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

Printable Issue 601  Today is Monday, August 1st, 2005; Karen's Korner #601
A couple of "church humor" jokes and a short thought to start the dayand new week!
A 6-year-old was overheard reciting the Lord's Prayer at a church

"And forgive us our trash passes, as we forgive those who passed trash
against us."
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.

"Preacher," said the young man, "I'm 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
"I don't want your sacrifices--I want your love;
I don't want your offerings--I want you to know me." 
 -- quote from God, talking to Israel (and to us) -- Hosea 6:6
Printable Issue 602  Today is Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #602
When we traveled to Australia and New Zealand last February, we asked our neighbor to water our houseplants. Since they are stashed in lots of places around our house, it would have been a lot of work for Sue to care for them easily. I grouped them all together in and around our dining room table.
Imagine my surprise, when we returned home after five weeks to find one philodendron in our television room, hanging on to life by a thread. It wasn't Sue's fault. I had told her where they would all be! I thought about just throwing the plant away. It was too late for it be restored to anything that looked decent. Well, maybe I would give it a drink or two and see what happens!
It's surprising what a cup of water will do for something that is thirsty! The hardy plant began to show signs of renewal and rebirth. I pulled off the yellow leaves. Chopped off the vines which were beyond repair. If it didn't survive, I could toss it out later!
Unbelievably, the green viny plant looks better today than before our trip last winter. I look at it and still can't believe it!!
I wonder if that can happen to us spiritually? Has it been awhile since we darkened the church doors or cracked open the Bible to see what is inside to water our sagging spirits? If there was a study group or class at the church, would we debate about going because we might be the dumbest in the group? What about a prayer group? Do we not go because the others seem to know how to pray and we don't?
Maybe, just maybe, there could be some water for a thirsty soul in one of those places. And maybe, just maybe, our droopy lives can be watered and experience regrowth after a lengthy period of time in the desert.
Printable Issue 603  Today is Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #603
Several weeks ago, Jim Bossard who is a Clarion grad a few years back subscribed me to a daily devotional written by Jeff White. Jeff is a minister in Illinois. I like what he writes and am sharing one of his devotionals today:
"God can do all things." -- Mark 10:27
  Faith, of course I have faith.  And then my very questions show my lack of faith and understanding.  
You've heard the questions:  How can God be everywhere at one time? (Who says God is bound by a body?)  How can God hear all the prayers which come to him? (Perhaps his ears are different from yours.) How can God be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? (Could it be that heaven has a different set of physics than earth?)
If people down here won’t forgive me, how much more am I guilty before a holy God? (Oh, just the opposite. God is always able to give grace when we humans can’t—he invented it.)
Printable Issue 604  Today is Thursday, August 4th, 2005; Karen's Korner #604
"Oh, that you would bless me
and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me,
and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain."
I Chronicles 4:10
This short verse in the Bible was prayed by Jabez and recorded in the first book of Chronicles. Most people recognize the verse and the name Jabez, made known to many of us in a small best-selling book by the same name, written a few years ago by Bruce Wilkinson.
In the book, "The Prayer of Jabez" readers were taught to pray each of the four sub-sentences as their own....asking for God's blessings, that their territory might be enlarnged, that God's hand would be on them, and that what we would do would not cause pain to themselves and to others.
Wright County native Sue Freund took the instructions seriously and within a week or two, God is having Sue step outside of her comfortable box and fly with 300 other Americans to help with a gardening project started by Wilkinson in Africa. She and her new friends will be planting cabbage and spinach with and for the natives, helping them to avoid starvation, teach them a new skill, and provide the plants to begin a new sustaining way of life. The short-term mission trip will be just under two weeks in length.
While we can pray God's blessings on Sue and her fellow travelers as they go, Sue has asked something from us:
"We are to bring any prayer requests along with us," she said, "after all there are 300 of us and we will be flying for 19 hours!"
Anyone who has prayer requests, return an email to me and I will see that they are passed along to Sue. Nothing is too tough for God! Give Him (and her) your worries, your concerns, your difficult problems, your joys. The typed requests can be with lots of information ("My son, Ted Hanson, who is stationed in Iraq from Martha Hanson) or they can be more anonymous (the future of my son and his family from a worried mom).
You have a week, then I will 'cut and paste' all of the messages together and forward them to Sue, to be read and shared with her African-bound friends, the middle of August.
Printable Issue 605  Today is Friday, August 5th, 2005; Karen's Korner #605
Earlier this week I wrote about my experience with a philodendron; and today's is a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" about a grandma, mom, and granddaughters and buying the same kind of plant:
The Mother's Day Gift
By Joan Sutula

