happiness

As my daughter, Amy Royce’s birthday approached, I found myself looking back on her childhood. While Amy was my bigger baby, 7 pounds as opposed to her older sister, Corrie Petersen, who weighed 6 pounds 2½ ounces, it turned out that she had put all her effort into her pre-birth weight, and she slowed down after that…only reaching 4 feet 10 inches by adulthood. She might be little…a midget if you ask her husband, Travis, but Amy is feisty, She always has been. I think it was self defense, from her toddler years when the other kids thought she was a baby doll, and wanted to pick her up an carry her around. Of course they only tried once. The blood curdling screams that came out of my girl were enough to cure those kids of any desire to carry Amy ever again. The funny thing is that, while she had a temper, Amy was also a very happy toddler…most of the time. Just don’t assume that you could pick her up, hahaha!! As long as she felt safe, Amy was a bubbly little girl, who rarely walked, but rather somersaulted or cartwheeled around the room. Walking was just too boring, I guess.

Amy and Corrie spent lots of time together as little girls, because we lived in the country. What I saw through that time was two little girls who were best friends. While there were little fights, they would also protect each other no matter what. Their closeness is harder these days, because they live so far apart, but they love each other very much. Many people commented to me when they were little, that they got along so well. They just couldn’t believe that sibling love my girls had. I am so proud of their relationship, then and now.

As I look at the life Amy has built now, I am very proud of her. Amy is a peace-loving person, and her lifestyle notes that very well. Amy loves the rainforest area of Washington state, and the beaches that go along with it. The area she lives in just feels peaceful, especially when she and Travis head out to Birch Bay to watch the sunset. Even now, while they are required to stick closer to home, their back yard has become a sanctuary for them. Amy has roses, calla lilies, and a variety of other gorgeous flowers, enhancing the beauty of her back yard as well as the fragrant smells. Travis loves yard work too, especially mowing the lawn, and so their grass is beautiful. The built a patio and set up a table and chairs with an umbrella, and a fire pit, to enhance the relaxing effect of their yard. It makes me very happy to know that she and her family have such a beautiful place to relax and reconnect with friends and family. Bob and I love to go for visits, because it give us a chance to enjoy the area that has drawn Amy’s family to its beauty.

Amy is on vacation this week, and so is home relaxing. She is an account manager for Rice Insurance in Bellingham, Washington. She, like so many people, worked from home through much of the pandemic, but now she is back at the office. At home or at the office, Amy is a hard working insurance agent, and she stayed very busy. Today is Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Jenny Spethman is a sweet lady with a heart of gold. She is always kind to others and always wears a smile. This mom of four (plus one baby in Heaven) just never loses her hopeful joyous attitude. She greets each day…very early, often before the sunrise, so she can commune with God before the rush of activity that goes along with four active children and a busy husband. She relishes the beauty that God has created for those whose will rise up early. She looks for the beautiful things in God’s nature, in her family, and in her own heart, and she always finds them.

Jenny has such a flair for style, and she can see an outfit where the rest of us see a dud. She mixes a little of this style with a little of that style, and it comes out stunning…always stunning. Maybe it’s the girl wearing the outfit that makes the outfit, in fact, I believe that is the true fact of the matter. I wish I had her flair for putting things together, because no one ever has the same outfit as Jenny does, and yet she is always in style. Her little girl, Aleesia has also benefitted from her mom’s great style, because she always looks so cute in her outfits, and she is always in style too.

Jenny is a true blue friend. No matter what her friends might need, they can count on Jenny to be there…through the good, bad, and the ugly. And because she is a true friend, Jenny has ben blessed with some really good friends too. Jenny’s personality draws people to her and everyone wants to be Jenny’s friend. That is a gift. I think people can see kindness in a person, and that makes that person someone they want to be around. I think that is really what drew her husband, Steve Spethman to her in the first place. They were friends before anything else, and they remain best friends to this day. Of course, for anyone who has been married a long time, you know that friendship is the cornerstone of a good marriage…and without it, the marriage is already on shaky ground.

Jenny has been so blessed with three wonderful sons, who are growing up to be good young men. She was also blessed with two daughters, one of which is in Heaven waiting for the day she can see her mom and dad again, and the other is a source of laughter and joy to them every day on this Earth. For Jenny, everyday is another day in a wonderful life. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Many people think of Kindergarten as almost a play date. They think of a classroom filled with toys, books, and craft supplies, as well as a playground for recess. Many people think of it as a daycare for working parents, and of course, a place for early childhood development. All these are good things, but this was not the original plan for the creator of Kindergarten, German born Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. He wanted it to be a place that was both ‘a garden for children’, where children meet with environment and also ‘a garden of children’, where they play together and express themselves in a smaller garden world by means of play with their age group. He believed that “children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”

