Friday, January 21, 2011

My Uncle Bill

My Dad's older brother turns 89 years old today, January 21st. Uncle Bill has always been my favorite uncle on my dad's side. We didn't get to see him as much as I would have liked, but when he brought his family down to visit from Superior, Wisconsin, or whenever we went up there to visit, it was always very special.

My memories of our visits are too numerous to go into here, but one of the biggest is Cribbage. It was a game that my uncle loved, and I wanted to learn, so he taught me to play. We would play every time one of our families visited the other. We played for hours. I seldom won, because Uncle Bill was very good, and he didn't believe in "letting you win" a game. This made the victories very sweet. I would have known if he was letting me win, and I would have hated it. I learned the game very well, and I learned good sportsmanship, because you see he was a good winner and a good loser. When I won he made me feel like I had really accomplished something. We loved the game so much, that he even tried very hard to figure out a way to play by mail. That was back in the day before people had their own computers, so there were no online games. Try as we might, we never could come up with a workable way to play Cribbage by mail...unfortunately.

My Uncle Bill converted an old bus into a "motor home" for his family to travel in. Man, that was something! We loved to ride around in that, and since it would hold us all, it was the mode of transportation when our families got together. I remember one time, when we cousins were little, and we had gone for ice cream. There were about 5 of us little kids, including his youngest son, Jimmy eating at the table in the bus. Uncle Bill said, "The first one who spills, gets to lick it up." Well, it took about 1 minute for Jimmy to spill his ice cream...on the floor. So Uncle Bill, choking back a laugh said, "Well, lick it up." Jimmy turned several shades of green, and started to get down from his chair. Uncle Bill yelled through his laughter, "Eeewww, don't lick it up!!!" A very relieved Jimmy, watched as his dad cleaned it up. We all thought it was the funniest thing...including Jimmy, who was a big kidder himself, and always loved a good joke. (Jimmy passed away February 1, 2006, from Mesothelioma, and I will always miss his humor).

I remember one time when I was about 11 or so, my dad, my uncle and I were going somewhere while we were there. It seems like it was to a cabin he owned, but I really don't recall for sure. As kids, my sisters and I had been allowed to sit on Dad's lap and "drive" the car...or steer while he worked the pedals...something you can't do these days. I asked Uncle Bill if I could do that, and he said, “Sure.” So I was sitting on his lap "driving" and the car started to drift toward the ditch. I said, "Uncle Bill, the car is going toward the ditch!" His response was, "Well, you better get it back in your lane then." He was so nonchalant and I steered it back on the road. I learned to keep the car on the road that day. I'll never forget it.

My uncle has always loved genealogy, and it is he who sparked my own interest in it. He has traced our family back many generations, has many photos, letters and other family memorabilia that he has collected over the years. I have learned so much from him about my heritage. I will always be grateful to him for this fun, and challenging hobby. I'm still looking for more family information.

My memories of Uncle Bill will always be fond ones, of life in a very different time...a time I will always miss a little. Happy birthday Uncle Bill. I love you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I have moved

To my followers, I have moved my blog to a new site and I would love to have you follow me there. My new site is I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Being Judgemental

I read a tweet made by someone I follow on Twitter today, and started to consider the reasons we are judgemental. "When you judge others you don't define them, you define yourself." author unknown.

This quote started me thinking about why people judge others. We have all been guilty of it. Sometimes, I suppose it is because we are insecure in our own skin, so we judge others to make ourselves feel better. I often wonder if this is really where bullying comes from. I don't think bullies just hate everybody for no reason, but rather because they don't much like themselves. They bully because it makes them feel like they are bigger or stronger than others. And the "targets" they choose are always smaller and weaker than they are, so they are judging these people to be of inferior strength, and therefore in a position to make the bully feel better about themselves.

Another reason we judge, is because we have a preconceived idea of what people should be in order to fit the mold we are trying to place them in. This may or may not be intentional. In our jobs, we sometimes judge people to see if they fit a mold for a product we are trying to sell them. Other times we look at someone who is, say waiting on us in a restaurant, and cringe because they look different than we think a waiter or waitress should. Maybe we are right in these judgements and maybe not, but are we too quick to judge.

I know there are times when we need to judge others, if only for our own safety, but when we choose to allow our judgement of other people to define who we are in a negative way, we begin to see others only from the negative perspective of humanity that we carry inside of us. If we assume that all people who look or act differently than we do, are bad...then what does that make us?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Accepting People For Who They Are

Many people had yesterday off to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. As I was relaxing at home, I thought about the differences in people. We are all very different, and most of us would agree that being different is a good thing, but sometimes those differences can be very annoying, to say the least. When people don't share your core values, and each one feels that they are right or justified, arguments can ensue. Both parties can feel very strongly about their beliefs. So what is the solution?

Well, there probably isn't a solution that will be accepted by both parties, and I think we have to accept that. Sometimes we must agree to disagree, but along with tolerence, I believe we must have equal respect for the feelings of others. We all say things not knowing that they are hurtful to others, but I think that when we know they are hurtful, we should make our best effort not to say or do those things around that person. Does this violate free speech? I don't think so. I think it only adds compassion to free speech. Choosing not to say or do something in the presence of certain people so they are not offended. Is that really so very hard? It can't be made a law, except our own personal law, but it can be so easily practiced. I don't mean to say that we all need to tip toe around, just be somewhat aware. And on the other side of that coin, just because someone says something that offends you, doesn't mean it was aimed at you. A cute little saying in the movie "Miss Congeniality II" has always stuck in my head. It goes like this, "Everything is not about you!" How very true that is. In this "me, me, me" world, I think we have forgotten that little fact.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Road Rage

I'm watching a show on TV in which a girl was hit by a train because another driver, filled with rage pushed her car across the tracks. This was a fictional story, of course, but this could just as easily be a true story. We have all been guilty of road rage, whether we want to admit it or not. I recalled my own experiences with road rage, on both sides of the story.

I was going home for lunch one day as the snow was melting. I lived out in the country, and didn't often go home at lunch, but I had forgotten something that day, so I was in a hurry. As I was driving along, a car pulled right out in front of me. I swerved to miss him, and spun completely around in the road, due to the melting snow. I came to a stop, safe at last, so I got out of my car. He got out too, and said, "Are you alright?" My answer, "Yes...You aren't too smart, are you?" He meekly responded, "I guess not. I'm glad you're ok. Have a good day." Of course, I felt like two cents waiting for change, and I decided at that moment, that road rage was a waste of energy, and it tended to make people feel really bad...on both sides.

A few years later, I was sitting at an intersection. The light was red, so I was stopped. The light changed to green, and I started to proceed into the intersection. Suddenly another driver came through the red light right in front of me. I stopped, and as she came through the intersection, I observed her panicked face. Many thoughts ran rapidly through my head, but then I recalled the earlier incident, and I smiled and waved. The relief that flooded her face was all I needed to know that I had made the right move. Two people went their way that day with a smile on their faces, knowing that kindness is the better way.

Another time I was on the other side of that coin, in that I was the one who went through the red light. No accident occurred, but the man who had to stop because of me, followed me to the next light, got out of his car screaming. I tried to ignore him, but he wasn't leaving. I grabbed my cell phone, called my daughter, and rolled the window down a crack. He was still yelling when he realized that I was talking on the phone...I turned to him and said, "I'm sorry. What more do you want me to say?" He sort of, came to himself and realized what he was doing, apologized and left. I was shaking.

Just the other day, with the parking lot covered in snow, I was driving down the lane at Albertson's, when a girl came across 4 parking rows and in her white car, ended up right in front of me. I jumped, turned the wheel to the right, thankfully no cars were right there, and avoided her car. Again, our eyes met, and the relief on both faces was very obvious. We smiled...very relieved smiles, and went on our way. That was how my new year started. I felt thankful that it wasn't different, and thankful that we both left the rage out of the mix.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Me Time

My husband is bowling today, which means I get to have some me time. I love my husband very much, and those of you who have been married as long or longer than we have, 36 years, will understand that in a good marriage, there also needs to be time for yourself. I know that in most young marriages, it just seems like you can't get enough of each other's company, and those of you who know us very well, also know that we spend a lot of time together, but sometimes you both need time to be in your own head. Bob and I have been married 36 wonderful years, as I mentioned before, and we are very happy together, but we are each our own person, as those of you who know us can attest. Our lives are quite busy with jobs, family, care giving for our parents, and walking. I am a devoted Christian, and I believe Bob will be. We don't fight over our beliefs, as they are much the same, and he will always argue for the rights of Christians, when the law makers try to step on those rights. Our family is of the utmost importance in our lives. We are parents of two daughters each happily married for 17 and 15 years respectively. Our oldest daughter and her husband have given us 2 grandsons, and our youngest daughter and her husband have given us a granddaughter and a grandson. And all of our family and most of our extended family lives here. So you can see that our lives are very full.

In personal likes and dislikes, well we are different. He likes noise around him, like music and television, and mostly people, while I sometimes really crave the quiet, and that is hard to achieve when we are together, so the quiet "me moments" are a blessing for me. I am what many would call a bit of a "computer geek" and I enjoy spending quiet time on the computer (yes, my computer always has the sound muted...which I'm sure annoys my grandchildren), doing a multitude of things, from genealogy research to blogging to Facebook and Twitter, to crafts. I also love to read. These things are harder to do when the television is on and he is talking to me. So "me time" is very nice.

