Monday, April 22, 2013

Rolling with the punches

So most of you know the whole mission thing didn't really go as planned.  I arrived in Hawaii, and was in the hospital within the first week.  I had E. Coli. So what have I been up to since I arrive home? 
 I've reunited with my dear friend Jayne, which was a VERY sweet reunion.  We're basically dating, so the idea of being away from her for 18 months was beyond sad.  So I get to be with her.  YAY! :) 
 I've gone to the temple and enjoyed the beauty that surrounds that beautiful building inside and out
 As I haven't had much energy to do a lot, I've turned to art.  All forms of art.  I write, I paint, I sing, I've even danced a little! 

 I've played with my niece and my cute nephews! 
 I have successfully run nearly every day.  I'd like to point out that this was after a mere 2.5 mi of running, yet my face is as pink as my shirt. 
And I've even gotten out the guitar and written a few tunes.  Win.

Hope you all are having a wonderful life.  If you're not, get out and serve someone--it helps :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

why give up 18 months?

As many of you know, I am leaving February 27th to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As I've explained this to individuals not of my faith, many have asked the exact same question: why?  Why would I leave in the middle of schooling? Why would I get behind on my college education? Why would I leave behind the prospect of getting married young and having a million babies? (this is mostly a funny comment, but some have really asked!)  When first asked, I came up with simple answers.  And the ultimate answer I've come up with is also simple.  It is different from those I gave before-- well not actually different, but it encompasses all the other answers I gave, and puts them into the same answer.  

Much of this blog has showed how much I love people.  Love is my life.  I sincerely wish that everyone could just love one another and live life in Peace.  Unfortunately, life sucks sometimes.  People are mean.  People are stupid.  People don't always show love for each other.  So why am I leaving my comfortable home for 18 months to teach the people of Hawaii about those things that give me the most happiness in life?  Because I love them.  Because I love Jesus Christ, and I have a testimony that he walked the Earth, and that he atoned for my sins.  For your sins.  For all.  I know that he loved and loves everyone.  I can't wait for my mission because I know my love for my Savior will grow.  I know my love for people and for myself will grow right along with it.  I am so excited to go teach, and can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

April 12, 2009

Here is an excerpt from my journal three and a half years ago.

"Grandma LeNila went to the hospital today.  We're not exactly sure what happened, but we do know that her kidneys are failing.  Everything else seems to be getting better, but nothing else really matters if her kidneys don't function.

Cotton ball curls coat a pure angel bound in
Human form.  Bright pink lines curved into a 
Smile invite feelings of welcomeness and 
Gratitude.  Minute icebergs pierce your soul
Searching for answers-- true answers-- to 
Questions recently asked.  Classy colors and 
Comfortable in crowds, she independently 
Climbs to the top of the healthy, fit, and 
Active scales.  But soon, the bright pink dulls
To the color of a soft, white rose.  Cotton balls
Become rough silver wires skewing about in 
Every direction.  Icebergs melt into clear 
Puddles of Hydrogen and Oxygen, trying to 
Stay contained with no container.  And ever
So slowly that angel escapes--
Escapes to the place she truly belongs, 
And reunites with family and lovers again." 

April 19, 2009
"Grandma's been in the hospital all week.  We finally took her off her Oxygen last night.  It makes me sad.  But at the same time, I don't want her to die, but I'd rather have her go quickly than have to suffer for an extended period of time.  I think she'll go in the next couple of days.  The funeral will most likely be held on Friday."
Much to my own and the rest of my family's astonishment, Grandma got better! She got well enough to escape from her assisted living center twice!  In the ten years one of the administrators of the home had been there, there were only three escapes, and two of them were by my grandma! She loved walking and is one heck of a Utes fan.  She loves music, and passed that love to my family.  She loved the cabin, and as many of you know the cabin is one of my very favorite places.  Today, she finally did leave her life here behind, and got to see grandpa and Clyde again.  I'm sure she's up there playing the piano til her fingers hurt, and will love seeing her family come closer together as she moves on to the next step in her life.  Love you grandma, and way to hang in there (for our sakes) for three and a half more years. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Deserve: to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to because of actions, qualities, or situation.

As I wound down for bed last night, I sad on my almost white bed cover and read in Matthew chapter 5.  This is the section in the Bible where we read the beatitudes.  I sat reading the words:

"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach them, saying:
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

The words sunk into me in a way they never have previously.  I realized how much more the concepts of each of them carry than the surface words they display.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints, I've read the beatitudes countless times.  Last night, as I read, it was one of those times where I didn't really have to read the verses to know what was coming next, but rather I could look at the beginning of each verse and finish it in my head.  To tell you the truth, I was reluctant to read in the first place.  A friend requested I did to see what new findings I came to, and my attitude was "well, okay.  I'll do it, I guess."  I didn't have much enthusiasm, but I decided to read anyway. 

Despite my weariness of reading the assigned verses, I did what I said I'd do.  Sometimes that's all we can do, isn't it?  Just do what we're told, and hope for some sort of outcome.  Well, as I did what I was told I found an outcome I wanted to share with all of you. 

All the verses above have to do with people accepting challenges, or performing tasks they dont deserve.  I feel so often when caught in the middle of some hard time or a loved-one's struggles that people ask or even silently wonder, "What did I do to deserve this?" or "my friend doesn't deserve this! Why is this happening??" Sometimes it's hard because hardship after hardship continues, and it feels like we can't catch a brake.  And when we all live our life trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can, no one "deserves" the pain that life has to offer.  

But these verses offer hope to those going through difficulty.  To me they can be summed up in a single principle beatitude: 
"Blessed are they who willingly endure hardships they don't 'deserve,' for they are as I am." 

For those who believe in Christ and know of his Earthly ministry, it is easy to see his constant sacrifices were not what he "deserved" to sacrifice for us.  He did so much for all on the Earth, yet they spit in his face.  They pressed thorns into his head.  They laughed and mocked.  they drove nails through his hands and his feet.  He did not deserve any of the horrific treatment he received.  Yet he knew he was called of his father to perform an infinite atonement, no matter how other people treated him. So he knew what he had to do, and he did it. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mormons Building Bridges

Today I went to breakfast with a dear friend from high school.  Our conversation turned to the Utah Pride Festival because I had talked with a friend earlier in the week about it, and I wanted to know what it was really about.  I wanted to know what the point was.  If it was just to stress that everyone should have equal rights and the rights to love and be loved? If it was something that happened nationwide? Just what the point of it is.  I had no idea, but as it turned out, he interned with the Utah Pride Center during his Spring semester of school. He gave me such an awesome insite as to the goal of the parade this year.

He told me about the group I have a picture above.  This is a group called "Mormons Building Bridges."  They started on facebook, and the reason they got together was so that the LGBT community in Utah could take a different approach for Pride this year.  He said they wanted to find the common ground between the LGBT community and the LDS community.  Obviously since Prop 8 and such, there's been a lot of friction between the two communities, and this was an attempt to come together on common ground.  To prove that you don't have to agree with everything a person does to love them.

My friend told me that there were 100 people confirmed to be in this "Mormons Building Bridges" group on facebook.  When they counted the LDS people who showed up, it was actually around 400.

Seriously, I just wish I had known about it because I think this is a beautiful concept.  To be able to march with our brothers and sisters and to say "we love you and accept you."  Obviously everyone has their own opinions on the matter, but the fact that so many could come together to support eachother is very poignant in todays world.

May we all be able to come together in this way or some way like it.  If we really believe God loves all, shouldn't we all show our love for all?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Love is my Religion

So, if you haven't heard the song "Love is my Religion" by Ziggy Marley, definitely take a listen after reading this post.  I just love the message of the song.  Really, life is so much to worry/stress about for ourselves, why do we think we can manage the affairs of others?  This song puts it so simply-- just love everyone and everything will be rad.  You may have noticed the change in title of this blog.  the line "With you I share the gift, the gift that we now know," comes from this song.  The gift is knowing that we need to love all.  People cannot survive without other people.  So let's do everyone a favor and get off our high horses and love the people around us.  If you are male or female, gay or straight, black or white, religious or non-religious, a drunkard or sober, a drugaddict or someone who's never even taken pain medication, it doesn't matter.  We all need to realize that the actions of others are their decision, and unless those actions effect us, we should respect others for who they are.  If you haven't before, please take a minute to enjoy these wise words :) 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lift Where you Stand (Love this by President Uchtdorf)

Maybe someone needs this today. Well... I do so maybe someone ELSE needs this :) one of my favorite talks of all time. May it bring joy to those of you who take the time to read it.

Beloved brethren, I am honored to be with you at this worldwide priesthood gathering. With you, I am so grateful to be in the presence of our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and President Eyring. Brethren, we thank you for your faithfulness and moral strength. It is indeed a privilege and a joy to be part of this great brotherhood.

