Islands of Faith: A Story of Diligence

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only by regularly adding to their island can the Coila family keep from sinking.

Nelson and Dora Coila live on an island—not a typical island made of solid rock jutting up from an ocean or lake—but a tiny island they made themselves of nothing more than floating reeds on Lake Titicaca in Peru.

Building an island and making it your home takes faith. Only about four feet (1.2 m) of layered reeds suspends their family and the dozen or so huts on their island above the 50-degree (10°C) water, and the elements continually threaten to literally disintegrate their island home.

But for Nelson and Dora, their island represents physically what they are trying to build spiritually for their family: an island of faith that will hold together against the world.

What they have learned in the process is that the faith to build must always be followed by the diligence to maintain.

The Reason for Consistency

For the Uros people, who have built and lived on these islands for generations, the totora reed is an essential part of daily living. The reed, which grows in the shallows of Lake Titicaca, can be used as fuel for cooking fires. Its root can be eaten. Its husk can be used for medicinal purposes. And, of course, almost everything is made with the reed: their dwellings, their traditional boats, their watchtowers, the islands themselves, even their trash baskets.

The Uros build the islands by laying down layer upon layer of reeds. But as building materials go, totora reeds don’t last long. The sun dries them out during the dry season. Moisture during the rainy season hastens their decay. And the submersed bottom layers gradually decompose. The continual erosion of the Coilas’ island means that Nelson has to put down a new layer of reeds every 10 to 15 days.

“Building the island was just the start,” he says. “If I stop adding reeds, the island will slowly fall apart. But the more layers I put on, the stronger the island gets over time.”

The Danger of Procrastination

Adding a layer of reeds is not complex or difficult, but it is work. Delaying it would be easy.

Procrastination, however, increases the risk of a family member putting a foot through a weak spot and ending up in cold water. That can be little more than a nuisance for adults, but it’s potentially deadly for little children such as the Coilas’ two-year-old son, Emerson.

So Nelson adds a layer of reeds today, knowing that the safety of each family member depends on it tomorrow.

It’s a lesson about diligence that has made a difference in the Coilas’ lives.

The Effects of Diligence

Diligence is persisting in doing something in spite of opposition.1 Dora first learned how important—and how difficult—diligence can be after she was baptized in 1998.

When Dora was 17, she and her younger sister Alicia were baptized—helping lead to the growth of the Church in the islands of the Uros. About a month later, however, their father forbade them from having anything to do with the Church.

But something odd happened to the girls. They were suddenly less pleasant to be around and more likely to argue. Their father realized that during the time they were participating in Church activities, they had changed for the better.

“It changed his mind,” Dora says. “He began waking us up early to make sure we got to church on time.”

Dora attributes the change the gospel made in their lives to small things she and Alicia did regularly, like paying tithing, praying, studying the scriptures, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and renewing their covenants weekly by taking the sacrament.

Later, having seen for himself the changes that come from faith and diligence,2 Dora’s father joined the Church along with the rest of the family.

The Rewards of Diligence

Persisting in doing what is right—in spite of opposition—is required of the Lord’s covenant people. However, the Lord promises great blessings to those who are diligent in prayer,3 in keeping the commandments,4 in heeding revelation,5 in searching the scriptures,6 and in laboring in His work.7

Through the Coilas’ experiences in maintaining their island of faith both literally and figuratively, they have found the rewards of diligence to be real. “Sometimes we get suffocated by the daily routine of working, cooking, and so forth,” says Nelson. “When we forget God, things get complicated. There are more problems, and things begin to fall apart.”

Nelson pauses to gesture toward a new layer of reeds he put down that morning. “If we are constant,” he says, “if we pray, study, fast, and hold family home evening regularly, we are going to become stronger.”

This articles was written by Adam C. Olson and is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/liahona/2011/07/islands-of-faith-a-story-of-diligence?lang=eng

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He That is Greatest Among You…Giving Service

He that is Greatest among you shall be your Servant Matthew 23:11When I think of the Savior of us all, I think of all his abilities, all of his intelligence and all of his service.

His, was an amazing example of the one with the most serving those with the least.

