Why the Sparkly Mountain

My family spent a week pulling a trailer to various places between Mesa, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah for spring break when the kids were younger.

Oh, I could write volumes on the shenanigans we experienced, but for the sake of this post, I’ll try to keep it to one point.

We had just spent an entire day trying to get from Mesa, AZ to Goblin Valley, Utah, not really comprehending how unrealistic such a jaunt in one day really was.  After missing our turnoff in Flagstaff (add 3 hours to the trip because of the unscheduled stop at the meteor crater on the way to Albuquerque), our hope was to reach Goblin Valley, Utah before the RV park closed at 10 pm.

On the map, there’s a nice little road from Mexican Hat, straight up to Hanksville, which is only a little ways away from Goblin Valley.  By the time we reached Mexican Hat, it was clearly impossible to hope for a 10 pm arrival; we’d be lucky to get there before midnight.  I just prayed that the gate would remain open for us by some fluke, so we pressed on.  We had already paid for the first night, and I wanted to benefit from it.

(Do all you CAN do, and expect things to work out for you in the end, right?)

When we reached the turnoff outside of Mexican Hat, there was a large, obnoxious sign that said we’d be stupid to drive that road with an RV.  It was small with switchbacks and although I was anxious to get to Hanksville, we decided it would be smartest to go an extra 40 miles out of our way through Bluff and Blanding instead.

Here’s a street-view Google image showing the sign, which we saw in the dark:

to-hanksville
10% GRADES /  5 mph SWITCHBACKS / NARROW GRAVEL ROAD /  8 MILES

By 1:00 in the morning, we finally rolled into Hanksville, exhausted and grateful that we were there in one piece.  It had been a lonely, dark, unpredictable and nerve-wracking road with our long and heavy trailer.

We slept at a gas station in Hanksville, and in the morning, headed down highway 24 towards Goblin Valley.  Happy to be close to our destination and well rested, we excitedly told the kids we were almost there.

(To this point, the destination was still a secret.)

About 20 miles out of town, my son saw something sparkly spread across the hills on our left.  I looked, and was amazed at its beauty – it looked like it was covered in hundreds of yards of gold.  I knew it couldn’t possibly be, so I just assumed it had to be pyrite (fools gold).

Unexpectedly, the glitter ended with the next hill.  “Shoot!” We thought, “we should have stopped to see what it was and take some home with us!”  But our trailer was too large, and we were too long to turn around on the narrow 2-lane road, so we just pressed on.

Around the next corner, my husband thought he saw some more on the right side of the road and quickly pulled off to take the opportunity.

But it only took a moment to realize that the solid-looking shoulder was deep and soft from rain the day before.  He gunned it to get back on the road, but it was too late.  We were stuck.  Stuck on a road that sees a traveler only once in a very long while.

Long story short, a group of college kids eventually saw us, turned around, and stopped to help in vain (to my oldest son’s amusement, one happened to be from the same high school as he attended, 550 miles away).  Then a man in a truck stopped, and went into town to get a chain.

With everyone pushing, and the man with the truck pulling, we finally pulled out.  My husband ran ahead to thank the man in the truck, who asked us where we were going.  My husband responded, “Goblin Valley!”  To which the man replied, “You’re going in the wrong direction!  You need to take the 24 East, not West.”

Amazing. We were already 30 miles off course and would not have known it for a very long time had we not gotten stuck in the mud.

The college students asked, “Why did you pull off the road?”

We chuckled, “Because we saw something sparkly.”

They laughed at us.

Hard.

We let the kids out of the van to go climbing while my husband drove up the road to find a place to turn around.

You know, sometimes life is like this. 

You’re traveling along in the wrong direction and don’t even know it.  So God allows you to be enticed by a dream that gets your attention – maybe it’s financial freedom, maybe it’s a nice house or a car.  So you divert your attention toward the goal and somewhere along the way, you end up getting stuck.

Jacob and Sarah coming down the hill to get back in the van.

In an effort to get unstuck, you reach out for help, and ultimately learn something that puts you on course toward your ultimate goal, after having been off course without even knowing it.

People looking for more money or a better lifestyle often end up discovering the principles of prosperity and laws of success which apply to all areas of their life, all because they got stuck financially and searched for a way out.

The good news is, being stuck is one of the best things that can happen to you, because it often stops you from continuing in the wrong direction, and opens up an opportunity for you to not only get unstuck, but to get back on course when you didn’t even know you were going the wrong way.

I’m convinced that’s what the “glitter” of life is really for. 

