(Note from Carolyn: For those of you who are interested in the detox drink we share here at Meridian, the recorded call with the formulator of the tea, Dr. Miller, and Meridian friends is HERE. We’ll do another one on October 29!)
Surely the heavens open for all of us on conference weekend, and the Monday after is a tender time with new direction, the words and music whispering in our minds and hearts, and the fresh conviction that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true and a joy to embrace.
What guidance did you receive? Is it recorded for you to take action and keep fresh? If so, then good for you! The Lord and the angels will be pleased! Positive action and change is much more likely to happen! Or will inspired personal direction be lost forever because the only place it is recorded is in your mind … along with a thousand other things? If so, will this be a regret both now and in days and years to come?
Richard G. Hinckley of the Seventy shares “When I was a boy, my father (President Gordon B. Hinckley) often would use an interesting phrase when he was offering the family prayer. He would say, “Heavenly Father, please bless us that we may live without regret.” (The Friend, February 2007.)
What an amazing thing to pray for and how its influence guides daily choices! I have few regrets in this life as I enter into the last third of it. (I turned 60 last May.) I’m grateful there are so few, but among them that I keenly regret is that I have not had an organized way of retaining the inspiration from General Conference, personal scripture study and prayer, inspiring sacrament meeting talks, etc. What I do have are sweet but vague memories and scribbled entries in assorted notebooks of various shapes and sizes that are in scattered places in my home.
How I hope the Book of Life in heaven will record that I did regularly read, was inspired to action and have lived a worthy life for the past 30 years, because it’s surely not recorded effectively on my end of the deal! And what have I missed, forgotten or not been available to receive because of it? One of my friends passes it off as, “I’m too busy living life to record it!” While that may be true, it is still a regret for me. However, with this General Conference and the beginning of fall, I’m turning over a new leaf! I can repent and do differently with the remaining years that have been allotted to me. But how? Without some powerful, actual tools, it’s just a wish and nothing will be different.
My Book of Life: The Celestial Magic of a Three Ring Binder
The missionary guidebook, “Preach My Gospel” is a remarkable guide for not just missionaries, but all members of the Church wanting to both understand the gospeland to live it effectively. In the beginning preface, it says:
“Preach My Gospel frequently asks that you use a study journal to help you understand, clarify, and remember what you are learning. Elder Richard G. Scott (In General Conference, October 1993) taught “Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light.” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” General Conference 1993, Ensign page 86.)
Review your study journal to recall spiritual experiences, see new insights and recognize your growth. Record and organize your thoughts and impressions in a way that fits how you learn. Develop your own system to easily access key information in the future. Use it often to review, access, and apply what you have learned. Use your study journal to take notes and record impressions during your personal and companion study, meetings and interviews. (“Preach My Gospel” page x.)
As Institute teachers for our Stake, my husband and I have access to the marvelous lessons for preparing missionaries. This manual includes more information on the importance of a study journal:
“A study journal can be as simple as an inexpensive bound journal, a notebook, or pages in a binder. One can also use the notes and journal tools on LDS.org or a note-taking app on an electronic device. “ (CES Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Lesson 3: Learning By the Spirit.)
When I read “pages in a binder” I had a personal “Eureka!” moment. If you’ve ever heard the quote, “Wisdom is common sense to an uncommon degree” (Samuel Coleridge) then this is wisdom of divine origins, at least for me. I’m afraid I’ve found out that bound notebooks, no matter how pretty, turn into a motley collection that does NOT work for me. Throw in school spiral binders, composition notebooks, etc. and no wonder it’s hard to feel inspired to continue or to go back for past inspiration. But common sense now dictates that the easy, obvious answer for the last third of my life lies in the form of a binder … a simple three ring binder that grows into a series of binders that can sit on a shelf. This will be delightful, attractive, tangible evidence and a usable resource that both the Lord and I will look upon with respect and I with deep gratitude. In very practical truth, these three-ring binder study journals will, as Elder Scott says, “communicate to the Lord how I treasure inspiration and enhance the likelihood of receiving further light.”
The more I ponder my three ring binder, the easier it becomes!
With a three ring binder, you can use notebook paper for taking notes anywhere, then insert them in the binder. You can also use the very cool journal and note-taking tools at LDS.org, (don’t miss out on this! It’s REALLY neat!) then print out the entries, punch in holes, and insert them into the binder, and/or get some clear plastic page protectors that have the three holes for the printouts. In addition, page protectors will allow you to add even add any odd-sized paper you might have used for notes. (You can buy a huge box of these at Costco for a very nominal price. They are super handy for odd-sized paper and inserts.)
A three ring binder means that you can print out special talks or articles, then include them, along with your own notes, included in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper. Starting with one three ring binder means that when it is full, you can start another. They will eventually line up nicely on a shelf and be accessible by chronological order. A three ring binder with a pocket in the front cover means that you can study the Ensign’s General Conference edition, take notes in the margins, underline, etc., and then keep that whole magazine right there in that front pocket!
A three ring binder means that you can print out the inspiring things that come your way via e-mails or the internet that make you happy and grateful. (I’ve included a fun one below that is sure to brighten your day and your scripture journal.
From the time I heard that President Hinckley prayed that his family could “live this day without regret” I’ve often included it in our own family prayers. While I do regret my lack of organization for most of my life with recording spiritual impressions from scripture study, prayer etc. what I would regret even more in the future is not making this a priority for the remainder of my life! I’m taking the October 2014 General Conference as an open invitation to change and establishing the necessary tools and habits. The Lord allows U-turns, and so do I! With forgiveness for myself, and the knowledge that He loves me and knows me, I’ve got my first three-ring binder ready to go, and am SO excited for the April 2015 General Conference and to look back on my first six months of experiencing the blessings of a study journal.
If you haven’t done so already, will you join me? And just for fun, here’s a happy entry to include in our new study journals!
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Noah’s Ark (Genesis).
1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all God’s children, and all in the same boat!
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, someone, even God, may ask you to do something really big.
5. Don’t listen to the critics. Just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on higher ground.
7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board, right along with the cheetahs.
9. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success — One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at herwebsite.
She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where she serves as Primary Chorister and joins her husband in teaching Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake CES Institute program.