Posts Tagged ‘everyday’

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!


2nd November
written by Michelle

If you follow the blogger and writer world you probably already know that November is National Novel Writing Month. And even though I may have slightly considered the idea, I don’t think I have a novel in me. But I do believe there is something important about committing to do something every day.

I’m like 5 years behind, but thanks to online library check-outs (yes, it even works internationally) I recently finished Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and loved how she talked about the simple discipline of choosing to do something every day:

If you do something every day, you tend to fall into a routine, and routine has a bad reputation. It’s true that novelty and challenge bring happiness, and that people who break their routines, try new things, and go new places are happier, but I think that some routine activities also bring happiness.

Since moving to Guatemala 2 1/2 years ago my sense of routine was one of the first big things I had to let go of. Here there is no ok, very little routine. And it’s true at first there was a deep sense of joy found in the freedom and novelty of not having the same routine every day, every week. But I know I work better when I can give myself some kind of routine, some kind of rhythm.

Last month this friend posted an instagram pic inviting people to participate in FatMumSlim’s October Photo Day. Looking for a little routine and something simple to do EVERY DAY. I did it. Plus, October may just be my favorite month :) So it seemed liked the perfect way to start. I was pretty good about doing it every day (given a 7 day stint without internet)

Now, November is here. School is out. We’re only hosting one group. No travel plans. And Guatemala does not have Black Friday Sales or really any kind of pre-holiday frenzy. So it seems like the perfect month to write. And to write every day.

So that’s what I’m committed to do.

Write every day.

A new blog/twitter friend wrote a great post about the difference between being a writer or a blogger. Or is there a difference? It’s a fascinating question for our generation and I’m sure one with a range of answers. I for one, feel like I can be both. A writer and a blogger. I was looking back at this post from 2010…where I said I wrote almost every day. Wow, I miss that.

So this month I am going to write. Every day. Something. Here on the blog. In my journal. I have a few articles sitting in my draft folder that need to be edited and sent off.  And I have stories swimming around my head. And a few other stories that are nothing more than quickly typed notes on my iphone. My hope is to begin to compile, organize and tell these stories this month.

Whenever I read Henry Nouwen’s quote about telling out stories I feel encouraged. He says,

“We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.”


So this month I’m telling my story. I’m writing every day.


Do you do something every day? If, so what? Does the simple routine bring you joy? Do share.


P.S. It’s not too late to join FatMumSlim for November’s #photoaday or National Novel Writing Month.

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

9th August
written by Michelle

I’ve been out of the blogging world for the past few weeks— thanks to a wonderful group of 35 high schoolers who were here for 7 days and a terribly persistent head cold that has kept me in bed, coughing and congested. But I wanted to give a little update about what’s been going on and a look at day-to-day life in Guatemala.

So, here’s what we’ve been…

Doing: G has been building installing and building water filters like crazy. If you don’t know about the water filter project you can read more here or if you’re really into the engineering and design you can see the technology they use here. I’ve been hosting teams, responding to emails with bzillions of questions, and meeting to plan out 2013. I know, I know 2013 planning is so un-Guatemalan- but since we work with schools and churches that have their master calendars set years ahead of time we have to adjust  : )


Eating: When I was in the states in June one of my many treasures that I brought back was a CROCKPOT and I’ve been loving it. I’ve made this whole chicken recipe a few times since then and it’s delish. Who knew cooking a whole chicken could be so easy? And the best part is you can use the left overs to make chicken stalk or soup for the following day!


Reading: G’s favorite nightly reading is anything on this website. I just finished Michael Pollan’s, Food Rules and a novel called The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee.


Learning: That the culture wars fought over facebook and twitter that pin the right versus the left and argue over chicken sandwiches and who said what is really not what it’s all about. It’s actually quite embarrassing. I’m thankful for voices like these that offer a different perspective and hope for what I believe really matters: Jen Hatmaker and Meredith Miller. (one blog friend, one real friend : )


Watching: the Olympics…obviously. But, with Spanish commentators. More on that later.


Listening to: If you’re at all interested in justice work and wonder how short term mission is or is not effective listen to this: Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute gives a challenging and humbling message that should cause you and I to question how or why we serve.


Hoping for: That this horrible cold will be gone- I’ve exhausted all of my natural cold remedies and am getting frustrated that I’m still not getting better (c’mon honey-lemon-tea, warm-salt-water-gargles, wheatgrass-shots, and your magic, pleeeaaassse.)

