Friday, December 28, 2012

Lying to Myself

The nicest thing about being home for Christmas is family. Any drama that occurs is created by my siblings and all their friends here at home but I typically don't bring much if any drama with me.  Still, being home is a great way to relax because it gives me time to think and reassess how things in my life are progressing.  Again, school is going great and hopefully I am on my way to grad school once my recommendations are all in.  Religiously... I could be doing a lot better. And socially... I think I have finally come to terms with what my family has been saying all along is my real issue: I am too forgiving.



Maybe it is the fact that I always feel like I fall short myself and it is so hard to make headway in my life.  Maybe I do have issues with self-esteem.  Maybe it is a higher road than that, I want to forgive others because I too want to be forgiven.  Maybe I give people too many chances because I wish that if I love others they might love me back in return.  I don't know what my reasons are and I don't know why it has taken me so long but I want to change.  I need to pick myself up spiritually and socially.  I need to work out my issues and my problems and face the facts.  I need to start exercising and spending time to make myself stronger.  It is not a bad thing to give people the benefit of the doubt if they actually deserve it but it is another thing to lie to myself wishing that people were more blunt and honest with how they really feel when I know what they are really trying to say.  It is time to cut the crap and be me.  Time to grow up.  Time to become who I need to be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breathing Easy

Finals week is always interesting for me.  So many people are stressing and freaking out because suddenly their semester is real.  They have classes they ignored for the last few months, projects and assignments that are beginning to form either a little too late or sometimes at the last possible second.  For me, finals week is typically pretty easy going.  I have been busting my butt all semester long and my grade honestly can't change that much any more no matter how I do on the final exams.  This semester in particular has been a breeze: one in-class final, one testing center, one take-home, and two oral presentations where one of them I just have to show up and look good.

The other part of finals week that is odd for me is how I end up spending my free time.  With a time intensive major like engineering, finals week is fantastic!  I suddenly have all this free time that I haven't had all semester!  I am more than willing to put in the hours I need to in order to do well but I also have all the rest of this time where I can just enjoy myself!  Movie marathons and hours of music are a must for finals week, even the occasional date or two is a nice touch.  I have seen a few different movies recently that are pretty good: Sweeny Todd, The Rise of the Guardians, Skyfall (3x), and over the break I will be adding to that list Les Miserables and The Hobbit (which I watched the rest of the LOTR movies in anticipation).  And sadly enough, I typically meet the most interesting people at the end of a semester and unless there is a real mutual desire to stay in contact, they more often then not disappear by the time the new year rolls around and I roll back into Provo.  However, I am hopeful that things can always change.

But there has been a lot of interesting new artists that I have been introduced to as of late.  Here is just a small sample of the music I have been listening to or introduced to lately to get me through finals and back home to New Hampshire:

  • Tyrone Wells
  • Ron Pope
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Allred
  • Sleeping With Sirens
  • SafetySuit
  •  Joshua Radin
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Andy Grammer
  • Matchbox 20
  • Outasight
  • The Script

    Anyways, I have been wasting enough time myself.  Not much left now and then Christmas is right around the corner!  Things will fall into place and when they do. hopefully I will be grateful enough to realize that God was just waiting for me to get my act together and everyone else involved.  Anyways, best wishes for everyone going through finals right now and Merry Christmas to all!

    How Do We Define Ourselves...?

    I have always been a deep thinker and most of the time I keep my deeper thoughts in private places but this once I want to share a thought that caused me to take some time to self-reflect.  When you think about you... How do you define yourself?  Are we defined by our past?  The successes of days gone by mixed with the lessons learned from failures and mistakes, I feel only paint a picture of actions, circumstance, and a shadow of a former self.  Some people sadly enough can only see that former self and they live in the past and forget the future.  Others who also suffocate in the shadows may do so because others may not let them move forward or forgive or be forgiven for former sins.  But again, I don't believe this paints the whole picture of a person although understanding it may help to see how far a person has come.  The distance that we have progressed in our lives may add light or compassion to our love and appreciation of another.

    As much as we cannot dwell in the past, we also cannot spend away our days dreaming of a future.  Some people define themselves by their goals and their dreams.  Life is characteristic of change.  Life has unexpected turns and so dreams provide perspective but we cannot equate failure in unfulfilled personal expectations.  We need a forward thinking perspective and we need goals in order to arrive at our eventual destination but there is not one profession, there is not one chance, there is not one dream that will lead to happines but there is one way.  My testimony and faith in God and in my Savior Jesus Christ have helped me find that way but that is a discussion for another time and another thought.  My point is that dreams and wishful thinking only goes as far as the action that accompanies it and is necessary as a part of life... determination, enduring faith, charity for your fellow men, and hope for a future.  These things again help to add depth but are unable to define a person.

    My impression is that the only person who can know who we really are, outside of our Creator, is ourselves.  I was always taught that character defines a man.  The thoughts and feelings and things that we do or say when no one else is ever watching.  If that is true then no one else really knows who we are!  Our outward actions may be accomplished for a variety of motives, many pure and some not so much.  At times the way we treat others, a complete stranger or a friend or even family, is a reflection of how we treat or view ourselves.  Still, no one else really knows us and so they are in essence unable to define us.  They can theorize.  They can guess.  They can assume.  But we define who we are and who we will become.  Our past is already written but that does not define the direction of our future.  Our world is ever-changing and so we too must adapt our plans, or in the words of Dan in Real Life, "plan to be surprised."

    I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to stop thinking of ourselves through titles and decisions and mistakes and dreams.  We should not ignore our responsibilities!  We should continue to be a faithful spouse, a dutiful and loving parent, a teachable and humble child.  We aught to continue to live life the way we have been, unless there are ways in which you can improve or find greater joy or happiness then necessity would deem us to change.  But I am trying to say is that if we strip away all those things... a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a student, a boss, a dreamer, an adventurer, a partier, a planner, in a relationship, married, single, alone... Ignore all of those things.  Deep inside, how do you define your character?  What personal attributes or characteristics do you have?  What kind of person have you become?  Are you the kind of person that you always wanted to be?  Who are you?  Have you taken the time recently to really look at yourself in the mirror and seen yourself for who you really are, both good and bad?  This was the question I wanted to pose.

    Limited Perspectives and The Right One

    I have had a lot of interesting conversations as of late with a variety of different people, friends and family alike.  There were a lot of different topics involved but the overall thing that I found most interesting was my own thoughts on perception.  By this I mean that as I would discuss various idea or topics with other people it was interesting for me as I listened to focus on the perspectives and perceptions that we all adopted and how those were crucial in the way that we understood things.

    We always hear that it is important to make a good first impression, pretty much in every situation. In order to do this successfully, you have to remember your manners, be able to identify from the setting the kind of language that is appropriate to use in the conversation and your role in that conversation, recognize when you are supposed to be a leader or a guest, and lastly you have to not check yourself out at the door.  If you are going to make a good first impression you have to be you.  Sometimes what we forget is that these first impressions are a test to see if these other people like us or approve of us in some way in an effort to meet their standards: dating, interviews, or strangers in a social setting.  When I say that we forget, I mean that we focus too much on trying to meet those standards and just be our true selves.

