Friday, September 30, 2011




On a frosty night in Boston the man I married walked into our family room and said, “We could move to England for a few years, if you would like.” My Humanities graduate mind and heart felt like they would explode with happiness at this new possibility - and then we were there! leaving behind the place we had determined we would live and be happy in forever. After living north of London for two years and then moving to California, Washington, Utah and now Santa Barbara, I now, finally, know why.

Katherine the Great, my Katherine the Great, was born there. “Could it be” that she, who has been called, by her family, since she was born, “Queen of the Universe,” had to be? Did she have to literally be born on the land where Queens have ruled for centuries, as a symbol that would breathe up into her soul forever; a place that has called to her ever since, and continued to bring her back, as a student and as a traveler, to her “homeland.” Did she need to know that her name was shared by three of King Henry VIII’s wives, the French Queen, Katherine de’ Medici, two Empresses of Russia, one of the first Christian Saints, Catherine of Alexandria? Did she need to find out later in her life that she is actually a descendant of King Henry VIII and Robert the Bruce? Did her middle name, Rushforth, an Ole 7th Century English surname, “river crossing by the rushbeds,” help her find the hidden path she would have to take in her life? Did her first name need to mean “Pure’? Did her English surname need to mean “Champion?”


Shakespeare’s Polonius said to Laertes, “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow – as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man…my blessing season this in thee.” We all knew, from the very start, that Katherine had the God-ordained responsibility to the world to be “true to her queenly self.”

A day in the life of the Queen: Four sisters are playing princesses. Katherine is two years old and smaller than most two years olds. She is informed by her eldest sister that she will be playing the part of Princess. She furrows her brow and loudly proclaims across the “land” of our livingroom, “I’m the Queen!” All the sisters immediately agreed that she, indeed, must be The Queen. This is how it all began and Katherine has remained true to this God-ordained mission, to come to earth and forevermore, wherever she is, be The Queen. Her parents and nine other siblings can testify, most assuredly, that she has been “true to herself” all her days. We have been taking royal commands from her since she was tiny and have all been blessed by her power wielded across the years of our lives. Her father said once, “I never have any problems with Katherine because I always do what she says.”

Among friends: There was no toleration for bad language, immodesty or signs of lack of devotion to God. She had the courage to reprimand and encourage in an effort to bring out the best in others.

Going Back: In the sixth grade, Lady (one of her appropriate nicknames) all of a sudden discovered she could not read. Not possible … remember …”I’m the Queen!” Through sacrifice and diligence and a God-sent friend, Katherine began to read. She grabbed hold of her dyslexia and put it out in front of her and “commanded” it to serve her – and it obeyed. This forging through, however, was not done without significant collateral damage---self esteem plummet.

Another “could it be?” - “Could it be” that Katherine needed to have her Queen’s place in the world securely in her heart and emblazoned into her soul to make it through what would be a rocky climb through paths of astonishment and discouragement as she forged her way over the next sixteen years?

… and then I find myself sitting next to my son, whose academic achievements were accomplished with comparative ease, at Katherine’s graduation from college. He looks across at his sister, in a huge field of graduates, and says, “What Katherine has achieved is monumental and makes anything I have accomplished pale into insignificance.” A Bachelors of Fine Arts in English, which would have frightened off any other dislexic mind - but not hers - because she allowed her queenly mind to overrule the voice of the people who were looking up at the castle and saying, “Not possible!” - and now she is conquering new territories to be able to teach English and let her “story” and “champion” spirit bless the lives who will be honored to enter her river crossing through the rushbeds.

Now: Powerful everything. Powerfully influential, powerfully righteous, powerfully bright, spectacularly entertaining, an inspired and inspiring artist, a highly perceptive confidant, deeply loving, endlessly devoted to God and perfectly “true to herself.” Whatever there is to do or be in life, she does it with, and “is” the essence of Magnificence.

It has been our family privilege to watch what can happen when, just “as the night follows the day,” a child is true to God, herself and all mankind.


