Posted 2/9/17 at 11:38 AM | Karen Kramer
In a rural Romanian village, baby Anastasia was born. An ocean away in a small Washington town, beautiful Dana cradled newborn Aria.
Amazing joy comes to families as they welcome a child. Aria and Anastasia looked adorable wearing darling bows and the cutest outfits.
Dressing up baby girls is something special no matter what part of the world you live in.
Yet, within months both girls were diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), an incurable, terminal disease.
While it would be easy to spiral into despair, Aria’s family bonded even closer, friends surrounded them, and they purposed to make treasured memories.
When Dana reached out to other SMA families she met Dani, Anastasia’s mother. As the disease affecting their precious daughters became more real, they encouraged one another through terribly frightening days. FULL POST
Posted 2/2/17 at 1:32 PM | Karen Kramer
Her long black hair and strikingly luminous dark eyes were a contrast to her delicate Indian accent.
Standing before a hundred teens at the leadership camp, she introduced herself,
“Hello, my name is America.”
None of us would ever forget her name, or how her sweet accent slightly altered its pronunciation. She was a first-generation American citizen, and her parents had named her for the freedom and opportunity America offered.
I was in that crowd of teens—where we’d come to learn how to help our schools be places of learning, compassion, and purpose.
We were divided up, and America wasn’t in my group, but I observed her animated energy as she bounded between activities. I had one occasion to stand next to her—as we waited in the dinner line.
We talked about camp, our schools, and the anxious sense that being a high school junior brought. For America, I could tell it meant high expectations. Her parents owned a dry-cleaning store. FULL POST
Posted 1/26/17 at 10:53 PM | Karen Kramer
No one knows who created National Spouses Day on January 26th, but I love the chance to honor mine.
It was easy to fall in love with the bearded, songwriting, guitar playing guy.
He’d leave sweet love notes for me in my college books (this was waaaay before texting) and play songs for me while I did homework.
He was therapy for my Type A uptightness. But sound engineering was his true forte. He knew how to blend 24 tracks of recorded music into incredible musical productions.
Yet, when the music scene meant living apart, he gave it all up and moved to a farm where we could work together.
Then he poured his life into the farm every hour it required and worked extra jobs to pay the bills.
When we were spending too much time apart, he wanted to find another way.
Who knew that a songwriter-farmer could be such a terrific apple salesman? (Check out that first generation cell phone in his hand). FULL POST
Posted 1/17/17 at 8:44 PM | Karen Kramer
The muddy footprints you left behind after breaking into my daughter’s home have been cleaned, the broken windows fixed, and the insurance company will replace many of the items you stole.
But the jewelry box you grabbed held a special gold ring—a lovely garnet with two small diamonds on each side.
You may not be interested, but those diamonds have a story to tell.
My great-great grandmother squirreled away the money for them during a severe European depression.
No fickle currency for her; diamonds meant security.
Eventually the family sought a better life in America. The diamonds sailed across the Atlantic in the hem of her skirt.
In time, she gave them to my feisty, hard-working great-grandmother—another woman born of steel.
My grandfather secretly called her The Battleax—but he admired her courage in hard times. FULL POST
Posted 1/13/17 at 8:46 AM | Karen Kramer
Dressed in shiny black shoes, a flowered knee-length dress, white gloves, and a small hat worn atop her curly grey hair, she seemed to step right out of a 1950’s church service.
Widowed for over a dozen years, the elderly woman lived a solitary rural life. But despite the dated clothes, she knew exactly what her son was up to and it wasn’t good.
Thus, her reason to visit us.
Her son was our nearby neighbor. His life had been a zig-zagging road of challenges. Let’s just say that law enforcement knew his name and location.
But he had a mama who loved him. She knew we’d helped him out a time or two.
Now, she’d driven 80 country miles to see us. She wasn’t asking that we give him money—but could we somehow encourage him and give him some hope?
