What Drew Me to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…

It’s time I put this down in writing.

First of all, we need to go back five years when I started this blog…this is what I wrote:

Since you’re probably dying to know:  Independent and agnostic. <–That is historical context for my descendants in 100 years.

Per the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

agnostic: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable

My entire adult life has been defined as above. I attended different services at different churches at different times. What I found difficult with attending those services is being preached to without context. Sure, who doesn’t know John 3:16, but what does that mean to me? One could say I could’ve devoted a little time to figuring that out…this is true, I could have. Maybe that means God wanted me to experience more, learn more, before making the ultimate decision to come to Him. Maybe this has been my path all along. I trust that God is guiding me now and forever!

You can be reunited with your family after death, your temporal family and your spiritual family. That’s it. That’s what I needed to know. I had always believed that once you die, you cease to exist. But then I wondered, your physical body ceases to exist but does your soul? My friend Sister F* explained it so well…that energy has to go somewhere! It is a very comforting feeling to know that someday you’ll be with loved ones you knew on Earth, loved ones who came before and after you, and your Heavenly Parents. Since I was taught that, I have felt nothing but light to the depths of my soul. I literally smile when I think about the Church or reading scriptures or thanking God for leading the way.

I could say my journey to God began before I was even born. He knew me then. He knew I would want to find my way, learn, and come to believe His word. I could say my journey involved divine intervention on 1 August 2015 when I first met my friend Sister F*. Heavenly Father crossed her path with mine! I could say my journey to this very moment began on 6 May 2019 when Sister F* shared with me what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was all about. I could say my journey back to God began on 20 July 2019 when I was baptized and confirmed on 21 July 2019 as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Emerging from the baptismal font, I felt joyful, ecstatic, newly born! Yes, it took three dunks but maybe I needed those three to wash away years of sin! My friend, Sister F*, was there to meet me coming out of the water…what a wonderful day!

A member of this Church, Sister B*, spoke about the Holy Ghost following the baptism. She said I know God is with you at this moment. She had no idea how true those words were. She had mentioned that with my job at the Museum I have to retain so much knowledge and share it with others, and I’ve always been happy to do so. Earlier that day, however, I had gone to work with a litany of to-do items that I really wanted to get done in the three hours I would be working. A volunteer I hadn’t seen in a few months came in unexpectedly. She has always been an avid supporter of the Museum and its activities. We wound up spending my entire workday brainstorming ideas to drum up interest in our community. I didn’t get anything on my list done. After I left the Museum to run errands, I was trying to figure out the best time to get back to the Museum to catch up. I’m not going to lie, it adds a bit of stress to my life, especially leaving things undone. On the other hand, I can’t turn a deaf ear to someone who is so enthusiastic about the Museum’s mission. So, yes, God was with me in that moment in Sister B*’s words; hearing her say that God has gifted me with this love of local and family history so that I may share it with others was God’s way of reassuring me that the items on my to-do list will get done and He had even sent someone who is genuinely excited to plan and help carry out activities at the Museum!

The next day at Church, I was confirmed and received the Holy Ghost through the most beautiful blessing bestowed by Brother C*. I was surrounded by my new family who shared in praying with those wondrous words, and my soul beamed brightly. Thus begins my true journey…and I have never been so sure of anything in my life!

There is sunshine in my soul today,

More glorious and bright

Than glows in any earthly sky,

For Jesus is my light!

FIVE YEARS…and counting!

June 24 came and went without much fanfare…indeed, it was the 5th anniversary of LifeCitation! This is not an excuse…more like an explanation…I was out of state attending the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, otherwise known lovingly as GRIP. How to describe GRIP? I’ve heard “summer camp for genealogists,” though no one has time to sit around a campfire singing Kumbaya. There were crafts…crafting citations, proof arguments, case studies. People wrote a lot about their families, not to their families. People learned a lot…about technology, finding the right tool to break down those brick walls, and about the very substance that makes us uniquely us…DNA. To learn more about this summer’s sessions and next summer’s sessions, go here.

My particular experience at GRIP…this was my first time attending. I chose “Mastering the Art of Genealogical Documentation” led by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA. Dr. Jones is a leading expert in the genealogical field, with many years of educating, researching, writing, and editing. Documentation is the foundation of solid genealogical writing…I knew that this was the first course I wanted to take. For five short days, I focused on learning how to craft a well-written citation. And, to paraphrase Dr. Jones, we are always learning.

GRIP instructors being introduced; Dr. Jones is at the far left in the red shirt.

