45 Stand-Out Women in The Bible {Part Two}

mirror reflection 2Recently, I shared the first half of a list of women in the Bible I admire and that I feel we can all be inspired by. I have loved putting these together and seeing how clearly God loves and values women; even when everyone else seemed to be against them, God was for them and gave them His strength. He does the same today.

I hope you feel a measure of encouragement from learning about these ordinary women empowered by extraordinary love. Here’s the second half of them:

Lydia– She was a merchant who sold purple cloth, something expensive and reserved for the wealthy and regal, so she had some wealth and reputation of her own. She was with a group of women by a river near Philippi when Paul and other missionaries came and began speaking to them; Lydia already worshipped God, but hearing about Jesus opened her heart even further to Him and she was baptized, along with her household. She opened her home to other believers, eventually housing a large amount of Philippi’s church. Obvious leadership capabilities and a welcoming nature lived in this woman. [Acts 16:14-15, 40]

Martha– Many of us know about Martha in the context of when she was distressed trying to prepare dinner for Jesus while her sister sat and listened to Him; she eventually asked Jesus to tell her sister to help with the work, to which he responded: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” We often hear this story used as an example of what not to do, and while it is incredibly important to hear His words to her in our own spirits (it’s one of the main verses I cling to in my life), we forget that she was distracted “with much serving.” Martha wasn’t doing something wrong (she served Him dinner again later without issue), she had simply lost focus and was seeking to please Jesus with her hands above her presence; we do the same, all the time. And later, we see that she must have heeded His words and spent more time being present with Him, because she and her siblings were friends of Jesus. When her brother died after they’d asked Him to come heal him, Martha didn’t shy away from Jesus; she confronted Him about how hurt she was, yet she also expressed faith in Him, not only to fix things, but to be the Savior. And her faith was met in both. I truly admire her. [Luke 10:38-42, John 11-12]

Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus)– She was the sister who sat at Jesus’ feet and eagerly listened to Him teach; Jesus affirmed to her that by doing this she had chosen the one thing she needed. When her brother died, she wept and was at home surrounded by others mourning until she heard that Jesus came and wanted to see her; she then approached Him and fell at His feet weeping, telling Him if He had come sooner her brother would have lived. Jesus was moved so deeply that He wept, too. And when He raised her brother to life, the people who had gathered to mourn with her saw it happen. Later Jesus had dinner with their family, and Mary anointed His feet with an expensive perfume and wiped it with her hair; some thought it wasteful, but Jesus praised her for it. The way we see Jesus interact with Mary shows how much He cares about our emotions; she was a passionate woman, but He didn’t ever give her reason to believe that she was too much for Him. He loved and validated her. [Luke 10:38-42, John 11, 12:1-8]

Mary (mother of Jesus)– Many of us know her story: how she was a young girl when an angel appeared to her and told her she was going to have a baby that would be the long-awaited Savior; how she responded with questions but willingness and trust even though it would jeopardize her reputation, especially since she was a betrothed virgin; how she braved a long journey late into her pregnancy and gave birth in a cave surrounded by animals; and how she fled with her family to a different country for a few years soon after. All of that is wild. What the Bible doesn’t go into detail about is the years of raising Jesus (along with the other children she later had). I’m sure it felt like a lot of pressure raising the Son of God on top of all the normal pressures a mother feels. And I can’t imagine how it felt to see Him be crucified, and to hear Him making sure she was taken care of even as He was dying. Mary wasn’t perfect, but she showed up, and it was enough for Him. She was even there when the apostles met to replace Judas after Jesus ascended– a normal girl who would have lived a quiet life, and instead all know her name. [Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, Acts 1:12-14]

Mary Magdalene– She became one of Jesus’ female disciples after He healed her of seven demons (I wish we had more of her history, but maybe it’s even better that all we know of her is her redemption!). She supported and accompanied Him, even when it meant being present at His crucifixion. She was also there when He was placed in the tomb. Some gospel accounts say a group of women was first to discover His empty tomb and share the news, but John says Mary was there alone. At first she wept at the tomb, thinking His body had been stolen. But He appeared to her and put her heart at ease, giving her the mission and gift of speaking of His resurrection and ascension. Her transformation and the way she was always looking to Jesus instead of behind her is so empowering to read. [Matthew 27:56-61, 28:1-10, Mark 15:40-47, 16:1-8, Luke 8:1-2, 24:1-10, John 19:25, 20:1-18]

Michal– She was the daughter of King Saul who fell in love with David and became his first wife. Admittedly, she grew to be problematic when she began hosting bitterness. But the fact that she helped David escape when Saul sought his life, and that she survived being captured and sent off to a new husband for a while by her manic father, shows us she was more than just a spoiled princess. [1 Samuel 18:20-29, 19:11-17, 25:44, 2 Samuel 3:13-14, 2 Chronicles 15:29]

Miriam– She was the daughter of Jochebed who helped preserve her baby brother Moses’ life during a massacre; she later led the people with Moses and Aaron when the Lord delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. She sang powerful songs of worship which are recorded in the Bible, and she was so respected by the people that they deeply mourned her death and listed her name in genealogies along with her brothers (which was not normal). A natural leader with an earnest heart, even when she made mistakes. [Exodus 2:4-8, 15:20-21, Numbers 12:1-15, 20:1, 26:57-59, 1 Chronicles 6:3, Micah 6:4]

Naomi– She and her family had left their home due to a famine, but both her husband and her sons died before they could return. She struggled deeply with bitterness, yet she still did not treat herself like a victim: she decided to go back home alone. But when her daughter-in-law Ruth refused to leave her side, Naomi took her in and did what she could as a widow to make sure Ruth was well– even to the point of helping her approach a man and get married again! She later helped care for Ruth’s baby. I like that she was no-nonsense but still deeply caring. [Ruth]

Persis– She’s very briefly mentioned in one of Paul’s letters, but we know she was important to the church when he calls her “dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord.” That’s a worthwhile sentence to have in your memory. [Romans 16:12]

Phoebe– She was a deaconess in the church in Corinth, known for her kindness and generosity. She was also the carrier of Paul’s letter to the Romans. I like to remember her when people speak negatively of women being in church leadership. [Romans 16:1]

