Archive for the ‘simplicity’ Tag

Small Things to Confound the Wise

Reading: Alma 37:6

This past weekend I have been struck by the many small things that, working together, are making a big difference in my life.  I am reminded of the scripture Alma 37:6, which says:

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

One such small thing is a commitment to daily prayer and scripture study.  Although I usually spend only 5-15 minutes a day on my personal scripture study, that effort has helped me to learn more about myself and the scriptures and to find answers to bigger problems.

Another small thing is making an effort to be more patient.  Although I already had a great relationship with my husband, as I made little efforts each day to be just a little bit more patient I have grown even closer to my husband.  I also find myself relating much easier to the people around me.

Another small thing is a commitment to heed even closer small promptings of the spirit.  Sometimes those promptings are very small indeed, and sometimes I am not 100% sure they are a prompting, but as I act on those promptings the best I can I find answers to many problems and my days go much more smoothly than before.

Today I am going to brainstorm some ways to help me be more sincere in my prayers, since this is one “small” thing I can definitely improve on. Although I am doing much better at praying every morning and night, I sometimes find it hard to really be sincere and awake as I pray.

What small things are you doing that are making a big difference? Have you ever had an experience where you were surprised by the effect some small thing could have?

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“And My Father Dwelt in a Tent”

Reading: 1 Nephi Chapter 2, especially verses 1-15

Note: Over the next three weeks my posts may be more sporadic as we work on moving.  I’ll do my best to keep up, though!

When Lehi began to face persecution because of the things he was commanded to teach, he prayed for help and he was told to leave Jerusalem.  He took only his family and what they would need to survive.

This story is a great compliment to Elder Perry’s talk on living a simple life in this past general conference.  The verse “And my father dwelt in a tent” is almost comical as it is one of the shortest verses in the whole Book of Mormon.  However, this simple phrase shows how Lehi and his family gave up so much in order to follow the commandments of God.

It is clear they gave up quite a bit as Laman and Lemeul were very upset about it.  In verse 11 it says,

For behold, they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and led them out of the land of Jeruslame, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness.

In American society, we like stuff.  It is easy to get wrapped up in acquiring more things.  Often, it seems as if the most important thing is not even the stuff, but the acquiring of new stuff, as once we have something it loses a lot of its specialness.  What really matters, though, is our family and the basic necessities we need to survive.  Our stuff can distract us from what is really important.

We are moving in two weeks.  This story was especially poignant for me as I identified with the needing to pack up and go to a place that is totally new.  However, I am not giving up nearly so much as were Lehi and his family.

Today as I start to pack, and plan what we need to do for our move, I’m going to think about Lehi and his trip and realize a) how blessed I am materially and b) that the most important thing to take care of as we move is our family relationships.

What in your life is most important?  How much of it is material things?

Gospel Knowledge Accessible For Everyone

Reading: “Even a Child Can Understand,” Elder Gerald Causse of the Seventy, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Even the smartest, most spiritual person you know will spend their whole life learning more about the gospel.  Some scholars, such as teachers at BYU, devote their whole life’s work to learning new things about the gospel, especially historical and linguistic interpretation.  This may make the more ordinary of us feel like we could never gain a good understanding of the gospel.  Elder Causse assures us that this is not the case.

Elder Causse, in his talk, points out that even children can understand the most basic principles of the gospel.  And while they may not be able to go into deep theological discussions, the things they understand are the most important parts of the gospel. He says,

The Bible has probably been the subject of more interpretations and philosophical debates than any other book. However, a child reading this book for the first time will have at least as much, if not more, chance to understand the doctrine as the majority of those doctors of the scriptures. The Savior’s teachings are adapted to everyone. At eight years of age a child can have sufficient understanding to enter the waters of baptism and make a covenant with God with complete understanding.

He also encourages teachers to keep this in mind while they teach their lessons:

The quality of a lesson is not measured by the number of new pieces of information that you give your students. It comes from your capacity to invite the presence of the Spirit and to motivate your students to make commitments. It is by exercising their faith by putting into practice the lessons taught that they will increase their spiritual knowledge.

I really loved this talk because it helped me to remember that the most important things I need to learn in the gospel are things that I probably already know in my head, but need to really learn and embody in my heart.  I have definitely found this to be the case as I write in this blog.  There is very little “new” that I have learned, but by trying to really apply what I already know to my life and by trying to practice it to a higher degree, my spiritual “knowledge” has greatly increased.

Today I am going to write in my journal and try and write down several simple gospel themes that have either helped me a lot lately or might help me with current or upcoming challenges.

What simple gospel truths are special to you?

Tis a Gift To Be Simple

Reading: “Let Him Do It with Simplicity,” Elder L. Tom Perry, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

First of all, you may be interested to know that the full transcript of this past general conference is now available online.

Today I re-read Elder Perry’s talk on simplicity.  I love this talk for several reasons.  First of all, Thoreau is one of my biggest heroes, and Walden is one of my favorite works of literature from my favorite time period in literature, the early nineteenth century.  So, the moment he mentioned Walden Pond I was pretty much won over.

Second, I love his message of simplicity.  From our materialistic society we get the idea that we need the best, biggest, newest, fastest, most stylish, highest quality things to be happy. This is so not the case!  Other than having the basic necessities of life, material things are not indicative of a happy life.

Third, I really enjoyed how he tied his topic into current events.  He talked about the energy crisis, and the poor economy, but brought it back to the message of the gospel.  It helped remind me not to get so caught up in these things that I forget to live the gospel.

I feel like this talk was written just for me!

Right now my husband has the prospect of possibly getting a new job.  Nothing is definite yet, but if he were able to get this job it would be a huge blessing for us, especially financially.  If he were able to get this job we would need to move (eventually), so I have been thinking a lot about the kind of home and lifestyle I would want if we had the means to live better than we do now.

Yesterday as I was walking around our little town I was looking at all the houses and thinking about this question.  As I observed the homes I realized something.  The homes that looked the most inviting and beautiful were not necessarily the biggest ones or the newest or the nicest ones.  The biggest factor, by far, in the outward desirability of the home was how well the occupants took care of it.

Then, while reading this talk it just brought home to me again that whether or not my husband gets this job, the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to live simply and to take care of what we have.  If we love each other, and we take care of each other, and in all things follow the teachings of the gospel, then we will be happy no matter where we live or how we live.

I feel like maybe I rambled a bit today, but this was a big lesson for me at just the right time.  Living simply is better than living with fine things.

Since we moved in, I have been working hard to get our home organized and get our things settled.  Today I’m going to continue that work, and I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for taking care of my home.

What does living simply mean to you?