Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Hearts Desire - Broken China Heart Pendant

A hearts desire is...
a smile, a whisper, a kiss
My hearts desire, this.  


Give the gift of love any time of year. This piece will be available at the PFATT Marketplace February 10th.
 



Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Elephant In the Room - Actions Have Consequences

There's so many ways to approach this topic, as the emotions I'm having are washing over me like a river. I'm not one to run to heartache or pain, it's not something I want to dive into and wallow around in, but right now it's almost unavoidable. For far too long though, I've not let myself feel deeply, the profound sense of loss I'm feeling right now. Sure, it's always lurked around in the back of my mind, but I've tried to avoid thinking about it as it isn't productive to dwell on something you can't change.

It's a good thing my husband is gone right now, as I need a couple of days to just sit around and cry when the tears overwhelm me. The quiet and opportunity to grieve alone without having to think about anything I don't want to is a blessing. I'm too emotionally tied into the needs and wants of others, and often deny myself the chance to just sit and ponder and feel.

So where am I going with all of this? What is that elephant in the room that everyone walks around, but pretends isn't there? Even when we bump into it by chance, or slam into it by choice, we act as if it's not there, because we want what we want when we want it, and don't want anyone telling us we can't have that "thing" or do that "thing". We don't want to acknowledge that actions have consequences that impact those around us, often for the rest of their and our lives.

There was a time when most people believed that physical intimacy outside the bonds of marriage was wrong. Everyone knows where babies come from, and at one time that wasn't something to be taken lightly. In fact when girls or young women got pregnant out of wedlock, families found a way to deal with that, either with a shotgun wedding, or sending the girl off to live with relatives, or in a home for unwed mothers. The understanding was that this wasn't something to celebrate, and more often than not the pregnant person lived in shame and carried that around for the rest of their lives in one form or fashion. I'm not going to say that was a good or a bad thing, because shame or guilt can be a motivation for not making the same mistake twice. Often though, the shame and guilt is there regardless of how anyone else treats the situation. Actions have consequences, and in the case of sexual relations, they can have a far reaching impact that doesn't go away for some, ever.

I'm certainly not here to judge anyone, as only God knows the intent and desires of our hearts, and He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to atone for the poor choices we all make at times. I've made some very big mistakes myself and still regret them to this day. As I start to gather the bits and pieces of my new found siblings life stories, along with allowing myself to face and deal with the profound sense of loss in my heart, it's something that can't be ignored.

There are many in the world today that say there's nothing wrong with doing whatever you want to do, as long as it doesn't hurt others. But for every action, or even inaction, there is an impact on those around us, for good or bad. Just because it's something you want to do, and enjoy doing, doesn't make it okay. The heartache that I've lived with most of my life, and others in my family as well, comes from the choices of others. The heartache my children have gone through comes in part from poor choices I've made.

As I write this my hearts desire is to perhaps get people to think. In working through my pain, and by sharing my pain, I hope to encourage discussion. We live in a world that would use the story of my heartache, and the heartache of others to justify abortion. They say that if you just get rid of the baby no one gets hurt, but that's so misguided, not true, and is selfish. If my mother had had the choice of abortion, and made that choice, her heartache, pain or shame wouldn't have gone away. Much like the profound sense of loss I'm feeling right now, she would have suffered, as she did anyway. A child is the very essence of who we are. No feeling woman can have an abortion without the emotional impact and sense of loss anyone feels at losing a family member, because that tiny life growing inside the womb is family. That little person is made up of bits and pieces of not only our bodies, but our ancestry. I have two family members I know of that have dealt with life long struggles of alcohol and or drug addiction due in large part to having abortions. Their living children have suffered as well. It has been a heartbreaking thing to see their struggles and not be able to help them.

Part of the discussion we should be having is about the sanctity of life. The mantra from the pro-abortion crowd is women's rights are human rights. How humane is it to brutally mutilate and or poison that tiny life growing inside you? How humane is it to tell your daughter, sister, or other family member that you will be there for them if they do this, and that things will be much better this way? Wouldn't it be much more humane to teach our daughters and granddaughters to respect themselves, to understand that life is sacred, and we must do all we can to keep it sacred? That if we accept responsibility for our actions and don't make another wrong choice, we can find a peace that abortion will never ever bring.

