Karen's Devotions

This is a selected collection of my devotions e-published on Daily Devotions, Journey Christian Church, Irvine, California; George Bragg, Editor. To join the mailing list, email George, gbragg@cox.net.

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As a 25+ year homeschooling vet, post-cancer, math prof, mother of five, master's track and field athlete, and certificated private pilot, I have a lot to share about what God has done in my life. In 2000 I began writing devotions as something to try when it seemed like accoustic pianists were becoming an endangered species at church. I have since found great blessings from writing and sharing. God is good.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Fibonacci Day! Belated

a_0 = 1;
a_1 = 1;
a_2 = a_0 + a_1 = 2;
a_3 = a_1 + a_2 = 3;
a_4 = a_2 + a_3 = 5;

a_k = a_{k-2} + a_{k-1} = [5-sqrt(5)]/10*[1/2-sqrt(5)/2]^k + [5+sqrt(5)]/10*[1/2+sqrt(5)/2]^k

First Thanksgiving

First Published November 22, 2016
                                                    
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
***
Every fourth Thursday in November in the United States, millions of people celebrate Thanksgiving, This tradition began in 1621, 395 years ago. The colonists, having left Plymouth, England on the Mayflower ship a year earlier, had endured a harsh first winter, losing half of passengers by the first March.

One of the first Native Indians, Squanto, of the Pawtuxet tribe, helped the settlers learn how to cultivate corn, extract maple sap, catch fish in the rivers, and recognize poisonous plants.  He also had even earlier, been kidnapped by an English sea captain, sold into slavery, and then he escaped back to America via a sailing vessel.  And yet he helped the suffering settlers. Doesn’t this sound like another person in the Bible we’ve heard about?

In Genesis we can read about Jacob’s son Joseph, the brothers selling him into slavery, and his false imprisonment courtesy of his boss’s wife. While in jail Joseph interprets several inmates’ dreams, but was forgotten for two years before Pharaoh’s wine taster remembered him and told the king about Joseph’s good deeds.

Joseph, model prisoner, interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, was pardoned and given the position of CEO of Egypt.  He oversaw all the preparations to keep the country safe during the prophesied seven years of famine.  He was so efficient that rulers from neighboring lands, including his brothers, came to him for help. And after all that he endured, Joseph helped.

***
But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth
and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Genesis 45:7

***
This Thanksgiving, let’s not only express our gratitude to our mighty God for the year’s bounty, but also let us recognize the people, like Squanto and Joseph, who found healing and divine purpose doing the work of God set before them.


Dear God, this is the time when, as a nation, we give thanks for the bountiful blessings that we have.  Help us to never forget to whom gratitude is due, and the people, instruments of your mercy and grace that are messengers of those blessings.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Copyright 2016 by Karen Vaughn

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sliver of Wisdom

First published Oct. 19, 2016

Proverbs 3:21
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion

A couple of nights ago I was doing a craft project with wooden skewers.  I snapped one in half and was surprised by a sharp pain in my finger.  A sliver of wood dug into my skin. Ouch.  I then considered my options about this little annoying thing.

I could do nothing in hopes that the discomfort would not increase and an infection would not develop.  Better yet, it could eventually work its way out on its own, and my problem would have solved itself.

I could rely on my own expertise and try to remove the sliver myself. That would shorten the time I would have enduring the pain, but my success rate with removing slivers is actually low.  I’d run the risk of breaking off part of the wood, or pushing it deeper into my flesh.

My third option was to get help from someone who could properly remove the sliver. I wisely chose my daughter Heather to help me out.
***

Interesting how committing a sin seems easy compared to dealing with its consequences.  I’m not talking about covering up the effects of our sin, but I think there are several issues that we must consider when we commit sinful acts and thoughts.

