My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been a gentle soul. From the time she was just a little girl, she had a heart that always remained soft. The rest of my sisters and I always said that Allyn was “always good.” She didn’t get into mischief, like the rest of us might have. I could never figure out how she did that, probably because I had a mischievous side, and did get into a few scrapes I life…oh nothing serious, but enough to not be the sister who was “always good.”
Over the past couple of years, many people have been seeking the Lord concerning all that is going on around us. My sisters and I are no different, and we, having been raised to know the Lord, find ourselves pressing into Him in these times. My niece, Jessi Sawdon was telling me about my sister’s mothering ways with her children, and I can tell you firsthand…our parents are very proud of her. Jessi says, “One of the things I love most about my mom is her ability to always seek the Lord first. She’s instilled that in us kids and I can see all of us following this same path. And that’s exciting. Like the rest of our family, she had a strong faith, but dang, when times are tough, she is the first one there to help us make the right confessions and remind us of what the Lord has promised us. She makes everything look effortless, even though I know it’s not. She used to tell us to let Gods light shine through us. It will make everyone wonder what we’ve got, and they’ll want it too. She does that every day. I don’t think there is a better gift than her (even though it’s her birthday), and I feel so blessed that she has been such a strong spiritual leader in all our lives and has never wavered.” Allyn’s second daughter, Lindsay Moore agrees with Jessi, as do her son, Ryan Hadlock and youngest daughter, Kellie Hadlock, that Allyn has grown in her walkwith the Lord, and well as in her work and home life. There is no greater tribute than that, if you ask me.
Of course, one of Allyn’s most precious roles, these days, is that of Grammy. Grandchildren are one of the greatest gifts your kids can ever give you, and Allyn has embraced the title of Grammy with joy and happiness. She has four grandchildren on Earth, and two waiting for her when she gets to Heaven. All are loved and are an amazing blessing to Allyn, and to my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock. They so enjoy the time they get to spend with those precious kids…which as any grandparent knows, is never long enough. You always want more time, especially when the grandchildren live in a different city. Thankfully, for Allyn and Chris, they two that live in different cities, are still in Wyoming, so visits are more frequent than if they lived in a different state. This way, they visit often, and Allyn loves that. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I am so proud of my niece, Lindsay Moore. She has grown so much in the Lord, really all her life, but even more so in recent months. Lindsay and her husband, Shannon have been through so much over the past few months. They were expecting their second daughter, when they found out that she would have some health issues to face. They prayed and began to trust God for the solution. Then their daughter Hallie Joy came early, and soon after her birth, Hallie went home to be with the Lord. It was a devastating loss to the family, but Lindsay and Shannon stood firm in their faith, and continue to serve the Lord.
Recently, her pastor’s wife asked Lindsay to speak at a women’s event at their church, Harvest Church in Laramie, Wyoming. The women’s event was about being a champion. I was so glad they decided to record the entire event, because while I could not be there, I was able to watch the event and Lindsay’s presentation. Prior to the presentations, they held a praise and worship service and then the men in the church, Shannon served the women dinner and dessert. It was a lovely gesture for the men to show such care for the women. Then, Josie Calderon, the pastors wife gave a presentation on being a champion and then, Lindsay gave her presentation which was called “Being A Champion In Every Circumstance.”
Lindsay had been preparing for her presentation for about a month, and I know that parts of her presentation were very hard for her to share. She spoke of her daughter and her homegoing, and I know that was one of the hardest part of her presentation. Nevertheless, My sister, Allyn Hadlock, Lindsay’s mom said, “Lindsay was so peaceful and relaxed throughout her presentation, and she really connected with her audience. Lindsay’s message just ministered to me and I’m sure to everyone there! Lindsay had this peace that passes understanding! I was just so pleased and proud of her. It reminded me of the verse in 3 John 1:4 that says, ‘I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth.’ The Lord has helped her and brought her forward into a whole new place of peace and joy and He is showing her how to be a champion!” I would have to agree, and you didn’t have to be right there to be ministered to, because the Lord brought Lindsay’s peace and the spirit of her message out even when you were listening on YouTube.
