Apr 30, 2015

REAL Women Move

I never considered myself much of an athlete while I was growing up, but it was always an aspiration I hoped to achieve someday.  I'd look around at the athletes at my school and those on television--they all seemed to be so lean, so fast, and so coordinated!  When I compared myself to their athletic prowess, I found myself wanting on so many levels.  I wasn't tall enough for basketball, fast enough for track, or agile enough for soccer.  My apparent failures in PE were enough to close me off from even trying to practice and improve any of these skills.  I had consigned myself to the fact that I would never be athletic.

Then, fate intervened.  My roommate-turned-best friend at my Air Force tech school just happened to be a person trainer and fitness junkie.  She took me under her wing and helped me plan out workouts to improve my score on the military fitness tests.  But more than that, she taught me that real women move.

As I exercised regularly with her, I found that workouts didn't just have to be sprinting and push ups and situps.  The most effective workouts were the ones where I enjoyed the activity.  I tried cycling, swimming, rock climbing, rowing, paddle boarding, kayaking, skiing, dance, plyometrics, weight lifting, running, yoga...you name it and I probably tried it.  Before long, I started looking forward to being active...then I started loving it.  Now the kid who avoided the track like the plague and always wore jeans to PE became the woman who can't go a day without running and has a closet full of technical apparel to include super cute skirts!  I became the athlete I always wanted to be.  And why?  Because I learned that real women move.

So what exactly does REAL women move mean to me?  It means that all women--no matter age, shape, fitness level, etc--can be active!  It means finding those active activities we love to do, and doing them!  It means being a role model and an inspiration to others, to help them find their own fit passion.  This Skirt Sports message has such power for all women!  Just like it says in the Skirt Sports Ambassador logo:  Real Women, Real Bodies, Real Inspiration.  That is what REAL women move means to me.

My best friend Jenna and myself running the Gasparilla 15K, proving that #REALwomenmove.

I'll never forget what my best friend taught me, for she changed my life for the better.  Running and fitness has become a core part of my life and happiness.  As a Skirt Sports Ambassador Captain, I hope I can pay it forward and share the REAL women move message with all of you, and with those women who also want to find their inner athlete.

I've been using the hashtag ‪#‎REALwomenmove‬ for a couple weeks now, and it means more than just a fun label. Skirt Sports is on a mission to empower unmotivated or intimidated women and young girls. Let's show them what it looks like to make health and fitness a priority, despite the daily obstacles that are thrown into their path. Post your active pics and videos using the hashtag #REALwomenmove.

For every 5000 hashtags, Skirt Sports will donate a Get Started Scholarship to a woman who best exemplifies the REAL women traits and/or is actively trying to break through her own barriers in running and fitness.   For more information on #REALwomenmove, check out this link.  You can nominate a friend, or share your own story to apply for this scholarship.

I'll be running the Skirt Sports 13er in June, and I'd love for you to join me!  Run or walk the 5K or Half Marathon either in Colorado at the race course, or in your own town virtually.  Registration comes with a super cute skirt and gift card so you can build your own race day outfit.  Seriously, run with me in Colorado by registering here, or virtually by registering here, and you will be a perfect example of how REAL women move.
Show the world that REALwomenmove, and run the 13er with me!
Check out my Ambassador page here, and meet the other Skirt Sports Ambassadors and learn how these REAL women move here!

What does #REALwomenmove mean to you?  I’d love to hear your story!

Apr 29, 2015

Exaltation (FHE)

Here it is, my final Family Home Evening lesson of my series based on the Gospel Principles manual, #47/47: Exaltation.  Following this FHE, I will be starting a Book of Mormon lesson series.

Song: We sang song #188, from the Primary Children's SongbookFamilies can be Together Forever.  It goes as follows: 

1. I have a fam'ly here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.
2. While I am in my early years,
I'll prepare most carefully,
So I can marry in God's temple for eternity
Chorus: Fam'lies can be together forever
Through Heav'nly Father's plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.

Lesson: When we lived with our Heavenly Father, He explained a plan for our progression. We could become like Him, an exalted being. The plan required that we be separated from Him and come to earth. This separation was necessary to prove whether we would obey our Father’s commandments even though we were no longer in His presence. The plan provided that when earth life ended, we would be judged and rewarded according to the degree of our faith and obedience.

Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.  Exaltation is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father can give His children (see D&C 14:7).

