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May 2004 Archives

Printable Issue 286  Today is Monday, May 3rd, 2004; Karen's Korner #286

Today is my birthday and I am looking forward to spending time with a couple of different groups of friends! Also worthy of note is the fact that Sunday is Mother's Day...a worthy profession for many of us!!

 

I have several good "moms" writings which I have been hanging on to, just for this week!

 

Today's is written by my mother-in-law and Jamie and Merry's grandma, Addie Weld. A couple of weeks ago, Jim and I were pawing through some boxes of photos looking for specific photos for one of our two family reunions coming up this summer. We came upon a notebook of some "diary thoughts" over a span of a number of years written by Addie. There is only one thing worse than reading someone's diary:  reading it after they have passed away!

 

I hope that you enjoy it! I really like it:

 

 

This is something that she wrote on May 20, 1977:

 

 

Just talked with Jamie on the phone. She has only five days of school left. I asked her how she felt about having only five more days of school and she wouldn't be in kindergarten ever again.

 

"Oh-h-h!! I feel good about it, Grandma The pool opens the day after that!" she said.

 

My prayer:  "Please, God, may there always be a 'pool that opens' after each phase of her life has past. May 'that pool' be filled with more wonders and good living experiences for our special Jamie.........as well as all Jamies of the world!"

Printable Issue 287  Today is Tuesday, May 4th, 2004; Karen's Korner #287

A pass-around prayer from my Tennesse uncle, Bud, who is a retired Baptist minister. Readers were supposed to change the number in the 'subject' box when they forward to someone else. That number was 5306 when I received it!

 

Turn it in to your prayer for today:

 

 

Dear Lord, I thank You for this day. I thank You for my being able to see

and to hear this morning. I'm blessed because You are a forgiving God and

an understanding God.  You have done so much for me and You keep on

blessing me.

 

Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was

not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.

 

Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this

day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude.  Let me make the best of

each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You.

 

Please broaden my mind that I can accept all things. Let me not whine

and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through

God's eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent,

and confess with my mouth my wrongdoing, and receive the forgiveness of God.

And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus' example

to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It's the best response when

I'm pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can't pray, You listen to

my heart.

 

Continue to use me to do Your will. Continue to bless me that I may be

a blessing to others.  Keep me strong that I may help the weak.

Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. 

I pray for those that are lost and can't find their way.  I pray for those that

are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don't know You intimately.

I pray for those that don't believe. But I thank you that I believe.

I believe that God changes people and God changes things.

 

I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For each and every family member in their

households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are

out of debt and all their needs are met. I pray that every eye that reads this knows

there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your

hands for You to fight. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of

every eye  that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly.

 

This is my prayer.

 

In Jesus' Name,

Amen

Printable Issue 288  Today is Wednesday, May 5th, 2004; Karen's Korner #288

Another installment of Mother's Day writings. This one is from Arlene Lockwood (and good ones like this sometimes come a couple of times from others, too):

 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick
toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners
and cherry Kool-Aid saying, "It's okay honey, Mommy's here."
Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying
babies who can't be comforted.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in
their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.
For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew
Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see.  And
the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes. This is for the

mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.
And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at
football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their
cars. And that when their kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?" they could say,
"Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store
and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice
cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.  This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

 

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat. For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year. And then read it again. "Just one more time."  This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school.  And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead. This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot. This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at college.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomachaches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away!! This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green. For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.  This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

 

What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips?
The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?  Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?
The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home? Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, or a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... And mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.
Single mothers and married mothers.  Mothers with money, mothers without.
This is for you all. For all of us...Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them.

 

And don't forget to pray.......
Printable Issue 289  Today is Thursday, May 6th, 2004; Karen's Korner #289

As we continue on our quest towards Mothers' Day, this is something that I received from Jack Burt a few weeks ago. Whether you are a grandma, a mom, a daughter, or a son, I hope that you enjoy it:

 

MOTHERS

For those of you who are lucky to still be blessed with your Mom this is beautiful. For those who aren't, it is even more beautiful.

The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?"  she asked.
And the guide said "Yes, and the way is hard. You will be old before you reach the end of it and the end will be better than the beginning."  But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.  So she played with her children, she fed them and bathed them, and taught them how to tie their shoes and ride a bike and reminded them to feed the dog and do their homework and brush their teeth.  The sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, "Nothing will ever be  lovelier than this."

Then the night came, and the storms, and the path was sometimes dark, and  the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her arms, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

The morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, "a little patience and we are there."  So the children climbed, and as they climbed they learned to weather the storms. And with this, she gave them strength to face the world. Year after year, she showed them compassion, understanding, hope, but most of all
 ..... unconditional love.  When they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you."

The days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she became little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned so much and are now passing these traits on to their children."  

When the way became rough for her, they lifted her, and gave her their strength, just as she had given them hers. One day they came to a hill, and beyond the hill, they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.  The mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk with dignity and pride, with their heads held high, and so can their children after them"   And the children replied " You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates."

They stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."

Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well, she's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning.  Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. A mother shows every emotion......... happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow..... and all the while, hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in
life. She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space...............not even death!

