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They say that when the student is ready, the master will appear. Well, I am by no means a master; rather, I still feel like the perpetual student who is doing his best to study for one quiz only to find that life has another one prepared for him!
That said, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Maybe too much; I have been known to over-analyze and even trip myself up by thinking too much for my own good.
But I do that. My patriarchal blessing says I have a "keen, alert mind" which is sometimes both a blessing and a curse. And recently, because of my own station in the dating world, I have had to really take a look at myself in the mirror. Some good, long, hard looks. And I haven't always liked what I've seen. It can be empowering, yet a little embarrassing when you notice just how full of the "natural man" you may be. While sometimes the best things for us are those that bring about the toughest changes, they are still hard to make and I am humbly striving to make them the best that I can in order to make the most of this life and a recent opportunity that Heavenly Father brought into my life.
That said, here are three general observations that I have had lately about some common struggles that the midsingles community has seen or currently wrestles with. We often hold to the belief that God will bring the right person into our life; that is a good exercise in faith, but we may actually be preventing this occurrence through our own behaviors, beliefs, expectations and self-preserving patterns.
I do not mean to sound judgmental here because in reality I have had to deal with all three to some extent in my own heart and life. What I am writing is to both help and strengthen myself and also to perhaps help you take a look at some mental habits, patterns, expectations or fears that are holding you back.
Several years ago I was a member of a young single adult ward that was known across the United States as "The 90210 Ward" and "The Fashion Show." I remember my first few weeks in the ward, I would sit in the chapel before Sacrament and watch my brothers and sisters walk in as if they were headed to Fashion Week in Milan. Suits that cost $1,000 or more, outfits that must have been carefully cultivated to match both style and body type. While I wasn't exactly a starving student, I couldn't believe how much money was spent on clothes by these amazing men and women in their desire to stand out from the crowd. Yes, it is part of the dating ritual, to look your best to catch the eye and appear healthy, successful, stylish and even sexy. Shoes that cost more than some people make in a week, handbags that cost several day's worth of pay and enough jewelry to make Mr. T proud.
Having grown up in, around and immersed in sports since I was a little kid, The Finish Line has always been a big part of my life. Whether it was when I raced Junior Dragsters on the Bonneville Salt Flats and at the old Bonneville Speedway or racing bobsleds for over twenty years, racing towards that goal required extreme focus, quick reflexes, an agile mind and so much more.
Kind of like life, right?
As a keynote and motivational speaker I often compare our life's journey to a bobsled ride. There are thrilling rushes, frustrating setbacks, times of courage and moments of fear. Sometimes you hear the voice of the cheering crowds and others you worry that your big mistake is out there for all to see. Some races you win and some you lose, but you learn from both outcomes.
But at the end of the day, win or lose, and I emphasize this when speaking to youth groups and sports teams, you always, always shake your opponents hand and thank them for the game, because without them, there can be no competition.
I'm currently working on a few keynote speeches that I have to give this Summer and as i was writing about this very topic, I had a strange though: will I shake the Devil's hand once I cross the eternal finish line?
Now, I know what you're thinking: "He's the bad guy, the villain. He's tried to ruin your life and tempt you and lead you astray. He is full of hate and malice and loves to see you miserable. Why would you EVER shake his hand?"
Because he is going to help me reach the finish line in an even better state than I could on my own. Follow me on this.
Social Media: noun, websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
With over 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts around the world, social media has become a way of life. And maybe too much so. I mean, how many cat videos, food images and duck faces do we need to see each week?
But we love to share, don't we? Teens spend an average of 3 hours a day on social media, 30% of all time spent online is on social media, and our total time spent on social media beats time spent eating/drinking, socializing, and grooming combined. In fact, it is estimated that people will spend an average total of 5 years and 4 months of their lifetime on social media. Wow. That's a bit much.
In fact, the study of social media addiction is a very real issue nowdays with programs being designed to help users tame their dependence on likes, shares and comments.
Well, I don't want to get into all that. What I DO want to do, however, is poke a little fun at all the, well, pokes and shares and comments and posts. So I created a weekly Social Media Bingo Sheet for your to use and hopefully enjoy a bit of a laugh at how silly we as human beings can be online. Don't get me wrong, I like social media as much as anyone for its ability to connect, but we do have some entertaining habits and trends as a society. So download or print your Social Media Bingo Card out and have some fun this week!
