Our Crazy Family Christmas Tradition

For 43 years, Householder children have been determined to get to the presents without waking the parents.

But for the last two generations, Dad has gone to great lengths to prevent it.

What do booby traps have to do with the true meaning of Christmas?

It’s a tradition too well established to throw away, so instead I’ve thought about what spiritual metaphor can be drawn from it. Turns out, I didn’t have to think very long:

Life is like these traps – nobody gets through it without making mistakes.

Nevertheless, we can be grateful that all of God’s blessings can still be ours (the presents are still under the tree waiting) if we keep moving, keep trying, and keep trusting in his grace.

Enjoy the video (above), and have a Merry Christmas!

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Now for those who want to go deeper…

I’ve been studying success principles for 25 years and writing about them for 15 years. I’ve been impressed that they can make a person more effective at anything they do, whether it be sports, finances, relationships, health, or spirituality.

The principles are dependable and sure. They bring peace of mind. They increase our capacity for happiness. They turn disaster into good fortune and heartache into healing. They are constant and reliable.

If success principles are this powerful and effective, what, then, is the purpose of religion? (Why, Leslie, do you still hold fast to yours?)

The short answer is because truth fits. Additional truth doesn’t replace the truth I’ve already found. On the contrary, it expands, magnifies, and amplifies everything I learned and believed before.

The reason I hold fast to my religion is because I believe the real power behind healing and true happiness is the atonement of Jesus Christ, and that the reason for being on this earth is to learn, grow, be tried, tested, taught and changed into someone who will be fit for his Kingdom in Heaven. With that as the overarching purpose, our daily struggles make more sense, and the more we learn, the more we discover that pain may be inevitable but suffering is optional.

As we learn and apply scripturally sound success principles (no matter where we learned them), we gain access to his power of healing and gift of peace. His blessings are predicated upon our obedience to the laws that govern his universe. We can learn obedience to law, practice it, and experience the rewards for it, even if we don’t understand exactly what it is or where the rewards come from.

For example, I don’t understand the electrical workings behind the wall of the light switch I flip, but I know that if I flip it, the light will turn on. I don’t know who manufactured the wires and connectors, or who placed them properly behind the sheetrock that make lighting my room possible, but I still use them effectively every day.

It’s the same with success principles. Believers and non-believers alike use them every day, and experience the power. But if you have an understanding of that which remains unseen, it’s easy to give the credit to God, because he is the creator and organizer behind the “wall”.

I hold fast to my religion because I cling to truth no matter where I find it. I add to it as quickly as I’m able to comprehend more. As Brigham Young, one of the early presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also revered as a prophet) explained:

The gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth.

“All truth is for the salvation of the children of men—for the benefit and learning—for their furtherance in the principles of divine knowledge; and divine knowledge is any matter of fact—truth; and all truth pertains to divinity.

“Be willing to receive the truth, let it come from whom it may; no difference, not a particle…

“‘Mormonism,’ …embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to ‘Mormonism.’ The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church… All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. ‘Mormonism’ includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things…

“I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.

“[The gospel] embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. It introduces a system of laws and ordinances.

“Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil; it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity, it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither.

“It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion…

“Our religion measures, weighs, and circumscribes all the wisdom in the world—all that God has ever revealed to man. God has revealed all the truth that is now in the possession of the world, whether it be scientific or religious. The whole world are under obligation to him for what they know and enjoy; they are indebted to him for it all, and I acknowledge him in all things…

“Truth will abide when error passes away. Life will remain when they who have rejected the words of eternal life are swallowed up in death. I like the truth because it is true, because it is lovely and delightful, because it is so glorious in its nature, and so worthy the admiration, faith and consideration of all intelligent beings in heaven or on the earth.

“I delight in this, because truth is calculated to sustain itself; it is based upon eternal facts and will endure, while all else will, sooner or later, perish.

“Every individual that lives according to the laws that the Lord has given to his people, and has received the blessings that he has in store for the faithful, should be able to know the things of God from the things which are not of God, the light from the darkness, that which comes from heaven and that which comes from somewhere else. This is the satisfaction and the consolation that the Latter-day Saints enjoy by living their religion; this is the knowledge which every one who thus lives possesses.

“How easy it is to live by the truth. Did you ever think of it, my friends? Did you ever think of it, my brethren and sisters? In every circumstance of life, no matter whether among the humble or lofty, truth is always the surest guide and the easiest to square our lives by.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 14–20)

This is why I have held fast to my religion, and also embraced the success principles, which I learned from other sources. They have contributed to my life, helping me solve many of my temporal problems and making this earthly sojourn a little more bearable. Okay, a LOT more bearable. Sometimes even enjoyable.

As we look a little farther down the road, there is an even greater purpose for learning and understanding the principles:

A common phrase in my religion is, “All things testify of Christ.” One of the most powerful explanations I’ve found for what this means was given by Todd D. Parker in a speech called, “True Doctrine, Understood, Changes Attitude and Behavior.” He puts it this way:

“When we can grasp the ideas that Christ is the Master Teacher, the universe is His classroom, and the curriculum is the Atonement, we will never read the scriptures the same way again.

“I believe you can find types of Christ in events, travels, topography, seasons, people, names, and so forth. …Israel’s journey typifies our journey toward eternal life. Israel left Canaan, went to Egypt, and fell into bondage. They were led from bondage by Moses, were purified in the desert, and then returned to their home in Canaan. Likewise, we leave God’s presence, enter a fallen telestial world, are delivered from spiritual bondage by Jesus, pass through a purifying terrestrial millennium, and return to God’s celestial presence.

“Let’s look at Moses as a symbol or type of Christ… Moses was Israel’s physical deliverer. Jesus is our spiritual deliverer. Moses’s first plague to get Israel out of Egypt was turning water into blood. Jesus’s first miracle in His ministry was turning water into wine. Moses’s last plague was the death of the firstborn. Jesus’s last miracle was the resurrection of the Firstborn.

“…Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1–2 that Israel passing through the Red Sea was a symbol of a baptism by water and a baptism by fire. Israel was saved by water. That is why there had to be a wall of water on each side. …The fire held the Egyptians back. Hence Israel was also saved by fire. It is the same with each of us. We need to be saved through a baptism of water and a baptism of fire…

“When Israel went into the promised land, they went through the Jordan River. Why go through a river? You have to be ‘born again’ (see John 3:1–5). Who led them through the river? It was Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew name for the Greek word Jesus. It was ‘Jesus’ who caused them to be born again and led them through the Jordan River back home to the land of their fathers. …All things testify of Christ…

“The sun itself is a type of Christ. It comes from the east. Christ will also come from the east. The sun gives light and life to all things. Its heat can also consume all things. …The Light of Christ gives ‘life to all things’ (D&C 88:13). Christ’s glory will also consume the wicked at His Second Coming (see D&C 5:19). People whose lives are filled with darkness will be destroyed by the light. People whose lives are full of light will be saved by that light—’as by fire,’ to use Nephi’s words (1 Nephi 22:17). Doctrine and Covenants 88:25 states that ‘the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom.’ Well, what does the earth do? The earth revolves around the sun (s-u-n). What should we do if we are to abide by the law of a celestial kingdom? Our lives should also revolve around the Son (s-o-n).

“The universe was designed to testify of Christ. Consider hibernation. Every creature—every squirrel, insect, snake, or bear—that hibernates and lies dormant during the winter appears to be dead. Each one that comes alive again in the spring testifies of Christ and His Resurrection. Every tree, every plant, every leaf that becomes green each spring—all testify of Christ. Do you think it was by chance that all of these things come to life after appearing to be dead at the same time of year when Jesus came alive again? I don’t think so. All things testify of Christ.

“Why do you go to bed at night? Because you are tired? No. You symbolically die every night. Why do you get up in the morning? To go to school? No. You symbolically resurrect every morning.” (Todd B. Parker, BYU professor of Ancient Scripture, given on 20 January 2015.)

Food for thought.

And I’m convinced now that even the principles of success are a “type” (symbol) for Christ. As I said before, the principles are dependable and sure. They bring peace of mind. They increase our capacity for happiness. They turn disaster into good fortune and heartache into healing. They are constant and reliable.

Like Christ.

Do they make you think of him as I believe they are intended to? Or you they make you think you don’t need him because you’ve got the power within yourself to make anything happen that you need?

Related: Human Empowerment in Perspective

Where some may see the principles as a replacement for Christ, I think it is wise to see the principles as a “type” or symbol that helps us learn of Christ, understand him, and experience his power in our life.

Some rejected Christ because they didn’t recognize Moses as a “type” (symbol) of things yet to come. Let’s be careful with success principles. They can take us away from Christ, or they can bring us closer to him.

This is why I hold fast to my religion.

I’ve always tried to keep my studies of the success principles inside the context of eternal, spiritual truths. To always remember that Christ is at the center, remembering that no earthly success could ever compensate for what would be lost by forgetting him. I believe that true happiness, the kind that lasts forever, cannot be achieved in any other way.

How I Apply Success Principles to my Faith Practice

I cannot achieve seemingly impossible goals without faith, and I cannot achieve the ultimate goal of eternal life with God without faith. In practicing faith in the little things, I gain experience and understanding that helps me understand how to apply faith in the Ultimate Thing.

When my children are old enough, I explain that we keep Santa alive so young children can practice believing in something they cannot see. It builds the faith muscle. It teaches them to love something they cannot hold, and to trust something about which they have only scant evidence. In practicing faith in Santa, they gain experience, understanding, and neuro-pathways that helps them understand how to apply faith in Jesus Christ. I also tell them that as long as they keep believing, Santa will keep coming, so if you ask them if they believe, they will always say yes. And some of them are in college now. 😉 We can choose to believe.

Santa is a “type” (symbol) that points us to Christ.

How it’s done

To achieve seemingly impossible goals, we must first imagine how it will feel to experience the success we seek. If we can see it in our mind, and feel it as though it is accomplished, then something in the world around us shifts, and all things combine to help us achieve it. The resources we need are there when we need them. The inspiration we need for overcoming the obstacles becomes easier to detect. The tenacity we need to see it through becomes a more instinctive part of us.

