Hope Like a Balloon

Hot air balloons. Helium balloons. Truly magical, if you don’t understand the science behind their buoyancy. And even magical if you do, in my opinion.

Do you remember how it was to experience your first helium balloon?  When you were a child, were you astounded at how everything else you knew fell downward… except that beautiful, shiny ball in the air? It did two things: it ascended upward, and it helped you feel happier.

As you got older, maybe you allowed it to become more of a a commonplace phenomenon.

Even now, every time I stop to think about it, my spirits are lifted as I watch the pull of a balloon rising in the opposite direction of everything else around it.

All it is, is a container full of a gas that happens to be lighter than the oxygen/carbon dioxide mixture in the air, and when a balloon is full of a gas that is lighter than the gas mixture of its surroundings, it naturally rises above them.

Our thoughts, kept buoyant by focusing on the positive, also have the ability to pull US up and out of downer circumstances.

Every time you consciously choose a solution-oriented, hopeful, enthusiastically-expectant-of-good-things kind of thought, you fill your MIND with stuff that is lighter in nature than the common thoughts of negativity and discouragement.

It’s science:

Hopeful, buoyant thoughts do more than just help you feel good; they literally LIFT you above adversity like helium in a balloon.

So fill your mind with light-thinking, and in time, you’ll naturally rise above the gunk. The stuff that pulls you down will fall out of your life, like ballast out of a hot air balloon.

For a tank full of helium of the mind, I strongly recommend joining me in the Mindset Mastery Program.

I’ll help you keep your thoughts buoyant. I’ll give you REASON to hope, and a valid reason to have it, too. I’ll fill your mind with the stuff that will help you rise above your challenges, no matter what they are.

To your success! Originally published Oct 27, 2009

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Twenty dollars and a curious visitor

Sorry – I accidentally criss-crossed two different stories. Click here to read about the UPS delivery mentioned in this morning’s newsletter. Continue below to read about the twenty dollars and curious visitor.

Here’s Cari’s Mindset Mastery midterm experience:

It is difficult for me to attempt anything without scriptural reference. That includes my mid-term assignment.

When I consider the Law of Perpetual Transmutation, one of my favorite scriptures comes to mind. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” – Acts 2:17

Visions and dreams are an opportunity to create and see a future for you and those around you to “live into.” Prophesy speaks to me as an opportunity to make a declaration of those visions and dreams.

I was all too excited about taking this assignment on, and I have two examples to share:

Curious visitor

Just last week friends gave me a birthday party at a Karaoke lounge and when I stepped through the doors my spirit spoke within, “be in the world but not of the world” – (John 17:14-15). I immediately seized the environment with all my love and decided that everyone I encountered would be left bigger and brighter. The evening began with a few country songs that I was familiar with, thanks to my Alabama father. Then the evening began to escalate into a “party” environment. Since we did not have a private area for my birthday celebration, I continued to stand in mental declaration that I am in the world but not of the world. I could see angels all around me, a hedge of protection.

Immediately a woman who seemed odd in every way for the environment approached me. She introduced herself to me, as Katherine. Katherine appeared to be about 70 years of age. Her fashion was dated, and she had a large flower in her hair. She was alone, so I asked her why she had come, she said, “to celebrate your birthday.”

Before I could process anything, Katherine was at the mic singing Amazing Grace! I felt this pull and I joined her. Everyone in the lounge joined her. It was truly amazing. She hugged me, and we took a selfie together. I turned to ask if she would like to sit with me and my husband and she was gone. The lounge had quieted, and people were connected and kind. As me and my friends left the building, one of them said, “What was that?” to which I responded, “Homework.”

Twenty dollars

The second …was sweet and simple in comparison. Without any urgency associated with it, I set a goal of $20 within the timeframe of five days, Monday – Friday. I took time to visualize twenty-dollar bills falling from the ceiling in my living room. By Wednesday I had stopped looking for it to fall from the sky (laughing). Friday morning comes, and I am in a state of “out of sight, out of mind” and I remained confident.

My son asked me to pick up some things for him at Walmart. In our family we use an app called Square cash to send and receive money from each other. I sent my son a request for $25. Later when I was at the store, I noticed he had not sent the funds, so I text messaged him reminding him to send the $25. I heard the notification chime that the funds had arrived and I was able to make the purchase. When I returned home, I heard another chime and saw he had sent an additional $25, but why? I wondered. I looked at the transactions and saw I had actually received the $25 from his father. Turns out when I sent the reminder to my son, I accidentally sent it to his father (laughing). (I immediately told my ex-husband I would return the money, but he said no.) I was so certain this was my result.

