A Few of My Favorite Things {June 2016}

It's been a few months since I've shared some of my favorite things. We're at the beach this week, which is certainly something I'm into, so I thought I'd compile a June list of fun! I hope you find something you can enjoy as well (seriously, these apples...), and I'd love to hear some of your favorite things in the comments. Here we go!

An Apple A Day

They say it keeps the doctor away. They don't say the apples can't be slathered in almond butter, dotted with chocolate chips, and sprinkled with coconut! This is my latest obsession. The kids love it. I've decided it's a health food. Even if the Pinterest recipe calls for dark chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut (which I can't seem to find), and I'm taking liberties. It's practically like eating raw kale.  

Fizzy Delight 

Let's be honest. It was only a matter of time. If you've followed my "What I'm Into" posts over the last year or so, I've been inappropriately obsessed with sparkling water. To the point that people sometimes tag me on Instagram when they drink it. I really should be getting paid from these companies, right?

Anyway, Billy felt our "sparkling water budget" was getting a little much. So he bought a Soda Stream. Personally, I don't add any of the flavored syrup thingies. Just fruit. Lots of lemons and limes. A couple raspberries. It's a bit of a learning curve to get the carbonation just right, and I thought I was going to lose an eye or a hand the other day when I "overdid it" a bit. But I'm getting there!

Favorite Instagram

Because June has been all about Copa America. Also, I keep getting messages "we just saw your family on TV" thanks to Fox Sports 1 plucking this gem out of the interwebs to add to an Argentina highlights reel. Billy was certain this twist of fate would mean he'd get to meet Messi. So far, that has not happened...

A video posted by Sarah Quezada (@sarahquezada) on

Road Trippin' Reads

I've spent a lot of time in the car in June. Gabriella and I went on a "Girls Road Trip" to North Carolina to visit my dear high school friend and her sweet babies.

Then, we drove to Kentucky to frolic with family and check "Trampoline Park" off my bucket list. Which, by the way, was incredible! I thought I would be sore for days, but I wasn't at all. Only happy. After that, it was on to Chicago. Because Copa.  

All that driving means lots of Audible for me! (If you want to try it, click here and get two free books to get started!) I listened to I Let You Go, which is a suspense novel. There's definitely a surprising twist that shifts what you thought was happening throughout the book.

And now I'm in the middle of Enrique's Journey, thanks to many of you recommending it to me! It is the story of a teenage boy who travels from El Salvador to the U.S.. I thought I knew quite a bit about child migrants and some of the challenges they face. But the book has painted a much deeper and more nuanced portrait of a family than any news story has the time or space to capture.

It was written by a journalist and unpacks this real family's experience. It's not an easy book because of the subject matter, but it's been eye-opening and important for me to read.

Next on my list is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Seeking Refuge to understand more about the global refugee crisis.

Favorite Posts

Here's some terrific articles I've read online this month:

When Charity is just a Band-Aid - I tend to feel rebellious when people refer to something as a "must-read." So I'm just going to say don't read this one at all.

#IAmAnImmigrant - This video highlights Immigrant Heritage Month and the challenges of mixed status families. I'm sad to report that the Supreme Court decided not to decide, which means DAPA stays frozen. 

A Unified Church Is Gospel Witness - Christena Cleveland writes, "In a society rife with racial conflict, US evangelicals are in a unique position to build cross-cultural bridges." I believe that's true, and I hope evangelicals step up.

Here's some things I wrote in June:

My Marriage to an Undocumented Immigrant - I shared some of our story on Christianity Today's Her.menuetics blog, as well as how the American Church is a mixed status family.

Seeking Shalom for the Immigrant - If you're into podcasts, I did an interview with Osheta Moore at Shalom in the City. She asks some great questions about immigration, and it was a joy to speak with her. 

2016 Multicultural Summer Reading List - I put together a free download of multicultural books for you to check out this summer! You can download the list here

As always, big shout out to Leigh Kramer for hosting this monthly link-up. I'd love to hear some of your favorite things from June!

2016 Multicultural Summer Reading List [Free Download]

Reading. All the cool kids are doing it. And of course they are! Because reading is awesome. In celebration of summer, I'm offering the 2016 Multicultural Summer Reading List. Eighteen terrific titles to guide your Amazon ordering or library requesting.

Inside, you'll find some captivating reads perfect for the beach, poolside, or commuting to work (whatever your summer holds). A quick sneak peak:

                  ** Novels to transport you to new places and experiences.
                  ** True stories of immigration, cross-cultural marriage, and living abroad.
                  ** Humor books to make you laugh till you cry. 
                  ** Engaging nonfiction to keep your brain sharp.
                  ** Insightful young adult fiction because young adult novels can be great!

Get your free 2016 Multicultural Summer Reading List when you sign up below!

My Life As A Copa Wife

Ok, so I'm still rocking the #WorldCupWives hashtag on the socials, but I will state for the record I am fully aware this is not a World Cup summer. It's Copa America. So now I am a Copa Wife. It involves a lot of the same activities.

But this cool thing about this year's Copa is that the U.S. is the host country. I should have known what that would mean for me. Of course. Nearly nine years of marriage. I should have known!

So yes. We drove 24 hours to be in Chicago for approximately 27 hours. But we got to see Messi score three goals in about 30 minutes, which I gotta say was pretty cool. The whole Copa experience was fantastic. Here's a quick rundown of my life as a Copa Wife.

  • Billy told me the game started at 8:30 pm. Naturally, we would need to leave my parent's house in Kentucky (about a 6 hour drive) at 6 am sharp. 

  • I hollered at a stranger in an Argentina jersey at a rest stop in Indiana. It's possible he didn't speak English. It's also possible he picked up that jersey at a thrift store and has no idea who Messi is. Basically, he looked at me and responded not at all. Billy pretended to be mortified. I'm like, "Well, this is what I'm here for!"

