Today, Nicole speaks to us about Iridescent Women.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: Most of my childhood was spent in Tucson, Arizona. When I was in high school, our family also did a short stint in Phoenix, Arizona and Ashland, Oregon. I grew up with two loving parents and one older sister. We adored food, books, laughter; and teasing each other was a sort of love language in our family. My parents were both hardworking and generous, and instilled in me a strong work ethic and willingness to help and serve those around me. My mom and dad believed in me and my sister, and they modeled resilience and perseverance for us both.
There’s so much I am grateful for when I look back on my childhood, but still, we had our struggles. From the time I was born until around the age of ten, my father was an alcoholic. After he courageously quit drinking (truly, one of the greatest gifts he gave our family), he continued to wrestle with issues of anger and control for a number of years.
I grew up in a home with a lot of love, but also a lot of heartbreak. Over the years, I’ve had to come to terms with the ways my childhood shaped how I see myself, how I trust others, and ultimately how I view and connect with God. Jesus has been so gracious to me, and continues to heal wounds, repair my childlike faith, and has restored and deepened the love and connection I have with my family now.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I feel like this answer changes for me at least once a week! But for now it’s Mark 7:37 NIV:
People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He [Jesus] has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
In the Aramaic, it could also be translated, “He has made everything beautiful.” I love that thought! Jesus is making everything beautiful in my life!
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Growing a childlike faith in God the Father.
You are the CEO and co-founder of Iridescent Women. What inspired this project and what do you hope to achieve through it? At the beginning of 2018, my dear friend and now business partner, Alex Brown, and I paused from our busy schedules (with lattes in hand, of course) to sit down and dream together. It was awesome! I highly recommend making space to dream with friends who share similar passions. In our case, our commonality came in the form of championing women.
Both of our individual careers/ministry had already involved investing in young women. I had worked for a decade and a half in ministry, while paving a path for other women and taking every opportunity to mentor young female pastors and ministry leaders along the way. And Alex, after studying theater and working alongside a company of women in fashion, founded an organization in Australia that took what she had seen in these industries and developed a course for high school girls that focused on building confidence and self-worth.
But we knew it was time to do more! With the latest wave of extraordinary female empowerment shaping society, we truly felt called to create a space for women to explore what it really means to live empowered and to pioneer––to bring hope and healing into the world.
We wanted to make something that truly represented the diversity and uniqueness of women and spoke to the relevant issues women face today.
A few months later, after many long hours of working and planning that was sustained by a phenomenal team of women and ridiculous amounts of caffeine, Iridescent Women launched as an online community of women committed to awakening brilliance within each other!
You may be thinking, why the name “Iridescent”? And is that really how you spell that?
Yes, that is how you spell it. Iridescent has a very special meaning for us. Iridescent describes an effusion of luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles. When light hits it from every angle, it shines a different color: just like women. We truly believe that when the light of Jesus Christ shines on a woman, her brilliance becomes multi-faceted and her potential uncontainable. We are committed to speaking to that potential.
Our website is designed with this in mind as a platform created for women, by women. With every new published article and video women get to hear from other women sharing their real experiences, inspirational stories and practical insights to encourage and empower each other. We also host The Iridescent Podcast together, which is a space where we interview extraordinary women who make an impact through their careers, relationships, politics, culture, health and wellness, creativity, fashion and more. You name it, and chances are we have plans to talk about it! We also keep our subscribers up to date with events and news stories in our world impacting women. And we’ve partnered with amazing female-led businesses and brands to offer exclusive discounts to our subscribers!
We recently released our first book: “The Iridescent Challenge: 21 Days of Flexing Your Female Strength” to help women cultivate wellness, pursue their purpose, and make a difference in the world. I feel in many ways like we are just getting started, and we are blown away that in such a short amount of time we have grown to a global community. I love hearing stories of women who have been impacted by Iridescent in some way! It makes every day and every challenge we overcome worth it.
