"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
July 10, 2013
The Gift that Changed My Life
by Kathryn Grant

One year for Christmas, my dear friend Terri gave me a present. Before I unwrapped it, she explained that the Lord had guided her specifically to get this gift for me. Terri is an amazing woman who seeks with all her heart to live in harmony with the Lord's will, so I took her comment seriously.

Her gift was a devotional set by Nancy Leigh DeMoss that contained an inspirational book called A Place of Quiet Rest, along with a beautiful journal. The book focuses on the blessings of daily devotional time with the Lord, with an emphasis on drawing closer to Him through scripture study.

"Have you ever had the experience," Nancy asks, "of reading a portion of Scripture, only to stop and realize that you have absolutely no idea what you just read? This has happened to me more times than I care to admit." She goes on to share a simple, practical tip for making scripture study more meaningful: Write as you read.

She explains, "As I write down what God is saying to my heart through His Word, the words are lifted off the page and become full of meaning and life to me." (She also reminds readers that this process doesn't have to be difficult or complex. It's not a matter of writing something polished or perfect, but something that is helpful to you.)

One approach Nancy recommends is to write two sentences for each chapter you read: one sentence to summarize the chapter, and another to summarize how the chapter spoke to you. Even this simple exercise can make scripture study more meaningful, and you'll probably find, as I have, that it's hard to stop at just two sentences.

For a more comprehensive approach, Nancy recommends writing your thoughts in three areas:

1. Observations: What is this passage saying?

2. Interpretations: What does it mean?

3. Applications: How can I apply it in my life?

Like many of you, I love the scriptures and have read them regularly for much of my life. But I was amazed at how this approach made my scripture study more meaningful. In the process, I noticed the following benefits:

  • When I know I'm going to write about what I read, I find myself paying more attention and not getting distracted so easily. I'm sure I notice things I wouldn't notice otherwise.

  • I find that I actually learn as I write: writing is a way of thinking things through, of processing insights and discovering more of them.

  • When I have questions about passages I've read, or when I don't understand something, writing helps me refine my questions and discover answers.

  • Writing down my thoughts seems to solidify them -- to make them more memorable, more substantial. I can reread thoughts I've captured in writing, and reinforce the things I've learned.

  • At times, I have felt the Spirit bear witness of the truth of what I'm writing as I write it.

  • Writing helps me notice connections in the scriptures. As an example, here's an excerpt from my scripture journal:

This morning I noticed a connection I'd not made explicitly before. I'm reading 1 Nephi 11 where Nephi sees the vision of the tree of life. We learn that the iron rod symbolizes the word of God, and the tree of life symbolizes the love of God. Well, the iron rod leads to the tree -- which means, the scriptures lead to the love of God. Despite reading this chapter multiple times, I'd never formulated that specific understanding from the vision before. This just goes to show how helpful it is to read the scriptures over and over again.

In addition to enjoying scripture study more, I am learning so much more and making a more focused effort to apply scriptural insights and teachings to my life. I remember the scriptures better and they come to mind when I need them. It's not an exaggeration to say that this practice, learned from a friend's inspired gift, has changed my life. I suspect it will do the same for anyone who tries it.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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