Thursday, February 3, 2022

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Turning Hearts

I am blessed that the pandemic has been a time of turning my heart to my family, both present and past. When we were unable to see the grand boys, I hosted story time on Zoom! I treasure the daily phone calls I made to my brother and sister in 2020. I continue with almost daily calls to my sister, my one remaining sibling. My son calls me almost daily, always with a grandchild or two or three at his side. I love this video of a young man's discovery of the importance of journal keeping and looking to the past.

My interest in family history exploded when I attended the Roots Tech conference in February 2020. They have moved to an all virtual and completely free conference for the past two years. This year's conference is March 3-5, 2022. You can sign up and view sessions from the 2021 conference here.

I believe the words of Malachi are being fulfilled as our hearts turn to our families and our ancestors: 

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4: 5-6)

One of my favorite activities is saving and sharing family photos and stories. We have very few written accounts of our family history, but I have enjoyed connecting with cousins through Facebook to learn more about my dad's family. A cherished memory from 2020 was a Scifres cousin gathering on Zoom. Another way that I have learned more about family members is by utilizing features on FamilySearch. I like adding pictures to the Memories section and then I look at Details and Timeline to learn more about the person.

This year I'm choosing to highlight one ancestor a month by joining a challenge from Megan at Modern Genealogy. In January, I chose my maternal great grandmother, Mary Ann Wilson. Here's what I learned about this remarkable woman and shared on January 30.

"Happy birthday to my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Wilson Martin. She would be 151 years old today. She was born in Potter, Polk County, Arkansas and married William Martin when she was 19 years old. Mary Ann was one of 11 children and had a twin sister named Martha Ann. Mary Ann had 11 children and a set of twins too - my grandmother, Ella Martin and her twin brother, Elvis Martin. In the picture, Mary Ann is seated on the far left, in the middle is Molly Martin (great-grandpa’s sister) and then my great-grandfather, William Martin. Dog’s name is unknown! Mary Ann died in Olney Springs, Crowley, Colorado in 1936 when she was 65 years of age. #ancestorofthemonth #moderngenealogy"

You may be familiar with Bruce Feiler's article, "The Stories that Bind Us."

"Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves. When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.

The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come."

Now is the time to help your family thrive by telling your family stories! 

Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
is hosting Spiritual Journey Thursday
this month and provided heart as our prompt.


  1. I was just talking to my husband about family stories, shared stories from our ancestors. I agree there is so much love and beauty in these, and it is especially important to share the stories of struggle and perseverance. I need to do more research on our family history! Thank you for this post.

  2. Ramona,
    You are an inspiration, and I love the way you are nurturing storylines. Preserving the past and being wholly present in today allows for rich stories to be collected.

  3. Oh, this is so wonderful! Years ago I would write letters to "my old people." Over time, these people would pass on and there would be "new" old people. I wish I had those letters. But, I've continued that tradition. I like to share a brief memory that's happy or positive in some way. This post reminds me of that. Maybe you could lead a workshop in this?! It would be fabulous.

  4. I love your emphasis on telling positive family stories and writing about difficult times and perseverance. I'm going to check out some of your links also. Thanks so much!

  5. Ramona, I adore your old photos and family recollections! This focus on having a happier family by creating, refining, and retelling the stories of persevering and overcoming - that is MIGHTY. I didn't realize as a child that my grandmother and father were consummate storytellers. I do not think they thought they were. They're gone now but their stories remain with me, a legacy in infinite value. Thank for this post to turn our heart to our families and ancestors - magnificent!

  6. Your attention to family is so admirable. With the pandemic and my parents move to a retirement home, I haven't been in touch as much; although, my siblings and I purchased Storyworth for a year for my dad to write his stories. I had not read that telling family stories of resilience made them happier. Makes sense. Thanks for this full post.

  7. Ramona, I finally have some quiet time to read and write. Your post is a wonderful collection of thoughts on family. Family has always been important to me. We have gone through many stages of the good and the bad. I wish you well in collecting your stories for your little ones to remember as they grow older. Since my grandmother was an immigrant from Italy I do not have the background information beyond her generation but I have always longed for that. I just read an article at I would imagine you have read this one. I cannot get into the article you shared because every tine I open it, it stops me at buy a subscription. Is there another way to open it? Thanks for offering so much information. I do remember when you attended the Roots Conference. I agree with Linda that you should lead a presentation.

  8. Ramona, telling our family stories allows us to connect once again with those who passed on.Even stories of struggle that are painful are important to address because it reminds us that we have moved beyond the challenge and found peace with each struggle that comes our way. I was not able to get into the link for Stories That Bind Us.Do you have another link?