Tag Archives: freedom


A really special book launches tomorrow, and the fact that I’m part of it is a dream come true in more ways than one.

Just six months ago, I had been thinking and praying about our generation’s need for more voices to speak life and truth and practical spiritual application into the hearts of women. More voices pointing women straight back to the voice of the One who knows us most and loves us best.

And then Elizabeth called.

She described a project she was working on — which happened to be EXACTLY WHAT I HAD BEEN TALKING TO GOD ABOUT. And she invited me to join her and a few others in writing it.

You guys. Sometimes, God lets YOU be part of the answer to your prayer. I could cry every time I think about it. This book is so important, so timely, and so beautiful.

If your soul is weary, and you know you need something - but you can't quite put your finger on what - it may be time to simply... begin.

Friends, if your soul is weary, and you know you need something – but you can’t quite put your finger on what – it may be time to simply… begin. It’s true for so much in life, and especially in our relationship with Jesus: begin. Period. It doesn’t even need a fancy uppercase letter.

Begin where? Great question.

As Elizabeth describes, begin. will give you the basics of spiritual disciplines and then get you quickly on your way to actually practicing them.  Following a few non-bossy suggestions, you will be provided with 40 days’ worth of readings to help you tend to your soul – that inner life that so often goes unnoticed and neglected, and yet is the most important part of you.

So, what are you waiting for!? Jump in with both feet or stick your little toe in — it’s your call, but whatever you do: begin.

If your soul is weary, and you know you need something - but you can't quite put your finger on what - it may be time to simply... begin.

Click image to purchase your copy today.

Lessons From the Trail

I went for a trail run over the weekend. I can’t remember the last time I ran trails, and wow, it was no joke. WAY harder than the road – but so beautiful.

So, there I am, making my way through the trail, barely able to look up for fear of tripping on a root and rearranging my face on a rock – but I MUST look up, lest I rearrange my face on the front tire of an oncoming biker. As these bikers come my way every 8.3 seconds on impressively muddy mountain bikes, I briefly debate which would be easier to maneuver on this trail: my NON-trail-running shoes (which I am wearing), or one of those bikes.  Mountain bike for the win; NON-trail-running shoes for the decisive loss.

Until I come upon the person who is most definitely in last place for trail maneuverability and enjoyment.

I’m working my way up out of a dip when I hear, “Oof!” “Ugh!” “Ouch!” I look up and see a girl with a doozy of an “I hate my life” look on her face, slowly bouncing her way down the trail. ON A BEACH CRUISER.

You guys. I do not even have words. A BEACH. CRUISER. I see her pained expression – pure misery – but I can’t bring myself to feel bad for her because SHE IS RIDING A BEACH CRUISER ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL. All I can think is, “OMG WHAT IN THE WORLD. I have to write this down.

What’s crazy though (and kind of sad), is I’d be willing to bet that after this experience, the girl will say she doesn’t like mountain biking. OF COURSE, right!? She TRIED biking on trails, but she doesn’t like it. It’s just not for her. But you know there’s an obvious problem with this conclusion. Yes, she rode on the trails. But she didn’t really mountain bike. She rode a beach cruiser on a mountain bike trail. Which is kind of its own thing. What she doesn’t like is riding a beach cruiser on a mountain bike trail. She may actually find enjoyment in mountain biking. ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE.

From the first push of the pedal, Beach Cruiser Girl didn’t stand a chance – because a beach cruiser isn’t made for the trail. There is a key piece of equipment required for a fighting chance at enjoying mountain biking: a mountain bike.

Here’s what I can’t stop thinking about: How many people have said, “I’ve tried Christianity, but it’s just not for me.” That could be totally accurate. But is it also possible that person is trying to navigate Christianity without the “key equipment?”

If you’re trying to live the Christian life in your own strength, I’m here to let out the big secret to walking with Jesus: there is HELP. Or rather, there is a HELPER. That Helper is the Holy Spirit. And believe me when I say He is CRUCIAL. He is the Helper given to everyone who surrenders lordship of her life to Jesus and chooses to receive the free gift of salvation (free to us; purchased at a high price by Jesus). To attempt to “do Christianity” without the benefit of having surrendered to Jesus, asking Him to reign in your life, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit – well, frankly, I wouldn’t want to endure that version of Christianity either. 

Actually, true confession – I DID endure that version of Christianity – for years. I had received Jesus as my savior, but I had zero clue about the Holy Spirit. I just did my best to pray and make good choices and just kept on doing the best I could, the best I knew how – all in my own strength, my own way. AND IT WAS LIKE RIDING A BEACH CRUISER ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL.  It was up and down and all over the place and sometimes it was okay but for the most part it was a big journey of frustration and disappointment – all the while, with this deep-rooted suspicion that it wasn’t meant to be that way. And you know what? IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE THAT WAY. The life Jesus came to give us – a full, meaningful, purposeful, joyful, thankful, prayerful life – was never meant to be lived apart from dependence on Him. Daily, moment-by-moment reliance. ON HIM.  Jesus said:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

And you must know, I don’t mean a life that’s “full, meaningful, purposeful, joyful, thankful, prayerful” due to lack of pain, disappointment, or heartache. I mean through it.

