Karen's Korner - Daily Inspirational Stories by Karen Weld
Browse my Site
Home
Archives
Karen's Guestbook
Search my Site



Karen's Links
Luke (Grandson)
Molly Granddaughter
Noah (Grandson)
Homeless meal ticket

Email


to Karens Korner

rss RSS Feed
Subscribing to Karens Korner will give you a new issue in your Email box almost every day
Powered by Mandriva

Powered by Apache

Powered by MySQL

Powered by PHP

I'm Karen

December 2006 Archives

Printable Issue 944  Today is Friday, December 1st, 2006; Karen's Korner #944
Something shared with readers by Jeanne Russell, telling the significance of the
 
"Twelve Days of Christmas":

Today, I found out. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribu!tion, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy,
Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.
Printable Issue 945  Today is Saturday, December 2nd, 2006; Karen's Korner #945
(Normally no Karen's Korners on Saturday, but since I missed on Tuesday, Saturday will make five for the week!
And my apologies for yesterday's Karen's Korner and the 12 Days of Christmas; one reader emailed to let me know that she had checked for the validity of the dates and the Catholic Church. The site told her that the supposed tradition is a hoax!)
 
Pat and Bob Cameron, our new friends who we met while in Branson earlier this week, wanted to let us know that the "American Dream" is still alive and well today.
 
The couple offered as evidence the Tran (pronounced TRON) family, who arrived in Branson, as Vietnamese 'boat people' in 1979. The family was sponsored by the Presbyterian Church there to get a new start. The Trans owned a restaurant in Saigon so it was only fitting that dad began as a dishwasher at a hotel in Branson.
 
Mom and a daughter began tying lures for an international company from their home and became very good at what they did. The two sons also got jobs. "The family lived about 1 1/2 miles from where Mr. Tran worked, so he walked to and from his job," said Bob. "Our church family members took turns driving Mr. Tran to work. What we didn't know is that was an insult to them and their culture. As quickly as they could, Mr. Tran bought a bicycle so that they were once again independent and on their own."
 
As soon as opportunity presented itself, the Tran family opened and operated an Oriental restaurant in the Branson area and the hard work by the entire family continued.
 
Fast forward until today. The Trans have just rented their restaurant building, which they still own, to a new Mexican restaurant, after operating their Oriental restaurant for the past 21 years. They also own an apartment building in downtown Branson, along with another commercial building. As one could probably imagine, the value of all three of their properties have increased drastically in value in the 27 years they have been in Branson, Missouri, and America.
 
They have gone from having nothing when they arrived at America's shores to being somewhat wealthy people. "This is an example of the American dream remaining alive," said Bob. "The Trans believed in hardwork; saved their money; and believed that a person can better himself or herself when they are given the opportunity."
 
The Trans family: they didn't need a handout; they needed a hand to get restarted. They took care of the rest!
 
May we all continue to learn from people like the Trans and from people willing to help others to help themselves!!
Printable Issue 946  Today is Monday, December 4th, 2006; Karen's Korner #946
This is something that Pam Meeder emailed to people last Christmas. It is a song that most of us may have heard on the radio sometime during the Christmas season:

The Christmas Shoes

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing 'round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe And when it came his time to pay I couldn't believe what I heard him say Chorus:
Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight
 

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes
So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out 
I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama's gonna look so great
 
Chorus:
Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight
 
Bridge:
I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about
 
Repeat Chorus 
Printable Issue 947  Today is Tuesday, December 5th, 2006; Karen's Korner #947
A week or so ago I told my Sunday School class that some of the things I witness or experience people saying or doing are "snippets" of what heaven will be like some day.
 
I think I used to wrongly put some people on pedestals or overly admire their Christian behavior. Sometimes I have had that done to me:  wonderful comments, but I know I will let another person down sooner or later; or let myself down with some unkind deed, word, or thought.
 
We can't be all the things we want to be! A minister of a large church in Colorado just confessed of some kinds of less-than-the-best behaviors. But does that nulify all the good things that he was able to do for Christ and His Kingdom? Snippets of his relationship with, and as a follower of Christ.
 
We have a young man who was raised in our church family and community who has been a missionary in Africa for more than twenty years. Right now the family has returned to the United States and they are struggling with family issues, and the young man is struggling with personal problems. Does that mean that nothing that the family has accomplished in that foreign country is worthwhile? Snippets of what heaven will be like is what they left behind.
 
