Hugs & Cookies

I’ve had a couple of experiences this week where friends were struggling with problems I didn’t know how to help with, or even how to begin to comfort them. While making cookies for one of my friends, I realized that even if I can’t do anything to really solve their problems, I can do a little bit, through cookies and hugs and many other ways, to bring a little bit more joy to this world. Even though I can’t do everything, I can do something small that matters.

Note: if you are seriously struggling with the things mentioned in this poem, please seek help.

Hugs & Cookies

When Addiction shreads your life apart,
And nothing matters more then your next fix,
Let me hug you untill you know you matter,
And let fresh cookies remind you how reality tastes.

I have no cure for Depression,
No way to stop the bleak, oppressive thoughts,
But I’ll bring you cookies so you know life’s not all bitter,
And hug you so you know there’s someone there.

When Anxiety’s crippling thoughts have you trapped
In a downward spiral I can’t break you from,
I’ll hug you until you remember someone else exists,
And bring you cookies, so you know somebody cares.

Loneliness will tear you down to worthlessness, to dust
And I don’t know how to build you back up.
But I can bring you hugs to show you that you are not alone,
And cookies to remember me by when I am gone.

I am no Atlas who could lift
The Stress from off your shoulders.
But cookies can distract you for a bit, help you relax,
And hugs make the load lighter, I have found.

I’ve never been Assaulted, Abused, or Cast Aside
I don’t know how to heal such deep scars.
But if you want, I’ll hug you so you know real love exists,
And bring you cookies so you know that others care.

When good friends Take Their Lives, and forever leave us,
I cannot bring them back, though I may wish I could.
I’ll bring you cookies, so you know you’re not in this alone,
And hug you so you know your pain is felt and heard.

I can’t do very much against the struggles of this life,
I’m just one man, and the world is just so big.
But my love is real, please see that in my cookies and my hugs.
I’ll do my small part to bring you joy.

Always Remember Him

I really enjoyed general conference, and I will likely have some poems in future weeks about some of the messages. For this week, here is a poem I wrote on my mission:

Sep 03, 2018

My poem for this week was written in answer to a question my brother James had: How can we literally fulfill the commandment to “always remember Christ?” When I first heard this question, my mind went to a quote I had heard by President Eyring: “I have learned… something about always remembering. Fathers and mothers who love their children already know it. It is this: The child may be absent. The cares of the day may be great. Yet love for the child can be ever present in the heart of the parent, coloring and shaping every word, every act, and every choice.” I once thought, on my mission, that the Gospel should impact every part of our lives. I thought about it, and my mind thought “There is no way that the Gospel can influence the way I clip my fingernails.” With a little bit of thought, and D&C 42:41, I realized that we are commanded to be clean, and therefore it does matter. Maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch, and it’s certainly an odd metaphor, but the gospel affects everything from how we work (be diligent and be honest, etc.), to everything we let it affect. That kind of relates to my poem. (It made more sense in my head):

Always Remember Him

We’re commanded, and we promise
Each week we eat the bread,
To “always remember Him”
Who made salvation possible.

But how can we remember,
Every second, minute, moment,
And still live a life-
Still think, still survive.

I don’t know the perfect answer,
But perhaps my thoughts might help
In understanding how we can
Keep our covenants.

First, I don’t think Christ means
That every moment, in our conscious thought,
We must think His name-
That just wouldn’t work.

But I think part of what He means
Is that every act and every word
Must be because of who we are-
Followers of Him.

When I help an old woman
Onto a bus, I don’t think (actively, at least):
“I must remember Christ”, but
I remember Him in what I do.

I don’t believe our life has any piece
That the gospel, if lived, cannot touch.
And so, as we consistently do what He would do,
We will find that we always remember Him.

Friends who ask of me my very best

Friends who ask of me my very best

Friends who ask of me my very best
are the friends I keep the closest to my heart.
They never let me get away with being less than I could be,
they see my potential, and the greatness that I could achieve.

Friends who ask of me my very best
also know how often I’ll fall short.
But they’re the friends I turn to when I stumble and I fall,
they’ll pick me up, they’ll dust me off, they’ll help me stand up tall.

Friends who ask of me my very best
will cheer with me whenever I succeed.
Jealousy is not the way they act, or how they think of me,
but their joy is for my happiness, and it comes selflessly.

Friends who ask of me my very best
point me to Christ, the best who ever lived.
He gave His best on every step from Bethlehem to Calvary;
in return, it’s not to much for him to ask my best from me.

My Greatest Friend, who asks of me my all,
yet opens heaven’s windows for each mite I give,
invites me to accept His sacrifice and honor what He’s done
to make of me my very best, and to bring me back to our heavenly home.

Take my hand

This last week, I had an experience helping a friend who wanted to self-harm. Some of my thoughts about that experience developed into the first stanza in this poem, and the rest of the poem followed. 
I don’t personally struggle with temptations to self-harm. If you’re reading this and you do struggle with those thoughts, please know that you are loved. 

