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March 2006 Archives

Printable Issue 748  Today is Wednesday, March 1st, 2006; Karen's Korner #748
It is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season!
This old story becomes new to us over and over again. And it became new to me one more time last weekend when I attended a Sunday School teachers' meeting. The speaker was talking about how to tell the exciting news to children.
She said, "Jesus dying isn't news, because we all die. Back in Jesus' day, dying on the cross wasn't totally uncommon. But the good news is Jesus' resurrection. That's what sets Him apart from evreryone else in history. And He is worthy of our worship and praise!"
Jesus' birth - supernatural.
Jesus' life - filled with supernatural activities and events.
Jesus' death and resurrection - supernatural.
When God created the universe, He started with.....nothing, super-supernatural.
And when He starts with each of our lives, He generally starts without much.
Repeatedly when angels come to people in the Old and New Testaments, they would start by saying to them, "Don't be afraid!"
Of course they would be afraid, things were supernatural and out-of-the-ordinary.
And today (and every day), God says to each one of us, "Don't be afraid! I have great things in store for you!"
This is one more day to praise God for what He has done and will do!!
Dear Father in Heaven, Thank You for coming into our lives and adding your supernatural power, strength, and love to each of us. Thank Your for every gift which You give to us which is designed for us to take with us into eternity! Amen.
Printable Issue 749  Today is Thursday, March 2nd, 2006; Karen's Korner #749
A pass-along email I received from a friend last week:

When you are sad.....I will dry your tears. 
When you are scared.....I will comfort your fears. 
When you are worried.....I will give you hope. 
When you are confused.....I will help you cope. 
And when you are lost....And can't see the light, I shall be your 
beacon.....Shining ever so bright. 

This is my oath.....I pledge till the end. 

Why you may ask?.....Because you're my friend. 
Signed: GOD 
Printable Issue 750  Today is Friday, March 3rd, 2006; Karen's Korner #750
As part of the Lenten season, our church family is studying "Seeing the Unseen Christ". We began last Sunday and will look at various topics in the upcoming seven weeks, concluding on Easter Sunday.
Last Sunday's topic was "Bow Down & Worship" and our minister's charge was for us to "observe Christ" in our daily lives this week.
I have a couple of "God sightings":
** Sighting #1:  A brother and sister, who were born in the Clarion area and now reside in Colorado, stopped by our home on Saturday afternoon. They had returned for a couple of days to attend the memorial services of their 99-year-old grandmother. The family moved from Clarion 27 years ago. "We are going to attend our old church on Sunday morning," Deb said. Which they did. Several days ago we received an email from Deb saying, "Guess who we saw in church? Delpha and Brock." Brock was the minister of the congregation when Deb was confirmed and Delpha was Deb's piano teacher. The Brockmeyers moved to another congregation maybe 25 years ago and have probably been back to a worship service in Clarion no more than a handful of times!
** Sighting #2:  Our daughter shared with us that one of her good friends, who is wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy, got moved to her downtown apartment in Des Moines on Saturday. "Mom, Barker is so excited to be in her new place,"Jamie said. "She told me that it's a good thing she got moved when she did, because there was a fire on the floor above her in her old apartment the next day!" Jamie said that Barker wouldn't have been trapped, because even when she is home alone she keeps her cell phone with her. But Barker would have spent some pretty intense minutes before someone would have come to her rescue and gotten her out of the apartment!
** Sighting #3: A two-month-old baby for which a number of people in our community have been praying, came home from the hospital several days ago!
** Sighting #4:  I woke up this morning with more blessings than I can list!! Good health, relatively good mental capacities, several tasks to do and people to be in touch with.....to list but a couple!
........and I have all day today and Saturday to add to my list!!
Printable Issue 751  Today is Monday, March 6th, 2006; Karen's Korner #751
A pass-along email from Shirley Delfs:
Why Dogs Don't Live Longer Than People 
Being a veterinarian, I was called to examine a  ten-year- old Irish Wolfhound named 
Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife,  Lisa, and their little boy, Shane,  were all very
attached to Belker and  they were hoping for a miracle. 
I examined Belker and found he  was dying of cancer. I  told the family there were no miracles 
left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia  procedure for the old dog  in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told  me they thought it would be good  for th e four-year-old 
Shane to observe the procedure.  They felt as though Shane  might learn something from the experience. 
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed
so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. 
Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. 
We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." 
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard 
a more comforting explanation. He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long." 
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply, Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Printable Issue 752  Today is Tuesday, March 7th, 2006; Karen's Korner #752
A Lenten devotional written by Shirley Choat:
O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together." Psalm 34:3
The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved. The one who created us is waiting for our response to the love that gave us our being. God not only says: "You are my Beloved." God also asks: "Do you love Me?" and offers us countless chances to say "Yes"
Thhe spiritual life is a chance to say "Yes" to our inner truth. The spiritual life understood, radically changes everything. Being born and growing up, leaving home and finding a career, being praised and being rejected, walking and resting, praying and playing, becoming ill and being healed, yes, living and dying, they all become expressions of that divine question: "Do you love me?" And at every point of the journey, there is the choice to say "Yes" and the choice to say "No."
For many, love is just a word, a passing phase, a brief emotion; but love that honors Christ our LORD responds to Him with deep devotion.
LORD, I confess that I have not tried as hard as I can to know and love You. But I will try this Lenten season to revive the First Commandment in my life by attendance at church, private devotional moments, and reaching out to others. Amen.
Printable Issue 753  Today is Wednesday, March 8th, 2006; Karen's Korner #753
This is a daily email devotional which I received from Jeff White in mid-February. He talks about comfort and snuggling into his easy chair on winter nights. As we turn the pages to spring, we tend to snuggle into the comfort of our yardwork or gardens. Our physical and emotional comfort usually stands in the way of doing something "uncomfortable" for God:
The LORD is my light and
my salvation; whom shall I fear?

