blessing

The loss of a loved one, at any age is terribly hard, but when the loved one is only 45 years old, it is even harder. My sister-in-law, Rachel (Franklin) Schulenberg was a sweet, kind, and compassionate woman, who was loved by all who knew her. She married my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg on June 12, 2010. Rachel was the love of Ron’s life, and she brought with her the family he didn’t have. Rachel’s daughter, Cassie Iverson had married the week before Rachel and Ron, and she and her husband, Chris would remain in Powell to raise their family, as the children Lucas and Zoey came along. Rachel and her sons, Riley and Tucker, moved to Casper where Ron lived. Rachel and Ron met through her best friend, and his niece, Machelle Moore. It was a match made in Heaven and their wedding was the greatest moment of their lives. Another of the greatest moments of their lives, was when Ron adopted her youngest son, Tucker. The other two children were grown, and Tucker’s dad was unable to be a dad to him, and gave up his rights. Tucker became Tucker Schulenberg, and it was a day of celebration for the whole family.

Rachel was a great mom. She wanted nothing more than to see her kids live out their dreams. She was their biggest cheerleader, and also their greatest comfort. She was there for them, no matter how good things were, or how bad things were. Rachel knew that life happens and everyone makes mistakes, but that never changed the way she felt about the people she loved. She was the kind of person who was there to help them pick up the pieces and make the future better. She was also there to rejoice with them when things were great. Rachel was became a grandmother in 2011 and again in 2015, and those were two of the greatest moments of her life. Her grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey made her life complete. Of course, she always wished they lived a little closer, because she didn’t get to see them as much as she would like, but she saw them as much as she could.

Rachel worked at Walmart for the past year and a half, and she was such a blessing there for coworkers and customers alike. My grandson, Chris Petersen and his fiancée, Karen had the great blessing of seeing her there whenever they shopped for groceries. Rachel was quick to help them with anything they needed, and just to visit with them for a few minutes. She would even step away from her breaks, giving up her breaktime to spend a few minutes with them. It was something that very much endeared Rachel to both of them and to their children. She was their aunt, but she was also their friend. I know many other friends, family members, and customers have the same stories of Rachel’s kindness, helpfulness, and her great smile of greeting.

Rachel was Ron’s other half. She completed him, and gave him the happiest ten years of his entire life. Their marriage on June 12, 2010 filled all of us with gladness, because Ron had found his soulmate…and so had Rachel. They were perfect for each other. Their lives had purpose and most of all love. All too soon, their plans to grow old together were taken from them when Rachel was suddenly taken home to Heaven on January 19, 2021. It was far too soon, as passings are. We will all miss her terribly, and we look forward to seeing her in Heaven when we are reunited there. Rest in peace dear sister. We love and miss you very much.

When my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely met her partner, Brian Cratty, I remember thinking about how quiet he was. I suppose it isn’t surprising to have someone be a little quiet when meeting a large family like ours is. It takes a brave person to walk into a big family for the first time. I know, because I’ve been there. So when Jennifer brought Brian to meet the family I felt a little bit sorry for him. It’s sort of like standing before a crowd of hundreds of people to give your first public speech, and you’re 13 years old. Once you get to know Brian, you can see the gentle, kind man that Jennifer fell in love with.

Brian and Jennifer are soulmates. They have the same interests, and are going in the same direction. They love spending time on the mountain, and the time of year doesn’t matter a bit. For them, Summer is no different than Winter, when it comes to how much they like it that is. I personally don’t care for Winter…in any location. I love the mountains, but in the Summer, when I can hike. Brian and Jennifer, and most of their family, love to ski, so the mountain in the Winter is great for them too. Brian likes to ski, and hike, but one of his favorite activities in mountain biking. He gets on his bicycle and hits the trails around their cabin on the mountain. She might not see him for an hour at a time, because he is out there in his own world.