I’m sure this sounds odd to most of us, but when you look at his background, I think you will understand why he felt the way he did. Fröbel had an unhappy childhood with a severe step-mother. He was abandoned and treated in a strict fashion as a child. He got to know what happiness was, when he was living with his uncle’s family while studying at high school. He had a huge desire for education, strong Christian faith and love of nature. He studied mineralogy in Jena, Germany and architecture at the Berlin’s Humboldt University. Inborn skills of an educator helped Fröbel to realize the failure of teaching system because of its incompleteness and the failure to include the outside world in the educational process. The first kindergarten was established by Fröbel in Bad Blankenburg in 1837. He renamed his Play and Activity Institute to a ‘kindergarten’ two years later in 1840. That Bad Blankenburg Infant school used play, games, songs, stories, and crafts to encourage children’s imagination and broaden their physical and motor skills. “Kommt, lasst uns unsern Kindern leben” Come, let us live with our children’ turned into the catchphrase of the early childhood education.

Friedrich Fröbel also used studying and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating children’s interest in the natural world. In reality, we can trace the similarities to the Montessori school system and the Pestalozzian consideration of importance to grow up in harmony with nature. Fröbel paid much attention to preparing for further school education by training the children through the complimentary self expression, creativeness, collective involvement, and motor activity. He considered training of all the vivid faculties: artistic, imaginative, linguistic, arithmetical, musical, aesthetic, scientific, physical, social, moral, cultural, and spiritual, complete growth and harmonious development to be even more important than any kind of knowledge. Fröbel’s kindergarten system flourished globally. Most kindergartens were organized for children of all social classes, ethnic groups and religious believes, Jewish as well as Christian. Fröbel’s vision of kindergarten seems to be so familiar and proper, however it was a fresh and revolutionary look on early childhood education in his time.

1977014_785573824840729_4512717937708797914_n13537721_1172142732850501_1713751929367062279_nSeldom does it seem like a person is truly the light of someone else’s life, but that is how my grand niece, Melanie Harman seemed to be for my grand nephew, Jake Harman, the first time I met her. I have to think Jake, while not old by any stretch of the imagination, thought that he would never meet that special someone who would truly complete him. It’s hard to imagine how a person can feel when they honestly think they will be alone in this life. We knew that Jake felt that way…not because he said it, but because it showed in how he was. That always made me sad, because I knew that Jake had something special to give to that person who could see something special in him, and it was hard to see that there didn’t seem to be someone out there who could see that.

Then Melanie came alone, and suddenly, Jake was complete. Melanie is such a sweet, loving girl, and when he is with her, Jake just blossoms. I suppose that sounds odd, in light of the fact that he is a man, but men can blossom too. They suddenly become the person that God had in mind for them to be. Melanie was truly a gift to Jake, from God, to bless his life in every way. Melanie brought with her, a daughter, Alice, who simply adores Jake, and now together, they have another daughter, Izabella, who is Jake’s mini-me. Life is suddenly good for both Jake and Melanie, and it will only get better and better every day, week, month, and year they spend together. 12278715_1030129097051866_7408744507240113633_n13325557_1150755371655904_8772301167133340237_nTheir love for each other is simply beautiful.

Melanie is loved by everyone in the family, and everyone who knows her. It’s easy to see that her special kind of personality has been such a sweet blessing for Jake, and that endears her to all of us. Jake has never been happier, and Melanie is the reason. She is an excellent mom to the girls, and they are so blessed to have her for their mom. Melanie couldn’t fit in this family any better, if she tried. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Just Goofing OffSometimes, espcially when a couple has been together for a long time, it gets to a place where you can just see the love in their eyes…not to mention, the sheer joy of spending time wth the love of your life. That was how it was with my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. Everytime he looked at her, you could see the love in his eyes. Grandpa only had eyes for Grandma. Everything she did was a delight to him. If she decided to get a little goofy and dance around the living room, Grandpa thought is was the coolest thing she had ever done…but then, he felt that way about everything she did. That is the I only have eyes for you kind of love.

Through the years, we saw that loving look on Grandpa’s face. Grandpa was sixteen years older than Grandma, not an uncommon thing for the times, and I think he was so amazed that he had found such a beautiful girl, and that she wanted to marry him. I think he just couldn’t believe how blessed he was. Of course, Grandma was pretty smitten with him too. Grandma was a short girl…standing five feet tall…in her tall years, and Grandpa stood over six feet. He was her tall, dark and handsome man, and she was very proud of him. You see, she only had eyes for Grandpa too. Most of the time, that is the way it goes. The feelings are usually mutual.