Priscilla– She and her husband met Paul on one of his missionary journeys and ended up joining him; Paul later wrote that they’d risked their lives for him. They hosted a church in their home, and they also journeyed on their own. They once encountered a Jewish man named Apollos who was preaching in the synagogue but didn’t have all the information, so they privately spoke to him and explained what was missing, and he became adept at doing the same with other Jews. Because her name was often listed before her husband’s, it is believed she was a more prominent leader, but both were highly regarded in their maturity and wisdom. They set an awesome example for married believers. [Acts 18:2, 18, 24-26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19]

Puah and Shiphrah– These two were midwives in Egypt when Pharaoh began fearing the growth of the Hebrew population, and he ordered them to kill any Hebrew baby boys that were born. But these women believed in God and did not listen to the orders: they delivered both the baby boys and baby girls. When Pharaoh confronted them, they simply said the mothers had their babies before the midwives arrived. God saw what they had done and blessed them with their own families. [Exodus 1:15-21]

Rahab– She was a prostitute living in Jericho when the Israelites came to scout the land. Two scouts stayed at her house, but when the king learned about it he sent orders for her to release them; instead, she had hidden them under the brambles of her roof and told the king’s messengers that the men had gone, sending them on a pointless hunt elsewhere. But she was also frank with the men she had hidden, telling them everyone was terrified because they knew the Lord had given the land to Israel, and she made them promise to spare her entire extended family when the time came. They promised, and she helped them escape. When Jericho was destroyed, those same men made sure to rescue her and her family. She lived among the Israelites from then on and her family line continued through them– into the line of Jesus. She was kind, yet she was also ruthless in the best way, and God honored that in her. [Joshua 2, 6:17, 23-25, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25]

Ruth– After her husband died, Ruth was determined to stay by her mother-in-law Naomi’s side, even though it meant beginning life in a new city with no one to provide for them. She was active and sought opportunities to care for herself and Naomi, and ended up gleaning in fields owned by a kind man named Boaz; he took notice of her and continually blessed her with extra provisions and a seat at his own table, knowing her story and admiring her character. When Ruth told Naomi about him, it turned out that he was in line to be her kinsman redeemer (meaning he’d marry her to preserve her husband’s name since he was a relative). Ruth then approached Boaz and humbly yet boldly asked him to marry her. After Boaz went through the town elders to work out the complicated details, he joyfully married her; they had a son who would later be the grandfather of King David. I love Ruth’s forward-moving and optimistic way of approaching life, and the example she and Boaz set for healthy mutual submission. [Ruth]

Vashti– She’s barely mentioned, and she isn’t seen as a hero. But the one thing we know about her is that she was queen to King Xerxes, and when he drunkenly summoned her to appear before his party guests and show them her beauty (we can guess what that meant), she refused. She was banished for it, and these events led up to the search for a new queen, which is how Esther’s story begins. I just appreciate Vashti’s courageous and dignified response to the idea of being ogled, especially given how dangerous it was to respond that way. [Esther 1]

The woman at the well– She was at the well by herself, which is a clue to us that she was an outcast since there were particular times all the women drew water together. Furthermore, we know she had been married five times and that she wasn’t married to the man she was currently living with, because Jesus told her He knew those things. Add all of this to the fact that she was a Samaritan and Samaritans and Jews did not interact, and it helps us understand her (and the disciples’) amazement that Jesus was even talking to her, let alone having a conversation about the kingdom of God with her. And when she expressed faith in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus told her: “I am the Messiah!” Her response? She left her water jar, ran into the village, and started telling everyone about Him. Because of her testimony– which was obviously powerful, because the people listened to her despite her reputation– many Samaritans began to believe in Jesus and listened to Him themselves. Not only did Jesus love her well by showing her she was seen, but He also began restoring her life. [John 4]

The woman with the issue of blood– She had been bleeding constantly for twelve years when Jesus came to town. Because of cleanliness laws, she wasn’t even allowed in the main area of town: she lived on the outskirts with the other unclean people. So when she made her way through the crowds surrounding Jesus, not only was she taking a step of faith, but she was putting her life at risk. She finally reached Him and touched His hem– and, from then on, the bleeding stopped. And Jesus did something remarkable: amidst the crowd of people pressing in all around Him, He knew someone had intentionally touched Him and been healed, and He asked who it was. This woman, who had been apart from the rest of society for over a decade, was terrified. But she went to her knees in front of Him and told Him her story, and He blessed her for her faith. A humble woman with insane courage. [Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48]

The woman in Song of Solomon– I know she’s a semi-fictional woman written by Solomon, but I still appreciate what the story teaches us about romantic love and how God views and values it. And the fact that the female character is the main narrator of the story is unique and special. [Song of Solomon]

Super helpful resources I used to put this list together:


45 Stand-Out Women in The Bible {Part One}

I grew up feeling valued by the church, but valued differently. I was under the impression that my job as a woman was to help with the work men were doing for the kingdom. While helping others in their ministries is incredibly important and no one needs to feel like they’re bringing less value if that’s a role that fits them well, I have learned that women are not the only helpers in the kingdom, and men are not the only leaders; Jesus simply calls His followers. And those followers have always been both men and women, in various capacities.

DSC05067The past few years, I have absolutely loved reading the Bible and finding women who were bold in who they were, walking with strength and courage through the Holy Spirit. They convince me further and further how important women are to Jesus, and how He loves to see them glorify Him in innumerable ways.

Today, on International Women’s Day, I thought it would be fun to make a CliffsNotes-esque list of some of my favorite women in the Bible. These women and their stories are definitely inspiring and empowering for other women to read, but I want to make it clear that this isn’t a list I put together exclusively for women. It’s also important for men to be able to draw inspiration from stories about women. Everyone growing up in Sunday school, male or female, learned from stories about David, Moses, Daniel, and Paul; everyone can learn from stories about Deborah, Esther, Ruth, and Mary, too. When all are represented, all are accessible. I love that the Bible displays that truth.