There are many wonderful blessings that come to those who reach exaltation:
  1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:62).
  2. They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23).
  3. They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and will be able to have eternal increase.
  4. They will receive a fulness of joy.
  5. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (see D&C 132:19–20).
 So how do we qualify for exaltation?  We first must place our faith in Jesus Christ and then endure in that faith to the end of our lives. Our faith in Him must be such that we repent of our sins and obey His commandments.  He commands us all to receive certain ordinances: baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the priesthood for the brethren, temple endowment, and temple sealing.

In addition to receiving the required ordinances, the Lord commands all of us to:
  1. Love God and our neighbors.
  2. Keep the commandments.
  3. Repent of our wrongdoings.
  4. Search out our kindred dead and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel for them.
  5. Attend our Church meetings as regularly as possible so we can renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament.
  6. Love our family members and strengthen them in the ways of the Lord.
  7. Have family and individual prayers every day.
  8. Teach the gospel to others by word and example.
  9. Study the scriptures.
  10. Listen to and obey the inspired words of the prophets of the Lord.
Finally, each of us needs to receive the Holy Ghost and learn to follow His direction in our individual lives.  The Lord has said, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “If we will continue in God; that is, keep his commandments, worship him and live his truth; then the time will come when we shall be bathed in the fulness of truth, which shall grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

June won the game!
Activity: We played exaltation coin toss!  I set up 6 cups in a row with all the cups turned upside down except the first one.  By the last cup, I placed a picture of Christ, our family, and the temple to represent exaltation--the goal of the game.  Starting from the first, the cups were labeled: baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, sacrament, temple ordinances, temple sealing, and endure to the end.  June then had to make a coin in each cup.  As she made a coin in the first cup, I flipped over the next one, since you can't skip through ordinances.  As the cups got farther away, she found it harder to make them into the right cup.  I explained to her how it can feel harder to make and keep our covenants as the world tries to distance us from the Lord, but if we keep trying and have our sights set on the temple, we can make it.  Soon enough, she had made her coins into all the cups.  She liked the game so much that we played four or five times.

Apr 22, 2015

The Final Judgement (FHE)

One more to write and then I'm all caught up on Family Home Evening posts!  Hooray!  Alright, this last week's FHE was number 46/47 based on the Gospel Principles manual, chapter 46: The Final Judgement.

Song: We sang song #138, Where Love Is, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

Where love is, there God is also.  Where love is, we want to be.

Guide us, his truths to follow  Help us obey him faithfully
Where love is, there God is also. We think of him rev'rently.
Teach us to pray, to talk with him above And know that he will guide us with his love.
The comfort of loving arms around us, A song that makes us want to sing,
The happiness we feel when love has found us, 'Tis love we get when love we bring.

Where love is, there God is also. And with him we want to be.

Show us the way and guide us tenderly That we may dwell with him eternally.

Lesson:  We are often told in the scriptures that the day will come when we will stand before God and be judged. The scriptures teach that all of us will be judged according to our works: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12; see also D&C 76:111; 1 Nephi 15:32; Abraham 3:25–28). We will also be judged “according to the desire of [our] hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Alma 41:3).

The prophet Alma testified, “Our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; … and our thoughts will also condemn us” (Alma 12:14).  Faith in Jesus Christ helps us be prepared for the Final Judgment. Through faithful discipleship to Him and repentance of all our sins, we can be forgiven for our sins and become pure and holy so that we can dwell in the presence of God. As we repent of our sins, giving up every impure thought and act, the Holy Ghost will change our hearts so we no longer have even the desire to sin (see Mosiah 5:2). Then when we are judged, we will be found ready to enter into God’s presence.

At the Final Judgment we will inherit a place in the kingdom for which we are prepared. The scriptures teach of three kingdoms of glory—the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom (see D&C 88:20–32).

Celestial Kingdom
“They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized, … that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit.” These are they who overcome the world by their faith. They are just and true so that the Holy Ghost can seal their blessings upon them. (See D&C 76:51–53.) Those who inherit the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, who become gods, must also have been married for eternity in the temple (see D&C 131:1–4). All who inherit the celestial kingdom will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever (see D&C 76:62).

Terrestrial Kingdom
These are they who rejected the gospel on earth but afterward received it in the spirit world. These are the honorable people on the earth who were blinded to the gospel of Jesus Christ by the craftiness of men. These are also they who received the gospel and a testimony of Jesus but then were not valiant. They will be visited by Jesus Christ but not by our Heavenly Father. (See D&C 76:73–79.)

