Feb 24, 2015

Race Report: Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K

Nothing in running is better than running a destination race with one's best friend, and that's exactly what I had the pleasure of doing this last weekend.  My best friend in the world got me race registration for the Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K in Tampa, Florida.  Coming from West Texas, Florida beaches are absolutely breathtaking.  It was just so nice to be somewhere more tropical and near the water.  It was even nicer that I got to see Jenna.

We browsed the expo the night before to pick up our packets.  We were quite excited to see how big the expo was!  The packet pick-up was run well.  Even with a long line ahead of us, we got our bibs and shirts in no time at all.  We received all sorts of free swag from bags to cooling towels to all sorts of fitness samples.  The expo had so many booths set up:  Publix Grocery Store, Sports Authority, shoe vendors, and athletic apparel of every brand.  I was even able to stock up on BodyGlide, Gu, and SweatyBands.  The best part about the expo though was that we scored major deals on some really great running shoes.  Jenna got her favorite pair of Brooks, and I finally got to try out the Sketchers GoRun series.  I've been intrigued by these since I saw that they now sponsor Meb and Kara Goucher (my two favorite runners), so I've been dying to actually try them for myself.  They felt great on my very short test-run in the expo and I can't wait to use them for my next training run.  This expo was a runner's dream.

We woke up bright and early the next morning to ensure we would be able to make our 6:15 start time.  Traffic was crazy as we searched for a parking garage near the race grounds.  After 30 minutes of searching, we finally found one, and we jogged back to the expo area to warm-up before running.  The temperature was a chilly 45-degrees, but was supposed to warm up to the high 60's after sunrise.

This race included four distances: 5K, 8K, 15K, and half marathon.  Saturday was the 5K and 15K, with the 5K starting close to 10am.  We lined up at the start between the 10:30 minutes per mile and 11 minutes per mile pace groups. There were thousands of people there!  So many people that we could barely see the starting line from our position.  Once we were off, it took us a few minutes to actually cross the starting line, and the first few miles were so congested that it added about two minutes per mile onto our time as we tried to dodge around people and pass the slower runners.  Either people didn't line up correctly, or they gave themselves too-fast of a goal time because a lot of the runners that were before us were running at a the fastest a 12 minute mile pace.  So, Jenna and I jumped, bobbed, and weaved around people until the crowd thinned out enough for us to actually run at our 10 to 11 minute pace.

About at that time, we were running right along the water as the sun was rising.  It was breath-taking!  The view was so scenic and gorgeous that it was a pleasant distraction from the more painful parts of the run.  The course was an out-and-back full of spectators holding a variety of quite creative signs--both motivating and hilarious--many talented musicians, and photographers. Around the 6.5 mile point, my calves and legs started to sieze up and ache to the point where I had to keep slowing down, but I did not stop running!  It must've been from all the people-passing acrobatics we had to do at the beginning as I have not hurt like this in a race this short before!  Still, we ran on and on until we were in the final mile.  From there, I made myself speed up with the support from Jenna.  We were passing people again clear to the finish line, which we crossed holding hands high!  We finished in 1:39:53, at a 10:30 minutes per mile pace.  Not bad at all.

We were tired and sore and hungry, but wow did it feel good when that finisher medal was placed around my neck.  Photographers were everywhere and we got all sorts of pictures taken to include one with a couple of pirates (as this was the Race for Booty!). 

This racecation was one for the books!  I haven't gotten to race with my bestie since the beginning of 2013--and we scored some serious bling--AND I got a 15K personal record!  The race was pretty well organized, the aid stations well stocked, the medal was impressive, the shirts were cute and functional, the race pictures were up the next day, and the expo was rocking!  I would recommend that next time, they have starting waves for the 15K to prevent congestion as they did this for the 5K and half marathon.  In light of that, it was still a great race and I still got a pretty good time.  The best part though was that I got to do all of this with my best friend.

