Karen's Korner - Daily Inspirational Stories by Karen Weld
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January 2005 Archives

Printable Issue 451  Today is Monday, January 3rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #451

Happy new year! I wonder how long I will remember to type (or write) 2005, not 2004!

This is something Dorothy Riekens emailed to me several days ago:

Recipe For A Happy New Year

Take twelve whole months
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.

Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty, or
Thirty-one different parts,
But don't make up the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these

Mix well into each day one part of faith,
One part of patience, one part of courage,
and one part of work.
Add to each day one part of hope,
Faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.

Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation,
And one good deed.
Season the whole with a dash of good spirits,
A sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play,
and a cupful of good humor.

Pour all of this into a vessel of love.
Cook thoroughly over radiant joy,
garnish with a smile,
And serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness.
You're bound to have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

~~ author unknown

The New Year lies before you
Like a spotless tract of snow
Be careful how you tread on it
For every mark will show

Printable Issue 452  Today is Tuesday, January 4th, 2005; Karen's Korner #452
Roger Hitchcock was the guest emcee last week on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. He read a letter he had received from a radio listener.
It was from a father who has a son serving in the military in Iraq. The son had written home with an incident there. I can't repeat it word-for-word, but this is what the son shared:
Some of the soldiers in his son's unit had requested for people back home to send them small toys, so that they had items to give the Iraqi children with whom they came in contact. The son told they liked little items that could fit into their pockets, so that when the opportunity presented itself to give away the trinkets, they had them close at hand. And the children loved the gift items and the Americans.
One day their military unit was on a convoy into Fallujah once again, when the line of equipment came to a halt and the radio messages were flying up and down the line up of vehicles. A small Iraqi girl was sitting in the middle of the road and the first vehicle didn't know what to do. She wouldn't move. Orders came down, "Go around her."
So one by one, the large military equipment made a jog in the road to go around the young girl. The son writing the letter said as his vehicle came passed the girl, he saw her clutching a teddy bear that he and his friends had given to her a few convoys earlier.
"Stop," this soldier said. And he got out of the vehicle and went up to her. Since they didn't speak the same language, the gestures began. This son learned by her pointing, there was land mine planted in the road next to her. She was sitting in the road to protect the American soldiers who had given her the stuffed animal and who had been so nice to her, her family, and her friends! She was protecting them.........like they had been protecting her!
I couldn't help but think of what Jesus tells us "to do unto others". We never know what or when they might "do unto us" back!
Printable Issue 453  Today is Wednesday, January 5th, 2005; Karen's Korner #453
I received this pass-along email from Bob and Sandy Stephenson awhile ago. Since I don't have any way of veifying whether Maya Anelou really said this on an Oprah show or not and since not everything passed around on the internet is a fact, I will just assume it is true and correct.
Don't Break The Elastic

Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday. Maya really is a
marvel who has led quite an interesting and exciting life. Oprah asked her
what she thought of growing older. And, there on television, she said it was

Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day...like
her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist,
first. The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and
honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words.

"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life
does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she
handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas
tree lights"

"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll
miss them when they're gone from your life."

"I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life."

"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."

 I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on
both hands; you need to be able to throw something back."

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,  I
usually make the right decision."

"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."

"I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People
love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what
you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Printable Issue 454  Today is Thursday, January 6th, 2005; Karen's Korner #454
I heard a speaker on Christian radio last week ask his listening audience these "opposites" questions. What would have your answers been?
The opposite of hot?
The opposite of rich?
Did you say POOR?
The opposite of happy?
The opposite of good?
The opposite of God?
Did you say SATAN? or DEVIL?
The speaker said if that was your reply, you just elevated the devil to a higher level than he is due. The opposite of Satan would be the angel Gabriel or Michael. The devil is simply a fallen angel; not a god.
Nothing is opposite of God, the speaker said.
Remember that the next time you think the devil, bad, or negative thoughts seem to be over powering your life or your thinking. God is bigger, stronger, more complete than the enemy of your life and thoughts.
Don't give the devil more power than he deserves!
Printable Issue 455  Today is Friday, January 7th, 2005; Karen's Korner #455
I received this "Chicken Soup for the Soul" email earlier this week.
It is so appropriate in light of hurricanes, tsunamis, and other disasters.
I really liked it. I hope that you do too:
True Generosity
By Elizabeth Cobb

