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May 2005 Archives

Printable Issue 536  Today is Monday, May 2nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #536
I have been hanging on to a couple of emails which I marked "save for mothers' day". Well, this is the week. Enjoy:
 
A Cup of Coffee
By Barb Huff

I heated up a cup of coffee today in the microwave. I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry as I stood there holding the steaming cup for the second time this morning. My son woke up crying, and it took nearly an hour of singing, consoling and rocking to get him back to sleep. In the meantime, my coffee got cold. So, I heated it up in the microwave.

I grew up vowing never to be like my mother. She is a wonderful, strong woman, and anyone would be proud to be like her. But I wasn't going to be. No one in town seemed to know her name. To the teachers and students at the various schools her children attended, she was simply known as ____'s mom (fill in the blank with any one of her five children's names). At the grocery stores and around the auto parts stores and hardware places, they affectionately called her "Mrs. Dale" after my father's first name; and the folks at the bank, utility companies and other such important places addressed her with Dad's last name, as Mrs. Keffer. Mom answered to all of these with a smile and kind words.

I, on the other hand, was never as gracious about it. Often, I would tell the bagger at the grocery store, "Her name is Joyce, by the way," as he handed her the bag and told her to have a nice day using one of the aforementioned names. Mom would always smile and say, "You have a good day, too," as she shot me the mind-your-manners-I-taught-you-better-than-that look. When we would then get to the car, I would bicker at her for not standing up for herself. "You are your own person," I would retort. "You're not just an extension of Dad."

"I could be called a lot worse," she would always reply. "Besides, everyone knows your dad."

Everyone in this small town did know my dad. He was a friendly, hard-working man who liked to flirt with the checkout girls and give car advice to anyone who needed it. He could charm his way out of a speeding ticket and talk his way into a better deal with ease. He would not think twice about fixing a broken part on one of the neighbor kid's bikes. Or leaving in the middle of a cold winter night to change a frightened teen's flat tire.

But everyone knew my mom, too. While Dad was a great man in the community, Mom was equally special. She had her own way of talking herself into a good deal, and she loved to give friendly advice to people she met. When she would wake up on cold, snowy mornings to a house full of college kids who had been stranded in town, she would weave her way through the sleeping bodies and fix enough pancakes for all. If anyone was in need, my mom was right in the thick of the fight to help. She would collect items for a family who lost all in a house fire, canned goods for the church pantry, and clothes for a teen mother's baby when no one else would help.

As a teen, I never understood my mom. How could someone with so much to offer the world be content to stay home and be known as an adjunct to her husband or as someone's mother? Why wasn't she proud of who she was? Once upon a time, she wanted to be a nurse and join the Peace Corps. How could anyone give up her dreams for washing out dirty diapers and packing my father's bologna sandwiches?

All I knew was that this was not going to happen to me. I had big dreams of making a difference in the world - but with a bang, not a whimper. People would know me. I planned on working my way up through the ranks of the YMCA with a busy writing career on the side. My husband, if there was one, would be right behind me and, as for children, they would be cute and at their nanny's side. I would not be like my mother - I would be me. And people would know me as someone important.

Now here I was heating up my cup of coffee in the microwave for the second time. Just as I had watched her do a million times after setting it down to pack a lunch, feed the cats, tie a shoe, retrieve a towel from the dryer, find a paper that needed returning to school, answer the phone and a million other possible interruptions. I dreamed of downing a good cafe latte for breakfast before another busy day at the office, and here I was drinking instant mocha from a "Happy Birthday" mug with colored balloons all over it.

I understand now. I understood eight months ago as I held my son for the first time. I understood when his tiny little hand wrapped around my finger and his big blue eyes looked into mine as he drifted off to sleep. I understood when the love I have for my husband tripled as I first saw the little body cuddled in his big, strong arms and saw the tears streak down his face. I understood it all instantly.

I look forward to the day that I will be known as Andrew's mom to the people in town and the children at school. Every day, as my husband returns home from work and his face lights up as his son holds out his hands, I am proud to be Mrs. Frank Huff. Just like my mom is proud to be called Mrs. Dale Keffer. Just like my mom. Those are four words that I thought I would never say proudly.

By the way, if you see her, her name is Joyce.

And now I need to heat up my coffee again.

Printable Issue 537  Today is Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #537
It was the weekend before last that we had our annual "Sister Slumber Party". One of the five sisters always organizes the event. This year it was our middle sister who lives in the southwest part of Minneapolis, where we headquartered over Friday night.
 
As an early riser on Saturday morning, I took off walking west from their home. It didn't take very many blocks before I walked to the next suburb, Edina. The houses there are incredible. They aren't new but they are beautiful. Stately. Well built. Wonderful settings. Each one different from the other. I really enjoyed observing each house as I walked.
 
It amazed me that one, then another, and yet another had signs in their front yards telling of a remodeling project, a restoration, a construction company, or architect that was working on a particular home. "I wonder if these people have any idea how beautiful their homes already are," I thought. They probably do. Hope that's how the owners see them.
 
The homes just need additional improvement or face lift.
 
