heart

It’s that time of year again, and Thanksgiving Day has arrived. The day will begin with much cooking, table setting, and other preparation. All too often we get so caught up in the preparation for the main meal of the day, and prepare for the gathering together of family and friends, that we forget the real purpose of the day…giving thanks for all we have been given.

Over the past year, some health issues have presented themselves, not only in our family, with my husband, Bob; but with my son-in-law, Kevin’s mother, Becky Skelton too. Both of them had heart issues, and now both of them are well again. You can’t emphasize too much, the importance of good health. Never is that importance made more clear, than when things happen that threaten that good health. The concerns we have all felt, each of us watching as another of our loved ones has worried over their mom or dad, husband or wife, brother or sister, were almost overwhelming. Now, that all the tests, the surgery, the procedure, and the recovery are behind us, we feel only thankfulness.

Our daughter, Corrie has been working hard in nursing school, and doing very well. She has been so blessed with great grades, and a wonderful nursing school experience. I have watched her blossom throughout this process, and it warms my heart to see such an amazing transformation in her. She and Kevin have also been blessed with a granddaughter, who is their son, Chris and fiancée, Karen’s daughter. Their son Josh is very busy with two jobs, while waiting for the next college class that he needs to become an EMT. Eventually he will be going into firefighting.

Bob and I have been thankful to have been able to travel to visit our daughter Amy Royce and her family, and spend two weeks with them, including Independence Day, which was a new thing for us, since we have spent Independence Day in the Black Hills for many years. Spending quality time with Amy; Travis; Shai and her boyfriend, Jordan; and Caalab, and his girlfriend, Chloe, was a special time. Any amount of time spent with family is something to be thankful for. As our children, grandchildren, and now great granddaughter grow and become more busy, time is something that is often in short supply, and definitely a blessing.

Everyone has different reasons to be thankful all year long, but at this time of year, we tend to reflect on the many blessings we have been given all year…some are extra special, and others bring deep emotion, because we know what we might have lost. This Thanksgiving Day, I realize just how much I have to be thankful for, and for all of it, I thank God, the Father of Lights, from whom all good gifts come. I hope everyone has as much to be thankful for as I have this year. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

My nephew, Riley Birky is a man who has a big heart. He truly cares about the people around him, and while he is not always able to do anything to fix the problems his friends might have, that certainly doesn’t keep him from having a deep desire to help if he can. Sometimes, I think that carrying around the…almost burden of having such a big heart can be hard on the guy who has said big heart. When they are unable to change the outcome they tend to carry the weight of it, as if it were their failure. It isn’t, of course, but it is how they tend to feel. Nevertheless, Riley has a good group of buddies, and they have good times together.

Riley has grown into a good man, who lives on his own now, and works to support himself. He is a responsible worker, who is well liked. He is working for a fencing company, as an installer. Riley has never been afraid of hard work, and has done a variety of heavy duty jobs in his lifetime. As an adult, he has proven himself to be capable and reliable. I think he will do well in whatever job he does or career he chooses.

Riley loves his mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg very much. She has been supportive of him all his life, and he has nothing but respect for her. Oh, they have their disagreements, but when it comes right down to it, his mom is his hero, as well as his biggest cheerleader. He knows that he can always count on her to be there for him…even if that means encouraging him do the right things. In reality, that is what most kids want to do anyway.

Riley has a dog that he loves very much. Nala is an American Bully Pitbull Terrier. Nala came to Riley as a puppy, but she is growing like a weed. She has a beautiful, soft brown coat that is very shiny. She loves Riley very much, and the feeling is mutual. Riley has always had a heart for dogs, and Nala is Riley’s baby girl. Their companionship makes both of them very happy. Today is Riley’s birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As a Christian, I can tell you that I believe in miracles. Nevertheless, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the awesomeness of God. Seriously, can any of us really wrap our mind around that? I think that the mind boggling, realization of the always loving God we serve is, never more prominent than when he reaches down, in our worst moment, and lifts us up, dries our eyes, and gives us instant peace.

That moment came for me on Sunday afternoon, October 14, 2018, in the Walmart parking lot on the east side of Casper, Wyoming at 4:45pm. Some things you never forget, although I might be a few minutes off on the exact time. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I had just finished buying groceries, and had loaded them in the car. Bob took the cart back to the cart station, and I opened the car and started it. Then, I looked at my phone, because Bob is a very social man, and almost always finds someone to talk to, no matter where we are.

