Saturday, February 13, 2016

Almost Three Years Later

Well, I haven't written on here in almost three years.  Two years, eight months, and 22 days, but who's counting?

A lot has happened.  I went to Cape Verde on my mission.  While there I became miserably ill and had to come home after only two-and-a-half months.  When I got home I reapplied to BYU and was going to go back in about one month, but three weeks before I was supposed to leave I met a woman named Tina and her adorable daughter Olivia.  One week before I was supposed to go back I decided not to go.  I got a job at a local restaurant and kept getting to know this amazing woman.  I enrolled at a local community college and asked Tina to marry me.  While we were engaged we got a job managing an apartment complex an hour away and so Tina was living there, but teaching where I lived full time, while I was in school full time and managing the apartment complex while juggling wedding planning and our sweet little Olivia.

After we got married I earned my Associate's Degree in Psychology at a different community college and worked at an amazing Hardware Store.  My wife managed the apartment complex that we lived at, and we had a baby.  Just after the baby came we moved back to BYU and I am going to school full time while working for a company that houses and cares for individuals with mental illness or traumatic brain injuries that prevent them from being fully independent.  And now you are all caught up.

That brings us to why I am writing now.  I am currently experiencing reactive depression and panic attacks.  I am depressed because I am a little over a year from graduating from college and I still have no idea how I am going to provide for my family.  Will I work right out of school (and doing what?), or will I go to grad school?  How am I going to make enough money to pay the bills?  I guess I am really feeling depressed because I am feeling inadequate.  And I have been having panic attacks that my wife is going to die and I am going to be left alone with a newborn and that Olivia will be taken from me and go live with her biological dad.  I don't know why I am having these panic attacks, but they are pretty miserable.  I don't know why I am putting this up here, but I guess I just needed to write it down.  Anyway, for anyone reading this I hope that you are doing better than I am right now.  I have full confidence that I will be fine and I will figure it out and have no problem taking care of my family, but intellectual knowledge and emotional knowledge are not the same thing.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Call to Cape Verde

I have been called to the Cape Verde Praia Mission, Portuguese speaking.  But I didn’t get a mission call like a normal person.  I got a phone call from my stake president on Friday April 26th at 7:30pm and he told me that he had received an email saying I need to submit a visa application if I wanted to leave on May 14th.  This email was the first thing either of us had heard about it so it was a big surprise to be going abroad since I was told that most missionaries that come home from abroad return to a stateside mission.  I have nothing against the states, but apparently the Lord has a work for me to do abroad using Portuguese.  I still don’t know what I need to pack, how long I’ll be gone, or anything like that, but my stake president is going to call the mission department today and hopefully get some of those necessary details for me.
Cape Verde is a 20 island nation with only nine inhabitable islands and six islands with church members on them.  There are about a half million people that live in Cape Verde and 8000 church members which means that one in every 63 people are members of the church.  They had their first stake organized last year and they have only had missionaries in Cape Verde since 1988 so the church is still very young there.  Their diet consists almost entirely of fruits, vegetables, and meat so I should be eating pretty well.  They don’t take boats between the islands much, so maybe I’ll get to fly between islands each transfer.  That’d be pretty fun.  It is a very laid back nation and often you could wait hours to make a deposit at the bank because people there prefer relationships to speed or ease.  There are a lot of common-law marriages so the Law of Chastity is going to be a big one on the islands.  They are a race of mixed black and white people so it is very common to black man or woman with blond hair and blue eyes or a white person with black hair.  The economy is based almost entirely on tourism so it should be a very clean place.  Because the islands were uninhabited and had no animals or plants before the Portuguese planted and built there, there are essentially no bugs and the only predator that I have to worry about is a scorpion with a sting like a wasp.
Given everything I have read about Cape Verde it sounds like the place I was always meant to serve and live in.  I feel like my time in Brazil was a training ground for missionary life so that I could do better in Cape Verde.  I think it is truly amazing how Heavenly Father can know us so well that He can plan such intricate journeys for us that always seem to work out just right.  I am so filled with light and joy right now that any words I try to use to describe it fall short of the fullness in my heart and so I will avoid such lavish words and stick to words used by our God.  It is good.
If you want to follow my new mission blog you will find it at: 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happiness is a Choice

I have always asserted, and will continue to assert that happiness is a choice.  Granted, there are clinical conditions that make it more difficult to choose to be happy, and I have been on both sides of this coin, but I almost always choose to be happy because life is so much easier that way.  One time I met a girl at a party and said "Hey, life is easier when you smile" and she has been one of my best friends and a great influence in my life.  I read this and I thought that this was a good list of measurable and acheivable items that you can choose to make life happier.  I will do better in my life, and I hope that you can live happier and more fulfilled lives because of something that is said.

"By Chiara Fucarino
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, walking around with a spring in every step. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
The question is: how do they do that?
It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …
1. Don’t hold grudges.
Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.
2. Treat everyone with kindness.
Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.
3. See problems as challenges.
The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.
4. Express gratitude for what they already have.
There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.
5. Dream big.
People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.
7. Speak well of others.
Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.
8. Never make excuses.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.
9. Get absorbed into the present.
Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.
10. Wake up at the same time every morning.
Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.
11. Avoid social comparison.
Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.
12. Choose friends wisely.
Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.
13. Never seek approval from others.
Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.
14. Take the time to listen.
Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.
15. Nurture social relationships.
A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.
16. Meditate.
Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.
17. Eat well.
Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.
18. Exercise.
Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your Self Improvement and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.
19. Live minimally.
Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.
20. Tell the truth.
Lying stresses you out, corrodes your Self Improvement, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.
21. Establish personal control.
Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.
22. Accept what cannot be changed.
Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better."

I love to smile and be happy.  Always remember that the purpose of this life is to feel joy.  Not the transitory euphoria that comes with self-indulgence but the real and lasting peace and happiness that comes from putting others before yourself and choosing to be happy.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Inspirational Women of Faith

I am constantly inspired by women.  Especially women of faith.  Watch this video:


Three of the most inspirational women that I know are my mom, my sister, and my friend Jenny.
Jenny: Jenny is one of those people who has always known what the right choice is and has diligently saught to achieve that goal.  She is smart, funny, and driven.  She constantly strives to know the will of Heavenly Father and to draw closer to Him.  She is one of the most humble and meek people that I know.  That doesn't mean that she is quiet and lets people walk all over her, (because that is the world's meaning of those words) but rather she is keenly aware of her dependence of the Lord and constantly seeks to be righteous and obedient enough to accept the path that she is guided down even if it is a really hard one.  She does this because she understands that God's path may not always be the easiest but it is always, always the best.  She is a great example of courage in how she always reaches towards her potential and anything in her life that is not in line with what she wants/needs to become she is unafraid to root it out and let it go.
Channing: She is my little sister and I so dearly love her.  I don't always express it as well as I should, but I hope that she knows that she means the world to me.  It was said by the Savior "Blessed are the peacemakers" and more than any other quality I think that this describes my sister.  In this imperfect world we live in we are so often surrounded by contention and distractions but Channing is always the first one to try to mediate.  She takes on so much more responsibility than someone as young as she is should need to and she does it with so much poise that I often find my prideful self a little bothered at her ability to perceive and divert contention before it reaches a peak.  My sister is truly a great example of courage in how she enters heated situations because she know that the Lord does not want loud voices and anger in our homes.
My Mom:  How does one begin to describe their own mother?  When I was 10 my family had fallen apart and my wonderful aunt came to me at a family reunion and told me that she had a dream about me joining her family and then she invited me to come live with her family.  At the time I thought it would be fun to go to California because I had never been before, but that one invitation has changed my life more than any other that I am aware.  Almost everything that I have done or become is because of that beautiful aunt.  After a few years they adopted me and she has become my mom.  I am far from perfect and in the times I have wandered she was always there layering my hard heart in love and wisdom so that when my heart broke the only thing there to fill the cracks would be that love.  She has difficult children but she seldom loses her temper and she works to diligently help each of them to grow closer to each other and to our Father in Heaven.  She cooks, cleans, and does all of that temporal stuff to provide, but the things that she does for us emotionally and spiritually are far beyond words or lists to describe them.  She is such a wonderful example of courage in the way that she diligently does the basics in the Gospel and never has questioned the truth of it even when times are hard.  She is courageous when she confronts about a good choice (but not the best choice) for my life and knowing I'll be upset she points this out to me anyway.  Thank you mom for always watching out for me.
Each of us is surrounded by powerful and amazing women.  I challenge each of you to find one in your life and let them know of your feelings for them.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Becoming a New Creature Through Christ

Dear Readers,

I've only recently gotten back into writing a blog.  It's been difficult to know what to say because I feel like so often I am caught in a cycle of doing the same things over and over again without much variety or interesting changes in my life.  Despite this complete misconception on my part, when I think about it I do have so much to say I am just a lazy/hesitant creature and thus I do what is easy or comfortable instead of doing the things that I love or the difficult, but rewarding things in life.

