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 {January 2017}

The first month of the year brought some wonderful new media my way. Let’s talk about it!


  • Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” album. I’ve loved Coldplay for years but never actually owned one of their albums, so owning this one now is special. Such rich and layered songwriting with sweeping melodies. I love pretty much every song on it, but this month “Lovers in Japan” really spoke to me. “They are turning my head out, to see what I’m all about; keeping my head down to see what it feels like now. But I have no doubt: one day we’re gonna get out…”
  • “Magic” by Thomas Gold ft. Jillian Edwards. Jillian is one of my musical inspirations, so to see her collaborate with a DJ was especially cool to me; it reminded me of how limitless the possibilities are for artists. Plus, what a great jam.
  • “Why Georgia” by John Mayer. There’s just something about it. “Four more exits to my apartment, but I am tempted to keep the car in drive, and leave it all behind…” I was led to this song by a lovely John Mayer acapella medley, also worth checking out. When they hit those harmonies on “hearrrrrtbreaaaak…”
  • “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” also by John Mayer. New and incredible, laced with emotions. “Parts of me were made by you…” His entire new ep is great.
  • Kenzie Nimmo’s cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe” (ft. Harris Heller). So calm and melancholy, with beautiful voices. Love it.
  • “The Perfect Parts” by Shakey Graves. I’ve had this album for like two years but I still go back to it and find more to like about it. Story-telling and solid jams. The Audiotree session of this song is great, too. My dad and I listened and gushed.
  • Colony House’s “Only The Lonely” album. They are my boys, and I am elated to have new music from them. They go a bit more retro rock-n-roll on this one, but I’m into it. And lyrically? Masterful and soul-reaching. My favorites are “Where Your Father’s Been” “You & I” “You Know It” “3:20” and “Cannot Do This Alone.” I think I just named half of the track list but it’s fine.
  • “Ocean Eyes (Blackbear Remix)” by Billie Eilish. Beautiful, emotional, with cool beat-driven moments. I can’t listen to it just once.
  • “Vibes Vibes Vibes” (ft. Aha Gazelle and Chris Durso), “Usual Suspects” (ft. Willow Stephens), “Time 4 That” and “Extra Wavy” by Social Club Misfits. I’m always kind of torn about these guys. The tracks they produce are super fun and get me hyped up, but lyrically it’s almost all reminiscent of a messy humblebrag. I’ve been listening to their new album trying to figure out if I like it; I’m still not sure. But these songs are the ones I end up enjoying in the midst of that conflict.
  • “Hold On” by Jet. This song is in Spider-Man 2 and hit a sweet spot in me the last time I watched it.

If you want to listen to all these songs in one place, I’ve made a playlist! It’s on YouTube and on Spotify (neither are complete, which bothers me, but I had to work with what was available).


  • Pete’s Dragon (the 2016 version). I had no expectations for it, but it was lovely and magic-filled. I loved the gentle and soft yet powerful design of Eliot.
  • The Joy of Painting. I grew up with Bob Ross’ art; my grandparents were both certified instructors of his and taught classes in oil painting, and we have many of their pieces hanging in our house. I feel such an affection for him and his work. This month, watching episodes of his show was an accidental daily thing for me, so I decided to make it a purposeful routine. Every season is on this YouTube channel in playlists; I’m on season one right now. I love his positivity and how deeply he appreciates everything. He truly created his own world. Plus I just enjoy the solid painting advice. “You have the fun; let the brush do the work.”
  • This bullet journal flip-through. Though I don’t follow a bullet journal format, this inspired me to try out some more creative ideas in my own journal.
  • “Amy Adams & Andrew Garfield – Actors on Actors.” Two wonderful people (Andrew is one of my absolute favorites) sharing such interesting thoughts. I want to sit in on their conversations for hours.
  • Bull. It gives me a few vibes like The Mentalist did, in a courtroom instead of a police station. Though no character comes close to Patrick Jane or his crew.
  • This video about a man who paints without his sight. Stunning and inspiring.
  • George of The Jungle. My ridiculous favorite. “Thor! Are you arguing with the narrator?!”
  • “OMG We’re Coming Over!” I was obsessed with interior design shows when I was little, and watching this cute couple continue on that legacy with their series makes my heart happy.
  • Spider-Man (the 2002 version), Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3. My ever-present Spider-Man love has been extra powerful lately, so watching the films that started it all for me was almost necessary.
  • Captain America: Civil War. Because Spider-Man.
  • Continued watching Scorpion and The Mentalist regularly.


