Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sittin' at home ... all alone ... and dreaming

Well, as many of you know...I'm sick.  And I HATE it.  Really, I do.  It's awful. So, what am I going to do? Blog and watch movies.  I have a lot going through my head right now so I'm going to try to make it as coherent as possible.

First, I started off my sick movie night with Impostor.  Yeah, dumb.  Don't ever watch it.  Plus, my computer + netflix doesn't work so hot, so it was kind of choppy and all the cool fight scenes ... weren't as cool.  It has the guy from Law and Order: SVU and another guy that Cy told me what he was from, but I forgot. But yeah, I was going to spoil it for everyone, but I decided against it because one day you will have seen a movie that I want to see and I don't want it spoiled for me.  Anyways, it was weird and corny and obvious plot line...(although I did guess 1/2 wrong).

Well, after that I was looking through all of the movies that netflix has to offer....and the list is quite short for good, non-R movies.  I hate that every movie that looks exciting or somewhat decent is R!  Dumb.  Anyways, so I remembered that one of my best friends swears by Step It Up "3-D".  Yes, I succumbed and watched it finally because there was seriously NOTHING ELSE.  But, after watching it, I have to say: it was pretty sweet. Although, here are the little problems: what was with Luke's "inspirational speech" at the diner?  He had just given up on everyone and now he is telling them all that they are awesome?  Wt...?  Second: Obvious plot.  Called it.  Third: I know that they wanted to focus on the dancing, but man, these people make and break relationships really, really fast.  I mean, not just the ooey-gooey ones, but friendships and such.  And then they act like they've known each other for AGES.  Yeah, no.  But, whatever.

Anyways, the dancing was AWESOME!  I thought it was really legit, but then again, I'll leave that up to you.  Well, so I have this ridiculous problem of thinking too much and looking into things way too far and applying them to "real life" rather than just watching a Hollywood movie.  Maybe it is my way of justifying wasting my life away watching movies.  If I can just learn something from it, than maybe I won't feel like a total loser. 

Anyways, so as I am watching this show, I am thinking a lot about reaching for your dreams.  Not just something that you would wish for or hope for, but living for something that you absolutely LOVE. As a freshman mentor at BYU, I talk to a lot of my students about their dreams and what they want to become.  Most of the time I get the standard: I want to be a doctor, or I want to become famous.  The list is completely varied and completely random, but it is really fun.  Well, a few times, a student will actually open up and tell me what they want.  One student was talking to me and he just said: I don't care what I do, I just want to help people.  Another said: I am searching for my purpose and I'll let you know what that is when I find it.  (I felt that was many of us are actively searching for a purpose?)  Well, my favorite was a student who was thinking of going into athletic training, but as I was talking I asked what she wanted to do with that.  She changed tracks right away and said: What I really want to do is dance, but I'm afraid that I'm not good enough.

Well, this is for you: Who cares?  First of all, I bet you are good enough, but even if you aren't, who cares? 

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.
Already Gone, Eagles

My take on it is that if this is our only life, why waste it doing something that we do not love?  You know, in church we talk a lot about love is the governing factor for our purpose here on earth.  God created us out of love.  Christ died for us out of love.  The two great commandments are to love God and love ourselves.  I don't think God created us out of love so that we can live hating our lives.  Does anyone else think that it is a little contradictory?  I know that there are ups and downs in life, and that we will each have our own trials, big or small.  However, why should we make it worse on ourselves?  God is giving me the right to choose, so why choose something that would make me unhappy or bored?

You know what I love?  People.  I love everything about the individuality of people.  I love talking and connecting with them.  I love meeting them all.  I love losing track of time while holding hands.  I love talking about dreams and about the world with others.  I love climbing trees and talking about the day. I love laughing and making jokes with friends.  Really, I can't get enough of it.  I learned this on the mission.  I hate and detest being cooped up inside.  I love helping others and being with them and catching up with old friends and seeing how they are doing.  I don't just love helping them, but I love helping them on an "intelluctual" or "mental" level.  So many people in the world have lost track of their dreams to face the so-called "reality."  But what is reality but a conjecture of how we view the world.  Why don't we make it how we want it? 