To find out all the “could it be’s”- symbolically and in reality - in our children’s lives – and to look for the miracles and angels – and all that continue to announce into our hearts that the hand of God is everywhere as we strive to teach young ones to find the “self” that God is continually opening “all” our eyes to see. (“Could it be” the entire reason we moved to Seattle was so Katherine could one day be playing with the daughters of Rojean Garnica, a renown reading specialist/therapist. “Could it be” that we moved to England to meet Anita Debney, a revered and trusted friend who is a champion for the betterment of children’s lives, who was first to reveal to the world the reality of Katherine’s great soul.) Could it be, Could it be….

Katherine – Rushforth – Nelson

Pure - Path Finder - Champion

American Queen

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


painting by Yin Ping Zheng


Etched in the heart of the Moon are the many moments my children and I have stood at a bedroom window, before going to sleep and said, “Moon, Moon!” and as they grew older, “The Moon is shining!,” which opened their hearts to speak of all the wonderful things that were important at that time in their young lives. Decades of children’s hearts have now passed through my heart and I still, before going to bed, look up and proclaim, “The Moon is shining on us tonight!” Recently, after a year long trial, with no apparent end in sight, I looked up at the Moon, and said, “The Moon is not shining on us anymore…” I then closed the blinds and went to sleep. The very next day the year of “Faith’s struggle to rise above Fear,” ended. I think the Lord did not want me thinking the Moon was not shining on us….even for one night…I will never close my blinds again….

Friday, September 23, 2011

Signs of Life

Rejoice in the “signs of life” around you. You walk in the door and see shoes, coats and backpacks …you walk in family room and see books, papers and toys ….you go in the kitchen and see dishes and food strewn around…. beautiful signs that people are “living.” The abundant life is filled with these “signs.”


Open the oven…a bright red ball

No one will answer any phone call

Swimming in milk dumped on the floor

Coats and shoes bursting out the door

Laundry piled high upon the bed

Paint bucket spilling on top your head

Mud tracks across a bright, clean floor

Open a door…hear music roar

Glass window broken by thrown baseball

Wrestling children end up in a brawl

Rubbing the butter all over your face

Stepping in honey all over the place

Applesauce flung up on the walls

Hide and seek players up and down the halls

Chaos and crashing and breaking and sighing

Life at its best is both funny and trying

The “signs of life” are bright and wild

Accompanying the gift of every child

Witness of their stirring soul

Creating stories to be told

Of brilliant life lived full and free

Expanding all possibility

And when life’s song is sung at last

The “signs of life” will bless the past

Treasures rare in the behold

That bless the lives of young and old

….Songs to sing, souls to grow

Hearts to love as life unfolds…

by Karen Nelson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

…If they cry there is a reason…


I have never been able to let my babies “just” cry. All my life I have been exposed to opinions, spoken or written, about how “crying at night” helps babies get used to sleeping through the night, at nap time – or in times of distress. I do not believe a parent should deprive little ones of feedings and other forms of care to achieve a goal, heralded by many, that can cause psychological, emotional, physical and mental distress or trauma.

If a baby cries there is a reason. A child has limited options. Regardless of what the problem may be, the form of communication between baby and parent is singular…crying. I often find it hard to sleep at night. When I have a bad dream, I get up and walk around and say to myself, “It wasn’t real,” until I believe it. When I am hungry, I make toast. When I am uncomfortable, I roll from one side to the other. When I can’t turn my brain off, I read. When I am in pain, I take medicine. When I itch, I scratch. When I am lonely, I snuggle up to someone I love. When I am depressed, I ask people who love me to listen to me. When any of these things happen to a baby, they cry. Until a child is old enough to make it “their job” to take care of these things – it is “our job.”

I do not believe that a tiny infant, or even an older child, is trying to fiendishly manipulate, control or enslave a parent by expressing their needs or wants. I believe that children have real needs and wants – real ones. Their cry is their voice – their only voice.

