Studying my blessing has been crucial to understanding it. I've explored how I can use a couple of common computer programs to help me do this, and my goal is to point them out in the event that they can help someone else.
I began in Microsoft Word 2007, using the Comments feature in order to record my insights. To do this, Go to the Review tab, highlight the the word you want to annotate, and click on New Comment. A bubble will appear in the right hand column. Type or paste your insights here. You can also put links in these bubbles. The result will look something like this.
I have found that by picking out important words and phrases in my blessing, and studying how the scriptures have given context to those words, I understand much better that no part of my blessing is common. Our prophets also provide great insight that, when gathered and compared with the scriptures, deepens our appreciation for even the most fundamental aspects of the gospel. These aspects like prayer and scripture study take on new life because we can join them with the vision of our patriarchal blessing, and see how they fit into the larger context of our personal lives and eternal destinies.
As we gather more information and carefully store it in our Word document, it may begin to look something like this:
Which bubble goes to which thought? It gets pretty tangled. When you click on a bubble, it will show you which highlighted phrase is associated with it, which does help. But some reformatting might make this a little easier.
It may take some time, but playing with it will help you to figure out how to set it up just the way you want it. For those of you who dislike reading from a screen, I can't say I blame you. But under this approach, it's easy enough to print what you've gathered every so often--making it simpler and more organized than handwritten annotations.
Another nifty feature which may appeal to some is using the Charts feature to show which words appear the most in your blessing. For those of us with longer blessings, this may be a little harder to figure out. I made a Wordle with mine, then found the top 10 words. Once you have your word counts for the words you want to use, go to the Insert tab and click Charts. Choose the chart you want and enter your data.
When you finish, it'll look something like the following example:
You can change the colors of your charts by double clicking on them and choosing from the options that appear in the tool bar at the top of the document window. You can also change the color of your annotation bubbles by going to the Review tab, clicking the arrow under Track Changes, then Change Tracking Options... and changing the color in the Comments drop down box. The color shown in my examples is Violet.
There are features I like about Microsoft Word, but that isn't the program I use personally. I annotate a PDF of mine in Adobe Reader. I will do a separate post on that program soon.
I know patriarchal blessings provide some of the choicest council from the Lord a person can receive in this life. I know the patriarchs are inspired of God, and I know that my patriarchal blessing is comprised of words straight from the Lord to me. My blessing is mine, it is divine, and I knew that when I received it.
Receiving and understanding our patriarchal blessings protects us from the deception of Satan, which will become a greater need in each of us as these last days bring us closer and closer to our Savior's return. In the holy name through which these blessings come, even Jesus Christ. Amen.