Monday, November 28, 2011

Our First Advent

Zachary lighting the first Advent candle

I have many fond Advent memories going back to when I was a small child.  It is one part of the Christmas season untainted by commercialism, secular music, and the busyness so many people feel this time of year.  For me, it is a time to take a deep breath, be quiet, and focus... focus on Jesus' first coming as the baby Savior, His present working in my life, and His future return as King.

This is the first year I have been away from my parents, brother, and sister during the Advent season.  I miss them even as I relish an opportunity to begin something afresh with my husband.  The two of us -- our little family -- set aside a time for prayer, an Advent storybook and devotional, and the lighting of the first Advent candle last night.  I look forward to many more evenings spent the same way as we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Lord.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. The comforting fragrances of turkey and gravy, cornbread stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin would fill the house, and the rich, deep colors of autumn warmed our dining room and built our excitement.

Miniature paper Pilgrims and Indians ate their feast on the piano in sight of our own Thanksgivng meal, and my parents were faithful to teach us about the Separatists who came to the New World seeking religious freedom.  It was all very real to us since we lived in Massachusetts during my early childhood.  We were within an easy driving distance of Plimoth Plantation where “historical interpreters” spoke to us in first person about the journey across the Atlantic Ocean and early life in Plymouth.

Each Thanksgiving, our parents reminded us that, just like the Pilgrims, we had a lot to thank God for.  Often, we would go around the table and take turns naming something we were thankful for that year.

The story about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower voyage has always been part of my spiritual and national heritage, but there is added depth to my celebration this year.  Thanks to some genealogy research during the past year, it is all much more personal to me now.  The Pilgrim’s journey on the Mayflower and their harsh first winter, successful harvest, and feast of thanksgiving to God may now be recognized as part of my family’s history.  The Pilgrims are my forefathers in more ways than one!

I don’t have all the records lined up yet, but my research strongly suggests that William and Alice Mullins, John and Priscilla Alden, and Myles Standish can all be counted among my ancestors.  I am descended from five Mayflower passengers!

William Mullins was a shoemaker who traveled on the Mayflower with his wife Alice, children Joseph and Priscilla, and servant Robert Carter.  The Mayflower was comprised of two different kinds of settlers: the separatists who had just recently lived in Holland (Saints) and those who had been recruited by the separatists’ sponsors (Strangers).  From what I can tell, William Mullins and his family do not fit cleanly into either category.

According to one researcher, he had some legal trouble a few years before his Mayflower journey that “was most probably associated with the religious controversies of that time.” Neither his marriage or his children’s baptisms were recorded in the parish registers where he was from, so it is very likely he was a Dissenter.  The researcher continued, “William purchased a number of shares in the Pilgrims joint-stock company, becoming one of the Merchant Adventurers. However due to his previous religious values, I have to wonder if he was both a ‘saint’ and a ‘stranger’. William was also a signer of the Mayflower Compact.”

Unfortunately, William, his wife, son, and servant all died that first winter in the New World.  Only his daughter Priscilla survived, and she later married fellow Mayflower passenger John Alden.  John was a cooper (barrel maker) who was hired to maintain the barrels aboard the Mayflower.  He may have intended to return to England with the ship, but he did not.  Instead, he became one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and lived to be a prominent member of the new colony.  It is thought by many that he was the first of the Mayflower passengers to step ashore their new land.  Regardless, he outlived all of the Compact signers and all but one of the passengers.

John and Priscilla’s daughter Sarah married the son of another famous Mayflower passenger, Myles Standish.  According to Wikipedia, Myles Standish “was an English military officer hired by the Pilgrims as military advisor for Plymouth Colony. One of the Mayflower passengers, Standish played a leading role in the administration and defense of Plymouth Colony from its inception. On February 17, 1621, the Plymouth Colony militia elected him as its first commander and continued to re-elect him to that position for the remainder of his life. Standish served as an agent of Plymouth Colony in England, as assistant governor, and as treasurer of Plymouth Colony.”  He was also a signer of the Mayflower Compact.

I am currently taking steps to verify my lineage to the Pilgrims with solid primary sources, but that could take a while.  My research thus far leads me to believe that Myles Standish and John Alden are my 11th great grandfathers on the Beem side of my family, so if you are descended from Arthur and Irene Beem of Hornick, Iowa, this is your heritage too!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Groom and His Family

More wedding photos!

 Zachary and his parents

 A true gentleman: Zachary's dad

I love this one!

