Forty Years Ago Today

I started writing a personal journal 40 years ago today—April 20, 1976—in the thin blue volume pictured here. It’s all the way to the left.

I had heard the counsel to keep a journal during April 1976 general conference. It took me a few weeks to muster the strength to be obedient.

It was a Tuesday evening. I had bought the blank book earlier at the Ben Franklin in our small, country town in Oregon. I was living and working on our family ranch 12 miles out of town, and was about to graduate from high school. I was 18 years old.

I had been baptized on my birthday just five months before. My parents were starting to be kinder to me after several turbulent months. (They really were not happy that I had joined the Mormon church). I was reading the Book of Mormon every day then, often in large gulps, getting ready to go on a mission the following winter. That day, April 20, was also my mother’s 50th birthday. She died just seven years later. (Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you.)

I am still writing in my journal. It’s become a habit. I am on volume 44, page 7,258, and at approximately 1.5 million words—many of them poorly chosen and awkwardly framed. Much of it is sloppy and hurried. It’s not my finest work. It is many times embarrassing to read, but it is from the heart. It’s an honest record of a flawed man.

Writing a journal has had a profound effect on my life. I am grateful I acted on counsel—and the promptings that followed that counsel. It has been an unimaginable blessing to have in my possession a record of my soul.


4 thoughts on “Forty Years Ago Today

  1. Rozy Lass April 21, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    Wow! Congrats on keeping a journal for so long, no doubt your posterity will love you for it. I was given a journal for my high school graduation in 1975, and although I haven't been as faithful as you seem to have been, I have written fairly regularly over the years. It is a fascinating exercise to go back and read them. When I did that I discovered three constants in my musings. That was comforting to me. Two of which are: I love the gospel of Jesus Christ with all my heart and want to live it to the best of my ability, and, second, I never quite live up to my ideals. So grateful for repentance and the Atonement! Keep up the good work.


  2. Ardis April 23, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    While it's not your primary reason for keeping a journal, as a historian I can't help but envy some historian of the future who gets to examine your record and learn what it was like to be a missionary, a father, a ___ (fill in your callings) in the old days of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. What a resource you're giving to the future!


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