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December 2007 Archives

Printable Issue 1201  Today is Monday, December 3rd, 2007; Karen's Korner #1201
I was working on something for our church in a segment titled "Alive!"
What does it mean to a Christian and to be more 'alive' than we are without being one? A portion of the 'aliveness' is being powered or empowered by the Holy Spirit. But what does that mean?
Just this week I caught a portion of a television segment by Dr. David Jeremiah (my apologies if I didn't jot down what he said totally correct):
Jeremiah used an illustration from his own life in which he had supernatural strength surrounding a childhood Halloween prank gone bad, which caused his miraculous escape. My husband, Jim, has his own story. Shortly before he graduated from high school, their neighbors' home burned one evening. When the call came to the Welds, the whole family flew down the road to help. Jim and his dad carried the freezer from the porch and out on to the lawn. When it came time to carry the freezer back into the new home, it took four men with special handles on the outside of the freezer and they struggled to carry it back to its new location.
How did they do that? Jeremiah said that it is fear and that rush of power and strength, we have no idea is available within us.
He went on to explain that each of us Christians have that kind of spiritual power packed inside us. So if we have that kind of supernatural spiritual strength, why don't we or can't we operate in the strength of the Holy Spirit? It is because the Holy Spirit takes up 'residency' in us at our 'new birth', but that Spirit wants the role of 'presidency'.
But how do you make/let the Holy Spirit be president and not just resident? According to Jeremiah::
1) We need to DESIRE it; we need to ask for it - "I am tired of working in my strength, God. I want your strength";
2) We need to DENOUNCE sin - "I don't like some of the things I think, say, or do, God. I want to think, say, and do the things which are pleasing to You, God! Help me."
3) We need to DEDICATE ourselves fully to Christ - "Some of things I do are pretty good, God; other things aren't so hot. I know that you have something better in mind for me. I give you both the good stuff and the badf. As the Creator and Designer of the Universe, I seek Your kind of thinking, power, and strength to carry out the tasks you have in mind for me, for my world, for Your World!"
Romans 8: 1- 4 says "So there is no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit - and this power is mine through Christ Jesus - has freed me from the vicious cycle of sin and death. We aren't saved from sin's grasp by knowing the commandments of God, because we can't and don't keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours--except that ours are sinful--and destroyed sin's control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. So now we can obey God's laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us."
Printable Issue 1202  Today is Tuesday, December 4th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1202
This week's installment of a Christmas story. I don't recall the sender:
A Dozen Christmas Roses
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his backyard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mothers' Christmas gift.
He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."
Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother.
Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.
Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before had anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.
As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn't buy anything with only a dime.
As he entered the next store, the flower shop owner asked if he could help. Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift.
The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."
As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.
The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into the long white box.
"That will be ten cents, young man," the shop owner said, reaching out for Bobby's dime.
Slowly, Bobby move his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!
Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses for sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?"
This time Bobby didn't hesitate, and when the man place the flower box into Bobby's arms, he said, "Merry Christmas, son."
As the man turned to walk into the back room, the shop keeper's wife walked toward him. "Who were you talking with and where are the roses you were fixing?" she asked.
Staring out the window and blinking the tears away from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this moring. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.
"When I looked at him, I saw myself many years ago. I, too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.
"When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew whose that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses." The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.
May this story instill the spirit of Christmas in you
enough to pass it along to others.
Have a Joyous and Peace-filled season.
~Bobby's Dime" by Thomas Pucci~
Printable Issue 1203  Today is Wednesday, December 5th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1203
Now it is the guys' turn to write. Allen Tesdahl is the other half of the 'homework assignment' email from Mary (see Karen's Korner #1200) and Allen. As new gramdparemts, they are on their way from Iowa to Colorado to spend a few months near two grandkids::
"Grandchildren can be comical and funny.  When my wife and I are babysitting, we are drained at the end of the day, but happy, tired and rewarded.  We thank God for grandchildren and for allowing us to be caring adults in their lives."
Please protect my grandchildren. Work in their lives, so they will want to serve you with body, mind, and soul.  Provide those things that they need and fill them with contentment as they bask in the warmth of your love.
~~ taken from EVERYDAY PRAYERS by Rachel Quillan
Printable Issue 1204  Today is Thursday, December 6th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1204
An email forwarded to me by Deb Mechem Lange, former Clarion resident, now a resident of Colorado; long-time and long-distance good friend:
A pastor had been on a long flight from one place to another. The first warning of the approaching problems came, "Fasten your seat belts."
Then, after awhile, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Make sure your seat belt is fastened."
Later, the voice of the announcer said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us."
And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of the thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of the air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash.
The pator confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.
"Then I suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.
"Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm, when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid."
The minister could hardly believe his eyes.
It was not surprising, therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented on the storm and behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.
The child replied, "Cause my Daddy's the pilot, and he's taking me home."
There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into apprarently uncontrollable movement. We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.
Let us remember:  "Our Father is the Pilot. He is in control and taking us home. Don't worry!!"
Printable Issue 1205  Today is Friday, December 7th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1205
Nowadays if something needs to be told, we just send out an email to everyone on our email list who we think might want to get our message. That's we do at our church.
But what about those who don't have email? We remedied that a few weeks ago when we made up a call tree for those without an email and/or computer. The minister or secretary calls three people. Those three call three, and those three are to call three. Any time we use the 'tree', we are only three calls away from the first caller. But do you know how many people learn about the late-breaking-news? Forty!!
It's easy to see how rumors are spread without telling too many!
But what about good news and positive comments? Maybe today is the day to tell three people, who will tell three people, who will......
That's how the Christmas story of old spread. The Good News was experienced and then it was told and retold. Luke 2:11-20 (in part):
"Don't be afraid!" the angel said. "I bring you the most joyful news every announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem'.......suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others --the armies of heaven--praising God!.......the shepherds said to each other, 'Come on! Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened........they ran to the village and found their way to Mary, Jospeh, and the baby........the shepherds told every what had happened and what the angel had said about the child.....all who heard their story were astonished  ........then the shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, praising God for the visits of the angels and because they had seen the child....."
Printable Issue 1206  Today is Monday, December 10th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1206
I like it when people try their hands at writing and then forward it to me; such is the case of this Christmas poem by Cory Abels. "I wrote it but don't feel obligated to use if as a Karen's Korner," he wrote.
I am not obligated but delighted to share:

The Night Before Christmas


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the barn,

Not a creature was stirring, except the cats playing with yarn;


The manger was filled with hay with great care,

In hopes that our Savior would soon be lying there;


The animals were nestled all snug in the hay,

Waiting for what would happen the next day;


I just locked the door for the night at the inn,

When Joseph, Mary, and donkey came strolling on in;


They asked me for a place for them lie down,

I said “the inn is full” and then gave them a frown;


They insisted they needed a warm place to stay,

So I offered them the stable, with beds made of hay;


Later that night Mary had a baby boy,

To the world, this baby would bring so much joy;


Angels then sang to some shepherds “do not have fright,

For Christ is born on this very night”;


The shepherds headed to town from afar,

While three wise men followed the light of a star;


The wise men brought gifts, myrrh, Frankincense and gold,

To give to this boy, so bright and so bold;


The baby our Lord was named Jesus Christ,

Many years latter he would make a great sacrifice;


Someday he would die, to take away our sins,

He’d be worshiped in church, in our prayers and with hymns;


People spread Christ’s birth across the land with all of their might,

Saying, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



Printable Issue 1207  Today is Tuesday, December 11th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1207
Last weekend, we had the fun of taking in Iowa's Jolly Holiday Lights in Des Moines, o-ohing and a-ahing over the Christmas lights in the nearly 3 mile trek with grandchildren. All the money raised goes to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Iowa, giving wishes to 'children battling life-threatening medical conditions'.
This is especially close to our family, as our son-in-law has one niece who has had a wish granted and another niece who is the process of getting hers granted. The average wish costs about $8,000, as trips, etc. often times include the entire family and the wish is generally done first-rate.
The Jolly Holiday Lights booklet gave us a glimpse of one of those Iowa journeys, written by the family and about Alex and their trip to Washington D.C. (in part):
"On Thursday, we were told what restaurant to eat at that evening as they donated our meal - wonderful Italian - and were told to be outside waiting at 4:50 for our ride to pick us up for the evening tour of D.C. As we stood on the sidewalk, coming from the other direction, we were struck by the sirens and sight of a Presidential Motorcade - Alex said, 'wow' as it went by, and THEN it did a U-turn and came back to pull up in front of us!
"The secret service piled out from the vehicles and a man approached Alex to let him know they were here to pick him up and escort him through the city!
"Once we got into the limo, the secret service was amazing - telling Alex he was in the presidential, bullet proof limo and that for that night wherever he went in the city, people would think he was 'the man'. The motorcade took off, stopping traffic, making everyone turn to look at ALEX and letting him shine in the spotlight! Alex laughed as we watched people taking photos of the motorcade.
"Our first stop was the Pentagon where we were greeted by an Admiral from the Navy. Our next stop took our breath away again: as we pulled up in front of the Jefferson Monument, there were already secret service agents holding people back and, as Alex stepped out of the car, he was completely surrounded by security.
"I will never forget the look on Alex's face as he watched people moving out of HIS way, with him getting the direct attention! Everywhere we walked, our guide introduced Alex as 'president for the day'; and everyone stopped to clap!
"Our final stop was for a tour of the West Wing of the White House! The sniper on the roof actually waved at Alex! Inside the White House we got to play with BOTH the Bush's dogs - Barney and Ms. Beasley!
