17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017

17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017

2017 was the year of the woman. Ladies fought back. And they fought back hard. I’m proud to be a woman, and to have been inspired by these amazing, fierce women. It was so hard to narrow down this list, and there are so many others I wish I could have included. But, here, in no particular order, are seventeen women who inspired me this year…

{Note: This list is comprised of women that are in the spotlight and have some sphere of influence. There are certainly plenty of women I know personally who inspire me every day, but I felt that this would be a bit more relatable for us all.}

  1. Gal Gadot


I think I’ve told everyone and their mother how much I love Wonder Woman by now. It was the movie I never knew I needed. But it was more than that. She is the hero I never knew I needed. And Gal Gadot really is Wonder Woman. So, I guess that makes her the hero I never knew I needed. This Israeli actress not only slayed her role (she filmed part of Justice League while pregnant), but she has continuously reiterated the fact that Wonder Woman’s strength is based in her warmth and compassion. I couldn’t agree more. Bonus fun fact: She also served in the Israeli military. Yeah, she’s the real deal.

“I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it’s a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let’s own who we are and use it as a strength.”

  1. Rachel Platten


I honestly don’t know why I find Rachel Platten so inspiring. I just do. You know how you feel like some musicians are just there for you? That’s how I feel about Rachel. Her first single, “Fight Song,” is kind of my everything, and her first album blew me away. With lyrics like “I’m gonna dance on broken glass, and I’m gonna make that ceiling crash” and “You’re on the ground and I’m climbing mountains,” it’s safe to say I feel the same way about her second album. Her connection to and interaction with her fans is incredible, and by partnering with organizations like I Am That Girl and the Girl Scouts of America, she’s just spreading the girl power.

“Won’t change for you or no one else making me feel I’m not enough when I am.”

  1. Susan Collins


Senator Susan Collins is one of my favorite people on the Hill. Her conservative-yet-moderate stance aligns perfectly with my own political views, and she has fought against some of the worst bills that the Senate has tried to pass this year (*cough*healthcare*cough*). I admire her courage and strength. She is certainly no longer just the obscure, unknown senator from Maine. This year, she has been strong and courageous, and has refused to back down under pressure.

“What I find is with all due deference to…our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative.”

  1. Victoria Arlen


I had never heard of Victoria Arlen before watching her on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars. Now a commentator for ESPN, Arlen previously competed in the Paralympics. This was after she was diagnosed with a rare disorder that rendered her immobile and unable to function on her own. After being confined to a wheelchair for years, she was able to learn how to walk again. Because of the severe health challenges she experienced, she is still unable to feel her legs. That didn’t stop her from making it to fourth place on DWTS. Hearing her story and watching her dances, particularly from “Most Memorable Year” night, in which she came to grips with her relationship with her wheelchair, I was so encouraged, and reminded that my chronic illnesses can’t stop me.

“Rock your disability.”

  1. Ashley Graham


Ashley Graham is a model. She is also not a size two. This has not stopped her from rising to prominence in the modeling industry, and she has inspired girls everywhere in the process. Ashley is real. She looks like me, or that girl down the street, or maybe even you. The best part is that she has embraced her size and the way it sets her apart from other models, and is constantly working to spread positivity and empower other women.

“I refuse to let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comfort. And neither should you.”

  1. Dana Loesch


Dana is a former anchor for Glenn Beck’s network, The Blaze. She is currently a Fox News contributor and hosts her own radio show. Because of her conservative beliefs, she has been threatened multiple times on social media. Things escalated so badly that she and her family actually had to move for their safety. Through it all, she has refused to back down or allow her critics to silence her. The strength she has shown through all of this has been amazing, and I have found plenty of courage through her own.

“I pledge allegiance to God and country, not God and party.”

  1. Lady Gaga


Okay, I would not necessarily call Lady Gaga a good role model. However, I had to include her in this list for how she has spoken out about chronic illness this year. She has been open about her struggle with chronic pain, and has brought awareness to fibromyalgia, a condition that is often brushed off as being nothing and all in one’s head, despite the fact that I and millions of others can confirm it is very, very real. For that, I say hats off to Gaga.

