Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday #20 - Seeing the Best of Things

I can't believe I'm calling back to a post I wrote nearly seven months ago. That's quite the archive, especially since Change and Cherish has only been going for less than a year!

Today's Throwback comes to us from September 24 of last year.

As you've probably been able to tell, I have found my new employment to be the most fascinating aspect of my life as of late. It's new, it's fresh, I have a lot of new experiences to write about concerning it, and I'm just thrilled to continue chronicling this new chapter in my life. In honor of this mindset, today's Throwback speaks much along the same lines, illustrating some of my thoughts about my RA job and the attitude I wished to cultivate there and hereafter.

Click here to read Seeing the Best of Things!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kindness: New Office (VIDEO)

Got a 'new' office! Let's check it out!

We more or less concluded our initial training yesterday here at my new job. In the end, if I could draw any theme from the experience, it was that our number one responsibility is to be kind.

 The customer may not always be right, but they deserve respect and attention. Smiling is the best way to diffuse a tough situation. We may not need to leave truffles on the pillows for the guests, but it will help them feel more at ease and more at home.

One thing I've recognized I struggle with is kindness. I may be kind to those who are kind to me, or kind to those I want something from, but being unconditionally kind is something I have yet failed to master. 

I'm excited for this job because it will give me the opportunity to stretch and grow in this weakness of mine. As it is, my mantra over the past few weeks has become, "Just be kind. Just be kind."

That's all I want.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beginning Anew: Fresh Employment

No matter what career I end up selecting, I suspect I might get bored of it after a while.

Well, maybe 'bored' isn't the right word, but over the last few weeks, I've found myself eagerly anticipating a massive change in my life, namely my change of employment. Sure, I'm staying in the same place and working with many of the same people, but my actual work purposes are drastically altered.

But anyway, going back to the point, for many weeks now, I've been craving a change in pace and rhythm, continually seeking a new start in something, anything. Though I experienced some defeats, some victories, and some epiphanies before the summer began, and I'm sure I will continue to so do throughout the summer, many unresolved aspects of my life all found answers around this time of transition.

And so, I have another chance. To clean off my slate, to try something new, to push forward and not look back. I have the chance to shed my skin and release my summer molt. It's time for me to shake my legs and kick off some dust. It's time for me to move. 

What changes have you been making in your life lately? Be sure to comment below!

Th new crew.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Report: Vegas (BONUS VIDEOS)

Here's a little something extra for ya for wading through today's earlier posting.

Weekend Report: Vegas

Doctrine and Covenants 88:19 - "For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father ..."

My friends wanted a ride down to their homes in Las Vegas.

I wanted a spring break.

But first, we needed to clock out.

The break of dawn on Saturday morning heralded the final check-out of all of the residents living in the dorm complex watched over by me and my fellow RAs. With their departure came our last-ditch cleaning efforts, including everything from raising and lowering beds to filling out damage reports.

Eventually, the hall was cleaned, reports were filled, and the last-minute details were sorted out. I stowed the last of my possessions in my new room for the summer, then joined my companions outside, at my vehicle.

And then we rode.

Over the foothills of Utah, into the borderlands of Arizona, and across the Nevadan desert we four cruised, laughing, talking, cebrating, loving as we jammed out to our playlist and to the rhythm of our adventure.

Many hours following the sun's farewell to the sky, we peaked a ridge and glimpsed the source of the orange light fighting away the darkness on the horizon. It was our destination.

The city's hustle and bustle reminded me of my desire to live near such a place, perhaps not strictly in the midst of all the chaos, but somewhere I could easily access the sights, sounds, and attractions so readily available. The city pulsed with life, and I loved it.

The Vegas Veterans in our group led our group around to appreciate some of the more interesting attractions, though we mainly strayed toward a "look-don't-touch" mentality. Well, I guess we made one exception for this gorgeous statue, here.

I eventually saw enough of the Vegas strip to formulate an opinion of the entire establishment as a whole, but that didn't matter so much to me as did the many experiences and lessons I obtained while spending time with these dear friends of mine.

You see, back when the trip was an inkling of an idea in my mind, back when our party was two instead of four, I decided, fairly firmly, that I needed to visit that city. There was a reason I was there. And on every corner, I looked. 

You always find what you're looking for.

With every mistake I made, extremely minor though they may have been, I learned something. I learned something about being considerate. I learned something about how to have quality in your life. I learned something about the kindness of strangers. I learned something about my mission to Jamaica. I learned something about diligence and perseverance and strength. I learned a new way to love those around me.