Grandpa was the bread winner of the family, and Grandma was the keeper of the home and the children. Grandma never learned how to drive. She just didn’t see the need for it, and I suppose Grandpa thought that was ok, but I’ll bet that if she had wanted to learn to drive, he would have taught her how. I think she always Everlasting Lovefelt like she had all she needed right there at home, and anywhere she needed to go, he could take her. She would have had to pack up all the kids to go anywhere anyway, so maybe it was just easier to stay at the house.

Whatever the reason, my grandmother, who was happy as a clam, had to display that happiness sometimes, and when the urge to kick up her heels struck her, she didn’t hold back. To Grandpa’s delight, she would do something outrageous like strike a favorite pose or dance a jig. Then Grandpa, who was always mesmerized with his beautiful bride, would grin from ear to ear. It didn’t matter what Grandma was doing, because no matter what it was, he would always only have eyes for grandma.

Our Wedding_editedCaryn and Bob share a laughWhen a young couple gets married, their hopes and dreams, and those of their families, is that they will live the storybook life of happily ever after. All too often, these days anyway, that ends up not being the case. Nevertheless, my dear husband, Bob Schulenberg and I have managed to beat the odds, and today we stand here together, rejoicing as we celebrate forty years of love. Looking back, I have sometimes wondered how we did it. There are probably hundreds of people who would give you advise on how to make your marriage last, but I have to say that there is no set way, no clear reason, no perfect formula to keeping a marriage together, because each marriage is as unique as it’s parts…the couple themselves. What works for one may not work for another. Marriages that seem doomed because they do everything different than the formulas out there, make it, while those that seem to be perfect crumble under the pressures of everyday life.

I have talked to many people over the years who told me that they were shocked that we were still together, because when we got married, they simply didn’t expect it to last. Nevertheless, we have never considered the thought of not being together. Bob is my other half, and I am his. Through thick and thin, that fact has never changed. We are complete in each other. I suppose that maybe that could be considered marital advise, and maybe it is…I don’t know, but I do know that I just never felt like we were anything else but, two halves of a whole person. Fights don’t matter, stress doesn’t matter, and troubles don’t matter. It’s love that matters.

I can’t think of a better man to walk the roads I have walked, than Bob. He is there to help me with the things I need to do, and support me in my hopes and dreams. They may be different than his, but we would be boring if they weren’t. We both have different abilities and different talents, but when put together, we compliment each other very well. He is my helper, and I am his. We depend on each other, and we never let the other down. I don’t know what I would have done without him…especially these last ten years, while taking care of our parents, and sister-in-law, for a short time. He has been my right hand man, even if he is left handed.
20100623_31_editedBob and Caryn - the early years
No marriage has a magic formula for perfection. Each is unique, and each will only last if both parties are determined to make it last. Bob and I were blessed. We could not have made it if God hadn’t been there…leading and guiding us every step of the way. Praise God for His guidance. Today, Bob and I celebrate forty years of wedded bliss. Bob, I love you more with each passing year. You truly are the love of my life. Happy 40th Anniversary Bob!! Here’s to forty more years of happiness. I love you…forever and always!!

Dustine & Greg HushmanWhen death silently steals the one you love…your best friend and the love of your life…it is the most life altering moment that anyone can ever experience. You had thought you would grow old together, and now you find that is not to be. Two days ago, the life of my dear cousin, Greg Hushman was altered by the loss of his precious wife, Dustine. Her passing was unexpected, and that made it that much more shocking to all of us…especially Greg. Dustine and Greg met in Casper, Wyoming after both of them had been divorced. It was a second chance for them, and it would become their happily ever after.

Their blended family would share many wonderful times. They would see the weddings of their children, and the birth of grandbabies. Their love grew with every passing day, week, and year. Their marriage was blessed in so many ways. At times, it seemed too good to be true. When I asked Greg’s daughter, Stephanie Willard for a little bit of information on Dustine, it was a bit hard for her. They live on different sides of the country, and so don’t get to see each other very often, except on Facebook. Nevertheless, Stephanie said something that has remained in my heart, although she probably doesn’t even know what she said. It was one of the nicest things a step-daughter could say, I think, and the most mature. She said, “Dustine made my dad happy, and that made me happy.” What a tribute!! In this life, filled with its ups and downs, happiness and sadness, love and loss, what better thing to be remembered for than the simple truth that you made your spouse and family happy. To some, that may seem like a less than stellar goal, but not to anyone who has truly found such happiness.

When my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom, Collene Spencer, and I went to Washington in 2013 to visit our cousins there, and attend the funeral of my Uncle Jim Wolfe, we had the opportunity to get together for dinner with Greg, and his brother, George. We had hoped their wives could have come, but it didn’t work out that way. It had been a very long time since we saw either of the girls, especially Dustine. As we talked, Greg told us that he had bought Dustine a new car, and you could just see how pleased he was with that. His eyes sparkled with delight, at being able to do this for her. You could see that he was reliving the moment over and over in his memory. Yes, I agree with Stephanie, Dustine made Greg happy, and Greg made Dustine happy too.

It makes me feel so sad to know that Dustine has left us now, but like Greg, I am glad that the constant pain she was in since an accident at UPS many years ago, is over now. She will always be in our hearts, as grief eventually gives way to memories of happier times. We love you Dustine. Rest in Jesus now, until we see you again in Heaven.

Tiny Mom 2My mom always wanted to hear nothing but happiness in her home. Really, what parent doesn’t? The biggest problem was that she had five daughters who were all very capable of being drama queens, and we didn’t mind a good argument or even a big fight either. That situation made for a house that could, on occasion, be…a little less than happy. I’m sure we pretty much drove her crazy at times. Mom tried a lot of things to restore her preferred mood, like singing “You Are My Sunshine” or doing other goofy things.

Of course, Mom’s cheerfulness wasn’t just during times when we were fighting, and she could get grouchy if she needed too, but then who can’t? The funny thing about some of the things Mom used to do is how totally random they were. Take the Cha-Cha for instance. Most people would never imagine that my mom would do the Cha-Cha…and do it often, but she did. It was all a part of her love for life style. Sometimes, that happiness would just burst out of her, and she had to do something with it. It was like a nervous energy of sorts. You never knew when to expect it. It was totally random, but you had a pretty good idea that this would not be the last time your would see it.

Of course, she did other things with that happy energy, and as kids, and even sometimes as adults, we were a bit embarrassed about some of them. The parade is a prime example. Mom just can’t help but let out a big “Woo Hoo” when the floats go by. She hates for anyone not to be cheered on for their efforts. She stands out in the crowd too, because she always wears her Woo Hoocowboy hat. I used to think that was how everyone knew just who it was doing all the “woo hooing”, but then I realized that lots of people had cowboy hats on…Mom was just the one with the loud voice that happened to be “woo hooing”…and by the way, everyone else was “woo hooing” too, so I seriously doubt that anyone even noticed my mom’s “woo hooing”…except maybe her kids. I used to think, “Oh my gosh!! Do you have to do that?” But these days, it doesn’t bother me. I guess that as we get older, we don’t worry so much about what other people think, and we are finally able to just enjoy the moment. That’s what my mom was always able to do…enjoy the moment. Maybe more of us should be like that.

imageAs I read through the posts of my various friends and family members on Facebook, I see mostly happy people who deal with occasional down days or irritated thoughts, but among those people, one person stands out as being always positive, always happy, and always uplifting. That person is my niece, Kellie Hadlock. You might say that anyone can post positive things, but still have negative thoughts and such, but I have known Kellie all of her life, and I have never met anyone as genuinely happy as she is. I believe she is truly filled with the joy of The Lord.

Kellie’s passion is music ministry, and she is amazing at it. She has a beautiful voice and her songs come from her heart. I think that to sing such beautiful songs about the love of our God, you have to have such a deep relationship with Him, that His joy simply flows out of you. That’s what happens with Kellie when she sings.

But, Kellie’s joy doesn’t stop there. Every aspect of her life is accompanied with a huge smile. Most people don’t smile for even a quarter of their lives, but I think Kellie probably smiles for 90% of hers…at least. There doesn’t seem to be anything that upsets her happy nature. Kellie puts the joy of The Lord first on her to do list every day, and her posts on Facebook show that. She never posts image Continue reading

Today, my niece, Toni will marry her best friend, Dave. I am so happy for both of them. They will be married on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii, in the warm sun, with temperatures around the 80’s. The day will be as beautiful as the couple standing on that beach dedicating their lives to one another for the rest of their lives.

The road to Hawaii has been a road Toni and Dave have traveled over the past several years. I have watched their relationship grow and blossom during that time. They just seemed to click from the start. I have never seen Toni look happier. My beautiful niece literally glowed with happiness. I didn’t know Dave very well then, but I could see how good he was to Toni…how good he was for her, and I liked him immediately. Dave always looked so happy around Toni, and I could tell that she was changing his life forever…they were changing each others lives forever.

So, today is the day…the moment that they will say “I do” and become husband and wife. The excitement travels through the air from Hawaii to Wyoming, because while we are not there on that beach with them physically, our hearts are sharing in the joyous event that is taking place on that beautiful beach so far away. Our minds will wonder if the event has taken place yet, because while we know the day, we do not know the time of the wedding. We look forward to seeing the pictures they will take, and their glowing faces, and then they will go forward as a married couple to spend time seeing the sights and then home to begin their married life together. We pray God’s greatest blessings over their marriage and their little family, and wish for them all the best. Congratulations to you Mr. and Mrs. Chase on this your wedding day. Have a lovely honeymoon. We all love you very much!!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Check these out!