Category Archives: Favorite Lists

8 Favorite (Commute-Tested) Podcasts

Fun fact 1: I do a lot of driving. Currently, I enjoy a 45-minute commute to-and-from my home and school (and grad school friends), and a 20-minute commute to church.

Fun fact 2: I actually enjoy driving. It gives me a weirdly therapeutic space to think, where I have to be actively focused on the road but don’t have any other distractions or competing pressures. Sometimes, if I’m feeling thoughtful or reflective, I’ll talk out loud and record it on my phone, to then transcribe into my journal later. They’re awkward to listen back on but when I’m driving back from night class at 10pm, we do what we gotta do, ya know?

Fun fact 3: I’m also a big “car-performer.” The highway is my stage, Spotify provides my soundtrack, and the steering wheel is my mic. Neighboring cars judge, but honestly it’s their loss.

When I’m not talking to myself or pretending I’m at a Broadway audition, I enjoy a good podcast. I’ve cycled through my fair share. Podcasts are a tricky business – sometimes they sound too superficial, sometimes they sound to academic, and sometimes the content is just strange. It’s a delicate balance.

Podcasts are like any other form of entertainment: everyone’s got a preference. I’m not saying that these podcasts are for everyone. But in my limited search over these past two years, these some of the ones that I keep coming back to. Obviously this is not a sponsored endorsement and I am not throwing myself behind all of the content (because, let’s be real, for most of them, I’ve only listened to a couple episodes). But in general? 10/10 would recommend.

 

This is probably one of my favorite podcasts, for the way that it combines easy-to-listen-to conversation with incredibly deep topics. Don’t be fooled by the beauty of the website: this is not wishy-washy Christianity; Kayla, Lindsy, and Shannon don’t shy away from the hard questions. Gentrification, ethical fashion, and finance are just some of the topics that they aren’t afraid to get into the nitty gritty of. It feels like you’re sitting around a coffee table, listening to real women wrestle through the beautiful and messy realities of our life in Christ.

Favorite episode(s): Gentrification, Downward Mobility, Radical Hospitality

 

  • Journey Women: Life’s a journey and we were never meant to walk alone

This is another one that’s pretty low key, in terms of its intensity, but is incredibly authentic and thought-provoking. Hunter Beless interviews “mentor”-type women (and men) about an area of their ministry or testimony. Similar to Upside Down, it’s great because you can choose a topic, clearly labeled in the title, based on things you’ve been thinking about recently. The result is lots of stories and encouragement, from people who could be having the conversation in your backseat.

Favorite episode(s): Sharing the Gospel with Sarah Pape, Waiting with Ann Swindell

 

This is my favorite apologetic podcast. The questions are relevant and the dialogue is always honest and fair for both sides. Topics range from inter-Christian debates on things like abortion, role of women, the existence of hell, or sexuality, to inter-faith/atheist dialogues, on topics like the existence of God, approaches to poverty alleviation, Jesus and Allah, or the separation of church and state. While Brierley is a Christian, his moderation of the discussions is gracious and unbiased; the point is constructive debate and agree-to-disagree dialogue. In a world of hostile, polarizing opposition and flame-throwing rhetoric, it’s refreshing to hear people converse with civility, integrity, and intellectual strength.

Favorite episode(s): As if – I’m not about to tell you what my favorite topics of debate are. Honestly though, it’s hard to pick and choose with this one, because there are so many (they go back to 2007!) and the topics are so expansive.

 

Who doesn’t love a good Ted Talk? For as varied as Unbelievable is when it comes to apologetics, Ted Talks daily is that much more expansive, in every content area. If you don’t find at least one episode that you like from this podcast, I’d encourage you to expand your interests. Seriously, there’s a myriad (new ones every day) and they’re quality talks from experts. The best part? They’re short (most of them are between 5-20 minutes), so if you’ve got a quick drive, get bored easily, or if you’re not super into the one you picked, it’s not a huge commitment.