We must test it, and prove it to ourselves. By doing this, we build the faith muscle until faith is replaced with knowledge.

(Read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with your Money Matters — free— to find out how you can test it this week.)

The same goes with the ultimate goal of eternal life with God. I never thought of it before studying success principles, but I am convinced that achieving that Ultimate Goal must also begin with imagining how it will feel. Testing, practicing, and eventually figuring out how to successfully apply the principles caused me to consider that.

So it should make us wonder: What would it be like?

Imagine meeting your Maker and hearing him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

What would that feel like? Can you imagine it?

If you can, and if you let yourself FEEL it, I’m convinced that you shift something in the world around you, and his holy angels gather to help you achieve it. The resources you need to do his will are there when you need them.

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you must remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed…

“‘And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. … I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left … and mine angels (shall be) round about you, to bear you up. … The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.’ (D&C 78:17–18; D&C 84:88; D&C 78:18.)”(For Times of Trouble, Jeffrey R. Holland)

If you allow yourself to imagine and feel that victorious day, the inspiration you need for overcoming the obstacles becomes easier to detect. The tenacity you need to endure faithfully to the end becomes a more instinctive part of you. You begin to love and serve as Christ did. You become the kind of person who would feel comfortable in the presence of God.

Jesus taught us by his example to believe in the impossible. He turned water into wine. He fed the five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes. He healed the sick. And it wasn’t just for show—it wasn’t just to impress us. It was to show us what faith can do.

It was also to show us what man can do:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12)

When Peter tried to walk on the water but was overcome by fear and began to sink, Jesus caught him and asked, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:28)

We practice faith in our daily challenges, so that one day we may have enough faith to believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in spite of how terribly short we fall in our life’s performance. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10)

Talk about believing in the impossible.

So if we struggle to believe that faith can help us pay our $200 bill, where will we find the faith to believe that Jesus can save us in the kingdom of heaven after we messed up so often and so badly throughout our life? A price far greater than a measly $200.

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom,” (3 Nephi 27:19)

The good news of the gospel is that He provided a way. Truly, if the dream (faith) is big enough, then the facts (even our worst sins) don’t have to count.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

As we practice faith, optimism, hope, and belief, relying on the Lord for our daily bread, and acknowledge God’s hand in all things, we develop that muscle of faith, and our confidence grows in our ability to rely on him also for the saving of our very soul:

“…let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; …The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion…” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)

THIS is what I hope to remember at Christmastime, and always: that with God, nothing is impossible, even my salvation.

Faith is a muscle that is strengthened with practice, but it can also atrophy when neglected. It must continually be exercised. So thank heavens if you have a daily struggle to make ends meet. You get to have lots of practice exercising faith, and it very well may become your salvation. You can’t get to heaven without a strong faith muscle.

So practice the principles of success—faith, hope, optimism, eager anticipation—and alway believing that something wonderful is about to happen!

If you are comfortable, set goals that stretch you. Keep your heart and desires centered in Christ, and always give thanks for that which you receive—the good and the bad.

And never lose sight of the ultimate goal—returning to your Father in Heaven in a joyful, victorious reunion.

It is because of this potential victory, this incomparable triumph, that we celebrate Christ’s birth, because without his birth, life and sacrifice, the possibility wouldn’t even exist.

Let’s remember that the reason for the season is Christ, but also that we celebrate it for the hope and possibility of that glorious moment when we return to our heavenly home with honor. For the hope and possibility of the embrace, the joy, the tears, and the exclamations of praise to God that he showed us the way.

So think on it. Imagine it. Honor Christ by longing for it (after what he went through, it’s the least we can do), and then take whatever next step comes to mind for putting your life on to the straight and narrow path toward it.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Bonus: by putting him first, you demonstrate obedience to another law connected to yet another blessing:

“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:19)

“…and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means [without forcing it] it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)

So there is much to celebrate. There is much to hope for. And it’s all because Christ was born, lived, ministered, taught, forgave, comforted, healed, loved, atoned, and died for all of us.

Here’s wishing you a very, merry Christmas.

 

Originally published January 4, 2012

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"Perfectionism" and Prosperity

RareFaith-perfectionism

Positive Thinking Tip: God can always do something good with your less than perfect performance. Rely on him to help make up the difference when you fall short.

We live in a time when life comes at us faster than it ever has in the history of the world. We get stressed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Under these pressures, it is hard to remain calm… the state of mind necessary to live in harmony with the universal laws of success. Often we get discouraged and lose faith, simply because we spend so much time beating ourselves up for our flaws.

To qualify for the blessings we’re praying for requires a calm and confident state of mind. But when we’re disappointed in ourselves, it is tough to have faith. The problem is, so long as we’re not perfect, there’s always something to be disappointed about. So what do we do about that? How can we have peace of mind when we’re so imperfect? How can we achieve prosperity so long as we fall short of perfection?

Do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No.

In my book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Money Matters, I talk about how I had a perfectionist mentality for many years, until, after I married and had children I discovered to my dismay how literally IMPOSSIBLE it is to be perfect, even when you give it all you’ve got.

For a simple example, I’d make a commitment to study a certain amount each day or week, and I’d sit down to read… just as a baby in the other room would wake up and start to fuss. Or, I’d get the kids to bed and open my books just to hear some crying and then one of the toddlers would throw up.

It seemed that something always got in the way of my ability to make a commitment to myself and keep it. I had gotten pretty good at “self-mastery” before starting a family, but all that changed after the first baby. No longer did I have much say in how my time would be spent, even with all of my good intentions of living a disciplined, structured life.

Finally, one day I surrendered in despair. I realized I had become a cranky, sloppy person with the utter inability to finish anything I tried to start. Anything that did get done was done half-shod. I collapsed in tears and expressed to God how sorry I was that I was such a failure. I was devastated and confessed that I was doing the best I knew how, and that as poorly as I was doing, it was all I could do.

For the first time in years I felt Him really smiling down on me. It was as if He was saying, “FINALLY you realize your dependence on me! NOW we can proceed!”

Everything changed after that. How does this lesson apply to me now? I still have all the interruptions that come with family life… even more now than ever. In fact, a paper airplane just hit me in the head and I’m not even kidding.

I don’t have time to plan, prepare, and execute much of anything as perfectly, professionally, or impressively as I should. Let’s say I’m selling something, and if doing the presentation poorly could cost me the deal, I have two choices. I can either think “oh, dear… I did such a bad job” or I can think, “that’s just going to have to be good enough.”

Which mentality will bring success? Which mindset leads to prosperity?

Now that I know my best is never going to be good enough, and now that I know that God understands and is okay with that (so long as I really try), I rely on Him to make up the difference for my inadequacies. When I’m trying to do a good job and I blow it anyway, I think of Him and pray that He can make something useful out of my less-than-perfect efforts.

So long as I have believed that, I’ve seen miracles.

So then, do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No. We will not live the principles perfectly, no matter how hard we try. BUT, we can think of God when we come short, and pray for mercy.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, my husband and I made the mistake of trying to purchase multiple investment properties at the same time. The underwriters on every one of those deals became uneasy when they realized what we were trying to do. The first home went through relatively easily, but the second was more tough. The underwriters kept coming back with more unexpected hoops that we had to jump through, including having us show larger amounts available in certain accounts than what they had originally requested, as well as proving that those funds had already been seasoned for so many months, etc…

Each time we managed to jump through one hoop, they came back with yet another and another and another. Originally they only needed to see X amount in the bank and 3 months of payments in reserve. Then, seeing us as a risky investment, their requirements increased to something like X times two and 6 months in reserve, which eventually turned into a required 12 months in reserves plus a letter stating we weren’t accruing more liabilities, even though they already knew we were. It seemed as though they had long since decided not to extend the loan and were hoping we’d just give up.

After meeting their newly imposed requirements over and over, it eventually became impossible to do the next thing they asked. We were so weary that we were ready to just let it go. We had done all we could do. Then a simple thought came to mind: we don’t have to come up with all that extra money and we don’t have to do everything they are asking… all this would take is for one person in underwriting to simply have a change of heart.

Suddenly it all seemed so simple, because it was going to be so much easier for us to pray for one person’s heart to change, than to pray for another $40,000 (or whatever it was – I can’t remember) to show up in our account by the next day, WITH proof that it had already been sitting there for several months, which would have been impossible to do.

Having finally come to peace with giving it our best and letting go of the outcome, we emailed to let them know that we would not be providing them the proof of the additional unexpected funds they were requiring.

The next day, our loan officer called and said that there was only one final token request (something insignificant), and it would be a done deal. There was no more mention of the large sum of money they had wanted before. It all finally went through.

The point? “You need not run faster than you have strength.” When perfection is impossible (and it always is), God can make up the difference if you will ask for His help and then believe in Him. Do your best to only ask for those things that would be in your best and highest good, and then trust Him. (More on that…)

A woman prayed: “Dear Father, I’ve been doing really well today… so far I haven’t yelled at the kids, cussed, thrown anything around in anger, overeaten, overspent, or overlooked my responsibilities… I haven’t watched too much TV, nor driven too fast. I’ve been good natured and cheerful to everyone around me… But Father, it’s morning and time for me to get out of bed. From here I’m really going to need your help.”

That’s what it comes down to: reliance on that higher power. If you choose to believe that somehow, God makes up the difference between your efforts and what’s required, then it’s that very belief which puts you in the right state of mind to receive the blessing… even when you don’t “deserve” it. In all honesty, none of us really “deserve” it. Only by the grace of God are we even breathing. So, to reach our goals, what does He require? Belief. Belief that He has a way to make up for our failings, and asking Him to help.

So, believe you can achieve your ideal life. Do what you can, and then when needed, say to yourself, “this is just going to have to be good enough.” Can you see how thinking this way is in harmony with the laws of success? If we think we aren’t doing well enough, and if we think that our inadequacy will prevent us from succeeding, then we’re right. Trust God to fill in, believe that He will, and you can succeed.

I just got hit in the head again. I’ve tried to edit this article as I’ve gone along, and now that I’m at the end I really should run through it one more time to make sure it comes across the way I wanted it to, and make sure the sentences are readable and flowey, but a precious little 5 year old has been trying to get my attention for more than two hours, so… it’s just going to have to be good enough.