And the weekend wasn't over when I considered all this late Saturday night, staring up at the ceiling from my borrowed bed. The journey was just beginning, and my friends and I had so much more to experience. In some ways, I'm still experiencing.

But, in the end, my point is this. I firmly believe you cannot experience anything without learning something. The more we push out of our established patterns, the more opportunities we have.

Leaving was hard, though we'd only spent less than a day being around. Regardless, its mark was firmly planted on me. As the three remaining members of our party began the drive home, I made the decision to do more things like that more often. 

God made this world so we can see its breadth, and I've barely walked the surface.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend Sabbatical

My friends. This weekend is the first break I've had in a while. I am currently on a weekend trip to Vegas to act as my spring break.

As it is, I am also taking a weekend break from blogging for both today and tomorrow. However, expect a full weekend report on Monday!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hidden Treasures: GOATS

Yesterday, my friend and I went to a farm to feed and interact with a herd of goats.

As we hugged and petted and wrestled these animals, I was reminded of my mission. The island of Jamaica is covered with these creatures, and something about seeing them reminded me of home.

The more unruly goats lived in a separate pen away from the others. In order to feed these goats, we needed to use a complicated pulley system incorporating a tin can filled with grass. I, being the kind of person who finds myself incredibly clever, made some dumb joke about expecting the goats to eat the can along with the grass. 

As I spoke, my mind flashed back to a moment on my mission. My younger companion and I were observing a group of goats sorting through a pile of trash, eating whatever they could find. My companion commented about how stupid these goats were. They was grass all around them, but. instead, they were rummaging through garbage. I agreed.

Then, all at once, my companion sobered. "I suppose we're like that, too," he said, referring to mankind. "Rooting through garbage to find the one good thing."

That sobered me, too.

It had been a long time since I last remembered that lesson, and I often forget the principle. How many times do I seek after something with only a few good parts, vainly attempting to ignore the rest? I see this the most often in my chosen entertainments, but there are other applications as well. I'm sure you see them.

It's funny, sometimes, how even something as simple as a goat can bring back jewels.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday #19 - Building Friendships

Today's throwback comes to us from September 20 of last year.

I think it was a nice turn of events that this post came up next in my Throwback Thursday queue the week it did. After all, this is the last hurrah we RAs have to spend time together and do stuff together before we all head our separate ways for the next few weeks, months or years. After this weekend is over, so ends our employment.

Looking back, that experience the below post describes is one of the first times I truly began building friendships with my coworkers, they who have now become such integral aspects in my life. Not only have I grown to love and trust them, I have come to view them as mentors and heroes.

But anyway, you'll see what I'm talking about. Click here to read Building Friendships: Party all Night!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Stepping Back: Dying of the Light

Genesis 32:24 - "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."

This post's title is in reference to Dylan Thomas' poem, "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night."

I still had one more exam.

But I was done!

I was finished with exams.

You couldn't have dragged me to that last exam with a herd of angry elephants.

I'd been stuck in the same room, the same situation, the same schedule, and I wanted out.

I wanted to breathe.

I needed to prepare for the next day's exam.

So, I left.

I grabbed my friend, and we drove and talked and drove and talked and drove and talked, speeding through the winding and sometimes frightening corridors of our minds as we gently meandered down a long and apparently forgotten mountain path.

We were alone with nature, with nothing but an old metal box keeping us from the cruel mercies of whatever the elements had to offer.

We pushed outward until we had enough, until we'd dropped every word that needed saying.

We turned around and meandered back down the path to home.

Our minds were cleared, and our resolve was set.

That late night drive.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Confidence: Final Impact

I took the first of my last three finals yesterday.

This particular test was for my English class, which I've made out to be quite notorious in many of my recent posts over this past semester. This is the class that made me contemplate changing a lot of my life decisions, the class that I felt I worked the hardest in, the class in which, in my mind, my efforts failed to produce the grades I felt I deserved.

And I couldn't motivate myself to study for the final.

With my job reaching newfound heights in duties and responsibilities, as I try to strengthen friendships for the next few months, as I try to maintain the rest of my hobbies, I have had a seriously hard time just wanting to study. By the time I finally dragged myself to do it, I had an hour before my test.

As usually happens in these sorts of circumstances, I felt the greatest motivation to work when I had little to no time left to do so. As I looked over my notes, however, I nonetheless began to feel relieved. 

