Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ollie's BD, Beginning Genealogy, & Slowing down, oh my!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Today my paternal great-grandmother, Ollie Johnson Utter Brier would have been 116. She died in 1975 and I miss her just as much as the day she left me. She was an important person in my life as well as my mother and brothers' lives. She cared for us like no other could have done. And now I know why...she was our grandma!  Grandparents and grandchildren are very special people. My grandchildren are like blocks of gold to me. I'd rather have them than the gold! And Ollie was my block of gold ~ stories abound from her and about her. I miss you Grandma! Hugs and kisses to you.

FROM THE INKWELL: This Genealogy Journey column was written in September, 2009. I hope you enjoy it.

            Let’s start our genealogy journey.  As with all journeys, there is much to discover and learn.  The rewards are never ending.  During my journey, I have found pictures of my Utter family in days gone by and bits and pieces of information to add to what I already knew about them. 
            So, how do we begin our genealogy journey?  How do we find relatives, amazing facts, pictures, records, and mementos?  Begin by focusing on only one surname.  This is important so you do not get overwhelmed.     
            Here are the first steps to begin researching your family history: 
1. Decide on one surname to focus your research.  
2. Gather pencil/pen and paper or if you prefer to type, go to the keyboard.
3. Start with yourself and record your information: when and where you were born and your parent’s names.  Next, if you are married, write your marriage information and your spouse’s information.  Be as complete as you can.  If you have children, continue writing each of your children’s information.  If the children are married with children, write that information down as well and continue until you finish each person in your line. When you finish, set this information aside.
4. Next, begin to record the information about your parents, but remember to focus on the surname you chose. Record everything you know about them.  When you finish, set this information aside. 
5. Continue to record the information about your parents’ parents, and so on.  Do this until you cannot go any further because you do not have information on that set of grandparents.
6. After you have worked to produce information, you need to organize it.  Place your work in a folder or if you worked on the keyboard save your work on the computer. 
            In the weeks to come, Genealogy Journey will explore genealogy, families, and history.  Until next week, I wish you well on your genealogy journey.  WORD OF THE WEEK: Family unit: a husband, wife, and children.  

I'm working on #2 Slowing Down from the 3 things God said I needed in my life. Slowing down has been fairly hard for me, especially while driving the car in TRAFFIC. I've hit most lights turning red, had to wait! Or there's been mega traffic, had to wait! Or even walking down the halls at school with a child following along, had to wait! But, it's been a week since I began slooooowing down and I'm doing pretty good now. I actually enjoyed my day working with a first grader, so that's great for ME!  Maybe it won't take 12 years for me to accomplish #2. I'll keep you informed!

I'm reading Joyce Meyer's book, "Beauty for Ashes." It's a good one. I just finished  "The Matrimony Plan" by Christine Johnson. It's set in the 1920s and deals with bootlegged whiskey. It's a short historical romance and while it ttook several pages to get me interested in the plot, it ended pretty good. I bought it mainly for the 1920 historical elements.

My to be read pile is SAFE HAVEN by Nicholas Sparks, MARRYING MISS MARSHAL, by Lacy Williams, MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs, EVERYONE'S GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE by Ron Phillips and THE VISITATION by Frank E. Peretti.   I enjoy reading Christian books or "sweet" books and inspirational romance. No sexual content for me. Life's too full of that garbage; TV is saturated with it now.

I'm taking a book to work with me while I'm on my lunch break. I need an escape and a good book is the perfect way to go for a few minutes in my hectic day.  Can't wait for the weekend, 3 days at home. Woo Hoo!  I'm planning a trip to Books A Million Saturday. My reading pile will surely grow.

Have a happy week, until next Wednesday, blessings to you!
Karen Utter Jennings


Sunday, August 28, 2011

2 Weeks Later...

Here I am, 2 weeks later from my last posting...can you guess why? I've returned to school (work) and coming off summer vacation is not easy. Those lazy days that stretched before me stopped and I found myself once again on a schedule with not much time for homelife. The older I get the harder it is to recuperate and my energy level is becoming less and less! I'm going to try to get back on track...