Favorite episode(s): A practical way to help the homeless find work and safety (Richard J. Berry)

 

  • Serial: Tells one story – a true story – over the course of a season

This one may not be for everyone, but if you know my family, you know we’re big into Forensic Files and NBC’s Dateline. We recently watched Netflix’s The Keepers and Making of a Murderer. In another life, we might have been a family of detectives. What is fun about this podcast is the ways it feels like a TV show or movie. It’s less thought-provoking, in terms of change-your-life content, but it’s no less engaging. The story and narrative structure is sure to keep you awake on late-night drives. When I started this podcast, I found myself  leaving earlier and earlier for my commute, so that I could find out what happened next.

Favorite episode(s): THE WHOLE THING (!!)

 

I listen to a lot of podcasts on missions, missionaries, and ministry. But, since a lot of them are conference podcasts, meaning they’re from a 2015 missions conference and aren’t producing new content, I’ve opted to leave them off this list. Engaging Missions, however, is a current podcast with new content every week related to life on mission. Topics range from support raising to spiritual refreshment to specific trends or movements of God around the world. If you’re a missionary, going on a missions trip, or are interested in the cross-cultural ministry of Christians around the world, there’ll be something in this podcast that stirs your spirit.

Favorite episode(s): Eastern Europe and the Power of Prayer, How to Write Great Missionary Support Letters, How Love Conquers Fear in a Majority Muslim Nation

(Global Missions is another good one on the topic of cross cultural missions)

 

  • Hope Writers: Online membership community for writers of hope

Another content-specific one for you, if you’re a writer or like listening to podcasts on writing, this is a fun one. The conversations center around writing, whether it’s dreams, practicalities, or realities of writing, publishing, and inspiring hope. The titles make the content clear, which is helpful. You won’t end up listening to a conversation on book launching, when you’re really looking to hear about how to make time for writing.

Favorite episode(s): Ian Cron – Enneagram for Writers, Ann Voskamp – Inside the Writer’s Heart

 

It’s important, like with anything else, that my podcast exposure match the diversity of the world and the body of Christ. If I’m only listening to people who look, sound, and think like me, then I’m missing valuable content, perspectives, and voices. While the other podcasts I’ve mentioned bring those in through speakers and a variation in content, Propaganda and Alma do it by nature of who they are. They talk, with wit and honesty about relevant, critical topics of today. It’s an upbeat, thoughtful listen.

Favorite episode(s): S01 Bonus Episode

 

If you’ve got any favorites, I’m always looking for new ones! I’d love to hear #sharethewealth.

 

Books You Should Read in 2017

You know the child with the semi-boyish haircut, pink dress, and princess slippers, curled up in some corner of the first-grade classroom with a book several levels above her reading level scrunched up against her face? That was me. On more than one occasion, I was grounded from a book series because it was causing me to “disengage and ignore the family.” Books have always been friends to the introvert in me and partners to challenge and shape my ideas. I’m always looking for new ones – inspiring, convicting, challenging, fantastical, and well told stories of someone or someplace else that changes the way I view life now.

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I don’t really recommend things unless I really really like them. I’m not always keen on taking other people’s recommendations because I’ve been told one too many times that something was amazing and it ended up not being my cup of tea. The books that I mention below I’m not just recommending, I’m highly recommending. They may not be for everyone, but they should be for most because they are just that good. This is my it-was-way-past-my-bedtime-and-I-was-still-reading collection. If you’re looking for some 2017 recommendations, here were some of my 2016 favorites:

Denise Ackernmann is a female, Anglican theologian who writes six letters on themes of liberation, feminism, racism, the power of naming, and suffering. Her writing includes experiences growing up during apartheid in South Africa and wrestles with what it means to truly walk like Jesus.

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-2-04-32-pmNew favorite genre: missionary autobiographies. I’ve made my through a fair share of missionary
biographies and they’re often as inspiring as a biography can get. But, like with any biography, they run the risk of idealizing and romanticizing the tension and mundanity of ordinary people’s lives. To read Helen Roseveare’s stories of being a medical missionary in the Congo, as told by Helen herself, through the lens of Deuteronomy 6:5 and sacrifice, is something altogether profound. You can be sure I’ll be not only re-reading this book in 2017, but exploring her other writings as well.

If you aren’t big into reading or if you want to introduce children to the refugee crisis and what it’s like to be a resettling refugee, this is a beautiful, simple, powerful telling of that story. It’s the story of Kek, a Sudanese refugee who gets resettled in Minnesota. The first person narrative and poetic-styled prose is accessible and pertinent in light of current global issues.

Another missionary story book for you, this one about a catholic priest who worked among the Masai people in east Africa. Amazing stories are in and of themselves worthwhile, but the questions they raise about evangelism, eucharist, ministry, and the overall nature of the church are incredibly presented and imperative for inspiring, personal, and theological wrestling.

This is less of a read-through kind of book and more of a wonderful resource for praying through the countries. It includes petition and praise points for each countries, updated in 2015 and submitted by natives and missionaries of those countries. If you’re committing to more intercessory prayer in 2017, this is worthwhile book to have on your nightstand – the cultural facts will help orient your prayers and the format of the book will help you stay focused (instead of, say, googling the country).

If you want more adult telling of refugee stories, this is a haunting and compellingly told book of nine stories from the world’s largest refugee camp. They can be read individually, which makes this long book more attainable, although the stories themselves may make it hard for you to pull away.

There’s a long compilation of books that I’m hoping to read at some point this year, so if you need more than what I’ve given you above, here’s an abridged version of that list:

Silence by Shuasako Endo

In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord

Spiritual Friendship by Wesley Hill

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Terrapin by Wendell Berry

Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey

An Altar in the World by Barbara Taylor

Great Need Over the Water by Stina Katchadourian

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Happy reading and may you find yourself lost in new worlds, captivating ideas, and fantastic stories this year!

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My Summer Faves

(Y’all, this post has been in my blog drafts since June. JUNE. I figured it was time to either delete it or finish it and get it posted. Since I didn’t have time to put all my recent ponderings into words, here you go.)

Remember when it was warm and sunny and the days were spent by the pool? Back when the sky and ground weren’t both permanently painted white. . .

Summer 2015 came and went. It was filled with lots of laughs, so much babysitting, small but wonderful adventures, many tears, and a crazy pack-up-and-move to Illinois. As I sit here under my heated blanket, I’ve found myself reflecting on the goodness of the Lord from the 102 degree Georgia heat of 6 months ago. I remember watching too much Netflix, building too many bonfires, and drinking way too much iced coffee. Somewhere between stops at Starbucks and corralling children, I found some new favorite things. Not that I necessarily think any of you care about what I found during times of heat exhaustion, boredom, and retail therapy, but it’s helping me bring some warmth into this brutal Chicago cold.

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1. Moleskine brown journals

It’s no secret that I like to write and journal. It shouldn’t be a surprise then to learn that I love moleskine notebooks. But I’ve been avoiding these little brown ones that come in a three-pack for awhile. I didn’t think they were big enough. I was pretty sure if I started writing in them, that I’d go through one a week. Not true, folks. They are the most beautiful little things. The covers are perfect for doodling some Scripture art. The lines are small enough and close enough together that a.) they keep my big ole handwriting super neat and b.) I don’t use them up super quickly. Big fan. I think I’ve already purchased at least two packs. Also they sell them at Target, so they are an easy purchase to just roll into my grocery bill.

 

2. White Sneakers from Target

Because obviously I’m obsessed with Target and I’ve been living in their white sneakers. Actually, until it snowed here in Chi-town, I was still wearing them. Honestly, if they weren’t basically irreparably stained, I would probably still be wearing them. Mine really can’t even be considered white anymore. Although, now that I saw they are cheaper online, I might just be ordering a new pair after I finish this post. They work with jeans, dresses, and, let’s be real, the athletic shorts that I wore everyday this summer. Part of the problem was wearing them to babysit and then having to chase the boys I watched through mud puddles in the backyard. Sigh. Either way, they might just be the best $16 I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes.

