Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunshine and Shadow


Sunshine and Shadow

     Are you new here? Welcome. Feel free to click about. An array of articles awaits you. I hope you glean something helpful from them. Today, rather than an article, I share a piece of my present life. For my long-standing readers I offer an apology for not reporting the results of my medical treatment sooner. Thank you most sincerely for your prayers and kind notes. Perhaps the reason for my delay is that I have resisted coming face to face with the truth in print. The extended weeks of treatments for neuropathy and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome were unsuccessful.


     Some of you know that I started this blog in 2010 partly as a diversion from chronic pain. It’s been a pleasure to connect with people. Since writing the story, Lessons at Blackberry Inn, writing articles has enabled me to minister with an outward focus. This blog is a place where I can be hospitable with ideas. I hope I have made it a pleasant and ponderous place for you to visit. 

     I’ve been away from blogging for a bit. First, Sonja Schafer honored me by interviewing me on her insightful blog. Then, I spent the week at my eldest daughter’s house. Sophia’s family lives two hours from us. The photos are mostly from her camera. I was given the room over the garage. The futon was perfectly comfortable with the thick mattress topper Dean insisted I bring along.

   



       At 5:30 a.m. the sun was rising. Oh, the birds. Their notes revealed their numbers although they were invisible. Such carefree carols made my heart sing along. This was my unquiet quiet time before the two little boys were up and about feeding their pets. Each morning I would sit perched on the edge of the futon with a pen and spiral notebook open, reading and jotting down thoughts in the morning light. I intentionally left my laptop (and all electronics) at home. The view out my window was surreal: acres of Christmas trees. 

  


 
     The change of scenery was appreciated. But I came primarily to play with my grandsons. On one of the rainy days, for it was a rainy week, the 3 year-old was a cowboy. He wildly rode his stick horse chasing his brother from room to room. This same little boy had had stitches in his forehead twice the week prior. What enormous energy little boys have when they play together. I put myself to bed ten minutes after reading their bedtime stories.








     I was seeing the house for the first time. As a sort of hand-me-down, house warming gift, I passed along my (wool fabric) braided rug. Sophia says it adds warmth to the fireplace room. On another rainy day the 6-year-old set up a long wooden railroad track on the rug. When the sun managed to poke through the cracks in the clouds I watched him in the sandbox and on the tree house slide in the back yard. Sand is one of the best of toys.


     My daughter has fond memories of her storybooks. She finds pictures on-line, prints them out, and places them in frames. It is a frugal way to decorate, she says. This one, by Eliose Wilkin, stood beside me near the futon. 







     For the wall above her computer Sophia printed out botanical flowers she searched for on-line. Using dime store frames, she gave each a thin coat of paint, then scrubbed to reveal a bit of wood grain.


     Above the pie safe, that stores home school materials, is a broken clock. It was stitched by her mother-in-law who passed away during the school year. It doesn’t matter that the hands of the clock are missing and that it cannot keep time. It was made by someone special whom Sophia loved and misses and that is what matters most to her. This is how I can tell she values it. See how the dainty live basil trees accent the clock on either side? (Click any image to enlarge.)


     Sometimes sorrowful or scary circumstances surround us - or just plain exhausting ones. For the struggling Christian it may seem that joy is at the bottom of a well. It is never obtrusive, but there it waits, cool and clear, promising to refresh. We have to practice our faith, to send down the bucket on a reliable rope of faith . . . and draw up joy hand-over-hand. As I sat alone in the guest room with my supplications, staring out over the acres of Christmas trees, I tried not to be overly sorrowful about the life of limitations my son has to accept as a newly handicapped person, just on the brink of his career. I tried to be patient about my husband’s job hunting, and not anxious that my pain has been steadily increasing in spite of invasive medical treatments and all my veggie juicing.
     There are myriads of things out of our control. Circumstances were out of the apostle Paul’s control. He was knocked down and near death, but always got back up. I think he was lifted up. He learned through his trouble that a joyful heart is “anxious for nothing” and urges us to do likewise. I have a Heavenly Father who is in control. And how wonderful (what manner of love is this?) to be called one of His children.
 (1 John 3:1, 2)


     A far-away friend admonished me by letter when I reported our woes. “Karen, count your blessings like you count the stitches in your beautiful samplers,” she wrote. I was touched by her words put in the imperative, because they were not shared indelicately. (Phil 4:8)

     Speaking of samplers, I finished the one I had designed for Sophia and presented it to her. Do you remember she requested a house sampler months back? To make the top half I followed a chart of a girlhood sampler of the 19th century. Then I fit together spots from several samplers for the bottom half. “E” is the family initial. The trees are the Christmas trees adjoining their property. The sprig of blueberries is reminiscent of Maine.

