Apr 30, 2014

Prophets of God (FHE)

Family Home Evening was pretty awesome this week.  My friend Angela and her sons joined us.  It was really great to have a larger group for this lesson.  The lesson was on Prophets of God, chapter 9 of the Gospel Principles manual.

Song:  We sang song #134 from the Primary Children's Songbook, Latter-Day Prophets.   I pointed to each of the prophet's pictures as we sang their name.  It goes as follows:

Latter-day prophets are: number one,
Joseph Smith; then Brigham Young;
John Taylor came third, we know;
Then Wilford Woodruff; Lorenzo Snow;
Joseph F. Smith (remember the F);
Heber J. Grant; and George Albert Smith;
David O. McKay was followed by Joseph Fielding Smith,
Then Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball,
Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter,
Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson.
These are the latter-day prophets.

Lesson and Activity: I got the idea for this lesson from Latter-day Homeschooling.  Before the lesson, I pitched a tent in our living room.  I taught the whole lesson inside the tent, which also worked as our activity.  The kids absolutely loved the novelty of being in a tent in the house.  We discuss the purpose of a tent.  How does a tent help us? Tents provide shelter from the hot burning sun, they give protection from the wind and rain.  They place a barrier between us and the creepy crawly things out in the world, that might harm us and cause great fear.  Likewise our prophets tell us what our Heavenly Father wants us to know, to keep not only our bodies safe, but our spirits as well.   There is safety in following the Prophets.  If we will obey their words we will find protection and shelter from the things that will harm our spirits.  We will have a barrier between us and the deceptions of the world.  We are blessed to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. where we believe in and sustain a living prophet of God

Prophets are God's representatives on the Earth.  God communicates to the church through His prophets.  When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were talking (D&C 1:38).  Prophets are also a special witness of Jesus Christ.  They can receive revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit, and they can foretell coming events so the world may be warned. A true prophet is always chosen by God and called through proper priesthood authority (Articles of Faith 1:5).  Through the ages, God has called prophets to lead mankind.  There have been prophets on the earth since the days of Adam.  we have a living prophet on the earth today.  He has the right to revelation for the entire church.  He holds the "keys to the kingdom", which means he has the authority to direct the entire church and kingdom of God on the earth (Matthew 16:19).

We should do the things the prophets tell us to do for a prophet will never be allowed to lead the church astray.  We should sustain the Lord's prophet.  We can do this by praying for him, studying his words (General Conference messages are a great way to do this), and follow his inspired teachings completely (D&C 21:4-5).  Great blessings follow obedience to the prophet. (D&C 21:6).  We are blessed in this insecure world to have a prophet through whom the Lord reveals His will.

To conclude this lesson, I made sure the tent faced the television which I had playing talks from General Conference, the words of the prophets.  We need to make sure we "pitch-our tents" toward the prophet, for through him we hear the words and guidance from the Lord.  As long as we are facing the prophet and the Lord, and not the world, we will receive light, knowledge, and eternal blessings.

Apr 25, 2014

Praying to Our Heavenly Father (FHE)

Family Home Evening this week was on Chapter 8 of the Gospel Principles manual, Praying to Our Heavenly Father.  June already loves to pray, to the extent where she will just jump right in as someone else starts praying, so I thought this was a great lesson to teach her why we pray.  This is a longer lesson than I usually teach, but I felt it was important to ensure June understands prayer more fully.

Song:  We sang song #12 from the primary Children's Songbook, A Child's Prayer.  This was one of my favorite songs from when I was in primary, so it was delightful to sing it with my daughter.  It goes as follows:

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev'ry child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
"Suffer the children to come to me."
Father, in prayer I'm coming now to thee.
Pray, he is there;
Speak, he is list'ning.
You are his child;
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav'n.
Lesson:  Jesus taught us that, "Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name" (3 Nephi 18:19).  Prayer is one of the greatest blessing we have while we are here because through prayers, we can talk to Heavenly Father and receive His guidance every day!  Prayer is a sincere, heartfelt talk with Heavenly Father, and we only pray to Him (Exodus 20:3-5).  Prayer helps us to draw closer to God.  Everything we do, say, and think is influenced by our prayers.
We should pray for strength to resist the temptations of Satan (D&C 10:5).  We should pray to repent, confess our sins to Heavenly Father, and ask His forgiveness (Alma 38:14).  We should pray for the Lord's guidance and help in our daily lives.  We should pray for our family, friends, anyone who needs help, leaders, our work, and our daily activities.  We should pray for protection from our enemies (Alma 34:17-27).  We should also pray to tell Heavenly Father we love Him and to thank Him for everything He has blessed us with (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

We can pray whenever we want!  We can pray silently in our minds or vocally.  We can pray by ourselves, with our family, with our friends, and in church (3 Nephi 18:21).  We should pray in the morning when we wake up, at night before we go to sleep, and before every meal (Alma 34:21).  We can pray when we are sad and want to feel comfort.  We can pray when we are happy to be thankful for our happiness.  We can pray when we need to make a decision, or when someone needs help.  We should pray even when we don't feel like praying (2 Nephi 32:8-9).  We can pray always (D&C 10:5)

We should start our prayer by stating Heavenly Father's name like, "My Father in Heaven" or "Dear Heavenly Father."  We then should thank Him for anything we are thankful for, especially all the blessings He has given us.  Then, we should ask Him for blessings, strength, guidance, protection, comfort--anything we or those we are praying for need to live righteously.  We should end our prayers in Jesus' name by saying, "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."  As we pray to Heavenly Father, we should tell Him what we really feel in our hearts, confide in Him, ask Him for forgiveness, plead with Him, thank Him, and express our love for Him.  We should not just repeat meaningless words and phrases (Matthew 6:7-8).  We need to remember that His will be done because sometimes we don't know what is best for us.

Our sincere prayers are always answered.  Sometimes the answer may be no, and sometimes the answer is yes and we have a warm comfortable feeling about what we should do (D&C 9:8-9).  Sometimes the answer is wait.  The Lord sometimes answers our prayers through other people, and sometimes He helps us answer our prayers ourselves.  We need to learn to recognize the Lord's answers to our prayers in our own lives.
June loved playing with the cup phones.
Activity: To show June that prayer is a way to communicate with Heavenly Father, we made paper cup phones.  She really enjoyed hearing Mommy talk to her through the cup.  I asked her to tell me what she is thankful for, then I asked her to tell me what she wants.  In this manner, we were able to talk about things June could pray to Heavenly Father for.  After the cup activity, June got to color a prayer flip chart which describes how to pray.  She loves coloring and she liked to see her picture turn into a game.

Prayer flip chart

Apr 23, 2014

Conquering the New Mexico Texas Challenge

Saturday I completed another awesome 10K, the New Mexico Texas Challenge Race series.  This race is held in Hobbs/Lovington, New Mexico.  My friend Kathryn ran it with me; it was our second 10K together.  This time, I was going to run with her the entire way.

The drive out there started at 5:30 in the morning...way before I usually wake up.  It's about a 2-hour drive and on the way we encountered cold temperatures and rain.  Luckily, the weather on the course was a perfect 60-degrees, overcast, and no moisture...at least until the final mile and a half.  Our pace was fairly steady and our energy levels were high.  I love feeling the excitement of a race--the whole event feels of anticipation, achievement, and determination.  Our goal was to beat Kathryn's best time of 1:08:22.

Victory sprint across the finish line!
We had been passing people steadily since mile two, and on the second loop of the race we were even passing 5K runners!  However, just after mile four, on the last leg of the race, the wind picked up.  All around us we could hear runners cursing the wind.  Our conversation ebbed as all our effort went in to maintaining our pace.  The only thing that kept me going at that pace was counting my cadence.  First, I was counting my strides every minute, trying to maintain 90 to 100 steps per minute.  When that took too much effort, I started counting breaths in a mantra-like manner, "One-two-three (in)-two-one (out)."

