Monday, June 30, 2008

Sharing LDSJournal.com with Friends and Family

This past weekend, I attended an 80th birthday celebration in California for my uncle's father. It was great to be at the event and it's always nice to see family get together and share great times, laughter and tears of joy. While at the event, something really awesome happened to me and I would have never guessed that it would happen at this party.

Let me give you a little back-story. My uncle's name is Carlos. He is a great man and he's been a great influence and friend to me over the years. Carlos comes from a large family and all of his siblings and family members were in attendance. While they are all wonderful people, I didn't think we'd have a whole lot to talk about since most of them were acquaintances in my life. But interestingly enough, many of the people at this party had plenty to talk about since they were users of LDSJournal.com. They told me that they were doing family history for the first time and they asked me where I got the idea. (Admittedly, this was a perfect segue into a discussion about the LDS Church and the importance of journal keeping.) And while that was fun, my time chatting with Carlos' family got me thinking about sharing family history. Everyone was sharing their greatest memories and it was great seeing so much laughter and joy from these moments in each others life.

As much as I am grateful for this service and for the opportunity to share LDSJournal.com with members all around the world, I am equally grateful for many of the lives we touch that are new to learning about the LDS Church. I am always amazed at how sharing a great idea with one person can touch so many lives. Have you had any opportunities to share your journaling experience with others? If so, we'd love to hear about it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The 'Moment of Truth' is almost here

In the coming month, LDSJournal.com will be changing. We'll be making some slight modifications to the service and we'll be launching a new look on the outside of the site. One of the new and exciting sections of LDSJournal.com will be the 'Moment of Truth' comic strip illustrated by Steve Reed, our ever-amazing Art Director at LDSJournal.com.

So, what exactly is the 'Moment of Truth' comic strip going to entail? Well, that's a great question! We intend on having the 'Moment of Truth' represent our members and we're counting on you to make this possible. LDSJournal Members will have the opportunity to submit stories or 'moments' for consideration and LDSJournal.com will bring them to life. (NOTE: Don't worry, these are moments you choose to share with us. We're not reading your journal, so please don't worry about that.)

We're hoping many of you will share your funniest, your most heartfelt, and even some of the craziest moments in your life. Each week we will post a new comic strip along with the user that submitted the idea. Then, at the end of each month, LDSJournal.com will allow members to choose their favorite comic strip. The monthly winner will receive a prize (yet to be determined, but sure to be cool) and will automatically be entered in to the annual 'Moment of Truth' Contest for a chance to win an even greater prize.

Here's an example of the 'Moment of Truth' comic strip that will be sure to get your creative wheels turning. We're sure some of you will be familiar with this comic strip scenario. ;)


We know...it's a little harsh...but funny right? Have you got something better? We're looking forward to your submissions and we're excited to bring more to our members at LDSJournal.com. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On second thought, maybe that wasn't so bad...

I really wish I would have kept a journal when I was going through one of the toughest times in my life. A little over three years ago I got divorced and it was a very difficult time for me emotionally. I struggled with a lot of the feelings I was having and getting past a lot of the hurt I felt seemed insurmountable. I think I also struggled to articulate what exactly was hurting inside and it took me some time to get past the disappointment. I think had I sat down to write how I was feeling, the actual healing process may have taken effect sooner.

I think it would also be interesting to look back on the events that took place three years ago and see how I was feeling and what I was doing. It would also be great to look at how I overcame that personal adversity. Looking back on that time now, it is amazing to see how far I've come and how happy I am today. When I write my entries, I think a lot about the people that will read my journal. I often think about the trials they may have one day and how my experiences might help them be stronger.

I admit, my divorce was hard on me. And I think my journal entries during that time would sound confused, hurt, angry, and very sad. But one of the reasons we created
Afterthoughts in LDSJournal was to allow people to create comments on past journal entries. We feel that each person has a life that is worth recording and something valuable can be learned from all of us. I personally think it would be wonderful to read those entries during that difficult time and comment today about how I overcame those trials to be better. I think I would also comment on how Heavenly Father has a plan and even when things get tough, I should know to put faith in Him.

