camping

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With each passing year, I find myself more and more amazed that my mom, Collene Spencer could be in Heaven for six years now. For those of us who miss her very much, that thought feels sad, but for my mom, who loved the Lord so much and was excited to see Heaven, these have been wonderful years, that seemed like seconds, I’m sure. Each day for her is now spent in rejoicing, because that was always what my mom wanted. She never desired anything more than to worship God and bask in His presence. Like one of the songs we used at her funeral, and those of many others now, tells us, “We can only imagine what it will be like!!”

Mom enjoyed many things in her lifetime. She liked to travel, go camping, celebrate the holidays, and spend time with family, but more than anything, my mom loved to spend time in the Word. We bought he a Kindle when they first came out, and loaded it with Christian books and the Bible. It made it so much easier for her to read, because it was so light and easy to hold. She had dozens of books at her disposal, and she loved that. She spent her days reading and communing with God while her family was all at work. Anyone who knew her will tell you that my mom was “All about bringing others to the Lord.” She loved people, and didn’t want anyone to be lost, but she really wanted people to know how much God loves them. She never stopped telling others about God’s love for them, and that is to her credit. I can’t begin to count the number of people she led to the Lord in her lifetime.

Of the things on this Earth, the most important to mom was her family. She treasured each and every new baby that was added to her lineage, and I know she can’t wait to meet the ones who have arrived after her homegoing. She also treasured the new spouses and partners. There was a special place in her heart for each of these new additions. When someone loves one of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond, that makes them awesome in Mom’s eyes…and that makes them as much hers as if she had given birth to them. There was always room in Mom’s heart for more loved ones. She loved watching her family grow with each new addition. She considered each one perfect. It s such a wonderful way to look at people, and one we should all incorporate into our own lives. When I think of the life lessons my mom gave us, these things are among the greatest. As I look forward to my own homegoing someday, I can only imagine just how wonderful it will be, and as I continue my life on Earth, it is my desire to live my life in such a way as to make my mom and my dad proud of the child they raised, and the woman I have become. I miss my mom very much, and I am forever grateful for the life she and my dad gave me. Happy 6th anniversary of your homegoing, Mom. We love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you again.

My sister-in-law, Debbie Cook is an expert craftswoman. In her lifetime, she has made many, various gifts and items to sell, that she handmade with love. Many a baby has a sampler with their name and date of birth on it in cross stitch that is cherished by the child and its parents. Many is the person who owns a quilt made by Debbie’s hands. She has also done sewing through the years, making clothes for her girls, Machelle and Susan. Debbie, along with her parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg and her sister, Brenda Schulenberg, had booths in many craft fairs over the years, though in recent years craft fairs have somewhat dwindled…a sad thing really, because they provided awesome, and sometimes one-of-a-kind, gifts for many people to give to loved ones.

In the years since she quit participating in craft fairs, Debbie has enjoyed camping a lot. Since her husband, LJ Cook retired, they have been able to go camping a lot more than they could before. In fact, they would probably live in the Big Horn Mountains all summer, if not year round. Of course, their girls, Machelle and Susan probably wouldn’t like that much, because they wouldn’t get to see them as often as they do now. Not that life doesn’t make it difficult, because everyone is busy, but if their parents lived in the mountains, it would be harder to go visit. For Debbie, living in the mountains wouldn’t hinder her hobbies much, because much of it can be done anywhere.

Debbie loves being a grandma, and enjoys spending time with grandsons, Weston and Easton Moore, and granddaughters, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith. These days, since the kids are all getting grown up, they are a big help to her and LJ too. She used to spend more time with the kids, of course, because when they were in school they often came to her house after school, but now the older three are driving, so there is no need to pick them up or babysit them. It is always sad when the active grandparent days are behind us, then we must wait for the great grandchildren to begin to come. Of course, we still have our grandchildren, but we don’t have the babies, and I think that makes every grandparent a little bit sad.

As life goes on, Debbie and LJ are looking forward to many more years of camping in the Big Horns with their family. They all love to camp as a group, sitting around the campfire at night just enjoying the warmth and !!comradery, as well as the occasional moose that strolls through the camp. They used to go hunting, and liked getting the wild meat, but they haven’t really done that in a number of years. Now they hunt with their eyes, looking for the best specimens, but not shooting them. In that, they have had great success. Today is Debbie’s 68th birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Jessi Sawdon is not your typical stay-at-home mom, if that could be a thing anyway. Most moms have been faced with the dilemma of working outside the home or staying home to raise the babies. In the past, the only work from home jobs were daycare or telemarketing. While daycare is a noble calling, and one whose workers must be given a lot of credit, because it is not easy to take care of several children all day; telemarketing is another story. Nobody wants to talk to you, and they truly wish you would just “get a real job” already!! When I was raising kids, and my daughters were raising kids, work-from-home was not a real option. I’m glad that it is for mothers these days.

