Our Potential

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Earlier this week, I went with a group of friends to the cheap theater here in Rexburg to see The Lego Movie. One of my friends told me how the movie focused on each individual’s potential to change the world, no matter how normal they are. The movie focuses on an ordinary Lego construction worker by the name of Emmet, and how, despite multiple setbacks, he saves the world because of specific skills he possesses.

  

The Lego Movie got me thinking about how some of the greatest heroes we know today started out as simply ordinary, and after much opposition became extraordinary. You may feel ordinary and just another face in a crowd. But remember that out of the ordinary came heroes like Jackie Robinson, Albert Einstein, Malala Yousafzai, and J.K. Rowling. Each of them had to face opposition before becoming legends. All of them have had to endure taunts, abuse, and some even death threats. Yet despite the opposition, they overcame and changed the world because of the skills they developed.

 

You have the power to change the world like heroes do today. Develop worthwhile skills and character traits. Don’t let your past or insensitive people in your life crush your potential. Show them who’s boss! I have found in life that the most opposition comes before doing something great. We may never understand why people treat us the way they do. But remember this. You are special. You can change the world just like Emmet, the Lego construction worker did. All you have to do is believe in yourself and show the world you cannot be knocked down. 

The Mark of Sacrifice

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On April 16th, 2014, the South Korean ferry MV Sewol departed out of Incheon headed for the resort island of Jeju. A majority of the passengers were excited Danwon High School students looking forward to an island field trip. For reasons still unknown, the Sewol suddenly capsized. Many of the passengers were entombed inside the ship as they were told by crewmembers not to attempt to escape but await further instructions. For most, those instructions came too late.

 

Jung Cha Woong, a sixteen year old student on board the capsizing ferry, gave his life jacket to a petrified classmate. Jung insisted he would be just fine and felt he was a capable swimmer. He was last seen helping other passengers escape. Woong’s classmate survived. Woong did not. He would have turned 17 the day after the sinking.

 

I personally feel that true love doesn’t have to apply only to dating and marriage but also to those in our circle of acquaintances. Woong could have easily hung onto his life jacket but instead was looking out for the another.

 

Are we willing to sacrifice for others, even complete strangers? Are we willing to put other’s interests first even when it hurts us on the inside or outside?

 

Earlier this week, I was talking with a good friend of mine from church. He said, “The mark of a true knight is when you are willing to put that individual’s interests above your own and respect them, even if their choices tear you apart.”

 

I personally feel that a test in life that God wants each of us to pass through, is the test of sacrificing for those we care for and for those we’ve never met. It is truly selfless to ignore our own needs and to put others first, even if our lives are directly impacted. This South Korean student was a perfect example of that. He was directly putting his life in jeopardy for his classmate. Be ready to sacrifice for those you care for even if it’s not being recorded on a cell phone or you have a large audience. Oftentimes, the greatest acts of love are not seen but are done privately and are frequently unrecognized. The greatest acts of love, I feel, are the ones done without complaint and with a smile, even if inside the individual is scared beyond belief of the future. Start today to be such a silent hero.

How To Nail An Exam

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Test anxiety is a plague that is infesting itself in many college students as the semester draws to a close. You may be one of them. Test anxiety can make students perform poorly on their exams, lose sleep, affect their health, and other negative factors. Here are some effective ways you can reduce test anxiety according to eHow:

 

  1. Prepare and study long before your exam opens.
  2. Balance studying time over several days before your exam.
  3. Have a good night’s sleep and wake up on time.
  4. Think positively when walking into the testing center.
  5. Take short naps in between exams to prevent burnout.
  6. Take deep breaths when anxiety mounts.
  7. Avoid talking to people while studying as this can throw one off track.
  8. Be confident.

 

Eating healthy food also helps with your test anxiety. Foods to avoid are coffee, fried foods, and alcoholic beverages. Foods that that help with anxiety according to the CalmClinic include:

 

  • Whole Grain Foods

  • Seaweed

  • Blueberries

  • Acai Berries

  • Almonds

  • Chocolate

 

These steps aren’t a guarantee for eliminating all anxiety but following them can drastically lower the anxiety in any individual. This is a time that can be highly stressful for thousands of college students all over the country. By following the right steps, the test anxiety plague can be reduced in our society.

 

 

The New Epidemic and How To Avoid It

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There is a new epidemic that is now affecting more people than the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention label it the “public health epidemic”. That epidemic is none other than sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is something every individual experiences, sometimes on a daily basis. Sleep deprivation can lead to inability to concentrate, retain information, and poor driving. How can one avoid sleep deprivation?

According to www.sleepcottage.com ways to fall asleep faster include:

  • Read a peaceful book before turning in
  • Cut down on sweets
  • Don’t exercise before turning in
  • Take a nice bath before going to bed
  • Don’t veg at the PC in the evenings
  • Have a light dinner
  • Avoid afternoon naps
  • Think of a loved one while falling asleep
  • Practice deep breathing in bed.
  • Spray lavender in your room
  • Avoid high caffeinated beverages
  • Pray for things that you are grateful for and don’t focus on stressful situations in your life
  • Stretch while in bed
  • Don’t watch scary or violent movies before going to bed
  • Count backwards

This list isn’t a solve-it-all for everyone but can be beneficial to those who are in high demand roles in their day-to-day lives. By improving our habits before and during bedtime, the epidemic of sleep deprivation, which has gripped this society for so long, will slowly begin to dissipate.

What are some ways you have found that help you fall asleep?

To Save A Life

In Daraa, Syria, a young boy lugging a small brown backpack was caught on video running down a street. Snipers from the Syrian Arab Army had just begun firing into a crowd of Syrian rebels. One sniper took careful aim at the boy. They missed. A Syrian man ran down the street towards the terrified boy seconds after the missed shot. The man scooped up the boy and ran with him to safety. What makes this story most remarkable is that this man wasn’t the boy’s father or brother. In fact, he had never met the boy.

 

What does this almost unknown incident in the Syrian Civil War have to do with you? We live in a society where charitable acts can be rare. Such acts have the power to change or even save lives.

 

It can be easy in life to get caught up with our busy lives. We have so much to do and so little time! It’s in times like that where we can miss those who are struggling and could use that extra pick me up.

  

Never forget the power you have to change the world. Your actions may not be caught on video but they can save lives, no matter how small. Think of who and how you can save today.

 

Who are some people in your life that have come to your rescue?

 

To see the video mentioned above, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b0e5WFbeaw

To Conform Or Not To Conform?

Imagine that you were asked to participate in an experiment designed to study memory. You volunteer and are taken to a room where an experimenter awaits. In a different room is another participant strapped to an electric shocker. You are instructed to quiz this participant and if the participant answers the question wrong you deliver a small shock to them. As the experiment goes on, the experimenter tells you to increase the voltage and the participant begins banging on the wall complaining of a heart condition. Do you continue for the sake of science, or do you defy the experimenter?

This is what participants of the Milgram experiment had to face in 1961. The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the popular question at that particular time: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders?” The purpose of the study was to find the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Remarkably, 65 percent of the participants agreed to inflict fatal “shocks”. Thankfully, no shocks were actually administered.

Stanley Milgram, Yale psychologist and author of the experiment suggested, “The social psychology of this century reveals a major lesson: often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.”

Do you agree with Dr. Milgram?

It can be easy to conform or give into pressure in a situation you may not approve of. We can be ready to stand up for our values like the current protesters in the Ukraine or go with the flow like those asked to hurt loved ones in North Korea. You may not have to participate in such events but you will have to be ready to leave a socially pressured situation. Be ready to stand up for beliefs you treasure and not be the one that moves with the flow.

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Used with permission from KPVI News 6.

For more information on the Milgram experiment please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/milgram.htm

Doing Your Fair Share

On Nov. 11, 1928, the overcrowded, leaky steamship Vestris ran into a severe storm on its way to Argentina. It began to list due to the strong waves and the shifting cargo. Stokers down below struggled to keep the ship afloat and the chief engineer, James Adams, believed that with their combined effort they could keep the Vestris afloat till help arrived. Yet crewmembers down below began to lose heart and deserted in groups. These groups laid around on deck and did nothing to help the situation. When threatened by the captain of the ship to go below, they only pretended to go and then came out another way. Because of these crewmembers, the ship sank faster and took with her 111 souls.

Can you relate to what it’s like to be in a group where individuals aren’t pulling their fair share? Unfortunately, you probably know what it’s like to deal with those type of people and to try salvaging a project before it sinks. Evaluate yourself and the groups you are in. Are you putting in your fair share or contributing the least amount of work possible? Think of those you work with and how much you actually contribute to a project. Don’t be that team member that procrastinates a project and hurts others because you were lazy. Life does get in the way at times, but strive to contribute during all of those times so there are less “Vestris’s” in the world.

Women Are Not Objects

In the 2009 German film John Rabe, a group of Chinese actresses were asked to appear naked for one of the scenes. A majority of them refused because of their family values. Some of you may disagree when I say this, but these actresses are my heroes. Let me tell you why.

 

Today, women are portrayed as objects of sexual fulfillment and not as human beings. It’s commonplace to see women wearing revealing clothing and sadly, some even letting men treat them as objects. You’ve probably seen this firsthand in your day-to-day relationships, walking down the street, or in the movies.

 

My post today is dedicated to women out there who feel they must engage in such practices to “be loved.” Let me tell you something—if you want to attract the right kind of guy, cover yourself up! Don’t let any guy touch you inappropriately or belittle you in any way. If your boyfriend really does love you, he will wait to express those emotions in marriage and he will love you for who you are. If he doesn’t respect you as the royal queen that you are, dump him. You deserve better.

 

I am appreciative to all you women out there who strive to live these standards. Keep it up! A women who practices these behaviors, I feel, is the most beautiful and stands out. If you haven’t found your Prince Charming, don’t give up. He will come along soon and treat you like the royalty you are.

Christmas Miracle 3: The Anonymous Check

This miracle happened just a week after my second Christmas miracle. In mid-December of 2010, we were working with an older white couple named the Rasmussen’s* (name has been changed) in Albany that were facing financial hardships. We learned they were being evicted out of their home shortly before Christmas and were hoping to find someplace to stay in Jacksonville, Florida.
 
The Rasmussen’s were doing their best to stay positive, which was hard because on top of their eviction, Brother Rasmussen had medical issues. Brother Rasmussen had a limp wherever he walked and couldn’t stand for long. As Christmas approached, word got around in the church congregation we were working in of the Rasmussen’s dilemma. One Sunday after church, an older couple approached me. Both of them had big smiles. I wish I could remember the dear couple’s name. 
 
The husband smiled at me and told me, “We heard of the couple you’ve been working with and we’ve been thinking of them a lot recently.”
 
Reaching into his suit pocket, the husband took an envelope out. He handed it to me.
 
“We want to make a donation to help your friends out but we’d prefer for it to remain anonymous. Will you both promise not to tell them who the check came from?” 
 
Alex Maughan, my missionary companion, and I, both agreed. When we got home to our apartment in Leesburg we checked the envelope and both gasped. The check was no small donation. It was nearly one thousand dollars. We were both blown away by how this couple could give such a check to the Rasmussens who they’d never met. Albany had been hit hard by the recession and a majority of people were just trying to get by. 
 
We thought of how we should give the Rasmussens the check. We both felt presenting the check to them would be awkward and there would be a good chance they’d refuse it. I thought of past Christmases I had had with my family where we’d doorbell ditch gift baskets at homes of acquaintances we knew who were struggling. I came up with the idea to leave the check on the doorstep after quickly doorbell ditching the Rasmussen’s. We decided nighttime would be best to achieve total surprise. 
 
It was quite the operation. We parked the car two blocks away at night when it was pitch black. The neighborhood the Rasmussens lived in Albany was a forested area. After scouting the area, we found a group of trees we could hide behind across the street so if they came out searching for us we could run through the forest back to our car on the next block. 
 
We both quietly approached their front porch and set the envelope off to the right on a cabinet they’d left outside in preparation for their move. Their porch was already strewn with furniture. The only light on in the house was the front study where we knew Brother Rasmussen often spent time reading or working on the computer. We rang the doorbell and took off running. We got behind two trees when Brother Rasmussen opened the door and yelled, “WHAT? WHO IS THIS?” He then closed the door. 
 
We came back to the porch and this time set the check on the front step in front of the door. We rang the doorbell and returned to our hiding spots. Again, Brother Rasmussen opened the door, yelled, and closed the door. I remember saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me. We can’t just leave that check on the front porch like that.”
 
It wasn’t what we preferred but we decided to call Brother Rasmussen and guide him to the check on the first step of his door. I don’t remember too much of the initial phone call but I do remember the moment when Brother Rasmussen found the check.
 
“Oh my word!” exclaimed Brother Rasmussen, “How did you? How?” He wasn’t able to speak and before long was sobbing into the phone.
 
I told Alex, who was standing next to me, “He found the check.” 
 
When Brother Rasmussen regained control of himself he asked, “Who is this check from?”
 
I replied, “They were members from our congregation who heard about what happened and they’d prefer to remain anonymous.” 
 
“God bless you all!” said Brother Rasmussen.
 
As Alex and I walked back to the car we couldn’t stop smiling. Alex put his arm around me and said, “We definitely helped make a difference tonight.” 
 
That was the last we heard of the Rasmussens. I can’t help but wonder how the Rasmussens are today. I know, without a doubt, their lives were blessed from the anonymous check. The Rasmussens had Alex and I deliver a thank you note to this older couple in our congregation shortly before their eviction. 
 
Christmas is truly a special day full of miracles, especially that of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. There have been many Christmastime miracles I have seen in my own life that I hope to share again one day in the future. I feel the true spirit of Christmas is the one of celebrating the life of our Savior Jesus Christ and how his life was all about giving. The best Christmases I’ve seen in my life are those spent helping change someone’s life or having my own life changed in a small way. Don’t forget what Christmas is about. It is to celebrate the greatest gift of all which God gave to us–His Son. Happy holidays everyone! 

Christmas Miracle 2: The Bridge

My second Christmastime miracle took place on a concrete bridge on the outskirts of Albany, Georgia in 2010 when I was a volunteer missionary. I was paired up to work with a fellow missionary from Salt Lake City named Alex Maughan. Before we departed, I clearly remember Alex stopping and suggesting that we pray for our safety. This was a valid concern to have as Albany was a particularly rough area. We didn’t know this prayer would come in handy less then twenty minutes after we biked away from our apartment in Leesburg.
 
As we biked into town, we saw a white man walking across a concrete bridge in front of us so we stopped to talk to him to see if he was interested in learning about our church. We’d been talking with him for ten seconds when we heard some commotion down the bridge. We all turned around and the sight we saw sickened us.
 
A white van had just screeched passed us with white smoke shooting off of its tires. It was painfully lurching forward, trying in vain to stop before colliding with a green van. What we didn’t realize at the time was that this green van had just collided with another car. “It’s gonna hit,” said the man next to me.
 
I watched the white van attempt to turn to the left but it was too late and  hit the green van with full force, shattering the back window and imploding the back. The front of the white van shot into the air. Parts of it rained down and gasoline started leaking onto the street. 
 
Then I heard screeching behind me. Turning around, I saw a gasoline truck barreling straight towards us. I didn’t even bother moving or jumping off the bridge as the gasoline truck was too close. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel all that scared. The truck came to a screeching stop about three yards from the back of my bike tire. 
 
I suggested to Alex and the man, “Let’s check on the white van to make sure they’re okay.” The three of us ran over and I was relieved to see the two occupants in the white van were physically unscathed. The driver was a young panicked man with wavy brown hair who had just jumped out of the car talking to someone on the phone. The passenger was a young woman with long blonde hair and she was worse off. She was going in an anxiety attack and could not open her door. Thankfully, another driver involved in the accident got the door open, but the young woman was so traumatized she could not even get out. She just sat there and sobbed.
 
What I saw next touched me. I watched the gasoline truck driver leap out. He wore overalls, a red shirt, and what looked like a train conductor’s hat. To me, he seemed a hardened driver and not a caring person. He brushed past me and walked to this poor young woman in the white van. I watched him literally pick her up on her feet, put his arm around her, and whisper something comforting. He placed her at the edge of the bridge and told her, “Just bury your face in your arms and don’t look around. That will help calm you.” The young woman obeyed and did just that.
 
I looked around and soon saw this was no small accident; nine cars had been involved. 
 
I watched several more people come to comfort this young woman. One was a Papa Johns Pizza driver who stopped her car in the middle of the road and ran to talk to this young woman. Another was a female driver involved in the collision; perhaps she was a mother. She put her arm around the young woman, rocked her side to side, and even shed tears with her.
 
After a few minutes, I walked over to this young woman and asked her, “Ma’am, are you okay?” 
 
She looked up at me, smiled weakly, and said, “Yes, I am doing better.” Alex and I walked away, both shaken but grateful. As I looked back, I was grateful there were people to take care of that poor young woman. 
 
That Christmas I was taught two valuable lessons:
 
  1. Life can be taken and given back to you in any given moment
  2. It is possible for people to forget about their own troubles and focus on one who is struggling.
 
I still have faith in humanity because of the charity I witnessed on that bridge in Georgia in 2010. I am grateful for my life even if thorns cover it at times because it could have been taken away. Easily I could have been crushed by that gasoline truck or been engulfed in an explosion. Why I was spared that day I don’t quite know. What I do know is that day taught me to love life even more and to realize just how active God is in our lives. 
 
Have you ever had a scary event take place during Christmastime that helped redefine your life? 
 
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The bridge in Albany today where the story took place. I was standing halfway near the concrete barrier on the right when the crash took place.