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December 2003 Archives

Printable Issue 186  Today is Monday, December 1st, 2003; Karen's Korner #186

I received this Chicken Soup for the Soul email last week and I thought it was a good one. As more and more of us have "different" family relationships than are a part of our "traditional" families, there is a lot we still have to learn:

 

Same Agenda
By Patricia Pinney

 

We were sitting in the crowded auditorium waiting for the program to view the performance of our seven-year-old grandson, Tanner, in his school's annual Christmas pageant.

 

It was difficult to say who was more excited – the children or the audience. I looked around and spotted my son and his wife, with their four-month-old baby boy, and Tanner's maternal grandparents seated several rows behind us. We acknowledged each other with a smile and a wave.

 

Then I saw them – Tanner's "biological" paternal grandparents. My son and Tanner's mother had dated briefly as sixteen-year-olds, split up, then became reacquainted shortly after their high-school graduation when Tanner was just six months old. Even though my daughter-in-law never married Tanner's father, his parents had fought for grandparents' rights and won. Tanner may call my son "Daddy," but Tanner is bound by court order to go every other weekend for visitation with the parents of his "biological" father.

 

We had taken Tanner into our hearts as our own, and we weren't very willing to share him.

This had always been a particular sore spot for me. We did not know them well, and I feared the worst when he went with them on their weekend. In retrospect, we should have viewed it as commendable that they were interested enough in Tanner to pay a lawyer and go through the complicated legal system.

 

So there we were, separated by a few rows of folding chairs. There were only a few instances where we had been thrown together, and each of these meetings had been uncomfortable. I saw the woman look at us, nudge her husband and whisper in his ear. He immediately looked back at us as well.

 

My ears were burning as if on fire. I attempted to remember why we were here – our common bond, a child that meant so much to us.

 

Shortly thereafter the program started, and for the next hour we were enthralled. Before we knew it, the lights were on, and we were gathering our things to leave. We followed the crowd into the hall and searched for our grandson.

 

We soon found him, and suddenly three sets of grandparents were thrown together, each waiting to take our turn in congratulating Tanner on a fine performance. We eyed each other and spoke a brief "hello."

 

Finally, it was our turn to hug Tanner and discuss his job well done. His eyes were shining brightly, and he was obviously proud to be the object of so much adoration.

 

I leaned down to hear what he was saying. "Grandma, I'm so lucky!" Tanner exclaimed, clapping his hands together.

 

"Because you did such a fine job?" I innocently asked.

 

"No, because all my favorite people are here! My Mom, Dad, little brother, and all my grandmas and grandpas are here together, just to see me!"

 

I looked up, stunned at his remark.

 

My eyes met those of the "other" grandma, and I could see she was feeling the same shame as I was. I was horrified at my thoughts and feelings over all these years.

 

What had given only me the right to love this little boy? They obviously loved him as much as we did, and he obviously loved each of us. They also no doubt had their own fears about us. How could we have been so blind?

 

As I looked around, I could see we were all ashamed of our previous feelings on this subject. We visited briefly, said our good-byes and went our separate ways.

 

I've thought a lot about our encounter since that night, and I admit I feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don't fear Tanner's weekend visits like I used to.

 

I discovered that we all have the same agenda – to love a little boy who truly belongs to all of us.

Printable Issue 187  Today is Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003; Karen's Korner #187

A couple of short thoughts.......

 

* When need is greatest, God is nearest.
--German Proverb

 

* When you say a situation or a person is hopeless,
you are slamming the door in the face of God.
--Rev. Charles L. Allen

 

..... and 2 thoughts taken from a 1993 calendar......

 

* Conflict is inevitable. Fighting is a choice.

 

* The Native Americans start the day by saying:

"Thank you for this beautiful day (regardless of what kind of day it is):

Thank you for this life (regardless of what the life is);

Thank you for the water without which life would be impossible."

 

....... and a joke from Jack Burt...........:

 

A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.

She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?"

The clerk says, "What denomination?"

The woman says, "God help us. Has it come to this?! Give me 6 Catholic, 12

Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran and 22 Baptist!"

Printable Issue 188  Today is Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003; Karen's Korner #188

"Why Christmas?" must be a "hot" pass around email right now. I got it last week from Shirley Southard and Al Bennett. If you haven't read it, I hope that you enjoy the reading:

 

Why Christmas?

 

I recently heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable and hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she and the kids finally made it to the elevator.

She was feeling what so many feel during the holiday season. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, buy that perfect gift for every person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, ....

Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot."

From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry, we already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing...in your thoughts, deeds, purchases, and words. If we all did it, just think of how different this whole world would be.

Printable Issue 189  Today is Thursday, December 4th, 2003; Karen's Korner #189

I like to share what others email to me, many of which are passed along from one person to another.

 

Thank you for allowing me to share different thoughts that I have, write, and forward to you.

Not as often, I have others write something that I enjoy sharing. This one is written by a long-time school friend of our daughter, Jamie: John Meyer is a 1989 CGHS graduate and now a special ed teacher in the Des Moines School system:

 

Where Is God?

 

Where is God in the world today?

Where is He in the multitude of gray?

If only He would reveal His face.

To show He actually cares about the human race.

 

Where is God in the world today?

Where is He in the multitude of gray?

Crime, poverty, hunger, war, disease abound

tear away at our hearts, drag us down.

 

What I would give to see His face.

He could instantly end this insane rat race.

So where is the Immanuel; God with us?

Does He exist; should I really trust?

 

 

As crazy as this world seems

believe me His face still beams.

He still walks upon this earth, so very near.

He loves unconditionally as He did on the cross; held us dear.

 

God is the autumn leaves: orange, yellow, red.

He is the kind words that were said.

God is there when a child for the first time rides a bike.

He is there when a boy hugs his new puppy, Spike.

 

God is the ants who diligently work.

He is the disabled child with all his little quirks.

God is the fragrance the flowers wear.

He is the sunlight cast upon her long blonde hair.

 

God is the waterfall that flows; a sparkling fountain.

He is the majestic mountain.

God is the birds that soar across the sky.

He is there for the newborn baby’s first cry.

 

God is there with the couple walking along the beach.

He is the tasty strawberry, the juicy orange, the sweet peach.

God is the cute little girl playing in the puddle.

He is in the midst of the high school football game,

right square in the huddle.

 

God is the kind hand of a friend.

He is the parent whose tough love will never end.

God is the melody in a singer’s voice.

He is there when a teenager makes a difficult choice.

 

God is the soldier who gave up his life.

He is the comforter in all our pain and strife.

To think He provided all of this,

and yet was condemned to death with a friend’s kiss.

 

But He still loves us so much He took on our burden, our sin

and won the war we could never win.

God is still in the world today

and the world really isn’t that gray.

 

If we just take the time to clear our eyes

we will surely see a daily surprise.

For His smile is my smile and your smile

if we would just slow down and realize it once and a while.

 

What an amazing God we have if we just look.

His daily reminder is the good book.

His love letter to us all;

the written guarantee that He took our fall.

 

His written promise that from Him we will never be apart

for He lives in our heart.

 

(John 14:18) I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you.
Printable Issue 190  Today is Friday, December 5th, 2003; Karen's Korner #190

This email is from Pat Holtapp. Enjoy:


5 Fingers of Prayer

This is beautiful - and it is surely worth making
the 5 finger prayer a part of our lives.

1. Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your
prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the

easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones
is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."


2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for
those who teach,
instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors,
and ministers. They need
support and wisdom in pointing others in the right
direction. Keep them in
your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds
us of our leaders. Pray
for the president, leaders in business and industry,
and administrators.
These people shape our nation and guide public
opinion. They need God's
guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising
to many is the fact that
this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher
will testify. It should
remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble
or in pain. They need


your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much
for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest
finger of all. Which is
where we should place ourselves in relation to God
and others. As the Bible
says, "The least shall be the greatest among you."
Your pinkie should remind
you to pray for yourself.

Printable Issue 191  Today is Monday, December 8th, 2003; Karen's Korner #191

Here is another version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Tim Platt organized 8 people who read portions of it at last week's What's for Supper? at our church. It was forwarded to me from Al Bennett; enjoy!

 

Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the town
Not a sign of Baby Jesus
was anywhere to be found.

The people were all busy
with Christmas time chores
Like decorating, and baking,
and shopping in stores.

No one sang "Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed".
Instead, they sang of Santa
dressed-up in bright red..

Mama watched Martha Stewart,
Papa drank beer from a tap.
As hour upon hour
the presents they'd wrap.

Then what from the TV
did they suddenly hear?
'Cept an ad.. Which told
of a big sale at Sears.

So away to the mall
they all flew like a flash...
Buying things on credit...
and others with cash!

And, as they made their way home
from their trip to the mall,
did they think about Jesus?
Oh, no... not at all.

Their lives were so busy
with their Christmas time things
No time to remember
Christ Jesus, the King.

There were presents to wrap
and cookies to bake.
How could they stop and remember
who died for their sake?

To pray to the Savior...
they had no time to stop.
Because they needed more time to
"Shop til they dropped!"

On Wal-mart! On K-mart!
On Target! On Penney's!
On Hallmark! On Zales!
A quick lunch at Denny's

From the big stores downtown
to the stores at the mall
They would dash away, dash away,
and visit them all!

And up on the roof,
there arose such a clatter
As grandpa hung icicle lights
up on his brand new stepladder.

He hung lights that would flash.
He hung lights that would twirl.
Yet, he never once prayed to Jesus...
Light of the World.

Christ's eyes... how they twinkle!
Christ's Spirit... how merry!
Christ's love... how enormous!
All our burdens... He'll carry!

So instead of being busy,
overworked, and uptight
Let's put Christ back in Christmas,
and enjoy some good nights!


Merry Christmas, my friends!

Printable Issue 192  Today is Tuesday, December 9th, 2003; Karen's Korner #192

Who doesn't know that our daughter, Jamie and her husband Tim, are having a baby in the upcoming few weeks?

 

This is something I wrote back in June when we first learned she was pregnant. Obviously the baby isn't the "size of an apple seed" any more. Ultrasound pictures show a baby boy...getting bigger everyday:

 

Protecting Valuable Things

June 10, 2003

 

Last week, our daughter, Jamie and her husband, Tim, came home to tell us the good news. They are going to have a baby! So excited were they when they learned the news that day, they had driven 90 miles to our farm home to share with us doctors' reports.

 

Jamie went on to tell us that the several weeks’ old fetus was "now the size of an apple seed". Pretty small! Jamie went on, "I know this sounds funny, but I think I can already tell it a little bit in how my jeans are fitting me!"

 

Hard to tell for sure, but there is more than a baby the size of an apple seed growing inside of Jamie’s body. There is a sack filling up with some fluid to allow that new being to be protected for the next few months’ ride. Fragile little babies need to have an environment that allows for lots bangs and bumps without causing them any harm or injury!

 

Sort of like us who aren’t in a mother’s womb any longer! We still need to be protected from the bangs and blows of disappointment, broken relationships, illnesses, losses of any kind. God knew, and knows, that, too! He allows us to be adopted as little children into His family. He surrounds us with His Love, His Arms, His Strength. He knows how fragile we are as His Children and how unable we are to survive in our day-to-day world. He longs for us to ask to be adopted by Him; to receive His Love and nurturing care.

 

Just like Tim and Jamie’s baby who may get jostled by bumps and blows in the upcoming few months, we may get banged and bruised by life’s circumstances. But they don’t have to turn in to fractures and wounds. Life’s hazards can be deflected by the protective sack of God’s loving arms. That sack contains God’s love, which oozes over each of us. He knows we can’t handle much of what life might toss at us….so He offers His God-kind of protection! And that protection lasts into eternity!

Printable Issue 193  Today is Wednesday, December 10th, 2003; Karen's Korner #193

Something that I received from Diane Schroeder earlier this week, titled "I Love Christmas!"

 

The older I get...
The closer I feel to old friends as I write my Christmas Cards...

The more I cherish old ornaments...
The more fondly I remember Christmases past...
The longer I hold on to a Christmas hug...
The more I realize Christmas is a matter of the heart...
The tighter my throat gets when I sing "Silent Night'...
The more I enjoy giving than receiving...
The longer I sit at night in the glow of the Christmas tree..

The more wondrously beautiful the Christmas Story...
The deeper my awe at God's infinite love....

The more I love Christmas !!!

Printable Issue 194  Today is Thursday, December 11th, 2003; Karen's Korner #194

We had a kick-off concert last night to inaugurate Gary Brandt's first CD production and in spite of less-than-the-best weather conditons we had a nice turnout for the supper/concert.

 

This is something that I wrote on Tuesday morning:

 

Faith

 

For the past several months, several friends and I have been working to produce a CD with Gary Brandt, a talented area musician. To kick off the sale of the CD, a concert is planned for Wednesday night.

 

As we worked with the company making the musical discs, I have had the opportunity to talk at length to two different people concerning every aspect of the production. They seem to be very reputable people, working with an organized business. When I talked with one of the employees several week ago, I told her that we needed to have the CDs prior to December 10, concert night.

 

She always pledged they would be available on time. "We are shipping them today," she said, when I called, one week ahead of our needed date. "It is a two-day delivery from New Jersey to Iowa via UPS, so you will get them on Monday. If you want to call back tomorrow, we will give you a tracking number to follow the progress."

 

I never called back to the CD production company and I didn't know the status of the valuable packages. I knew two things: I believed this company knew what they were doing and talking about; and I trusted UPS and their reputation of getting things delivered consistently. I had "faith" in both of them.

 

Walking with our dog on Monday afternoon, I saw the dusty UPS truck turn at the corner, south of our farm home and head east. Without actually getting back to our house, I knew that our CD packages had arrived.......two days ahead of the actual concert date.

 

Same things God wants from us. He wants us to talk with him on "everyday" issues and to get to know Him and His reputation for taking care of all the details of our lives. He wants us to know Him so well that we can believe what He tells us, even if our "packages" haven't been delivered yet. He wants us to do, what I did for the UPS company, to trust His reputation of getting us, and "things", cared for consistently.

 

If that happens, we won't have to worry about tracking numbers or need to run and to rip open boxes to see if our desired "products" have arrived. All we have to do is continue our walk back to the house, praising God for the stack of packages we know is waiting for us inside. Everything will be taken care of for us........like always, and just in the nick of time!

Printable Issue 195  Today is Friday, December 12th, 2003; Karen's Korner #195

Several short thoughts:

 

* If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it.

* Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art.

* The luxury of doing good surpasses every other personal enjoyment.

(Taken from a publication given to me, by ?????)

 

---

 

* One sprinkles the most sugar where the tart is burned.
--Dutch Proverb


* If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.
--Marva N. Collins

 

-----

 

The Night Song

 

Written by Marilyn Chapman

 

The night is a song

And it beguiles me like the nightingale

It flirts with my spirit

Cunning as a lion in wait for my soul

Tis God will crush him under my feet

Turn even this bitter for my sweet

When morning comes I'll find my peace

Printable Issue 196  Today is Monday, December 15th, 2003; Karen's Korner #196

Two things sent to me by others in the past week. Enjoy!

 

From Bob Hall:

 

"'One evening, as we reviewed our calendar and a stack of time-consuming opportunities, the thought came, "Why not prioritize everything we do on the basis of who's going to be crying at our funeral?' We did it. The results saved our family. This simple question---'who's going to be crying at our funeral?'---cuts out time wasters with the accuracy of a laser beam. Why should you and I give ourselves to people who don't love us, at the expense of those who do? Prioritizing this way keeps us focused on our biblical priorities."

 

****

 

And from Lois Lesher:

 

An atheist was quite incensed over the preparation for Easter and Passover holidays and decided to contact the local ACLU about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while the atheists had no holidays for them to celebrate.

 

The ACLU jumped on the opportunity to once again pick up the cause of the downtrodden and assigned their sharpest attorney to the case.

 

The case was brought up before a learned judge who after listening to the passionate presentation by the ACLU representative, promptly banged his gavel and said "Case dismissed!"

The ACLU lawyer stood up and objected to the ruling and said "Your honor, how can you dismiss this case? Surely the Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. And the Jews, why in addition to Passover they have Yom Kippur and Hanukkah.....and yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!"

 

The judge leaned back in his chair and simply said "Obviously your client is too confused to know about or for that matter even celebrate
the atheists holiday!"

The ACLU lawyer pompously said "We are aware of no such holiday for atheists, just when might that be?"

The judge said "Well it comes every year at the same time---April 1st"



"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" - Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1

Printable Issue 197  Today is Tuesday, December 16th, 2003; Karen's Korner #197

Quite often this time of year, people will hear portion's of Handel's "Messiah". Included in the song lines is the Bible verse from Isaiah 9:6"

 

"For unto us child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

 

Our church sermon on Sunday was talking about what we would look for in a "Counselor": qualified, wise, knowledgeable, understanding, available, thoughtful, caring. All attributes of God.

 

The minister went on to say that depression for most people is due to:

 

* they want someone to love who will love them back;

* they need and want something worthwhile to do;

* they need something to believe in and hope for in the future.

 

And God can do all 3 of those things for us, too: God wants us to know how much He loves us and for us to return that love. If we stick with Him, He will give us worthwhile tasks to complete. And the future? Well, that is something that is out of this world with a future there never ends.

 

Looks like He has given us all we need! All the time!!

Printable Issue 198  Today is Wednesday, December 17th, 2003; Karen's Korner #198

I am starting to get quite a collection of good Christmas pass-along emails. I will continue to share some of them with you. This one is from Mark Young:

 

1 Corinthians 13 A Christmas Version

 

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling

lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another

decorator.

 

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas

cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table

at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

 

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I

have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

 

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,

attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do

not focus on Christ, I have missed the point. Love stops the cooking to

hug the child.

 

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love

is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that

has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids

to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

 

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices

in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

 

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust,

but giving the gift of love will endure.

 

Merry Christmas and lots of love to you and yours!

Printable Issue 199  Today is Thursday, December 18th, 2003; Karen's Korner #199

Thanks for the forwarded Christmas emails which I have been getting from you. I hope that I have the right amount of time to forward some of them via Karen's Korner in the next few days. This one is from Arlene Lockwood:

 

God Came As A Man


There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion. His wife, however, did believe, and she also raised their children to have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.


A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window.

In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe. "Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn--and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese... blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son to become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of the birth of Christ, he realized. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood why Christ came as a man.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"
Printable Issue 200  Today is Friday, December 19th, 2003; Karen's Korner #200

Thanks for being able to celebrate #200 of Karen's Korners!

 

Forwarded from Maureen Elston:


Santa & Grandma

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go." "Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through it's doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he had no coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) and write, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.

Finally it did, and there stood Bobby. Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the tag tucked inside: $19.95.



Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

Printable Issue 201  Today is Monday, December 22nd, 2003; Karen's Korner #201

Christmas story forwarded by Shirley Southard:

 

About a week before Christmas, Mom bought a new nativity scene.

When she unpacked it, she found two figures of the Baby Jesus.

 

"Someone must have packed this wrong," mother said, counting out the
figures. "We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds,
two lambs, a donkey, cow, an angel, and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose
some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have two."

 

"You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an
extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes saying that if
a set is missing a Baby Jesus, call 7126. Put on your warm coats, it's
freezing cold out there."

 

The manager of the store copied down mother's message, and the next
time we were in the store, we saw the cardboard sign that read, "If you're
missing Baby Jesus, call 7126." All week long we waited for someone to call.

Surely, we thought, someone was missing that important figurine. Each
time the phone rang, mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus."

But it never was.

 

Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the
country, and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas
or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested
that she just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it. "Put
Baby Jesus back in the box?! What a terrible thing to do," said mother.

"Surely someone will call. We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger
until someone does."

 

When no call had come by 5:00 on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that
father "just run down to the store" to see if there were any sets left.

"You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she
said. "If they are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight."

 

"Run down to the store?" father thundered. "It's 15 below zero out there!"

"Oh, Daddy, we'll go with you!" We began to put on our coats. Father gave
a long sigh and headed for the front closet. "I can't believe I'm doing this,"

he muttered.

 

We ran ahead as father reluctantly walked out in the cold. Tommy got to
the store first and pressed his nose up to the store window.

"They're all gone, Daddy," he shouted. "Every set must be sold. Hooray!
The mystery will be solved tonight!"

 

Father heard the news still a half block away and immediately turned on
his heel and headed back home. When we got back into the house, we
noticed that mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine.

"Someone must have called, and she went out to deliver the figurine,"

father reasoned, pulling off his boots. "You kids get ready for bed while I

wrap mother's present."

Then the phone rang. Father yelled "answer the phone and tell 'em we
found a home for Jesus." But it was mother calling with instructions for us to
come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box
of cookies and some milk..

 

"Now what has she gotten us into?" father groaned as we bundled up again.
205 Chestnut. Why that's across town. Wrap that milk up good in the blankets
or it will turn to ice before we get there. Why can't we all just get on with Christmas?

It's probably 20 below out there now. And the wind is picking up. Of all the crazy things

to do on a night like this."

 

When we got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street, it was the darkest one on the block.
Only one tiny light burned in the living room, and the moment we set foot on the porch

steps, mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here! Oh thank God you got

here, Ray! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones

on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies."


"Would you mind telling me what is going on, Ethel?" father asked. "We have just

walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way."

 

"Never mind all that now," mother interrupted. "There is no heat in this
house, and this young mother is so upset, she doesn't know what to do. Her
husband walked out on her, and those poor little children will have a very bleak
Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jffy."


My mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while my brother and
I wrapped up the five little children who were huddled together on the
couch. The children's mother explained to my father that her husband had
run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had
been doing all right until the furnace broke down.


"I been doin' washin' an ironin' for people and cleanin' the five and dime,"
she said. "I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter.
When the furnace went out, that number kept goin' through my mind. 7162,
7162. "Said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you.
That's how I knew you were good Christian people, willin' to help folks.
I figured that maybe you would help me, too. So I stopped at the grocery
store tonight, and I called your missus. I'm not missin' Jesus, mister,
because I sure love the Lord. But I am missin' heat. I have no money to fix that
furnace."

 

"Okay, okay," said father. "You've come to the right place. Now let's see.

You've got a little oil burner over there in the dining room. Shouldn't be too
hard to fix. Probably just a clogged flue. I'll look it over, see what it needs."

 

Mother came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies and warm
milk. As she set the cups down on the coffee table, I noticed the figure of
Baby Jesus lying in the center of the table. It was the only sign of Christmas
in the house. The children stared wide-eyed with wonder at the plate of
cookies my mother set before them.

 

Father finally got the oil burner working but said, "You need more oil.

I'll make a few calls tonight and get some oil. Yes sir, we came to the right place."

 

On the way home, father did not complain about the cold weather and had
barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone. "Ed, hey, how are ya,
Ed? Yes, Merry Christmas to you, too. Say Ed, we have kind of an unusual
situation here. I know you've got that pick-up truck. Do you still have some oil in
that barrel on your truck? You do?"

 

By this time the rest of the family was pulling clothes out of their closets and toys

off of their shelves. It was long after our bedtime when we were wrapping gifts.

The pickup came. On it were chairs, three lamps, blankets and gifts. Even though

it was 30 below, father let us ride along in the back of the truck.

 

No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but as I grow

older I realize that it wasn't a packing mistake at all. Jesus saves, that's what He does.

 

** Author Unknown

Printable Issue 202  Today is Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003; Karen's Korner #202

Christmas week emails continue with this one from Shirley Southard:

 

GOLD, COMMON SENSE AND FUR

My husband and I had been happily (most of the time)
married for five years, but hadn't been blessed with
a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and
promised God that if He would give us a child, I
would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart
and raise it with His word as my guide. God answered
my prayers and blessed us with a son.

 

The next year God blessed us with another son. The
following year, He blessed us with yet another son.

The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.

My husband thought we'd been blessed right into
poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest
was only four years old. I learned never to ask God
for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once
told me, "If you pray for rain, make sure you carry
an umbrella."

I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the
children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was
off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four
children and I didn't want to disappoint Him.

I tried to be patient the day the children smashed
two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for
baby chicks. I tried to be understanding when they
started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare
bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to
catch all twenty-three frogs.

When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and
rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a
hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the
mess.

In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand
diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping
for more than thirty minutes at a time, I still
thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn't keep my promise to be a perfect
mother. I didn't even come close. I did keep my
promise to raise them in the Word of God.

I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I
told my daughter we were going to church to worship
God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to
"wash up" Jesus, too.

Something was lost in the translation when I
explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my
son thought it was generous of God to give us his
"last wife."

My proudest moment came during the children's
Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two
of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a
wise man. This was their moment to shine. My
five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, "We
found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." But he
was nervous and said, "The baby was wrapped in
wrinkled clothes."

My four-year-old "Mary" said, "That's not 'wrinkled
clothes,' silly. That's dirty, rotten clothes." A
wrestling match broke out between Mary and the
shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her
halo and lost her left wing.

I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary
dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it
bounced down the aisle crying, "Mama, Mama." Mary
grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it
tightly as the wise men arrived. My other son
stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper
crown, knelt at the manger and announced, "We are
the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of
gold, common sense and fur."

The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the
pageant got a standing ovation. "I've never enjoyed
a Christmas program as much as this one," Pastor
Brian laughed, wiping tears from his eyes. "For the
rest of my life, I'll never hear the Christmas story
without thinking of gold, common sense and fur."

"My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest
blessing," I said as I dug through my purse for an
aspirin.

Printable Issue 203  Today is Wednesday, December 24th, 2003; Karen's Korner #203

A Christmas email from Charlotte Kern:

 

Subject: A birthday celebration!!!

 

You are cordially invited to:

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!!!

 

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ

Date: Every day. Traditionally, December 25
but He's always around, so the date is flexible....

Time: Whenever you're ready.
(Please don't be late, though, or you'll miss out on all the fun!)

Place: In your heart.... He'll meet you there.
(You'll hear Him knock.)

Attire: Come as you are... grubbies are okay.
He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about
new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.

 

Tickets: Admission is free. He's already paid for everyone...
(He says you wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway...
it cost Him everything He had. But you do need to accept the ticket!!

Refreshments: New wine, bread, and a far-out drink He calls "Living Water,"
followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world!

 

Gift Suggestions: Your life. He's one of those people who already has

everything else. (He's very generous in return though.
Just wait until you see what He has for you!)

 

Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth, Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness,
Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power,
Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more!
(All "G" rated, so bring your family and friends.)

R.S.V.P. Very Important!
He must know ahead so He can
reserve a spot for you at the table.
Also, He's keeping a list of His friends for future
reference. He calls it the "Lamb's Book of Life."


Party being given by His Kids (that's us!!)!
Hope to see you there! For those of you whom I will
see at the party, share this with someone today.

Printable Issue 204  Today is Thursday, December 25th, 2003; Karen's Korner #204

Merry Christmas!

 

Hope that you enjoy this email which I received from Lee & Wilma Gamblin who recently retired and

moved from Clarion. Lee was the Nazarene pastor here:

 

WHY JESUS IS BETTER THAN SANTA CLAUS??

Santa lives at the North Pole .

JESUS is everywhere.

 

Santa rides in a sleigh .
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

 

Santa comes but once a year .
JESUS is an ever present help.

 

Santa fills your stockings with goodies ...
JESUS supplies all your needs.

 

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited ...
JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters

your heart when invited.

 

You have to wait in line to see Santa ...
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

 

Santa lets you sit on his lap .
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

 

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is
"Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?" .

JESUS knew our name before we were born.
Not only does He know our name,

He knows our address too.

He knows our history and future and

He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

 

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly ...
JESUS has a heart full of love

 

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO .
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

 

Santa says "You better not cry" .
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

 

Santa's little helpers make toys .
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs

broken homes and builds mansions.

 

Santa may make you chuckle but .
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

 

While Santa puts gifts under your tree ...
JESUS became our gift and died on a tree.... The cross.

We need to put Christ back in CHRISTmas, Jesus is still
the reason for the season.

-----

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not

perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Printable Issue 205  Today is Friday, December 26th, 2003; Karen's Korner #205

A "day-after Christmas" email from Lois Lesher (and various versions from others!):

 

The "W" in Christmas

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing,
endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious
family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season
for a six year old.

For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the
production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She
assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.
Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early,
found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several
other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students
were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat
cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday
as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial
entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my
son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its
bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy
mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.
Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one,
to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the
letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his
portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a
small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally
unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's
mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall,
proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued
until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over
the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated
the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for
our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"C H R I S T    W A S    L O V E"

Printable Issue 206  Today is Monday, December 29th, 2003; Karen's Korner #206

Got this last week from my uncle----who lives in Tennessee:

 

Why I Love Iowa at Christmas Time…..

 

When it’s Christmas time in Iowa, and the gentle breezes blow,

about seventy miles an hour and it’s fifty-two below.

 

You can tell you’re in Iowa ‘cause the snow’s piled up to your butt,

and when you take a breath of Christmas air

and your nose holes both freeze shut,

 

the weather here is wonderful, so I guess I’ll hang around……..

I could never leave Iowa….as my feet are frozen to the ground.

 

*****

 

And from Jim's cousin who lives in Cedar Rapdis:

 

It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the cradle when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures of the nativity set.

 

Immediately he turned and went outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant Jesus. He walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get Him, my fine friend?"

The little boy replied, "I got him from the church."

"And why did you take Him?"

The boy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the Lord Jesus, and I told Him if He would give me a red wagon for Christmas, I would give Him a ride around the block in it."

Printable Issue 207  Today is Tuesday, December 30th, 2003; Karen's Korner #207

The letter included below is written by Dr. James Dobson's daughter, Danae; concerning the new Mel Gibson film which will be released near Easter time. It was forwarded to me by Jim's nephew's wife, Jolene.

Dear Friends:

A couple months ago, I had the unique privilege of accompanying my
family to Mel Gibson's studio to see a private screening of his film, The
Passion.


Many of you have probably heard about this portrayal of the last 12
hours in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. I can say that The Passion is the
most beautiful, profound, accurate, disturbing, realistic, and bloody
depiction of this story that I have ever seen. It is truly amazing, and it left
all of speechless for a few minutes when it was over.

Mr. Gibson entered the room during the last ten minutes of the
screening, and stayed for an hour to discuss the content and to answer
questions. He's hoping that my dad and Focus on the Family will help promote it,

and my dad has (without question!) agreed to do so.

Mr. Gibson expressed a concern about his position in the entertainment industry,

and said that this film will affect his status from here on. When
asked why he made the movie, he said that he had no choice in the
matter--he felt called to the assignment, and he was determined to carry it out.
Questions had been raised as to whether he can find a distributor.
Asked about it at the screening, Mr. Gibson said confidently, "Oh, I'll
find a distributor!"

The Passion should not be labeled a religious film, or something to be shown
only in churches. Compared with examples of recent Christian films, like
Left Behind, The Passion is a work of high art and great storytelling.
The rough cut I saw contained graphic scenes, including the seemingly
endless scourging of Jesus. The crucifixion scene is long, bloody and painful
to watch. It's very disturbing, but it's also moving at the same time.
While I was taking all of this in, I was thinking, "Christ did this for ME,
and he would have gone through it if I was the only one in all the world,
and the same goes for each person who has ever lived!"

To those in the Jewish community who worry that the film, which is scheduled
for release next Easter season ('04), might contain anti-Semitic elements,
or encourage people to persecute Jews, fear not. The film does not indict
Jews for the death of Jesus. It is faithful to the New testament account.
Also, Mr. Gibson, a devout Roman Catholic, does not elevate Mary beyond
what Scripture says of her, which will broaden the film's appeal to Protestants.

The dialogue is in Aramaic and Latin. English subtitles are provided, and
they are very helpful in following the story line. A decision about using
them in the final version has not been made. My family and I tried to
persuade Mr. Gibson to leave the subtitles in, and my dad pointed out
that those who are unbelievers (or those who are weak in their understanding)
will have no idea of what's going on in the flashback scenes of Jesus'
life without subtitles.

In The Passion, few liberties are taken with the Gospel account, and the
extra dialogue added helps round out the characters without damaging
historical or Biblical accuracy. Satan is cleverly played as an asexual being

who at first seems to be an observer in the Garden of Gethsemane

(and other scenes), but then becomes a snake slithering between the

character's feet and attempting to wrap itself around the arm of the

prostrate and praying Jesus.

The film is an intense two hours. It uses unknown actors, which keeps
the focus on the message. By the end of the film (a unique portrayal of
the Resurrection), the viewer is exhausted!

 

Thirteen years ago, actor Mickey Rooney wrote an editorial for Variety
in which he said, "The onscreen depiction of religion is less than flattering,
and, as a Christian, I pray the era of denigrating religion on screen comes
to a screeching halt. And soon." His prayer has been answered in The Passion.

It is a soul-stirring film that deserves wide distribution and viewing.

Its message is not just for Christians, but for everyone. I hope you all will

support Mel Gibson's bold and courageous effort to portray the sacrifice that

our Lord made for us. Pass this email on, if you feel led, and be sure to see

The Passion when it comes out. Yes, it is a disturbing film, but every person

should see this realistic depiction of what Christ did for them!

Blessings to you,

 

Danae Dobson

Printable Issue 208  Today is Wednesday, December 31st, 2003; Karen's Korner #208

Several short thoughts, proverbs, quotations:


* He who is caught in a lie is not believed when he
tells the truth.
--Spanish Proverb

* There are lots of people who mistake their imagination
for their memory.
--Josh Billings

 

* Our faults irritate us most when we see them in others.
--Pennsylvania Dutch Proverb

* Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
--Mark Twain

 

·         We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are
full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.
--Gypsy Proverb

·         Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.
--Langston Hughes

 

·         One filled with joy preaches without preaching.
-- Mother Teresa