I just got back from attending a large international conference with scholars on family issues from around the world.  Their scholarship was impressive and the sophistication of their techniques and methods was astounding.  It was a gathering of individuals with mighty professional credentials, of persons who regularly speak in the media or before parliaments and legislatures on family issues of substance and concern.  Then I got home.

Small Things and Families

The first thing I did after getting off the plane in Fargo (yes, Fargo) and reaching my family was to take my daughter inside to the bathroom.  Then I chased my two sons up and down the escalators and back to the car.  After that I attempted to kiss my wife over the hollers and halloos of my children.  The sophistication of the conference faded.  I was back to small things.

I love small things.  Why?  Because the Lord works by small things.  After providing Lehi and his family with the gift of the Liahona to guide their way through the wilderness, the scriptures softly teach:

“And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (1 Nephi 16:29; emphasis added)

Small things.  In family life they might include:

  •   Sitting down with an anxious boy to read about astronauts and answer questions about the mysteries of space travel.
  •   Asking a spouse to sit and read while you finish cleaning up the remains of dinner.
  •    Teaching a child to fold her arms and bow her head just one more time – night after night after night.
  •   Rising early enough for a dad and two or three kids to shovel the walks when there is a new-fallen snow.
  •  Calling a grandparent just to see how they are doing and making sure that you can ask them to share a story with you.
  • Do you see the power of small things?  Small acts of kindness and courage and thoughtfulness are small acts of connection that bind us to each other and to the Savior.  And they can bring about great things.
Small Things and Gratitude
We are sometimes unaware of the power of small things.  My father and mother were recently in my home for several days.  As they prepared to go I asked if they had experienced a good visit.  My dad said, “I’ll miss the dancing.”

What did he mean?  It took me a minute.  Then I thought about it and realized what he meant.

We dance at my house.  A lot.  This is instigated primarily by my two young daughters.  We turn on the music and we swirl, dip, glide, bounce, hop, fall, and do it all again.  I usually last about a third of one song before I need to take a break to catch my breath.  But we dance.  Everybody joins in and there is fun and laughter and, well, more fun.  We don’t really do it on purpose too much.  We don’t do it to go out of our way to build family unity.  And we don’t do it because an expert in a conference somewhere researched it and found out that it’s a great “small thing” to build family relationships.  We do it, well, because sometimes it is just the time to dance.

A small thing.  But small things may last.  I danced the polka with my baby girl the other night.  Did the actual polka step and everything.  How did I know how to do it?  Well, Mom used to dance with us kids growing up and she taught me the polka step.  Small things.

Gratitude is the heart of the holiday season.  It is the compelling message of Thanksgiving and the center of the Christmas spirit, gratitude for all that we have received and all that we have to give one another. 

Take time this year to do one simple thing.  It will take some time.
Make a list of 100 “small things” in your home and family life for which you can feel some gratitude.  Then take time each day for one hundred days to thank your Heavenly Father in prayer for one of the small things that you have named.  As you do so, you will find in ways you never imagined that “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”  

(As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts or comments or feedback with me at [email protected]“>[email protected].  Look forward to hearing from you!)