I went to Roots Tech in Utah recently to learn more about doing my family history and tools to help others do theirs. I always love trips like this-just short ones, because as I am away from the regular business of life. It allows me to ponder and reflect on what is happening in my family, in my own personal life. Am I growing and stretching? Am I allowing myself to learn from hard things and come closer in my relationship to a Father who is in Heaven and loves me and His Son who has given His life for me?I love to ponder and I rarely take time to do it. My favorite thing I learned was the importance of journaling!
I was at Barnes and Noble the other day and found the journal section. IT WAS AMAZING! There were so many things to choose from! Beautiful, bound books, bright colors, leather covers, journals with a prompt to help you write, journals with lined pages, some with blank pages for doodling. My choices seemed innumerable! What does this have to do with being at Roots Tech, you may ask? Journaling, my friends!
There was one that caught my eye because of the title on the front-“Mindful Journaling.” As I looked through it I seriously felt like I was looking at The YW Personal Progress Book! Here was one thing I read: “Commit to a conversation with someone you find challenging. You know those people we want to avoid because we find them tedious of difficult? Try to resist judging or feeling irritated with them. After, record your feelings as you do this with people.” Are you kidding me- This has to be taken straight out of Personal Progress-all we need now is a scripture to go with it, right?
Pondering and more…
In the church, we use the word ponder often. Moroni says, “…that ye shall receive these things and ponder them in your hearts…” (Moroni 10:3) David Whitmer is challenged to “inquire of yourself at my hand and ponder upon the things which you have received.” (D&C 30:3) President Joseph F. Smith “[I] sat in my room, pondering over the scriptures and reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God…”(D&C 138:1-2) Nephi tells us that he had a desire to know the things his father had seen in the vision and had complete faith that the Lord would make them known unto him, “I sat pondering in mine heart and I was caught away in the spirit of the Lord…” (1 Nephi 11:1)
In today’s vernacular, I believe we would say that being mindful-being aware of now and taking time to think is the same as pondering. I feel that as we take time in our busy lives to be mindful, we will be given clear revelation and guidance, and find answers in our own souls that we wouldn’t find if we didn’t take that time.
How can journaling help you?
I have mentioned before about my daughter who suffers from a chronic illness that has been super difficult to navigate her way through. She has always been a doodler, drawer, painter-in fact she is very talented. During the beginning of this illness she spent a significant amount of time painting and drawing in her sketch book and on canvases. For her, this was an outlet-her way of being mindful- of wrapping her mind around her feelings and thoughts and then putting them on paper. In recent months, her sister suggested that she keep a journal. As she does, I believe that being mindful-considering and being thoughtful of her situation, the ability to deal with it has been easier.
I think often we are afraid of being mindful “on paper”- recording, journaling. We are afraid of who might read it, what they might think-about the situation and us. First of all, if you don’t want the things you write to go anywhere, you can always write and then destroy it. You still get the benefit of being mindful as you write and ponder. Second, I beg you to share!!! We are all human and experience the same feelings thoughts and tendencies.
How can YOUR journaling impact others?
About 15 years ago, I was struggling being a young mom with 5 kids, a husband that traveled a lot, feeling lonely, a new baby, busy church callings and trying to hold it all together. I was overwhelmed in every area of my life. I came across a journal of my 3rd great grandmother. In it she shared her fears about living on the prairie, her loneliness because her husband was gone a lot, her sense of feeling overwhelmed with caring for the home, the children, the chores and also fears of Indians (they were on a mission in Southern Utah) attacking. She shared very tender and honest feelings about how she sometimes felt abandoned by the church leaders as they had been sent out to the middle of nowhere with not much guidance. She also wrote her disappointment that when they returned to a regular community they were so poor because they had been serving a mission, the children did not have shoes in the winder and would wrap rags on their feet and they would be made fun of by other kids.
As I read this, tears streamed down my face. Someone who understood some of my same feelings of loneliness, wanting to protect my children from the “mean people,” feeling like a single parent often with my traveling husband (hats off to single parents!), feelings of sometimes not being understood by some church leaders and yet loving God enough to see the difference in the perfect doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the imperfection of humans as we lead that perfect gospel. Her testimony of a living Christ and a Heavenly Father who loved her and her family NEVER wavered despite all she faced. I knew right then that no matter what I faced in life, my faith in God would never waiver-and to this day, it hasn’t!
I can almost guarantee that Caroline Behunin never once thought, “Oh, I am going to write these things down so that someday it will help a struggling great grand daughter.” But during her times of struggle, she was mindful and through her writing, she was able to be honest with herself about her feelings and I am sure that helped her to relieve some pressure as she struggled through her difficult life and helped her to get perspective.
Perspective-one of the greatest blessings of being mindful. When we write things out we are able to go back and see them more clearly. When I was at Roots Tech I came across a wonderful journaling tool that I can do right on my phone. It is called DAY ONE. You can download it on your i phone or android and it will sync with computers. You can add pictures, and even share your posts if you want to. It is great because I ALWAYS have my phone so now, I always have my journal and in my downtime, I can be more mindful and record my thoughts while waiting in carpool line or wherever I am.
Types of journals
Sometimes I like to doodle. I want a pen and paper for this. Drawing or doodling can be a mindful outlet as well. I have several writing journals.
- Spiritual Experiences– has spiritual memories recorded-Father’s Blessings, baptisms, Patriarchal blessings, revelation that I have received, church notes.
- Scripture journal-my “Stop Reading Start Searching Journal” that is specific to questions I have and answers I find in the scriptures.
- Daily (even though I don’t write daily) Journal that records the ins and outs and struggles and joys of everyday family life.
- Scriptures– I also consider my scriptures a type of journal, I record revelation, thoughts, insights into the scriptures directly in them.
- Planner or Calendar- which in and of itself in a journal. To have the everyday life of a Mom in 2018 will be super interesting in 2068 even though now it seems really mundane.
- Bullet Journal- this is all the rage now and especially fun for doodlers!
I guess the point of this post is what I learned as I got “away” for a few days. That pondering and being mindful and recording it is important in so many ways. We must reserve time for this. Ask yourself as President Eyring did in his talk “Oh Remember, Remember.” “How have I seen the hand of the Lord in my life today?” It will bless our lives and the lives of those we love. Journaling is also a great way to be mindful but remember to record your mindfulness as well!