“Love Goes Before You” or The Great Epic Safety Deposit Box Adventure

Yesterday found us at the end of an epic four-year long journey involving bank folks, legal documents, notaries, and a lot of hoop-jumping, and culminating in a pre-dawn two and a half hour drive through snow, slush and gusting winds to keep an appointment with a safety deposit box 120 miles away.

In the end, it was really all about love.

Our epic adventure began four years ago when we were moving my parents up north to be closer to me. As I was packing up their things I came upon a weird-looking key and asked Mom what it was for. She told me that it was a key to their safety deposit box. I remember my eyebrows going up as I realized what I was holding in my hand. Mom and Dad’s wills and power of attorney forms were in that safety deposit box – that box was a big deal.  I told Mom that we needed to make sure this key went in a safe place. I asked her where she wanted me to put it. And she told me.

Of course a year later, when I needed to get into the safety deposit box, I could no longer remember where we’d ended up stashing that weird little key. Mom had just passed away and I was now responsible for my 99-year-old father. There were decisions that I was going to need to make for his care and his finances and I needed POA forms to do those things. I needed to get into his safety deposit box to get the POA forms, but to get into his safety deposit box I needed a POA form. You see the dilemma here. It was a classic Catch-22.

I managed to get another power of attorney form signed by Dad and notarized by a local notary and this met our immediate needs. But I realized that at some point I was going to need to get into the safety deposit box to get the original will and I was told by the bank that, because the new POA didn’t specifically list “safety deposit box” on it, I couldn’t use it to get into the box. So I got another POA form – signed, dated, and notarized – but there was something wrong with this one, too.

Eventually, I gave up. I figured when Dad passed on I would worry about it all then. Dad had his 100th birthday. Then his 101st birthday. And then I got a notice from the bank that it was closing and the contents of the safety deposit box would have to be claimed in three months or they would go to the state.

So, once again, I had Dad sign a POA form – specifically listing “safety deposit boxes”  – had it notarized by a dear woman who was willing to travel to Dad’s home so I didn’t have to load him into a car, and submitted this new form to the bank. And this time it was approved!

There were still more hoops to jump through, of course – because – you know – banks.  Because we no longer had the key to the box, getting into it would be a HUGE deal. I would have to bring two witnesses with me to the bank and schedule a specific time to meet bank officers and a technician so that the box could be drilled and I could (finally!) retrieve the contents.

The safety deposit box was 120 miles away. It was January – snow was forecast. Who in the world could I ask to travel that great distance for me on snowy roads?! The first name came to mind immediately – our old family friend, Rick. He lives near Mount Rainier and would have to travel through snow and over winding roads and then through rush hour Tacoma traffic to get to the bank – but I knew Rick would do this for me and Dad. Just two weeks younger than me, Rick and I have often joked about being “twins.” I consider him a part of our family. I wanted him to be part of this. And – just as I knew he would – Rick, without a moment’s hesitation, quickly agreed.

But we needed another witness. My husband would be driving me down to the bank, but I didn’t trust that he would be allowed to be a witness – and we were traveling too far to make any mistakes with this. So I prayed.

I woke up at two in the morning the day before we were scheduled to have the safety deposit box drilled, and went downstairs to think some more about the problem of another witness. As I opened my thoughts up to the cosmos – opened my thoughts up to the infinite possibilities and provision of Good – two names came to me: Sabra and Dave. To be honest – when I thought of how busy this couple was and how much I would be asking of them – I argued with the voice that had suggested them to me. No. No, I wasn’t going to ask these good people to interrupt their lives, drive hours through snow, wind, and the pre-dawn dark to meet me at the bank. No. Nope. Nosiree, Bud. But their names came to me again: Sabra and Dave. My husband, Scott, and I had known Dave and Sabra for more than thirty years. I’d been witness to the birth of their first child and we shared many special memories of times together. Like Rick, I consider them family. So I finally listened to the voice and sent Sabra an email, explaining the situation, telling her I didn’t really expect they’d be able to do this for me, but that I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask and yada yada, and went back to bed.