I enjoy watching a family bring their grandchildren to Sunday School each Sunday because otherwise the young people wouldn't be there at all. Snippets of heaven.......
 
I learned that someone I admire had said some unkind things to and about another person who was only trying to do the best she could in a situation. The friend I look up to has since apologized to the other person for what she did and said. Snippets of heaven.......
 
I see people who help others with no thought of their time and/or check book. Snippets of what heaven will be like full time.
 
Oh, these same people will let me down, let themselves down, and let God down, but we never signed on for perfection! We only signed on to be followers of One who was Perfect. So we will only see glimpses of Jesus from time to time in others and in ourselves. But the glance will be good enough to know that some day we want to be in the full-time Presence of One who could do and be everything we want for ourselves and for others.....today!
 
We might have to wait a little while for our  'snippets' to turn into 'always and forever'.
Printable Issue 948  Today is Wednesday, December 6th, 2006; Karen's Korner #948
Something forwarded to me from Joanne Schleck to add to your Christmas enjoyment. Thanks, Joanne, for sharing:
 

SIMPLE WHITE ENVELOPE      

 It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas --oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma -- the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was  wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.  These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an  assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.  For each Christmas, I followed the tradition -- one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

 

Printable Issue 949  Today is Thursday, December 7th, 2006; Karen's Korner #949
For generations people knew that God was going to send a Savior to earth. The Jews were eagerly awaiting the Messiah, but they thought he would come to save them from the powerful Roman Empire. They were ready for a military Savior, but not for a peaceful Messiah who could conquer sin.
 
It was Mary who knew what God's plan was first! And she praised God for what He was going to be doing with and through her:
 
"Oh, how I praise the Lord.
How I rejoice in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and now generation after generation forever shall call me blessed of God.
 
For he, the mighty Holy One, has done great things to me.
His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who reverence him.
How powerful is his mighty arm!
How he scatters the proud and haughty ones!
 
He has torn princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry hearts and sent the rich away with empty hands.
And how he has helped his servant Israel!
He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful.
 
For he promised our fathers --
Abraham and his children --
to be merciful to them forever."
 
~~
 
Mary's prayer of praise is sometimes called "Magnficant", the first words in the Latin translation of the passage. When Mary said, "Generation after generation forever shall call me blest of God", was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. If Mary had denied her incredible position, she would have been throwing God's blessing back to him. Pride is refusing to accept God's gifts; humility is accepting them and using them to praise and serve him. Don't deny your gifts. Thank God for them and use them to His Glory!!
 
** Taken from the Life Application Living Bible.
 
~~
Printable Issue 950  Today is Friday, December 8th, 2006; Karen's Korner #950
This is something I received from Gretta Bauman this week. "It would make a good Karen's Korner," she typed. I had seen the writing before and was sure that it had been a 'korner' another day. I did a word search on my web site (www.karens-korner.com); no, I had not used it before.
 
Many of you may have seen it; it says it is a 'true story' and it was submitted by Pastor Rod Reid, that part may or may not be true. Either way it is good Christmas reading.
 
There was lots of 'bling' at the bottom of the writing which I cut off except for a prayer for friends:
 
 "Father, God, bless all my friends and family in what
     ever it is that You know they may be needing this
    day! May their life be full of your peace, prosperity
     and power as he/she seeks to have a closer
    relationship with you. Amen."
 
~~
 
The Tablecloth

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. 
 
They worked hard repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished  On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving ainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.
 
On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall.
 
He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus.. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could  hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initial of the  woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.  The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do.. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas  Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the   spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike. He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison.. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.
 
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of  stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
 
~~
Printable Issue 951  Today is Monday, December 11th, 2006; Karen's Korner #951
I received this poem in our Christmas mail from Lu Brown, who we met while traveling in Australia and New Zealand. Lu turned 80 this year; she probably doesn't have access to, or interest in, computers and typing, so she hand printed this poem as part of her Christmas letter.
 
From Lu:
 
Can This Be Christmas?
 
What's all this hectic rush and worry?
Where go these crowds who run and scurry?
Why all the lights - the Christmas trees?
The jolly 'fat man', tell me please!
 
Why don't you know?
This is the day
for parties and fun and play;
Why, this is Christmas!
 
So thi is Christmas, do you say?
But where is Christ this Christmas Day?
Has He been lost among the throng?
His voice drowned out by empty song?
 
No, He's not here -
You'll find Him where
Some humble soul kneels in prayer,
who knows the Christ of Christmas.
 
But see the many aimless who gather on this Christmas Day,
Whose hearts have never yet been opened, or said to Him, "Come in to stay."
 
In countless homes, the candles burning
In countless hearts expectant yearning
For gifts and presents, food and fun,
and laughter till the day is done.
 
But not a tear or grief or sorrow
for Him so poor He had to borrow
A crib, a colt, a boat, a bed
Where he could lay His weary head.
 
I'm tired of all this empty celebration
of feasting, drinking, recreation;
I'll go instead to Calvary.
 
And there I'll kneel with those who know
the meaning of that manger low,
And find the CHRIST, this Christmas.
 
I leap by faith across the years
to that great day when He appears
the second time to rule and reign.
To end all sorrow, death, and pain.
 
In endless bliss we then shall dwell
with Him who saved our sould from hll,
And worship CHRIST - not Christmas!
 
~~ M.R. DeHaan, M.D.
Founder, Radio Bible Class
Printable Issue 952  Today is Tuesday, December 12th, 2006; Karen's Korner #952
This was forwarded to me by Dorothy Riekens. Anyone who has pets will really like this.  You'll like it even if you don't, and may decide you need one. I especially liked the last line:
 
 

 A BEAUTIFUL DOG STORY

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog, Lucky.  Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit, they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open, because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy.

Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.  Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's favourite toys.  Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box, and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer.  Something told her she was going to die of this disease; she was just sure it was fatal.  She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders.

The night before she was to go to the hospital, she cuddled with Lucky.  A thought struck her... what would happen to Lucky?  Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through.  If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought.  He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated, and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks.  Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and  miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital.  When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch, and left her to nap.  Lucky stood watching Mary, but he didn't come to her when she called.  It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed. When Mary awoke, for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong.  She couldn't move her head, and her body felt heavy and hot.  But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem.  She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned!  While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement, bringing his beloved mistress all his favourite things in life.  He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every night. It's been 12 years now, and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky? He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box, but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Live everyday to the fullest.  Remember, it is a blessing from God. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.  They are the ones who care.

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Printable Issue 953  Today is Wednesday, December 13th, 2006; Karen's Korner #953
Yesterday was a sad day in our town:  a 15-year-old who was killed on his way to school last Friday and his funeral was yesterday.
 
It brings back lots of thoughts of when our daughter, Merry, died. So many people cared for us in so many ways. A friend and neighbor. Judy Watne, gave our family a framed poem. Each year I put it out with our other Christmas decorations:
 
MY FIRST CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
 
To my family:
 
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away that tear.
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
 
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
but the sound of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
 
I know how much you miss me. I see th pain inside your heart,
but I am not so far away. We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me dear ones. You know I hold you dear
and be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
 
I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory of my undying love.
After all "Love" is the gift, more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
 
Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do,
for I can't count the blessings of the love He has for each of you.
So, have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
 
Love,
 
Merry Sue
 
~~
 
Feel free to insert the name of Eric Watts or some other loved one who will be spending Christmas away from home in 2006. God has a plan for each one of our lives; sometimes the plan differs from what we prefer or think is best for us and for our loved ones. God never guranteed us a certain number of years. But He did grant us "forever love and forever life". And that makes the impossible..........possible!
Printable Issue 954  Today is Thursday, December 14th, 2006; Karen's Korner #954
Sharing is one of the things I enjoy most about Karen's Korners. On Tuesday night, we had our Marys and Marthas meeting. Sue Freund shared several of her original thoughts. Here is one of her thoughts and her prayer:
 
:The Christmas Star

 With all the busyness of the Christmas season I especially like driving through neighborhoods and looking at the Christmas lights. Homes appear as magical gingerbread houses and the warmth radiates from within.

 Trees and shrubs covered in lights. Lighted candy canes, snowmen, reindeer and Santas. Angels and Nativities. I love them all. Yet my favorite of all is the Star.

 One Christmas long ago a star announced the birth of our Lord.