Without further ado, here is the first half of some of my favorite stand-out women from the Bible:

Abigail– She was married to Nabal, a rich but selfish and thoughtless man who denied David’s request to allow him and his men to participate in a feast day while they were passing through Nabal’s land as they fled from King Saul. David was preparing to bring retribution, but when Abigail heard about what happened, she and her servants took abundant provisions to David and implored him to be a more noble man than her husband. Not only did she convince him to stand down, but when Nabal learned about it and died from shock, Abigail married David and later became a queen. I love how she wasn’t willing to make excuses for her husband; instead, she used the authority and respect she obviously had among their servants (who knew to go to her with the problem) to fix what he’d done. [1 Samuel 25, 27, 30; 2 Samuel 2:2]

Achsa– She was given to a man as his wife, but before going to live with him, she told her father to give her two springs along with the land he’d already given her. She was willing to vocalize what she wanted. [Joshua 15:16-19, Judges 1:11-15]

Anna– She was a widowed prophet who never left the temple, continuously worshipping and fasting. She met Jesus when He was a young boy and rejoiced over Him, knowing He was the fulfillment of what she had been waiting and praying for, and she proceeded to tell others who carried the same hope that their rescuer had come. Her hope was longstanding, and did not disappoint. [Luke 2:36-38]

Bathsheba– I know some might be weirded out to see her on this list, but honestly: if the king summoned you to his palace, would it cross your mind to refuse him? And if the king was as respected as David, would you suspect that he simply wanted to sleep with you? I don’t think she was to blame for what happened, and the Bible is pretty clear that both David and the Lord saw it that way, too. She mourned when she learned her husband was dead (David’s attempt to cover the affair up); she cared. After many years of being married to David, when he was an old man and one of his haughty sons had taken the throne without his knowledge, she (under the wisdom of the prophet Nathan, whom she seemed to have a good relationship with) approached David and reminded him of his promise to make their son Solomon king. And Solomon became the wisest king Israel ever had, which might be partly due to how she raised him. Bathsheba endured a lot of undeserved pain in her lifetime, but she didn’t live as a victim of those things. She is even mentioned in the genealogies of Jesus, to honor her. [2 Samuel 11, 1 Kings 1-2, Matthew 1]

Daughters of Zelophehad (Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah)– These five women were the only descendants of a man of the tribe of Manasseh; he had no sons and recently passed away, leaving his inheritance and his name to be forgotten. But they stood in front of the entire community– Moses, Eleazar the priest, tribe leaders, everyone– and petitioned for the right to be their father’s heirs. Moses brought their request to the Lord, and the Lord responded with a clear “yes.” They not only stood up to receive what was theirs, but they were the first to operate under the new law that allowed this to happen for other women in their situation. [Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11, 36:11, Joshua 17:3-6]

Deborah– She was a prophet and the only female judge (military leader) in Israel’s judge era. She, by word of the Lord, summoned the warrior Barak into battle, but he would not enter into battle unless she went with him; they had victory and the land was peaceful for forty years. The reverence and respect the people had for her is obvious. I also like that the fact she was married is mentioned, but isn’t a part of her identity or the value she brought; she had an additional calling apart from her marriage. [Judges 4-5]

Dorcas (or Tabitha)– Not a lot is said about her. But when the few words recorded about someone are that “she was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor,” that earns immediate admiration. People loved her so much that when she died and they found out Peter was in town, they begged him to help, and she was brought back to life. [Acts 9:36-41]

Elizabeth– She was the mother of John the Baptist, miraculously conceiving him in her old age, and that’s obviously cool. And when it came time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she didn’t lose her kindness, yet she was unwavering in the face of opposition to giving him the name the Lord declared he should have. But my favorite story we know about her is when she encouraged her cousin Mary about being pregnant with Jesus. Mary was young, unmarried, and, although willing, probably had a lot of fear about what was going to happen. But Elizabeth felt her baby leap at the presence of Mary’s baby, and, full of the Holy Spirit, spoke blessings over her and affirmed her. I also think it says a lot that Mary lived with Elizabeth for three months while pregnant with Jesus; it must have felt like a safe place. [Luke 1]

Esther (or Hadassah)– There is so much I could say about her; she’s one of the few women to have a book of the Bible named after her, and many of us know her story: how she was an orphan chosen among the captive Jews by the Persian king to be his new queen, discovered a plot to eradicate her people, and risked her own life to appear unannounced (i.e., unlawfully) before the king while he was with the man with the plot and plead for their lives– successfully. These events are still celebrated every Purim. Esther was a shining example of blooming where you’re planted, and of discerning when to be submissive and when to speak up. [Esther]

Eunice and Lois– These two are barely mentioned, but what we do know about them is beyond praiseworthy: they are Timothy’s mother and grandmother, who raised him with scripture, strengthening his faith as he grew up under an unbelieving father. They stepped up and refused to be passive about caring for Timothy in all ways. I can relate to Timothy in this so Eunice and Lois are obvious powerhouses to me. [2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15; Acts 16:1]

Hagar– She was Sarah’s servant, eventually given to Abraham because they hoped she could conceive a child for them. She did become pregnant, but being treated so poorly led her to run away into the wilderness– and God met her there beside a spring, encouraged her, and spoke promises over her. From then on she called Him “the God who sees me.” Later, after Hagar had returned but a few years later was sent away out of jealousy, she despaired once again in the wilderness, thinking her son was going to die, and the Lord once again met her there and promised to take care of her. They lived, and eventually she even arranged a marriage for her son; he became the father of the Ishmaelites. She just feels very tangible to me; she reminds me that even when I’m alone, I’m seen and cared for. [Genesis 16, 21]

Hannah– She was childless and achingly longed to be a mother, so she devoutly begged the Lord for a son, promising he would be dedicated to Him all his life. The priest Eli saw her praying and, thinking she was drunk, he rebuked her, but she graciously defended herself, and in response Eli blessed her prayer. She became hopeful, and soon she bore her son Samuel, who would become a favored and honored prophet and leader for decades upon decades; she kept her promise and he assisted Eli from boyhood. Her song of praise is wonderful, and her earnest, humble zeal for the Lord is, too. [1 Samuel 1-2]

Jael– When the commander of a Canaanite army fled to her tent because her husband was in good standing with the king, Jael welcomed him– then waited until he fell asleep, when she drove a tent peg through his skull and killed him. She handed him off to Israel, fulfilling Deborah’s words to Barak that the honor of the victory would go to a woman. This story is a bit strange and gruesome, but it’s interesting to see that she was willing to do what a lot of warriors had not done. Later a song calls her “most blessed among women.” [Judges 4:17-24,  5:24-27]

