Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 26: "The happy guy"

Day 26:  What people notice about you

It's pretty interesting how consistent this one is.  The majority of compliments I receive go along the lines of, "You're always in such a good mood," "You never get angry," "You always look on the bright side of things," etc.  So, I can safely say that happiness is what people notice about me.  Not to brag, or anything; I'm just a happy person, and I'm glad that's what others see in me. 

I have the Lord to thank for that.  Really.  Christ is an optimist; every one of His teachings is meant to give hope, strengthen faith, and inspire action.  I'm not perfect, but I try to live those teachings, and I have seen the impact it has made in my life.  With faith, I know I can overcome whatever trials it is my lot to face.  So, I don't worry about things; I just press on and do my best, even when it's a step in the dark.  I try, and I learn, and I understand that I'm not going to get everything right the first time.  And I'm fine with that because I know there's a Plan and God doesn't fail.  He gives me peace and strength, and it feels awesome, so why wouldn't I be happy?  It can be easy to get bogged down in the disappointments and confusion of life, but my eye is on moving forward.  That's my secret: if things are hard, and I can't see the end from the beginning, I just move forward.  It makes smiling quite easy.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.  --Mosiah 2:41 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 25: The good life

Day 25:  What do you want your future to be like?

Strong, love-filled marriage.  Happy, well-mannered kids.  A nice, modest home in the suburbs, with friendly neighbors; a place where the Spirit can truly reside.  I want to enjoy and be doing well in my career, making enough money so my family can live comfortably, but still be able to leave my work at work and be home every night--and by "being home," I mean actual quality, invested time, not just being present.  It doesn't matter to me what my Church calling will be; I just want to be a good father and a dependable home teacher--the kind of man the Lord can trust.  In so many words, all I want is to be a family man, a good neighbor, and a faithful servant.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 20: Going out like a Texan

Day 20:  Death row meal

It would go something like this:

  • Smoked brisket (I shouldn't have to specify, but I might not be in a Texan prison), drenched in Rudy's barbecue sauce
  • Spicy sausage
  • Cream corn
  • Baked beans
  • White bread (nothing fancy--just plain old Wonderbread-type stuff)
  • Pickle spears
  • Banana pudding
  • Buttermilk pie
  • Smoked pecan pie
  • Ice cold, fresh-squeezed lemonade

It's not that these are my favorite foods (though many are among my favorites).  For me, this type of meal is symbolic of one of the most meaningful, Christ-centered periods of my life.  Sitting on death row would be a dark time, to be sure, so I'd want to be reminded of a time when great light overpowered all darkness, when I went about doing good (because I would have had to not be doing good to end up on death row).  That would be the most comforting thing to me as I faced execution.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 18: Story of my life

Day 18:  A quote you love

"After all is said and done, more is said than done."  --Aesop

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 17: My teachers

Day 17: Talk about your parents

There's no way this post can do justice to my parents.  Nothing I write could, but it also doesn't help that it's almost midnight and I'm dead tired--only up still because I'm waiting for the laundry (that seems to happen a lot, I now realize).  So, a very brief, very inadequate tribute.

My dad's passion is land surveying, which he does very well teaching at a local college.  My mom has a wonderful career as a translator.  Dad found the Church when he was eighteen and served a mission to Belgium shortly thereafter.  Mom's ancestors came across the Plains, and she served a mission to Uruguay.  Both have inspiring testimonies, which helped kindle mine at a young age.  Neither are strangers to trials, which I suppose is one reason why they are such strong, wise people.  I've learned a lot from their experiences.

Dad taught me how to play chess.
Mom introduced me to the piano.
Both sang to me as a child.  Some of my favorite hymns are their favorites.
Mom edited my school papers and taught me proper grammar.
Dad taught me history and geography.
Both taught me to be well-rounded and open to considering all ideas fairly.
Dad took me on adventures wherever his work and errands directed him.
Mom encouraged me to be imaginative and social.
Both made sure I got to not only see the world, but learn from it.  Vacations were always cultural experiences.

Mom and Dad have raised me to work hard, play hard, and never settle for ordinary.  They have taught me by example to love learning and to appreciate the simple things life has to offer.  They have encouraged me to create and to laugh and to think.  Who I am is, in so many ways, a result of who they are.  And I can't imagine where I'd be without them. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 13: The great story

Day 13:  What are the 10 most significant events in your life?

  1. My baptism.  That's pretty much when everything really started.
  2. The choice at age ten to learn to play the violin.  So much of my life has been shaped by the friendships gained from playing in an orchestra.  
  3. Every Priesthood ordination has been monumental, but for me it was especially so when I became a deacon.  It was on my twelfth birthday, and it was also the mission farewell of my older brother, who ordained me.  Holding the Priesthood has been such a huge blessing in my life.  
  4. The youth conference when I decided at age thirteen that I wanted to serve a mission.  Many of the most important decisions of my life have been made around a campfire.
  5. Reaching the rank of Eagle Scout at fourteen.  I considered myself something of a "runt of the litter," and worked very hard for every merit badge and rank advancement I achieved.  I gained so much from this--especially the knowledge that I could do hard things.  Victory was so sweet, and I got to share the Court of Honor with my best friend from childhood.
  6. The Fifty-Miler.  We went on this hike every summer, and that's where I was tested the most physically (and in some cases mentally).  Having made this journey successfully, and more than once, other trials that come up now just seem so small because I know I've dealt with harder things and I've come out okay.  The Fifty truly was where boys became men, and its influence in my life continues to this day.
  7. Receiving--and recognizing--an answer to prayer at age fifteen concerning the truth of the Book of Mormon.  It could have its own blog post if I wanted to give it one (actually I go into it a little here in an interview hosted by a fellow blogger), but long story very short, it changed my life.  I may have been devoted to the Church before, but now I could finally say I was devoted to Christ.  
  8. Graduating high school.  Not because of the diploma, but because of how my entire world changed afterward.  As I entered the life of college and employment, my capacity for adventure increased as well and I have so many memories (and lessons learned) to enjoy because of it.
  9. My mission.  In this I am also including my ordination to the office of elder, receiving my mission call, going through the temple, and all the preparation that went into my departure, because all of those things happened when they did as part of the process to actually go on the mission.  It would take much more than a blog post to express just how very, very much my mission has impacted my life.  
  10. Coming home from my mission.  Everything before was more like a "prologue" to my life; now is the actual story, and it began that August day when I stepped off a plane in Salt Lake City.   

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 12: Shuffle

Day 12:  Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 10 songs.

  1. Dancing Mad -- Nobuo Uematsu
  2. Prelude (Distant Worlds version) -- Nobuo Uematsu (It's okay, Lydia--I got a repeat, too.  Nobuo Uematsu might keep showing up, because he's my favorite musician ever.)
  3. Ye Elders of Israel -- Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  4. Hoodoo -- Muse
  5. Melodies of Life (FFIX Piano Collections) -- Nobuo Uematsu
  6. Don of the Slums -- Nobuo Uematsu (surprise!)
  7. Dan y Dwr -- Enya
  8. The Last Rose of Summer -- Celtic Woman
  9. Variations on a Theme from Pachelbel's Canon in D -- David Lanz
  10. You're My Best Friend -- Queen

You can learn a lot about a person by going through their iPod.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 11: Hooked on books

Day 11:  Your favorite store

This is another one that really took some thought.  There are a number of stores I love (and give probably way too much of my money--I'm looking at you, Day Murray).  But I think the winner would have to be a store I can go to frequently, yet which still satisfies me even when I purchase nothing.

And that would have to be Barnes & Noble.  I love that place.  

For me, it's more than a bookstore.  Sometimes if I'm stressed out and only have a little bit of time to get away, I go there and get lost.  It's also a great place to go with friends, because there's so much interesting stuff to find and talk about.  