     When a tornado touched down in a small town nearby, many families were left devastated.  Afterward, all the local newspapers carried many human interest stories featuring some of the families who suffered the hardest.  One Sunday, a particular picture especially touched me. A young woman stood in front of a totally demolished mobile home, an anguished expression twisting her features.  A young boy, seven or eight years old, stood at her side, eyes downcast.  Clutching at her skirt was a tiny girl who stared into the camera, eyes wide with confusion and fear.  The article that accompanied the picture gave the clothing sizes of each family member.  With growing interest, I noticed that their sizes closely matched ours.  This would be a good opportunity to teach my children to help those less fortunate than themselves.

     I taped the picture of the young family to our refrigerator, explaining their plight to my seven-year-old twins, Brad and Brett, and to three-year-old Meghan.  "We have so much, and these poor people now have nothing," I said.  "We'll share what we have with them."
     I brought three large boxes down from the attic and placed them on the living room floor.  Meghan watched solemnly as the boys and I filled one of the boxes with canned goods and other nonperishable foods, soap and other assorted toiletries.  While I sorted through our clothes, I encouraged the boys to go through their toys and donate some of their less favorite things.  Meghan watched quietly as the boys piled up discarded toys and games.  "I'll help you find something for the little girl when I'm done with this," I said.
     The boys placed the toys they had chosen to donate into one of the boxes while I filled the third box with clothes.  Meghan walked up with Lucy, her worn, faded, frazzled, much-loved rag doll hugged tightly to her chest.  She paused in front of the box that held the toys, pressed her round little face into Lucy's flat, painted-on face, gave her a final kiss, then laid her gently on top of the other toys.  "Oh, Honey," I said.  "You don't have to give Lucy.  You love her so much."
     Meghan nodded solemnly, eyes glistening with held-back tears.  "Lucy makes me happy, Mommy.  Maybe she'll make that other little girl happy, too."
     Swallowing hard, I stared at Meghan for a long moment, wondering how I could teach the boys the lesson she had just taught me.  For I suddenly realized that anyone can give their cast-offs away.  True generosity is giving that which you cherish most.  Honest benevolence is a three-year-old offering a treasured, albeit shabby doll to a little girl she doesn't know with the hope that it will bring this child as much pleasure as it brought her.
     I, who had wanted to teach, had been taught.
     The boys had watched, open-mouthed, as their baby sister placed her favorite doll in the box.  Without a word, Brad rose and went to his room.  He came back carrying one of his favorite action figures.  He hesitated briefly, clutching the toy, then looked over at Meghan and placed it in the box next to Lucy.  A slow smile spread across Brett's face, then he jumped up, eyes twinkling as he ran to retrieve some of his prized Matchbox cars.  Amazed, I realized that the boys had also recognized what little Meghan's gesture meant.  Swallowing back tears, I pulled all three of them into my arms.
     Taking the cue from my little one, I removed my old tan jacket with the frayed cuffs from the box of clothes.  I replaced it with the new hunter green jacket that I had found on sale last week.  I hoped the young woman in the picture would love it as much as I did.

Printable Issue 456  Today is Monday, January 10th, 2005; Karen's Korner #456
A friend gave me a wonderful little book for Christmas titled "Outrageous Love" by Sheila Walsh.
I'd like to share a brief portion of it with you. She tells about a familar story from the Bible:
Jesus is sitting in the temple courtyard. Suddenly a group of Scribes and Pharisees burst onto the scene dragging with them a woman caught in the sin of adultery.
They give Jesus two choices, but it was a trap. Would He uphold Jewish law? Would He uphold Roman law? Jewish law said she should be stoned, but Roman law said Jews were not allowed to carry out their own executions. The woman had become a pawn, a guilty one, but still a pawn.