Brian has been such a blessing to Jennifer’s family, and to the rest of our family. The little kids love him, and he is very good to them. He fits in well with all of us, and while he is a quiet man, he can carry on a great conversation with the best of ’em. We all love having him around, and he is a great partner to Jennifer, and grandpa to the babies. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Naming your baby is a big job, and not one to be taken lightly. The name you bless them with, or sometimes stick them with, is very important. Of course whether the name is a blessing or a curse is a matter of opinion. Some people think you should give your children common names, while others don’t want their child to have the same name a dozens of other kids born that year.

My parents were of the persuasion that their kids were unique, and so their name should be too. If not in pronunciation, then in spelling. Every one of their daughters’ names are spelled in an unusual way…Cheryl, not Sheryl; Caryn, not Karen; Caryl, not Carol; Alena, not Elena; and Allyn, not Lynn. While our names don’t necessarily sound different, very few people spell them correctly.

In my family there are a number of unusual names. Chantel, Corrie (for a girl), Garrett, Lacey, Keifer, Siara, Shai, Caalab, Aurora, Reece (for a girl), and Jaxx. Some are hard to pronounce and some are hard to spell. Either way, they are all unique. We also have some in my husband’s family that are unique…Corrie and Shai (who are in both sides of the family), Machelle, Weston and Easton (who are brothers), Marlyce, Jala, Kaytlyn, Hattie (it’s making a comeback), and Bowen (which I hadn’t heard before). I guess there are a number of us who like the unique names.

Every year lists come out to tell of the most popular baby names. The celebrities are famous for giving their children unique names. Moon, Apple, North are just a few that are easily recalled. Some of them make you wonder just what they are thinking, but apparently they all have their reasons for the unusual names. Names are important as they help to create our identity to the world and to ourselves. Unique Names Day takes a moment in the year to celebrate those who have these interesting names. We are the people who can never find our name on souvenirs, and other personalized items. We have to create our own, have it spelled wrong, or just skip it. We are never on any lists that are produced with all the common names that are out there depicting funny situations applying to names…sometimes that may not be a bad thing.

Someone, at some point realized that unique names was something of some significance, and Unique Names Day came into being in 1997. Since then it has been a yearly occurrence. There are some things that people with unique names go through that those with common names never think about. As children who want keepsakes with their name on it, visiting a tourist attraction or taking a trip there is rarely an item that people with these names will ever be able to have. While that may seem like a small thing, for a child trying to fit it, it’s a big deal. When there is nothing that they can ever find with their name on it, they feel like they don’t really belong.

Unique Name Day is the perfect chance to embrace those with unique names. Having a day just for those who put up with repeating their names, spelling it, teaching people how to say it and rarely having any of the fun trinkets with their name on may not take away any frustration, but it can help make new memories! Find out is their name from their cultural background? If you are the one who walks through life with a unique name, you can take this day to revel in your uniqueness. This day can be used to find out the story of how your parents picked this name for you. My own mom liked the name Karen, but didn’t like the spelling, since they wanted their kids to have names beginning with “C” for my mom and “A” for my dad. So, they came up with ways to make the chosen names fit the categories. As for Caryl, I think they liked the “y” in my name and continued it with her. The funny thing about that is just how easy it is for Caryl and me to type our own name when we mean to type the other name…thereby misspelling our own sister’s name. Do you have a unique name? what is your story? This is your day, and your chance to tell the world.

Yesterday, August 3, 2018, at precisely 7:45am, Miss Elliott Michelle Stevens made her grand entrance into the world. Elliott, who will likely be nicknamed El or Elli, is the daughter and first child of my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his lovely wife, Kayla Smiley Stevens. Elliott is the first grandchild on both sides of their families, and so will be “spoiled” by grandmothers, Alena Stevens and Lynnette Smiley, as well as grandfathers, Mike Stevens and Wes Smiley. She also has three aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, who all became aunts the moment Elliot arrived. Elliot has changed a lot of lives, and all she did was to be born. It was a big job, but Elliott was up to the task.

