Mira voce: now I know

This post is part of a series of reflections during Lent. This year for Lent I’m trying to create more than copy once a week, inspired by the Portuguese phrase mira voce, prominently featured in my jam “Mira,” by Melody Gardot.

I’ve had such a hard time figuring out how to close out this Lenten series, hence I haven’t written in a few weeks – eek – so, not good, but now I think I know what I want to say.

I started this mira voce series with the intent of creating something new on a weekly basis instead of copying or imitating people or online things. But as I listen to this song (nsfw-ish; G-rated version starts at 1:28) now, on the other side of this series – on the other side of Easter Sunday – I’m realizing I was so taken by this song and this phrase because mira voce is all about celebrating life and its surprises. A celebration – an honest to God celebration of the miracle of life – of this undeserving, inexplainable phenomenon of you waking up this morning not by your own will, but by something else. A something else that I’m courageous enough to say is God saying, “I’m not done with you yet!” I think God says, “There is more I want for you, more I dream for you, more I wish you to see and you to exclaim in awe ‘Holy buckets!'” or translated in Protugese: mira voce.

Good Easter Morning, Trinidad. 2008.
Good Easter Morning, Trinidad. 2008.

I’ve had these mira voce moments all over the map this past Lent. I realized it’s okay to have different interests and passions than my significant other (with the help of Mindy Kaling). I realized how fervently alive the fire is within me, still, to travel and be bathed in sunshine and that’s a desire to travel that I won’t loose any time soon. I learned that making friends after grad school is rough but not impossible – and choosing a good attitude about that and other things can make or a break a 60 minute cardio workout (this is a big deal, people). I shared my voice with other young people who are sick of getting asked “How do I get more young people to come to my church?” when we’re standing right there in front of them, hungry to serve and make a difference in the world but are rarely challenged to. I was also inspired by Chimananda Adichie’s TED talk that helped me see that we are all storytellers who are beautiful, complex, unique, and have way more than one story to tell. 

This might be the end of this series, but it is certainly not the end of moments when you or I feel a tug or a tap on the shoulder that says “Look at that!” – mira voce – because God is not a proper noun; God is a verb. God is set loose in the world in resurrected joy as pieces of inspiration, as the inspired, and as the one who taps you on the shoulder and says “Look at that!” The women who saw the first evidence of Jesus’ resurrection were not merely “property” as they were economically and socially valued in the first century, but were people of courage, inspired enough to tell others what they saw. They were brave enough to tell others their mira voce moment.

My hope is that you look out for those moments that take your breath away. Look out for those opportunities to be brave and speak something new into existence by saying “look that that!” – mira voce – because I have a sneaking suspicion that the world needs more people brave enough to say what has brought them to life.

So thank you, Melody Gardot, for such a beautiful song to inspire this series. It’s been so much fun to play, reflect, write, and be present in this theme over the last couple months. I can’t wait to see what’s in store as I keep my eyes open to more mira voce moments in the world, and as I travel into a new blog series!

This blog has no ownership or rights to music by Melody Gardot or Verve Music Group.


Mira voce: storyteller

This post is part of a series of reflections during Lent. This year for Lent I’m trying to create more than copy once a week, inspired by the Portuguese phrase mira voce, prominently featured in my jam “Mira,” by Melody Gardot.

This week’s mira voce moment came to me in a Starbucks drive-thru near our St. Paul apartment. I had planned on working from home yesterday, but since family is in town much of this week, I figured this was one of my only shots at being physically present at work. I knew after some morning commitments I would need a little boost, so I got Starbucks before I went to work for the afternoon.

Cinnemon Dolce Latte (decaf, of course). Yes, I jumped over summer straight to fall, but honestly. The fall is magical. This drink smells like fall, books, falling orange leaves, smiles, falling in love, welcome back, welcome home, brick.

Before I dropped Timothy off at home, he switched on the TED Radio Hour podcast, with this week’s theme of “Reframing the Story.” Fifty minutes well spent. The show jumped around to a highlight a few different previous TED speakers – the author of “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” a Pixar filmmaker, a book cover designer, and a Nigerian novelist. I just loved how they had their own unique ways of telling us listeners that stories matter – our complex, ugly, beautiful, lifelong, surprising stories matter.