“No matter how much success you have, no matter how many opportunities, fame, fortune, no matter how many accept you to your face, the person that really needs to accept you is you.”

  1. Al Fox Carraway


If you don’t recognize Al’s name, perhaps you know her as the “Tattooed Mormon.” Al was living in New York when a pair of missionaries found her and began teaching her about the gospel. Despite severe opposition from her family, friends, and coworkers, she became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And she started blogging about it. Her blog basically exploded, making her a household name within the Church. I was so inspired by her book, More than the Tattooed Mormon, and her social media posts seem to always pop up right when I need them. Her blog was one of my biggest inspirations for starting my own. Al is considered by many to not be a “conventional” or “traditional” member of the Church because of her tattoos, and I like that. Because of my health, I have been unable to follow the same path as many other youth in the Church, but Al has shown me that being a little different is definitely okay.

“This exact second, God is mindful of you.”

  1. Emma Watson


Truthfully, I think Emma Watson has always been Belle to me. Emma began her acting career portraying Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. Although I have loved reading all of my life, Harry Potter changed everything for me, and so did Hermione. I truly feel that she was the first literary character I ever identified with, someone who taught me to be brave, but to be proud of my intelligence. That is where my love for Emma began. Since then, she has truly become one of my heroes, working as an ambassador for UN Women and speaking out for gender equality. This year, my dreams came true when my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, was released in a live-action version. Emma played Belle, but she was a new Belle, a defiant, intelligent Belle who earnestly sought more for herself. There’s nothing more that I could have asked for.

“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.”

  1. Selena Gomez


I was first a Selena fan during her Disney days, but after those days were over, I kind of didn’t care anymore. But things started to change recently. Selena released better music, spoke out with the purpose of empowering young women, and shared her lupus diagnosis with the world. I was quite literally in awe of her courage; I don’t like to talk about my diagnoses with people I know. After having to cancel part of a tour, Selena got even more personal: she talked about the effect that physical health conditions have on your mental health. This year, all while releasing new songs, Selena found out her lupus had caused her to go into kidney failure. She was in desperate need of a transplant, but no one was a match – until her best friend, fellow actress, and roommate Francia Raisa was tested. She was a match, and agreed to the operation without hesitation. Selena has continually praised her friend for saving her life, and for being the real hero in this story.

“I would do anything to be able to have a good influence on this generation.”

  1. Nikki Haley


I am so proud of our country’s first female president! (Just kidding…actually, no, I’m not.) After being one of the best governor’s South Carolina has ever had, Haley left the Palmetto State to become the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She has reminded the world of who the U.S. is and what we have done. Most recently, after a vote showing contempt against the United States for choosing to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, she gave a stirring speech condemning those who voted against us, threatening to revoke American funding of the UN, and assuring fellow member nations that we were indeed taking names. Ambassador Haley is the very definition of the term “girl boss.”

“There is no war on women. Women are doing well. But women are thoughtful. And what we in the Republican Party and across the country, Republican, Independents and Democrat women say is we’re more thoughtful than a label. We care about jobs and the economy and healthcare and education. We care about a lot of different things.”

  1. Lindsey Stirling


Lindsey is a member of the LDS Church. She is also a world famous violinist, combining the sounds of EDM with an instrument meant for classical music. Her eclectic sound has taken her to the top of the charts and on world tours, but she has never lost her standards. She competed on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars, coming in second with her pro partner Mark Ballas. During the show, she was careful to dress as modestly as possible and stay away from inappropriate dance moves. She was like a living example of being in the world, but not of the world. Watching her on the show was a true inspiration to me, as an LDS woman.

“Be kind to the people around you. You will never feel better about yourself as a result of demeaning, bullying, or dragging others down.”

  1. Manal al-Sharif


I recently finished reading Manal’s book, Daring to Drive, and I have decided that she is an absolutely incredible person. Manal is Saudi Arabian. During her childhood, she suffered abuse from her parents and siblings, which is typical in Saudi households. However, her mother was insistent that she and her sister get a good education. So, Manal went to college and majored in computer science. She then got a job at Aramco, the largest Saudi oil company. Aramco employees live inside of the Aramco compound, where things are completely different from the rest of Saudi Arabia. She also spent time working for Aramco in the U.S., where she learned to drive and got a driver’s license. She began to question many Saudi beliefs, especially the ban on women driving. One day, a coworker informed her that a woman driving is not actually illegal, it just goes against tradition. Armed with this information, Manal helped plan an event for women to drive, spoke to the foreign press, and drove herself – and got arrested for it. She spent time in a women’s prison for doing something that was not actually illegal, and was not released until her father appealed to the king of Saudi Arabia in person. Now, women are “allowed” to drive in Saudi Arabia. But without pioneers like Manal, where would they be?

