Renee Weatherbee

November 2011 - Renee's Ramblings

Posted:  November 28, 2011



Kelly Thompson, a radio DJ, advertising copy writer and author, from Pierre, SD, recently nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, an award started by one of her fellow bloggers to recognize the works of their favorite bloggers.  She listed me among her list of 15 others.  I trust her expertise and judgment and feel honored to be included in this group.  While I haven’t read all of her favs, I have checked out a few and those I have read, I wonder how she came to include me in such a talented group, but again, I am touched. 

I read Kelly’s blog each time she posts and I love her creativity, humor and her great storytelling ability.  In fact, I believe she has what it takes to be a best selling author and I look forward to seeing her work on my Kindle one day.  I haven’t personally met her, but she’s passed on encouraging words to me.  She calls me a poet, writer and photographer.  While I am those things (in my own mind), it feels great to be acknowledged by others and with her professional background, I’m pretty certain she knows her stuff. 

Unfortunately, right now I am unable to claim the award as instructed on her blog, as I don’t currently read 15 blogs, therefore can’t name 15 favorites.  I can say I look forward to reading hers and never feel like it’s an infringement on my time and that hers would be on the top of my list every time. 

Another very talented blogger (poet) on her list is the Ramblin’ Christian Gypsy.  In fact, I am not even in her caliber as a poet, nor hope to be.  She writes in a bold, contemporary style and her words just flow across the page. 

I will make it an effort to read Kelly’s other favorites in the near future.  For now, I am adding a link for any readers on my site who might want to try reading other perspectives and fresh ideas.   If Kelly says so, they are good!

Thanks, Kelly, for the honor!

Here’s the link to her post listing her favorite bloggers:


Al and I at Arin's wedding in 2007.

Al in 2011 - 87 lbs lighter and, no, it wasn't my cooking (or lack of)!

Posted:  November 23, 2011

Positive Word of the Day:  Delightful

  1. (adj.) delightful

giving delight; highly pleasing:  a delightful surprise.


On every thorn, delightful wisdom grows,
In every rill a sweet instruction flows.
Edward Young

Song of Solomon 1:2
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine. (NIV)

Song of Solomon 4:10
How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! (NIV)

This is going to sound very ironic coming from me, a woman who is divorced three times, but I find it delightful that God delights in marriage and blesses the union of two people.  I also find it delightful that God is forgiving, and so, I know without a doubt that he doesn't hold my past mistakes against me, and Lord knows there were many.

Even throughout all the mayhem of my life as it were, having not had the wisdom at the time to trust God to lead me to the right person for me, beautiful things came out of two of those unions of marriage that did not work out, mainly my three beautiful daughters, Amber, Angel and Arin, who have been my greatest delight and accomplishment in life.  As for the third marriage, I am learning the delightful art of forgiveness. 

I have known what I thought was romantic love a few times too many, but until I realized fully that the only real love I needed was God’s unconditional love, everything else fell short in my expectations.  It has been a great delight to me to realize this.  I could have saved myself and others lots of trouble had I let that be known to my heart, but then I may have missed out on the biggest blessing of all, being a mother to my sweet girls.    

I’m not saying I have regrets.  All things in the past bring us to the people we become today.  In some things, I had to learn the hard way.  It’s as if God was saying, “You can keep throwing yourself against this same wall, and I’ll still be here for you, but when you’re ready to give up and trust me, then I can help you.”

When my third husband demanded a divorce, I found myself completely humiliated and felt lower than any creature on earth.  It was when I sat in the darkness (of my soul) and told myself that I had no one to blame, but myself, for not heeding to the red flags and the warning signs and the well-meant pleas from friends and relatives, that my life truly began to change for the better.  I had nowhere to turn but up, raising my hands to God and turning control over to him. 

