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.