  • Arriving in Chicago about 8 hours before kick-off, we went ahead and suited up in our matching jerseys and parked at the stadium. Because preparedness. 

  • Leaving the parking garage, we heard them testing the sound system by playing the teams' national anthems. Billy was certain the game was starting hours ahead of schedule. Insert moment of panic and frantic phone Googling. Insert me speaking in a soothing voice and refusing to return to the stadium.

  • We walked all around the city, giving "insider" head nods and occasional fist pumps to others in Argentina jerseys. Nine year old boys shouted "Agüero" at me on the street. I got defensive. Then I remembered that was the name on my jersey. 

  • A woman stopped us and asked, "_____ do these guys play?" Billy answered, "Tonight." I answered, "Soccer." She proceeded with fifteen more questions while her husband pretended not to be with her. We witnessed our own future as a couple.

  • By 7:45 pm, we were sitting in our seats in the stadium. (You can watch our Periscope here.) Billy informed me he'd be wearing his headphones during the game to listen to the Univision announcers. I asked myself existential questions about my place in the world. 

  • The stadium was packed. For security measures, everyone carried in their belongings in a clear plastic bag. A man passed us with his bag filled with shredded newspaper. Man, how I hoped he was going to do a live papier-mâché project during the game. 

  • Messi - Argentina's star player - didn't play in the first half, nor start the second. Every time the camera panned to him, the stadium chanted his name. I found myself thinking, "Who knew he had so many tattoos?" Oh how I missed the World Cup Wives!

  • Messi entered around the 60 minute mark and promptly scored 3 goals. It was amazing.

  • Argentina won the game! Shredded newspaper started falling from the sky. 

Do I acknowledge that my rundown includes only a couple lines about the actual game? Yes. Yes, I do. But it was a super fun experience, and a great time to share with the hubs. 

To top it off, on our drive home, my World Cup Wives co-host Katie called me to say, "I'm watching you on national TV." Yeah, I'm gonna need more information. 

Turns out Fox Sports 1 had snagged our Instagram video and added it to a highlight compilation of the Argentina game. This is my life as a Copa Wife.

P.S. If you love someone who loves soccer, you'll love the World Cup Wives. And we're already brainstorming and talking about World Cup 2018. Sign up here to join our newsletter and get all the juicy details!

9 Ways to Seek Shalom with Immigrants

Shalom is a beautiful Hebrew word that - too often - is pressing its elbows against the tiny box in which we try to contain it. Traditionally, we hear it translated as "peace."

While that's true, shalom can translate into other words, such as harmony, wholeness, restoration, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. My friend Osheta Moore hosts a podcast, Shalom in the City, that tackles justice issues and practical ways we can seek wholeness.

I had the fun opportunity to talk with her in Episode 14 about seeking shalom with immigrants. How do we nurture harmony and restoration on such a contentious topic? I shared some practical ideas - Osheta calls them "Shalom Steps," which is so cool - on the podcast. But of course, ten minutes after the interview was over, I thought of more.

So I'm compiling a list of 9 ways we can seek shalom with our neighbors, regardless of birth country.

#1 - 40 Days of Scripture & Prayer

The Evangelical Immigration Table has put together 40 days of verses unpacking God's word about how we treat foreigners and aliens. Whether alone or with a group, praying through these Scriptures is a powerful way to walk with God on the topic of immigration.

#2 - Stay Informed

It can be challenging to get information about immigration news. Some great resources include the aforementioned Evangelical Immigration Table, #Pray4Reform on Twitter, CCDA Biblical Justice on Facebook, G92, author and activist Matthew Soerens on Twitter and Facebook, or Migration Policy Institute.

#3 - Smile

U.S. culture can sometimes project an air of "coldness," especially to folks from smaller communities in developing countries with a slower pace. Combine this with the fact that many immigrants seem "invisible" by choice or by status or by occupation, one simple step to promoting shalom can be simply acknowledging others with a smile and hello. For those who feel unwelcome, this gesture can be a gift.

#4 - Read Books

There are of course so many. I recommended both Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible and Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate in the podcast. But I'll add here another book that's a memoir from actress Diane Guerrero (from Jane the Virgin and OITNB). It's a powerful story about her experience as a U.S. citizen child coming home from school at age 14 to discover both her parents had been deported. Check out In the Country We Love: My Family Divided.

#5 - Host a Film Screening

I promise I don't work for the Evangelical Immigration Table. But they've produced a film called The Stranger that is perfect for church groups to begin a conversation about this important topic.

#6 - Show Hospitality

According to the Billy Graham Center, less than one in ten immigrants will ever be welcomed into the home of an American. That statistic has stayed with me since the first time I ever read it here. Step outside your comfort zone and build relationships across citizenship lines.

#7 - Advocate

It's actually so easy to let Congress know that we need comprehensive immigration reform. I even went to Washington once, and I was amazed at the process. We must speak up!

#8 - Support Families Going Through Deportation

Billy and I are big supporters of the mission of El Refugio, a Georgia ministry that visits men in detention. They also provide hospitality and support to families of detainees. We're going to visit for the first time later this month, so I'm sure I'll share more. Consider getting involved with their (or similar) work.

#9 - Pray

I started this list with prayer, and it feels like the perfect ending. Systemic change needs the intervention of our God, who has a heart for those on the margins. I wrote this prayer years ago. Our broken immigration system affects those at every level. May we all pray for reform.

I hope these Shalom Steps are helpful. I'm encouraged to know others are participating in this journey to seek justice and shalom for immigrants. Whether you're new to the blog from the podcast or have been reading for years, please say hi in the comments and let's stand together seeking shalom. Thank you, Osheta, for the opportunity to speak about immigration!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.