     It was a beautiful spring day in early May when I picked up my two little daughters from my mother's house.  I was a single working mother and Mom was kind enough to baby-sit for me.  Putting a roof over my children's heads and food on the table were major expenses and ones I worked very hard to cover.  The bare essentials were the focus of my paycheck.
     Clothes, gas money, and an occasional repair of our car left little for discretionary spending.  Thankfully, I had a wonderful mother who was always there for us.
     As we were driving home Debbie, my six-year-old kindergartner, asked if we could go shopping for a Mother's Day present for Grandma.  I was tired and had many things to do at home, so I told her I'd think about it, and maybe in the morning we would.  Both Debbie and her four-year-old sister Cindy decided that was a definite plan and they were very excited about it.
     After putting the girls to bed that night, I sat down and went over my budget.  Putting money aside for the rent, gas for the car, and new shoes Cindy needed, I had fifteen dollars for food till the next payday in two weeks.  Grandma's present would have to come out of the food money.
     The girls were up bright and early the next morning and willingly helped me clean and dust - the usual Saturday chores.  The talk centered on what gift we should get for Gram.  I tried to explain that we didn't have much money to spend so we would have to shop carefully, but Cindy was so excited she had a list a mile long.
     After lunch we drove to town.  I had decided that the only place we might find something I could afford was at the "Five and Dime."  Of course, this being Debbie and Cindy's favorite store, I immediately made a hit with them.  We walked through the store, carefully going up each aisle looking at anything that might be appropriate.  Cindy thought Grandma might like a pair of shoes too, (we'd found her a pair of blue tennies for $1.99) but Debbie saw a white straw handbag she said would be, "Just perfect for Grandma to take to church!"  Again I explained that we only had a few dollars to spend so we would have to look further.
     After going past most of the counters, we came to the back of the store and were ready to turn down the last aisle when Debbie stopped and pulled me over to a display of small potted plants.  "Mom," she said, tugging on my arm.  "Look, we could get Grandma a plant!" Cindy started to jump up and down with excitement.  "Can we?" she asked.  "Grandma loves flowers!"  They were right.  Mom had a beautiful flower garden and had vases of cut flowers in the house all summer.  There was a large selection of plants in 2" pots for 50¢.  We could even pick out a pretty, little pot and some potting soil and plant it for her.  That decision made, we now had to select just the right one.  They finally settled on one with shiny green leaves with white variegations - a philodendron.
     That was a special Mother's Day.  Both the girls helped re-pot the little plant and eagerly told their grandmother all about it.  Grandma was pleased and placed it on her kitchen windowsill over her sink, "Where I can watch it grow while I do the dishes!" she told them.
     The little plant thrived under Mom's caring hands and my sister and I got many a cutting from it over the years.  Time sped by and the girls grew up to be lovely young women, married, and had babies of their own.
     One day when Debbie and Cindy stopped by to visit, Deb spotted my philodendron that was hanging and twining all around my kitchen window.  "Mom, is that plant new?" she asked.  Both girls wanted to know what kind of plant it was and where I bought it.  I explained that you just had to break off a short stem from one and place it in a glass of water and let it root.  Grandma always had several glasses with philodendron rooting in them, sitting on her kitchen windowsill.  Didn't they remember that they had given Grandma that philodendron for Mother's Day all those years ago?
     "You're kidding," they both said in wide-eyed wonder.  "You mean this is all from that same little plant?"  I assured them it was and suggested they go ask Grandma for some cuttings and start their own plants.
     Later that day, Cindy called to let me know she and Debbie had gone to visit Grandma and both of them now had several pots with philodendron planted in them.  "Grandma had loads of them, most of them with real long roots," she said.  "And Mom, did you know that she still has the original plant Debbie and I gave her for that Mother's Day when we were little?"
     It was just a little Mother's Day gift - very inexpensive gift at that, but now forty years later, we see the beauty of it.  A philodendron is like a human family.  You break off a little stem from the mother plant and re-root it somewhere else.  And it grows and spreads in its own unique pattern which still somehow resembles the plant from which it came.  As our family goes its different ways, the philodendron we all have has become a symbol for us of how connected we all are.  Through its silent daily reminders, the philodendron has brought us closer together as a family.
     Mom is now living here in my home and yes, she still possesses a descendent of that one little plant bought from the "Five and Dime" by two children for a long ago Mother's Day gift.

Printable Issue 606  Today is Monday, August 8th, 2005; Karen's Korner #606
This is taken from a daily flip calendar which I keep in our kitchen titled "God's Daily Inspirations.......Caring Thoughts to Make the Most of Each Day".  This is today's:
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everyting; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers."
-- Philippians 4:6
Lord, I'm always asking for things that I think will make me happy and that are for my good. Thank you for not always giving me what I want, but rather what I need.
Printable Issue 607  Today is Tuesday, August 9th, 2005; Karen's Korner #607
Since I send out a daily inspirational email, I attract others who send me things that they write and email on a daily or periodic basis. Within the last few weeks, I have been getting items from Shirley Choat.
Today's was talking about Jesus walking on water. This is her prayer at the end of the writing:
PRAY - Dear Jesus, help me to listen to Your word and believe it. Amen
I don't think I do too bad in the "listening" part. It is in the believing part, I would like to do better!
Just think if all of us who call ourselves "Christians", actually believed all of the things we are promised in the Bible!
We would know how much God loves and cares for us! We would love ourselves as much as God loves us; and then we would return the favor by loving all the people God puts in our paths. We would believe He has only good things in store for each one of His Children! We would believe in His power, not ours! Like Peter, we would be able to 'walk on water'; if not physically...emotionally, physically, spiritually! And the list goes on and on....
Yes, I think my prayer needs to be like Shirley's: "help me, Jesus, to listen to Your word and then to believe what it is You tell me........"
Printable Issue 608  Today is Wednesday, August 10th, 2005; Karen's Korner #608
Good news! Yesterday our grandson, Luke Champion became a big brother - that's what the shirt he wore to the hospital said!
For the past few weeks, Luke's dad Tim let people know what their new daughter's name could be via their web site, so I will let share what he typed there:
Our front-runner right now is Molly. The middle name will be Joy. Jamie's sister's name was Merry, and we're using a synonym of Merry (as in happy) - Joy. Besides, in our wedding vows, they started with "Tim(or Jamie), you bring me great Joy!" So, we're bringing Joy into the world.
So Molly Joy arrived just before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 9! Some people wonder what JOY looks like. Well, I saw Molly Joy yesterday and she is about 6# 4 oz. and is 18 inches long.
It isn't uncommon to name people names found in the Bible! And JOY is find all over the place. So today - the word JOY is the key:
"For the JOY of the Lord is your strength..!"
- Nehemiah 8:10
"....JOY comes in the morning."
- Psalms 30:5
"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us:
love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness......"               
    - Galatians 5:22
"Always be full of JOY in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!" 
- Philippians 4:4
Printable Issue 609  Today is Thursday, August 11th, 2005; Karen's Korner #609
This is a "pass along" email that I received this week from Mari Bernhardt.
It is telling about Rick Warren, author of the popular "The Purpose Driven Life" book.
Sometimes pass arounds are bogus; others are right on! 
I have no idea which one this might be. It sounds a lot like Warren:
In an interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, author of "The
Purpose Driven Life", Rick Warren said:  People ask me, "What is the purpose
of life?  And I respond, In a nutshell, life is the preparation for eternity.
We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body --
but NOT the end of me.  I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am
going to spend trillions of years in eternity.  This is the warm-up act, the
dress rehearsal.

