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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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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Finding Relief from Heavy Burdens

47tips-heavy-burden

A Special Message of Faith

In December of 2012 I was asked to speak during my congregation’s sacrament meeting. This is one thing that is common throughout my church worldwide: that members are given opportunities to teach each other about the gospel, and how they are learning to apply it in their lives.

Here’s the message I shared:

When we realized back in 2006 that we had purchased too much real estate at the wrong time, sometimes all we could do to calm the raging storm was to turn off the lights, close our eyes, and let “Peace Like a River” CD soothe our troubled and fearful hearts.

We tried to focus on the Savior, and let Him assure us that in the eternal scheme of things, everything was going to turn out okay if we fixed our faith upon Him.

He showed us that no matter how heavy the burden, he had the power to do for us what He had done for Alma’s people as described in Mosiah chapter 24 when he told them:

“I will … ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that … you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

The Bible tells us to have faith in Jesus Christ, and to love one another. But until recently, I never really recognized an important connection between these two directives, and how it relates to the lift of our burdens.

At the time, I considered the peace I ultimately discovered to be a tremendous personal victory. We were still in a mess, but He taught us peace in spite of it. That all of that could be happening and that we could find peace anyway was a miracle to me.

As our difficulty stretched on, I felt that I could relate in a small way to the man who had been a part of the fateful Martin Handcart company who said, “‘I… pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary … that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and … said, I can go only that far and there I must give up…’ ” He continued: ” ‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there… The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.'”

As hard as it was for us over those last few years, I wouldn’t give up the testimony we gained through it – that God lives and is mindful of us and gives us strength.

However, while it’s true, that when things appear to be falling apart, a return to the Savior (pondering his life’s example, repenting of our mistakes, finding gratitude, and imagining his steady and unconditional friendship) always brings peace, sometimes it can be really hard to set aside personal challenges enough to be able to think about helping someone else.

But what I’ve been learning is that our needs are cared for when we focus on others.

This is probably a more complete and true exercise of faith in Christ. Not just believing that He is real and finding peace in our challenges, but taking it one step further… do we really believe that our needs will be met if we forget ourselves? Do we really trust that the Lord will carry us through our problems if we lose ourselves in the service of others?

I remember back several years when my husband and I were trying to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, but our investment problems were screaming so loudly that it seemed nearly impossible to carry on.

We had come to the end of all of our visible resources – our savings were entirely depleted, our credit was completely exhausted, and with only $200 in the bank and no paycheck in sight (with another $15,000 in bills due in the coming 2 weeks), the moment we had tried so hard to avoid was finally upon us.

It was our anniversary weekend, and so with no other solution in sight, we decided to at least enjoy a dinner together and try to rekindle our hope in the future, and our faith in Christ. During our conversation, it dawned on us that even though we were at rock bottom, we were still alive, still breathing, and still able to help others.

We asked ourselves, if we were homeless, could we still teach? Could we still help others? Would we? Of course we could, and would. So that’s when our conversation shifted. Instead of focusing on our immediate needs, we projected our minds forward and imagined where we saw ourselves in 10 years. Did we think we’d be back on our feet by then? Would we have figured things out and put our lives back together by then? That seemed easy enough to believe. So then our focus shifted, and we brainstormed on the things we could do right away to serve others better, and made those plans.

By the end of dinner, we felt hope again. We felt the Spirit confirm to us that although we were in a pretty ugly mess of our own, we were on the right track.

So we paid the bill and just as my husband was opening my car door, the waiter came running out to the parking lot after us with a voided receipt yelling,

“Since it’s your anniversary, the meal’s on us!”

In that moment, we experienced a little bit of what the Lord had taught his apostles. He had tried to assure them that as long as they would feed his sheep, their true needs would be met. We’ve heard it so many times: “Consider the lilies of the field…” “…trust the Lord with all thine heart” “…fear not…” but how it is possible?

To explain, let me share it the way Elder Jeffrey R. Holland described it:

After Christ was no longer with his apostles, in effect, Peter said: “Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. …But [it] is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So … ‘What do we do now?’ I don’t know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to ‘go a fishing.’”

But, … the fishing wasn’t very good. Their first night back on the lake, they caught nothing—not a single fish. With the first rays of dawn, they disappointedly turned toward the shore, where they saw in the distance a figure who called out to them,

“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find,” —and with those simple words, recognition begins to flood over them. Just three years earlier these very men had been fishing on this very sea. On that occasion too they had “toiled all the night, and [had] taken nothing,”…. But a fellow Galilean on the shore had called out to them to let down their nets, and they drew “a great multitude of fishes,” enough that their nets broke, the catch filling two boats so heavily they had begun to sink.

Now it was happening again. [They] eagerly lowered their net, and “they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”

After a joyful reunion… Looking at their battered little boats, … and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said … three times, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

To which Jesus responded …perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish?