So, what can I do with all of that?  On my mission I met this "real" world and it hit me hard.  I saw poverty and people starving.  I saw people who slept in trash bags on benches who had lost hope and you could see it.  You can see their despair. And the only thing I hate more about being cooped up inside is seeing that look in someone's eyes.  There are times when all I have is hope and it is all I have to keep going forward.  So, if they are lacking that, what is going to become of them?  I don't want to think about that. I want to avoid it.  I want to brighten up their light again so that they can have a beacon of hope leading the way. 

I know I am going off on my "dream," but I will get back to the rest of it.  So, the question is: if this is what I really want, what am I going to do with it and how?  Well:  Here you go.  I used to be going for a pre-med degree.  On the outside I used the excuse that "I want to help people."  Bull.  I wanted to prove myself.  To me, a medical degree was the most presitigious thing that I could think of and so I wanted to show the world that I could do it.  I really didn't want it though.  That was not me.  So, I thought of lot's of other options: music, business and psychology were the main 3.  I have realized that with music I could always do that on the side.  My friend and I are already planning musical firesides to do for pre-missionary youth to get them excited about it.  Psychology is interesting, but I couldn't see myself in an dark office asking ridiculous questions like, "how does that make you feel?"  So, I put that aside.

Then, I took a sociology class. The whole time we were learning about sociological theories I was like: NO WAY!  This is exactly how I feel!  I was sooo excited!  This gave birth to my dream that I currently hold.  So, here goes.  I am going to get a degree in sociology (and I will gladly take you up on an argument to decide whether or not this is really a "hard" major...bring it).  With this degree I'm going to focus on minority/racial problems and complex organizations/business sociology.  With that training, this is how I am going to change the world: I want to work in Human Resources with an international company or with any company that would have reason to hire immigrants or work with different cultures.  I want to work with these immigrants on adapting to the new work culture and environment.  On my mission I noticed a lot of people were unable to change their lifestyle to a new one and because of that were unsuccessful at finding good jobs.  Because they were unemployed, they were dirt poor.  Because they were dirt poor, they were bringing the county's economy down.  What if a way was found to give everyone a job that they could be productive with?  Amazing things.  So, I want to help these families one job, one person at a time. 

I don't even know if this job is available or if the idea is even possible.  But I am going to go for it.  Somehow I'm going to find a way to help these people find jobs and get back on their feet.  I want to see the hope in their eyes again. 

I don't know if many people can understand the battle it took me to give up my past "desire" to become a doctor.  It was so engrained in me that I was constantly attacking myself anytime that the idea came up to change.  I kept trying to find ways to do it, but it just never worked. As I began to give in to my real dreams, the anxiety deepened.  Questions arose.  How am I supposed to do all of this?  I don't even know where to start?  How will it even be possible?  Am I going to end up unemployed as well?

And then, I thought about the rest of my life.  I saw myself as someone spending time with his family, happy and in a modest dwelling.  Or I saw myself as an overworked and tired doctor still trying to prove to himself and everyone around him that he was worth something.  I think that did it.  I killed any ties to medicine and committed myself to sociology and the dreams of helping other people find the hope again. 

So, back to the student who loves to dance.  How do you think you are going to feel as an athletic trainer watching others going around dancing and you have to help them get back to dancing.  Are you going to be content on the sidelines watching other people doing what you are soo passionate about?  Don't worry, once you are too old and hurt too much to dance, you can become an athletic trainer and then work on the sideline.  But right now it is your time.  Are you afraid that you aren't good enough?  Get out and work on it.  All the people in this movie (Step Up 3) left everything because they loved to dance.  I'm not saying to go live on the streets and breakdance for the rest of your life, but get up and start working on it.

