Inspiration to sustain me as a mother, home educator, and family historian was on my mind today. My desire to inspire family, friends, church members, and complete strangers to be involved in the conscious preservation of their family history perpetually consumes my thoughts. Additionally, I want to be a light of Christ to the world and become an instrument in my Savior’s hands.
How often do we look for the glory when the journey matters most?
Typing that paragraph was tough. Having participated in pageants and having achievement oriented parents, if I’m going to do anything, I need to have grand ideas and accomplishments in the activity. Making an A wasn’t good enough. The + beside the A mattered. There wasn’t much glory in competing, one needed to bring home some ribbons or the crown to be successful. Only recognition mattered, and the higher the prize, the more noteworthy. Ultimately, this way of thinking creates too much stress. With heart disease in my family history, I need to find something that will off-set his mentality.
Amazingly, the thought to “Not Look Beyond The Mark” popped out in a book I read, a talk I further researched and tied me back to family history. I don’t know all the details of the lives of my ancestors, but many of them are dear to me because of the simple choices they made. The choice to raise a brother after a mother died. The choice to adopt two children in the 1920s. The choice to be happy even though a spouse has died. The choice to leave Germany and settle in Columbus, Ohio or Ontario, Canada. The choice to make smiley-faced pancakes for grandkids.
There is so much magic in ordinary days and even simple moments. My brother-in-law was just in town and he went with four of my kids to the park. I thought I had walked four kids and one adult to the park across a busy street. What I saw was five kids having a great time together, one was just above average in height. The memory was of an Uncle sliding down a twist slide with Quatro in a hurry to be off the slide before Dos and Tres caught them on the way down. My BIL did not look beyond the mark of the moment. He embraced this opportunity to play with one niece and three nephews.
These Smiley-faced Pancakes Tell A Lot of Stories
Those pancakes represent great stories. My mother-in-law introduced them to my oldest two children when they were very little. At the time, BJ lived quite a distance away. She planned to make the pancakes with her two little grandchildren but to make them super special. After the first introduction of these happy breakfast items, they have become a staple when Nana is in town. She did not look beyond the mark of an ordinary moment.
Those pancakes are made from a “just add water” mix. For a girl who grew up with a mother who thought if it wasn’t “baked, nuked, or ordered in,” it wasn’t done for dinner, this is an achievement. I have since learned to make pancakes from scratch but the time spent is not as important as the fact that my children often have more than just cereal for breakfast. My mother’s cooking habits and mine are the story behind that photo.
As I press on forward with my family history and daily goals this year, I hope that I’ll remember the motto to not look beyond the mark. I could become over zealous with family history that I annoy folks rather than inspire them. I could become so focused in learning the latest thing to hit the genealogy forefront that I don’t spend time being a mother and home educator. I could become so hung up on the way something is presented, that I never complete a scrapbook, narrative essay or attach a memory to FamilySearch.org. All of these situations look beyond what was most important.
So I’m resetting my vision on the goals I set for the year. I’ll rely on the magic of the doing what matters most rather than worry it’s not going to win great acclaim. In doing so, my children and ancestors will remember me as someone who not only preserved our legacy but created one as well.
Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.