The First Day

Today is the first day that I’m coming back to God. I’ve missed it. Everything seems to be pointing me in this direction. My relationship has taken a turn I never thought it would, but I know one day everything will be better. In my weakness, I turned to God and I don’t feel alone.

It started when Joey told me that he wanted to learn about Christ. Ever since then, everything just sort of — came together. I just so happened to buy a Bible that same day. Leather-bound, paraphrased, and, good condition. It’s everything I could’ve asked for to get back into this. I know I have a tough road ahead, but I’m not alone. I asked my dad to help me start a Bible Study for a few friends of mine and my brother, who want to learn more.

Last night at church, watching Ryan speak, it was the first time that I saw myself being a pastor. I’ve never had that thought come into my head before, but it wouldn’t leave my mind last night. It’s not a thought I’m just going to let go of. My life seems to have been set up for me to do something like this.

Every moment in my 20 years on this Earth has lead me to this. In 7th grade, I was knocking on Heaven’s door. No one was positive if I was going to make it, but I was surrounded by some amazing people that helped me every step of the way. That could be my testimony, keep the Faith and keep on pushing. In high school, I was a part of an engineering academy. It helped me get a lot of experience with public speaking. I knew I would use it one day, but I just thought I would use it in the business world. Now I can use it to serve a greater purpose.

My closest friends have supported me in this next step in my life. It’s a vision that just so clear in my head. Every king was meant to preach. A week ago these words wouldn’t have meant much to me, but now they are telling me that I’m on the right path. Advice from Liliana, Raul, Alicia, and Steve sent this message straight to my core. I know I’m not perfect. It’s impossible for any human to be perfect. We weren’t created that way. But I’m going to try to be the best me that I can be. Along the way, I hope I can impact those that are lost and bring them to the Light.

If I am meant to be a shepherd, I know it will happen. If I am not meant to be a shepherd, I will trust even when I don’t understand. Things will get better and I’ll be better too. I want to know what my future will look like, but I’m going to take it one day at a time and walk with God each step. I don’t know how often I’ll update this, but this will be with me on my journey. I can only imagine what it will be like.

God Bless and Goodnight.

Control

A couple of years ago my mom started working with an elderly woman named Paula Stringer. Paula had a memory loss illness, Alzheimer’s, a disease more than 5 million Americans live with. My mom was working part-time with her while she was also working part-time with insurance business.  Paula had her long-term memory but had very bad short-term memory loss.  My mom was only helping her with transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and assisted her with meals but most importantly she was her companion.  Paula’s family lived out-of-town so my mom became close friends with her because they started to spend more time together.  As Paula’s illness began to advance she began to forget things that happened on a daily basis.  Several other helpers were needed to help Paula when my mom wasn’t able to. Paula began to get more confused as other helpers were coming and going.  Even though Paula was having more memory loss and sometimes not even recognize her helpers she never forgot who my mom was and would have confidential talks with my mom. She would sometimes get weary because Paula would say things that didn’t make any sense.  My mom would get concerned because she thought this job was going to be too hard to handle as Paula’s illness advanced.  My mom began to pray and ask God for guidance.  She did not want to stop helping Paula but she knew her illness would one day take her life and she was going to need to move on. My mom enjoyed helping Paula and started to consider working as a full-time caregiver so she prayed about that also. It didn’t take long to get an answer to her prayer.

One day Paula was having a serious conversation with my mom in her room.  The sun was shining in from the bedroom window. As Paula was comparing my mother to the other workers she said something to my mom she won’t ever forget, “Why are you here?” My mom was caught off guard and could reply the only way she thought to, “Well I’m here to help you.” Then Paula said, “I know that, but with all your talents I just don’t understand why you are doing this.” My mom could tell that Paula was really speaking from her heart and sincerely knew what she was saying. This really opened my mom’s eyes and knew that she needed to take advantage of the hand she was dealt. Sometimes we don’t know what we are capable of until someone helps us realize.

