I know he was your world, Donna, because your love for him showed in your face. Your smile for him, and your sparkling eyes were truly a reflection of his love for you.  Together you both showed us what love, should be. Love for our spouse, family, and especially for God.

Johnny was so much more than a friend to us.  Speaking for myself he was a mentor.  No, he didn’t give me advice as to how to live. He didn’t give me advice on how to treat others or how to live out the love of Jesus in my daily life.  But he was indeed my mentor.

 He mentored me by his example.  His genuine, warm and caring smile every time I saw I him, made me feel loved. His hug which always followed gave me encouragement and a feeling of peace knowing I belonged in his circle of friends. And when he had no words for us when my husband and I were going through one of the hardest times in our life, his tears of compassion gave me comfort.

I know he treated everyone the same, because I witnessed it. That is how I know that there are so many who feel the same way about Johnny as I do.

I was going to say he will leave a hole in my heart, but I can’t. He filled me with so much love and so many good memories, that even death can not take them away.  They will walk with me forever on this earth, and I will take them to heaven with me where I can tell him thank you in person.

My heart hurts because I miss him so much, but it is so full of gratitude to God for letting him be a part of my life.

I pray God comforts you and your family Donna. Know we love you as well, and know that even in these hard times, as Johnny always said, “God is good.”

I Have A Country Heart

Fishtail Basin Ranch  Dean, MT

Oh how I miss the country!  My husband and I were both born and raised on ranches.  We’ve lived on ranches for almost all of our married years as well.

For the last six years we’ve been living in town, in an apartment, next to the railroad, next to an oil refinery, and the freeway.  To say the least it has been a culture shock to our well established country souls!

We did not choose this way of life we are living, but we know God led us here for a reason.  Here is where we will stay until he opens another door for us.

Life is not all bad here.  There are things that are nice about living in town.  It is literally five minutes to the grocery.  It does not take an entire day to drive to town for a doctor’s   appointment.  We have access to nice restaurants whenever we want to dine out, without having to drive a hundred miles.  We like that.

I always appreciated the country way of life.  At least that is what I thought.  I have come to  realize that it has taken a substantial amount of time living away from that lifestyle to acknowledge how much I took for granted.

Our daughter and her family live on a cattle ranch a few miles from where we used to live.  They took a mini-vacation and asked us to stay at the ranch and keep an eye on things.  Of course we said yes!  This is our mini-vacation!

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We got here last night at dusk.  It was so serene and quiet.  The crickets were making their sweet music.  A cow was bawling in the distance.  No other sounds, just peace floating on the evening air.

I slept like a baby.  No train whistles, no sirens, no city clatter.

This morning I woke to the same blissful peace.  The cool, clean mountain air filled the bedroom.  No smog, no stench from the refinery, just sweet, pure, mountain air!

Sunrises are a different experience here.  You feel God’s hand opening the curtain of the night and revealing his glory in all he has made for us.  In town we still can have beautiful sunrises, but it is more like God yelling above the hustle and bustle, the noise, and traffic, screaming, “Stop!  Look up!  I am still here!”

We took a few pictures of the ranch to capture some moments of country peace; nature in all its’ breathtaking beauty, just hoping they will carry us through a few more weeks of city life.

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This weekend has reminded me of the saying, “You can take the boy (or girl!) out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy!”   I have a county heart!



Call It What It Is!

Election time can bring out the worst in people; including me.  Time is short.  A decision will be made in a few months that will determine to a great extent what direction our country, the USA, will take.  That fact stirs up passion in people.  We want the path we see as right, to be the path that will be followed.

Unfortunately that passion is often used in a negative forum.  It slanders the other party’s candidate, and even other candidates in our own chosen party.  Some of that negativity needs to be brought to light.  We as citizens need to make informed decisions as to who is best to lead our country.  We are all human and we all make mistakes.  But if there is a pattern of mistakes, a pattern of bad choices that go against what we believe is right, that needs to be a consideration for who we choose to vote for.

I am one of those people who believe there are good and descent people on both sides, as well as people who are corrupt on both sides.  So for me I’ve chosen to vote for the  party platform that best stands for what my  personal beliefs are.

I am a Christian, so I am voting for the principles that best follow the teachings of Christ.

I also love my country, so I am voting for who I believe will best protect my country.

