Sunday, November 2, 2014

Air Bumps

As I mentioned in my last post (, I mentioned a that my greatest fear is falling from heights.  Note, I'm not afraid of heights rather falling from them.  I have been in many very high places without any problems: the Space Needle in Seattle, the Astoria Column in Astoria (which is probably more frightening by the way), etc.  My greatest fear is that I'll be visiting somewhere like the Grand Canyon, take one bad step and be pummeled to a pulp by the rocks below.  One of my greatest loves in life is flight.  I've always been absolutely fascinated with flight.  I've been to numerous air shows, seen both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels several times, and visited several air museums.  I love airplanes.  I loved watching planes takeoff and land while waiting to embark on my journey.  In fact one hobby that I play with from time to time is Flight Simulator.  I've spent many hundreds of hours flying virtual aircraft: gliders, small cessnas, 747s, and fighter jets.  I've flown all across the US and internationally.  In order to learn how to fly these aircraft (properly:)), I had to read a lot of material and practice the laws of physics with the virtual aircraft.  I wouldn't say that I have a deep understanding as to the physics which keep airplanes in the air, but I understand the basics and what must happen to stop the aircraft from falling out of the sky.

Having said all of that, I wanted to share a story from one of my flights during my trip this last summer.  I was originally going to share this only because it was kind of a funny story, but I was thinking about my experience one night last week.  At this time I thought of something I thought was kind of profound and applicable to our day.  On my way to Baltimore, I had a connecting flight in Philadelphia.  I had a couple hours to kill in Philadelphia, and for some reason I was filled with a bit of sense of dread over another flight.  It probably had something to do with the fact that I heard of a storm moving into the area.  As I boarded the plane, I could see the storm moving in.  As we took off, we made a turn, and ascended right into a huge black cloud.  As we started moving through the cloud, the plane started shaking and banking left and right.  It was a bit uncomfortable.  Suddenly, I was hit with the sudden feeling that the plane was no longer ascending, rather it felt as though it fell ~10 feet.  It was a bit unsettling, but nothing too bad.  Then it happened again.  Once we started ascending for the third time, we hit another dip.  This one lasted about 10 minutes, and we plummeted over 1000 feet, at least that's how it felt.  This one jarred me a bit, and I nearly took the armrests with me as souvenirs.  During this particular drop there was an audible gasp from the other passengers, particularly the one seated next to me.  I looked at her, and I thought she was about to have a heart attack.  After this drop, the rest of the flight wasn't too bad, but it was quite bumpy the rest of the way.

It was quite an intriguing thing for me the first time I thought about the thrill for me of flying 30000+ feet in the air coupled with my fear of falling from heights.  I was kind of scared witless at this flight when the fear overtook me.  As I looked back at this experience last week, I thought about this dichotomy.  Here I was with my love of flight, my experience in flying aircraft virtual as they may be, and all of the reading into flight dynamics which I've done, freaked out because of one fear.  In my mind,  I should know that the plane wouldn't just fall out of the sky.  Yes it is uncomfortable, but in reality it's really nothing more than a speed bump in flight.  I think that sometimes we take things in the Gospel the same way.  We have all this knowledge, experience, and testimonies about Gospel doctrines, yet we allow fears of the unknown completely unsettle us and rock us from what we already know.  The adversary know each of us and what can unsettle us.  He focuses on these weak points to attack us.  I know in my life I let that happen way more than it should, but as I've tried to remain faithful to what I do know and have faith in the Lord, He never lets me down.  He always brings me through those speed bumps.

As it turns out, the lady I was sitting next to was from Los Angeles and it was her first time flying as well.  I personally try not to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I felt that all things considered, I kept my cool throughout these bumps.  As we talked about it being our first flights.  I could see how nervous she had been, and it certainly helped me feel much better about the rest of the flight when I knew she was in the same position.  I don't know for sure, but she did seem to calm down too.  I also think that is quite applicable to life.  Sometimes all it really takes is a good friend who has been through the same or similar situation to help calm us down as we go through these speed bumps of life.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Through the Clouds

I hadn't really planned on writing this post today, but I felt that I should, partially because I really need it today.  As I mentioned in my last post (which I still haven't updated) there were a number of lessons which I took from my summer of twists and turns.  Some of the lessons I learned involved my flights.  One of these was very timely in my life, and is one which I am reminded of often.  One quick fact about me that many may not know is that my greatest fear is falling from heights.  I'm not afraid of heights.  There's a difference.  It is quite interesting when looking at flying, which will be another post in the near future.

With that last piece of information, it should be said that turbulence during my flights were somewhat uncomfortable.  On my flight from Baltimore to Phoenix, our plane took off, and we had to break through a blanket of white clouds to reach our cruising altitude.  One of the strangest sensations I found when flying was cutting through the clouds.  It was kind of cool, but there was a bit of an unsettling feeling for me as we flew through the clouds.  At least on this flight the clouds were white instead of very black, again another blog post upcoming.  As we went up through the clouds, the plane shifted slightly and bumped around a bit, with a couple of stomach-churning drops.  After several minutes of passing through the clouds, our plane finally broke through.  What I was able to witness at that moment was quite simply one of the most stunning scenes I've ever seen.  Basically, I could see the layer of clouds that we had just passed through a few hundred feet below.  Above us several hundred above us was another layer of nice white clouds.  We were effectively flying right between two layers of clouds which stretched as far as I could see all around us.  Out the window the sun made its way through the clouds as it was setting.

It looked kind of like this, but the sky was brighter and more colorful.  It was just incredible.

I was taught from this situation, that in our lives we are called to travel upward through the clouds.  Times get really turbulent, and often we feel as though we are not going to get out.  Yet if we trust in the Lord, and hold on He will eventually pull us up above the cloud and treat us to an incredible view.  I was just taught taught something else as I was writing this post.  Although we never crossed through that second layer of clouds above us, I believe that in life we will continue to have those layers of clouds above us which we will be called to pass through.  If we want to find better views, we will continue having to break through the clouds which hang above us.  We will continue to experience turbulence as long as we seek progress in life.  It may not be comfortable and convenient, but comfort and convenience bring complacency.

As I mentioned earlier, I got the opportunity to apply this lesson shortly after this experience.  I won't go into much detail, but shortly after my trip, I started preparing to go through the Temple to receive my endowment.  I made my appointment with the Temple 2-3 weeks beforehand.  From the morning I made the appointment, I felt an incredible increase in the amount of adversity in my life.  For the next couple of weeks, it seemed like everything in my life was unsettled and I struggled a bit.  I never thought the two events weren't connected.  I firmly believe that there was someone who didn't want me to make it through the Temple.  As I was going through it I knew that had I gone through this a few years ago, I may not have made it, but I held on, sometimes holding fast to the armrests of my seat.  I can say that the ride was completely worth it for the view which I received.

