The Joys of Berry-Picking & Other Discoveries from My Week in Oregon

1. Front porches should be a thing everywhere.

I’ve been to several cities where front porches rule the day: Columbus, Charlotte, Portland. California – at least, the Bay Area – is seriously missing out.

I long for a good front porch – it seems like the perfect place to both relax and get some good alone time and also be available to spontaneous chats with friends and passersby.

I don’t know that everyone takes advantage of their front-yard space, but I’m telling you: if I had a front porch, I would be out there almost every night. I love sitting out with tea or a glass of wine, chatting with friends, and saying hi to the neighbors. If the Lord ever sees to bless me with a house with a front porch, I promise to put it to good use.

2. Church is everywhere God’s people are gathered. As my pastor in San Francisco has often said, “We’re the body gathered and scattered.”

While I completely believe in the importance of regular gatherings with other believers – for accountability, teaching, and inter-generational wisdom – I don’t think that church is limited to Sunday mornings.

I saw this truth play out over and over again during my week in Oregon. Whether we’re talking over coffee or during a long car ride, conversations with dear friends is one of the primary ways I connect with God. I love learning other people’s stories, asking hard questions about our struggles, and “spurring one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

There’s a reason God gave us each other; he knew we’d need each other to be a full and complete body – with all our vital limbs and organs – able to live out his love in the world. Continue reading

Leaving a Legacy of Love: Alonzo Richardson, 1917-2015

My grandfather was a truly amazing man and a masterful storyteller. I must get my love of stories from him, and I’m so grateful for the legacy he left during his 98 years on this earth.

Over the past couple weeks, I’d been preparing for what I would say at his memorial service yesterday. Thankfully, I had nearly 30 years of my own memories to reflect on, a treasure trove of memorabilia to inspire me, and so many stories.

Up until the very end, Grandpa refused to live anywhere aside from the home he and Grandma had lived in since 1960. “I’m going from here to heaven,” he would say. And he was right. Continue reading

Life on the Inside: Finding the Connection We Crave

Woman in rainHave you ever felt like you were on the outside of a group looking in? Whether you were just on the sidelines of a party or trying hard to integrate with a new group of friends, it’s easy to feel like everyone else shares a secret that you don’t know. Or like they speak a language you don’t understand.

That’s the way I felt frequently throughout my growing up years. A little shy, a little uncertain, I didn’t fit in with the louder, funnier girls with their fashionable Gap jeans and pristine white Keds. I couldn’t keep up with their jokes and their knowledge of pop culture. I didn’t know who JTT was, I didn’t watch Friends, and I didn’t listen to No Doubt – unless I snuck in some secret CD time at a friend’s house. It was hard to fit in with the “in” crowd.

While I wasn’t often the center of attention, and I didn’t have an expansive circle of friends, I had a few very good ones. And to be honest, that suited me then and still suits me now. But as an impressionable, vulnerable girl, the fear of being left on the outside shaped me.

I learned to “armor up” and earn affection by making myself who I thought people wanted me to be – the good girl that my parents would praise, the perfect student that teachers loved, the Sunday school kid with all the right answers.

That “good girl” image sustained me through high school. I built my life upon it. I found my identity in it. It helped me feel like I fit in somewhere. But I soon found a more powerful draw than being admired for being good – the thrill of guys’ attention. Continue reading

What Are Your Cravings Telling You?

If I didn’t have writing, I think I’d weigh a thousand pounds. Rather than eating my feelings all the time – which, let’s be honest, I still sometimes do – writing is a much healthier environment for processing my thoughts and emotions than a bag of sweet potato chips or a bar of dark chocolate.

When the craving to snack strikes, that typically means I need to write. If I’m not hungry but I’m salivating over salted almonds, there’s probably something behind that.

If I want to pour myself a glass of bourbon, first I need to pause to appraise my feelings. In my more clear-headed moments, I ask myself:

  1. Why do I want it? 
  2. Should I write or go for a walk or do anything else instead?

(If you’re wondering, the answers to those questions are usually “because it tastes good and I like it and maybe I just want to soften the edges this hard day a bit.” And “yes, I should probably do any of those things before sitting down with a glass of bourbon – alone.”)Ginger lemon tea

Bourbon in good company is great. Bourbon alone requires discernment.

I don’t just ignore my cravings, though. That rarely works. If I try to stuff them in a drawer, they become like little gremlins, banging and shouting to be let out. They make a mess. In my mind, in my heart. It’s not pretty. And usually, I just end up frustrated and caving in and having that handful of almonds or that third cookie that I don’t really need but just want for the crunch. Continue reading

One Word That Will Change You Forever

I’m so excited to reveal the concept and working title for my first book…


To everyone who took the time to fill out the survey a couple weeks ago…thank you!! Not only did you help solidify the direction I felt called to go, but you also provided me with much needed encouragement and confirmation that this is the book I need to write at this time. This concept of “enough” is where the story starts.

The Power of “Enough”

“Enough” has the power to change us and transform our relationships. It’s where strivings cease and peace takes over. It’s about operating out of a cycle of grace and acceptance instead of fear and performance. It’s about believing that God is enough, we are enough, and we have enough to sustain us in this messy, beautiful life.

These are some of the concepts I’ll be exploring in my book. By sharing my story with as much raw honesty and vulnerability as I can, I hope you’ll see yourself in the book and recognize that you are so not alone. We’re all moving toward the place of “enough,” and my hope is to come alongside you on your journey and offer up some of the practices and truths that have helped change the rhythm of my life.