That’s when my life began accelerating for the better.  Within a year after that I met my fourth husband (yes, I still cringe when I say that), Al, who is my latest and greatest and last.  We met through e-Harmony, as silly as it sounds, and we almost missed each other, as my subscription had run out, but I still received a communication that he was “a perfect match” for me.  I didn’t want to pay the extra money to resign up.  Even though I had fun the past six months exploring this social technique of meeting other men, it didn’t seem like it was all it was meant to be, and I had decided I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship anyway.  I knew I had work to do on myself yet.  But God wouldn’t let it die and for several days the thought keep nagging me that even though I didn’t want to be in a romantic relationship, maybe I should meet this guy for a friendship.  So I repaid my subscription for three months.  Very quickly, Al and I began emailing and then talking on the phone.  We met and I honestly have to say, I didn’t think we had a romantic connection, but immediately I felt I had a new friend that I could trust.

So we began our friendship.  I had just recently moved to Rapid City and now had someone to hang out with, someone to burn dinners for, someone to listen to my woes and someone who seemed to love doing the things I loved, but more important than that, I found out that he had the personality characteristics that meshed with my own.  He was easy-going, gentle, understanding, funny and most of all patient.  After four months of spending almost every day together, things began to change romantically.  When we kissed there was a spark I never expected to be there.  The initial attraction wasn’t as strong as it had been with others I’d known (for both of us, I am sure), but we went past that and really got to know one another on a deeper and more intimate level than I had ever experienced before (oops, I think I just quoted Dr. Neal Clark Warren from eHarmony!).  Al understood the person I was and supported my dreams and desires.  He didn’t hold any of my past against me, even though he had been a loyal man to his loving wife, Jaew, of thirty-four years.  She was a devoted mother to their two sons, Tommy and Jimmy.  She had recently passed away after suffering from a long illness.  He couldn’t possibly relate to the kind of life I had lived, but he didn’t judge me either.  I know firsthand what a great husband he is, and now, after meeting his sons, I knew for sure how great of a father he was and is, just by how they accepted me into their dad’s life, so soon after their mother’s passing. 

That is why I feel God has blessed us as a couple and that it was His hand that brought us together.  That is why I delight in letting go and letting God take control of my life. By doing that, He found me the greatest love of my life, a man who is a great provider, a gentle spirit, a loving husband, a faithful Christian, a willing friend to my daughters, a perfect role model as a father, and a grateful grandparent to my grandchildren, as he is to his own.  I love you, Al, and delight in who you are.  How romantic is that?

Posted November 21, 2011

(Written for an essay contest titled "If I Ruled The World" - I never actually submitted it...but I like the message. To my new friends in Virginia - I know you're not the cause of the problem here.  You are are salt of the earth.) 



The world we inhabit today is bombarded with countless issues of social injustices, political tribulations and horrific aftermaths of natural disasters.  Worldwide, people are dealing with the stresses of overcoming these obstacles.  There are no easy solutions to any of these issues and I defer to the experts to sort it all out. 

God blessed us human beings with a physical world so beyond beautiful that it can inspire us, bring us to tears and take our breath away.  Splendor can be discovered in any terrain across this planet where God gifted us, as humans, our Earth to care for.  Why then, do so many chose to defile that gift by littering our landscapes and neighborhoods?   This issue so strongly riles me that I was inspired to write the following poem:

Driving along the highway, I peal out my anger

Feel the need to stone those who fling their trash

I’d like to pounce upon their prideless, callous souls

That allow plastic, paper, and repulsive rubbish

To pile up like it’s some kind of finished fortune

What idiots steal away the beauty of this land?


Being not a worldly traveler, I cannot speak for all nations, but I have had the pleasure of traveling through thirty-seven states in the United States, a country where civic and corporate leaders joined together in 1953 to form the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign, which began running public service announcements in 1956.  Nothing instilled in me, personally, the callousness of littering like the commercial of the crying Native American standing by a littered creek bed.  I will never forget all the bumper stickers, litter bags and pamphlets that were handed out in school back in the sixties and seventies.  I remember being inundated with “Keep America Beautiful” messages via the television.  This national campaign was successful in that it converted me from a person who didn’t think twice about tossing a pop can out the car window, to someone who feels like if I did that, I would be committing a huge injustice to the planet.  I learned not to litter through all those memorable ads and efforts by the school systems to distribute the materials. 

