Tag Archives: God’s gifts

Did I Ever Want to Know This?

My sister and brother-in-law were here to visit weeks back.  She and I have much in common.  We love gardening. We love little animals.  And we both suffer from  ailments that set us planted on our knees begging for Uncle sometimes.

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She explained that she had gotten her DNA tested recently and that her findings have helped her to understand her difficulties better and how she has been able to implement action to her betterment.

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I thought that was pretty cool.  So I did the same thing.  Did I have any idea of the door I was opening?  Nope.  Actually my findings were not a huge surprise.  After all, I have been living with all those “numbers” for 56 years, so I am somewhat familiar with their personalities.  I became familiar with my blond hair and brown eyes a few years back.

What was magical (or scary) was that all those numbers confirmed many things that I already knew.    And the many things I did NOT already know.

I think I thought that much of my “stuff” was environmental.  Or something.  Why cant I drink a cup of coffee without my nervous system freaking out?  Why am I not able to deal with medicine well?  Why do I go through bouts of mild (or not) depression?  Who dun turned me into an alcoholic?  Who was that bad guy/girl?  WHY AM I SICK ALL THE TIME?

I heard a scripture verse on the radio yesterday that has rung beautifully in my ears since:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.        2 Corinthians 12:9

I LOVE THAT.  He is here with me ALL the days that I am weak.  I rest surely in that.   I take great comfort.   I want His power splayed all over the top of me.  And His grace IS sufficient.  On the days when I ask for it.  Some days I forget to ask.

Knowing my DNA results did not fix any of these things.  But it gave me huge insight into those questions.  I don’t have to ask WHY?  Why me?  anymore.  The answers  to the question is this:  Because. “I SAID SO” (Ooops. My moms gene sneaking out of me.)  This is who you are.  In  large part, this is who you were born to be.

Huge blessings, I was born to be.  Wonderful, beautiful girl I was born to be.  Into a great, loving  family I was born to be.  Sickly?  Yes.  But there are millions of numbers attached to me.  What more could I ask?   So complicated.  So fragile.  How can I spend time complaining with all those numbers wanting to keep me upright everyday?    There are a few broken numbers I’ll admit.  And even some pretty scary things looming.  But for goodness sake, who is not suffering in this world?

Our  new little grandbaby had her baptism yesterday.  It was beyond precious.  The cycle of life overwhelms me.  SHE overwhelms me.  It was picture perfect with family and friends (we missed you Charlie, Sam and Lauren)  celebrating the entry of her little life into the church.  Immediately after being blessed with the water and oil, she literally flopped into a slumber from the exhaustive wait.  It was like the event caused her to pass out.  She is now safely and snuggly in the embrace of Christ.  Whew.

The weather was beeeautiful.  The party was perfect.

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I pray that she got the best of my genes.

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When we were slipping into bed last night, Pops said that days do not get better than that.  I agreed.  Days do not get better than that.  Life is not without suffering. I keep trying to convince myself of that.  We are born with it in our bones.  But the perfection that we get glimpses of between the shards make it ALL worth it.

Even if I don’t have a memory of it in twenty years.

It is all about this moment.

Peace,

Karen

 

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Hen For a Best Friend?

A dear Canadian farmer friend who keeps me updated with the current events of the chicken  world  touched base today.  He and I were wannabe -chicken -farmer -dreamers years back and we both have made our dreams of chicken poop and blood orange egg yolks a reality.  His dream expanded far wider than mine and he is going to town on his farm in Canada. His dream is his livelihood.  Mine is my hobby.

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Farmer Doug

He sent me the following story of a young sailor guy who is sailing the world with a hen.   The sailor  desired an animal companion rather than a human. Gee, I wonder why.   He settled on a hen.  It is my guess you cannot imagine why in the world he would choose a chicken for a sailing mate.

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Please  open link to take a gander at his priceless photos.  Precious.

It is  my opinion that chickens get a bad rap.  They are stupid animals they say.  Well…I beg to differererer……Its all relative.    What would you expect given  their heads are the size of a cherry tomato?  Of course, we cannot compare their intellect with ours.  Is that what those people are doing?  Can we please look at the rest of their character attributes?  Intellect ain’t all there is, sista.

