Saturday, February 28, 2015

Story on Hold: Placeholder (Couplet)

Alma 29:1-3 - "... For I ought to be content with what the Lord hath allotted me ..."

Something crazy happened last night that ultimately interrupted the ramblings of two returned missionaries. It is unfortunate that I was forbidden from writing about the event until, at the very least, a later date. Specifics are

As it is, I guess the primary lesson I can expound today is that good things come to those who wait, because when--or if--I'm allowed to reveal the TRUE post of Friday the 27th, your mind will be absolutely BLOWN.

For now, here's a photo of the aftermath of last night, as well as a lovely little couplet to ponder before tomorrow's Sunday Snapshot.


Creeping flames of monstrous despair crumbling foundation beneath
Yields before constant resplendent defence in form sword unsheathed

Friday, February 27, 2015

Adding 'Ad' to Vice

2 Nephi 2:25-27 - "Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy ..."

After the social dance on Wednesday, I made the mistake to listen to a bunch of sob music on Pandora on my way home, turning my thoughts to all the depressing things in my life. It was pretty sad! However, in my desire to rid myself of those feelings, I delved into some scriptures and prayer that reminded me of some basic principles I'd completely forgotten in my so-called throes.

The thing was, that little experience as a whole actually proved super useful to me yesterday. One of my good friends came to me seeking advice, and my stint from the day before had refreshed my memory pertaining to exactly what the Lord needed me to say.


Again, for me, this was a reminder that the Lord doesn't allow me, or anyone else, to suffer without reason, whether it is for ourselves or for our fellows. I know that! And you can too.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to Reap Joy: The Best Kind of Drug (VIDEO)

2 Samuel 6:14 - "And David danced before the Lord with all his might ..."

As most of you know, I'm an absolutely horrible dancer. I have a lot of heart, soul, and rhythm, but absolutely no technique or training whatsoever. Even trying to learn Capoeira for two months hasn't really given me much to work with.

Last night, though, I had the chance to witness these two excellent gentlemen perform their hearts out and show me where I'm lacking. They were rockin', which my low-quality videos may or may not have been able to capture. I also heavily blame the cameraman, who apparently struggles with angles.






After their own performances, it was an open floor, and I had the opportunity to head out onto the floor with a friend, who I immediately frustrated as she vainly attempted to teach me the Cha-Cha, the Tango, the Triple Step, and the Foxtrot, all of which I was laughably bad at. 

However, I had a lot of fun despite it all, and as I looked around, I realized there really weren't any grumpy faces. Everyone was smiling and having a good time, from the worst (me) to the best (those guys). I don't know what it was, but I suspect something about the dance pleases God.

So, if you haven't already today, crank on some tunes, and let fly! I promise you, your mood will brighten considerably, even if you're already rockin'.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

No Inhibitions: 'The Wall' Performance

Ephesians 5:13 - "But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light."

A few days ago, my best mate told me he'd found a new favorite song, that collab by Rihanna, Kanye, and Paul. "You should play it for me on the uke," he said.

I listened to it for a bit. "I'll have to practice it," I said.

"Pfffft, whatever," he said.

Then, he forgot about it.

As the week went by, I took a little bit of time out of each day to practice the tune, struggling to even poorly catch the timbre and rhythm of the voices and the instrumentation. However, once I reached a point I felt mildly comfortable, I decided to finally play the song on Tuesday night.

It's a general tradition that, following my staff meeting on Tuesdays, I go join the gang down at The Wall to finish watching its open mic night before we all head back over to their place.

When I arrived, things were more or less winding down. "Hey, man," my friend said. "You should play something!"

I wasn't really feeling in the right mood for one of my improvs. "Pfft," I said. "Naw. But, I'll play you something later tonight."

"What!" he said. "Play it now!"

I didn't feel confident, knowing I still needed headphones to match their voices. "No."

"Do it!"

"No."

"Come on!"

"No."

"Dude!"

"No."


Next thing I knew, I was on stage. "How the heck did I ..."

My friend was holding the chords/lyrics up for me. "Play, now, Mon!"

And so, I did. It certainly wasn't my most polished performance, and there was a general consensus that song isn't meant to be played on the uke, but I belted it anyway. The crowd, at that point, consisted of nothing but friends, and despite my struggles, they let up a cheer. It was enough.

What inhibitions are YOU going to conquer today?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Seeking Answers: MTC Temple Walk

Psalms 17:5 - "Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not."

This past Sunday, I was feeling a little lost, a nagging feeling that has yet to completely escape me. I needed some guidance. I wanted to clarify some things in mind. I wished for clarity and quiet. After much internal debate, I decided the best place I could go to continue the dialogue was the temple grounds. 

Of course, I totally forgot that Sunday is a temple walk day for all the MTC missionaries, and they were out in full force, laughing, talking, taking pictures, and even slightly flirting. I continued to read my scriptures as the wave moved around me, focusing on the words of Christ in 3 Nephi.

It soon became apparent that my appearance was a bit unusual to some of the missionaries there. For one, I was sitting by myself with nary a companion in sight. For two, I had no visible name tag, which prompted many to grant me askew looks. For three, I had a phone out. Despite all this, dressed in my suit and about the right age, I looked just like any other missionary there. Finally, one missionary decided to sit down next to me and ask me where I was serving.

I explained I'd just come back from the best mission in the world, Jamaica, last June. The missionary, proceeded to ask me many questions about Jamaica, my mission, and what it meant to be a missionary altogether. It soon turned out that we had a lot in common, and my slight, knowing smile slowly broadened as I recognized this missionary was likely going to struggle with the same kind of wrestlings with his relationship to God that I did out in the field. Upon this realization, I made sure to gently turn his attention to aspects of Preach My Gospel that neither he nor I understood at the beginning of our missions.

As I spoke and read with him, I recognized I was saying things I needed to hear, myself. Some of the questions I'd had were answered right there, in the courtyard, back behind the Provo Temple. But it wasn't the temple that had given the answers; rather, it was just a young servant of the Lord seeking for answers himself.

It was yet another experience where I recognized God's hand in guiding me to where I needed to be precisely when I needed to be there. I expressed my gratitude before driving back home and stepping out for another day.

The missionaries gather on the temple grounds.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Finding Ways to Relax: Fancy Dinner Dance

Ecclesiastes 3:4 - "... a time to laugh ... and a time to dance ..."

Vintage style, yo!

This past week, I was asked by one of my friends if I wanted to go up to a fancy dinner dance with her and a couple of friends. "It's a black tie affair," she said.

I protested. "But I don't own a black tie!"

Regardless, I was easily convinced, and, after finding myself all dressed up with someplace to go on a Friday afternoon, I drove over to the third member of our party's house and picked her up (obviously, I considered myself the fourth member of the party).

It was a several-hour trip up to the hidden ancient dancing grounds. The plan was for the two of us riding in my car to meet my friend and her date halfway there, and then carpool the rest of the way there. Even though I'd never before met my copilot, we felt comfortable and relaxed as our conversation meandered, along with the car, down the highway. This comfortable feeling continued as we joined the others and finished the trek up.

Live music and senior citizens were the major attractions at the dinner dance. Given that we were, as far as I could tell, the youngest group in the room, it was easy to feel a little intimidated by the obviously love-struck couples as they expertly danced to Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud. However, despite our inability to dance like pros, we nonetheless made the most of it, coming up with the best dance moves anyone's ever seen on this side of the Mississippi. I mean, that wave-heart-jump move! STUNNING.

The ride home was, again, comfortable, and even though my copilot and now new-found friend was incredibly tired and had work the next day, she graciously stayed up to keep me company on the last leg home.

It was an excellent evening altogether, particularly so in my mind because of how relaxing it was. With the stress of school and work and other socialities constantly stomping down on my mind, it was nice to just go into something, even a new and foreign experience, with no expectations and no worries. Looking back, it's been a while since I've done anything with that sort of attitude. Rather, I seem to have slipped back into the mentality of doing things because I have to, not because I necessarily want to. It made me ponder how easy it is to just lose myself in the intricacies of life and never give time for myself.

My challenge to you all today is to find something that relaxes you. Set everything in your schedule aside, including what other people expect of you (like professors and their homework), what you expect of yourself (like writing a blog post), and put it on hold for a while, even just for an hour or so. Nothing helped prepare me for the upcoming week more than just going out and having good old-fashioned fun, and I know that, whatever you're facing, you'll experience the same kind of feelings I did.

So go on! Get out there! What are you doing still reading?

Hey!

HEY!

Stop reading!

Seriously, it's like you never listen.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Adversity: Changed Perspective

Acts 9:18 - "And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."

The body of this post follows-up on the conclusion from yesterday's post.

.... Anyway, all loud ranting about education aside, going back to my English class, I concluded I couldn't really do much to change things as they are. Either way, even if I wasn't going to be sticking with my major, I needed to do something to get through the class and get a decent grade.

So, going home with my English reading one night, I pulled it out and stared at it. Ok, I thought to myself. I'm going to actively seek for reasons to enjoy this. Opening it up, I began to read.

I've been trying this technique for about a week now, and, sure enough, I've encountered something in every reading that piques my interest, even if it's gaining the ability to form an entirely outraged opinion regarding the absolute inanity of the author's ideals and execution (most of you know I like to rage about things, anyway).

