Many summers ago, during a family trip, we decided to throw together some free presentations along the way. I had so much fun doing them because I had intentionally left my suits at home, kept my hair in a ponytail, and said, “Not this time,” to the stuffy protocol of putting on a “professionally impressive, Toastmaster-approved event.”
I didn’t break my neck making sure everything was perfect; after all, we were on VACATION. Some of you may have seen the one I did the following year, because we made it available online (free) here: Stickman Video.
After rolling into town and unloading our things at the hotel, I had just enough time to brush my teeth and throw some makeup on in the restroom before racing into the event where about 80 of you waited. In the last moment before meeting you and beginning the presentation, some foundation came flying off my finger and dripped down the front of my sweater. I knew that nothing I had was going to remove it, so I wiped it off the best I could, shook my head, and thought, “This will just have to do,” knowing I needed to press on, even if things weren’t perfect.
When you’ve got something to do, you just can’t stop when everything isn’t “just so.” You do the best you can and let it go.
My children helped us set up the room that night. They had a ball doing it, too: running up and down the aisles, and since there wasn’t anything breakable in sight, I was happy, too. After setup, most of the kids wanted to go play at our host’s home, but (then) 9 year-old Kayli wanted to stay. She had brought a stack of homemade bookmarks in hopes some of the participants would want some before the evening was over. One older brother chided her, saying, “That’s so dumb, it’s just paper. Nobody’s going to want them.” But she wasn’t dissuaded.
In fact, she sat quietly through two of our events that week, and by the end of the week she had earned $150 selling “just paper.”
Those of you who were at the events were so gracious and encouraging. I know that your encouragement of this little girl will return to you in one form or another, if it hasn’t already.
Nine years later, at the recommendation of a friend, my daughter traveled three hours from home to see Drew Christensen for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, in preparation to serve a mission for our church. After her visit, and to our shock, he sent us the following pictures:
Unbeknownst to us, he had already met her in Idaho back when she was nine, and had bought one of her bookmarks while attending one of our events nearly a decade earlier. Crazy, right? I couldn’t make this stuff up. Doesn’t that sound something like what would have happened in the book, Portal to Genius??
Anyway, back to the events of 2007…
Fast forward seven months. After those events, Kayli hung on to nearly every penny she earned. She payed 10% to charity, and with the remainder, she spent $60 on a box of little canvas bags from Uline.com. Originally she intended to create little bags of homemade cookie-dough mixes to put in a few local boutiques, or to sell online. But when the bags arrived, we realized that they just weren’t big enough to fit a batch of cookie dough.
At Christmastime, a friend suggested we make gift bags, but we didn’t have time to develop the idea before Christmas had come and gone. But by the time Valentine’s Day was on the horizon, she was ready. Spending the rest of her money on supplies, she put together the Valentine’s day bags that we mentioned in one of our last emails, and created 10 to sell.
Her brother again made a cutting remark, which hurt her feelings, but it didn’t stop her. Admittedly, I had a ton of other things to be doing, but she had been so persistent with me that I couldn’t refuse her any longer. I dropped everything to take her to the craft store for the rocks, iron-ons, candy, and miniatures. I helped her figure out a good way to assemble them. I created a newsletter announcing them, and we took pictures to include in the announcement:
She sold out of her 10 bags within a day or two. I initially thought that I’d better get onto the website and post “Sold Out.” After all, she had accomplished her goal and was excited that it had all happened so fast. But then I had that second (less convenient) thought that said, “Why not keep going?”
So I dropped everything again and we traipsed all over town looking for all the components to make more, so we could fill the orders that continued to roll in. We cleaned out 3 different Michael’s Craft Stores of heart iron-ons and miniature stuffed puppies. She was on Cloud Nine. When it was all over, she had recouped her entire investment and, in fact doubled it.
Then, her brother came to me and said, “Mom, I want to make something…”
So maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, well any kid could do that if they had a Mom with a website.” But before you go there, let me make a point:
I had seven children. I had a website and a newsletter. The opportunity was there for every one of them… but only ONE (to that point) had ever done anything about it.
Life is like that:
We are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us (and we love Him!), a Father who has the most expansive distribution network in the Universe. We all have something to offer, and if we bring it to the table with the right mindset: one of expectancy, persistence and determination, then when we are really ready, I envision God smiling kindly, putting his work down, and taking us under his wing to help us accomplish the thing that we are determined to accomplish.
In those early days, my kids would beg for this or that, wish for that or this, and quite regularly whine when things weren’t just so… but once in a while, one of them would step forward with a determination to get the help they needed to accomplish something that they couldn’t completely do on their own, refusing to put it off any longer. They demonstrated a resolved intention to GET IT DONE, whatever it took. Right or wrong, that was the child who finally got my undivided attention and help with their project.
I’ve learned a lot watching my daughter take initiative. She maybe didn’t know WHAT to do, but she was definitely locked on to the vision of what the results would be, and she knew that with my help she could accomplish anything.
What about you?
If you could have God’s help with something THIS WEEK, what would you have Him help you do? Are you clear on what it is? Are you determined to do everything in your power to make it happen? Are you willing to pray like it depends on Him but work like it depends on you?
Let’s practice operating this week with resolved intention. Decide first what you want to accomplish, and then get behind it 100%. Give it all you’ve got, and envision God helping you as a loving parent who can no longer ignore your requests because you’re showing up as a determined, persistent, willing and teachable child. Don’t hold back. Throw your heart into it, trust God to provide, and watch a miracle unfold. Originally published Feb 18, 2008
Here’s Kayli all grown up: