Strawberry Fields Forever

I discovered another reason why I think Southern California isn't so bad! I live in Ventura County and strawberries are one of our top crops! This means that come early spring strawberry stands pop up all over the sides of roads so you can buy strawberries picked that day on one of the many farms in Ventura County. Plus, every year we have the California Strawberry Festival. I'm sorry, but you can't get freshly picked strawberries in Salt Lake City. So today on my way home I pulled off into the dust on the side of the road where someone was selling delicious, juicy, sweet, organically farmed, freshly picked strawberries!! I sampled one (yummmmy!), exchanged some conversation with the vendor and got myself back on the road with a flat of strawberries filling my car with fruity fragrance! I chopped all the tops off of them tonight (to make them easier to eat) and then dunked some in some chocolate and put them in the refrigerator. They should be ready jjjuuussst abooouttt............. NOW! I'm off to enjoy!



Simon of Cyrene

For those of you who may have missed the news, we opened escrow on the house. Michigan, here we come! I’ll be helping my parents move to the Great Lake state in mid July and then I plan (but we all know how my plans tend to go) to return to Utah shortly thereafter! 4 months and counting!

My pastor gave a really interesting sermon this past week on Simon of Cyrene. You can check it out here. He showed us a clip from The Passion of the Christ. It has been a long time since I’ve seen that movie. I can remember the intensity of it, the eerie feeling of leaving the Felix Event Center at APU with nearly 3,000 of my peers in complete silence. Many moments of that movie remain etched in my memory: The scene where Jesus is praying in Gethsemane; Peter’s denial of Christ; the moment where Jesus’ resurrection takes place and Satan is defeated. One moment I didn’t exactly recall from the movie was the clip Pastor Dave showed on Sunday of Simon of Cyrene being forced to carry the cross of Jesus. I noted on Simon’s face the definite resistance and near annoyance of being forced to carry this criminal’s cross. This man, that Mark 15:21 says was just passing by, picks up the cross and comes face to face with the Savior. I left church that morning wondering what it would have been like to look Christ in the eye and carry his cross. To watch as he is beaten, bloodied, mocked and murdered for my sake. We, as believers, know that it happened. But can you imagine actually being there? And moreover, can you imagine being Simon of Cyrene and carrying the cross side by side with Jesus? I cannot put my finger on exactly why this moved me the way that it did, but I find myself hoping beyond all hope that what my pastor suggested may have happened, actually did happen. That the moment when Simon carried that cross, that maybe he really did look Jesus in the eye. And maybe in that moment he felt something powerful, unearthly, and divine. And maybe when the rumors began to circulate that this Jesus of Nazareth had conquered death, Simon of Cyrene knew he had carried the cross of the one who carried his sin. Was it coincidence that Simon happened through Jerusalem at that exact moment, or was God interrupting his life so that he could save it? And how many times does God do that? Interrupt our very own lives for the sake of saving them?

Peace in this Lenten season.

(The picture comes from this website.)


Why I Love Cadbury

Oh, sweet bliss... Spring is (almost) here and those delicious, sweet, tasty Cadbury Creme eggs are once more gracing the shelves of every grocery store, drug store, convenient store, any store really! Recently, I've done a fabulous job at frequenting the gym and kicking my work out routine into gear. So you may ask me, "Cat, is it really worth it to indulge in some chocolatey goodness and derail the hard work you've been doing?" My answer is: YES. This year, Cadbury has given me, and every other chocolate and fondant loving soul, more of an incentive. So Jo, start the stockpiling. Friends, get ready for Easter. This is... Why I Love Cadbury:

Most people don't know that 35% of the world's chocolate (used in a lot of the chocolate that we eat) is made from cocoa beans harvested in Cote D'Ivoire, Africa by child slaves. Stop The Traffik is committed to bringing justice to all children exploited by the chocolate industry, and Cadbury has announced that they are going traffik free!!!!! Now, admittedly, their chocolate won't be guaranteed until the end of the summer, but hey, this company is actually in the works to make sure that all of their products are fair trade. So if any chocolate manufacturer is going to get some business this spring Cadbury is definitely most worthy of our dolla dolla bills. And let's face it people... It's Easter. So unless you are among the brave souls foregoing chocolate for lent, you're gonna eat it! So thank you Cadbury for committing your company to justice and change. You've definitely got my business!



Materialism vs. Religious Predominance

I think I’m experiencing reverse culture shock or some version of it. Growing up in southern California, things around me always seemed normal. I was minimally aware of the materialism surrounding me, and only in certain cases did it become annoyingly obvious. When I moved to Salt Lake City I was so mentally prepared for such an extreme change in culture that what I actually did witness was not that difficult to get used to. I quickly grew accustomed to seeing references to the LDS church be it temples, wards, missionaries. There were also the witty LDS references: Hookah 10% off with temple recommend. All of these reminded me that I lived in a state, a county, a city where one religion in particular was inescapable. As I said, one assimilates at a surprising speed.

But I also assimilated to the good things: a slower paced lifestyle, healthy living (for the most part), living in a real city that still remains clean and user friendly, people smiling at you just because you’re a person, being downtown and seeing people you know going for a quick jog or studying at your favorite coffee shop. Most of all, I desperately miss the community of believers I was a part of. These people became family instantaneously. These people knew that when you are a minority you have to make a choice: live recklessly for what you believe, or don’t. There is no room for lukewarm Christianity. There is no room for complacent Christianity. However, there was also a group comprised of those who hated and resisted against organized religion in any form. Another minority though they may be, there is no short supply of them in Utah’s metropolitan area (or ya know… as close as Utah gets to a metropolis). Bottom line: You can’t live in Utah and be apathetic towards religion. Everyone has an opinion and will most likely offer it unprompted.

Change scene. Wow is California different! People truly are apathetic towards religion. They genuinely don’t care. Worse than that is the existence of Christians who don’t care about the people who don’t care. “Live and let live” is the mantra it seems. I can accept that when I go out shopping I’m not surrounded by one religious group. I can accept that if I want to eat something on a Sunday I won’t have to weed out the places that are closed. What is harder to accept is that when I meet someone who goes to church, I’m not necessarily meeting someone who has an active relationship with Christ. Harder to accept is that finding out someone goes to church doesn’t mean that I’ve just met a brother or sister. The occurrence of this (twice since I started working at P.F. Chang’s) makes me feel sadly out of place; I’m the naive new kid who isn’t accustomed to the way things are. But wait… Didn’t I grow up here? Shouldn’t I be used to this?

Equally irritating is the reminder that in this particular area of southern California resides an over population of yuppie, self-entitled, high maintenance suburbanites. When I work, I don’t get smiled at because I am a person, I get barked at because I am a service. I admit, this is a sweeping generalization (and I have had some amazing patrons and have met some quality people), but any server in the Thousand Oaks/Westlake area is more than likely to agree. I know I can only say so much seeing as how I am a product of this culture, but maybe that allows me to better assess it having been gone for well over a year. Maybe…