Thursday, November 17, 2016

Let Me Live

So this morning on my way to work, a song popped up that I hadn’t heard in awhile. And it rang especially true given recent events. I found myself in tears, and hitting replay over and over. It inspired me to write, so here we are. Whether someone else sees it or it’s just me; it’s just one of those things that needs to be said.

We live in an America where we say we value freedom; the freedom to religion, the freedom of speech, to assemble, and to petition. We value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Where all persons are created equal.

But we lose all of that when we try to dictate how others live their own lives. When we berate others for their differences. When we marginalize and try to limit the freedoms of another person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, place of origin.

This is America. Land of the free, home of the brave.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” - Lady Liberty

I had a conversation with a family member not too long ago about the right to religious freedom. He said, if everyone had the same God, we could all worship together. And, while I understand that for him, this idea was coming from a place of love, I wholeheartedly disagree. Let me tell you why.

In college, I majored in Humanities. I know, an odd thing to major in. But I fell in love with learning about different cultures, and especially religions. In my journey, I have had the absolute honor praising alongside Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus...all ideologies that I had previously thought would differ greatly from my own beliefs only to find...they didn’t. I was able to learn from each experience and apply what I learned to shape my own religious belief. Because of these experiences, I no longer claim any one religion. One reason because I don’t agree that any religion should create an “us and them” culture. Which, in my opinion, they all unintentionally do.

During my experience immersing myself in other religions, I didn’t feel like I was praising a different God or Gods, but that we were all praising the same. And I realized, even in my home church, the person sitting next to me has a completely different outlook and belief from my own, yet I would call them my religious equal - so why is it different outside our own church/religion? No two people believe the same thing in the same way because we are all a product of our own experience.

God, by any other name, is still God.

Think about it. If God wanted everyone to be the same, he would’ve created us that way. No, He created us all different so we would learn from one another and above all, accept one another as one family. I don’t know anyone who has never been called different for one reason or another. So why do we choose certain things like race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender, to create a barrier to separate us?

I challenge you to love others with open hearts, and to keep an open mind because you never know what you’ll learn from someone else's experience. You don’t have to agree, of course not. Love is not to tolerate, but to accept one another. In a world that is giving in to so much hate, I challenge you to love. Always love.

Here’s the song that inspired my rant: “Let Me Live" by Sick Puppies

“I don’t belong, you tell me I’m so different from you...why is that so wrong?”

“Can you see inside? I’m dying in a living hell but I’ll never pretend to be someone else. I’m not alright, but I will fight until the end, ‘cause I won’t let it go til you let me live.”

“The blood’s not on my hands it’s on your tongue, the words that cut so deep.
So go pledge your allegiance to digging your own grave, ‘cause I won’t be the victim of everything you hate.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

New York City

After 3 years of postponing and rescheduling, we FINALLY did it! We spent a week in New York City over my birthday. It was a great vacation. We did and saw everything we set out to, and had an amazing time. This is what we did:

Day One:

Midtown wanderings - Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick's Cathedral, and Tiffany's

Day Two: My Birthday!!

Central Park Zoo, fancy dinner at Sardi's (a theater district hot spot), and Book of Mormon on Broadway

Day Three:

Empire State Building views and the American Museum of Natural History
Note: never EVER go to the Empire State Building for the view. Go to Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center), it's a better view and a MUCH shorter wait.

Day Four: 

Coney Island - Beach, boardwalk, rides and famous hot dogs.

Day Five: 

Jersey, Baby! Carlo's Bakery, Sunday football at McSwiggans Pub, and Medieval Times Tournament.

Day Six: 

Downtown: Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial, Freedom Tower, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Strand of course.

Day Seven: 

Central Park is easily my favorite place in NYC

And there ya have it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lets Catch Up

Hey everyone, sorry I've been the worst blogger in the last few months. It's been so busy at work, but now it's finally starting to slow down. I got assigned to take charge of writing the blog for my company's website! So I've been blogging just...not here. Ha! Sorry friends. I will try to be better.

Here's what you've missed:

Thanduxolo is fantastic, he made it through surgery and recovered with flying colors (despite the doubts of his doctors.) A few members of the mission team from my church were able to visit him while they were all there in May. He was doing better, but he was taken in about mid-August to reverse his colostomy. As of August 22nd he was still in the hospital on IV nutrition. This little guy is such a trooper. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers so that he may gain his strength and get back to his childhood.

