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August 2004 Archives

Printable Issue 341  Today is Monday, August 2nd, 2004; Karen's Korner #341

We were fortunate enough to be able to host our "every-third-year" family reunion here on Saturday. Since we live on the "home place", we always have it here. As I have been thinking of family relationships, I received this "Chicken Soup for the Soul" last week.


Too many times nowadays with the media and modern medical discoveries, we sometimes feel badly if we inherit or pass along "less than the best" genetics........physical qualities, predispositions to some diseases, and the rest. Maybe instead we need to celebrate all the "good" stuff we got from our ancestors and are passing along to future generations:



A Gift through the Generations
By Harriet Cooper

My grandmother was of average height, had hazel eyes and salt and pepper hair that framed a round face. She had lots of laugh lines and a smile that said she had plenty of love to give. When you hugged her, there was plenty to hang onto. I know because I hugged her a lot.

She wasn't beautiful by today's definition. She didn't turn heads when she walked into a room. If you saw her on the street, you would probably have walked by her without a second glance. There are millions of overweight grandmothers in the world - mine would have blended right in.

But if you did walk by her, if you didn't notice her, you would have been missing someone special.

When I was growing up, going over to my grandmother's was always a special occasion. Although there was little money for new furniture or fancy knickknacks, the house was filled with food and love, in equal amounts. Even now when I think of her, more than 30 years after her death, I find it hard to separate my memories of her from the food she made.

Mostly, I remember her baking. The kitchen table would be covered with flour and she would be up to her arms in dough, her short, nimble fingers able to turn the most mundane ingredients into light, flaky treats from the old country. While my contribution to the baking was often no more than carrying ingredients from the fridge to the table, I took my role as her assistant very seriously.

I don't think I ever felt as close to her as I did then, when it was just the two of us in the kitchen. The older grandchildren would be out shopping or at the movies, too old or too sophisticated to want to spend time with a grandmother who wasn't up on the latest fashion or the music group.

Not me. I was exactly where I wanted to be - in a cramped kitchen helping my grandmother. While she measured and kneaded, whipped and stirred, she talked to me. Not about the big world out there, but about the little world in which we lived. The day-to-day stuff - school, food, and family.

Mostly what she did was to make me feel loved and wanted. In that kitchen, while I was with her, I was the most important person in her life.

I didn't inherit my grandmother's culinary talents but I did inherit her eyes, her sense of humor and, unfortunately, her body build. For the longest time, I saw that as a curse. Instead of being tall and slender, I was short and dumpy. More peasant stock than royalty.

I blamed my excess padding on both my grandmother and my mother. They were the ones who gave me one hip that's a good inch lower than the other one. Hips that in the old country would be considered good childbearing hips, but which in this country are too wide.

During my teens and into my twenties, every time I looked in the mirror I saw only my defects. I was too short, too round-faced, too wide in the hips, too this and too that. There was nothing about my body that I liked. It was all their fault.

Now, when I look back, I can see how much time and energy I wasted blaming them for passing on their less than perfect physical traits. Because I was so focused on what I saw as negative traits, I forgot the thing that mattered most - their real beauty.

I would look at the last picture ever taken of my grandmother and would feel how much I missed her. But I was missing more than her. I was missing my heritage. Luckily, as I got older, and maybe a little bit wiser, I began to understand and to reach out for it.

My mother is now older than my grandmother was when she died. Over the years, my mother has begun to look more and more like my grandmother. Her hair is starting to go salt and pepper and she has begun to put on a little more weight around the middle. There are also more lines on her face than there used to be.

The family resemblance is becoming stronger and stronger with each passing year.

In watching my mother grow more like my grandmother, I am rediscovering just how beautiful my grandmother was and how beautiful my mother is. And in rediscovering their beauty, I am also discovering mine. No, not the textbook definition of beauty, but my own definition. One that is right for me.

I no longer complain quite as much when my mother visits and brings me boxes of food. I now understand that like her mother before her, my mother sees food as love. While she doesn't bake quite as well as my grandmother did, no one ever will, my mother bakes love into everything she makes.

As I get older, the family resemblance is coming out more and more in me too. The hazel eyes, the laugh lines, the hair with the first gray ones appearing and yes, the figure with the full hips and expanding middle. Only now I don't see them as a curse, but as a blessing.

All of these things form a bond between me, my mother, my grandmother and all their mothers who came before them. I only have to look in the mirror to see that I belong to a long line of very special women.