Race completed, PR achieved, and medals rocked.
We rounded the curve and saw the finish line, so we grasped hands and held them high as we sprinted across the finish line!  Together, Kathryn ran a new 10K Personal Record of 1:07:41! And our finish line pictures were pretty great as well.  Great race, wonderful atmosphere, motivational spectators, effective volunteers, and a fast, flat course.  I give this race 5-stars.  The best part though, was the sportsmanship and camaraderie we built from accomplishing this race as friends and running buddies.

What to do with all these bibs???
Now, I have all these awesome race medals and bibs.  My medals, I proudly display on a wall-mounted hanger built for me by my friends Eric and Meichelle.  Yet, I'm not entirely sure what to do with the bibs.  What do you do with your race memorabilia?  Race bibs, medals, and t-shirts alike?

Love my "Every race has a story" medal hanger.

Apr 20, 2014

Christ-Centered Easter Activity (FHE)

I've been trying to come up with a fun, new Christ-centered Easter tradition I can do with my family.  I love the idea of Resurrection eggs, so I decided that each Easter, I'll do a family home evening activity utilizing them.  This family home evening would be more of an Easter tradition that I plan on doing Easter evening, starting tonight.

June likes paper eggs, so I found these adorable Resurrection egg printables on the blog Simply Homemaking.  I printed them on card stock and on another sheet of paper, I printed pictures of the Easter story, taped them on the back, and numbered them.  I then laminated the eggs so they would be more durable.  I placed them, in order, as a path.  Each time June picks one up, I will tell her how the picture on the back tells about Jesus.  The last egg will lead her right to a Christ-centered Easter basket.  The basket contains a The Beginner's Bible The Very First Easter, Finding Faith in Christ DVD, a picture of Jesus, and the scriptures.

I'll have June help me place up the picture of Christ as I read the Easter story book.  Then, we'll the movie.  It's made more for adults, but I'm sure she'll watch some of it.  Just having it on will bring the Easter spirit into our home.

I'd like to keep this up every year.  I love all the Easter traditions I grew up with.  Egg hunts, the Easter Bunny, and celebrating spring are all wonderful traditions that my family already loves.  And now the Resurrection egg hunt will be a new tradition that can help us focus on the reason for this joyous holiday.

Apr 17, 2014

Looking for a race

With all the success I've been having in running, that I really didn't expect, I now I feel a burning need to runa half marathon...soon.  I know I'll need to train this time, so I've devised a flexible training plan.  Although I like structured programs, I find if I miss a day, it's like I'll never make it up and I stop training.  To counteract this mental trench I dig for myself, I developed a flexible and friendly program.  Each week will consist of five workouts, three of them being critical for fitness building, and two as encouraged-but-optional.  The best part of this plan, is that the workouts can be completed in any order, as long as they are finished in a 7-day period.  So, if I don't feel like doing my long run on Saturday, I can run it on Monday and be done with that workout first thing in the week.  If I'm on vacation, all I have to worry about are three workouts instead of five.  If I'm feeling extra-motivated, I can complete all workouts.  I feel like this will be a fool-proof plan.

I wrote out a master training schedule with the workouts separated by "Must Complete" and "Optional".  The workouts can be completed on any day that works best in your schedule. I'm trying to figure out a nice-looking checklist type schedule which will better break down each week, which I'll post once I come up with it.

Now... To find a race that fits into the time schedule, has great swag, and is in a fun location. Oh, and has awesome bling. Really, the bling is the most important part. I race for the medals.  This program is 12 to 16 weeks depending on which point you decide to jump in at.  That should leave plenty of opportunities for a plausible half marathon then. Anyone want to join me?

Apr 15, 2014

The Holy Ghost (FHE)

We were very blessed this week to be able to do Family Home Evening with my dad and my brothers.  June absolutely loved having her uncles and grandpa help with the activity.  The lesson this week was based on chapter 7:  The Holy Ghost from the Gospel Principles manual.

Song:  Tonight's song was song #105, The Holy Ghost, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

When Christ was on the earth, He promised he would send

The Holy Ghost to comfort us, our true, eternal friend.

