My niece, Jenny Spethman is my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s youngest child, and sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe that she is all grown up and a mother of 5 children, one of whom is graduating from high school this year. Jenny seems to take family life so much in stride. Oh, I know there are kid struggles, as there are in any family, but all in all Jenny and her husband, Steve Spethman have been very successful, and they have raised wonderful kids.
As I think about Jenny, I find myself with the same thoughts over and over…a love of God, humbleness, and kindness. Those are things not everyone can have said about them. Jenny is one of those people who absolutely ooze those things. She doesn’t put on airs or act conceited. Those traits live strongly in her heart, and as the Bible says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45. That is very true of Jenny. I don’t think I have ever heard her speak an unkind word to or about anyone. It just really isn’t in her.
These days, Jenny works part-time at the law firm where her mom, works, and everyone there absolutely loves her. Jenny could go full time, and in fact they have offered that to her. Of course, that would mean being in an office all day, and not the “runner” she is now, but Jenny likes being the runner. She runs errands that need done for the office, such as taking legal documents to the courthouse, going to the post office, and anything else they need someone to do outside the office. She also helps out at the reception desk for lunch and breaks for the receptionist. By running their errands, Jenny has developed a great relationship with everyone in the office, and they dearly love her. It’s not that Jenny and Steve need the money anyway, it’s just what Jenny calls “Mad Money” and that is all she wants it to be. Jenny and Steve love to entertain, and she is definitely a fashionista with a flair for the unusual, ina a way that the rest of us are just a bit jealous of. With her “mad money” job, they have the extra money to do all the fun stuff they want to do. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
On this, my mother, Collene Spencer’s birthday in Heaven, I am reminded of really, how wise she was, even though my sisters and I did not really realize just how wise she was. They say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and indeed, the Bible says, “Laughter doeth good like a medicine.” My mother really tried to live that out. She would always remind us to “Keep of the Sunny side of life,” meaning to laugh at hardship and adversity, because you can get through almost anything if you can laugh at adversity. Sometimes, my sisters and I felt like laughter was far too simplistic for what we needed at any given time, but Mom was always full of laughter and song, and her life was really far smoother than ours ever were. For her life was simple. Follow God’s leading, and you will be just fine…and she always was.
Mom was first and foremost, a woman of God. If you were in her vicinity, you were going to hear about her Savior at some point in the conversation. Sometimes, when she would begin to talk, we…or at least I would begin to cringe, because I thought people would think she was crazy. I was always of the opinion that if God wanted a person saved, He would make it happen somehow, and it was not my job to help. Oh…how wrong that opinion is. The Bible talks about sending the “laborers” out to save the sinners, and I don’t know who I thought that was, but somehow, I didn’t think it was me…or my mom. Still, if not us, then who. A laborer had to be a human, of course, but did it have to be my mom…at a time in my life (the teenaged years), when her speaking out was going to embarrass me. Well, it did, and I had to deal with it, because she had a calling, and she loved her Lord so much that she was going to do what He asked. She saw it as her duty…and of course, it was.
Now, I am very proud of my mom’s accomplishments, in her Labors for the Lord, because when she went home to Heaven on February 22, 2015, I saw, at her funeral, a large crowd of people who knew and loved her, and many who felt like they owed their salvation to her work for the Lord. How could that be? She wasn’t a preacher, evangelist, missionary, or teacher. She was a laborer…just a laborer!! And yet, I know that when it came time to give her the crowns for leading others to the Lord…they were many. She would talk to anyone, anywhere, because she was a laborer for the Lord. Looking back, I am quite proud of my mom, her legacy, and her “almost embarrassing way” of laboring for the Lord, because now I can see that she was far wiser than I ever was. Today would have been my mom’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Have a wonderful celebration. We love and miss you and Dad very much.
My niece, Dustie Masterson works as a shift manager at Walgreen’s in Casper, Wyoming, and in the time she has been there, she has become an indispensable asset to the store. You never know were you will find her when you walk in, because she seems to be everywhere at once, and the places she isn’t will be calling for her help before you know it. It’s not that the store is out of control, but rather that under Dustie’s leadership, it is a well-oiled machine. She seems to be everywhere at once, because Dustie is a mover and a shaker. A mover and a shaker is defined as “a powerful person who initiates events and influences people” and that is much like what Dustie is. She stays busy, helps out where needed, and keeps things running smoothly, but she also inspires the people she works with to excel in their jobs too.
Dustie is just as much an inspiration in her home. She inspires her kids to do well in school and her husband, Rob Masterson to do well in his job too. Being managers is something they share, although at different places. I think that the leadership qualities that Dustie and Rob have are already showing up in their children. Some things are inherited too, and these kids will do well in life.
Dustie is a great leader, but that is not all that Dustie is about. Dustie has a great sense of humor, and she likes being very silly, especially with her kids. She shows them that they don’t have to spend their whole life working feverishly, or being serious as the contemplate their lives, or even hidden away with their noses in a book. Of course, those things are necessary at the proper times, but there is also a time to be…silly, and to laugh about their silliness. Life can sometimes get far too serious, and like the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” Dustie loves the Bible, and I love that she does, and that she knows there is a time to laugh. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
With each passing year, I find myself more and more amazed that my mom, Collene Spencer could be in Heaven for six years now. For those of us who miss her very much, that thought feels sad, but for my mom, who loved the Lord so much and was excited to see Heaven, these have been wonderful years, that seemed like seconds, I’m sure. Each day for her is now spent in rejoicing, because that was always what my mom wanted. She never desired anything more than to worship God and bask in His presence. Like one of the songs we used at her funeral, and those of many others now, tells us, “We can only imagine what it will be like!!”
Mom enjoyed many things in her lifetime. She liked to travel, go camping, celebrate the holidays, and spend time with family, but more than anything, my mom loved to spend time in the Word. We bought he a Kindle when they first came out, and loaded it with Christian books and the Bible. It made it so much easier for her to read, because it was so light and easy to hold. She had dozens of books at her disposal, and she loved that. She spent her days reading and communing with God while her family was all at work. Anyone who knew her will tell you that my mom was “All about bringing others to the Lord.” She loved people, and didn’t want anyone to be lost, but she really wanted people to know how much God loves them. She never stopped telling others about God’s love for them, and that is to her credit. I can’t begin to count the number of people she led to the Lord in her lifetime.
Of the things on this Earth, the most important to mom was her family. She treasured each and every new baby that was added to her lineage, and I know she can’t wait to meet the ones who have arrived after her homegoing. She also treasured the new spouses and partners. There was a special place in her heart for each of these new additions. When someone loves one of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond, that makes them awesome in Mom’s eyes…and that makes them as much hers as if she had given birth to them. There was always room in Mom’s heart for more loved ones. She loved watching her family grow with each new addition. She considered each one perfect. It s such a wonderful way to look at people, and one we should all incorporate into our own lives. When I think of the life lessons my mom gave us, these things are among the greatest. As I look forward to my own homegoing someday, I can only imagine just how wonderful it will be, and as I continue my life on Earth, it is my desire to live my life in such a way as to make my mom and my dad proud of the child they raised, and the woman I have become. I miss my mom very much, and I am forever grateful for the life she and my dad gave me. Happy 6th anniversary of your homegoing, Mom. We love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you again.
Years ago, I watched a movie about the survivors of a Uruguayan plane that crashed in the Andes Mountains. The crash and the survival amazed me, because against all odds, the 16 men who were rescued on December 22, 1972 had survived 72 days on a glacier at 11,710 feet in the bitter cold. The plane, a Fairchild FH-227D, was a chartered Uruguayan Air Force plane, designated as Flight 571, carrying 45 people. The flight carrying 19 members of a rugby team, family, supporters, and friends, took off from Montevideo, Uruguay on Friday, October 13, 1972, en route to Santiago, Chile. An error in the pilot’s calculations caused the plane to turn north too soon from the mountain pass it was going through, and put it on a collision course with the mountain peaks on either side of it. There were initially 28 people who survived the crash, but injuries, bitter cold, and an avalanche took the lives of all but the 16 who were rescued. The rescue might never have happened had not Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa make the trek from the glacier known before the crash as the Valley of Tears, in the Cordillera.
Recently I read another book on the flight, called Out Of The Silence: After The Crash by Eduardo Strauch, one of the survivors of the crash. The book was very good, and while it didn’t tell more than the movie had shown exactly, it put a very different perspective on the dire situation of the survivors, and the faith of the survivors and their loved ones, waiting at home for news. The book talked about the many premonitions, visions, and dreams that came out of the endless hours of waiting. It spoke of the several people who had a premonition before takeoff that the plane might crash. It spoke of the mother, who at the time of the crash had a vision of her son sitting in the plane seat covered in blood. She said that he looked like he was sleeping and she knew that he had died…she was right. It spoke of another mother who saw her son with just a bruise on his head, but very much alive. He was, and the bruise was where she saw it. And it spoke of the vivid dream Nando had, of the survivors being rescued by Christmas…which they were.
The book reminded me of times in my own life when I have experienced such “foretelling of things to come.” Because of my deep religious convictions I struggle with things like psychics and I don’t believe in séances or talking to the dead, but rather that God tells us of things to come, a truth which is found in His Word, the Bible. I recalled the time that I was at my mom and dad’s house, and Dad was at work. The phone rang, and I suddenly got an uncomfortable feeling that something had happened to my dad. I discounted it when the call on the phone that seemingly brought the feeling about, turned out to be something else. I went home, and when I got there, my mom called to tell me that a heavy steel beam had fallen on my dad’s foot, crushing his little toe, which is not protected by the steel toe on a boot. I have since marveled at the fact that I had that feeling at the precise time of the accident.
Mom also had such a “telling of things to come” after my Dad became ill in Canada, while they and my sister Cheryl were on vacation, driving on the north shore of Lake Superior. My sisters, Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I had rushed to Canada to be with the them and hold vigil over our very ill dad. One night, Mom woke us all up saying that we needed to pack up, because we were going to be taking Dad home that day. At the time we thought that she was in a state of crazed delirium, due to the stress and seriousness of the situation. While listening to Nando’s announcement to his friends upon awaking from his dream on that mountain, saying that they would be home by Christmas, it occurred to me that while her timing was off, my mom was right in that Dad would leave that place and come back to his life here.
It is a very strange thing to know that God has spoken to you in such a way, and many people do not even believe that it happened, but too many of these incidences have taken place to discount them. There were several people who worked in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, who were told by God not to go to work that day. Those who obeyed, were later shocked by what took place, and the part they might have played in those events. There was also a woman in the second tower, who when the announcement was made to return to their offices, was told by God to “get out of there and take as many people with her as she could.” She obeyed and saved a number of people who chose to listen to her warning that they must leave immediately. Whatever you choose to call these events, they are real, and while we never know at the moment they come, if we will look foolish for listening to them, or be exonerated when things play out exactly as we saw them…we find ourselves in the position of making a choice to listen or not to…come what may.
These days there are so many public schools in the United States, that they have become something we give little thought to. That was not always the case, however. As people moved West to populate this great nation, many mothers had to homeschool their children. Eventually, schools began to spring up across the prairie, but what about the schools back East. This nation didn’t always have schools. Things had to be established first. And considering the fact that America was discovered in 1492, it would seem to me that the schools were a bit behind the times. The first public school in the United States, was established on this day, April 23, 1635, in Boston, Massachusetts. The school was called the Boston Latin School. At the time the school was formed, English was not the only language spoken in the United States, so learning Latin, which was considered to be the root of European language, was also a priority, as it was with grammar schools in England. Seventeenth-century schoolboys throughout Europe, Catholic or Protestant, learned Latin, and which explains the focus of Boston Latin.
One of the main reasons for education, as far as the Puritans were concerned, was to be able to read the Bible. One of the main reasons for the pilgrimage to the new world was religious freedom, and they felt like it was essential that their students be schooled in the important languages, so they could read the Bible and other important books for themselves. Boston Latin School has prided itself on the number of its students who attended Harvard, or some of the other prestigious four year college.
When I think of the first school in the United States, and the history thereof, I think of my Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren. She mentioned in her journal that in writing a family history, the author should mention things that are interesting about the times the people in the family lived in. She also had a type of love-hate relationship with school. As a young girl, all she really wanted to do was to stay at home with her mother, but she also understood the importance of a good education, for without it she would not have been able to get the jobs she was able to get, which were good jobs, especially for a woman at that time in history. Whether we enjoy school or not, it is a gateway to almost every opportunity there is, and in the United States, it started with Boston Latin School.
The presents are purchased, the packages wrapped, all of the commercialized aspects of the day are over now and there is finally time to take a moment to ponder the real reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour…Jesus. So often, we spend so much time rushing around trying to get ready for the holiday, that we have little time to think about the wonderful thing our Father, God did for us!! We were a world lost, and destined for Hell!! He had no obligation to help us. We got into this predicament by ourselves…and He could have left us there, but God’s love is not like human love. We hold grudges…even with those we love. God does not hold grudges, but rather, He set out to make a plan to turn it all around. He came up with a plan to send Jesus to Earth…and worked it out so that He lived a sinless life, as a human, and then paid the price… the ultimate price. And Jesus agreed to the plan. He gave his life for us so we could live our lives under grace, and receive Heaven and not Hell in the end.
So often, the birth of our Saviour is all but forgotten in the mix of Santa Clause and a big dinner. I find that really sad, especially in light of the sacrifice He made for us. I can’t imagine being God and deciding to take on a human form, much less a baby who is for much of its young life helpless, and forced to rely on others for all your needs. Then, while you had never sinned in any way, you are taken captive, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Then in the only way it could possibly work, Jesus was separated for God, while he took all the sins of the world on himself. It had to be, because the worst result of sin, is separation for God. That would be far worse than Hell could ever be. God’s love is the most important thing we have. It is what saves us from the pit of Hell.
There is nothing wrong with the Christmas traditions we cherish so much, and giving has always been what God is all about. The main thing is that in the midst of all of our traditions, we take time to be thankful for the greatest gift ever given. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, one of the most important verses in a book that is the greatest book ever written…the Bible. God is love, and when we sinned, He stepped up and made a way for us to be reconciled to him. He sent a Saviour named Jesus. And that is the real reason for the Christmas season. Merry Christmas everyone!! May God bless you all!!
I think most people have heard the Bible verse, John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” People may not realize that this is a Bible verse, but they know what they thought was an old saying. Either way, the verse was talking about Jesus dying on the cross to save the world from it’s sin, but I don’t think that was all it was about. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but when my pastor was preaching a couple of weeks ago, this verse was part of his sermon. Of course, he talked about Jesus sacrifice, but suddenly something jumped out in my mind. This verse was about far more than Jesus sacrifice, or it wouldn’t have talked about the greater love a person can have if they choose to lay down their life for their friend. It was about how we are all supposed to be.
It was at that moment that a thought came to me. There is more than one way to “lay down your life.” Of course, the verse meant to die for your friend, and many is the hero who has done that, but it occurred to me that dying is not the only way to lay down your life for someone. In fact, caregivers lay down their life all the time. They set aside their normal life activities, and take the time to take care of another person. I’m not trying to blow my own horn, but rather I want to talk about all of the many caregivers I know of and those I don’t, because their sacrifice is amazing. The patient they care for, would be in a nursing home, were it not for the loving kindness shown to them by a friend or family member who laid down their own life to give that time to another. It is one of the greatest showings of love there is, and it is also very rewarding for the caregiver, although sometimes it is sad too. For just a little bit of time, almost always a relatively short lived little bit of time, at least in the grand scheme of time, you have the chance to be the wind beneath their wings…the one who holds them up and cares for their needs…the one who had the privilege to lay down their own life to care for a loved one.
Yes, greater love hath no man, than that a man lay down his life for his friend…to actually die for his friend, but there is another way that is just as wonderful, and just as loving…to lay down your own needs, desires, activities, time…to care for another human being who desperately needs your help. So here’s to all the Caregivers I know, and to all those that I don’t know. You truly are among the greatest of people on Earth, because you have make a sacrifice that shows the ultimate amount of love you had for your loved one. It makes me proud to be a part of such an elite, amazing group of people. Today is National Family Caregiver Day, and I hope it is an amazing day for all of you.
My grand nephew, Xander Spethman is just completing his last year of elementary school, and when his mom, Jenny Spethman told me that, I just couldn’t believe it. Where could all the years have gone. Xander doesn’t seem like a little boy to me anymore, I suddenly realized, but it still doesn’t seem possible that he is ready for middle school. I know that when my grandchildren started going to middle school, it felt strange to think that they would not all be in the same school as their siblings anymore. That is what my first thought was concerning Xander too. Would it feel odd that he wouldn’t see his brothers, Zack and Isaac during the day anymore. And would it feel strange for them that their big brother would be in a different school now. Maybe kids don’t think that way. Maybe it’s just me. and the way my mind works. It just seems so strange when the big brother, who has made himself his brothers’ keeper, will now no longer be there to keep a close eye on his little brothers.
Xander has always been a boy who takes responsibility seriously. Whether it is watching out for his brothers and sister, taking out the trash for his grandma without being asked, stocking shelves for the little neighborhood grocery story, or helping his dad, Steve Spethman work for days to help clear fallen branches in his neighborhood after a severe snow storm last year. He sees what needs to be done and he simply figures he might as well be the one to do it…an amazing decision for a boy.
Xander is a leader and not a follower. He has a God given take charge attitude. He leads other in the right direction and encourages them to do what is right. Xander stands up for God, and stays focused in the Word. His bed can often be found with his Bible on it, open to the last page of study. He talks about God to his siblings, parents, and anyone else who will listen. He truly loves the Lord, and that has made him a good listener too. He listens for Gods leading, and he listens to people too. He hears the things that make them happy and hears the things that are bothering them. Then he helps out where he can. Being a good listener is a rare trait these days. So many people can only focus on the tings they want to say, and they don’t notice that they are making it impossible for others to speak at all. But Xander is a true listener, and he makes sure that he understands what he hears too, so their are no misunderstandings.
Then, in his spare time, Xander loves sports, and anything that his dad is doing. He took hunter safety last year in preparation and anticipation of going hunting with his dad this year…and he can hardly wait. Having a hunting partner has been his dad’s dream too, and this year, both their dreams will come true. Xander is becoming a fine young man, and will always make his parents and family proud. He is also a great friend, and all of his friends enjoy spending time with him. What a great kid Xander is, and now he is moving up to the next level of greatness. Today, Xander is 12 years old. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Yesterday, was one of the harder days of going through our parents’ things. Some of the most valuable possessions they had went to new homes. I don’t suppose everyone would find these items valuable, but to us they are priceless. The two old trunks that had belonged to Dad…his personal trunk and his military trunk, Mom’s wedding outfit and Dad’s wedding suit, Dad’s Army Air Forces dress uniform, his daily wear uniform, and his military coats, as well as his medals, and the Bible Mom carried at her wedding, all found new owners, and for some of the things, new homes. It felt really sad somehow, that these things wouldn’t be together anymore, but yet we also felt very blessed to receive the things we did, because they would now be treasured by a new generation of people. Our children and grandchildren will also get to see them, and hear the stories about the lives of their grandparents. The blessings are definitely there, but it still feels sad to separate the things forever. They have been in the same house for 56 years.
The process of separating our parents’ things moves so fast sometimes that we don’t even think about taking the time to take pictures of these most precious items…until later. The good news is that they are not being sold, so we can will have other chances to get together, and the smaller items that should be grouped together could be brought together again. We also all have the ability to take pictures of those previous items and send them to each other. Nevertheless, the feeling that the order of things just isn’t right anymore, continue to persist. I know we all feel it, but I think maybe for my sister, Cheryl Masterson, it s just a little bit more pronounced. The home she has lived in for so much of her life, just doesn’t look quite the same as it always has. Of course, the things in the house are the least of the changes the house has seen in the last seven and a half years. The biggest and most painful change is that the people who always graced that house, our parents are gone now. The things in the house are secondary to that loss, by a great distance, but nevertheless, they still feel like a loss.
I guess, the main reason that it feels somewhat right to divide up our parents’ things is that it is the only way that we can keep them close to each of us…their things that is. We each, always have Mom and Dad close to us in our hearts, but having their things around us…brings them just a little bit closer somehow. That is really the reason why people want their parents’ things…to make them feel closer to us. Each and every time we look at their things, their memory instantly appears, and that is, after all, the purpose of mementoes. For us, the sadness appears when we realize that the wedding dress and the wedding suit will live in different homes, the uniform and the medals won’t be together anymore. And eventually their home will take on a new appearance. It will be Cheryl’s home, and it will look like her home, and not Mom and Dad’s anymore. It is a sad reality that we all must face.