Last Sunday I spoke about Journaling at church. I want to remember this talk. I always want to remember how I felt preparing this talk and how important journaling is. I don't want my feelings to fade. I hope you kids read this talk below and feel the same spirit I did. I want you to know that I received help from Heavenly Father writing this talk. Personal Revelation is real. Here is most of the talk with some things tweaked a bit, and some things I had cut out etc.
I first want to talk for a few minutes about riding on an airplane. Maybe some of you youth haven’t been on an airplane yet, but that’s ok. You can imagine it with me. Flying on an airplane can be a pretty amazing experience, but a lot of the experience depends on where you are sitting. There are a few different ways to experience an airplane ride. You can experience it sitting next to the aisle, sitting in a middle seat, or sitting in a window seat. Sitting in an aisle seat, you see mainly what is in front of you. You might see people walking up and down the aisle. You might hear or talk to the person next to you, but as an aisle sitter, you actually could probably make a whole trip and not even realize you were in the air. Except for a few bounces and bumps along the way, it might just seem like you were just sitting in a room or an office on the ground. In a middle seat you might be close enough to a window to get a glimpse of the outside. You might be able to see a few clouds, or mountains, but mostly you’ll probably just see the seat in front of you and the people directly around you. Then there is the window seat. It’s what everybody wants. You are able to look out the window and see the world behind you and the world ahead of you. You can see the clouds, the mountains, the deserts, the trees, the streets, the cars, the houses. You can see the Bigger Picture. From this seat you realize just how amazing flight is.Now what does that have to do with family history? I want you to think about it for a little bit and I’ll come back to that at the end of my talk.
A few weeks ago, during testimony meeting I came up and spoke about a Book of Mormon Challenge I took on about 2 ½ months ago. I hope you will forgive me if I speak a little bit more about it today.At the end of November of last year, I decided to take on the challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 31 days. I figured that if I could read a regular book and be so into it that I couldn’t put it down, I should be able to read the Book of Mormon that way. And so I took on the challenge to read the Book of Mormon more like a book, like a story you might say. The challenge was not easy. It required me to read early in the morning at times, and there were days that I missed and would have to make up those pages on another day. It was also around the holidays and there was a time when I thought maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal to just add about 6 more days to my timeframe. However, I decided to stick to it and I finished on target. I did not understand everything I read by any means, but I am here to tell you, that challenge started a fire in me. It has made all of the difference in my life. I believe that because of that challenge and my desire to do this, Heavenly Father has blessed me more than I would have ever imagined. I feel like I am changed because of the Book of Mormon and my obedience in reading it.
You hear stories all the time about how this one Book and how it has changed and affected people. We know that the Book of Mormon is a history of God’s dealings with the people who lived in the Americas a long time ago. So it is a history, a record, or you might call it a journal of how God was involved in their lives. Can you imagine if those ancient prophets had not kept those records for whatever reason. If maybe they had felt like it was too time consuming, or too hard of a task, if they felt like what they said didn’t matter or wasn’t going to make a difference, or if they felt too inadequate with their writing skills. Image what we would be without today.
How important do you think it was for them to keep records of their lives?
How important do you think it is for us to keep records of our lives?
Elder Theodore M. Burton said: “As a people we ought to write of our own lives and our own experiences to form a sacred record for our decendants. We must provide for them the same uplifting, faith promoting strength that the ancient scriptures now give us. (Ensign, Jan 1977)
President Kimball has talked about writing in journals. He had 33 black binders in his personal study when he was called to be President of the church. I would like to share a few of his thoughts from an Ensign article entitled “President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals.”
First of all WHO should journal:
He states: Would every family, as they now hold their home evenings, train their children from young childhood to keep a journal of the important activities of their lives, certainly by the time they begin to leave home for schooling and missions? Close quoteSo Everyone. Even young children should be writing.I have to tell you. I have never really enjoyed writing in a journal. It just wasn’t really enjoyable for me and it took too long. When I came across this girl’s blog that I spoke of earlier who was involved in the Generations project I was incredibly inspired by her story. She had lost a brother and then lost a baby boy. Her journaling on her blog was still so inspiring. Maybe even more so, because of her trials. I read her blog like a book, Post after post. I started to wonder if I might enjoy writing. I started wondering if I could be a good writer. Up to that point, my blog was mainly pictures and very little writing. I think I was afraid of putting myself out there for other people to see and I think I was afraid that I just simply wasn’t a good enough writer.I decided at the beginning of this month (February) that I was going to start journaling on my blog. I can not even tell you how much I have enjoyed it. I never imagined I would love to journal so much. I actually have had mornings when I would wake up and just couldn’t wait to go journal. At times my mind would just be swirling with ideas about what I could write about. I actually went and bought a little notebook at the dollar store so that went inspirtation came, I could write it down. This brings me to the next question:
WHEN should we write:
President Kimball states: Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available.I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering things. If I don’t write it down, sometimes it’s just gone. Sometimes those details can be gone in a day or even an hour. I truly believe that we can receive inspiration from our Heavenly Father daily, even hourly if we are living right. If we don’t write the inspiration down, it really might be gone.
Now WHAT should we write in our Journals:
President Kimball says: Your private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity. Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant. Your journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are “made up” for a public performance. There is a temptation to paint one’s virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative.He goes on to say: “Personally I have little respect for anyone who delves into the ugly phases of the life he is portraying, whether it be his own or another’s. The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative. Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story. Why dwell on that one ugly truth about someone whose life has been largely circumspect? Close quote.So sharing day to day things are good, but leaving something behind that our children and their children can be inspired by and connected to that is real is so important. I want my children to be able to look back on my journal and find hope, and faith, and how I overcame problems and how I tried to be better. I want them to know that I had a testimony and had spiritual experiences. I never want to focus on the negative in my journal because that seems like it would be exhausting to read.