That's how I like to see God. He walks by each of us as His Children and admires just how beautiful and unique each one of us are. Each different, one from the other. He enjoys each one of us. On occasion, He puts a sign out in the front yard of our lives for some remodeling and redevelopment because He knows there are more things He would like for us to know or enjoy.
 
And as the architect and builder of our lives, He knows exactly what will make us even more of what He intends for each one of us.
 
He isn't discouraged by the way you and I think or act. He already loves each one of us unconditionally.
 
Or as the 4-H motto which I learned as a kid, "To make the best, better." God wants to make our best, His best in and for us.......even better!
 
 
Printable Issue 538  Today is Wednesday, May 4th, 2005; Karen's Korner #538
Some days we feel on top of the world; some days we feel like there isn't much we can handle.
 
Psalms 142 is called a "prayer for help":
 
I call to the Lord for help;
I plead with him.
I bring him all my complaints;
I tell him all my troubles.
 
When I am ready to give up,
He knows what I should do.
In the path where I walk,
My enemies have hidden a trap for me.
 
When I look beside me,
I see that there is no one to help me.
No one to protect me.
No one cares for me.
 
Lord, I cry to you for help;
You, Lord, are my protector;
You are all I want in this life.
 
Listen to my cry for help,
For I am sunk in despair.
Save me from my enemies;
They are too strong fro me.
 
Set me free from my distress;
Then in the assembly of your people
I will praise you
Because of your goodness to me.
Printable Issue 539  Today is Thursday, May 5th, 2005; Karen's Korner #539
This is the day that has been named as the National Day of Prayer for our country!
 
There are many opportunities to pray together today in groups, churches, clubs, and organizations. It promises to be a powerful event.
 
Early this morning, there will be a Prayer Breakfast at the White House and Max Lucado, senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and noted author of such books as "No Wonder They Call Him Savior" and "The Applause of Heaven", has been asked to pen this year's national prayer. Watch for exeprts of the event on the news and maybe the whole thing on some of the 24-hour news stations.
 
Naturally, Lucado hasn't tipped his hand early as to what he has written. He has, however, mentioned to the media what might be included.

"One of the things I want to focus on when I speak on Thursday is that nations exist for the glory of God; that God does not exist to make a big deal out of the United States, or any other nation, but every nation exists to make a big deal out of God.

"According to Scripture, everybody exists to honor God. Especially nations. One of the things I'll talk about in my message is different ways that God ordains people who live in the nations, the leaders of the nations and the boundaries of the nations—everything about nations is intended to provide an arena, a way in which God's glory and His goodness can be unveiled.

"I'm going to talk about the danger of forgetting that God is the giver of all; that God would have us remember that we exist by His power, and we exist for His glory. If we forget that, then we begin to exist just for ourselves, and fall into secularism. I'm going to try to nail that point home.

"The promise of God, through Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 8, is that those nations 'who forget Me' will be destroyed. So this is a high-stakes issue here. I'm thankful that we have a National Day of Prayer so that we can discuss this. I think some of the symbols and gestures and decisions of the recent past suggest that we are a nation that is forgetting God.

"Praying for the nation is more important than voting. Praying for the nation is more important than volunteering for military service. Praying for the nation is more important than volunteering to help in a campaign. If God is really the Giver of All, and nations exist by Him, there is nothing more important than talking to God about the nation."

He was asked by this particular interviewer if it is appropriate to have such a thing as a "Natoinal Day of Prayer". Lucado commented, "We are so paranoid now about the Church not running the state and the state not running the Church. That is a secondary question. The big question is: Is mankind going to submit to mankind's Maker?

 

Karen's Prayer:  "God in Heaven, we humble ourselves before you today. Place your hand on each of our lives so that we become become more what you would have us to be. Help us to learn to pray Your prayers which are bigger than we can think and believe. Help us to look to You, and not to ourselves for answers. Reach out to us with Your Love. And as we learn from You, help us to in turn reach out to our neighbor with that same kind of love. Teach us. We want to learn. In the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen."

Printable Issue 540  Today is Friday, May 6th, 2005; Karen's Korner #540
 This was emailed to me by Kim Lee and is for moms, grandmas, and future moms. Happy Mother's Day!
 
MOM 
 
Job Description

POSITION:
Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Ma


JOB DESCRIPTION:
Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic
environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES:
The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsib ilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.


POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION:
Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you


PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE:
None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.


WAGES AND COMPENSATION:
Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.


BENEFITS:
While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life, if you play your cards right.
Printable Issue 541  Today is Monday, May 9th, 2005; Karen's Korner #541
A couple of Sunday School "goodies" forwarded to me by Lois Lesher. No one can come up with what kids can:

A Sunday school teacher asked, "Johnny, do you think Noah

did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?"

"No," replied Johnny.  "How could he, with just two worms."

****

A Sunday school teacher said to her children, "We have been learning how powerful

kings and queens were in Bible times. But, there is a higher power. Can anybody tell me what it is?"

One child blurted out, "Aces!"

****

Last week was my birthday. I got lots of nice cards and greetings the traditional way in the mailbox. But now some good wishes come via email. The verse below was in the email card from Sue Freund. I hope that you enjoy the message as much as I did:

Our souls don't get old,

They never wrinkle, wear out, or tire.

