Most of us think of Saint Patrick’s day as a day to celebrate being Irish, and to celebrate even if you aren’t Irish. But this day is actually dedicated to a man who was considered legendary by the Irish people. Born in Great Britain, probably in Scotland, to a well-to-do Christian family of Roman citizenship, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, he escaped and found passage on a ship to Britain, where he was eventually reunited with his family.
Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from a book he wrote during his last years, called the Confessio. According to the Confessio, while in Britain, Patrick had another dream, in which an individual named Victoricus gave him a letter. The letter was entitled “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading him to return to their country and walk among them once more. After studying for the priesthood, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country. After 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling, and working tirelessly, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church.
Since Patrick’s passing, countless legends have grown up around him. The Irish made him the patron saint of Ireland. They say he baptized hundreds of people on a single day, and that he used a three-leaf clover…the famous shamrock…to describe the Holy Trinity. He is often portrayed in art as trampling on snakes, a picture that came with the belief that he drove those reptiles out of Ireland. For thousands of years, the Irish have observed the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday, attending church in the morning and celebrating with food and drink in the afternoon. It was a day to be thankful for the man who bought them to the Lord. As holidays often do, the ways of celebrating changed over the years. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but the United States, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762. I’m sure they were doing their best to keep with the tradition of their country. As the years went on, the parades became a show of unity and strength for persecuted Irish-American immigrants, and then a popular celebration of Irish-American heritage.
The rest of the world observed it differently…probably due to the Irish tourism’s efforts to promote their country. The party went global in 1995, when the Irish government began a large-scale campaign to market Saint Patrick’s Day as a way of driving tourism and showcasing Ireland’s many charms to the rest of the world. Today, March 17 is a day of international celebration, as millions of people around the globe put on their best green clothing to drink beer, watch parades and toast the luck of the Irish, but it was never really about luck, you know…it was about blessing. Happy Saint Patrick’s day…and cheers!!
Sometimes, it’s hard for me to realize that Father’s Day is again upon us. Since both my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg are in Heaven now, the commercialized part of Father’s Day has little effect on me. I think about both of them daily, and miss them very much, but other than flowers for their graves, there is little in the way of things that I can give them. However, that does not mean that I don’t love, honor, and respect them today and every day. These days, I think that the best way for me to show honor to the two very special dads that God blessed me with is to try to live my life in a way that would make them proud. I suppose that a lot of people would say, “You are over 60 years old, you should do whatever you want to.” But, I don’t think that there ever comes a day when we should not try to make our parents proud. After all, they gave us life, and nurtured us all of the rest of their lives…yes, even when we were adults.
With the passing of each of my dads, came the promise to take care of the moms. And to that task, we set ourselves. It wasn’t always easy, but my dads loved their wives, and had taken care of them all of their married lives. One of the biggest worries of an elderly married person, is the thought that when they are gone, no one will take care of their spouse, and that is not a needless worry sometimes. Nevertheless, my dads knew that when they went home, my mom, Collene Spencer and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg would be taken care of, and they were not wrong on that. My Dad passed away December 12, 2007, and we cared for my mom for seven years and two months, until her passing on February 22, 2015. My father-in-law passed away on May 5, 2013, and my mother-in-law is still alive today, and we continue to show her the love and respect she deserves, and he would want for her. These things were not a burden to be borne, but rather a privilege that was given to us…the privilege of still having our mom. No, there may not be much I can give my dad or my father-in-law, but I can do my best to always be the kind of person they would have wanted me to be.
Of course, Father’s Day for me always takes in my own sweet husband, Bob Schulenberg, and my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, all of whom are amazing dads, and all of whom have enriched our family by being a part of it. Every day, they add richness to our lives with their hard work, sense of humor, and their deep love for us…their family. To me, that is the most important thing a man can do. These men have been in our family for many years now, Bob for 42 years, Kevin for 24 years, and Travis for 22 years…unheard of lengths of time in marriages these days. They have proven time and time again that they are worthy of our love and respect. God gave each of us such wonderful blessings in these men. I love each of them very much, as I do my two dads in Heaven, and I wish each of them and all dads everywhere, a very happy Father’s Day!!
When you are born, the second child in a family, you have the unique blessing of coming home to an older sibling who has just become a big sister or big brother for the first time. That was the exact blessing I got when I was born. I came home to a big sister who was excited about being the big sister. My sister, Cheryl Masterson was an amazing big sister. I have spent my life always knowing that she was there for me, and that is a very comforting feeling. I don’t know if I recognized that feeling as a baby or not, but I certainly have over the years of my life.
