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December 2005 Archives

Printable Issue 684  Today is Thursday, December 1st, 2005; Karen's Korner #684
 
This is an email that I received several months ago from long-time friend Alice Hiles, and I received another copy from Jim's cousin, Anleas Greene, a week or so ago. It confirmed for me that it was a good one and time to share:
 
A TALE OF TWO WOLVES
 
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle
that goes on inside people. He said, "My son the
battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.
 
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret,
greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
 
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity, truth, compassion,
and faith."
 
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
"Which wolf wins?"
 
The old Cherokee simply replied,
"The one you feed!"
 
~~
 
(Occasionally a Karen's Korner is sent, but not everyone receives it that day. Who knows why? Yesterday was one of those days! If that happens, you can email me and ask for the day's current edition. Or you can check the web site www.karens-korner.com and that day's edition will be on the front page.)
Printable Issue 685  Today is Friday, December 2nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #685
A daily devotional email I receved about a month ago from my email minister friend Jeff White. I liked it; it is especially good as we head into the Christmas season and think about Jesus, not as a baby but as a savior:
 

For consider Him who has endured such

 hostility by sinners against Himself, so that

 you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

-- Hebrews 12:3  

     I was in class all last week.  It was tough but great.  One of the things that came out of Hebrews was this thought:  Consider Jesus. I want you to consider Jesus with me.  

      He endured such hostility by the very ones he loved, sinners.  Now before you start thinking about who those sinners are, go look in the mirror.  When the soldiers beat my Lord, when they nailed his wrists to the cross, when they dropped the cross into to the hole, when they spit on him, when they gave him vinegar instead of water, and worst of all - when he felt his Father leave his side - It was me that sent him to the cross.  It was my sin.

     When I think on that sacrifice, how can I grow weary.  How can I lose heart.  He is my hero.  Consider Him with me.

Printable Issue 686  Today is Monday, December 5th, 2005; Karen's Korner #686
This is a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which I received a couple of days before Christmas last year:
 
 A Christmas Gift I'll Never Forget
By Linda DeMers Hummel

     He entered my life twenty years ago, leaning against the doorjamb of Room 202, where I taught fifth grade.  He wore sneakers three sizes too large and checkered pants ripped at the knees.
     Daniel made this undistinguished entrance in the school of a quaint lakeside village known for its old money, white colonial homes and brass mailboxes.  He told us his last school had been in a neighboring county.  "We were pickin' fruit," he said matter-of-factly.
     I suspected this friendly, scruffy, smiling boy from an immigrant family had no idea he had been thrown into a den of fifth-grade lions who had never before seen torn pants.  If he noticed snickering, he didn't let on.  There was no chip on his shoulder.
     Twenty-five children eyed Daniel suspiciously until the kick-ball game that afternoon.  Then he led off the first inning with a home run.  With it came a bit of respect from the wardrobe critics of Room 202.
     Next was Charles's turn.  Charles was the least athletic, most overweight child in the history of fifth grade.  After his second strike, amid the rolled eyes and groans of the class, Daniel edged up and spoke quietly to Charles's dejected back.  "Forget them, kid.  You can do it."
     Charles warmed, smiled, stood taller and promptly struck out anyway.  But at that precise moment, defying the social order of this jungle he had entered, Daniel gently began to change things - and us.
     By autumn's end, we had all gravitated toward him.  He taught us all kinds of lessons.  How to call a wild turkey.  How to tell whether fruit is ripe before that first bite.  How to treat others, even Charles.  Especially Charles.  He never did use our names, calling me "Miss" and the students "kid."
     The day before Christmas vacation, the students always brought gifts for the teacher.  It was a ritual - opening each department-store box, surveying the expensive perfume or scarf or leather wallet, and thanking the child.
     That afternoon, Daniel walked to my desk and bent close to my ear.  "Our packing boxes came out last night," he said without emotion.  "We're leavin' tomorrow."
     As I grasped the news, my eyes filled with tears.  He countered the awkward silence by telling me about the move.  Then, as I regained my composure, he pulled a gray rock from his pocket.  Deliberately and with great style, he pushed it gently across my desk.
     I sensed that this was something remarkable, but all my practice with perfume and silk had left me pitifully unprepared to respond.  "It's for you," he said, fixing his eyes on mine.  "I polished it up special."
     I've never forgotten that moment.
     Years have passed since then.  Each Christmas my daughter asks me to tell this story.  It always begins after she picks up the small polished rock that sits on my desk.  Then she nestles herself in my lap and I begin.  The first words of the story never vary.  "The last time I ever saw Daniel, he gave me this rock as a gift and told me about his boxes.  That was a long time ago, even before you were born.
     "He's a grown-up now," I finish.  Together we wonder where he is and what he has become.
     "Someone good I bet," my daughter says.  Then she adds, "Do the end of the story."
     I know what she wants to hear - the lesson of love and caring learned by a teacher from a boy with nothing and everything - to give.  A boy who lived out of boxes.  I touch the rock, remembering.
     "Hi, kid," I say softly.  "This is Miss.  I hope you no longer need the packing boxes.  And Merry Christmas, wherever you are."