I'm reading on awesome book called OUTLIERS.  It is written for the sole purpose of saying that successful people are successful because of their circumstances, not necessarily because of talent.  Some of it I agree with, some of it I am still struggling to find what I believe.  However, in one chapter, he says that all of the amazing people out there who are really good at what they do (Bill Gates, professional violinists/pianists, etc.) all have put in more than 10,000 hours before they have gotten to that level.  Again, I'm not advocating a complete devotion to dance (although I do advocate the following of your dreams), but realize that it is going to take work.  Prove everyone wrong who doesn't think you can do it.  That may include yourself.  I think our biggest critiques and downers are ouselves.  I have to battle with myself everyday to say that I can do it.

Make life the way that you want it.  Make the most out of this precious life that God has given you.  Find what you love and are passionate about and run with it as far as your heart can carry you.  Just go.  Don't let yourself ever think that you have reached your limit.  Keep on going.  Keep on experimenting.  Think outside of the box and you will go soo far.  You know, not many people die while they are running.  We never know how far we are able to go because we get afraid and stop running.  You need to just go all the way. 
I love this topic.  I want the world to wake up from their sick "reality" and start molding the world into their dreams.  Think of how beautiful and amazing it would be if we all worked for our loves.  It would seriously be amazing.  I want to help build that.  I'm not going to make some international movement, but I am going to work at it one person, one dream at a time.

Monday, June 20, 2011


So...I had the choice of studying or being unproductive.  I think you see what I chose. 

So, last week was absolutely wonderful.  I should rephrase because I don't remember much of what happened before Thursday.  Thursday night Jill and I drove down to the Manti Pageant.  Guess what?  I stayed awake the WHOLE TIME!  It was quite incredible.  On the way, I saw these:

 I love pictures of the sky...especially when my phone takes such good pictures.  It is seriously awesome.  I've been saying this about a lot of stuff, because I'm trying to look at all my blessings, but these moments are one of the reasons that I know God loves me.  (Other reasons include my job and Creamery Ice Cream - don't deny it.)

Anyways, we got to Manti and I seriously had a blast from the past thinking of the last time I was there with a scout troop.  Jill even put up with me wanting to go back to the little Ice Cream shop that my scout leader took us too.  It is wonderful!  We had pralines and cream = divine.

Then we watched the awesome Manti Pageant.  Yes, there are corny parts, and I admit, if I was not a member, sometimes I would have been extremely lost.  However, the Spirit is there and it is a testimony builder.  I love it soo much.  It goes through the life of Joseph Smith to the saints settling in Utah, specifically Sanpete Valley, with an intermission of the Nephite story.  There are so many parts that are really touching that sometimes...I just can't handle.  In my family, we have a joke of blaming our dad for us being emotional, and so while I was watching, I'll just say I had a couple of "dad moments."

Jill was so nice to let me read over my lesson that I had to prepare for yesterday's Sunday School.  She even gave me some valuable insights and while reading it over, we both thought of new possibilities and I for one had my testimony strengthened.  She also put up with me crying during the death scenes and when Moroni is all by himself.  I hate those parts.  Seriously, I think God let me be born into the Gospel because I would not be able to cope with death without knowing that I will see them again.  It is already painful enough.  So, thanks for that Jill.

 Friday night I went to hang out with my old friend from freshman year, Rebecca.  It was a blast, but awkwardly funny at the same time.  We went to the museum of people and culture and found out it was a date night.  We kinda knew that before we went, but what we didn't know was that we were the only two who weren't seriously dating, engaged, or married.  Seriously, all the other couples were all over each other.  Gag...and laughter.  It was funny.  Plus, they were stalking us and kept taking our pictures.  And we got there early, so we had some lemonade before everyone else and threw away our cups so no one knew that we snitched. 

