top ten.

Let me tell you a story about my music collection and how it outgrew the iPod nano when I was in high school.

I spent more money on music than on books, and y’all know how I love my books. I still use the iPod classic I bought when my music collection outgrew the nano, because my music collection would never fit on my iPhone if I wanted to put other things on it. And by “other things,” I really mean “anything.”

The last few years, I’ve paid a lot of bills, bought a lot more books, and haven’t really had money to spend on music. I’m hoping to start building back my collection soon, but in the meantime, I don’t think 5200+ songs will provide us any shortage of variety.

Let’s take it from the top. The top ten, that is:

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one • “Providence” by Abandon
two • “Call Us Crazy” by Trip Lee
three • “Showstopper” by tobyMAC
four • “Heart Like You” by Love and the Outcome
five • “You” by Jaime Jamgochian
six • “Possibilities” by Sanctus Real
seven • “One Touch (Press)” by Nicole C. Mullen
eight • “Wasting My Words (Been Where You Are)” by Carried Away
nine • “Price Tag (feat. B.o.B.)” by Jessie J
ten • “Hold On” by tobyMAC

Brave Love Blog

speak up!, blogtember: work & passion

Welcome to the eighth installment of Speak Up! and the fourth day of the #BlogtemberChallenge!

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Amber and I are super excited you’re here for the former and I’m stoked to be linking up with Bailey for the latter. (Curious about the linkups? Learn more about Speak Up! and #BlogtemberChallenge.)

Work is a part of our lives we often compartmentalize, but it’s an integral part of who we are. We often do work we’re not always passionate about, but we’ve been gifted by God and placed in those positions for our good and for His glory. I think it shifts our perspective to remember that; it does mine.

I do, however, think that we don’t always take the concept of work and apply it to other parts of our lives. I have to work at being a good daughter, sister, and friend. I have to work at reaching into other people’s lives, whether that’s with my time, energy, money, etc. I have to work at being responsible and respectful and relaxed.

So now I’m curious: what are you passionate about? And what does work mean to you? I’d love if you’d film a vlog and link up with Amber and I and also with Bailey! Then head over to their blogs and see what they’ve got to say about work and passion respectively.

If you’re here for Speak Up!, link your vlog up below! Please remember to comment on at least two other vlogs so we can help grow the community.

Brave Love Blog

in the mood.

It’s another day of the #BlogtemberChallenge!

Brave Love Blog
Today’s prompt is to create a collage or mood board to describe your blog. This was a creative stretch for me, but I enjoyed it!

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Also! Tomorrow is a first Friday of the month, which means Amber and I want you to Speak Up! with us. September’s topic is work, and you can take that any direction you like. The only rule is you have to vlog!

the ideal 24.

I’d start my ideal day by flying somewhere.

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I’d watch the sun rise from above the clouds, from the first vestiges of dawn to the scattering of the last of darkness.

IMG_2566I’d land somewhere in Europe, find myself a cozy café for a good cup of coffee, and take my time greeting the morning.

Or maybe I’d skip the coffee and drink a Mirinda instead.

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True story: I once brought an empty Mirinda bottle home from Poland because I was so excited I had managed to find one. I’d only ever had them in Honduras before.

I’d stop at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to make up for the fact that yes, I made it to Amsterdam, but no, I never made it to the one place I wanted to go when I did.

Then I’d take a canal ride through the city. I don’t care if it’s touristy or not: it’s pretty.

IMG_3428I’d eat lunch outside at another small café. Because hello, I’m in Europe, and why not?

Then I would siesta.

In the later afternoon I would probably stop at a museum. I don’t know which, but probably the Musée Rodin in Paris because I loved it while I was there and I love Rodin’s The Thinker. Or maybe I would stop briefly in Berlin to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Brandenburg Gate; I’ve never been to Germany, and I would love to go.

I’d find a nice little restaurant to eat dinner and fit in a few hours of reading before visiting the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up against Paris’s night sky.

And then I’d take a flight home, back to Detroit, delivered safely into the palm of Earth’s own hand.

What would your ideal day look like?

Brave Love Blog

oh hey, #blogtemberchallenge!

I can’t but help join my Influence roommate Bailey in her September blogging initiative. If you haven’t heard of the Blogtember Challenge, you need to head over to her blog, read about it, write your own posts, and link up!

As those of you who have long read here can attest, I haven’t been writing here often, so I thought joining Bailey this month would not only rebuild my blogging routine, but instigate some creativity as well.

