God's daughter. Woman of faith. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Servant to the King.
Posted 9/12/17 at 12:56 PM | Karen Kramer
This isn’t about an “evil” Amazon; it’s about Americans who love to shop. Amazon merely capitalized on our culture. The billion-dollar company gives us an immediate response to our wants.
For me, living 15 miles from a store makes Amazon an easy one stop shop. And I’ve got friends building successful careers at Amazon.
What’s not to like? Amazon dialed up American’s buying culture, and we answered. The dark side? For one thing, some of our local stores are fighting for their fiscal lives.
The old ways and the old days of shopping are changing. Progress is like that. What will we miss in the years ahead?
My first real job was in a retail store. I learned to handle the occasional rude customer. I learned how to be responsible for inventory and money, while multi-tasking as a clerk, janitor, and stocker of shelves. My .10 per hour raise was well-earned. FULL POST
Posted 9/6/17 at 7:40 PM | Karen Kramer
Labor Day’s celebration of American workers is well-deserved because hard work defines us.
The little church near the restaurant was ideal—she could attend the early service and go right to work afterwards. She noticed a man standing up in the back pew.
He stood the whole service.
As church ended and she was making her way out the door she realized the man who’d been standing was her boss, Pat Sullivan, owner of the restaurant where she waited tables.
She asked him why he stood throughout the service.
“I hire people who have to stand on their feet all day long in order to make my business prosper.
So whenever I go to church, I stand to remind myself how it feels.
I hope it keeps me from being too bossy and makes me remember not to push my help too hard when they are tired. Most of all, it makes me grateful for the labor and loyalty of my employees, who have made my restaurant a success.” FULL POST
Posted 8/31/17 at 3:52 PM | Karen Kramer
Here’s my annual back-to-school blog post. This year it’s personal.
This summer you hiked places you’ve never been before. Soon, you’ll be in middle school classrooms that you’ve never been before too.
But unlike your summer hikes, this one is going to take months to complete. That’s okay, because afterwards you’ll be smarter and stronger in new ways.
While you were hiking in Glacier National Park, there was some concern about running into a grizzly bear. You did, but you were safe in your truck when it happened.
In middle school, there will be some things that seem as big and bothersome as bears. But just as your truck provided security when you saw the bear, there are people at school to help you.
Then there’s this:
You’re resilient. I suppose being a soccer goalie in the freezing rain taught you that.
But resilience will help as you handle more kids and five or six different teachers with higher expectations than before. FULL POST
Posted 8/24/17 at 11:46 AM | Karen Kramer
Back in college, I took journalism from a visiting Columbia University professor. He wore a perpetual frown and chain-smoked in class.
He had impossibly high expectations, making me wonder why I decided communications was a good career path. I cringed with every assignment I turned in.
Then he asked the class to report on a year-old regional protest that had resulted in numerous arrests.
Prior to the Google Age, research was conducted in a really old-fashioned way—the library.
After trudging off to search for newspaper articles regarding the event, I took copious notes and typed up my report.
A week later, as the class shared identical findings, the professor sat in a cloud of cigarette smoke, with brows deeply furrowed.
Then he stood and smirked with the kind of gotcha look that had me wondering what I’d missed. I’d used multiple references—so had everyone else. FULL POST
Posted 8/15/17 at 11:15 AM | Karen Kramer
My earliest vacation recollection was the kerosene lantern on a red night stand. My mother sat reading in its glow.
I was bundled on a cot next to my sister. I couldn’t see the lake, but through the screened porch, I could hear the gentle lapping of water along the shoreline.
Every summer thereafter, we traveled back to my grandparent’s cabin in Northern Idaho. No electricity, telephone, or bathroom.
Cooking and heating dishwater were all done on the woodstove. It was the kind of rustic living a kid dreamed about—at least back then.
Life happens and so does progress. First it was a road, making it possible to reach the cabin by car instead of a boat.
Soon power lines crept along, mile by mile, until in the early 1970’s it reached the cabin. The kerosene lanterns retired.
A new water system eliminated the need for the outhouse—the final adios to our summer experience. FULL POST
Posted 8/10/17 at 11:28 AM | Karen Kramer
Not until it was so dark I couldn’t see did I find the One who showed me the way.
She unlocked her apartment door after another horrendous day. Weariness combined with utter disappointment.
Sliding onto the couch, emotional darkness settled in. Nothing really mattered at this point.
Then the phone rang. Not wanting to answer, she did anyway. And it was someone who wanted to listen.
In the comforting veil of darkness, her words of sadness flowed. In that dark place, with the bleakest outlook and a listening ear, seeds of hope finally emerged.
With a trail of bad days and hopeless nights behind her, she stood and went to the mirror.
Give up or go on?
In that moment, as she stared at her reflection, her weakness became a strong resolve to change. FULL POST
Posted 8/2/17 at 1:35 PM | Karen Kramer
They say numbers don’t lie. So here it is: $1.2 trillion dollars are contributed annually to our US economy by religious folks.
The money supports programs aimed at the hurting, helpless, hungry, and the people that support them.
Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the other top tech companies don’t put as much money into our economy.
When the idea is tossed around that churches need to be taxed, it’s important to look at the real dollars churches provide to our nation.
People are giving money away to help those in need. Churches provide their buildings for childcare centers, soup kitchens, job training, free clothing outlets, medical clinics, and that’s in addition to the direct dollars spent on the poor.
Besides money, churches coordinate 7.5 million volunteers in 1.5 million social programs aimed at helping those who need it most.
In the past 15 years, religious giving to the needy has tripled. While taxing churches could bring in money, it will only impact the amount they already give away.
One needs to ask how well the government would manage those tax dollars.
This much is certain: with $1.2 trillion being offered through religious groups each year, it reveals the generous hearts of millions of people. They aren’t giving because they’re required to, they are giving because they want to.
Posted 7/27/17 at 7:29 PM | Karen Kramer
A few miles from where I went to college, a friend of ours had a plot of land with a creek running through it. He’d timbered a portion of the property and even though the land was a bit scarred up, it was open to the sunshine—with ample fresh water.
Digging out a garden was a tough challenge. Ironically, it was also a difficult season in our lives.
The garden came to represent our hope in a future we couldn’t see. We planted seeds, nurtured them, and waited.
When the earth yielded succulent veggies, it was worth the effort.
In late fall, we moved to my mom’s property and decided to create a new garden—in another area riddled with tree roots and rocks. We cultivated the ground, and the fresh earth was ready for seeds, but it wasn’t planting season. Waiting had never been easy for me.
The garden was teaching me patience. But we moved before we had a chance to plant—our effort would help someone else’s garden.
New gardens were planted every time I moved—mostly small plots, with big hopes. It seemed that however long I stayed, there needed to be the promise of growth.
Life and gardening both have seasons—some easier than others. I’ve learned there’s a reason for every difficult season. FULL POST
Posted 7/19/17 at 12:55 PM | Karen Kramer
Washington State drivers have a new “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics” law. Keep your hands off your phone—don’t even read that text message at a stop light. We are limited to a single finger (not that one) to “trigger a voice-activated application”.
Okay, I understand distraction, but how about reckless stupidity?
A few weeks ago, I witnessed a near-miss collision and it had nothing to do a phone. My rural highway leads to some spectacular camping spots. Tourists flock here every summer.
Thirty foot motorhomes and trucks pulling huge trailers routinely drive slower than the speed limit.
Most of them are unfamiliar with our curvy highway. I was behind a car that was tailgating a truck and travel trailer. But the slow-moving driver was almost going the speed limit—just a couple miles per hour under the limit. FULL POST
Posted 7/11/17 at 7:42 PM | Karen Kramer
I was one of fifty volunteers who carried a Fallen Hero banner in our local July 4th parade.
As part of the Fallen Heroes Banner Project, these traveling banners are carried in parades and celebrations across America—honoring soldiers lost since 9/11.
I held Army Sergeant Nathan Wyrick’s banner. Once I got home I looked up his obituary online.
He’d been sent to Iraq twice, and died in Afghanistan in 2011. He’d been a dutiful dad to his four young sons and was always helping others.
He loved serving in kid’s ministry at New Hope Community Church. A close friend said, “He was a dad first and foremost, and a soldier second.”
When military friends were deployed, Nathan acted as a dad for other families’ kids. His generous heart touched many.
That generous heart stopped beating when he was just thirty-four. FULL POST