About Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karen's stories have appeared in *Newsweek*, *The Christian Science Monitor*, and *Pack and Paddle Magazine* and she's the author of *Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad*, "The Brush of Angel Wings*, *The Madcap Christian Scientist* series, *A Poem Sits on my Windowsill*, *Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom*, and co-author of *The Humoristian Chronicles: A Most Unusual Fellowship*. Her photos are featured in the spring 2014 edition of the *Bellingham Review*, and the "Photos from the Field" page of the April/May 2017, December/January 2018-2019, and April/May 2019 issues of of *Mother Earth News*. Her photos can be found at fineartamerica.com. Her books can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Molenaar-Terrell/e/B0044P90RQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1312060042&sr=8-

The Need to Share What Matters

Four years ago, during the last election season, strangers would suddenly appear and comment on my public Facebook posts and they would say things with weird phrasing and syntax – stuff like “you are a big banana butt” and “you are a person brainless” – and sometimes their names were spelled with characters that are not used in the English language (μονοσε πουλι). These strangers would tell me to fu#& off and wished harm to me and my friends. It was an odd and interesting time.

I blocked those people (to block the names with weird characters I had to do a copy and paste – my keyboard doesn’t include weird characters on it) and learned from that experience to disallow commenting on my public posts from people who aren’t my friends.

I’m pretty sure now – looking back – that these strangers were not fellow citizens of my country. (Duh, right?) I’m not even sure that they were actually human beings.

I don’t want my posts to be divisive – that is not my intent. I don’t want to see my friends ganging up on each other and calling each other names. I don’t want to promote hate. I don’t want to let myself or my posts be manipulated or used to create havoc and confusion.

But.

I also have a real need to share things that matter to me; to share things that are important to me; to share the things that give me hope, and the things that feel like a punch in the gut, too; and to share things that might help us learn from each other.

I am struggling with how to proceed on Facebook. Honestly, sometimes the hate and mean-ness I encounter there is so overwhelming that I feel the need to leave. And sometimes I just get bored with myself – yada yada blah blah blah – and realize I have nothing more to add.

Anyway. We’ll see how it goes…
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Response to Friends Who Talk About Rioting

A couple of my Facebook friends have talked about the rioting and violence that have occurred concurrently with some of the Black Lives Matter protests. I’ve been responding individually to their comments, but I thought it might save me time if I just did a copy and paste of my last response to a friend and saved it here:

Yeah. I hear you. CHOP in Seattle was a mess – I ain’t going to disagree with you there. But… if you scroll down my wall you’ll see an interesting post about who’s actually been causing the mayhem – and, according to a story in the Washington Post, it is apparently not “antifa” – it’s been caused mostly by ‘local hooligans, sometimes gangs, sometimes just individuals that are trying to take advantage of an opportunity.’ According to the article, the alt-right “Boogaloo” movement has played a part in the violence, too.

From my own experience participating in the local BLM rally in Burlington, the only maybe threatening and intimidating element I saw there were the half a dozen Trump supporters standing off to the side with their rifles, self-appointed to “keep the peace.” The actual police officers there – whom I thanked for their support – were very calm and friendly – and the protest was entirely peaceful.

The racism and hate crimes in this country need to end. Now. None of us who are true Americans can allow it to continue for even one more day. And when the bulk of our president’s Fourth of July speech is loaded with division and hate for his own constituents – instead of the compassion and understanding we all sorely need right now – we need to call him on it.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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Black Lives Matter More Than Statues

Black lives matter more than statues.
Living human beings matter more
than stone idols. The victims used
to mock and shame matter more
than the cheap laugh someone gets
from a vicious campaign.
Children separated from parents
matter more than The Wall. The health
of our planet matters more than
the wealth of CEOs. Women matter
even when they’re not incubators.
LGBTQ rights matter more
than the hate of the haters.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Another Karen for Justice and Kindness

 

A Message from my Younger Self

Found an old journal from probably 40 years ago as I was sorting through old boxes and bins.

