I am grateful to the many authors who have published before me and influence my writing. William Paul Young, author of The Shack, is one of those authors. I can remember the weekend that I read his first book, over a July 4th weekend in 2009. I finished reading it in two days, carrying it with me to the pool and gym, hardly able to put it down.

I was able to hear Mr. Young speak at a Forgiveness Nashville event recently. I learned more about the story behind the story of The Shack. His story was an intricate one, brilliantly told through weaving in multiple threads of his different stages of life and symbolically guiding the reader to spiritual healing, although in a subtle yet powerful way. When I heard Mr. Young share more of his story recently, I was both moved and inspired by his passion to forgive. He is a walking example of Living Loved and a model of how forgiveness is a valuable key to unlocking individual happiness. Feeling and living loved exuded from his being as he spoke.

While I grew up most comfortable thinking or doing versus feeling or being, I am grateful for the impact of authors like Mr. Young who have influenced my choice to spend more waking hours feeling and being today. Through writing the Gift of Goodbye, I have chosen to dig deep into my heart and now follow my greatest passions and desires, while decreasing my focus in areas that no longer fill my heart with joy. In Chapter 11 of The Gift of Goodbye, I describe an experience I shared with my mother, similar to the “Festival of Friends” in The Shack, a few days before she took her last breath. It was a moment in time not really worthy of explaining in words, one that felt in my heart like agape love, an expansive feeling of unconditional joy and love. The Shack was one of the foundations of my reading that enabled me to be open when the experience presented itself.

Hearing more about Mr. Young’s story has strengthened my beliefs in prioritizing living from a place of love and choosing forgiveness. I am grateful for his impact on my story and my writing. To learn more about what William Paul Young is up to now, visit