Jehosheba– The royal family was being massacred, but Jehosheba, sister of the recently deceased king and wife of the priest, took and hid away her brother’s baby and his nurse in the temple while the new wicked queen ruled. Six years later there was a revolt, and that baby, now seven-year-old Joash, became the youngest king to rule in Judah. He was a godly king and eventually restored the Temple. I love that Jehosheba was connected to people in power but knew her own power, and that it didn’t have to be over others but rather used for others. [2 Kings 11:1-3 , 2 Chronicles 22:10-12]

Joanna, Mary, Mary, Susanna, and Salome– These women are some of the named female disciples of Jesus. Many of them had been healed by Him, and some of them (such as Joanna) were married to men of influence and supported Jesus financially. They were also the first to go to Jesus’ tomb, intending to honor His body and instead finding it empty and meeting an angel who declared He was alive. They told everyone, including the eleven remaining disciples, what they’d seen. Not only did Jesus have female disciples, but He also had them be the first to deliver the news of His resurrection. Jesus honors and shares His glory with women. [Luke 8:1-3 , 24:1-12]

Jochebed– The Israelites were living in Egypt under a tyrannical ruler who feared their growing population and had begun a massacre of Hebrew baby boys, but Jochebed hid her baby, Moses. And when she could no longer hide him, she strategically placed him in a basket near where the princess would bathe along the river. The princess saw the baby, had compassion on him, and took him in, but she needed someone to nurse him. That was when Jochebed’s daughter approached the princess from the brush and offered to find a Hebrew woman to nurse him– and, of course, brought back his mother. Not only was Jochebed able to care for her son, but she preserved his life, and put him in a powerful position once he was weaned and the princess adopted him. [Exodus 2, Numbers 26:59]

Leah– She was Jacob’s first wife, given to him instead of her sister, whom he loved and worked an additional seven years to marry. But the Lord saw Leah in her situation, and blessed her with six sons. At first, Leah’s reaction to having children was, “Now Jacob will love me!” But Jacob’s affections didn’t change. Eventually Leah’s mindset changed, and when she had her fourth son, her reaction was: “Now I will praise the Lord!” And after having her last son, she viewed it as God’s reward and said that her husband would respect her; not necessarily love, but respect. We often tell her story in an attitude of “poor Leah,” and that’s definitely valid; her story is full of struggling against her favored sister for affection. But her story also contains her learning that she was valued beyond how people treated her, because the Lord loved her. [Genesis 29-31]

The second half of this list will be up soon! In the meantime, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite biblical women. Who stands out to you and why?

Soul Food

Soul Food {February 2018}

Normally, I count down to the end of winter because nothing seems to happen during it. But this month was full of events and experiences, both externally and internally. I’m learning a lot and taking steps forward that I’ve been afraid to take; it’s scary, yes, but it’s honestly beyond time I braved a greater extent of life. Here’s some of the art and media I’ve been taking with me.


  • “Clear Picture” by Montell Fish ft. CASS. I love when a song is a jam and full of uplifting truth at the same time. These two artists are some of my favorites in the indie Christian music scene right now, so I was excited to see they’d collaborated.
  • “Counting Sheep” by Shakey Graves. Happy to be hearing new things from him! This song is dreamy yet gritty and I love that he’s mastered that marriage.
  • “So Good to Me” by Cory Asbury. Something helpful and encouraging for me to play on repeat as I learn more about God’s goodness.
  • Johnny Cash’s version of “You Are My Sunshine.” For the cheesiest reasons. Although most of it is definitely a sad song, the guitar and the calm air are lovely.
  • “Good Now” and “I Forgot You” by Phangs. His new ep “Happy Season” came out this month and these two songs are my favorites from it (though the whole album’s concept is such a sweet one). Both are so lyrically on point for me; the first is wonderfully happy, the second wildly empowering in the most emotional way. And he injects such a good vibe into it all.
  • “Dance Forever” by Allstar Weekend. A no-shame high school jam I rediscover every once in a while.
  • The Hunts’ “Darlin’ Oh Darlin'” album. Tears came to my eyes after the first few notes, and I danced and smiled before I even knew what was happening. Listening to this album is like taking a retreat to the mountains and being filled with the assurance that everything will be okay. I am awed by it. I tried but I genuinely couldn’t pick favorites from it.
  • “Ralphie” by Post Animal. They announced a new album and tour for this year, and this single that came out with the announcement is a fun hint of what’s to come. We can always count on them to take us back to the 1970s. Not that I was there to begin with but still.
  • “Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves. Such a joyful and heartfelt song about unexpected love.
  • “Slide” by Chris Howland ft. Joey Jewish. Another lyrically solid jam.
  • “Kings and Queens” by Mat Kearney. This is his latest release from his upcoming album and I’m a bit obsessed with it at the moment; I got to see him play it in concert this month and he was wonderful. He’s still on tour (with Andrew Belle, whom I also love and was able to chat with!) if you want to check out if he’s coming to your city!
  • Cimorelli’s cover of “Now or Never.” Palpably passionate and makes me want to scream along.

If you want all of this music in one place, I have a playlist! It’s on Spotify and YouTube; I use it for the whole year, so scroll to the bottom to find the newest additions.


  • Worst Cooks in America. Ridiculous and probably over 80% staged but I crack up every week.
  • The Mentalist. We finished the final season this month, and I already miss spending my weekday evenings with the characters! I have to admit, the mid-season bombshell that was dropped in season six wasn’t what I expected and felt like a bit of a let down for a while, but I grew to accept it and see it was somewhat realistic, as even Jane had been surprised. And I love where the series went from there and getting to fall for some wonderful new characters. I’m glad I spent the time I did in this series.
  • Bullet journaling videos. If you’ve been keeping up with me the past few months, you’ll know that I love peeking into others’ journals and seeing their creative ways of formatting and decorating everything. This month I enjoyed Kristan Makl’s 2017 flip-through and Sarah Swan’s video on how she collages her spreads (I am obsessed with her style), among others.
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Inspiring, but not in a superficial way. I hear people talk about it like it’s a movie that says, “Go travel the world!” But I see it as a movie that encourages us to be who we are and do what we long to do despite the setbacks we face. Walter is a wildly relatable, tangible character and it’s special to see him learn that lesson.
  • Zozaleenie. I’ve only opted to get notifications from two of my YouTube subscriptions ever; Zoe is one of them. I cannot get enough of her content. She’s hilarious and so creatively artistic and I don’t know how she balances those things so well in her projects but I am into it.
  • Kids Baking Championship. I literally refer to it as “my kids.” Like, “Ooh, my kids are on tonight!” Maybe I have a problem? But they’re all so sweet and talented, and even though it’s a competition they’re always encouraging each other in their projects. We need to get on this level, adult world!