What happened was, I changed my attitude. When I was looking for things I didn't like, when I was looking to make myself suffer, I succeeded. Now that I'm doing the opposite, my workload doesn't seem so hard. And I firmly believe that all it takes to complete such a chance in mindset is to want it.

So, my challenge for you today is to do just that! If there is something in your life causing you grief, then try to change your perspective. I'm not saying you'll become a cheerful, bubbly fan of whatever that 'something' is, but at least your life won't be made a misery as you're forced to endure it ... or, rather, have the opportunity to experience it.

Me and my fat stack of books.
See you tomorrow for the Snapshot Sunday, guys!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Loud Rant on Education

Isaiah 21:6 - "... let him declare what he seeth ..."

As most of you good, faithful readers are already aware, I am currently having a quarter-life crisis pertaining to my major and eventual employment. For one thing, I'm not sure if I really like the English major as is currently presented to me, and for another thing, I'm not sure what I want to do with it after I graduate.

The main reason why I'm questioning my personal enjoyment of the English major is my six-credit-hour English class, which I have found to be rather boring and irrelevant to my interests. As such, I've struggled a bit more grades-wise than I've liked, which, in turn, has only piqued my disinterest. 

It's a vicious cycle. I'm bored, so I don't apply myself as much, which means I suffer more stress, which means I end up being even more disillusioned with the class.

And if I can get up on my soap box here, I think that's why I hate it when people tell me to 'Love to Learn!' in the context of a formalized education. 

For those of you having a hard time recognizing what letters these sticky notes have been distributed to form, the full statement reads, 'Love to Learn!' Quite. I will point out, I was impressed with the creativity and devotion demonstrated by whoever took the time to slap these sticky notes up, so nice work, stranger!

I have treasured learning something in every class I've ever taken. What annoys me is the standardization of it all, the useless memorization of disconnected facts that no professional would be expected to know off the top of their heads without years of specialized professional training, if even they ever have to know them off the top of their head and can't just look the dang facts up. 

My point is, I would continually have fun learning in even the most irrelevant subject if I wasn't expected to regurgitate every inane trivia question like a full-fledged professor with tenure. It is these expectations that explain the rising statistics of stress and depression among college students, who struggle to enjoy the journey when the enjoyment is sucked away by a series of statistics declaring their worth in the form of impersonal percentiles. As Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes once said, "I got 75% of the answers correct, and in today's society, doing something 75% right is outstanding! If government and industry were 75% competent, we'd be ecstatic! I won't stand for this artificial standard of performance!"

I mean, I get plenty stressed because of schoolwork, but I don't get stressed about learning. I love going on Wikipedia and mindlessly looking up random articles about the US-Korean War of 1871. I love studying the art of genre and its influence and effect on modern culture. I study my scriptures daily without any needling or prying from deadlines or gradebooks. When you shove me into the constraints of a classroom, however, things are different, and the pleasure I receive from making my own way is slaughtered by a Frankenstein made of tuition, test scores, and GPAs wielding the twin swords of unrealistic expectations and narrowness of thought.

Of course, I know some of you reading this actually like everything I've described in regards to standardization. I've known individuals who, quite sincerely, declare, "I like tests and GPAs!" I'm not saying such an attitude is impossible. However, people do not abruptly descend into ecstasy when their teacher declares a pop quiz. The statistics stand.

As it is, since the system won't change, I'm again finding reason to change myself. I was going to talk about that particular concept more today,* but before I could get to it, I got distracted by my own opinions.* 

So, while you wait for my follow-up, thank you for reading my rant! See you tomorrow!


*The original title of this post was going to be something like, Adversity: Changed Perspective. I will point out that my perspective on the opinions I've expressed above has never changed. Rather, my approach to dealing with my present frustrations has changed. I plan to write another blog post sometime in the next little while about this concept, with the below picture serving as the centerpiece.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday #11

Today's Throwback Thursday post comes to us from August 21 of last year.

I hadn't yet been blogging three months when I first traveled to BYU to begin my employment as a resident assistant. As part of my training, I participated in several team building exercises, including on the day when we journeyed to a nearby ropes course.

I'm quick to claim I'm the kind of person who attacks his fears head-on, a more recent addition to my psyche following my facing down a pitbull way back in Arizona at the beginning of my mission. Though my fear of dogs has more or less become a thing of the past, I still have several other fears to conquer, including heights. 

You'll notice I opted to take the more difficult route.



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Dance of Life (poem)

Psalms 150:4 - "Praise him with the timbrel and dance ..."