"But Jesus bent over and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they continued to ask Jesus their question, He raised up and said, 'Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her." ~ John 8:6,7
One by one the group walked away. Next He squeezed the woman's hands and told her to go and sin no more!
Walsh writes, "There it is! There is the great gift that Christ brought all the way from the very courts of heaven to streets in Jerusalem, Capernaum or Chicago.
"I forgive you everything. Live differently!
"The outrageous message was not, 'I forgive so go and live any way you want.' Neither was it, 'Because of how you have lived there is no fogiveness.' The glorious message, God's great surprise, was that everything about us is known and can be forgiven through Christ's sacrifice ~ and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can live differently." 
Printable Issue 457  Today is Tuesday, January 11th, 2005; Karen's Korner #457
Yesterday I started thinking about today's Karen's Korner. Didn't have any bright ideas.I asked God to show me something that I might be able to share with others.
When I opened my today's emails a couple of minutes ago, this one was among them. So this is my gift to you today and God's gift to all of us:
Perfect Freedom
By Charles W. Colson

     As one who has served time in prison and has since spent most of my life working in them, I'll never forget the most unusual prison I've ever visited.
     Called Humaita Prison, it is in Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil.  Formerly a government prison, it is now operated by Prison Fellowship Brazil as an alternative prison, without armed guards or high-tech security.  Instead, it is run on the Christian principles of love of God and respect for men.
     Humaita has only two full-time staff; the rest of the work is done by the 730 inmates serving time for everything from murder and assault to robbery and drug-related crimes.  Every man is assigned another inmate to whom he is accountable.  In addition, each prisoner is assigned a volunteer mentor from the outside who works with him during his term and after his release.  Prisoners take classes on character development and are encouraged to participate in educational and religious programs.
     When I visited this prison, I found the inmates smiling - particularly the murderer who held the keys, opened the gates and let me in.  Wherever I walked, I saw men at peace.  I saw clean living areas.  I saw people working industriously.  The walls were decorated with motivational sayings and Scripture.
     Humaita has an astonishing record.  Its recidivism rate is 4 percent, compared to 75 percent in the rest of Brazil.  How is that possible?
     I saw the answer when my inmate guide escorted me to the notorious cell once used for solitary punishment.  Today, he told me, it always houses the same inmate.  As we reached the end of the long concrete corridor and he put the key into the lock, he paused and asked, "Are you sure you want to go in?"
     "Of course," I replied impatiently.  "I've been in isolation cells all over the world."  Slowly he swung open the massive door, and I saw the prisoner in that cell: a crucifix, beautifully carved - Jesus, hanging on the cross.
     "He's doing time for the rest of us," my guide said softly.

Printable Issue 458  Today is Wednesday, January 12th, 2005; Karen's Korner #458
A couple more comments from Sheila Walsh, who is one of the gals who speaks for 'Women of Faith' conferences, from her book titled "Outrageous Love":
Where does that grace come from?
It could only come from God.
Betrayed and broken,
Heart and soul,
Words unspoken
Take their toll
Bitter sadness
Silent tears
Wounds we carry
Through the years
Who can lift this dreaded burden?
Who can set my spirit free?
Lamb of God
Whose legs were broken
Come Lord Jesus,
Carry me
It's an Outrageous Love
that a perfect God would give Himself for us
It's an Outrageous Life
that devotes itself wholly back to God's love
Go ahead.......
be outrageous!

