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Karen’s Life Sketch

Karen KingOn this, the first day of 2017, it seems an appropriate time to share my life sketch.  Rather than looking forward to the new year, I am looking back over my life and analyzing it.  There have been physical changes ~ for sure.  And life is filled with emotional experiences bringing you happiness and sorrow that change you.  Then ah, yes, our spiritual lives are sometimes left to be relegated to a mysticism or sheer energy; but truly, truly, our lives will be richer and fuller if we recognize that our self-worth is not in things or possessions or degrees or accolades but in our personal relationship with God ~ our Creator.  So this is my personal life sketch.  I hope you will take time to write yours and I would love to have you share it with me.
My birthday is July 18, 1953.  I was born in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.  I am the youngest of five children.  I have two older brothers, an older sister and a twin!  Although my brothers and sisters and I live far from each other in distance, we enjoy using technology to keep in touch and we love being together.

My twin sister’s name is Kathy.  We are very different.  She is creative and spontaneous.  I am cautious.  We work together which means we talk every day even though she lives in Florida and I live in Oklahoma. Our business is KathyandKaren.com.  My sisters and I also have an on-line community Call Me Sister where we write blog articles about daily life. We would love to have thousands of virtual sisters.  We hope you will join us and call us “sister”.

My family moved to Oklahoma from Arkansas when I was in first grade.  Bob, my husband, and I dated when we were in high school.  Then while Bob was attending the University of Oklahoma, I moved to Oklahoma City at the age of 18 to work. During those years we fell in love and three years later we were married. When Bob graduated, we moved to Tulsa where Bob worked for an oil and gas company.  I worked as a secretary until Sarah was born in 1980 and I became a “stay-at-home” mom.  Taylor was born in 1984 so my life was filled with family, my church and volunteer activities.   I also homeschooled our children for three years when they were in elementary grades.

God has used many circumstances to shape my life.  No doubt the event that first jarred my most wonderful world and made me re-evaluate my life was in 1996 when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 43.  From that point, nothing was the same.  I changed my diet, my activities and even the way I thought!  Well, I say I changed the way I thought.   Actually it was God who changed my thinking, because I could not have changed my thinking without Him.  He showed me that every day of my life is a gift from Him.  He showed me how fragile my life is and how I really didn’t control it.  He showed me how His love was showered on me each and every day of my life.  He showed me that it was not my job to worry about changing other people, but only to pay attention to how I should live my own life.

Bob and I lived in Tulsa for 28 years and he continued to grow in his career in oil and gas.  Unfortunately, after 9/11 Bob lost his job and was unemployed for a year and a half.  However, because of this seemingly terrible situation, we moved to Florida so that Bob could teach math at a failing high school in the inner city of Miami. That is where we lived before we moved to Norman.  We love Norman and we love meeting many students at OU from China.

Another life-changing event in my life was the birth of our two grandchildren – Cooper and Avery.  After many disappointments and medical procedures, our daughter Sarah and her husband continued to hope and pray for a child.  With great joy, we learned that Sarah was pregnant, then we learned that she was going to have twins!  Her pregnancy was very difficult. She was hospitalized when she was only 22 weeks pregnant and was put on bed rest.  The babies were born March 5, 2014 – at 30 weeks – two months premature.  Cooper weighed only 3 pounds 7 ounces and Avery weighed only 3 pounds.  The babies were so small and we prayed earnestly for them.  We are so grateful that many others also prayed for them.  Now Cooper and Avery continue to grow healthy and strong.  We are so very grateful and thankful for this wonderful gift.

On November 8, 1964 at the age of 11, I made the most important decision in my life. I became a Christian by asking Jesus to be my personal Savior and the Lord of my life.  This decision has given my life great purpose and meaning.  From having cancer to surviving a very serious car accident several years ago to the birth of Cooper and Avery, I have become aware of how much in life I do not control. That has made me understand more about how to trust God to take unplanned and sometimes painful circumstances and give us hope, because He has given me life. I want my life to count for something. I want my life to count for God. Each morning, I awaken with expectations and I appreciate each day.  The Bible is my guide.  I love my husband.  I love my children.  I love our grandchildren. I love people.  I know that this is only possible because God showed me His grace and He took my bad attitude and turned it into thanksgiving.  He showed me that the most important things in life are those things that you cannot see, but they are very real.  I am thankful that Jesus saved me from my sins and that as I have trusted him as my Savior and Lord, He has given joy and peace.  He has not only given me a new life today and tomorrow, but forever.

