Love

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As I have researched the infantry soldiers of World War II, my thought was that I was really thankful that my dad, Allen Spencer was not one of those men on the ground during the fighting. I felt bad for those men who were on the ground, fighting from the foxholes. I still do, because they were in constant danger. Bombs fall from the sky, and bullets fly from across the battlefield. If those things didn’t kill a soldier, the freezing cold, trench foot, or dysentery from the horribly unsanitary conditions could. It seemed that my dad’s situation was by far safer, but now, I’m not so sure that’s true.

The book I had been listening to, that took in World War II from D-Day to The Battle of the Bulge, talked mostly about the ground war, but then at the end, the reader said something that really struck me. It was about the look that crossed the face of a bomber crew’s faces before certain missions…those that would inevitably find the plane flying through flak. The look was one of fear. I knew flak was dangerous, but somehow I didn’t really connect flak with bringing down a plane, or seriously injuring its occupants. Nevertheless, it is quite dangerous for them.

As I researched the dangers of flak, a shocking revelation made itself known. I had written a story about the life expectancy of the ball turret gunner. My findings were that that life expectancy was about 12 seconds. That may be true when one is talking about the prospect of being shot, but when it comes to flak, that cannot be said. Apparently, where flak is concerned, the best place to be is in the plexiglass structure of the ball turret. Plexiglass holds up better against flak than other areas of the plane, so the ball turret gunner is much more protected…at least from flak. The same cannot be said for the bullets flying through the area. I was thankful that my dad was not a ball turret gunner, and that he only filled in as a waist gunner periodically. The waist gunners were in the open, where protection from bullets, and from flak was minimal…at best, non-existent at worst. I can’t imagine how those memories must have affected my dad, but in the book I listened to, the main reason many of the men didn’t want to talk about their experiences in World War II, or any war, was because talking about it brought those memories flooding in again.

After researching flak, and how it works, I can see why the men would get a look of fear on their faces as they prepared to go through areas anti-aircraft weapons shooting flak into the air. Some men said that they could see the red hot glow in the center of the flak, if it was very close. That tells me that it was like a small explosive devise. No wonder it could bring so much damage to a plane. I had known that flak could put holes in the fuselage, but somehow I hadn’t tied that with bringing down a plane. I surmise that it was the B-17 bomber top turret gunner’s daughter in me that wouldn’t allow me to place that danger around my dad. I didn’t want to think about the dangers of his every mission in World War II. My mind seems to have placed his plane in a bubble or a force field, so that no danger could come near him. I think every veteran wonders why they were spared, when others didn’t make it back home. I don’t think anyone can answer that question. As a Christian, I have to credit God for bringing my future dad home.

When two people get married, everyone wonders how their lives will turn out. More than wondering if they will stay together is the question of will they make a good team? Or will they always seem to be going in the same direction? These are all things that no one knows at the point that a couple gets married. Those question and many others will be answered when the couple has been married a number of years.

Our youngest daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Tavis have stood the test of time, and after 24 years of marriage, I can say that the do make a good team, and they are usually going in the same direction…except during football season, when he roots for the Chicago Bears, and she for the Green Bay Packers. Still, more important than that is the genuine desire to give each other the best life possible. Their motto is “Live, Laugh, Love,” and they do just that.

They love living in northern Washington state, and spending lots of time outdoors. Sitting around their firepit is a common evening event, as is playing a variety of games with their grown children, Shai and Caalab, and their significant others, Jordan Chapman and Chloe Foster. They like playing Beer Pong, darts, and Corn Hole, but recently they bought a pool table, which will be lots of fun with the onset of cooler weather. Of course, north-west Washington state doesn’t see the same kind of cold weather that we get in Wyoming, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling like it’s freezing, even when it’s just rain. That said, those indoor activities will be essential.

It really doesn’t matter what Amy and Travis are doing, as long as they are doing it together, because they love each other very much. I can’t imagine two people more suited to each other than these two. As a parent, it is wonderful to know that the man your daughter shares her life with is so good to her, and makes her life a joyous occasion every day. He makes her laugh at his silly jokes, and always lets her know that she is the love of his life. She, in turn, completes him in every way, and lets him know that he is the love of her life. Does life get better than that? I don’t think so. Today is Amy and Travis’ 24th anniversary. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Thinking of my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer on their 66th wedding anniversary, the first thought that comes to mind is that it has been so very long since I’ve seen them. I wonder how the years could have gone by so fast. My dad has been in Heaven since 2007, and my mom since 2015. It seems like forever…probably because we have missed them every day since they have been gone. That’s how it goes with your parents, I think. While they are gone from this Earth, they are never gone from the hearts of the children who love them. They gave you life, nurtured you through your childhood years, and then let you spread you wings and fly free. They didn’t stifle your dreams, even if it meant that your were far away from them. That is the love of parents.

My own parents were all that and more for my four sisters and me. They were our rock, grounding us with their teachings and their faith in God. We always knew that no matter what happened or what mistakes we might make, they were there for us. They always had the answers we needed to resolve any situation. We would always view our lives as perfect. It didn’t matter what we might face later in their lives, or what they might need from us, we would always be there for them, just as they were for us. In fact, we never expected that they would need help from us. They seemed invincible. I suppose that is what made it so hard to face the day they went to Heaven. The knowledge that the world as we knew it would never be the same for us again, stunned us to our very core. It had not occurred to us that we would live on this Earth without parents, even if it should have. Still, once again, their teachings sustained us and, just as they knew we would, we were able to move forward in our lives. They had raised us to become independent women, after all. They knew that we would step up and become the new matriarchs of the family, bring the next generation forward to their own independence, so they could, in turn, raise their children to that level and so on. That was still part of the love of parents for their children.

Our parents showed us how to work at life. They knew that nothing in life is guaranteed, but with hard work, you can succeed in most areas of your life. Our parents showed us that being married isn’t always roses and candy, but when you had a loving, solid marriage, it was always rewarding. Their years together, though cut short when Dad passed away in 2007, were filled with love and stability. The married years they spent on this Earth were 53 years, but while people are not married in Heaven, they will always love each other. Today would have been my parents 66th wedding anniversary. I know they are enjoying time together in Heaven, and it is a joyous day. Happy 66th anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad!! We love and miss you very much, and we will see you in the future.

With each passing year, I find myself more and more impressed with how my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin handle the changes of life as they come along. Corrie and Kevin have been married 26 years today, and they have seen many things in life change. Some changes were good, some were not, but all were handled together. We never know what problems life will throw our way, or what disappointments might come our way. The reality is that it isn’t really about what problems occur, but rather what you do with the aftermath that matters. No, their marriage hasn’t been fraught with problems, and in fact most of it was wonderful, but whenever something comes up, they handle it together.

For Corrie, a disappointing job situation led her to consider making a big change that would require college in her 40’s, but Kevin has been really supportive and so, she is in nursing school, going for her degree. Kevin has Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, that has caused him so much pain that he can’t work, but he has managed to hold down the home front while Corrie works and studies. He has been able to cook the meals for them, and since it’s just the two of them now, the house stays clean with little work. Kevin is Corrie’s biggest cheerleader, encouraging her and keeping her spirit up. It’s probably not what many would call conventional, but they have made it work. Once Corrie’s schooling is done, things will get even easier. Right now, holding down the home front means spending a lot of alone time with their Scottie dog, Dottie and their cat, Zoe.

The challenges the kids have handled have in no way kept them from the wonderful blessing they have been given. Their marriage has been blessed with two sons, a soon to be daughter-in-law, and a sweet little granddaughter. Life couldn’t possibly get better for them. They are enjoying every minute of being parents and grandparents. They have always loved kids, so this has been the next logical step for them. Life for Corrie and Kevin hasn’t always been perfect, but as a whole, it’s been pretty close to it. Today is their 26th anniversary. With each passing year, they become more and more lifetime members of the lifetime married club. It’s a great club to be members of, and I’m proud of them. These days lots of marriages don’t last, but theirs has endured. Happy 26th Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When you have been given a miracle in the form of a second chance in life, you don’t want to waste it. Just under nine months ago, on October 14, 2018, I received a second chance miracle. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate what I had or anything like that, but rather it was that I could have lost my husband, but by a miracle of God, I didn’t. That second chance miracle makes this particular birthday…my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s 65th, even more special than it would have otherwise been. A landmark birthday, like the 65th is always special, but we almost didn’t see it for Bob, so this birthday is almost like a re-birth. I find myself feeling a little more emotional than I might have otherwise been, because he is still here, and I realize how very blessed I am.

I think a second chance miracle tends to bring with it some added responsibilities, however. When you are given a second chance, you need to spend the time wisely. Things like working out and eating right come to mind. A heart attack can make people quit, but not Bob. I have been very proud of Bob’s determination to stay healthy and to make the most out of his second chance miracle. I have seen many people who didn’t want to do the rehab that was prescribed for them. I’ve heard all the possible excuses. It hurts!! It’s hard work!! I have other things to do!! All of these excuses simply say that the person speaking them doesn’t appreciate the second chance they have been given. Bob has never once said anything like that, but rather went faithfully to his cardiac rehab, and when he had completed the course, he decided to continue in the maintenance program and his own expense. Its not required, but Bob wanted his full life back, not just a much slower version of existence that he would have to settle for.

Bob and I love to hike, and we have plans to continue hiking for years to come…especially now that we are both retired, and we have more time and the freedom to go and hike when and where we want to. That is a very liberating thing for us, and we are very excited about it. Bob and I have decided that we aren’t going to let anything slow us down. The road ahead will not be an easy one, because hiking, being in good shape, and preparing for hikes is not easy. It’s a lot of work, but when you reach the top of that mountain trail, and you look out on the view from the top, you know that you don’t ever want to be stuck at the bottom of that hill. Today is Bob’s 65th birthday. Happy birthday Sweetie!! I love you!!

My husband, Bob’s grandparents, Robert and Nettie Knox were married in Forsyth, Montana on this day in 1928. It’s strange how things come to pass. Nettie was born in Clyde Park, Montana, but Robert was born in Prosser, Washington. Had Robert’s family not moved to Montana when he was young, they likely would never have met. Distances back then prevented things like yearly vacations to tour the United States. Nevertheless, like my own Robert, who was born in Miles City, Montana; while I was born in Superior, Wisconsin; and we met in Casper, Wyoming, where both families lived then. Robert Knox and Nettie Noyes both ended up in the Rosebud area, and the rest was history.

Grandma always liked to tease grandpa that she was older and wiser than he was…at least from June 30th to November 28th, when he caught up to her in years again. It was just one of the ways Grandma liked to tease Grandma. Their marriage would have it’s ups and downs, just like any other marriage. They lost their first child, Everett Knox at birth, and it was then that Grandma decided that any subsequent children would be born in the hospital, not at home. Grandma entered the hospital with my future mother-in-law, 40 days before she was born. Thankfully, $5.00 a day covered her hospital bills. I don’t think she could have been able to afford todays rate just to make sure she had the baby in the hospital. Their daughter, Joann Knox’s birth went off without a hitch, nevertheless, I don’t think Grandma could get comfortable with the idea of having another baby…at lease not for the next 14 years, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Linda, who’s birth also went off without a hitch. Margaret “Margee” would follow just a little over two years later, and their family was complete. Nevertheless, Grandma’s belief that her son would have survived, had she been delivered by Caesarean Section, prompted her to distrust home-births for the rest of her life. Grandma and Grandpa Knox, went on to have 8 grandchildren; each of them having a granddaughter born on their birthday…Corrie on Grandma’s birthday, and Machelle on Grandpa’s.

Married life wasn’t always easy for them. They lived through many tough times in their own life, as well as, economic times. Nevertheless, they persevered, and their marriage lasted until Grandpa’s passing in 1985. Grandma never really wanted to continue on after his passing, but she stuck it out until 1990. If they were still alive today, which wul have put them in their 110s, they would have been married 91 years today. I know they are celebrating in Heaven. Happy 91st Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa Knox. We love and miss you very much.

World War II had been ended four years earlier, and people were getting back to their lives. The year was 1949, and the date was June 6th. My future in-laws had other things on their minds. Today, June 6, 1949 was the day they would be married. I wonder if they were even aware of the significance of the day, but if they were, I’m sure they paused for a few moments to remember the men who that very day, just five years earlier, when one of the biggest operations in World War II was carried out. The war was over, but the aftermath was still very fresh on everyone’s minds. Still, life goes on, and while we commemorate the important days in history, we can’t usually avoid of all of them when it comes to life events that come after.

Weddings in those days were not the elaborate affairs they often are today, but rather were set to times when people might already be planning to be in town. My mother-in-law, Joanne (Knox) Schulenberg wore a simple light peach colored dress and flat shoes. For those who don’t know my mother-in-law, seeing her in a dress of any style was amazing, because she practically lived on a horse, and dresses simply weren’t done. I never saw her in high heels, or any kind of a heel at all, so the flat white Mary Jane type of shoe was as dressy as it gets. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, was equally out of character for his wardrobe style. He didn’t usually wear a suit unless he was going to a funeral. For that reason, seeing them dressed up shows just how special this day was to them. Of course, people in those days didn’t get married in some of the outlandishly casual outfits that we sometime see these days.

The day turned out beautifully, and while I’m not sure if theirs was an outdoor wedding or not, I rather doubt it, because in those days, you didn’t see very many of those, but I could be wrong too. Nevertheless, the day was sunny and without rain, and the wedding went off without a hitch, and their married life began. They would go on to have six children, four girls and two boys. Life would take the family from Forsyth, Montana to Casper, Wyoming in the end. While Dad left us in May of 2013, Mom was with us until January of 2018. Their love was never ending. Today would have been their 70th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you very much.

There are two major ways that God has “gifted” His children. Yes, God gives us great and wonderful gifts all the time, but the greatest gift He could give us was His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth as a baby, and went through all the same things in life that we did, but did it all without sinning. Most of us can’t imagine going through 10 minutes without having a wrong thought, action, or attitude. We can be sharp tongued, selfish, and grouchy. Jesus could do none of those things. Everything he did had to be truthful, kind, and selfless. He had to be all the things we could not be, and then he had to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, because the people of Earth were in trouble…and without Jesus, there was no way out of it.

God knew that we were lost and that there was no Earthly way out of the situation, so because He loved the world so much, He sent His Son, Jesus and Jesus willingly came to Earth, knowing what would happen to him when he was a grown man. He could have stopped it. He could have told his Father that he didn’t want to go, but he didn’t. He accepted the unspeakable job that his Father, our God set before him, and he went through with it. I’m sure he thought about how horrible this would be, and I’m sure that a part of him wanted to make the whole progression stop, but he knew that if he didn’t do it, the world would have to pay the price of spiritual death for eternity.

What an amazingly selfless act of love!! Jesus paid it all…past, present, and future. We are free!! We are redeemed!! The horrible crucifixion was a successful payment for our sins. I am redeemed…we are all redeemed, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It’s as simple as that. Thank you Jesus!! Happy Resurrection Day!!

Just when you think you know someone, you find out that maybe you didn’t know them at all. I have always known that my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels is a great lady. She has made many, many wedding cakes for her friends and family, and then gives them as gifts, so that the bride and groom don’t have to pay the price she could easily charge for them. Yes I always knew that she was a great lady, but I didn’t know the true extent of her giving…until now.

Aunt Bonnie has always had a special love for children. I remember attending activities at Grant Elementary School with my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab Royce, to find Aunt Bonnie there too, watching the her grandson, Anthony McDaniels participate in the same events. Of course, that was just one of the many times Aunt Bonnie attended for her kids ad grandkids, and now great grandkids. She was instrumental in the lives of three generations of her family’s lives. Her family was her true delight. She is selfless and gives to her family with endless joy and love.

That is a part of Aunt Bonnie that I also knew, and I’m sure that like Aunt Bonnie and me, this is something that many grandparents do for their family, but Aunt Bonnie didn’t stop there. And that is truly where the similarities between most moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and my aunt end. Aunt Bonnie loves crocheting and sewing. It is a talent she has shared and taught to her family. These days, the family often shares gifts of yarn and pom-pom makers for birthdays! Each of them feels a very special bond with her through crocheting and sewing, but even that still doesn’t tell you the most amazing things that Aunt Bonnie does.

Aunt Bonnie’s love of babies and children has brought her to a place of giving to the babies in our community. Along with a couple of her friends, Aunt Bonnie sews and crochets for the new babies at the hospital and at Family Practice. She provides all of the supplies she needs for her projects…that’s a part of the gift…just like her cakes always were. She meets with her friends every other Thursday to cut out material and prepare for the week’s work. Over the years Bonnie has made baby gowns, hats, fleece blankets, quilts, onesies, crocheted caps, socks and bibs. Every other Thursday they meet to deliver the items they have created for the new babies. Aunt Bonnie is a giver, but I just never knew just what a great giver she is. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Long before she became my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was friends with her future nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith. They didn’t know, when their friendship began, that one day, they would be related. As they all grew up, and began to marry, it was Machelle who instigated the union between Rachel and my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, that made Rachel my sister-in-law and “aunt” to Machelle and Susan, as well as all Ron’s other nieces and nephews.

Of course, Machelle could only be the instigator, Rachel and to be the one to win Ron’s heart, if she want to continue the relationship. Well, that was a slam-dunk. According to Machelle, Rachel is a “mother hen.” She is always trying to make sure that her friends and family have what they need. It really breaks her heart when she is unable to help people. It is at those times that she knows that she must put them in God’s hands, which as we know, is not an easy task. Her kind heart and loving ways drew Ron to her, and if that wasn’t enough, Rachel is a great cook. When Machelle was going to introduce Rachel to Ron, Rachel asked her what she should cook. For Machelle, it was another slam-dunk, Rachel’s lasagna!! She wanted to impress Ron, and feed him something besides the “frozen burrito” type meals he had been eating. Machelle calls Rachel’s lasagna, “the best in the west,” and Ron agreed. Rachel made a great first impression. Rachel loves to cook and is never bothered by extra people at dinnertime. She always has ways to make sure there is enough.

Probably the most interesting thing about the relationship between Machelle, Susan, and Rachel is the fact that, while none of them knew of it, until later, all three couples got engaged the same day…not the same year, of course, but the same day…February 13th. That has been a lot of fun for them. They call it Engagement Day, and they make a big deal out of it, texting each other to wish each other “Happy Engagement Day!!” The tradition makes it that much more special for all of them. And I think it is very cool too. It is something you just don’t see every day. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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