Take my hand 

“I cut my wrists,
So I know I won’t feel comfortable in heaven.”
Christ said, “my wrists were cut for you, 
Take my hand and you will be comfortable with me.”

“I’m different, I’m made fun of, 
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “I was mocked for being different, 
Take my hand, you belong with me.”

“My friends say I’m not good enough, and they left me,
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “in my darkest hour, my friends abandoned me, 
Take my hand, and I’ll always be your friend.” 

“I fail, and fail, and fail, and fail to choose the right, 
So I know I’m not worthy to be in heaven.”
He said, “I know how hard it is to choose to drink the bitter cup,
Take my hand, I can make you worthy.”

“The world has taken from me, and abused me, 
So I know there’s not enough of me left to go to heaven.”
He said, “the world abused and hurt me, too. 
Take my hand, I know you are enough.”

“Others are so much more righteous than I 
So I know I’ll never make it into heaven.”
He said “there’s room for everyone who wants, 
Take my hand, and you’ll make it with me.”

“I doubt myself, I doubt in you sometimes,
So I know I won’t hold on all the way to heaven.”
He said, “I will come back to you as many times as you need. 
Take my hand for this next step.”

“I’m a terrible person, I’ll never be worthy of love
So I know I’m not worth your help.”
He said, “Take my hand, and follow me.
Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without you there.”

Believers at the edge

This is a slightly different style than the poems I usually write, but I wanted to try something new. I was listening to a talk by Hank Smith about believing, and he used the example of Charles Blondin crossing Niagara falls on a tightrope. I love this example and sent home a poem about it from my mission. I liked the point he made, though, and tried to get that across in this poem.

Believers at the edge

10,000 gathered on the American edge,
10,000 gathered on the Canadian edge,
To see the Great Blondin
Cross Niagara on a tightrope.

Cheers rose as he crossed once,
Louder as he crossed back,
Then he grabbed a wheelbarrow,
And shouted to the crowd:

“Do you believe that I can walk
And roll this wheelbarrow along, too?”
They all shouted, “We believe!”
And cheered him on to go.

“That’s good that all of you believe,
But I only need one volunteer.
Who will sit in the wheelbarrow,
As I walk across the falls?”

Silence fell. The crowd grew still.
Nobody raised a hand.
“What?” the Great Blondin cried,
“I thought you said you believed?”

Who’s a believer?
The person who stands
And dares to tell the whole ward
They believe?

That is truly wonderful,
But to be a believer
Does what you choose to do
When not in church matter, too?

“I’m so glad,”
Says God,
“That you believe in me,
Will you get up and leave this movie?”

Or “I’m happy,”
Says He,
“That you have such a testimony.
Will you share it with your friends?”

Daniel was a believer,
Praying when he knew of the lion’s den,
David was a believer,
Facing goliath with only a sling in his hand.

Nephi was a believer,
Going back for the plates when he once again failed,
Joseph was a believer,
Leading Christ’s church though hell and earth assailed

Christ was a believer,
Drinking the bitter cup he wished could pass.
Am I a believer,
Living up to what my Redeemer asks?

I don’t know if, today, I’d answer yes,
That I’d hop in the Great Jesus’ wheelbarrow.
I don’t have perfect faith,
Or perfect trust in my Perfect God,

But I’m an idealist falling far short
Of ideals I yearn, someday, to live.
I’ll let Him carry me across smaller waterfalls,
I’ll build my trust in Him.

I’ll show my faith in little things,
And my faith, like a seed, will grow.
Until I, a believer at the edge,
Will choose unhesitatingly to trust Him.

For the hard times

For the hard times

When the night falls, 
Or the power goes out, 
When the alarm feels heavy 
With the morning’s weight

When the sadness comes 
And won’t go away 
Or the overwhelming world
Drowns all hope

When all the future
Seems empty and black
When the hard times come, 
Remember:

Night isn’t forever 
Day will always come,
Hold on to hope’s spider-silk thread 
And take one step forward 

Mountaintop Covenants

Mountaintop Covenants

Covenants, most often made
on mountains high and grand
are tested in the valleys
full of rocks and mud and sand.

Promises we make so easily
with eternity in view
seem to fade to unimportance
when we only see forward a step or two.

Vows to climb ever onward,
ever upward to the sky
may be forgotten when we face the cliffs
and see their daunting height.

But words are worth too much
to leave behind when times get tough.
They are the lifeline to hold on to
when present sight is not enough.

For who would climb the heights
of cliffs and mountains standing high
if they had not promised to climb them
however many times it took to try?

Who would take another step
into the darkest night
who had not once seen the joys of day
and gave their word to seek the light?

Who would climb the mountains high
and face the valley’s troubles
who had not covenanted to go on
through all life’s rugged struggles?

And who would reach the highest height
and travel through the lowest low?
Those who covenanted to seek the Best,
and follow Him back home.