May we never take our mother for granted.
Printable Issue 290  Today is Friday, May 7th, 2004; Karen's Korner #290

This is something that I got not long ago from Linda Sorenson. And I think that I have read it before. Doesn't matter, it is a good one! I saw myself in some of these and I couldn't help but think of a few other mothers as I read some, too!

 

Happy Mother's Day!

 

 

 Mothers

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to
normal after you've had a baby ...  somebody doesn't know
that once you're a mother, "Normal," is history.

Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct .. 
somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.

Somebody said being a mother is boring ....  ...
somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.

Somebody said if you're a "good" mother, your child  will "turn out good." Somebody thinks a child comes with directions and a guarantee.

Somebody said "good" mothers never raise their voices ... 
somebody never came out the back door just in time to see
her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor's kitchen window.

Somebody said you don't need an education to be a
mother   Somebody never helped a fourth grader with his math.

Somebody said you can't love the fifth child as much
as you love the first.  Somebody doesn't have five children.

Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her
child-rearing questions in the books ...  somebody never
had a child stuff beans up his nose or in his ears.

Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is
labor and delivery ...  Somebody never watched her "baby"

get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten. 

or on a plane headed for military "boot
camp."

Somebody said a mother can do her job with her eyes
closed and one hand tied behind her back ... 

somebody never organized seven giggling Brownies
to sell cookies.

Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her
child gets married ...

Somebody doesn't know that marriage adds a new son or
daughter-in-law to a mother's heartstrings.

Somebody said a mother's job is done when her last
child leaves home ...
Somebody never had grandchildren.

Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you
don't need to tell her ... somebody isn't a mother.
Printable Issue 291  Today is Monday, May 10th, 2004; Karen's Korner #291

This is something that I received from Mari Bernhardt quite a few months ago. I think I had read it before, but it is good whether it is read once or a number of times:

 

 

THE CAB RIDE

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.


When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.

But, I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute", answered a frail, elderly voice.


I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.  By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if  no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.  There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters.
In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.


"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said.

 

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.  She kept thanking me for my kindness.


"It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated".


"Oh, you're such a good boy", she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"


"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.


"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice".

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.


"I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.


As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.


 The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.


"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said.  "Thank you."
I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light.
Behind me, a door shut.It was the sound of the closing of a  life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.



PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT 'YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU  SAID, BUT -- THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.

Printable Issue 292  Today is Tuesday, May 11th, 2004; Karen's Korner #292

Nearly a year ago, my sister Eileen sent me this email, complete with pictures (my computer program didn't bring them in!) about "friends". At the end, I was supposed to mail them to another ten people.......well, you know the drill!

 

Anyway, here are a dozen of them:

 

To My Friends:


If you live to be a hundred,
I want to live to be
a hundred minus one day,
so I never have to live
without you.
-- Winnie the Pooh


True friendship is
like sound health;
the value of it is
seldom known
until it is lost.
-- Charles Caleb Colton


 

A real friend
is one who walks in
when the rest
of the world walks out.

-- No author given



Don't walk in front of me,
I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me,
I may not lead.
Walk beside me and
be my friend.
-- Albert Camus


Strangers are just friends

waiting to happen.

--Author Unknown



Friendship is one mind
in two bodies.
-- Mencius


I'll lean on you and
you lean on me and
we'll be okay
-- Dave Matthews


If all my friends were
to jump off a bridge,
I wouldn't jump with them,
I'd be at the bottom to
catch them.
--
Author unknown


We all take different
paths in life,
but no matter where we go,
we take a little of each
other everywhere.;
-- Tim McGraw


My father always used
to say that when you die,
if you've got five real friends,
then you've had a great life.;
-- Lee Iacocca


Hold a true friend with both your hands.;
-- Nigerian Proverb



A friend is someone who knows
the song in your heart
and can sing it back to you
when you have forgotten
the words.;
-- Unknown

Printable Issue 293  Today is Wednesday, May 12th, 2004; Karen's Korner #293

Like many churches and church groups, our Sunday School class is studying the best-selling book "The Purpose Drive Life" by Rick Warren. Chapter 10 was part of the chapters we were looking at last week together. The chapter title is "The Heart of Worship".

 

Warren says that the heart of worship is surrender, an unpopular word, disliked almost as much as the word submission. It implies losing and no one wants to be a loser. But, he goes on to say, it is our natural response to God's amazing love and mercy. We give ourselves to him, not out of fear, but in love, "because He first loved us." (I John 4:9,10,19)

 

The supreme example of self-surrender is Jesus. The night before His crucifixion Jesus surrendered Himself to God's plan. He prayed, "Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine."

 

God wants us to pray and ask for many things, but what happens when our prays are answered differently than we what we wanted or what we think is best for us.

 

According to Warren, genuine surrender says, "Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose and glory in my life or in another's, please don't take it away." This level of maturity does not come easy. In Jesus' case, He agonized so much over God's plan that He sweat drops of blood. Surrender is hard work. In our case, it is intense warfare against our self-centered nature.

 

So what happens if we pray and believe like that? Warren says we experience peace; we experience freedom; and we experience God's power. "Stubborn temptations and overwhelming problems can be defeated by Christ when given to Him," he writes.

 

May we all experience God's best as we learn to surrender to His Will for our lives.......each day!

