Archive for October, 2012

30th October
written by Michelle

October is kind of like June in Guatemala. Not the weather or the temperature outside, but the feeling that comes when a another school year has ended, final grades and projects are turned in, graduations, more commonly know as claursuras, have just about finished and students begin the glorious 10 weeks that are known as vaccaciones. And teachers do the same.

My schedule and job have changed quite a bit since leaving Santa Barbara in 2010, but at the end of a school year the feeling is still the same. My body and mind want to slow down, soak up quiet mornings and settle in.

A few weeks ago when Gerber asked me what I wanted for my 30th birthday I said, something relaxing. And it was just that. He invited a few friends to Earth Lodge, one of my favorite local get-a-ways, where lunch is eaten at picnic tables, and cornhole and Adirondack chairs line the grassy lawn and naps are taken in hammocks. It was splendid. After having spent the prior week camping and building water filters with 12 jr. highers this was just the kind of day I wanted.

We celebrated later, just the two of us at our favorite restaurant, Hector’s. Which is basically where we go for engagements (well, just one engagement), birthdays and whenever we have out of town guests visiting.  The atmosphere is intimate, with no more than 8 tables and you have to step through the kitchen to get to the single stall bathroom. But the food is superb. A limited menu ensures that you can’t go wrong. My favorites: The roasted tomatoes and Gouda cheese. Hands-down, best margarita in Antigua. Tender duck with roasted grapes and the orange chocolate fondant is pure delight. Seriously, if you’re ever in Antigua this is a must go to.

We talked about this next season and what we want to get done before we head to the states in December. We dreamed about our next possible travel destination and how to add a 2nd level to our house. (Yes, you read that correctly…In Guatemala, you just build up. So, we’re hoping to add a 2nd story to our 2 bedroom, 1 bath casita.) While we finished the last of our desserts, he asked me what I’m most looking forward to in my 30s?

My response was contentment. For the first time in a number of years, I breathe a little easier. My heart feels a little more settled. I am content with who I am, my body, where I live, and our life together. By no means does it mean I don’t get stressed or have horribly frustrating days, but somehow this birthday I celebrated something new. Maybe it’s something that comes from taking a risk, leaving everything, starting over and trusting that God has a better plan than I do. During my 20s I felt like I was working hard to be content, wrestling with myself and who I thought I should be and questioning God often. But maybe that’s the funny thing about contentment, you can’t work on it. It washes over you when you finally surrender and say here I am.

Here I am, and I am quite content with 30 thus far.


14th October
written by Michelle

A week from today I will 30. And I couldn’t be more excited. For so long the idea of thirty sounded, well… old.  So grown-up if you know what I mean. But I don’t feel old or really grown-up. I feel healthy and strong and content. For the first time in years I am thankful for who I am, how I look and where I am in life.

My twenties were characterized by questions, moving and lots of change. Internally and externally. If you’re in your 20’s- hold on. I don’t think it always feels so unknown, so turbulent, so exciting, and confusing all at once. I’ve spent a lot of time this past month thinking about my twenties.

In no particular order, here is what I’ve learned:





  • And that break-ups suck. no way around it.


  • Some point after college I learned to view food as a source of nourishment and pleasure, not something to be counted and kept track of.


  • Know how you like your eggs* (Figure out what YOU love, before you find the Love of your Life.)


  • How to have an adult relationship with my parents. This is an ongoing process for me and probably for them.



  • I’ve learned to be thankful for what my body can do, not what my measurement are.


  • Counseling is worth the investment. Seriously. Counseling has helped me know myself better and learn how to ask for help. I would easily spend an hour with a physical therapist to become physically healthy, so why not spend an hour with a counselor to become emotionally healthy? One of the best decisions of my twenties. hands down.


  • Be the kind of friend you want to have.


  • Ladies, HEIGHT is not everything. It took me 27 years to realize this.  Stop waiting for some dreamy, Mr. 6’5 to walk by. You could miss out on the LOVE of your life. Give the short men a chance : )


  • What it means to be surrounded by people and yet feel alone.


  • Be able to laugh at yourself. One day I’ll write about how I ended up in the ER with a broken nose, on a “first” date.


  • Invite the new person. If you see someone by them-self at church or a birthday party or in the corner at an awkward work function, invite them to sit by you or come join your table. Because if you’ve ever moved or been the “new-girl” you know how much you appreciate those people.



  • “Everything happens for a reason” is a load of crap. I’m sorry, but at some point in my twenties I realized there are a number of things that I had heard about or had witnessed and there is no good reason or explanation. Best perspective on pain and loss is Rob Bell’s here


  • I’ve learned the world is a better place if we just give people the benefit of the doubt. Oh, that man who just flipped you off on the free-way, you ask? Don’t worry he just had a bad day. It’s not personal.





  • If he doesn’t call, and doesn’t respond to your text…Then he is probably not that into you. I am not the exception, I am the rule.** Repeat.


  • Feeling lonely is a universal emotion. Somehow I never knew this. I was shocked in college when I learned that married women feel lonely. And when a friend who is a mom of three told me she sometimes feels lonely, too I was floored. I thought only single people felt lonely. I was wrong.


  • Jesus is not a white middle-class American.


  • Loving someone doesn’t mean making them more like you.




  • Having roommates is one of the best preparations for marriage.


  • Pay attention to the kinds of questions people ask you or the kinds of things they invite you to, these are probably the things they want to you do for them.


  • You don’t have to change the world or be anyone extraordinary. Sometimes I think the most radical thing I can do is acknowledge the stranger on the street,  pay attention to the men who pick up my trash and leave my husband a smoothie in the fridge without expecting anything in return. Those ordinary things become extraordinary.


What do you remember learning in your 20s? or What was the best part of your 30s? Do share.


*Run Away Bride…in case you missed it.

** He’s Just Not That Into You (wished I had seen this when I was 21, not 27. )

9th October
written by Michelle


I have been home from CCDA for over a week and haven’t given myself much time to write or process the conference. Sometimes those two are one and the same for me; the writing and the processing that is. I think that’s what writers do- Because the very act of writing can help make sense of what’s swimming around inside.

So here’s my attempt:

CCDA brings people together; people from across the political spectrum, with different colors of skin and and a range denomination affiliations. Some come with dreadlocks, fresh out of college, others with strollers and kids on tow, and a few with their greying hair, and years of wisdom and experience. We sang in English, then Spanish and Mandarin. We heard speakers, preachers and professors from every walk of life.

A Palestinian Christian. A Native American from the Sioux Reservation.

A Duke professor. A  recovering addict. An 88-year-old son of a sharecropper from Mississippi.

There were some of speakers you’ve probably heard of: Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Barbara Williams-Skinner, but there were probably even more that don’t have big names or famous book. They are every-day, extraordinary people who are working, serving and living in communities with the very people they serve. They presented workshops about:

Christian Community Development, Immigration Services, Racial Reconciliation,

Leadership Development, Toxic Charity, Social-Entrepreneurship, Welcoming Refugees, Acting White,

Combating Organizational Fatigue and Burnout, Mobilizing the Church to Address Systemic Injustice,

…and I could keep going.

My sister did one workshop titled, 9/11, Al Qaeda and your Muslim Neighbor. I probably learned more in that one hour than in any history class I ever took in school. She talked bout the Muslim faith, how our news-media represents both sides so poorly and what does it really look like if we are called to be neighbors and friends.

My Twitter-friend-turned-real-friend, Sarah and her husband did a fascinating workshop discussing the Multicultural family; looking at everything from cross-cultural marriage, raising bi-lingual kids and living biracially. I was all ears.

+   +   +

CCDA is definitely geared for people working in urban centers doing some kind of community development work, but much of what is discussed applies to churches, families, teachers and really anyone with a desire to be more intentionally involved in serving your community.

As a first timer to this kind of conference, what stands out to me is not the richness in our differences and unique perspectives; no, it was the shared commitment to keep asking what it means to do this together. 

How do we commit to keep loving Jesus and our neighbor?

How do we keep caring for the widow, the foreigner, the immigrant?

How are resources distributed and who has access to them?

How do we create a world where women are just as valued and heard as men?

What does justice look like in public eduction, tax laws, churches and neighborhoods in your community.

These are questions that were asked. And we keep asking together.

And just like we keep seeking Jesus and Justice and asking these important questions. CCDA recognizes that we also must keep asking for forgiveness. And keep acknowledge what we have done wrong in the name of the Church and capitalism and consumerism.

Reconciliation is not possible, until there is an acknowledgement of the wrong, the pain, and the grief. Sometimes, reconciliation needs to make way for lament, before rejoicing appears. Maybe reconciliation and any kind of justice seeking starts with an apology and a prayer.

Father forgive me. Forgive us.


++ If you’re still reading I’m impressed ++ And, if you just skimmed to this part, you’re in luck++


In no particular order here one some of my favorite quotes from the conference. I’m working on putting together a book list, but that will be another post.  For now:

When will a nation of immigrants apologize to the indigenous  population?” -Richard Twiss, question from a Native American


“We cannot fall into the trap of us and them. If you want to follow Jesus you have to love your enemy? Who is your enemy? -Sami Awad, Palestinian who uses nonviolent approaches to end the Israeli occupation


“One of the most important things you can provide for a man is a job.” - John Perkins, on Empowerment


“You know how it goes…If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Well, it’s not true. Whoever owns the pond, controls how long you fish. It’s not just teaching a man how to fish. You gotta have capital. That’s empowerment.” -John Perkins, discussing Christian Community Development


“Reconciliation is as big as bridging the biggest social divide, but it’s also as SMALL as loving the person who irritates you the most.”
- Chris Rice, “Theology of Reconciliation”


“We have one of the best productive system in the world, but one of the worst systems of distribution.”-John Perkins, on Stewardship
“The Psalmist did not say be busy and know that I am God.” -Rey Rivera, on Rest


We’ve made God into a white, middle-class American, but what does Jesus of the bible say?” - Shane Claiborne, on his new book “The Red Letter Revolution”


“I wish we had the same courage for reconciliation as we do for taking up the sword, war, and guns.” - Tony Campolo


“After going oversees for a one year service project, my friend noticed, that students returned more committed to Justice, but less committed to Jesus.” - Chris Rice, on not taking the Jesus out of Justice


“Don’t give people what they don’t need. No one wants your used clothes. If you’re gong to feed people, eat with them. If you have a food bank, make it your goal to shorten the line. People want a job and to be a part of something, not just to keep receiving your food.” -wisdom, straight from Mr. John Perkins


And this was perhaps this most powerful, raw example of the beginning of reconciliation: A Korean American’s Confession

P.S. CCDA 2013…Don’t miss it: New Orleans. September 11-14.

P.S.S. If you want more info from this years conference check out Twitter #CCDA2012