    I understand that we all have a need for being accepted by other people - not everyone and maybe not even whole heaps of people but we want to be accepted by someone else.  Everyone will make preliminary and intermediate judgments when it comes to other people and they will make choices according to what they perceive.  This is why I think it is so important to be true to yourself and be yourself.  I never want someone else to think I am something that I am not and then judge me for it.  Still it is also important for us to understand that we don't know why they made the specific decisions.  We can't fill in the blanks for their reasoning because we don't know all the facts and extenuating circumstances.  Dating examples, if you are stood up on a date you have to think about a few things: how specific were the details (solid time and place or was it relatively vague in order to allow flexibility), are there any number of reasons why they were late or didn't call (travel issues and cell phone issues), and is it possible that life just simply got in the way?

    I am trying to say that we all have our own reasons for why something may have occurred but in all reality we won't know for certain.  It is easy to choose to be offended or disheartened when we don't get the response that we are looking for but... patience, forgiveness, and an eternal perspective help to keep all things in their proper perspective.  Ask questions if you need to but listen with understanding and love.  Don't be the hypocrite but be teachable and humble, seeking for correction.  This principle is so very important because it would be so sad to actually have to start over and be back at square one when we could have learned from our little failures or mistakes and have stayed farther up on the path of life, fallen forward and not having slipped all the way back to the beginning.  It is tragic to have lost so much time and not have learned from the experience.

    The other lesson I have learned is simply this: No matter how important it is to make a good impression or to have other people see you in a positive light from their perspective, the way you see yourself and the way that God sees you are most important. Self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence... They are all based on who you are.  You have have justifiable self-worth if you love God, do His will, and care more about what He thinks about you rather than what everyone else thinks about you.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Pretending

    One of the things I chose to do when I left high school is to stop pretending that I am someone that I am not.  I was super shy and I never felt like I was able to be myself and the stories go on and on about how I was everybody's friend but I just didn't say much.  It was partly self-esteem, partly fear of failure and rejection, and partly a lack of inexperience.  I didn't enjoy high school.

    Right now, I am not reverting to my old self but I am being asked to pretend to not express how I feel.  Patience is a hard lesson to learn and like I was telling one of my friends last night when she was asking me about her girl problems... All problems that face girls begin and end with men and so really it was boy issues... But the issue always is that we as men are able to stay friends after a period of dating up to a point.  Once we break that point in the dating period, we can't just be friends if the relationship ends.  I have been able to stay friends with almost everyone I have ever dated except one and that relationship still needs closure if it really is over.  The reason I mention patience beforehand as well as pretending is because right now, the only way I can stay friends with her is to pretend that all of our memories and experiences and good times that we shared... every smile, every laugh, each touch... that none of it ever happened and that it never existed.  Yet those are the very things that binds me to her with what feels like an inseparable bond.  I still love her and I know what is expected of me is to act as if I don't.  She knows.  And I know that I need to be there for her as a friend but I can't do or say anything about how I continue to break down inside each day as I wait to see if she will ever realize that no one can ever love her or accept her or forgive her like I can.


    Women Problems

    Men Problems


    Pretending to not care... pretending to not feel... pretending to in essence to be heartless towards that one person that taught me how to love unconditionally literally feels like it is killing me day by day. Men have problems too.  It is because we are asked not to feel when we do.  If only she accepted the fact that she still loves me and that we still have a future together.

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    The Fires of Faith

    Suffocating in the beauty that surrounds me
    Pained by this disabling despair,
    Not knowing what feelings should be felt
    Only knowing that alone I do care.

    How do I break these bonds of anguish
    And set free light trapped within,
    How do we let go of love and life itself
    Only to start over once again.

    Does freedom come in no emotion
    Abandonment of every feeling,
    The deepest wound is in the silence
    Loneliness that sends me reeling.

    How does one be happy for another
    When he himself is consumed by grief,
    How can one with no eye for the future
    Hold on tight to faith and belief.

    Humbled unwillingly by the sorrow
    Driven forward to my knees,
    Crying out as I have done for ages
    A Father in Heaven pleading please

    Forgive me my trespasses and take my burdens
    Help me navigate this storm,
    Heal my heart - fill me with thy Holy Spirit
    Through my life purpose form.

    Take back with thy arms this fallen soldier
    Hold him tight in warm embrace,
    Come to aid him in this his long lost battle
    Don't delay but come in haste.

    Although I feel the darkness clouding and surrounding
    Hope from past experience tells,
    That no matter how deep the pit nor how gloomy
    There will be an end to all my hells.

    Whether in this life or the next does not matter
    In my darkest hour He does come
    To rescue a drifting soul lost not forgotten
    My Savior, the Only Begotten Son.

    We who are all of grace the most undeserving
    An entire world damned by choice,
    Still loved seemingly by a God most forgiving
    Justified only by a Brother's voice.

    No explanations nor further reasoning can be given
    Just let go and I will carry you.
    Love the pain, love the healer
    Unconditional love give I unto you.

    So here lies encircled by temptation and by doubt
    A weakened, bloodied, badgered soul
    O Dear Redeemer, my Dear Redeemer
    Make me a sinner once more whole!

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Stay

    I've got my mind on you
    And I don't know what to do
    Cause it's been so long since I've felt like we're okay
    Baby I just wanna know what is gonna make you stay

    I've had my mind on you
    Well over a year I knew
    That you were drifting down a separate road than me
    I just wanna know if our loves enough to make you stay

    You'll never know how much this kills me everyday
    I've been tryin' but I don't know what to do or say
    So please don't go I know it'll never be the same
    But baby you're so far gone is my love enough to make you stay?

    I've had my mind on us
    But it never seems to be enough
    Ive been searching for a way to walk away
    But I know inside my heart that our loves too much I've got to stay

    You'll never know how much this kills me everyday
    I've been tryin' but I don't know what to do or say
    So please don't go you know I'll never be the same
    But baby you're so far gone is my love enough to make you stay?
    Ya baby you're so far gone is my love enough to make you stay?

    Unavoidable

    I have tried to look to different outlets in order to avoid pouring myself out here but it is pointless.  This is where I can be honest with myself.  The last few months have been a lot of smoke and mirrors and unexplainable emotion.  When I think about who I have been it is a shadow of how I truly feel but more of me pretending to be what I want to be... Which at the moment is happy.  I think the best I have heard it put was by one of my friends that was remarking on how I have been handling the stress and pain I have been through of late.  He said talking about my life, "Most people ride a roller coaster when it comes to their lives but you, you have the 'fun one' that everyone tries to avoid."

    I have done everything that I can do to stay true to who I am.  I have done everything to keep my covenants and be worthy of them and the priesthood I hold.  I have worked hard and studied hard.  I have tried to focus on other people and be grateful for what I have.  I have served. I have loved. I have been doing my best.  Yet I still am not happy.  And it isn't that I am just sad.  I wish it was only sadness.  I feel broken... discarded... forgotten... torn... passed by.  I feel like to the person I love the most, I represent all the mistakes that were made and all the dreams she thought she could never have but was for a time in her reach but no longer deserves.  And because of this, I feel like the only thing I can do is continue to move forward and do the best that I can understanding that what my best is varies day to day.  Yet there is some days that the tears are only inches below the surface and when they finally come they don't feel like they will ever stop.

