Monday, May 31, 2010

Goal #2: Life Updates - May

“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”
- Jane Austen

Well spoke Ms. Austen. I knew I liked you.

Busy. That pretty much sums up our month-o-May. It was an extremely fun, but extremely full month in our apartment-hold. In addition to our 40-hour-a-week jobs, we both had our hands full with some money-making side projects that turned our weeks into 50-60 hour a work weeks. Plus, out of the five weekends in May, we were out of town for four of them and shooting a wedding on the remaining weekend.

That's right - I have shot my first-of-five weddings with Devin for Goal #91 (photos coming in a future post!)

I already wrote about my trip to Tucson for a play and our trip to Prescott for my friend Susanne's wedding - that covers weekend 1 and 2 of May.

Weekend number three was claimed by our first couple's retreat with the young married class from our church. We had a great time building some new relationships with the other young couples. I learned/talked a lot about respecting our husbands and quoted ideas from Marla's books/teachings on more than one or two (or six) occasions.

On our last evening of the retreat, Devin and I took a lovely walk along the desert trail behind where we were staying. Say what you will about the desert, but in April-early May it is so green (relatively speaking) and beautiful and smells divine thanks to a plant called the creosote bush. While we were out, we happened upon the javelina you see to your left (along with another adult and two babies). Unfortunately, Devin wasn't able to snap a photo of all four of them in time.

Weekend numero four we took a Robison Family vacation to San Diego. We has such a blast with my family, but were exhausted by the time we returned. Saturday we spent all day walking and driving the beaches, Sunday we were in Sea World all day (and can I just say - I HEART BAT RAYS!!), and Monday we trekked around Coronado Island and Seaport Village before driving six hours back home that same day. Woooo-eeee! So fun, so exhausting, so worth it. (I'll post a picture blog for this trip soon.)

Being out of town so much made Goal #54 a bit difficult, but we managed to cut corners where we could. For example, we brought bagels and peanut butter into Sea World so we won't have to buy any food. Classy, I know. However, we also treated ourselves to an over-priced coffee and smoothie in the park, which probably made the aforementioned savings null and void. The excuse, "We're on vacation," is a dangerous set of words my friends. One we also used for coffee at the Hotel del Coronado and for McDonald's ice cream on the drive home. Oops.

If that weren't bad enough, on the last work day of May I bought lunch. ::grimace:: This was the first time since the beginning of Goal #31 that I didn't packed a lunch for work. But I made it nearly seven weeks and plan to get my lunch-packing rear back in gear come June!

Q4U- How is everyone else out there in the blogosphere kicking off their summer?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Addicted to My Own Significance

Significance has always been important to me. Scratch that - significance has always been addicting to me. I can pin some of it on being a firstborn I suppose, but the fact is, I have a problem when it comes to seeking approval from others. I guess we all have ways of expressing our different forms of insecurity, and mine manifests itself in a must-be-the-best-and-never-disappoint-over-achiever kind of way.

When I was younger (and even still today) I strove for the approval of my parents - I got good grades, I held myself to high moral standards, I was responsible, etc. - and as my parents gave approval and encouragement generously, I received positive reinforcement for that striving. I was a complete teacher's pet in high school and college and I basked in the glory of how significant I felt. I care about what my friends think of me, my clothes, my apartment, my cooking, my friendships skills. And now, being a wife, I find I pin my significance on Devin's opinion of me. Through all this significance-seeking, I also base my significance on how I feel about me - Did I do enough? Did I try hard enough? Was I good enough?

Did anyone else notice the One I failed to mention in the above list of significance-providers?

"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?" - Galatians 1:10

During small group this week, I was struck by the above question and by the knowledge that far too often I look for my significance from man rather God. I also realized that even by seeking significance from within myself, I am still seeking it elsewhere than from God.

Here's an example of what I mean: How often do I do what is right because it makes me feel good about myself, rather than with the motive to seeking God's favor? (The answer, in case you couldn't guess is: very often.) That's not to say that doing right and pleasing God won't produce a feeling of happiness and satisfactions within me. But if in the honest depths of my heart my motive for doing good is self-pleasing, then I am placing my approval of myself above God's opinion of me.