"The whole experience was beyond words!! A night we will NEVER forget!! The people we met were amazing---they each gave their time, but gave so much more in the messages they gave to Alex about courage, bravery, sprituality, strength, resilience, and character!! So many people that night prayed for Alex - a true gift! A MAGICAL night!"
Printable Issue 1208  Today is Wednesday, December 12th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1208
We met a lady named Lu Brown on our bank trip to Austrailia/New Zealand several years ago. Lu mailed us a Christmas card and tucked in little flyer with a couple of stories in it published by Guideposts.
Here is one of them:
Gift-Wrapped Prayers
By Mary Brown
"I poked among toy shelves in a discount store searching for the perfect gift, a present for our two-year-old godson Ryan. A fun toy, yet educational A speical one to remind him of his Uncle Alex and Aunt Mary whom he sees only twice a year. Picking up box after box, I grew more discouraged.
"Then I caught a few words of the Christmas carols playing in the store:
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given.
"I wheeld my cart down a deserted sporting goods aisle and closed my eyes, "Oh, Jesus," I breathed. "Yes, You are the only perfect gift. Help Ryan to know You and love You." Then I went back and peacefully chose some building blocks.
"Later that night, I spread shopping bags across my bed. As I taped shiny green paper with red rocking horses around Ryan's box of blocks, I found myself praying again for him. Pulling out another parcel, I thought, 'Why pray only for Ryan because he's my godchild? Why not pray for Aunt Helen, who's battling Parkinson's disease, as I wrap her candle? And for the new job my husbnad Alex started? And for our dear friends the Richters who are moving away next month?'
"As I cut paper, taped, tied ribbon and prayed for each recipient, love for each person swelled in my heart. God's presence filled the room and surrounded me on the bed brimming with gifts. I plan to wrap up each present with prayer again this year."
Printable Issue 1209  Today is Thursday, December 13th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1209
This is a daily devotional email by Joel and Victoria Osteen from earlier this week, which I thought was good. I have given their web site before. If anyone would like to subscribe for themselves, it is www.joelosteen.com .
Joy in His Presence
"You have made known to me the path of life,
you will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."
~ Psalm 16:11
Do you need more joy in your life today? God promises that joy is found in His presence and if you've accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then His presence lives inside of you! That joy manifests when you focus your mind and heart on the Father and begin to praise Him for what He's done in your life. The Bible says that He inhabits the praises of His people. When you begin to praise and thank Him, you are in His presence where there is fullness of joy. It doesn't matter where you are or what's going on around you, you can access the joy that's inside of you at anytime, day or night. And know this:  God wants you to experience His supernatural joy and peace at all times. That's why He chose to live inside of you and give you an endless supply. Don't waste another minute feeling overburdened and discouraged. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength, and you will move forward in victory on the path of life He's prepared for you!
Father in heaven, thank You for an endless supply of joy. Today I choose to cast my cares on You and give You the praise, glory, and honor You deserve. Let joy flow through me today so that I can be a witness of Your goodness to those around me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Printable Issue 1210  Today is Friday, December 14th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1210
This is a prayer composed and emailed to me last Christmas by Chris Lousias, shared with you for this year's Christmas season:

A Prayer of the Father’s Gift to Us


God of Eternity, Your Holiness, we are not worthy to look upon You.  Your Gift to us is extravagant beyond measure.  We are sinners full of our own pride and our independence from You.  How can You love such a troubled, tangled people from ages ago until now? 


Your hope in us is never ending…and still, to this day, in Your compassion for us, You promise us love and life.  You have kept your promise to be merciful forever (Luke 1:55) by giving us a shoot from the tree of Jesse; from whose roots a Branch bore fruit (Isaiah 11:1).  You promised He would be the source of our peace (Micah 5:5). 


You delivered that promise so many years ago one Holy night bundled in a sack cloth.  You offered that gift, wrapped as it was, and Father I pray that not one of us pass up the plain wrapping for the pretty bows of an unfulfilled lie.


Giver of Life, You opened the Gift to us right before our eyes.  The Gift gave of Himself freely.  The Present that hung on the tree, displayed and exposed for all to see was and still is a cleansing Gift for all who reach for it.  All we have to do is say thank You I receive this Gift.  I believe this Gift is for me and this Gift is non-refundable!


This is a precious Gift of tender mercy, a light from heaven that has shone upon us; a Gift that gives light to those who sit in darkness; a light that guides us to the path of peace.  (Luke 1:78-79).


Heavenly Giver, You have bestowed upon us a Gift so opulent that its worth exponentially explodes as we share it with others.  By accepting this Gift, we are qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12).  An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:4).  We give You thanks, Father, and we are humbled because we know we are not deserving of such splendor.


How can we please You, Yahweh?  Accept our worship, accept our words of love to You, and accept our dancing before You!!  I pray, oh how I pray that we may please You with how we show Your love to others through us.  I pray the Helper You have sent, fills this place and our hearts with ways to live for Your Glory.  We want to do for You because our hearts are bursting with such emotion.  We long to sit at Your feet and hear the stories of Your mysteries.  Oh what joy, what pleasure to smile with unbroken bodies and minds and hearts before You when the day of Victory comes.


