Interview Friday with Karen Smith!

TGIF!!! Back to school season is already taking it's toll on this mom! I look forward to Friday as much as my kids do. 

Today, please welcome my friend Karen Smith! Karen has such a great story of endurance and steadfast love, and what that looks like for her within her family. As you move into your weekend, I hope you enjoy this interview from my friend Karen!

Karen Head Shot Purple Chair.jpg

 

Q. In three sentences or less, tell us about yourself.

Karen married her high school sweetheart, Zine, in 1994 and moved to Madison, Alabama in 1997 where she began serving as Children’s Minister and Women’s Ministry Leader for several years before coming home to be a stay at home mom.  Karen is a homeschooling mama and caregiver with a great big heart for loving not only her family but others in stressful situations.  She loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs…not the cups….just the eggs, trees, and pumpkins!

 

Q. How long have you been writing, and what do you enjoy most about writing?

I began writing about eight years ago when my husband was diagnosed with MS.  At first, my writing was a way to communicate medical facts so that I did not have to repeat them again and again.  About three years ago as life fell apart, God prompted my heart to blog regularly of our faith and struggles.  Over the past couple of years, my most loved experiences are when I get to enter other’s worlds because of something I wrote.  My writing impacts someone, and they come to me with their raw heart!  Oh, how I love to meet them in their pain and give them hope that faith and struggles may leave them feeling broken, but that doesn’t mean they are damaged and disqualified.  I love to encourage them that they can have raw hearts and struggle and still be Christian and love Jesus.

 

Q. Who do you think would most love your content?

I think moms and wives would love my content, especially wives/moms who find themselves living in never-ending difficult situations.  If you have a big heart for praying, then come on over and follow my blog, because often we call on prayer warriors to intercede on our behalf.

 

Q: Tell us about your beautiful kids! How old are they, what are their favorite activities, etc.

My son Conner is about to turn 20!!!!  He is a sophomore at the University of Alabama in Huntsville trying to decide if he is going to major in Engineering or Math!  Conner has homeschooled his whole life and has just moved out into a rental house with two guys.  Changes are happening in the Smith household as he flies the nest!  Conner loves guitar and music. However, I think coffee might rank above guitar and music!    He also shares his mom’s love of Reeses’ PB eggs!

Chloe just turned 18!  Chloe is my artist.  She helps teach a couple of classes at a local art studio and has produced many pieces of art in her life for fun, for blessing others, for sale, and for auction.   Chloe has several health issues that keep her from leading an entirely normal teenage life.   Chloe has a rare diagnosis of Manifesting Carrier of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  She also struggles with severe anxiety, migraines, and celiac disease.  Aside from her art, Chloe loves senior adults.  She enjoys visiting senior adults and showering them with gifts, time and attention.

Krisann is nine years old.  That’s correct. I said I had a 20-year-old, 18-year-old AND a 9-year-old.  Krisann was most definitely not in our plans, but God knows how to give good gifts, and He gave us Krisann.  However, I must admit when I realized I was pregnant, I may have cried for several weeks.  Krisann is a delight.  She is becoming quite the little gymnast and loves the swimming pool.  Krisann is a creator.  Boxes, buttons, stickers, ribbon, etc. are continually being used to transform ordinary objects into new creations.  She decorates everything from light switches to hairbrushes, to even the refrigerator.  Krisann makes us laugh regularly with her fun-loving heart.  In public though, Krisann is shy and reserved!  She saves her craziness for home! 

I once said if I gave all three of my children a piece of paper they would all do something different with it.  Conner would fold it into an airplane or a piece of origami, Chloe would draw a picture, and Krisann would add bling to the paper!  I love how each child is unique!

Q: What are some of your favorite ways to spend your free time?

Free time?  What’s that?  I have very little free time, but if I do, you might find me watching American Ninja Warrior.  I do love to read.  However, I can only read fiction books in the summer because once I start, I can’t stop.

 

Q. You talk and often write about your husbands battle with MS. What is the greatest challenge and joy you’ve experienced through this journey with him?

The most significant challenge I have experienced?  Wow.  There have been several BIG challenges.  However, I think one of my greatest challenges through his MS is learning to receive love and care from others.  During one of my husband’s week-long chemo treatments, our pastor spent an entire week with us and helped care for my husband and offered much emotional attention to me.  This week was a life-defining experience in my life in learning to allow others to walk in dark places.  I argued, I begged to do that alone, I came up with excuses, etc.  I was not able to wiggle my way out of allowing someone to love and care for us, despite my best efforts.  That week and the next several to come were the most difficult in my life.  However, it was during those most difficult weeks that God taught me so much about who He is.  You can read about my crisis of faith in this challenging season here.  http://faithbeyondfear.com/2018/07/30/my-run-out-faith/

 

The greatest joy I’ve experienced in this journey are the tender moments that have been shared with my kids and my family.  We had cried together, prayed together, dug into our emotional struggles together, held on to faith when there was nothing left to hold on to.  There is nothing more priceless than watching your children reach out little hands and placing them on their dad and praying for him.  Many times when life was in a difficult season, we have spent evenings doing art therapy.  Painting pictures together that represent our emotions.  What a joy to be able to get a glimpse of your child’s faith in the middle of difficult.  You can read about one of our art therapy family times here.  http://www.glimpsesoffaithandstruggles.com/hearts-big-appointment/

 

Q. You have more homeschool experience than anyone I know! What is your greatest advice to moms considering homeschooling?

You know your child better than anyone else.  You know how to teach your child best.  Don’t doubt your ability--you can do it.  Please don’t think you have to operate a public school in your house.  My first few years of homeschooling I brought my education background into my living room. School was rigid and not a lot of fun.  However, when I allowed myself to put aside the public school mentality and teach my children in the best ways they learn, school became fun and bonding.  As I shared earlier, each of my children is different, and they learn differently.  Homeschooling allows me to teach them each in the way they learn best.

 

Q: If you could have an entire day to yourself, how would you spend it?

This question makes me laugh.  The truth is, I have NO IDEA!!!  I would probably rent me a hotel room, take my laptop, and get caught up or ahead on writing projects.  I’m sure that is probably NOT what you were looking for.  I can be very truthful and vulnerable right here…self-care is not my best trait.

 

For those who are new to your site, where should they start reading? (Please link to three-ish blog posts.)

Here is the first blog post that I wrote.  It is the very beginning of our journey with MS.  Start at the beginning and read all the way through if you like.

http://www.glimpsesoffaithandstruggles.com/the-ms-journey-beginning/

 

This blog post is the first post when life began to fall apart in August of 2015.  The next year of our life was an unbelievable mess. 

http://www.glimpsesoffaithandstruggles.com/nightmare-in-real-life/

 

This post is a year old but in this post it has glimpses of many of the things we have gone through over the years.

http://www.glimpsesoffaithandstruggles.com/a-less-than-dad/

Kristin Milner