So if you are ever caught in the turbulence of life, hold on.  Hold fast to the armrests if necessary.  The Lord will bless you, and He will pull you through it if you are faithful to Him and look to Him and His angels for help!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer Fun

Hello again everyone!  I am back from the dead.  I'm just providing some updates about my summer.  In a word, my summer was crazy.  It was a real rollercoaster period of time for me.  Life took so many twists and turns, and I had some peaks and valleys.  Overall my summer was very very good.  Some very big, important and exciting things happened in my life.

First, start with this video.

(Video will be inserted as soon as my dang computer starts cooperating)

This was a video which I recorded and created a blog post towards the beginning of the summer.  However, I had some problems uploading it.  For now, I will just say that the video provided an update on my life for the previous 9 months.  The "title" of the video was Everything is Awesome (you know, from the Lego Movie), and it described how at that point everything in my life was awesome.  Well, not quite everything, but I felt very good about where I was in life.  Within a week of me recording that video, I lost my job kind of rending the video pointless.

I lost my job in the beginning of June, which was very conveniently timed to occur right as my rent for the next school year came due.  In a way it was kind of nice because I was able to take a couple days and do things that I wanted to, but couldn't because I was spending 40 hours a week working.  The rest of my time was spent taking care of the other basics of life (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.).  However, I don't enjoy too much time with nothing to do anymore, and it kind of got old.

Then one day out of the blue, my brother called me and presented an idea to me that I absolutely loved.  Since I didn't really have anything keeping me in Logan at the current time, I could fly out to visit them on the East Coast.  It took a couple days of planning and adjusting schedules, but it worked out to get me out there in the next couple of weeks.  A couple days after we made plans, I got a phone call from my former manager asking me if I would like to come back as situations had changed.  I wasn't expecting it as it was a mere 10 days ago that I was let go.

I was filled with so much joy for this trip for several reasons.  I got to see my brother and his family whom I haven't really seen for a couple years.  I got to go see Washington DC which was always a place I wanted to visit before I die.  I also got to fly for the first time in my life, which is really big to me because I've always been a fan of aviation, and I've spent a great deal of time flying virtual aircraft.  It was a real thrill to go airbourne.

After spending a week back east, I returned to Logan and began working again at my former employment.  The next Sunday brought the biggest, and most important, twist of all.  I was asked to visit with my Bishop.  He told me that my name had been recommended for a calling.  As we went through the interview we got on the subject of the Temple, and, long story short, I received my recommend to receive my endowment!  I was really pumped about it because I had been preparing to receive my endowment for some time, earnestly for the past year.

After a lot of planning, I finally received my endowment on August 9 in the Idaho Falls Temple.  The really cool thing is that things worked out that most of my family was able to be there with me in the session.  It was awesome because it was the first time in a long time that so much of the family could be together.

I have since learned to really love and treasure the Temple.  I go there frequently, at least once a week.  I sometimes end up going two or three times a week.  It's really awesome that I live three blocks from the Temple.  I can literally decide to go to the Temple, get ready, walk to the Temple, and be in a session within half an hour.  I love it so much.

To finish off this rollercoaster ride of a summer, I decided that it was time for me to move on from my job for a number of reasons, which I may discuss at a later time.  It was a very difficult decision for me, and one that was filled with much prayer and Temple attendance.  However, it has proven to be a great decision as I have had some really awesome opportunities already.  I get to sing with LDV again, and I have made many new and wonderful friends.  Some friends that I've had before have become even closer.  I've also possibly decided on a completely new direction for my life.  I have a new calling which will test me and help me grow.  I am having a blast!

That is pretty much my summer in a nutshell.  I will be posting more specifically about some of these experiences and the lessons I've taken from them a bit later.  Now that I've resurrected my blog, you can experience more of my deep inner thoughts!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

E'en in the Darkest Night

Here is a quick video I threw together sharing some thoughts I had today.  I wanted to get this out as quickly as possible, so I may have forgotten something I wanted to say.  Pardon my voice, I started losing it the last couple hours today.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


This is one of those topics that kind of meshes together fitness and life.  I had an experience a few months ago.  I had come to Logan for a career fair up at USU.  I had arranged to stay at my aunt and uncle's house while I was here.  I was in my final weeks of my first round of P90X.  During this time, I was feeling kind of discouraged by my lack of results, and I was having one of the moments which I still always have where I feel as though I'm going backwards in my fitness goals.  As I was in this mood, I happened to be changing my clothes in front of a full length mirror.  I had been in front of a mirror many times in the last few months, and I just wasn't seeing the changes.  This time, however, I was standing on the other side of the room from the mirror.  Usually I stood right near the mirror.  What I could see as I looked at myself suddenly caught my attention.  For the first time ever, I actually saw the very faint, very soft outlines of some abs.

As I pondered on this occurrence, I thought that this is just like life.  Sometimes we need to stop focusing on all the details of life, and instead we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in life.  I know that I often get frustrated by life and the happenings within, or more often the not so happenings.  I tend to think of myself as a pretty laid back person who can just go with the flow of whatever happens, but sometimes I have my own little plan that I want to have happen.  When things don't go like I plan, I can easily get frustrated and discouraged.

I think back to another experience I had a few years ago while I was attending USU.  In what was my most difficult semester, yet the best semester of my life, I often found myself on my knees pleading with God to help with all the things which I had going on.  I was in one class in particular that was just frustrating to me.  It was one of those classes where I felt as though nothing I did was right.  It annoyed the heck out of me.  I had one of those weeks where every teacher gave me 100 papers and 20 midterms.  I was really starting to freak out a bit.  One night I was saying my prayers, and I prayed for the strength to help me get through the week.  Suddenly, I could almost feel someone grab a hold of my head and turn it a bit.  It suddenly dawned on me that I was halfway through the semester, and the Lord had really blessed me greatly during the semester.  He had already helped me get to the point I was at.  In that instant, I knew everything was going to be alright, and it was.  I survived my crazy semester and that crazy dumb class.

Sometimes life just seems overwhelming with all the challenges which can be thrown our way.  In those difficult times is when we really need the Savior the most, and we look to Him to help us.  As we take a step back and change our perspective, we often find that He has been there helping us all along.  He will keep us going even in the hardest times if we will let Him carry us.  It's a hard thing to do, but sometimes it's better not to get caught up in the little details of life, only to miss the bigger picture.  Life is too short to worry about those little details.  Instead we should just be enjoying life and enjoying the journey.