    So I begin to rethink my life and try to see when I was happy and what was different, where did I go wrong, where do I need to improve?  I want to change and repent and be happy again.  My mind goes back a little less than a year ago when I was with Tatiana.  When I was physically with her and we were together, I have never been happier.  I was the best I had been and yet, I wanted and was becoming better.  She made me want to change.  She made me want to shoot for the stars.  She made me feel loved and complete and confident in who I was and yet I needed to be better!  I have never loved someone so much before... I thought about her all the time, I wanted her to be happy, I wanted to surprise her and be with her, I wanted to see her smile, I wanted to hear her voice, and no matter what was going on she made things right again.

    Now... I don't see how to get from where I am to where I want to be.  It doesn't matter if it is grad school, career, a future family... It all feels empty without her by my side as if I lost my soul when I lost her.  The hardest thing about how things ended was that we had made mistakes in the past and we had worked them through, we were willing to talk about the hard things and confront them, and even though our relationship was far from perfect, we were willing to continue to move forward, but the hardest thing was I don't think we broke things off because either one of us no longer loved each other.  I feel like we both legitimately wanted it to work and were willing to make it work.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that I loved her... That I love her still.  And in despite of my mind telling me to let go and that there is no chance it could still possibly work, my heart screams out to continue to hold on even for just one more day.  Let go of what though?  The feelings?  The memories?  The lessons and experiences?  Don't let go of her?  I love her!  I forgive her for her mistakes as I hope that she will forgive me of mine.  I want to start over and fall in love all over again.  I still can see a future with her.  I still want what's best for her... her dreams, her happiness, everything.  But the unavoidable question is in what she wants, where do I fit in?  And the answer to that is I don't know.  I have no idea if I ever even cross her mind when I just feel in every possible way tortured in not being with her and being able to help her.  Some nights I am woken up because my body is shaking with the tears that are coming from having my heart and soul torn in two.  It is hard to explain or even put this kind of pain into words, similar to how the numberless amounts of texts or messages I have written only to delete before sending them.  The words that have gone unsaid are because I have learned from this relationship in particular that if only one person is talking then it begs the question of whom is the other person relying on to listen.  I need to listen.  I need to be ready and I need to wait for that conversation to begin.  I have to be patient.  If I am going to wait then I need to see if she will want to come back to me.

    Yes, I have lost a lot and I am in a lot of pain, but the amount of growth and the kind of things I have learned... I would willingly go through this emotional hell and purgatory all over again to feel that happiness and love even if it could only be for one more moment.  I will never think of her as the girl that got away or the relationship that failed because it was the one that worked.  She was everything that I could have ever asked for, wanted, wished for, and the best thing that had ever happened to me.  I have no idea what is ahead of me any more... But I have never once lost a sense of direction to keep moving forward, however that doesn't mean that I have moved on.  I am still wanting, wishing, waiting and praying that she might realize like I have that we are worth fighting for.  But faith propels me forward and I am hoping that this new Tatiana will be there as part of my future.  If not, then I hope that I will recognize and be open to whatever God has planned for me because although this lesson was invaluable I only ever want to learn it once.

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    My Life Is Never Boring

    Sometimes I feel like my life can be pretty boring and that I don't have a lot to do outside of school.  I realized tonight that is never the case.  Tomorrow along with going with my ward to a ward temple trip in the morning, I will have to go to Walmart and get my glasses adjusted because tonight I got into a small scuffle.  Let's just say that sometimes the Lord puts you in the right place at the right time so that you can be used to help the right person.  Long story short, my history in wrestling and cross country helped in assisting my roommate in keeping his brother safe by pinning him to the ground in the woods with me on top roping him in with a half nelson and my roommate standing on his hand until he calmed down.  There were some little tender mercies along the way in this story but it ended well and I came out with only a few little bruises and scrapes but I will need to get my glasses checked out tomorrow along with doing some stuff with my car.  But ya, what else would you think I would end up doing in Provo, Utah on a Friday night besides that?  I am going to need some sleep but I admit now that my life is really not that boring.  Who knew that this was what I was going to end up doing as roommate bonding time!  God works in the most interesting ways.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    The City Lights


    One of the things I do when I can't focus and I am a mess, I go on walks to talk things over and get centered again.  My favorite time or maybe it is the only time I can do this is at nights.  You can feel like you are the only one there and the rest of the world has gone to sleep.  Still it is amazing that as you walk around even late at night that the city lights give off this aura that dims the night sky.  The world is able to keep us from seeing the light of heaven so to speak.  Either way, it was one of those things that when I get to walk around I get to thinking and begin to really listen.  Sometimes we just need that time to listen right.  And learning to listen - That takes a lot of discipline.  It isn't the person that we were or even are but the person we are striving to become that really matters.    But it does take listening to that Spirit inside each of us that makes the difference.

    Prayer and Fasting

    So I have been doing better lately than I have in the recent past but some days just seem to be harder than others.  I try not to entertain thoughts of discouragement and doubt but occasionally they linger a bit longer than I want them to.  They are feelings of why should we keep going, how much longer can you continue like this, or what is the point in your plans when so much rides on the decisions of others.  It is just a feeling that comes out of nowhere that as you stand on the street corner you wonder what it would be like if you just walked out into the middle of the intersection and laid down... Not carrying about the outcome but just wanting to close your eyes and be able to not feel any more.  I have felt that way at times but I know that would only be the easy way out.  I don't know if these feelings come from doing things that bring back memories of times when we were together and doing those same things now that we are apart but it tears me up inside to a point that I can not really describe but the pain and the loneliness is so immense.

    I know that God has a plan for me and I know that the trials we are asked to face don't last forever.  If I endure them and endure them well than hopefully the lesson that I need to learn or the attributes I needed to gain will come quickly and if not then I only hope and pray that God will give me the strength and the patience that is required of me.  I always hope for the happy ending and maybe it will come in time but right now I am in a lot of pain and I am doing everything I can to hold it all together.  As I was walking home from campus today, I just ran my hands through my hair until they were behind my head and as I tilted my head back and closed my eyes, I felt the sun on my face and the tears as they began to slide down my cheeks.  I prayed.  I prayed that God would let me come to Him.  That He would be there to embrace me and hold me as I felt my heat and my spirit break just a little more inside of me.

    The only thing I can really do is try to focus on the things I can control.  Right now I am working on my schooling, making time to study my scriptures and attending the temple, but whenever an opportunity arises where I can help someone else or I can see the needs of others I do not hesitate to come to their aid.  I am not trying to downplay my situation or pretend that right now I don't feel broken and at times compelled to be humble or even feel less than I am, but I know by looking outward that the Atonement will have greater effect in my life and as I obey the commandments I will find that peace that surpasses all understanding.  God's love is so amazing and so many times I feel like I am not worthy of it or even deserve to be heard or noticed by a perfect and holy Creator but I guess that is why it is so wonderful.  I am grateful for the sacrifices that have been made in my behalf and I hope that I can live up to the faith that my Father in Heaven has in me.  I only hope that I will see myself as He does and that clarity will once again return to me in helping me understand and see what my future holds.  At those times when I am breaking or silently crying out in excruciating pain, I know that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  I have come too far to give up now but I am also not so prideful to realize that I can do it or have done it on my own.  So if you are reading this, please... Please... Keep me in your hearts and in your prayers.  And also, please pray and fast for Tatiana.