“The rain begins with a single drop.”

  1. Meghan McCain


Meghan is a political commentator who worked for Fox News before quitting and becoming the token conservative host on The View. She is also the daughter of Senator John McCain from Arizona, who was diagnosed with brain cancer this year. Her bravery in the face of this trial has been incredible. She has become an advocate for brain cancer patients everywhere. She has also fired back when anyone, including the President, has said anything negative about her father, a POW during the Vietnam War. And, of course, she has kept her sassy conservative-mixed-with-libertarian political views through it all.

“Pain is real, so is hope…stay strong for me and I will stay strong for you.”

  1. Jordan Lee Dooley


Jordan is a Christian blogger who has gained quite the following on social media. But she has made one thing very clear: her life is messy, just like yours. She also coined the phrase “Your brokenness is welcome here,” which has created somewhat of a movement on social media. Jordan was one of the first Christian bloggers I followed, and has been one of my biggest inspirations for blogging. Her sweet, spirit-filled words always seem to hold the perfect reminders, and her growing popularity has not changed her one bit.

“The struggle may be real, but the struggle is also redeemable.”

  1. Josie Thompson Solomon


Josie is LDS, and an activist. She started the 444 Project, which works to spread the gospel in other countries. She also suffers from bipolar disorder. I have followed her story for a while now, and I have been so inspired by her persistence despite the fact that she admits it can be hard to feel happiness at all. However, her bipolar diagnosis never fully explained all of the symptoms she was experiencing. This year, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. As it had gone untreated for quite some time, it was bad, and she had to begin undergoing harsh, intense treatment that made her feel even worse. With the help of her husband and staff, the 444 Project has continued, and, of course, so has Josie.

“You don’t have to be healed to help.”

  1. The Women of the #MeToo Movement

me too

Whether you are famous (Rose McGowan leading the charge against Harvey Weinstein, or Taylor Swift countersuing a disgruntled deejay for $1) or not, whether you were harassed or assaulted, thank you. I cannot relate to your experiences, and I hope I never will, but I am endlessly inspired by you. There has always been an underlying tone of sexism and gender inequality in this country, but you have exposed that the problems go far deeper than men thinking they are better, or making offhand remarks to a woman about her inferiority. You are the heroes this year. Although there are men who tried to take it all from you, you have been the ones to emerge victorious. Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for enduring the doubters and the shamers. Thank you for being you.

“This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dokterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards for Time Magazine

Bonus: My Mother & My Grandmother


I know that I said that I wouldn’t put anyone on this list that I know personally, but I had to include these two very special women. I have always said that I come from a long line of strong women. Because of them, I have become the brave, independent woman I am today. Their compassion and strength have taught me more than any of these other women combined, and I am eternally grateful for them.


{Credits: Glamour Magazine | Brainy Quote | Rachel Platten | Senator Susan Collins | Brainy Quote | New York Times | Pinterest | Old Navy | Brit & Co. | Pinterest | Pinterest |Pinterest | Health | Al Fox’s Head | Kensie Kate | Buzzfeed | Who What Wear | Pinterest | Elle | Nikki Haley | Brainy Quote | Glamour | Pinterest | Daily Mail | Goodreads | Meghan McCain | SoulScripts | Deseret News | YouTube | Time}

Just Believe

Just Believe


“The memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph – and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby – that’s how Christmas began.

– Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I was in the second grade when I stopped believing in Santa Claus.

I think I was seven, and it was that tender young age when kids begin trying to ruin the lives of their classmates by telling them “the truth about Santa.” I was horribly confused. I thought that they couldn’t possibly be telling the truth. I would ask my mom and she would sort things out for me.