Well, because we are so amazing, we won the first activity which was a scavenger hunt.  We were so fast, that no one was even close.  For serious.  We were awesome.  Then we played a boys v girls game in which our team kicked their trash (sorry, but we won by like 29 points).  Then we got to the part that we were excited for: pottery carving and food!  Awesome!  Well, at the table we sat at, there was a couple hooked up by the ward and then another one that was pretty serious and us.  So, we pretty much were having a blast people watching and just talking.  The food was...ok, it was just a veggie and fruit tray with lemonade and cookies....nothing to do at all with anthropology.

Well, the pottery competition started, but it was LAME because they barely gave us any clay at all.  We were sculpting for prizes in 5 categories: Most authentic, modern, creative, school spirited, and judges' choice.  We spotted on the wall a Canopic jar and decided to make a mini-one.  It was awesome!  Rebecca even carved hieroglyphics in the side that looked seriously 100% legit.  I forgot it was fake.  Well, we lost most authentic to something that wasn't even cool...because they miscounted.  Seriously.  With 12 couples, meaning there should have been an even number of votes, they counted 23.  Wrong.  And we tied and they gave it to the other people.  Lame. We should have won.

Well, then for judges' choice, they were about to pick us until the guy who made a sculpture of poo for most modern told them that we won the scavenger hunt and that we shouldn't be considered for the prize.  Can I just say, some people need to shut it.  The judges then choose someone else, again, not as cool as ours, and the night was over.  They wouldn't even put our clay in the flame to harden so that we keep it.  Lame.  But it was still an awesome night with Becca.  She is seriously one of the coolest people ever. 

Friday, a LOT happened.  Seriously.  First:  MY FRESHMEN CAME!!! I love them!  They are the coolest group of kids ever.  The Y group leaders with me were super awesome too.  I loved it.  They are all so mature, funny, and just all around fun people.  One of the girls was like, "Wow, Erik.  You are way excited about everything." I asked her if that was a bad thing, and she told us that she wasn't sure if she wanted to go, but seeing our enthusiasm made her know that it was the right place.  Another girl told me that I should be an EFY counselor because I made the "boring" subjects exciting and she wished that her EFY Counselor could have done that. 

They were just an awesome group of kids and finally I have some people to actually serve! It is the best job ever.  One kid sent me a text thanking me for helping him out because he was sooo stressed about coming to BYU and getting his classes right and the lot.  It just makes you feel good, ya know?  Plus, I think my sunburn wasn't as bad as it looked (hopefully...we'll see).  I love them all.  Forever.  I think my job is the coolest because it kind of is like a Y Group Leader/EFY Counselor combined for a whole semester/term with pay.  What could get better, although I think I would still do this for free because I love it so much.

Lastly, on Saturday night Breiyon "claimed me" as her time to get to hang out with me.  (I seriously felt like I was in demand this was fun).  (I didn't have a picture of that night, so I just put this one up.)  We went to Wal-Mart with a bunch of her friends and played this awesome game which I think is sooo clever.  You and your team goes and finds some item for every letter of the alphabet.  Then you meet, switch carts, and race to put every item back exactly where it belongs. The loser team has to buy desert for the winners (and themselves).  We were so efficiently fast that we won by 8 minutes, during which Breiyon tried necklaces ... on me.  And I tried out some super sweet sunglasses.  Well, for our spoils they bought a delicious pie and whipped cream and we went to one of their apartments and just talked.  One of the guys there served in Argentina and knew the missionary that did a mini-mission in Monza and who I got to do an exchange with.  He is the COOLEST missionary ever (Anziano Rodriguez). 

Then me and a group of friends from my old ward watched "Ghost and the Darkness."  It is about lions, but it still scared me...

 Anyways, all in all it was a fantabulous weekend full of awesome fun! I watched this mormon message on Sunday morning and it made me appreciate all that happened:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Scripture Sunday

Today was so AWESOME!!! I just LOVED IT!  A couple of weeks ago I was called as the Sunday School Teacher, but there are 2 other teachers so I finally taught my first lesson.  It was awesome.  I loved it. 

