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.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Risen Indeed!


First Published 4/14/17
Matthew 28:6
He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.

Last summer I heard a recorded 2013 sermon by Tim Martin of Covenant Community Church entitled “She is Risen.” Yup, like you, this caught my attention. I even thought a typo had been made. I listened…

Tim began this Easter sermon by exclaiming, “He is risen!” The congregation responded with, “He is risen, indeed!” Next Tim declared, “She is risen!” to which you could hear a lone voice question, “She is risen, indeed?”

The point of this message was to show us that Christianity has spent too much time in “me” mode.  What can the Christ do for me?  What prayers will God answer through Christ for me?  Me. Me. Me. We have lost sight of the big picture, the church in Jesus Christ.

With the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb, the church was re-established to include the adopted believers who profess him Lord and Savior.  He did this for his “bride”. As an analogy Paul describes this relationship in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:24-27
… 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.
***
So Church, do we act like we are cleansed? Do we present ourselves as the bride of Christ? This Easter, let us recognize the wonderful resurrection that allowed us to reconcile with God and that allowed the church collectively to rise!  This is our One Foundation. She is risen, indeed!

The Church’s One Foundation
The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation by water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.

                                                                                                                                                  S.J. Stone 
Copyright 2017 by Karen Vaughn


Friday, March 03, 2017

Circles of Blessings

First Published March 3, 2017

As March has arrived, I am reminded that Journey Christian Devotions is having an anniversary and the fact that I’m frequently asked, “How do you write a devotional?” I hesitate to answer since honestly, I didn’t like writing when I was a grade school girl.  More so, I didn’t particularly like writing in journals.  I’d write an entry like, “I got up today and went to school.”  Sounds quite boring, huh? And, today I write, even bits and pieces of ideas, more than I could have previously imagined.

Upon reflecting back to those “I hate to write” days, I can only attribute my current interest to the grace of God.  He knows my limitations and desires, and he knew that I needed more time than some to be able to communicate in writing.

The next question to typically come around is, “How do you pick what to write about?” Well, the simple answer is that life experiences can dictate the subject matter.  My last piece to come out dealt with my impending entry into grandmother-hood and the Biblical references to that responsibility. The more complex answer is that when I feel compelled to share something that has significantly changed me, that’s when I write. But why is that so complex?

In sociology there is a way to diagram relationships through the use of concentric circles. These can also be used to reflect a person’s influence on these relationships.  Consider concentric circles to diagram what I call one’s circles of blessings.  These would be the influence that your spiritual life experiences have on others related to you.

For instance, in the first circle of my relationships are my husband, and my children.  In the next circle I have close friends and family.  Thirdly, I have frequent friends and coworkers.  In the next circle I have acquaintances, and so on.  Now, if I want to share about a blessing, something in my life that I’m compelled to write about, I typically write down some key words, a Bible verse, or thought.  Next, I consider how far reaching a devotional would be. Should I pray silently in private, thanking the Lord for this wonderful blessing like Jesus’ mother, Mary did?  Or, should I “shout” it aloud reaching a global audience like the angels announcing Jesus’ birth?

Once I decide to continue writing, I try to do so in bits and pieces, perhaps creating several drafts.  I’m simply not skilled enough to write in one sitting. As I near a finished work, I read it out loud to ensure a steady flow and to try and catch any more grammatical errors.  Still, this may not be submitted.  I have twice as many devotions written as I have submitted. Finally, I send a file to George Bragg and wait for a response, a needed revision or acceptance.

***
Dear God, writing and sharing is truly a gift that could only come from you.  Thank you for the opportunities to reflect the abundant blessings you have bestowed upon me, and I pray that others will in turn be blessed. 

Copyright 2017 by Karen Vaughn



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Simple Christmas

First Published     December 16, 2016
                                            
It recently dawned on me that I’ve celebrated quite a number of Christmases and that I’ve nearly exhausted all celebration ideas including 18th century English, silver and green, “Fleece on Earth” with lambs, “Wise Guys” with Cabbage Patch Dolls, Santa bears, Let It Snowmen, All Nativity, and All Music.  I was racking my brain trying to figure a way to top last year’s decorations.

The more I looked for that fabulous new tree ornament (retro, modern, broken, personalized?), the more I felt no need for the tree. As I scan lighting ideas online (multi-colors, one color, synchronized with music, icicles, projector light show?), I had a sinking feeling of no fulfillment.  It seemed that no amount of glitz, animation, colors, or music would make me excited about Christmas 2016.  I prayed.

 Dear Lord, I’ve lost the wonderment of Christmas. What is missing? How do I make this season celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ special? What do I do it to regain that simple Christmas joy?

***
Jesus
Others
You

***

I’m certain God grins each time we, his children, answer our own request.  And I didn’t even have to ponder whether the answer was an over-used cliché or a truth that needed to be shouted world-wide. I just needed to keep it simple and JOY-ful!
***

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing
-Issac Watts


Merry Christmas!

“Nana K” Vaughn

Copyright 2016, Karen Vaughn

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