Listen, I am all in favor of cute baby pictures, and I don’t even mind the occasional snapshot of a meal. But if given the choice, I prefer a steady diet of story and substance – in real life and on social media.
If you’re looking for that, too, then let’s compile a list of people who offer practical tips for living out our faith. Let’s find people who are authentic and encouraging because their stories will strengthen all of us.
I’ll get us started. Here’s who I’ve been following and learning about on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat:
- It’s no secret that I have a writing crush on Ann Voskamp. I love her focus on gratitude and how she uses her words with the precision of a poet, and it was one of her social media posts that introduced me to Meredith Toering – a must-follow on Instagram. Meredith, an Oklahoma native, lives in China and runs Morning Star, a foster home for babies and infants who have complex congenital heart defects. Her Instagram feed could easily dwell on the challenges she faces. Instead, you’ll find post after post that highlights courage and hope. (Even if you aren’t into that, you should follow her just to get to know a little boy named Ben. He and his chubbiness are the reason I check Instagram every day. He has his own hashtag: #benstagram.)
- Interested in a more beautiful life? Follow Thoughts from Alice on social media. She’s a blogger who shares gorgeous pictures of her not-any-bigger-than-yours house, and she writes posts that talk about embracing the imperfections of her 1930s home and searching for hope while living with depression. If you follow Alice’s blog or her Instagram feed, you’ll quickly see the beauty in her life and in your life, too.
- Eric Maddox’s life story reads like a suspense novel – and that’s why the former Army interrogator who tracked down Saddam Hussein has a bestselling book and a movie in the works. In fact, he’ll be featured this Sunday, June 26, on CNN’s “Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies.” It starts at 10 p.m. EST. Hopefully he’ll get the chance to tell how his faith influenced his decision to join the Army and his ability to gather information without using violence. Eric is easiest to find at his website, but he’s also active on Facebook and Twitter as @ericbmaddox. I am slightly biased since we grew up together, but Eric has a lot to teach us all.
- I find The Blessing Counter hard to resist. Carol Shrader, a mama to four – including triplets born prematurely – writes about her challenges and, of course, her blessings. She shares raw emotion and gives us a glimpse into parenting not just multiples but parenting children with Cerebral Palsy. So. Much. Wisdom. Besides her website, you can follow her on Twitter at @carolsblessings.
- For those who want to learn more about social media marketing and about podcasting, try Michael Stelzner and Cliff Ravenscraft. They are easy to find on Facebook and Twitter, but their usernames on Snapchat are @mikestelzner and @cliffeotc. They are both experts in their field – Michael is the founder of Social Media Examiner and Cliff is known as the Podcast Answer Man – and while their content isn’t about faith, it shows in the respectful way they treat people.
- While Cliff Ravenscraft rides long distances on his bike, Kelly Nash has been known to run more than four marathons in 24 hours. Find her on Facebook at Running with Kelly and be inspired to run the good race both physically and spiritually.
- Mike Gastin owns a design firm that handles everything from branding to video production, and he shares his advice for business owners and those interested in leadership and entrepreneurship through his blog, Twitter and podcast. For a glimpse into his life outside of work – including his wife’s beehives – follow him on Snapchat, where his username is @mikegastin. Two other people who are known for inspiring people in business are Lewis Howes, a former professional football player, and John Lee Dumas, an Army veteran. Both offer podcasts, webinars and plenty of interaction on Twitter and other social media platforms. Find them on Snapchat as @lewis_howes and @johnleedumas.
- Tara Howisey, A.K.A. The Radiant Goddess, is one of the first strangers I followed on Snapchat, and I’m glad I did. She describes herself as a bohemian-mystic, a fusion of Christianity and Taoism with a dash of Buddhism and Law of Attraction. Because she has a different faith background than I do, she explains spiritual principles in ways that are new to me. I always walk away with new vocabulary and imagery – and that’s helpful when I put it through the lens of my own faith. You can find her on Snapchat as @tarahowisey. She also recommends following @enthusiasticlay, who really promotes meditation and stillness on Snapchat, and @nikinpos, a makeup artist who shares the beauty of Positano in southern Italy every single day.
- Marshall Norgaard, a sociology student who plans to go to seminary, writes encouraging scriptures on sticky notes and posts them in public places. It’s fun to watch on Snapchat. Find him at @marshallscott.
- And while Marshall Norgaard leaves a scripture or two at a time, Blake Croft helps people pick out a new Bible, is active on Twitter and offers brief devotions on Snapchat – all with what feels like authentic friendship and admiration for those who follow him at @blakec432.
- You’ll like Tyler Speegle, too. He’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He writes about things like spiritual conviction and finding peace when you are uncomfortable. Good stuff. Important stuff.
- I’ve just started following Adam Powell this week mainly because he loves tacos, and I respect anyone who points that out in his profile. Turns out he’s also in ministry and a photographer, and I’m really enjoying what he says: The world is desperate right now for the person God has called you to be and We always want God to fix our circumstances. Sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He wants to fix our focus within our circumstances. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @RealAdamPowell. Look for the taco emoji.
Who else are we missing? Who should we add to the list?