Well, here are 3 scriptural thoughts that I had:

1st: John 13:2-3
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God and went to God...

Ok, so Jesus just administered the Last Supper and this verse talked about how Judas had just finalized his thoughts to betray Jesus.  I love what verse 3 says.  Jesus knew that all things were in His hands.  He could have snapped his fingers and killed Judas because He knew what Judas would do.  But he didn't.  During the Garden of Gethsemane, when blood was coming out of His veins, He could have just willed it to stop because all things were in His hands.  We know as it says in the Bible that when they came to take Him that He could command a legion of angels to save Him, but He didn't. As the Roman soldiers beat Him, He could have stopped it all.  Not only could He have stopped it all, but the scripture says that He knew it.  This emphasized and deepened my understanding of the love that Christ has for all of us.  He was aware that at any time He could just stop it.  That is always harder for me.

Ir is like when I'm working out.  I know that I can end it at anytime, and so I usually end it a little bit sooner than pushing myself all the way.  However, if there was a lion behind me and I knew that I had no choice, I would definitely run as fast as I could for as long as I could. Yet, when it is all on me to push myself, I have trouble to keep pushing myself.  Yet, Christ made it. He triumphantly (in action not in attitude) saved us despite knowing His own ability to end it at any time.  I loved reading this scripture and seeing how much effort it took Christ to keep going.  I'm that much more grateful for such a terrible sacrifice for such a beautiful reason.

2nd: John 13:5-6,8-9
And after that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet...Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto Him....Thou shalt never wash my feet.  Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.  Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.  

This is one of the reasons I love Peter.  He is an extremist (both before and after the Savior's rebuke).  So the Lord is washing the disciples' feet which back then was an expression of humility and love that a servant did for his master.    Peter was very against any thought of Christ being murdered, slaughtered or being a servant.  Peter highly praised Christ as His master and felt that He should be revered as such.  He didn't want Jesus to abase Himself for Peter's sake.  That is why Peter said, Thou shalt never wash my feet. It was a remark of respect, not indignation.  Jesus, however, understood quite a bit more than Peter.

Christ says that if Peter will not allow himself to be cleansed by Christ, He will have no part with Him.  I think Christ was implying a little bit more than just cleaning His feet and this rebuke was meant for all of us.  Christ is telling Peter and us that if we do not let Him clean us spiritually, than we can take no part of His Atonement.  We must allow Him to purify us and make us into His spirit children.  So often we are too prideful to repent, but unless we use His sacrifice, there will be no salvation.

Then we look at Peter's response: Lord, clean all of me.  Don't miss a single spot.  He is so willing to follow Christ and he desires to be in His presence at all times that Peter will do anything to reach that status.  In an instant Peter humbled himself and realized what Christ was saying and accepted the rebuke and asked to be cleansed completely.  We too must adopt this attitude.  We cannot pick and choose about what commandments we follow. We must ask the Lord to cleanse all of us.

3rd: John 14:5-9
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.  Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me?
       John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

 This was a thought that came to me in the middle of the lesson as we were reading this passage. We were talking about the philosophical importance of the second scripture in my history of philosophy class and I think that is what drove me to consider the implication of the word know.  I think this is a painful rebuke both for Jesus to give and for Thomas and Philip to receive: If ye had known me.  There is a strong implication there. 

Christ is clearly telling them that they are mistaken.  However, He also implies that they are not on the right path if they do not know Him.  If the pathway to eternal life is knowing God and Christ, and they knew Him not, then they were following a different path.  Christ was a little amazed that Philip and Thomas still did not understand the significance of Christ.