And on the occasional visit when I do buy something, I always get a good deal.  Quite often, they'll email me a coupon for 15% off a purchase, and sometimes even more.  They'll also frequently have a sale on classics: buy two, get one free (and I am in love with the uniform design of their Classics Series).  I rarely have to pay full price, so I keep going back. 

But before this turns into an advertisement, here's my favorite cat video.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 9: Tears

Day 9:  A song that makes you cry (or nearly)

I had to clear my YouTube history after searching for this video.  I feel dirty posting it.  But I can't resist.

This song makes me cry because there are people who actually consider it music.  These days, popular song lyrics consist of "Baby, baby, baby, ohhh," on repeat.  May God have mercy on our souls.   

Still not clean.  I can't get it off me.

I'll hide my YouTube sins by posting an additional two pieces of music--both very beautiful, and which do quite well at tugging at my heartstrings.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 6: Roswell

Day 6:  What’s an inside joke you have with someone?

The route of our family trip one summer took us through Roswell, New Mexico.  I forget if we were coming out of a museum or a restaurant, but as we were turning back onto the road, we drove over a really high curb and it shook up the car pretty good.  We pulled back into the parking lot to check for damage--I don't recall there being any to speak of--and continued on our way.

Ever since then, whenever any of us drives over a curb, we refer to it as a "Roswell."  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 5: Before I shone

Day 5:  Something you can’t seem to get over

I can't get over how much hair I used to have.  If there weren't pictures, I would never believe it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 3: Solitude

Day 3:  Weird things you do when you’re alone

This was a tough one to figure out; what I do when I'm alone is pretty much what I do when I'm not alone.  I'm consistent like that.

I do talk to myself, though.  I recognize that I'm not the only one who does that (turns out it's actually quite common), but especially in the car, I'll have real conversations with myself in which I as the speaker am not me, but am the concept of what another, wiser person might be in the passenger seat.  The real me remains silent, unless answering a direct question.  "Not me"--the speaker--normally takes on the role of coach/teacher.  "How do you think that went?"  "What did you do well?  What can you do better next time?"  "Do you see what happened there?  How do we avoid that?"  Etc.  

Also, if no one else is around at home, I will often sit down at the piano, lower my head as if asleep (sometimes curling down almost all the way to the keyboard), close my eyes, and enter a sort of "trance" state as I randomly hit keys that eventually become a coherent (sometimes epic) tune.  It's very hard to wake up.

That's probably the weirdest thing I do.

On a related note, here's a quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
Pause for a moment and check where your own heart and thoughts are. Are you focused on the things that matter most? How you spend your quiet time may provide a valuable clue.

(You can read the rest of his talk here; it's one of my favorites.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 2: Feels so good

Day 2:  A photo that makes you happy

Found this on my mission.  I can't not be happy when I look at it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day 1: Unexpected things

Lydia's doing a 30-day challenge again on her blog, and I figured, Hey, why not join in?  Life is busy so I can't promise I'll do all thirty days, but I'll do what I can.  In any case, this should be fun.

Day 1:  10 things about you people don’t really expect

1.  After a few years of piano lessons, I wanted to quit.

2.  Because I'm LDS and also from Utah, people frequently assume I'm politically conservative.  Actually, I'm moderate.

3.  I'm not really that big into movies.  There are a few that I love to sit down and watch every so often, but most movies--even great ones--I normally only see once in the theater.  I do love movie nights with friends, though.

4.  I'm afraid of heights.

5.  I don't play video games.  It's my favorite genre of music, and I love the storylines, but I leave the playing to other people.  I do, however, make exceptions for party games like Guitar Hero or Mario Kart.

6.  I was on the debate team in high school.

7.  As a child, my earliest career aspiration was to be a scientist.

8.  Though I love to travel, and try to go as frequently as I can, I am prone to homesickness.

9.  After Pokémon cards were banned at my elementary school, I helped establish and participated in an elaborate underground Pokémon card-trading ring.  I can't speak for the rest of the group, but I was never caught. 

10.  My driving record is spotless.
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