“With the latest wave of extraordinary female empowerment shaping society, we truly felt called to create a space for women to explore what it really means to live empowered and to pioneer––to bring hope and healing into the world.”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I Have Too Many Tabs Open!: Learning a Rhythm of Grace in the Chaos
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I grew up in a home where we believed in the existence of God, but we weren’t particularly religious. I was baptized Catholic because that was what everyone did in our family. And my parents sent me and my older sister to a Catholic private school because they wanted to offer us the best education they could, and they worked overtime and saved every penny to make that possible. So every week at school, I attended Catholic mass. Every morning I prayed the Our Father. And every week I went to religion class. I knew the name of Jesus very well, but the person of Jesus eluded me.
For the first part of my life, I believed in the existence of God, but assumed He was too busy, too holy, and too distant by nature to pay much attention to me.
The only problem was that I needed someone’s attention. I felt alone, overlooked, and scared. I was starting to believe I would never be noticed. That there was no one to take care of me, but me. I was a kid who was losing her innocence quickly, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Then when I was twelve years old, I went to a camp for kids with a local church in Tucson, Arizona called Grace Chapel. I remember wanting to go because it would be a break from my family. For a few days, I could just be a kid who hung out with her friends. And then one night during one of the evening chapel services at the camp, during some really poorly sung praise and worship songs (like, I’m tone deaf- if I can tell something is off, it’s bad.) something miraculous happened. In the midst of the lame music and the group of kids singing along, for the first time in my life I became aware of the presence of God.
In that moment, God was not distant anymore. And I remember so clearly realizing two things: that God loved me, and He had a plan for my life. For some of you that may sound elementary, and perhaps something you’ve heard a thousand times in church environments before. But for me, these were revolutionary. It was like I felt singled out in that room by Perfect Love. I felt seen. I was noticed, and not just by anyone, but by God Himself. He was no longer just this historical figure hanging on a cross; He was the God who loved me enough to hang on that cross for me. He loved me. He had great plans for me. Right then, I decided to follow Jesus, and I’ve never looked back!
“I was noticed, and not just by anyone, but by God Himself.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? My relationship with God continually changes me! Before I knew Jesus, I was dead in my sin and lost in fear. Jesus has given me eternal life, and now I live every day as a child of God. My sense of self, of purpose, of love, of hope, of truth all comes from Christ.
As I have followed Jesus over the years, He has faithfully healed the broken places of my heart, and He continues to show me how perfect His love and His ways are. My desires continue to evolve, and more and more the measure of success for me is becoming more like Jesus and serving others. I don’t think I’ll ever arrive at a place where I am fully done growing and becoming. Every day is a new opportunity to yield to Jesus and live empowered by the Holy Spirit. Following Jesus is a wild, wonderful, humbling adventure. And truly, I am continually amazed that God has saved someone as ordinary and flawed as me! But that’s what makes His grace so amazing!
“Following Jesus is a wild, wonderful, humbling adventure.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? My church begins every year with 21 days of praying and fasting. This time has been crucial to the development of my faith for this new year and new decade. During prayer, I’ve been able to address seeds and weeds of unbelief and timidity in my heart. I’ve drawn near to God in a very intentional way at the beginning of this year, and simply resting in His goodness. It’s been both liberating and strengthening for me so far.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing, a 2018 novel by Delia Owens. I couldn’t put it down. It was one of the most riveting pieces of fiction I have read in a very long time.
Top three essentials: My Bible, my iPhone, and my laptop.
How did God speak to you recently? Yesterday, during worship at church, I felt like the Holy Spirit reminded me that He is intentionally putting me in spaces and calling me to things that are so outside my ability or strength that every moment of progress, blessing and breakthrough God will absolutely get all the glory. It’s all for His glory anyways, and feeling out of my depth when stepping out in faith is the sweet spot in my life for God to show off!
