God

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My grand niece, Christina Masterson is a dental hygienist by trade, who has been promoted to assistant office manager. As most of us know, 2020 was a tough year on many businesses, and dentists were among the hardest hit. I can’t tell you how many times my own cleanings have had to be rescheduled throughout the year. Of course, I am one person who had to be rescheduled, but for people in the field, like Christina, it was a complete shutdown for 6 to 8 weeks in March, due to Covid-19. Thankfully, Christina’s skills allowed her to pick up a few hours at an emergency dental clinic during those weeks. When the lockdown was ended, Christina wasn’t sure where things would stand for her. She was working at another office because her old office had closed, but she wasn’t really happy there. When her old office opened up again, they asked her to come back, and she was delighted. She had been praying for another job to open up for her, and her old office was her answer to prayer.

The pandemic left many people wondering if they would have a job to come back to. Christina’s strong faith in God helped her to get through these very tough times. Tough times don’t necessarily build faith, but if you have faith, you can get through the tough times. I would hate to face the tough times without God, and I’m sure Christina feels the same way. I think there were a lot of people who found themselves in a make or break time with their faith. Churches were closed, and depression set in with a lot of people. I am so thankful that Christina had already begun to cement her relationship with God before the pandemic hit. It gave her a head-start on her faith in a time when she needed it most. Now that things are improving, she finds herself in a really good place.

Now that things are opening up again, Christina has decided to focus on herself a little bit. The Covid lockdowns put a lot of people in an over-eating-under-exercising mode for a time. Many people found that as things opened up, their clothes didn’t fit like they used too. Now I don’t know if Christina put on any weight, but like many of us, she needed to get back to working out. So, Christina set herself to becoming the new and improved Christina. She joined a gym, started working out on a regular basis, and she started eating healthier and juicing. Christina has always stayed in pretty good shape, but I’m sure she is feeling so much better these days. Things in her life are lining up again, and 2021 is going to be a great year. Today is Christina’s 25th birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been a woman with a sweet, loving spirit. Many times, the youngest child is the most spoiled, but while Allyn received the least amount of discipline, it was not because she was spoiled. Our mom, Collene Spencer told us once that the reason Allyn got less spankings was because her spirit was just so grieved by a simple tongue lashing, even a couple of disciplinary words…that mom didn’t have the heart to spank her much. If Mom told her something as simple as “that was naughty,” Allyn was heartbroken. She felt so awful…about so small a transgression. Oh, to have that kind of a gentle spirit…that kind of a heart for God and doing what is right.

That spirit has never left Allyn. She is such a giver. She wants to do anything she can to help the people around her…whether she knows them, whether they are family, or not. She gives of her time, as well as her abilities. There is a softness in Allyn’s spirit that I just love. That little girl, who had such a soft heart, who always wanted to do what was right, the one that my sisters and I always said was always good, hasn’t changed one bit. She still does whatever she can to make life easier for those around her. She is a helper, as I’m sure those she works with will attest. She doesn’t quit until the job is done. Allyn has worked in medical administration for years now, and while her company name has changed, she has been at the same place for a long time. Today, she works for Wyoming Medical Center. She is well liked there, and well respected by her co-workers and subordinates alike. Her position is in supervision in the billing department, and she enjoys it very much. She likes the people she works with, and they all work well together.

As much as Allyn loves her job, her first love, after God that is, will always be her family. She is wife to Chris, mom to Jessi Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Kellie Hadlock. She is a beloved mother-in-law to Jason Sawdon, Chelsea Hadlock, and Shannon Moore. She is also grandma to Ethan Hadlock, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, as well as Jonathan Sawdon and Hallie Moore who both live in Heaven. Allyn’s family is the most important thing on this earth to her. She loves each and every one with all her heart…and they love her. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Some birthdays are harder than others. Some people don’t want to turn 30, 40, or 50 and beyond, but if they think about it, those years are a blessing. The really hard birthdays…are the ones after a loss. Many of us have been there, but my grand niece, Siara Olsen has been through more in one year than anyone should have to endure in ten years. Of 2020, Siara says, “In 2020 I lost: My beautiful baby boy Alec Todd Olsen, my amazing and loving best kitty in the whole world Forrest, my husband and the beautiful family he brought with him, an energetic and loving puppy, and my home. This year could’ve broke me, and crushed my spirit but it didn’t. It caused me to gain so much faith in God, faith in myself, strength in all my other relationships and pride in myself for learning patience, trust, and most of all resilience. This year broke me down to nothing, but I have all the faith in the world this new year will grow me into the woman God created me to be. Cheers to 2021.” I can’t imagine all she went through. This was a year that could have broken Siara. She may be short in stature, but she is a strong in faith. I’m not saying that Siara didn’t feel the pain of loss, but she knew that she had to pick herself up, and go forward. Her son would expect no less of his precious mom. The year has been a long hard journey, and some days are much harder than others. Still, I am amazed at how this little girl can be such a strong woman.

Siara is a beautiful woman with a heart of gold. She puts a smile on the faces of all who know her. I suppose that is a big part of what makes it so hard to watch her go through this. Nevertheless, through it all, Siara proved that she is truly is an overcomer, and expects this coming year to be a very good one! After Siara’s divorce, she was able to move in with her parents, Chantel and Dave Balcerzak, where she received the loving care she really needed, but as I said Siara is an overcomer. Recently, she moved into her own home, and is starting over with a good attitude. She misses Alec very much, but she knows she has to go on. Her life didn’t go the way she expected, but Siara will always make the best of what she has. That is part of her strength!! That is the amazing part of her strength!! She is enjoying decorating her new home, and her new little kitten which she got from her aunt, Jenny Spethman. Siara doesn’t give up or get into a pity party, even though she has reasons to be sad. Siara overcomes and that’s is what makes her a strong woman. Siara is a person who always tries to keep herself on the sunny side…her grandparents, Allen and Collene Spencer would be so proud of her!! We all are!! I know it’s going to be a great year for her!! Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday Siara!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little great grand niece, Hallie Joy Moore came into this world on December 19, 2020 at 5:00am, in Laramie, Wyoming. Her family had excitedly anticipated her arrival, and she was already so loved, but she arrived two months early, and her time on Earth was not to be long. Hallie, who’s name means “Praise the Lord,” tried very hard to stay, but then she went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The doctors and nurses who tried so hard to help Hallie stay, will never forget this sweet little girl who stole their hearts immediately. In the end, she was just too early. Hallie went home at 5:37am, just 37 minutes after her birth.

Hallie Joy wasn’t here very long, but for those who knew her, in the womb during the months before her birth, in the moments after her arrival and passing, and in the hopes and dreams for her planned future, her impact was everlasting. This sweet little girl captured the hearts of all who had the honor of being there with her, in life and even after. Her spirit and strength will live on in all of her family members. We all feel like we knew her even though we didn’t get to “meet” her in person, because her spirit lives on in our hearts…and we will get to meet her when we go to Heaven.

Hallie is the second daughter of her parents, Lindsay and Shannon Moore. She has a sister named Mackenzie, with whom Hallie bears a strong resemblance. That in itself will be a blessing to her parents, because as Mackenzie grows, they will be able to see the shadow of her little sister Hallie Joy. Every time they say her name, Hallie, they will be saying, “Praise the Lord,” and they will also know that their little girl was a joy to all who knew her, and to all who know of her. She will always be a Joy to her parents hearts whenever they think of her. A child has a deeper impact than just the ones who got to meet them. Her extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so many more loved this little girl before we ever knew that she was a little girl. We knew Lindsay and Shannon were having a second baby and we were all excited about it. We couldn’t wait to meet this baby, and that has not changed. We are all looking forward to meeting Hallie, who is with the Lord, and yes, still praising Him right now. That is the beauty of Hallie’s current life. She has had the opportunity to meet her grandparents, cousin, and many others who have gone home before her. She has been held in the arms of our Lord Jesus, and she has seen the face of God. Her life is not sad. It is glorious, happy, and beautiful. She is perfect, not weak or sick, just perfect. That is the greatest physical part of Heaven. Of course, the truly greatest part is knowing God…knowing Jesus…knowing Holy Spirit, and being always happy. One day she will know her big sister, when the Moore girls are together in Heaven. They will have so much fun, laughing and playing. There are no tears in Heaven…just eternal joy!!