I don’t believe in The Women’s Right To Choose.  I don’t believe in it because I believe that an unborn child is just unborn child.  After a child is born, a mother has  the right to give it up for adoption if she doesn’t believe she can, or wants to raise it.  She does not have the right to kill it.  I think almost all people would agree with that.  I have a hard time understanding why it is the women’s right to kill that same child before it is born.

I don’t condemn those who have had abortions. I know there can be some very difficult situations in their lives that bring them to believe they have no other choice.  I also believe a lot of them would make a different choice if they could watch a video that shows what really happens in an abortion.  I believe they need compassion and education, not condemnation.

I do not believe in same-sex marriage.  I don’t believe in it because God in his word, the Bible, tells us very plainly in black and white, that it is wrong, it is a sin.  He even goes so far as to call it an abomination unto the Lord.  I do not condone their lifestyle for that reason.  That does not mean I dislike all people who live a gay lifestyle.  I do know some and like them as people.  I also know some people who have committed adultery, another sexual sin against God.  I don’t condone what they did, but I can still like them as individuals.

It is God’s place to judge, not ours.  However, God does call us to have discernment, to know the difference between right and wrong.  For that reason I believe it is wrong for our nation, which was founded on the principles of God, to pass a law legalizing anything that God tells us is a sin.  As the people that he created, God gives us the choice to follow his ways or not.  If we choose not, there will be consequences, judgement from God, that will come against us.  As a nation, if we choose not, there will be the same consequences and judgements on our nation as a whole.

I love America.  I love our way of life.  I love the freedoms we have that have made us the great country we are.  I don’t want to see that way of life slipping away.  But sadly, I can see it starting to.

I believe that is in a great part due to a few words, or ideologies, that have started sweeping our nation.  Those words are “Political correctness”, and “Tolerance.”

I looked up those terms to make sure I wasn’t just stating my own understanding of them.

As it turned out I was right on.

Political correctness:

1.  languages, policies, measures, which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group

2. to avoid irritating anyone


  1.  the ability or willingness to tolerate something, opinions, or behaviors, that one does not necessarily agree with

I do not intentionally try to irritate anyone, an individual, or group of people with my language, or my beliefs.  I believe in America we have the right to pursue happiness, wealth, of free speech, to worship the way we choose, to bear arms to defend ourselves.  We have the right to live according to our conscience as long as it harms no one else.

I can tolerate those who wish to live differently than I do.  I can tolerate someone whose religious beliefs are different from mine.  I can do that because God gave us that choice, our nation gives us that choice.

But there is a limit to political correctness and tolerance.  Freedom of speech gives us the right to speak our minds. If in speaking my mind, giving my opinion, offends you, if it is against what you believe, I’m sorry.  You have the right to disagree with me.  You do not have the right to tell me I can not pray in my school, I can not mention God because it might offend you.

We have a right to stand up for the things we believe.  We don’t have to “tolerate” illegal immigrants pouring into our country.  That does not make us prejudice bigots.  We are a nation of immigrants.  But those who wish to come here to live, should abide by our laws . They should want to become Americans and be grateful for the opportunities this country can provide them.  They should go through the process of becoming legal immigrants, the same way our ancestors and so many today have done.

We do not have to tolerate the mass of Syrian refugees into our country.  It does not make us  uncompassionate to want them vetted, to know if they have  Islamic terrorist connections.   We have a right to protect our nation from terrorists.

We do not have to tolerate a religion that vows to kill all Jews, Christians, and Americans! When they act on their beliefs, we have a right to stand up to them.

Jesus told us the commandments can be summed up in these two things, to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Our sermon in church yesterday was on the book of Romans.  The message was to basically “wake up from our slumber”, to recognize the times in which we live, that Jesus is coming back soon, to live in the light of Christ.  We are to come out of sin, darkness, not to be politically correct, but to call it what it is.

As a nation we need to turn back to God,  to love and follow him foremost.  We need to love our neighbors.  We need to wake up from our slumber, recognize the times in which we live.  We need to be considerate of each other yes, but we need to forget all this political correctness and tolerance, to not be afraid to offend someone who might disagree with us.  We need to stand up for what we believe in and just “call it what it is”!

Feel free to share if you agree!





America The Beautiful

We had the privilege today to worship God in our favorite little country church in Nye, Montana.

Being that it is the Fourth of July weekend, just before our meet and greet your neighbor, our pastor led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The morning music worship was all old patriotic songs, like America The Beautiful, and The Battle Hymn of The Republic.

Pastor Paul always has a way of helping me see how old Bible stories are applicable to my present life .  It was a great sermon, as always.