 

3. YouTube Vlogging Videos

I guess this is what the kids are watching these days.  I’m not even into makeup, but somehow I found myself watching way to many tutorials on products to apply and how to properly contour your face. Not to mention all the haul videos. It all started because I had a gift card to Sephora from Christmas that I hadn’t spent. I was just looking for suggestions on things to get, because, lets be real, Sephora is a very overwhelming place to a concealer-eyeliner-mascara, wash-and-wear girl like me. I got way more than I bargained for when I entered into the world of youtube vloggers. Makeup tutorials turned into “what’s in my bag” videos which turned into watching outtakes and feeling like I had become friends with Zoella, Sprinkle of Glitter, Hannah Maggs, Essie Button, Colleen, and JoshuaDTV.

 

4. 94.9 The Bull, Country Music Radio

My family isn’t a big fan of country music, so I soaked it up every time I was in the car alone. Whether it was my middle of the day, sunroof down jam sesh or my past midnight, driving back from babysitting attempt at staying awake, this was my radio station all summer. Actually, it’s been my radio station for awhile, it’s just no one else quite appreciates the southern twang and lyrics about guitars, boys/girls, beer, trucks, church, football and fishing like I do. “Buy me a Boat,” “Kick the Dust Up,” “House Party,” “Young & Crazy,” “Break Up with Him,” and “John Cougar, John Deer, John 3:16” were all favorites from the summer that I’m still listening to with relative frequency. Also, 49.9 helped me realize a new obsession with Sam Hunt, so I’d say they killed it with the summer tunes.

 

5. Bai 5 Molokai Coconut Drink

I love coconut. I LOVE coconut. I’ve straight up asked for a coconut cake for my birthday before. Did I mention I love coconut? But, ironically enough, I can’t stand coconut water. Coconut milk, sure. Coconut creamer, definitely. But coconut water, no thank you. This drink is what I imagine coconut water should taste like. It’s a little sweet and very refreshing. I think it tastes like summer in a cup. Just pour me a glass with one of those little umbrella things on the side and I’ll pretend I’m sitting on a beach in the Bahamas. I feel warmer already.

 

6. Frosted Lemonades from Chick-Fil-A

Not going to lie, I get random cravings for things all the time. I don’t feel like I need to justify wanting rice pudding at midnight or a cold blue gatorade after class. My friend asked to get slurpees from 7-Eleven with me the other day and there was no judgement. The new Frosted Lemonades from Chick-Fil-A were my summer craving. Even though it’s 20 degrees outside, I’m still craving them. I went to Chick-Fil-A several times this summer (in general, I went to Chick-Fil-A ALL the time this summer) where other people got a frosted lemonade and didn’t like it so they gave it to me. I don’t really understand what’s not to like, but I’m not complaining. It’s Chick-Fil-A’s famous lemonade mixed with vanilla ice cream.

 

7. The Body Shop Honey Body Butter

Town Center Mall was a frequent hang out for my friends and I this summer. On the way out, you have to pass The Body Shop. The lady who works there has skin that literally glows and it’s impossible to not be sucked into the vortex when you just “stop in to look.” I think my sister and I spent over thirty minutes in there one day. They’ve got buy three, get three free kind of deals, so obviously you have to buy things because it’s like you are actually wasting money of you don’t (right?). And I told you, the glowing skin lady sucked me in. But honestly, I have incredibly dry skin and this is the only lotion I have found that actually locks in some amount of moisture. I’ve tried almost everything on the drugstore shelves and this is the best lotion I’ve found for my dry skin. Not to mention, it smells so incredibly amazing. Every time I put it on after I shower, my roommates comment on it. Quality product right here. (Also, looking up this links is making me wonder why I don’t shop online more. . .)

 

8. Brooks Ravenna Running Shoes

I told my sister I would do this 5K training program with her this summer, which basically justified buying an actual pair of decent running shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Patagonia sneakers, but they aren’t exactly champions when it comes to supporting my weak arches when running. I think I took over 15 different quizzes about what kind of running shoes would be best for my feet. I finally settled on these beautiful things. They are very bright and very motivating, which is really what I need when it comes to running shoes. Also, they are super comfortable. They seem to make my feet hurt less after I run (or walk fast), so they are win in my book.

