Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fighting Back: Ill Week

Since I returned from my mission, there have been few illnesses that have literally kept me from accomplishing the things I need to do. As it is, I have missed most of my classes the past two days. I probably would have missed all of them were it not for the RA appreciation party held today, for which I only dragged myself out of bed for two reasons. 

First, I'd made a promise I'd be there. 

Second, I needed to eat something, a simple task I hadn't completed for nearly eighteen hours. 

Thankfully, I managed to drug myself enough beforehand that I felt almost normal, but even as I write this post now, I feel the brunt returning.

Regardless, though I'm not feeling as peachy keen as I want, I have used what little free time I allow myself to maintain the gifts God has given me. 

I still haven't missed a blog post, not from yesterday, not today. 

I am nearly done with the sixth digitized volume of my mission journal.

I haven't failed to turn in any daily assignments.

I even managed to improve my aptitude with my favorite musical instruments, including the Melodica down below.

Yes, being sick has given me an excuse to slack off, and, to be honest, I've enjoyed that to a certain extent. However, I haven't let the sickness define me. I am still being the best I am, no matter what, even seeking to serve those around me when given the chance. And as I do so, I know I will feel all the more stronger.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Weak Things (Poem)

Ether 12:27 - "... for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Do you remember the time
when I stumbled at the last?
A failure over a success,
opportunity barely passed.

Funny how when that happens
I seem to think it's only me.
That others next and just beside
find only victory.

Even if my next-door neighbor
triumphs in what I don't,
I can at least be assured
in all that I have sown.

In some things, I am weak.
The difference, I am strong.
And with my strengths, I'll have
the chance to help others along.

So if I trip or fall, I will
now pledge to rise again.
Just because I bruised my knees
doesn't mean it's over with.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fellow Children: Date Night

Job 38:7 - "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Last night, I went on a triple threat, triple date with some of my closest friends and some near strangers.

It was fascinating to me how quickly the entire group bonded. Some of us already knew each other, to be sure, but we'd never hung out with that specific group dynamic before. Regardless, we all very naturally entered the setting with a certain excitement and grace that removed any and all anxieties. By the end, even though I still didn't know everyone on the same personal level, I felt I could easily call everyone my friend.

This got me thinking about how, spiritually, we all knew each other 'back in the day,' when we chose to follow Jesus Christ in the pre-mortal existence. Sometimes, I meet someone for the first time, and we hit it off instantly. Meeting people like that is like seeing an old friend, someone who I've already known for quite some time. Some people wave this off as mere coincidence or some psychological miscommunication, but I believe it's because the person is an old friend. They're just someone we don't know.

Everyone we meet is a lot like us in ways we may not be able to immediately recognize. We knew each other. We loved each other. We cared for each other, and we can continue to build upon what we already have.

So get on out there! Make some 'new' friends today!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Not Far Behind: ASL Club

Doctrine and Covenants 101.65 - "... when I shall come in the kingdom of my Father to reward every man according as his work shall be ..."

I went to ASL club this past Wednesday as part of my class work. The presidency in charge of the club explained to us that we would be playing a game. The contest began when the person in charge gave the club at large a hand shape. The object of the game was to toss a ball to the various members of a smaller group. Each time someone caught the ball, they had to present a previously unsigned word with that beginning hand shape in mind. Eventually, someone would turn out the lights, and whoever still had the ball in hand was out of the game.

I sometimes struggle in learning ASL. I sometimes feel like I'm the only one who didn't 'get' something, and there are many aspects of the language in which I still feel inadequate even for my level.

As I participated in the club, however, I quickly discovered I am not as far behind everyone else as I thought. To begin with, I was one of about half of the people in our group who understood the instructions straight from the presidency, and had the opportunity to try and explain. I was able to remain in the game the entire time, even as I noticed some of my fellow students struggling with the same things I do.

Perhaps sitting in the front of class keeps me from fully comprehending my fellows' confusion, but one thing is for sure.

Sometimes, we feel like we're so far behind everyone else, that they're more prepared than us, that they're more capable of trials than us. It's hard to really know how we're doing in comparison to everyone else. I promise you that you're not trailing as far as you think. God gives us the strength to push and overcome anything, and I know for certain that, so long as we're putting in that sincere effort, we'll be fine in the end.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday #15

Today's Throwback comes to us from September 7 of last year.

Many of you are fully aware that I belong to a wide variety of different fan bases. Many of you are also aware that I try my best not to define myself by my fan bases. AKA, playing DnD is something I do, not something I am. I would more or less be the same person if that activity somehow completely vanished from my life.