Originally published February 7, 2005

Added August 8, 2015: Those of you who have been following me for a few years know that those real estate investments didn’t go so well! So yes, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it. Here are some related follow-up articles that you may find interesting:

Gurus are Human
Human Empowerment, In Perspective

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A Little White Powder

POSITIVE THINKING TIP: Choose wisely the images, music, and movies that you allow into your mind, because they will inevitably influence the way you think… and therefore the life you live.

What do Jackson Hole, Enfamil, and a crack house have in common? They all love their white powder.

I found it perplexing one day as my family was traveling in the mountains with our friends on vacation. We were at the RV dump, preparing to hit the road for the 6-hour journey home, when I realized that I was fresh out of baby formula. My girlfriend’s youngest was also a baby, so she had just what I needed.

She ran up to her vehicle, and returned with a little zipper locked plastic bag of formula. She chuckled as she handed it to me, and said, “I promise, it isn’t what it looks like.” My eyes squinted, I looked her in the eyes, and waited for my neurons to fire their little connections in my brain so that I could recall ANYTHING that would help me know what she meant. I waited. Nothing.

Finally, I shook my head and said, “huh?”

She was incredulous. “Well, white powder… in a little bag…” she said as she waited for my neurons to fire as well. Still nothing. Dropping her chin just a little and keeping her eyes fixed on mine she said, “Drugs…”

She really expected to see the lights go on in a profound way, but the reaction was absent. “Oh!” I said, and gave her a chuckle. “I NEVER would have thought of that!” Now, for the record, my friend does not do drugs, but she has been instrumental in helping many children born to parents with drug problems. She has to work extra hard at not letting the issues she is exposed to bring her down.

Many things can shape the way we think: life experiences, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the environment to which we expose ourselves. But they DO shape us. There was a time when a little bag of white powder would have only meant “laundry soap” to me; say, at a time when I didn’t have a baby in the home. I anticipate that there will come a day, (when I have finally learned to love cooking) that a little bag of white powder will mean “confectioner’s sugar.”

It all comes down to “garbage in, garbage out,” the cliché that sums up this principle in, I must say, a rather negative way. A new, more refreshing campaign could be, “virtue in, virtue out.” But that wouldn’t fly very far in today’s media, would it? Well, all of that aside, the principle is true. We need to feed our mind with images and messages that capture the kind of life we expect to live.

I’ve heard it said: “What I watch on TV doesn’t affect me.” Teenagers love to say that. I love watching their faces when I demonstrate in my seminars in 5 minutes how untrue that is. I split the group into two, and show one group several images of fresh fruit. The other group sees images of dark alleys, jail, weapons, etc. Then I show them both a poster with these letters: “R __ P E”and have them make note of the first word that comes to their mind. Almost 100% of the fruit viewers thought “RIPE”, while the other group is usually split between “ROPE” and “RAPE”.

The fact is, the way we view the world and the way we will react in any given situation is, in fact, bent even if just a little bit by the input we have fed our minds.

So, what if our past, or our environment, IS lending to negative or destructive thinking? It must be combated with uplifting input. How much? More than the negative. With enough inspiring food for the mind and spirit, eventually the heavier thoughts shrink away. Although they will always be stored in the mind, the desire and natural tendency to bring them forward into the conscious mind will depart.

After spending considerable time in an environment that was gradually leading my thoughts to baser things, and recognizing what was happening, I began to flood my mind with inspirational media to combat the effects it was having upon me.

Two years of a bad environment required about one full year of nearly 24/7 inspirational and uplifting input (ie. movies, music, reading) before the effects were no longer prominent.

So what if you feel like, “I can’t wait a whole year to see the change!” Don’t worry, you’ll actually feel better very quickly. It just might take a long time before it isn’t a constant battle. It does require a determination, however, to win the battle no matter how long it takes. I wanted to be free of the negative effects so badly that I didn’t care if it took until the day I died to be free of it, I was going to do all I could to overpower the negative effects.

Something interesting to note – I hadn’t yet changed the negative environment, I had only decided to fight the effects of it. But after fighting the effects for a very long time, I became weary of the fight and finally became conscious to the reality that I had to change the environment itself. I was able to make that change, but wouldn’t have learned how if I hadn’t first subjected my mind to all of those months to uplifting input. The inspirational messages taught me how. I had learned things that I didn’t know I didn’t know!

It takes time, and it is not easy. But it is worth it. It’s your choice. Virtue in, virtue out. We all have room for improvement, and it all begins in our minds. You may not be able to entirely remove what is already in there, but you CAN control what you feed your mind from this moment on. It’s why I do what I do… thanks for stopping by 😉

Originally published March 29, 2002.

photo credit: Neeta Lind via photopin cc

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Are You Making it Harder Than it Has to Be?

Positive Thinking Tip: Goal achievement is a learned skill, like a toddler learning to use a phone. When it doesn’t go the way you expected, hang up and try again!

When making a phone call, if you dial the numbers right, it works. Children who have never used a phone often 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!

When a goal doesn’t happen the way you expected, it’s easy to get discouraged. Actually, that IS the COMMON thing to do. The uncommon thing to do is brush yourself off and ask the hard question:

“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?”

Common people may ask those questions, rhetorically, but not with a real intent of finding the answers. Actually, sometimes they don’t WANT the answer, because it’s just easier to say, “That law of attraction thing doesn’t work.” Truly, it’s easier to put the blame for failure on things outside of oneself.

**** OUCH! ****

(Now, if you’re offended, you may be surprised at the TURN this article takes next.)

On the other hand, UNCOMMON people ask the hard questions with a firm INTENT to find the answers. They SEEK for the answers, even if it means they have to admit that there may be more to learn.

Uncommon people will get uncommon results. Uncommon people will enjoy an uncommon lifestyle. If they DO ask the hard questions and find the answers, then the next time they pursue a goal, they can apply the new understanding, and can get better results.

Or not…

Here’s why: For me, this question / answer /new attempt process happened HUNDREDS of times before I actually saw it really work even ONCE. I know hundreds of ways it DOESN’T work. Each failed attempt showed me something else that I needed to tweak about my approach.

Think about it… The first time a kindergartner tries to use the telephone, chances are good that s/he will dial the number wrong. When that happens, it would be foolish to say, “This 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.

The law of attraction works FINE. 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, you discover that it can even be easier than THAT… like discovering the redial button.

But I 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 money you make, you’ll always get plenty of opportunity to exercise faith, make sacrifices, and 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. Sorry to burst your bubble.

The knowledge I share here does not avert the challenges, it just gives you the power to overcome them when they show up… the power of subconscious goal achievement in spite of difficulty… the power to have PEACE of MIND through the process.

And yes, you CAN HAVE your victory. You can have the MONEY you need. You can find the job, or succeed in business… You can have the FREEDOM you seek!

Just try again, and learn from your mistakes. That’s how you win.

Find out what else you may need to know, so that you can achieve that oh-so-elusive goal. I want to help. Read the Jackrabbit Factor story free, so I can reveal the common mistakes people make with the law of attraction; or if you’re ready for more advanced answers, start the 12-week Family Time & Money Freedom (FTMF) home study course.

You can succeed!

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Spring Cleaning and Notes on Homeschooling

What began as a repository of thinking tips, this blog of mine is now becoming a catch-all for many more thoughts and ideas that I personally want to capture.

So today, I’m doing some spring cleaning, and as I find notes that have inspired or influenced me, I’m copying them here to not feel so guilty about throwing them away.

About seven years ago, I decided to take the plunge and try a homeschooling experiment for just one year with just one child.  At the time, I picked the child I knew I couldn’t ruin, because she was already demonstrating a sense of self-motivation beyond her years, and an innate desire for excellence. (Besides that, she was about the only one of the bunch who was game.)

I had been thinking about homeschooling for ten years already, but because I had been a product of the public school system, and because I had excelled, and loved the challenge it had been for me, I really had a hard time believing that anything less (or different) than that could possibly be remotely adequate.  I was such a fan of the system, in fact, that I went on to get my degree in secondary education, and taught mathematics in public and private schools for a number of years.

Because of my fear of doing “my own thing”, I took that first step by signing up for the public school district’s distance learning program. That way, I could be giving my daughter the same curriculum at home, accomplish it in a fraction of the time (like I had been told is common for homeschoolers), and have her tested at the end of the year with all the other public school students to see how we did.

That was a safe segue, in my mind.

My daughter and I loved our time together. We dabbled in some of the materials they had sent home with me, but pretty much just did whatever it was that caught her interest at the time.  She was in 2nd grade and did a lot of cooking, and child care for her younger siblings. She loved being my little helper, and reveled in how important it made her feel.

In January, I realized we were on the down stretch of the school year, and that I should probably open up those lesson plans to see what it was they had been expecting us to do. I told her, “It’s time to get caught up with the rest of the kids at school, so let’s take a look…”

I opened the packet and began to look over the daily lesson plans.  Sure, we had been doing the fun pieces, such as the online math games, and language development activities; but looking at what else we were expected to have been doing all those months put me in an instant panic.

The daily lesson plans were so detailed, so spelled out, that it would have literally taken us 6 hours a day, one-on-one, to do everything they expected us to do.

I called the head of the distance learning program at the district level in a panic. “I don’t know what to do! I think I’ve made a big mistake! We’ll never get caught up!”

She calmed me down and finally responded, “Oh, don’t worry. Just pick up right where you are; she’ll get it ALL again next year.”

R-e-a-l-l-y.

I was flabbergasted. I thought to myself, “You mean, we can blow off an entire 6 months of school, and even the DISTRICT isn’t worried about it?? When you’re enrolled in the public school, you can’t miss more than 9 days without getting a nastigram and a visit from a police officer.”

That’s when I learned that in grade school, they introduce a concept one year, and then repeat it all over again the next.  Then they introduce some new concepts again, and repeat them all again the next.  What I learned from this experiment is that when a child is ready and wants to learn a topic, you can share it with them just once, and they own it.  It’s when they’re not interested, or partially tuned out, that you have to keep repeating it for more than 600 days… it’s really the only way the school CAN do it – in hopes that during those 600 days, each one of the 30-34 students will tune in long enough to get it.

