d322831684d2e40d09d5c4c019271733

Something About Mary

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Friday, as I was traipsing through the City finishing some last minute tasks, I met a homeless woman.

She was sitting on a crate outside a busy Chipotle on Broadway. With every passerby, she’d say “Merry Christmas, can you please help me with some spare change?” Most people ignored her. Including me. Continue reading

secular-book

Book Review + Giveaway: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus For Those Who Don’t Believe*
By Tom Krattenmaker
245 pp. Convergent Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC $25

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus For Those Who Don’t Believe by Award-Winning USA Today Columnist Tom Krattenmaker is an honest assessment of one’s personal and spiritual development into, around, and out of the Christian faith.

As a person who has been a Christian all of her life (in varying degrees — those twenties were tough years), I acknowledge my biases toward Jesus. I am biased. I think He’s dope. He’s the reason I do what I do. “Christian” is a label I wear proudly and take seriously. But I also hold in tension the way Christianity has been an invasive, violent force in the world. Its doctrine and believers have used its theology to oppress marginalized people for centuries and touts itself as a moral and social ideal to be reached. Christianity has propelled itself as a money-making-machine that often capitalizes on the very people who the religion says for which we should be working. Christianity pits its own followers against each other — singles against married folk, the poor against the wealthy, the uneducated against the degreed.

Yet, I still self-identify as a Christian. And for Krattenmaker, it was those aforementioned divisions that make his affinity for Christianity non-existent. Continue reading

union

Clear the Clutter: A Focus on Vocation

Inspired by my blog, Leaving Room, where I explored the idea of clearing the clutter in our lives to make room for God to do new and innovative things, I gave an hour-long talk at Union Theological Seminary about clearing the clutter to focus on vocation. How do we begin to clear the voices, the opinions, the social pressure to be (insert occupation here) when we hear God calling us in a different direction?

The good people at Union Theological Seminary recorded the audio from the talk and you can find it by clicking here. Attendees’ questions and answers are also featured! A note: the audio is a little distorted so turn down your speakers a bit before clicking play!

We had such a great time talking and thinking through the possibilities of vocation. I share my story of how my dream to move to New York was ten years in the making, why saying “no” to opportunities that crowded my vocational aspirations set me up for the perfect “yes,” and why taking a leap of faith requires more of God than it does of us!

Much thanks to Union Seminary and the  Vo/Career Initiative for inviting me to speak! If you’re interested in having me do a talk around vocation at your college, church, or small group click here!

On the Vocational Chase,

Alisha L.

dwell

DWELL

I’m often asked to contribute to projects of all kinds, many of which I say “no” to because writing takes more energy (and time) than most realize.

But when I was asked to contribute to Dwell: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Devotion and Prayer, the “yes” couldn’t have come faster! Raising an 11-year-old daughter is quite a feat; I’m always looking for resources, books, magazines that will help shape her life as a young Christian in fun, relevant, not-judgy kind of ways. Dwell seemed to be just the thing I’d want my daughter to read so I wrote for them. Continue reading

leaving-room

Leaving Room

Today is my 34th birthday and I’ll be spending most of the day participating in a seminar hosted by the United Methodist Women on mass incarceration. Lead by three of my dynamic colleagues at the CCUN (Church Center for the United Nations), I’m running over with gratitude that my birthday will be spent learning about this work.

Lissen, my birthday’s used to be spent with hangovers. Which ain’t totally out the picture, but today we learn! >.<

Anyway, I wanted to write a quick word on leaving room.

People who garden know what it means to leave room for vegetables to grow properly so they may expand and reach their peak without being crushed by the presence of a wall or other veggies.

Whenever I bake cookies (like, the refrigerated, pre-made kind), the package always says to “leave room” between the cookies so they too can expand and reach their full potential of chocolate, gooey goodness.

After graduating seminary last year, I was left scrambling trying to figure out what to do with my career. None of the dozens of jobs I had applied for my last semester had panned out and, with my 33rd birthday around the corner, I had no idea what I was doing with my life.

Eventually, I stopped looking for jobs and said, “I’m going to leave room for what God wants to do.” Now, this meant that I would be a full time freelancer, using my gifts of writing and editing to make ends meet, piecemealing my life one contract job at a time, but I felt like that was the way to go.

By September, I  received two offers to go back to the classroom, one in my old stomping grounds of Douglasville, Georgia, the other for a KIPP School in Arkansas. Both offers were good (and the principals/leaders were relentless about bringing me on :)) — but I turned both down.

