nobody gets to sing my song

We all know that my dream side hustle would be to help authors launch their book babies into the world.  I blame Jen Hatmaker for making it such an amazing experience.  And while I’m not always timely with my reviews and updates about said books, I promise I’m bragging about them in my real life to my in person people.  All that to say, I’m long overdue to review this latest one, but better late than never right?
I had been following Jo Saxton via the internet for about a year before I was ever in the same room as her.  I had read parts of her book More than Enchanting and listened to her voice on the Lead Stories Podcast.  I had the privilege of attending the Lead Stories Live recording and a leadership conference that she had created for women.  After that I signed up to be a part of her launch team for The Dream of You: Let go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For.  I was so excited to read this book and from the moment I received it in the mail I started devouring it.  It’s taken me this long to be able to really process what to say about it other than, “Oh my goodness – read this book.”

“When our voice has been taken, we redirect our lives toward ‘more acceptable’ interests.  We excuse the damage caused by having been silenced by saying we are only being realistic.  We downplay our gifts and subdue our talents.  And instead of the life we were designed for, we live the life we think we can get away with.” – Jo Saxton, The Dream of You  (Emphasis added)

When I read the above portion I felt my heart drop into my stomach.  It was like looking into a mirror under the worst lighting while trying on clothes that are not right.  I think I actually had to put the book down for a few minutes before I could go on.
I have always been a wildly passionate person.  I have opinions and feelings about all the things.  Because of this, I have found that there are times when people don’t really know what to do with me.  I’ve been told I’m intimidating, off putting, too much, negative, etc.  I’ve been told that because of these things I’m insubordinate, I’ll be single forever, I’m not a godly woman, I’m not good enough, etc.
And while I’ve always known those things to be lies and not true about the person God created in me.  I’ve let them into my brain and into my heart.  I’ve allowed these messages (and many others having to do with my gender, my race, my singleness, and my broken pieces) silence my voice.
In The Dream of You, Jo calls these things for what they are – lies and stumbling blocks.  She battles insecurity with the truth of God’s love for us.  She replaces the lies of the world around us with the soft whisper of the Almighty who created us.  She calls out injustice and points to a God who longs to redeem even the most broken areas of our hearts and spirits.
Each chapter starts with a letter from Jo to all women who have ever felt as if they had to apologize for being who they are.  Then she dives deep into biblical narratives that help us to see God’s agency in our world.  Her vulnerability in sharing her own struggles in all of these areas and her wisdom gained from walking these difficult paths help us all to take a deep breath in and remember we are not alone.
The journey that Jo takes us on in this book is one of dismantling the coping mechanisms we’ve learned to live within.  As you read through the book, you’ll feel as though the weight of years of striving to measure up are falling off.  Then Jo helps us to see the tools to unlock our true God-given identities.  Jo helps us to imagine a whole where we are all encouraged to live exactly as we were meant to – in close community with our God who created us exactly as we are.
If there is one thing I know to be true it’s that God sent Jesus to walk this earth so that we may have life to the fullest.  So that we may be truly free.  The other thing that I know for sure is that there are forces at work trying to make sure we don’t live out of that freedom.  This book is a great tool in helping us remember that God sees each and every one of us.  It is a step toward letting God redeem your story.
*Blog title from Nichole Nordeman – “Sound of Surviving” off Every Mile Mattered 

I need your grace to remind me to find my own

This post is part of Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.
When I joined the Launch Team for For the Love I had no idea what I was about to come my way.  But I can honestly say now that I needed this.  I needed this community, I needed this encouragement and most of all, I needed this book.
Jen Hatmaker is a best-selling author who finds a way to balance hard hitting truth and laugh out loud humor. In this book she tackles a topic that so many women today struggle with – grace.  Grace for ourselves, grace for those around us and grace for the church.  She finds a way to help us shine a light on the competitive and judgemental habits we all have, whether within ourselves or with others.
We all know that it is hard to be a woman today.  Everywhere we look we see messages of how we are not good enough.  It sows within us insecurities and an edge of judgement and comparison.  We get caught up in the need to be the best at everything.  The best crafter, the best mother, the best wife, the best girlfriend, the most content single person, the best baker, the best cook, the best friend, and the list goes on and on.
I think there’s a lot of reasons why this happens.  Whether it be age old stereotypes and expectations on women, the increase of social media forcing us to display our best lives or even just the complications of the modern age, there is an invented standard of what it means to be a woman.
If you ever looked at your life and wondered if you’re doing it right, wondered if you were enough, wondered if you really had what it takes – this book is for you.  If you’ve ever been told that the key to life is balance but then struggled to find that unicorn known as balance than this book is for you.
Here’s a quote from Jen that further illustrates this:

But maybe if we reject the invented standard, if we stop fearing a “no” will end the world, if we pare our lives down to what is beautiful, essential, life-giving, if we refuse to guilt one another for different choices, and if we celebrate the ordinary accomplishments of Ordinary Good Hard Life, then we’ll discover there wasn’t a beam in the first place, that God’s kingdom never required a balancing act, and Jesus was in the fun foam pit all along. 

