Motivation Monday: Don’t Look Beyond the Mark

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?
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.
Smiley Face Pancakes
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 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

Devon Noel Lee

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.

4 thoughts on “Motivation Monday: Don’t Look Beyond the Mark

  1. What a wonderful post! And I enjoyed the comments, too.

    First of all, I have two 'pancake' stories. My dad used to make us pancakes that looked like things – teddy bears & turtles are what I remember most. But, he could get pretty creative! And, my mom makes the grandchildren (& us) french toast every visit. Sadly, my daughter has recently had to go gluten free, so hopefully we can figure out an alternative.

    I love your points. We do need to be making memories, not just saving the memories of those who've went before us! And, I love what you said from the RootsTech talk about a flawed recorded story being better than a perfect unpublished one!

  2. Wendy,

    RootsTech live streaming had a presentation on Saturday about writing the 10 Best Stories of our lives. The one thing that jumped out at me was when the speaker said something like a flawed recorded story was better than a perfect unpublished one. Create the family history scrapbook. I made one and showed it to my aunts and cousins. They pointed out the mistakes I made and I changed them. Then I printed a new one and moved on. I wouldn't have known some of the mistakes if I hadn't created it in the first place.

    Additionally, my personal scrapbooks are filled with flaws. The one I won't ever live down was when I made my fifth son's 1st year book. On the outside spine of the book, I used my middle son's middle name for the fifth son's middle name. Then, to top it off, I changed our last name from LEE to LEEN. The family lovingly teases me about my mistakes. Now it's a tradition to look at the printed albums in search of mom's latest mistake.The mistakes are part of my charm, I suppose.

    You can do it! Any time you need a cheerleader in your corner, let me know. I'm hear for you

  3. I have a pancake memory too. We always make pancakes from scratch. After my daughter spent the night with a friend one time, she couldn't wait to tell us that there was actually a box mix we could have been using.

    I need to follow your lead and not look beyond the mark. I have done lots of traditional scrapbooks and plenty of digital photo books about our vacations, but I can't seem to START my family history book for fear it won't be perfect, for fear it won't be complete, for fear it will be boring or just wrong.

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