Slept through my clock, homework's on the line
I'm scramblin' for my socks 'cuz I'm out of time

With only two hours left, and five more are due
down my schedule will shift, filled with what to do

Do I read, do I write, do I go for a jog?
M&Ms are my breakfast, my brain is a fog

On top of my printer I forgot my paper
double back to retrieve, now I'm even later

But as I'm walking through the muddle and the mess
something's coursing through me like the Spirit's address

And it's all I can do just to match the beat
by steppin' and jumpin' and stompin' my feet

The crowd turns their eyes just to see me go
Shameless before mockery and woe

It's unacceptable to dance instead of walkin'
but our power to change is consumed by talkin'

So if he or she or they won't shut their mouths
I don't frankly care if they find me uncouth

(And I know those words don't traditionally rhyme
But if Tennyson can do it, then why not I?)

So the stress you're feelin' doesn't have to last
lift your head and catch the eyes of those you pass

Don't forget your urge to let it out
To express how you feel when you're feelin' proud

Of who you are, of what you did,
of how you've grown from a little kid

To be the best, and to own yourself
and to shove your fears back on the shelf

Up to the heavens release your cry
You've got all your life before you die

Don't give up, don't compromise
The stars ain't a limit, soar through the skies

Live your dreams and conquer the world
and loose your standard, don't let it furl

This and so much more is why I run
Erase from my dictionary that word 'done'

Because I'm not here to start, nor to finish
Victory nor defeat can my soul diminish

To find this hidden truth, you may have to scrub
through the grime of life, aye, there's the rub

But once you're there, I'm sure you'll find
my philosophy can be called far more than mine

So yes, I draw stares to my little dance
bu don't take my word, give it a chance

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pitching My Novel (Part 2 of 2)

John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."


... Finally, it was 8:45 am.

I was early to the Nebo (see pictures from yesterday!) to ensure one of two things: first, I wanted to make sure I didn't get waylaid by any or thing on the way over, and second, I had been studying the provided pictures of the representatives with whom I'd gained an audience. If I could, I wanted the chance to introduce myself before the actual pitch so as to leave a more lasting impression.

Some very cool advertising for a new series by J Scott Savage! Click here to check out his website!
Sure enough, my first contact arrived about ten minutes early. I wasn't sure how to approach her at first, so I was grateful when she conveniently crossed to my side of the hallway. I struck up a conversation about how long she'd been working for her company, what she liked about working there, if she was a writer herself, etc, and also discovered she's also attending BYU. Sweet!

With that, we were eventually both ushered into the room, I into the hot seat, and we discussed my query letter, novel concept, and if what I had before her had sparked any interest for her company. After my two dollars a minute were up, she handed me her card and kept my query.

The hallway for registration/central hub of the event.
The next representative was over an hour away, so I hung out in a panel or two until it was time for me to be anxiously engaged seeking a familiar face. I didn't have the same opportunity to hold a conversation with the second representative, but I was able to quickly introduce myself before I got in line behind everyone else.

The second meeting was different from the first, but I was totally fine with that because I got twice as much help. We focused a lot more on the query letter and on what defined my novel's genre than the first, but, again, following my two dollars a minute, I received a business card in turn.

The merchandise room. I was impressed with my own ability to not buy anything there, at least this year.
Both representatives recommended I submit my queries to their respective companies. There were no promises or anything of the sort from their end, but, according to my own understanding of what was discussed, both thought my concept had potential. Both wanted to read more. And though it'd be a miracle for lightening to strike at such a young age and with relatively so little attempts to publish on my part, I recognized the amazing blessing and experience I'd just had. As my sister put it later in the day, I got farther into the publishing world in one day than many writers do in their lifetimes.

The room of booths, for both writers and publishers.
The circumstances surrounding this opportunity were amazing. I was absolutely stunned that I received such a wonderful Valentine's Day gift, or early birthday present, rather. I recognized the Lord's hand in it, and made sure to offer several prayers of thanks before finally submitting my queries to those two companies. Time will tell if I'll leave an even better impression later, or if I'll have to strike out elsewhere. Either way, this was an opportunity I'll never forget.

Love you guys! See you tomorrow!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pitching My Novel (Part 1 of 2)

Galatians 6:10 - "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

This past Saturday I went to the LTUE symposium (Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium of Science Fiction and Fantasy).

At Toni Weisskopf's keynote address.
How did I get here? Well, let me tell you!

This past Sunday (like, the 8th), there was a ward choir performance during sacrament meeting. As it was, the choir was to meet together about thirty minutes early to practice. I had no idea such a meeting was to take place, and it was by complete accident that I met the one person who was aware of such a thing.

In the hallway following a panel.
I determined to go to the choir practice rather than eat a proper breakfast, and so bolted across the way. After the practice, I was still hungry, and with my recent adventures in low blood sugar in mind, I decided I needed something to eat before the services began. So, I went up to the vending machines (my ward meets in a building normally reserved for University and bought some cheap, sugary protein thing.