Related: A Vision for What’s Possible

Over the next few years, one-by-one each of my children were given the choice to come home or stay in school, and last year we had all but one home with us.  I believe in the principle that there is genius potential inside of each child, and sometimes it can only be discovered when he or she is permitted to get bored long enough that they dig down and find that creative genius.  For the first two months of the detoxification period, there was a lot of complaining, a lot of boredom… they were worried because mom wasn’t standing in front of a grid of desks at home, teaching them something important.  I knew we had turned a corner when the complaining stopped, and the laughter and creative chatter began, as they collaborated together on how they were going to build a fort out of the discarded refrigerator boxes in the back yard. They had finally discovered their freedom to think for themselves and create their own learning environment.

Related: Looking at Life with New Eyes

For several years after beginning my experiment, I continued to have my children take the standardized tests at the end of the year. I wanted to see if our new approach – letting them live in a culture where they were expected to think and choose for themselves what they wanted to be learning – was ruining them, or what.  In every case, I was shocked but grateful that their test scores came back as though they had sat in the classroom all year long.

I remember one defining moment when my daughter was the age of a 6th grader, and we hadn’t formally talked about math all year long.  We had solved incidental problems together that had come up in natural life, but there had been no real ‘math lessons’ to speak of.

To get her ready for the standardized test that year, I bought her a math workbook for her grade level, and said, “Just see how much of this you can do. Let me know if you get stuck.”  A few times she brought it to me to get some clarification on what they wanted her to do, but she had the entire workbook completed in a couple days.  Because she wasn’t drilled on it every day of the year, she actually found it interesting, challenging, and fun to do.

I believe we’re all born with an innate desire to learn all the things we’ll need to know to complete our ‘life’s mission’.  We’ll naturally be drawn to the interests that will play a part in our life’s work, and we’ll naturally get frustrated when we don’t know what we need to know. Suddenly, in a situation like that, the knowledge MATTERS, and we are hungry to learn it because it already has application for what we want to be doing. That’s how I learned to build websites. That’s how I learned to publish books. That’s how my husband and I tripled our income. That’s how I learned marketing and how to become an internationally published three-time best selling author and speaker.

My two oldest were in junior high when I made the switch, and were simply not interested. I didn’t push it, I knew they were in a groove and enjoying their experience in school.  But last year my oldest was a senior. About 3 months into the school year, he listened to a lecture on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, and something shifted.

He was so completely engrossed with what he was learning – outside of school – that before long, his new addiction to studying American History was all he wanted to do. A math teacher challenged him on some of his facts, and the game was on. He’d stay up late into the night researching, finding sources, pulling together a persuasive essay that he couldn’t wait to share first with his math teacher, and then with the world.  He did all this, not for an American History assignment, but because he loved the subject and wanted to teach others what he had been learning.

We recognized the spark to be what other homeschooling families had described when the child enters a scholar phase – naturally.  We encouraged it, and provided opportunities and resources to keep the flame alive.  School began to be an inconvenience to him. His regular homework began to seem so trivial, and he became frustrated at the irrelevance of so much of it in contrast to the importance of the topic that had captured his heart.

In January of that year, just 4 months before his graduation, he said he was ready to come home. I was upset! I said, “I’ve been inviting you to come home for six years! YOU chose this path, I think you need to just finish what you started…”

His reply: “But Mom, I’m too busy studying to do my schoolwork.”

I almost couldn’t do it. He was so close to finishing the path he had chosen all along; but if I were to stand by the principles I had been teaching my family – to let them follow what interests them and find and fulfill their life’s mission – then I had to support it. He wanted to be homeschooled.  He had been given an opportunity to go abroad and participate in a historical dig in Israel during that final semester of high school, but it would mean he couldn’t “graduate”.

Before pulling him out, I contacted the different universities that he was interested in attending, and was amazed to discover that they didn’t need him to graduate before they’d accept him. All they cared about was whether or not he had taken the ACT (which he had done the year before), and they even found him to be a very attractive candidate for demonstrating so much drive to do something this unusual.

You should have seen it – when I pulled him out so close to graduation. The administration couldn’t understand it, and had a hard time believing that the colleges did not CARE if he had a diploma or not.  Instead of getting his diploma, he found himself in a new position of responsibility as the Regional Director for the Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Studies (Restoration Generation).

The travel abroad experience was canceled due to unrest in the middle east, but we have not regretted the decision to let him leave high school early.  He does not regret it either.  He didn’t “walk” with his friends but loved his choice more.  And just to check it off the list, he went ahead and aced the GED last fall.  Not because the universities needed it, but just to officially close that chapter of his life. He ended up earning full-tuition scholarships from his University that helped him stay out of debt as he worked toward graduation.

What about the other kids? Each year I discover something new about them and their inborn talents. They stay active and involved in a number of extra curricular activities and have friends all over the valley who share their unique life’s experiences and interests.

Related: What the district head truancy officer told me

My 12 year-old son Jared is being mentored by a computer programmer – a teacher at a nearby college – who was also homeschooled and loves Jared’s passion for programming. (He wanted to learn the Python programming language but I couldn’t find a class for him to join. The only thing I found was a group that could be hired to come in and train your employees for a large sum, so instead I had to find and hire a private tutor.) They are presently working together on building an application that will help our business clients.  He also plays trombone in the school band and is involved in an after school club for smarty pants.

My 13 year-old daughter is volunteering her services for handling some of the secretarial responsibilities of a national organization with which my husband works.  She is also involved (with most of her siblings) in EVMCO, a choral organization which just released an album last fall that hit #1 on the Billboard charts in the traditional classical category. She just hosted an “Oh Stuff and Nonsense” party for other 13-15 year old homeschooled girls in the area, and is an avid reader.

My younger children have taught themselves to read, tell time, solve math problems, and just recently we all became fascinated with the strange characteristics of prime numbers – including my 5 year-old, right there along side her older siblings.  Give her a pile of beans representing a certain number, and in a few minutes, she’ll tell you if it’s prime or not.

Each morning we study scriptures, read selections from American History, have breakfast and do chores.  The rest of the day is wide open for exploration, or just enjoying each others’ company.  No more 7:30 am chaos, no more 4:00 pm competition for Mom’s attention… no more homework sessions that interfere with family dinner, and best of all, plenty of time to think and receive inspired sparks of curiosity that lead each one to ask the right questions at the right time, to help them prepare for the life’s work they will be most uniquely prepared to fulfill.  It’s a lofty ideal, but I’ve seen it in action.  (I’ve illustrated how this phenomenon also happens for adults in Portal to Genius.)

In spite of all I’ve said so far, I will add that I DO love the education I received through the public school system. But I love more what I’ve learned since… and I hope to keep learning new and amazing things from now until the day I die… and I expect, beyond.

9/17/13 update:

Had an interesting conversation with Jared the other day… this boy refuses to work on Math. I have not been able to get him to do his lessons, so at age 14, he still hasn’t learned about fractions and decimals. Scary, right? Well, he called down from the loft where he was working on a computer program and said, “Mom, I’m trying to make this ball speed up as it gets closer to the hole. Any idea how I would program it to behave that way?” I said, “Hmm… sounds like an inverse relation… you’d use a fraction…” and as I was trying to remember how the formula would go, he hollered down again, “Never mind! I think I got it – I tried something and it’s slowing down as it gets closer, so now I’ll just try it the other way.”

Once he had it nailed, I said, “Did you know you just did Algebra?”

He said, “Really?”

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what Algebra is, finding an unknown value…”

He replied, “Then I think I’m going to love Algebra.”

“Um, well, then maybe you should get busy doing your fractions and decimals…”

He groaned.

A few weeks later, I brought it up again, just wanting him to finally get through his fractions and decimals books so he could move on to Algebra (because he was looking forward to it), but he’s been bored to tears just at the thought of drudging through that book.

So, because we’ve been having a hard time getting him to do his basics, I thought maybe we’d just go ahead and jump to Algebra and then go back and fill in the gaps as they come up, because he’ll be more interested in those more basic concepts when they’re actually relevant to what he needs at the time.

But then he asked what Calculus was, and I said it had to do with rates of change and … I didn’t remember what all, so I said, “Do you want to see what it’s like?” He said sure, so we pulled up a Calculus lesson and watched the first 11 minute video together. It was on limits, and it used functions, and algebra, and decimals and ALL of those things.

Remember, he had no training in fractions or decimals, but instead of being overwhelmed by his lack of knowledge and formal experience with the ‘pre-requisites’, he lit up like a light bulb and got excited, because it looked so much like some of the things he has done, or tried to do, in his computer programming, and it all actually made sense to him.  I had been a math major, but had forgotten most of what I learned in Calculus and yet he was fully understanding the very things that no longer immediately made sense to me.

He paused the video several times to just digest what had been said, and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! So that’s why graphs are useful!” and he threw his head back and sang “Ahhhhhhh!” like a chorus of angels. “You know how some things just make you happy? This makes me SOOO happy-happy!!!!” His eyes literally started watering and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

He’s 14, completely ‘behind’ on the basics, but totally in love with calculus.

Crazy, huh? Then without being asked, he got on the computer and spent a few hours honing skills and learning new things. I love it. They always told me that this would happen when you approach education in the unconventional way that we do… it’s just nice when we see it actually happen.

05/16/14 update:

Life has a way of opening doors and leading us to amazing opportunities when we let go of societal expectations and fearlessly follow our dreams. ~ Me

My oldest son (who ‘dropped out’ during his senior year) called me from college. He had been there only three weeks but had an announcement to share:

Because of his desire to get involved, and after exploring some of the campus clubs (and planning to start one of his own… who does that?? Such a thing NEVER would have crossed my mind when I was in school), one thing led to another and he was asked if he’d be willing to be one of two students who would be responsible for training the team leaders for next semester’s “Get Connected” event.

(Get Connected is basically the Freshman Orientation program for incoming students, who get divided up into groups for games and activities to get to know each other before classes start.)

So my son and this one other person are now charged with training approximately 300 group leaders who will direct 6000 freshmen next semester.

What??

My son has only been a Freshman himself for three weeks!