Lord God Almighty, we bask in Your love, we praise You for Your faithfulness.  We praise You for our Prince of Peace and the gift of His saving blood.  No Gift like the Gift of Him who gave himself as a ransom for all men (1 Timothy 2:6), a ransom that bought us from our sins for those who believe, will ever compare in this world.  Father, our words of thanksgiving I pray will never cease, but for now, we lift this prayer up to You in the peace and joy of Jesus’ ever-loving name, Amen.
Printable Issue 1211  Today is Monday, December 17th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1211
Cory Abels' writing of list week prompted Lois Lesher to forward me a poem she had written in 1962. Thanks, Lois, for sharing; she said she had penned it for her children:
  The Holy Story
God looked down from Heaven above, 
and gave us Baby Jesus to love,
In the manger forever he will lie.
Small children sing his lullaby.
His birth we will celebrate, with candle and bough.
He was born in a stable, with donkey and cow.
A star shone bright, in the heaven's above,
And up in the rafters cooed a dove.
Shepherds and Wise Men came to see,
And fell down on bended knee.
Gifts they brought from far and near,
And wondered at the miracle of this baby dear.
Joseph and Mary, the parents were,
And from Bethlehem they fled in fear.
Wicked Herod had decreed,
That not a boy from his sword would be freed.
But Joseph was warned in a dream,
And they left the country over hiss and stream.
Fled with their son to a land far away,
To a place where he could safely play.
Printable Issue 1212  Today is Tuesday, December 18th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1212
Not many more shopping days until Christmas now; one week from today is THE DAY! This short poem is written by Teresa Powell. I don't know her nor have a met her. This was email via another friend. All I know is that Teresa is known as "The Poem Lady". Enjoy!

The more you give

The more you give,

the more you get---

The more you laugh,

the less you fret---


The more of everything

you share,

The more you'll always

have to spare---


The more you love,

the more you'll find

That life is good

and friends are kind.


For only what

we give away,

Enriches us

from day to day.


Love and prayers,


Isaiah 9:6 -- "For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is GIVEN; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: 'Wonderful', 'Counselor', 'The Mighty God', 'The Everlasting Father', 'The Prince of Peace'."

 Luke 2:6 -- "And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born, and she GAVE birth to her first child, a son."
Luke 2:8 -- "Don't be afraid!" the angel 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!"

 Matthew 2:11 -- “And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasure bags, they GAVE to Him gifts - gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”


Printable Issue 1213  Today is Wednesday, December 19th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1213
An email forward from Karen Strempke, along with this note, "from the Lutheran Hour Ministries daily devotion.  I thought it was a nice illustration of 'wearing our faith':

"It was always the same thing! When he left home, his mother always made him wear red socks. This was a good motive for his friends to tease him. One day they asked him, 'Why do you only wear the red socks when you leave home?'

"The boy answered, 'My mother said that it is for my own safety. If I get lost, she only has to look at the legs of all the children in the room. When she sees a pair of red socks, she will know I am there. This way she can find me fast.'
"Our faith can be compared to a pair of red socks. Being a Christian is often seen as something bad or can be a motive for mocking and jokes. Around the world, it seems the most important thing is the opinion of the majority. For this reason, we often feel excluded or separated, because we don't do what the world tells us to do.

"Nowadays, many young people like to go out and get drunk, live an uncontrolled sex life and do other things the world promotes. For these people, going to church, belonging to a youth group, or singing and praising God is like wearing a pair of red socks. It seems awkward in the eyes of the world.

"Don't let yourself be taken in by the things of the world. There are many other ways to enjoy life without offending God: playing sports, studying, and having good, healthy fun. 'But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.' (1 Peter 3:15).

"Always wear the red socks of your faith so that everybody can see you are a Christian. This way, God will find you wherever you are."

THE PRAYER: Help us, oh, Lord, to know how to give good testimony of our faith. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. -  Zephaniah 3:17
Printable Issue 1214  Today is Thursday, December 20th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1214
A Chrsistmas story taken from yesterday's Gimundo email:
Secret Santa Gives Thousands of Dollars to Strangers

Ever had a Secret Santa? Most of us have played that game at school, or around the office during the holiday season – and our gifts are usually pretty underwhelming. Paperweights, pencil sharpeners, and a tube of lipstick aren't exactly on top of our Christmas wish lists – but you'd probably like your Secret Santa a lot more if he just gave you a handful of cash: $200 worth, to be exact.

No, we haven't been hitting the eggnog – there really is a Santa Claus traveling around the U.S. with a bag full of money, and if you've been very good this year, you just might make his list.

