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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LBW 10: Goal Achievement Like Using a Phone

In this short audio, I compare the application of the laws of success to a young child trying to use the telephone.

Related article: Are you Making it Harder than it Needs to Be?

Background music: Fig Leaf Rag – distressed by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: incompetech.com/music/royalty-fre…isrc=USUAN1100702
Artist: incompetech.com/

TRANSCRIPT:

Goal achievement is like making a phone call: If you dial the numbers right, it works. Children who have never used a phone before will probably have trouble making it work right for a while, just as we can have trouble making the laws of success work to achieve our goals. It takes practice. We’re going to have set backs as we try to figure these things out.

When a goal doesn’t happen the way you expected, it’s so easy to get discouraged. Believe me.  I’ve been there. I’ve lived that. I live it still, but I have learned that the laws of success are laws that you can depend on, and when things don’t work out quite the way you expected them to—according to the laws of success as you know them—then it’s time to learn something a little bit more about them. Ask the hard questions. Where did I go wrong? What more do I need to know? In what way am I making this harder than it has to be? For me this question, answer, new attempt process happened hundreds of times before I actually saw it really work even just once. I know hundreds of ways that the laws of success don’t work. Each failed attempt showed me something else that I needed to tweak about my approach.

Think about it. The first time a kindergartener tries to use the telephone chances are good that he or she will dial the number wrong. When that happens wouldn’t it be foolish to say that the phone doesn’t work? The phone works fine. The user just needs to be extra careful to dial all the right numbers, in the right order with no extra numbers inserted along the way.

And the laws of success work fine too. You’ve just got to be careful to dial all the right numbers, in the right order, and not insert any extra ones along the way. When you do it right, it unfailingly works the way it should. And the good news is that when you see it work once you gain confidence and eventually realize that it can work for you every time. In fact, it can become second nature, just like using the phone. Then after experiencing some success maybe you even discover that it can be even easier than that, like discovering the redial button or programming numbers into it with a one-touch.

But I do have some bad news. The one element that does not go away, no matter how slick you are or how smart you get, is the test to exercise faith when all appearances indicate impending disaster. Yes, no matter how good you get at the process and no matter how much you make you’ll always get plenty of opportunity to exercise faith, to make sacrifices, and to stretch yourself out of the comfort zone to accomplish the next goal. You just get to a point where you learn to accept the difficult nature of the process. The knowledge I share here does not advert the challenges. It just gives you the power to overcome them when they show up, the power to achieve the goal in spite of difficulty, the power to have peace of mind through the process. There’s value in that.

And yes, you can have your victory. You can have the money you need. You can find the job or succeeding business. You can have the freedom you seek. Just try again and learn from your mistakes.

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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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LBW 07: Law of Rhythm-The Waves of Life

When facing difficulties, you don’t have to think of them as setbacks; instead, think of them like labor waves. You are giving birth to a dream, and each surge of pain indicates progress, not failure. There will be hard times, and good times. Difficulties sometimes come in waves, but they always pass. It’s the rhythm of life. Listen to this audio to understand why it’s ALL good.

Background music: Brandenburg Concerto No4-1 BWV1049 – Classical Whimsical by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100303
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

TRANSCRIPT:

LESLIE: I believe the universe operates in a lawful manner. I believe that it’s God’s laws that the universe operates by and so when I teach you to set a goal and we use laws of the universe to help these goals come to pass more smoothly and a little more easily, it is in no way to discount that I believe God is the source of all blessings and that the universe operates by His laws. And so if it’s the universe that delivers the goods to me there is no argument there between the theologian and the scientist. I think that we live in a scientific world and I believe that God’s the author of all of it. So whatever your vocabulary is on the matter just translate where you need to be in order to feel comfortable with the way I talk about these things. But I think we all have beliefs that we can build on together.

So life does have ups and downs. It’s just part of life. If we didn’t have a down, we wouldn’t know what an up really felt like. We wouldn’t even know we were having an up if we hadn’t had a down. And that’s good. Even when we’re really focused and determined we will have what feel like ups and downs. That’s the law of rhythm. It’s one of those universal laws. There are seasons. There is the tide that comes in and out. The day: it’s night, it’s day. These kinds of cycles are natural and there are cycles in our own life that we will discover and we can experience whether or not we understand what’s going on. If we’re having a down we can expect another up by the law of rhythm. We’re not going to be down forever and as you start looking forward to the up, it puts you in a different state of mind to start noticing the little evidences that up is coming. And by noticing them you’ll start to take action on them and the up will come even faster.

We need to be positive minded and we need to be hopeful and when we have a hiccup and we’re feeling down, you know, experience it completely, feel it, do what you got to do but expect that the upturn is on its way. Expect that you won’t be miserable forever. Expect it. Expect it. Watch for the evidence because it’ll come. The discomfort that we feel in life comes in surges. It doesn’t come all at once and it doesn’t come eternally all bad. Truly, I know it may feel like that sometimes but you need to look at and appreciate those little breathers that life gives us so that we can come up for air before we have to go under again. We’re given breaks along the way. We have relatively better days in between and on the other side of the tougher days.

