Were you successful?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I never thought I would serve a full time mission.

I made ALOT of mistakes in my early adulthood, so when any type of desire to really step up and prepare for a mission developed, they were quickly overshadowed with feelings of inadequacy due to my past.

When I was 22 with the help of leaders who wouldn't give up on me and a huge push from heaven, I found myself as out in the mission field doing the Lords work.

The Atonement of God's only begotten became so real to me. I could actually feel it work, and the power that comes from truly using it to overcome past mistakes and challenges. It became the most precious thing to me. So precious that I wanted to actually tell EVERYONE about it. I also felt this tremendous obligation to please the Lord, and bring as many children that I could to the fullness of His gospel.

Looking back I actually feel like I did everything I could to fulfill my expectation as a missionary, but yet and I still faced failure. People that promised to read didn't. People who said we could meet didn't show up. There were even people who looked me in the eyes, and testified by the spirit, that they knew what they were taught was true, that didn't end up getting baptized.

Failure is super hard to deal with. Especially when you've done all you can.

My mission president addressed this in the most perfect way.

He asked us what Heavenly Father's actual goal was.

After a couple half right answers, my Mission President responded. "To bring EVERY SINGLE one of His children back to Him."

He rhetorically asked if we questioned whether or not Heavenly Father was doing all He could to make that happen. He then asked if we would consider Heavenly Father a failure?

Of course not.

When you do all you can to reach a righteous goal you are never a failure.

I had the opportunity last week to meet one of the most humble human beings on the earth. Tanner Mangum. This guy hasn't been back from his mission 6 months and he has had more press on him than the Kardashians these last two weeks. He just turned 22 and to be honest if that happened to me when I was 22, my head would have probably exploded from how big it got. Not Tanner, he was cool calm and collected. He talked to me like a friend, and was interested in who I was.

We all have called him Miracle Mangum for his last minute plays, but if you meet this guy I promise you will think its a miracle hasn't let any of this publicity go to his head.

In the game against UCLA (BYU - 23 UCLA - 24) he made some mistakes, he didn't make a last minute Hail Mary at the end like we all wanted, but nobody can question whether or not he and that BYU team gave it everything they had.

BYU we stand behind you.

When you give it your all for a good cause you are always successful.

I'm gonna be writing each Sunday again. If you want to follow this blog follow me on any social media (twitter, instagram, snapchat) as @jamesthemormon)

Any questions? email me at jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com

The field is white, ready to harvest, and I'm not a rapper.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

picture taken by @thesamwilder

Earlier this week I was invited to be on a podcast with This Week in Mormons

Although both Al and Geoff were hilarious and gracious enough to invite me to tell my story, the podcast's recording came with a few technical difficulties/sound glitches and I felt like I wasn't able to give you the full story nor give full credit where credit was due for everyone that helped make Restoration. 

Around 4 months ago I woke up with the strongest feeling to start making original music, and to have that original music tell the truths of the restored gospel. My initial reaction was .... um no. "Im not a rapper. That's not me." 

You've probably heard me almost annoyingly repeat .... "I'm not a rapper",  and I can understand any and all confusion, because if you are reading this the chances are also pretty high that you have heard me rap something. Here's how I like to explain it.

My father gets up everyday at 5am and rides the train to downtown Chicago for a couple hours each way reading his scriptures, the Wall Street journal and all things stock and finance. When he gets into his office, he proceeds to stare and click at a computer screen trading whatever it is he's buying or selling that day for like 10 -12 hours!? When he's not doing that he's being a husband or fulfilling his church High Council calling throughout the week and all day on Sunday. Occasionally, for fun and relaxation, he likes to go out into his garden on a Saturday and take care of his garden. 

Is my Father a gardener? Like, is that how you would introduce him? Is that what defines him? Is that who he is? I would argue no. He is so much more than that, that if you were to say "Hey this is Jim Curran the gardener", that would be really really weird and wouldn't make any sense. 

As serious as my father takes gardening, is as serious as I take music. After all the things I do in my life, I like to make some music. Its a hobby. Its therapeutic. But its not who I am. I have no desire to do shows. Ask anyone who knows me I can barely remember/recite my own lyrics. No plans to monetize the music or go on any tour. 

Do I rap, yes. Am I a rapper? No.

With that being said this prompting to do original music made me feel uncomfortable because it began to cross the line from hobby to more serious. So I chose to ignore it. But if you look at any prompting precedent, they don't just go away, they get stronger. So strong that I couldn't ignore it and it began to feel like a good idea and the right thing to do. 

For my first song I decided to start with the doctrine of the Restoration. It's the first thing you usually teach someone as a missionary, its the root of my testimony about God and Christ, and it just felt right. The only person I knew who made beats was my long time pal Radhames Gomez  also know as @frankzoojun. He sent me like 12 beats that I liked but when I heard that one, it was clear as clear could be that that was the one I was to use. 

Even though I found the right instrumental I kept procrastinating writing the song and again that prompting came-a-knocking. I wanted to do it right so I set aside a Sunday to get in the right mindset. I mean how do you right a good rap song about such a sacred topic? On my way to church that day Nick Larsen my ex girlfriend's brother invited me to come see him talk at his ward and sit with his family I haven't seen in a long time. Even though I was like a minute away from my ward building,  I hadn't seen them in a long time, so I flipped around and headed over. As sacrament begins they announce the theme is ENTIRELY on the RESTORATION. Not only that but I have yet to have a more powerful and edifying sacrament. I go home feeling ready and say a prayer asking Heavenly Father to tell me what to write because I honestly had no idea what I was doing. 

When I was figuring out who to sing the chorus, it was pretty clear that @jaywarrenn would be a good fit but I didn't realize until later that the Lord wanted him specifically. 

You know those stories of "golden investigators" where someone was found, taught, kept all the commitments, read prayed with faith and instantly knew it was true and then their whole family of 14 jumped in the water!? Well that never happened to me. My experience with following the Lord's will is never that easy. My investigators may have instantly known it was true, but out of nowhere after 10 years of never being asked to work Sundays, now had to work Sundays!? (Stuff like that) I can usually tell I'm on the right path when there are random and weird hiccups popping out of nowhere. The night I recorded my part of the restoration at  Nate Baldwin's Studio Jay had committed to be there too. He was running late so I just got started. 2 hours, 4 texts, and 3 calls later no response so we just had to call it. I tried calling or texting Jay almost every day for two weeks with no response. I didn't know what was going on because we were good friends. I wanted to get the song done so I started thinking about other people to sing on it, maybe my homie Mimi Knowles? Maybe Justin from the Connection? I thought about it but I kept getting a "NO... wait for Jay!" feeling which was super frustrating because I was actually worried that he might have died. After messaging Jay's wife and getting the confirmation that Jay was still breathing I just waited. 

Then one beautiful morning,  Jay resurfaced. All of Jay's friends got a message that he got "busy" and was sorry. (how you could be too busy to respond to 387 texts and calls from your worried friends.... idk) but he was here. He was alive, and we got the song recorded. 

Sam Wilder as always filmed and edited it,  Chance Clift mixed and mastered it and we released it on my Birthday. 

I had no idea what the response was going to be only that it needed to be done.

3 weeks later my sister sent me this screen shot from her friend currently serving a mission.

 D+C 4:4  "For behold the field is white already to harvest...."

What I was prompted to do was make a quality song that could be used as a mission tool. Looks like thats whats happening, and I couldn't be more happy.

This is just a testimony to me that God has given us all talents. Each and everyone of us has a God given talent, and its purpose is to do good,  bring others closer to Christ, and to spread the news of the Restored Gospel. 

I'm not saying go make rap videos. But seek out what it is, then live your life in a way that out Heavenly Father can prompt you what to do with it. 

I'm going to be releasing songs regularly from the missionary lessons and compiling them into a EP titled PMG. 

Thank you so much to Wain Myers,  Al fox, My Sistas in Zion, and friends and family for sharing the song.

The church is true. It just is. 

If you have any more questions email me at jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com

Heres the first PMG video - Restoration

Nothing feels better than Faith

Thursday, July 2, 2015

You know that story about the two toads?

One toad is put into a pot of hot water and immediately jumps out. The other one is placed in room temperature H20; the heat slowly turned up until the toad boils to a horrible doom.

You probably noticed I haven't blogged in forever, and honestly its because I felt like a giant hypocrite. I had slowly been cooking into a disgusting soup of apathy.

