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November 2005 Archives

Printable Issue 662  Today is Tuesday, November 1st, 2005; Karen's Korner #662
A Chicken Soup for the Soul which I think you will enjoy:
 
You Can Do Anything
By Tina Karratti

     Many years ago, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition.  He was put on permanent disability and was unable to work at a steady job.  He would be fine for quite a while, but would then fall suddenly ill and have to be admitted to the hospital.
     He wanted to do something to keep himself busy, so he decided to volunteer at the local children’s hospital.  My dad loved kids.  It was the perfect job for him.  He ended up working with the terminally and critically ill children.  He would talk to them and play with them and do arts and crafts with them.  Sometimes, he would lose one of his kids.  In certain instances, he would tell the grieving parents of these children that he would soon be with their child in heaven and that he would take care of them until they got there.  He would also ask the parent if there was a message they would like to send with him for their child.
     My dad’s assurances seemed to help parents with their grieving.  One of his kids was a girl who had been admitted with a rare disease that paralyzed her from the neck down.  I don’t know the name of the disease or what the prognosis usually is, but I do know that it was very sad for a girl around eight or nine years old.  She couldn’t do anything, and she was very depressed.  My dad decided to try to help her.  He started visiting her in her room, bringing paints, brushes and paper.  He stood the paper up against a backing, put the paintbrush in his mouth and began to paint.  He didn’t use his hands at all.  Only his head would move.  He would visit her whenever he could and paint for her.  All the while he would tell her, “See, you can do anything you set your mind to.”
     Eventually, she began to paint using her mouth, and she and my dad became friends.  Soon after, the little girl was discharged because the doctors felt there was nothing else they could do for her.  My dad also left the children’s hospital for a little while because he became ill.  Sometime later after my dad had recovered and returned to work, he was at the volunteer counter in the lobby of the hospital.  He noticed the front doors open.  In came the little girl who had been paralyzed, only this time she was walking.  She ran straight over to my dad and hugged him really tight.  She gave my dad a picture she had done using her hands.  At the bottom it read, “Thank you for helping me walk.”
     My dad would cry every time he told us this story and so would we.  He would say sometimes love is more powerful than doctors, and my dad - who died just a few months after the little girl gave him the picture - loved every single child in that hospital.

Printable Issue 663  Today is Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #663
My new Women of Destiny Bible given to me by a couple of friends has lots of insets:  Open letters to its Women of Destiny readers written by many women writers; quotes by many people - some from hundreds of years ago and others still living today; short biographies on people from our history; and Bible verses which can be turned into prayers.
 
I'd like to share a couple of them with you today:
 
Error of every kind may
meet with favor; but the
world never did, nor ever
will tolerate real
Christianity.
 
-- Charles Wesley
 
~~
 
Lord Jesus, You are the vine
and we are the branches.  May _______ abide in
You and bear much fruit, for
without You they can do
nothing.
 
-- FROM JOHN 15:5 
 
~~
 
"Father, thank You for loving
__________ so much that You gave Your only begotten Son,
that if __________ would believe in You,
they should not perish but have everlasting life.
I pray that through Jesus, _________
would be saved.
 
-- FROM JOHN 3:16, 17
 
~~
 
Let us not look at the darkness
that is growing continually deeper;
but let us look upon the light
that is shining brighter and brighter.
Let us look on the works of God.
 
~~ Zelma Argue
Printable Issue 664  Today is Thursday, November 3rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #664
This is a pass along email which I received from Linda Sorenson; I must have liked it because I have hung on to it for more than a couple of years! I hope that you have the time to savor at least a few of the items on this list!
 
"You are the GREATEST!"
 
60 Things That Are Happening Right Now While You Are Reading This 

  1. Somebody is very proud of you.
 2. Somebody is thinking of you.
 3. Somebody is caring about you.
  4. Somebody misses you.
  5. Somebody wants to talk to you.
  6. Somebody wants to be with you.
  7. Somebody hopes you aren't in trouble.
  8. Somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
  9. Somebody wants to hold your hand.
  10. Somebody hopes everything turns out all right.
  11. Somebody wants you to be happy.
  12. Somebody wants you to find him/her.
  13. Somebody is celebrating your successes.
  14. Somebody wants to give you a gift.
  15. Somebody thinks that you ARE a gift.
  16. Somebody hopes you're not too cold, or too hot.
  17. Somebody wants to hug you.
  18. Somebody loves you.
  19. Somebody admires your strength.
  20. Somebody is thinking of you and smiling.
  21. Somebody wants to be your shoulder to cry on.
  22. Somebody wants to go out with you and have a lot of fun.
  23. Somebody thinks the world of you.
  24. Somebody wants to protect you.
  25. Somebody would do anything for you.
   26. Somebody wants to be forgiven.
  27. Somebody is grateful for your forgiveness.
  28. Somebody wants to laugh with you.
  29. Somebody remembers you and wishes that you were there.
  30. Somebody is praising God for you.
  31. Somebody needs to know that your love is unconditional.
  32. Somebody values your advice.
  33. Somebody wants to tell you how much they care.
 34. Somebody wants to share their dreams with you.
 35. Somebody wants to hold you in their arms.
  36. Somebody wants YOU to hold them in your arms.
  37. Somebody treasures your spirit.
 38. Somebody wishes they could STOP time because of you.
  39. Somebody praises God for your friendship and love.
  40. Somebody can't wait to see you.
  41. Somebody loves you for who you are.
  42. Somebody loves the way you make them feel.
  43. Somebody wants to be with you.
  44. Somebody wants you to know they are there for you.
  45. Somebody is glad that you're his/her friend.
 46. Somebody wants to be your friend.
  47. Somebody stayed up all night thinking about you.
  48. Somebody is alive because of you.
  49. Somebody is wishing that you noticed him/her.
  50. Somebody wants to get to know you better.
  51. Somebody wants to be near you.
  52. Somebody misses your advice/guidance.
  53. Somebody has faith in you.
  54. Somebody trusts you.
  55. Somebody needs your support.
  56. Somebody needs you to have faith in them.
  57. Somebody will cry when they read this.
  58. Somebody needs you to let them be your friend.
  59. Somebody hears a song that reminds them of you.
  60. Somebody needs you to send this to them.
Printable Issue 665  Today is Friday, November 4th, 2005; Karen's Korner #665
Last summer as I was running a few errands in Clarion, I was introduced to an attractive, animated 50 something year-old from California and her 20 something year-old Downs Syndrome son. Their local tour guide was long-time Clarion resident Lorraine Young.
 
The two were family friends of Lorraine's daughter Deana Young Stock who lived the better part of her adult life in California. Deana had lost her long-time battle with cancer a few months earlier. The twosome was fulfilling a promise they had made to Deana to come visit her childhood home. While the three were still grieving the loss of their daughter and friend, they were definitely enjoying one anothers' company and the sights and sounds of our small, rural community.
 
As we were being introduced to the son, he would take the hand of each new acquaintance as if to shake hands. Instead he would lovingly kiss the top of each gal's right hand. Naturally, it would cause a smile to come to everyone's face. He was a charmer!
 
I wonder if the first few days after the son's birth and the family being told the devastating news (Downs Syndrome), if they questioned God's fairness. Like most families, we dream about what our children will become - maybe a brain surgeon, a famous writer, husband, father. When other kids were doing 'normal' things, undoubtedly this lad wasn't.
 
But this mom didn't know the rest of the story: about losing a spouse earlier than she would like and the companionship she would enjoy from her charming son a number of years later; and how much pleasure he would bring to their family and friends.
 
I heard mom tell, as she looked on at her son, "He's my buddy!"
 