In addition to learning to rest and release control, I’ve found that perfectionists like me need tangible, practical tools for shifting their patterns of thinking and living. That’s what I’m aiming to provide in “Enough.” I joke that this book has cost me hundreds of dollars in professional counseling. And as much as I joke about it, it’s true. I’ve learned so much through the hard work of self-discovery, re-training my mind, and introducing new practices into my daily life. And I’m so excited to share this knowledge with you.

Progress, Not Perfection

My story is not done, and I find such reassurance in that. While I’m more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, I’m glad to know that I’ll be even more at ease at 60 than I am today. When we’re in pursuit of God and allow his perfect love to come in and transform us, our thoughts and behaviors are guaranteed to change. That’s a promise you can count on.

We’re aiming for progress, not perfection.

That’s the point of “enough.” It’s enough that you’re reading this right now. It’s enough that you want to change, to release control, to recover from perfectionism. We all start somewhere – you come to the table with all your burdens and joys and the mix of your past and your present. You come with the belief that things can be different, that we can be more peaceful, that we don’t have to hustle for our self-worth, that we can slow down, and that there just might be a bigger plan that’s worth trusting.

I hope the truths, rhythms, and practices I cover in my book will help you on your journey from performance to peace and fear to faith. I hope you come to believe what I know is true: “you are enough.” Let’s keep figuring out this beautiful, messy life together. I’m so glad you’re here.

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“I’ve Got This” Or Why I’m Not Dating Right Now

Your deadlines are pressing in on you like a heavy weight, you’ve run out of clean underwear, and you think your marriage or your dating life (or lack of one) just might kill you.

Life can feel overwhelming. That’s why I write. I write for the men and women who need to know that even though life feels out of control, that might actually be a good thing – there might be something to learn or a way to grow and stretch beyond the present trials. I write for people who want to find purpose in the small and big, the light and dark, the mountains and the molehills. Purpose that stems from who they are, not what they do.

SparklerI write for the woman who sometimes struggles to see the beauty in life – especially when she looks in the mirror. She’s so caught up in the trials and frustrations, and I just want to tell her: It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Because these things are hard. But 1) God is present with you, and if you let him come close to you in this state of frustration, you’re going to find a peace and joy that you didn’t know was possible. And 2) these circumstances will change you. You’re in the crucible. So rather than trying to find a way OUT or AROUND, look for the way THROUGH and the gifts you’ll find IN that place.

Basically, I write for me, because those are truths I need to remind myself of daily. And I write for you. I write for the women I know and love – even if I’ve never met them – who want to believe there’s grace in the messiness of their lives. Who are tired of the constant striving and hustling for their self-worth. Who want to experience joy and love that’s not tied to their performance or the level of perfection they’ve achieved in their bodies or their work. Who want to press through the challenges and come out stronger on the other side. Continue reading

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Say No

Last week, we looked at 4 Great Reasons to Say “No.” If you haven’t read that post yet, take a minute to go back and get the history before reading below.

Back? Okay. Just as there are some truly life-giving reasons for saying no, there are also a few that are actually holding us back. Which of these is most true for you?

  1. You’re Afraid

I’ve said no to so many things in my life that I was afraid of: sports, relationships, hamburgers. Yes, I was afraid of hamburgers. (It’s a texture thing.) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to try things that initially scared me – sushi, hiking, speaking in front of hundreds of people – and in doing so, I’ve become much more clear about what I do and don’t want (see point 1 under 4 Great Reasons to Say “No”). Continue reading

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

Even if you’ve never watched an episode of Friday Night Lights, you’re probably familiar with the chant clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. It’s the rallying cry of the football heroes before they take the field, and while I’d heard it many times, and it certainly sounded nice, I’d never given the phrase much thought until last week.

Clear Eyes_Full Hearts_Can't Lose

You see, last week I hit a wall – like a football team up against stronger rivals, I felt like I was being beaten down by familiar enemies named Control, Worry, and Stress. I’d been stressing about a situation in my life that I want to “figure out.” I felt like I couldn’t make sense of what was in front of me, and my heart felt both empty and clogged up with worry at the same time.

Then, all that stress found its way into my body, and I came down with a bug – both a head cold and a stomach virus. Super fun. Instead of giving myself grace and making space to rest, my first inclination was to stress and try to “fix” my way to being healthy – not the smartest approach – before my trip to Miami at the end of the week. I did ultimately stay home to rest, but my struggle was less with the state of my body and more with the state of my heart. I was downing water, sipping on ginger ale, and taking it easy at home. But I don’t think I would have improved as quickly as I did if I didn’t rest my mind and heart as well as my body. Continue reading

Everything I Know About Dating

Yesterday one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, shared “all that she knows at 61.” There were so many gems in her post…

Laughter really is carbonated holiness.

Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together…So try not to compare your insides to their outsides.

Earth is Forgiveness School.

Yes. Yes. And YES.

Inspired by Anne’s honesty and spot-on humanness, I thought I’d share “all I know about dating.” By no means am I an expert on this topic. I am simply another late-20s, verging on her 30s, city-dwelling girl trying to date well. Which, to me, means treating others with respect, enjoying the process, and learning a lot along the way.

People have asked me to write about this topic for a while, so rather than keeping it all to myself, I’m sharing it with you. Continue reading