Jessi has a degree in communication and marketing, and works as the Marketing Coordinator at LUM Studio. She is also mommy to her daughter, Adelaide Ione. The biggest blessing from her work-from-home job is that she can take Adelaide to and from school and attend the school functions that so many working moms miss because of their jobs. LUM Studio is a website designer and hosting company. Their work is beautiful and the are enjoying great success. They are becoming well known and have received work from businesses around the state. It is great that Jessi can be a stay-at-home mom to Adelaide and still focus on her career. Being able to have both a career and a stay-at-home mom atmosphere is really so important.

Jessi is a bit of a comedian. She loves doing things to make people laugh. It is something that seems to run in the family. You might ask her sister, Lindsay about Jessi, and she will respond with, “Who is Jessi?” Her sister Kellie loves to be goofy, and always laughs or smiles…especially when someone like Jessi decides to photobomb her. Her brother, Ryan is one of the world’s biggest teasers, and all the girls have been subject to his teasing ways, but it is done in good fun, and it makes for a lot of laughs for this family.

Of course, like most of us, Covd-19 has required Jessie, her husband, Jason and Adelaide to be in social distancing mode, but it didn’t keep them from being able to go camping quite a bit. During the summer and fall and they really enjoyed their new toy hauler, because they can go camping and four wheeling. That has really let them enjoy the great outdoors. Jessi and Jason have a side by side four wheeler that seats four, so they can all go together on their sight seeing rides. Adelaide loves riding with her mom and dad! They love going to the lake, the Big Horns, and sometimes Jason finds little out of the way places where they can just enjoy being together. They also love to take walks as a family and they go often when the weather permits. God has really blessed them! Today is Jessi’s birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is an outdoorsy girl who loves pretty much everything about nature. She is very into sports like hiking, skiing, biking, snowshoeing, and camping. She and my nephew, Barry Schulenberg have been doing a lot of camping, taking trips to the Big Horn Mountains, the Black Hills, and Alcova Lake, where they enjoy boating too. They take their bikes and do a lot of trail riding or hiking the trails in the area. Their dog, Scout rounds out their hiking and biking group most of the time, although, Kelli’s mom, Mary Wages joins them sometimes as well…especially this year, when Mary was forced to evacuate her summer camping site in Colorado, due to the wildfires there. Kelli and Barry were relieved that she was safe here with them. Having a parent in harm’s way would be an awful situation.

All that exercise can make the downtime very important. Some people have a hot tub, but Kelli and Barry decided to buy a dry sauna for their house last winter. Winter isn’t Kelli’s favorite time of year, so having a dry sauna at the house must be just like Heaven to her. Kelli has already used it a few times this year. I think I’m jealous. Kelli and Barry have a place in the country, and it is their sanctuary. In the summer of 2019, Barry put up a sun shade at their house, and bought a hammock to hang from the sun shade frame. Kelli has been enjoying both a lot. The hammock is a great place to read a book or just relax. Kelli works hard and plays hard, so being able to relax is a really important part of life.

Recently, Kelli’s bicycle met with an unfortunate end, when it fell over in the garage and made its last brave stand against the wheel of Kelli’s vehicle, which was too tall for her to see the bicycle laying in her path. It was a really sad day for Kelli, because she loves to ride her bicycle. Barry felt so bad for her, but it gave him and his mother, Jennifer Parmely a great idea for Kelli’s birthday gift, so they looked them over and picked out a pretty blue bicycle for Kelli, which she was given this morning. She loves the new bike, and has already taken it for a spin, thanks to our having no snow at the moment. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Susan Griffith is a Client Development Executive by trade. She works for Blue Cross Blue Shield, but there is so much more to Susan than that. Like her mom, Debbie Cook, Susan likes to cross stitch. She is currently working on a special picture for a friend’s babies. Those baby cross stitch patters are so cute, and I just know it will be beautiful when it is finished.

Susan is an avid reader. She finds reading to be very relaxing and informative. As with most adults, there is likely not much time to read in her busy day, but because the family loves to go camping, I’m sure she finds a little bit of time to do more of that, while everyone is hanging out in camp. Nevertheless, reading isn’t all they do while camping. Susan and her husband, Josh own several horses, and they do a lot of riding. Their girls, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith are excellent equestrians, as is Josh. Susan, being a city girl, is learning, and becoming more comfortable with each ride.

The Griffith family was able to get a lot of camping in this year, and that gave Susan time to do another of her favorite pastimes…rock collecting. I had no idea Susan loved rocks, but is is something a lot of people do. Susan tends to look for a specific rock, called a wishing rock. This was something I had never heard about, although I have seen them. When she told me about the wishing rock, Susan’s daughter, Katylyn encouraged me to look it up to see what it was exactly. I did, and I found that “a ‘wishing rock’ is a beach stone with a single perfectly unbroken stripe all the way around the circumference of the rock. For a rock to qualify as a true wishing rock, there can be no breaks in the white quartz circle. Most of us have seen striped rocks, but to find one with just a single perfect line is not easy.” So, I found out something new, thanks to Kaytlyn. The Idea is that if you find such a rock, your wish will come true. Of course, like wishing on a star, we all know that the “wishing rock” can’t grant wishes wither, but they are a very unique, and really very pretty stone, so I can see why they would capture Susan’s eye. They are truly beautiful. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Moore loves to go camping in the Big Horn Mountains, and takes his family up there often. They hike the area in search of rocks and artifacts. Steve is an outdoor kind of guy, and is in his element when he is in the great outdoors. It’s not that Steve can’t do other things, but the great outdoors is just where he feels most at home.

Steve and my niece, Machelle Moore have two sons…Weston, who is 20 years old; and Easton, who is 16 years old. Of course both boys drive these days, and anyone who has ever owned a vehicle knows that they need occasional maintenance and repair. Most of the time, a vehicle can go a long time before needing repair, but for the Moore family, lately it seems like every vehicle needs something. Steve has been quite busy with multiple maintenance projects of the various vehicles. Unfortunately, while Steve can work on vehicles, he really hates working on vehicles. He has fixed brakes and rotors on the truck he and Machelle own. Then Weston’s new truck needed so work done. After that Easton’s car needed a power steering pump. And just when he thought he was done, Weston’s truck needs work done on the steering and tie rods, because the tires are wearing fast. Then, Steve and Machelle’s other truck needs some work in that sale department, because it’s a little squirrely on the road. Their Tahoe needs the same things as Weston’s vehicle. It’s not as bad as Weston’s, but they need to get it done before they have to get new tires too. They fully understand that vehicles need work, but it would be nice if things to happen one thing at a time. Thank God, that has been the way it was, or Steve might have been worn out completely.

In between all the mechanic work, Steve and Machelle have been able to get fire wood this summer. They have been getting wood for Machelle’s parents, LJ and Debbie Cook too. This year they were able to get everybody enough wood to get through the winter, even enough for LJ to hang out in the garage tinkering on his projects; and for them to hang out by their fire pit too. Steve is a great son-in-law, a great husband, and a great dad to his family. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Adelaide Sawdon is a sweet little girl with lots of personality. She learned the fine are of making faces for selfies very early on, and she is quite good at it. Really, it’s all part of her humorous side…which is the main side of Adelaide right now. She loves teasing, and making everyone around her laugh, and then she grins and acts as if she didn’t do a thing…or sometimes she looks at you with her “Gotcha” face, and laughs hysterically…and you know that “it’s on!! Adelaide is ready to get you good.

Like her Aunt Kellie, who Adelaide loves very much, she has an infectious laugh. It could be from spending time with Kellie, who has such a great sense of humor, and wouldn’t have to teach Adelaide the ropes…she could just be herself, and Adelaide would learn the ropes from that. Every day is a learning experience for Adelaide. She has parents, Jason and Jessi Sawdon, who are both very smart, and enjoy teaching their daughter things. Everything from school work to silliness, because they both have a great sense of humor too. Adelaide loves to do silly things, but she loves to dance too…especially if it involves twirling around in her favorite…a full skirt. Of course, I don’t know of any little girls who don’t like to twirl on the dance floor.

Adelaide has great cousin-friends too, Ethan and Aurora, who are both great friends to her, and then she also has Mackenzie, who lives in Laramie, but this year will get to visit quite a bit. Mackenzie and Adelaide are close in age…just a year apart, and so they share the same interests. Adelaide has her cousins in Michigan too, with whom she got to go camping this summer. She was very excited about seeing her cousins. They camped by Lake Michigan, with a beautiful view of the Mackinac Bridge. I’m sure the grownups really enjoyed the view while relaxing at the campground, but my guess is that Miss Adelaide only cared about spending time playing with her cousins. Of course, what child doesn’t love to go swimming or playing in the water. None that I know of. I’m sure that Adelaide and her cousins had an absolutely wonderful time camping in Michigan. Today is Adelaide’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my grand nephew, Jake Harman married his wife Melanie, everything changed for him. He his the jackpot that day, because Melanie is the perfect life partner for him. I have never seen him happier than at that time…if you don’t count every day since, because with Melanie as his wife, life just keeps getting better every day. Jake and Melanie are probably pretty close to polar opposites, and that is exactly what Jake needed. Melanie can always calm him when he gets stressed out. She’s been able to do that from the start of their relationship. Jake has always been more high-strung, but since Melanie came into his life, he seems…well, at peace. Melanie has that effect on people.

