Why I Write…
Why do I write these messages every week? What is it that draws me to this device upon which I type words flowing from my heart and mind, some times like a trickling spring and at others like a raging river? I can tell you the fountain from whence these waters flow originates with our Savior. I am not saying they are His words in purity always, but that I strive to be guided by His Spirit in all, recognizing that any error and the many imperfections are my own. So why do I write?
It all started long ago. I used to write as a small child, literally before I could understandably speak. It was more picture than words, and never having been very adept with a crayon or paintbrush, I cannot imagine that they were very good, nevertheless I remember my mother carefully preserving those things as if they were masterpieces to be treasured. She said that I could one day be writer. That stirred my imagination. Unfortunately, and to my mother’s objections, I took control of those preservation efforts when I was still quite small, thinking to play librarian. They are now lost to time.
As an older child I wrote poetry and short stories. It was fun to write stories of fantasy and fictionalized characters tied to historic events. I wrote most of my poetry about patriotism and to little girls of the same age who stirred my heart, I think by no intention of their own.
When I was a young teenager I decided to write my life history. Having not lived much of a life at that point it was a pretty short history, but it did inspire my brother David upon departure for his missionary service in El Salvador to gift me with a blank journal. I took to writing daily, which I did for the most part through the completion of my own mission for Christ to the people of Paraguay.
In my early teens my father lost his employment for a considerable amount of time, about nine months. We all pulled together as a family doing odd jobs and working on our family farm for support. I grew and sold melons and other vegetables. My dad, an accomplished engineer, with my brothers hired out on the tractor, and even washed dishes at the old Sherwood Inn restaurant near Minkler. Working together with my sisters we took care of the almond orchard and harvested manually as a family, sometimes with the kind assistance of church friends. We made very good use of our family food storage, creating menus from wheat and other dry and canned goods we had on hand. It was brainstorming at the dinner table for ways to make money that my father suggested I write and publish a cookbook from our experiences of that time. I vividly remember excitedly declaring, “I am going to be published!” Fortunately an economic recovery came soon so the cookbook never needed publishing, but it did nourish the seed in me for wanting to write and publish.
Throughout my teenage years I studied the gospel of Jesus Christ in depth on my own, with friends, and in religious services, always carrying my scriptures, earning me the unendearing nickname Scripto from unkind boys. I took a lot of notes, marked a lot of scripture verses, and wrote my understandings of doctrines in notebooks and in the margins of sacred texts. I did not always live the way I should, choose the right things to do, but I have always known the right and I have always known to whom I need to turn to make things right.
“I have always known the right and I have always known to whom I need to turn to make things right.”
Regarding writing, instead of choosing the public administration and political science career in which I received a degree from Fresno State, in the early 90s I chose a field where I could write and became a publisher. I enjoyed the opportunity to serve and influence others for good through writing, particularly for farmers. I love agriculture and the people who serve others by providing food for the world. What better people and cause could I serve in the support of my family?
In my personal writing I have tried to keep a record of the happenings of my life, but with age I have learned, like Nephi of old, that recording the things of God as they relate to my life is the more important work.
In 1999 I was called to serve as a lay minister, as elders quorum president and later high priest group leader in the Peachwood Ward. During the years I served I wrote and mailed monthly messages for church members in my stewardship. I felt the need to reach out to every member regardless of their church activity and let them know that the Lord is mindful of us all. We are all needed and loved, all of God’s children.
When I was called and ordained to be bishop of Gettysburg Ward in 2015 I renewed this commitment sending a message to ward members monthly, over time increasing that frequency. By 2019, and in concert with the Come, Follow Me study program for families and individuals, writing and sharing messages became a weekly endeavor.
Shortly before I concluded my service as bishop in 2020, my son William gifted me for Father’s Day this website that he developed, mypersonalwitness.com. He encouraged me to continue with this weekly blog for my family and friends, and anyone else wishing to read a witness for Christ and His teachings. I have done so every week since that time. Mine is just one voice, but it is a voice for the Savior reaching out to all of God’s children.
In my youthful studies of the Bible’s New Testament, I noted and highlighted a scripture that has long stuck with me. It is a tender and bitter-sweet exchange between Jesus and Peter just hours before His betrayal by Judas and later denial by Peter. They were seated at that table of the last supper where was instituted the sacrament as ordinance, for renewal and remembrance. The Lord cautioned Simon Peter that Satan desired to have him that he may be sifted as wheat. Peter assured Jesus that he would be true to Him, even if necessary unto death. Sorrowfully the Lord had to reveal to Peter that before the sunrise of the coming morning Peter would deny knowing Him three times.
In that tender exchange the Lord said these words to His chief apostle: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). Happily, in the aftermath of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Redeemer, Peter sorrowed unto repentance for his denial, his faith not ultimately failing him. Simon Peter became fully converted, and strengthened his brethren, feeding the Lord’s sheep even unto his own end.
Like so many other followers of Christ I seek in my own conversion to strengthen my children, my brothers and sisters, all children of God. This is why I write. I follow that same admonition as the Lord gave Peter, “…when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” As the Lord proclaimed in these last days in preparation for His glorious second coming, “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:81). That admonition or assignment does not end after the return from missionary service, upon the maturity of one’s children, or the conclusion of some calling. It begins upon conversion, upon being warned one’s self, and does not conclude while there is breath in our lungs to bear witness of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I love writing in any form that may educate, inform or inspire for good. I share my personal witness by spoken and written word because I love the Lord and I love His children. I am an imperfect follower of Jesus Christ, and thanks to His perfect atoning sacrifice and grace I am redeemed, for I have been converted and I have been warned, and as so many have strengthened me I seek to strengthen my brothers and sisters. May we all raise a strengthening and warning voice in word and deed as followers of He who has prayed that our faith fail us not, and gave His every measure, even His last full measure, that we might be saved. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.