Printable Issue 687  Today is Tuesday, December 6th, 2005; Karen's Korner #687

A portion of the Christmas story and a commentary on those verses from my Living Bible:

 

Luke 1:30 –33 – “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you! Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus’. He shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he shall reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom shall never end!”

 

Commentary – God’s blessing does not automatically bring instant success, fame, or favor. His blessing on Mary, the honor of being the mother of the Messiah, would lead to much pain, her peers would ridicule her; her fiancé would come close to leaving her; her son would be rejected and murdered. But through her son would come the world’s only hope, and this is why Mary has been praised by countless generations as “blessed among women”. Her submission led to our salvation. If your blessings lead to sorrows, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out his plan.
Printable Issue 688  Today is Wednesday, December 7th, 2005; Karen's Korner #688
Something I wrote a few weeks ago for inclusion in a neighboring church's Christmas devotional booklet:
 
 
From the time I was a little girl, our family would have Christmas gift exchanges like most famiiles do. There are five of us girls plus our mom and dad. Everyone would buy $1 gifts for each other. Lots of fun, getting and giving quite a few presents. It wasn't very much money, but the hunt for the gifts was part of the Christmas tradition.
 
Fast forward to Christmas 2005! We still get together with our families some time near Christmas Day. We have had added on four brother-in-laws and quite a few children (and grandhchildren and one great-grandchild!) since those days in the 1950s. And guess what? We still spend $1 for each others gifts. We spend all year looking for sales and items that are in the $1 range!
 
No, not too many are collectibles! But we certainly have fun. The quantity of gifts pile up and we don't worry much about whether we purchased a "gift of anyone's dreams", after all it was just $1. My husband, Jim, used to have fun guessing what in his packages without opening them. "Oh, chore gloves! Nice jar of peanuts!."
 
And since the items might not hold our attention too long, we would move on to the Christmas wrapping "snowball" fight; wadding up the wrap and tossing it around the room. At least one person would be "wearing" most of the stick on bows before the "war" was over!
 
As new people have been added to our family, they look forward to the crazy tradition.
 
God created families for times such as the Zirbel family Christmas! He wants us to have a good time together, loving, caring and sharing. Creating memories!! I think as zany as our holidays have been and will be in 2005; God likes to be in the midst of a good time. I like to think of God as the creator and inventor of joy, peace, patience, and the rest of the list found in Galatians 5:22 and 23.
 
And He has the ability to keep on giving us these many things, no matter what might happen in 2006!!
Printable Issue 689  Today is Thursday, December 8th, 2005; Karen's Korner #689
I received this via email some time last week. Might add a little humor to the Christmas season!
 
 
The Committee to Rename Anything Christian, Knowing it's Potentially Offensive or Threatening to Someone (C.R.A.C.K.P.O.T.S.) has completed its mandate.

As you know, we had humble beginnings back in 2005, when we successfully removed the highly offensive and threatening word "Christmas" from TV ads, catalogs, public schools and government property. Thank the non-specific deity that we now have had two decades worth of Winter Holidays that offend no one.

We thought this would be a good time to review the other totally non-offensive holidays we have managed to place on the calendar. You'll see that we've expanded our efforts over the years to cover all sorts of unpleasantness.

January -- Celebrate the First Day of Whatever Calendar Your Personal Tradition May Choose Day;

February -- Significant Other Person or Object Day

March -- Wear Green But Don't Mention a Specific Nationality Day

May -- Don't Look Back on the Past Day

July -- Independence, Dependence or Codependence Day

September -- People Who Like to Work or Just Hang Out Day

October -- Celebrate With a Knowing Smile All the Europeans Who Claim to Have Discovered an Already Occupied Continent Day

November -- Turkey Day -- but we're discussing whether to rename it Turkey or Soy Protein Meat Substitute Day

And of course, December -- Winter Holiday Day
Printable Issue 690  Today is Friday, December 9th, 2005; Karen's Korner #690
 
    ** God's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours!
 
    We aren't even in the same neighborhood.
 