Melanie is the mother to three beautiful children, Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx, and they feel very blessed to have her for their mom. Melanie makes life fun. The children are encouraged to laugh and play, and even be noisy. Many parents just want their kids to be quiet, and I’m sure there are times when Meanie and Jake feel the same, but just as often, they love to see the children laughing and playing rambunctiously. Still, they are sweet, well-behaved children…a credit to their parents. She also enjoys making their home special for her whole family. Her creative ideas are just beautiful.

Melanie and Jake are active in their church, where Jake is a youth pastor. This year, after things had settled down from the Covid-19 pandemic, and because a Vacation Bible School, or church camp were out of the question, they were able to take a small group on a short camping trip to the lake for a few days. They had a great time, and the youth appreciated getting to do something new, when so much distancing is the norm.

Melanie has made a wonderful home for her family, and she is loved by all who know her. Jakes whole family loves her sweet ways, and they way she has improved Jake’s life and filled it will love. I know that the rest of their lives will also be blessed years of growth, harmony, and love. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I asked my brother-in-law, LJ Cook’s daughter, Susan Griffith to tell me what he has been up to lately, and she said that one thing her dad is really good at is gardening. That came as a surprise to me. I guess I just never thought he was the gardening type. Nevertheless, people do surprise you sometimes. LJ is especially proud of his tomato plants, cucumbers, zucchini, and asparagus. He has his garden set up, using technology, to water itself, which takes care on one step. Still, there is a lot more that goes into getting a great garden. The soil has to be the right mix, and that isn’t easy. And then there are the weeds. Pulling weeds is the pits, but somehow, LJ’s garden never has weeds. Susan and I don’t seem to have that knack. I guess it is a talent that only certain people have.

When LJ retired, he wanted to set up his garage into kind of a man cave. It can be a necessity when a couple spends all day together, no matter how long they’ve been married. LJ likes to go out to the garage and do his own thing. His wife, Debbie makes quilts and such, but his kind of crafts won’t really work in the house. He can build things, weld, and fix anything that’s broken. I suppose people would call him a jack of all trades. That also makes him very handy to have around when things break down. LJ got his wood splitter running well again this year. His son-in-law, Steve Moore, rebuilt the piston, and got all the lines squared away. Now, it runs great and LJ, Steve, and my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, with his son Tucker, have been splitting wood for the coming winter.

LJ and Debbie love to spend much of the summer months in the Big Horn Mountains. It’s cooler there, and because he grew up in the area, LJ knows the Big Horns like the back of his hand. His own family did a lot of camping up there during his childhood. These days the next generations of Cooks are camping in the Big Horn Mountains. One of the family favorite camping spots has a herd of elk that graze the hillside every day. The elk are far enough away, that they can’t see the campers, but with binoculars the campers can see them very well. Mornings and evenings are the elk can be heard bugling…a sound that everyone loves to listen to. Their daughter, Machelle Moore, and her family go camping with them often, but Susan and her family can’t always go. This year they did get to go and everyone, including my brother-in-law, Ron and his family were excited to see a moose walk right through their camp. Moose don’t usually like the interruption of their stroll, so everyone kept their distance, and kept the dogs away too. It was something new and different in camping. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Zoey Iverson is a bubbly, smiley girl who loves life. She loves her family, and especially her older brother, Lucas. During the school closing due to Covid-19, Zoey and her brother have been spending a lot of time together, but that’s ok, because they really are best friends…more so than most siblings, I think. I’m sure that it’s because Zoey has always made sure that her brother is included in things, even if it’s just brother and sister things, like learning to walk and play. Lucas has Down Syndrome, and Zoey has played a big part in making sure that her is learning and excelling in all that he does. Nobody told her that she needed to do that. Zoey just knew.

Zoey loves the outdoors and camping. I think she feels free when she is outside, but especially when she is out in nature…not just in the back yard. This year when the family went camping, Zoey decided to build her own private shelter. I think she is very resourceful…of course, she may have been taught to do this by her parents. Nevertheless, I think it’s a very cool thing to do. A girl always needs a little privacy now and then…right.

Zoey loves all aspects of the outdoors, but playing in the water on a hot day has got to be right up there on her list. She loves playing with the family dog, and entertaining her brother too. With the parents she has, I’m sure that hiking, camping, fishing, and outdoor adventures are just par for the course. Zoey is really a very grounded girl. She may only be 5 years old, but she knows what she likes, and she knows how to do many of the things common to being in the wild, simply because her parents have taught her well. Zoey has been camping and fishing all her life, and she is a natural. Still, the thing that makes me smile the most, is Zoey’s love of life and everyone in it. She has a wonderful personality and attitude about everything…and she has a wonderful smile. All the best qualities in anyone. Today is Zoey’s 5th birthday!! How can she be 5 years old already. It just doesn’t seem possible, but here we are. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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