The ties that band.

    We’re a funny bunch, The Gate Called Beautiful.  If people could see our history, they’d see a story book filled with great musical moments, stupid-silly stories, wonderful old friendships, and a thick glue binding that won’t budge.  We’re loyal friends first and crazy musicians second.  The oldest friendship award goes to Nick and me with a friendship that hollers back into the days of High School, we led worship together at the wee ages of fifteen, yes, fifteen.  Nick had his hand in toilet papering my parent’s home, planting a full size tree in my dad’s pick up truck bed, and helped create the ever too popular bumper sticker “I’ve been hit by a Maneevone, have you?”  Todd was one of the first people I met at Point Loma Nazarene University.  Brown Chapel held auditions for a new piano player in the school’s traveling band, and Todd sat stoic, center stage, with very few words or expressions, I was certain he wasn’t voting for the girl piano player.  To my surprise I got the part, and that stoic bass player turned out to be a sweetie.  He spent an entire summer educating me in the ways of U2, The Simpsons, Bruce Hornsby, and John Cougar Mellencamp while we roadtripped across the SouthWest in a pimped out RV.  I met Mark soon after Todd, and within 15 minutes of meeting Mark, I was in a cramped bathroom cutting his hair.  I got to sing with his band at Hume Lake that following winter, we’re talking snow mobiles, snowball fights and countless hot chocolates for weeks on end, not a bad gig.  A year after college, I met Joe at the Del Mar Fair.  An ex-boyfriend introduced us, which I’ve grown to love about this story.  It only took me two or so hours before I playfully introduced my new friend Joe as my fiancee to complete strangers.  (Prophetic, right?!)  It wasn’t until my attempt to set Joe up on a blind date, that the tables turned, and he and I became more than just band mates.  And just shy of three years from that day at the Fair, Joe got on his knee and asked me one very big question, and we were married soon after.  Okay, back to the glue that binds.  This band has become an important part in my life story.  Scribbles of its existence came in October of 2001, but its form as we know it took shape in the beginning of 2003.  The Church at Rancho Bernardo knew us as skinny single kids, who did what ever it took to spark life in the too-cool-for-school youth groups, indeed.  The worship expanded into an evening ministry at CRB, and the five of us found ourselves spending a whole lot of time together.  Sundays meant breakfast, lunch and dinner with Todd, Joe, Mark and Matt.  Looooong days.  Afternoons were spent crashed out at my childhood home, we all had our couch/bed, where we’d find some zzzz’s.  I remember the fires of 2003, all of us climbing the ladder to the CRB rooftop, seeing the glows of the impending fires, and our Sunday turned into a sleepover with the closing of I-15.  One by one we all got married that next year, and Todd got a girlfriend, all big moves for us.  We eventually found our way back to Flood Church.  Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, a lot of Sundays, and finally in 2008 after a few grown-up decisions, Nick joined the mix, filling a redemptive piece in more ways than one.In the most recent years, we’ve all started down parenthood together.  Backstage at Flood, in almost total darkness I could still see Todd’s watery eyes as he told me “We’re having a baby.”  Over a Sunday lunch at Miguel’s, Mark and Sarah announced their pregnancy, and I squealed far too loud than what is permissible in public.  And here we are, friends through the most formative years, still doing music together, in our (dare I say) mid thirties.  This last month, in one of the back classrooms at Flood, I said, “You know, I’m pretty certain I’m never going to have this again.”  Being the girl already makes me the emotional one, but they tolerate my gushy sentiment.  “Playing with the same group of guys, for ten years of my life, I’m never going to get this again.  Friends only made it ten seasons, and look at us we’re still going.”  My eyes water up and I laugh at my sitcom analogy, then tears fall.  I know they share the feelings too.  We’ve had something really special in this little band.  It’s been a huge gift.  I thank God for his hand in all this, his favor, his bringing this all together, he’s all I can give credit to.  I’ve always felt this pull, this gravitation, that God has been leading us all these years, because it’s been way too easy, and way too much fun.  This last month we did something we’ve surprisingly never done before, a worship concert: thirteen songs x four services, x two practices, over three days.  Now that it’s over, I can safely say we may never do it again.  It is crazy hard.  But it’s one more thing we’ve done together, another story added to our big thick book of us.  There’s just something about this clan, maybe it’s the playing together for over a decade, where so many moments both musical and literal have been shared that we’ve become a family.  In my adult life, I have spent more time with these four guys than with any other friends, or maybe even family.  And here’s the good news, the family is growing, Nick Maybury and Kaira Verhoff are getting hitched next month!  With the whole gang there, and some, Joe and I couldn’t be more excited to watch them be joined in holy matrimony in our backyard!  That’s right, Purdum Lane is hosting a backyard wedding, and another story gets added to the book with the super sticky glue.