Cheryl and I were best friends. We did everything together. She showed me how to do so many things, as the years went by, and since I never had the same stylish flair that she did, I have to say she was pretty patient with my awkwardness too. When I needed protection…real or imagined…Cheryl was there too. She was always so brave, while I might very likely hide under the blankets. Maybe that comes with being the oldest, and knowing from a very young age that she was the keeper of the younger kids. Being the oldest is a job that never really passes from a child. It isn’t just about being older in age, but knowing that the younger kids will always look up to you. It changes a person. Cheryl is a different person than I am, in part because she was the oldest, and I never had to pick up those reigns. I wasn’t the oldest child.
These days, I don’t suppose that I need as much monitoring as I used to. Nevertheless, since our parents’ passing, Cheryl always likes to know that we have made it safely from any travel destinations we are on. That is a part of what our parents always did, and something we have all tried to pick up and do now, but I believe it was Cheryl that first picked up that job and carried it on. It is such a keeper of the younger kids thing to do. The oldest child always feels a duty to take care of the younger kids…no matter how old they get. I still enjoy spending time with my sister Cheryl, and as she has been all my life, she is a great blessing to me today. She is my friend and my mentor. She always takes the high road, and does the things that God would want her to do, and that makes her a great mentor. God could not have given me a better big sister. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
During this journey to find my ancestors and my living family, there have been several times that I have felt that I had made a rare find. Of course, how could it be rare if there were several times, you might be thinking. I thought the same thing, and yet, some of the people I have come across have become so special to me that they could only be classified as a rare find. People like my father-in-law’s half brother, Butch Schulenberg, and our cousins Paul and Betty Noyes, come to mind immediately. But then, I also think of Tracey Inglimo, Denny Fredrick, Tim and Shawn Fredrick, Shirley Cameron, Pam and Mike Wendling, Bill and Maureen Spencer, and the many Schumacher cousins in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I think of Nick and Laura Weber, and Joe Weber. As I think of these people, new rare finds and renewed rare finds, I begin to realize that as I have discovered these special people, some I have never met in person, and some that I have known all my life, but lost track of, I begin to realize that maybe rare finds in the family line aren’t really as rare as I thought they were after all.
I have been thinking about what it is that makes a person a rare find, and the thing that immediately comes to mind is that these people truly care about me…about what I think and who I am. I find that these people are kindred spirits…something I had not really given much thought to until I got into the “Anne of Green Gables” movies, but after watching those movies, I realize just how important kindred spirits really are. Kindred spirits share the same values, goals, and desires, even if they are is slightly different ways. I think it is the values though that mean the most. Maybe that is a big part of what makes these people a rare find. So much has changed in our world these days, and while we all have maybe a slightly different view of what things are wrong and how to fix them, I still find that these people are value driven people…patriots, who love this country and what it stands for.
The longer I think about it, the more I realize that while finding people who compliment who I am is not such a rare find, it is still a rare find that there are so many people who have become so very special to me. It warms my heart to think of these people, and it warms my heart with every conversation I have with them. It is my hope to someday meet those precious people who I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I know we will really hit it off, because we are family and kindred spirits. It’s a great combination. While my “rare finds” have not really been so rare after all, I am so blessed by each and every one of then, and that makes them absolutely priceless. I am very blessed to know them all.
My nephew, Dave Balcerzak, who is married to my niece, Chantel has been staying pretty busy these days. Recently the family moved from the home Dave and Chantel had lived in since their marriage, into a new and very nice home. Since that move, they have been very busy getting settled. That said, I’m sure that Chantel has had Dave working pretty hard to get everything set up. Now I don’t know how much of the decorating Dave has helped with, but then, Chantel wouldn’t really need much help with that, because she is a master of design. But, Dave is a big strong guy, so all the heavy lifting is likely done by him, with the help of some of the other men in their family.
The majority of the basement of their home has been designated as Dave’s Man Cave. I know that a Man Cave is the latest thing, and that lots of guys have them, but…well maybe I live in isolation, because I don’t know anyone who really has one…until now. I’m sure that is going to make Dave the guy to be envied. The closest thing most of our husbands have to a Man Cave, is the garage. For that reason, Dave can feel very special, but then I think we all knew he was special before that.
When Dave and Chantel got married, they each had two children, and as many people know, raising a step child is a bit tricky. Nevertheless, Dave stepped into that role and loved Chantel’s children, Jake and Siara Harman as much as he did his own children, Kiefer and Katy. Dave was such a good dad, that he earned the name Dad, which was bestowed on him by Chantel’s children. Jake and Siara both say the name with as much love as kids would their own dad. You just don’t get that love and respect from step children, unless you are a very special person. Dave has proven himself to be that kind of man, and that has proven to be the greatest blessing Chantel and her children could have ever been given.
Dave’s talents don’t stop there though. With his computer degree, we gained a go to person for all of our computer issues. His heart of gold, has prompted him to help family, but even more to help those who can’t afford a computer, by giving them one he had refurbished…at his own cost. Dave has just always had the heart of a giver. He wants everyone to be as blessed as he has been, and if he can facilitate that, then its a great day for him. That is a man who loves helping people.
