Saturday, December 4, 2010

Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year
Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share
Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there
Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year...

So it's Christmastime and I really wish I could say I'm in the Christmas mood, but I don't think I can say that until my Christmas spirit reaches full peak - and for some reason this year, it's not there yet. So, to motivate my Christmas cheer, here is a list of things I LOVE about this time of year.

  • Thinking about the Incarnation. Mind baffling, humbling and intense love. Thank you, Jesus.
  • December. It's just a good month. It's cold, but it's a soft cold. Not the pre-winter sloppy cold of September October and November, or the harsh, biting cold of January and February, or the wet, messy cold of March and April. It just seems - quiet.
  • Right now, the house across the street from my apartment looks like it could be on the cover of a Martha Stewart mag. It has beautiful twinkle lights on its front porch and upstairs balcony, and its age softens it into the landscape of the street. I'm not big on Martha, but this house is downright charming, and it's great to see that every night. Speaking of my street, the houses on it are just great period. They're old, but renovated and alive with character. There are also lots of trees on my street that are blanketed in snow and deepen the charm and attraction of my little street.
  • Peppermint hot chocolate, Egg Nog, Chai and Chai Nogs. Duh.
  • All the great Christmas movies (Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, It's A Wonderful Life, The Grinch, White Christmas, the list goes on.)
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Best Christmas book, hands down.
  • Last but not least - CHRISTMAS MUSIC! The Messiah, All the classic hymns, all the old school stuff we used to listen to with my dad (yes, Amy Grant is included in that list), and all the cheesy Christmas songs it's fun to blast at the top of your lungs (thank you, Mariah Carey.) Speaking of Christmas music, this song is one of my latest favorites that is helping to get me in the snowy, Christmasy mood.

There. Now that I've got all that out, I think I'm feeling more Christmasy already. There are so many other things that could go on that list, but those are the highlights. Merry Christmas season! Only 21 days left...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In the Company of the Archangels...

I saw a picture of the ocean today. And I wanted to go. I wanted the sand on my feet and the wet salty embrace of the wind on my face. What is so intriguing about the ocean? In the spirit of my longing for the ocean, this is one of my favorite descriptions of the sea, enjoy.

"...on the other side extended a long, curving beach of red cliffs, rising steeply from the pebbled coves. It was a shore that knew the magic and mystery of storm and star. There is a great solitude about such a shore. The woods are never solitary - they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity. We can never pierce its infinite mystery - we may only wander, awe and spell-bound, on the outer fringe of it. The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only - a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels."
From Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunsets & Sushi

Today I was walking through Drake Park. In Bend. Because that's where I live now. Drake Park is right down the street from my apartment. The trees are all turning color and the air was cool, but the sun was warm. It was nice.

And I was reflecting on this --

So this last month or so, I've really been hit by the fact that I'm a sinner. I mean, duh. But seriously - it's been humbling to recognize the grace of God in my life and realize that no matter what I do, or how I mess up, or how disgusted I am with myself, He forgives me and I can live in the freedom of His love. I just don't know what I would do if I didn't have a relationship with Jesus. Even though I neglect Him a lot, I realize that I am constantly comforted by the knowledge of His presence in my life. I love the good things He's provided for me... and the beauty that still surrounds me despite of all the selfish, ugly sin that's there, too. I just feel like His protection and guidance in my life, and the lives of those I love, needs to be recognized. I love Jesus!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, a blog entry from Karen?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Um, she’s alive?” Yeah, I am. How’s it going. I have a life. Life. Funny thought. It’s been pretty crazy hectic lately. But, I wanted all you readers (all, like, four of you) to know that I’m moving out of Weed. I thought it was noteworthy. I’m moving to Bend, Oregon to be the Rehab Office Coordinator at St. Charles Medical Center. I’ll also be close to Carla. And Tim and Lydia and Olivia and Caleb. Which definitely makes me happy. However, I will miss writing for the paper. But, with that said, I think it might give me a chance to pour some juices back into my creative writing. I get all ambitious, but seriously. Maybe I’ll submit some stuff to a magazine or write a book or something. You guys would read it, right? So there are four fans already. Done and done.

Okay so about my job. Audrey pretty much got it for me. She recommended me for her old position and then I interviewed and got a call the very next day. I was terrified for the interview, because that’s how I operate. I get SUPER NERVOUS for things, things that should not make people THAT nervous. But I do, I get that nervous. (Poor Carla had to shove me in the hot tub the night before in an effort to make me relax.) Then when I get into the interview, or whatever it is I’m nervous for, I’m usually pretty calm and I just swallow my fear and use my fake confidence to sail through. Anyway, so I felt super relieved after the interview was over, and I was confident I did pretty well. Then when I got the call saying I landed the job, I thought “yay!” for about two seconds before the nerves set in again. And I realized there are many, many changes lying ahead of me. And many "thoughts to think" in the next few weeks as Audrey says. Yikes! But I’m actually thinking I’ll just take it one day at a time. One hour at a time if I have to. I’m looking for a place to live in Bend. It would be pretty sweet to be able to live with Carla, but I don’t know if that’s going to actually play out. If it doesn’t, oh well, it will be nice just to be in the same town at least. And get to know her “booooooyfriend” (as JB affectionately calls him in a mocking tone) better, too.

Next, I’m really going to miss my family and JB. That pretty much nails all I want to say on that topic. It’s just really, really, really true.

I’ve been struggling a bit tonight with the real, raw, desires of my heart. I really wish I knew myself better. I want to be a wife and mom someday, but until that desire actualizes I want to be diligent and responsible and serve God. I think this job is a good way to start, so I’m praying that the Lord will bless it and guide me eventually to something I know I want to do beyond a shadow of a shadowy doubt. I want to get to a spot where I feel like, “yeah, this is it. This is where God wants me and where I want to be and it feels great.” I hope that’s not selfish, because I don’t mean it in that sense. I just want to get to a place where I’m calm and confident and can serve God without questioning if everything is “the right thing.” I want to follow His lead, and trust Him through uncertainty, knowing I can be certain about Him. That last sentence is already pretty true about me, but I want it even more!

So, change is coming – but change is good. I’m moving to Bend and starting a new life. It’s freaky scary. I’ll keep you posted. (And don’t “look at the sky” as my Italian cousin says, I really will.)

Monday, March 8, 2010


Walking down a trail with my dad, mom and Carla last weekend gave me the opportunity to appreciate the sparkling Deschutes river to our right, the rocky jagged hillside to our left, trees cutting into the blue sky accented by wafting clouds and the sound of rolling, bubbling water. The sun was out but it was chilly. After the exercise warmed us up a bit we shedded our outer layers and carried them around our waists. With our sunglasses on and a healthy flush of color on our cheeks we were enjoying the beautiful day in Bend. We heard children's voices drifting down the trail toward us from the hillside. "Oh, listen to the kids playing. How cute," mom remarked.

As we came nearer to the sound of chatter it began to separate into audible words. One word, actually. A little boy's voice shrieked, "Help! Help!" We sped up and rounded a corner to see a young blonde freckled boy, about seven years old, gripping the edge of a large rock halfway up the hillside, his feet dangling free in a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to find footing. "Hang on!" dad yelled and scrambled up the hillside to rescue this frightened child. Just then, his friend came out from behind a rock and asked with a shocked expression, "Hayden! What happened?!" "Oh, your friend is just a little stuck," dad replied, trying to keep these boys calm. Hayden, from his precarious position, aligned his head with his shoulder in an attempt to see his friend and in a panic he assessed the situation from his perspective. "No! I'm HANGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE!!" Dad quickly reached up, put his hands around him and tightened his grip. Hayden released his grip on the rock's edge and let out all the breath the fear had kept inside. Rushing out of his mouth with the released fear were his thanks. "Thank you, thank you" - gulp, sigh - "Thank you!" Dad set the trembling thankful boy down on a patch of grass and his wide-eyed friend came over. "I told him to follow me, but he said he knew a quicker way." Hayden didn't notice his friend's bragging and I-told-you-so tone of voice, he was just glad to be alive. He caught his breath and thanked dad again. Further down the trail, dad was thanked for his heroism by the boy's mother who was picnicking by the river. "Boy that was an adventure!" Hayden's friend exclaimed. The final word from Hayden was, "I'm through with climbing rocks for a while."