    An Eternal Perspective

    Typically I do better in writing what I have learned or feel but in continuation of my last post, I think it would be best just to provide you with my notes on our lectures about how to keep an eternal perspective and what an eternal perspective means.  It may feel a bit lazy for me but I don't have time to do much else with so much on my plate and so much more on my mind:

    God has been there in the past and He will be there in the future… Learn and grow and have faith in the future that someday you will return to live with God and be eternally happy with your family.  If we lose this perspective, life becomes a roller coaster.

    Elder Scott said that when we have an eternal perspective that we make choices based on right or wrong and when we have lost that perspective we make choice on circumstance and what we desire now.  If chose to make decisions under circumstance we will eventually make serious sin.  They have no direction or foundation that comes from living the Gospel.  Do not look at others and their successes because many times when troubles come, their character shows and many will crumble if they are not centered on Christ.

    Many times we are asked to set aside what we desire now for a greater blessing in the future.

    "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.  Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation" (2 Nephi 26:24)... Salvation is a process as is happiness… This isn't tied to an event or a person because we are likely to lose those in time… Lord will not perform anything that is not for our benefit.  Happiness can still be found in opposition.  It is not one or the other.  Our depth of love is also associated with the amount of the sense of loss that we can feel if that person is lost physically or spiritually.  As we fall short of our potential we do not have a fullness of the Spirit of the Lord or of happiness.

    "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:27)… Opposing forces, choice, happiness versus sorrow and misery… God has given us everything we need to be happy… God knows what is expedient for your happiness and it has been given to you… Look for those things and realize that every little thing doesn't need to go right… In relationships, we need to see that there are many good things and our lives don't need to be perfect nor our spouse needs to perfectly meet our needs… Expand your happiness… The Savior is expedient for us to overcome the struggles or afflictions we face… We are not islands but God has given us many resources or many people in our lives to help us… Faith in God's plan and understanding that God knows who we really are… Trials help build us through opposition by choosing God's plan

    "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33).
     
    The Lord provides patterns for us so we can learn to maintain an eternal perspective.  Patterns are there so we will not be deceived.  The greatest pattern for us to find success is The Plan of Salvation.  You can't follow telestial patterns and get celestial results.  Patterns provide us to receive things with exactness.  Patterns produce consistency.  Greatness is measured day in and day out.  Patterns keep us safe… Keep your covenants and you will be safe.  Patterns produce confidence.  It doesn't matter what level of activity we are in the church or our family… We follow the patterns set by the Lord and we can be confident that we are doing our best.

    When you don't have to be thinking about anything else, where does your mind go?  You need to find something that you love so much that when you don't have to think about anything your mind goes to that thought.  An eternal perspective starts in our minds.  Are your thoughts mostly about yourself or others?  Are your thoughts mostly positive or negative?  Whichever kind it is, your thoughts will continue to be that kind.  Become positive and look for the good.  Are your thoughts mostly on things temporal or things of eternity?  Look outward, look for the good, look for God.

    What grudges do you bear?  What excuses do you cling to?  How do we face the unknown if we don't have an eternal perspective?  It is paralyzing and challenging if we don't have that perspective.  We always want to see the end from the beginning… Ether 6:12  We must learn to watch to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness and then the light will move just ahead of us again.  Faith will help us move forward.

    GPS… Longitude, latitude, altitude… As long as you have the destination and you follow the directions given to you, you will arrive there.  We need to stay connected to the doctrines past, present, and future.  We have moments where we can see ourselves in past, present, future all at the same time.  An eternal perspective connects all of those three.  Goals... Priorities... Standards…

    Goals bring purpose and direction because without them time will just float by and they are stuck in mire of time.  We need to progress to perfection and that requires goals and constant self-evaluation to move ourselves forward.  Practicing helps us know where we are in our short term goals and determine our progress.  But as we set those goals we need to keep the end in mind.  The means are just as important as the end goal.  Patience...

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Foundation of Friendship

    I have an absolutely amazing LDS Marriage and Family Relations professor this semester who has been a friend out of a class and a source of inspiration for me throughout the semester.  If anyone wants to take a class from him, I would highly suggest it and his name is Dr. Kent R. Brooks.  Anyways, this last week we were drawing comparisons in class between our relationships and portions of the Plan of Salvation: Pre-Mortal Life and the Creation.

    The Plan of Salvation, or similarly called in the church The Great Plan of Happiness (click on it because it is a link to an explanation) is in the most basic form God's plan for all of us.  It helps us realize the answers to questions of where did we come from, where do we go after this life, and what is the purpose of life?  It helps gives us direction of how we can become truly happy.  Two major portions of this plan is the pre-mortal life and the creation.

    Before we are born, we believe that we lived with God as His spirit children.  In his presence we prepared ourselves for our time here on earth.  We made choices and gained experience and knowledge but we eventually reached a point where we could no longer progress.  We progressed as far as we could go without receiving a physical body and we needed that body to allow for additional happiness.  Our happiness is linked to our progression.  And some of us made more correct choices than others and were more prepared for what was to come here in mortality.  So when it comes to relationships, we have a lot of preparation that we can do. Pre-mortality can be seen as our preparation that we need to do before we arrive at the next stage of life... meeting and recognizing a future spouse.  In our religion, we also believe that the greatest degree of happiness in this life and in the eternities comes from the family and a marriage that is centered on the gospel.  This kind of marriage is permanent and eternal and is based on obedience, trust, and a fullness of joy.  Each blessing is tied to the other: Obedience, Trust, and Joy.  The greatest compliment someone can give you is not to say that "I love you" but that "I trust you."


    When we consider the creation, God's purpose was to give us the opportunity to find lasting happiness and our eternal progression.  If we know that the purpose was again for us to progress in families and that we can find the greatest happiness through a marriage centered on the gospel, then we can look at courtship as the creation of a happy marriage.  Courtship helps us find compatibility, is a source of fun and an expression of social skills, but the end goal ought to be marriage.  With this perspective in mind, we make certain choices on how we date, who we date, and what we do when we date.  Creation took a long time so our preparation could take time.  There was a certain order to the creation and there was a spiritual side that took place before the physical.  Talking, communication, forgiving, friendship before kissing, making out, holding hands... certain things have to be created before others in a relationship.  The order that he suggested came from a talk by Bruce C. Hafen called "The Gospel and Romantic Love."  This order was: Friendship... Time... Understanding... Respect... Restraint... and Romance.

    Marriage is long so it is best to have a strong foundation of friendship.  A good friend can help us grow because they can tell us to grow since they have our backs.  We are more likely to forgive a good friend than a stranger.  We are loyal to our friends.  Timing is important for establishing a relationship.  There is such a thing as too long and too short.  The Spirit may prompt us to take the next step and if we continue to ignore that prompting the Spirit will leave us.  Time is relative but the important part is the quality of the time. Listening and understanding are inseparable. Understanding both what your partner's needs and perspectives are along with our own.  Much of the understanding we will receive about someone will come by the Spirit.  This is why we need to apply both our hearts and our minds to understanding not only what is happening but the background of someone and their past because that also affects their decisions.  The important part is that we have to care enough to understand.  We first have to understand our similarities and then work out our differences in an attitude of, "Help me understand."  We can connect with others and build that understanding is through the Atonement by our own suffering and repentance process. Respect has a delicate balance between seeing what people struggle with and what they overcome.  There are still so many more things that I learned and so much that I will continue to learn about looking at life with this kind of eternal perspective.

    When we have an eternal perspective that we make choices based on right or wrong and when we have lost that perspective we make choice on circumstance and what we desire now.  If we choose to make decisions under circumstance we will eventually make serious sin.  People who do this have no direction or foundation that comes from living the Gospel.  Do not look at others and their successes because many times when troubles come, their character shows and many will crumble if they are not centered on Christ.  Many times we are asked to set aside what we desire now for a greater blessing in the future.  My next post is going to continue this idea of an eternal perspective and how it can help us personally and in our relationships...

    Love and Persecution

    One of the things I have been doing a lot more is spending time at the temple.  The temple is a place for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make, keep, and remember special covenants or promises that they make with God.  It is a place where we can be renewed spiritually with other members who have also chosen to live the commandments and remain worthy.  We all make mistakes and lose our way sometimes but after sincere repentance we can once again go to the temple which helps us recenter and find the direction that we need to go.

    I have received a lot of direction recently as I have come with lots of questions.  Some of the things in my life that I thought were certain and understood, I realized have become shaken because of my choices and the choices of others so I am continually going back to the temple to find ways that I can improve and hopefully once again be given those same blessings if the time for them has not yet passed.  It has been a truly enlightening experience and the things I have been learning are truly profound.


     I determined that God has a lot left for me to do and improve.  The areas in which I am weak need strengthening and I can not forget them.  Some of those areas are needing to be more strong include holding on true to my standards and covenants, remembering them and remembering the Lord, and that I need to unconditionally love and support others instead of always judging their actions.  I need to trust people and have faith in them and in God's ways.  If people I love are suffering, I have to accept that God isn't going to give them more than they can handle and I have to believe that they will get through it.  I have to respect the choices and agency of others.  I have to forgive and forget the mistakes while learning from the lessons and loving all those involved.

    I was talking to a friend recently about fears and the things that we deal with in life.  One of the fears they had seemed so random and inconsequential but when they took the time to realize what else was happening at the same point in their life when that fear or problem started, they realized it wasn't so random after all.  We often react to what other people say and do.  I remember as a child I was very small and people told me that I couldn't do things because of my size.  Not that their intentions were to be hurtful or restraining but probably were out of love and wanting to protect me.  However, a large portion of my life I thought that because of my size I couldn't do certain things.  I wasn't very big so I didn't feel like I was very attractive to girls or later, women.  I basically had this sense of inadequacy and feeling of being doomed to failure.  And once I realized that this was the source of a lot of my pain and why I allowed myself to fall short, I was able to change.  "An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in there somewhere."

    We all do this unintentionally.  Think about people nowadays... We tell our children how skilled and talented they are, that they earned things, how beautiful they are... And then we are surprised when they get older and feel like they deserve things and that the world is going to judge them and their worth by their outward appearance.  We have to instill the ideas or principles of work, faith, and patience.  We need to teach our children that they can achieve the impossible through setting and accomplishing little goals along the way.  We need to teach them self-worth and self-reliance by loving them and allowing them to make their own decisions and being accountable and understanding the consequences.

    Sometimes we believe in a life of extremes... we must always be happy or life is always going to be bad.  However life and the trials we face are like the rain.  The rain will not fall forever.  And even though the fall is long and sometimes destructive or painful, it allows for a new beginning and provides life and growth.  With time, there is a lot of good that comes from something that in the moment feels like it is the end of the world.  Just like light always chases away the darkness, a rainbow will follow the rain.  There is hope and there is joy around the corner and it is from this contrast of happiness and sadness that we are able to appreciate the blessings and lessons that God gives us.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that many times the hardest thing we have to do is sift through all the ideas in our heads of who we are and what we can or cannot do and determine for ourselves what our future can be.  No one else will define our choices except ourselves and I know that if we are willing to turn that over to God and accept His will, we can become truly happy.  "Never, never, never give up."


    Art & Engineering

    This weekend I was out inviting a lot of people to go hike Mount Timpanogos with me and my sister and it just so happened that no one actually came except the two of us but one person I invited asked me why I wanted to go do this when I had already done it before.  Why go out into nature and hike in the middle of the night to go see a sunrise from the top of a mountain?  Obviously this person didn't know me very well so I decided to try and explain in ways that both of us could understand: art and engineering.

    "Nature is God's creation... Art and engineering in perfect balance... Everything has a purpose and to see things the way that they were when they were originally created can have a huge spiritual uplifting influence.  And the whole aspect of physically removing yourself from the world and just jumping in with both feet... the physical exertion is just the sacrifice you pay to feel and see things that most people will see in a picture or from their couch but won't ever experience.

    "It is more than just a hike... It is almost escapism but you aren't escaping as much as you are returning to your roots. The perfect design is the engineering and the science that I can see in the world around me. The art is shown with the balance of that with the rest of my senses, the taste of the crisp morning air, the smell of the trees and the mountains, the world all around you that make a perfect symphony of sounds... the color of the sun on the mountains that changes as it continues to rise in the sky."


    And honestly, the hike was everything that I described.  The weather was perfect, the company was fantastic, and in the end it was everything that I needed.

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Beginning A Study of Atonement

    One of the things I am beginning to study right now in my free time is the Atonement.  The Atonement was one of the most influential and long lasting events to ever occur and impact mankind in the history of the world.  It in short was the life and death and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  He lived a perfect life as the Son of God.  He willingly laid down His life to suffer and die for the sins, pains, and afflictions of the world, taking on all and every kind of temptation that we will possess, but He did it for each and every one of us individually.  There is no person who has had to endure more and has been perfectly innocent.  The reason He committed to this sacrifice was out of love for all of us.  We would not be able to overcome the eternal consequences of our mistakes and so He offered himself a sacrifice for sin.  Then to expand this miracle of forgiveness to greater depths, He was able through His perfect obedience and His right as the Son of God to take back His own life and perform the resurrection.  This act alone means that all men and women who have ever lived, live, or will live have the free gift through His grace of immortal life.  We all shall live again after we pass on and we shall gain perfect immortal bodies, our old bodies made perfect, of flesh and bone that will never die.  I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this message but my study has been more to understand what that means for me right now as I struggle through this existence.

    In mortality, we fail.  We struggle and try and do the best we can but in the end we do not reach or meet all the expectations or commandments that God has given us.  This is why the Atonement is so important!  The Atonement allows us to repent, to change our very natures, and to be made a new creature.  This is important... So what does it mean!  Repentance works such that when we acknowledge how we have fallen short or the area in which we need help that for a brief time we must understand how this affects us now and in the future.  We need to be sorry for our mistakes and also mercifully be given time to heal from our wounds and our afflictions.  This process works for all things... for example, things that are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  Once we have done that, we have to seek and give forgiveness wherever it is required and then commit to live after the path that Christ set for us.  His commandments and His life are the ways to happiness and peace and love and joy.  We must realize that we will face these issues again in the future so we must recognize and commit to do our best to endure and endure well when that opportunity comes that we will be tested.  It is during this change where we are seeking to forgive and be forgiven, to redirect our lives to follow Christ, that we have what is a change of desire.  Without this change in desire and an ability to forgive one's self then it is almost impossible to progress.  These two are the keys to changing our very natures and becoming new creatures.