            Why then, I often wonder, did some states not receive this message or if they did, how then have they come upon a day and age where there seems to be no community pride in their lands? Traveling through some states, for example, the Commonwealth of Virginia, it’s as if the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign never existed, an atrocity, because Virginia is so closely tied to our nation’s founding history.  Virginia has so much to offer its citizens and visitors, but its jewels are marred by ugly, unsightly, repulsive amounts of trash lying along their roadways both in and outside their cities’ limits.  It’s a shame.  I cannot help but think about that crying Native American throwing up his hands in total disgust and becoming disheartened, because his efforts to change people’s attitudes never reached many of the citizens of Virginia.

            If I ruled the world, I would revive the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign back to its previous glory and educate our children from kindergarten on up.  I would pay for that organization to develop new ads that are every bit as touching and effective as the ads from their earlier days.  I would encourage them to change the campaign to be “Keep Earth Beautiful” as littering is a worldwide problem. 

            If I ruled the world, I would join together many of the unemployed in America to develop a government program to pay them a fair wage to free this country of litter.  This program would keep unemployed Americans busy for years to come.  I would employ some as “litter police” and give them the authority to enforce stiff fines toward offenders. 

            Certainly, littering isn’t our world’s biggest problem, but it may be the easiest to fix.  Of course, landfills are another issue, but I believe that the public is striving to resolve that problem with recycling.  I believe that if this world was less trashed with litter, our pride in our world would grow and people would be less likely to disrespect this God-given world by trashing it.  I believe that by fixing smaller issues, we can work toward finding solutions to the bigger ones.





Posted:  November 17, 2011 

(This was a short story I wrote for a contest a few years ago that I didn't win.  I still like the story, but there's always room for improvement.  I would welcome any suggestions how to make it better.)

The Tractor

By Rita Renee Weatherbee

“Why you sitting there moppin’?”

“I hate it here, Gramps, there’s nothing to do.”

“Josh, there’s so much to do, I can’t keep up.  You’re mom sent you here to teach you the value of a hard day’s work.  I wanna teach you about your heritage.  Pull up those damn baggy pants and come with me.  I wanna show you something.”

“How can you stand it out here?  You’re so poor you don’t even have Internet?”

“Listen, you scamp, don’t let the bib overalls fool you.  I have more money than I know what to do with, part of which was going to fund your college education, but I may just change my mind about that, if you don’t stop flappin’ your mouth.  I hear you been skippin’ school and hanging out with thugs.  What’s that all about?”

“I hate school.  The teachers are so dumb.”

“It’s time you stopped acting like a hooligan and show some respect.”

“Mom and Dad are getting a divorce.”

“Don’t let their problems become your problems.  Here, push that button there and open the garage door.”

Josh stood with his mouth gaping open.  Just inside the door, glistening bright green in the sunlight stood something Josh couldn’t name.  “What’s that, Gramps?”

“That’s a 1930 John Deere GP tractor.  Been restored several times.  I’ve been offered lots of money for it.  Your great, great, grandpa, Henry Schmidt, bought it brand new.  Paid cash for it.  He was so proud of his tractor – that’s all he ever talked about.  He came over here from Germany to build a better life for his family.  He earned part of this place in the Homestead Act.  By growing wheat, he was able to purchase more farmland and buy this tractor.  He even bought a piano for my mother.  Then it hit, years of drought.  I was ten years old when the dust storms started.  Ma struggled to keep the dust out of the house by stuffing rags into the window sills, under the doors, anywhere where dirt could seep in.  It didn’t help much.  Sometimes, we had to wear wet bandanas tied over our noses and mouths to keep from inhaling dust.  Those bandanas got filthy black by bedtime.  You can’t imagine what it’s like to watch your baby brother choking and gasping for air, dying in Ma’s arms.  It broke her spirit.  She left when I was ten and we never heard from her again.  Pa’s heart was broken.  He didn’t get out of bed for a month.  Then his stubbornness kicked in and he got up.  He said God brought us here and we weren’t leaving.  He said he’d die here.  Ma had a lot of canned goods stored in the cellar that we lived on, but it had to be rationed.  My stomach was always grumbling back then.  It didn’t matter much, everything you ate tasted like dust anyway.  We had a few cows, but they weren’t fit to eat, skinny, starving animals they were.  The biggest dust storm ever hit in 1935 and buried this tractor.  The only thing you could see was this smoke stack sticking out of the ground.  It took us months to dig it out.  There was no paint left on it, stripped bare.  We had to take the whole thing apart piece by piece to dig out all the impacted dirt inside all the parts.  Most people would have left it as ruined, but Pa wouldn’t give up.  It was several years later before we had it all back together again, but we did it and it ran like it was brand new.  This tractor represents what hard work can do, son.  It represents your great, great grandfather’s stubborn determination to never lose faith in God, to carry on, to keep working and to be happy with what you got.  He weathered nearly a decade of nasty dust storms, lost his wife and son, nearly starved us both to death, but he came out on top.  He ended up with one of the wealthiest privately owned farms in Oklahoma.  Your great uncle, my oldest son, Heath Schmidt, doesn’t want nothing to do with this place.   I outlived my other son, Ronnie, your grandpa, so with only your mom left, I guess this place could be yours someday.”

“Really, Gramps!  Would you teach me how to farm?”

“Oh, I’ll teach you everything I know son, but you gotta promise me you’ll never sell this tractor.  You’ve gotta promise me you’ll stay out of trouble.  You’ll need to spend all your summers here learning about how to work the land.  You gotta promise me you’ll go to college and learn all about soil and wildlife conservation and crop production.  You have to take care of your legacy, Josh.”

“I promise!”

“Great.  Maybe you can teach me about computers.  I probably won’t live to see you take over this place, but I’ll put it in a trust for you as long as I see you working hard for it.  Now, get your butt moving.  We’ve got lots of work to do.”




Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel (just a small portion of the 23 mile expanse!

Beach at Cape Charles, VA (Eastern Shore of Virginia) where we saw dolphins swimming!

Autumn colors we got to experience this past weekend!


Posted:  November 13, 2011

Road Trippin’ With Renee & Al

Nearly panicked at the idea of spending three days together in our home over Veteran’s Day weekend, Al and I made the quick decision to go road trippin’.  The plan for the first day was to drive to Harrington, DE, where I could indulge in a little video gaming while Al could indulge in a little beer drinking.   It was a 210 mile trip from our house, but I was excited to see that we’d be going across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, probably my favorite thing to do in Virginia, and we’d be doing it not once, but twice.  We’d follow US Highway 13 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia all the way up to Delaware.  I like this highway, because you can drive by farmland (which reminds me of my homeland) and because there is less traffic than other routes you could take and fewer trees.  There are numerous quaint little towns you drive through.  It’s seems less populated than the area where we live.  The Chesapeake Bay area (of which the Eastern Shore of Virginia is a peninsula which lines it on east side and goes up the coast from Virginia Beach all the way up to Baltimore, MD on the western shore) is populated with 17 million people from Virginia all the way up to Maryland.  The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the world.  I know, I had to ask myself.  Definition copied from  An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.  In this case, it connects to the Atlantic Ocean. 