     The single strawberry is just-because she loves strawberries, which ripen during the month of her birthday.


    At last, I chose the word “Joy” in teeny tiny one-over-one stitches. It is such a little word but its deep gratitude makes a “cup runneth over.”


     Sophia is the only female in her household and I in mine, so we treated ourselves with girl-talk. Later, on the front porch, when the sun was lowering in the sky, the breeze blew through the silver wind chimes. I commented on how clear and pretty the chimes sounded. “That’s because this one,” she pointed out, “chimes the first notes of Amazing Grace.”
     “Really?” I said brightly then listened some more. The beautiful chimes created a lull in our conversation, which few things can do once girl-talk gets on a roll.


Thank you for your visit,
Karen Andreola




More News
     Here is a link for Sonja Schafer’s blog interview. At the end of the interview you will see that Simply Charlotte Mason decided to sell all my books. Neat. Perhaps there is a description of one that sounds like it would uplift your life. If so, I hope you will consider purchasing it on their website. If you like your visits here you will feel very at home on the pages of my books.

     During my week away I used my daughter’s computer to read my emails one evening. What a surprise. The mice at Linnie’s Butt’ry and Book’ry chose my name for the prize of a handsome gardening book. Fun.      

17 comments:

  1. Hello, Karen. Oh how I appreciate your drawing from the well of joy with a reliable rope of faith image! This has felt like a "year to be thwarted" in our family. My husband and I were talking just this morning about the joys and mitigating circumstances that have been provided for us in the midst of these rather difficult months.

    I'm so glad you were able to spend a week playing with your grandchildren. I'm sorry to hear about two trips for stitches. My own accident prone son's first full sentence was, "Momma, get the ice." We have chuckled about that for years.

    My daughter is marrying this summer! My head is full of dreams for her and her fiancé. I wonder what her home will look like. I pray for wise building on her part. I like Sophia's fireplace room. Her prints are interesting and lovely. It is exciting to watch our children create homes, isn't it?

    Karen, I am sorry for what seems to be a thwarted hope for pain relief for you and Nigel. May the Lord God continue to fill you with joy.

    love,
    Susan

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  2. I am so sorry that you did not receive the results that you were hoping and praying for. Just remember, God is in control and loves you dearly...put your faith and trust in Him.
    How wonderful that you were able to spend some time with your grandsons. My oldest daughter will be giving birth to our first grandchild in a few weeks...a girl! We are so excited for this blessing from God!
    I enjoyed reading your interview. One of my favorite books!

    Blessings,
    Nadine

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  3. I just wanted to tell you what a blessing this post is to me. It has been a tremendous encouragement. My family has experienced so similar circumstances and God has been so good and so sweet to us through it all. It is just always good for the soul to know that others are pressing on as well. Praying God's blessing on you and your family.

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  4. God bless you, Karen as well as your dear family. As a reader of your books since we first began homeschooling, I have felt like a member of your family. We are grateful that you are keeping us posted on how you are doing.

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  5. " Sometimes sorrowful or scary circumstances surround us - or just plain exhausting ones. For the struggling Christian it may seem that joy is at the bottom of a well. It is never obtrusive, but there it waits, cool and clear, promising to refresh. We have to practice our faith, to send down the bucket on a reliable rope of faith . . . and draw up joy hand-over-hand. As I sat alone in the guest room with my supplications, staring out over the acres of Christmas trees, I tried not to be overly sorrowful about the life of limitations my son has to accept as a newly handicapped person, just on the brink of his career. I tried to be patient about my husband’s job hunting, and not anxious that my pain has been steadily increasing in spite of invasive medical treatments and all my veggie juicing.
    There are myriads of things out of our control. Circumstances were out of the apostle Paul’s control. He was knocked down and near death, but always got back up. I think he was lifted up. He learned through his trouble that a joyful heart is “anxious for nothing” and urges us to do likewise. I have a Heavenly Father who is in control. And how wonderful (what manner of love is this?) to be called one of His children.
    (1 John 3:1, 2)"

    I really love this section, Karen. Beautiful thoughts and I heartily agree. I love all your memories and photos of your stay with you daughter.

    LOVELY sampler!!!

    Adding you, your husband's job search, and your son to my prayer list...

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  6. Hi Karen,
    Sorry to hear that you haven't begun to get better.Keep digging for Gods joy each morning.His joy gives us
    strength.Praying that this season of your life will be short and that your and your families circumstances will change for the better.Thank-you for writing through your pain.Your blog (and books) have been a blessing to me and many others.
    Kathy

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  7. I am so sorry about all the trials you and your family are enduring right now. God does have a plan for you and loves you and will never leave you. I know sometimes though, it feels like He's not listening or taking too long. My youngest daughter died at 17 months and we are coming up on what would have been her 4th birthday - on July 4. I reflected on this yesterday and thought that as painful as it as been, it is amazing the beauty God has brought from the ashes. He truly makes "all things beautiful in his time." And that is for ALL of us. Stay faithful to Him as he does to you. I am continuing to pray for you and your family.
    On another note, I wanted tell you how delightful it has been to slowly read through and savor your Parents Review. I am so glad I bought the whole set. :)

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  8. "At the hand of Providence" is an old-fashion expression that is mentioned matter-of-factly in old books. Though rarely heard today, it is a truth still enjoyed by Christians.

    A favorite hymn of mine - one I once had memorized and need to revive, is "What a Friend we Have in Jesus." The fist line couples this with "all our sins and griefs to bear." (words by Joseph Scriven, music by Charles Converse)

    Life is indeed sunshine and shadow.

    I'm always happy to hear of couples committing to marriage - especially when I've known them as children. And then it seems, out of the blue, the stork visits and these children are having babes of their own.

    I feel for those who have lost a little one. Do we ever completely stop missing those we've loved? In heaven there will be no more goodbyes.

    Thank you for keeping in touch,
    Karen A.




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  9. My on again off again back spasms are on again. Sleep was hard to come by last night so my temporary (I trust!) visit with pain helps to give you an empathetic prayer as I can feel it on the very slightest level compared to one whose pain is chronic.

    I mentioned you in my last I Take Joy article (a little over a week ago I think, time tends to go fast). Both your charming fiction books and your homeschooling books. Among my favorites.

    Keeping you in my prayers!

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  10. Karen, it is heartbreaking to read that the treatments, both for you and for Nigel, were ineffective. May God's grace and mercy continue to guide your steps.

    I so admire your determination to find joy in all of your circumstances. As I read your post, I was reminded of Amy Carmichael who spent years upon years in bed, seemingly ineffective in the work that the Lord had called her to, and yet, what treasures of wisdom poured from her pen...treasures that have strengthened and heartened many a soul since then!

    I love the house sampler that you made for Sophia, with its personal touches, stitched with love.

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  11. I'm very sorry to read of another door closed re your health. I'm on a quest to try and help our daughter and currently studying to be a naturopath since the main stream medical world could offer no hope. I'm only in my 2nd year but if you ever wish to email me with questions I would be more than willing to try and help you. You held my hand through my homeschooling days with your book A Charlotte Mason Companion, a book I turned to often (and I've kept). With much love Leanne

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  12. Dearest Karen,
    Last night I walked to the church down the street to attend the parish mission. The talk was called "Family, Church and Change." The priest said we are often quick to see God's hand in the "new beginnings" kind of change---a wedding, a new job, a new baby---but when it comes to the "endings" we look harder for Him. He specifically mentioned the loss of health, the loss of a job, the suffering of a loved one. I gained much from the talk last night, after going through a painful divorce and knowing by FAITH that Jesus was right there with me, but having a hard time seeing His hand. I have found over the past few months that I have moved from acceptance to gratitude because "God only allows evil that good may come of it." What that good might be might remain a mystery for some time. But His meaning is always love. Sending you a hug and prayers too, Kristyn

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  13. I saw that you were the winner on Linnie's blog, congrats on that win. Sounds like the visit with your daughter was wonderful. You will be in my prayers. I too suffer with chronic pain, pain management has helped little. Unfortunately, pain meds are the only thing that gives me the most relief. Blessings friend

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  14. Dearest Karen.

    I am so heartbroken for both you and Nigel. I had such hope about the treatment. I am finding that I have to give the WHY to the Lord, and to ask Him to show me Himself in it. His ways are higher than our and mysterious.

    I love the glimpse of Sophia's home. Christmas trees right out the window! Sigh…what a delight. We have such fondness for you all. You are all dear to our family.

    Deanna

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  15. What kind and sensitive readers I have here at Moments with Mother Culture.

    The priest makes a very good point about looking for God's hand in "endings" as well as "beginnings." It is something to meditate upon especially since even death for the Christian is a glorious new beginning.

    I desire to glorify God in lose. I've always liked the line of Isaac Watt's hymn that goes, "and all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care, And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God, art present there." (Pocketful of Pinecones, pg 56)

    He is with our beginnings and our endings.

    Yours,
    Karen A.

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  16. First off Karen, I want to thank you for trusting us and sharing your heart. It is a very difficult time for you and I am sorry. I love your friends advice of counting your blessings, like you count your stitches (we all need tee-shirts that say that ;-) There are times in our lives where we just hang on and trust. It is not until later we see God's hand it it all. I am praying for you and your family. Love Clarice

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  17. I am so sorry to hear that the treatments were not successful. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers.

    I enjoyed the photos of your visit with Sophia and her family.

    Leigh

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