    We're thinking, Preserve the body; He's thinking, Save the soul.
 
    We dream of a pay raise; He dreams of raising the dead.
 
    We avoid pain and seek peace; God uses pain to bring peace.
 
    "I'm going to live before I die," we resolve; "Die, so you can live," He instructs.
 
    We love what rusts; He loves what endures.
 
    We rejoice at our successes; He rejoices at our confessions.
 
    We show our children the Nike star with the million-dollar smile and say, "Be like Mike"; God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, "Be like Christ."
 
 
** Lucado, M., & Gibbs, T. A. 2000. "Grace for the moment : Inspirational thoughts for each day of the year" . J. Countryman: Nashville, Tenn.
Printable Issue 691  Today is Monday, December 12th, 2005; Karen's Korner #691
I got this Chicken Soup for the Soul email a few days after Christmas last year. Enjoy:
 
 
My Appointment with Santa
By Sharon Lopez as told to Cynthia Culp Allen

     As I pulled away from the hospital parking lot, I wasn't expecting something special to happen.  The day seemed like all others.  Every day I made a one-hour trip to the hospital for my three-year-old child to get his daily radiation treatment.  Every day when we left the hospital, we passed the Santa in front of the flower shop on The Esplanade.  And every day my son, Cameron, asked to see him.
     Today was no exception.
     As I pulled onto the street, the shops and businesses that I'd driven past daily for almost six weeks melted into a monotonous blur.  I had memorized this road and barely had to concentrate on maneuvering my car.  My mind was free to brood over my worries.
     So much to do with only two days left until Christmas. I checked off my mental list: mail Aunt Ellen's package...shop for the boys...wrap Mom and Dad's presents...
     Cameron shouted from his car seat behind me, bringing my mind back to the present.  "Mommy, I wanna see Santa!"
     I glanced to the side of the road, and there sat the same Santa we'd driven past for weeks now, waving and smiling the same bearded smile.
     "Cameron, I have to do some shopping.  There's probably a Santa out there for you to see," I told him.
     "I don't want that Santa Claus - I wanna see this Santa!" Cameron protested loudly.
     "Okay, okay, I'll try to get over." 
     I tried to weave into the right lane to go around the block, but I couldn't get over.  I tried for several blocks and still didn't manage it.
     What is this? I thought.  The traffic is never this bad at this time of the day.  Finally, I gave up.
     "Cameron, I couldn't get over," I said.  "We'll have to see the Santa at the mall."
     My son wailed all the way to the mall.  I glanced at him in the rearview mirror.
     Poor little guy, I thought.  He's as pale as a ghost, and looks a sight with his hair almost gone.
     I wondered about the results of our doctor's last effort to radiate away a second cancerous brain tumor in Cameron's small head.  They didn't want to attempt another operation on someone so young - he was only eighteen months when he'd had the first surgery.  Oh, how we had rejoiced when they said they'd "got it all."  We'd hoped, held our breath, prayed and hoped some more for two long years.  Then just six weeks before Christmas 1986, we'd been told the tumor had grown again.
     Although my hopes dwindled, I knew we had to keep fighting it.  When the doctors suggested radiation treatment, we agreed, even though I knew it would mean a two-hour daily drive to a larger city for six weeks up to Christmas Day.  The drive, stress and worry were draining me, even as the radiation drained the life from Cameron's once-pink cheeks.
     I entered the mall with a heavy heart.  The sounds, sights and smells of Christmas were everywhere: Lights and colors flashing, the jingle of the Salvation Army bell, carols playing softly in the background, package-laden people rushing here and there, some tense, some laughing.  A candy shop cooled chocolate fudge on its counter...
     Christmas everywhere but in my heart, I thought, as we stopped at the back of the line to see Santa.
     The long line moved slowly.  Children whined and mothers grew impatient.  I clutched Cameron's cool, small hand and gazed at him wistfully, wishing away the whiteness of his skin.  He was stretching his neck for a better view and had an expectant gleam in his eyes.  We were almost up to Santa!
     Finally, it was our turn.  Cameron scrambled up into the ornate, red sleigh and looked up into Santa's face with anticipation.  I stood off to the side and watched.
     "Well, what do we have here?" Santa asked, noticing Cameron's balding head.  "Are you going to have an operation, son?"
     "No, he's having radiation for a brain tumor," I answered from where I stood.
     "What's his name?"
     "Cameron!" my son piped up.
     "Come over here, Mom," Santa called.  I stepped nearer to hear him.  "You know that after the doctors have done all they can with their technology, that the ultimate healing is up to the Lord."
     "Oh, absolutely!" I agreed.
     "Would you sit up here with me, Mom?" I climbed up into the sleigh.
     "Do you mind if I pray for this little guy?" I shook my head.  Santa continued, "I had a serious problem in my brain at one time and the Lord healed me.  I believe He will heal Cameron, too."
     Santa pulled Cameron and me close, and I felt as if God had reached down and wrapped me up in a warm hug.  I needed it so badly right at that moment.
     Santa prayed, "Father, I ask you to touch this little fella from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.  Make him feel good for Christmas.  Your word promises us, 'for nothing is impossible with God.'  We thank you for healing this little child's body.  Amen."
     When I opened my eyes, about thirty people had gathered around the sleigh, some bewildered, others with knowing looks.  I thanked Santa.  With Cameron beaming, he and I left the mall.
     On the ride home, I realized how easily I could have missed that special moment.  But God had something much better planned.
     He had steered me to a Santa whose fur-clad arms were used by God to touch me with his concern, and whose lips had offered a prayer of hope when I was too weak to pray.  God had led my small son and me to a saintly Santa - the Santa he would use to put Christmas back into our hearts!