Feb 18, 2015

The Postmortal Spirit World (FHE)

I'm back on track and all caught up!  Here is this week's Family Home Evening.  I taught June from chapter 41 of the Gospel Principles manual, on the Postmortal Spirit World.  The anniversary of the passing of my mother is this Thursday, so this topic is quite fitting.  We were able to talk to June about where her Grandma is, how happy she is, and the important work she is doing.

Song: We sang We'll Bring the World His Truth, song # 172 from the Primary Children's Songbook. There isn't really a song that goes along with this lesson, but I really love this one and I felt that the missionary aspect of it applies to the missionary work that is going on in the spirit world.  It goes as follows:

1. We have been born, as Nephi of old, To goodly parents who love the Lord.
We have been taught, and we understand, That we must do as the Lord commands.
 2. We have been saved for these latter days To build the kingdom in righteous ways.
We hear the words our prophet declares: "Let each who's worthy go forth and share."
3. We know his plan, and we will prepare,Increase our knowledge through study and prayer.
Daily we'll learn until we are called To take the gospel to all the world.
Chorus: We are as the army of Helaman.We have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord's missionaries To bring the world his truth.

Lesson: The manual best words this lesson, so I've included a lot of the text from the manual here:  Heavenly Father prepared a plan for our salvation. As part of this plan, He sent us from His presence to live on earth and receive mortal bodies of flesh and blood. Eventually our mortal bodies will die, and our spirits will go to the spirit world. The spirit world is a place of waiting, working, learning, and, for the righteous, resting from care and sorrow. Our spirits will live there until we are ready for our resurrection. Then our mortal bodies will once more unite with our spirits, and we will receive the degree of glory we have prepared for.

 Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals except that the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16). Spirits carry with them from earth their attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward things of righteousness (see Alma 34:34). They have the same appetites and desires that they had when they lived on earth.

The prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon taught about two divisions or states in the spirit world:
“The spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.

“Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection” (Alma 40:12–14).

The spirits are classified according to the purity of their lives and their obedience to the will of the Lord while on earth. The righteous and the wicked are separated (see 1 Nephi 15:28–30), but the spirits may progress as they learn gospel principles and live in accordance with them. The spirits in paradise can teach the spirits in prison (see D&C 138).

Paradise:  According to the prophet Alma, the righteous spirits rest from earthly care and sorrow. Nevertheless, they are occupied in doing the work of the Lord. President Joseph F. Smith saw in a vision that immediately after Jesus Christ was crucified, He visited the righteous in the spirit world. He appointed messengers, gave them power and authority, and commissioned them to “carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men” (D&C 138:30). If we've accepted the sealing ordinances of the temple, whether in mortality or vicariously, then we are organized as family groups here in paradise!  We can have our families together for time and all eternity.

Prison: The Apostle Peter referred to the postmortal spirit world as a prison, which it is for some (see 1 Peter 3:18–20). In the spirit prison are the spirits of those who have not yet received the gospel of Jesus Christ. These spirits have agency and may be enticed by both good and evil. If they accept the gospel and the ordinances performed for them in the temples, they may leave the spirit prison and dwell in paradise.
Also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell. They have removed themselves from the mercy of Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom.

Activity:  I racked my brain for many days trying to think of a good activity about the spirit world when it came to me--just play pretend!  I set up two opposite corners of a room as the spirit world.  The Spirit Paradise corner had a lot of lights turned on and pictures of the temple and family.  The Spirit Prison corner was dark.  Then, I had Junes wear a white robe and then I told her that Minnie Mouse was baptized and was very good, then that Baby Hippo wasn't baptized and was misbehaving.  I asked her where each one went.  She put Minnie in Spirit Paradise and Baby Hippo in Spirit Prison.  I then had two stuffed bears, dressed as missionaries which June's aunt and uncle played as the missionaries that teach the gospel in Spirit Prison.  They "taught" Baby Hippo about Christ and when Baby Hippo "accepted" baptism, they escorted Baby Hippo to Spirit Paradise with Minnie.  June thought that was fun, and she then proceeded to play with all the stuffed animals in the Spirit Paradise corner.

