Monday, September 27, 2010

Lucky Charm

My friend Joe Misrasi does some awesome digital artwork. He never ceases to amaze me with the stuff he comes up with. There is always such emotion conveyed in his work. Awhile ago I had asked him to do something that had to do with my book. All I really told him was that my book was about leprechauns.

Tonight he did me a great honor and made this piece dedicated to my book. I absolutely love it.

For more artwork, poetry, and other cool stuff, visit Joe's website here.

Thanks, Joe!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rescuing the One

This is from a talk I gave today in Sacrament Meeting. I did not say all of this word for word when I gave the actual talk but this gives you a general idea of what was said. Enjoy!

A man with Alzheimer's wanders away from home, a hunter or hiker is missing, a group of school children is stranded in a flood... Search and rescue is a life-saving vocation. And the ability to save a life is often dependent upon how quickly the person can be found and accessed. If the missing person is one of your loved ones, you will expect well-equipped, well-trained search and rescue professionals to bring your loved one home safely to you. The National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) has dedicated itself to preparing those involved in search and rescue to meet your expectations.

This is what it says on the National Association for Search and Rescue’s website. It is true that if the missing person is someone you love you will want the best and most qualified people searching for them.

When I was younger my Dad was on a Search and Rescue team in the Uintah Basin in Utah. I remember hearing stories of when he would go in search for lost scouts in the mountains or an injured hiker who could not get down from where they had been. I also remember doing mock accidents. To me it was like Halloween, and I loved it, because I got to dress up like a severely injured person, complete with peanut butter for the gore, some PVC pipe to look like bones, and some red goo made to look like blood.

In search and rescue missions the objective is clear. Search for the missing person and get them out of danger

The Savior taught that “the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost…if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:11-14).

As we strive to be like Christ, we should also follow in His example of his love for the lost sheep. To illustrate how we can emulate Christ in this I have a couple stories for you.

The first story is about a missionary. He was at the beginning of his mission and was still learning the ropes of being a full-time missionary. His trainer was pretty young in the mission and had only been out for six months. They were white-washing an area where the trainer had been trained only months previous to this time.

They worked hard. They followed up with old investigators from when the trainer missionary was there the first time. Their efforts seemed fruitless. Once they would get someone to listen they found that, on the next visit, the people were mysteriously disappeared or had come down with a serious illness or their cat died so they did not have time to listen.

Three months went by and the companionship was getting tired. They prayed and prayed for guidance and for someone to be put in their path.

It was a Sunday like every other Sunday. The missionaries were at church, talking with the members, getting ready for Sacrament Meeting.

Then a whole family walked in that they had never seen before. Naturally, missionaries being missionaries, the companionship greeted them.

There was a single mom and three of her five kids. She had moved into the area to get a fresh start. They were members but they had been less active for years. With her, she had her sister and her husband who had escorted them to church that day to make sure that they found it all right and everything was squared away before the two of them headed back up north.

And then there was one odd man out. He was not related to the single mom at all. He was younger, closer to the missionaries’ ages. He introduced himself and said “Any church that my friends here belong to is something I have got to know more about.”

He was not a member, and he was interested in learning. Finally! The missionaries, needless to say, were ecstatic.

Turned out that he was golden. When the missionaries taught him he listened intently. He made the necessary changes in his life and was soon baptized and confirmed a member of the church.

That young missionary saw a miracle. Heavenly Father had listened to their prayers and had sent that young man into their path. Later, the young man would recall that there were no other missionaries that could have taught him the gospel. Truly both missionary and convert were prepared well beforehand.

The story does not end there.

The younger missionary left the area. He went on to serve diligently but he never saw another baptism that he had had any part in teaching. Not a single one. Frustrated and tired, he would get on his knees praying for understanding.

When he got home he got a call from an old friend. It was the young man he had taught and baptized at the beginning of his mission. His only convert baptism during his whole two years as a missionary.

The young man was stalwart. He had received a mission call. Later he would go on to teach and baptize several people who would not have converted to the gospel had he not gone. In turn, if the young missionary had not been there to teach this young man, he wouldn’t have been converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ at that time.

A couple more quick stories.

