As the year of 2015 ended and the New Year of 2016 came in; I realized how grateful I am that I have kept a journal for almost 40 years. I have written about many different events in my life, family times, sacred moments, and day to day activities. I have also written about the events in our World, the United States and our Church.
Looking back on writing in a journal, I have realized that it was very therapeutic for me. During difficult times I would record my struggles and then in a month or two I would see that I had grown through those trials. Writing about the things that I am grateful for permeate my journal entries. This has helped me have a positive attitude towards life. I have had so many sweet spiritual experiences that I have recorded that I am grateful for. My children through the years have called and asked for dates of various events that they know that I have recorded. I have also shared with my grandchildren a few of my recorded observations about life on my blog entitled: Grandpa and Grandma's Twitterings.
I have had the special opportunity to write my Parent's histories and my Aunts. I felt so blessed to have the time to do this great work. I learned so much about my parents and my aunt that I would not have known if I hadn't undertaken those projects.
I plan at some point to do my own history and that of my husbands. I want our lives to be shared because we have had such rich blessings through the years and special life changing moments. The minutes of our lives as recorded in journals will be the basis for our histories.
My testimony of The Gospel of Jesus Christ is weaved throughout my journals. I know that I have a purpose on this earth. I know where I came from, why I am here and where I am going. You will find in my journals those answers to life questions and my testimony of Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon,The Restoration of the Gospel. The Prophet Joseph Smith and Living Prophets for our day.
This past year when working in Family History on familysearch.org; I have discovered the histories of several of my ancestors. Some of those histories were taken from my ancestors journals. I now know them more intimately and I appreciate their lives and the sacrifices that they made for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My testimony has grown from getting to know those ancestors of mine. Their stories give me courage to go on when times are difficult. I can truly say that if my Grandmother Peterson Ogden can do it I can do it.
I feel that we should share our life stories with our families. I can testify that it does help pull the generations together in a unique way.
In doing journals you can do it in so many different ways. I have tried various ones. The traditional journal is the one that I am doing right now. This is a handwritten one. However, I have had years when I have typed them, put them on the computer, used an on-line format and had a blog journal. Since starting our mission both my husband and I decided to go back to a hand written journal. We have had many wonderful experiences in the 2 plus months we have been serving that I am already on my third journal.
I love the thoughts expressed in this following message by Lloyd D. Newell the narrator for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Music and The Spoken Word.
"Some call it journaling. Others call it expressive writing or creating a personal mission statement. Whatever it’s called, something happens when we take time to seriously ponder our life and then write about who we are, what direction we want our life to take—what our goals and aspirations are for the future. Studies have shown that writing about our personal experiences can improve our mood and even our physical health.But perhaps one of the greatest benefits of writing about our lives is expressed in this statement attributed to author Bernard de Voto: “The best reason for putting anything down on paper is that one may then change it.” Writing our personal story not only helps us understand that story better, it can also impel us to make the story better. After all, as any good English teacher will tell you, the most important part of the writing process is rewriting.
For example, married couples who wrote about a conflict in their marriage were able to better identify what they could do to make positive changes and strengthen their relationship. Similarly, struggling college students who were invited to write an essay or make a video to explain the rigors of college life to future students ended up with better grades the next semester than those who did not take part in documenting their experiences. Examples like these have led researchers to conclude that “by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.”
Nobody’s book of life is quite ready for publication yet. We’re all rough drafts for now. The process of writing and revising our life story, one that is authentic and real, gives us a chance to reframe the past even as we look forward to a brighter future.
I would challenge everyone to keep a journal; it will bless your lives in so many different ways! Let the year of 2016 be full of your life experiences through journal keeping.