Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Will Never Forget

I have to write about my experience this past Sunday in remembrance of that fateful day in New York and Washington D.C. Mobile sponsored a 5K run called the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. When I read that you get to run through the Bankhead tunnel into downtown Mobile I was thrilled and signed up immediately. I knew that it was for a good cause, but it was running through the tunnel that really appealed to me. But then I heard the story.

Here it is:

By the time Stephen Siller was 10 years old, he had already lost both parents. Although he went through a period of struggle, because of the love of his siblings and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11th, firefighter Stephen Siller had just gotten off the late shift at Squad 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn. He was on his way to play golf with his brothers on that bright clear day when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. When he heard the news, he called his wife Sally to tell her he would be late because he had to help those in need. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear, then took his final heroic steps to the World Trade Center. When Stephen drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, it was already closed to traffic . With sixty pounds of gear strapped to his back, he ran through the Tunnel, hoping to meet up with his own company, Squad 1.

Stephen was first and foremost a loving husband and father to five children. He was also a dedicated fireman, devoted brother, loyal friend and committed neighbor. His life brought great light to those around him.

He did not make it out alive, he gave his life to help others. As I ran through the tunnel I heard the hollers and whoops of others around me. I couldn't tell if they were doing it as a rally cheer, or if they were just as giddy as I initially was when I first found out I was going to be running the tunnel. But for me it was a very emotionally draining experience. I placed myself in Stephen Siller's place. Instantly I imagined it was me running to these towers, to help, and ultimately to my death. I thought of his family left behind, I can totally relate being a wife with 5 kids. Without warning I felt the flood gates open and I started crying while I was running. A part of me wanted to show my respect by embracing these feelings of remorse, the other part was forcing me to stop so I could BREATHE!

As I came out of the tunnel the fire department had their trucks set up so they could hang the American flag at the top of the tunnel. It really was an amazing run. I will never forget the lives that were lost or the sacrifices these brave men and women made, but I will always feel a closer bond with Stephen Siller and his family because of this run.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Excel to the End

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
2 Nephi 31:20 The Book of Mormon

When I was in Institute, (it's like a Bible study class for people who are in college) I had this really awesome teacher. Bro. Asquith was his name. One night he read this passage from The Book of Mormon. By itself it is a powerful message, but Bro. Asquith put a spin on it that took it to another level. Focus on the phrase, "endure to the end".

ENDURE- to continue in the same state; to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding

Yes, we should endure. Life can be hard, we may have to overcome suffering and misfortune. And it's vital that we are unyielding in our faith and hold fast that the Lord has a plan for us. But what if we change the word endure and replace it with excel?

EXCEL- to be superior to ; surpass in accomplishment or achievement

Bro. Asquith had us substitute endure with excel and this passage took on another meaning. We should overcome trials, but we don't have to continue in the same state. The 13th Article of Faith says:

13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things! To excel is to do more than just endure. We must be actively seeking to become better, better at being honest, better at being chaste and benevolent, better at doing good to all men.

Putting it in this perspective really opened my eyes to my potential. I can excel, I can do more. I don't feel remaining in the same state is all I can do. Sometimes while I am enduring I feel like a get a little stagnant. I don't feel like I am slipping backwards, but I don't feel like I am moving forward either. Without progression one cannot grow, you will remain in your current state.

I try to achieve this progression through goals. Setting goals is something I learned back in my Young Woman years. My goal right now is to read The Book of Mormon again. I have read it 3 times in my life. I know it should be more. There have been several times that I have set the goal to read The Book of Mormon again, and just can't seem to complete it. Now I have motivation in that Facebook has added a challenge to read The Book of Mormon starting now and finishing before the new year. I have signed up for this goal and am determined to complete it this time.

In fact, if anyone wants to join me in this you are more than welcome...hint, hint....Don't sweat it if you don't have one either. I got the hook up for ya'. Just go HERE and one will get sent out to you right away absolutely FREE! You're welcome! And then this way we can all excel together!