A Birthday Wish For My Son

 

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Dustin Russell ..Love that face

 

My wish for you on this day, is for you to know how much you are loved.  You were my first-born.  Only a parent can know the emotions you feel when you hold your first born child for the first time.  You know that feeling… know that is how I felt when I first held you!

You overwhelmed me with love!  You still do.  It is hard to hear your name and not see your smiling face giving me a bouquet of dandelions!  Your smile still warms me.  I so miss not being able to live close enough to visit often.  But there will never be a distance in my love for you.

I am so proud of the man you have become.  You are such a good father to all your children.  You have always excelled in your work life.  But the most important is how you turned to God in your life.  It is usually the parents that “lead” their children in their search for God, but my children have been that leading force in my life.  Thank you for that.

You have always filled my life with your contagious laughter.  It lifts up my heart…even when it was aimed at me…back-seat driving… that’s all I’m going to say!  My wish for you is that the joy and laughter you have blessed me with, comes back to bless your life.

My wish for you is that you know how proud I am of you.  I’m proud of your accomplishments, yes, but what I’m really proud of is how you live your life.  I’m proud of the love you have for your family.  I’m proud of the way you treat others.  I’m proud to call you my son.

My wish for you is that God will draw you near Him, and give you all your heart desires and deserves.

I love you Dustin.  God bless and keep you!   Happy, happy birthday!

 

 

 

Forty Four Years

 

 

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Mike & Sherry Russell 6-24-1972

Forty-four years.  How fast they can go!  One day you are saying vows, eating cake, and walking out of a church as newly weds.  No longer are you individuals, you are a couple.  A couple of kids…that’s what we were!  Kids with stars in our eyes, love in our hearts, and with dreams of life filled with laughter forever after.

That’s what we dreamed of, and that’s what we got.  Of course along with the laughter and good times, there were also some heartaches and tears.  The love never left, but it did change.  Over the years it deepened, became stronger, sweeter, more tender, and more sincere.

Forty- four years ago we had hopes of starting a family.  Forty- four years later, we have three beautiful children, three beautiful, sweet granddaughters, five handsome grandsons, and one more grandchild on the way!

I feel so blessed to have married the man I did.  He has given me every thing in life that I ever wanted…except that mustang!  Well, he did give me a mustang or two over the years, which I really loved, but I really meant one with four wheels, not four legs!

Seriously, though, we have been very blessed in our marriage.  We not only love each other, we actually like one another.  We are best friends.  We still hold hands.  We still share dreams for the future.  We still make each other laugh.

We have become one, as the bible says.  Our lives have blended together into one spirit. When we are apart, I feel like part of me is missing.  This man completes me.  I love him so very much.

I pray that my children are as happy in their mariages as we are.  And I pray my grandkids someday will carry on that love in their marriages as well.

I don’t know what the future holds for us on this earth, but if the last forty-four years are a glimpse into that future, it is looking pretty good!

Thank you dear husband, for the good life you have given me.  Thank you dear God for the good man you blessed me with!

 

 

Aunt Mae and Uncle Jim

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Jim and Mae Medlock 1947   Davis Ranch in Bruneau, ID

I have fond memories of this couple.  They are my aunt and uncle.  Mae is my mom’s sister.  The photo says this was taken in 1947.  I am assuming that is about the time they were married, or close to it.  When I look at this picture it doesn’t seem like they changed a lot over the years.  Mae was always so prim and proper, and Jim always with that smile, and a joke or story to tell.  Mae never liked her picture taken for some reason, and I can imagine in this picture that Uncle Jim is holding her arm so she can not cover her face.

Aunt Mae told me that Uncle Jim was from Missouri, and that he came from a poor, and hard up-bringing.  He was a mechanic most of his life.  He and Aunt Mae lived in Portland, Oregon ever since I can remember. His hard younger life, did not sour his disposition.  Jim was always fun to be around.  He always had that same smile as in this picture, and he always joked around and played with us kids.