As I think about his Man Cave, and really how excited he is about it, I feel very excited for him, because sometimes things just couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, or in a better way than they do. This house just sort of fell into their laps at the perfect time, and now, they are thoroughly enjoying it and all it has to offer. I’m so happy for them. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand niece Audrianna Masterson is a girl with a lot on her mind. She may not talk much, except around those who know her well. Those people, of course, know about the goofy side of Audrianna. She likes to tease and joke with her siblings and her cousins. She likes to be funny in general.
Lately, however, I have begun to notice a change in Audrianna, lovingly known to all of us as Anna. Even though she is only just turning eight today, she is starting to become a more girly girl. She always had that tendency, but with a large dose of tomboy mixed in. Lately though, she seems to be getting more, I don’t know, grown up maybe. In many ways, that reminds me of how my granddaughter, Shai Royce was at that age. They have the ability to tease, but they like to be more quiet and reserved too.
Audrianna, like me, is a thinker. She contemplates the world around her. Some things she is trying to figure out, and other things she knows, but likes to mill over in her head. In fact, Audrianna reminds me so much of myself that it’s uncanny. Being a thinker makes you quiet sometimes, and I suppose it can be misunderstood, but Audrianna knows what I’m talking about. We can be in a room full of people, but we hardly notice it, because we are in our own little thought world. In some ways, it is a difficult place to be, because people misunderstand us sometimes, but in other ways, the thought world in our minds can be an amazing place. We get to spend time in our imaginations, creating things the way we want them to be. I can see that trait in Audrianna. She sometimes is so deep in thought, that you can easily startle her when you talk to her…if she hears you talking to her at all, that is. A deep thinker, might not notice that anyone else is in the room at all.
Audrianna is growing into such an amazing girl. I really look forward to seeing who she will become as she gets older. She is such a thoughtful child. And while she likes to tease, I think there is a kindness in her that far exceeds the normal for her age, or any other. I love it when she comes into a room, and immediately comes up to me and gives me a hug. She just makes everyone around her feel the love she has for them, and when she gives you a hug, you know that you are among those people that Audrianna really cares about. It is a blessing that she alone can give, and the receiver always knows that they have been singled out as a special person to Audrianna. Today is Audrianna’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Sometimes in life, you find that something is just meant to be. This is a story of just that…something that was meant to be. A while back, my niece Lacey Stevens introduced her brother, Garrett Stevens to a friend of hers, Kayla Smiley. That was the first step in a journey that for Garrett and Kayla would lead to happily ever after. They became engaged in a romantic setting in the Big Horn Mountains, with the involvement of her family, in which Garrett popped the question on the top of a hill while the fmily was taking pictures. Kayla had no idea. Good job Garrett.
For the rest of the family, this relationship has been a bit unusual, in that Kayla lived right next door to our mom’s house. I suppose that many people would feel like that could be a bit awkward, but not Kayla and Garrett. In fact, it was there that Kayla’s true self was shown to all of us. Kayla is a very caring person. She gives of herself easily, and that was exactly what we needed at that time in our lives. During Mom’s last couple of years, there were a times when an ambulance had to be called, because she was having some occasional bronchial issues. That is such a stressful thing for the children, especially when one child, in this case, my sister, Cheryl Masterson had to be there by herself at the time the ambulance needed to be called. Kayla, the instant she heard the ambulance, came right over to see what she could do to help, and if for no other reason, just to be there and be supportive to me sister, my mom, and to me as well. If you have never been in the position of needing to call an ambulance for your parent, you simply can’t know how devastating that feels. You find yourself forced to watch the proceedings, and there is nothing you can do to help. All too often, the emergency workers are so focused on their patient…as it should be, but they have no time to see you standing there quietly falling apart. Kayla…and Garrett too, while they were as worried as we were, came to support us as we went through this horrible ordeal. That is a kindness that can never be forgotten, much less repaid.
We knew that Garrett had found a gem of a girl, and so when he called to say they were engaged, it was with much joy that we congratulated them. They are both such sweet, loving people, and I know that their life together will be blessed in so many ways. God will repay their kindness with joy and love for years to come. I am so excited for them. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Kayla we just don’t know what we would do without you in our lives. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Being the second child in a family is a special place to be. I know this because that is exactly what I am. The first child in a family comes home as the only one. There are no playmates waiting there. They must make their own way in every step of those early years. But, as the second child in a family, I didn’t have to make my own way, because I found my sister there. My older sister, Cheryl made my homecoming and the years that followed so special. Cheryl, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like had I not found you there.
