Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Raisin Version

In one of my favorite blogs to read, Natalie Lloyd always includes what she's listening to and a quote or lyric she is liking at the moment. In full belief that imitation is indeed flattery and not cheating, I love the idea and think I might implement it here...in a Maria sort of way, if you will. So.

Listening to: Sports Center's Top 10 plays of the day. Comes with the territory of being married to Aaron, friends. :)

Lyric that has been nagging me lately (in a good way): "...because my comfort would prefer for me to be numb; and avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become..." -Brooke Fraser

I got back to Phoenix on Saturday from Myrtle Beach. I got...a bit of a tan. Trust me, I used sunscreen - I am quite terrified of the sun, after living in Arizona for 9 months. Nevertheless, I believe I may have inadvertently become the raisin version of Maria.
Oops. But anyway, I also bring back from Myrtle Beach fresh perspective... and a nervous belly.
I had such a great week with my family... we were all bummed Aaron couldn't make it, but he will come next year. But even without my Brown Eyes, It was so cathartic to be around my dad, my momma, my sister, her awesome hubby, and my sweet brother all at ONE TIME. (And Frank! Frank is brother Joey's friend.) We napped in the sun every day, ate lots of cookies and other things that don't quite qualify as real food, yet are sinfully delicious (read: Zebra Cakes) and played card games.

I went running along the beach a few mornings, too. On Thursday, after my run, I even wandered over to the pier and happened to see a huge family of dolphins giggle and jump their way down the Carolina coast...it was so lovely. One of those moments that was unplanned and unforeseen but so graceful. If we could always remember how joyful it feels to actually live in one moment - not thinking about the moment before it or the one that's coming - we would do it all the time, dont you think? But we forget too quickly.

Being on vacation seemed like only a moment itself, and now I am back in Phoenix. This is what gives my belly the nervous feeling. It's not a foreign sensation - it is exactly the one I had when Mom dropped me off in Colorado by myself a few years ago to study for 12 weeks at the Focus Institute; and the same one I had when I was 8 and she dropped me off at Girl Scout camp for a week. It is not a pleasant feeling. It is a panicky, "wait-where-is-she-going?!"- feeling. A "but-i'm-so-far-away!" feeling. And it makes me physically sick to my stomach - and I mean that literally. I won't go into details, friends. But it is that kind of a weird, steady panic.

Don't get me wrong - I am with my husband; the love of my life and the guy I would follow to Pluto if I had to, because he is my husband and I love him, and I promised I would. And we have an adorable little puppy and a nice, unassuming little life right now in Scottsdale, Arizona, and that's just the way I like it. I do love the Hispanic culture here, and the beautiful mountains, and Phoenix's lovely downtown. But the truth is I really can't stand being away from Mom and Dad anymore. It just doesn't work with me. I wasn't built for it. Things are too different out here. Dirt replaced grass, posh apartment buildings and strip malls replaced decades-old brick courthouses and a ceratin... west-coast-ness? (insert: snobbery) replaced humility. I know that's a generalization, but you must trust me when I say the culture in Arizona is night and day to Ohio. I am not lying. One is not neccesarily better than the other. But one is most certainly more Maria than the other.

I used to fancy myself someone like Belle from Beauty & the Beast - wanting adventure in the "great wide somewhere;" and not one of those ignorant townspeople who were content to just bake pastries all day. (That's what French people do, right? That and sing all the time, in unison?) But now, I don't think that skipping town makes you sophisticated, in the same way that sticking around doesn't make you pitiful. Why did I ever make that assumption? You can be lazy and unadventurous in the town where you grew up or you can be lazy and unadventurous 3,000 miles away. And you can dream big and do big things 3,000 miles away but you can do them next door, too.

All that being said, Aaron and I have talked about it, and it is not time for us to leave Arizona yet. We both know that, and so we stay. But we will be back one day, Ohio. We have come to a little adventure out here, but we will be back. And we will have a big blue house with white trim, a basketball hoop in our driveway and a comfortable proximity to Mom and Dad. Because my belly can't take it anymore, and because I was a fool to think I always knew exactly how I wanted my life to look. Jon Krakauer might make fun of me, but then again, he never got a Papa Fisher hug. And I know which one of us is missing out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Ever since Aar and I 'discovered' our library a few weeks ago, I have been a reading fiend. I finished Mere Christianity, much to my chagrin (sly grin). I know that book changed my life forever and that gives me happy shivers. But anyway, after that I figured I needed to calm the ol' noggin down a bit, so I read this:

I am actually a daily watcher of Bill O'Reilly on Fox, and Lis Wiehl is a regular guest of his. I really like her - she seems very level-headed and she lets Bill have it sometimes. Anyway, I decided to read her book. Definitely not anything that requires any sort of semblance of deep thinking whatsoever - but that's exactly what I was hoping for. :) It was a fun read and a nice exhale after Mr. C. S. Lewis. I just reserved another one of her books from the library yesterday to read on the beach.