Now don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my husband, and we have much in common. We both love to hike and do so as often as possible. We also, bowl, but I'll have to admit he is more dedicated to that than I am. He is a great mechanic, and I can help with that, but thankfully I don't have to very often, because the whole greasy hands thing just doesn't appeal to me much. We also have long talks, and since they often turn to politics, I'm thankful that we agree 100% on that subject. And we love to travel, especially when we can add a hike or two to the mix. So you can see that we enjoy each other's company. So then why do I need me time?

Well, I think we can each bring more joy and happiness into our marriage when we take time to relax and re-group, and then when we are back together, we have more of ourselves to give to each other.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Read the Constitution...Please!!!

I was watching the news and once again, a government official was misquoting the US Constitution regarding the "church and state" issue. I wish people would take 5 minutes to really read the Constitution and not just try to make it say what they want it to say in order to keep God out of government. Nowhere in the Constitution are the words "separation of church and state" mentioned, they are however, written in Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. Many people think it came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson which said he would "keep the government out of the church" not the church out of the government. The amendment to the Constitution that everyone so often misquotes is below.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This does NOT say that we are to keep religion out of the government, it says we are to keep the government out of religion, just as Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter. There is really no way to keep our faith out of government, since the government is made up of people...of many faiths. But government, being a mix of people of many faiths, an entity, should not and really, cannot mix with religion. It is impossible, because the faiths are too different, and government cannot make them agree. Nor should it try. The main reason our founding fathers left England is that they did not want to be forced to attend the Church of England, which is what was going on. Government ruling over religion.

In my opinion, the religious beliefs of the people in our government have had some of the most positive effects on our laws, and it is only as we push God further and further out that our laws begin to be as corrupt as those of the communist countries. And isn't it funny that the churches have no problem displaying the American flag, the constitution, etc, but the 10 Commandments, nativity scenes, etc can't be on public property. I say put the Bibles back in school, and even read from the Quran. At least then, everyone will know what it really says.

And an addition from my friend Jim - One more thing, since all the founders kept diaries and almost all of them wrote in them what they said in the meaning of the constitution, and each related phrase to mean. None of them wanted anything outlawed as far as religion goes. The FIRST thing the new congress did was to pray a prayer "IN JESUS NAME!!". If they didn't mean for that to happen, they would have stopped it. I believe they all applauded?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Who's Fault Is It...Really

As I watched the memorial service for the Tucson shooting victims, my thoughts went back to all of the political blame rhetoric that has gone on since this shooting. This shooting was tragic in every way, and the loss of life unthinkable, but I think that the need to blame people other than those who committed the act is simply wrong. We all hear negative things said about ourselves and others in this life. Unfortunately, we don't all agree on who is beautiful and who is not, or who is doing a good job and who is not, or who has the right idea and who has the wrong idea, but we must agree that once we reach the age of accountability, we each know what is right and what is wrong according to the laws of this land and moral (God's) law, and the accountability for our actions lies with each one of us...and only there. It's like we are trying to transfer the blame upward, trying to find a final person who must say, "the buck stops here" in the hope of finding some way to make someone pay for this monstrous person's existence.

So often, we turn first to the parents. How could they not have known of the monster they had created? And perhaps they did, but people are made into what they are by many different factors, and this was, after all a man of 22, not a child, who could be spanked by his parents or sent to his room! Once a child has started school, the complete input control of the parents is over. They meet friends, who might be the type to get into trouble, they listen to the ideas of teachers, politicians, and many others. They watch television, play video games, and see the actions of others, but while most of us see and hear negative things, we still turn out ok. We would never commit the acts we saw in Tucson. So, how can we blame others for the acts of one? I don't think we can. And to try to blame a statement made 8 months earlier for something that happened now, is simply wrong. We have all heard negative remarks, from both sides, but when we make the choice to commit acts of violence against other people, we alone must carry the blame.

And while I'm at it, I would also like to comment on the way the memorial service was handled. I think most of it was a disgrace. This is not a campaign rally or a great photo opportunity. This wasn't a great chance to meet the president and his gang. And then to have a big reception line for the president and his gang was ridiculous, you are supposed to be giving condolences to the family, not the speaker!! This was to mourn those lost in this terrible tragedy. Cheering and whistling...really, and we call this killer calloused. There were families whose lives will never be the same and they came to this memorial service expecting to be comforted, not to have everyone around them screaming and cheering, because they got to hear the president speak. It was a disgusting display in my opinion and if I were the family of one of those poor victims, I would have walked out.

