My Journal, A Vital Record

Is keeping a journal worth it? Of course—especially when you consider that your posterity will seek information about you whether you provide it or not! Writing it yourself helps ensure accuracy and allows you to emphasize what you think is most important. It is also helpful to have a careful record on hand when your own memory begins to fade.

Personally, I prefer to write by hand in acid-free, hardcover, bound journals. I think handwritten entries allow future generations a special glimpse into your personality. If you keep your journal on computer, I suggest you periodically print it and keep the hard copy somewhere safe. A journal stored in a nonretrievable format is as bad as no journal at all.

Over the years I have enhanced my journal writing by keeping in mind two simple guidelines:

Be complete. In addition to sharing thoughts and feelings, your journal is a record of your life’s events. For future reference, be sure to include complete information: names (first and last), dates (including the year), and places (city, state, or other information applicable to your country). Don’t assume that people and events you know intimately will be familiar to your future readers. It may seem tedious at first to add these details, but future readers will be grateful for your efforts.

Vary your entries. Don’t become obsessed with fact to the exclusion of emotion. You want a balance of both. In addition to narrative entries, my journal contains a variety of entries, from lists of people who attended events like my children’s baby blessings to postcards received from friends. I have included favorite scriptures as well as synopses of ward and stake meetings. I have also drawn pictures in my journal and have even included some of my favorite recipes.

Preston Draper, Norman Fourth Ward, Norman Oklahoma Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Bonding with Baby

When I had my first baby, I quickly realized that breast-feeding can consume a great deal of time—sometimes 20 minutes or more every two hours for a newborn. Since I am an avid reader, I thought I would use this time to read six volumes of Church history. I reasoned that Heavenly Father would be pleased with my seemingly wise use of time. However, one day I read a booklet that changed my outlook. Prepared for adoptive parents, it explained how they could bond with their new infants. Though babies do not understand speech, the booklet pointed out, they respond to such stimuli as touch, eye contact, and sound. Because eating is so pleasurable for them, a mother can effectively communicate her love while feeding. I realized that I might use some of this time caressing my baby’s hair, stroking little arms and hands, or singing softly. Babies don’t always stay awake during their feedings. But I learned that when they do, it’s important to use this precious time with my child to communicate love.

Penny D. Brown, Cottonwood 13th Ward, Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake

Why Learn a Second Language?

Since the Church has more members living outside the United States than within, those who are multilingual and knowledgeable about other cultures can increasingly serve their brothers and sisters worldwide. In view, then, of the spiritual, educational, social, and professional advantages of familiarity with languages and cultures, what can we do to enhance our own abilities in these areas?

1. Learn any foreign languages that your parents or grandparents speak. Share the good and uplifting aspects of their cultural heritage so its strengths can be part of your life too.

2. Share your native culture if you grew up in another country. Of course you will want your family to be fully participating citizens of the country where you now live. But teach them the language and culture of your heritage, particularly those values that will strengthen them and their future families.

3. Encourage children to learn a second language. Though you can study a language at any time, language learning comes most easily and naturally to young children. Learning another language will likely help them to understand their own language better.

4. Practice any foreign language you learned on a mission or in school. For personal study, consider using foreign-language scriptures on occasion; you may also choose to offer personal prayers in your second language. A subscription to the Liahona, the Church’s international magazine, can also be helpful. Seek a variety of opportunities to practice.

5. Learn English as a second language. If English is not your native language, consider learning it also. In addition to increased job opportunities, you will be blessed to study modern scriptures in their original language and to understand English-speaking Church leaders who don’t speak the language of every country where the gospel has spread.

If learning another language seems daunting, remember that you can have the Holy Ghost to help you in fulfilling righteous desires to serve your brothers and sisters.

Bruce B. Clark, Cherry Hills Second Ward, Orem Utah Cherry Hills Stake

Family Home Evening Helps: A Hymn and a Scripture

My husband and I noticed that during sacrament meeting our children were not singing the hymns with much enthusiasm. We decided they might not be singing them because they did not know them well. A simple solution came to mind. Why not select hymns and accompanying scriptures to use for family home evening and before morning and evening prayers?

Using a simple assignment chart, we rotate the song and scripture selections among family members. We each have a turn to choose what we feel will best strengthen our family. We then introduce the upcoming week’s scripture and hymn at family home evening and subsequently post the scripture in a prominent place. Before morning and evening prayers, we sing the hymn and recite the scripture. By the next family home evening, we usually have both memorized and reward those who do with a small treat. Every few months, we also play a simple review game.

I love to hear my four-year-old sing “Redeemer of Israel” as he plays around the house and to hear all five of my children recite the scriptures by heart. We hope that as our children grow up and encounter difficult situations, they will draw upon the beautiful messages found in our hymns and scriptures.

Valerie Smith, Centerville Ward, Dayton Ohio Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker