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O Remember, Remember

By Heather Herrick

journalAbout a month ago one of our ward missionaries sent me an email explaining that they are getting ready to launch a missionary blog and asking if I would write down my conversion story for them to post.

I agreed, and though I haven’t started writing it yet, I’ve been thinking a lot about it since then (pre-writing is an important step in the writing process after all). When did I become converted? Can I record it in a way that others will find interesting to read—a way that accurately reflects my love for and feelings about the gospel? Why did they ask me to do this again?

I come from a long line of Mormons. My mom and dad both have pioneers in their genealogy. I was born in Provo, Utah and spent the bulk of my growing up years in Utah Valley surrounded by other members of the church. I went to BYU, served a mission, and then got married in the temple. If we’re talking about story in the Greek drama sense, I haven’t really got one. But I am converted to this gospel. I know it’s true; I love it; I try to share it and live it. So, how have I become converted? What is my story?

Michelle Lehnardt’s essay, Nauvoo in the Summer 2009 issue of Segullah, shares a piece of her conversion. As a young girl and part of a new convert family she took part in a journey to Nauvoo that helped her discover how she fit in to the heritage of Saints. That childhood experience led her to long for involvement in the events surrounding the rebuilding of the Nauvoo temple. Due to life, a new baby, all the demands of her growing family, she was unable to be there, disappointment and frustration were her companions until the week of the dedication. She writes, “I was doing the usual evening routine of putting the kids to bed. They laughed in the tub, chased each other in the hallway, and fought over the toothpaste. As I sat on the floor drinking in baby’s freshly bathed head on my shoulder and my beautiful boys leap-frogging over my legs, I was struck with profound joy. This is where I was supposed to be—this is what I needed to be doing. . . I laughed out loud in jubilation as every blessing, both spiritual and physical, flickered through my mind. I didn’t have to fight for a place in the kingdom. Christ had opened the gate, and taking His name at baptism secured my divine genealogy. I had enough. I was enough. “

When I re-read this in preparing to write today it helped me remember, dramatic or not, I do have a conversion story. It is made up of moments like this, when the Spirit brings to mind my blessings, the surety of the Gospel, the covenants I’ve made and how God is fully keeping his covenants to me. A couple of years ago, President Eyring spoke in general conference. He said, “’O remember, remember’,” Book of Mormon prophets often implored. My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness.” (Ensign, Nov. 2007, “O Remember, Remember”.) He told us that as he was raising his children he kept a journal and before he would write he would ponder the question, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” Then he would write it down. He said, “I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.” As Michelle concludes her essay she says of her children, “I’ll teach them to look for the Spirit, not just in the grand venues, but in the hallways and fields and corners of their lives.” If we all do that, and follow President Eyring’s counsel as well, we will remember. We will know our divine genealogy and God’s kindness and when someone asks us to write our conversion story, we’ll have something to share.

What helps you remember God’s kindness?
If you keep a journal, how do you keep that habit up?
Tell us about your conversion if you like.

About Heather Herrick

Heather currently lives in the center of the universe (she’s not being egotistical, it’s true—ask any other New Yorker). She loves NYC, but misses the mountains of Utah where she grew up. Heather and her husband are glad that the baby from her poem now sleeps alone; baby two spoils her mama by having the cutest dimple ever, and hopefully will not become a kicker like her sister.

23 thoughts on “O Remember, Remember”

  1. Before kids I used to be a stellar journal keeper. Now it's a battle to make an attempt now and then. My blog is sometimes a family scrapbook, sometimes a place for pondering and reflection–more like a journal. Sometimes I write in my scripture/ talk notebook, sometimes directly in my scriptures. Regardless of form or location, it is in writing that I am able to make the connections to remember God's tender mercies for me.

    In this time of ramped up service for our family, I love the advice of a friend. She said, instead of complaining that daddy is always at church, try and find the positive, talk about the blessings that our family has because daddy gets to serve at this time. It is not easy, but it is key and I find that drawing my children's attention to reasons for our gratitude, the source of all our strength, whether it be through my prayers in their presence, or FHE lessons or teaching times on the way home from school as we discuss why dad won't be home again tonight, that I am following 2 Ne 25:26–helping my children to know "where they may look" both for the remission of the their sins but for their support, sustenance and for their own conversion.

