Archive for March, 2013

25th March
written by Michelle

I was skyping with a friend last week and sharing how I have had to get used to friends coming and going. Maybe it’s part of living in a tourist town where most most people come from somewhere else and usually use the phrase “going home” in reference to place other than here. Often upon meeting someone new the first question is 1) where are you from? followed by 2) how long have you been here? and sometime before the conversation is over you ask the infamous 3) and how long are you here for?

I spent my first few years living abroad trying to re-create my closest group of friends from the states. I wanted to have a Jen, Ashley and Kirsten here.  I wanted a running friend like Chelsea and a roommate like Maggie here in Guatemala. I wanted to have a mentor like June here. And I thought I could instantly be as close to my husband’s sisters as I am to mine. But I learned that you can’t re-create friends identical to ones you left. You can only make new ones and be committed to maintain the old ones.

I became immediately disappointed upon meeting someone when they casually announced, oh I’m here for 6 months or we’ll be here for a year.

That’s it? I thought. I am looking for lifetime friends and you can only give me 6 months.

It’s easy to build walls, complain and detach when you know someone is only going to be around for 6 months. I realized pretty quickly into our marriage that it was not fair to expect Gerber to be my only friend. He’s a wonderful husband and before we started dating we were friends first and I’d like to believe we’ll remain friends, but he cannot replace girlfriends. I’ve written about the importance of female friends in my life before and it’s a theme I come back to often, because I think learning how to make, keep and grow within friendships is essential.

There’s been lots of great posts about friendships popping up around the internet, too. My two favorites were Lesly Miller’s about the value of internet friendship and Shauna Niequist’s post about moving to be closer to friends. Both are worth a read and make for a great discussion. And now I am adding my thoughts about the importance of friendships for certain seasons.

I am learning that there are perhaps a few lifetime friends- maybe your high school best friend or your college girl friends- friends that you remain committed to no. matter. what. And those friends are worth keeping, forever. Some people are lucky enough to live next to their lifetime friends, but I’m guessing most of us stay in touch via emails and random text messages and plane flights and planned weekend getaways.

However, I also am learning to see the value in friendships for seasons. There may be seasons where you’re close to your co-workers, or the women in your bible study or your after-work running group. Some of these friendships may become lifetime friends, but some may simply be friends for a season. And I think that’s ok. I think we need friends who are in our life, like next door or around the corner. Friends who can be physically present to bring a meal over, or let you borrow maternity clothes or stop by the hospital to hold your newest little one. These are things that even your lifetime friends cannot do when separated by state lines and country codes.

This season I have been ever thankful for friends here. New friends, some who are leaving, and some who are staying. But friends who understand the ins and outs of life as a gringa in Guatemala, friends who get cross-cultural marriage, and friends who have had babies here and who can share their stories and advice and tips on where to get breast pumps or bouncers or cloth diapers when Target doesn’t exist. I am grateful for friends to exercise with and carpool with and share this season of life with. Most of us all come from somewhere else and have best friends who live in other places, but I think we recognize the richness to accepting friends for seasons.

Do you have friends in your life who have been friends for certain seasons? How do you remain close to and committed to your lifetime friends?


16th March
written by Michelle

Photo on 3-16-13 at 2.37 PM

Oh, Saturday

these days feel suddenly like they are worth gold,

knowing they will soon be


or at least different.

they will probably not involve

sleeping in until 9,

and staying buried in the covers for another hour

with a book.


enjoying spoonfuls of yogurt

with freshly cut-up fruit

for breakfast

Having an entire afternoon free

no plans.

no where to be.

no one who needs me.

Sitting in the sun,

on the grass

sipping iced tea

listening to this.

This is Saturday.

Spontaneous afternoon walks in Antigua

with my love

stopping for ice cream

without carrying…

a diaper bag,

a burp cloth,


Grocery shopping

or maybe

Chinese take-out.

No schedule.

just me and him.

It’s easy, flexible and




Saturdays will look


So I will

soak up,




and treasure.

But I’m ready

to welcome









{self-portrait: taken outside, sitting on the grass, feeling much better and so happy for Saturday}

14th March
written by Michelle


Last Friday was International Women’s Day. I posted this on facebook and twitter:

Today my husband wished me a Happy International Women’s Day. Then he asked, “so when is International Men’s Day? #goodquestion #equality

And within minutes I was surprised by the responses and replies from men and women alike. Comments like “I’m pretty sure every other day is already international men’s day” or “Men have had thousands of years, you ladies deserve one day.

•   •   •

On one hand I understand where these comments come from.  Men, especially white men, historically have had unprecedented power and access to things like property rights, voting, and leadership positions in both church and government. There is no argument; worldwide men have had more power and control. For centuries women were 2nd class citizens if that, often no better than mere property. And I know first hand that in many developing countries around the world many women are no better off now than hundreds of years ago.

I know because I live in one of those developing countries. I live in Guatemala, a country where the machista attitude is still king and many women lack access to basic land rights, birth control options and education. It’s a country where family is valued above all else, but domestic violence is still quietly accepted as the norm. Change is happening, but slowly.

 •   •   •

I teach at an all girls’ schools in a small village called Santa Maria de Jesus. Each morning 120 indigenous Guatemalan girls in their brightly woven skirts and colorful blouses walk up the dirt road to come to school. They sit at wooden desks, one size too big, with their little brown feet dangling in plastic flip-flops. Many of these girls wouldn’t get to the opportunity to study otherwise, because preference is often given to their brothers. We always start with full class of 30 girls in 1st grade, but usually only 1/3 of them make it to 6th grade. I believe whole-heartedly in these girls and that by giving them access to education they will have more opportunities in the future.

I, if anyone get, believe in and celebrate, International Women’s Day, but it’s left me with a question:


In our pro-women, girls-only push, are we failing the next generation of young men?

Don’t we need groups for young boys? Groups that teach them what it means to work together? Don’t we need role models who will show how to respect women and serve them? How do we empower men to be wise leaders and humble learners? I don’t think that happens by just elevating and celebrating women.

 •   •   •

Guatemala has a large international community, NGOs from the US and Europe are on almost every city corner. Mission groups and churches have had a long history here as well. Thanks to a large international presence and many NGOs working on women’s rights, International Women’s Day is big deal here. In my local grocery store a handmade hung above the roses, “¡Feliz Dia de La Mujer!” My Facebook feed was full of empowering, encouraging posts honoring Guatemalan women. None of this bothers or upsets me in the slightest, but it does make me question. Why don’t I remember ever seeing a sign at the grocery story or a Facebook post about International Men’s Day? In fact I know very few organizations that are specifically working with boys or young men. I can name a few in the US, like Donald Miller’s Mentoring Project that are targeting boys who don’t have dad’s in their lives, but they seem to be few and far between.

It makes me wonder why and ask what the consequences will be? Don’t we need the next generation of men to grow up respecting, listening to and partnering with women? If we just focus on Women’s day and women’s rights where does that leave our next generation of men?

I believe, as I think Jesus modeled, that women and men are made equally in His image. Jesus constantly went against the culture to embrace the prostitute, the widow or the Samaritan women. In fact, the first person He revealed himself to was the woman at the well. He was radical in his treatment of women not as second-class citizens, but as beloved daughters. He gave worth to women, when society gave them next to nothing.

The church and our world clearly have a lot to learn in how we regard our daughters and young women. But do we also have something to learn about how we raise-up and teach our sons? Sometimes I wonder what would Jesus think of our 21st century Girl-Power society. Would he wonder why we have neglected young men?

•   •   •

My husband and I are expecting our first baby in a few months and we are thrilled. A little girl. She will be half Guatemalan, half gringo. And you can bet money on it that I want her to have access to education and be able to dream big dreams. I want her to be listened to and respected because of who she is and what she knows, not how she looks. I want her to see people from her gender in Congress and leading companies and preaching in churches. I want my daughter to be celebrated on International Women’s Day. And I hope that one day, many years from now, she will meet a man, who was also celebrated on International Men’s Day.

In case you were wondering, International Men’s Day is November 19th.

12th March
written by Michelle


I’ve spent the past three days battling this horrible cold. Today I finally made it from the bed to the couch- big improvements I tell you. But the whole time I kept thinking, How do mom’s do it when the baby is outside the womb? I mean the only decent thing I have done for anyone else the past two days is feed the dog and that doesn’t take much energy or thought. He’s not picky. I did not have to hold or rock a baby, patiently nurse or change yet another dirty diaper. To be honest the idea frightens me, how do sick mom’s take care of themselves and a little one or two?

I mean mom’s can’t call in sick.

I have been extremely thankful that my work is flexible and supportive. I can do emails and coordinating from home and my husband can take over translating and driving and night-time debriefs in a moment’s notice. Those are the benefits of job sharing (don’t worry there are countless other challenges, but I won’t go into them today). He makes me a smoothie before leaving the house and brings home soup for dinner. The dear woman who cleans our house made me the best homemade mint, ginger, cinnamon tea this morning. I’m convinced she’s  like Guatemalan’s version of Martha Stewart. And I’ve had some good friends who have shared their cold fighting home-remedies. My midwife was a phone call way when my fever was up to 100.7 and I tend to appreciate her calm response. “don’t worry your body will protect the baby at all cost. Just may take you longer to get better.” And the little girl inside of me hasn’t seemed to mind so much lying still for 3 days. She’s kicking and flipping as much as ever… and I love it. Every little tap and movement, somehow reassures me and makes me pause to listen to her, to wonder what she’ll be like and pray for her. It’s really the only form of communication we have right now, so I’ll take it.