Printable Issue 692  Today is Tuesday, December 13th, 2005; Karen's Korner #692

A portion of the Christmas story; plus a Bible commentary on the verses:

 

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

 

Commentary – The greatest event in history had just happened! The Messiah was born! For ages the Jews had waited for this, and when it finally happened, the announcement came to humble shepherds. The good news about Jesus is that he comes to all, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept him. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. Don’t think you need extraordinary qualifications – he accepts you as you are.
Printable Issue 693  Today is Wednesday, December 14th, 2005; Karen's Korner #693
One day last week, I shared with you our family tradition of $1 gifts, followed by the traditional Christmas gift wrap, snow-ball type fight.
 
After reading that story, Maureen Elston shared one of their Christmas tradtions:
 
 
"You might have heard this before, but our Christmas tradition is  - me passing out the nativity pieces to the family. Then I  read the Christmas story from the Bible and as I read, the family brings each piece to the manger and when I've finished, the Christ Child has come to our Christmas."  
 
 
Do any of you have a Christmas tradition that you would like to share with me and with Karen's Korner readers? If you do, type out a few sentences to share.
 
~~
 
And a funny Christmas story which I recently received:
 
 
A kindly 90-year-old grandmother found buying presents for family and friends a bit much one Christmas, so she wrote out checks for all of them to put in their Christmas cards.

In each card she wrote, "Buy your own present" and then sent them off.

After the Christmas festivities were over, she found the checks in her desk! Everyone had gotten a Christmas card from her with "Buy your own present" written inside, but without the checks!

~~

Printable Issue 694  Today is Thursday, December 15th, 2005; Karen's Korner #694
As we get closer to Christmas, the count down until Christmas begins. Only ten more days until December 25!
 
Here is a countdown of another sort, emailed to me by Jimmy and Colleen Johnson:
 
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

Gratefully. Faithfully. Peacefully.
Printable Issue 695  Today is Friday, December 16th, 2005; Karen's Korner #695
This is something which I received last year from Tim and Shelley Fletcher; and again this year from Mark Young, with the note "maybe you can use this some time". Enjoy:
 
 
Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened...

I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.

"What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.

He then answered me with a simple statement. "TEACH THE CHILDREN!" I was puzzled; what did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.

As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before the mantle. "Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven."

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise."

He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. "Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."

Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. "Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection."

He then pulled from his bag and ornament of HIMSELF. "Teach the children that I, Santa Clause symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December."

He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. "Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him."

Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "Teach the children that God so loved the world that he gave..." Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds’ crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother’s keeper."

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. The angels sang ’Glory to God in the highest on earth peace and good will toward men."

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. "Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. Santa looked back and was pleased.

He looked back at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, Jesus Christ our Lord, our God."
 