This was an act of leaving room for what God wanted to do (even though I didn’t know what that was at the time.) I knew that if I took those jobs, I wouldn’t be able to lean into anything that came my way that was more in line with my call to write, teach, and travel for Jesus. I’d be stuck behind a desk teaching kids, needing lots of time off to honor commitments I hadn’t even made yet.

Wouldn’t you know that by October, I would have a paid speaking gig for every month through January 2016? I’d speak at Allume in Greenville, travel to Palestine, and host of other opportunities. In November, I’d get the call to give the convocation address at Florida A&M University and Iowa State University. By January, I had booked to speak/travel somewhere every month through April 2016.

But what does all of this say about leaving room in your life?

We often fill our lives up with stuff because we are afraid. We are afraid we won’t have enough to live and take care of our families. We are afraid because we’ve been told for so long that the path we’re on is the path we’re supposed to take. It’s safe. It’s familiar. We take on jobs and situations simply because we feel like if we leave too much room for God to do something else that we might just have to rely on God more than we’ve ever done before.

We crowd our lives with so much stuff that we can’t make sense of what’s necessary to stay and what isn’t. You ever been in someone’s home that has way too much furniture in it? Every square inch has some piece of decor, furniture, personal belonging: it consumes the place, sucking the potential for life and light to be present.

But more often than not, we are afraid to leave room because there are people in our ear telling us to do so is a “bad idea.” Especially people who are close to us.

Some folks tried to tell me turning down those two teaching jobs were a bad idea. But I recognize now that they too, were afraid. Afraid of what it may mean for them to leave room in their lives for God to do something brand new if I did.

Here’s the word for today: leave room for what God is about to do in your life. Leave room for growth, for new opportunities, for your life to expand and take new shape today. Resist the temptation to fill your life with sub-par people just to say you got somebody. Resist the need to say yes to things simply because you’re afraid that what you currently have in your hands isn’t enough. It is.

When we leave room for God we leave room for us to GROW and EXPAND. Like a healthy garden or store-bought refrigerated cookie dough, when given a little room, can reach its highest potential if we just leave a little room.

On the Chase,

Alisha L.

hero_slide_1

What I’ve Learned: A Week in New York

‘Bout a week ago [insert Shmoney Dance] I moved to New York.

giphy

 

I preached about this 12 year journey  here. Since my move, I’ve learned a few things. Like to hear it? Here it go:

    1. People tell you how to get places through cardinal directions. “Go north on so-and-so.” “Take the southwest train exit.” Where I’m from, we tell folks to go “left” or “right.” You don’t realize you don’t know directions well until someone tells you to go “north” and you look at them like “what that mean?”
      black-girl-meme-or-nah-21

2. $1 pizza slices will really save your life. My diet has consisted of $1 pizza slices, coffee, and more $1 pizza slices (don’t worry: I walk 10,000 steps a day most days.)
It’s a beautiful sight is to see people of all races, from business men and women to starving artists, standing outside the pizza stand, slices folded, scarfing them down in harmony. It’s a beautiful thing.

3. I haven’t mastered walking fast with coffee in my hand. I tried that on my first day of work. Epic fail. It really is a skill.

4. Speaking of walking fast: this city reeeaaally forces you to use your body. You’re walking while dodging people, things, doors, climbing steps, trying not to fall down steps, gripping MTA train poles while holding your bags and cell phone: A LOT.

5. Street harassment is real. I’ve always known this but really underestimated how often women get harassed on the streets. In Atlanta, we don’t have nearly as many face-to-face interactions with strangers as people do here. We go from car, to building, to car again. Here? You’re always in spaces with strangers — all the time. Street harassment is real.

6. Apartments are small. Really. Not a rumor.

7. I don’t really understand why g-r-e-e-n-w-i-c-h is pronounced “GREH-nich.”

8. I also don’t understand why “h-o-u-s-t-o-n” is pronounced “HOW-ston.

9. Sallie Mae and Navient will find you in New York.

10. People are nice. Not “sweet tea and biscuits” nice, but “black coffee and plain bagels” nice. Won’t give you a sugary warm feeling but it’s enough to get you going and send you on your way. People really want to help you because they know this can be a tough city to navigate. Just don’t expect much coddling in the process.

🙂

But most importantly, I’ve learned that I can do anything I put my mind to. I’ve always known that about myself but the last week has been quite the reminder.

Week one of New York living complete! I deserve a bagel. With Lox!

Love + miss y’all,

Alisha L.