Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mists of Darkness

In Institute this week we were talking about Lehi’s dream from the Book of Mormon. We discussed how there were those who were trying to be faithful, but got lost in the mists of darkness or fell away because of the mocking from the great and spacious building. We talked about how Satan can so easily distract us from what is most important.

Our teacher shared this quotation from President Boyd K. Packer: “Largely because of television, instead of looking over into that spacious building, we are, in effect, living inside of it. That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building.”

I thought about that and I realized that facebook and the internet have the same effect- even more so, in my opinion. We are constantly surrounded by detractors within our own homes, constantly surrounded by distractions and the pull of worldly things.

Earlier that day, before Institute class, I had been on my way to drop off my daughter at preschool and I had the thought: You need a facebook fast. I knew it was true, and I decided I would do it. The things we talked about in Institute just reinforced that fact. I thought about how much time I spend surfing facebook that I could use in reading my scriptures- a habit I am still struggling to pick up. I thought about how Satan hides my scriptures behind things like facebook and surfing the internet and reading other books. I began to feel really disheartened to realize that I was letting him walk all over me like that, and I became determined to take back control.

We also talked about the fact that obedience brings knowledge and truth, and that knowledge comes ONLY through obedience. I realized that the reason my search for my true, deep and simple self- the self the Lord created and wants me to see and nurture- has felt stagnant lately is because I am not reading my scriptures. He will not bless me with more light and knowledge unless I am obedient.

Today in my scripture study I read the words of Nephi teaching his brothers the meaning of the iron rod:

"And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."

I am ready to get out of these mists of darkness and let Satan know I’m not playing these silly games anymore. It’s time for me to hold to the word of God, to learn what He wants me to learn and to push the distractions aside so that I can see the deep and simple truth.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When Shallow and Complex Sneaks In

It’s been awhile since I’ve written but the search continues. I have had a busy couple of weeks and the sincere prayer has not always been accomplished. My goal was to do it in the morning after I got the big kids off to school and before I take the little one to preschool. I usually have a few minutes of quiet time when I’m finishing getting ready while the little ones are finishing breakfast.

Well, those few minutes haven’t always happened. Or they happened and I just forgot to read my book and pray.

So the other night I was thinking about how I hadn’t prayed that day, and how I needed to, but then I thought, “But I don’t want to read my book tonight when I’m getting ready for bed. It works so much better when I do it in the morning because that way I can have the things I’ve read on my mind all day and I can stick to a schedule.” I had almost talked myself out of it when I stopped and did the litmus test- was my reasoning deep and simple or shallow and complex?

Well, when you can answer yourself with a “DUH” then it’s pretty clear you have completely missed the deep and simple and embraced the shallow and complex. What was I even trying to do with that reasoning? It made no sense! Satan had successfully caused me to weave this peculiar complicated web of “structure” and “schedule” and “routine” and “order”over top of my need for prayer, which ended up completely obscuring my true purpose: PRAYER. Communing with my Father in Heaven. Which has nothing to do with a schedule, a perfect time, a particular place or method, because those are all shallow and complex. Prayer is DEEP and SIMPLE. It’s a ‘just do it’ kind of deal.

So I mentally conked myself in the head, went and knelt down next to my bed, read my book, and prayed. :-)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Powerful Prayer

After I attended Time Out For Women, I set a goal to use a book I bought, called “365 Days of Powerful Prayer.” Well, I’m only on day #4, but it is remarkable to me how the daily devotions have been right in line with what I’ve needed.

The first two days talked about the purpose of prayer- to find answers. We ask God that we might receive. The third day spoke specifically to the purpose I had in mind after TOFW- to ask God to help me see the vision He has for me and my life. That day had a quotation from Marion G. Romney:

We should pray because prayer is indispensable to the accomplishment of the real purpose of our lives. We are children of God. As such, we have the potentiality to rise to his perfection. The Savior himself inspired us with this aspiration when he said: 
“I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Ne. 12:48.) 
No one shall ever reach such perfection unless he is guided to it by Him who is perfect. And guidance from Him is to be had only through prayer. 

(from Prayer is the Key, Marion G. Romney, January 1976)

I felt like this was saying, “Prayer is indispensable to the accomplishment of your search for deep and simple- for who you are.”