I Walk

Okay, I will be the first one to tell you that I'm weird, strange, peculiar, crazy, etc.  I've been told many times as such because I walk everywhere.  In fact, I was recently reprimanded by one of my good friends because I was about to walk home at 11:30 at night.  I don't really know what to say except that I love to walk everywhere.  In fact that was one of the things I missed most about going back to Burley for the few months I was there because I now had access to a car.  When I lived in Logan before, I would often walk to the grocery store if the weather was nice, but I always rode the bus home.  Now I walk to and from the grocery store.  I just love walking, and there are a few reasons why.

  1. It is a great form of exercise.  I love exercising and working out.  Walking around town helps me to get just a bit more, which is nice since otherwise I'm pretty much sitting all day.  In fact when I went through my big weight loss a few years ago, most of the exercise that I did was just walking to and from campus everyday up that monster hill.  Now I love the extra exercise I get, and I love the extra burn which I get from carrying some groceries with me.  If you are in need of a good leg workout, try walking 2.5 miles carrying 40 pounds of produce on your back and in your hands.  That will work everything, and your calves may literally explode.  It hurts in such a good way.
  2. It saves me money.  No car payments, insurance, etc.
  3. I get to observe the world.  I am a self-diagnosed people watcher.  I just love observing people and the world around me.  When I walk, I get more time to make observations that just can't be made whilst riding/driving a car.
  4. I get to be alone with my own thoughts.  I especially enjoy walking alone in the dark, and I know that my mother just freaked out.  As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I am introverted, and I enjoy being alone sometimes.  Walking allows me that time.  At the same time, all exercise is a great brain stimulant which increases productivity and thought process.  I often have many of my best thoughts while I am walking.  I think about life, the Gospel, whatever is on my mind.  I have some extremely spiritual experiences while walking.
There are obviously some drawbacks to not having access to a car.  It's often a pain for family when there is an event going which I must get to, and get back from.  There are times when I need to be in another city that is far away that makes it tricky to get to.  It can be pretty annoying to walk to the grocery store in the middle of a blizzard.  But overall, I just love walking everywhere.  I honestly believe that if we would walk more as a society, many of the problems which we face would go away.  The air would be cleaner, gas would be cheaper, etc.  I will often accept rides if they are offered to me, or I will ask for a ride if an event is just too far for me to get to on time.  But if you ever offer me a ride, and I decline just know that I'm crazy and probably just want to be left to my own thoughts for awhile.

Life is Difficult, and I Love It

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been thinking quite a bit about life the last few months.  Part of my pondering has been driven by the difficult time which I've been going through lately.  I find that in my current state I have a lot of decisions which need to be made.  Some of these decisions are mutually exclusive while others aren't.  I've spent a great deal of time praying to know what it is that would be best for me to do.  After several months of continuing this, I finally received an answer.  I was told that the answer to my prayers would not come easily.  Rather, I just needed to act in faith on these decisions, and the Lord would help me in whatever I chose.  I started to think about life, and I realized how difficult many of the things of this life are.  Many of the things which we choose are difficult because they require us to do something we aren't terribly comfortable with.  For instance, many of the difficulties which I currently face constantly test my comfort zone socially.

I wanted the answer to come easily, I wanted a job to magically appear for me.  As I thought about this it didn't make any sense to me why it would come easily.  If it were to come easily what would I gain from the experience?  How would that benefit me?  How would I change?  Isn't that kind of the purpose of this life?  We came to Earth because we were sitting there in the pre-mortal existence, and we could see God and all that He is.  We wanted to be like Him, but we couldn't in our current state.  We had to grow and develop in different ways to become as God is.  I think we looked at our current mortal state as a challenge.  We saw it as something that was difficult to do, but at the same time it was necessary for us to be changed enough to be as God is.

I love to exercise, and as I've gained knowledge about nutrition and fitness, I've found many parallels between them and the Gospel/life.  When exercising, we don't get change and results by doing the same thing over and over again.  We can't expect to lose weight/fat by eating the exact same way and moving in the same way all the time.  We only get results by doing things that are hard and out of our comfort zones.  To see the biggest changes in our physiques, it requires pushing ourselves further and further, near the point of physical exhaustion.  Such is the way of life.  We have to continuously push ourselves.  Convenience brings complacency.

I mentioned in my last post that I believe we chose our own missions for this life, with guidance.  I have personally been told my mission in life through my Patriarchal Blessing.  When I first heard it, I was somewhat underwhelmed by it because I didn't really understand it.  However, I now see it being fulfilled around me every day of my life.  I've come to love the mission which I have.  It's something that comes very naturally to me, and I was fulfilling it long before I had heard it.  At the same time, it is something that really requires me to push myself beyond my comfort zone.  It requires some work on my part, but I know that with the work comes change.

The struggle for me is to always remember this fact.  I often find myself losing sight of this, and that is when life almost seems unbearable at times.  Just remember, when life is hard, it's for your good.  Think about how it will allow you to change and progress.  With the difficult times in life comes an opportunity to become more Godly.


As you may have noticed from the majority of the posts I have written for this blog, I've been thinking a lot about the Atonement.  Another topic which I've been pondering about a lot recently is life.  I know that that is a pretty specific topic, but one which I believe that holds a small amount of attention.  When I'm speaking of life, I'm not just talking of birth to death, rather I'm thinking about pre-mortal and post-mortal existence and they way in which the three parts fit together.  I'm currently working on a theoretical analogy of all existence comparing it to a university.  There are still several holes in my thoughts, but I think it works.  I may even share it at some point when I get it fleshed out a bit more.  I would just like to point out that many of my thoughts on this subject are just that, my thoughts.  It may not necessarily represent Church doctrine, some have some basis in the scriptures, but most come from my trying to understand as best as I can.  There are many things which I hope to learn whether it happens when I go through the temple or when I pass beyond the veil.  Unfortunately I find that I'm quite ignorant about many things on the subject.  Unfortunately, I'm not Brother Salmond and Moroni doesn't regularly visit me.

One of the things which is ever-present in life is the idea of agency.  As I have been studying and pondering upon life, I have found that agency is really one of the biggest laws in action throughout the process.  As I think about it, Satan used his agency in the Grand Council of Heaven.  Those who followed him also exercised their agency.  I can see that God told them that Lucifer's plan wouldn't work, and Lucifer would rather leave God's presence than live by His plan.  I don't know if they fully understood the consequences which would result from their choice, but they made it all the same.

In the same thought, we made the choice to come to Earth so that we could progress to become like Him.  We had to actively make a choice to follow God's plan, and as a result we came to Earth to be tested.  I know that we have missions in this life, something for which we were foreordained to accomplish.  I believe that we actually made an active decision as to what we wanted to accomplish while we are in mortality.  I think we made this decision, but we did receive guidance from God as to what our mission is.

