Introduction to Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist

Introduction to Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist:

Years ago an old boyfriend said to me, “I can’t see that Christian Science has made you any better than anyone else.”

“I know!” I said, nodding my head in complete and happy agreement, “But can you imagine what I’d be like without it?!”

He raised his eyebrows and laughed. What could he say? He was looking at a self-centered, moralistic, stubborn idealist who saw everything in terms of black and white. But I could have been worse. I believe without Christian Science I would have been worse.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I am not the best example of a Christian Scientist. I’m not as disciplined as I could be. I have fears and worries and doubts. I’m a little neurotic. I am the Lucy Ricardo of Christian Scientists.

I should probably put in a disclaimer here, too—the views expressed in these pages are not necessarily the views shared by other Christian Scientists. Christian Scientists are really a pretty diverse group of people—there are Democrat Christian Scientists and Republican Christian Scientists, “Green,” and “Red,” and “Blue” Christian Scientists, and Christian Scientists with no political affiliations at all. Frankly, I like that about us. We keep each other on our toes.

I should also tell you that this book is not an authorized piece of Christian Science literature. If you want to actually study Christian Science you should probably read the textbook for this way of life, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

My purpose for writing this epistle is really two-fold (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “two-fold” in my life, and using it now is making me feel sort of professorial. I like the feeling.):

First-foldly, to introduce you to one Christian Scientist so that if you ever hear someone talking fearfully and ignorantly (feargnorantly?) about Christian Scientists you’ll be in a position to say, “I have a friend who’s a Christian Scientist, and, although it’s true she’s a bit of a nut, she’s also…” and you can go on and talk about how your friend has used her study of Christian Science to try to make the world a happier place.

Second-foldly, I feel the need to acknowledge God’s blessings in my life. I don’t want to be like those nine lepers in the Bible who couldn’t take the time to thank Jesus for healing them. I want to be like that one leper who “fell down on his face at his feet” before Jesus and gave him thanks (Luke 17). Through my study of Christian Science I’ve witnessed some incredible proofs of our Father-Mother God’s love for Her creation in my life. God has filled my life with infinite blessings and it’s time for me to acknowledge these blessings to others.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Of Alpine Hats and an Emotional Support Dog

A kind of odd and sweet thing happened last night:

I’d been sitting in the recliner by the fire – getting toasty and comfortable and kind of nostalgic – and I’d impulsively grabbed Dad’s old alpine hat from the mantel and put it on my head. And his hat is so full of HIM, you know? It’s like an extension of him, really – a part of him. And my thoughts were suddenly flooded with memories of Dad. It was weird – because I was feeling Dad with me, but not as an aged father – I was feeling him with me as a man in his prime – and as a dear friend and hiking partner – as my contemporary, rather than as my dad.

I sat there quietly crying to myself, remembering our hikes and climbs together – and our times of laughter. Mom was with us then, too – standing with Dad, and smiling. The tears gathered and spilled and I made no effort to stop them. but I didn’t make any sounds – I thought I was being unobtrusive – my son, Xander, was sitting near me in another chair by the fire, working away on his laptop on some project, and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I’d thought I’d made my own private quiet space for myself there.

But I hadn’t taken into account Sam the Wonder Dog. Suddenly Sam lifted her head from where she was curled up in another chair and brought her eyes to mine and she just stared at me – intently and unblinking – for maybe two or three minutes – it was… I’ve never seen her doing anything like that before. And then she uncurled herself from the chair and walked over to me and stared at me again – watching and alert and just BEING there, you know? I wondered if maybe the hat was confusing her, making her think Dad was in the room or something – so I reached out and petted the nobby top of her head, and her ears, and her snout and asked her if she remembered Grampa Dee – and after a bit she went back to her chair and curled up again.

Xander left the room for a while then and came back ten or 15 minutes later. And he made an observation that surprised me, but made perfect sense, too. Apparently he HAD been aware of what was going on with me. And he said, “I think Sam came up to you – not because she thought you were Grampa, but because she’d suddenly realized you were crying and she wanted to comfort you.” Sam is very sensitive to our feelings, he said.