My mom has always been a hard worker for my family. I remember the days when she would go into her office, I would just wait for her day to be done so she could come home and be with us. Even after that her day wasn’t done, there was always something that my brother or my sister or I had to do in the evening. Whether it was cheering for a volleyball game or a baseball game or even just going to the skate park, my mom never stopped moving. She always seemed so stressed out because she worked 8 to 10 hours a day and then only had a few hours of the day left to spend with us. Then she had to do it all over again the next day. Sure, it was a good job with good pay, but she wasn’t doing what she loved. She was always helping someone build their dream, but she wasn’t building her own. She’s even drilled that saying into my brain, it’s really inspired me to have freedom and control in my own life.

My mom helped me realize that just because you’re making money, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be happy, especially if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. Your career shouldn’t just be trading your time for money. You should enjoy what you do and you will never have to work again. Life is too short to have a job that you don’t enjoy and have to spend so much time doing that job. My mom was in the insurance industry for many years and even though she did not enjoy it she stayed in that industry because she was getting paid well. She thought that if she opened her own insurance business instead of working for someone else that it would help her enjoy it more. Things didn’t go as planned and she was wrong, and she isn’t afraid to admit that to anyone she knows.

She believes her calling was to be in the health industry and she kept putting it on the back of her head because she didn’t want to hear any negative things about her changing her career path. She finally made the decision that people were not going to understand her journey because it is for her and not for them. She knew that the first step towards getting somewhere was deciding that she was not going to stay where she was, after all, the first step is always the hardest. If we were meant to stay in one place we would have roots instead of feet. We aren’t plants, are we? My mom finally took her first step and has enrolled in a massage therapy school so she can get licensed and begin to use her gifts and talents to help others heal their body the natural way. She knows God’s gift to her are her talents and her gift back to God is how she uses her talents. She has always had an entrepreneurial spirit but she still had to go one step further and be the right kind of entrepreneur. She knows that a career change at this point in her life will not be easy but she also knows that if she wants something she has never had before then she has to do something that she has never done.

But why should a career change be so hard at this point in her life? Why do we let society mold us so much? If we let this happen, we become a product of our environment instead of making our environment be our product. I still haven’t had a job yet, but I have plenty of friends who’ve already started on that. Most of them hate their jobs too. I can understand why. They have to balance school and work and sometimes sports. Some of these friends soon see a drop in their grades after they start work. After they get a taste of money, their taste buds just crave more. Money soon becomes more important than grades and almost anything else. Money becomes their life.They barely have any control of their lives anymore. After school they either have practice or work, then on the weekends they either have practice or work, and on days off they either have practice or work. Life becomes laid out for them, they just have to go through the motions. What’s the point of that? Where’s the joy in life?

Going through the motions has become a habit for all of us a one point or another, whether it’s showing up for school, work, or dinner at 6 with the family. We can get tired of this quickly (especially if it’s the same meal every night), so we have to find the joy in those motions we once had before they became routine. There were reasons that we started doing the same things everyday, sometimes we just have to find that reason again.

When I am older I don’t want to be stuck in an office wasting away my life with the same plan for each and everyday. I don’t think that’s the reason that we’re here to live. There are so many opportunities that we have to keep ourselves entertained and loving life. Being glued to a chair in an office with a job no one would want for any reason other than money doesn’t sound like it’s worth it. Waking up and being excited for work isn’t a common feeling around the world.

survey done by CareerBliss showed some of the most hated jobs that someone could have. After looking through these it is safe to say about half of them require a large amount of desk work. These workers probably wake up with no excitement for their upcoming day. Without any motivation for the day, plenty of workers could be holding back their employer, and keeping them from making the money they desire. Often people will get opportunities that could be life changing, but without any motivation the opportunities will be pointless.

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, right? Well we don’t have to like every chance we’re given, do we? Plenty of Americans would agree with me on this.Monster.com and a company named Gfk showed that almost half of the nation hated their jobs in 2013. People from other countries come here to America to have a better life than they did before, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still suffer once they get here. Not everyone gets the opportunity they once thought they were getting.

It has been said that if you have a job you love, you won’t work a day in your life. Anyone can live a better life if they follow this and really take it to heart. People like video game designers, for example, they’re doing what they love. They get to create their product, test it, finalize it, share it with the world, and then play it some more.

