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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

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What can we know? What are we all? Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite, with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts. –Arthur Conan Doyle

Standing in the accelerating sleet last night, the pinks and blues and purples burst above us like the Space Needle was imploding in the most beautiful way.

2017… a new year, a new start, a chance to make things right. That’s what the New Year is for, correct? A giant reset button that lifts our spirits and refreshes our souls?

As I made my way through the mass of revelers and vehicles that leached out into the streets from every corner and crevice as if the city was a giant washcloth being wrung out, reality set back in. New year, same problems, even new problems.

Most of the world has more serious issues– I need to keep mine in perspective. But that doesn’t make them any less real, and one thing I don’t like about having problems is that it impedes my ability to help other people solve theirs.

This night is always a good night to forget about our challenges for a while and just feel alive. I needed that; I did that. As I went on to my next activity, though, I thought about how many of our efforts to feel alive please the body for a few hours but aren’t good for the soul.

We are masters at temporarily numbing our pain without digging down to the root cause of why we continually engage in self-destructive behaviors. Eventually these flimsy fixes we fashion to avoid processing the larger issues will fail. It might take decades, you might get away with avoiding your demons most of your life, but they will catch up to you.

Why? Why do we persist in doing things that devalue ourselves and seemingly ignore the fact that in the end we have to answer for our choices? This is not judgmental; I include myself in this analysis. And I was reminded as I pondered this that we don’t know who we are. Or we don’t care.

We are born. We learn pain. We try to find love. We find flawed human beings who are selfish and hurtful. Some even take pleasure in harming others. The enemy of our souls exploits our weaknesses and tries to convince us we have no need for God. Our bleeding hearts scar over, our walls go up, we keep a good face on but inside we withdraw farther and farther into the desolate labyrinth of prison cells that our life experiences have built for us.

This was never God’s plan for us. It’s still not His plan for us. I write this as someone who feels like I’ve had every reason in recent years to walk away from Him. The losses have been repeated and immense, the physical toll brutal and embarrassing. I understand as well as any why people feel betrayed by God and ask why He can allow such terrible things to happen, especially when you’re trying to be true to His ways.

In the beginning we walked with God in the garden. Then we met a deceiver who convinced us we could be our own gods. And our race has largely been stuck there ever since– doing our own thing, hurting and killing each other, destroying our souls. As C.S. Lewis astutely noted, all of human history, all the crazy things we’ve done, is an attempt to find something other than God to make us happy.

Do you know what gives me hope in those moments I feel like I’ve taken yet another shotgun blast to the chest and my internal organs are hanging out in shreds? I am His child. He has a solution for every sickness, a plan for every problem, a miracle for every mountain. Tonight might be the darkest night of your life but He’s awake and working. He has unlimited resources. And He’s going to make a way.

Some who believe in Him will tell you to be a good little doormat and to just be glad it’s not worse. Don’t listen to them. He has no intention of keeping us stuck in the same mud until we drown. He might allow us to make our own bad choices again and again until we hit rock bottom and wake up, but you are a child of light, not of mediocrity. You are a victor, not a victim. You are a purposeful creation of the force that not only made this universe but exists beyond it.

You might say, “you don’t know what I’ve done.” That goes both ways. You don’t know what I’ve done either. But I know He offers forgiveness and has had a plan for your life since before you were born. If you ask for His help and make an effort to live His way, He’ll start showing you the path you’re supposed to be on. Chances are He’s already given you some clues, but you feel too afraid, unworthy, or used up to go for it.

Our modern culture has no use for God except in times of tragedy. It’s become so very normal to believe that drinking, drugs, sex, sports, fashion, money will solve our problems. They mask our problems. They are Band-Aids. One more shallow relationship, one more beer, one more pair of designer shoes– no. Those just prolong the inevitable. You will still wake up one morning with the realization that your life could have had a deeper meaning. You might be 30, you might be 90, but it will come.

If you know who you are– His child– your life has that deeper meaning. You were not designed to function on your own and fuel your part-body, part-soul amphibious self with the things of this world. You were made to run on God, Love Himself. The more you realize this, the less you need the Band-Aids. It can be so hard to believe this when parts of your life have been like a horror story. I get it. Yet every time I choose Him instead of the Band-Aid, I am making it more possible to overcome my problems. This is because I’m surrendering my way to His, and He knows better than I do.

This is my challenge to all of us in 2017. Will we choose to believe that He has great plans for our lives and the best is yet to come as sons and daughters of the Most High? Or will we keep doing the same things over and over hoping that this time the outcome will be different (it won’t)?

New year, same problems as yesterday. Life didn’t magically start over during the fireworks. But you are most powerful when everything looks hopeless and lost and you choose to believe anyway. When life gets out its baseball bat again and beats you senseless, get upFight back. When temptation comes, remind yourself that you’re better than that. When people who don’t know your whole story judge you, remember that they don’t know but God does.