Feb 17, 2015

Temple Work and Family History (FHE)

Again I'm late on another family home evening post.  So, for last week's FHE, I covered chapter 40 from the Gospel Principles manual: Temple Work and Family History.

Song: We sang song #94 from the Primary Children's Songbook, Family History-I Am Doing It.  This a fun song to sing, and it goes as follows:

Fam'ly history - I am doing it, My fam'ly history.
And the love I feel when I'm doing it Is very sweet to me.
I learn stories of my progenitors; I write their history.
I keep records of my loved ones On my own fam'ly tree.
Fam'ly living now and the ones who've died Can all be sealed to me,
And someday I'll meet ev'ry one of them, I'm sure as I can be.
Oh what joy we'll have when they say to me, "We're all a family.
I am yours and you are mine now, Through all eternity."
Lesson:  Heavenly Father wants His children to return to Him.  If we are to live forever with our families in Heavenly Father’s presence, we must do all that the Savior commands us to do. This includes being baptized and confirmed and receiving the ordinances of the temple.  Heavenly Father wants all of His children to return and live with Him. For those who died without baptism or the temple ordinances, He has provided a way for this to happen. He has asked us to perform ordinances for our ancestors in the temples.

Salt Lake City Temple
Temples are special buildings dedicated to the Lord. Worthy Church members may go there to receive sacred ordinances and make covenants with God.We also go to the temple to learn more about Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We gain a better understanding of our purpose in life and our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We are taught about our premortal existence, the meaning of earth life, and life after death.

Many of our ancestors are among those who died without hearing about the gospel while on the earth. They now live in the spirit world. There they are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who have accepted the gospel are waiting for the temple ordinances to be performed for them. As we perform these ordinances in the temple for our ancestors, we can share their joy.

Latter-day Saints are encouraged to participate in family history activities. Through these activities we learn about our ancestors so that we can perform ordinances for them. Family history involves three basic steps:

1. Identify our ancestors.
2. Find out which ancestors need temple ordinances performed.
3. Make certain that the ordinances are performed for them.

Through our efforts in finding our ancestors names and in performing their ordinances in the temple, we can have our families for time and all eternity.

Fan Chart on FamilySearch.org

Activity:  This activity was pretty simple and very effective.  First, I logged into my Family Search account. Family Search is a free website where you can build your own family tree and search for your ancestors.  You can also add or find pictures and stories of you family.  I pulled up the fan chart view of my pedigree chart and just showed this to June so she could see all the people in her family line.  Then, we sat down with my dad and just looked through old photo albums.  She loves looking at pictures and she loved hearing the stories behind each photo even more.

Grandpa telling June family stories

Feb 12, 2015

Race Report: Cold as Ice 10K

After a whole week of mild weather, I had my hopes up for nice temperatures at the Cold as Ice 10K in Amarillo on January 31st.  But alas, the day held true to the race's name and I woke up to sub 30-degree temps and a nice snow/rain mix.  Still, I doubled up on my layers, laced up my shoes, and headed out the door to Get Fit Amarillo for a Saturday morning race.