Dear LDS Midsingle Competitors:
You are hereby officially invited to attend this year's Dating Games being held right in your own city! These exciting events will challenge your intellect, patience, inner strength, determination, motivation, and perhaps your very sanity. But, I can promise you that if you hold true and faithful to your core values, focus on your goals and keep moving towards the finish line and exercise all the faculties within your possession that the prize at the end of this "race" is more than worth it.
Along the way you will meet your fellow competitors on the field of play. Many of these individuals have given their best in life and found themselves here at the same station you are in; be patient with them, and remember that they are human beings who come to the table with flaws and strengths, courage and fears, love and pains. That said, we remind all competitors that cheating, unsportsmanlike conduct, and unnecessary roughness of any type will not be tolerated. Indeed, those who attend these Games merely to play for their own amusement at the expense of others will find themselves answering to the highest authority, our chief judge.
Now, that said, remember that these Games are meant to be fun and productive; don't overthink them or place all your value in their outcome. You were meant for wonderful things in this life and your participation in these events are just a piece of that journey. While we all dream of wearing those special rings, know that your day in the sun will come and that all the glory you have worked for all these years will be yours.
It was happening again. No matter how hard I tried to avoid it, change it, deter the circumstances from occurring, it was happening again. They were going to ask THAT question, the one that I had smiled and shrugged my shoulders at so often throughout my life, the same inquiry you get from friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, teachers, the grocery store clerk, your mailman, strangers on the street and visiting aliens from outer space: "Why are you single?" Even Facebook, that beloved social network/big brother, asks our status. "Single"; thanks for pointing that out, Mark Zuckerberg.
It's a question that has no great answer. We may say, "Oh, I'm focusing on me (or my family or career or education) right now", but even those are not satisfying responses for others (plus, President Spencer W. Kimball was pretty direct about marriage-avoiding rationalizations). Others may smile and nod, yet the look in their eyes belies continued concern, as if we may actually be "menaces to society". It's as if our single-hood is a problem to be solved, a disease to be cured. In all seriousness, these loving parties usually ask because they care and want us to be happy and we should demonstrate gratitude and humility for their desires to see us blessed with love.
Yes, we can live a happy, productive, and satisfying life as singles. And yet, not a week passes that I do not hear about midsingles' plights when it comes to dating and relationships (or think of my own). There are tears, anger, frustration, disappointment, discouragement, plenty of wisecracks, some depression and far too often a resignation to living the single life because "dating is too hard" and "I'll never get married (or re-married)." So yes, we throw ourselves into careers, educations, service projects, the kids, talents, hobbies, and so on. We tell ourselves that we are doing OK because we still attend the midsingle wards and trips, the cruises or the dances, not to mention the fantastic conferences; we like the "fun" stuff of our single-life culture, but if we were being truly honest with ourselves, they may be good activities we partake in without really wanting the potentially-there solution to our single status. As my friend who visited from out of town asked at a recent midsingles activity, "How are all the beautiful and handsome people not married? My ward has sixty people. This valley has thousands of potential dates for them to pick from."
We enjoy our incredible friendships and the good memories we share along the way, but my friend was hinting at a hidden truth that many singles do not want to look at: we could be avoiding the level of dating that has the specific intention of finding someone to marry. We play the game without a committed desire for the game to end, like neighborhood kids playing ball on Summer's last night before school starts.
As an American bobsled competitor and returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, beloved speaker Jeremy C. Holm understands what it takes to serve as a Champion of the Lord in His service.
In this inspiring and motivating audio fireside talk, Jeremy utilizes his on-ice experiences and insights from the scriptures to coach future missionaries on how they can confidently reach their highest potential through obedience, study, service, faith, humility, and continual effort.
“The youth of the Church constantly amaze me with their spiritual insights and the strength of their testimonies. The Lord truly has held some of his most powerful champions in reserve to come forth in this time to take His work forward. Their hearts are willing, their spirits are ready. This audio fireside is designed to take their mission preparations to the next level and ‘raise the bar’ in all aspects of their labors.
“In many ways, preparing for a mission requires more discipline than a bobsled competition. Youth today need to have rock-solid testimonies, understand the doctrine and know how to follow the Spirit’s guidance in order to be effective in the Lord’s work.
"The phrase 'Etiam si omnes, ego non' comes from the scripture Mathew 26:33 where Peter declares, 'Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.' It means that we will stand as witness of Christ in all time and in all places.
"The Lord requires is a willing heart and mind. Young men and women who want to serve as champions of the Lord will have to dig deep and rely on faith to teach with power. This audio talk is designed to give them the tools and foundations necessary to develop their divine potential as missionaries and to inspire them to a deeper faith."