My situation might have been much different had my parents been talked to about intimacy, the why and why not of marriage versus being intimate outside the bonds of marriage. That was something not talked about back then, you were supposed to know.... We as humans are way too smart to put that to chance. We can't assume our children will understand the deeper part of intimacy, the part they don't teach in sex ed at school, that yes, you will have these strong and sometimes overwhelming desires and emotions regarding being physically attracted to someone, and here's why you shouldn't let those feelings run away with you. We should be teaching our children how to avoid getting into a situation where passion rules instead of rational thought. Parents should be taking an active role in knowing where their children are at all times, and help their young people set appropriate boundaries and curfews. Our children should know that the desire to be intimate is God's gift to those who get married, a way to bond a man and woman together emotionally, as well as spiritually. It's part of  God's plan to bring us to earth to live this earthly part of our eternal journey. Without that gift, none of us would be here.

I know so little about my father, but I know enough about my mother and her life story to know that she was a good person who was deeply hurt emotionally and spiritually by the actions of others. She never intended to cause this much pain and heartache in my life, nor do I think did my father.  From the little I've gleaned so far he felt things deeply, and I'm guessing was very hurt by my mother. They were young, and foolish, just as I was at that age. I also had the adults around me telling me conflicting things, and in my own lack of self esteem my life choices reflected that.

In our modern day and age, we should and we must move forward, not backward in society. We must teach our children better than we have been doing! And if they make a mistake, we help them work through that, not by teaching them to avoid responsibility for their actions, but by encouraging them to make the choices that will have the most chance for success and happiness. Regardless of whether you believe in a Heavenly Father, we as earthly parents have a solemn obligation to get serious about this thing we call life, to speak and teach truth. Actions DO have consequences, and that elephant in the room will continue to take up valuable space and time in our lives unless we learn to be unselfish in our actions.

I'm feeling a little better now, as I get this in writing. Oh, that life's lessons could all be as easy as putting pen to paper to work through our struggles. There is a place I can go though, to find help to heal. It's on my knees in humble pleading with my Father in heaven that I can find that peace, and get the relief I need. I have a lot to look forward to in the months and years ahead. I have new found family to get to know and embrace, and what an exciting adventure that will be. That will be a huge part of the healing, not just for me, but my siblings as well, because we are all a part of the essence of our earthly father.

So I am facing that elephant in the room. I don't regret being alive, even with the pain and loss and heartache I've experienced, and am feeling right now. Pain can teach us, it is to learn from, not be embittered by. I will talk about that elephant now, and acknowledge it rather than pretend it's not there. Hopefully it can be used to teach and help others.....



Thursday, January 26, 2017

I Finally Found My Father's Family - Thanks To A DNA Test



Years ago, after a family spat that spanned a couple of states, my grandmother finally got fed up and showed me the photo above. She wanted me to know the truth, which is ironic as it was meant to in part get back at someone who was bad mouthing her and her husband. Mom had passed away by the time I was shown this photo, but as soon as grandma showed it to me I said, "That's my father, isn't it?" She filled me in on the story, and the whole time I was feeling such a sense of relief. That may sound strange regarding just finding out that the man you grew up thinking was your father, wasn't. For me though it answered a lot of questions about how I was treated growing up. 

 Even as a child I had a sense that something wasn't quite right. I always thought it was because I was chubby, and plain, not something you could accuse my two adorable sisters of. There were some obvious times that one person in particular was especially cruel, and I didn't understand that. There were also times I thought I was adopted, especially since I didn't look anything like the parents I was with, or my siblings. Here's this chubby frizzy headed white girl, with two darker and beautiful parents, along with everyone else in the family who were all good looking and trim. It was frustrating at times to figure out where I fit in. Was it because I was fat and homely, or what? Families should never keep secrets, but that's another topic for another time.
 
So I've looked for my father over the years off and on, but with little to go on it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. I had what I though was his name, but that brought up nothing either although my first internet search for him gave me 54 men with the same name. Who knew there were that many French men in the US named Maurice?!  Fast forward to 2016, when I got a DNA test done through Ancestry.com. Talk about intriguing! Not only did I discover that I had nationalities in my genetic makeup I wasn't aware of, I all of a sudden had cousins everywhere, well okay, mostly down south, but there are quite a few! And most of them have French surnames, wow!

I contacted one person because she was at the top of my list of DNA matches, which is one of the great aspects of getting your DNA test done through Ancestry.com. They have the biggest data bank around, and so many people utilize their services that it's the best source I've found for genealogy resources. Couple that with their partnership with the LDS church, and Family Search, and I can search for free. They connect you with anyone who has had a DNA test done through them, and you get a ranking regarding relationship. Some people don't have family trees there, but you can see the surnames you all have in common, that's so cool!

So this person contacts me off and on, and then another member of her family asks for a photo of my father. The next thing you know she is sending me photos, and I'm sitting there crying like a baby, looking at photos of my father and some of his family. She then contacted the son that she knew, and sent him the photo above and he verified that it was his dad, and the rest of the family story regarding siblings. I was up until midnight last night crying and rejoicing and worrying.