There was a girl who we will call Jane. She was born and raised in the gospel to a good, strong family. As she got older she questioned things. These questions were not bad in and of themselves, but as they went unanswered they led to doubt. So when she became friends with people who questioned her beliefs, she did not know how to answer them.

Her doubts became stronger. So strong that she became defiant and soon became inactive in the church and even began going to a different denomination.

Jane went a little wild. She would go partying and drinking with friends on the weekends.

After awhile she hit rock bottom. Depression would hit her pretty hard and she never understood why. Then she found out she was pregnant.

It was time for Jane to start over.

She moved back in with her parents. Her heart slowly softened and she had a desire to be a better example to her baby. As the sweet Spirit of the Atonement worked in her she became a brand new person who no longer had those doubts. Along the way, members of her ward helped her come back into the fold. Her family supported her. Those friends that she had made were no longer friends of hers. They had shown their true colors once they realized they no longer had a use for her. But it did not matter to Jane. She had finally found inner peace and had made a friend of our Savior Jesus Christ.

My final story is about another young man who, like Jane, lost his way. He was never fully inactive though. In his heart he knew he needed to straighten up but he just did not have the desire. He hated going to church. He did not feel like he belonged or that the bishopric knew who he was. Let alone if any of the ward members knew him. It was a singles ward which is painful enough. But to feel like you’re alone in a singles ward is worse.

He also went a little wild and began to follow a much different and darker path.

Then someone reached out to him. It was a girl who always seemed happy at work. He knew why she was happy. She was a church-going Mormon and she was always talking about these great activities her singles branch was putting on.

So he finally relented and went to an activity. Things had been changing for him even before this. He could tell he was being guided by an unseen hand, but it took someone who was willing to reach out to him to finally make him act upon his desire to change.

Whether you are a full-time missionary, a mother who tirelessly prays for her family to come to the gospel, or someone who needs someone to reach out to you, never underestimate how God is in the details of our lives. We can be tools in His hands to bring people to Him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brand New Old Me

I wish I had taken a before and after picture. I grew out my hair over the summer (probably worst time to do that because it's hot but it's Idaho and never really gets too hot here) and it was long. I had it flipping up around my ears and in the back and my curls were going wild.

Today I had it cut off back to what I usually do. Short and trim and clean. It feels good but it is sad to see the curls go away.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I wonder why I have never gotten over the awkwardness of talking to girls. There are a couple girls in my singles branch that I have my eye on and I was trying to talk to one of them today and everything that came out of my mouth was pretty idiotic.

Me: So that challenge that you left us...I didn't say anything because it is still in the works.
My Brain: WTF? This is so not how I had it playing out for you, Jake.

Her: Challenge?

Me: Oh yeah. The missionary work challenge.
My Brain: She doesn't even remember. Don't we feel like an anus?

Her: Oh right. Cool.

Me: I have a friend of my sister's...blah-blah-blah.
My Brain: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shutupshutupshutupshutupshutup!

Her: Oh cool. That's awesome. At least it's in the works.

And that was that.

Before that, I introduced myself to a new girl in the branch.

Me: What's your name?

Her: (says her name)

Me: Oh hi, I'm Jake. (shake hands)
My Brain: Shaking hands? Really? Do you shake hands with girls? Is that kosher? I do when they're older but when they're your age and they are looking at you with big blue eyes and a great it okay to just shake hands? You obviously don't hug because that's just weird. And it's just awkward not to do anything. Okay, I guess we shake hands.

Her: Nice to meet you.

Me: Nice to meet you too.

And that was that.

Anybody else find this awkward? Why is it that a guy who is nearly 30 still cannot talk to women? I can talk to them just fine, I guess, I just say dumb things.

Maybe I should just carry a card with me that I would give to a girl when I see her and want to talk to her. It would say the following:

Hi. My name is Jake Taylor. I have a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth when I talk to girls so, in an effort to stop that from happening, I am just going to not say anything. You can talk all you want. I will just nod and smile and enjoy being in your presence. That is all. Have a wonderful day.

Okay so maybe not. I try not to overthink what I say to girls but, in doing so, I end up just thinking about not overthinking and so I end up getting all worked up about that.

So this is the reason I am still single. In case you were all wondering.