No matter how many years pass

Each of us remain forever new inside,

And that is something to celebrate.

Printable Issue 542  Today is Tuesday, May 10th, 2005; Karen's Korner #542
As you read the story below, may you always have someone's arms to climb into.
 
God is always handy! Visualize yourself climbing into the lap of Someone who loves you unconditionally. Today might be a day you need a hug:
 
Bedtime Fears
By Charlotte Lanham

     When I was a little girl, say four or five years old, there were many things that frightened me: Snakes, bugs, big older boys and storms.  I remember the dark, rainy nights when a thunderstorm would roll into town and wake me from a sleep, in my childhood room at the front end of the house.
     The rain would beat on my window as shadows played games on my bedroom walls.  Tree branches screeched against the outside of the house making strange noises.  I’d lay there, so afraid, nearly ready to cry.  Poking my little foot out from under the covers, I’d slide out of my warm bed and tiptoe quietly into the next room where my mother and daddy slept.
     And then, as I had done so many times before, I would crawl over the foot board at the bottom of the bed and make my way over the top of the covers between my mom and dad, looking for a secure place to lay my head between their two pillows.
     Dad would roll over and say, “Hey, little girl, what’s going on?”
     “I’m afraid in my room.  It’s storming.”
     Then without another word, the three of us would snuggle close together and go back to sleep.  Just my mom and my dad . . . and me.
     Morning would come, the sun shining.  A new day would begin.
     When I was a grown-up girl, not quite twenty years old, there were many things that still frightened me: School, jobs, big older boys and getting married.  I remember the days leading up to my wedding day.  Parties, planning and packing for the honeymoon.  Writing thank-you notes.  Ironing my veil and cleaning out my closet for the last time.  Last-minute lists.  The rehearsal dinner.
     It was finally here - the night before my wedding day.  I went to bed, tired.  Very tired from all the weeks of preparation.
     I lay there, so afraid, nearly ready to cry.  Poking my foot out from under the covers, I slid out of my warm bed and tiptoed quietly into the next room where my mother and daddy slept.
     And then, as I had done so many times before, I crawled over the foot board at the bottom of the bed and made my way over the top of the covers between my mom and dad, looking for a secure place to lay my head between their two pillows.
     Dad rolled over and said, “Hey, little girl, what’s going on?”
     “I’m afraid in my room.  I’m getting married tomorrow.”
     Then without another word, the three of us snuggled close together and went back to sleep.  Just my mom and my dad . . . and me.
     Morning came, the sun shining.  A new day in my life was beginning.

Printable Issue 543  Today is Wednesday, May 11th, 2005; Karen's Korner #543
A neat pass-along email from Jim Bossard:
 
Regardless of  make or year, all units known as "human beings" are being recalled by the  Manufacturer. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units  code named "Adam" and "Eve" resulting in the reproduction of the  same defect in all subsequent units. This defect is technically  termed, "Serious Internal Non-morality," but more commonly known as  "SIN."

Some of the symptoms of the SIN defect:

[a] Loss of  direction
[b] Lack of peace and joy
[c] Depression
[d] Foul vocal  emissions
[e] Selfishness
[f] Ingratitude
[g] Fearfulness
[h]  Rebellion
[i] Jealousy

The Manufacturer is providing factory  authorized repair service free of charge to correct the SIN defect. The  Repair Technician, Jesus Christ, has most generously offered to bear the  entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. To repeat, there is  no fee required. The number to call for repair in all areas is:  P-R-A-Y-E-R.

Once connected, please upload the burden of SIN through  the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the  Repair Technician, Christ, into the heart component of the human  unit.

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Christ will replace  it with:

[a] Love
[b] Joy
[c] Peace
[d] Kindness
[e]  Goodness
[f] Faithfulness
[g] Gentleness
[h] Patience
[I]  Self-control

Please see the operating manual, HOLY BIBLE, for further  details on the use of these fixes. As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer  has made available to all repaired units a facility enabling direct  monitoring and assistance from the resident Maintenance Technician, the  Holy Ghost. Repaired units need only make Him welcome and He will take up  residence on the premises.


WARNING:   Continuing to operate a human being unit without corrections voids the  Manufacturer's warranty, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too  numerous to list, and will ultimately result in the destruction of the  human unit.

Thank you for your immediate attention. Please assist by  notifying others of this important recall notice!
Printable Issue 544  Today is Thursday, May 12th, 2005; Karen's Korner #544
This is the week that I took my 365-day "mileage" check-up at the doctor's office  Guess what? I passed!
 
Oh, sure, I am beginning to have a few "nickel-dime" things to look at.  My bones aren't as dense as they used to be, so I take a pill to restore that to some more nomral measure; and because of my age, a couple of years ago my doctor recommended that I take a multi-vitamin and an aspirin each day to prevent some stuff from happening in the future.
 
Just the past few weeks, God has really impressed on my to not take anything that I have for granted! Not my health, my wealth, my family, my emotional and spiritual state. I need and want to be more grateful for what I already have, before I run off and ask for more!
 
