5 Women Who Inspire Me

While reading, listen to Brave by Sara Bareilles.

Happy International Women's Day!

Today, we celebrate women. Their power, their resilience, their feminine beauty, their ability to own their personhood throughout history, and their ongoing fight for what they deserve. There are amazing women all around us, and YOU, yes YOU, are one of them. On a day when the conversation could center on what women have not yet been given or achieved, I want to stop and recognize what we have. We are not where we were, we have come very far. I believe that as women continue to stand in confidence and blow the ceiling off of their own expectations and dreams for their lives, our world will be an immensely better place. 

Who inspires you?

Everywhere I look, there are inspiring women who have made me better. They don't all stand on a platform, and they are not considered "famous". But a woman does not have to be famous to be important. A women does not have to be "well-known" to be making a difference. Near and far, there are female heroes who have touched my life, changed me with their stories, and driven me forward towards my own aspirations.

These women are unique, but they do have one thing in common: their identity is not in being a woman, but in being God's.

Though being a woman is a beautiful thing, a thing to be celebrated, the women I look up to are those who know that being made in the image of God is the most important part of who they are. Their identity in God's family is what they have built their lives on. So in honor of Women History Month and International Women's Day, I want you to hear from some of those incredible women. I want you to see their faces and hear their stories. I pray that they encourage and inspire you, and that you would feel their hands gently moving you towards the woman YOU are meant to be.   

5 Women Who Inspire Me...

Cynthia Goodell (My Mom, pastor, and hero!)

How could I not include my amazing mom in this list? Cynthia truly embodies what it means to be a godly woman everywhere she goes. She is consistent, compassionate, encouraging, and fearless. In her roles as a wife, mother of five, pastor, and friend, she loves deep. I am inspired by her daily choice to walk with people through hard things, forgive those who have hurt her, make herself better, and love the life she has been given. 

Favorite ways to recharge and relax: I treat myself by sitting and enjoying my hard work. A cup of coffee in a clean house, sitting outside, enjoying the garden that's tended...that's the way I can feel proud and enjoy my life.

Currently reading: The Shack by William P. Young and In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen.

Follow Cynthia here.

What does it mean to be a godly woman?

I believe being a godly woman means to be rooted in my relationship with Jesus and to be a woman of prayer. Everything in my life is an extension of this. If my Christian life is not evident to those around me, then that is an indication of bad priorities in my private life. If my personal time in prayer with God is not felt or seen by others, then I am not godly at all.

How can women truly love themselves?

Women can truly love themselves when they accept their current season of life while knowing that they won’t be there forever. Women must be committed to picking themselves back up and beginning again when failure comes, because it will come! It’s also very important to love the way God created you, because it is specific to your purpose. Your sense of humor, sense of style, and the way you interact with people are all there by design!

Nicole Killigrew (Childhood neighbor, friend for 13 years, and currently kicking cancer's butt!)

Nicole is a dear friend of mine, who I have been delighted to reconnect with since moving back to the Bay Area. She is incredibly kind and absolutely lovely. In August of 2015, Nicole was diagnosed with Colorectal cancer, and it has since metastasized to her liver. She is still fighting today, with grace and strength, and we are believing every day for a miracle!

Favorite ways to recharge and relax: I love a good mani/pedi, I get one about once every month. If I have a special event I’ll treat myself to two a month. It’s a great time to just grab a book and relax. I've also started doing hair masks (per YOUR recommendation) while taking an Epsom salt and lavender bath. So relaxing!

Currently reading: Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace by David Burchett (It is my second time reading it...anything with animals is my jam!)

Follow Nicole here


What has battling cancer taught you about a woman's strength?

WOMEN ARE STRONGER THAN MEN! Haha, just kidding! We are capable of anything we set our minds to. Challenges in life can be faced head on or shied away from. When I was diagnosed, I chose to believe this challenge was given to me because I am capable of beating cancer...not just beating it but absolutely crushing it. I accepted that there was nothing I could do to change my diagnosis but I could control how I listened to medical professionals, my own attitude, and surrounding myself with the people who will love me and support me through this journey! I have my days where the fight seems like more than I can handle, where I wonder why me, and I cannot seem to think beyond myself...but that’s when I lean on my village and all the people who have shown me they will be there for the good, the bad and the ugly.

What makes a woman beautiful?

We are beautiful because we are individual! Everyone is unique! Some of us are quirky, some creative, some athletic, some thick, some thin, etc. Beauty in my eyes is more than just what people see, it’s the things that people don’t see. We all have flaws. Learning to love ourselves for all that we are, flaws and all, is so important and something I am always growing in. I was really athletic growing up, played soccer in college; but lately I’ve struggled to love the new body I’m in. Less toned, a lot smaller, a medically implanted pump, two very long scars on my tummy, short hair, and some skin blemishes. But these things don’t define me, or make me any less beautiful. I’ve grown so much as a person through this experience. I have a better outlook on life, I cherish each day and value relationships in my life more than I ever have. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I really am more beautiful!

Lauren Ametrano (Friend, fellow creative, and absolute mom goals!)