For some reason, we went to Chick-fil-a after school that day. I don’t remember why, I just remember being in the car on the way there when I asked my mom about what I had heard. She tried very hard to reassure me and dance around it, but I was insistent. So, she finally asked me if I really wanted to know the truth. I said yes, emphatically. And she told me. We both cried.

I was devastated. I had lost a precious piece of the innocence of my childhood. I wanted so desperately to go to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing Santa would come during the night. I wanted to watch The Polar Express and know the magic I was seeing was true. I wanted it all back.

I remember I used to pray that I would forget that I knew the truth. In some strange state of denial, I would write Santa letters asking to please be able to see him, and each year I would receive a letter in return from the big man himself explaining why I couldn’t.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this pain I felt as a child would shape my view of the Christmas season for the better. To try to assuage my pain, my mom explained to me that Santa is really magic, the magic you feel during the Christmas season. She told me that was what I should believe in. I even have a decorative pillow that bears the word “believe” to prove it.

Believe. That’s such a simple word. We believe a lot of things. We believe the sky is blue, the grass is green, the sun will come up tomorrow, and the garbage will get picked up on a specific day. It almost seems to lose its meaning, or become ambiguous, because it means everything and nothing to us.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of believe is “to consider to be true or honest” or “to accept the word or evidence of.” Like I said, this can apply to a lot of things. Maybe everything. But what about the most important things?

Why do we have the legend or story or whatever you want to call it of Santa Claus anyway? I’m sure there’s a whole Wikipedia article discussing origins that we could all gain a lot of knowledge from, but I don’t think that matters. What’s the point of Santa Claus? He’s a happy man who delivers gifts to everyone…kind of like a happy Savior who delivers blessings to us. Why do we give gifts on Christmas? Because He is the ultimate gift. Why are we taught to believe? Because to believe in Him is the most important choice we will ever make.

“How is Christmas regarded today? The legend of Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the decorations of tinsel and mistletoe, and the giving of gifts all express to us the spirit of the day we celebrate; but the true spirit of Christmas lies much deeper than these. It is found in the life of the Savior, in the principles He taught, in His atoning sacrifice – which became our great heritage.

– President Howard W. Hunter

Do you consider Him to be true or honest? Do you accept the word or evidence of Him?

I feel like this year I have been more acutely aware of my blessings. I have looked under the tree at my family’s presents and thought of how blessed we are when there are so many people who just want to be warm, or fed, or maybe even in a country that isn’t torn apart by war.

You all know I have anxiety. Because of that, my brain likes to find stress in everything – in exams, in shopping, in the things I need to get done while I’m on break, in hitting my scripture reading goal for the year, in not being too lazy…you get it. But through it all, Jesus has been especially close to my mind and heart this season. At church on Sunday, the focus was obviously on Him even more than usual because of the time of year. But it wasn’t all about His birth. It was about His Atonement, His ultimate sacrifice that He made for us. I appreciated this so much. I’ve always felt like Easter gets pushed aside compared to Christmas, but it shouldn’t be that way. The entire reason that Jesus Christ came to this earth, came to be born in a stable, is so He could atone for our sins and understand our pain.

You guys. Do you get that? The Creator of the universe came to this earth in the most humble of circumstances so He could understand you and save you and love you forever. Think about what that says about you, and about your worth. He thought you were worth poverty, homelessness, persecution, agony, torture, and death. FOR YOU.

So put up your nativity and know that He came to be born into nothing for you. Open your presents knowing that no matter how great they are, they are nothing compared to Him. Thank your Father in Heaven for sending His perfect, precious Son to bless us all forever and ever.

Take the leap of faith and believe in Him. He is so worth it. I promise.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

– Isaiah 9:6

My Fall Favorites

My Fall Favorites

fall faves

I’ll just tell you up front that this favorites list will be a shorter one. You can thank Mother Nature for that. She decided that I only needed about three weeks of fall here. (Fall is my favorite season, and I still haven’t gotten over the pain of not having it longer.) Although fall was short this year, I did have the chance to find a few things that I liked a lot. So, let’s begin.