I think the first time I ever really thought about this conclusion was on this day, the day I met Brandon Sanderson and Gollum and a whole heap of other interesting characters. Shoot, it may have even been this day when I first formulated these opinions.

Either way, I'm fully aware I reveal my geeky side quite frequently throughout these blog posts, so if you want to more about what I think about that, click here to visit SLCC: Finding a Place!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Enjoy to the End: The Final Stretch

I was actually reminded yesterday that I never followed up on that with you guys. So, here ya go!

One of the toughest things I have to accomplish in the upcoming weeks is maintaining the standards for myself I owned from the beginning of the year. I'm coming out of a weekend of abject laziness, stricken by a contagious Springtime, but my life has been trucking on regardless. I have fourteen credits of exams for which to prepare. I have an increasing amount of responsibilities at work.* I have goals for myself, including keeping up on this blog, that I want to complete.

However, as the Preacher so eloquently states in the above scripture, it isn't yet time for me to fully relax. I'll have that opportunity over the summer, when I, hypothetically, gain ten extra hours of free time and twenty hours of structured employment. Now, it's time to endure to the end. Shoot, it's time for me to enjoy to the end.

And, of course, I send that right back at you. No matter how difficult it becomes to focus in the midst of the season's volatile ascension, don't give up! Don't faint! You're doing great!

*It is especially important for me to magnify these responsibilities considering that, while my position is changing, my employer will not.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Influence of Friends: Long-Lasting Dominion

I have lived a lot of places in my life. If you count Parishes like I do States, then, in order, I have lived in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Arizona, St. James, Clarendon, St. Catherine, Portland, Washington, and Utah again.*

Everywhere I go, with the possible exceptions of Indiana and Ohio because I barely remember them, I have been influenced and nourished by people who care about and love me unconditionally. Some of the greatest lessons I've ever learned in life have been because of the care others have shown unto me.

Yesterday, completely out of the blue, members of a beloved family from my North Carolina years called me up. We ended up spending a couple of hours together, reminiscing and catching up and enjoying each others' company. As the minutes all-too-quickly whisked away, I silently recalled moments when each individual present had changed my perspective on life, even when they had simply led through their quiet example. I doubt they'd even remember those moments themselves, but I still do. And I didn't even visit with the entire set, either!

 If I have anything to say from yesterday, I want to remind you that you are making a difference. You, too, have friends you are influencing for good daily, and you don't even know the extent. You may not be able to tell, and you may feel you are wasting your time sometimes, but you are where you need to be for some grand eternal reason. I know that.

I can promise you that.

Love you all! See you tomorrow!

*For posterity's sake, in years, that's 1.5; 1.5; 9; 6; 0.75; 0.16; 0.25; 0.375; 0.375; 0.375; 0.75; 0.16; 0.75. Give or take a month or two.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Health in Spirit and Might: 3v3 B-Ball Tourney

At the end of last semester, if I had wanted to do anything remotely physically demanding, I would have had to take frequent breaks to blow my lungs out trying to gasp in as much air as possible. Thankfully, now that I've been teaching myself Capoeira and doing a better job keeping to the Lord's code of health, I was able to have some serious fun this past weekend, even including a 'lay-zor taeg' throwdown.

I hosted a 3v3 B-Ball tournament right outside my dorm complex. The rules were simple: Ones and twos, first to 11 with a two point lead, or fifteen minutes.

Going around to see which teams had signed up, I was disappointed to discover very few had. As I compared who'd signed up for what, however, I started to chuckle when I realized two of the three teams had both put down their team name as 'Buckets.'

When the third team showed up, they discovered the two Buckets teams had begun a righteous feud over which team was superior and therefore deserved the right to the name. After some careful consideration, this third team, which was as of yet unnamed, decided to name themselves Los Buckets.

Enough individuals sans a team showed up that we were able to form two more teams. I organized the first and dubbed it, "May Hall's Cool Team for Attractive People." The last was a group of three RAs, including myself. Since the bracket made more sense with four teams, we the RA team decided to declare ourselves the reigning champions from last year. Thus, we became known as 'Reigning Buckets.' Whoever won the whole thing had the opportunity to face us to contend for the title.

And thus, we began the double elimination.

'Attractive People' were the first to fall, followed by the second team of Buckets. Los Buckets and the remaining Buckets had each played two or three games. Los Buckets had defeated Buckets the first time, but in a controversial move, Buckets called in a fresh substitute after their third had to leave, leading them to outright victory in the final.

Then, it was the RAs' turn.

We three were feeling relatively cocky. We'd barely played all day, which meant we were fresh. Sure, we hadn't worked out team unity or had as much practice or warmed up, but we were a lot less tired than our opponents. We had it.

We lost!