God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life
isn't going to make sense.  Life is a series of problems:  Either you are in
one now, you're just coming out of one or you're getting ready to go into
another one.  The reason for this is that God is more interested in
your character than your comfort.  God is more interested in making your
life holy than He is in making your life happy.  We can be reasonably happy
here on earth, but that's not the goal of life.  The goal is to grow in
character, in Christ-Likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest,
with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.  I used to think that life was hills and
valleys you go through a dark time -- then you go to the mountaintop,
back and forth.  I don't believe that anymore.  Rather than life being hills
and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track,
and that all times you have something good and something bad in your
life. No matter how good things are in you life, there is always something
bad that needs to be worked on.  And no matter how bad things are in your
life, there is always something good you can thank God for. 
You can focus on your purpose or -- you can focus on your problems. 
If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,
which is "my problems, my issues, my pain".  But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is
to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.  We discovered quickly
that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God
was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.  It has been very difficult
for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry
of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and
to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually,
sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder.  For instance, this past year,
all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. 
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. 
I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for you to own ego or for you to live a
life of ease.  So I began to ask God what he wanted me to do with this money,
noteoriety and influence.  He gave me two different passages that helped me
decide what to do, Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. 
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. 
We made no major purchases.  Second, about midway through last year, I stopped
taking a salary from the church.  Third, we set up foundations to fund an
initiative we call "The Peace Plan" to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor,
care for the sick and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the
church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church and gave it all back. 
It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves:  Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?
Am I going to be driven by pressure?  Guilt?  Bitterness? Materialism?
Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?  When I get up in the morning,
I sit on the side of my bed and say "God, if I don't get anything else done today,
I want to know You more and love You better."
God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. 
He's more interested in what I am than what I do. 
That's why we're called human beings -- NOT human doings.
Printable Issue 610  Today is Friday, August 12th, 2005; Karen's Korner #610

A late Karen's Korner today, as I am in Des Moines being a grandma to Luke and then to Molly when she got home mid-afternoon today; and I didn't have computer access until now.

Thinking of grandparents, a couple of more "words of wisdom" from "Light for My Path for Grandparents":


As we look back on our lives, we can see that down through the years, God has never forsaken us. Those around us who are younger, our children and our grandchildren, should be able to gain strength from our confidence in God's faithfulness.


All of us are afraid sometimes. Perhaps more than anything else, it's the future that frightens us, the unknown. When we were younger, many of us assumed that nothing bad would ever happen us, but now we know that sooner or later troubles come to everyone It's common to feel scared---but the most frequently repeated command in the Bible is this:  Be not afraid!


A covenant is like a legal contract, a binding agreement thagt cannot be broken. As Christians, we can rest in the knowledge that God has made a covenant with us that endures through our entire lives. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us---and He never will. What's more, His promise holds true for our children and their children, down through the generations.


We have such high hopes for our children and our grandchildren, and even for ourselves. Sometimes, though, life doesn't turn out the way  we had hoped. When disappointements come, how good it is to know that we can cast our burdens on the Lord---and He will sustain us. (Psalm 55:22)