Lindsay has spoken some other conferences for work and she used to teach at South Dakota State University, so she has some public speaking experience, but this was something different. This was Spirit Filled, this was the Lord speaking through Lindsay to get His message out to the people. The women’s event had a presentation from a boxing school in Laramie and they showed how to train and prepare so you can knock the enemy out before he can get to you. They had boxing gloves they gave away for a couple of prizes to remind us of our status as champions every day and also small boxing gloves that would be like on a key chain, but the real message was that we all need to stay in the word and in prayer, because God is the true answer to all our needs. The conference was amazing for all of the women who attended, and Lindsay has shown such amazing strength. She really is a champion, and God will see her through the tough times in her life. God has great things in mind for Lindsay, and for Shannon too, and they will see little Hallie again in Heaven. We are all so proud of them both. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a blessed day!! We love you!!
Some birthdays are harder than others. Some people don’t want to turn 30, 40, or 50 and beyond, but if they think about it, those years are a blessing. The really hard birthdays…are the ones after a loss. Many of us have been there, but my grand niece, Siara Olsen has been through more in one year than anyone should have to endure in ten years. Of 2020, Siara says, “In 2020 I lost: My beautiful baby boy Alec Todd Olsen, my amazing and loving best kitty in the whole world Forrest, my husband and the beautiful family he brought with him, an energetic and loving puppy, and my home. This year could’ve broke me, and crushed my spirit but it didn’t. It caused me to gain so much faith in God, faith in myself, strength in all my other relationships and pride in myself for learning patience, trust, and most of all resilience. This year broke me down to nothing, but I have all the faith in the world this new year will grow me into the woman God created me to be. Cheers to 2021.” I can’t imagine all she went through. This was a year that could have broken Siara. She may be short in stature, but she is a strong in faith. I’m not saying that Siara didn’t feel the pain of loss, but she knew that she had to pick herself up, and go forward. Her son would expect no less of his precious mom. The year has been a long hard journey, and some days are much harder than others. Still, I am amazed at how this little girl can be such a strong woman.
Siara is a beautiful woman with a heart of gold. She puts a smile on the faces of all who know her. I suppose that is a big part of what makes it so hard to watch her go through this. Nevertheless, through it all, Siara proved that she is truly is an overcomer, and expects this coming year to be a very good one! After Siara’s divorce, she was able to move in with her parents, Chantel and Dave Balcerzak, where she received the loving care she really needed, but as I said Siara is an overcomer. Recently, she moved into her own home, and is starting over with a good attitude. She misses Alec very much, but she knows she has to go on. Her life didn’t go the way she expected, but Siara will always make the best of what she has. That is part of her strength!! That is the amazing part of her strength!! She is enjoying decorating her new home, and her new little kitten which she got from her aunt, Jenny Spethman. Siara doesn’t give up or get into a pity party, even though she has reasons to be sad. Siara overcomes and that’s is what makes her a strong woman. Siara is a person who always tries to keep herself on the sunny side…her grandparents, Allen and Collene Spencer would be so proud of her!! We all are!! I know it’s going to be a great year for her!! Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday Siara!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I picture my niece Toni Chase, her sense of humor comes to the forefront of my thoughts. Toni doesn’t just have a sense of humor, but really she has a sense of silliness. She loves the funny side of dealing with people, and is very quick witted. If there is a joke to be made about something, or if someone does something embarrassing, Toni is quick to laugh about it. She doesn’t mean anything by it, she just finds the stupid things people do funny. I can’t blame her for that, because watching someone trip over their own feet, or get going too fast and find out too late that they can’t stop is pretty funny…as long as they don’t get hurt, and of course, Toni wouldn’t think that was funny either.
Toni and her husband, Dave love to travel. They have been to a lot of places, and they like to hike, which is something I can really relate to. There is nothing quite like walking back into an area that cannot be seen from the main road. The undisturbed beauty of it all is so awesome. I feel, much like I’m sure Toni and Dave feel, very blessed to be able to get to those amazing places where most people never go, and see places that most people never see. I think hikers are a rare breed, and people who don’t hike, just don’t understand us, but I think that people who don’t hike just don’t know what they are missing. I’m sure Toni and Dave feel the same way. As does her son, James, who has gone on many of these trips with them. When Toni married Dave, it opened up a whole new world for her, because before that she really didn’t travel or hike much. I would have to count that among the blessings of their marriage.
For Toni, the most important thing in life is family. She has 3 sisters and a brother, and you will often find them doing things together, especially her and her sisters. Recently, they decided to get together and get matching tattoos on their wrists. These were pretty cool, because they were of the word Faith written in their mother, my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s handwriting. I know Cheryl wasn’t sure how she felt about this, because she doesn’t really like tattoos, but she was touched that they wanted to use her handwriting, and that it was of something that they all feel is the most important thing to have in life.
While Toni, does have a sense of silliness, and might go in on things with her family that her mom might not always love, she nevertheless, has a heart of gold. She works hard to make a good life for her family, and that is the mark of a great woman by any standard. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
In years gone by, many mothers were also their children’s teacher. I suppose that when it is just the way things are done, you step up and do what you need to do. Back when families first headed out west, there were no schools and no teachers, and yet the children still needed an education. The one difference they had then was that many, and in fact most of those girls who went through school ended up with a teaching certificate. It made sense, when you think about it. Many people were heading west and schools were scarce, so parents needed to know how to teach, so kids could get a proper education.
Soon schools popped up in every town, and homeschooling began to move into the past…or at least not in the forefront of life anymore. I’m sure there were still homeschooling moms out there, but they were no longer the norm, or even slightly common. In fact, for a time, moms who homeschooled their children were considered odd, and maybe even fanatical. In reality, they were probably very sensible, capable, and yes, wise parents…and quite misunderstood.
As more parents began to disagree with the curriculum that was being taught to their children, homeschooling has been making a comeback. These days, not every mother received a teaching certificate when she graduated, but then, school is more advanced these days too. It isn’t that mothers these days can’t teach, it’s just that teaching is complicated these days and in order to be a good teacher for their children, most of these parents have to learn the lessons they teach, along with their children…or just hours before their children anyway. It is a big job, and one many people don’t feel like they can do. I suppose that is why people still put their kids on public schools, even if they don’t agree with the teachings. Many households need two incomes to make ends meet too, so homeschooling isn’t always an option. Nevertheless, I have a great deal of respect anyone who chooses to homeschool…mixed with understanding for parents who don’t.
I don’t know very many people who homeschool their children, in fact I can only think of two right now. One of those, my cousin, Elizabeth Nordquist is a first time homeschooler. She is the mother of two beautiful little girls, Addie and Meadow. I’m sure she is very capable, but she expressed feelings of jangled nerves too, at the first of the school year. It is a big task to take on, and one that the parents don’t step into lightly. Many people don’t always understand the reasons why this choice is made, and I’m sure that the reasons are as varied as the parent and student. Some students just do better on a one to one basis, while others aren’t morning people and so that early schedule is tough. And for some families, it is totally the curriculum, and the many clashes between the family’s faith and the secular teachings that are so popular, and yet very often harmful to the students. Whatever the reason for the choice, it is up to the parents as to how their children should be educated, and I think is takes an amazing, and very special person to make the choice to educate their children themselves when the public school system disagrees with their own goals for their children. I also think that as time goes on and more people disagree with the secular views, we will have more homeschooling families out there. Sometimes getting your child’s necessary education is all up to you.
As our children grow into adulthood, it can be difficult to look at them in this new light. Sometimes, it takes much longer to realize that they are grown adults than perhaps it should take. It isn’t that they are immature, its just that we can’t get past the picture of that child that has lived in our minds all these years. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be your own children either. Nieces and nephews can seem like they just shouldn’t be grown adults…and yet they are. That’s the way I feel about my niece, Jenny. As a girl, Jenny was a teeny little princess type with a cute little smile. She rarely took anything seriously, but rather just liked to have fun. I know, pretty typical of a little girl. Yes, she was typical of little girls, but Jenny was going to become something different…a faith filled woman.
Now, Jenny is grown and has a family of her own. Somehow, it has finally hit me I think, what a very special woman she is. She has been through so many things in her lifetime, and yet the woman I see before me is strong and charming at the same time. She doesn’t let the sadness or problems she faces, define who she is, but rather turns to God to lead her everywhere she goes. As a teenager, like most teenagers, she just didn’t seem like she would have become this strong faith-filled woman, but now, here she is. It is an amazing transformation.