-- Author Unknown
Printable Issue 696  Today is Monday, December 19th, 2005; Karen's Korner #696
With all of our focus on whether to put "Christmas" into Merry Christmas this year, here is a pass-along email that I received from Kent and Kelly Kirstein (I have chopped out a paragraph or two for reading speed!):
 
I'm on a "Merry Christmas" mission and I'm in full throttle. My little yellow VW Beetle has turned into a Christmas billboard with Merry Christmas written across the back window. Yes, I've decided to trek off to work everyday on the public highways with a message that seems to offend people. At stop lights, I even turn my music up a little louder, and to top it off, I sing along with it. Don't I know that stopping at a red light to roll my windows down only to share the joy of Christmas carols on public streets is a No-No? Don't I fear the Christmas Gestapo and those who would have me remove the written message from my car?
 
I'm sorry folks, but the only person I'm concerned about "offending" during this Christmas season is the Lord himself. LEAVE THAT MANGER ALONE! We've allowed the Baby Jesus to be kicked out of His lowly manger, and those offended by Christmas are still not happy.
 
I refuse to let this happen. I'm going to do my part to make sure "Merry Christmas" doesn't become extinct. Because like it or not, if the believers in Christmas don't take a stand now, it's gone forever.
Listen folks, the Christian community has been underestimated before; we will have to show ourselves again. I walked into a Wendy's Restaurant the other day and was rather exuberant with my "Merry Christmas" greeting to the manager. He didn't have much of a response and I said, "Where's your Christmas spirit?" He said, "We're not allowed to use the words "Merry Christmas" when greeting customers.

We do have a store, Hobby Lobby, that plays nothing but Christmas carols during the season. On Christmas Day they run a full page ad in our local newspaper. That ad is not to promote the store, but uses the entire page to tell the story of Jesus' birth. Now that's taking a stand. We need to thank them.
 
When I saw a news report the other evening of children being taught new words to a song we've sung for years - "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" -   I was saddened to hear "We Wish You a Splendid Holiday."
 
I know now that it's just a matter of time that the "Merry Christmas" greetings will be gone. Look around your town. Notice the "Holiday" greetings and not "Christmas." It's happening right before our very eyes.Start singing the songs; go down the streets of America singing to your heart's content. Get some of those wash-off markers that these kids use to write on their car windows when they're rooting for their hometown football team. It's easy to do, and if a torrential rain washes it off, write it on there again. We've got to get this message out. "Go Tell It On the Mountain . . . that Jesus Christ is Born." Sing it, speak it, be a billboard for our Lord.

The story of this "Baby Jesus" alone has brought about more goodwill at this time of year than any other day we celebrate. Is it Jesus, or is it His followers that the "offended" don't like? What kind of revulsion galvanizes one to campaign so vehemently against the mere mention of His name, the mere singing of a carol, or the mere visual of a sign that says "Merry Christmas?"
 
I can listen to my own boss at work use some of the vilest words and follow up with, "Excuse my French." I may cringe inside at his damning of God's name, but I tolerate it. So if you don't like me wishing you a "Merry Christmas," I'll say, "Excuse my joy." You may cringe that I celebrate the birth of Jesus, but just tolerate it. I cannot be concerned that "Merry Christmas" offends you. If I'm not careful, the day will come when saying I'm a Christian will offend you.
 
If you're worried about offending someone, you just did. The most recent Newsweek survey shows that 82% of Americans believe that Jesus is the Son God. So, in trying not to offend a few, you've offended many. If we try to make everything right for everyone, we won't have anything for anyone.

May you always have Christmas in your heart! And may you share that JOY with others who you meet!!
Printable Issue 697  Today is Tuesday, December 20th, 2005; Karen's Korner #697

Luke 2:13 & 14 – “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God:  “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang, “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”

 

Commentary – Some of the Jews were waiting for the Messiah to deliver them from Roman rule; others hoped he would deliver them from physical ailments. But Jesus, while healing their illnesses and establishing a spiritual kingdom, delivered them from sin. He outstripped all their expectations. People often set their own agenda for Jesus, and thus expect too little from him. His work is more far-reaching than anyone could imagine. He has paid the price for sin and opened the way to God. He offers us more than superficial political or physical changes – he offers us new hearts which will be ours for eternity.
Printable Issue 698  Today is Wednesday, December 21st, 2005; Karen's Korner #698
I received this 'letter' from Jim Bossard last year near Christmas time; and I got another copy this year from another friend. So it is time to share it:
 
A letter from Jesus

 As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday.  Every year there
 is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration
 will be repeated.  During this time there are many people shopping for
 gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every
 part of the  world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer
 and  closer.
 
