My grandnephew, Zack Spethman is a great kid, but he is quickly growing up and is hardly a kid anymore. Today he became a teenager, and is just about to finish his first year of middle school. That put him back at the same school and his brother and good friend, Xander. The share many activities, likes and dislikes, and their similar personalities. Football is the sport above all sports for them. They love to watch and play. It is a family tradition. The three Spethman brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac rising up through the ranks of school football. It keeps their parents busy with all the games.

Of course, football isn’t everything in their lives. Zack loves to climb mountains, play pool, and shoot guns…everything from air guns, to paintball guns, to real guns. He is a good shot and goes to practice with his family often, but he also knows about gun safety, and has passed the hunter safety course, so he can go hunting. Still, while hunting is a great adventure, the boys love combat competitions. They love to strategize the ways to dominate and “take out” the other team. Zack and Xander tend to pool their strategic resources to obtain the victory.

Zack’s dad, Steve Spethman decided to remodel the family kitchen earlier this year, and the boys got to learn about construction by helping their dad do the work. They were very attentive and meticulous about the work, and they learned a lot about the construction business. Their dad is a great carpenter, and a great teacher, so they learned from the best. They often work with their dad, and he is teaching them the value of hard work. Their parents have also taught the kids to be responsible for each other and for their little sister, and this is a job Zack takes seriously. He can often be seen encouraging his siblings and assisting his little sister, Aleesia. They are all very close.

Zack is such a sweet, kind young man, and we are all proud of him. He is loyal and loving to his family, and helpful to all in need. He is always there to give a hug or a word of encouragement. He is a good student, and is responsible. When he says he will be somewhere, he is. That was never more clear that when he was given an award for the best attendance in football last year. With his winning attitude and awesome personality, I know Zach will go far. He is a blessing to those who know him. Today is Zack’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Dustie Masterson is my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s only daughter-in-law, but she really seems more like Cheryl’s daughter to all of us. She fits in the family so well, that it’s like she has always been a part of it. She and her sisters-in-law, Chantel Balcerzak, Toni Chase, Liz Masterson, and Jenny Spethman, seem to have a great comradery, and whenever I see them, they are always laughing and joking around. For our family, Dustie was my nephew, Rob Masterson’s match made in Heaven, and of course, he feels that way too. Theirs is a close, loving relationship, with a heaping portion of joking, teasing, and much laughter.

Dustie is such a sweet, loving person, and so patient too. She works with her children, Raelynn, Matt, and Anna to make sure they do well in their studies. With the encouragement of their parents, they are all good students, who like school. Dustie is also very good with her nieces and nephews. She and my grand niece, Aleesia Spethman have a very special relationship. They are good friends, but Aleesia knows that Dustie is likely to tease her too. They have spent quite a bit of time around each other, so even at 5 years old, Aleesia pretty much has Dustie figured out.

Dustie recently changed jobs, and now instead of working at Albertsons in the fresh cut produce department, she is at Sam’s Club, and she couldn’t be happier. Her work includes cashier and she has her own department to take care of too. Plus, she has the added benefit of having her husband, Rob working at the same store, but in a different department. Nevertheless, they can drive to work together…occasionally. With the hours at Sam’s Club, they don’t always work the same shifts.

I think that one of the best aspects of Dustie is her curiosity…the drive to know more. Dustie loves documentaries, a love we share. She thrives on history, and I do too. I suppose it is the “mouse in the corner” aspect of it, in that we would both love to be that inconspicuous observer sitting in the corner watching as the events unfold. To be able to watch great historic events as they happened…in real time, would be of great interest to both of us. Dustie also likes to watch documentaries about how things work. The intricate functions of amazing inventions, as well as things like the weather and how it affects things around it. It truly is quite simply curiosity, and it is an aspect of Dustie’s personality that she has honed to perfection. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Butch SchulenbergSometimes in life, we are handed a blessing that takes us by surprise. Such was the case with Uncle Butch Schulenberg. Butch is my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s half brother, and since my father-in-law’s passing, I have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Butch, if only through Facebook. This is a fact that I’m sure my father-in-law would be quite pleased about. When my father-in-law passed away, we needed to let his family in Forsyth, Montana know. It was a hard time for all of us. Then, something very nice began to happen. I had connected via Facebook with Butch Schulenberg’s daughter, Andi Kay, and that has led to blessed connections with her brothers Tadd and Heath, and her sister-in-law, Jennifer, as well as Butch’s wife, Charlys and their granddaughter Savannah. Each of those connections is a sweet blessing in it’s own way, and I am so thankful for each, but the connection to Butch as been especially wonderful, because of the kind of man he is.