For those of you who are new here, let me introduce myself:

theintro
welcome
I’ve been blogging since October 2007, after seeing a URL that included “blogspot.com,” googling that, and discovering Blogger. I wrote short posts on faith, writing under my middle name for privacy’s sake.

In 2009, I started What She Saw, although it wouldn’t be WSS until nearly three full years later. It was, and still is, a place for me to share writing I loved and to practice my own. WSS has also served as the home of 31 Days of Writing (as well as two other 31 Days series, and tentatively a fourth, to come this October) as well as the foundation for my ebook, The Unfurling, which released in November 2013.

In the midst of all this blogging, I emerged from Grand Valley State University with a B.A. in hand in the spring of 2012. It was in English and history, so naturally I started working at Forever 21 four months after graduation and then went into finance a year later. It makes sense if you don’t think about it.

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I am a native Mitteneer (my term for people from Michigan) and was born and raised in metro Detroit, where I still live. I love it here. The Detroit suburbs sprawl for miles and across three counties, making it feel like one giant city instead of a puzzle of many small ones. There’s a neat grid of roads and a network of highways to facilitate traffic and it doesn’t feel like home to me unless there’s a plane flying overhead, to or from Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, not far from where I grew up.

The population of the Mitten State spends most of its time wearing theirs. It can get bitterly cold here, not helped on the west side by lake effect. When I lived in Grand Rapids, we had fierce winds and huge snowfalls. In Detroit, this is minimized because the weather has the width of the state to calm down a little.

But when we take our mittens off, waking with the springtime, it gets astoundingly hot. Michigan is hot and humid in the summer, occasionally poking into the hundreds. I prefer this Michigan; I’m happiest when it’s in the eighties or nineties and sunny outside. It’s the tropical blood in me, I think.

If Michigan is the home I know, Honduras is the home I don’t. My parents met in San Pedro Sula taking a grad class through the University of Alabama while they were teaching on different campuses of the same international school. (Roll tide!) They married the next summer and moved to the States the year after that. My mom’s family still lives there, and my parents have taken my brother and I back a few times to visit.


Whether I inherited my love of travel from my father or these trips to Honduras, I come by it naturally. My parents were incredibly supportive of my jaunts abroad, and my first trip out of the country without them was to France when I was 14. Most recently, I went to Jamaica with the youth group from my church, with whom I’ve been working since last October. I have a blast hanging out with them each week, and starting this fall, I’ll be leading a small group of freshman girls.

Fun Facts

I narrow my eyes when I think.

I’m a talkative introvert.

My favorite color is orange.

I read voraciously.

You can find me occasionally on Pinterest and often on Instagram, but mostly on Twitter.

Now tell me about you!

Brave Love Blog

go.

It occurred to me the other day there aren’t many places I go that don’t involve one or more highways.

There’s a complicated network of them in the Detroit area, and learning where they go has been one of my favorite parts of living here since I moved from Grand Rapids three years ago. I love that I’m still learning them, too; the other day I discovered I-96 has express lanes as it heads east into Detroit and a few days later I learned just how M-14 hugs Ann Arbor on its northern border.

What I think captivates me about the roadways in metro Detroit is the vision with which they were built. The streets reflect the surveying done according to the Northwest Ordinance: they are laid in a neat grid of square miles. The highways swerve and dash wherever they please, carving their way underneath and over the rest of the metropolis, intersecting with each other smoothly. But to have developed both systems required more than just knowing the purpose individual roadways. It required a deep knowledge of how that individual roadway would affect every other street and highway around it.

It reminds me, in fact, of our own lives.

We all want to know, concretely, intimately, the purpose of our lives, the trajectory of our legacies. We want to see, years later, how our words and actions have birthed hope and love. It’s not easy even in the reaping seasons to see how God is weaving that together, but it’s harder in a sowing season, and that’s where I’ve been for a while now. Maybe you’re there, too.

And why do we struggle so with sitting like Mary at Jesus’s feet? Why are we compelled to do and do and do, instead of learning to be? Why, in the midst of traffic, still in the driver’s seat, do I feel trapped, and yet when I cruise at 70mph feel free? Why do we define ourselves by the moving?

It’s the stillness that shapes us, the quietly told parables, the whisper in the wind.

Go, He says, on a Monday morning. You’ll do a lot of stopping, but you’ll have time to think. You’ll do your wrestling at stoplights and in traffic jams on the freeway.

It’s the adventure of a new day, tempered by pauses to pray and reflect.