During GRIP, I had an assignment due in my ProGen39 course…a proof argument/case study. My assignment was using derivative records with secondary sources and one original record with a primary source to determine the place of birth of my 2nd-great-grandmother, Mary (Ammerman) Ford…was she born in Illinois or Indiana? At the time of her birth (1838), no official birth records were kept in either state, and there were no newspapers announcements that I could find. So, I used her death certificate, her children’s death certs, census records, and a War of 1812 widow’s pension record of her mother. I think I proved her place of birth, at least to the state level. As to the county level, it’s questionable. If anyone is interested in reading it, let me know and I’ll upload it here after it’s reviewed in class this week.

Regarding ProGen39, we have two assignments left to turn in…time has flown! I have learned so much from the group I’m in…talk about inspiring women! These ladies are fantastic. I had the pleasure of meeting one of my group members, Diana, at GRIP…hopefully next summer more of our group can attend a session in Pittsburgh together. That, too, would be fantastic!

Coincidentally, I was able to do some on-site research the day GRIP ended in Jefferson County, Ohio, in the city of Steubenville. The man I believe to be my 5th-great-grandfather, Israel Massey, died there in 1885 and is buried at the Union Cemetery. If you ever have a chance to visit this cemetery, please do! Online, I was able to find what section Massey was buried in and also used their map to find that section. He and several members of his family (son and grandchildren) are also buried in the same plot, but only what appeared to be three headstones remain.

This is one of the three headstones; all look like this. I believe these are three headstones for Massey’s grandchildren (children of Cyrus Massey).

Israel was born around 1792 in Maryland; his parents immigrated here from Ireland. His daughter, Mary Elizabeth (Massey) Devore, is my 4th-great-grandmother. She lived in southeastern Ohio until she and her family moved west to Louisa County, Iowa, in 1877. Whenever I get the opportunity to explore places my ancestors lived, I jump at the chance!

So…two major life changes to share with you. One, my former married surname is officially dropped. Secondly, I’ve decided to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after much consideration. A friend of mine mentioned in passing about a year or so ago that she belonged to the Mormon Church in our hometown. I didn’t even know there was one in our town…less than 5 minutes from my home! We began talking and then I studied what I could online. It was as if a light was shining inside me…this was what I had been looking for my entire adult life in other religions but had yet to find! Finally, a doctrine aligned with my beliefs and how I’d been living for many years. It’s hard to explain in words, but I felt like I’d come home, joy, welcomed, like I fit in. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon, attending sacrament services, and meeting with the missionaries. My Baptism is planned for July 20. With all my heart and soul, this feels right for me.

As I’m finishing this post on Independence Day, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our Revolutionary War Patriots for sacrificing their lives and fortunes for what would become America and subsequently our freedoms.

I first really listened to this song in high school when we played it in marching band during the commencement ceremony. In recent years, however, I’ve studied the lyrics and history behind it. Hands down, my favorite patriotic tune:

Have a safe and joyous 4th of July, one and all!

Arrangements by my Mom.

And I Thought I’d Seen It All…

I’ve been doing research on the surname “Shultz.” I thought I had seen all possible versions of its spelling.

Nope.

Found “Shoulch” on a census.

Today, I got this:

Wow. Just…wow. I also tested my Mom and Dad. No surprises with Mom. Dad’s showed up 3% Scandinavian. DNA testing is very fascinating. I wonder if I’ll ever find my Italian ancestor.

In MuzeNews, I am the proud grant-writer of my second successful grant! I also just had a lovely 132nd Annual Meeting of our historical society. You read that right…132 years. We are the oldest continually operating historical society in Indiana. Our Museum doors have been open 117 years. Needless to say, I am a very proud executive director!

In mid May I’ll be attending my DAR State Conference, and, in late June, I’ll be attending a genealogical research institute in an area of the U.S. where I will have the opportunity to do family research. I finished my research report for my ProGen39 course, and I’ve begun another one for some pro bono research I’m doing.

This year is turning out to be a ROCK STAR!!!

No, you’re in the middle of a Glee binge!

My apologies Interwebz….it’s been nearly 3 months since I’ve posted.

I’ve about finished a major research report for ProGen39, the 132nd annual meeting at the historical society is in a week, my first year as chapter regent of my DAR chapter is coming to a close, and it’s been 10 years since Glee premiered so I started at the beginning of the series. One ep after another…no commercials…just wonderful singing and teenage angst. It’s so weird watching it now where they just barely mention Facebook and Instagram is not even a thing.

***Shout-out to my special Glee friend (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE remember CO!!!)…been thinking of you…hope you’re doing okay!***

At this point, my life is so very full of joy at nearly every turn. My sons are growing into nice young gentlemen, my job literally could not be any better than what it is, and I get to do what I love every. single. day.