The folks on the mountain bikes hit all the same dips and turns and creek beds and roots that Beach Cruiser Girl hit. Some of them were really struggling. But when push came to shove, they had what they needed. They had access to all the gears and shocks and doohickies that mountain bikes come equipped with. Because mountain bikes are MADE FOR THE TRAIL

What about you? As you set out on the trail today, on what – or whom – will you rely? Know this: because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, you have access to all you need. I pray you will receive and experience all that He won on your behalf.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1-2a)

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:37-38a)

Bob Ross and My Messy Beautiful

As we tell the truth about our stuff - the good, the bad, the messy, the beautiful - we'll see God, who loves us so, turn what we thought had ruined us into the miracle that frees us. Looking for a story that could set you free? Don’t miss this read.

Did you ever watch Bob Ross back in the day? You know, The Joy of Painting, Burnt Sienna, White Ochre, and oh the happy little trees…

My brother and I watched him, transfixed, every weekend. Even more than his happy little trees – or THAT HAIR – I remember watching him paint something awesome.

And then paint a huge ugly stroke across the canvas.

Every single time, we gasped, “WHAT IS HE DOING!? HE RUINED IT!” 

And every single time, he turned that mess into a crazy awesome tree or some other unexpectedly brilliant thing – the showpiece of the entire landscape.

We stared at the screen, awestruck. “I thought for sure it was wrecked. HOW DOES HE DO THAT!?”

As a child of about five years old, I had a sexual encounter with a girl in my neighborhood. Because she was also a child (about five years older than I) and was, well, a girl, the situation didn’t match my understanding of sexual abuse. So, I never called it that. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t tell anyone. It never occurred to me that I should.

This encounter prematurely awakened my sexuality, my sensuality. But, I never processed this as something introduced to me by another. Instead, I owned it. As a 5-year-old, I wasn’t capable of handling this awareness, this awake-ness. I became fixated on sexual, sensual thoughts and play. Over time, I developed a notion of “that kind of girl.” Over more time, I believed I was that kind of girl, and believed my memories were proof I’d been that kind of girl even as a small child.

The shame weighed heavy.

I secretly carried and grew that mass of shame, alone, for many years. Then one day I found myself as a college student in a small Bible study where this challenge was issued: share with the group – bring into the light – that deep, dark thing that holds you captive with shame. I had no idea what to share – not for lack of examples, but more like, “Where do I even begin?” I wrestled through my long, shameful list and landed on what I believed was the pinnacle of my shame: I’d had sex with my boyfriend. As a Christian, I thought it was the most sinful thing I’d ever done and the glaring proof I was “that kind of girl.”

Our intimate circle gathered close, and a friend named Kate bravely shared her story first. She had been sexually abused as a child, she said. By a girl just a few years older, she said.

As Kate continued to pour out her story, nineteen-year-old me flashed back to five-year-old me. My world went off-kilter a bit and tears ran down my face as shame and regret and long-held beliefs about myself began to crumble beneath my feet. Until that moment, it had never once occurred to me that my childhood encounter was abuse. That it wasn’t my fault. That it wasn’t proof of my brokenness, but rather the brokenness of this world.  That perhaps I wasn’t “that kind of girl.”

That perhaps NO ONE IS.

You see, I know something important now: there is no such thing as “that kind of girl.” That kind of girl is a lie we put on ourselves or others that shames and isolates. You know that thing you are owning as proof of your shamefulness? “That thing” isn’t the whole picture.

Kate’s mess, what felt to her like a huge stain across her life’s canvas, became a tree of hope to me. It meant I wasn’t alone. It meant that all these dark stirrings I’d carried alone for over a decade could be brought into the light.

Here’s the big thing about Bob Ross (well, the biggest thing after THAT HAIR): He didn’t redeem his masterpiece by covering up that bold stroke of paint. He didn’t hide it; he finished it.

If Kate had kept her story hidden in shame, I would still be locked up by mine. Her vulnerability unlocked my door to freedom. I am fiercely committed to telling the truth about our stuff because maybe I can be someone else’s Kate. As we tell the truth about our stuff – the good, the bad, the messy, the beautiful – instead of hiding it, we’ll see it finished. We’ll see God, who loves us so, turn what we thought had ruined us into the miracle that frees us – by freeing others. IT’S A FRONT ROW SEAT TO THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BROKEN PLACES.

What’s your story? Maybe it’s like mine, maybe not. What stuff do you own, hold onto in the dark, use as ammunition against yourself?

My story is messy. And my story is beautiful. It’s the messy that makes it beautiful. It’s the messy that makes it spill onto someone else’s page. As my bold, ruinous stain becomes finished, it spreads into a tree of hope whose branches reach another canvas.

Stop hiding. Be brave, come into the light, and paint the bold strokes of a messy, beautiful life.

*Kate’s name was shared with permission. I encourage you to click here to visit her at The Accidental Traveler. She writes wonderful things when she finds time amid her FIVE messy, beautiful children!

I was honored to write and share this post as part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — to learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!  And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, CLICK HERE!