Jen helps us to reclaim the grace of God that has been freely given to us.  She gently reminds us that we are more than our current position in life.  She gives tips and encouragement to help us walk this road to rediscovering and fighting for that grace in our lives.  Both for ourselves and for others.
Every section of this book spoke truth into my life, into the life of my ministry as a pastor to families, and into the life of my own family.  It caused me to look deep down into my heart and strive for something better.
It also made me laugh out loud more than once, and more than once in public.  It’s sensible, witty and at times it’s just right.  This book is a way for us to open our eyes and see the beauty in ourselves and in others, the beauty that comes from being completely who God created us to be and not an ounce more or less.
I could go on and on, and in the coming weeks I just might, but for now you can read more about the book at or watch this video below to hear about it in Jen’s own words:
I encourage you to find a group of women and crack open this book together.  I promise you won’t be sorry you did.  I sure am not sorry that I found this group of 495 women and 4 men who have helped to launch this book.  I am not sorry I read this book and have found myself more centered and alive because of it.

close your eyes and see

Part of my goal this semester is to challenge myself outside of class through reading and devotional activities in order to not allow my faith to just be something I talk about in class, since there is a lot of that going on in Seminary, especially with me.  So at the beginning of the semester I said that i was going to read books that challenged me and that weren’t assigned by my professor.  I didn’t really start until Spring Break, and I did so on a whim…
The Monday of Spring Break I was at one of my babysitting jobs and sort of bored while the baby was sleeping and since it was Spring Break and I was leaving for Vegas later that night – I had brought no homework.  So I picked up a book that looked intriguing and started reading it, knowing nothing about the author or the book.  It’s called Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist.  That day I read the first third of the book.  The following Monday I read another third and tomorrow I’m looking forward to finish it.  The only reason I didn’t finish it last Monday was that I had hit an intense chapter which had made me do an internal “whoa” and therefore needed to stop and process for a bit.
The author is extremely honest and raw in this book.  She talks about her feelings and her relationships in a way that’s deeply real.  In her words I found a lot of myself, a lot of where I’ve been in these last few months.  Learning about grace and change the hard way.  I feel a strange connectedness to her, even though I’ve never met her and we live very different lives.  Still, her words touch my heart and make me look at myself in a different way.  It’s really intriguing.
I read a chapter called “Twenty-five” in which the author reflects on being twenty-five-ish.  She speaks in a way that’s encouraging about what it’s like to be in this age range.  It’s a time of life full of possibilities and yet it’s still oddly routine.  People my age live in a couple of different ways, some live in the mundane of everyday life, waiting for their lives to being.  They may be working a crappy job, still in school or whatever, they feel as though they are marking time until they get to whatever their life purpose is.  And others live into the adventure of life, they try new things, they live life loud and without hesitation.
Being in Seminary this year I find myself falling into that first category and it’s terribly saddening.  I didn’t used to be like this, how has life gotten so boring?  I miss the excitement of being passionate and enjoying life.  This chapter made me pause and take a hard look at myself, my faith, my relationships and where my life is going.  While I realized I’m not living like I would like to, I also realized there is time to change that and to reignite that fire in my heart.


At the airport before taking off to Vegas I picked up the book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs.   I feel as though I’m late in joining the Christian bandwagon of those who have read this book, although in my conversations here I realize a lot of people haven’t.  So I may be late on the Christian bandwagon and early on the Pastor-wannabes wagon…
Anyways, the basic premise of this book is that this guy who was formerly agnostic takes the challenge of trying to live the biblical laws literally for a year, and he documents it in this memoir.  I picked it up as a light read for being poolside in Vegas and have since realized, it is not a light read.  At times it’s super funny and just light-hearted, at other times it challenges my thinking on my faith and at the same time, fascinates me to see how others may view this faith of mine.
Throughout the course of the book he meets with various pastors, rabbis and extremists in the faith to discuss the laws.  It’s been a crazy read to hear stories of the various things people believe and to wonder where and how this faith tradition has changed so drastically.  It’s also very interesting to hear his point of view as someone learning about these things for the first time as an adult.  We often read bible stories from the old testament and think, “Yeah, I learned about this in Sunday school” and just accept the weirdness, but this author reads it from the adult perspective of “I’m sorry, what??”