It makes me think of the verse that says, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Without God as my motive and focus, my actions are hallow. My deeds might be good, and even feel good, but my heart is full of the spiritual adultery that seeks satisfaction and significance somewhere beyond God.  

I am in essence saying, "You aren't satisfying me God, so I'm going to find satisfaction elsewhere." The Bible often describes this attitude as adultery, whoring and prostitution. Now that I'm married, I can picture the pain of that analogy so much deeper. I can only imagine the devastation I would feel if Devin told me, "Sorry Hon, but you're just not meeting my needs. I'm going to go fill them somewhere else. I'll see you around though."


When I look to others rather than God to fill my need for significance, I am telling God He isn't enough for me. I am creating idols in my life and I am sinning.

I know I am blessed to have a circle of people in my life who love me, encouragement me and remind me that I am significant. I am grateful for that human example of God's love for me. But I need to put God back in His rightful place as my first and main source of significance and let the others be just a nice reminder.

Q4U- Where do you seek significance?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Being Blasé

I have all sorts of post ideas lined up and I have every good intention of posting them in the near future. But I am currently feeling a bit lackadaisical. You know, the sort of stand-still one feels when life is just too busy to gather one's thoughts enough to even ponder doing one more thing? Yeah, I'm smack-dab in the middle of that feeling.

I'm still working on Project 101, but my current goals (12 in the works right at this moment) are rather involved and not quickly checked off the List.

Here's a little peek at a goal-in-progress: Goal #82: Design something new, for fun, every week for two months. 

This is a digital portrait I created for fun as a gift for my friends Ryan and Sarah Shoemaker, who just recently had their first child - the lovely Brinlee Alexandra Shoemaker.

Q4U- What do you do to motivated yourself when you are feeling over-whelmed?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Becoming an Antique[r]

I have many childhood memories of being dragged by my parents through endless antique stores and being surrounded by things I couldn't touch and toys I couldn't play with even if I found them remotely interesting (which I did not). However, I have long-since grown out of that aversion to antiques and would love nothing more than to have my home covered in them. This weekend was, however, the first time I have gone antiquing on my own free will.

Devin and I were in the quaint little town of Prescott, AZ for my friend Susanne's wedding and decided to make an over-night weekend out of the trip. We spent hours on Sunday hunting through the many antique stores lining the streets of downtown Prescott.

Our goal was to find something we could bring back as a "souvenir" while only spending $5.00. But, alas, we failed.

Sincerely, we tried to find something we could proudly purchase for only $5.00, but discovered the selection was sadly lacking. We did find plenty of items we loved - antique shutters for $25.00 each that would have looked beautiful hanging in our living room and a blanket chest/bench exactly like what I've been search for marked at $275.00. Naturally, not having $300+ dollars to toss away on a few decorative items, we passed up these purchases. That is one thing I really miss about living back East. Supply-and-Demand works in favor of the antiquer there. Way out west, it is very difficult to find a good deal on antiques - there just aren't that many of them to be found outside of the over-priced antique stores.

Regardless, we had fun, as you can see:

(This next one is for you Marla - if it hadn't cost $15, I would have bought it for you. It was almost too funny to pass up. The pink one next to it ain't bad either.)
(Cow-hide toilet seat)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Goal #44 - Dates with Devin (3 of 20)

Pack up your laptop and favorite romantic DVD. Get out to a quiet spot, then cuddle up and watch the movie. - Dates on a Dime

Last Thursday, we loaded the Subaru with camping chairs, sandwiches, all the random snacks we could find in the pantry, grabbed a movie and my laptop and headed to a near-by park. We greatly enjoyed ourselves and also learned some valuable lessons:

1) Comfy camping chairs are a must - we had the ones with cup holders and could lean back to enjoy the movie.

2) Next time, wait to watch a movie until after sunset. The setting sun is quite low and bright (apparently) and a bit of a hindrance to clearly viewing a movie. (There is the reason why drive-ins are only open after dark.)