Celebrating: My sister and Brian’s ENGAGEMENT- You can read the whole proposal story here- Getting excited for another family wedding (and not so secretly looking forward to the fact that I don’t have to plan this one : )


What have you been____? (fill in the blank)


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?

2nd May
written by Michelle

Wednesday are my attempt to capture part of what life is like here in Guatemala.

Feel free to join in. Wherever you are. 

Sometimes I am reminded how different things are in Guatemala. Like last week’s sighting.

Now on to this week.

I was skyping with my friend earlier this week and she heard a horrible noise through the microphone.

She gasped and asked “what the heck was that?”

Oh, nothing. Just gunshots.

yes, gunshots.

this. is. guatemala.

I say it nonchalantly because it is. kinda.

When I moved into our home the next door neighbor warned me that every night between 10pm  - 2am there are gunshots. Supposedly, the guards from the different residential communities (ours included) shoot their guns into the air as a way to ward off potential criminals.

I imagine it’s like dogs marking their territory.

Something like, hey I got this place covered. It’s mine.

Although maybe it’s just what they do to stay awake between those awful hours. I dunno.

Regardless, it is somewhat normal. And now I don’t even notice it.

And if it’s not gunshots that you hear, then it will be firecrackers.

I tell you if there is ever any real attack in Guatemala, I will not know it because firecrackers sounds very similar to bombs going off.

(not that I really know what a bomb sounds like).

But just go with me.

However, most days my life looks pretty normal. No guns, no firecrackers and no bombs.

( see proof below)


normal life. waiting in line at the bank.

finally bought a bedside lamp. it’s a little small, but my stack of books finally has a purpose.

we take naps. like father, like…. dog.

And try to exercise.  This week we played ultimate.

However, the real reason I play is it’s the only opportunity I get to wear these sexy shoes.

i buy lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

And carefully soak all of them for 5 min to get rid of any creatures that may have caused this.

(and yes, I keep our fruit basket on top of our washing machine. you don’t?)


see, pretty normal.


I refrained from taking pictures of the guns that our guards carry. This is a family friendly blog : )

If you’re really interested google “guns in Guatemala.” You’ll get the idea.

What did you take pictures of this Wednesday?


I don’t have kids. So I take pictures of our dog.

I never, EVER thought I would be one of those people who posts pictures of their pets on the worldwideweb. But here I am.

What is the world coming to?

My sister and friend Chelsea are going to be shocked. I know.

25th April
written by Michelle

Yesterday I saw a woman riding a scooter. No big deal, I know.

Lots of women ride scooters.

But this woman was riding on the back of a scooter…



no joke.

There are many things Guatemalans do that I try to incorporate into my life.

But, this will not be one of them.

I am certain.

(this is not a picture of the breastfeeding woman. I was too shocked/amazed/confused to even begin to pull out my camera. This happens to be the only photo I have of a family scooter experience)

this is guatemala


Happy Wednesday wherever you are!

22nd July
written by Michelle


…some days end in tears.

Yesterday was one of those days.* My 6th grade class had been unusually difficult. Of course, it wasn’t the whole 6th grade class, just a handful of pre-pubescent boys with emptied out plastic pen containers, perfect for shooting spit wads. I was trying to teach the difference between “do” and “does” and they were trying to teach their compañeros how to make weird burping noises while shooting wads of paper.

boys. boys. boys.

• • •

{doesn’t matter what country or language. spit wads and burps are universal }

• • •

I made them stay after class and gave my best “if-you-do-that-again-talk” in my angry (spanish) teacher voice. I signed their agendas. Wrote notes to each of their parents. And watched them leave one by one.

The door closed. And the tears came.

There is something about being a teacher where one bad day can make you feel like every day is a bad day. If you’re a teacher you get this, right?

I believe teaching is a calling. Good teachers are called to be teachers because they have a love for students and a passion to teach. But teaching is a unique profession where you spend hours and weeks with a group of kids, investing  day-by-day for 10 months of the year, sometimes with few tangible results.

I find it’s hard to measure sucess as a teacher.  And maybe this is true for other professions as well. Counselors, pastors, parents and social workers probabaly feel something similar. But that’s why one bad day, one discouraging class, or eight spid-wad-throwing-boys can make you doubt and question  and occasionally cry.