The first issue is restitution. A given for New Testament Believers is that we confess our sinfulness, ask for forgiveness.  But many of us think that’s enough.  In fact, how many of us were taught or teach to our children to say, “I’m sorry,” then just walk away?  Seriously, we need to ask God for guidance to find the right path in reconciling with the people whom we have harmed. And surprise! Restoring takes time and effort. 

And what about doing nothing about sin, hoping the guilt (in any form) will go away? NOT. Okay, let’s just pray for divine intervention.  After all, God is merciful and gracious, but he is not a fix-it handyman to be implemented at our every whim. 

Secondly, though self-reliance is a sign of confidence in our Christian walk, we should have the right attitude to do the right thing. Good seeds produce good fruit.

***
Psalm 25:9

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Another Birthday!

October 6th is my 2428th prime birthday!
I will be 21613 days old.

Box of Colors


First Published October 5, 2016

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,

correcting and training in righteousness



When I was in Kindergarten I remember getting a box of 8 large Crayola ® Crayons. I liked staring at the array of choices with which I could “color my world.”  I also learned the names and spellings of the colors: black, violet, blue, green, red, orange, yellow, and brown.



In First Grade I got another box of 8 crayons, but this time, they were smaller, to match my better dexterity.  I now could concentrate on finer lines and more detail in my coloring projects.



When I received my box of 16 crayons I was ecstatic! I could now use new colors carnation pink, blue green, blue violet, red orange, red violet, white, yellow green, and yellow orange. I felt so much more mature being able to express myself using a wide range of colors.  It also became more confusing to discuss colors with others.  Did orange mean orange, yellow orange, or red orange?



By the time I received a box of 24 crayons in sixth grade, I wasn’t doing much coloring, but I was awestruck over the new colors.  But still, that wasn’t the end. Crayola had the 48 and 64 count boxes with incredible colors like Orchid, Olive, and Magenta.



And still, as exciting as I was to be able to describe my visual thoughts using so many colors and combinations of colors, there was increasing problems of using these colors in conversation.  I remember someone insisting that there was no such thing as the color “olive.”



My point is that some of scripture is broad based like “God is love” (I John 4:16b).  Other verses are more precise like “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (I John 4:8).



We should expand our “crayon box” by reading and studying the scriptures. This allows us to keeping in mind that some are simple with a wide range of interpretation, while others are more specific. Today, can we think about explaining the Good News simplistically with three “crayons”?  Can we also expand our palette to include more “colors” and more detail?  Let’s try it!



Thank you God, for the wonderful colors you have given us in this world!  Help us to realize the simplicity of the primary colors of the Gospel as well as the intricate hues of your Word.  Also Lord, please give me the patience and understanding to accept the simple three-color verses as well as the enriched multicolor words inspired by you. I humbly ask this in your Son Jesus’ name, amen.

Copyright 2016, Karen Vaughn

TopTen Reasons NASA Should Choose Me As An Astronaut Candidate


10.         I’ve wanted to be an astronaut since I was nine years old.

9.           I’m a well-rounded person with accomplishments in sports, craft arts, and writing.

8.           I’m an active member of aviation organizations.

7.           I have a private pilot’s license with over 180 hours flight hours.

6.           I have a current 2nd class FAA medical certificate.

5.           I have over 40 years teaching Mathematics at the university level as a member of the Cal Poly Pomona faculty in excellent standing.

4.           I have a B.S. and M.S. in mathematics.

3.           I am a 27 year cancer survivor.

2.           I have stable family and friendship relationships.

1.  (Drum roll please)     I have the (off the chart) bone density of adult males half my age!
  Karen in the left seat on SOFIA!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful-List

First Published 11/23/15
 

                                          

Proverb 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

***

As I get older, the longer my Thankful-List becomes.  More and more people and circumstances are integral in encouraging me, comforting me, helping me, teaching me, and blessing me. God has done amazing things and I am grateful to the Almighty Creator.

 

There are, though, some important elements of this process leading to thankfulness…trust and faith based on that trust.  Really, this is a big issue.