Lift Where You Stand

Some years ago in our meetinghouse in Darmstadt, Germany, a group of brethren was asked to move a grand piano from the chapel to the adjoining cultural hall, where it was needed for a musical event. None were professional movers, and the task of getting that gravity-friendly instrument through the chapel and into the cultural hall seemed nearly impossible. Everybody knew that this task required not only physical strength but also careful coordination. There were plenty of ideas, but not one could keep the piano balanced correctly. They repositioned the brethren by strength, height, and age over and over again—nothing worked.

As they stood around the piano, uncertain of what to do next, a good friend of mine, Brother Hanno Luschin, spoke up. He said, “Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.”

It seemed too simple. Nevertheless, each lifted where he stood, and the piano rose from the ground and moved into the cultural hall as if on its own power. That was the answer to the challenge. They merely needed to stand close together and lift where they stood.

I have often thought of Brother Luschin’s simple idea and have been impressed by its profound truth. Tonight I would like to expand on that simple concept, “lift where you stand.”

Some Want to Lead, Others Want to Hide

Although it may seem simple, lifting where we stand is a principle of power. Most of the priesthood bearers I know understand and live by this principle. They are eager to roll up their sleeves and go to work, whatever that work might be. They faithfully perform their priesthood duties. They magnify their callings. They serve the Lord by serving others. They stand close together and lift where they stand.

However, there are those who sometimes struggle with this concept. And when they do, they seem to fall into one of two camps: either they seek to lead, or they seek to hide. They covet a crown or a cave.

Those Who Seek to Lead

Those who seek to lead may feel they are capable of doing more than what they are currently asked to do. Some might think, “If only I were a bishop, I could make a difference.” They believe that their abilities far surpass their calling. Perhaps if they were in an important position of leadership, they would work hard at making a difference. But they wonder, “What possible influence can I have as merely a home teacher or a counselor in the quorum presidency?”

Those Who Seek to Hide

Those who seek to hide may feel that they are too busy to serve in the Church. When the chapel needs to be cleaned, when the Mendez familyneeds help moving, when the bishop calls them to teach a class, they always seem to have a ready excuse.

Twenty years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson shared reports from bishops and stake presidents that some members “are turning down calls to serve claiming they are ‘too busy’ or they ‘haven’t got time.’ Others accept such callings, but refuse to magnify those callings.”

President Benson went on to say, “The Lord expects each of us to have a calling in His Church so that others may be blessed by our talents and influence.” 1

Oddly enough, often the root cause of both of these tendencies—seeking to lead or seeking to hide—may be the same: selfishness.

A Better Way

There is a better way, taught to us by the Savior Himself: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” 2

When we seek to serve others, we are motivated not by selfishness but by charity. This is the way Jesus Christ lived His life and the way a holder of the priesthood must live his. The Savior did not care for the honors of men; Satan offered Him all the kingdoms and glory of the world, and Jesus rejected the offer immediately and completely. 3 Throughout His life, the Savior must have often felt tired and pressed upon, with scarcely a moment to Himself; yet He always made time for the sick, the sorrowful, and the overlooked.

In spite of this shining example, we too easily and too often get caught up in seeking the honors of men rather than serving the Lord with all our might, mind, and strength.

Brethren, when we stand before the Lord to be judged, will He look upon the positions we have held in the world or even in the Church? Do you suppose that titles we have had other than “husband,” “father,” or “priesthood holder” will mean much to Him? Do you think He will care how packed our schedule was or how many important meetings we attended? Do you suppose that our success in filling our days with appointments will serve as an excuse for failure to spend time with our wife and family?

The Lord judges so very differently from the way we do. He is pleased with the noble servant, not with the self-serving noble.

Those who are humble in this life will wear crowns of glory in the next. Jesus taught this doctrine Himself when He told the story of the rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and ate sumptuously every day, while the beggar Lazarus yearned merely to taste of the crumbs from the rich man’s table. In the next life, Lazarus appeared in glory next to Abraham, while the rich man was cast into hell, where he lifted up his eyes in torment. 4

The Example of John Rowe Moyle

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Rowe Moyle. John was a convert to the Church who left his home in England and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley as part of a handcart company. He built a home for his family in a small town a valley away from Salt Lake City. John was an accomplished stonecutter and, because of this skill, was asked to work on the Salt Lake Temple.

