By small and simple things

Two Sundays ago I woke up and made Trevan a special birthday breakfast. Well, not incredibly special, just pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries, and scrambled eggs with sausage. But I did bring it to him in bed (a tradition in our family for those who have a birthday), so that was something.

After that, I went downstairs and turned on the Roku to see what program I could watch to kick off my Sabbath before the kids woke up. Originally, I thought I might find an episode of the discussions on the scriptures from BYUtv. My mom has raved about them many times. Since I interruptions were imminent and I enjoy those more when I can have uninterrupted focus, I instead selected a talk from the October 2017 General Conference. Scrolling through the sessions, I decided to watch John C. Pingree’s address called, “I have a work for Thee”.

His opening words were:

“To Moses, God declared, ‘I have a work for thee’ (Moses 1:6). Have you ever wondered if Heavenly Father has a work for you? Are there important things He has prepared you—and specifically you—to accomplish? I testify the answer is yes!”

And while I usually think that kind of a message is talking about my blog, books, and podcast, etc., I also know they very much refer to family history research and my family history calling (a.k.a. my assignment at church).

Normally, I feel like I should be making some kind of giant splash with my work, but the thought often overwhelms me and sometimes renders me motionless. Gratefully, in that moment, the Spirit gently nudged me with a simple idea of what I should do next. I was to put on my Sunday clothes and go to each of the 4 buildings in our stake, and post the pamphlet about “Language Skills Needed” on the bulletin boards at each of the buildings. That’s it. That’s all I needed to do. It wasn’t a big splash, but it planted a seed.

I knew that if I did my part to get those pamphlets posted, the Lord could guide the right people to notice them. I was reminded once again that it is by small and simple things that the Lord does his work. Knowing this helped me calm down and enjoy my day just a little better.

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The rest… already winners

My friend Kevin Allen gets a donut and a drink at the local QT convenience store every morning, and has done so for years. Sometimes he writes about his encounters there, and they never fail to entertain, amuse, or inspire. Now, with his permission, I am excited to begin sharing his “QT Chronicles” here at my blog.

Enjoy!!!

QT Chronicles, by Kevin Allen
March 14, 2018

I go to the same CircleK every morning, when I’m not at QT. Today the lines were longer than normal and I accidentally chose the correct, faster-moving line. I hope it doesn’t throw off the Universe.

I watched the other line as a guy started doing his “Lotto business” for the week. (It’s Wednesday.) There were only two people behind him but I assure you, he is still there now (an hour later) organizing for the big win he will have tonight. My turn at the front of my line I looked over and called the two people waiting to come and get in front of me, even though there were a half-dozen people behind me. To my surprise…NOT A GRUMBLE. Everyone agreed with my actions.

The guy that jumped at the opportunity first checked out before me and paid for my donut and health-food drink. I thanked him and paid for the guy behind me. I watched as he paid for the guy behind him. It went at least four generations before I had cleared the store doors. Easy enough with everybody holding no more than a donut and coffee and some just coffee. Nobody but the guy who bought my stuff paid any more than normal, and yet, everybody felt like they had done a huge “good turn” for the day in buying someone else’s treats. The clerk had fun too.

When I left, the store was full of smiles, except for one guy who was oblivious to it all, as he organized himself to win a hundred million dollars tonight.

The rest of us are already winners.

QT ChroniclesMarch 14, 2018I go to the same CircleK every morning, when I'm not at QT. Today the lines were longer…

Posted by Kevin K. Allen on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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Letting God Finish our Masterpieces

 

I could see in her eyes that it wasn’t good news. After hours and hours of hard labor with my fourth child, my midwife told me I hadn’t begun dilating. In fact, my cervix wasn’t even fully effaced. Seriously?

I was ready to cry.

With each of my other pregnancies I felt like I had some control. To get my contractions to increase in frequency and intensity, I paced. All over the house. And it worked!

I have proof:

  • Baby #1 – I arrived at the hospital dilated to a 7.
  • Baby #2 – I arrived at the hospital dilated to a 6.
  • Baby #3 – I arrived at the hospital dilated to a 5.

And the nurses were awesome. They let me wait to be admitted while I continued pacing and progressed to a 7 or so.

So here I was broadsided with this news about Baby #4.

Death by Castor Oil

Now to be completely truthful, I may or may not have tried to tempt Fate. I was worried that my husband would miss Baby’s debut if we didn’t have her that weekend. So I took castor oil.

