Monday, May 30, 2011

This I Believe

     I believe that the colors brown and black clash terribly. It makes me cringe when my dad wears sandals with socks, and it makes me wince when boys brag about being able to fit into their sister’s pants. However, I believe even more in the idea that no matter what you choose to wear, that the most important thing is that you feel comfortable in those clothes. I believe that the greatest lesson for anyone to learn is how to be unashamed to be themselves whoever that self may be.

     I believe in the cognitive theory. I believe that the most important thing in a human’s life is the ability to think. There truly is nothing save thinking makes it so. Our thoughts influence how we interpret the world. What we think majorly influences how we face our personal challenges and goals in life. Whether these thoughts are positive or negative can impact everyone for good or ill. One person’s thoughts (or lack of) can change a world.

     I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect family. I believe that the family is a lot like playdough. Playdough is loved by everyone; it makes life a lot more bearable because it provides both fun and comfort to us. It comes in all forms, shapes, colors, and consistencies. If it isn’t loved and cared for, it will become hard and crusty, and if the playdough isn’t doing its best to stick together, it falls apart. Playdough can be formed into any assortment of figures; none of them are perfect; they are all different and artistic in its own sense.

     I believe more than anything that the world is a good place. I believe that hardships and tragedies can drive good people to do bad things or force them into unfortunate circumstances, and it is really sad. But I believe that it is important to try not to judge anyone no matter what they do or what they look like. Life is hard; all you can do is be good to everybody and try to imagine how their shoes feel.

     I believe that no matter how rough a situation is that people can transcend their circumstances and rise above the deck of cards they’ve been dealt. I don’t believe in chance; I believe that life is a masterfully crafted challenge that we can allow to make or brake us. I believe that we have an unlimited capacity to overcome obstacles and to succeed in life no matter what happens.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Know That Our Redeemer Can Help Us Overcome Fear

     At the beginning of this week, I was asked to give a talk on my favorite scripture or hymn... I laughed on Thursday when my favorite was mentioned in a talk by the New Stake president for seminary graduation. In this case, I hope that some things bear repeating.
     I’ve gained a testimony of the truth behind Doctrine and Covenants Chapter 6: 33-36 in my seminary class, these verses read:

“Fear not to do good, my sons [or daughters,] for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.”
It goes on to finish:
“Look to me in every thought, doubt not, fear not.”

     I know what the word fear means through personal experience, but, I wanted to get a more “scholarly” translation for my talk than “the feeling we experience when we see an enormously gigantic spider crawling around on the walls of our lovely abodes.”

     According to the wizened Microsoft Word dictionary, fear is “an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger; an idea, thought, or other entity that causes feelings of fear; or a concern about something that threatens to bring bad news or results.

     The new graduates of the Bridgecreek Ward have much to fear. I feel confident in saying that I’m not the only one that’s felt afraid about the rise in tuition and the cost of living, or about majoring in something that will complete me or finding the right person for the same purpose. I’m not alone in being afraid to move away from my family and how it will feel to miss them and the amazing leaders and teachers that I’ve had here in this ward.

     But if there’s one thing that I know for sure, I know that I’ve had a class at Davis that has completed my experience as a high schooler and prepared me to face these fears, and that class was seminary. Seminary has taught me how to face my fears for the future head-on.

     Last year in seminary I was faced with a fear that I had never had in my life.

     Brother Burton asked me light-heartedly if I trusted the Lord. I firmly replied “yes...” He then asked me if I trusted him and the seminary class that the Lord had placed me into.

     Not really understanding what his questions were leading up to and feeling the heat of the stares of my fellow peers, I confusedly replied “yes” again without a thought. I was even more flabbergasted when he chuckled and asked me if I could prove my trust. With a knowing smirk, he took a blindfold out of his pocket and gestured for me to blindfold myself.

     It was then that I knew that he wasn’t asking for empty answers, he wanted solid evidence about my affirmations
“If anything bad happens to you, promise me that you won’t sue me?” he laughingly joked. I’m almost sure that my voice shook as I quietly replied that I’d take responsibility for my actions, no matter how crazy they might turn out to be with this whole blind-fold business. After I had tied a blindfold over my tightly clenched eyes, Brother Burton helped me step from a chair onto the top of my desk. The room was so silent you could hear a pin drop.

     A moment later, he calmly asked me to put my arms to my sides and fall backwards off of my desk.

     My heart beat faster; I knew full well the repercussions of falling straight back onto the hard floor from this height. If there was nothing there to catch me, it would definitely cause me pain. If there was nothing there to stop my fall, my back might break, which would not only hurt, it could potentially cause paralysis. Alright, it was only a few feet up, but I was a little afraid of being injured... But more prominent than my fear of injury, was my determination in proving that my words weren’t empty, I wanted to allow my faith and trust to overcome all my fears and worries. So without further ado, I fell backwards into the darkness, having no idea if I was going to have a soft landing. Needless to say, I am still happily intact.

     I have a testimony that if we are exercise courage and are unafraid to look for the good things in life like the gospel and seminary, that we shall all “reap” rewards greater than we can possibly imagine.
There is much to fear out there in the world, but with the knowledge that we as members of this Ward of people who have a love of the gospel and our Savior; I know that we can overcome any fears that we may have. “Let Earth and Hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.”

     In church we constantly joke about the typical “seminary answers:” read your scriptures, pray, go to the temple, keep the commandments, etc. etc. Sometimes we fail to recognize how important they are. Earth: aka the modern media, the radio, our friends who encourage us to follow all of these demeaning “fads” that mock who we are and what we stand for, and Hell, a whole third of the host of heaven is pitted against us solely for the purpose of scorning the faith that we cling to, are both currently combined against you, and they would love to destroy you.

     Yet, if we are built upon this little rock, these simple little seminary answers, prayer, scripture study, visiting the temple, keeping the commandments; Earth and Hell cannot prevail.

     I’d like to finish by reading the second verse of my favorite hymn.

     I Know that My Redeemer Lives
“He lives to grant me rich supply. He lives to guide me with his eye. He lives to comfort me when faint. He lives to hear my soul’s complaint. He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. He lives all blessings to impart.”

     I personally know, with all of the bones in my body no matter how short they may be that our Redeemer lives. He loves me, he loves you, and if you will follow him and put all of your trust in him that he will not only wipe away your tears, that he will help to erase all of your fears. Have faith in him, have charity for others, and have a hope in the future that he has lovingly provided you with. I proclaim these truths to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

     This has been a crazy month; honestly, the last three years have been crazy in and of themselves. It's hard for me to believe that I'm about to move on in life and graduate from high school. This post isn't going to be very entertaining or beautifully symbolic, but I believe that the things that have been happening in my life are worth a little lamentation and reminiscing.

     The month of May really has been a month of beginnings and endings for me. I've been brought to tears for multiple reasons; it was really stressful with AP tests coming on, the usual friend troubles, and thinking about going away to college college. It's hard to believe that in less than three months I will be moving out of my house and away from my family. But luckily most of my tears have been out of happiness, and I've thanked God every day for my fun life, because things are turning around. Admittedly someone who didn't know me very well could easily think that I've been developing a bipolar disorder with all these ups and downs.

     I grinned as I put my pen down after my final ap test (which was English language.) Somehow at the end of the test, my packet managed to have eleven pages worth of essays scrawled inside, ready to be sent out east and graded for potential college credit. The very last ap test that I'll ever have to worry for in my life is over.

     I grinned again several times as I played in my last soccer game; recreation soccer has been the most consistent sport in my life since Kindergarten, and now it's over for good. Soccer has been such a motivator for me to be active physically. My coaches have been amazing, it's crazy to think that I will most likely never play my favorite sport on an organized team again. Not only am I through with soccer playing, but I've also reffed soccer for the past three years; now soccer season is officially over I will never have to ref another soccer game in my life! No worrying about whether or not I make the right calls, no more worrying about parents complaining, no more worrying about coaches screaming in my face, no more worrying about the more snobbish kids getting angry at me. It's a truly amazing feeling of accomplishment and freedom that I've felt these past twenty four hours since my last reffed game!

     It's been an amazing beginning. Now I have new friends and my first boyfriend ever. Now I'm packing up my room to move away for the first time. There are so many new beginnings! I'm beginning a new life filled with more happiness than I've ever had before. I am so excited for life, it is truly going to be a good run. Through it all I'll remember my hard-working past, the good times, as well as the bad times so that I can progress and learn even more.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A.P. English Literature

     I haven't posted a blog post in a little over a month. Fortunately, I can't attribute this to personal laziness. Lately I've become totally consumed with studying for my three AP tests this month: AP Psychology, AP English Literature, and last but not least, AP English Language.
Although I haven't posted much writing on my blog, practice essays have become a ritual of my daily life for the past week.
Yesterday I timed myself to a random poem prompt for the literature test; it took me a half an hour to dissect two poems and scribble my own piece of mind on the paper.
I'm going to type out the two poems that the essay was written about, along with the instructions and my own essay in the hopes that it might some other struggling souls going through AP English Lit or Language.

Total time--2 hours

Question 1
(Suggested time--40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

Carefully read the two poems below. Then in a well-organized essay compare the speakers' reflections on their early morning surroundings and analyze the techniques the poets use to communicate the speakers' different states of mind.

Poem 1:

Five A.M.

Still dark, the early morning breathes
a soft sound above the fire. Hooded
lights on porches lead past lawns,
a hedge; I pass the house of the couple
who have the baby, the yard with the little
dog; my feet pad and grit on the pavement, flicker
past streetlights; my arms alternate
easily to my pace. Where are my troubles?

There are people in every country who never
turn into killers, saints have built
sanctuaries on islands and in valleys,
conquerors have quit and gone home, for thousands
of years farmers have worked their fields.
My feet begin the uphill curve
where a thicket spills with birds every spring.
The air doesn't stir. Rain touches my face.

Poem 2:

Five Flights Up

Still dark
The unknown bird sits on his usual branch.
The little dog next door barks in his sleep
inquiringly, just once.
Perhaps in his sleep, too, the bird inquires
once or twice, quavering.
Questions--if that is what they are--
answered directly, simply,
by day itself.

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins...
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.

The little black dog runs in his yard.
His owner's voice arises, stern,
"You ought to be ashamed!"
What has he done?
He bounces cheerfully up and down;
he rushes in circles in the fallen leaves.

Obviously, he has no sense of shame.
He and the bird know everything is answered,
all taken care of,
no need to ask again.
--Yesterday brought to today so lightly!
(A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift.)

2005 Free Response- Poetry

In "Five A.M." and "Five Flights Up" the respective poets allude to their own interpretations pertaining to the dawning of a new day. "Five A.M." is a flowing and metaphorical description that interprets the mysteries of allusions from the past, signifying that every day is a mystery to be embedded into the past. However, Five Flight up is a more literal interpretation. The poet uses broken enjambment and colloquial language to create a portrait of a less interpretive world as the poem explores how mornings begin, which in turn, complements a more modern state of mind.

In Five A.M., the poet uses personification to make his interpretation of the world come to life. "The early morning breathes a soft sound..." and "Rain touches my face." Not only create a tone for figurative interpretation, but also appeal to the senses of not only sight, but touch and sound as well. The poet creates rhythmic meter with long sentences with little to no breaks in between lines. This flow adds to the effect and tone of the mysterious allusions portrayed in the second stanza. The poet communicates a state of mind in which he or she views every morning as a scene of beauty, mystery, and unanswered questions as the author is enveloped in eloquent natural surroundings.

In the poem "Five Flights Up", the poet conveys the morning as a literal happenstance that is easily observed and can be described substantially with little to doubt or question. "Questions- if that is what they are-// answered directly, simply, by day itself." The poet then proceeds to use adjectives to describe how the morning appears to the world. Using enjambment, the poet creates a sense of blunt description, leaving the impression that like the poem's sentences, a morning lacks any eminent complexity and can be interpreted with little awe or wonderment.

"Five A.M." is a masterpiece communicating a mystery, surrounded by the dawn of a new day, defined by the personification of Earth's elements, complemented by flowing parallel syntax, and completed with allusions tracing back to the history of former mornings. "Five Flights Up" is a literal interpretation of a morning that is self-explanatory and presents itself bluntly through the use of juxtaposition, visual imagery and modern language that conveys the morning as a predictable, direct, and simple element to the every day flow of a provincial life.