You are His child. He wants the very best for you. Remember who you are and what He has promised, and you will be happier, healthier, and more able to love and be loved.

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Happy Easter. May each of our journeys lead to a point at which we realize we have a Father who loves us so much He sacrificed His own son so we might never be separated from Him again. For God is love, and I can think of nothing more tragic than spending this life or the next without Love Himself. There is nothing in this increasingly depraved world that could be more worthy of celebration than knowing, through the supreme sacrifice on a hill long ago, Love has us and will never let us go.

He is risen. For us it may seem incomprehensible or even impossible. But our minds are finite. His is infinite. For God, nothing is impossible. He brings new life– literally. He spoke the world into being and He did not allow His son to remain in a stone tomb after being cruelly murdered. He was raised to life on the third day and not only exists but said He would return to this earth to set things right.

He isn’t out to get you. He wants to walk beside you and call you child and friend. He has provided you a hope and a future. When you say, “I believe,” you are covered by the blood and given a new identity and purpose. The way might not be easy, but you are guaranteed victory in the end. Which, by the way, is the beginning of an endless story that will be more wonderful than you can ever imagine.

May He be more real to you than ever before this Easter Sunday. He is risen indeed.

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It made me think that for all the joy and fanfare of the Easter celebrations, for all the mystery of faith in God, for all the billions of words used over centuries to explain it all, Christianity itself has a 6 word autobiography: Jesus is risen from the dead. There are thousands of words in the Bible and none of them make any sense without these 6 words. –Vicar Simon Cutmore

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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From TimeThe True History Behind St. Patrick’s Day

From USA Today7 St. Patrick’s Day traditions explained

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Has Leap Day William visited you yet this February 29th?

I wasn’t sure if he knew what time my workplace closed so donned a blue coat, bought a blue plastic fedora, added a jaunty yellow paper band to it, and spent the afternoon at various locations handing out candy. Yes, I assumed the role of Leap Day William for a time, and one person knew who I was, so it was a success.

“Who is Leap Day William?” you ask. Groundhog Day has… a groundhog. And Bill Murray. The Fourth of July has Uncle Sam. There’s the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin, and a host of mythological (?) characters that show up throughout the year. While you might not have been raised with the idea of a sharply dressed man in blue and yellow popping up on February 29th, there is also a Leap Day William.

William’s origins are explained in this Atlas Obscura piece, ’30 Rock’ Co-Creator Tells The Story Behind Leap Day William. 30 Rock was a TV show that ran on NBC for about seven years and William made his debut on that. Fun fact: he lives in the Mariana Trench and only comes out on Leap Day.

For the uninitiated—someone who is not a 30 Rock superfan—Leap Day William is the keystone of a leap year tradition, where you wear blue and yellow; you stand around and pretend to cry so Leap Day William showers you with sweets (“He emerges every four years to trade children’s tears for candy”); if you see someone not wearing yellow and blue, you are entitled to shout, “Poke your eyes, pull your hair, you forgot what clothes to wear,” and poke and pull.

To some Leap Day is a magical day, an extra day, on which you can do daring and glorious things. To others it means doing whatever you want because your actions don’t count. I was also informed that women can propose to men on this day (which led to interesting discussions about a movie I haven’t seen, curiosity about which women would actually do it, and a group text gone hilariously wrong).

For me, today was about blowing off the stressful, annoying, and distracting things that try to muddy our workday and trying to bring a ray of blue and yellow sunshine into the daily grind. Whether it scared children, infringed on some NBC trademark, or began an annual– well, every four year– tradition, it was good to be counterfeit Leap Year William for a time. For some it’s been so long since the Easter Bunny or Publisher’s Clearinghouse visited that perhaps it added a touch of childlike wonder to their day.

Or now they need therapy. But at least they have candy.

P.S. If someone finds the yellow paper hat band I MacGyvered together at lunch with scrap paper, a Leatherman tool, and adhesive material from a book of stamps, no, it’s not a failed attempt at a Mobius strip. I actually know how to make those.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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Every January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day. What are you doing for the noble, nimble nut-burying ninjas in your backyard this year? Here are some smashing ideas from the National Wildlife Federation.

And if you don’t appreciate this compilation of squirrel videos, your cat will.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Back in mid-September of last year, the Alexander Farm on Ebey Island in Everett held a pumpkin hurl and medieval faire. This was part of the annual Snohomish Valley Festival of Pumpkins.

People of all ages were treated to some fantastic entertainment. Take the standard autumn quest for jack o’ lanterns, add tents, pirates, Vikings, weapons, crafts, food, all manner of costumed characters, knights, and horses, and you have a blast, pun intended.