I'd paid attention in my class. I'd studied hard before this week. I knew that, while I wouldn't get the best grade possible for someone of my understanding and dedication toward this particular subject (or, in other words, a hundred percent is far beyond my realm of achievement at the moment), I would be able to pull off a final grade of which I would still be proud.

Really though, and this was the important part. Even if I failed in a dismal blaze of inglory, regardless, I knew things would turn out all right in the end. This one test would define neither me as a person, nor my individual overall success.

I still don't know what I got for my final's grade, but I walked out happy knowing I'd done my best with what I'd had. And that, my friends, made all the difference.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Light: Crooning at The Wall

This isn't the greatest picture, but I wanted to capture as much of the crowd as my questionable camera could handle. Sorry!
One of my friends texted me late Saturday night and asked if I wanted to keep her company as she helped serve as manager for her friend's 1920s-style musical performance at the on-campus mock-bar. I readily agreed, and soon found myself feeling slightly underdressed as I enjoyed watching everyone in the room swoon over themselves over the singer's excellent voice.

Honestly, more than anything else, I was particularly impressed by the crowd. I go to The Wall fairly frequently, but never have I seen a crowd turn out that large. I wasn't surprised when the singer mentioned later that the owner of the establishment told him the place had literally never seen such a crowd.

You all know I love talents. I think talents are the greatest gifts we're given to help us share the gospel with people. As we let that light so shine, we glorify the Gift-Giver Himself. I saw that Saturday night. Both the singer and his band let it out and let it shine, and even though the music had little or nothing to do with any specific individual gospel principles (except for maybe eternal marriage, but whatever), I found my thoughts drawn to Him.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Called to Serve

Another one of my very good friends opened his mission call yesterday, heading off to Italia to preach unto the Roman peoples.

To big this guy up, he was baptized just over a year ago, and has now determined to spend the next two years of his life teaching what other missionaries taught him. To put that into perspective, when he comes back home, he will have spent more time as a full-time missionary than he has as a 'regular' member.

To be honest, I don't know that I could have done something like that. I spent my whole life preparing for a mission, and even then the eventual decision was difficult to make. I admire my friend a lot for making such a decision. I admire anyone who makes that sort of decision.

As I watched the joy on my friends' face as he celebrated with his crew, that stirring hymn came to my mind.

Click here to give it a listen.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Give (Poem)

Matthew 5:16 - "Let your light so shine before men ..."

Taking a risk, taking a chance
raise your voice and make your stance
Things don't have to stay the way they were
So on your feet, if you prefer

This world may seem a massive place
and the good you do barely fills the space
but if you trust and follow your muse
you'll be surprised by perspective's hue

Things aren't as bad as they ever seem
forget the nightmare, live the dream
life is short, but bound to glow
if you search for ways to help people grow

From friends to family, even yourself
offer something, take it off your shelf
Give what you have and let it shine
Forget consequence, it will be fine

Step up, step out, and celebrate
life is grand, so fill up your plate
For when you offer, reward is sure
No one ever said misery didn't have a cure

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday #18 - Unconditional Love

Today's Throwback Thursday comes from the eighteenth of September, 2014.

What I like about this past post is that the point is delivered by my friends and compatriots rather than by myself. I often feel like I too often try to pass off my thoughts as super wise and intelligent and spiritual. It is far more liberating to express the thoughts of others, so that way I can be reminded I have much left to enjoy learning.

But don't take my word for it! Click here to read Unconditional Love: Lunch Club, Open Mic!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good in All Things: Last-Ditch VG Party

Psalms 115:16 - "The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's; but the earth hath he given to the children of men."

The last day of classes came upon the campus like a sigh of relief, calming and soothing the student body almost like nobody had finals to worry about. Of course, we all knew we had two 'days off' and were about to start heading back into the fray once more, but that was all right. Today, we could breathe.

As a way to celebrate the surmounting of this obstacle, I ran a program in the evening for the hall, a last-ditch video game party complete with catering and a projector.

It was sick. A lot of people came who wouldn't normally come to such activities, and everyone seemed to be having a fun time just vegging out and doing what they all do. In the end, I declared the activity a success, it having completed my primary goals of bringing people in the hall closer together.

Now, say what you want about video games. I know a lot of people, from parents to girlfriends, hate them with a passion. I, myself, have seen me need a recovery from a sore addiction to the things. I know their downsides. However, I do believe that even something as surface-level inane as video games can be used for good. I saw that last night in the interactions between these friends of mine.

