Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

27th May
written by Michelle


On Monday my mom posted this photo of my Grandfather in honor of Memorial Day. I knew that he had served in WWII, but I had never paid much attention to the dates. He left for Europe, less than year after he and my grandmother has been married. It’s hard to imagine my grandparents as newly weds, in-love and holding hands and probably sharing books. I don’t have any memories of them together nor do I remember hearing many stories about those days. And sadly, they are no longer here for me to ask.

I wonder what it felt like for my Grandmother to say good-bye to her husband after being married for less than year? She had only been in the United States for five, maybe six years? I wonder if she still felt like a foreigner, leaning a new system and language all while completing medical school? I wonder what she did during those years they were apart? Did they write letters? How did they stay in touch? What did she do on lonely Saturday mornings? Did he think of her often or was his work in intelligence so consuming that he didn’t have time to miss her? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I can only wonder.

You know what else I wonder, how was it when he came back? Was it a hard adjustment for him? Or maybe for her? Or perhaps, for both?

Maybe it was seamless. Maybe they were so happy to just be back together. But my hunch is that it probably involved some transition.

Because when you do life apart for a while, you have to re-learn how to do life together.

For the past year or so Gerber and I have been trying to learn this rhythm of coming and going, of doing life apart and then together again. By no means are we separated by wars and deployment for years at a time. I don’t want to compare or undermine the kind of sacrifice or pain that many military families know too, well.

But on a much smaller scale, because of the type of work we do, we do have this weird rhythm where he’s gone for a week and then home again. Apart and then together. Together for another week and then apart. You see how it goes. In May and June, Gerber’s gone for a total of 4 weeks, just about every other week, including this one. Granted, this is our busiest season, but still, usually he is gone at least one week a month.

What we’re finding out is that the weeks he’s gone, we both do fine. He is taking care of a team of volunteers and coordinating water filter and stove projects. He’s translating and mixing cement and sharing his heart. He’s in his element and doing meaningful work 24/7. And even though the extreme heat and lack of alone time, drain my introverted husband, he loves doing what he’s doing.

The weeks Gerber’s gone, I gear up for solo-parenting and managing life at home. I re-arrange my work schedule, I make time for grocery shopping and fixing the curtain rod that falls down again. Elena and I eat dinner picnic style outside so there’s one less thing to clean in the evening. I arrange play dates or we visit my in-laws or find a new playground to explore. Anything to make afternoons and evenings a little easier. I ask our sitter to come early one morning so I can go to the gym. We eat leftovers a lot. I try to skype with a friend in the evening. We make it work. And in general, we have developed a pretty good schedule while Daddy is away.

But the tension and arguments come in the transition. When we go back to life together. Gerber comes home after a very full, intense, sweaty week of work with people. They sleep outside, use a latrine and bathe by buckets. He’s physically tired and emotionally drained. He needs some downtime and a shower. He would love a nap and then just wants to be with his girls. Probably, in that order.

Maybe you can already see where this is going.

I am so excited he’s coming home because I want to talk. I want to hear about the week and what happened and tell him about mine….what cute thing Elena did and what new words she said. I want to tell him about work and my friend who is having a baby. I want to plan something to do, a family trip or breakfast out perhaps? I have lists in my head and already have an idea of what we can do for the weekend. I’ve been thinking about it since Wednesday, of course, because I have been home every night. I am tired, but not so much physically tired, as emotionally empty.

He comes home and feels overwhelmed. And I get disappointed. And then we go through this cycle. Whose week was harder? Who is more tired? We know the answers; we both are in different ways. No one wins in the ugly game of comparison. We know this. We are both working and parenting and taking care of our family and in some seasons the scale tips more one way or the other. We make sacrifices and say I am sorry and start again.

Maybe this is common for other couples, or maybe it’s just us. I am not really sure.

People always ask me, oh it must be so hard when Gerber is gone? And yes, it’s true I don’t like it when he’s gone, but honestly we manage ok. The harder part is often we he comes back. For us, that transition is tough. I used to feel embarrassed about admitting this. I worried people would think, it should be so wonderful once he’s home. Why on earth would it be hard? What’s hard about coming home?

A few months ago I was sharing this with a woman who came down with one of our groups. Her own kids are a bit older than me, and one of them happened to serve in the military. As we sat waiting for dessert to be served, she asked me directly and sincerely…So how is it when Gerber comes home?

I confessed, “I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to come back together after we’ve been apart.”

She nodded, “Do you know that most military spouses say that saying good-bye to their husband was hard, but that it was actually tougher when their husbands returned home?” She put her hand on my leg, “Don’t underestimate how hard the transition can be.”

Obviously, we’re not a military family. Gerber is not gone for months or years in undisclosed locations. But it has been helpful to have a framework as to try to understand why the transition can be hard.

It makes think about my grandmother, has a young woman of 26. What it was like for her and my grandfather to be back together again after almost 3 years apart? What was their transition like? I can only hope that it was sweet and that they gave each other lots of grace. Because that’s what any transition needs, right? Grace to find a new rhythm and routine. And the thing about grace is you don’t just give it once. No, grace must be extended again and again. Like a good cup of coffee, you need more each morning.

So we get to keep learning and listening to one another and trying to show grace. And we will get to try again this Friday, when Gerber comes home after a week away. I am getting my grace ready and am going to try and keep some of the lists in my head, in my head, at least for a little bit :)

P.S. How do you and your spouse handle the transition of coming and going when you have different needs?


14th March
written by Michelle




Last December as we cruised down 101 freeway, enjoying the rare moment with Elena asleep in her car seat and one of not signing wheels-on-the-bus, I started talking. Gerber drove and started listening. A usual pattern we find ourselves in; the talker and the listener.

I want to write more, I began.  I have so many ideas about articles and books. But everything gets stuck in my head. I feel like there’s not enough time or there’s always other stuff to get done.

Blah, Blah. I have heard myself say versions of this same thing before. It’s been on shuffle, coming up in conversations for years.

We all know these are just excuses. But the feelings are real. Life in this season IS full. I write for work, a lot. I respond to questions and make schedules and draft project proposals. I write emails to dear friends who live far away and thumb tap Instagram novel length posts. Sometimes at the end of the day my words-for-writing tank is empty. I once went to a conference where one of my favorite writing teachers said the best thing you can do as a writer is use your first words for the most important thing.

. . .

We keep driving, as the freeway hugs the cliffs on one side and the ocean sparkles in the reflection out the window on the other.

He looks at me, “So, what do you need to write?”

His questions are simple, so direct. They take the hundreds of feelings and thoughts swimming around inside and get to the essence.

Space, I answer, thinking more about figurative space, like space during the day to set-aside for writing.  

We drive on in silence, both staring straight ahead.

I used to think oh, great. thaaaat conversation ended well, interrupting his silence for an ending. But a few years of marriage has taught me to respect the silence. Usually, it just means he’s thinking.

It’s not an ending, but an invitation to pause.

“What about if we divide the space in the office, so you can have a desk.”

It wasn’t really a question. More of a solution.

When we moved back into our newly remodeled house last year, I had the idea of using the kitchen as my work/writing space. We even got a special bar stool because I was convinced this is where I wanted to write, in the middle of cutting up grapes and making phone calls and picking up those ridiculous letter magnets that never seem to stay on the fridge. I imagined writing between life at the table and the high chair and the kitchen sink.

And I do spend a lot of time in between those places. And I enjoy most of them. But I cannot write there. I have tried.

I tried to set-up my laptop at the kitchen table, after the dishes were cleaned off and the dreaded high-chair tray wiped down and the baby in bed. I grabbed my tea and something sweet and aimlessly meandered through work emails and checking facebook and starting blog drafts. But there was no place to leave my post-it notes with scribbled down ideas or pin-up pictures and quotes for inspiration. There wasn’t any space for consistency.

The other thing that writing teacher said was, writers need to create a place to do their work.

She was right.

Physical space for me is deeply connected to figurative space. I needed an actual location, a desk, a work place to call my own, to take my writing and my time seriously. Of course there is nothing wrong with working from couches with babies nestled next you and kitchen tables and stolen moments in-between nap time and dinner time. That works, and for some seasons, that may be all you get. So dear writer, take it. Make it yours and write with whatever time and space you have.


But I was ready for a desk.

Last week, Gerber spent a Thursday night re-assembling the corner desk piece he had bought for himself. He separated it, installed an extra base and set up a work space for me, next to the window because he knows I love the sun. He made room. He gave me a physical space to write, and maybe equally significant the encouragement that he values what I want to do.  I sometimes think in marriage the most loving thing we can do is create space for your what matters most to your spouse.

So I am now typing this at my desk, my space.


I love how the afternoon sun bounces off one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. We are dancing. You can only see a small corner of Gerber’s mouth, but his eyes are smiling. My nose is scrunched because sometimes just looking at him brings me joy. Elena’s little face is framed in a gold rectangle that I bought for Q10 at a store called Buen Precio. She is my arms and about to laugh. Of course, I love it when she sleeps and takes extra long naps like she is right now, but my heart leaps when I see that girl smile. Probably, because she has her Daddy’s smile.

I am not one for lots of tradition. I didn’t do anything like something old, something new and something blue for my wedding. But I did kind of by accident for my desk. My favorite blue anthro candle sits in the corner. It smells like Santa Barbara at summer time. I don’t even light it that often, I just like to smell it.

I guess that is my something blue.

I have never been a fan of tequila, but one summer in Santa Barbara I went around to bars and asked if I could have their empty Patron bottles after they poured the last shot. Bartenders always were a bit surprised by my request, especially because I was in my gym clothes and never offered to buy any tequila. I explained that I thought they made lovely vases and I wanted to use them at my wedding one day. I collected eight empty Patron bottles that summer. And I did in fact bring them down to Guatemala for our wedding. They were set on tables and by the fountain, filled with white and yellow daisies and wisps of eucalyptus leaves. I never got them all back, but I did save one. And now that one mini-patron bottle sits on my desk to hold the flowers that Elena often picks and hands to me saying, “fo mama.”


After my Grandma died 3 years ago, my mom and aunts invited us to go through some of her things. My Grandma was a German immigrant who became a doctor. She re-used envelopes and washed out yogurt containers to use in place of Tupperware. I think of her with fondness because of her love for reading and letter writing and general resourcefulness. When we were going through her things I told myself I could only bring things back what I could actually use. In my suitcase back to Guatemala I packed this heavy-duty Swingline stapler, which I am pretty sure is older than I am. And a pair of black handled scissors that have the letters “Steel no.28” engraved on the edge. They’re the heaviest, sturdiest scissors I have ever owned. I use them often, imagining my Grandma nodding approvingly because her things are being put to good use.

Those are my something old.

The small clock I splurged on and bought at Pottery Barn after we got married. It is one of those new-antique-looking things. Gerber never understood why I would buy something new to look old. I admit, it was probably over-priced, but now it sits on my desk and reminds me that I have time. Or better yet, that I can make time for what is important. My dad used to always tell me we all have the same amount of time each day. The number of minutes each day is fixed, but how we spend them is not. 

This is my something new.

In my blue Mason jar I have my favorite stabilo pens that I first found, 11 years ago in a German post-office while studying abroad. At the time I don’t think you could find them in the states. They felt special, something strictly European. Now you can get them on Amazon and at any little libreria, even here in Guatemala.  There is a cork board right above my desk with our most recent Christmas picture pinned up and a card from my mom, with the word Joy penned in pretty calligraphy. I like the word and the colors match my space with swirls of blue and grey and turquoise.

There are still a few things to add and organize. I need to buy a chair and I’d like this print or this one.

But I am writing.

My motto recently has been start with what you have, where you are.

So I am. I am writing from my desk. With the words and space I have, when I can.

I have been reading, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite writing books. She is direct and wise and so cleaver. In her chapter titled, “Writing Is Not a McDonald’s’ Hamburger” she says:

“Give yourself some space before you decide to write those big volumes. Learn to trust the force of your own voice. Naturally, it will evolve… but it will come from a different place than your need to be an achiever. Writing is not a McDonald’s hamburger. The cooking is slow, and in the beginning you are not sure whether a roast or a banquet or a lamb chop will be the result.”

I am learning to trust my own voice. And to keep letting my writing evolve and accept that like fine cooking, it is a good, sometimes slow process. And that that is an ok thing, because we all know, I really don’t like McDonald’s hamburgers. And I am guessing you don’t either.

There is something powerful and even dare I say, transforming in writing down your stories. Giving words to the emotions and thoughts that swirl around inside. Somehow writing them down, creating space for them to be, helps me. And maybe, just maybe, whispers to someone else in the quietness, “it’s ok, me, too.”

. . .


P.S. There’s still a big open space between our two desks. Gerber and I want to find a big world map to hang in that shared wall space because we share a love of traveling and seeing the world and we would most likely not agree on any other kind of art. I would want inspirational words and lovely lettered quotes and he would want landscapes of far off mountains and oceans and motorcycles. A map seems like the perfect compromise, amiright?! Any recommendations for a finding a large (like 4 x 5 foot) world map print? Do share!

P.S.S. Thank you for reading my words, encouraging my writing and following along here! If you’re not following along on facebook would you do me favor and like this page. Thank you, from the bottom of my writers’ heart.

19th February
written by Michelle


Sometimes it’s hard to write about things when you’re in the middle of it, like with marriage. I haven’t written much about our marriage recently because well…one, it’s not just my story to tell. Even though I am more of an open book and will gladly share what I’ve been learning with just about anyone, I know my husband, Gerber may not want to share those same things or at least not in such a public place like my blog. And I respect that. I think, secondly, it’s because we’ve been pretty invested the past year and a half in re-figuring out our marriage. You know, how to be mom & dad and wife & husband; how to love and serve each other well as partners in the home and at work. It’s an ongoing dynamic and dance that has been a quite an adjustment for us. Maybe it is for all couples?

. . .

I remember when we did some pre-martial counseling, we talked about expectations and values. We did one of those online inventories and congratulated ourselves that our scores were so high. On paper the our values and preferences lined up so well. We marched into marriage confident of who we were and excited for what was ahead. Perhaps that’s how all marriages should start. With an extra dose of love and gumption for the journey ahead.

 I think anyone who is married knows it is a journey. A daily, moment-by-moment, journey choosing service over selfishness and deciding whose turn it is to do the dishes or change the baby’s diaper. And somewhere on that journey you start doing the hard work of unpacking hundreds of expectations that you didn’t even realize you’ve been carrying with you all along.

Expectations are sneaky like that, because often you don’t even know you have them, until one is not being met.

. . .

The first time Gerber took me to the beach in Guatemala I cried. Not tears of joy, but of disappointment. It was not what I had expected. The sand was black and hot, too hot to walk on. It was humid and sticky and the waves were rough. There was a steep hill leading to the water’s edge and that hill was not conducive to throwing down my striped towel for sun bathing. The waves washed up over my feet and the tears rolled down my face. This was not like the beaches in Santa Barbara.

I had been in Guatemala for 6 months and hadn’t seen the ocean, or really any body of water. I missed the ocean breeze and the feel of the sand and looking out over the horizon. Gerber had suggested a beach day. I was ecstatic. And now here he was holding my hand, glancing at me from the corner of his sunglasses, utterly confused why his girlfriend who loved he beach was crying.

. . .

We have had lots of moments like this, and the thing is usually we can’t name the expectation until after it hasn’t been met. Be it about cleaning the kitchen, or letting the baby cry, about time together or time apart, or about deciding what we do or do not spend our money on for holiday celebrations.

This has been a lot of my inner work the past year, asking myself, what are my expectations? And not analyzing, are they fair or why I do have them. But just starting by admitting, these are my expectations. The thing is expectations are rarely, right or wrong. They just are. But nothing is worse for a marriage than unspoken expectations. Unspoken expectations fuel disappointment and later, resentment.

Together Gerber and I learning to name our expectations, or at least acknowledge when we feel the this-is-different-than-I-expected moments. And surprisingly that in and of itself has been such a unifying focus. Just the fact that we’re both living and doing life differently than we expected often brings us together.

. . .

I used to think cross-cultural couples had slightly more things to work through in marriage, than couples who marry people with the same first language and passport country. Maybe it’s true. However, friends in all kinds of marriages have shared similar struggles of having different expectations. I think what is true, is that when you bring together any two people, you will naturally also have bring together different expectations. Because regardless of your passport country, people are people, with unique personalities, preferences and priorities.

I sometimes imagine my expectations like an ice cube, rigid, cold and solid. And there is nothing very flexible or creative about an ice cube. But when I acknowledge my expectations, holding them in the palm of my hands, not hidden deep inside, the rigidness and coldness begin to melt away. And you know what forms when an ice cube melts? Water. Water, like love, is fluid and life-giving and fills up. And that is what I imagine happens when we let expectations melt away. They’re still there, but they just take on new form.


. . .

Last week, Gerber knew I had been missing sunny California beach days. He suggested a beach trip for the three of us. I, being the planner in our relationship, realized that would be Valentine’s weekend. Perfect, I thought, Valentine’s Day at the beach with my two favorite people. We went to the same beach he took me to almost 5 years ago. This time with a baby, a few extra bags and pool toys in tow.

I now know that the beach is actually not my husband’s favorite spot to relax. He prefers places that are cool and have shade and preferably a TV. But I also know that he would do anything, even sacrifice his own preferences and comfort to see me happy. So last Saturday, just before the sun was setting, we walked out onto the sand. With my daughter on my hip and my husband at my side, I put my toes in the water and smiled. The beach hasn’t changed in Guatemala. The sand is still unbelievably hot. The waves our rough and the air is sticky. But we have changed. I have changed. 

I am firm believer that marriage changes us for the better.


P.S. What Love is  and  Why is Valentine’s Day a Big Deal?


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.

19th September
written by Michelle


We have been back for a few days. We’ve done laundry and put away our suitcases, and our tanned face our fading, but I still find little bits of sand in the bottom of the laundry basket and I smile. We needed this vacation. We needed time away as a family where we weren’t juggling life and work and ministry and a thousand little decisions about our future. We needed the simplicity that comes from being away, where our biggest decisions for the day were, where to get lunch and whose turn it was to sing Old MacDonald? This vacation invited rest and play and…lets be honest, lots and lots of driving.


God Bless, Google Maps.

This past season has been a challenging one. One friend of mine said the year after each of her children were born was the hardest in their marriage. That made sense to me. Of course having a child has been one of the best choices we’ve ever made, I also think we weren’t totally prepared for how it would change us. Gerber and Me, that is. Becoming parents has challenged us and changed us. And add into that mix two unique cultures and two very different ways of growing up and you can say we’ve had a lot to work through.

We knew we needed a break. One thing that has always been easy in our marriage is travel. We both love to travel and our travel-style (spend-less-on-hotels-more-on-activities) meshes well. Originally we thought it would be great to drive from Guatemala to Panama, covering aaallllll of Central America. But then we remembered our sweet, active 1-year-old who is not exactly found of the carseat, so we reconsidered.

Instead we spent a little over 10 days driving through El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

El Coco, EL Salvador

If you’re thinking of traveling through Central America here’s my quick recap: Air-conditioning is a must. The beaches get better the further south you go. And be patient at border crossings. There, done and done.

If you’re wanting the longer, play-by-play of where we went, where we stayed and what we ate, keep reading. But warning, it’s long. :)

Hotel La Tortuga Verde, El Salvador

We loaded up our truck early Monday morning and made reservations for the first place and then planned on figuring out the rest as we went. (September is a slow season is most of Central America, so this worked. If you’re traveling anytime from Nov-April, better to plan ahead!) We made it into El Salvador, after 2 hours at the border. Apparently our plastic boxes in the back of the truck seemed very suspicion. We arrived at La Tortuga Verde in El Coco, the most southern part of Salvador, and as soon as I stepped out of the car, I signed in happy relief.

A small part of my heart will always feel at home with my toes in the sand and the sound of waves. And although we have the beaches in Guatemala, it never really feels like the beaches I remember in California. But this was perfect.

She clearly loves the sand

Our hotel (one-step above a hostel) was literally on the sand. You walk out of your room and touch the sand. The restaurant sits on the sand and every table has an ocean view. This was great, except we quickly learned that Elena doesn’t really like the sand. Ha. The food was good, service great. And our simple, but adequate room had AC and a screened in porch with 2 hammocks. We’d put Elena to bed by 7ish and then hang out in the hammocks. We spent the day rotating between the beach, the pool and the hammocks. It was lovely.

I could be a professional hammock-baby-wearer if there were such a thing

Then we loaded up again and made plans to cross the Honduran and Nicaraguan borders. When you cross the border driving, you actually cross the border of the country you’re leaving (and turn in a bunch of paper work, get a stamp in your passport and maybe pay a multa) and then you wait to cross the border of the country you’re entering. Border crossings were not our favorite. We couldn’t find much to see/do in this southern part of Honduras so we drove straight through to Nicaragua.


Central Park in Leon, Nicaragua

(photo credit thanks to google images and

We made it to Leon, where we found a nice hotel with breakfast included and 2 blocks from the central square. Apparently there are beaches and some cool volcanoes to see around Leon, but given the heat we just stayed one night. After all day in the car we walked down to the central park at dusk. Neither one of us brought our phones or camera, but for a second it felt like we were in a plaza in Europe. By far one of the most stunning plazuelas I’ve been to Central America. Elena was entertained by the agua in the fountain, Geber I walked behind her, holding hands as she squealed with delight running around the open space.

THIS was the top of the Cathedral. Dreamy, huh?

In the morning we did a tour of the cathedral, apparently the biggest in Central America and got to walk on the top of the roof. It was designed with a special mixture of chalk and egg whites to form this white plaster. You even had to take off your shoes to walk on top! No joke. Elena enjoyed the view from the ergo, sleeping through the whole tour. We took advantage of the sleeping child, grabbed smoothies and hopped back in to car.

Next stop, Granada. We had heard wonderful things about this town, which is a sister-city to Antigua. It’s quite a bit bigger and not as “picturesque” feeling, but there is a 1-mile pedestrian only street, with outdoor dining, small cafes and live music that quickly became our favorite.

La Calzada: Granada, Nicaragua

La Calzada, it’s called. It starts at central park and ends at the Lago de Nicaragua. If you’ve ever been to Barcelona, it feels just like Las Ramblas or for my Santa Barbara friends, it would be like State Street, but smaller and no cars or stoplights… or Abercrombie.

We ate at this place recommended by a friend of mine and may have gone back the next day for drinks and snacks. It was kid friendly, had hammocks inside and a gorgeous garden with a fountain. (agua!) Can you tell what things entertained our daughter?!

We found the best little gelato place owned by a man from France. And spent lots of time walking up and down this street. By the end of the night Gerber was pushing the stroller and I was carrying Elena in the ergo. As he hauled the empty stroller up the flight of stairs at the hotel he said, “Well, at least we have a stroller to push the diaper bag?” Ha. Has there ever been a truer statement?! We learned a lot traveling with a wee-one. Elena usually can only handle the stroller for about 20 min and only then, if there is something to look at, otherwise she wants to be down and walking. Active one, that girl. I don’t know where she gets it??


We stayed at this place, which was ok, kind of a quirky style in one the oldest still standing mansions in Granada. The silver lining was a wonderful breakfast buffet with French toast, eggs to your gusto, and crepes. We did a lot of juggling, eating and chasing after a toddler, while trying to get a few pieces of food in her system. Most places in Central America don’t have high chairs (which we has assumed), but what we didn’t realize was how distracted and hard it would be to feed our little one without anyway to strap her down. By far, the best part of the hotel was the 30 min message that was included for each night you stay!

View of Lago de Nicaragua and smooth wide sidewalks!

Since we had a car we spent one day exploring the area just outside of town. We had heard about Lago Apoyo (which is kind of comparable to Lake Atitlan, but much, much cleaner!) It’s right in the middle of a reserve so Nicaragua has done much to protect this little gem, especially consider how polluted the much larger Lago de Nicaragua is.

Laguna Beach Club: Lago Apoyo

We spent a day here, at the Laguna Beach Club, and kind of wish we would have spent a few nights there as well. It was delightful: warm water, best fish I had on the whole trip, a little grassy area and hammocks built into the side of a hillside.


Elena is down to one nap a day right around 12pm, so I just held her wherever we were. I mean how much better does it get, holding a sleeping baby, reclining in a hammock overlooking water. I got to read and rest and Gerber went to kayak. Win win. I will say given her natural inclination to nap while being held, she’s a pretty easy traveler. Hold her, nurse her and she can sleep anywhere :) We didn’t even travel with a pack N play, just a camping pad because our little one still sleeps better on the floor.

We loaded up again. And by “we” I really mean Gerber. Bless him. He must have loaded and un-loaded our stuff and taken off and on the monster size wheels of the bob like a 100 times. #husbandoftheyear

(If you made it this far, you either must really love traveling or are just scrolling down to see more cute pictures of Elena.)

Our Room: Hotelito El Coco Azul

Next stop was San Juan del Sur, originally we booked this little hotelito for 2 nights, but we ended up staying for 5 days! It was simple, clean, had a wonderful ocean breeze and was less than 1/2 a block from the beach.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

We’d wake up early, thanks to our adorable alarm clock and the first words out of her mouth, “agua?” agua?” So we’d throw on our swimsuits and walk down to the beach. We did morning beach walks most days, and sunset swims. The water was always warm, the sand soft and the surrounding cliffs and boats in the harbor made me take gazillions of sunset pictures.

Playa de Remanso, Nicaragua

We’d come back to our hotel in time for breakfast and then decide which beach to explore for the day. We spent one morning here, where Gerber rented a surfboard and tried surfing for the first time. I held Elena, who decided to take a 2- hour nap (she never takes TWO-hour naps!) listening to the sound of the crashing waves. I think I need to sit by the ocean every afternoon. It would greatly improve our nap situation over here.


Marsella Beach Front Hotel, Nicaragua

Then another day we drove north to this beach and found a great hotel where we had use of the pool and patio and beach access as long we ordered lunch at the restaurant. If you’re vising Nicaragua and don’t have a car you can take a shuttle to all of these places. My friend Brooke lives there and had tons of great recommendations. You can check out her website San Juan Live for more info.


In the afternoon we’d usually walk along the “boardwalk” - just a strip of restaurants and surf shops and get smoothies.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Sunsets in San Juan are like a call to prayer. Everyone turns their chairs and their gaze to watch the colors dance across the sky as the sun dips below the horizon. It’s breath taking, really. It invites a moment to pause. To stop doing everything else and just sit. And be. And watch. There were no other distractions, nothing else demanding our attention, there was no 3G, no meetings, no dinner to cook, just the simple joy of watching the sunset.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Sometimes I feel closest to God watching the sun set over the water.


There was one evening I sat on the sand watching the two loves of my life play in the shallow breaks of the waves. I realized in the past year one of the things that has brought me the greatest joy, is seeing Gerber father Elena. He loves her fiercely and cares for her with tenderness only a father can give his daughter. She laughs with him more than any other. And as I watched them run back forth, trying to not let the water touch them, this new love washed over me. Like a fresh start of parenting and marriage, with a renewed dose of grace and gratitude.



One afternoon we splurged and asked our friend for a babysitter recommendation and left Elena in good hands, so we could try paddle boarding. We rented two boards and after we managed to get over the waves, we paddled around the harbor in between boats and along the coastline for an hour. I may have gotten the arm workout of the century, but well worth it. At one point we managed to both sit down and face the sunset. Gerber grabbed on to my paddle and pulled my and my board close to his. We smiled. It was the perfect amount of new-ness and adventure, and just a tad scary to be out so far away from shore. It had been along time since we did something new and fun together.

My ideal way to do the beach

San Juan stole our hearts. The laid back lifestyle, the amazing beaches, the beautiful sunsets and the affordable beach-style living are all pluses! We even pondered staying longer, but decided we needed a place with a kitchen so we could do some meals at home for Elena and for our budget. But we couldn’t find a place to rent. So we vowed to come back.

Look closely: HER BABY FOOTPRINTS!! Awwww.

I have always wanted a little place to call our own, or a place to say, “This is where our family goes on vacation. This is where we go to recharge, to play and to rest.” And I think San Juan could be that place for us. It’s a long drive, but doable, even with a toddler!

Me and My Girl: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

After we packed up (yet again), we made our way back toward Managua, where we stopped to visit some friends who had moved from Guatemala. We originally we’re going to just stop for lunch…but ended up staying the night. I like friends like that. They opened up their home and their life and let us live right along with them for 24 hours.

Elena + Andrew: Future Bilingual/Bicultural Friends

They have two kids, and Elena had more toys then she knew what to do with. They are also a bicultural couple- he’s from Minnesota and she’s from Guatemala- and they are a bit ahead of us in the journey of parenting and marriage and ministry. It was a joy just talking with them and realizing, oh, ok good…so this is normal? We hope to see them next time we’re in Nicaragua.

Car Naps

We left their home at 10:30am and started driving. We knew we had three border crossings ahead of us and weren’t sure how far we’d get. We were going to stop in El Salvador, spend one more night by the beach and then head home. But after 9 hours in the car, Elena fell asleep in my arms. (I know I know, you can all gasp now. Car seats are not required here :) So we decided to just keep driving and avoid one more night un-packing and re-packing the car. After a quick stop for some tacos, and a bathroom break we made it home after 15 hours. Tired, but grateful.

The View of San Juan Del Sur Harbor

Traveling has a way of doing that…filling you up, giving you lots of be grateful for and making you slightly exhausted.

My Family of Three

Gerber and I have traveled often, but this was our first time traveling as a family. And in many ways we are still learning how to be a family-of-three. We are re-learning how to be husband and wife and mom and dad. How to be us, with her.

Traveling with a little one changes things for sure. We worked around her schedule and needs, which meant most nights we were in our hotel room by 7pm. One of us would head out and bring back dinner and then we’d sit on the floor in the dark, eating dinner with plastic forks, pointing and whispering and trying not to laugh. It was simple, some might say ridiculous, but we were together. We went to sleep early because our days started when the sun came in. We learned to reorient our expectations and plans based not on what we wanted to do, but what we could all three realistically do or enjoy or handle. And maybe that’s what a lot of the first year of parenthood is about, about re-orienting and re-arranging your expectations and plans.

Now we just need a few days to recover from our vacation, right? Isn’t that how it always is?


4th July
written by Michelle


I have lived in Guatemala for 4 years now. And every year around 4th of July a wave of homesickness rolls over me. I know myself well enough, that now I can kind of anticipate it, but I can’t make it go away. Funny how emotions work like that, huh?

I have always loved the 4th of July. It’s the epitome of summer. BBQs and bare feet. Family and friends gathered around picnic tables. Sun-kissed shoulders and beach hair and finding sand between your toes. 

But when you live in another country, where summer is celebrated between the months of January to April and July 4th is just a date on the calendar, it just feels different. Gerber and I talk a lot about this because we both “know” in our heads that our respective independence days are a big deal for each other. Individually, and for our little girl. But it’s so hard because we don’t feel anything. He can tell me all about the “antorchas” and “bandas” and “actos civicos” that are preformed on September 15th, but for me it’s still  just a date.  I understand what it is and what to expect, but I don’t feel anything. There’s not a collective memory or emotion attached to those things. At least not yet.

And I know the same is true for him. I can tell him about summer BBQs and beach days and how we used to sit on the curb bundled up in sweatshirts eating popsicles, staying up way past our bed time to watch fireworks. He knows all of that, but there is no emotional attachment or collective memory for him. July 4th is just a date. 

I think one of the beautiful and challenging things about cross-cultural relationships if you get to celebrate both. Or at least learn how to make space for both. You learn how to empathize, and negotiate and understand things that you’ve never had any reason to understand before. You learn to verbalize and explain things you’ve never had to explain before, because they just are. But when you’re an outsider trying to understand a foreign culture nothing is as it seems to be.  And  you also learn to accept that there are certain things that can’t be explained or verbalized, they just are. And you learn to accept those things as they are.

We have lots of explaining and trying to understand kind of conversations. Sometimes it’s a lot of work; this cross-cultural, two countries, two languages, two independence days kind of living. But it’s a good work.

And I think one of the reasons we put in energy and time for this “work” is because of this little one. 


This little gringa, growing up in Guatemala.

Because we care about her identity and her sense of belonging. She’s too little to remember anything from today. And she certainly won’t remember her first dia de la indpendencia last September.

But my hope is that she starts to build something in that collective memory of hers. So that when she see’s  the 4th of July on the calendar she’ll feel excited. And when we get to el 15 de septiembre each year she will also get excited. 

 Today we celebrated with some other expat friends up at a park overlooking the whole Antigua valley. Gerber left early because of the World Cup because as he said, “You’ll have 4th of July every year, we only have the World Cup every 4 years.” Touché. And I didn’t get any pictures of the adults. But the kiddos were pretty cute. Maybe one year we’ll celebrate 4th of July in the US. We won’t watch any fireworks tonight, but I am thankful that we live in a country where fireworks are enjoyed year around.

Happy 4th of July!


P.S. Did you know that one year Gerber even surprised me for my birthday with fireworks?! And at our wedding we had fireworks right at the start of the ceermony?! Ever since I’ve been a little girl I have always loved fireworks.

11th January
written by Michelle

My word for this year is little. It’s a year about the little things.

I don’t have big plans or huge dreams for this year. Oh, of course I have writing dreams and teaching dreams and places I’d love to travel dreams and big projects that I’d love to finish. But, I am holding those dreams and plans loosely. This next season isn’t about accomplishing big goals or dreams. It’s about the little things.

It’s about figuring out how to feed myself and my family something other than pasta with sauce from a jar. I want to make healthy, quick and easy meals. Emphasis on the quick and easy. I need to figure out how to meal plan better and go to the grocery store with a baby and a box full of groceries when there are no shopping carts to push to your car.

It’s about choosing to turn my computer off at 10pm. Gerber and I made a deal. No technology after 10pm. For me that’s my computer, for him it’s the TV. We both get energy at night, but I know that we will be better parents, kinder to each other and healthier if we get more sleep. Plus, the newest member of our family still doesn’t understand the words “sleeping in.”

It’s about appreciating my little neighborhood. I love where we live and I have big dreams about activities and soccer nights and all the things I want to do to connect with people where we live. But for now it has to be about the little things: intentionally walking around the block to say hello, learning people’s names, being available, bringing over cookies. These little things I can do.

It’s about playing with and enjoying our little girl. Watching her eyes light up when I walk into the room, listening to her sweet laugh and watching her take her first steps. Let’s be honest, it’s also a lot of diaper changing, poo cleaning, & milk pumping. But I prefer to focus on the former.

It’s about letting others into our home even when there are piles in corners and boxes yet to be unpacked and projects yet to be completed. It’s letting those little things not take away from the place we want to it be. A place to welcome others in, a place of rest and refuges, a place to play and fun.

It’s about doing my job well. Part of my job requires that I plan and coordinate about a gazillion little things for each of our different groups that come down to serve with us. I want to do those little things with a big heart.

It’s about finding little bits of time to write. Maybe not polished essays and books just yet, but simple posts about life in Guatemala, motherhood and raising a bilingual and bicultural daughter. I want to keep writing because I believe it’s kinda like running. The more you do it, the easier it gets. But if you stop for weeks or months, it’s so hard to get back into it, right?

It’s about supporting and loving my husband. It’s taken me 2 years of marriage to realize that the way to best love someone whose love language is act of service, means actually doing things for him. Practical, simple, little things every day.

It’s about carving out a little me time. Once a week, at least. Meeting a friend for coffee, going to yoga, sitting in a coffee shop, getting my eyebrows waxed. These are luxuries I tell you, luxuries! This has probably been the hardest change has a mom. Before I could do these things whenever I wanted. But now these little things feel like big things that take a lot more coordinating, planning and time.

And maybe the biggest thing of all is inviting God into these little everyday things. I am a firm believer that God shows up in the kitchen and at the table, driving on the road and waiting at the airport. Some of my most holy moments happen while sitting on the floor with Elena or walking around our neighborhood. Sometimes the prayers uttered in the shower, or at 1am while feeding the baby remind me of how I need God in these moments, the little ones and the big ones.

Here’s to 2014. A year of little things.

Do you have a word for 2014? What are the little things that you want to do this year?

29th April
written by Michelle

Dear Mija,

Your daddy and I have been talking more about you recently because you are kicking and moving quite a lot these days. We wonder what you’re going to look like? Will you have a head full of dark hair? Will you have light skin like me or dark skin like your daddy? Your auntie Christine thinks you’ll be caramel colored. We talk about what it will be like with a newborn in our lives? Your daddy imagines all three of us going for breakfast and walking Pepe at El Cerro. I just imagine being really, really tired.

Mija, we are excited to be your parents, but we know we’re going to mess up. You will quickly learn that we’re not perfect. You’ll see me get frustrated and make loud exaggerated sighing noises from the kitchen when I find more dirty dishes in the sink. Daddy might get mad when I pepper him with a hundred questions as soon as he walks in the door. You’ll see us arguing and sometimes we disagree about what we should buy or where we should go.  But we love each other a whole lot and we hope you’ll see that, too.

In fact I think one of the greatest gifts we can give you is a healthy marriage; not a perfect marriage, but a healthy one. One where you’ll hear us say, “I love you” and “I am sorry” frequently. One where you see us having fun and laughing together, but also one where you know how our voices change when we start arguing and disagreeing.

We are fortunate that this is something our parents gave and modeled for us. Yes, Mija both of your grandparents, still love each other a lot and showed your daddy and I what a lifelong partnership looks likes.

Look at these pictures of your abuelitos:

Hilda y Roduel

They got married 40 years ago on April 7, 1973. They raised four kids and adopted one more. Your daddy says they showed him what sacrifice and commitment looks even when it wasn’t easy. Your abuelo, Papa Choyo, tells me that your abuela was always the strong one of the relationship. She trusted and prayed when he doubted and wondered how God would provide. Your Mama Hilla just smiled when I asked her if she was the strong one. She said, “No, no fue asi. I just supported him and squeezed his leg under the table whenever he talked too much.”


Now, these are my mom and dad, your Nana and Papa.

Mom & Dad

They got married 31 years ago on November 28, 1981. They also had four kids and a few dogs and cats and fish in the mix. I remember Nana and Papa always being honest with us kids about God, money and big family decisions. They didn’t hide things from us or sugarcoat answers. And they didn’t hide how much they loved each other either. My dad, your Papa, would write scribbled, barely legible, post-it notes for Nana, and leave it on her car just to say I love you.  And your Nana would plan and prepare meals and activities for us four kids, so that they could get away just the two of them for a few nights. Something I never realized was probably essential to their healthy marriage.

Your daddy and I are still learning how to do this; how to have the kind of marriage that endures for 30 or 40 years. But I hope you see how your daddy adores me. How he kisses me on the lips before he leaves for the day and how he reaches across the car to grab my hand and say “Yo te amo, Michelle.” How he gets gas in my car and fixes the shower when there’s no hot water and never complains when I ask him to pick up something from the tienda.

And I hope you see how much I love him, too.

Mija, there is a verse in 1 John that says something about you will know they are my disciples by how they love each other. And your daddy and I believe this with our whole heart. We want you to see God in us and in our marriage. We want you to see how much we love each other by how we treat one another and talk about the other person even when they’re not there.

So it may mean we leave you for a weekend with friends so we can have a few nights away. Or it may mean we take time as a family to rest and play and remember how to love each other well when we get tired, grouchy and short-tempered. And it will most definitely mean that we’ll need lots of grace as we figure out how to be parents to you and keep loving and serving one another well.

Our Wedding Day

My prayer is that one day you’ll see a picture like this from our wedding day and say, “oh, the best gift my parents gave me was that they loved each other well.”

Mija, we can’t wait to meet you and be your parents.



(Mija is a Spanish word that literally means “my daughter.” It’s actually written “mi hija.” But when said quickly together it sounds like “mija” and it is said with endearment, kind of like sweetie or sweetheart in English. Female teachers often use it with little girl students. Mijo being the equivalent for little boys. It happens to be one of my favorite Spanish words.)

This is the second letter in a series of letters to my future daughter. The first can be read here.

25th November
written by Michelle


Last week G and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. And I would say it has taken us a good year to understand this simple math equation: 1 + 1 = 2

one of him + one of me = two. That’s TWO people.