PSALM 27:1

     I love the warmth, comfort and safety of my living room.  On these cold
winter evenings, I light a fire and snuggle into the easy chair my wife got
me.  Life is good but most of all...it's comfortable.
     Christianity is not about comfort though.  It's about serving others
and that means leaving the safety of our comfort zones.  Most of us don't
venture out for fear.  Fear of disapproval, fear of embarrassment, mostly,
fear of rejection.
     With the Lord as our light we have nothing to fear.  He is our comfort
Printable Issue 754  Today is Thursday, March 9th, 2006; Karen's Korner #754
As part of the Lenten season, our church family is learning about "Seeing the Unseen Christ". We have opportunities in Sunday School classes, our church sermons, individual journals, and small group discussions throughout the week.
Last Sunday's and this week's topic is "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love". Lots of stuff in the chapter in our books by David Mains, but our small group discussion on Sunday night centered on loving those in our lives who aren't so lovable, which Christians are asked to do. As our group shared, each one of us had someone in our lives who was "difficult"....someone in the work place, maybe a family member.
Names weren't given. Sometimes the difficult person was difficult to lots of people. We shared what we were or weren't doing about our situtations.
I'll confess. I have one, maybe more than one. And I have failed. But I am learning a new perspective. Sometimes we try to "fix it". Sometimes we try to talk it away or wish it away. As Christians, sometimes we pray and ask God to 'fix it'. Maybe, just maybe, all we are supposed to do is to pray..........for that other person and for ourselves. And allow God to fix it His Way.
We may or may not see the results. Maybe that person is in our life for only that reason:  to pray for them. We just couldn't see the golden opportunity!
"Thank You, Father God, for putting ________________ into my life. I bring her/him before You right now. Shine Your light on them; as you have on me. Help me not to be glad/sad/mad about our relationship. I can't fix it, but I can pray for ______________. He/she needs You today, just like I need You. Help me not to whine when I think of him/her. Bless them. In the Name of Your Son who should have brought judgement to our world but brought love instead. Amen."
Printable Issue 755  Today is Friday, March 10th, 2006; Karen's Korner #755
Several sayings taken from insets in the "Women of Destiny Bible":
"I can get more out of believing Him for one minute than by shouting at Him all night."
~~ Smith Wigglesworth
"The power of God is equal to every emergency and is great enough for the deliverance of every soul from oppression."
~~ John G. Lake
"Christ within us can accomplish what we can never hope to do in our own strength; and that continuous talking with Him will change the weakest of us into His image."
~~ Donald Gee
"Between the humble and contrite heart and the majesty of heaven there are no barriers; the only password is prayer."
~~ Hosea Ballou
Printable Issue 756  Today is Monday, March 13th, 2006; Karen's Korner #756
Our church mssion and outreach committee has selected and currently supports eight ongoing monthly outreaches. One missionary family is currently working in Africa, Jacob and Jaynie Michael.
Here is a short pass-along email sent from them last week:
My little boy sometimes had difficult bowel movements. One
day, we were browsing together in a novelty and gift store.
There were many wooden signs of "words of encouragement"
hanging on display.