My life had always been busy. I worked. I got married. I had children. I volunteered. I attended church and studied the Bible. My life is now more precious than I had previously realized. This life is like a vapor – a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. We must build our lives on the foundation of faith in Christ – understanding that apart from Him we are nothing. He loves you so. James 4:14 and John 15:5

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.    Hebrews 13:8  The Holy Bible

There is a particular word that can stop time.  It is the word that will be like a bee sting.  It is a word that makes all things new.  In the nano second after you hear this word, whatever was bothering you will suddenly seem extremely trivial and unimportant.  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, your perspective changes.  All of a sudden, you want to tell someone that you care, that you are sorry for every single cross word you ever uttered.

December 13, 1996
I received a biopsy report.  I knew the report would show “it is something” or “it is nothing”; but my doctor did not say, “It is nothing.”  Instead, he very calmly said, “Mrs. King, you have infiltrating ductile carcinoma.”  This was an unexpected blow.  Other people get cancer.  I was only 43 years old.  We had two children at home and they certainly still needed a mother.  I called my husband and he immediately came home from work.  All of our priorities changed.  It didn’t matter that Christmas presents weren’t wrapped or that a Christmas light had burned out on the roof.

December 13, 2016
Today is my twenty-year anniversary as a cancer survivor.  I am grateful for these twenty years and consider each one a gift from God.  In the last couple of years, our daughter has had twins and our son has been married.  While I know they would have been able to live without me, I am very thankful that I was able to be there to support and encourage them.  I know they would have been able to live without me, but I think a part of life would have been sad.

These are lessons I learned from cancer and it is what I shared in a Survivor’s Speech at a Relay for Life in Hollywood, Florida, ten years ago.  It is still true today.

We can all say that cancer changes things.  During my 9 months of treatment I prayed a lot and asked myself many questions and I came through that time learning many things.

#1   My life is precious to me and every day is a gift…a gift not to be taken for granted.  

#2   People have great capacity for compassion and kindness.

#3   Faith and hope are real.  As a Christian I have great comfort and peace knowing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of my life.  Cancer deepened my faith and increased my hope. 

#4   Pray for wisdom for researchers to unlock mysteries about this disease.  Pray for wisdom for doctors who treat cancer patients.  Pray for wisdom for families as they make important decisions. I pray that all of us will be wise about this disease and what we can do to prevent it.  We as survivors are members of a club that we don’t want you or anyone in your family to join – the dues are too high.  It has been said that people change their lifestyles for three reasons:  fear, pain and wisdom.  So I pray that you will be free from fear.  I pray that you will be free from pain; but, most importantly, I pray that we will all have an abundance of wisdom to take what we already know about cancer and be proactive and live a healthier life – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

This is a special day ~ I never want to forget how it felt twenty years ago today when a doctor called and my life was suddenly changed.

Yesterday a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart sank and then I remembered that even in the pain, cancer cannot steal joy. As we approach Easter, I’m reminded that cancer cannot destroy the hope we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I also remembered this “Survivor’s Speech” that I gave at a RELAY FOR LIFE rally in Hollywood, Florida in 2006.  I must have saved a copy of it because it meant something to me.  I hope that now – 9 years later – these words still ring true and will have meaning for someone else.  To encourage someone who needs to be encouraged, bless someone who needs to be blessed and inspire someone who needs to be inspired. And to my fellow cancer survivors and to those who are presently in the struggle, I still say, “God bless you.”

Opening Ceremony Survivor’s Speech
RELAY FOR LIFE
Hollywood, Florida
Friday, April 28, 2006

My name is Karen King.  I was diagnosed with cancer in December 1996 – almost 10 years ago!  To my fellow cancer survivors, I say “God bless you!”  I know many of you have suffered and are suffering more than I.  It is an honor to represent you and my hope is that I represent you well.

I think that we can all say that cancer changes things.  During my 9 months of treatment I prayed a lot and asked myself many questions and I came through that time learning many things.

#1   My life is precious to me and every day is a gift…a gift not to be taken for granted.  And as  cancer survivors I know we can all appreciate having hair – in any amount!  We can all agree that there are no longer any “bad hair” days!”

#2   People like you have great capacity for compassion and kindness and for this we as survivors are so grateful and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

#3   Faith and hope are real.  As a Christian I have great comfort and peace knowing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of my life.  Cancer deepened my faith and increased my hope.

Many people have worked hard – very hard – to bring about this Relay for Life.  We appreciate their efforts and the efforts that each one of you has given to support the American Cancer Society and the cause to fight cancer in all of its forms.  As you walk the track today I ask you to pray for wisdom.  Pray for wisdom for researchers to unlock mysteries about this disease.  Pray for wisdom for doctors who treat cancer patients.  Pray for wisdom for families as they make important decisions.

Finally, I pray that all of us will be wise about this disease and what we can do to prevent it.  We as survivors are members of a club that we don’t want you or anyone in your family to join – the dues are too high.  It has been said that people change their lifestyles for three reasons:  fear, pain and wisdom.  So I pray that you will be free from fear.  I pray that you will be free from pain; but, most importantly, I pray that we will all have an abundance of wisdom to take what we already know about cancer and be proactive and live a healthier life – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Thank you.

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BOATLIFT 9-11

BOATLIFT 9-11

In the decade-plus years since 9.11, I had never heard this story.

After the terrorists attack of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011, Manhattan shut down – all subways, tunnels, bridges, and trains were closed.  People ran to the water’s edge.  Realizing there was no way off the island, some even jumped in the water.  Others trying to flee began to overload boats that were already anchored there.

Coast Guard 9.11

US Coast Guard Pilot Boat #1 knew that they could not handle this situation alone and they made a brave decision.  The Coast Guard sent out a radio alert to boats in the area – asking any and all boats to respond to Governor’s Island.

And the boats came.

 

This YOU TUBE video is a story of the courage, compassion and heroism of these “regular citizens”.

The largest sea evacuation* in history, in less than nine hours, nearly 500,000 civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat.

May God richly bless these people who took action and came to the aid of fellow citizens in their hour of dire need – disregarding personal harm for the sake of those they did not know.  I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their immediate response.

*The next largest sea evacuation was Dunkirk in WWII when 330,000 British and French troops were rescued over a period of nine days.

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Happy Birthday to me!!!

20130723-103521.jpgMy twin sister Kathy and I celebrated our birthday this month and for the first time in many years, we were together ON our birthday!  It took some planning since she lives in Florida, I live in Oklahoma and we always see each other on the 4th of July when our entire family meets in Perry, OK at my brother’s farm.  But this year was a special year.  Turning 60 deserved some special treatment.  After spending a week in Oklahoma, we started our journey with an overnight stay at my brother’s house in Arkansas and they treated us like royalty.  After fishing in their pond, they sang “Happy Birthday” to us with cards, cake and candles.  But that’s another story…

20130723-105954.jpgWe are not “shop ’til you drop” types; but for our birthday, we decided to create a day together at the little shops in downtown Melbourne.  We had lunch at a Cuban restaurant called “Le Bon” – it was a French restaurant and the Cuban brothers who own it hadn’t had time to change the name yet.  They had coffees (thus the glass jars) and an amazing menu with hot sandwiches and a dessert called Arepas.  Our Le Bon arepa was filled with guava and cream cheese served hot!  Delicious!  So imagine this….very friendly, nice Cuban brothers in a restaurant called Le Bon serving South American corn cakes called arepas.  I love Florida!  I love America!