We arrived in Harrington a little after noon.  By 4:30, I’d decided I’d spent enough of Al’s hard earned money and Al decided he’d drunk enough beer to drown a rat, so we went to our hotel room.  The social butterflies that we are, we contemplated going dancing, but by 7:30pm, we were out like lights, which left us wide awake by 4:00am.  By 5:00am, we were on the road heading back to Virginia.  In less than an hour, we had traveled portions of three states, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, for after all we were on the Delmarva Peninsula, which is an area that is 180 miles long by 60 miles wide.  The Delmarva Peninsula goes through the Chesapeake Bay area and includes what is called the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  Have I totally confused you?  Probably, I know I’m still trying to picture it in my mind when we are driving around out here.  Most of the time, I don’t have a clue where we are and I thank God he gave someone the knowledge to invent the GPS for personal use.  I have to say that Maryland is probably the cleanest state, postcard picture perfect, we’ve traveled on the east coast with very little litter along the roadside and their restrooms are shiny clean.

Anyhow, we decided on the way home to take a little side road and drive over to Assateague Island National Seashore.  We drove through grassy marshes filled with waterfowl and bridges and inlets to get there, but we made it and it was well worth it.  We were surprised to see that all fees were waived that day in honor of our country’s Veterans.  Al was touched and excited to save a few dollars.  We walked along the Atlantic Ocean, watching three to five foot waves swell onto the shore. It was breezy, but that warm sun beat down on us from just over the horizon to the east.  We stayed there for about an hour and found three perfect conch shells to bring home, which to us, felt like treasure.  We missed the “wild” ponies as they are up north further, but we’d been there in 2008, and quite frankly, they were about as wild as a snail.  (They were so wild they allowed me to walk up and pet them without even looking up from their grazing.)

After traveling down Highway 13 for a couple hours, we saw a sign that said Cape Charles to the west four miles.  We made a last second split decision and Al sped around a corner to make the turn, the kind of turn that makes you reach out and grab onto whatever you can find, and headed west.  We were not sorry.  We found a picturesque public beach and fishing pier in Cape Charles.  We walked the beach for a few minutes admiring the white, sandy beach and the dunes that line it.  As we started walking way, I spied something out in the water about seventy five feet from shore.  It was dolphins swimming around!  We watched them come up out of the water and back down, their curved backs and fins just visible above the surface.  We stood there watching them get farther away out toward the deep water.  We left the shore area feeling like we’d been given a special gift from God.  It was enchanting. 

We drove down the streets of Cape Charles and noted many of the homes there are stunning Victorians, two and three stories – there were pale yellow ones, light green, aqua, blue and white.  They were lined up close together – all had front porches, many that wrapped around the whole house.  We daydreamed about owning one, but then came back to reality, but it’s always fun to dream. 

The sun burned bright that day, making the colors from the turning leaves on the trees stand out luminescent in golden shades mixed with colors of burnt siennas, brick reds, neon lime greens, rich rusty colors amidst a backdrop of forest greens. As we drove along, many of the leaves came floating down toward our car, dancing around in swirling patterns, almost as if they were giving us a show.  We drove with the sun roof wide open letting the sun warm our aging shoulders. 

We once again came upon the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnels, stated to be the largest bridge/tunnel complex in the world, spanning across the Chesapeake Bay from end to end for twenty three miles. I got the idea to take video of going across the bridge and into the tunnels with my camera.  I wanted to have video to show my family and friends back home.  I’d rather everyone come out and experience it in person, but this is the next best thing, I figured.  After watching it back, it looks almost as thrilling as it is to drive across.  There are two bridges and tunnel expanses side by side with two lanes each.  The first took forty two months to complete and opened in 1964.  The second took 46 months and opened in 1999.  The bay itself is 25 to 100 feet deep.  The builders of this bridge/tunnel complex won numerous engineering awards and all I can do is sit in awe every time we drive across and wonder how they did it.   There is a $12 toll for the bridge, but the money goes toward paying off the investments and bonds that were used to fund the projects.  No taxpayer dollars were or ever will be used.  It is particularly exciting and dizzying to drive across when the winds are blowing causing ten to twenty foot swells to slam against the concrete columns supporting the bridge.  I liken it to a carnival ride, maybe not quite as thrilling as a roller coaster, but close, in my mind, especially as you are flying through the tunnels.  Even though you go the speed limit, you can feel yourself being hypnotized by the hundreds of fluorescent tube lights speeding past you above as you feel your car going farther underground (underwater) all seeming to come to a V almost at a centrifugal force and just when you think you’re about to panic, you feel the car begin to ascend higher and finally, there in the distance, you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you breathe a sigh of relief. You come up out of the tunnel seeing the clear cerulean sky above melding with the aquamarine colors of the sea below, and it is nothing short of spectacular. 