It’s like going through labor to bring a child into the world. The labor pains come in surges. The mother is given breaks to have a chance to gather her strength. Now does there need to be a struggle at all? You know I’m told that some women have learned the art of labor without pain or medication but I would guess their mental toughness was something that had to be developed and I don’t know how it could have been developed without opportunity to practice during some pain. The baby will come with or without the pain. Experienced midwife’s however will tell you that the more you fight the pain the worse it’ll hurt. The same thing goes with trying to give birth to a dream. Whatever your goals are for your family, whatever those dreams you have for your individual life, whatever it is you’re aspiring to achieve or experience or accomplish, there will be work to be done regardless. It hurts less when you don’t fight it just like in giving birth.

Progress happens better when you relax in spite of hardships and apparent setbacks which are really only setbacks as much as labor pains are considered setbacks. Think about it. A labor pain, is that a setback? In reality each one brings you closer to the goal if you could really see it for what it was. Oh, if you could just see what I see. You know you set a goal and you start feeling the labor pains. It’s so easy to interpret those pains, interpret those setbacks as setbacks, as something that’s keeping you from accomplishing your goal when in reality it is the experience that you need to go through to mould you, to shape you into the person that can appreciate and that is going to be able to receive the goal, the blessing that you set out to accomplish in the first place. It’s the truth.

Like I said, the baby will come with or without the pain and it hurts less when you don’t fight it. How do I deal with this? One thing is for sure is that the joy at the end always far surpasses whatever is required along the way. Keep your eye on the prize and remember that nobody was ever pregnant forever. I’ve used this comparison of giving birth to a child to giving birth to a dream and this analogy helps me comprehend how we could possibly know whether we’re close to finally achieving a goal or reaching our dream. If you want to know if you’re close, you know sometimes it feels like you’re never gonna get there, but think about the first struggles you faced after setting a big goal. At first the discomfort, as in labor, is just bad enough to get your attention but certainly tolerable. Near the end however the pains are, for many, as if you’re at the door of death itself. During that final transition the surges come so quickly and then last so long that it would seem there is no relief in the middle. You know, I can say this from experience. I’ve had seven children. And I know that it just gets to where they’re on top of each other and you feel like, where is the relief? I want out of this, you know. And I know that giving birth to a dream can feel the same way. Where is the relief? When is the breakthrough? How much longer do I have to experience these setbacks? Well, when those pains come in that way, fast and furious, back to back, it’s natures way of saying that it’s almost over. Each pain is associated with progress, though it often cannot be measured and sometimes appears fruitless. But it is, it’s almost over.

You know what though, you can stop this dream from coming to fruition if you see these pains and abort. Don’t abort. Don’t abort. It’s not over, and it’s closer than you think. So if you have a dream and things are looking really really bad, and you’re getting hit by one challenge after another, with scarcely room to catch your breath in the middle, you are posed for the most glorious success you can imagine if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, the relief only shows up at the moment you have come to the absolute end of all you can do. So you simply cannot allow yourself to give up any sooner. Sometime it comes when you’ve cut off all possibility of retreat. A person whose has not experienced this level of commitment could never possibly feel the exhilaration of the victory that corresponds to it. There are no words to describe it. Although you may experience a degree of it vicariously through others who’ve had books or movies made about them like Rudy Ruettiger or Will Stoneman.

To wrap this up I love how this poet makes the point. He says, “When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill. When the funds are low and the debts are high and you want to smile but you have to sigh, when care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don’t you quit. Life is queer with its twists and turns as every one of us sometimes learns and many a fellow turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out. Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, you may succeed with another blow. Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man. Often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victors cup and he learned too late when the night came down, how close he was to the golden crown. Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint in the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell how close you are it might be near when it seems afar. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, it’s when things seem worse that you must not quit.”

So now it’s your turn. Be the hero in your family. Don’t give up on the dream and show it by taking yet another step forward. If you’ve set a goal and it’s looking impossible to accomplish don’t give up. You do not need to know how it will all work out. You just need to keep moving forward as though it will. Even if you don’t know how things are going to work out say next Tuesday, there’s something that you can do today, and that’s all you need to do is today’s job. Today’s work, today’s effort. Just do today. Do what you can do today make that phone call. Prepare for the success you expect to enjoy. If you intend to sell a widget have you got the widget in hand ready to sell? If you intend to make a business deal do you know what you’re bringing to the table and what you expect to receive in return? Is it vague? Or is it in writing? Do what you can do today to prepare for the success.

There will always be something that pops into your mind of something you can do. Stop ignoring it as insignificant as it may seem, it might say, “step outside”. That might be as insignificant as it gets or “turn the corner here”. You never know who you might run into. You might run into the very person who has the solution to what you need. Get up and do what the thought says to do. That’s called learning to recognize and follow your intuition and trusting it. Whether you want to call it your gut instinct, inspiration, intuition or the inner voice, it’s time to start paying attention to it, in trusting that it’s leading you to where you decided to go when you set the goal. If you’re not getting any nudges one way or another then it’s time to set a goal. No more vague wishing. I’m talking about something you absolutely intend to accomplish no matter how long it takes.

What is it in life that you are that committed to? What does it look like for your family to accomplish the lifestyle that you want for them? And whether that means fancy cars, I don’t care. That’s not what it ever has meant for me. For me it equates to family time and being mom and being able to cuddle with my kids when I want to cuddle with them and not having to answer to anybody else or punch a clock or any of those things. It’s freedom to build your family, to strengthen those relationships and to be there for them when they need you. So you can expect those nudgings to come once you’ve made the decision of what specifically you intend to accomplish. Remember it’s always goal first, way second.

[Music]

ANNOUNCER: This has been a little bit of wisdom with Leslie householder. Listen to her podcast and download her books free at ararekindoffaith.com

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