In my year of “Beauty,” I pledged to actually read the things I like to read. It’s terrifying. Not because I only read fluff — in fact, I don’t only read fluff — but because my heart is so capable of drawing me right to the exact words that will stop me in my tracks.

Saving books for another day, I decided to share with you ten online writers I can’t not click to. These are my absolute must-haves on the web, the ones I pare down to when I need to pare down…which is often.

I’ll share their names, but then — and I know this is a little unconventional — I want to you the things about ME that make these writers irresistible to ME.

One crazy thing about this online writing thing is that value is associated with popularity, as if there was some way to rank humanity, the ones with golden threads against the plain spun ones. But the truth is there is no shortage of stardust. Passing the spark from hand to hand isn’t only about who rocks it. It’s about who needs it.

Here are ten places where I am finding what I need right now.

  • SheLoves Magazine I write here, of course, although I’m taking a break for the summer. My editor/friend Bethany Suckrow wrote in a comment once, “SheLoves is healing my cynical heart.” I said, “Me too.” I’ve been in too many situations where Christian sisterhood was defined too narrowly to make a loving space for me. But at SheLoves I have found gentle and generous, fearless and full of hope. At SheLoves I have found evidence that we ARE capable of walking together making room, instead of walking together making scarcity.
  • Austin Channing Brown – It isn’t exaggerating to say that Austin has changed my life. That’s pretty much the line of work she’s in. I’ve been told so many times that justice work is angry work, or that the cause of liberation is somehow separate from the cause of love… In truth I always take a deep breath before I read at Austin’s place, because much of what she is writing is uncomfortable for me. But oh! I feel so held by her. So loved. I need her compassion, and her caring, and her persistent faith that love wins all.
  • Sarah Bessey – If you weren’t around when I got over my Sarah Bessey thing, you should click back to this old post and check it out. She’s kind of the reason I started blogging. I had just converted and was lonely and here she was doing church in the everyday, praising holy right in the rice krispie crumbs. I was amazed and delighted and I wanted to BE HER. Fortunately, I’ve mostly grown out of that (mostly) and now I just suck up her beautiful, beautiful writing every chance I get.
  • Ben Moberg – I just love the way Ben writes. I think we’re relatives, in writing style or process or something…in some way I can’t explain. But I love, love, love the way he processes through this world into the kingdom of God. And I love that he doesn’t give up and doesn’t undervalue his own journey and doesn’t lie.
  • Micha Boyett – Micha changed a little, this past year. Did you notice? I don’t know her personally. But I have watched this journey, as she published her first book and life didn’t go the way the movies said it should, and I recognize the way she’s getting polished. Becoming a more transparent vial…a smoother stone. She’s always been a gorgeous writer, but now I go to her for wisdom, earned the way that true wisdom is earned…not just at the keyboard but deeper in the heart.
  • This Everyday Holy – I read Mihee Kim-Kort’s blog, too — and her books! — but this is her podcast. I love Mihee’s voice, and I love that she started with this Mary Oliver poem, and the whole thing makes me want to shout, “You have a voice! I have a voice! We have voices!” If I could clone Mihee, I would make one of her to go to all the Presbytery meetings so the other one of her could make podcasts every day.
  • Lisha Epperson – I track Lisha like a bloodhound, honestly a lot because she lives in New York City. You know…my other life. It remains a tender place for me, how I didn’t ever make it to the artsy world of the city that was my dream for so many years. Maybe that’s why I hound Lisha’s life instead, and breathe a sigh of relief every time she shows me that her city-dwelling beauty-drenched artistic life is actually, believe it or not, a lot like mine.
  • Christie Purifoy – On the other hand I follow Christie because her life IS like mine. Not in every way, of course. But some. If you were looking for someone kind of like Esther on the web, you might find Christie.  I could probably go there to steal post ideas, but I don’t. I swear. 🙂 I just like the company.
  • Abby Norman – It’s okay to have friends. Abby and I are actually friends. We support each other, and we challenge each other. We’re better scarcity hunters because of one another. I know things about city life and being a working mother and the school to prison pipeline that I wouldn’t know if I weren’t friends with her. And she knows things about permaculture and lifestyle resistance and radical homemaking that she wouldn’t know if she weren’t friends with me. So that can happen online, believe it or not. Isn’t that cool?
  • The Mudroom – This is another place I write. But it fits a niche in the Christian blogosphere that is so needed. Where are we candid with doubt? Where are we willing to walk together through the rough patches? Where are we showing the cracks as if we really believed that’s where the light shines through? I need our little world to have a space like this one.

How about you? Where is your soft beauty-loving heart drawing you to read these days? (And do you follow it?)