The Christmas Dog

“This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind – nor life result in death.”
– From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy

***

Christmas Eve, 1988.  I was in a funk.  I couldn’t see that I was making much progress in my life.  My teaching career seemed to be frozen, and I was beginning to think my husband and I would never own our own home or have children. The world seemed a very bleak and unhappy place to me.  No matter how many batches of fudge I whipped up or how many times I heard Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” I couldn’t seem to find the Christmas spirit.

I was washing the breakfast dishes, thinking my unhappy thoughts, when I heard gunshots coming from the pasture behind our house.  I thought it was the neighbor boys shooting at the seagulls again and, all full of teacherly harrumph, decided to take it upon myself to go out and “have a word with them.”

But after I’d marched outside I realized that it wasn’t the neighbor boys at all.  John, the dairy farmer who lived on the adjoining property, was walking away with a rifle, and an animal (a calf, I thought) was struggling to get up in the field behind our house.  Every time it would push up on its legs it would immediately collapse back to the ground.

I wondered if maybe John had made a mistake and accidentally shot the animal, so I ran out to investigate and found that the animal was a dog.  It had foam and blood around its muzzle.  She was vulnerable and helpless – had just been shot, after all – but instead of lashing out at me or growling as I’d expect an injured animal to do, she was looking up at me with an expression of trust and seemed to be expecting me to take care of her.

“John!”  I yelled, running after the farmer.  He turned around, surprised to see me.  “John, what happened?” I asked, pointing back towards the dog.

A look of remorse came into his eyes.  “Oh, I’m sorry you saw that, Karen. The dog is a stray and it’s been chasing my cows.  I had to kill it.”

“But John, it’s not dead yet.”

John looked back at the dog and grimaced.  “Oh man,” he said.  “I’m really sorry. I’ll go finish the job.  Put it out of its misery.”

By this time another dog had joined the dog that had been shot.  It was running around its friend, barking encouragement, trying to get its buddy to rise up and escape.  The sight of the one dog trying to help his comrade broke my heart.  I made a quick decision. “Let me and my husband take care of it.”

“Are you sure?”

I nodded and he agreed to let me do what I could for the animal.

Unbeknownst to me, as soon as I ran out of the house my husband, knowing that something was wrong, had gotten out his binoculars and was watching my progress in the field.  He saw the look on my face as I ran back.  By the time I reached our house he was ready to do whatever he needed to do to help me.  I explained the situation to him, we put together a box full of towels, and he called the vet.

As we drove his truck around to where the dog lay in the field, I noticed that, while the dog’s canine companion had finally left the scene (never to be seen again), John had gone to the dog and was kneeling down next to her.  He was petting her, using soothing words to comfort her, and the dog was looking up at John with that look of trust she’d given me.  John helped my husband load her in the back of the truck and we began our drive to the vet’s.

I rode in the back of the truck with the dog as my husband drove, and sang hymns to her.  As I sang words from one of my favorite hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal – “Everlasting arms of Love are beneathe, around, above” – the dog leaned against my shoulder and looked up at me with an expression of pure love in her blue eyes.

Once we reached the animal clinic, the veterinarian came out to take a look at her.  After checking her over he told us that apparently a bullet had gone through her head, that he’d take care of her over the holiday weekend – keep her warm and hydrated – but that he wasn’t going to give her any medical treatment.  I got the distinct impression that he didn’t think the dog was going to make it.

My husband and I went to my parents’ home for the Christmas weekend, both of us praying that the dog would still be alive when we returned.  For me, praying for her really meant trying to see the dog as God sees her.  I tried to realize the wholeness and completeness of her as an expression of God, an idea of God.  I reasoned that all the dog could experience was the goodness of God – all she could feel is what Love feels, all she could know is what Truth knows, all she could be is the perfect reflection of God.  I tried to recognize the reality of these things for me, too, and for all of God’s creation.

She made it through the weekend, but when we went to pick her up the vet told us that she wasn’t “out of the woods, yet.”    He told us that if she couldn’t eat, drink, or walk on her own in the next few days, we’d need to bring her back and he’d need to put her to sleep.

We brought her home and put her in a big box in our living room, with a bowl of water and soft dog food by her side.  I continued to pray.  In the middle of the night I got up and went out to where she lay in her box.  Impulsively, I bent down and scooped some water from the dish into her mouth.  She swallowed it, and then leaned over and drank a little from the bowl.  I was elated!  Inspired by her reaction to the water, I bent over and grabbed a glob of dog food and threw a little onto her tongue.  She smacked her mouth together, swallowed the food, and leaned over to eat a bit more.  Now I was beyond elated!  She’d accomplished two of the three requirements the vet had made for her!

The next day I took her out for a walk.  She’d take a few steps and then lean against me.  Then she’d take a few more steps and lean.  But she was walking!  We would not be taking her back to the veterinarian.

In the next two weeks her progress was amazing.  By the end of that period she was not only walking, but running and jumping and chasing balls.  Her appetite was healthy.  She was having no problems drinking or eating.

But one of the most amazing parts of this whole Christmas blessing was the relationship that developed between this dog and the man who had shot her.  They became good friends.  The dog, in fact, became the neighborhood mascot.  (And she never again chased anyone’s cows.)

What the dog brought to me, who had, if you recall, been in a deep funk when she entered our lives, was a sense of the true spirit of Christmas – the Christly spirit of forgiveness, hope, faith, love.  She brought me the recognition that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible to God.

We named our new dog Christmas because that is what she brought us that year.

Within a few years all those things that I had wondered if I would ever have as part of my life came to me – a teaching job, children, and a home of our own.  It is my belief that our Christmas Dog prepared my heart to be ready for all of those things to enter my life.

– excerpt from Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist by Karen Molenaar Terrell
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Bounteous Books to Be Had

Books! Books! Bounteous books!
Bounteous books to be had!
Books by Xander, books by friends,
books by me, books by Dad!
Books about climbs
books full of prose
books full of poems –
you want some of those? 🙂

For those of you wondering what to buy your family and friends for Christmas this year, might I offer these suggestions?

My friend, Constance Mears, published a wonderful book this year called The Bumbling Mystic’s Obituary. Here’s my review for it:
I laughed out loud, I cried – *The Bumbling Mystic* touched my heart and filled my soul. Mears has a way with words – she’s poetic and funny – but more important than her skill as a writer is the way she uses the tools of her craft to help the reader look at life with a new perspective and see the possibilities in front of each of us.

She writes “Clearly I was missing the point in my choice of occupation: I liked the military, except for the killing; I liked missionary work, except for proselytizing; I liked homemaking, except for being married. I wanted to be a martyr, without the gruesome end.” And as she finds her purpose in life, she comes to realize that the “Universe was not only aware of my plan, but was enthusiastically playing along.”

Connie Mears’s book is a joy to read. I would recommend it to anyone in need of inspiration. And who isn’t, right?

Xander Terrell’s book of poems, Dream Voyage, can be purchased through Amazon. Songbird writes: “If only fear could fuel a rocket” – wonderful philosophizing and musings from a young poet. Both my kids and I enjoyed this collection.”

Here’s one of the poems from Xander’s book –

Where Happiness Lives

Golden lights
and the deepest shadows.
Smiling faces illuminated by life.
A commodity where I come from.
An inherent condition here.
Where joy runs rampant,
like that one naked man who,
in the presence of a police officer,
streaked across the town in the wake
of the city-wide party,
the officer laughing in mutual enjoyment
before calling the man by his first name,
as a friend and a neighbor,
to get his shit together.
– Xander Terrell

xanders-book-cover-dream-voyage

Dad (Dee Molenaar) has several books on the market Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer, his award-winning The Challenge of Rainier, and Mountains Don’t Care, But We Do.

BookCoverPreview - Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

And I added another book to the market with Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad. (Are You Taking Me Home Now? has eight reviews now – all five stars! And may I offer my sincere appreciation to anyone who takes the time to write a review – it means an awfully lot to an author to know her book has ventured forth and made contact with another human being.) Are You Taking Me Home Now? is about my adventures with Dad in the year and a half since Mom died. I wrote another book, Finding the Rainbows, that chronicles my adventures with both Mom and Dad during the year after they’d moved from the family homestead to a retirement home near me.

adventures with dad book cover

Latest book!

I also have two books of poetry on the market: The Brush of Angel Wingsand A Poem Lives on My Windowsill. Here’s one of the poems from The Brush of Angel Wings:

Two Earthworms

I came upon two earthworms on the sidewalk today –
their noses suspended in the air, frozen by the heat
of the sun – dried out and stiff
and I reached down and plucked up the first
and carried him to the dirt.
I dug a little hole for him and covered him
with earth – a grave to bring him back to life.
Gently I used my fingers as tweezers and pulled
the second worm from the sidewalk
and lifted him to the moist soil, laid him down,
and covered him with a wet leaf.
Fare thee well, my new friends –
May you revive and spend the rest of your days
happily leaving a trail of rich earth in your wake

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The four books in the “Madcap Christian Scientist” series can be found on Amazon or purchased through your favorite book store.  The first book in the series is Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist; The second book is The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Middle Book; Book number three is The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New; and the final book in the series is The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book.

book covers 2016

Whew! Okay. I think that’s it. For now. 🙂

Happy gift-shopping!

– Karen

 

Ode to Black Friday

Ode to Black Friday

I do not like Black Friday, sir
I do not like the brrr, grrr, whirrr
I do not like to fight over socks,
I do not like to get crammed in a box
store, you will not see me at the Mall
I do not like it, no, not at all.
The crazy, scrambling, hunter’s race
doesn’t fit my ambling, gatherer’s pace
I like to feel, I like to sniff
I like to take my time and if
I take more time than Sally and Sam
it’s the way I shop, and it works for me, ma’am.
So you will not find me camped outside the store
You will not find me standing at dawn at the door
You will not find me wedged in the mall’s lot
or crammed in traffic, with wares newly-bought.
For I do not like Black Friday, friend.
Well, except online shopping maybe – they’ll send.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

And now some shameless family plugs – because we wouldn’t be entering the holiday season without some shameless plugs, right?
To order any of Karen’s books, click here.

adventures with dad book cover

Latest book!

To order Dee Molenaar’s books click here.
BookCoverPreview - Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

To order Xander Terrell’s books, click here.

xanders-book-cover-dream-voyage

 

 

“I Really Enjoy These Surprise Drives!”

Dad is falling asleep in front of his breakfast when I arrive. I ask him if he’d like to go for a drive and he nods his head yes. Megan gets his shoes on his feet and helps him into his coat. I pluck his mountain hat off the lamp in his room and put it on his head. As we’re working our way down the stairs, Dad turns to me and says, “I really enjoy these surprise drives!” We head out the door and to the car. Megan calls after us, “You two crazy kids have fun!”

Dad: Well, what should we talk about today?
Karen: What do you want to talk about? (Thinking.) Have you seen any good movies?
Dad: Yes, I’ve gone to a lot of movies lately.
Karen: What’s your favorite movie?
Dad: Naughty Marietta. Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. What’s your favorite movie?
Karen: Wow! That’s a hard one…
Dad: Have you ever seen Naughty Marietta?
Karen: I think I’ve seen some of it…

I pull into the Sisters Espresso, and Dad lets me know he’d like a root beer float. I use the Sisters Espresso gift card our friend, Cindy, left for me to use when I take Dad on drives. When I bring back Dad’s root beer float I show him the card and tell him that Cindy bought him his drink today.
Dad: Tell Cindy I really liked the root beer float.
Karen: I will!

I turn onto Allen West Road…
Dad: We haven’t been on this road for a while. (He’s right.) That hill would be considered a mountain in Holland. (He’s right again.)

As I’m driving down Allen West I decided I’ll take Dad to the little Bayview Airport – the airport is surrounded by forest, and I think the color might be pretty there right now. When I turn down the road that will take us to the airport…
Dad: We’re going to the airport now. Didn’t we go on a flight there once?
(Now I have no idea if Dad has been on a flight from Bayview Airport – I would not be surprised – but I am impressed that he would remember he is near an airport that he visited with me once a year ago.)

We pull up next to the flight museum and Dad and I look at some of the old planes that are sitting out next to the museum. I point out the trail that goes by the museum and mention that this is where my sons used to run x-country when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding.) I remember. I remember waiting for the boys right there at the curve in the road. Do they still run here?
Karen: No, that was when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding) Oh. Yeah.

As we head back down the airport road I spot an eagle flying around above me. It lands on a fir tree and I pull over to take some photos. Dad is watching the eagle, too, and I find myself really grateful that he got to the ophthalmologist in time and still has one good eye and can see things like eagles sitting in trees. A little further down the road and a young buck crosses in front of us. I get out my camera to take a quick picture.
Dad: Does your camera have a zoom?
Karen: Yup!
(Dad nods.)

When we pull up in front of his home, he unsnaps his seat belt and gets ready to get out. I note that he doesn’t ask me this time if this is a drop-off place, or if he’s going to go home from here, or who these people are, or what he’s doing here. I’m grateful for this. He seems to know where he is.

Megan and I help him up the stairs and he heads for the living room, saying something to Megan about a football game. Megan starts laughing, and says the TV is already turned to it. He settles happily into his chair.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen. Drive carefully.

If you enjoyed this father-daughter adventure, you might want to check out Karen’s book, Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dada collection of stories just like this one.

adventures with dad book cover

Latest book!

Black Friday and Shameless Plug Day

Ode to Black Friday

I do not like Black Friday, sir
I do not like the brrr, grrr, whirrr
I do not like to fight over socks,
I do not like to get crammed in a box
store, you will not see me at the Mall
I do not like it, no, not at all.
The crazy, scrambling, hunter’s race
doesn’t fit my ambling, gatherer’s pace
I like to feel, I like to sniff
I like to take my time and if
I take more time than Sally and Sam
it’s the way I shop, and it works for me, ma’am.
So you will not find me camped outside the store
You will not find me standing at dawn at the door
You will not find me wedged in the mall’s lot
or crammed in traffic, with wares newly-bought.
For I do not like Black Friday, friend.
Well, except online shopping maybe – they’ll send.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell (from A Poem Lives on My Windowsill)

Today is Karen’s shameless plug day. Yeah. I know. Stop cheering.

So here’s what we’ve got to plug right now (and all of these books can be found on Amazon, as well as ordered through other book stores like Barnes and Noble, etc.) –

Some of you may be familiar with my “Madcap Christian Scientist” series.

The first book in the Madcap series (published in August 2005) was Blessings: Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist. As I explain in the Introduction, I wrote this book “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.”

I wrote the second book in the series, The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Middle Book, as I was nearing the end of an experience with a massive depression. As I write in the Introduction: “My son and I recently talked about my previous book, Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist. I told him that book was true for the person I was then, and I’m glad I wrote it, but I couldn’t write the same book now. Andrew told me I should write another book then, for this time in my life. I told him that my recent life experience has been kind of dark. He said I should write about that then, and he started talking about trilogies – how almost every life story has three parts – the first book is usually happy and innocent, the second one is dark and challenging, and the last book is the triumph book. Andrew said it was time for me to write ‘the middle book.’ He assures me the book about the golden years will come, but he says that book can’t come until the middle book gets written. So what you see here is me sucking it up and writing The Middle Book.”

I wrote The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New, the third book in the series, to celebrate the re-birth I found on the other side of the depression.  I wrote: “Two years ago I would never have been able to guess where I’d be today, what I’d be doing, and what new people I would be calling my friends and colleagues. Two years ago my youngest son was close to graduating from high school, my 20-year career as a public school teacher was winding down, and I was looking for a new job and a new purpose to fill my days. Two years ago I was starting over. It was scary. It was exhilarating. It was absolutely awesome!”

There’s a fourth book with “Madcap Christian Scientist” in the title, and that’s The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book, which is about… well… Christmas.

I’ve also published two books of poetry, A Poem Lives on My Windowsill (where you can find the poem featured on the top of this post), and The Brush of Angel Wings – published as I was working my way through the passing of my mother.  There’s also a book I wrote about the lessons I learned from Mom and Dad in the year before Dad’s 98th birthday, Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom.

Dad’s autobiography, Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer, is on the market, too. Dad has had an amazing life – he’s climbed some of the highest mountains in the world, traveled on six of the seven continents, and hobnobbed with some of the planet’s most interesting humans.

BookCoverPreview - Memoirs of a Dinosaur Mountaineer

And my son, Xander, also has a book for sale right now, Dream Voyage – which sells for $5.99 as an Amazon print book, and 99 cents on Kindle. I believe I shall close this shameless plug with one of Xander’s poems:

Where Happiness Lives

Golden lights
and the deepest shadows.
Smiling faces illuminated by life.
A commodity where I come from.
An inherent condition here.
Where joy runs rampant
like that one naked man who,
in the presence of a police officer,
streaked across the town in the wake
of the city-wide party,
the officer laughing in mutual enjoyment
before calling the man by his first name,
as a friend and a neighbor,
to get his shit together.
– Xander Terrell, Dream Voyage

xanders-book-cover-dream-voyage

First Review for Brush of Angel Wings

I got my first review for The Brush of Angel Wingsand it totally made my day:

“The author of The Brush of Angel Wings never fails to disappoint me. The poetry in her latest book causes a wide range of emotions in the reader, from joy to sadness, happiness to grief, humor to acceptance. Every poem is unique, yet the author’s distinct style can be found in each one. I enjoyed seeing glimpses of the author’s life through her poetry. I can’t wait for her next book to be released. -MM”

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