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Janet Peterson
Tuesday, July 09 2013

You Can Never Be Lost If You Know Where You Are From

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Ginger Johnson, a young mother, guest-posted on a blog about her family, which includes her husband and two sons, ages eight and twelve, and about their home in rural and wooded New Hampshire.

In describing how she has established and decorated their home, Ginger mentions a short story “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. The story centers on what several soldiers carried in their packs while they were fighting in the jungles of VietNam. She said, “You can really tell a person’s priorities by what they carry.”

Ginger then explained that because her mother was a librarian, numerous books were “carried” in her childhood home, and as a result, she loves books and now writes books for children and young adults. She hopes that her sons will value books too.

She said, “We also ‘carry’ photos of family members from many different generations. I want my boys to know that they are not alone in this world, but that they come from a great line of hardworking, intelligent, strong people, and that those attributes are bound up in their very DNA. I want them to strive to be great, like their forebears were,” she wrote.

“We ‘carry’ antique maps of places we have lived and places that are important to us. These maps tie us to locations, and center us in our world. You can never be lost if you know where you’re from.

“When our boys grow up and create homes of their own, I hope they’ll carry with them these connections to past and present.”[1]

Carrying Connections

One of my friends created an ancestor wall in her home when her children were young. In one hallway, she hung pictures of her and her husband’s ancestors as far back in time as she could obtain them. Those photos were a presence in that home as family members saw them every day as they walked through that hallway.

Following my friend’s idea, I obtained pictures of our family ancestors, framed them, and displayed them on a table. Years later, I was pleased that our daughter gathered pictures from her husband’s family and copied those of her ancestors and placed them in her home.

Over the years, my friend and I have each researched and written about our respective ancestors and self-published books to give to our children and grandchildren. We too have “carried” visual remembrances of our forebears.

Heritage maps have been less present in our home than photos, though at one time I marked on a map of the British Isles many of the towns and villages still in existence where my English and Scottish ancestors had lived. I did the same for my husband’s ancestors who were early settlers in New England.

(Certainly much more could be said about imparting a strong sense of family history---“where you are from”---through a variety of ways, including verbal stories, family reunions, visiting homes or areas where ancestors lived, doing research and performing temple ordinances for ancestors.)

President Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States said: "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, an emeritus member of the Seventy, added: “Well might this be said of families also: A family ‘which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.’ "[2]

Children who have gained a strong sense of family connection and values and of knowing where they are from are much less likely to become lost. And for some of those who do become lost, they, many times, find their way home because of longing for family and the connections they have carried but suppressed.

Where You Are Really From

Each week young women around the world stand and recite the Young Women theme beginning with, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us . . .” At first new Beehives may need to read from a printed poster of the theme, but not for long. The girls often visuaI reminders of the Young Women Values, home and family, and the temple, which also help reinforce the theme concepts. I believe that as girls repeat the theme from the time they are 12-year-old Beehives to graduating18-year-old Laurels, those words are carried into their souls.

The Proclamation on the Family clearly tells all of us where we are from: “All human beings---male and female---are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. . . .

“In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realized his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.”

Unlike the maps Ginger displays in her home, maps of the premortal world can’t be displayed. Yet numerous scriptures give us great understanding of where we are from. If that understanding is carried into our hearts and minds, it will keep us from getting lost while in mortality.

“Man was also in the beginning with God” (D&C 93: 29). 

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us;

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17: 27-28).

“And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.” (Moses 6:51).

As we navigate the increasingly dangerous waters of today’s world, we need not ever be lost because we do know where we are from.


[1] Ginger Johnson, “Living with Kids,”, June 26, 2013.

[2] Dennis B. Neuenschwander, “Bridges and Eternal Keepsakes,” Ensign, May 1999, (emphasis added).


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