That being said, what I left church with this morning is how far our country, our nation, has drifted from God just since I was a child.

We always started the school day with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Now so many schools consider it “offensive” to some, so they are banning it.  There are schools across our nation who refuse to let students sing Christmas carols that have any mention of Jesus.  Prayers are not allowed at graduation ceremonies, let alone at the start of the school day.

When I was in grade school we sang America The Beautiful in our music class.  Singing it this morning in church, I wonder how many school children across our nation have ever sang that great song.  It is a patriotic song about our country; a nation that boldly thanks God for the beauty he created for us, that asks God to shed His grace on us. It asks us to remember those who fought for our liberty, who loved it more than life itself. It asks God to heal our every flaw.

My hope is that you all google “America The Beautiful”.  Read the lyrics. Sing it to your children.  Take pride in our country, our flag, our God.  Ask Him once again to shed His grace on us, heal our every flaw, ( we have many) and to crown our good, with brotherhood, from sea, to shining sea!


I Am Standing Up

Well, we’ve had another terror attack in the US, thanks to Radical Islam!  ISIS, that’s what they call themselves.  Fifty dead, fifty plus injured; most critically.  And what does our President say?   We need more gun control!

I am respectfully standing up and choose to openly disagree with him.  I know what our nation needs.  It needs to turn back to God….and we need more border control, NOT gun control!

I’ve been reading comments on facebook today.  Some calling this a “hate” crime because it occurred in a gay bar.  Some saying it’s time to take away all our guns, some saying these crimes are done by people with mental illness and we just need to stop them from being able to buy guns.

I agree with part of what they are saying. This is a “hate” crime.  It is hate against Christians, and Americans in general.  Why do they hate us?  Jesus said, “If they hate me, they will hate you.”

These people are not mentally ill.  They are evil.  There is a difference.  You can not reason with them.  They are out to bring the world under Sharia Law.

Take away our guns and you take away our self-defense.  You will not stop them from getting guns, or making explosives, or going on stabbing frenzies with knives.

But close our borders to them and you will greatly decrease their access to our people.

I am standing up for God.  I am standing up for America.  I am keeping my bible…..and my gun, thank you!

Any body with me?

Wells of Loving Memories

Wells family picture
Back row: Chet Dipp, Kenny Dipp, Bill Dipp Front row: Mae Wells (Medlock) Lillie Lanning Dipp Wells, Otis Wells holding Leah Wells (Colyer) In front of Lillie is Nellie Wells (Duffield) and my mom, Harriett Wells (Craig) Missing from this picture because he was not yet born is Eldred Wells


I looked up the definition of well in the dictionary.  Well: a place where water issues from the earth; an abundant source; a source from which something may be drawn as needed.

What a beautiful and accurate description of this family called Wells.  Lillie Lanning Dipp married Otis Wells a year or two after her first husband suffered a tragic death. I never knew much about her first marriage, except from it came three wonderful men who I was lucky enough to know, love, and call uncles.

This is a picture of a family that you can tell was not rich in the material things of this world.  But don’t let that fool you. These were some of the richest people this world has ever known.  They were not greedy.  They shared their riches with all their family and friends.

John 4:13 says “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”

This family, the Wells family, was rich in love; love of God, family, and their fellow-man.  Every person in this picture had their own trials and tribulations in this life, but they never became bitter.  Their hearts were good, kind, and giving.  They were happy and grateful in-spite of life’s struggles.

I believe that is because of the hearts of Lillie and Otis, my grandparents.  They gave their hearts to Jesus.  They guarded their hearts, and their hearts indeed were the wellspring of life our family all have drunk from.

They were our well; the well where the waters of Christ’s love issued from our earth.  They were our abundant source, the source we could always draw from in our times of need.

They were always there for us.  They were caring and compassionate.  They were encouraging, and good-natured.  They were Christians.  They showed me who Christ was, not by preaching to me, and telling me all the things in my life I was doing wrong  (and believe me there has been lots of wrong) but by the way they lived their day-to-day lives.

That well of love overflowed to their children; my mom, and my aunts and uncles.  It has also overflowed to their grandchildren, and their descendants.

Everyone in this picture, except my Aunt Leah (the baby) and my Uncle Eldred, who was not yet born, are no longer with us on this earth.

Even though they are gone, they have left us all, even great, great grand-kids they have never yet met, such a legacy of love and faith. They have left us with Wells of loving memories!



