This feels like one big introduction of friends, a holiday party right here. Because I want you to know these interesting, smart, talented women, and I want them to know you. Some might call this a “Ones to Watch” list, women who are on the rise in their writing and speaking. But I don’t want you to just watch them, I want you to know them. To read them, learn from them, make them your friends too.
In fact if I could make a reservation for you to have dinner with each one I would. A bistro with good food and drink and hours to talk through the heartaches of life. And if I could squeeze my buns in, I would, to sit and listen to the conversation and spirit around the table.
So instead of a “Ones to Watch” list, I’m going to call this my “If I were to have a Christmas party these would be 5 I’d be sure to invite so we could all hang” list. I really would like to have a party at my house, with you and these beyond delightful women, but this online space will have to do for now. And these introductions are as close to a party as I’ll get this year.
You’ll find I’ve known a few of these ladies more than half of my life. Their hearts are so intertwined with mine, I couldn’t untangle them if I tried. And others I’ve barely just met, but our instant connection makes me want to introduce them to you. You will love them too, I’m sure of it.
Welcome to your new friends.
Krista is my longest friend on this list (by that I mean longest known, not tallest, though now that I think about it, this is a pretty short crew, just my size). We met twenty years ago and our hearts have co-mingled ever since. Krista, also a mother of four, sees people – really sees them – wherever she goes. She is a magnet of extroverted love and no surprise everyone wants to be near her. She challenges us to connect with people in our lives through her Meaning in a Minute dares. That’s right, one minute, just sixty seconds of fun things you can do to better connect with those around you. You may remember her from the Daughter Dare she and I did together a few months ago. Find her at MeaningInAMinute.com.
Also one of my lifelong friends. Ashley and I shared the newlywed years together (obviously not married to each other, but that’s when our life paths crossed, back in my Portland-I-didn’t-realize-how-hip-I-was days) and she is a writer in the truest sense. One who practices the craft and the results are beautiful. I find myself rereading sentences because they capture the essence of the moment she is describing by stringing words together so perfectly. She writes about mothering her girls (yes all girls too) at her blog Draw Near. And you will want to draw near and read and reread her inspirations on life and faith. Find her at AshleyMLarkin.com.
Francie and I met two years ago at a conference. A breakfast meeting that turned into a three-hour discussion where I had no problem skipping a speaker on stage because I was learning so much from the woman sitting across the table from me. Francie is refined, mature and passionate. She is a teacher with a strong mind and a tender heart. What better combination for offering wise counsel to take to heart? Connect with her at FrancieWinslow.com.
So I met Jessica face to face just over a year ago at MOMcon 2013, though we’d been corresponding for months. She has become a dear friend. In fact we just talked yesterday! How can you not love someone who invented the word “evangelawesome”? Also smart, but equal part wacky from working with college students in her day job with Intervarsity, Jessica takes the fear out of talking about Jesus. In fact her first book is about just that. First introduced to me by Francie (see that’s what friends do, introduce each other) I’d like to now do the honors of introducing her to you. Head over to JessicaFick.com to seal the introduction deal.
Gillian’s website reads “The world is full of people who seem to have it all together…. Gillian speaks for the rest of us.” And does she! When I read Gillian’s memoir Sun Shine Down about having a child with Down Syndrome, I thought, “Now THAT’S real.” The raw honesty was a dose of refreshment for this pinterest-infused world. Also a mother of four girls, two have Down Syndrome, she writes about the imperfect life we all lead and the unique challenges of raising kids with unique challenges. She also shares with brutal honesty about her own struggle with depression. Find her at GillianMarchenko.com.
These are my girls. If you like this list I will make more introductions. But know if I had to choose five friends to introduce you to this Christmas season in the virtual sense, these would be them. Read, know and enjoy.