Elliott is a pretty little girl, who likes to suck her thumb a little. Time will tell if that becomes a habit. She is a good baby, who doesn’t seem to cry much. She will find her voice, I’m sure, but for now, she is just relaxing and enjoying her new world and all the loving grandparents and great grandmother she has found there. Little does she know that there are many other family members who are waiting excitedly to meet her too. She has been born into a much larger family than she could possibly imagine, but those meetings will come in time. For now, she is just enjoying a few family members, and especially her parents, who are still marveling at the little blessing they have been given. And while Kayla and Garrett have become something their siblings are not…parents, their siblings have also become something they are not…aunts.

Time will tell who little Elliott will look like, and we all see similarities between her and her family members, but she will change quite a lot over the next few months and more similarities will begin to show. We will see an expression here, a facial shape there, and hair color will also begin to tell the tale. As she finds her voice, we might discover that she laughs like one person, or her voice sounds like another…it might even be an aunt or grandmother…or even a great aunt or uncle. Babies are amazing that way. They are created by God from the traits He ordains in their family DNA to be the perfect little person, unique and yet similar. I can’t wait to see who little Elliott Michelle will resemble as she grows. No matter who it is, she will be beautiful, just as she is right now, because she comes from two beautiful parents. Welcome to the world, Elliott Michelle, and to our family. We love you so much already!!

It was 65 years ago, when my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer said “I do” and began their life journey together. Theirs was a match made in Heaven and one that continued for the rest of their lives. They knew almost from the day they met, that they had found their soulmate. Of course, my mom was too young at that time to get married, so they had to wait, but their love was worth waiting for. Finally, when my mom was almost 18, they ties the knot, and immediately moved to Superior, Wisconsin to start their family. As often happened in those days, they were quickly pregnant, and a week less than 10 months later, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born. I arrived a little less than 2 years later; my sister Caryl Reed a little more than 3 years later; my sister Alena Stevens a little more that 2 years after Caryl; and our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock 1 year and 8 months after Alena. By the time my sister Caryl arrived, our family had moved back to Casper, Wyoming.

Our parents gave their daughters a wonderful life. We may not have been rich, but we were rich in love and happiness. We traveled, we were raised to have good Christian values, and we were raised to know the value of money and hard work. It doesn’t get better than that. We grew up to be responsible citizens and my parents were proud of each and every one of their daughters. When my sisters and i grew up, Mom and Dad were blessed with 16 grandchildren, then gained 22 great grandchildren, with one more arriving in late August. They also have 5 great great grandchildren. What a crew they started all those years ago!!

Mom and Dad led a blessed life, through all their years together, and that made my sisters and me very blessed too. Our home was always filled with joy and happiness. When problems arose, Dad and Mom always had a way to fix them. I think a strong bond and two hearts in agreement can go a long way together. Being in agreement is the biggest key to a marriage, even if you don’t agree on every matter, just agreeing to work things out is huge. Mom and Dad had that. They showed us how to live, by the way they lived. And that is the best blessing they could have given us. My only regret now is that they are not here with us anymore. Today would have been their 65th anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both so very much.

For all of his life, Butch Hein, my husband, Bob’s uncle, was a cattle man. His dad, Walt Hein had a ranch, and it was his desire that one of his sons would takeover the business. Butch was the one that was interested in ranching, so he did. I don’t know all the details of their agreement, but I believe that everything went into Butch’s name years before Walt died. Butch has been raising cattle for as long as I have known him, and the beef he raised was amazing. He has made a great living as a rancher, and now his son, Scott and his family are a part of the business too.

Butch has been a single dad,for a years now, since his beloved Bonnie died of cancer when their son Scott was just a toddler. those were rough years, but Butch was a great dad to Scott, and now that Scott is grown, Butch’s family has grown by four, with Scott’s wife, Terri, and their children, Laura, Carson, and Lindsey. While those early years were hard, the blessings that have come to Butch now have brought the joy back to his life. I just wish Bonnie could have seen how wonderful her family turned out. She would be so proud.