I think that they should have held a separate ceremony to honor the heroes of that day, who very much deserved the honor, to be sure, but not at the memorial service. That should have been a solemn service, and if the president wanted to attend, he should have attended in silence, showing his understanding (if he had any) and not his so called "great" speaking ability.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Be Honest, No Matter What

Recently I had the misfortune to deal with a couple of situations in which a person in authority lied to cover their own backside. I know that the natural instinct in life is to do whatever it takes to protect yourself, but when a person in authority lies, it is really inexcusable. People need to be able to trust those in authority. It is especially deplorable when a person in authority lies to our children. Children are looking for someone to model themselves after, to look up to, and when a person they trust lies and the child knows they lied, they begin to think that all adults are the same.

There were two recent situations whereby teachers/coaches lied to their students, and that especially angers me. We tell our children to listen to their teachers and be obedient in class, and when the teacher/coach is the liar, and our children are the ones who take the fall on it, or don't receive what they were told they would receive...well, it is wrong in every way. The children lose faith in the teacher/coach, the school system, authority figures, and adults in general. They begin to feel that they are not important, so adults don't feel the need to be honest. And to top it off, the same authority figure will "punish" in one way or another, the student for lying. If you are going to lie to the students, at least have the decency to expect the same treatment, and be big enough to let it go when they do lie to you. After all, what have you taught them? As a teacher, you have taught them not to lie as children, but when you reach adulthood...well, then it's ok.

The one thing we can take with us, no matter where we go, is our good name, or bad name, if that is what you choose to cultivate. If you destroy your good name by lying, you must work awfully hard to get it back, if it is possible to do so. The best thing to do is to protect your good name by never telling lies, and keeping your word even when it costs you more than you had hoped.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Do Kids Want From Us

My husband and I were at the mall last night for our evening walk, when I saw a teen aged girl wearing a t-shirt that said, "Discipline or Disappointment, Take Your Pick" on the back of it. My first thought was, "Well, how profound." But after thinking about it for a little while I began to wonder what our kids really want. I don't think you would see a teenager wearing a shirt like that one if they weren't trying to make a serious statement. This girl truly understood that without discipline in our lives, we are not going achieve our best self.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure that most teenagers won't admit that they need and really, want limits, but I believe that most kids do want to be good kids. I don't think that any child dreams of being in constant trouble, but without limits, rules and regulations, and discipline, kids will get into trouble. Now I know that many people don't like spanking, but there are many ways to discipline your child. I don't believe that "time out" is an effective method, but I think grounding works quite well.

In this world of bad influences, it is hard enough to keep kids out of the kind of trouble that comes from time spent with the wrong kind of friends, but when you add a lack of discipline at home to that mix, you are headed for trouble.

Was this girl a one in a million, I don't really think so, unless you are talking one in a million who tell it like it is. No, I think she is speaking for many other teenagers who are saying, help me be better. Make me behave. Help me achieve. Keep me out of trouble. Give me limits, rules, regulations, discipline, because all of these things, even though I might hate them at times, tell me you LOVE me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Sayings of My Dad

I was having a conversation with my cousin and his daughter on Facebook yesterday and my cousin told her part of that old story I'm sure everyone has heard, about how tough he had it when he went to school. You know the one about walking barefoot in the snow ten miles to school everyday...uphill both ways. It got me thinking about the funny things my Dad used to say. My Dad was always making us laugh with his goofy little sayings, and I have planned for some time to write them down so we wouldn't forget.

Dad was always a fan of big cars, and when I chose a much smaller one, he called it a Putt Putt. He would try to convince me that it would never last long because it was small. Every time I was over, he would ask, "Well, is that Putt Putt still running?" And then act shocked when I said it was. And yes Dad, it is still running, even now.

One of Dad's biggest delights was teasing his kids and grandkids. He used to chase us around and when caught you knew you were going to get his famous "whisker rub" because that was his threat during the chase. Now for those of you who don't know what that is, it is when he rubs his whiskered face due to the famed 5 o'clock shadow on your face. Now you might think that we would hate that, but once you got a whisker rub, every one of us would say, do it it again!!! Silly I know, but he just made it fun.

Many of the girls (and we were a family of few boys) had long hair. Dad would try to tug on our hair without having us see who did it. Of course, we always knew, and would usually "retaliate" by flicking him with our finger. Then as if in totally innocent shock, he would say, "You struck me!" I wonder why, Dad.

My Dad was not a man to cuss. His main saying for things that many people would cuss about was, "Dad burn it" and was used for many different things. Anything, in fact from something that annoyed him to something he was teasing us about. It was a phrase we grew to know well, mostly because he used it often to embellish funny things. Dad wasn't a man to be angry often, so "dad burn it" he had to have another way to use a favorite phrase.

My Dad was a very happy person. He couldn't see the sense in being mad all the time. Grudges simply have no useful purpose in life. I hope I can learn from his examples, to be perpetually happy too. And by the way, Dad also told us the story about walking ten miles in the snow, barefoot and uphill both ways, but he added that they used to hop a train so they didn't have to walk...but I'm told this part was true.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How Will I Be Remembered

When you are gone, what will people remember about you? Most people don't want to think about dying, and I don't either, but I do think about what memories people might have of me when I am gone. I think about the loved ones and friends who have gone before me, and the memories I have of them, and how I would compare. My Dad was a person who never carried a grudge and taught his children never to "let the sun go down on your wrath" which he got from the Bible, as God was the most important thing in his life, above even family, as I also believe God should be. My grandparents who were always giving to those in need and showing kindness to all, also come to mind. My friend Char, who would defend a friend to the very end, is another. So, what will people think of me?

I want to be a giver to those in need, because I have been blessed in so many ways. I have a good job with a wonderful boss, though he hates that word. I have a wonderful family who I love dearly, and I have the great blessing of knowing that I am loved back. I have a sharp mind, and I know the value of that, because my mother-in-law and my uncle both have Alzheimer's. I have been richly blessed, and if I can pass that along in charitable acts or other ways of helping people, than I will have maybe shown my gratitude to a small degree.

I have the ability to be sharp tongued sometimes, and that is something I don't think I want to be remembered for. I think I would rather be remembered for my sharp mind and maybe the ability to use it to benefit others. Maybe to be some kind of advocate for those who can't speak for themselves on some things. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a different job, but if I can help others within my job and my daily life, then maybe I will have a legacy to leave.

I do have the ability to be a caregiver, and I can only hope that in the future I may be able to do it with kindness and patience. Care giving can be very wearing on the caregiver, and there are times we lose our patience. I am very thankful that I have never physically lashed out, but here again, remember that I can be sharp tongued, so I would have to say that there are many ways to lash out, forgive me Lord. I am learning patience, but the lessons can take time to learn. I don't want to be remembered as an impatient, screaming daughter, who made the remaining years of her parents or in-laws miserable. Please help me to never let that happen Father. Rather I want to be remembered as a daughter who helped her parents and in-laws through their elder years by giving them respect and kindness and dignity.

And most importantly I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren, the Christian values I was taught as a child and continue to learn as an adult. There is nothing greater that I could pass on to them than the knowledge and wisdom that is contained in the Bible, and the importance of daily study and church attendance. I want them to know that the single most important thing they can do and teach their children to do, is to have a personal relationship with God and to personally know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There is nothing more important.

These are some of the things I hope people will remember about me when I go home to be with the Lord. What do you want to be remembered for?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Yesterday, another mass shooting took place in our country. Six people are dead, including a Federal Judge and a nine year old girl, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head and remains in critical condition. No, this is not a news bulletin, but rather, a question. Why? So many of these shootings take place in this country every day, that it hardly seems like news. My question is why? If you want to protest, must you do it violently and why if you want to kill yourself, must you take others with you. Now I know that in today's shooting, the gunman was not planning to kill himself, just others, but why? Because he didn't like how he had been treated or to show that he didn't like God...why?

I know that there are many things that go on in our country that people don't like, and we each have our own ideas of what is right and wrong, and what is important and not important, but I would think that we can all agree,, is important. And taking a life, is something you can't ever take back! Why do people do this!

It doesn't matter what your political views are, and I'm sure that many of you know that I am not a Democrat, but no one deserves to be shot at, except in war, and this isn't war. I pray for those injured and the families of all those injured or killed in today's tragedy.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Stress...a dirty word in every day life, and a very real health concern for many people today. Our lives are so busy, and often we don't have any real control over our day or what happens in it. So how do we avoid stress?

One way to avoid stress to do work as it comes along as much as possible. Procrastination brings stress, because at some point you run out of time and that usually happens with many projects at the same time. When you have people calling to see if their project is finished, your blood pressure starts to rise. Before you know it you have a headache and a neck ache. Doing the job as soon as it is given whenever possible eliminates this problem, and gives you more time to do it correctly, since most mistakes are made when we rush through things.

Another way to avoid stress is to watch what you volunteer for. All too often we over-extend ourselves because we hate to say, "No." There is nothing wrong with volunteering, but you can't be 10 places at once. Pick your volunteer work carefully, whether it is for a charity or family. Having your priorities straight will lower your stress levels.