Yesterday, we received the news that our sweet Uncle Bill Spencer had passed away from Covid at the Middle River Health and Rehabilitation Center in South Range, Wisconsin. He was a little under one month from his 99th birthday. Uncle Bill had lived at the Middle River Center for about ten years now, and we have had the opportunity to visit him there twice. I wish it had been more, but we live a long way away from them, so it wasn’t to be. The center was a nice place, and the people there loved Uncle Bill. We could see that the people there had a heart for their residents, and that gave us peace of mind. Uncle Bill tested positive for Covid on December 14th, and was doing ok until the morning of December 25th. By that afternoon, he had gone home to Heaven.

Uncle Bill was the last of my dad’s generation in their parents’ line, and lived the longest of them all. He was the second child of my grandparents, Allen and Anna (Schumacher) Spencer, born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin on January 21, 1922, when his older sister, Laura (Spencer) Fredrick was 10 years old, born August 3, 1912. We don’t know why there was such a distance between the two older children, because the younger three were pretty close together. My dad, Allen Spencer followed on April 27, 1924, and Aunt Ruth (Spencer) Wolfe on November 9, 1925. As they grew, the brothers, William and Allen were good friends as well as siblings. The fact that both were boys gave them many interests in common.

I recall some of their stories told when Uncle Bill came out for a visit in 2006. One of my favorites was about Independence Day celebrations. Growing up on a farm in the Holyoke area of Minnesota, they boys worked to plow, and remove rocks and tree stumps from the fields. This made them experts with dynamite, a fact that we hadn’t heard before. That in itself is very interesting, but they were also kids, and…well mischievous to say the least. Their July 4th tradition was to set off a dynamite blast…at daybreak. When I asked if people got mad at them, they said that they were out in the country, so who cared. Indeed!! One time though, they decided to try something new. Their mom had gone into town, leaving the boys at home. Their curious minds kicked in. They decided to find out what would happen if they set off a stick of dynamite on the top of the gate post. Yikes!! Well, they found out what would happen. When the dynamite exploded, the gate post sunk several inches into the dirt. The gate would no longer close, of course, and he boys immediately set about fixing it before their mom came back from town. They had no desire to find out what she thought of their prank.

While it makes me so sad that my uncle is gone now, I can feel his excitement as he entered Heaven to find his parents and siblings waiting for him. And what a wonderful thought…he was home for Christmas this year. I would imagine the celebration was wonderful. The boys were back together after so many years. I can picture them…just like kids again, filled with excitement, but I can also imagine one other thing. I can hear God saying, “The boys are back together…hide the dynamite!!” God knows his children well, and it simply wouldn’t do for those mischievous Spencer brothers to set off a stick of dynamite, right there on the gate post of the Pearly Gates, and sink one side several inches into the ground!! Nevertheless, I can see their minds clicking, sharp as ever now, thinking…”Hey, lets give that a try!!” Dynamite or not, there is a party going on in Heaven today. Grandma and Grandpa Spencer, and their kids are all together in Heaven again, and that’s worth celebrating. Uncle Bill we all love you very much and we will miss you always. You are in our future now, and we can’t wait to see you again.

Most of the time, Christmas is a time filled with tradition. Many families celebrate it in exactly the same way every year. Of course, the most important thing about Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. When I think of where this world would be if Jesus had never come down from Heaven to save us from our own sins, I feel such thankfulness. We needed Him, and He came. No one really knows what day Jesus was born, but in reality, that part doesn’t really matter, but rather the fact that he was born.