Telestial Kingdom
 These people did not receive the gospel or the testimony of Jesus either on earth or in the spirit world. They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected. “These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father or the Son. (See D&C 76:81–88, 103–6, 109.)

In reality, every day is a day of judgment. We speak, think, and act according to celestial, terrestrial, or telestial law. Our faith in Jesus Christ, as shown by our daily actions, determines which kingdom we will inherit.

Activity: I read the book The Great Plan of Happiness by David Bowman.  This book came with a map of the Plan of Salvation.  Using this map, June and I walked around the house where I had three rooms set up as each of the kingdoms of glory.  For the telestial kingdom, I strung up some white Christmas lights to symbolize the glory of the stars.  For the terrestrial kingdom I had one bright lamp turned on to symbolize the glory of the moon.  And for the celestial kingdom, I had all the lights turned on in a room to symbolize the glory of the sun.  I also had pictures of family, Christ, and temples up in this room to show how in the celestial kingdom we are with our families.  As we visited each room, I described the kingdom to June and told her who will inhabit each.  Her favorite part of this game was following the map and exploring what Mommy did to each room.

Apr 17, 2015

The Millennium (FHE)

I know I'm a couple weeks behind on posting my Family Home Evenings, so here is our FHE on the Millennium based on chapter 45 from the Gospel Principles manual.  After this lesson, we have only two more chapters until we are finished with the Gospel Principles manual.

Song: We sang song #128, The Tenth Article of Faith, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes;
that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent;

that Christ will reign personally upon the earth;

and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

Lesson: A thousand years of peace, love, and joy will begin on the earth at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This thousand-year period is called the Millennium. Because of the destruction of the wicked at the Savior’s Second Coming, only righteous people will live on the earth at the beginning of the Millennium. They will be those who have lived virtuous and honest lives.

During the Millennium, mortals will still live on earth, and they will continue to have children as we do now (see D&C 45:58).  People will still have their agency, and for a time many will be free to continue with their religions and ideas. Eventually everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is the Savior.  During the Millennium, Jesus will “reign personally upon the earth” (Articles of Faith 1:10).

There will be two great works for members of the Church during the Millennium: temple work and missionary work. Temple work involves the ordinances that are necessary for exaltation.  The gospel will be taught with great power to all people. Eventually there will be no need to teach others the first principles of the gospel because “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34).

During the Millennium, Satan will be bound. This means he will not have power to tempt those who are living at that time (see D&C 101:28).   There will be no war. People will live in peace and harmony together. There will be no death as we know it. When people have lived to an old age, they will not die and be buried. Instead, they will be changed from their mortal condition to an immortal condition in “the twinkling of an eye.” (See D&C 63:51; 101:29–31.)  Some truths have not been revealed to us. All things will be revealed during the Millennium. In many ways, life will be much as it is now, except that everything will be done in righteousness

At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be set free for a short time. Some people will turn away from Heavenly Father. Satan will gather his armies, and Michael (Adam) will gather the hosts of heaven. In this great struggle, Satan and his followers will be cast out forever.

Activity:  I had a hard time coming up with an activity for this topic. The Millennium is such a big thing to talk about, but it is a time to look forward to.  With my brothers and dad helping, we did a pretend Millennium news report.  June would ask each of us questions about what is happening in the Millennium and we would report on it.  I gave her a toy microphone and she asked things like, "What sports will we play?  What work will we do?  Is there any crime?  What's happening in the politics?"  We tried to get creative with our answers ad make it fun for her.

Apr 15, 2015

RUNspiration: Katherine Switzer

I love to run.  Not only do I love to run, but I love to race, and I do so quite often.  In this day and age it's just a click of a button and a punch of a few keys to sign up for really any kind of race.  And usually the experience of running a race is empowering, addictive, and wonderful.  In addition to family and friends; the cheer of the spectators, the friendliness of volunteers, and the support of the race staff make running a race an incredible experience.  So much so that it's hard for me to imagine a day when women weren't just unwelcome, but unwanted on the race course.  In fact, there was a time where the general opinion was that women were "too fragile" to run.