 “Oh Holy Night the stars are brightly shining.”

 “The First Noel the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields where they lay keeping their sheep. On a cold winters night that was so deep. They looked up and saw......a star.......shining in the east beyond them far.And to the earth it gave great light. And so it continued both day and night.

 “ We three kings from Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar. Field and fountain moor and mountain following yonder star.”

 “Oh little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie. Above the deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.”

 And of course.

 “ Away in a manger no crib for a bed the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where he lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

~~

   Dear Heavenly Father,

 We pray for peaceful solutions to wars around the world and we pray for the safety of our servicemen. We pray for the families who may be apart this Christmas. May the true meaning of Christmas be in all our hearts as the same stars shine over us all.   

 With all the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, grant us a few quiet moments to reflect on our own memories of Christmas past. Te parts we played in our very own Sunday school Christmas pageant, singing hymns with the choir, lighting candles on Christmas Eve. Let us take the time to thank all those who made these precious memories possible.

 We thank you Lord for all our blessings large and small. Even the smallest snowflake.

 If we should look up to a rooftop and see a sparkling lighted star against the dark winter sky take our thoughts back to a Christmas long ago. Thoughts of a star shinning over a stable, a manger holding a tiny baby, who would be called Jesus.

 Lord we pray here tonight that we too may follow the star to you, Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

 Amen.

~~

 Susan A. Freund       

written and prayed  December 10, 2006

~~

Printable Issue 955  Today is Friday, December 15th, 2006; Karen's Korner #955
I received this Christmas writing last year from Jim's cousin, Anleas Greene, too late to be included in a Karen's Korner. I kept it for use at Christmas time 2006.
 
 
The Last Piece
 
One Christmas we had an interesting experience that I would like to share.  Halfway through December we were doing the regular evening things when there was a knock at the door. We opened it to find a small package with a beautiful ceramic lamb nside. We looked at the calendar and realized that it was 12 days to Christmas. When the gift of a matching shepherd arrived, we realized that the lamb was part of a nativity set.

Each night we grew more excited to see what piece we would receive. Each was exquisitely beautiful. The kids kept trying to catch the givers as we slowly built the scene at the manger and began to focus on Christ's birth.

On Christmas Eve, all the pieces were in place, but the baby Jesus. My 8 year-old son really wanted to catch our benefactors and began to devise all kinds of ways to trap them. He ate his dinner in the car
watching and waiting, but no one came. Before the kids went to bed we checked the front step - No Baby Jesus! We began to worry that my son had scared them off.

Somehow something was missing that Christmas Eve. There was a feeling that things weren't complete. The kids went to bed and I put out Christmas, but before I went to bed I again checked to see if the
Jesus had come - no, the doorstep was empty.
 
As they awoke, the kids checked to see if perhaps during the night the Baby Jesus had come. Missing that piece of the set seemed to have an odd effect. At least it changed my focus. I knew there were presents
under the tree for me and I was excited to watch the children open their gifts, but first on my mind was the feeling of waiting for the ceramic Christ Child.

We had opened just about all of the presents when one of us found one more for me buried deep beneath the limbs of the tree. He handed me a small package from my friend. I was touched when at Church on the day before Christmas, she had given me this small package, saying it was just a token of her love and appreciation.

As I took off the bow, I remembered my friendship with her and was filled with gratitude for knowing her and for her kindness and sacrifice in this year giving me a gift. But as the paper fell away I began to tremble and cry. There in the small brown box was the baby Jesus. He had come!

I realized on that Christmas Day that Christ will come into our lives in ways that we don't expect. The spirit of Christ comes into our hearts as we serve one another. We had waited and watched for Him to come, expecting the dramatic "knock at the door and scurrying of feet" but He came in a small, simple package that represented service friendship, gratitude, and love.

This experience taught me that the beginning of the true spirit of Christmas comes as we open our hearts and actively focus on the Savior. But we will most likely find Him in the small and simple acts of love, friendship and service that we give to each other.

This Christmas I want to feel again the joy of knowing that Christ is in our home. I want to focus on loving and serving. More than that I want to open my heart to Him all year that I may see Him again.

May your heart find many reasons to praise Jesus during this Christmas season. It is during this time we remember our families and loved ones, AND JESUS.