A message to all the girls out there (especially the ones from my branch who happen upon this): If you see me trying to talk to you, just give me a break. I promise I will try and not say anything too dumb. Okay. I can't promise that. But just don't take everything I say as something I would normally say. I'm just nervous and awkward around girls most of the time. So yeah. Cut me some slack.

That is all. I probably made myself look like a total idiot now. I can talk to girls and I do know how to flirt and all that. It's just the initial breaking the barrier that gets me. How do you start conversations...etc...

Moving on.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 furry underwears

Ok. I have to say that this book was my least favorite of the whole trilogy. Some people may tire of the constant comparison to Twilight and I honestly don't see any similarities between that series and Hunger Games. One aspect in which they do share a similarity is that both authors dropped the ball on the last book. Again, this is my opinion, if you loved Mockingjay and didn't necessarily like the other two then good for you.

Mockingjay finds our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, in District 13. I was disappointed with 13. They ended up being just as bad as the Capitol. It was sort of a nice twi
st but it was hard for me to get invested in a cause that I no longer wanted to win. Yes, I wanted them to defeat Capitol and President Snow, but I didn't know if I wanted the District 13 to have their way either because I wasn't sure if it was much better. President Coin was never a very sympathetic character, and I think Collins would have done right by her by making her a little more understandable. Throughout the book we just get a Katniss-twisted view of her that never fully explains why she does what she does. There is a sweet victory at the end (I won't spoil it) but I actually saw it coming after the buildup to a certain execution.

Speaking of Kat. She is such a strong character and I love that about her. Throughout the books she is competent and light on her feet, problem solving in some interesting ways, which is all part of her magic. Part of the reason she is the Mockingjay and groo
med to be the face of the revolution is because she has the ability to lead and to stand up for herself. This book we get a weaker, watered-down version of her, and it was hard to swallow. She played the victim way too much for my liking. I kept wanting her to freak out and stop just rolling over and taking it. Most of the book she was either drugged, tired, or just laying around in a bunker. And when she did go out to fight she was forced to do it. I was disappointed.

I was always on Team Peeta. He is a genuinely nice guy. The Gale/Kat relationship just seemed too convenient. Where Meyer dropped the ball on her love triangle, Collins keeps the momentum going and shows the tension between Kat, Peeta, and Gale ver
y nicely. It sort of takes a back burner to all the other things going on, but it works and I was satisfied with that aspect of the book (I won't tell you who she picks). Peeta, however, becomes a bad-ass in this book and it just makes me sad. Yeah, he was brainwashed, but it was still sad. Out of all the characters in this installment, Peeta is the most interesting because I think he has the biggest struggle of all of them.
Gale. From hunting partner and friend to supposed lover and weapon inventor overnight. He was suddenly really good at killing people and almost heartless because he didn't seem to care how many lives were lost to get to the ultimate goal. I gu
ess that is why I didn't side with him and want Kat to get with him because she was already heartless enough. She needs someone to liven her up.

I will say, however, if you were to pit Kat against Bella: Kat, even in her weakest moments here in Mockingjay would totally kick Bella's ass even when Bella becomes a vampire. I had to say it. The beauty of Hunger Games is that Collins does not make any of her characters wimpy. Yes, she made Kat just sit around for about 75% of the last book, which
got annoying, but Kat never relied to heavily on anyone else. It truly is a breath of fresh air to have a heroine with some guts. I just wish she would have wowed me more in the last book and totally ripped the Capitol apart instead of playing the victim all the time.

I guess my biggest qualm with this book is that it seems rushed and the writing isn't as good. The intensity that was present in the other books is only seen in bits and pieces in this one. My second biggest qualm is that the characters totally flip and aren't really the same characters they were in the other books. Although, despite my qualms, I don't see how else Collins could have ended the trilogy. She had a big task ahead of her to answer questions and to keep her fans happy. I wonder, though, how much of the story she sacrifice
d to keep people happy.

On that note, I still love this trilogy and I would re-read them. I am excited for the movies to come out. They are in the works right now, trying to find a director for the first one.

In my search for the book cover picture I found some fan art and thought I would share the cool ones.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 furry underwears. Read the book and you'll know what I mean.

This one shows a very touching and poignant part of the first book.