Butch still works hard on the ranch, but these days, he has lots of help There is something to be said for growing your own ranch hands. His son, his son’s wife, and his grandchildren are all a great help to him. After all the years as a single dad, I’m glad that he has the wonderful blessing of a sweet family. Today is Butch’s birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Few things change a person quite as much as a baby. It has been nearly a month since my great granddaughter made her entrance into the world. I have watched as my grandson, Chris Petersen and his fiancée, Karen changed right before my eyes. They went from being carefree kids, to new parents…just like that. It’s hard to believe that they are parents now. They have crossed a bridge, of sorts, and their lives will never be the same. Time has flown so quickly…as time always does. Before we know it their baby girl will be one year old, then Kindergarten, high school graduation, marriage, and babies of her own, but lets try not to get ahead of ourselves. Time will take care of that on it’s own.

Their baby is a sweet-natured little girl, who really doesn’t cry much unless she is hungry, and even then, she will wait patiently for her dinner, if she has visitors. She wasn’t a real fan of her first bath, but her second bath was much more enjoyable. Who knows, maybe she will be a swimmer. She also seems to really like to think things through. I like to say that she is a concentrator, just like her great grandma…me. I think this baby girl is going to be very smart, and able to analyze the situation before she makes decisions. I suppose it’s a bit early to tell, but I’m going to take some great grandma privilege here and say what I think she will be. Karen and Chris are adapting well to parenthood, and working through the short nights. They are both so in love with their precious girl, that nothing else matters.

Adding a new baby to our family has been the biggest change in more than 22 years…when my great granddaughter’s daddy arrived. Babies change so many things, and our family was quickly beginning to change. Within two and a half years, we had three more babies in our family. Our world would never be the same, and for that we were very happy. It wasn’t that our family wasn’t great, but now it was even better, because it had been almost 21 years since our family had changed in such a big way…when we had our own daughter…her grandma, Corrie Petersen. Babies are such a great blessing, and as each first child arrives, a big change happens…because there are suddenly parents, where once two kids stood.

Most of us think of Saint Patrick’s day as a day to celebrate being Irish, and to celebrate even if you aren’t Irish. But this day is actually dedicated to a man who was considered legendary by the Irish people. Born in Great Britain, probably in Scotland, to a well-to-do Christian family of Roman citizenship, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, he escaped and found passage on a ship to Britain, where he was eventually reunited with his family.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from a book he wrote during his last years, called the Confessio. According to the Confessio, while in Britain, Patrick had another dream, in which an individual named Victoricus gave him a letter. The letter was entitled “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading him to return to their country and walk among them once more. After studying for the priesthood, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country. After 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling, and working tirelessly, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church.

Since Patrick’s passing, countless legends have grown up around him. The Irish made him the patron saint of Ireland. They say he baptized hundreds of people on a single day, and that he used a three-leaf clover…the famous shamrock…to describe the Holy Trinity. He is often portrayed in art as trampling on snakes, a picture that came with the belief that he drove those reptiles out of Ireland. For thousands of years, the Irish have observed the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday, attending church in the morning and celebrating with food and drink in the afternoon. It was a day to be thankful for the man who bought them to the Lord. As holidays often do, the ways of celebrating changed over the years. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but the United States, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762. I’m sure they were doing their best to keep with the tradition of their country. As the years went on, the parades became a show of unity and strength for persecuted Irish-American immigrants, and then a popular celebration of Irish-American heritage.

The rest of the world observed it differently…probably due to the Irish tourism’s efforts to promote their country. The party went global in 1995, when the Irish government began a large-scale campaign to market Saint Patrick’s Day as a way of driving tourism and showcasing Ireland’s many charms to the rest of the world. Today, March 17 is a day of international celebration, as millions of people around the globe put on their best green clothing to drink beer, watch parades and toast the luck of the Irish, but it was never really about luck, you know…it was about blessing. Happy Saint Patrick’s day…and cheers!!