Exercise is a very important stress reducer. You don't have to join a gym or do calisthenics either. Go for a walk, especially if you can get outside. Just getting closer to nature has a way of bring peace to your mind, and that is definately a stress reducer. Not everyone likes the same type of exercise, and if you haven't exercised in a long time, I recommend that you try several different types, start slowly, and of course, check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise. I find that exercise is a great stress reducer and a great way to look better too.

And the final stress reducer I'm going to talk about is getting enough sleep. When you are tired, your mind can't cope with everyday obligations as well. Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily to look and feel their best, so make sure you get your daily zzz's.

And there you have it. My best stress reducers for the person living in today's busy world. I hope this new year is a great one for all of you.

Echos of My Dad

My Dad passed away 3 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him terribly. So much so, that many times it is hard to speak or think of him without tears. He was like the main trunk of a tree, and we, his family the branches. While the tree can come back from the roots if the trunk is cut down, it takes a long time to do so. Yes, we have all gone on with life, just as Dad would have wanted us to do, taking care of our Mom, and hoping that we do so in such a way as to make Dad proud, but there is something missing, and a huge gaping hole in the middle of our lives that we can't seem to fill. My Dad is irreplaceable.

Dad was a World War II veteran, and like many of those men, he rarely talked about those years, choosing instead to move on with life. He was the Top Turret Gunner and Flight Engineer on a B-17 Bomber. He was credited with shooting down 2 Japanese planes, and he saved the men on his plane when he hung upside down in the open bomb bay to hand crank the landing gear down when it was stuck and they couldn't land. But, these were things he didn't tell us about. My Mom would tell us later. It just wasn't Dad's way. To him, he just did his duty.

One of my Dad's greatest loves, other than family, was the great outdoors. Dad wanted us to be able to see as much of our great country as possible. We have camped out in many places, and seen almost every state. There have been funny times, like making my Dad get up to put another log on the fire, because we thought there might be bears in the area, one of the joys of camping with 5 daughters, I guess. My Dad was a brave man. And of course, he had to get every moth away from us, because they might be "deadly" or something. He was so patient. He just took our craziness is stride. When I think back on those years, I can't help but laugh at how goofy my sisters and I were. Dad just had a way of making things fun, no matter what came up.

One of Dad's all time favorite travel destinations was the Black Hills. Because it was close to Wyoming, and there was so much to do there, we went often. I'm sure that is where my love of the Black Hills came from. He showed us many fun things to do there, and well, from there my love for it just grew. When I am in the Black Hills, I always feel like I can hear "echos" of my Dad, because there are so many wonderful memories there.

Another thing my Dad was very good at is problem solving. Whenever any of us needed help with something, Dad could always be counted on come up with a solution. He was the strength of our family, no matter what. I can still hear him saying, "This is what we are going to do." And you just knew everything was going to be alright.

Dad, you taught us many lessons of life through the years, and you made life fun. Your words and laughter will always echo in my memory. I will miss you until the day I see you again in Heaven. Thank you Daddy for being the greatest Dad ever!! I love you so much...and Forever!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

For Love of the Trail

How do you relax? There are as many ways to "get away from it all" as there are people, but for me, the answer is hiking. I love to get out in the forest following a trail, just to see where it will take me. It is so quiet and peaceful. The birds chirping and the occasional butterfly flitting by, just serve to enhance the beauty of the moment. I'm not really a winter person, though I live in a state that sure gets it, but I live for late spring through early fall, when I can get out on the trail with my husband and just enjoy nature at its finest.

We have hiked many trails over the years, but by far our favorite is the trail to Harney Peak in the Black Hills. This is not an easy trail, and definitely not for those who aren't in good shape, but it is so worth it. On this trail, you will find yourself deep in the forest of the Black Elk Wilderness Area of the Black Hills. It is a well traveled trail, but there are many times that you are by yourselves. And the views along the way are breathtaking. When you get to the top, there is a fire tower that used to be manned, but after it was struck by lightning, resulting in fires, several times, they decided it wasn't the best place for a fire tower. So it became a favorite destination for hikers and horse back riders. The top of the peak is 7242 feet above sea level, which is the highest point East of the Rocky Mountains until you get to the Swiss Alps. The climb takes you up 1142 feet and is 6.8 miles round trip. It takes us 4 hours to make the whole trip, however we always spend at least an hour on top having lunch. The view from up there is completely amazing. You can see 5 states from the top. It is a trip I can never take too many times. We have taken the hike 6 times, and plan to continue to go once a year. Now that is my idea of relaxation.