After I was finished with that, I started this:

After the first few chapters, I decided actually to make it part of my daily devotions instead of trying to read it all at once. My favorite chapter so far has been about (more or less) realizing how untrusting and futile worrying about the future is. That sounds very cliche and kind of silly, but the way he wrote about it was new to me and I loved it. Lucado's writing gets a bit forced at times (he really loves the whole prose thing...) but I still recommend it! (My copy even has a permament-marker etching of "To Maria - from Max" in the front... thanks Mom and Dad!)

But even though I am still in the middle of that book, tonight I finished this one:

And all I can say is....

I hope you read it. Not to compare apples to oranges, but if Mere Christianity is an explanation of God, this book is an illustration. It changed me. It changed a LOT of me. In such a deep way that I don't think I can write about it publicly just yet but trust me, my journal got an EARFUL tonight. Maybe I will write more on it later...

So, from girl power detective novels to life-changing theological explorations, I am loving my foray back into the books. And I can't wait for a week at the beach to keep on reading. Next in line: The Secret Life of Bees, Lis Wiehl's other book ("Face of Betrayal"), "The Heights" by Peter Hedges (the library had it on a special shelf and I liked the cover...what?!)... and the list goes on. :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Thank Offering

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me
and he prepares the way
so that I may show him the salvation of God."
Psalm 50:23

I wrote that awful blog about pride a while ago, and I think gratitude is a baby step away from it. You can't be thankful for something if you thought you deserved it anyway, right? Or if you're too busy wondering what your neighbor got instead? According to Psalm 50, gratitude is also how God prepares us for what I like to call His Great Explanation. No laughing matter. Anyway, I don't know about all of that (though I hope to one day) but I do know that gratitude tends to lighten the heart. I'll take that.

So here is my thank offering for today.

1. Do you know that I have the sweetest, warmest, most curiously forgiving husband in the world? He is quite something. He loves baseball and eating huge amounts of spaghetti (tonight: the meat sauce variety. YUM-O.) He takes a childlike joy in grown-up things, like in working hard and in making me feel like I'm responsible for all his smiling. I am so grateful for how he works for us and how he takes care of me. Shoot - I am just grateful that he wants to hang out with me! I am grateful for his easy grace, his goofy jokes and his Kermit the Frog impression, though it could use a lot more work and a lot less 'air-time,' if you know what I mean. I'm thankful to God that He gave Aaron those handsome brown eyes, and an affinity for red meat. That was critical. I am not grateful for how God multiplies Aaron's dirty laundry daily, like He did to the loaves and the fishes. Please do not ask me about this. To recap: thankful for all the Aaron is and does and teaches me. Not thankful for amount of dirty laundry produced.


2. I am thankful for our jobs. I don't like getting up every day and doing the same thing, I just don't. But that is inconsequential compared to all the wonderful and undeserved blessings that our jobs provide us. I'm thankful God helps me get up every day (my roommate Ashley can attest to what a literal miracle this is) and I'm thankful that we can experience a kind of security that realistically, the vast majority of people in the world don't. What luck! (Luck = blessing that I am not capable to understand, so I figure the concept closest to it that I can somewhat comprehend is luck. Please don't theologize all up and down that part.)

3. I am thankful for this big mug that Aaron made for me when we painted pottery a few weeks ago. It has my name in cursive (no small feat for Aaron - ha) and a big guitar on it, outlined by bubble paint. And it is purple, which is obviously the world's superior color. And it holds just the right amount of hot chocolate, which I am about to take a sip of. (A ginger sip though. Because this will be the first sip of the day. Is it too hot? I will just have to take that gamble). Mmm. Not too hot.

4. I am thankful that I get to go to Myrtle Beach in a week and a half. Oh nelly, I just got chills typing that. This will be an unexpected vacation (I didn't know I was going until about a month ago) and that is the best kind. I am thankful not only for the fun it promises, but also for the excitement it is delivering even now! I'm telling you, going to bed tonight knowing I get to see Joey, Jenny, Mom, Dad and Eric in just a few short days is the sweetest kind of grace.

5. I am thankful for puppy Jethro. Yes, he has no concept of personal space and he often climbs on top of me at hilariously inopportune moments, but he has very floppy ears so all is forgiven. He has the best "YAY! YOU'RE HOME!" face as well, so it all evens out.

5. I am thankful for my Aunt Cris. Three years ago today, she passed away, and I am grateful for that too because she got to finish her wandering a lot sooner than most of us. (I am certain that is because she packed an unfathomable amount of loving others into an absurdly short period of time.) I'm thankful for those awesome rolls she baked for Thanksgiving every year (the warm and buttery variety...Yes Lord) but more than that, I'm thankful for what a graceful, forgiving and loving name she gave the rest of us Christians who frankly, should hang our heads for the slimy reputation we often give our faith and that Aunt Cris had to fight to disprove. I'm told that someone at her funeral told my uncle that she had only seen Christ alive in two people, and Aunt Cris was one of them. She had done it. Thanks Aunt Cris, and thanks God, for sharing her.

See? All that time I just spent discovering what I have to be thankful about was time spent NOT comparing myself, NOT dwelling on what I wish I had or that someone else didn't, and NOT burning my tongue on hot chocolate. Win.

What's your thank offering?