My grandniece, Manuela Ortiz (Renville) is a sweet girl, who is full of life and joy. She married my grandnephew, James Renville last summer, and they have been enjoying their new life together. They both love to travel, and they go as much as they can. I think their favorite places will most likely always include beaches. Manuela, or Manu, as she is lovingly called by all who know her well, immigrated to the United States from Medellín, Antioquia, Columbia, and so she is used to the warm equatorial climate, making the warm beaches feel a lot like home. Still, she has adapted well to the cold northern climate too. Manuela and James love to go skiing and play in the snow, something Manuela probably never saw, until he moved here. They are open to all kinds of climates and will find a way to have fun anywhere.
Manuela has a bubbly personality and makes life fun for anyone who knows her. She has been such a wonderful blessing to my niece Toni Chase and her husband, Dave. For most of his life, James has been their only child, and now they have been given a daughter (daughter-in-law, but they don’t think of her as just a daughter-in-law) to complete their family…until grandbabies can come along…someday, hehehe. I think that whenever James and Manuela decide to have children, they will make beautiful babies, and I can’t wait to see them. Manuela has been so good for James, because he has a more reserved personality, but she brings out the other side of him, the side he only shows to those he knows well. When they are ready to have children, they will be a beautiful mix of both of them.
Manuela loves to dance, and coming from Columbia, she knows all the cool dances of that area. Dances like the Salsa, and many others that I would not know the names of, come as naturally to Manuela as walking, because she comes from a culture where these things are a part of everyday life. In fact, it is really fun to watch her dance, because she is so good at it. James can dance, but like most of us in this family, it is not something we do every day, so Manuela has been teaching him these dances, and he is getting very good as well. I’m sure that comes as part natural ability and part having a great teacher. James is such a good man, and I know that whether he is a natural at dancing or not, Manuela’s family loves him just because he is who he is…as good a husband to Manuela and she is a wife to him. Speaking of teaching, this happens to be one of Manuela’s many talents! She is also teaching James Spanish and loves to make tic-toc videos to share his progress. They are pretty funny to watch. She also teaches English on-line to private students. She is a great teacher! She is a podcaster in her free time on YouTube at Con Manu en la sala and a Tik-Tok @manuejames. As they go through their lives, I know that they will continue to be a blessing to each other and to their families. Today is Manuela’s birthday. Happy birthday Manuela!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It was 47 years ago that my husband, Bob and I said, “I do.” It’s hard to believe that so many years have come and gone. We were just kids back then. I was only 10 months out of high school. Time goes by so fast, and I don’t know how they could have gone by so fast. Every year, I tend to wonder the same thing, and every year I come to the same conclusion…the grace of God. I believe that God sent Bob to me to be my soulmate. He was Heaven sent to me, as a gift of God. We always feel “right” together. We don’t have to “work” at getting along. We just…get along. It is easy for us. I don’t mean to say that marriage isn’t work, because it really is, but for us a loving marriage is so much easier than we would have ever thought.
Bob and I have so much in common. We love doing the same kinds of things…some of which we have developed over the years, because they were not things that we had ever thought we would enjoy years ago. Still, today they are things we have found that we enjoy very much. It’s not just hiking, but it’s where we like to go to hike. We enjoy going to Thermopolis, the Black Hills, Washington state, the Grand Canyon, areas around our city of Casper. These places give us happiness and joy. We like the same television shows. We tend to be very comfortable at home together…granted, we might be taking a nap in our chairs, but that’s ok too. The point is that we are comfortable and happy together…and we are very blessed.
Eash year I find myself feeling more and more blessed with this man God has given to me. God knew exactly the kind of man I would need to make my life happy, and He couldn’t have picked a better man for me. God knew that we would be compatible and comfortable together. We could not have known that for the long run. We were just kids of 18 and 20 years when we got married. What did we know? He knew that we were both stubborn enough to stick it out together and follow His plan for us and our lives. He blessed us with two daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; two sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce; four grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen; as well as fiancées Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez; and great grandchildren Cambree and Caysen Petersen and baby Petersen coming in October. Blessings don’t get any better than those. They have all made us so very happy. Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. I love you Bob…and yes, “I still do.”
In the midst of a time when so many people are offended, angry, and tired of so many restrictions, comes a day when we can all take our minds off of the negative stuff going on and focus on something good…love. Over the past two years, we have been bombarded with lock downs, riots, protests, and a general show of hate. It has been a trying time for all of us. We need more love in our lives. Love doesn’t just apply to romantic love, but anyone can be your valentine…friends, children, and parents too. In fact, I can’t think of a more important time in history to celebrate love.
While romantic love is traditionally the big reason for Valentine’s Day, and I love the special times and traditions with my husband, Bob, I think I find that the traditions that are the most fun are ones that surround the little kids. Little ones live to receive candy and gifts. They don’t care how much you sent or what they receive, they just love the show of love you are giving them. I’ve seen kids get a dollar box of candy or a chocolate rose, and they are totally happy. Younger kids even love getting something like chocolate pudding or applesauce. They don’t really care what it is…kids just like gifts, and for me it’s fun to watch their little faces light up.
However, Valentine’s Day is celebrated, the point of the holiday is to let your loved ones know that you love and appreciate them. Of course, every day is a great day to tell your loved ones how much you love them, but I think it’s nice to make a special effort once in a while, because it’s just as easy to take our loved ones for granted, and before we know it, they feel a little bit unloved. Of course, we should never let that happen. In fact, maybe every day should be Valentine’s Day, because after all, our loved ones are always our Valentines, aren’t they. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!
My uncle, George Hushman has been in love with my Aunt Evelyn since the moment he met her. Aunt Evelyn is my mother’s sister, and the oldest of the nine children born to George and Hattie Byer. Uncle George was raised in the children’s home in Casper, Wyoming, after losing his parents when he was young. When he met my aunt, and the rest of the family, he knew that he had found his family. He would go one to find his biological family later too…another blessing, but he had never really been part of a family until he met Aunt Evelyn. He had been welcomed into his best friend’s family, but as a friend of their son. In Aunt Evelyn’s family, he was the newest actual member…their son-in-law, and much like a true son.
Together, Uncle George and Aunt Evelyn raised five children, who gave them many grandchildren and great grandchildren. They were very blessed with a large family. They lived a good life and throughout those many years together, they were always, first and foremost, madly in love. Unfortunately, as the years progressed, both Uncle George and Aunt Evelyn began to experience some health issues, and at some point, things like dementia and cancer, can take a toll on a family, just as it does the patient themselves. For many family members, dementia is as tough as cancer.
As Uncle George’s dementia progressed, he would often forget the names of his children and grandchildren. That is one of the hardest things on family. We don’t want to think that our own parents or grandparents no longer recognize us. I know this because of what my mother-in-law went through, but one thing I also know is that they seldom forget that you belong to them. That happened with Uncle George too, as my cousin Jamie Patsie experienced shortly before my Aunt Evelyn, her grandmother passed. She had gone over to visit her grandparents. Jamie tells me, “When Grandma was really sick, before she passed, they were sitting next to each other on the couch, listening to his old tapes of him singing, which was so sweet. As I was leaving, he grabbed my hand and looked at grandma and said, ‘See Evelyn, this is someone that we love,’ and kissed my hand. He didn’t want me to leave. Even with his dementia and not knowing exactly who I was, he knew that I was someone that he loved!” He knew she belonged to them and that they loved her, even if he didn’t remember her name. How very sweet!! Today would have been Uncle George’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.
December 12, 2007…a day that rocked my world. It was a day I never expected to see…the day my dad, Allen Spencer went home to be with the Lord. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that someday my parents would be in Heaven, but it didn’t. Nevertheless, these days, all we have are the memories, as we wait for the day when we will all be together again in Heaven.
My dad was a great guy. He was a girl dad, and he wore it well. I don’t know how he managed to survive having five daughters and a wife, all vying for one bathroom, but he did. Ours was probably what the song writer meant, when he wrote “Love Grows Best In Little Houses.” It never felt crowded. It always felt just right. I wonder if my parents knew, when I was just 3 years old that the house they bought then, would be their forever home. At that time my older sister, Cheryl Masterson and I believe my younger sister, Caryl Reed were there, as well as I was. Two more daughters would join the family in that little house, now forever home. There were a few changes, like converting the garage to a bedroom and a utility room, that gave a little more space. Then, in my parents’ later years, an enclosed porch was added. The house just always felt like home…to all of us. Of course, it was our parents that really made the house a home. Their love filled the house, and we were always blessed by them and their love. Any house can hold a family, but love is what makes a house a home.
The first time the house ever felt empty, and maybe a little wrong, was after my dad went home to Heaven. Mom’s lifelong companion was gone now, as was our dad, who had always made us feel like princesses. We could see him in every room, but these were just memory visions. His love still lingered in each and every room. We knew that he still loves us, of course, but everything suddenly felt wrong…like the world kept going, but he had stopped. That is what happened, of course, but it felt to us like life had stepped out or its proper order. We would notice the same thing a few years later, when our mom, Collene Spencer went home to join Dad in Heaven. The house was still filled with the memory visions of them and their love, but it was kind of empty and lonely somehow.
Each year as we remember their homegoings, we are reminded of just how precious they were to us, and how we want to make them proud of how we have lived our lives. They raised us well, and taught us to love God and country, and to always try to do the right things. Now, we look forward to the day we will join them in Heaven, because that is where they are waiting in our future in Heaven, and what a joyous day it will be when we join them there. We love and miss you both on this, the 14th anniversary of your homegoing, Dad, and we can’t wait to see you again.
My nephew, Matt Miller actually joined our family…officially, on August 14, 2021, when he married my niece, Michelle Stevens. While that was the official date, Matt has really been part of our family much longer. Matt and Michelle actually met in middle school. At that point, they became friends, but neither of them knew the future God had planned for this friendship. God planned for their friendship to grow into something so much deeper. As time went on, they knew that theirs was to be love and friendship, not just friendship. Their wedding this summer was the culmination of their years of loveship.
These days, Matt and Michelle are working hard and saving their money, because it is their dream to buy a house on a piece of land. Matt wants a large shop where he can work on things and just tinker around. He loves working on things like vehicles, and if they have land, I’m sure a riding lawnmower will follow. Michelle is so proud of her husband, because he visualizes a plan, and works hard to bring it to pass. The long shifts at the coal mines are not easy, and have sometimes meant that he and Michelle don’t see each other for two or three days, because of their shift differences. I get that too, because my own husband worked in the uranium mines. It tough of them and it makes it kind of lonely for them too. Nevertheless, Matt wants the very best for his wife and future kids, and their dream is land, so that is what he is going to do. Matt has recently really gotten into snowmobiling this year too, so I’m sure his shop will include tinkering on the snowmobiles that they will most likely own soon.
Of course, no man can work all the time, and hunting allows Matt to have fun and provide meat for the family table. Matt and his dad, love to go hunting, fishing, and they share a love of guns. Matt and his dad went bow hunting for elk this year, and both got their elk. That is so uncommon. Usually one or both will have to go hunt with a rifle in order to get their elk too. Game animals are elusive, you know. It was really fun for them to succeed in getting their elk with a bow. I have no idea how to shoot an arrow with a bow…much less have enough skill to actually bag an elk with a bow. That is really something to be super proud of. It’s really been a great year for Matt. Now, he and Michelle are really looking forward to all the good things God has in store for them in the future. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The last two weeks of August were spend visiting our daughter, Amy Royce and her family. In my thoughts throughout the visit was the fact that their 26th wedding anniversary was just around the corner. I found myself thinking that it was amazing that they could have been married 26 years already. I also found myself thinking about just how happy and connected they are with each other. They are loving their life and their home, and it was a pleasure to watch them together. Their marriage has been blessed with two beautiful children and now the family is growing to include Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster…a beautiful girl and a great blessing to us. I love how their family gets together every week to spend quality time together. It makes their marriage and their family more and more rich in love and happiness.
When your kids get married, you hope the marriage will last, and you know that there are never any guarantees, but you want the very best for them, and that means a happy marriage. I am so thankful that these two “kids,” while young at marriage (18 and 19 years) were able to beat the odds and stay married. Not only that, but they were able to build a beautiful life together and raise two beautiful children, Shai and Caalab, together. They are so blessed and they are a blessing to us. We can’t imagine life without the two of them as a couple. Every year, their love grows more and more rich and beautiful.
Whenever we go to visit them, or they come to visit here, we have a wonderful time. They are fun-loving people, and yet they love being at their house, enjoying their beautiful back yard too. They have worked hard on their back yard, and every time I get new pictures, I love it even more. Amy never could get flowers to do much in Wyoming, but in Washington, her garden and flowers are stunning. Travis has always loved yard work, but like most men, prefers mowing the grass to planting flowers. Nevertheless, they have a wonderful vision for their yard, and it is so restful and peaceful. I just love sitting back there, enjoying the day. Travis loves to barbecue and their guests are, of course, the beneficiaries of his grilling abilities. They also love playing games like pool and corn hole, as well as getting the family bank together for a jam session in their recreation room. It is a wonderfully fun time listening to Travis and Caalab play, while Shai and sometimes Amy sing for us. They really make a beautiful band.
Amy and Travis love going to Ilwaco, Washington for little getaways. It is a quaint little town located across the bay from Astoria, Oregon. They go there a lot, much like Bob and I go to Thermopolis, here in Wyoming a lot. It is a place that is close enough for an anniversary getaway, and yet special enough for them always have a great time, and never get tired of it. Ilwaco is a little town, kind of like Thermopolis, but sometimes that is just what you need. A place with the much needed peace and quiet, far away from the stresses of daily life and the busy lifestyle you have at home. A cute little place where you can have romantic dinners and quiet walks along the shore (a river for us and the ocean for them). It’s just perfect for this happily married couple. Today is Amy and Travis’ 26th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to you both!! We love you very much!!
There have been much speculation over the years as to why we marry the person we do. Does our taste in a mate come from…say our parents, friends, or some random part of our own brain. Or, is their simply no rhyme or reason as to how we choose that person we will spend the rest of our life with. When I look at couples, there are some who seem perfectly suited to each other, and then there are those who seem to be total misfits, and yet they are totally happy with each other. Of course, one never knows how long they have been married, whether they will stay married, or if they are on their second or third marriage (indicating a poor choice in the first or second marriage). Oddly, when they do divorce in the first marriage, it amazes me sometimes, just how similar their second choice in mate is to their first…sometimes anyway.
It has been said that a girl chooses a man who is similar to her dad, and I can see that in my own choice. Bob reminds me a lot of my dad, but while they all look different, my brothers-in-law also remind me a lot of my dad. I think that a girl might choose a man who is a lot like her dad, if her dad is a wonderful dad, like my dad was. My sisters would agree. It is further thought that a man chooses a woman who is much like his mom. That makes sense, because he would want someone who can take care of him, his home, and his kids the way his mom took care of the home and family when he was a kid. Of course, there are those who don’t know their parents for one reason or another. They might base their choice on a step-parent or other mentor, I suppose.
Of course, no one really makes that choice consciously. It it always a choice of the heart, but oten the heart knows what it knows from the parental upbringing. I don’t believe that our life partner choice is a random thing, because while I dated a number of nice men, they were all quite different from my dad, and from my husband…and the fact is that I could not imagine myself marrying any of them. They were never going to be the type of man I could spend the rest of my life with. Nice as they were, they would never have been the one for me. I tend to think that somehow God leads the one, the real one into your life, and if you have your eyes open, you will find that perfect one for you.
As another of my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s anniversaries comes around again, I find myself wondering how it could be that they have been in Heaven for so long now. Dad left us in 2007 and Mom left in 2015. They were so in love, for so many years, and now they are back together again, and I know they are so happy. Mom and Dad got married when she was just 17, and they were parents just 10 months later. That was common in that era. Most couple got married, and the babies started coming in rapid succession. For Mom and Dad, that meant a new daughter every two years, with the exception of my sister, Caryl Reed, who followed my breech birth at three years later. I suppose Mom should have had a C-section with me, but it seems the doctors thought it wouldn’t be a problem, if they just dislocated my hips for the birth. A strange thought these days, but I did survive, so I won’t complain.
Mom and Dad, were not to have a son, and I think that as the years went by, they considered their daughters to be a blessing…or at least we hope they did. When it came time to take care of them in their later years, they were very glad they had daughters, because we became caregivers without even questioning the idea. We all agreed that our parents were worth every sacrifice that might need to be made. They were such good parents to us, and we all feel honored to have be given such wonderful, loving parents to raise us and show us the right way to go in life. We never had to try to find God in our life, because we were raised in church, by our responsible parents, and I think each of us can honestly say that there is no time in our life when we didn’t know God. We didn’t have a day when we found Jesus. He lived in our house from the day they married, and we always knew him.
Mom and Dad had a wonderful, loving relationship, and they were demonstrative about their love. They kissed in front of us…daily. Dad gave Mom a love pat on the derrière when he got home from work, and we all knew it was in love. Dad always called her “Doll” and for years, I thought that was her name. He always sent flowers on their anniversary and her birthday, and chocolates on Christmas, and of course, with her January 1st birthday, there was always a big party for New Years Eve. Mom always treated Christmas and his birthday with the same special kinds of things, although, not the same ones as he gave her…of course. They loved spending time together, and eventually worked together. They relished their time together in retirement too…wanting nothing more than time together. Sometimes people fight when they are together too much, but not my parents. They just enjoyed their life together.
They loved going camping and made sure that my sisters and I always got a summer vacation trip. Dad loved to travel all his life, and so teaching his girls (Mom too) a love of travel was a big thing for Dad. He may have been outnumbered by girls, but I think Dad considered it a blessing, except when he needed in the bathroom, and it was occupied. How he survived that little house with just one bathroom and 6 women trying to get ready, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, with the many trials of having girls, Mom and Dad wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a wonderful life. Happy 68th Wedding Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both very much.
My dad, Allen Spencer, always had a moustache, but never really cared for a beard. I suppose that in his like of work, as a welder, he might have considered the beard a fire hazard. I know that he always had a few burn marks from the sparks that fly during welding. I know a lot of welders, including my nephew, Garrett Stevens, who have a beard and don’t seem to have any problems, so maybe that isn’t it. I suppose it was just personal preference. Dad did look nice in a beard the two times he had one. It was a contest of sorts, so many men grew out their beard. Dad’s beard looked very nice, and well trimmed…not straggly at all. I think that goes back to Dad’s nature. It is funny that during one of those times Dad had a beard, my Uncle Bill Spencer, Dad’s brother happened to have a booth at a gun show in Rapid City, SD. He decided to take the family to Rapid City to see if we could fool Uncle Bill, who was not expecting us to be there. Dad pulled it off. Uncle Bill was totally fooled, and it was a great joke. It was also a great trip.
My dad was a very disciplined person. He had a specific idea about proper behavior, and he lived up to that expectation. He always dressed up for church, even if he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie, he would wear a nice Western shirt with one of his bolo ties. He always felt like church was a place where respect should be shown to God, and I must agree, although I don’t dress up in the same way my dad did. Nevertheless, respect must be shown in church. I think that is a common belief in church. No matter how people dress, church is a special place, where we can draw closer to God, and honor Him. I will always feel that way about church.
Dad lived in a house full of girls, and because of that, or maybe because it was just his way, my dad was always a man of good manners. I always thought of my dad as a man who could easily have come from an different era…maybe the Victorian era, or other era where the men were very gentlemanly. I suppose that meant that my sisters and I were rather sheltered from the rougher side of society. There was no cussing in our home, no crass behavior…and yet, there was always love. Mom (Collene Spencer) and Dad kissed in front of us, and Dad might lovingly swat Mom on the backside in what was probably the most risqué thing we saw. These were things we never saw as dirty, but rather we saw love. We even joked about them kissing…singing, “Mommy and Daddy are kissing!!” It was our own made-up song, and we loved it. Dad was always the leader of our house. The spiritual head of the house that love built. He showed us the way, and we have all benefitted from the love of our parents. Today would have been my dad’s 97th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. I know you and mom are celebrating with many other family members. We love and miss you very much.