Those that are more “outdoorsy” may be better suited for becoming a park ranger. Preserving nature or history, possibly protecting animals, and being outside and getting paid for it? That sounds like someone’s dream job.

People finding their dreams jobs isn’t something that happens often. According to a study done by Gallup, there are nearly twice as many people in the world that are unhappy with their jobs than those that are happy with their jobs. It also showed that nearly 90% of people worldwide “are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive.”

Plenty of my relatives have had a job where they work inside of an office. Most of them now aren’t working in the same situation anymore. They all used to dread going to work everyday, being stuck in the same place from 9 AM to 5 PM, and I can understand why. I already spend so much time at school, why would I want to finish school and just look forward to sitting down for another 8 hours everyday?

There are jobs out there that people absolutely love doing. Firefighters always seem to be great people, don’t they? Maybe it’s because they’re actually excited and motivated for that Monday morning that everyone else seems to loathe (pweekes). Firefighters have plenty of freedom, especially with the hours they work, which vary depending on the department. Becoming a firefighter isn’t an easy task though, it is a physically and mentally draining experience. The people who accept this way of life know what they’re sacrificing, but they also know that their reward is greater than the risk.

 

Some jobs aren’t worth the amount of effort that gets put into them.Corporate executives can expect a large paycheck, but there’s a lot of people they have to keep happy and it isn’t painless. This position doesn’t seem like one that a lot of people could handle. Maybe it’s just the big business side of it that makes a career like this unappealing to me, or maybe it seems like another job where people go through the motions and don’t expect much more from life. With a career like this I don’t see much motivation other than the money that comes along with it.

So many people just go to school so they can get a high paying job. But I don’t think that money is everything. Sure, it can help you buy a lot of things, but if you’re always working what’s the point? I don’t think that we are supposed to spend years and years in school so that we can spend years and years working in some lame office. Even now as a teenager my friends are already getting jobs that they hate. I see them and I feel sorry for them because they already have it pounded in their mind that they have no say in their future, they’ve already accepted something they think is their fate. People need to open up their minds about their future even if society has already set the norm.

Teenagers may already be opening up their minds. Teenage employment seems to be falling and during the summer it has declined over the past few years. I see how shocking this information is. This generation won’t have the same amount of work experience as those of the past. The teens that do find jobs may get ahead of the curve because they will have an idea of what they want to do and what they don’t want to do.

Life is the longest thing we experience, so we should enjoy it and not be wasteful. There are so many things we can do and look forward to, and we can’t cage ourselves. We have to live a little and take chances when they’re presented to us. For all we know, we might not get tomorrow, so we shouldn’t let anything get in the way of our happiness and what we want most out of life.

 

Adams, Susan. “Unhappy Employees Outnumber Happy Ones By Two To One Worldwide.” Forbes.com. Forbes , 10 Oct 2013. Web. 27 Mar 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/10/10/unhappy-employees-outnumber-happy-ones-by-two-to-one-worldwide/&gt;.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/10/10/unhappy-employees-outnumber-happy-ones-by-two-to-one-worldwide/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/44038159

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/lessons-from-people-who-love-their-jobs/story-e6frfm9r-1226768500821

http://www.fireserviceinfo.com/hiring.html

http://money.howstuffworks.com/10-most-stressful-jobs-in-america.htm#page=2

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3021789/everyone-in-the-world-hates-their-jobs-but-americans-hate-theirs-the-most

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/29/200769/teen-employment-hits-record-lows.html

http://my.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/889755:Topic:11958?commentId=889755%3AComment%3A3755469

Reading Evaluation

At the beginning of the year I had set my goal to finish 12 books by the end.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Heat

Ella Minnow Pea

Period. 8

Fast Food Nation

The Graveyard Book

The Darkest Path

Ender’s Game

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Where Men Win Glory

Brave New World

The Dark Room

A Tale of Two Cities

Some books were harder to read than others because of the interest level I had in them Other times the text was just more complex than I was used to reading. Brave New World and A Tale of Two Cities were from different time periods so the way they were written was harder to understand because of this.

