Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

19th January
written by Michelle


Yikes. It’s January 19th. My computer tells me I started this draft on January 6th- so, here we are 13 days later.

I remember well in my years before moving to Guatemala and becoming a mom that I would carve out a few hours at the end of each year to reflect. I would curl up in a cozy coffee shop on the mesa, a few blocks from where I used to live, and write and dream and make lists of what I wanted to do in the coming year. I remember 3 of my best friends and I used to go out for dinner at an Italian restaurant, the ones that have the white paper on top instead of a table cloth- perfect for small children, or ambitious 20-something’s. And over rosemary bread dipped in olive oil, we would each write out our 5 goals for the year. We wrote and dreamed about things that most 20 years old want: new relationships and work opportunities and traveling to new countries. I remember distinctly one of those years I wrote something like, “Learn Spanish.” Ha, funny how life works out.

. . .

But this season of life feels different. If feels harder to carve out a few hours to go sit in a coffee shop just to dream and write and plan. In between washing diapers and washing dishes, and coordinating schedules and planning meals, and answering emails and arranging transpiration, and doing all the good stuff that goes into making a life and a marriage work, I find that I have less and less energy and time for me, or for writing, or for even talking to a friend.

But I know first hand it’s not a problem of not having enough time, it’s a problem of having said, “yes” to too much. I have felt this before: this slow stress that comes creeping up and then blindsides you and all of the sudden, you wonder why you’re crying in the parking lot at the grocery store. Yeah, that one. It steals the joy away from whimsical moments, whispering what you should be getting done the moment you stop to rest or play. I know that feeling, and I know I don’t want to go back there.

But, let me tell you people. It’s hard. At least hard for me. If my time and energy were indispensible, I would be saying yes to everything, to leading this and planning that. I would be teaching classes and scheduling events and on-the go-go-go. And the thing is, I probably would get it all done, but often at the expense of those closest to me: my husband and my daughter and myself.

. . .

There was a movie that came out years ago, a total teacher-nerd kind of movie, “The Freedom Writers.” And although not central to the story, there is one scene that I will never forget. The lead (Hilary Swank) is rushing around trying to get ready for one of final big event with her students. The very students she has been mentoring and investing in and for all-important purposes, I mean, she’s helping to changing their lives! She’s a stellar teacher, but you see the sub-plot unfolding. She begins devoting more time to her classroom, and less to her marriage. And in one 3-second scene, she comes home from work to find a note from her husband on the dresser, saying…he’s leaving. I remember sitting on the couch next to my roommate as I was grading my own student’s notebooks, and I started crying.

Something convicted me. It’s like I saw myself. I knew that could easily be me one day. And it scared me.

. . .

Fast-forward 6 years later, I left the public school sector and I am living in a different country, now married and mothering and working with a non-profit organization. I have put my classroom teaching days on hold for now, mostly because I know the days of teaching and playing with my little girl are fleeting.

But two weeks ago, the director of the girls school where I used to teach, asked me if I would be interested in teaching at the junior high? (she just so happens to also be my sister-in-law:). You remember the girls school??!! This one, where I wrote about how I go to their 6th graduation every year and so few of the girls continuing studying because they have to help their families. And now that very school is opening up a jr. high! I was thrilled. I almost said yes, on the spot. I love teaching, and love those girls. It seemed like an easy answer.

But I told her I would talk to Gerber and get back to her.

I shared with him one morning, while standing over the sink, toothbrush in one hand, make-up brush in the other. He listened, and nodded and then remained silent.

He asked a few questions. I got defensive. He said it seemed like our life already felt really full, between juggling work and schedules and groups and caring for our child. He asked why I wanted to add one more thing when he often hears me complaining about not having enough time for things I enjoy?

In my head I rattled off all of my usual mantras, I will be more productive with my timeEverything will get done. I can do one more thing.

He looked at me, as I tried to brush powder on my face and toothpaste on my teeth and said, “I trust you. You can decide what’s best.”

. . .

So I did what I usually do, I prayed while I drove to work that morning and then, texted my best friend.

Usually, what I hear God say and what she says, line up. So that must mean something, riiiiight???