I like running local!  I don't have to put in nearly as much travel time and preparation before the start.  I arrived 10 minutes prior to the starting gun and that gave me plenty of time to start up my playlist and warm-up.  And I really needed to warm up with how freaking cold and wet and windy it was!  I wasn't the only runner bouncing around at the starting line just wishing they would start the race early so I could get moving!  But soon enough, the race began and off I ran.
I love this shoe wall sculpture!  I'm now saving all my retired running shoes to make my very own.
The course was a quite enjoyable run, even in the frigid temps.  The 10K was a single loop that wound all over the residential areas surrounding the Get Fit store.  The houses were gorgeous and gave me something to admire while I was running.  Since this was the coldest and wettest weather I've run in, I decided to take it easy.  It never really got warmer as I ran, in fact it seemed to just get colder as all my layers started to get saturated by rain and snow.  Still, I persevered and ran on.  My original goal time was to finish with an 11:13 pace per mile, but even taking it slow I finished in 1:01:12...a  9:51 per mile pace.  I killed my rather easy goal pace!  It was still so cold outside that I had to jog a cool down mile since I didn't want to just stop and freeze.
I was freezing for this picture!  My clothes were so soaked that my light grey outfit appears near black.
Yet again, another well organized and fun race put on by Get Fit Amarillo.  I'm glad that I'm now local to this running store so I can regularly replace my depleted running supplies and enjoy a local race.  The volunteers were ready with encouraging words and were quite vigilant in stopping traffic as runners approached intersections.  The course was clearly marked.  Really, my only suggestion would be for them to offer finisher medals--you know, because I love running bling so much.  I'll be running more Get Fit races...just in milder weather next time.

Feb 5, 2015

Eternal Marriage (FHE)

I've been in the middle of a lot of changes lately!  Between my brother's wedding, moving, and starting over I haven't had time to write my posts!  So, here is the first of the family home evenings I held with June, since I still made sure to have Family Home Evening each week.  I based this lesson on the Gospel Principles manual chapter 38: Eternal Marriage.  This lesson is very dear to my heart.  I want an eternal marriage in the temple more than anything, for I know that through that blessing and ordinance, I can be with my family forever.

Song: We sang one of my personal Primary Children's Songbook favorites, song #95 I Love to See the Temple.  It goes as follows:

I love to see the temple.  I'm going there someday

To feel the Holy Spirit,  To listen and to pray.

For the temple is a house of God,  A place of love and beauty.

I'll prepare myself while I am young;  This is my sacred duty.
I love to see the temple. I'll go inside someday.
I'll cov'nant with my Father; I'll promise to obey.

For the temple is a holy place Where we are sealed together.

As a child of God, I've learned this truth: A fam'ly is forever.
 Lesson:  Marriage is ordained of God.  Marriage between a man and a woman is a vital part of God’s plan. The Lord has said, “Whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man” (D&C 49:15). Since the beginning, marriage has been a law of the gospel. Marriages are intended to last forever, not just for our mortal lives.
Eternal marriage is essential for exaltation.  Our exaltation depends on marriage, along with other principles and ordinances, such as faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that marriage is the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman. This sacred relationship affects our happiness now and in the eternities.
Eternal marriage must be performed by proper authority in the temple.  An eternal marriage must be performed by one who holds the sealing power. The Lord promised, “If a man marry a wife by … the new and everlasting covenant … by him who is anointed, … and if [they] abide in [the Lord’s] covenant, … it … shall be of full force when they are out of the world” (D&C 132:19).  Not only must an eternal marriage be performed by the proper priesthood authority, but it must also be done in one of the holy temples of our Lord. The temple is the only place this holy ordinance can be performed.
As Latter-day Saints, we are living with an eternal perspective, not just for the moment. However, we can receive blessings in this life as a result of being married for eternity. Some of those blessings are as follows:
1. We know that our marriage can last forever.
2. We know that our family relationships can continue throughout eternity. 
3. Because we have been married in God’s ordained way, we are entitled to an outpouring of the Spirit on our marriage as we remain worthy.
4. We can live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of God.
5. We can be exalted as God is and receive a fulness of joy.

We must seek earnestly to obey every covenant that we make in the temple. The Lord has said that if we are true and faithful, we will enter into our exaltation. We will become like our Heavenly Father. (See D&C 132:19–20.) Temple marriage is worth any sacrifice. It is a way of obtaining eternal blessings beyond measure.