The fourth day, today, was also profound. I had set today aside as a cleaning day- one of the reasons I have been feeling overwhelmed is that my home has been a disaster. I just haven’t been able to find the focus or the energy to get the work done, and, strange as it seems, I know that I cannot find peace in a messy home. I had prayed to ask the Lord to give me strength and motivation and this is what I read in my book today, for Day #4:

“... I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
 - D&C 84:88

That really touched me, because I know it was the Lord letting me know I’m not in it alone, and that even something so simple as cleaning my home can be deep and simple when I am strengthened by Him.

As I said my prayers this morning and had some quiet time at the end for anything the Lord wanted to say to me, the thought came into my mind, “Caring for your home is just another way of caring for your family.” That was exactly what I needed to hear, and I got a LOT accomplished! Hard work is definitely an attribute I need to develop.

One last thing for today- I attended Institute yesterday and I am looking forward to studying the Book of Mormon this year. Admittedly, I haven’t been great at scripture study, even when I do attend Institute. But last night at the end of my prayer, I said, “And if there is any further light and knowledge that Thou wouldst give me, I pray that I might receive it now.” I usually say something similar at the end of my prayers, but never those words. After I said it and was sitting quietly, those words kind of bounced around in my mind- light and knowledge. I was reminded of Elder Scott’s talk in which he spoke of knowledge of the scriptures becoming like little packets of light that we can draw on for strength. I realized that Heavenly Father was telling me that if I want to really hear from Him, then it is imperative that I prayerfully read and study my scriptures.

Deep and simple- pray, read your scriptures.

My next goal- to read and ponder my scriptures daily.

I like you just the way you are. :-)

About Feelings

One of the defining moments in Mr. Rogers’ life was when he was bullied as a child. When he told grownups, they would simply tell him to ignore it and buck up. It was painful for him because all he wanted was for someone- the grownups, the bullies- to recognize his sad feelings and acknowledge them and tell him it was okay to feel sad and even angry.

We live in a world of advice, a world of stitch-it-up-and-make-it-better. I think, just like Mr. Rogers experienced, that we forget that it’s okay to have feelings. It’s okay to feel sad and to cry and to feel scared or worried or angry. And the more honest we are with those feelings, the closer we will be to our authentic inner selves- our deep and simple selves.

This morning as I dropped my 4-year-old off at preschool, I was driving away and I had this little nagging inside of me. I paused for a moment to find out what that nagging was- had I forgotten to pack her lunch? No. Did I put the check in her backpack for her tuition? Yes. So what was it? I realized that that nagging was the pull of motherhood, that little pang that one of my babies was far from me. It’s a natural instinct as mothers, but we’re told all around us that we need to push them out of the nest and let them fly, that they’ll be fine, not to worry, you’ve done a good job preparing them for the world, suck it up and say goodbye.

But I don’t want to suck it up.

So I took a moment to feel that feeling. I took a moment to embrace the fact that I was truly sad to see her go, to have her away from me, because I am a mother and she is my baby and I miss her when she’s not here. It doesn’t matter if it’s her first day of school or her 1,001st. It doesn’t matter if she bounces off the walls and drives me crazy. I am allowed to be sad when she’s gone. I’m even allowed to cry if I want to. It doesn’t make me weak or pathetic- it makes me human, especially because it’s a feeling that is resulting from my mothering instincts, one of my most basic human instincts as a woman.

After embracing my sadness and realizing its source, it was quickly replaced by joy and gratitude that I get to be a mom. I can fully feel those emotions and appreciate them for the deep, simple truths that they express: that I love my children deeply, that they are gifts from God, and that He has endowed me with instincts to care for and nurture them as He would. What a blessing.

Take a moment today to pause and embrace your emotions, because they are a part of who you are. Do it privately or with someone you trust. Or share with me, because...well, I like you just the way you are. :-)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Spiritual Retreat: Time Out For Women

Before I decided to hone my spiritual journey in on the concept of “deep and simple,” I could feel that there was a path I needed to be on- but wasn’t. I felt like I was in spiritual poverty- just scraping by on a spiritual “bank account” that was always in the single digits. I don’t like that feeling. I’d much rather have a little something in reserve for a rainy day, and I knew I had to do my part to build it up.