 

Ender’s Game and Where Men Win Glory were my favorite books to read this year. Both of these books sent different messages to me. They gave me lessons that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Where Men Win Glory, Pat Tillman’s story, taught me that doing the right thing is sometimes the hardest thing to do. His story was one that we all could respect. He left a dream job to join the military and fight for our country. Learning about his personal life, his life in the NFL, and his life in the military in so much detail is what made the book so entertaining for me. Ender’s Game taught me that we are capable of things we never would have imagined. Sometimes we are put in a position that we feel we can’t be successful in, but as long as we keep moving something great can come from the situation.

 

There were some books that I put down after initially picking them up. These books were ones that were harder to read. The texts were complex and required a lot of thinking to know what was happening in the book. I would read as far as I could into a book until it felt like more of a hassle to read than anything. This was usually a little more than a hundred pages into a book.

 

Book clubs this year were interesting. Discussing the books was interesting too because of the different perspectives that you could get from others. I think these groups helped me become a better writer because I was exposed to more writing styles. I enjoyed the Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close book club the most. The way the book was written had so many possible interpretations, especially with its parallel structure.

 

This year has definitely changed me. Because of my reading I think I have become more knowledgeable about things going on in the world. Where Men Win Glory interested me in what goes on in the world outside of America. Ender’s Game taught me to have more confidence in myself and understand that I can do things on my own. Now I feel as if I can go out and be myself instead of someone I know I’m not.

Daniel Craig reading quote A Tale of Two Cities

Something Must Be Done

Nelson Mandela once said “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” We’ve all been in situations where we don’t feel like we can make it through. But there is something inside of us that makes us want to step up to the plate and swing away. We recognize this as courage — our capability and attempts to perform the actions that we feel must be done.  

Rosa Parks had courage. We’ve all heard of her before, right? On December 1, 1955, she refused to give up her seat near the middle of a bus when a white man stepped on. She was already a member of the local NAACP, but she didn’t plan this action. Parks felt that it had to be done, so she stood up to the law and didn’t back down. Her action has stood the test of time and been an example for courage ever since.

What about Pat Tillman? He was the NFL player that left the game to serve in the US military after the attacks of the World Trade Center in New York City. Pat left many people’s dream job in order to serve the country that he loved. Not very many people are willing to make this sacrifice. Pat paid the ultimate price in the war, friendly fire isn’t something we’d expect to end someone’s life, but it is a part of reality. His courageous action caused many people across the nation to mourn after his death, but it was a sacrifice he was willing to make. He felt it needed to be done so he stepped up to the plate and swung away.

Courage doesn’t have to be so complex, it can be simple. Courage can be answering the teacher’s question when no one else will, or standing up to the bully that’s always been around, or just asking someone on a date. People with courage get the job done, maybe that’s why we look up to these people. Their actions lead us to believe that more can be achieved and we just need a little bit of courage, and maybe some luck, in order to fulfill the duties we seem to find necessary. Courage never hurt, no matter how miniscule or how insignificant it may seem.

We Have Burdens to Bear

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

We’ve all heard this quote, but not everyone takes it to heart the same way. Miley Cyrus has probably heard it. Justin Bieber probably heard it. Josh Brent and Yasiel Puig have probably heard it too. We are all responsible for our own actions, no matter how much we try to down play it. What we do is our choice and it shouldn’t be blamed on others if they don’t input on the situation.

For those that don’t know, Brent is a former NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys. In December 2012, he crashed his car with his best friend in the car with him. His best friend, Jerry Brown, didn’t make it out. Brent was found guilty of intoxication manslaughter. That is something I think no one would want to experience. But Brent was in the eye of the nation, he played for “America’s Team,” some would say he needed to be more responsible than other players in the NFL. He wasn’t. On that tragic night, he was seen holding bottles of champagne that were his. After the accident, his blood alcohol content was discovered to be .189, more than twice the legal limit. Brent obviously shouldn’t have been driving, but he was. That was irresponsible by Brent and anyone else that was involved in the situation.