    I was raised in a faithful Latter-day Saint home and I have been blessed with a believing heart. I cannot remember a time when I did not know, but that said, each day, each trial in which I am able to hold tight to that testimony strengthens it. Seeing and recording the tender mercies bestowed upon me and my family helps me to keep singing that song of redeeming love that Alma talks about.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing those great thoughts Angie. I too have to write in order to remember and scriptures are such an important way to help me get through the things that can bog me down.

    I love what you said about holding tight to your testimony through your trials strengthening it.

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  3. As the crush of motherhood has increased in the last few years I have become lax in my journal writing, but even as the crush has increased in intensity so have the blessings and evidence of the the Lord's love and hand in my life I need to take time to remember and record. For my sake and my children's.

    I have had experiences like you referenced when the Spirit is tangibly testifying that I doing what the Lord would have me do right now. Which is interesting because of the bumbling way I ended up where I am where I am. None the less I think that when we I was ready to offer up my heart the Lord, He seemed to be ready able to use all my experiences for my good and His purposes even my bumbling ones.

    I do have a conversion story but it is not a simple one, I feel compelled to record it in part because it may very well be the only parental conversion story my children will ever experience it is important that I impart that to my children. I am their tie to the kingdom. I need to not let that tie grow tenuous in my life and I need to do as much as I can cultivate and strengthen that tie in theirs. My husband is not a member of the church but strange as it is he is descended from our history. There were two sisters one who converted and came west and one that did not. He is lays claim to the one who did not convert. I feel to help cultivate love of those in his history in our children. Mine is a tie by marriage but theirs is a tie by blood.

    I had a very profound witness when the Nauvoo temple was announced several years ago in General Conference. A warm, wonderful, powerful wave of the Spirit washed over me. I wanted so badly to go to the temple open house. Like a hunger. Since I am not endowed I knew it might be my only chance to temporary be a part of the witness that I received. Then as the construction was progressing, I found out I was pregnant with my fifth child my first boy. I had planned it all out and now, well now I would be delivering a little baby smack dab in the middle of all that. A road trip was out of the question. Even if I delieved in enough time I knew that the effort required to corrodiante a visit would be impossible since I would need to be the driving force and I not capable of driving any agenda for months after delievering a child.

    In my lament of this fact the Lord was there. Letting me know that it was ok. That baring this little child at this time was what I needed to be about. There is still some sadness at missing that experience and more importantly missing the chance to share it with my older children, but I knew that the Lord had other plans and that made it ok.

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  4. I have just started keeping this type of journal this year. It's been a tough year, but as I have sought the Lord and his comfort and direction, I have been overwhelmed with his love, peace, and tender mercies. My journal entries are a series of ups and downs; one trial entry followed by a blessings entry seems to be the norm. God has poured out his blessings and love on me throughout this year. He has not taken the difficulties and hard times away. He has sent me comfort, direction, and love to help me make it through.

    I used to (mostly in my single days) keep your typical handwritten journals, detailing my daily schedules and happenings. My journal entries since I've been married and had kids (13.5 years) have been completely pathetic. You know, where the entry starts off, "Wow, it's been a long time since I wrote. Since the last entry I've had another baby, and he is now 2 years old." But over the last 10 years, I've been into emailing, and started putting "journal-y" emails I'd sent to family and friends into a separate "journalling" folder in my email program, thinking that someday I'll print them off and put them in a binder. (Not holding my breath on that one!)

    My current journal is not handwritten. I sit down and type up entries on my computer, print it off right away in a font that fits my mood, and then delete it. It ends up being once every week or two that I add an entry. I also will print off emails or Facebook stuff to put in my journal (and this post will also be printed off and added to my journal). If I've already written a journal-y email to someone, I don't try to rewrite it into a journal entry. I just print it off, 3-hole punch it, and put it in my journal binder.