I’m reading five books right now but I haven’t completed any of them yet because I’m trying to take care of my brain and be gentle with myself. In the meantime, I’m on Goodreads if you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading (and see my full reviews once they exist).

What fed you this month?

Soul Food

Soul Food {January 2018}

The first month of this year was already better than pretty much any month of last year, so that’s a big thumbs up from me. I’ve really been focusing on what I tell myself and what thoughts I let live in my head; thoughts are physical things in our brains that we either plant, water, or remove, and they affect how we live and how we interact with the world around us. As a result of learning that, my media intake has become a bit more sparse as I’ve been growing a bit more picky about it. These were some things that made the cut.


  • Post Animal. I know I mentioned them last month, but I’ve still been listening to all their work pretty consistently. If a modern take on psychedelic 1970s rock sounds like your thing, you’ll love them. Some of my favorites include “Goggles” “Eel” “When I Get Home” and “You Were Not There.”
  • John Mayer’s “The Search for Everything” album. I’ve loved it since it came out last year, but this month it was something I listened to as a long lullaby as went to bed. The ones special to me lately are “Emoji of A Wave” “Theme from ‘The Search for Everything'” (I’m a sucker for a good instrumental interlude) and “Changing.”
  • “I Want U” by Joseph Tilley. Happy, fun, young vibes I can’t get enough of. I also like his song “Mad,” too, for similar reasons.
  • “Morning” “Scream So Loud” and “I Won’t Lie to You” by Francis and The Lights. They’re all about two minutes long (like most of the album) and for some reason that’s just magical. I love his sound and his simple but punchy lyricism. It makes me want to make more music myself.
  • “Jack and Jill, Pt.2” by The Gray Havens. So joyous and uplifting to me.
  • Joey Stamper’s medley of “Perfect” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I just need him to cover every song in existence, please, because he makes even the best songs better. His voice and his arrangements are simply incredible. And I love how seamless the medley is, down to the lyrics. Yes, yes, yes to every bit of this.
  • “Call It Home” by Jillian Edwards. Calm and sweeping and lovely.
  • Pretty much anything by Shakey Graves, but his iconic Audiotree session might be my favorite (though there’s an unsavory word in one song, if that bothers you). Every performance of his is a different take on his songs, so he just never gets old and his whole-heartedness continually shines. By the way, he just announced that he’s releasing a new album for the first time in four years!

If you want all of this music in a playlist, I already made it! It’s on Spotify and YouTube.


  • Esmee Heebing’s 2017 bullet journal flip-through. I love seeing inside other people’s journals and getting inspiration for my own. Her style is so lovely and fun.
  • You’ve Got Mail. The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan rom-com we deserved.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m not a hardcore Star Wars person so I don’t have a strong opinion about it in that sense, but I liked it! It was a really enjoyable movie experience and I thought it had a lot to offer.
  • Beat Bobby Flay. Am I saying it’s great? Not really. But did I watch it for hours and die laughing as we made absurd jokes about it? Oh, yes.
  • The Greatest Showman. The soundtrack is so so good and the visuals are colorful and gorgeous. The plot is pretty basic, but it’s still entertaining and definitely worth seeing. Hugh Jackman can adopt me.
  • The Spider-Man: Homecoming panel at ACE Comic Con with Tom Holland, Laura Harrier, and Jacob Batalon. I’ve missed getting new interviews with them! Watching this felt like a reunion with my friends.
  • The Office. A season and a half in one afternoon. So bad but so good.
  • Continued watching The Good Doctor and The Mentalist regularly.


  • The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup. A cute concept and story. I wasn’t incredibly engaged, but I think it was just due to the fact that it’s meant for younger readers (ages 7-10, which I didn’t notice was clearly stated on the back, oops). This would be a fun book to read as a family.
  • The 21 Day Brain Detox program by Dr. Caroline Leaf. There was a toxic, painful thought that had been lingering in me for far too long. I wanted it out, but I just felt too haunted by it and tied to it. This program my grandma and aunt recommended and sent to me was such a helpful, eye-opening process to go through. I don’t feel haunted anymore, and that honestly is something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say. I am so grateful to be transformed by His mercy and the renewing of my mind.

I’m on Goodreads if you want full reviews and bookish updates from me.

What has been feeding you lately?

Life as a Wind Rider

Hopes I Lived in 2017 {Part Two}

I write lists of things to look forward to as a way of keeping hope and a spirit of anticipation strong in me. This year alone, I got to live in ninety-two of those things. I shared the first half last week; here’s the second.

Celebrating graduationsgraduated children!!!

My freshman class from college graduated in May. Although it did feel strange to know I wasn’t sharing in the experience, my pride in the growth and accomplishments of my dear friends was the most overwhelming part of it all. I was bursting for them.

Writing about some of the big things | Finding new things to write about | Writing poems that express what I want them to

A lot of my writing this year has stayed private, more than it has in many years. Things were confusing and tumultuous, and often I didn’t feel like I had the authority to speak even if I did possibly have something to share. But I still wrote often in my journals and to my close friends. I write a poem every evening, too, which helps me exercise the muscle as well as express feelings or thoughts still lingering at the end of the day, and that was so good for me this year.

On the blog it was a bit quiet apart from my monthly media roundups, but I did talk about Jesus’ heart for refugeesthe role of generosity in lovethe nature of submission being about choicethe mixed feelings that come with being in recoverythe importance of an awake church, and the difficult but vital work of discerning God’s voice from others.

