Monday, June 29, 2015

The Winding Road (a personal chat - Karen Andreola)

"The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear" - The Beatles, 1970

It's been awhile since we've visited. I've managed to make it upstairs in the attic to sit in front of my computer and write what has been on my mind.

I was out-of-state helping my daughter with her difficult pregnancy. I was only a little help, really.

I sat around like an old-fashioned granny watching two boisterous little boys. This is because I'd been convalescing with my foot up on chairs - and keeping downstairs.

Not long ago Dean and I were visiting a church. Just as we were taking our places, I missed an unforeseen step. Twisting an ankle, I fell headlong to the floor, hitting my face on the oak pew across the isle. To my dismay, that beautiful spring morning was spent in the ER.. No broken bones, no lost teeth -thankfully. Stitches and bruises are healed by now. But I'm humbled by a small scare where my lip was supper-glued together. Never-mind. It feels good to be able to smile again.

As you can see I'm taking a moment for a personal chat. If you've come looking for informative articles, welcome. I invite you to click around. I hope the articles will encourage you.

Lancaster County farm

May I tell you why the above lyrics came to mind? It will explain why Dean and I took a drive together through the back roads of our neighborhood to take pictures for you today. 

We'd been reading the book of Ruth and hearing sermons on this moving story. It shows that the life of the believer is not a straight highway to heaven. Our journey is more like a winding road, more like the country roads around here, where we live in Pennsylvania.

Here the roads are old ones, roads made in the days when William Penn granted land to settlers looking for religious freedom, Quaker or otherwise. The roads wind around small farms, curve along creeks, go up and down rolling hills. They are obscured by woods or lined with weedy hedgerows.

This time of year the landscape is green and lush. The small farms are full of flowers and mini garden retreats.

Where Are We?
It isn't surprising that tourists to Lancaster County (and even we) who venture onto the "scenic routes" soon find we've lost a sense of direction. The life of the believer can be like this. We can feel lost. But using the lyrics above for my own purposes, the door to heaven will never disappear. In our hearts we believe the promise that it is truly and wonderfully there.

In the book of Ruth we see that life has set-backs. But set-backs are part of God's gracious road to glory. We move forward up and down the road, by faith, even when we cannot see around the bend.

I am trying to accept the set backs in my life and in the life of those I love. I believe that they are part of God's plan. I will admit to asking God, during times of discouragement, how He can expect me to be a faithful Christian with all the, pain, loss and set backs life holds? His answer to St.Paul's repeated prayers to remove the chronic, painful thorn in his flesh was, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness."(2 Corinthians 12:10).

A Turn in the Road
Last year we asked for prayer for our son, Nigel, who was injured. The top treatment for RSD that he had undergone in Philadelphia, failed. Due to the pain of RSD in his hands, Nigel is very limited in what he can do. It is my sorrow to see him unable to use his hands in ways he once enjoyed. Playing piano, driving a car, cooking a meal, riding his mountain bike, fencing, etc. I am reminded of a verse I wove into my story, Lessons at Blackberry Inn (before this injury took place.) "A man's heart plans his way but the Lord directs his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)

Happily, when he was a boy, Nigel gave his life to Jesus his Savior. He's kept his faith. This is the most important thing, isn't it? What he can do is use a computer mouse and Wacom tablet with rests in between. He was schooled and received honors in graphic arts and web design, and stays current with the odd college course.

Presently, he is preparing my two stories, Pocketful of Pinecones and its sequel Lessons at Blackberry Inn, for Kindle. It is slow and steady work - but work he does well and gratefully.

When our current stock of Lessons of Blackberry Inn runs out we will no longer be printing a paper edition. If you've been meaning to purchase this story - a summer retreat for the home teacher - in paper, click here.