Of course we have agency in this life.  We choose daily those things which we do.  Some of the things which we choose has a major bearing on our lives, others not so much.  All of these decisions come with their own set of consequences, again many of these decisions have little impact on our eternal salvation.

I believe that one of the biggest exercises of agency will come on Judgement Day.  I'm currently reading "The Continuous Atonement" by Brad Wilcox.  I really like this book because it states many of my beliefs about the Atonement.  One of the thoughts which I have had that was also stated in the book talks about agency in Kingdom placement.  I used to think, especially when I was wrapped up in my addiction, that we would be judged according to our works against some type of bank account which accounts for everything good and bad thing we've done would sum up.  The final balance would then determine which Degree of Glory we are assigned to.  Lately though, I've been thinking that instead we will be able to use our agency to choose where we end up in the end.  I think that when we come before the judgement seat, we will decide for ourselves based on our actions and learning where we should be.  In this case, Christ wants us to come to be with Him, but some will make the decision not to do so.  I've been reading the Book of Mormon, and there is a chapter in 2 Nephi ( I think) which talks about this.  There will be those who in that day will see the Savior and actively turn from Him.  My heart ached when I read that.  I wasn't sure how someone could do that.  (I will update this post when I find the reference).

The more I learn about life and agency, the more glad I am about the existence of this law to govern us by (although some people don't use it correctly).  It helps us to grow and develop in this life to get to be like God is.  Something for you to chew on anyway.

Yes, I am Quiet

Yes, I am quiet.  I am fully aware of that fact.  It always makes me laugh when people point that fact out to me as though it is some new revelation to me.  It's just kind of who I am and who I've always been.  I've been told pretty much my entire life that I'm really shy and that I need to talk more.  I've never liked the word shy.  In my understanding of the term, I am not shy.  Yes, I have momernts or situations where I am shy, but who doesn't.  I may have more than others, but I don't have those social fears and anxieties much of the time.  An experience that I had when I was fairly young further solidified my dislike for the term.  In elementary school, our school counselor came and talked to our class about something, I don't even remember what it was.  But what I do remember, he said that shy people are shy because they think they are better than everyone else.  I'm not sure all these years later if that's actually what he said, but that's what I heard.  I was blown away by that.  Here I was always having been told that I'm shy, and now I'm told that it's because I think I'm better than everyone else.  This is the complete opposite of the truth.  Part of the reason I remain quiet so often is because I don't want to say something that offends anyone or makes someone dislike me.  That's really what I want is to be liked by people.

As I mentioned in my last posts, I had a lot of issues which hurt me in a lot of ways in my teen years.  During this time of my life, I started to crawl further back into my shell to hide my pain.  My addiction took the worst part of my personality and made it worse.  It soon became a game for me.  I would often go to school and literally wouldn't say a word all day.  People could just see that that's who I was, and it entertained me to see what people were willing to do to get me to talk.  It just really became who I was.

I didn't, and still don't, always like the fact that I am so quiet.  It drives me nuts sometimes that I don't take advantage of opportunities or get passed over because I am quiet.  I've wanted to change this fact for some time, but have just never been able to do so.  In the last year and a half or so, I've started learning something that completely changed  the way I look at my personality.  I finally heard about the terms extrovert and introvert.  The more I read about it, the more I have realized that I'm not shy, rather I'm just introverted.  Basically there is just a difference in the way my brain works compared to extroverts.  The way that I would kind of describe it is that there is just some kind of disconnect between my brain and my mouth.  It takes me a bit of time to get my thoughts from my brain into words coming out of my mouth.  I have a hard time with small talk because my brain and mouth just don't work quickly enough to really keep up.  There are times when I accidentally talk without really thinking, and it always just comes out mumbled garbage.  I trip all over my tongue and it just doesn't work.  I've learned that it is okay that I am like this, but I would like to make improvements.  That is why I try to do some things that are really out of my comfort zone, like writing these blog posts.  I don't know that many of the things about my personality will change.

I do often have thoughts and opinions on certain things, but, the way my brain works, I figure that if nobody asks, nobody cares to know.  I'm working on it.  If you want to know what I'm thinking, just ask.  I will probably tell you.  You may want to give me a minute to think about my answer, but I will generally let you know.  I will let you know if I don't know or if I really have no preference or whatever.  Feel free to ask me anything.  The thing I think many people don't realize is that I'm terrible at small talk, but I could talk about deeper subjects like life, health, etc. for a good while.  So just let me listen and observe and feel free to include me even if I don't say much.  I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything my brain just works differently.  Help me to overcome my weakness!

Here are a few things from around the Internet which kind of sum up my feelings.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Many Tender Mercies

Several months ago, I wrote a post talking about the tender mercies of the Lord in my life.  I would like to briefly touch on the topic again because I recently had an experience where I saw several more of them.

My previous post can be seen here:

Two weeks ago on Valentine's Day, Latter-Day Voices got to sing at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.  We were performing the winning selections of music for the Church Music Festival.  It was a really big performance, and I greatly looked forward to the experience.  As I sat on the bus riding back to Logan in the dark, I had an opportunity to reflect on the tender mercies which I had experienced during our trip.  I will touch on three of them, although there were several others which I found.

One of my greatest weaknesses in life is that I often forget to do rather small yet meaningful tasks.  I don't often forget big things, no matter how much I may like to, but I often forget the small things.  I think that I just do a much better job at looking at the bigger picture rather than looking into the details of any situation.  It's very simple that these things just completely escape my brain.  In fact many of these things I often remind myself over and over to get it done, but when it comes time to actually do it, I just forget.  I can't tell you how many assignments and papers I've left in my apartment through my school years.  Usually all day before I leave, I remind myself to grab an assignment, and I often purposely lay it somewhere I can't possibly forget it.  However, as I head out the door, I inevitably forget it.  Sometimes I remember before I get too far, but I have also frantically re-done an assignment in class when I realize that I've forgotten it.  It drives me absolutely nuts.

This occurred again on the day of our performance.  We were just heading out to the buses after meeting our little girl to head to Salt Lake.  As I passed by Brother Salmond, he asked me if I was feeling better as I had been a bit sick.  Then in a moment he said something that made my heart stop.  He asked me why I hadn't shaved.  In that moment I suddenly realized that I had never actually shaved, after reminding myself all morning and making sure my razor carried enough charge to get the job done.  I couldn't believe it.  I had seen myself several times that morning in the mirror, and for some reason I didn't notice.  No one had asked or said anything about it until Brother Salmond said anything.  I worried a bit the entire way to Salt Lake.

On the bus, I tried not to worry too much, I eventually received peace in my mind.  I was told that one way or the other, it would all work out.  Either someone would have a razor I could use to shave, or I would get to enjoy listening to the rest of the choir sing.  Through the grace and mercy of the Lord, someone else in the choir had also forgotten to shave, and I was able to borrow his razor.  I was quite relieved!

