Thursday, November 26, 2020

2020 - Gratitude Day # 26 - Thanksgiving

 Gratitude Day #26


Today I am grateful for Thanksgiving.

It has never been Turkey Day, or Gobble Day, or anything else. To me, it's Thanksgiving - my most favorite holiday of the entire year. To me, it unites all of the holidays for the year into one - the gratitude I feel for Christmas and Easter, for military and country holidays, for our own birthdays and those of the ones we love.

The entire month causes me to pause and reflect on the great blessings that have been and are part of my life. I could go on posting one each day for the rest of my life and never run out of things to be grateful for.

In times past, Kerry and I drove through the countryside to the shores of Lake Erie to gather at my sister's house. I would often pause my reading and looked around, grateful for the dairy farmers who never get a break, for the sheriffs, police officers and medical workers who would be on hand if we had an accident, for the men and women in our military who are missing their families at home to serve our country.

I reflected back on two meaningful Thanksgivings from years ago that came into my memory today. The first was when son Peter was living in Florida, and was purposely not staying in contact with us. We received word that things were not good with him; so Kerry and I made the decision to drive to the Fort Lauderdale area. We prayed fervently and felt good about our decision, having no idea of what would happen.

We met friend Linda Clark and her two daughters Lisa and Debbie Lupinacci. After searching in areas I would personally never want to return to, she thought she just might know where to find him. She gave us directions, and Kerry and I left.

It was basically a needle park. We sat in our car and looked around nervously for quite awhile, and then...I saw him. I told Kerry to look in a certain direction, and when he did he asked me if I was sure it was him.

Never ask a mom that question.

I jumped out to run toward my gaunt, vacant-eyed, malnourished, stringy-haired, dirty son, calling out his name. He turned with a look of shock on his face. I embraced him, and felt Kerry's arms go around the two of us.

Peter looked at me, and quietly said, "Mom, I'm hungry."

Get in the car and let's go!

We drove back to Linda Clark's apartment, where he ate like he was famished. He likely was. He just could not stop wolfing down that food.

We sat and talked, and asked if he wanted to come home. We made it very clear that there would be no illegal drugs in our home, and that there would be no 1-2-3 chances, then you're out. There would be one chance. I will not go to jail because of the choices of another. He would have until 4:00 pm the next day, for we had to begin our return trip to Ohio.

He was honest, and said he didn't know if he could make that promise, and we respected that. We supplied him with plenty of food, but not one bit of cash. We had already learned that lesson.

Right up until the last few moments, he still could have chosen to come, but in the end he remained in Florida.

Kerry and I felt assurance in our prayer that we would find him, not even beginning to know how it would happen. That unfamiliar metropolitan city is big. But, we had time with our son, and were so grateful that we did.

The second memorable Thanksgiving took place with son Jordan as he served in the military. He was station in Norfolk, VA and had invited us to come to him for the holiday. He arranged for us to stay in very nice housing on base, so off we went.

What a beautiful and tender Thanksgiving it was. Our military members are taken care of quite well, for when we went to enjoy our dinner and all of the fixin's, I stood there with my mouth agape! We haven't seen that amount of food anywhere before! And, it was all good and piping hot, and much of it had been brought in by the local community. It was positively delicious. I was grateful for the good care that was given to our military. I had also flown to be with him when he had surgery, and was aware of that same good care.

So, on this cold, crisp, clear Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for:

My family. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that means more to me than my family. We travel many miles each year to see them, and are grateful that were able to, and that they want us to come.

My home. As I mentioned in a previous post, I live in the most beautiful home in America, and have the most beautiful house.

My country. Oh, my gosh, do I ever love my country. We've survived so many tragedies, and have always recovered. I hope we always can.

My church. I don't get real preachy on FB, but today is a day for me to recognize the goodness that being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been for me. It has brought me to being more Christlike than if I had ever made the effort on my own.

My God. My Eternal Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I have a personal relationship with each of them. When the time comes that I am able to meet them face to face, I hope and pray that I will be able to look upon their face. I hope and pray that I will want to.

So, on this beautiful Thanksgiving evening when my belly and my heart are full, I quietly reflect on my having lived a very good and rich life. There have been bumps along the road, which I prayed would go away.

And, they didn't.

But, my back was made stronger.