Aunt Mae had a babysitting business in her home.  We lived in Portland for a year or two, and Aunt Mae took care of us while Mom worked.  I can remember her fixing tomatoe soup for us for lunch.  She would serve it in cups and we would sip it instead of eating it with a spoon.  That seemed so fun to me.  Funny how little things like that stay with you!

I developed a special bond with Aunt Mae when Mom’s health got bad.  She was so good to Mom.  She was always calling and checking on her, and helping Mom with reaching out to God in her last few years.  She said Mom told her when she had trouble sleeping, that she didn’t mind, because that gave her special time to pray for me and my sister, Pat.  After Mom’s passing, she would call me and just visit.  We  made a bond to pray for each other’s  children.  I know she always prayed for mine, and I will continue to pray for my cousins, as we  agreed.

Aunt Mae and Uncle Jim are both in heaven now, with so many other members of my family.  I hope they both know what a special place they will always hold in my heart.

Family

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It’s just a simple word, family, but it means so very much.  The dictionary says it is the succession of persons connected by blood or name.  That sounds very mater of fact, and a little cold.  There is such a feeling of warmth that comes over me when I hear the word…I know it means so much more than that!

It means traditions handed down from one generation to another.  Traditions like making Christmas cookies and candy together, hanging your socks on the mantle, going to church on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, or The Night Before Christmas.  It’s traditions like giving plates of goodies to the neighbors, or writing letters to Santa.  It means many different things to different people.

But more than traditions, family means to me I have people who love me no matter what.  It doesn’t matter if I deserve it or not, or if I always do the right thing.  They love me unconditionally, the same way I love them.  They are there when I need an encouraging word, a hug, a smile, to share the little things of life, as well as the big ones.

When I hear family, I think back to my childhood and remember Mom sewing doll clothes for us, playing games, taking us sledding, making those Christmas cookies, and always her tender, warm hugs and smiles.  I remember Dad taking us fishing, riding, having snowball fights, his teasing, and his laughter.  I remember my sister and I sharing all the above together, and sharing stories, toys, beds, and fights!  We shared walks on the beach, and walks in the hills gathering acorns for our pet pig.  We shared a raft where we spent hours sunning ourselves and fishing.  We shared a childhood that was so special.

I hear family, and I think back to when my children were little.  I remember the dandelion bouquets given with faces beaming, picnics in hay fields, checking coyote traps, turkey shoots, and Christmas plays, 4-H ventures, riding on the U3, and Sunday all day videos.  Everyday was so special to me.

I often think the days of my childhood were the best days of my life.  They were carefree and light-hearted.  But then I think of the years when my children were young, and I’m sure they were the best years of my life.  They were full of so much joy and love, and I’m sure I’ll never have those kind of feelings again.

But God has fooled me. I am now a middle-aged wife and I’m finding a closeness to my husband that is deeper than I thought possible.  It is true that “the two shall become as one.”  The years have melded us together in a way that I don’t know if I could survive on my own anymore.

And just when I am sure that life could be no better than to have a great childhood, great marriage and children, and the privilege to watch them grow to generous, kind, adults, God surprised me again!  He gave me grandchildren!  They give a very special kind of love that I can find no words to explain.  The word “Grandma”  does not make me feel old; it makes me feel so loved and full that I’m sure there is no one luckier in the world than me.

A succession of people connected by blood or name?  From my Great Granny and Grandpa Craig,  Grandma and Granddad Craig, and Nita, Grandma and Granddad Wells, Mom and Dad, and Jean, Mike, his family, our children, and grandchildren, and the branches off the main trunk in every direction, I think I can say it is more than that.

Family, it is a simple word with a simple meaning….love!

Mother’s Day

Harriett, Mom & Grandad Nov 1965
My pretty mother, Harriett Craig, and my grandfather, Ed Craig 1965 in Healdsburg, California at one of our many family dances…I hope they are dancing together in heaven!

 

 

I was so blessed by God to have been raised and loved by the woman I call Mom.  She was beautiful, inside as well as out.  She had the most beautiful, warm, sincere, and open smile.  Whenever Mom smiled at you, you felt her heart.  She was kind and good.  She was the most happy person I’ve ever been around.  She just had a peacefulness in her soul.  Mom was seldom, if ever, in a bad mood.  At least if she was, she never let us see it.  She was the definition of love and what a mother should be.

