Monthly Archives: August 2012

My niece Jessi, recently married her best friend, and a wonderful addition to our family. We all like Jason very much…especially his humor. Little did we know, however that Jason would become so special to us in another way, so very soon. You see, Jason is a Highway Patrolman, and no, this is not a story of getting out of a ticket or anything like that at all. This is a story with far greater meaning than anything as trivial as a speeding ticket. This is a story of things that really matter.

Yesterday, my son-in-law’s dad and his girlfriend were heading out to go camping. They were pulling a travel trailer behind them. It was a beautiful day, and they were really looking forward to the weekend. Unfortunately, before they even got past Outer Drive, disaster would strike. The trailer blew a tire, and began to fishtail. The trailer began to bounce along the road, and almost tipped the truck over when the trailer jack knifed and pushed the truck into the oncoming lane of traffic. The truck went up on 2 wheels and then came back down hard. Finally the trailer disconnected from the truck and rolled several times along the road, before hitting a delineator post and coming to a halt in the ditch, completing the destruction of the trailer.

When my son-in-law got to the scene, not knowing what to expect, he was immediately met by his new cousin, Jason, who let him know that his dad and girlfriend were ok. Shook up, but relieved, Kevin was then able to help his dad through this terrible ordeal. When my daughter Corrie arrived, she was practically in tears. Jason immediately told her not to worry, they were just fine, and he had been speaking to Kevin’s dad and girlfriend, so he was sure. Corrie immediately broke down and cried, after which Jason hugged her and comforted her. He showed her where to park her vehicle, and then took her over to see them.

Accidents are so traumatic, and especially when it is your loved one who is involved. Your nerves are raw, and the tears come very quickly. You can’t think, and when it is also hard to find out any information, it is even more traumatic. What a great blessing to have Jason be there when we needed him most. God certainly knew what he was doing when he brought Jessi and Jason together…and not just for Jessi. Thank you Jason!! What would my kids have done without you!!

 

When the first two of my four grandchildren, Christopher and Shai were little, the spent a lot of time together, since Amy babysat Christopher. While they were best friends, that didn’t stop the competition to be bigger. They kids were born just one day apart, with Christopher being the oldest, so many things were done at the same time or pretty close. These little competitions didn’t cause too many fights for the most part, but once in a while they did. Mostly this was if they both wanted to do the same things, which happened more when they were little. I remember once when the fought over who should sit in Shai’s car seat that had been brought into the house. It looked like Christopher got in first, and Shai didn’t like it, but then we will probably never know, since we didn’t know there was a problem until the screaming started.

They also competed over walking, running, and climbing, each wanting to be the best at it. The good news there, is that they didn’t usually need the exact same space. Side by side worked well when doing that. Mostly they were working to see who could complete the task first, and that first place position went back and forth. Still, the competitions didn’t damage their friendship, which is still very much in tact today. I guess it’s a good thing that those kids don’t carry a grudge over childhood tiffs.

The years have flown by so fast, and the kids are so close to being grown up that I can hardly believe it. The days of competing for top spot are long gone. Their interests are so different from each other that there is no longer a need. I am so proud of the teenagers they have become. They are hard working, and they pay their own normal teenaged bills, like gas, insurance, and car stuff. I can’t believe how fast they have grown up, but I really like the people they have become. I can count on them to help with whatever I might need, and they are great about transporting their siblings around. But the best thing about these kids is that they don’t mind hugging their grandma, even in public, and that means the most to me!! Many teenagers just don’t want to even be seen hugging their grandparents, but these guys are very cool and they show their love for me everyday. I am so blessed!!

My niece, Lindsay moved to Brookings, South Dakota about a year ago to go to graduate school. It is really hard not to see her as much as we used to, but thankfully, she keeps us updated on Facebook and by text. Part of her work there is actually teaching classes, and in the course of those duties, she has found that many of the professors and students ride around the campus on Mopeds. I’m sure the reasoning is mostly the gas savings. I just remember when Mopeds were just totally the Nerd Machine, so it just strikes me funny that my very cool niece, and also her very cool sister Kellie have had them. It’s funny how time changes the things that once were weird into something cool…or maybe it wasn’t time at all, but necessity. We all know that as gas prices go up, cuts have to be made, and at least this way it is fun too.

Whatever the case, Lindsay has wanted on for a very long time…probably since her sister had one. So as her birthday and the new school year approached, she decided it was time to go for it. I had no idea that she was interested in getting a Moped, so when her excited text and picture came to my phone, I was very surprised. Nevertheless, it totally looks like Lindsay, now that I think about it, and it doesn’t look nerdy at all.

It’s hard for me to imagine Lindsay teaching classes, although, like her cousins, Liz and Michelle, who are a teacher and a student teacher, I’m sure she does a very good job. She is a very outgoing person, and lots of fun to be around, so I’m sure her students really love her classes. I don’t think Lindsay has totally decided how she will use the Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion that she has, because there are so many fields that can take in. Still, whatever she chooses to do, I know that it will be totally suited to her, because Lindsay is such a social person, that she is comfortable in any setting. Today is Lindsay’s birthday!! Happy birthday Lindsay!! We love you!!

My father-in-law has always been a hard working man. He worked hard all his life, beginning at 13 when he went to live at a ranch not far from his home, to work milking cows and hauling hay, for a mere 50 cents a day for milking and 1 dollar a day when hauling hay. He learned very early on, that it took hard work to get where you wanted to be in life. That work ethic has taken him a long way in his lifetime. He is a respected man to all who know him.

He worked hard to provide for his family and insure that my mother-in-law could be a stay at home mom. Together they raised six children. She kept house, as well as, knitting, crocheting, sewing and canning. He worked long hours to make enough money to support the family, and was often away from home for days at a time. It was a hard way to make a living, but he did it so his kids could have their mom at home. That was how things were back then. The men worked and the women kept the house.

These days my father-in-law still works very hard. At 83 years of age, he spends his days taking care of my mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. He cooks, cleans, and makes sure that she has the things she needs to stay home. Yes, he has help, but during the day, he is on duty alone most of the time. It is a hard day for him, and it wears him out much of the time, but whenever my mother-in-law has to be in the hospital, he is terribly lonely. Once again, he chooses hard work in order to support his loved ones. The unfortunate thing is that my mother-in-law has no idea just how blessed she is.

Today is my father-in-law’s 83rd birthday. For the past 7 years or more, he has been faithfully and lovingly caring for my mother-in-law, without complaint. His love for his family runs deep. He always puts their needs ahead of his own…no matter how tired he gets. Happy birthday Dad!! Have a wonderful day. We love you!!

After Mount Saint Helens blew up, and it had been deemed safe for tourism, my parents took a trip to Washington to visit my sister, Caryl and her family who were living in the Seattle area at the time. They decided to take a trip to see Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I’m not sure how many years after the eruption their trip was, but I do remember them telling me about how totally barren the whole place was. They told us about the buried cars and homes sticking out of the ash…broken and ruined. During that eruption, 57 people lost their lives, as well as countless numbers and species of wildlife. I can’t imagine the way that whole area must have felt to be in…so quiet and empty of life…almost like being on another planet.

Yes, it would be a trip of a lifetime…to be able to see an area devastated by a volcano eruption. It is such a powerful act of nature, and yet, behind it all is such a great loss of life and destruction of such beautiful land, and in this case, even a loss of the beautiful mountain top, now forever changed. So many trees were destroyed, literally blown over and burned in minutes. It is so strange to think that one minute the area was filled with wildlife, trees, and flowers, not to mention people…and the next minute it was all gone. Yes, they knew it was coming, but I’m sure many people truly didn’t believe it would happen, or at least that it would not be as bad as it was. I think that if they could have known what was coming, they would have left the area, but their minds couldn’t wrap themselves around that reality…in fact I don’t think most of the nation expected the eruption to be what it was. I know I was shocked by how devastating it was.

It has been over 32 years since that shocking day in our nation’s history. When I came across the pictures of my parents’ trip through the area, I began to wonder what the area looks like now. It would seem that the area is slow to return to life, but then I suppose that ash makes poor soil for many things to grow in. Weeds might do ok there, but trees and grass…maybe not so much. I don’t know how my parents or my sister, Caryl and her family felt about the area, but their pictures told the story of a disaster of epic proportions.

I was talking to my niece, Chelsea after church the other day, and she mentioned that on the previous Sunday, when her daughter, Aurora simply would not settle down, she took her back to the nursery to play. That went ok, and the next week, they asked Chelsea to bring her back again. When she did, Aurora was so excited that she practically jumped out of her mother’s arms to get into the room. Chelsea said she just about cried.

I was reminded of Amy, when she went to pre-school. She was so ready…just like Aurora. Being the second child, Aurora has watched her brother get to go and play with the neighbor kids, and other assorted cousins, while she is stuck in her mother’s arms, a highchair, stroller, or other such item of…confinement. Like most children with older siblings, this matter frustrates Aurora, and there seems to be no solution…just a life of total unfairness, in which she wonders if she will ever be big!!

So, when she finally found a place where she could go and play with the other kids, and nobody says she can’t, she was delighted. Maybe there was hope for a good life after all!! Aurora was taking no chances. Chelsea brought her back to the nursery, and she knew that Mommy was going to leave and let her stay…just like the big kids get to do. Aurora was the most excited little girl in the world.

So, as soon as she got there, she was off…hoping that her Mommy wouldn’t make her leave just yet. Chelsea, on the other hand, got to stand there feeling just a little bit lonely. Her baby was growing up so quickly. I’m quite sure she was feeling just like I did that day so long ago now…like her baby was going to be all grown up and off on her own, before she hardly had time to blink, and she didn’t like that feeling one little bit.

Children grow up so fast, and once they are grown, we look back on those past years, and wish we could go back somehow, or stop time all together. Unfortunately, time simply will not be stopped. It passes without concern for our feelings. Today is our Independent Aurora’s first birthday. Happy birthday precious baby girl!! We love you so much!! Don’t grow up too quickly, ok!!

 

I have often wondered what it must have been like when the first automobiles were starting to make their way onto the scene. I think that both the people and the horses, or other animals used to pull wagons, must have just about freaked out. People had no idea that such things were possible back then. And the horses…well, after the noise scared the daylights out of them, they probably took off like rockets…maybe inspiring future inventions.

I think that the first thought on peoples’ minds would be to distrust this new fangled contraption. They would wonder if it was going to run away like horses sometimes did, only there would be no reasoning with it or pulling on the reigns to stop it. Or, would it blow up…after all, it was a machine. Or, could it be dangerous…going out of control or rolling over. Maybe they thought all these things, but it’s quite possible that they simply thought that this new fangled machine was an unnecessary luxury…a waste of money…or maybe just for the rich people, who always seemed to be too extravagant anyway. People were used to being conservative with their supplies and their money.

Change is often a difficult thing to accept, and I can imagine that people like my great grandparents were pretty unsure of some of the new inventions that were showing up. They were used to their old ways, and it just seemed very extravigant to buy into these new things. Yes, change is hard to accept, but once we get used to it, many inventions turn out to be not only good things, but in many ways, such as with the automobile, they are destined to become something so necessary to life in this world, that it would be difficult to live without them.

I like to think that my grandparents were among those who accepted change easily. I see them as people who had open minds, and who saw change for what it was…necessary. I like to think of them as the kind of people who wanted to be living in the present, with all it had to offer. Still, I have to wonder what they might think of some of the new fangled contraptions we have today, such as the cell phone, lap top, Kindle, iPhone, and iPad. If you suddenly put those things into the mid-1800’s…wouldn’t that just blow your mind.

The last 2 years or so have been really hard on my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve. When they found out that their daughter, Laila would be born with a heart defect that would eventually claim her life on November 22, 2010, they were so worried for their first little daughter, and eventually devastated by her loss. It was a really hard time in their lives. They had 3 sons, and their hearts desire was to also have a daughter. They were feeling so empty.  They had a daughter, but not in this world.

That long hard time is in the past now, and people have to move forward in this life. So, believing in God’s love for them, they took a leap of faith and got pregnant again. This pregnancy was to be different. The Ultrasounds they had done, showed a perfect heart in their perfect little girl. They began to plan again….to dream again, and this time, their dream was going to come true. And this little girl was to be due to be delivered by C-section on August 22nd, just a few days before Steve’s birthday. She would be an early birthday present for him.

Little Aleesia Juliette, however, had a different plan. Instead of arriving on the 22nd, she would choose to arrive on the 19th, which also happened to be Steve’s sister, Julie’s birthday. With Aleesia’s birth, healing could truly begin. What a wonderful birthday this one will be for Steve, and for Jenny and the boys, because that little girl they have longed for is finally home and in their arms.

Steve is so much a daddy, and because of that, I know that his heart is so full of joy that it is hard to hold it in. Each of his 5 children are a unique type of joy to him. His family is his life’s blood. They complete him and he completes them. It is so heartwarming to see Steve with his kids. Happy birthday Steve!! I’m so happy for you and Jenny. What a wonderful early birthday present the Lord has given you, and your family. And, the really good news is that you are all home for your birthday, so you can celebrate together. We love you!!

Sometimes, I look at a picture, and a story seems to emerge that may or may not be reality, but it sure seems to be the case. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but maybe pictures are made up of a thousand words. As I looked at this picture of my niece, Lacey, I could see that she had been playing dress up. The frilly blue dress, over the long sleeved T-shirt gave that away. I could also see that she had been eating something, candy or something like that, because there are spots on both dress and face that gave away her little secret.

What I couldn’t say for sure in this picture is whether or not she was sleeping or had she just blinked at the moment the photo was taken. I suspect though that she was not sleeping, since there seems to be a hint of a smile on her little face. She might have blinked, but it occurred to me that maybe she was playing hide and seek. That would make perfect sense to me.

When Lacey was a little girl, she used to love playing these kinds of games, and most especially dress up with her cousin Siara. They were as close as sisters or at the very least, and maybe even more so, they were best friends. It didn’t matter that they were in different grades as school…Lacey is 6 months older than Siara. They still hung out together at school and after school. They also spent the night together as much as possible, and since Siara is my sister, Cheryl’s granddaughter, they often stayed at my mom’s with Mom, Dad, and Cheryl. They always had a great time together, often well into the night, giggling and talking in bed. Of course, that meant that getting the two of them up for church the next day was…well, a huge effort.

Lacey graduated last year, and Siara this year, and both are going into the next phases of their lives. Lacey is studying to be a Cosmetologist, and Siara is just starting her first year of college, and doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do yet, but I know that both these girls will be highly successful and will always make us all proud of them. No matter where life takes these girls, we will always love them very much, and we will never forget the little cuties they were…in their frilly dress up clothes and makeup.

When my grandparents were young, it was not unusual for there to be bigger age differences between a man and his wife. There was a 16 year age difference in my grandparents ages. Grandma was a mere 18 years of age when she became a bride.  I am reminded of a country song called “Love Like Crazy” sung by Lee Brice, in which a couple is told that they are crazy to marry so young. I don’t know if my grandmother’s parents felt that way or not, but that rarely makes a difference to the couple in love anyway. The funny thing about the song is that it ends up pointing out that if a couple “loves like crazy” they can beat the odds and stay together.  That song always reminded me of my grandparents, and I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe because Grandma was so young. I’m sure you will agree that she looked like a little kid.  And while my grandfather was 16 years older, he looked very young too.

For my grandparents, age made no difference. They would have been in love if they were the same age or 16 years apart. You could always hear it in their voices, and see it in their eyes. There is another song that also reminds me of my grandparents. It is “I Only Have Eyes For You” by Frank Sinatra. That is how my grandparents were. From the moment they met, they only had eyes for each other. And even after 50 years together, they still have that look in their eyes. They always would. They just looked so in love.

Their marriage would last for 53 years, until Grandpa went home to be with the Lord in 1980, but the love remained for all time. They were blessed with 9 children, many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren…too many to easily count. Most of their family and extended family has stayed close to home, making ours one of the largest in Casper, numbering close to or over 300. And of course, some of my grandparents’ brothers and sisters are here too, making for an even larger family.

The love that began when my grandparents first laid eyes on each other, has grown into a love so big and so beautiful, that it could not be contained in just two people, and so it has blossomed in their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. It is a love for all time, that reminds me of yet another song called, “Little Houses” by Doug Stone. My grandparents may not have been rich in worldly things, but their lives were so rich in love, that no one would have ever been able to tell if they lacked money. They were so blessed, and they loved like crazy! Does it get any better than that?