Thursday, July 21, 2016

The smallest biggest words.

Yes and No. They are the smallest words. But, sometimes, they can be the biggest thing you say.

"Yes, please!"
We go through the phases of wanting to say that to everything. Do we want to help? Yes, please. Do we want to be involved with the new project? Yes, please! Do we want to commit to that new class at the gym or even get certified to teach it? Yes, please! Do we want to go to the party this Friday and the weddings all next month? Yes, please! Do we want to apply for that promotion? Yes, please! Do we need to stop and take a vacation? Yes, please! I recently read Amy Poehler's book by this title and it had me nodding in agreement with her excitement over life and all it's possibilities. She's a geniusly talented woman who goes deep and works her butt off. And I'm writing Leslie Knope into this year's ballot.

"No, but thank you." 
Most of us either have a struggle with saying this, becoming very uncomfortable when we need to, or we are in a stage where we just want to say this to everyone and everything in the world. It's extremely challenging to learn the balance. I read a book recently called "The Best Yes" and surprisingly, it is about learning to say no well and choosing the best option and the best investment with your "yes".

The more I've been pondering these concepts, the more I've come to believe in the importance of them. Of balance. Of saying "Yes, please!" to the things and the opportunities that are right-even when they're scary and not the first or comfortable choice. It's so much easier sometimes not to try to weigh and think through these types of issues. But when we come to a place or realizing and learning how beautiful a balance can be, it is freeing and healing and life-giving. Not just for you. For others. Because what we often forget is that when we carefully choose our "yes" and our "no", we take better care of our lives and ourselves. And when our lives and ourselves are better managed, we can have better investment in others. I believe all over scripture, it's talked about. It's pointed to. It's shown as the healthiest way to do life. Balancing your "Yes" and your "No." And I absolutely suck at it. I've been to counseling for it over and over and over. And I STILL suck at it. I want to please everyone all the time and I want to hide from them when I know I can't. 

The last year has been a lot. Working all the time at 4am at a minimum wage job and going to school has not been good for my body. The doctor called me out recently with test results showing thyroid levels being wonky again, PCOS, high cholesterol, and a bad liver. Apparently I contracted a temporary form of hepatitis in Africa that hasn't left my body and I'm bordering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. I've seen disease in Africa. I have friends with cancer at the moment, I'm not sitting in a pity party. The point is, I have a choice now. I'm presented with the facts. And I need to choose what direction and option to take. So I think about my "Yes please" and my "No, but thank you" and what is wise despite it being scary. And I make a few large decisions:

After a decade with them, next week will be my last day at Giacomos Espresso. I'm not 18, and my body has some serious issues. I just can't be getting up at 4am anymore. And there's no shame in that. 
Between Starbucks, Borders, and Giacomos, I've been a barista for 15 years. You can bet change is scary. But it's good. I have had 4 job offers. Saying "No, but thank you" is so dang awkward. But it's good. Saying "Yes, please" to the right one for your life is the best thing you can do for you and those watching you. Your choices speak to everyone in your life. 

My body is not great. I have PCOS. My thyroid is broken. My liver isn't looking too pretty right now, I have serious problems having any energy, I have the acne of a Jr. High girl going through puberty, and I need to lose weight for my health. What do I do? What is the best way to face and deal with all the issues in one big swoop? I think. I pray. I research. I ponder. I ask questions. And I make a decision. A decision to say "Yes" to one big thing and "No, but thank you" to almost everything else offered to me. Is it easy? No. It's terribly inconvenient. But I believe it will be worth it. I chose to transition into being a (mostly) raw vegan. For many reasons I believe this will be best for me. It's huge, but it's something I think I need to do. I'm in my first week, and I've had 2 meals out that probably had animal fat in the beans, but by next week, I plan on full-on saying "No, thank you" a whole lot. I will get backlash. People will tell me it's not right or not healthy. But I've been in this health world for a long time now. I've taken classes on this lifestyle. My decision isn't naive. I know what I'm getting into and how to get the nutrients I need. Let's hope this helps clear out, reset, and nourishes my body. I've had fun so far this week creating things.

I am wired in the arts and haven't said "Yes, please" to anything in music or theatre for years. The other day I sat down and played the piano for the first time in forever. And I sang musicals. Something I forgot I can do. I serenaded my professor with "Popular" and she loved it. I even remembered every word to "Trouble" from The Music Man. Because playing that role (Even though it's always been for a man) is a life-long dream and I refuse to let it die. (You want to know where rap began? Just watch the clip below!) So I'm saying "Yes, please!" to getting back into singing, playing music, and being around the theatre. Not just because I want to and love it, but because by being fully me and by fully using my gifts, I will better pour into and influence others. 

What kinds of things do we all need to stop and consider our "Yes" and our "No" to today? What areas in life are we just going through the motions in that should be evaluated? What decisions are before us that require us to consider a best yes? Not a yes that pleases someone, but a best yes? Because the freedom that comes with being able to choose just one best thing to say "Yes" to is astounding and changes life. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Why 1:16 matters today more than ever.

Last week at BVG we began a series called Not Ashamed. 

Today, as I woke up to the country in turmoil yet again, I thought and prayed about what I would want to say to my friends who seemed to be genuinely panicked and upset-this shooting leaving them feeling as if all hope and safety is gone. 

As I drove to work in the dark before the sun even rose, I saw the usual people in downtown area. Stumbling about. Shouting and hollering at nobody and nothing except whoever in their minds they assumed was there and listening. And I thought to myself "Yeah. If I didn't know hope, I'd be there. Without hope, I couldn't face this world & life & remain sane." 

Then a friend texted to tell me about some dangerous & corrupt things going on in ZA & as I pictured how it's changed in the year since I lived there, I thought "Yeah. If I was living under some of that stuff with no light at the end of the tunnel, I'd probably turn completely angry & go a bit nuts, too!" 

A customer pulled through early & shared that she's just been diagnosed with cancer & doesn't see an ounce of meaning in her life. I thought to myself "If I didn't know this life was a moment in something so much grander, I'd feel the exact same way. I'd be done for." 

Then I thought about the series we started last week: Not Ashamed. And I saw just how perfect and how needed this series is RIGHT NOW. There are many reasons for us to be unashamed of the gospel. Of the truth that God did so love us that He gave Himself to save us and give us an entire Kingdom-just to be with us. But with so many things going on right now, it's more important that EVER before to fully grasp Romans 1:16: for it truly is the power to save. To save your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family. Not just save them from an eternity separated from God. But to save them NOW. In this life. In this moment. This week. This fear. This danger. This disease. We have the truth and the hope that heals, redeems, restores, and makes ALL THINGS NEW. All things beautiful. If there was ever a time in your life to brave up and speak up about the Jesus who's radically changed your world, now is the time to do that! Now is when it matters. Let's be that hope this world so desperately needs today.