Joy in the Midst of Trouble
While I was away I enjoyed attending a baby shower for our daughter Sophia at her house. It was hosted by Sophia's sister, Yolanda and Sophia's homeschool friend Shannon. They did a beautiful job. The raspberry filled lemon cake with raspberry frosting, Yolanda's recipe, tasted especially fresh and delicious. (Proof of my opinion is that when Yolanda handed me a leftover piece of cake at the close of the party- I hid it in the very back of Sophia's frig and treated myself with it by petite-fours-sized slices - after my grandchildren were in bed - for three consecutive evenings. Ahh.) I asked Shannon how long she and Sophia have been friends and she told me since they were 11 years-old. That was 22 years ago. Sisters and old friends are a blessing. (And daughters who know how to cook.)

My gift of a homemade quilt is one that had been resting in my Grandmother's Someday Box for some years, saved for whomever the next little girl would be to enter our lives.

I finished knitting the angora baby jacket I started this spring. It is soft and delicate.

All I need to do is attach a pink ribbon or a button to the collar. I can't decide which.

Anyway, we are looking forward to meeting the upcoming baby girl soon.

Living Along the Winding Road,
Karen Andreola


  1. Dear Karen,
    I am so glad to see a post from you today. I was afraid that someone in your family might not be doing well. So sorry to hear of your accident! Thankfully you were spared serious injury, but it sounds very painful. I hope the rest of your summer and Sophia's delivery go very smoothly. As you said, though, God is in control and gives us His strength in our weakness. I often pray for you and and your family. Thank you for sharing your life with us.
    Dianne L

  2. A beautiful post, as always. Thank you for sharing;).

  3. Having driven those winding roads just two summers ago while on our cross-country vacation, I can appreciate the beauty of them as portrayed in your photos...thank you for the glimpse and into and reminder of the beauty that is Lancaster. :) I am sorry to hear that Nigel's hands are unable to perform those things he enjoys (my own son would be lost without his piano playing, so my heart goes out to both Nigel and you as this mom's heart is heavy for him, too). Thankful that you weren't more seriously hurt, dear Karen. I am always encouraged by your tender spirit expressed here as well as in your printed writings! May the Lord make His face to shine upon your family! xo Lisa

  4. Karen,
    I am so sorry to hear of your trials. I know for myself that even though I have hidden God's Word in my heart, sometimes it can be hard to live them out. My prayers go out to you and your family.
    I just received my order of the Parent's Review. They are wonderful. Thank you for all of your hard work, and for sharing it with all of us!

  5. Karen it is nice hearing from you. Glad you are feeling okay now. Thank You for the update on Sophia. We will be waiting for the blessed event to make her debut. Love the pictures of Pennsylvania. We have been in the state and think it is a beautiful one. Many of our ancestors presided in the state. A cousin and his family have moved to Pennsylvania from New York. Sorry that Nigel was not helped by the treatment. Will keep him as well as Sophia in our prayers. Stay well. God Bless
    Marion M and family

  6. Dear Karen, Thank you for this beautiful post.It is most familiar to me as dear husband and I just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary at the Limestone Inn in Strasburg.We return each year,joyfully remembering our honeymoon to Lancaster County.Congratulations on being Gram to a baby girl soon.The quilt is adorable.So sorry to learn that your Son is struggling so,how painful to a Mother to witness that.The pictures posted are beautiful. While in Lancaster County ,we put on several hundreds of miles just driving, the beauty of God's creation is entertainment enough.It would be lovely to take tea with you one day.I believe you mentioned that a few years back in a posting response to me.Blessings Friend, Dawn E. Brown

  7. A granddaughter! How wonderful!

    Ups and downs abound in this world. One of my favorite sermons was about God's children living above their circumstances. We've all heard said, and maybe said ourselves, "I'm doing fine, under the circumstances." Our preacher encouraged us to live above them, not under them.

    Falling really hurts. In my family, we fall like ungainly trolls. I've seen some women who seem to float to the ground and land with their skirts in a lovely, daintily arranged circle. Whichever category you fall under (HA!) I am glad you are healing.


