February 18 2018

Why (Five Minute Friday)

Why? This was my nephew, Brian’s favorite word when he was about four years old. I would take him along on errands with me for fun back then. Whatever you told him he would ask, “Why?”. You would give him an answer, and he would again ask, “Why?. It got old really fast and usually ended with me saying something to the effect of because I said so, that’s why. I never knew if he was just that curious or had learned that this was a way to drive the adults in his life completely crazy.

God must feel like this sometimes. There are lots of times in our lives when we ask ourselves or God why something happened. Why did this person get cancer? Why did that person get killed by a drunk driver? Why did someone open fire in a school? Why did they feel that was the only solution? Sometimes the question is just, “Why me?” Only God knows!

Time’s up and after going so long last week, I am sticking to the five-minute rule this week. If you really want to read more, check out my Why Do I Write? post.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Why
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

February 10 2018

Privilege (Five Minute Friday)

I consider it my greatest privilege to be able and be trusted to keep the family history.

I was taken with the idea of genealogy research when I was in the fourth grade and first learned about our family a bit when my older sister had to do a fifth-grade project about our ancestors. The next year, I had the same teacher and eagerly looked forward to learning even more than my sister had known about the family tree to use for the assignment. I remember my mother calling her sister, to ask about the specifics for her family and my dad’s mother to get details about his family. I remember there was some confusion getting all the details for my dad’s family because the chart was confusing to my grandmother. What we got was a few generations of names and dates, maybe as far back as my great-grandparents on both sides of the family. But that was enough, and I was hooked.

My interest never wavered, but there wasn’t a lot I could do as a young kid. Once I was in high school and had some pocket money of my own, I began researching in earnest. There was a shop in town called Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe that put on all-day conferences with well-known guest speakers and they were not terribly expensive so I told mom I wanted to go. She said I could if I would pay my way. I assured her I would. I explained that I would also need a ride to and from the hotel where the conference was being held. I asked if she would be willing to go with me and drive if I was to pay both our admission costs from my own money. She agreed and seemed interested, but not as obsessed with it as I was. We had fun going to many of these events throughout my high school years. We spent time going over what we had learned and comparing our notes. When I was in college and finally had a car so I could drive myself, I spent many a Saturday downtown at the Indiana State Library. I would pack a lunch and bring lots of change for copies. I spent so much time combing through the microfilms of census records with my head almost inside the little cave-like machines squinting to read the strange handwriting and using a pencil to fill in the forms for the census with the entries for the ancestors I found. I just couldn’t get enough. I wasn’t interested in social studies or history of any kind, that was dull and boring, but when it came to MY family, MY ancestors, I was doing research because I wanted to not because I had to. This was more intense than homework and more difficult too, but I didn’t care. I loved it! I felt like I had won the lottery when I discovered some new tidbit or another ancestor’s name. I read books that I bought at the conferences or the local bookstore. The library didn’t have much available back then. I had to limit the time I spent on genealogy so my grades in the college courses wouldn’t suffer. I longed for school breaks so I could focus on genealogy.

When I got married in 1986, my husband seemed so lucky because his grandmother lived right here in town. I was much closer to his grandmother than my own. We went swimming with her in her apartment complex pool and she would patiently answer my questions. I got the privilege of wrapping all her Christmas gifts for a few years. I just loved having a grandparent so close. I only remember meeting one of my grandparents, my maternal grandmother, and she lived so far away I only saw her once or twice a year for an hour or two. I was in heaven! My husband and I had been having Sunday dinners with his parents, his brother and his grandmother for years by the time we were married. Our first house was less than a mile away from her apartment so we often picked her up and took her back home from the Sunday dinners. I learned that her father was an amateur photographer. She had albums full of his photos. When we looked at them, I turned them over to read the writing on the back but where others would have written the dates, location or the names of those in the photo, her father had written film speeds and f-stops. I quizzed the family on many occasions to get names and dates and specifics on births, deaths, and marriages. I can’t imagine what they thought of this nosy new family member, but I didn’t let that bother me. I had loads of new ancestors to research. I wanted to know them all and find them all. His family was from states I had never had reason to research before, exotic places like New York and Pennsylvania. I wanted to know how they came to live in Indiana if their families were from “back east”. So I asked. I think they liked that I was interested in them and their families. They let me scan photos and bring them back the next week and then take another batch. After all, I was family now and would willingly share the scanned images with anyone who wanted them.