Printable Issue 294  Today is Thursday, May 13th, 2004; Karen's Korner #294

This is a good daily email from "Chicken Soup for the Soul"; for any of us who have ever 'felt sorry for ourselves' and maybe said, "Why is it always my turn?":

 

The Competition
By Lori Bottoms

Me, again?

The band director looked sympathetic when he came to me. "Lori, I am sorry to ask you again, especially since you spent so much time making these new flags for us, but I need someone to pick up the flags during finals competition tonight."

"Aw, Tom, I really wanted to see the new flags from the stands today. I worked the preliminary competition. Isn't there anyone else?"

Tom looked around and saw the backs of the other parents as they wound their way into the football stadium seats. "You know how it is, Lori. I'd really love to tell you I can find someone else, but I'll be honest. I've already asked several of the parents and they all said they couldn't do it. I know it's unfair for me to ask you, but...."

I smiled at the distraught band director and patted my old friend's arm, "It's okay, I'll see them on the videotape. I'll do it."

He looked so relieved I had to laugh. "Now, go get your band ready, Mr. Stout. I'll see you later."

Knowing the routine well, I walked toward the pit crew to wait with them until we were told to take the field for competition. While I waited, I glared up into the stadium seats at the other parents as they greeted each other and took their seats. My eyes narrowed as I stared up at them and I certainly was enjoying the pity party I was throwing myself. How dare they? I thought. Why do they think they never have to do the work and that I'm always so happy to do it?

I felt a tug on my sleeve and glanced over to see one of the drummers hesitate beside me. "We've been told to take the field, Mrs. Bottoms," he said quietly. "It's time to go."

Shaking myself out of my pity party, I patted the drummer on the back, whispered, "Let's get 'em!"

He smiled, the tension disappeared and I followed him onto the field with the band.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of my daughter as she carried her armload of flags onto the field. Her color-guard uniform shone gold under the stadium lights as she set her flags in their waiting position, then turned and took her first flag with her to her starting position.

The announcer's voice boomed over the loudspeaker, "The Pride of Broken Arrow - you may take the field!"

The drum major's whistle sounded, and the band began to thrill the crowd. Together, as if all 200 kids were one unit, they swayed with military precision, first this way, then that, each student knowing exactly where he needed to be. Even from the sidelines, the perfect cadences amazed me. Their music was astounding and flawless.

I was shaken out of my revelry as the first song ended, and the color guard rushed to the front lines to drop their flags, crouched to pick up their rifles and waited for their cue. I knew what to do. I bent low and began to run from one end of the line to the other, picking up the discarded flags as I went. I lost track of where I was and concentrated on picking up each flag as I ran.

Suddenly, I was at the end of the line and I quietly laid the flags in a pile to be picked up as we left the field. A pause in the playing helped me hear the whisper. The little voice reached me and it sounded like, "I love you, Mom." It was then that I realized I was bending very near my daughter. I looked around, and my eyes locked with hers. Her smile told me it was her words that had reached me. She winked, heard her cue and moved back onto the field without missing a beat.

The rest of the evening went by quickly, and soon it was time for the awards ceremony. All ten finals bands marched proudly onto the field to await the competition's results. My work was done, so I started to fade away into the crowd, but as I was walking away, the band director caught my arm and said, "Come on, you are going onto the field with us."

I was surprised, but I understood he was trying to make up for my missing the show from the stands. Smiling, I followed the band and proudly stood with the directors at the back of the field.

We took our share of awards that night, but we still held our breath as the announcer boomed over the intercom, "And the winner for this competition is ... The Pride of Broken Arrow!"

As the drum major accepted the award, the band was near to bursting with excitement. I could feel the electricity in the air while the kids stood at attention waiting for the director to dismiss them.

The announcer once more, "Congratulations to all of tonight's bands. This concludes the ceremonies."

Tom turned to his band and said, "Way to go, kids!"

Then he nodded at the drum major who said, "Band dismissed!"

Pandemonium. The kids screamed, they hugged, they jumped in the air. I spotted my daughter across the sea of band members and watched as she made her way toward me. She threw her arms around my neck and noisily kissed my cheek. We looked into each other's eyes and shared a precious moment that required no words.

As she spotted her friend and ran from my side, I looked up at the parents in the stadium stands. I watched them applauding with excitement and thought with a smile, I don't think I'll tell them how much they've missed tonight.
Printable Issue 295  Today is Friday, May 14th, 2004; Karen's Korner #295

Allow me to share a prayer which I wrote several months ago. (I am unsure when today's Karen's Korner will be delivered, as we are having telephone problems):

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

 

Today I took several piles of items out of our storeroom and put everything on our burn pile. Next I loaded a bag of garbage on top of that.

 

When I tried to start the fire, the papers I was attempting to burn were nice and flat. The edges of some envelopes were on top of the papers. I attempted to get them burning, but the items would burn and then go out.

 

I had no choice but take some of the items and wade them up. More edges; more places to burn. It didn’t take long until I had a blazing bonfire.

 

I wondered about my life, Lord, as I watched. Do I like it best when everything is going smoothly. But when you attempt to light a fire in my spirit, do I smolder around the edges and then go out because of a lack of interest or focus?