“What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do.

“Ours is not a feeble message. … It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally…”

“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back…

To those who have not yet joined with us in this great final cause of Christ, we say, “Please come.” To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural hors d’oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration [of the gospel of Jesus Christ] and leave the rest of the feast, I say that I fear you face a lot of long nights and empty nets. The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand.” – Elder Jeffrey Holland

Now, on Christmas we were blessed to spend some time on the phone with our missionary son Jacob, and I asked him: What can we do for you? What can we do to help you?

He replied, emotionally, “I just want you guys to love each other. I want you to do your best to get along with each other. It’s so true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I just want you guys to also stay in touch with me, keep writing letters, keep emailing me, keep me posted with what’s going on in your lives, the good and the bad…”

Our Father in Heaven – during our separation from Him – wants us to love each other, and stay in touch with Him through prayer. He wants us to go to him with the good and the bad, and let Him be a central part of our life.

And when we have burdens too heavy and worries too consuming to think outside of ourselves, I testify that we can put our trust in the Lord, hand him our burdens, …and as we focus on helping someone else, everything will work out just as it should.

I have a special journal dedicated to this – for when I have a concern or a need that seems to be more than I can handle, I’ll write “What I needed” on the left side, and then on the right side I write “How He helped”. After all, He has asked us to acknowledge his hand in all things – and this is one way I’m trying to do it.

(The following section is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to a friend, giving more details on this new journal tool.)

I felt the Lord inspired me to do something I hadn’t done before, when things were terribly overwhelming to me. The Spirit nagged me for 2 days until I did it… and that is this:

I got a notebook or journal that was specifically to be for one purpose. On the left side of the page, I wrote: “What I needed”, and I listed the things I needed to turn over to the Lord. I imagined angels being given permission to get to work on those items for me, because I was physically, mentally, emotionally unable to handle them myself at that time.  On the right side of the page I wrote: “How He helped” because I thoroughly expected Him to handle some of those things for me, and I wanted to document His hand in the process.

Within 20 minutes, I got a phone call that answered one of the pleas listed on the left.  Over time, it seems that all of them have been either checked off or making good progress. To me, it’s working better than a vision board ever did, because it’s more of a system for the purpose of fulfilling my life’s mission, and for handling the distractions that slow me down as well.

Once I put something on the “what I needed” side, I let it go and I get busy on something that I CAN make progress with, knowing that the other items are being handled.

And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you; (D&C 61:36)

Related: Do the Problems Go Away?

(Back now, to my talk at church…)

I know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is with us, He’s mindful of our heartaches, and ready to help. He is merciful. He loves us. He loves you. He knows what you’re going through; it’s not pointless.

May we exercise our faith in Christ not just by believing He is real, but also by trusting him – literally – to handle our burdens that feel too big, while we look instead for opportunities to feed his sheep.

This is my prayer for all of us.

Originally published on December 18, 2013

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What you can Learn from a Locksmith

When results don’t come as fast as you want, trust that each epiphany along the way gets you one “tumbler” closer to your next victory.

Perhaps the reason “one book” or “one seminar” or “one program” was a MAJOR turning point for one person, but nothing more than a small stepping stone for another, is because achieving success is like opening a combination lock.

There are a finite number of discs that need to move into place before the lock will open.

Some people are raised in such a way, or have a natural-born inclination to live in harmony with the laws of success.

Sometimes those people have all but ONE of the discs already in place, so just one book or seminar or conversation with a mentor is all they needed to set them free and launch their lifestyle into the stratosphere.

Others have hundreds of discs that need to move into place. (That was my situation.)

But each time you increase your mental capital by learning more about how success really works, and by trying and failing and learning the lesson the experience contained, you allow yet another disc to rotate into place, and the good news is: that disc can stay in place for good.

One day, with just one more try, one more class, one more book, one more seminar, or one more conversation with a mentor, that FINAL disc will move into its proper position, and the lock WILL finally spring open.

You’ll probably tell everyone that that was THE BEST event or book or conversation there ever was… because it facilitated the most tangible results in your life.

The truth is, that each “aha” moment leading up to it was just as important and critical to your success as the last. If just ONE of the previous epiphanies had not happened, then that final event, book, or conversation would probably not have been the final disc.

So keep learning, keep seeking the next epiphany, because you never know… it just might be that final disc for you. If it isn’t, at LEAST there’s just one less disc to go.

Even if you’ve experienced a breakthrough before, taking it to the next level will always require the opening of another lock, sometimes just a little more complex than the one before.

But don’t worry, you’ll open them all, by just rotating one simple disc into place at a time.

Remember:

Your desire is simply a “possibility” seeking expression through you… honor your dream, don’t give up on it. One step, one rotated disc at a time and you’ll surely get there.

If you’re ready for your next epiphany, click here.

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