I happen to think that his opportunities for leadership (this hasn’t been the only one) were set in motion ahead of him as soon as he made that courageous decision to think differently his senior year, when he stepped away from what was “normal”.

So don’t be afraid to do something different than what society expects from the masses. It opens doors. When I have more time, I’ll update again to describe the doors it opened recently for my 16-year old daughter and my 12 year-old son…

09/20/16 update:

When that 12-year old son (Jared) turned 15, I had an urgent sense that I needed to change something up. Where previously, his free time had been spent learning and growing, it was now being squandered, and I saw college on the horizon and a need for more guidance and structure to help him prepare. His interest in math hadn’t gone anywhere, and he still enjoyed coding, but the work in Khan Academy and his more formal math training had taken a back seat, with quite a few gaps left unclosed.

My search for what I was to do next was difficult and wrenching. It began with an investigation into where I might be able to put my 7th grader into a band. He had played with a local elementary school before our move across town, but I hadn’t found a junior high that would allow part-time enrollment for only band.

That’s a long and painful story. I’m not going to go into it here. But ultimately I found a charter school that would allow his participation with NO strings attached. The principal told me, “I think homeschooling really is the best thing for kids; I’m just grateful that a lot of parents see us as a good second alternative.”

Wow! I felt so at home and respected. He invited my band son to take anything else at the school that interested him. So in 7th grade, he was the only student on campus with something like four electives. Fast forward two years, and our family has fallen enough in love with the school that everyone is now full-time. They provide education the way I remember it in the 70s. They don’t teach to the tests. They haven’t changed anything to adjust to common core. They know that their method works, so why change what isn’t broken? At the end of the year, the students continue to test extremely well.

As for Jared, he is now a senior in high school. At least according to his age. He does not have the credits he needs to graduate, but that’s okay. Colleges don’t need a diploma to accept you, they only need to see how well you did on the College Entrance exams (ACT or SAT). He will get a GED if he chooses to. He did well on the ACT, so he’s being courted by several universities now.

But here’s the point of my update. Last year, he wanted to be in the same math class as the other kids his age, which would have been at least Algebra II. However, he still hadn’t completed his fractions and decimals – but we moved on and figured he’s fill in those gaps as needed along the way. He worked hard to catch up by studying Pre-Algebra and Algebra I online over the summer, on his own. He joined the Algebra II class that year, and aced it. In fact, after a few months of demonstrating a quick mind and aptitude for it, his teacher asked if he would be the TA for the later hour. (He was available since he wasn’t taking all the required classes for graduation – I think he only took 4 classes that year, so there was room in his schedule to be a teacher’s assistant.)

He didn’t want to take English or History at the school but agreed to join Speech and Debate, and Yearbook and Journalism. For his outstanding marks and reputation as a good citizen overall, he was chosen to represent his high school and honored by the mayor as student of the month.

Having completed Algebra II with flying colors, he was motivated to get into Calculus for his Senior year. However, he had not taken Pre-Calculus, and even though his teacher had seen how quickly he had gone from Pre-Algebra to Algebra II, he did not recommend taking the jump to Calculus.

Well, Jared was not going to be told no. So he spent his summer teaching himself Pre-Calculus and showed up ready to go on day one.

It’s been 3 months now, and he has been scoring at the top of ALL the classes at the school on those Calculus tests. He loves what he’s learning, and the other kids flock to him when it’s time to study for the next one. He’s even been known to catch errors that nobody else catches.

Oh, but he won’t be graduating 🙂

And he’s okay with that. I’m very proud of him for thinking outside the box and thriving. I’ll take a kid who loves learning and spends every waking moment honing his skills over a kid who jumps through all the hoops to get a diploma but remembers school with disdain. Jared will have happy memories of learning, being involved, and developing thinking skills that will serve him the rest of his life.

Update 5/20/2017 

Oh man, I have so much to say but need to keep it short. Jared’s last semester at his school (senior year) was amazing. This is the child who was completely content to sit at a computer all day, but reluctantly agreed to take some more classes at the charter school last fall. Some back story: he has flatly refused to take any English courses his entire schooling career, but at the last minute let me and his former Speech and Debate teacher talk him into signing up for AP Literature. (Due to his aversion to formal English classes, I had previously steered him toward Speech and Debate, Yearbook and Journalism, and two years of Latin, so that at least he could be linguistically functional in the real world.)

English is Important but Math is Importanter. Yes, I bought him the t-shirt.

In the spring, he surprised us by going out for the high school musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. This is the boy who has musical talent but no interest. (He was about 14 when we stopped expecting him to attend all his sibling’s concerts, and he was about 15 when we finally let him quit the Millennial Choir for good.)

As for the play, we found out later that the directors had trouble deciding between him and another student for the lead part of Adam. Thankfully the other kid got the lead, because Jared was only semi interested in being a part of it anyway, and was thrilled to get a part that didn’t require a giant amount of time. He still got a small solo and enjoyed the participation, without the heavy responsibility of learning all the lead lines, songs, and carrying the success of the whole show.

In February I got a call from the school letting me know that he needed to be withdrawn at the end of 3rd quarter. The counsellor told me I agreed to do this when they agreed to let him come part time three years ago. I didn’t remember this at all – but the point is that if he finishes his senior year without graduating, it shows up as a “dropout” on their records and affects their official school reputation. With a small student body, every ding makes a big difference. I was shocked and angry – here he is finally having the time of his life at a school he wasn’t excited about in the first place, and they’re basically kicking him out. The irony is that he had recently been awarded Student of the Month for a second time, was loved by everyone who knew him, was acing his classes, and was still preparing for two AP tests and the school musical. They were going to kick him out before he could take the tests and perform in the play.

As frustrated as I was, I couldn’t be angry at the school. I understood their dilemma and didn’t want to throw them under the bus. It wasn’t their fault he didn’t have enough credits, and we have all been SOOO grateful for all the school has done for our family. It has been an excellent and extremely rewarding experience. So I talked with the administration and we came to a compromise. They would let him stay until 30 days before school ended (instead of much earlier, at the quarter), and he would be allowed to return to take his AP tests, and to perform in the musical.

A few weeks before his days were over, we received an invitation to the Semper Sersum awards banquet, and also the regular awards ceremony. Both were scheduled to take place after his withdrawal date, but they allowed him to return for these as well. He was awarded for academic excellence (overall GPA) at the ceremony…

….and was somewhat expecting an award in Mathematics at the Semper Sersum banquet. He’s known school-wide for being a freakish math genius and for being the only one to spot errors in the teacher’s work, and the fact that he went from Pre-Algebra to Calculus as quickly as he did (excelling all the way), led us to believe that would be his recognition that night.

Each department selected one Student of the Year for each grade, but he didn’t get the Math award. We were shocked when he was instead given the only 12th grade Student of the Year for English award, especially since his AP English class was the only formal English training he had since 2nd grade, and especially since he’s historically had such an aversion to the subject.

She said:

Good Evening. My name is Jessica Kasten and I will be presenting the 12th grade English award tonight.

As I’m sure you could guess, teaching seniors is often challenging 🙂 Many 18 year olds believe that they already know everything there is to know, are far too tired to read, and can’t  be bothered with grammar lessons. But some are different and tonight I have selected one student who has risen above senioritis and has eagerly devoured every piece of information I made available. It is students like him that not only make my job enjoyable, but push me me to become a better educator.

This student embraces the rich and challenging curriculum we offer. In fact, I overheard a conversation he was having the other day where a few of his classmates asked him why he wasn’t upset [about not graduating] and he responded, “I guess it depends on what your goal here is – I came to Benjamin Franklin to make friends and learn and I have achieved those two things.”

To me, this student is a true representation of a Charger and certainly exceeds his classmates in all things English. Not only does he have a positive attitude day in and day out, not only does this student thirst for knowledge, but he also understands the value being an educated person.

I’m proud to have helped him meet his goals this year, I’m proud to have taught him, and I am eager to see what great things he goes on to do in the future.

The 12th grade English award goes to Jared Householder.

As each of his teachers learned that he was getting “kicked out”, there was a lot of heads shaking – that of all students, this was the kid getting kicked out?? I got a phone call from the soon-to-be valedictorian of the senior class on Tuesday of his last week. She said that the senior class didn’t think it was right he wouldn’t get to walk at graduation with all his friends, so they were planning a special ceremony just for him, and she wanted to invite me.

So on Thursday, they surprised him by gathering in the gym, giving him a cap (from ASU, borrowed from a students’ older brother), lining up on one side of the gym and having him walk from the other side, escorted by his parents, while they played the graduation anthem. His math teacher helped the students pull it off, and another teacher (professional photographer) took pictures. He was stunned. I cried. The valedictorian said “We LOVE Jared and wanted him to be recognized.” Then they presented him with an engraved frame/class picture that said, “Class of 2017”.

I’m so glad I felt that urgent sense that I needed to change something up. This was definitely a Mom pay-day.

_______

Here’s the ‘note’ I stumbled onto in my spring cleaning that spawned this whole post in the first place.  I’ll post it here, and then get back to work.

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“Something’s Gotta Change”

I didn’t think it would take me this long to get back to the story of why I dropped off the map in May, but it’s been on my mind each day because of the FLOOD of feedback I received from my last post.

Part of my hesitation (besides not finding enough time to just knock it out) has been trying to decide which details and how much to share, because to share it all would only leave me time to live HALF a life.

One thing I’ve learned about life is that there’s always something more to learn – it’s a curse and a blessing all wrapped into one. You can never coast too long without life delivering a challenge with a call to grow, learn, and improve some more.

Having come to terms with our financial mistakes in 2006, it was time to put the principles back to the test, prove them true again, and conquer. My message during that time evolved, from “You can prosper!!” to “Profiting From your Losses” and “Making Sense out of Setbacks”. I found it much easier to address these topics because they had become the new theme for my life.

My best blog posts during those years were the ones I wrote to coach MYSELF through the traumas from which I was trying to recover. Turns out my BEST epiphanies and most popular posts were the ones born from my toughest moments.  I constantly worked to view my challenges the way I had been teaching others to view theirs, and where the “basic” principles introduced in Jackrabbit Factor didn’t seem to adequately address what I faced in those moments, I found new principles and remedies to help me cope.