 

When situations or circumstances come into my life that causes me to be crinkled, do I have more surfaces to be ignited by Your fire? And when I am squished next to a few friends and acquaintances who are also crinkled, do we catch a bigger blaze of You and Your Love than we would have had, if life situations hadn’t have waded us up and scrunched us together?

 

Help me, Lord, not to pray for only smooth sailing and flat circumstances. Help me to look at, and for, You and for Your Spirit and fire. Help me to know that when things come into my life that gives me more edges than I would choose, the light of You will spark a blaze in me and with all of the people with whom I come in contact. Together we can add Light, Love and Fire into each of our lives and the lives of others.

 

In Your Name Who sets us ablaze like nothing else we can imagine. Amen

Printable Issue 296  Today is Monday, May 17th, 2004; Karen's Korner #296

Today is my dad's birthday; he would have been 86. So time to remember and reflect.......he had a funny sense of humor and when something would tickle him....chances are he couldn't relate the story........he would be too busy laughing!

 

So with that in mind, I would like to share some humor from Old Timer Bob Hope (about the same era as my dad and mom, little older!) who was the master at one-liners and making people laugh:

 

Bob Hope Classics

ON TURNING 70 "You still chase women, but only downhill."

ON TURNING 80 "That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing."

ON TURNING 90 "You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake."

ON TURNING 100 " I don't feel old. In fact I don't feel anything until noon.  Then it's time for my nap."

ON GIVING UP HIS EARLY CAREER OF BOXING   "I ruined my hands in the ring ... the referee kept stepping on them."

ON NEVER WINNING AN OSCAR "Welcome to the Academy Awards or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover'."

ON GOLF "Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees."

ON PRESIDENTS  " I have performed for 12 presidents and entertained only six."

ON RECEIVING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL  "I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it."


ON HIS EARLY FAILURES "  I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the stuff the audience threw at me."

ON GOING TO HEAVEN    "I've done benefits for ALL religions. I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality."

(Email forwarded by Shirley Southard)
Printable Issue 297  Today is Tuesday, May 18th, 2004; Karen's Korner #297

Proverbs 11:9 - "Evil words destroy. Godly skill rebuilds."

 

Bible Commentary - "Words can be used either as weapons or tools; hurting relationships or building them up. Sadly, it is often easier to destroy than to build, and most people have experienced more destructive words than words which build up. Every person you meet today is either a demolition site or a construction opportunity. Your words will make a difference. Will they be weapons for destruction or tools for construction?"

 

 

Dear Lord, help me to check what I say to people with whom I come in contact today. Help me, too, think of each person I meet as a potential construction site. Not only guard what I say, guard what I think. Because of the worlds in which most of us live, we have been wounded by too many destructive words. I want to say and think positive things about everyone..........just for today! Bless each person who receives Karen's Korner. May they know just how wonderful they  are. Not because I say so, but because You say so. Thanks for all the positive things You say about each one of us in the Bible. You believe in each one of us, more than we believe in ourselves.  Amen.

Printable Issue 298  Today is Wednesday, May 19th, 2004; Karen's Korner #298

 A "Chicken Soup for the Soul" daily email, which we received several days ago. It seems we never tire of these kinds of stories:

 

 There's No Place Like Home
By Vicki L. Kitchner

I have many wonderful and vivid images of my parents from my childhood. I can clearly picture them holding hands as they sat in front of the television, Mom crying "uncle" through her laughter as Dad tickled her. I remember the soft murmur of their voices, with laughter sprinkled in, coming from their bedroom. It was their joy and love of one another that set the tone for our home.

I can only recall one bad moment. Literally hours before they were to leave for a vacation in Hawaii, my mother backed out. Now Dad, who had been living for the trip was understandably angry. Even now I shudder to think of the money he must have lost as a result. Needless to say, they had a few strained, unhappy weeks. Eventually, they worked it out. The love they shared would allow nothing else.

About a year later, Mom was diagnosed with cancer. As the chemotherapy and radiation therapies came and went, it became apparent that her cancer was winning the battle. And it was on a crisp, late fall afternoon that she and I sat on the picnic table in our backyard and talked of that trip.

"If I could change anything I've done, I would have gone to Hawaii," she said softly.

"I don't care a bit about seeing Hawaii, Vicki. I don't regret the trip at all. What I do regret is the hurt it caused your father." She sighed and reached down to pick up our little dog.

"Oh, Vicki, I love my home. If someone gave me the choice of being anywhere in the entire world, I'd always choose to be here with my family. I've never minded having to work. It's just that I was away from home so much more than I would have liked. I'm just saying that if I could have done something for your dad, it would have been Hawaii."

Mom had always worked to help Dad provide for my brother, sister and I. She never complained and my parents always adjusted their hours so that one of them was home with us when we needed them. And even if she worked an all-night shift, she never went to bed in the morning until we were dressed, fed and out the door to the bus. Some mornings her exhaustion was a palpable presence. But never did she give in to it until she had seen us off for the day.

As the fight for life wound down, her physicians suggested that we consider putting her in a nursing home. Her health had deteriorated to the degree that she would require a lot of care. When we explained that it wasn't an option, the doctors said they didn't feel we understood what would be involved in her care. But it was the doctors who didn't understand.