You know Christian culture does this funny thing where we talk about and quote the verse at most weddings “and the two shall become one.” But we rarely talk about what does this really mean? Like in practical, day-to-day, life? Because last time I checked there were definitely TWO people who had opinions, TWO people who used dishes, and TWO people who wake up at different times.

So, I’m not sure if I buy this 1 + 1 = 1 stuff. Sometimes I wonder if we have oversimplified this concept and mistaken what it actually means.  Now, before you think I’ve gotten on some heretical bandwagon let me explain.

When we got married I believed that we would become one. You know, share one bank account, one home, one life. And we do most of these things happily, usually. But somehow I believed that being “one” also meant that everything would be “better together.”  I mean that is what Jack Johnson sings, right?

Dinner always together. Morning runs together. Working together. Cooking in the kitchen together. Waking up every morning together.

Imagine my surprise when I realized sometimes we’re not home at the same time for dinner. Or that He prefers to run in the afternoon. Working together brought more initial challenges then sweet, together moments and when our kitchen has only one itty-bitty counter space having two people in there is just plain frustrating.

+   +   +

Usually Sunday mornings go something like this:

G wakes up. And wakes up hungry. I’d think he’d like it we had a fridge in the bedroom. He cuddles, tries to kiss me and coax me to get up. I moan, roll over, put a pillow over my eyes and fall back asleep. He gets OJ and goes to watch TV. His stomach still churning. 20 minutes later I mope around the house, hair a mess, barely verbal. He says, he’s ready to go. I say give me 10 minutes. I throw on some yoga clothes, hair in a pony tail, check email and apply mascara. He goes outside to wait by the bike. 20 minutes later we leave. He’s starving now and frustrated that I took so long. I’m hurt that he didn’t want to wait for me. I mean why is getting breakfast more important than waiting for me? {I’m not dramatic or anything.}

you can imagine, once we get to our favorite breakfast place neither one of us are in a good mood.

This routine has happened more times than I’d like to admit.

+   +   +

I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed a year ago, actually on our honeymoon. I should give her proper credit for the 1 + 1 =2 idea. She and her then fiance are in the midst of a visa/marriage nightmare; living in limbo, waiting for word from the US Department of Homeland Security for clearance for her fiance. And in the process they are figuring out how to do life together. Somehow the story and the possible fear hit close to home, but it’s taken me a while to fully understand and figure out what does 1 + 1 = 2 look like for us.

It’s meant some letting go, and remembering who I am/was before I got married. And learning that loving and living with this man, does not in fact mean we have to do everything together.

This Sunday morning we did it well.

G got up early, kissed me good-morning, let the dog out and took his motorcycle to Antigua for breakfast. He got food and coffee all before I even opened my eyes.

I got to sleep in till 10. Yes, no shame in the fact that I love, LOVE sleeping in. I got to stay in my pajamas, drink my smoothie and peruse pinterest without having to hurry.

And you know what he came home happy and full. And I was rested and relaxed.

Maybe sometimes the best way to love someone else and take care of yourself is to create some space.

+   +   +

I do in fact believe that something unique and special can happen in marriage. However, I’m not sure if it’s some supernatural oneness. For me the unity in marriage comes from wanting someone else’s best. Sometimes I feel most “together” when I know that I have put his needs above my own. And I think he would agree. Maybe what we’re learning is that “better together” can also means wanting someone else’s best whether or not you’re actually together.

And if his best means I don’t make him wait for me to go to breakfast, I don’t what can be more unifying than that.


If you’re married, have you and your spouse worked out a good way to give each other space? What things to do you do apart and what things together? Do you feel like the idea of 1 + 1 = 2 just makes more sense sometimes? Do share.


10th July
written by Michelle

Yesterday was Gerber’s birthday and he was gone the whole day and the whole night….working.

He had already committed to start building water filters with a new community in the southern part of Guatemala and he had four eager volunteers waiting to go. So at 7:00am he left with his truck bed piled high, four guys seated in the cab and our Guatemalan technical nestled in the back between shovels, sifters and a wheelbarrow. I did at least send him off with a birthday smoothie.

Antigua has relatively mild temperature year around- and yesterday was one of those perfect, mild-75-and-sunny-with-a-slight-breeze-and-volcanic-views, kind of days. Where they drove to is almost always HOT and HUMID. Temperatures hover around 90-100 degrees. And when you add in the humidity and some manual labor, it’s a recipe for constant sweat dripping down places you didn’t know could sweat. This is where he went to spend his birthday, my brown skinned, dark haired boy who complains when I ask for a table in the sun!?!

I talked to him last night on the phone and he seemed happy. The kind of happy that comes from somewhere deep within, because you’ve spent the day doing something you love- working with Guatemalan families, sweating and laughing and lifting. Watching kids still too young to attend school help wash sand and carry shovels three times too big for them. Helping teenage boys from the states learn how to mix cement and take a shower without running water. Attending the evening service at the local church and wondering why with so little resources they are so welcoming and sometimes our big, fancy churches with entire committees dedicated for “welcoming” don’t feel that way. I know there is something he loves about setting up tents and mosquito nets and working hard and being thankful.

One of the reasons why I love this man so much is that he is passionate. He is passionate about helping people get access to clean drinking water. He enjoys serving others, and maybe even more so, teaching others. He has vision, ideas and goals and he’ll even give up a birthday so he can be a part of making these things happen.  His passion and direction make me proud and excited, but also, they give me a sense of security. I know that the same passion he feels about bringing clean water to communities, he also feels about me and about being a dad one day. And I know that he’s the kind of man who will sacrifice a birthday, or his own plans or needs to take care of something or someone that he is passionate about.

 {a little dating advice if I may: I think having a spouse who is passionate about something is one of the most attractive things. And when what they are passionate about happens to align with what you are passionate about I think you have a pretty good match. }

I love this man because he would rather work on his birthday doing something he loves, than be celebrated and taken out to dinner*

Happy Birthday, mi amor! Te amo.



*I did make a little dessert last night in his honor and tasted it to make sure it was fit for a little belated birthday celebrating.