This Christmas, for many people has been different than any other Christmas we have had before. Most us us weren’t alive in 1918 when the Spanish Flu Pandemic brought quarantine to many places in the world. I don’t know if things were as locked down as they are this year, but those who were ill, could not be with other people, and so their families were separated, as many are now. It makes for a Christmas that doesn’t feel like Christmas. Still, we have to remember the reason for the season, and not the things we have lost. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Without Jesus, we were doomed. With Him we have victory and everlasting life. What a wonderful reason to celebrate His birthday. He is the Savior of the World, and His way is so easy for us to follow.

Like it or not, this Christmas brings us to the beginning of the last week of a horrible year, and one the likes of which many of us hope never to go through again. January of 2020 found us facing the beginning of the pandemic, and by March we were in quarantine, and the economy was shut down. The year got steadily worse until many of us found ourselves weary, and ready to start a new year. For my family, that has not changed. We are really ready for 2021. Even today was a sad day, but I will tell of that story tomorrow. I believe the new year will be much better, and as bad as 2020 has been, I am very optimistic for the new year, not for any political or human reason, but because I believe that God is good to us and because he sent His son to die for us, He will not leave us without hope. Therefore I will have hope for 2021. Merry Christmas to all!!

Let’s face it…2020, doesn’t seem to have a lot in it to be thankful for. It has been a tough year in many ways. With Covid-19, quarantines, lock downs, job losses, business losses, election struggles, riots, protests, and homeschooling…by choice or not, things looked pretty grim. Many people have lost loved ones, or friends, or friends and family of friends. Still, we have survived…those of us left, and many of us have contracted Covid-19, and still we have survived. This has been awful, and we will always miss those we have lost, but we Americans are a strong breed. We built this nation on God’s ways, and while some would disagree, that is a fact. Our forefathers came to this country to escape religious persecution, and founded this country on the principle that we should all have freedom to worship as we see fit. They knew that people would disagree on religion, but each person should have the right to choose for themselves.

This year has tested us in so many ways, but we are Americans, and we don’t give up. We are patriots, and we love God and country. As we are faced with new challenges, we have a chance to prove once again that we are fighters. We might be down right now, but we aren’t out, and we don’t quit. America is still the land where dreams come true, and it’s because we never give up. This year has been harder than any in my lifetime…maybe harder than any in the lifetimes of most of us, but we have come through it together. That is something to be thankful for, even with all the worry, loss, and fighting. Thanksgiving is a time to think back on the past year, and on our lives, and to be thankful for all we have been given.

This year may have been a really hard one, but our loved ones who have gone on before us, would never want us to give up…or quit. They would want us to live on and be happy. They would want us to be thankful, and to live our lives in such a way as to make them proud. We could have given up this year, but that was never really an option…now, was it? Thanksgiving is our day to celebrate this land that was founded on our love for God. So whether you are in quarantine, in a city where gathering together is only allowed in small groups, or just far away from your family, remember to take a few minutes to thank God for all we have been given. We are among the most blessed people in the world, and we need to remember that. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! God bless you all and God bless America!!

As we head into Independence Day 2020, many of us have begun to realize that this year, it’s different. Everything is different. The year, Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me and so many others. For the first time in our nations history, almost everything was shut down. People were quarantined…leaving only the essential workers going to work, and the rest of us staying home, except for food, medicine, and doctor visits. Covid 19 had changed everything.

Spring Break for the schools brought the quarantine, and even if we had no children in school, we felt that change deeply. Everything just…stopped. Restaurants were closed, movies were out, bowling leagues ended early, as did all sports. Once the warmer weather hit, it felt like summer, but it was only May. This would prove to be the longest summer ever…I’m not complaining, mind you. Summer is my favorite time of year. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been, if the quarantine had happened in the Winter, when I wouldn’t have been able to get outside and walk on the trail near my home…especially since I am not into winter sports, and those places would have been closed anyway.

Finally after more than three months of quarantine, the states were allowed to begin reopening. Still, we did not know what the summer would look like. Sports were up in the air, contemplating a shortened season, or as in the case of some, cancelling the 2020 season altogether. Graduations, funerals, birthday gatherings, and holidays were uncertain. Finally, as campgrounds and hotels began to reopen, it looked like summer might be salvaged. Still, several fairs and some 4th of July fireworks thought about, or did cancel. My husband, Bob and I usually go to the Black Hills over the 4th of July, to do some hiking, so this was a concern to us. Finally, word came down that the fireworks display we loved would indeed be held, and that after a 9 year span without fireworks at Mount Rushmore, that display would also take place this year. We were so happy, and booked our motel right away.

