Are you looking for an awesome activity to “Spring” into with the warmer weather? Today I spent a delightful Saturday morning at the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival in Lehi, UT. The weather was perfect, the gardens were stunning, and the company was unbeatable. It was rejuvenating to relax, spend some time outside, and just enjoy the beauty around us. Below you can check out some pictures of the adventure, and then if you’re wise you will go have one of your own.
Last weekend, I went with some friends to a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Orem, UT called “Mama Chu’s”. The atmosphere is a little ghetto, but the food is great. I recommend the carne asada. The service is pretty good, and it’s awesome if you’re tired of eating at chain restaurants like Chili’s or Olive Garden etc. If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely check it out; preferably right before you head up into Provo Canyon, which is what we were doing. (Just a couple shout outs about the scene here in Utah County. I love living here!)
Anyway, everyone was laughing and joking around when one of my friends said something that really resonated with me. She said, “Mexican food is all the same, it’s just packaged differently.” This of course is true, which is why we all laughed. But it struck me as a wonderful metaphor for the human race.
Everywhere I go lately, I feel bombarded with messages about how labels divide people. Fill out any application and they ask you your gender, age, and ethnicity. Stereotypes abound. Are you a hipster, a jock, or possibly a thespian? Are you introverted or extroverted? Are you fat, short, skinny, tall . . . purple maybe? Do you suffer from any mental illnesses or syndromes like Depression, ADHD, or Asperger’s? Are you a Coke or a Pepsi drinker? The absurd social checklist is growing extravagantly long, and I am done with it.
Who cares what you look like, what your interests are, or what difficulties you might be struggling with? You are a human being, and you deserve to be accepted and respected. Everyone has the same basic needs and desires. We all want to be loved, and we all have a lot of love to give. We all appreciate beautiful things about life, and we all contribute beautiful things to life. We all have lessons that we need to learn, and we all teach lessons to those around us. We need each other to live successfully as members of society, members of families, and as members of the human race. We should embrace our differences, but we should let them unite us. They should never divide us.
I’m not saying that people always have to be best friends. It’s okay for people with fundamentally different views to remain separate. Sometimes we can’t agree. But we need to agree to be kind and compassionate with each other. I love this quote from Rick Warren that was echoed by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson:
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
So, the next time you meet someone new, or you are tempted to judge someone for a superficial reason; remember this: We are all basically made of the same stuff. We’re just packaged differently. And we’re all delicious! Let’s be the best tacos, or burritos, or tamales etc. that we can be.
Sometimes I catch myself watching “What Might Have Been Movies” in my brain. Glimpses of an alternate reality that I can see so clearly it’s “almost” real. Like a black and white movie that came out a week before it could have been released in color. I’m stuck watching Dorothy before she went to Oz. Just a slight layer of richness is missing, but what a difference it makes.
It’s like unfolding a crumpled piece of paper to discover song lyrics that didn’t measure up. When I read the words I want to cry, and I think about the difference such a song could make if only the artist finished it. But the artist has moved on. The creator of that song no longer exists, and scribbled words on a wrinkled page are destined to live forever in the land of “almost was” or “could have been”. I think there is actually a chain of islands with names like that located in the realm of possibility. It’s a favorite vacation spot within the world of imagination.
I find myself visualizing these “might have been’s” so vividly, and I wonder about the choices I’ve made and the version of myself that I’ve created. Life throws us so many curves. Nothing ever turns out the way you expect it to. I think about the person I am right now at this moment, and how tomorrow night this me will not exist. Because each day from moment to moment we change, evolve, and recreate ourselves. This is a blessing Continue reading
Wanda handed Drake a steaming bowl of stew from the pot on the fire. He was still a little dazed from his fall, but the stew tasted heavenly and the couch he sat on was a cloud of comfort. The whole apartment was extremely cozy. He looked up at the old woman and smiled in spite of himself.
Wanda smiled back and walked to the center of the room. She gave a bard-like curtsy with one hand flourishing out to the side. Then she cleared her voice, and announced with a professional air, “The Tale of a Bold Young Knight.” and she launched into a story.
“Once, a bold young knight determined it was time to earn his glory by slaying a dragon living outside the kingdom. So he polished his armor, sharpened his sword, and loaded his horse with supplies for his adventure. As he left the castle gates, pretty young maidens threw colorful handkerchiefs at him as tokens for his bravery. He caught the last green one as it fell and tied it to his sword like a banner. Then he rode off into the twilight to meet his fate.
“Hurrah!” thought Drake. “This is my favorite kind of story . . .”
The first evening the knight didn’t travel far and made camp in the middle of the nearby forest. He sighed contentedly by a warm fire and drained his cup of the last few drops of hot chocolate.
“Surely, this is the life for me,” he said to himself. “I am young, strong, and the master of my destiny. I shall easily defeat the dragon with an hour or two and be back inside the castle walls before the week is out. Then I will have the respect and glory that I deserve.”
Suddenly, a high-pitched squeaking noise came out of nowhere. The knight jumped to his feet and fell backwards into the bushes. Needles showered all around. A small spiny ball with beady eyes was shaking with laughter next to the fire. A hedgehog had curled up there without his notice. It stretched and stood, peering at him and blinking.