So that is my thought process this morning, as I write this brief prayer and share it with you:
 
Dear Father in Heaven,
 
Thank you for all the things that you have provided for me and for my family. Thank you for the state and country in which Jim and I live. Thank you for the family that you have allowed me to have. Thank you for the good health which I am experiencing and for all the abilities which you given to me. Thank you for the home, the farm, the material goods which I possess. Thank you for all the friends which you have given me. Thank you for the job that you have given me to do. Thank you for the provisions that you have shared with me through 59 years and for the future that you have in mind for me. Help me to nothing for granted. Help me to remember that each thing on my list above can be taken away from me, except You and Your love and care for me.
 
And for all of this, I am grateful.
 
In Jesus' name,
 
Amen.
Printable Issue 545  Today is Friday, May 13th, 2005; Karen's Korner #545
Dorothy Reikens is a good one to email friends, web site addresses. I am typing this poem which was on one of the sites I received within the last week. It had some photos and was backed up by music. The message is still the same:
 
Jesus in my mirror
 
I looked in the mirror
Yet could not see my face
I saw the face of Jesus
Looking at me in my place.
 
He could see my weary frown
Discontent was in my eyes
I didn't say a single word
But I felt He heard my cries.
 
He knew that I had many needs
Only His love could fulfill
Somehow frozen in silence
As I stood there very still.
 
The Holy Spirit took over
Body as Light as it could be
I knew His precious smiling face
Would forever stay with me.
 
A blanket of comfort shrouded me
His eyes fill my heart with love
I knew He came to help me
From His Heavenly home above.
 
When you look into the mirror
See yourself as someone worthwhile
God will lift your burdens
And show you how to smile.
 
 
~ Ginny Bryant
 
"Journey of Love"
Printable Issue 546  Today is Monday, May 16th, 2005; Karen's Korner #546
Since Jim is fishing in Minnesota for a few days, I was looking for something special to do on Friday night. I heard about a gospel fest in Des Moines and called a friend, Bev Downs who now lives near Des Moines, to see if she wanted to attend with me. She did!
 
As we were walking in to the performance, I said to her, "When we were 16 or 26, is this where we would have been on a Friday night?"
 
I thought the same thing the early part of March when our church family hosted a four-night "actively alive" seminar at our church. I would see heads of individuals and couples in the 50 and 60 age group and think, "Who would have believed that this gal? That guy would spend two, three, and/or four nights in a row in church? In 1960 or 1970?"
 
But we are! We did!
 
Like Bev said, "Maybe we are finally wiser!"
 
It makes me think of the story of the prodigal son in the Bible. Most of us recall the story of the two sons. One who asked for his inheritance, left the family home, took off and squandered all of his money on frivalous things. But finally came to his senses and decided to return home.
 
Maybe that tends to be most of us. God gives us some gifts and talents and we can't wait to take off with them, travel to a foreign country, get ourselves in a pack of trouble, look around to get ourselves out of it, before we determine we might not be able to handle this thing called life on our own. We wise up.........and return home, looking for the Father and His answers.
 
I wonder what would have happened if that same son would have asked for his inheritance and then asked for his father's help and wisdom and taken dad along with him!
 
As we approach graduation time for high schoolers and college-aged students, I wonder what would happen if our graduates would do the same thing.
 
If they don't. If we don't, all we have to do is come to our senses, make our journey back home. And Our Father in Heaven will be there waiting with His open arms. Ready to take us back into the family. Ready to throw a party on our behalf. Ready to continue to love us!
Printable Issue 547  Today is Tuesday, May 17th, 2005; Karen's Korner #547

The best part about sending Karen's Korners through my web site is that I can send them from wherever I am. Today, Jamie, Luke, and I are in Amana with Ed and Heather. We are on our way to the Clear Creek - Amana awards day ceremony to give our fourth annual scholarships to two of Merry's former students. We will probably do this one or maybe two more years.

Tomorrow is the awards night ceremony in Clarion and this will be the first time in five years that we haven't awarded a scholarship there in Merry's memory. The funds come from more than generous memorials given to our families following Merry's death, so thanks for any of your previous generosity.

Today's poem is one taken from a web site emailed to me by Dorothy Reikens titled "Today I Heard a Bird Sing - The Movie". As you can image, complete with bird photos, chirps and background music. Here is a portion of that poem:

 

Today I heard a bird sing

It's voice carried notes of both struggle and strain

It sang its best as I woke again.

 

Today I heard a bird sing

Hungry mouths in the nest all opened wide

Every daylight hour spent working, how that bird must be tired.

 

Today I heard a bird sing

No vacation or weekend retreat, each day a struggle just to eat

But it sang anyway, throught the twists and turns; it sang its best, thankful for worms.

 

Today I heard a bird sing

It had nothing in the bank, nothing stored for a rainy day

And to the cat and the hawk it was prey, but it sang, it sang anyway.

 

Today I heard a bird sing

Soon another answered, singing two; a rule of nature

Singers draw mates and love songs flew.

 

Today I heard a bird sing

So I began my own tune, I sang my best

Happy and full though there was still room for more in my nest.

Tomorrow mouths will be hungry, the work will be there

But thank God I've got wings to take to the air.

 

Today I heard a brid sing

And I joined my voice, to sing or not

That's the real choice.