I have so many good memories of this woman.  From the time I was little, I remember her playing board games with me and Pat.  I remember peeking through the keyhole in our bedroom door, watching her sew clothes for our dolls for Christmas.  And Christmas….oh, she made it special!  And the best part was she always made Pat and me part of it.  We helped make Christmas candy, decorated cookies, and trimmed the tree.  To me, our tree was always the best.  Trees today are nice, but they just lack something without that final touch…tinsel! I’ll be honest, I never had the patience Mom did.  I tended to blob it on, but Mom took each piece and hung it perfectly.  It always looked so elegant….just like her!

I will never forget my first Mother’s Day without her.  It was just a day or two after her funeral.  We still had some family at the house, and my uncle was reading the paper and said to my aunt, “Today is Mother’s Day, happy Mother’s Day!”  I fell apart because I realized I didn’t have a mother anymore.  That was a terrible day for me.  I missed her so much; there are no words to tell of the pain.

Many years down the road of life, through the grace of God, who drew me near him, I discovered some things in His word, things that a lot of people take for granted.  I was taught that when we die, we sleep, knowing nothing, until Jesus comes back to take us home.  But in the story of the rich man and Lazarus,  the rich man went to Hades, and Lazarus went to paradise.  He was with Abraham, who was also deceased.  They knew each other, communicated with each other.  The apostle Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be in the presence of God.”  Sure, her body, her tent, has passed away, and some day God will reunite her body and her spirit again.  But my beautiful mother is in heaven, with Jesus, and with other family members who believed in Him.

What a difference that has made in my life!  Mother’s Day has never felt sad since.  I still miss this beautiful lady, but I no longer mourn for her.  How can I mourn for someone who is living in the presence of All Mighty God himself?  She has no more tears, pain, or hardships of any kind.  Her smile is lighting up all those around her in heaven.  Someday I will see her smile again also.

This is one of the first poems I wrote when I started pursuing this writing thing. I wrote this for Mom for Mother’s Day many years ago when my kids were still quite young.  Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

My Mother Is A Lady

My mother is a lady,

fair and gentle in her ways.

She has no big career,

at least not one that pays.

She doesn’t dine in restaurants

known for putting on the Ritz.

She dines at home where she is known

for mighty tasty grits.

She stays in shape, but I must say,

no thanks to aerobic classes.

She mops, and irons, dusts, and scrubs,

and polishes sparkling glasses.

She bandaged knees, braided hair,

and read our favorite fables;

pulled our sleds, sewed doll clothes,

and played games ’round the table.

This lady always had a smile,

and a vase for our dandelions.

She always had a hug

and held us close when we were crying.

She taught us to be kind to others,

taught us right from wrong,

taught us just to be ourselves,

and filled our hearts with song.

 The years have passed, and we are grown,

me and sister Pat.

For all your love and guidance, Mom,

to you I take off my hat.

The memories of my childhood

are the best things of my past.

I keep them in this heart of mine

where they will always last.

My fondest wish, when mine are grown,

would be to hear them say,

“My mother is a lady,

fair and gentle in her ways.”

Sheryl Craig Russell

This Man of Mine

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Mike Russell and Johnny…doing what they do best!

May 1, was my husband’s birthday.   Mike is  indeed my better half.  He is my companion, and my friend.  He has been there for me in all the good things in my life, and for the bad.  He has a way to make me laugh when I am mad, and to look at the good when things are sad.

My husband has endured a lot of trials in his life; both physical and emotional.  A lot of people who have gone through all he has would turn bitter inside and be tempted to give up.  Not this man of mine.  He turned to God to help him through and keeps taking one step at a time, trusting him to lead us.

This man of mine is a cowboy, a rancher.  He loves the outdoors, the wide open spaces that have not been spoiled by the hand of man.  If he had his choice that is where he would be now.  However, we have been placed in city life for the time being.  Not only are we living in town, but in an apartment, with people sharing the same walls on many sides.