Of course, I expect to get more and more beautiful as I get older with each laugh line and each gray hair tying me more closely to those who have come before me.

After all, in my family, beauty is a family tradition.
Printable Issue 342  Today is Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004; Karen's Korner #342

(Sorry for the delay in sending/receiving today's Karen's Korner. I have been experiencing computer problems.) 


Bible verses:  Psalms 16:8 - 11 --


"I am always thinking of the Lord; and because He is so near, I never need to stumble or to fall.


Heart, body, and soul are filled with joy.


For You will not leave me among the dead; You will not allow Your beloved one to rot in the grave. You have let me experience the joys of life and the exquisite pleasures of Your own eternal presence."



Bible Commentary on these verses --


"By constantly thinking about the Lord and His way of living, we will gain insights that will help us make right decisions and live the way God desires.


God does not exempt believers from the day-to-day circumstances of life. Believers and nonbelievers alike experience pain, trouble, and failure at times. David (writer of the Psalm) was talking about the unique sense of security felt by believers. David found the secret to joy. True joy is far deeper than happiness; joy can be felt in the midst of and in spite of one's deepest troubles. Happiness is temporary because it is based on external circumstances, but joy is lasting because it is based on God's presence within us. As you contemplate His daily presence, you will find contentment. Don't base your life on circumstances but on God.


David stated confidently that God will not leave his loved ones in the grave or among the dead. Many people fear death because they cannot control it and do not understand it. As believers, we can be assured that God will not forget us after we die. He will bring us to life again to live with Him forever. This provides real security."

Printable Issue 343  Today is Wednesday, August 4th, 2004; Karen's Korner #343

I got an email from family members John and Cathy Weld part of a week ago. The subject said "church smiles". This is just a sample of them. I thought they were cute. They are either jokes which somebody has written or they are actual life experiences. I prefer to think of someone actually saying or doing it:



Church Smiles

There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family

Bible to her brother in another part of the country.
"Is there anything breakable in here?" asked the postal clerk.
"Only the Ten Commandments," answered the lady.

A Sunday School teacher began her lesson with a question,

"Boys and girls, what do we know about God?
A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy.
"Really? How do you! know?" the teacher asked.
"You know - Our Father, who does art in Heaven... "

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before

a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there

were many cars ahead of him in front of the service station. Finally,

the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump. "Reverend," said

the young man, "sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits

until the last minute to get ready for a long trip."The minister chuckled,

"I know what you mean. It's the same in my business."

Sunday after church, a Mom asked her very young daughter

what the lesson was about.
The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt."
Needless to say, the Mom was perplexed.
Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the Mom

asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about.
He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."
Printable Issue 344  Today is Thursday, August 5th, 2004; Karen's Korner #344

(Happy birthday to our son-in-law, Tim, and to our grandson, Luke, who is celebrating his 1/2 year birthday today!)


I am not sure where I got this writing. I have had it for awhile. Might have seen it a time or two when emails get passed around. At any rate, I like it. Maybe it will motivate a person or so who reads this to take on an "assignment" for the day:



Do It Now!
By Dennis E. Mannering

In a class I teach for adults, I recently did the "unpardonable." I gave the class homework! The assignment was to "go to someone you love within the next week and tell them you love them. It has to be someone you have never said those words to before or at least haven't shared those words with for a long time."

Now that doesn't sound like a very tough assignment, until you stop to realize that most of the men in that group were over 35 and were raised in the generation of men that were taught that expressing emotions is not "macho." Showing feelings or crying (heaven forbid!) was just not done. So this was a very threatening assignment for some.

At the beginning of our next class, I asked if someone wanted to share what happened when they told someone they loved them. I fully expected one of the women to volunteer, as was usually the case, but on this evening one of the men raised his hand. He appeared quite moved and a bit shaken.

As he unfolded out of his chair (all 6'2" of him), he began by saying, "Dennis, I was quite angry with you last week when you gave us this assignment. I didn't feel that I had anyone to say those words to, and besides, who were you to tell me to do something that personal? But as I began driving home my conscience started talking to me. It was telling me that I knew exactly who I needed to say 'I love you' to. You see, five years ago, my father and I had a vicious disagreement and really never resolved it since that time. We avoided seeing each other unless we absolutely had to at Christmas or other family gatherings. But even then, we hardly spoke to each other. So, last Tuesday by the time I got home I had convinced myself I was going to tell my father I loved him.