My chickens are gentle.  They chat with me when I enter their house. And they ALL  have a little to add to the conversation.  Personalities vary just like ours.  They know when I am coming to treat them and when I’m not coming to treat. They wait patiently for me to feed all the other animals.

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They walk quietly in single file line to their treating ground.  I could learn a thing or two from our “stupid” chickens.

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Chickens live in the moment.  They are honest about their moment.

They hoot and howl their eggs out.  These guys work HARD for your Saturday morning omelet.

They quibble and squabble away their differences.  No harm. No foul. No lasting resentments.  Unless of course there  is a weakling  lurking about.  I never said they were perfect.  Maybe that’s why the sailing guy chose only one hen to sail instead of a buddy system.

As with any being, if you love them, they can in turn love back.   If you give them room to grow, they will flourish.   If you keep the  creature locked in a cage  physically, mentally or emotionally where they can’t stand on their little legs, they can not blossom. They will lack the love and luster.

Every night after dinner, we abandoned the dirty dishes and run to  the swing to watch the chicken show.  There must be  some redeeming qualities in these little guys if we invest our evening entertainment hours in avian performances. Maybe I have the intellect problem.  Not the chickens.  I’ll have to think about that.  Or not.

They require no showers before bed time. No teeth brushing.   They march right on to their school bus (roost) at dusk  without being asked and lights out.   I do need to train them to shut lights.

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Could I go boating with one of my hens?  Oh yes.  If I liked boats.  Can I take her on a jaunt around the world in my pickup?  I’d love to.

 

Long live the hen.

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Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

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Naked. Nothing. Simple.

Many years ago in a land not too far away there sat two couples in a diner at two a.m. munching on something I am positive was not healthy.

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Not sure it was this diner but I am going to guess.  Same town.  Same era. 

The conversation turned serious for a minute when one young woman wanted to know what we were doing there.  “No, I mean, What  are we REEEALLY doing  here?  What is our purpose? ”  The other young woman, being me, dug deep for a profound answer that would knock the rest off their seats.  We were going to answer that question that has been in circulation for oh… since the beginning of time. One of the guys who sees things just as they are said, “I know exactly why we’re here.  Because we’re hungry.”.  We all laughed and the subject was changed.  Nothing was solved but I would put money on that each of us today could  say where and when that 1 minute conversation took place.  About 25 years ago.  Why do I remember that?

I have pondered that question over  the years.  Is it really as simple as that?  Or is it more complicated than that?

Ahh,  the olden days.

Fast forward to this summer.  I have been studying some spiritual things in nature.  The question has come up again.  Especially now that we have our very own first grand baby, Joan Marie.

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In my “spiritual things in nature” investigation, I have concluded that this little precious baby in her 2nd day of life is doing it better than I.

We define ourselves by what we do.   I am an artist.   I am a wife.  A mom.  An educated woman.  A gardener. Sorta.  An animal lover.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  I could go on but I would faint from boredom.   I have created this image of myself that I spend my days trying to live up to.  Exhausting.   I make lists upon lists to make sure the image is upheld.  When I go to bed at night I subconsciously check my list to see if I accomplished the tasks needed for the world to believe the self-image that I created for myself.

Isn’t honesty brutal?

Dang.

My  recent discovery is that when I was  born, like our precious Joan, I was already everything in God’s eyes.   It is a place of utter simplicity.  Not adorned or decorated with my created self images.  Naked and nothing.  Perfectly made and fully created.  “It is a place before having done anything wrong or done anything right”, says Richard Rohr.  A wonderful author of spiritual things (in nature.)

Pure.

State of “be”ing.  Not a state of “do”ing.

As I move along in life, I don’t want  to compare myself with others and their gifts or calls anymore. Richard Rohr also says, “All I can give back to God is what God has given to me – nothing more  and no less.”  Hmmm.  That is so good.

I have a great example that should neatly tie this baby up. My mother-in-law, Jo, who our new baby was named after, use to tell me every summer to make sure to let my kids just BE.  Don’t schedule  their hours up.  And when I think about it now….What she meant is …    Let them be who they are.  Who they were created to be.  Let them use only their little minds to figure out who they are.  Let them run through summer being nothing.  Naked.  Simple.  God will show each one of them who they are.   And that is all they can give back to Him.  Such a miracle.

