"We Can Do Hard Things"

Each week I spend some time volunteering at our local youth shelter. This week, one of the long time residents had a new video game, and she wanted me to play with her. As we tried to help Mario and Luigi survive each level, we learned that teamwork was vital! I gently used some counseling techniques to keep the conversations helpful.
Each time our characters died, I would turn to her and ask, "So what do we need to do to win this level?" With her precious 11 year old wisdom, she would respond with a solution, "We need to take turns jumping onto the platorms," she would say. Or "Let's communicate more about who will do certain moves." When our plans failed (which happened many times) I would encouragingly say to her, "We can do hard things. We will figure this out."

Eventually we made it through the hard levels of the video game, and our teamwork skills were spectacular, if I'm allowed to brag. I hope that sweet girl remembers that perseverance is rewarding, and that she can do hard things.

When I think of the phrase "I can do hard things," certain ancestors come to my mind. In my family tree are many of the Mormon pioneers that traversed the American plains on their way to Salt Lake City. They did hard things. They battled hunger, sickness, cold, and even death along their journey. I am grateful for their examples, and I appreciate the work ethic that was passed down for me.
To honor their fortitude and faith, each of our children has been named after one of my pioneer ancestors.

Yesterday my family and I celebrated "Pioneer Day" with our local Mormon church congregation. Pioneer Day is celebrated on July 24th in remembrance of the pioneers finally reaching the Salt Lake Valley. One of my ancestors was in the first wagon train company to reach the valley. Here in Texas, we celebrate Pioneer Day with fireworks, country dancing, and games like clothes washing and (pretend) cow milking. You can also visit the petting zoo or take a hay ride.

During Pioneer Day, members from nearby cities gather to compete in fun relays like an egg toss, a 5-legged race, and a hula hoop contest. This year, I signed up to participate in the pie eating contest. I love pie! When I signed up, I assumed I would be given a fork to eat with. An hour before the pie contest, I was told that I would have to keep my hands behind my back and eat the pie with only my face! I doubt my pioneer ancestors had a pie eating contest that way, but I'm not one to back down from a challenge.
In the end, I didn't win, but I think I would have come in 4th place. I had a small part of the crust left when the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners were called and the contest ended. It looked like the remaining contestants had more unfinished pie than my small piece.

Before the pie eating contest, I reminded myself that "I can do hard things."
Whether that be shoving my face into a cream pie or battling SuperMario video game levels, I can do it!

And you can do hard things too.

I'm on the end of the table. Nervous but excited to start!

There I am on the end with my face in the pie. 

The little bit of pie I had left. The boy next to me took first place.

Happy Pioneer Day everyone!

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