The Holy Spirit whispers with a still small voice.

He testifies of God and Christ and makes our hearts rejoice.
And when we are confirmed by sacred priesthood pow'r,
The Holy Ghost is giv'n to us to guide us ev'ry hour.

Oh, may I always listen to that still small voice.

And with his light I'll do what's right each time I make a choice.

Lesson: After Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they began to work at all sorts of tasks to care for their family.  They had many children who also had many children (Moses 5:1-3).  Even though they had no memory of their heavenly home, Heavenly Father made sure they were not shut off from His influence, so he sent the Holy Ghost to comfort, help, and guide all of His spirit children.

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (1 John 5:7), and he is a personage of Spirit (D&C 130:22).  His influence can be felt everywhere at the same time because of this.  Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are called the Godhead. They are separate and distinct beings, but they are unified in purpose.  Each has an important role in the plan of salvation.  Heavenly Father is our Father and ruler.  Jesus Christ is our Savior.  The Holy Ghost is the testifier of all truth.  The Holy Ghost is Heavenly Father's messenger and is a special gift to us.

The Holy Ghost's mission is to bear witness of the Father and the Son, and of the truth of all things.  The Holy Ghost will witness to us that Jesus Christ is our Savior (3 Nephi 28:11).  He will reveal to us that Heavenly Father is our Father and that we can become exalted like Him (Romans 8:16-17).  Without the Holy Ghost, we couldn't know Christ is our Savior (1 Corinthians 12:3).  It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we can understand and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The convincing power of the Holy Ghost is so great that there can be no doubt that what He reveals to us is true.  As Christians, we must make ourselves worthy to receive this special messenger and witness of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

June and her uncles helped to list things we can do to be worthy of the Holy Ghost:  pray, read scriptures, go to church, be nice to everyone, serve others, fast, do good things, keep promises, be obedient, listen to Mommy, etc.

Activity:  All of my family helped with this activity.  The intention was to play the game "Hot and Cold" by hiding an item of June's and having her find it with the clues "Warmer" and "Colder."  Quickly I learned that this game is still a little advanced for June.  So, I had Linzy act as the Holy Ghost.  She was to help direct June to her toy (a flower) by speaking in a "still small voice" and give her directions.  Danny was to be a mean influence and try to discourage June by saying things like "you can't find it, you should just give up."  Bobby was to be a overpowering influence by just speaking very loudly to drown out the "Holy Ghost".  Dad and Tommy were to be a distracting influence by trying to get her to play with other toys or eat candy etc.  The distracting worked almost too well!  June forgot the point of the game once her uncles and grandpa started talking.  It got very loud and chaotic in the room.  This actually did well to symbolize the noise, distraction, and chaos of the world's influences.  Finally, Linzy got June to remember the point of the game and as she entered the room containing her toy, and following the "Holy Ghost's" influence more and more, the "worldly distractions" got quieter and Linzy was easier to listen to.  Which led to June finding her flower.  She was so proud of herself!  She said, "Mommy!  I did it!  I followed the Holy Ghost to my flower!"

June was so distracted by her uncles, she forgot what she was looking for.

The more she listened to Linzy, the quieter the distractions were.

And she found her flower, even though it was hidden in a hard place.

This game was a wonderful representation of the challenges we face as we try to follow the direction from the Holy Ghost in the world we reside in.  I do think when she's older, we'll try the "Hot and Cold" game again.

Apr 12, 2014

Bad runs are still good workouts

Usually, when I go out for a run, the first mile is rough.  It's uncomfortable, somewhat exhausting, and a little awkward.  Then, my body is warmed-up and the rest of the run seems fluid.  I feel energetic, light, and graceful.  I have fun.  I enjoy myself.  And this feeling can last throughout the rest of the run.  It's why I love running.

However, there are bad runs.  These running workouts stay uncomfortable, awkward, tiring, and can even get painful.  My legs feel heavy--like I'm stomping my feet.  I notice the most minor pains, and they stay prevalent in my mind.  It seems I'm constantly checking my watch just to see if I accomplished my workout for the day.  I contemplate quitting, and sometimes I do.  This is exactly what happened to me during one of my training runs this week.