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Oooh. She was right.  That Jo, she had more wisdom that I can say.   Especially when it came to children.

What I want to say and may be having a time trying is this……I am beautifully, lovingly made. I  have a purpose.   A simple and wonderful purpose.  I was born with it.  It is a gift to each of us.  I can take the self-made burden off my shoulders.  What is to be is already within me.  Just let it be and let it flow.   Let it ride.  No need to contrive.   I am not my own invention.  Naked.

I want to shout out to my son, Eric, and his beautiful wife and mother to my grandbaby, Emily…. Thank you SOOO much for naming your daughter after that great woman, my mother in law.  You have awakened her memory in me and I will think of her every time I look at your daughter.  I am so  grateful for that. A gift you have no idea.

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We miss you Grandma! 

Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Organic Hoosier Apple? And Thomas Merton?

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

Oxymoron?  I have been told there is no such thing as an organic Indiana apple.  We began out orchard from scratch 6 years ago.  This year was the first time blossoms presented themselves.  We decided to let the trees do their thing.  No sprays.  No powders.  No nothin’.  Just a dose of wishing and a little prayer.   Well.  Well.  Well.  Here we have an apple.  A most gorgeous one.

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Not a bad size either, if I do say so.    I will admit that this is by far the most beauteeful one of the bunch.  But the bunch tastes pretty wonderful.   We plan to cull them next year to hope for larger apples.

We have picked 4 five gallon buckets full.  Not bad for the first season.  And you are wondering….are they diseased?  Is there such thing as an organic Hoosier apple?  They are not diseased.  Nothing too terrible got to them.  They have this black splotchy stuff on them.   I have read that the black splotchy stuff is harmless and it washes them apples up nice and pretty.  Just like the store makes them.   I bet there are children (and adults) that think apples grow in the back room of the grocers.

Organic apples in Hoosierland do indeed exist.

End of apple story.  Have you heard of Thomas Merton?

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He was a Trappist Monk priest who lived as a hermit for many years at The Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky.  Wikipedia describes him as a poet, a social activist, and a student of comparative religion.   He was all those things but much more.   He is known for studying and embracing many other religions in an effort to bridge social/religious gaps between other religions and his, Catholicism.  An ambassador of sorts.

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He has written many really good books.  Look his work up if you haven’t already.

Thomas can be considered a “cool dude”.  He is by far not the stereotype priest or monk.  And has had much controversy surrounding his life because of his unconventionalism.  Life before monkhood took him places that made him very uncomfortable.  Same places I (and probably you too) have been.   He did not feel a part much of the time and felt out-of-place in this world.  Check.  Check.  Been there.  Alone in his thoughts often.  Check.  When he encountered life that included God, he began to feel more himself.  Though rebellion in a sense remained with him.

His writings have taught me about contemplative prayer and embracing solitude.  Contemplative prayer is a state, not too unlike meditation, that  you enter into with God and just be.  In His Presence.  I am with you, God.  Wholly.  I am sitting with You.   Opening a door to let your relationship grow on God’s terms and not yours.  By staying silent, we are inviting God to do the talking and not us.   It is a powerful form of prayer.  It is,  by and large,  the type of prayer that has so greatly enriched my relationship with Him. How can I hear Him if I am doing all the talking.  I really want to know what He has for me.  What He has to say to me.  And if I face the truth, what I have to say in any matter doesn’t work or matter or interest me.  Really.

He spent years in communication with other religious leaders and finally was able to participate in an interfaith conference between Catholic and non-Christian leaders in Bangkok in 1968.  He spoke at the conference, went back to his hotel to rest up and was electrocuted stepping out of  the shower and died at the age of 53.  Controversial even in death.    There are numerous books written by him that are wonderful, inspiring, and educational as well as an autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, which is also a great read.

Apples and Thomas Merton are both food for the soul.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

• Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

God bless,

Karen

 

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Cod Liver Oil All That Its Cracked Up To Be?