 

9. Essie Nail Polish (especially In The Cab-Ana)

I’ve always been a little obsessed with painting my nails. I honestly think I am more productive when my nails are painted. I don’t think I’m OCD until my nail polish starts chipping. One of my roommates says its not normal to paint my nails as much as I do, that it’s a southern thing. I think it’s normal. Either way, I rediscovered a lot for Essie nail polish this summer. My sister had this In The Cab-Ana blue color that may or may not have ended up in my suitcase back to Wheaton. It’s just so smooth and wonderful. And if a couple dollars on a nail polish motivates me to type a 10-page paper, then I’d say it’s done more than it’s job.

 

10. We Will Not be Shaken CD by Bethel

Oh my freakin’ word. This CD. I’m still listening to it during my quiet time. If you’ve never heard “No Longer Slaves,” “In Over My Head,” or “Ever Be,” you need to go buy this CD right now. There are not a lot of songs that can put my heart in a place of worship and rest in the Lord consistently. There are multiple songs on this CD that do. I’ve cried more times than I can count sitting with Jesus while these songs played. The prayerfulness of each of song is incredible; I’m so grateful for the worship of the Bethel people!

My Bucket List

“Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon? Tell me, what is your plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

*Live overseas

skiing the Alps during a blizzard

*Get married

*Have a biological child

*Adopt a child

*Learn to bartend

*Move to a new city

*Go to India

*Go to Russia

*See the Northern Lights

*Go to every Disney World/Land in the world

*Ride in an autorickshaw

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cozying up to some street art in Kiel, Germany

*Ride an elephant

*Read through the Bible

*Go skydiving

*Ride a camel

*Fast for over 24 hours

*Be a wedding photographer

*Visit K-Homes

*Meet someone really famous

*Learn to surf

*Fly a plane

*Get my pilot’s license

*Chop down a real Christmas tree

*Board a plane from the tarmac

*Drink at a pub in Ireland

*Go sledding with friends

*Ride in a Venetian gondola

*Be kissed in the rain

*Have passionate sex (with a husband, obvs)

*Run a 5K

*Learn to skateboard

*Get a tattoo

*Learn archery

*Ride on the back of a motorcycle

*Learn another language

posing with the volcano after jungle Zip Lining in Costa Rica
posing with the volcano after jungle Zip Lining in Costa Rica

*Go zip-lining over a jungle 

*Learn to play the guitar

*Drive on Route 66 (and stop at a diner!)

*Read every book I own

*Put a song I wrote to music

*Go skinny dipping

*Go snorkeling

*Ride in a hot air balloon

enjoying a Guinness in Dublin

*Swim with dolphins

*Go skiing (in the Alps!!)

*Ride on a ski lift

*Eat chocolate in Switzerland

*Go white water rafting

*Go to Hershey Park and Bush Gardens

*Ride the largest roller coaster in the world

*Ride in a San Fran Cable Car

*Ice skate a Rockefeller Center at Christmas

*Watch a Broadway show, on Broadway

*Watch the sunset behind the Grand Canyon

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enjoying a San Fran cable car ride at sunset

*Ride on a train

*Go to Jerusalem

*Go to Africa

*Go to Australia

*Star in a movie

*Go to a red carpet premier or an awards show

*Create a youtube video that goes viral

*Graduate highschool

*Graduate college

*Get a Masters

*Get a PhD

*Pay off my debt

*Be with someone when they find Jesus

*Learn to do a backflip

*Donate blood

cliff jumping in Antalya, Turkey

*Go to a new country by myself (Turkey)

*Rescue a dog

*Write a book

*Own a car

*Own a boat

*Speak in front of a lot of people

*Have long hair

*Invent something

*Become a certified ZUMBA instructor

*Work at a coffee shop

*Do something that scares me

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my autorickshaw ride in India!