sisters

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When I first came home from the hospital, after I was born, I found my sister, Cheryl Masterson waiting there. She has always been in my life. My first blessing of a sister, and I was hers. We would later go on to have three more sisters; Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock…three more blessings of sisterhood. What great blessings my sisters have been to me, and I know they all feel the same way.

Cheryl is a strong woman. She may not realize just how strong she really is, but I see it. She raised her five children, Chantel Balcerzak, Toni Chase, Rob Masterson, Liz Masterson, and Jenny Spethman, by herself. She was a single mom with an absent ex-husband. She didn’t sit and cry, she got up and went to college to become a Legal Secretary and is now one of the most valuable and indispensable employees at the firm where she has worked for many years. In addition to that, when our parents needed care, Cheryl lived with them and took every “night shift” helping them. She came home from work and cooked, cleaned, and gave them their medicines. She helped with their evening and weekend needs. We couldn’t have handled it without her. Of course, she didn’t do it alone. We all helped, but her living there gave us the evenings off to a degree, and that was a huge help, and we will be forever grateful to her.

Cheryl is a strong Christian woman. These days she spends many of her evenings reading her Bible and other Christian book. She takes the position of family matriarch, when came to her as the eldest sibling, when our parents passed away, very seriously. Of course, there is more to being the matriarch than being the spiritual head of the family. “A family matriarch is a woman who is the head and ruler of her family and descendants. She is usually older and powerful and has authority over family matters.” Of course, she doesn’t practice her position to the fullest extent of its meaning, because we are all grown and have families of our own. Nevertheless, she does try to be a spiritual guide, which is definitely what our parents would have wanted…a kind-hearted, loving Christian voice to keep the family on the right track.

Cheryl is an amazing cook and holds gatherings with her family just about every week. With five children, her family has grown quite large, and that’s the way she likes it. There is nothing that pleases her more than to have all of her children, children-in-law, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren surrounding her and enjoying a good meal and good conversation. And she especially love having all the babies around. These days, Cheryl’s family consists of five children, three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, fifteen grandchildren, seven grandchildren-in-law, and eight great grandchildren. All that makes for a rather large gathering…provided they can all make it over. People are all very busy. Today is Cheryl’s 70th birthday!! Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg is a full 14 years younger than his older brother, Bob…my husband. Oh, there were other siblings, but they were sisters, and for a little boy, that just isn’t the same as a big brother. Big sisters can be bossy, and for a little guy, four older sisters, can be overwhelming. So, having a big brother to balance all that out, is essential!! Even if they aren’t close in age. Bob was always good about taking Rob places with him, so he got to do lots of guys things from a young age. They still spend time working on this today.

When Bob and I started dating, Ron was six years old, and when we got married, he was seven. During our dating years, Ron was a regular fixture in our lives. We took him places with us and of course, when Bob and his dad, Walt Schulenberg were working on some vehicle, Rob was there, trying to help. I don’t know how much help he really was, but since he is a great mechanic these days, I doubt if he made any serious mistakes in the early days.

Because I seemed so much taller than Ron in those early years, he kept telling me he was going to get taller one day. Well, that was a given, because I am only 5 feet 2 inches. Still, at seven that somehow doesn’t register as being short. So, every time I saw him, he wanted to see how tall he was getting. When the day finally arrived, and he found himself as tall as me, it finally occurred to him that I wasn’t as tall as he thought. The look on his face was a mixture of victory and shock. Victory, because he made it, and shock, because “it” was not where he thought he would be, when he finally made it!! It was all I could do not to laugh, but I think it would have hurt his feelings too much. Nevertheless, he knew the truth, and he never brought the subject up again. Of course, he has long since passed my short stature. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! have a great day!! We love you!!

When a boy becomes a man, it’s hard not to reflect on the boy he was, and what things brought him to the kind of man he has now become. For my grandnephew, Matthew “Matt” Masterson, that means thinking about the fact that he was the only son of my nephew, Rob Masterson and his wife, Dustie Masterson. Matt had three sisters, Christina Masterson (who lives in Colorado), Raelynn Masterson, and Taylor Masterson. Growing up with three sisters, Matt often found himself needing to be a man among his siblings, even though he was still a boy. Nevertheless, Matt stepped up to the plate.

Christina wasn’t with Matt as much as the other girls, so he didn’t have to protect her so much. Nevertheless, they were sibling friends, and they love each other very much. Raelynn probably needed her brother the most. She is just a little over two years older than Matt, but when it came to the things she “just couldn’t deal with,” Matt stepped up…literally. Raelynn was afraid of ants…to the point that she didn’t want to share the same sidewalk with them. I get it. Bugs in general just have no business being alive, and yes, I know that they each have their purpose, but not in my world. Matt, being the brave boy he was, would walk in front of his sweet sister, and kill the ants, so the sidewalk was clear for he to walk. His sister, Taylor has a tender head, and her mom, Dustie, in a hurry to get three kids ready for school and such, just wasn’t gentle enough for Taylor. Enter Matt, he was very careful not to pull his sister’s hair, but he was still able to get it brushed and get her ready for school.

Matt is growing in the Lord too, and these days, he and his mom have been having mature conversations about God, politics, and other current events. Matt has a good grasp on what’s going on in the world and like his mom, he researches it from both angles to make a better-informed decision as to which side of the coin he is on. Matt will be voting in his first election this next year, and he is very excited to be able to participate in the election process. Matt has decided that he is a Republican, and that was after much research and making up his own mind. His mom very much encouraged, because she always insisted that they all do their own research and decide for themselves. Matt took that very seriously. While Covid messed with Matt’s high school career, he plans to get his GED and wants to go to college. He hasn’t decided on a course of study yet, but he wants college. He truly is growing into a fine young man, and his parents are very proud of him. Today is Matt’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Garrett Stevens has been a welder for a long time now. He currently works at EMIT Technologies, but he has been selected to take the certified welding inspector (CWI) test. The CWI is an extremely challenging test with only a 30% pass rate on the first attempt. Right got now Garrett is in classes to prepare him for the test, and he will be taking the test in August. When Garrett passes the CWI, he will be able to work more in quality control. This is such a great thing for Garrett, as it will help him move his career forward in the direction he wants to go. Garrett is a natural at welding. He learned his career easily, and is always striving to improve himself. He is never satisfied with the status quo, choosing excellence instead.

Garrett has chosen excellence in all areas of his life. He has always made his parents, Alena and Mike Stevens so proud. Garrett was their only son, and he is his dad’s son for sure. They love doing things together, even though they don’t get much time to do that these days, now that Garret and his family live in Sheridan, and the rest of his family lives in Casper. Nevertheless, whenever they can, Garrett and his dad get a little fishing in, even doing some ice fishing recently.

Garrett is a hands-on dad who likes to spend quality time with the two daughters, Elliott and Maya, that he and his wife, Kayla have. Kayla tells me that he is great girls dad, which isn’t too far out of his wheelhouse, since Garrett grew up the only boy of his parents’ three children. That meant that Garrett, while all boy, still understood little girls. He and his sisters, Michelle Miller and Lacey Stevens have always been close.

Recently, Garrett and Kayla bought a trampoline and he doesn’t hesitate to jump around and be silly with the girls. Kayla thinks it takes him right back to his childhood since he has such fond memories from the trampoline his parents got for him and his sisters. They had so much fun playing on that trampoline. Now he is making new memories with his girls, and they are loving it. It’s not just the trampoline that Garrett plays on with his girls. The go swimming, to the park, the bouncy game place in town, and running around in their own living room or their yard. The girls will have so many wonderful memories and games to pass down to their own kids someday. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Bowen Parmely is a very energetic little boy. He has two older sisters, Reagan and Hattie; and a younger sister, Maeve. I can’t say that Bowen always gets along with his sisters, but he would protect them with his life. That doesn’t mean he won’t pick on them, however. He thinks he is the only one who is allowed…typical of brothers. Bowen is an energetic boy with a smile that lights up his face. He always seems to have a secret joke that he keeps inside himself. Something that he finds very funny. That way, he always has something to laugh about.

