Old Shep

Shep by ditchJust about everyone has a pet that was a best friend.  I know  I did. Old Shep was my Dad’s. They grew up together on the family ranch in Bruneau, Idaho.  They worked and played together, and shared all of life’s little lessons along the way.

Through the years Dad talked often of Old Shep with much affection.  A couple of years ago I was visiting Dad. He came out of the bedroom with a book of old cowboy songs. His eyes were full of tears as he handed me the book opened to the song, “Old Shep.”  I knew this song from my childhood. What I didn’t know is how closely it mirrored the story of my father, Jim Craig, and his Old Shep. By the time I finished reading the lyrics, we were both in tears.

Happy 93rd birthday Dad!   I love you..

Old Shep

When I was a lad

And Old Shep was a pup,

Over hills and meadows we’d stray.

Just a boy and his dog

We were both full of fun.

We grew up together that way.

I remember the time at the old swimmin’ hole

When I would have drowned beyond doubt.

But old Shep was right there

To the rescue he came

He jumped in and then pulled me out.

As the years fast did roll,

Old Shep, he grew old.

His eyes were fast growing dim.

And one day the doctor looked at me and said,

“I can do no more for him, Jim.”

With hands that were trembling,

I picked up my gun,

And aimed it at Shep’s faithful head.

I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to run.

I wished they would shoot me instead.

So I threw down that old gun,

Ran right up to his side.

He laid his faithful old head right on my knee.

And friends, I stroked the best pal

A man ever found.

I cried so I scarcely could see.

Now Old Shep knew he was going to go,

‘cause he reached out and licked at my hand,

Then he looked up at me

Just as much to say, I hate to

But you understand.

Old Shep, he has gone where the good doggies go,

And no more with Old Shep will I roam.

But if dogs have a heaven there’s one thing I know,

Old Shep has a wonderful home.

Songwiriters: Arthur Willis/Clyde J. Foley

White Lace and Promises

I want to tell you about a walk of promises…white lace and promises.  It started forty seven years ago.

Mike and Sherry dad walking me down aisle

It started with my arm in my Dad’s. Both of us with mixed feelings of joy and anxious anticipation. We both knew that at the end of that aisle, our relationship would forever be changed. He would always be my Dad, and I would forever be his little girl, but it would be different from here on out.

Mike and Sherry dad giving me away

As we neared the end of that aisle, all I could see was the face that would become my partner in the walk of the rest of my life.  My heart was overflowing with happiness!

Mike and Sherry wedding Mr. & Mrs

And just like that we were married!

Mike and Sherry Yay!

Not yet knowing what all that meant, but we were just excited to start the journey.

Mike and Sherry weddin rings

Rings on our fingers, my hand upon his, we had no idea that this would be the picture that would define us.  Hand in hand, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health..we have hung onto each others hands through it all.  And through it all God who joined us together has never left us nor forsaken us.

Mike and Sherry wedding. rice

So we left that church, hand in hand, rice in our hair and good wishes from friends and family.

White Lace and Promises was one of the songs sang at our wedding.  The other was He. We started a new walk that day. A walk that would rely on promises made in a white tuxedo and white lace. And it has been He who sustains us to this day.

This was the best walk I’ve ever taken.  The years between then and now have somehow flown so quickly. We have three beautiful children who have blessed us with nine wonderful grandchildren.

Our life has been a good one. I am so thankful for the man that walked me down that aisle, and so in love with the man who walked me back.

I love you Michael Russell and so glad for God and White Lace and Promises!

 

The Morning Light

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My Mom Harriett Wells Craig 1948

My Mom, my beautiful sweet Mom, how I miss her! As you can see in the picture above, she had the most radiant, sweet smile.  She just oozed of love and tenderness.

She was the greatest mother, and was my friend. She was the example I will strive the rest of my life to be like, even though I know I will never succeed.  She was one of a kind.

Mom has been with Jesus for many years.  I no longer mourn for her, but sometimes I miss her so much it hurts. But when I do I try to think back on this poem I wrote for her a few years after her death.  It reminds me that she is still, and always will be with me. She lives in my memory and in my heart.

Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven Mom!

The Morning Light

There’s a place in the morning light,

A moment…there just for awhile,

when the newness of the day shines through,

I see your caring smile.

And it gives me hope for the day at hand,

courage to look and see,

at all God has blessed me with,

especially my family.

There are times when a warm wind stirs,

and the trees so gently sway.

I feel your faith sweep over me,

and it blows my cares away.

When I’m feeling stressed, and out of sorts,

in a rush with no where to go,

I sit by the side of a quiet stream,

and your patience begins to flow.

If I try to give up, and my strength fails me,

your hand I feel on my shoulder.

Like a granite rock, your courage and grace

hold me up, and I feel much bolder.

I sit in the calm of the evening hour,

amazed at the setting sun,

feeling overwhelmed that the day has passed,

and your life on earth is done.

When the empty hollow in my heart

seems more than I can bear,

heaven’s stars shine through your eyes,

and I feel your presence there.

I close my eyes and drift in sleep,

blessed more than any other,

for everything the day beholds,

is touched by the love of my mother.

Sheryl Craig Russell

My Barrel of Fun!

Mike Bucking Barrell
Mike, just a kid at heart…on his grandsons’ bucking barrel

This man I am married to…what a blessing he has been to my life.

He is the father to our three children and Grandpa to our nine grandchildren. He is loved by them all.

But no one could love him more than I do. He was my friend before we were married and still is.  However he is so much more than just my “friend.”  He is truly my soul mate. Half the time he knows what I’m going to say before I get through half a sentence and will finish it for me.  Other times he can look at me and say, “You were thinking about______ weren’t you?… so was I.”  He can read me, he knows me, he feels my pain, and he is the best thing that ever happened to me.

He knows when I’m mad…I usually make that very obvious.  He can make me laugh when I am mad enough at him to spit!  And just like that my anger melts and we are laughing together!

He is always my shoulder when I’m going through trouble or disappointment.  His is the hand I hold when we walk.  His is the smile that lights up my life.

But it is his heart…his light hearted inner heart, with the spontaneous joy of a child, that made me fall in love with him and keeps me there today!

Mike has blessed me with his love. He has made my life not only complete, but he has made my life a barrel of fun!

Happy birthday Mike!

 

Crown of Thorns

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The crown of thorns.  Why did Jesus wear the crown of thorns?  I’ve read the Bible…more than once.  But I don’t always connect the deeper symbolisms that are hidden in God’s Word.

My simple mind never thought of it more than a way to humiliate and torture him.

Matthew 27: 29 (Amplified Bible ) And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head, and put a reed in His right hand [as a scepter]. Kneeling before Him, they ridiculed Him, saying, “Hail, (rejoice) King of the Jews!”

I recently purchased “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn.  I have only started it, but it is already opening my mind and helping me to understand how simple are the complexities of the Bible. Everyone should get this book, especially if like me you want to have a deeper understanding of the Bible and a closer relationship with God.

Why thorns? It goes back to Genesis and the fall of man.  God told Adam that because of what he had done, “the ground is now under a curse, both thorns and thistles it will grow for you.”

The curse, the thorns, brings pain, piercing, blood, tears, and destruction.

As Mr. Kahn explained, the crown is a symbol of royalty, power, authority, wealth, and glory.

It may seem as if they placed the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus to ridicule Him and torture Him, but in reality it was God, Jesus himself, who placed it there as a symbol.

He became the King of Thorns for us; the King of the broken, pierced, wounded, and rejected, all those whose eyes and hearts are full of tears.  He took our curse upon himself. He took authority over it. He did it so that whosoever should call upon His name might have everlasting life and share in His glory!

Because He took authority over the “thorns” we are no longer under the curse, but under His Grace.

Why did I never understand the importance of the Crown of Thorns?

406….Montana Day

Russell Ranch

Montana’s area code is 406, so April 6 has become known to us Montanans as Montana Day.  The above picture is of my husband’s family ranch. This picture was taken by our house looking over a portion of the ranch where we lived for about twenty years.

I was not born in Montana, but it has become the place I call home.  Its rugged, breathtaking beauty, its western way of life, the presence of God I feel when I stand in its outdoors; these things are why I call myself a Montanan.

I have lived many different places in my lifetime and I loved things about them all. If I ever live somewhere else in the future, I know I would be able to adjust and find the beauty of wherever I may find myself.  But Montana is in my soul, and wherever I might wander I know my heart will always be here.

Beneath  The Big Sky

Oh Montana, where my heart resides,

no matter where I be,

your mountains high and plains so wide

are all my eyes can see.

The roaring of your rivers, wild,

restore my inner peace.

Your morning air of fragrant pine,

bring joys that never cease.

You fill my heart with western dreams

in God’s most favorite place;

my blood with passion, wild and free,

my soul, with awe and grace.

Not for fame untold, do I want,

nor gold with which to die.

I simply want to live my life

beneath your blue, Big Sky.

Sheryl Craig Russell

Back in the Day

Otis Wells, Harriet Wells (2)
Granddad Otis Wells & Mom    Harriett Wells Craig

I love going through old pictures. I found this one of my Mother and her Dad.  I’m not sure if this was taken before Mom and Dad were married or not, but it had to be close to that time.  I believe this was taken in Bruneau, ID.