  • “In Which I Write a Letter to Women’s Ministry” by Sarah Bessey. Spot. On.
  • Jesus Outside The Lines by Scott Sauls… and I didn’t like it. Which was so disappointing, because I thought I would find such a life-speaking voice in it. I wrote a full review on Goodreads if you want specifics.
  • Quite a few Andrew Garfield interviews, because his spiritual journey was making me giddy. His interview with The New York Times is a stand-out.
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I wanted to read it purely because Wells was such a gem in Poe Party, but I ended up really liking it! Engaging and interesting, just the right amount of sci-fi for me.
  • “Have We Overplayed the Sermon Card?” by Wayne Jacobson. A hearty yes to this.
  • “The Phenomenon of The Dones” also by Wayne Jacobson. I have been aching to hear someone say these words for such a long time. So grateful for this and what it spoke into me. If you know me personally and we’ve talked about church-going before, I’d love for you to read this; it articulates everything I’ve wanted to and more.
  • The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. Sometimes, a book looks you in the face and tells you what it sees in the depths of you. It shows you things inside you that you’d suppressed for so long you weren’t even aware they were living in you anymore. And once it does that, it tells you– you have the capacity to live abundantly even with those things. You are broken, and you are loved for it. Life changing book. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • “Nobody Wants To Be a Refugee” by Ben Stiller. Nails it. “Compassion and security are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing.”

What’s been feeding you lately?

Soul Food

Soul Food {February 2016}

This month was wild in a lot of ways. It was good, but I am ready for something new. You’ll see in these lists a lot of the diverse things that I needed to hear and know.

But first, a quick announcement! A few people have asked me about where they can find the music I’m listening to on a regular basis. These monthly lists are the best way to do that, but I share individual links because I’m aware my taste is all over the place and that not all of it will be everyone’s cuppa (which is totally cool). I wanted to make it easier for you if you want to listen to all of the songs without having to click on each individual link, so I’ve started a YouTube playlist of the music recommendations I make in Soul Food each month. You can find it right here!


  • This instrumental medley of “Wildest Dreams” and “Bad Blood.” Absolutely stunning. This is what I want the soundtrack of my life to sound like.
  • Rusty Clanton’s cover of “Neptune.” The mood he brings to all his music is lovely, and this one is a bit more on the thoughtful, haunting side of things. I always enjoy seeing something new from him.
  • “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” by Coldplay. Everyone talking about Coldplay made me remember how much I adore them. This song brings me into my joys and hopes, as so many of their songs do.
  • “You and Me” by Ben Rector. The vibe is happy, the lyrics are bittersweet, and I love all of it. I needed it with me.
  • Tenth Avenue North’s “Cathedrals” album. This album expresses truths and provokes thoughts for me like very few albums have before. I am so grateful for it. My favorite songs on it are “I Need You, I Love You, I Want You” “Heaven’s Sound” and “We Won’t Numb The Pain.”
  • “Slow Motion” by Matt Wertz. I’m a longtime fan of his, and the way his sound has evolved into this chill groove is totally okay with me. Had his new single on repeat the entire day it released.
  • “Never Forget You” by Zara Larsson and MNEK. I accidentally listened to the wrong radio show for 45 minutes (I know: how?!), but this song being played was the highlight of that experience. Gorgeous vocals and a cool, modern sound, with lyrics I felt.
  • “100 Years” by Five for Fighting. This song randomly showed up in my life three times within a week; you bet I listened to it a lot more, with an open heart. I guess I needed to be told that every season is good and must be savored. Beautiful song.
  • “The Banjolin Song” by Mumford & Sons. I listened to my favorite Pandora station a lot this month. This is one of the songs that would pop up and make me smile.
  • “Runaway” by Jess Ray. Listening to this on a bleak day was bliss and comfort.
  • “Mess is Mine” by Vance Joy. I adore this song; a love that is willing to get into the messes with you is beyond value. Beautiful, homey singer-songwriter sound.
  • “Stained Glass” by Jon Guerra. He opened for Rend Collective when I saw them in concert this month, and his music swept me away. So lovely, in sound and in heart.