I think that you can tell what a person is really made of as you watch them walk through the trials in this life. Some people are broken by the trials, and some stand firm in their beliefs, and strong in their faith. Nevertheless, you wish there was a way to keep them from going through any trials at all, because you love them. You can’t protect them from everything they will face in this world, but you can equip them with the necessary tools to see them through the trials of life…namely God. Now, as I see Jenny posting on Facebook about how happy she is to be going to church to worship the Lord, it makes me feel very proud of how much she has grown in the Lord.
The person Jenny is today is a direct result of the prayers of her mother. My sister, Cheryl, like the rest of my sisters, my parents, and I, have prayed over our children. I can’t imagine trying to walk through this world without prayers being said over the journey, nor can anyone in the rest of my family. Jenny too, has learned that life must be handled with prayer, and that while sorrows may come, God still has a plan for you, and that miracles still happen today. Those prayers brought Steve into her life, so they could walk the road of faith hand in hand. Jenny knows that God really does still answer prayer today, and when He heals your broken heart, it is in the most wonderful way. And she knows that while sorrows come, God will restore what is missing in their lives, back to them again. Today is Jenny’s birthday. While life has not always been easy for her…Jenny has come through it all, her faith intact and her joy complete, because she has her miracle. I’m very proud of her. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a blessed day!! We love you!!
As time marched forward toward the United States entering World War II, many people were afraid for the lives of their sons. My dad’s mother, who had two sons, was among them. Things were really heating up while my dad was working in California, and the family really wanted him come home. The word was that any young men 18 to 20 years of age were going to be deployed by Christmas 1942, putting my dad and my Uncle Bill squarely in that group. It was a fearful time in our country. People didn’t want their sons to go to the war, but they knew that Hitler had to be stopped. The things Hitler was doing were so horrible that everyone knew that he must not be allowed to take any more countries over. He was completely insane and dead set on controlling the whole world. They knew that while the fear of sending their sons into battle was almost more than they could possibly bear, it was also going to be the only way to stop this horrible man.
The letters from home to my dad in California were filled with worried questions. They had heard rumors of the impending deployment back home in Holyoke, Minnesota, and were desperately hoping that what they heard in that small town was wrong. They questioned my dad, as to why he thought he would be going so soon. Uncle Bill and Dad had both decided that if one was called to go, the other would join up too. I’m sure they were thinking that if they went together, they could watch each other’s back. In the end, that was not to be, because Uncle Bill had flat feet and a hernia that needed to be repaired. It was a devastating blow to him. He wanted so desperately to be there with his little brother. He had always been there for him, to protect him, and it seemed impossible that he couldn’t do that this time. He was scared for his little brother. He even tried to get him to take welding classes, because he mistakenly thought that my dad wouldn’t have to go if he was working in the shipyards. I don’t know if dad took the classes or not…he did at some point, because he worked as a welder for many years…but if he did, it did no good, because they needed men in the war zones, and that was more important to the country. In the end, he chose the Army Air Force, and went to the war, did his duty to his country and the world, and he lived!!
For some time now, I thought that the main reason my dad’s letters home were always upbeat and positive was so that he could protect his mother…keep her from worrying about how bad things were. Now, after reading her letters to him, and the letters from his brother and sisters, talking about how worried their mother was, I realized that he wasn’t trying to keep her from worrying…she had already voiced those fears…she was already in the middle of serious worry, and now she was in the middle of praying that her boys wouldn’t have to go, and if they did…please dear Lord, take care of them and bring them home to her!!
It is hard enough to go into battle or to send your son into battle…to deal with the fear in your own heart…much less to know that your soldier was scared…and for the soldier, to know that your family is scared. Knowing my dad like I do, I know that he was in the process of pushing his fear back, putting his faith in God, and setting his mother’s worried mind at ease. He knew he could not stop what was coming, but the hardest thing to accept was that he couldn’t really stop his mother’s fears…no matter how excited, positive, or fearless he made his letters sound. And, that tore him up more than anything he would face in the war. The days leading up to, and during World War II, were filled with the worries and fears of a nation. The letters to the soldiers and home from the war, were carefully worded so as to try to alleviate the fears that could not be alleviated until the deployed loved ones were home again.