3) Public parks are an awkward place to watch an R-rated movie. Perhaps the thriller The Constant Gardener wasn't the best choice. Should have gone with the book-recommended "romantic movie." (Note: There is a theme of deeply devoted love that drives the plot of this movie, so I submit that it still counts as a romantic movie.)

This date cost a grand total of $0.00 - the movie was borrowed from a friend and the snacks/food were all things we already had in the fridge. It was the perfect time of year to enjoy the outdoors (before we Arizonians go into Summer Hibernation). I highly recommend this date!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Something that was not on The List, and for good reason

Last week I check off a "first" that was definitely not on my List.  I ate Sushi. And I am not a fan.

What I had was similar to this photo - smoked salmon with cream cheese and avocados. I know, I know, it's not "real" sushi because it was cooked. Yeah well - I soooo don't care. I am a sushi-virgin who hates sea food, so this is all you're going to get from me! But at least now I can say that I have tasted sushi.

I got "suckered" into trying it by my dear friend Sarah, who I have known since birth and who was in Phoenix for the week. We usually only see each other every few years, so hanging out with her on Tuesday night was a real treat. One that made up for the residual taste of the sushi.

Love you Sarah!  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What If Jesus Really Meant It?

"I was just another believer. I believed all the right stuff- that Jesus is the Son of God, died and rose again. I had become a 'believer,' but I had no idea what it means to be a follower. People had taught me what Christians believe, but no one had told me how Christians live." - Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution 

I've had so many thoughts running through my head lately about what it really looks like to live as a follower of Christ, specifically here in America. Fortunately for you, the spouting diatribes that I originally wrote on the subject will not be posted. Trust me, you would thank me if you knew the ramblings I nearly subjected you to. However, these un-posted posts did help me to collect my thoughts on the matter.

The main thought that kept haunting me was this: What if Jesus really meant what He said?

Coming face-to-face with that thought has really challenged me to rethink the way I live my life as a Christian. Why do I spend money on things I don't need when Jesus taught not to store up treasures on earth? Why, when Jesus said to love God with all my heart, mind, and soul, do I live my life for myself? Why don't I give more of my time and money to others when Christ said to care for the widows, orphans and poor? I could go on and on, but you get the gist.

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he should do and doesn't do it, sins." - James 4:17

I have been told in scripture what good I should do as a Christian. I am without excuse. So why have I continued to live such an ordinary life? One problem I think, is that the Christian community doesn't have a lot of real-life, good examples to follow and we use this an as excuse for inactivity.

Here's what I mean: It seems that as American Christians, we tend to be presented with one of two main options - Sell everything and move to Africa or Go ahead living your life, be a good person and do something for God every now and again.

Now, I don't think everyone can pack up and move to a third-world country. Though, I also think that if we really listened to God, more of us would realize we are indeed called to move to a third-world country.

My point (I do have one, I promise) is this: There has got to be something in-between. I don't mean "lukewarm-spat-you-out-of-my-mouth" in-between. More like, if you truly and honestly don't feel called to move to Africa, but you don't want to be a mediocre Christian - then what? What does that look like, especially in the American culture?

I am struggling with this in my own life. I am searching for ways to truly live my life for Christ, rather than living my life for myself with Christ as a garnish. The deeper I search myself and my life, the more uncomfortable I become with my own comfort.

I had an imaginary conversation with God the other day. I pictured myself at the pearly gates and God was asking me why I didn't feed the poor and take care of the widows and the orphans, why didn't I love my enemy, why I didn't tell people about His son Jesus, why I didn’t give up everything for Him. All could do was hang my head and mumble, "I didn't think you were serious..."

Q4U- What if Jesus really meant what He said?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Goal #18 - Taking in Some Local Theatre

Goal #18 - Attend five plays, musicals, or symphonies.

I was able to see two local plays this weekend - one by Valley Christian High School, and the other by Waypoint Theatre Company - the community theater in Tucson that I used to work with.

First of all-  ::SIGH:: I love theater and I miss being a part of it more than I can say. Indulge me briefly by allowing a moment of bitter-sweet nostalgia, won't you?