It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year,
 some people think of me.  As you know, the celebration of my birthday began
 many years ago.  At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of
 all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the
 reason for the celebration.  Family and friends get together and have a lot
 of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that
 last year there was a great feast in my honor.  The dinner table was full
 of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates.  The
 decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully  wrapped
 gifts. 
 
But, do you want to know something?  I wasn't invited. I was the
 guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation.  The
 party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they
 closed the door in my face....and I wanted to be with them and share their
 table. In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all
 close their doors to me. 
 
Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the
 party without making any noise.  I went in and stood in a corner.  They
 were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and
 laughing at everything.  They were having a grand time.  To top it all,
 this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the
 room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho!  He seemed drunk.  He sat on the sofa and all the
 children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa  Claus"...as if the party
 were in his honor! At 12 Midnight all the people began to hug each other; I
 extended my arms waiting for someone to hug  me and...do you know...no one
 hugged me.
 
Suddenly they all began to share gifts.  They opened them one by
 one with great expectation.  When all had been opened, I looked to see if,
 maybe, there was one for  me. What would you feel if on your birthday
 everybody shared gifts and you did not get one?  I then understood that I
 was unwanted at that party and quietly left.  Every year it gets worse.
 People only remember to eat and drink, the gifts, the parties and nobody
 remembers me.

 I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I
 would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I
 came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you.
 Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart.
 
I want to  share something with you.  As many didn't invite me to their party,
I will  have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a
 spectacular party.  I'm still  making the final arrangements. 
Today I am  sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. 
I want to  know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you
and write  your name with golden letters in my great guest book. 
Only those on then  guest list will be invited to the party.
 
Those who don't answer the invite,
 will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be
 part of my great party.
 See you soon. 
 
I Love you!
 Jesus
Printable Issue 699  Today is Thursday, December 22nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #699
I asked people to share a Christmas memory or family tradition. There are four who responded and I have included them here.
 
First, please indulge me with a memory of my own:
 
** In the 36 years, that Jim and I have been married, Clarion has had basically three community Santas:  Dennis Olson, Ken Anderson, and now Tom Simmons. All three know how to be a good St. Nick. They know that loud "ho, ho, hos" scare the little , so they spend some time talking with kids to get them onto their laps for a short talk, and/or a photo. Dennis passed away a number of years ago.
 
Several weeks ago, Ken Anderson, the one who looked the most like the jolly elf in real life, died. He was a large, gentle man who didn't have to put on a Santa beard; he wore a white one in real life which matched his own white hair.
 
The Andersons were Minnesota people but were transferred to Clarion for Ken's job. They thought they would live here for a few years before they moved back "home". But our community adopted them; and they adopted us! People loved both Ken and Doris.
 
Both assumed leadership roles easily, in their church and in our community. Ken served on the Chamber board of directors, eventually becoming its President. Mark Young, a former Clarion pastor recalls, "I met Ken when he and I were on the Chamber board and I always admired him thereafter. I admired his humble leadership."
 
When a gang took on the huge volunteer project of renovating our depot which was in terrible disarray, Ken was in the middle of it. Previous Chamber Director Nancy Nail said, "Ken loved his community here in Clarion and working to maintain its history." He served on the depot committee, keeping the building active after it was restored; until his ill health caused him to quit.
 
When Ken died, he didn't return to Minnesota either. We kept him; his remains are buried in our local cemetery. But we didn't cancel Christmas in Clarion this year, because Santa didn't die in 2005: he lives! God is in the business of restoring bodies and lives....
 
..... and Ken lives in the hearts and minds of each of us who called him friend........
 
 
** With all of the hoopla over Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays. Here is a note that I received several days ago from Bonnie Young:
 
I heard an interesting little tidbit yesterday.  Someone said that the word "holiday" is a contraction for "holy day." 
 
 
** Arlene Lockwood wrote a Christmas memory from her childhood:  
 
"I was about eight years old and in the third grade, one brother and I attended school in Meservey, while two others in Thornton. My best friend was Karyl Ubben from Thornton; we both had hearing loss and shared a lot of the same classes as well as attending a speech therapy class in school.  It was the first time I'd had a real friend - prior to that the kids made fun of me or ignored me due to my hearing loss and speech difference." Arlene recalls her father working as a farmhand, living in a farmhouse as part of his pay, and not having a lot of extra money. One extra expense that year was a brother's appendix surgery. "When Christmas morning came, there was just two presents under the tree: one with my name (it was a doll) and one for my th ree brothers to share (a portable record player and a couple records). But we were happy, we were warm, we had a Christmas tree, we had food to eat, warm clothes to wear, family and friends- we had love."
 