My testimony was never in question, I mean I would argue the truth of the Book of Mormon and tell you Joseph Smith was a prophet until I was blue in the face, but for some reason picking up my scriptures, kneeling down to pray before I went to bed, or showing up for church was like asking me to move a car with my bare hands. It became such a "task" that I didn't even try.

I knew the whole time what I should be doing, always making excuses like... "I'll do it tomorrow" or "I'll just go next week" knowing full well that my soul was trapped under that car and I was the only one who could move it.

The hard part about drifting into this state of mind is you leave a slippery slope of laziness behind you, and its a hard upward battle back to the top. This means you have to be super motivated to not give up and push though a path of habit you created naturally that wants nothing more than to drag you back to the bottom.

For me its was hitting a wall of failure over and over again in the bottom of this terrible soupy pit. I had goals. I had desires. I have dreams. And they just weren't being achieved where I was at. Ultimately I wanted a family. A wife thats loyal and dedicated, and kids I can shower with love like I never got. I realized that I'm spending all this time and money striking out on my own, where-as-if I do things the Lord's way he can put the PERFECT person for me right in my path.

So here I am down in the trenches looking up at what I want most in life; a family, smiling down at me the with Lord standing right next to them, the temple in the background, and each of them with an outstretched hand.

I don't want to say I'm out of the trenches yet but the "task" doesn't seem nearly as impossible.

I've been posting pictures of temples a lot lately. And yes temples are beautiful and I hope you all have enjoyed them, but honestly its mostly for me reminding me where I'm trying to get and what the Lord wants me to do.

If you have slipped into a pattern of apathy or laziness, I know you might feel content, but I promise you living the way the spirit is pleading with you to live will bless you, and get you far closer to your goals.

Nothing feels better than Faith.

If you want to follow me on instagram ---- https://instagram.com/jamesthemormon/?hl=en

Also please email me jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com I want to know your thoughts and questions. I'm going to try and start blogging again every Sunday so please hit me up with topics you'd like to hear about : ) Love ya.

Married, Divorced, and New Love all in the same year . . . here's what I learned

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I got married a year ago today.

If someone came up to me on my wedding day and told me one year from that day I'd be cuddled up with another woman I'd tell them to go to hell.  

2014 was a heart wrenching roller coaster of emotions of every kind and every extreme. There were times so hard that eating was the most impossible task, and times where I literally thought my heart was being torn apart.

I have also never been happier. I've shared tender moments and have drawn closer to people who love me, and interestingly enough have created new and long lasting friendships with individuals I never would have met if I'd never got divorced. 

This year I've learned more about myself, and about what I want out of life, love, and friendship than I have in all the previous years combined. I'd be lying if I said I'm completely over what happened but I'm a-heck of a lot better than I've ever been since; and things get better every single day. Because I think I would have appreciated a post like this long before I got divorced, I'm going to impart some of the nuggets I've learned with whoever thinks they could benefit. 

Dating - 

Because typically arranged marriages are socially unacceptable and from what I hear awkward, we're left to our own devices to find companionship and move on to that next step. For Mormons there is a little more pressure to get married, 1 - There is such an expectation within our culture; (If you're back from your mission "its time to get married". If you're a decently attractive adult young lady "its time for you to get married".) 2 - Also, typically we abstain from sexual intimacy. and Although I don't condone getting married to have sex, it does play a part in the urgency we feel to pull the trigger and get engaged. God gave us some pretty natural and strong urges which He encourages us to act on within the bounds of marriage. 

That brings me to my biggest piece of advice within dating. DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO AVOID CREATING A FOUNDATION OF PHYSICAL INTIMACY. My logic comes from personal experience. Long lasting relationships are built on friendship, fun, and communication at any level. And in marriage I believe this couldn't be more important. The more time you spend on developing that friendship and practicing communication without the distraction of fondling each other, the stronger the bond and happier the marriage you will have. Too often we get too intimate too fast; and we find ourself having wasted a years worth of investment while we sit and question whether we actually like the person we're dating. All of that can be avoided if while dating we avoid sinful distractions and utilize that time to see if you could have a lifetime / eternity of friendship, fun, and smooth communication. 

My last piece of advice within dating hits home for me pretty hard. DO NOT TREAT DATING LIKE A MARRIAGE. Dating is to test the water. Committing to be someones boyfriend or girlfriend is not the same as committing to be their husband and wife. That seems obvious right? Then why do we treat them almost as if they are synonymous. How often do we see couples who fight, bicker, and can barely communicate "keep trying" because of their commitment as a gf or bf? Thats silly. The greatest piece of advice I've received since being divorced; which I intend on sticking to, is that dating should be easy and fun. Be yourself and encourage your bf/gf to be his/her self. If you find yourself feeling obligated to change or lower your bar / expectations for what you want our of a spouse its a solid sign that this probably won't work out. Both parties should be able to feel comfortable being their self without reservation. If thats not happening with your current bae, dump em' there is someone better suited for you out there. I promise. (You'll thank me later)

Marriage -

Dating should be selfish. Critique that person hard and see if they are exactly who you want. During dating make it all about your happiness while being yourself. If you've tested the waters and you're absolutely sure that this person and you are right for each other; its time to get to work. This commitment you've made is more important any commitment you've made to another human being and the most important commitment you will make to your Heavenly Father. Do not treat this lightly and forget yourself. Your priorities of thought processes should be 1 - what does God expect from me right now? and then - 2 how can I please my spouse? When children come into play they will be your third priority, all while forgetting yourself completely. In an ideal situation both parties would act like this, but we're human and its easy to forget what we should actually be doing. Thats fine, as long as we can recognize we're veering off course, repent, and get back on. If you've done dating right, you should know how to communicate your disagreements and concerns without fighting; and resolve these issues in a peaceful manner. If you haven't figured communication out amongst yourselves, you should tirelessly be focused on it. Communication can make or break your marriage.

Divorce -

I'm sorry that it got to this point. Nobody wants this but sometimes its the only way towards happiness. Even if one spouse is willing to work on it, if the other isn't, there is nothing you can do. Both have to be willing to work in order for a marriage to succeed. This is going to be awful and painful in every way, but you HAVE to let this happen. Be as respectful as you possibly can to your spouse during this process. Remember while the divorce is being finalized they are still yours. And for a lot of Mormons even after the divorce is legally finalized, you are still sealed to that person in God's eyes. Treat that person with respect. Like any painful wound you have to feel the pain to get better. Deal with the problem head on instead of looking for other methods to temporarily numb what you're feeling. Those might "help" in the short term, but will always pop their ugly head out down the road. Its best to fix the problem when it occurs to secure a proper recovery. Do things that make you happy. Its ok to be selfish again. Make a list of everything that brings you true happiness and do at least 2 of those things every day. This will help more than you know. 

Click here to watch my series on #Lifeafterdivorce for more help > CLICK HERE

Eventually, when you are ready, it will come time to start dating again. Don't repeat the same mistakes, and don't expect that any relationship will end up with the same outcome. (That kind of thinking is poisonous)  If you are diligent, smart, and use God to guide you you can find another companion to share your happiness with. I promise. 

Life After Divorce : Episode 4 - Callie and Steele

Monday, November 24, 2014

Todays episode dives into the marriage of these two individuals as they share their insight on their relationships, and give advise to anyone who may be going through what they did or something similar.

(If you would like to share your story, or just talk please email me at jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com)

Callie @calliecrofts and her bf Zac @zacrbryant

Here is a link to their band "My Fair Fiend" >>> http://www.myfairfiend.com/

Steele @steeleladylove 

Heres a link to his band "Van Lady Love" >>> www.vanladyove.com

Life After Divorce : Episode 3 - Millie and Dallin

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This week we catch a glimpse of Millie and Dallin. Millie is a Single Mother who's ex-husband is currently in jail, while Dallin shares his struggle of being a single dad before finding his new wife.
Both have had to overcome being cheated on by their spouse, but share their story to give hope to you that there is Life After Divorce

(If you want to share your story or just want to talk, email me at jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com)

Photo Credit : @shleeeeeeeeee Video Credit : @samuelthemanuel 

Millie and her littles Frank and Apollo

Dallin with his new wife Linda and two boys Cruz and Antonio

Life After Divorce : Episode 2 - Chelsie and Maddie

Thursday, November 6, 2014

(If you want to also share your story, or if you just want to talk email me at jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com)

Videography: @samuelthemanuel Photography: @shleeeeeeeeee

Chelsie @chellybelly33 and her new husband Bedford @bedforddort with their son Jax

Maddie @madds_10 check out her blog --- www.withallourhearts.com

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