Sunday, September 30, 2007


Pin It There are so many things I have to be thankful for. As I sit here up at Sundance yet again on a Sunday afternoon I am surrounded by the glory of God’s creation and find myself in awe of all of this beauty. How can one doubt His existence when we have all of these reminders? The elegant mountain stream as it cascades over stones, which become rounded by its continued rushing and flow. The call of birds in the Autumn-hemmed treetops. The smell of lazy smoke from bright, crackling flames burning the summer’s dried leaves…

Building v.s. Wrecking

Pin It In our lives, we all are faced with decisions; it is these decisions that make us what we are. It was Steven Curtis Chapman who once said,

“We are who and where and what we are…for now.
This is the only moment, we can do anything about.”

There is a poem I heard a few years ago that really hit me hard when I first came across it. The poem illustrates the two types of people that are out there…builders, and wreckers…

The Builder

I passed one day though a busy town,
and saw them tearing a building down.
With a “Ho, heave ho!” and a husky yell,
they swung a beam and a side wall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
The kind you’d hire if you had to build?”
“No,” he chuckled. “No indeed,
the common laborer is all I need.
I can easily destroy in a day or two,
what builders have taken weeks to do.”

I thought to myself as I went on my way,
which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
strengthening lives by rule and square,
shaping my peers to a well-made plan,
helping them do the best they can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
content with the labor of tearing down?

- Author Unknown

The more often we make one certain type of decision, the easier it is to make similar choices in days to come. Like a trickle of water which entrenches itself deeper and deeper into layers of ancient sandstone—one day to form a canyon—so are the type of actions we choose day to day, that cut their way into the sandstone of our habits, forming our character.

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.” ~James M. Barrie

One of the choices we make in this life is how we will treat those around us, whether they are our friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances. We can make a decision to be kind, or to be unkind. We can choose to build them up, or to tear them down. Like an artist’s painting which may take days, weeks, or even months to complete, building up of others can happen, however, this work takes time. Yet, it only takes a moment to destroy the priceless masterpiece—it is so much easier to tear a person down than to build them up.

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” - George Washington Carver

A few years ago I had a student in my class whom I’ll call “Joey.” Joey was a bit behind his classmates in academics as well as in sporting ability. He was not a perfect kid. Joey was also a little bit different from his classmates and this made it hard for him to make good friends.

You see, many kids would look at him on the outside, and judge him based solely on this. So often, they’d merely hear something about him from somebody else and take this as being truth. They wouldn’t try to get to know him, but instead let somebody else’s ideas become the new reality of this boy. Many kids would tease him because he was an easy target, tearing him down, and making fun of him for the things which were different about him.

I watched with anguish as this boy made mistakes, and then would be teased by those around him. I tried to help, but unfortunately you cannot control the spiteful actions people can sometimes do…I saw him slowly being worn down by his peers—his classmates, those who should have been his friends.

I hoped that things would get better for Joey in middle school, that with a larger group of kids he would be given a fair chance and have the opportunity to make more friends. Unfortunately, this was not the case. His “reputation” followed him, spurned on by the cutting remarks by those who’d known him in grade school. In middle school he still had a problem finding good friends…people that could truly see the boy who was there.

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” - T.H. Thompson

This last week, Joey came by to say hello. He shared with me that he only has one friend now in school and that it’s hard for him. When I asked him what could be done, he said, “Nothing. People just don’t give me a chance…they won’t even try to get to know me.”

When he left my classroom I did a lot of thinking about this boy. I also have thought a lot about the things I have chosen to do in my own life. I am forced to look at myself and ask the hard question…who have I often chosen to be? Have I been a builder who works with care with all those around me? Or have I chosen to be a wrecker who tears down? I guess there have been times in my life where I have been both of these. It is my goal to try to be the person who builds, rather than he that simply destroys…we are all works in progress and need to remember that tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to do better than we have before.

It's time for letting go, of all of our “if onlies”
Cause we don't have a time machine.
And even if we did, would we really want to use it?
Would we really want to go change everything?

Cause we are who and where and what we are for now
And this is the only moment we can do anything about.

- Steven Curtis Chapman

My goal is to seize the “miracle of the moment” while it is yet mine.

“A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” - Dave Barry

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Eventful Weekend

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This has been an eventful weekend. I say “eventful” in regards to not a lot of physical actions going on the outside of me, however, on the microscopic levels I was literally teeming with hordes of activity…in other words, I was sick.