Jackrabbit Factor is still an important primer, but the good stuff is in Portal to Genius. (Read the truth about Portal to Genius). It gave me a platform to show through fictional characters how to turn things around when you’re too tired or too cynical to apply the principles you learn in Jackrabbit.

It allowed me to answer my own question, “Do the challenges ever stop?” and gave me a place to show how you can find new purpose that can inspire you to move through despair.

Ultimately, I discovered a satisfactory answer to why the law of attraction stops working. Beyond that, I was excited to work into the book an illustration of what it’s like to be led to the principles because you want abundance, but ultimately finding out what other good and worthy purpose the enticement perhaps is really for.

Not quite ready to go public with our personal challenges (outside of weaving them into a fictional story), I shared my lessons learned since writing Jackrabbit only with a small section of my readers, requiring that they jump through some extra hoops to get to them. I told them how we had used up our savings, and had run out of available credit. I described how it felt to finally get to the end of our visible resources, and the “portal to genius” we discovered there*.

*After getting down to our last $200 with no other paycheck in sight, we were shown through a spark of genius (inspiration) how to solve our problem.  We became conscious of some of our hidden resources, and pulled in more than $43,000 that month. We even had another similar month after that.

Finally, I had the fodder I needed to complete the book Portal to Genius.

My favorite epiphanies over the years that brought us to that success are now gathered in the Top 47 list shown on the right sidebar of this page. The list isn’t complete because I haven’t had time to go back through and tag all my posts yet, but that’s where you’ll find some other amazing insights that helped me tremendously when it appeared we were doomed to lose everything… and the good news is, no, we didn’t end up losing everything.

(The new inflow got us caught up, but it wasn’t enough to repay our debts. It gave me renewed confidence in the principles, but we still had a long row to hoe.)

While tomorrow will certainly bring new challenges, and while I continue to learn how to roll with the punches, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned so far, for the person I’m becoming through the challenges, and for the tender mercies of the Lord that assure me He is still mindful of me and my family, even in our failings. His hand in our life has kept us going from day to day. Can you say, “manna”?

Sorry – it’s so hard not to go off on tangents here.  Back to the story (of why I disappeared in May.)

After the book was out, and in the summer of 2010 I reconnected with Kirk Duncan. I was a student who was ready for the next teacher to appear, and there he was. Although we had known each other for a few years already (because I had been invited to speak to his organization a couple times), I really hadn’t known who HE was or what I needed to learn from him.  For sake of focus, that whole story will have to be shared another time.

I attended his Body Language Show, and his Master of Influence class, and something was re-ignited in me. I caught a vision of what more I could be doing to see even better results. Not only was I going to throw myself into the application of what I learned from him through our mentoring sessions, but I also decided to step it up and get busy actively putting on workshops again and generating new momentum for my business with the more sober, more refined, and more mature message I now had to share.

I thought:

Perhaps I had finally turned the corner and I would start seeing more of an increase over and above the much appreciated physical, emotional, and spiritual manna on which we’d been surviving.

Perhaps it was time to stop holding back, fearful of taking too much time away from my family, and just GET IT DONE (get our debts paid back).

So that’s what I did. I gave my website a face lift, filled up the calendar with a year full of events, and went to work.  The demand began to grow as the momentum increased, until spring of this year (2011) when I found myself flying out for an event nearly every weekend.

Kids? What kids. I didn’t have time to really stay connected with who they were and what they were going through. They didn’t like it, but they were willing to support the cause. We all pulled together to make it work, with the promise that it would mean we could get our debts paid once and for all and ultimately return to a more sustainable pace with normal family routines and a little more freedom to get and do more of what they wanted.

Despite one event in March, which was one of my worst ever (and about which I’m still embarrassed), I had a GREAT time on the Book Writing Retreat (because it was a retreat, after all), but by the end of May, I was figuratively black and blue from being away from home so frequently.

I knew something had to change by the time I spoke for Garrett Gunderson’s big Financial Enlightenment event with several hundred people, because I was so visibly weary that when it was over, some of the other speakers (and even quite a few participants) approached me with pity and hoped to help ME however they could.

I had lost my “beacon in the fog”. I could no longer envision a single reward in my future that was worth putting myself through this.

What made matters worse, was when I finally sat down to see how effective the year’s strategy had been, the revenue was only about a 4% increase over the previous year when I had kept a more reasonable schedule, doing most of my work online.

That was the final straw. Again, here was my “proof” that no matter what I did, the laws must be in suspend mode, and my results were probably just going to continue to be like manna, and manna alone.

I concluded, if I’m just going to be living on manna either way, what the heck am I trying so hard for? That’s when I began to seriously consider bankruptcy for the first time.

With the debts we had accrued (by trying to hold our bad real estate investments for far too long), and in spite of the steady annual growth we had been experiencing in our books / seminar business, the revenues had not been large enough to get rid of (or even make much progress toward) the heavy debt load. On paper, we were an easy case for bankruptcy.

Need I mention, our relationship was strained? My husband had left his job in 2005 to help me in the business, and over time his work building and maintaining our online school had become a full-time venture. Within about two years he replaced his income, so it made sense to keep at it.  At least working on our business promised an unlimited income, while his previous job definitely had a ceiling.

The problem with this arrangement was that we had to pay for our own insurance (expensive), we were maxed out for time and couldn’t add another thing to our plate even if it meant earning more money, and even though he worked as much as 12-14 hours a day, there was no paycheck specifically with his name on it.

Not a big deal; we’re in this together and we share the business profits, but in my moments of weariness and despair, it was easy to latch on to the distorted notion that he wasn’t doing enough to solve our problem.

It often felt like I was shouldering the whole load because I was the one traveling, and that he had nothing really concrete to show for his fill-all-the-gaps-and-keep-things-running contribution.  While I knew consciously that if he stopped what he was doing, it would probably all break down, it wasn’t enough to keep me from feeling like a major victim in the world of my own creation.

We had a number of meetings with several different mentors – marriage advice, money advice, business development advice – and some pretty ugly conversations between each other. Deep down we both believed we’d ultimately work it out, but at times we couldn’t see how it could be possible.

With some excellent advice to me from Dino Watt, (founder of the Business of Marriage), I gathered the strength to have a specific kind of conversation with my husband. That was the beginning of the much-needed surgery to address the root of our problem, remove the cancer from our relationship and heal the necessary incision. I had to remember that on the way to success, sometimes surgery is required, and in the middle of it, it would appear there has been a murder in the room. In reality though, sometimes surgery is necessary to save a life.

Through this process, which spanned many weeks, I got a good look at who I had become in the mad race to fix our mess, and I didn’t like what I saw. I couldn’t feel any more. I was numb, and ready to do whatever was necessary to find a pace I could live with. I didn’t care if it meant going back to square one and making sure that this time, the ladder was leaning on the right wall.

I’m a traditional sort of girl. My husband is a traditional sort of guy. We both want to fill the traditional roles where he is the provider and I am the nurturer. That had always been our plan and our intent, but somehow we had ended up in circumstances that appeared to be opposite of what either of us had ever wanted.

To rock the boat now, I felt like I was rebelling against God. Here I had felt led all those years to do what I had done, but I had no more strength left to continue. I was done. I didn’t care if it meant we’d end up in a shack. I was ready to let go, and NOT be tempted to pick it all up again.

This was the first time I didn’t really seek approval from God to stop; I was outright mad at Him for stringing me out so long, and wasn’t really interested in his opinion on the matter any more.

At the same time, I knew I was cutting myself off from his inspired solutions, and hardening my heart.  But it just hurt too much to respond in any other way.

It wasn’t long before I started noticing some interesting things going on around me. I can’t really share all that transpired, but within just a few days, I had multiple encounters with people who said or did things that got me thinking differently.  Through these experiences, I learned with certainty that the Lord understood what I was going through, that He had compassion on me, and that it was “complete”.

What was complete?  Did I hear someone say, “It’s complete”??

The words “It’s complete” repeated in my mind twice nearly audibly, and many times more as I reflected upon their initial arrival. Accompanying those words was a feeling of peace, and tenderness. I knew they were not of my own invention, because I was already convinced that I was jumping off a ship I should have been steering. But no, this impression let me know that God was still at the helm of my life, and that everything was playing out just as it was supposed to be.

Could God really be that merciful? Now? Even in spite of my bitterness?

I still get choked up as I think about it.

I was in awe. Even as angry as I had been, He put people in my path, inspired some conversations, and prepared my heart to hear and recognize his confirmation to me that this child of His was throwing an unnecessary tantrum.

In one meeting with my bishop (who is like a pastor or minister in my church), he listened, counseled me, and then knowing how hard-hearted I said I must be, he left me with this verse: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God…”  Romans 8:38-39

In other words, not even my bitterness was separating me from His love. Suddenly, He didn’t feel so far away to me anymore.

In time, I had to smile, because I realized that, had I bothered to ask His opinion, I may have discovered that these changes were sanctioned all along, and that, in fact, I was not rebelling at all. Turns out the changes I was “selfishly” making for my own self-preservation were actually necessary for His purposes as well.

How mysterious are the works of God. That’s all I have to say about that.

That night I had a dream. It was a recurring dream that I’ve had for many years, so it didn’t really surprise me when it began. I think I’ve had it enough that I know I’m dreaming as it happens, but it still always has to play out nonetheless.

Generally, I find myself on a campus, usually a high school, but I can’t find my classes. I wander around, and eventually get to where I’m supposed to be, but by the time I get there, I’ve already missed several weeks and I’m unsure of what to do about it.  Or, I manage to get to class, but somehow I don’t have the homework that I’m supposed to turn in.  In every dream, I wonder if I’m not learning what I’m supposed to learn, or being where I’m supposed to be.

But that night, the dream was different. This time I was on a college campus, and I could see a graduation ceremony taking place. Again, I was in the wrong place. I felt like I was supposed to be in the ceremony with the other graduates.

Then my dear friend Carolyn Cooper appeared. None of my friends had ever shown up in this recurring dream before, so I was thrilled to see her. She could tell I was feeling disappointed that I had missed graduation, and said, “Don’t worry, your life experiences count toward graduation, and you’re only two or three classes away.”  Then she even added, “I’ll show you where they are.”