As we prepare to watch the fireworks on Independence Day 2020, it comes to mind that Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning. For a time, we lost our independence, and now we have it back. The feeling reminds me of how the early settlers felt, when England finally gave up and we had won our independence from them. Yes, we still have a ways to go before we will have our country back to normal. During the lock-down, some bad things happened and some people are in an outraged state, but I believe that we will be able to get back to normal through the love of God being shown in our nation. There are those who want to change the root of our nation, but they will not succeed. We are and always will be “One Nation, Under God” and we will have victory over the anarchists. Today, we celebrate the birth of our great nation, the United States of America. It is with a whole new meaning…Freedom Again!! Happy Independence Day everyone, God bless you all, and God bless America!!

After a number of years of wondering what happened after the writing of my Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journals, or my reading of them…I have wondered about so many things. Bertha’s journal was so detailed and so interesting, but it left me feeling a little bit “at loose ends” about the lives of my aunt, and the Carl and Albertine Schumacher family, of which I am a part. I knew some things of course, like the fact that my Aunt Bertha had breast cancer, and that Aunt Mina had rheumatoid arthritis, as did her mom, my great grandma, Albertine Schumacher, and her siblings, my grandma, Anna Spencer and my Uncle Fred Schumacher. It left me wondering why it is that so often our lives come down to what illness we might have had? And then Aunt Bertha answers the question I had, when she said, “Only deep impressions are held in the conscious mind…ever present, while the sub-conscious may retain all experiences.” I suppose that our lives are marked by events, but surely there must be things that are more important that what disease a person had. Nevertheless, Aunt Bertha was “in my opinion” and that of my family, an excellent writer. She told the human side of history, and not just the historical events. Without the human side, history can be very boring, but you put in the hopes, dreams, feelings, illnesses, and everyday lives of the people involved in the history being discussed. That is when history comes to life.

My Aunt Bertha and her sister, my Aunt Elsa took care of their parents who were ill, and in doing so, they gave up the chance to have a family of their own. They “adopted” their sister, Mina’s children as a replacement for children of their own. They both assumed that marriage was also one of those things they would have to give up, but in their latter years, both were given back that part of their lives, when they met and married their husbands, Arthur (Bertha) Hallgren and Frank (Elsa) Lawrence. Unfortunately, neither marriage lasted long, with Elsa’s ending in Frank’s death after 6 years, and Bertha’s ending in Arthur’s death after 2½ years.

Aunt Bertha fretted some when Elsa got married, not because Elsa was getting married. Bertha was happy for her, but she and Elsa had lived together all their lives to that point…42 years in all. Bertha said that it felt like a divorce…dividing up the household, “you take this and I’ll take that.” Bertha had never lived alone before. I’m sure she felt lonely…even before Elsa left. Then, after Elsa returned home when her husband passed away, when Bertha was ill, she worried about how Elsa would do when she was gone. Bertha was really very protective of her little sister, who had never lived alone. In the end, Elsa would live 17 years beyond Bertha’s life. She was ok, but I know she missed Bertha terribly.

I knew that my great grandparents were Christians, and had raised their children as Christians, and that teaching came down through the generations. Nevertheless, I was very moved by the way my aunt expressed her faith and trust in God. She knew that her life would not have been nearly as blessed as it was, if it had been lived without God in her life. I don’t know why it seems new to me, but I guess it’s because people don’t often talk about their faith, here she was, telling about the deep relationship with God. It was very moving, and sweet. Bertha was a woman who had been single for all but 2½ years of her life. She learned to depend on God…to trust Him. She loved her Lord, and I love that.

Written by guest author, Cheryl Masterson

My sister, Caryn Schulenberg is a woman of many characteristics, interests, and capabilities. I will tell you a tiny little bit about her.