 

For the birds of the air have nothing on you

You've got more to drink than the morning dew.

So live up your voice; go ahead, make that choice and let go a tune

Daybreak's a'coming so, start singing soon!

 

Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap

Nor garther into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much better than they?

(Matthew 8:26)

Printable Issue 548  Today is Wednesday, May 18th, 2005; Karen's Korner #548
A very good "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which I received a number of weeks ago. You can't beat kids for the way they can tug at your heart strings. Maybe that is why we collect them!
 
The Hug of a Child
By Victoria Harnish Benson

     As we drove across town, I prepared my two children for what they were about to see.  A lady from our new church was dying of cancer, and I had volunteered to help her with the housework.  "Annie has a tumor in her head, which has disfigured her face," I cautioned them.
     Annie invited me to bring my children with me one day, as I had told her so much about them.  "Most children are frightened by my appearance," she said.  "But I will understand if they don't want to meet me."
     I struggled for the words to describe Annie's appearance to my son and daughter.  Then I remembered a movie I'd seen two years earlier with my son, when he was ten.  I wanted him to understand that disabled people are like anyone else - their feelings can be hurt, too.
     "David, remember the movie Mask about the boy with the facial deformity?"
     "Yes, Mom.  I think I know what to expect."  His tone told me it was time to stop mothering him so much.
     "What does a tumor look like?" Diane asked me.
     Answering my nine-year-old daughter would be tricky.  In order to prevent Diane's revulsion when she met Annie, I needed to prepare her just enough but not too much.  I didn't want to frighten the child.
     "Her tumor looks like the skin on the inside of your mouth.  It sticks out from under her tongue and makes it hard for her to talk.  You'll see it as soon as you meet her, but there's nothing to be afraid of.  Remember, don't stare.  I know you'll want to look at it . . . that's all right . . . just don't stare."  Diane nodded.  I knew she was trying to picture a tumor in her mind.
     "Are you kids ready for this?" I asked as we pulled up to the curb.
     "Yes, Mom," David said, sighing as only a preteen can.
     Diane nodded and tried to reassure me.  "Don't worry, Mommy.  I'm not scared."
     We entered the living room, where Annie was sitting in her recliner, her lap covered with note cards for her friends.  I stood across the room with my children, aware that anything could happen next.
     At the sight of my children, Annie's face brightened.  "Oh, I'm so glad you came to visit," she said, dabbing a tissue at the drops of saliva that escaped from her twisted mouth.
     Then it happened.  I watched David stride across the room to Annie's chair, wrap his arms around her shoulders and press his cheek to her misshapen face.  Smiling, he looked into her eyes and said, "I'm happy to meet you."
     Just when I didn't think I could be more proud, Diane copied her big brother and gave Annie the precious, accepting hug of a child.
     My throat tightened with emotion as I saw Annie's eyes well up with grateful tears.  I had nothing to worry about.

Printable Issue 549  Today is Thursday, May 19th, 2005; Karen's Korner #549
This is a memorable week in the lives of school students and staff as we wind down the school year. Graduations, awards assemblies, celebrations, regional and state athletic meets finishing up the school year.
 
Last night, I had the privilege of attending our local school's baccalaureate and awards ceremony. The first award was given to this year's outstanding teacher who received the "Golden Apple" award. My walking partner, Margaret, received it. It was especially meaningful to me, because I had nominated her to receive it! Others must have agreed with my nomination, because the committee selected her! And the best part was that hundreds of people in last night's audience gave her a standing ovation for her extra-ordinary efforts as Clarion-Goldfield School's middle school guidance counselor. They, too, must have agreed with this year's choice.
 
A number of our high school students start today as entrants in this year's state girls and boys track meet. People will be on their feet cheering their favorite runners back to the finish line!
 
How many people have ever had a standing ovation? How many have had fans cheering on what you have done? What I have done? Very many??
 
Then I thought of these words in Hebrews 12:1, 2:  "Since we have such a huge crowd of men (and women!) of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us."
 
So today, I want to visualize (and I want you to visualize) lots of people giving us a standing ovation, cheering us on to do whatever God wants us to do. Let's see ourselves being cheered on to victory as we head to the finish line.
 
We can do a lot with the "fans in the grandstands" cheering us on!!
Printable Issue 550  Today is Friday, May 20th, 2005; Karen's Korner #550
It is graduation weekend in Clarion, as well as a number of schools in our area. The story below was written by Bonnie Young about a young man who will graduate with his Clarion area classmates on Sunday afternoon.
 
We attend a lot of local high school sports, but missed this particular game. The story had to be retold by someone who witnessed it; must have been a great one. Sometimes winners score the most points. Sometimes winners are named to their conference teams. Sometimes winners are awarded scholarships to their favorite colleges. And sometimes winners are young men, one whom might be named Levi:
 

ONE PLAYER’S DREAM

 

It was the first post season game for the 2005 Clarion-Goldfield High School Boys Basketball Team.  They were decidedly ahead and it was time to send in the reserves, the bench warmers, the fellows who work hard day in and day out with little reward except perhaps the satisfaction of improving one's own performance and those of the rest of the team.  It was a requirement to be at every practice, every game, be part of the team, yet receive little notice.  Well, usually . . . 

