Enough

It’s not always easy to remember who we are and who we are called to be. Some days our dreams feel too big or too scary. We think we need to do more, be more, learn more before we take the next big step, before we step into the life we want. We think this is our brain trying to help us be better prepared, but really it’s the voice of “not enough.” Not old enough, smart enough, creative enough. This voice we think is helping prepare us actually holds us back, cripples us. It keeps us from living life whole-heartedly as the person we deeply know we are meant to be.

What do you truly want for your life?

When you answer that question, is there a “but” that follows it? “But I’m not qualified enough,” “But I don’t think I’m ready, I need to work on it more,” “But I don’t think people actually care what I have to say,” “But I’m not financially stable enough.” “But I need to hone in on it more.”

My friend, you listening to the voice of not enough.

It’s a voice that’s trying to protect you, so there’s no need to shun or ridicule it. It’s just not serving you.

Try responding to that voice with gratitude and reassurance, saying, “Thank you for trying to help, but I’ve got this.”

My love, you ARE enough.

Whatever it is you want to do or be, you ARE enough. Right now. As you are.

This post is inspired by Tara Mohr’s Playing Big.

Liturgy for Tragedy

Quote for thought

“The chain of hand to hand is unbreakable.” – Dane Kutler*

*This liturgy is a compilation of words and phrases taken from Dane Kutler’s poetic work, The Book of Solace.

Call to Worship:

One: Bring your unspoken doubts, your anguise, your fears. Come in defiance, come in agony, come in debilitating joy.
All: We are here, we have come.
One: Listen for that still small voice that whispers even when you cannot hear: “I am here. I am here. I am here.”
All: We are not alone.
One: There is much to find here. We can hold all that can no longer be carried.

All: Amen.

Opening Prayer:

Dear God, when we enter the house of the grieving, open our hands to whatever comes from the uncovered wells of mourning. May we witness, may we nourish. May our prayers be turned into acts of love, into the Holy Work of caring for your creation. In the wake of tragedy, may we care for body and soul, contribute to efforts of mourning and repair, and speak truth to seek justice in the most influential ways, whether at our front gates or in the very ears of power. Amen.

Scripture

This week’s lectionary (for October 8, 2017) is

I have chosen to preach from the Philippians text, with the sermon title being: “Where is God?”

Hymn Options:

Christ, Be Our Light
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Be Still My Soul
When Peace like a River (It Is Well with My Soul)
God’s Eye Is On the Sparrow
I Want Jesus to Go With Me

Please feel free to use/change/adapt this liturgy. I just ask that credit be given, particularly to the words of Dane Kutler.

Courage Beyond Fear

I owe the title of this post to Elizabeth Gilbert. I have adored her since reading Eat, Pray, Love in high school and now I’m reading her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Last night, I was reading a section about how being courageous isn’t the same as being fearless. Our fear serves a purpose; it often keeps us safe and healthy. To be fearless would be unsafe. Courage is actually about acknowledging and welcoming the fear, and moving forward with it in tow.

But courage isn’t easy.

I have lived a life of constant fear. I used to be afraid of telling the waitress my order. As a kid, I’d lean into my dad’s shoulder and ask him to say it for me. As I’ve gotten older, I have grown more courageous, but I still get nervous – like a couple days ago when I had to go to the DMV by myself to register my car in California. It took me an hour to get out of bed and find the courage to just do it. (I did, by the way, and even put my new plates on myself, tools and all!). But for the most part, I have decided not to live from fear anymore. I grew from being a little girl afraid of ordering her food into the woman who loves engaging her neighbor in the checkout line in a conversation to help pass the time.

What made the difference? Deciding to acknowledge my fear, swallow it, and move forward with it, knowing it’s still strong in my gut but it’s at least not in the driver’s seat. Oftentimes the more we fight our fear or try to disengage it, the more it actually takes over. I told my therapist once that if my life were like driving a car, I have always tried to put fear in the trunk, but then it usually seeps into the engine and takes control of the wheels, and before I know it, I’ve lost total control over the car. But if I follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice, and welcome fear along the journey (since there’s clearly no getting rid of it), and allow it to sit in the passenger seat, then I can remain courageous and won’t as easily lose control.

We all have things we fear – and I don’t mean just heights or spiders. I mean the fear of failure, or of being alone, or of speaking up. Notice when the anxiety creeps up for you, and when it is holding you back from doing something you truly actually want to do. And this time, rather than trying to tell yourself you shouldn’t feel afraid, try welcoming the fear. Say, “I hear you, I see you.” Validate it. Welcome it. And invite it to go with you.

As Deena tells her warrior son in The Red Tent, “Every act of bravery has the pre-requisite of fear.”

What makes us courageous is not being fearless; it is feeling that fear and deciding to go forward anyway.

 

“do so in remembrance of me”

Today is Memorial Day. A day full of American Flags, BBQs, and lakeside-views, usually ending in dirty feet and grass-stained knees.