But then I went out to take more bags out of the car and as I closed the hatch, there it was on the ground by my foot! I was like, SERIOUSLY?!?! A fresh $20 laying flat on the ground. It must have fallen from the sky. I looked around and then walked from corner to corner to find the person who lost it. I knocked on my neighbors doors but no one had lost it. I posted in the neighborhood Facebook page and still nothing. It was my manifested vision… I knew it was the result of the assignment …irrefutably this work.

Learn more about the Mindset Mastery program here.

The 12-week Mindset Mastery Program is not to be confused with the 8-week Mindset Fundamentals Ecourse. The Fundamentals Ecourse is a powerful exploration of the principles that govern success, and takes an introductory approach for effective goal setting. By contrast, the Mastery Program is more focused on the *implementation* of the principles and the *achievement* of your goals. It is full of interesting assignments that take you step-by-step through two experimental goals, challenging your thought processes, helping you experience success, and setting up a pattern in your thinking that you will be able to utilize over and over for effectiveness with all of your future goals. I hope you’ll join me in one of these programs, to help you take your understanding and success to the next level in ALL the different areas of your life.

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Is Victory Really Possible?

When challenges come, it’s easy to doubt whether there really is success to be had on the other side. The wall seems too high, the bricks too large, you feel too small to go over it, and too weak to break through it. A continual barrage of setbacks can cause you to question even the possibility of victory.

At a time when I was beginning to wonder if some of MY dreams were like the proverbial carrot, dangling in front of my face and never getting any closer, some of them felt like they were already years overdue. I tried to keep moving my feet in that direction, but I was really beginning to wonder. I don’t think I had ever been stretched that far…

But gratefully, God finally let it materialize. I felt sobered and grateful, and I didn’t take it for granted.

If you’re questioning the possibility of victory, know that the success is already there awaiting your arrival, and keep moving in that direction until you reach it. There is no “IF;” there’s only “WHEN.” I know that’s true on a deeper level than before. I’m a different and better person for having my own perseverance so severely tested.

I knew the challenges were good, because I had long since learned that with the laws of success, the challenges are actually part of the recipe for the very cake I ordered. But I had begun to wonder if the challenges would ever give way to the victory. Gratefully, I was reminded (again) that they eventually do.

Every time I have set a goal of significant magnitude, I have been obliged to face a challenge or two (or three, or a HUNDRED) that needed to be overcome before I would finally enjoy the victory I sought. But now I can say with certainty that our dreams are ours because they are possible, and are waiting for us at the end of our persistence test.

By the grace of God, it comes. But God does not give us the victory if WE stop preparing for it.

Each time, this goal setting process seems to stretch me to my limits, and beyond. Yes, each time. The more I go through the process, however, the more practice I have in enduring it. Every story of success I share with you has an untold struggle that went with it. No matter how many times I’ve succeeded, the process repeats itself to some degree.

Having an understanding of the process doesn’t take the process away, it simply makes it bearable and helps me to keep doing my part. It gives me peace of mind to realize and be consciously aware that the darkness, uncertainty, and turmoil in the middle is simply the gift, the opportunity to prove myself. It’s where I can exercise my faith like a muscle, demonstrate my drive to press on (though it may feel like I’m crawling to the finish line, bleeding and delirious), and hold fast to my expectancy of the WIN on the other side. Knowing how the Law works, I begin to feel differently about the struggle, and seeing it for what it is, I’m able to be more grateful for it, and thus the sooner I’m able to receive.

The Miracle’s Promise

My son has been putting himself through college with a determination to pay as he goes. Each semester has had its own set of challenges, and each time he has discovered different and unexpected solutions that helped him through. Two weeks before the end of his most recent semester, he called and said, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m just DONE.”

So I gave him a pep talk, encouraging him to find the strength to give it just two more weeks and finish strong, imagining how good it will feel to look back on it with relief and amazement at what he had accomplished. He had already long since let go of the hope that he would get straight A’s, which would have been his ticket to tuition waivers for future semesters. He was resigned to getting B’s in half of his classes, but even still, he couldn’t seem to muster the energy to go even another day.

We brainstormed on a few next steps that he could take to get himself out of the funk. I reminded him to speak strength. Instead of affirming that he can’t keep going, I wasn’t going to hang up the phone until I heard him say, “I can do this” and then projecting our minds forward, I also wanted to hear him say, “I DID IT.”

I also encouraged him to talk to one of his professors and explain the reason he missed the mandatory attendance day. He had skipped class that day to drive 4 hours and pick his sister up at the SLC airport to deliver her to the MTC – the last time he would see her for 18-months. We decided it couldn’t hurt; maybe the professor would show some mercy and adjust his score.

As he spoke strength, he immediately gained strength. We finished our call and he was back to the books.

