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"The History of Joseph Smith," by Lucy Mack Smith.

One person of purpose and determination can have an impact on many and alter the outcome of important events.

Sometimes we see a work to be done or a wrong to be righted, but we walk away from it, hoping that someone else will be willing to pick up the slack. As Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator said, "Excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude."

In May of 1831, a group of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Fayette, N.Y., traveled by boat on Lake Erie to their unknown destination in Ohio. They were an odd assortment of new converts, 80 in number, with the good fortune of being organized and led by a formidable and forthright woman.

Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr., knew what she was about and refused to back down to either the forces of nature or the forces of man.

From the start, Mother Smith, as Lucy was known, understood the things that would make a difference. She implemented prayers in the group twice a day, and the singing of hymns. She introduced inspiration and insight that helped the weary travelers see beyond the mere moment at hand.

Mother Smith told of this journey in "The History of Joseph Smith By His Mother." She said to the travelers, “Now, brothers and sisters, we have set out just as father Lehi did to travel, by the commandment of the Lord, to a land that He will show us if we are faithful. I want you all to be solemn and lift your hearts to God in prayer continually, that we may be prospered.”

Mother Smith shared food and means with those who had not come prepared with proper provisions. She took the children in hand, appalled by the carelessness of their mothers and their neglect of the safety of their little ones. She admonished, she encouraged — and she let everyone know that this group of pilgrims were Latter-day Saints. While others held back in fear, she spoke boldly, even arranging a meeting at the request of a curious gentleman when Elders Humphreys and Page preached from the deck to “a congregation of one hundred persons collected on a beautiful green bordering the canal,” as she described it in "The History of Joseph Smith By His Mother."

To “dare to do right” is not merely to choose the higher or more difficult when compelled to do so — rather, it is to initiate good. The mother of Joseph Smith was a true convert and Mormon in her own right. Despite others pressing their own fears and dire predictions upon her, she continued to teach the gospel whenever she had the chance.

Indicative of this is the time when the cheerful old landlady in Buffalo asked Lucy what religion she was. She answered, “We are Mormons. And I am the mother of the prophet who brought forth the work and translated the Book of Mormon.”

Mother Smith faced every difficulty with a cheerful willingness to do something about it, including torrential rain and lack of shelter in Waterloo, and the last dismal news that the ice in the river was piled to the height of 20 feet, and the captain of their vessel greatly feared it would be at least two weeks before it would melt enough for any vessel to get through.

At this dismal news, most of the others fell to murmuring and complaining, but Lucy would have none of it. After a rousing scolding all around she said, “Where is your confidence in God? Where is your faith? Do you not know that all things are in his hands, that he made all things and overrules them? If every Saint here would just lift their desires to him in prayer, that the way might be opened before us, how easy it would be for God to cause the ice to break away, and in a moment’s time we could be off on our journey,” as she recorded.

No one had ever imagined such a thing. How could this diminutive woman speak out so boldly?

But to the astonishment of all, her words came to pass. With a sound like thunder, the ice tore a narrow pathway, enabling the boat to maneuver through. Then they watched the opening groan, shift and close up again, and no other boat — save this one carrying Mormons — was enabled to proceed.

A natural miracle; a miraculous escape: an example of one who set about to do good whenever the opportunity came under her hand.

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done, if you don’t do them,” wrote Charles D. Gill.

What were Lucy Mack Smith's words? "Lift your desires to him."

Great things can happen in small but significant ways, if we make a determination to “do and dare.” We are not here to shuffle along life’s byways, to “put in our time.”

As Henry Stanley Haskins, a Wall Street trader and initially, the anonymous author of "Meditations in Wall Street,” wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Dare to do right and we will find the magnificence within ourselves, that is just waiting for expression and release.

Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, a book of poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children and blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com. Email: [email protected]