Real kindness is one of the most underrated traits in a person, and Lauren wears it beautifully. You will always leave Lauren's presence feeling more hopeful about yourself, the Lord, and the world around you. She is a wife, mother, and she works while also serving at her church with all of her killer creative gifts. Lauren is pregnant with another precious baby, Ezra, but due to several complications, Ezra will either be a stillborn or survive the pregnancy for a few hours. Lauren is carrying Ezra full-term, filled with the strength only God can give, to walk through this difficult season. As she shared this news on social media, one thing she said absolutely floored me: "All baby Ezra will know is love, how special is that?" Lauren's love for Ezra and hope in this, is inspiring to many.

Favorite ways to recharge and relax: I love treating myself to a coffee date. Before I had my daughter, I went to coffee shops all the time so it didn’t seem like a treat. Things are different now and going out to coffee feels like a treat for the soul! I read, write and just get the feels, especially when I’m at one of my favorite places. I’m pregnant right now and this pregnancy has kicked my butt and so my work out game has been so weak. BUT getting away to work out and run is another way I self care/treat myself as a mom. I really love the barre classes and even though they are expensive, I don’t mind investing in it because I love how I feel afterwards. Also is it just me? But I love working out in a class with just women. I feel so much more comfortable! Lastly, I make sure my bedtime routine is on point! This might not seem like treating yourself but I’ve noticed that when I'm so tried by the end of the day, I will end up cutting corners in caring for myself so I make sure to protect my evenings. I love to take showers (not a bath girl!) with candles and then I use all my face products that I love before bed. Afterwards, I spend intentional time with my husband and then we are in bed by 9/9:30.

Currently reading: The Anxiety Cure by Archibald Hart, Freedom From Your Past by Jimmy Evans & Ann Billington, and Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.

Follow Lauren here

What is your favorite thing about being a woman?

I love being a woman because women are wired and designed for connection and community. I love knowing people deeply and sharing my life with people and I think women are so good at doing that! I also love being a woman because as a wife and mother I have a unique and special role in influencing and impacting my home and church community.

What do you want your daughter Selah to believe about herself?

I want her to be rooted and grounded in her worth and value. I want her to be brave (her middle name) so that she can stand strong for Jesus even when it’s tough. I want her to think that she’s beautiful and that she has so much to offer to the people around her.

Madison Shasky (One of my favorite 15 year olds, an amazing gymnast, and long-hair inspiration for us all!)

Madison will make you believe in teenagers again. She is passionate, hardworking, sweet, confident, and she loves Jesus loud and proud. Madison follows her dreams in gymnastics the same way she does everything else: with her whole heart. I have the distinct privilege of being her youth pastor and it has been amazing to watch her grow. I know that God has BIG plans for this girl, and I learn from her all the time. And can we talk about how beautiful she is?!

Favorite ways to recharge and relax: Treating myself can be on the back burner at times, but my go-to for pampering is a face mask. I love to make sure my face is taken care of and gets all the attention I can give it! I also love getting my nails done!

Currently reading: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 

Follow Maddie here

Comparison is a struggle for everyone. How do you fight against the urge to compare yourself to others?

Comparison is such a real thing for me! It is one of my biggest struggles. Yet growing up with so many influential people in my life, who are so confident in who they are in Christ has helped me focus on who I am too. I have had the promises of God spoken over me my entire life, and I can honestly say this has helped shape the way I view myself and others. This allows me to see the good things in me, and the good things in others that I can work towards, but not covet.

If you could teach women one thing, what would it be?

YOU MATTER. You are strong. You are capable. You are valued. You are worthy. You are influential. Today, it is so easy to be submissive to the lies and expectations our world has for women of all ages. But we are not defined by the things others say about us; we are not defined by the titles and labels spoken over us. Women need to hear that they have value, not because of what they do or how they look, but because of WHO they are!

Arlene House (My Grammy!)

I know that most people think they have the best grandma...but this is my blog, so I'm going to say most people are wrong. Grammy is the all-out best. From overcoming an abusive childhood, marrying the love of her life at 16 years old (still married today!), to building a spiritual legacy of women of prayer, she is the epitome of a fighter. She has overcome breast cancer and is now learning how to love and serve a spouse with increasingly difficult Alzheimer's. With a humble strength, Grammy continues to give the glory of a life well-lived to the God she serves. 

Favorite ways to recharge and relax: I am so thankful for all the Lord has given me. I find my "ahh moments" in my home. I love the relaxation that comes with sitting on my back porch in Summer. I enjoy the flowers in the yard and watching humming birds flutter from flower to flower.

Currently reading: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. 

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for women?

Never stop praying. If and/or when you are a wife, you should always pray for your husband. If and/or when you are a mother, never stop praying for your children. As I told my children, we don’t get to retire from the jobs God gives us! Whether you have a family of your own, you are single, or whatever your life looks like...people need you. But more than you, they need God. So pray for them!

How would you describe a truly beautiful woman?

A truly beautiful woman glows from the inside out. She is graceful and she is comfortable with who she is and how God made her. A truly beautiful woman lives a selfless life.

Aren't these women amazing? I know that I am better because of who they are! Thank you to all the beautiful women who read and support this blog. Shine bright today, and know that you are my heroes!