 Meet Elmo Anthony Prejean, my father, who has passed on now, but left behind a good wife and three children by that union, as well as three children by a previous marriage. I'm tearing up again thinking about all of this. I frankly thought this day would probably never come. I now have six more siblings, all younger than me, and I was able to talk to one of them today. He is such a nice person, honest and open, and I look forward to getting to know him and his family better. I'm sorry I missed my father, but the good Lord knows what we need, and what's best. I will see him on the other side, and we can get to know each other there.

I'm still a bit befuddled, not quite sure what to say from here except wow! I have a whole new family to get to know, and learn about. My children have another grandparent to learn about. We have Cajun roots, which is awesome, and there's a lot more to learn. Oh the tender mercies of God, and the blessings of believing! I'm grateful for the services Ancestry.com offers and encourage everyone to start building their tree, who knows what fruit that will bear!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Women of Faith - A Call to Prayer For Life

I've been pondering the pro-choice versus pro-life debate for a very long time, as it hurts my heart and soul to think that abortion is thought to be okay by so many now. It occurred to me that there are questions I have about what has changed in society over the past several decades. One is, when did we change from being willing to sacrifice anything for a new baby, regardless of whether they were planned or not? How did women go from believing that the tiny little life growing inside them was a human child, to just a fetus or viable tissue that could be discarded when the timing wasn't right? How many of us were planned by our parents? How many of our moms woke up one morning feeling queasy and thinking, "Oh I must have a bug." to ending up feeling that way for weeks and then finding out that, "Oops! Well that wasn't expected!" How many of us were born into families that struggled a bit financially, or in other ways? How many people do you know that have a life without ever having any sort of struggle?

I had a family member say to me one time as we drove to meet some of her friends for lunch, that she wished she had never had children. The fact that I was pregnant with my first child, and not yet married, made that a particularly hard trip, along with the fact that if she really felt that way, I wouldn't be around either. At that time she didn't know my situation, and I wasn't about to tell her after that, until the engagement was announced. (And yes, I hadn't been taught all I needed to know, and I had so little self respect I got myself in a situation I shouldn't have. Definitely not the way I would recommend starting out married life. I learned the hard way. ) I understand why she said it, as there was a situation in the family that was very heartbreaking for her, her dream of having at least one child married with no issues was dashed. But not ever having children wouldn't have insulated her from heartache or pain. Life has it's hard times, along with the joys. Unfortunately she didn't understand that trials and tribulations are our refiners fire. She didn't understand God, or why he allows others to hurt us at times. Agency is not what most religions I know of teach.

That led me to reflect on the question George Bailey had to answer in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", regarding what life would be like if he had never been born? Do you ever think about the impact you have had on others? What your gentle, strong, calm, firm spirit, or your generosity, kindness, listening ear, teaching heart, and helping hand has done to make someone's life a bit better or easier? Your talent, whether it be the arts, organizational, financial, social, whatever, has surely done someone some good. We all know of someone who is THAT person you can talk to about anything and they listen, and are just there for us no matter what. How about the guy next door who always has a way of making you laugh, or feel good about yourself. Are you that person? What would the world have missed if YOU had never been born?

These questions came to mind because I keep hearing over and over again that pro-lifers are heartless and don't care about the babies that will be abused or neglected. We've had legalized abortion for how many years now and the abuse statistics keep rising. But let's take that thought even further, as in the case of the elderly who are often suffering from more than one physical malady, be it loss of hearing and eye sight, mobility, constant pain due to a physical ailment and so on. If we applied the same logic to our elderly or handicapped and said, "well we surely don't want them to suffer, so why not just end their life? Isn't that the compassionate thing to do?" Of course not!

There are times when many of us wonder, "why me, why did this have to happen?" Sometimes it is what it is, through no fault of our own. Recognizing that there's a higher power out there to help us get through these times is so key to accepting whatever may come our way. A child though, is a blessing, not a curse, yet the outgoing president helped further the notion that abortion is okay by saying about his daughters, "I'm going to teach them about values and morals but, if they make a mistake I don't want them punished with a baby!" My momma always said two wrongs don't make a right. You don't cover one mistake by making another.

There are those out there that would have us as women believe we are victims if the government doesn't ensure birth control or abortion on demand. They say that we don't have control over our reproductive health, as if birth control and abortion are the only answer to not getting or being pregnant. So let me ask you this, if you believe that, how does not having free birth control take away anyone's control over their own body? How would having abortion abolished, except for in the case of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother, make anyone a victim, or not in control of their own health? Anyone is free to go out and buy birth control, and if it doesn't fit the budget, perhaps the  budget needs to be adjusted. Condoms are not out of anyone's price range, and very easy to come by.

I'm surprised at how many women are willingly giving themselves over to those who would use them as a political pawn, or just use them, and then leave them holding the baggage of emotional and spiritual strife due to choices made that weren't in their own best interest. How about making a stand for virtue and morality? How about exercising self control, and having self respect? 

So dear ladies, dear friends and women of faith everywhere, let's send prayers to our Heavenly Father asking that we as women can help our country find it's humanity again. I pray that we can unite as women, and find common ground in caring for children everywhere. I pray we won't be afraid to speak up and say that physical intimacy is sacred, that life is sacred, and anything we do to show respect for ourselves by treating it thus will not only make us better people, but our families and communities will be better served. Pray that hearts will be healed, and women everywhere can find their mother spirit, that tender, loving and gentle but strong spirit we are all endowed with from on high, but have to cultivate to keep. Pray that we can lift each other in trials, and teach each other from our own experiences, that life, and that little unborn life, are worth every struggle, sacrifice and heartache. Pray that they will know they are daughters of a loving Father in heaven. This is my prayer, and may you add yours.....In the loving name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.




Monday, January 16, 2017

Genealogy and Indexing - A Mission Learning Curve

 My family tree is a growing by leaps and bounds in Family Search as well as at Ancestry.com. I want to offer thanks to all the people who are involved in indexing, which, if you're not familiar with it, is the transcribing and publishing of public records for the use of genealogists around the world.
 Think of that, people all around the world are able to help make public and give easy access to records of births, marriages, baptisms, and deaths for those of us who are searching for our ancestry and heritage. It's an amazing effort that has made it possible to find records that I would otherwise have to either pay for, and or travel to the communities of those family members who have passed on to sort through.
What used to take years to research and gather information on is now as easy as clicking on a "hint" at your preferred genealogy site. You can view documents in most cases, although sometimes there's just typed information, but along with names and dates you also find addresses, occupations, and even stories about someone you might be looking for. Sometimes I can almost see these people, feel their joy, their pain, and sense the challenges they faced. In one instance I have an ancestor who signed up for military service in WWI and within two months was lost at sea when the ship he was on was attacked and sank. As I read the death record and that the father had been notified of this young man's passing I could feel the grief he, the father, must have felt at the news. Here was a young man who never had the chance to marry or have a family. He was already well traveled as he had been to Guatemala, and lived in Mexico and then as a young salesman for the Goodyear tire company, went to Havana, Cuba on business. His passport stated that he was going back to the US as soon as possible.
To those who are involved in genealogy I want to offer some words of advice. As you access the links provided to records on a person, please please please take the time to view the actual image of the documents if possible. I've found over and over again names and dates misspelled or recorded, most likely as in the case of census records, as an estimate. You will clearly see a name spelled one way on the record, but the typed data on the page prior may have incorrect data. Don't assume that because a name is spelled slightly different, or a date is just not quite right on the hint page, that the record isn't a match. Do your due diligence, as I've found all sorts of new information, such as other family members, and so on by doing this. I've also realized that I might have passed on that "hint" and potentially lost some key information due to incorrect information on the initial hint page.
A good way to tell if a record is a match although the surname or some of the names are wrong, is to check the recorded address. Often people stayed in the same home for years, and in a lot of census records the street and address are recorded, although sometimes not. My guess is that when taking censuses folks would ask information of whomever might be home, and that person either didn't have all the facts and guessed, or for some reason didn't want to give out the right information. In the case of some of my ancestors they may have had accents that were hard to understand. In one instance the first Julius Proeger to come from Germany has three different immigration years listed in the various census records I've found. I'm not sure, except that I do have a birth record on his wife, what her preferred name was, because I've found Mina, which is on her headstone, Whilhelmina, Minnie, and Mine, and her birth name is Sibylla Mina.
If you are involved in indexing, please be very cautious and read through the record viewed very carefully. Sometimes they are hard to sort out, but most of the incorrect information I've found has been misspelled names. Dates are also an issue, although not as much.
If you are involved in genealogy or indexing I would love to hear from you and get some of your feedback as well as hearing your story.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Pretties for My Pretty Upcycled China


 
Her name is Snow, but she likes green spring, 
pretty butterflies, breezes and birds who sing, 
eyes verdant green, cheeks crimson red, 
her name haunts her head, 
Lo one calls her Rose, thus he gave her ring.
 
A sweet little dish for jewelry, soaps, candy, and treasures. 
 
To be found at Simply Sheryl's