In 1966, Katherine Switzer decided she wanted to run the Boston Marathon.  Her coach Arnie had run it 15 times and regaled her with tales from the marathon.  She enjoyed hearing about the run, the challenge, the camaraderie and decided then that she wanted to run Boston.  After much convincing, to the point where she ran over 20 miles with Arnie, he decided to coach her for this distance.  She registered for Boston using her initials, KV Switzer, the way she usually signed up for events and activities.  What struck me most about Katherine was that she wasn't running Boston for any reason other than to run.  She says, "I wasn’t running Boston to prove anything; I was just a kid who wanted to run her first marathon."

Fast forward to Marathon Monday 1967.  After months of training, she was finally there at Boston.  Katherine wanted to look pretty for the run and had picked out a cute set of shorts and a shirt.  The weather, however, wasn't going to have it and she sported grey sweats over her outfit.  She pinned her bib, #261, onto that sweatshirt.  At that time, grey sweats were a popular choice in running apparel and many of the men were running in just that.  In fact, when the other runners at the start saw that there was a woman in their midst, many of them were supportive, even asking her if she could get their wives to run.

The race began and the first few miles felt good.  Katherine was running with Arnie, her boyfriend, and a teammate from the cross country team.  The press bus drove by and that's when everything seemed to go wrong.  Jock Semple, the race director, was riding on the press bus when he spotted Katherine.  He was furious!  He didn't want a woman running in his race.  He jumped off the bus and ran at her shouting loudly, trying to physically remove her from the course.  He grabbed at her sweater and tried to pull off her bib.  Katherine was terrified!  All of a sudden her boyfriend, Big Tom, tackled Jock to the ground.  The group then turned and ran off much faster than before.

Katherine was shaken and considered quitting right there.  She didn't come to Boston to make waves, she came to run.  But then in that moment she realized something, "I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt. If I quit, it would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward. If I quit, I’d never run Boston. If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win."  She didn't quit.  She ran, and she ran straight into history.  She showed the world that women aren't frail, they are strong.  That they can run marathons, and yes they can even run Boston.  Katherine broke through barriers for women without even intending to.  Through her love of running, she proved to the world just a taste of what women are capable of.

Katherine went on to be a strong advocate of women's running.  Through her work, and that of many others to actually include Jock Semple, women were now welcome to run the Boston Marathon in 1972.  She founded the Avon Running Global Woman's Circuit, a running circuit for women and the first of its kind.  

Katherine Switzer's love of running, her dedication to her goal, and her determination to accomplish it through any circumstance is an inspiration to me, a runspiration.  "When I go to the Boston Marathon now, I have wet shoulders—women fall into my arms crying. They're weeping for joy because running has changed their lives. They feel they can do anything." --Katherine Switzer

Katherine's story in her own words is on her website and in her book Marathon Woman.

Apr 3, 2015

My thyroid tried to kill me!

This post has been a long time in the making.  I find it difficult to write about as this was such a traumatic and painful part of my life.  I hope that maybe others can find help from my story, especially when it comes to taking an active role in your own medical treatment.  Four years ago, my thyroid tried to kill me.

My symptoms came on quickly.  So quickly in fact that I just attributed them to the situations surrounding their onset.  January 2011 I had just given birth to my beautiful baby girl.  I had a fairly difficult pregnancy and the labor wasn't much better, but the end result was well worth all the pain and discomfort.  Since I ran through my pregnancy and since I was getting cabin fever stuck in my house, I decided to train for and run my first ever half marathon, Myrtle Beach, which was six weeks away.  I had a very modest goal of finishing in three hours to ensure I would take it easy as my doctor recommended and I ended up finishing just under my goal.

I felt great, until I received a call from my Dad telling me that my wonderful mother just passed away unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism.  That alone was highly traumatic and I had a very hard time with her sudden passing.  Throughout this time, my husband at the time was TDY (temporary duty) to North Carolina where he had already been for about four months, and he still had another eight months to go.  Although he came out for a few days when the baby was born and for a few days when my Mom died, he was gone and I was alone.

Additionally, I had to return to work as my maternity leave ended.  I was active duty Air Force working as my squadron commander's executive officer at the time.  This job usually requires long hours, lots of paperwork, and lots of stress since we were in charge of managing the squadron administratively.  I had one heck of a time getting my daughter into Childcare, even though I was ensured a spot for her.  That was another type of fiasco, which was luckily resolved fairly quickly.  Anyway, I tell you this to give you some understanding into the challenges I was up against when my health started to deteriorate.