Back row: Kenny Dipp, Chet Dipp, Leah Colyer, Nellie Duffield, Eldred Wells, Bill Dipp Front Row: Mae Medlock, Lillie Wells, Otis Wells, Harriett Craig










Peace On The Mountain

This last weekend was a hard one for me.  We traveled to Twin Falls, Idaho from Laurel, Montana to my uncle Marvin’s funeral.  It was a great service; a great tribute to the life of a great cowboy.  I think he would have been pleased.

Funerals are hard, in fact they just plain suck!   No matter how great the service is, there is so much pain in letting go.  Not only do I have my own pain, but I hate seeing the pain in the face and eyes of those who loved him the most.

My Aunt Leah is such a warm, loving, and gracious person.  In the midst of her grief, she opened her heart and home to all of us “family stragglers” who came from afar.  She gave us food and a place to share memories, and get re- acquainted.  She is definitely one of a kind.  I love her so much!

On the drive home, I was feeling pretty down.  I miss my Uncle Marvin.  I also realized how much I miss living close to my extended family: my Dad and Jean, sister, my Aunts, Uncles, cousins.  We used to live close enough to visit often.  There is a physical distance between so many of us now that makes get-togethers are a rare thing.  My heart was aching on many levels.

It was a beautiful drive home through Idaho’s green, luscious, farm and ranch lands;  as far as you could see, just wide open fields of green.  I was born in Idaho.  I have so many great childhood memories of this state.  My heart was aching to stay.

We got a new camera for Christmas.  I got it out and began taking pictures the rest of the way home.  Despite the fact that I took them out the car window going at a pretty good speed, I think most came out pretty good.

When we got home we went to the store looking for something to eat.  We ran into a young man I used to work with.  His street name was Whiskey. ( You can read about him in my previous post titled, Ice Jam.)  I told him we  just got home from a funeral.  We visited for a minute, then we left.  He followed us out and asked if he could pray for us.  We all joined hands right there in the parking lot, and he prayed a powerful prayer for healing and God’s grace over our lives.  If he reads this, I hope he knows how much that meant to both of us.

I shared that only because it was a turning point in my attitude for this last weekend.  He immediately took my focus off my own feelings and put them where they belonged…towards God.  God is always with us, He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is a friend who sticketh closer than a brother. He is our Provider and our Comforter.  He is still on the throne and in control….even when we feel out of control.

This morning I was going through some of the pictures I took. This one is in Yellowstone Park.  It has a reflection in it, probably from taking it through the window.  When I saw it, it looked like a path leading up to the mountain.  All I could think of was the verse, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.”  I find peace there.  I hope Uncle Tuff’s family can as well.

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.  Micah 4:2









Greener Pastures

The voice of the Lord is over the water Psalm 29 : 3


Mine is only one of many hearts that is heavy tonight.  Yesterday, my Uncle Marvin (Tuff) Colyer, crossed over the mountain to ride in greener pastures.

Last week I wrote a tribute to him on my blog, called One Tuff Cowboy.  His health has not been good for sometime, so it was not a surprise; but it is still a shock.  No one wants to let go of someone we love so much.  There is a relief; a peace, that he is no longer in pain and suffering.  But there is also an empty ache in the core of my heart.

I wrote this poem several years ago for a dear friend who had just lost her husband.  I am dedicating it tonight to my Aunt Leah…and her family, in hope it might comfort them in some small way.

Help Me Lord

My heart is full of worry, Lord,

you know the pain I bear.

Please guide me in these troubled times,

look down on me with care.

Let the sound of roaring rivers

bring peace when I feel none.

Grant me strength, like the mighty pine,

give me hope in the morning sun.

Hold my hand, and guide my feet.

Give me faith that will not sway.

Help me, though I’m hurting now,

to see your promise in each day.

Sheryl Craig Russell



Easter Memories

The Easter season fills me with memories from my childhood. I can remember like it was yesterday, the excitement I felt when we started the egg dying ritual. I can see clear drink glasses, each with different bright colored water. I can smell the vinegar that filled the kitchen.

We each colored our own eggs and put our names on one or two. It was a family ritual, not just us kids. I think that was what made it so much fun as a kid; to have Mom and Dad decorating eggs with us.

