The Family Tree Grows

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I’ve been working on my family tree since Christmas.  Here is a little update on what I’ve found.  I have found it to be fascinating (like seeing an actual copy of a great-grandfather’s 1917 draft registration card with his own signature on it) and frustrating (like painstaking time spent translating Dutch to English with Google Translate).  I can now recognize the Dutch words for birth, died, married, none, municipality (of), female, male, year(s), month(s), father, mother, bride, groom.  I can read most of a Dutch birth, marriage or death record and get the gist of it.  Deciphering the handwriting though — well, that’s something else completely. Totally random, but remember the Burgermeister Meisterburger from the 1960’s stop-motion movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town? He was the cranky fat man who outlawed all the toys.  Okay, so a Burgermeister (pronounced: bur-ger-mice-ter)  is a real person.  I mean, it’s a real thing.  He was basically the village clerk keeping the official records. 

~ I got a hit on my DNA with a possible distant relative.  It seems we share a common ancestor 5 generations back on my tree, or what would be one set of my great-great-great grandparents; 3rd or 3x great-grands.  This “match” appears to be closer to my parents age.  I’m guessing based on the number of branches that follow after him (3: kids, grands, great-grands) compared to my own (2: kids, grands).  I understand the website’s need for privacy for family members still living on the trees built on the site, but it would be nice to have some names and birthdates for what seems to be a 4th Cousin. All I can see is PRIVATE in box after box after box.

~ 4 new babies have been born and added in the last month from one First Cousin and then two Second Cousins. Thanks to Facebook I saw the announcements. People don’t mail birth announcements anymore, do they? One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the tragedy of newborns who don’t survive. Medicine and NICU have come so far and despite all the interventions some babies just aren’t strong enough to overcome.

~ 1 mystery was solved regarding a Nellie, who wasn’t illegitimate after all (WHEW!) just in the wrong place.  When a repeated first name shows up and you don’t know if the last name given was her maiden or married name it can get confusing. The 1800s are rife with repeated and reused names.  It was not unusual after a child died to name the next one born the exact same as their dead sibling. And unlike George Foreman who did name all of his boys George I, II, III, IV and V these people didn’t specify which one came first or second.  I spent some time digging through Dutch records to find out who she was. This Nellie was wrongly placed on the tree under her married name.  Once her maiden name was figured out I just had to make sure her parents were correctly listed. If you don’t remove the wrong ones your relative would hang on two separate branches and then things get really messed up.

~ Four (so far that I know) have served in the US Armed Forces during WWII, Korea, and peacetime between and after that. My great uncle (grandfather’s brother) served as a clerk in the Marine Corps from his enlistment in April, 1943 until April, 1946 achieving the rank of Technical Sergeant. I didn’t know he was in the military until I was in my 20’s and I saw his USMC tattoo on his arm. My mother’s brother served in the Navy after Korea in peacetime. He spent time in Japan.   I wonder if my very straightlaced uncle has a Navy tattoo hiding up his sleeve.

~ A 3x great-grandfather (Albertus, b.1818) was married 4 times and had 11 children. Four of whom died between birth and age 6.  Sadly each of his wives saw one of her children die.  I’m thinking he must have been wealthy or how could he be in his mid-40s (somewhat old in that era) and marry a young woman.  The eldest child was born in 1844; the youngest in 1878. I have not found out if any of the later wives had been widowed, or had children from previous marriages.  Finding them would be a curiosity, more than a necessity.

~ My 2nd great-grandfather (Karst, b. 1844), the eldest son of the one I just mentioned, was married twice and had 10 children.  Likewise he and his first wife suffered the loss of two young children; a third died at age 30.

~ A 1st cousin 2x removed [my grandpa’s 1st (half) cousin — I’m 2 generations away so that make it 2x removed — or also: 2nd great-grandfather Karst’s grandson through his second wife — you know in case you weren’t confused enough already] was an international champion billiards player (who I knew about, just didn’t know what branch he hung on). He served in the Army during the Korean Conflict.  I don’t know if he saw combat.  He died at age 37 of cancer.

~ And to make this 2nd great-grandfather’s legacy even more interesting we have this: With Wife 1 he had a daughter called Nellie (her given name was Lummigje); Wife 2 had a son called John with her first husband.  John and Nellie, he was about 17 and she 13, became step-siblings in 1892 when their parents married.  They got married to each other in 1897. He was then about 22 and she was just shy of 19.

The biggest scandals would prob’ly be the folks who left the Dutch Reformed Church for the Christian Reformed Church (yes, that really was a big deal), and a couple of shotgun weddings in the 1800s.

Some thing I have come to realize was the importance and necessity of marriage for the females of the time.  Women couldn’t work enough to support themselves.  Men needed a wife to take care of house, home and children, and if she died there was no one to do that job. Men had to remarry in order to have someone help raise the children left behind. All this makes me wonder how ‘blended’ families from the 1800s got along. Think about it: eleven children with an age gap of 34 years from oldest to youngest.  Did the sons from Wife 1 feel more entitled than the ones who came later? Did the younger ones even feel a familial bond of any kind with the siblings who were old enough to be their own parent? Maybe the concept of family was different when second cousins and step-siblings married each other. Today is just seems kinda creepy.
The digging for more family roots continues.

