wedding

My niece, Michelle Stevens and her husband…as of today, Matt Miller, have known each other since they were kids in the 8th grade. They have always been best friends, but at some point, it became more than just a friendship, and they knew this would be their forever love. Michelle and Matt wanted to get married last year in a destination wedding in Florida, but like many 2020 weddings, plans got changed because of Covid-19. So instead, they decided to have an intimate little wedding on Casper Mountain followed by a reception at the Nicolaysen Art Museum, where Michelle works. It may not be what they had dreamed of, but it will beautiful.

For al long time, Michelle and Matt didn’t want to take their relationship to the level of being a couple, because they didn’t want to lose the friendship, is things didn’t work out. Nevertheless, at some point, they knew that they couldn’t leave their relationship as just friends either. Once they made the decision to go to the next level, they knew it was the right decision. They weren’t just friends. They were and always will be soulmates. They knew that together they were a complete couple, and they knew that they would be happy forever.

Today, they made took their relationship to yet another level…that of husband and wife, and their families couldn’t be happier. Having been together for a long time, these two are already fixtures in each other’s family, and both sides consider these two their children. That is a phenomenon that occurs when two people have been together so long that they tend to act like each other. My own mother told me once that my husband and I acted a lot alike and that we even look alike. I don’t see that, but she did. Michelle and Matt’s parents might see that in them one day, because they are well on their way to being together long term, and I thing that in many ways, they do act alike already. Both of them have a great sense of humor. They like to do the same things, and they seem to be going in the same direction in life. Those are things that make for a good marriage. I believe that is exactly what Michelle and Matt will have. Congratulations on your marriage Michelle and Matt. May God richly bless your marriage in every way. We love you both.

My grand-nephew, James Renville met the love of his life, Manuela Ortiz a couple of years ago, and from that point forward, they knew that it was love. Theirs was not the easiest of courtships, because Manuela worked in New Jersey, and James lives in Casper, Wyoming. That was not a deterrent for James, however, because when it comes to the perfect one…love will find a way. The good news is that James loves to travel, so traveling to see this girl who has captured his heart was no hardship at all. The only hardship was leaving her to come back home.

James and Manuela longed for the day when they would no longer have to be separated by the miles between their jobs. When love is real, you never want to be so far apart. Your hearts are as one, and you know that it is time to begin to build your own life together. That is exactly how James and Manuela felt. While their relationship began with distance making things difficult, it did not stop love from growing, and now they can put those miles behind them, and go forward as one. Their families are so excited for them to become man and wife.

A short time ago, in October, James popped the question, and Manuela said yes. With that one little word, James’ life suddenly felt complete. Manuela was the girl of his dreams, and the one his mother had been praying for to complete her son. In fact, Manuela is so sweet, that our whole family loves her dearly, and we can’t wait to make her a part of our family. Well, today is that day. James and Manuela have chosen Bear Trap Meadow as the site for their wedding, and they really couldn’t have picked a prettier site. The excitement is building, and we can’t wait to watch this beautiful wedding take place. Love is truly in the air, and love has found a way for these two precious people. Congratulations as you go forward in marriage, James and Manuela. We love you both very much, and wish for you two, the greatest blessings that God has to give.

The Christmas season is always exciting, for old and young alike, and Christmas Eve is often a very hard day to settle down for. The reasons for the excitement vary. They are usually centered around the Christmas holiday, but not always. For my mother’s family, Christmas Eve holds an extra special significance because it was also their parents, wedding anniversary. Grandma Hattie and Grandpa George Byer were married on December 24, 1927. I always wondered why people would pick a holiday to get married on, but in times past, it was somewhat common. People could not easily get all their family members into town for a wedding, but people were often already getting together for a holiday. Of course, weddings weren’t often the great big affair that they can be these days either. Often the bride simply wore her Sunday dress, and carried a bouquet of wild flowers. I suppose it would be similar to the weddings held at the justice of the peace these days.

The reasons for the date and the simplicity of a wedding really didn’t make much difference, especially concerning my grandparents, because they were very much in love all of the years of their married lives together. I still remember all the times that Grandpa looked at Grandma with total love in his eyes. Grandma always knew that Grandpa loved her very much. Their marriage was blessed with nine children, four of whom are now in Heaven with them. They also have five sons-in-law and several grandchildren and great grandchildren in Heaven with them too. I would imagine that all of them are having a wonderful time there, because there are no tears and no sadness there. Of course, we here, who are left behind miss all of them terribly, and can’t wait to see them again.

