Sunday, September 13, 2009

We're Agents To Ourselves!

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned."

Church today was fabulous - FABULOUS. As I discussed in a previous entry, I have really been struggling inside myself to make a decision about what I should do with my life now that I am graduated from BYU. I have spent the past two year working and loved it, and have had every intention of going back to Grad School, but with no solidified decision as to what I will study and where I will be attending. I have gone back and forth between numerous areas of study and locations... I have been praying to figure out what exactly I should do and have felt like I wasn't getting an answer.

Then, a few weekends back I had a great experienced and finally felt like I was making a breakthrough. I narrowed my decisions down and started feeling like I was being heard again - or realized that I always was being heard... I decided to look into some different MFA programs, emphasizing in acting, or some MBA programs emphasizing in Sports Management and Events. I have loved both of these areas of interest in my life and felt like I knew it was between one or the other. I picked out some good schools for each program and had taken a step forward... I was now just waiting for some kind of amazing answer that would tell me which path to chose.

Well, what was I waiting for... a brilliant light to part the skies and shine down on me, opening my mind to some amazing epiphany that I should chose one area or another to study?

That wasn't going to happen. It is STILL not going to happen. Why, you ask?
...Because I am an agent unto myself.

My bishop gave a talk today in church today for ward conference and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. He read the scripture posted above and I just HAVE to break it down within the realm of how it hit me.

First, we do many things of our own free will and are agents unto ourselves. We must make decisions for ourselves and are commanded to do so. We have been given agency for a reason, and we must learn to trust ourselves, and use that agency. That is what I must really learn - to trust and believe in myself as much as my Heavenly Father and Savior believe in me.

Second, if I do not anything until I am commanded, and then receive a commandment with a doubtful heart, AND keep being slothful, I am pretty much damned. In modern language, if I sit and wait for someone to give me direction I am "damned." I'm not thinking of "damned" as going to hell, but as being literally STOPPED from making progress. If I sit and wait for Heavenly Father to shine a light on the "correct path" I will still be sitting there a year from now, and will not have made ANY progress. Also, if I go along the path that I chose and feel the spirit guide me, but keep second guessing that guidance, I am not going to go anywhere either - I've damned myself.

Now, imagine a year of not trusting myself and also not really trusting the spirit because of fear, doubt, etc... Yea. That was this last year for me until about three weeks ago. What a weight LIFTED this past month as I have realized how to remove the stumbling blocks I have been placing in front of myself! I am truly becoming an agent unto myself.

So, I have realized that I need to make a decision and have come that far. I have narrowed down my choices - the two programs... Now, I must decide between the the practical path, and the scary, unpredictable path. An MBA program is where I have no doubt I would get a job right out of Grad School and succeed on a high level - plus, I would love it.

An MFA program would be to guide me in my process to go pro in acting and music - do the "dream big" thing. I would love that, but I realize that no matter how talented I am and how much drive I have I could eat my life away taking anything I can get and really never "get there." It's a gamble no matter how talented you are. YES, anything is a gamble, but I'm being real here... That business is HARD to get into and stay locked into. Straight up.

So, now that I know it is on me to decide and trust myself... I just have to do it. Is that the easy or the hard part? I'm confused.

.... But life feels much more clear in the current confusion, rather than the past feelings of abandonment - though I merely abandoned myself, by not trusting myself.

Song of the Day: Um, I had the chance to watch the VMAs tonight (I would NOT miss em'!) and saw the performance by Muse... DANG. They were KICK! Thus, I give you the song that they performed as my chosen melodic masterpiece of the day... Here's Muse's song, Uprising. I love this song. I love Muse. Their new CD comes out this week!!! Enjoy!

Sidenote: If you know the band Truman in Provo, doesn't the lead singer look like Ben in this video?! Serious. That's tight.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11 - Oh Remember, Remember

I will never forget where I was when the Twin Towers were hit, and when they fell. When they were hit, I was sitting in Seminary - as I have realized many of my friends were. I had been sitting in the room for about twenty minutes and a boy named Kolin Stanley walked into the room, eating lettuce and saying, "The World Trade Centers have been hit by planes!" Sister Cook, our teacher, asked what he meant and when he repeated himself, asked him to sit down. He stood there for a few seconds, then shrugged and sat down. We were all kind of thinking Kolin didn't really know what he was talking about. He WAS eating lettuce for breakfast... no joke.