After bumpitty-bumping through the parking pasture and paying for admission, you do need to wander around a bit to figure out what’s going on. There is some walking to do but it’s worth it.

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The day’s menu.

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Umbrellaed gnome, pirate, princess, REI gnome. This family was awesome. You can show up in whatever you want– which is how work should be. Every day.

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This weaver had mad medieval skills. He gladly demonstrated the logic behind the loom. It was complex.

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A look down Market Lane.

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Minstrel solo jam.

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One of the merchants.

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A Viking gathering spot. Check out the Etsy shop of my associate in red, who makes much of his own gear, Hearthfire Nordic Wares.

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A pirate on his AYYYYEE-pod. Oh wait, he’s with the other guys.

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Ah, pirates and their cannons. These things are louder than they look. One kid started screaming hysterically after this went off.

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Our emcee, ready for battle, brawls, and merriment. I couldn’t decide which picture I liked better. He did a fantastic job.

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Both adults and children can participate in battles. Here, Team Princess-Cowboy-Wizard prepares to charge.

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And yes, there was a banana. Why wouldn’t there be?

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There was Viking shield wall training.

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Oh yeah.

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Enter the trebuchets. This is the main event. Teams bring their pumpkin launches to the edge of the field, load them up with weight, and send squash hurtling through the air as far as they can.

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This knight and king soaked in the day’s festivities.

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A professional survey team drove this van around the field to accurately measure how far the fat orange fruit were flung. When they were not on the field, corn was occasionally launched from air guns at the targets. It was hilarious.

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Whaachaaa… the pumpkin is already out of the frame but you still see the motion of the launch.

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Swashbuckling spectators ponder the economic advantages of firing plump produce from their cannons instead of metal balls. Sustainability is one of Seattle’s most beloved buzzwords right now.

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Here’s the big boy. At the end of the competition, all of the teams threw their metal weights into his bucket to increase his power. You could launch a Volkswagen from this thing. And centuries ago, they would lob just about anything available at their enemies.

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And the emcee’s shelter collapses. There was a strong breeze. Thankfully no Vikings, wizards, gnomes, or bananas were caught in the canvas.

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Enter the Seattle Knights. These lords and ladies are the real deal. Their website accurately describes them as, “(the) Northwest’s medieval combat troupe with excellent equestrian skills, high-energy acting, and choreographed stage combat using real steel weapons.” The knights and their steeds have well-developed personas and you are encouraged to cheer for a particular color.

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Between events the knights bring their horses to the sidelines so spectators can interact with them. There are various breeds and sizes, the oldest of which was an energetic 27. All are poetry in motion.

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There are both male and female knights.

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Off with his head! Literally. This knight beheaded his foe at a gallop.

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Getting the spear through the ring at this speed has to be something like threading a needle while you’re tripping over a pile of Legos. Amazing.

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Knights challenge each other to combat. By the end of this round, she had him at spear point on the ground.

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The thrill of the joust. It was difficult to get a good action shot over the crowd. It is intense to see this event up close.

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What a day. What makes it so appealing is that you wear what you feel like, you get to participate and learn things, and the entertainment involves all manner of medieval weaponry. All area pumpkin farms have unique attributes to draw crowds; we’re serious about our gourd hunting in Washington State. This one basically offered time travel. I hope they have a similar program next year because I plan to bring the whole Fruit of the Loom pack along.

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I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. -Henry David Thoreau

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Seen in an unnamed store in an unnamed location yesterday…

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I love holidays. There’s one to celebrate every day. Today, for example, is Run it Up the Flagpole and See if Anyone Salutes Day. Tomorrow, January 3rd, is Festival of Sleep Day (yes!!) and Fruitcake Toss Day. But this display was just too much.

Each holiday has an approximate place– no Christmas in July, no Valentines in December, no Nightmare Before St. Patrick’s Day. I would be fine with the wearing of costumes to all such events to boost the celebratory cheer as such garb could be relevant to each holiday. I proposed a Christmas party where people would dress up as their favorite Claymation character– Rudolph, King Moonracer, Hermey, Boss Elf, etc.

Christmas is a season to me, not a day, and I have no issue with leaving decorations up for a few more weeks. It takes a lot of work to put them up and they bring an extra sparkle to dreary winter nights. But– aagh, they all seem to run together now, with no buffer between them. Someone already sent me a card with Santa, Dracula, the Easter Bunny, and the whole pop culture pantheon represented. One card does it all! And in the meantime we lose sight of the divine origins and meanings of some of these days, like an all-powerful God coming to earth to give us lasting hope and life.

Retail sector– could we at least get a bit of a breather before you launch into the holidays for the next four to six months? The Christmas season is intense and we need a break before you start dangling plastic trinkets we don’t actually need for the next round. Ooh, look, a glow-in-the-dark leprechaun…

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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