Thursday, November 27, 2014

Work Hard and the same time

Happy Thanksgiving!
I ran 13.1 miles this morning. This was my third (and slowest) half marathon, but I wanted to share some things I learned through the somewhat painful process. Then anyone who reads this can learn what I learned and not have to run a half marathon! What a bargain :-)

Gratitude gives you energy
My favorite part of this race (besides running it with my husband) was the different signs along the way, expressing gratitude for different blessings. I honestly felt a burst of energy when I would remember my blessings as I ran. Gratitude connects you to God.

Relax and trust God
I learned this when I was training. I would set a goal to run as fast as I could to a certain spot, then walk, then pick another spot to run to. At one point I found I wasn't running all that fast and I would tense up and try to run faster. It hurt, but my speed didn't increase much. The I remembered, "Wait a minute, I know how to handle pain, I have had 7 babies! I just need to relax." I made myself relax, and I found I ran a lot faster and with less pain. I practiced this through the race.

It reminded me that while it is important to have a goal I am trying to reach, as I move toward it, I need to relax and trust God instead or relying on my own strength and efforts.

This morning I wrote an email to a friend about an issue I wanted to help her with. While I was running, I realized that in my efforts to help, I was a little worried and tense. I said some things I probably should have kept to myself in my desire to help her see what I perceived was the truth. During my run, I realized that even though my intent was to help, I would have been more helpful if I had only said those things I felt would help her want to seek truth from the real source of truth instead of being so blunt about my opinion. I was trying to follow the spirit, but I don't think the Spirit pushes thoughts on anyone without their consent. Maybe I wan't trusting God enough. I am not sure. But I do know I don't want to send emails anymore if I am in a state of worry.

Pay the price to be prepared
This may seem like the opposite of what I just talked about, but I think the two principles compliment each other nicely. I didn't train for this half marathon as well as I trained for the other two I ran. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to finish. My time was 2:26. It was a lot better then I expected to get. But it was over 2 minutes slower - per mile - then the last half marathon I ran. For that one, nothing kept me home from going on a training run. I ran in cold, icy weather in the dark Baltimore streets. This time, I skipped runs if it was too cold or if I got too busy. It is okay - I had different priorities this time around. But it reminded me how each day I make decisions that determine how prepared I will be for the work God has for me to do.

When that work comes my way (as it does every day), I can be sort of prepared and unsure or I can be excited and well prepared. Preparation for a half marathon can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and not always fun. Especially when your house is so warm and outside is so cold! The decisions I make each day can be to do the comfortable and easy, but those won't help me reach my potential.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Do you Feel the Storm Brewing?

Does anyone feel a shift lately? I have talked to others who seem to be feeling it.  I don't know if it is general, but I know I am feeling a sense of a tempest in my midst and the necessity of securing my family.

It almost feel like the word is the ocean,  the Gospel - my life-jacket, my ability to swim and the sustenance I will need through the voyage...
and my home is the boat.

I feel this need to strengthen my boat - to patch up any holes, to make it sure and sturdy for my children.  Because they are going to need it.

The waves are towering high above us. I see youth I love getting thrown overboard and trying to swim back. I see my own kids getting tossed by the building waves and reaching out to me and their dad to take their hand and  help them hold on tight.

I think the ocean was more mellow just a few years ago.  We could swim around a little and swim back to secure our life jackets once in a while and be alright. But the ocean is full of eddies now, the waves are high and unpredictable, and the storm is increasingly intense. Our boat, or "barge", needs to be "tight like unto a dish" (Ether 2)

I am not saying any of this in a spirit of fear. I trust in Him who can walk on water and calm the storms. I just feel a sense of the importance of my role in making a safe place amidst the storm.

I sometimes wonder if Satan ever feels ashamed of himself at the ruthless ways he is attacking our youth. He fights dirty with no holds barred. I have been taken aback by the unexpected ways he penetrates my children's armor. He sneaks up on them - even when their intentions are good - and tricks them into traps. I am grateful for the open communication we have so far and that we have been able to see those traps and make an effort together to move away from them. But we have to be consistently vigilant.

So I am seeking to be guided in how to make my home a strong place of safety.  I am learning that it is not just the environment that needs to be uplifting - it is also the relationships. This means we need to spend time together, learn to forgive one another, and care for each other.* 
*I know many families are missing a father or a mother, but I also know the Lord makes up the difference in those situations and helps us patch up the boat to what it needs to be to make it through the storms. I have seen it numerous times.

I am finding that even the great adult-planned activities and classes offered in our community can distract from this more important purpose. We start to feel pulled apart in different directions and become too busy for one another.

Then there is the peer-directed activities! Spice is getting older and opportunities arise every weekend night to go be with friends. It is culturally acceptable, even in diligent families, to let youth hang out, unsupervised, in mixed gender groups for an evening out at an event or someone's house (where the parents are home, but no where to be seen). Initially, I too thought this was okay.  I have an amazing daughter and I trust her immensely. A couple of years ago, I went to one of these events with her and I watched all of these good youth there without parents. I then knew it was a cultural norm that was not approved of by the Lord (at least for my daughter - not speaking for anyone else). She will be dating in a year and will get to enjoy group dates and fun unsupervised social activities at a time approved of by the Lord. (By the way, before I get emails from well-meaning people about how I can't shelter my kids forever, I'm not saying she doesn't get to go anywhere without me - just that we are very careful about what activities we approve of and we make sure they are well supervised by a trusted adult.)

In the mean time, we are working on making our family relationships strong. We are working on having fun together, caring for one another and uplifting one another.  Sure, there is still contention in our home, but it is not accepted and we use it to teach important lessons. I tell my kids that if we can't get along with each other, we have no business leaving the home to be with friends.  Family relationships must be strong and secure. We must make sure our boat is leak-free before we go visit other boats :-) It is then good to find other families who are working to make their boats secure so we can help one another with our boat-building tips and tricks :-)

I know tough times are ahead. I know my kids will likely fall overboard at times and have to find their way back. I just want to be sure that I am doing my part to teach them to secure their life-jackets, to strengthen their swimming muscles and to know that their family will be there, paddling out to them, reaching out their hands to help them back on board to a place of safety.