The day was still shining in its brilliance, but this short episode added a significant highlight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Five-year-old on Ice Skates – A Story of Determination

“Will you please come ice skating with me, KK?” JB said as he cocked his gap-model head accented with puppy dog eyes at me. Um, how could I say no to that? My plans of coffee shop lounging/espresso sipping/Internet surfing/job searching flew away like that piece of trash you didn’t mean to let slip out of the car window on the freeway. Woops. So I laced up my five dollar rental skates, prepared to hold this adorable five-year-old’s hand as we glided across the ice together, eventually being able to experience the joy of letting go of the gripping hand to see him find his own feet on the ice – the idea being for him to skate without my help and being able to enjoy the fruit of my labors. Reality check - not going to happen, KK. With strength of mind, JB let me tie his skates on, then headed across the rubber mats to take his first step onto the ice. The poor disillusioned child thought it would be a cinch. On his way to the rink, someone greeted him with a “Hi, JB! How are you?” He didn’t flinch but responded determinedly, “I can’t talk right now, I’m just concentrating.” I followed close behind as the metal blade of his skate met the ice and his idea of how easy this would be began to slip out of his mind, unable to stay in place despite his mental attempts at keeping it there. He flailed like a fish out of water, making desperate attempts to keep himself vertical by holding onto the wall of the rink with one hand, and my hand on the other side. My continuous exhortations to take it slow, to put one foot in front of the other, never made it past his cute little head of silky brown hair. Instead of gently easing his skates forward one at a time, he insisted on jerking them backwards in a fast, repetitive motion, attempting to sprint across the ice. “The faster I go, the steadier I get!” he shouted behind him once, right before his chest and hands caught the weight of his body on the wet ice. He tried holding onto an upside down wastebasket, but because he is tall for his age, skating along at a 90-degree angle didn’t seem to improve his skills much. We tried several methods, but mainly resorted to our wall and hand gripping device. Near the end, I ended up just wrapping my arms around his chest, under his arms, instructing him to keep his feet STILL so he could slide across the ice and just enjoy it. Fortunately, there were several who took pity on my quickly failing plight (and were also, most likely, partly drawn in by JB’s effortless charm that was prominent even in his unsuccessful skating attempts,) and offered to take him for a lap around the rink, or to grab his other hand as a team effort. This, probably unbeknownst to the individual offering, was a half an hour volunteer job. It also consisted of about six or seven lifts of the full weight of this boy decked out in heavy snow clothes with skates on. After about an hour of these trips around the rink, holding onto this slipping and sliding kid, lifting him up and making coaching attempts that were slowly decreasing in frequency, spectators and volunteers began to inquire after my back, to make sure I wasn’t in pain. My back was fine - JB’s tenacity and determination to master this sport seemed to increase my patience. I admired his desire to keep trying. A few times I gently asked him if he wanted to step off the ice for a while, “no! I’m just ready for another trip around, KK,” he would respond. Once he looked up at me endearingly and softly said, “lots of these kids are better than me, huh?” Then, after a long pause, “but practice makes perfect!” He skated away just to fall down again. After the two hours on the rink, JB and I were both ready to step off. I assured him that next time he tried, it wouldn’t seem so foreign and hard. He’s excited to take another stab at it. I love that boy.

I think this experience is analogous to how God looks at me. I feel like in living my life in the attempt of being set apart for God, and in my attempts to increase the closeness of spiritual proximity to Him, I am about as successful as JB on the ice sometimes. But like JB, I don’t want to give up – and God is still holding my hand, constantly picking me up and setting me on my feet again, only His back never gets tired. Sometimes he even has to grab me from behind and gently push me along. But while my patience with JB would eventually run out, His patience with me is infinite. I want my tenacity to remain. I always want to have that desire to step back out onto the slippery ice and try again.

*I realize that in this analogy I compared myself to God. I’m not entirely sure of the ethics of that, but I think it’s OK in this case.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Christian's Comfort

I found this on a little note card in my Aunt Carmen’s bible today during a visit. Uncle Aldo was talking about John 5:24, how it’s his favorite verse in the whole Bible. When I asked him what it said, he leaned over, looked at me intently and quoted, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” Then he sighed and said, “That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?” They are devoted Catholics and have been their whole lives, but in recent years it’s as if they just discovered the Bible. It’s so great. Uncle Aldo said he never thought about it much before, but now they study it regularly. Aunt Carmen wanted to show me her Bible, so while I was flipping through it, this piece of paper fell out and I thought it was beautiful.

