Love

The last year has been a whirlwind of change for my daughter, Corrie Petersen. Eight months ago, she left a job that should have had room for advancement, but simply didn’t for her position…it was a dead-end job for Corrie. Never one to give up, Corrie took future in her own hands, with much prayer and guidance from God, she went back to school to obtain the future career that she knew was the calling of her heart…nursing. She began her big job move by going through the CNA training at Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, and once she was a CNA, she began her search for a job change. Upon being hired at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital, she left her dead-end job. Coming from 13 years of taking part in the caregiving process for both sets of her grandparents, Corrie went into the decision to become a nurse, with her eyes wide open. I think that lots of people try going into nursing, only to find that it isn’t for them. Nurses, CNAs, and aides do a lot of personal care tasks that are less than pleasant sometimes. If you don’t have a heart for nursing, it will be a very difficult…but Corrie has a heart for it, and has become a dedicated CNA, who is well on her way to being a nurse. The fall will bring nursing school for Corrie, and she can hardly wait. I am so excited for her.

When we think of job promotions, we don’t generally expect them to happen within the first three months, but that is exactly what happened with Corrie. Since she is a very experienced CNA, even thought she has only been working as a CNA for eight months, Corrie’s supervisors quickly saw the value she brought to their facility, and she has been promoted to lead CNA for her shift, as well as Trainer fit new hires. Both are big honors for a girl who has been on the job less than a year. She is also “laddering up,” which puts her at a higher level of training, making her much more valuable to Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. It is my understanding that they have never had a CNA ladder up, which Corrie was very surprised to find out. So I guess you could say she is making history at work.

Probably the biggest news of the year…and her lifetime, was the addition of their new baby granddaughter on May 30th of this year. Next to motherhood, grandmotherhood is about the greatest experience that comes from getting older. Not that Corrie is old at all, especially when you consider that we, her parents are now great grandparents. This baby is such a sweet, good natured little girl. Corrie and her husband, Kevin enjoy every single minute they get to spend with her. I know they would like to spend lots more time, but her family is a big one, so we all have to share. Corrie is feeling so very blessed these days. Having a grandchild is the greatest thing ever, and for Corrie and Kevin, a granddaughter is amazing, because they never got to have a daughter, and they wanted a girl too. And, to top it off, they get to share a birthday of sorts, because hr granddaughter is one month old today. And in addition, having a job you really love..well, as the saying goes, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Now, I don’t think that Corrie would say that her job isn’t work, but it is work she loves, and that makes all the difference. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Yesterday, in between bouts of sprinkling rain, my grand-niece, Siara Harman became Siara Olsen, when she said “I do” to the love of her life, Nick Olsen. The wedding was held at City Park in Casper, Wyoming, under mostly cloudy skies, with sprinkling rain before it and heavier rain after. Nevertheless, the actual wedding took place under sunny skies, and the ceremony was the beautiful Cinderella wedding that Siara had always wanted. Siara wore a stunning light pink fitted dress, with a lovely full skirt from the knees down, that swept into a train that glided along behind her. She was given in marriage by her step-dad, Dave Balcerzak, who she considers her dad. It was a precious moment for them. Her bride’s maids wore beautiful gold sequined dresses, and the groomsmen wore white tuxedos with pale gold vest and tie. The effect was classic Cinderella, and Siara was a beautiful princess. The wedding was put together by Siara’s mom, Chantel Balcerzak, who runs a wedding planner business. Chantel did an amazing job with the wedding, and everything went off without a hitch, It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

When Siara met Nick, she knew almost immediately that he was the one. They dated for a while, but they both knew that this was a forever kind of love. They both knew that they would be married…and yesterday was that special day. Yesterday, their friends and family gathered together to witness the beautiful exchange of vows for this beautiful couple. The gathering of their friends and family made this perfect day complete. We are all so happy for Siara and Nick. I know that the future is going to be very bright for them. They have a great relationship, and they are very much in love with each other. I’m sure there will be children in the future, and we will be very excited for that time, but that is another story for another time.

After a beautiful reception, complete with an amazing wedding cake, and a groom’s cake shaped like a taco, in honor of Siara and Nick’s love of Taco Bell, the couple danced the night away with their family friends, and of course with each other. I’m sure that like most couples, they didn’t want the night to end. The festivities continued until about 11:00pm, and them the couple went to their hotel room, where they had the honeymoon suite. So,today marks their first full day of their lives as husband and wife, and we couldn’t possibly be happier. Congratulations on your wedding and on your future together Siara and Nick!! We love you, and pray God’s greatest blessings over you both.

Becoming parents for the first time is such an amazing thing. You are in awe of the beautiful gift God has given you, and you can’t wait to see them grow and become the person they are destined to be. Today was that special day for my grandson, Chris Petersen, and his beautiful fiance, Karen, when their daughter made her grand entrance into the world yesterday, May 30, 2018 at 4:35pm. She weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces. She was 19¼ inches long. She has soft wisps of brown hair, just like her parents did, and she is absolutely beautiful.

Their baby’s arrival has brought with it many changes in my family. Of course, Chris and Karen became parents, but also, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin became grandparents. Their other son, Josh became an uncle. My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis became great aunt and great uncle, and their children, Shai and Caalab now have a 1st cousin once removed. My husband, Bob and I are now great grandparents. And of course, there were the same changes for Karen’s family for her parents are now grandparents. And this baby has multiple great grandparents, and even one great great grandmother. Her siblings are now aunts and uncles. It’s an exciting day for sure.

My great granddaughter is a sweet little baby girl, who loves to cuddle with those holding her. She was wide awake, even after having a full day of work just being born. Everyone knows labor and delivery is a tough job on the mom, but the baby has a lot of work to do too, and it can be quite exhausting for those little babies. Nevertheless, she was excited to see what was going on around her, so she had her eyes wide open. What I found really special is how she just snuggled up to her daddy. She knew his voice from hearing him talk before she was born, and she cuddled up to him as if to say, “That’s my Daddy!” I find it so amazing that these babies can know their parents voices from inside the womb and so quickly relate to it after their birth. Such a sweet bond to both mommy and daddy. When her mommy had her, she was totally content. She would have snuggled up and stayed right there for the rest of the day. This pretty girl is a sweet combination of both of her parents, and we are just so in love with her. She has a big family who all love her very much and we can’t wait for all the wonderful times to come. Congratulations to Karen and Chris, your beautiful little family is growing, and we are so excited for the future!! We are so happy for you!!

In church today, our pastor talked about how moms can become invisible to their children. Of course, he was talking about how we can take them for granted, but there is another way that our mom can become invisible…at least to us here. When your mom goes to Heaven and you can no longer see her, or talk to her. While she is no longer with us here on earth, that doesn’t mean her love for us ends. Love will endure forever. She was the one who carried us in her womb for nine months, and then brought us into this world. She nurtured us through life, and helped us to become independent people, who can take charge of our own lives.

I’m sure there were many times when we took her for granted, and didn’t give her the respect she deserved, but she always forgave us for our thoughtlessness. In her wisdom, she knew that we really didn’t mean it. Still, our words must have hurt…our actions must have stung. Nevertheless, Mom forgave and didn’t hold it against us. I’m sure some of them us were much more of a challenge than others, and I place myself in that category, because I think I had the ability to be a trial sometimes…and I think I might be putting that somewhat mildly. Still, that doesn’t mean that I did not care about my mom, but rather that her daughter was stubborn. Mom always forgave me anyway, and for that I consider myself blessed. Our moms taught us what it meant to be parents…the need to forgive our kids for the stupid things we did. We learned parenting from our parents after all, and much of the nurturing qualities come from our mothers. Where would our kids be without our mothers to show us how to be mothers. We learned it from her.

Still, over those years, we have all taken our moms for granted. We didn’t really see them. They were a fixture in our lives. They performed a function, but we were seldom grateful. Then, when they are suddenly gone, we finally get it. We realize that they quietly took care of all the needs of our lives. They took a back seat so that we could shine. They cooked and cleaned, and received no thanks from us. We sassed them and disrespected them, and even though we may have said we were sorry, we could not take those things back. They were forever out there. Then, for some of us, the day came when they left this earth and we learned what it was like without that wonderful person that we had taken so much for granted…viewed as invisible…whether we realized it or not. For us, invisible took on a whole new meaning where our mother was concerned. I was blessed in this life to have a wonderful mom and mother-in-law, and both of them are invisible to me now. They are in Heaven, but they will never be forgotten. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms. I love and miss you both.

When I think of Easter, I immediately think of my Christian faith. I think of the miracle of salvation, and the willing sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The human race was in so much trouble. Sin had entered in and we were doomed. There was no way out, because the wages of sin is death and all has sinned. But God has a solution. Innocent blood must be shed to pay the price for all those who had sinned. There was not other way to reverse the curse that sin had brought sin the world.

The death of Jesus, on Good Friday, was a brutal one. As we know, humans have the ability to inflict horrible pain and wounds upon one another. Jesus was a man, but he was also God. He felt every brutal flogging, and endured every humiliation that was thrust upon him, and he did it knowing that it was vital. In fact it was the most important mission in history…past, present, and future. No single act would ever be more important, because the death on the cross was a “once for all” thing. His death reversed history. What the devil stole from the human race, Jesus returned.

When Jesus arose from the dead, three days later, our justification was complete. We could now go to Heaven, just by believing that Jesus had made that sacrifice for us, and accepting him as our Lord and Saviour. Such a simple way to receive eternal life, and yet, so many people refuse to receive, because they think they will have to give up their fun life. Little do they know what they are really giving up. This life is just a moment in time…Heaven is forever. The difference is stark. This life is fleeting and soon will be gone, but the next life will never end, and we can choose where we spend it, so we must choose wisely.

Many people celebrated with a big dinner, and Easter candy, and that is fine but people should never forget the real reason we celebrate Easter…the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Jesus is risen!! He is alive!! Happy Easter everyone!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I were married at a young age. I wasn’t even out of high school a year when we got married. Today is our 43rd Wedding Anniversary. I’ve heard all the different marriage experts, with all their varying ideas about what makes a perfect marriage, but when I look back on how our marriage lasted all these years, I can’t say that we did many of the things the experts suggested…mostly because they were far fetched and not really us, but also because we didn’t have time for that nonsense. We were busy writing our own book. No, we weren’t literally writing a marriage book, but we were living our life, and in doing so, we discovered that time flew by, as it does when you are having fun, and before we knew it, we had been married 10, then 20, then 30, then 40 years, and now we have arrived at 43 years, and yet looking back, that seems an impossible number. It doesn’t seem like it could possibly be that long. We are among the rare few who have been married once, and have stayed married for more than 40 years. Of course, some people who didn’t make that mark, lost their spouse to death, which doesn’t count really, because they had stayed married until death. Still, we know that divorce is very common in this country, and that somehow we made it. All we knew, 43 years ago, was that we loved each other.

Bob and I have many things in common. After all our years together that isn’t surprising. We have a love for the outdoors and hiking. In fact, while you will find us walking in the mall in the winter, you should know that we find that tedious and not relaxing, at least not nearly as relaxing as a trail on a summer evening. We like the same television shows, and some of the same music. We think alike too. I think we could probably finish most of each others sentences. Many of our mannerisms are similar to, because we you are around a person a lot their mannerisms rub off on you. After all these years, we are comfortable with each other, and when you get were we are, you will see just how amazing that is. Today is or 43rd wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Bob!! I love you with all my heart!!

As the three year mark since my mom, Collene Spencer went to Heaven arrives, I realize more and more how many time I have wanted to go to her and ask a question, get her advise, or just hear what she thought of my most recent story. Mom was, after all, my biggest fan. It didn’t matter what I wrote about, she liked it. And so often, she was part of it. She answered my many questions about the family, told me the inspirational things that happened, or the funny things her siblings would dream up. Hearing her talk about it all made me feel like I was there watching her and her siblings growing up. I could feel the coziness of my grandparents house, and hear the laughter of the kids in the kitchen as they did the dishes or helped with cooking the evening meal. Mom created that exclusive viewing for me, and I have felt very privileged to have been able to take that little tour into her history with her. Now that she is in Heaven, I find myself with more questions to ask her, and I really wish that Heaven had a telephone, so I could hear her voice and ask her the things that I want to know, because in Heaven, our minds have perfect recall, so the stories would be even more rich with detail.

Of course, the telephone call would not be just to ask her the many questions I still have, but also to hear her voice again, and my dad’s voice too. It has been so very long since I have heard their sweet voices, and I think they are among the things I miss the most. Of course, their faces, and really their person, but their voices are the essence of who they were. Thankfully, God has given me a clear memory, and in my memory files, their voices are stored. I can hear Mom’s laugh, along with her way of being just a little bit goofy, and Dad’s teasing, which had a way of driving Mom crazy…and of course, their life lessons…which is probably a nice way of talking about the many times they had to discipline me. Sometimes, I think I might have been their biggest challenge, and I believe my sisters would agree. They have often wondered how I made it to adulthood. All those things went into the life our parents created for us, and I wish every day that we could have them back. I wouldn’t want to go back in time exactly, but rather I wish that they could have continued on into what for them would have been the future. I would love for them to meet the new little family additions they have now. We have added lots of babies, and there are more of them on the way. They have four great great grandchildren now, and one more on the way. They loved those babies, and I wish they could have seen these great great grandbabies. Their legacy continues. If Heaven had a telephone, we could call and let them talk to these precious great grandbabies and great great grandbabies. Oh, how I wish we could call them. There is so much I would like to tell them. If only Heaven had a telephone. While I miss you so much on this day, in particular, Mom, I know that you and Dad are having the most amazing time in Heaven, and you can’t wait for all of us to get there…where we will realize why Heaven doesn’t have a telephone. When we are all there, we will never need telephones again. What an awesome day that will be. We love and miss you Mom…and Dad too. See you both someday soon…and we can hardly wait.

Whether you consider Valentine’s Day to be a highly commercialized day, geared toward getting the consumer to spend a bunch of money on silliness, or you see it as a day set aside to celebrate love, everyone who has loved ones in their life, has to deal with it in some way. Perhaps deal with it is a poor choice of words, but there are those who feel like that is exactly what the day is all about…and they have loved ones too. Of course, those same people feel like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the others are the same commercialized money trap. I don’t really get that. Why not have a day here and there to celebrate the people who have blessed your life? After all, where would your life be without those wonderful people in it. Sometimes, I think people take their family so much for granted, that they forget how blessed they truly are.

I get that we are all busy. In fact, that is one reason why we should embrace these days. They remind us to take a moment out of our busy, hectic lives and remember the people who are always there for us…through thick and thin, and I don’t mean just our spouse. Our parents have given up many things to make a better life for their kids; our siblings basically guarantee that we always have friends; our kids, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong…at least when they are little. We have all of these people, who show us so much love, and then we complain about having to buy them a little box of candy or flowers!! What does that say about us?

There are also marriages and families that are a little bit more unconventional, who do things like dinner, or handmade gifts, and in reality it is not the gift that counts, but the thought…the sentiment…the love. And most of all, it’s about showing how much they are loved, because after all, it’s the love that matters. And since it is the love that matters, why not show it.

My mom, Collene Spencer was a sweet, loving, and forgiving person all her life. She carried that personality into her marriage and motherhood. I’ve really never met anyone who was as truly kind hearted as my mom was. All of her life she had a heart for people. She tried to tell people about the most important thing in her life…her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Mom wanted everyone she came across to be in Heaven when they died. Mom was in every way a missionary…just without the funding that many missionaries have. She didn’t travel the world to preach the Gospel, she traveled her world preaching the Gospel. It didn’t matter where she was, if she was with family, friends, or strangers, her mission was clear, and she was a willing servant of the Lord. My guess is that the people she led to the Lord by preaching to them numbers in the thousands. It is her legacy in many ways.

Mom loved all things of beauty. She grew up collecting rocks, and her rock garden was filled with her many finds. She saw beauty in many different things. Our home was decorated with Mom’s own special style, that also included the “artwork” of her girls from time to time. I can’t say that our “artwork” really added to the beauty of her home, but in her eyes they were treasures. I know how much she treasured these things, because when we went through her things after her passing, there were her treasures, including the artwork of her girls. Her girls and her husband, my dad, Allen Spencer, were her world. She wanted nothing more than to take care of us and make a good home for us, and she did that very well, even though she was not able to be a stay-at-home mom for all of our growing up years.

Mom always loved to travel. It was something Dad introduced her to, and together, they traveled the United States, visiting almost every state. The vacations we took and the places we got to see were amazing. They showed us every historical marker they could find, and while we might not have appreciated those markers then, we learned so much about our country. I think I can attribute many of my stories to things I learned from my parents. Camping was the order of the day when we traveled, and cooking over a campfire, until later when we got a travel trailer. Mom was an excellent cook and she passed that ability down to her girls. There wasn’t one of her girls who couldn’t cook when we got married, and our husbands have been the beneficiaries of her teaching. She was an amazing teacher of many things, including helping out at our schools, even substitute teaching when I was in grade school. It was another way that she traveled her world, filling it with life, light, and beauty as she went. Today would have been my mom’s 82nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. We love and miss you very much.

The Christmas rush is behind us for another year. The gifts are purchased, and wrapped, and for many people, already opened. Christmas dinner is being prepared and families are gathering together. The house is filled with laughter and conversation and stomachs are growling just a bit as the aroma of the turkey fills the air. It’s hard to wait for the meal to be ready. It’s such a wonderful time to be sharing with family. Many people think of these big dinners as a lot of work, and it can be almost a relief to have them over, but really, they are a gift. All to quickly, children grow up and sometimes, move away, and before you can even blink, everything has changed. All the more reason to cherish the times you have, while you have them.

So much has changed since the Christmases of my youth, and while I wouldn’t go back, because then I wouldn’t have my precious daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, and now the new little great grandbaby that is on the way in late spring 2018. But, I do wish my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer were still here. Having them in Heaven brings a little bit of a melancholy feeling to an otherwise cheerful season. Nevertheless, knowing that they are spending their days in Heaven with Jesus…the reason for this season, makes me feel very happy for them, even if I’m sad for me. It has been 10 Christmases since I have seen my dad, and 3 Christmases since I’ve seen my mom, as well as, 5 Christmases since I’ve seen my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg. It’s odd, I suppose to think of how many Christmases they have been gone, but they were such a big part of what Christmas was for me, as well as every day of my life, that I find it really hard not to contemplate the fact that so much has changed in the years since they left, and just how much we miss them.

While the commercialized part of Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts from loved ones, it is the ultimate gift that really is what Christmas is all about. I don’t know what other people think about gift giving, but for me, it is God’s children imitating the Father. God gave us the ultimate gift, when He sent His son, and Jesus gave us the ultimate gift when He gave His life for us. We can never give a gift that could begin to compare to the precious gift that God gave us, but it is a show of our love for each other, and I know that makes God happy. He wanted His children to love each other, just as He so loved the world. I’m thankful for the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and for the price He later paid, because without Him none of us would receive Heaven when we passed away. That you Father for your precious gift, and thank you Jesus for paying my debt. Happy birthday Jesus. We love you!!

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