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Love Extravagantly August 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karen Shafer @ 9:52 pm

Thursday, August 30, 2012


For my cousin, Linda Stone:  mentor, protector, role model and friend

March 22, 1946 ~~ August 28, 2012


Dixie Chicks

“Bitter End”


The words that you said
They still ring in my head
Don’t you know
We say goodbye
With a tear in our eye
Oh, where’d you go

It’s alright you can sleep tonight
Knowing you’ll always live on in a song

Farewell to old friends
Let’s raise a glass to the bitter end
Farewell to old friends
Will you be the same when we see you again

Remember the days
When we’d laugh as you played
Who would have known
The [illness] would come and just take you away
Oh, where’d you go

It’s not alright
I can’t sleep tonight
Knowing you should have played on
On and on

Farewell to old friends
Let’s raise a glass to the bitter end
Farewell to old friends
Will you forgive me when I see you again

Farewell to old friends
Let’s raise a glass to the bitter end
Farewell to old friends
We’ll still be here when you come round again


Falling In Love Again… Or Is It the First Time? August 23, 2012

Filed under: Random Post — Karen Shafer @ 11:33 pm

Thursday, August 24, 2012


Falling In Love Again… Or Is It the First Time?


In my misspent youth, I could find very little to love about my hometown in East Tennessee.  It was too provincial, I felt, and it made me feel claustrophobic, as though I needed to claw my way out it, surrounded as it is by hills and mountains, albeit very beautiful ones.  It won awards sometimes in national polls for Good Places to Live, but I for one could not see it.  My perspective was that, though I loved the mountains, they trapped in the air pollution and collected the acid rain, and they were most definitely trapping me.



So, after my longer-than-average-and-longer-than-necessary college career there in my home town, I got out — first to Atlanta, the closest big city, and then to Dallas.  No problem with mountains there — Dallas grew up out of a a cotton field.



Forty years later, after raising a family I wouldn’t trade for any other and spending forty Texas summers addicted to air conditioning, I can also see the climatological  upside of being able to garden in Dallas almost year round.  I had wanted different, and different I got.



During the intervening decades, my family and I drove yearly to East Tennessee for Christmas with my parents and extended family.  I missed my relatives terribly, and it was always a wrench to leave them when our holidays ended.  There were ongoing discussions with my own family about moving back to ‘hillbilly country’, but we never did.



When each of my parents died — mother, father, stepmother — I came to home to be with them, sometimes with my children, sometimes alone.  It was an incalculable honor to be with my parents when they passed away, but it also meant that most of the memories  of East Tennessee during the last fifteen years have been sad ones.  So, for the better part of a decade, I’ve stayed away.  When lifelong friends called and tried to stay in touch, I made excuses for not coming ‘home.’  I was compartmentalizing, I guess.



Yet there is always something about ‘fiddle playing’ — when I hear strains of it in Appalachian / Celtic music on the radio — that gets to me like no other instrumentation.  That, and the banjo.  You can take the girl out of the hills (or she can take herself out), but…



Last week, I needed to come home on family business and decided to make it a road trip.  I stopped to stay with my lifelong best friend in Memphis, who is also named Karen.  (Growing up, since we went to the same kindergarten, grammar school, high school, and college, one of us was “Karen” and one “The Other Karen” — yet which was which depended entirely upon who was talking!)  Over the years, this lovely woman and her daughter, Joanna, have opened their home to me and my family every time we’ve passed through Memphis on our way east, which adds up to quite a few overnights.



This is my BFF Karen:  I needed to make last week’s trip on the short notice, so I got on the road and called her from somewhere between Dallas and Memphis (after not talking to her for months) and said, “Uh, I’m going to be in Memphis tonight, and I was wondering if I could stay…”  “Of course!”  she said, “I’ll leave work early.  [She’s the boss, so she can do that.]  You’ll have to overlook the cat hair in the corners.  John and I will cook for you.”  “Sorry for the late notice,” I said.  “You’re family!” she replied.  By the time I pulled into town, she’d rounded up her daughter, son-in-law and grandson for a reunion, and we all sat down to a lovely home-cooked meal with fresh flowers, two different wines, and candles.



As I continued the drive eastward the following day, I felt surprisingly exhilarated.  I was delighted, surprised, amazed at the joy I felt in returning to East Tennessee…  I was homesick but hadn’t known it.  Cruising down the freeway and into my hometown at the end of the day, I felt as if I were driving through a virtual matrix of emotions  — sad ones, happy ones…  feelings long shut away.



The next day, weaving through the campus of the university there that is my alma mater, I came face to face with the feelings of failure I carry about my uneven college career:  the 3.5 GPA semesters alongside the 1.2 one that was my first time living away from home in the dorm;  dropping out without graduating my ‘second senior year’ because I was tired of working and going to school.