As I mentioned above, I had been sick the week of our performance.  I started feeling it coming on Sunday night.  I was rather ticked because I was about 4 days removed from finally overcoming all of the symptoms of my last cold.  Strangely enough this cold affected me quite a bit differently than every other cold that hits me.  Usually I feel colds in my throat first.  My voice is often one of the first things to be negatively affected by a cold; however, this time the cold stayed pretty much in my head.  I was mostly just stuffed up.  My voice was affected, but except for the really high extremes where I never really sing anyway, my range wasn't affected.  The only thing that really suffered was the power in my voice, especially nearing my bridge.  Otherwise, I was just stuffed up and really tired.  I was able to continue to sing as we neared the performance though.  The night before the performance I was saying my prayers, and I prayed that, even if it was for the next day, I would be able to get over my cold so I could sing.

The next morning I woke up, and after getting rid of some junk in my nose and throat, I felt pretty dang good.  I felt much the same way I typically feel the last day of a cold.  I didn't really sing much that morning, but as we rehearsed in Salt Lake, I received a bit of a surprise.  I felt that most of my power had returned.  I would put myself 90-95 percent.  I was able to sing beyond my capabilities that night. 

Then an interesting thing happened.  I woke up the next morning feeling really tired and weak.  I was all stuffed up again, and my voice was absolute trash.  I could barely sing at all.  These feelings continued for the next few days.  The Lord truly blessed me with a bit of a miracle that night so I could sing.  With those two tender mercies, it would appear to me that someone wanted me to sing at the performance.

The third tender mercy which I noticed was a much smaller thing.  It happened as we were standing on Temple Square to load up for our return journey.  I'm not sure how long we were standing out there.  It was an absolutely gorgeous night, and the temperature was just about perfect, especially after being in the hot Assembly Hall.  Eventually the buses got there to pick us up.  I had spent much of the time just taking in the scenes around me.  I looked at the temple and the buildings at the City Creek Center.  As I exited Temple Square, I got a glimpse of something in the distance which I hadn't even thought of looking for.  As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I love visiting the Christus whenever I can.  It has always been one of my favorite places to be.  Suddenly, I saw the Christus on the opposite side of Temple Square.  There stood the Savior with His arms open to receive me.  I was again reminded of His love for me.  It was truly an amazing day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Learning the Atonement--Come to the Master

As I mentioned in my last post, the Atonement is my favorite topic within the Gospel.  It is the idea that really saved my life spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.  It is the foundation upon which I have continued to build my testimony of the Gospel, and it is the means by which I have been able to continue to grow.  I am incredibly grateful for those things which my Savior has done for me to take away all of my pain, my friends, and my guilt.

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that Alma 36 is perhaps my favorite chapter within the Book of Mormon because it really is a pattern of my life and how I feel about the Savior.  Before I truly allowed Him into my life and let Him help me, I truly felt that I was much like Alma the Younger.  I was constantly racked by the memory and guilt of my sins. I always felt unworthy at church, and I felt unworthy to do many of the duties and responsibilities which were before me.  During my darkest time, I even felt unworthy to pray to the Lord, to unworthy for His love.  That night when I received such a powerful witness of my Savior's love for me.  The pain immediately began to subside, and I knew that His love could bring me through and bring me healing.  Since that night I have tried as best as I could to share the love of God with others.  I just wanted to be good all the time, and never turn back to my sins.  It's interesting that the entire Book of Mormon is basically a giant chiasmus, and Alma 36 is the center of this chiasmus.  Alma 36 itself is a chiasmus, the center of which is verses 17 and 18.  In these verses Alma recalls the memory of Jesus Christ and the power which He had to save us from our sins.  Christ and His Atonement are truly the center of this Gospel.

My favorite scripture of all time is Alma 7:12-13.  I love this scripture because it made the Atonement so personal to me.  I first found this scripture randomly one night while reading my scriptures.  In my infinite wisdom, I didn't write it down, but I remembered what it said.  I finally found it again many months later.  The thing that I love about this scripture is that it says that Christ would take in himself all our infirmities, which includes our pains, sorrows as well as sins, so that He would know what we feel.  Because He knows how we feel, He can heal us.  Through this scripture I came to know that He knew exactly how I felt, including those feelings of loneliness.  He knew my pain, and He wanted to help me get rid of that pain.

Because of life's situations, I moved back to Burley last August.  I came back to Logan to hear all of my choir friends sing at the Logan Tabernacle early in the semester.  They sang a song titled Behold the Wounds in Jesus' Hands.  I loved this song as soon as I heard it.  I was extremely pleased when I got to join Latter-Day Voices again to sing it with them.  As I began rehearsing the song, something caught my attention in the last verse.  Here are the words:

Behold His wounded hands and feet!
Come touch, and see, and feel
The wounds and marks that you may know
His love for you is real.
Then as you fall to worship Him
And wash His feet in tears,
Your Savior takes you in his arms
And quiets all your fears.
It's kind of hard to describe what I heard, but I will attempt to show you because I think it is really cool.  In the music the second through fourth lines are punctuated: Come touch and see and feel.  The wounds and marks that you may know His love for you is real.  However, Brother Salmond directs it differently.  I'm not sure this is done intentionally or not, but the way I heard the words was: Come touch and see and feel the wounds and marks that you may know.  His love for you is real!  I just love this way of looking at the words.  Those wounds and marks which Christ bears are the result of Him taking our pains and our sins.  Put another way, our pains caused the wounds of Christ, they are the same wounds which we create when we sin.  In this way we can look upon the Savior and recognize specific wounds which He bears in ourselves because they are the wounds we carry.

I just want to throw these two conference talks in here.  I don't really have too much to say about them because it is Elder Holland speaking.  The first one is one of my all-time favorite conference talks.  It describes many of these things which I have been writing about Christ feeling our pains, sorrows, and loneliness.

This one is a talk that my Bishop had me read as we continued to meet together.


O Divine Redeemer

Last year in Latter-Day Voices we spent much of the year singing about the Savior.  I loved pretty much every song we sang, but my favorite from the entire year was O Divine Redeemer.  This was my favorite because it was so personal to me.  It was pretty much my life summed up in a single song.  I remember those nights approaching Heavenly Father in prayer pleading for Him to receive me even though I was unworthy.  I remember those times when darkness gathered all around me, and I just felt lost and alone.  However, I also know the sweet joy that comes when the Savior took away my sins and pains.  I just love this song so much.