Thus, Buckets defeated Los Buckets, Attractive People, Reigning Buckets, and Buckets in a grueling 3v3 tourney. It was epic.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Prodigal Ducks

Luke 15:20 - "... But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."

Just a few days ago, the residence halls became aware of  a couple of visitors wandering around like they owned the place.

I couldn't help but chuckle as I watched a few of the residents try to catch them. I was aware of the near futility of such a task, having owned domesticated ducks before, which were hard enough to catch on their own. Catching wild ducks is a much more dangerous game.

Anyway, as I watched the antics, I thought about from where the ducks might have come. There is a duck pond on the South side of campus, and I figured these ducks made some sort of migration from there. Why would you do that, ducks? I thought. You were safe and sound where you were. You had food and shelter and comfort. Now you're here, being chased around by two-legs, for what?

Of course, that's how I am sometimes. Whenever my life is going good and great, and there's nothing else I really need or even want, my ability to recognize what I have is greatly diminished. Sometimes, I end up straying away from the safety the Gospel offers me and end up being chased around by two-legs.

I know that when we stay true to the Gospel, when we do our best to follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will be happy. The burdens in our lives will be made that much lighter. I know that. And I invite you to find out, too.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Relaxation: Bum Day

I pretty much did nothing yesterday,

I wasn't feeling well, and couldn't convince myself to get up and do anything. 

So, I didn't.

Most everything I needed or could have done went undone. My room remained a mess. My classes were unattended. My homework was virtually untouched. My novel was unwritten. I was just grateful it was a Thursday so I could throw down a Throwback real quick and move on. I felt well enough to drag myself to a commitment in the evening, but that was it.

And it was OK.

It was kind of nice not having to really worry about anything. I just did what I wanted, and that was enough. Looking back, what with all the commitments and plans I make for myself, I rarely have a day to just sit and think and not worry about what's stressing me.

Sure, I have a paper due in about three hours. I took a break from that to work on this, and once my ax is sharpened, back into the fray I'll go. Me taking a break obviously didn't get rid of all my problems, but, at the very least, it gave me the chance to reflect on how busy I make life, and how I need to give myself more time to slow down.

How about you? Is your life too busy to handle sometimes? Be sure to comment below!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday #14

Today's Throwback Thursday comes to us from September 4 of last year.

This post is unique for three reasons. First, rather than sticking to the comments section, I directly interact with one of my readers in the body of the post itself. Second, I get a little meta in that I wrote a blog post about ... writing a blog ... post. Third, this post is still relevant!

Even today, I more or less follow the same pattern I described in this post, though Throwback Thursdays are always a little different than the norm, for obvious reasons. Regardless, if you want to know what I do every day to make these wonderful tidbits of awesomesness, click here to read The Process: How I construct my blog posts!

Getting your game face on is the most important part.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Met a Man as Different (Poem)

Psalms 82:6 - "... all of you are children of the most High."

I met a man as different from me
as a different man can be,
and as we walked down the same path,
we found the other hard to please.

While he was wide, I was not.
He'd shun new things, I'd give a shot.
When he would talk, I'd save my thoughts.
He'd avoid traps, and I'd be caught.

Where he was short, I was tall.
He liked to watch, I liked to call.
When he would run, I'd rather crawl.
He'd turn back, I would climb the wall.

He'd study books, I'd study my looks.
He could not cast, our lunch I'd hook.
He'd quickly dine on what I cooked.
He'd brave danger when I was shook.

He wanted left, I wanted right.
He slept at night, I slept in light.
He'd stop for breaks, I'd stop for sights.
He sued for peace, I wanted a fight.

I presently addressed this man.
"Why can't you do as I do? Can
it be that hard to be as I?
Stop being different. Can't you try?"

The man pondered, and then he said,
"What thoughts upon this track have led?
You've missed the point of how to start
and why we're here and where we are.

 "If we were same, then we'd both be
lying lost back some leagues, or three.
The strengths you have are not my own
they complement mine, so we're not alone.

"Where you are strong, I am weak.
Where you are brash, then I am meek.
Where you are weak, I am strong,
and, together, we've gone this far along.

"We may grind each others' gears
but we've helped to conquer all our fears.
And now we've triumphed over all
I call you friend, through rise or fall."

That man, my friend, taught me that day
that difference is a form of strength,
yet still, as I pass people by,
I struggle to see through their eyes.

It's easy to assume the worst,
guess where they'd come from very first.
Assume their choices led them where
they stand when to their face I stare.

So many things beyond my sphere,
and when I guess, I am not near,
for the path of life is full of holes.
When in one we fall, emerge less than whole.

But if we, as humans, are broken
just in different ways,
bearing our own tokens
through the heat and grime of days.