 
** Carol Needham shared a couple of Christmas traditions at the Needham household; here is one:
 
"Since the children were tiny, we have had a Christmas devotion before opening presents. This includes scripture, special music by the children, devotional thoughts, and prayer. This has continued over the years as the children have grown and the grandchildren have come along, one graduating from college with a minor in piano, and several others playing the piano, vocal numbers, a trumpet duet with our son and grandson accompanied by our daughter-in-law. The highlight of the morning." Carol said the family is looking for 24 people at their home the day after Christmas, with seven members of their son and his family, who are in Cameroon as evangelical missionaries, not coming. "Our family continues to grow spiritually and in numbers. We are blessed," she said.
 
 
** Sharon Peterson shares a similar family time each Christmas:
 
"Everyone participates, by singing Christmas carols, playing instruments, poems, and the best is the portrayal of the Nativity. Our oldest grandson reads scripture and the little ones portray Mary, Joseph, wisemen, angels and of course baby Jesus, which is usually the family doll. Everyone looks forward to our program. Grandpa Whitey concludes with his poem which his Dad and Grandpa always said 'Christmas comes but once a year, but when it comes, it brings good cheer'."
Printable Issue 700  Today is Friday, December 23rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #700
Not only is this an opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! It is also an opportunity to celebrate the 700th Karen's Korner. Who would have thought it, when I started! And if I would have planned backwards, would I have figured it right to have this milestone hit on Christmas Eve??
 
So thanks for the memories and for sticking with me all/some of the Karen's Korners to date! Remember that back topics, writings, etc. can be found by going to the web site:        www.karens-korner.com and typing in a word or two and you can find back issues (Christmas, Isaiah, birds, or whatever), and any Karen's Korners with those topics will come back up.
 
So Merry Christmas from the Welds to each of you!!
 
 
.As we come to Christmas Eve, I think back to a couple of stories my dad used to retell quite often about his days in Germany, as a part of the U.S. Army and the efforts of World War II. He was in a medical division, helping to aid wounded soldiers.
 
He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's plan to divide the Allied Forces in a last attempt to win the war. It was nearing Christmas and the troops would move as if in a dance; sometimes advancing, other times retreating.
 
More than once I heard him talk about Christmas Eve of 1944. They awoke to a lot of new fallen snow. Their temporary home of tents had footprints all around them. And the boots were not from any Allied soldiers.
 
"The tracks were made by the Germans and the Axis troops," he would say. "I have no idea why we weren't captured!"
 
Christmas gift #1 - December 1944!
 
 
Another story he would tell quite frequently was later on in the war.
 
It became apparent to both sides that Germany and their allies would not win the war, but their leaders had not surrendered, so the battles continued.
 
"We had German nurses who would come and work with us all day," my dad would tell, "and then we would give them all kinds of supplies and medicines to take back to their soldiers. They had nothing left to care for their people with. We were all just soldiers with wounded people that needed care. They had what we needed - more nurses; we had what they needed - more supplies."
 
As we are once again in a conflict in Iraq, we need to remember that even in war, sometimes the best comes out in people.
 
Christmas gift #2 - memories carred forward to December 2005!
Printable Issue 701  Today is Monday, December 26th, 2005; Karen's Korner #701
Hope that you, your family and friends had a wonderful Christmas yesterday. Even though the big day is past, many family celebrations and the government legal holiday is today! This writing was shared with us last year by Wendi Harrah and we have gotten some varying versions since then. If you haven't seen it, I hope that you enjoy it:
 
The Meaning of the Candy Cane
 
Hard Candy
Reminds us that Jesus is like a 'rock':  strong and dependable.
~ Psalms 31:3
 
Peppermint Flavor
Reminds us of the gift of spices from the wise men.
~ Matthew 2:11
 
    White Candy
Stands for Jesus as the holy, sinless Son of God.
~ I John 1:7
 
Cane
Is like a staff used by shepherds in caring for sheep.
Jesus is our 'Good Shepherd'.
~ John 10:1-18, 27-30
 
The Letter 'J'
Is the first letter in the name of Jesus, Our Savior.
~ Matthew 1:21
 
The Color Red
Reminds us of God's love that sent Jesus;
And of Jesus shedding His blood for us.
~ John 3:16 and Revelation 1:5
 
The Stripes
A large stripe reminds us of the cross on which Jesus died.
Three small red stripes remind us of His suffering--
The crown of thorns; the stripes from the whip on His back;
and the nail wounds in His hands and feet.
~ John 19:1 - 30
 
Printable Issue 702  Today is Tuesday, December 27th, 2005; Karen's Korner #702

Matthew 2:1 & 2 – “Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands, and have come to worship him.”

