Category Archives: Family

The original Martha & Mary


Which Martha am I talking about??? Well… I can say, with complete confidence… my mother is the ORIGINAL Martha Stewart. They are approximately the same age, but my mother is so much more special and talented than Martha. Let me explain…

My mom grew up in Peru, where she learned the art of hand crafting, sewing, hand washing linens, starching, cooking and so much more from her mother. Her mother (my grandmother) was so talented. She was a professional opera singer, an expert seamstress who made many of her own costumes, and she played the piano beautifully.

I remember many nights when my mother would stay up late at night and into the wee hours of the morning sewing beautiful dresses for her girls, for my aunts, and for her self. She would patiently make our halloween costumes, finishing them with sequins, beautiful buttons, bows, and other special touches that she would sew on by hand.

Birthday party invitations were always special, and hand crafted long before scrapbooking supplies were in style. I’m talking about the 1970’s!! I remember one invitation was a black ant cut out of black construction paper with little minnie mouse feet, a real lace dress with sequins buttons and a cute little face and antennas. Another invitation was made out of those little old fashioned 4″ plastic white milk jugs that was turned into a clown with a little white styrofoam ball glued to the top as the head with yarn hair, sequins buttons, felt clothes… She was so creative, and she always made our parties so special with delicious food and fun entertainment like puppet shows and kids music.

My mother worked long hours organizing her home, making sure it was always spotlessly clean, welcoming, beautiful, and always open for anyone at any time. Her home was, and still is, beautifully appointed and decorated, often sewing her own window treatments, pillows covers, bed covers, and slip covers for chairs or couches. Her pantry was always stocked, and meals were always delicious, even when her budget was tight. She never showed us if she was stressed, overwhelmed or upset. She was always emotionally controlled and joyful. She was and still is a hard worker, serving others first.

Not only has my mother worked hard at home, but she has always, ALWAYS been involved in ministry at church. Women’s ministry has always been close to her heart. She’s led Bible studies, home groups, ministered to women who had gone through divorce, or women who had husbands with addictions or recovering from addictions.What ever ministry God placed her in, she was involved 100%. It’s the example I saw through my young adult life and its what I patterned my own life after. Yes, she resembles Martha Stewart, but she also closely paralleled someone else that I find far more important.

The story of Martha and Mary in the Bible is one I’ve always loved. Sadly, I’ve always identified with Martha, because for 25 years, I’ve run into ministry full tilt, always busy working, preparing, juggling, running around, serving… frustrated because I felt like everyone around me was so un-committed to helping out in ministry. I’ve been the one who would fill in when someone was absent. I’d run myself ragged, become ill, and still keep running, exasperated at all the bodies sitting on the pews listening to the message the pastor was sharing, or enjoying worship. I need to say that I NEVER saw my mom doing this. Ever! This is Martha, only in a different setting.

And this is where I would say to Jesus… “Lord, do you not care that my friends have left me to do all the serving alone? Tell them to help me!” And, Jesus would say to me… “Giselle, Giselle… You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for all the others have chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from them.” (a loose translation of: Luke 10:40-42) Sound familiar? It’s the exact conversation Martha and Jesus had about Mary.

Needless to say, my mom is a Mary. Mary was Martha’s sister who sat at Jesus’ feet, learning and worshipping. My mom was able to balance her priorities as Mary was, knowing that while hospitality is important, and that serving others and having your home in order, and working your full time job is also important, placing your relationship with the Lord first and sitting at his feet, worshipping him, reading his word, and spending time with him is far more important than anything else. This is when we hear from him, when he mends our brokenness, when he moves in our hearts and when we grow spiritually.

Mary’s heart was in the right place, and her motives pure, and Jesus knew her heart, just as he knows our hearts and thoughts.Yes, My mom has a lot of Martha in her, but in her heart and spirit, she’s a Mary. She knows her priorities.

This story isn’t just for women. It’s for men as well. You fill your lives with work, softball, golf, projects at home or away from home, filming silly things, playing around with your technology, fishing, hunting, building things, ministries with the children or youth, home groups, serving at church, music or whatever other busy things men do… The principle is the same. Slow down and take time to re-prioritize!!

Let’s all make it a priority to choose the “good part that won’t be taken away from us!”

And that’s… According to Giselle!