 (Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw. I played Raina and spoke in a sugary, high-pitched voice that would rival any Disney Princess and wore a head-full of ringlets which had a personality all their own.)

 (King Lear by William Shakespeare. I played the evil Gonoril - a murdering adulteress who kills both her sisters and drives her father to insanity in order to steal his throne. Incredible play and the most challenging, deliciously wicked part I've ever played.)

But alas, I will return to the reality that I am only an observer of theater for the time being...

When I saw my old Waypoint Theatre director, Melanie this weekend, I literally burst into tears - I miss my theater family and being on stage that much. It is safe to say that in the past five years, whenever I return home to see a Waypoint production, Melanie and I will inevitably end up in a tearful embrace. Waypoint, and theater in general, was such a huge part of my life for so long (I acted in my first major production when I was eleven) that being reminded of what I'm missing is always emotional for me.

But oh my, did the old gang do fantastically! It was such a joy to see them again and watch them perform some first-rate theater, far above the typical "community theater" fare. Trip to Bountiful was the production and the lead actress was an energetic 88-year-old woman who played the part of Carrie Watts with oodles of charm and heart-felt emotion. She brought me to tears on a number of occasions. Breanne Muncrief (my brother David's girlfriend) was stickin' adorable as Thelma (and that's not just bias speaking). The whole cast was wonderful and made for a very strong ensemble performance.

Devin was able to accompany me to the hilarious perform by Valley Christian High School of Murder at Crooked House - an audience participation murder mystery. I was quite impressed with the level of performances given by some of the students. The caricature-like body postures of Cassie Hawk and Christian Murphy were an absolute hoot. The physical comedy of Taylor Kortman reminded me of Jim Carry in Liar, Liar. Kelton White played Chief Inspector Noucleau and gave a spot-on impression of Insp. Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin's character in Pink Panter) that had us keeled over with laughter continuiously. However, he seemed to smirk slightly every time he delivered a line he knew was funny, which was a bit tiresome.

The show-stopper of the evening however was Ms. Hillary Johnson, a novice performer who completely stole the show with her near-perfect Scottish dialect and hysterical characterization. I had to catch my breath from laughing so hard at her antics. Bravo Hillary, I never would have believed this was your first time on stage - you are a natural!

It was so good to take in some theater again. Now I just have to figure out how to accomplish Goal #20- Act in a play in the next 954 days!

Q4U- What is "long lost love of..." that you'd like to get involved in again?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Goal #31 - Packing Lunches

Goal #31: Pack a lunch for work every day for three weeks: Completed!

While there were a couple of days there that I thought I wouldn't be able to choke down yet another PB&J sandwich, I was able to complete this goal without any real hassle. In fact, there were some other benefits, besides saving money, that I experienced:

1).  I was motivated to also make my breakfast and morning coffee at home rather that grabbing something quick at the  oh-so-conveniently-located gas station right across the street from my office (a gas station that has the best cappuccinos for under a dollar). Cutting out the purchased coffee was also a helpful habit for achieving six-months-of-radical-frugality.

2).  "Choking down yet another PB&J sandwich"- after about day-four-in-a-row- was good motivation for me to cook more at home, thus providing myself with leftovers to take to work the next day. (Not to mention appeasing my hubby's belly and stocking up the freezer with pre-made meals.)

3).  I learned quickly to pack more than one lunch at time - therefore guaranteeing my success for the days following. Example: If I grabbed leftovers, I would fill the Tupperware with a two-day supply. Packing a sandwich? The bread's already out- why not make two and take both to work? (Have a fridge at my office helps this shortcut work a lot better than if I only had a lunch box.)

4).  Packing a lunch the night before made for one less thing to do on my groggy mornings.

Here is the biggest thing I learned - packing a lunch is really not that hard. So what is my excuse for not doing this every workday, even after Goal #31 is completed? Well, I'm lazy for one. But the last three weeks confirmed that while I may be lazy, even I can manage to pack a lunch everyday. To not do so is not only lazy, but a poor use of the monetary resources God has given me. So now I'm continuing this goal of lunch-packing and will see how long I can last before my cravings for Arby's takes over...