I woke from that dream completely at peace and satisfied with its conclusion. I felt gratitude and amazement – to realize that the recurring dream and this new ending was another way for God to assure me that everything is just as it should be, and to be patient and trust him.  It rounded out my experience from the day before, and helped me understand what had been meant by the words “it’s complete”.

Here’s what I know: I was supposed to create what I created over the last 10 years. But despite my fears, it was never meant to be an unending assignment away from my favorite and most important role as a mother. It was necessary, but temporary.

I recognize God’s hand in our family during those years, and how he held us together, taught each child individually through his Spirit, and strengthened us all while the work was in process. But it’s complete.

And now I know, that even though we have debts to pay, I don’t have to keep rushing to create new, bigger, or better products and services, always leaving my previous projects under-developed. Too much of a good thing can be bad.

Here’s another article on that topic: How to know when it’s time to stop.

A conversation with Rich Christiansen helped me recognize that in my business it’s time to shave away the activities that don’t fuel me, and which aren’t really profitable, and pick the few things I love the most and drive them deep, fine-tuning them and developing THOSE products and services to their peak potential.

He also taught me how pulling back or veering away from the goal is often a sign that you’re on the RIGHT track.

Who knew?

Long story short (even though it’s too late to call this one short…), Rich also taught us about “dancing in your tutu”. This means that you keep your eye on the ultimate goal, but sometimes you have to do what’s uncomfortable for a season so that you can get there.

Men, imagine, standing on the street corner dancing in a tutu to make the money you need to fund the achievement of your ultimate dream.

In the Jackrabbit Factor, it’s called going after another paper sack even though you’re really on a rabbit hunt.

In our case, my husband and I both agreed it was time for me to settle down, and time for him to dance in a tutu, while we put our life back in order. It was time for us to redefine how we want our relationship to look, and start the lengthy process of putting in all in place.

We’re in this for the long haul, and knew that if we want the kind of golden years we’ve always had in mind, we have to stop and re-define the guard rails of what we are, and are not, willing to do.

About this same time, my children participated in a Pioneer Trek where they recreated some of the experiences of the early Mormon settlers.  They dressed in clothing from the 1800s, were assigned to families with a Ma and Pa, carried their only belongings each in a single bucket, and pulled handcarts across wilderness terrain for several days.  Along the path, they were told true stories about those who had lived through the original trek, and learned how to cope with and overcome many of the same kinds of challenges.

On the following Sunday at church, quite a few of the youth stood and shared their experiences and lessons learned. As I listened to their stories, one of the experiences struck me personally. They talked about the women’s pull.

The women’s pull was the section of the trek when the men left the trail because they were needed in the service of their country during the Mexican War. The men who left were known as the Mormon Battalion, and this left the women to shoulder the load alone.

What touched me was when they talked about the end of the women’s pull. During the mock-trek, the young men did leave the young women to pull the carts alone for quite some time over rough and discouraging terrain. But after the simulation was over, the young men ran to help again, and the women’s pull was over.

The words “It’s complete” returned to my mind as I heard their stories, and I felt assurance again that things in my life really were finally transforming.  I didn’t need the changes to all be immediate, after all, I still expected that there were a few more lessons I needed to learn before I could “graduate”, but the path was laid before us and we both knew it was good.

It’s nearly 3 am again – I’m eager to share what those extra lessons turned out to be, and you’re probably wondering, “so, what about the debts?” or “what are you going to do with your business now?” but I’ll have to save those details for next time.

If this exposé is helping you at all, please comment below. It helps me feel like all our drama (or trauma) wasn’t all for naught. 🙂

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It’s Happy Mother’s Day, So you Have to Be Happy

Psalms 127:3-5 “Children are an heritage of the Lord… Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

I was the youngest of four children so there was never a baby sibling for me to tend. My family moved to Asia for a few years and because of our sheltered expatriate experience, I only had the opportunity to baby sit once until we returned to the States.

Unfortunately, by the time we settled in to our new home, I had lost interest and can count on one hand all the times I was employed to watch someone else’s children.

Nevertheless, I still looked forward to motherhood. I knew that, according to all my church lessons growing up, I would find my greatest joys in raising a family.

I married when I was twenty and had my first baby when I was twenty-one. We weren’t fortunate enough to have immediate family close by, so we navigated the jungles of our new parenthood pretty much on our own. I never realized it could be so tough.

Naturally, I had a hard time adjusting to the demands of caring for a new baby; after all, I had scarcely ever cared for a toddler. I’m convinced that there was never a person more UNprepared for motherhood as I. Never had I been required to think more of someone else’s needs than my own for such an extended (um…eternal) period of time. I was overwhelmed and felt as though I was losing my identity.

Ironically, I got pretty good at handling one child just in time for a second one to arrive. It seemed that as our family grew, I learned to manage the number of children I had, just as our numbers increased again by one. With the arrival of a new baby, life was back to mayhem all over again for approximately two years until I learned to handle the new responsibility of yet another child.

For any woman who has reared at least one child, or who has ever babysat a handful of active youngsters, she knows that getting six children ready for church in the morning could be a real challenge; especially when all but the baby are still in Primary.

One morning was particularly frustrating because it was Mother’s Day and I wasn’t feeling very good about how the day was going. I tried not to expect too much special treatment, just in case it didn’t happen. After all, I knew that the children were too young to understand that I honestly didn’t want a picture for the fridge or a weed-flower from the yard; all I wanted was for them to do the things they were supposed to do, without my nagging. For Mother’s Day, couldn’t the house be orderly and the dishes done and breakfast made without me, for one measley day out of the year?

I’m sure my husband made breakfast and did his best to make the morning special. But in spite of it all, I found myself having a pity party that things weren’t absolutely perfect, nor would they ever be. To think that this was just the way it was going to be, probably FOREVER, was terribly discouraging and I moped around, banging cupboard doors and griping at anyone in my path.

Somehow we managed to get everyone out the door and in the car for church, probably ten minutes behind our preferred departure time. I breathed deeply, trying to shake the negativity and prepare myself for sacrament meeting.

Then there came a little four year-old voice from behind. Everyone had been pretty silent, trying not to set me off further, so this tender voice was clearly heard by everyone in the car.

“It’s Happy Mother’s day, Mom… so… you have to be happy.”

I smiled, looked at my husband, and we both started to chuckle. Then my tears flowed.

So it was. It was Happy Mother’s day, and here I was a mother. By mere virtue of
the calling, I should be happy. Hearing my son’s hopeful reminder instantly softened my heart and I finally began once again to feel the joy which was always meant to accompany my role. Happiness was not meant to come through having a perfectly orderly home, at least during the early years. I was reminded of a wooden sign in a friend’s home which said, “Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing” (Author unknown).

Another reminder comes from this wonderful poem:

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,Lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peek-a-boo
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby lullaby loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
– Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Joy does not come from an orderly home so much as it should come through the sweet and tender relationships with my family members. Through my little boy’s words, I was reminded that motherhood is truly synonymous with happiness, when I am able to just relax and take time to smell their precious gifts of Mother’s Day flowers and enjoy their homemade pictures on the fridge.

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Do the Challenges Ever Stop?

Positive Thinking Tip: When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.

It’s thrilling to discover the principles of prosperity, and it’s especially exciting when you see them work for the first time.

From there, you feel empowered and encouraged to think bigger and test the principles on more significant tasks. But when you face a setback, you might be left wondering, “What just happened here? I thought that if I just live the principles perfectly, the rest of my life would be easy!”

I have an answer for this, and I hope it doesn’t burst anyone’s bubble too much… but we were placed on this earth to grow.

All life is compelled to grow and expand. That is one of the definitions that helps us determine whether something is alive: does it grow?

In order for us to grow, we must have challenges that stretch us beyond our present limits. We must work our mental muscles and exercise our mind, body, and spirit in order to have the joy and experience the success that only comes through growth and expansion. There are few joys that exceed the feeling of facing a difficult challenge, and overcoming it.

The truth is, that if we ever found ourselves without challenges, we would become unhappy and restless.

Remember when you were a child, and your mother tried to teach you how to tie your shoe?

Did it work the first time you tried it? Probably not. And it was probably very frustrating, and likely evoked some tears.

In that moment, there had never been so great a challenge in your life. You wanted to throw in the towel, give up, and if it didn’t make you cry, it probably made you growl in frustration. However, in time, it became old hat for you and you could do it without even thinking.

Then when you were in sixth grade, your teacher probably assigned you a book report that would take several weeks and had to fill up about 4 pages. You had never done an assignment that big before, and it was overwhelming. In time, and after being required to do a number of similar assignments, it was no big deal. What took several weeks could be completed in a day, because you had experience.

Fast forward to college.

Remember those projects that ultimately determined your final grade? Remember the countless hours on the computer? Remember closing off your social life in order to meet that deadline? It was overwhelming, and the stress was unbelieveable. You had never been required to work so hard on something so important! If you were like me, you shed many tears and begged your professor more than once for mercy.

Then for some of you, you started in the work force and had job pressures and bills to pay. Sometimes it was too much to bear. You thought you had it pretty tough until…

You got married and added a spouse to the picture.

Now there were work pressures, bills to pay, and a spouse to please. Who knew that being responsible to one other person could stir things up that much?

Pretty soon, you got into the routine of things, and even though things are tough, you have no idea what tough means until…

You start having children.

Are there words to describe how complicated things became when kids entered the picture??

Now wait a minute… think back to the time when you were learning to tie your shoe. Oh, if only life were that easy now!!!

But remember, at the time, when you were six and you had to figure out how to pull the string just enough to make a loop and not enough to make a knot, it was as though the world was falling apart and it was nearly more than you could cope with.

One day, today’s challenges will look like child’s play as you learn to conquer them.

All that I do through my books and programs is to provide the tools you need to learn how to succeed in overcoming the challenges you face today. Will challenges in general go away? No.

But you’ll be prepared to handle bigger challenges, and you’ll grow in faith, hopefully learning to rely more perfectly on God in all you do.

It seems that life will only get more challenging.

WAIT!

I didn’t say life has to get worse… or even harder, but it will constantly deliver more and more ADVANCED challenges.