And I think that's the thing. The internet can be used for horrible things, but can also be used to spread light and cheer. Nature can be abused or appreciated. One person can find great strength in a tough situation that another might wallow in.

Everything has its positives and negatives. I believe God left the positives hidden at times to give our life greater meaning, an eternal treasure hunt, if you will.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Procrastination: Dirty Car

2 Corinthians 9:8 - "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work ..." 

There are a few important details to consider before reading this post.

First, I was wearing a suit today for my final presentation in my RA class. As I walked through the day, I again noticed it was in sore need of a dry clean. This was something I'd been putting off for months.

Second, my car has been through the same deal as my suit. No matter how many dates I've been on, I cringe whenever they step into the car. Please don't brush against the door, I'd think. Please please please PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ok, we're good, we're good. Regardless, I still haven't washed it.

The weather was super wonky today, the sky being filled with what looked like dust and casting a strange green hue over the sky. I was mildly disconcerted by this apparent omen of the apocalypse, but figured I might as well get everything done that I could. That also involved picking up food for my very last program as an RA.

Gathering in some of my flock, I enlisted their help in picking up some of my food. As I ran to my car, I realized that the odd weather had begun raining mud all over me. What the heck, I thought. There went that almost-clean suit. No longer could I procrastinate. I was stuck.

Despite the evidence on my suit, I still had the happy thought that the rain would wash my car. My mental faux pas revealed itself when I discovered my car had become just as muddy as my suit.

This picture doesn't give the mud entire justice, but hey.

I thought about this for a bit. At first, I thought this was a lesson that I should never procrastinate. Then, I brightened. If I'd cleaned my suit and car earlier, then they would still be dirty today!

I whistled a merry tune as I drove off in preparation for my program.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Infinite Worth: Maythology Conclusion

Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 - "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God ..."

My RA employment is slowly winding to a close. Well, slowly might not be the best word to describe it. All-too-quickly, perhaps? Well, no, that's not right either, because I haven't noticed any abrupt quickening in the progress of time. I guess it's going at a fairly slow pace, but my life is feeling a lot more hectic, so it feels like it's going more quickly.

Savvy? Good, because I don't get it, either.

Anyway, last semester, I put up a world map with the intention of putting my residents' missions on it. I soon discovered such a practice wasn't really my style, for some reason, and so the map remained blank. Beginning with this semester, however, I had a twofold idea to entice more of my residents to come to my weekly floor meetings and utilize the empty map. I soon dubbed that idea 'Maythology,' a portmanteau of 'Mythology' and 'May,' the latter being the name of the hall I live in.

I felt like I wanted to put a caption here, but I forgot what it was!
One of the opening activities preceding the meat of my floor meetings was something I called 'Man of the Week.' The residents and I would go in a circle describing our most manly moment. The winners' accomplishments reigned from killing a coyote with a rock to playing the video game Runescape for an unhealthy amount of time. Whoever's accomplishment was dubbed the manliest would win the 'Creature of the Week.' Each creature had been designed in advance by the previous week's winner.

Not only did the activity prompt greater attendance than it had last semester, it also fostered two additional benefits I feel foolish to admit I didn't consider beforehand. First, it gave these friends of mine an opportunity to really consider how awesome they are every week, something in them I never doubted myself. Second, it gave each of them to exercise their creativity in a unique way to create something they could truly be proud of.

Last night, for the last evening, the manliest resident accepted this past week's creature after I revealed and awarded it.

Arbor dentium, or known outside the scientific community as the Gnashing Tree, is an intelligent creature with a mental capacity far beyond its plantlike brethren. Though some suspect its original genus came from Fort Collins, Colorado, there is only one recorded specimen to date, which is planted on Brigham Young University campus right outside the dormitory complex affectionately called ‘May Hall.’ Though the Gnashing Tree feeds upon human flesh, most passers-by do not need fear an assault. For some unexplained reason, the gnashing tree only has taste for the flesh of boys living in this so-called ‘May Hall.’ Legend has it that if any individual from May Hall ever feasts upon the single banana growing on the top of the Gnashing Tree, they will become, and I quote, ‘totes swol.’ Documented on 4/12/2015
The Gnashing Tree
Then, I turned around a whiteboard to show I'd created a bracket so the residents could determine which creature, of all the creatures created by the hall, was the manliest it and of itself. After a long, tough battle, the Boose won out in the end.

