Duty, Sacrifice, and Honor1There once was a time when things like duty, sacrifice, and honor meant something. People were thankful for the service of our armed forces, who were willing to give all to ensure the freedoms we have in this nation. Sadly, these days, so many people think that our freedoms are somehow an infringement on the rights of others. They feel like freedom should be controlled by a select few…namely our government. I can’t figure out why they can’t understand that when the government controls your freedoms, you are no longer free. That’s living in a dictatorship, and not in freedom.

For as long as the United States has been able to form it’s own military force, we have been a people who fought for the rights of all people to think, speak, and believe as they choose…whether anyone else agrees with them or not. It was our soldiers who fought to give us those rights, and oddly enough, when people did not have the right to decide how others should think, there was far less hate and racism in this country. I realize that when people are allowed to worship, think, speak, and write as they choose, there will be disagreement with their opinions, and that’s ok. Disagree with me all you like, just don’t try to tell me that I have to think the way you think, and I will show you the same courtesy.

Our military personnel go to war whenever asked, whether it is a holiday or not. They can’t stop defending us and other nations just because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. They get up and they fight on. They don’t have the luxury of a 9 to 5 job, but rather must be prepared to battle well into the night and even into the next day, because the enemy doesn’t take a break. There has never really been a time in our history when things were in more turmoil. There are those, even within our own borders who hate this nation and all it stands for. Those people have no honor, no sense of duty or pride in our nation, and they certainly don’t understand the sacrifices our military personnel made to give them the freedom to be so hateful toward those who are just stating their opinion.

Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day set aside to honor those who have fought for this nation and others. It is a day to remember those who gave their lives that others might live in freedom. In reality, we owe them so much more than we could ever repay, but most of all, we owe them respect. Veteran’s Day is a day to tell our veterans just how much they mean to us. Be sure to thank a veteran today, and to all Veterans, Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Bertha & Elsa School DaysIMG_3567There is a popular song by Miranda Lambert called “The House That Built Me.” It is a rather bittersweet song about visiting the house where she grew up, in and effort to find herself again. I suppose that it is very common to lose sight of self as the years go by, and life gets busier and busier. Sometimes we just find ourselves needing to regroup, to a degree. Of course, in the song, she really just wanted to get back in touch with her beginnings. I can understand that, since my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom Collene Spencer, and I took a trip back to Superior, Wisconsin, to reconnect with family members, the town, and the house where the first years of my life were spent. Of course, unlike Miranda Lambert, we didn’t ask to go into the house, although it might have been fun to do so, and unlike Miranda, I didn’t grow up in the house, but rather the first couple of years of my life. Nevertheless, standing there in front of the house, I found myself thinking about the home movies I had seen of our time there. They were good memories, and it felt good to be there to see that house that represented my beginning.

My great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren and her sister, Elsa Schumacher Lawrence had the opportunity as teenagers to travel from their home in Fargo, North Dakota, to Minnesota. While there, they were not only able to see the house where they were born, but the actual room they were born in. Things are much different these days. Most people are born in a hospital, rather than at home, so we don’t necessarily think of the room we were born in, because there is almost no way to know exactly which one it was years later. Bertha and Elsa had such an amazing opportunity…one I suppose many of us might envy, if we thought about it very long. The time they lived in, combined with the kindness of the new owners, allowed them to take a small glimpse into their past. It was an event that affected Bertha so much, that she wrote about is years later. She too, had been a young girl when the family moved away, but unlike me, she was able to step back into the world, and feel what it was like in those early years.

No, I suppose you can’t really go home again, unless like my younger sisters, your parents stayed is the house where you grew up. In that case, while you have grown up, married, or moved out on your own, you still have grandpa spencer014IMG_3519those close ties to the home of your youth, and with it, the memories and values you grew up with. Yes, my older sister, Cheryl and I do have those memories too, we have still found ourselves wondering what our lives would have been like, and who we would have been if our parents had stayed in Wisconsin. I know things would have been different for sure, but in reality, all the changes that have gone on in our lives have turned out to be the best life for us anyway. So maybe, going back to a lost childhood home really makes little difference in the grand scheme of things afterall.