I felt sorry for this woman; she was far too old to deal with broken lives. She didn’t have the means to pay her son’s fines and bail—nor was she hinting that we should offer. FULL POST
Posted 1/4/17 at 9:10 PM | Karen Kramer
There’s always plenty of New Year’s advice, but I gave my grandson the mulligan lesson.
This is my first letter to you in the New Year! Every year is a fresh beginning and every day is a new start.
As much as you love sports, I thought you might like to learn something about a sport I played. In golf, you can take a mulligan if you blow your first shot.
A mulligan gives you a fresh start if your hit off the first tee is awful. It’s nice because your golf game doesn’t begin badly—you get the gift of a second chance.
In life, we get mulligans too. Sometimes teachers give them if you do poorly on a test when they know you tried hard.
Sometimes coaches give you a mulligan when they see that you have what it takes, even after some missed shots.
Your parents are quick to give you a mulligan if you’re honestly doing what you can to help. FULL POST
Posted 12/29/16 at 6:02 PM | Karen Kramer
It’s not heart disease, cancer or diabetes. By 2020 our greatest epidemic will be depression. Neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengston says the number suffering from depression will be greater than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined.
Why such an increase?
Medical researchers don’t know. It’s far easier to see the connection between diet and diabetes or exercise and heart disease.
Perhaps depression is increasing because of our comparison complex. Can Facebook take some blame for our nation’s depression?
There is a dark side to social media. Beth Moore said,
“Our social media world is training us up for our greatest complex. We think not only do we need to be great, we need others to know it.”
When did we make the mistake that thinking good is not good enough? FULL POST
Posted 12/19/16 at 10:32 PM | Karen Kramer
We are not the United States of California, but in a nation without the Electoral College, we might as well be.
Even President Obama has opined that the Electoral College is a relic of the past.
Democrats are now at work with revisionist legislation for the Electoral College’s demise. But our wise Founders prepared for an eventuality that a regional candidate could dominate a national election. Or in the case of California, a bastion of liberals with enough popular votes could take our nation anywhere it wanted to go.
The liberal media keeps clamoring that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. Without California (where Trump wisely saved his money and mostly campaigned elsewhere) Trump won, handily. Here’s the 2016 presidential election without California: Trump won by 1.4 million votes, 58,474,401 to Clinton’s 57,064,530. Trump also won 30 states, earning the 306 Electoral votes to Clinton’s 232.
California politics are virtually Republican-free. No Republican ran for state office and none ran for the congressional districts. California’s Democratic tax and spend policies have been firmly entrenched for decades. California won’t become a Red state in our lifetime. FULL POST
Posted 12/19/16 at 10:24 PM | Karen Kramer
The whole Santa thing started before I could walk or talk. My parents felt that a little storybook make-believe at Christmas just made the season even more special.
It didn’t take long for my young self to get acquainted with the big jolly guy in the red suit.
You won’t find any pictures of me crying on his lap. I must have connected the dots that this guy made things go well on Christmas morning.
Santa and I seemed to develop a friendly rapport. It didn’t matter that there was a dreadfully long line to see him every year. I could whisper my wishes with confidence and he’d ALWAYS remember.
The specialness lasted but a few years and then like all good storybooks, the ending comes.
When I asked my parents, they told me the truth about Santa and his magic elves. While the magic had been fun for my childhood fantasies, something quickly replaced it that was far better. FULL POST
Posted 12/13/16 at 11:18 AM | Karen Kramer
Hannah carefully brought out the boxes that she’d stowed away only eleven months ago. But it seemed much longer.
Gene had slid further into his own world. She had watched it as if little pieces of their lives disappeared a week at a time.
Yes, it had been a very long eleven months.
Gene sat in the recliner staring out the window as he did for hours at a time.
She gingerly unwrapped the decades old glass ornaments and placed them carefully on each branch. All that could be heard was the crinkling of tissue paper. FULL POST