Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We can do hard things: run 13 miles, piano recital, read Les Miserables

Today is my 33rd birthday and life is good. Scott and I are going to go out to lunch today at an Indian Buffet since the kids have an orchestra concert tonight, and tonight we'll make some in-home Cafe Rio style foods; I'll try to have pictures and more details in another post. 

This past Saturday was my long run and I ran to the temple and did 13 miles in 1 hour 59 minutes and 33 seconds, which breaks down to about 9:10 min/mi which was slower than my 11 mile run with Robin, but she's fast and I had to keep up! This was my first time running 13 miles, and the week before was my first time running 11 miles. I've experienced a lot of firsts with this half marathon training, mostly with increased distance, but also with things like eating while I run and drinking water while I run, and having my legs shake for a couple of minutes after I just finished a long run. 

While I run, I mostly listen to general conference talks, and then my own thoughts. It's a special time for me.  I feel closer to the Lord when I'm out in nature, working my physical body and meditating. The temple pictured here was my half way point and you have to go up a big hill to get to it, which was hard, but perfect. I climbed that hill with my eyes set and focused on the temple, and on angel Moroni and it filled me with strength and determination to work harder and be better. It was a good reminder that life is hard, no one is exempt from trials and challenges, filled with mountains to climb, but if we will keep our focus upward, on the temple, and on our Savior Jesus Christ, by continually and daily nourishing our testimony, through scripture study, sincere prayer, and pondering,  we will make it through and everything will work out and we will be stronger and happier than we can even possibly imagine. Life is hard, but with the Lord on our side, we can do hard things. I love this scripture, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phillipians 4:13
I like to think that our kids are learning to do hard things at home :). Maybe that doesn't sound quite right, but what I mean is that we have them doing chores at a young age and then involved in private music lessons by age six, not because we're trying to raise concert pianists or the like, but because we want them to learn to work, to be disciplined and for them to see that when we work hard every day, and are diligent, that work pays off and we will improve. The kids are constantly being challenged in piano because they are continually doing harder and harder pieces, but they've seen time and time again that what once seems overwhelming and impossible, soon becomes bearable and then feels great to play! 

 Elisabeth had a recital last week and did very well. She had a small memory slip on one of her two songs, but I told her before hand, "If you mess up, who cares! I sure don't! I'll be smiling and cheering in my heart during your entire performance because you are amazing and you have worked and practiced so hard and I've heard you play it beautifully already so many times." She didn't agree, but I think it takes some pressure off to know that mom and dad will be proud of her no matter what.
After the recital (Annabelle went as well; Nora is not allowed yet because she's too young, so we take turns) I took the girls to Roxberry Juice where we got fresh juice and smoothies. Yummy and healthy which is perfect! 

 Another hard thing I've accomplished recently was finishing the book Les Miserables. There are over 1200 pages of small print, around 600,000 words, and this took me months of reading, granted I also read several other books during this time. This was my 'car' book for a long time which meant it stayed in the van and I would read as I waited for various things, usually as I waited for Elisabeth to get out of her hour long gymnastics class. The last 300 pages I listened to as I jogged or cleaned the house. The book has some long, drawn out parts about cities and the history etc which I may have skimmed over but there are some great truths in the book. I wrote out several of my favorite quotes and parts from the book and they are below:

"you need not tell me who you are. this is not my house; it is the house of Christ. it does not ask any comer whether he has a name but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty. be welcome and do not thank me. do not tell me that I take you into my house. this is the home of no man except him who needs an asylum. I tell you, who are a traveler, that you are more at home here then I; whatever is here is yours. what need have I to know your name? besides, before you told me, I knew it."
 "really? you knew my name?"
 "yes," answered the bishop, "your name is, my brother." Pg66 

(I absolutely loved the bishop and later, Jean Valjean. I loved their love for others, their unselfishness, their humility)

after Jean valjean steals the silver and is caught by the police and brought back to the bishop, when the Bishop sees him he says"ah, there you are!" said he looking towards John Valjean, " I am glad to see you. but I gave you the candlesticks also which are silver like the rest and would bring 200 francs. why did you not take them along with your plates?" Then the bishop approached him and in a low voice says, "Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man." Jean valjean who had no recollection of this promise stood confounded. the bishop had laid much stress upon these words as he uttered them. he continued solemnly, "John Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil but to good. it is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God" pg 90 

(This is one of my favorite parts in the book. I love the bishops goodness, his trust and faith in Jean Valjean who just messed up big time. I love that he loves all people but does not condone sin or sinful behavior; just like the Savior! but he still loves and helps them a long the way to become better.)

Fantine suffers and sins much and is in an awful state of hatred and distress when jean valjean (who changed his name to Madeline, started over and is now mayor) steps in to save her. "She listened with dismay, she looked around with alarm and at each word that Monsieur Madeleine uttered, she felt the fearful darkness of her hatred melt within and flow away, while there was born in her heart an indescribable and unspeakable warmth of joy, of confidence, and of love." He immediately forgives her wrongs and pays her debts and promises to help her get her daughter back and take care of them. Pg 167

A man is caught and thought to be Jean valjean and sentenced to life in the galleys (prison) and Monsieur Madeline (Jean valjean) finds out and has to make a choice: be silent and let the man go to prison in his place, or come out and tell all who he is, giving up everything and all he's worked for for years. "to lend himself to it by his silence, to do nothing, finally, was to do all! it was the last degree of hypocritical meanness! it was a base, cowardly, lying, abject, hideous crime!..... He recognized that One of these ideas was necessarily good, while the other might become evil. that the former was devotion and that the latter was selfishness. that the one said "the neighbor" and that the other said "me." that the one came from the light and the other from the night." Pg 190-191 

Of Marius it says, "for him a debt was the beginning of slavery." Pg 576  True words.
"he looks at humanity so much that he sees the soul, he looks at creation so much that he sees God... every morning he sets about earning his bread and while his hands are earning his living, his backbone is gaining firmness, his brain is gaining ideas. when his work is done he returns to ineffable ecstasies, to contemplation, to Joy. he sees his feet in difficulties, in obstacle, on the pavement, in thorns, sometimes in the Mire; his head is in the light. he is firm, Serene gentle, peaceful, attentive, serious , content with little, benevolent; and he blesses God for having given him these two estates which many of the rich are without; labor which makes him free and thought which makes him Noble. this is what had taken place in Marius." Pg 579 

Of Jean valjean thinking of Cosette (like daughter) "he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being." Pg 751 

"if there is anything more poignant than a body agonizing for want of bread, it is a soul which is dying of hunger for light." Pg 842  (Ah!!! So True!!!! Feed both body and soul; body with food and water, soul with words of Christ. )

"Jean valjeans generosity towards him, Javert, overwhelmed him. Javert felt that something horrible was penetrating his soul, admiration for a convict . respect for a galley slave, cannot be possible? he shuttered at it, yet could not shake it off... A beneficent malefactor , a compassionate convict, kind , helpful , clement , returning good for evil, returning pardon for hatred , loving pity rather than vengeance , preferring to destroy himself rather than to destroy his enemy, saving him who had stricken him , kneeling upon the height of virtue, nearer the angels than men." Pg 1107 

Jean valjean alone, 80 and dying but Cosette and Marius come. God said, " you think that you are going to be abandoned, dolt? No. No, it shall not come to pass like that. come, here is a poor good man who has need of an angel. and the angel comes and & I see my cosette again. and I see my darling cosette again!" Pg 1215  (an emotional part of the book)

"to her I bequeath the two candlesticks which are on the mantle. they are silver , but to me they are gold , they are diamond ; they change the candles which are put into them into consecrated tapers . I do not know whether he who gave them to me is satisfied with me in heaven . I have done what I could....my children, do not weep, I am not going very far, I shall see you from there." Pg 1221 (where your treasure is, there will your heart be also)

1 comment:

Donna said...

Elisa,this is Donna Nielsen. I am April Huntington's Mom. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to share these thoughts which have touched me deeply. You and your family are living proof of the benefits that come from living a loving and light-filled consecrated life.