This month, an anonymous businessman from Kansas City is criss-crossing the country with $75,000 in cash. He won't be sliding down any chimneys, but he's stopping in at bus stations, thrift shops, and laundromats, seeking out friendly strangers who seem down on their luck. All he asks in return for his generous cash gift is that his beneficiaries do a good deed for someone else.

This Good Samaritan may seem saintly, but he's merely stepping into the boots of an old friend: the original Secret Santa, Larry Stewart.

Stewart, who died of cancer last year, spent 25 Christmases traveling the country, doling out over $1 million to people in need. When Stewart was on his deathbed, his friend promised him that the Secret Santa tradition would live on long after he was gone.
Printable Issue 1215  Today is Friday, December 21st, 2007; Karen's Korner #1215

Sue Freund, who is a 'friend', emailed me this writing a couple of days ago. She 'signed it' and dated the writing - December 18, 2007:

"It’s that time again when the sounds of Christmas fill the air. “ People passing-- children laughing da da da da da da in the air there’s the feeling of Christmas.” “Here we go a wassailing da da da something like that.

"I look forward to hearing those familiar songs and hymns. Those cheerful songs that put me in the mood for the busy season that is here once again. The soothing hymns that remind me of what the season is really meant to be. And the inevitable nonsense song that I can never get out of my head, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, da da da.”

"I dress up in my Christmas finest and sit in pews to listen to the performances. Choir voices blend harmoniously filling me with peace. Solo voices stir my senses, as well as wrench my neck as I position myself to see the face from which this wonderful sound is coming. I lean to the right, I lean to the left, I stretch upwards and I slump down before I give in and just listen to the songs, all the while staring at the back of some stranger’s head. I have often wondered just how many hymnals I would need to sit on before I could really enjoy the show? Have you ever noticed that the tallest man always sits directly in front of me? He nods off only to have his wife give him the elbow.

When I do get a peek at the choir members I often wonder if they know what they look like to me? Of course you always have the beauty with the voice of a lark. Then you have the man with the neck of a goose and then the women with the throat of a turkey. It never fails, the biggest roundest man sings tenor and the thinnest shortest man sings base. Many sing with smiling joyful faces and others sing pinching their faces as if they were about to pop out a plum.

"I can tell you this, because if it were known, I wish God had given me the talent to sing. There are few Christmas songs of which I don’t know the words. I know this because I can sing them loud and clear as I drive down the highway. All the truck drivers I meet must think what a fine singer I am. In all reality they are thinking that I am just another warbling wanna be. With that thought they would be correct. All in all this is another part of Christmas, which believe it or not, I truly enjoy.

"May we rejoice in the season and give praise to God for the talents he has given each of us. After all it takes a talent all its own to fill the pews.

"I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas da da da da da da."