When I got into the Shelley boys' big red van and drove to school we talked about other things... Though I believe one person did say something about turning the TV on in the band room. When we got to school, I walked in and the whole school was quite, not WAY un-normal for by the band room in the morning, but oddly silent. When we walked into the band room I can remember each person who was standing there and which ones were wearing their backpacks. Weird, huh? I remember that this girl, Alyssa, was crying because her parents were scheduled to be at the Pentagon that day and they had just released this it was also hit.

The whole day went on with all of us going to classes and doing very little to no work, as we constantly had the TVs on. In my English class, the teacher asked us if we were really concerned or just wanted to get out of work. We all responded with wide eyes of concern and genuine confusion at what was happening, so she let us watch. There were kids asking me my opinion on religious stuff, which was awesome, but very different from the norm. Kids from my seminary group were having discussions on the seven seals in the New Testament and talking about how Revelations tied into our day and generation - There was SO much religious talk, and for once... no one was throwing a fit about it.

I remember coming home to my brother having the TV on and showing how we were going to retaliate as a country and the decisions Bush had made. I remember the numbers of bodies that were being reported as dead or missing. It was a day where I remembered the exacts and specifics, and yet it was also a day that was a total blur. I can't describe it any better than this... I remember everything and yet nothing regarding the time in between those moments of discussion or watching the TV. It was a cloudy day with showering spots of sunlight through the fog. Hm.

I watched a documentary on the History Channel today on 9/11 and found myself very moved. I didn't realize back when it happened how many people truly gave their lives and health, or were willing to, on that day nine years ago. To all those who served then, serve now, and to all the firefighters, policemen, EMTs and doctors, etc... Thank You. Thank you for the sacrifices that you make and the time and energy you put forth in making them. I truly appreciated and love each of you. I think my friends who are serving should know how much I appreciate them... and thank God that I have been blessed to know them.

Anyway, I felt compelled all day to say thank you.

On, a move humorous (and yet not) note, there was one man during the 9/11 footage that could be heard on the video saying, "I was 15 minutes from that building... Fifteen minutes from being inside of there. I work on the 38th floor... I came in late because I was watching Monday Night Football... Yea. Monday Night Football saved my life."

Haha... It's amazing how sincere he felt and was. I would have felt the same way. Thus, I feel justified in watching WAY too much football this season. Including tomorrow's BYU game... :)

Song of the Day: God Bless The USA, by Lee Grewnwood!!! It may appear cliche, but this is how much I care.... I don't. This video has the song and pics/sound bites from 9/11 - Instead of "enjoy," I'll say, Remember!

I'm not sure which date this will post under, but I had to write in remembrance of September 11th and the impact the happenings had on my life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

GLEE! (Reliving my teenage years - seriously.)

I have discovered a new obsession that will carry forth through this Fall and perhaps past. I am in love with the new FOX show, Glee! I watched the Pilot for the show at the end of last Spring and LOVED it. So, when the actual show premiered last night I had set aside some time to watch it. Yep, I set aside time for another show... but it's okay because American Idol comes on as it is ending the season. So, they can replace one another in my life... Haha!

Now, I feel as though I should explain why I love this new show so much, so that I might persuade y'all to partake in the awesomeness that is, Glee! Thus, here is why I am in love with this new series:

1) There is a love of subtle (and blatant) wit within the script. This causes some hilarious things to occur and some thought provoking things to be said.

2) The show is story AND character driven. The characters are CLASSIC too! They all have specific characteristics that are funny and additionally meaningful in their own way. Also, because of this you don't HAVE to see each episode to understand completely, but it would definitely be more meaningful to the plot driven entity of the show.

3) The actors are actually quite talented... and the main guys are beautiful. That always makes me happy... Haha! You can see what I mean for yourself if you take a gander to your right. The main girls are beautiful as well, so boys, you can be happy too.

4) It's based around theater and singing - two of my main loves in life. So, you can see why I would enjoy this. However, there is more to the story than that.

5) If you love good music, you will love this show. It has taken ALL types of music and makes them into "glee club" arrangements. These aren't "choir arrangements" - glee club is different and much more modern. The show is FULL of songs in each episode and they all tie into the story line in some way, which is very clever. Sometimes they are rather dramatic (which is kinda funny) and sometimes they are just background to the story. Plus, the voices on these actors are AMAZING! The main girl... SO GOOD!

6) I feel like I am reliving a part of my teenage years... Yea. I was totally a choir, drama, band nerd - and VERY proud of it.

7) The show just make you smile!

And now, a musical segment from Glee's Pilot episode, where the football jock and the drama queen finally come together to make the Glee Club succeed. This will be my song of the day too! So, I bring you Journey's Don't Stop Believing, by the Cast of Glee! Enjoy!


P.S. Also, check out the main girl (her name is Rachel on the show) in her featured performance from the premier episode - She does a version of Rihanna's Take a Bow that is off the hook!

Monday, September 7, 2009

BYU's Epic Day of Victory and Chaos!

"Some will instinctively downplay BYU's 14-13 upset due to Heisman winner Sam Bradford's shoulder injury. Those people probably did not watch the game. A swarming Cougars defense exploited Oklahoma's rebuilt offensive line from the get-...go. The scoreboard read 7-7 when Bradford went out, 10-7 at halftime and 13-7 after BYU stonewalled Oklahoma on a third-and-goal from the one-yard-line." -Sports Illustrated

Saturday night I had the amazing opportunity to be in Provo, hanging with some friends while witnessing BYU's first game of the season. We played the Oklahoma Sooner's and let me tell you, this game was a good one. I found myself stressed out hitting half-time and throughout the fourth quarter... That's when you know it's a good game. Haha!

As I stood up near the end because I couldn't handle sitting any longer, I found myself pacing and thinking, "Com'on Cougars - You can do this! You can beat the third ranked team in the nation!" Then, they did.

Final Score = BYU 14 - Oklahoma 13
It was an epic day.

After the game finished, our group promptly ran through the complex parking lot screaming, blowing Dustin' victory horn, lighting some ground fireworks, and then hopping in our car to drive around and share in our victory. How can I describe Provo at this time? It looked like Mexico after winning the World Cup. I mean, there wasn't a bunch of drunks out, but you couldn't have told cause everyone was going insane. The streets were lined with THOUSANDS of college kids high-fiving cars as they slowly crept by while car horns were honking and drums were being played out on lawns down University. Young adults stood screaming and chanting on the street corners, and when the "walk" sign lite up, they would run into the middle of the intersection, jump around, and run back on a green light. Only in Provo, might I add, would the kids wait till it was legal to run into the street. Haha!

After driving down University three or four times times and driving through campus, honking the entire time, we were told by my friend BG to yell out for everyone to head to the stadium... so, we did! Haha... We sent out texts, yelled out our windows and headed north to Lavell Edwards Stadium. When we got there, there was probably forty or fifty kids there - not very many. Within the hour, there were thousands of kids piling into the stadium parking lot for chanting "BYU" sessions, a giant dance party, and just a huge celebration of a great victory for the BYU Cougars and our football team. People were piled into the back of trucks, hanging out the windows, tearing off their shirts (well, the boys...) and renting their clothes - just like in biblical times. Haha! Strong emotions still emote and encourages that, apparently.

Again, I quote, "Some will instinctively downplay BYU's 14-13 upset due to Heisman winner Sam Bradford's shoulder injury. Those people probably did not watch the game. A swarming Cougars defense exploited Oklahoma's rebuilt offensive line from the get-...go. The scoreboard read 7-7 when Bradford went out, 10-7 at halftime and 13-7 after BYU stonewalled Oklahoma on a third-and-goal from the one-yard-line." -Sports Illustrated

They forgot to mention that we didn't have Harvey Unga the entire time either, so get off about Bradford. If you watched the game, you can't deny we put up a good fight. Also, Oklahoma did not dominate us, which everyone thought they would. We played a good, fair game and had a fantastic victory in the end. It was incredible.

I am ALWAYS proud to be a Cougar, but yesterday the pride I had in my BYU Football team was ten fold - Keep it up Cougars!

Song of the Day: The Cougar Fight s
ong seems appropriate, no...? :) Haha! Actually, listen to a good song by Queen called, We Are The Champions. A classic song, appropriate for the time. Go Cougars!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Jump-Start to the Spiritual Heart!

Sidenote: This entry may perhaps appear somewhat personal, and it is in many ways. However, I feel comfortable letting people know that, well... everyone struggles. Everyone goes through tough times in their lives of self, and even religious doubt. But, everyone can come forth from those times ten times stronger and more determined, if they let themselves.... That being said:

Spiritual Rejuvenation... sounds as thought it could be somewhat in the manner of beseeching as a title. However, that is how I am currently feeling. Spiritually Rejuvenated.
This weekend I went down to St. George with some friends to see my friend Britta's farewell, and it was perfect. I had some talks in the car on the way down and back, and during our group's scripture study on Saturday night that really re-focused me on the important things and I feel that I have had a small jump-start to the spiritual heart. I feel like I am finally feeling the spirit in my life again and understanding that Heavenly Father really loves me. I have been struggling a bit. I have been struggling to feel the spirit and feel like Heavenly Father has a plan for me. I know he does, but everyone goes thorough times in their life of doubt and struggle.

I think that this past year has been the real trial for me... I can't explain it all, but I really felt separated and was making choices that weren't bringing me closer to my Savior. When I felt like my Heavenly Father or Savior weren't listening, I did the opposite of what someone should do and I pulled away... I think I do that sometimes. I stopped reading my scriptures most of the time and prayers were every other day - SO not like me. I haven't been this way since before High School. I was going to church and doing my calling, but I was really "active" in the gospel if you know what I mean. I had just lost the fire within.

Anyway, no one needs to hear more of that, but I'll just say it was probably one of the times I felt the most alone in my life, and I'm still sorting through it. However, this weekend did something for me...

These past few weeks I have seen specs of hope and this weekend was a HUGE relief for my soul - sounds cheesy, but it truly how I feel. I went down to St. George with my friends Dru and Dan for the farewell (homegirl's going to England!) and met up with my girl, Kay, and three of her friends. It was a giant weekend extravaganza at Kay's parent's summer home - very fun! A weekend full of dolphin noises, car games, grapes, and sing-alongs!

Anyway, on the way down me and the boys were playing games and I wanted to play the "If you could ask God three questions, what would they be?" game. We had some really interesting thoughts and it turned into deep conversation... Dan posed the question, "Have I reached my potential?" and that really got me thinking. Where am I at, and where should I be to be happy with my "final outcome" in this life and the next. That was good cause it started my flame.

Then, that night, we did a group scripture study talking about the Tree of Life vision and personal application. It was fascinating and got us talking. We started sharing study techniques (Patterns!) and amidst everything... It just clicked again for me. I felt the realization that I needed the gospel in my life as the focus and not in addition to other things. I have been SO lost and SO out of focus. I have really been OFF my "A game..." We all have these times I guess, but I have always been the "strong one" in my family and I never thought it could happen to me... but I just took my turn to burn out for a bit. I never want to do that again - NEVER.

I know this gospel is true! I KNOW that I have a Savior who loves me and that my Heavenly Father has a plan for me - I KNOW it.... For the first time in a long time I can say "know" and mean it wholeheartedly, cause it had slipped for me...

It's like in Alma 32:28 where it talks about the knowledge and seed being perfected, and it says "it is not." The seed has to keep growing and being nourished - I lost sight of that. On the chance of sounding preachy (which is never my intention), I must encourage all to never lose sight of that. Hold strong to fruit of the gospel and cherish it. Whatever you believe, hold it inside your heart and never lose focus. I guess the same principles can apply to being a missionary and why our church has missionaries around the world. They are there to give people this great gift that we believe with our whole beings in, and I was taking for granted - that is where their focus is, which is why they might come across as "intense." If you have experienced that in any negative form, please understand it from that point of view and try to be patient. With that focus so strong in me right now, I want to yell it from the roof-tops too.

I have been SO prideful lately, and my caution to any and everyone would be to never fear humility. Turn to Heavenly Father in all things; in all frustrations and in all happiness. He is our FATHER and wants to hear! And, nothing is too great for the Lord...

I am just beyond grateful to know that again, and to be spiritually rejuvenated once more.

Song of the Day: On our trip we listened to some amazing music via Dan's Ipod, and I was introduced to a group I had recently put on my "musical shopping list" to check-out - Il Divo! I had only heard one song of theirs, but my word! They are phenomenal! I encourage everyone to check them out for some good Sunday or everyday listening... So, the song for today is one I knew of theirs before this weekend (used in a past Dancesport Event), and it is a duet with my favorite singer of all time - Celine Dion. With no further ado, here is Il Divo and Celine Dion's, I Believe In You. The video is to Lion King footage - Haha! Kinda cheesy, bu it made me wanna have a Disney night... Enjoy!

Sidenote: Favorite text of the day --> "I love your face and legs." Um.... That's right! Haha!!!