Suddenly, he pointed to one of the signs and said to me,
"Mum, I think we should get this one and hang it in the
toilet." I looked at the sign he was indicating.

It read:

P. U. S. H.

"Pray Until Something Happens." 
Might be a reminder for us to pray at other times, too!
Printable Issue 757  Today is Tuesday, March 14th, 2006; Karen's Korner #757
I have heard my mom recount this story of her mother more than once:
My grandma (her mom Alice Eyestone Merwin) had a heart attack when she was 39 years old. The year would have been 1929. Not many medicines and surgeries for heart patients back in that era. At the time, mom was one of about eight children.
Since there wasn't medical care available, Grandma Merwin took her concerns and conditions to the Great Physician. Mom said, "She prayed and asked God to spare her life so that she could raise her children. She knew that if something happened to her, we kids would be divided up and raised in several homes. Mom didn't want that to happen. She wanted us to stay together."
As the years passed, more children were added to the Merwin clan. Mom is one of fifteen children! And her mother's health remained strong and stable.
It was in 1953 that Grandma Merwin was killed in a car accident in Colorado while traveling with her husband, Grandpa Chauncie Merwin. Bud and Honey (aka Paul and Pauline), the twins and Mom's youngest brother and sister, had just turned 19. And were on their own!
God had answered their mother's prayer!!
Some may wonder why God didn't allow Grandma even more time with her kids and with a growing explosion of grandchildren. Maybe He had even bigger and better plans for her!!
Printable Issue 758  Today is Wednesday, March 15th, 2006; Karen's Korner #758
John 8:12 - "Jesus said, 'I am the Light of the world. So if you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path.'"
In our 50-day revival series at church, this week the topic is "Walking in the Light".
It must have been a similar topic where our daughter Jamie and family, attended while visiting in the Kansas City area last weekend.
Jamie told that our grandson Luke ran up with his cousins to the front of the church when it was time for children's sermon. The minister brought out a lamp and began flipping the switch, asking the children why it didn't work. Two-year-old Luke, who tends to listen pretty well and talks pretty plain for his age, spoke up and said loud enough and clear enough for the minister and the congregation to hear, "Needs batteries!"
Might not have been the answer the minister was looking for, but Luke wasn't entirely wrong:  the lamp needed power to give off light!
Since listening to Jamie recount the story, I thought, "I am like the lamp. If I don't have any power source, I am a pretty dim bulb! Today if I am going to walk in the Light of Jesus love, I need to be connected to Him. I need to be plugged into the source of His energy. I might need my cord plugged in to the electric current supplied at an outlet. Or, like Luke, I might need my batteries charged!"
"Father God, I reach out my hand to you today. Be my guide, my helper, my strength, my power as I walk, talk, and do what You would have me do. I want to be Your Light in My world, just for today. Amen."
Printable Issue 759  Today is Thursday, March 16th, 2006; Karen's Korner #759
Another past favorite of mine written by Illinois pastor Jeff White. I enjoy the short tasty morsels; quick and to the point. Have a great day!