As little girls, Cheryl and I had great times. She was such a great big sister, and since there were three years in which she and I were the only children, we had lots of time to become close. I love watching the old movies of us playing, because of just how comical two little girls can be. My sisters and I are in the process of transferring the old movies onto DVDs, so we will be able to watch them on our televisions. I know we will all enjoy them immensely.
Over the years, Cheryl continued to show me the way. Her style and abilities were standards I looked up to. During my awkward years, I was able to look to her as role model. I could never quite figure out how she could always manage to be so together, when I was such a mess, but she was always willing to help me to be more comfortable in my own skin. I really can’t tell her just what a blessing it is to have her as my sister and my friend. It is just another reason that I have felt so blessed to have found her there when I came home.
In the past few years, our friendship has grown stronger and stronger. I find myself very much enjoying spending Thursday evenings with Cheryl. It is our traditional evening together, that began as an evening with Cheryl and our mom, Collene Spencer, and now has become just Cheryl and me, and sometimes her daughter Liz Masterson, who has added a wonderful aspect to our evenings. Those Thursday evenings have become such a special time for me.
As I look back on our lives, I find myself more and more thankful that I found Cheryl there when I came home as the second child, as well as being thankful for each of my sisters as they made their grand entrances. Having four sisters is such a blessing, because girls usually think a lot alike on matters, but having such an amazing oldest sister has been a wonderful blessing for us all. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! I’m so glad that when I came home, I found you there. Have a great day!! We love you!!
It’s tradition…looking at your life on Thanksgiving Day, to give thanks for the many blessings that you have received over the year, and the years past. We take stock of everything. The sad things are set aside for review on another day, and we focus on our family, friends, homes, and jobs. And we look to the future and what it promises to bring for us. It isn’t all about things, and in fact, things are often the furthest things from our minds. We are much more focused on our loved ones. Of course, this isn’t the only day we give thanks for our loved ones, nor should it be, but sometimes we find ourselves so preoccupied with our daily lives, that we don’t really notice the blessings that are all around us every day.
This tradition was felt to be so important, that on October 3, 1783, President George Washington issued a proclamation making the 26th day of November as a national day of prayer and thanksgiving…a day to give thanks to Almighty God with grateful hearts for all He has done for us. While the date has been changed to the 4th Thursday of November now, the tradition has remained intact. Somehow though, many people have forgotten the prayer and thanksgiving part of the day, and remember only the food part of the day. There is nothing wrong with feasting…in fact God set aside feast days for His people too, but we must remember that the feast part of the day is supposed to coincide with the prayer and thanksgiving part of the day.
It is my belief that most people are thankful for what they have, but there is a difference between being thankful for things, and giving thanks for things. I believe that difference is acknowledging the one who gave all these things to you…God. I suppose that people who don’t believe in God would see no reason to be thankful to Him, but for me, with my deep faith in God, blessing couldn’t come from anywhere else. God loves me and He is the one who blesses me. Therefore, it is to Him…Almighty God that I give thanks on this Thanksgiving Day. I, like so many other people, neglect the need to thank God in the way that I really should, and maybe having a national day of Thanksgiving, will give us all the opportunity to step back from our busy lives and take a good look at all we have been blessed with. And maybe we can all take a few minutes out of this day to acknowledge God’s grace and loving kindness toward us…and give Him thanks for all he does for us. Happy Thanksgiving to all…and thanks be to God for His loving kindness and all the blessing He has given me and my family.
Three years ago today, our family was blessed, with a little miracle. For some time during my niece, Cassie Iverson’s pregnancy, they weren’t sure that little Lucas was going to make it. Nevertheless, he arrived on July 3, 2011, a healthy baby boy, who’s only health problem was Down’s Syndrome. I suppose that many people would consider that to be a significant issue, but Lucas’ parents, Chris and Cassie find their son to be a great source of joy and laughter. His smile lights up their world every minute that he is awake.
Now that Lucas is more mobile, his antics have changed in scope, but not in how much joy he brings to his family. He loves to play in a pile of pillows, crawling all over them and diving into them. Then he laughs and laughs. The videos are so much fun to watch, because you can’t help but laugh too. This happy little boy is so delightful, that he is irresistible. There is no regret in his family’s hearts, because he makes their life so rich with the joy of watching his uninhibited, happy moments. I suppose that most 3 year olds would be doing things differently than Lucas by now, but that doesn’t matter, because each child is unique and goes at their own pace.
Even though Lucas is a happy, smiley boy, he still has the ability to let his parents know when he is not happy about something…but then what child doesn’t. The main thing is that those times are not the main part of their child’s life, because that would be tough. You can handle those crabby moments, when they don’t turn into hours. As for Lucas, the majority of his time is spent happily entertaining his mom and dad with all of his silly little antics. That is probably one of the biggest blessings of Lucas. Today is Lucas’ 3rd birthday. We are so happy to have him in our family. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!