I word-doodled (this was a free write ramble – there was no organization to it): “Even if ten years from now you’re not the same person, this person that you were really existed and lived. Love and trust and beauty aren’t magical – they’re real – and you can take them with you wherever you go. Be happy that you’re alive for this one moment of peace and contentment when you have everything you need.”

I think I needed the voice of my younger self speaking to me today from the before-times.

 

Dear Amazon Forum Friends,

Long long ago and in a land far far away I stumbled into a rabbit hole full of delightful misfits and smartasses, wise folk and wits, and wacky and wonderful hooligans. My life would never be the same.

It was the summer of 2007. I was checking out my book on Amazon and saw that there were discussion forums listed at the bottom of the page. I clicked on one of the links and found a land full of rousing and intriguing conversations about Big Ideas – it was just like being back in university again. We talked about God and Nogod and The Bible and world leaders and policies and policy-makers and writers and books. As we bounced ideas off each other – shared and listened, debated and learned from each other – and laughed! – we built bonds of friendship and kinship that have lasted to this day.

As time goes on, I’ve come to realize just how valuable and important that time in the Amazon forums was for me. I learned so much from my Amazon friends!

A good chunk of my Facebook friends are friends from the Amazon forums. And a lot of them have become friends to my other friends, too! And I’ve become friends to THEIR friends and family. The ripples keep extending.

In the last few years we’ve begun to lose some of our Amazon classmates. Randy Kercher died unexpectedly in 2017. Dean Wrzeszcz died of COVID-19 in April. I feel like I’ve lost family.

And I guess Randy’s death and Dean’s death have given me a sense of urgency about letting my Amazon friends know how important they are to me. How much I love them. How grateful I am to have met them. We shared a unique and wonderful time together. My theistic heart believes we were meant to meet there and meant to be friends. Look at all we’ve come through together in the last 13 years! I’ve felt your support through the challenging times. I’ve been so grateful for your humor on those days when I really needed a good laugh. I’ve been so grateful for your wisdom on those days when I needed a new perspective. I can’t imagine my life now without you in it.

Thank you, dear friends.

(Through the years I’ve actually been able to meet some of my Amazon friends in the person: Kathi and Jamie in Nova Scotia; Marissa in Minnesota; Becky in Virginia; David in Michigan; and Allen, and Heather and her family, Craig and his wife, and Marissa and her husband, David and his family, and Sandy and her husband, have all taken the time to meet up with me in western Washington State. What a joy!)

Black Lives Mattered Then, Too

I just had a flashback from 40 years ago. I was on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton – I think I’d been visiting a friend in Seattle. I was standing at the railing of the ferry by myself, looking out over the water. A good-looking young man with blue eyes approached me and started chatting. He was visiting from another state, he said. Out here to lead a meeting or a gathering – I don’t remember his exact words now. He thought I might be interested in going to this meeting. I asked him what it was about. He said he was with the KKK. I remember feeling like I’d just been kicked in the gut – thinking he did not look like what I thought a KKK member would look like – shocked that there was anyone in the KKK in Washington State – wasn’t the KKK a southern thing? I told him no, I was not interested in his meeting. He tried to convince me to join him. I remember saying something like: “The KKK is against rights for blacks. The KKK hates black people.” And he smiled this really charming smile and said that no, the KKK wasn’t about hating black people – the KKK just wanted to make sure white people had rights, too – or something like that. I told him no, the KKK is racist, and no, I was not going to go to his meeting, and I walked away.

And here we are. Forty years later. My heart is breaking.

Grateful for Our Connection

Back in February and March – when COVID-19 was first making the news – I had terrible fears for a loved one who was traveling though Europe. (Maybe someday I’ll share more about that.) My terror caused me to pull out all the tools I’d acquired in my life to get me through troubling times – and one of the chief tools was expressing gratitude for all the good in my life.