Movies & TV //

Designated Survivor – If you haven’t seen this show, what are you doing with your life? A “designated survivor” is a person from the president’s cabinet chosen to stay in a separate, completely secure location during a big event, such as the State of the Union address, in which all members of the government are in one place. So, this show’s premise is that the unthinkable happens and the designated survivor does in fact become president. One of the major plot points was resolved last season, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this season as much, but it is still as fantastic as ever. Can Tom Kirkman be real? And run for president in 2020? Please?

NCIS – This is an old favorite for me. I feel like I’ve been watching NCIS forever. I have to admit, there were a few seasons (mainly after Ziva left *sniffs*) when I wasn’t really enjoying it as much. All of that has changed with the past two seasons. The team that they have together now is absolutely perfect, and they’re fighting crime within the Navy and Marines better than ever.

The Middle – In my opinion, this is the best comedy on TV now. How can you not feel endeared to the Heck family when they keep a spare quilt in their oven, their son, Axl, is driving a school bus after recently graduating from college with a business degree, and their other son, Brick, is, well, Brick. I can’t believe this is the last season that I’ll be spending with one of my favorite TV families. (But don’t worry – it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon.)

Beauty //

Bath & Body Works Peachy Keen Body Cream – This is one of those scents that I’ve liked for a while now, and I finally decided to pick it up with a coupon. (Pro tip: B&BW has the best coupons in the world. Sign up. Now.) It’s moisturization with a light, fruity scent that’s not overpowering at all. What more could you want?

Bath & Body Works Fresh Autumn Blooms Shower Gel – I got this shower gel right when the store was bringing out their winter products and trying to get rid of their fall products, meaning I got it for half price. I was a bit worried that this would feel a little more appropriate for spring, but somehow they managed to make floral smell like fall, which is basically my dream come true.

Philosophy Fresh Cream Hand Cream – I got this last Christmas in a gift set (it was three hand creams and called the “Handbook”…get it?). This one has become my favorite because it has the lightest, most neutral scent, so I find myself reaching for it the most. It really does help with my dry, eczema-prone hands during this chilly time of year.

e.l.f. Blending Brush – Historically, I’ve preferred to blend out my foundation and concealer with a blending sponge (a.k.a. a Beauty Blender knock-off, because ain’t nobody got $20 to spend on a sponge), but I recently gave this brush a try because I had it and why not? I don’t know if I necessarily like it more than using a sponge, but I definitely like it at least as much. This brush blends foundation/BB cream/your base of choice easily and quickly. Bonus: It’s only $3.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Color – Normally I’m not a big fan of Revlon products, but I was intrigued by this liquid lipstick and decided to give it a try. Of course, I used it once, liked it, and then forgot about it. I have recently rediscovered it, and it’s become a favorite in my collection. The formula is great, it’s easy to apply, and it’s staying power is pretty good. Definitely a win in my book.

Garnier Moisture Bomb Antioxidant Super Moisturizer – I got a sample size of this in an Ulta skincare kit, and I love it. (I actually just used it up, and I’m heartbroken.) It has an almost gel-like consistency, but is on the thicker side, which is perfect for the dry weather that comes with the cooler months. I definitely think I’ll be purchasing this in the future.

Miscellaneous //

Bath & Body Works Sweater Weather Candle – I have a lot of candles. It’s a bit of an obsession for me. So, even though I wanted to pick up about twelve for fall, I reigned myself in and kept it down to one. I bought this online, and actually had no clue if I had ever smelled it in-store before. I had heard good things, so I went for it, and I’m so glad I did. This candle is the definition of fall. It’s crisp and a little outdoors-y, but still cozy. I almost used all of it up in one season.

Booties – Last year, I bought my first pair of booties. I know that seems super late, but I was a regular boot fan, and didn’t think I wanted to mess with those half-boot things. But, as they became more popular, I decided to give them a try. I picked up a pair on Black Friday (obviously), and I don’t think I wore other shoes again until spring. I have since expanded my collection, and I now complain about wearing regular boots – it’s such a first-world struggle to have to maneuver jeans into them and make them look right. Booties are easy and cute. End of story.