Activity: This activity had two parts.  For the first, I had two locks and both were closed.  I told June that a civil marriage marries couples for this life.  To symbolize this union, I tied the two locks together with a string.  I then told her that when we die, they are no longer married.  I then used scissors to symbolize death and I cut the string.  I then told her that when a couple is sealed in the temple, they are married forever!  To symbolize this, I locked the locks around each other.  I then brought the scissor towards them and tried to cut the locks, but the scissor can't do this.  This shows how death has no power over the sealing ordinances of the temple.  Through that ordinance, we can be together forever.  June then picked out two of her stuffed animals and she got to help them get married in the temple.  I placed up a picture of her favorite temple and she played "wedding."  She had each stuffed animal hold their lock.

The Law of Chastity (FHE)

This lesson, was more of a challenge to teach to a toddler, so I modified it a bit.  I used the principles of chastity--patience, obedience, and virtue--and I taught about those.  This family home evening was based on the Gospel Principles manual, chapter 39:  The Law of Chastity.

Song: We sang song #177 from the Primary Children's Songbook, Teach me to Walk in the Light.  It goes as follows:
Teach me to walk in the light of his love;
Teach me to pray to my Father above;

Teach me to know of the things that are right;

Teach me, teach me to walk in the light.
Come, little child, and together we'll learn

Of his commandments, that we may return

Home to his presence, to live in his sight

Always, always to walk in the light.
Father in Heaven, we thank thee this day

For loving guidance to show us the way.

Grateful, we praise thee with songs of delight!

Gladly, gladly we'll walk in the light.

Lesson: I like this note that is included with the chapter on teaching about chastity to children:
"This chapter includes some parts that are beyond the maturity of young children. It is best to wait until children are old enough to understand sexual relations and procreation before teaching them these parts of the chapter. Our Church leaders have told us that parents are responsible to teach their children about procreation (the process of conceiving and bearing children). Parents must also teach them the law of chastity, which is explained in this chapter.

Parents can begin teaching children to have proper attitudes toward their bodies when children are very young. Talking to children frankly but reverently and using the correct names for the parts and functions of their bodies will help them grow up without unnecessary embarrassment about their bodies.
Children are naturally curious. They want to know how their bodies work. They want to know where babies come from. If parents answer all such questions immediately and clearly so children can understand, children will continue to take their questions to their parents. However, if parents answer questions so that children feel embarrassed, rejected, or dissatisfied, they will probably go to someone else with their questions and perhaps get incorrect ideas and improper attitudes.

It is not wise or necessary, however, to tell children everything at once. Parents need only give them the information they have asked for and can understand. While answering these questions, parents can teach children the importance of respecting their bodies and the bodies of others. Parents should teach children to dress modestly. They should correct the false ideas and vulgar language that children learn from others.
By the time children reach maturity, parents should have frankly discussed procreation with them. Children should understand that these powers are good and were given to us by the Lord. He expects us to use them within the bounds He has given us.

Little children come to earth pure and innocent from Heavenly Father. As parents pray for guidance, the Lord will inspire them to teach children at the right time and in the right way."

I used this guidance as I taught June about how we must wait for some things in life.  If we are patience, then the reward is much greater than if we indulge outside of the bounds the Lord has set. The world will preach to us that we are old-fashioned or that we can do whatever we want when we want, but the Lord has given us clear commandments.  If we follow the ways of the world, then we are following a path of selfishness, disobedience, and unhappiness.  That way leads us into bondage through the consequences of our disobedience.  However, if we follow the way of the Lord, then we will find true and eternal and lasting happiness and joy.  Obedience sometimes requires patience, and through patiently being obedient, we will receive the greatest blessings.

 Activity: At the beginning of this lesson, I placed a saltine cracker in front of June (any sort of bland or unexciting snack will do).  I told her she could eat the cracker now, but if she waited until the lesson was over, she would get an even better and tastier treat.  As I taught her the lesson, she kept looking down at the cracker and a couple times she almost gave in and ate it, but she patiently persisted.  She made it to the end of the lesson without eating the cracker, so I pulled out a delicious gourmet cupcake from our local cupcakery.  She was so glad she waited!