compassion

My niece, Kayla Stevens has been spending her time studying for her degree in social work. I haven’t had much experience in that field, but I can tell you that Kayla has a heart for it. Her dream job would be in the school system, and after listening to her talk about a program that is dear to her, you can have no doubt that she will be an excellent social worker for children. When someone has a real heart for something, it simply bubbles out of them as they talk about it. Their excitement about it can not be contained. That is what I saw in Kayla the other day at my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s house.

Kayla and her husband, my nephew, Garrett live next door to Cheryl, and all of Cheryl’s little grandchildren love to go visit Kayla and Garrett. They would be over there all afternoon if they could. I knew that Garrett loved kids…he has all his life, but you don’t know if his wife would tolerate them because they are his cousins, or if she genuinely loves them too. After listening to Kayla, I can say that there is no doubt that she loved kids too. I knew they wanted kids, so of course, she loves kids, but it is often different when they aren’t your kids. Many people have no real patience for other people’s kids. That is not the case with Kayla, however. She genuinely loves kids, and she genuinely wants to help them. For that reason, and from listening to her, I know that any school district would be extremely blessed to have Kayla working with their kids…she’s awesome!!

This past weekend marked the completion of Kayla’s college education, as she received her Masters Degree in Social Work…graduating with honors, a wonderful thing to show for all her hard work and perseverance. We are all so excited for her and she begins her new journey. I know that success will follow her wherever she goes, and that any employer would be very blessed to have her on their team. She is kind and caring, and very good at what she does. We are so proud of all you have accomplished. You are going to have a great future in social work, and your clients couldn’t be more blessed. Your heart for kids and for those who need help is amazing. Congratulations Kayla!! We love you!!

Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner, is just as athletic as she is. They love to hike, ski, snow shoe, and a variety of other activities together. Last September, they hiked the Colorado Trail, which culminated in 14,000 foot peak. Jennifer told me that it was pretty difficult, and since that is quite a bit higher than the highest hike I have made, I can only imagine. From what I understand, Brian did very well with it, however. Maybe the fact that Brian is a pilot has something to do with being able to acclimate to those higher altitudes. Brian is retired now, but he spent a number of years flying for Wyoming Medical Center, where Jennifer is a nurse.

While Jennifer likes hiking more than bicycling, the same cannot be said of Brian. When we decided to take a group hike, Brian went off ahead on his bicycle. He crisscrossed all over the trail we were on, but oddly we only saw him once while we hiked. Brian and Jennifer love to spend time on the mountain, and a while back, they came into a sweet deal. They had been using a friends cabin, in exchange for keeping an eye on it, and since he hadn’t been back to Wyoming to use it in quite some time, and had the need for some money to pay medical bills, he offered to sell the cabin to Brian and Jennifer. And they jumped at the chance. Now they spend as much time as they can, at the cabin, fixing it up and just enjoying it. It is going to be really nice when they get it done.

Jennifer has been so happy since she met Brian, and we are all very happy for her. They really make a great team. He is a kindhearted and compassionate person, and that has been a blessing over the past few years, especially when the family lost their dad, Walt Schulenberg. I don’t know if his compassion has to do with his years of flying Life Flight or not, but I tend to think that he is just a very kind person, and he understands the needs of those around him. It is a wonderful trait to have. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

IMG_6310Over the years, many people have done all they could to create a world of peace, but is that really possible? I don’t believe it is. There is always a nation or group of people who have something they don’t like…whether it is politics, religion, boarders, or any number of other reasons. Periodically there are groups that try to find a way to promote peace. Some try to do so through protests against war, which is not very effective, because the protests are seldom peaceful themselves, but they do get publicity. Others try to appease the enemy, which also doesn’t work, because it is viewed as a show of weakness and compliance, causing the enemy to feel empowered.

When I was in high school, a singing group came to the school to perform for us. The group was called, “Up With People.” Their purpose was to unite the world through charity and song. It’s a noble effort, and in the Hippie Generation, of which I was a part, it all seemed possible. Of course, it wasn’t…not really. That effort ended, and another cause began, and failed as well. Oh, don’t get me wrong, people were helped, lives were changed, and everyone felt like they had made a difference. I suppose they did, but not in the area of world peace…which is, I believe, a myth. I think we as people traveling through life on earth, can help each other, donate funds, be kind, and reach out, but to make a world where there is no war…a world of peace on earth…no, I don’t think it is possible in this age…or any other.