Let me give you a hint. DON’T. EVER. TAKE. CASTOR. OIL. No questions asked. Just don’t do it.

So after the unspeakable effects of the castor oil, it seemed to affect my labor like Pitocin. What do I mean? Well, basically my contractions were super hard without progress.

What Now?

So my midwife delivered the news. I was devastated. See…in the past I simply walked off my pain. But now? Suddenly I needed major labor support. I felt so ridiculous! Like something was wrong with me. Here I hadn’t even begun dilating and we had used up just about every one of my midwife’s tricks!

Well…I gave myself a generous 30 seconds to decide my next step. I was really at a loss. But I felt that all I could really do was to surrender.

I had assumed I could control the situation…that I could hurry things along. But in reality there was nothing I could do. Except choose how I would respond.

If I was going to labor for another 5-10 hours, the only thing that made sense was to get some rest. So I chose to let go. We stuck a movie in (I have no memory whatsoever of what it was), and I laid down on the couch.

Understand – laying down was always the most painful way for me to labor. But it felt like the right thing to do.

Time to Give Up?

Let me back up for just a sec. During my pregnancy my midwife told me that when I started to feel like I was done…just ready to give up and go home…it would most likely mean that I was in transition. Interesting concept.

Okay. So hold that thought.

Back to the Story

I laid on that dang couch trying to sleep for about 45 minutes. It took a lot of self control to just stay there and breathe through those contractions. It was pretty miserable, but I already knew that pushing through and trying to make it happen wasn’t working. I didn’t believe for a second that I could progress just laying around, but what choice did I have?

I finally got up to run to the restroom, but as I stood up….OUCH!! I thought I was going to die. I had a horrible contraction, and I was DONE. I was exhausted, emotional, and I wanted to go home and forget the whole thing.

Wait.

This was kind of a deja vu moment. Didn’t my midwife say something about this?….Hmmm. Ah yes. She suggested these feelings meant transition. But there was no way…I wasn’t even fully effaced.

Still, I asked her to check me. She reluctantly did so, and then I watched the panic set in. I WAS DILATED TO 9 CENTIMETERS! The baby came about 15 minutes later. Yup. It’s true.

Letting Go

Isn’t it fascinating? How much time do we spend trying to control things? We want things to happen on our timeline. We want answers now! We want the pain gone NOW! And yet, it wasn’t until I finally let go of my timing and left it in God’s hands that I progressed. And it was much faster than ever before. By a LOT. God did more for my progression in those 45 minutes than I could have possibly done on my own.

Painting Your Masterpiece

Ya know? We all have things we are creating. We have these beautiful dreams we are painting on the canvas of life. And I, for one, am one of those people who just can’t walk away from these masterpieces. I guess I’ve always believed that the painting will never get finished if I’m not there for every last stroke.

Apparently it was time for these beliefs of mine to be challenged.

My baby’s delivery was a defining moment for me. It inspired a lot of questions.

Is it possible that we don’t really make things happen? Could it be that we are only part of the equation? Could we possibly be fighting against a Higher Power when we try to do it all on our own? And in our own way?

Be Still and Know That I am God

Are you good for me to just share my interpretation of all this?

Here goes…We don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to make things happen. We don’t have to be everything to everyone. And we don’t have to run faster than we have strength.

When we put forth our best efforts, we can slow down a bit. Take a step back. Then we can rest assured that Life will take care of the rest. We can let go and trust God.

Consider the peace that will come when we stop and remember that sometimes, in the stillness, the finishing touches are performed by the Master Painter, Himself. And in the end, with nothing more that we can do, our Masterpiece is beautifully and perfectly complete.

Author Stephanie Francom is a Mindset Mastery Certified Mentor and Genius Bootcamp Facilitator. Join Stephanie for our next Genius Bootcamp – Click here to learn more.

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For more on this topic, read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (free!)