 

Levi was a senior, a devoted member of the basketball team, and a reserve player.  In four years of high school, he had missed only two practices; he was a faithful team player.  A few weeks before, as part of an ongoing series in the local newspaper in which several high school seniors’ profiles were highlighted, we were let in on Levi’s dream:  to make a three-point shot during a game.  Surely it was an improbable dream for a bench warmer seeing little time on the court. 

 

Coach put in the senior reserve for his final home-court action near the end of the game.  At one point Levi had a shot, but passed off to a teammate.  Coach called a time out, clearly telling Levi, "Shoot!” and moments later, swoosh!  Three points!! And the fans went wild!!!! 

 

Levi’s dream was fulfilled.  He was faithful to his commitment to the team and received a grand reward for all his hard work and dedication. 

 

I wonder if there were times when Levi wanted to throw in the towel and quit.  Nobody would have blamed or criticized him.  After all, he didn’t get to play much, right?   But he didn’t quit.  He stayed.  He persevered.  The spectators packing the gymnasium that night witnessed character in action.

 

Thank you, Levi.

Printable Issue 551  Today is Monday, May 23rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #551
Seems like today there are lots of "help" books which tell people a new idea to add to their personal lives. Positive thoughts. Christian "how to" drills. Pretty hard to do them all or to remember much of them very long.
 
Thumbing through my Bible yesterday, looking at Colossians, getting some things ready for Sunday School. I found a "check list" on How to Pray for Other Christians.
 
I am going to list the seven points below. Might want to pray for yourself, thinking through the check list and maybe another person or two. Might hang on to it for tomorrow and do it again. Probably pretty much impossible to add it to all the other "how tos" you might be aware of!
 
"praying for others":
 
* be thankful for them, their faith, and their changed lives;
* ask God to help them know what He wants them to do;
* ask God to give them deep spiritual understanding;
* ask God to help them live for Him;
* ask God to give them more knowledge of Himself;
* ask God to give them strength for endurance;
* ask God to fill them joy, strength, and thankfulness.
 
The list is found in the text while reading Colossians 1:3 - 12.
 
I have heard it said, "Prayer does't need proof. It needs practice"; "God is more interested in the spiritual realm, while people are more interested in our physical world"; or "when we get to heaven, we wll be saddened, not how much we 'did', but now little we 'prayed'."
Printable Issue 552  Today is Tuesday, May 24th, 2005; Karen's Korner #552
This is a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which I received the first of the year. While I really like it, it is longer than I like for busy people who read Karen's Korner! I know that you will like it to. If it is long for you, save and read it later. Or delete:
 
