Kings and Farmers in Your Family Tree

People in Biblical times kept an oral history (and later a written history) that included their ancestors. The New Testament had two separate and very detailed genealogies of Jesus. No doubt, the Proverbs 31 family was aware of their ancestry. What more exciting project for you to do with your children while quarantined than to trace your family history!

I’ve written about this before as it is a hobby of mine, and I recently came across an article that intrigued me. In 2012, a 12 year old California girl traced the genealogy of all the residents and discovered that 42 of them descend from King John Lackland, known for signing the Magna Carta in 1215 (I myself have 2 lines descending from him.)

This is nothing special. I can almost guarantee you also have royal blood, and it all comes down to little math: you have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, 32 great-great-great grandparents, and so on… As you go back generation by generation, the number of individual ancestors  grows exponentially and will soon exceed the total population of the world at that time.  30 generations (back to the Middle Ages) would give you theoretically over 1 billion ancestors. 40 generations (to the Dark Ages) gives you over a trillion ancestors, at a time when the planet’s population was around 200 million.

More math: if you divide your theoretical 1 trillion ancestors by the actual population of 200 million, and the average ancestor would appear on your family tree 5,000 times.  Then it gets more complicated. For this to happen, many died in infancy and childhood, so all of the 200 million alive in the Dark Ages did not produce children – many didn’t and so wouldn’t appear on anybody’s family tree, meaning that other ancestors would actually appear many more than 5,000 times.

Kenneth Wachter first illustrated this in his 1980 book “Ancestors at the Norman Conquest”. He calculated that in 1977 an average person born in 1947 would have had 32,768 theoretical ancestors 15 generations ago (at 30 years between generations), around 1527 AD; of these, 96% would have been ‘real’ and 4% duplicates.  Going back 20 generations to 1377 AD and he would have over 1 million theoretical ancestors, 40% of which would be duplicates.  25 generations ago, around 1227 AD – not long after the reign of King John – he would have over 32 million theoretical ancestors, 94% of which would be duplicates and only 6% ‘real’, i.e. 2 million, or 80% of the estimated English population of 2.5 million at that time.

The earliest it happened in my family tree was in the 1700s, when I discovered that I descend from both a son and a daughter of Edward Hicks. A more extreme example is that of Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886-1931), who only had 4 great-grandparents instead of the usual 8 because of royal inbreeding.

Your family tree is diamond-shaped rather than an inverted pyramid.  As you go further back the number of ancestors in each generation increases steadily up to a point, then slows, stops, then reduces.  And as there are fewer people to put on the branches of the 7 billion family trees of people living today, it is a mathematical certainty that, at some point, there will be an ancestor who appears at least once on everybody’s tree – the ‘most recent common ancestor’ of all humans currently alive.

This also explains why we are all descended from Charlemagne, and I have been able to trace back 10 lines so far. Here’s where the royalty comes in: Those who were more likely to survive and have children of their own were those from wealthy families. With these families arranging marriages for financial and political gain, we have sons and daughters of royalty marrying into noble families.

However, in the period between the 15th and 16th centuries, we see a large migration from England and other parts of Europe to North America. Money wasn’t as important as the ability to grow food. Now money and titles were less important than the ability to grow food and those with the largest farms became the new leaders of these colonies.

Here is the link to my post on Charlemagne.

Fifteen Home Projects to do While in Quarantine

The best thing about being in quarantine is that we are all safe in our own homes! And what better opportunity to work on our homes, now that we suddenly “have the time?”

Many of you will be tackling the jobs that have been waiting for awhile, such as painting or even installing new toilets. But the rest of you will want something a little less time or energy consuming, so here is a list of home projects that can be done all in one day:

  • Deep cleaning — more important right now than ever! Start with the kitchen one day, the bathrooms the next, and keep going on a different room each day, until the whole house is disinfected and sparkling
  • Do something about your stereo or computer wires
  • Wash the windows, inside and out
  • Tackle one closet each day. Remove everything, purge what you don’t need, and replace the rest
  • Do the same with your kitchen cupboards
  • Completely organize your basement (this might take more than one day.)
  • Ditto for your garage
  • Go through the family’s clothes and handle anything that needs to be mended buttons replaced, etc
  • Organize your filing cabinet and shred any documents you no longer need
  • Get creative with using up perishables in your fridge
  • Try a new recipe each day
  • Clean your oven
  • Rearrange the furniture — it’s like getting a new home for free
  • Do some gardening
  • Organize your pantry — no doubt your shopping habits have changed a little lately

Are You Hoarding Toilet Paper?

When the COVID-19 pandemic ends and we think back to 2020, one of the first things we’ll remember is how it was impossible to find toilet paper on the store shelves. People arrive early and buy it up, leaving none for anyone else. And it’s not just toilet paper; frozen vegetables and canned goods, baking supplies, and even bread are being hoarded. 

Do you remember in Exodus, when God sent manna every morning for the Israelites to gather and make into cakes? They were instructed to eat only the manna they had gathered for each day. Those who didn’t follow that instruction discovered, as Exodus 16:24 tells us, that stored manna “bred worms and stank.” There was one exception: manna stored the day before the Sabbath (when twice the amount of manna was gathered) did not spoil overnight.

This tells us two things:

  1. God will provide what we need
  2. We are not to take more than we need. That is showing that we don’t trust God to provide.

There is a thin line between selfish hoarding of supplies and being prepared for an emergency. A couple of extra packs of toilet paper is preparedness. An extra bag of vegetables to put in the freezer. A few more tins of food for the pantry. 

But when you buy so much that your home’s storage areas can’t contain it, it’s time to look at the stash of toilet paper in your living room and examine how much you truly trust God will provide. Until this crisis, we just knew that if we needed toilet paper it would be as near as our local store. 

It’s the same with rent and mortgage payments, debt repayments and groceries. God wants us to feed our families and put food on the table. He wants us to honour our obligations. And He will provide the way to do it, even long after COVID -19 ends.


What Social Isolation is Teaching Us

Six months ago, if someone told you that you would be virtually under house arrest —  no work, sleep in every morning, binge watch TV, raid the fridge — you would have rolled your eyes and said “I wish!”

Well, be careful what you wish for, because it has now come true. It’s human nature to resist what you are told — no, ordered — to do, and naturally we find ourselves complaining at times. A world-wide pandemic is not a good reason for this to have happened, and yet there are so many things to be thankful for.

Sandcastles Weddings — my livelihood — has suddenly and unexpectedly been put on hold until further notice. We are just a small part of the huge wedding industry that is affected. But Proverbs 31 Lifestyles has no such limitation, and this is where I’ve been putting my focus in the past couple of weeks.

Dave and I don’t have a young family, as many of you do, but we are in constant text/phone touch with our kids and the grandkids. Everyone is healthy and from what I hear there is only a minimum amount of cabin fever. Families are together; parents who once commuted to the office are now working from home.

Churches have been told to close, and yet the Christian community is finding incredible ways to get their Sunday services up on the internet. Never before have we really understood that WE are the church!

Instagram and Facebook are exploding with uplifting memes. I for one have many friends who are thousands of miles away, and we can visit every day via social media. 

Spending is at a minimum. Not only are our incomes slashed, but the stores are closed. And surprise! We’re doing okay! Granted there are some stories of greed, such as people hoarding toilet paper, but these are eclipsed by the heartwarming stories of service and sacrifice on the part of the doctors, nurses, truck drivers and store staff. 

We finally have the time to try new recipes, work around the house, read the newest books.

The warmer weather is coming (I’m in Canada, maybe it’s already spring-like where you are) and soon we will be able to enjoy our gardens and backyards. The air should be fresher; I am reading articles about how the earth is repairing itself with fewer cars on the roads and wildlife is returning to places where it hasn’t been seen in years.

The best thing of all is the God is in control. He can remove this virus from the earth as fast as it disappeared, and when the time is right, He will. In the meantime, He can — and will — keep your family and mine safe.

Use this time to rejuvenate, whatever that means for you. Work on new projects, or simply rest — there is no right or wrong way. Sooner or later it will be over and we will be back to the hustle and bustle of our old routines. Hopefully we will have learned something from all this, and hopefully our new normal will be somewhat different.




Here’s a New List for You!

We live in a society obsessed with creating lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, and even goals lists. But there is one more list I would like you to make and keep handy on a daily basis.

Get out a paper and pen and make a list of these people:

  • people you don’t like
  • people who don’t like you
  • people who have hurt you in the past
  • people who are hurting you now
  • politicians who are not working in the best interest of the people
  • those who abuse children and animals
  • those who are willfully damaging the environment
  • those who cut you off in traffic
  • those you judge
  • those who judge you

Feel free to make this list as long as you like, and you needn’t limit yourself to those in the list above. And when you are finished, you will give this list a title:  PRAYER LIST