 

Commentary – The astrologers traveled thousands of miles to see the King of the Jews. When they finally found him, they responded with joy, worship, and gifts. How different from the approach people often take today. We expect God to come looking for us, to explain himself, prove who he is, and give us gifts. But those who are wise still seek and worship Jesus today, not for what they can get, but for who he is.
Printable Issue 703  Today is Wednesday, December 28th, 2005; Karen's Korner #703
I serve on a board in our community for a business; we meet about four times per year. When we attend, we get paid for our participation. The December meeting was scheduled for the same day as Marys and Marthas, an outreach group of gals in our community. Since I had made the commitment to the M & Ms (as we are known for short) first; and I am a leader in the group, I made the choice to attend the Christmas meeting of the M & Ms.
 
A week or so later, I met with the manager of the business to talk over the things which I may have missed at the business meeting. After our talk, he handed me the meeting's check.
 
I knew that I didn't deserve, but I appreciated it.
 
Because I was given something I didn't expect, I am giving half of the dollars to the M & Ms, who uses money to help, serve, and congratulate people in our world.
 
When I wrote the manager thanking him, I penned, "Everyone wins at Christmas time!" I have extra dollars and so does our outreach group.
 
That's what God tries to tell us when He sent Jesus to be born, to live, to die, and to live again for forever.....for each one of us:  "It's Christmas! Please accept My gift to you. And you all win! "
 
Like my dollars, we didn't expect Him and we certainly don't deserve His love and friendship! But we can receive Him just the same!
Printable Issue 704  Today is Thursday, December 29th, 2005; Karen's Korner #704
I received this story from Dixie Beenken a short while ago. I think you will enjoy it:
 
God and the Geese

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

One snowy Eve, his wife was taking their children to service in the farm community in which they lived. They were to talk about Jesus' birth. She asked him  to come, but he refused.  "That story is nonsense!" he said, "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!"

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

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

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be
a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the
barn or realize what it could mean for them.  The man tried to get their
attention, but that just seemed to scare them, and they moved further away.He went into the house and came with some bread,  broke it up, and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them
toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn.  Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe. "Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed, 
"Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?"

He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.


"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of  his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese.
He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the
barn -- and one-by-one, the other geese followed it to safety.


He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose,  then I could save them!"

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done.  We were like the
geese--blind, lost, perishing.  God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us.


As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought.  Suddenly he understood why Christ had come.  Years of doubt and disbelief vanished with the passing storm.
 
He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

"Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"
Printable Issue 705  Today is Friday, December 30th, 2005; Karen's Korner #705
Our daughter, Jamie, and our grandchildren, Luke and Molly, spent a couple of days with us last week, as we enjoyed some pre-Christmas time together. Some of grandma's things are put up a little higher so that almost two-year-old Luke doesn't play with them. But on my coffee table is a small, molded plastic four-piece nativity set: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and his cradle.
 
Since it is a rustic-looking gold, it appears sort of rich. In reality, I paid $1.10 for the set in 1976 when I purchased it at the gift shop in St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester. Jim had his first heart surgery there over the Christmas holidays, twenty-eight years ago. He got home from the hospital on New Year's Day - 1977.
 
When Luke and company left last week, three of the pieces were there. Baby Jesus was missing! It certainly wasn't the value that concerned me, but the memories associated with it! It's hard to put away something so durable, when Luke would comment, "A baby Jesus!" and carry Him around.
 
Maybe I would find the missing piece when I vaccuumed. I moved the recliner chair. No Jesus. I looked behind a basket and a stack of books. Nothing. What about under the coffee table? Yes, there He was!
 
When I picked up the about two-inch treasure, I thought, "This is what Jesus tells us. If we can't find Him (see Him, sense His presence), He asks us to look and He guarantees, we will find Him!" (Matthew 7:7,8)
 
Have a wonderful 2006!