Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finding Every Opportunity

New Bishopric of the Sidney Ward
Left to right: Jim Van Luven (1st Counselor), Bishop Joe Chrisman,
Chad Tennant (2nd Counselor)
These last two weeks seem to be filled with opportunities to share my personal and family history. Last week, my husband was called as a Bishopric member at our church. We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you are unfamiliar with what a Bishopric is, it is like a Pastor (who we call a Bishop) and his two assistant pastors. Chad is one of these "assistant pastors." You might wonder what this has to do with family history. Let me tell you!

When I was  a young child, about 8 years old, my father was called as a member of the Bishopric in this same church building as my husband is today. Dad was later called as the Bishop of our ward. Today, my youngest daughter is 9 years old, so very close to my same age then. I was able to share with her, and my other children, how I felt as I was sitting in those SAME pews when my father was called to this position.

Former Bishops, Left to right: James Chrisman, Sr., Arthur Bowser (my dad), Mark
Zelnick, Del Cabe, Randall Frisbee, and Joseph Chrisman (son of James Chrisman)
After the calling was announced in church, the new members of the Bishopric and their families met in a small room. Now this was really something special. As I looked around the room, I realized that there were five former Bishops in the building that day, one was my father. After our meeting, I could not resist mentioning this unique event. We gathered all the former Bishops and the newest Bishop for a picture! This was part of my personal and family history. These men, especially my own father, had been the spiritual leaders of my entire life. Each one had influenced me in a significant and positive way. With this picture, I plan to share with my descendants this special story.

I was nostalgic for several days and found myself finding any opportunity to share a family history story. This morning, my two older children and I were reading about Nehemiah in the Old Testament. If you remember, Nehemiah was a good man. He was working to rebuild the walls in Jerusalem, yet he was continually thwarted by a few individuals. We applied this to our own lives today and how when we are doing the Lord's work, we are sometimes bombarded by those who would hinder the work. Because of our faith and knowledge, we know that the Lord's work cannot be deterred. He is there to help us when we ask.

My dad, Art Bowser, playing on a little tractor.
Somehow, this discussion turned to a family story from many decades ago. When my father was a little boy, I believe he was between 3 - 5 years of age, he was riding on the tractor with his dad. Grandpa was pulling along the disc tiller and Dad fell off. The sharp tiller went directly over his little body. He should have been gravely injured or worse, but he had not one cut. My children and I talked about how some would chalk this up to a coincidence, but what was it really? A miracle. In fact, this miracle saved the life of a little boy who then went on to do the Lord's work in many small ways. He served a mission, he served as a Bishop, he has been a great father and grandfather. Oh, my heart was full!

In conclusion, if you look for opportunities to share your personal and family stories, YOU WILL FIND THEM. I am convinced that our descendants will be inspired by our stories and find value, comfort, and wisdom from each of them! Have you had an opportunity to share a story today?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Recommitting to My Own Family History

Expo Hall at RootsTech, 2016
I have been in debriefing mode since my return from RootsTech 2016. Looking over my notes, reading through syllabus materials, and shuffling through the many business cards and pamphlets I picked up has been great! But this morning, I decided I wanted to put my experience into one statement. Here it is: My experience at RootsTech recommitted me to my own family history.

As a professional genealogist, I am nearly always working on "someone else's" family history. As a blogger for, I am often writing "how-to" articles to inspire others to search out their families. I try to set aside one day a week for my own family genealogy, but sometimes I feel too tired or too busy. I need to recommit.

At RootsTech, I heard many stories of companies and individuals who are setting aside specific amounts of time for their own family history. Even some big genealogy companies encourage their employees to set aside time each week to work on their personal genealogy.

I was inspired by former Governor Mike Leavitt when he shared his goal to write 1000 personal history stories! And Bruce Feiler, keynote speaker on Thursday, shared that successful families are families who "talk... lot."

It doesn't take a lot of time to start a habit of sharing your personal or family history. Mike Leavitt's 1000 stories were usually only a few key sentences about a particular event in his life. It was a darling story he shared when his young daughter asked, "Do babies come because you get married?" Mike was on his way to a meeting and didn't want to short-change the conversation so he told her he would love to talk to her about this when he and "Mommy" could talk to her together. She then answered, "You don't know, do you?" Ha, ha!! We all got a laugh out of this sweet little story that was only a few sentences long.