As I munched on, I decided to check out the various posters lining the walls around the vending machines. I was initially drawn to the devotional listings, but the longer I stayed, my eyes strayed to a poster for LTUE.

Pitch your novel! One of the hooks proclaimed.

I paused. Wait, WHAT?

The room where I eventually participated in my first pitch-or-crit session.
Though it was too late for me to register for the event online, I dropped the necessary cash to earn me an audience with two representatives from two different publishing companies. All week, I worked with my parents to write query letters and finalize some edits for the novel I wrote for November.

The front lobby of the Marriott hotel, wherein the event was held.
I woke up at 5:30 Saturday morning, read my scriptures, practiced my Capoeira, dressed in my best suit (my only suit. HA) and prayed. My own anxiety produced the most interesting of cognitive and physical churnings as I arrived at the event and prepared for my ten times 2 minutes of scrutiny. I wandered around, visiting panels and watching the clock for my 9:00am appointment.

Finally, it was 8:45 am ... 

(To be continued ...)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Puppet: The Whole Story

John 7:24 - "... but judge righteous judgment."

Yesterday, I went to go see a live action/puppet performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream with a friend of mine!

For those of you familiar with Shakespeare's original, the idea was that Puck and the mortal/fairy royalty were played by physical actors, while every other role was played by a cast of puppets, with wardrobe changes, even. The puppeteers themselves did a wonderful job, too, of course.


For those of you unfamiliar with the play, the story follows three principal groups (the troupe, the lovers, and the fairies) and their interactions with each other. The troupe is preparing to put on a performance for their monarchs, the lovers are naturally quarreling, and the fairies are mischieveously wreaking havoc upon the otherwise peacefulness of the evening. Throw in some magical herbs, a transmogrification, and a wall with lines, and you pretty much can imagine how nuts things got.

The thing is, the play itself only ran for an hour, which I presume is much shorter than the original. After all, the company was trying to make the performance accessible to children as well, which basically meant my friend and I failed to fully comprehend the full story. Neither of us were incredibly familiar with this particular segment of Shakespeare's work, and as such, we were subject to understanding the original based on the adaptation. As it was, my personal theory concerning the play was that Shakespeare wrote it to poke fun at Romeo and Juliet. It was almost as though previous audiences had complained of the downer double suicide, and so Shakespeare used the cloak of a completely different play to propose an alternate ending to the original.

Of course, there's a total chance that I got that impression simply because of the way the company performed it. I didn't have the complete story, and as such, couldn't really formulate an exact opinion. 

This got me thinking about how quick I was to land upon a theory without the full story (which, heretofore, I have yet to research), and how often I might do that in terms of my impressions of people, situations, and philosophies. There have been many times when I've ascribed possible motives to individuals' actions which may be completely erroneous. Yet, in my recent memory, I often internally declare my suspicions to be most correct, oftentimes leading me to less than optimal opinions.

My challenge to you all today is to make sure you, too, get the whole story before you make any uneducated assumptions. Of course, we can't always get everything, and there is a way to judge righteously, but do so while reminding yourself that we can't know everything about someone else.

Love you guys! See you for the Sunday Snapshot tomorrow! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Best Laid Plans: Board Game Night

Alma 12:33 - "But God did call upon men, in the name of his son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then I will have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son ..."

[edit] DISCLAIMER: In order to make the analogy I wanted to in this post, I had to use the mechanics of a board game with which very few people would be familiar. As it is, I tried to use as vague and easy-to-understand terms and concepts as possible. I apologize if I failed in making myself clear.

Wednesday night was board game night over at the manor house, my 'dorm away from dorm' as it may be. My bro and his roommates and I all got to playing the game Pandemic, wherein you work together as a team to cure all the diseases in the world before time runs out or everybody dies. I am sorry to report that everyone in the world died at least once, but we saved them the second time.

This wasn't the entire crew, but there you have 'em!

In the first game, it was the best laid plans falling through that eventually resulted in our crushing defeat. Our near defeat in the second game was also because our best laid plans didn't work out the way we'd hoped. Sometimes, the infection would spread in ways we didn't anticipate, forcing us to choose between which city at which we needed to treat the disease. As always, the game proved challenging and chaotic, and though we were gunning at the edge of our teeth, we ended up having a blast of a time.

As I left the manor house, I pondered how my life hasn't gone the way I anticipated or expected recently. I may be changing my major, I'm having two very important interviews this weekend that I only just organized this past Sunday, I haven't accomplished everything I wanted to following my mission ... and yet, these ups and downs and positives and negatives don't bother me. I find the impromptu nature of life to be part of what makes it so amazing, and even when I fail to accomplish certain things I originally expected, I take hope that those or greater things are yet to come.

