Family History can be a difficult topic to share, so it is a little crazy that this is the topic that I chose for my first blog post after a complete overhaul and redesign of my blog, my message, and my brand. The truth is, as I have spent many hours reflecting on the past, the present and the future, I continually come back to one thing that matters more to me than anything else… I want to empower people to live the best version of who they are and what they can become. With this in mind, a quick thought on Family History is completely and totally appropriate for my first step back in the saddle:
With some marriages, divorces, deaths, and remarriage- there is a lot of family in my family tree! My sister and I often laugh at the story of a class that we took in college. The teacher had remembered my family timeline as being the most complicated that she had ever seen, so when my younger sister completed the same assignment three years later, the teacher instantly recognized the project and asked if we were sisters. Because of the sheer overwhelmedness of trying to sort it all out AND because I had grown up watching my grandma and her sister work faithfully on their genealogy- I grew up with the belief that there was no more family history for me to do.
That all changed shortly after my family moved out of state. It had been our second major move in three years, and I was in a state of ‘woe is me” for what had been and what was not yet. I determined to begin the new year with a focus on productivity to try to compensate for the loneliness and chaos that I felt was beginning to permeate my heart and mind. It was the best year of my life, spent formulating some of the habits that I have now come to LOVE the most!
Family History was ONE of these things. In the years since, I have come to really appreciate all that working on family history can do for our families, our friends and for ourselves. BUT I have also come to try appreciate that when it comes to family history, there is ONE of two camp that people fall into:
FIRST: “I already do my family history! I have a testimony of family history and I am working as often as possible to connect the hearts of the children to their fathers and vice versa”
SECOND: “I have not interest, time, or energy for family history. To everything there is a season, and this is not MY season. My grandma (aunt, sister, cousin) has already done my family history back to Adam and Eve, there is nothing left for me to do”
Which group do you fall into? Well, hopefully I can invite you out of your personal box and help you to see that no matter WHERE your family tree is- full or totally empty- there is PLENTY of work for you to do, but it might be different than work than you might think! I’m going to ask you to BROADEN YOUR PERSPECTIVE a little on what the work of family history is:
Researching our ancestors, knowing their stories, working in family search or ancestry or roots magic- is all very valuable and meaningful, but that is not the ONLY aspect of family history that we can work in. Look outside of the box and see if you have other places family history will work for you and your family. Consider family history as a way to connect the PAST, PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE GENERATIONS! Maybe your activity in family history right now is to work on recording the memories of the present moment or maybe it is to establish some traditions and preparations for your future family– > I would suggest that you sincerely ponder and pray about family history and find out where YOUR family needs your efforts most right now.
In yoga, there is a concept called ‘ROOTING’. If a yoga student can properly ‘root’ they can maintain their balance in almost any posture. Whether you are ‘rooting’ from your hands or your feet, establishing a solid ‘root’ helps you to maintain balance, access your own personal strength, prevent injury, and avoid pushing yourself beyond your physical abilities- while allowing yourself to push beyond mental limitation. It doesn’t matter how seasoned a yoga student is, without the ‘root’ it is easy to get distracted and lose your balance.
Navigating the journey of life in this fast paced, technology driven world requires a little rooting to be able to stand strong and immovable from the daily pressures of temptation, shames, doubts, and frustrations; setting ourselves firm in who we are, where we are going, and what we can do when we get there! The relationships we form in our family, our ROOTS, are how we find our balance, access our personal strength, prevent decisions with painful consequences, and avoid pushing beyond what we are capable of while pushing harder than we think we could on our own.
As you read on with a fresh perspective of the value and importance of family history, look through the 5 Categories and see where YOUR efforts for your family history might fit. This is NOT an exhaustive list, but is intended to get the wheels turning in your mind about what you and your family might need most at this time!
1. Family History records the NOW for NOW:
- Keep your family’s pictures around the house, not just the perfectly coiffed, professional photos, but frame some of the candid photos from your daily life.
- Talk about the stories of where you have lived and the people you have known
- Mend an argument with a sibling
- Start a journal of the silly, fun, and time sensitive things your family says or does
2. Family History records the NOW for the FUTURE:
- Get on family search, put in your family AND the families of your LIVING siblings
- Label your photos
- Organize your family papers and pictures
- Create a family cookbook
- Start a family blog or a family newsletter as your nest starts to empty
3. Family History records the PAST for the FUTURE:
- Learn to index government and military records
- Research your family tree, including cousins and second marriages
4. Family History discovers WHO we are:
- Call your parents or grandparents; record their memories, their stories, their VOICES!
- Find out why you do the things you do; my most fond conversations with my grandmother have come from asking her why she did some of the things that she did (like why does she love April Fool’s Day so much)
5. Family History connects us to our ancestors and our posterity:
- Go to a family history library and solve a family history brick wall
- Fill in the gaps in your family tree
- Research, find a name, and take it to the temple- see it through from baptism to endowment
I know that it was the family that I spent countless hours researching and taking their names to the temple that came to my rescue last year when our family endured the the longest and most trying 12 months of my entire life. I felt the strength that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” I know that with a simple prayer, God can make molehills out of mountains- and He can open the doors for miraculous and great things to come to pass. I challenge you to say a prayer, as simple as that sounds, start with a prayer. Ask Heavenly Father what you might need to do to strengthen and fortify your family- to set your family’s roots- and then get busy doing it. He will find you the time, the resources, the tech know how… ask and I can promise you will receive.