Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Can Be a Treasure Too

I've been doing a lot of family history research lately and discovered two gems from Israel Hoyt, my husband's third great-grandfather.  Most histories I've read tell a lot about where they lived and what they did, but I thought it was wonderful to discover two quotes from him.  One, “As long as we have anything, we will divide with our friends” (Israel was the first President of the United Order), and two,  "I have laid the foundation.  I hope you will build on it" (his final words of counsel to his family).

My own great-grandfather, William Henry Wagstaff, received three patriarchal blessings.  "I got my last Patriarchal Blessing – I have three of them – just before I was married. It was given to me by Hyrum G. Smith in Salt Lake. LaVon wanted hers so I went with her and got another one. I told you I was a mean little cuss and needed lots of guidance."
What a treasure!  I read those and feel like I'm really getting to know who they were, more than the he-lived-here-and-worked-here-and-had-these children.  I've read and seen many things in the past several months reminding me to make a record of my life.

It was a blessing to read Randal Wright's book "Make Every Day Meaningful."  His premise is that not only should we be recording experiences from our lives, but that we need to be looking for the lessons we learn from those - every day.  He gives the example of modern technology and how many advances have been made in just the last several years, then asks, "Why then are individuals and families not making progress at the same rapid rate as technology?  Why do so many retain the same weaknesses and make the same mistakes year after year?"  Interesting questions.  Yes, we are all human with our own opportunities to choose, and many of us have to make our own mistakes to learn.  But what if we had family records to look back on, much like scientific records, to see the mistakes and lessons of our ancestors?  I look around at other families all the time and wonder what makes them successful or how they went wrong, but most of the time I can only guess.

Each chapter in the book presents a reason for keeping your record, and uses a variety of wonderful life examples (both Wright's experiences and others from his family and friends).

He includes chapters on:
Seeing the Hand of the Lord in Your Life
The Necessity of Recording Family Stories
Learning Meaningful Lessons from Others
How to Use Your Grand Lessons
A Protection from Serious Mistakes
Overcoming Weaknesses that Limit You
Learn to be Grateful Every Day
Meaningful Lessons are Not Lost
Writing Your Autobiography

I love the chapter "A House of Learning."  He reminds us what an important place of learning the temple is, and how we should be seeking the lessons there, but my favorite part of that chapter was him talking about using the temple as a model for our homes.  He mentions model homes built by home builders with all the best upgrades, and says, "The purpose of models is to show buyers the kind of home they can have if they are willing to pay the price... The temple can be a model home to help us build strong families."  I've thought of my own parallels between our home and the temple before, but Wright really ran with that idea.  That's a chapter I will definitely be looking back on.

Each chapter ends with challenges to practice the lessons taught in that chapter.  I just read it through this time (with loads of underlining), but I plan on going back to review and work on some of the challenges.

One of those is the "Meaningful Lessons are Not Lost" chapter.  For those that have heard of Wright's three word journal method of recording stories in three words that will remind you of the story so you can write it out later, this chapter reviews that and gives a list of about 600 memory cues.  I have looked into buying his out-of-print book "The Three Word Journal," but I haven't found it for a reasonable price, so maybe this chapter makes up for that.

This book has helped me to evaluate my own journaling habits, and yes, I need to step things up.  Wright lays out so many great reasons, both for our personal benefit ourselves and for that of others.

Now, it's just doing it.

By the way, just after reading this, I read through my first two journal which took me from about age 10 through part of junior high.  I realized some journaling habits I did then that I still do that are really annoying (like just writing a scripture reference with no mention of what is there - mean!).  But it was funny to read some of the entries to my 13 year old, and yes, my "don't do's and do do's" probably had a little bit more backing since she could see I had walked some of the same paths that she does.

I received a copy of this for my review.