Movies/YouTube/TVwalter mitty

  • “Chris Martin Carpool Karaoke.” I think this series in general is so fun, but I got way too excited when I saw the lead singer of Coldplay was the next guest; I am quite the Coldplay fan and I just really enjoy his spirit for life. This car ride would be such a blast!
  • Jack Frost, the 1979 animated special. My brother has informed me that I am the only human being who enjoys it, but whatever. I’m determined to watch it every Groundhog Day. I think it’s a lovely little film with a sweet air and the theme of greatest love– laying down your life for your friends.
  • Jefferson Bethke unpacking the objectification of women. This instantly became my favorite anything about this subject, and that’s big, because I am deeply passionate about this subject. Such good information on our brains, on scripture, on where our hearts need to be. He speaks of all human beings, not just women, and I love it. This, this, this.
  • “Live Your Song,” a TEDtalk by Jon Foreman. I love what he has to say about how we live our lives and how we fit with the world around us. He sees and thinks in poetry, and hearing him describe his perspective is a privilege.
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. One of my favorite films. Walter was never a coward, but he sold himself short, and seeing him leave the boxes he’d lived in his whole life always makes me cheer.
  • The “Song of Songs” installment of The Bible Project’s “Read Scripture” series. I appreciate The Bible Project so much; their exegesis is thorough and they just genuinely want to share the knowledge they’ve found to open more eyes to the heart of God. Some great information here.
  • Rhett & Link singing “A Song For When You Want to Say ‘I Love You’ But You Can’t.” So weird, but somehow great. Which is a good description of my general thoughts on these guys and what they make, haha!
  • Also by Rhett & Link, I watched basically every episode of their daily show, Good Mythical Morning, that was “Will It?” themed and cried laughing for hours. Why does two grown men dry heaving after eating weird food entertain me? It probably shouldn’t…
  • The Good Dinosaur. I heard quite a few people saying they didn’t love this movie; you will not be hearing that from me. It touched me so much. It was beautifully animated, it brought emotion out of me, and it was cute enough to make me giggle.
  • “Simon Beck – Snowartist.” I am always inspired by artists who do things unconventionally, who put their entire being into what they make, who do what they do out of love. This man’s giant-scale art made in the snow with his feet? Breathtaking.

Books/Articles/BlogsJesus Storybook Bible

  • “When You Always Feel a Strange Homesickness: How to Find Your Way Home” by Christie Purifoy. “The great promise has always been, not that we would go to live with God, but that God would come to make His home with us.”
  • “Why and How You Daydream” on Psychology Today. This was just an interesting subject to me that I wanted to learn a little bit more about. Crazy (and, to be honest, a bit convicting) to read that those who daydream about unattainable things are generally less happy and content in their lives.
  • “What You Focus On Is What Becomes Powerful– Why Your Thoughts and Feelings Matter” on Hey Sigmund. I am becoming a fan of this blog more and more the longer I’m subscribed to it; I so appreciate that it shares important psychology information in simple language, making the information accessible and applicable. This article in particular speaks of the brain science behind positivity and the effect it has on our contentment in life. Huge.
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It might be a children’s Bible, but reading it for myself was a time of growth and learning. The theology is so solid. It points to Jesus in every single story, showing that the Bible and the story of humanity is unified and centers around Him and His love for us. I am so excited about the generation that is growing up with this book!
  • “When You’re Struggling: Who Can You Really Trust These Days?” by Beth Moore. Real talk about how fear is the driving force of all that hurts us, and how we can “trade it in for trust.”
  • “When You Don’t Feel Good Enough to Really Be Loved” by Christa Hesselink. I relate so deeply to her story. The difference between knowing something to be true and believing it in your core is huge, and I love the hope she shares– that someday I’ll believe what I know, because my Father is going to change my heart to believe it.
  • A Little Princess, the adaptation by Tania Zamorsky. A friend told me to read this story and pay attention to Sara. Sara displays that no matter how badly you are treated or how terrible your circumstances are, you can rest in your value and identity with dignity and strength. Her story is such an encouragement. I couldn’t find the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel anywhere, but this little adaptation was a good summary.

Taking part in Leigh Kramer’s “What I’m Into” link-up, as usual. Be sure to browse around there if you like seeing what other people have been taking in and enjoying.

Responses · Testimonies · The Basics

Precious, Not Shameful (Or, Why Learning About Modesty Made Me Cry)

This year, an intensely complicated subject has continued to show up in my life. Jesus has been sending me ideas and perspectives that make me stand up and cheer “Yes, yes, yes, yes!”, make me gasp and say “That is so backwards!”, or even make me genuinely question what I’ve always thought. I’ve been learning so much, and I think it’s time I start voicing these things that have changed my life radically. What is this subject that has been affecting me so deeply?


I know what you’re probably thinking: “But, Tessa, we’ve already got this all figured out; you don’t need to question anything.” I used to think so, too. But what I’m finding is screaming otherwise. I’ve grown up in the church and wouldn’t change that at all; I love where I’m from, and I still attend the church I did when I was a baby. But I realize now that modesty is a much bigger issue than we think, in different ways than we expect. Can I share a bit of my story with you? There’s a part of me I wasn’t aware of until a few months ago–

I have sexuality.

That’s kind of a “duh” statement, isn’t it? I am a human being; I have sexuality. The end. But no one has ever simply told me that it’s okay to have sexuality. Do you want to know what people did tell me when I started growing up? “You need to be modest to keep boys from stumbling when they see you.”

And that’s all.

When that mixed with my inaccurate perception of sex, the message was incredibly clear to me that my sexuality was something to be detested and hidden away. I was still not fully aware of the reality of Jesus’ forgiveness at this point, so I associated my shame with who I was. To me, I didn’t have shame; I was shameful. I’ve always been modest with my clothing, more modest than anyone required of me. But it was never enough to me. If I was wearing a t-shirt, I would also be wearing two tanks tops under it. No matter how hard I tried, I was afraid that because I was a girl I was going to be a stumbling block.

A few months ago, I was still living in fearful modesty when I found an article someone had written– and almost cried because I related to everything she said. I hadn’t realized these things hurt me so much. While I didn’t agree with every argument the writer made after she shared her story, it brought an awareness to me that has been shaping every aspect of my life ever since, and that is–

Having sexuality is not sinful.

I know how obvious that is, but that just makes it even more terrible that I subconsciously believed it for so long. When my Bible study and youth group leaders would tell me to be modest, it was never for any reason but to keep boys safe or do my husband a favor. That implied to me that if I was seen, I was stealing someone from a deeper relationship with Jesus, and that terrified me. Cue t-shirt with two tank tops.

I want to take younger Tessa into my arms and let her cry about the shame she feels trapped in. I want her to hear C.S. Lewis when he says, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Most of all, I want her to realize that she isn’t being modest to save boys–

She is being modest because Jesus values her.

taken March 21, 2012The famous Bible passage that speaks of being a stumbling block is Romans 14:13-23. It’s a beautiful passage that speaks of loving others through what you do with yourself. It says that if you wonder if something is sinful, for you it might as well be, and then relates that concept to other people; if you are doing something that isn’t sinful, but someone sees you doing it and they have never been able to without believing they are sinning, it is as if you are sinning in front of them, which places conflict inside them. We must not do that. However, when Paul penned these words, he didn’t happen to pen the word “modesty” in with them. This concept can definitely apply to modesty, but it is not at all saying that women have the responsibility to be modest in order to keep men from sinning; if anything, it is saying women should be modest to help other women.

