That Radiant Smile

Shelly Hjelvik Link

My heart, oh how it aches.  Another dear friend has left this earth.

This life is so fleeting.  When I was young I never thought about time much…except I thought it drug on forever.  From the time school started until Christmas break, seemed like years.  Now from one Christmas until the next seems like days.  Please, my family and friends that I love, and complete strangers out there, if you haven’t asked Jesus into your heart, and asked Him to be Lord of your life, please…..don’t wait any longer.  Do it now.  Jesus said we are like the grass of the field; here today and gone tomorrow.

That is how it was with Shelly.  She was full of life, vibrant, laughing, and loving those around her.  Then from out of nowhere she was having severe headaches.  She went to the hospital and discovered she had stage IV melanoma cancer.  In less than two short weeks God claimed her sweet soul.

Shelly radiated joy.  She wore it like a halo.  She had bad times in her life, like we all do.  But I never once met her anywhere, or under any circumstance, that she didn’t break into that big wide, warm, smile of hers.  She was full of hugs.  Her eyes sparkled like only those that love life can.

She comes by those characteristics naturally.  They were given to her by two of the most special people I’ve ever met….her parents.

Shelly will be missed by so many people.  Our hearts are heavy with mourning right now.

Even though God tells us not to mourn, like those who do not know Him, he never tells us not to mourn.  Jesus himself cried and mourned for his friend Lazarus, even when he knew he was about to raise him from the dead.

I know Shelly is in a place where there is no more pain or tears.  I know she knows Jesus.  I know I will see her again.  I know, like her dad, Johnny told me, with tears of grief in his eyes, that “We have a good God.”

But my heart still aches.  I miss that radiant smile.



Amazing Firefighters!

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Pinecrest Fire, Columbus,MT 7-30-2017

My husband Mike used to own a contract wildland fire fighting company called Castle Creek Fire.  He had an engine and a water tender and used to work on fires like this one.  My daughter and now son-in-law worked along side of him.

The work is dangerous, hard, both physically and mentally, and sometimes, greatly under appreciated.

However, they all loved it.  They loved the adrenaline rush, and they loved being able to save property and lives, sometimes at the risk of their own.

Me, I loved it when they came home safe.

Firefighters are a special breed of people.  They run into fires when human instinct (definitely mine) is to run from them.

Most people who have ever had fire threaten their homes and community and see up close what firefighters do and what they go through, gain a sense love and appreciation for their selfless acts of courage.

I know from personal experience when the Derby fire burned part of  our ranch, and many in our community lost homes and structures, what a God send they were.  I don’t know what we all would have done without them.  My husband, both sons-in-laws, daughter, and many friends and neighbors were part of that crew.

My husband and daughter no longer fight fire, for which I’m thankful.  I do still have two sons-in-laws still active on local rural fire departments.

In fact, Travis, who worked with my husband and daughter is an EMT and Battalion Chief on the Columbus Fire Dept, and is one of the firefighters on this fire.

We were out for a Sunday drive and stopped and took pictures of some of the fire.  It was started next to the freeway and quickly crested the hill and is threatening homes in that area.  I know they issued an evacuation notice yesterday and am praying it is now under control.

Mike was able to get some amazing photos of jet retardant planes dropping retardant to make an effective fire line.  He also got some good shots of helicopters making water drops on hot spots.  It was pretty amazing to watch.

Hope you enjoy watching their expertise!


Lead plane leading jet in for retardant drop

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Jet retardant plane

Helicopter making water drop
Son-in-law Travis, with his family


Look A-Likes


I love looking through old pictures.  My sister and I don’t really look-alike physically.  We are three years apart.  Our facial features are different, our personalities are different.  Our body types are different.  Even as children, she was taller and more slender and I was short and stocky!  Unfortunately (for me) it is the same today.

When I started going through pictures of our young years, it occurred to me that our Mother secretly wanted twins!  I am only sharing a couple here, but there are ALOT of pictures of us wearing the same outfits.

I didn’t remember us dressing alike so much until the pictures reminded me.  When I think back now, I can remember more alike outfits than we have pictures for!

At first I thought that this was odd.  When I was talking to my Sis, she laughed and said , “I don’t think Mom really wanted twins!  If you remember, she ordered most of our clothes out of Sears and Penney’s catalogues!”

Apparently we either always wanted the same outfit, or they were cheaper by “two’s!”

Anyway, I love that I looked “a little” like my big sister!

One Sweet Soul

20232369_1579077858809025_2567538328378904420_oMy heart has been heavy this week.  A young man very dear to me and my husband, and children, passsed away.  He graduated with our son, and was one of his best friends.  He was also a good friend to both of our daughters.