Every year, I’m left wondering how irreverent this might be; how somehow our tradition doesn’t actually honor the people who sacrificed so much.

But this year, I thought about Jesus’ words before his ultimate sacrifice:

“do this in remembrance of me.”

When Jesus asked his disciples to remember him, he told them to eat bread and drink wine. I don’t know about you, but bread and wine are staples at my dinner parties!

Truth be told, sometimes the best way to honor people is to have a good time. That’s why funerals are often called celebrations of life. We gather together and celebrate because we know that our loved ones would want us to be together, laughing, eating and drinking, and enjoying our time in community. People make sacrifices to allow us the freedom to be together, so what better way to honor them than to bask in the light they allowed to shine forth?

So today, rather than feel guilty for having a BBQ, I encourage you to raise your glass to those who have gone before you and to those who sacrificed so much so that you can have the opportunity to celebrate freely. As you shotgun your beer or chomp down on that hot dog, do so in remembrance of them.

“Choose Joy”

These two words are gold-pressed on the cover of my prayer journal and painted yellow on a canvas that hangs on a wall in my bedroom.

“Choose joy.”

It seems so simple: choose the things in life that make you happy. Easy, right?

I don’t mean to be flippant. Anyone who copes with depression and anxiety, or struggles with life’s daily challenges, can tell you that sometimes choosing joy is not an option.

But what about when it is?

What people don’t tell you is that sometimes choosing joy is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.

I think about the people who choose to leave toxic relationships or jobs; the people who choose to quit a job or go back to school to pursue another career; the people who choose to fight for justice. The people who choose joy because they know that, though the road ahead will be difficult and scary, not choosing that road could be even worse.

For so many people, choosing joy means choosing life.

And the people who make that choice know the risk of joy.

Choosing joy takes courage, and I believe with my whole heart that every one of us has the capacity to do so: to choose not to stay in the miserable job, the miserable friendship or relationship, the miserable apartment.

Yes, there are varying levels of privilege that allow for different choices, but the choice for joy is still there. (And truthfully, some of the most joyous people I know are those whom society would deem ‘the least of these.’)

But choosing joy doesn’t need to be huge. It can be the little every day things.

Sometimes, choosing joy looks like choosing a salad over a donut; sometimes it looks like choosing the donut over the salad. Sometimes it looks like sepending 5 minutes outside instead of another 5 minutes on the couch, or vice versa. It means choosing the thing that will bring me the most joy in that one moment. But so often I don’t make that choice, and it is usually because deep down I don’t really believe that I deserve it.

Sound familiar?

Every day we can find ourselves at the crossroads of joy and misery; stuck between the choice of continuing the thing that weighs us down or finding the courage to do something different.

But choosing joy takes courage. It takes believing that you deserve joy – that you deserve to feel happiness, love, and goodness.

And that takes love. A whole lot of it!

What I want you to know is that you are capable and brave, and that you are loved. I want you to know that it is okay to choose joy!

As you go forth in your week, notice when you’re at the crossroads. Take a deep breath, connect with your courage, know that you deserve all the goodness in the world, and be brave.

Choose joy.

(and for the moments when you can’t, thank God there is always grace.)

Self-Love in Action: 8 small ways to say “I love you”

My whole life, I’ve struggled with issues of self-worth. Honestly, I think we all do. We all have a hard time loving ourselves or believing that others love us, or that we are worthy of love. The journey towards loving myself has been long.

For a long time, I thought I really did love myself until my therapist pointed out that my actions weren’t really reflecting my words. As much as I was saying, “I love myself” or “I love who I am,” I wasn’t always acting like it. I chose to be in unhealthy relationships, I didn’t eat well, wasn’t keeping my space clean… the list goes on.

After realizing that I do have worth, am loved, and am loveable, I decided to make some changes. Just like many of you, however, I live a very full life and needed to come to terms with the fact that some things (like eating 5 small, healthy meals a day) just are not possible for me right now. I can dream big, but I also need to be realistic. Because the truth of the matter is, when I set goals for myself, if they’re too high and I can’t follow through, my self-worth plummets. Therefore, setting realistic goals for how to love myself through action became incredibly important.

I know we all struggle with this, so I wanted to take some time to share some small self-love actions with you today. I don’t expect all eight to resonate with each of you, so take what you like and leave the rest:

1. Little written affirmations

When I first open my planner (yes, I still write my schedule out on real paper with an actual pen!) at the beginning of the year, I go through and write little tiny love notes to myself. That way, as I open up my planner on a given day, I may come across a little note like, “You are a gift,” or “You are loved!”

If you do not have a paper planner, other ways you can do this is to write little affirmations on sticky notes and place them on places like inside a cabinet door, on your closet door, or on your mirror. (I do this in addition to the notes in my planner!)

Little things like this are a great way of reminding yourself of how wonderful and loved you are! (even – or especially – on the days you might not believe it!

2. Eat one healthy meal per day

As an insanely busy person, and as someone who doesn’t really enjoy cooking, I realized quickly that even meal-prep is too much for me. I tried to keep up a rigorous schedule of 5 small healthy meals with snacks each day, but that only lasted a week and I felt awful about myself for not being able to keep it up. I decided that what I could handle was at least one healthy, delicious meal each day.

This ranges from tuna with avocado on toast, to smoked salmon with crackers and cheese, to protein pancakes with blueberries, to a full-cooked meal of salmon, potatoes, and broccoli.

Meals can be hard, but being intentional about at least one meal each day can make an incredible difference in how you feel! Good food is an act of love, my friend.

3. Mental stop signs

Negative self-talk is a huge problem for many of us. We can nag at and criticize ourselves all day long. It can be a crippling and debilitating downward spiral. But here is a phrase I try to live by:

“Tell the Negative Committee that meets in your head to shut up and sit down.”

Every time I find myself stuck in a meeting with that Negative Committee, I throw up a mental stop sign. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but what I’ve found is that it’s really just a matter of noticing when the Committee starts and being able to adjourn the meeting before it gets on a roll. The trick is to stop the downward spiral of negativity before it begins. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle, “Stop it. You’re great.”

More often than not, I have to repeat this to myself in different ways multiple times until I actually believe it, but if I can notice, say “stop,” then replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations, I’m usually able to get enough momentum going to reverse the spiral.

So get yourself a mental stop sign and throw it up like a judge with a gavel whenever that Negative Committee in your head adjourns.

4. Take time for yourself at least once a day

As busy as we can get, there is always a 5-minute or even 2-minute block of time you can take for yourself. It may be just the thirty seconds it takes to walk to the mailbox when you can finally just take a deep breath, but the time exists. It’s about being intentional. Even just creating the space to take one deep breath with your eyes closed, or while looking up at the sky, can make a difference in feeling a little more loved.

(Though I do not recommend the guilt/shame approach, I admit sometimes I guilt myself into this one: If I can spend 5 minutes, or even 30 seconds, to scroll through Facebook, I can take a few seconds to take a deep breath for myself.)

5. Drink water

I used to hate drinking water, but I feel so much better and so much healthier (and get WAY fewer headaches and stomach aches) when I drink more water.

This is one we sometimes have to be really intentional about, especially if we are coffee-drinkers. One of my dance/yoga professors used to tell us that for every cup of coffee, drink one cup of water. Making the change to carrying around a big water bottle with me (that’s cute and feels very “me”) has made a huge difference in how I feel every day, so drinking water has become an act of self-love!

6. Dress in a way that makes you feel good

When I know I’m going to have a tough day, I wear Christmas socks because they make me smile. I wear a little cross around my neck that reminds me to be loving to others, God, and myself. I put on mascara because I like how it makes my eyes pop

Throw on a pair of socks that make you smile or rock your favorite pair of earrings. These are little tiny acts of love that we can do every day!

7. Check at least one thing off your list.

I love to-do lists. But sometimes I feel awful about myself if I don’t get to everything. What really helps is writing down one thing I have already done, or one thing I know I can easily do (like a quick email), so that I have at least one thing checked. It helps me feel a little more accomplished, which improves my sense of self-worth tremendously.

8. Dance around your kitchen

I don’t care if you feel like you can’t dance. If you can brush your teeth, you can dance. Throw on your favorite music and get moving. Shake your booty! Or maybe you just sway. And if you really don’t like to dance, maybe get up and walk around the room once, or do one downward dog, or just dance with your voice. Music is food for the soul, and so is moving. It’s a blessing if you can get in a little of both for yourself in a day.

Loving ourselves in theory but especially in action is hard. One of the most challenging parts of choosing to follow through on these actions is actually believing that we deserve to be loved. I never realized I was depriving myself of things I love, or of things that make me feel loved, because I didn’t truly believe I deserved it. But I do. And you do too! You deserve to feel like you’re wonderful, amazing, beautiful, brilliant, and loved, because you are.

And if no one else has told you this today, I love you.
Thank you for being on this journey with me!

Namaste,
Kelsey

P.S. I would love to hear the little acts of love you do for yourself! Feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email!

Luke 18:1-8: A Biblical Defense of the “Nasty Woman”

Asian American Theological Forum

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Recent United States Presidential Election and the Nasty Woman

In American culture, intelligent women who voice their opinions and stand up for justice are labeled bitches. They are called “nasty” in Presidential elections and threatened with jail. Once a woman challenges a man’s authority or status, or is persistent in her measures for seeking justice, she is seen as a threat. In Luke 18:1-8 we hear the story of a tenacious widow seeking justice from an ungodly judge who feels threatened by her persistence, and Jesus uses her as a positive character model for his disciples. Though scholars have tried to tame this woman, even through translation, she maintains a challenge to the hegemonic myth of woman as bitch. Her story is a biblical defense of the “nasty woman.”

As a young, progressive woman in America who has watched women stand up for their rights and struggle to have…

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