The necklace I’m wearing is very colorful and made of bones – I bought it at a little shop called GO FISH, a Christian company that supports and sells crafts made in under-developed countries.  Okay – I love the necklace, but I love even more to think about someone in Peru making this by hand for me.  I am such a spoiled American – maybe this necklace will remind me of that so I don’t forget.

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Because the next stop was a cute shop called Unique Treasures and I found this darling outfit.

Now I don’t have a picture of what iSissy2 purchased (my older sister is iSissy1 and I’m iSissy3), but I will take one later…when I can slow Kat down long enough for a picture!

The pictures below are worth a thousand words.  We had a fabulous dinner at home, then our husbands surprised us with chocolate cake, singing Happy Birthday and candles – special candles that don’t blow out.  Even if you are 60, it’s funny when you blow out a candle and it re-lights.

But the really funny story was when Bob and Robert told us about making the chocolate cake – they used a tape measure and calculated the volume of the mixture so they could decide what pans to use.  When they said they thought it made sense, Kat said, “I’ve never used a tape measure when baking a cake…”  We cracked up laughing!!!  We love our guys!!!

Hope you enjoy our collection of birthday pictures!

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Happy Birthday to us!  Happy Birthday to us!!!  And many more!!!!

 

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This mourning dove became the object of our admiration and affection.

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The landscapers had leaned the ladder against one of the posts on our carport. Within an hour, there was a nest and that was that. In “googling” Mourning Doves, I learned they are not very good nest builders. That’s the truth – it was just twigs laying on top of a ladder!  But what she may have lacked in nest-building expertise, she made up for in perseverance and courage!  She built her nest and waited.

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Then the rains came.  Wind, hail, thunder and lightning came.  Numerous freezing nights with wind blowing, hail pelting, rain falling all at the same time.  During a tornado warning, we took cover and when we came back, she was still there.  Remaining strong and unrelentingly loyal.

And then something wonderful happened.  She was rewarded.  Baby birds!  I was so relieved!!!  She made it…she did it!!  Yea!!!  I learned about squabs, fledlings and perseverance.  WOW!  Now I know.  Mourning doves are beautiful creatures – inside and out.

NOTE:  After the babies flew away, the next thing we knew she was nesting again above our back door.   Now wait a minute!!!

Thanks to Bryan Reynolds, freelance nature photographer, enjoy these beautiful photos!

Courtesy of:
Bryan E. Reynolds
Executive Office, President and Founder
Butterflies of the World Foundation botwf.org.

Mourning Dove

 

  Mourning Dove BR4

    Mourning Dove BR3

 For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. — Psalm 50:10-11 (NIV)

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BEFORE

 

To receive an “occupany certificate” last May, we had to have grass and at least two trees so we planted a Cleveland Select Pear (with beautiful bark) and a small, wimpy “it will grow” crepe myrtle; but that was about it.

Our plan was to wait until spring break this year to landscape so that everything would have a chance to be established before the blast of summer heat arrived; however, we weren’t able to get it together for several reasons – one of them being hard freeze warnings in April.  We love Oklahoma weather!

 

 

 

 

 

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AFTER

 

 

A couple of weeks ago, we hired a professional – Stephan Cook.  We love what he did with cherry laurels, azaleas that apparently do not require shade, Indian hawthorne, something called kaleidescope something-er-other, some grasses, a Japanese maple, an evergreen called Cedrus deodora “Kashmir” along with moneywort and begonias.

 

 

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Finishing touch?   Birdbath…my idea!

And with that, I say, “Thanks for watching and sharing in the building of our little house!  Come by ‘n sit a spell and I’ll make some lemonade!” 

God bless you every one!

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Unbelievable!  Beautiful!  Incredible!  We’re pretty certain you will agree!

As an Oklahoma native son from Tulsa, Thomas Shahan’s love of nature began to focus on anthropods – yes, spiders – for their beauty!  Interestingly enough, his subjects are not in the Amazon rain forest or on a remote island somewhere.  Thomas captured these creatures – not in jars or in man-made traps, but through the art of macro-photography in their natural surroundings in Oklahoma.  These creatures are in your back yard – or at the very least, in the fields of rural Oklahoma – in our neighborhood!