Dear Father in Heaven, help me! Sometimes situations in my life are different than I would like. Sometimes my prayers aren't answered the way I think they should be.  When I start to look down and like inward, I am met with doubt, confusion, and depressing thoughts. But when I look up to You and look outward, even if I don't know the entire future story, my doubts and fears are erased, the confusion takes flight and the negative thinking is replaced with positive thoughts. As time passes, I see the wisdom of your delays or directions. Thank You for having everything under control. Sometimes I forget. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Printable Issue 666  Today is Monday, November 7th, 2005; Karen's Korner #666
The poem below was emailed to me by someone; I don't recall who! It was complete with a colorful background and flying doves on the left side! Sometimes the graphics don't forward very well, so I made a copying change:
 
Once Upon A Pew I Sat

Once upon a pew I sat
And heard the preacher ask,
"We need someone to teach a class,
Now who will take this task?"

Then God sat down beside me there
And said, "Son, that's for you."
"But, Lord, to stand before a class
Is one thing I can't do.

Now Bill would be the man to call,
There's nothing he won't do.
I'd rather hear the lesson taught
From here upon my pew."

Once upon a pew I sat
And heard the preacher ask,
"We need someone to lead the songs,
Now who will take this task?"

Then God sat down beside me there
And said, "Son, that's for you."
"But Lord, to sing before a crowd
Is one thing I can't do.

Now Brother King will do the job,
There's nothing he won't do.
I'd rather hear the music played
From here upon my pew."

Once upon a pew I sat
And heard the preacher ask,
"I need someone to keep the door,
Now who will take this task?"

Then God sat down beside me there
And said, "Son, that's for you."
"But saying things to strangers, Lord,
Is one thing I can't do.

Now Tom can talk to people, Lord,
There's nothing he won't do.
I'd rather someone come to me
And greet me on the pew."

As years just seemed to pass me by,
I heard that voice no more
Until one night I closed my eyes
And woke on heaven's shore.

Twas four of us together there
To face eternity.
God said, "I need just three of you
To do a job for me."

"O Lord, I cried, "I'll do the job,
There's nothing I won't do."
But Jesus said, "I'm sorry, Friend,
In Heaven there's no pew."

~~

Printable Issue 667  Today is Tuesday, November 8th, 2005; Karen's Korner #667
For the past couple of months, I have been in a Bible Study titled, "Experiencing the Holy Spirit". The Holy Spirit is one of those things we seem to talk the least about in our churches, at least the ones I am the most familiar with. Most of us seem to know about God who is in heaven and who created everything. And we know about Jesus who is God's Son, lived among us, died for us. The Holy Spirit is just sort of out there; some place.
 
The more I learn about the Holy Spirit, I become aware that he is a person, not an it: the presence of God who lives within us, never leaves us nor forsakes us. I need to be made more aware of that person, that presence!
 
Last night's study talked about one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives. It said it is "to strengthen, comfort, encourage, and 'edify' others. Edify is one of the words that a person hears tossed around occasionally, and if we do it is in church. But what does it mean?
 
This morning I looked up 'edify' in the dictionary; it means "to instruct, as to improve morally or spiritually". I could use some more of that. And I wouldn't mind sharing more of that with my friends, relatives, and others in my world.
 
That's something I want to do today:  spend some time thinking about people who receive daily Karen's Korners. Because my 'korner' list is pretty long, I know it won't be everyone but I want the Holy Spirit who lives within me to bring to mind some; maybe many, have the Holy Spirit living within them.....
 
Holy Spirit, be with each person who reads this message today. Help me to want for everyone what you want for them:  more blessings from your hands, than they can believe is possible! Thank you for continually making yourself known to us. And that you always add on the "good stuff" for each of us. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Printable Issue 668  Today is Wednesday, November 9th, 2005; Karen's Korner #668
Another favorite of mine from Jeff White, who is a minister in Illinois:
 
Jesus will keep you strong until the end
so that there will be no wrong in you on the day
our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
1 Corinthians 1:8
    God is not finished with you yet. Oh, you may think he is. You may think you’ve peaked. You may think he’s got someone else to do the job.
If so, think again.
“God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again” (Phil. 1:6).
Did you see what God is doing? A good work in you.
Did you see when he will be finished? When Jesus comes again.
May I spell out the message? God ain’t finished with you yet.
Printable Issue 669  Today is Thursday, November 10th, 2005; Karen's Korner #669
I got this "pass along" from Shirley Choat yesterday. It is addressed to "women" but, men readers, I think you can adapt portions of it to be your list too!
 
You are going to like it:
 
HOW CAN A WOMAN NOT LOVE THE LORD?

      He is a gentleman
     He is confident
      He is a provider and protector
      He is rich and powerful
      He owns everything, there is nothing He wouldn't do for me
      He perfects all things concerning me
     He anticipates my wants and needs
      Every day He tells me and shows me how much He loves me
      I don't have to perform in order to earn His love
      He keeps all of his promises
      No one can influence His opinion of me
     He is the ultimate intimate partner
      He can't "disown" me because I am a part of Him
      He prepares a table before me
    He covers me and doesn't expose me
     He wrote His loving words down so that I'll never forget
how He feels about me!

NOW THAT'S LOVE!!!

Any man, who wants pointers on how to love a woman, should study GOD!

Wake up every day and thank God for being the best "man" in your life!
 
~~
Printable Issue 670  Today is Friday, November 11th, 2005; Karen's Korner #670
Celebrate Veterans' Day today! We need to remember and be thankful for what military people have done and are doing to protect us in the past, today, and as they work to preserve our futures!
 
I am someone who had a dad, a husband, a brother-in-law, and a nephew all serve in some branch of the service; along with a host of uncles, cousins, and other relatives and friends. So I am thankful!
 
Maybe right now, I can encourage you to think of one person who is currently serving in the military and pray for them briefly.
 
A couple of short sayings:
 
* What we do is less than a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were missing,
the ocean would lack something.
    ~~ Mother Theresa
 
* Watch for good times to retreat into yourself.
Frequently meditate on how good God is to you.
    ~~ Thomas A. Kempis
 
* All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
    ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Printable Issue 671  Today is Monday, November 14th, 2005; Karen's Korner #671
Recently I heard this story told on a television program.
 
A family had a favorite dog who was soon to give birth to puppies. Some way the dog became entangled in a lawn mower and her two back legs were severed. Dad took the dog to the vet who revealed a less-than-the best prognosis, with a couple of options:  the dogs legs could be amputated, leaving the dog with its two front legs; or the dog could be put down. The unborn puppies weren't affected by the mower incident.
 
Dad told the vet to stitch up the dog. He was taking her back home. Shortly afterwards, the dog learned how to walk on her front two legs and drag the back half of her body behind her. A few weeks later she gave birth to six healthy puppies.
 
As the puppies' eyes opened and they began to explore their world, they learned to venture out of their 'nest'. But they walked....exactly like their mother:  dragging the back portion of their bodies behind them.
 
They acted just like what they saw in front of them!
 
Are we remodels for others in our world? How are they going to act, if they follow our behavior?
 
Dear Father in Heaven, thank You for being our role model. Help us today to be a role model for someone else today, who needs to see You. In your Son's name. Amen.
Printable Issue 672  Today is Tuesday, November 15th, 2005; Karen's Korner #672
Today is my mom's (Kit) 87th birthday and her sister's (Helen) 90th birthday! Both still live alone in Clear Lake, Iowa; mom in an apartment for the last couple of years and her sister in her own home of many, many years.
 
I would like to share something my mom told me recently from her own life. She attends the Christian Church where Mark Young is the pastor. Mark was the pastor of the Clarion church for a number of years, which we attend.
 