Verses that do speak of modesty actually have quite a different take on it. First Timothy 2:9-10 says, Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness– with good works. And 1 Peter 3:4 says, Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. Both of these verses are on my closet and I deeply hold to them, but not for the same reasons I used to. I used to read them daily and tell myself, “Okay, Tessa. Don’t let anyone see you.” Today, I read them and tell myself: “Okay, Tessa. Let people see you.”

Yes, these verses tell me to be modest, but not because I need to protect the men I meet. These verses say that modesty is a way to practice self-control; that beautiful actions should be my focus; that the things about me worth noticing come from inside me; that Jesus adores my spirit. I honestly have no clue where we got the idea that modesty is for the protection of other people. Modesty is a virtue that involves humility and kindness, not something that is meant to be found solely in women and what we put on our bodies; it’s the unwillingness to draw attention to yourself in order to win praise. These verses speak to women, but that’s because women were seen as objects and Jesus wanted to say, “No! I see inside you, and I love the you that exists in there. You are not an object and need no decoration; you are precious, and you have the ability to do beautiful things in my name. I am in love with your spirit. With you.” Do you hear Him saying that to you? Because He is. The hidden person in you is His dearest treasure. He wants your spirit to shine brightly from your physical body. That’s why He asks you to be modest. Not to keep boys from sinning, not to give your husband a gift– to be a soul instead of a body. Your existence is not a stumbling block.

One more thing: because all we were told as girls in youth group about our sexuality was that we needed to be modest, I felt like a disgusting, lustful monster for having sexual desires.

If I ever voiced this, I might have been corrected. But I was too terrified, because… well, I felt like a disgusting, lustful monster, and I didn’t want to tell someone that I was! But I wasn’t. And I’m not. I have desires sometimes, because I have sexuality, but I am not a monster. And the girls in your church’s youth group, maybe even the grown women in your congregation, need to be told this about themselves. I passionately hate that we forget men aren’t the only ones who have desires. We hear about sex being “what men want” (which is another stereotype I detest), and whenever I heard this I would internally crumble into a pile of pain as I whispered, “I want it, too. Not right this moment and not in a weird obsessive way, but I want it.” I cried about it sometimes, in quiet moments by myself as I thought, “I shouldn’t be feeling this. Jesus doesn’t want me to feel this.”

So, precious girl, this is for you: having desires is normal, not sinful. Acting out of them right now or obsessing over them may be wrong, but having them does not make you wrong. The key is surrender, giving your entire self to Jesus to care for. This isn’t something you can go through without Him. Accept what you feel and ask Him to give you patience, not simply in your actions but in your soul, too. Your sexuality was His idea. He made you; He knows how to take care of you. Beloved, there is nothing wrong with you, and I don’t ever want you to feel that way again.

And church, I have a question. I’m not asking out of bitterness, although I was when I first learned these things. I just ache to know: why didn’t you tell me? Why did it take so many shame-filled years for me to finally understand that I could have desires without being a monster? That all it took was trusting Jesus to take care of me? And why did you put effort into teaching me about modesty, yet ignore teaching boys to see me as a soul? Why did you talk to me and boys about their desires, yet say nothing about mine? And why didn’t you explain that modesty goes way beyond clothing?

Be modest, yes. But remember that modesty doesn’t stop at what you put on your body; you can be modest in your words, your actions, your spirit. And He’s teaching you to let your spirit, your soul, shine out of you and be what everyone remembers after they see you. You are not a stumbling block or a monster. You are precious. Allow that be seen.