Two weeks later, he called to say, “Well, it’s all done. It’s over. Every single class is behind me now, and I’m on my way home (a 16 hour drive).” He related how he felt about each of his finals, and though he knows his performance wasn’t totally stellar, he was at peace, knowing he had given it his all. He had done better than expected in a few of them, but it was yet to be seen how his final projects would be graded.

Twenty MINUTES later, he walked through my door! That kid totally punked me! He and his brother had actually finished the day before, and had driven through the night to surprise me. I was SO thankful I didn’t know they were on the wintery roads and driving through the night; it spared me 16 hours of worry. 🙂

Soon after, he logged into the system to check his grades. Somehow, he ended up with straight A’s after all. He kind of just stared at it numbly with a faint grin on his face. It was the only reaction he had energy for, after such a grueling 4 months.

Later he came to me and thoughtfully reflected:

“Mom, I don’t think miracles have ever made my life easier; they just made things possible.”

I have pondered that many time since. And it’s true. Maybe you didn’t know this is how the Law works.

Your job is to set the goal, see it done, feel the victory ahead of time, take action when opportunities and/or ideas come along (no matter how frightening they may be), and finally, do not neglect the final ingredient to the recipe:

Perseverance.

Because your greatest victories will always follow the most intense struggles.

“Then, what is are the laws for if I still have to endure challenges?”

They simply guarantee you will be provided with everything you need to accomplish the goal, and that it will all show up just when you need it, at the right and perfect time, and sometimes only after appearances indicate the opposite, and after you choose to be at peace, anyway. It promises that if you can conceive it, you can achieve it.

It’s amazing if you think about it. Isn’t it better than no guarantee at all?

So now, think about that goal you want to achieve, and know this:

It’s possible, and that’s a miracle. So keep at it until you achieve it.  Originally published Mar 29, 2008

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Dealing with fear in relationships

An anonymous letter from one of our Mindset Mastery participants:

I married someone who has a lot of struggles inside.  He is a good man, but as soon as we were married, he showed a temper I had no idea he had.  He never hurt me physically, but I was constantly worried about his reactions to everything, and when ANYTHING else in my life felt out of my control, I panicked, knowing I couldn’t keep peace with him, be a capable mom, and take care of whatever else was suddenly going on, and what his reaction would be.

His struggles are his, but for a while, he was more than willing to try to make them everyone’s, and I let him.  After nearly ten years of marriage, I put my foot down (trembling the whole time) and said things had to change, or we were through.  I couldn’t stand doing that, but his constant unreasonable outbursts were the way we gauged everything in our lives, and it wasn’t healthy for the children to be raised in that environment, or for me to live in fear of it.  He backed off considerably, much to my relief, but I realized, as the years passed, that he was who he was–even if he kept his outbursts limited and only in front of me–and his struggles were what they were, because in his heart, he hadn’t let go of whatever he struggled with emotionally, and he didn’t see it, either.  I knew that even if I walked away from this relationship, I’d still have to know how to handle my actions around someone like that since the chances of never encountering an angry or insecure person again were pretty small.  

I began praying more than ever, but my prayers changed.  I wanted to know how to help and support my husband, how to be the mom that empowered her children, and to be so secure and peaceful inside myself, that no one could shake my faith or my confidence.  I had been raised to worry about what everyone thought, and to “make them happy.”  I hadn’t bought into that (I thought), but when I got married, that original programming came out like a hidden monster.  It was not like me to be so rattled, but I’m grateful it happened, because it showed me the monster, and it showed me that I had a choice as to what to do about it.  

At this time (which was at about 15 years), several things showed up for me, and the Jackrabbit Factor was one of them.  I started to dream about things I never knew could even be done, and realized I was not a victim, but had subconsciously been telling myself I was one.  All of the resentment, frustration, and defeat because of my fear to push too far surfaced in a glaring light.  I had a health condition that pushed me to the edge mentally, emotionally and physically.  Prayers turned into meditation as well, and petitions for an occasional Priesthood blessing.

At the beginning of the Mindset Mastery Program I knew I had to grow more than I had, because I felt that while I had “learned much,” I was not progressing past a certain point.  I felt I had done a lot of work, but there was still some fear that wouldn’t let me get past the “wall”–something I now refer to as “The Terror Barrier.”  I felt my Father in Heaven was more than happy to let me choose what to do, but I had to decide to do it.  I kept forgetting that He was on my side–I just had to believe it and be on His.  There was a line I was afraid to cross, and I always held back.

My goal was to be myself, to cross that line and not be so “trained” by fear that I would always quit right before that place of freedom was reached.  I was tired of living in a land of “what-ifs” and “when-you’re-in-a-corner-give-up-or-you-won’t-get-out.”  I wanted to be firm about standing up to my husband when needed, but coming from a place of love, and forgiving him, and loving him while being steadfast and immovable.  I wanted my choices to be about what was right, and not worry if he was desperate to be the one who was right.  He could do what he wanted, but I wasn’t going to hold back when things got intense, anymore.

