Last Friday I shared five amazing women you need to know. This week I’m adding to that incredible list because I have found that there’s no shortage of amazing women that seek to encourage, inspire and cheer you on to your dreams. And you know what? We need them. Every one of us needs someone else to help us be strong. We live in a world that is constantly churning up the dark and I think it’s high time to start broadcasting the light. It’s there, and it’s BRIGHT. So today I want to introduce you to five amazing lights in my world.
1.Jody McNatt. This girl is pure gold. If there has ever been a sister to my heart more far from home, it is her. Watching her for years from the doorstep of her incredible online home, Even The Sparrow, I thought I knew her. Never would I have imagined how intimately woven both our stories and heartaches would be. God is so good. How He weaves us into one another’s lives to minister to each other’s hearts just by being wholly, unapologetically who we are. This girl is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Her thoughts and her words are rich, deep, gracious and kind. She writes from the most tender, raw places of her soul and I know you will be deeply touched, moved and inspired to live more fully into His word by walking with her. Her words and her devotions speak life.
2. Oh, this girl. Can you say fearless? Resilient? Determined? My friend Elisha is every one of those things. Elisha Joyce grew up on the island of Guam in a tiny shack with no running water but look at her now. Maybe you’ve seen her as an ambassador for the Frigidaire campaign, for her run on the NBC show: Food Fighters or on her charming blog, Rebel Grain. Could there be a more fun tagline? Faith guides. Love wins. Quinoa saves the day. I love it! And I love HER even more. This girl is the real deal. Every meal, every day, she was in the kitchen cooking for all of us with a servant’s heart. For many of us, the thought of cooking for twelve women every day over and over would be daunting. For Elisha, it’s her heartbeat. Meeting her is like coming home to a warm kitchen on a cold winter day and she’s already got dinner on and a fresh pot of ginger tea. She is as good for your soul as she is for your stomach. Connect with her on her blog or buy her book: The Quinoa Habit. One thing I’m sure: you will fall in love with her fast. (And want her to come make dinner.) (Every day.) (Forever.)
3. Meeting Francie Winslow was like no one I’ve ever met before. This girl is anointed. You can literally sense and feel the presence of God all over her. Never before have I met someone who sees so deeply into your soul, and is so connected with God that she knows how to pray with you and intercede for you in a way that you don’t even know how to do for yourself. They say we all have spiritual gifts, but I was never really certain the gift of prophecy truly existed until I met Francie. Now I know: it does. She wrote a small 10-week devotional book called The God Experience: A Ten Week Guide to Feed Your Busy Soul that I literally devoured because I desperately want what she has. The intimacy, connection and heart level transformation she has experienced is like nothing I’ve ever seen and I want it. It’s practical, simple and so, so good. I think she even might be giving it away for a short time on her blog. Here’s the link. Francie is an amazing, fresh and passionate voice speaking out on some really difficult, hard-hitting subjects like marriage and sex. I couldn’t begin to tackle the challenge of the calling set before her, but I cannot think of anyone more perfectly and humbly obedient for the task than she is. She’s got a fire in her tiny frame that comes directly from the inspired hand of God and I can’t wait to see how He uses her for His glory.
4. Ashley Larkin. Sigh. I don’t even know how to describe this amazing woman. As gifted as Francie is in prophecy, Ashley is gifted in loving people. You might say it’s the air she breathes. Before you even meet her she is eager to know you. And not just on the surface, but deep. The deep, intimate knowing that only the rarest people who truly, wholeheartedly, genuinely care dare to go. It’s a sacrificial, servant like love that I can’t even wrap around my selfish mind. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone so deeply tuned to the heartstrings of another. Ashley spends her soul caring for those who often live among us unseen. Unknown. The ones often standing on the sidelines. Before having children of her own, Ashley worked very closely with “at-risk” girls and she possesses the ability to not only see them, but to come alongside. It’s a rare person who walks out what she believes and Ashley’s passion to love people runs straight to the bone. Her blog is called Drawing Near and I definitely think you should do just that. She is love.
5. My friend Janis Kugler is gifted like no one else I know. Most of my friends are on the creative/emotional side of ministry, but Janis brings out the intellectual part of me in this arena that I’m not quite sure how to get to on my own. She’s the President of Facet Consulting Group, which seeks to help align all the different facets of ministry together into it’s beautiful whole. So often we forget about the important early stages of actually developing an idea before we launch it out into the big wide world and end up figuring it out as we go. What I love and admire so much about Janis is her ability to listen. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person so gifted in letting someone speak…and not jumping in to help, fix, advise or ask anything until they’re done. She listens. As long as it takes. And then in one fluid, mind-blowing sweep she has already grabbed onto the six essential pieces of a twenty minute dialogue and isolated the facts, issues, concerns and strategies to move it forward to the next place. Her gift is rare and beautiful and so badly needed in a world of so many ideas and very little substance. If you need help strategizing where God is calling you in your ministry, she’s like finding a precious diamond.
Oh. My heart aches missing these women. Each one of them took a piece of my heart away after our weekend together last month. I think the greatest takeaway God left me with in meeting each one of them was knowing how intimately He sees our need, and knows the deepest longings of our heart. We are often hurt in relationship, and it’s the exact same place He’s going to heal us. People. We need one another and we’ve got to be willing to open our hearts and our hands and let people in. For so many of you I’ve heard your stories. You’ve written to me via email or Facebook and told me how much you hurt. Where people have let you down. How you’ve been abandoned, betrayed and rejected. All I can ofter is me too. I know that pain and it hurts so badly. And honestly I fought really hard to protect myself for a lot of years. Finally, God got through to me in the very same way I was hurt.
Let these women – all ten so far, and more to come – be your starting point back into safety, security, restoration and hope. They are bearers of hope. There are amazing women in every country, in every state, in every city and town and they are as desperate for you as you are for them. Be open to see and you just might find what God’s holding out with you exactly in mind.
So much love to you this weekend sweet friends. You are loved. xoxo