An experience: My husband and I were required to travel for his business for a couple of days. We left our child, who was a little under one year of age, with someone we trusted. The people we left our child with had little ones of their own to care for and, because of that, were unable to care for our child as we had hoped. To my dismay and horror, when I returned they told me that our child cried the whole time we were gone. They said they finally laid him in a playpen and “just” let him cry because they didn’t know what else to do. This child, upon our return, glued himself to my body and “soul” for years after that. He literally had to be next to me every second. When I would drive, I would have to set him as close to me as was possible. When I would cook, he would be on the counter, cracking eggs open for me. If we were in public, he would never leave my side and did not want anyone talking to him. For his emotional security it was required that we become one person. I remembered, gratefully, my mother’s advice to “wear your babies on your hip for two years and saturate them with love.” This was not just a good idea. In this case, it was a necessity.

I know that this one experience changed my child’s life forever. Imagine the fear – all of a sudden away from the familiar arms of his mother - now in a foreign land – an unfamiliar playpen -deprived of the love and care, and perhaps even the physical nourishment needed – with no evidence that his present situation would ever change. It must have felt like a hopeless eternity in the dark. This was damage that would never be undone. As the mother, I have seen the negative effects even into his adulthood. My personal heartache is something that has never been undone, either.

Fear is the outcome of unmet needs and wants in a small child. Making a small child secure by meeting his wants and needs, at a very young age, relieves the fear and allows the child to be able to devote his life to learning and growing. He does not have devote all his attention to wondering if someone will come, as he lays there, completely helpless, on his back, waving his arms and legs around, crying. He knows his mother or father will always be there for him. He then can stretch and work and learn and laugh and become a child of wonder and joy, relieved of the burden of fear – full of faith in a bright future.

Love is the answer. How can deprivation of love in the form of withholding the care we should give be the answer? Despite all the literature or talk show opinions, or fad-parenting ideas, there is not one person alive that doesn’t know, deep down in their soul, that letting a child “just” cry is wrong. I have heard of mothers going to other parts of their homes, curling up in a corner and plugging their ears --- crying – trying to adhere to the newest, most popular idea being circulated among new mothers. God gave your child to you – not to “them”. He gave you the keys to raise your child. We should trust our hearts, listen to our own inner voice, listen to God. Every child has different emotional and physical needs. The freedom that comes from trusting yourself and God while you raise a child is a liberation of the heart and soul that can only bless the lives of your children and family.

If they cry, pick them up. Look into their eyes. Listen to your heart. Your will discover your child’s voice speaking to you. You will hear and respond and be able to raise a secure, loving and happy child.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Mother's Journey

This is a talk I gave for my Church Congregation. I thought I'd share it with you as well...

I grew up in Santa Barbara and we returned a year ago, after living twice in California, twice in Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, London, and Utah… But I would like to talk about our real journey. Shortly after my first child was born, I looked at my beautiful baby daughter, Darci, and felt paralyzed with fear.

I had been reading every book I could find on child-raising, I had been listening to advice from family and friends and then---all of a sudden ---I realized there were so many voices in my mind telling me what to do, that I did not know which to listen to. So I went to my husband and told him how I felt. He looked at me, in the eyes, and said, Karen. Who did God give this child to? Did he give her to Sally or Carol or Wendy. No, he gave her to you. That means that he trusts you to raise this child and has given you everything you need to be able to do it. When he said this I felt the spirit grow within me and confirm to my heart that this was true. It felt like I had wings to fly with. From that moment on I knew God and I could raise this child together… I trusted what was deep inside my heart – the small voice that spoke of the subtleties of the soul. It made perfect sense. Who has the history? From the very first breath taken we love them, anyway, watch them carefully, laugh with them, cry with them, pray over and for them, spend time with them, deal with them and work with them at 3 a.m. in the morning on the science project they forgot to tell us about that was due yesterday. The stories of their lives and the essence of who they really are – are the writings on walls of our hearts …..and I look to God and realize that these tiny, inadequate histories held within our souls are dwarfed to almost insignificance by the eternities of history written on the palms of the hands of our eternal parents….My husband’s life-changing “opening of my mind“ taught me to reach up to heaven and join the histories that could then guide and direct a child’s journey - and the freedom I was emancipated into was exhilarating. I felt like God and I had literally joined hands to tend his sheep. I continued to listen and learn, not to the “current parenting fads of the day- voices” but from inspired teachers and writers – but I knew that God was counting on me - -to make the final call about what was uniquely best for each spectacularly different child. His work and his glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man – was also my work and my glory.