Return, He says, on a Monday night. You won’t know what exit you take till you’re on it. It will take time; traffic is worse than it was this morning. Learn patience.

It’s the familiarity of home, excited by the turns we don’t see till we’re making them.

We don’t see our lives chronicled the way we see Abraham’s and Sarah’s or Joseph’s and Mary’s when they were told to go to and return from Egypt. But God knows, because He has laid down the road. He has engineered ramps on and off, the detours borne of construction, the speed at which we traverse it.

And as God, using this network of highways amidst the metropolis of life, leads us out into the world, so He too will lead us Home.

a still summer.

I don’t know how many times I will need to think, say, or write that it feels strange to sit down here to make it not true.

It feels not only strange, but hard. I remember when only the latter was true. More importantly, I remember when I felt it was worth pushing through, worth working through all the muddle of my brain to formulate words into phrases into sentences into posts, voilà.

And now, trying to fight through the hard is harder than ever, because I’m sorely out of practice.

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This summer has been a good one. It wasn’t at all what I expected when it began, and I’m glad for that. I needed it.

The high school ministry at my church takes a lot of the summer off, which I really appreciated. It gave me greater flexibility in making plans with my friends (most of whom are teachers, so this summer was an active one for us all!) and also afforded me the chance to get some rest on a weeknight that through the year is permanently booked.

But I also missed the high schoolers, because they’re a funny, vibrant, flowering people. They’ve got their dreams ahead of them and yet so many expectations. We expect too much of teenagers, I think. They are only learning themselves, and yet we expect they can accurately map out the next few decades of their lives. We who have passed through those years ought to know better than anyone how futile that can be.

And yet, what opportunity! For the student who uses high school and college as a foundation for their character and passion, it is a valuable eight years. For the student who shortsightedly squanders it, there’s so much ground to make up afterward. And in some ways, I see myself there, because I avoided the discipline of deciding what I wanted to do with my degree until… well, still.

Still.

That word that haunted my 2014 and floated recently into my head, I see you, and I am still trying to figure out what to do with you.

The past few weeks have been an EXERCISE, y’all. I don’t think I have ever needed peace in the midst of desperation and anxiety more. I’m not at liberty to speak about it, if only because I silence myself. I will break my peace when I can; for now, I breathe deep and pray.

I am trying to focus on what God has given me to do now: we are shortly beginning the school year with the youth group; I am leading a girls’ small group this year (I have freshmen! I’m so stoked); I am helping to facilitate social media promotion and engagement for our church’s fall missions fest. There are good things happening at Highland Park; there always are, for God is moving still.

I’m planning to write through #Blogtember with Bailey next month, as well as room with her, Kristin, and Margaret at Influence in three weeks. M and I are going 4 for 4 as Influence roommates. I’m excited to add Bailey and Kristin to our mix this year! I hope both of these September activities spark my heart back to my little cyber space.

“Love’s to Blame” just came on my iPod, followed by Sara Groves; one of my favorite songs and one of my favorite artists. I have let my music languish for years now. God and I wrestled earlier this summer; I remember thinking, I want to serve in music. But I don’t want to put myself forward, so I won’t move until someone else affirms me in this. And then God Himself said to move, so I have made small steps forward despite my fear. I want to make a joyful noise, and not just in my car on the way home, savvy?

I read a lot. In fact I read nearly all the time. I sat down with Kayla Aimee‘s Anchored the day I got it from Amazon and I didn’t move until it was finished. I never do that. I have been pre-ordering hard copies of books from Amazon for a few years now and they inevitably travel from a shelf in a warehouse to a shelf in my living space. I have a bad habit of prolonging the reading of books I know I will love.

You need to read Anchored if you haven’t already, not only because Kayla is stinking hilarious, but because she has a beautiful story of walking with God through the valley. We need to keep reading and listening to and telling that old, old story, of God’s faithfulness and goodness, so we don’t forget when we, as we will, walk through the valley ourselves.

I also dove into books about topics both old and new: the former includes the Holocaust and historical fiction; the latter includes a memoir of life in Iran, contemporary fiction placed in Africa, and an account of the Turkish slaughter of Christian minorities in Smyrna in 1922. I am currently reading Booker T. Washington’s memoir and account of the growth of The Tuskegee Institute. I’ve wanted to learn this summer, to stretch moccasins not my own, and I want to keep doing that as we close out 2015.

It’s still summer, so it feels silly to reflect on it already, but I want to prepare well for fall, and I think that requires evaluation on what went well the season before. There’s so much to be thankful for, to lay humbly at Jesus’s feet, to keep learning and doing. I’m excited for it.