For one, she is the most determined and self-disciplined woman I know! When she makes her mind up to do something, she does it, and she does it well! She can stay on a diet like a world champion! She never lets her weight get very far out of hand, and when she goes over a ways, she goes on a diet, and there is nothing that will get her off that diet until she has reached her goal! She walks, hikes and stays in shape. She’s such a good example that her husband, Bob, has joined her in this determination and self-discipline over the years just to keep up with her!

She can write, and she is a good writer! She decided to start this blog many years ago, and she never fails to write something every single day of every single year! That’s determination, and self-discipline! She finds something that interests her, and she writes about it! She has many, many followers on her blog! Some of her stories are funny, some are sad, some are just good information to know, but all are interesting and keep her followers entertained and informed. Her writing also satisfies the need in her “to know.” She likes to know about so many things!

Caryn is unendingly compassionate, giving, caring, and very protective of her family, friends and loved ones! She will help anyone with anything they ask her for help with, and I do mean, anything. She will do her best, and give you all she has to give, even if she doesn’t know anything about what you have asked her to do! She will find out how to do it, and then, go do it! If she says she will do it, she will! She is a woman who can be counted on, and she never gripes, moans, or complains about anything that is asked of her, either. She just does it, or gives it. That’s it!

One of the times her compassion and understanding of, and for, her sisters and her Mother, and her protectiveness toward us, strongly came to her aid and helped her to take on a task the rest of us absolutely cringed from taking on because it was so devastating for our entire family. That happened when our Dad, Allen Spencer, was sick and in the hospital for 4 months! So sick they told us he would die! Any of you who know us very well, know about that time in our lives, because Caryn wrote about it quite a bit after it was over. But from my point of view, this is how Caryn handled that situation, and I, for one, will be forever grateful! We each have our strong points, but Caryn took on the most hated, and horrible task I can think of during that time, and she did it for all of us! She dealt with the doctors! My sisters, our Mother and I all had, and have, the same faith in God Caryn has. Meaning we all believe the same way, and we are all strong in that faith. But I know, for myself, the emotional battering and harsh blows dealt to us by those well-meaning physicians as they reported to us several times a day, was far more than I could stand to receive first-hand! Those reports were truly aggressive and like physical blows in the beginning, and for quite a while! When none of us could bear to face their battering and horrifying, day to day reports, Caryn faced them, and most often, alone! And after she listened to them, and discussed their reports with them, she would then come and talk with us, and she always softened each horrifying report she received from them as much as she could, into a report we could better handle, softened with her faith in God, and pulling from us, our faith in God. Her ability to “run interference” between them and us, gave us the time we needed to compose ourselves, and get our minds on the Word of God, which is the most important thing we can do in our family, in a crisis! Her protective nature in the matter of the doctors sheltered us, and helped us all to continue to hope and pray in faith for our Dad and for his recovery! And he did recover! And he lived two more years in relatively good health, for which we are all so grateful to God! And I’ll tell you, Caryn not only listened to those doctors often horrifying reports, she told them she understood what they were saying, BUT . . . and then she would proceed to tell them what we believed, and gradually she turned every single one of those doctors and nurses to our side. Until they started to say the same things she was saying to them, and gradually, things began to change, and Dad recovered. Every one of those doctors and nurses remember her well, respect her, and always speak with her when they see her even yet today, 15 years later!

Caryn is a wonderful sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother! She is always in your corner! She attends every event anyone invites her to if it’s at all possible. Birthdays, school performances, graduations, showers, weddings, births, funerals, parties, or whatever else is going on. She is there for her family and for her friends. She hates to disappoint anyone in any way! As I said before, she can be counted on even when no one else can.

These are only a few of the zillion things I can think of to say about my sister, Caryn, but there isn’t enough room to put it all down on paper! This, at the very least, gives you a little insight into the kind of person she is, in case you didn’t already know! She is a blessing in every way to all who know and love her! Today is Caryn’s birthday, and I wish her the most wonderful kind of day, and a coming year that is blessed and happy beyond measure! Happy birthday, Caryn! I love you! We all love you! Have a great day!

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