Gradually, as time passed, more census records were released. I remember when the 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 census records were made available to the public. These were released 72 years after they were taken, so researched had to wait ten years in between these big releases! Oh, how exciting it was to be able to find people on the census that I actually knew and had met! I loved searching through the microfilmed newspapers for obituaries when the people stopped appearing on the census records. City directories were fun too. When I noticed that my grandparents’ families lived just a few blocks from each other I began to speculate on how they met and what their courtship might have been like. Many people thought me strange for wanting to spend all my extra time and money looking for and making copies of these old records. Social security death records were indexed and you could send for a copy of the social security application once you found it in the index for only $7 each. This was a bit pricey back in the day, but I cut corners and saved my spending money to use for making copies at the library and to send off for my record copies. This was before the Internet and then during the early days of it. Not much was indexed and even less was online. Few had emails or web pages so we wrote letters and sent checks when we wanted information and we waited, and waited and watched the mailbox day after day for the record copies to arrive or for some possible distant cousin to answer our letter. It was so different then, back in the old days before DNA testing and Internet databases.

I went to cemeteries and walked the rows searching for specific names. We knew tricks for getting the best photos of the headstones. Yes, I have an album full of headstone photos. When I learned how to write HTML and create web pages, I created virtual cemeteries with photos and transcriptions of the headstones along with the info on where the cemetery was located and any other information or maps to go with it. I wanted to share my research with distant cousins I had never met. It was like leaving breadcrumb trails for them to find and those crumbs led them back to me. I shared photos of ancestors, school class photos from my mothers’ grade school years. She had written all the names on the back when she was an adult. I knew not everyone would have copies and if I added the names, the search engines could find them.

I spent about thirty years consistently immersed in my hobby, then I had to return to the world of working full-time again in addition to parenting and running the house and just that quick, time to do research vanished. Now after about ten years away from it, I realize I really miss it and want to immerse myself in it all over again. I am a different person now with new and different hobbies. The way genealogists do research is vastly different than it was ten years ago. Many of my beloved relatives are no longer here to pester with questions and I know what a great opportunity I lost when they died. I find myself realizing I took the privilege of knowing them for granted and never considered that it might one day be too late to ask the questions I hadn’t yet thought up. Now more than ever, I understand that I am one of the older generation. Now, I am the one the younger ones will need to come to in order to get their questions answered and I want to be ready if and when they do. Oh, I really hope they do. I hope to infect them with just a bit of my enthusiasm for family history.

Having family is a treasure. It is a privilege to know them and to remember them and to honor them by making sure they are not forgotten.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Privilege
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

Ok, obviously I got a little carried away and went well past the 5 minutes…it just couldn’t be helped.

February 3 2018

Agree (Five Minute Friday)

I have been pressured for a long time (several years) to agree to bring another pet into our home. More specifically, a cat. Hubby and adult daughter have been unrelenting lately. I keep saying, “No!”, and they beg and plead like a couple of kids wanting their first puppy.

I feel like I am being ganged up on. I tell adult daughter I already gave in on the hamster when she was in high school and even the pet rabbit, Bruce, also when she was in high school. I finally on the bunny when they called me from the state fair and asked again because I was told the life expectancy of the rabbit was just three to five years. We have had Bruce the Bunny for about six and a half years now and he doesn’t seem to be aging. I knew I was hoodwinked when just a week or two after they brought Bruce home from the Indiana State Fair because adult daughter’s friend’s bunny died. When I asked daughter how old the bunny was, she said fourteen years old. What? “I thought you said bunnies only lived three to five years!” Apparently, the lady who sold hubby and adult daughter the bunny for only $10 at the fair told them three to five years and they took her at her word. I, in turn, believed hubby and adult daughter when they told me they would both take care of the bunny, it would only live three to five years and it would be no trouble at all. He was to live in a cage and only be out of the said cage to exercise two hours a day. Umm…yeah. Bruce the Bunny has taken down any number of electrical appliances (aquarium filter system, lamps, televisions, the entire house network, the cable and internet service for the house) and currently has free reign over hubby’s entire office. Oh, did I mention he also bites unsuspecting sleeping people in their beds on occasion? I must say as long as he isn’t getting into trouble he is a very quiet pet. He never barks or meows.