    I have always been taught that a study of the doctrine will change behavior better than a study of behavior will change behavior.  Now we have to understand... Who are we?  Where did we come from?  What is the purpose in this life?  These are deep and complex questions that can start with very simple answers.  We are all children of God, Our Heavenly Father, or the father of our spirits.  We left His presence and came to this earth to gain a body and be tested to see if we could learn to control it.  However, we make mistakes so this is again why we have a Savior, because without the sacrifice of the Atonement... God is perfect and no imperfect thing can abide in His presence.  This means as a Child of God, each of us must go through life learning how to become like Him by following the example of Jesus Christ and using His Atonement when things go wrong.  This life is about self-discovery and growing into what a child always becomes.  And when this life is over we will pass on and be resurrected in our own perfected bodies to return to live with God if we have chosen to follow Him and thereby gain the heart, will, and desires of God... changing our very natures.

    It is this time when we make mistakes, the time that we are seeking forgiveness, and also that time that we continually fight to endure that is most difficult I think.  Especially if we don't understand who we are and that even when we fall short we still can move forward.  The key to forgiveness is that if we think of a wooden board as a record of our life, we make mistakes and punch a hole into it, there is a nail that comes loose or is bent, etc.  The way the Atonement works is not that Christ pulls out the nail and putties the whole or that new scraps of wood are put in to fix it with caulk.  Christ when He sees that our repentance is true and real, takes down the old beat-up board and replaces it with a brand new one.  God does not keep the holes.  When we repent He forgives us and forgets our sins and they are no more a part of us.  Our mistakes do not define us.  This same idea helps when we try to understand why He would be so merciful.  If we think of ourselves, children of a loving Heavenly Father, image ourselves as a $20 dollar bill.  That note no matter how crinkled it gets over time, how old it becomes, how ripped, torn, folded, crinkled, bent, smudged, pressed... The value of that note is still $20 dollars.  God knows who we are.  He loves us.  And it is up to us to trust in Him and His promises and know that we are never too far gone.

    The resurrection is a beautiful thing.  Imagine that after you have died you are able to receive this gift, this beautiful perfect and immortal body.  Now think for a moment about our lives... What does that mean for us now?  It means that if Christ's Atonement has the power to perfect and heal our bodies then, He has the power to heal us now.  He can heal you.  He can change your heart, heal your body, and purify your soul.  The only condition is that we humble ourselves enough to have the faith that we will let him.  We each have a choice.  We can choose to believe whatever we wish and act on those beliefs.  But if we will exercise our faith now, in this life, and trust in God and trust God that He can do these things for us, they will happen.  We need to let him guide us and accept His will for us.  If we do this we can be clean and pure and once again find joy and happiness in this life and in the life to come.  God loves us.  So we too must learn to love ourselves and understand ourselves... our weakness, our faults, the blessings that we have received, and our dependance on our Father in Heaven.  We then can learn to love ourselves and then we are able to love one another.  I still have a lot to learn in this life and I have only scratched the surface on understanding what God has done for me.  I am very young but I have begun to understand who I really am.  Who are you and what are we to be doing in our lives?  These are the questions we all need to understand.

    Remembering the Memories

    Song: "Sweet Disposition"  By: The Temper Trap
    Album: Conditions


    When I first heard this song it reminded me that what we remember are little moments.  We can recall facts and we can recall events but those events are more easily remembered when there is a deep emotional connection to them, either positive or negative.  I know from my life that the way to be happy and to be happy about who you are is to learn from the negative but look for the positive.  The more good that you see in the world around you, the easier it will become to see the good in ourselves.  So when I heard the lyrics of this song continually repeating these words connected with positive emotions it made me think of this:

    Hold onto those whom make you happy, let you be yourself, and help you grow into the person you want to be. Because love and life are a series of moments... Some of which are absolutely beautiful to remember.  In the face of opposition, one man put it this way, "Never, never, never give up."  Don't give up on your dreams.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Balance and Progression

    These are just only a few things I need to do over these next couple of months and they are to:
    • Trust completely and let go of all other emotions
    • Open up and accept the needs of others as a way of helping them fulfill those needs
    • Support the ones I love while giving them space to make their own decisions and grow from them
    • Not only respect other people's agency but help them understand that they are in control
    • Listen and protect the ones I love
    • Don't let my need for certainty drive my emotions and my actions
    • Don't react but act for myself
    • Don't compare myself to others but see and appreciate my own self worth
     There is obviously the need to maintain my relationships with others and especially my family and my future family, to do well in my classes and find a way to focus on my studies, to balance my life so that the gospel can have a renewing influence in my life, and to strengthen my body as well as my Spirit.  There is so much to do and so little time to do it in... Oh wait.  I have eternity.  I guess I just have to take it one day at a time.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Wants... Needs... It is All About Becoming


    I think the reason that people get tired is because we get stretched thin and we don’t know where to turn.  A lot of people feel like they need to do everything alone.  A lot of people don’t know that anyone else even cares.  We are all so busy and so caught up in our lives that sometimes we forget the people around us who have been supporting us the whole time.  I have been one of those people who have been forgotten and even worse than that I have been one of those people who forget.  I have a lot more growing up to do because I can still feel and remember that feeling of not being appreciated.  I need to be able to help and offer someone else my hand in friendship and service and not get down when they choose to do things themselves or when they turn to someone else.  I need to help people and not have to feel appreciated to be happy about my service.   But what I need and what I want aren’t always the same.  And I think this is where I am struggling in accepting God’s will for me right now.

    What I want right now:
    • I want to feel appreciated and I want to feel like I am loved.
    • I want to be married right now because I have finally found the right person.
    • I want Tatiana to be accepted into BYU and not have to deal with the political and academic run around.
    • I want to feel like what I do has meaning and that the people that I think about and love the most felt and think the same way about me like I do about them.
    • I want to be there to support and protect the people I care about from the difficult things they face and to keep them safe from harm and from pain.
    • I want to be someone’s best friend.  I want to be their everything.
    • I want to feel like I am moving forward instead of continually slipping backwards each time I finally feel like I am on solid ground again.
    • I want to be confident and comfortable with who I am individually and in my relationships with others.
    • I want to be with my fiancĂ© and not thousands of miles away.
    • I want to be able to recognize that feeling which lets me know that I am moving in the right direction and what I have done is right.
    • I want to have the kind of faith in myself and in what is happening that I can feel like I can just let go of everyone and everything that I care about and know that no matter what happens it will all be okay.
     What I need right now:
    • I need to be the right person because I am not ready to be married (I don’t think anyone is truly ready…).
    • I need to let go of my fears and trust completely in Tatiana and read less into things.
    • I need to take each day one  at a time and have faith that whatever happens in Australia that in the end Tatiana and I will find a way to be together and that she will be able to overcome any obstacle that she is faced with and that when she needs me she will reach out for help.
    • I need to be patient with the different things that are happening now and talk less and listen more.
    • I need to express my love unconditionally.  I need to communicate clearly and more simply.
    • I need to express sincere excitement for other people and worry less about my future.
    • I need to be happy for others in their successes and the things that make them happy.
    • I need to be happy with who I am and excited about who I am becoming.  I need to be more positive.
    • I need to work on focusing more on the things I have to do and am accountable for.
    • I need to pray more for the Spirit so I can overcome the loneliness that I feel.
    • I need to study my scriptures with purpose and true intent so that it is meaningful.
    The problem is that I want good things but I can be better if I chose to work through the things going on in my life without murmuring and with more faith.  And where I find myself now, it is not only that I know I can be better but if I am going to be happy and be successful, I need to be better.  I have never done things the easy way… my friends and family tell me that all the time.  However, the hardest struggles are always the ones that others don’t see or don’t know about that happen in your own mind… criticism, doubt, contradiction, impossibilities, uncertainty, etc.  Sometimes I just wish I was Alice… “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Life is tough but that doesn’t stop life from being good.  I have been blessed in many different ways and I have a lot to be grateful for.  I am not going to give up.  I have too much at stake.  I can do this.  I need to do this.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Emotions

