Life is crazy and full and there never seems to be enough time. Far too often I spend way too much time on meaningless things and not enough time doing the things that really matter. The last few days have been filled with nothing. I don’t mean nothing in that we haven’t done anything (although that is true too), but really they’ve been blah on every level. Physically, emotionally, literally…everything is hazy. There is so much smoke in the air and apparently my lungs don’t like it one bit. So I’ve been housebound for nearly 48 hours as I try to stay inside, where there is relatively clean air to breathe. Sigh. Could you please pray for rain? The entire northwest is literally burning out of control. California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana are on fire and we’re beyond desperate for rain. The soaking, drenching, rain for days kind of rain. Jesus, send the rain.
It’s funny because I was on my knees praying earlier in the week for God to send the rain, when suddenly I realized I need it in my spirit just as much. Summer has been fast and fun and carefree but as I settle into quieter days I realize there are scattered pieces laying on parched ground. We’ve missed church. Quiet time. Fellowship with others on a similar life trajectory. As great as summer has been for getting disconnected from so many things, there are voices and people I really need to stay connected to in my life. What goes in eventually comes out, in one way or another, and we cannot underscore the importance of the people around us. Several years ago I made huge changes in my personal circles of influence. It was hard, and still is painful in some ways, but it was the right thing. I’m learning that sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same thing. Now our lives are surrounded by people who uplift, inspire and call us higher. But there are other voices that remain constant in my life that are just as available to you as they are me. These are the top five I stay connected to through study, podcast or books:
1.Beth Moore: Beth. Sigh. Just typing her name makes my heart smile, and inspires me to be a better person. A few of my close friends and I lovingly refer to her as Momma Beth, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. I talk as though I know her, but in so many ways I feel like I do! I am certain she knows me. Her voice, her words, her teaching and servant’s heart make me want to be a better version of who I am. This woman has been light and life and breath to me when I couldn’t find my own, and she has led me to want to follow after Jesus more with my life. Everything about her points to Jesus and she is, in every way, beautiful. She has way too many books to name, but my absolute favorites are: Breaking Free, and Whispers of Hope. They changed me. She is so beautiful.
2. Andy Stanley: For the last number of years Andy and his Your Move app has been my go-to podcast for my morning runs or weight workouts at the gym. Quite honestly, I think I’ve listened to every series he has online at least three times. Find him. I am certain you will fall in love with his honest, practical, humorous, no-nonsense teaching as much as I have. I just ordered his book: Enemies of the Heart. It looks amazing.
3. Brene Brown: There are no words to describe the influence this woman has had on my life. Her research, writing and speaking have impacted my life in ways I could probably never fully understand. She makes me feel like I’m not alone. Every thought, feeling, insecurity, shame or joy. She is single-handedly changing the conversation about vulnerability, shame and joy and I couldn’t be more grateful. All of her books are my favorite: I Thought it Was Just Me (but it isn’t), The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and I just started her newest book: Rising Strong. There is no other way to say this: Her books have changed my life.
4. Charlotte Gambill: This Englishwoman is an absolute firecracker and I completely fell in love with her the first time I heard her speak. I just finished her book The Miracle in the Middle and it was so good. But trust me, hearing her speak is even better! She is probably one of the most passionate and motivating women speakers I have ever heard. I feel like she’s living inside my head and has the courage and the ability to say everything I’m thinking – but in a way that wraps it fully and beautifully in scripture. Search her name in your podcasts and enjoy. I promise: she’s awesome.
5. Ann Voskamp: Whether it’s her writing, photos or simply the music playing on her blog, Ann brings peace to my soul. She talks about things that matter and places that need healing. And above and over everything she does as a wife, mother, daughter, farmwife, writer and friend, she reminds me to be grateful for we are blessed with One Thousand Gifts. Many days it’s her words or her striking images that resound in the corners of my mind encouraging me to reach for something more, while at the same time savoring what is.
Life is crazy and busy and sometimes we get off track with the things that matter most. But the voices we allow to influence our lives do matter and they will change us. It’s why it’s so important we choose them with intention. These are merely five incredible voices I listen to in a sea of powerful ones out there. Tell me: Who inspires you?
Happy Friday my friends. You are loved. xoxo