There was happy stuff too:  passing the campus theatre I remembered a class I took for which I was required to perform in a comic play, and, despite my ice cold terror, miraculously remembered my lines, and actually got a laugh.



More in the mixed-review category, I remembered when I discovered that the vending machines in the basement of that freshman dorm could replace meals as I pulled all nighters and then slept through the 7:30 a.m. freshman zoology exam I’d been studying for.  (Speaking of which, why did I think that subject involved actual mammal-sized animals?  Because it contains the word ‘zoo’???)  I somehow became the official hair cutter for the girls on my floor, except I had no clue what I was doing  — the closest I’d ever come to being a stylist was cutting the manes and tails of ponies in my youth.  Those were some great girls in my dorm — tremendous support as I gained the Frosh 20 eating from the vending machines and ‘outgrew’ all my clothes.



As I passed by the Panhellenic building on campus on my driving tour last week, I thought of the time I was roped into being in a fashion show there and learned just before walking down the runway that my size 10 feet were going to have to fit into size 8-1/2 shoes.  And they did.  Ouch.



And then I drove downtown.  When did my hometown grow up and become a radiant beauty?  Completely without my help, while I ignored it and looked the other way, it has transformed itself into an exquisite jewel, a combination of historic treasure and trendy upscale hipness.  (I, on the other hand, have bypassed the trendy, the upscale and the hip entirely.)  All of the buildings that I remember from my childhood and dream about — the ones I shopped in, went to the movies in, sat at the soda fountain in, when I was allowed by my parents the thrill of riding the bus ‘downtown’ from the suburbs with my older cousin, Linda —  they are STILL THERE, refurbished in period detail, clean and sparkling with love and care.  The past is not just honored there, it is cherished.  I am so proud.



Somehow this past week, something has happened.  Something magical, and healing.  I don’t feel trapped by my hometown any more — I am in love with it, as it is, and as I remember it.  Maybe I always have been.





Being Led August 20, 2012

Filed under: Christianity,healing,inspiration,Leadership,Vocation — Karen Shafer @ 2:54 am

From Henri Nouwen:


“Let me tell you about a[n] experience connected with my move from Harvard to L’Arche. It was clearly a move from leading to being led.  Somehow I had come to believe that growing older and more mature meant that I would be increasingly able to offer leadership. In fact, I had grown more self-confident over the years. I felt I knew something and had the ability to express it and be heard. In that sense I felt more and more in control.


But when I entered my community with mentally handicapped people and their assistants, all controls fell apart, and I came to realize that every hour, day, and month was full of surprises — often surprises I was least prepared for…. Often people responded from deep places in themselves, showing me that what I was saying or doing had little if anything to do with what they were living. Present feelings and emotions could no longer be held in check by beautiful words and convincing arguments…. Without realizing it, the people I came to live with made me aware of the extent to which my leadership was still a desire to control complex situations, confused emotions, and anxious minds.


It took me a long time to feel safe in this unpredictable climate, and I still have moments in which I clamp down and tell everyone to shut up, get in line, listen to me, and believe what I say. But I am also getting in touch with the mystery that leadership, for a large part, means to be led. I discover that I am learning many new things, not just about the pains and struggles of wounded people, but also about their unique gifts and graces. They teach me about joy and peace, love and care and prayer…. They also teach me what nobody else could have taught me, about grief and violence, fear and indifference. Most of all, they give me a glimpse of God’s first love, often at moments when I start feeling depressed and discouraged.


My movement from Harvard to L’Arche made me aware in a new way how much my own thinking about Christian leadership had been affected by the desire to be relevant, the desire for popularity, and the desire for power.  Too often I looked at being relevant, popular and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry.


The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations. Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me?’ Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people…  Old patterns that have proved quite effective are not easy to give up.


I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility.”


~~ From In the Name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership


A Message From Karen Dudley & The Dallas International Street Church August 15, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Personal Message 


Pastor Karen   

 “Where there is no vision the people perish”

Proverbs 29:18

In talking with more and more youth there seems to be a lack of vision for their generation.  Many are meandering through life without purpose or goals.  With this mindset it should come as no suprise that many find themselves in bondage to drugs, alcohol, cutting and abusive relationships.  In other words they are perishing. And adults are no better in that they suffer from the same emptiness.  No vision.  Thats where the church stands in and and cast the vision of God before His people in order that they may get a vision for themselves, their marriage, their family, etc. If we want to stop the perishing in our communities then we the church must begin to cast the vision of God but before we can do that we must first have a vision of God ourselves.