I thought of all of my scriptural heroes, who had so much opposition, but so much faith that no one could make them do or say anything that they didn’t feel was reconciled with God and His will.  I wanted to be like that.  I realized many times, that the only thing keeping me from breaking out of the prison I had made for myself in my subconscious was the fear that my kids would suffer emotionally if I really ever told my husband my true opinions or feelings at times when it could bring a negative reaction from him.

I also realized that I was setting the example for my children, of being afraid, and of not standing up to someone when it was the right thing, even if the conversations that were intense happened in private with my husband.  Also, I wanted to show my kids that being angry back was not the answer.

This all got wrapped up in my goal in the Mindset Mastery Program. After I set the goal to let go of fear and trust God, one of the things that happened to help me push through the Terror Barrier was a blessing I received, telling me to not be afraid of the reactions of my husband, and to move forward, without fear, because God would take the fear away if I asked. I could easily fall back into fear if I wanted, but I made a choice, and got it out of my head and into my heart. I decided that whatever happened, it would be okay, and I haven’t looked back, even though it’s sometimes tempting to do so!  I just tell myself–I am creating a great life moment by moment with God, and I am so grateful for everything!  I’m grateful even for the challenges, because even though I don’t understand everything, I know God loves His children, and good will come of everything, somehow. 

I have a choice, and I choose to believe.

We have been married now over twenty years this week, and my oldest is getting ready to be married. She has chosen wisely, and I’m so grateful for that! More work will always need to be done, because new goals will always need to be set, but for the first time in a very long time, I no longer make every choice based on the reaction–or possible reaction–of others.  It is so freeing and healing to no longer be Pavlov’s dog.  The learning that has happened as a result of this relationship may not have happened if things had been easier, so I’m grateful for that, too.  Like I said before–I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m excited about it now, instead of being defeated and resigned to something I have to fear.  What does that mean, exactly?  I guess we’ll see–one choice at a time as I draw closer to Christ.

My response:

Thank you for taking the time to share such a tender, difficult story. You’ve done an amazing job at using the principles to transition to a better place. There are a lot of women (and men, I’m sure) who live under the same kind of fear every day.  Thank you for allowing me to share it (anonymously). I also want to commend you for your stedfast intentions to make the changes with love and consideration for your husband, rather than out of animosity or defense.  I’m sure it’s not always easy even still (even the most ideal situations have their rough spots), but I’m especially grateful because your story paints a beautiful picture of what’s possible, which I’m sure will help others create a more healthy vision for themselves.

Congratulations on your good, hard work. I hope you will continue to stay in touch and keep me updated on your victories, as I’m sure this is only the beginning. 🙂

Her last reply shows what an amazing person she really is, and it paints a vivid picture of the kind of person we might all aspire to be:

I’m glad if it can help people… I was walking on eggshells for so long, and even the money I was given was limited and scrutinized and criticized.  If I didn’t stop talking to whomever I was talking to on the phone, or stop doing what I was doing and do what he wanted, he would get upset and I would worry about the kids.  If I left a room without turning the light out right away, I got reprimanded.  

I know now that my financial–and physical, spiritual, intellectual, mental, and emotional–state are something I can create with my Father in Heaven, and I have a choice. Not everyone knows that. I don’t know what good may come of all of this, but I do know good will come of it–and much already has–and I’m grateful for all the experiences. Whenever I feel that resentment is wanting to work its way back into my heart, I do something to serve my husband. He doesn’t usually notice, and if he does, he doesn’t seem to appreciate it, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because it’s who I am, whether it seems he “deserves” it or not. Plus, it helps bring gratitude and love into my heart, and I want to be that person. What we send out comes back, too, as you well know. But whether I get anything for it or not, it helps me to be better, it changes how I feel, and it shows love where I could show frustration or anger. God knows what I do, and that’s truly enough for me. He is my Father, and I am His child, and I love doing things that help me to feel I’m doing my best to be like Him. I love my husband–I can honestly say that. Those that seem to “deserve” love the least, usually need it the most. So, maybe, some of the good that will come from all of this is to share it with others–I can definitely see that.  I have every belief that that is true. God was on my side all along, I just wouldn’t see it; I didn’t know how. Maybe this will help others who feel the same way. I do want to come from a place of love, and if there’s ever a time when I can tell I won’t, I wait. If what I have to say is needed, the time will come when I feel right in addressing it, and from that place where the Spirit dwells, instead of contention.

Thank you for your words, Leslie.  After reading your books and hearing your podcasts and reading your blog, I’ve come to see your words as those of an old friend–I hope you don’t mind; they do bring me joy and comfort… Thank you for being you.