Instead of the sound of water rushing over rocks in the creek, elk bugling in the early morning,  coyotes howling in the evening, we hear the never-ending roar of car engines, the blast of the train whistle, the screaming sirens of fire engines, ambulances, and police cars, and at night we hear the howling of two-legged critters all around us.

My prayer for this man of mine this year, is that God will bless him and place him back where he belongs.  My prayer is John Denver’s song…Country roads, take me home.

This Man Of Mine

This man of mine with western blood

that runs throughout his veins,

is home in that old saddle,

fingers laced with rawhide reins.

He can throw a loop, and catch that calf;

he and Johnny made quite the pair.

They were western class, the two of them,

not many can compare.

They rode desert range in Nevada,

with sagebrush saddle high.

And the mountains of Montana,

where elk and grizzly lie.

That is the life this cowboy loves,

It’s where his heart feels free,

to ride all day where the grass grows tall,

and not a house for eye to see.

This city life we’re living now,

is not for me or him.

Life threw us a real bad curve,

seems at times a tad bit grim.

But God knows the plans he has for us,

and guides us through each day.

He knows we miss the country,

and the smell of fresh-cut hay.

We walk in faith believing

that His purpose we will see.

We pray a country road awaits

for this man of mine and me.

Sheryl Craig Russell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greener Pastures

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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

 

 

One Tuff Cowboy!

 

Marvin (Tuff) Colyer
Marvin (Tuff) Colyer

One of my favorite people in this world is a cowboy named Tuff. Actually his name is Marvin. Tuff was a nickname given to him when he was younger. I was told he didn’t really like the name “Tuff.” I’ve tried to call him Marvin the last few years, but it just won’t roll off my tongue without being forced. He has always been Uncle Tuff to me, and he always will be.

Besides, tuff is what he really is, the name fits him. He is a cowboy, a buckaroo, born and raised in Three Creek, ,Idaho. He’s not one of those dime store types, he is the real deal. After he and my Aunt Leah were married, he worked on a couple of ranches in Idaho. They then moved to Nevada where he worked as a ranch hand and manager on several ranches; Hadley Ranch, Town Ranch, Red House, Carlin Field, and The Rancho Grande. He also worked for a few years in a gold mine in Carlin Nevada. He now owns his own small ranch in Filer, Id.

His love has always been horses, and I’m sure if he could, he would be sitting on one now. He was always breaking a new colt, or trading a horse. In fact, in one of those horse trades with my dad, we ended up with one of my favorite horses of all time. She was named Nevada, (of course!) He has been in numerous horse wrecks…as most real cowboys have. I know he broke his jaw in one of those wrecks and had to have his jaw wired shut. That had to be pretty trying for a cowboy who likes steak and potatoes! He has earned the name “Tuff!”

My husband, Mike, and I lived on the U-3 ranch in Wells, Nevada for several years. My dad, Jim Craig was managing the U-3 when we moved there. We shared many holiday celebrations with Uncle Tuff and Aunt Leah. Those are some of my best memories.

Uncle Tuff also came to most of the U-3 brandings over the years, and that is where Mike came to know, admire, and love him.

My uncle Tuff is tough in every way a man should be. He has survived many trials and tribulations in his life. He has always been the shoulder for his wife and children to lean on, and the courage and perseverance, they, and all who know him, look up to. The one thing about my Uncle Tuff, that is not tough, is his heart. Through all of life’s struggles, his heart has not hardened; it is soft, tender, and always loving.

When I hear the name, Tuff, or Marvin Colyer, I see an image in my mind. There is a man, like the Marlboro Man, for those who remember those old T.V. ads. He is dressed in a cowboy shirt, jeans, boots, chaps, and hat. He has a western scarf around his neck, not for style, but for protection from the elements. He wears leather gloves over calloused hands to protect him from cold weather and from rope burns. He sits on a top-notch cow horse with his rope ready to make a loop, and a good cow dog following alongside.

When he gets off that horse, he walks; a little bow-legged, spurs a-jingling, with a smile of contentment on a sun weathered face, knowing he is living the life he loves… the life of the American Cowboy.

I love you Uncle Tuff!