Alces Ravus, or, known outside the scientific community as the Boose, lives in the Epping Forest just North of Greater London. The Boose is known as one of the most honorable creatures in the animal kingdom, preferring only to hunt prey equal to or greater than its physique or intellect. As such, Beese are known to hijack South African Airline craft at the London International Airport, slaughter the inhabitants inside, and then fly the craft to Africa to do battle with Elephants, Giraffes, and Lions. Africa is not alone in being a target of the Boose, meaning that most endangered species can tie their near destruction to Beese overhunting their kind. Organizations like PETA are quick to blame humans for drastically lowered animal populations across the world, but are only ignoring the Boose's own involvement. I mean, it certainly wasn't the DUTCH that killed off the Dodos. Recorded on the 8th of February.
The Boose
The resident who designed the Boose expressed righteous pride that his creation had won out in the end. I smiled at the residents' enthusiasm as the meeting drew to a close. From the creativity to the self-esteem to just having a ridiculous kind of fun, I couldn't muster any regrets about spending much time drawing these wacky things.

My challenge to you today is twofold. First, think about something you did this past week that defined how awesome you are. Second, go out and find some new way to express your creativity. I promise you it will be enlightening.

Finals coming up! Good luck out there!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mountains to Climb: Which Art First?

Judges 9:36 - "... Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains ..."

Something I often say is that I feel closest to God when I am deep in nature. I usually follow up with the statement that I don't get out in nature as often as I should.

Yesterday, one of my friends contacted a group of us and demanded that we all go on a hike up to a nearby park. We readily agreed, and today, tackled the summit to the best of our abilities. It was an absolutely awesome and gorgeous experience.

The crew! If you look really closely, I might be in the shadows in the back.
The mountain we traversed.
The falls we ascended.
The view from above.
The view from across.
I was bothered by an apparent paradox as I viewed the grandeur around me. God is an excellent artist, I don't doubt that, but where did that thought come from? Do I call him an artist because I'm more acquainted with mountains as they appear in paintings? When I view paintings of similar landscapes, am I admiring the artist's work, or am I admiring the original work they are trying to imitate? Which, in my mind, was art first? The real deal, or the realistic imitation?

I can't say. What I can say is that I loved the experience. Not only did I grow closer to God, I also grew closer to a few of his children. My invitation to all of you is to try and take the opportunity to do the same this week. You may not be able to scale a mountain, but step back from the world of technology for a few hours and give Him some time.

I promise you won't regret it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kingdom Come: House Hunters 2015

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

A couple of days ago, my friend and I set out to seek an apartment for next fall semester. My employment had kept us from rooming together, but with my plans to work in the library in the fall, we decided we both wanted to room together.

It's unfortunate the short video series I made during our journey was unusable in a blog setting, but, regardless, know we had an epic time seeking and eventually finding the place we wanted to live. We even went so far as to fill out an application with the landlord there so she could double check our claims to upstanding backgrounds.

I don't think the landlord was too worried about 47% of us.
I'm used to hearing others discuss certain anxieties in regards to house hunting. Whether they are anxious to find a place, anxious to move into the new place, anxious to find something more permanent, many people are simply anxious. It's been a while since I've actually had to go find someplace on my own without any specialized help, and so I expected no different for myself when the time came.

Instead, I felt pretty calm about the whole thing. Looking around felt easy and comfortable, and I wasn't overly concerned with the outcome. In thinking about it, I recognize this might have been due in part to my constant roving across--at the very least--the Western hemisphere, a journey requiring particularly frequent displacements in the past five years or so.

I don't blame others for being anxious to move on to the next step, though. I'm sure we were all anxious as we waited for our turn to come down to earth after waiting at the very least six thousand years, if not more. Even in that sense, I feel strange urges that make me wonder if my Spirit is not also eager to be resurrected. Wherever we go, I think there's something inside that helps remind us we have at least one more home to call our own.

I wonder if we'll continue to feel that up until we finally do arrive in our Father's rest.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday #17 - Re-Learning Yourself

Today's Throwback Thursday comes to us from September 17 of last year.

This post talks about my RA class' assignment to write down five words that define us, and the five words I chose to define me. Looking back, I found it interesting that I didn't use any words that defined my interests, but words that defined me, a struggle I hadn't yet begun to weave into the theme of my blog's overall narrative.