Speaking of Instagram, I’m trying it for the historical society…we’re henrycountymuseumin. Please try to contain your laughter.

Other than that, I’m anxious to check out the upcoming 2019-20 Erin Condren LifePlanners…the theme is “kaleidoscope.” I never really thought about it, but I like the word kaleidoscope and what it means, especially related to the intricacies of family history. Family history, or genealogy, is not static and it’s not just documents and photos…it’s fluid, it ebbs and wanes over time, it’s ever-changing.

How do you like my letterhead?

Lots o’ Love

I’ve given this a fair amount of thought…my least favorite holiday is New Year’s Day. I think it’s the letdown after all the hype that is Christmas.

My favorite holiday, however, is Valentine’s Day! I ❤ love! Currently, I’m learning more about Victorian Valentines…beautiful works of art.

There are also some great new lovely items at Erin Condren…check ’em out!

Love every day with Erin Condren Life Planners!
Get your lovin’ on!

HCGA

Henry County Genealogy Alliance is brand new. My personally founded genealogy group, East Central Indiana Genealogy Alliance (ECIGA), disbanded in December 2018. From those ashes, HCGA was born. HCGA exists under the umbrella of the historical society. I’m not sure Henry County has ever had a formal genealogical society, to be quite honest.

HCGA will have one live webinar this year AND a one-day seminar.

Question for my genealogy-focused followers: What topic would you like to join for a live webinar where you could ask questions of the presenter? What kind of speakers would you be interested in seeing at a one-day seminar?

Please share your ideas! Help me brainstorm!

Need a Little Christmas…

Not me! I enjoy the holidays as much as anyone else. This year, I spent a great amount of time out and about in the community, sharing information about the Museum, DAR, and old-timey Christmas. I handed out over 250 candy canes with free passes to the Museum attached. I helped stuff around 300 stockings for active military personnel serving overseas. I feel honored to be in the position I’m in. I’m already planning for next year.

My favorite Christmas song is “We Need a Little Christmas.” But, I listen to it after the holidays…when all the adrenaline is spent and I need a pick-me-up. Such a great sing-along song!

Before I forget or get swept up in family get-togethers, I wanted to wish any and all readers the happiest of holidays and the brightest of New Years!

Writing a holiday card using a free downloadable print from ErinCondren.com found here!

Time Flies so They Say!

And, boy, have I had fun! I can’t believe it has been more than 2 months since my last post.  I’ve been meaning to sit down to write a post but I’ve been writing other things…

I have now written a total of three grants…one accepted, one declined, and one just submitted.  My fourth one is due by the end of the year.  Another one will be due in February 2019.

Speaking of 2019, that is really all that I’m thinking about right now.  My holiday engagements are in the books, and I’m beginning to calm down.  So, what has been happening in my world?

MUSEUM:  We set up at our community Christmas Walk, participated in the Candlelight Tour, conducted our own Open House, along with a few other functions.  For about 10 days, I wasn’t sure if I was coming or going!  In the midst of all this, I had a hard drive crash and learned how to get Windows 10 up and running again.

Uh-oh! I snapped this photo whilst standing under the mistletoe!
Night of Candlelight Tour!
My special ornament.

DAR:  Had our Christmas meeting and helped stuff stockings for active-duty military personnel.

This was just the beginning!
Madrigal Ensemble from local high school…excellent performance!

I also created an evidence analysis and business/marketing plan in my ProGen39 course.  Right now, I’m updating my resume to turn in as an optional assignment.  Never hurts to keep that document updated!

I am in the process of assisting TEN ladies hoping to join the DAR!  I have learned so much about different families, as well as different regions of our country.  It is humbling to be a part of this special process.

I updated our Museum volunteer handbook and created a groups meeting policy.  I’m in the process of creating a disaster preparedness plan, as well.  As we near 2019, I’m preparing our Board for StEPs, an AASLH program that very much needs to be instituted for our organization.

I have written so many letters I’ve lost count.  And that brings me to my main point of this post…intentionality.  Everything I do for the Museum and DAR is with a purpose; it’s intentional.  I realize that many other people do a number of things that might go unnoticed, things that help the Museum in ways untold, things that help veterans and children and women in a variety of ways.  I witness these activities on a near daily basis.  My goal, since taking over as Museum executive director and as my DAR chapter’s regent, is to recognize these individuals personally.  I sit down and write a letter, or thank-you note, or special message.  Sometimes these are typewritten in the interest of time, but they are always, unfailingly, signed in my own hand.  I have templates for common letters, but I always add my own words in some fashion.  That is the least I can do for someone who has done so much.

Watch here in 2019 for more about the not-yet-lost-art of letter writing!