First, before I tell the cod liver tale, I want to share my new breakfast concoction that is total yummo.  Total healthy.  Plus a secret ingredient that makes it all worthwhile.

Karen’s Yogurt Supreme

Ready?

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Fresh Blueberries

A couple of tablespoons of flax

A couple of tablespoons of Chia seed

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Full Fat (always.  If the fat is from a good source, it is terrific for us.) Organic PLAIN yogurt.

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A couple of tablespoons of pumpkin seeds. Preferably soaked and dried.

A couple of tablespoons of sunflower seeds.  Preferably soaked and dried.

About 8 drops of Stevia sweetener.

And now for the secret ingredient…..

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The darkest chocolate you can find.  Less sugar.  Less processed.

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A teaspoon (or more) of grated dark chocolate.  Ooooh myyyy goodnessss.  This breakfast is good.  And thoroughly healthy.  Every last drop.

Cod Liver Oil

I was reading an article about a gal who had extreme inflammation in her mouth.  Her dentist had her on antibiotics over the course of a year and did not help her.  Someone told her to take 1 1/2 t. cod liver in the morning and at night.   Also, she was told to do “oil pulling” which is where you put gobs of oil in your mouth and “chew” it for like 15 minutes and spit it out.  I have done this before and it is not pleasant, and made me gag.  I do believe it has medicinal qualities but the buck has to stop somewhere and that is where it stops for me.

5 months ago I went into my dentist for a cleaning and told them that it sorta hurt to bite down on popcorn.  Nothing else, just popcorn.  Next thing I knew I was in the chair getting a filling and a crown right next to each other.  I don’t know what they did in that process but I left the dentist not being able to chew on my right side at all.  So, I was no longer sad about not being able to chew popcorn.  I was sad about not being able to chew anything.   I kept going back to Mr. Dentist and they ended up crowning my new filling.  I now have two little crowns side by side.  Kingy and Queeny.  Fast forward 5 months… I still cannot chew on the right side.

When I read this gal’s story, I thought, I can at least try stepping up my cod liver intake from 1/4 teaspoon a day to 1 1/2 t.  and see what happens.  What happened?  I can chew on my right side.

Moral of this story?  Cod liver oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory.  It healed my king and queen.

It is filled with Omega 3.

You’ve heard of Omega 6 and Omega 3.  They are both wonderful for us….HOWEVER…… and I say that really loud……  We get Omega 6 from lots of foods.  All the oils especially, which whether we know it or not,  we eat so much of.   Nuts, seeds, butter…..all good stuff right?   Not good if you are not balancing it with Omega 3’s.  It is necessary to keep those balanced in our bodies or we open up huge opportunities for chronic inflammation and what not.

Omega 3 foods?   Flax.  Beef.   Fish.  Walnuts.  Tofu.  Things we do not eat a ton of.  Unless you’re like me, who is racing against the clock to see if I can eat 900 lbs. of beef before it goes bad in our fridge.

Cod liver oil is a great way to supplement so you can stay balanced.   I am reaching a point in my vitamin supplement journey that if I had to give up all but one of my supplements, I would keep the cod liver oil.

Let me just say that in my research on cod liver oil…I have found most oil has been processed with heat and has synthetic vitamins added back in.  NOT GOOD. Might as well not take it.    It keeps  coming back to the same brand.  It is the best on the market.  It is the bomb.

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It is the real deal.

I may have said before, that I am bankin’ on donuts galore in heaven.  Succulent cookies falling from the sky.  Ice cream fed to me from my chaise lounge down by the river.   I get my “version” of those things every so often but not as often as I would like.  Until then, I fill in the holes with cod liver oil.  I ain’t complainin’.

God bless,

Karen

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Jesus Christ is Risen Today….

…..at our farm.

Some of you may know that Pops and I have felt that along with this here farm came a responsibility to glorify God.  We felt it when we bought the property and have taken it very seriously.  We want to share this property with others, that they may also come and be in nature and use the land for renewal, refreshment and relaxation.  Our idea is to provide others with a place to retreat whether it be a formal, facilitated retreat, a meeting place for the good of others, or simply a place for families and friends to gather to renew their spirit with each other.