I have come to appreciate the peace and quiet in our home with pets that are contained and don’t talk all the time like cats always do. I also appreciate not having cat hair everywhere, having the house smell like cat pee all the time, waking up to surprise hairballs on my bed, or stepping in cat puke in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom. I like the freedom of not having to get anyone to come in and pet-sit for us when we want to go away for the weekend. I like NOT having cats on the table and counters, knocking over cups and vases, chewing on houseplants, and having to do cat checks to make sure they aren’t locked up where they shouldn’t be while we are away from home all day. (The other two don’t appreciate this because I am usually the last one out of the house and thus the one the cat check falls on.) I am also the one around the house more often and thus would be the one pestered for attention. We had cats for many, many years. It has been several years since we have had any as permanent residents of our home. We have had temporary cat guests (Moxie and Pope) for a week or two at a time and I have given in on that because I knew they would go back to their owners in a short while and I hoped it might lessen the nagging for us to get a cat. I would also like to say that adult daughter is rarely ever at home unless she is sleeping and hubby works long hours and has more volunteer commitments and meetings than anyone should so he is rarely home either.

When our family commits to a pet, we commit “until death do us part”, like it or not. We have never returned a pet, given one away, or even turned one loose on society. Darling daughter is constantly trying to get us to do just that with Gilligan the snapping turtle. I reminded her that is not how we do things in our family and that we made a commitment to take care of him for life, just like all the fish in our tanks, Sophie the hamster, Bruce the bunny and all the cats (Sammy, Morgan, Pumpkin, Smokey, and Goldie).

The latest tactic to try to force cats on me again is the recent death of my mother-in-law. Apparently, since we haven’t had cats for a few years, the whole darned family assumes we will take at least one maybe even two of the cats my mother-in-law had. I’m sorry if my mother-in-law was under the mistaken assumption that hubby would take a certain cat if anything ever happened to her, she didn’t ask my opinion, but she DID know how I felt about it. My stance is that ours is currently the only cat-free house and thus all the other families and houses are already used to having cats and another one or two wouldn’t make that much difference. There are only four or five cats to find homes for so it shouldn’t be a problem as there are at least five other houses here in the city where her cats could find good homes with various other family members.

I feel I have agreed to my share of pets and wish the rest of the family, immediate and otherwise, would respect my feelings and drop the subject for good. I feel like we are at the stage in our lives where we have the chance to travel more often and I don’t want the commitment and responsibility of more pets to tie us down. As long as we are mobile enough to travel, and have Bruce and Gilligan and the fish to deal with, I don’t want to get any more pets. I will not agree to allow any more pets into my home for the foreseeable future. Stop looking for loopholes, please. Subject closed.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Agree
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

January 26 2018

Surrender (Five Minute Friday)

Surrender Kate Motaung says. Not knowing what to write, I looked it up in the dictionary. The definition of surrender according to Merriam Webster, “to give up after a struggle”. The obvious one we struggle with, in this case, would be God. So I look up Bible verses because none immediately come to mind. Why is it that my mind blanks when I see these words sometimes? I struggle to figure out what to write more than half of the time and sometimes the very times when I am having the most trouble I write some of my best work.

It is difficult to really and truly surrender to anyone, even God.

Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7-9 GOD’S WORD Translation

I have done that, so many years ago I lost count. I know it was before I had kids. I know it came about because I was reading inspirational fiction. A group of us were consuming the text written by the author, Janette Oke. More than likely, it was one of the first books in her “Love Comes Softly” series, since that was my introduction to inspirational fiction books. It was probably about this same time that I realized what a huge impact reading a book could have on a person.

