What’s in a name? I start with this simple question because the answer is both surprising and significant, and it may change your life. I remember a story told about President George Albert Smith:

When President Smith was young, his deceased grandfather George A. Smith appeared to him in a dream and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” The young Joseph saw his entire life pass through his mind. Then President Smith responded, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”

Strangely, I also yearn for the chance to say these words to my namesake. When I have faced challenges in my life, I definitely took more time to see how my predecessors handled similar situations. My father passed away 8 years ago this month. His life and the experiences which he endured have helped illuminate my life’s opportunities. How grateful I am that he kept a journal and compiled his words and stories for me and my posterity to ponder and apply to our own lives.

When I awoke this morning, I was reflecting on something my dad wrote in his journal:

“I know my Grandpa Stucki very well because he wrote a journal that told much of his life’s experiences. I am so grateful for that. If I were to lose everything I had, and could only save a couple things, I’d grab my scriptures and John S Stucki’s Journal. It means that much to me.”

When I first read those words, I thought that I wish I could have asked my dad why. “Why is Grandpa John’s journal so important to you?” Over the course of my calling in family history, particularly this last year, I have come to realize the answer to my question. Such has been the blessing of the events of this last year. While my efforts alone have been feeble and ineffective, the Lord brought much good to pass in the area of family history and temple work. As we endeavor to participate in this work, the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ have become very apparent and bounteous in our lives.

pictures-of-jesus-smiling-1138511-galleryI have been reading recently in 3rd Nephi. This is definitely one of my favorite books of scripture in all of sacred writ for many reasons. The Savior shows such compassion for the people and speaks words that “cannot be written”. I try to imagine what it would have been like to have been there. In chapter 23, He makes some comments that perhaps I never have fully appreciated until now, because I don’t think I understood their importance previously.

He asks to examine their records and then comments that He commanded Samuel the Lamanite to testify of Him following His resurrection when many saints arose from the dead and appeared unto others. He asks “Was it not so?”

His disciples answer Him ‘yes’, then Jesus asks “Why is it you have not written these things?” When Nephi remembers that these experiences had not been written, he then made sure they were documented as the Lord commanded. That was an epiphany for me! We have these wonderful experiences in life not just for ourselves but also that we may testify to others of the good the Lord has done through His resurrection and reality of Him in our lives. That is our responsibility and blessing.

We all do that in our own way. One may testify through pen and ink, or perhaps more accurately computer and pixels on a monitor. You may bear witness though your life and example. Others have artistic gifts through which they witness of God. Still others use music, song, or voice. Sometimes I am blown away at the turn of a phrase in the speeches of the brethren.

As we make Christ the center of our lives, our fears will be replaced with the courage of our convictions. – Thomas S Monson

It’s like a beautiful symphony that takes your breath away. The notes and melody continue with us long after the instruments have been placed back in their cases and the artists have returned to their homes. If you have never had the chance to sit at the feet of the conductor in a concert hall during the climax of a symphony orchestra performance, you may not know what I am articulating. An analogy comes to mind that you may understand.

Think of the last time you went high into the mountains and saw the sun rise at the break of day on a clear morning with blue sky and billowing clouds. The rays of the sun shoot in every direction and the majesty cannot be expressed in a description or even a picture. It’s beyond words. This happens in the mountains, on the seashore, in waving fields of wheat, or in countless other places and situations, then why not also in our lives?

The Savior Jesus Christ created all things to enable us to feel a culmination of joy and reach our ultimate potential. It’s no wonder to me that He desires that we be involved in His work of giving all men on both sides of the veil this opportunity and documenting our journey as we testify of Him.

Mormon men

To read more of Walter’s articles, click the picture.

Prophets of old engraved their messages on precious metals, and our forefathers used pen and ink. Today blogs, websites, social media, videos and more enshrine our testimonies in perpetuity.

Compose your appreciation in whatever medium you prefer, but start today. It will change your life.

You may not know why until you try, and then you will never forget.

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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