Sunday, May 2, 2010

Family History/Journaling Lesson

Today I taught a lesson in Young Women's on Family History and Journaling. We were combining two lessons. I thought the lesson went fairly well. 

I started off by reading an excerpt from the journal of my great great grandfather Edward Bunker. There is a story he shares about being the first to volunteer to make a 140 mile journey to help some people. After he volunteers others also agree to go. On the appointed day and time to leave, he is the only one to show up. So he starts on the journey by himself. 

I asked the girls how they thought I felt reading that story. They said that I must have felt pleased to call him my ancestor. I agreed. But, I also felt that he was like me. He said he was the one to "break the ice" and volunteer. I often feel like I am the one in any given situation that is unafraid to "break the ice" and speak up. Reading his story made me feel a kinship to him because I am like him in that way.

I asked the girls to come prepared to share a family history story. Three of them volunteered to share their stories. They were great stories in their own ways. 

We note that to have these stories we had to have someone write a journal and someone do family history work. I gave each girl the information they needed to log onto to register to start doing their family history work. I had one girl start the process of registering so they could all see how to do it at home. (I had my lap top there.)

We talked about how important it is to record memories of the older generations so they can be preserved. I handed out a two page list of topics for writing a personal history. These could be used to ask parents or grandparents questions. Answers could be recorded or typed up. 

Then we spent some time discussing how we keep our journals. I had the girls who brought journals share how they journal. I loved that most of them were spiral notebooks or composition pads. Mine in high school was a 3 ring binder full of looseleaf paper. 

Then I showed them my journals. I showed my 3 ring binder with my faded pages filled with emotional ranting and deep thoughts. It even had an "eternal companion" list with characteristics I was looking for in a mate. 

Many of the girls are going on a trip back East this summer to learn more about church history. I showed them my journal from the trip I went on similar to that when I was 14. I showed the the leaf I saved from the sacred grove where Joseph Smith prayed to know which church to join and where, in answer to that prayer, he saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I showed them the comment cards from the visitor's center there upon which I wrote my feelings after praying in that grove myself and shortly after having a strong confirming answer that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was, in fact, Christ's church and that Joseph had, in fact, seen that vision.

From there I showed them the baby books I made for my children, including the journaling I did in them, for Sabrina, Annie, and Lauren. Then I showed them how other wonderful people had made a beautiful book for Camille after she died and included all my journaling in it. I noted how I wished so much I had written more, but how grateful I was for the little I did have written down about my sweet baby girl. 

We never know how long we have. We never know how long we will be able to enjoy those around us. Other leaders in the room had lost their mothers. Their mothers' journals were so precious to these women now, just as my journaling of Camille is precious to me. Anything we can record now will one day be a treasure to ourselves and/or to someone else.

From here I turned to my new blog book which arrived just in time (the day before yesterday.) I showed them how I had a few precious posts about Camille before the accident. And I showed them how I had written so faithfully after when the Spirit was all around us and angels filled our home. I told them how now when I feel doubtful and low I turned back to these posts and remember the feelings I felt then and I can feel sure again that all is right in our lives. It is a strength to me to have those feelings recorded.

I told them that they need to record their feelings when they feel the Spirit and feel answers to their prayers or feel strong in their faith. There will come a day when they do not feel so sure. It comes for each of us. We all come to a place in life where we doubt our faith. But if we have recorded our feelings when our faith as burned bright and been confirmed by the Spirit, we can look to our own records as a testimony to bolster us through those troubled times and lead us to remember the truth we knew and come to know it again.

The Spirit was there today. I feel certain most if not all of us in the room felt it. I challenged them to - if they felt the Spirit today - go home and write about it. I can only hope and pray some of them did. Certainly, I have written this to follow my own advice. 

I challenge any who read to do likewise. Go write something down today that records some part of your life that will one day be a treasure - a lesson you have learned, how you feel about your parents or siblings or children, a list of your favorite things, goals you have for your life, a story from your childhood. The possibilities are countless. Pick one and Do it. You will one day be glad you did.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear your thoughts on the lesson. We did not combine the two, but instead had one of our Young Women teach the lesson about journals today. I feel like it was the exact opposite approach. We tried to remind the girls to record their thoughts and especially spiritual experiences, but most of the lesson was just talking about the art of journaling. I suppose it's what I needed since I came home and got started painting and using customized paper to turn notebooks and $1.00 kids books into journaling material.
Anyway, thanks for sharing, I'm hoping next weeks family history lesson is more spiritual.

Rhoda said...

I taught that lesson yesterday as well. To be honest I wasn't thrilled about the topic, until I decided to focus on modern type of journaling. Not only with computers and blogs but also project journaling....scriputre journals, art journals, trial journals (i.e. their feelings while mom and Dad are getting seperated) laughter journals and family journals where the whole family has a chance to write down a few stories. I've done a family journal and it was fun to hear some of the stories from my siblings that I was too young to remember or the ones with my brothers at scouts that I never got to be apart I can be apart of each of those memories. I love how spiritually charged your lesson seemed to be. I think that makes a difference in whether or not the girls with have the desire to go home and do it! I think I will take your lead and also post something to encourage journaling on my blog as well!

Susan Anderson said...

This sounds like it was a beautiful lesson. Wish I could have been there!


Lara said...

I LOVED this post Stephanie. Thank you for it! I think it is SO important to record events in your life, no matter how small. I journal, blog, and scrapbook so I can keep a history of our family for my posterity. Thanks for your challenge!