Shortly following the death of my mother, I started getting headaches.  Constant, painful, awful headaches.  They lingered all day every day.  The only relief I felt from these was when the pain just lessened.  After two weeks of this, I went to the Flight Doc at the Air Force Base.  He gave the usual flight doc diagnosis of "take a pregnancy test," and when that was negative to just take some motrin and drink more water.  So I did those things...still the headaches continued and even intensified.  Three more appointments followed within the next month of the same complaint.  Same diagnosis every single time.  I found some relief in running, but my performance was suffering because of the pain.

Then the nausea started.  I was sick to my stomach consistently and I started throwing up daily.  I had a hard time keeping anything down, but oddly I had a huge appetite.  I once ate an entire large pizza by myself.  I was losing weight rapidly--down 30 pounds in a four week period--and I was eating a ton!  On my eight attempt at the flight doc, with each previous visit the same old routine of taking another pregnancy test, then being told to take Motrin and hydrate, he told me I was bulimic due to grief of losing my mom, and had me go to counseling.  Funny thing, I didn't want to throw up.  I actually wanted to put on weight since I had lost so much so fast.  My first meeting with the counselor cleared up that misdiagnosis, I didn't have an eating disorder.  I could've told them that.

This was a much harder time for me to run, but I kept it up.  I was supposed to be training for a half marathon, but I had to cut back my mileage to 15 miles a week since I was getting so weak.  At this point, my resting heart rate (previously 52 bpm) was at an all time high of 132 bpm.  I could feel my heart beating at all times.  My hands and feet started shaking.  The tremors were so bad that my handwriting was illegible and it was hard to type correctly.  I was at the point of scheduling weekly appointments with my doctor due to the pain, nausea, weakness, weight loss, and now palpitations and tremors.  My first symptoms started in January.  Now it was April.

My hair began to thin out. I had insomnia so bad that I was averaging two hours of sleep a night.  I had drastic mood swings that ranged from utterly depressed to lethargic to extremely annoyed--worse than pregnancy moodiness.  I had a hard time focusing or concentrating on anything and I was easily confused.  I felt hot all the time, like I had a fever.  My weight dropped to 98 pounds when I was previously at 130lbs (150 while I was pregnant).

I started going to the emergency room once I experienced chest pains.  The first ER doctor I saw told me, "Why are you complaining about weight loss?  You should be grateful to lose a few pounds."  And that about sums up all my ER experiences.  The doctors didn't take me seriously and sent me home each of the 12 times with antibiotics claiming I had a Urinary Tract Infection since my white blood cell count was so high.  Nothing helped and at this point I was so weak I couldn't even find relief in running.  I find it interesting that none of these doctors, military or civilian, noticed the large lump on my neck or even mentioned my low blood pressure and high heart rate. 

Twenty-two flight doc visits and sixteen ER visits later, I passed out at work.  I was so weak I couldn't even walk.  Even sitting was hard.  I was experiencing incontinence since my muscles were too weak to even work in that area.  My coworker had to half-carry me to the base clinic and then I had to sit in a wheel chair.  It was this visit that I was informed I had a new doctor in family practice.  He took one look at me and knew instantly that I had a thyroid disease.  He sent me to get labs drawn and had me wait in the exam room while he expedited the results.  When he came back, he gave me beta blockers to help with my heart and told me that he had scheduled me an emergency appointment with an endocrinologist in Albuquerque (about four hours away) for emergency treatment.  He was concerned I was experiencing thyroid storm due to the extremely high levels of thyroid hormones in my blood.  He said he had never seen anyone survive with levels as high as mine, nor had he seen a thyroid as large as mine.

Physical signs of Hyperthyroidism/Graves' Disease
Although my diagnosis was grave, I was literally on my deathbed, I felt so much peace just knowing what was going on.  Now I could be treated effectively!  Now I could get better.  My father rushed me to Albuquerque.  Right before my appointment he gave me a priesthood blessing.  The Lord blessed me with peace and comfort.  He said that all would be well as I hadn't yet fulfilled my mission in mortality.  He told me I had much work left to do and I would recover from my condition, although it wouldn't be all at once or right away.  Those words from the Lord delivered through my Father through the power of the priesthood brought me so much comfort.