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At the Foot of the Cross

Verse 1:
At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received
And You’ve won my heart
And You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Chorus:
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

Verse 2:
At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death you bore for me
And You’ve won my heart
And You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Artist – Don Moen

Album – Thank You Lord

Those are lyrics to a song we’ve been singing in church over the last few weeks as we’ve been taking a closer look at the Twenty-third Psalm.  I have to confess that until we started this sermon series I hadn’t really been moved by the worship time in our church– as a congregation, a member, a believer, a sinner in need of redemption; sad to say, especially as a “church”– in a long time.  How long? close to two years, I think.

I never fully left this home, though for a time I could barely walk through the front doors, and rarely did actually.   I think for me, the feeling of “family” had gone away, and now the Spirit has brought it back and is ready to raise the roof again.

Actually, I think He’s brought me back.

Feeling Lost

Darling Husband and Sonny Boy are gone this week. They are off to Pittsburgh to work with a neighborhood restoration project and won’t be home til the weekend.  The girls and I were planning a little “stay-cation”, but it’s turning into more “stay” than “-cation”.  I had little ambition to do anything– especially the extra’s on my to-do list that need to get done. Jobs that would have gotten noticed had they been done.  I’ve had an alarm set each morning, but had no energy to get moving.  We three ladies have been quite lazy in fact.  I’m not proud, not bragging, and also not feeling any grand scale remorse.

I, just now, pinpointed the cause.  My heart misses him.  I miss him, and the smell of work he has on him when he gets home after a long day, the touch of his hand on the back of my neck, the searching look in his eyes that goes away after our first hug and kiss.

We weren’t always like this.  There was a time when we neither of us cared much if we ever saw the other again.  Our selfishness and unwillingness to contribute 100% to marriage set us on a course hell-bent for destruction.  We climbed the mountain called Rocky Marriage, and just about threw ourselves over the edge. We were on that precipace for a long time, too long. It’s a mental home video that’s still very painful, but the pictures are fading; some of the sound track lingers on.   Unlike childbirth, the pain hasn’t been erased from my memory completely.

I don’t know if I want it too, either.  Not so I can rehash the memory, but so I never forget where our marriage came from, what we went through.  What I put him through.  It needs to stay so we–no, I–  always remember to work at keeping our marriage alive.

God was good, and He rescued us from ourselves, in spite of ourselves.  He taught us how to forgive, and changed hearts to receive forgiveness.

So this week I’ve been feeling lost without him.  I love that man in ways only the heart knows, in which words can not describe.  Saturday can not come soon enough.

Love in the Fast Lane

Not long ago, a teenage MySpace friend –he was the lead in a play my kids were in (I did his make-up) so let’s not even head to the gutter–  posted something onto the Bulletin board and asked this question:

How soon is too soon to tell someone you love them?

After some careful thought, and since Sonny Boy has a girlfriend now too, this was my reply:

You should only say that when you are ready to take care of that person for the rest of their life and put all of their needs ahead of your own, and give up your right to hold a grudge when they screw up.  Before that, it’s not really TRUE love, it’s hormones on infatuation crack.

I had to choose my words very carefully.  If you’ve been reading here, you already know I can get a bit long winded.  This young man is devilishly handsome, a rebel on the outside, but not to his core, and very bright, but also 16.  My words could have been taken as very preachy, pathetic, overly protective, out-of-touch.  Love is a very delicate thing for any of us–but at 16?! It’s the be-all and end-all, over-the-moon crazy fantastic, but very rarely the real true genuine thing. How many high school sweet hearts do you know who are still together, and still in love? I know three couples.

I wanted to add to what I told him, but brevity was necessary, again the “preachy” factor.  This is what I have told my own kids about “wuv..twue wuv” (sorry I love the Bishop from Princess Bride).  Falling is easy, staying takes a lot of hard work and commitment.  Staying in love is a CHOICE, not a feeling. Telling someone you love them should wait.  If it’s really real then you may have the rest of you lives to tell them just how amazingly profoundly they turn your insides to jelly.

This is something else a young man should know about his young lady:  she is a fragile and delicate thing.  Now don’t go sending hate mail about being equal to men. This isn’t about equality in the workplace or society.  This is how we are created, emotionally.  We girls may be tough as nails on the basketball court, or court room, or the assembly line, but when the man we love best of all does something to wound our soul, it’s like putting palm trees on the north pole.  It will kill it faster than you can say POOF!  Knowing this, a young man needs to be very careful.

The other thing he needs know about the heart of the female persuasion: it was designed to be given away– once.  Females were created with a need to be loved. Males were created to be protector and provider of that love.  When a guy tells his girlfriend he loves her, she is inclined to think “he’s the one” and it will last forever.  He more often than not says this to get some quick action, and will move on when he’s tired, bored or finds someone else who catches his eye. That leaves a young lady’s heart bruised, jaded, broken; and she’s less willing to trust the next guy who says “I love you”.  Eventually she may stop altogether, but gets into relationships just so she won’t feel the lonely ache in the pit of her heart.

I LOVE YOU are three of the most powerful words on the planet.  I wish more people treated them that way.  And my mySpace friend sent a reply.  He said it was the best advice he’d gotten back, and then reposted my answer for all his world to see.