“Materialism”, being too consumed with material things, isn’t all bad, because if it gets your attention, and if your heart is in the right place, it can lead you to answers you don’t even know you need.

For more help on getting unstuck, prospering your family, and turning your life around, visit ProsperTheFamily.com.

PS. I’ve since determined that the mountain was probably covered with of Mica or Gypsum.

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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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For those who desire to maintain traditional roles

I stumbled onto an old message while looking for something else, and it’s prompted me to bring together in one place a few different conversations I’ve had on this topic. It’s not organized in any particular way, and my newsletter is already long overdue, so I’m going to just share it “as is” for now, and (maybe) clean it up later. It’s my blog, so I can do what I want, right?

If maintaining traditional roles in a marriage is not important to you, then check out some of my other articles listed at the right.

Otherwise, here we go…

Dear Leslie,

I am in need of some ideas in regards to the Law of Attraction and am hoping you will address this in a blog so it will be easy to find. I have read the forums and haven’t come across anything like this from the wife’s point of view. Two years ago, my husband and I started learning about the law of attraction. It was exciting and empowering and life changing. We have read and listened to much and changed much about our thinking and feeling. Yet, we continue to be stuck in the abundance of poverty including making things much worse than ever. Now, I know this is not an unusual comment for you to hear so bear with me for a couple of paragraphs.

My husband has been in sales and marketing for 23 years. He is good at it but has lost a fair number of jobs along the way. Since we started learning all this, it seemed that things would change but they haven’t. Just last week I had an ‘ah-hah’ moment during a discussion. For many years he would say in the midst of a good job, “I don’t like working for someone else.” Oh, my goodness, there it was. No matter how much we were changing, his overriding feeling was that he didn’t want to work for someone else and guess what? He now wasn’t! So the law was still in effect in spite of our learnings and changings.

So my big question, shared by several of my friends in similar situations, is, can one person’s thoughts or goals override another?  If one person is truly getting it, and yet the other doesn’t believe strong enough, how can things shift? I see many women start to get this and shift things majorly, yet they end up being the breadwinner of the family. This is not our intention or our goal, especially with children at home. So what I would like you to address if you can is what kinds of affirmations should the wife be making, what kinds of thoughts and feeling should we be generating? If a husband’s pattern is self-defeating or self-sabotaging, what’s a wife to be, do or think to make this work? Help!

I appreciate all you are doing and especially your take on it since we share the same religious values.

Sincerely,

Danielle T.

So I found that letter (which had been sent via snail-mail) as I was cleaning out some files, and I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not sure if I ever responded. But I no longer have this person’s contact information, so in case she reads my blog, I’m going to respond to it now.

The short answer is yes, one person’s faith, intention, or goal can override another person’s thinking (or lack thereof). Here’s how:

Your faith can be enough to cause something to happen, even if your spouse is full of doubt, depending on if YOU think it is enough. If YOU believe his or her doubt will have no effect, then YES your faith can be sufficient. See how it always comes back to how YOU think?

Chew on that for a minute.

But, before you take that to the bank, I need to add a disclaimer:

Especially in a marriage, it’s important that we do not bulldoze our way to our dreams in spite of our partner. We need to be really careful about how we apply the principles, because it does not serve us to keep one law “well”, if doing so violates another. All of the laws can be kept in harmony, if we apply them in wisdom and order.

Your relationships matter. Your partner’s feelings matter. Your commitment to each other matters. Be patient and choose a pace that works for the both of you, even if it means sacrificing some of your wants. This is my advice to married couples who want to stay married.

As Thomas S. Monson advised:

“Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” 

__________

Stay at Home Moms

Here’s another question I received, in a similar vein:

Hi Leslie! I am really struggling with what seems to be two conflicting ideas. I come to you as one who knows about both.

Here is my struggle that often brings me to tears. As a Latter Day Saint woman I am struggling with the conflict of following the council of our prophets and apostles to be a stay at home Mom while wanting to follow my dreams and become a motivational speaker for teens and women. I feel I cannot have both according to the council, why? Because speaking would pull me out of the home. I have studied our leaders words and they are very explicit on mothers staying home to raise their children unless circumstances arise where the mother has to work. I too am passionate about mothers staying home with their children. I believe it is of the utmost importance. The reason this is a conflict for me is because as much as I love being a mother and staying at home with my children, I don’t get much fulfillment – which breaks my heart. I wish just being a mom was fulfillment enough for me! I wish I could love staying at home all the time. Day in and day out I often feel depleted, forgotten, and alone. I feel like I am becoming more and more numb. I have forgotten how to laugh, how to have fun, how to smile because I feel I am not “allowed” to follow my dreams because if I did, it would take me out of the home.

