Monday, April 29, 2013

Miraculous Ancestors

My hope in writing in my blog is three-fold: give glory to God's almighty hand in all of our lives. put in writing a piece of our lives for posterity.

...for others to feel God's love for them through my writing.

My mother recently finished my grandmother's book.  I have been reading it all week, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the stories lived and the stories told.   Now that I know so many of my grandmother's stories, she is even MORE beautiful to me.  I marvel at what she and her family have endured.  I find myself living with more gratitude as I better understand how my opportunities have come into my life.  Nothing was from luck... nothing was easy... God's hand was and is in ALL.

My great grandparents are immigrants from Europe.  My mind and heart are consumed with the stories of the hardships they endured and the lessons they learned in order to make a better life for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  I want to do even more to honor them.

In reading the stories, I have been pondering the talents and rich influence they brought to America... the recipes, basket making, clothing, carpentry, hard work ethic, and ingenuity.  My great-grandfather came to America first to prepare the way for his wife and oldest child.  My grandmother was born here in America after they arrived.

My miracle today is how my heart is changing in how I view my ancestors, my life, my opportunities, and my future.  There is a scripture in Malachi 4:6, it reads:

 "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..."
In our temples, we do a lot of work for the benefit of those who have passed on.  We are only allowed to submit the names of our own ancestors.  Some people have so many ancestors that they can not possibly do the work for all of them, so I always did their work for them when I went to the temple.  I had been attending the temple every week.  One night, I was thinking about my recent experiences in the temple... I had always felt peace and the love for God in the temple, but I wanted to feel more.  As I kneeled by my bed, I received a story in my mind... Maybe you could call it a vision of sorts.  (The Lord knows how simple my mind is so HE spoke to me as HE would to the mind of a child.)

This is what I saw in my mind:

I was a little girl reaching for some cookies.  The cookies were always there and easily accessible.  I enjoyed eating the cookies, and I was grateful to be eating them.  After a while, somebody took those cookies and put them so high that I couldn't even see them without getting a stool.  I was kind of put-out at first wondering why they would move the cookies so high and far away from me... What was the purpose?  I moved the stool, climbed up it, and peered over the ledge where the cookies were sitting.  To my surprise and utter delight, as I reached my higher perspective, I saw a sea of cookies!!!  There was so much more than the small plate that I had been eating from.  I recognized at that moment that whoever moved that plate of cookies, wanted me to work a little bit harder in order to see that there were greater things waiting.  

I interpreted those "greater things" as my need to search out my own ancestors.  I believe they are still living- just not on this earth.  Life doesn't not end with death- neither does learning.  I believe there are still many opportunities for learning after we die.  I believe there are hundreds of thousands of amazing people all over the world who will learn about Jesus when they enter the Spirit World after their death.  I also believe we can receive communication from our ancestors.

Shortly after I received that little "vision/story," I felt very strongly that I needed to do my genealogy.  I had no idea where to begin because I had never even had an interest in genealogy.  I called my friend who has a passion for it, and I said, "The Spirit is practically screaming at me to do my genealogy.  Can you teach me how to do it?"  Of course she was more than happy to help me.  I called my mother for a couple of days in a row to ask her for names and dates.  She kept telling me she was too busy, but she would help me later.  I figured I wouldn't hear from her for a while because she was deep into her project of creating her cookbook.  I was surprised to receive a phone call the next morning.  I'll paraphrase the story she told me:

My grandmother's sister, Aunt Kay, lived in Louisiana.  During one of the hurricanes, a tree fell on her house exactly where she was standing in her kitchen.  She was seriously injured and passed away a week later in the hospital from complications of that accident.  The paramedics came to her house after the storm; and as they took Aunt Kay out of her house, her only words were, "Call Nancy!"  -Nancy is my mother.  

It was more than a year after her death and for the few weeks leading up to my phone calls, my mother kept getting a very strong impression/message from Aunt Kay, "Do my work."  My mother didn't feel like it was an urgent message, so she said in her mind, "I'll do it after I'm done making this cookbook."  The impression continued to return.  I did not know that my mother was receiving this impression, but I felt a strong feeling to start doing genealogy immediately-which is why I had called my friend and my mother for help.  My mother gave me the dates, and I submitted them.  It was actually really easy.  

All of a sudden, my mother and I realized the urgency of the message.  The following week we would all be together:  my parents, my brother and sister and their spouses, and Abe and I would all be uniting from all over the country, and we'd be minutes from the temple!  This was a rare time that we would all be together so close to a temple.  As we brought the names and did the work for several of our ancestors, my experience in the temple was just what I had been searching for... the Spirit overwhelmed us all.  My mother and I were in tears knowing our hearts had been turned to our fathers as Malachi prophesied.  

Doing the genealogy before my trip to the temple took only a little effort (as moving the stool to reach the cookies did in my "vision/story"), but the results were indescribable as the miracle of Genealogy and the lives of my miraculous ancestors continue to unfold.