Grandpa was a hard worker, who held many jobs in his lifetime. He was always a very respected worker. They knew he could be counted on to be there and to do his job well. Grandma was always a stay-at-home mom, who never learned to drive a car. It was just something she saw no need for. She worked in the home, and she cooked…man could she cook!! And there was always plenty of food on her table…no matter how many extras might show up. No one was turned away, and Grandma’s table was famous in this area. Today would have been my grandparents’ 91st anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Grandma and Grandpa. We love and miss you both very much.

Over the years of my marriage to my husband, Bob, I have had the great privilege to know his family, both here in Casper, Wyoming, in Forsyth, Montana, and other areas of the United States. I can tell you that they are all wonderful, hard working people, and upstanding citizens. Bob’s uncle, Eddie Hein, like Bob and his dad, Walt Schulenberg, worked in the mines in the area they lived in. They didn’t work in the same mines, but they were all in mining. For those who don’t know, mining is hard work…no matter what part of mining you are in. From the people who keep the equipment running, to the operators of the equipment, each plays a vital role in the mining process. Eddie worked in the mines for a long time, and was a valued member of the crew.

When Eddie came home from work, the work didn’t just stop. Eddie worked a lot over the years to remodel their home. What started out as a little house, slowly grew into a beautiful home. I was especially impressed with the beautiful fireplace he built. The rock work was stunning, and it added an elegant touch to the house. Eddie worked hard to make his house into a great home for his family. It was a place that we all enjoyed visiting whenever we made the trip to Forsyth.

Eddie was always a symbol of strength and stability to everyone who knew him, and is still a source of inspiration today. Following a stroke,Eddie worked his way back to health, and was able to take the trip to Miramar Beach, Florida to walk his daughter Kim down the isle on her wedding day. It was a happy day for all. Today is Eddie’s 75th birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

These days, long term marriages are rare, but they can be done. It takes work, an understanding of what your spouse is going through on a daily basis, common goals, and most of all prayer. I know people would dispute that last one, but as I am a Christian, I believe that is what it takes, whether it is the couple praying, or their family praying for them. Some things should be handled with prayer, because getting along with a person day in and day out, is not always easy, as any married couple will tell you.

Nevertheless, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin are one of those couples who have beaten the odds, and today, they celebrate their 25th or Silver Anniversary. I remember their wedding like it was yesterday, because in a mother’s heart, that is exactly how it feels. They were to kids, and that’s a fact. Corrie was just two weeks past her 18th birthday, and Kevin was not quite 22. The first thought that comes to anyone’s mind is that there was no way this marriage had a chance, but these two kids loved each other so much. They had dated since Corrie was just 15 years old, and they had been engaged for a year and two weeks, since they got engaged on her 17th birthday. They were perfect for each other from the start, and never have I seen two people who were closer soulmates at such a young age. You just can’t mess with these matches made in Heaven, and that is what they were…a match made in Heaven.

Now, suddenly, here we are, 25 years later, and these two kids…who will always be kids to me…are still going strong. They are parents, and now have a new granddaughter, and they are as happy as they can be. They are supportive of each other as each one works toward their own goals for their lives. They are supportive of each other as they struggle with things that are difficult, knowing that everyone has struggles. No life is perfect, but when you have a good support system, you can do anything you set your mind to…be it health, career, finances, or any other challenge people can face. You see, it isn’t the marriage that has no challenges that lasts, because in reality, there is no such thing. It is rather the marriage that meets its challenges head on, faces them with courage and compassion, and comes out the other side better for having made the journey that lasts. That is the kind of marriage Corrie and Kevin have, and that is why it has lasted. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Congratulations to you both…you made it!! Have a great day!! We love you both!!

img_507414523213_10207439348077800_5279092986944906000_nEvery bride-to-be dreams of a perfect wedding day. Yesterday, that dream came true for my grand niece, Katy Balcerzak, when she married her soul mate, Jacob Collett. Their outdoor wedding was given a perfect sunny day, and the fall colors that were the theme of the wedding gave a beautiful brightness to the entire park. The sun shone brightly, and the day was warm…especially for fall, like Indian Summer, perfect. Katy and Jake have been soul mates for some time now, and the next logical step was to unite in marriage. The planning took a number of months, but it was well worth it when the day finally arrived. Katy was the bride with her perfect wedding day. Every aspect of her special day, with her special man, Jake was a perfect as it could be.
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Katy is the youngest child of my niece, Chantel Balcerzak’s husband Dave. She was just a teeny little girl, the first time I met her. I remember just how much she loved her daddy, and just how cute she was. It was a picnic on the mountain, and we all had a wonderful time. Katy, and Chantel’s daughter, Siara Harman were great friends, and in fact, Siara was one of Katy’s bridesmaids on her special day. The position of man of honor, however fell to Katy’s best friend…her brother, Kiefer. Katy, along with her brother, Kiefer were a great addition to Chantel’s blended family with Dave. Chantel’s son Jake Harman, rounded out the four blended siblings. Now Katy, like all the other kids, is all grown up, and ready to start the next 14495382_10207439351717891_2067450362949069240_n14449817_10207439354197953_1569839502020090458_nturn in life’s road…marriage. This is a journey, Katy and Jake have been planning on and looking forward to for a long time.