"It's weird, but just making that decision seemed to lift a heavy load off my chest.

"When I got home, I rushed into the house to tell my wife what I was going to do. She was already in bed, but I woke her up anyway. When I told her, she didn't just get out of bed, she catapulted out and hugged me, and for the first time in our married life she saw me cry. We stayed up half the night drinking coffee and talking. It was great!

"The next morning I was up bright and early. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I got to the office early and accomplished more in two hours than I had the whole day before.

"At 9:00 I called my dad to see if I could come over after work. When he answered the phone, I just said, 'Dad, can I come over after work tonight? I have something to tell you.' My dad responded with a grumpy, 'Now what?' I assured him it wouldn't take long, so he finally agreed.

"At 5:30, I was at my parents' house ringing the doorbell, praying that Dad would answer the door. I was afraid if Mom answered that I would chicken out and tell her instead. But as luck would have it, Dad did answer the door.

"I didn't waste any time - I took one step in the door and said, 'Dad, I just came over to tell you that I love you.'

"It was as if a transformation came over my dad. Before my eyes his face softened, the wrinkles seemed to disappear and he began to cry. He reached out and hugged me and said, 'I love you too, son, but I've never been able to say it.'

"It was such a precious moment I didn't want to move. Mom walked by with tears in her eyes. I just waved and blew her a kiss. Dad and I hugged for a moment longer and then I left. I hadn't felt that great in a long time.

"But that's not even my point. Two days after that visit, my dad, who had heart problems but didn't tell me, had an attack and ended up in the hospital, unconscious. I don't know if he'll make it.

"So my message to all of you in this class is this: Don't wait to do the things you know need to be done. What if I had waited to tell my dad - maybe I will never get the chance again! Take the time to do what you need to do and do it now!"
Printable Issue 345  Today is Friday, August 6th, 2004; Karen's Korner #345

I got this pass along email from my sister, Amy, a number of months ago. Hope that you enjoy it:

                         HOW TO FORGIVE ... WOW

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the
woods. As he thought about his life this day, he knew many things were not
right. He thought about those who had lied about him back when he had a

His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him.

He remembered family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he
had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment
and frustration.

Standing there this day, searching for answers he could not find, knowing
all else had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek
the one he knew would always be there. And with tears in his eyes, he

"Lord- You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me
to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to
forgive.! I am sad, Lord, because I cannot. I don't know how. It is not
fair Lord. I didn't deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I
shouldn't have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I
cannot do, for I don't know how to forgive. My anger is so deep Lord, I
fear I may not hear you, but I pray that you teach me to do this one thing
I cannot do - Teach me To Forgive."

As he knelt there in the quiet shade of that old oak tree, he felt
something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of
one eye, he saw something red on his shirt.

He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been
was a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw
two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them.

He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging
on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and
battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally he saw the suffering
and pain on His precious face. As their eyes met, the man's tears turned to
sobbing, and Jesus began to speak.

"Have you ever told a lie?" He asked?
The man answered - "yes, Lord."

"Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?"
The man answered - "yes. Lord."  And the man sobbed more and more.

"Have you ever taken something from work that wasn't yours?" Jesus asked?
And the man answered - "yes, Lord."

"Have you ever sworn, using my Father's name in vain?"
The man, crying now, answered - "yes, Lord."

As Jesus asked many more times, "Have you ever"? The man's crying became
Uncontrollable, for he could only answer - "yes, Lord."

Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt
something fall on his other shoulder. He looked and saw that it was the
blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and
there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before.

Jesus said, "I didn't deserve this either, but I forgive you."

It may be hard to see how you're going to get through something, but when
you look back in life, you realize how true this statement is. Read the
following first line slowly and let it sink in.

If God brings you to it - He will bring you through it.

"Lord I love You and I need You, come into my heart, today. For without You
I can do nothing."
Printable Issue 346  Today is Monday, August 9th, 2004; Karen's Korner #346

Some of you know that I am a part of an ecumenical Christian service group known as the Marys & Marthas (M & Ms for short). Now and then the group looks at the short verses in the book of Luke that tells about these two sisters.


The other day I was looking at that part of Luke and the verses and my Bible commentary right above the ' Marys & Marthas" verses caught my eye. Pretty familiar text to church or Sunday School-goers, but I particularly liked the commentary in the box near the writing:


Luke 10:30-36 (Jesus is talking):


"A Jew going on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road.


"By chance a Jewish priest came along; and when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other sie of the road and passed him by. A Jewish Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but then went on.


