blessing

imageimage 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 imageimagefor 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!!

AnnaMy 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.Anna & Rob

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.
Anna & Siara
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!!

19250_102234259806044_4460089_nSometimes 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 Garrett & Kaylatime 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!!

Cheryl getting ready to kiss CarynBeing 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 Sisterson 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 Dad, Caryn, & CherylLiz 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!!

Washington's Thanksgiving ProclamationIt’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 Thanksgiving Dinnersuppose 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.

imageimageThree 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 imageIverson familytimes 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!!

Dad 1978Today marks the first time in my life that I don’t have a dad to celebrate Father’s Day with. After my dad passed away in 2007, I still had my father-in-law that we celebrated Father’s Day with. Nevertheless, it was very lonely, because I missed my dad. And yet, I was blessed in that I still had my father-in-law. Now, those days are over, and I feel very sad again. And when I think of how my sisters-in-law and brother-in law and my husband must be feeling, my heart aches for them, because this is their dad and they have never had to deal with those feelings before…the emptiness that only comes from the loss of a parent. I feel sad for my sisters too, because we know that the death of your parent is not something you ever get over. You simply have to go on with life…because time marches on.

Still, today is Father’s Day, and in our hearts we will all celebrate the men who were our dads. The fact that they live in Heaven now, in no way diminishes the blessing they were to us in their lifetimes. We were so very blessed to have them in our lives for those years that we had them. We were very blessed that they each lived to be over 83 years old…long lives each one. We were very blessed that each of them had sound minds right to the end. They gave us their wisdom through the last conversations we had with them. So many of the elderly have had their minds and memories Dad Schulenbergstolen from them by dementia, so this was a blessing beyond measure for us, and one I wish everyone could have.

My dad and my father-in-law were both hard working men. Their families came first in all things. They would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it, because they both walked in love. We were so blessed to have witnessed the kindness they showed to those around them. It sometimes amazes me just how very much alike they were in so many ways. How I came to be so blessed in that way…overwhelms me. I was blessed beyond measure by the two dads God placed in my life, and my heart acutely feels the pain of their passing to this day. I know that it will feel that way until I see them both again in Heaven…a day I look forward to with much anticipation. Happy Father’s Day in Heaven to my two dads. I love and miss you both very much.

Mom SchulenbergToday is my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday. If you ask her how old she is, she will likely tell you that she is 65. Alzheimer’s Disease has taken away her memory of the more recent years, but she is still here with us, and that is a blessing. She was recently in the hospital, and the doctors did not expect her to survive that stay. Nevertheless, she fooled them, because they don’t know what a fighter she is. They said that she would not be able to swallow again, and that drinking water would be impossible. Now, she is eating and drinking and getting stronger every day.

When a person gets into their 80’s, you learn to cherish each birthday, holiday, anniversary, and basically every day, because you don’t know how long you will have them with you. And when they are sick, you pray that they will, make it to the next holiday, or until someone in the family can come from another state to see them. Each moment that they are sick finds you praying for just a little more time with them. You begin to understand just how precious life is…how precious each moment is.

This birthday finds us thankful that my mother-in-law will reach another year of age. The age of 82, is one that we would not have expected her to reach, just a few short weeks ago. Now, she will get to celebrate one more birthday with the great grandson, her first great grandchild, Chris, who was born on her birthday…a very special birthday present. She gets to spend one more birthday with my father-in-law, the love of her life, who himself is recuperating from pneumonia. She will get to spend one more birthday with her family, who all love her very much.

At the age of 82, we all know that this could be my mother-in-law’s last birthday. She has lived a good, long life, and she is getting tired. Nevertheless, we will rejoice in the victory that she has achieved. We will celebrate her strength to fight her way back from the brink. We will laugh and sing and smile with her in celebration of one more birthday, and just a little more time. Happy birthday Mom!! We love you!!

Little RonWhen you are one of two brothers, in a family of six children, your life is spent with a whole lot of female influence, and with most sisters, that means being bossed around a lot. Now if you happen to be the youngest boy and the youngest child, you usually get a double dose from each sister. Such was the case for my brother-in-law, Ron. My in-laws essentially had to families, even though all the children have the same parents. Marlyce was the oldest, with Debbie following 3 years later. Bob is 17 months younger than Debbie. Then it would be 7 years before Jennifer came along. Brenda would follow 2 years later, and Ron was born 5 years after Brenda. So the older kids were like one family and the younger kids were like another, even though Ron is 5 years younger than Brenda. That put the two brothers 14 years apart.

Now, you would expect that so many years between them would have made it impossible to have a very close relationship, but you would be wrong. I think that by the time Ron came along, Bob had pretty much given up on the idea of having a brother, so when Ron was born, I think Bob decided that the brothers needed to stick together, since it was them against all the women in the family. Bob moved out of the house when he was 19, and Ron was almost 6. It was about this time that I met Bob.

Our dating days were different than some, I suppose, because often times we took Ron along. He was a happy little 6 year old boy, and who wouldn’t be, when his big brother and his brother’s girlfriend allowed him to go along to places like Dairy Queen. He was a Ron nowgood little boy, and the three of us always had a great time. Little kids can be so funny, and we enjoyed his joyful presence. I had never had a brother, so to me,  Ron has always been that brother I never had. And like most siblings, I could almost say that I have known him since birth…although not quite.

I know there may be other brothers who got to do the things Ron did because their big brother liked having them around, but I don’t know of any. Most big brothers just want their kid brother to leave them alone. For Bob and Ron, their relationship then, and now is a blessing to both of them, and therefore very cool. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday little…ok, big now…brother!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

From the time they were just little kids, my grandchildren have loved to visit me at work. Grandma’s work was a cool place to go, as well as a place they could go when they didn’t feel well, and their mom’s had to be at work. They would bring a blanket and pillow, and camp out under my desk, often sleeping the day away with no one but Jim, my boss, and me knowing that they were there. It was a place of refuge for them, and their mom’s and I knew they were looked after. Not many children got to go stay with their grandma at work, and we all knew what a great blessing it was, and what a great boss Jim is.

As they got older, the kids often came into my office after school, so they didn’t have to be home alone. They sat and read a book or did their homework until the day was over and then went home with their parents. I suppose it was a strange office in the eyes of many people who knew what went on there, but to me and to my grandkids, it was a blessed office…and a blessing to those in it. Yes, it was unconventional, but ours is an unconventional office. We are real people…not a corporation. Jim understands that sometimes life collides with the office…sometimes in bigger ways than others. Sometimes that means being away from the office, other times it means having an extra person in the office. Jim always allowed me to make our office a safe place for my grandchildren, and they in turn think of him as an uncle.

Sometimes, the turn of events can be strange to say the least. When you open the doors in a time of need, even such a small need as a sick child, you also open the door to what the future can bring. As Jim got to know my children and grandchildren, and allowed me to help them with their needs, he has also found several employees among them. Two of them, Amy and Shai work in our office now. Caalab is our part time maintenance man, mowing the grass at the edge of the parking lot and emptying trash, as well as helping with other odd jobs around the office. Corrie designed our website, and her husband Kevin took the pictures of the staff for the site. It’s funny that what began as a one man office, has now become a family affair, and the only non-family member is the boss…but, then again, we consider him family too…maybe by adoption of sorts. Not on paper, but in our hearts.