Most people remember little about their early years, but sometimes something happens that causes you to keep it in your memory all your life. Often these early memories are from traumatic or perceived traumatic events. Such is the case with me.

I was 2 years old when my family moved from Superior, Wisconsin to Casper, Wyoming. On our way, we camped out. Unlike today, people camping out might get to know their “camping neighbors” and even know their names. Such was the case with our family when we met the Sims family.

They were such nice people, and they were moving too. They had two children, but they were older than my sister and me. Our families had a very nice evening, and the next morning we left the campground and went on our way. It wasn’t until we had gone many miles that I would realize that I left my doll at the campground. I was devastated. I mean she was my baby!

When I was 3 years old my parents bought the home my mother still lives in today. As we settled in, and started to get to know the neighbors, we were very surprised to find that our neighbors across the alley just happened to be the Sims family. It was like so nice to move into a neighborhood and already know some of the people. And even better was the moment when they told me that they were hoping to see us again, because on the day we left the campground, I had left my doll, and they had saved her for me. I was elated.

Our families would live across the alley until Mrs Sims passed away. Mr Sims and their son Harold had passed away before Mrs Sims, and Julie had married and moved to Colorado. We were friends all that time, and Julie babysat for my parents until my sister was old enough to babysit. They even went to the same church as we did. They were a wonderful blessing to our family, and someone we always glad we got to know.

Today I went to my grandson, Josh’s track meet and had a wonderful time. Josh did quite well in his events. It was his first traveling athletic event, and he was very excited. I look forward to the rest of his meets over the course on the next month. I want to congratulate Josh on his great events.

While the track meet was the reason for our trip, I did find myself annoyed at the number of people who refused to listen to the announcer and show at least some measure of respect for the school that hosted this event. There were not so many requests, but it would seem that lots of people believed that they were not required to follow the rules. There were the number of people who would not get out of the way…as there always seems to be, but there was one couple that particularly annoyed me.

When the announcer asked that no food or drink be on the Astro-turf field, as a spill would cause permanent damage, this couple stood right where they were, him with his soft drink, refusing to move. And in addition to that, the people behind me commented that they shouldn’t be so worried about it, because it couldn’t damage it any more than all the “blood and spit” from the football games. I found that equally annoying, as I’m quite certain that the acid in that pop would cause more damage than blood.

That is not really the point anyway. They assumed that the school’s rules were not worth their obedience. No wonder our kids act like they don’t have to follow the rules. This is the type of example some parents set for their kids, and others who just happen to be able to see them. When we travel to another school for events, lets at least have the decency to show respect for the school that invited us.

I see so many people who don’t get along with their parents, and while I do know that sometimes that is inevitable, I believe most times it is simply a bad decision. Parents aren’t perfect, but if we will admit it, neither are we, their children. If children came with an instruction book, maybe things would be better, but it just doesn’t work that way. If kids would just try to listen to their parents and understand that while they might make mistakes in raising their children, they have your best interest at heart.

I am reminded of my own parents. While there were times that we fought, their lessons were invaluable. Of course, even when I thought I knew it all, they were patient with me…when, as my sisters have said, they probably felt much like choking me. I was probably on the list of difficult children, though I was never is any serious trouble. I just went against the grain sometimes. But had I taken a minute to see what was before me, I might not have fought so hard…no, we both know that isn’t so.

Whatever they weren’t, my parents were very moral people. Dad has gone home to be with the Lord now, but my mom is still here, and still training her children to do what is right, even though we are all grown and parents, and some of us grandparents. She still does her best to see to it that we live God’s way, and that our children do too. She and Dad cared so deeply about our spiritual life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Children may not always agree with their parents, and most would say that they don’t want to be anything like their parents, but in the end, when you have great parents, why wouldn’t you want to be just like them…I know I do.

I was watching a show tonight in which the grandfather was feeling a sense of loss as he watched his grandchildren having to go through so many security precautions, and I began to feel the same way. What has our world become? It has become so warped that the inhabitants almost don’t dare go outside alone.

I remember being able to play outside until late at night, and I don’t think that even my kids would remember those times. How sad it is that we have moved two generations further out into an area of fear and carefulness. People have become so sick and twisted. Some of the crimes committed these days would have been beyond the imagination when I was young. There just seemed to be a better respect for human life, and for each person’s rights. Now it would seem that people think, “I don’t care about you or your needs, as long as I get what I want.” And whay they want is…well ugly.

A while back, someone came up with the bright idea that disciplining your child is humiliating to them, and the days of descipline being considered a crime were born. Don’t get me wrong here, I do not agree with child abuse, but…well time out doesn’t work folks. Children need and want real discipline. I once knew a boy who used to break his toys quite often. When asked why, he said it was because his mom wouldn’t discipline him when he had done something wrong. This boy was self disciplining!! Now while that might be an extreme case, and that boy was later found to be gifted, so I suppose he might have understood the problem better than most people, but in his mind his mother didn’t love him enough to make him behave. How sad is that?

Well, that generation of children is all grown up now, and they don’t know how to discipline any better than their parents did, and so kids are getting away with more than before. Not to mention the fact that a group of angry adults are out there killing people because they remind them of their parents, and of course, the fact that their parents “didn’t love” them.

Proper discipline is NOT a sign of hatred or anger, but a sign of love and a desire to see your children grow up safely and happy. if we are going to change this present world, we are going to have to bring Godly discipline back into it.

As my dad’s birthday approaches, my thoughts naturally turn to him more. Dad passed away December 12, 2007, and on that day, my world turned upside down. It’s strange how the mind can trick you into thinking that nothing will ever change in your life, but all along, the world is changing…the circle of life is in constant motion. Somehow, I missed the fact that my dad was getting older, and looking back at some of the last pictures taken of him, it was so obvious. I just couldn’t see it. In my eyes, my dad was forever young.

I suppose that was due mostly to the fact that my dad acted forever young. He was a big kid, really. The grandchildren and then the great grandchildren took their turn playing with Grandpa. He loved teasing them, and they loved being teased. He would sit in his chair in the kitchen, and the kids would do their very best to run by him without getting caught. If they were successful, they would run to the back door, giggling and excited.

Dad was that way with any kid. In the picture here, Dad was teasing my sisters on a vacation…to their great delight…and his. You just never knew what Dad was going to pull next. He always loved a good joke. We all learned our teasing nature from him. I remember once he was teasing my sister Allyn, when she was little. He told her that they left Allyn behind at the last stop, and she was little brat. We all laughed about that, and his way of teasing those he loved by calling them a brat was born. I don’t ever remember him calling me a brat in anger, always teasing.

Dad had a lot of funny sayings. Dad burnit was one we heard often, because my dad never cussed. He was a man of principle, a trait I highly admired. Many people cuss only in anger, but not my dad. He just didn’t do it…ever!! He didn’t need to cuss to express himself. He would not compromise his principles, and to tell you the truth, Dad just never saw the sense in being angry all the time. People around him would stress out…myself included…but he would somehow always find humor in every situation. Like the little kid laughing at something no one else perceived as funny, my dad just never let life steal his joy. He was a happy, joyful person and I’m sure that is what kept him forever young. I love you Daddy.

It was raining tonight as we headed over to my in-laws house, and my thoughts wandered back to when I was a little girl. Few things were more exciting on a summer day when I was little than going outside in the rain. All you needed was an umbrella, because after all, that was what they were for, right. We would run outside the minute it started to rain, hoping for it to rain really hard so the water would run rapidly down the gutter. And once it did, we would be out there splashing along in the water, with boots on and an umbrella over our heads. I’m sure it made a funny picture.

Why is it that we all seem to have an obsession with the rain. My daughter, Amy can’t wait for the rain to come. If at all possible, she immediately goes out driving in the rain. She is totally at peace when driving in the rain. I think many of us have some of our fondest memories built around the rain. It’s got this hold on us somehow. Even when the lightning flashes and the thunder rolls, the rain is captivating. It has a peaceful feel that is beyond compare.

Tonight while driving in the rain, my mind wandered back to those days, so long ago, when all was right in my world. Nothing would ever change…I was just sure of it. And whenever it rains, I get that feeling all over again. It’s like when it rains everything is clean and new again. The world seems to renew itself.

Like that little girl playing in the rain that I once was, I still love the rain. Everything smells fresh and clean. And I feel free and at peace. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Most of us go through life accepting the things that happen to us as being out of our control, but that is seldom the case. The things we focus on, think on, and work on, are the things that will most likely come to pass in our lives. Good or bad, these choices we make will shape who we are and who we will be. I heard a saying a while back, and it has stayed in my head ever since. I don’t know who said it, but it went like this, “It is not important what you are. It is important what you are becoming, for that you will be.” How very true that is. Many people have found themselves in an ugly place, or doing things they wish they weren’t, but have you ever noticed that it is the ones who made their way out of the pit they were in and turned their lives around that you remember?

We must decide what we want to be…what we want to stand for…what legacy we want to leave behind, and then start that journey right away…today. Take that first step, because it is the moment that transformation begins. We are all multi-talented people, though many of us don’t know it. We might be quite good at one thing, but have several other things that are in us that we didn’t even think we had a talent for, and one of those things might just be the thing we are called to do. We all have a purpose here. Life is not just random events.

Some of your talents might just shock you. Mine did. I knew that I had a talent for teaching, and though I didn’t do a lot with that one, I still have the ability to help my grandkids with their homework, like I did my girls. I have also discovered that I have a talent for nursing, which I was quite thankful for as I moved into the elder years of my parents and in-laws, and while I would not choose this profession, I could do it if needed. And of course, there is my ability to be an insurance agent. I have always said that insurance was my niche, and that is true. I understand it completely…it makes sense to me, but as I have been writing my blog posts, I realize that I have a talent for writing. Now that is a shock to me, because I remember my very early attempts in grade school, and I was convinced that I had no imagination.

My daughters have encouraged me to write, and for that I am grateful, because I kind of like this creative outlet. It has allowed me to, as my boss would say, move over into the other side of my brain, and I have found that side to be a very peaceful place. So to that degree, I guess I am on my way to being something different that I ever thought I would be. A creative person…a caregiver…a teacher…a writer…or whatever else God has for me. No, I’m not completely there yet, but after all, it isn’t important what I am, it is what I am becoming, for that is what I will be.

My niece, Kellie is going to be singing at our church on Easter Sunday, and as a special treat, we got to hear her song this morning. Our church has a program on Sunday mornings at 9:30 on KTWO television in Casper, Wyoming, and Kellie’s performance will be aired there on Easter morning. I hope no one minds if I plug that just a little, as I am very proud of Kellie. Her song was beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes.

But, more than the beauty of the song, is the miracle that Kellie’s life is. Kellie had a rough beginning. She was born late and so was not underweight, but as happens sometimes in late births, she had some breathing problems that caused her to have to be flown to Denver. I don’t know all the details of her condition, and that is not important anyway. Kellie spent the weekend in Denver and then came home, where she grew into a happy and very, very giggly girl, as anyone who knows her can attest.

Her story doesn’t really end there, however. Kellie was born on Thursday, March 15,1990, and came home from Denver that following Sunday. I bowled with some of the nurses here that cared for her before she was transferred to Denver. That Tuesday morning when I went into bowling, they asked me how the baby was doing. I told the Kellie was doing great and was at home. They said, “Home, home!! Not in the hospital here??” I told them yes, to which they replied, “That is amazing!!! We didn’t expect her to live, much less be home in just 2 days!!” They were so stunned and so pleased that they had tears in their eyes.

God had done, and continues to do great things in Kellie’s life. As I said, she grew into a giggly girl whose laugh has the ability to make everyone around her laugh, even if they have no idea what is so funny, and with Kellie, it may be nothing at all, because she just finds life to be a reason to celebrate, and she finds joy and happiness in every moment. I know that giggly girl will always live inside her, and that she will always be a blessing in that way, but beyond that, she is an amazing and accomplished singer. But for me watching her today, and looking back on her beginning…well, I found myself filled with a sense of wonder and pride at the woman she has become.

My mom’s mother was a short little lady of about 5′ (in her tall days), but she was as feisty as she could be, and definitely the boss of her nine children. She never had a drivers license, and never wanted to. She simply wanted to be wife to my grandpa and mama to her kids. I remember spending time at her house. There was always something to do. I suppose that was because with nine children there were a lot of grandchildren…30 to be exact. We had a wonderful time.

My story is not really about the grandchildren, however. As I said, Grandma was small, but mighty, and her kids knew who ruled the roost. If you chose to get out of line, it didn’t matter if you towered over her or not, you were in trouble!! Such was the case one day when my mom was 8 years old or so. My grandmother was in the middle of giving my Uncle Larry a spanking for something he did. My mother doesn’t even remember what he had done, and that isn’t surprising. Mom decided that Grandma was completely in the wrong for spanking Uncle Larry, and she proceeded to let her know it…in no uncertain terms. The spanking continued for a minute or so, with my mom just telling Grandma off. Grandma never said a word. She just finished my uncle’s punishment, and turned him loose. He headed out the door as fast as he could go, just in case she changed her mind. My mom started out the door after him with the intention of offering consolation, but Grandma had other plans. She reached out and grabbed my mom by the hair and turned her over her knee and gave her a good spanking. When she was done, she simply said, “There…how do you like that?” Well, I’m sure you can guess the answer to that question. My aunts and uncles were, from that day forward, on their own when it came to punishment, because my mom was no longer the defender of her siblings, when it came to their mom.

As the years go by and children grow, those spankings get fewer and farther in between, until you no longer need that form of discipline with your kids. They can look back on those days in their youth and laugh, since the sting on those spankings is only a memory. One day, some of the kids and Grandma were talking and laughing about those old memories. My Aunt Bonnie, who was standing beside my grandmother, and still laughing about those old days, said to Grandma, “Well, those days are gone forever, because you couldn’t take us now.” And in true Grandma Style, my grandmother didn’t say a word…she simply reached out and grabbed my Aunt Bonnie around the ankles and swept her off her feet and onto the floor. To a very shocked Aunt Bonnie, she said “There…how do you like that?”

Yesterday I wrote about the antics of my dad and my uncle, and after reading that story, my cousin, Tim and I spoke about some of the stories we knew about my aunts, one of whom is his grandmother, Laura. After hearing the things he told me, I feel like I know a lot more about my aunts, and I am very proud of both.

My aunts, uncle and my dad were young when our country was in the grip of World War II, and being patriotic people who wanted to help in any way they could, my aunts decided to join the mobilization effort by signing up for jobs in the shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. Feelings were very raw at that time because people felt betrayed by the administration…betrayed and unprotected. But feelings aside, they stepped up and took on a man sized job. My aunts worked in those shipyards as welders on the ships. It was in the dead of winter, and the winters in Superior are bitterly cold. They feared for their health, and it was due to those frigid winter days, that they both decided that Wisconsin was not where they would want to spend their lives. Both would move to Washington state, and Aunt Laura would finally end up in Oregon. She would later say living out there was like living in the tropics by comparison. Eventually a sign was posted to commend the work of the many women who joined that movement, but they erred in calling them “Riveters” because they did not rivet the ships, they welded them, and that was a much harder job. Our Uncle Bill hated that error, and tried to get the sign changed, and after failing to get anyone to move on the correction, corrected it himself, because he has always paid close attention to detail and hates seeing an error go uncorrected, especially such an important historic event as the women of World War II who were heros in every sense of the word.

This is a part of my aunts lives that I had no idea had occured, and I truly thank my cousin Tim for sharing it. You see, this picture of my aunts is very foreign to me. My Aunt Laura was always an elegant lady, with a beautiful home, which I can still see in my mind to this day. She had so many beautiful and I’m sure precious things. My Aunt Ruth was a little more of a tomboyish person who liked the outdoors, but a welder…no…I could never have pictured it in either of them. They were two women, in a difficult time, who stepped up and did more than they knew they could. And I am very proud of both of them.

I did get a small glimpse of that toughness in my Aunt Laura one time, when she had just purchased a mobile home and while it was set up that Friday night long ago, the electricity would not be turned on until the next morning, and it was a bitterly cold winter night here. I insisted that she come and stay at my house that night, which she graciously accepted. Bob was working nights, so we had a little slumber party at my house…just us girls. We had such a wonderful time, and my Aunt Laura got to experience something that she really never would any other time in her life…little girls. You see she had sons, grandsons, and a great grandson…no girls. She had a great time with my daughters, and they thoroughly enjoyed playing with her. It was a treat for all of us, and a night I will always treasure.

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