Puig is a right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At 23 years old, he is already a millionaire. Just because he makes a lot of money and he hasn’t lived in the US for a long time doesn’t mean that he should be exempt from our rules. Puig was arrested for driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone, charged with reckless driving. He also showed up to a game late and was scratched from the starting line-up. He is still a young man with room to grow, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. He has a responsibility to himself and to his team. He needs to know that he is in a spotlight and people will be waiting for him to mess up.

Responsibility is something we all have to take care of, big or small. Feeding your cat and paying your bills are both responsibilities, and we can be held equally accountable for both. After all, both situations come from our choices that we have to deal with later on down the road.

Humans

What makes us human?

Some of you may go the literal route and say that it’s in our DNA. But when it gets down to it, there are other things that make us human. It’s those moments that we’ll never forget. It’s those relationships with people that may or may not go down the drain as time passes.

Remember your favorite vacation that you went on? Of course you do, that’s why it’s your favorite. Well it might not be your parents favorite vactation, that’s for them to decide. It was your experience, they didn’t feel the same way when their toes sunk into the moist sand of a cold beach on a warm day. They didn’t feel the same way when they looked into those red Canyons in Arizona. They didn’t feel the same way when they looked at the castle in Orlando. You may have seen the same thing but you didn’t have the same experience. Those are moments you can’t forget. Those are the moments that flash before your eyes. Those are the ones that you remember when you need to be lifted up.

People can lift you up too. Sometimes you don’t even need to be lifted up. We all have those people that we can sit comfortably with in silence. Relationships are an important part of all of our lives. If your life was on the line, you probably have someone you could trust to help you in the situation. That person is someone you chose to keep up with and you probably love that person, even if you won’t admit it. Relationships are part of what makes us human.

Moments that we can’t forget are often the ones that are most important to us, the good and the bad. We can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends. Our experiences, our relationships keep us sane, they make and keep us human.

Synthesis Reassess

We read everyday. All of us, no matter who we are. All the way from the president to preschool kids that are just learning. Even if we don’t realize it, reading is an important part if our lives. It’s how some of us get our news. It’s how some of us can free ourselves. It’s how some of us learn new things. Reading is an important factor in all of our lives and it can keep us entertained, there aren’t many downsides to it.

Recreational reading is something new to me this school year. I used to think it was a waste of time and that I didn’t need it, but that’s not the case anymore. I used to think it was boring, but I was just doing it wrong like Michael Carton says. (Source I) His tweet probably is true about a lot of people. There are a lot of people at school that think it’s a nerdy thing to do and I can understand why. It’s usually the “nerds” that are always reading and all the books aren’t worth time outside of school. But books that interest us are so much easier to read than those that are assigned to us by a teacher. The books that I’ve read that I haven’t found boring have become an important part of my life. They’ve taught me life lessons that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Like the fact that there can’t be a perfect society without sacrifice and don’t give up on the things that are important to you and follow your dreams no matter how difficult the journey is.

Now I know that some people will be skeptical about reading. (Source F) With each year that passes, reading rates drop more in most genres. People say things like “I never have time to read,” when really, in fact, yes you do. There’s the ride to school, the times you check Twitter, and even between passing periods when you can crack open a book really quick. Reading rates in America have dropped in recent years, and there really may not be a valid reason. I agree with Peter Hildick-Smith, (Source F) publishers need to find a way to attract readers. Doing this can increase the amount of reasons for there to be more readers. We have plenty of leisure hours throughout our day, we can make time. We could learn a life lesson within 5 minutes of reading a few pages of a book.

People will often say that they just can’t get into a book. Maybe they’re right, but I also think that they aren’t reading the right one. When we read the right one, it’s hard to put it down. Often times I can see myself in the book. (Source E) If we read books with advanced vocabulary, I think we can open so many doors to our own lives. We can see ourselves doing so many things we’d never thought we could do before. If we can feel the words we read there will be a better experience.

I’ve heard a saying that everyone can read the same book, but they don’t get the same story. I think this it true we may read the same words on the page, but a different movie plays in our head. I think this is why reading is important, we can let our imaginations run wild, we can free our mins from the everyday life that we live and go be a detective or a dragon trainer or an alien fighter. There are whole new worlds that we can explore without leaving our homes. there are so many lessons we can learn without going to school. We can get entertained without watching a movie or playing video games.