 

If we are having a tough time being thankful, back up.  Let’s look at trust.  Trusting something is based on evidence.  Ok, you might be thinking this is a cyclic pattern of trust based on thankfulness based on trust, and so forth.  You can observe or read about the trust others have in God. All you have to do is look for it.

 

In the category of hymn writers, there are hundreds of stories of faith. Fanny Crosby,  …just to name a few.  These stories are powerful.  But if you need evidence from the Here and Now, ask your pastor, Sunday school teacher, or Senior Saint to point out a Sister or Brother in Christ who has a story of faith. Listen and be empowered.

 

Now, we need to look deeply into our own lives.  Recognize that we do have our own stories of faith.  Yes, little ol’ us. We can be assured (trust) that God is working in our lives.  We can be thankful. We can create our Thankful-List.

 

Colossian 2:6-8

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught,

abounding in it with thanksgiving.

 

***

Dear God on High, When I think my thankful-list is short, help me to listen to the testimony of others, help me to look at my life and increase my trust in You, help me solidify my faith that You will allow people, as instruments of your truth, to do amazing things.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
 
Copyright 2015 by Karen Vaughn

Friday, October 09, 2015

Do-Overs


First Published September 3, 2014


Psalm 51:10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

My flight lesson was cancelled due to weather (Southern Californian June-Gloom). So, I did some errands, had lunch with my hubby, crocheted some, did some Sudoku puzzles, did some yard work, watched some reruns with my daughter, did a load of laundry, fixed dinner, caught up (almost) with my Bible reading, and yakked on the phone. Ready to sleep and almost in Dreamland, I faintly heard my hubby Jeff ask if I paid a bill that day as I had promised. What? Oh NOOOOOO!

It was too late. There would be a penalty for a late payment. What was done (or not done) was done.
***
The wonderful thing about Jehovah God is that through his son Jesus, we are forgiven for our sins. Still, here on earth, we are expected to pay retribution for errors. I think the wrong approach is to expect to be forgiven from earthly victims of our mistakes. Instead, accept the consequences and ask the Lord to help you get through your punishment. That’s were God’s work is most evident in our lives.

***
Lord, I’m so sorry that I forgot about the bill. I am nervous about the consequences of my error. Please engulf me with your Spirit to erase my fears, yet also give me strength to face to penalty. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

Jeff called the billing company. As it turned out, this bill was due during the weekend, and they had a grace period that allowed me to get the bill paid for without penalty on Monday.
***
Today’s verse is one of my favorites. Through God’s plan, I am renewed. I can have a spiritual do-over in my relationship with the Father. “And” He gives me strength to get through the earthly consequences of my actions. If you know the familiar tune paired with this scripture, I encourage you to sing it to someone today. Let them know what it means daily to have Jesus as your Savior.

Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

Lost: The Five C's

First Published August 15, 2014


With the incredible amount of technology available today, pilots can still get lost. Equipment failure, unfamiliar terrain, disorientation, clouds and mist, and human error are all ways that can contribute to a pilot getting lost. The acronym to help remember a wise procedure for getting found is called the “Five C’s.”

Psalms 46:10
Cease striving and know that I am God.

CALM – Realize that you are not going in the correct direction. Be Still. You are lost, but you know what to do…
***
Proverbs 3:7
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

CLIMB – Get to a better vantage point so you can see the situation.
***
Matthew 6:9
“Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, Hollowed be Your name.”


COMMUNICATE – Transmit who you are (plane identifier) and last known position to ATC (Air Traffic Control).
***
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

CONFESS – Admit your predicament.
***
Mark 8:34
…And (He) said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

COMPLY – Follow the instructions from the air traffic authority.
***
Thank you Lord, acronyms and mnemonic devices help me to remember your wisdom. I pray they are much more than just cute little sayings; that when I become lost, they will help me physically and spiritually to become found again.

Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

In(side-Out)struction

                                                      First Published June 16, 2014 
                                                              
  
Proverbs 4:2 
For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. 