Bowen pretty much loves anything his daddy, my nephew, Eric Parmely is doing, but Bowen especially loves tractors, and of course, his favorite tractor is Gloria, the family tractor. Living on a farm makes that a good thing. I’m sure that as he gets older, Bowen will be his dad’s right-hand man on the farm. Bowen already loves to help his dad with whatever he is doing, and he truly loves the animals. He is learning to ride horses from his mom, Ashley Parmely, and he is quite good at it. He would gladly spend all day on the back of a horse. In fact, he would even eat his meals or snacks there if his mom would let him. Sometimes he gets to have a popsicle on his horse, but I doubt if his mom would agree to dinner.

Bowen is a very helpful boy. He loves to help his mom with the cooking. Not every boy likes to cook, although lots of men cook. Boys usually don’t have the patience for cooking. There is usually too much prep work, and boys get bored, but Bowen enjoys it. I think Bowen just enjoys spending time with his parents. He likes doing the same things they do and learning from them. That is something they should really enjoy while they can, because those kid years go by so fast. Before you know it, they are all grown up and out on their own. Of course, that is still a little way off, but time really flies, so you should never waste it. Today is Bowen’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One thing I never knew about my niece, Kellie Hadlock, is that she is the Hadlock Family Fashion Source. Of course, I know that Kellie is very fashionable, but I didn’t know that she was a “go-to” fashionista for them. When her sister, Lindsay Moore comes for visits from Laramie or Kellie goes there for visits, the girls often find themselves in the bedroom in front of the mirror, going through the clothes and putting things together to decide what looks best to wear. Lindsay told me that when she goes through pictures from their conversations, she finds that they are mostly of herself in different outfits. She wants to remember just how to wear things and what goes together, do she can look as fashionable as Kellie always does.

Lindsay tells me that Kellie is her “go-to” source for fashion advice. I see Kellie every week at church, where she is one of the worship leaders. I know that she is very fashionable, but I wasn’t aware that her family counts on her fashion sense to make sure they look pretty and up to date. Still, I can’t say that I’m surprised, since I have found myself following Kellie’s fashion leads too. Lindsay was going through pictures and could that most of the pictures from their conversations were of herself in the styles that Kellie suggested. She wanted to make sure that she remembered the looks, so they could be repeated later. Lindsay says, “I can always count on her to tell it to me straight and that I will look cute by asking her!! She is truly the most fashionable in our family.”

Kellie continues to grow spiritually, and Lindsay has really loved their talks about God. They have started a new study, whereby they try to read a chapter of the Bible each week and then they have text discussions about it. The Bible is so much more than the words on paper. There are much deeper meetings, when people take the time to search them out. Lindsay says that these have been rich discussions in which they have both learned so much. The Holy Spirit reveals different things to each of them, which is of course, awesome!! Lindsay says, “She is a wonderful sister, daughter, dog mom, aunt, and girlfriend. She is a cut above, a true gem.” I totally agree.

Because the Hadlock family is spread out over Wyoming now, they have decided to meet in Wheatland this year for Kellie’s birthday lunch. Kellie really misses her sisters, Jessi and Lindsay, so her dad, Chris Hadlock suggested that we all meet in Wheatland which is the same amount of time away for each family. They plan to go this Saturday and have lunch at Guadalajara and have her little party for our family there. Kellie is so excited. Her whole family will be there, including her brother Ryan and his family. Then, the family here in Casper will have another birthday dinner for her on Sunday night. Kellie has chosen her favorite fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn. In the Hadlock family everyone gets to choose a birthday meal, or they can choose to go out to whatever restaurant. This year will be special for Kellie because the other girls could not come up for her birthday. So she basically gets two parties…well, actually three, because her boyfriend, Tim Thompson is in town from Gillette to take her out for dinner today. Kellie gets to feel really special this year, with all this attention, and I think she has earned it, because she is a very special girl. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Looking back on my life really, but focusing on Christmases, so much has changed. I remember Christmases with my parents and my sisters…simple times with just our family. After we opened gifts in the morning, the house would begin to be filled with the wonderful smells of the coming dinner. While things were cooking, we were playing with our various toys and such. While the day was relaxed and fun for my sisters and me, I’m sure it wasn’t quite as relaxed for my parents, who would spend most of the day with meal preparations. Nevertheless, they lovingly prepared for that dinner, and before very long, dinner was ready…and what a dinner it was. My parents could really cook. I can still taste all those wonderful foods.

Later, with the marriages of my sisters and me, the dinners became a little more complicated, meaning we would need to incorporate the in-laws’ side of the family. Still, it worked out, with a little bit of time management. We somehow managed to go both places and eat two meals…were we ever full sometimes!! With so many good foods, it’s hard to take a small sampling of them, and walk away from the rest. The day usually ended with us feeling like beached whales as we crashed on the couch or the floor. Nevertheless, the kids enjoyed the day, and really, wasn’t that what it was all about, after all. As the next generation grew to marriage age, we had to try to combine again…this time adding the new set of in-laws to the mix. That usually meant dinner at the grandparents’ homes with multiple generations all crowded into the house. Still, togetherness was the key to it all. Now, it was the great grandchildren we focused on, because they were the new little ones, and the excitement centered around them.

The next change that happened was when our parents went home to Heaven. That was probably the biggest change of all…and the hardest to accept. Now we have a big family Christmas party a week or so before Christmas or on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day we go our separate ways to celebrate with our own families. We are the great grandparents or grandparents now, and it’s our children who have to work around the in-laws in their own way. Some trade years, others go both places, and others celebrate on two different days to make it easier on everyone. Who could have known all those years ago, when this all got started, that Christmas could be so complicated.
With all the complicated holiday situations, it is important to remember the real reason for the season…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While God is all for giving gifts, He always hopes that we will remember the greatest gift ever given…Jesus!! Were it not for Jesus, we would be doomed. So, while the gifts are nice, and the food is great, let’s not forget why we celebrate this day…the birth of our Savior. Happy birthday Jesus!! Thank you coming to Earth and saving the world!!

Veteran’s Day is a day about sacrifice and honor, duty and dedication, war and peace, but the day cannot pass for me without thoughts of my dad, and how much I miss him. I know I am not alone in these thoughts, because my sisters also miss him, as well as the rest of our family. My dad Staff Sergeant Allen L Spencer, fought in World War II, serving as flight engineer and top turret gunner on a B-17G Bomber. Dad came home after his successful service, which is why my sisters and I are alive, and why he was a veteran. A veteran is someone who served in the military and came home after.

Soldiers really are a rare bread, created by God to go out and protect those who cannot protect themselves, even when those they protect don’t know or even care that it is a soldier who has watched over them, their borders, and their homes. The sacrifice a veteran gave was not about dying, although they will do that if it is what is required of them. The sacrifice of a veteran is being away from their family and friends. Some veterans miss out on their babies being born, their wedding anniversaries, weddings of family members, and so much more. They don’t know most of, if any of the people they are protecting, but they go anyway, because they are needed. Lives depend on their loyalty.

These men and women deserve our respect and that is what today is all about. It is a day to remind our veterans that we are grateful for their service, and happy that they were able to return to us and to their family members. War is a horrible thing, and no one really wants to be so far away from home fighting in a war they didn’t start, and one they wish hadn’t ever taken place. Unfortunately, evil exists in our world, and because it does, soldiers are a vital part of our security. God knew that soldiers would have to be people of honor and dedication, with a strong sense of duty and love for their fellow man. They would have to be people of courage and bravery…able to bite back the fear that dwells all around them. God knew the kind of people they would have to be…heroes. And that is what every veteran is, was, and always will be…a hero. Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day to honor those who have given so much to keep us free. Thank you all for your great service. God bless you…every one of you.

My grandnephew, Matt Masterson is very quickly becoming a man. Recently, Matt has been looking for a job. Matt likes to be a help to his family, and since he is the only one of the kids that drive, he is really good about taking his sisters, Raelynn and Taylor wherever they need to go. He offers to take them to get food, drinks, or anything else they want to do. He really enjoys having them in the car with him, unless he has a lot on his mind.

Unfortunately, with driving comes the possibility of accidents, and while Matt has not had an accident that was his fault, he has been in two accidents, and on the last one, Raelynn was with him. Matt is so supportive of his sisters. After calling his parents and the cops, Matt came back to make sure Raelynn had her water and helped her through the panic attack she was having. No one was hurt in the accident, but Raelynn was still scared. Matt just took control. He had her sit down, and talked her through it, making sure that she stayed focused of the positive side of things. Matt is such a great brother to his sisters. They depend on him for many things, and Raelynn says that she can tell that he is going to be an “awesome dad one day too, when he decides he wants kids.”

For now, that is down the road a little bit, since Matt is only 17 years old. For now, Matt has been looking for a job! He really wants to be able to help out. Not many 17-year-old kids are interested in being a contributor to the family finances, so that is cool. Even things like buying his own clothes and other supplies can be helpful. Clothes are expensive. Matt is looking forward in life, planning his future. He may not know exactly where he is going right now, but he focused on making good decisions and staying on the right track. Even though it’s summer, Matt’s been sleeping in less and making an effort to be nice to people and get out and do things more! That’s a big job in this Post-Covid-Lockdown world. Today is Matt’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Katie Balcerzak has been a part of our family, since she married my grandnephew, Keifer Balcerzak in 2015. Together they have two beautiful children, Reece and Aysa Balcerzak. They have been so blessed with two happy, smiling children, who bring more joy to their lives than they could ever have imagined. Reece was born in 2017 and Asa was born in 2021. Now their family is complete. They love doing all the fun activities, like sports and such. Reece is trying different things like t-ball, and while that may not be the sort for her, Katie and Keifer encourage her to give it a shot. They are good parents…always encouraging their kids and each other.

I liked Katie from the first time I met her. We have a few things in common, mostly that we both have sisters, and no brothers. It can make us feel unsure about having boys. While I didn’t have boys, I had three grandsons and only one granddaughter. Katie had a daughter first, and then her son. Either way, for a girl with all sisters, even if she had nephews, having those boys is a bit of a culture shock. Nevertheless, you adapt, and Katie has adapted beautifully. In fact, the love she has for both of her children shows all over her face. It’s just beautiful.

Katie has always been very close to her sisters. The bond they have reminds me of my bond with my sisters. There is something about a family of sisters. Girls think alike. They like the same things, and they like to share their hopes and dreams. The bond between sisters is like a best friend, but much closer. That is the bond Katie has with her sisters, Kellee Schuerman, Martha Simkin, and Bernnie Steadham, have had since they were little girls. Whenever they are together, you can see their love for each other by the smiles on their faces. There is a closeness, comradery, and sisterhood, that is forever. Katie has had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful family, and parents, Vicki Jammerman and Thad Davidson, who taught her and her sisters to be loving, nurturing, and kind people. Their parents taught them good values and it shows in their lives.

When Katie met Keifer, it was love almost immediately. They were young, but they knew that they would become a couple, and grow a family…and that is exactly what they did. They two sweet people were meant to be together. Theirs is a match made in Heaven, and it grows more and more beautiful with each passing day. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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