What I really want is to make a meaningful contribution in the world. I want something I’m passionate about, something that drives me forward, something I love to read, study, and learn about. Something that brings me excitement, makes me want to get out of bed, gives me a reason to get cloths on, do my hair, exercise, etc.

So the conflict in me often eats me alive. I cry because I want to follow a dream and a passion but feel I can’t and I cry because I feel I am bad or wrong because being a mother doesn’t feel like enough. I feel I am drowning in the monotony of every day life. And the conflict is, I want BOTH! I want to be a stay at home Mom AND I want to follow my dreams and start becoming a motivational speaker. But how can I do both? I know the brethren talk about seasons. Yes, I could wait till my kids are all grown but to me that feels like it would take another 10-20 years of drowning before I could actually surface. And who knows if I would ever surface after that much repression. Do I do both? Do I set boundaries where I am not out of the home very often? What is your insight on being a Latter Day Saint stay at home Mom and following your dreams and goals??

Thanks so much!!

Heather

Hi Heather – I have so much to say on this topic! I’ve kept your message flagged for a time when I could give it the attention it deserves but things are crazy right now with my 5th grader needing help with her speech for student council elections, my 15 and 18 y/o sons’ double eagle court of honor, helping my college son find a car to replace the one that just gave up the ghost, and helping my daughter get ready for her mission in a few more weeks. Case in point, I guess… I’ve needed to make a conscious decision to set business aside for a while and just handle what’s right in front of me. I’ll be back in full swing again soon 😉

In the meantime, look at it like shifting your weight from one leg to the other. Back and forth. You can’t walk without the swing. There is no such thing as balance, as Sharon Lechter describes it. If you’re perfectly balanced over your two feet, you can’t move at all!

Anyway, if and when you come to any conclusions of your own I would love to hear what you’ve deduced. This may be a great topic for another blog post… 🙂

Thanks for your understanding!

Leslie

Related: How to Establish a Shared Vision That Will Lift Your Family (Ensign magazine, March 2018)

Hey Leslie! I totally understand! And I am sure you have much wisdom on this topic. I am excited to hear what you have to say.

I love the analogy of balance. That is so simple and profound. That helps a lot. Thank you!

I talked to a friend about this subject as well and she is an lds mom who owns her own business and is a top youth speaker and even singer. She won the lds Pearl Awards several years back. You may know her from her music – her name is Jessie Clark Funk. Anyway, as I was talking to her she said something that helped me a lot. She said, we often think we have to do all these things, follow all these steps, listen to all the experts right now to “make it” in whatever it is our dream is. But we often forget that there is no set timeline. The timeline is what is perfect for you and your family and savoring the seasons you are in while preparing for the next. We can do all we can now, but we don’t have to bust our butt thinking we have to do everything right now. I don’t know what it looks like to follow my dream while still enjoying the season I am in, especially with a new 4 week old, but I am determined to have “joy in any circumstance” and to me that is loving being a mother as well as following my dreams.

Thanks for your willingness to answer my questions and help me in this. I appreciate your perspective very much!

Thanks again! Heather

Heather, did you ever read my super long post about when I felt conflicted with goal achievement and marriage? The details aren’t exactly like yours, but the principle and feeling is very similar I think… I’m realizing I probably won’t ever get around to writing my whole collection of thoughts on this, but much of it has already been written so maybe the following can help. I realize it might not give you the answers you need, but it might spur some new thoughts that can bring you there, if this conflict is still a concern:
http://ararekindoffaith.com/the-hardest-thing-ive-ever-tried-to-write

Hope this message finds you well! Leslie

Oh my word Leslie! Thank you for sharing that blog post with me. I finally read it and you put words to the huge ah ha’s I have had this year! It makes me want to giggle and gasp because it is now a second witness to what I have been experiencing and what I am coming to understand is true!A few years ago I got deeply into the self help realm reading books, going to a bazillion Kirk Duncan events, attending all sorts of classes and in the process wanted to start a business with a friend all in the name of, “dreaming big” “living my purpose” “serving others” “following my dreams” etc. I was deceived into believing that I am powerful enough to make anything work and to create my life however I want it. While that might be true, just as in your post – it doesn’t mean I should. Well, during that time of lots of self help stuff, I became more and more confused, my vision and clarity got darker and darker. I couldn’t understand why. Especially when I would even wake up at 5am (I am so not a morning person) and study my scriptures and exercise and go to the temple weekly. I realized it was all to gain the things I wanted in my life rather than a desire to come closer to God. So needless to say, my spiritual practices were anything but spiritual. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t feel light, peace, or even a fraction of the Spirit from my spiritual practices. After about a year of going through all of this I paused. I looked at my life and realized it was not better off with me going after my goals and dreams. I was more miserable, more depressed, I felt I had lost the spirit for quite some time, I couldn’t feel gods light or peace. I was lost and in the dark. I felt that I was literally a reflection of the scripture “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” 