I was up early to get ready for work and took a peek into the back yard.  Oh no, the water was left on all night. I gasped and ran downstairs and out the back door.  The faucet was stuck full on, so I deduced that my son Reuben thought he had turned the water off. Being in a rush to help with future situations, I scribbled a note and tacked it on his bedroom door: 

“FYI: Lefty Loosey; Righty Tighty 

Late that night when Reuben got home, I asked if he got my message.  “Sure.  I didn’t understand what it meant!” 

Ever since I started to read my first Bible given to me as a little girl by my mother, I have encountered verses that confound me.  It seemed like the more I studied the Scriptures, the more confused I became.  It took time, God’s time, for me to understand some (and I emphasize SOME) of the Scriptures.  But still, it would be nice to have a user’s manual for the Bible! 

*** 
“Well, it means that to loosen or turn on a faucet, go left. To tighten or turn it off, go right.”  “Okay, whatever.” 

You’d think that being in the education business I’d know what it takes to understand the written word. But when it comes to the Bible, God has his own ideas.  So sometimes I have to have the scripture thrown directly at me in the form of a life lesson to understand it. Or maybe I’ll never understand it. 
*** 
“I was giving you a mnemonic device to help you remember how to turn off the water. You left it on last night and the patio got flooded.”  “Ohhh. Why didn’t you just say so?” 

Lord, I know your ways are not my ways.  But your teaching is good and just.  Your Bible is what I can trust to live by.  I try to listen, study, pray, and learn.  But, it’s tough sometimes to understand you.  Please help me be patient and to open my eyes wide when the time is right.   
*** 
Why didn’t I just say so?  Because MY lesson hadn’t yet been learned. The next night I left the water running and flooded the pool! 

Let us continue to seek answers; continue to pray; continue to live God’s wisdom; and continue to learn.
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn


Thursday, September 17, 2015

I'm a Private Pilot!

Thank you family and friends for your prayers. I shall get back to posting devotions soon.

 
Here's a pic of me holding the temporary certificate.

9/16/15 @ KRAL

Monday, May 12, 2014

Momma-tudes


First Published May 9, 2014


Mother’s Day brings back to mind some of the “momma-tude” gems of wisdom that my mother, Christine taught me.

****

“Homework is given for a reason.”

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:5-7

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“Eat your peas.”

 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.”

Isaiah 55:2

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Silence…with “The Look.”
 

[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness…

I Corinthians 13:6

 
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Long, hard, hugs.
 

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

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“Sit up straight!”
 

For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.

Psalm 11:7

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“Wash behind your ears.”
 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

The Anatomy of a Cheerful Giver

First Published April 14, 2014


2 Corinthians 9:7


 
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

A giver is the opposite of a taker, bestowing outwardly rather snatching up for oneself. Today’s verse diagrams the anatomy of a cheerful giver.  This short verse explains the elements a giver.

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 Giving begins with a clear purpose and focus.  It must be such a determination that the path to giving is the most direct, hence the most effective.  But, for some of us that desire is not strong.  This is where prayer comes in.  Ask the Lord to remind you of the people who gave, so that your life was enriched.  Maybe someone gave you money when funds were short.  Maybe someone helped you when you didn’t know help was needed.  Your faith as a giver will grow because you remembered someone else who gave to you.

 Tax-time is around the corner and I truly don’t know anyone who likes paying taxes. We grumble about it not being fair (grudgingly) and that we have to do it (under compulsion).  The willingness to give of our time, money, and talents is not contingent on only these two attitudes, however.  If we give solely out of duty or expected return, we are also grumbling or feeling forced into it. Again, we can get a better perspective by thinking back on how someone else gave to you.  They were compassionate and anxious to give freely and willingly.  And again, if that burning desire to give is missing, plead with the Lord to remove those feelings of compulsion, duty, and expected return.  Ask him to remove your grumbling and fill you with a pure sense of desire to give.