Printable Issue 611  Today is Monday, August 15th, 2005; Karen's Korner #611
The other day we started hearing that the president is on vacation for five weeks at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. While he is 'relaxing', he gets morning briefings daily, meets with advisors, hosts heads of state, and will travel to other cities and states seven times. Doesn't sound like much of a vacation to me! Sometimes it is fun to "get away from everything".
The journalist said that while a president is in office he (or she?) is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And that goes on for four or eight years.
It got me started thinking about people who give their lives for me, so that I can live in reasonable comfort. I thought about the president of the United States whether he be a Republican or a Democrat. I thought about people who are, and have, served in the military putting their life on the line so that I, my family, friends, and millions of others can enjoy freedom and independence.
I thought about my mom and dad and for the sacrifices that they had to make financially, socially, emotionally, so that I can have some things today that maybe they could only dream about. Mom had five of us over a 17-year time span. She never worked outside of our farm family; never belonged to any clubs or organizations. Work with, and for, our family was basically her chosen profession!
And the list goes on:  some people are more compensated for their service to me than others-----other family members, teachers, Sunday School and Bible School volunteers, 4-H leaders, doctors, other government officials. They give; I get!
Hopefully, I am returning the favor to some of them or to others!
And then I thought of Jesus and His living, teaching, and dying on the cross for me. So that I can be pardoned of my sins, adopted into His family, become a child of God, and spend eternity in heaven.
All the others I mentioned have added to my life here on earth; Jesus adds to my life here and the one that is coming up, as well. It is a trip that never ends.
Just for today, I want to be more thankful for people in my world. I want to thank Jesus for giving his life for me so that I, my family and friends, can also live.....not just for today........but for forever!
Printable Issue 612  Today is Tuesday, August 16th, 2005; Karen's Korner #612
A "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which I think you will enjoy:
Grandpa's Gift
By Nicolle Woodward

My grandfather was a dirt-under-the-fingernails blue-collar worker all of his life.  He provided for his family and never complained but, in his heart, he fancied himself a writer.

Grandpa would sit for long winter evenings in his rocking chair in the kitchen - writing, laughing, erasing and rearranging until he was satisfied.  He didn't want to be just any writer; specifically, he dreamed of being a joke writer for Bob Hope.

While growing up in his house, I thought that was the funniest joke of all - Grandpa, a writer for Bob Hope.  But, whenever he brought out his boxes of jokes, I laughed with Grandma . . . assuming they were funny merely because Grandpa thought they were funny.

Every so often he rented a typewriter and, using the hunt-and-peck finger system, sat at the kitchen table diligently transferring his hand-written creations onto index cards.  More than anything in the world, I wanted to be big enough to learn to type so I could type Grandpa's jokes for him.

Several years later, I elatedly interrupted Grandpa - who was still writing jokes - to show him the glistening engagement ring I'd received the night before.  Slowly and somberly, he removed his glasses, folded his paper and carefully put away his pencil.  There was no laughter in his voice and his only words were: "I hope you know what you're doing."

I knew Grandpa didn't dislike the man I was betrothed to; they got along quite well.  What he could not accept was me marrying someone of a different religion.

After that day, Grandpa didn't write any more jokes.  In fact, our once loving home was suddenly filled with angry words and tears, and now I couldn't wait to move out of the home I had grown up in.

Instead of anticipation, I despaired over thoughts of my wedding day.  Of Grandpa not only refusing to walk me down the aisle, but refusing to step foot in my fiancé's church.  The stubborn man made it quite clear that although he couldn't stop me, he didn't have to condone it, either.  I was determined to marry even without my beloved grandfather at my side.

Preparations for our modest wedding were made out of Grandpa's sight and hearing.  Grandma worked on my dress during the day while Grandpa was at work.  We prepared invitations at my in-laws' home.  At night, I stitched my dress behind the closed door of my bedroom to spare us all uncomfortable silences.  Even though we didn't have a lot of money, I refused to let Grandma ask Grandpa to share in the expenses.  I could be just as stubborn as he was and I was determined to let him know it.

The day before the ceremony, I set my pride aside and pleaded with Grandpa to be part of my wedding.  He refused to attend.  I had never known him to be so unbending.  I always knew how he felt about this particular religion, but I never dreamed my final days at home would be so horrible.

That night, tears of frustration and pain soaked my pillow.  My last night in this room, in this bed and in this house should have been filled with joy.  Instead we were strangers on separate planets - a universe apart.  How could he do this?  How could I be married without Grandpa beside me?

My wedding morning dawned cloudy and dismal, a mirror image of my gloomy heart.  I lay quietly looking around the room of my childhood, remembering the many times when Grandpa sat on my bed reading nighttime stories, soothing me after horrible nightmares and kneeling beside me for prayer.

I dreaded facing him at the breakfast table.  Disheartened, I rolled over, sliding my hand up and under the pillow.  Suddenly I felt something strange.  An envelope?  With a pounding heart, I carefully opened it and removed a letter written in Grandpa's familiar feathery script.

"My Dearest Child . . ."

Grandpa apologized, pouring out his heart in the most moving, heartfelt way he knew.  He was sorry for spoiling my joy the past months, ashamed of his dreadful, selfish behavior.  He explained his feelings and beliefs and said that, although they were his, he realized he had no right to impose them on me.  He went on to ask forgiveness and - at long last - promised to welcome my new husband into his home and his heart.  Just as he had welcomed me all those many years before.

As I continued to read, I saw a change in the handwriting and noticed blurred ink where a teardrop had fallen onto the paper in a splatter.  Suddenly tears filled my own eyes.  But I wept for joy, not sorrow, when I read his humble plea, begging the "honor" of walking me down the aisle.

Grandpa never did sell any jokes to Mr. Hope, but the greatest thing he ever wrote was that single cherished letter to a beloved, grateful granddaughter.

