Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tucson Tuesday

Since it has *almost* been one year since arriving in Tucson (June 3!), I thought I would share some of the differences between Tucson and Iowa.

Tucson Taco:
Taco Taco Yum.

Iowa Taco:
Taco Taco Yum.

Don't get me wrong, the Ortega-seasoned ground beef with cheese, lettuce, and a few tomatoes nestled inside a crispy Ortega shell are delicious. They are also very Iowa/midwestern.

At the end of April, Dan and a few of my co-workers went to the Tucson Taco Fest. ALL of the tacos were served in small little soft corn or flour shells. None had ground beef. None had shreded cheddar cheese. None had lettuce. ALL were delicious.

Tucson Summers:

Iowa Summers:

Yes, it's a dry heat. So is an oven. It still sucks the life out of you to walk around in it.
Sure, it's not in the triple digits for an entire month. There is still 70% humidity which leaves your clothes sticking to you. The dry heat slowly sucks the water out of you; the humidity suffocates you.

Tucson Weather for the next 7 days:

Included should be the last two days with high temps of 105 and 104, respectively.
They call this "Blow Dryer Weather."

Iowa Weather for the next 7 days:
8 Day Forecast

I really shouldn't have posted the comparisons. Now, I want to go home just for the summer weather.
I feel like in Tucson we jumped from 70s/80s to the upper 90s/100s.

What Tucsonans do for the summer:
Polar Bear Sleeping...

What Iowans do for the summer:
Sand Volleyball <3 Luv Farmers MarketsBaseball

That's right. It is SO hot in the summer, that we basically hibernate - like you do in the winter.

How Tucsonans use an umbrella:
My daughter bought a transparent umbrella as it was raining and then the sun came out. This was the resulting shadow. Sport Brella 8FT Portable Sun & Shade Umbrella

How Iowans use an umbrella:
Rain: Great Umbrella

If you haven't deduced from the pictures, here in Arizona we use umbrellas to block out the sun. I know this seems like sacrilege to most Iowans. I mean, really! Block out the sun?! For shame!
However, after spending [nearly] a year in Arizona, I can say that Tucsonans feel the same way about blocking out the rain. The few times that it does rain, it rains in the summer - and it feels so good! Warm rain! It's such a long-lost friend that our sun-parched selves just drink it in, literally.

There you have it, folks. A few of the differences between Iowa and Tucson. Now, you can see how it really was culture-shock moving so far away. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ode to My Mother

This past week I realized not only how much I miss my mother, but what I miss about her - and the profound gift that she is to me. Toward the end of last week (9 days ago), I had that, "Hmm, I miss my mom." On Tuesday of this week, I was able to articulate why. It all started with this picture:

No, I did not draw this at age 5. I drew this at age 32.

On Tuesday, my co-workers approached me to do this little activity. Apparently, this is a technique that child therapists use. Using your left hand, you are instructed to draw a picture of yourself as a baby. I drew a picture of me (the baby), with my mom safely holding me - and we are both happy.

Next, you write your name above your picture. Then you ask/answer, "How are you feeling?" (My answer, "Sad.") Then, you choose any number and write it below.  After that, you ask and answer a series of questions. You write the question with your right hand, and answer it with your left.

The theory behind all of this is that the number chosen indicates that at that age (5), you felt that way (sad). When I asked myself the follow-up questions, the answers indicated that my sadness stemmed from uncertainty/worry.  My co-worker said, "Oh, Jessica! Were you sad a lot as a child? Or...were you worried?"

Sad? I don't think I was sad a lot as a child - but worried. Yes. I worry. I don't handle change very well. Well, really, I don't handle uncertainty very well. Lately, there have been several things in our lives that have me feeling very uncertain.

What this picture revealed to me is that when I feel uncertain, the first - and only - place that I really want to be is in my mother's arms. In her presence...in her home. There have been a few times in my adult life that I have felt overwhelmed, pressed in on every side, and all I want in that moment is to be home. I want to be with my mom.

Currently, one thousand miles separate me from my mother's presence. 1,000 miles keep me from spending a weekend on the farm - away from all the hustle, bustle, heat and noise of the world. Whether I am 5, 15, 25 - or 32, my mother's presence reassures me that I am okay; that I matter; that there is more to life than my present trouble.

I wrote this poem on Wednesday:

You are my resting place.
In your space, I encounter peace.

I hush,
I pause,
I breathe.

In your embrace, I can release.

When the world clamors,
pushes too hard,
calls too loudly,
presses in on every side,
and causes the light to be darkened within -

it is your calming voice I want to hear,
your touch of reassurance to be near;
reminding me of
what matters,
what lasts,
what endures,
what is good:

You give me a place to stand;
 the courage to fly.
You give me
a place,
a peace,
a purpose.

As I wrote this, I realized that in this way, my mom was being Christ to me. What a gift!
My mother's presence to me - is how the psalmist speaks of God's presence. A harbor in the storm; a rock; a lighthouse; peace...she has not supplanted God's presence in my life - she has channeled it. How beautiful! How blessed! How treasured.

I am beyond thankful for this gift that my mother has given me. In light of the gift she is to me, I realize, also, that God has given me a gift in recognizing this. While my mother has been the embodiment of this peace, I believe that God is now asking me to find this peace within Him, my heavenly harbor - and with my husband, my earthly harbor. Embarking on a new chapter, cultivating this relationship with my Lord and with my husband will make my mother proud. While she has provided me a safe place to land all of these years, she has also encouraged me to use my wings. To fly high - to explore broadly - love deeply and live abundantly. She does not constrain; she pushes me to embrace my calling. For her, I will be forever grateful.

I love you, Mom!