My challenge for you today to is reflect back on the things you haven't yet accomplished that you still aim to, or even those things you've currently set aside. Think about the success you've had because you haven't yet found those initial ones. Then get out there and find some more!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday #10



Today's Throwback Thursday comes to us from August 11, 2014.

This post was written in the week just before I left for college. The topic therein is particularly fitting because I'm presenting it the week before Valentine's day. Back in the 'old days' of Change and Cherish, I was a little more introspective, and still had yet to solidify any proper tone in my blog writing. As it is, I was surprised when rereading at the post how forlorn I sounded. I don't remember being so, but as it is, the post reminded me that I need to be careful in my tone. After all, you readers want to leave this blog feeling uplifted, not downtrodden or even pity-filled!

Even so, the post certainly has its humor, and so, without further ado, click here to visit Putting the Ward in Singles!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

VLOG NOT BLOG?!?

Genesis 1:31 - "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good ..."

I didn't really want to try something new today, but, as the video explains, circumstances demanded otherwise, and I think it turned out all right. Rather than write out my thoughts from yesterday, here's me talking about them! Let me know what you think of the format in the comments below!


Don't mind this image placeholder. Don't mind it at all.




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Repentance: Fixed Computer

Isaiah 12:3 - "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."

A few days ago, I talked about how my computer broke and how I needed to send it out to get fixed.

Well, last night, I got it back again.


Of course, the linked post talked a lot about how life sometimes needs to be refreshed and considered. When I opened the box, I saw the company had given the casing a good cleaning. Start-up was smooth and flawless. While I reset my computer's settings and re-installed the software I'd lost, I thought about how my work was already going much more smoothly than it had been before. Yes, I'd had to take a few steps back. Yes, I'd had to put a lot of things on hold. But, in the end, the investment was worth it.*

So much like repentance. Repentance is painful, much like trying to troubleshoot a broken computer. It takes time, much like shipping a computer off to Texas. We may get frustrated. We have to call upon someone else for strength and guidance. However, no matter how thick and twisted the path is, we can always know that, in the end, we will be better off and better equipped to face this wide world ahead of us.

Love you guys! Before I log off, check this out ...

Look at those pageviews. I'm trying decide if I should be scared or not.
*Worth it, that is, barring any unforeseen problems the boys in the yard failed to fix.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Break-In: After All We Can Do

2 Nephi 25:23 - "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

A few nights ago, I was out working and roving with my friend when he mentioned he'd locked his keys in his car. He asked me if I knew how to break into a car in such a situation. I didn't, really, but I understood the theory of using an unraveled coat hanger to try and nick the lock. So, grabbing a couple, we ventured out to break into his car, forget how suspicious it looked.

Well, we tried everything. We wheedled. We needled. Three coat hangers laid slain in a mangled pile of bent metal. We touched the lock, but couldn't move it. We tried other doors. We even tried making like a TV show and having a tender moment so the lock would open up right when we made some headway.

Nothing.


Finally, once we'd exhausted all our options, one of us had the prescience to think to call campus police and see if they were trained in breaking into students' cars.

They were.

A very kind and patient officer came and, with our help, wedged the door open, air compressed it even farther, and even then couldn't use his metal rod to push up the lock. However, he was able to hook the keys, and triumphantly delivered them into my friend's eager hands.

Of course, my friend and I wouldn't have been able to take care of the car ourselves. We needed someone with more knowledge, wisdom, and capabilities to be able to free us. And yet, even though we'd ended up contributing very little, we both felt the raw elation of victory once all was said and done.

Amazing how that works sometimes. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Where You Are: Frustratingly Vague

1 Nephi 4:6 - "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."

Sometimes, I can't write about all I want to because of this thing called FERPA. My job requires that I maintain a vow of silence on certain things that go on around my home and workplace to protect the privacy of those around me.

So, as the title so eloquently states, this post will be frustratingly vague, but let me try to explain in as much possible detail as I can.

A series of horrible happenstance occurred over the week.

My computer died.

My professors dealt out a ton of homework.

I had a series of errands that conflicted with other responsibilities.

I forgot my phone charger.

I took this all in stride, of course, not worrying too much, just sloughing on with what I needed to do. However, all these factors combined, at the last, to put me into a specific hallway into a specific time right when I could be of the most help in a dire circumstance.


I have no doubt, now, that the Lord allowed me to experience all these happenstance not to punish, not to even necessarily teach me a lesson, but to guide me to where I needed to be.

My testimony to you today is that you, too, are being guided the same.

Godspeed, my friends. I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Prayer: DMV

Alma 34:20 - "Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks."