As I was reading this, I thought of judgement day and how awful it would be to arrive at the judgement seat and hear Christ say, If thou had known me.  He wouldn't have to say anymore.  I would leave and not return to His presence, because I would have known that I did not obtain eternal life.  That is our purpose: to know Christ.  How grateful I am for the scriptures and any trials and experiences that He gives me so that I might come to know Him better.  I love my Savior and I want to be with Him and I submit, as Peter did, that i wish to be fully cleansed by His atoning blood.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What to do...

So, I'm just sitting in the Cougareat right now with nothing to do.  I can't go book shopping because I know I will buy something if I walk in there, and after rent and Summer tuition, I can't afford it.  Working 10 hours a week was the worst idea ever.  Completely wiped me dry, and I had quite a bit of savings...yeah, never doing that again.

I forgot my book that I'm reading currently, Don Quixote, which is seriously one of the funniest books I've ever read!  And, it's a classic, so it makes me feel all that much more legit.  I really don't understand why people don't like reading.  I think I am obsessed with reading...and writing...and all that.  Once I finish one book, I don't know what to do with myself until I get another one.  I need to stop talking about books, because I am 20 steps away from spending a lot of money...I have a long list of books I want to buy.

Anyways, so I'm sitting here for the next hour because I have practice at 12 with my tango partner (really, my dance partner because we've tested together every time).  I still do not like the tango.  I wish I could do my final on one of the other dances.  Tango was just too much for me.  But it is ok.  Unfortunately this is the last ballroom class I'm going to take while I'm here (unless some miracle frees up my schedule).  Since I just barely declared my major (Sociology) I have a lot to do in 2 years to graduate on time.  I know I don't have to, but it would be nice not to have to pay for more schooling, and since my scholarship only lasts 4 years, I have to be done by Winter 2013.  I just hope I don't burn out and lose it.

Anywhoop, so while I'm sitting here, I was really glad I brought my laptop to school because it gave me music to listen to and something to do.  Well, I'm just going to ramble and get you caught up on my life.

This was what was left after a big plateful each.  (AKA: A lot)
On Sunday, Jill and I made dinner, which was fabulous, although I went a little too light on the spices because the flavor was faint.  We made a KILO of pasta (then you have to add the peppers, carrots, and 1.7 pounds of meat), so needless to say, there was A LOT food.  Seriously.  It was delicious and I have eaten two large ziploc containers of it and I have 2 more.  :)  It makes lunch a lot cheaper, let me tell you.  However, I do need to learn how to cook a larger variety so that I don't get sick of pasta.  It is getting to me a little bit, no matter how much I love Italy.

One thing I don't think I'll ever get sick of is this plate of deliciousness to the left.  This is my marinated mozzarella and pomodoro that I was talking about on facebook.  It is seriously the best thing on the planet.  I decided that it tastes something that is similar to the feeling of entering the Celestial Kingdom with a clear conscience.  If that feeling were a taste, it would be this.  All you do is cut up fresh (and cold) tomatoes and mozzarella and then put some olive oil, vinegar (basalmic), oregano, and salt on it and toss it.  And then you enter paradise, one bite at a time.

I love food, but not just food: I love good food.  Some people just love food, and that's why obesity exists.  I love good food, meaning meticulously prepared with a great attention to how every savory taste is expressed in each bite.  It is kind of hard to eat at American restaurants now, because they usually fail at this.  My mouth is getting really watery thinking about it, even though I just ate a huge Tupperware container full of good pasta.  I LOVE FOOD!

In other news, the TA and instructors for our BIO class specifically asked us if they could keep our project because it was so great.  We were cool with that since we already had the video uploaded, but they were a little perplexed that I wanted my green folder back.  I've been using it since 2007 and I love it.  Not even one tear.  It's a pretty legit project.  Jill decided that our video was "mint"  (Please see Super 8 for an explanation.)  and it was pretty much that.  (See this post for the video). 

