Tag Archives: public speaking

Storytalk Training #1

Storytalk Training

Once upon a time, my parents were born and raised in the same area of Ohio. My mother wasn’t raised by Christians, and didn’t become a Christian until she was a young teenager, I believe. She started going to Saint John’s Lutheran church in Grove City, Ohio. She loved the leaders of the youth program, Gary and Laurie Pecuch. After my parents graduated from high school, my dad joined the Army. They got married and then spent 23 years moving all over the place. They moved back to their hometown. Gary and Laurie were still at St. John’s. My mother became the youth director and worked alongside them.

Crazy, huh?!

Anyway, they have a great leadership training program for their teens, and every year they have camp that allows the teens to practice their “faith skills.” That includes stuff like praying over a meal, facilitating Bible studies, planning a worship service, etc. This year’s rotation includes something we call “storytalks,” which is really beginning lessons in public speaking. It is the most pain-free way I have ever seen speaking taught. The beauty of this camp is that it is a safe place, where one is surrounded by friends and encouraging mentors, where one is challenged to grow.

I have the privilege of leading worship for that week this year, along with one of the teens who plays guitar.

Anyway, I thought I would use this blog to work on an introductory talk.

The First Storytalk: Introducing Yourself

Hello! I’m Sarah Smith. And I’m a pastor. I am a small group leader. I’m a wife. I am the den mother for the Bible quizzing team. I am a baker and chef. I have a college degree. I am a child of God.

My personality type is a smoother-over, a peacekeeper, a protector, a corrector, a stick-in-the-mud, a rule-follower, a movie-quoter, and a calmer. I do like to get in the way or ride roller coasters. I do not like to hear stories about serious illnesses. I do not like coconut or pranks. I hate cleaning bath tubs. I am terrified of inclines when I am driving our stick-shift Mustang. I am not good at saying the right thing at the right time.

You may not remember these random facts about me. But you may remember me.

Me. The one who laughed at your joke. The one who prayed before she ate. The one who sings all the time. The one who thinks you are really cool. The one who totally read that book too and doesn’t get it either. The one who ate everything with chopsticks that one year. The one who said, “You can do it! I believe in you.” The one who said, “I’m so glad you came to camp!”

I am leaving a legacy. I am keeping the faith.

I am Sarah Smith.


Laurie and I

Laurie Pecuch and I at my wedding shower.

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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking


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Not a Piecrust Promise

Okay guys, I want to be a more consistent blogger. And hopefully narrow my theme.

There are so many things I am passionate about: baking, singing, drinking tea, hospitality, Christian camps, Christian ministry, Church history, reading, kids’ movies, flowers, living wisely, composting/recycling, reading, etc. How do I decide which to focus on?

So I have decided to challenge myself to write a blog post here for 30 days straight. You guys have to be my witness and keep me accountable. I will try to write about all kinds of things I am interested in. Hopefully, I will find that I really click with a certain topic. Otherwise, I may find that blogging really isn’t my thing. Or, even more scarily, that I am not your kind of thing. Perhaps there is nothing I could say here that others would find useful.


Really, that is why I continued to keep this blog.

Originally, it was set up for when I left for college. Then I hoped it would help chronicle my study-abroad trip to Uganda, which (as you know) didn’t happen. I got so anxious about leaving the continent, I ended up giving myself serious anxiety/panic problems, which triggered IBS, which I still have (as well as a ridiculous number of allergens). What this blog lacked was a purpose: a focus.

As I am ADD, that is trouble enough to keep a hold of already.

But the reason I started this and the reason it remains is this: I have a voice. I am worth hearing.

I have always had trouble believing this. I like to blame the fact that I am a middle child, a peacekeeper, and agree-er. I like to take in information and understand things. Oh, how I love to learn. To become proficient–even, to become a resource that can answer others’ questions. But that assumes that I have the nerve to speak up.

I have a younger brother who is bigger than I am. Before he was bigger than I am, he was louder than I am. I can be rather timid and easily frightened. He liked to argue with our mom, because he thought he was always right and that she was being unfair in her rulings (This mostly took place while my dad was deployed in Iraq). Long story short, they would argue. I would try to show him why she was right, and be logical and fair. But since that is not what he wanted to hear, he would turn on me and brusquely say things like, “Who asked you?” and “I didn’t think you were part of this conversation” and “Just stop talking.” Sufficiently cowed, I would retreat to my room and turn up my radio and silently promise myself that I would never butt in or get involved again.

The problem was, I started to believe that I had nothing important to say, and even worse, that my words did not matter. I thought that while I was great at taking words in, I would never have the charisma/extroversion or bravery to let words out. I am ordinary, and *gasp* do not have an unchangeable/definite opinion to offer at any given moment. I struggle with speaking extemporaneously (without preparing for it). I hate when I trip my words up in everyday conversation, because others laugh, and I am ever more convinced that words should not escape my lips. I can’t think very quickly when verbally asked a question, and I am terrified of looking more a fool than I feel.

God called me into ministry, and the first I told God was “just don’t ask me to preach.” But God did. And I do. With much preparation and a manuscript.

This blog is my way of rehabilitating myself, I think.

I know that I cannot fix myself. I know that only God can heal those wounds and help me forgive. I know that only God speaking to me, reminding me that I am God’s special creation and dearly loved, commanding me to speak, will actually coax me into the vulnerability and bravery that it would take for me to speak up more.

This is just a tool.

This free space, along with the few and far between readers who listen in on my musings, is where I remind myself that if I have something to say, that I am worth hearing. I am worth someone’s time.

And that is why I am promising to you that I will write every day for a month. I’m doing it for me.

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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking


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