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December 2012 Archives

Printable Issue 2456  Today is Monday, December 3rd, 2012; Karen's Korner #2456
Note from Friday's Karen's Korner about the Christian School vs. the inmates' football team. According to at least two readers, it is a TRUE STORY! Wouldn't it make a great 'made for TV' movie?
 
 
"A woman has ten valuable coins and loses one.
Won't she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house
and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it?
And then won't she call in her friends
and neighbors to rejoice with her?
In the same way there is joy in in the presence
of the angels of God when one sinner repents."
~ LUKE 15:8 - 10 LB
 
Bible Commentary:
We can perhaps understand a God
who would forgive sinners who crawl to Him for mercy,
but a God who searches for sinners
and then forgives them must have extraordinary love!
This is the kind of love that prompted Jesus to come to earth
in search for lost people and save them.
This is the kind of extraordinary love God has for you.
If you feel far from God,
don't despair.
He is searching for you.
 
***
Printable Issue 2457  Today is Tuesday, December 4th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2457
Rarely do I include a web site in a Karen's Korner, but Pat O'Brien forwarded me this web address. Back to Friday's Karen's Korner; and my comment yesterday about the football game in Texas yesterday. It is too good not to include:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuxejhBOCOo   .
 
And today's Karen's Korner for the Christmas season, forwarded by Belva German:
 

Recipe for Christmas All Year Long

Take a heap of child-like wonder
That opens up our eyes
To the unexpected gifts in life—
Each day a sweet surprise.

Mix in fond appreciation
For the people whom we know;
Like festive Christmas candles,
Each one has a special glow.

Add some giggles and some laughter,
A dash of Christmas food,
(Amazing how a piece of pie
Improves our attitude!)

Stir it all with human kindness;
Wrap it up in love and peace,
Decorate with optimism, and
Our joy will never cease.

If we use this healthy recipe,
We know we will remember
To be in the Christmas spirit,
Even when it's not December.

By Joanna Fuchs

***

Printable Issue 2458  Today is Wednesday, December 5th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2458
Our headlines in the Fort Dodge Messenger yesterday said, "T-shirt weather".
 
The article went on to say that Iowa is experiencing temperatures over 60 degrees which are 20 - 25 degrees above normal. .A guy from the National Weather Service stated the reason is 'southerly winds bringing warm air from the south, a lack of polar air from Canada."
 
That would have to be a good thing, wouldn't it? Nothing falling on our heads? No need to get out snow shovels?
 
While it is nice to live through, it might not be a good thing overall! Again one of experts in the story said, "There's few chances of precip out there, but no storms on the horizon......we continue to run below normal precipitation and the drought continues."
 
This made me think of other things in our lives which we 'might like', but not be good for us! And maybe other times, when we don't like going through something......and it might be the very thing that is a good opportunity for God to use in our lives!
 
Must be why God tells us to 'always be thankful' (I Thessalonians 5:18) and 'all things make together for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans" (Romans 8:28). From our limited perspectives, we aren't always sure what is a 'good thing' and which things are 'bad for us'.
 
God knows; we don't!
 
God, thank You for the sunshine and for the rain. We tend to enjoy one more than the other, But we know that we need both in order to survive and thrive. Same is true for lots of other things which come into our lives. Help us to be thankful. Help us to see things from Your point view which is much wider and longer than we can see. Thank You just for today! Amen.
Printable Issue 2459  Today is Thursday, December 6th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2459
A sampling from a Max Lucado writing:
 
Completely Human
 

When a bookstore owner told me a woman had stomped into his shop, angry, slamming one of my books on the counter, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I wrote that Jesus may have had pimples. He may have had bony knees. But I said, "One thing's for sure, he was, while completely divine, completely human."

There’s something safe about a God who never had calluses. There’s something majestic about a God who never scraped his elbow.  But there’s also something cold about a God who cannot relate to what you and I feel.

Rejection?  He felt it.  Temptation?  He knew it.  Loneliness?  He experienced it.  Death?  He tasted it.  And stress?  He could write a best-selling book about it.

Why did he do it?  One reason.  So that when you hurt, you’ll go to him and let him heal you!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15.”

***

Printable Issue 2460  Today is Friday, December 7th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2460
This is something emailed to me by Steve Watne, near Thanksgiving time. Since we are told to 'always be thankful', it could be appropriate any day. It is a daily forward by Pastor Rick Warren of "The Purpose Driven Life" fame and was written by Jon Walker:
 
 

 

Is There Such A Thing As Coincidence?

“Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon. A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, ‘Would you give me a drink of water?’” (John 4:6-7 MSG)

During the week of Thanksgiving, give some thought to this question: Is there such a thing as coincidence?

In Kingdom reality, there simply cannot be. Random doesn’t happen in God’s Kingdom. Oswald Chambers says God is the Great Engineer, creating circumstances to bring about moments in our lives of divine importance, leading us to divine appointments.

Was it a coincidence that Jesus came upon the woman at the well? Was she just a random woman who walked into a discussion of God’s grace and omnipotence and then told a whole village about God’s forgiveness? Would God have left that all to chance?

Would he do any less in the details of your life?

The Bible says God actively works within our circumstances. And so we cannot judge our situation apart from God’s wisdom.

In other words, we must leave it up to God to interpret our circumstances. Only he is capable of understanding all the facts, and only he sees the significance of every detail.

This is a critical question to answer in your life: Is God active in your current circumstances or not?

****

Printable Issue 2461  Today is Monday, December 10th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2461
Something written and emailed to us last week by John Crozier, former Clarion resident and graduate, now a missionary in Poland. Makes one think about God's Light which shines in our lives to light the path in an ever-darkening world:
 
Escaping Long Division
 
  As the shadows grow long and the grayness of winter sets in, I find myself reaching more often for my son's headlamp when running in the forest surrounding our home.  Tucked away for much of the year, the light it provides on the trails not only keeps the darkness at bay but also provides my eyes and mind with a context within which running in the darkness is made possible (without the danger of headbutting a pine tree). 

     Not long ago Dawid and I escaped the confines of his long division homework (which rarely seems to turn out anyway) and my full inbox by reaching for our running shoes and heading into the darkness.  As we settled into a rhythm afforded by the light cast from his bouncing headlamp, I started wondering about the relationship running has with spirituality.  Running without the details and context provided by what our eyes see is a little like trying to understand Jesus without the detail-filled context of the New Testament.  For it is in the details that context finds meaning and traction.  As Dawid quickly navigated the darkness a few steps ahead of me, I wondered just how I might help him notice the details that, in my understanding, change the way we read the New Testament. 

     Darkness, in many ways, is one of life's great equalizers.  A sense of context and surety quickly lose themselves in the dark.  Could it be that one of my challenges as a father is to help my son see the details in the New Testament -- often hidden in the generalities, broad-brushed comments, and sweeping statements of spirituality and God today? 

     Mark introduces us to a blind man in his account of Jesus' life (Mark 10).  As with most of the stories passed on to us in the pages of the New Testament, the details of this man's life and encounter with Jesus throw light on the very meaning of the episode itself. 

     Blind men, beggars, and the poor, for the most part, live in the pages of history unnamed -- unworthy of the significance only a name can provide.  This man's darkness, most likely, was no different.  Lost and forgotten in the noise and dust of Jericho.  And yet, Mark, gives him a name (even adding a quick etymological explanation of his Aramaic roots for his Greek readers).  A detail that, like a headlamp in a dark forest, provides context and traction for the whole encounter.  If Mark was writing a few decades after this man's actual encounter with Jesus, could he have been calling attention to the fact his readers could still identify and remember this beggar-turned-follower of Jesus?  Did he decide to name him for the very reason that his unbelievable story of healing was known to be true by those reading Mark's account?  Could Mark have used Bartimaeus to point to the validity and realness of the encounters found in his Gospel? Could it be that there were eyewitnesses in the early church in Jerusalem who remembered the man who received his sight on that dusty road leaving Jericho? Matthew and Luke, both writing much later, include the story but drop the name.  Why?  Maybe they realized that his name wasn't as important, since those who would have known him personally were no longer alive. 

     A small detail, possibly without significance to the overall picture.  But for me, a sign that this little episode is grounded in real time and space.  Like a headlight in a dark forest, this detail provides context and traction that takes us back to a real encounter and to eyewitnesses who saw Jesus change the life of an unknown and seemingly insignificant blind beggar on the side of the road. 

     Mark concludes with the words, ". . . he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road."  Where did that road lead?  To Jerusalem.  Did this man become part of a growing fellowship of Jesus-followers in the city?  Were his open eyes and his story a tangible reminder and a testimony to the realness of the Galilean who claimed to be God?  I think so. 

     Dawid and I stopped a few times to turn off his headlight.  As the darkness closed in on us, we quickly lost a sense of context and depth, hearing only our increased heart rates and feeling the bite of the November night on our perspiring faces -- until we turned our eyes to the heavens.  Once again, in the light of the stars, we gained a sense of place, a certain context for working out a spirituality grounded in details of the light God provides for us.  A spirituality reaching back to a very real blind man who not only received his sight but a name as well.  A story that helps keep long division and a full inbox in some kind of realistic perspective. 
 
***


Printable Issue 2462  Today is Tuesday, December 11th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2462
It is a good time of the year to take our 'annual' look at the Christmas story and it's timeless good news.
 
In a world that is constantly changing, it is nice to know that God and the things for which He stands are never changing. He is the same
'yesterday, today, and forever'. We can count on Him!
 
 

Luke 2:8 – 12“That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them, ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you the most joyful news ever announced and it is for everyone! The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”

 

Commentary "The greatest event in history had just happened! The Messiah was born! For ages the Jews had waited for this, and when it finally happened, the announcement came to humble shepherds. The good news about Jesus is that he comes to all, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept him. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. Don’t think you need extraordinary qualifications – he accepts you as you are."
Printable Issue 2463  Today is Wednesday, December 12th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2463
The date today?  12/12/12; a number impossible again in our life times!!
 
Something written by Max Lucado, as he tells about 'voices in our head'; who hasn't heard them? The next question is 'how many and how often' do we believe them?
 
Voices in Our Head
 

Voices of ‘failure’ in our world.  Voices of ‘not good enough’ in our head. Who is this morality patrolman who issues a citation at every stumble?  Does he ever shut up?   No. Because Satan never shuts up!

Revelation 12:9 - 10 says, “For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth, the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night.”

Relentless, tireless.  The Accuser makes a career out of accusing. But he will not have the last word.  Jesus has acted on our behalf.  He stooped.  Low enough to be spat upon, nailed, and speared.  Low.  Low enough to be buried.

And then he stood up.  Romans 8:34 promises:  He is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. A clean conscience.  A clean record. Free from condemnation.

New life in Christ.  GRACE!

****

Printable Issue 2464  Today is Thursday, December 13th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2464
Something emailed to me by Tiffany Cramer; a piece which was covered by KCCI-TV in Des Moines. A good Christmas story! Who says, "Little things can't turn into bigger things?":
 
Singing family inspires man to give back
 
"We finished up lunch and were going to go across the street to the mall, and I came out and was caught off guard by a young family, I believe about five of them, singing Christmas carols," said Jody Anderson.
 
"We sang Feliz Navidad and the Little Drummer Boy for a while. And there were people dancing and having fun and putting in their money and it was fun," said Alejandra Martinez.
 
Anderson snapped a photo, donated $5 and went about his day, but he said later that night he couldn't help but be inspired by the family.
 
"I grew up fairly poor, at times needing money and food, and we just thought we had to do something, so what we did was we posted it to our Facebook page," said Anderson.
 
Anderson and his wife said they would donate $1 for every "like" the photo received in a 24-hour period.
 
"I said, 'Oh we'll get 200. We had 200 in two hours -- and it just kept growing and growing and growing," said Anderson.
 
In 24 hours, the photo had 700 likes. A friend of the Andersons helped to bring the total donation to $1,000.
 
"We were thinking, 'Oh we're just going to make a couple bucks for the Salvation Army, but I believe God's plans are always greater than our own plans," said Juan Martinez.
 
The families met on Monday and presented a check to the Salvation Army.
 
***


Printable Issue 2465  Today is Friday, December 14th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2465
Our church family just finished with a several-week study series on I John. Hard to give Karen's Korner readers all of the good points, but I thought I would give you the three broad areas found in the five chapters; the first verse in each area plus commentary on that one verse:
 
GOD IS LIGHT
 
"This is the message God has given us to pass on to you:
that God is Light and in him is no darkness at all."
~ I John 1:5
(first verse after the introduction)
 
Commentary:
Light represents what is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable.
Darkness represents sin and evil.
Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light,
sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God.
 
GOD IS LOVE
 
"See how very much our heavenly Father loves us,
for he allows us to be called his children -
think of it -
and we really are!!
~ I John 3:1a
 
Commentary:
As believers, our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us
and calls us his children.
We are his children, now;
not just sometime in the distant future.
Knowing that we are his children encourages us to live as Jesus did.
 
GOD IS LIFE
 
"If you believe that Jesus is the Christ -
that he is God's Son and your Savior -
than you are a child of God."
~ I John 5:1a
 
Commentary:
"When we become Christians,
we become part of God's family,
with fellow believers as our brothers and sisters.
It is God who determines who the other family members are;
not us.
We are simply called to accept and love them.
How well do you treat your fellow members in the family of God?
 
***
 
 
 
 
 
Printable Issue 2466  Today is Monday, December 17th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2466
Who in the United States hasn't heard nor been shocked and saddened by the school shootings in Connecticut and the loss of lives by so many, especially the innocent little children.
 
People are discussing how to solve these kinds of problems. Do you have thoughts? Email them to me and I may include your responses (at least some of them) in tomorrow's Karen's Korner.
 
This is something written by Max Lucado and sent out the next day.
 

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated. 

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,

Your Children

***

Printable Issue 2467  Today is Tuesday, December 18th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2467
Thanks for your responses to Max Lucado's prayer yesterday; it was good, wasn't it? Some of said you forwarded it; others made copies to share with others.
 
As I woke up this morning to more media coverage yet again today, I wondered if all this attention is good? Should there be a 'sick person' watching who might 'like' their 'day in the sun' if they were to do something so horrific, with so much press?
 
Several of your thoughts on what went wrong in Newtown, Connecticut; and some thoughts and possible solutions. We would be hard pressed to think anything would be simple or easy. (Some comments are in part):
 
 
From William : "While the desire to ban guns seems to be the popular direction to go, the real problems are issues with mental health.  Each of the recent shooting tragedies were committed by people with identified mental health issues.  Had several of them been properly identified and reported, they would not have been allowed to buy LEGAL guns.."
 
Charlotte said she had no answers but looked forward to what others might say and that too many times people with mental illness stop taking medications when they 'feel better':  "Without the hope that we have in our Lord and Savior, the journey would be pretty bleak. How I praise the Lord for sending his only Son. We have hope and have the joy of living that out for our children/grandchildren."
 
Cindy said, " First, we need more availability for mental health care. Second, we need to do something about our violent culture.  There are grade school age children playing violent video games, watching violent movies and television for hours on end.  It becomes a way of life for them. Third, we need to limit the access of military weapons and ammunition to the general public."
 
Marilyn said she has thought long and hard on the CT shootings, "  My final thought is this.  When a country turns their back on God anything can happen.  We don’t seem to want God in anything.  When there is a void of God, something moves in to fill that void and it is evil.  We need to turn back to God."
 
From Judy:  "We hear the problems are guns and video games are the culprit in this tragedy; Maybe we should realize taking Christ out of Christmas is a large part of this.  I don't understand what is happening in our Nation. Prayer taken out of our schools was the beginning.  Granted automatic weapons in our households are not at all necessary.  Movies, video games, and what we watch on television does not need to have all the violence and sex in them."
 
From Shirley:  "We MUST teach parenting skills at school, in church, in communities. And we must find some way to control drugs and alcohol and their usage."
 
From Darla:  "God is needed in everyone's day, week, month, and year. Those without His arms wrapped around them, how can they overcome evil without knowing His love for the children? Our God is working through many, trying to get us to spread His word and His love, even to those who are troubled. I can continue to spread His word, pray for His guidance, and love my neighbor."
 
From Connie:  "In the world you have troubles, but rejoice I have overcome the world"  These are Jesus' words that give us hope.  We must remember that God's love is stronger than death. We also know that the world lies in the power of the Evil One so, we should not be surprised when we see human suffering and pain around us. However, we can be surprised by joy every time we see that God, not the Evil One, has the last word. Being close to God, we are free to be led not by optimism, but by hope."
 
***
 
 
Printable Issue 2468  Today is Wednesday, December 19th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2468
For Christmas season, it's a good time to look at the words to "Joy to the World", written by Isaac Watts in 1719. It is one of the best known and best loved of all the Christmas carols.
 
This might a good year to think about "joy" to our world and be reminded that what Christ has to offer is better than anything that the 'world' can give us:
 
Joy To The World
 
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

***

Printable Issue 2469  Today is Thursday, December 20th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2469
This is a 'hot email' which has been sent around to many computers since the tragic events in Connecticut. I have received it a number of times from others; you may have as well.  If you have not.......enjoy!
 

11 Days Before CHRISTmas

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name,
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring.

Those children all flew into the arms of their King,
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had,
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."

Then He looked down on earth, the world far below.
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
Then He closed His eyes, and He outstretched His hand.
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"May this country be delivered from the hands of fools!"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"

Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now, my children, let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran,
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

****

Printable Issue 2470  Today is Friday, December 21st, 2012; Karen's Korner #2470
As we head toward Christmas Day:
 

Isaiah 9:6 & 7 

 

“For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder.

These will be his royal titles: 

“Wonderful”,

“Counselor”,

"The Mighty God”,

“The Everlasting Father”,

“The Prince of Peace”.

His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end.

He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David.

He will bring true justice and peace to all nations of the world.

This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated himself to do it!"

 

 

Commentary
 
"In a time of great darkness,
"God promised to send a Light who would shine on everyone living in the shadow of death.
He is both “Mighty God” (all powerful) and “Counselor” (all loving).
This message of hope was fulfilled in the birth of Christ and the establishment of his eternal kingdom.
He came to deliver all people from their slavery to sin."
 
***
Printable Issue 2471  Today is Monday, December 24th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2471
Max Lucado has some good thoughts as we celebrate the Christmas holiday:
 
No Room
 

Some of the saddest words on earth are:  “We don’t have room for you.”

Jesus knew the sound of those words.  He was still in Mary’s womb when the innkeeper said, “We don’t have room for you.” (Luke 2:7)

And when he was hung on the cross, wasn’t the message one of utter rejection?  “We don’t have room for you in our world.”

Even today Jesus is given the same treatment. He goes from heart to heart, asking if he might enter. Every so often, he’s welcomed.  Someone throws open the door of his or her heart and invites him to stay.  And to that person Jesus gives this great promise: “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” (John 14:2)

What a delightful promise he makes us! We make room for him in our hearts….And he makes room for us in his house!

****

Printable Issue 2472  Today is Tuesday, December 25th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2472
Merry Christmas!
 
O Holy Night!
 
O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviours birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees,
Oh, hear the angels voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night,
O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need,
To our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace;
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord,
Oh, praise His name forever!
His powr and glory evermore proclaim!
His powr and glory evermore proclaim!
 
**


Printable Issue 2473  Today is Wednesday, December 26th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2473
Something emailed to us yesterday by my aunt and uncle in Tennessee; enjoy this true story before the Christmas season has a chance to slip away:
 
A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty
apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing.
Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer.

Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never
come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked,
"Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?"
 
Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question
brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the
story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys.
He was too little at the time to compete in sports.
He was often called names he'd rather not remember.

From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed  to fit in.
Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job
as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression.
Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived.
 
Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings
and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment
in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.
 
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift.
 But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook!
Bob had created an animal character in his own mind
and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give comfort and hope.
  Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling.
 
Who was the character?
What was  the story all about?
The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form.
The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was.
The name of the character?
A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.
Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day.
 
But the story doesn't end there. 
The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little
storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book.
Wards went on to print, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and
distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores.
 
By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph.
That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards
to print an updated version of  the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights
back to Bob May. The book became a best seller.
Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a
growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.
 
But the story doesn't end there either. 
Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph.
Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore.
 it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal
success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas." 

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back
to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph,
that being different isn't so bad.
In fact, being different can be a blessing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
Enjoy life...   it has an expiration date!
 
***
Printable Issue 2474  Today is Thursday, December 27th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2474
Something written by Max Lucado as we move away from Christmas:
 
Chosen Children
 
There¡¯s something in you that God loves!  Not just appreciates or approves¡ªbut loves. You cause God¡¯s eyes to widen, his heart to beat faster. He loves you and accepts you.

There's something in you that God loves! Not just appreciates or approves--but loves! You cause God's eyes to widen, his heart to beat faster. He loves you and accepts you.

Don¡¯t we yearn to know this?  God, do you know who I am?  In the great scheme of things do I count for anything?  So many messages tell us we don¡¯t. We get laid off at work, turned away by the school.  Everything from acne to Alzheimer¡¯s leaves us feeling like the girl with no date to the prom.  We react.  We validate our existence with a flurry of activity.  We do more, buy more, achieve more.  Always, wrestling with the question, ¡°Do I matter?¡±

All of grace, I believe, is God¡¯s definitive reply.  ¡°Be blessed, my child.  I accept you.  I have adopted you into my family.¡±  Adopted children are chosen children!  Trust God¡¯s love for you!

¡°But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls ¡°Abba! Father!  Galatians 4:4-6¡å

Printable Issue 2475  Today is Friday, December 28th, 2012; Karen's Korner #2475
As we leave behind the Christmas season and get ready to embrace 2013, here are a couple of thoughts for us who sometimes think "I am only one and I can't do much!" or "Our group is so small we can't make a difference":
 
 
*  On Sunday night before Christmas, we went to the neighboring town of Dakota City to see 'one of the largest Christmas light displays in Iowa'. As we walked around a portion of the lights on the side-hill, we had the opportunity to talk with the gentleman who owns the home and light work. How many people put up the display each year? Two! He and his lady friend, both of whom are no doubt senior citizens (they hire a couple of people for two hours to help put up the 'tall' things). How many lights? More than 130,000. How many days do they work on putting up the light display each year? 59 days!
 
*  We moved down the street to twin town, Humboldt, to the Kiwanis-sponsored Christmasland and their 'shed' which houses a number of animated Christmas and winter figures. No charge to attend, but freewill donations are welcomed when visitors exit. A steady stream of Christmas-goers walked in line to view the dozens of moving figures. So how big is their club? "Twenty-three," said one of the gals helping to 'man' the exhibit which is open several hours each evening from Thanksgiving through Christmas plus extra hours on Saturdays and Sundays, "but there are only about ten active members, due to age and busy schedules." The bustling handful of Kiwanis worked for 'a month and a half' to get ready for their guests. She did mention they recruit some volunteers to help host/hostess some of the open hours outside of their club membership. Not-so-many-people, doing-not-so-easy things!
 
*  Early in December more than 20 members of our church family traveled a one-hour distance to Mason City to ring bells for Salvation Army, we 'manned' seven business doors for several hours, to collect funds to aid less fortunate people in our area in the upcoming months. Ages of our volunteers varied from three-year-old Grant who rang bells with his grandma, to 92-year-old (who will be 93 in January) Herb who just wanted to 'help'.
 
*  For the second year in a row, our granddaughter Molly, now a first grader, volunteered to be one part of the special music for their church's Christmas Eve program.  She does it because she likes to sing and the church family asked for volunteers. "Sure she could do it," Molly would say. This year she sang "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly". Now the words of her song continue to rattle around in my mind.
 
Hard to tell how many things have impacted the lives of others this Christmas season. Lists like these are long. Don't dismiss anything you may have done, or others did, to make a difference this year to celebrate this "One-of-a-Kind Birth in All Human History".
 

Infant holy, Infant lowly
For His bed a cattle stall
Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the Babe, is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing
Noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the Babe, is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story
Tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow
Praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the Babe was born for you.

***
Printable Issue 2476  Today is Monday, December 31st, 2012; Karen's Korner #2476
This time of the year is a good time to get and give books of all kinds, sizes and interests.
 
A smaller book which I have just read is titled "Simple Joys of the Amish Life" by Mindy Starns Clark and Georgia Varozza.
 
The first chapter is titled "The Joy of the Amish Life", and begins with these quotes:
 
"The Amish themselves don't always understand our attention either,
but in response a wise Amish man once issued the following challenge:
 
If you admire our faith, strengthen yours.
If you admire our sense of commitment, deepen yours.
 
If you admire our community spirit, build one.
If you admire the simple life, cut back.
 
If you admire quality merchandise or land stewardship, make quality.
If you admire deep character and enduring values, live them.
 
 
"This popular saying is frequently posted on the walls of restaurants and tourism attractions in Amish country. The first time I saw it, I understood why its message was so important. We can't all be Amish, but in many ways, we would do well to follow their example."
 
**
 
Some good thoughts as we begin the New Year! Happy New Year's Eve!!