American Futbol: The Movie

Got to do some fun work for some friends who are raising funds to take a road trip that ends at the World Cup in Brazil while filming a documentary about all that they find along the way. They've got a great vision and the skills to make it happen so check them out ( and follow them on all manner of social media so you can keep up with the shenanigans. I was very happy that they trusted me to take a stab at their logo (my first logo!) and a few thumbnails. Happy trails, boys!

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IN PROGRESS: Words for Living

 This is me trying to practice the little detail things I'm learning about photoshop + typography (you know: kerning, use of type styles, filters, contrast, etc.) while meditating on words that need to find their way into the center of myself.

This photo is from a trip I took with some of the dearest people on the planet to a hidden & magical spot in the middle of the virgin beaches of Peru. After riding in the dune buggy across miles and miles of sand away from the shore you come to a spot where the bones of an ancient whale rest surrounded by fossilized shells & driftwood. All I can say is, you'd be surprised how enchanting miles of sand and rock can be.

Guest Curating on BRAVE LOVE


I’m headed out of the heat of Barrancabermeja for a much needed vacation and have invited my dear friend, Monica Ghali, to guest curate BRAVE LOVE while I’m away.

Monica is a soul sister and creative collaborator who I deeply trust. I’m thrilled that she’ll be sharing her artistic eye,…

Really honored and excited and a touch nervous to be guest curating on Brit Hanson’s BRAVE LOVE this week :).

"Quantity can lead to Quality!" or "Long Live Creativity!"

A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

I’ve heard this story before and it strikes me as so helpful in terms of how we think about making things. Make now and make often. Waiting for perfect is the death of creativity. Nathan Johnson


Learning to See

Learning to design is, first of all, learning to see. Designers see more, and more precisely. This is a blessing and a curse — once we have learned to see design, both good and bad, we cannot un-see. The downside is that the more you learn to see, the more you lose your “common” eye, the eye you design for. This can be frustrating for us designers when we work for a customer with a bad eye and strong opinions. But this is no justification for designer arrogance or eye-rolling. Part of our job is to make the invisible visible, to clearly express what we see, feel and do. You can‘t expect to sell what you can’t explain. This is why excellent designers do not just develop a sharper eye. They try to keep their ability to see things as a customer would. You need a design eye to design, and a non-designer eye to feel what you designed.
— Oliver Reichenstein

“See with one eye, feel with the other.”

― Paul Klee

(read full text here)

Thanks to The Made Shop for sharing.

Why We Love Beautiful Things

 "Last year, German researchers found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation."

Thanks, NY Times! Cue me dropping everything to go paint all my rooms green... :)

A Good Word from JSmooth & Ill Doctrine



Haters Don’t Die, They Multiply

On being creative, and how those voices get inside your head and stop you from shining.

Just started working through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and this is exactly what she's encouraging her reader's to work through. Building affirmations to keep our inner haters from blocking our creativity and the results thereof. Thanks for sharing jsmooth, you are not alone.

Last Letter from Lima

Amazing friends & family,

Can you believe it? As of last month I have lived and worked in Lima, Peru for six incredible years and have completed my second contract with Word Made Flesh.  It seems like only a short time ago I was sharing with you all about my desire to come here and you were offering me your warmest support and encouragement.

I remember a cool nervous night in Omaha, a fresh & shiny college grad standing before the Word Made Flesh Board asking for their blessing to spend 2 years in Lima, Peru. 2 years became 3 and then 3 surprisingly became 6 and there were so many nights to remember in between. Nights on the streets of Lima, huddling close to friends. Nights in the cold altitude of Bolivia, sharing community with our sister field. Nights of laughter so rich and full, and other nights so pregnant with pain and weariness. There on the corner waiting, here on a bus visiting, then there again, soul-smiling, at the graduation of child who has grown beautiful and strong in spite of it all. In the ministry center, in the plaza, in the living room, and in the kitchen, always in the kitchen. I could never have imagined it if I tried.

As many of you already know, I will be returning to the States at the end of this month. One of the many incredible things about working here in community is that they are always encouraging its members to seek and understand more deeply their true self in Christ and as such how their vocation is related to that self. My time here has been exactly what I believe God intended it to be and it is with great joy and peace that I step towards the next horizon of who God created me to be, and the vocation that he continues to grow and develop in me.

It has truly been an honor and a privilege to live and serve alongside the Word Made Flesh Peru community. Over the years I have lived here I have seen some of the most intentional and beautiful acts of love and sacrifice on behalf of the vulnerable. I have had the pleasure of seeing the Peruvian community take charge of the ministry and become advocates for those cast out by society and have been incredibly blessed by the relationships that have developed in community with staff, volunteers and the youth we work with. I know that my life will never be the same for knowing them and that a part of my heart and my self will always be here with them. Love has shown me her face here and, although it is much different than I imagined it would be, I am ever grateful.

I have every intention of staying involved with the community here in Lima and I would encourage you all to do the same, as you feel led. The beautiful, difficult, important work continues! Prayer, financial support, words of encouragement, visits to the field, and sharing of resources are just the beginning of the ways you and I can continue to promote God’s vision here in Lima. If you want ideas please be in touch!

To give one specific and timely example:  the children in our educational assistance program are currently on summer vacation and will be gearing up to start classes at the end of this month. Our prayer and financial support assures that they can have another year of the education they deserve and brings them one step closer to breaking the cycles of poverty all around them.*

With all that said, what I most want to express is THANK YOU. This whole thing would never have been possible for me if it weren’t for you all. Your constant support, love, prayers, generous donations, words of encouragement and desire to walk alongside our community has been the fuel that moved me forward and empowered me to serve Jesus among the vulnerable peoples of Lima for the last 6 years. Thank you for believing in me and for believing in the work God is doing here in this great city. You all have also taught me much about what love is and what she looks like in the flesh. I will be ever grateful for your faith and partnership.

Thanks to you, my support account is healthy and has been able to sustain all my costs up until this point and will be able help with my relocation and debriefing. For those of you who have been donating via automatic monthly donation, thank you a million times over, those will be automatically stopped when my support account is closed in May.

Please pray for my community and me, as you feel led, during this time of transition. They have been such an incredible support to me and over the years have become my family away from family. The goodbyes and adjusting to life apart from each other will be difficult and will probably take some time. You can also pray for me as I continue to make decisions about the future – I am a mix of nerves, joy, sadness, and excitement – kind of a crazy combination ☺.

I look forward to seeing and touching base with many of you when I return to the States. I will be in the Des Moines area at first and then we’ll see. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions, or you want to know more, or you just want to say “hi” – the next month will be a bit full but I will try to respond as soon as I can!

So, in summary:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. It has been a joy sharing the journey with you. I look forward to many more adventures along the way! Let’s be in touch…

Much love & peace, Monica N. Ghali

*You can continue to give to the WMF Peru Community by denoting donations to the “Peru General Fund” to give specifically to the educational assistance program denote “Peru General Fund: Educational Assistance”. For online donations:

Love Is All Around Us...

I generally agree that this is a hallmark holiday generated to pick our pockets etc. etc. BUT this year I thought, you know, let's STICK it to 'em by *actually* making it an all out celebration of love and friendship and life.  So that's what I'm doing.  Won't you join me?

Seeing the Beauty and Goodness in Front of Us by Henri Nouwen

"We don't have to go far to find the treasure we are seeking. There is beauty and goodness right where we are. And only when we can see the beauty and goodness that are close by can we recognize beauty and goodness on our travels far and wide. There are trees and flowers to enjoy, paintings and sculptures to admire; most of all there are people who smile, play, and show kindness and gentleness. They are all around us, to be recognized as free gifts to receive in gratitude.

Our temptation is to collect all the beauty and goodness surrounding us as helpful information we can use for our projects. But then we cannot enjoy it, and we soon find that we need a vacation to restore ourselves. Let's try to see the beauty and goodness in front of us before we go elsewhere to look for it."


Also, I say "heck yes!" to this <—sentiment. Thanks filmpunk marke:

May your day be filled with joy and love and grace and connection—you deserve it!

with love, mng

Favorite Time of Year

I think I can safely declare that this is my favorite time of the year in Lima—especially this year.  Besides the fact that its sunny-make-you-want-to-dive-into-any-body-of-water weather and that we have a fabulous little city garden throwing down roots in the ministry center backyard, its also


One of the amazing girls who participates in the Educational Assistance Program working on a project at the center

What's that you ask?  It can be loosely translated as

"Back to School" Educational Assistance Time! (the seasons are reversed this side of the equator if you do recall).

I just love hearing about the successes these children have had in the previous school year, to see the proud joy on their mothers' faces as they tell us how well their little girl is counting or how her son finished first grade with all "A+"s.  Its not easy for these women and their children.  Many of them are on their own trying to raise their family and pay the bills as an essentially single parent, but when they choose to stand up anyway and say my child WILL have a good education and they commit themselves to it, well, that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever had the privilege of witnessing.  To sit with them and to help them evaluate their needs to see how WMF Peru can help and then hear them say "I will work hard so that my child can meet his/her educational goals", especially knowing many of the hardships & often poor access to education they themselves experienced, its hopeful and incredible.  The icing on the cake is getting to send the ladies home with fresh parsley, basil, mint, chives and cucumbers (some friendly, albeit ravenous, worms included) from our very own garden.  Makes me giddy from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  Can't wait till all those gorgeous green tomatoes start glowing vibrant summer red.  Its possible I'll lose it altogether from joy but its a risk I'm willing to take...

Our garden in its earlier more worm free stage :)

Watching both mother and child grow in responsibility and liveliness respectively has been a gift stretched out across these 5 years that I have been here.  I am so thankful for the people who came before me and did all the hard work of establishing and promoting this program.  I know for a fact that those first interviews were some of the most difficult and I am so grateful for their commitment and perseverance [ahem, Langleys, Sarsah, Jose Luis...:)].

And of course THANK YOU to all the people who have said prayers for these families and donated from their resources—you are an integral part of this team.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you think of it, say a prayer for them—if you'd like to chip in click HERE and designate your gift to "Peru Educational Assistance".

Getting Back on the Creative Train

I recently became a participant in the collaborative artistic community/production company and it has been an inspiration beyond what i could have ever imagined. It has literally gotten me back on the creative train! —check it out.

An example of the magic: I submitted a collage of bus tickets that i made last year and then pprescott used it as a background for this fab poster she cooked up with a photo of hers...


Cool, right?!

For some reason this collaborative community has given me the courage to try many of things i've always wanted to delve into. I think it helps that we met at just the right time in my life AND that its 2010 no regrets, but whatever the case, I am loving it. I've done voiceovers, videos, written tiny stories, recorded background vocals and contributed paintings and collages. Now, I want to learn how to be a better REmixer. Even outside of the site I am feeling more inspired to observe and create and engage the world around me. 

So I think I'm just going to roll with it :). 

And that is your random update on this fine tuesday afternoon. 

peace & so much love!

A Simple Woman's Daybook: August 2010

Back in Lima after a glorious visit to the Estados Unidos.  Weddings, newborns, reunions, gardens, summer heat, back and front porch sitting, amazing and inspiring people, rasberry cupcakes... what more could a girl ask for?

Outside my window. . .

I'm choosing to celebrate Lima winter, its crisp and cold and perfect weather for soup creations.

I am listening to. . .

alternating between Rhythm: reduce. reuse. recycle. a mixed tape created by Brit for the sister and Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons

I am thinking. . .

about how amazing this week has been being back in Peru and catching up with friends, how I really need to clean the house before going back to work on Monday and how I really want to do something creative today.

I am thankful. . .

for the beautiful moments I was blessed to spend stateside, affordable fresh produce, and collaboration.

from the learning room. . .

I've been learning a lot about the true faces of Love, the deep healing nature of forgiveness, and how to take better care of this one body I've been given.

from the kitchen. . .

invited friends over on Friday for a humble Egyptian lunch out of my Arab Table Cookbook.  Favorite part:  homemade arab flatbread :).

I am wearing. . .

warm fuzzy pajamas, wool socks & slippers, big blue fuzzy robe.  Standard winter attire.

I am hoping. . .

for a good start to the work week, loads of motivation and good, healthy communication.

I am creating. . .

a frame for my earrings, a sketchbook for the arthouse exhibit, and a cookbook stand.

I am praying. . .

for our local community and the worldwide WMF community.

Around the house. . .

post vacation cleaning is definitely in order.  As soon as I finish this post I'm on it... 

I am reading. . .

"All About Love:  Visions" by Bell Hooks and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig

One of my favorite things. . .

is sitting on my parent's back porch drinking ginger mint tea under the stars with friends and sweet family.  also, cooking out of my sister's garden :).

A few plans for the rest of the week. . .

go to work, pick up the Langley's from the airport (yahoo!), and help Anni & Giancarlo cook for their engagement party!

Several picture thoughts I am sharing. . .

On the farm in Peabody, KS

Fresh produce from my neighborhood market (all for under $4!)

 With 1 hour old baby Isla Jo

Celebrating at Sarah & Sebas' wedding

Chillin' with Mr. Lucas

The Best Compliment Ever

Today Erick & I went to visit a friend who used to live on the streets. He welcomed us into his home and in the course of conversation he gave me my the best compliment ever (warning: this is borderline humblebrag proceed with caution) :

"You know Monica, I've always liked your style, its part hippie part peaceful and it always makes me feel at ease."

Needless to say, that made me pretty happy.

But, more importantly, he's doing well and the visit was such a joyful experience. He read us some of his writings and shared some of his dreams with us and it was such a hopeful time. I'm so proud of him and all the other youth who are pressing on in their lives away from the streets.

Thanks to everyone who made my trip to Egypt and the states so sweet & special. I'm glad to be back in Lima but I miss you all already.  *sigh* :).

love & peace to the people...

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Decided it was a good day to blog but where to start? I ended up wandering to blogs of friends and revisited Monica Klepac's. She has been keeping a "mother's daybook".  i love it!  i'm gonna try it!  that's where i'll start!  so here we go...

Outside my window. . .

I'm enjoying a rare moment of beautiful sunshine breaking up the usual gloom of Lima winter which is now upon us.  amazing.

I am listening to. . .

its one of those rare moments when the iPod is on shuffle.  I'm very much an album person but today I'm enjoying the odd transitions like the one that just happened:  the beatles right into the dixie chicks :).

I am thinking. . .

its going to be an intense week -- we have a discovery team coming in, some pressing deadlines, a baby shower to throw, plus some pending conversations/appointments that have potential to be a tad complex. Still I'm looking forward to it.

I am thankful. . .

that vacation is just a month away.  I'm really looking forward to seeing family and the best friend tie the knot!

From the learning room. . .

we've been reading Jean Vanier's Community & Growth as a community. Its a challenging reminder for us of why we are together doing what we're doing. This week's reading is on the importance of spiritual direction & mentorship.

From the kitchen. . .

tomato, basil & mozzarella sandwiches with peruvian yellow potato chips for lunch.  curried butternut squash & pear soup for dinner. Winter is soup season—you get warm AND it lasts all week if you make a big enough pot :).

I am wearing. . .

long-sleeve thermal shirt under orange tank, brown cords, smart wool socks and, of course, the big blue fuzzy house robe.

I am hoping. . .

on a small scale to make some more headway on our Youth Development program proposal this afternoon. On a larger scale for the people of Bagua & Iran.

I am creating. . .

collages! And trying to make something out of the old windows we had to knock out of the ministry center...

I am praying. . .

for our community's health. Everybody is feeling a little under the weather in all sorts of different forms.

Around the house. . .

We finally bought another book shelf—all our books have homes now, so great!

I am reading. . .

actually just this morning I finished reading Acting:  The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky and I loved it.  its a quick but beautiful little read.  definitely transformed my view of what it means to get up on stage.  also made me *really* want to get back up on stage... :)

One of my favorite things. . .

is that one of our dear friends who left the street & went to chef school just got his first job as a cook!

a few plans for the rest of the week. . .

finish this stage of the program proposal, welcome & host the discovery team, get a new exercise rhythm going, get vacation stuff a little more organized and enjoy this last week with the Langley's before their vacation...

A picture thought i am sharing. . .


I love these girls! I had the chance to go spend easter with Cara, Heather and the rest of the WMF Bolivia staff in El Alto  which was amazing. Also just got word that Cara is engaged! Such joy!

Accion gringo! Dale gringo!

If you speak spanish, you might think these videos are hilarious.

Whatever language you speak, check out these two short clips of Brian helping out with the demolition of the back part of the new WMF Peru Ministry Center.

We've been praying, hoping & begging for our demolition license for what feels like months and finally last week we had that precious piece of paper in our hands.  finally our amazing crew was able to get to the incredibly hard work of demolishing & hauling out the back part of the building deemed unusable by the municipality. Once this is done we're looking forward to:

planting a garden!
painting and putting finishing touches on the first floor!
getting our operating license!
the dust settling!

As we had our prayer & worship meeting, I couldn't help but smile as the ground shook a little and we could hear the steady pounding in between songs. Absolutely music to my ears...