I have been writing my gratitude posts for a number of years now, and perhaps they are a bit cheesy. Perhaps they are the same old same old.

Perhaps they are meant for Peggy to remember.

Those of you who have posted in the #givethanks initiative have touched me to my core. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have been invited to show our gratitude to God and perhaps help to heal the world with more positivity. I have even noticed posts from people not of our faith! I thank you, for I know that many of you have had a terrible year. Yet you dug deep and still found the most important things to be thankful for.

PS...I thank you for the times you have asked to be remembered in prayer. Some have been public. Most have been private. And, I have been honored.



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

2020 - Gratitude Day #25 - Missionaries

 Gratitude Day #25

Today I am grateful for missionaries.

Missionaries do hard work. and I am grateful for those who have had a direct impact on the course of my life. There is much sacrifice on their part, and on the part of their families.

In the 1940s, my parents and sisters were living in Logan County, West Virginia when Mom opened the door to two missionaries.



Accepting their call as a missionary to West Virginia, they came ready to preach the gospel. My parents' house was one of the doors they knocked on. When Mom answered the door, she wasn't looking for any church at all; but there was something that resonated in their message.

And, after listening to their teachings over a number of lessons, she made the decision to be baptized, along with my three sisters. Dad wasn't interested at all, so don't bother him with it.

This was in 1948, when women often did the bidding of her husband. Mom was going to do it with or without him. I believe she recognized truth, and saw a way to better her family.

So, in September of that year, she and Fern, Jean, and Betty were baptized. And, it began to change our family forever.

A couple of years later, Dad had moved the family to Ohio for three reasons:

  1. To find a better job.
  2. To secure better education for my sisters.
  3. To make sure there was no Mormon church. (The missionaries had gotten a little too pushy for Dad. Dad would not be pushed in anything.)
Two years later, Dad was baptized. Three years later, I was born.

Mom had her door opened to missionaries all of the years that she could. There were "cottage meetings" in our home, along with great meals.

Years later, another missionary would make an impact in our family - Mr. Kerry. He left his home in 1971 to serve two years in the Delaware/Maryland Mission. It was during that time that the Washington DC temple was under construction. He fell in love with that part of the country, and returned a few months after his release from his mission.


Washington, DC Temple - Kensington, Maryland

Just two years later, I would meet this young man who had remained true to everything he ever taught on his mission. We married eight months later.

Two of our four children also decided to serve missions. Peter answered the call to serve in the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission 1998-2000. I was nervous, for he was our oldest and the first to leave home.

It was a beautiful area, but it was also difficult. After his return, we learned of some of the abuses that go along with missionary work - doors slammed in their faces, beer cans thrown at the spokes of their bicycles, etc. But, he also fell in love with the area, and returned there to live after his return home.
At the  Columbus, Ohio airport - shortly before leaving for the Missionary Training Center.

Son Erik also decided to make application to be a missionary. And when his call came, we rejoiced and danced around!

And then, it hit me hard, and I cried. And, I cried.

He was going to the Russia Samara Mission.

Russia.

When I was growing up, Russia was the enemy. We all knew they were going to "get us", and often did the duck-and-dives under our desks at school. I didn't know how I was going to handle this.

It took pure trust and confidence on my own part to be happy for his call, and to send him off with a cheerful heart. But, we did. And, we were able to join him at the end of his mission to tour throughout some of the cities where he served.

We joined him at the end of his mission in December 2005. It was cold.

Kerry's father served a mission in the Southern States, as well as several of Kerry's siblings, aunts and uncles, and other ancestors. Their service has made a great impact on our family.

So today, I am grateful for the missionary army that has served around the world to bring good news to families. Though things have changed a bit due to the pandemic, there are still ways to serve. And, they are doing it.

So, the next time two young missionaries, male or female, knock on your door, be kind. They are someone's son or daughter. They are someone's brother or sister, or a grandchild.

And, of all of the things they could have chosen to be doing at their young age, they chose to serve.

Oh, and me? Yes, I served one, too! I served two years (2014-2016) as a missionary for the FamilySearch Wiki. I was over the Library and Archives for all 50 states, checking to make sure the information provided was good and credible. Anyone with a desire to do the work can find a place to serve.

Anyone.










Monday, November 23, 2020

2020 - Gratitude Day #23 - Modern Conveniences

 Gratitude Day #23 

Today I am grateful for modern conveniences

I am so grateful that I live during a time when I can walk into a room and flip a switch to have light.