Maertz Family memories:  *Enjoy time in a mini family reunion: Grandma, Auntie Mary Ellen, Jessica, Micah, Katrina and sweet baby Letta!  Highlights: We host a “Go India!” dinner, and I love listening to Grandma and her daughters sing the Indian National Anthem while waving a miniature Indian flag.  Hands down, I most enjoy listening to Auntie Mary Ellen and my mom sing old hymns around our piano.  They sing and sing, it’s so beautiful.  My family sits together in one long row at Flood Church, and I get to lead my family in worship, too tender.  We all caravan to Del Mar beach for a picnic lunch!  *Nothing like being introduced as Anjuli’s sister and getting a response “That’s right you’re the older one, I mean, bigger one.”  Nice.  *Meeting Malina and Mary over an amazing Rick & Ann’s breakfast!  *Northern California get away with Anjuli.  Yes, we really can finish conversations and have fun without the help of toddlers!  Great trip, great wedding, and run into Sandeep Poonan and his sweet family, what a treat!  *Summer night with the Gunns!  *Bill and Jim fly down to spend the weekend with Joe and the girls!  They enjoy a splash in the warm Del Mar ocean!  *Nick and Kaira bring dinner, and come over for a late night!  *Joe and I plant an insane amount of greenery around the house.  *Loucks girls babysit and Mimi and go pick up plants!  *Tim and Joe head out for basketball (Joe sprains his ankle, boo!) while Karen and I wo-manhandle the kids and breakfast.  Bacon splatter burns and 95 degree heat create the perfect backdrop for some good old water hose fun!  Later, we meet up at Del Mar grass area and chase 3 crazy kids in and out of the sand and waves!  Connect with our inner kid, and dig up a fantastic princess lagoon, and Karen and I go splashing in the warm ocean waves!          The picture that changed the definition of a perfect family portrait.  And Naomi you’re the one to thank.  Who knew what was going on in that little mind of yours, but after daddy quickly settled into the picture, you popped right up, and in one quick jolt you escaped! Prouder than a peacock, you turned back to see reactions to your shenanigans, shoulders high, eye brows higher, JOY plastered your face!  But that wasn’t enough, you were on a mission.  That’s when you charged for the wobbly music stand holding the two cameras.  And in that quick moment where laughter and angst all came together in a quick gasp, FLASH!  This picture captured close to 300 comments and likes on Facebook.  My darling Naomi, you’re only two, I fear this is only the beginning from you.  May your joyful person continue to capture all of us by surprise.  Next time we take a family picture, “Ama” will be holding you in her lap, and you can bet she will be holding you nice and tight!

