time after time I hit rewind

Today I’m linking up with Mrs. Disciple for her #FridayFive because I simply cannot help myself.  This week’s prompt is Smiles – and well, that makes me smile.
Pouring the cheese on with that one – but I simply do not care.  Here are five things in the last few weeks that have made me genuinely smile.

#FridayFive: Things that make me smile

Small children saying my name

In general, when a kid learns how to say my name, it absolutely melts my heart.  But there’s a specific subcategory of this one recently that is just killing it.  Right after I became a pastor of my church a whole slew of families at our church announced they were expecting.  As in five families, which in our church of 120 is a lot.  When these kids entered our world they were my first hospital visits in this call.  They were my first baptisms and dedications in this call.  They all hold a very special place in my heart.  These kids are now about 18 months and starting to talk.  I have recently heard my first “Pastor Alicia” from one of them and I couldn’t help but smile.  Okay – it was more like “P-tor Lesh-a” but I’m counting it.  There’s a special relationship that blossoms from being a pastor to young kids and that moment when they reciprocate the relationship is nothing short of a holy moment.

Post surgery wake up

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have undoubtedly seen pictures of one of my students.  She received a kidney transplant from her mom a couple of weeks ago.  She’s had some non-kidney issues that have kept her in the hospital and last night she had another surgery to take care of business.  I was lucky enough to be present during both surgeries.  Last night’s surgery was a long one.  We paced the halls and waited for the good news.  After it finally came, it was a little bit of a wait until we got to see her.  When I came into the recovery area, I spoke quietly to her.  Made my way up to the side of the bed and as I touched her hand she opened her eyes and looked at me.  I couldn’t help but smile.  She gave me a brief smile and while she probably won’t remember that moment, I’ll treasure it.  It’s one thing to get news that the surgery went well but it’s a completely other to get to see her, touch her hand and praise God that everything went well.


As someone who lives far away from a lot of people she loves, I’m a huge fan of technology.  But this week what brought me a smile is my Roomsmate.  Two years ago she moved back to California. I miss her more than words can say.  She was my confidante, my partner in crime and the best roommate.  But with technology we get to talk every day.  Whether it be silly snapchats, texts, gmail chat, FaceTime or twitter, we are still living life together.  This week she sent me an article to read that she had loved, it gave words to things I had been feeling for a long time.  I’m amazed that even from more than a thousand miles away she is still challenging me and helping me to see God’s hand in my life.  So maybe this one is less about Technology and more about her deep loving friendship.

Meghan Trainor

I’ve been a long time fan of Meghan Trainor.  But she recently released a new song and it cemented my love for her for a few reasons.  First of all, the song “Me Too” is all about loving yourself and your body.  I’m all about promoting positive self-talk.  Secondly, when her video released she saw that she had been heavily photoshopped in it.  She called all the people in command and took the video off the internet.  She approved and re-released the video unphotoshopped.  She’s not the first celebrity to take a stand on photoshopping but this week, that made me smile.  Lastly, in her recent performance on the Tonight show, she fell at then end, because her heels were CRAZY high.  She made it through a whole dance break without falling, but turning around at the end was what made her fall.  And she had the perfect reaction to it – she laid on the floor and laughed.  Keep doing you, Meghan.

Graduation Announcements

It’s that time of year again!  I’m loving seeing what my students come up with for their graduation announcements.  But this year also marks a very special year of graduation.  I’ll be traveling home next week for the graduation of my dear (adopted) little brother.  His mom was my boss in my first internship.  They moved to my home town when he was little.  Very little.  I once wrote about him in a blog saying that if he asked me to give him my car I’d give it to him – he was that cute as a kid.  This year he graduates from high school.  I cannot believe this is where we’re at.  He and his family are like my second family, related by the blood of Christ.  I got a huge grin opening his announcement and even now as I anticipate a trip home to celebrate him.

What’s made you smile this week?