"But a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two twenty-dollar bills and told him to take care of the man. 'If the bill runs higher than that,' he said. 'I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.'"


Boxed commentary on these verses:


To the lawyer, the wounded man was a subject to discuss.


To the thieves, the wounded man was someone to use and exploit


To the religious man, the wounded man was a problem to be avoided.


To the innkeeper, the wounded man was a customer to serve for a fee.


To the Samaritan, the wounded man was a human being worth being cared for and loved.


To Jesus, all of them and all of us are worth dying for.
Printable Issue 347  Today is Tuesday, August 10th, 2004; Karen's Korner #347

Several times I have caught a program on Christian television given by Joel Osteen. Seems like many television speakers are pastors of big churches and Osteen is no exception. I particularly liked one of his sermons and ordered a tape talking about "God's blessings". Tossed into the box was a pamphlet titled, "30 Thoughts for Victorious Living". The list is good.


In the next few weeks, I would like to share a half dozen with you through Karen's Korner:



"as a man thinks in his heart, so is he" -- Proverbs 23:7


    Did you know that you never will rise above the image you have of yourself? If you see yourself as poor and defeated, then you are going to live a poor, defeated life.


    In order to change your life, you have to change your focus. You have to change what you are looking at and believing for. You have to believe that God is for you and desires good things for your life. If you choose to stay focused on the things that are negative in your life, then by your own choice you are agreeing with the enemy. You cast the deciding vote. When you believe his lies, it opens a door to destruction in your life.


    But on the other hand, if you choose to agree with God and His Word, if you'll choose to focus on the fact that you can do all things through Christ, and that you are more than a conqueror, then your faith is going to cause God to show up and work supernaturally in your life! Your faith will help you to new levels of victory and soon you will rise to be the champion God has called you to be!


Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for designing me to succeed in every area of my life. I choose to agree with Your Word and focus on the good things in my life. I know that You have equipped me to live as a champion in life!
Printable Issue 348  Today is Wednesday, August 11th, 2004; Karen's Korner #348

Several short thoughts to start your day and mine:


*  Get what you can and keep what you have;
     that's the way to get rich.
          -- Scottish Proverb


*  A child's life is like a piece of paper
     on which every person leaves a mark.
          -- Chinese Proverb 

*     Children have more need of models than of critics.
          -- Joseph Joubert


*    Have two goals: wisdom -- that is knowing and choosing right -- and common sense. Don't let them slip away for they fill you with living energy, and bring you honor and respect.

        -- Proverbs 3:21, 22

Printable Issue 349  Today is Thursday, August 12th, 2004; Karen's Korner #349

I got this email "pass along" from my sister Eileen a few weeks ago, telling about Grandma's apron. It brought up visual memories of my Grandma Zirbel, my dad's mom. She always wore a crisply starched and ironed print over-the-head full apron. When we were younger, our mom would wear a tied-around-the-middle apron. I don't remember when she stopped wearing aprons. I have a mental picture of their aprons doing some of the things this story talks about:


    The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress

underneath, but along with that, it served as a holder for removing hot

pans from the oven; it was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on

occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

    From the chicken-coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy

chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming


    When company came, those old aprons were ideal hiding places for shy

kids; and when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her


    Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot

wood stove. Chips and kindling-wood were brought into the kitchen in

that apron.

    From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had

been shelled it carried out the hulls.

    In the fall it was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the


    When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much

furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

    When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out on the porch and waved her

apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields for


    It will be a long time before anyone invents something that will replace

that old-time apron that served so many purposes.

--   author unknown
Printable Issue 350  Today is Friday, August 13th, 2004; Karen's Korner #350

The past few days I have been thinking more and more about the state of our country. My thoughts have less to do with politics and Republicans versus Democrats than the direction our collective lives our headed.


Last night I got an email stating that a judge near Houston, Texas has ordered the removal of Bible in a lighted showcase on public property. The Bible is displayed, along with a memorial to same local guy. The memorial has been on these grounds for the past 50 years. But now, according to the judge, it is offensive and violates separation of church and state.


Inch by inch we are removing God from our public square, our collective and individual lives. We call it allowing for more 'freedoms' of others and ourselves.


For years and years, man-made and natural disasters have happened to other countries, but not here. Some times and some places a storm might hit a country and 30,000 people are killed. "Doesn't happen in America," I have sometimes marveled. Some countries have some internal political strife or bad leaders and hundreds of thousands are killed. "Doesn't happen on our soil," I think.


