by Deborah A. Johnson
You have tossed them on your dresser, tacked them to your wall, shoved them in your textbooks, taped them to your mirror, and even thrown them away. You may have thought that someday your inspirational handouts, posters, thoughts, poems, and stories would come in handy, but if they’re not organized, they probably won’t do you much good! Here are some ideas to keep track of things, so that you’ll be prepared for the next talk, lesson, or spiritual thought you have to give.
Collecting Your Thoughts
Start with five to ten letter-size folders and a box or crate large enough to hold them. Keep costs down by recycling a box you have at home—a large cereal box with one long side cut out is a perfect size for starting a file.
Gather your thoughts from all of their hiding places in your bedroom, locker, books, etc. Stack the papers according to subject so that all of your related thoughts are together.
Determine the subject of each stack. If you have trouble deciding on topics, see if your stacks fit into any of these general categories: family, friends, hobbies, holidays, jobs, religion, or school.
Write each subject on a folder tab, and place the appropriate stack of thoughts inside. If you find you have several stacks with only one thought in them you may want to place these in a folder labeled “Miscellaneous” rather than making a separate folder for each.
Arrange the folders alphabetically by subject in your storage box.
Increasing Your Thought Power
Tape or staple an index card inside each folder. Use these to record the references of longer stories or articles you have read.
If you hear a thought you like, write it down and add it to your collection. Don’t worry about making it look neat enough to hand in to your English teacher. As long as it is legible, you will be able to write or type it neatly if you want to give it to someone else.
File handouts or thoughts as soon as you get home; don’t wait for them to pile up.
Return your folders to the file after you are through so they don’t get lost.
If a file becomes overcrowded, break the subject down into subtopics. More specific headings will make things easier to find.
Kathryn and Emily Phillips were both excited when their stake president called them to obtain the contents of the box to be placed in the cornerstone of the new Bountiful (Utah) Temple. For approximately seven months, the box was part of the family while they gathered, sorted, and prepared its contents.
“The box is sort of like a time capsule,” says 14-year-old Emily. “We put things in it that were representative of the time when the temple was built.”
Newspapers, histories of the area where the temple was built, pictures of the temple under construction, and books about the lives of both President Benson and President Hunter were included in the box, which was sealed in the cornerstone when the temple was dedicated in January.
After gathering all of the desired items to put into the box, Kathryn and Emily’s work still wasn’t finished. They did 30 presentations for Primary, Mutual, and adult groups, explaining what they had done.
“My favorite group was a group of Primary children,” says 18-year-old Kathryn. “They had raised some money and bought a set of scriptures to put in the cornerstone box. During the program, we all sang ‘I Love to See the Temple.’ I’ll never sing that song quite the same way again.”
Although the box is out of sight, it will always be close to the hearts of these sisters who are now eagerly awaiting the time when they can enter the temple.
Priest Neil Thornock does a lot of noteworthy things with his life. He is a busy student, an avid journal writer, and an active member of his priests quorum. But lately, it’s Neil’s talent as a composer that has struck a chord with the musical community in his hometown of Grandview, Washington. He took both first and second place in Washington’s Music Teachers’ National Association Young Composers Project.
“For me, composition takes a lot of patience because it takes so long. It took me almost seven months to complete my first-place piece, which was just over seven minutes long!” says Neil.
But Neil doesn’t write music just to compete. Neil writes music because he loves it and sees it as a way to convey his feelings to others, including his feelings about the gospel. “I love the hymns,” he says.
“I like to share my talent in church. Music is one of the best ways to share your testimony with others.”
BYU Professors Bruce Chadwick (sociology) and Brent Top (religion) have found that personal religious experiences may very likely help teens avoid the pitfalls of violence, gangs, smoking, drinking, and immorality.
“Those young people who said ‘I’ve felt the Spirit in my life, I say personal prayers, I read the scriptures myself,’ had much lower rates of delinquency,” says Professor Chadwick.
Does that mean you’re covered if you go to church every Sunday? Not necessarily. Going to church is part of it, but personal testimony and involvement with feelings given by the Holy Ghost while you are at church and at other times are even more important.
“Youth have to partake of what’s offered at church,” says Professor Chadwick. “Those things start to foster internalized values.”
Young Women from the Mesa Arizona North Stake decided to devote some of their time at girls’ camp to performing a service to others. For the three days they were at camp, the girls devoted some of their time each day to sewing teddy bears to be given to local fire departments. Firefighters can give the bears to children who have been in traumatic situations, to comfort them and keep them occupied.
Just one week after giving their phenomenal gift of 650 teddy bears (all sewn in patriotic red, white, and blue), the girls were able to see their gift in use. A local paper showed a picture of a child who had been involved in an accident. In his arms, he was holding a small bear, hugging it tightly around the neck.
Sixteen-year-old Kristi Forsyth, from Roy, Utah, recently won a state-wide 4-H speech competition. Kristi’s talk centered on what it means to be a teenager in today’s world and the need for teens today to reach for their personal best.
“We can choose not to be mediocre,” said Kristi in her speech. “That doesn’t mean we have to be the best, but be willing to do our best.”
Young Women in the Escalante (Utah) Second Ward know that serving others is a great way to share the gospel. A few years ago, the girls decided to help a less-active member of their ward with some household chores.
“At first I was a little scared to go clean and help and visit at Brother Norman’s house, but now I look forward to it,” says Kate Munson.
Apparently, Brother Norman started looking forward to it also. After the girls had been making regular visits to his house for about a year, Brother Norman accepted an invitation from the girls to attend church. He’s been going ever since. He now teaches a Sunday School class and has been to the temple.
“What started out as a short visit to a person we didn’t know has turned into a wonderful and lasting friendship,” says Brenda Piquet. “Seeing Brother Norman become a temple-worthy priesthood holder has helped me realize the importance of service.”
It may look like the youth from the Big Cottonwood Stake are simply using ropes and boards to walk together. But actually they are learning about temple work—and how it’s a team effort.
The youth chose “Aspire Higher” as the theme for their youth conference and learned to work together and set goals for celestial living.
Receiving a temple recommend may seem as far in the future as marriage and mortgages, but the youth in this Salt Lake City stake took on the responsibility of becoming temple worthy by the time they held their youth conference.
Six months before the conference, the youth began preparing to attend the temple to do baptisms for the dead and understand the work that goes on there. They were divided into groups, and each was assigned to learn about one of the temples around the world.
Their two-day youth conference included a trip to the Salt Lake Temple.
Mike Harrington, a priest from the Cottonwood 12th Ward, provided the music in their temple devotional.
“I gained a testimony of what goes on in the temple,” Mike says. “I am really excited to get to go there.”
Youth in the Pinedale Ward, Rock Springs Wyoming Stake, spent several activity nights learning more about the temple and how to be prepared to enter it. As a culmination of their activities, they each sanded and finished a large pine picture frame and put their favorite picture of a temple inside. The youth now have a special reminder of the temple and what it means to them.