God's daughter. Woman of faith. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Servant to the King.
Posted 5/18/17 at 1:38 PM | Karen Kramer
At age 13 I announced I wanted to be a mountain climber. My parents probably thought it was a phase, but signed me up for a mountaineering course.
My instructor, Glenn, was a retired Air Force colonel and a legend in the eyes of climbing community—he’d been caught in an avalanche and lived to make it an instructional lesson.
Besides climbing techniques, we tackled rigorous physical conditioning—running up steep hills.
I wanted to climb Mt. Rainier. Glenn shook his head no. Our first big climb would be what he affectionately called The Queen: Mt. St. Helens.
At nearly 10,000 feet, it had plenty of challenge with jagged rocks, dangerous crevasses, and ice shelves that could become an avalanche.
At 4:30 AM on a crisp February morn, with headlamps beaming, we began our ascent. FULL POST
Posted 5/10/17 at 2:11 PM | Karen Kramer
When I became a mother, Mom told me my life would never be my own again. She was right, and it has been a most amazing, life-changing journey.
And the lessons I’d learn….
It was one of those long nights with a sick child. By the time my 16-month-old daughter finally went to sleep, I collapsed in bed exhausted.
But I’d inadvertently left the cap off a nearly empty bottle of children’s chewable Tylenol pills.
As fate would have it, this was also the night my child learned how to climb out of her crib.
Not quite satisfied with that jail break, she toddled into the kitchen, spied the bottle of Tylenol on the counter, pushed a chair over and climbed up.
She woke me a few minutes later babbling about an empty bottle. A frantic call to the poison control center followed. FULL POST
Posted 5/4/17 at 11:02 AM | Karen Kramer
After a few weeks in the classroom, Anne knows which kids are struggling.
Sometimes its money.
She has a ready supply of pens, paper, & binders to give away.
Kids come to school ill-equipped for cold weather. She hits the secondhand stores for an assortment of warm sweaters, coats, and boots.
And before the high school’s spring dance, she’s scanning consignment racks for cute prom dresses and guy’s dress shirts. Her students won’t be left out because they didn’t have anything to wear.
Some students need more time than a class period. So, Anne keeps her door open so students have a place to go after school. Sometimes she’ll even ask a student to stay after school.
It’s more than just homework catch-up, it’s because she cares about their future. She knows that school is their ticket to a hopeful future. FULL POST
Posted 4/27/17 at 1:03 PM | Karen Kramer
I loved playing tennis as a teenager. When I was learning how, my dad and I practiced on a dilapidated court next to the town’s nearly abandoned airport. No one was around to watch us and we’d make up games as we played. I think we laughed more than anything.
For my 15th birthday, Mom even created a tennis racket shaped cake. I can’t recall the wishes I made before blowing out the candles, but with all the erratic expectations of youth, anything was possible.
A couple birthdays later, I remember staying after class for help on my English essay. My teacher sat on the edge of her desk, and in a thoughtful way cautioned me that taking school too seriously wouldn’t be good for my health.
Life was more than school. She was right, but I hadn’t experienced enough life to understand what she meant.
Two birthdays after that, when I had discovered that life was indeed much more than school, I went to a college that focused less on grades and more on the love of learning. FULL POST
Posted 4/20/17 at 11:31 AM | Karen Kramer
While waiting for a repair, I noticed an elderly man reading the Wall Street Journal. As he folded the paper, our eyes met and I commented on the headlines.
He raised a bushy eyebrow.
I ventured to ask what he thought about the North Korean threat. He frowned, but then in what must have been a time-honored tradition of respect, the old man rose, bowed slightly, and politely shared that his name was Sidney.
Sidney counted off the fourteen presidents he’d lived through—recalling their achievements and enumerating their faults.
As a veteran, he also knew every American overseas military engagement. He explained that nuclear threats aren’t new, but there are now more diabolical players in the game.
“Did you hear that Iran’s Ahmadinejad wants to be president again?” he asked. FULL POST
Posted 4/11/17 at 7:29 PM | Karen Kramer
I learned about “thin places” when a pastor explained that it’s where the veil between heaven and earth becomes so thin you can feel God’s closeness in a new way.