My grace is enough for you.
When you are weak, my power
is made perfect in you.

2 Corinthians 12:9

     I'm saved!  How cool are those words.  With those words I am set free.  I am set free to be just me.  I am set free to enjoy life.  I am set free to love you.  I am set free from fear.  I am free.   In Gal 5:1 we read "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

     When the world presses in and guilt creeps up remember YOU ARE FREE.  You don't fall in and out of salvation, or grace.  The only way to lose your salvation is to give it away with forthought and malice (to coin a legal term).  You don't lose it, you give it away.  No, this isn't a license to sin, it is freedom to love.
Printable Issue 760  Today is Friday, March 17th, 2006; Karen's Korner #760
Today's Karen's Korner was forwarded to me from Jim Bossard; it is a writting from The Purpose Driven Life staff:
Winning and Losing
by John Fischer

It's been statistically proven that out of the 162 Major League baseball games that make up a full season of play, every team will win at least 60 games and lose at least 60 games. In other words, the worst team will still manage to win 60 games, and the best team will still manage to lose 60. It's what happens with the other 42 that makes or breaks a season. It's an interesting way to think about a baseball season and another reason why I think baseball is a lot like life.

Winning teams experience a lot of losses. Losing teams experience a significant amount of wins. For 120 games out of 162, everybody looks the same. That's almost 75% of the season. It's what happens with the remaining 25% that makes the difference between a champion and a cellar-dweller.

Life is all about ups and downs. We're all going to have good days and bad days. Winners don't win all the time; losers don't lose all the time. In fact, most of the time, it's hard to tell the difference. You can't make one's experience the judge of everything. Pretty much all of sports tells us that winning is only a slight edge.

So what's the point of this for us? Experience isn't everything. If you're having a hard day, be patient, things are about to change. If you are cruising on top of things, enjoy it, because things are about to change. Change is the one constant for all of us, and those who are best prepared for it will have the best experience. If you expect things to always go well and get upset when they don't, you're in for making tough times tougher. If you are simply grateful for what each day brings, you will fare much better in the long run.

Paul revealed the secret for making it through his “season” of life. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

It is a way to live that evens out the wins and the losses. It even leaves the wins and losses up to God. Don't you remember that coach who taught you as a kid that it's not all about winning or losing, but how you play the game that counts?

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Printable Issue 761  Today is Monday, March 20th, 2006; Karen's Korner #761
In the three years plus that I have shared Karen's Korners, I am sure I have used this Bible verse before. But it seems like God is wanting to remind you and me how much He loves us!
Hard to be in Sunday School or church very long without hearing the Bible verse - John 3:16. Here it is, just fill your name in the blanks. Plus I have added on verse 17:
"For God loved ________ so much that He gave his only Son
so that if ___________believes in Him shall not perish
but have eternal life.
God did not send His Son to condemn
_________, but to save her/him!"
Someone who is reading this today needs to be reminded you are loved, accepted; not condemned.
Safe and saved in a loving God's arms.
Part of God's plan and forever family!
Printable Issue 762  Today is Tuesday, March 21st, 2006; Karen's Korner #762
Today's Karen's Korner is from Joanne Schleck. A good one! Thanks for all of you who, at times, share your personal writings or your favorite pass alongs:

Clay Balls

A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a Canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had Rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake.

They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. nside was a beautiful, precious stone! Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of
thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

Printable Issue 763  Today is Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006; Karen's Korner #763
About a year ago, our Sunday School class made a listing of "Favorite Bible Verses". The list is sort of long. Today I am going to share three of those verses which begin with the letter "C":

Colossians 3:3


"Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here."