Then difference is a blessing
nary consequence or curse
and whether choice or circumstance 
has led us from our birth

forego the rapid judgments so
prevalent in man.
Tear aside curtain of row
and declare that you can.

Can? Can what? Well, that's up to you.
Release all care, be born anew
View your fellows through the eyes of God
and watch the world unfold so broad.

I have a friend as different from me
as a different friend can be,
and as we continue down the path,
in our company, we are pleased.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Finding Success: Capoeira-Inspired Smackdown (VIDEO)

Alma 31:34 - "O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success ..."

For those of you a little behind on my blog's ever-burgeoning archive, my current six-credit English class, as I've discussed in this post, here, is a pretty big ... well, I don't want to say 'stumbling-block' or 'trial,' but I've struggled in it so much, I had a brief stint wherein I thought I might want to give up on the major completely.

Thankfully, a few weeks ago, I made a decision, as so outlined in this post, here, and I've been working a lot harder in the class, reaping as much enjoyment as I can instead of just writing it off as being completely irrelevant or boring.

In the aforementioned post, I talked about changing perspective and how it makes things more bearable.

Now, I can promise you that changing your perspective brings SUCCESS.

So go on! If you haven't taken my challenge from the last post seriously, then start today!

A little bit of Capoeira-inspired dance moves for ya.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Perfection: Firing Range

Moroni 6:8 - "But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven."

Once upon a time, in a jungle far, far away, my mission friend and I were talking on the phone.

"Hey, Elder," said my mission friend. "One day, I'm going to teach you how to shoot a gun."

"Hey, that sounds fun!" I said. "I certainly wouldn't be able to find anyone better suited for the task, either."

"Before we do that, though, I have a concern," my mission friend said. "After we go shooting, you're going to want to blog about it."

"I will?" I wasn't aware I was even going to start a blog.

"You will. And you'll never actually mention me by name in the body of the post's text. No, you'll reserve that in the social media you'll use to promote the post."

I was confused. "What are you talking about?"

My mission friend continued on, not directly answering my question. "Now, I understand you never use individuals' specific names in your posts because you want to maintain a universality in your tone and language, but doesn't that drive you bonkers trying to maintain a level of continuity simple enough for your readership to follow?"

My mind was churning. I blurted my response. "WHAT?"

"Oh, sorry, I fell alseep," he said slowly. "What were we talking about again? Oh, right. I'm going to teach you how to shoot a gun."

About a year and a half later, he and his fiance met up with me to do just that: go shooting. Funny how he predicted the blog thing, too.

Shooting a Ruger P95 9x19 at 'combat range.'

Shooting a Winchester 70 .270 WIN.
Mis amigoes were incredibly kind and helpful, even when I made a few laughable shots. Of the three targets I shot at all by my lonesome, I only hit the red bulls-eye twice. My mission friend wasn't worried, though. "Look," he said. "You have a good spread, so if you were in a serious combat situation, you still would have killed your target." He concluded with these words of wisdom: "It matters less that you hit right where you're aiming, so long as you hit something."

That's true of life. We simply aren't ever going to be exactly where we want to be, at least in regards to the big picture, even up to when we finally pass away. There will always be something out of place, even if it's just enough to help remind us of the Savior's grace. The most important thing to remember from all of this, though, is that it is OK. We won't find perfection yet, but as we work to improve, we can come close. I know we can.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Prayer: Reunion at Dickey's

Matthew 28:20 - "... and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

The legendary tripanionship of Montego Bay 2013, had the opportunity to reunite at a Barbecue pit yesterday. It was super awesome!

And a Fiance makes four!
I was all dressed up for my job interview, which was happening literally immediately following our lunch together. As it was, I was far overdressed for the occasion, and was subjected to some mild ribbings from the crowd at large. I took it all in good stride, of course, until one of my mates pointed out, "So, you're all dressed up, but forgot to shave, huh?"


Oh shoot.

I'd forgotten to shave!

The description for the job included, of course, the stipulation that all employees follow the honor code of the school at all times, including, but not limited to, being clean-shaven. There I was, all ready to head out for my interview, and I looked wholly out of place.

I could have left the reunion earlier than planned, but, come on. Bros before pesos. As I careened through the streets of Provo-Orem, I contemplated running up to my room, grabbing my electric shaver, and doing the job on the way over. However, I immediately recognized that I would be late if I so did. Sighing, I decided punctuality was more important than clean-shavenness. Before I went in, I prayed that, whatever happened, it would be for the best.

About halfway through the interview, the interviewers asked me about my greatest strengths and weaknesses.

I smiled.