At 8:00 in the morning a confused Scott came up to the bedroom – where I was just waking up – and told me “Dave said they can come tomorrow.” I hadn’t told Scott what I’d been up to during the night – when he’d gone to bed one thing was happening and when he woke up the next morning something else was happening. But, after 35 years of marriage to me, Scott has learned to adjust quickly to changing circumstances. When I explained that I’d emailed our friends in the middle of the night to ask them to join us, Scott immediately accepted the latest development and went back downstairs to finish his breakfast.

I made calls to Dave and Sabra to fine tune the logistic of our enterprise – telling them I actually needed their prayerful support as much as I needed a witness for the bank – and they understood. Just talking to them on the phone was a huge help to me. I shared with them that one of my fears was that my father might die before we could get his will out of the box, and then my power of attorney wouldn’t help me at all in taking care of his affairs for him. Sabra assured me that “Love alone is life” – and I found this thought hugely helpful.


When we left our home for the bank it was snowing. The roads were slick and the falling snow was thick in the headlights. It was going to be a long drive. But I felt strangely buoyed up with peace and joy. I felt enclosed in a happy bubble. Today – after three years of hoop-jumping – I was finally going to get into Mom and Dad’s safety deposit box. It felt like I was going to be getting into a time capsule – a relic from a time when Mom was still walking the planet and Dad was still yodeling in the mountains. I was going to see one of the last things they’d created together and one of the last things of theirs I hadn’t yet seen. I could feel Mom with us, rooting us on. “Love goes before you,” I heard her say, as we drove through the snow.

As we drove south the snow turned to rain. I dozed off for a bit and woke up to find we were almost to the bank! The epic years-long journey was almost over!

Everyone arrived on time and there were hugs all around. It was so good to see my friends again! Sabra and I joked with each other that – although we live about 45 minutes from each other – we had to drive all the way to the Kitsap Peninsula to finally see each other again.

It was a loud, laughing, merry band that entered the bank at precisely 9:00. I’m pretty sure we weren’t exhibiting the proper bank decorum. But the bankers were very patient with us. The bank manager who helped us through this experience was named Scott, like my husband. (In fact, both my husband and the bank chap are actually “R. Scott” – which I thought was a pretty cool coincidence.) Bank Scott pulled up chairs around his desk and walked the witnesses and myself through the forms we had to sign. Once the paperwork was done Husband Scott joined Bank Scott and myself in the vault and watched the bolt man work his magic on Mom and Dad’s safety deposit box. The lock on the box was a little stubborn, but eventually the bolt man was able to crack it open and pull out the box. This was the moment the frustrations and hoop-jumping of the last several years had been leading us to. I felt like I was Indiana Jones about to open some long hidden treasure. I knew there were probably only going to be a will and POA forms in there – but, for me, being able to hold those documents in my hand – being able to connect with my parents again in this way – felt like magic.

I took the box over to a shelf where I could open it and peeked inside. There was the will! At last! And there was Mom’s signature and Dad’s! I found myself tearing up as I saw their handwriting – feeling close to the presence of them. Dad had also stuck a surprise in there for us – some floppy discs of his climbing diaries – including the diaries he kept on the K2 Expedition. It was very cool to find them in there. I hadn’t been expecting that.

Finally holding the original will in my hand, I felt a huge burden lift from me. I had everything I needed, physically, to take care of Dad’s affairs for him now.


Rick left the bank to drive directly to Dad’s home – another couple hours for him – he would have a five-hour drive home after he visited with Dad. And Sabra, Dave, Scott and I went to lunch at the Tides Tavern – one of Mom and Dad’s old haunts. Tim was our waiter. I asked him how long he’d been there and he said eight years. I asked him if he maybe knew my mom and dad – I started to describe them – and I saw the light go on in his eyes, “Your dad is a climber, right?! Yes! I remember them!” I let Tim know that Dad is still alive and 101 now. And I let Tim know that I was glad he remembered my parents – it was important to me that he did.

Sabra, Dave, Scott and I had a wonderful lunch together, celebrating our friendship.

When it was time to leave we all headed for the ferry that would take us from Kingston to Edmonds. We were going to have one final quick ferry ride together before we parted ways. The waves were high and the winds were gusting – at one point the captain came on the intercom to tell anybody with coffee to hold onto his cup – we were in for an unusually bumpy ride. But for Sabra and Dave, Scott and I, the bumps seemed like nothing, really – what were a few bumps on this epic journey?!

As the ferry was docking, Sabra and I hugged and held onto each other in fast friendship – in that tender moment of parting that anyone who has dear friends will understand.

And I realized this was how it was all SUPPOSED to be – the journey begun all those years ago had introduced me to new friends – Laura and Sarah and Scott from the bank; the nice notary ladies from La Conner and Dawn, the notary who’d driven to Dad’s home to help us; and Tim, the waiter at Tides Tavern – and it reconnected us with dear old friends, too – Rick and Sabra and Dave.

In the end, it really was all about love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell




Karen’s Sermon for the Day

Dear fellow Christians –

If you believe it is your job to bring about an Apocalypse and that “true patriots” are white supremacists – I believe you are sorely misguided. I also believe you must be reading a different New Testament than the one I’m reading. Here’s what I see in mine –

“Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them who despitefully use you and persecute you. Turn the other cheek. Feed the hungry. Help the oppressed. Pay your taxes – render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and unto God what belongs to God – God doesn’t need your money. In the same vein – it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle – you can’t serve both God AND mammon. If you dwell in love, you dwell in God. If you don’t love, you don’t know God because God IS love. Blessed are the peacemakers. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Forgive. And forgive again. And keep forgiving. Heal.”

“The kingdom of God is WITHIN you.” We don’t have to blow the world up to smithereens to experience heaven. We can experience heaven right now by living in Love.

Okay. I guess this concludes my sermon for the day.

Amen and stuff.
Karen Molenaar Terrell

Waiting for the Christmas Spirit


Waiting for the Christmas Spirit

The kitsch and spangles
and baubles and bangles,
And department store Santa,
just really can’ta
Seem to bring me
the spirit of Christmas.

And I’ve been waiting to feel it –
the real Christmas spirit
Hoping it’d come by now.
The stockings are stuffed,
the tree is all buffed,
The cookies are baked
and frosted and fluffed
But there’s still something missing –
a feeling, a tingling
that’s supposed to come every Christmas.

Maybe that Christmas feeling,
that energy and tingling
Is something I can have every day –
It doesn’t depend on spangles,
or jingly-bell jangles
Or jolly men dressed all in red.
It comes in the sharing
of laughter and caring
And the comfort in words with love said:
To all – Peace! Joy! Hope!
Every moment of every day.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

via Waiting for the Christmas Spirit 

Christmas doodle 3

The Christmas Dog


It is time, once again, for the telling of “The Christmas Dog” –

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.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from *Blessings: Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist*

via The Christmas Dog

T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas


T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas

T’was two weeks afore Christmas and all through Eff Bee
not a creature was stirring – not a she, he, or me
We were prostrate and spent from the holiday bustle
not a twitch could be seen from the teeniest muscle.

We lay all unblinking in our respective beds
while visions of gift-wrapping swirled through our heads
And clad in our jammies and our way cool madcaps
we had the vague hopeful hope our bodies would take naps.

Holiday jangles and jingles pinged through our brains –
Presley, Crosby, and Mathis taking us down memory lanes –
and would we remember every member to be gifted?
We mentally went through our lists, hoping none were omitted

There were homes to be decorated and cards to be sent
parties, caroling, and cookie-making, and we hadn’t made a dent.
But with a collective sigh we remembered there and then
that it’s really about good will to all creatures, women, and men.

And so our thoughts finally settled and our bodies relaxed
as we thought of those we love and a world festooned in pax.
With our hearts wrapped in kindness and the world as our ‘hood
We’re all brethren and sistren – and verily, It’s all good!
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

via T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas 

christmas tree 2015

Christmas Lights

God Doesn’t Need Evil to Accomplish Good

To my fellow Christians –

If you are under the belief that God needs lies, dishonesty, and concealing the truth to accomplish His will then I believe you sorely underestimate God. If you believe that God allows corruption, hypocrisy, misogyny, racism, greed, bigotry, bullying, mocking the handicapped, inequity, injustice, greed, bribery, and extortion in order to bring “salvation” to our nation – then I believe you are missing, entirely, the whole point, the fundamental message of the Christ – “love your neighbor” – “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” – “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” – “behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The God I worship doesn’t need the help of evil to accomplish Her will.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“…on earth peace, good will toward all.”