The Knight was affronted, and attempted to draw his sword to kill the creature. But as he was still stuck in the bushes, he tripped over a root and fell again. His armor clinked and crashed, and made quite a ruckus all around.
“Forgive me,” said the hedgehog. As the knight extricated himself from the bushes. “I meant no offense. I am a simple creature, and when I saw your cheerful fire the only desire of my heart was to curl up beside it. I did not mean to startle you.”
“Ha!,” sneered the young knight. “As if such a thing were possible. Of course I knew you were there the whole time. It’s just that I felt a sudden itch in a discreet place. You know the only chivalrous way for a knight to scratch is to create a mighty crash.”
The Hedgehog blinked again, and said nothing.
“. . . Anyway,” said the knight. “I don’t mind too much if you share my fire. It is a cold knight, and I am amiable towards rodents of your kind. It’s the dragon that I’m after.”
“Indeed,” said the Hedgehog in his high pitched voice. “I am grateful. But why go after the dragon at all? What has he done to you?”
“He’s a dragon,” said the knight. “His mere existence is a threat to the kingdom. The Flames! The fire hazard alone is terrifying. But I am a poor young knight and I must prove my worthiness to the King. Therefore I journey to slay the dragon.” The Knight brandished his sword and made big swoops with it in the air, teetering slightly.
“Of course, of course,” said the Hedgehog. “How silly of me to forget. But how will you slay the dragon without being burned to a crisp?”
“Mouse, you do not know of whom you speak,” said the knight. “I am Sir Nigel Wooten, Sixth Son of the Earl of Chesterfield, and soon to be Order of the Dragon. I have my methods, and I see no reason to explain them to you. I’m tired and ready to bed down for the night.”
“I beg your pardon, Sir,” said the Hedgehog. “Thank you again for sharing your fire. Goodnight, sir” The hedgehog sounded sincere, but his spines twitched as he spoke. The knight grunted, and laid out his bedroll.
Sir Nigel blinked as the early morning sun found his eyes. He raised himself up and squinted past the dying embers of the fire. The hedgehog was nowhere to be seen.
“Oh, Flapdoodle.” He said.
For some reason, some friends and I have been on this kick lately of getting scared. There have been some minor pranks with rubber snakes at my house, and last Saturday we watched a great old movie called, “Wait Until Dark” with Audrey Hepburn. It was fantastic; nostalgic and suspenseful at the same time. So there has been this theme the last couple weeks with the thrill of fear.
Anyway, my friend introduced us to a wonderful literary device called, “The Two Sentence Horror Story.” If you google the term, you will see that there are a lot of them out there. Some are really frightening. So we decided to have our own little competition today, and I think I came up with some pretty good ones. Check them out below if you dare . . . . Bwah hah hah ha ha ha.
My mouth watered as I bit into the ultimate American cheeseburger. Then I tasted blood.
The night crept its way into pure blackness. I reached my hands in front of me, and I felt hot breath and a long protruding nose.
I sighed with relief when I woke up from the nightmare of being paralyzed. I realized I needed to use the bathroom, and then I realized I couldn’t feel my legs.
My heart almost stopped beating as I bent down to kiss your cold cheek for the last time. Then it almost leapt from my chest as I felt your icy fingers around my neck.
Perhaps the scariest one of all was submitted by my sister:
I’m out of chocolate. The stores are all closed.
That’s what I call frightening people!!
If you feel motivated, you should try some two sentence horror stories of your own. They’re not only thrilling . . . They’re a lot of fun. :)
I remember driving in gravel; hot and dusty on a summer’s day. We called it the “Rocky Road”, bumping along to the rhythm of the car as we drove into my father’s past. Visiting your grandparents is always exciting when you are a child, but when they live on a farm it’s a double blessing.
There is something about life on the farm that never changes; a constant sanctuary in an unstable world. There are smells of “real food” in the kitchen, rich clean dirt, and grease from the farm machinery. There is the sight of millions of stars on a night unclouded by city lights. Warm breezes in summer and biting winds in winter both ruffle your hair in their respective seasons. Birds can be heard singing, bees buzzing, and the cycle of life marches on.
There is a solemn quiet that comes from the respect of life and growing things, but also a joy in the air that makes you feel you could laugh at any moment. At twenty-eight everything feels the same as it did when I was five years old. The farm probably held that sameness when my father was a child thirty years further back in time.
It’s comforting to know that there are still places like this left in the world; when there are wars and selfish people, and morality seems to be lost to people seeking power, pleasure, or just giving in to complacency. It’s nice to know a place where the simple yet profound relationship between ourselves and God is easily found. Where we rely on him to send us the necessities of life. Where we reap what we sow. Where children find pleasure in a bumpy ride down a gravel road on the way to visit their grandparents, and they don’t have another care in the world.
There is nothing so comforting as the quiet glow of the lamplight,
On a night stand while the world outside is asleep,
It is a warm presence; not too bright and not too dim,
But the exact disposition of light to calm hurried thoughts at the end of the day;
A beacon guiding souls to distant lands hidden between the lines of a bedtime story,
During the day’s earliest and latest hours it is a reminder that you are never truly alone.