Friday, November 30, 2018

Gratitude Day #30 - Mr. Kerry and Marriage

Gratitude Day #30

You know that I'm saving the best for last.

Today I am grateful beyond words for Mr. Kerry. And, the reason I save him for last is because tomorrow is our 41st wedding anniversary.

Yay for us -- 41 years!!!

I didn't much like Kerry when we first met and began dating. He was alright; but I was just sure that each date would be our last. There had to be something better.

My parents had moved to Kensington, MD to begin working in the Washington DC Temple in 1976. Kerry had begun working there when it was first built, and had seen it under construction during his mission in the area 1971-1973.

In early 1977 I was invited to come and work there, too. I moved there April 14.

I began working at the Temple April 15.

I met Kerry April 16.

There was a full working cafeteria in the basement, and I hadn't had a chance to hem up my long white dress. I walked past his table, and fell flat on my face.

He found where I lived after about two weeks, and asked me out. That date was okay, but nothing to swoon over. Then, he asked again...and again...and again...

One night in June, we were at my parents' watching "Rich Man Poor Man", and he just kept hanging around. We both had to be at work early the next morning, and he needed to go home. I sat there holding one eye open, letting the other eye sleep for awhile. Then, I would switch.

I finally got up and went into the bathroom. When I came back, he was kneeling by the couch praying. When he finished, I walked into the room.

He hemmed and hawed.

Then, he asked me to be his wife.

I had to hold my face together, and said I would have to think about it.

A week went by. Finally, my dad asked me if I had given him an answer yet. No.

He asked how long I was going to make him wait. I don't know.

He said, "Peggy, you need to think long and hard about this. He's a fine boy. And, how many people do you think would be willing to live with YOU?"

Oh, alright.

I thought about it. I weighed the pros and cons. I decided on yes, and it felt right.

But, I didn't love him.

The planning began, and as we got closer to the date of December 1, I realized that he really was a good man, and had come from a really good family. And, I needed to realize that perhaps my parents had seen something in him that I hadn't seen.

We married on a drizzly December day, and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life -- the right person at the right time in the right place.

Kerry is the best person I have ever met and known in my entire life. We are smitten with each other -- even after 41 years. When we've been apart even for a little while, it's like we've been apart for months.

When I was younger, I didn't have enough sense to:
1. Look for a man who would change diapers right along beside me.
2. Be up past midnight helping me finish up cleaning and canning a bushel of pears or apricots.
3. Continually bring his family together for family prayer, and pack the family up to bring us to church; sitting with us and singing at the top of his lungs.
4. Look for a man who loved God more than he loved me.

Kerry is the type of person who is good when no one is looking; pure integrity.

Recently, he was sitting beside me watching "The Wizard of Oz" twice in the same night from beginning to end. We all know what happens at the end of that movie when Dorothy is proclaiming, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

Kerry's tears are falling down his face and falling on to his shirt. He's also laughing at the same time.

That night, a FB friend chided me for posting that. Trust me...Kerry's name is perfectly safe with me. It's a tender part of his persona that we giggle at. And, he doesn't mind he knows it.

You will never, ever hear me say anything bad about him. I weary of both men and women who gripe and complain about their spouse. doesn't make them look bad. It makes you look like you didn't have enough sense to choose someone better. If Kerry and I have something to discuss and deal with, there are only two people who will know about it. Us.

I hear his prayers as he petitions the Lord for the safety and protection of his children, and for us.

I hear him pour out his gratitude in prayer for the blessings we both have been given.

And, I rejoice when he picks me up from the airport and embraces me in his big wingspan.

This man is a good, good man...the best person that has ever been in my life. If I had not married him, it would have been the single biggest mistake of my life.

I will always be grateful that the Lord allowed our paths to cross...a young man from CA who moved to UT, and met a girl from OH in DC. It was meant to happen.

And, I know that.

So, this finishes off another month of gratitude posts for Miss Peggy, though I could post one every single day the rest of my life and never be finished.

My heart is filled with gratitude at all times, in all things, and in all places.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Gratitude Day #29 - Opportunities for Education

Gratitude Day #29

Today I am grateful for the many avenues that I have had for the education of my own self.

I was born to learn. I thirst in learning about new things! I feel that every single day affords me a new opportunity to learn about new things, to internalize them, and to apply them to my life.

Our house has always been a library. There are approximately 20+ bookcases filling our home. These books are my wealth. If I could never leave my home again, I would not cease to learn.

The homes that both Kerry and I were raised in were also libraries. In his childhood home, there was an entire library on the mezzanine of his parents' upper floor. I loved to go in there and curl up with a quilt to read books we didn't have in our own library.

My parents always had a book in their hands. There was always classical music (long haired) music that my dad loved that was part of that library. They didn't have a good chance for education, due to the time period and location they lived in. Mom finished 8th grade; dad went to 6th grade, but spent three years in the fourth grade.

When we married, our libraries blended together with very few duplicates.

I did not have the opportunity for formal education. My life was spent in raising a family. And, I never really pursued it, for I felt I probably wouldn't make it. When I worked at the University of Akron, I had the opportunity to take any classes I wanted to for free. I took one -- harmonica -- from a man that used to play with Freddy and the Fendercats. Now I don't have enough breath to even begin to blow into one.

I did take one class on Ohio history at the Ohio State University. I needed to hone my skills on Ohio's history for the many researchers who ask me about it. This man took us clear back to the glaciers. I didn't need to go back that far...

So, I have educated my own self. I have tried to take advantage of every possibility to learn something that may come into my path. And, when I teach, I learn - probably more than anyone else in the room.