We drove the rest of the way home in silence, each lost in our own worlds, relaxed and rejuvenated from another road trippin’  escapade.  Come join us, we’d love to show you around. 



Posted:  November 10, 2011


Today, I just want to thank everyone who has been encouraging me to keep writing.  You have no idea how much it means to me and how much it touches me deep down in my soul.  Some of you have filled out the guest book, some of you have filled out the contact form, some have made comments and liked my postings on Facebook.  A few have called or emailed.  I’ve heard from people I’ve never met.  One gentleman even went so far as to mail me pictures and a copy of a rodeo program from the 2nd annual rodeo  held in Interior and offered advice on how to do historical research.  I will forever treasure this little piece of history.  Some have said that my stories have made them cry, a few others have said that they were inspired.  That was my goal, to entertain, enlighten, educate or encourage and if I am doing that then I am successful.  I’d like to thank my husband, Al, who allows me this luxury of writing from home, because he believes in my writing ability.  I’d like to thank everyone who’s come to my website and read even just one posting.  That is what makes it worthwhile for me.  To date, I have had 350 unique visitors, 649 visits (which means some of you are coming back more than once!) and 1494 pages have been viewed since mid-May when I began posting.  I am stunned by this, as I don’t advertise.  Other than sometimes posting a link on Facebook, I don’t do any promotion.  I don’t personally know 350 people so I assume some of you are sharing my website with others.  For that, I thank you!  I try to write from the heart and sometimes write some very personal stuff, but as a writer you have to be able to do that.  It’s just wonderful to know that you have people who take time out of their very busy lives to read some of the things you write.  Being able to share this website with others has spurred me on to write everyday.  I’m working on other projects besides this website and sending out submissions as much as I can and I hope to be able to share more published work with you one day.  I’ve heard from relatives I haven’t seen for years, which is really cool.  I’ve heard from some of Al’s relatives I’ve never even met.  I write because I have to and because I feel God gave me this talent for a purpose.  Some days, I don’t know where I’m supposed to be taking it, but I thank the Lord for this gift and I thank Him for you!   Partially because of all of you, when I meet new people, I can proudly tell them I am a writer.  You have no idea how much that means to me and my identity.  Thanks everyone from the bottom of my heart!


Photos above:  Belle Isle State Park, Virginia, November 2011


Posted:  November 7, 2011

Positive Word of the Day:  Cooperation

cooperation, co-operation [kəʊˌɒpəˈreɪʃən]


1. joint operation or action

2. assistance or willingness to assist

3. (Economics) Economics the combination of consumers, workers, farmers, etc., in activities usually embracing production, distribution, or trade

4. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Environmental Science) Ecology beneficial but inessential interaction between two species in a community

cooperationist , co-operationist n

Power consists in one's capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation. ~Woodrow Wilson

Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself. ~Alexander Graham Bell

It is through cooperation, rather than conflict, that your greatest successes will be derived. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt


This may come as a surprise to some, (lol!) but sometimes, I tend to get under Al’s skin and when I do, he’ll say, “Damn it, Renee, will you just cooperate with me?”  He’ll say this when I’m not being receptive to his suggestions, but that’s when I know I’d better sit up, shut-up and pay attention.  He’s a good man.  He tries hard to come up with ideas on how to make our situation better, whether it be dealing with our relocation, our finances, our relationship, whatever the issue of the day might be. 

I admire him for speaking up and saying that to me, because I tend not listen when I’m worried, feeling sorry for myself or just having a bad day.  When I hear him talk like that, I know I’d better try to muster up a feeling of cooperation or at least fake it for a few hours.  I’ve discovered that when you fake a feeling, you’ll find after a bit you’ll start to feel that feeling you didn’t feel in the first place.  So, I put a big fake smile on and say, “Okay, what should we do?” 

This happened the other day.  I was feeling sorry for myself for being so far away from my home and family and friends.  Al suggested we pack a picnic lunch and go drive to a state park that he saw on a map.  I didn’t want to go.  I wanted to stay home and pout.  I wanted to stay home and stare at photographs of my kids and grandkids and sulk.  I thought to myself, if I can’t see them, I don’t want to do anything.  If I can’t go back to South Dakota, I don’t want to go anywhere, but for his sake, I pretended to be cooperative and we headed out the door.

Driving out there, Al kept catching me saying negative things like, “The trees are pretty, but there’s nowhere to pull over to take a picture,” and “This is sure a long ways out, do you think we missed our turn.”  He finally told me to stop being negative.  I tried, but still managed to let some negativity slip out, but I’d catch myself and we’d both start laughing.  By the time we got to the state park fifty miles away, my mood had lightened and I could sit back and truly appreciate the beauty of the scenery around us. 

We found a little patch of beach area and sat up our chairs and ate goodies from the picnic basket.  It was a cool, windy day, but the sun beat down on us keeping us toasty.  We watched a mother and son playing in the sand up away from us.  After they left, we sat quietly listening to the water lap up against the shore.  We talked.  We held hands.  I felt all the tension completely disappear.  I took out my camera and enjoyed photographing the area.  Then we went for a walk.  I looked around and realized this place reminded me of Farm Island in Pierre, SD.  I learned a few things that day, one of which is that  you can find beauty in God’s creation here on earth everywhere you go, not just back home.  If I hadn’t cooperated with Al and gone on this little day excursion, I would have lost out on a wonderful day.  Thanks, Al, for saving the day!

Star Quilt made by my mother, JoAnn Sell - 2009

Tree of Life Quilt made by my mother, JoAnn Sell - 2006 (?)

A surprise came in the mail today!  A Christmas table runner made by my Aunt Marilyn Gartner, a gift we will enjoy for years to come.  Thank you, Aunt Marilyn! 

Quilted centerpiece/hotpad made by my sister, Carrie Neuschwander

Pocket Prayer Quilt made by my friend, Cheryl Hill - 2011

Posted: November 2, 2011

Pieces of a Quilt

By Lessie Schoenfelder, written for her mother, Helen Dunker (my grandmother)

Each of us one part,
Family; the ultimate caring art.
Babies - young to old.
Sewn together by love,
The thread is you.

Each of us a piece,
Daughter, son, granddaughter, niece.
Separate and yet one.
Sewn together by love,
The thread is you.

Each of us, now moved on,
Memories of youth never gone.
Like pieces of a quilt.
Sewn together by love,
The thread is you, Mom.


Love is a Handmade Quilt 

This posting is dedicated to my mother, JoAnn Sell, my deceased grandmother, Helen Dunker, my aunt Marilyn Gartner, my cousin Doris Ann Eisenbraun, my sister, Carrie Neuschwander and my friend, Cheryl Hill, who all have the gift of being able to craft amazing items with their own hands.  My two left hands salute you! 

I woke up yesterday morning knowing without a doubt that I was loved.  First, I let the knowledge that God loves me flow through my body.  Then, when I got out of bed and began making it, I looked down at the quilt my mom had made and gave to me several years ago, and was overwhelmed by a powerful feeling of how much my mother must have loved me to make this quilt for me. 