This dear woman is a Mindset Mastery Program participant. Learn more about the Mindset Mastery program here.

The 12-week Mindset Mastery Program is not to be confused with the 8-week Mindset Fundamentals Ecourse. The Fundamentals Ecourse is a powerful exploration of the principles that govern success, and takes an introductory approach for effective goal setting. By contrast, the Mastery Program is more focused on the *implementation* of the principles and the *achievement* of your goals. It is full of interesting assignments that take you step-by-step through two experimental goals, challenging your thought processes, helping you experience success, and setting up a pattern in your thinking that you will be able to utilize over and over for effectiveness with all of your future goals. I hope you’ll join me in one of these programs, to help you take your understanding and success to the next level in ALL the different areas of your life.

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What happens between point A and point B

Occasionally, I like to spotlight different students in our Mindset Mastery program and share their experiences with learning to apply the principles.

Today’s spotlight is on Mindset Mastery student Stephanie F., who writes:

I have an Amazon Rental (for a college textbook) due today. Last night, after completing the last lesson in Phase 2, I decided that I would visualize the UPS man coming to our home to deliver a package by noon that is currently en route, so he could pick up the return rental package for me before I’m charged a late fee. Now… the UPS man normally doesn’t come until mid afternoon, but a 12 o’clock delivery would give me enough time to drop off the package to the local drop off if he didn’t take it – still avoiding the $26 late charge.

The kids and I watched for him all morning. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t come until close to 12, because I think God advocates a “last minute principle” that encourages the building of our faith. Ha ha

12:15 rolled around. No UPS man. 12:30 comes and I have the thought to look out the window. The UPS man!! But he was driving past our house on his way back to town. I wondered, “Do I still choose to believe?” But then I had the thought to look on Amazon and see if it said my package was for sure out for delivery. I did so, and I had looked at it wrong. The package being delivered today was going to my brother; mine is not scheduled to come until tomorrow.

I felt sincere gratitude that [at least] I had the idea to look outside, so that I wouldn’t wait around all day for him to come.

I figured I better run the package into town and drop it off. I called ahead and asked what time the UPS man picks up from there, and they said 11:00 a.m. (Uh oh) but that [fortunately for me] they hadn’t seen him yet today.

I’m 10 minutes from town, and I knew the driver was ahead of me because I had seen him heading back. I jumped in the car and raced down there, visualizing that I had made it in time, and feeling so grateful.

I got there, and a different lady than the one who answered the phone told me he had already come early that morning. Well…I had a choice. I could leave it there and get charged a $26 late fee, or drive an hour away to another drop off and spend almost that much on gas money for my Suburban.

I decided to just leave it there and then CHOSE to feel grateful again for seeing him pass my house, helping me be confident in my choice because I knew he wouldn’t be coming to my house that day.

…As I drove home, I had the thought that I wanted a candy bar. Ha ha I drove over to the Dollar Store, and as I came around the corner….who was parked right between the Dollar Store and another business, but the UPS man! I jumped out of the car, ran over and told him my situation (minus all the JackRabbit stuff – ha ha), and he said he had to drive right past the drop off point and would be happy to pick up my package!

It worked!! We got it in on time!

What did I learn?

1. It doesn’t always happen the way you think it will.
2. Listen to those thoughts and ideas and act on them!
3. You have to be grateful along the way – even when all evidence points to it not working.
4. You can’t base your visualization on false information – or non-truths. I thought the UPS man was already scheduled to come to my house. I just wanted him to come before noon. But I couldn’t have faith in something that was never supposed to happen to begin with. And still, everything worked out perfectly and seamlessly as far as it was able.

Yay!!!

With so many moving parts, and so many possible outcomes, it’s just amazing to me (but never surprising) when a student experiences for themselves the wonder and serendipity that comes from choosing the right thoughts. There are two points that are fixed and sure: your starting point, and your decided end-point. What’s going to happen in the middle between point A and point B is anyone’s guess, and it doesn’t matter! But as long as you think right in the middle, the end point is a done deal.

What do YOU choose to be your end point? I want to help you get there. Join me now in the Mindset Mastery program and just see for yourself what a shift in thinking between point A and point B will do for you!

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Thinking Right at Christmas

The following was shared with me as “A Letter From Jesus,” author unknown. It helped me remember to keep peace in my heart in spite of society’s sometimes seasonal conflicts. Since happiness at Christmastime should be measured NOT in terms of money spent but joy shared, let’s be peacemakers and consider these alternative ways to spend our energy this season:

Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival (although I do appreciate being remembered anytime).

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that, let Me go on.

If it bothers you that the town you live in doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that, there wouldn’t be a need for such a scene on the town square because there would be so many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about people calling the tree a Holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. I made all the trees. You can remember Me any time you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. (I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you, and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15:1-8.)