I was once asked what the best advice I could give about raising children. I immediately knew. It is to study your child. Find out who they really are so you can help them discover and value all the gifts that are uniquely theirs. I have a son who is a gifted artist and I was forever reaching into the trashcan and uncrumpling beautiful works of art to frame on the wall. I asked him why he did this and he said --0h – anyone can do that – and I assured him not anyone could. I found that I was forever teaching my children that what they could do was very special and not just a gift from God --but a sacred trust between them and their Heavenly Father to develop, value and use to bless others --all their lives. Every parent, if they did not know better, would absolutely testify that each of their children came from different planets. …and this was always proof to me of a preexistence. Each child so uniquely themselves – and if allowed to truly explore that uniqueness, be free to spend their lives honoring God by becoming all they can be. It is one of my favorite things about my whole life – watching them figure out what God was talking about when He stood back and said…Oh look at my Vivian – isn’t she magnificent – she is going to bless the lives of so many with her boundless energy and creativity when she goes to earth… Oh look at Henry – he is going to help others find their way back to me with the sunshine of his devoted soul. God loves what he creates. In the movie, “Enchanted,” a man asks the prince if he likes himself – he looks side to side and then answers, “What’s not to like?” That is how God wants us to feel and He works tirelessly to help us see what he sees in us. He keeps pulling out our crumpled papers keeps hanging them on the walls of heaven….and then says –Look up! I heard beautiful words spoken by a new niece at her wedding dinner. She said, “ I am so grateful to Debbie and Preston for raising Jarom to be such an amazing person…and then she said--- and I want to thank my parents for doing such a great job raising me – because I think I am pretty amazing, too. I know that made God happy.

Through the years I have kept certain words very close to me- in my mothering. They are: “there’s always a story” --- and ----“don’t take it personally.”--- “Signs of Life” – which means- enjoy the backpacks thrown on the entry way floor and cereal bowl and nachos everywhere --because they are happy signs that people you love are still all around you -----“ At least you are not giving birth to a baby in a tree” – which actually happened.…---my Mom saying –“wear your little ones on your hip for the first two years of their lives and saturate them with love.…” My Dad saying - “if it works- do it…”------“Bunny Box Behavior”—which are the every day tussles between little ones that make them strong enough one day to leave the safety of bunny ---…or “age appropriate behavior” which is what you say when you don’t want to be responsible for the ridiculous behavior of a child..------and “come unto me”– written upon my heart. But there came a time when all of a sudden – all the voices and words all went away and I could only hear one sound….my own voice, in a closet, sending tears and anxious words up to heaven in a desperate plea to save the spiritual life of one of my children. I had read in the scriptures about the wolves coming after the sheep and I remember, after a year of doing every thing I knew to help my child –I found myself once again in my closet asking the Lord – how can I save my sheep. I then felt words that made me remember something deeply important….the words were: “These are not your sheep – they are our sheep.” All of a sudden I had a vision of heavens hosts surrounding my child and I knew I was not alone in my battle against the wolves. I was magnificently not alone. I stood up and felt like there was an entire army behind me – that were just as interested as I was in the salvation of the soul of a loved one – bringing to mind the words of Elisha to his servant that transformed a heart of fear to faith when faced with the armies of Syria surrounding Dothan - “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

My mother’s journey from two many voices and not enough voices brought me to another voice that spoke words I feel shining in my heart everyday. We were blessed to be able to pull down from heaven ten of God’s masterpieces. With that blessing came the inevitable and outright chaos of raising a large family. I noticed that all the beautiful energy of young ones was somewhat manageable, at times, in large spaces- but was completely unmanageable on a hard church bench for three hours. My husband travelled a lot with work and church callings. So, it was usually just me with the cheerios and toys and legs and arms flying through the air. Being at church was something I began to fear and dread – a place where I walked the halls for three hours with children in my arms and around my legs ---year after year after year– walking the halls. One time, in the hall, I looked up to heaven and I said, ”I better get something good out of this – this is really, really hard and I am always, always here-- I never miss – ever – so I want some serious blessings out of this! A few years went by and I found myself once again, in the hall – and I had a voice come into my mind that said, “The blessing you will receive is that all your children will be true to the Lord all their lives.” My very next thought was – I would walk these halls for ninety years to have that blessing upon my children. So whenever I see young mothers in the halls – I tell them --“keep walking” ----

My husband and I have now been on our parenting journey for 36 years. When we contemplate these years we find ourselves often saying, “Well, we did our terrible best” ---it may not have been that great – but our best is all we had. This makes me grateful for the gift of highest value that any of us have ever received….interestingly enough – the gift of a child – our Heavenly Father’s child to mend the damage and heal the heartaches from our “best”– the power in the love created in the treading of the winepress alone -making it so we are not left at the bottom of the ocean with our millstone crimes. The balm of Gilead pouring over our children’s hearts to sooth the sorrow and allow us all, parents and children alike, to receive the brightness that comes from the healing of hearts…..all our hearts…..

I had an experience that taught me of healing. In the book, “The Art of Mending,” by Elizabeth Berg, I read something that I have treasured ever since. Quote “My relatives still make fun of me for my love of things domestic, especially my Aunt Fran, who, whenever we visit, always tells me she’s saved her ironing and mending for me. As for mending, I think it’s good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away. You get to see the whole process through, beginning to end, nothing abstract about it. You’ll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there’s an art to mending: ---if you’re careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is a testimony to its worth.” I had an experience that made me understand this idea personally. I have a favorite painting that I found while we lived in Boston. It is easily over 100 years old and over the years has become ever more dear to me. One day someone was playing ball with our dog, near the painting. There was a candle burning on the table below it. The ball hit the candle and hot wax sprayed all over the painting. I grabbed my painting and my daughter, who was in the next room, and dragged them both into my bedroom. Through tears, I looked up into my daughter’s eyes, holding my ruined painting and plead, “Tell me my painting is just a “thing”, Please!” She consoled me in an inspired way and we went on with the evening that involved entertaining, with a smile, a house full of relatives and friends. Later that night, in the middle of the night, when everyone was asleep, I brought my painting out and laid it on the counter under bright lights. I worked, for hours, to lift the wax off the painting. Finally, I had done all that I could do. I stood back and looked at it….it wasn’t the same…. But it was still beautiful, and in light of what I learned about “the art of mending,” it had become more beautiful, because now it had all the marks of my efforts to restore it, which was in the end, a “testimony to its worth.”……and I realized that this is what the Lord does - looks at his masterpiece, --beaten, battered and bruised by life….and through tears of compassion, under the bright lights of His love, works tirelessly, in the garden, on a tree…to ultimate victory…His work and His glory…carefully, painstakingly peeling the wax away – and there we stand –tended and mended - even more glorious – His work to restore us emblazoned into our soul – the ultimate testimony of our infinite worth.

We are each very uniquely ourselves for a reason and if we open our hearts and the hearts of our children and learn to look to God and live – we will all, by being true to ourselves and God, make the difference on earth God wants us to make. We are here for a reason. I am grateful we can help each other discover those reasons.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

No Defense Against Love


Since there is no defense against the greatest power on earth, if you keep at it, you will win. If you have offended someone beyond imaginable repair…begin imagining…it may even take years, but you will break them down with the determined, unwavering demonstrations of your love….the power is too great…the human spirit will succumb.


In the movie, “Always,” there is a line, “The love we hold back is the only pain that follows us here.” When we choose not to love, we lose and regret. When we choose to love, we gain and find joy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


