so long, 2014

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m home today; I expected to be at work, but woke up feeling fabulous…except for an intensely sore throat.  Since I am the lady at work who sends out memos telling staff not to come in sick, I decided to follow the rule and stay home.  So my day is about rest, fluids, and saltwater gargles.  What a great chance to do some year-end reflection!

There are fewer than 12 hours left in 2014.  Where did the year go?  WordPress sent me a summary of my 2014 blogs – it wasn’t a very bloggy year for Karen.  I posted 59 times, with most of those happening in January.  I had 3 full months of no blogs at all, and another 3 months with just one blog each.  Late in 2014 I signed up for a writer’s course through Jeff Goins, who was my editor over at, a place where I used to greatly enjoy both reading and writing.  My hope was that this might get me back in the groove, writing-wise.  To be honest, I haven’t even begun that course, but thankfully, I can access it at my convenience.  I want that to happen in 2015.  Since doing is better than saying, though, I won’t tarry long at what I want my writing to be.

Rather, I’d like to pick up 2014, look it over a bit, and wring the last goodies out of it.

Body Stuff  Can’t do New Year’s stuff without thinking about weight issues, eh?  Honestly:  I am deeply disappointed in my “body journey” in 2014.  The previous 3 years had been largely about learning to love my body, and pressing into that practice.  The wheels went off of that bus in 2014.  Major bummer.  I really thought I had internalized that stuff to the point where I wouldn’t go back again.  The major trigger for my backslide has been the arthritis in my feet, which largely kept me from running or even walking for exercise. I have worked on a lot of remedies.  I have found that if I take Spirulina and wear Sketchers GoWalk shoes, it can mostly be managed.  But amidst floundering for solutions, I also over-ate, ate badly, and sat around too much, causing major weight gain.  I’m not the heaviest I’ve ever been, but it ain’t good, and the extra weight means any day I am on my feet more than usual, the arthritis turns up the pain several notches and sidelines me again.  It’s a nasty cycle and I’m not fighting well, either in choices or in attitudes and thought patterns.  I feel bad, not just emotionally, not just a self-esteem thing, but I feel pain and discomfort in my body most of the time.  This feels like a stupid place to be, when I have learned so much and been to such wonderful places along the way.

This was also the year of the great Poison Oak adventure, which took me out of work for a full week and left me operating at substandard levels for a couple of weeks after that.  I have scarring from this round, but also seem to have found some solutions that will hopefully mean this was my last time for that particular brand of misery.

Still, the news is not all negative on the body front.  At some point late in the year, I came to the conclusion that God is really working on me to love my body exactly as it is.  Yes, the biggest part of love is DOING, and I’m not doing yet.  But another part is feelings, and I think He’s pushing me to stop hating my appearance with such vehemence.  I’m not there.  But I feel the prodding and I’m sort of feeling around in the dark, trying to find my way out of the self-loathing.  I have realized that I’m further along it than some folks who are much more fit than I am, in the simple fact that I can let my husband love me just as I am, and not go into hiding/retreat mode in an effort to protect myself from the pain of his seeing/experiencing my too many pounds.  I’ve noticed there are some pretty nice looking folks who let little bits of extra weight wall them off from the affection of a spouse.  So when I feel like I’m never gonna get this, I remember:  I’m not failing on this point.

Church Stuff  Years ago I learned that whether I “get fed” at my church or not depends mostly on my own attitudes and efforts.  Years ago I learned that church is not a product for me to consume, nor a theoretical practice awaiting my judgment and critical eye.  Years ago I learned that my rage at everything that was going wrong in the church (the “greater” church) was an arrogant waste of my own personal resources.  Having learned all that, it is extra fun to have sort of stumbled into a church that seems practically custom-designed to make my heart bounce.  I really, really love my church.  This was I think my third year there, and it was a year of stepping up.  I joined more service teams.  I took over leading the hospitality ministry, which brought me onto the leadership team.  I took on some administrative duties. I got to give the message on several Sunday mornings.  I also got to take part in our first-ever Royal Family Kids Camp for abused and neglected foster kids, an experience that satisfied me, stretched me, grew me, challenged me, humbled me, and left me excited to do it again.

Work Stuff  My annual evaluation is coming up in January; I have started the process of doing my own self-evaluation in preparation for that.  I have met some goals beautifully and fallen flat on others.  This was a glorious year for improving my filing system; in 2014, I pulled every page out of every drawer or notebook and evaluated it:  shred, pitch, put right back, or file differently.  That was a tedious process, but I now feel like I know my job much better, for it. It increased my self-confidence and sense of authority and ownership for my position. I am always seeking to improve every process at work (process improvement gives me a rush – it’s my own special nerd realm) and this was a year of much success.  I also got a vision for other improvements in 2015, which makes my heart pitter-pat.  I am blessed to love my job, and blessed to have a boss and coworkers who encourage and support me even when I make mistakes, which is a frequent thing (I don’t even understand having the goal to “make no errors” – it’s an unreasonable goal, IMHO, and mistakes cement lessons for me better than success does, in general.)

The stuff I fell flat on, I guess I’ll evaluate to measure:  should I add it again for 2015, or release it?

Home and Garden Stuff  Having lived with friends for some time, in May of 2014 we moved out to rent a house of our own.  We loved living with our friends, but in the end, I wanted enough space for my kids to stay with us when they are in town, and I wanted my very own kitchen.  We had a list of hopeful items as we thought about moving out.  I was tired of defrosting my car, and wanted a garage or at least covered parking.  Ability to do laundry on the premises was a non-negotiable, in my mind – I’ve done plenty of laundromat time in my days and just wasn’t willing to go back.  We were determined to have at least two bedrooms.  And I was dreaming of details like the space and permission for gardening, as well as gloriously uncarpeted floors.  Let me note that these are all very “first world” desires, and the raving liberal in me feels a little bad about that; still, it was what we wanted. (Okay, it was mostly what KAREN wanted – Gary would joyfully live in a cardboard box, but he’s happy to want what I want, in general!)  God supplied a lovely duplex rental that fit the bill, and even added the bonus of a covered deck with french doors just off the dining room – yes, I am spoiled rotten.