    I think I finally figured out why I am so emotional all the time and so serious these last few months.  I like to be able to see the value in things and I like to work hard and even though I know I don't deserve anything, I hope that God as the loving father will bless me as His son.  I hope that I will be able to become what I need to be in order to be worthy of His love... even though that makes no sense.  He loves me no matter who I am or where I am at.  I guess what I mean is that I want to be the person that He sees in me and trusts me to be.  I want to be able to have His Spirit with me and feel like I am able to know what I should do to accomplish His will.  In the end, I know He wants me to happy.  But the reason I am so emotional is right now is I feel like I am in a position where I have everything to lose and everything to gain.  I am on the edge and I know that if I keep pressing forward in faith it will all work out... not because I have any control of the situation (which scares me at times) but because I have no other alternative.  I have so much more that I need to improve on.  I have so much more that really I am waiting on... other people and their choices, political red tape, time itself... I am a passionate person and like I said before, I feel like I have everything on the line.  And I know that this isn't the reality... I will be able to move forward no matter the outcome... but this is  how I feel.  And I have never wanted anything more than this.  So I apologize if I am emotional.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Half-Life


    "Half-Life" by Duncan Sheik

    I'm awake in the afternoon
    I fell asleep in the living room
    and it's one of those moments
    when everything is so clear

    before the truth goes back into hiding
    I want to decide 'cause it's worth deciding
    to work on finding something more than this fear

    It takes so much out of me to pretend
    tell me now, tell me how to make amends

    maybe, I need to see the daylight
    to leave behind the half-life
    don't you see I'm breaking down

    lately, something here don't feel right
    this is just a half-life
    is there really no escape?
    no escape from time
    of any kind

    I keep trying to understand
    this thing and that thing, my fellow man
    I guess I'll let you know
    when i figure it out

    but I don't mind a few mysteries
    they can stay that way it's fine by me
    but you are another mystery i am missing

    It takes so much out of me to pretend

    maybe, I need to see the daylight
    leave behind the half-life
    don't you see I'm breaking down

    Lately, something here don't feel right
    this is just a half-life
    is there really no escape?
    no escape from time
    of any kind

    come on lets fall in love
    come on lets fall in love
    come on lets fall in love
    again

    'cause lately something here don't feel right
    this is just a half-life,
    without you I am breaking down

    wake me, I wanna see the daylight
    save me from this half-life
    let's you and I escape
    escape from time

    come on lets fall in love
    come on lets fall in love
    come on lets fall in love
    again

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Needing The Distraction

    Typically I have a lot to say but this time it is really quite simple.  Even though I have stuff to do and things to finish before I leave and head back to school, I can't stop thinking about her.  I can't get her out of my mind.  And I think it might be because I have nothing else to think about and I am constantly wondering what she is doing and praying that she is okay.  For once in my life I want to go back to college and it isn't because I am super excited about my classes and the fact that I graduate this year.  I can't wait to go back so that every day becomes bearable because I can't be with her.  My mind can't focus so much on the distance between us or the challenges that we are bound to face.  Some days are worse than others but overall, it is just tough.  I miss her...


    I miss her so much that sometimes it just hurts.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Captain America

    One of the best superhero movies ever... Classic! Right up there with Iron Man.

    Dr. Abraham Erskine: Yeah. But, there were other effects. The serum was not ready. But more important, the man. The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great. Bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.
    Steve Rogers: Thanks. I think.
    Dr. Abraham Erskine: Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.
    [Steve holds up his glass to toast]
    Steve Rogers: To the little guys.
    [just as Steve's about to drink from his glass]
    Dr. Abraham Erskine: No! No! Wait! Wait! What I am doing? No! You have a procedure tomorrow. No fluids.
    [he pours the contents of Steve's glass into his own]
    Steve Rogers: All right. We'll drink it after.
    Dr. Abraham Erskine: No! I don't have procedure tomorrow. Drink it after! Drink it now!

    Steve Rogers: I know this neighborhood. I got beat up in that alley. And that parking lot. And behind that diner.
    Peggy Carter: Did you have something against running away?
    Steve Rogers: You start running they'll never let you stop. You stand up, push back. Can't say no forever, right?
    Peggy Carter: I know a little of what that's like. To have every door shut in your face.
    Steve Rogers: I guess I just don't why you'd wanna join the army if you're a beautiful dame. Or a beautiful...a woman. An agent, not a dame! You are beautiful, but...
    Peggy Carter: You have no idea how to talk to a woman, do you?
    Steve Rogers: This is the longest conversation I've had with one. Women aren't exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on.
    Peggy Carter: You must have danced?
    Steve Rogers: Well, asking a woman to dance always seems so terrifying. And the past few year just didn't seem to matter that much. Figured I'd wait.
    Peggy Carter: For what?
    Steve Rogers: The right partner.

    Peggy Carter: Howard has some equipment for you to try. Tomorrow morning?
    Steve Rogers: Sounds good.
    [Peggy turns her head to listen to the men singing in the bar]
    Peggy Carter: I see your top squad is prepping for duty.
    Steve Rogers: You don't like music?
    Peggy Carter: I do, actually. I might, even when this is all over, go dancing.
    James Barnes: Then what are we waiting for?
    [looking at Steve]
    Peggy Carter: The right partner.
    [to Steve]
    Peggy Carter: Oh-eight-hundred, Captain.
    [she turns to leave]
    Steve Rogers: Yes, ma'am. I'll be there.


    [referring to the rejection he got from Peggy about going dancing with him]
    James Barnes: I'm invisible. I'm...I'm turning into you. It's like some horrible dream.
    Steve Rogers: Don't take it so hard. Maybe she's got a friend.

    Closing Off The Summer

    Well this summer was one long make-it-or-break-it experience with some longstanding consequences.  There was a lot of stress.  There were a lot of tears.  There were a lot of smiles and a lot of character building experiences.  I know that I have a long way to go and a lot more improvements that I need to make.  I need to be more consistent and on top of those little things that create a solid foundation.  The real point is that I want to look back and see how well I was able to handle the big things I planned to do this summer.




    I was planning on doing two different things for work this summer as a way to save up some money in order to be able to afford school this upcoming Fall and Winter semesters and also to do some of the other activities I wanted to do this summer.  I was able to paint my grandparents house and in the end it turned out pretty good and I was able to use that money later that summer.  I was able to return to work at my old internship at NxStage Medical Inc. and even though there were a few bumps along the road when it came to that job, I feel like I still was able to save enough money and have enough good experiences there that in the end it was still able to help me get where I wanted to go.  I wish I had a little more wiggle room but it is what it is and I will be able to get by.  Financially I was also able to secure a few scholarships and also a grant so I definitely won't say no to that and every bit helps.  And if anyone else wishes to donate to my cause then by all means, I will be happy to give you my address at school and feel free to mail me cash or a check and it will go to good use.

    Now that I have mentioned school, I will give an update of how testing this summer in preparation for graduate school turned out.  The original plan when it came to graduate school was to try and get into the joint MS/MBA program at BYU.  If I was accepted, I would graduate from BYU after getting my Bachelor's Degree this April and then I would graduate some time in the next 2 to 4 years later with a Master's Degree in both Mechanical Engineering and Business.  The programs are pretty strenuous and to get into that I first need to get accepted to the program for engineering and then I can apply for the one for business.  The Mechanical Engineering Master's Program admits about 40 students a year with a average 3.52 GPA, a GRE Verbal Percentile of 68.93, a GRE Quantitative Percentile of 81.21, and GRE Writing Percentile of 48.96.  The MBA Program admits students with about the same average GPA and are a bit more selective because they have a ton more applicants.  The GMAT scores of the accepted students are 68.07 Quantitative Percentile, 82.18 Verbal Percentile, and 50.35 Analytical Percentile.  I was feeling a lot of pressure to do well on these tests and it wasn't like I could ever sit down and just focus.  Still, I don't think I could have predicted how it all eventually turned out.


    I think what eventually happened was pretty much a miracle.  After all the studying and distractions, I think I actually think I have a fighting chance!  My current GPA is a 3.48 so it isn't the best but it isn't bad.  I think if I really do well this last year I might be able to raise it up to where it needs to be to get accepted.  The more important part was how I performed on the exams.  The first exam I took this summer was the GRE.  In Verbal Reasoning, I was slightly below the percentile I was looking for and my Analytical Writing percentile was just right.  It was in my Quantitative Reasoning section where I blew the percentile out of the water.  The next exam was the GMAT.  I have my unofficial scores so I don't know how I did on the Analytical Writing section or on the Integrated Reasoning, which is being able to interpret a combination of tables, graphs, calculations, multiple messages, etc.  However, the advisors at BYU basically told me that I needed to get higher than a 700 overall to really be considered.  And through some miracle my Quantitative and Verbal percentiles were both high enough and close enough together that overall I was able to get higher than the 700 that I was shooting for.  This is huge... I can't even begin to explain but it is a really good thing.  The only way I can really illustrate how good this is would be that if I started looking outside of BYU for colleges to apply to for these degrees with my results, I think I would have a shot at UC Berkeley.  And why did I look up Berkeley?  Because it is only a little more than 4 miles away from Pixar Headquarters in Emeryville, California.

    Tatiana and I have been doing really well if you have been following our story so far.  The steps we have taken this summer have been huge.  Not only were we able to survive the distance so far but I was able to find a way to fly out and visit her and her family for a week and my favorite moment during that week was my surprise proposal.  Tatiana and I have been engaged since July 9th.  It was an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to have captured the whole thing on camera.  It has not been easy since then and we have had our own fair share of struggles as every couple will have but overall we are stronger and more open and honest than ever before.  There a few more miracles that we are looking for when it comes to school, BYU, visas, and just staying together and keeping things alive.  We pray for each other all the time and I hope that in the end we will be able to figure everything out.  I love this girl and honestly I think I can see my happily ever after coming together in front of my eyes.


    If I was to look back and think about my Summer 2012, I would say it was long and it was stressful but in the end I was able to overcome everything that I had to face.  I don't think I could have ever done it by myself.  I have been praying and fasting more than I have ever done.  I have gotten a ton of support from my family and my fiance.  It definitely is not a one man show but it turned out well.  I am engaged, I was able to work, I am doing fine medically and financially, and my test scores came back a lot better than even I expected with the heavy load I took upon myself.  What's ahead of me?  Life.  I think in the end I will come out alright because again of the wonderful support and love that I have behind me.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    A Fresh Start

    Beginnings... Our life is full of new beginnings.  These monumental moments or events that happen in life that feel as if you have just won the lottery and received a chance to start over... a new chapter and a new page.  Over the time that I have been home from my mission there have been few people who have truly affected me in such a way that could be described as life-changing or life-altering.  I have a lot of amazing friends that I have made at home and at college and a few of them can come close to this.  I have the most wonderful and supportive family any person could ever ask for and for them, I wouldn't put them in this category but I would give them their own and I would call them my foundation.  My family is where I learned to love, what it meant to be loved, where I learned to gain and foster a testimony, and where I learned what it meant to be a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a grandson, and a son.  It was also where I was able to catch a glimpse at what it would mean to be a father but more importantly what it took to be a husband... now that... that would be life-changing.


    I have met many different women that I have fallen for or had a crush on but I won't compare them to Tatiana.  I know I have talked about my feelings for her in the past and all I will say here is that even though we aren't perfect and we have our issues like every couple does, we fit.  My feelings and I feel like I can say our feelings have only grown over the time we have known each other.  And now that we keep moving forward to hopefully that day when I can call her my wife, I can see that it isn't the big things but the little ones that I look forward to.  A family is still a family when the total count comes to two.  A home is still home as long as you are coming back to those that miss you and love you while you are away.  We all have our own hopes and dreams and aspirations but if there is anything that the distance between us has continually taught me is that I need to cherish her and every moment we have together as if it was our last.

    I want to sing Disney love songs in the car so I can hear her laughing again.  I want to slow dance with her across our kitchen floor so I can have an excuse to hold her.  I want to cook her breakfast and cover it with strawberries and chocolate sauce just so I can see her smile.  There is so much I want to share with her and yet here I am still in Chapter 3 of my life story when all I can think about is skipping ahead to all the good stuff.  I can hardly wait until I can roll over in the morning, brush back her gray hair, all so I can see the wrinkles by her eyes and start to fall in love with her all over again.  I know we need to live in the present so we don't fill our life with a bunch of empty yesterdays, but what if we already feel empty?  What if you feel like you can do so much more with your life and you were meant to do something great?  I sometimes feel like I can be that kind of person.  I feel like I can make a difference.  And I know sometimes the greatest things can happen through the ripples of something very small.  I don't think I can put my finger on one thing in particular... a kiss, a look, a smile, maybe it was a Mentos!  All I know is this is something special and I am learning and I am changing and I am going to find a way to make this work no matter what because I know we are something worth fighting for.


    So how do I bring this full circle?  How do I bring this back to the beginning?  Well it starts by closing one chapter and then beginning with something new... something better.  I am done with my old life and the old me.  Now... I am looking at us.  We are about to begin our own fresh start.