Prepare to be amazed!!

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Thomas’ work has been featured in National Geographic December 2011, exhibited in museums abroad, highlighted in a Smithsonian on-line article entitled “Locking Eyes with Spiders and Insects” and now his work has come home to Oklahoma!  Don’t miss it!  Sam Noble Museum of Natural History

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Exhibit dates: February 2 – September 8, 2013

Just for fun, the museum had a bigger than life spider – I believe it is a “jumping spider” at the entrance of the museum for photo opps – and it was easy to smile OR act scared!!!!

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Thomas Shahan with me at the museum where there were tables and docents explaining the life of insects!  Then upstairs to the exhibit hall – beautiful!!! 

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This enormous poster greeted you as you entered the hall along with this picture of Thomas.

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Thomas Shahan – Macro-photographer & Artist

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This biographical sketch is worth squinting to read!

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Then there were many people…

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See Thomas patiently talking to everyone and probably answering the same question a hundred times:

“HOW DO YOU DO THIS???”

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Bob and I got to share some fun times with Thomas’ family – you see, they are good friends!  Thomas’ mom took this picture and I have no idea what she said, but it must have been funny!

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Me with my good friend – Thomas’ mom – like a friend who let our son move into her dining room for a summer when we were living in Florida and he had no place to live. That’s another story and another memory, but the Shahan’s – they’re the best!  They fed and sheltered our son for an entire summer!  Need I say more?

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AND Wayne Cohen of Flaming Lips fame…

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Congratulations, Thomas!  We are very proud of you and have a new appreciation for the incredible beauty of spiders!   My personal feeling is that this is a reminder that:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  I Corinthians 2:9

God’s ability to amaze us is infinite.  We can’t even begin to imagine it.  I now see spiders in a new way – now I know they are beautiful and wonderfully made!  And this is just a taste of what God can do.

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Merry Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

We loved having Taylor home for Christmas so that we could all be together.  Some highlights were going to church and singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

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Taylor got to see the house for the first time…..

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We celebrated Christmas with Bob’s mom and family in Enid.  The kids hit the trail to run on Christmas Eve proving that Christmas CAN be about happiness, heaven AND health!  Here’s an unbelievable statistic…Johnathan has logged about 1400 miles running this year!!

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We loved going to Perry Farm to spend Christmas Day with my brother and my family.  As always, it’s a place of hospitality, good food, laughter and family memories.

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Taylor with his Mema at her cabin.  Mom lives near my brother’s house in a little place he built for her on his farm.  That kitchen still produces the best cornbread dressing and pies in the world!!!

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Mom received foot warmers from Richard and Suellen – along with hand warmers and the red robe…it’s all about staying warm which can also be accomplished sometimes while holding a dog and a cat!! (Not shown.)

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Taylor gave us all gifts…

AND Christmas socks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor lives in Jacksonville.  Sarah and Johnathan live in OKC.

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And we still live in Norman.  We have only said “we’ll never move again” about three times before, but this time we know it’s true.

We hope you are well and we hope we will see all of you in 2013.  Have a happy and prosperous new year!

God bless you all!

“Sing praises to him; tell of his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always.”   Psalm 105:3-4

 

 

 

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Wise Men Still Seek Him

Every Christmas we find meaning and incredible joy to realize that Jesus was born and came to us to be our Savior and our Lord.  How in our wildest dreams could this possibly be?  We want to be like Mary who submitted her will to God’s will and whose soul glorified God,

like Joseph who listened and obeyed,

like the shepherds who, when they heard the great announcement, hurried to find Jesus,

and, finally, like the Magi – the Wise Men who traveled by night following a star for many miles to seek Him.

We love our nativity – we love Christmas, but even more, we love Jesus Christ – because without Him this would all be meaningless.  We have much to celebrate for “in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”     Matthew 1 / Luke 2

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Glory to God in the Highest!

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