Her journey through a life of love is just beginning, and oh what a beginning it was. The reception was as beautiful as the wedding. Katy loves pumpkins, and really pretty much everything about the month of October. No wonder she chose that month for her wedding. Of course, Katy and Jake also love outdoor sports, and so the grooms cake had to be a truck…didn’t it? It wouldn’t have been Katy and Jake without it. Jake, welcome to the family. We wish both Katy and Jake a long and happy life. Congratulations to both of you!!

imageIf I tell you that there exists in this world, a children’s railway, would you think of the Orphan Train, bringing children out West for adoption into families there? Or would you think of some kind of forced child labor on the railways? Either way…you would be wrong. The Children’s Railway was started in Soviet Russia in 1932. The concept is a unique one. The idea was to teach teenaged children to build and run a railroad as a way of learning the railroad trade. It was an extracurricular activity that was voluntary. Things like that aren’t offered in this country…at least not that I’m aware of. Nevertheless, I think my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer might have enjoyed that, had it been offered in his time. I also think that my cousin by marriage, James Forseen, might have loved that since he has always loved trains, and managed to land a job with the railroad. He loved them so much that he had to have one in the wedding photos when he imagemarried my cousin Dani Byer Forseen. Just imagine James, if you could have worked on a railroad in high school!!

As I said, the children’s railway was a phenomenon that originated in the USSR. The first Children’s Railway opened in Gorky Park in Moscow, on July 24, 1932. It was a greatly developed activity in Soviet times. By the time the USSR broke up, there were 52 children’s railways in existence in that country. Many children’s railways are still functioning in post-Soviet states and in Eastern Europe, so obviously this is an activity that has taken off…and imagine the kids who would stay out of trouble if they fell in love with railroad work. I can envision the kids having such a great time running the railroad that they would never have the time or the inclination to get into trouble or into gangs. Their imagination would be too busy.

The children’s railway has come so far that many of them exhibit railway technology not seen anymore on the imagemain lines and they can be seen as heritage railways. Even though a few exceptions exist, most of the children’s railways that were built in the communist block have a track gauge of at least 600 mm (1 feet 11 5/8 inches) and can carry full size narrow gauge rolling stock. Of course, for the sake of safety and training purposes, the children’s railways are all run under the supervision of adult railroad workers, but what better way for things to be done. The children’s railways in existence these days are mostly for the purpose of tourism, but I suppose that if necessary, they could be used for other reasons. Whatever their purpose is today, I think the Children’s Railways sound like a very cool idea.

IMG_4523IMG_4528When two people are as great together as my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his bride, Kayla Smiley, you tend to think of them as already married. They are in tune with each other, and so happy. They have so much in common, and they are such good friends. Nevertheless, until today, they haven’t been married…just perfect for each other.

Today, all that will change as they take their vows and become husband and wife. When you watch someone grow up from birth, it is a strange thing to see them suddenly all grown up and getting married. That is the case with my nephew, Garrett Stevens. Garrett was a happy kid, who always had a smile on his face. Of course, that hasn’t changed, but these days that smile is there because of how happy he is with Kayla. She completes him and he completes her.

Kayla is a sweet girl, with a sweet and gentle heart. The little kids love her as much as they do Garrett. In fact, if they were allowed to they would probably spend all of their time with them. I guess that’s how it is when you don’t mind having some kid time in your life. It makes me think that someday Garrett and Kayla will make wonderful parents. Of course, that will be another story…someday. Garrett has always loved the little kids in the family, and I think Kayla is on the same page with him on that.

Today, as Garrett and Kayla embark on the first day of the rest of their lives, I think it is with mixed emotions IMG_4538IMG_4531that most of us view this wonderful ceremony. Of course, the part about them becoming husband and wife is wonderful and exciting, but for their parents…there is still that little hint of loss. The loss of their babies. How could they have grown up so fast? It seems like they were just born yesterday!! Be that as it may, their parents will now find that it’s not really about losing a daughter or son, but about gaining a daughter-in-law or son-in-law. The two become one, and then they go on together to make the most wonderful life ever. The direction their lives will take them is up to them, of course, but I know that their lives will be completely amazing. Today is Garrett and Kayla’s wedding day. Congratulations Garrett and Kayla!! It’s an awesome day. Congratulations!! We love you both!!