Having had a near-death experience, I know like few others do, the total and complete perfection of our Savior. I know that he could have delivered himself out of the hands of his persecutors and yet he didn’t. Mortality makes it really difficult for most of us to comprehend just how much has been done for us through the atonement of Jesus Christ and his perfection.

Ego, desire for power and selfishness distance us from our Savior and our Creator. I know how much they love us. I also know that overcoming the “man” in ourselves results in priceless joy.

We may have power, prestige, and possessions but if we don’t know how to love or care or serve, life is truly empty and void of joy.

I love today’s story. I believe it is a great reminder to us all that service can come from anywhere at any time – and that service is a priceless gift to both the giver and the receiver! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Today You, Tomorrow Me

During this past year I’ve had three instances of car trouble: a blowout on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out-of-gas situation. They all happened while I was driving other people’s cars, which for some reason makes it worse on an emotional level. And on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my own car, and know enough not to park on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out “for safety reasons,” but that I could buy a really crappy one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like “this country is going to hell in a hand basket,” which I actually said.

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English.

One of those guys stopped to help me with the blowout even though he had his whole family of four in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep. I put signs in the windows, big signs that said, “NEED A JACK,” and offered money. Nothing. Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a van pulled over, and the guy bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English. He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it. Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off.

No worries: he ran to the van and handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a new tire iron. She was back in 15 minutes. We finished the job with a little sweat and cussing (the log started to give), and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty. His wife produced a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I’d send them a gift for being so awesome. She said they lived in Mexico. They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks. Then they were going to pick peaches, then go back home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the Jeep, the girl called out and asked if I’d had lunch. When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

This family, undoubtedly poorer than just about everyone else on that stretch of highway, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took a couple of hours out of their day to help a strange guy on the side of the road while people in tow trucks were just passing him by.

But we weren’t done yet. I thanked them again and walked back to my car and opened the foil on the tamale (I was starving by this point), and what did I find inside? My $20 bill! I whirled around and ran to the van and the guy rolled down his window. He saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no. All I could think to say was, “Por favor, por favor, por favor,” with my hands out. The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: “Today you, tomorrow me.”

Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it.

In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank.

Originally by Justin Horner, posted Mar 10, 2011 [From a post on reddit.com and re-published in NY Times.]

Story shared from the following website: http://www.kindspring.org/story/view.php?sid=25237

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The Two Saplings – A Story About How to Maximise Personal Growth

Even the tallest mountain is conquered one step at a time

An eight-year-old boy went to his grandfather and proudly announced, “I am going to be very successful when I grow up.  Can you give me any tips on how to get there?”

The grandfather nodded, and without saying a word, took the boy by the hand and walked him to a nearby plant nursery.

There, the two of them chose and purchased two small saplings.

They returned home and planted one of them in the back yard.

The other sapling was placed in a pot and kept indoors.

“Which one do you think will be the most successful in the future?” asked the grandfather.

The boy thought for a moment and said, “The indoor tree.  It’s protected and safe while the outdoor one has to cope with the elements.”

The grandfather shrugged his shoulders and said, “We’ll see.”

The grandfather carefully tended to both plants and in a few years, the boy, now a teenager came to visit again.

“You never really answered my question from when I was a young boy.  How can I become successful when I grow up?”  he asked.

The old man showed the teenager the indoor tree and then took him outside to have a look at the towering tree outside.

“Which one is greater?” the grandfather asked.

“The outside one.  But that doesn’t make sense, it has to cope with many more challenges than the inside one.”

The grandfather smiled, “Yes, but the risk of dealing with challenges is worth it as it has the freedom to spread its roots wider and its leaves towards the heavens.  Boy, remember this and you be successful in whatever you do; If you choose the safe option all of your life you will never grow and be all that you can be, but if you are willing to face the world head-on with all of its dangers and challenges, the sky’s the limit.”

The young man looked up at the tall tree, took a deep breath and nodded his head, knowing that his wise grandfather was right.

The same is true for all of us.

If you choose the safe, well-worn path, then a life of mediocrity awaits.

But if you have the courage and capacity to live in the elements, you give yourself a great chance of reaching your full potential and being successful in your chosen field of endeavour.

God created trees to grow outside.

He created people to live lives of significance.

So let me ask you, are you an indoor tree or an outdoor one?

Today’s story was shared by Darren Poke and is shared from the following website: https://betterlifecoachingblog.com/2013/03/08/the-two-saplings-a-story-about-how-to-maximise-personal-growth/

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How To Use The Power of Gratitude; An Easy Way To Feel Happier Everyday

Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy Fred DeWitt Van Amburgh

In my book Nothing Changes Until You Do, I tell the story of a simple but powerful conversation I had with a cabdriver a few years back that had a profound impact on me. I was in Houston, Texas, on my way back to the airport to fly home after speaking at a conference. The driver and I began talking. He had a beautiful accent. Based on how he looked and sounded, I assumed he was from somewhere in Africa, but I couldn’t tell exactly where. It didn’t come up in what we were talking about, so I didn’t ask.

Right before we got to the airport, however, there was a pause in our conversation, so I inquired, “By the way, where are you from originally?”

“I’m from Ethiopia,” he said. He then proudly stated, “I’ve been here in the U.S. for twenty years. I’m an American citizen now; so are both of my boys and my wife.”

I’m not exactly sure what prompted me, but I then asked him, “What’s your perspective on American culture, given that you didn’t grow up here?”

At first he didn’t say anything, and I thought maybe I had offended him. We were just arriving at the airport. He pulled up to the curb, put the cab in park, turned around, and looked me right in the eye.

“Can I be honest with you?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“Well,” he said, “I think most people in this culture act like spoiled brats.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Look, I’m from Ethiopia,” he said. “Every day here is a good day.”

I was taken aback by the simplicity, wisdom, and power of his statement. And, I was grateful for the reminder.

Gratitude is a Practice, Not A Concept
I’ve been speaking and writing about gratitude for many years, and I’m still amazed at how challenging it can be to focus on what I’m grateful for at times. We live in a culture that has an obsession with negativity, and it’s easy for us to get caught up in how “bad” things are, as well as in our own personal and insatiable desire for more, thinking that what we have and how things are in our own lives is never quite good enough. However, regardless of the specific circumstances of our lives, even and especially when they’re difficult, if we stop, pay attention, and look for it, there are always so many things we can be grateful for—if we choose to be. Gratitude is a practice, not a concept. And, like any other practice, the more genuine and consistent we are with it, the more valuable and beneficial it is.

Most of us, especially those of us on a path of personal growth and discovery, know that gratitude is important. We’ve heard about it, read about it, and been taught about it for years. In the mid 1990s a wonderful book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach came out. Sarah was a featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Oprah talked about how Sarah’s suggestion to keep a daily gratitude journal—to write down five things each day that you’re grateful for—had a profound impact on her life. Oprah became a passionate advocate for the power of gratitude and since that time has continued to encourage millions of people around the world to keep their own gratitude journals.

Create A Gratitude Journal
Like so many other people, I took Oprah’s advice and started my own journal many years ago. I found it to be fun, inspiring, and empowering to look for, find, and write down things I was grateful for. When I started speaking, coaching, and writing, much of my work focused on gratitude and appreciation. The technique of the gratitude journal was something I often suggested to people. However, over time it became one of the many things that I “know” and even “teach,” but had stopped practicing consistently in my own life.

A few years back, as a New Year’s resolution, I recommitted myself to the practice of my gratitude journal. I bought a new, beautiful journal and decided I was going to start using it. It took me a little while to get back into the practice of writing in it consistently, but once I was in the swing of it, it was pretty easy. Later that year I had a few months where things were going really well in many important areas of my life. As I sat down to write in my gratitude journal one morning, I decided to look back at some of the things I’d written over the past few months.

As I turned the pages, I realized that I hadn’t missed a day of writing in over three months. I was amazed. It was less about the consistency of my writing, and more about the consistency of my excitement to do this exercise and the benefits I got from it. Things were going so well in my life, and the positive turns seemed to be directly connected to my use of the gratitude journal. I said to my wife, Michelle, “I’m not sure if things are going so well because I’m writing in my gratitude journal every day, or I’m excited to write in my gratitude journal every day because things are going so well. I bet it’s a combination of both. At some level, I don’t really care—I’m just grateful for how things are going and for my journaling practice.”

The way gratitude works is that the more we focus on feeling grateful, the more we have to feel grateful for. And while many of us have experienced this personally, recent scientific studies have concluded that gratitude can have significantly positive effects on our health, our moods, our productivity, and our relationships.

In one specific study, conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, participants were given one of three tasks. Each week, they kept a short journal. One group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another was asked to record five hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they weren’t told whether to focus on something positive or negative specifically.

Ten weeks later, the people in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole, plus they reported fewer health complaints, and exercised more.

Like many other things in life that we know are good for us (exercise, eating healthy, sleeping enough, drinking lots of water, telling the truth, and so on), it’s not the knowledge that will benefit us; it’s the practice. The amazing thing about gratitude is that there’s no “right” way to practice being grateful. Whether you choose to keep a journal, thank the people around you, use positive affirmations, ask other people what they’re grateful for (one of my favorites), focus on gratitude in your quiet time of prayer or meditation, or simply remind yourself to slow down and breathe—taking time to focus on what we’re grateful for is one of the easiest and most effective ways to empower ourselves, calm ourselves down, and remember what matters most in life.

Today’s article was written by Mike Robbins and is shared from the following website: https://www.healyourlife.com/how-to-use-the-power-of-gratitude

 

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6 Steps to Change Your Life

Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out

It Only Takes 6 Steps to Change Your Life

Don’t get stuck in the same old average routine. Here’s how to start the domino effect of change.

Hope is the foundational principle for all change. People change because they have hope, and if people do not have hope, they will not change. You are responsible for the changes that you make in your life.

The good news? You can change your life if you really want to. You can improve it, make it better. And it all starts with changing the way you think. So are you ready? I am going to walk you through a six-step plan for achieving positive change.

Here’s how you give yourself a little hope:

Step 1: When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs.

Change begins with the mind. Beliefs are nothing more than a byproduct of what you have thought about long enough, something that you have bought into—always remember that. What you believe, what you think, is just a collection of continual thoughts that have formed themselves into a conviction. When you break down the process of thinking into a manageable number of steps, you reduce the perceived risk associated with change.

Step 2: When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations.

Belief is the knowledge that we can do something. It is the inner feeling that what we undertake, we can accomplish. For the most part, all of us have the ability to look at something and know whether we can do it. So in belief there is power… our eyes are opened, our opportunities become plain, our visions become realities. Our beliefs control everything we do. If we believe we can or we believe we cannot, we are correct.

Step 3: When you change your expectations, you change your attitude.

Your expectations are going to determine your attitude. Most people get used to average; they get used to second best. Nelson Boswell said, “The first and most important step toward success is the expectation that we can succeed.”

Step 4: When you change your attitude, you change your behavior.

When our attitude begins to change, when we become involved with something, our behavior begins to change. The reason that we have to make personal changes is that we cannot take our people on a trip that we have not made.

Step 5: When you change your behavior, you change your performance.

Most people would rather live with old problems than new solutions. We would rather be comfortable than correct; we would rather stay in a routine than make changes. Even when we know that the changes are going to be better for us, we often don’t make them because we feel uncomfortable or awkward about making that kind of a change. Until we get courage and get used to living with something that is not comfortable, we cannot get any better.

Step 6: When you change your performance, you change your life.

It is easier to turn failure into success than an excuse into a possibility. A person can fail, turn around and understand their failure to make it a success. But I want to tell you, a person who makes excuses for everything will never truly succeed. Don’t you know some people who just have an excuse for everything? Why they could not, should not, did not, would not, have not, will not. I promise you, when you excuse what you are doing and excuse where you are, and you allow the exceptions, you fail to reach your potential. It is impossible to turn excuses into possibilities.

Today’s article was written by John C. Maxwell and is shared from the following website: https://www.success.com/article/john-c-maxwell-it-only-takes-6-steps-to-change-your-life

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