I hope those of you that are struggling (or thriving) are recording those entries and if you learn any lessons from those events that you will take the time to go back and create an
Afterthought to share insight into your life and your thoughts and feelings. It's one of my favorite features and I hope you like it, too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Using Footnotes to Augment Your Journal Entries

We've been getting a lot of questions from users wanting to add photos or links to their journal entries. If you haven't checked out the Getting Started tutorial, we definitely recommend reviewing the Help Center articles.

You can add photos, hyperlinks, scripture references, and quoted text easily. Currently, there is no way to add audio, video, or documents, but that is coming very soon. Out of curiosity, are there other types of Footnotes you would like to be able to add to your journal entries?

We're playing with the idea of adding 3rd party providers to our list of Footnotes and we think this will give users greater flexibility while making it easier to manage their journal. Let us know what you think.

Birthday's to remember

I think that as we get older we tend to reflect on our life rather than just the past year. Well, at least I seem to reflect more as I get older. I really notice this as members of my family get older. Today is my mom's birthday. I have plenty to write about personally and I'm looking forward to the family time I'm going to get this evening. I love it when we all get a chance to get together to laugh and have a good time. I've recently gotten my brother's into keeping a journal and I'm hoping they record something this evening.

One of my business partners happens to have his birthday today, too. I have to admit, my business partners keep things easy for me since they have birthdays on the same day as various members of my family. So, if I forget a big birthday at work, I really blow it.

With yesterday's Father's Day celebration, there's so much to be thinking about and writing about. I find that when I look back on my journal entries for the past year, I'm really glad that I wrote entries about so many of the events that have taken place in such great detail. I do notice that I tend to write more during special events, holidays, or birthdays. I don't know how I manage to write more when there are so many distractions but perhaps I feel the Spirit and am inspired to write more during those times.

Recently, LDS Living published an article about the "The Good Side of the Internet" and they mentioned many sites and services that can be used to help you record these special events and moments. Lucky for us, LDSJournal.com was also mentioned. Click on the link above to read the full article.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Watching the news can give you perspective...

Have you ever noticed that when you're looking for something specific, or are more aware of something, you can't help but notice it in everything you see or do? For example, my father (who is a retired police officer) would tell me that whenever you're looking for a specific type of vehicle it's amazing how many of them you find. If I was looking for a red Toyota Camry, somehow I'd see more of them than I expected. (Of course, I wouldn't play this game using a black Maserati.) I guess that's why these days, I always see how personal journals can fit into our everyday lives.

Just the other day I was watching CNN and they were reporting on the fires that are threatening the livelihood of hundreds of families. When interviewing the father of one of the families, he commented that when he had a chance to save their possessions he didn't care about material possessions at all. Naturally, he was focused on family history, photos, memoirs, videos, etc. I couldn't help but think about LDSJournal.com and how we're able to shoulder some of that burden and give people peace of mind when it comes to recording their personal and family history. I truly feel blessed for this service and our entire team feels grateful for the opportunity to deliver this service to you.

Our hearts go out to those families that are in need and we pray for all those families dealing with fires and natural disasters and hope that no further tragedies befall them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spreading the word about LDSJournal.com

If you're a member of LDSJournal.com and you haven't seen any of our advertising, there's a chance a family member or friend shared the site with you. If that is the case, give them a hug for us. :)

We've been doing quite a bit of marketing and we've had very good success with various LDS-specific publications. We've also been fortunate enough to have numerous articles written about LDSJournal.com thanks in part to Vanguard Media Group. But to be fair, we have much more success with online properties and that should make sense since we're an online service.

Some of you have been kind enough to link to LDSJournal.com on your blog and have even used the pre-designed site badges on your blogs to help your visitors easily find us. Please accept our sincerest thanks for sharing this service. Our primary objective is to help members get into the journaling habit and any way in which we can help people learn about LDSJournal.com will be considered.

The question I have is are there specific ways in which we can reach members in your area/region/country? Do you recommend specific publications or events/gatherings that LDSJournal.com could participate in or sponsor?

We're hoping to help subsidize the cost of written journals to a number of Stakes for their local Youth Conferences. While a written journal doesn't really help LDSJournal.com, we feel that it is our obligation to help people get into the journaling habit whether offline or online. Hopefully if members choose to go online, they will choose LDSJournal.com.

Please let me know if there is a local publication in your area or an event you think would be good for LDSJournal.com to be involved in.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What Inspires You to Write?