Printable Issue 459  Today is Thursday, January 13th, 2005; Karen's Korner #459
For six Sundays, our Sunday School class is studying the center third of "The Purpose Driven Life", the popular book by author Rick Warren.
It is a book with nearly every sentence oozing with facts to be remembered. This coming Sunday we are looking at Purpose #2 of 5 purposes:  "You were Formed for God's Family". In chapter 19 titled "Cultivating Community", the first sentence simply states, "Community requires commitment."
Warren sights five main points of culltivating "community".
One is humility. Warren says, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don't think of themselves."
Another is the act of "courtesy". According to Warren, "in every church and in every small group, there is always at least one 'difficult' person, usually more than one. These people may have special emotional needs, deep insecurities, irritating mannerisms, or poor social skills. You might call them EGR people--"Extra Grace Required". God put these people in our midst for both their benefit and ours. They are an opportunity for growth and a test of fellowship. Will we love them as brothers and sisters and treat them with dignity? In a family, acceptance isn't based on how smart or beautfiul or talented you are. It's based on the fact that we belong to each other. It is the same in our church family."
And the Bible verse from the chapter that we are to remember, "We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave His life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers." (I John 3:16)
Printable Issue 460  Today is Friday, January 14th, 2005; Karen's Korner #460
This particular Karen's Korner, I have been contacted by the author and asked to remove it from this site!
I am sorry for the inconvenience!!
Printable Issue 461  Today is Monday, January 17th, 2005; Karen's Korner #461
Today's "korner" has been forwarded to me by both the Jack Burts and Vaughn Saxtons. I have kept it for awhile waiting for the right day. Today is the right day!
Yesterday we went to church which is normal. What isn't normal is that one gal who sat next to us in one of the pews, died a few hours later. She wasn't that old nor ill. So the news is still seeping through our community, shocking those who hear it:
A few weeks ago a woman teacher was killed in an auto accident.
     She was very, very well liked, so the school systems shut down for her
     funeral  and it was on the news and so on.
     On the day the workers came back to work, they found this poem in their
     e-mail that the deceased woman had sent on Friday before she left for
If tomorrow starts without me,
     And I'm not there to see,
 If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me;
     I wish so much you wouldn't cry the way you did today,
     While thinking of the many things, we didn't get to say.
 I know how much you love me,
     As much as I love you,
     And each time that you think of me,
     I know you'll miss me too.
     But when tomorrow starts without me,
     Please try to understand,
     That an angel came and called my name,
     And took me by the hand,
     And said my place was ready,
     In heaven far above,
     And that I'd have to leave behind;
     All those I dearly love.
 But as I turned to walk away,
     A tear fell from my eye
     For all my life, I'd always thought,
     I didn't want to die.
     I had so much to live for, So much left yet to do,
     It seemed almost impossible,
     That I was leaving you.
 I thought of all the yesterdays,
     The good ones and the bad,
     I thought of all the love we shared,
     And all the fun we had.
    If I could relive yesterday,
     Just even for a while,
     I'd say good-bye and kiss you
     And maybe see you smile.
  But then I fully realized,
     That this could never be,
     For emptiness and memories,
     Would take the place of me.
    And when I thought of worldly things,
     I might miss come tomorrow,
     I thought of you, and when I did,
     My heart was filled with sorrow.
   But when I walked through heaven's gates,
     I felt so much at home.
     When God looked down and smiled at me,
      From His great golden throne,
     He said, "This is eternity, And all I've promised you."
     Today your life on earth is past,
     But here life starts anew.
     I promise no tomorrow, But today will always last,
     And since each day's the same way,
     There's no longing for the past.
   You have been so faithful, So trusting and so true.
     Though there were times you did some things,
     You knew you shouldn't do.
     But you have been forgiven, And now at last you're free.
     So won't you come and take my hand, And share my life with me?
So when tomorrow starts without me, Don't think we're far apart,
     For every time you think of me, I'm right here, in your
     "Happiness is a choice"
     May God watch over you and your family now and always.
     There is no right time to do the wrong thing.....there is no wrong time
     to do the right thing.

Printable Issue 462  Today is Tuesday, January 18th, 2005; Karen's Korner #462
On Saturday morning, our Marys and Marthas group held our monthly meeting. In our three short years of existence, the M & Ms have gotten a pretty good reputation for "doing good things" in our community. I shared the following Bible verses and comments from my Bible commentary with the gals.
If we are such wonderful "doers", why does God tell us that it is more important to be "believers"?  Doesn't He need us to "do"?
For me and my personality, I think it is harder for me to be a "believer" than a "doer".
God tells us to "believe" first and our "belief" will affect what we choose to "do":
Romans 3:27, 28 -- "Then what can we boast about doing, to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do."
Commentary -- "Most religions prescribe specific duties that must be performed to make a person acceptable to God. Christianity is unique in teaching that the good things we do will not put us right with God. No amount of human achievement or progress in personal development will close the gap between God's moral perfection and our imperfect daily performance. Good deeds are fine, but they will not earn us eternal life. We are saved only by trusting in what God has done for us.
Why does God save us by faith alone? 1) Faith eliminates human pride; 2) Faith exalts God, not people; 3) Faith makes salvation available to all; 4) Faith admits that we can't keep the law or measure up to God's standards--we need help; 5) Faith is based on a relations with God, not on performance for God.
Printable Issue 463  Today is Wednesday, January 19th, 2005; Karen's Korner #463
Yesterday I put four cards into our rural mailbox. Two were get well wishes. One was a thank you. Another was a thinking of you card.
As I pulled away from the mailbox, I thought, "Some people are going to enjoy these greetings when they get them!"
Then I thought, "God does that for us everday!"
He has all kinds of "good news" messages fo each of us. Some of them can come from a friend or from a positive thought. His message can come to us from His words in the Bible and they can come to us through our private prayers or a prayer time with a friend or two.
Today is the day I want to "read His mail" and "listen to his voice". He has messages for each of us.....everyday!
And some humor from Kevin Rayner:
Minister: Do you know what's in the Bible?

Little Girl: Yes. I think I know everything that's in it.

Minister: You do? Tell me.

Little Girl: OK. There's a picture of my brother's girlfriend, a
ticket from the dry cleaners, one of my curls, and a Pizza Hut coupon.
Printable Issue 464  Today is Thursday, January 20th, 2005; Karen's Korner #464
This is something forwarded to my by my longtime friend Sharon Frank titled "Stress Management":
    A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

    The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

    He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of  water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

    "So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. Relax; pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it!"

    Must be why Jesus told us to "cast all of our cares on to Him". He must have been the first "stress manager". He must have known we would get pretty tired carrying all of our glasses of water in life!
    So today even if it is for a few minutes, tell Jesus in a short mental prayer that you want Him to take care of your worry or your problem.....even if you set down your glass of water for a few minutes......it will help you to rest!
    Have a good day!!

Printable Issue 465  Today is Friday, January 21st, 2005; Karen's Korner #465
This is a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which I received a few weeks ago. Nothing in more attractive than the faith of little children:
Forever Rocky
By S. C. Edwards

     One gray morning I took the day off from work, knowing that today was the day it had to be done.  Our dog, Rocky, had to be put to sleep.  Sickness had ravaged his once-strong body, and despite every effort to heal our beloved boxer, his illness was intensifying.
     I remember calling him into the car...how he loved car rides!  But he seemed to sense that this time was going to be different.  I drove around for hours, looking for any errand or excuse not to go to the vet's office, but I could no longer put off the inevitable.  As I wrote the check to the vet for Rocky to be "put down," my eyes welled with tears and stained the check so it was almost unreadable.
     We had gotten Rocky four years earlier, just before my first son, Robert, was born.  We all loved him dearly, especially little Robert.
     My heart ached as I drove home.  I already missed Rocky.  Robert greeted me as I got out of the car.  When he asked me where our dog was, I explained that Rocky was in heaven now.  I told him Rocky had been so sick, but now he would be happy and be able to run and play all the time.  My little four-year-old paused, then looking at me with his clear blue eyes and an innocent smile on his face, he pointed to the sky and said, "He's up there, right, Dad?"  I managed to nod yes, and walked into the house.  My wife took one look at my face and started weeping softly herself.  Then she asked me where Robert was, and I went back out to the yard to find him.
     In the yard, Robert was running back and forth, tossing a large stick into the air, waiting for it to return to the ground and then picking it up and throwing it higher and higher each time.  When I asked what he was doing, he simply turned and smiled.
     "I'm playing with Rocky, Dad..."