Printable Issue 1216  Today is Monday, December 24th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1216
Tomorrow is Christmas, so today is the evening when Santa comes to town!
What about this guy known as Santa Claus? Fact or fiction?
Researched from a couple of internet pieces:
"In looking for the historical roots of Santa Claus, one must go deep in the past. Santa, as we know him is a combination of truths, different legends, and mythical creatures.
"Father Christmas (Santa Claus or Sinterklaas) is based on a historical figure known as Saint Nicholas, who was born in 270 AD. He was the bishop of Smyrna, in what is now Turkey; was clad in red and white bishops' robes and rode a donkey; spent time bestowing gifts on children; and became the patron saint of children (thus Saint Nicholas). When he died on December 6, 310, it became the day to give gifts, especially to chldren.
"In the Protestant areas of central and northern Germany, St. Nicholas later became know as der Weinachtsmann. In England, he came to be called Father Christmas. St. Nicholas made his way to the United States with Dutch immigrants, and began to be referred to as Santa Claus.
" The Dutch-American Saint Nick achieved his fully Americanized form in 1823 in the poem 'A Visit from Saint Nicholas', more commonly known as 'The Night Before Christmas' by writer Clement Clarke Moore. Moore included such details as the names of the reindeer; Santa Claus' laughs, winks, and nods; and the method by which Saint Nicholas, referred to as an elf, returns up the chimney.
"Over the centuries, customs from different parts of the Northern Hemisphere thus came together and created the whole world's Santa Claus - the ageless, timeless, white-bearded man who gives out gifts on Christmas."
Christmas gift giving began because God gave us His Son Jesus. When we receive his gift, we want to return the favor, in a small part, and give gifts to others. Not only at Christmas time, but throughout the whole year.
"Thank you, Father God, for the Gift of Your Son, Jesus! Thank you for love that you lavish upon each of us because you are the giver of life and every good and perfect thing! We love you for that kind of love and care! Happy birthday, Jesus! Amen."
Printable Issue 1217  Today is Thursday, December 27th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1217
(My apologies for no Karen's Korners the past two days - Christmas Day and yesterday. I am having computer problems and my machine in currently in Des Moines in the 'computer hospital', The couple Korners I had prepared are 'stuck' inside. I will use them in the next few days. After all, if we are Christians, everyday is like Christmas!)
A couple of days ago I was reaching for something in our top cupboards. My arms weren't long enough nor were my legs. I had no choice but to grab our step stool.
It seemed like God was impressing on me that His being in our lives is like my stool. We are never tall enough with so many things out of our reach. He will lift us up and help us, if we but let Him and ask for His help. All the things we want or need. The things which He has in store for us are not as far away from us as we might believe they are!
Isaiah 41:10 says, "Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
Commentary on this verse:  "We need not fear because (1) God's presence is with us ('I am with you'.), (2) God has established a relationship with us ('I am your God'), and (3) God's assurance of strength, help, and victory over sin and death is certain."
Thank You, Father God, that you hold us up and that everything we ever need or want, we can reach if we allow you to help us and care for us. Amen.
Printable Issue 1218  Today is Friday, December 28th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1218
Among other Christmas gifts, my mom gave many of us a little book titled, "If there is no God...." by Mark Winter.
Here are a couple of the scenarios Winter proposes:
If there is no God,
who programmed the most marvelous computer of all?
What if you could own a three-pound computer that contained
a hundred trillion bits of information--the equivalent of
twenty million books?
You already do--it's your brain!
"I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom."
-- Ecclesiastes 2:12
If there is no God,
who crammed all the data into DNA?
DNA is the stuff of genes, which determines
everything from your hair color to height,
to resistence to certain diseases.
If the coded DNA instructions within one of your cells could be printed,
the information would fill a thousand encyclopedia-sized books.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know full well."
-- Psalm 139:14
If there is no God,
how do we explain that a machine requires a maker,
but the universe does not?
A typical wind-up alarm clock contains about a dozen moving parts.
No one disputes that a skilled worker put it together.
Yet some people argue that the world does not require an intelligent maker -
the world that contains more than 9,000 species of birds,
70,000 kinds of trees, and 750,000 types of insects.
"For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
invisible and invisible, whether thrones or
powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him.
-- Colossians 1:16
If there is no God,
why have people seen angels?
Missionary John G. Paton and his wife prayed when a hostile tribe
surrounded their home one night. At dawn, the tribe suddenly turned
and ran. A year later, the converted chief reported that hundreds of men were
standing guard at the house--huge men in radiant garments with
drawn swords.
"Do you think I cannot call on my Father,
and he will at once put at my disposal
more than twelve legions of angels?"
-- Matthew 26:53
Printable Issue 1219  Today is Saturday, December 29th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1219

(Making up for one of the two korners I missed because of computer problems this week; would have been the Christmas Karen's Korner !)

"Little known facts about Christmas" is someting I found on the internet.

Here are a couple of them:

** Gospel writers Mark, Luke, and John don’t even mention the Three Wise Men. The one who does mention them, Matthew, does not specify how many wise men there were. We came up with the number three.