One of my absolute favorite places to go, especially when I was younger, was the visitor's center on Temple Square to visit the Christus.  I always loved going to see it and hear the words of Christ read.  I often begged to go to Temple Square just to see it.  I loved it so much that I always carried around a small picture of the Christus in my scriptures for years.  I now have a small Christus which I received for Christmas several years ago.  Every time I moved, I made sure that it was someplace where I could easily look to it as a constant reminder for me of the love of Christ.  I am eternally grateful for all that He did for me, and all that He will continue to do for me.  I am grateful that He was willing to suffer through the Atonement so I could find peace in my own life.  The power of the Atonement is real.  It is accessible to all.  Christ gave us all the opportunity to receive its blessings.  All we have to do is accept Him as our Lord and Savior, come unto Him, and strive to be like Him.

A couple years ago, I was in a Book of Mormon class at the Logan Institute.  In this class we were discussing Alma 37.  In verses 6-7, we read that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  I soon found out that this had great meaning in my life.  After my witness that Jesus was my Savior and Redeemer, it was not anything big to help me overcome my addiction.  Rather, it was the continued small things which helped lead me in the path of discipleship.  Reading my scriptures daily, praying daily, attending church meetings, magnifying my calling, serving others, etc.  These things gave me the power, through the Atonement, to overcome my weaknesses in this issue.

I would plead with anybody who reads this who carries pains, sorrows, and burdens to come to Christ and allow Him to take your burdens from you.  He doesn't want you to carry them alone.  He wants to help you.  There is always hope.  I spent much of my life feeling beyond the reach of His arms of love, but I can testify that you are never too far beyond His reach.  He is always there to catch you when you fall.  He is the way to happiness.

*I just want to stick a quick note here.  I'm really sorry about any ramblings, poor organization, whatever in this post.  I have learned and continue to learn just how massive the Atonement is.  I probably have more I wanted to say, but I felt that I needed to get this posted as quickly as I could.  I will most likely come back and edit this post at some point.

I also want to again thank everyone for the love and support which you've shown me through this series of posts.  It was not an easy thing, but I think it was the right thing.  You've all shown me just how loved I truly am.  You are all amazing people, and I love learning from you.  I will probably be writing more posts on the Atonement later, but I think I'm ready to move on to something else for a little while.  These posts put a bit of a toll on me, so I think it's time to write about something else (unless I feel impressioned otherwise).

Monday, February 3, 2014

Learning the Atonement--Addendum

So, this isn't the fourth part which I wrote about at the end of the last part, but I needed to make sure that I wrote this little note quickly.  It was praying on my mind all of last night.

First of all, I just want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the love and support that came my way with my posts yesterday.  It really helped me see how many people out there love me.  The response that I received is another example of why I love you all and love the Gospel.  So, thank you all again!

I just wanted to point out that the response I received kind of threw my plan for this series out the window.  I originally had intended to write 2-4 posts detailing my story over several days.  The first post was just a look into what I faced.  The rest of the posts would be filled with the things I learned, scriptures, conference talks, etc. as I told the rest of my story.  However, within a few hours I started receiving messages and calls sharing help for my problems.  I loved the response.  The only problem is that my problems are in the past, and I have long since moved past them.  Please don't lose any sleep over me because of my posts yesterday.  I am fine now, and always trying to be an upstanding human being.

I just wanted to quickly write about why I've done this to bring people back around and preview my next post.  I love the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It is my favorite topic of the Gospel because it saved me, as told in my last few posts.  I wanted to share my story of healing through the power of the Atonement.  When I originally thought and planned out my posts about this topic, I hadn't planned on sharing specifically what my sin was, but pornography is a great disease right now in our lives.  It affects just about everyone in one way or another, and I know that many people in the church struggle with it.  I decided to share my struggles in the hopes that someone might read it and come to know that healing is very much possible through the power of the Atonement.  The next post, which may be a few days from now will better look at many of the things I learned throughout my struggles.  It is really the meat of this series, and the reason why I wrote this post in the first place.

Thanks again everyone, but please don't lose any sleep over this.  If you haven't already read it, here is part 3 where I overcame my addiction.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Learning the Atonement--All the Difference

In my fourth semester at USU (Spring 2011), I did something that I hadn't done before while at USU.  I sat myself down and forced myself to sign up for Institute.*  I signed up for a Book of Mormon class with Brother Salmond and I decided to give the Institute Choir a try.  I soon realized that both of these choices were very inspired decisions.  These two classes were both instrumental in my recovery.

About a month into Institute Choir, we had our first performance entitled The Lord of the Small held at the Logan tabernacle.  I was still somewhat unsure about my like/dislike for the choir at this point.  If I remember correctly, the Institute Choir sang three numbers that night, and Latter-Day Voices sang a couple as well.  The Institute Choir sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives, I Stand All Amazed, and both choirs sang The Lord of the Small.  The songs were to be sung in some order, interspersed with three guest speakers; however, one of the speakers didn't come to the fireside.  I'm not sure if it was ever found out why, but at the last minute the order of the program changed.  We ended up starting the meeting off with I Know That My Redeemer Lives.  Before I describe my experience this night, I would just like to make it known that I personally never cared too much for this hymn.  I've never been able to explain why, but for some reason I just didn't like it too much.

The arrangement of the hymn was very simple, and the men were to sing the second verse alone.  Here are the words we were singing:

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul's complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.
As we began singing this verse, I suddenly felt as though I was hit by a wrecking ball of the Spirit.  In that instant, I knew that Jesus Christ was my Savior.  I knew that He suffered the pains I had been carrying with me for so many years, and I knew that He would help me find healing if I accepted Him as my Savior.  I am the type of person that just doesn't cry.  I don't really know why that is the case.  I will occasionally tear up a bit, but they hardly ever come out.  At this time, I just couldn't help it, and I full on cried.  I was seriously bawling through the rest of the song.  I somehow was able to sing through the rest of the song, but I just felt so much joy, happiness, and peace at that moment.  This was the night that just changed my life forever.  I will always remember it very distinctly.

I just wanted to touch a moment on my Book of Mormon class.  Similar to my feelings about choir pre-fireside, I was unsure about this class.  Remember that I was a person who was broken in many ways, especially socially.  I was really quiet and wanted to hide in the back of everything to be completely unnoticed.  Brother Salmond is not quiet.  I soon came to love this class though.  I learned so much about the power of the Book of Mormon and of the Gospel while in this class.  It seemed like so often Brother Salmond came into class telling us that he wasn't planning on sharing something from the Book of Mormon, but he just felt that he needed to teach that principle.  Pretty much every time he did this, he was speaking to my needs about some great principle on the Atonement.  One thing that really changed my life came from 1 Nephi 4.  Here in the scriptures Nephi cuts off the head of Laban (1 Nephi 4:18).  We had a lengthy discussion in class about cutting off our heads of Laban which prevent us from progressing in the Gospel.  My personal head of Laban was pretty easy to identify.  I learned a ton in his class, so much so that I wanted to re-take this class when I returned to Logan in January.  I will probably share some of the things I learned in future posts.

