Did I Ever Tell You About The Time…

Think of the many stories you have bouncing around in your head that your family has told over and over. You know them so well, you most likely roll your eyes whenever it’s being told for umpteenth time. But do you realize these stories only last for two, maybe three generations? Then, they’re lost forever. Unless someone takes the time to write them down.

How could you preserve your family stories? Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Write them in a family Bible or journal made for this purpose.

2.  Video your family telling the story.

3.  Make a photo journal using Snapfish or the like including pictures of family gatherings where these stories were always told. Be sure to include the names of all present as well as the date.

It isn’t hard to do this, it just takes planning. What stories come to mind that are worth preserving in your family?

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Do You Know Her Story? Everyone should!

Irene Sendler

Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw, Poland

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Al Gore won for a slide show on Global Warming.

(What an amazing story that should be told and honored. I hope she is nominated again. She should have won, imho.

A Cabin, An Alpaca Farm and A Book Review

Barefoot Cabin Banner Elk, NC Elevation 4200'

Barefoot Cabin
Banner Elk, NC
Elevation 4200′

I’ve had some exciting opportunities come my way for marketing Through The Eyes Of Grace.  As you may or may not know, my husband and I have purchased a cabin in Banner Elk, NC. It is exactly where we have always wanted to own property, and the cabin is even better than we had dreamed. While we were there in June we took our grandchildren to Apple Hill Farm which is only 5 miles from our front door. The photo at the top of my blog is all 5 of them staring at the alpacas. It is a great place–they raise Alpacas, Llamas, Donkeys, Goats, Sheep, Horses, Pigs, Chickens, and much more. You can even buy skeins of Alpaca wool to knit or crochet the softest scarves and blankets ever! Anyway, the owner found out about my book, purchased a copy, started reading it and asked if she could sell it in their store. 🙂 Oh my, this takes a bit getting used to. She even asked me to sign the three copies she purchased. What an amazing privilege.

Next, my publisher called to see if I would be available for a television interview to talk about my book. I had to think about it for one second! Of course, I said yes, even though the thought of being on TV is way out of my comfort zone. I will adjust, I’m sure.

What I would really like to figure out is how to set up a blog tour of my book. If any of you have any information that would help me find this information, I would be grateful. 

Finally, I want to review a book I recently read. It was given to me because it reminded my friend of Through The Eyes Of Grace.

Soft As Steel

Book Title:      Soft Like Steel

Author:           Barbara Malek

Review:           Soft As Steel is the true story of the author’s grandmother. She discovered her story by reading her grandmother’s journals. In them she finds out how remarkable a woman she was. She endured great hardship as a young, Mennonite wife, not only because of the Great Depression sweeping the nation in the 1930’s, but because of the selfishness and sin of her husband. Time after time he disappoints and hurts her, but she devotes herself to believing the best, until one day she has a breakthrough…You’ll have to read the book yourself to see what happens. You may also like to know that this marriage produced 9 children in spite of all the trouble. And they all grew up to have a close relationship with each other and with their own spouse and children. I couldn’t put this book down, and I finished it in a couple of sittings.  Barbara is an excellent story-teller as you’ll soon find out if you decide to read it yourself.

My Rating:    ****

When A Blog Goes Silent…

…it doesn’t mean I’m not mulling over in my heart and mind what to post next. It just means life has gotten the best of me, which is a good thing.

A silent blog means:

  • I have a life outside of writing about it.
  • There are friends I need to call
  • There are funerals I must attend
  • There are church meetings to help grow my faith
  • There are floors to clean
  • There is laundry to wash
  • There are quiet times to enjoy
  • There are grandchildren to play with
  • There are vacations to plan
  • And walking routes to pursue
  • And most of all–a husband to spend time with

I love writing. It isn’t an effort to do so. But I can easily get caught up with my blogging life to the neglect of my highest priorities. And family is high on my list.

Since I last posted on May 21st this is what has happened:

  • My youngest daughter turned 27
  • We bought and renovated a cabin in Banner Elk, NC. See Barefoot Cabin.
  • We had our first family vacation there
  • Three dear friends passed from this life to their eternal home
  • One friend got married to the love of her life
  • Attended the baby shower for my niece who is expecting her third child, first boy.
  • Went with my daughter-in-love to her 4D sonogram appt. where I got to see my 6th grandchild’s little face for the first time. He is due in September.
  • Had appointments with our attorney to help with my late-mother’s property.

My list could go on and on, and I’m sure you have a similar one. Life is full. Life is good. And everyday stories are being written that would help others know us better if we could but record them somehow. This is my passion. I love hearing stories that teach a lesson. Do you have one you could share? Or maybe a story you want to make sure your children and grandchildren know? I would love to hear it! This is why I began the tab at the top titled, Share Your Story. Won’t you consider taking some time to write it out. Then once it’s published you can share the link with your family and friends who may not have heard it yet. I hope you’ll consider it.