Every Monday John left home at two o’clock in the morning and walked six hours in order to be at his post on time. On Friday he would leave his work at five o’clock in the evening and walk almost until midnight before arriving home. He did this year after year.

One day, while he was doing his chores at home, a cow kicked him in the leg, causing a compound fracture. With limited medical resources, the only option was to amputate the broken leg. So John’s family and friends strapped him onto a door and, with a bucksaw, cut off his leg a few inches from the knee.

In spite of the crude surgery, the leg started to heal. Once John could sit up in bed, he began carving a wooden leg with an ingenious joint that served as an ankle to an artificial foot. Walking on this device was extremely painful, but John did not give up, building up his endurance until he could make the 22-mile (35-km) journey to the Salt Lake Temple each week, where he continued his work.

His hands carved the words “Holiness to the Lord” that stand today as a golden marker to all who visit the Salt Lake Temple. 5

John did not do this for the praise of man. Neither did he shirk his duty, even though he had every reason to do so. He knew what the Lord expected him to do.

Years later, John’s grandson Henry D. Moyle was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and, eventually, served in the First Presidency of the Church. President Moyle’s service in these callings was honorable, but his grandfather John’s service, though somewhat less public, is just as pleasing to the Lord. John’s character, his legacy of sacrifice, serves as a banner of faithfulness and an ensign of duty to his family and to the Church. John Rowe Moyle understood the meaning of “lift where you stand.”

The Example of Helaman’s 2,000 Warriors

Individual recognition is rarely an indication of the value of our service. We do not know the names, for example, of any of the 2,000 sons of Helaman. As individuals, they are unnamed. As a group, however, their name will always be remembered for honesty, courage, and the willingness to serve. They accomplished together what none of them could have accomplished alone.

That is a lesson for us, brethren of the priesthood. When we stand close together and lift where we stand, when we care more for the glory of the kingdom of God than for our own prestige or pleasure, we can accomplish so much more.

Every Calling Is an Opportunity to Serve and Grow

No calling is beneath us. Every calling provides an opportunity to serve and to grow. The Lord organized the Church in a way that offers each member an opportunity for service, which, in turn, leads to personal spiritual growth. Whatever your calling, I urge you to see it as an opportunity not only to strengthen and bless others but also to become what Heavenly Father wants you to become.

When traveling to the stakes of Zion for the purpose of reorganizing a stake presidency, I have sometimes been surprised when, during an interview, a brother would tell me that he had received an impression that he would be in the next presidency.

When I first heard this, I wasn’t sure how to react.

It took some time before the Holy Spirit gave me understanding. I believe that the Lord has a certain calling for every man. Sometimes He grants spiritual promptings telling us that we are worthy to receive certain callings. This is a spiritual blessing, a tender mercy from God.

But sometimes we do not hear the rest of what the Lord is telling us. “Although you are worthy to serve in this position,” He may say, “this is not my calling for you. It is my desire instead that you lift where you stand.” God knows what is best for us.

An Assignment Only You Can Perform

Every priesthood holder stands at a unique place and has an important task that only he can perform.

We all have heard stories of how President Monson visits and blesses the elderly and the sick, always attending to their needs and bringing them cheer, comfort, and love. President Monson has a natural way about him that makes people feel better about themselves. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if President Monson could visit and watch over every family in the Church?

It would. But, of course, he can’t—and he shouldn’t. The Lord has not asked him to do that. The Lord has asked us, as home teachers, to love and watch over our assigned families. The Lord has not asked President Monson to organize and conduct our family home evening. He wants us, as fathers, to do this.

You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way.

Our Heavenly Father asks that we represent Him in the noble work of reaching out and blessing the lives of His children. He asks us to stand firm with the power of the priesthood in our hearts and souls and give the calling we have at this moment our best efforts.

Brethren, as strong as you are, you cannot and you should not lift a piano by yourself. Likewise, none of us can or should move the Lord’s work alone. But if we all stand close together in the place the Lord has appointed and lift where we stand, nothing can keep this divine work from moving upward and forward.

Brethren, may we cease to aspire and cease to retire!

May we always remember this profound lesson: that we are banner bearers of the Lord Jesus Christ, upheld by the Holy Spirit of God, faithful and true to the end, each one devoted to give our all to the cause of Zion and bound by covenant to stand close together and lift where we stand.

For this I pray, and I leave you my blessing and my love in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.