With these two institute classes, I was able to make decisions in my life to stop defending the problem and instead go after it and attack it.  I still hadn't been ordained an Elder as of yet because I just didn't feel right about it.  I didn't feel anywhere near enough worthy to do that.  My Bishop had the secretary set up an appointment to discuss this situation.  I wasn't sure why I was asked to set up an appointment beforehand, but as I walked to the appointment, I just felt very heavy.  I leveled with the Lord and told Him that if the opportunity presented itself, I would discuss my addiction with my Bishop.  The Spirit took over in the meeting, and I came clean.  As I walked home afterward, I just could not stop smiling.  I was so happy.  I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders.  Looking back at those couple hours, I realize that my life followed very closely to the pattern of Alma 36, which is probably my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, if not all scripture.

During this semester my growth everywhere, but especially spiritually, just took off.  I just could not seem to be stopped.  I met with my Bishop a few times to discuss my sins.  It was such an amazing feeling to be able to honestly answer that there were no issues when being interviewed for my ordination, my temple recommend, and my patriarchal blessing recommend.  A few weeks later, on Easter Sunday, I was ordained as an Elder.  By this time I was roughly three months into my latest string of freedom from pornography, something that would last me through the summer.

I had a very small relapse during the fall semester.  That is exactly how I looked at it.  A small setback, not a major disturbance.  My growth was continuing greatly.  I was serving in my favorite calling, where I served as a Vice President of the Institute Choir.  I loved the calling so much, and I was able to feel the Spirit so strong.  I was becoming so busy that I really didn't have much time to be around pornography.  On November 19, 2012, I intentionally viewed pornography.  Two days later, I was finally set apart in my calling.  About this time, we set a goal as a music council that we would all set an example for the two choirs by reading from the scriptures seven days a week.  I took on the challenge, one that with a few odd days in the bunch, I carry with me to this day.  November 19, 2012 was my last intentional brush with pornography.  I can honestly say that I have been clean from using pornography for over two years now.  It is such a freeing thought to me.  The Atonement works, and it can help anybody with anything!

That is where I will end this part.  There will be one more part where I discuss some of the aftermath, and I will gather my learnings from this period of my life.  I realize that I skimmed over a lot of stuff in these three posts, I'm sure that there are things which I really wanted to share but didn't end up doing so.  If I think of anything like this I will share in some ways.  I just wanted to get my story out there.  I tried to give you over ten years of history here people.  I'm only human after all.

*I just wanted to add kind of a fun little story here.  It really has nothing to do with the bigger topic, but it is something that still tickles me to this day.  I forced myself to sit down and sign up for Institute over Christmas Break 2010.  I hadn't really sung much outside the confines of my own walls at this time  One night during the break, I had a dream that I was singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I knew many of the people in the choir which consisted of people I knew from Burley as well as Logan.  Okay, so it may not have been the Tabernacle Choir, but it was my dream folks, so I will say it was the Tabernacle Choir.  We were, however definitely singing in the conference center.  In my dream we sang two songs, I don't know what either of them were.  What I do remember is that I knew the first one, and sang it accordingly.  The second, I did not know, but since I was singing in the Tabernacle Choir, I just mouthed the entire thing to avoid looking like some kind of idiot.  A few days after this dream, I signed up for Institute Choir, not thinking about the dream.  Fast forward to the Institute Choir.  That semester, unbeknownst to me, the men of Logan Institute got the opportunity to sing at the Priesthood Session of conference.  I actually got to sing in the conference center, which was beyond cool by the way.  The other interesting thing is that at the fireside I wrote about in this post, we sang, unplanned Go Ye Now in Peace at the end of the fireside.  Because it was unplanned, we hadn't rehearsed it.  I had never heard the song in my life, so I just stood there in the choir loft mouthing along, trying not to look like an idiot.  In the process I probably looked kind of like an idiot.  Again nothing really important, but something I found quite interesting.

Learning the Atonement--Here is Hope

The night when I questioned having a testimony.  I set out on a bit of a journey to find what I did or did not believe.  It was not an easy journey, but I knew that I needed to know what I believed.  I made a more concerted effort to read my scriptures and pray.  I made a journal to help me figure a lot of things in my life out.  In many ways I felt like I was back in primary.  My issues were still there, but I noticed that things were improving somewhat in that regard.  I still wasn't attending church in Twin Falls, but I did go when I returned to Burley, which happened fairly frequently that semester.

In May 2008, I graduated with my degree from CSI.  I officially finished my degree in the summer of 2008, with a degree heavily tied to the construction industry.  Because of the joys of the economy during this time, jobs completely disappeared, and I moved back to Burley with my parents.  This soon became one of the longest periods of my life.  I found it difficult to feel much self-worth when I was creating nothing to society.  I soon found myself being overtaken by depression a bit again.  Unfortunately, one of the escapes that I turned to was pornography.  The progress that I had been making went completely out the window, and I relapsed in a big way.

Through a series of events in December/January, which I may talk about in a future blog, I decided to return to school, and I decided to attend Utah State as an engineering major.  In January 2009 I also started a new calling in my home ward.  I started teaching the 12/13 year old Sunday school class, the subject of which was Teachings of the Prophets--I can't remember the exact name, but it's something similar.  For those who don't know it is a class which teaches the basics of the Gospel.  What better way to re-learn the Gospel than teaching the basics?  This calling really helped me during this time, it helped with my lack of self-worth, and the additional time studying the Gospel helped me feel the love of the Savior in my life.  This started my longest streak of days without turning to pornography which lasted some time into the beginning of my time at USU.

My first year at USU, I was trying to set myself up for success.  I still wasn't in my scriptures too often, and prayer was spotty.  I was going to church every week though, and it made a huge difference in my life.  Eventually I relapsed again, but unlike last time.  I took this as a personal challenge.  I was done having my testimony shaken by this thing, and I knew that with the help of my Savior I could overcome this obstacle.  I remained active in the Church, and was doing my best to bring my life back in tune with the Gospel.  This year was extremely tough for me mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  I was able to let a lot of things go in my life, I changed my major, and I lost ~70 pounds.  I was just starting to become a different person, but I just couldn't seem to get rid of my addiction.  I struggled with these things for the next three semesters, but I was always able to pick myself up after each fall.  I was making progress in my addiction.