Once upon last August, Dad told me, "Son, you need to put the title of your car in your name, you need to get a new license, and you need to register it."

"Sure thing, Dad!" I said.

"So," Dad says to me last week. "Your Washington plates are supposed to expire soon. You done all that stuff I asked you yet?"

"No way, Dad!" I said.

So, yesterday, I purposefully woke up at the horrendous hour of 5:30am so I could be the first one at the DMV the following morning. I read my scriptures, I worked out, I showered, I brushed back my hair, and out the door I skedaddled. Most importantly, however, I asked Father that this excursion would not interfere with my other commitments in the day. I have a shift at 1:00, I said. Please help me have the time I need.

Despite my best efforts, I arrived second to the DMV. Respectfully tipping my head to the man who'd defeated me in scheduling combat, I proceeded to continue to read Jane Austen's Persuasion.

The doors eventually opened, and in we all went. There were only four of us at that time, so I was feeling pretty good when I received my number.

501.

WHAT COME ON

DING! My number popped up over someone's desk. Breathing a sigh of relief, I approached the desk.

"Ok, cool," the lady said after looking over my documents. "So, because you have an out-of-state license, you can't actually get a Utah one here. You'll have to go to the other side of Orem. Oh, and you haven't had your car inspected by the state? You'll need to do that as well before I can help you further. Be sure to come back when you're done!"

I stared at her.

I looked back at the mass of people now making a giant line out the door.

I cursed internally.

Leap! Into my car. Vroom! Across town. Vroom! Across another town. Screech! Into yet another DMV parking lot. Leap! Out of my car.

I ended up entering after a massive mass of people. When they all stopped to fill out forms, I smiled. I'd already filled one out before coming into the place.

Snap! Went the camera taking my picture. "Here's your number," the lady said.

347?!?

DING! My number popped up over someone's desk almost immediately. Breathing a sigh of relief, I bypassed all the individuals who presumably weren't exchanging out-of-state licenses.

The lady behind the counter was new, but someone was coaching her along. They were very friendly, and I thought they were the most wonderful people I'd ever met until the newbie said, "So you'll have to take a driving test today."

NOOOOOOooooooooooo

"Not for another two years," said the trainer. "See? His old Utah license doesn't expire until 2017."

YEEEEEEESSSSSS

Back to the car I sprinted, new paperwork in hand. As I drove back toward Provo, I called my favorite mechanic, the unironically-named "Honest-1 Auto Care."

"You guys do state inspections?"

"Ee-yup."

"Cool. See you soon!"

Striding into the place, I tossed my key over. "How long will this take?" I said, figuring several days if they were backlogged.

"Probably an hour or so."

YEEEEESSSSSSSSSS

I continued to read Persuasion. Persuastion continued to fail to persuade me of anything.

After an hour, the mechanic tossed my key back to me. I caught it and bolted out the door. Hopping into the driver's seat, and gunned it and turned my car toward the Provo DMV.

"I finished everything!" I told the guy giving out numbers. "I got a new license, I got a State inspection, I ..."

The number guy gave me a number, apparently not caring. Shrugging, I took a look.

19763?!?!?!?!?!!

DING! My number almost immediately appeared above someone's desk.

The lady took a long look at all my paperwork.

I started to sweat.

The lady took an even longer look at my paperwork.

I asked for a mop.

The lady took the longest look I've ever seen in my life.

I opted to stand in the bucket instead.

"You're all good to go!" she said. "Here are your new plates,"

I stared at them in awe.

Success!

And so, five minutes before 11:00am, three hours after I arrived at the Provo DMV to begin with, I found myself putting my new plates on.

He does answer! 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Poetry Contest Results: Little Light

  


This is in reference to this post (click here).

And so, without further ado, here was my entry.

Thespians don garb and face
And become another person
My own skills lack such purity
And they only seem to worsen

Artisans craft splendid works
Of oil, paints, and clay
My crude stick figure bears no life
Even ‘neath the smiling day

Composers draft grand overtures
For plethora of instruments
I wield a mistuned mandolin
And simple chords are intricate

Wordsmiths of yore would ink their quills
Pen thought and phrase divine
My ballpoint scratches dull loose-leaf
Words fit for naught but swine

Others, too, are born creators
From architects to chefs
If my life depend’t on matching such
I’d as soon march to my death

But for letting my light so shine
I will not face such circumstance
Though jack-of-all may be my fate
The Lord gave not my gifts by chance

And so while my light is dim
Nearly drowned out by the rest
I swallow fear, and grit my teeth
And praise Him with the rest

I block my scene, and block again
I draw with fervent zeal
I sing and play with best effort
I write my lengthy spiels

And confidence imbued in me
I continue with my story
With every step, with every tear
To God I give the glory

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

10 Virgins: A Modern-Day Take

Matthew 25:1 - "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins ..."