I remember lying in bed one night in particular – my thoughts were all agitated and I couldn’t find peace. I was just staring at the ceiling, trying to calm myself, and I started listing in my thoughts all the people I was grateful for in my life – my sons, husband, Mom and Dad, siblings, nieces and nephews, in-laws, friends from grade school, junior high, high school, university, Mount Rainier friends, neighbors, colleagues, church friends, Humoristian friends, FB friends, WordPress friends – and then I found myself including people who might not be considered “friends” – people I thought had maybe treated me unkindly or unfairly, people I’d had a rift with – and I found myself genuinely grateful for THEM, too, and for my connection to them.

It was a cosmic moment for me. I felt my connection to all of God’s, Love’s, creation – and each and every expression of Life. I knew this overwhelming gratitude that I’m not solitary and alone in this vast, infinite universe – grateful for my connection to all the infinite expressions of Life. I felt Love’s presence with me – supporting me – sure and comforting and healing and powerful. My fears dissolved away and I was able to go back to sleep.

I’m going to practice having more of those cosmic moments.

And I know those moments begin with love.

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Calling Out Her Name One More Time

I found another treasure while sorting through my piles and cupboards during the COVID-19 lockdown: the memory of an old friend.

I found the memory as I was going through the shelves and more shelves and stacks of books I’ve accumulated through a lifetime of reading. I have books from my sci-fi phase; from my fantasy phase; from my romance phase; from my mystery phase; from my memoirs phase; from my true life adventures phase. I have books from authors who make me laugh and books by authors who make me think, and books by authors who make me do both. There’s my Tolkien collection and my Vonnegut collection and my Douglas Adams collection and my old Earl Emerson collection. There are my Neil Gaiman books and my Norah Roberts books and my Jane Austin books and my Agatha Christie books. And, as I was sorting through my stacks, I found I’d accumulated a whole lot of Christian Science books, too – and that’s when I stumbled upon the memory of my friend.

I’d come upon yet another copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy – this one was a 7 12″ by 10 1/2″ “Reader’s Edition”– an old black leather beauty. I opened it up to see if I could find out where I’d come by this one – and that’s when I saw  – written in elegant red calligraphy – the name of my dear friend, Jane Elofson. Just seeing her name there awakened a sweet memory of my friend’s beautiful smile.

Jane Elofson had been one of the people who had made me feel welcome when my husband and I moved to Skagit County 35 years ago and I began attending the local Christian Science church. Jane, and her husband, Gordon, must have been about 68 or 69 then. They were one of those couples from The Greatest Generation that exuded a kind of classy kindness and grace. Gordon was handsome and dignified without being stuffy – he had a wonderful laugh and a great sense of humor. And Jane was stylish and gracious and funny – she had a “Ginger Rogers” kind of class about her.

As I stared at Jane’s name in the book I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen Gordon and Jane – and when I’d lost contact with them. It’d been decades, at least.

I thought it might be cool if I could do some googling and see if I could find some children, or maybe grandchildren, that I could send Jane’s book to. I imagined her loved ones opening up my package and finding Jane’s name in the book, and I imagined the happy surprise that might bring them. But there was little information to glean from the internet about Gordon and Jane. There was a 1940 census that placed them in Oregon when they were both 23 and newly-married. There were possible obituaries in Minnesota and an old photo of what might have been a younger version of Jane. But, eventually, I hit a dead end on the world wide web.

I contacted a mutual friend who had loved the Elofsons, too, and she gave me a bit more information – she told me she thought the Elofsons had a son, an artist, who lived on the east coast somewhere. I went back to googling, but soon stalled out again.

In the end, it seems the only physical evidence I have to show that Jane Elofson was ever on this planet is her elegant signature in the leather-bound copy of the Science and Health I found in my stacks of books.

Maybe this is what she would have wanted. Maybe there’s something kind of clean and simple about leaving this planet with no trace of yourself – no trace that you ever lived on it, or were ever a part of it.

But I can’t help myself – I feel a real yearning to call out Jane’s name at least this one more time – to bring her name to the world wide web and acknowledge her existence – acknowledge her kindness to me and remember her beautiful smile.

Jane Elofson signature

Baker Lake Trail: Taking a Break from the Crazy

Went for a hike on the Baker Lake Trail yesterday with the family. I really needed this…
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)