Related: Your ability to Create (video)
Related: How to Surrender, and why you’d want to

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More Tender Mercies and Miracles

Photo credit: Vanessa Kay, Vanessa Kay Photography

You may remember my previous article about Vanessa, and Tender Mercies. Even when we don’t get exactly what we want, noticing the little blessings can help us qualify for more. As I said before, she has suffered a run of unfortunate events, but notice her attitude. She notices, documents, and calls attention to all of the things going WELL. I’m convinced that this is why she can say: “Somehow I make it through every month.” (Click here to check out her amazing photography site…)

Why does she write? In her words:

“I was challenged recently to regularly write and record the many blessings I have received, and the things I am learning from the current set of challenging circumstances I am now living through. And maybe even to write a book. Well, that was a little overwhelming, but I have had promptings to the same effect…because honestly, there have been so many tender mercies and small blessings that even now, trying to remember them all is a huge challenge. If I can write a little something every day…and look for the things I have to be grateful for….I have a feeling miracles will take place. I feel like living in gratitude, in spite of challenges, is the key to making it through these difficult times.”

Vanessa, I agree. Thank you for sharing.

Here are some tender mercies she recognized at Christmastime:

“I still have a LOT Of work to do implementing these principles … because for every big blessing comes a pretty big (sometimes bigger) setback. In the last month I’ve had both of my cars’ transmissions die and the state board of equalization place a levy on my account for some past due taxes. My husband’s condition [Lyme disease, mycoplasma pneumonia, h. pylori, epstein-barr, multiple parasites, etc.] seems to be getting worse, but there’s a silver lining to that – his appointments with the disability appointed doctors went ‘well’ – as in they saw him at his worst and I am hopeful that he may have a chance of being approved for social security disability.

“It’s funny though… although I’m completely carless at the moment – and I have no idea how I’ll have any gifts at all for my kids this year, I am feeling the Christmas spirit stronger than ever before. I’m really loving the #lighttheworld campaign, and my kids and I have been watching the videos every night at scriptures and taking on the challenges. We have been blessed to be the recipients of so much – it feels really good to be on the other end of things for a change:

“While lately I’ve often been focused on working ’round the clock to get orders out for clients, and add more shoots to my schedule, today I dropped all of that. A friend of mine knows a single mom, a victim of domestic violence, who recently lost her home and everything in it in the recent California wildfires. My friend has been trying to help by paying for her hotel and a gift card for some clothes, but was feeling overburdened as the only supportive person her friend has. She started a GoFundMe account for this friend but had no response.

“I have another struggling friend who happens to be moving back East this weekend, and just found out 3 days ago that the person who was going to take over her apartment and all of her furnishings backed out. She needed to get rid of all of her furnishings/ kitchenware/ bedding/ etc. right away. My mom had come down to help me for a couple of days since I have no transportation right now, and between her, a friend’s truck, and our local missionaries, I was able to move all of this furniture and household supplies to storage for the single mom of 4 who lost everything in the fires, thereby helping 3 families – my friend who needed to get rid of her stuff, my friend who felt overburdened, and the woman who lost everything.

“Another tender mercy: At a recent ward activity they had a tree with ornaments for the local orphanage/foster group home for kids who don’t have any families that have a little wish list. I didn’t even really consider looking, because most the kid’s have wish lists that would take at least about $100 or so to fill and I don’t even have that much of a budget for my 4 kids put together for Christmas this year. But something told me to look anyways, and the first ornament I saw was for a child who wanted a tablet, art supplies and a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Something told me to pick it up. I just so happen to have a tablet that I’ve been trying to sell on Craigslist for the last 4 months now, and have had no takers. And my daughter had an excess of art supplies she’s been given over the last 2 years, because that’s all she asks for for her birthday and Christmas. Some were brand new, never used. And my son has been given Barnes and Noble gifts cards for every gift giving occasion for the last few years and he had 3 saved up. All the kids were able to contribute something of their own to help this girl, and I bought an art set at Michael’s for 60% off and it only cost me $12. So we will be able to do what so many have done for us and make Christmas happen for someone less fortunate, and that feels like quite a blessing.”

“…behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes . . . (Alma 37:6-7).

This has been another installment in a series of articles about Tender Mercies. Stay tuned for more coming soon…

What about you?

Maybe you’re not a millionaire. Maybe you haven’t yet realized that big vision for your life. Maybe your relationships aren’t what you want them to be. Maybe you’re still waiting for that breakthrough that never seems to come. Maybe you struggle with your health, or maybe you’re caring for someone else who is. But even so…

Have you seen God’s hand in your life today? Have you noticed Him sustaining you from day to day?

“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in ALL things, and obey not his commandments,” (D&C 59:21, emphasis added).

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