Ellen Page as Katniss. I think she'd do good. I really like the intensity in this one and the design is pretty much awesome if you ask me.

Kind of silly but I like it for some reason.

For more pictures like this and all things Hunger Games go here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Answer to Prayers

I realized something just a moment ago. My prayers had been answered and I didn't even realize it.

My idea of going to Utah was put off for a bit simply because I had finally found a social outlet that was actually wholesome and fun, so I figured I would stick around for a bit and see what happened. At the same time I was really confused about my aforementioned feelings to be moving to Utah. I had been so excited about the prospects of breaking away and starting over in a new place.

Things happened and I slowly forgot my excitement.

So I decided to pray about it. I prayed hard too. I kept bugging and bugging God to tell me what to do and that if I was supposed to stick around then let me know.

Yesterday my boss decided to give me a real nasty "review" that basically told me it was time for me to move on. Despite my anger at his antagonism and after some reflection I realized that he was actually being used to answer my prayers.

It is time to move on.

So, even if there are some very cute girls in my new branch, I am going to get back on track about moving to Utah.

There ya have it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Three Date Marathon

This last weekend was a record breaker for me. I had three dates in one weekend!

1. Happy Valley: All summer I worked with a girl who goes to school at BYU. She's a lot younger than me and we get along great. It was really actually quite sad when she left on her last day of work. So we randomly set up a phone date. I don't know if it actually qualifies as a date but I considered it to be one. We talked for about a half hour. Quickest date of my life.

2. OSHA: This one makes a funny story. For the sake of identities I am going to refer to my date as Osha because she is a health inspector.

It was a blind date and the Cupid was my friend and coworker Lindsey. We doubled with Lindsey and her date. We went to Quizno's and ate our sandwiches by the river, then we went to Lindsey's house and played a game of Phase 10.

The whole date was sort of awkward. Blind dates are usually somewhat weird to begin with but this one was just strange. When we were at Quizno's, Osha got some yellow peppers on her sandwich and said she was trying them for the first time.

Me: Oh, you're being adventurous, trying some yellow peppers.

Osha: I've been more adventurous than that.

Ummm...okay. Am I supposed to be impressed?

That was fine though. I just brushed it off.

The Phase 10 game was insane. It started out nice and friendly but then Osha started getting competitive. I was getting tired. There were a couple times I went out just before Osha had a good hand and just needed one or two more cards to go out. At first it was no big deal but there were a couple rounds where she was actually ticked off at me for going out.


So, after the game, we took Lindsey and her date back to get her car, leaving me and Osha alone while I took her back to her house. Just fyi, Lindsey's date really likes her and the feeling is not so mutual. The whole night I just noticed how Lindsey was putting off signals that she wasn't interested.

While I was pulling away from dropping off Lindsey and her date:

Me: I think it's funny that he likes her.

Osha: Why is that funny?

Me: (thinking..."Really?") Just cuz he's preparing to go on a mission and she's not really all that interested.

Osha: He's allowed to like her. Just cuz he's going on a mission doesn't mean he can't like her.


So I forgot how to get back to her house so she proceeded to give me step by step instructions to how to get to Yellowstone Highway. Yeah. She's lived in Idaho Falls for 3 or 4 weeks. I've lived in this area for 10 years give or take, I'm pretty sure I know how to get to Yellowstone Highway.

We got to 17th Street and I remembered how to get to her house so I was going to just take Sunnyside up then turn left on Rollandet.

Osha: Oh, turn left here (on 17th).

Me: Oh I'll just take Sunnyside.

Osha: No, take 17th. (firmly)

Me: (swerve to the other lane)

Osha: But stay in the right lane.

Me: Ok. (swerve back to the right lane)

Osha: Because you will want to take the very next right.


So it was complete silence right after that while we were waiting for the red light to turn green.

In order to ease the weird tension that resulted after her navigation I asked her:

Me: So what kind of music do you like? (That was awkward and probably not the best thing to do because it was obvious that I was trying to lighten the weirdness.)

Osha: (not looking at me...was she crying? I still don't know.) Oh I like several different artists.

Me: Any particular artist?

Osha: Not really. I just don't like pop stars today. It seems like blah blah blah. Something about how pop stars don't have any talent these days and the most popular songs just repeat and repeat yada yada yada. (We got on the street she lives on). If you can find the zoo you can find my house.

Me: Oh that makes sense. I can never find the zoo.


Me: So do you like it here? How long have you lived here? (I never got the vibe that she was really happy to be here in Idaho so this was kind of a jab at her.)

Osha: I've been here three or four weeks.

Me: So do you like it here? (I repeated the question because I could tell she had avoided it. She wasn't getting out of it that easy. Call me spiteful.)

Osha: I really miss Logan and Utah State.

Me: (pulling into her driveway, thankfully.) Yeah, change can be hard.

Osha: Oh I don't mind change. It's just...(My mind didn't catch what else she said because I was too busy thinking about how big a contradiction she had just made.)

So. Let's get this date over with ASAP. I walked her to her door. Gave her a hug. She took awhile to get her keys and was sort of having troubles with it so I stood there sort of awkwardly, making conversation about her upcoming weekend.

Me: Is your key working?

Osha: What? (looking at me like I asked if the Earth was round)

Me: Oh I was just wondering if your key worked.

Osha: (opens her door and I feel like a jackass.)

Me: Okay. See ya!

So. Needless to say there will not be a second date with Osha. I would continue this portion with how I actually met Osha a week before the date, at a dance, and it was awkward even then, but I will refrain. I am already risking getting in trouble for posting this because Osha may stumble upon this blog someday and realize it's her I'm going off about.

Moving on.

3. Miss West Virginia: This date was 1000x better than #2. It was yet another blind date with Lindsey as the Cupid.

We tripled with Lindsey and her date and Mike and his girlfriend Lacey. We went to Bambino's and had a quick bite to eat then we went on a little tour of Art You Can Sit On, some benches made by local artists. It was really fun. My date was cute and I'm pretty sure there will be a repeat. We shall see though.

Sad that the bad date gets more coverage than the good ones. Oh well. It makes for a good story!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Directions

Ha! I kill myself. I was going to name this post something lame like "Community Park Branch" but I decided to be more creative. Then I was thinking that the main point of this post is how things are changing in my life. So I thought..."New Directions." Why does that sound familiar?

Probably because of...
The Glee Club in the tv show is called New Directions.
So glad I could start this post with an aside.

But, first, I read an article in OK! Magazine (we get the subscription mysteriously at our house and we're not sure why. Don't judge) about the upcoming season of Glee and its already popular Britney Spears episode. I really hope all the hype is worth it. It's Glee of course it will be worth it. Right?

I am so excited for that episode because it is where they will expand the character of Brittany, the ditzy blonde cheerleader that dances like a maniac. She is one of my favorites.

Looking at this picture, Heather Morris (Brittany) actually sort of looks like Britney Spears. I never would have guessed. Anyway...if you could not tell...I am stoked about the new season starting in like two weeks.


On to the real purpose of this post.

I have switched wards (if you don't know what I'm talking about by wards click here). The singles ward in Rigby was just not doing it for me. It took them a year and a half to give me a calling and, even then, three or four weeks to set me apart (they have yet to actually do it. I guesstimate that it would have taken six weeks for them to actually set me apart). Stick a fork in me; I am done.

I work with a girl who goes to this awesome branch in Idaho Falls. She was telling me about it and had been telling me all about their fun activities while I just sat around being mad about how dumb my ward was. She had invited me to come but I was going through a bad, dark part of my life and so I never really wanted to go. But things have been changing for me lately and so when she invited me to a dance they were having on the Snake River pier in Idaho Falls I decided to go. It had been a long, long, long time since I'd been to a YSA dance.

Man, am I glad I did! It was so much fun! And I met some really cool peeps, most of which were really cute girls.

So that Sunday I went to the branch with my coworker/friend (Lindsey). It was such a breath of fresh air. The Spirit was so strong and I could feel the love the presidency had for the members and the unity within the branch.

Since then I have been to their FHE and a visiting night in which we go around and invite people to come to the branch. If you know me, the last couple years I have been pretty antisocial (not all entirely my fault really) so this is a big step for me. I loved it though. This has been such a good week!

So, Rigby Singles Ward, hasta la vista!

Hellooooooooo Community Park Branch!