-Jeremy C. Holm
About Jeremy C. Holm:
Jeremy took his first bobsled ride at age 17 and has never looked back. During the ensuing years, Jeremy has continued in this fast-paced sport while also pursuing a degree in Print Journalism. He also served his mission to Honduras and Belize.
Having spent time as the Head Coach for the U.S. Adaptive Bobsled Team and Athletic Director for the National Adaptive Sliding Sport Association, Jeremy continues his love for the ice as the pilot and team captain for Team Phoenix Bobsled. He has grown up surrounded by Olympic and world-class athletes and through these associations Jeremy has learned invaluable lessons which he often speaks on and teaches to a wide variety of audiences. Jeremy volunteers much of his time with other athletes where their influence can help support vital causes.
Jeremy lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. For firesides, speaking engagements, seminars, and public or corporate appearance requests he can be reached at: www.JeremyCHolm.com
On December 25, 1944 a long line of ragged American paratroopers of the 11th Airborne "Angels" Division made their way down a slippery jungle trail. They had been fighting non-stop since November 22 and estimates state that the Angels destroyed over 5,700 of the enemy. They were hungry, tired, and ready for rest. They had buried their dead by the trail-side, marking graves the best they could, and all were suffering from undernourishment with ulcers on their feet and legs.
They slowly, yet carefully, plodded along the trail, ready to put the demands and dangers of combat behind them. As each trooper moved forward, lost in his own thoughts, a quite whisper slowly made its way down the line.
Heaven gained another angel on October 13, 2016 at 11:04pm, Eastern Standard Time. Please consider reading his official obituary here, but first let me tell you a little about that angel, my hero, 1st Lieutenant Andrew J. Carrico III, who would have turned 99 this Halloween had God not called his servant home.
He was not my biological grandfather, but that never mattered to him. Nor me. He was the man who taught me to swim in the ocean off the South Carolina coast. He taught me to dive off the diving board on Hilton Head Island and took us on bike rides around the gold courses when they lived there. He stole our silverware during dinner and hid it when we weren't watching. He allowed us to sit on the back screened porch during their terrific thunder storms and he used to transport the squirrels he caught to the other side of the island and let them go. He taught us how to dig for sand dollars and squirt water jets out of our hands. He taught us to watch for different birds in their kitchen and he loved his tuna sandwiches. He was kind, loving, and strong. Grandy (never Grandpa to us) was courage embodied and taught me so much about what it means to be a husband, a father, a grand father and a hero.
Grandy would never accept that term, "hero", but a hero he was, to me, to you and to the world. Like so many others during World War II he answered the call to serve, to defend liberty, to fight for what is right through the jungles of the Pacific. When I asked him how he felt on his first jump as a paratrooper, one of the United States' most elite soldiers, he said, "Scared; but you had to go." He fought the forces of Imperial Japan through the jungles of Leyte, he fought through the streets of Manila, on beaches and in the hills. He was wounded by a Japanese machine gunner and lost his ring finger and the bullet lodged in his shoulder. Grandpa was tough, brave, efficient, and a natural born leader. From everything I have studied about his military experience he was concerned for his men, calculated each mission carefully and never shrank from his duty in the line of fire. You can read more about his war experience in this article or at the bottom of this post you'll find an audio interview I did with him a few years ago. Please take a moment and listen to it in his honor.
He had seen so much in war that during a hurricane one time on the East Coast Grandy fell asleep while everyone else in the house stayed awake terrified. Grinny woke him up and said, "Andy, if we have to go through this storm you're going to be awake with me!"
There were many times in my life when I was afraid I was facing, when I was not sure how to proceed. Times when I felt lonely or even perhaps unloved. But Grandy and Grinny (my grandma) would send a card or call. I hope this does not sound cliche, but sometimes I would ask myself what Grandy would do. I know he wasn't perfect, but he was the perfect grandfather to me. I wish I had told him that more. I wish I had called more, written more emails or letters, even done video chats which I meant to teach Grinny how to do, but just never made it happen.
I believe that tonight he is being greeted by his comrades in arms, by all his friends from over the years, and by his family who went before him. I imagine he is receiving a hero's welcome down the streets of Heaven in a way no earthly parade could ever match. Most of all, I believe he is being embraced by our Savior, Jesus Christ, who we both have strong faith in, and by our Father in Heaven who watches over us all.
Grandy belonged to the 11th Airborne Division, the Angels. As such, Heaven has gained another Angel to give the forces of evil as much Hell as possible. I love you, Grandy. Please watch over us and be my own personal Guardian Angel. Don't forget to polish your boots, Lieutenant. We need you to fight for us now. Until I make the "final jump" as see you again, God be with us both.