Somehow bring sick and being forced to rest has also made me realize something. I can’t keep doing everything the way I was doing it and be a healthy mom. I’m sure all moms-to-be discover this ah-ha moment at different points. Probably some at the 1st trimester when your morning sickness turns to night sickness and you have to cancel plans and change schedules, or maybe for some moms at 30 weeks when you have gestational diabetes and sciatic nerve pain you are forced to slow down and put your feet up, and maybe for others it hits you on night 5 of the 2-hour sleep cycle. I don’t think there is any need to compare. For me, it’s been this week. Week 25. For the past 5 months I really haven’t had to change that much in my routine. A few more naps at the beginning and a few more calories in recent weeks, but that’s it. I’ve continued working full time, and walking with friends, making time for yoga class or a visit to the gym. I’ve been making meals and going to the market. Granted because it’s harder to carry large boxes of stuff I have gifted myself my own pregnancy spot right outside the grocery store…yep, on the red-line with my blinkers flashing. It’s totally illegal, and totally working for now. I’ve been up at night reading and browsing the internet, working on some articles and writing projects, but probably not getting as much sleep as I should be. And these few days I’ve realized something probably needs to change.

I want to enjoy these last 15 weeks of pregnancy and I want to be healthy, but I know that means making some changes. Saying no. Asking for help.

I guess mom’s really can’t call in sick, but I do think we need to learn to call for help. The closer I get to motherhood the more I realize how important it is to have girlfriends, other moms, family, babysitters and a spouse who I can ask for help.

I don’t think motherhood was meant to be done alone. I am thankful for sick days when I am reminded that it can’t be.


photo credit: digital journal (I wish my profile was that cute)  :)



2nd March
written by Michelle


I’m linking up with Leigh over at Hopeful Leigh. I am new to her blog, but this seems like such a fun way to sum up my month and see what others have been up to. Sometimes the months go by so fast, so even though it’s already March 2nd, I am pausing and remembering…February 2013.

So, in particular order here is what I’ve been Into:

The Little Things:

This coconut body butter from Trader Joe’s and these Chocolate Covered Soy Beans. I could eat an entire container a day, but I’ve been enjoying them since returning from the states. (Can you tell I’ve been savoring the last few of my Trader Joe’s goodies?!?) In a weak moment I almost ordered these from Amazon, but decided $10.99 was a bit too steep when they cost $3.99 in the store. If you live any where near a TJs go buy both of these things now. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.


It seems like the majority of my instagram pics are either of my food or my belly. Maybe there’s a connection, eh? Well, food and my growing belly have been both on my mind. And truth is I think I am eating a lot and often. Trying to give baby girl more varied options than avocado and tomato toast. This week I tried a recipe for Mexican Quinoa and Black Bean Bowls from Robin’s Balanced Life site and just made these Pumkpin-Banana anything muffins from Shauna’s site. (truth be told I didn’t have pumpkin or almond meal so I had to adapt, but they were still delicious. And since my husband is not much of a muffin person I get them all : )

New blogs:

I love reading blogs and finding new ones. These are two that are new to my reader. I met both of the authors when we were in the thick of braces and awkward jr high years and we have since reconnected via the blogsphere. Be sure to check these two sites out:

Elevensies- is an honest, down-to-earth account from a mom who writes about not having it all together. Refreshing and so, so real. Meredith, also blogs about non-mom related things over at If you’re looking for practical tips or ideas on what does it mean to live out faith and social justice without selling all of your belongings and moving to Africa, check out her blog.

Clouds and Chaos is Stacy’s journey of being a wife, step-mom and flight attendant. I especially loved this post about traveling with an infant from a flight attendant’s perspective. She’s witty and funny and has some great perspectives.

 Highlight of the Month:

Telling my family via 4 modes of technology that we are having a little GIRL. Yes, my brother was on his iphone, my sister and brother-in-law were connected via Facetime in Boston on my mom’s ipad and my sister and parents were together at home for a little skype sesh. Thank goodness for technology. I have a feeling our little girl will probably spend lots of time staring into a computer screen so her family can see her :)


I know this song is quite a few years old, but Israel Kamakawiwo’ole rendition of Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World has become my new favorite. It’s been playing on repeat in my car for weeks. For some reason it makes me think about and pray for the little girl growing inside.

baby girl

On My Wishlist:

I probably spend more time on the internet than I care to publicly admit, mostly going back and forth between kitchen designs and cabinets and cute baby girl clothes. This month the baby girl won out. Although we haven’t really purchased any clothes, these items are on my wishlist for her: this headband this handmade hat and these baby YOGA pants. Etsy may become my new favorite spot. Special thanks to my sister who has taken it upon herself to be a personal shopper and fashion coordinator for our yet to be born little one. I have a feeling she may be more put together than me.


My book club just finished this book: Grave Secrets, a great mystery/thriller based on true stories, centered in part around the atrocities that happened in Guatemala during and after the civil war during the 80s and 90s.

I’ve also been reading Anne Lammot’s new book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers and enjoying the simple, thoughtful anecdotes about prayer. And I’m super excited to start Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.

{stay tuned there may be a pre-release book review and give away coming soon! }

Making Me Laugh:

Whatever your thoughts be on our president, put them aside and watch this. Best combination of Dance and Mom EVER. Thank you, Michelle Obama.


What have you been into this month?

Head over to HopefulLeigh’s site and link up. Open until Wednesday.

Happy weekend!