Such a blessing: Zachary's mom

Two generations of Mr. and Mrs. Pruett

Zachary's honorary grandmother, Mrs. Petersen 

Zachary's honorary grandmother, Mrs. Horner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting Rid of Stuff

I have been reevaluating some of my priorities recently.  Primarily, I have been thinking about "stuff" and what items are worth keeping vs. what needs to be given or thrown away.  It is so easy to accumulate souvenirs, gifts, craft and school supplies, old toys, music, decorative items, etc.  Where is the line?  How much of my stuff is worthy to be stored in boxes or closets if I don't have room to display them?

This is a current battle, so I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do believe there is hope.

Every move or "spring cleaning" -- which tends to happen randomly for me regardless of the weather --  is an opportunity to organize and clean out.  Well, I was married earlier this year, and many, many things were deaccessioned from my personal "collection" at that time, but it wasn't enough.  I still had to ask my parents to store things for me, some items were actually abandoned in my room, and still others -- the things I am struggling with right now -- made it to my newlywed apartment only to be left untouched for months in boxes and closets.

By the way, "deaccessioned" is a tactful word I learned during my library days, and I couldn't resist using it here since it is practically useless in everyday life!

Now that Zachary and I have a little bundle of joy on the way, I am realizing that the stuff I have been putting up with will soon be even more in the way than it already was.  For example, the tote that (up until yesterday) sat in front of my dresser? I will need those bottom dresser drawers for baby clothes sooner than I may realize. I will not want to move a heavy box every time I want to dress the baby. One small victory: I did clear that and a few other areas yesterday and was able to deaccession a large box full to overflowing!

I was recently inspired by a blog post I read at Under African Skies.  Jessica and Rachel were closing their blog in anticipation of their move to New Zealand, and Jessica posted a follow up comment on their post that listed the few things she was taking with her.  She wrote:

We are excited about the move and it will be like starting a new life! We have sold/disposed of just about all worldly goods (All I have is a suitcase full of clothes and a few personal items, my Bible and a smallish box of things I just couldn't get rid of, and of course, my guitar!

It made me stop and think.  "Could I do that?  Would I be capable of leaving behind almost everything?"

What freedom would come if I stopped thinking, "What do I not have room for?" and instead focused on "What am I able to keep?"  In other words, being thankful for what I have room for and graciously giving up what I don't have room for.

In this season of thankfulness, I wonder, is thankfulness more than just being grateful for what I have right now?  Could it be a willingness to part with things I have kept for years while still having a content, grateful attitude?  The Lord has blessed me with more than I need, but that doesn't mean everything He blessed me with in the past is supposed to be part of my current blessing.  

So, the battle continues.  I threw a lot away yesterday, but there are more strongholds that need to come down.  We still need more room where the crib will go!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coming Soon!

 Meet the newest member of our little family! 

Zachary and I went to our 20 week ultrasound this week. It was so exciting to see our baby! We do not know if it is a boy or a girl. We have a modest baby, and that is alright with us since we do not want to know the baby's gender before the birth anyway.

 the baby's foot

The baby is giving us a thumbs up!  Both hands are in front of the face.

The face's profile in 2D

 The baby has its arm and hand raised up to the forehead.

The baby in 2D

Some people have already looked at this picture and said the baby looks like Zachary!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering Micah

My dad called me with bad news last night; Micah, my mom's Cockatiel, is dead.  I hate writing that so bluntly.  Dad put it much better when he wrote:

This afternoon, Christina and I spent a few moments with our Cockatiel, Micah, knowing that he wasn't feeling well. The little bird came to us in Massachusetts more than 13 years ago, shortly before we returned to Oklahoma. Before dusk this evening, he gave two short tweets and expired. Christina was his constant friend, so it's not easy. We do thank God for the beautiful animals he's created for us.

I took it really hard.  I was making Fettuccine Alfredo when dad called and told me.  I loved that bird.  We had him longer than any other pet, and he was a significant piece of my childhood.  Yet, he wasn't my bird; he adored my mom and thought she was the best thing in the entire world.  He laughed like her, whistled like her... there was no place he would rather be than on her shoulder.  So, on hearing the news, I didn't feel bad for me.  I was a distant star in Micah's world; my mother was the sun!  So, I felt sad for her and wished I was close enough to give her a big hug.

Even in our sadness, there is thankfulness.  God created beautiful animals, and we were privileged to have Micah as our pet for so long.  He was a blessing who brought joy to my mother and the many children who came through our door.

Reading the blog post I wrote about him two years ago brought back many fond memories.  You can read it HERE.


Word cloud made with WordItOut

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Grandma's Birth Story

From the very beginning, my grandma's life has been a blessing and a miracle. I am so thankful for her! Click here to read her birth story.
Jeanette Beem, Age 3