An opportunity to play on my hygienic faux pas had come to fruition.

"Well, one of my strengths is that I am very open and quick to admit my mistakes. One of my weaknesses is that I often forget to pay attention to detail." I winked and rubbed my chin. "For example, as you can see, I forgot to shave this morning."

The interviewers all laughed. "I didn't even notice!" one said.

If that wasn't an answer to prayer, I don't know what is, Barbecue with friends probably didn't hurt, either.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Branching Out: Dudes at Zumba Night (VIDEO)

Doctrine and Covenants 105:10 - "That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands."

As most of you know, I've been teaching myself Capoeira, or Brazilian Dance-Fighting, since the beginning of the year. I chose to learn Capoeira specifically for several reasons: first, so I could structure an actually fun workout, and second, so I could improve my ability to dance.

I've always been fascinated by dancers and the like, and have gone on many dates with various such individuals. I figured that, if I wanted to impress a dancer, I needed to improve my own game in that. This is why, when I was researching different workout disciplines, Zumba crossed my mind as a possibility.

When I heard residence life was throwing a Zumba night down, I figured, Hey, why not see what I missed? As I later explained to my friends my intentions to go to the event, however, my best mate scorned me. "Man, Zumba's so ... girly!" He couldn't see why I would want to try it out, and refused my invitation to join me.

Our conversation meandered around for a while until we got into a thinkjoust over who was more in touch with their feminine side. After we, as a group, concluded that I am far more in touch with my feminine side than my best mate. He was flustered. "No way," he said.

"All right, then," I said. "I'll give you a chance to prove you're more in touch than I am."


I leaned in, my eyes going wild. "Come with me to Zumba night."

Zing! The hook was set.

And so off we went.

Even though both of us felt incredibly ridiculous and mostly out of place, we had a blast. Well, at least I did. He at least found it passable.

As I chowed down on my yogurt, I contemplated a newfound desire to try more new things, even daily. With the world as wide as it is, it's impossible to experience everything, but, step-by-step, as I grasp hold of what I do--even when I'm trying something as simple as Zumba--I begin to understand my fellow spirit siblings just a little bit better, and then, understand God just a little bit better.

But don't take my word for it. Go on yourself! As for me, well, I wasn't done sweating yet, so I'mma get back to it. Ready?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday #13

This Throwback Thursday post comes from September 3 of last year.

As we continue our weekly review of my past, you'll notice, at this point, my ability to name my posts was still dormant. More importantly, you'll also notice we're slowly leaving the cut-and-dry format from the beginning of Change and Cherish and escaping into the loose style with which you're likely more familiar.

Still, though today's featured post is very different from the original posts, as you read, you'll notice that, while I don't necessarily discuss something I wanted to change in that particular day, I still wrote about something I wish I'd changed. In addition, I also wrote about something I'd certainly chosen to cherish in regards to my new life, which was in and of itself a drastic change from either my mission to Jamaica or my superseding two months at home.

But don't take my word for it! Click here to read Yer a Cougar, Harry!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Overcoming Mistakes: Culinary Disaster

1 Samuel 26:21 - "... behold, I have played the fool, and erred exceedingly."

I went to go crash my friend's place so I could bother her and her boyfriend, who just happens to be my best mate. They were busy making dinner, and asked me if I wanted any. I did, and so volunteered to help out.

I was handed a box of potatoes (yes, a box) and asked to follow the recipe printed on the back. "I trust Zac to make something from a box," my mate said. Little did he know that many others, including my own mother, have trusted me with such a responsibility. These same have quickly learned the folly behind such a conclusion.

I started out really well. I mixed everything up in the order it was supposed to be. I even caught myself when I was about to put the Parmesan into the mix instead of the special sauce. I realized I'd completely forgotten to warm up the oven, but, thankfully, my friend had already done it for me. I was set. This time, I thought, someone's trust in me regarding uncooked boxed dinners will be rewarded.

I threw the pan into the oven and set a timer. When it went off, I dutifully leapt up, pulled the pan out of the oven, sprinkled the Parmesan onto the dish, and smiled. HA! I did it! Someone turned off the oven for me, and I was set.

But then I looked at the directions again.

"After you finish sprinkling the Parmesan, be sure to put the dish in for another five minutes."

ARGH! I'd forgotten to do that! And now the oven was getting cold! As was the dish, which could have been in and out in just a few seconds! Get a grip, I thought to myself. Just put it back in, set the timer for six minutes, and you'll be fine.

So, I did that. Well, actually, I didn't. Instead of setting a timer, I just decided to remind myself to take the dish out at 10:05, exactly six minutes after I put it in. Throwing myself onto the couch, I delved into a webcomic.