I then heard a man, I now know to be Sean Pesicka-Taggart saying, “Sir…Sir?” I looked back and saw him kneeling near the back of my car, but there was a pickup right behind me, and it appeared that they were talking, so I did not get out of my car. The pickup, that I now know was driven by a Wyoming Medical Center, Progressive Care Unit, cardiac care nurse…Ginger Sims, pulled around the corner very quickly, and I thought she must be mad. Before I had time to contemplate that thought, a man knocked on my window and asked, “Do you know this guy?” It occurred to me that “this guy” must be Bob, so I jumped out of my car and went to the back of the car. The scene that met me there was…horrifying!! There lay Bob, blood flowing from his head where he had hit the pavement. While that would have been enough to bring fear to my heart, one look at his face told an even worse story. His eyes were blank and his skin had started turning blue. It looked as if he was dead, and that was my first thought…”I’m going to lose him right here!!” Then, I jolted my mind back to fight mode, and got down next to him and began talking to him.

At this point, nurse Ginger was behind him with her stethoscope…who has their stethoscope when they are off duty?? Thankfully Ginger does. Because she didn’t see him fall, she thought he had been hit by a car. She asked him to take a deep breath and when he didn’t respond, she asked if he could hear her, while checking for a pulse. Upon finding no pulse, she immediately got him on his back and began CPR. Working alone for a while, a WMC transport worker, Laura Lance spelled her doing CPR. Then, Wyoming Medical Center, surgical nurse…Val Boycheva, who was a friend of Ginger’s came on the scene and they worked together. When they heard me say Bob’s name, they asked if I knew him. When I said that he was my husband, they asked me to do rescue breathing. I did it…with instruction. I don’t think I could have done it without them telling me what to do…I was far too shook up to think straight.

As the CPR was going on, Sean was on the phone getting an ambulance, and Ginger had already told her son to push the OnStar button to give the ambulance driver the exact location. When the ambulance arrived, they took over, and the police officer, also at the scene asked who I was. When I said I was his wife, he had me come over and give him some information. While doing that, the ambulance crew hooked Bob up to the Lucas Compression Devise, and when I turned around, it was engaged. If you have never seen the Lucas Compression Devise in action, all I can say is that it is a shock to watch…especially when it is on your loved one. The devise gives perfectly orchestrated compressions, so the ambulance crew can focus on other tasks. To the untrained spectator, it looks like those compressions are going from chest to pavement!! You can imagine breaking ribs and smashed organs, but in reality, while the ribs are cracked, the heart is simply given the right amount of compression to help sustain life. Bob was quickly prepared for the ride in the ambulance to the hospital where he received the best care available.

It was at this moment that Casper Fire Department firefighter, Jerod Levin, who is a friend of Bob’s from his time as Fire Department Mechanic for the City of Casper, saw me. He knew me as well, and immediately came to me and gave me the big hug that I desperately needed at that exact moment. For all firefighters…never underestimate the value of your hugs at an emergency medical scene. When the ambulance leaves with the love one, that person is left with serious emotions and doubts. Your hugs and encouraging words mean more than you will ever know. No matter what the outcome, those hugs and words of encouragement are vital. Jerod asked me if I wanted to ride in the ambulance, and I said that I did. He got me in, even holding my purse while I stepped in, then helped me get buckled, asked if he could call anyone for me, and if I wanted him to bring my car to the hospital. Talk about going above and beyond!! While en route to the hospital, Bob’s heart had to be shocked once, and when we arrived he was in full arrest. I didn’t know it at the time, but that almost always means bad news.

Bob was treated so quickly that it was almost shocking. He was taken for a CT scan of his head wound, and while there, the Cath Lab became available. He was taken directly up there, where he was met by two techs that he knew, because he has worked on their cars. Jon Cooke and Sam Cann made him feel comfortable and safe during the procedure. They determined where the blockage was, at which time they realized that he was going to survive the Widowmaker Heart Attack. A stent was placed and from the time he fell to the time the treatment was over was two hours. Two hours!! That is an amazingly short amount of time.

Unbeknownst to me, there was at least one person who saw what was going on and called her dad to have him pray with her over the man who fell in the Walmart parking lot. When I called my boss, Jim Stengel, he felt led to call his prayer partners, Donna and “Page” LePage to pray with them. The girl, Chelsea Kessler, who was with her husband Zachary, who called her dad was Page’s daughter, and they were praying as Donna and Jim prayed. It is my belief that nothing happens by chance in this world. God is always involved, and if people listen, they can find themselves in just the right place to be part of a miracle. The two nurses almost never shop at Walmart, and yet both were there on that day at that time. The young man who saw my husband fall immediately thought that if it were his grandfather, he would want someone to help him, so he acted. Each of these people acted in a way that put them becoming God’s hands on this earth. Bob had angels watching over him, and a family who pray for him all the time. When he had a need, God was there to meet the need, and His people, who hear His voice, did what He told them to do, and in the end they were a part of a miracle. In just under two days, Bob was released from the hospital, and his life goes on. Then I found out at church that another church member, Lori Desanti was also praying. Every prayer, and every player in this was necessary, and I want to thank each and every one of those people who helped us. We can never repay your kindness. And I give all praise to our Awesome God!!

This year has been a little difficult for my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and his wife, Kelli. Their long-time companion, Dakota, a Black Labrador Retriever dog passed away a few months ago, and they were feeling very sad. Anytime you lose a pet, there is period of time that must pass before you feel ready to have another pet. It’s different for everyone. Dakota went everywhere with Barry and Kelli. He was their hiking and camping companion….always happy to be right there beside them. Dakota was always waiting at the door to greet them when they got home from work. Dakota was like their child, and he had been with them all of their married life. It’s hard to imagine life without your pet, because the reality is that your pet is a part of the family…a big part of your family.

After that kind of loss, there is always a grieving period, before you can possibly move on and find another dog to adopt into the family. Barry and Kelli took their time. healing at their own pace. They did the normal things they like to do…camping, hiking, target practice, and just spending quiet nights at home. Soon though, it became clear to them, that something was missing. It was time to fill the void left behind with Dakota’s passing. That is a big step for any pet owner. It’s hard to open your heart to another pet, after losing one that was such a big part of your life for so many years. So, after some soul searching, Barry and Kelli decided to take to plunge, and adopt again.

They went to see what was available, and came up with a male Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog mix. For a while, their new “baby” didn’t have a name. They wanted to see what name might fit him. Before long, the puppy became a Scout. He always seemed to be at the alert, as if scouting his next move. Barry and Scout became inseparable. Scout loves to hang out with Barry, hoping to receive the scratching and petting that all dogs crave. Scout even loves riding around on the 4-wheeler with Barry. They say that a dog is man’s best friend, and Scout is definitely Barry’s best friend…with the exception of Kelli, of course. I know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Barry, Kelli, and Scout, and I think Dakota would be happy too. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s uncle, Eddie Hein has always been a soft-spoken man, who had a big impact on the lives of those around him. I remember the first time I met Eddie. I liked him and his wife, Pearl very much. They were kind and welcoming, and to this day, we love to go to visit them in Forsyth, Montana, although we don’t get to go nearly as often as we used to. Before his retirement, Eddie worked long, hard hours at the Peabody coal mine in Colstrip, Montana. It was shift work, and it was hard on the body, but Eddie made a good living and supported his family well. The long hours always seemed twice as long as they were…especially at the end of a long week of them.

Coal mining was Eddie’s occupation, but it was not his life…not his heart. His heart belonged to his family. Eddie remodeled their home largely by himself, and did a beautiful job. Eddie worked hard, alongside Pearl, of course, weeding their garden, and growing their vegetables, and then canning the vegetables for use all year long. It was a project they did together, especially after Pearl went to work too. Eddie and Pearl were always there to help their friends and neighbors too. People only had to call, and they would do whatever was needed. I suppose that is just the way it is in a small town, but more likely it is just they way they are. Eddie and Pearl are very helpful people, just ask anyone.

Eddie has always loved tractors. He was always working on one or two, and there were always tractors in their back yard. He used them to help friends with their haying, or digging something for someone when needed. I’m sure he used them in their own garden too, because you can’t really have a successful garden if you don’t plow it and such. My husband, Bob remembers those tractors well, but then I guess he would. It’s kind of a guy thing, and being a mechanic, just like his Uncle Eddie, working on tractors would have a draw for him too. I’m sure those tractors gave them lots to talk about, and I know that they both enjoyed those visits very much. Today is Eddie’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman has had a very busy summer. She is part of an active family, which includes her three older brothers, who keep Aleesia very busy when she is at home. Of course, being the only girl in a house with three brothers, can have its up side, and its down side. It’s pretty hard to get brothers to play girly games, so sometimes, Aleesia has to be a bit of a tom boy, a role she has taken seriously…or maybe it just comes naturally because of her brothers. She can keep up with the boys on many of the things they do, but they still treat her like a princess sometimes too.

Aleesia is the girl her parents always wanted…not that they didn’t want those boys too. Jenny, Aleesia’s mom is very much a girly girl, and she wanted her own mini me to share her fashion sense, and all the other girly girl things with. They have a great time being girly together, shopping together, and playing the girly games that Aleesia wants to play, and her brothers are much too macho for. The boys are very considerate of their sister, but you simply have to draw the line somewhere. They do take her along on their adventures too, so what more can a baby sister ask for?

Aleesia loves her grandma. Every evening, after a hard day of playing with her friends and brothers, Aleesia is picked up by her grandma, my sister, Cheryl Masterson. She goes to her grandma’s house for a few hours. They love to spend time together, because Aleesia is seriously Grandma’s Girl. Don’t get me wrong, because she very much loves her parents and brothers, but she also loves her grandma very much. In fact, if Aleesia had her way, her grandma would just move in with her family, because then everything would be absolutely perfect in her world. My sister and her youngest grandchild have a somewhat unique relationship. Of course, Cheryl loves all her grandchildren, but some grandchildren are the type who just wiggle their way into your heart and take up a residency there. Some grandchildren are after your heart, and they make a sincere effort to be with you. It isn’t that the two of you do anything that is so out of the ordinary, but rather that you have opened your heart to their efforts to come in. I don’t know if that exactly explains how that is, but any grandparent who has been blessed with such a grandchild, knows exactly what I mean. And truly, anyone who has been blessed to have Aleesia love them a lot, is blessed indeed. I know, because I have been blessed to be one of those, and I love it. Today is Aleesia’s 5th birthday. For Aleesia, the next big adventure in her world will be Kindergarten…super fun!! Happy 5th birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kayla Stevens has been spending her time studying for her degree in social work. I haven’t had much experience in that field, but I can tell you that Kayla has a heart for it. Her dream job would be in the school system, and after listening to her talk about a program that is dear to her, you can have no doubt that she will be an excellent social worker for children. When someone has a real heart for something, it simply bubbles out of them as they talk about it. Their excitement about it can not be contained. That is what I saw in Kayla the other day at my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s house.

Kayla and her husband, my nephew, Garrett live next door to Cheryl, and all of Cheryl’s little grandchildren love to go visit Kayla and Garrett. They would be over there all afternoon if they could. I knew that Garrett loved kids…he has all his life, but you don’t know if his wife would tolerate them because they are his cousins, or if she genuinely loves them too. After listening to Kayla, I can say that there is no doubt that she loved kids too. I knew they wanted kids, so of course, she loves kids, but it is often different when they aren’t your kids. Many people have no real patience for other people’s kids. That is not the case with Kayla, however. She genuinely loves kids, and she genuinely wants to help them. For that reason, and from listening to her, I know that any school district would be extremely blessed to have Kayla working with their kids…she’s awesome!!

This past weekend marked the completion of Kayla’s college education, as she received her Masters Degree in Social Work…graduating with honors, a wonderful thing to show for all her hard work and perseverance. We are all so excited for her and she begins her new journey. I know that success will follow her wherever she goes, and that any employer would be very blessed to have her on their team. She is kind and caring, and very good at what she does. We are so proud of all you have accomplished. You are going to have a great future in social work, and your clients couldn’t be more blessed. Your heart for kids and for those who need help is amazing. Congratulations Kayla!! We love you!!

JD13876265_292781794411876_617624038936402311_nMy nephew, JD Parmely is a single guy who mostly just loves cars, working on cars, and driving cars. For the most part it’s all about the cars for JD. But there is one more…well, really two things that are even more important to JD than his cars. I never thought I would see the day that happened. I think anyone who knows the Parmely family can guess what is more important to JD than cars. Yes…his nieces Reagan and Hattie. JD has always loved kids, and had a great time playing with his younger cousins, but no cousin can hold his heart like his nieces do.

Any man who has kids knows how quickly those kids steal your heart, but girls have a tendency to wrap their daddies around their little finger pretty quickly. While JD doesn’t have kids of his own, he has found out how quickly two little girls can have a major effect on one uncle. A man spends his whole life learning to be a strong man. Nothing is supposed to have an effect on them…right? Wrong!! Enter two little girls, whose smiles can melt your heart in a second. Add to it the fact that these two little girls like some of the same things the uncle does, such as cars and motorcycles, and the fact that they don’t mind getting dirty on the trails they hike, and 13557692_272603193096403_6265197797856153303_n10387478_10203972189043974_3295763557144631040_nyou find yourself with every ingredient necessary to steal a heart. And that is exactly what those two little girls did.