I have to admit that I haven't always been a very good journal keeper. As a matter of fact, I used to get teased about the numerous journals from years past that were started and then left scattered around the house. Fortunately, there wasn't anything too sordid in those journals that I had to worry about someone reading. ;)

Over that past few years I've paid much more attention to journal keeping and how I can use these documents for my posterity. I've thought a lot more about my immediate family and during the past year more about getting married and having a family. I feel like I've done so much in my life already and have failed to record the moments that I almost assuredly won't recall. It's one of the reasons we created the 'All About Me' section in hopes to jog your memory and get you started.

Also, as my parents get older I can't help but think about mortality and I am grateful for the time I do get with them. Admittedly, I admire them more today than when I was younger. I appreciate all the little things they did and I often wonder how they did everything while making it look so easy. I really wish that some of the video footage we have of me and my brothers could flip the camera around and take a good look at my parents. I wish that I had more video footage or audio footage to share with my kids and grandkids. I think a lot about having a written journal from my amazing Mother. She's so smart and witty and I implore her to keep a written journal. I want so much for my posterity to read her words and truly get insight into who she is. She is truly remarkable. I also look at my father as he works hard to stay young. He is a great man and I can't detail enough how lucky I've been to grow up with him as my role model. I doubt I'll ever truly be able to describe how much he has meant to me and our family.

Now I realize that's a little mushy and I get teared-up reading my own words. But it's those types of thoughts that inspire me to do better. It is the thought of losing them and never really being able to share with my family how much they have meant to me and my brothers. I often feel that journal keeping and family history is about knowing where you've come from and learning from others that love you. And while not all journals are meant to be shared in an open forum, I would challenge any of you to think about what you're writing and who you're writing it for. Share your joy, but also share your pain. Use the 'Afterthoughts' feature in LDSJournal.com to comment on past entries to help your posterity learn how you overcame your own challenges.

I think about the talk that President Eyring gave at General Conference on October 8, 2007. He spoke passionately about journal keeping and I will always remember what he said about his sons. "The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, 'Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when . . .' and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day."

Wow! I know that I think about President Eyring's talk when I sit down to write in my journal. I would argue, however, that the challenge many members of LDSJournal.com have is finding something to write about. When speaking with so many members I often hear the same refrain, "I don't really think there was anything worth writing about." And while I want to joke and be a smart-alleck and tell them to do something interesting, I realize that I'm getting an honest and open response and our challenge at LDSJournal is to help inspire you. So, in the near future, we're going to be adding a "Journal Jar" feature that will help to prompt you with random topics on a daily basis. But, before that gets put in place, let me suggest a few things to get the ball rolling:
  1. Write about your family and how appreciative you are of each member.
  2. Write about and recognize the blessings you have in your life.
  3. Write about the challenges you are having and how you are working to overcome them.
  4. Write about events that are coming up and your feelings about those events.
  5. Write about something you want to do and what you need to do to accomplish that goal.
There are so many other ideas to help you get started and perhaps some of you can share what gets you writing. With different holidays and celebratory events coming up, I hope you will take a moment to write. Please share your thoughts and experiences that help you stay on track with your journal keeping.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Better Way to Journal

One of the challenges we face at LDSJournal.com is accommodating all users worldwide. The growth of this service has been staggering and we continue to see growth opportunities in numerous languages, genders, and age groups. During this first year of service, our goals are to help members get into the journaling habit. I know that I have always struggled to stay consistent with my journal keeping and often times I would open my leather-bound journal only to discover that 2 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye and I had nothing to show for it. Because of that experience and countless other similar experiences from our members, we created Reminder Notifications. This feature is one of my favorite features because it really helps me stay on track. I even have reminders sent to my cell phone. Luckily, thousands of members have expressed gratitude for this feature and only a handful of members have sent in messages asking how LDSJournal could possibly know that they haven't written in their journal. :) That one really makes me smile.

But that really got me thinking about our members and our service. Are there any features that you would like to see in LDSJournal that currently are not available? We appreciate all feedback and have been truly lucky to have thousands of members write in to share their thoughts and opinions about LDSJournal.com. We truly are striving to make LDSJournal.com the best online journaling service on the Web and we thank you for helping us along the way.