Spencer Schumacher Family cover photo2Each of us looks back on our life at one point or another, to reflect on all that has transpired, and the roads traveled to get to the point at which we have arrived. One of the things that often becomes the subject of such reflection, is just how we knew that our parents loved us. Sometimes people mistakenly talk about all the things their parents have given them. Of course, these people are usually teenagers, who have gone beyond the innocent understanding that love isn’t about things, but have not yet reached the point of adulthood, when they will understand that it is often the life lessons taught rather than the gifts received that they value the most.

In reading my Great Aunt Bertha Hallgren’s journal, I noted that one of the ways she felt the love her father had for her was that he made sure that they were in school, except when they were ill. Even though they lived further away than any of the other children at the school, their attendance was the best by far. The children were wrapped tightly in warm blankets for the journey on those cold North Dakota winter days, but they were in school nevertheless. Great Grandpa Carl Schumacher knew the importance of an education, and was determined that his children would have one. Whenever I hear of a student who wishes their parents wouldn’t make them go to school, I am reminded first that they are very young and naïve, and second that they will Our Familysomeday feel differently about that whole situation.

I know of many parents who have given their children a car and other such expensive gifts, and people seem to feel like they must love them very much. I suppose that could be true, but at the same time, the child has been cheated out of an important life lesson…earning the things you want. When my girls were preparing to drive, I told them that they would need a car, a driver’s license, gasoline, insurance, and a job to pay for all that. I suppose that there were people who saw that as mean on my part, but it is one of the life lessons that my girls look back on fondly. They never felt cheated, they felt empowered. That was the gift they were given, and to this day, they are both strong, capable women, who have raised their children in much the same way. I’m not saying anything against parents who did give their kids a car and such, but rather that this was the standard we chose to give our children. I’m also sure that parents who gave their children a car have taught them other life lessons that their children look back on when they reflect on the love their parents have for them. That is the privilege each parent has…to raise their children in the way that they see fit.

I look back on my own parents, and the standards they set for us, with a sense of pride, because they were great parents. We were never given a car…probably, that is why I did things as I did, but we were give much love, and guidance. We had chores to do, and we helped with cooking. We can all cook and keep house to this day too. We didn’t get to eat out all the time, so when we did, it was a special treat, but I never felt like that IMy Family was cheated in any way. My parents showed their love in so many other ways. They raised us to be respectful, and as a result, respected. They showed us love, no matter what, and as a result, we know how to show love…no matter what. They showed us that just as God forgives us for our sins, we need to be forgiving of others and especially not to let the sun go down on your anger. They showed us unconditional love. We knew that nothing we did was going to lose us the love of our parents. Oddly, that made us try harder to do good…or maybe that was their plan all along. Looking back on those times makes me realize that the best way to show you love your child is to live it. Teach them values mixed with compassion, and they will try their hardest to live up to the standards you set for them. That is a real show of love.

We all have people that we look up to. Someone who inspires us…makes us want to be better than we are now. For me that person is my dad. My dad was the type of person who worked hard every day of his life to give his family the best he could. He sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet in the tough times, and he never complained. He just took in all in stride. The love he felt for all his girls, my mom, my sisters, and me, was first and foremost on his mind. He was a person we could go to in times of trouble, worry or fear. He never looked at us as if we were being silly or ridiculous, but took our problems seriously, and did his best to help us with whatever it was.

My dad was not a man to cuss or to do anything that displayed a lack of self control. He was very slow to anger and quick to forgive. He hated injustice and even more, he hated disrespect, especially of the rights of other family members. He taught us to be the same, especially stressing that we “never let the sun go down on our wrath” or be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. We knew from an early age that to hold a grudge was wrong and only hurt the person who held a grudge. I can’t say that I have never held a grudge, but his words are something I have never forgotten and have tried to live by.

My dad had a kindness about him. He never liked it when people were mean to other people. He didn’t care what faults people had. They were people and should be treated with respect. He taught us to speak respectfully to others, especially our elders, something that we often see sorely lacking in today’s society. He taught us not to judge, because we had no way of knowing the whole story behind someone else’s actions.

There are many ways that I know I have not measured up to what my dad was, nor will I ever be able to. My dad was a rare breed. A gentleman in a time when they often didn’t exist. Kind when the style was to ridicule and tease others. Loving, when I was being rude, insesenitive, and unloveable. And mostly a friend and helper in time of need, but always, always a dad, who could be counted on in every way a dad should be able to be counted on. A dad who is there to guide, protect, teach, and nurture his children. I really miss that…love you Dad!!

Today is May Day. Most people think of it as just the first day in May, but to me it has a different memory. It goes back to when I was a little girl, and a tradition that my mom taught us and continued until she didn’t drive anymore.

Every May Day, my mom would help us, her 5 daughters, to make May baskets. We used construction paper to create beautiful and unique baskets. We decorated then with hearts and flowers. Then we filled them with candy. We were ready.

The fun was about to begin. We would take the baskets to the neighbor’s houses, and hang them on the door knob. Then, we knocked on the door and ran to hide. The neighbor had to come and try to find out who left the basket. We would try our very hardest not to get caught. Part of the fun was receiving the candy from a secret friend.

These days no one I know does May baskets anymore. And people don’t dare trust candy unless they know for sure who gave it, so if we did, we would have to make sure they found us. I guess May baskets, like so many other traditions, will live only in my memories now. Sad isn’t it that so much has changed in our world.

Today I went to my grandson, Josh’s track meet and had a wonderful time. Josh did quite well in his events. It was his first traveling athletic event, and he was very excited. I look forward to the rest of his meets over the course on the next month. I want to congratulate Josh on his great events.

While the track meet was the reason for our trip, I did find myself annoyed at the number of people who refused to listen to the announcer and show at least some measure of respect for the school that hosted this event. There were not so many requests, but it would seem that lots of people believed that they were not required to follow the rules. There were the number of people who would not get out of the way…as there always seems to be, but there was one couple that particularly annoyed me.

When the announcer asked that no food or drink be on the Astro-turf field, as a spill would cause permanent damage, this couple stood right where they were, him with his soft drink, refusing to move. And in addition to that, the people behind me commented that they shouldn’t be so worried about it, because it couldn’t damage it any more than all the “blood and spit” from the football games. I found that equally annoying, as I’m quite certain that the acid in that pop would cause more damage than blood.

That is not really the point anyway. They assumed that the school’s rules were not worth their obedience. No wonder our kids act like they don’t have to follow the rules. This is the type of example some parents set for their kids, and others who just happen to be able to see them. When we travel to another school for events, lets at least have the decency to show respect for the school that invited us.

Most of us go through life accepting the things that happen to us as being out of our control, but that is seldom the case. The things we focus on, think on, and work on, are the things that will most likely come to pass in our lives. Good or bad, these choices we make will shape who we are and who we will be. I heard a saying a while back, and it has stayed in my head ever since. I don’t know who said it, but it went like this, “It is not important what you are. It is important what you are becoming, for that you will be.” How very true that is. Many people have found themselves in an ugly place, or doing things they wish they weren’t, but have you ever noticed that it is the ones who made their way out of the pit they were in and turned their lives around that you remember?

We must decide what we want to be…what we want to stand for…what legacy we want to leave behind, and then start that journey right away…today. Take that first step, because it is the moment that transformation begins. We are all multi-talented people, though many of us don’t know it. We might be quite good at one thing, but have several other things that are in us that we didn’t even think we had a talent for, and one of those things might just be the thing we are called to do. We all have a purpose here. Life is not just random events.

Some of your talents might just shock you. Mine did. I knew that I had a talent for teaching, and though I didn’t do a lot with that one, I still have the ability to help my grandkids with their homework, like I did my girls. I have also discovered that I have a talent for nursing, which I was quite thankful for as I moved into the elder years of my parents and in-laws, and while I would not choose this profession, I could do it if needed. And of course, there is my ability to be an insurance agent. I have always said that insurance was my niche, and that is true. I understand it completely…it makes sense to me, but as I have been writing my blog posts, I realize that I have a talent for writing. Now that is a shock to me, because I remember my very early attempts in grade school, and I was convinced that I had no imagination.

My daughters have encouraged me to write, and for that I am grateful, because I kind of like this creative outlet. It has allowed me to, as my boss would say, move over into the other side of my brain, and I have found that side to be a very peaceful place. So to that degree, I guess I am on my way to being something different that I ever thought I would be. A creative person…a caregiver…a teacher…a writer…or whatever else God has for me. No, I’m not completely there yet, but after all, it isn’t important what I am, it is what I am becoming, for that is what I will be.

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