May God Always be With You

May God Always be With You

My friend,

May you be blessed and comforted,
May you be strong and true.
May your light shine so all the world can see,
For I’ve seen it in you.

May the Master Healer tend your wounds,
May the Good Shepherd watch over your soul,
May you feel love for all God’s children,
For your love can make them whole.

May you never regret your choices,
May you repent quickly whenever you need,
May peace and joy be your rewards,
For you let God succeed.

May you stand tall as you stand for truth,
May the devil fear your name,
May you choose to always fight God’s fight,
For you belong with him again.

Rise as you are

There were a lot of thoughts from the devotional today by Elder Gong that I thought would make good poems, but I decided to do this one for this week. I don’t know if it’s something he actually said, but it’s a thought I had related to something he said.

Rise as you are

Rise as you are,
Whoever you are.
However dimly your light may shine,
It will make a difference in the night.

Rise as the stars,
Who rise every night.
Though the world’s flashy neon drowns out their beauty,
The stars let their beauty shine anyways.

Rise as the sun,
Who rises every day.
Though clouds and storms may block his life-sustaining light,
The sun shines on the world anyways.

Rise as the moon,
Who rises every night,
Though sometimes the best she has to give is no light at all,
The moon rises, anyways.

Rise as you are,
Whoever you are.
However dimly your light may shine,
It will make a difference in the night.

One Cup Short

I got to church a little late today, because of the snow, and so I was in the foyer for this wonderful experience.

One Cup Short

I stood in the foyer
As the priests came around,
Bearing trays of covenants
To the sheep within their flock.

The tray was one cup short
To bless all those in the foyer.
The priest left, and asked for another tray,
But those were empty, too.

So together, the priests went back,
A tray was filled, the water blessed,
Then back to the foyer the caring man went,
Leaving no lamb unfed.

The Ministering One
And His undershepherds,
Know that the cross was not carried
For all but one of us.

Christmas Stars

Stars are something that always pique my sense of wonder and amazement. And I think they make a wonderful metaphor for Christ and some of the lessons we can take from this Christmas season.

Christmas Stars

In the bustle of the trees
The presents, the wrapping,
The parties, the traveling,
The fun and the family,

Don’t forget the stars. 

The stars that remind you 
Of the first Christmas,
And of the shepherds who left their flocks
To witness the Lamb of God.

The stars that belong together,
And remind us of the Shephard’s flock.
There are lambs left to be gathered
Even when the tree is packed away.

The stars that point us ever onward,
That show to us the Way,
Our path back home,
And the covenant mile markers.

The stars that I hope we each see,
This Christmas season,
As we reflect on the Light of the world,
And our sky He lights with stars.

Slay a Dragon Every Day

December 7th, 2020, marks the 4 year anniversary of me leaving on my mission. Later this week will be the 2 year anniversary of me coming home from my mission. I have a lot of thoughts about it, and it seems really fast and really slow at the same time. One of my many thoughts about it is that time will keep going whether or not you use it, and that thought inspired me to write this poem.

The title, Slay a Dragon Every Day, comes from a line I heard in a zone conference on my mission. I thought it was a regularly used phrase, but apparently not. I think it ought to be, though.

Slay a Dragon Every Day

It was the first competition of the Marching Band season.
This was my senior year, I was ready to march
The best I ever had, and play the best I’d ever played.

I marched onto that field, and 10 minutes later I marched off, sweatier and out of breath. 
I thought about what I’d just done.
I hadn’t marched or played or performed any better than I usually had,
But I also hadn’t marched or played or performed any worse.

In fact, I had done just as well as every day I had practiced.

I thought about that for a while.
If I had practiced with more intensity, I would have performed that way.
If I had given 110% every day on the practice field,
That’s what I would have left behind on the performance field.

I guess that’s why the saying goes
“Slay a dragon every day.”
We each get the same amount of time,
If we spend it fighting metaphorical orcs or goblins,
We may get something out of it.

But if we slay a dragon every day,
Or at least mount the hill to fight one,
We’re living up to all that we could be,
And not settling for less than giving
110% every day.

A God of Commandments

I was reading through some old mission poems I had written, and found this one that I apparently never wrote up and sent home. I decided to publish it today. The verse I was reading that inspired this was Mosiah 2:36-41.