Has God blessed us favorably over the past decades? Maybe centuries? He honors and protects us, because that is what we have asked Him to do? Have we been blessed with His grace and mercy?


What happens when we turn our backs on Him? His principles? His guidance? His best plans for successful living and lives? Will He be there for us?


If He isn't, I am not sure we have enough resources -- time, money, and people - for "homeland security".


We will have chosen to "go it alone" and God will let us!

Printable Issue 351  Today is Monday, August 16th, 2004; Karen's Korner #351

Does anyone but me find it ironic that Karen's Korner on Friday, I typed about some recent thoughts I have had about "manmade or natural disasters" in our country, and on Saturday we have a huge hurricane incident in the southeast United States?


Does anyone but me, wonder or believe the timing of my writing and thinking and the weather pattern might have been a "God thing"?


I say that not because I believe that I am anyone special, but because God is! And He loves to get His messages to His people--you and me, because He loves us and wants to take the best care possible of us!



A couple of verses from Psalms 46:1 - 6:


"God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. And so we need not fear even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble!


"There is a river of joy flowing through the city of our God--the sacred home of the God above all gods. God himself is living in that city; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay His help. The nations rant and rave in anger--but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin."




The fear of mountains or cities suddenly crumbling into the sea by a nuclear blast (or nowadays a terrorist attack! - KW) haunts many people today. But this psalm writer says that even if the world ends, "We need not fear!" Even in the face of utter destruction, he expressed a quiet confidence in God's ability to save him. It seems impossible to face the end of the world without fear, but the Bible is clear--God is our refuge even in the face of total destruction. He is not merely a temporary retreat; he is our eternal refuge and can provide strength even in the face of global destruction.


Many great cities have rivers flowing through them; sustaining people's lives and becoming the center of trade. Jerusalem had no river, but it had God who, like a river, sustained the people's lives and was the center of their attention. As long as God lived among the people, the city was invincible. But when the people abandoned Him, God left them, and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian army.

Printable Issue 352  Today is Tuesday, August 17th, 2004; Karen's Korner #352

This is the second of maybe a half dozen thoughts by Joel Osteen on victorious Christian living:


..........the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalms 84:11



    What an awesome promise--no good thing does He withhold...God wants to pour out His abundant victory and favor in your life! In Psalms 8:5, the Bible says that God has crowned us with glory and honor. Another word for honor is "favor". In other words, God has crowned us with His favor! He wants you to thrive and excel in life.


     You are a child of the Most High God. You walk in His favor each and every day--not because of who you are, but because of Whose you are! You are favored because you are a child of God and He wants you to be "favor-minded". To be favor-minded simply means that you are releasing your faith, knowing that God wants to bless you. The more favor-minded you are, the more of God's favor you're going to see! Begin to declare that you have the favor of God surrounding you, knowing God's favor will bring you to a place of peace, hope, and victory like you've never experienced before.



Father God, thank You for calling me Your child and pouring Your favor upon my every step. Help me to see Your hand of blessing, so that I may glorify You in all that I do. I receive Your favor in my life this day! Thank You for blessing me today, so that I may be a blessing to others.

Printable Issue 353  Today is Wednesday, August 18th, 2004; Karen's Korner #353

With the Olympic games, we are tuned to sporting events of all kinds. I received this email from a daily Chicken Soup for the Soul and thought in light of the Olympic competitions it was a good one:


Challenger Baseball
By Darrell J. Burnett, Ph.D.

In Little League baseball, there is a division known as the Challenger Division, for developmentally disabled youngsters. As a clinical psychologist, I had completed a postdoctoral psychology fellowship in developmental disabilities at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA. I was not aware of the Challenger division, however, until I gave a talk on positive coaching at our local Little League. A dad there asked if I would be willing to help out occasionally with the Challenger kids. I agreed.

I don't know what I expected, but when I got to the first game, it was an eye-opener. I saw a group of kids ranging in age from six to sixteen. Some had Down's syndrome, some had cerebral palsy, some had spina bifida, some had suffered oxygen deprivation at birth and some were autistic. But they all had one thing in common - they were having fun!

There is a "buddy" system in the Challenger Division, whereby each kid on the team has a helper who shadows him or her throughout the game - pushing a wheelchair, pointing out where to throw the ball or doing whatever else might be needed. Almost all of the buddies at this particular game were siblings or parents.