Learning the Atonement

This is an extremely difficult post for me to write.  As I mentioned in my last post, there would probably be some really emotional things for me to write about.  I was thinking about this post, or series of posts, when I wrote that.  It is honestly one of the most frightening things to think about writing, but I felt that it needed to happen.  I knew that I would be writing something on this subject shortly, but I figured it would be a couple of posts down the road.  I even had my next post somewhat planned out, but I just couldn't stop thinking about this particular post.  All day as I have been fasting I have been thinking about it, and it has been weighing very heavily on my mind.  I knew that it was time to start this topic.  The topic itself lends to some fear, but it became even scarier for me as I thought about what exactly I wanted to share.  I pondered, prayed, and researched to better understand what I wanted to share and what was appropriate to share.  I changed my mind several times about sharing everything or not.  After much thought and prayer, I have decided to share much more than I originally intended.  I do this with the hope than someone can find some benefit.  I hope and pray that what I share does not create a cause for judgement.  I just love this Gospel so much, I think many of the things I write may help someone out there.

I will be splitting this topic into several posts because it is a huge topic to discuss.  I am basically sharing over ten years of my life which very few, if any, people know about.  I have a lot of thoughts, feelings, and material to share.  As such I figured that it would be better to start a series of posts rather than one freaking huge post.  Doing it this way also makes sure that I actually go through with this rather than chicken out at the last moment.  This first post will be somewhat of a backstory/setup post for the meat of my thoughts, but it is also by far the most difficult one to write.  It is likely that after posting I will want to add/change some things within the post as I think of other things I want to say.  So, here goes.

When I was around eleven or twelve years old, I got to browsing the Internet, looking at stuff that I probably shouldn't have been in the first place.  I kept looking at this junk, and through it, I had an encounter with pornography.  I have the kind of brain that just seems to have some sort of trap on it, and I just remember stuff really well (unless it's remembering to take something important with me, but that is a subject for another post).  As soon as I saw that garbage, I knew that I shouldn't be seeing it, but I just couldn't unsee or stop thinking about it.  I knew within the next 24 hours that I was in trouble and had a problem, but I was too afraid to say anything about it.  I figured that I could just forget about it and move on, but that just wasn't the way it worked.  It was always right there in mind.  Within a few days I knew that I had become addicted, but I just couldn't tell anyone.

This started a new cycle of lying and covering up to my family.  I immediately hated myself for the things which I got myself into.  Each time I viewed this filth, I vowed to never participate again, only to relapse again a few days later.  As my teenage years progressed, I became much worse.  I looked at everything much differently.  I looked at people, especially females differently.  I didn't like who I had become, but I felt like there wasn't much I could do to change that.  I felt kind of like slime all those years going to church and seminary and serving in the Priesthood with this junk going on in my life.  I don't know but I think that I was truly depressed from all of the effects that pornography had on me.  I basically went to church, sometimes read my scriptures, and sometimes prayed because it was what I was supposed to do.  I was just completely failing.  The social shell which I had naturally come with become a much more comfortable home, and I found myself just wanting to be alone much of the time.  I didn't really have much to do with anyone outside of school once I hit junior high and high school.  Pornography was honestly just ruining my life.  While this was all going on, my addiction just became worse rather than better.

Upon my graduation, I went to the College of Southern Idaho.  On my own for the first time in my life, the wheels just completely fell off.  I still tried what I could to get over my problem, but things just became so much worse at college.  I truly became a shell of my former self.  I didn't go to church, I wasn't reading my scriptures, and I wasn't praying.  It all kind of came to a head one night as I was in my apartment.  I looked at my life and what I was involved with.  I had just again relapsed, and I was hit with that all too familiar feeling of being completely empty.  I felt completely abandoned, like I was truly alone.  I felt that my Savior had left me completely alone.  I remember lying on my bed, and I questioned myself as to whether I even had any kind of testimony anymore.  I then had a thought that scared the daylights out of me.  Have I ever had a testimony of the Church?  I decided at that moment that this very broken boy had to find out.

That concludes this post.  I again hope that this post hasn't come between myself and the reader in any way.  I know some of these things may be difficult to hear.  They were extremely hard to write.  That third paragraph alone took me about thirty minutes to write.  I originally didn't intend to be specific about my issues growing up, but I felt that someone who may well read this may need to see what I was dealing with.  In some ways it is really nice to have it out there.  For those who read this that may have been somewhat skeptical about the effects of pornography, especially the addictiveness of it, it is real.  It really screws with your brain chemistry, and it is not easy for many to overcome.  An excellent book that I would recommend for anyone wanting more info on the effects of pornography on the brain is He Restoreth My Soul by Donald Hilton, linked at

*Updated with a better link for the book.  I would also like to point out that this book is great at discussing the cleansing power of the Atonement in general, not just for pornography addiction.

I know that this was somewhat of a heavy post, even excluding some of my own thoughts/feelings, but much like the book of Isaiah, I will follow up this post of doom with a post of hope very soon.  Thank you to all of you who read this post.  I love you all!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One Lower Light

You may find yourself asking why I have started a new blog, especially considering I don't update my other one too often.  The truth is that I was noticing that my other blog was quickly becoming more and more a commentary on my health and fitness journey.  After giving a lot of thought to the matter, I decided to start another blog with a different purpose.

Those who know me know that I am a fairly reserved person.  I have always been told that I am quiet, shy, etc.  I realize that this is one of my great weaknesses in life.  I have worked over the last several years to help remedy this situation.  While I am much better than I used to be, I still realize that I have a long way to go before I get to where I truly want and need to be.  I really don't express my thoughts and feelings very well to others for several reasons.

Having said all that, I thought a good way to help me overcome these weaknesses is to start blogging some of my deepest thoughts and feelings.  This blog will help me do that, but there is another, bigger purpose behind this blog.  I want to assert my love for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I don't do a good enough job of sharing my testimony with others, and I don't do well with sharing insights and learning of gospel doctrines.  Through this blog I will try to share my thoughts and feelings on the things I read and learn.  Many of them may be extremely hard for me to share emotionally, but when is life supposed to be easy?

You may notice that the background of this blog is a lighthouse.  I have always loved lighthouses.  On my family's trips up the Oregon Coast, some of my favorite sights were the different lighthouses.  They provide a great symbol of our Savior.  They provide a sign of peace and protection, even in the roughest storms.  In the hymn "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy", we are reminded that while Christ is the great lighthouse, we are given charge over the lower lights.  These lower lights, in conjunction with the lighthouse, help guide ships into the harbor.

This is the reason I chose this URL and the title of this post.  I hope that through this blog I can act as a lower light and help someone draw nearer to the Savior.  I intend for this blog to not always be centered around Gospel topics.  I will sometimes talk about my thoughts on certain topics of life, and hopefully the blog won't be too serious all the time.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh a lot because life is too short to be too serious.  I also hope that this can be somewhat of an open discussion.  I would love to be taught by anyone who reads this as well.  So will you join as I find my in life?