She wrote back, “I know you love teaching, but I think Gerber’s right. It’s ok to say no, sometimes. Your marriage and family may appreciate it.”

Then I heard God say, if you and Gerber aren’t equally excited for something, maybe you should listen to that.

That sounded pretty wise. I swallowed, what I knew was my pride, and called my sister-in-law to say that I wouldn’t be able to teach this year. It was hard, but felt good.

. . .

I know it’s an age-old rule, but sometimes saying no to one thing, means saying yes to something else.

I know myself, and I know that I will always have the propensity to put my work above my family. I know in whatever field I am in, it will be a struggle. I don’t necessarily like this about myself, but I know there is a reason why that movie scene hit me like it did 6 years ago. And I know I need to consistently keep choosing what’s really important. Because just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should.

I saw something Shauna Niequist or Laura from Hollywood Housewife posted a few months ago and it stuck with me: Don’t Disappoint The Wrong People. And I decided that is my mantra for 2015. That is what I want to repeat to myself this year ahead. This is what I am going to write on a post-it note in my calendar.

Don’t Disappoint The Wrong People.

31st May
written by Michelle

One of our first fights was about eggs.

yes, really. It went something like this:

“umm, have you seen the eggs I bought? (indirect, accusatory way of saying, this is your fault.)

“yea. I used them to make eggs this morning.” (nonchalant, because what else would you do with eggs?)

“whhhaaat!? I was going to use them to make banana bread.” (over-reacting example of how I had an idea in my head but failed to communicate it out-loud.)

And then it only got worse; quickly spiraling into an argument about being too controlling, someone over-reacting, someone else not communicating, and you can imagine how it went from there. Both of our ugly sides came out.  Both of us mad and angry… about eggs.


•   •   •


I look back now and think how ridiculous it is to fight about eggs. But it’s never really about eggs, is it? It’s about something deeper. It’s about something that comes up when all of the sudden you’re in love and married and trying to figure out the right way to wash dishes and what should or should not get hung on the walls. All of the sudden the small things like who uses up the last of the eggs become big things.


Maybe that’s what I’ve learned. Marriage is about learning how to share eggs.

And somewhere in their you have realize that it’s impossible to share eggs when you’re stuck labeling things as mine and yours. Egg sharing is serious business. It means you have to learn how to not complain if someone preparers their scrambled eggs different from how you prepare yours. And you have to learn to forgive quickly when someone breaks the last egg. And sometimes it means you may buy the eggs, but not get to eat them.

The truth is sharing is sometimes hard. I am sure for some personalities and people egg sharing comes more naturally. For us we’ve had to work at it. And we will continue to have to work at it.  The truth is I love my husband and because I love him so much I want to be able to share who I am and what I have. I want to not just do life together, but really learn how to share life together. However, sharing by definition mean giving something away. You can’t want to share a life with someone and be insistent about always get things your way. It’s just doesn’t work. I believe what you gain in marriage, is because of something you lose. You lose a little freedom, control and perhaps your way of doing things. But what you get in return is so much better.

So, we’re learning how to share a life and share eggs.*


 *authors note: we have not argued about eggs since that first fight. We have however argued about numerous other things.


The Truth about Marriage is a new series I plan on writing about from time to time and inviting other people to join in and share their perspective.

In a culture that feeds us stories of either fairy tell weddings or of marriages that crumble into messy divorces, I think its important to have places where you can tell the truth. What does real, not perfect, day-to-day marriage look like? What does loving someone with everything you got look like when a minute later you’re so frustrated wondering how on earth this is going to work? Maybe when we learn to be honest about what marriage looks like (the good, the ugly and the confusing) we’ll be less and less inclined to worship the idea of it. Marriage is wonderful, but it is certainly not a means to end. I want to tell the real story. The truth about marriage.


I’m curious, if you’re married what does marriage look like for you? How is it different than you expected? Or is it?

If you’re single and wanting one day to be married, what are the expectations or ideals that you have been told about marriage?

28th May
written by Michelle


♥   the short version   ♥

he asked a question. i said yes. and we couldn’t be happier!

