genealogy – i am doing it

Mar 27, 2013

It has been one year since our trip to Utah in the invalid mobile. Kat and Jessica made that trip one hilarious adventure after another. Doctor’s visits, MRIs, little teeny-tiny needles that are used on babies and yet still freaked me out, hospital gowns, a full-rainstorm of tears over delicious Thai food, puddles of urine all over my mattress and my valiant friends trying to change my clothes, mooning Roy, UT (completely on accident, of course), sheer terror on my part being overcome by the love, support, and courage of my friends, and a million miracles all orchestrated by God.

One year today.

It has been an amazing year. I am deeply grateful for the experiences I have had since that day. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned. I am grateful for the guidance of the Spirit and the care of my Savior. I am grateful to God for the blessings he has poured out upon me. I am grateful to my husband for his unwavering support, never-ending patience, and tender care of my aching body. I am grateful for an army of friends who have prayed, cooked, cleaned, hugged, smiled, cheered, laughed, cried, and carried me through this year. I wish every suffering person could have a battalion of my friends.

One year ago today Jessica’s father gave me a powerful priesthood blessing. I was sure he would deliver words of healing to my soul. Promises of a full recovery for my hip injury. Relief from the immense pain I was in. But he didn’t. God had a different message for me.

I was commanded to find my family and help them by doing their temple work. At the time I didn’t even know I had family that needed their work done and did not even identify my father’s family as my family. They were complete strangers to me and I had no interest in them and could not comprehend they had an interest in me. In that blessing I was told they are watching, waiting, and praying for me. I was told they love me. I had a very hard time believing those words at the time, but now I know they are true. I know that many of these ancestors have guided me to find themselves and their loved ones. I know many of them have had hard lives of pain and struggle and that these ordinances are providing a way for them to learn and grow in their relationship with their Savior. I know that as I continue to pray for them that their hearts will be changed and they will find healing and peace through the ordinances of the temple.

So how has this all worked out? Well, it took me over two weeks to decide to be obedient. At the time I didn’t want to do it. It was very difficult for me to accept that God had called me to something so big because that meant I had to accept on a deeper level than I ever had before that He loved me and could ask me to do a very specific thing for Him. I had to take His love into my heart and allow it to change my heart. I didn’t want to change. I felt just fine as I was. I also didn’t know the first thing about doing genealogy and I didn’t want to learn. I wanted my hip to be healed and to be free to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to run and jump and play and stop hurting. Perhaps the biggest thing feeding my reluctance is I had a sense of just how huge this undertaking would be. I could feel the weight of it settling down on me and I could not comprehend how I could do something so big. I knew I didn’t have the time, the skills, or the love to do it.

So, I hemmed and hawed. I cried a lot. But on April 15, after many days of delay, I started. That first day was frustrating. I couldn’t figure out how to do anything. I read outdated instructions on the internet about floppy disks and pedigree charts and about screamed in frustration that genealogy was living in the dark ages. I called my mom and ranted. She told me to call my Aunt Louise and find out how to start. Well, Louise was super helpful and explained everything and off to the races I went. Many hours later I had 30 people entered into my tree and was on fire with how exciting it all was. The first person I found was Sallie, my father’s grandma. I fell in love with Sallie. I even found her last living daughter through one of those people-search sites and called her up. Of course she had no idea who I was, but it was wonderful to ask her questions about Sallie and her family and get a little sense of who these people are.

The next morning my eyes popped open at 6:00 (which is a huge anomoly – I am NOT a morning person) and I opened my iPad and got right to work again. I did a google search for the next person on my list and was given a link to RootsWeb. I clicked on it and found all sorts of information about my ancestor. I clicked around some more and kept seeing this woman’s name, Rosalie, with her contact information, so I wrote to her. It turns out she is a genealogist and had been researching her family for the past thirty plus years. She is related to me on both sides of my father’s line and so all her research is the same research I needed to do, but it was already done! We have been talking and sharing information ever since and have made some amazing discoveries together.

Since then I have kept working on my family tree and my life has changed a lot. I shifted gears and it has taken some time to figure out how to balance wifehood, motherhood, friendhood, laundryhood, and all the other hoods of my life (who am I kidding, I haven’t even begun to find balance yet, it is still pretty much all-consuming!). I have added thousands of people, witnessed many miracles, received guidance from both the Holy Ghost and these ancestors, and invited many people to do ordinance work at the temple for my family.

If you are not LDS, you are probably wondering what ordinance work is…well, let me explain. When an adult is ready to make covenants with Heavenly Father, they go to the temple and receive their endowment, which is a gift from our Father to allow us to enter into covenant with Him and receive spiritual help for our journey back to Him. You can read more about it here. After we have made these covenants for ourselves, we can then stand in place of our deceased ancestors and make the same covenants for them. We believe these ancestors are then able to accept the covenants and receive the blessings of being in a covenant relationship with God and the spiritual help it bestows or choose to not accept the covenants. They are not at all bound by what we do here. It is a gift we can give them and they are completely free to partake of the gift or not. When we go to the temple for our ancestors, there are six different ordinances to do. Baptism, confirmation of the Holy Ghost, initiatory, endowment, sealing to parents, and sealing to spouse. Once our youth are twelve years old, they can participate in baptisms and confirmations and my girls and their friends go to the temple about once a week to do so. Only adults can do the last four ordinances and so I have enlisted many friends, family, and ward members to help me. In the past year we have done thousands and thousands of ordinances. It has been an amazing experience, far more precious than I can describe in a blog post.

Now it has been one year since God invited me on this path with Him and I am pleased with my work. I have done what He asked me to do. To me, that is huge. I am often not that great at being the most dependable person, my house is not organized or well-run, I lose papers all the time, I lock myself out of my car, and I am often late to appointments. But I have done this. I have stuck with it. I have put thousands of hours into this endeavor. I have not given up. Most of all, I have changed. My heart has been softened and been filled with love for these people I have never met in this life.

Today twenty to thirty of my friends will be joining me in the temple to do the sealing ordinances for hundreds of my family members. We will be giving them the opportunity to be joined together for eternity as husband and wife and parent and child. It is the crowning jewel of all the ordinances because it allows a family to be together forever.

I am so excited. I almost can’t breathe with all the anticipation that has been building inside me.

If any of you local friends would like to join us, please do! Email me and we will get it all figured out.

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  1. Mommer

    I am so excited that Mikelle and I are here and can participate in this special day with you and your friends!!!

  2. Rachael Hagge

    we need to talk. if. you want.

    • tracy

      How are you doing Rachael? Sending love your way!