Our 2011 Utter family reunion was yesterday; my brother Bill and I coordinate it, so that's been something else that's taken some time away from me. It was a success and although the attendance was down from last year, we saw new faces and familiar faces. More family photos were shared and those who brought their scanners/laptops/flash drives went away with a bunch more family photos to add to their collection. Someday I'm going to count, I imagine we may have over 1,000 family photos already!

FROM THE INKWELL: I'm going to post some of my Genealogy Journey writing. I've written newspapper columns about genealogy for the past 2 years and thought it would be nice to share some of the writing on my blog. This week, I'll share my very first column with you:


            Working on genealogy is an obsession with me.  While gathering information on several family surnames, I try to focus on my Utter family.  I come from a family of fishermen/women.  Daddy said he took me seining for minnows when I was three weeks old.  I waited in my basket on the creek bank while they harvested their bait.  Family photos show my relatives proudly displaying the catch of the day.
            Genealogy is a lot like fishing.  You go on a fishing trip armed with all the gear and pick a spot that looks like it might produce a stringer of fish.  When you throw in your line, you might get a bite, or you may have to wait for a while.  You might fill your stringer quickly, or you might not get a nibble all day.  The art of fishing instills patience.  Genealogy is the same way. 
            My genealogy journey started a few years back when a niece from my great, grandmother’s brother, Otis, sent an email with information about that side of the family.    She also sent a picture of Otis sitting on the banks of Mike’s Creek in McDonald County fishing with a cane pole.  I was hooked (pardon the pun)! 
            As time goes by, I jump into the genealogy pool and swim through the ins and outs, the internet sites, the hours of writing family information, filling out genealogy forms, calling or emailing family members, writing letters, sorting through photos and safely preserving my catch of the day.  Some days I find information, some days I do not. 
            Genealogy covers broad subjects.  In the weeks to come I will include topics of interest about the many areas of genealogy.  I invite you to come along with me on this genealogical “fishing trip.”  Gather your genealogy gear and let’s get going on this amazing journey.  I guarantee in no time you will be hooked.
            Until next week, I wish you well on your genealogy journey.  WORD OF THE WEEK: Genealogy: 3. the study of family pedigrees.

I hope you enjoy reading about my genealogy adventures each week...and of course, I'm still writing other things. In one days time I wrote a romantic contemporary short story with elements regarding the May 22 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. I'll post that one of these days.

Gardens in our area of SW Missouri did not "make" this year. That's how my grt-grandma Ollie used to say about gardens not doing well in the summer. My tomatoes are still alive, but their vines look pretty bad.  I want to visit the farmers market downtown Saturday morning to see if they have any green tomatoes ~ we love fried green tomatoes! Yummy! 

The Naked Ladies surprised me one morning when there they were in all of their pink glory standing proud and tall in different places in my front yard. They are also known as surprise lilies, but Grtgrandma always called them naked ladies.

I have something personal to share today. It's about God and Me. During the summer of 1999, one day God whispered in my ear, "1. Believe 2. Slow Down and 3. Listen."   As I pondered them I knew that those 3 things were the things I needed to learn. It was awesome to hear from the Lord, but when He said, "Oh ye of little faith," I thought: What!? I do BELIEVE in You, God!  At other times I thought I needed to change the order of the 3 things, for instance, make #1 slow down, etc, but that would not work because if I didn't believe first, I sure wasn't going to slow down to listen!

BELIEVEING goes a lot further than just professing your faith, reading scripture and praying. It's the little things in life that you must BELIEVE in! It's believing in yourself! True believing goes deep into your soul and you must embrace it and live it!

Through the years I've kept working on those 3 words of what I now call my "Tri-level Learning." I found scripture with the word believe in it, I heard profound things people said about believing, and even sometimes there would be a book or a sign about believing! I finally thought I had learned to believe and so I moved on to the other two.  I was wrong.

It's been 12 years since that summer when God put that message in my heart. And I've been going through 12 years of life's adventures while God was working on me...Oh what joy I've felt since August 24, 2011, just 4 days ago, God suprised me by revealing that I had done it! I reached the level of Believing!   It's taken 12 lyears for me to walk through some fires, learn valuable lessons, and learn to believe that God is my father and I'm His Daughter! My believing spirit has awakened and I know "I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength" ~ Phillipians 4:13

And now, God told me I can move on to the 2nd level: SLOW DOWN. I'm learning to write Devotionals; and I'm praying that God leads me to publish some of them. I love Devotionals and have several little books of them.