** Historical accounts reveal the Wise Men and the shepherds visited the Christ child at separate times. There were no warm, sentimental manger scenes as depicted in today’s art.

** The visit of the Wise Men, who were known for their knowledge of astrology, was indirectly responsible for the slaughter of male children under the age of two in Bethlehem.

** The shepherds who came to see the baby Jesus were rough and tough dudes. God decided the announcement of the birth of his son was to be made to societal outcasts who were not permitted even to testify in court proceedings because their word could not be trusted.

** Since Joseph and Mary had not had sex, when he found out the news of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph could have divorced Mary without any embarrassment to himself or his family. It was Joseph’s dreams that kept him on the Godly path.

** Some three months of her pregnancy Mary stayed with her relative, Elizabeth, who also was expecting a child. John the Baptist and Jesus, therefore, were cousins as well as brothers in the Kingdom of God.

** The manger was no more than a wood feeding trough. Mary laid her son in a manger where animals had slobbered all over as they ate their food. Surely Joseph or perhaps the innkeeper had cleaned up this special manger.

** The Gospel writers do not tell us Mary’s age. Some speculate she could have been as young as 12. Please tell me not! But it could have been. It’s another scandal amid the larger scandal of the birth, life, death, and resurrection scandal.

** Jesus was probably not born in December, but we do not know for sure. We know for sure more about the time of year when he died than when he was born. December 25 was a man-made date.

** Maybe this would be a good day or time of year, to take down the Bible and re-read the three accounts of the birth of Jesus. Maybe it will help us to get our facts straight and our faith renewed.
(Luke 1:28 - 2:20; Matthews 1:18 - 2:23; and John 1:1 - 14.)
Thought for the day:  Jesus made his home with us that we might choose to make our home with Him forever!
PRAYER:  "Father God, thank You for the gift of Your Son Jesus! And for making each of our days merry and bright!"
Printable Issue 1220  Today is Sunday, December 30th, 2007; Karen's Korner #1220
(Making up for the Wednesday edition missed this past week!)
Chapter four from the small book titled "The First Gift of Christmas" by Richard Paul Evans:
"Is it enough?
Christmas Night.
As the evening falls like the curtain on a long-awaited show,
I hold my daughter one last time this season,
In the warm bath of the Christmas-tree lights.
And I wonder.
Did the Yuletide parties and gatherings fill her with a sense of family?
Did the Christmas rituals unite her in a shared commonality with her fellowmen?
Did the music of Christmas heal her of a cynical world
and inspire her with hopes of something greater?
Did the gifts she shared teach her that the greatest gifts are received in giving?
Did the once-wrapped presents of Christmas remind her of a great gift
given many Christmases ago?
And I wonder.
Is there enough awe in my child, enough magic left, to save a world?
For within my heart I lament a great truth--
That the only promise of childhood is that it will end.
And I wonder what I have given her to take its place.
And is it enough?
Printable Issue 1221  Today is Monday, December 31st, 2007; Karen's Korner #1221
I received this email from Miriam Jensen last night and thought it was appropriate for New Year's Eve Day, as we celebrate things which have happened in 2007 and welcome 2008:
My Prayer For 2008

The time has come to say good by
A year of happiness and of sorrow
I pray the war will end soon
So we'll have a better tomorrow.

A year of happiness for all
When friends can get together
The blessings of a family
That we will love forever.
For those that have lost loved ones
My sympathy, I send your way
And hope that prayer and the love of God
Will help you through each day.

For those who have brought new life in the world
Congratulations to you
Thank the Lord in Heaven above
For making your dreams come true.
For those that are sick, in so much pain
May God Bless your health today
Ease your burden and give you peace
Help you in every way.

May His grace shine down upon you
As we start a brand New Year
Praying 2008 brings to you
Much happiness and cheer

~~ Ginny Bryant from "Journey of Love"