Whoah. I looked at Sam – curled up in the chair now – and I looked at her with new eyes. I went up to her and petted the top of her head again. And thanked her.

It appears I have my own emotional support animal.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Scrapbook for a Year and a Day

Dear fellow 2020 survivors:

On January 19, 2020, my 101 year-old father (Dee Molenaar, a well-known mountaineer) died. Two days later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States – in a town 40 minutes to the south of my home. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered the next month, and George Floyd was killed a few months later. We watched as our friends went insane with QAnon conspiracies; our president ordered peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could hold a Bible in front of a church; and white supremacists marched in our streets waving Nazi banners and Confederate battle flags. Then – because 2020 wasn’t done with us, yet – murder hornets were found in the United States – this time in a place 40 minutes to the north of my home. And on January 6th our country was turned upside down and our democracy almost shaken out of its bag.

In an effort to process Dad’s passing, and the year that followed, I began combing through news stories, Facebook posts, and my own blog. I found moments that made me laugh out loud, and others that were gut-wrenching for me. I found moments that had me shaking my head – wondering what the hell had happened to my country – and other moments that inspired me and made me proud to be an American. At some point during this process, I realized I was creating a book.The book, A Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, consists of news stories, personal anecdotes, essays, poems, and observations of what we all lived through in 2020.

I divided the book up by months – starting with January 2020 and ending with January 2021. At the end of the chapter for January 2020, I brought in comments by some of my friends about the passing of my father. This is my introduction to some of the characters the readers will be seeing throughout the book. One of the characters is my life-long friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines later in the year when he cast his electoral vote for Biden-Harris after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Another character is a friend (whom I refer to as “Letitia W.”) who became deeply involved in QAnon conspiracies and ended up in D.C. on January 6th. A third friend is Paul Swortz, who the readers later see as one of the veterans protecting the BLM protesters in Portland.

I’m editing now – trying to comb out all the the little typos and misspellings and duplicate words and omitted words – my fellow writers will all be able to relate to that. But I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to here.

Looking forward to seeing what 2021 bring us!
Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here’s some photos from 2020…

I Was Really Hoping to Be Grandmother Willow

I’ve been sort of aspiring to be “Grandmother Willow” for a few years now – hoping to dispense my wisdom and years of experience to the younger generations. And today it hit me that the younger generations are dealing with a whole new world than the one I was born into – and they’re having to make up a lot of stuff from scratch to deal with this whole new world. So. Yeah. My years of experience are from a different world than theirs and I’m not sure how helpful anything I have to say will be at this point.

I guess this is all I have to offer:
Live in a way that you can feel good about yourself.
1) Be kind.
2) Be honest.
3) Be fair.
4) If you make a mistake, admit to it and learn from it. But don’t let your mistakes keep you from moving forward.
5) Forgive people their mistakes, and forgive yourself, too.
6) Don’t focus on accumulating material stuff. That’s not going to bring you joy.
7) Stand up to bullies.
8) Give yourself time alone, with your own thoughts, now and then.
9) Don’t be afraid to say “no” when saying “yes” is going to be harmful to your own spiritual growth, or to someone else’s.
10) Don’t be afraid to say “yes” when you know it will make you a better human, or make the world a better place.
Karen

(Photo of willow by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Love Knew Exactly What I Needed

Finally got back up to Bellingham for my boardwalk walk this morning. (I haven’t been up there for maybe a week – the snow and cold has kept me on the neighborhood roads for my walks.)

I was sitting in the car, getting ready for my drive, and I started looking around for a CD to listen to on the way. My eyes went to the pocket on my driver’s door and I spotted a CD there and pulled it out. It was still hermetically-sealed in its plastic – hadn’t been opened, yet – and I have no idea how or when I came upon this CD. Did I buy it? Did someone give it to me? How long ago?