    Being able to look back through my entries throughout this year has been one of my biggest helps through the hard times. When I can look back and see that everytime I've had a down trough, it has been followed by a powerful manifestation of God's hand in my life, I am assured that if I look, I will *always* see God's hand in my life because it *is* always there. The priesthood blessings I've been given this year are now "good" for more than those few minutes that they were given in, as I can review what I was told in those blessings (based on what I remembered shortly after the blessing), and basically "renew" them. My journal this year has also helped me to sort through the issues I'm dealing with. It helps me to think it all through and then put it down in black and white.

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  5. Temporally not temporary in the 4th paragraph… What the heck I wrote four paragraphs. Can I not say anything with less than for paragraphs, I guess at least it is not ten, well at least not this time. 🙂

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  6. That talk of President Eyring's really struck me hard at the time. I am already a big journal keeper, but I'm not sure that I had realized the importance of looking for and pointing out to my children the specific times and places where the Lord has interacted with our lives. I am trying to do that more consciously now in my writing.

    I have also been making books of my blog every 100 posts or so, so that my children can have another record of my day by day reflections on life, the living of it, and the gospel.

    I sure wish I had these kinds of records from my parents and grandparents, and I hope it will be a gift to those who come after me.

    =)

    PS. Your questions:
    What makes me remember God's kindness? The beauty of nature. And special moments with my family.
    How do I remember to journal? I am pretty driven to write as part of my process, so this one is not hard for me. However, making sure that I am looking for those interactions with the divine is something I am concentrating on more these days.
    My conversion story? I've always had a strong testimony of the gospel. I remember, when I was confirmed at age 8, shaking hands with all the men in the circle around me and saying to myself, They all think I'm a little girl with a little girl's understanding of this, but I know what's happening here. That wasn't the thought word for word, but that was the gist of it. I was very much in touch with where I came from, who I was, and were I was going. This has remained quite a blessing in my life.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

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  7. I like this post. I have a similar conversion story – or rather, series of stories. In my life, my conversion is more of a cumulative set of experiences – rather than singular experience.

    I also really like your question –
    What helps you remember God's kindnesses? Of course, it's easy to say – the trees, my children, etc. But it's more than that – recognizing these blessings as God's kindnesses is what helps me to remember.

    It seems like taking the time to be grateful makes me feel even more grateful (an upward spiral!) 🙂

    Thanks for the post.

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  8. Journals…a topic near and dear to me. My writing has changed through the years. In college I wrote a personal journal. But since having kids and traveling around the world, changing countries every two years or so, I now write a weekly letter (which I do send "home") for our children. At the end of each place we live I publish those letters into a book (www.lulu.com) for our kids to have in the future. It is important, especially at the young age they are at, for them to know where they lived, what they did. Remember, remember…

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  9. A few years ago I started writing in a journal as part of my scripture study process. I start with the date and just write some thoughts of the day and record my scripture reading for that day.

    Now I can't imagine not writing every day. Sometimes it's just the date and what scripture I read that day, and somedays it's pages of thoughts and feelings that come tumbling out on the page. I always bring my journal to church meetings and write things I want to remember from that meeting, or what the Spirit whispered to me personally.

    I love being able to go back and REMEMBER feelings and inspirations I have been blessed with.

    Also, I kept a journal for each of my children when they were babies. Not extensive, probably only wrote once a month or so. But my oldest daughter, who's 31 now, says it's one of her treasures and she keeps it with her scriptures and refers to it often. That makes me happy!

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  10. Thanks for the great review, Heather.

    I'll echo everyone else– write, write, write. I am always humbled when I go back and read about God's kindnesses to me and amazed at how quickly they pile up!

    I still suffer from "spiritual envy" at times but I know God will give me all the experiences I need.

    And Dovie! Our stories are so similar! The desire to go to Nauvoo, 5th baby and the sweet assurance that God watches over us.

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  11. I have off and on times with my personal journal. I used to have an excellent nightly process that included writing in my journal, but life got busy and I excused myself out of it. However, President Eyring's talk invited me to start over.
    Like Janet, I am keeping a journal for my kids. I detail the pregnancy and the first year. If I want to continue, I will. I find this very rewarding as it helps me truly remember God's kindnesses in my life. Especially when I am pregnant.