Printable Issue 956  Today is Monday, December 18th, 2006; Karen's Korner #956
Another pass along email from someone but I apologize, I don't recall who! Last week we had a neat dog story; this is another one. Cat lovers of world, if you have a good writing, forward it to me so you have equal time! Enjoy:
 
Puppy Size

"Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We've been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this," the mother told the volunteer.
 
"What is it she keeps asking for?" the volunteer asked.

"Puppy size!" replied the mother.

"Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that's what she's looking for."
 
"I know...we have seen most of them," the mom said in frustration...
 
Just then Danielle came walking into the office "Well, did you find one?" asked her mom.
 
"No, not this time," Danielle said with sadness in her voice. "Can we come back on the weekend?"
 
The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed "You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there's always a supply," the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. "Don't worry, I'll find one this weekend," she said.

Over the next few days both mom and dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. "It's this weekend or we're not looking any more," Dad finally said in frustration.

"We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size either," Mom added. Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning. By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs.

Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren't permitted. Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take  a closer look. One by one the dogs were brought out and she held each one. One by one she said, "Sorry, you're not the one."

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup.  The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. This time she took a little longer. "Mom, that's it! I found the right puppy! He's the one! I know it!" she screamed with joy. "It's the puppy size!"
 
"But it's the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last few weeks," Mom said.

"No, not size ---- the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed," she said. "Don't you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!"

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn't know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both.

"Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms," she said. Then holding the puppy up close to her face she said, "Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!"

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you sigh. I not only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day. They are the sighs of God. Take the time to stop and listen; you will be surprised at what you hear.
Printable Issue 957  Today is Tuesday, December 19th, 2006; Karen's Korner #957
The stage was set for the coming and birth of both Jesus and his cousin, John, in the first two chapters of Luke.
 
In the later part of Luke chapter 2, Jesus' parents went to the temple as part of several Jewish ceremonies surrounding the birth of their child. When Mary and Joseph went into the temple, God had directed two older, devout believers to be there to comment of the couple's new son:  Simeon and Anna.
 
Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, was constantly expecting the Messiah to come very soon: "Simeon was there and took the child in his arms, praising God saying, 'Lord, now I can die content! For I have seen him as you promised me I would. I have seen the Savior you have given the world.....'" (vs. 29)
 
Anna, a prophetess, never left the Temple, staying there night and day:  "she came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she also began thanking God and telling everyone in Jerusalem who had been awaiting the coming of the Savior that the Messiah had finally arrived...." (vs. 38)  
 
These verses are especially meaningful to me this Christmas season. Older people can be such a blessing to us, as they think about us, encourage us, and pray for us. I am the recipient of three such aunts who range in age from 80 - 91. This is the year of drastic changes in their lives:  one moved to a care center, one is battling bone cancer, and the third is battling some dementia. All three have been teachers, role models and, I know, have prayed for me and my family over the years.
 
My Bible Commentary on these verses in Luke:  Joseph and Mary marveled at what was being said about Jesus. Simeon said Jesus was a gift from God; he recognized him as the Messiah and he said Jesus would be a light to the entire world.  Although both he and Anna were very old, they still hoped to see the Messiah. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were among the first to bear witness to Jesus. In the Jewish culture, elders were respected, and their prophecies carried extra weight because they were not young. Our society, however, values youthfulness over wisdom, and potential contributions by the elderly are often ignored. As Christians, we should reverse those values whenever we can. Encourage older people to share their wisdom and experience. Listen carefully when they speak. Offer them your friendship and help them find ways to continue to serve God.
 
 
During the holiday season, I want to visit each one of my aunts to be sure and tell them, "thanks", for the differences they have made in our lives! I am missing their care of me and their bringing us before Our  Heavenly Father already. I am beginning to ask myself, "Am I encouraging older people in my life to keep-on, keeping on...if they are well enough?" And "Am I ready to assume the role, they have been to me........and to give the same gifts they have given to me........to others?"
Printable Issue 958  Today is Wednesday, December 20th, 2006; Karen's Korner #958
Statistics tell that for some Christmas is a sad and depressing time of year. For many of those, it could be when we focus on troubles and things in 'our' world or 'the' world we wish were different.
 
I am sharing a recent daily devotional written by Jeff White. He talks about a shepherd and what the shepherd does with and for his sheep. Christmas is the time when Our Shepherd came to earth to herd us in the right direction.............emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, physically.
 