That was the reason I decided just a few weeks ago to buy a ticket to attend Time Out For Women. I needed an influx of spirituality, and I knew that TOFW could provide that for me. I am happy to report that it did.

While there were many speakers who spoke on a variety of topics, I found that they all boiled down to a few deep and simple truths, which were things I already knew, but a reminder never hurts:

1. Heavenly Father created me.

2. Heavenly Father loves me.

3. Because Heavenly Father created me, He knows my true self and who I can become.

4. Because Heavenly Father loves me, He wants to help me become the person He sees inside me.

5. If I can trust in Him, He will both show me who I can be and help me become it in a loving, perfect way.

6. His way may require trials that will be challenging, but if I continue to focus on Him, He will bring me through them and I will come out of them stronger, better, and closer to who I am meant to be.

Everything else hinges on those basic truths: He made me, He knows me, He loves me, He’ll help me. The only “catch” is that I have to let Him. I have to ask Him to help me push aside the shallow and complex so that I can find the deep and simple me that He made in the first place.

They had several books for sale at the meeting, so I said a silent prayer that Heavenly Father would lead me to one that would help me on my quest for deep and simple, and I finally picked up one called “365 Days of Powerful Prayer.” It contains 365 brief passages meant to help the reader create a deeper connection with Heavenly Father through prayer. If there’s anything that can help me find deep and simple- and is in its very essence deep and simple- it’s prayer, a quiet, soul-searching communion with my Maker.

My goal: Use this book to help me establish a better, more meaningful habit of daily prayer. Ask the Lord to guide me to help me become what He wants me to be.

And remember: I like you just the way you are. :-)


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Let the Search Begin

Why search for Deep and Simple?

Mister Rogers said, “Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” The problem is that as human beings, we are in our essence deep and simple creatures. But modern-day life consists of all that is shallow and complex. How do we weed out the unnecessary excess and find the core of who we are? Why is it important?

As I watched the documentary about Mister Rogers, I realized that he lived by the philosophy of deep and simple, and because he did he exuded love, understanding, acceptance, and joy. Because of who he was and how he treated people- like they were the most important person in the world to him- he was beloved. He taught in a gentle, wonderful, wise way. He was as Christlike as they come, and I don’t use that term lightly.

I want to be that kind of person. I want to follow the example of the Savior, not only for me but for my children. I want them to feel loved and important and confident in who they are. And I want to teach them to be the kind of person who can make others feel loved and important and confident in who they are.

Mister Rogers didn’t read parenting books or develop child-rearing philosophies or do scientific studies to study the effects of this and that on children- he just loved them and understood them. Why can’t I do that?

Why write about it?

I am a writer. I express myself so much better through the written word, and for me, writing is one thing in my life that is deep and simple. At first I resisted the idea of blogging about this journey, because it seemed to absolutely go against the essence of deep and simple. After all, it’s a blog. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I realized that I did not want this journey to be a passing fad in my life- I want it to truly be a lifelong journey, and I realized that blogging can help me to stay focused and accountable.

Also, I felt like there might be others who are in search of deep and simple, and might want to take this journey with me. This search for deep and simple is not an original idea- it’s something that many have sought, and many have found. But the thing is, most of the people that I’ve seen that have found it have not been suburban moms juggling a home, a writing career, and four young children. I want to know if it is possible in this crazy life of mine to change the culture in my family from shallow and complex to deep and simple. I want to be able to see my children, not just discipline them, schedule them, kiss them and hug them. I want to hear them, to feel them, to know them, and for them to know I love them. I’m tired of allowing unnecessary distractions to steal away precious moments of time from my life with them and my husband. I want to be present.

What will this blog be?

This blog will essentially be my journal for my quest for deep and simple. It will be basic- no graphics, no photos, just my words. It would be counterproductive for me to spend time trying to make a fancy blog whose main goal is to help me simplify my life.

I will write about the goals I set to help me find deep and simple, the things that work and the things that don’t, the struggles and the successes. I know that it won’t be smooth sailing, and that the search for deep and simple will have to become a constant awareness for me, but I want to try. I would love for you to join me.

Oh, and by the way- I like you just the way you are. :-)