So Timothy and I budget $10 per two weeks for my coffee habit. So I received my drink in the drive-thru and was waiting for the nice Starbucks barista to refill my card when it hit me.

We are all storytellers. Not just these four TED speakers. We are all storytellers.

I’m still hot on my heals from last week’s post about an experience where I felt like my church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) only valued me because of my age, not for my unique strengths, desire to serve my neighbors, passions and dreams to contribute to the world.

In this TED episode, novelist Chimamanda Adichie talked about the danger of the single story. She’s grew up in a middle-class home in Nigeria and shares a story of her family’s domestic help, a “house boy,” who lived in poverty outside the city with his family. One day her family visited the boy’s home. She saw a beautiful hand-woven basket his brother had made. She had only heard of this family’s poverty, so it was out of the question to think that they had any other identity (artists). The danger of the single story is that it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Do we do this to people at church? Do we quickly assess an individual and assign a ministry or group or event based on just one element – one story – of them? You look like a teenager… Oh, we have confirmation for them! You look like an older person… Oh, we have a small group for them!

I’m not saying that this is the case for every church. But it’s a temptation that I think every church faces. We must split you up by, you name it, age, interest, political-leaning. But if I’m being honest, I see it mostly by age.  Just last month I was asked to be on a team because I was young. I am more than a young person:

I am a theologian (just like you).

I am a steward.

I am confused by Jesus and inspired by Jesus.

I am in service to my neighbor.

I am in constant wanderlust.

I am secretly plotting to take over the world with love, puppies and sparkling heart confetti.

I am a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan. I remember the first time I walked into the Kingdome with my dad.

I am someone’s other half and I couldn’t be prouder.

I am a recipient of a master’s degree.

I am a west coaster at heart. I dream of living three blocks from the beach in a home decorated with my Pinterest boards.

I say all these statements to show that each of us are complex human beings. None of us have a single story. We’re made up of past and present experiences, “ah-ha!” moments, relationships, families, lingering questions. We all have a very big story to tell.

What’s your story?

Stay tuned for next week’s closing post of this series!

This blog has no ownership or rights to music by Melody Gardot or Verve Music Group.

Mira voce: sunshine

This post is part of a series of reflections during Lent. This year for Lent I’m trying to create more than copy once a week, inspired by the Portuguese phrase mira voce, prominently featured in a song I love by Melody Gardot, “Mira.”

This last week’s mira voce spotting wasn’t anything extraordinary – it was quite ordinary: driving in the sunshine.

I loved it.

Even as I write about it my body is melting into my chair (cue Lisboa).

Let me give you some context. This last winter in Minnesota was especially cold and long. I hope I can say that accurately in the past tense!! Almost 50 days of below the freezing point. No thank you.

So I was driving yesterday and brushed my hair off my shoulders and I noticed it was warm because it had been resting in the warming sun. I had a little happy God-moment. I know it’s Lent, but, hallelujah! WARMTH! Yes, it was 20-something outside, but as we drove past farms and little cow families across Wisconsin, the sunshine warmed the car up quite nicely. I’m not a huge fan of driving 5 strait hours, but the afternoon Sunday sunshine made it an easy decision to stay behind the wheel.

What made the afternoon even sweeter was seeing that I might have encouraged a few more Melody Gardot fans. On Instagram I follow a traveler/picture-taker/exec. creative director @dwellstudio. (I still don’t get what her job is but from what I can tell it’s awesome). When she posted a picture of her flying over Lisbon, Portugual I had to comment about Melody’s song “Lisboa” inspired by her travels to Lisbon.


After a few shared comments, I felt like an happy evil genius helping people connect to this great singer through our common love of travel.

So – travel, wanderlust, Lisboa, driving, sunshine in my hair. That’s this week’s mira voce.

This blog has no ownership or rights to music by Melody Gardot or Verve Music Group.

Mira voce: interests and passions

This year for Lent I’m trying to create more than copy once a week, inspired by the Portuguese phrase mira voce, prominently featured in a song I love by Melody Gardot, “Mira.”

This last week’s mira voce spotting as I went throughout the week was all about having unique interests and being okay with something you’re passionate about.

For some reason I got it stuck in my head that when you get married you have to do all the same stuff. I’m not sure where this idea came from, but it sustained through college and through our marriage (so we’ve caught up to present day). It still blows me away when my husband, Timothy, and I find something that we both like – “We’re such rebels! We found “The West Wing,” a series we BOTH like!”

The point is that it’s actually quite beautiful when a person’s unique interests and passions are lifted up.

For instance, my newlywed husband spent 4 hours on Saturday night doing two fantasy baseball drafts while I read a book. I know, I had enough focus to read a book, who knew! Don’t be too impressed, it’s not my super dense theology books but still an awesome book called “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” A glorious beach/weekend/girl-power read.


It’s an autobiography written by a hilarious woman whom I adore greatly, the producer and creator of “The Mindy Project” and actor/writer of one of my favorite shows of all time “The Office,” Mindy Kaling. In her book she talks about the awkwardness of trying to belong to a new group of friends in high school. With her friend, Mavis, she introduces her new group of friends to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. She writes, “I played it for them. No one laughed… The very same sketch that had made Mavis and me clutch our chests in diaphragm-hurting laughter had rendered my best friends bored and silent…. Eventually, Polly said, gently, ‘I guess it’s funny in a random kind of way'” (39).

Defeat. When a retelling of something hilarious gets met with blank stares and all you can say is “I guess you had to be there…” I get that. It’s tough to be so into something and then learn that not everyone in the world is so into it. But that’s ok! If we all liked the same things this would be a really boring world. Thankfully, in my opinion, I think God was pretty smart when he created (and still creates) people and said “Hey! Every person is going to have different tastes in music, different interests, different hair styles, different Pinterest boards, different points of view, etc.”

Not to get all Biblical, but Paul wrote, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone” (1st Corinthians 12:4-6). We’re not meant to be carbon copies of each other! Timothy and I can have super different interests and it’s still okay. I can LOVE to read this Mindy Kaling autobiography, and he can LOVE to run wild in his fantasy baseball leagues. We might be a strange pairing, but it works.


My hope is that everyone gets to have someone in their life who points out a unique interest of their’s and says “Hey! That’s awesome!” instead of “…I guess it’s funny in a random kind of way” like those girls who didn’t get Mindy’s kind of humor. After all, Mindy writes, “What happened to me was something that I think happens to a lot of professional comedy writers or comedians… I think we all have that moment when our non-comedy-obsessed friends or family are like: ‘Nope, I’m at my limit. I can’t talk about In Living Color anymore. It’s kind of funny, but come on'” (40).

I’ve never seen In Living Color (I know! I know.) but I think I can relate to what Mindy is saying here. Don’t be afraid of identifying your passions and interests. Love them! Be around people who love them help you grow them. You never know when another person might look at you and get inspired to love their passions, because they saw you love yours!

This blog has no ownership or rights to music by Melody Gardot or Verve Music Group.

Lent: Mira Voce

I copy often

& I don’t create often enough

I was talking to a friend of mine in grad school and she asked me why I wrote an entire paragraph in a chapter that was solely full of quotes. None of my own commentary, just quotes. I was writing my thesis and she was kind enough to give me a critical, yet empathetic eye. I told her that these authors say things way better than I could ever phrase it. She told me that I was giving up my own voice by quoting others instead of writing down my own thought first.

For those of you who are familiar with the self-assessment the Enneagram, I believe I am unapologetically a 6.

Enneagram 6

When I’m at my best, I’m courageous, I’m a free spirit, and I trust myself and others. When I’m not at my best, I’m anxious and I silence myself in an attempt to find safety in the voices and authority of others.

I sit instead of fight; stop speaking instead of contribute; copy instead of creating.

But I’m determined to find more and be more. I feel most connected with God when I fight for what I believe in, contribute to the world, and create. So this Lent I’m going to create instead of copy, once a week, so I can hopefully be more connected with God.

Ever since I found her on Pandora, I can’t get enough of Melody Gardot’s song “Mira”. Inspired by her travels to Brazil, she wrote this song and fell in love with the Portuguese phrase “Mira voce” which loosely translates to being in awe, but being in awe to the point of exclaiming to others “wow, look at that!”

Mira screen shot

Each week I’ll reflect on where I had a “mira voce” moment. I’ll create something instead of copy someone else’s “they said it way better!” Here it goes!

Happy Ash Wednesday and Happy Lent everybody. 🙂

This blog has no ownership or rights to music by Melody Gardot or Verve Music Group.