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to realize that Father’s Day is again upon us. Since both my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg are in Heaven now, the commercialized part of Father’s Day has little effect on me. I think about both of them daily, and miss them very much, but other than flowers for their graves, there is little in the way of things that I can give them. However, that does not mean that I don’t love, honor, and respect them today and every day. These days, I think that the best way for me to show honor to the two very special dads that God blessed me with is to try to live my life in a way that would make them proud. I suppose that a lot of people would say, “You are over 60 years old, you should do whatever you want to.” But, I don’t think that there ever comes a day when we should not try to make our parents proud. After all, they gave us life, and nurtured us all of the rest of their lives…yes, even when we were adults.

With the passing of each of my dads, came the promise to take care of the moms. And to that task, we set ourselves. It wasn’t always easy, but my dads loved their wives, and had taken care of them all of their married lives. One of the biggest worries of an elderly married person, is the thought that when they are gone, no one will take care of their spouse, and that is not a needless worry sometimes. Nevertheless, my dads knew that when they went home, my mom, Collene Spencer and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg would be taken care of, and they were not wrong on that. My Dad passed away December 12, 2007, and we cared for my mom for seven years and two months, until her passing on February 22, 2015. My father-in-law passed away on May 5, 2013, and my mother-in-law is still alive today, and we continue to show her the love and respect she deserves, and he would want for her. These things were not a burden to be borne, but rather a privilege that was given to us…the privilege of still having our mom. No, there may not be much I can give my dad or my father-in-law, but I can do my best to always be the kind of person they would have wanted me to be.

Of course, Father’s Day for me always takes in my own sweet husband, Bob Schulenberg, and my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, all of whom are amazing dads, and all of whom have enriched our family by being a part of it. Every day, they add richness to our lives with their hard work, sense of humor, and their deep love for us…their family. To me, that is the most important thing a man can do. These men have been in our family for many years now, Bob for 42 years, Kevin for 24 years, and Travis for 22 years…unheard of lengths of time in marriages these days. They have proven time and time again that they are worthy of our love and respect. God gave each of us such wonderful blessings in these men. I love each of them very much, as I do my two dads in Heaven, and I wish each of them and all dads everywhere, a very happy Father’s Day!!

When you are born, the second child in a family, you have the unique blessing of coming home to an older sibling who has just become a big sister or big brother for the first time. That was the exact blessing I got when I was born. I came home to a big sister who was excited about being the big sister. My sister, Cheryl Masterson was an amazing big sister. I have spent my life always knowing that she was there for me, and that is a very comforting feeling. I don’t know if I recognized that feeling as a baby or not, but I certainly have over the years of my life.

Cheryl and I were best friends. We did everything together. She showed me how to do so many things, as the years went by, and since I never had the same stylish flair that she did, I have to say she was pretty patient with my awkwardness too. When I needed protection…real or imagined…Cheryl was there too. She was always so brave, while I might very likely hide under the blankets. Maybe that comes with being the oldest, and knowing from a very young age that she was the keeper of the younger kids. Being the oldest is a job that never really passes from a child. It isn’t just about being older in age, but knowing that the younger kids will always look up to you. It changes a person. Cheryl is a different person than I am, in part because she was the oldest, and I never had to pick up those reigns. I wasn’t the oldest child.

These days, I don’t suppose that I need as much monitoring as I used to. Nevertheless, since our parents’ passing, Cheryl always likes to know that we have made it safely from any travel destinations we are on. That is a part of what our parents always did, and something we have all tried to pick up and do now, but I believe it was Cheryl that first picked up that job and carried it on. It is such a keeper of the younger kids thing to do. The oldest child always feels a duty to take care of the younger kids…no matter how old they get. I still enjoy spending time with my sister Cheryl, and as she has been all my life, she is a great blessing to me today. She is my friend and my mentor. She always takes the high road, and does the things that God would want her to do, and that makes her a great mentor. God could not have given me a better big sister. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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