As we learn the laws and adopt them into our habits, we become successful at overcoming them more and more gracefully. Every challenge could easily seem overwhelming… but only relative to what we’ve conquered in the past.

Challenges are important because they help us build confidence.

Imagine a child who never gained confidence in learning something simple… what if they were required to hold office as president of a large organization! Each challenge is intended to lead us along to receive all that God would have us receive. Each is an opportunity to overcome and gain increased confidence in the partnership we are developing between ourselves and God.

You can get good at handling finances and attracting wealth. Learning to achieve prosperity is a skill that can be improved. Just as you got good at tying a shoe, this is one skill that can become a strength.

Don’t get discouraged if new challenges show up. It doesn’t mean you are failing. It means you have grown to a point where God believes you can handle something else. It is an indication of His increased faith in you.

I heard somewhere, “When you are down to nothing, God is up to something”. There is joy to be had in the struggle. As we learn to find peace in each whirlwind of trouble around us, that is success. Then, the prosperity you want begins to flow naturally.

Seek peace and prosperity comes, seek prosperity and peace flees.

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Is Absent-Mindedness Affecting Your Success?

Positive Thinking Tip: De-clutter your life and you’ll more easily recognize the subtle, inspired indicators that will lead you to success

A couple years ago, my husband and I took our seven children to a neighboring state for a read-a-thon. On the way home, we stopped half-way and stayed with my sister for a night to break up the trip. The next morning, in our rush to be on the road again, we gathered our blankets and pillows, said our goodbyes, and loaded the van. My husband was at the wheel and I glanced back to ask the kids, “We got everybody?”

Nobody indicated otherwise, so I said, “Great!”

We had just begun to roll down the road when I looked back again and noticed my 15-year old missing.

Oh, no, I thought, not Nathan! He’s the one we forgot last time!

So I exclaimed, “Hurry! Back up and I’ll run in before he realizes we almost forgot him again!”

Within a minute I was back inside the house.  Hearing Nathan upstairs, I exhaled a sigh of relief. Whew! He didn’t notice.

My sister’s husband had a questioning look on his face, so I just said quietly, “We forgot Nathan… don’t say anything.”

Soon after, Nathan opened the door so I hollered nonchalantly, “Nathan… time to go!”

He ran downstairs, said his goodbyes and we climbed in the van. Just as we were getting ready to pull away, someone in the back said, “Where’s Nicholas?”

We gasped.  How did we miss Nicholas?

So I asked, “Nathan, will you go find Nicholas?”

“Sure.” Nathan said, and then ran to the house.

Pretty soon, out came – not Nathan – but my brother-in-law. Standing there in his robe with his hands out and eyes wide, he gestured, “What the –?”

Chuckling, we watched him disappear back into the home. Then suddenly, he stepped into the doorway again with a look of utter disbelief, and three fingers held high.

What’s that supposed to mean? We wondered.

Just then, Nathan emerged from the house with Nicholas…

…AND Bethany.

Okay, in my defense, I will say that we were driving a 15 passenger van full of blankets, pillows, and backpacks. Most of the time, you can’t see everyone in their seats even when they ARE there. When you rely on one child to let you know that their buddy is missing, but that child is missing, too… well, you see what can happen.

Did you know you can leave three children behind and not even realize it?

I do now.

It reminded me of the family who stopped at a gas station during a long road trip, and then hours later realized that the mother had left her prescription glasses there. Regretfully, they had to turn around and go back for them, costing them in a lot of extra time and gas.  When they arrived, they discovered their son waiting, too.

This kind of absent mindedness can get really expensive in terms of time, resources, and most importantly, damaged relationships.

I my case, I thought we were ready to go, but I was wrong. The added clutter in the van, and my hastiness, distracted me from the indicators (empty seats) that would have told us exactly what we needed to do next (find our children), before driving away. Had we proceeded anyway, without fixing the immediate problem, it could have cost us in extra time, gas, and again, most importantly, potentially damaged relationships.

So how can we avoid absent-mindedness?  Maybe it’s just a matter of addressing the clutter. Too much clutter in life can distract us from subtle indicators that would clearly tell us exactly what we really need to do next on our journey to the desired goal.

What are you trying to accomplish?

  • Financial freedom?
  • Stronger family relationships?
  • Better health?
  • Peace of mind?
  • A sense of fulfillment?

It could be that there’s something critical you aren’t even thinking about… something urgent and important that you must do first.

If life’s clutter is keeping you from recognizing it, then there may come a day when you have to turn around and go all the way back to this place to fix what was neglected right now. There are subtle indicators ready to get your attention, but you may need to slow down and clear up some clutter before you’ll notice them.

So… what kind of “clutter” can become a distraction from the subtle indicators?

“Clutter” might include:

  • Too many unnecessary activities filling your day (life is short – be selective about how you spend your time!)
  • Too many unnecessary things laying around your home or office (things were created to be utilized, to benefit people – if you no longer benefit from possessing an object, transfer it to someone who will put it to use.)
  • Too many meaningless conversations (do your discussions center on the topic of things, other people, or uplifting ideas?)
  • Too many meaningless non-family relationships (is there a positive exchange of service, knowledge, or value taking place… or not?)

If you get caught up in the clutter and miss the subtle (but otherwise oh-so-obvious) indicators that something else is an urgent priority (like a child left behind), at some point you may have to go back and make things right before you can arrive at your desired destination with all the right parts and pieces in tact.

So this is my invitation to you: take inventory of your life. Where are you trying to go?

Do your activities, conversations, things, and non-family relationships, truly make the necessary contribution to your journey? Clear what you can, and then take a look around. You might find a gaping hole right under your nose that requires your immediate attention now. Address it now, and you’ll get to your destination successfully a whole lot faster.

(And, if you’ve ever lost track of a child as we have, don’t feel too bad… it even happened to some of the most famous and well-respected parents in history: Joseph and Mary, when Jesus was 12, two thousand years ago.)

To your success!

Leslie

PS. Be sure to check out the FTMF course. It will help you more than you realize.

“I just wanted to say THANK YOU!  I took your FTMF course and it changed my LIFE! I would not be where I am today without the guidance of someone helping me to learn how THINK correctly.  I feel like my world completely changed after I took your course.” – unsolicited email

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Your Reticular Activating System and a Tranquilizer Gun

Positive Thinking Tip: What you want/need may not be as far away as you think it is

One morning, my husband and I slept in a bit, because the day before had been so jam-packed with preparations for an event we were conducting.

Still tired, rather than rolling out of bed, we both just grabbed our laptops and got back to work in our pajamas: I kept preparing files for the printer, and Trevan continued to troubleshoot some bugs in our online systems.

Pretty soon, our daughters Bethany (7) and Sarah (4) wanted to come in, so we invited them to use the master bath where they could be near us and play with their toys in the water.

As they played, their giggles grew louder and their role-playing became more melodramatic until finally my husband had to say, “Hey girls, I realize this this is a play area for you, but it’s a work area for us.  We need you to settle down!”

Bethany obediently responded with, “O-kaay.”

Sarah’s response was a bit more authentic.  She explained, “But we’re having a lot of fun…”

We chuckled to ourselves and got back to task.  Sarah has always been so incredibly quotable.

Time flew.  Before we knew it, the girls had been in the water for more than two hours, singing, giggling, and playing with their toys.  Again the volume became too much, and this time it was me who said, “Okay girls, time to get out!”

So Bethany got out of the water and went downstairs.  Lingering behind, Sarah finally said, “Mom, could I just please stay a little longer?”

I said, “Well, you’re being really quiet now… so, okay, just a little longer.”

Pretty soon I could hear Sarah singing to herself and role-playing independently with her toys.  It was so sweet, hearing her talk about princesses and mommies and singing away.  It didn’t bother me – I hardly noticed it.  I was able to keep working on my files and sort of enjoyed the cute little munchkin voice in the background.

Then, apparently exasperated beyond what he could tolerate, my husband suddenly exclaimed, “Argh! I need a tranquilizer gun!”

Stunned by his comment, I turned my head and glared at him, wide eyed.  After a long pause, and assuming he was just trying to be funny with a really bad joke, (and to make my point without chastising him too bluntly) I matched his comment with these equally tasteless words: “Don’t… you think… we would need to… at least… drain the water… first??”

He looked at me confused, and then finally the lights went on. He insisted with just as much shock in his voice, “I was talking about the dogs!”

Dogs? What dogs?

That’s when I finally noticed them.  There were quite a few still barking incessantly outside our back window, and he had had it.  He had been trying so hard to keep from losing his train of thought while solving a really tough dilemma, so cracking a joke about a tranquilizer gun was his best attempt at channeling his frustration energy into humor.

What he didn’t realize was that his comment was actually funnier than he  intended.  Once he realized how it sounded to me, we both erupted into laughter and continued to laugh out loud whenever we thought about it.

Isn’t it interesting… how our minds had been focused on our work, and subconsciously, I was enjoying the playful sounds of a 4 year-old in the background, while my husband was becoming increasingly annoyed by the barking of the dogs in the background?

Same environment, two completely different experiences.

When your brain hones in on certain data input from your environment instead of some other kind of available data, that’s a function of your brain’s Reticular Activating System.  The “RAS” draws from past experiences, calculates the amount and intensity of emotion that you have added to those experiences, and sees to it that you notice the elements in your environment that correspond to those dominant thoughts and feelings.

The point of this story is that there is always more going on in your environment than you are noticing.  When you’ve set your goals properly (according to the principles of success), your Reticular Activating System becomes a great friend.

It goes to work for you, helping you notice and pay attention to the resources you need to be able to accomplish your goal.

The resources you need are already in your immediate surroundings; your Reticular Activating System helps you recognize them.

Sadly, those resources can remain unnoticed your whole life (completely within reach, but never utilized) when you don’t set and carry out your goals properly.

That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I teach.

So, don’t just stop with this article, keep reading all the tips and tools I’ve created for you, so that the gaps in your understanding can be filled, and you can come away ready to change your life, equipped with confidence, and empowered to discover and implement every next genius idea you’ll ever need.

If you’ve already read The Jackrabbit Factor, then it’s time to join me in the FTMF course. Learn more about it at http://www.prosperthefamily.com or watch this video.

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