The Cookie Lady
By Kathryn Fanning

     Rain droned against the office window, matching my mood.  I should have known that my new job at the hospital was too good to be true.  Throughout the day, rumors warned that the newest employee from each department would be laid off due to a drop in census.  I was the newest one in the training department.
     My boss appeared at the door of my cubicle, interrupting my thoughts.  "Got a minute?"
     My neck chilled as if he'd shoved ice under my collar.  I figured a minute would be all he needed to say, "You're fired!"  Would it matter if I told him about my roof leak and overdue notices?
     "You probably know we're cutting back," he began.  "Administration wants us to offer outplacement classes to help those employees find other jobs.  Show them how to write a resume, make a good impression in an interview and so on."
     Apprehension made a fist in my stomach.  I might as well have been an executioner sharpening her own ax.  "Fine," I mumbled, not knowing what else to say.
     After he left, I decided to go home early.  If someone saw my tears, I'd pretend I had allergies.  Through my blurry eyes, I noticed a paper plate of peanut butter cookies, crisscrossed with fork marks, on the secretary's desk.
     "Who brought the cookies?" I asked.
     "Some lady leaves them every Friday," she said.  "Help yourself."
     I blotted my eyes with the back of my hand before taking two.  Life's so ironic, I thought.  I was expected to teach a job-hunting class before I got my own pink slip while some rich volunteer donated cookies so she wouldn't feel guilty about not having to work.  Her maid probably baked them.
     "See you tomorrow," I said, wondering how many more times I'd have the chance to say that.
     In the hall, the elevator door opened, revealing a gray-haired woman about the height of a third-grader.  Only her head and the top of her green apron were visible over the cart loaded with cleaning supplies.  At least she had a job!
     All the way home, I fought self-pity, finally giving in to the tears when I reached my driveway.  I couldn't remember feeling so alone.  And scared.
     The next morning, I considered telling my boss to teach the classes himself.  I didn't have the nerve, though, so I drove to the library for books to help me prepare my classes.
     Later at the hospital, when anyone mentioned my leaving, I joked about taking early retirement and living in the barn on my father's farm.
     I kept up the pretense of not caring for the next two weeks until the Friday of the final meeting with the personnel staff in the basement.  Personnel employees handed out final paychecks and collected office keys while I waited at a table with my class schedule for those interested in help.  Laid-off workers formed a line at the door, most of them crying.  I'd be just like them in a couple of weeks.
     The chaplain took the seat next to me, probably so he could comfort those who wanted to talk.  He opened his Bible, worn and marked with yellow highlighter.
     While he greeted the first employee to reach us, I glanced over to see what he'd highlighted.  It was Romans 12:5: "...so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them."  I read the rest of the passage before he reached for the book.  "He, who teaches, in his teaching."
     It was one thing to have a gift; another to have the chance to use it, I thought.  My throat tightened against the tears that threatened.
     Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a woman in a green apron shuffling to the table.  The chaplain leaned over and whispered, "Good heavens!  I can't believe our Cookie Lady is being laid off.  We'll miss her as much as we'll miss her peanut butter cookies on Fridays."
     Cookie Lady?  I stared at the woman, noticing that her fingers were crooked, probably from arthritis.  She certainly didn't fit the description of the wealthy volunteer I'd imagined.
     Settling in the chair in front of us, she folded her hands in her lap like an obedient child waiting for instructions.  When the chaplain spoke to her in Spanish, I knew my classes were useless for her.
     She smiled and reached into the pocket of her apron to offer us cookies from a paper sack.
     "Gracias," I mumbled, wishing I knew more of her language.  Suddenly, my self-pity turned to shame as I realized how much better off I was than this poor woman who still thought of others despite her problems.  The cookies seemed to emphasize the words from Romans - we belong to each other and each needs the other.
     I knew I had to do something for her, even before I examined the classified section of the newspaper for myself.
     At noon, the last of the workers filed past our table.  I grabbed the cookies, all I planned to eat for lunch, and returned to my cubicle.
     Grateful for the midday silence, I wrote and revised until I was satisfied I'd expressed how I felt about the unselfishness of the Cookie Lady who needed a job.  Finally, I slid my article into an envelope and asked the boss for permission to leave for awhile, not explaining I was headed for the newspaper office.
     Maybe my efforts wouldn't work, but at least I tried.  This would be my cookie for her, I thought as I pulled into the newspaper building's parking lot.
     After I located the appropriate office, the features editor agreed to see me for just two minutes because he was on deadline. 
     "I don't know if you print freelance material," I told him.  "And I don't expect to be paid for this if you use it..."
     "I'll look at it later," he promised, then returned to his work, so I knew my time was up.
     Days went by and no story appeared.  Why had I felt so sure that my story would interest the editor who had plenty of staff to write features?  Several times I started to telephone but decided that if God wanted it to happen, it would.
     I scanned the classifieds daily, but found no jobs I felt qualified for.  Then after I decided that my article never would be published, I found it by accident.
     Obviously, I wasn't the only one who noticed it; messages were in my slot on the secretary's desk.  One was from the bakery down the street.
     I held my breath as I dialed the bakery's number.  This had to be a job for the Cookie Lady...  Within minutes, I had an appointment to bring her in for an introduction to the bakery's owner.  Excitement turned to anxiety when I realized I shouldn't have been so presumptuous.
     Footsteps startled me and I glanced up to see the chaplain, newspaper in hand, and the Cookie Lady behind him.
     "Good piece," the chaplain said.  "Just wanted to tell you before we went to the employment agency."
     "Maybe you can skip that," I said, smiling.  "The bakery down the street has an opening.  The owner read my article and thought she...  Will you take her down since I can't translate for her?"
     He grinned.  "Be happy to, but she won't need a translator.  Those folks are from Mexico, so she'll fit in just fine."
     After they left, I couldn't concentrate on my search through the classifieds, wondering if she got the job.  After all, she taught me to think of others in spite of my own problems.
     I took the other messages from my pocket.  At least I could answer the rest of my calls before I left.  One seemed so unlikely that I read it twice.  "An editor of a local magazine liked your piece and wants you to call her next time you're looking for work.  Here's her number and the name of her magazine."
     Surely I couldn't have found a job so easily before I'd even mailed out a resume.  No question about it - we are all one in body with Christ and I intended to remind others, just as the Cookie Lady had reminded me.

Printable Issue 553  Today is Wednesday, May 25th, 2005; Karen's Korner #553
When our daughter, Jamie, gave me a book a few years ago for Christmas, her husband, Tim, was shocked to learn that Jamie read it first. He just shook his head when I mentioned that I had done the same thing that year.
 
It must run in the family! My sister, Amy, gave me an ispirational flip calendar that she had "used" last year for my birthday this year! (Along with another small gift!!)
 
This is today's "message":
 
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness."
    -- Lamentations 3:22 - 23
 
"When I become stuck in the routine of my days, and each day begins to seem so similar to the last, then help me to see, Lord:  Each new morning brings possibilities I'd never even imagined.
Printable Issue 554  Today is Thursday, May 26th, 2005; Karen's Korner #554
I got a nice "Mother's Day" book from my church secret sis last week. You know the kind. Small book, instead of a card. I probably should hang on to the thoughts until next early May, but today is a good day to share several of them, too:
 
My Mother's Favorite Sayings
 
* When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
 
* It's not what we eat that matters, but who we eat with.
 
* The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.
 
* Each day say, "I love you" at least once. Each day with God's help live out your "I love you!"
 
* When God's children are in need, you be the one to help them out.
 