I didn’t know it then, but that was probably the first time I found myself wishing I could write like that and change lives, move readers to tears, spur them into action. I was so grateful to a wonderful little lady I worked with named Barb who was a school teacher by day and a clerk in a fabric store by night to make ends meet. She had the whole series of books and loaned them to us all willingly. We would come to work having finished a book and asking who had the next one in the series because we were hooked. We wanted to know what happened to the characters next. We wanted to read more of the verses scattered through the books at just the right places and times. These books didn’t cram religion down our throats, they didn’t preach. They merely showed us how a life with God could be so much better than one without Him.

So I surrendered to Him and because I know I have a hard time truly giving up every last worry in my head, I have surrendered various parts of my life over and over through the years. The song “Jesus Take The Wheel” popped into my head just now and I thought, yes, it is just like that. Sometimes I want to shout out for God to take away all my worries and my doubts and my confusion. Take it so I can be relieved of the burden of it all.

So I find myself at that point again where I surrender, my writing this time. I have felt driven to write for the past five or six years. I just know I am meant to write a book. I am uncertain what sort of book or genre it is supposed to be, but the feeling never waivers. I try to do my part, reading craft books, taking classes to learn to write better so someday when I understand what it is I am meant to write, I will have the skills needed to do a decent job of it and glorify God in the process. I started blogging more seriously as a way to turn my November writing habit into a year-round writing habit and I have done that. I surrender my writing to God. If I am meant to write a book then it will come to me and I will write it when it does. Until then, I must trust in God to lead me to the right resources and teachers and have the confidence that the ability will be there when I need it.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Surrender
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

January 13 2018

Simplify (Five Minute Friday)

When I read the prompt (Simplify) late Thursday night, I just filed it in the back of my mind, to mull over as I slept. Friday, I decided to go ahead and get the graphic made while I had a minute and get it uploaded so it was ready to go when I write the post to go with it. Funny thing that. When I made the graphic, it said Simplicity. Today (Saturday), when I sat down to write and grab the correct links at the bottom of the post, I realized my error and had to go back and Simplify the word on the graphic. I got a good laugh out of my mistake and figured I now had a direction for my post.

How many times do we make something simple into something complicated when there is no reason to do so? This is the perfect time of the year to take a closer look at our lives and simplify. Are you overcommitted? Look at your calendar and make a list of the activities you regularly participate in. Are there too many? Could you take a minute to number the list in order of importance? Not importance to others, but which are most important to YOU? Could you cut the list down by just ten percent? That would simplify your calendar a bit. The next step might be to learn to say “No.” unless you are really ecstatic about a new opportunity that has been presented to you.

Now, how about household tasks? Do you find yourself perpetually behind on tasks like dishes and laundry? Have you considered the idea that you just might have too many clothes and dishes? Consider what you pack for a week or ten-day trip. If you have just ten days worth of clothes, even if all the laundry is dirty it won’t take that long to get it caught up. If you have enough clothes to last for weeks or months and you let it all get dirty before you wash it, you have a much bigger mound of laundry to tackle, don’t you? I bet you see where I am going with this. If you simplify your wardrobe even by just ten to twenty percent, you can simplify your laundry chores too. I can’t take credit for this idea, but there are famous people who basically wear the same “uniform” every day. If all your clothes were black, like the late Johnny Cash, laundry sorting would no longer taker up precious moments of your life. I use a multi-hamper system where the clothing gets sorted as it is taken off so I can always grab a load when it is getting full. This is how I simplify the task of laundry.

If you have a house full of kids and they are constantly grabbing a clean glass out of the cabinet with each drink they pour, consider getting each kid a different color of the same style of glass, then having them rinse it after each use and put in the dish drainer until they need it again. When you get ready to run the dishwasher, grab them all and load them in. If one turns up missing you know exactly which kid to speak to about it, which again simplifies the task of tracking down the missing dish. It will also cut down on the number of dishes you need to wash by hand or the frequency you need to run the dishwasher.

The more stuff you have, the more time you will spend taking care of your stuff or working/walking around your stuff. More is not always better. You can simplify your life by decluttering your excess possessions.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Simplify
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.