The Poverty of Hope

Someone You Know is Living in Poverty

October 1, 2017

What does poverty look like? Tattered clothes, unwashed hair, a gaunt reflection or, maybe, dirty drinking water. Yes, it is all of these things. But what about the poverty right next door, in the row of cubicles you sit in every day . . . or your own home?

When we think of poverty, our minds often turn to economics. We think of food, shelter and the amenities of what we deem to be physically necessary to life. I was reminded today, as I sat on a comfy chair, sipped my latte and looked around me, that poverty is more than being poor in material goods . . . there is a poverty of hope. It hit me like a punch in the gut and brought me to tears to really tune into the level of hope in those around me.

Insufficient, deficit, scarce—whatever you call it, a lack of hope can create a poverty of the soul. Sullen shoulders, a vacant stare, a distracted longing. It should make you ache to think about it. Look up from your cell phone and really see the people around you. Is someone struggling under the burdens of despair, past choices or a feeling of unworthiness? That hurt needs hope.

Just like you give your spare change to help others in need or donate warm clothes to those in need this fall, give of your hopeful energy and share warm hugs of support. Even as one of the richest nations in the world, we suffer from a great epidemic of the poverty of hope. It’s easy to believe that “me is enough,” that you “don’t want to interfere” or that you have “too much on my plate already.” I call bullshit.

No one was created to be lonely or go it alone. Love and kindness are never interfering (we both know that’s an excuse for inaction). And yes, we all have a ton of distracting tasks and weighty to-dos, but giving to others is the best way to get right in your own life.

The poverty of hope is not something that I, you or any of us can tackle solo—we must turn to each other in humility, care and mercy to share the hope we have and reverse this trend of poverty in our neighbors, families and communities.

Start by showing up for the next person you see . . . a smile, a bright hello, an offer of assistance, a prayer . . . every little act is an investment in their life and your own.

Worthy of Reflection

Worth a Thousand Words

September 17, 2017

Do you feel worthy? Of your blessings, of your life, of love. Worthy of compliments from others. Worthy of feeling confident in your own skin. Worthy of praise for your actions. Worthy of celebration for your personal triumphs. Worthy of happiness.

Worthy is a tricky, funny word that trips many of us up. It begs for recognition . . . but that recognition may not always feel like roses and rays of light. Sometimes our ability to feel worthy is influenced by the world, our hurts, our hangups and our fears. Worthy becomes a distant cause and may seem a far cry from your present existence.

However, worthy is not about looking the best or performing the best. Worthy is about feeling a glimmer of care within yourself. It begins with a deep inkling of hope and grows with patterns of nurture. Worthy is whispering, “I believe in the goodness in me.” and “I feel love washing over me.” and “I am worthy of realizing my dreams.”

I challenge you: speak a 1,000 words of worthiness to yourself. Begin with things like, “I love myself.” and “I am beautiful.” and “I delight in my existence.” and “I rock!”

Worthy is worth daily reflection. Whether it’s tallying your finer points or simply owning the here-and-now you, it takes practice.

When you give into thoughts of what you lack, how you don’t matter or why you don’t deserve something, you devalue yourself. You are worthy. You are remarkable. You are you for a reason.

You are exactly where you need to be but not where you will always remain. You are worthy, my friend. Hear me and repeat this as often as you need to make it real.

Oh, and when you feel stronger, freer and more hopeful . . . pass it on by sharing 1,000 words of worthiness to those around you. Strangers, friends, strange friends. You feel me.

Notes to My Sisters

January 19, 2017

Spiritual sisters, career sisters, traveling sisters, biological sisters, sisters I have yet to meet . . . to the ladies I love, respect, appreciate and admire, I have a few words for you.

Deepest gratitude for the off-hours texts and just-because calls. You never cease to amaze me with your heart, your wit and your ways of knowing where my heart drifts. Every prayer and every sweet hug are fathomless in my book of life.

Never, ever, ever give anyone the power to degrade you. Your joy, your trajectory and your very breath are for you and the Lord to command. Knock down the harsh words, judgmental stares and doubting intentions that may mar your path. Sweep it away swiftly.

Embrace your roots, smile forward and be present now. The past is a lingering lesson not a tether. The future is a glimmer of hope not a destination. Now is your gift and everything it should be. Love it, celebrate it, learn it and sink into it fully.

Resist measurement. Your eyes will break you down, piece by piece. Your worries will hold you captive. Your presumed obligations and expectations will throw you off balance. Accept the glory of you and the gift of exactly how you are wired, created and forged in faith.

Laugh as much as your cheeks and belly allow. Humor is grace let out. It lightens heavy burdens. It quells arguments. It puts thoughts into perspective. When paired with compassion, childlike curiosity and bubbly effervescence, it is the answer to oogley moments.

I welcome your wisdom below in the comments. May hope, love and light be yours today!

What If We Stopped Asking Why?

September 5, 2016

Here is a guest post from the phenomenal Sherri Martin of LiveWonderstuck.com. Enjoy:

What if, just for today, we didn’t worry about why we are here? What if, just for today, we stopped asking, “God, why?” What if, just for today, we said, “I am open to Your wonder.” Then, what if, just for today, we paid attention to only what is right in front of us. What might we see, hear, and feel?

We might see how the light shines through the window like a spotlight, how it highlights the gentle curve of the couch arm. How have we never noticed this thing that we use every day? This thing that is both soft and sturdy. This thing that holds us when we are weary, that holds our loved ones.

We might see the mess of shoes by the door. Rather than fretting over tidiness, we might notice how each pair represents someone we love, how some lean on others and some laces intertwine. But isn’t that what family is? A mess of different styles, of different fits, jumbled together, being okay with showing their wear and tear.

Outside, we might see the flowers standing tall, boldly declaring their colors. And if we get closer, we will see how their petals are imperfect, asymmetric, dappled with holes, frayed at the edges, and still these flowers have the audacity to be seen. Do you?

What if, just for today, you stopped asking God why you are here and instead said, “I am here, God. Give me the audacity to see and be seen. Not at some future point when I think I am perfect and ready, but now, God, when you know that I am imperfect and that I am ready anyway.”

What might today look like?

Seeking Transformation

January 19, 2016

So often, we find ourselves looking for information, answers and basic yes/no confirmation. There is nothing wrong with wanting simplicity or closure but, sometimes, there is more to be learned in the seeking than the solution.

As 2016 unfolds, I find myself celebrating a blessed birthday for the first time as a shepherd to my little girl, for the first time as the final year to my third decade and for the first time as a soul completely aware that I will always be a beautiful work in progress. These firsts are blessings. These firsts generate emotions I am navigating with vulnerability. These firsts bring a mix of excitement, humility, joy and solemnity.

What I know more now than ever is that I need my faith, need to grow in my wisdom and need to welcome the transformation that God offers freely every day. Whether it is a softening of my spirit to show more tolerance or a hardening of my resolve to face the tough conversations, I am constantly and utterly transformed by powers much greater than myself.

I am not a linear thinker and lean on whimsical tangents more than most, so shaping me must take more love and grace than I can fathom. I am grateful for that effort—that unending promise to keep working on me and keep working in me.

What I share in this moment is the knowledge that you can be both “enough” and completely whole as you are and, yet, be “transformed” every second of every day. In fact, it will happen without you having an ounce of control or say in the matter. In that way, it is reassuring to know that despite the moments of exhaustion, confusion or stress, you will still be transformed.

Ah, and the true miracle happens when you seek out that transformation, graciously hoping and accepting it in your life. That, friends, unlocks deeper truth, greater joy and more profound understanding than you may have ever thought possible. I wish that for you and look forward to transforming along side you.