she is messy but she's kind

The last two weeks of Lead Stories Podcast have been about empowering women.  They shared a couple of interviews with women who are leading in some cool ways down in Florida and this week they shared five tips on how to empower women.  For today’s #TuesdaysinLeadership I thought I’d share some stories of how I’ve been empowered by others.
One of the tips that Steph and Jo shared this week was to know the people you are empowering.  Jo shared a story that instead of asking her to speak, someone once just put her in the program.  This person knew that she would overthink the ask, so they went ahead and put her down.  This person was a good friend and knew her well enough to know that would be okay.
I’ve <thankfully> never had that happen to me.  But I’ve had people take a chance on me, give me the opportunity to do something a little out of my comfort zone that ends up being a great gift.  Two years ago I was contacted by the director of one of our area camps, asking me to come be the pastor of the week that summer.  It would include speaking 5 times and just generally being available to the staff and campers as a pastoral figure.
I was really nervous.  I had never done something like this, even though I’ve always dreamed of it.  I’d love to speak more than I do.  I believe it’s a gift I’ve been given – to be able to communicate God’s Word in an accessible way.  But at the time I was pretty fresh into my first full time pastoral role.  It’s hard to break into the speaking game, especially as a young woman.
But this camp director took a chance on me.  He has known me since I was in high school.  He was on staff at my home church for a year and we ended up serving in the same conference.  Even though he had never heard me speak, he was asking me to come be a part of what he was doing at camp.
It was an incredible week.  It really helped me as a speaker not to mention it was really fun.  The director continued to encourage me and has asked me back to speak twice.
Sometimes as women we have the tendency to second guess ourselves.  We wonder if we really are good at specific aspects of our jobs.  Opportunities arise to us and we consider turning them down because we are not sure we are qualified.  This is why it’s so important to have people in our lives that speak truth – truth from God – into our lives.
I’m so thankful that there have been a series of people who have taken a chance on me.  Who have given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise to help grow in my skills as a leader.  This is not limited to speaking opportunities, I’ve been given opportunities to be a behind the scenes person at events or to help speak into parts of retreats.
I’m still learning how to do this well for others now.  I want to be able to take my own influence and empower women as well.  It’ll come with time I am sure.  But I think God for the people who have walked before me, blazing the path for women in leadership and then have turned around to help me along the path.

Who’s empowered you lately?  And who could you in turn empower in your life?

what if I don't wanna be like you?

It’s time for another installment of Tuesdays in Leadership.  (New working title)
I mentioned our Confirmation Sunday in my last post.  We had 11 students be confirmed, which is a record for our church.  Each of the 11 stood before our congregation and shared stories of their faith journey.  They did so in a language all their own – some through video, dance, pictures, drawings, words.  It was a beautiful expression of God’s beauty in creation.  Each of these students was created by God, called by God and are answering that call in their own unique ways.
Last week’s episode of Lead Stories Podcast was on finding your voice in leadership.  Jo and Steph talked through resources to help leaders find and use their voices.  So I thought I’d write a little about what it looked like to find my voice as a leader.
I’ve written before about how I feel like I’m a bit of an outsider.  I’ve had a hard time finding a place where I feel completely comfortable – completely able to be myself. I can name some of that as coming from my family of origin, some of it comes from being biracial, some of it comes from moving around a lot and honestly, some of it comes from being a pastor.
This made finding my voice as a leader difficult.  I struggled with confidence, which I know realize is something we all struggle with – or at least most of us.  I so wanted to be like these women I admired – real and fictional – who seemed to just know who they were.  I always struggled to figure it out.
I struggled the most when I went to seminary.  I was so unsure of myself and my call.  I knew I was called but I was so intimidated by my classmates who seemed to have this unwavering faith in themselves.  I remember writing in a paper how I questioned whether or not my voice mattered.  I got the paper back a week later and my professor had underlined that sentence and in the margin he wrote, “Your voice matters.”
The real story of finding my voice is found through the mentors I have had in my life.  Men and women who have pointed out moments of leadership and told me that I mattered.  In some of my most formative years the message I received over and over again contradicted that important message.  I never felt like I fit and therefore I didn’t matter.  I’d place my trust in something or someone and get my heart and spirit broken.
This new message of people telling me that I mattered, that what I had to say was good, that was new for me.  During that time I started to root myself in the Creator.  I was learning how to look at my story and see Him more than I saw brokenness.  I started to see that being an outsider gave me a unique perspective.
I found my voice not by trying to fit in but rather by accepting that I never would.  I didn’t need to find that community that I fit into, I needed to find a community that loved me for the person I was – both created by God and shaped by my experience.  I had to learn that comparing my misfit life to others wouldn’t make me happy.  My voice was found in accepting myself and accepting who God was calling me to be.
Just as Jo and Steph shared some things they’ve learned along the way, here are a couple of things I’ve learned along the way:

Guard your heart

Not everyone around you is a safe person.  I’m not saying this to be cynical, but rather to say that when it comes to leading others – it can be a lonely task.  There’s a fine line between being a vulnerable leader (which is important) and being a hot mess.  Sometimes finding and keeping your voice means limiting the people who get to see and speak to your whole heart.

Root yourself in God

We can do nothing apart from Him.  The sooner we see that he is the one who we should focus on the sooner we will be speaking his truths.  Find what works for you as far as being rooted in him and make sacrifices to do those things regularly.

Let others speak truth into your life

I’ve had some amazing people say some really hard things to me.  They are trusted advisors, people who know my heart and have walked the journey with me.  They don’t sugar coat it when I need to hear it.  Because they have walked the journey with me, it doesn’t hurt (as much) but rather inspires me to do better.

Broaden your perspective

Read books.  Listen to podcasts.  Attend conferences.  Even if an opinion differs from your own, listen to it with an open mind and allow it to speak to you.  Sometimes a challenging person will allow you to see God clearer and change you or keep you where you’re at.
I’m still fighting for my voice everyday, but these are just a few things I think I’ve learned from this journey.  What about you?

Where are you on this journey to finding your voice?