I wasn't anticipating a bad run.  In fact, I was looking forward to running.  This run would be a buddy run with my friend Maria.  I love running with her since she pushes me to hold a faster pace and to run farther.  The conversation is also enjoyable and makes the miles tick by until we're already done with our workout.  Training with Maria has led to my fastest and farthest consecutive runs and two PR's (Personal Record).

When I'm not following a strict training plan, I like to give myself a goal-range so I can continue running if I'm feeling up to it, or so I can hit the minimum and rest if I need it.  A goal range makes me feel accomplished no matter the circumstance.  This run, my goal was 5-7 miles. We set out and already I felt heavy, tired, and awkward.  I chalked this up to the standard one-mile warm-up discomfort.  Unfortunately, this persisted and when I checked my watch to only see "2.23 miles", my heart sank.  It had felt like I was already sitting at mile 4--on a hard day.  This was shaping up to be a bad run.

Each step felt heavy.  Each stride felt awkward.  My breathing was ragged and it seemed all my joints were achy.  I was hot, thirsty, and hungry.  I just wanted to be done.  If it weren't for Maria's gentle and sincere encouragement, I would've thrown in the towel at mile 3.  In fact, her encouragement built my determination up word by word.  I kept repeating mantras to myself, "I.  Will.  Finish.  Five.  Miles."  and "One step at a time."  Each repetition my determination only solidified.

That's not saying the run got easier.  Not at all.  I kept staring at my watch for progress.  I kept noticing every little discomfort.  I kept wanting to stop.  But, I knew if I stopped for just a second, I would quit and I wasn't going to quit.  So on I trotted, probably slower than I would've been walking.

Maria's conversation helped to take my mind off the slowly ticking miles at times.  Until, finally, we had reached mile five.  My watch reached five miles about an eighth of a mile before hers did, so I dutifully went by her record.  But I stopped right at the moment the watch hit five.  My legs were tight and sore, and we still had a little ways to go back to her house.  We ended on a brisk cool down walk.  Our OCD kicked in when we only had a quarter mile left until we hit six miles, so we walked one more lap around her neighborhood and paced in her driveway until we both hit 6.2 miles.  I completed a 10K distance, with my minimum goal at 5 miles. and I completed it in 1:19:23.  That is still faster than my first 10K race last year!

Although this was a bad run, I found achievement in it.  I'm better off for having pushed through the discomfort and I'm better off for sticking to my guns and completing my goal.  Bad runs are still good workouts!  This run taught me that all you really need for success are great running friends and a little determination.

My first e-bib!

Apr 10, 2014

Comment Contest! Sierra Prize Pack from Taylor Dean Books

I'm running my first blog contest! Taylor Dean Books has generously donated a Sierra prize pack complete with an autographed copy of Sierra, tote, bookmark, and pen. To enter, just comment on any of my posts! Contest starts today and ends on May 31st.  Please keep your comments constructive and uplifting as this is a personal blog. I look forward to reading your thoughts, comments, and questions!

Sierra Prize Pack:  Autographed copy of Sierra, bookmark, tote, and pen.


Please visit Taylor Dean's website for more information on author Taylor Dean and her wonderful novels.

Winners will be picked at random  using random.org.  Prize, for two US winners: a signed paperback of Sierra, totebag, bookmark, and pen.  For more information about author Taylor Dean and her novels, please visit www.taylordeanbooks.com.
Hateful, degrading, and mean comments will be deleted and ineligible for prize pack.  This is a personal blog, so please keep comments constructive and uplifting. 

My Top 20 Gems from General Conference

This latest session of General Conference was truly inspirational, educational, and full of so many wonderful messages.  Even though I was traveling for this conference session, I was still able to listen to all six session through BYUradio on Sirius.  I'm so thankful for the incredible technology that allows me to be able to hear the words of the prophets today even while driving.  I strongly recommend a thoughtful study of each of the messages to all my readers, as you will find answers to your questions, comfort, and direction in the words of each speaker.  To watch, listen, or read the conference messages, click here.  For now, here are The Running Mormon's Top 20 Conference Gems from the 184th session of General Conference.  They're in no particular order as I love them all and I think all can benefit from their messages.