  8. Karen,
    God is faithful and He is good, always. You are a temple of His Holy Spirit, which He graciously deposited within you as His blood-bought child at salvation. I am thankful that you are bearing witness that His Spirit is alive in you and keeps you along with the sword of His Living Word. Likewise, I am grateful you have the gift of communicating this to others.
    Glad to know you are better; love the baby girl quilt with yo-yo's, and the knitted sweater.
    Blessings to all that concern you.

  9. Dear Karen,

    I'm sorry to read of your painful fall and the resulting injuries you sustained, and I'm thankful you have since healed and are able to actually smile again. I'm also sorry to read of your son’s disability. He is such a gifted man ~ I admire his sketches in your book "Lessons at Blackberry Inn" very much and the design of your website is always a pleasure to look at. Seeing a loved one go through personal struggles is heart-wrenching. I have learned to see it as an opportunity to "let go, and let God" do HIs perfect work. Thoughts and prayers are with you both.

    I appreciate the encouragement you give to keep walking by faith during times of feeling lost, without direction, in our Christian walk.

    The raspberry cake looks beautiful and delicious - I can see why you wanted to hide it and savor it over the 3 days. Yum.

    How exciting that soon you will be welcoming your first granddaughter into the family and giving her the sweet quilt and sweater you made ~ very special.

    Kind regards,

  10. Lovely words of a woman fully yielded to her Savior even in the midst of suffering. It reminds me of Luke 5, and the miracle of the fishes. I have, on-again, off-again, come back to this story since before Christmas because of one word. Peter had to be exhausted from fishing all night. Jesus gets in the boat, and pushing off - begins- to teach from that boat stage. Then he tells Peter it is time to catch the meal. Peter needs must speak. "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." And there it is. That one word Peter says next, that says everything: NEVERTHELESS. And that reminds me, Karen, of your situation and your attitude of being fully yielded. Well, you know the rest of the story. And so I pray, now, that you will continue to trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding...and wait on the Lord to "fill" your nets in his own perfect timing and way. It is hard to watch our children suffer. Two of my boys live with chronic health issues. One will always be my "boy" and live with us. I ache for you to see Nigel in pain and losing the ability to do things he loves. But the Lord will not waste a single trial...for faithful is He that calleth you (and Nigel) who also will do it. (1Thess.5:24) I am so glad to hear you are okay now, and healing from your scary fall. And thank you for the beautiful photos and sharing the excitement of your granddaughter! Even if you couldn't move around much, I feel sure your presence alone comforted Sophia!

  11. Dear Ladies,

    Thank you for keeping in touch. Your are kind-hearted. My eyes are liquid.

    I like to meet with my readers for herb tea when they plan to be in the neighborhood.

    Write anytime. Karen A.

  12. So sorry to hear of your injury - I hope so much you are feeling better by now?
    And how exciting to welcome your first granddaughter. I am praying for Sophia and baby girl.
    For me, it's also sad to hear your book won't be available on paper any more. I just love real books! I am so glad to have my well-used copy. From now on, it will be even more precious.
    Sending you and all your family my best wishes and keeping you in my prayers, Martina

  13. Gosh it is beautiful where you live. I am sorry about your fall but glad you were not hurt more. It is a terrible thing to be a parent and watch our children suffer physically. It is only lean on God that gets me through it!! Clarice

  14. Karen, I am so sorry to hear of your fall and injuries, but rejoicing that it wasn't too serious and you have healed. My daughter had a similar experience not long ago. She still bears the scar. I am sorry to hear that Nigel's treatments didn't help. I am sure God has a plan for his life that will be revealed each day. Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your granddaughter. The table in the picture is lovely, and everything looks so delicious. I am not sure I would have been able to take three days to savor the cake.
    Your posts are always an inspiration for me, and your blogging friends write such lovely comments. I know you must feel very blessed.
    We were in Pennsylvania in 2012. I would have so loved to have met you then. My husband mentioned it, but I didn't feel right in asking you to give of your time for me. Maybe next time I will take you up on your kind offer. Your photos remind me of how beautiful the countryside is in Pennsylvania.
    I just purchased a second set of your books for my girls. Kindle is fine, but I love to have a book in hand. Especially your's.
    Have a lovely day, Karen.