JD still loves his cars, motorcycles, and mechanical work, and he loves working on the house he bought from his grandparents, but none of these things will ever take the place of those little nieces…and I think JD is totally ok with that. Being uncle to Reagan and Hattie is the highlight of his life. But then he always was a kid at heart. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Corrie with ChristopherKevin, & ChristopherToday, my grandson Chris Petersen heads back to Sheridan for his final semester of college. It has been a long two year road, and hard on all of us, but we are proud of what he has done. Nevertheless, while he has been here over a month, it seems like he just got here. Time flies by so quickly, and somehow along the way, this one or that one of your kids and grandkids seem to fly away. Some literally!! As each one goes, you are left to wonder what the draw of that place is, or sometimes, like with Chris, you know that it is not that place, but rather the dream. You know that they have to follow their dream, and you truly want them to be happy…even if that takes them far away from you.

The reality is that the future of our children is not ours to set. It is theirs. All their lives, you watch carefully, noting their talents and abilities, and wondering where their future lies. I think that for most parents, the hope is that their kids future wont take them too far away, because while we have been watching their little lives as they grew, our hearts just never planned for that moment when they would tell us that their future plans and our idea of their future plans are simply not the same. As they leave, you feel like your heart is being torn from your chest. You fell like the tears will never stop, and in reality, sometimes…when you least expect it…when you thought you were finally ok, those wretched tears come rushing back to you again.

As Chris leaves, I think about the fact that once again, half of my children and grandchildren don’t live nearby. It makes me feel lonely. For Chris, the homesickness will flood in, because he is once again alone there, without his family, with whom he is very close. I know he would rather stay here, but he can’t. And with job placement looming ahead, we know that the distance will grow. I want Chris to go where they place him, because it is a once in a lifetime experience. He won’t have to stay there permanently. I know that his ultimate dream lies in a different place, closer to home, if not right here in Casper. But, dreams can change. He may like the place where his job placement takes him. He may choose to stay there, or go somewhere else. And if he does, we will be ok here. We will miss him terribly, and we will notice that empty chair where he should be, but we will know that he is off following his dream…like other family members before him…and we will adjust.

Chris PetersenChris & Josh before VegasChange is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Our children, once grown, are not children anymore. They are adults with the right to make their own choices. We can’t live their lives for them. We are their past in a way, even though we will always be there for them, and they can always call our home their home. We are home base, but the world is out there. It is theirs to see and explore. So as each one leaves, all I can think is…and off you go. Remember where you came from, walk with God, don’t forget the way home, and while we miss you, we’ll be alright…right here, holding down the fort.

Allen L SpencerDad SchulenbergAll dads are special in their own ways, whether they are dad to boys, girls, or a mix of both, once they become dads they truly become a totally different person. A man who has never been a dad, can love children or not, but when the children are his own, they are just different…special, and well…perfect. Their own children are always amazing, and its simply because their are their own. It doesn’t really matter if they wanted boys or girls, or some of each, because when that little one arrives, their Daddy’s Heart kicks into high gear and they find themselves thinking that there never was a greater kid than the one they were given. And each new child is viewed the same.

I’ve seen the Daddy’s Heart in so many people, beginning with my own dad, Allen Spencer, then with my Bobhusband, Bob and his dad, Walt Schulenberg. Whatever their kids needed was priority. I don’t mean to say that we were all spoiled rotten, because we had rules and discipline, but when it came to making our lives wonderful, they were right there, making sure that we were so very blessed. It was not about lots of things, but rather the love they showed to us every day. Whenever things were wrong in our lives, there were our dads, with a hug and the words, “It will be alright.” And, of course, they were right. Everything was always alright, because our dads made sure of it, or maybe it was just their wisdom, in that they knew that the tragedies we faced today were most often not as bad as we thought they were, and tomorrow was another day…that would usually be much better, because things usually look very different the next day.

Then, I watched my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce step into that role with their children, I could see that another generation of children in my family were in the very best of hands. Their dads, just like my dad, my father-in-law, and my husband before them had the Daddy’s Heart. They would do their very best to Kevin PetersenTravis Abraham Royceteach the kids the right way to go, and to fix the boo boos of life as they came along. Kevin and Travis are dads, and like all good dads, their kids are their top priority. And since their kids are pretty much grown now, I know that they will someday be the grandpas of their family. It is a place of honor and wisdom, and a place of being a little bit different kind of dad than they were before, but still a great blessing nevertheless. Happy Father’s Day to the dads in my life, and all dads everywhere. And a special Happy Father’s Day to my dad and my father-in-law in Heaven. We love and miss you very much, every day.

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