Printable Issue 613  Today is Wednesday, August 17th, 2005; Karen's Korner #613
A handful of quotes which I hope that you find meaningful today:
When someone does something good, applaud!
You will make two people happy.
--Samuel Goodwyn
They do not love that
do not show their love.
--William Shakespeare
Recognize that everyone feels lonely for a while.
Allow it to happen,
and accept yourself where you are.
--Gary Bennett
The close communion that the Lord desires
and is willing to experience with us is
something we can count on,
even if everyone else abandons us.
-- Charles Stanley
Love begins at home,
and it is not how much we do....
but how much love we put in that action.
-- Mother Theresa
Printable Issue 614  Today is Thursday, August 18th, 2005; Karen's Korner #614
The headlines in our yesterday's Des Moines Register sports section read "Goodchild Maker of Men". The story told about the Register's football coach of the year:  Koy Goodchild who coaches the West Bend-Mallard team. He and his teams are the recipients of four state titles and have reached the state playoffs 16 times. In his career of 24 years, Goodchild has a 217 - 37 record.
Talent and the right size bodybuilds in a small school like this one, doesn't always show up each year. The story said the coach goes with a "work-with-what you have attitude". Goodchild was quoted as saying, "We're trying to make better players, instead of making better plays."
The team doesn't have the latest Nautilius machines nor the biggst coaching staff in the state of Iowa. He has a list of things he expects out of himself, his coaching squad, and the players annually:  he writes weekly newsletters for his players filled with, among other things, inspirational quotes; players have to set individual goals for themselves, both on the field and in the classroom; players are to get themselves into good physical condiction.
One thing from the story on Goodchild's list of expectations that caught my eye:  players are told to dish out ten compliments to teammates in every practice session. And those positive comments aren't left to chance either. Unknown to the team, coaches select one player each session and watch for his comments to his fellow team members. "If the athlete passes the test, the team hits the showers after the practice. If he fails, the team -- the whole team -- runs," the story said.
Goodchild said, "We're trying to feed them good things." The whole team only ran extra about two times last season!
Wow! Maybe among other things, those positive comments flying back and forth on the practice field translates into good words at Friday night's football games!  And the players turn into a team..........a force that their opponents have a hard time reckoning with!!
I wonder how many "teams" I am one? My biological family; our neighborhood family; family of friends or volunteers with whom I serve; church family; Sunday School class? I think I have a lot of them. Today might be a good day for me to hand out a bunch of positive comments, so my differents "teams" can win more games.
And I don't think I should be shy about handing out good comments to God and to myself either. Because as the Coach of the West Bend-Mallard knows, if you want to have a winning team you have to "feed them good things".
Printable Issue 615  Today is Friday, August 19th, 2005; Karen's Korner #615
I received this daily devotional email yesterday from Jeff White who is a minister:
When the World closes in, when troubles are all around you...RUN AND HIDE! 
What?!! Doesn't that sound like good advice to you? 
As a counselor you expect me to say, "face your fears, look trouble square in the face and have faith".  No, sometimes you need to run and hide in the one safe place:  The Lord.  He is truly a fortress, a place of comfort, a place of care and of protection.
"O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction,  Jeremiah 16:19"
Printable Issue 616  Today is Monday, August 22nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #616
Maybe it is because I am now a grandma of two, that in the past few days I have been thinking about my own great-grandma, Catherine Back.
Because she lived to be 95 years old, I remember her too. She died when I was 10. And because she lived in the small town of Fertile, Iowa (pop. 385) and because of her longevity, she was known to most in her later years as "Grandma Back". It was fun in elementary school to have other kids talk about "Grandma Back" and silently think, "But she is really MY grandma!"
I told some of her life's story in my first devotional booklet (no longer available). And I would like to recount part of that story today:
Grandma Back and her husband were both born in Denmark, but immigrated to the United States in their early twenties. They settled near Council Bluffs. In 1889, their family had grown to include five children -- Mary, 11; Tade, 9; my grandma Petrea, 7; and two little boys. Grandma Back was to have another baby any day. But just before the baby was born, the Back family contracted the dreadful disease - typhoid fever, for which there was no known cure. Both of the little boys died. The new baby girl, Christina, was born and six days later her father...my great-grandfather died too.
Grandma Back was 38 years old, a mother of four---one a brand new baby. She had no other relatives in her new country and knew very little English. She had no education in American schools and there were no safety nets provided by the government, such as Social Security or other government programs.
Grandma Petrea used to tell that for the next few years they heated and lived in only one room of their house. They had a few chickens and sold as many of the eggs as they could spare. Petrea and her brother Tade would go to people's homes with their wagon and pick up laundry, which their mother would hand wash in their kitchen sink. She would dry and iron the clothes for the kids to return to their neighborhood owners. She also told that many meals consisted of bread which they would dunk in tea or coffee.
Grandma Back would sometimes tell her children she couldn't understand why God had allowed all this to happen to their family, but she always had faith that God would show them the way day by day. And He did!
Later some people, who knew the Backs in Denmark, wrote their family a letter asking them to move to northern Iowa. This couple had no children and they were getting older. They lived on a 40-acre farm, southwest of Fertile. If Grandma Back and her children would move in with them and help care for them in their declining years, she could inherit the farm. My Grandma Petrea remembered the joy of the move. Now, her mother could grow vegetables, raise some livestock, milk her cow. The country school was only a half mile down the road.
As a little girl, I can recall Grandma Back and how everyone loved her! She never owned or drove a car, always walked wherever she went. Even out to our farm home, three miles south of Fertile when she was moving through her 80s. She had the hobby of knitting, having the reputation of knitting enough mittens for everyone in our Fertile school.
Grandma Back also had the reputation that she refused to say anything BAD about anyone. If she couldn't think of anything nice to say, she would say nothing at all. Sometimes she would remove herself from negative conversations. The reason, she'd tell, was that "God had been so good to her!"
In the later few years of her life, Grandma Back suffered from some memory loss. As a young child, I thought, "How could she say that about God? She must have had dementia a LONG time!"
But life has started to teach me more and I have learned more.  What I now know and am learning: Grandma Back wasn't celebrating all the GOOD things that happened to her along the way. Instead, she was ENJOYING a relationship with a God who would take care of her and her situation..........any situation.........all of the time!
Because of her situation, which at times was desperate, she would pray and believe that God could and would help her out with anything that life might throw her way. She was always grateful for the life He had given her on her little farm. And she did it all without Social Security, doctors, pills, or counselors........maybe that is why the Bible calls God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit names like "Great Physician, Healer, Counselor, Father, Bridegroom....." There was no one and nothing else on which she could depend. She never remarried living as a widow for nearly 60 years.
In April next year, we will celebrate 50 years since she died: April 18, 1956. And her legacy lives on.....
Printable Issue 617  Today is Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #617
This is a forward from Ruby Loken. It came to me with computer graphics; several cartoons of Winnie the Pooh. The message talks about who were are and the special and unique ways we are all made. It also talks about changes. Not only is God in charge of how we are made; He is also the One in charge of any needed changes in our lives. He helps us:
       To Each His Own
        I cannot change the way I am,
        I never really try,
        God made me different and unique,
        I never ask him why.
        If I appear peculiar,
        There's nothing I can do,
        You must accept me as I am,
        As I've accepted you.
        God made a casting of each life,
        Then threw the old away,
        Each child is different from the rest,
        Unlike as night from day.
        So often we will criticize,
        The things that others do,
        But, do you know, they do not think,
        The same as me and you.
        So God in all his wisdom,
        Who knows us all by name,
        He didn't want us to be bored,    
        That's why we're not the same
~Author Unknown~ 
Printable Issue 618  Today is Wednesday, August 24th, 2005; Karen's Korner #618
Today is a day I have been looking forward to; making plans for!!
As most of you know, I am involved with a group of gals from here in Clarion known as the Marys and Marthas (M & Ms for short). We meet for about one hour each month with a mission purpose "to be  hearts and hands for Jesus".
For a fourth year, we are participating in the national "Make a Difference Day" program, organizing volunteers from across America to volunteer to do something to make a difference. The actual day is October 22. Last year the national event attracted 3.5 volunteers. Each of the three years, Clarion and the M & Ms have done something different. Year #4 is no exception. I am the chairperson this year; my good friend Pam Winter is co-chair.
This morning at our monthly M & Ms meeting, we are kicking off "60 Days to Make a Difference" in our community, as we work to attract lots of people doing lots of simple tasks over the next 60 days to make a difference in people's lives and our community as a whole. We are going to use a racing theme, as we "make a lap around the track" each day.....60 laps around the track before we conclude on October 22.
Because we are Marys and Marthas, quite often we refer to Mary and her sister Martha from the Bible. The verse we look at sometimes is found in Luke 10:38 - 42, where one sister is sitting at Jesus' feet and the other is hurrying around serving her guest.
I recently received a new "Women of Destiny" Bible as a gift from two friends:  Kim Lee and Judy Watne. In this Bible, there are all kinds of letters to women or short comments by some writer. These comments, stories, and letters touch the heart and soul of its readers. And today I am going to share with the M & Ms what is written near Luke 10.
It is a note which could be written to any of us:
"God is calling the Marys and Marthas today
all over our land to work in various places
of the vineyard of the Lord;
God grant that they may respond and say,
"Lord, here am I,
send me."
~~ Maria Woodworth-Etter
Printable Issue 619  Today is Thursday, August 25th, 2005; Karen's Korner #619