Caryn & CorrieBob & CorrieWhen your children grow up and start dating, you begin to hope that they will be able to pick the right spouse, so theirs will be a “til death do we part” kind of marriage. It’s really hard to let your kids make their own choices, because you wonder if they will know what true love is, but then does anyone know at first. I don’t know how my girls both managed to get that perfect mate…just like I had…on the very first try, but they did, and I couldn’t be happier for them. Each new year of their marriage is sweeter than the year before.

My daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen, married her husband Kevin Petersen 23 years ago today, and their marriage has been richly blessed. She was only two weeks out of high school, but they knew that it was right. I remember being so busy with both wedding and graduation. I barely had time to think about the fact that my Corrie and Kevin Petersen Wedding Day July 17, 1993little girl was getting married and leaving the nest. In fact, I recall being a bit surprised that I wasn’t torn up about it, and then just chalking it up to the fact that Corrie’s little sister, Amy was still here at home, so it wasn’t really an empty nest.

The wedding went off without a single problem. It was beautiful, and the kids were both so happy. The reception went off perfectly as well. The kids were relaxed and enjoying the time to visit with their friends and family. The cake was beautiful, the wedding gown stunning, and the rings were exchanged, but of course what made the wedding so amazing was the love shared by two young people who were now ready to set out on their own and begin a new life. Even then it didn’t occur to me that I would feel any of the common empty nest feelings. Then came the time for them to leave to begin their honeymoon. Everyone went outside to see them off, and they drove away waving and smiling. The day was over, except for the clean up.

There were still a number of guests there when I went back in, including my sister, Cheryl Masterson. As I came in the door, I turned to her and said, “Well…they’re gone.” Immediately, the floodgates burst. The tears that flowed were completely unexpected, but could not be stopped. My baby girl was a married woman, and she was heading out to start her adult life with her husband. They had each other now, and she no longer Corrie and Kevins ringsCorrie & Kevin Weddingneeded her mommy to guide her through life. I realize now that I was wrong, and that those were the thoughts of a newly, if not just partially, empty nester. There would be many times she…they would need me again. They were married, not gone forever. Their lives have taken many turns, and there have been many times that they have needed me, and I have needed them. They couldn’t possibly be more of a blessing to me. Happy Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you both very much!! Have a totally amazing and wonderful day!!

imageGarrett & KaylaWhen I think about the fact that my nephew, Garrett Stevens is 26 years old today, and getting married soon, I find it hard to believe. It just doesn’t seem possible that he is not still the silly little boy he was, not so long ago. Being the only boy in a family of three kids, I’m quite certain that he did his share of teasing his sisters, but that never seemed to matter Michelle and Lacey both thought their brother was just the greatest. In fact, it would be Lacey who would introduce Garrett to his future wife, Kayla Smiley, and the rest of that story is, as they say, history. They fell in love, and the wedding is coming up fast. Nevertheless, Garrett could get into mischief, and did…on a regular basis. It was just the kind that was too cute to get mad about.

Garrett is like his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer in so many ways. I often see Dad in the things he does, and the way he is. One of the big ways is when he is playing with the little kids. So many people are just too adult to get in there and really play with the kids, but not Garrett. He doesn’t mind all the rough and tumble ways of kids, and he doesn’t require them to be quiet and sit down…like they were in school. My dad was that way. He would get the little kids going, and the loud laughter and excited screams would soon follow, almost to the point of driving my mom crazy. She would beg him to stop it, but the kids were having so much fun that she finally just gave in. I see that quality in Garrett, and I know that when he and Kayla have kids…well, Kayla, you have been warned. Your house will be noisy…but then, that’s a good thing. A home filled with laughter is a huge blessing. Garrett also loves camping and fishing, as does Kayla, so they will be a great team. In fact, the imageRaelynn, Zack, Garrett, Isaac, and XanderStevens family all love the lake and camping out, and go every year around the 4th of July.

Garrett took up the same profession as his grandpa too…welding, and he is very good at it. Like his grandpa, Garrett is a Broncos fan, as am I, and that makes him ok in my book. He’s got his team priorities straight, and that’s important. He also likes the Colorado Rockies. I knew there was a reason I liked this kid. He’s got it together. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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