Aria Ellen (14 months):  You are spunky wild, busy, independent, silly and so much fun!  If I let you, you’d eat mud and dirt all day.  You love being dirty!  It’s inevitable that at the end of any meal you will squish your food through your fingers and then put your freshly decorated hands into your hair!  Without fail, you’re a giant mess!  At the beach, you can’t get enough dirt on you.  In your mouth, plastered all over your body, in your hair, decorated on your face, you simply roll your body around like a steam roller!      *I have to be super careful with you, you’re into everything.  I have many times found you on top of the den’s bench, pointing at “dada!” in the framed pictures above.  On your tippy toes on top of the toy bench, reaching for the blinds.  Twice now, you have pulled your nursery lamp into your crib!  I heard the front door close, and ran to see that you had let yourself out of the house!  On my toes, darling, you keep me on my toes!  *You have a big beautiful personality!  You have shown yourself to be quite emphatic about things.  Like how you desperately sign banana, or you’re going bizerk for your sippy cup, or when you’re quite certain that all done eating, or how you emphatically shake your head YES or NO to our questions!  When you’ve made up your mind, it’s a done deal.  *Your first word outside of Mama and Dada is “gang ku”  (thank you!), next is “hahhh” for hot.  *It doesn’t matter the form, you hate cheese.  String cheese, grilled cheese, sliced cheese, grated cheese, cheese tortellini, cheese quesadilla, you won’t touch the stuff!  The only cheese you eat is Mac n’ Cheese, which is really not cheese at all, only shows you are definitely daddy’s girl!  *You understand “uh-oh” and say it anytime something falls off the table and on to the ground.  Your sounds are super cute.  The dropping of food, not so cute.   *When we say “Where’s ‘so and so’?”  You throw your arms up into the universal “I don’t know” position, but it’s even cuter cause you do it backwards, with your pinky fingers pointing at your ears!   *A fly invaded our home, you spotted it against the window.  I watched as you guided the fly into the corner of the window, and with two fingers you caught it in your pinch.  Amazed and grossed out, you handed me the alive pinched fly between your fingers with great delight.  *You love sticking your fingers into mommy’s belly button.  *You love giving zerburts!  Lifting shirts and planting a wet sloppy explosion!  It’s super cute until you start lifting shirts in public.  *You don’t just walk, you strut.          Naomi Mariam (2.5 years old):  You love singing!  After church you insisted on sitting with mommy at the piano, and you wanted everyone to sing Hosanna with you!  You played sweetly on the piano with me, and sang out into the big empty auditorium, every once in a while yelling (to no one) “Common every body sing with me!”  *I don’t know what it is, but this month you’ve taken one huge leap forward into being a big girl!  You have been able to say Aria perfectly for a while now.  You ask questions like “What’s going to happen next Mommy?”  You actually ask a lot of questions right now, “Mommy what’s that?” is a favorite of yours.  *You came to watch mommy and daddy sing in big church.  You wanted to dance and sing, and wanted everyone to join you!  It wasn’t until the very end of the worship concert mommy looked down at you, and it didn’t matter that rock worship music blasted at you in the second row, you were in Ama’s arms, sound asleep.  I’d like to think mommy sang you to sleep.  *You’re really into dresses now.  Most everyday is a dress, or a twirly skirt, and although you’re open to mommy dressing you, you have an opinion too!  One morning, you showed up by our bed at 6:30am, holding out a dress to daddy.  Another night, Daddy went in to check on you long after bed time, and he found you laying in bed holding a dress in both hands (hanger still attached) “Daddy can I wear this dress?”  *Without wanting you to understand us, Daddy asked Mommy, “Want a cooohke?”  (code for Do you want a cookie?), Naomi you popped right up and ran to the kitchen yelling “I WANT A COOKIE!!”  *You’re obsessed with Mickey Mouse diapers.  *You got upset, ran to a corner, put your head into a couch pillow and yelled, “Naomi needs some space!”  *You unzipped mommy’s makeup bag, and took out my blush and eyeshadow brushes.  You gave one brush to your toy horse and the other to the toy goat, and you made the animals sweep up their toy barn because it was “too dirty,” sweeping & singing the clean up song.  That a girl!  *”Mommy, I’m in trouble!”  I came to your side and found you had your fingers into mommy’s candle and dirty wick.  You announce your guilt before I even catch you!