WHY should we write in our journals:
I’ve talked about some of them, but in case you’re not convinced, I love the thoughts that President Kimball ends with. He states:Your journal is your autobiography, so it should be kept carefully. You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way than those recorded in any other life.What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity.And then I like what he says next:We hope you will begin as of this date. If you have not already commenced this important duty in your lives, get a good notebook, a good book that will last through time and into eternity for the angels to look upon. Begin today and write in it your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.” Close quote.
I love that last part: and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. I know that’s true. I’ve seen it in my life as I have started to journal. There is so much good in life. We just have to look for it. We have to see it. We have to recognize it and recognize the inspiration that comes from Heavenly Father about things we can write that will help others around us and our posterity.
With all of the technology twitter, facebook, and blogs, there is so much time that can be wasted and Idled away. Idling away time makes me feel very unhappy and makes me feel further away from the spirit. For me, journaling can be a great missionary tool and a source of inspiration for others. There is so much good that can be done on twitter, facebook, and blogs. If we are going to be on there, in moderation of course, we may as well inspire others. It is crazy how many people you can affect in just one day with something we write. There is so much evil on the internet, but there is also So. Much. Good. What an opportunity to share the gospel. We never know who we can affect by what we share. I know this because this one blog I came across that I have spoken of today, which, by the way, I believe Heavenly Father put in my path, has helped inspire me to want to do great things.
So we know that our journals can help others. What can they do for us?
In an Ensign article entitled My Journal, My Testimony, Salli Hollenzer shares some of the things she’s gained in more than her 25 years of Journal writing: I would like to share a list of these things in her words:
I acquired a written family record of details that are a practical source of informationI have a clearer, richer memory of the past
I found a practical method of setting goals, tracking my progress, and following through on commitments.
I discovered a therapeutic means to resolve emotional, social, and spiritual issues I face.
I have improved my writing skills
I have discovered that many of my righteous desires are eventually fulfilled
I have created a form of personal scripture by recording the inspiration and revelations I have received.
Now, I would like to go back to our airplane ride. What does an airplane ride have to do with family history?On an airplane ride we sometimes get what we get. We don’t always get to choose our seat. In life, it is a choice. We can choose to be an aisle sitter and see only what is directly in front of us or beside us. We can choose to focus only on me, here, right now. We can choose to be a middle sitter where we can see small glimpses of where we fit into the big picture, being partially engaged. Or we can choose to be a window sitter. We can choose this every day. We can be very much a part of the Big Picture. We can look behind us to our ancestors and ahead of us to our posterity. It can change us when we think outside of the me, here, now. As we connect with our families we can find more of a sense of purpose. We can come to know ourselves better. We can be a part of saving souls . It can make all the difference in our lives. How will what I am doing today affect my children and their children? How will it affect my family who has passed on. We need to find that connection. I think that’s what the spirit of Elijah helps us to do, it helps to open our eyes to the Big Picture. But we must first move our feet.
So how do we do it. How do we become a window sitter? How do we change?We do something. We do something today, while we feel the spirit. Something, not everything. We can’t take it all on at once.
Elder Bednar in a video on LDS.org entitled “The Time is Now: Youth on Family History” where he was speaking to some youth about family history and the importance of engaging in temple work said, speaking to one of the young men, “With a young man like you, I will rarely ever ask the question, “Are you preparing to go on a mission?” I will ask the question “Are you worthy to be in the temple, and will you be next year and will you be the year after that. Are you doing the research in your own family and helping other people with their research? That, for a young person, in the wickedness of the world in which we live today is one of the greatest safeguards against the temptations of the adversary. The time is now.
If I leave here today and don’t have a goal in mind of how I am going to start to get involved in family history, these talks today will have been of little benefit. I believe that sometimes if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Can I suggest a few different options of what you can do today. Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest part, once we do that and we feel the spirit of Elijah, I believe that the desire can burn within us.One thing you can do is:
-Sit down and write in your journal today. Write down the spirit you felt in your meetings. Write down what you learned. Write down what you think might help your kids one day. Write down your testimony. Write down how you have seen the hand of God in your life today. Just write. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Another thing you can do is:
-Find a journal entry or a story from someone in your family who was born before you. Maybe you can even ask your parents if you can read one of their own journal entries.
You can also:
-Sit down with your mom or dad and find out about their childhood. Just talk to them. With no other distractions. Find out about what their parents were like and how they raised them. If you think about it, how much do we really know about our own parents and grandparents? Do we take the time to talk to them about their life? This would be a great idea for Family Home Evening.
I have focused mainly on keeping records for our posterity, but another thing you can do to feel and be a part of family history is learn how to index. Indexing is simply looking at a record that was hand written and typing in what you see, so that it can be available to people on their computer in a digital form. Don’t worry about messing up. There are people who will check over it after you are done to make sure it was done correctly.
-Go to LDS.org to learn how to do this or call me and I will help you. It will take you maybe 15 minutes. Youth especially. Courtney, my ten year old and I sat down for a few minutes to index. It’s pretty simple.We need to find that connection. Finding out about our ancestors help us find out about ourselves and keeping records will leave a legacy for our posterity.
I love this picture I took of Camryn awhile back. It makes me think...anyone can journal right!