(now, i know some of you want a few more details. don’t worry i’ve also included the longer version)


♥    the long version    ♥

Some of my favorite things in life are handwritten notes, thoughtful, little gifts and SURPRISES. And Thursday May 26th was filled with all three.

I was at work all day. We had a talent show that evening and Gerber had told me the day before that he wanted to come watch. I said he really didn’t have to. I mean watching 5-10 year-olds dance and sing and march around the stage is usually only entertaining when they’re your own. But he came. (and he came carrying a latte for me, too!).  For the next two hours we watched the kids perform, talked to the other teachers, walked around and joked about how it was almost year ago when we were here in the same place watching another school performance.

He kept asking when it was going to be over. I knew these things tend to go on and on and on. He said he was hungry, so we left. He asked if I wanted to grab dinner. And really, all I wanted to do was to change out my uniform that I had been wearing for the past 12 hours. (yes, I now wear a uniform to work every day. That’s another story altogether) We drove to my apartment, but there wasn’t parking on the street where he usually parks. He was acting a little weird, and asked me if I would park the truck. Which thanks to many stick-shift driving lessons I now can do all by myself : ) So he hopped out and I drove around the block and parked the truck.

And then I opened the door to my apartment and saw this:

♥     ♥     ♥

I was confused. And surprised. And I even asked out loud, “What is this?” He had set candles on my table and a beautiful bouquet of flowers resting on top of a huge box. At this point I’m thinking…Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. It’s not my birthday. Oh, my gosh, this is IT!

I opened the box and inside was a journal. But not just any journal, it’s a journal that he gave me 10 months ago the day after we started dating. 10 months ago he wrote a list all of the reasons why he liked me. And since then we’ve added pictures, lists of things we want to do together, and memories. I had written reasons why I liked him and had given it back to him. He brought with him to California and gave it back to me for Christmas and then I gave it to him when we celebrated 6 months. This journal has very little monetary value, but it is one of the most precious things I own. In fact if there was a fire in my house, I would probabaly grab it and my passport!

I opened it.

And inside he had written a list of reasons why he loves me.

I started reading the first page.

And then another.

And another.

And another.

♥     ♥     ♥

I was overwhelmed because I realized how much He knows me. He sees me for who I am.

And he loves me.

There was another box inside and I pulled it out to find a beautiful card with a poem that he had written for me - in English and Spanish.

And then there was another box. A simple, little brown box. I opened it, but it was empty. Confused, I looked at him…

I have a question to ask you before you get what was in that box.”

And then he got down on one knee, held my hand in his, and with tears in his eyes he looked at me and told me that he wanted to spend his life with me.


And then, he asked:


Will. You. Marry. Me?


With a huge smile:


I. Said. Yes!


He started crying. And I started screaming.

I still couldn’t believe it. I think I said oh, my gosh, oh, gosh, oh my gosh at least 30 times. I kept looking at him and then at this beautiful ring on my finger, thinking how did this just happen?

♥     ♥     ♥

It’s this surreal feeling because you can’t really anticipate or plan for it. We sat on the couch, smiling and called our parents. One conversation in English. One in Spanish. From different countries and cultures. But they both shared how excited they were for us and how much they had been praying for us and the person we would one day marry. We called my sisters and brother and then texted a few friends.

Finally, I did in fact get to change my clothes. And he took me to dinner at my favorite, little restaurant here in Antigua. We laughed and talked about how we met 3 years ago and how we never imagined that we would be here together. In love. Engaged. And excited to spend our life together. We reminisced about the past 10 months of dating and how much we have learned. We dreamed about what’s next. And because we’re both pretty practical we also talked about the challenges that are to come. Marriage is a lifetime commitment that is made of a thousand small, daily choices to love and serve someone else. And, that sounds like it takes a lot of work. But, good work.


My Promise

In spanish the word fiancé is “prometida.Literally, translated it means, promised. I like that. I am promised to Gerber. And my prayer and promise for this season is that:

I will continue to love God first. I will give us grace as we learn together. And I will remember that a wedding is a one day celebration, but building a marriage will last a lifetime.