Kerry and I love to visit historical sites, and have stopped and learned from dozens of people all across the country. We have refreshed ourselves on our trips as we journey on trails, along rivers, over mountain passes, by oceans, etc.

When we traveled as a family, we would stop at a battlefield, or historical location. Kerry would tell the kids what happened there; I would talk about the ancestors who served or lived in the area. Then, when they studied about it in school it became more real, and they could connect.

One of our favorite activities as a family was to pile into the van and go to the library on a rainy, drizzly day. I told the kids they could each check out ten books. That's forty books! We hauled them home in milk crates, only to return the following week.

So, I'm going to make it a goal to do as Kerry's father advised; to always keep my mind active and learning. He was a good example of that, right up until his last days.

I will do what his mother set the perfect example of; to watch people in action and learn from their skills. She could do anything.

To do what my dad quietly set the example of; to expand his mind at every opportunity. Dad always, always had a book in his hands.

To do what my mom counseled; that there are opportunities and blessings on every turn that can help us help ourselves. Learn to recognize them, and be grateful that person, or that book, or that class was put in your pathway.

To continue on with what Mr. Kerry does; to keep a running journal (24 volumes!) to record his impressions and notes from meetings he has been in, lessons he has learned, and events he doesn't want to forget. He has handwritten over 4500 pages.

And, my advice to my own self; that when I am speaking at a conference, recognize the tremendous gift I have been given -- to attend every class I can. It is another opportunity for learning. Another opportunity for growth.

No, I am not formally educated. But, I am filled with knowledge and experience. And, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to expand my knowledge; that my brain and my intellect have been functional and capable of learning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Gratitude Day #28 - 2018 - The Four Seasons

Gratitude Day #28

Today I am grateful for the four seasons.

No, not the singing group. Well yes, I do like them. But, that's not what I'm talking about.

I love living in an area where we have the joyful experience of sweet smelling springtimes, playful summertimes, the crunch of autumn, and hunkering down for the winter cold.

It would be difficult for me to live where it is either cold and dark, or warm and balmy all the time. I have experienced a sampling of that when:

1. We visited Russia. The sun didn't come up until 9:00 am, and by 4:00 pm, it was pitch black again. That would make for a very long night.

2. I have visited my sisters several times in the winter when they owned homes in Florida. No...I don't think I could get used to a hot Christmas or a decorated palm tree. We were also in Mexico during late fall/early winter. Christmas decorations were out, and I was sweating.

Now, this is me. I am pure Ohioan, so I am used to the change in seasons. I look forward to it. They each have their beauty, and their aggravating times, too.

I love springtime in Ohio -- because there is a "greening" of the fields and the woodlands that is not duplicated at any other time of the year. It is fresh and vibrant, and brings the earth alive. The songbirds wake us up as we begin sleeping with our windows open.

I love summertime in Ohio -- because Ohio is a playground. There are lakes and streams, hills to hike, trails to explore, and the sound of tree frogs and cicadas that sing us to sleep at night.

I love autumn in Ohio -- because the hills and the forests look like they're ablaze! Oh, they are so beautiful! And, when I walk through our yard, or at local parks, or even just out to our mailbox, there is that beautiful crunch under our boots as the earth is being put to sleep again.

I love winter in Ohio -- because we live in the country, and our snow is "clean". I can't stand dirty, black snow from scads of traffic. I love the smells of winter; the pine boughs, the candles burning, good food that is simmering on the stove or baking in the oven. Nestling down under blankets with a good book is one of my deepest joys.

I can find good in just about everything I see, because that is what I look for. Mom told me if I look for bad, I will certainly find it. If I look for good, there's plenty more of that.

So, tonight I am nestled in my warm home with a blanket on my lap, a candle burning close by, a computer on my lap, and a husband softly snoring. He will leave shortly for the Family History Center while I nurse broken toes.

It's a perfect evening.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gratitude Day #27 - 2018 - Military Ancestors

Gratitude Day #27

Today I am grateful for my military relatives and ancestors.

And, I do have a bunch!

At the top of the list, I honor my younger three children. Two of the joined the US Army earlier in the year of 2001. On that fateful day of 9/11, they knew something had happened, but weren't being told what. So, they managed to call home to find out. My heart was in my throat, for I knew what could happen.

But, thank goodness they were never called up to go overseas.

The youngest joined the US Army after his two year mission to Samara Russia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Again, no one had to serve anywhere but on American soil. But, the most important thing is that if they were assigned, they would have gone.

I have many extended family members who have and are serving. And, I am grateful that they have devoted part of their lives to serving their country.

And then...the ancestors.

My military ancestors extend clear back to the French and Indian War, 1759-1763. We weren't even a country yet, but they were there to help us become one.

As I have researched, I had begun to lose track and just how many relatives and ancestors that have been in the military, both on my side and Kerry's side of the family. I had it recorded in my database under their personal information, but couldn't remember the number.

So, one evening I had Kerry just draw up a paper listing all of the major wars our country has been involved in, and the years involved. I could have done it, but he volunteered to do it since he knew what I was planning. In about one minute, he handed me the paper.

Then, I formed a spreadsheet with the wars going across the top, and the family members going down the left column.

As of today, I have found and recorded 192 members of the military in my family.

On the spread sheet, I give a snippet of perhaps their affiliation (Union or Confederate), POW, battle, or death. The rest of their information is in the database, and pensions and other military records are recorded in detail.

So, even though it's not Veteran's Day (I had just returned from a trip on that day), I want to express my gratitude to these valiant men and women who were willing to put their life on the line -- for me.

And, for you.
Harmony Lauritzen - 2001

Jordan Lauritzen - 2001

Erik Lauritzen - 2006

Orson Lauritzen - WWII

Chester Clemens - WWII