I wish I knew more about it.  I wonder where Granddad was headed with the load of lumber, and what it was to be used for. I wish I could ask them about it but they both left us many years ago. It will be one of the questions I will ask them when we meet again.

Dad used to tell me about one of the first times he ever saw Mom.  He said she was standing on a wagon with her father.  She caught Dad’s eye and he was smitten! He told me he said to himself, “Someday I am going to marry that girl!” And I am sure glad he did!

I wonder if this was the wagon or maybe even that first time he saw her.  It may not be, but I choose to romanticize that it is.  I can see in my mind’s imagination my Mom looking my Dad’s way and their eyes locking.  I can see Dad smiling and giving her a wink, and I  see Mom blushing.

craig wedding
Jim and Harriett Craig wedding day

Theirs was a love story that lasted until Mom died. They were the best parents and I and my sister were so blessed by them both and the example they left us with.

Yep, I choose to believe this is the  wagon that started it all …way back in the day!

 

 

Granddad Ed

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Ed Craig

Oh how I love this man! His name is Ed Craig and I was lucky enough to call him my grandfather.

This is such a good picture of him…the classic cowboy! And a classy cowboy is what he really was.  He was born and raised on the family ranch in Bruneau, ID.  He was a stock contractor, supplying rodeo stock for near by rodeos.  He built the rodeo grounds in Bruneau. He roped and steer wrestled, and was a rodeo judge also. He also trained quarter horses for many years.

We lived on the same California horse ranch as Granddad and Grandma Craig for several years.  It was here that I got to know the man I called Granddad as my friend.

He would go fishing with us, riding with us, swimming with us, and dance with us. And let me tell you my Granddad could dance! I was told he won a dance contest in the roaring 20’s.  I wish I could have seen that!  He did teach my sister and I a few steps of the Charleston. He also taught us to polka which was one of his favorites.  He could waltz, two-step, and would even do the twist, jerk, and mash potatoe with us! The following picture is of him dancing with me on his eightieth birthday.

grandad dancing

Granddad loved all types of music and had a pretty good collection of records and tapes.

I can remember sitting in the ranch office in the barn visiting with him.  It was there he taught me to braid reins (wish I could still remember how to do that). He also would go over pedigrees of the horses with me.

Granddad loved life.  He loved his family, his horses, his way of life, his music, and hobbies.  He was very creative. He did a lot of leathercraft, and woodworking.  He loved to garden and even cooked on occasion.

Oh….how I love this man!

 

 

 

 

December Blessings

IMG_0658Forty three years ago today this sweet little girl entered our life.  She has been a constant blessing to us ever since.  She was always cute as a button…still is.  She always had a loving heart…still does.  She always had a mind of her own…still does. She always lit up the room with her sparkling eyes of laughter and that bubbly smile and spirit…still does!

Holly is a self-proclaimed “NOT girly girl”! When she was little I would put her up in a pretty little dress and she would insist on wearing her cowboy boots and sometimes her jeans with it.  She was determined she could do anything her older brother and Daddy could do.

That trait carried over to her adult life. She worked alongside her Daddy and her now husband as a wildland firefighter. She was a certified engine boss and my husband said she was one of the best crew members he ever had.

 

The first picture is Holly working the water hose on the engine with her dad.  The second picture is Holly and her now husband Travis on a fire line break.

Although she may not be the typical girly girl, Holly is a very , beautiful, feminine and loving wife and mother.

Holly family1

Happy birthday to our curly-haired little girl named Holly…..IMG_0650_Moment(8)

..and her curly haired little girl Mikaylee Belle who turned two yesterday! December blessings that last all year-long!  Love you both, Mom.

Never Forget…Pearl Harbor

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Jim Craig

Today, December 7,  is Pearl Harbor Day.  It was on December 7, 1941 that we were the target of a surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the U.S Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This attack led to the U.S. entry into WWII.

There were 2,403 Americans killed in this attack and 1,178 more who were injured.

Over 350 Japanese aircraft bombarded American targets sinking or damaging 21 warships and destroying over 150 of our planes.

My father, Jim Craig, served in the Navy and was stationed in Pearl Harbor.  Thankfully, that was after the attack, and he did not have to go through the attack itself.  He was however a witness to its much of the devastation.

 

These pictures show Dad enjoying a little “free time” in Hawaii.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt would call December 7 ( ” a day that will live in infamy.”)

Let us prove him right and like Sept.11…. Let us Never Forget Pearl Harbor.