For instance, while I was in high school I used to spend several hours a week doing art.  I would create beautiful pictures and I saw the world in bright colors and vivid details, but somewhere along the way I lost my passion for it.  I started watching more tv and spending less time building and creating.  In my opinion we live in a world of development and growth.  God's plan is to help us to choose wrong from right and to grow to become as He is.  His gospel is a gospel of creation.  He created the world.  He created so many of our thoughts and all of the beautiful things in this world that inspire us.  A couple of weeks ago I was teaching myself how to play one of my favorite hymns on the piano and even though it was very difficult I felt my heart swell and in through the cracks created by this swelling flowed streams of joy and inspiration.  For the first time in a long time I wanted to build something, I wanted to create.  At work I began to build with the Legos and design huge and intricate structures.  At home I started a new artistic series featuring inspiring statements and pictures that embody those statements to me.  I had broken out of the cycle of doing what is easy and was now doing what I loved.  I feel so much more fulfilled and so much happier now than I did even a few weeks ago.

So much is changing for me now.  I am becoming so much more than I ever was before.  I don't have the words to adequately describe the joy that I feel so often now.  I am rooting out the sloth, the pride, and the self-will that have for so long infected my soul and I am replacing these traits with hard work, humility, and trust in my Heavenly Father and in my Savior.  As I more fully turn towards them for direction I feel their hands guiding my work and my progress. 

My heart was hard for a long time.  I didn't think of it like that, but as I look through my clean and new eyes I finally see that is how I was.  I have softened my heart and am now continuing to let my heart swell and the years of layers of love and peace that have been layered around my heart by caring parents, family, friends, teachers, and church leaders is rushing in, causing my heart to grow.  I love them.  I always used to say the words, and from time to time I felt them, but now I feel so much more deeply than I ever did before that I do love them.  As I say often to my friends who are far away, "I am so excited to see you again because when I do we will each be so much more than we are now.  We will have a depth of character and love that we never before possessed and I am honored by the opportunity I will have to get to know you again."  I hope that as people meet me now they are able to sense that depth of character again and that they can may feel my love for them.

I don't know you, but I love you with a sincere and powerful love.  I pray for you often and hope that something I write will resonate with you.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

One Day...

      I don't usually go for those songs about free love and hippy peace, but recently I have been trying to have a more global and spiritual view of my life and myself.  When the Savior returns to the Earth we will finally achieve this level of love one for another.  I hope I get the chance to live to see this day, but if I don't then I will have the great blessing of watching through the windows of Heaven.  I used to say that peace was not a lack of war, but someone having enough power to direct the flow of the wars, but now, for the first time in my life, I think that I believe in peace.  Love those around you and make your sphere of influence that much closer to what we all one day hope for.  And smile.
"One Day" by Matisyahu
Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I'm breathing
Then I pray
Don't take me soon
'Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around because...

All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day [x6]

It's not about
Win or lose
Because we all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood-drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging

In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy but don't let it faze you no way (no way)

Sometimes in my tears I drown (I drown)
But I never let it get me down (get me down)
So when negativity surrounds (surrounds)
I know some day it'll all turn around because...

All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day [x6]

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate

One day we'll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like
One day [x2]

All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day [x6]

Monday, February 25, 2013

On A Pedestal

I take a class on Thursday night’s and someone said something that stuck out to me.  They said it like it wasn’t a quote, but I feel like it is something I’ve heard before so I’m going with the assumption that perhaps they just had a very similar sentiment to whatever other famous line I am thinking of.  Anyway, the thing they said was, “Stop putting others on a pedestal; instead put yourself on a pedestal and then become the best self you can be.”  For some reason that phrase really resonated with me.  I have been thinking about it ever since and I feel like it is so important and definitely something I can work on.  The context was about missionary work.  How in the mission we tend to look towards our District Leaders, or the Zone Leaders, or the Assistants, or even sometimes our companions and we think “Wow, they have got it all figured out.  Life is so easy and good for them.  I wish I could be just like them someday.”  But that is not the case.  It really never is the case.  Not on the mission and definitely not in life.  No one has it all figured out and no one has an easy time in this life.  Sometimes someone may go through an easier time than others, but that will never remain for too long because when we are comfortable we can’t (or won’t) grow and then we aren’t becoming more like God.

I mean, if you think about, everyone has their favorite sin, that thing that they secretly like to commit or omit that prevents them from growing the way the Lord intends.  And that scares people – that our heroes may not be as magnificent as we’d like to think, but in my opinion I think it takes a greater hero to be aware of their shortcomings and consciously work towards eliminating them.  I often think about Nephi who shortly after his father died gives us those really beautiful verses in 2 Nephi 4:17-35 wherein he says that his soul groaned because of the temptations and sins that so easily beset him.  That makes me think of Moses who lost his temper and therein lost the right to enter the Promised Land.  If the prophet on the earth still has flaws and shortcomings who am I to even pretend that I don’t?  Granted, you don’t run around telling everyone the details of your shortcomings, but to pretend that they don’t exist sounds like a huge act of pride to me.

I don’t know if that makes sense or even interests you, but that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. 
- Drew