If I have the story right, the Clear Lake church now has an overhead projector which they use in their worship services. Several months ago as people were leaving church, mom overheard a lady who is moving through her 90s, tell Mark that she liked it better how they used to worship; not using the new fangled projector. "I liked it better when we used to sing out of the hymnals," she said.
 
When mom had had her turn to talk briefly with the minister, she said, "Don't pay any attention to her! If the younger ones like it, we are almost gone anyway!!"
 
I hope I think that 'young' and 'positive' when I am 87!!
 
Dear God, help me know when to speak up about things and when to shut up! And give me the wisdom to know which to do when.  Amen.
Printable Issue 673  Today is Wednesday, November 16th, 2005; Karen's Korner #673
Today's short writing was forwarded to me by Lavonne Isenberger:
 
On Eagle's Wings
 
Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?
 
The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.
 
When the storms of life come upon us - and all of us will experience them - we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure, and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.
 
Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them. The Bible says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles."
Printable Issue 674  Today is Thursday, November 17th, 2005; Karen's Korner #674
I like it when people email me favorite pass-arounds; some of them I save for future Karen's Korners. This is one of them. I like to acknowledge who sent them to me; unfortunately I don't recall who emailed me this one:
 
THE BIBLE & THE COAL BASKET
 
The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of
eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was
up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible.
 
His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any
way he could. One day the grandson asked, "Papa, I try to read the
Bible just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand
I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible
do?"
 
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and
said, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket
of water." The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked
out before he could get back to the house.
 
The grandfather laughed and said, "You will have to move a little faster
next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.
 
This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he
returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was
"impossible to carry water in a basket," and he went to get a bucket
instead.
 
The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a
basket of water. You can do this. You're just not trying hard enough,"
and he went out the door to watch the boy try again. At this point, the
boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that
even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he
got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he
reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.
 
Out of breath, he said, "See Papa, it's useless!"
 
"So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."
 
The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the
basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was
clean.
 
 "Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible. You might not
understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change
you from the inside out.
 
That is the work of God in our lives.
 
To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the
image of His son.
 
Take time to read a portion of God's word each day.
 
-- Author Unknown
Printable Issue 675  Today is Friday, November 18th, 2005; Karen's Korner #675
Tomorrow is a big day for our church friends Jeff and Tiffini; their biological daugher Allision, and their foster daughter Michelle. Michelle becomes their 'real' daughter at an area courthouse on Saturday morning. It is 'foster child adoption day' not only for them, but for families across the nation.
 
Michelle is a happy, well-adjusted kindergartener who has lived with the Mericle family since she was 3 1/2 years old. Tiffini tells that Michelle was lying on her bed, looking at some picture books, as 'mom' started sorting some of Michelle's outgrown clothes, making room for clothes would fit the growing child.
 
"I began putting them in a black plastic garbage bag," said Tiffini, who was concerntrating on her task at hand. Tiffini glanced over at the now unhappy three-year-old who had gotten off her bed, thrown herself on to the floor, crying and banging her head on the floor, saying, "I will be good!" and "I'm sorry!", over and over again. 
 
Tiffini said she picked up Michelle and began to console her. After the child was calmed down, Tiffini asked, "Sweetheart, what is wrong?",
 
"Why do I have to leave? Don't you want me anymore?" was Michelle's reply. 
 
Tiffini went on to tell that when Michelle came to live with them, everything she owned fit into and came in a black garbage bag.  "We were her fourth home from the time she was removed from her biological home and was placed in Foster Care at 18 months of age!"
 
For the past three years, she has lived with the Mericles. Beginning tomorow, she doesn't have to think about, worry about, or fear any more moves or black garbage bags ever again! She will be Michelle Hope Mericle (last two names will be new!)
 
If that doesn't ruffle up your tear ducts, I don't know what will!
 