Even so, I'm not sure I would now use the same five words I did back then. True, I had a little bit of help looking at what I wrote before, but I think the five words I would now use are:


You can compare with my list by clicking on the link below. Anyway, the point is, I don't think my behaviors have changed all that much, but my self-perception has. 

The challenge I have for you today is to write down the first five words you feel define you today. So go on! Get out there!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Choices: Vending Machines

1 Nephi 8:32 - "... and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads."

I have a meal plan with my University on account of my employment, which gives me access to every on-campus food vendor. Given that the various restaurants are closed at certain parts of the day (like at 3 am) and that I'm often too lazy to actually leave my dorm to attend them, my first resort for food is usually ...


I know none of you suspected this, but I want to be on the record as saying that VitaminWater did not pay me to promote their product.

The problem with this set-up is that I have now eaten every option from the vending machines literally five times each. I desire to eat almost nothing from these machines anymore, which is why I've taken to sticking with nothing but my favorites.

It's funny. I have all these choices to choose from, and yet all I do is gravitate toward the same choices I did from the beginning of the year. After having my fun experimenting and trying new things from the vending machines, I've more or less settled into a routine of eating habits. In all honesty, having exceedingly more choices in the first place really didn't help me make decisions any better, either. Really, the many choices only served to compound and lengthen my decision-making process.

I suspect this is true with life. I think sometimes we, as spiritual beings, yearn for greater agency, and experience a period in which we try other paths away from the gospel to find greater happiness. However, as we continue trying to understand life and everything afforded us, I think we will find the most happiness always comes from God. I know this.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Improving: Cute Puppy

Ether 2:14 - "... And it came to pass at the end of four years the Lord came again ..."

My family had an emergency while they were visiting over the weekend. My sister's emotional support dog got into someone else's medication, requiring a trip to pet urgent care. There was a lot of concern and worry and tears as the beloved animal underwent treatment.

As the family banded together duDurantring the emergency, I had the opportunity to consider God's hand in it all. I knew the accident wasn't anybody's fault. I knew He was in complete control of the situation. I had the chance to try and act as a spiritual anchor for certain individuals. The entire experience ultimately helped me recognize that I was not as prepared as I wish I could have been.

One of my big concerns while trying to maintain a daily mostly-spiritual blog is that I will appear as though I am trying to build myself up to appear like some hyper-spiritual individual, aggrandizing myself before the masses. I fear my attempts to provide my audience with my own thoughts about things will only create an impression that I think I'm more spiritual, and therefore, I know best.

In all honesty, though, I know I'm weak. I know my relationship with God is never exactly where it needs to be. I pray for help in overcoming my weaknesses.

The dog's trip to urgent care gave me another opportunity to consider where I was and how prepared I actually am to help others in a spiritual capacity. I, of course, decided to seek improvement in the things I recognized.

The dog, of course, made a full recovery. I'd volunteered to pick her up and deliver her back to her mom, and so was the first to see her right after she left the hospital.

As I drove north, my heart thanked Him for giving me the opportunity to ponder Him.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Belonging: Two Families

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Most of you know I am a male in my early twenties who unabashedly admits to watching the children's program My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Not only have I admitted this, I've discussed at length the internal conflict I bear regarding this interest.

Season 5 of the aforementioned show premiered this past weekend, and I didn't really know where I could go to watch if, being bereft of cable and the like. It was by pure happenstance that I discovered my University's Brony club was hosting a live streaming party for anyone interested in watching. With some reluctance, I decided to check it out.

As the previous link explains, I often find myself struggling to fully connect with those who coexist in my fandoms. I like a lot of things, but don't necessarily feel like I fit in with other people who like the same things. As it was, the Brony club turned out to be a wonderfully kind and enthusiastic group of people, but when it boiled down to it, I felt like an outsider. Yes, we all laughed at the same jokes, yes, we all made the same sort of comment, but I didn't truly feel like I belonged.

This very same weekend, most of my family came down to visit. The reasons were many, but at least one of them was to visit me. The visit was a very interesting experience when I began to compare it with my attendance at the premiere earlier in the weekend.

I almost guarantee I had a lot more in common with the gentlemen at the premiere than I did with my family members, at least in regards to interests. However, despite those differences between myself and my family members, I had a heap of a lot more fun with them. It was with them that I felt a sense of belonging, that no matter how life treats us or where we end up, I'll always have a place in my family's ranks.