The pastor’s thin place was a circle of enormous redwood trees.
I’ve been on mountain tops and in lush valleys. Near quiet lakes and places so pristine that I wondered if anyone had set foot there before.
But I wouldn’t say I experienced being in a thin place. Maybe I’m too earthy to feel much heavenly closeness.
Then I remembered a tiny room in an old trailer home we lived in decades ago. We’d brought our premature daughter home in the middle of a very cold winter.
We had to keep our baby warm and feed her 3 ounces of milk every ninety minutes. After one early morning feeding, I was holding her, rubbing her tiny back as she writhed in pain trying to digest the small amount. Tears slid down my cheeks as I wondered why it had be so hard for her. FULL POST
Posted 4/6/17 at 3:04 PM | Karen Kramer
“My marriage was a complete lie.” my friend wrote.
I could sense the tears that came with those words. The beautiful beginning—complete with a flowing white gown, ring bearer and flower girl, had come to this twisted ending.
She then wrote, “We were doomed from the start, because I didn’t know what he was hiding.”
The story came out in staggering sentences. It’s one thing to sit on the other side of a table, reach across to hold a hand and offer a measure of comfort. It’s totally another to read the devastation, line by line in an email.
Chalk up another one on the side of Porn Wins.
She found out about her husband’s porn use when he’d inadvertently left his favorite computer site open by mistake. Upon questioning, there was a confession, apologies, and a sincere desire to quit.
“But that was a lie too. He never quit, he just found different ways to deceive me.”
Yet, the marriage continued with grace and forgiveness. Then came his slightly accusatory statements, like, “You need to trust me.” “You’re making it a bigger deal than it is.” “You need to get over it.” FULL POST
Posted 3/30/17 at 11:44 AM | Karen Kramer
Baseball’s opening day is nearly here, but fewer people care. Will a new generation even give it a chance?
Our son loved baseball. A day at the ballpark brought plenty of excitement. Well, back then it was easier to keep a kid’s attention before the hyper-digital age.
Besides the aura of the stadium and seeing a live game, some of the friendly MLB players would take time to sign autographs beforehand.
Talk about inspiring a young ball player! Recently a sportswriter lamented that baseball has lost its appeal.
We just don’t move at a nine-inning pace anymore. That may be true, but listen to how much we talk baseball:
For the successful sales team: “They hit it out of the park”
How about when we need a rough estimate of a repair: “Can you ballpark it?” FULL POST
Posted 3/22/17 at 4:47 PM | Karen Kramer
It’s track season once again. I loved watching my son compete—and his individual events were so exciting.
But there was something special about his relay races. In the dicey “exchange zone” the baton is passed from one runner to the next. They have mere seconds to make a clean exchange in the zone, without dropping the baton or taking precious seconds off their time.
It’s a skill the team routinely practices and in competition; their mission isn’t just passing the baton, but winning the race.
I was wondering how Millennials are feeling as they reach behind to grab the baton from our generation (Boomers)?
Just how are we doing in the exchange zone? This much is certain: we are passing a baton weighted down with national debt. A debt they didn’t create on their own. FULL POST
Posted 3/16/17 at 1:23 PM | Karen Kramer
I learned the hard way that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
I stood before the tribunal of unsmiling judges. Having completed the debate competition was hard enough, to now face their criticism was worse.
My teammate and I had argued our case about America’s broken welfare system against a formidable twosome.
Now the four of us had to stand and listen to why we’d won or lost. To say it was humbling is mild. The judges could tell us we were sloppy in our presentation, or worse, that our arguments were unfounded—a polite way of saying that we were blowing smoke and didn’t know what we were talking about. You couldn’t fool the judges—they could shoot holes in your logic, and would expose any shoddy research.
Sweat was sliding down my back as it became my turn to hear their critique. Later, I would wonder why this was something I enjoyed doing, but for now, I respectfully stood and listened. FULL POST