Being cheerful has two components. One part is happiness, the state of being satisfied.  When your physical hunger has been met with delicious and filling food, you are happy. Ahhh. Another component of cheerfulness is the high energy level.  This might seem a bit extreme, until you consider how God gave.  The angels sang at the birth of Jesus.  The ground shook upon the death of Jesus.  The heavens opened upon the ascension of Jesus.  I call that high energy.
 

 Now, you might have noticed that as we’ve been discussing today’s passage, we keep returning to the receiver’s perspective.  Yup, we can understand giving by understanding the receiving end. Wow!  Today let’s study this verse in depth and seriously.  Let’s strive to become God’s givers.

 
****

Dear Lord,  There are so many who gave to me just as Paul’s letter to the Corinthians described.  I want to be a determined giver.  I want to be a compassionate giver.  I want to be an energetically satisfied giver.  Please help me see how to be a cheerful giver, so that others may see you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

Quality Versus Quantity


First Published March 31, 2014
 
A few years ago, I ran into a family from my old church.  I asked the Mom how her family was doing and found out that they no longer worshiped at the old church.  I suggested they visit my present church, inviting them to the Easter Service.  The Mom asked cautiously how big my church was.  Well, of course that was a relative question, and begged to be answered with another question.  “How big is “big?”  She didn’t like any bigger than our old church.  Hm, I think the average attendance was about 100 people.  So, I guessed that my church of 200 people was too big. 


She explained the benefits of a small church: A preacher that knew your name, personalized Bible classes for the children, manageable expenses, a neighborhood minded focus of evangelizing people.  Big churches, she claimed, only cared about big splashy projects and big money. I agreed that was a serious temptation, but that churches with larger budgets are able to support entire missionary families, sponsor scholarships for college, and be a visible presence in the community. 


We ended up agreeing that the issue was quality versus quantity.  Any sized church lacking wisdom would not find favor with God.

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Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

****

When reading today’s verse, one cannot help but think of exuberance and excellence.  Paul wrote this last portion of his letter to the Christians of Philippi as part of a final sendoff of encouragement. What he described was Christ’s life.  We are to seek and live a life that is good and rich; one of excellence; no matter the size of our church.

 
Father, I exhort you! Thank you for the words of your servant Paul.  Help us to strive for excellence as he described to the Philippians.  Let your church of any size be worthy of praise! Amen.
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

In the Presence of Royalty

First Published March 17, 2014


John 14:6

I am the way, and the truth, and the light; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

****
I seldom have been in the presence of a great person, but one such instance I can remember vividly.  When I was a teen, I was part of an education tour through Europe.  The students and counselors, all from the same school district, totaled about 20.  While touring Copenhagen, Denmark, we were granted a brief audience with one of the princesses of the king. We had to stand at a great distance in a courtyard while the docent/guide spoke to the princess’ aide.  In turn, the aide spoke to the princess and she nodded.  The guide returned to where we standing and told us to wave at the princess.  She acknowledged by again nodding.  Wow, a real live princess took notice of us. It was a goose-bump moment.


Jesus, the Christ, is our intermediary to God, creator of the universe.  Authority has been given to him not only to represent God to us, but to speak to him on our behalf. Our sinful life prevents us from being in God’s presence, but Christ’s shed blood on the cross allows for him to intervene.  Christ can testify for us that we have put our faith in the Plan of Salvation so that God’s judgment of eternal separation vanishes.

 
This is for us as individuals, and as a body of believers…


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Ephesians 5:25b-27

Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

****

Though my “moment with royalty” was ever so slight, I better understand Jesus’ purpose in my life and as part of his church. Today, let’s pray using John 14:6 that we never forget that Jesus is the only way through which we can stand before God.


Dear Lord God, I approach you with Your Son Jesus as my intermediary. Help me always to lean on your promises.  In Christ’s name, amen

Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn