Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sister Missionaries: The Respect They Deserve

Now That I've sent my little brother on a mission, I'm thinking of all sorts of things that I wish I told him before he left. Some of them, I'm positive He knows or will figure out quickly. Others will probably take a while. This is one of those things that I'm sure he knows, but that I saw a lot of Elders in my own mission never figure out:
Sister Missionaries are the best. That's right, I said it. They rock. During my first few months as a missionary, I unfortunately heard from several Elders that sister missionaries were basically all out there to vacation. They were lazy, and they all thought that they were more worthy of the priesthood than the Elders. First of all, FALSE. Second of all, numbers do not lie. On my BEST weeks and transfers, I could usually count on the sister missionaries in my district or zone doubling my numbers. All of them. Yes, that includes baptisms. Sister missionaries are machines. They know what they teach, they believe it, and they're dang good at teaching it. These courageous and talented young women are out for the right reasons.
Now lets turn the tables for a moment. I didn't meet a single sister missionary on my mission who was a slacker, or who didn't give it her all. But Elders! I don't know how many of them I met that were vacationing, or who were lazy, and some who had no idea why they were out. The sad part was, these were the missionaries who were complaining about sister missionaries.
Now, I am not saying that ALL sister missionaries are flippin awesome. I'm sure there are exceptions. I just never met one. And only a few elders were out for the wrong reasons, or because they had to be, or because they were "'posed to." It will happen, since there are just more Elders than Sisters. And LDS men have more pressure on them to serve a mission- but this isn't an excuse to slack off.
To all you prospective Sister Missionaries, and to all those currently serving or who have since returned, you are, and ought to be held in the highest regard. For those of you who choose to serve because you want to, and because your testimony is burning bright, I commend you, and hold you in the highest regards. I know that you got or will get push-back for wanting to go, or while you're out, or even after you get back. You don't deserve to be looked down upon. You deserve to be honored.
To all you wonderful women who have NOT served missions, you also should be held in the highest regard. If you choose to start a family, or pursue your education and a career, you will likely receive push-back no matter which path you choose. You are no less strong or grounded than those who have the opportunity to serve a mission, and equally deserving of respect.
So to all you prospective Elders, and to all you who are serving or have served, remember this: Sister Missionaries can do it as well as you can. They work hard, they receive inspiration, and they see miracles, and ARE miracles every day. There are people out there that only THEY can reach. And those people are just as common as the people that only YOU can reach. So give Sister Missionaries some respect. They deserve it.

This post can also be found at my blog about LDS feminism.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Brother on a Mission: The older brother's wrestle to accept it

It wasn't so long ago that I left on my mission. I was eager to go. I thought leaving my family for two years would be harder, but the tears were short-lived, and easily outnumbered by the tears I shed when I had to come back home. I had a hard time understanding why people would say "I can't wait for you to come back home!" It was almost insulting. I loved being a missionary. Loved it. Why would anyone want to take that away from me?
I get it now. My little brother Collin just left on his mission a couple weeks ago. Collin and I are the closest of friends. I love that kid. He's an inspiration to me, and is already far ahead of where I was at the same point on my mission. He'd never allow that comment to stand, insisting that he feels like he hasn't moved anywhere accept to Mexico, but that's precisely why he's so far ahead. The kid is humble.
Anyway, I was saying that I understand where people were coming from when they wanted me to come home. I hope the next two years go by quickly. I don't hope for him to come home early, but I hope the next two years go by quickly for me, and slow enough for him. Its hard to wish that. It would be so easy to wish He could just come home tomorrow. And what if I want to talk to him right now? This minute? Tough. he sent his email today, and there won't be another one until next week. and maybe he'll respond to you next week, because he didn't have time to today. Maybe. Is this what he was going through while I was on MY mission?! Respect just went up. It is HARD. Now that he's out, I want to talk to him all the time. Its funny how when you lose something, you realize just how much you relied on it.
Collin is my only brother. I love all my siblings, but there is a special bond between brothers. I assume there's a similar bond between sisters, but having never been one, I can't speak to that. Anyway. The bond of brothers runs deep. Both of us have injured the other. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It happened. But we grew from it. That time when he punched me in the face? I deserved it. We laugh about it now. That one time when I accidentally threw him right into the bed frame and his head took the brunt of it? Oops... No (real) damage done, and yes, we laugh about it now. And we did all those other weird/gross things that only boys can think are funny, and they really were hilarious. At the time. Probably. But we also were able to speak about deep things, spiritual things, embarrassing things, emotional things. Believe it or not, we got emotional around each other, and it was ok. I know things about him that no one else knows, and vice versa. And we both know it will stay that way (no need to worry Mom and Dad- they're basically all just embarrassing things :P).
I watched him move from being unsure of his testimony and who he was and what he was supposed to do, to knowing, with fervent zeal that he is a son of God, that he was called to serve him, and that we would do just that- with all his heart, might, mind, and strength. He prepared like I've never seen any one prepare, and that kid entered the Mexico MTC an Elder, prepared from the beginning and endowed with power from on high to preach the word of God and be the instrument through which God will restore many of His children to the knowledge of their savior and their divine potential. What an amazing gift!
I have always loved and bragged all over my brother, but I have never been more proud of him. He is a man. He has "put away childish things" if you will. He has put everything on hold for two years, and yes, that includes me. That includes our Mom. That includes his music, his school, his friends. All on hold. And is it worth it? Of course. Of course it is.
God Speed brother. May God lift you when you fall, and strengthen you when you are weak, speak through your mouth to his children, and work with your hands to serve them. I know He will.
And to all you who are still reading and watched this take a turn for the personal and sentimental, deal with it. I love my brother.
To all the other brothers out there who are missing their brothers on missions, whether they be brothers by blood or brothers by bond, don't take this time for granted. Don't wish your brothers home soon. Encourage them to keep going, and to lose themselves in the work. That's what they need. They need to hear it from you. They expect to hear it from their Moms and Dads. But they need to hear it from you. Write to them regularly so that they know that they still matter to you, and that you are praying for them. Let them know that you want them to succeed. Do not tell them how many days/weeks/months they have left. Most of all, tell them you love them, and that you look up to them, and that you are glad that they are there, and not at home. They need to know that YOU know that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. The support of a brother is powerful. Few things are more powerful. Be free with your support, and give it all, and they will teach and preach with power. This I know. Because it is what happened to me. Now I hope to  be the same for him, as he was for me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Oldies but Goodies: Why the "A.T. 40" Sucks

