The Power of Gratitude

I am very grateful for my garden right now. I was about to go to bed after a long day at work (finishing a project that doesn't really have much to do with my actual "job," feeling the stress slowly run from my shoulders and neck, then sensing the stress return as my boss says "Oh, since you're so good at this kind of stuff, how about doing this as well? I know it's not part of your job, but...") when I remembered my ớt (chili) plant was wilting a bit this afternoon. I grudgingly started watering the back "yard" (if I can call a 7x11 porch a "yard") and halfway through felt 100% better. Had I neglected the thought to water (or if I didn't have a garden at all), I would have gone to bed with my neck and back just as stiff as it was when I left work at 5. Now, instead of going to bed, I'm blogging about gratitude.

On a more serious note, I received an email from a friend that reiterated the power of gratitude in changing one's life for the better. She recently experienced a great loss in her life and is still trying to cope with the feeling of sadness and pain and even guilt. However, despite the darkness that seems to encompass her, she ends her email with this: "But I know everything will work its way out somehow. I am grateful for everything that God has given me..." [including the opportunity for growth that this experience provides.] It struck me how much effort and courage it takes to articulate that statement when resolution and healing seem so distant. But it is that very courage that positions a person beyond the limited human capacity to cope. It is the acknowledgement that there is a higher power steering this human experience, that it's not up to fate but that the trials we face in life are there to make us stronger. When we understand that principle, we are imbued with the power to overcome, and I've felt that power and it's beyond anything I could ever muster myself.

I think the underlying principle here is faith. According to Alma, faith is "not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." So that means that we've got to bring ourselves to hope for that end result, to hope for the future blessings that will come as a result of our current suffering, push past that human tendency to become bitter and cynical and forget our gratitude for what we have. Think of the power that is lost (sounds like physics, maybe it's not that far off) when someone says "I'll believe it when I see it." or "My life will never heal." They are instantly cutting all connections to the power that comes with faith. Why do I keep saying power? Because that person who says "Things will work out somehow" is equipped with the power to act without the baggage of doubt or fear.

Thanks, my friend, for reminding me (by your example) that gratitude is the best antidote for suffering. I pray that you will have the power to make it through this difficult time and that you won't have to put on a happy face to hide your sadness inside anymore, but that your happy face will be a reflection your happy soul.

Ok, now time to water the front yard...


Why I love my wife

She was out doing errands when I got home so I did up a little dinner and ended up eating it alone because I was so hungry. Why do I love my wife? Because when she got home, instead of getting a new bowl for her dinner she just grabbed the one I had used with out even rinsing it and piled it high with salad and pan-fried pork. One bowl to clean. Man, I love that woman.


Music and Nephi

Music has a power to move me that very few other things have. Often, my most profound thoughts and promptings, those things that transcend my own level of knowledge or experience, come to me while I'm listen to powerful music. Either that or when I'm in the shower.

This song is called "I Love the Lord," which I first heard last April during General Conference. The lyrics are based on Nephi's great soliloquy (2 Nephi 4:16-35) which I've always found incredibly powerful anyway, since he's lamenting about the sins that so easily beset him and I think I spend most of my life doing that. The great Nephi who builds a bow and a boat and a whole nation out of nothing but the Lord's guidance suddenly becomes human in this chapter, and the raw emotion he expresses makes me feel like I'm reading his personal journal. So when I heard his words put to music, and to the tune of Be Still, My Soul which holds a place close to my heart anyway, I was transported.

I've added the song to my playlist, please take a listen:

I Love the Lord, BYU Men's Choir, April 2007 General Conference

p.s. The lyricist for the song has commented on the song here. Definitely stop by - it's great.


Little life lessons for Aug and Sept

When you go to hold your wife's hand, always take a glance to make sure it's her standing behind you instead of her friend.

It is impossible to buy bananas at Costco and eat them all before they go bad.

Orange County can get as hot as Vietnam, but that doesn't mean you can grow na bơ or măng cục or chôm chôm.

Just because you've done it one hundred times before doesn't mean you can bunny hop your 30-year-old road bike off a curb without repercussions (pictures to follow).

Even though you think no one reads your blog, there might just be someone who does. And they might start their own.

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)