Gerber, I love you. And I am thrilled to spend the rest of my life with you!

13th January
written by Michelle

I am not usually big on new year’s resolutions. It’s not that I’m against resolutions or goals per se, it’s just a self-protection mechanism because I know I can’t keep them. I’m the kind of person who writes list and actually enjoys it. And as would be expected I used to write lists of new years resolutions.

But last year, I followed my friend, Cassie’s advice and decided to choose just one; just one resolution. So, last year my one resolution was to floss. Yep, to floss.  my.  teeth.  E.V.E.R.D.A.Y.  I know, not very profound or character building necessarily, but sometimes I think resolutions can be small, simple, practical things. So, did I floss my teeth every day? Of course not. But I improved-greatly. I am firm believer that resolutions shouldn’t be measured on a pass or fail basis, but rather on a scale of improvement.

Which brings us to 2011. Area of improvement: Using (insert: following) recipes.

I like cooking, but I am far too practical and sometimes lazy to come home and cook every night. And when I do cook, I have a strange aversion to following what the recipes says. I mean, cooking is so much more fun when you can use a little of this or add some of that, right? However, this add-and-alter technique doesn’t always yield very good results. Not to mention, that I’ve been living without an oven for the past 6 months, and let me tell you there are only so many things you can make with a stove. All of these excuses only give further evidence that this is an area that I can improve in.

A few days ago Gerber stopped by my apartment holing a large, rectangular box. Inside: a new convection oven! I had been complaining about not having an oven and had looked at a few options, but they seemed over priced. So, either he is a very generous boyfriend or he got tired of eating avocado tomato toast when he came over to my house for dinner. (Maybe both : )

So, now I am the proud owner of  a mr. oster convection oven (see  first photo). I’ve already made bbq chicken pizza and garlic parmesan chicken and pumpkin bread. But I need more recipes. So, please please send me your favorites. And if I use one of your recipes I will reward you with a FREE photo and a blog post in your honor.

Here’s to new years, new recipes, and small improvements. Happy New Year!

(yes, I do realize it’s 14 days past New Year’s Day…but lets be honest, the whole month represents a new year, right?)

7th January
written by Michelle

According to my reliable sources at Real Simple most people give up or simply forget about their new years resolutions by February 17th. Well, it’s January 6th and I am happy to report that I have kept my one, yes, just one, new years resolution:

I will floss my teeth everyday.

You would think as a fairly responsible, healthy adult I would naturally floss everyday, but truth be told- I don’t. And it gets worse. I am also am one of those people who causally lies to my dentist every 6 months or so. (oh, just confess, I know there are others out there who do it, too!)

“Are you flossing every day? uh-huh. I mumble, nodding my head to convince him, just as much as myself.

Because new years resolutions often dissolve into new years ideals that seem to either get forgotten or broken by the 3rd week of February I’ve decided that my new years resolutions should be 1) simple and 2) shared. Cassie, a friend of mine who has this way of bring simplicity and joy to just about everything in life, told me that she only has one resolution each year-just one thing, however small or practical. One year she decided to stop biting her nails and for a whole year that was her goal.

I was inspired by the “just one” rule because so often I tend to over do it. I tend to create unrealistically long lists of every hope and goal imaginable for the coming year. Now there is nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams and writing out hopes for the year ahead- I still do it, but my lists are too long and far too personal to publish on the public-sphere of the blog world. Nonetheless, there is something significant about having a very tangible, measurable new years resolution, however small or practical it may be.

Last year my one resolution was to not use a plastic grocery bag for the whole year.

And thanks to my handy-dandy, reusable chico bag that was compacted and stuffed into in my purse, I did pretty a good job keeping this one. And now we will all breathe a little less CO2. Thankyouverymuch. I plan to keep this one up, only because every little thing helps. And I am convinced that a world with less plastic bags will be a much better world.

So, dear twenty-ten, this year I will floss my teeth everyday.

Please ask me about it. And remind me that although the world may not be a better place because of my diligent flossing, I am convinced that my gums and teeth and my future children will thank me for it. And if nothing else, I will not have to lie to my dentist anymore.

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