling.

It probably doesn't matter to anyone other than me, but I haven't blogged like this in three months. That's like an eternity for "prolific me" as my friend Dana like to say. Writing is a sign of health and well-being if your name is Elizabeth Hagan.

If I had to guess, I haven't written because I haven't known what to say.

Writing in a public space is a vulnerable task to take on. People are so quick to criticize. And though I've been doing it for years, it's still hard every single time especially now where we tear everyone a part seconds after they show up.

It's all so saddening to me. How afraid of vulnerability we have become! And empathy for another point of view seems to be out of the question.

Let me tell you this: as a mover and shaker and get things done yesterday, it's really terrible for this girl to feel stuck, maybe more than some of you (I'm an enneagram 3).

To pray to ask for help and feel like it's not coming fast enough. Or to realize that hope is present but it's crawling toward you at a snail's pace. Or to wonder when our petty political fights will ever end on Twitter.

Yet, in my personal stuck-ness I'm trying to:

  1. Do the next right thing.
  2. Move toward people and places that inspire joy.
  3. Lean toward people who want to listen and grow together.
  4. Seek to take the long view-- what I see now is not all there is.
  5. Ask for help from spiritual guides, coaches and friends.

Maybe you are practicing these things too.

I could end this post by sugar-coating it all, but I won't.

Children still are crying at our borders wanting to be re-united with their mothers.

Women are still in hiding because they fear no one will believe their stories of sexual assault.

Patriarchy still rules in our churches, board rooms and highest offices of power in the land.

Our black and brown brothers and sisters are being harassed daily on our streets by the police who are suppose to protect them, but don't.

I believe you need to be fully where you are if you want to fully go where's next.

So, I am here. We are here.

Worried. Disappointed. Sad.


Where are you?

Ever found yourself stuck and unable to act?

I have!

There have been multiple moments in my life, even some last month or maybe even last week that I felt afraid. I didn’t want to act. I stood on the edge and looked down for a long while thinking of all that could go wrong if . . .

And it took someone saying to me: “Elizabeth, go! Take the first step” so that I knew I could. I am indebted to the voices who have said through the years, "We believe in you!" Aren't you?

Isn't it true, are often those first steps toward meaningful things are those we take on the shoulders of someone else?


This weekend our nation has thought much about the birthday of a man who changed the course of our history as an American people—a man who was willing for his gifts, his graces and even his own life to be offered up as a sacrifice for freedom for all people, no matter the color of their skin.

We've remembered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his strong, steady and God-centered leadership that taught us that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

But, I dare say, weekends like this one would not exist if it wasn't for those who encouraged him first.

For Martin Luther King wasn’t a man looking to change the world. He was just a preacher. A preacher in Montgomery, AL, straight out of seminary, seeking to lead his own congregation in the best way he knew how under the laws of the Jim Crow South.

But, then some brave folks came along. There were many who sought to say enough is enough in Montgomery, AL. These unfair laws have to change!  But then Rosa Parks is the protestor whose name we know best. On that December 1, 1955 she spoke a thousand words by saying no words at all by NOT moving to the back of the bus. And what came from her one-act was a big push.

Once Rosa Parks was arrested, the movement had momentum. Preachers within the black community in Montgomery got together and formed the “Montgomery Improvement Association.”maxresdefault

A spokesman was needed and the ministers' group nominated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pastor of Dexter Ave Baptist Church first. Though new to the community and only 26 years old, this quiet but smart man seemed like the perfect choice. History tells us that Dr. King was hesitant to the minister's first requests but that in the end he just couldn’t say no.

Four days later, The Montgomery Improvement Association asked Dr. King to address the 5,000 folks gathered at Holt Street Baptist Church—his first major address. And from this point on, Dr. King preached to a larger congregation than he ever could have imagined, traveling constantly, and protesting through non-violence.

Studying about this time in history this week reminded me that sometimes it takes someone, anyone, calling us out, preparing the way so that we can take those first steps.

We all need encouragers who speak truth to our hearts! And MLK was no different!


A couple of months ago I sat at a lunch table with a new pastoral colleague. My new friend shared with me that while she attended and graduated seminary and was active for many years in her local church, she never presented herself for ordination. Opportunities abounded around her to serve but in her mind ordination was out of the question because “it was that big thing out there, not for her.”

But then she said it all changed one day when a pastor she’d worked for many years alongside said:

“Girl, you need to stop messing around. God wants you to be ordained. When are we going to start the process?”

That moment, my friend said was a wake-up call for her. It was her time to fully embrace her calling. It was time to say yes. And thank goodness her pastor had the guts to call her out!

My friends, no matter if you are a pastor, a church leader or someone who’s skeptical about the whole church thing altogether—God is calling you. God is calling you out, wanting to usher you to use your gifts and graces so that all the entire community can be blessed.

Even if you are afraid, even if you think now is not the time or somebody could do it better, God is asking you to say yes.

If I know anything about the Spirit of God and how God works in this world, I know there’s always something you and I have to do.

So this is my prayer—may this week be a week of moving forward. And if you need someone to encourage you along the way, find a friend. Or email me. Let's all continue to be voices of encouragement, shoulders to stand on for each other!