Happily, the landlords let us grow a garden.  They asked that we start out small.  We spent the summer proving that we are not Growers of an Ugly Weed Patch, and now we have permission to expand it next summer.  I am already dreaming that dream!  Along the house, we grew oregano and basil and parsley and lemon balm, along with banana peppers and zucchini and chives and a bunch of ornamental plants.  In the main garden, we grew sweet peas and sugar peas and cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers and a variety of greens and some kind of crazy tiny hot peppers, along with cabbage and broccoli and butternut squash.  It was entirely too much for the space we had allotted, so picking was an awkward tip-toeing between the plants.  We had bug problems, and the fence we built kept the deer out, but didn’t deter a mama bunny from raising her two kits inside the garden.  Still, it was fun and I can’t wait to do it on a bigger scale next year.

This year I delved just a tiny bit into fermenting (kefir and kombucha and pickles), with big plans to do much more next year.  We made homemade cheese, and discovered it is a maddeningly tedious and slow, laborious process.  We’ll perhaps do a bit more, but probably aren’t destined to be regular cheese makers.  We canned quite a bit of salsa, and will do a lot more next summer.

We got a compost bucket for the kitchen counter and a compost bin for beside the garden; the bucket was a huge success, but we didn’t stir the bin very well.  Plenty of room to grow on that one.  I got Gary a couple of bunnies as a Hannukah gift; I expect they will be uhh contributing heartily to the compost process.

I also put in some perennial decorative plants and am dreaming of quite a few more, and there is a walkway made of round stones mostly buried in our yard, which I intend to dig up and surround with rock.  Plans.  Aren’t they fun?

Family Stuff In 2011 – 2013, I got the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with my parents once a week, on the night I was in town for my meeting with my prayer partner.  That got derailed in 2014 by some changes in schedule and the logistics of Gary and I sharing a car.  I miss it.  I haven’t figured out how to make it back into a regular thing.

My son Caleb got engaged at the end of 2014, much to the delight and joy of his mother. I wasn’t waiting and pining for him to get a wife, but he made it a source of my heart’s celebration as he chose a lovely girl who fits easily into our family and clearly will be good FOR him and TO him (and hey…she likes ME too…and that does a mom’s heart good!)  I am tickled that they will be married this spring, and happy for them (though a bit sad for me) that they will be moving to Seattle or Portland in late summer.

Our granddaughter Eliana grew beautifully this year; she is a full two years of wonder and delight.  We got to visit her, and she got to visit us, and in between we relied heavily on FaceTime.  I am excited that her dad will be finishing up at seminary this spring; at that point, the Methodist Church will place him somewhere in Illinois, which means they should live closer and we should see more of them in the year to come.  *Insert wild cheering here.*

I am WAY overdue to visit my brother in Phoenix, and Gary would like us to visit former JPUSA family members in California as well.  Between that and Caleb’s move, it seems the Buchanans need to make a deliberate travel budget for the coming year.

We got to visit our JPUSA family in 2014, but not enough.  Some of them visited us as well, but not enough.  I’m hoping 2015 will contain more JPUSA time.

In an unexpected turn of events, God challenged me in August to make amends with my ex-husband.  It took me a lot of weeks to gather the courage to even TRY, and then it was like He had gone ahead of me and kicked down all obstacles – just a pleasant conversation, followed by a heavy weight lifting off of me, which I didn’t even know I carried.  God is awesome, and it’s great to be at peace on this front.

I don’t know where to quit, when it comes to reporting family stuff.  I’ll leave people out, no matter how much I write.  Perhaps that’s enough family news for this blog.

Marriage Stuff   I am really enjoying learning how to be a wife.  As of today, we are 1 year and 136 days into married life (I kept our wedding countdown tracker on my phone and it just marches on) and though we’ve navigated difficulties and negotiated differences of opinion and undergone the sometimes ugly process of healing together, we’ve yet to have had a fight.  This continues to astonish me.  I didn’t know it was possible to remain so focused on putting the other first.  I didn’t really understand how fully the benefit of the doubt could be applied before this past year and a half.  The word/theme God gave me for 2014 was “speak forth” and the element of that that applies to my marriage has challenged me greatly.  I have learned how to talk when I want to run, how to talk when I can’t avoid crying through the words, how to talk when I am absolutely (but wrongly) 100% certain that speaking my heart will surely ruin everything forever.  I have learned how to be gentle and friendly and open-minded when discussing things not going the way I think they should – how not to be so demanding and manipulative.  I have learned that there is a bottomless well of grace I can tap for every interaction, if only I will avail myself of it.

Really, Gary should get most of the credit for the not fighting thing.  He truly is the most gentle and giving man I have ever met.  I learn from him every single day.  I don’t think I’ll ever “grow up” to be as cool as him, but I sure do aspire to it.

I’m sure there are whole other volumes I could write from 2014, but WordPress says I am nearing 2500 words now, which I feel is probably the outer limit of tolerance for even the most patient blog reader.  Signing off for now…next blog should focus on vision for 2015.


  1. Cindy Maynard says:

    Loved reading about the highlights of your year. I learn from you 🙂 always!!!!

  2. Shane says:

    I am so Gr8fl to see you sharing again. I always get so much from you. Thank you and Happy New Year!!!

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