Corinthians 13:13 


 "There are three things that remain – faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love."




II Corinthians 12:10 
 "For when I am weak, then I am strong. The less I have the more I depend on Him."
Printable Issue 764  Today is Thursday, March 23rd, 2006; Karen's Korner #764
Like all of you, I get a number of SPAM messages each day. Yesterday I got one from Hugh with the subject "We cure any disease". Another one was from Peter stating "Our store is your cure all." Hard to tell what was in the messages. I did what I do with those types of messages; I dumped them.
We all want  those things to be true. We want a cure for any disease and we want to go to the store that will cure everything from cancer to broken hearts; and from money problems to damaged emotions.
We have such a store.......It's called God and Jesus! Sometimes it takes place in a building called the church; sometimes it is with church people-types; and sometimes it is directly from Him!
Not all diseases are healed in this life, but God takes care of that person in the next life. One way or another we are all cured! Sometimes money, emotional, and physical problems aren't changed overnight. if at all, but God is right there hanging on to us.......encouraging, delivering, and helping us to deal and cope with things we could never handle on our own.
The next time we need a "cure"; we shouldn't look at our computer screen for the latest fix; we need to "look up" and see the face, hands, and heart of our Creator.
"Thank you, Father God, for a love and a care that transcends this life with all its ills. Thank you that you are our Heavenly Father and we can come to you for all of our cures, with all of our concerns, and with a desire to be the Child you have in mind for us to be. Thank you that we are all different one from another; and you call that a good thing. In Jesus' Name. Amen."
Printable Issue 765  Today is Friday, March 24th, 2006; Karen's Korner #765
I was sent this a week or so ago by someone, I can't recall who. It is written by Rick Warren, author of the popular book "The Purpose Driven Life". I don't think it is particularly new pass around, but it is really good!
By Rick Warren --

People ask me, what is the purpose of life?  And I respond: In a nutshell, life is 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 - 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 any more. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times, you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your 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 purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is MY problem, 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 thousand of people, God was not going to heal Kay quickly 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 instatnly 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 your 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, notoriety, and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do:  II Corinthians 9 and Psalms 72.
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifetyle 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 intiative 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 I 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 goind to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be drive by God's purpose (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 766  Today is Monday, March 27th, 2006; Karen's Korner #766
Yesterday we were watching a show on the History Channel about American soldiers serving in World War II in the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. The job of the soldiers was fighting to keep the Japanese from getting a foothold on the North American continent.
There weren't numerous numbers of the troops stationed there. Conditions were less than the best. The interviewer talked with one of the aging WW II vets. One of the vets' comments to the interviewer, "We didn't think we were doing anything special, but I guess it was!"
May that be your thought today, as you do your "not so special task!" As you wipe a child's runny nose for the tenth time. As you attempt to teach the class of students; some who would just as soon be some place else. As you drive delivering your products to some end user. As you take the time to invest in some needy person in your neighborhood. Or one of any number of tasks. "It might not seem like anything special, but maybe it is !"
"God, help us to see every task as special, when it is done as Mother Theresa used to say, 'with great love!'. Help us to see what we do, in light of how you view it. Help us to do some things that we would just as soon not do. Thank you for giving us a sense of purpose, care, and compassion........better than we would do and have in our own thinking and strength. In the name of Your Son Jesus who saw each one of us as somebody pretty special.  Amen."
Printable Issue 767  Today is Tuesday, March 28th, 2006; Karen's Korner #767
A couple of verses from Psalms 147 plus commentary on them:
1 - "Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord! How good it is to sing His praises! How delightful, and how right!"
4,5 - "He counts the stars and calls them all by name; How great he is! His power is absolute! His understanding is unlimited."
Commentary - "Sometimes we feel as if we don't understand ourselves--what we want, how we feel, what's wrong with us, or what we should do about it. Bud God's understanding is unlimited and therefore he understands us fully. If you feel troubled and don't understand yourself, remember that God understands you perfectly. Take your mind off yourself and focus it on God. Strive to become more and more like him. The more you learn about God and his ways, the better you will understand yourself.
6 - 11 - "He covers the heavens with clouds, sends down the showers and makes the green grass grow in mountain pastures. He feeds the wild animals and the young ravens cry to him for food. The speed of a horse is nothing to him. How puny in his sight is the strength of a man. But his joy is in those who reverence him, those who expect him to be loving and kind."
Commentary - "We spend much of our lives trying to sharpen our skills or increase our strength. There is nothing wrong with doing so and, in fact, each can be used to glorify God. But when we use our skills or strength with no regard for God, they are indeed worth little. It is our trust that God desires. When he has that, he will use our skills and strength in ways far greater than we can imagine."
Printable Issue 768  Today is Wednesday, March 29th, 2006; Karen's Korner #768
A Chicken Soup for the Soul; pretty long.........but pretty good!

