Use Your Words

By Posted in - General on January 27th, 2015 41 Comments



Last week in Phoenix I ran into a friend I haven’t seen for years. He influenced me very deeply in all sorts of ways in one particular season of life, and then there he was, unexpectedly, standing there in the sunshine in Phoenix. We didn’t small talk—it was clear that he had just a minute before he had to leave. After he hugged me, he kept his hands on my shoulders for just a second and said, “I’m so proud of you. I’m SO proud of you.” I drank up the kindness of his words, so surprised by them. I bet I could tell you every word of our short conversation.

Because he spent his words wisely. He knew that his words would be important to me, and so in just a few minutes, he spent them. He recalled conversations we had more than ten years ago, about how I wanted to be a writer, but couldn’t hardly even say it out loud, for fear that someone like me could never do something like that.

He told me about friends of his who’d read my books and talked to him about it. And at the beginning and the end of the conversation, he looked straight at me and said these words: I’m so proud of you.

I think sometimes we shy away from words like this, because it’s awkward, or because we don’t want to make things all serious. We don’t say anything because we assume people don’t really care that much what we think, or because we don’t want to seem parental—doesn’t proud sound a little bit like you’re talking to a twelve year old?

Maybe it does. But the self-conscious twelve year old in me was absolutely thrilled to hear that someone I respected so deeply thought I was doing a good job. His words mattered to me.

Later that night, I was sitting with a friend, another writer. She was trying to make a hard decision, feeling a little bit pressured by her publisher. At one point, I said: “Listen: you’re an incredible writer.” I saw a look of shock on her face. “You know that, right? Don’t people tell you all the time that you’re a very, very special writer?”

“No one tells me that,” she said. “Are you crazy? No one says that.”

And I thought of my old friend, and our conversation earlier that day. His words were still ringing in my ears, making me smile every time I thought of them, like a twelve year old. I’m not in any way the impressive person he is, not by a long shot, but I wondered if my words could do the same thing in her that his words did in me.

So I looked right into her eyes and said, “Listen: you’re special. Your writing is important, and it changes people, and it’s changed me.  Your writing matters.”

And I knew by her face that I didn’t need to be famous in order for my words to be valuable to her. Words are valuable, and everyone needs to know that they’re loved, that someone’s proud of them, that someone sees the magic that makes them them.

So this is my challenge for you: use your words. Use them today. For someone you love, someone you’re proud of, someone who needs to know they matter…and everyone needs to know they matter.

Leave a comment here and tell us about someone—why you adore them, why you’re cheering them on…or post it on Insta or Twitter, and include their name & mine. Or just pick up the phone or knock on someone’s front door. Look them right in the eye and remind them: I’m proud of you. I’m cheering for you. I’m thankful for you. You’re special.

Use your words.

Stocking the Pond

By Posted in - Writing on January 13th, 2015 42 Comments

After I dropped Mac off at preschool this morning, I Skyped into my friend Jessica’s fifth grade class. They’re working on narrative writing and wanted to talk to a real live writer. They asked fantastic questions …

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Burn the Candles

By Posted in - General on January 5th, 2015 117 Comments

Happy New Year! I’m one of those people who loves resolutions. I make like a million a year. I make them in January. I make them on Tuesdays and in the summer, and in the …

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10 Christmas Favorites

By Posted in - Life on December 3rd, 2014 14 Comments

I really do love the Christmas season–how it pares things down to their essence: the God of the Universe coming to earth in skin, changing everything. I’m thankful for Advent–that our faith tradition makes space for …

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By Posted in - General on November 11th, 2014 28 Comments


You know, of course, that I’m trying to learn a new rhythm of living, that I’ve been inching my way into it for two years, that I’m writing a book about that fumbling process.

Let …

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Pumpkin Curry

By Posted in - General on October 21st, 2014 14 Comments IMG_5288


Oh, heavens, how long has it been since I’ve posted a recipe? I’ve been working on lots of new recipes, but they’re mostly for Savor–it has more than 20 recipes in it. And the …

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Using Technology to Connect

By Posted in - General on October 13th, 2014 19 Comments

As I’ve said before, I’m so not anti-technology—I love Instagram, & so much of my job involves the lovely wild odd world of the internet. At the same time, I’ve been having lots of conversations lately …

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SIMPLIFY Giveaway Winners!

By Posted in - General on August 21st, 2014 4 Comments

Congratulations to these twenty lucky people! The publishing team will send you an email soon to get your mailing address & then your book will be on its way…

1. Nancy Smith
2. Rhonda Roberts
3. Maggie Broderick
4. …

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By Posted in - General on May 20th, 2014 42 Comments

I just loaded up more than twenty bags and boxes for a garage sale this weekend—not mine, of course, because of all the things in the world I’m terrible at, running a garage sale …

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On Finding Your Passion

By Posted in - General on May 13th, 2014 29 Comments

Lately I’ve been speaking quite often on the topics of calling and passion, specifically as those topics relate to marriage and parenting and family—what it looks like to build space into a marriage and a …

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Mother’s Day video

By Posted in - Family on May 11th, 2014 3 Comments

Happy, happy, happy Mother’s Day! My very talented brother-in-law Eric made this short film to honor moms and all the women who nurture and influence and shape us. Isn’t it beautiful?

It’s been a full-to-bursting weekend …

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A Mother’s Day Book List

By Posted in - General on May 7th, 2014 40 Comments

Mother’s Day always makes me think of books—maybe because of all the things that are so very different about my mother and I, one way we’re absolutely one thousand percent the same is that …

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