Tag Archives: Family Life

The Chosen

By Laraine L. Thompson

Suffering all of his life from the effects of asthma, my father, in his waning years had what was referred to as organic brain syndrome. Its cause was restricted oxygen to the brain as a result of those debilitating asthma attacks. It resulted in symptoms sometimes similar to those of Alzheimer’s Disease. He would often forget the events of the recent past. It seemed that we were constantly reminding him of the important details of his life, just lived. The one constant in his life however was genealogy work. He never seemed to lose his ability to do it. He indeed was the one who had been called to do that work and as such, he had become on of the chosen….

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors, to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy  is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing [another] life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, “Tell our story.” So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.”  How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, “I can’t let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach–that we might be born who we are–that we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those who we had never known before.

Della M. Cummings Wright

Continuing his legacy, I too now seem to be one of the chosen. Reader Beware: It can become an obsessive pursuit. Remembering the novel and the movie after the same name, I call it a magnificent obsession. Unlike my father and others of his generation who had to type each record by hand, have it checked for proof and accuracy by two other persons before submitting the content to the church family history department, I use my computer. And with a mere toggle, I am anywhere on earth that might have a thread of information that will identify those of my family.  Message boards/public family trees have connected me to long lost, distant cousins. Many e-mails later, I now have photos to match many of the names in my records. A marvelous chosen one in North Carolina has just sent me a portion of Indiana marriage records to transcribe and return to her so that she can then publish them on a county’s genealogy website for all to see. I cannot overstate the effect that her work has had upon me and the work that I love to do. As a result of her work in Indiana, I was able to solve a 40 year old family mystery. There are countless more just like her. They are just a click away. They constitute people participating in the second most popular hobby behind gardening.

With the internet and ever evolving software programs, genealogy has never been easier to do. Its ease would take what was remaining of my father’s precious breath away! I thank the Lord daily for modern technology which has allowed us to make exponential leaps forward in our ability to access and store vast amounts of information. Even with all of this, New Family Search estimates that roughly only 5% of records have been retrieved and recorded through their efforts. The future possibilities are beyond staggering to the imagination.

Stake genealogy libraries dot the world. They are staffed by happy volunteers eager to help those who come, most of whom are not members of our church. The libraries are there for all to use. I was in New York City recently and found 3-5 people eagerly working cheek by jowl in a very small Manhattan Stake Family History Library. Every computer, every microfilm reading machine was in use. That scene is being repeated everywhere.

It seems incumbent upon us to add to our list of preparation/intelligent living the ability to do our genealogy. It is so easy and will undoubtedly only become easier with time. In doing so, we may find that we will truly join the ranks of the chosen.

To access the world’s largest online resource for family documents and family trees, click here…

Photo source: LDS Media Library

Parenting our Teens with Strength and Good Courage

By Laraine L. Thompson

Louis Sponseller, former member of our stake and past president of the Portland Stake held many parents and youth leaders at complete attention at a recent adult fireside sponsored by our stake presidency. Using a power point presentation, he skillfully described the often overwhelming challenges faced by today’s youth and conversely, the parents of those youth. It is no dark secret that the youth are more challenged than ever before. The adversarial powers have combined to make their lives unbearable at times. Young women have been told for a quarter of a century now that they can survive quite independently without the companionship of man. Young men, as a result, are confused about their care giving, protective roles. As a result, they are adrift; floundering in a world that somehow no longer needs them. Talk about frightening! He told the story of a father who arrived home one evening only to find his teenage daughter sitting alone in a darkened living room. When he realized that she was crying, he asked her the reason. Through her tears, she sobbed, “Home is the only place where I can feel safe!” It was fortunate for her that her home afforded her that sort of comfort. What a pity for many more youth, even those within our church, whose homes do not provide them much, if any safety—particularly spiritual safety.

The cover of the March Ensign with a headline reading, “Home—A Sacred and Safe Haven” echoes the words of President Sponseller. Inside the reader finds a selection of art from around the world that embodies the power that is ours as parents if we will but fully embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ and live it genuinely, fully, and lovingly within the walls of our homes. The result of not doing just this is taking a staggering toll on our youth.

President Sponseller repeatedly referenced two important books, Restoring the Teenage Soul: Nurturing Sound Hearts and Minds in a Confused Culture, written by Margaret J. Meeker and Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton. He described that President Gordon B. Hinckley himself had, upon occasion referred to these books as well. They are difficult to find in local bookstores but are available through Amazon Books at very reasonable prices. Citing statistics from Soul Searching… it would seem that Latter-day Saint youth are doing well in understanding and living their religion. The temptation to be smug emerges, but then we realize, we must check those impulses! We know that we can and must do better.

We learned as we already knew that as our children grow and become more independent, we hug and kiss them less and less. It seems a natural thing for us. After all, they begin to pull away from us and almost seem embarrassed by our affections. We want to accommodate their burgeoning maturity, but we may be doing them a disservice. A mere touch to the face or the stroke of a teenager’s hair sends a powerful signal to them that they are loved, that we are still there to continue to protect and nurture them. Mother Teresa knew well that this simple act could provide miracles in the lives of touch deprived orphans in India. With all that she did to mend broken hearts, touch was her primary weapon against a cruel and wicked world. Such a simple act….no matter the age of our children, touch we must, hug, we must, affirm, we must.

President Sponseller shared a video in which President Gordon B. Hinckley in a worldwide leadership training broadcast a few years back emphasized the critical importance of maintaining our relationship with our youth and particularly our young women. He said, “When you save a girl, you save generations!” What an astounding thought! It invigorates our imagination, our determination; it prompts us to increase our efforts as parents and leaders.

Time of course was its usual thief. We had precious little to explore the critical truths shared with us by President Sponseller. He left us hungry for much, much more. This subject is very near and dear to his heart. He will willingly share it again and again—in a ward setting, in another stake setting. Truly, it was a night that those of us who attended will not soon forget.

Photo source: LDS Media Library

What Matters Most – Bonding With Your Children

What Is Most Important

“What is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, ‘They do not love that do not show their love.’ We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.”

Thomas S. Monson “Finding Joy in the Journey”

Photo source: LDS Media Library