* Learn something new every day.
 
~~~
 
Lessons from My Mother
 
God will be with you when you...
Stand for what is right.
Speak in kindness.
Share with others.
 
God will help you to...
Open your eyes to see to His world.
Open your hands to His children.
Open your ears to hears cries for help.
Open your heart to His love.
 
If you do these things...
Your heart will be full.
Your life will have meaning.
That's what my mother taught me.
 
~~~
 
 
 
 
Printable Issue 555  Today is Friday, May 27th, 2005; Karen's Korner #555
This is Memorial Day weekend. In keeping with that thinking, I read this yesterday in an ad:
 
"Remembering those who gave their all.....
 
    Memorial Day is a time to remember those fallen citizens who bravely served our country to preserve our freedom.  We cannot thank these soldiers and their families enough!"
 
 
Dear Father in Heaven,
    Thank you for the opportunity to live in the United States of America and for the freedom which You have allowed us to enjoy for the past two hundred plus years. Thank You for America's history and for the opportunities which you have given us as a country,  and for each of us as individuals.
    Thank You for the military and the soldiers who have given their lives.........days of military service; others who have made the ulitimate sacrifice of their lives, so that we might continue to enjoy these freedoms. We pray for those soldiers and their families who have served and those who continue to serve today. Bless them, Father. Protect them. Bless their efforts and bring those who are currently serving in the U.S. and on foreign soils. Bring them home safely to our country and their individual homes.
    In the Name of Your Son, who taught us the meaning of true freedom which extends into and throughout eternity. Amen.
  
 
 
Printable Issue 556  Today is Monday, May 30th, 2005; Karen's Korner #556
A short checklist for the Memorial Day holiday; plus a short thought:
 
Today is a good day to:
 
* attend a memorial day service to commerate what military people have done/are doing for our country;
 
* stop by a cemetery and remember;
 
* call, write, tell a service person "thanks" for what they have done/are doing;
 
* tell someone you care about "thanks" for being him/her. Several people we care about aren't here this memorial day who were here last year. Several more won't be here for  Memorial Day 2006!
 
 
And a short thought from Luci Swindoll:
 
   "Vision is when you see it and others don't.
    Faith is when you do it and others won't!"
   
Printable Issue 557  Today is Tuesday, May 31st, 2005; Karen's Korner #557
A military reminder from a "Chicken Soup for the Soul":
 
Pomp and Ceremony
By Nicole Hayes

     My husband is enlisted in the Navy.  We live in Hawai'i, on a tall, red-dirt hill that overlooks the electric blue waters of Pearl Harbor.  In the evenings when the weather is fine, we watch the enormous sun set low over the bright white structure of the USS Arizona Memorial, its edges trimmed brilliant gold with the sunset's smokeless fire, and it brings to mind a story of my husband's.
     As an act of respect and acknowledgment, when commissioned naval ships pass each other on the water, sailors stop what they are doing, stand at attention and salute the oncoming ship.
     The sight is striking: Sailors line the upper deck while standing at attention and whistles blow to prompt the changing positions.  It is quite an emotional moment, especially if one is a returning ship which has been away from an American port for a long time.  The crisp white uniforms appear like pillars against a clear ocean sky as these enormous gray floating cities pass each other with magnificent dignity.
     Once a young seaman recruit was out at sea for the first time.  His ship had been in foreign waters for several months, and the crew was eager to touch American soil again.  But none was more eager than the young seaman recruit.  He disliked the daily grind of ship life, working every day and never seeing anything but the endless, flat blue ocean.  He especially detested the ceremony and ritual of Navy life and the restrictive uniform.  He simply couldn't see the point to all that pomp and ceremony.
     Finally they were on their way home to the United States.  He was looking forward to his freedom and time away from the monotony of ship life.
     Their first stop was Hawai'i.  The weather was perfect, and the ship's path was clear and open.  The Pacific Ocean was calm, and there were no other naval ships around as far as the eye could see.  All hands lined the deck, to "man the rails," as was the custom when heading into port.
     But this time was different.  A whistle blew over the loudspeaker, calling the sailors to attention.  The seaman recruit was irritated at yet another pointless ritual.  He couldn't understand why they had to do this when theirs was the only ship in sight.  So he complained to the chief petty officer standing beside him.
     "Why are we at attention when there's no other ship around?" he asked.
     "But there is a commissioned ship around," the senior man replied.  "And we are honoring this ship as we would any other."
     All the seaman recruit could see was the bright white arching structure of the USS Arizona Memorial.
     "But, it's just a museum," he countered.  "That ship sank fifty years ago!"
     The chief petty officer continued to stare straight ahead, his hand now saluting.  "The USS Arizona is still a commissioned ship, seaman recruit, and there are more than 1,100 men still entombed in it.  They are all U.S. sailors, and you will treat them as such."
     The chief petty officer did not move his head, but the seaman recruit could see the emotion in his eyes.  "My grandfather is one of them," he added, his voice hoarse but steady.
     The gray carrier dotted with bright images of several thousand sailors standing at attention gently eased into Pearl Harbor.  The seaman recruit stared at the ocean surface.  Then, as he stood straight and tall, eyes now cast ahead, his hand set in a firm salute, he wondered if there had ever been a more beautiful sight.