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  12. Heather, this was a perfect article review because it encouraged me to reread Michelle's lovely essay. I got to attend the Nauvoo temple dedication with my three children which was a tender mercy during a very challenging period in my life. I remember that kindness in great detail because I recorded the experience in my journal. As my memory deteriorates due to age, I am so grateful that I've kept journals, because I can recapture many of the Lord's blessings in my life.

    I appreciate President Marion G. Romney's conversion commentary: "In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.” Working towards that level of conversion is a story that can't be captured in a quick comment! Thanks for such a thoughtful post…

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  13. Blogging has actually compelled me to start journaling again, because sometimes there are things a little too personal to share there (hard to believe) or discussions on other blogs spark things I want to write down and keep. I was a faithful journal keeper for most of junior high/high school through my first year of college. Then things became sporadic; I wasn't even a very great journal keeper on my mission and I honestly regret that. At the time it was hard to believe that after ten years I would start forgeting names and things, but it does happen. This sort of realization is what keeps me coming back to my personal journal, although it's sporadic as well. Some if it is also probably not best for my children to read either, but it helps me. I finally started keeping a personal journal on a computer a few years ago and just giving myself 'permission' to do that has been a big help because typing is so much easier for me. My journal and my blog have been a great way for me to remember God's kindnesses because I try and write down the little details as they happen.

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  14. I used to write one thing I was grateful for at the beginning of each journal entry. I really ought to start that again.

    My conversion has also been a series of moments in which Divinity just distilled into my mind very clearly. Thanks for this great reminder!

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  15. Michelle's essay moved me so much. Your review brings all that back, and adds other wonderful thoughts. Thank you.

    Angie F, I cannot pick up an acid-free pen without picturing you writing away in your journal.

    The irony of life is that often when you are the busiest, having the most to record, it's the hardest to find the time. I was pretty awful for those first years when babies were small; especially because of an admonition in my patriarchal blessing to keep a record, I have tried to continue. I sometimes will sacrifice a little sleep to do it.

    Blogging has also helped me; I call my blog a version of my 'small plates' because I mostly capture spiritual thoughts and insights that have been meaningful in my life.

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  16. Heather – Thank you so much for this much needed reminder!

    Thanks to Adam, and Abraham, Moses, and Nephi,
    And Joseph, and Esther, and Ruth,
    We've a whole shelf of books we can turn to for peace,
    Adding their testimonies of truth.
    Thank Isaiah, and Matthew, dear Mark, Luke, and John,
    For bringing the Savior more near!
    When we read through their pages, though rough be our way,
    We can know what He'd do were He here.

    When things get dark, as they sometimes do,
    And we can't see the light up ahead,
    When our lives overflow with doubt and fear,
    And our poor hearts are weighed down with dread,
    Can we pull from a shelf our own book filled with light,
    With memories of times God helped us through?
    Can we draw from its pages the strength that we need,
    And remember the Gospel's still true?

    "O remember, remember,"
    And write it all down
    For those days when the darkness returns.
    So those truths can ignite
    Your heart's faith once again,
    And you can feel God's love deep in you burn!

    — H. Lue

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  17. When I was four my my would come into my room before bed time and ask me about my day. She would then write down four or five sentences about my day and have me sign the journal entry. Sometimes she would simply write me a quick note telling me that she loved me. I am so grateful for that she did this! The journal habit stuck with me (I'm now 36), and now I have boxes of journals.

    Journaling helps me remember the "tender mercies" that I receive. It also helps me relieve stress and figure out how I feel about my life. Sometimes I don't see how the Lord is blessing me until months (or years) later when I go back and re-read some of my previous journal entries. It is then that I am able to see the miracles in my life.