This is an email that was forwarded to me from a friend; it is a fun one:

The Spiritually Correct Story of the Little Red Hen

Diligence and faithfulness were the hallmarks of the Little Red Hen. She lived in a church-sponsored apartment complex that brought together animals from differing ethnic and socioeconomic strata. The pig, the duck and the cat dwelled with her but alas, they never did anything for the church. The pig liked to wallow in the mud and recite verses, the duck enjoyed the pond and quacked a few bars of favorite hymns, and the cat purred on the patio in the sunshine.

One day the Little Red Hen found a decision card lying on the ground. "Who will help me follow up this needy soul?" she asked.

"Not I," grunted the pig from the mud. "I'm working on my memory verse for the week, Proverbs 11:22."

"Not I," quacked the duck from the pond. "I'm only on the third stanza of 'Make Me a Blessing.'"

And she sang, "Give as 'twas given to you in your need..."

"Not I," purred the cat. "But I'll certainly pray for you."

So the Little Red Hen set off and made contact with the mare who had filled out the decision card. The horse was truly repentant, and so the Little Red Hen began discipling her.

The next week the Little Red Hen was cleaning the house when the pastor called and asked her to teach a Sunday School class.

"My, but I'm awfully busy," said the Little Red Hen. "But the tiny ones need a teacher desperately. If I can't find someone else, I'll do it."

"Who will help teach Sunday School?" asked the Little Red Hen.

"Not I," yawned the pig. "It's not my spiritual gift."

"Not I, quacked the duck. "I don't like the songs they sing."

"Not I," purred the cat. "I'm prioritizing my life."

"Very well, then, I will teach them myself," said the Little Red Hen. Carefully she prepared each week's lesson, collected yarn for craft time, discipled the mare and kept up with her daily chores. Soon the Little Red Hen was running to and fro like a chicken with it's...like the very busy chicken she was, when the doorbell rang. It was Mrs. Goose from across the courtyard, who was in charge of the piglet nursery.

"I don't see how I can possibly do another thing," sighed the Little Red Hen.

"But if you don't, we'll have to endure the grunting of so many little piglets in the worship service."

"We can't have that," said the Little Red Hen. "If I can't find someone to help, I'll do it."

By now the Little Red Hen was all but losing her sanctification toward the others, and the tone of her voice nearly scared one of the cat's lives completely out of her.

"Who will help in the nursery this week?" yelled the Little Red Hen.

"Not I," said the pig. "I am doing the Scripture reading."

"Not I," intoned the duck. "I have special music during the offertory."

"Not I," mewed the cat. "I am allergic to the filthy things."

"Very well," said the Little Red Hen. "I will do it myself."

Sunday afternoon came, and the Little Red Hen was lying in a heap on the kitchen floor, suffering from severe burnout. She was so exhausted she could not rise to make dinner for the household.

She heard a knock at the door and raised her head just in time to see the mare, her pastor and Mrs. Goose bringing a plate of fresh bread, hot corn on the cob and an apple pie.

"This is for your hard work and diligence," the three said. "You have been such an encouragement to us that we wanted to encourage you." And with that they left as quickly as they had come.

The cat, the duck and the pig appeared at the window, sniffing at the air hungrily.

"Who will help me eat my dinner?" asked the Little Red Hen.

"I will," grunted the pig.

"I will," quacked the duck.

"I'd rather have tuna, but I guess I will," purred the cat.

"I followed up the decision card," said the Little Red Hen. "I taught Sunday School, and I helped out with the piglets in the nursery. You three recited verses, sang and lay in the sun while I kept busy."

"Aw, come on, Little Red Hen," the pig said. "You know we're not as mature as you. Have a heart. We've learned our lesson." The duck and cat agreed.

"If I didn't care for you, I would gladly offer you an equal portion of my bounty," the Little Red hen said. "However, I do care and wish you to change your behavior."

And the Little Red Hen practiced tough love that day and ate the bread, the corn and the pie all by herself!

Printable Issue 620  Today is Friday, August 26th, 2005; Karen's Korner #620
Several short sayings, which I have collected over the past couple of weeks:
** "Many things I have tried to grasp and have lost.
    That which I have placed in God's hands, I still have.
       -- Martin Luther
** "Faith is not believing that God can.
    It is knowing that God will."
        -- Ben Stein
** "Change is the law of life.
    Those who look only to the past or the present
    are certain to miss the future."
        -- John F. Kennedy
** "Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them,
    but you know they are always there!
        -- writer unknown
** "We are never defeated unless we give up on God."
        -- Ronald Reagan
Printable Issue 621  Today is Monday, August 29th, 2005; Karen's Korner #621
Yesterday at church when I was served communion, I noticed that the grape juice was cool, sweet, and tasted good. The small amount of liquid was pleasing to my sense of taste.
But I thought, "What would happen if next time I took communion, the juice was warm, bitter, and I didn't care for the flavor at all. Would I be as eager to drink it?"
Do we worship God because of all the good things He has and will do for us? Do we, and would we, still show up if some things in our lives didn't, and don't, go as we planned?
Dear Jesus,
    Thank you for all the many, many prayers that you answer for us exactly like we ask. Thank you for all the numerous good things which happen to us in any given day. Help us not to expect every answer to every prayer to be only what we want, what is pleasing to all of our senses. Help us to drink a cup of bitter fruit, if that is what You deem best for us.......as we learn and grow up in Your Love.
    Thank you that you drank a bitter cup in Your Life of dying on the cross for each one of us, so that we all have the opportunity to be reunited in our relationship with You.
    In Your Name we pray, Amen.
Printable Issue 622  Today is Tuesday, August 30th, 2005; Karen's Korner #622
As we start a new school year with lots of other activities kicking off at the same time, we look for adult leadership.....for our clubs, organizations, church events and activities, 4-H andscouting programs.
Here is a delicious helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul:
The Reluctant Den Leader
By Francoise Inman

     Running late again, I rushed into the Cub Scouts parents' meeting.  With windblown hair, as a result of my brief dash from the car to the church basement, I hurriedly took a seat, noting the surplus of empty chairs.  At least, I wasn't the only one running behind, I told myself with ample relief.
     The Cubmaster checked his watch, and with a barely audible sigh, started the meeting.  I continued to look around, stunned to count only five or six other parents present, despite the fact that our pack had at least fifty boys.  As the Cubmaster explained the challenges that the group faced in the coming year, he pointed out that the empty chairs, which should have been filled with parent volunteers, were our biggest obstacles.
     Several of the dens were lacking parent leaders and with the summer coming to a close, it became unlikely that someone would step in and commit an entire year of Tuesday nights to help guide a group of young boys through the requirements needed to earn their badges.
     As he spoke, I felt a rising sense of guilt mounting within me.  After all, even I had tried to evade helping out with the Tiger Cubs the previous year.  Wasn't I looking forward to leaving my seven-year-old in the care of a competent adult while I ran errands?  Wasn't I the one who conveniently "forgot" to bake a couple of cakes for the annual fund-raiser and found excuses not to man the yard sale table?  I quickly came to realize that the problem wasn't just about empty chairs; it was also about people like me who were unwilling to sacrifice some of their time to a worthy cause.
     Before I could change my mind, I raised my hand to volunteer as den leader to guide the Wolf den through its first formal year of scouting.  Although I knew next to nothing about teaching a group of noisy, exuberant and restless second-graders, I was determined to make it work.
     My first den meeting was as chaotic and noisy as the first day of a county fair.  The boys were too excited to sit still.  The craft I had chosen was too complicated and ran over the allotted time.  I spent a great deal of my time apologizing to the parents for my ineptitude as a den leader.  What have I gotten myself into? I wondered, composing a letter of resignation in my head.
     Much to my surprise, the boys actually enjoyed themselves.  They even invited their friends to join our den, and before long, our ranks swelled from four boys to ten.  My son was thrilled to have his mom as den leader; it gave him bragging rights on the playground.  I was having as much fun as the boys and had no idea that I'd be so popular.
     As I walked through the school's parking lot, it was rare when one of "my" boys didn't call out a greeting or stop me for a quick hug and a story to share.  It almost became a contest among them to see who would spot me first.  They would talk with me about the little things going on in their lives - whether it was a loose tooth ready to wiggle its way out or a special event coming up.  They'd tell me about their homework and their latest Playstation victories.  They'd complain about little brothers, sisters and neighborhood bullies.  I'd ruffle their hair, ask questions and listen to their answers before hugging them as they scampered back to their teachers or parents.
     As I watched them dash away with that curious half-run, half-skip gait that little boys are notorious for, I thought of the empty chairs at that meeting and those who would never know this joy.  I thought of those who wouldn't receive quick, warm hugs from little boys with peanut-butter breath, and those who would miss out on gap-toothed smiles and long-winded stories full of little joys and mini-tragedies.  After all, I gave those boys only one hour of my time every week, but they rewarded me with their hearts.

Printable Issue 623  Today is Wednesday, August 31st, 2005; Karen's Korner #623
I received this Karen's Korner in an email message from Gene Ballentine two years ago today, complete with a blue background and an image of the Iwo Jima statue in the text.
Gene, a senior citizen, was an unlikely computer guy in our community. After Gene's wife passed away, his kids wanted him to get a computer to be a part-time companion. Gene would have none of it. It was a grandchild who got him talked in to a cast-off of one of Ballantine families. Gene went on to own his own "state of the art" computer system..........and forwarded emails ferociously.
This is one of the last ones I got from Gene, as he died in his home a few days after I received it. So today, I copied and pasted. Dumped the one with the blue background. Readied it for sharing it with friends. And archived it in Karen's Korner........#623:
A Tale of Six Boys

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the
eighth grade class from Clinton, WI., where I grew up, to videotape their trip.  I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me.

This fall's trip was especially memorable.  On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial.  This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history--that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial.  I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?"
I told him that we were from Wisconsin.
"Hey, I'm a Cheesehead, too!  Come gather around, Cheeseheads, and I will tell you a story." (James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day.  He was there that night to say goodnight to his dad, who has since passed away.  He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up.  I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his
permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.)

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his words that night.)

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin.  My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now.  It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.  Six boys raised the flag."
"The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block.  Harlon was an all-state football player.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team.  They were off to play another type of game.  A game called "War."  But it didn't turnout to be a game.  Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are generals  who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war.  You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old."

(He pointed to the statue) "You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire.  If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph.....a photograph of his girlfriend.  Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared.  He was 18 years old.  Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys.  Not old men."

"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero.  He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old.  He was already 24.  When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our country.'  He knew he was talking to little boys.  Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers."

"The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona.  Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima.  He went intothe White House with my dad.  President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.'  He told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?"

"So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together.  Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive.  That was Ira Hayes.  He had images of horror in his mind.  Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32 .....ten years after this picture was taken."

"The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky.  A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy.  His best friend, who is now 70, told me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store.  Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts.  Those cows crapped all night.'  Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy.  Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19."

"When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store.  A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm.  The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away."
"The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews.  When Walter Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here.  He is in Canada fishing.  No, there is no phone there, sir.  No, we don't know when he is coming back.'  My dad never fished or even went to Canada.  Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup.  But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing.  He didn't want to talk to the press. 

"You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero.Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and a monument. My dad knew better.  He was a medic.  John Bradley from  Wisconsin was a caregiver.  In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died.  And when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain."

"When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero.  When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back.  Did NOT come back.'

"So that's the story about six nice young boys.  Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes.  Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps."

"My voice is giving out, so I will end here.  Thank you for your time."

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top.  It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero.  Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice.  Let us never forget from the revolutionary War to the Gulf War and all the wars in between that sacrifice was made for our freedom.

Remember to pray praises for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in murderous unrest around the world. STOP and thank God for being alive and being free at someone else's sacrifice.  God Bless.