strength

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 nephew Steve Spethman is a big, strong man. His shoulders have bailed us out of many a tough spot. When my mother, Collene Spencer was in her late-stage-life weakened-mobility state, we could always count on Steve to single-handedly lift her from an armless chair to a standing position so she could walk out of church using her walker. It would have taken two of us to do what Steve did alone. We were so grateful to Steve. He helped our mom maneuver with grace and dignity. When Steve lifted Mom from her chair, she was up on her feet before anyone around her really realized that she had been assisted. Steve made it so smooth for her, so that she never felt embarrassed. Steve gave her the gift of dignity, and we can never repay him for that.

Steve’s strength has come to our rescue in other ways too. When we wanted to build our mom a deck, Steve was among the people who helped. He and my brothers-in-law, Mike Reed, Mike Stevens, Chris Hadlock, my husband, Bob, and nephew, Garrett did the heavy work so that the deck could become a reality…one that my sisters and I wanted for our mom, but could not have accomplished on our own. I suppose women could do that job, but Steve and the guys carried the heavy load, and made it a much easier job. In fact, they did the deck, while my sisters and I did spring cleaning in the house. We will be forever grateful to these men for what they did for our parents over the years.

Steve is all about family. His children and his wife, my niece, Jenny are his priority. He and Jenny have taught them so much, including the especially important gun safety and usage. In these tumultuous times we all need to know how to protect ourselves. The Spethman family often goes out shooting, and even little Aleesia is learning to shoot. Her brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac have all taken and passed the hunter safety courses so they can go hunting with their dad. It is a rite of passage that the boys looked forward to very much, as I’m sure Aleesia will as well. Steve is a good dad who wants the best for his family, and works with each of them to ensure that for them. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Virginia Beadle is a woman of resilience. There are still a few of those around. They are the people who face adversity head on and fight their way back to health with strength and courage. As people age, sometimes their health can suffer. Aunt Virginia is turning 89 years today. Her mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and her body shows definite signs of weakening that comes with the years, but her spirit…her essence…the beautiful lady that her family has always loved is still there, and still just as beautiful as her sweet face.

There have been times in the last year or so that her body has betrayed her to a degree, and she has spent some time in the hospital and a nursing home, but she works hard to get her strength back with the hope of going home. It’s hard to say if the nursing home will become permanent, as it did for my mother-in-law in her final five years, but I can tell you that the love that Aunt Virginia’s kids have for her will never die, because they would give anything to keep her home. They have shown this in the care they have given her in the past few years. Aunt Virginia know that and feels the blessing of that love. They would give her the moon if they could, but all they can give her is their love, and that is what they have done. That is to be commended.

Aunt Virginia worked hard all her life to give her kids the best she could. Life wasn’t always easy, but she was resilient. She never gave up. If hard work could make a good life or her family…well, she worked hard. I remember how beautiful Aunt Virginia looked when she was getting off or going to work. She was always dressed up and she had style, but more than that, she was good at her job. These days her mind might not be as sharp, but when she worked, she “rocked” it. She has earned her retirement, and the love of her family. She may be older now, but she is still the beautiful lady we all know and love…inside and out. Today is Aunt Virginia’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Life in the early 20th century was not always easy. Many people were on the move westward, hoping to find a better life, as things were much more crowded in the east, and land was not readily available. The government was giving away homesteads in Montana, so that is where Bob’s great grandfather decided to move his young family. It took men and women of strong constitution to settle the west, both during the wild west and into the 20th century. Bob’s great grandmother, Julia Doll Schulenberg was one of those strong pioneer women. She was always a hard working woman, and when times got tough, Julia Schulenberg shined. She was a woman capable of doing just about any job required to help her family survive. In addition to running the homestead, farming and caring for livestock and children, she cleaned houses in Forsyth, worked in the cafe, and even served as a midwife to the area women. She did what she had to do to save their homestead during the tough times.

When her oldest child, Andrew…Bob’s future grandfather, accidentally shot himself in the leg at age 15, and subsequently spent 2 years in the hospital, losing his leg about a year into his stay, Julia and her husband Max would pull him through it. They had passed their strength on to their children, showing them how to survive in the rugged west, even during the worst of times. Andrew would be no exception to that rule. With hard work and stubborn determination, Andrew would recover, and while he had a wooden leg, he went on to become the sheriff of Rosebud County, Montana for many years. He would also go on to marry Bob’s grandmother, and later, after their divorce, he would narry again and would be largely out of his son, my father-in-law’s life for all but the last few years before his death in 1986.

While Bob’s dad did not have much association with his dad until much later in life, he has very fond memories of his grandmother…Julia Doll Schulenberg. It would seem that Julia was, in all reality, the backbone of the Schulenberg family. While Max seemed to struggle to get by, and went from job to job, Julia was of very strong stock. She taught her children to work hard, and do what was right, and also passed those good qualities on to her grandchildren. My father-in-law remembers her as a hard working woman, who kept a clean home and always welcomed him in for a visit. He has based much of his view of a good woman on the amazing example his grandmother gave him.

While her husband, Max would die and the young age of 56, Julia Doll Schulenberg lived a long life. She passed away on November 17, 1974, at 89 years of age. Her death came just 4 months before I married Bob, so I never got to meet her. Still, from my father-in-law’s stories of his grandma, I know that she was a woman of strong constitution and a kind, loving spirit, and the fact that I never met her is most definitely my loss.

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