The Christian’s Comfort
(Extract from a letter by Dr. James DeKoven, written just before his death, to a friend in affliction, March, 1879)
The Christian’s comfort in sorrow is to be found, not in the memory, but in the presence of the one we love. The Christian is in Christ; the departed loved one is in Christ, too, only nearer to Him than we on earth. One is on this side of the veil, the other on that. By coming nearer to Christ the living and the dead come nearer to each other in Him, not in any physical manner by sight or sound or touch – that would be only to restore what is most imperfect and what death was meant to end – but in the deep, hidden bonds that bind the souls of them that love Him together in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, prayers and good works and Holy Communion and the personal love of Jesus, become the comfort of one that sorrows, not because they make one forget or benumb one’s feelings, but because through them the soul is being drawn nearer to Christ.

Thus there becomes a deep meaning in the benediction, “Blessed are they that mourn."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cursed by the Cursor, Sometimes

When I type, my fingers usually move faster than my brain, pushing the cursor forward at a speed I can’t keep up with mentally. This equals too much time staring at the blinking cursor, which is a sight I loathe. That little propeller of my thoughts, expressions and well thought-out research findings (wink) should be moving, moving, moving, not running in place. When I write in my composition notebook that is covered with colorful cutouts from my favorite magazines, my brain moves much faster than my pen. Somehow, once that thin blue ink begins stroking the paper, I suddenly realize my hand will ache if I try to get it all written by hand. The thoughts and ideas jumble up in my brain, I feel unorganized and sometimes I even, give up. If, however, tenacity prevails, I usually use this method: jot down notes, then resort to my little white friendly Macintosh to chug out the finished product, even if it inevitably means staring at the palpitating cursor. That’s what happened here. I’ve needed to write for a while – I know that. There has been a dry spell; I’ve been uninspired (thanks to Debbie G. for mentioning it and sort of kicking me into action). So today I sat down with my chubby composition notebook and wrote some notes, then I unfolded my laptop and it turned into a blog. It feels good.

I’ve been out of college since June. After that I worked on my senior project - more like fought with it and lost, because I made little progress. Then I traveled across the Atlantic to live in Bosnia for a month. When I returned home, I buckled down and chugged out my senior project like serious business. That was done and it felt, and still feels, good. By the way, I rocked that project. 38 pages of well presented, thoroughly researched information. Not to brag or anything. Then there was Thanksgiving and Christmas where I squeezed the last drop of enjoyment out of the luxury of no work and no homework. In January I turned serious about this job-hunting business. Aaaaand, nothing yet. I found out that’s okay, though. I mean, for now. Upon reflection of my time at home after college, I’ve been enlightened in a few areas. Let’s start with – life at home is a full time job. Even without a job, and no school, I am constantly busy. It’s a mystery. I could list all the things I do every day, but when I actually materialize them into words, somehow they lose their significance and legitimacy. Trust me though, they’re important, and they keep me from losing my mind from boredom. Next enlightenment? I love being an adult, but I don’t like being a grown up all the time. (Yes, I realize grown-ups don’t exist – see my past blog post – but I don’t know of a better term for the meaning I’m trying to convey.) Sometimes when I hang out with my sisters or cousins I feel like a kid – and I love it. Wrestling, fighting over silly things and blaring music in the kitchen while we do the dishes isn’t exactly grown-up behavior… is it? It’s great though, because I don’t care. I know I’m an adult, and I can fall back on that fact whenever I need. It’s like the best of both worlds. I think I can accurately call myself a content person. Aside from the occasional rash outburst of emotion and “get me out of here!” mentalities, I’m content here at home until something better comes along. I’ve had time to read, which is great and has clarified the fact that I’m not as well read as I want to be. Lately I picked up a book of short stories and have read authors like Edgar Allan Poe, James Joyce, William Faulkner and Jean-Paul Sartre. They’re so good and interesting! I’m excited to read more of these authors now that my appetite has been wet for them. I’ve also had time to spend with JB, which only solidifies my desire to someday be a mom. I love kids, and when they love you back it’s just irreplaceable. There are plenty of things to make me content while living at home again. It might be cliché to say (it’s even cliché to say it’s cliché – Pam from The Office taught me that), but I want to enjoy the now. Someday my here will become my there, then I might want my here back again. Tonight, propped up on my cozy bed with plans to go make a cup of tea, listening to Greg Laswell and blogging for the first time in a while, I’m content.

Also – when I moved back into the house with four other people, it quickly became obvious that people have too much STUFF. I think that’s enough said on that topic, and if not I’m saving it for the next post.