My great grandmother sat there all alone
In her room filled with pictures and clutters of home
I asked her one day of her long blessed life
And she began a long story of her joy and her strife
But before she began she reached carefully behind
And pulled out a quilt with her strong aged hand
This quilt I had seen in pieces and parts
But I never had asked what had been at the heart
Now I could see it was magnificently whole
And that each tiny section was a part of her soul
There was linen and lace, there was denim and cotton
There was chintz and muslin, crepe, silk and satin
Each tiny piece was so carefully stitched
Into patterns and sections with colors so rich
She told me of hundreds of quilts she’d created
How each’d served a purpose – and how many they’d aided
Some were to celebrate a birth or a wedding
Some for harsh winters, a warm, comfort bedding
And still others were quilted for dear ones passed on
A grandmother, a father, or an infant child gone
But this one was special – she had saved it for last
To finish when old, to record the past
Each little section told of her special journey
Each tiny piece had its lesson and learning
But before she embarked on her precious life story
I had in my mind one curious query,
“Why was each quilt such a work of art, {I asked}
When so beautifully done, such an enormous task.”
Then great grandma spoke words I’ll never forget,
“We created the beauty so our hearts would not break.”
In an instant a chord was struck in my heart
One I never had heard, one that never will part
The beauty created from the dust and the ashes
A weave of life pieces into radiant sashes
From bits of this, from pieces and parts
Creating in the end the fabric of hearts
And the beauty that’s left behind us will tell
If we endured to endure or if we endured it well
With my finding so new and my heart all aglow
I sat at her feet now – her voice soft and low
And heard her sweet story, the quilt in her hands
I saw pieces and parts as across her hand ran
Over mountains so high, through darksome valleys so low
Through the sorrow and heartache, through the joys of her soul.

Then satin and lace, a bride to be
Eternity stretched past all she could see
She forward must go, leaving family of old
To build her own family, her new love to hold
At the crossroads of life, she sang a new song
Love’s joys bittersweet … as new joy came along

And then a new dawning took place in her soul
All of life took new meaning, when new life she did hold
A baby, amazing, how could God give such gifts
And toward heaven, in gratitude, her babe she did lift
And promised the Lord he would someday return
That she’d teach him and love him, and of God he would learn
Then tenderly she rocked him and taught him of light
Singing songs of the angels all through the night.

Then all at once my great grandma was crying
Then laughing, then reeling, then giggling, then sighing
The quilt story now was progressing through children
The parenting portion that was always bewildering
And, oh, the great stories she told of those days
Of wrestling boys and all their rascally ways
And of angels and fairies and princes, princesses
Of costumes, surprises and pink girlie dresses
She spoke of uniqueness, that was etched in each soul
Of magnificent traits that created the whole
And how direction and guidance were part of our charge
But how children, being preexistent, were like moving a barge
How predicting their outcome, one always could try
But ultimately you throw up your hands with a sigh.

I watched her hands now move across some dark colors
I saw she was trembling, saw her eyes grow much duller
She spoke of the hardship of day to day living
How hard it was sometimes to keep giving and giving
She said she was strengthened each day from on high
Until all at once she felt her heart die
Her daughter, so sweet and still oh so young
Was taken away before life’s song was sung
It was then that she wondered how to cope through the black
It was then that she wondered if God had now turned his back
But gathering her all she reached deeper and higher
And found He was there, a light brighter than fire
That warmed her and healed her and taught her new strength
Brought peace to her soul and joy at length

And then a huge section of sunrises and sets
That brought on a myriad of joys and upsets
There were marriages, grandchildren, the joy of posterity
A fulness of life, a time of great gaiety
College and missions, children coming and going
Then suddenly it stopped, without anyone knowing
They kept going and going ‘til no one was left
And then much too quiet was the empty nest.

Then bright color patches, a weave of friends
A lifetime of loved ones – bonds that never end
The sharing together – the strengthening power
Of friendships that deepen hour by hour
And how in the end when all is said and done
It’s the memories preserved from those days in the sun
That brought light to the eye and a tear of gladness
And a strange sort of happy, along with a sadness.

Finally we came to the end of her story
And I looked at great grandma, her countenance of glory
And I knew in an instant she had a message profound
After such a great life, I knew she had found
The answer to living, I knew it was there.
So I quietly asked her – her soul to bare
She got so excited, for of this she was sure
“It’s the moment,” she said, simple and pure
It’s the moment, each moment – one by one
To be lived to the fullest – like a race to be won
Each moment the greatest, the greatest of all
And that was her message, her final call
And there it was before my eyes
Written in her quilt, her message so wise
There they all were, moments lived so well
A brilliant life – such a story to tell
So right then and there I took the secret to heart
And vowed that my quilt would right from the start
Be filled with great moments - each blessed one
The fabric of my life woven in the sun.

Written by Karen Nelson