When Grandpa Reports to Heaven
by Jeremy C. Holm
There are people who believe
that angels don't fall.
But let me tell you of one angel,
who always stood tall.
We knew him as "Grandy,"
our grandpa was he.
1st Lieutenant Andrew J. Carrico.
he was our hero, you see.
He defended the world,
from the forces of evil.
As U.S. Army paratroopers,
these angels fought like devils.
Across the Pacific,
they fell from the skies.
They fought in streets and on beaches
and in jungles full of flies.
With two purple hearts
and two bronze stars,
he was a leader of heroes,
and commanded them far.
After the war ended,
he lived a long life.
And my beloved grandma,
he made her his wife.
He taught me to swim,
and dive in the pool.
He called every birthday,
Grandpa was amazingly cool.
He always stood firm,
he always stood tall.
in my eyes, then and now,
He never could fall.
No matter the storm,
Grandy never did break nor bend.
But this life is fleeing,
and we all know it will end.
on this beautiful earth!
Now his spirit's in Heaven,
and rest his eternal berth.
He's reported to St. Peter, Sir,
his former comrades saluted and embraced.
And in God's loving care,
there's a smile on the Lord's face.
A hero's welcome he was given,
a crown of glory he has earned.
his spirit is with us always,
our hearts within us burn.
Heaven gained another angel,
a warrior of truth and light.
And now in his God's service,
for each of us he'll fight.
He's taken his final jump,
on the final flight he can be seen.
And while we say goodbye to grandpa,
he enjoys Heaven's canteen!
So throw one back for me, Grandy,
although I do not drink.
Until I die, a day won't go by,
that of you I do not think.
*Note: This essay is the seventh of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
My dear friends, I know it has been a few weeks (months?) since my last post and for that I apologize. This Summer has been, well, shall we say a little hectic. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever faced a period as difficult as this one has been. In a way, I understand what Rocky felt like when he was fighting Drago in "Rocky IV"; it was just punch after punch after punch.
At the risk of sounding like a whiny baby, there have been days, even weeks, where I was not sure I could keep going. I wanted to throw in the towel in moments, moments when the fears or tears were almost too much. Despite my attempts to dig deep into faith and optimism and trust in God,...life has almost felt like it was repeating Drago's words to Rocky when he said, "I must break you."
Maybe I'm not as strong as the world thinks, or as I thought. Despite training for the Olympics, publishing books, speaking on stage, graduating college and all the "great works" that I've tried to do...I'm still 100% human. And as the punches kept coming, as the adversities kept growing, as the fears rolled over me like waves, as the dark nights grew darker... I guess I felt like the prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail when he cried out, "Oh, God, where art thou?" And while I know that God was helping me make changes, to grow, to leave old ways behind, and that for that I should drop to my knees in gratitude (which I have), there is also the truth that my soul, my heart, even my body and mind have felt pushed beyond their limits.
I also know that many strong, beautiful souls in this world can relate. Maybe you can. Maybe it is your coworker or roommate or friend or a family member who feels the weight of some burden on their shoulders. And that is ok; we are in this life to be tested, and to be tested you have to have resistance and opposition. But that does not mean that we have to do it alone. Ever.
*Note: This essay is the fifth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
As an LDS midsingle, I have heard quite a bit of talk about "walls" lately. I don't mean Donald Trump's Mexico Wall, Pink Floyd's album, or even the Great Wall of China. No, these walls are of a more personal nature for each of us as human beings and children of God.
I am, of course, referring to those emotional and mental walls that form around our hearts.
As someone who is all too familiar with such walls, I have spent the past few years seeking out the right tools to break down some of my own. Contrary to popular (unpopular?) opinion, dating is not easy for me (I blame it on the cultural Oklahoma/Utah conflicts). Like many of you, when asked "Why are you not married yet?", I have no honest response (although many pithy ones that I do not verbally express). There are a myriad of ways to respond: it could be Heaven's timing (for which I'd love a calendar), I haven't found the right "one" (no, I don't believe in a soul-mate), or a thousand other "reasons" it could be. Chances are it is a combination of many of them; only you and the Lord can know what those particulars may be.
But one factor that could be contributing (in part) to some of the singleness, yours and mine, are these darn walls around our hearts. I don't like them, you don't like them, none of us like them. And yet, due to past hurts, current fears of rejection, perhaps previous abandonment or abuse or whatever other trauma we endured, we have them. I do, you do, we all do. They don't make any of us "broken", they make us mortal.