So, here I go on to #2: SLOW DOWN.  This is gonna be a hard one! I've always been a whirlwind kind of girl ~ going at things as if I were killing snakes (like Grtgrandma used to say). If I'm not doing something I think I'm being lazy. So, God, put your hand on me and teach me to SLOW DOWN and enjoy the rest of my life.

I'll keep you informed as to how I'm slooooooowing down. I pray that God whispers in your ear.

Blessings to you ~
Karen Utter Jennings

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pioneers Writing Class and Using Genealogy in Writing

I'm behind on my weekly posting; had to take my desktop computer to the computer hospital. It had slowed down and I knew it needed cleaned. Just got it back.

The Pioneering Women of the West online course is going great. Lots of information and lots of websites to get lots of information. In the weeks to come we will learn about the mail-order brides, teachers, doctors, and women with unusual occupations. Right now we are learning about the pioneering women who travelled from their Eastern homes along the trails west.

Through working on my family history genealogy, I found accounts "Left By the Indians" by Emeline L. Fuller and "Massacre On the Oregon Trail" by Carl Schlicke. They tell about the Elijah Palmer Utter family and members of a wagon train journeying west who were attacked by Indians on September 9 and 10, 1860 near Castle Butte, Idaho, on the Snake River. Not all of the wagon train members were killed, but the massacre was a bloody and brutal one. (I would think all massacres would be horrific.)

As time goes by, an author will mention that she is using her ancestor's real-life stories as a basis for a particular book they wrote. I've decided to use genealogy in just about everything I write. I have so much history on our ancestors that I will be able to write lots of stories; some short stories and some full length books. My signature line is: "Ozarks Stories with a Tough of Genealogy." I love the Ozarks and our little corner of the Missouri.

In the Joplin Globe the other day a writer talked about the old Southtown Sporting Goods Store in Joplin being blown away by the tornado in May. The store had a hanging bass fish outside near the sidewalk that had hung there almost 50 years. That story spurred me to write my own romantic contemporary short story using the bass loosely in my story the very next day!  And, of course, it has genealogy in it. The heroine is a genealogist and the hero has his mother's research along with old letters and diaries. Now, what to do with it? There's not a lot of short-story markets for writers. Woman's World magazine is not accepting any new authors at this time. I may post my story next week on my blog.

My tomatoes burned up. The rain came way too late. I did buy a couple the other day that were very good homegrown ones. We had bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches that night. They were excellent. My husband ate 4 of them.

Schools are starting all over our area next Wednesday, August 17. I pray the children have a wonderful learning year and they are all safe and sound. Jesus was a teacher and children gathered round Him wherever He went.

Hope you have a great week!
Karen Utter Jennings

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing in the Ozarks

Let's pray for our United States government. They need to set their sites on God. That's how our country was founded, the men had their eyes on the Lord and it was a much simpler time back then. Today money rules!  What about us little guys who are working every day to make ends meet? Why focus the budget cuts on our Military, our Social Security system, Medicare, and the little guys? Look to those programs that can be cut and that will make headway to a better country. Quit blaming the Republicans and the Democrats ~ they are all involved in this. They need to set their eyes on God.

I'm taking an online writing course, "Pioneering Women of the West" from the Hearts Through History RWA chapter. It started Monday. Oh my, it's gonna be a good one and I'm gonna learn a lot about those women who made the West what it is. They were strong. They were pioneers. They were our ancestors! My great, great-grandparents came by covered wagon in 1880 from Indiana to SW Missouri. Grt, grt-grandma Christina was pregnant with her 11th child. Can you imagine that ride all those miles that took 34 days? She had to be tough to endure those hardships.

I saw a quote the other day that made me giggle. "Well-behaved women rarely make history" ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. My great-grandmother's story is coming along. I just started chapter 10 and this chapter will be where she gets married at age 14 in 1909. I can't believe that, either. Marriage at age 14?

My latest read is "The Girl In the Gatehouse" by Julie Klassen. It's a great story set in Regency England. The heroine writes novels for a living, but has to hide that fact, as it was not accepted in those days for women to have careers. I'm about half-way finished.

Happiness & Blessings ~
Karen Utter Jennings