Seeing friendships grow deeper | Meeting people who will be significant parts of my story | Becoming friends with people I didn’t expect to | Rekindling friendships that became distant | Hugging people I love | Having conversations that make me laugh every time I remember them later

I love my people. I spent much of this year slightly isolated, so I’ve learned to treasure time with them even more than I did already and to seek out more of it. You all hopefully know who you are; I love you. Thank you for holding me up when it felt like I couldn’t stand anymore.

Playing with puppies | Holding adorable little animals

I got to meet (and be lavishly kissed by) my Uncle Terry’s puppy earlier this year. I also got to hold a bunch of tiny Siamese kittens at Kandy’s house, which was an absolute dream. And of course I held my own sweet animals, too. And (consensually) pet various dogs and cats I came across.

Driving in tree-filled areas during the fallpark trees (1)

I tried a new counseling office this year, and while that definitely did not work out, it was in the heart of a beautiful campus and I went in the middle of autumn. The drives ended up being better for me than the sessions I was driving to, and eventually I realized maybe that was a clue to what I actually needed.

Running into people randomly at the store | Randomly running into my professors

I love unplanned reunions and how they automatically become the highlight of the day for me.

Giving and receiving words of love on our message board

My mom writes a little note every morning before leaving for work. I love her.

Watching it snowwith snow tree

We started the year with a few inches of snow in Oregon. I’m not the biggest fan of winter so seeing snow is a redeeming quality.

Watching sunrises and sunsetsBeFunky Collage

A beautiful sky can genuinely turn a hard day around for me. One particular memory of a sunrise this year was in the winter, when my grandma and I were driving along the coast and the sky was full of color even after nine in the morning

Smelling roses and other wonderful smells | Having scents for my candle warmer that don’t make me feel sick

I can be sensitive to smell sometimes because of my anxiety disorder, so pleasant smells are a nice mood-lifter. I found a few wax melts with scents that don’t overwhelm me and now I can make my room smell nice any time I need to.

Attending the weddings of dear friendsBeFunky Collage

Two of my close friends got married this year! Katie got married in March (I got to see her at her home-state reception a month later, which was such a gift), and Cooper got married in September, both of them to wonderful and sweet people. Seeing people I love so much find their people is wildly uplifting.

Feeling noticed in the best way

Jesus romanced me so well this year, even when I was afraid and closed off. His love is so good. Dream-like.

Starting an Etsy shop | Making more quote signs | Giving my art to more people | Making greeting cards for friendslogo

I opened Tessa Maye Makes Things this year! Was it successful? To be frank: no. I didn’t make any sales through Etsy. But did it teach me to focus on what I like to make versus what I think I have to make? And did I learn a few new skills in starting a business? And did my mom and my grandma commission me more than once to support me? And did I make an effort to do the work my hands found to do? Yes. A hearty yes. For the time being, my art is best spread freely to the people in my life. Maybe someday, it will be the right time to spread it further.

Drinking hot cocoa | Drinking strawberry lemonade | Having mango flavored things

Some of my favorite beverages across the seasons (though I drink them all year round).

Praying with people

The isolation I lived in this year led me to pray with (and, more accurately, ask for prayer from) my family much more than I used to, and that’s a way God has already redeemed it before my eyes.

Having solid interactions with kind strangers | Observing the quirks of others

Genuinely some of my favorite things about life! I love making friends, even if it’s only for a day and we have one conversation. People are just amazing. I am blown away by how different yet akin we all are the more I keep looking at us and learning.

Exploring quirky shops

In the fall I had an hour long gap between meetings, so I’d walk through a shop in the neighborhood that had the weirdest, most random and creative things for sale. I never bought anything, but it was always fun to peruse and see what they had that week.

Having spontaneous dance parties

This is basically every day for me. But to be honest, what I’m really looking forward to is having a family that does things like dance around in the kitchen while we’re making dinner.

Having a cat that likes being a sweet companionsweet dusty headrub

I’ve had my cat for over thirteen years, but in most of that time she’s been aloof and mean. This has been such a good year for her personality softening and opening up to more to us; she’s been wanting to come in the house and take naps, and she lets me hold her and cuddle her for a few minutes at a time. I just love feeling her soft little body rest against mine.

Baking and decorating a lovely cake | Making food for people | Getting food with people in the middle of the night18034120_10208373454325638_5784276408660015306_n

I made a carrot cake this spring and it turned out great– apart from the buttercream flowers I attempted to make with my scratch frosting that was truly just colorful butter. I happened to mention the cake to Rachel when we ran into each other at an event, and in less than a minute we decided she was coming over that night to help me eat it.

Having a simple breakfast with people I love

For some reason sharing breakfast just feels more intimate to me than the other meals. I got to have many little breakfasts with my grandma during our back-and-forth visits as she works on moving into the neighborhood. I’m so excited to have her closer.

Happening upon street artSierra's art day

This is always a fun little surprise and it did happen to me this year, but one time it took an especially unique form: Sierra was creating street art and I, Johnny, and Jenessa got to keep her company as she did it. So many laughs, oh my goodness.

Owning sweatpants

It might seem like a small thing, but I’m telling you: game changer.

Reaching one year porn-free

I’m currently eighteen months porn-free. Recovery is such a weird process to be in, but I am so grateful to be in it and to be walking in this freedom. The temptation hasn’t gone away and neither have some of the effects; sometimes I’m still shocked by nightmares and impulses that show up. But my heart is healed and I know that. And I am fully loved, just as I always have been. I know that, too.

If you want to read or use the lists where I recorded these hopes (among others), you can find them here, here, and here. Coming up with them helps me, but I’m finding that doing intakes like this yearly might be an even more helpful exercise. It’s the dose of perspective and optimism I need walking into a new year. I encourage you to start your own lists if this was any form of comfort to you today.

Your life is so big, and your Father gives good gifts. Be ready to welcome them.

Soul Food

Soul Food {December 2017}

This tweet pretty much sums it up: scooter to the ankle

What a wild year. I’m walking into 2018 hopeful about seeing the redemption and rest that will come from all that happened in 2017. That being said, this year also held a lot of good and brought many joys. I’ve been sharing some of the art and media that pointed me to that good every month, and I hope these posts have been bringing some good into your life, too. Here’s the last one of the year.


