Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yes, it is possible that this happened at three in the morning...

"OK, guess what this one is. Baa-aaa-aaa-aaa!"

"A cow!"

"A Crocodile!"

"An Alligator!"

"No dumby, alligators have longer snouts and some of their teeth rest outside their mouth. That means it would make more of a 'Beeh-eeh-eeh-eeh' sound."

"Oh... sorry. gotta be a crocodile then."

Spring term? I kinda like it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Is what I should be doing. But I'm not. Because I'm sitting here typing this blog post about how I should be packing.

In the last five days, I have said goodbye to 90% of the people I know, with the expectation that I will not see any of them again for a minimum of two and a half years, possibly longer.

Tomorrow at noon, I'll get on a bus and drive up to Idaho to spend a much-needed restful weekend at my sister's. I'll be coming back on Monday, but it will be... different. Different because so many of the people who made BYU what it is for me will be gone.

And that's why I haven't started packing yet. Because once I start... I might eventually finish (4 in the morning though it may be). And when I finish, I leave. And when I leave, an entire chapter of my life, the chapter labeled "freshman year," will be over.

Well, I guess it's times like these when I "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Miracles

Last week I saw the power of the Priesthood. This week I've seen how much better my life works when I go with God's plan, and His help, instead of trying to figure things out on my own.

Saturday was the first day of finals. I took two, and did decently--not great, but well enough for their respective classes. 

Yesterday, Monday, I decided to take my Chem 113 final. Chem 113 is the freshman chemistry lab class--I got to use beakers and mix chemicals and burn my hands with acid, it was great! Anyway, I did horrifically on the final exam. I won't know my score for a few weeks, but I would be confident in saying it is my worst test so far, ever.

About 9/10 of the way through the chem final, I realized one thing that was horribly, horribly wrong with my testing experience. I had not started the test with a prayer. 

At BYU, there is a saying that the holiest building on campus is the testing center, because so many desperate, earnest prayers are offered up there. I actually think this is a wonderful thing. We should all ask God for help in our tests, in the Heber J. Grant testing center or wherever else we may be!

And I had completely forgotten that. I was taking this test with an attitude not so much of "How can I prepare myself to be an instrument in God's hands, with His help" as "Hey, lets go show everyone just how awesome Jason Ray is! It'll be fun!" (Hint: Jason Ray is not very awesome. Just a really little bit.)

This realization hit me too late for my chem final, but I went at my American Heritage final today with a different attitude. I made sure to consecrate not just my final, but my entire day, to God (as part of a larger effort to consecrate my entire life). My performance was correspondingly much better. 

Such a simple answer, yet so hard for me to grasp!

This is not the only reason I know God is better at all this than I am. I have had several things happen today that basically scream in my face "Jason, stop trying to do this on your own, just turn to God and it will turn out better than you can imagine!" 

I'll try to take my last final--my final final--with the same attitude I had today. And even if it doesn't turn out quite how I think I want it to, I know it will happen exactly as God does. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Of Priesthood Blessings and Choir Concerts

The forward to "Life of Pi" says that it is "a story that will make you believe in God." Tonight, I gained one of those stories for my very own.

Tonight was the University Choral choir concert. At the beginning of the semester, I was not planning on being in Choral; however, I thought about it and prayed about it and decided that it was the right thing for me to do, even though it would put me up to 18 credits.

This means that tonight was a night I had been preparing for and working towards for an entire semester.

Only one problem--Sunday night I came down with a bad cold that made my throat ache and burn at the same time,  made me wish I could lie in bed all day eating chicken noodle soup instead of going to classes. Singing? Out of the question.

Monday night I was reading in the scriptures about miracles. I came across a passage in Matthew: "And Jesus went all about Galilee...  healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." As I read that, a couple of things clicked.
a. Christ is really good at healing. Like, so good He kind of got a rep for it in His mortal life.
b. How many times have I heard it said that God wants to grant us our righteous desires?
c. I live within ten feet of five worthy Priesthood holders.
So all I had to do was get a Priesthood blessing and have some faith, and I would be healed to sing on Wednesday! I prayed to ask God how He felt about that plan. The feelings I got were very positive--yes, go for it, this is good, this is right. I asked two of my roommates to give me a blessing; I was blessed that I would be able to sing in the concert.

Two days later. I woke up this morning feeling a good deal better than I had the two days previous, but still not great. Yet, even though I could sing a few scales (very gently of course), I had one big problem--coughing fits. Periodically, throughout this entire day, I broke into massive coughing fits. These aren't cute little girly coughs, these are shake-my-entire-body-and-yours-too-if-you-stand-too-close coughs. The kind that make people duck for cover while they're walking down the hall.

I called my mom a little before noon to ask her opinion on my performing that night. She pointed out not only that my coughing fits could be hugely distracting to performers and audience alike, but that I might have been thinking about this the wrong way--not everyone gets healed. And that's not because God is lazy or spiteful, it's because He sees things more clearly than we do, and He knows what we really need. And sometimes what we really need is to get sick.

This was incredibly hard for me to accept. I had been working toward this night for an entire semester! I took 18 credits, devoted hours to practice and rehearsal every week, gave up things I would have liked to do, so that I could sing in this concert. And just like that, I was supposed to give it all up?

Well, yeah, if that's what God wanted. After a good 30 minutes on the phone with Mom, I resigned myself to not singing in the concert. I would buy a ticket and watch them instead. That way I would still be supporting the choir, even if I couldn't sing in it.

According to the syllabus for University Choral, the only way to be excused from singing in the concert is to talk to the director, Dr. Broomhead. Accordingly I went to our rehearsal 15 minutes early, accosted the director, and explained the situation. Then I asked if he still wanted me to sing in the choir.

"Does it hurt when you sing?"
"Then go ahead."
"Even if I start coughing?"
"If you cough in rehearsal, no problem, just step out until you stop. If you cough in the show... well, we'll just take our chances."

And so, just like that, I was singing in the show again.

The rehearsal was tough. As expected, I coughed. A lot. And couldn't really sing half of my usual range. I had to leave early to go to class, so I didn't get to touch base with Dr. Broomhead again until just before the show. As I walked in I asked one more time if he wanted me to sing, even if I started coughing.

"Yep! Just go for it!"

I ate a cough drop and prayed some more.

Here is where the miracle happened. From the moment I walked into the De Jong (pronounced De Yong) concert hall until I was already walking back to my dorm after the show, I did not cough once. Not only did I not cough, but I was actually able to sing! It wasn't the best singing I have ever done, but it was confident and powerful.

And oh, it was exhilarating. Performing in front of an audience--an audience that is rumored to have contained President Uchtdorf--was an experience I will not soon forget. Feeling the connection between myself, the rest of the choir, the conductor, and the audience was amazing. The new heights that we, the choir, rose to in response to the challenge of performing were awesome, inspiring. In between songs, I couldn't stop smiling a big, goofy smile.

And knowing that I was singing on a voice given to me by God, by the atonement of Jesus Christ, knowing that without a Priesthood blessing I would probably be sitting in the audience--way in the back of the audience so that my coughing fits wouldn't distract anyone--made it all the sweeter.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


These flowers are making me very happy right now.

This is my Women's Chorus man-fan shirt. The back says "Man enough to wear a flower." After last night's concert, I couldn't not get a shirt!

These flowers are right outside our window on a tree that leans out over the roof. 

(The picture is grainy because I took it through the screen.)
Spring is coming! It's a beautiful day outside--so beautiful I'm about to go study in the sun, just because I can--conference is on today, and life is wonderful.