God gave us the gift of our families for a reason. Let us not forget to cherish them.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Missed Opportunity: Sidewalk Walk

I was walking around a park with my family yesterday, and we found this on the sidewalk.

I found it hilarious, mainly because the guilty party had ensured there would be no question as to what they had intended on accomplishing by using the medium to outright define itself. If such a practice were to continue, I would imagine all of our billboards sans advertisements, simply reading, "Billboard," which would likely please some of us. I can also imagine myself following the same post-modern avant-garde artistic vision by standing near a bus stop loudly repeating the word 'human' over and over again.

I'd be a good Pokemon.

Anyway, after I thought about the experience, I realized my vandal friend had missed out on a great opportunity. I knew nothing about them! They could have written down a virtue they adhered to, like courage or ambition. They could have written down a political belief, like democracy or totalitarianism. They might have written down a religious belief, like 'God is dead' or 'He lives!' 

But, nothing. Best I could gather is that they either have a refined sense of humor, or are utterly without creativity, either or, but I didn't learn anything from it. True, I'm not promoting vandalism, but since they were going to, anyway, not not take the chance to get a message across?

I know I would have.

Well, if I was prone to writing on sidewalks, that is, but you get the drift.

Anyway, my challenge to you all today is to get out there and spread a message you're passionate about, though perhaps through a means that stays on this side of the law. Take the opportunity to get someone thinking, and I promise you'll feel great!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ten Talents Analogy: Post April Fool's Day

Matthew 25:14 - "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods."

Back at home with the family, April Fool's Day was a manageable experience. On the off-chance that anyone actually remembered it (usually me), there was an even slighter chance that anyone would try to prank anyone (usually me), and since most pranks seem to revolve around breaking the sanctity of the bathroom, the pranker would usually find his or herself hoisted by their own petard when they just so happened to be the first to enter the restroom following their setting of the trap (usually me). As it was, our family has no notable stories from any April Fool's Day, at least none I've ever admitted to.

Here in the dorms, however, it's a frightening experience. Everyone remembers, because the one person who remembered in the first place makes sure to remind everyone else while rubbing their hands and cackling gleefully. These are the same types of people who, both before and after the day, always swear upon their mothers' grave that they will have/had nothing to do with any pranks. Never trust their quirky little smile. You may never find evidence, but they did it.

Anyway, instead of maybe two to seven possible suspects, the dorms offer hundreds of them. You could be getting pranked by your roommate, your hallmate, a girl from your ward, or possibly even some punk across the way who doesn't have any friends to prank in the first place. This poor guy didn't know what to do when he found the entirety of his bedroom where it was.

As for me, I spent the day in exile, refusing to open the door under any circumstance, fearing that my residents would descend upon me like a swarm and spray me with silly string or some other nonsense. After the day was over, however, I recognized something very important.

I'd been so wrapped up in the possibility that I would get pranked that I forgot to do any pranking myself!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday #16

Today's Throwback Thursday post comes to us from September 11 of last year.

Not all of my posts are epic-length sagas. When I'm feeling under the weather especially, I try to get more straight to the point. In looking back over the archives, the week of September 11 was another week in which I found myself falling ill. Given this present week's primary focus has been the same thing, I figured I'd call back to my own opinions about how one should act even when sick!

But don't take my word for it! Click here to visit Smiling through Hard Times!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Teamwork: eSport Tournament

1 Peter 2:17 - "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King."

A new video game just came out recently, and in order to raise awareness for the game, the company decided to run a team-based tournament exclusively for college students. The reward for winning said tournament would be three years of college tuition absolutely free. One of my fellow RAs, who got into the original Beta for the game, invited me to join his team, and I accepted.

Our standing in the tournament is a little shaky at the moment, it's true, but we're confident we haven't completely blown our chance yet. As it is, as we've worked together to hone our skills, I've recognized some very important things about, you guessed it, teamwork.

I still find it funny nobody has ever called me out on a title drop yet, but hey.

We all have really good ideas about how to accomplish important objectives, but sometimes, we don't all work toward the same objective at the same time. As it is, our individual strengths are fifthed as we separate and, usually, end up failing all the objectives we originally set out to accomplish. Our strengths as individuals really shine when we move through the objectives as a collective unit, working together to find solid success.

I never thought I'd say this, but as in video games, as in life. Each of us are capable of standing on our own, but the Lord has given us weaknesses along with our strengths. When we find others with complementary strengths, we are able to accomplish more than when we stand alone.

And that, my friends, is why people are awesome.