This last week, I yet again got fed up with "America's Top 40". I don't know why, but I can only take it in small doses. If it get it in large doses my brain starts to shrivel up, and I start to get less smart, so I try not to OD.

I have a tedious desk job that requires me to stare at the computer screen the whole time. Naturally, I and my co-workers turn to online radio stations or other music streaming players to keep ourselves from going insane. I listen to the "Top 40" stuff on occasion, but it always ends up numbing my brain, and I have to find something a little more... stimulating. I almost always turn to "old" music, which usually means classic rock of the 70's and 80's. Mostly the 80's. Those usually get me back into my groove, and I don't feel like I'm going to turn into a vegetable.

Anyway, this last week, I saw a commercial on TV with the background music being "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter." I remembered hearing it when I was younger and was somewhat pleased that it was on a modern commercial. I have no idea what the commercial for. So the other day, I was in my familiar trance from the repetitive beats and 4-note songs of the "A.T. 40" I needed something else to listen to, and didn't feel like listening Led Zeppelin, or Black Sabbath, or Styx, or Bon Jovi. And then this song popped into my head. "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter." I had heard it a lot when I was just a young one, because my siblings and I weren't allowed to listen to the "A.T. 40," and now I know why. Its not necessarily that it's bad music (though often it is), its that it requires very little talent, and numbs your brain. Anyway, I turned on Spotify, and searched for it, and found a playlist of 60's music. I listened to my original search, and then kept listening to the playlist. At first, I didn't really think anything of it, because I didn't know the songs that came after it, but then this song played:

It may not sound like it's a smash hit, but of all the songs from my childhood that I heard, this song is the one that sticks in my memory most. We would sing it in the car and at home, and would hum it. Even more recently, I have caught myself humming it. I loved, and still love this song. I still don't know if the guy is talking about a person, or the actual wind, and that's part of why I like it so much. It makes you think. Good music, that is, REALLY good music will stimulate your mind, and get you thinking. For me, it got me thinking about my earlier years, the road trips where my siblings and I would sing in the car and very likely drive our parents crazy, and just dancing like crazy people to any upbeat song that came on the radio, or that our parents would play on our top-of-the-line tape deck/turntable. I miss those days. I miss when music was decent, even what was then the Top 40, and that didn't really need to be filtered, or turned off around small children. I miss when my dad would turn on the radio in his truck with just me in there with him, and he would tell me that "this" is rock 'n roll. And he wasn't ashamed to like it, and didn't need to worry that it would corrupt my impressionable mind. Why can't we have music like that anymore? There is music that I like today, that I would not get caught dead sharing with my 4-year-old son. I would be ashamed that I even like it. We need more music like this:

This blog doesn't get out to many people, but if it somehow gets to any artists out there, or people who want to write to music, I challenge you to write music that is catchy, clean, and cranial. Make us think, stimulate our minds, not just our bodies. Its great to have stuff to work out to, but there's a serious lack of stuff that will get my foot tapping, and keep my mind active too. I know I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Our generation is not happy with the music that we have produced. We crave better music, with better lyrics, and more talent involved. Show me an artist who can do this, and I'll show you an artist who will enjoy success to the fullest.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Don't Go to Bed Angry

My wife and I went to bed at 1 am the other night. There is nothing particularly odd about this, but we hadn't said anything to each other since about midnight. The reasons were your everyday marital stresses- we were a bit grumpy, we said rude things, and we both chose to take offense. I say "chose" because had the same words been spoken earlier or when even only one of us was in a better mood, we would have easily avoided giving each other the silent treatment.

Anyway, that night, we went to bed an turned out the light without saying goodnight, I love you, or kissing goodnight. We didn't even face each other. I even laid on the side that I cannot fall asleep on, and which happened that day to be the side that irritated the painfully pinched nerve in my neck. I did that because I was mad, and for once I was going to make my wife apologize first. A story my mom told me right before I got married came to mind right about the time my neck really started hurting. She and my dad had been married for a short time when they had an argument. It followed about the same pattern as my own just had. That night, my dad went right to sleep, but my mom could not get there even though she was exhausted. She tossed and turned for hours until she finally woke my dad up and apologized to him. She then slipped off quite easily. Well, I didn't much of this, and convinced myself that this wouldn't happen to me. However, anyone that knows my mom and I, can attest that most of my personality genes came from her. After tossing an turning until about 2:30, I quietly asked my wife if she was awake. No answer. I asked again, a little more intently this time. No answer. My pride still forbade me from waking her, so I concentrated on going to sleep. The problem with concentrating on anything when trying to go to sleep, is that you cannot go to sleep. After a time, though, I managed to slip off into a fitful sleep where my dreams left me panting and waking up in a sweat. Needless to say I got no actual rest. It was at this point, at about 4:30 that my pride had finally been kicked hard enough that it would let me do what I so desperately needed to do. I woke up my wife, apologized and asked for her forgiveness. She promptly and frankly forgave me, and immediately returned the apology, which I immediately accepted and forgave. I fell asleep almost instantly into a beautiful dreamless sleep. I learned once that the human sleep cycle ought to occur twice in an 8 hour period for a person to feel totally rested. I got through maybe one. So I was still exhausted the next day. A hard price to pay when my job involves staring at a computer screen and fixing little details. However, I learned much from this exercise. Aside from the well known, "don't go to bed mad" lesson, I learned why, and honestly, it has little to so with sleep. It has everything to do with your pride, and where it belongs in your marriage. That is, it doesn't belong there at all. Also, being happy or at least content does wonders for your mental and physical health, and so allowing little things to fester and become huge things is actually bad for your health.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Conservative Rant

Ok, I know that there are a lot of people out there right now that either dont care or dont know what is going on with the fiscal cliff, and gun control and whatnot. I'm not an expert, i'm just going off of my own research and what I'm seeing in the news (as well as what I'm NOT seeing in the news). First of all, how the HECK is raising taxes AND spending going to help the economy? how is raising spending going to help, mostly? I mean, it's one thing to give people a raise when they deserve it, and when the economy can support it, but really, Mr. President, you're giving raises to people who have driven this economy into the ground, and expect it to get better? Really? I dont actually know enough about the Fiscal Cliff to tell you whats going on there, but if the plan you're making is going to eventually throw us off of it, Imma not be happy!
Ok and gun control. What is wrong with the media?! There's this thing called accurate reporting, and you're not doing it! Yeah there's a heap of stories of people shooting other people and it's terrible, but you dont cover ANY events where people carrying guns actually stop BAD people carrying guns from doing any damage! That happens just as often. But no, the Media has an agenda, and so all you hear about are the tragedies cause by "guns." And can we PLEASE get something straight? People Kill People. Guns, knives, clubs, brass knuckles, and the like are simply weapons of choice. They cannon inherently kill anything. They require a PERSON to pull the trigger, thrust them at someone, and so on. And are you people who say we need more gun control blind to whats going on? Only the honest people who would NEVER kill anyone will follow the laws. I mean look at Chicago- completely "disarmed" and yet they have more homicides with a firearm than ever. If you think that making laws will prevent shootings from happening, think again. Plus, look at Switzerland. They issue EVERY 18-year-old a gun, and train them how to use them. Gun-related crimes? Almost none. LOGIC, people.
Ok, thats the rant. Comment if you like, just know that I'm not really trying to start an argument or even a discussion.