Now tell me, though our coffee’s cold and the autumn breeze is starting to flare, what have you been up to all summer?

His restorative work.

It’s time for another installment of Speak Up!

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This month we’re talking about restoration. I’ve been particularly intrigued by this lately, based on the nonfiction I’ve been reading and a few jaunts in Detroit.

Check out Amber‘s thoughts on restoration, and then, since we’d love to hear what you’ve got to say, film you a vlog and link it up below:

Just remember to comment on at least two other vlogs so we can continue to build the community!

pen in hand.

There’s something to be said for pen in hand.

I picked one up last week, wrote some eight pages in my journal about the crazy that had been the past two weeks (and incidentally, has continued right into a third).

I picked one up the next day when Rachel mentioned she was going to free write every Friday and asked me to join her.

I picked one up earlier today, writing out Psalm 46 in painstaking cursive, the better to remember it.

There’s something to be said for pen in hand.

•••

I have missed writing.

I started blogging because I loved writing and was fascinated by the idea that my words could be read by complete strangers. I had long cherished the dream of being a published author and blogging felt like halfway to the real thing.

I’ve kept a journal since Christmas 1997, not always as frequently at some times as others. But I have always, always, always been writing.

Except when I haven’t, and that has been a frequent refrain of late.

•••

I am not sure I recognize blogging anymore, and I have long stayed away from this space because I am no longer sure how to interact with it.

But this is my manifesto, my declaration, that as a writer once and thus a writer forever, I will keep writing, not only or even always here, but in public and private documents, for the rest of my life to come.

Writers write; it’s what they do. And a writer is who I am, whether it’s fingers to keyboard or pen in hand.

glasses in the road.

They were thrown, although they appeared as if out of nowhere, as if they had popped into thin air after a journey across dimensions. Gravity pressed them downward, and tires knocked them about, and they stopped there, square in the middle of the road, and I almost rescued them but I didn’t.

•••

I judged the person who threw them for littering, I’ll admit, but not for very longer. Instead I thought of how they could be reused, how our church deliberately collects them and takes them to Africa every August. They had been thrown by someone driving and landed in the lane going the opposite direction as me, and I wondered how crazy I would be to jump out of my car right quick and pick them up.

I checked oncoming traffic and miraculously, it was clear, but I didn’t unbuckle my seat belt, I didn’t open my car door, I didn’t move.

•••

There is a threat to the Church and his name is Complacency. He is one of Satan’s most successful servants.

He will keep us on our couches, in our comfy church pews, in our leather driver’s seats. He will keep us doing the same things for the same reasons with the same perspectives if we don’t see him, fight him, pray against him.

He will let us drive past people in need, past cities in desperate need of our service, past schools and churches and homes filled with children who need us to pray with desperation and conviction to be the best example of Christ we can be to them.

He will let us drive past them in the road. They could’ve irrevocably broadened the perspective of one person across the ocean, and I let them stay there, in the middle of the road, to potentially cause harm instead of good.

•••

It is the everyday, the ordinary, that God will use to transform our lives if we let Him. Complacency does not have to win, because our God already did.

Two pieces of wood, three thick nails, one human body, and yet the combination yielded deicide and paved the way for divine victory.

And so what might have two lenses and a metal frame have done in His hands?

•••

Let me tell you a story about a pair of glasses that somebody threw in the middle of the road in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

In one ending, they are rescued by a woman who was unafraid to be called crazy by people who would never see her again. They are placed next to a pair of her own glasses, long since useless to her. She will put both pairs in a basket in August and not even a few weeks later, they will be carefully packed in a suitcase whose owner is bound for Uganda. The owner will spend their time there ministering to people by treating medical conditions. One of those people will be a person whose sight is poor, and they will put these glasses on to see as, for a long time, they have not been able.

In another ending, the same woman of the previous ending drives past them, wrestling fiercely with but ultimately defeated by the fear of running into opposing yet nonexistent traffic and being called crazy by the people behind her. She will think about the glasses she left behind and the person who could have benefitted from them for half a mile after they are gone from her sight, itself augmented and fortified by lenses, and she will imagine their fate, crushed by tires, potentially embedded in one or two or five; she will think of the owners who may have to spend $200 or more to replace these tires pierced by glass.

Ultimately, she will go home and she will write a blog post about it, wishing back the moment and regretting that she left a pair of glasses behind after someone tossed them in the road.