That I can turn a key to start an engine to a car.

That I don't have to chop wood to cook or stay warm. I can turn my furnace up, turn on the oven or cook on the stove top, and even have a baked potato in moments.

I am grateful to be able to stand in a shower and have warm water flow down my head and soothe my shoulders, or to soak and flop around in the tub.

I am grateful for a vacuum cleaner to inhale the dirt that gets carried in.

I'm grateful for windows that keep the elements out, but the beauty in.

I'm grateful that I don't have to grow sheep or cotton to make my own clothing - that I have the luxury of shopping and/or having it delivered. This would include not having to cobble shoes to try to fit my feet.

I'm grateful for warm and cozy bedding that I didn't have to make, although I could. And, if I get really cold I can simply turn on a blanket and be warmer in moments.

I'm grateful for my big digital camera to take beautiful photos that I can see in an instant. I'm also grateful for a cell phone that connects me with my family, and with the world. That I can take a picture of a picture and send it in seconds to my sister.

I'm grateful to be able to mow with my tractor - that I don't have to wield a scythe or have a herd of goats in the yard or the back field. I like goats, but I don't have to depend on them yet.

I'm grateful for grocery stores. I can go into a store and get just about anything I want to eat or make. I don't have to grind the flour - but I can. I don't have to milk a cow or raise chickens. The convenience of being able to have foods from all over the world amazes me, for I can even have it delivered to my front door.

I guess I'm just grateful.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

2020 - Gratitude Day #22 - Traditions and Celebrations

 Gratitude Day #22


Today I am grateful for traditions and celebrations.

I am writing this as I think of an event that was taking place 43 3years ago as I write this - my wedding shower.

Many of my friends at the Washington DC Temple threw a shower to gift me and wish me well on my upcoming marriage. I still have the box of recipes they gave to me, and still use utensils in my kitchen...and, even still use the bath and hand towels! I also have the book of marriage advice they all wrote to me.

I need someone to throw me another shower.

But, that was just what would be the beginning of many traditions and celebrations in our family. Ours was a family that was always looking for a reason.

As I scrolled through some of these photos, I remember the baby blessings (christenings), the baptisms, the birthdays, the graduations, the formal pictures, that slap happy ones, the annual Christmas tree fight, and the last and final picture that would be taken of us on the day we buried my dad in 2002. It would be the last time my little family of six would all gather together as one, for the next time we would be together would be for son Peter's funeral.

We rejoiced as each new baby came into our family.

We cuddled many new family pets.

We cheered when someone was potty-trained.

We clapped when they blew out all of the candles.

Our Christmas mornings were joyful, even for some weary parents who had been up late the night before.

Our family sang together a lot.

Our family cried together a lot.

We had certain "family jokes" that usually got us in trouble. I can remember times when we sat in church when perhaps the speaker made a reference to something, not knowing that it was something that always tickled us at home. The six of us would sit with our heads down, not daring to make eye contact with each other as our shoulders were shaking.

Kerry's Christmas morning consisted of each child opening gifts one at a time - times eleven - so that all could see and admire what had been received.

My house consisted of me ripping through the presents with my parents warning me to not let the wrapping paper get too close to the fireplace.

I don't know how the annual Christmas tree fight began. For some reason, it would start out well, and then someone got offended because someone took their "branch". By the time we got to the end, I was sitting on the couch throwing the ornaments across the room and letting them land wherever they wanted.

I sort of miss the Christmas tree fights.

We made a trip to Utah at least every other year to visit with Kerry's family. It was hard, but I am so happy we did it. The family who lived in the west were not strangers to our kids. (This is why I say it would be difficult to find a family who could travel more inexpensively than we did. We had to. Everyone turned out fine.)

It was also a tradition that we all dressed alike when we were traveling. I was fortunate to either find shirts or make them so that we would be clones of each other. Lots of people just thought it was the cutest thing. But, there was purpose in this tradition - not only did I want to be able to keep my eyes on the kids; I wanted them to be able to find US.

One year at Disneyland, we were all dressed in red shirts. So was every other child in the park that day. However, my eyes kept falling back on to a man with a yellow shirt. After that, I noticed that in most crowds, yellow really stuck out. Soon, I had yellow shirts for all of us.