"Hey," my mate said after a bit. "Weren't you supposed to take that out?"

"Huh?" I looked at my phone.


"Biscuits and gravy!" I swore, leaping to my feet and surgically extracting the potatoes from the internal inferno. The potatoes were crisp around the edges. So crisp, they were practically black. I sighed. Well, maybe it won't be that bad.

And it wasn't!

Despite everything, the meal was really good, and the potatoes even passable. As I savored the taste in my mouth, I thought about how the many mistakes I'd made hadn't really set me back in the long run. Sure, each mistake had seemed like a minor crisis when I'd blundered into them, but, in the end, I still had a delicious dish I could feel proud enough to share.

"I like these potatoes," I said aloud to my mates. "They're particularly crisp. Good thing I totally meant to keep them in the oven longer than they were supposed to be."

They responded with some withering stares.

Regardless, my challenge to you all today is to not fret about the mistakes you make. If we just pick ourselves up and continue forward, then the negative impact these mistakes have on our lives is greatly reduced. The greatest consequence I reaped from my baking mistakes came from the stress I incurred from getting all worried about them. I saw that Monday, I saw that yesterday, and that's why I'm telling you today.  

So get out there, mon! No worries!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gratitude: Messy Room, Messy Day

Alma 34:38 - "...in whatsoever place ye may be ... live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."




The past couple of days were just ridiculous. 

This picture provides evidence for such a claim.
Yesterday, I had a scheduled test, a paper, and a whole heap of readings all due before my 1:00 PM class. On Saturday, I spent the little free time I had studying up for the test, for which I still felt wholly unprepared. On Sunday, I generally try not to do homework, which I really didn't have time for, anyway, considering I had my five-hour work shift that day. As it was, once midnight struck the beginning of Monday, I tried a desperate gambit.

I decided to stay up all night.

The test was the first priority. Not only is it the largest portion of my grade, I'd scheduled it at 8:00 the following morning. So, for several long, grueling hours, I slaved over the flashcards I'd made, trying to cram in as much information as possible. By the time 4:00 AM rolled around, I still barely felt like I'd retained anything, and I was exhausted. I could not stay awake for another moment.

This is all right, I thought to myself as I set my alarm, pulled my blankets off my bed, and collapsed on the floor. REM cycles are three hours each, so I'll get one in before I wake up around 7:00 AM tomorrow. My mind shut down mere seconds later.

I woke with a start. Something was wrong. I scrambled for my phone and checked the time.

8:34 AM.

I'd missed my test.

Crying out with shock and frustration, I collapsed back onto the floor. What do I do? All that studying, all that time, for nothing! I have a zero now! A zero on a large  portion of my grade?

Thankfully, clarity struck me. Maybe not all the time slots are filled up. If you go and check the online registration system, perhaps you'll be able to find an open test time, or maybe you'll be able to appeal to the employee running check-ins.

Grunting, I threw on some clothes and a beanie and headed out the door.

To my great relief, I discovered there was still a time slot conveniently open mere minutes away from when I arrived at the testing center. Quickly claiming the time slot, I went in and took the test. Time will tell if I did well, but I felt confident at the conclusion.

After I finished my paper and readings in favor of cleaning up my messes or even showering, I hit the road to go to my 1 o'clock. I struggled to maintain coherency throughout, and had to be woken at least once by a fellow classmate, but I managed to contribute to the discussion a couple of times.  I even decided I was awake enough to go to my ASL class. Finally, I went home, hit the sack, and dozed for six or so hours.

When I woke up, it was to a mess. I had unceremoniously dropped laundry to the floor in fits of pure sleep deprivation. Vending machine wrappers, which had once contained my breakfasts and dinners, littered even my desk. My textbooks were heavily underfoot, and everything else was just in extreme disarray.

As I spent the hours before and after midnight cleaning up the mess I'd made, I realized I'd never properly thanked Father for throwing me the many bones he had, especially in regards to when I was still able to take my scheduled test. I woke bolt upright right when I needed to, and I can't help but feel that wasn't through any foresight or skill on my part. And that's not even counting the fact that I was able to finish my paper and stay awake in class and even find and have the time to sleep in the afternoon.

I know that the Lord is willing to help us, especially when we look to him in a spirit of gratitude. I saw that in every step I took yesterday, right up to when I finally went to sleep around 3:00 AM this very morning. Ah, bliss.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reminding Light: Moon and Sun

Psalms 22:1 - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?"

I was out roving for my work yesterday, and I couldn't help but appreciate the moon as it rose over the landscape, peeking out from behind the mountains like an eager kitten wanting to play.

Alas, my camera's quality.
It is truly difficult to fully appreciate the moon when the lights of civilization are constantly fighting to drown it out. As I wandered, I couldn't help but feel a bit frustrated by mankind's need to shoo away the darkness as much as it does. Headlights, street lights, windows, parking lots, all were lit up in their own little spheres, keeping the moon from revealing its light completely.

But I saw it. And I couldn't help thinking about what a comfort the moon must have been way back in the beginning. When the earth turned away from the sun, casting the landscape into greater darkness, the Lord provided a lesser light to still provide a constant visual.

Of course, there is always a lesson in all things. The importance of the moon is only further illustrated by the fact that the light it offers is bounced off the sun in the first place. So, even when darkness surrounded our early progenitors, the sun still provided them a light. And yes, I know how phases work. Every month, the moon would lose its vibrancy and eventually disappear altogether.

Again, this was a reminder. In the same way, we need and can be benefited by the Son at all times. The absence of the moon is a brilliant way to remind each of us what we're missing when we don't have the Son in our lives.

So, I appreciated the moon for reminding me how much I need both sun and Son. It seemed even more beautiful that way.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Calm Resplendent: Relaxation Failure

Luke 8:24 - "And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm."

I have a problem.

It's not a bad problem, to be sure, but it's a problem. I just can't relax.

It's true! Yesterday, I went home after a long day of study and all that, and figured, hey, I've been working hard all week, I've been productive today, why don't I just sit down and watch some TV?

So, I did. 

For five whole minutes. 

Then I split the screen, putting Netflix on one side and pulling up the document for my journal on the other. I began to type away, my attention jumping from side to side depending on how interesting Netflix was proving.

All right, so I said it was a problem, but honestly, it's a good thing as well. I seem to have successfully conditioned myself to regularly push forward in regards to what motivates and drives me. 

After all, my schoolwork is consistently completed and turned in on time. My personal projects, while occasionally set aside in favor of my aforementioned education, are never fully abandoned. For the most part, I daily accomplish something in each of my focuses, those being my scripture studies, my capoeira training/conditioning, my journal digitizing, my novel writing, my English/ASL/D+C/RA homework/assignments, and, yes, even my blog.

In the end, though, whenever and however I'm trying to let my light so shine, I feel that the Lord is pleased. Many of my interests and skills were gifts from Him, and when I spend even seconds of my downtime trying to bless and uplift even just one person, it is all worth it. And even when I am overwhelming myself in my own self-imposed deadlines, the Lord helps calm my soul.

So! What are you going to accomplish today? Be sure to comment below! Always comment below! I love talking to ya!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Perspective: Early Morning Temple Trip

Isaiah 2:2 - "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be establish in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it."

I went to the temple early yesterday morning to go through a session.

Something about the experience was incredibly soothing for me. Any stress I was feeling was ebbed away even while I was simply preparing to leave. My perspective on certain things changed for the better as well. Some things seemed more important. Other things seemed less important. Interestingly enough, even separate aspects of specific facets of my life experienced changes in perspective in completely different directions.

As I walked away a few hours later, I recognized how much my spirit had craved that simple act, that chance to serve in the Lord's house and provide Him what small act of service I could. In many ways, this week has proven to be the beginning of a small, yet nonetheless new, chapter in my life, and reviewing that fresh page with a trip to the House of the Lord only filled me with greater peace.

Your turn!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday #12

Today's Throwback Thursday post comes from August 26 of last year.

Looking back on those first three months of my blog, it's quite easy to see how things have changed from the beginning. For one thing, my eventual decision to separate paragraphs by a line certainly added to the aesthetic appeal of the individual posts. For another thing, I believe my writing style has improved tremendously. Finally, because I've settled into my life over here, I don't write so often about having 'new' experiences, unlike in this featured post.

Working the Corkscrew, however, is super sweet, mainly because I, yes, I made that thing I'm holding (so cool!), but also because the post contains an inspiring message about overcoming hurdles. And yes, this post was written in the dark ages of my titling skills, so I apologize if the title isn't very informative. But trust me! The body is perfect!

Click here to read Working the Corkscrew!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

End in Sight: Snow Storm

Matthew 14:25 - "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea."

When it came time for me to finally leave my warm, cozy apartment yesterday morning, my gold-and-white hoodie turned absolutely blue the instant I stepped out into the snow storm that had billowed up from the depths.

Seeing as how I have yet to fully adjust from the tropical climate Jamaica afforded me for two years, this frozen hell-water only served to remove my capacity to walk, talk, think, or, really, verb in any normal sense of the word (Or words, as it may be). No, any and all verbs were quickly replaced by the singular, all-encompassing verb of shiver.