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, here is My wish list. Choose something from it.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid, and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing your President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family? Then follow up. (It will be nice to hear from you again.)

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive them.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile. It could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hotline: they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit-picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas,” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary — especially one who takes My love and good news to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them (and I suspect you don’t) buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Marines, Salvation Army or some other charity and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of Mine.

Happy Winter Holidays,

JC

P. S. Don’t forget — I am God, and can take care of Myself. You don’t have to protect or defend me. Just love Me, mind your own business, and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest.

____

Mother Teresa operated under these principles and provided a wonderful example. In her words, “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

I’ve noticed this with my children: If one child misbehaves, and a second child harps on them to stop, a third will pipe in to yell at the second for being too loud, and it isn’t long before everyone is yelling at everyone else to be quiet. Oh, the irony.

With all that said… Merry Christmas! I am eternally grateful for the love of God that I feel when I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I celebrate His birth. I glory in his mercy, and feel awe at his majesty. May His spirit fill your hearts and homes with love at this time, and may there be Peace on Earth, and Good Will Toward Men! Originally published December 6, 2007

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Why I Needed to Have a Bad Day

A number of  years ago I was having a particularly horrible, edgy day. I was angry at everyone, and everything around me. Even things that weren’t all that bad felt intolerable. I don’t even know what originally set me off, but I was totally out of emotional control.

And then the final straw: doggie poop in the back yard.

That was it. We had already had a pow wow with our children the month before, and the deal was agreed: they needed to pitch in on his poop and start caring for him without being reminded, or we’d need to find him a better home. Don’t judge me.

With seven children between the ages of 3 and 17, surely one of them would care enough about keeping our basset hound to show some initiative.

But unfortunately, it had been about four weeks, and only once had one of the children cleaned up his poop independently.

He was already listed in one classified ad, and we had received two calls up to that point. But we also had a list describing the perfect home (it would need to be a step up), and we weren’t going to give him away unless we found a home that matched the list.

But on this day, I was especially upset about the poop and determined to place another ad to speed up the process. My 14 year-old son saw me typing furiously on the computer and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Placing another ad for Charlie.”

“What?!” He was devastated. He couldn’t believe I was actually going to go through with it, and was horrified to find out this wasn’t my first ad. Finding no sympathy from me, he stormed out of the house to cool off. Naturally, I felt horrible. Total mom failure.

But a few days later I found out how God used me, even though I was a mess, to accomplish his purposes:

On the day I placed that ad, my younger ten year old son was across the neighborhood coming home from the park on his bike. His pant leg had gotten caught in the bike chain while he was on a street that we rarely traverse. He was stuck, alone, and didn’t have the strength to pull it out. That’s when my 14 year-old wandered into that remote area of the neighborhood, just looking for some time away from his cranky mother. But in reality, he was being LED to rescue his brother, and didn’t even realize it.

Now, I don’t think God purposely ticks me off so he can set up a rescue; but he does know me, and he knows my weaknesses, and miraculously, and mercifully, he even uses my weaknesses to accomplish his purposes. Knowing this helps me feel like everything is going to turn out okay, if I just keep trying and trust that the Lord is in the details, even on the days when I’m at my worst.

Think about that: perhaps all is NOT lost when you feel like a failure; in fact, I’m certain that quite often, there is more good that comes out of those experiences than we realize.

So keep your chin up, and if you want to learn more about how you can get really great results in spite of yourself, find out how in the Mindset Mastery Program. You really don’t have to be perfect to enjoy wonderful results. Originally published November 6, 2009

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And Along Came a Spider

Some time ago my eleven year-old daughter came home from orchestra practice simply devastated. She had been the first to arrive, and as the others filed in, nobody chose to sit by her. She sat at the edge of the room, the only student with an empty chair at her side.

She felt rejected and alone.

So the next day, as I dropped her off, I encouraged her to hold back and let some of the others sit down first, and then make her choice to sit by someone she’d like to get to know better. “Find someone who might be having a bad day, and BE the one to make a friend.”

I encouraged her to have a prayer in her heart, picturing herself with an abundance of friends, and reminded her that choosing to be positive and confident would help others want to be around her.

So she pulled herself together with an intention that things would be different this time. She agreed to pray in her heart and try to think more positively.

But what happened next surprised us both…

When I picked her up from school, she was excited to report that she ended up right between two girls that she was excited to get to know better.

How did it happen? Not the way we thought it would.

Contrary to my advice, she still showed up earlier than most; and out of habit decided to sit in her regular chair on the edge of the room. As a few of the other students filed in, the pattern threatened to repeat itself.

