Friday Tidings

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Posted 6/22/12 at 9:21 AM | Karen Farris

(W)Hole Inside

The pilot took a wide circle far above the Grand Canyon. I marveled at the jagged layers of rock. Even from thousands of feet above, the canyon was incredibly deep and I could see the ribbon of the Colorado River. Dad had wanted to take us there as children, but we never did. Now decades later, I was seeing it on the way to Tucson to make his funeral arrangements.

Traveling alone allowed my thoughts free reign. Having a window seat made it even easier. The jet made another large circle—this time above the airport. Despite the noontime sun, I felt like was descending into a dark hole. Worse yet, the dark hole was inside me. I wondered why God allowed dark holes. Wasn’t He supposed to help prevent those? I inwardly complained that if my faith was worth anything, now was the time it needed to kick in. FULL POST

Posted 6/15/12 at 9:11 AM | Karen Farris

Honor Thy Father

When I was little, my father was just part of my day. He’d wake me in the morning and get me out the door in time for school. Then I’d run down the street to meet him on his way home from work. He wasn’t much of a handyman, but he kept our yard tidy with an old push mower. He paid bills at a small desk wedged between the wall and his bed. He didn’t scold as loud as Mom, but his silence was almost worse. When I was sad, my tears would be wiped away with his soft white hanky. Just a few of his words were all I needed to set my world right again. I loved tagging along on his Saturday errands. On Sundays, we’d walk hand in hand down the block to church.

Being a teen didn’t change my perspective much. My dad was still just part of my day— he worked, took care of the yard and paid the bills. He even taught me how to drive a stick shift— without ever raising his voice. His listening ear and soft white hanky now helped my topsy-turvy teenage world. We played tennis and took long walks, but I thought that’s just what fathers wanted to do. FULL POST

Posted 6/8/12 at 10:02 AM | Karen Farris

The Real Trivia Test

Name some Pulitzer Prize winners over the last five years.

Name the last ten movies to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Name the MLB teams that have won the last ten World Series.

Name the ten richest people in the world.

I flunked the test. I’m not much into trivia. Yet, these are some of the best worldly accomplishments. All that work and it’s hard to be remembered for it. Time seems to erase the sound of the applause.

Next year another team will take the prize. A new movie will be released; a blockbuster book takes its place on the New York Times bestseller list. We forget the old as we grab the new. FULL POST

Posted 6/1/12 at 9:18 AM | Karen Farris

Graduation Tips I Didn’t Get

Graduation speeches tend to be long, full of wisdom, and generally hard to remember. So instead, I’d like to present you with a list of 10 things I wish I had heard when I graduated.

10. You’re leaving childhood behind and gaining freedom—but you are also being handed lots of responsibilities. You’ll sometimes miss the carefree life of high school. That’s normal. Enjoy the memories, but know that what’s ahead is worth the effort.

9. Whatever label someone stuck on you in high school doesn’t apply now. You can be anyone you want. That’s real freedom.

8. Think about what things control you. Make sure they are good things. Freedom offers opportunities. Not all of them are good. Where you can be in 10 years depends on today’s choices. FULL POST

Posted 5/25/12 at 9:29 AM | Karen Farris

Control Freak

Yes, I’m a control freak. I keep a tight grip on life’s events. I prearrange good, solid plans (read: predictable). I don’t go for the outlandish. However, I’m married to an adventurer. When he plans something, it’s usually beyond my carefully manicured boundaries. I’ve been rightfully accused of shooting down his ideas. So when Thom asked to let him plan where we’d stay while attending a conference, it was a long overdue privilege.

Excitedly, he checked out everything from a large sailboat to a motor home. He settled on a lovely fully furnished home nestled in the woods. He found it on the Internet (red flag). We arrived late. For the right effect, start humming Hotel California…. “My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night.”

The “hostess” gave us a key, wished us well and quickly left. Once inside we noticed the lovely home was decorated with dozens of scary masks, creepy art, and graphic paintings. This was not some vacation condo. This was someone's home—someone with a “unique” taste in decorating. A quick check of the closet confirmed it: clothing, shoes, dressers with socks and skivvies, bathroom with toothbrushes and all the personal effects…it was as if someone had just left so we could come in. FULL POST

Posted 5/18/12 at 9:23 AM | Karen Farris

Politically Divided

The two pictures were framed together and displayed on my grandma’s dresser. It became a long-standing family joke—and the bedrock of our political game we’d play together every presidential election.