What I didn't see at the game were many spectators other than parents. Although the Challengers were considered part of the league, their games had been relegated to Sunday - all the other kids played on Saturday. When I saw the fun these kids were having - all the high-fives, the cheering for both sides, the atmosphere of fun and games - I couldn't help but compare it to a Little League game I had seen the day before with nine-year-olds. In that game, within a period of ten seconds, I saw a left fielder crying because he dropped a fly ball; a mother, neck veins bulging, yelling at the umpire; a coach screaming at his pitcher to "follow through" or he was going to replace him.

Suddenly it became clear to me how important it was to get Challenger games scheduled among the other Little League games - both for the exposure of the Challenger kids to the other kids, and for the lessons in sportsmanship and fun they could give the other kids and parents.

The following season I volunteered to serve as manager for the Challenger team, with the goal of integrating the Challenger Division into the rest of the organization.

First off, the kids got full uniforms, just like the rest of the league players. Next, we scheduled the Challenger games on Saturday, between the Little League games played by the eleven- and twelve-year-olds. Then we arranged the buddy system so that members of the eleven- and twelve-year-old teams could serve as buddies for our Challenger kids. The results were spectacular.

The full uniforms were a big hit. One of our players slept in his uniform the first night. Another kid, ten years old, proudly displayed his uniform and said, "Gee, Coach, now I feel like a real person!"

For the kids who were buddies, it was, in many cases, their first exposure to kids with developmental disabilities. After some initial hesitation, they took to it like ducks to water. One kid told me that when he came on to the field to be a buddy, he was "bummed out" because his team had just lost 9–4, and he had gone hitless. After being a "buddy," though, he said it put everything in the proper perspective. He wasn't alone. Kids who, in the past, may have made cruel remarks about kids who are "different" were now championing their cause, chattering about how hard these kids try and how much they enjoy playing. The Challenger kids, meanwhile, took great pride in pointing out their "buddy" to their parents and friends.

Scheduling the Challenger games amidst the other games also resulted in a significant increase in spectators. And of course, some of the Challenger kids loved playing to the crowd, bowing after sliding home, or flexing a muscle after getting a hit. Clearly, the effect of the Challenger kids on the crowd was fantastic. Everyone got into applauding, cheering, laughing and having fun. There wasn't an angry glance or a bulging neck vein to be seen. The only tears were ones of joy and laughter.

The season ended with a round-robin tournament of the six Challenger teams from neighboring leagues. Local TV and newspapers covered the event and nearly one hundred eleven- and twelve-year-old kids from our league volunteered to help as buddies for the different teams.

To see and feel the warmth of camaraderie and compassion on the baseball diamonds that day renewed everyone's faith in the goodness of the human spirit. Challenger sports created memories that whole season which will last a lifetime for those Challenger kids, those buddies, those parents, coaches and spectators.
Printable Issue 354  Today is Thursday, August 19th, 2004; Karen's Korner #354

(Home after a full day at the Iowa State Fair...)


This is something that Doris Chapman emailed me earlier this week:


A stranger came by the other day with an offer that set me to thinking. He wanted to buy the old barn that sits out by the highway. I told him right off he was crazy. He was a city type, you could tell by his clothes, his car, his hands, and the way he talked. He said he was driving by and saw that beautiful barn sitting out in the tall grass and wanted to know if it was for sale. I told him he had a funny idea of beauty.
Sure, it was a handsome building in its day. But then, there's been a lot of winters pass with their snow and ice and howling wind. The summer sun's beat down on that old barn till all the paint's gone, and the wood has turned silver gray. Now the old building leans a good deal, looking kind of tired. Yet, that fellow called it beautiful.
That set me to thinking. I walked out to the field and just stood there, gazing at that old barn. The stranger said he planned to use the lumber to line the walls of his den in a new country home he's building down the road. He said you couldn't get paint that beautiful. Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms and scorching sun, only that can produce beautiful barn wood.
It came to me then. We're a lot like that, you and I. Only it's on the inside that the beauty grows with us. Sure we turn silver gray too ... and lean a bit more than we did when we were young and full of sap. But the Good Lord knows what He's doing. And as the years pass He's busy using the hard wealth of our lives, the dry spells and the stormy seasons, to do a job of beautifying our souls that nothing else can produce. And to think how often folks holler because they want life easy!
They took the old barn down today and hauled it away to beautify a rich man's house. And I reckon someday you and I'll be hauled off to Heaven to take on whatever chores the Good Lord has for us on the Great Sky Ranch.
And I suspect we'll be more beautiful then for the seasons we've been through here ... and just maybe even add a bit of beauty to our Father's house.
May there be peace within you today. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. "I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

Printable Issue 355  Today is Friday, August 20th, 2004; Karen's Korner #355

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!" - Psalms 118:24



Bible Commentary:


"There are days when the last thing we want to do is rejoice. Our mood is down, our situation out of hand, our sorrow or guilt overwhelming. We can relate to the writers of the psalms who often felt this way. But no matter how low the psalmists got, they were always honest with God about how they felt. And as they talked to God, their prayers ended in praise. When you don't feel like rejoicing, tell God how you truly feel. You will find that God will give you a reason to rejoice."

Printable Issue 356  Today is Monday, August 23rd, 2004; Karen's Korner #356

A couple of verses from Psalms 127; one and two. A couple of good ones to begin a workweek.


The heading before  #127 says, "Life without God is senseless. All of life's work--building a home, establishing a career, and raising a family--must have God as the foundation."


Psalms 127:1 & 2:


"Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders' work is useless. Unless the Lord protects a city, sentries do no good. It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death, for God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest."


Bible Commentary:


"Families establish homes and sentries guard a city, but both of these activities are futile unless God is with them. A family without God can never experience the spiritual bond God brings to relationships. A city without God will crumble from evil and corruption on the inside. Don't make the mistake of leaving God out of your life--if you do it will lived in vain. Make God your highest priority and let Him do the building.


"God is not against human effort. Hard work honors God. But working to the exclusion of rest or neglecting family may be a cover-up for an inability to trust God to provide for our needs. We all need adequate rest and times of spiritual refreshment. On the other hand, these verses are not an excuse to be lazy. Be careful to maintain a balance--work hard while trusting God, and also rest while trusting Him."
Printable Issue 357  Today is Tuesday, August 24th, 2004; Karen's Korner #357

This is yesterday's "Chicken Soup for the Soul"; good one to rev up our daily engines:



The Best Day of My Life
By Gregory M. Lousig-Nont, Ph.D.

Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life, ever!

There were times when I wondered if I would make it to today; but I did! And because I did I'm going to celebrate!

Today, I'm going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger.

I will go through this day with my head held high and a happy heart. I will marvel at God's seemingly simple gifts: the morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds. Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.

Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people. I'll make someone smile. I'll go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don't even know. Today, I'll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down. I'll tell a child how special he is, and I'll tell someone I love just how deeply I care for her and how much she means to me.

Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don't have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me. I'll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and his Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.

And tonight, before I go to bed, I'll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures.

As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life, ever!
Printable Issue 358  Today is Wednesday, August 25th, 2004; Karen's Korner #358

Two short thoughts and a writing "Angels by Your Side", passed along from Diane Schroeder, given to her by Dorothy Reikens, who is a former resident of Clarion:



  ***   Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather
            by your friends.
                  -- Czech Proverb 

   ***     Friends are relatives you make for yourself.
                  -- Eustache Deschamps





Angels By Your Side

May you always have Angels by your side
Watching out for you in all things you do
Reminding you to keep believing in brighter days
Finding ways for your dreams to come true.

May you always have Angels by your side
Someone there to catch you when you fall
Encouraging your dreams, inspiring your happiness
Holding your hand and helping you through it all.

May you always have Angels by your side
May they give you the gifts that never end
And dreams and hopes to keep you warm
And someone to love and be a dear friend.

from Dorothy Riekens
Printable Issue 359  Today is Thursday, August 26th, 2004; Karen's Korner #359

If you enjoyed Tuesday's Karen's Korner titled "The Best Day of My Life", I think you will like this one! I might have seen it before in a "pass along" email:



The Crooked Smile
By James C. Brown, M.D.

As we rolled five-year-old Mary into the MRI room, I tried to imagine what she must be feeling. She had suffered a stroke that left half of her body paralyzed, had been hospitalized for treatment of a brain tumor, and had recently lost her father, her mother and her home. We all wondered how Mary would react.

She went into the MRI machine without the slightest protest, and we began the exam. At that time, each imaging sequence required the patient to remain perfectly still for about five minutes. This would have been difficult for anyone - and certainly for a five-year-old who had suffered so much. We were taking an image of her head, so any movement of her face, including talking, would result in image distortion.

About two minutes into the first sequence, we noticed on the video monitor that Mary's mouth was moving. We heard a muted voice over the intercom. We halted the exam and gently reminded Mary not to talk. She was smiling and promised not to talk.

We reset the machine and started over. Once again we saw her facial movement and heard her voice faintly. What she was saying wasn't clear. Everyone was becoming a little impatient, with a busy schedule that had been put on hold to perform an emergency MRI on Mary.

We went back in and slid Mary out of the machine. Once again, she looked at us with her crooked smile and wasn't upset in the least. The technologist, perhaps a bit gruffly, said, "Mary, you were talking again, and that causes blurry pictures."

Mary's smile remained as she replied, "I wasn't talking. I was singing. You said no talking." We looked at each other, feeling a little silly.

"What were you singing?" someone asked.

"'Jesus Loves Me,'" came the barely perceptible reply. "I always sing 'Jesus Loves Me' when I'm happy."

Everyone in the room was speechless. Happy? How could this little girl be happy? The technologist and I had to leave the room for a moment to regain our composure as tears began to fall.

Many times since that day, when feeling stressed, unhappy or dissatisfied with some part of my life, I have thought of Mary and felt both humbled and inspired. Her example made me see that happiness is a marvelous gift - free to anyone willing to accept it.
Printable Issue 360  Today is Friday, August 27th, 2004; Karen's Korner #360

I read this one Bible verse a couple of years ago for a Marys and Marthas (M & Ms) meeting.


For anyone who reads Karen's Korner and isn't aware of M & Ms, we are a loosely organized, ecumenical group of gals who meet once a month to care for, congratulate, offer words of comfort to others. Our motto says, "We are the hearts and hands of Jesus". And it works!  There are more than 100 names on our membership roles........people only do what they can to help, attend meetings when their schedules allow, some only want to know what it is we are doing, .....we take them all!


Psalm 133:1 sounded like us! 


"How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live in harmony!"



As our local churches return to or add more programs for the fall, this should be our prayer!! Because it works!!


Here is what the commentary on this verse said:


"David (writer of this Psalm) stated that harmony is pleasant, precious, and refreshing. Unfortunately, harmony does not abound in the church as it should. People disagree and cause division over unimportant issues. Some seem to delight in causing tension by discrediting others. Harmony is important because: (1) It makes us a positive example to the world and helps draw others to us; (2) It helps us function as a body of believers as God meant us to, giving us a foretaste of heaven; (3) It is renewing and revitalizing because there is less tension to sap our energy.


Living in harmony does not mean we will agree on everything; there will be many opinion just as there are many notes in a harmonious chord of music. But we agree on our purpose in life--to work together for God. Our outward expression of unity should reveal our inward unity of purpose.

Printable Issue 361  Today is Monday, August 30th, 2004; Karen's Korner #361

To kick off our new week, here is another one from Joel Osteen's "30 Thoughts for Victorious Living" booklet. If you like his thoughts, let me know and I will mail you a tape recording of him titled "Speaking the Blessing over Your Own Life":



"A blessing is not a blessing until it is declared! So today, declare a blessing over yourself and others. Speak that blessing in the name of Jesus!


Declare you are blessed with God's supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for your life. Declare today that you are blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance. You are blessed with a strong will, self-control, and self-discipline. You are blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favor, and fulfillment. You are blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection. You are blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life.


Declare that any curse or negative word that's ever been spoken over you is broken right now in the name of Jesus. Declare that everything you put your hand to is going to prosper and succeed! Declare it today and every day (Deuteronomy 28 1:14!)


Prayer for today:


"Precious Father, thank You for speaking blessings over my life in Your Word. Thank you for equipping me with everything, that I need to be successful. Teach me to consistently believe in and declare Your blessings over my life and the lives of those around me."

Printable Issue 362  Today is Tuesday, August 31st, 2004; Karen's Korner #362

A bit of church humor; a portion of a popular "pass around email" titled, "redneck churches":


You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... the finance committee refuses  to provide funds for the purchase of a chandelier because none of the members knows how to play one.

You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... opening day of deer season  is recognized as an official church holiday.


You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... in a congregation of 500 members, there are only seven last names in the church directory.


You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... people think "rapture" is  what you get when you lift something too heavy.


You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... the collection plates are really hub caps from a '56 Chevy.


You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... instead of a bell, you are called to service by a duck call.
You Know Your Church Is A Redneck Church if... the final words of the benediction are, "Ya'll come back now!! Ya Hear"