It all started out on Friday morning with a migraine…migraines in the morning are not what I recommend to anyone, as it starts off the day terribly! With the help of a little Excedrin and a hot shower I was able to get it to leave, but that was nothing compared to what was coming up. As the day wore to evening I started to feel—in the words of Matchbox 20—Unwell.

Not knowing what lay in store for when I woke up on Saturday morning I went to bed that night with plans to go to Park City with a friend of mine. Well, when I arose at 6:30 I started to get ready but knew, knew mind you, that there was no way that I would be going anywhere. Though my will said yes, my body more wisely said, “There ain’t no way you’re going anyplace!” I am glad that I listed to my body because it turned out that I had some type of flu that was complete with everything that goes along with it—I will spare the graphic details (as most everyone has experienced this horrific event in their life at some time or another, and details are probably not entirely necessary).

All of Saturday was spent indoors, in bed, under blankets, and being exceeding bored. I did manage to watch about 5 episodes of “The X Files” my sister had lent me so it made it somewhat more bearable, though even television gets old after a few hours and one just wants to be up and out. I have had friends tell me before that they actually enjoy the downtime they get when they are sick…just being able to lie there for hours on end and sleep. Not me…I was ready to be up and out, however, my body once-again more wisely warned against going out in public. I was grateful for night to come and for sleep to overtake me—still feeling terrible.

This morning I was up and looking out at the gray, cloudy, dreary Sunday and I felt a little bit better. Still had stomach pains, but it was better than Saturday. I managed to get up and as I did I was listening to a CD, a song by Peter Breinolt came on, “Say I Will.” As I listened to this song I started to think about my brother, Yancy, who is in New York. I just started to miss him. How we don’t appreciate those around us until they are gone…I just have to add to this post that I really do miss my brother. It is strange to think that he’s been gone for three months. Time moves steadily onward, doesn’t it?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sundays and Sundance

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What is it about being at Sundance here in Provo Canyon that makes such a big difference for me? I think that it comes from being tucked away in the mountains surrounded by the majestically towering pines, the wind blowing through their lofty branches, and the veritable orchestra of sound as the river courses its way past me. Throw in the sound of the leafy aspens, just starting to show distinct signs of fall, kissed with reds and yellows, and you’ve got yourself off to a good start.

I love the smells up here too…those fresh, invigorating scents which make me remember old songs on the radio and cherished memories. I drink in these smells and greet them like some of my oldest and dearest friends.

Sunday afternoon…what a perfect time to find a place of solace! You can also imagine my surprise when I decided to write for a few minutes up here at the theatre at Sundance, opened my laptop, turned on a few Nickel Creek tunes, and then discovered that they had free wireless Internet. Ah, what a great extra bonus to an already glorious day!

It wasn’t long before a few friends contact me on IM and I began to wonder…do they have any idea of where I am right now? I also wondered just how jealous they may be if they only knew…

Oh, and by the way, Lindsay Lohan is up here too though I haven't seen her...after all, she is in rehab.

Judging Joey

Pin It Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg. - Unknown

I have been thinking a lot lately about people and how easy it is to judge them like books on library shelves, before ever having taken the time to “read” them. I am reminded of an experience several years ago when I was living in Missouri. My mom sent me a letter and in it she spoke about the way that we treat people, and also how we see them. Mom had been working in Colville, Washington at the time and she said:

“I was at work this week and I was looking out the window, watching people passing by on the sidewalk. I soon noticed a man who had cerebral palsy walking down the sidewalk. I watched him as he tried to make his uncooperating body cooperate as he made his way up the sidewalk. As he passed by the window, I noticed that on the back of his shirt were printed the words, “Jesus Christ” in large letters and also something else beneath this which was too small for me to read. I thought to myself just how interesting it was that this man had chosen to show his belief in the Savior in this way. It was a moment later that a thought struck me...that maybe he really was the Savior. Maybe he had made himself appear in this way to see how those around him would react. It was this thought that made me feel ashamed and I realized then that we all need to be more loving, and less judging of those who are around us.”

“We take it for granted we know the whole story - We judge a book by its cover and read what we want between selected lines.” - W. Axl Rose

I can’t even begin to recall how many times I have been judgmental of others because of the way they look on the outside. I was reminded of how dangerous this can be with a young man I’ll choose to call, “Joey.” Joey had come into my classroom a few years ago and with the long hair, baggy clothes, and the chain connecting his wallet to his pants, he had the distinct look of a honest-to-goodness punk. I remember the first day he came to my classroom and how I had no expectations from this boy other than the fact that he was going to be nothing but trouble.

Well, as it turned out, “Joey” turned out to be the exact opposite of what I had thought originally. He was a young man that cared deeply for others and who also worked very hard in school and got good grades.

There were numerous times Joey would help others and include them in the games he played at recess. I found myself ashamed that I had judged someone so quickly and had been ready to not even give them a chance. This was a boy who taught me that we should not be so quick to judge others…for, if we do, we will undoubtedly find ourselves wrong in many instances. I believe that Mother Teresa summed it up best when she said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” We should try be as loving and as accepting as we possibly can, after all, we want to be accepted and loved by those around us.

State Fair and Failure

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The top nine food prevalent at the Utah State Fair (not necessarily in order and you'll also notice that corn dogs made it in more than once...)

Well, I finally broke down and went up to the Utah State Fair last night and all I have to say is that it was quite the experience. It has been several years since I had been up to a fair and I had forgotten the “trailer trash” feeling I always get while I am there. Also, there always comes that undeniable urge to go home and take a shower after touching anything. I think what made it so memorable were all of the bad haircuts on kids (probably done by parents or when the kid was playing with the weed eater), people who thought that $6 for a corndog and $10 for a beer was a total deal, and a sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco formed completely out of butter...ah, the thrills of a state fair!

I do have to admit that there was at least one redeeming portion of the fair that made it sort of worth going and that was the night’s show of Terry Fator, a ventriloquist who had recently won “America’s Got Talent.” I was really impressed with his ability to control his voice and bring characters into life.

While I was at the fair I also met David Farland, an author of more than 50 books! It amazed me that there are these individuals who worked really hard at something, and then were able to do it for a living. While I walked around the displays and tried really hard not to touch anything, I thought of my own life and all of the “little” things that I can do but feel that I am more of a “jack of all trades and master of none.”

I think that we all have dreams…we all have things which we want to accomplish, yet we let fear of failure or laziness hold us back from accomplishing it. However, seldom is anything worthwhile accomplished without work.

It was this sudden realization that came to me while I was up at the Utah State Fair…that I have let too many things hold me back in the past. So, what now? Well, it seems that I need to make a choice to either put in the work and go for it or give up and fall to the fear of failure…

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Journey through Time

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I took a journey back in time today…I found a box of memorabilia…yearbooks, photos, and a book of thoughts from a decade ago. I found myself reliving those days and moments, caught in a moment in time. I stayed awake until nearly 3 a.m. while Bryan Adams’ song, Heaven, was running through my thoughts like a gust of wind blowing through the distant canyons on a star filled night…

“Oh - thinking about all our younger years,
There was only you and me,
We were young and wild and free…”

As I listened to the soundtrack of my life playing along with the images and memories I came to realize that though it is great to reminisce about days gone by, I would never want to return to them. I look where I am now, and the conveniences that we have today and I have to ask, would I really want to go back to a cassette player and a VCR?

No, I wouldn’t.

However, sometime in the future will I reminisce about these days that I currently reside in? Will I look upon them with fondness? I guess that will all be determined by the choices I am making today, won’t it?

It was Cubbi Gummi in Walt Disney’s “The Gummi Bears” show who once wisely said:

“Though the first step begins it all and the last one ends the quest, the long steps which come in between most certainly are the best.”

So though it may be fun to take an occasional trip to yesteryear, I would never want to go back and live there.

Make the journey worth taking…

If you wake up and find yourself in Hades...

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Life changes so rapidly and often things I have taken for granted and thought would always be there, I now find vanishing like chilly mist before the rising sun. It is often after the fact that I realize just how important these things or people were, and how much I did not realize their importance while they were mine. I thought they would always be there…but life changes and moves on, stopping for no person; marching on relentlessly like a soldier into battle.

I need to remember that all things in this life are temporary and learn to enjoy them while they are mine, but also to remember that they will not be here forever. Likewise, the bad times are temporary as well and I will not be forced to endure them for eternity. A friend of mine once said something to the effect of: “If you suddenly find yourself going through Hades, keep going through it or you'll always be there.”

The bottom line is that the present is called the present for a reason…because every day we open it anew and we never quite know what it will be. Let's choose to enjoy it while it is ours.

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