The Fifteen-Weed Formula
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“The Fifteen-Weed Formula,” Ensign, Sept. 1994, 74

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