(That’s the power of subconscious thoughts right there…)

However, just then, she noticed a scary spider on her music stand. Creeped out, she took her folder and tried to push it off.

Instead of successfully getting it out of her space, it fell onto her leg. She jumped up and shook her pants, and wasn’t sure where it ended up. Assuming it was still at her chair, she decided that it would be better to move.

It took her out of her comfort zone and into another chair. One of the girls she’d like to know better came in and sat right next to her. Before long, a second girl took the empty chair at her other side.

Admittedly she said she thought the answer to her prayer would show up in the form of an idea, or an added measure of courage to do or say something uncomfortable.

But no, it showed up as a spider.

This micro-experience captures the essence of how God so often deals with us. When we ask for things to be better, he doesn’t just make things better. He creates conditions in our life that make us get out of our comfort zone and put us somewhere else – somewhere, where the blessing we’re asking for can finally be received.

Sometimes we get moved out of our comfort zone and still fail to receive the blessing. This can happen when our thoughts are not inclined to look for the hidden benefit in our adversity.

It would be like my daughter getting out of her regular chair and into another, and being so upset by it that she doesn’t even notice the potential friendships on either side of her. By her response to the hardship, she could have completely denied herself of the blessing that the change contained.

In that case, the girls that flanked her could have picked up on the downer-energy and might have been inclined to just ignore her.

I’m grateful that she was thoughtful enough to give credit to God for sending a spider, because it prepared the way for her to receive the very thing she was hoping for all along.

My dear reader… What’s your spider? What ugly thing has showed up in your life that’s opposite to what you’ve been praying for?

It’s there for a reason.

(To watch additional clips from this event, click here)

A Hardship is always a blessing in disguise. Pay attention to how it “moves” you.

I’d like to help you make sense (cents) out of your setbacks. Are you ready for a better future? Click here to learn more about the life-changing Mindset Mastery Program. Originally published September 22, 2009

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What we do to ourselves sometimes can’t be undone on our own

I was visiting my in-laws one evening when I signed in to my Facebook account and saw this post on my newsfeed. It was from my 18-year-old son. He said:

Jacob (18)

I just walked past my parent’s room and heard my 4 year old sister Sarah crying. My parents are gone so I thought she was in there waiting for Mom to get home. I tried to open the door but it was locked, so when I got into the room with a key and asked what was wrong, I saw that she had tied the ribbon of her dress to their bed.

As I was struggling to untie it she said:

“I’na good tyer.”

Then she came and asked me, “Wanna know why I tied myself to the bed?”

I asked, “Why?”

Bethany (7) and Sarah (4)

“Because Bethany was being mean to me.”

That was the only explanation she gave.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t be mean to your little siblings or they might lock themselves in a room and tie themselves to furniture with knots that they can’t undo on their own.

~~~

It’s true; sometimes our reaction to life’s disappointments and frustrations becomes the real source of our problems. We can really complicate matters when we react instead of responding with calculated choice of thought.

The fact is, life will disappoint us, and frustrations are inevitable.  Our power to rise above such problems, however, does not lie in the circumstances themselves, but in how we respond to them.

And, as explained in Hidden Treasures, Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (free download), the larger the problem, the greater the opportunity.

So, I echo my son’s moral, and remind us all to apply it to the world of adults:

If life is mean to YOU, don’t tie yourself up in knots that you can’t undo on your own.

Success is not a measure of how many problems we avoid; it’s a measure of how well we respond to the problems we have.

However, if you feel like you’re already “tied up” in some way, pat yourself on the back for being a good “tyer” (be kind to yourself!) …and then get some help. You don’t have to stay stuck forever.

To see how I can help you now, and to learn how to choose your thoughts carefully in a crisis for the best possible outcome, visit ProsperTheFamily.com Originally published November 29, 2010

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What my Daughter Taught Me about Success

Many summers ago, during a family trip, we decided to throw together some free presentations along the way. I had so much fun doing them because I had intentionally left my suits at home, kept my hair in a ponytail, and said, “Not this time,” to the stuffy protocol of putting on a “professionally impressive, Toastmaster-approved event.”

I didn’t break my neck making sure everything was perfect; after all, we were on VACATION. Some of you may have seen the one I did the following year, because we made it available online (free) here: Stickman Video.

After rolling into town and unloading our things at the hotel, I had just enough time to brush my teeth and throw some makeup on in the restroom before racing into the event where about 80 of you waited. In the last moment before meeting you and beginning the presentation, some foundation came flying off my finger and dripped down the front of my sweater. I knew that nothing I had was going to remove it, so I wiped it off the best I could, shook my head, and thought, “This will just have to do,” knowing I needed to press on, even if things weren’t perfect.

When you’ve got something to do, you just can’t stop when everything isn’t “just so.” You do the best you can and let it go.

My children helped us set up the room that night. They had a ball doing it, too: running up and down the aisles, and since there wasn’t anything breakable in sight, I was happy, too. After setup, most of the kids wanted to go play at our host’s home, but (then) 9 year-old Kayli wanted to stay. She had brought a stack of homemade bookmarks in hopes some of the participants would want some before the evening was over. One older brother chided her, saying, “That’s so dumb, it’s just paper. Nobody’s going to want them.” But she wasn’t dissuaded.

In fact, she sat quietly through two of our events that week, and by the end of the week she had earned $150 selling “just paper.”

Those of you who were at the events were so gracious and encouraging. I know that your encouragement of this little girl will return to you in one form or another, if it hasn’t already.

Fun fact:

Nine years later, at the recommendation of a friend, my daughter traveled three hours from home to see Drew Christensen for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, in preparation to serve a mission for our church. After her visit, and to our shock, he sent us the following pictures:

Unbeknownst to us, he had already met her in Idaho back when she was nine, and had bought one of her bookmarks while attending one of our events nearly a decade earlier. Crazy, right? I couldn’t make this stuff up. Doesn’t that sound something like what would have happened in the book, Portal to Genius??

Anyway, back to the events of 2007…

Fast forward seven months. After those events, Kayli hung on to nearly every penny she earned. She payed 10% to charity, and with the remainder, she spent $60 on a box of little canvas bags from Uline.com. Originally she intended to create little bags of homemade cookie-dough mixes to put in a few local boutiques, or to sell online. But when the bags arrived, we realized that they just weren’t big enough to fit a batch of cookie dough.

At Christmastime, a friend suggested we make gift bags, but we didn’t have time to develop the idea before Christmas had come and gone. But by the time Valentine’s Day was on the horizon, she was ready. Spending the rest of her money on supplies, she put together the Valentine’s day bags that we mentioned in one of our last emails, and created 10 to sell.

Her brother again made a cutting remark, which hurt her feelings, but it didn’t stop her. Admittedly, I had a ton of other things to be doing, but she had been so persistent with me that I couldn’t refuse her any longer. I dropped everything to take her to the craft store for the rocks, iron-ons, candy, and miniatures. I helped her figure out a good way to assemble them. I created a newsletter announcing them, and we took pictures to include in the announcement:

She sold out of her 10 bags within a day or two. I initially thought that I’d better get onto the website and post “Sold Out.” After all, she had accomplished her goal and was excited that it had all happened so fast. But then I had that second (less convenient) thought that said, “Why not keep going?”

So I dropped everything again and we traipsed all over town looking for all the components to make more, so we could fill the orders that continued to roll in. We cleaned out 3 different Michael’s Craft Stores of heart iron-ons and miniature stuffed puppies. She was on Cloud Nine. When it was all over, she had recouped her entire investment and, in fact doubled it.

Then, her brother came to me and said, “Mom, I want to make something…”

~~~

So maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, well any kid could do that if they had a Mom with a website.” But before you go there, let me make a point:

I had seven children. I had a website and a newsletter. The opportunity was there for every one of them… but only ONE (to that point) had ever done anything about it.

Life is like that:

We are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us (and we love Him!), a Father who has the most expansive distribution network in the Universe. We all have something to offer, and if we bring it to the table with the right mindset: one of expectancy, persistence and determination, then when we are really ready, I envision God smiling kindly, putting his work down, and taking us under his wing to help us accomplish the thing that we are determined to accomplish.

In those early days, my kids would beg for this or that, wish for that or this, and quite regularly whine when things weren’t just so… but once in a while, one of them would step forward with a determination to get the help they needed to accomplish something that they couldn’t completely do on their own, refusing to put it off any longer. They demonstrated a resolved intention to GET IT DONE, whatever it took. Right or wrong, that was the child who finally got my undivided attention and help with their project.

I’ve learned a lot watching my daughter take initiative. She maybe didn’t know WHAT to do, but she was definitely locked on to the vision of what the results would be, and she knew that with my help she could accomplish anything.

What about you?

If you could have God’s help with something THIS WEEK, what would you have Him help you do? Are you clear on what it is? Are you determined to do everything in your power to make it happen? Are you willing to pray like it depends on Him but work like it depends on you?

Let’s practice operating this week with resolved intention. Decide first what you want to accomplish, and then get behind it 100%. Give it all you’ve got, and envision God helping you as a loving parent who can no longer ignore your requests because you’re showing up as a determined, persistent, willing and teachable child. Don’t hold back. Throw your heart into it, trust God to provide, and watch a miracle unfold. Originally published Feb 18, 2008

Here’s Kayli all grown up:

For additional help, perspective, and a deeper understanding of the Rare Faith principles, join me in the Foundations Ecourse, or Mastery Program.

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