I keep typing and retyping the title of this post. I don’t want it to be about me– but I want to offer a sounding board for others. Everyone seems to be buzzing about genealogy these days (have you tried Relative Finder? It’s amazing!). And I live in a place where drawing your family tree on the chalkboard in Sunday School has always been the norm.
But let’s take just a minute to acknowledge the unspoken truth– some people come from families that aren’t exactly brag-worthy, some didn’t glean knowledge and values from their grandparents. Some are desperately trying to break a cycle of neglect and/or abuse. While everyone talks about their family walking across the plains, I strongly suspect mine might have been the ones who chased them out of their homes in Missouri.
As one friend said, “I’m sure I have some good relatives; I just need to look past the generations who’ve hurt me.”
In general, how can we get excited about genealogy when when the relatives we know have let us down?
In a conversation with two friends, one mother excitedly described the girl her 23 year old son was currently dating– accomplished, lovely, the most incredible testimony… “But,” the other woman interrupted, “she didn’t serve a mission, did she?”
“No,” my friend answered, “she prayed about the decision many times but never felt like it was right for her.”
“I’m not saying she’s not a nice girl,” the friend replied, “but she’d be much more impressive if she’d served a mission.”
I’m fairly sure steam erupted from my ears; I know my face flushed with heat as I entered the conversation, but I tried to measure my words, “You’re not serious? Prophets instruct our girls to rely on personal revelation. I’m proud of every girl who serves and every girl who follows a prompting to follow a different path.”
“But you have to admit,” she persisted, “these returned missionaries will make much better wives and mothers. They’ll be more prepared to serve in the church.”
“You know I didn’t go on a mission.” I reminded her.
“Sure. But times were different then. With the age change, no girl has an excuse not to serve.”
And that was the moment I knew had to walk away before I exploded in anger.
**** Continue reading Surprise: you can go on a mission earlier, but you might be judged if you don’t
A few years ago, in December, I was wrapping gifts and– with the melancholy that sometimes visits during the holidays– letting tears slip down my cheeks as I mourned things that hadn’t happened that year, carefully crafted plans come to naught (primarily, a baby). I continued to wrap and cry, grumbling a bit that I wasn’t getting the gift I really wanted, when I remembered the friend who’d handed me tickets to a Christmas concert the week before. One by one, I began thinking of all the good things in the past year that happened without my planning, without my goal-setting. Joys, successes, new friends, small victories…handed to me with no effort on my part, wrapped up beautifully and tied with a bow. I ripped a piece of wrapping paper, turned it over and wrote down everything that had surprised or delighted me in the previous months. Continue reading your best surprises of 2014
I’m looking for a vibrant group discussion today. I hope you’ll contribute your thoughts.
Lately I’ve been ruminating on and talking to my friends and family about Elder Bednar’s message to “sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth.” His message is full of excellent guidelines, but putting his words into actions seems to be creating a lot of confusion. I’ve interviewed some very savvy young people to initiate our discussion.
Let’s start with my 22 year old son Ben, a student and Italian 101 teacher at BYU:
“I had to go to a training for my stake’s digital mission today. The idea is to improve the church’s presence on social media in size and quality. Some of it seems pretty cool, like creating blogs, but other actions seems pointless: liking church stuff and trolling for comments that mention missionaries. I’m still kind of at odds with social media. I’m totally fine with other people using it and I’m actually kind of interested in what some people post, but a lot of the time it seems superficial and fake and even damaging. Think about the way it’s changing our definition of social? How is working for “likes” changing the way we express ourselves? I’m still trying to understand how the church is so on board with all this stuff. Being encouraged, at a church meeting, to “live your life openly on social media” (that’s a real quote) just seems kind of funny. Live your life on social media? How about live your life in the real world? I’m still processing it all. Continue reading Let your light so shine or do your alms in secret?
When my ten-year-old Mary, made the goal to climb Mt. Timpanogus this summer– a trek of 15-18 miles– I promised I’d stay with her every step of the way.
On practice hikes with her brothers, I’d noticed Mary hiked slowly but steadily until she was rushed. When someone insisted she walk a little faster or denied her a rest, she froze, became insecure in her abilities and more than once, turned around and went home before reaching the top. Continue reading at your own pace