Printable Issue 466  Today is Monday, January 24th, 2005; Karen's Korner #466
Our Sunday School class is studying a portion of Rick Warren's best-selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life". According to Warren, everyone of us has five main purposes for each of our lives:
#1 - You Were Planned for God's Pleasure
#2 - You Were Formed for God's Family
#3 - You Were Created to Become Like Christ
#4 - You Were Shaped for Serving God
#5 - You were Made for Mission
And under each purpose, there are several days of study explaining what Warren means by each main heading. Kinda makes you excited to think about how God sees you, doesn't it??
Printable Issue 467  Today is Tuesday, January 25th, 2005; Karen's Korner #467
   A couple of weeks several of my elementary school girlfriends and I got to together for lunch at a local tea room, complete with chatter of many-years-ago memories and updates of our lives since those days.
    Donna had gone on to become a physical education teacher with varsity volleyball coaching duties. She taught and coached for many years in Minnesota, taking several teams to the state volleyball tourney with some players selected for state and national recognitions. Even better, some girls earned scholarships to colleges for their continued volleyball play.
    After teaching for a number of years at one school, one of Donna's former principals asked her to apply for a job at a neighboring school. At first, Donna declined the offer. "I had a great sophomore volleyball player with all the makings of state tournament teams in the upcoming few years," she said.
    But the prinicipal persisted and Donna reconsidered and went for the interview. She decided to make the switch and move to the new school, a school which hadn't won a volleyball game in a number of years.
    The new position was more difficult than Donna had anticipated. "Eveybody was killing us on the volleyball court," she said. "Of course, the school where I had taught previously was one of the schools which beat us resoundly."
    So where does a daughter go to whine? Home, of course, where mom and dad lend a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. "I was really putting in a tough year," she said. "Mom and dad were good listeners and never said anything one way or the other."
    But it was Donna's 66-year-old dad who brought her to her senses, when he simply said, "I've got the best job I've ever had."  Donna said that her dad was working daily as a janitor, getting up every day at 4 in the morning to go to work. And he was enjoying it!
    "I knew right then it was time to zip my lip," she said. And the lack of grumbling thoughts and mumbling words changed Donna's mind, too.
    She went back to school and coaching to 'enjoy' what she was doing.
    Two years later she took her new team and new school to the state volleyball tournament!

Printable Issue 468  Today is Wednesday, January 26th, 2005; Karen's Korner #468
This is yesterday's Chicken Soup for the Soul. Hope you like it as much as I did:
Message Received
By Michele Wallace Campanelli

     I knew the answer before he even asked.
     My boyfriend of two years dropped down on one knee, pulled out a velvet, heart-shaped box, and asked, "Will you marry me?"
     Louis looked so adorable.  Such a large, strong man suddenly turned so vulnerable.  I couldn't have found a better mate, so gorgeous, caring and easygoing.  He had become my best friend, and I knew in my heart that I loved him.
     "Yes," I answered.
     A wave of relief washed over his face, then a huge, boyish smile that preceded a passionate kiss.  "Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world!"
     That week, we set the date for August 8 of the following year, and I started to pick out cards for our engagement announcement - and the memories immediately flooded back.
     This wasn't the first time I had planned a wedding.  Five years ago, Jono, my first fiancĂ©, had died unexpectedly only six months prior to our wedding date.  Pain paralyzed my heart as unfinished grief and longing reared up.  I realized that planning another wedding brought all my feelings to the surface.  I wondered if I'd ever heal from that loss.
     I thought I had gotten over losing him.  Because I was so young - only twenty-three years old - when Jono died, family and friends expected I would move on and date others, which I had...but marriage?  As the months passed, I began to ponder whether Jono, the angel, felt anger toward me for wanting to marry someone else.  After all, I had once promised to be his one and only.
     The next morning, I found myself praying.  Dear God, tell Jono that I know I said I would be his wife.  But since you needed him, I've fallen in love with a beautiful man who treats me wonderfully.  I'm very happy, yet afraid that Jono might be mad that I am going to have to break my word.  Please have him forgive me.  Tell him I'm sorry, and that I hope he will send me a sign so I know he approves.
     Just then, a knock on the door startled me.  I jumped, almost expecting Jono to be there.
     Louis came in.  "Are you ready?"
     "For?" I wondered.
     "We've got premarital counseling today.  Remember the pastor changed it to this morning."
     "Oh, that's right!"  Quickly I got ready, and we decided to take my car since it was faster than his.
     "Are you okay?" Louis asked as he started the engine.
     "Uh-huh," I nodded halfheartedly.
     "You still want to marry me, don't you?"
     I turned to him knowing I couldn't let this man out of my life.  If only Louis knew how much I really did love him.  In that moment, I knew without a doubt that I was willing and ready to break a solemn vow I'd once made to someone else, to move forward and marry Louis.
     "Yes," I replied.
     Louis stopped the car in the church's parking lot, stepped out and came around to my side to let me out.  "Did you see my wallet anywhere?"  He suddenly began patting his pockets.
     "Maybe it's underneath the seat."
     Louis went back to the driver's side as I walked around the car to help him search.
     He found his wallet under the seat, but something else caught his eye.  He reached farther back and pulled out a shiny gold object.  "What's this?"
     My hands flew to my face.  I had lost that "Xs and Os" gold bracelet six years ago.  It was my birthday present from Jono, given to me the last day he told me how much he loved me.  I had searched my car many times looking for this special bracelet and had given up hope of ever finding it.
     "Wow, this is beautiful," Louis said, impressed.
     With some hesitation, I explained who had given me the bracelet so many years before.
     For a moment, Louis just stared at the piece shimmering in the sun.  Then he took my hand and tenderly fastened Jono's bracelet on my wrist.
     "You don't mind my wearing it?" I asked.
     "No," he replied.  "Now you can think of it as a present from both of us."
     Years ago, I had searched this car for days trying to find that bracelet with its message of "hugs and kisses" from my first love.  As I watched it shine on my wrist, I knew my prayer to hear from Jono had been answered.  I soaked in this divine moment and the symbolism attached to it now that the bracelet, Jono, Louis and I were all brought together at our church.
     Louis took my hand and we began to walk into the church.  Next to the brass door handle was a plaque that had the complete Bible scripture "Love bears all things" engraved.  Louis opened the door for me, and I took one last look at the plaque.  As we walked through the archway, my eyes focused on the next words, "Love is not jealous."

