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.

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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.

Days of Thanksgiving…Day 16

My life would not have been the same without my sister.  Almost all of my memories are her memories and vice versa.  We grew up on ranches and had the best childhood any kid could hope for.

We go back aways…yes, we really did share that little old bath tub! We also shared special Christmas memories like the one above when we got our fluffy warm hand muffs. The sledding picture was taken in Fairfield, ID.  We had so much fun on that hill, and Duke our sidekick was always with us! The last picture was on the Double J Bar N Ranch in Healdsburg, CA.  It was a beautiful horse ranch. We shared so many memories there. That tree was an apple tree.  I remember we used to stand on top of that fence and pick apples for mom to bake pies for supper.

Today I am thankful for my best and longest friend…my sister!

sisters Church

Days of Thanksgiving…Day 15

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Mom, Harriett Wells Craig

November is full of family birthdays for me.  Today is my mother’s.  She is celebrating in heaven.  Although she is 89 today, I know that in heaven she is as young and vibrant as she is in this picture.

I used to mourn my mother, but not anymore. How can I mourn for someone who is in the presence of Jesus? Not only that but I know she is also in the presence of many members of her family. She is full of life and joy.

Because I don’t mourn her anymore doesn’t mean I don’t miss her.  I miss her a lot. I know someday I will see her again and that fills me with joy overflowing.

The first few years after Mom’s death, when I thought of her, I thought of her as dead. That left me feeling sad and burdened.  I knew she had given her heart to God, so I knew “someday” she would live again.  It wasn’t until I surrendered to Jesus and really started seeking Him that I discovered something that changed my outlook.  It was the passage in 2 Corinthians which states that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Her body (tent) may have worn out and died, but her spirit is indeed with Jesus! That is what enabled me to stop mourning and rejoice for her

My Mom was the most beautiful woman I have ever known.  She was full of grace, mercy, kindness, and love.  She always had a sincere and radiant smile. I don’t believe she ever met anyone that didn’t love, respect, and admire her.

Today I am thankful for my mother.  Happy birthday sweet lady!

 

 

Days of Thanksgiving..Day 14

Here He Comes!

There is so much pain, darkness, and strife right now in the world. It breaks my heart.

Christians around the world are being persecuted and martyred just because of their belief in a loving and just God.

Mass shootings and terrorist attacks killing innocent people for no apparent reason happen so often now that it doesn’t seem to shock me anymore.  Saddens me, angers me, drops me to my knees in prayer, but doesn’t shock me.

Natural disasters occur continuously, changing with the seasons and seem to be intensifying with frequency and destruction; tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, floods, and fire.

Right now it is the California fires that torment my heart.  I used to live somewhat close to that area.  The pictures of people in cars trying to flee that didn’t make it, whole towns and communities destroyed, it is horrible! The death count now is up to 50 and the possibility to climb into the hundreds. I can only imagine the pain of survivors and family as they wait for news of their loved ones.

I took this picture this fall when a thunderstorm was building.  When I saw it, it gave me goosebumps. The bright spot right in the middle looks like an angel to me.

All I could think of was a couple of lines from the song, “Days Of Elijah.”

“And though these are the days of great trial, of famine, and darkness, and sword……Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpet call. Lift your voice, it’s the year of Jubilee and out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes!”

Today I am thankful for God’s promise, that we will soon see that bright spot, Jesus, coming back, riding on the clouds, bringing eternal life to all who love him.

Days of Thanksgiving…Day 13

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Bob Campbell

Today is my brother-in-law’s birthday. He is married to my only sibling, Pat.  Bob is a goofy, and somewhat daredevil sort of guy.  He likes practical jokes, motorcycles, boats, “jeeping”, which means in his case, driving a jeep in the desert over rocks and tight spots that doesn’t look anything like fun to me!

When I was fresh out of nursing school I went to live with Bob and Pat for almost a year. He was gracious enough to let me share their home and always made me feel like part of the family.

We used to go to the mall, lots of time just to window shop.  His favorite practical joke on me (along with my loving sis), was when we were walking back to the car.  We would get almost to the car and they would take off running, get in the car, drive off and leave me standing in the parking lot by myself. Of course they just went around the corner and watched me for a couple of minutes and then came and picked me up.  We would all be laughing hysterically.  That was funny the first time, amusing the second time, and came with a theat that I would get even with him the third.

That came a couple of weeks later when again we went shopping. Pat and I were walking in front of him with the kids in the stroller.  Every time we walked past a few people, I would lean over to Pat and say in a whisper, but loud enough for people to hear, “He is still following us, what should we do?”  When there was a pretty good group of people we were walking by, I repeated  the line to Pat, and then stopped, turned around to him, and said very loudly, “What is the matter with you?  Quit following us!!”  He was so embarrassed that he turned around and left. He didn’t catch up with us until we were half way across the store!

It was my turn to laugh hysterically.  He was a good sport and said “that one was a good one, Sherry.” ….. That also was the last time he left me in the parking lot.

Today I am thankful for Bob.

Days of Thanksgiving…Day 12

 

Like Michael Martin Murphy says in his song, I come from a long line of love; both above me and below me.  If you click on the individual pictures you can see who they all are.

I knew and loved everyone in these pictures except for my Great Grandparents Harriett and Absalom Wells, but hope to meet them in heaven someday.

I have been so blessed to have been raised in such an incredible family of love. This is my direct line and of course there are many extended lines of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

We were all pretty close growing up.  Time and distance has separated a lot of us, but thanks to social media, those ties are now being refreshed.

Today I am thankful for my family.