A Little Bit About Giselle


IMG_0702Where I Come From

I am a first generation Latin-American woman. But honestly? I have a lot more in me than just that. I’m probably more Italian-Irish-Peruvian-American. It’s confusing, I know. My mother was born in Peru. Her father was Italian and her mother was Italian-Peruvian. My mother came to America in her early twenties to work for an international organization. She met my father, and American-Irish-mix of a man, and married him in her late twenties. See what I mean? Confusing. So — This makes me a really crazy mixture of Italian-Irish-Peruvian-American.

My Childhood

When I was a small girl, I vividly remember my parents entertaining frequently. My mother loved to cook, bake and entertain, and honestly, she became an accomplished cook in her own right by reading numerous cookbooks — Julia Child, Bon Appetite magazines, The Joy of Cooking and her Peruvian cookbooks (I still have one!) were some favorites. She often made formal meals for our small family — my mother and father, me, my sister, and our nanny, as well as numerous of our beloved cousins that lived with us — because she wanted to teach us manners, and the importance of eating together in an informal AND in a formal manner. We spent all our meals around the table, together, talking, laughing, stealing food off each other’s plates, and enjoying family time together. That was our family time.

Alternately, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, birthdays… they were all celebrated in the dining room, with a formal three or four course meal, all served on my mother’s vast collection of beautiful china, sterling silver flatware, delicate linens, beautiful crystal goblets and glasses, and her girls dressed in their pretty dresses. It was mandatory, expected, and we loved it. When she invited guests or had parties, my younger sister and I helped in the kitchen and served the guests in the formal dinning room. I must confess, I didn’t like that too much, but it taught me how to set a formal table, which side to serve and clear from (which has changed now), and planted a love in my heart to cook, entertain, collect cookbooks, china and serving pieces, and discover new foods and recipes.

So much laughter, chatter, clanking of china and flatware, mmmmm’s and aaahhhs, ooooh’s, and more laughter. Clusters of friends and beloved family chatting, singing, guitars strumming, piano clanking, dancing, the smells of food, music, more laughter, tears of joy… some tears of sorrow… friends and family comforting each other, bolstering each other, eating with each other, and holding each other. Thats what I remember growing up. They are beautiful memories of an enormous, beautiful extended Peruvian family that came to America one by one, and they ALL love each other  through food, drink, music, gathering together, loving each other, laughing, singing and eating together. And it all started in my moms kitchen.


What is entertaining to me today? It’s not just food, or cleaning the house, or the financial cost of purchasing everything. It’s those special memories that just blur into each other with sounds, smells, feelings and emotions. Its the joy of having a house full of people that we love, or that we’re just meeting; its the sounds of laughter, or even tears, music, clanging flatware, clinging glasses; it’s the smells of food, garlic, bubbling tomato sauce, a sweet smell of chocolate, or strawberries, the tart tang of lemon in the room; it’s the sounds of children running through the rooms. Serving my friends and family, cooking for them, being there for them… that’s my love language, and it makes me very happy, with a huge smile on my face. That’s who I am, and that’s … According to Giselle.

Welcome to According to Giselle


Welcome to my “new” blog: According to Giselle. I must confess, I have mixed emotions about blogging again. I say new, but truth be told, I’m a seasoned blogger. I began blogging back in 2004 to track our journey of infertility at Infertile Meanderings. Once our son was born, I began a new blog called Kisses of Sunshine, and I blogged there as GiBee (pronounced: Gee-Bee) for many many years, until I felt I lost my “writing voice.” I loved blogging, so believe me when I say – it takes falling into a very low place to loose your writing voice.

Health issues, depression, loss of a job … no one thing could be held responsible for sending me into such a dark place that I would feel like I lost my will to write, but I feel like I’ve finally returned to a place where I can once again share my life with a wide open audience. In fact, I have been with FaceBook, but that is a very guarded circle of friends, and a blog is a very public platform that brings a huge sense of anxiety to me, because the whole world blogs, meaning anyone and their distant relative can read my blog (and all my personal details). Now, THAT is frightening! Especially when all the names I could think of for a blog were taken, so I had to use my real name. That right there is SCARY!

But when its all said and done, I’m ready to share my life with the world (and family and old friends) again; ready to make new friends in the blogging world; ready to share new things I’ve learned as a mom of a BOY (I can’t believe it!); ready to share things I’m learning as I crawl towards the age of 50 (OH MY GOSH!); and ready to share things I’ve learned about being a wife, my life, my family, my talents and hobbies, and my Lord and Savior.

So please, won’t you come on this journey with me? And while the views on this blog won’t always be right, it will always be… “According to Giselle!”