In a lot of ways it is making me think more and more about evangelism and how to approach biblical conversations with those who have grown up outside of the church.  It’s a really interesting perspective, and I’m glad I picked it up.  And I’m only about a third of the way into his year!!


So here’s where I’m at….  I’m fighting to rediscover my passion for life and the things God has for me.  I’m hoping that a few things coming up will help to aid in that as well as a few changes I’ve made in my everyday life.  I’m hoping that in this season I can dig in deeper and try to really connect with God and my identity in him.  I’ll keep ya updated on how it’s going.

I remember when we were driving, driving in your car

I just finished this book called Angry Conversations with God by Susan E. Isaacs. I remember seeing this book in the HCC bookstore a couple times and thinking the cover was cute but never felt like reading it. Then on a whim I put a hold on it at the library (my new favorite thing btw, the library) and last week I got an e-mail saying it was in. So I picked it up. I was excited to read it, but I had no idea how amazing it was going to be.
Basically, without getting too far into it, Susan chronicles her journey including (but not limited to) finding a church, trying to be an actress, finding her “calling in life,” and finding a man. It is an unbelievably honest story of faith and struggling to figure out what it all means. I found it refreshing that she was really open about the fact that through most of her story she didn’t have the answers. It was great, seriously… go pick it up and read it.
But this isn’t a book review, so I’ll get to my point. Last night I was reading the last couple chapters when I came across a passage that kind of knocked the wind out of me …. metaphorically speaking that is. She had just had coffee (or was it lunch?) with an ex-boyfriend and had finally getting the “closure” that she had longed for with him. But for some reason she found herself in her car, crying. We’ve all been there right? (I’m not just talking about relationships here). Something happens and it sucks. But we say that it’s for the best, but we can’t help but second guess it all. Whether it’s good or bad, we are hurt and it sucks. Then I read this passage:
“I thought I was over him! So why did my heart still rip? Why did I still feel this sorrow? I got this strange sensation that God was with me. And he was angry. He was very angry–not at me and not at Jack. God was angry at the pain I was going through. I wondered if that was why God hated sin, because of the destruction it caused. For a moment I felt awe for a God who loved me enough to hate the things that hurt me without hating me for causing them. “
I know that God hurts when we are hurt by others for no good reason. He cries for us in our pain because he’s a loving Father. But does he really hate the pain even when we may have caused it ourselves? When we have backed ourselves into the corner and we are looking at the mess we’ve made, is God still angry that we’re going through that pain? Does God have the capability to hate the things that hurt us without hating us for causing them?
The answer is a resounding yes. God hates sin – true. God hates it because of the destruction it causes in our lives – true. But does God watch us screw up our lives and then sit back as we cry and say, “well Alicia, I told you so. I told you that if you did that, it would hurt.” No. He leans in and holds us in that pain, even when we did it to ourselves.
That blows me away, because even the best people in my life get frustrated when I screw up. There is no perfect person who doesn’t feel a twinge of desire to do an “I told you so” dance when someone messes up. Parents don’t watch you wreck a car and say, “I’m sorry you feel bad that you were texting and didn’t see that the traffic stop ahead of you” … at least not at first.
So this concept is foreign to us. The thought that Our God, creator of the universe, would have the ability to hate the pain we are in without hating us for putting ourselves in that place. I think that is pretty freaking amazing, if you ask me. And quite a revelation in my life at that.
You see I have plenty experience with the unfair kind of hurt. The kind that I didn’t bring upon myself but rather was ‘dealt’ to me. I know that God hates that kind of hurt in my life. No question. But I’ve always thought that when I’m mess up, when I invite that kind of pain into my life, that God just kind of sits back and lets me work it out on my own. I mean He’s not totally hands off, I know God is always present, he’s always with me. But I kind of have that feeling that when I have made a mess that God is … well, less than pleased because I knew it was going to end badly and I did it anyway. I spat in his face, I allowed myself to go there and now I have to clean up the mess. That’s why this revelation is so beautiful.
I’m not here confessing some sinful life that I’ve fallen into. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Even though I do struggle with the fact that I have been unemployed for a grand total of 7 weeks, I am really enjoying my Old testament class. I am having a blast diving deep into the scriptures and learning. I miss my friends in KC, but I am loving reconnecting with my old friends.
No matter what though, we all have our doubts about the way that things have come about. The decisions we’ve made and the consequences we’re experiencing because of those decisions. It’s nice to know though, when you’re feeling alone because you’ve backed yourself into that corner, that you’re not alone.