What is your favorite spot in NYC? Sitting on my couch at home with my husband looking out at the NYC skyline. There really is no place like home.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
–Spend time in God’s Word every day. In a world filled with busyness and distraction, spending time reading the Bible will create sacred space in your daily life to hear God’s voice, connect with your Creator, receive power from the Holy Spirit and be transformed by truth! I am so passionate about this, and have experienced so much personal transformation through time in Scripture, that I’ve created Bible reading companions to help people read through books of the Bible at their own pace in a way that deepens their faith and brings tangible change to their everyday lives. You can learn more here.
–Invest in Christ-centered community. The friendships and relationships you invest in the most will can absolutely cause you to soar in your faith! So be wise with who you spend time with, and make sure in the messiness of relationships you continue to commit to showing and receiving Christ’s love through those closest to you.
–Serve others. It’s amazing how much we can grow simply by choosing to live beyond ourselves. Be quick to meet needs, not for recognition or applause, but simply to become more like Christ. Seek to develop a heart of compassion for others, and choose to help, even at the expense of your own comfort or convenience.
Favorite person in scripture? It’s hard to choose one, but I do love Jael in the Old Testament. She’s not as well known as some others, and is only mentioned in a couple chapters in Judges, but she showed some serious bravery and modeled a warrior’s heart!
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He’s good, and always worthy of our trust and devotion.
How do you engage with your community? Iridescent plays a big role in personal engagement for me. It has a global reach beyond NYC, but through Iridescent I get to connect with so many extraordinary women right here in the city. I get to listen, learn, support and share.
My husband and I both value meeting people and spending time with others- through our businesses, through non-profit work we support (mainly Restore NYC and Big Brothers, Big Sisters), plus we both serve as elders at our Liberty Church Downtown Manhattan location.
Favorite holiday? Christmas. Obviously. Haha.
A goal you have? To write and publish a book that’s been on my heart to complete for a while now.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We are great storytellers. When my family gets together, we usually end up sitting around a dining room table retelling old stories from childhood and reliving some of our favorite memories. There’s so much laughter and connection in the room. It’s where I got my love of communicating from.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Jesus, help me more fully understand the amount of bloodshed in the Old Testament. It seemed a bit excessive. Also, the flood. That seemed extreme. And finally, spiders- why, Jesus?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Our world still has huge strides forward to take to create a brighter future for girls and young women today. Gender inequality grieves the heart of God, and we must treat sexism and female oppression for the evil that it is. Both male and female were created in the image of God, and the message of the Gospel is that both men and women are now one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). To perpetuate gender inequality in the name of religion is an affront to the Gospel message.
What does your morning routine consist of? It starts with making a great cup of coffee or latte (hallelujah!). Then I plop down on my couch, usually still in my pajamas or robe, with two of my favorite Bibles, my journal, and my pen. I begin the day by praying, reading my Bible in a couple different translations, and jotting down verses and reflections in my journal. Usually, my husband comes downstairs towards the end of my morning devotions, gives me a kiss and tells me he loves me. My mornings are usually pretty great, and my favorite part of the day!
What is on your nightstand? My iPhone and a glass of water. I always need water near me!
Define Christianity in a sentence: Following Jesus, becoming more like Him, and making Him known.
More about Nicole Smithee:
Nicole lives in Manhattan with the love of her life, her husband Ben, and spends a good chunk of her time on airplanes, traveling the world, and speaking at various conferences and events. Nicole is the CEO and Co-Founder of Iridescent Women. Driven to see women maximize their potential, she’s also a mentor, author, and coach, and is frequently pounding away at her laptop to create content that inspires and empowers others to live boldly and compassionately. She enjoys quality time with friends and family, getting lost in a good book, being active and exploring, and Netflix-binging. To learn more, check out nicolesmithee.com or follow her on Instagram at @nicolesmithee and @iridescentwomen.
Until next time, keep witnessing!