Yesterday we spent the day working with our kids. We had to finish getting the last of our woodshed filled before winter. We have been cutting down the dead spruce trees on the driveway to our house and to my mother-in-laws house. We have had several fires in recent years near our home, and the dead spruce creates hot, fast burning fires, that are hard to stop. So we cut it down and use it for firewood. We have also been trying to get the trees along the road that have the most potential of falling across the road in the winter.

All of our kids who are home on the day of wood cutting get to help. It’s help or your don’t stay warm in the winter. It’s not a matter of want to, or not want to. It’s a matter of – it needs to be done. Our only heat source is wood, so do it or freeze is where we are at. We cut the wood into 4 foot lengths, and the trees are usually no more than 12 inches in diameter, usually around 6-8 inches for the majority of the length of the tree. We don’t need to split it because it’s been dead long enough that it’s completely dry, and 4 foot lengths fit perfectly into our boiler, but they are also kind of heavy. As I watched the kids get to work, there was only a bit of grumbling when they were getting ready to walk out the door. My husband’s goal was 2 loads to finish off the year, and each load takes about 2 1/2 hours to complete.

Once they get to work, they don’t complain, and they usually finish feeling like they have accomplished something. It’s amazing how watching the woodshed fill up to the top makes you realize the benefit of a job well done. They don’t need anyone telling them it’s a job well done either, they can see it as they stack it up. But, as I was watching them yesterday I wondered how many of the other teens their ages were working that day. It was Saturday after all, and many of them don’t have jobs to go to. How do they spend their time? Would they last through 5 hours of heavy manual labor? Now, we don’t do that every day, and we are definitely not perfect in getting every job done when it should be done, or making sure our kids are always working. But they have learned throughout their lives how to persevere and do a good job, no matter how long the job takes.

There are so many help wanted signs posted everywhere now. So many businesses that are begging for employee’s. Some maybe don’t pay super good, some of the jobs aren’t very fun, but most of the jobs aren’t that difficult. And yet, we see people begging for money and handouts, teens that spend hours on end with a device in their hands, or playing video games, completely detached from society as a whole. None of them contributing to society in any real, productive way. I have thought a lot about this rising generation. Many of them have not been taught to work, not been taught to see a job through to the end, and not been taught perseverance in completing a job that is not fun to do, but still needs to be done.

Knowing how to work is a learned behavior. But some people seem to have more of a personal drive to get things done than other people. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be learned if we put our minds to it. I remember when I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter. We had been living in a travel trailer for 7 years, and we were moving that out of our shop so we could set up the shop as more of a house while we finished our real house. I had been working at it for weeks, and was not finished when I gave birth to baby number 2. I was so tired when my Mom came and I was so grateful to have her there to help me. She went right to work getting everything moved out and cleaned up. It was such a relief to have the help. I asked my mom what kept her going. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but what I remember and learned from the conversation, was to not look at the whole job all at once. Just start working, just start taking chunks and completing them. Pretty soon, the job is done. Sometimes we have to stop and make sure we’re going in the right direction, but do everything you can right then, and then move on to the next thing you can do, and so on until the job gets done. I have remembered that ever since, and when I feel like a job is going to be too big, I just start with whatever I can complete right then, and move to the next, and the next. Pretty soon, just like the woodshed being full, the job is done.

I am grateful my parents taught me how to work, and that we live in such a way that our kids have had the opportunity to work as well. So much of life is just about jumping in and moving forward. So many things in life don’t get accomplished because people aren’t willing to jump in. What do you do to teach your kids to work hard? How do you break up large projects into manageable pieces?

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Today in Church I listened to several awesome talks, but one phrase stood out to me, I don’t even know if this is exactly how it was worded, but this is what I got out of it: “Don’t let my doubts stall me in my progress forward.” How often do we have an awesome idea, or feel like we should do something specific, maybe we know we need to make a change of direction to make our lives better. But we stop, we don’t move forward because we are afraid, or we are can’t see how to accomplish the big goal. We get comfortable even if it’s not really where we want to be, so we give up before we start.

Doubts don’t just affect big ideas and goals, they can affect every aspect of our lives. But doubts are not good or productive in any way. We should always find out information, ask questions. But when we seek for answers, we should never look for those answers from sources that doubt. We need to make sure we are looking at legitimate sources with real truth. Those sources need to be carefully looked at, and the good pulled out of them. Sometimes they are people close to us, sometimes they are experts in their field. But the worst person to look at is the one that is already doubting, the one that already gave up on the goal.

I have learned in my business to seek out successful people. See what they are doing that I might not be doing. How do they spend their time and where do they put their energy. It is the same with anything we value or what to learn. Don’t ask the person who has given up, find the person who is succeeding. If you want to have more faith, don’t ask the person who has fallen away from your faith. Find the person who is succeeding, the person most at peace. Find out what they are doing in their lives different than you are and try to implement some of those things into your thinking, your habits, your priorities.

Failing is different than doubting. I still refer to Einstein’s invention of the lightbulb. 10,000 times he found out how a light bulb didn’t work. But he didn’t doubt that he would eventually find an answer, he kept persevering through the questions, through the data. I’m sure there were people who thought, even told him he was crazy. But he never gave up. That is what determination can do for us. That determination can increase as we see progress in our lives. I am so grateful for the many, many people through my life who have encouraged me to write down my experiences. I don’t write down a ton, maybe a couple of sentences every evening, but about once every 2 or 3 months I hand write those things down in my journal from my phone. I could print them off and put them in a binder, but I love handwriting them as I get to look back, read about my experiences, and often see the fruits of whatever I was unsure of, but kept pushing through. Sometimes I am reminded of some inspiration that I had forgotten about that propelled me forward to where I was that day, and I am so grateful when it came, and again when I reread about it later. Looking back renews my determination in so many aspects of my life.

I have said this several times here on my blogs, but I’ll say it again, “Average is the enemy of excellence.” When we choose to doubt, when we choose to stop our progress we become average, or worse, mediocre. Even if we don’t accomplish exactly what we set out to do, if we persevered through those doubts then we grew. Growth is one of the most important things we can do in this life. Growth may change the direction we thought we wanted to go, but growth always leads to good, whether that good is simply within us that makes us a better person, or something physical outside of us. That growth makes us more than just average, it starts to elevate us towards excellence. This week I am going to move forward with a piece of inspiration that I had several months ago, kept in the back of my mind because I wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed, but because I didn’t throw the idea out, I have a new direction to go. If it doesn’t work, I will continue forward, having more data to learn from and a new direction to move. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue learning and growing every day. What are you doing to remove doubt from your life and proceed forward in faith?