  15. Dearest Karen,
    I am so sorry about your fall! In the spring of last year I fell tripping over uneven pavement and hit my face on a brick column in front of the youth center where my daughter works. I broke my glasses and scraped up my face and hand. I have very ugly scars on my knuckles. My young sons tell me, "Be careful Mom" any time we are walking in that area. I really empathize with you, Karen. I thought my trip and fall days were long past. :-)

    I am also thinking of Nigel and the disappointments he must carry as a young man. Life is never what we expect, but God calls us to trust Him. Tonight a friend gave me a watchword from Ps. 46: God is our refuge and strength, an EVER-PRESENT help in time of trouble. The muscles of Nigel's faith must be bulging as he learns to trust.

    I am so happy for you all as you anticipate a granddaughter! I too have two girls who are now 18 and 16, followed by four boys. I miss the pinks and ruffles and bows. :-)

    God bless you and yours, K.

  16. How blessed I feel to have Kindred Spirits among my blog readers.
    Thank you for your deep sympathy.
    Karen A.

  17. I'm sorry that you fell! I hope and pray that you are healing well.

    How exciting to have a granddaughter!


  18. Dear Karen,
    Over the past year, many many days, even recently, your name or sweet smiling face will pop in my mind. I always know this is The Holy Spirit, asking me to pray for you and your family. It is a wonder, that He asks a Mom as far to the West of you as possible to pray for you. I assure you, I am as average as they come. I do try to specialize in love though. You are so gentle with us, even as you share your difficulties. I imagine it feels awkward to share sometimes, but thank you for sharing. I, like all your other friends above in the comments, am so sorry for the hard times you and your family are walking through. I have 5 sons (1 daughter) and to think their hands wouldn't be fully available, causes me to cry as I type. Your son will be in my prayers. I cannot wait to see what Jesus has planned to do with him and this hard chapter he is living through. It will not be wasted that's for sure! I too have had conversations with God about what He has allowed to come onto my path, others too, for that matter. It is strange. I suppose the enemy doesn't bother those that do not love The Lord or aim to honor Him with their choices. In my confusion, I try to visually take those thoughts of "what in the world...why oh why" to Him at the throne and ask Him to please help. When certain hardships linger or seem to not have an end in sight, I remind myself that God can be trusted to order my days, none of this is a surprise to Him. We've all seen Him so personally good and give good gifts, there must be important reasons for the suffering we endure. You and your family have given so much to Christian families, to mine too! Thank you for stepping out and pointing families to good has made a difference in my life, which has then benefited myself, my family & friends. The work & gifts you all have shared are so far reaching and they've become tools for The Holy Spirit to use in people's lives. Maybe consider that you, your husband, your son, your daughters & their husbands are Paul's to many of us. Much Love, Jill

  19. It is a joy to have our work appreciated. Thank you.

    Yes, I am cautious when sharing personally. My readers already have their own set of struggles and sorrows. I sincerely thank you for your prayers. I go over my writing repeatedly before I post it. This time I edited out the adjective "deep" to my word "sorrow" to in regards to our son, Nigel, to make it more "gentle" as you say. We are thankful for what he "can" do - art and design on the computer - and that he is sensitive to the things of the Spirit.

    I'm chuckling at your description of "average" about yourself. Before Dean and I meet one of our readers in person - who happen to be in Lancaster, I sometimes hear myself preparing them that there is nothing glamorous about us. God chooses to use various pots of clay for marvelous purposes - for "kingdom" purposes - even in quiet - not flamboyant ways - for those who consider it an honor to serve Him. And the greatest of these ways is "love" however it manifests itself. Touched by Your Kindness, Karen