I had lost myself in the pursuit of finding myself through growing my skills and talents and going after my dreams. I had never felt so lost. Ever! I couldn’t understand why. I was doing all the things the prosperity experts told me, why was my life so dark? Why were my relationships with my loved ones more distant? Why wasn’t things happening for me? Well, I realized that I quite honestly didn’t care what God wanted me to do because I was too excited about the life I was going to create. So, he let me alone and let me trod down a tough path until I was desperate enough to truly let go of what I wanted and then turn my heart to him. 

I, like you, stopped listening and attending anything that had to do with prosperity training. I let go of everything and didn’t even want to look at it or touch it. I had to find out the truth and I needed so badly the Lords light and peace back into my life. So I left everything alone for almost another year. It wasn’t until early this year that I started to pick things back up with a totally different mindset. One with more caution and much more aware for gods plan for me. In fact, your stuff is the only stuff I trust enough to pick back up. So I did. And I see prosperity principles in an entirely new light in a way I could never see them before. 

Anyway, I too felt that I had to be a martyr and give up on me and that my dreams just weren’t important. I cried about that a lot. But as I said before, I also cried a lot because I wanted to want to be ok with just being home and being a stay at home mom. But I just couldn’t, so that’s why I reached out to you for help. 

In the weeks of pondering and searching for answers I realized that as members of the church who have made temple covenants, I think we are a bit different from the rest of the world in that we covenant to serve and follow God. Thus it hit me, “my life is not mine, it is the Lord’s. I have made that covenant” so in a way I am not free to just say what I want my life to be like. I have an obligation to be a tool in his hands so therefore what I want ISN’T as important as I wanted it to be. But that is the beauty of it all, giving up what we want to serve God is really one of the highest form of joy. I never experienced that until I completely let go of what I wanted and let him direct me. He directed me to do something I was terrified of and literally fought him a year on, and that was having another baby. As you know, I gave in again to what he wanted (you saw my giant belly). The minute, no! the second I gave in I felt immediate peace!! And now, here my baby is, 2 1/2 months and I am so full of joy I can’t even express. God knew what I needed and wanted more than I did! In fact that statement has gone through my head any time I started to want to achieve a goal, “God knows what you want more than you know what you want.” It’s so true!

So, in regards to wanting so much to fulfill my dreams AND be a stay at home mom I realized I can do both. How? By changing my mindset. You see, with all the trainings I went to I was taught to think big, constantly think about it, envision it, make a vision board, etc. Basically, put all your focus into this thing till you have created it. So it caused me to believe that I can’t achieve something unless I am constantly working on it and thinking about it. Not true! A good friend who is also a successful business owner said to me, now may not be your season to totally jump into your dream but in the meantime, hold on to it and start digging in. Read about the topic, study it, but most of all have fun with it. Enjoy it! 

The next profound thing she said is, YOU HAVE TIME! You don’t have to accomplish it by any certain time, if it brings you fulfillment just by thinking about it, that is enough because eventually you will be called to do something and when the time is right it will be shown to you and then you can take off! 

That advice has literally changed my life! The realization that I have time!!! That just because it’s not up on my vision board or I’m not networking or whatever, doesn’t mean I’m not working on my dream. In fact two things you guys said at the bootcamp that has made a huge impact on this very thing is “Dreaming big doesn’t have to be big to the worlds standards, it can be big because even a small change is a big deal!” That has impacted me so much! That I don’t have to dream about 1 million dollars, I can take the small baby steps toward my dream and that could be as small as just smiling a real smile when you see strangers. And then the other thing that was said at bootcamp was, “you don’t have to know your dream or life purpose to start working on it.” That was so profound to me. 

So as I let go, and I move forward. I am a happy camper. I trust in God’s plan and timing and I also know that God will grant my dream if it is wisdom in him and if I am obedient.  But if not, then I know God will create something even better than I could imagine. 

So, what I am saying is yes! I have received my answer to that dilemma. And I am continuing to receive answers.. But seriously, that blog post is almost identical to the journey I went on! So crazy! And perfect for the answers and clarity I have been seeking. Thank you so much for sharing!!

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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).

Submit your stories here!

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