Courage to Keep Going


If you told me even a year ago I would be eyeball deep in the details of launching my own stationery brand, I would have thought you were crazy.  But yet here I am.  Sometimes crazy beautiful happens in ways we don’t expect.

Often our hardest won victories are the ones where we fight to keep going when no one is watching.  Long after the news cycles find new headlines, it is that kind of grit and courage that will keep the 10s of 1000s in Texas strong as they fight to reclaim their lives from the biggest flood in our nation’s history.

I may not be able to go and help onsite like I might have in years past, but there are many ways to help, to give and to show support.

I’ve loved words every since I discovered them. I memorized them from dictionaries and poured over prose and poetry in literature. I’ve written them in journals and splashed them on computer screens. I’ve lettered them and painted them and found more of myself in process. But you really don’t own a word until it is etched deep on your heart. So deep it gets infused into your marrow and overflows into your living and walking and being.

For years now, I’ve selected one word to frame my year by. Our words really do frame our worlds. So we need to choose them wisely.  I’ve been developing the Inscribed stationery collection celebrating strong and beautiful words for a while. It wasn’t due to go live until early to mid fall. But the situation in Texas changed my timeline.

I know first hand Texas is a state you don’t want to mess with. I moved 1100 miles away from my Florida home at 17 years old to attend Baylor University. My five years in Texas were foundational to all that came after them. So when Harvey decided to sucker punch the Texas coast, I know one thing: the courage of the Texan spirit is no match for the most devastating flood in US history. Texas has a dear place in my heart and is in many ways a home away from home.

I’m launching WWhimsy Paper Co’s Inscribed collection early with a special Texas bluebonnet inspired version of the word Courage. Courage celebrates the courageous resilience of a state you truly do not want to mess withAll the profits that come in from sales of the Texas Courage art print and greeting card will go to relief efforts supporting communities most affected by the storm and flooding.


Because storms come and waters rise and in the middle of the flood we all need words of hope inscribed on our hearts. Purchase Courage Inscribed here.

Don’t Let Tomorrow’s Storm Steal Today’s Sunshine


There are words that suck all the air out of the room, and make your lungs scream defiant, terrified all at once.  Words like “stage 4 cancer” spoken over someone you love.  Reports like a change in treatment protocol needed because the old combination of medicine is no longer working the way it should.  Gratefully, there are lots of options left.  And we choose to be hopeful and prayerful that the changes will work powerfully with minimal to no side effects.

But the fact that rogue cells gained any traction at all in the body of someone I love so much makes me hate these twisted imposter cells all the more.

My years in a war zone trained my brain to default to worst case scenarios.  There worst case scenarios could be buffered by contingency plans and strategic interventions.  Now worst case scenarios just lay like lead lined blankets that make getting out of bed in the morning a feat close to scaling Mt Everest some days.  Worst case scenarios are entirely unhelpful in this new war zone. 

Right now it is not just a battle about disease, it is battle about time.  About what we will do with the days and months and years we are given.

Because truthfully no one knows the time that remains.  Not one of us.  Some of us are simply in life situations that make us more aware of that fact than others.

What if the weather forecast called for 100% chance of storms next Tuesday?  Would that forecast stop us from enjoying today’s sunshine?  Of course not.  We would not let tomorrow’s storm steal today’s sunshine.

But so often we let fear of loss, of failure, of a million things that may never happen steal the only thing any of us ever truly has: the moment we are in right now.

Then there are the things that though they likely will happen eventually, focusing on them ahead of their time steals today right from under our feet.

Focusing on what ifs steals what is.  Focusing too hard on the future empowers a reality we have not yet been given the grace to walk through. That friend is where my fight comes in. 

My fight is won and lost by what I choose to focus on.

There are some things you just have to set your face like flint towards and refuse to be moved. I may not be able to change certain circumstances, but I sure can change the way I relate to them.  And I REFUSE to let tomorrow’s grief steal today’s joy.

Utterly refuse.   Today is too precious.  I refuse to let a future grief steal the present moment to build memories and love well.  Today by grace I will live and love well. I will cherish the present and receive it as the gift it is.  I will choose to let tomorrow worry about itself and trust the One Who holds me and the futures of all the ones I love in His hands.

Love Looks Like Something

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I will never forget this cherub-faced princess and daughter who taught me profound lessons about love.  She always wore her heart boldly, even as an infant.   She taught me volumes of understanding about a love is costly and messy and uncomfortable.  A love that stretches you beyond your limits and then it tugs some more.

The day this picture was taken I sat with my kids in the fading evening light, all of us bursting with giggles as we took silly shots.  Suddenly my crutches went walking away without me, held hostage by my almost four year olds.  “Eh” I call out, “ITA- ita silu de, ita be arfa wa gobadu ana.”

Everyone dissolved into laughter.   I was telling them if they take my crutches, they would have to carry me.   I think they strongly considered my comments a challenge. But I could only hop so far on one leg.

This shot happened almost by accident.  She thought mama’s crutches were posing accessories.  Years later she challenges me still.  Could the very things that threaten to disable and destroy become that which frames the greatest release of God’s beauty in our lives?  Could the evil that frames the world with hate simply be setting the stage for us to show up with love?

Guys, I don’t even really know where to start tonight.  I’ve spent the better part of my life being in the minority.  A woman in leadership.  A woman with disability.  The only or one of a few white people for hundreds of miles overseas.

But I am not going to pretend I even begin to understand the depth of impact seeing the images the violence in Charlottesville has for my friends with darker skin tones than my own here in my home nation. Because I don’t. I couldn’t. I’ve faced deeply hurtful discrimination because of being a woman and at times for being disabled… but I haven’t been second guessed because of my skin color, or been called hateful slurs, or been singled out.  I have not had to deal with the same kind of systemic injustice.

I am just going to say it.  However well-intentioned, the #ThisisNotUs hashtag floating around social media misses the point entirely.

Have we ever harbored a thought about someone who is different than we are that was less than loving? Then it is absolutely on us. Change starts IN us before it can ever happen through us.

We need to call one another higher.  Especially those of us who say we follow Jesus.  These are the watershed moments where we can choose to see, to speak, to become the conversation changers, the storytellers and poetry makers, the artists and activists that shape the world of tomorrow, not with a hashtag but with our lives.  Our choices.  Our words.  Every single day.

Make no mistake.  Silence is deafening.  And I for one, will not be silent.

We must dare to have the hard conversations.  And keep having them.

The gorgeous gaggle of children I was privileged to love as my own and raise for seven years came from many different regional tribes that had generations of strife and animosity between them.

But we grew up as one family who loved and prayed and played and cried and laughed together.  We celebrated our differences and those differences made us stronger.  We were family before we were anything else.  And they did not see my skin color except to insist if I stayed long enough it would grow nice and dark like theirs because they were quite sure I had Sudanese blood on the inside.

Even more astounding was to watch our children love and bless and pray for their enemies that in many cases violently took their entire world from them.

They taught me that real love looks like something… It looks like being peace in the storm, laying down our lives for one another, standing with the oppressed, walking in the opposite spirit, stepping out of our safe comfort zones, paying the price to have eyes that see, seeking to understand rather than be understood.  And this kind of love never fails.

Today.  In the torn fabric of our nation divided, does our love look like something tangible?  Because beloved, if it isn’t tangible, it isn’t love.