This woman had devoted her whole life to her family. And as her words came back to me: "If someone gave me the choice of being anywhere in the world, I'd always choose to be here with my family," I realized that we had, in essence, been presented with just such a choice. Our last gift would be to allow her to die in her home with everything she cherished around her.

The holidays were upon us, and we were all painfully aware that this would be our last Christmas together. Despite the heavy sadness that hung over our home, Dad bought the largest, most beautiful Christmas tree he could find for her. He adorned it with ornaments that they had accumulated over the years - ornaments her children had made in their first years in school: a bird in a nest, a circular clay plaque with a tiny handprint in the middle, a construction paper wreath with the words, "I love Mom and Dad" in red glitter.

With the fireplace blazing and carols playing softly on the stereo, we spent a heart-wrenching final Christmas together. Mom sat for hours before the tree letting each ornament take her somewhere we couldn't see, each memory testifying to a life dedicated to her family.

It was in the snowy, early morning hours of a brand-new year, at the age of forty-seven, that Mom lost her battle with cancer. She was in her own bedroom - with the familiar sounds of her beloved home, with her family and her dog tucked familiarly in their beds - that she left us.

But she gave us one last gift as she departed. She stood silently at the base of my bed, outlined in a bright, white light. I can remember feeling tremendous love and even sadness emanating from her as she watched my sister and me for the last time. But the woman I saw there was not the emaciated, disease-ravaged person I had kissed good-night hours earlier, but the whole, healthy woman she had been a short year ago.

In making it possible for her to spend her last days in her own home, my mother had given us a gift in return. She gave us proof that our souls live on. I will never doubt the existence of God, because my mother loved us enough to show Him to us on her way to heaven!
Printable Issue 299  Today is Thursday, May 20th, 2004; Karen's Korner #299

 A couple of short thoughts and a short story:

 
 Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
          -- African Proverb 


   * Things could be worse.  Suppose your errors were
     counted and published every day, like those of a
     baseball player. (basketball/football player, politician!- per Karen)
          -- Anonymous

 

  *  Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds.
          -- Jewish Proverb 

  
  *  Let us endeavor so to live that when we come
      to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
          -- Mark Twain

 

~~

(email forward from Jack Burt):

 

A Shortened Version of the 23rd Psalm

In his beautiful book, "I Shall Not Want," author Robert Ketchum tells of a Sunday School teacher who asked her group of children if anyone could quote the entire 23rd Psalm.  A golden-haired, four-and-a-half-year-old girl was among those who raised their hands.  A bit skeptical, the teacher asked if she could really quote the entire Psalm. 

 

The little girl came to the front of the room, faced the class, made a perky little bow, and said,

"The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I want."

She bowed again and went and sat down.

That may well be the greatest interpretation of the 23rd Psalm ever heard.
Printable Issue 300  Today is Friday, May 21st, 2004; Karen's Korner #300

Thanks for sticking with Karen's Korner for 300 editions.

 

            I wrote this short thought almost two years ago. There are several changes in what I am writing, since that time. Our dog, Elmo, died a few weeks after I wrote this item. And we got a new dog, Lady, the same month. I also talk about not being a grandma, which I have the privilege of being today!

 

            This will be in the next devotional booklet, which I print. I hope that you enjoy the message:

 

 

How could anyone do that?

June 16, 2002

           

        Several weeks ago, Jim and I used our Christmas present from his sister and her family: two tickets to a dinner theater in Des Moines. We were seated at a table with another couple who lived less than an hour from our home.

            We exchanged get-acquainted conversation. He farmed with a son; she worked 20-plus years as their church secretary. Parents of three children. Several grandchildren. They were on their way to Iowa City to visit a daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters for the weekend.

            “Do you have any children?” she asked.

            “We have two,” I heard my husband say. “Our older lives here in Des Moines ……. our younger was killed nearly three years ago in a car accident…..tomorrow would have been her 29th birthday…”

            “I am so sorry,” she said. “.. I don’t know anyone could go through something like that……….”

            The performance started and the conversation ceased. At intermission time, Jim went out to our car and got my most recent devotional booklet to share with our new friends. She commented, “Our meeting has to be a ‘God Thing’. I have to give ‘dial a devotion’ next week for our church family. I have been looking for some material. I can’t wait to read this and maybe record some of your writings ....”

           

                            And then came yesterday’s note:

            “…..I don’t know why I am writing to you……..you probably don’t even remember who we are…..(she had our e-mail address from the booklet)…we just got back from Iowa City….” Their 7 ½ year-old-granddaughter, while she had a genetic disorder, had died unexpectedly. Her funeral had been several days earlier.

            Now their family was being asked to do, “..what they could never do….”

            I wanted to respond to her, but what would I say. Several hours went by and as I sat down at my computer, I asked God to tell her what He would say to her.

            I started by offering my sympathies to her and her family. I told her that I believed she and her family would grieve someone so special the rest of their lives.

            “But what are you going do with that grief?” I asked her. “Because we are Christians, we are equipped with additional resources. We have His Spirit on the inside of us. We can’t, but He can! Because of His Holy Sprit, we are equipped for the impossible….as He takes care of us moment by moment…..”

            I continued, “You have choices….you can stay in bed, cover up your head, wish the world would stop so you can get off….you can listen to the voices in your head telling you that ‘God can’t be trusted!’ or ‘what did you do to deserve this’ (I tend to call those voices: the devil!) Or you can get up, stomp your foot and tell those negative thoughts that you aren’t defeated and that you and God will have the last word. You will be victorious. You will see that granddaughter again, and this time it will be forever………

            I told her that I could still remember several days after our daughter Merry’s funeral, of walking through the kitchen and idly thinking, “God, this hurts so much, it would have been easier if Merry had never been born!” That thought lasted no more than a moment or two, before I began reflecting on the joys, memories, and love that our family would have missed, if those thoughts were true.

            “My pain and hurt at that instant weren’t even close to all the good times and good memories I had because I was fortunate enough to be a mom to two girls,” I penned. “It was then that I vowed that I would love more people and everything in our world, more often for the rest of my life. We had an old dog that I knew wouldn’t live much longer. I told Jim, ‘we have to get another dog’, which we did in a few more weeks. Sometimes dogs run away, get run over, die too soon…….didn’t matter. I was ready for love and interaction. If something happens to Elmo (new dog), I would get over, get used to it, and get a new dog; we have had him for three years now…….lots of memories, lots of interaction, lots of fun…nothing has happened to him. Even our old dog, which at that time was nearly blind and couldn’t hear, lived another year plus. Scruffy gave us probably lived a total of ten good years…..”

            I congratulated her on being a grandmother, a role I haven’t had the privilege of having to date. “..you are, have been, and will always be a grandma to a number of grandchildren,” I wrote. “Don’t let the pain of the loss of one, dull her memory or keep you from piling up lots of love on the ones you have now and the ones you may have in the future………”

            I closed my note by saying, “………I, too, am sure our sitting together at the table that night at the Ingersoll Dinnner Theater was a ‘God Thing’……”
Printable Issue 301  Today is Monday, May 24th, 2004; Karen's Korner #301

As we have graduations swirling around most of us at this time, I thought this was quite an appropriate poem:

 

Passing the Dream
By Penny Caldwell

She sat on the bench, feeding the birds.
Just throwing crumbs, not saying a word.
I sat down with my beads and braids,
Proclaiming what a mess her generation had made.
I spoke of poverty, and the war in 'Nam.
What is the use of going on?

She replied softly:

"All my life, I have worked for change.
Today, I give you my dream.
You can make a difference, with the small things you do.
The future is entirely left to you.
If things go wrong and you feel down,
Open your eyes and look around.
Don't look for someone to blame.
Search for an inspiration, to rise again.
The changes you make may not always be seen.
But perhaps you can give a child the chance to dream.
So get to work, and maybe find
A small solution to help humankind.
All my life, I have worked for change.
Today I give you my dream."

Today I decided to take a walk.
I passed a teen loudly playing his boom box.
He turned his music down low
And we chatted for a minute or so.
He spoke of the homeless, and the streets filled with
crime.
Couldn't my generation have found the time
To ease some of this discord
By feeding the hungry, and housing the poor?

I replied softly:

"All my life, I have worked for change.
Today, I give you my dream.
I hope you make our world a better place.
But you must work diligently; just keep pace
With the changes and dreams of the generation to come.
But with a little luck, a small battle may be won.
Someday, we will merge. And in time you will be
The older generation looking back to see
How you have answered all these questions you ask.
Fixing tomorrow is now your task.
All my life, I have worked for change.
Today, I give you my dream."

Printable Issue 302  Today is Tuesday, May 25th, 2004; Karen's Korner #302

A single Bible verse, plus commentary. This one is for me........for today!

 

 

Matthew 10: 42 -- "And if, as my representatives, you give even a cup of cold water to a little child, you will surely be rewarded.:

 

Commentary -- "How much we love God can be measured by how well we treat others. Jesus' example of giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty child is a good model of unselfish service. A child usually can't or won't return a favor. God notices every good deed we do or don't do as if He were the one receiving it. Is there something unselfish you can do for someone else today? Although no one else may see you, it won't go unnoticed by God." 

Printable Issue 303  Today is Wednesday, May 26th, 2004; Karen's Korner #303

I hope that you enjoy this writing, which I wrote last week:

 

 

What do you see?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

 

            Have you ever seen the “arrow” in the Federal Express logo? I hadn’t until yesterday.

At church on Sunday, Dan Cramer was telling about the Fed Ex logo and how the “X” is butted up against the “E. And how an arrow is formed between the two. “Little kids who can’t read or don’t know the alphabet will point out the arrow immediately,” he said. “Adults can’t see it.”

            So yesterday I spotted a Fed Ex truck in town. Yep, there was the arrow! It was there all the time, but my eyes had never seen it before.

            I thought how similar things could be in our added dimension as Christians. Sometimes God is able to point out things to us that we haven’t seen before but have been there all the time!

 

Dear Lord:  Help me to see things that You see. Help me not to demand more, until I recognize what I already have and the many gifts you have given me. Thank you for what I know that I possess and for the things I have not spotted yet. Thanks for giving me eyes to see, both the physical and the spiritual. Amen.

Printable Issue 304  Today is Friday, May 28th, 2004; Karen's Korner #304

 Email forwarded to me by Judy Kirstein a number of months ago:

 

The Donut Master

There was a boy by the name of Steve who was attending college
where Brother Christianson taught seminary.
He had an open-door policy and would take in any student who had
been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by
his rules.

Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other
teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson's
seminary class.

Steve was told that he could not be late, so he arrived just
seconds before the bell rang, and he would sit in the very back
of the room. He would also be the first to leave after the
class was over.

One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so
he could talk with him. After class, Bro. Christianson pulled
Steve aside and said, "You think you're pretty tough, don't
you?"

Steve's answer was, "Yeah, I do."

Then Brother Christianson asked, "How many pushups can you do?"

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Brother Christianson said.

"Do you think you could do 300?"

Steve replied, "I don't know... I've never done 300 at a time."

"Do you think you could?" again asked Brother Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10?
I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work.
Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,"
Brother Christianson said.

Steve said, "Well... I think I can... yeah, I can do it."

Brother Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on
Friday."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of
the room.

When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of
donuts. Now these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were
the extra fancy BIG kind with cream centers and frosting swirls.
Everyone was pretty excited. It was Friday, the last class of
the day, and they were going to get an early start on the
weekend.

Bro. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and
asked, "Cynthia, do you want a donut?" Cynthia said, "Yes."

Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would
you do ten pushups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"

Steve said, "Sure," and jumped down from his desk to do a quick
ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Bro. Christianson put a
donut on Cynthia's desk.

Bro. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked,
"Joe do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes." Bro. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do
ten pushups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups,
Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for
every person before they got their donuts and down the second
aisle, until Bro. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was captain
of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was
very popular and never lacking for female companionship.

When Bro. Christianson asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"

Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own pushups?"

Bro. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would
you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"

Steve started to do ten pushups. Scott said, "HEY! I said I
didn't want one!"

Bro. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class,
my desks, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't
want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He
just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much
effort to be getting up and down.

You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around
his brow.

Bro. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students
were beginning to get a little angry.

Bro. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Jenny said, "No."

Then Bro. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten
pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve
did ten, Jenny got a donut.

By now, the students were beginning to say "No" and there were
all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was also having to
really put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for
each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the
floor beneath his face; his arms and brow were beginning to get
red because of the physical effort involved.

Bro. Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he
did ten pushups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all
of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. So Robert
began to watch Steve closely.

Bro. Christianson started down the fourth row.

During his class, however, some students had wandered in and sat
along the heaters along the sides of the room. When Bro.
Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34
students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be
able to make it.

Bro. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and
the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a
rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Bro. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch
on each one?" Bro. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well,
they're your pushups. You can do them any way that you want."
And Bro. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to
come in when all the students yelled, "NO! Don't come in! Stay
out!"

Jason didn't know what was going on.

Steve picked up his head and said, "No,let him come."

Bro. Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you
will have to do ten pushups for him."

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in." Bro. Christianson said,
"Okay, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now.
Jason, do you want a donut?"

"Yes."

"Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?"
Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort.

Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Bro. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those
seated on the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each
pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of
gravity. Sweat was dropping off of his face, and by this time,
there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very
popular. Bro. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last,
and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut? Linda said, very
sadly, "No, thank you."

Bro. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten pushups
so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for
Linda.

Then Bro. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan.

"Susan, do you want a donut?"

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, Bro.
Christianson, "Can I help him?"

Bro. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, he has to
do it alone. Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have
a donut?" As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with
the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required
of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him
and he fell to the floor.

Brother Christianson turned to the room and said.

"And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, plead to the
Father, 'Into your hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding
that He had done everything that was required of Him, He collapsed on
the cross and died. And like some of those in this room, many of us
leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."

 ~Art Nelson~

****

 

*(Some of you may have noticed that there was no Karen's Korner on Thursday, May 27. Jim spent a couple of nights in the hospital in Des Moines with chest pains. Doctors did an angiogram yesterday and found that his two-year-old bypass is still clear and working, but that he may have some smaller arteries which are blocking, causing the pains. He has to take additional medicine and they sent us home about noon today - Friday. As always, he was home about 30 minutes before he went uptown for coffee and to play cards with friends! Look for a Saturday Karen's Korner, so that my weeks come out in my numbering with a "5" or "0"!!)
Printable Issue 305  Today is Saturday, May 29th, 2004; Karen's Korner #305

Jim and I plan to be gone for a portion of next week, so there will be no Karen's Korners again until Monday, June 7.

 

 

Joseph's Living Legacy
By Kathie Kroot
As told to Heather Black

 

With loving tenderness I unpacked my son Joseph's Little League trophy, his stack of X-Man comics and the framed pictures of elephants that had decorated his bedroom walls back in our old apartment. Just two weeks before, Joseph had so looked forward to moving into his own room in the new house. Now, making his bed, I couldn't hold back the tears. My little boy will never sleep here, I grieved. I'll never glimpse his smile again or feel his loving hug.

Wondering how I could possibly manage to go on, I began unpacking the dozens of plush animals Joseph loved to collect - bears and monkeys, chipmunks and giraffes.

 

Sitting on his bed, I hugged the Chris Columbus bear he used to nuzzle when he was little and I read Love You Forever or another of his favorite stories. Joseph loved books, and to him they were especially precious because he had a learning disability that made it all but impossible for him to read them himself.

 

But Joseph was a determined little boy who refused to let his disability stop him from learning. He listened to his schoolbooks and tests on tape, and every night we sat together at the kitchen table so I could read his math problems to him and help him with his spelling. Joseph worked so hard; he always made honor roll at school. He also earned a green belt in karate and was pitcher for his Little League baseball team.

 

In many ways Joseph was just a regular little boy who loved playing video games with his brother, David, or going to the movies with his sister, Shalom. But Joseph also knew what it was like to feel different and need a helping hand.

I can't remember how many times I spotted Joseph carrying groceries for one of our elderly neighbors or refusing money after shoveling their cars out from the snow. He loved putting on puppet shows for the little girl down the street with Down's syndrome, and once, when doctors thought his friend Micah might need a kidney transplant, my son came to me and said, "I sure wish I could give him one of mine."

Joseph, my little mensch, always made me proud, even on the last day of his life.

I was folding clothes in the den that Saturday afternoon when out of nowhere my husband, Lou, shouted for me to call 911. He and Joseph had been discussing a movie they planned to see when suddenly Joseph collapsed onto his bed complaining of a terrific headache. His breathing grew ragged, and then it stopped. Lou, who is a physician, performed artificial respiration until the paramedics arrived. Then he called ahead to the ER while I rode in the ambulance with Joseph and prayed he wouldn't die.

 

Joseph, always the picture of health, had suffered a massive brain aneurysm. "Is he going to die?" I asked my husband. Holding me tightly he answered, "Yes."

It seemed impossible. Only an hour ago my son was home watching TV - and now he was on life support with no hope of ever regaining consciousness. I wanted to cry out in shock and grief.

 

But there wasn't time. There was something important I had to do - and I had to do it right away.

 

"We have to donate his organs," I told Lou, recalling the time Joseph wanted to give a kidney to Micah. "It's what he would have wanted us to do."

 

A transplant coordinator made all the arrangements, and a few hours later our family gathered at Joseph's bedside to offer a prayer and say our last good-byes.

 

Then we went home, and throughout that night while surgeons recovered my son's organs I lay curled on his bed, clutching his favorite blanket and telling him how much I would always love him.

 

I don't know how I survived those next two weeks - the funeral and moving into the house we'd already contracted to buy. I cried every time I went near Joseph's new bedroom - the one he would have loved, if only he'd lived. There was a gaping hole in my heart.

 

Then one day when I felt I could bear my grief no longer, a letter came from the transplant coordinator. "I am writing to share the outcome of your generosity," I read with tears spilling down my cheeks.

 

Two Kentucky women, one of them the mother of a boy Joseph's age, were now off dialysis because they had each received one of my son's kidneys. Meanwhile, in Missouri, cells from Joseph's liver were helping to keep a critically ill transplant candidate alive while doctors waited for a matching donor organ to become available. In California two young children would soon be able to run and play with the healthy new heart valves my son had bequeathed them. And two teenagers, one from Kentucky and the other from New York, had regained their eyesight thanks to Joseph's corneas.

 

Seven people's lives had been changed dramatically because of my son. I carried the letter with me for days, reading and rereading it and marveling especially at the teens who'd received Joseph's corneas. Joseph's learning disability had prevented him from reading. But because of his very special gift there were now two more children in the world who could. Somehow, this helped me understand that my son had not lost his life in vain.

 

I wanted each and every one of Joseph's recipients to know who he was. So one night I wrote them each a letter and told them all about the little boy who had given them the ultimate gift. I asked the transplant agency to forward the letters to all seven recipients. With each I sent along one of his beloved stuffed animals and a copy of a school essay that he'd once written describing how to take care of them.

 

Knowing the good my son had brought into the world made it easier to walk past his room without bursting into tears. It helped the rest of the family, too, and eventually we became able to share happy memories of Joseph around the dinner table and at other family gatherings.

 

Lou and I also honored Joseph's memory by speaking to community groups and high-school students about the importance of organ donation. After a TV interview, the mother who had received one of Joseph's kidneys contacted us.

 

"I don't know how to thank you," she sobbed the day we first met.

 

"Seeing a part of my son living on is thanks enough for me," I said. Because of her new kidney, the woman had been able to attend her own son's eighth-grade graduation. Joseph never reached the eighth grade, but instead of begrudging the woman her happiness, I revelled in it - because it was my son who had made this miracle possible.

 

My son is gone, but in a very real way he still lives on, doing what he always did best - offering a helping hand to others in need. Some say Joseph's life was brief. I say it was full.

 

I once heard that if you save a life, you save the world. Well, my son saved five lives and gave the gift of sight to two others. What mother could possibly ask any more of her child? What mother could possibly be any prouder?

 

~~

On June 1, Merry would have celebrated her 31st birthday. This story made me think of Merry. She, too, was an organ donor but because of injuries from her accident, doctors were able to use only her eyes for two fortunate people.