We cheered at graduations! High school, Basic Training, college...everybody knew their family was cheering and stomping their feet in the stands.

We still cheer from afar. All of the kids call home quite often to talk to us, to tell us of their successes and their family's, to talk over a big decisions that may be coming up, to discuss concerns.

We look back with them over the events of their childhoods. I hope it was happy for them. I'm not real sure how good of a mom I was. But, I hope their memories from all of the events where we clung together, when we held each other up, when we may have been disgusted with someone, and when we did the same thing year after year after year are things that evoke good memories for them.

Traditions and celebrations cause me to reflect. Many are ones that came from the families Kerry and I came from. Some were one we created ourselves.

And, they made me rejoice in family.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

2020 - Gratitude Day #21 - Genealogy Colleagues

 Gratitude day #21

Today I am grateful for my genealogy colleagues.

And I have many! Of the 1700+ Facebook friends that I have, the majority of them are genealogy friends.

The capacity of my own learning has been expanded through knowing these fine people. Their knowledge far exceeds my own, and I am grateful for the times they pointed me in the right direction, gave me information on a new resource, helped me in library and archives, developed websites that hold a tremendous amount of sources, host webinars and podcasts, etc.

That list is neverending.

I must also point out that not all of these colleagues are professional genealogists, or even credentialed. But, they bring their expertise to the table in so many ways. 

Some are friends I have met at conferences or through webinars.

My life has been tremendously enriched - because of you.

And, I am grateful for that.

Friday, November 20, 2020

2020 - Gratitude Day #20 - Faith

 Gratitude day #20

Today I am grateful for my faith.

That includes all aspects of my faith - my Church, my prayers, my scriptures, etc. There really is no end.

Just a few moments ago, I was able to listen to a message from the President of our Church, Russell M. Nelson. This 96 year-old man is an inspiration to all who have met him. Prior to his calling to be a General Authority in the Church, he was a renowned heart and cardio-thoracic surgeon who helped in the development of the heart-lung machine.

He is a man of science. He is a man of God.

He had a special message that was broadcast over several internet venues, such as youtube, Facebook, and the Church's website found here: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng

His message was one of healing that can be found with gratitude, and challenged all of us to express that gratitude over the next seven days throughout social media using the hashtag: #GiveThanks. Then, see if you are a different person at the end of those seven days.

He also encouraged the following:

Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems.

For the next 7 days, turn social media into personal gratitude journal.

Unite in thanking God through daily prayer.

Prayer for the world and everyone in it.

This is something I can do, and am willing to do. Perhaps you have seen my previous gratitude posts. I will keep posting them, and could continue the rest of my days and never run out of things to be thankful for.

So day, President Nelson gave us a prescription to carry on and not be downtrodden, and I intend on doing it.

Just a few days ago, someone gave me one of the highest compliments I have received. I was told that I am a woman of faith - with a capital "F".

I can't recall when I have been so touched.

So, I continue on being grateful in my heart to be able to hear words from the President of our church through the internet.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

2020 = Gratitude Day #19 - Reading

 Gratitude Day #19

Today I am grateful for the ability to read and comprehend.

We are a family of readers. Our house is basically our own library, proudly housing over 30 bookcases filled with volumes of the things we love.

Books have taken us back in time and into the future. Reading has opened our eyes to different perspectives, and helped us understand perhaps why historical figures thought and behaved the way they did.
When all four of our children were very young, we introduced them to their best friend - the library. The six of us spent many cozy and rainy afternoons scattered to its four corners. During the summer reading programs, we took a milk crate with us, and allowed the kids to check out ten books each. That's forty books! Plus, Kerry and I would have our arms full, too! Because the kids were so close in age, they found interest in what their siblings had checked out, too.
Just like my own parents, we never go anywhere without something to read. We never minded waiting while the kids were at sports practices, piano lessons, etc. I also have waited at doctor's offices and hospitals when taking friends for a visit. I always, always have something to read.

Always.

Just a few short weeks ago, I met someone who is not able to read. My heart broke, for I can't imagine going through life depending and trusting someone else to tell me what was written.

However, I was also heartened by a book I just ready recounting a lady from the 1600s who would not sign her "X" to a document. She boldly stated, "I will not sign something I am unable to read.

My parents were readers. Kerry's parents had a vast amount of books in their home.

It comes natural.