Printable Issue 469  Today is Thursday, January 27th, 2005; Karen's Korner #469
Tomorrow it will by 5 1/2 years since Merry was killed. This is something that I received awhile ago that I thought was especially good. And now is a good time to share it with you.
It seemed like for the first while after she had died that I wanted to talk about her a lot. I didn't want people to forget about Merry; maybe it was me who wanted to remember.
If you know of someone who has lost a loved one....don't be afraid about doing or saying something wrong. Chances are pretty good that you might. The reason:  one hurting person might not be able to talk about their loved; another might want to talk about him/her all the time.  A hint:  take the risk of just 'being there':
Being There
By Debi L. Pettigrew

Do you know of someone
Whose precious child has died?
Perhaps she is a neighbor or friend
With whom you can confide.
You assume that she is suffering
A tragedy so deep,
That there is nothing you can do
Since all she does is weep.
You feel that if you see her
There is nothing you can say
That would make her precious child come back
Or make the pain go away.
And if by chance you meet her
And have to face her grief,
You'll do your very best
To make this meeting brief.
You'll talk about the weather
Or the lady down the lane,
But you'll never mention her child -
That would cause her too much pain!
And when the funeral's over,
And all is said and done,
You'll go home to your family,
And she'll be all alone.
She'll go on, she'll be all right, time heals -
Or so it seems,
While she's left alone to pick up the pieces
Of her shattered life and dreams.


You can open up your heart
And find that special place
Where compassion and true giving
Are awaiting your embrace.
"Today I'm thinking of you in a very special way,"
Or, how about "I love you!"
Are some loving things to say.
Sometimes a very simple task
Like picking up the phone,
Can help her feel not-so-quite
Desperately alone.
Whatever comes from a genuine heart
Cannot be said in vain
For the truth is, it's these very things
That lessen her great pain.
And when you let her talk about
Her child who is now dead,
You'll know this is far greater
Than anything you've said.
So will you reach out with all your soul
And let her know you care?
For in the end there's no substitute
For simply BEING THERE!

Printable Issue 470  Today is Friday, January 28th, 2005; Karen's Korner #470
It's our 5 1/2 year anniversary since Merry died. On these anniversaries, I like to share one of the nine emails which I had saved that Merry had forwarded to us just prior to her accident.
Don't know if I have shared it before in a Karen's Korner; might have. After all, I only have nine. Thanks for allowing me to remember:
1.  In kindergarten your idea of a good friend was the person who
let you have the red crayon when all that was left was the ugly black one.

2.  In first grade your idea of a good friend was the person who
went to the bathroom with you and held your hand as you
walked through the scary halls.

