These are the Best Days of My Life

It is in the quiet stillness, sitting on my back porch with Michael, watching the sun go down, absorbing in awe the many hues of pinks and oranges that God whispers, ‘these are the best days of your life. Be still. Soak in the blessings.’

It’s while driving down the highway, in route to one of our favorite stops, Mugg and Bean, glancing in the rearview mirror to catch two boys grinning at me in anticipation of their chocolate eggs they’ll soon be consuming that the Holy Spirit whispers, ‘May your heart be full in this moment.’

Lord knows I wish that I could freeze these beautiful moments in time, forever. And while I try my best to capture the small, everyday moments that make up our life, through my one-a-day writings, constant prayers asking God, Mary, Saint Anthony, or truly, any of my Heavenly family members who are willing to listen, to pray for my mindfulness in THIS moment; it’s simply impossible.

This time in Malawi, interlaced with the chaos, is beautiful and blessed. The sacredness of the mundane seeps into my every day.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be reflective and to truly recognize my blessings.

My blessings are the here and now and someday, when we move on from our time in Malawi, I will look back on these moments, when my children were small, when we laid on floor pillows, read books on the back porch whilst drinking lemongrass tea, when we chased bubbles in the sunshine and when we said our prayers each night as a family, as some of the best days of my life.

May we all remain mindful of our everyday blessings, and strive to make each and every day, ‘the best day’ of our lives.





‘If you Want to Change the World…’


Mike: ‘Wanna climb that mountain?’ Alex: ‘Duh.’

Do you know how to change the world? 

This question stems from the inexplicable violence that keeps radiating the United States.

As an American living outside of the U.S. you find yourself perpetually answering for the sins of the entire country. (You can imagine the conversations after Trump was elected!)

It comes as no surprise then, that I am bombarded by questions after each mass shooting. This onslaught is difficult to face, yet when I find myself thinking about the question, ‘How do we change this?’ I always arrive at the same conclusion.

My life mantra that I keep in the depths of my heart wherever I go is Saint Mother Theresa’s, ‘If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.’ (which I interpret to mean, wholly Love the people around you wherever you are).

This philosophy is something I imperfectly role-model and preach in my classroom, daily. It’s something that I strive for within my own family. Wherever I am, I hope and strive to be Love.

But not just any Love, I aspire to be Christ to others. Now, I must admit I’m rather good at failing fantastically most days…but I don’t give up hope! I know that God has called me to lead others in His unconditional Love.

He has placed all of us exactly where He needs us. To Love radically and ‘unnaturally’–seriously! ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ is difficult–it’s not natural, but in order to change our world, it’s necessary.

My students often ask me, ‘Don’t you feel hopeless?…I mean seriously, one person can never change the world.’

It’s true, we might not all impact others on a mass scale, or in the public eye, but we can change our day to day actions. Love purposefully (put energy into it!), without worry and choose compassion.

It’s difficult. But what I love about the Catholic faith is that it is universal. Wherever you are, the rest of the world is with you. We’re uttering the same prayers, we’re grieving with you, we’re celebrating with you–we’re all carrying each other’s crosses…How great is our God?

So, if you feel called to change the world? ‘Go home and love your family!’


Be Still.

As the new year begins, the resolve to change oneself abounds.

Will I eat healthier? Gain muscle and shed fat? Or how about change my mind set?

New Years’ resolutions have never been my cup of tea. Instead, I’ve always believed that we should be perpetually examining our everyday’s to always be growing into the, as Matthew Kelly would say, ‘best-verisions-of-our-selves’.

However, bombarded by my deeply engrained belief (I blame popular culture) that I MUST have ‘something’ to hold on to going into this new year, God placed it on my heart to choose a word or phrase to focus on in 2018.

I prayed for God to open my heart to the words he intended for me to focus on.

The next day I was sitting in my mass, when it hit me. ‘Be Still’…as we were driving to mass earlier, many things were weighing heavy on my heart, and I was overly burdened with anxiety.

It’s only fitting that God placed this words on my heart during a time He KNEW I was definitely NOT ‘being still’! You see, God and I thrive on our shared humor. His perfectly timed comic relief encouraged me to smile through my anxiety and instead evaluate and absorb myself in my blessings.

What girl’s dream isn’t to be sitting next to a God-loving man, celebrating our shared faith, with 2 adorable, healthy children in tow?

Within the chaos we face within our own lives, I am grateful for God’s ability to show me that He knows best and to trust in Him always.

May your 2018 be full of moments where you are able to, ‘be still’ and know that our God is an awesome, loving and wildly humorous Father!IMG_5396


Daddy’s Home

Welcome Home, Michael.

Welcome Home, Michael.

This past week Mike was gone on a business trip for 7 days! I know, for those of you who have traveling spouses this length of time may seem insignificant but to me, a newly driving, full-time working, pregnant Momma with an energetic toddler, it was excruciating.

Time seemed to stand-still last week as David and I anxiously counted down the days until ‘Da-Da’ came home to us again. David had the hardest time as I couldn’t explain to him that Mike indeed would be home soon. Towards the end, he would walk around aimlessly babbling various forms of Dad.

Lucky for us, Mary stayed with us in the house and helped me out with D while I was at work. I felt a lot more secure with Mary in the house even though I’m not sure what a 4 foot, 100 pound person could actually do if something were to happen, ha!

During the week, we went on a few adventures. David and I took Mary down to Bee’s Books which is a small business that sells books that have been donated from the U.K. for only 100mk (about $.25 a book). We stayed and looked for a couple of hours and D and I walked around the area, Chilimoni and bought some popcorn from a street vendor and then fed it to the local chickens walking around.

David also met a new friend, Esther, similar in age to David she was overly thrilled to be meeting a baby boy and cornered him against the bookcase in a giant bear hug. It was hysterical as I watched all of this transpire. You can tell that he has Mike’s personality as the imposed-hug caused David to literally stand still because he was so uncomfortable.

Mike’s time away also gave me time to paint a few things around the house like a chalkboard cupboard for David and a blue wall in our entry way. Nothing like a few surprises when you return home from a work trip.

All in all, Mike’s time away made me realize how thankful I am that he is a supportive and strong husband and father. In Malawi, we are around each other almost 24/7 and it becomes easy to take each other for granted. So although the time apart was extremely difficult, it was nice to have a reminder of just how blessed we truly are.

Walking with Christ through Motherhood

Yes, I am just writing my Mother’s Day reflection now #RealLifeMotherhood.

I find myself having one of those mornings where everything is surreal in its perfection. I have a day off of work for yet another  public holiday which means Mary’s off of work and it’s just David and me for the entire day (Mike’s moving offices). I just laid David down to sleep after a long morning of playing and cleaning. He helped me to vacuum, wash the dishes and make waffles for Mike before he left for work–I love days like today!

My Handsomes Pose for Pictures

As I laid David down for his nap, I put on the lullaby CD I used to listen to when I was his age: “Sleep Sound in Jesus” by: Michael Card. I absolutely adore this CD 1. Because it brings me back to a time when I was tiny and 2. Because the messages are so positive and 3. It makes me cry like a baby every time (in a good way! You know, “Mom crying”)

I’m not always perfect, but I do try to immerse David in God as much as possible throughout the day. I attempt to remind myself daily that my ultimate goals are to get Michael and David into Heaven.

One of David’s favorite things to do is to read his Bible, My Very First Bible Stories that Grandma El Marouani gave him. We’ve read that book so many times that it’s beginning to fall apart. The pages are worn and I can tell that David knows when I’m “skipping over some parts” he’ll give me a puzzled look before trying to turn the page like Umm…Mom? I think we’ve read this enough times for me to know what you’re supposed to be reading and that’s not it.

It’s difficult on a day-to-day basis to stay grounded in the things that matter. Placing God before all else is something that has to be purposeful and intentional it doesn’t just happen. It’s like any other relationship in your life and it takes handwork and dedication.

Two days ago I was walking by our icon of Jesus on our Jesus Table (yes he has his own table at our house) and I felt as though He were saying: “Do you love me?” Of course I said “Yes” but then he said, “Prove it.” It made me realize that recently, I haven’t been intentional enough in my pursuit of Jesus.

I appreciate when God gives me reality check moments like this. It gives me the space to reflect on my relationship with him and see how it’s directly affecting my relationship and role as a wife and mother.

Being a mom is something I cherish more and more every day as I watch the miracle that is my son grow and change and kiss baby Jesus in his Bible without my prompting. I love watching him grow in his love for Christ and know that I am helping to guide him towards and deep and meaningful relationship with our Lord!

Easter in Malawi

Okay, so it’s been a week or so PAST Easter but I had a lot of questions from family and friends asking me what Easter is like in Malawi and so…what better way to answer than a blog post for all to read?

Rather than going to church on Sunday, we go to church on Saturday night and enjoyed a beautiful service exactly like an Easter mass we’d have back home (gotta love the Catholic faith–it’s universal!) David had a rough time and Mike found himself outside with the babe and his carrier attempting to lull him to sleep. It almost worked too until someone’s screeching Mercedes’s  alarm went off….three times….ha!

Luckily, David is the church’s little exotic white mascot and everyone adores him seeing as they watched him grow inside and outside of my belly. Therefore his theatrics are usually ignored and we are instead greeted with warm smiles from those around us thinking he’s the cutest thing they’ve ever seen. My favorite part is when someone grabs him from my arms without warning and David just stares and stares and stares. That sure cures the yelps quickly; he’s pretty shy like his dad.

Easter Sunday, Mike, David and I enjoyed the gorgeous Malawi weather. Similar to an Easter Sunday back home we played outside, David enjoyed his bubbles and plastic blue spoon set that David received for his first basket (Mike and I are both practical!) and I was busy preparing our dinner throughout the day. Trying to stay in line with what we might have eaten back home we splurged and made: cheesy baked potato casserole, green bean casserole (we even found a $5 bag of crunchy onions for on top!) and had our meat prepped and ready to put in the oven.

Blue Spoon

We ended up going to a little tropical paradise called Ngona Lodge and swam the day away. David enjoyed his pool floaty and Mike swam around like a fish while I warmed myself in the sun. We had such a great day full of God’s blessings!

But, the real fun hadn’t started. It wasn’t until after we got home from Ngona and were ready to start dinner that things took a turn for the “Malawi.” I should back up by saying we had no water for four days. No, not a little bit of water here and there, literally no water for four days (which is actually a lot shorter of a span than we’re used to, thank God).

Then, when we went to put our food into the oven, our power went out. Luckily, I had already cooked the green beans and potatoes so the only thing we were missing was the meat. Fortunately, Malawi is known for its fried chicken so Mike took off in his truck and saved Easter dinner!

So you see, even though we are thousands of miles away from our family, with the universal, beautiful Catholic faith, and similar weather patterns the Millers were able to enjoy an almost-Iowa Easter. Amen to that.

Family Tradition

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in awhile, you might miss it.”–Bueller 

Yes, I did just quote Ferris in the opening of my blog post.

Life moves pretty fast even when you’re living in a developing country as a privileged expat where often the most difficult decision I have to think during the day is, what am I going to make my family for dinner? Sheesh, rough, eh?

Not to sell myself short, I do work a lot and yes it is a generalized hyperbole that the majority of my perils stem from the plight of spaghetti or lo mein.

BUT my point being, I think Bueller got something right (maybe that’s why it’s such an iconic movie). I think that we, especially my fellow fast-moving, time-obssessed, workaholic Americans need to be purposeful about slowing down and taking the time to admire and cherish the things that matter.

Which is why I present: Our Weekly Family Tradition–Sunday Night Homemade Pizza.


Without fail, no matter what, Mike and I always throw together a 100% homemade pizza every Sunday night (okay so we didn’t make the pepperoni, grow the veggies, or ferment the cheese) but we do make the crust and sauce…that’s still impressive right?

This process takes awhile because in Malawi you have to make literally everything. That means that our pizza sauce starts out as fresh tomatoes that have to be boiled, peeled, pureed, and cooked with veggies and spices which are blended to make the perfect combination of Italian perfection!

The crust is the same, having to be made from the very basics. Now Mike and I…okay, mostly Mike, have got this down to an art form.

We make our dough and sauce in large quantities and put them in the freezer for easier prep for the next week. We have the timing down perfect so that the pie comes out with JUST the right crispiness and crunch.

This whole process, and it IS quite the process is time consuming to say the least. So why do we continue to devote so much time every Sunday? It’s because it is our sacred family time.

All of us stay in the kitchen together and play a part. David is engaged with his toys, banging his pots and “chirping” his affirmations of the happenings. Mike makes the dough while I start in on the sauce; we each play our role.

From start to finish pizza takes us about three hours and those are some of the best hours of our week.

I can’t say that I’m organized enough or dedicated enough to sustain any other tradition but Sunday Night Pizza at the Miller’s is here to stay!

What family traditions are non-negotiables for you?