It did not take long for him to gain our affections as well.  In fact, I believe everyone who  got to know him, thought the world of him.

He was born with a disability that led him through a lifetime of surgeries and physical struggles.  He had every right to feel sorry for himself, to be depressed, and bitter.

But this was not in his nature.  Jason, or “Cricket” as he was lovingly known by us, always had a smile on his face.  He never passed us anywhere without a wave.

He was very social and The Cowboy Bar and Supper Club in Fishtail, was his gathering place.  Any time we stopped in there for dinner, if he was there and spotted us, he would try and buy us a drink.

He had a big, kind heart, and was one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known.  My prayers go out to his family.  I hope it helps them in their grief somehow to know he was loved by so many.  I know they have a hole in their hearts right now.  So do we.  So does the community in which he lived.

We hope to see you again in heaven someday Jason.  Until then, rest in the arms of Jesus.

I Can Do This ~

Love this poem by Deborah Ann…Needed this today

CHRISTian poetry ~ by deborah ann

I Can Do This ~ CHRISTian poetry by deborah ann
I can do this,
I will get through it
for I have Christ
He gives me the grit.

I can climb this,
this I can do
for I have Jesus
and His power too.

I can battle this,
yes, I will win
for I have Christ
and His strength within.

I can handle things,
this storm I can face
for I have Jesus
and His constant grace.

I can do this,
I will get through this
for I have Christ
how could I ever miss!


Philippians 4:13
King James Version

“I can do all things through
Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Copyright 2012
Deborah Ann Belka

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Sweet Home of Liberty

Home of Champions Rodeo, Red Lodge, MT

It is the 4th of July.  Fireworks have been going off in Laurel, MT for the last couple of days.  Tonight is the big show.  Laurel has the largest fireworks show I’ve ever seen.  It is truly amazing!  The  town is overflowing with people.  They come from near and far to watch the show this small town puts on.

It is a celebration and a half!  There are food vendors, craft vendors, and drawings for fantastic prizes for all who donated to the annual show.

My husband and I, and many others, had the day off.  It is easy to get caught up in the activities and forget what we are celebrating.

The fourth of July is our independence day.

We are so lucky to live in the United States of America; land of the free, and home of the brave.

We went to the Red Lodge Rodeo this weekend.  When the Stars and Stripes made its way around the arena in the Grand Entry, you could feel the patriotism; the respect and love for what that flag stands for.

I hope you all had a great 4th.  May we never forget how special our freedoms are.

Sweet Home of Liberty

Sweet home of liberty,

where I can live the way I choose.

I can worship in my church of choice.

I can read the daily news.

I can vote for whom I wish to,

without fear of retaliation,

and speak my mind, and disagree

with the leaders of my nation.

I have the right to pursue my dreams.

My life is of my making.

But with that right comes sacrifice,

some giving with the taking.

Sweet home of liberty,

forgive me if I brag,

about the honor, love, and valor,

that stands behind your flag.

Sheryl Craig Russell


My Dad, My Hero

My Dad, Jim Craig

It is Father’s Day.  I know I’ve said it before, but I mean it.  My Dad is my hero.

He gave me the best life.  He taught me right from wrong.  He taught me to love nature, horses, and all animals, small and great.  He taught me by example how to respect all people.  He taught me how to respect myself.

Dad was always present in my life.  He still is.  Even though we live hundreds of miles apart he keeps in touch almost every day.  He is my encourager, and my comforter.  He is the root of at least half of my childhood memories (Mom being the other 1/2) and they were almost  all good ones.

Even when the memories were not good ones, he was beside me and made them some of my most precious ones.  I remember once we were playing hide and seek in the hay loft.  There was a small door that led from the loft to the ceiling of the ranch shop connected to the barn.  Dad told us many times to NEVER go in there.  It was not safe.  Like many kids, I did not always think my Dad’s warnings were all that big of a deal.

I hid in that room and ended up falling through the ceiling.  When I fell, my arms flew out to my side and I caught the support beams under my armpits.  I was hanging there, looking at the cement floor and large anvil below me.  I was scared to death, mostly of the licking Dad was going to give me.  I knew I was in for it!  My sister helped me up by telling me to walk up the nail and bolt bins attached to the wall.  When I was safe again in the loft, I waited with dread, while Pat went and got Dad.  To my amazement, I only remember him holding me and asking if I was alright.  I think he asked me if I learned my lesson, but there was no punishment, just the loving arms I so needed!

Dad was, is, and always will be my friend and biggest hero.  I love you Dad.