I shivered to my classes. I shivered to my professors. I shivered notes. I shivered food. I was quite shivered with shivering by the time I shivered my classes for the day. Oh, blimy, I shivered to myself as I shivered to shiver the last building. One more shiver, through the storm, and I'll be done.

I shivered outside.

The snow had melted.

I stared at everything for a few seconds. Well, what the mongoose was I shivering all this time for? I thought.

In a matter of hours, all the snow had gone. All that was left was an incredibly damp feeling that persisted throughout the rest of my day, prompting no complaints from anyone save for possibly my shoes.

Incidentally enough, one of the largest mental storms I've yet experienced since my return home also found some measure of relief around the same time the snow was melting back into the earth. While I'd been stuck in this psychological tempest, I'd failed to see any sign of relief. I'd worried that I would be trapped for some time in this state. I'd wondered if it was even possible to feel comfortable anymore.

And then, just like that. The snow melted. My own storm was alleviated. And I was reminded that the Lord never just leaves us to suffer. There is always an end in sight.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Follow the Prophet: FHE Smurf Night

I was having a pretty rough day yesterday, at least internally. My mind was a cloud of dark and scary thoughts, and with no conclusion to the storm in sight, I struggled to refrain from following the same threads over and over again, seeking for some fact or detail I wished I missed.

As it was, when the early evening struck Provo, my schedule was all out of whack. I had a lot of assignments and projects and responsibilities I still had yet to complete. 

And Family Home Evening was smack-dab in the way of everything.

I chewed on that question for a while. To go, or not to go? That was the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of time constraints, or to take arms against a sea of my family home evening group members and by opposing diss them. To rise, to keep--no more--and by keeping to say I end the hour's break, and the thousand important things that I need to do. 'Tis a ...
Oh, shut up, internal Shakespeare, I thought. 

Rising, I braved the cold weather and arrived at the appointed meeting time.

To my surprise, a lot of my distracting thoughts and conflicted feelings evaporated as I participated in the good-old-fashioned fun a game of 'Smurf' can offer. Not only did I begin to feel much more relaxed, I recharged an extra reserve of strength from which I could more eagerly tackle the remaining tasks at hand.

I know holding a weekly Family Home Evening is counsel directly from the mouth of modern-day prophets. I saw yet another blessing of following the prophet today. To them I say, thank you.

Family Home Evening: Counsel and a Promise by The First Presidency of 1915 - "If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result ... Faith will be developed ... and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them."

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Why?" - For Those Who Fail To Speak Their Minds (Rhyming Prose)

D+C 122:7 - "... know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

When I was young, I was not allowed ice cream for breakfast. Now I am old, and I rebelled and learned a painful lesson fit to last.

When I was young, I didn't understand how certain maths were so important. Now that I slave over checkbooks, I thank my patient teachers constant.

When I was young, I wished to leave my hearth of birth, strike out on my own. Now that I'm here, I laugh to myself when I sometimes wish I could go back home.

That question is ever constant, or at least in forms.

"Why so?"

"Why not?"

Or, "Why not now?"

Left unanswered, raises storms.

No matter where we are we want to know, "Why?" But no matter the age, no matter the cause, giving lips are hard to find.

Whether tired parent, careless lover, hard employer, untrue friend, if for hurt we feel they won't say "why," that pain but doubles 'cause we can't comprehend.

Now I am old. I still feel the frustration of uncomprehending child. I want to know, to understand, and to not only drives me wild.

How much effort could it possibly take to drop word of account? No matter how gold the benefit, it fails me when you won't spell it out.

You left me? Why did you feel to lie? You toss me aside? Calloused to my cry? You ignore me? Why don't you tell me why? What you could offer, but don't, only tears me up inside.

Even God himself, whose voice rarely heard, gives more answers than you to I. Through thoughts and scripture, every trial faced, I do not need ask why.

But you, your arbitrary, soundless reason, your mock gavel clangs, oppresses my mind and soul and heart for freedom I only pang.

Thinkest thou to know more than God and hide your cruel injustice? At least He will know when chips are down, to expose all your mischief.

But perhaps I speak with presumption and need to bind my tongue. God uses others' mistakes to train in what I must know.

Perhaps your outrageous selfishness if God's way of turning me back to Him, and back to light, and through Him, I will see.

You are not my parent, Heavenly or otherwise, for we two both are children and if we can't know, we must trust "why."

So go ahead and oppress again. I will always have a choice. If you will not tell me why, to God I'll raise my voice.

For I remember, when I was young, if I did not comprehend "why," every answer eventually came, and I could claim them mine.

So even though God is called close-lipped by many who do not try, if He seeth fit to tell me, I can't condemn you for not saying "why."