So, my Transatlantic Literay History class lasts for two hours every other day. This class has many pros and cons, the first of the latter being that you have to sit there for two hours straight. A pro is that it's for my major. A con is that this class is making me seriously reconsider my choice of major. A pro is that at least I'll know for what I'm not cut out. A con is that I may have to start all over on a different major.

GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF IS FUN.

Anyway, yesterday, I had breakfast a good three hours before this here class of mine, eating only a few bowls of cereal and a banana. I didn't think too much of it until our professors allowed us our usual three-minute break sometimes in the middle of class. As I walked out to stretch my legs, I could feel something rumblin' in my tumblin'.

Oh snap, I thought. The last time I'd felt that way, I'd had a low blood sugar reaction, ended up sweating all over my good suit and a few innocent by-standers, and gorged myself for the rest of the day with no signs of stopping.

If I just went and bought a bag of chips, it would tide myself over.

Eh, I can wait an hour.



The classroom discussion dragged me back into the twin topics of historical context and poetry, which I have identified as being the main reasons why I don't like this class right now (More on that later this week, probably). I was very fidgety. Not only was my body flashing warning signs that I needed food, and soon, I wanted to get to the part of the discussion where we talked about Nathaniel Hawthorne and his writings, his pieces being the only things that had at all captured me during the in-class readings.

But then, I felt it.

Like greasy slugs sliding out of a series of sewer pipes, my sweat glands began to expand, slowly allowing oozing beads of salty body water to creep onto my unprotected flesh. My stomach began to howl as these slugs dampened my armpits, releasing a distinct scent of man-musk into the air that permeated the air around me. Gasping, I felt my attention, divided though it had already been, devolve into a primal animal with naught but one word on the mind.

Food.

FOOD.

FOOD.

I leapt over my classmates and bolted out of the room, leaving all my possessions behind.

Like a ravenous giraffe, I stormed across campus, only moving barely fast enough to keep me from exerting any more energy than I needed to lest I expend too much and collapse before the end. Thankfully, there were few other animals in the Subway Forest, so I was able to quickly grab a six-inch. And a bag of chips. And a cookie. And a red creme soda. Before heading back to class.

By the time I arrived back at class, the very worst possible thing had occurred.

They'd discussed Nathaniel Hawthorne without me.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Smile Rap (POEM)

3 Nephi 19:30 - "And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again ..."

Note: I wasn't feeling going traditional today, so I wrote this with a song/rap in mind, as opposed to a traditional poem containing proper, consistent meter. Under different circumstances, I would actually film my imagined rendition for today, but given the business of the day, look for that later this month!

I see your grump face
not that out of place
here in the rat race
but just in case

Just thought I'd tell you
and your fellows too
what you all should do
when bad comes for you

You see, my computer is dead
Got an achy head
Hours since I been fed
Prospects are fled

I just want to complain
and complain again
But if I so refrain
Then misery will reign

So I grit my teeth
Suck in my gut
Throw on my jams
Forget the rut

When the rhythm and the beat
goes and gets me pumpin'
It's all I can do
just to keep from jumpin'

And then I smile
At everyone
I smile
Just for fun
Holdin' doors open
with widened grin
I got a light
don't keep it in
I smile
For you

(Scat)

Everybody always goin' on
about what's goin' on
war death hunger
pestilience famine

There's things we can't control
But if I can be so bold
and shout a message old
from pole to pole

Stuff may be up and happenin'
It don't look close to stappenin'

But the girl over there with the tired eyes
The guy back there lookin' fit to fry
The woman mustering a quiet sigh
The man over here just about to cry
These folks deserve more, like you and I
And there's something we can do before they pass us by
So up with me and sing this war cry

So then we smile
At everyone
We smile
Just for fun
Present our mirth
with widened smirk
Cherish the things
we knew from birth
We smile
For them

(Scat)

Some of them will scoff at us
some of them will just mock us
But they can't take the wheels off our happy bus
As we spread what we got amid their fuss

The weary, sad, and downtrodden
The angry, weak, tears ducts sodden
Will climb the cliff that they've fallen
And away their fears, forgotten

And on, away, with our pleasant march
Feelin' as fresh as laundry starch
We'll take this world by flame and storm
Cuz we're all just glad that we been born

You have the power to change your mood
Fight off the world, step back from crude
Don't be just like some simple dude
And take my advice, simple and shrewd

You gotta smile
At everyone
Just smile
Even for fun
There ain't no thing
can get you down
If you shoulder up
and wipe that frown
Just smile
For you