A few days ago, I received an email from a man named Cameron Von St James. He had read my blog, and knew from many of my stories that I have spent much of the last 7 1/2 years being a caregiver. It doesn’t matter what the illness is, when the need is serious, caregivers step up to provide much of the day to day care for those they love. It is a sacrifice that goes above and beyond what many people are able to grasp, and one that is rewarding beyond what most people will ever know. Cameron knew that story as well as I did, and he asked if I might share his wife’s story of survival with my readers.
Cameron’s wife, Heather was exposed to asbestos when her dad worked in construction. At the age of 36, just 3 months after giving birth to their beautiful daughter, Lily, they would receive the terrifying diagnosis of…Mesothelioma. No one knew what the dangers were back then. Sadly, that is the case with so many dangerous substances. By the time we know the dangers, so many people are already affected, but with new research, staying hopeful and positive and with much prayer, more people are beating cancer. It is my belief that our faith in God and His mercy and love for us is vital. I am so pleased that Heather has been blessed with a great victory over a type of cancer that almost always carries with it a death sentence.
Heather’s fight began at almost the same time as my mother’s brain tumor, and my cousin, Jim’s fight with Mesothelioma. My mother’s story had a happy ending in that her cancer was confined to her brain only, and had not started somewhere else in her body, which would have been much harder to cure. It is rare for a tumor to be found only in the brain. Her doctor, an amazing faith filled man named Dr Mills, told us that we were blessed in that hers was “just a Lymphoma” and it should be an easy fix. While hers could not be removed by surgery, it was a very slow growing cancer that was gone after 3 treatments, and after 6 more for good measure, she was done. She has been cancer free since January, 2007, and we give God all the glory.
Like Heather, my cousin Jim, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. His story would not have the happy ending that Heather was so blessed to have. Jim passed away in February 1, 2006…he was 42 years old, and he never knew how he was exposed to asbestos. He left a son, Cody, who misses him terribly, as do we all. While Heather’s story will not be able to help Jim, it is my sincere hope that it will help others like Heather and Jim, who have been affected by this terrible disease. Please watch Heather’s story and read Cameron’s Blog for Caregivers, and be sure to pass them on to your friends. It is the hope of the Von St James family that it “might raise awareness and support for people fighting illness, and the caregivers who fight alongside them.”
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.
Ten years ago today, my niece, Jenny married her husband, Steve. Through the years, I have watched these kids grow into wonderful people. I have known both of them for so long…Jenny all her life, and Steve since he was 12 years old…so I have seen the changes they have gone through. I must say, that when they were kids, I wasn’t too sure how they would turn out, but that is the case with most teenagers. They drive you crazy, even if they aren’t your own kids, until that day when you suddenly realize that they have changed into great people. When did that happen? How did I miss the change? Was I just not looking? It makes no difference really, because suddenly they are people you respect and want to be around. They have suddenly grown up and become the people they were destined to be.
The last 10 years have brought much joy and some sadness into their lives, but Jenny and Stave have weathered the storms, and have come back into the sunlight. And through it all, they never lost faith in God…in fact, their faith has grown and grown. We all go through things in our marriage and in our lives, but it is what we do with the changes that determines who we will become. Jenny and Steve have become stronger and closer through everything. I have no doubt that they will grow old together, because they were meant to be together.
Happiness has grown in the decade they have been married. Their smiles and laughter are so good to see. They have a great love of life, and are always doing something. From football and other sports with the boys to snowmobiling and target shooting, they are always on the go…something having children will do for you…keep you busy. But kids are also a blessing of years together, and being very busy just comes with the package.
A decade together. It is so hard to believe they have been married 10 years. It seems like just yesterday that they were planning their wedding. Time goes by so fast, and where once stood two kids, now stands a beautiful couple, who are a blessing to all those around them. They care about others, and it shows in all they do. Happy 10th Anniversary Jenny and Steve!! We love you both very much!! Have a wonderful day!!