Phase I  was to get us here and up and running.  We have done that.  Phase II  is under way and thankfully is a whole lot less back-breaking….. but emotionally?  The most exciting.  When we bought the property we chose (or I think rather, He chose) a spot for our outdoor chapel.  A place where one can go and pray.  Lay down their sorrows.  Lift up their thanks.  And praise His Holy Name.  The chapel will consist of a crucifix and a stone wall that you can belly up to and pray.

We began last year by making a clay model of the corpus and cut wood from our beloved front yard trees that died.

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I took the model up to Indianapolis this Spring to have it cast in bronze at a foundry who work with artists.  Was a totally cool place.   Almost made me want to change mediums.

This week we put it all together and to the chapel area it went.   The thought of having a place to worship on our property tickles me to no end.  Maybe I can take my cot up there and have a sleep over.

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Helper

Helper

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We packed our tools into our gator when through and turned around to see this stunning sight.

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The light at the base of the tree BLEW our mind.  Thank you, God, for accepting our invitation.  Pops and I were dumbstruck.

Phase III is a cabin for da people.  God will provide when He thinks we are ready to handle it.  My heart has been feeling a tickly sensation in the past few weeks.  I wonder if it means we are ready.  Or maybe He was readying me for today’s miracle.

God bless,

Karen

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Wedding Bell Blues?

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I can only blog from my perspective and this girl has been in a state of trauma this past week.  They say there is always a “let down”  for all involved in the planning of a wedding.  I can say my let down began when we exited the church last Saturday to a down pour of 3 inches of rain in an hour.  I know you’ve all been there.  You’ve planned an event and had a vision of how it would play out.  I had visions of Lori’s cookies and fancy cupcakes dancing in my head.  Moonlight dancing under the beautiful lighted canopy constructed from saplings  by our son’s now father-in-law.  Etceteraaaa.  Etceteraaaa.  You name it.  We had it figured out.

SOO many beautiful flowers put together very thoughtfully by sisters.

SOO many beautiful flowers put together very thoughtfully by sisters.

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The ceremony was spectacular. I felt a peace and calm from the whole congregation.  I could have sat there the entire day.  THEN…….

We arrived at our house where the reception was to be held.

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Flashflooding

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It wasn’t a bad deal if you didn’t mind swimming with moles, voles, snakes and near extinct turtles.

Oh, and adding the wet/dry vac activity to the agenda  so  all the people could suck  the water and mud out of their cars.

Every vision and plan was thrown by the wayside in a matter of 30 minutes.   In my head, I just wanted to go to bed and hide from what my eyes were looking at.

The great thing was that I didn’t meet a person all  day that did not have a great sense of humor and many thought it only added to the festive atmosphere.  “Really?”  I kept saying.  One gal came up and said, “I LOVE rain at weddings.  It means that God is washing over the couple with many blessings!”  That quote was my life-preserver that day.  No pun intended.

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The bride and groom, along with all of their friends, had a ball.  I think they were a little dumbstruck, as we were,  but I think age was on their side considering it has taken me a week to stop staring out the window paralyzed.

I had to bat myself on the head midweek finally.   I was so fixated on all the wasn’t and should have been.   What about the mountain of blessings that took place?  What about the killer ceremony that took place that united my son to Emily forever.  They are now one.  What about the fact that Eric and Emily’s faith in God is growing?  What about the weekend of huge fun (and challenge) with our new in-laws that are just awesome?  They came three days early and worked their tails off with us and stayed three days after and worked their tails off.   What about all the people who were here that obviously care so much for us?  What about all the people, many of whom I do not know, that pitched in and helped out when they saw we so desperately needed their help that day?  That blew my mind.

I was working in my studio yesterday when I felt God speak to me.  I love when that happens.  Sometimes it is clear and wonderful.  (wonderful doesn’t mean warm and cozy.  Many times it is “oh no” wonderful.  It’s wonderful cuz I actually hear  when He is speaking)  He said, “What makes you think that what you had planned was what was supposed to happen? What makes you think it was the right thing?”  Ouch.  But, you know what?  It was a relief to hear that.  Took the pressure off.     So I said back, ” Yeah.  What made me think?  Forgit that, man.”


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God bless,

Karen

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