Hyperthyroid symptoms
My husband at the time had to carry me into the hospital where the doctor saw me immediately.  He started me on thyroid suppressant medication right away.  After reviewing my lab results, he diagnosed me with Graves' Autoimmune Disease and Hyperthyroidism.  He said my heart, kidneys, and liver were shutting down.  That my thyroid was eight times the normal size and producing eight times the normal level of thyroid hormone.  He asked me why I hadn't been treated sooner, and after I told him my story he was appalled at how I was treated.  He told me that if I hadn't been as fit as I was, that if I didn't have the cardiovascular adaptations running creates within the body, I would've died weeks prior.  He listed several long-term effects that I had a high probability of developing:  infertility, permanent autoimmune disease, constant medication and check-ups, permanent liver/kidney/heart damage, eye damage, and inability to participate in any endurance fitness.  He also stated that I may need to have my thyroid removed completely in the future.  That thought made me uneasy, but at least I was still alive and was finally receiving treatment.

Now that I was being treated correctly, I felt instant improvement.  I wasn't anywhere near being out of the woods yet, but at least I could feel my body healing.  I still had to make five more ER trips after that visit due to the severely of the damage done to my internal systems from lack of treatment.  My heart was still having problems and the EKG was showing abnormal results for months until the damage was repaired.  It was actually during one of these visits as I was laying in my hospital bed that I came across an advertisement for the Big Sur Marathon in a Runner's World magazine. The pictures captivated me.  I had never imagined that I would ever run a marathon, but right there in that moment in my hospital bed, I vowed that one day I would run Big Sur. 

Two years later, my thyroid levels were normal with the aid of thyroid suppressant medications.  Now I faced a new challenge.  My doctor was trying to push me into surgery.  I felt strongly that surgery was not a good course for me.  I prayed often and sincerely about this and I did a lot of research into the surgery and other treatments.  I wanted to try a medicinal treatment, but my doctor kept trying ti bully me into surgery.  They told me I would never go into remission and would never get better with that route.  In fact, they discounted my concerns, ignored my questions, and just scheduled me for a surgery I wasn't sure of.  So, I asked for a second and third opinion.  My third opinion doctor (not a surgeon) told me that due to my medical history, especially with my mother passing away from a pulmonary embolism, surgery could actually limit my lifespan.  When he said that, I felt the truth of his words and I was even more firm in my conviction to continue in medicinal treatment.  I figure, if I ever absolutely need surgery, I will just get it in the future.  I can always have my thyroid removed, but I can never have it put back.

Finally, I found the best endocrinologist.  In our first meeting, without me even asking, he talked about all three options of treatment:  radioactive iodine, total thyroidectomy surgery, and antithyroid medications.   He told me the benefits and drawbacks to each one along with detailed descriptions of what each entails.  Then, he told me that I was a great candidate for medicinal treatment.  I knew I had found my doctor.

Under his care my thyroid has shrunk significantly, my thyroid hormone is maintaining a normal level, the damage to my internal organs is repaired, I'm completely off beta blockers, and I'm almost off the suppressant medication.  Most significantly, my Grave's Disease is gone!  That alone is a miracle.  I'm back to running and have been for the past year.  In fact, I'm running farther and faster than ever! My goal to run Big Sur was always on the forefront of my mind, helping me stick to my training, run consistently, and push myself harder than I ever thought I could.  My recovery started gaining the momentum my running had built.  The more I ran, the faster I recovered—so quickly and fully that my recovery surpassed my physician’s expectations!  I wasn’t just running anymore, I was running farther and faster than I ever thought I could.  I built my endurance, my mileage, and my confidence to the point where I knew I was ready to run Big Sur.  Now, four years later, I’m in my final months of training with the Runners World Challenge training plan and I’m about to see the fulfillment of that dream.  I know my mother would be proud of the athlete I have become. This is why running the Big Sur marathon is so important to me.  It's the realization of a goal that helped me heal.

I'm thankful I was and still am so active, for I know that running helped save my life.  I'm so thankful that I followed the spirit's guidance and didn't allow those other doctors to bully me into a major surgery I don't need right now.  I know I am blessed with the gift to be healed.  I know this is a gift from God that I am recovering so well from these diseases.  He is blessing me greatly with supportive family, caring friends, modern medicine, and a good doctor.  I can see his hand in my healing, especially whenever my endocrinologist remarks how shocked he is by my quick progress in healing.  To me, this is a miracle.  Not only did I survive when I should've died, but I'm nearly entirely recovered from diseases that should be plaguing me for the rest of my life.  I know that I may not recover completely, but the point I'm at now is a miracle in and of itself.  I'm grateful I can run again.  I'm grateful I'm healthy again.  I'm grateful I can raise my daughter and ensure she has a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His love for her and her mother.

Apr 2, 2015

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ (FHE)

This Family Home Evening lesson is based on Chapter 44: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, from the LDS Gospel Principles Manual.  It goes along well with last week's lesson on Signs of the Second Coming.  To save time, both could be merged together for one lesson.

Song: We sang song #82 from the Primary Children's Songbook, When He Comes Again.  It goes as follows:
I wonder, when he comes again, Will herald angels sing?
Will earth be white with drifted snow, Or will the world know spring?
I wonder if one star will shine Far brighter than the rest;
Will daylight stay the whole night through? Will songbirds leave their nests?
I'm sure he'll call his little ones Together 'round his knee,
Because he said in days gone by, "Suffer them to come to me."
I wonder, when he comes again, Will I be ready there
To look upon his loving face And join with him in prayer?

Each day I'll try to do his will And let my light so shine

That others seeing me may seek For greater light divine.

Then, when that blessed day is here, He'll love me and he'll say,

"You've served me well, my little child; Come unto my arms to stay."

Lesson: Forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus and His Apostles were gathered together on the Mount of Olives. The time had come for Jesus to leave the earth. He had completed all the work that He had to do at that time. He was to return to our Heavenly Father until the time of His Second Coming (Acts 1:11).

When Jesus Christ comes again to the earth, He will do the following things:
1. He will cleanse the earth (D&C 101:24–25).
2. He will judge His people (Matthew 25:31–46, Revelation 20:4–5), FHE in two weeks will be on Judgement.
3. He will usher in the Millenium (D&C 88:96, Revelation 3:12), and next week's FHE will be on this.
4.  He will complete the first Resurrection.  Those who have obtained the privilege of coming forth in the resurrection of the just will rise from their graves. They will be caught up to meet the Savior as He comes down from heaven. (See D&C 88:97–98.)
5. He will take His rightful place as King of Heaven and of Earth (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15; 1 Nephi 22:24–26).

When Jesus Christ was born, very few people knew that the Savior of the world had come. When He comes again, there will be no doubt who He is. No one knows the exact time that the Savior will come again. “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36; see also D&C 49:7).  The best way we can prepare for the Savior’s coming is to accept the teachings of the gospel and make them part of our lives. We should live each day the best we can, just as Jesus taught when He was on the earth. We can look to the prophet for guidance and follow his counsel. We can live worthy to have the Holy Ghost guide us. Then we will look forward to the Savior’s coming with happiness and not with fear.

Activity: I found this cute lamp about the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).  I just set the lamp paper out and told June the parable.  I then explained how we need to make sure we are prepared for the Second Coming by filling our lamps with oil now.  I asked June what she can do to prepare herself.  With the help of my Dad, she listed off things we can do to prepare for the second coming and as she did I handed her a paper oil drop to put in her lamp.

Apr 1, 2015

Introducing Skirt Sports Ambassador Captain Rachel!

If you missed my extremely excited posts on Facebook and Twitter--or even if you did see them--then I am very pleased to announce that Skirt Sports has selected me to be one of their Ambassador Captains!  What does this mean?  In essence, it means that I have the opportunity to represent this company and promote a healthy active lifestyle for women everywhere.  I also get to test out and wear their super cute products.  I already love their apparel line--especially their running skirts--so this is a dream come true.

Skirt Sports says this about their ambassador captains:

Our Ambassadors are more than just athletes. They are real-life superheroes who believe that living an active, healthy lifestyle brings confidence, courage, balance and happiness to their busy lives. They are an extension of Skirt Sports in that they walk the healthy-livin’ talk, and through their efforts, create important ripple effects of inspiration and motivation to other runners, from beginners to seasoned veterans. They believe firmly in the transformative power of fitness and they are willing to go out of their way to share this love and passion with other women. They are Skirt Sports wear-testers, models, motivators, moms, sisters, wives, daughters, and friends, providing real-life feedback on their real-life bodies doing real-life activities in Skirt Sports products.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to represent such an inspirational company, and I'm flattered that Skirt Sports chose me to represent them.  It doesn't hurt that I have a new way for fuel my running addiction.  So be on the look out for me modeling their latest running skirts, shirts, and other apparel.  And if you love races, I'll keep you informed on their upcoming virtual and location race series.  To thank you for being such wonderful readers, here is 20% off your next Skirt Sports purchase:


Happy running and good luck in your fitness ventures.  #REALwomenmove