My next post will be such a story inspired by the questionnaire found at the back of my book.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ve missed you.

♥ Debi

A Short Love Story

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Today I want to share with you a short story I wrote awhile ago. I’ve posted it on The Romantic Vineyard, since it’s a love story. But it also fits well with this blog on family history. I hope it stirs in your memory similar stories you’ve heard from parents or grandparents. Be sure your children and grandchildren know these stories, for it’s part of who they are. Knowing them also gives them direction for who they’ll become.

Click on the following title to read the story:

Vito’s Coffee Shop

The Story Old Photos Speak

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My husband and I love to travel, especially road trips. There’s something about being in the car that stirs conversation in a way just sitting at a table or couch doesn’t do. Maybe it’s just us, but I don’t think so.

I remember my parents’ talking about taking a road trip with my grandparents back in the late 40’s. They traveled west and saw all kinds of amazing places: the Petrified Forest, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Great Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite to name a few. It was a memorable trip. My Mom and Dad are no longer with us, so I can’t ask them any questions about their time together. But in going through their home to get ready to sell, I found lots of photos from that trip. The color has turned sepia without any effects from Instagram! Time has settled upon the photos giving them a nostalgic look on this trip of their lifetime.

The sad part is I can no longer ask my Mom about specific things in the pictures. She would know the story behind every photo, but I don’t. The pictures mean nothing to me, but to her they were the connection to wonderful memories from her past.

Everyone most likely has similar memories and probably the photos to go with them. But we don’t take the time to let our elders talk about them…

This brings me to Question #14–

What photos do you have from trips you enjoyed long ago? Of all the

places you’ve been, which place was your favorite and why?

 

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This is post #14 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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Whole Latta Fun

latta plantation

We spent the day today touring an old southern plantation in Charlotte, N.C. — The Latta Plantation, to be specific. It wasn’t all that impressive by today’s standards, but in the early 1800’s it was quite the spread. We saw an old covered wagon, a chicken coop, a few horses, a mule and donkey, a couple of pigs, the kitchen and well-house and of course, the main house. I loved walking through imagining what life was like for them then. Probably the worst part for me would have been wearing those long skirts and long-sleeves with no air-conditioning. Yeah, I’m spoiled.

So much of what they did on a farm was to sustain life. They had to grow their own food or they would die. They had to care for their animals or they wouldn’t have milk, eggs or fresh meat. It was a hard life without the many conveniences we take for granted. You would think with all the extra time we have that our quality of life would be so much better. But it isn’t. Somehow I think we are more distracted which prevents us from focusing on the things of most importance.

Question #12 – Do you know what your grandparent’s did for a living? Did they farm their own land? Or did they live in the city?

My grandfather was a citrus farmer. He had 32 acres of groves here in Florida, and they were still a part of our family until the freezes of the early 80’s wiped them out. That was a sad time in our family. My parents replanted one grove, but even that one only lasted a couple of decades. The land became too valuable to keep as farm land. My Mom sold it to a developer in the family. 😦 Sadly, there aren’t any groves left for us to go tour like we did today. I can’t take my grandchildren to the family homestead in order for them to see what life was like for their great-great-grandparents. All they can have is the stories I share, which is why knowing it and telling it often is so important.

How are you doing with the questions each day? Are you making the time to ask someone in your family? What things have you discovered? I would love to hear…

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This is post #13 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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Exit 8

We’re on the road headed to NC for a two-week vacation. Our daughter and her family (who lives in another state) is also on vacation this week. We happened to be texting when we realized we were both coming to Hardeeville, SC, at the same time.

So…we made plans to meet at the McDonalds without telling the kids. Believe it or not we arrived within 5 minutes of each other, and it was totally unplanned.

The look on the kids’ faces was so worth it!! There’s nothing like the surprise greetings from children. Their hugs are tighter and their smiles so genuine.

I’m enjoying the afterglow of the brief time we had. I saw Stella’s three new teeth, Norah’s new kitty, Bradley’s sweet smile and Mommy and Daddy’s new wheels. It was a fun, memorable pit stop.

Question #12 – When was a time you remember surprising someone or being surprised yourself?

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What Weddings, Funerals and Reunions Have In Common

Photo Credit: qcveterans.com

Photo Credit: qcveterans.com

A reader posted yesterday about how she discovered more about her family’s history at her uncle’s recent funeral than she ever had before. It’s sad in a way to think we don’t talk about such things until there’s a death. In fact, this is the opening scene of my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace. At my grandmother’s funeral I am given a beautifully wrapped gift. I want to put off opening it until later, but my Mom insists on me opening it now. Here’s a portion of it:

As I plopped into the black leather seat I felt something crunch underneath me.  It was the gift I had seen on the table!  This was all I needed to deal with now.  I tossed it aside no longer interested in the who or the why questions that had incensed me before the service.

Mama picked up the gift, “Gracelyn, this is for you.  Don’t you want to open it?”

“Um, no! Not now.”

“Why on earth not?”

“Oh, Mama! It’s just not right.”

“Gracelyn, I insist.  It may be the giver will be at the dinner.  You’ll want to be sure to thank them.  I really think it best to open it now.”

Mama usually had the last word, and this time was no exception.  I have learned it’s best to do what she says.  Picking up the gift I slowly rip the paper away revealing a stained wooden box that smelled much like the old church we had just left.  Lifting the lid I discovered the source of the scent – a worn out leather journal.

“What’s this?”  I asked casually hoping my excitement didn’t show.

“I’ve seen this before; why, it belonged to Mama.  See the engraving – Grace Stella Oswalt?”

As I opened the cover a note fell on the floor.  I picked it up only to discover it was in Big Mama’s handwriting.  The brief excitement drained from my fingertips as if the dead were calling my name.

“M-Mama, you read it.”

Dear Gracelyn,

I am an old woman now, and time is running out for me to share with you my story.  I’ve waited for you to ask, but now the waiting ends.  You are my youngest granddaughter, and one who reminds me so much of myself.  It is my prayer as you read this journal you will grow in your understanding of who you are and to whom you belong.  Your life is not your own to live as you want.  I learned this the hard way, and I pray this journal will help you after I am long gone.  Read it well and remember, although life is brief – love is forever.

Affectionately,

Big Mama

I sat there in disbelief as the limo came to a stop.  I wasn’t sure if I was happy to have this gift or angry she singled me out as needing special help.  Maybe it was a little of both, but as hard as it was to admit, I was comforted.

Older family members tend to talk more at reunions and weddings as well. So it’s not just during the saddest of times, it’s more at the pivotal times when family is elevated and given the prominence it deserves. Many young people roll their eyes when they think of going to a family gathering, especially if there’s going to be old people there who only remember them when they were knee high.
We had our first family reunion of distant cousins a few years ago here in Orlando. People traveled from all over the country, but the majority flew in from Oklahoma. My Mom had the time of her life. At 87 she was the oldest living family member there, and everyone had questions to ask her. We made a huge family tree on the wall of our meeting room and asked those attending to bring pictures in order to tape it next to their name. This helped us realize how far reaching our roots have spread in the past century. I also happened upon a conversation starter called Table Topics for Family Gatherings. This ended up being my favorite part of the entire weekend, because people told stories we had never heard before–and we laughed. We laughed until we thought our sides would split.
May I encourage you, if you have the privilege of being invited to a family reunion this year, instead of being the one to roll the eyes, why not look at it as a great adventure where you’re setting out to discover things you don’t know about your family. And then, come back  here and let us know what you’ve learned. A story become more permanently fixed in your mind when you’ve repeated it to someone else.
We all have a story, we just might not know it yet!

Questions #11 – Have you ever been to a family reunion? What was it like, who was there, and what stories did you learn?

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This is post #11 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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Tell It To Your Children and Your Children’s Children

Photo Credit: Pam, The Nomad blog

Photo Credit: Pam, The Nomad blog

A hundred years ago, before radio or television was invented, families sat around after dinner telling stories from their experiences. My Mom knew much of her family history simply by listening to the stories over and over again as told by her parents and grandparents. What a great way to tell their children and grand-children about life and what they had learned along the way.

But families don’t do this so much anymore. Of course, there are those who are intentional and do this on a regular basis (click the picture above to hear about one family who is intentional). But to those who are more comfortable clicking the “on” button on the remote than you are waiting in the silence while someone thinks how to answer a question, please give this month’s challenge a try. You never know what treasures of history are waiting to be discovered and how it might affect you. And most likely you will laugh when you hear the stories told in a way that makes it unforgettable.

Why is it that when we look back to when we were younger the days seemed better and life seemed easier? But was it really? Or are we simply choosing to remember the parts we liked or the parts we can make sense of? One thing is certain, we can learn from our past as well as the past of those who have gone before us. Most are willing to talk about it because the time and distance has made the story easier to discuss. This brings us to our next question that I would like to hear how you would answer this question, as well as encourage you to ask someone in your family whom you don’t already know the answer they would give.

Question #5

What did you love most about where you grew up? 

 

“Generations pass like leaves fall from our family tree. Each season new life blossoms and grows benefiting from the strength and experience of those who went before.”

Author: Heidi Swapp

 

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I am taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.
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