Yoga – Yes you guys, I started doing yoga. Between my POTS and my chronic migraines, I was struggling to keep up with exercising regularly (even though it’s supposed to help those two conditions). Cardio was rough, even when gentle and low-impact. So, knowing it would keep me active and possibly reduce my stress level, I decided to give some yoga videos a try. I swear by Yoga with Adrienne’s videos on YouTube. She is such a cool yogi, but also very aware that everyone is at a different place in their journey. So, yoga is my new thing. And, yes, it is hard work. I promise.

Books //

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer – This fall, I decided to give my second all-time favorite series a re-read (second behind Harry Potter, of course). This is a five-book series of fairytale retellings with a twist – they take place thousands of years into the future. There are great fantasy and sci-fi elements to these books, and they take you on a super fun adventure. I absolutely adore them, and I cannot recommend them enough.

Quotes & Scriptures //

“Your brokenness is welcome here.” – Jordan Lee Dooley

“We keep offering God our successes; all He’s asking for is our hearts.” – Bob Goff

“If you don’t know the guy on the other side of the world, love him anyway because he’s just like you. He has the same dreams, the same hopes and fears. It’s one world pal. We’re all neighbors.” – Frank Sinatra

“Now behold, my brethren, I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?” – Alma 33:14

Songs //

“Female” by Keith Urban

“In Between” by Kelsea Ballerini

“Call it What You Want” by Taylor Swift

“Dare Ya” by Carly Pearce

“So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong United

“Thunder” by Imagine Dragons

“Perfect for You” by Rachel Platten

“Unforgettable” by Thomas Rhett

“Havana” by Camila Cabello

“Liability” by Lorde

“The Rest of Our Life” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

“Dear Hate” by Maren Morris and Vince Gill

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist


Fall may be my favorite season, but Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. I love celebrating Jesus’ birth, spending time with family, and everything else that comes with this beautiful season…including the music. I mean, who doesn’t love Christmas music?

Listening to Christmas music is one of my favorite ways to get into the spirit of the season. After all, in the words of Buddy the Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” (And Buddy the Elf is the ultimate authority on all things Christmas.) I have multiple Christmas playlists (yes, more than one is necessary) and albums that I’m always listening to during this time of year.

So, because of my love for Christmas music, I thought I would share the songs that I feel make the ultimate Christmas playlist. I’ve got old classics, new favorites, songs to remind you of the reason for the season, and songs to just make you happy. It’s all right here.

The Ultimate, All You Will Ever Need, Christmas Playlist

  1. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson
  2. “You’re Here” by Francesca Batistelli
  3. “Jesus, Savior” by Chris August
  4. “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande
  5. “The Christmas Song” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
  6. “Glow” by Brett Eldredge
  7. “Carol of the Bells” by Pentatonix
  8. “We Three Kings” by Tenth Avenue ft. Britt Nicole
  9. “Just a Girl” by Brandon Heath
  10. “The Day that Love was Born” by Dara Maclean
  11. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Sam Smith
  12. “Santa Baby” by Michael Buble
  13. “Baby Boy” by For King & Country
  14. “It’s Christmas” by Mandisa
  15. “Go, Tell it on the Mountain” by Needtobreathe
  16. “Heaven Everywhere” by Francesca Batistelli
  17. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Lady Antebellum
  18. “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber
  19. “Christmas in the Sand” by Colbie Caillat
  20. “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” by Brett Eldredge & Meghan Trainor
  21. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
  22. “Where are You Christmas?” by Faith Hill
  23. “One More Sleep” by Leona Lewis
  24. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Buble
  25. “Silent Night” by Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire, and Trisha Yearwood

So, tell me, what’s your favorite Christmas song? Or album? And do you agree with Buddy the Elf?

Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

Why I Listen to Christian Music (+ My Top Recommendations)

In a talk he gave at BYU-Idaho in 1989, LDS General Authority Elder Gene R. Cook shared shared an interesting experience he once had. On a flight to Texas, he found himself seated next to Mick Jagger. So he asked him a question: “I have opportunity to be with young people in many different places around the world, and some of them have told me that the kind of music you and others like you sing has no effect on them, that it’s okay, and that it doesn’t affect them adversely in any way. Then other young people have told me very honestly that your kind of music has a real effect on them for evil and that it affects them in a very bad way. You’ve been in this business for a long time, Mick. I’d like to know your opinion. What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people?”