Classes ended yesterday (for a week) and I have finals tomorrow and Thursday.  I'm pretty much set with Biology, but I'm a little worried about philosophy, so I'm going to study a bunch tonight to make sure I got it all down.  However, I got this text from my mom today saying my oldest sister was in the ER and might have surgery!  I was like, SAY WHAT?!?!?!?!  Needless to say, I was confused at how un-stressed my mom was about it.  Well, apparently (after I called to get more information) Rachel is going to have her gall bladder removed (which my mom says is common for women?).  I think it is weird to have anything removed from the body.  Do you notice that it is gone?  bleah.  I just got the shivers thinking about it.  Plus, I'm skinny enough anyways.  I don't need to lose weight by taking out organs.  So, needless to say, I don't like the idea of surgery, but apparently it is pretty routine, but I'll be praying for her just the same.  Hopefully it is over with soon so that she can get back to getting me a nephew :) (Jeremy and Elizabeth went with the nieces, and I want a nephew now.)

Lastly, today I got to meet my first student for summer term!  She will not be able to come to New Student Orientation and she was up here for the day and so she asked if she could get a tour of where her classes were.  So, we walked around campus and went to her classrooms so hopefully next Tuesday she will be able to get to all of her rooms without problems.  She was so excited to come that it made me even more excited about Summer.  It is so going to be rockin'!  Also, as we were walking around, I was hit with a "Holy Cow this campus is legit" feeling again.  I know I've posted about it before, but I love the BYU campus.  It is AWESOME!

So yeah, that's pretty much it. Peace y'all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Scripture Sunday

This week I have been thinking a lot about Prayer.  For me, prayer is actually kind of hard to do.  Sometimes, well, often, I feel unworthy to talk to a perfect and supreme being.  Sometimes I feel that I am talking to the air.

But then there are other times when I feel such love as I pray and such devotion to the success of my life that I am overwhelmed.  I have received answers to my prayers in powerful ways and in subtle moments.

Yet, it is still hard for me to grasp and to fully appreciate the power of prayer.  When I do pray morning and night, my prayers become rote and lose those feelings of love and concern.  Lately, I have found myself praying as I walk to class when I think of a brother who, conquering all odds, is in the top 5% of his graduating class, and I pray with gratitude for his success.  I find myself praying in class when I receive a text message from my mother telling me that one of my ward members back home was diagnosed with cancer.  I find myself praying whenever I feel the Spirit during a devotional or testimony meeting asking that the experience increase my own understanding and testimony of the Gospel.  After doing an unkind act or realizing that I've done something wrong, I find myself praying, wherever it may be, for forgiveness.

Yet, I can never get myself to kneel down at night and recite what I did during the day.  It feels so, unnatural to me.  While I lay in bed, I may remember some deep desire or some impression that I had that day and I will express it to Him, but I really dislike kneeling down and fishing for things to say to my God.  Is this wrong?  I'd appreciate any thoughts on the subject.

You may be looking for the scripture, and here goes.  Since I've wanted a better relationship with my Father in Heaven and to understand better how prayer should really be, I looked up some talks on  In Elder Scott's talk Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer, he explained the following:

"Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers.

I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth."

It was comforting to see that some others may view prayer as such an "impenetrable barrier."  I liked that he said the Father will give us promptings to think.  Sometimes when we pray, we just expect God to give us answers without much effort in reaching the solution ourselves.  We understand that we will have to work, but never work to find the answer.  Isn't that why we go to God in the first place?  However, God knows our capabilities and He knows that we don't give ourselves enough credit (or we don't push ourselves enough.)
President Eyring (at the time Elder Eyring) said in his talk, "Write upon My Heart",

"I have had prayers answered. Those answers were most clear when what I wanted was silenced by an overpowering need to know what God wanted. It is then that the answer from a loving Heavenly Father can be spoken to the mind by the still, small voice and can be written on the heart."

