“Our souls may all be equal in the sight of the Lord, but our gumption and ingenuity ain’t. So the results of man’s labor will never be equal.” -Bess Streeter Aldrich

My friend Carrie is so full of gumption, it will splash on you if you’re close enough. It overflows from a place deep inside her, a place that is scarred with the ache of abandonment, betrayal and abuse. Carrie left home when she was 14. She rode around on trains and hitchhiked wherever the wind took her. She has been beaten brutally by men who promised to love and cherish her. Here children were stolen away in the night. She spent a season of her life homeless and she used to do meth and stay up for days. Not many people know all of that about her, but for some reason she has chosen to share her stories with me. Make no mistake, she and I are as different as two people can be, and yet for some reason when my heart is cracking, Carrie’s presence soothes and slows my unraveling. Carrie has gumption that bubbles its way to…


“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” -Corrie Ten Boom

I’ve told the story my whole life. It is one of my earliest memories.

My baby sister Rachel and I were digging around in a toy box, stacking barbies and playing in the corner of a bright office while my dad filled out paperwork with a lady behind a desk. No one noticed the coffee machine perched on the shelf above our heads. Rachel tugged on a cord while she was reaching for a toy and the coffee pot clattered down. Scalding dark liquid soaked her clothes and skin. My dad was by our side in an instant. He scooped the baby up, ran to his truck and drove madly to the emergency room. My sister spent weeks in a burn center about an hour from our home. My parents found a place to stay near the hospital, and they spent every moment caring for her.

Eventually, the doctors told my parents they needed to see what was underneath the damaged skin. If they scraped down and found new skin, there was good chance for recover…

Dear Mom of the Graduate


My Canvas

Lately my life feels a little like watching one of those cool artists who paints during seminars and conferences. The guy sets this huge canvas up on the stage and puts on cool music and starts throwing paint up there. It's a mess. But he is working so dramatically, and the colors are so vibrant, you keep watching. And at some point it begins to take shape. And then all at once you realize...there was a plan all along, and the scattered spots and swipes of paint take shape to make a beautiful image. And everyone gasps and begins cheering and we all ask each other: why couldn't we see it earlier? Here's an example if you've never seen it before:

Powerful Speed Painting of Jesus Will Leave You in Awe from inspiredfaith on GodTube.

I'm not gonna lie; the last couple of years have been rough. I've struggled with clinical depression and worked through some tough personal things. I couldn't really see where God was going with all of it. It felt messy, and pointles…

Renee's Heart

My friend Renee suffered an excruciating and sudden tragedy last week. Those of us who know her are painfully aware this isn't her first time swimming through crashing waves of heartache and loss. I sat down this morning to write her something that would bring her comfort; something to soothe the cracks in her heart. I can't. That's the god-awful truth of the thing. We all know it.

You see, nothing is going to make this okay.

Doug and Renee's teenage daughter went to bed --- and woke up in heaven. No warning. Just like that. Gone.

Who am I to offer any kind of comfort to a family who is starting a new week without their girl? Let's be honest; even if God himself came down and gave them an explanation, it wouldn't be good enough. Lindsey is gone, and they didn't get to tell her goodbye or whisper love into her ear before she slipped away. It's not fair.

But here's the thing; even in the midst of her suffering, Renee sees light. Even in the dark craw…

Embrace Your Hike

In May of 2016, my friend Alicia and I drove to the bay area for an Anne Lamott writing workshop. Listening to Anne Lamott speak is like eating a giant platter of noodles. Some are undercooked, some are mushy, some are all tangled up. But underneath piles of noodles are the most amazing meatballs I've ever tasted. And when I get a bite of perfectly cooked pasta with a savory, mouthwatering meatball...I just close my eyes and fall backwards straight into bliss.

Anne dished up a few meatballs during the workshop. Many of her words were about writing. But some of them were about life. A quote I wrote down in my journal was this:

"If you have a phone in your pocket, it's a whole different kind of hike."

It reminded me of this picture. Just take 30 seconds and stare at it. Don't keep scrolling.

My phone keeps me connected with everyone I love and issues I care about. Some of my favorite memories are recorded in my phone. My parents are skilled in the emoji arts. …

Just get your caboose out there

I started training for a 5k. WHAT?!


One dark, rainy night I downloaded an app on my phone and followed the optimistic, slightly grating female computer voice who told me when to briskly walk and when to jog. For 31 excruciating minutes. I didn't stop, and I didn't die.

Huh.That's weird.

You see, I've told myself my whole life:

I'm just not athletic.I hate running.Runners are crazy.I look ridiculous when I run.I'm going to hurt myself and then die a slow, painful death.
But the truth is, I thought I couldn't do it. So I made fun of running. I made fun of myself.

A couple of weeks back, the Lumberjack and I sat down to plan our year. I said I wanted to do some tough things. I wanted to set some goals that have a small chance of being met; I didn't want to just pick things I KNEW I could do. I wanted to write down some things I probably wouldn't be able to do, but chasing them would make me grow.

When I said I wanted to be healthier, I tried to t…