The Fifteen-Weed Formula

As I drove home from watching a general conference session, I felt uplifted—and overwhelmed. I felt strongly that I needed to do more temple work, family history work, and missionary work. But I wondered how I could accomplish all these things. The work and responsibility involved in rearing a large family were taking all of my time. I prayed that I would find a way to accomplish the things I wanted to do.

The next week in Relief Society I sat by Carolyn Taylor. Carolyn is a young grandmother whose wit and wisdom I greatly admire. She loves the Lord. Her devotion shows in her love for her family, her Church activity, and her joyful living. She is accomplishing great things in her life. Yet Carolyn’s strength and energy are severely limited by multiple sclerosis.

Thinking of my own responsibilities, I wondered how Carolyn could continue pressing forward cheerfully and patiently day after day when her capabilities vary from hour to hour. I asked her to tell me the secret of her success.

That day Carolyn answered my question—and my prayer—by sharing a simple story with me.

During a particularly long, wet Iowa summer, Carolyn noticed that the weeds were thriving in her backyard. She knew that if she pulled all the weeds in one afternoon, it would take weeks for her to recover from the exertion. She decided to limit herself to pulling only fifteen weeds a day, no matter how good or bad she felt.

She proudly reported that by the end of the summer she had successfully pulled all the weeds not only once, but twice, since the weeds kept growing back. And she did not have to spend any time recuperating from the work.

As Carolyn spoke, the demands on my time and energy didn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. Carolyn’s efforts to achieve a small task reminded me of King Benjamin’s advice in Mosiah 4:27:

“See that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”

I try to apply Carolyn’s “fifteen-weed formula” whenever I am faced with a task that seems overwhelming or impossible. Sometimes the formula translates into adding just three extra cans of vegetables into our food storage every two weeks, or writing just ten encouraging words on a card to a missionary every week, or spending just two hours in the family history center each month. That may not seem like much, but I recall the words of scripture assuring me that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).Sheila Kindred, Ames, Iowa

Great-Great-Grandpa Came to Dinner

Dinnertime in our family was often hectic. The teenagers would rush off to school or Church functions, the younger children would be tired and hungry, and my husband would be exhausted from a long day at work. I wanted to do something to make dinner a pleasant time, a time the family would enjoy being together. Then I “invited” Great-Great-Grandpa to dinner.

I was helping one of my sons prepare a Primary talk about an ancestor. As we looked through books and photographs and read pioneer stories, I realized how important it was for my children to get to know their ancestors. That evening at dinner I told a story about Great-Great-Grandpa’s life and began a discussion about him. The children were enthralled.

The discussion went so well that I decided I would spend a few minutes every day reading something about one of our ancestors and then sharing it with my family at dinnertime. A wonderful thing happened. The children loved the discussions and looked forward to our evening meals. We all learned a lot about our family history. Now we also have discussions about the Presidents of the Church, other Church leaders, and heroes from the scriptures. Everyone takes a turn researching and leading the discussions.

Now when I call the family to dinner, I don’t hear “I can’t come to dinner tonight” nearly as often as “All right! I wonder who’s coming tonight.”Lora McAllister, Salt Lake City, Utah

Family Home Evening Happenings

For years we struggled to get our family home evenings off the ground. After we went to bed one night feeling particularly drained and upset, we determined something had to change. We decided we needed to build our family unity and make family home evening something that everyone looked forward to.

We wrote a family song to the tune of a high school pep song and incorporated family goals, ideals, and names into the lyrics. We call ourselves the Halverson Heroes and even created a Halverson Hero cheer. We sing our song and give our cheer at the beginning of every family home evening. These traditions have forged bonds of unity in our family.

Along with building our family spirit, once a month we have what we call a “Halverson Hero Happening” for family home evening. Planning a happening doesn’t require a lot of time or preparation; all it takes is imagination and a positive attitude.

A week before the event, I post on the refrigerator door an invitation announcing the next happening, what to bring, and where and when to meet. One week the invitation read: We’re celebrating the first step on the moon! Bring your clean bodies dressed in pajamas, your smiles, and your enthusiasm to the family room at 7:00 P.M. on Monday for another great Halverson Hero Happening!

That night we talked about how Heavenly Father inspires scientists to invent things that will help build up his kingdom. We made clay imprints of our feet, looked out the window at the moon, and ate different kinds of cheese. Other happenings have included a first-day-of-summer party, a Groundhog Day party, and even an Alexander Graham Bell celebration when we learned telephone manners.

Our family home evenings still are far from perfect, but they are getting better. Building our family unity and incorporating monthly happenings into our plans have helped us have happier and more successful family home evenings.Marty Halverson, Sandy, Utah

[photos] Photography by Matthew Reier

[illustration] Illustrated by David McDonald