Between Two Worlds
By Kari West


     At Pillar Point Lighthouse, south of San Francisco, where the ocean gives way to the land, I stood on the edge of two worlds.  That day my thoughts were as restless as the relentless sea pummeling the shore below.  I was floundering, torn between the deep attachments of the past and the pressing need to let go of them forever.  I was almost ready to give up.
     Me, single again?  I can't do this!  Two months earlier, my husband had suddenly walked out of our marriage.  The discovery of multiple affairs going back decades left me breathless.  Now, as a single working mother of a teenager, I felt overwhelmed.  Sometimes I felt I could make it through, but at other times I just wanted to die.
     That particular Sunday afternoon, Eleanor, a woman I knew from church, suggested that we go and pick blackberries at the ocean.  So we had driven down the coast and stopped at this bluff to stretch our legs and absorb the view.
     I didn't know Eleanor well, but she turned out to be good company.  As we gazed down at the ocean she turned to me and said, very deliberately, "The kind of men who sneak around and walk out on marriages are not worth crying over."
     So began my friendship with Eleanor.  I soon discovered that as a divorced woman herself, she had also stood where I was now - and that she had not only survived, but flourished.
     In the months that followed, Eleanor taught me how.  "Lighten up. Simplify," she said.  I began by getting rid of the heavy furniture I couldn't lift on my own.
     "Why hold on to all those knickknacks and holiday ornaments, if they have such heavy memories?" she asked.  So I held a garage sale to make room for new memories and traditions.  I bought a small house across town and redecorated the black vinyl and beige with colorful floral patterns.  Instead of bemoaning that my daughter chose to spend that first Christmas with her father, I took the week off work to travel to Israel.
     Slowly, I got my feet wet with all this single stuff.  Eleanor was always there for me.  She let me have the keys to her house so I could have a quiet place to go when she was at work, and she said I could call her anytime, day or night.  I thought of her as my "3 a.m. friend."  What a gift she gave me!
     I found myself wanting what Eleanor had.  That wisdom.  That twinkle in the eye that said that life is good and we are here to enjoy it.  Just watching her move smoothly, creatively through her life helped.  I thought, Maybe one day I'll be where she is.
     Although our paths took different directions in the years that followed, Eleanor and I always managed to pick up our friendship where we left off.  To this day, I continue to admire how she carries herself with flair through life's ups and downs.  She has a way of putting things into perspective.
     It is in part because of Eleanor that I have realized one special dream.  While I was going through all my emotional turmoil, I hoped that someday I would be able to write about it and so help other women in the same situation.  Inspired by watching Eleanor turn a hobby of oil painting into a home business, I left behind a thirty-year career to become a freelance writer.
     One day I was at a writer's conference having an article based on my experience reviewed by an editor.  In the middle of our session she suddenly broke down and said, "I'm going through this same thing right now!"
     She was obviously in distress.  I gave her a hug and told her she would get through it; there was a future out there, even though she might not be able to see it at the moment.
     Over the next few months, we stayed in touch, and then it occurred to me that she and I would make a perfect writing team.  The combination of my weathered experience and her raw pain would enable us to write a book that would mentor other women in similar situations.  When I told her my idea over the telephone she was very enthusiastic, and as we said good-bye she added, "I want my twinkle back - the twinkle that I see in your eyes!"
     I closed my eyes for a moment as I realized what had happened: I had become for my new friend what my old friend Eleanor had always been for me.  Twelve years had passed since that Sunday afternoon when Eleanor and I stopped at the lighthouse.  And now I knew what Eleanor must have known as we stood looking down at the ocean pounding at the shore: There is a place where the turbulent sea gives way to firm, dry land.  And when you find that place, you become a beacon of hope for others who are still floundering in the waves.
Printable Issue 769  Today is Thursday, March 30th, 2006; Karen's Korner #769
I got an email from my friend Kim last week and among other things, she wrote, "Thanks, Karen, you are so awesome!"
When I read it, I didn't think or feel too awesome. Inconsistent maybe. Confused some probably. You know how we are sometimes.
We use the word awesome sometimes to describe God. A popular Christian song right now is "Our God is an Awesome God".
My dictionary says the word awesome means "a mixed feeling of reverence, fear, and wonder.......caused by being noble, exalted, and majestic......."
Good description of God, but me?
God gently reminded me that I am His Child and that is how HE sees me:  "awesome"!
That is how He sees you!!
Sometimes I forget who I am and what I possess; sometimes I forget who you are and all the wonderful things you possess. Thanks to Kim.......and to God.......I am reminded.
When you finish reading this Karen's Korner, say to yourself or out loud several times,
"God, you are so awesome!"
"Thank you, God, that you think I am awesome!"
"I am an awesome person, God says so!"
Dear God, Thank you for your presence in each one of our lives. Thank you that you think higher thoughts about each one of us than we have a tendency to think of ourselves. You are Love. You are Light. You are Power. You are so many other things and because You are, you can pass along these gifts to each one of us. Thanks for being awesome.........and for thinking the same way about each of us. We certainly don't deserve it, but that's part of our inheritance. Thank you. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Printable Issue 770  Today is Friday, March 31st, 2006; Karen's Korner #770
Thanks to Jeanne Russell for this poem. For the Lenten season, our church is studying "Seeing the Unseen Christ". This could be what Christ looks like to you and to me:
I saw Jesus last week. 
He was wearing blue jeans and an old shirt. 
He was up at the church building. 
He was alone and working hard. 
For just a minute 
He looked like one of our members, 
but it was Jesus, 
I could tell by his smile. 
I saw Jesus last Sunday. 
He was teaching a Bible class. 
He didn't talk real loud or use long words, 
But you could tell he believed what he said. 
For just a minute 
He looked like my Sunday School teacher, 
But it was Jesus, 
I could tell by his loving voice. 
I saw Jesus yesterday. 
He was at the hospital visiting 
A friend who was sick. 
They prayed together quietly. 
For just a minute 
He looked like my preacher, 
But it was Jesus, 
I could tell by the tears in his eyes. 
I saw Jesus the other day, 
He was bringing a covered dish over to me 
Because I had been sick. 
Just for a minute 
I thought it was in my sweet neighbor's 
Gentle hands stroking my shoulder, 
But it was Jesus, 
I could feel him in my soul. 
I saw Jesus this morning. 
He was in the kitchen making my breakfast 
And fixing me a special lunch. 
For just a minute 
He looked like my Mom, 
But it was Jesus, 
I could feel the love from his heart. 
I see Jesus everywhere, 
Taking food to the sick, 
Being friendly to a newcomer, 
And for just a minute 
I think he's someone I know, 
But it's always Jesus, 
I can tell by the way He serves. 
May someone see Jesus in me today 

Friends come and Friends go, 
but a true friend sticks by you like Family. 
     ~~  Proverbs 18:24