Excellence in the little things

Written Apr 07, 2018

The title and idea of this poem is one I thought about often on my mission, as I noticed that the missionaries that were the greatest were those who strove to do even the small things as well as they could. This is something I have thought about a lot recently, and it rings true to me. One of my favorite quotes is “Most often it is the sacrifices we make to keep our covenants that sanctify us and make us holy,” by Sister Carol F. McConkie in her conference talk The Beauty of Holiness, and I think that fits perfectly with this poem.

Excellence in the little things

We who seek excellence
In eternity and in forever
Truly seek for excellence
In the little things.

Excellence comes after growing
From grace to grace.
If we never perfect our little virtues,
Perfect excellence will never be our virtue

Each of us, and this whole world
Changes all at once.
The question of excellence, then,
Is a question of how to grow in a storm.

Excellence is acting,
Not reacting.
Excellence is choosing,
Not living others’ choices.

Never shrinking from the fight,
However hard, however small,
Is more important than surviving.
That’s not why we’re here.

We’re here to become excellent,
Little by little, piece by piece,
The small battles, well fought
Truly lead us to our Captain, our Lord.

So fight the good fight,
Never give up,
And always seek for
Excellence in the little things.

Life Lessons Learned on an Ice Skating Rink

I went ice skating this week, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned from some time on the rink:

Life Lessons Learned on an Ice Skating Rink

If you aren’t falling down or coming pretty close, you aren’t trying new things.

When you do fall down, just laugh at yourself and get back up.

When you focus on what other people are thinking of you, you mess up what you try to do.

Rarely, if ever, will you be the best skater in the arena, and that’s okay. There’s room in the arena for amazing people and people still learning how not to fall down.

Don’t forget to have a fun time.

You can look at the amazing skaters and think, “dang, why am I not like that?” Or, you can look at them and think, “what are they doing that I can copy, to be like that, too?”

Sometimes, you try something and it turns into a flailing 720° spin. Some people may look at you and think about how bad a skater you are. Just laugh at yourself and keep on skating.

Nobody in the arena is happy to see you falling down.

There are a couple of different really great moments. The moment you master a trick. The first time you do something hard right. Just feeling the wind in your face. Teaching somebody else how to do something.

You don’t have to be doing the same thing as everybody else to have a really fun time.

When a song comes on that you don’t like, remember that it’s just a couple minutes. When a song comes on that you do like, figure out how to dance with ice skates on.

Don’t forget to laugh at yourself.

He Lived for Us

This poem stuck me as a great one to go along with Alma 34, which I read this week for Come Follow Me. is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. I especially think about verse 10, where Amulek describes the Atonement as an “infinite and eternal” sacrificed. This has always struck me as odd, because although I certainly see that the effects of Christ’s sacrifice are infinite and eternal, the sacrifice itself seems to have been limited in time and scope. Christ gave up his life, but he was resurrected. He suffered, but He is not suffering now. If any of you have any insight into this, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

One thought I’ve had is that part of the sacrifice that Christ made was sacrificing His life as He lived it to be an example and to be worthy to perform the Atonement. He sacrificed His will entirely and for all eternity, not just in the Garden of Gethsemane when pleading if the cup could pass from Him. 

He Lived for Us

Written on my mission, May 6, 2018

On a mission one spends a lot of time studying and pondering the Atonement. One thing I have been struck with was that Christ didn’t just come down to earth, suffer, die, and resurrect. First, He lived a life. A perfect life. That means that every single choice, every single temptation faced, would have to be faced and overcome perfectly. I can’t imagine the sort of pressure this was on Him, but I am fortunate that because of His perfect life, our lives, though far from perfect now, can become better.

His first steps were not on the road to the hill called Calvary.
His first breath was not taken in the Garden Gethsemane.
His hands were first a carpenter’s hands, before nailed to the cross.
Before He died, our Savior and Redeemer lived for us.
 
Christ was born in Bethlehem, a baby in a manger.
He grew from grace to grace, though to temptation was no stranger.
He always chose the harder right, never the easier wrong.
The Mighty God Jehovah served the weak He was among. 

He taught us how to live our lives, He said, “Come, follow Me.”
He did good long before he died for us on Calvary.
He fulfilled His father’s will in all things from the start,
Until the end, upon the cross, when sin’s pain broke his heart.

He is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with our grief,
But He knew the way to give true healing and relief
Was to be perfect—to bear the weight of the world in every deed.
And when we make His soul an offering for sin, he’ll see His seed.

It’s as if He walked a tightrope over a pit to save a friend—
One misstep and down He’d fall, a poor and unhappy end.
But Christ was perfect! Every step was straight and strong and true
So He could qualify as sacrifice and die for me and you.

He’ll look back, and He can see the travail on His great soul.
But if just one man, through His sacrifice, can be made pure and whole,
He shall be satisfied, His joy in heaven how sublime.
How great a man, my Jesus Christ, how perfect and divine.