Mick Jagger’s response was a bit surprising, to say the least. Elder Cook continued, “This is a direct quote, brothers and sisters. He said, ‘Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.’ Those were his exact words. I’m sure I had a real look of shock on my face in receiving such a bold response. He quickly added, ‘Well, it’s not my fault what they do. That’s up to them. I’m just making a lot of money.’”

Surprising though it may be, Jagger’s answer makes sense. Satan has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. He does everything he possibly can to stop us from living righteously. Of course he would want to influence the music we listen to. How easy is it to get some random song that you’ve maybe heard one time stuck in your head? Very, I know.

As I have seen more and more artists turn to this mainstream secularism, I have often had to look for music alternatives elsewhere, even giving up songs by my favorite artists, or letting go of listening to them altogether. That doesn’t mean I don’t still listen to Justin Bieber, or Ed Sheeran, or Bruno Mars. I’ve just made it a goal to be even more vigilant and cautious.

I am not saying that you are a bad person if you listen to Demi Lovato, or Beyonce, or even Mick himself with the Rolling Stones. I definitely do not think that every artist or band who releases music that could be considered inappropriate does it with some evil intention. But I think we need to be careful about what we consume in terms of media. Garbage in, garbage out, right?

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

– Romans 12:2

So, these alternatives to mainstream music… Well, I have found them in contemporary Christian music. I know Christian music gets a bad rap. It’s not “cool” or “popular” or whatever else is supposed to matter these days. But, through years of listening to Christian music, from being raised on artists like Steven Curtis Chapman and Nicole C. Mullen, I have found something very interesting: every single genre of music is present within Christian music as a sub-genre. You can find whatever you want – pop, country, hip hop, and, of course, worship.

I want to encourage you to add some Christian music into whatever you’ve got playing in rotation. Do it without judgment or expectations. Just see if you like it. See how it makes you feel, especially compared to other music. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry – I’ve got some suggestions for you; I even organized them by sub-genre for your convenience. 😉

Pop //

  • Hollyn – Hollyn is a fairly new artist with an amazing voice. One day, while listening to some music on shuffle, I genuinely thought I was listening to a Selena Gomez song for the entire first verse of one of her songs. {My picks: “Alone (ft. Tru),” “In Awe,” “Can’t Live Without”}
  • TobyMac – Okay, TobyMac is kind of the boss of Christian music. Seriously. Back in the day, he was in a band called dcTalk that was instrumental in making Christian music more than just traditional gospel. His career has spanned decades, and his music just keeps getting better. {My picks: “Me Without You,” “Love Broke Thru,” “Made to Love”}
  • Britt Nicole – Britt is one of my all-time favorites. She’s one of those singers whose music has truly had a major impact on my life. I don’t know what I would do without so many of her songs. {My picks: “Through Your Eyes,” “All This Time,” “The Sun is Rising”}

Hip Hop //

  • Lecrae – There is literally no other person like Lecrae on earth. He was once living a life that he says was full of sin, until he turned everything around and vowed to live unashamed. His story is so inspiring, and he’s better than most mainstream rappers out there, in my humble opinion. {My picks: “Welcome to America,” “I’ll Find You (ft. Tori Kelly),” “Broken (ft. Kari Jobe)”}
  • NF – NF is a newer artist, but he is fantastic. He’s quickly become one of my favorites with his intense rapping and message. He’s also breaking into top forty radio, sharing a positive message with a broader audience. {My picks: “Therapy Session,” “Oh Lord,” “I’ll Keep On (ft. Jeremiah Carlson)”}
  • Derek Minor – Lecrae’s protégé definitely has the talent of his mentor. He’s pretty awesome live too. {My picks: “Change the World (ft. Hollyn),” “Ready, Set, Go,” “Fresh Prince”}

Alternative //

  • Needtobreathe – NTB is my favorite band, period. I have seen them live five times. There are no words to describe the love I have for them, and how they have affected my life. Isn’t that what music’s all about? {My picks: “Hard Love,” “Brother,” “Washed by the Water”}
  • John Mark McMillan – JMM is a newer favorite of mine. He is also great live, and has some of truest alternative Christian music you’ll find. {My picks: “Future / Past,” “Enemy, Love,” “Carbon Ribs”}
  • Tenth Avenue North – I have no words for TAN. They have made some of my darkest moments bearable. Their music is what healing sounds like. And they happen to be five of the nicest guys ever. {My picks: “Times,” “I Have this Hope,” “Love is Here”}