I’m not against humanitarian groups that try to help those in need. I believe that we as humans should be IMG_6309compassionate and willing to help as needed, but the reality is that we must also understand that while we can help a current need, or even some in the future, we cannot stop the evil and hatred that exists in this world. There will not be peace on earth in the way that people think it can happen, because there are too many differences…differences of opinion, beliefs, rights, wrongs, and desire, not to mention agendas. No singing group, protest, or humanitarian effort will ever make it so. I guess that in the end, all we can do is try to create peace in our own little corner of the world and pray that it multiplies so that it affects those around us, and not get so upset when we can’t find a way to create world peace, because that is an impossible feat for the human race.

Rae & Dustie13680642_1770284973211045_1463273896826347529_nMy grand niece, Raelynn Masterson is turning 13 today. Turning 13 is an exciting, mixed up, trying time in that persons life, but Raelynn…or Rae, as she is known to her family, is taking it pretty much in stride. She has always been easy going, and maybe it’s that style that lets her make a smooth transition into the teenage years. The journey from child to young adult is filled with ups and downs, but Raelynn doesn’t seem to be too shook up about it…unlike her mom, my niece, Dustie Masterson. Dustie is having a bit of a hard time believing that her first born…while no longer a baby, yet always her baby, is growing up so very fast. Dustie calls this by far their “biggest adventure” yet. I think that any parent of children over the age of 13 knows exactly what Dustie means. I don’t think any parent is truly ready for their kids to grow up.

imageRaelynn is the big sister to Matt and Anna, and younger half-sister to Christina, who lives in Colorado. For some time now, Raelynn has been the “little mom” to her younger siblings. She is helpful to her mom and dad, and doesn’t present them with a ton of drama…unless her younger brother and sister provoke her, that is. She is so motherly sometimes that her mom has to remind her that in reality she is not the mom, but that often happens with older children. She is a kind person too, so I’m sure that keeps sibling relationships on an even keel. Many people really have no ability to empathize with others, but Raelynn is compassionate and has an understanding of people that surpasses her years on this earth.

These days Raelynn is into science and boys…and not necessarily in that order. I suppose that might be viewed as an odd combination, but it works for her. The Science Zone is a really big deal here in town, and she loves going there. They even have summer classes for the kids. Dustie signed Raelynn up for three this year. The first one was a Dissection Class, and is definitely the one Raelynn likes the least…probably because of her love imageimageof animals. The second class was on Water, which she really enjoyed, but it was the class where she was able to help the instructor with the animals that really did it for Raelynn. When her mom picked Raelynn up, she was excitedly telling her that the Iguana and the Science Zone doesn’t like anyone, but really took to Raelynn. She was so happy about that. Raelynn loves to read, and is keep a journal, which is seriously private, of course. Raelynn is such a sweet girl, and a great blessing to her family. Today is Raelynn’s birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

27016_394747284000_6877317_nThey say that girls often marry a man who is much like their dad, and that seems to be the case with Jessi and Jason. Both Jessie’s dad, and Jason are police officers, but that is only one of the similarities between these two men. They are both serious pranksters, which Jessi tells me reminds her a lot of her dad and her grandpa, my dad. Of course, it is apparently pretty easy to tease Jessi, because she is pretty gullible and believes anything Jason says. For that reason, he never misses an opportunity to try to trick her. I would imagine life in their house is pretty comical.

Another way Jason is like my dad, Jessi’s grandpa, is that when it comes to cars, foreign is simply not an option. Of course, there are several people like that in our family. Most of us really believe that it is best to buy American, and that is Jason’s thought too, but there is another reason for him too. Jason was born in Michigan…just 20 minutes from Detroit. I doubt that someone could be born and raised in that area and not know the importance of buying American made cars.

There are many sides to Jason. He has degrees in engineering and fire science, and also has his pilot’s license; and yet he knew that his true calling was to be a Highway Patrolman. He loves what he does, and of course there is more to being a police officer Jason the pilotthan giving tickets. Jason is the lead Crash Team member in our area, and my kids can attest to the value of that. He was the first one on scene at an accident involving my son-in-law Kevin’s dad. It was such a relief to Kevin and Corrie to have Jason meet them at the edge of the scene and tell them that his dad was ok. He was caring and yet thoroughly did his job on the accident. That is how he handles every accident he deals with…with compassion and professionalism. As Jessi says, “God definitely has special people in mind for every job and this is no exception.” I have to agree. God does place the right people in the right job, and Jason is the kind of person that you want to see after you have been in an accident.