  • My Christmas playlist. Like, almost exclusively. I don’t want to encourage you to listen to Christmas music outside the proper season, but you could save the playlist for next year, right? It’s on YouTube and Spotify. You do you. I trust you…
  • “WAYD” by Rusty Clanton. There’s something so sweet and nostalgic yet mature in it. I had it on repeat all day the first time I heard it.
  • “Windows Down” by Big Time Rush. Because my brother posted a photo of them as a joke but it reminded me they had some jams.
  • Post Animal. I’m obsessed with their 70s-inspired psychedelic rock vibe, how they take something classic yet make it uniquely their own. I’ve been listening to their entire catalogue over and over.
  • “Talk:Listen” by Zealyn. So beautiful and moody. I had a sudden burst of memory from a few years ago when she was on American Idol, so I decided to see what she was up to and was so pleased to find such lovely things.

If you want all this music (aside from the Christmas stuff) in one place, I have a playlist! I’ve been compiling it all year with my monthly favorites, and I love how it’s turned out. You can find it on both YouTube and Spotify.


  • Actors on Actors interviews from Variety. I love getting to eavesdrop on such unique and intelligent conversations. Recent favorites include Jeff Bridges and Matthew McConaugheyGal Gadot and Kumail Nanjiani, Millie Bobby Brown and Evan Rachel Wood, and Hugh Jackman and Willem Dafoe; they all have great connections and obvious reverence for one another, and it’s just so nice to see, even if some of the topics go over my non-industry head.
  • The Little Princess. Shirley Temple is eternally lovely and this classic, wonderful story still shines.
  • Stowaway. Another Shirley Temple film I watched while visiting my grandma.
  • Many, many Hallmark Christmas movies. I don’t even care that the plot is always the same, I can appreciate movies that do not at all remind me of real life and let me escape into a cheesy love story for a little while.
  • My favorite Christmas movies. Jingle All The Way makes up half of my daily vocabulary, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town is just so cozy for me, and Eloise at Christmastime is one of my favorite Christmas love stories.
  • Joe Keery interviews. I just love him; I feel like we’d be good friends. Favorites include this one in which he and Gaten Matarazzo give advice to strangers, this one in which he just has an interesting conversation (I haven’t watched Stranger Things because I’m a baby but he makes things fun regardless), this one in which he makes a talk show appearance and shares some funny stories, and this one in which he plays Dungeons and Dragons between questions.
  • Good Mythical Morning with Jack Black as a guest. They played a game I need to figure out how to play with my friends, and they also remixed Christmas songs. But I’m pretty sure these three guys together would be absolutely hilarious doing anything.
  • Castle in The Sky. I saw the first little bit of this movie when I was in grade school, but I didn’t get to finish it. My mom knew I’d always wondered how it ended so she found it for me for Christmas! We watched it together along with my brother and enjoyed the fun, interesting, fantasy-laced story.
  • Thor: Ragnarok. Such a blast to watch! I love Marvel movies period, but it’s nice to see one not take itself too seriously and still be engaging and cool.
  • I continued watching The Good Doctor, Designated Survivor (both currently on winter breaks), and The Mentalist (I’m on season six and it’s gotten real).


  • Messenger by Lois Lowry. Not my favorite installment of The Giver series; it was just a bit messy and didn’t explain things well enough for me. However–
  • Son, also by Lois Lowry, was so good. Claire is a loveable, strong character in every circumstance she winds up in and I was always rooting for her. It was interesting to see familiar territory through her unique perspective, as well as explore some new things. Not only did the book give explanations and closure I needed from the series, it was also just a good story.

I’m on Goodreads if you want to see full reviews from me and keep up with my reading progress.

What fed you this month? This year?

Life as a Wind Rider

Hopes I Lived in 2017 {Part One}

I started writing a list of things to look forward to when I was nineteen. I was a year through college, realizing that I didn’t like what my life looked like, and battling the terrible thought that maybe my life wasn’t going to be worth living if it couldn’t hold my hopes and see them through into reality.

But I became determined to keep living, and to believe that God had true life in store for me. Instead of fearing that my hopes would never come to pass, I started writing them down under the title: “Things to Look Forward To.”

A lot has changed since then; a bit hasn’t. But hopes keep existing in me. And I keep doing my best to give audience to them rather than to my fears. And the list? It’s grown to be over three hundred items long, and I got to live ninety-two of those items this year alone.

Dreams are for life. For my life and yours.

We get to keep living. We get to see that God really does give good gifts, even when we don’t yet understand how they’ll arrive.

I do these intakes yearly as a reminder for myself, and for you if you need it. Without further ado: here is the first half of the hopes I got to live this year.

Developing photos and scrapbooking them | Filling more journalsDSC00457

I’m notoriously bad at printing out my photos (in other words: I’ve had the same camera for nine years and haven’t developed anything, ever). But this year I took up a more creative approach to my daily journal and started recording the highlights/main events of every month, and it felt natural to add photos to those pages. Now I just print out a few favorites at the end of the month and stick them in as a more relaxed scrapbook; it works well for me, since my journal already hosts everything else.

Watching fireworks

My family lives on a lake and we get to watch the fireworks show every Fourth of July from our backyard barbeque. My grandma was with us this year, so that was extra special.

Reading more books | Reading more fairytales | Becoming a good bookworm again

I used to think that I was a slow reader– then I started reading books I actually enjoyed. Giving myself permission to stop reading books I wasn’t getting anything from was a great decision and allowed me to read some fantastic stories this year. Goodreads kept track of them all for me if you’re interested in seeing more of my thoughts on them; the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness and Eve by Wm. Paul Young were powerful favorites.

Writing lyrics again | Learning an instrument | Putting my lyrics to music | Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur inrandom piano

Music is the thing for me, even if I don’t always act like it; I think knowing how important a role it plays for me has made it feel almost too pure to pursue, if that makes sense. I’m really going to work on pushing through that hesitancy in 2018. However, I’m not going to let what I haven’t done keep me from being in awe of what I have done. Watching clips I’ve taken of my piano practice from early in the year and comparing them to what I can do now gives me a rush of happiness. I started to add very simple piano backing to some of my lyrics, too; I can’t wait for my skill in that to grow. I know I’ll get there. It’s the thing for me.

Going to more concerts | Seeing Colony House | Owning more band merchandiseDSC09748

I got to my see my absolute favorite band this year, and it’s hard to explain how that feels; when they started playing the first song, a sound came out of me that was half laughter and half sobbing. If you ever get a chance to see Colony House (or whoever your favorite artist might be), do it. Huge thank you to my mom for making the trip with me and to Karen for letting us stay with her while we were in town.

I also got to see Switchfoot, Relient K, Andy Mineo, MercyMe, Jordan Feliz, and Matthew West this year. Mostly old favorites, which was unplanned but nice.

Seeing meaningful new movies | Seeing my favorite actors in great new movies | Seeing new Marvel moviesspiderman with rachel

My interest in film has grown quite a bit and I’ve stretched myself in terms of the kinds of movies I see, which has been overall very rewarding! I finally watched Interstellar (so good, wow!), Arrival (surprising; I might need to rewatch it), The Sixth Sense (fantastic), and Guardians of The Galaxy (I felt like a fake Marvel fan for waiting this long to see it), among other films I’d somehow avoided. As far as new ones go…

La La Land was wonderful and so was my beloved Emma Stone; Hidden Figures was delightful, inspiring, and important; Hacksaw Ridge was one of the most powerful films I’ve watched in my lifetime and made me so proud of Andrew Garfield; War for The Planet of The Apes was incredible (as is the whole trilogy) and Andy Serkis is a powerhouse of an actor; Doctor Strange was such an awesome, interesting piece of the Marvel universe; Wonder Woman was cool, and reminded me that femininity and strength are not mutually exclusive but rather are intertwined; the fifth installment of Pirates of The Caribbean was engaging and introduced me to the wonderful Brenton Thwaites; Collateral Beauty wrecked me; Thor: Ragnarok was super fun; and, yes– Spider-Man: Homecoming made me so ridiculously giddy (I saw it in the theater more than once, which is not something I ever do) and Tom Holland is one of my favorite people.

Watching movies with dear friends | Receiving a bouquet of flowers | Having flowers in the houseflowers from brandon and meigan

Meigan, Brandon, and Josh came over to watch a movie over the summer and brought flowers for me; my friends are the best and love me so well. Josh and Rachel have come over for movies a few other times, too, and Sierra and I spent a lovely evening together watching La La Land for the first time.

Getting better at painting | Learning new ways to make things | Making art that gets me excited when I finish it | Spending more time in my sketchbookrandom art

Discovering through practice is one of my favorite ways to grow. I really enjoy creating without pressure, and having a random sketchbook that I’m not afraid to mess up in or throw random scraps into has helped me do that a bit more.

Going to more baby showers

My sweet friend Kayla is having her second little boy soon and I loved being able to celebrate and anticipate with her.

Going on a road trip | Seeing a real castle | Taking walks in new places | Sitting by the lake in the summer | Dangling my feet over a dock for a calm while | Staying in hotelsBeFunky Collage

This summer I got to visit Port Townsend, Washington with my family. Such a fun trip, featuring my first ferry ride, walks in town and inside the Manresa castle, game nights with cry-laughs, a giant stairway leading to nowhere, street cats, chats on the docks, and a lot of beautiful things to see.

Hiking a calm little forest trailhiking with mom

My mom and I went to a local butte she’d never hiked before. A lovely summer morning.

Visiting the coast againfamily trail walk

My grandma lives on the coast right now so I got to see it a few times with her, including Easter weekend when we stayed with her. We often walk a particular trail and I feel a strange partial ownership of it now.

Getting letters from people I love | Writing letters | Getting packages in the mail

My dear sweet Katie still sends me letters, no matter where she is. I love having that correspondence with her and knowing we’re still touching the same things even when we’re on opposite sides of the country. She even sent me a Christmas package!

Discovering more musicians I’ll cherish forever | Unexpectedly hearing songs that bring me to the most beautiful place of nostalgiawith only the lonely

So many wonderful musicians out there creating such meaningful things. I’ve been compiling a playlist all year long, and ended up listening to it probably almost daily. Notable new finds for me this year were Kina Grannis, Phangs, Ed Sheeran (definitely not new, but new to me), John Mayer (ditto), Knox Hamilton, Isla Roe, Francis and The Lights, LANY, and Post Animal. Plus, old favorites like Colony House, Pen Pals, Good Old War, Nick Voelker, and Andrew Belle released new work!

Exploring art galleries | Seeing my best friend again and going on a random adventure with her | Drinking bubble teabirthday museum visit with Sierra

Sierra gifted me one of the best afternoons of the year for my birthday. She took me to the art museum on her university campus, taught me about the Barberini tapestries we saw there, led me on an autumn walk, bought me bubble tea, and was the listening ear I needed. Such a good time.

Being reunited with college family | Wearing more pretty dresses | Wearing red lipstick | Taking adorable and/or dorky photos in a photo booth with loved onessenior banquet all 3

Some of my best friends were seniors in college this year, and Meigan invited me to her senior banquet. Brandon was nice enough to share his date with me (haha) and I had a lovely time with them and the other friends I got to catch up with there.

Also, I’d never worn red lipstick before this year and I think it’s so fun!

Flying in a plane | Traveling to places different from where I liveDSC01408

I definitely did not expect to embark on my first ever flight this year, but my Aunt Cheri invited my grandma and I to visit her this summer, so we did! I can’t tell you how many times I googled “can I pack _______ in a carry on” before we left. I was nervous, but it ended up being relatively painless. And being up in the sky… insane. The world is so big and I forget that sometimes; it’s such a comfort.

My aunt lives in a city unlike the ones I’m used to, and I was grateful she took us exploring during our stay. But I have to say: our backyard meals and movie marathons and laughs were just as fun as the “bigger” adventures.

Having painting parties | Having craft days with friends | Painting/carving pumpkinsDSC02225

Meigan, Ariel, and Rachel came over near my birthday to paint mini pumpkins with me. I so enjoyed the company and seeing everyone’s unique brand of creativity.

Next week I will share the second half of the hopes I lived in 2017. If you want to read or use my “looking forward to” lists, you can find them here, here, and here. I encourage you to write your own if you think there’s any possibility it might bring some hope into your life.

Your dreams? They’re made for you to touch.

Take heart, and enter the next year with hope.