Singer-Songwriter //

  • Ellie Holcomb – Ellie is actually in a band that I love with her husband, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. She’s recently decided to release some of her own music, and it is stunning. Her rootsy sound combined with scripture-inspired songs is a beautiful mix. {My picks: “He Will,” “The Broken Beautiful,” “Red Sea Road”}
  • Steffany Gretzinger – Steffany has one of the most beautiful voices. She often lends her talents to Bethel Music (we’ll get to them in a minute), but she has also released her own solo album, full of nothing but beauty. {My picks: “Letting Go,” “No Fear in Love,” “Out of Hiding”}
  • JJ Heller – I will admit, I’m not very familiar with JJ’s music, but a few of her songs have definitely stood out to me, and encouraged me greatly. {My picks: “Braver Still,” “Sound of a Living Heart,” “What Love Really Means”}

Country //

  • Zach Williams – Zach is a pretty new artist who has quite literally burst onto the scene. His songs are fun, and have a great southern rock vibe. {My picks: “Fear is a Liar,” “Old Church Choir,” “Chainbreaker”}
  • Crowder – Crowder is just the man. He’s been around forever, and he’s ridiculously funny. He also looks like he stepped straight out of Duck Dynasty. {My picks: “My Victory,” “Come as You Are,” “Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner”}
  • Rend Collective – This Irish group makes me want to dance around a bonfire. I think that explains it all. {My picks: “More than Conquerors,” “Joy of the Lord,” “Build Your Kingdom”}

Rock //

  • Skillet – Full disclosure: Skillet is intense, hard rock. They can be a bit frightening at times, actually. But if this is your thing, more power to you. {My picks: “Stars,” “Feel Invincible,” “Awake & Alive”}
  • Colton Dixon – Remember this guy from American Idol? He totally should have won. I’ve seen him live, and he’s great. I also met him once, and he smells really good, so there’s that. {My picks: “Anchor,” “Never Gone,” “Walk on the Waves”}
  • For King & Country – FK&C is a little bit of a stretch for rock, I’ll admit. But they’re rock-ish. And they are fantastically inspiring, so it’s all good. {My picks: “Shoulders,” “Priceless,” “Fix My Eyes”}

Light Worship //

  • Lauren Daigle – I feel like there’s a difference between straight-up hands-raised, praising worship, and something a bit softer. Lauren is a great example of this. She’s also just a great human. {My picks: “Trust in You,” “First,” “Here’s My Heart”}
  • Chris Tomlin – I’ve been listening to this guy forever, and I love him. Few artists have transcended the years as well as he has. {My picks: “Home,” “Good, Good Father,” “Love Ran Red”}
  • Meredith Andrews – I feel super cool because I liked Meredith Andrews before everyone else. I’m a total hipster, I know. {My picks: “Soar,” “Worth it All,” “The Gospel Changes Everything”}

Worship //

  • Bethel Music – I was skeptical about Bethel at first, but I have completely fallen in love with them. They are a group hailing from a church with the same name, and have multiple vocalists. I feel like their songs are so inspiring and uplifting, and I definitely recommend them. {My picks: “Pieces,” “Ever Be,” “Extravagant”}
  • Kari Jobe – I love Kari Jobe an awful lot. She is such an amazing person. Her incredible music is just a bonus. Here album Where I Find You is my go-to on bad days. {My picks: “Steady My Heart,” “Find You on My Knees,” “The Cause of Christ”}
  • Hillsong United – Ahhhhhhhhh. I love Hillsong United so much. (Their counterpart Hillsong Worship is amazing too.) Their music is the real deal. {My picks: “Touch the Sky,” “So Will I (100 Billion X),” “Not Today”}

So, take my challenge and give Christian music a chance. After all, you’ve got so many great recommendations now! These artists and bands are truly so special to me, and there are so many more I love that didn’t make the list. (So if you want more ideas, hit me up.)

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

– Matthew 6:21


{ featured image by Leio McLaren on Unsplash }