Speaking of surgery, I had knee surgery! I had an MRI on my knee (which has been giving me grief since May of LAST year) and they found a plica. Yes... I know it sounds fake. Of course it's some rarity that only 20% of the population have going on and rarely does it flare up. I also had a crack in the cartilage under my kneecap which could've been the culprit for my year of pain too. So...I guess I'm lucky ;) Surgery went very well and my knee pain was immediately relieved. Physical therapy has helped me start to regain strength and normal range of motion. We're not all the way there yet, but I should be running/doing whatever I want again in 4-6 weeks.
These sweet girls took great care of me

Oh! And the puppies had their first birthday on July 14th. They've gotten so big (*sniffle.*) We celebrated with some homemade pup-cakes, some new toys/treats and a trip to Pineview Reservoir where they went swimming for the first time. Pepper swims like a big black hairy fish, and Bailey sat on the waters edge like a big weenie (actually, she did fine once Pepper stopped dunking her. Pff...sisters.)

Pups at 7 weeks old (left) and 1 year old (right)

Hope all is well with you! Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Every Day, Every Hour

Last February, I had the privilege of joining a group of about 25 people from my church on a mission trip to Swaziland, Africa where the church sponsors a Carepoint for local kids. Mkhombokati Carepoint is a place for kids to go before and after school to have a safe place to hang out and have a meal before they walk home for the day.

Mkhombokati Carepoint

The 2013 team from the church left for Swaziland first thing this morning. My heart is broken that I couldn't go this year, but moreso because of the news we received last night. Thanduxolo, a young boy of about 8 years old who starting going to the Carepoint last year while we were visiting, had a colostomy about a year and a half ago. His condition recently worsened and he has had to spend the last several days in the hospital. The doctors weren't initially confident in his ability to survive through surgery. He went into surgery early this morning, and the most recent update announced that he made it through and is now in the ICU. The surgeon says "the next 24 hours can be tough" as Thanduxolo lost a lot of blood during the surgery. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Thanduxolo for a full recovery.

Thanduxolo and his special friend Crystal from our 2012 team

Thanduxolo is such a sweet boy, and he is the best big brother. Thanduxolo's little brother's entire life's comfort is wrapped up in him. They wouldn't go anywhere or do anything without one another. Crystal and Thanduxolo hit it off right away and became very close. My thoughts are also with her through this difficult time. The 2013 team couldn't be arriving at a better time. I know they will provide so much love and comfort to these kids and be there for Thanduxolo.

I won't go into the details of last year's trip in this post, but hopefully in the weeks to come. The entire mission trip was an experience that can never be fully explained, but even now, a year later, I can still hear the voices of these amazing children. Our group sang to them every day, but one day they blew us all out of the water with a song that I will never forget as long as I live. We were all so taken aback and emotional, in awe of the raw power behind their voices. They sang "Every day, and every hour, you are faithful O' Lord."

It's so funny how sometimes we go into a mission trip thinking "we're going to make a difference to them" but they end up changing us. These kids are the perfect example of love in its purest form.

He is good, and He will provide. Every day. Every hour.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Girls Night and Gourmet Grub

Brian went out of town to Minnesota on business this last week and left me home alone to fend for myself for 5 whole days! I had the company of the pups but my nights mostly consisted of a book/movie and a Lean Cuisine.

So Wednesday, my girl Courtney came over to relieve me of my boredom and loneliness for a fancy schmancy homemade gourmet dinner. A celebration was in order: for her upcoming and much anticipated graduation day next week. So excited and proud of that girl! But because she has had her head stuck in books, we hadn't seen each other in over a month. Unacceptable.

So we popped a couple bottles of wine, and exploded with a months worth of gabbing while we made dinner. We made a mushroom marsala with chicken over a bed of creamy polenta. Yum! The picture doesn't do it justice, but it turned out beautifully.

After dinner, we must've had a burst of confidence, enough to attempt making a chocolate souffle from scratch (having never made or even tasted one before.) I was surprised they were so easy to make! I was worried about whipping the egg whites into soft, then stiff peaks. No electric mixer in my my kitchen, we whipped it old school. It took the strength of both of our right arms but we nailed it!

Stiff Peaks!! We were way more excited than was necessary. Haha
20 minutes later we popped these babies out of the oven. I pretended to know what I was doing based on what I recently saw on Masterchef. I broke into the center of the souffle with a spoon and it came out clean. Definitely a fan of souffles now, but I don't think I'll ever be able to justify paying for one in a restaurant. Both of them cost about $6 to make (including the cost of both ramekins.)

Bailey update:
We went back to the vet on Wednesday because she still had the crazy eyes. They looked a little better but the bulging didn't go down and they seemed to be bothering her more than before. Doc gave us some prescription eye drops, and her eyes are already showing improvement 2 days later. She's beginning to look normal again!

I have to admit I think I'll miss the crazy eyes a little bit. I had a good laugh each time she looked up at me with her big eyes that looked like she was looking right and left at the same time, the opposite of cross-eyed. I am a terrible terrible person.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hypochondriacs Anonymous

Hello, my name is Heather, and I'm a hypochondriac.

In the last few days, I've noticed that Bailey's eyeballs have become unusually large. Like they may pop right out of her head at any moment. I mentioned it to Brian, who initially didn't see a difference and deduced that I was crazy. (It's not uncommon for him to be found absolutely right in these cases.) But the other night, Brian agreed that Bailey's eyes did seem to be bulging out of her sockets.
Bailey a couple weeks ago and now

Never having seen or heard of this happening to a dog (or anything for that matter), I headed straight to Google where I came across several terrifying articles explaining "What to Do if Your Dog's Eye Pops Out of the Socket" and about how any trauma can put pressure on the ocular nerve sometimes causing blindness. PetMD is not my friend.

After reading enough of these articles to severely freak myself out, I took poor bug-eyed Bailey to the after-hours emergency vet. We piled in the car, exploded through the doors, sniffed every possible surface of the waiting room, peed on the floor, tackled the nurse, and then finally saw the doctor. He said it looked like nothing to worry about, that it's probably just allergies and some Benedryl and eye drops should take care of the inflammation. *Phew*

It was a long drive home; I drove, feeling sheepish yet relieved, and Brian smiled smugly in the passenger seat. Completely understanding as always, he is so great about easing my worries and anxiety. He puts up with my crazy so well. Poor guy will probably run for the hills before it comes time to talk about kids.

I'm so glad that Bailey's goofy looking face isn't worrisome to anyone but me; here's hoping the Benedryl and eye drops do the trick before she looks like this:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Festival of Colors

This Easter Brian and I went to the Holi Festival of Colors. Holi takes place at a Hindu Temple in Spanish Fork, UT (about an hour South of Salt Lake City.) It's so funny when I see pictures of this temple on Pinterest, labeled as being somewhere in India. It really does look authentic, but it's sitting on a farm in the middle of nowhere, Utah.

The festival of colors announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. It's a celebration to mark the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and kindness over cruelty. The colors, when thrown, represent oneness and brotherhood with all humanity: a lesson of spiritual and social harmony. There are tens of thousands of people that attend each year. Even though there are so many people everywhere, the event somehow maintains its peaceful message.

I went to the Festival of Colors for the first time about 4 years ago. Back then, it was only twice a day that they would throw the colors, and there were much more people at once. Now, they throw the colors every two hours because there are so many people that come. They've got organized parking now, vendors, security, etc. The Festival of Colors is kindof a big deal.

So basically, this is what happens:

This is us before the madness, so fresh and so clean.

Everyone gathers together in the anticipation of the count down, then the colors are all thrown in the air, and you're engulfed in a cloud of what combines to become a purple dust (by the way, the colors are scented... like roses). It's fantastic. 

After the dust settles....

We are a colorful couple. We got another packet of colors on the way back to the car. Guess what color.
Totally worth the drive, and the crowds, and the purple stuff that stays in your nose and ears for days on end. (Oh yea, blowing your nose is great fun after this.)

The fun didn't end in Spanish Fork. Bailey helped me do laundry when we got home. I found a packet with a little bit of of purple colors left in my pocket and we had a festival all our own. Awwww. She is such a trooper.