Hearing this session through radio was unconventional for me as I usually watch while it's being broadcasted.  I would love to start Conference traditions within my own family and I appreciate your ideas!  What are your conference traditions?  How do you make watching Conference special for you family?  What are some ways to help younger children look forward to Conference?

Apr 9, 2014

The Fall of Adam and Eve (FHE)

We got to do Family Home Evening on the road last night while we were in Austin for my cousin's wedding.  This week's lesson was chapter 6 in the Gospel Principles manual, The Fall of Adam and Eve.

Song: With this topic, the song was a bit more difficult to select, but I settled on the Children's Songbook song #122, The Second Article of Faith, which goes as follows:

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins,
And not for Adam's transgression.
And not for Adam's transgression.

This song went best with the overall theme of this lesson on the Fall.

Lesson: Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first people to come to Earth.  Their role in Heavenly Father's plan was to bring mortality into the world and be the first parents.  Adam and Eve were among our Father's most noble children.

They were placed in the Garden of Eden and were not yet mortal.  In this state, they couldn't have children, they couldn't die, and they were innocent like children (2 Nephi 2:23, Moses 6:59).  God commanded them to have children (Moses 2:28).  He also told them they could eat of any tree in the garden, but forbade them from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for in that day they would surely die (Moses 3:17).  Satan didn't know Heavenly Father's thoughts, and he wanted to destroy Heavenly Father's plan.  He approached Eve and tempted her to eat of the fruit, for they would be as gods knowing good from evil (Moses 4:11).  Eve realized that they couldn't have children and keep Heavenly Father's commandment, or become like Him without knowing good from evil, so she ate of the fruit.  Then Adam ate as well.  The changes that came upon Adam and Eve because they ate the fruit are called the Fall.

Bea cause they ate of the fruit, the Lord sent them out of the Garden of Eden into the world.  They be came mortal and because of this, they were able to have children, suffer illness, pain, and physical death.  Additionally, since they were cast out of Heavenly Father's presence, they suffered a spiritual death.

Some people believe Adam and Eve committed a serious sin when they ate of the fruit, but latter-day scripture helps us understand that the Fall was a very necessary part of the plan of salvation, even a blessing to us all.  Because of the Fall, we are all blessed with physical bodies, the right to choose between good and evil, and the opportunity to gain eternal life.  Eve said, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have seed [children] and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient" (Moses 5:11).  "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25).

Activity:  I picked some of June's small toys in three categories:  rings, my little ponies, and puff-animals.  I tied strings of varying lengths to each one of them, but I color-coded the categories.  rings were tied with white ribbon, ponies with pink, and puff-animals with red.  then I made a pillow-wall and placed the ribbon over it on the side facing June, so all she could see was the ribbon.  I then told her to pick a puff-animal.  She was confused, as intended, and I told her to pull on the ribbon for a puff animal.  She tried a white string, another white string, and a pink string, but to no avail.  With each attempt, I just told her "No, I said pick a puff-animal."  On her fourth try she got one by chance.  I asked her if it was hard to find the puff animal and she said "Yes, I can't see the toys!".  Then, I told her how the strings were coded, red for puff-animals, white for rings, pink for ponies.  I set up the game again, and then said, "pick a ring."  She got the ring.  "Pick a pony."  She got a pony.  Now the game was easy and June picked correctly each time.  I asked her why it was easy this time and she said, "Because I know the toys and the colors!"  I told her this is why we need the knowledge of good and evil.  In this manner, we can know what we are choosing.  We can know if our choices are good or evil and will lead to blessings or punishments.  Then, June got to play with all her toys.

It took me a while to think of an activity for this lesson.  A long while.  It was almost last minute when this idea came to mind.  I wanted to find a way to illustrate why it's important we know good from evil. I think this game worked fairly well.