Maybe this is part of my problem.  I'm looking too much for what I want and think I need, rather than sincerely looking for God's will in my life.  I don't feel His Spirit every time I pray because I don't search for His direction.  I am only searching for His acceptance of my life, which is obviously not always going to coincide.  I need to actively search for what He wants from me.  
But if there are any suggestions on how to better my relationship with my Father in Heaven and how to make my morning and evening prayers more substantial, I would greatly appreciate it.

God is Good

In my philosophy class this past week we reviewed Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica in which he tries to prove that God exists.  In his first section, he puts out 5 possibilities that conclude that there is a God.  If you want the detailed explanation, go here

1.  Motion:  Things are in motion, but they cannot move themselves.  Everything is put in motion by another object, but it had to start somewhere, which is an entity that is never moved nor changed.  That entity is what we call God.

2. Efficient Cause (or Ultimate Cause): In the world, we see causes and effects everywhere, however even the causes are effects from other situations.  So, where is the first cause?  That is God

3. Necessity:  We each have a "necessity" of being and that is what "caused" us to be here.  Every object is like that (such as a ship's necessity of being is the ship-builder).  We came from somewhere, but that somewhere does not have a necessity because it is the first.  We find it is not a somewhere, but a someone which we call God.

4. Gradation:  There exists the best of all things: the best in virtue, goodness, taste, and pleasure.  We call the best of goodness and perfection God.

5. Will: There are things without minds, such as plants, that still act towards some end.  However, without a will, whose purposes are they fulfilling?  That will is God's will.

In short, it is a very interesting proposal, and I think everyone should read it, especially if they are having doubts about the existence of God.  It may provoke some thought.  However, I would like to talk about number 4, for in talking with a friend of mine about the subject, I found my testimony to increase substantially. 

We have all heard it from friends or acquaintances, especially those who were on a mission: "If there was a God then there wouldn't be so much pain, trouble, and death.  If there was a God then my *relative* wouldn't have been killed by a drunk driver."  Now, there are a lot of ways to explain this, but I'm going to attempt to do it through Aquinas's fourth point. 

God created all that is good and beautiful and he had no part in the creation of evil, death and sin.  Those were all introduced into the world by junction of Lucifer and Adam and Eve's choice to take of the forbidden fruit.  People say that if God created everything, then in essence he created evil.  However, they are looking at the spectrum the wrong way:

Evil (-) ----------- Neutral (0) --------- Good (+)

They look at it as there being a space in between good and evil that is "neutral" as if it was a 0 on the number line with evil as negative and good as positive.  They say that evil is just as real as good. But what if I told you that evil is actually just the absence of good?  It only exists when good is not there.  The number line example would look like this:

Evil (0) -----------------------------Good (+)

Evil is 0 and Good is anything positive.  The only way to reach a state of pure evil is to have expelled all good around and inside of you.  This may seem like a weird way to look at it, but it may help to see it in terms of light.  Is not darkness just the absence of light.  There is actually no physical entity that darkness is..  Sure, in literature, authors have said things like "the darkness pressed around me" but in real life, it was "the lack of light pressed around me."  Darkness cannot overcome anything, because it doesn't even really exist.  It is the absence of light, and we have determined to call it darkness.  It is not anything, but a lack therof.

Evil is the same way.  Just as darkness would not exist nor could we have fathomed it if it was light all the time, so too is evil.  If we were all inherently good for our whole lives, we would not even be able to conceive the concept of evil.  God did not create evil.  As men began to reject some good things, their lack of goodness repelled God.  We know that God cannot be in the presence of anything unholy, that is, lacking complete goodness.  It is a divine law.  The next time you want to blame God for something that happened to a friend or relative that occurred because of some "evil" act, you cannot blame God.  He created all that was good.  Mankind in return, and in conjunction with Lucifer, created the opportunity for their to be no good, or the state which we call evil. 

I had battled with this concept myself at times, but now understanding that God did not create evil makes it have so much more sense.  Evil is our own refutation of good!