3.  In second grade your idea of a good friend was the person
who helped you stand up to the class bully.
4.  In third grade your idea of a good friend was the person who
shared their lunch with you when you forgot yours on the bus.
5.  In fourth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was
willing to switch square dancing partners in gym so you wouldn't have
to be stuck do-si-do-ing with Nasty Nicky or Smelly Susan.
6.  In fifth grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved
a seat on the back of the bus for you.
7.  In sixth grade your idea of a friend was the person who went
up to Nick or Susan, your new crush, and asked them to dance with you,
so that if they said no you wouldn't have to be embarrassed.
8.  In seventh grade your idea of a friend was the person who
let you copy the social studies homework from the night before that you had.
9.  In eighth grade your idea of a good friend was the person
who helped you pack up your stuffed animals and old baseball cards
so that your room would be a "high schooler's" room,
but didn't laugh at you when you finished and broke out into tears.
10.  In ninth grade your idea of a good friend was the person
who went to that "cool" party thrown by a senior so you
wouldn't wind up being the only freshman there.
11.  In tenth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who
changed their schedule so you would have someone to sit with at lunch.
12.  In eleventh grade your idea of a good friend was the person
who gave you rides in their new car, convinced your parents
that you shouldn't be grounded, consoled you when you
broke up with Nick or Susan, and found you a date to the prom.
13.  In twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person
who helped you pick out a college, assured you that you
would get into that college, helped you deal with your parents
who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go...
14.  At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person
who was crying on the inside but managed the biggest smile
one could give as they congratulated you.
15.  The summer after twelfth grade your idea of a good friend
was the person who helped you clean up the bottles from that
party, helped you sneak out of the house when you just
couldn't deal with your parents, assured you that now that
you and Nick or you and Susan were back together, you
could make it through anything, helped you pack up for
college and just silently hugged you as you looked through
blurry eyes  at 18 years of memories you were leaving behind,
and finally on those  last days of childhood, went out of their
way to give you reassurance that you would make it in college
as well as you had these past 18 years, and most importantly
sent you off to college knowing you were loved.
16.  Now, your idea of a good friend is still the person who gives
you the better of the two choices, holds your hand when you're
scared, helps you fight off those who try to take advantage of
you, thinks of you at times when you are not there, reminds
you of what you have forgotten, helps you put the past
behind you but understands when you need to hold  on to it a
little longer, stays with you so that you have confidence, goes
out of their way to make time for you, helps you clear up your
mistakes, helps you deal with pressure from others, smiles for
you when  they are sad, helps you become a better person,
and most  importantly loves you!

Thank you for being a friend.  No matter where we go or who we
become, never forget who helped us get there.
There's never a wrong time to pick up a phone or send a
message telling your friends how much you miss them or how
much you love them.

Printable Issue 471  Today is Monday, January 31st, 2005; Karen's Korner #471
A couple of short Bible verses to start our week; all from Psalms 92:
Psalms 92: 1,2:
It is good to say, "Thank you" to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every evening rejoice in His faithfulness.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, we focus on blessings and express our gratitude to God for them. But thanks should be on our lips daily. We can never say thank yo enough to parents, friends, leaders, and especially to God. When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of your life, you will find that your attitude toward life will change. You will become more positive, gracious, loving, and humble.
Psalms 92:12, 13:
....the godly will flourish like palm trees, and grow tall as the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord's own garden, and are under His personal care.
Palm trees are known for their long life. To flouish like palm trees means to stand tall and live long. The cedars of Lebanon grew to 120 feet in height and up to 30 feet in circumference, thus, they were solid, strong, and unmoveable. The psalm writer saw believers as upright, strong, and unmoved by the winds of circumstance.
Psalm 92: 14, 15:
Even in old age they will still produce fruit and be vital and green. This honors the Lord, and exhibits His faithful care. He  is my shelter. There is nothing but goodness in Him!
Honoring God is not limited to young people who are still blessed with physical strength and vitality. Even in old age, devoted believers can produce spiritual fruit. There are many faithful believers who have much to share and teach from a lifetime of living with God. Seek out an elderly friend or relative to tell you about life experiences with the Lord and challenge you to new heights of spiritual living.