Growing up in a bipartisan home was normal to me. Political discussions were lively, but never mean. My Republican dad baited my Democrat mom, but he listened to her views on everything from welfare to women’s rights.

Having a college professor grandpa on one side and a highly successful junior high-educated grandpa on the other just meant that I had a full spectrum of ideas. Presidential elections brought increased volume during dinner discussions.

It was no different when I’d visit my grandparents during the summer. I sat with them as they listened to the national convention speeches. Political passion meant getting involved—and that’s exactly what my family did—just on opposite sides. As each election got closer, I knew that I’d win either way, because in my heart I knew my family would support their nation no matter who won. FULL POST

Posted 5/11/12 at 9:41 AM | Karen Farris

Woman’s Liberation Mother

The auditorium was dark and fortunately I was sitting near the back where all the 7th graders congregated. The other blessing was that it was just the junior high girls. I think I would have totally freaked if it had been the whole school.

I hadn’t told anyone that my mom had come to talk to us. It was an event sponsored by one of the local women’s clubs to promote healthy living—not smoking, staying clear of drugs. An older woman, with a tall, white beehive hairdo, introduced my mom. I doubt she had any clue that my mom would soon unleash on this innocent audience.

Understand that this was 1970—the beginnings of the women’s movement. And my mom was totally in. With her trademark rant-like cheer, she declared while we’d won the right to wear jeans we now needed to demand to be able to take Auto Shop and not be forced to take Home Economics. The girls cheered. It was like a women’s lib rally for young teens. I slid lower in my seat. Girls close to me turned and said, “Is that your mom??”

Yes, that was my mom. She was never shy about sharing her opinion. No one argued that she worked hard. She had a job and went to college—no easy feat since it required driving five hours a day to get to her classes. She was admired and she was also despised. Her hard line policies as a director got her fired…twice. FULL POST

Posted 5/4/12 at 10:16 AM | Karen Farris

Paper Lesson

I listened to the simple directions:

Fold a piece of paper in half. On the top part write the worst things that have happened to you. On the bottom half list all the good things.

Then look at how some of the bad things on the top helped bring about some of the good things on the bottom.

I remembered my disappointment not being able to go to the college of my dreams, but it led me to the college where I met the man of my dreams. Further down the bad list were the desperate years on our failing farm. But those years fortified our resolve to remain united in hardship.

I’m old enough now to see the bad-good pattern and not flinch so much when something new goes on the top half of the paper. As much as I wish to avoid heartache, sickness, despair, brokenness, and poverty, I have experienced them all. Perspective allows me to see the good even in the bad…but usually not at first.

Something got added to my bad list this week. I anticipate eventually something good will come, even though I’m not sure how or when it will happen. We've been told that without pain and loss we'd not appreciate pleasure, without loss we’d not be thankful for gain. Yet it goes further than that. Bad stuff usually teaches me something I need to learn. FULL POST

Posted 4/27/12 at 9:37 AM | Karen Farris

Sixteen? Listen up.

Fifty-four year old advice I wish I could have given to my know-it-all sixteen-year-old self….

Dear Karen, Take a deep breath and lighten up. Those school grades that give you ulcers aren’t really going to matter.... in a couple years you’ll be going to a college that doesn’t use grades. And after one will ask. There are other things you should be more concerned about. Such as:

How about forgiving your parents for their divorce? You don't need to take sides. Marriages aren't easy. When you get married you’ll understand why. Crazy as this sounds, in five years you’ll be married. And here’s some good news: your parent’s story doesn’t need to be yours.

Don’t be so concerned that some of your peers are cuter, slimmer, smarter, more athletic, more talented, funnier, richer, or luckier than you. Chances are someone wishes they had something you have. Getting older won't change things. If anything it highlights what we’re not. So, discover your own special qualities and celebrate them. FULL POST

Posted 4/17/12 at 11:17 AM | Karen Farris

Wishful Sleeping

I have a recurring dream that strikes me when I’m vulnerable to the nostalgic blues. In the fogginess of my sleep, I go back and undo one of the biggest decisions my husband and I ever made. I’m back in the home we left behind. Even though I feel a sense of disbelief that I’m there, I’m elated that it’s ours again and relieved that we hadn’t moved away.

As I dream, something is gnawing at my conscience. I’m feeling I need to be careful. My emotions are on high alert. I walk through the familiar rooms and while I can’t quite believe I’m back, I am wondering where do I really live? FULL POST

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