But I thought about us and how we are adopted into God's family! He loves us equal to, or greater than, Tiffini, Jeff, and Allison love Michelle. We didn't do anything to deserve that kind of love, like Michelle didn't and doesn't. Unfortunately, we have some bad memories of our past and all the things we could, would, should have done to please Him. And we still aren't all the things we need to be!!
 
Today is a good day to stop crying and beating our heads against the floor, telling Him, "I am sorry!" "I'll be good! I'll do better!" Today is a good day to jump into His arms and let Him love us! Just because He has a black bag out, putting away some of our outgrown clothes, doesn't mean He doesn't love us and we have to move. We are a part of his 'forever family'.
 
Sort of like Michelle; starting tomorrow! 
Printable Issue 676  Today is Monday, November 21st, 2005; Karen's Korner #676
I wrote this Karen's Korner several weeks ago. I thought that it would be either Wednesday's or Thursday's writing. But this morning, I decided it would be a good one to kick off Thanksgiving week.
 
 
When we traveled to Canada in the early part of October, we attended the Kanata Wesleyan Church on the outskirts of Ottawa. It was Sunday, October 9. Canadian Thanksgiving was the next day:  Monday, October 10.
 
While we sometimes regret that Thanksgiving is nearly overlooked on our scurring toward Christmas here in the United States, the Canadians tend to overlook their Thanksgiving holiday even more so.
 
The church's minister Rev. Sumners had as his sermon that October Sunday "The Forgotten Holiday" and talked about how easy it is to not take time to be thankful for all the many things that God has given to us and to say "thanks". Because he had been a minister in Florida for a few years prior to moving to Canada, he had quite an American influence.
 
He reminded the congregation that we don't have to only have things we like going on in our lives to be thankful. We adopted Thanksgiving as a national holiday at the urging of President Abraham Lincoln in 1863...in the darkest days of the Civil War.
 
Rev. Sumners used as our sermon text that Sunday, Habakkuk 3:17 - 19: 
 
"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls--
 
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation."
 
 
His message theme:  we may not be able to control what happens to us in our daily lives; but we can choose whether to be thankful or not. 
Printable Issue 677  Today is Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #677
Maybe it is because our daughter's best friend's mom died over the weekend; maybe it is because Phyllis was the same age as I am; and maybe because sometimes I forget to laugh at myself, and sometimes to laugh with others because of something they might have said or done--that I liked a writing shared recently by Lavonne Isenberger:
 
TODAY
 
Today I will delete from my diary
Two days:  yesterday and tomorrow
 
Yesterday was to learn
And tomorrow will be the consequence
Of what I can do today.
 
Today I will face life
with the conviction that this day
will not ever return.
 
Today is the last opportunity
I have to live intensely,
as no one can assure me
that I will see tomorrow's sunrise.
 
Today I will be brave enough
not to let any opportunity pass me by,
my only alternative is to succeed.
 
Today I will invest
my most valuable resource: my time
in the most transcendental work:
my life.
 
I will spend each minute
passionately to make
of today a different
and unique day in my life.
 
Today I will defy every obstacle
that appears on my way
trusting I will succeed.
 
Today I will resist
pessimism and conquer
the world with a smile,
with the positive attitude
of expecting always the best.
 
Today I will make of every ordinary task
a sublime expression.
 
Today I will have my feet on the ground
understanding reality
and the stars' gaze
to invent my future.
 
Today I will take the time to be happy
and will leave my footprints and my presence
in the hearts of others.
 
Today, I invite you to begin a new season
where we can dream
that everythign we undertake is possible
and we fulfill it,
with joy and dignity.
Printable Issue 678  Today is Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #678
Monday night was the annual Holmes Christmas Club auction in Clarion. Each year the auction raises money for more than 1,000 fruit baskets which are delivered to elderly, shut-ins, those who have gone through lots of things in the past year. Because the auction generally is so successful, they are able to help throughout the year with individual needs in our county when they arise.
 
My husband, Jim, always attends and buys some of the items. Sometimes I go, but I had another couple of meetings that night. When I got home from them, Jim was home and on our kitchen table were a couple of gift certificates to area businesses, a wrapped grocery basket, and several baked items. He likes to 'buy' a certain dollar amount each year to contribute to the club's efforts.
 
When Jim went to pay for the items, the bill didn't total what he wanted to invest so he bought a handful of raffle tickets to make up the difference.
 
Yesterday he found out that he had won two of the raffle items: a collector's Christmas ornament and a 15-speed bicycle.
 
Instead of our family trying to help, now we have items which are more valuable than the money we spent!
 
It makes me think of God and how He so richly blesses us. We are loved and blessed with so many tangible and intangible gifts, all of the time. We try to return His favor in some small way. And He turns around and blesses us some more.
 
It is impossible to out give God. We always win and get! Our job is to be thankful and say, "Thanks!" Being thankful is one of the greatest gifts God gives us which reinvests itself in our good mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
 
Tis the season to be thankful; have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day tomorrow!!
Printable Issue 679  Today is Thursday, November 24th, 2005; Karen's Korner #679
Happy Thanksgiving!!
 
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
 
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
For His mercy endures forever.
 
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever;
 
To Him who alone does great wonders,
For His mercy endures forever.
 
~~ Psalms 136:1 - 4
Printable Issue 680  Today is Friday, November 25th, 2005; Karen's Korner #680
Here is a writing that should get you into the holiday mood; Christmas is a time of 'great joy!':
 
Don't You Just Feel Like Singing?
By Terry Paulson, Ph.D.

     According to Westlake Lutheran Church's tradition, our small but spirited band of off-tune singers left the church for a night of singing and good cheer for the sick members of our church.  But it was quickly apparent that, because few were sick this year, we'd be back to the cider and cookies all too soon.  It was time for some merry magic to weave an insightful strategy.
     After finishing our repertoire of songs at the last home, our group of teens and good-natured sponsors huddled together at my request.  "I've a got a crazy idea," I said.  "Let's go caroling at the supermarket."
     The blank stares of the teens were matched only by the alarming and skeptical look of my wife.  Not one for making a scene in public, particularly in her market, she was ready with a quick veto.  But before she could speak, I shared the rest of my plan.
     "No," I said, "it won't be our usual caroling experience."  My voice turned almost secretive as if plotting a fiendish act.  "Each of us goes into the market alone.  We each take a cart and march through the store.  Then we meet in the fruits-and-nuts section."  The kids were excited, but my wife's expression said otherwise.
     My voice picking up speed as the plan emerged, I continued, "We meet in the produce section.  Then I'll turn to you and shout, 'Don't you just feel like singing?'  Then so as not to leave me alone and looking like a fool, you say, 'Yes!'  At that precise moment, we break into song with 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'!"  That seemed to be the only song we were able to hit on key with any regularity.
     Before my wife could turn the tide, we were off to Von's market with a renewed sense of mission.  We wandered the aisles with our empty carts, trying to look normal.  My wife, on the other hand, chose to wander a bit further away, hoping not to be identified with this band of crazy Lutherans.
     Although my plan was well thought-out, I was not prepared for the multitude of shoppers already in the fruits-and-nuts section.
     There is no way this is going to be a clean performance, I thought.  There are too many unsuspecting shoppers in the way to gather our throng of singers.  I looked across the aisle at my wife, whose look reflected more horror than support.  The teens were confused and unsure of what to do.  Wearing my "Just Do It!" sneakers, I knew there was only one alternative - stick to the plan.
     My enthusiastic question reached the ears of a woman in front of me, right about the time her hand reached a ripe tomato.  With as much sincerity and Christmas cheer as I could muster, I looked her in the eye and asked, "Don't you just feel like singing?"  The woman recoiled as if attacked, and the unsuspecting tomato fell victim to her death grip.
     She looked confused, as if trying to figure out whether I was a mad-hatter or serial killer.  As a somewhat shocked and strained smile appeared on her lips, she uttered cautiously, "Well . . . yes!"
     With her guarded approval, I turned to the throng in the produce section.  With arms open wide, I asked, "Don't the rest of you just feel like singing?"
     As the voices of our small but spirited band of off-tune singers blended with the glassy-eyed crowd, they shouted, "Yes!" in unison.
     At my direction, we all turned and faced the checkout lines, singing, "We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!"
     In a flash, like elves scurrying for cover, our merry band left our carts and immediately ran for the doors, leaving the explanations to the puzzled participants.
     Today, many of those young people now work in church groups across the country.  We still get an occasional call from a "teen" - now in an older person's body - who will leave a message on our answering machine: "We did a Von's!"
     These are the best memories of all.

Printable Issue 681  Today is Monday, November 28th, 2005; Karen's Korner #681
Yesterday our three-month-old granddaughter Molly was baptized at the West Des Moines United Methodist Church. The sanctuary was decorated for Christmas. As I sat down, I noticed several silver 12" - 14" stars with black letters on them hanging at the front of the auditorium. There was an H and an O; a bit of a space and then an E. I looked around; maybe there were other letters to make up NOEL or JOY or what? I didn't know. Those three letters were the only ones I saw.
 
As the worship began, the Advent candle was lit, and the songs were sung; I got it:  our first Sunday of the Christmas season was about HOPE. The P must have fallen down (as we got up to leave, I noticed that the P had simply turned 1/2 a turn, I just couldn't read it).
 
As the service continued, I thought of how important just one letter was to make up the message. No P; no HOPE!
 
And then I thought about each of us this Christmas season. We might be only one letter in a word; or one word in a sentence to others. But we are mportant just the same, as we help someone else know, or remember, the story of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection so that we may find and enjoy life now and into eternity.
 
We might be only the letter P in someone else's Christmas HOPE!
 
Printable Issue 682  Today is Tuesday, November 29th, 2005; Karen's Korner #682
Continuing on from yesterday's letters from Karen's Korner; and the missing letter P in the word HOPE!
 
As I have been driving into Clarion from our farm home southeast of town, I have been reading the sign in front of the Church of the Nazarene. It says:
 
What's missing?
 
CH _ _ CH
 
The right answer:
 
U  R!
 
**
 
How about this one?
 
_ H _ RCH
 
 
The right anwer:
 
We hope to
 
C U in church next Sunday!!
 
**
 
And a quote:
 
"Nearly all men can withstand adversity; if you want to
test a man's character, give him power."


-- President Abraham Lincoln
 
**
 
Printable Issue 683  Today is Wednesday, November 30th, 2005; Karen's Korner #683
A few years ago, I was subscribed to a daily email, "Mr. Mom". This is one  a saved from those days.  It is a little lengthy but is a good message at Christmas time:                  
 
                     A CHRISTMAS STORY
                          by Rian B. Anderson

                  
         Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who  squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But  for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all  outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

          It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling  like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough  money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted so bad that year for Christmas.

          We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just  figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of  the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still  feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to  read scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up and  went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all 
the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

          Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there  was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's  cold out tonight."

          I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for  Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly  reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and  got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened  the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

          Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the  house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was  we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I  could tell. We never hitched up the big sled unless we were going to haul  a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy.

          When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me."

          The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

          When we had exchanged the sideboards Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" 
 
          "You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

          The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "why?"

          "I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.

          We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.  When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked.

          "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

          We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldn't have been our concern.

          We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

          "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

          Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

          "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

          "We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said, then he turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring enough in to last for awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up."

          I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and, much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks and so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy filled my soul that I'd never known before. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

          I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord himself has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

          In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

          Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

          Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

          At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two older brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away.

          Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

          Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

          I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best  Christmas of my life.