Originally written Nov 7, 2018

A God of Commandments

“Keep the commandments of God,”
I read.
Then paused.
Commandments of God?

Why does a God of love,
a powerful Heavenly Father
give us, not guidance, guidelines, suggestions
advice, or even rules, but commandments?

Is it not enough, I thought,
just to be told what is right?
Why must God command me?
Why commandments, specifically?

Perhaps one answer is
that, though commandments have their punishments,
they also have rewards attached,
and God wants to reward us all.

Another thought may be
that God loves us so much
and knows the dire consequences of choices —
mere advise is not enough.

But when faced with a commandment
or choice is not to follow good advice or bad,
but to follow the God of the Universe,
our Savior, Redeemer, and King.

And if it takes guilt’s pounding pressure
and sin’s so bitter pain
to make us choose to change, to turn
back to the path home again,

then I think that it was worth it,
the commandments that God gave.
And so, I’ll follow the commandments of God,
to live with Him again.

Gratitude Day 6: The Scriptures

I apologize for not posting this yesterday, I had a rough night:

One thing that has consistently been a source of strength and light in my life is the scriptures. If I turn to them with a willing and open heart, I am very often able to receive answers to the questions I have, even if they may not be the answers I want. I want to #GiveThanks for the scriptures.

Scriptures

Whatever you are feeling,
Whatever’s in your heart,
Someone else has felt it too,
And recorded it, in part.

Have you ever just felt lonely?
Moroni knows how that is.
His family dead, his life in danger,
You can read how he lived.

And what about discouraged?
Alma and Amulek have this addressed:
Read of how they carried on
When in prison, with seemingly no success.

When you feel like everyone’s against you,
Nephi’s got your back.
His brothers murmured and even beat him,
But read how his kindness never lacked.

And any feeling you’ve ever felt
Has been felt by our Savior, dear.
Read how He died so you can live,
When you need Him, He’ll be near.

These heroes of the pages
Really lived, and really felt
The emotions that I’ve gone through,
I can read, and look to them for help.

Gratitude Day 5: The Plan of Salvation

One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon, as well as one we are studying this week for Come Follow Me, is Ether 12:4. In that verse, Moroni teaches that “whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” In short, our faith in God leads us to hope for and seek something better, His plan is for us to become like and return to Him. I want to #GiveThanks for the Plan of Salvation and it’s impact on my life.

This poem is kind of based off of one of my favorite poems, Choose Something Like a Star, by Robert Frost; and one of my favorite quotes, which I first heard from President Thomas S. Monson, in his devotional Decisions Determine Destiny: “Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But . . . you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.”

The Plan of Salvation

I walk along life’s paths,
with many blind corners,
many unknowns ahead,
and few road signs —
I often get lost.

The only things constant are
the world changing around me,
and the ever unchanging stars.

Some travelers I’ve met on my journey
have told me that the stars should be guides —
“You can’t walk far enough to reach them,
but they’ll always lead you true.”

Others say — “Stars are useless,
all that matters is the path.”
Though if you don’t know where you’re going,
there are so many paths to take,
and I don’t know where to go.

I try to follow the stars.
They remind me that, in the chaos of the universe,
something is eternally true,
eternally pointing
to a final destination
where God knows I belong.

Gratitude Day 2: Revelation

I got to give an Elder’s quorum lesson Sunday morning on the talk Ask, Seek, and Knock, by Milton Camargo. He discusses in that talk how revelation is something he is grateful for, and I agree. I don’t know where I would be without the “guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost”, as President Nelson put it, and so I want to #GiveThanks for the divine gift of revelation.

Revelation

Have you ever been walking,
and tried to see how far you could walk
with your eyes closed?

I can’t walk very long —
a few seconds at most —
before anxiety and fear
force my eyes open,
even if just for a moment,
to see a snapshot of the path ahead
before I take one more step.

I wonder how I could possibly live
if I always walked like that,
with my eyes usually closed
to the path ahead of me.

Afterwards, I’m more grateful
for the gift of sight,
the sun’s guiding light,
the trees and path alike,
that I missed with my eyes held shut.

And then I think how often,
I go hours or even days,
without opening my eyes
in prayer to the Lord
and His wonderful light
that guides my eternal path.

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’m 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 others truly 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.