Easter morning we would wake up with Dad singing “Here comes Peter Cotton Tail, hopping down the bunny trail.” That is something Dad did until we left home. The rest of the morning found my sister and me racing around the house in a mad dash to out do each other. And of course there was that Easter Bunny who not only hid our eggs, but left us jelly beans and chocolate images of himself in our basket. Later Mom always made deviled eggs out of some for dinner. Nothing has changed. I watch my grand kids with the same excitement on the same mad dash!

I think as I watch them that time has stood still. Fifty plus years have passed between my excited face and theirs, yet I feel the same emotions flood me with such familiarity. I guess that is what tradition is. It is something that is done every year with such consistency that several generations down the road can share and relive the memories of loved ones long gone.

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, I have to admit that it was the thrill of the hunt and the candy. In my teens I started appreciating the family gatherings. My young adult life found me just enjoying the innocent smile on my children’s faces.

It has taken me this long in life to fully appreciate what Easter is really all about…and it is not about a big bunny and the joy he brings to kids, both small and gray haired. (Yes, I still love that chocolate bunny!) It is about the Cross. It is about who was on it. It was what his suffering, humiliation, and death means to all mankind. It is hope, it is mercy, it is forgiveness, and it is love.

I am reposting this poem from 11-23-16img_1458-2



Faith Of Our Fathers

I was going through some of my writings to come up with new posts when I came across this article.  I wrote this in July of 2009.

 Faith of our Fathers

We recently had our 40th High School Class Reunion.  We had a wonderful time at the local park and Community Hall.  We enjoyed a pitch fork fondue, square dancing, old memories, laughs, and each other’s company.

We also had a few join us that were in the class beneath us.  We were looking at old pictures from that class, and I asked someone, “What ever happened to Sonje?”  Her answer about blew me away, “The last I heard she was in prison; I believe in Thailand or somewhere for distributing Bibles.”

Sonje’s father was a minister and the influence of God that he left on her must have been very great.  Sonje was a very sweet, kind, girl, and it was always nice to be around her.  I’m not surprised that she followed in her father’s footsteps, and I will keep her in my prayers.  I hope by now she has been released, if not, I hope all who read this will also pray for her.

I came home from the reunion and one of the first things I saw was a picture of my youngest grandson, Logan, praying.  We all take for granted the freedoms we have in this country that allows me to even have a picture like that sitting in my living room.

Our country was founded on God’s principles.  His commandments are etched in the walls of our government buildings and memorials.  Our Pledge of Allegiance confirms his presence with us, “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

And yet we have allowed a few to take prayer out of our schools, and now they are trying to remove all traces of God from government.  They want to remove all reference of God from statues, walls, memorials, even our money that says, “In God We Trust.”  The saddest of all to me was a quote I saw in the news of our President telling a foreign leader he was meeting with, that our nation, The United States of America, was NOT a Judean-Christian nation!

Say what?  Does he live in the same country I do?  But then I began to wonder why we let those few keep doing what they are doing.  We don’t really want to get involved fighting for our rights.  It is easier to complain about what they are doing than to actually write letters to our leaders or go before them with our concerns.  And I am as guilty as any.  But maybe it’s time we change.  If we don’t, how long do you think it will be before we..yes, you and me, in the good old US, are thrown into a prison cell for trying to give a Bible to someone who wants to hear and learn about God?  Thank you, Sonje, for opening my eyes.  May God bless and keep you!

Wow!  Almost seven years later and look what is happening in our country.  Our government has legalized same-sex marriage.  Bruce Jenner is being honored as “Woman of the Year.”  God continues to be banned from our schools and country.  We are forced to remove Nativity scenes from our local towns. Schools are told they can’t  pray as part of their graduation ceremonies.  School Christmas programs are being banned from singing Christmas carrols that reference God in any form. Gideon Bibles are being removed from motel rooms.

But….school districts in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, California, and other states are implementing curriculum where students are given classes in Islam where they have to  write and then recite the Islam conversion creed; “Allah is the only God, Mohammad is his prophet.”  One school in St. Paul, Minnesota has banned Valentines Day along with other so-called dominant holidays,” (i.e. Thanksgiving, and Christmas) because the “dominant view could suppress someone else’s view.”

Oh, America! Don’t let President Obama convince you we are not a Judean-Christian Nation!  We are!  Let’s start acting like it and return to God.  Let us etch His laws not only on the walls of our government buildings, but let us etch them in our hearts.  Let us fight to restore the right to have Him guide our nation, as our forefathers did.  Pray that the leaders elected in our next election will seek God and stand up for our core values.