The writing was too small for me to see what kind of music this was or who it was by…I was intrigued. I unwrapped it and stuck it in the CD player and this man’s voice came through the speakers, singing one of my favorite old Christian Science hymns: “He leadeth me, He leadeth me; by His own hand He leadeth me…” (Joseph H. Gilmore)

I started crying. Love knew exactly what I needed at just that moment.

Later on – when I could look more closely at the writing – I found the CD was made by a musician named Andrew James. Bless him.

Music connects us one to another, doesn’t it?

“Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love – be it song, sermon, or Science – blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.”- Mary Baker Eddy

Note to Self: This Will Pass

Notes to self:
This will pass. You’ve lived long enough to know that. Ride on top of the wave and let it take you to the other side.

Think of all the sunsets and sunrises and new friends you haven’t met, yet, still ahead of you.

Breathe in. Respiration. Inspiration. Breathe out.

Recognize what is truly you. And recognize what is absolutely not. Let go of the false you. You don’t have to waste time tending to it or fretting about it or trying to fix it. Just unwrap yourself from it and throw it in the dumpster. It’s not part of you and never was.

Recognize you can be happy even when you’re sad.

You’re not here for you. You’re here for something greater than you. As long as you can love you have a reason to be here.

Nothing can ever separate you from Love. Nothing can separate you from your joy.

Today is full of magic. Look for it. Find it. Be grateful for it.
Amen.

In a Perfect Moment

I spent years searching for those perfect moments
and then in a perfect moment it became perfectly clear
that each and every moment I am closer than near
to Love and Truth
and Life
right now
right here
every moment is perfect
There is never a separation between all that’s good
and me.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Heron at Sunset. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Soaking Up Inauguration Day

My emotional, mental, spiritual be-ing
is absorbing the hope and joy of the new day
soaking up the inspiration like a thirsty tree
in a desert that hasn’t seen rain for four years.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Oh man. Lady Gaga, and Klobuchar, JLo and Garth Brooks made me teary – and that didn’t surprise me, really. But I was really moved by Mike Pence’s presence and Mitch McConnell’s presentation of the flag to VP Harris – and… what the heck?! I never could have seen THAT coming. January sixth changed so much for our country – and not all of it was bad. In the end people I never would have expected became heroes. Whoah.

I’m feeling proud to be American again.

Celebrating You on This Inauguration Day

My dear friends –

We’re still here! We’ve lived through yesterday and made it to today and that has been no small feat.

On this Inauguration Day I celebrate you – each and every beautiful one of you! I celebrate your compassion, courage, and commitment to kindness. I celebrate your honesty, your decency, your charity. I celebrate your moral strength and integrity. I celebrate that you stand for justice; kneel for equality and fairness; and dance for the joy that no one can steal from you. You have transformed the world. You have made it a better place. You are a wonder.

A new day is dawning. Go out there and work your magic, my friends.
Karen

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

May: Sunrise over Skagit County, WA

No One Can Steal Your Joy

“No one can steal your joy from you.”
John 16:22

Went on a nice long walk in Bellingham this morning – needed the fresh air and space for my thoughts.

I reached out to Dad in my thoughts (I don’t mean that I, like, “summoned” him – Dad’s not a ghost or anything – he and Mom are always with me in the same way Love, God, is always with me). And the thought that came back to me was full of joy. I know Dad’s happy. I think I was trying to talk to Dad about all the uncertainty and grief of these times – but it came to me that the things I seem to be experiencing are no part of Dad’s experience – no part of “where” he is (and I don’t mean “where” as in a location – but as a state of mind). I felt that I was being encouraged, then, to claim my own joy, too. The words from John came to me: “Your joy no man taketh from you.”

I’m not sure I’m explaining any of this at all well, but… the gist of it is that what I’ve been learning, lately, is that whenever I feel like I have a hole in my heart – it’s instantly filled with Love. Love is constantly giving me whatever it is I need. My sense of being connected to the infinite Love of the cosmos isn’t dependent upon my parents or husband or children or friends – it’s always with me.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind…”
-Mary Baker Eddy