Jason loves kids, and there will definitely be children in the future for Jessi and Jason, but for now he likes to do things with the other kids in the family. On Labor Day weekend, when the family went up to my sister, Caryl and her husband, Mike’s cabin at Seminole Reservoir, Jason took every single kid…10 all together, for rides on the RzR. They all have an amazing time. Jason will never pass up the opportunity to share these kinds of things with a child. He has a very soft heart when it comes to kids.
Jason and Aurora
Like most people, Jason has a nickname. Because of his red hair, they call him Red, Ginger, and a few others that the guys at work have stuck him with. If they tell you to call him one of those, he will probably know exactly who told you to do it. They might think they got away with something…but they didn’t. Jessi says she had no idea that being a redhead was such a big deal, and maybe that’s part of it, but I think it goes back to that sense of humor and a little return teasing, because of all the pranking Jason has done to others in his past. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

In July of 1976, Bob and I made plans to take a trip to Yakima, Washington to visit his great grandparents. My grandparents wanted to make a trip to Cascade, Idaho to visit some family there. Bob and I decided to take them to Cascade, and another family member was going to pick them up and bring them home when they were ready. My grandfather was 83 years old at the time. He would live 4 more years before he went home to be with the Lord. My grandmother was 67 years old at that time. She would live 12 more years before she went home to be with the Lord.

While he was 83 years old, my grandfather was still pretty sharp, but there were things that worried him some. My mom told me to just do our best to put him at ease if he got nervous about any of the trip. This trip was interesting to say the least. We were in my 1968 Plymouth Fury III, and while it could comfortably seat 4 adults and two children, it was…well, snug. We had a car seat in the center front and a car seat in the center back. I know that you aren’t supposed to have a car seat in front, but there was no such law or requirement in 1976. My grandparents just took it all in stride, and the girls were very good, so while it was a bit tight, it was a wonderful trip.

The trip was going quite smoothly, and we were all enjoying ourselves. My grandparents proved to be very pleasant traveling companions. Most of the trip went uneventfully, but there were several occasions when my grandfather thought we might be on the wrong road. Bob was so kind to him. He would pull over, and get out the map. He would show my grandfather where we were on the map, where we were going, and the road we would take to get there. Grandpa would immediately feel more relaxed, and the trip would continue. This happened several times, but Bob always handled each event with kindness and compassion. Grandpa was also worried at one point about whether or not we needed chains for the tires, but Bob again put his concerns to rest, and our trip turned out beautifully all the way to Cascade, Idaho where we dropped them off and continued on to Yakima, Washington.

About 4 years later, my grandfather was in the hospital…his last time in the hospital before he passed away. Bob and I went up to visit him. It was a pleasant enough visit, under the circumstances, but the thing about that visit that I will never forget is that while my grandfather’s memory was going, and he really thought I was the nurse, he knew exactly who Bob was. They talked about that trip to Cascade, Idaho, and I could tell that while it seemed like such a little thing to Bob to ease my grandfather’s worried mind, it had meant much more to my grandfather. It was an unforgettable act of kindness.

When our children are little, we don’t know who they will grow up to be. We hope they will be responsible people, who will be there for those who need them. We hope they will be the kind of people who will leave this world a better place than they found it, but when they are just little, you don’t know. You try your best to raise them in the way that will make them successful and responsible, as well as capable of handling whatever comes their way. As every parent knows, children do not come with instruction manuals, which leaves their parents on uncharted waters. So you do your best and pray that your meager ability is enough. My prayers were answered in abundance. My children and grandchildren are the best. I am truly blessed.

Of course, the child has something to do with who they turn out to be as well, perhaps even more than we do in the end, and that is when they can become truly amazing. My girls amaze me every day. They have grown into compassionate, caring people, who help others in a selfless manner. I could not get the things done that I need to do, if they were not there for me, and willing to help me with the many important things involved in caring for elderly parents. Many things would not get done, or would be done poorly, without them.

I think that the way a child handles caring for their grandparents is a good indicator of how their own parents can expect to be cared for when their time comes. If that is true, I know that my daughters and my grandchildren, who have also all pitched in to help with their great grandparents, will be loving and compassionate to me and my husband. I just hope that I can stay healthy and active enough to make it a very long wait for that needed care. Nevertheless, I know they will be there.

As I write this, my children, grandchildren, sister and sisters-in-law, have taken over the load, so that Bob and I can get away for a 4 day weekend in Denver. I am so blessed. My family is the greatest in the world, and I want them to know that I love them more than words can say.

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