Most of us know the first line of the 23rd Psalm: "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want." I like my Living Bible translation:  "Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!" Big difference between wants and needs. I might have lots of things on my wants list. But needs? When I focus on the Good Shepherd, I know that He is all I "need", I know some other things on my list might be just "wishes". 
 
From Jeff:
 

I am the good shepherd.
I know my sheep
as the Father knows me.
And my sheep know me.

John 10:14

     The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name and they respond.

 

     I recently attended a sheep herding trial with my border collie.  We weren’t competing, just watching.  It was interesting to watch the difference in the behavior and attitude of the sheep.  The owner/shepherd of the sheep would walk in the ring, call to the sheep and they would follow him to the start pen.  A competitor would enter the pen, and unless their dog was very good at his job, the sheep would scatter and try to avoid this strange person and their dog.  At the end of that run, in would walk the owner and here would come his sheep.

 

     The Lord is my shepherd.  He knows my needs and I’ll never lack for anything.  He provides a home for my rest and sustenance for my body.  He protects me and leads my because I am his child.  When afraid he comforts me, when surrounded by enemies he reassures me.  He crowned me as royalty, I have more than I deserve.  He will be with me as my shepherd and I will live with him forever.

 

~~

Printable Issue 959  Today is Thursday, December 21st, 2006; Karen's Korner #959
Flipping through the television channels last night, I ran past a speaker on a cable Christian station. I stopped briefly to listen to what he had to say about the Bible and his summing up of Christianity.
 
He said that there are 800,000 words in the Bible which can be boiled down to three basic themes:
 
** forgiveness from our past;
** new life for today;
** hope for the future.
 
That's the message of the Christmas story and why Jesus was born, lived, and died. We needed all three!
 
"Father God, thank You for sending your Son Jesus into our world. You knew that we were in need of forgiveness from our natures and the things we choose to do. We needed new natures! You knew that we were going to need new life, not just one day, but every day. And that we would need hope for the future that would outstrip this life. Thank You for Jesus, who was born, lived, and died so that we could have all three! I don't know why You would chose to do that for us, but I am glad You did. Help each one of us to recognize and accept that kind of Love. In the Name of Your Son, Jesus whose birthday we celebrate right now. Amen."
Printable Issue 960  Today is Friday, December 22nd, 2006; Karen's Korner #960
Another Christmas story forwarded to me, but I can't recall from whom; enjoy:
  
  A Donkey's Story
 
   I heard the door creak open
 And watched them slowly come inside
 There were just the two of them
 Standing side by side.
 
She was young and in distress
 I sensed it right away
 He made a place right next to me
In which for her to lay.
 
   We were quiet, all of us
Not a whinny nor a bray was heard
The stable filled with quiet moans
She didn't speak a word.
 
   I stood there watching quietly
As the stable filled with light
My eyes were drawn toward Heaven
And a special star that shown so bright.
 
The next thing I remember
There were cries of a newborn babe
He was wrapped in swaddling clothes
And next to me in the manger laid.
 
Angels appeared and sang their praises
Unto the newborn King
And our lowly stable was transformed
Into a Holy, Heavenly scene!
 
   Three kings came from the East
And offered gifts to Him,
And I remember a sweet aroma
From the frankincense of these men.
 
It's a moment engraved in time
It affects all who will ever live
The night that God chose to send
His most wondrous, precious gift.
 
This is the story I love to tell
It's from a donkey's point of view
Just ask any one of my friends
And they'll tell you that it is true!
 
This was the night that Christ was born
  God's gift to all who will believe
Mankind was blessed, but so was I
For He was placed right next to me!
 
~~
 

 
Printable Issue 961  Today is Monday, December 25th, 2006; Karen's Korner #961
Merry Christmas! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we be "shepherds" of today.
 
Luke 2:8 - 20:
 
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 "Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Printable Issue 962  Today is Tuesday, December 26th, 2006; Karen's Korner #962

A great story for the day after Christmas, forwarded to me a couple of days before Christmas from Tim and Shelley Fletcher:

Two Babes In A  Manger

In 1994, two Americans  answered an invitation  from the Russian Department of Education  to teach in Russia.  They were invited to teach at many  places including  a large  orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government- run program were in  the orphanage. The two Americans relate the following story in their  own words:

It was nearing the  holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first  time, the traditional story of Christmas.  We told  them about  Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the Baby  Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children  and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.

Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was  available in the city. Following  instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from  tan felt we had brought from the United States.

The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old and had finished his  project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.

For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately--until he came to the part where Mary  put  the Baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started  to ad-lib. He made up  his own ending to  the story as he said,  "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus
looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay.  I told him I have  no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have  any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with Him. But I told Him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give Him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had  that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept Him warm, that would  be a good gift.

So I asked Jesus,  "If I keep You warm, will that be a good enough gift?" 

And Jesus told me, "If  you keep Me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me."

"So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and He  told me I could stay with Him---for  always."

As little Misha  finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed  down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to  the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.

The little orphan had found Someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, Someone who would stay with him--FOR ALWAYS.

I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.

-- Author  Unknown

Printable Issue 963  Today is Wednesday, December 27th, 2006; Karen's Korner #963
Many times I start my day with the prayer, "Lord, help me to be a blessing to someone else today..."
 
Yesterday was a day when I volunteered to drive a friend to catch a morning commuter bus to a larger medical care facility for her treatments. I would return to the drop-off location to pick her up in the afternoon.
 
The drop-off was a parking area of a church in this small community. Her pick up time could vary as much as half an hour. I decided to be sure and be early rather than late. The afternoon was nice, so I walked a bit. I returned to the parking area and still no friend.
 
I thought, "I wonder if the church is open?" Many to most churches aren't these days; probably for good reason. The front door was locked. What about the back door?
 
It was unlocked! I pushed the door open and to my surprise there was a sign above the steps going down into the basement saying, "Welcome to our backdoor ministry!"
 
Where would the open door lead me, I wondered, as I began to wander. I could go into every part of the church, it appeared. Maybe not the office; I didn't discover the office! As I got into the small sanctuary, I thought, "This is my chance to be a blessing to this church with the 'open door' policy!
 
I ran back to our van and picked out five copies of three of the devotionals which I have penned and published over the years. Still no commuter bus; good! I had things to do. I went back into the church, stacked the 15 booklets on the front podium and left them a note thanking them and congratulating them for 'leaving their back door open'.
 
I am still not convinced that open doors are good or bad, but it was a blessing to me......and hopefully to that church family.....and their backdoor ministry which worked......the day after Christmas!
 
One of the stray, used bulletins from the church's Christmas Eve service, had a Christmas Prayer written by Robert Louis Stevenson: (In part) "......that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world......"
Printable Issue 964  Today is Thursday, December 28th, 2006; Karen's Korner #964
A daily devotional by Rev. Jeff White:
 

Here I am! I stand
at the door and knock.

Revelation 3:20

 

     When you are traveling, two of the most frustrating words in the world are “No Vacancies”.  You’re tired and grouchy and your traveling companions are about two exits past understanding and there are no vacancies.  What do you do?  You can’t force your way in, there is nothing to do but move on. 

     Magnify this feeling infinitely and you now know what Christ feels when he knocks on the door of your heart and you say no vacancy. 

Printable Issue 965  Today is Friday, December 29th, 2006; Karen's Korner #965
As we go through the holiday season and have fewer days off from work in the next few weeks and months, this is an email forward from Jeanne Russell. It is titled "the 23rd Psalm for work":
 
Psalm 23 
 
The Lord is my real boss, and I shall not want.
He gives me peace, when chaos is all around me.
He gently reminds me to pray and do all things without
murmuring and complaining.

He reminds me that He is my source and not my job.
He restores my sanity everyday and guides my decisions
that I might honor Him in all that I do.

Even though I face absurd amounts of e-mails, system
crashes, unrealistic deadlines, budget cutbacks, gossiping
co-workers, discriminating supervisors and an aging body
that doesn't cooperate every morning, I still will not stop---
for He is with me! His presence, His peace, and His power
will see me through.

He raises me up, even when they fail to promote me.
He claims me as His own, even when the company threatens
to let me go . His Faithfulness and love is better than any bonus
check.

His retirement plan beats every 401k there is!
When it's all said and done, I'll be working for Him a whole lot
longer and for that, I BLESS HIS NAME!!!!!!
~~