If writing is not your "thing," be the family storyteller. Bruce Feiler stated that successful families talk about what it means to be a family. They share the good stories and the bad. Children who know their family history are more successful and able to overcome obstacles and trials.

My favorite handout from the Expo Hall.
Now that I have proclaimed that I am recommitted to my own family history, here are a few of the steps I want to take.

1.) I will dedicate 3 hours of time per week to sourcing and verifying my old family tree. While doing so, if a story has not yet been provided, I will include a short three sentences about one event in their life.

2.) I will be more consistent about holding the "Ancestor Birthday Bashes" I started last year. These ancestor birthday parties are a fun way to share the family history with the younger generation. (You can read about my epic ancestor birthday bash here:

3.) I will use my personal journal time to make a regular accounting of the extended family happenings at least once a month.

There are many more goals I could make, but I have learned that sometimes "less is more." That just happens to be one of my dad's favorite quotes. See, I'm getting started already!

So, what was your take-away statement from RootsTech this year?

Want to learn more about RootsTech? I think you'll enjoy these helpful articles:
3 Ways to Enjoy RootsTech from Home
RootsTech: The Genealogy Hub of the West
Going to RootsTech for the First Time? Questions Answered

If you have enjoyed reading the stories here at My Kith N Kin, please subscribe by choosing an option in the sidebar to the right. Thank you!

Friday, February 5, 2016

RootsTech: The Genealogy Hub of the West

It is Friday morning here at RootsTech 2016. What a wonderful first few days! RootsTech is definitely the genealogy hub here in the West.

For those of you at home, I wanted to share a few of my favorite RootsTech things.

I was most touched by the inspirational message of Paula Madison and her story "Finding Samuel Lowe." Her story is in book form, a documentary, and there will be an upcoming webinar on 17 February. She is a "Black" woman. I put black in quotation marks because she is not only "Black." She is Chinese and of a clan going back before Christ! She is the 151st generation in her clan. Can you believe it?!

Paula's mother raised her three children in Harlem. Paula felt a sense of "not belonging" as her father was not around much and there were no other family, cousins, etc. On her journey to finding her lost maternal grandfather, Samuel Lowe, she finds her family, her place, and her ancestors. You can enjoy more of her story at

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen and myself
There have been other wonderful opening remarks that were certainly noteworthy. A comment by Steve Rockwood of FamilySearch International said, "We are the heart doctors of our families." He had a cute prop that made us all laugh. He gave us each a mask; you know, the kind a doctor wears. We all got a kick out of that. He reminded us die-hards that not everyone enjoys names and dates, but many of our relatives will enjoy a story from the heart.

Bruce Feiler, writer for Sunday New York Times, shared with the crowd that some of the most successful and happy children have grown up with a knowledge of their family history. Children who know their heritage can draw strength and encouragement from the stories of their ancestors.

Break-out sessions were wonderful too. I enjoyed giving my own presentation to a great group of both new and experienced genealogists. I will be giving a second presentation later today.

Now, the Expo Hall. Oh. My. Goodness. I have never seen anything like it! We are busting at the seams with people from all over the world. The small companies, the big companies, and everything in between has been well represented here in the hall. RootsBid booth (that's where I am) is right across from the media hub. The media hub is where all the genealogy bloggers and gurus hang, tweet, blog, and interview. My favorite thing? To see Thomas MacEntee in his Hawaiian shirt and bling sitting over there smiling away as he chats with all the passersby.
Me and Thomas MacEntee. Photo
bomber, Eric Jelle!

I have enjoyed meeting many new friends and catching up with some old friends too. The genealogy community is a safe haven. In nearly every case, genealogists are happy to share, encourage, and befriend anyone they meet!

Well, I am off and running. Don't forget that you too can enjoy sessions throughout the day via the live streaming provided at

Oh! I almost forgot. I was in awe at the Crescent Super Band who performed for us last night. These amazing teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 were true performers. I have never enjoyed jazz more than I did last night!

Crescent Super Band 

If you have enjoyed reading the stories here at My Kith N Kin, please subscribe by choosing an option in the sidebar to the right. Thank you!