Hiking has not only been good for me physically, and I have to stay in shape to be able to continue to hike, so it is a really good motivator, but sometimes I think it has saved my sanity. In such a busy world, it is nice to get back to nature so that you can unwind. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Don't Make New Years Resolutions

Many people are busy making...and breaking New Years Resolutions this time of year, but mostly breaking them. Why is it that people have an obsession with New Years Resolutions? Of course, it is really an obsession to improve ourselves, but unfortunately the resolution is rarely combined with the main ingredient needed to achieve success...will power. If we really think about it waiting for New Years Day to start making our improvements is actually the biggest indicator of it's future failure. If we really want to improve ourselves, and we are determined to succeed, we wouldn't want to wait for the new year to get started. That is truly the procrastinator's dream. The idea is that if we have a deadline, somehow we will miraculously develop the necessary will power to succeed, when in reality we spend the interim making our situation worse, but trying to squeeze as much of the bad behavior into our lives before the deadline. It's during that time that many people gain 10 pounds, or smoke more cigarettes than they normally would. Just the thought of having to quit always seems to serve only to increase the bad behavior in anticipation of losing it. And then, to top it off, most people give up on the New Years Resolution by February. The main reason for that is a serious lack of real commitment to reaching our goal in the first place. If you are really determined to change your situation for the better, you wouldn't wait. You would make the decision to do it matter how far that is into the year or how close it is to the end of the year. Waiting one more day is the key to failure. Making or not making a New Years Resolution is entirely a personal choice, but usually the need to change presents itself far before the new year, so if you find yourself needing to make some changes, just do it now. Don't plan to do it later, because very likely you never will.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Mistakes are a part of every human life, and most of us would agree that we hope that the people around us will overlook our mistakes most of the time. It is our hope that people will show mercy to us, like God shows us mercy, unearned pardon for wrongs we have done. And not just God or our friends, but we hope we can talk our way out of tickets and other errors we make, and if we are kids, detentions, groundings, and other forms of punishments. Most of the time our attempts at talking our way into mercy seem to fail miserably, as many people will tell you after they pay for their traffic tickets. While these are usually punishments we have earned, is there something wrong with showing mercy? There shouldn't be. When people around us make mistakes, whenever possible we should forgive them. Especially when there was no harm done...really.

For example, I was driving in the parking lot at Albertson's on New Years Day, when a car coming across several rows of parking area pulled right out in front of me. It all happened so fast. In a flash of white she was right in front of me. Thankfully, there were no cars right in that area, and I wasn't going very fast, so I was able to slow way down and move to the right to avoid the collision that seemed inevitable. As I looked into her very scared and totally apologetic expression, I thought of how many times I could have been in her shoes. No harm was done, so really what would be accomplished by making her feel stupid. Truly it would have done no good, and having been on the receiving end of a justifiably angry driver who had barely avoided hitting me, and yelled at me when I was then stuck at a red light, I decided I really didn't want to put someone else through that, so I smiled a relieved smile, as did she, and we both went our way, feeling much better I'm sure.

We need to remember that since everyone makes mistakes, and we are sure to make them mistakes again some time, maybe we should allow some mistakes to slide sometimes, unpunished, offering instead mercy, even if we are right, and the mercy is undeserved, because at some point, we might receive the same kindness we have shown.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Grandparents' Legacy

Every year my mother's family has a Family Christmas Party. This year was our turn to host the party, and my aunts and uncles asked us to do an update of the Byer Family Phonebook we had given them as a gift 13 years ago when we hosted the party. As I was working on the updates, which included names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays for all the family members, and anniversary dates, I had time to reflect on the legacy that my grandparents left behind. George Byer married Harriet "Hattie" Pattan on December 24, 1927 in Valentine, Nebraska. They had 9 children, 7 daughters and 2 sons. From that beginning to now, there are more than 90 families, and approximately 300 people that have their roots in that marriage, and we are growing every year. That in itself is quite a legacy, and the one my grandparents would have been most proud of. I remember my grandpa saying to my grandma on their 50th wedding anniversary, "Mommy, look what we started, and there's not a throw away in the bunch." And that was 33 years ago. I wonder what he would have thought now. My goodness, we have grown. It is amazing what has come of what those two very special people started 83 years ago.

That was just the legacy my grandparents left us in numbers, but their true legacy was in the lessons they taught their children, who then passed them on to their children, and so on. My mother has told me many stories about growing up during the Depression and the years that followed. Times were tough then, but my grandmother always seemed to make enough food for the family and anyone who might come knocking at the door to partake of her well known generosity and down home good cooking. There were almost always extra mouths at the table, and sometimes extra people sleeping on the floor. Times were not only tough then, but very different from our present day. These days, we wouldn't dare open our home in such a way, as it just isn't safe, but back then, there was something called honor, and even if a man had to take a handout, most would help out around the place to pay for it, and wouldn't think of slapping his host in the face by stealing from them or hurting their family. Yes, things were different, very different from the kind of unsafe world of today.

