Thursday, July 28, 2011


We are constantly experiencing new things. God placed us on this earth to learn, progress, and grow. Because life is not fair, things get in our way. In order to succeed in this life we must be malleable. We need to learn to adapt, shift, and mold ourselves into the men and women that God has prepared us to be. This does not mean that we should be someone that we are not. In fact, that is the very opposite of what we should do. Life is a refiner's fire (Isaiah 48:10). We need to learn to strengthen ourselves. I am talking about re-invention. It is an intimidating, bold, and scary thing to do. One person that comes to my mind that did a beautiful job of re-inventing himself is Conan O'Brien. Yep. I love the guy. He truly has been through a lot (especially lately). Let's delve into his experiences a bit so that our understanding of this concept of re-invention can be deepened.
Are you with Coco? If should be. Check your head!

Conan O'Brien. Hilarious.

Conan O'Brien. What a guy. He currently hosts a late night talk show simply called, "Conan". Before hosting "Conan" he was the host of the most coveted talk show of all time: "The Tonight Show". He took over for Jay Leno but then after some turmoil, craziness, and then the ultimate mistreating of Conan...Leno took his job back and Conan was in a year long hiatus. "Conan" now airs on TBS and is a smash hit (from what I hear - I have been on my mission for over a  year now). BUT I have been a fan of Conan O'Brien for a long time. He is uniquely funny that I simply cannot get enough of him. Before his first talk show, "Late Nite with Conan O'Brien" (which he hosted for nearly 17 years), Conan was a writer for "The Simpsons" and "Saturday Night Live" (during the REALLY good days of "SNL"). Before that he went to school and graduated from Harvard. In a nutshell...Conan is a stud. I heart him and his quirks!

Conan easily could have given up when we lost his spot as host of "The Tonight Show". It was something that he had worked for his whole life. Something that he dreamed of reaching. Then he reached it! But it was taken away. Let me ask this question: How many of us have experienced something similar to Conan? Granted, we probably haven't experienced anything with this much publicity or at this type of scale. But I truly believe that we all can relate to him to some degree. What are we to do? In a speech given to the 2011 graduating class of Dartmouth, Conan spoke of his time after he left "The Tonight Show". He says some deep, inspirational, motivating, and enlightening things. He said:

"But then something spectacular happened. Fogbound, with no compass, and adrift, I started trying things. I grew a strange, cinnamon beard. I dove into the world of social media. I started tweeting my comedy. I threw together a national tour. I played the guitar. I did stand-up, wore a skin-tight blue leather suit, recorded an album, made a documentary, and frightened my friends and family. Ultimately, I abandoned all preconceived perceptions of my career path and stature and took a job on basic cable with a network most famous for showing reruns, along with sitcoms created by a tall, black man who dresses like an old, black woman. I did a lot of silly, unconventional, spontaneous and seemingly irrational things and guess what: with the exception of the blue leather suit, it was the most satisfying and fascinating year of my professional life. To this day I still don't understand exactly what happened, but I have never had more fun, been more challenged—and this is important—had more conviction about what I was doing."

"How could this be true? Well, it's simple: There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized. I went to college with many people who prided themselves on knowing exactly who they were and exactly where they were going. At Harvard, five different guys in my class told me that they would one day be President of the United States. Four of them were later killed in motel shoot-outs. The other one briefly hosted Blues Clues, before dying senselessly in yet another motel shoot-out. Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course. This happens in every job, but because I have worked in comedy for twenty-five years, I can probably speak best about my own profession."

"Way back in the 1940s there was a very, very funny man named Jack Benny. He was a giant star, easily one of the greatest comedians of his generation. And a much younger man named Johnny Carson wanted very much to be Jack Benny. In some ways he was, but in many ways he wasn't. He emulated Jack Benny, but his own quirks and mannerisms, along with a changing medium, pulled him in a different direction. And yet his failure to completely become his hero made him the funniest person of his generation. David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson, and was not, and as a result my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman. And none of us are. My peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways. But the point is this : It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention."
Wow. Conan is absolutely right. He has experienced that through failure and grief we will (if we handle ourselves correctly) become our best selves. We need to look to those great people and examples around us and do our best to emulate them.  But we need to keep in mind that we will never be that person. We will never have the same effect on others that our idols have had on ourselves.

The beauty of emulation is that it brings about re-invention. We are all individuals. One hundred percent unique. When we strive to emulate the characteristics and attributes of another we will fail on many levels. But I promise you that in other areas we will excel and even exceed the capabilities of that person, thus breaking through our own expectations. When we recognize this we can be certain that we have re-invented ourselves through emulation.

Our Savior and friend.

When living this thing called life we need to ALWAYS look to our King, Jesus Christ. He is our perfect example. (For more on this subject go to Be Thou An Example.) Christ Himself taught that we should follow Him. We need to do all that we can to emulate Him and be the best that we can be. But in our quest to be more like Christ we will trip, slip, and mess up. We are human. We will make mistakes. But that should never stop us from trying to be better and be more Christlike. Just like being removed from "The Tonight Show" never stopped Conan from trying to be successful. Remember, it was because of his lowest moment that he had his greatest triumph.

Christ is the great exemplar. As we try to be more like Him we will have more happy and more fulfilling lives. But as I said before, we will make mistakes. The beauty of emulating Christ is that we can access the atonement, be forgiven and then be given an enabling power to accomplish great things. Through emulation of Christ we work together with Him to re-invent ourselves into the men and women that He would have us be. Christ's greatest triumph was when He suffered all things and was brought below us all so that He could have perfect empathy for us in our afflictions and then be resurrected. "He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6).

When we suffer pains, afflictions, and hard times are we going to choose to suffer longer and say, "Why me?" Or are we going to choose to emulate Christ and be strengthened by Him and be re-invented into our best selves? "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greather than he? (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8). The choice is yours. As for me, I'm with Christ. And Coco. I'm with Coco. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lost in Translation

Often times we find ourselves lost in translation. Gossip, rumors, slander, etc. All of it is bad news. There is a lot of garbage out there. A lot of things that we can easily get hung up on, stuck in, and confused about. No good! We can get ourselves into a deep pit if we take something to be truth that is not. Then we can dig ourselves deeper and drag others with us if we spread this filth to others. Also no good!

I am reminded of an episode from one of my favorite TV shows. Yep, Arrested Development yet again. It's just too good! In this particular episode Michael Bluth hears a rumor about a friend of his, Marta, and some guy named "Hermano". He allows this rumor to eat him up until the point that he is convinced that terrible things are afoot. Little does he know..."hermano" means "brother" in Spanish. He was lost in translation and he took something that he didn't fully understand, he twisted it, he involved others, and then he critically hurt his friendship with Marta because of it. What could he have done to avoid this? Could he have simply asked Marta what was going on? Of course he could have! But instead he assumed something and then crippled the whole situation.

Michael gets confused about "Hermano".

Marta is innocent the whole time!

Gob Bluth becomes involved.

So does Buster Bluth.

It results in this. Yikes!
This happens in our lives far too often. It is a terrible thing to witness, experience, or fall prey to. We need to do all we can to avoid this trend.

Satan does all he can twist, confuse, change, imitate, and...mess things up! You don't believe me? Just check out my blog Beware of False Imitations!

We must learn to judge things righteously. "Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgement" (JST Matthew 7:1). Michael Bluth of Arrested Development really needed to exercise righteous judgment. He needed to follow Christ's counsel in his sermon on the mount when he said to "beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15). He continued and said that it is impossible for a good tree (or person) to bring forth evil fruit (or works) and it is impossible for a bad tree (or person) to bring forth good fruit (or works). It is "by their fruits that ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).

To know the truth we must search our feelings. We cannot trust our emotions. Emotions are easily clouded by a variety of things but our feelings are from the soul. The Holy Ghost speaks to us through our feelings. Whenever we receive feelings of love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23) we can be confident that the Holy Ghost is speaking truth to us. We need to trust our feelings because they are of the Holy Ghost. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:5).

In conclusion...don't trust rumors, gossip, or slander. Search your feelings (not emotions) and hearken to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. You will have your story straight and you will be happy. Much unlike the Bluth family. Don't be like the Bluths.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Christmas in July

Painting of Christ's birth by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Hold up. Why am I posting something about Christmas in the middle of Summer? Because Christmas is one of the most important times of year and we need a reminder of its greatness! It is the time of year that we celebrate and recognize the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We always need to remember our big brother Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us. His miraculous birth was only the beginning of His miraculous life. The following video from is amazing. It helps me to remember the incredible Christmas story.

Christ's perfect life is what makes everything come together. The suffering He endured on our behalf in Gethsemane, the shedding of His blood on the cross, and His glorious resurrection comprises the Atonement. This is the reason that we are able to repent, have Forgiveness, and live again. It is through Him that we are able to move on from past mistakes and have burdens lifted. It is through Him that we can have peace in the present. It is through Him that we can have hope for a brighter future. Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, said this, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus Christ has a divine calling and He fulfilled it so that we may have everlasting joy. What a glorious thing to celebrate!

It is easy to get caught up in the gifts and the chaos that often comes with Christmas. But all of that hoopla  is not what Christmas is all about! I am reminded of my favorite Christmas movies. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Ron Howard. I love this movie. It simply makes me happy! With it being a full-feature film (an adaptation of the original cartoon) a lot of things are added to the movie to fill some space. I love it all! But the moral principles of the original are conveyed just the same - making the movie both funny and touching. Jim Carrey plays the role of the Grinch and he does a great job. The Grinch hates Christmas. He finds that a good portion of the whole town of Whoville is stuck in the "gifts rut". The Grinch finally "succeeds" in stealing Christmas. He takes all of the presents of all of the Whos in Whoville. However, when the town begins singing in spite of their lack of gifts (and through the help of young Cindy Lou Who). It is all about love! It's all about heart! BUT when he climbs to the top of Mt. Crumpit he finds that Christmas "came just the same" and he realizes something very important. Here's a scene from the Ron Howard classic:

The Grinch was able to see that Christmas is all about love. When he did that his heart grew three sizes! When we take it a step further than the Grinch and realize that the true meaning of Christmas is the love of Christ and the miracle of His Atonement...our hearts will grow infinitely. We will have the capacity to endure all trials, conquer all fears, and dismiss all darkness. When we allow Christ into our hearts and partake of that "living water" we will have an unending supply of love. "But whosoever drinketh of this water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).

Christ is the ultimate supply of love, compassion, and mercy. Let us celebrate Him not only once a year...but every minute of every day! So please...let us have Christmas in July!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Never Give Up

I am a basketball fan. I love the passion, the versatility, the athleticism, etc. I just love the sport. There are many things that can be learned from the game but I would like to focus on one of them. Never give up.

The principle of not giving up can be showed in a variety of ways but I'd like to show just one of them. One of my favorite teams in the NBA is the Portland Trail Blazers. A couple-three years back they were playing in a way intense game against the Houston Rockets. It went down to the wire. Then...well, you'll just have to watch and see what happened. Enjoy!

Wow. Brandon Roy is amazing. But would he have been amazing if he had given up? There was 0.8 seconds left. It would have been really easy to stop trying. To write off the game and say, "Well... they're better than we are. Time to call it quits." Good thing that he didn't. He held on and he worked hard. He curled to get open, he caught the ball square to the hoop, he elevated - game over. All in 0.8 seconds. We need to be like Brandon Roy and never give up.

Dunking on the Lakers. Even better.

Would Brandon Roy have been able to do this by himself? Of course not! He needed the help from his teammates, his coaching staff, and of course the fans. In our own lives we need to lean on the support system that God has given us. We have so much at our disposal! We have prayer, scriptures, church,,, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, music, etc. If we use what we have been given then we will be able to do amazing things like Brandon Roy did against the Rockets.

With trust in God all things are possible. "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me; ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33). If it is God's will and we show faith and trust in Him then all things are possible. Never give up. God always trusts in us. When we trust in Him, miracles happen.

Mary N. Cook says it perfectly in a talk called "Never, Never, Never Give Up!". She says, "Have you ever been afraid and discouraged as you’ve faced a challenge that seemed far beyond your ability? Have you ever wanted to give up? Imagine how Joshua, the successor to the great prophet Moses, must have felt, knowing that he was to lead the children of Israel to the promised land. At times I’m sure he wanted to give up. But the Lord comforted him by reminding him three times to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-9). With faith that God would be with them, the children of Israel committed, 'All that thou commandest … we will do'"(Joshua 1:16). What great faith and courage!

We may feel alone or overwhelmed. We may feel that we have sinned too much and we are a lost cause. I have felt that way before. It was a dark time in my life. But I am a living witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. He loves us so much. He will never give up on us. We should never give up on ourselves. If we give up on ourselves then we give up on Him. We can receive Forgiveness. We can be confident that the Lord's hand is stretched out still (2 Nephi 15:25).

Never give in. Never give up. Be like Joshua. Be like Brandon Roy. Rely on what God has given you and keep fighting to the wire. We will receive help. We will receive forgiveness. We will receive support. And hey...we may even hit a game winning three against Houston.

Never Give Up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Be Yourself

We all are different. We have our own physical, emotional, and spiritual characteristics. There are those out there that we relate to or clash with. But that is okay!

We all have our own way of doing things. We are individuals! God made us that way! Therefore...we simply need to be ourselves. There is a funny movie out there called, "Just Friends" that is all about a guy named Chris Brander (played by Ryan Reynolds) and how he struggles with being who he really is. His mother (shown in the video) teaches him to be himself.

Hmmm...seems like she might be onto something there! My lovely parents have always told me to be myself. As I reflect on my experiences I am reminded of the times that I have been myself and times that I have tried to be someone else. I am happy when I am myself. I am frustrated, upset, and confused when I try to be someone that I am not.

One of my favorite TV shows is called, "Arrested Development". In the show, some of the family members (Gob, Lucille, Lindsay, and George Sr.) have their own chicken dance. It is hilarious.

"How To" chicken dance like the Bluths

(L to R) Lindsay, George Sr. and Lucille dancing to their own chicken dance.

We do not necessarily have to "chicken dance" in our own way but we should be ourselves like the Bluths! In my own experiences, being myself has helped me SO much. In high school, college, and even the beginning of my mission I was so nervous when I met new people. Way nervous! I was so focused on leaving a good impression and not being weird or overbearing that I became far too reserved. I made myself awkward, shy, and depressed because of it. Since coming out on my mission I have learned the true importance being me.

I firmly believe that God has a guiding hand in my life and yours. He places me (and you) where we need to be, when we need to be there, and who we need to be there with. If this is true - which it is - then God is expecting and counting on us to be ourselves. He wants us there because He has prepared us to be there! He doesn't want us in a specific situation to change our personalities, likes, dislikes, characteristics, etc. Follow the counsel of Chris Brander's mom and "Be yourself!"

That being said, we need to be our best selves. What does that mean? A living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has helped us understand this in a talk that he gave in 1999 called "Becoming Our Best Selves". Within this talk he says, "In the search for our best selves, several questions will guide our thinking: Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better?". In our journey to our best selves we must show our personality while coming closer to Christ.

President Thomas S. Monson. What a cool guy.
I know that as we do this we will be happy. Trust me. I've experienced it. As I look back on the times that I have been sad, lonely, and has been because of two things. First, I'm trying to be someone that I'm not (or I'm hiding who I truly am!). Second, I'm not coming closer to my Savior. Those two things go hand in hand. As I am myself and I follow the Lord's commandments I am happy. "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..." (Mosiah 2:41). I know in my heart that this is true. I feel it. I challenge you to feel it as well. Be yourself! Do your own chicken dance! You will be happy and so will the Lord. Smiles all around.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Growing Up

Growing up. Getting older. It's something that all of us experience. I now have been on my mission for over a year and it is freaking me out a bit! When I came into the mission field I wrote a letter to myself so that I could read it when I had been out for a year. I recently read that letter. In only a year's time I have grown more than I ever have before. My eyes have been opened to the reality of the world. My faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been strengthened immensely. I have learned and grown in ways that I simply would not be able to if I was not on a mission for my Savior.

Back when I was but a wee lad at the MTC in Provo, UT.
Now that I have been "away from the world" for a year I more fully understand what it is that I am doing. I am representing Jesus Christ and I am inviting others to follow Him. I visit people in their homes and teach them the very same Gospel that He did in his three year ministry before His crucifixion. It is incredibly humbling to wear His name on my chest and represent Him. I am so proud to be a missionary. Yet, I know that I am nothing. A missionary, Ammon, in the Book of Mormon said this, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:11). We all are able to receive this strength from Christ. But I know that it is magnified when I am serving him completely as a missionary. When I go home in one short year...things will be different. It hurts to grow up.

Here is a more recent picture of me in Dillon, MT.
I am reminded of one of my favorite songs. It is called, "Still Fighting It" by Ben Folds.

Ben Folds.
 Here is a portion of that song:

Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It's so weird to be back here.
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We're still fighting it, we're still fighting it
Oh, we're still fighting it, we're still fighting it

I. Love. This. Song. It really does mean a lot to me. Time is so weird. It feels like it takes forever until you look back and realize how much time has really gone by. The only way to truly live is to live in the moment and to keep fighting. Now let me explain what "living in the moment" really means. It does not mean to live with no cares or to live dangerously. It means to make the most of what you have. It means to show Gratitude for what God has given you. It means to love those around you. It means to correct and forget past mistakes while striving to learn and grow.

Growing up is simply a part of life. We are here on earth to face trials and do our best to work through them and become stronger. We need to "keep fighting it". We are only able to do this with the help of Jesus Christ. He is Your Best Friend and knows us perfectly. He is there for us and He will helps us. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Growing up hurts. But it all is necessary. I am able to look back on my mission (and my life!) with joy, satisfaction, and confidence that Christ has been with me every step of the way. He loves me more than I understand and He has been shaping me through all of these experiences to be the man that He needs me to be. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11). I am not through growing yet. But I know that when I am done with my mission and as I continue in life I will be able to say with Paul of Tarsus (and Ben Folds) "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).