My mother has been crafting things for years – quilts, doilies, paintings, cross-stitch artwork – those are some she does best.  I’ve been the lucky recipient of some of her handiwork.  I’ve always treasured them, but for some reason, yesterday, I was hit full-force with the knowledge of how much hard work she puts into these items, how much patience she must have, how much attention to detail she gives each project, what a steady hand she has and how she often strains her eyes to get a project completed.  I realized how much work she puts into these treasures out of love, not only for the craft, but love for those she passes her things on to. 

Her quilts are masterpieces.  Her best way to express to her family how much she loves them is to gift them one of her hand-made quilts.  She has given me more quilts than I should admit.  She’s given each of her children at least one or two.  She has given each one of her eight grandchildren a quilt, and now she’s working on the great grandchildren, eleven, to date.  This past August, she made baby star quilts for her two latest great grandchildren, Gunner Diedrich and Emry Jo Nemec. 

She began making star quilts several years ago and I put in a special request for one.  She asked me what I’d like on it.  I told her I wanted wild horses and she went to work.  I had already received the “Tree of Life” quilt that she had made, and another given to me years ago, worn out with use. She went to work and the result was stunning, the wild horses running through a snow-covered landscape, edged in colors of blues and white.  Even though the pictures on the quilt are of a winter scene, I remain warm and toasty under it, snuggling up with my husband, Al.  I proudly show her handiwork off whenever I get company.  I feel pretty special knowing she made this quilt especially for me. 

So yesterday morning, living eighteen hundred miles from her, I was struck with how much my mother loves me – these quilts are a symbol of that love.  Never again will I look at them the same way.  It’s not that I didn’t always appreciate their beauty, but now I truly appreciate the beauty of the person who made them.  That’s the difference. 

Not only did she make quilts for her family, but she also donated one a few years back for a fund-raising auction for Al’s son, Jimmy, who at the time was going through treatment for lymphoma.  It was one of the top fund raising items at the auction.  Quilts are often the top fundraisers at auctions, because people know and appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that go into them and know that the person who donated them spent hours creating them.  Those hours translate into cash for the person in need. 

Years ago, my grandmother, Helen Dunker, gave me a quilt that she made.  Unfortunately, it got used heavily and so worn and ragged that it had to be thrown away.  But it took lots of love to wear out that quilt.  It was used on my bed for years where my three daughters were most likely conceived and where later on, the girls would often crawl into bed with me and snuggle up while I read to them or sang, while they would roar with laughter.  After it started getting worn, it went into the closest and was used by my daughters and their friends for sleepovers.  It sometimes went along on family camping trips with us keeping us warm on those chilly summer nights.  The kids would often use it to make a tent in the living room, entertaining my girls for hours.  It was often used on the couch, giving us a cover while the girls and I would lay together watching a movie.  Lots of love went into making that quilt and, and I hope my grandma would understand, lots of love went into wearing it out.

My sister, Carrie Neuschwander, inherited our mother’s craftiness and creativity.  Out of love, she has gifted me many things made of her own hands.  She gave me two of her crocheted afghans and one of my most treasured items, a quilted centerpiece/hot pad that we use on the dining table, not to mention some dazzling jewelry she’s made.  Each of us has our own unique God given gifts.  Using my hands, for anything other than typing, isn’t one of mine, but that’s okay – I have all these lovable, talented people willing to share.

Out of love and friendship, Cheryl Hill gifted me a pocket prayer quilt with a cross imbedded inside that she made with her own two hands.  She included a copy of the poem, The Cross, and instructions to carry the quilt in my pocket or purse and throughout the day when I touch it and feel the cross inside, to be reminded of God’s love.  It is always in my purse and every time I see it, I think of God and the loving friend who gave it to me.

Yup, love is a handmade quilt.  We are blessed with a warm, cozy home, because of the handmade quilts and gifts given to us in love. Thanks everyone!  I love you, too!





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