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  18. A lot of responses were about journaling. I am a horrible journal keeper. I do however have an amazing
    conversion story.
    I was born Catholic and raised in New England. I went to church in dresses every Sunday as a kid. Some of the things they taught never made sense. When I was a kid whenever anything really good happened I would feel this warm tingling feeling through my body. I was known to say to others, "Did you feel that?" My younger sister thought I was crazy. I thought I was special. When my parents divorced sometimes we wouldn't see my Dad for weeks. Somedays I would say, "I wish my dad would come by and take us for icecream!" Then he would show up out of the blue and take us. My friend thought I had a gift. I thought I was special. My life went on that way till I finished highschool, then I went through a rough year. In that time frame one of my friends from school investigated and joined the church. She had never gone to church before but she would say things like, She knew her church was true. I thought she was crazy. Still I was curious about this new church she went to and I really wanted her to invite me.
    Over the summer my friend went to BYU, she came home for the two weeks between summer and fall. One night we all went to the beach the moon was huge and red and we all talked about revelations and the end of the world. The next day my friend invited me to go to the Vineyard with her and some people from her church, I said I would. Her friends were a group of missionaries. We spent the whole day together with members it was really fun and at the end of the day we watched a movie. It was really good and I got that tingling feeling. After the movie the missionaries invited me to read some chapters in the Book of Mormon I agreed and made a plan to go to church the next day.
    When I got home I read the chapters and then I started from the beginning of the book. The next day I went to church and had a great time. Everyone was so friendly. That night they taught me the first discussion. When we talked about The Holy Ghost I got the same feeling I always got and knew exactly what they were talking about. Over the next two weeks I met with the Elders several times and finished the Book of Mormon. The missionaries invited me to pray about the Book of Mormon and to be baptized after our second visit. I thought they were crazy, I was Catholic and my mother would never let me join another church. I didn't even consider the possibillity. However, I continued to take the discussions. When they taught me about the apostasy it made perfect sence. I really felt everything they were telling me was true. Infact, I had a terrible habit of smoking and one day after the discussion about the word of wisdom, I just threw the pack of cigarettes away and never smoked again. Towards the end of the disscussions out of the blue one night my Mom asked me if I was going to Join that church? I was quick to respond "What do you mean?" She said, "You just seem so happy!" I said, "What do you think about it?" She said, "As long as you believe in God and Jesus I'm fine with it!" so I just said, "I think I might!" Then she said she thought I should go talk to a priest before I made up my mind. She made me an appointment for the next day.
    Nervously the next day I walked up to my church and met with the priest. He was very nice and we had a long talk about my intentions. In the end he said I should give my church more of a chance and then he blessed me that I would make the right decision. My heart skipped all the way home. I locked myself in the bathroom and prayed about all the things the missionaries had taught me, about the Book of Mormon and if I should be baptized. I knew immediately that it was all true. I felt so happy I called the missionaries and left a message I would be baptized as soon as possible.
    The day of my baptism was amazing I remember the moment I recieved the Gift of the Holy Ghost the most because I just couldn't stop shaking.
    This was only the first moment of my conversion, over the last 19 years my testimony has grown line upon line about each and every part of the gosple of Jesus Christ. In end I learned I was special, I was a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loved me and that the Holy ghost could be my constant companion. It has been a wonderful blessing to have found the church and I can say I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is true and I like to say it, In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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  19. Thsnks so much for sharing, April!
    Our son is on a mission right now, and hearing people's conversion stories is a sweet reminder of the importance of work he's doing!

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  20. I feel God's kindness and reality in every sticky hug of my children, every timely phone call from a friend, every colorful sunset, every pain-free moment in my body, every bite of a ripe peach, every strain of a beautiful song, and so many other magic moments.

    This is a very tender topic for me right now, because two siblings recently announced that they are no longer active and that they never had a testimony. I'm not really sure how to respond other than assuring them of my love no matter what they decide. I only hope the road they choose won't be too difficult.

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  21. Merry Michelle —
    Remember the love and care the Lord has for the sheep that wander.
    Remember that many of the scripture prophets had family members who strayed, and many who returned!
    My heart knows your sorrow — and so does Heavenly Father! Remember, 1/3 of His children turned their backs on Him before they even left the pre-existence! And think of all those who wander now.
    And yet, His arms are outstretched still!!!

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