My grandfather was a gentle quiet man, who dearly loved children, and they loved him. He always seemed to have several of his kids climbing all over him (and later grandkids and great grandkids), wanting to brush his hair, and as little girls do, even paint his nails. He took this all in stride and never brushed them off, even though I'm quite certain he took quite a teasing from the guys at work. He would later say when asked that the guys all knew he had kids at home and they just accepted it as "the way it was" and didn't think anything of it. I always loved to go over to their house, because grandpa always seemed delighted to see us. He would open the door with a hearty, "Come on in kid." It wasn't that we got to do anything so special when we were there, it's just that he and my grandma had a way of making fun out of nothing special at all. They didn't have amazing toys or video games, they just always had things for us to do. And, you just knew you were loved.

So often in today's world, people lead such busy lives that they have little time to see their kids, much less spend any quality time with them, and we are all guilty of being too busy for our kids, but the greatest gift my grandparents gave their children and grandchildren was the gift of themselves and quality time as a family. They have both been gone for decades now, but their legacy will live on in their descendants for many years to come.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

When Life Hurts

We all go through events and times in our lives when we really notice how painful life can be. It's part of being human. God didn't promise us there would never be hard times, He just said He would never leave us or forsake us. The one thing we must always remember is that each person deals with pain, loss, hurt feelings, and every other difficult life event differently. Sometimes we try to decide for them how they should be dealing with difficult times, but that only makes them feel more stressed out about their feelings. Each of life's painful experiences is dealt with by a type of grief process, and that process is as unique as the human being that is going through the event. Some people might cry, while others might get angry. Some people might turn inward, while others might yell or even laugh at things that aren't that funny. The main thing to remember is that they are going through something that hurts, and if you love them, you will be understanding of their feelings at a very difficult time. You may need to allow them some space, or they might need a hug, and they will definately need your prayers. This difficult time will pass, or at least get easier to bear, and when they are feeling better they will be grateful for your kindness and understanding. Your friend or loved one is in a vunerable situation right now, and the things you do can either help or hinder the healing process. Life hurts sometimes, but we have the ability to show love, and that love can make all the difference.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Father's Love

Few things impact our lives as much as loss does, especially the loss of a child. I was talking to my nephew, Steve at my mother's New Years Eve party, and the conversation turned to his little daughter, Laila, who passed away on November 22, 2010 at the age of 18 days of complications from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and as we talked, I could see deep into his heart. Steve, normally a happy, smiling person is now struggling with feelings so raw that it is exhausting. He feels the need to be strong for his family, and all too often, I think many people take his strength for granted. Sometimes the smallest things in our lives are the things than have the ability to bring us to our knees, and for Steve that is Laila. From the day she arrived she stole his heart. It was so obvious in the way they looked at each other, that she would be "Daddy's Little Girl" and Steve, well he would have a new home...wrapped around her tiny little finger. Steve and Jenny have 3 sons, but this child was the long awaited daughter, and while they would have felt the same loss over any of their children, this hit very hard. Laila was sweet and beautiful with olive skin and dark hair, just like her mommy, in fact I believe she would have looked just like Jenny as she grew up. To say the least, Steve was smitten. He is such a good daddy, very involved in the lives of his children, and Laila would have been so blessed to be a part of this family. It just breaks my heart to see the pain of loss that is etched on Steve's face now, and to know that there are those who simply don't understand his feelings. This is a deeply loving man, who is such a big blessing to his family. He is also a very strong man, and I think that sometimes people don't think that he could have the deeply loving emotions that he carries inside toward those of us that are fortunate enough to be a close part of his life. Steve loves with all he has, and he has a big heart, so there is a lot of love to give. And really he asks for so little back. He works hard to support his family and doesn't want Jenny to work, but rather wants her to be able to stay at home and raise the children. He is a deeply spiritual man as well, and loves his Lord and Savior. He makes sure his family is in church every week, and while many would not see this as unusual, the truth is that Steve wasn't raised in church, but committed his life to the Lord after he met Jenny. But truly, the defining aspect of Steve's life is being a husband and father. He lives for it, and when something like the loss of a child enters his life it just tears him up. My heart just aches for this loving man with a father's heart and empty arms. I love you Steve, and I wish I could ease your pain somehow, but as with Jenny, I can only pray for peace in your father's heart and comfort for your empty arms.