Butch reminds me a lot of my grandfather, George Byer. He is an encouraging sort of man who always makes you feel important. I’m sure his kids and grandkids can attest to that, because I’m sure that over the years he has encouraged them in whatever they chose to do. Of course, being encourage is not the only reason I feel a closeness to Uncle Butch. It’s because he has just welcomed me into his family. Unfortunately, for many years, there was not a closeness between my husband’s grandfather, Andrew Schulenberg, and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, but when they decided to set aside those feelings and reconnect, that was for them the end of a long era of being distant from each other.

It is strange, however, that somehow, I was unaware of the relationship the half brothers had developed. It wasn’t until I was involved in taking care of my father-in-law, that I even knew that they were in touch with each other at all. Of course, it is no surprise that these two men would get along so well, because I believe they are two of a kind. It is a hard thing to fully express the personalities of these men, but gentleness, kindness, encouraging, and accepting are words that all come to my mind. These are attributes that really leave a person no choice but to like the person who has them…and these men have, or in my father-in-law’s case, had these attributes. They leave a person room to be their own person, knowing that the people they respect, also respect them enough to trust their judgment, and celebrate their successes. Even if the accomplishment isn’t anything major, these men could make it feel like it was. Can it get any better than that? I don’t think so.

I’m not saying that I crave praise, or that it is the praise that makes Butch special, because that would be inaccurate. It is just the person Butch is that makes his very dear to me. Every interaction I have with him Butch and Heath Schulenbergreiterates just how much I like the person he is. At some point, we are hoping to meet up and have an actual face to face conversation, with several of us in attendance, an idea that I am very much looking forward to. Still, for now, I am glad to have connected with him on Facebook, because it has given us the chance to get to know each other. This isn’t Butch’s birthday or any other special day that I know of, but rather just a chance for me to tell this sweet uncle just how glad I am that our families have connected…because he has been such a surprise blessing, and one I feel very thankful to have received. Of course, that blessing is nothing new to those who have known Butch all their lives. Thank you Butch for being an important part of my life, and the lives of all the people you touch with your gentle kindness. We love you!!

Yesterday I attended the funeral of my 4th and 6th grade teacher. She was my absolute favorite teacher in grade school, and I had the distinct pleasure and was greatly blessed to get her as my teacher for 2 years, because she switched from 4th to 6th grades the year I got to 6th grade. The strange thing was that I didn’t know she was the same teacher…at least until that first day, because since her first husband had died, she had remarried. So the first time I had her, she was Mrs Clark, and the second time I had her, she was Mrs Lloyd. Her name didn’t matter to me, all I cared about was the fact that I got to have my beloved teacher for yet another year. Nevertheless, I still had trouble remembering that she was Mrs Lloyd now.

While Mrs Lloyd’s name gave me trouble, I had no trouble loving my teacher. She was like everyone’s second mom. The things she said to you were genuine…straight from her heart. She always looked for the best in her students, and she expected to find good traits in each and every one of her students. Because of her faith in her students, as well as her genuine love for each one, we all tried our very hardest to make her proud of us, and because of her encouragement, we knew that we could do whatever we set our mind to. Mrs Clark-Lloyd made us feel like there was nothing we couldn’t do.

The years since I was in 4th or 6th grade have passed quickly by, but my memories of my favorite grade school teacher have never faded. I could see her face in my memory all those years. I think we all have one or more teachers who inspired us to do our very best, and their lessons don’t fade as the years go by. Mrs Clark-Lloyd was one of those great teachers. Over the years, this tiny woman always seemed larger than life to me. She was like an angel of the human kind, who’s faith in God inspired her to instill faith in her students…faith in God and themselves.

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