I’ve always said good teaching involves meeting students where they are at, in order to challenge them to get where they could be.

I guess my struggle is how do I meet 6th grade boys where they are at?

suggestions welcome.

have a wonderful weekend!

*note: even though many of you are currently enjoying summer break, in Guatemala our “summer” doesn’t start until October. So in US school-calendar terms we’re in about the equivalent of “March” right now : )

13th April
written by Michelle


“What if the only things you had today were what you gave thanks for yesterday?”

My friend Jen shared this quote with me last week because she and I both know it’s much easier to complain, than it is to give thanks. I am the kind of person who likes (and unfortunately is quite good at) pointing out the things that are not quite working. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram I am a classic One; The Reformer.

I like to make things better. I can walk into a room, a meeting or really, any situation and my immediate thought is, “Ok, how can I make this better?” Words like change, improve and fix are my manta, but I am finding that these words leave very little space for gratefulness and contentment.  When you’re often focused on what’s not working it’s easy to lose sight of what is.

What if instead of trying to make everything better, I started trying to be thankful for how things are?

• I want to be a person who gives thanks for my health and the ability to move and run free from aches and pains. •  I want to be a person who sees the opportunities I’ve had to travel, attend college, and own a car as a privilege that I have been given, not a right that I have earned. • I want to be a person who gives thanks that I have enough money to buy today’s meal and plenty to share tomorrow.  •  I want to be thankful for my country, but not abuse its power or support its’ abuse of others. •  I want to be grateful for running water in my house, a soft bed to lay my head and a roof that protects me from rain—luxuries that almost 2 million people in the world don’t have. • I don’t want to take for granted the fact that I can read a book or breathe in clean air or walk without fear in the street. • I am thankful that I have the freedom to choose what I want to do, who I want to marry and what I believe. • I want to be person who gives thanks for the small things; a hand to hold, a friend who knows me, a gorgeous sunset. • I want to learn how to have a thankful heart, even in hardship and loss. • I want to be a person that can be thankful for the what, even when I don’t understand the why.


So, I ask you dear reader: “What if the only things you had today were what you gave thanks for yesterday?”

What would you give thanks for?




1st March
written by Michelle

Dear Teacher, Colleague, Post Office Worker, Telephone Operator, Secretary, Woman at the tienda, Waiter at the café and Mr. Bus Driver,

This letter is to you, and anyone who has ever worked with, waited for or felt impatient with someone learning a second language.

Please know that I am trying, I am, I promise, but learning a second language is hard. My mind is often swimming between the word I know and the word I want to say, and often spanglish is the result. I know the word for “bread” (pan) and the word for “crumbs” (pedacito) but I don’t know how to ask the person stocking the aisle at the grocery store where I can find bread crumbs. Instead “pan de crumbs” is what I say. Your confused look doesn’t help. Be patient, please. Ask me a question to clarify. Or explain it again. When I ask you how much something costs, writing it down or showing me the price (Q 670) is much much better than just rattling off “seiscientos setenta.

Learning a second language has the ability to make you feel oh, about  this small. I have a post-college degree but I often feel like a 3rd grader when I say the wrong thing or confuse two words. I mean, miedo and mierda sound similar, right? Trust me they are easy to mix-up! (and if you don’t know what those words mean, look them up. True story. I switched them once and embarrassed my director and myself).

Confusion and regret become regular feelings. Sometimes I tend to focus on the one word I don’t know because I know I’ve heard it before, but I can’t remember for the life of me what it means. Other times I understand what is being said, but the context doesn’t make sense.  And jokes are the worst. It never feels fun when everyone is laughing, because it’s hard to tell if they are laughing at the joke or at you.

There are a still of things I don’t understand: Verbs tenses that I say incorrectly, phrases that I use out of context, and cultural references that still don’t make sense. And I will probably continue to ask frequent questions, but your answers and explanations are ever so helpful.

Speaking slowly and clearly makes a world of difference, speaking loudly does not. I know I sound different when I speak your language, but when you encourage me and say “tu hablas muy bien” or “tu espanol esta mejorando” I feel like I can keep learning. And please, do correct me. I want to be corrected, but just not in front of other people. When I feel nervous or stressed I speak worse and make lots of mistakes, but when you are patient and friendly I feel like I could talk for hours.

Thank you for being patient and not staring at me too long when I say something that makes absolutely no sense.


Someone Slowly Learning a Second Language