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, September 17, 2017

Viewing the eclipse in Rigby, Idaho

Photo Courtesy of Rob Dueck

In Search of Blessings

First Published September 5, 2017

Ephesians 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in the heavenly realm with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Recently a friend questioned getting any blessings from God.  Well, I thought, we are assured that God has blessings for us.  But how could I convince my friend that blessings are real and are abundant? I returned to my Bible.

Matthew 6:6
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Wonderful.  Try explaining this verse to a toddler.  Or, try explaining it to yourself.  Ah-ha!  It’s like eating a steak in one gulp. It’s a difficult quest. How do we fix our eyes on something unseen? Oh boy, I’m raising more questions than are getting answered.

But really, there must be some blessings that we can’t physically experience.  After all, we have unseen entities like the wind, electricity, gravity, radio waves, micro waves, etc. that we can’t see, yet are there.  And our belief in these started out small. So, our faith in the existence of blessings must also start small and consistent.

So let’s try putting all this into practice. In your evening prayer time, include praising the Lord for a small blessing from your day. Really explain the blessing and allow the Holy Spirit to deepen your thankfulness.  You will be amazed at how quickly more blessings will come to mind.


Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings that sharing through this devotion series brings to my heart.  I have developed friendships that I would otherwise not have and I cherish the comments and words of encouragement.  It is only from you that these blessings originate, from your infinite love for me, your child. Please Lord, help me to recognize each night that through the sacrifice of your son, Jesus on the Cross, I am truly, truly blessed.  Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Karen Vaughn


First Published August 18, 2017

During a family gathering, among various conversations, the topic of onomatopoeia came up.

Pow! Bang! Burp! Uh-oh! Zowie! Ker-ching! Onomatopoeia is a word that demonstrates its meaning when spoken, imitating its natural sounds, like the aforementioned exclamations. When I was little I first heard this word when watching the Three Stooges vignette where Moe, Larry, and Curly diagnose a “patient’s” condition as “onomatopoeia!” It’s still funny. So, after the family gathering I tried to think of those self-defining words frequently found in the Bible.  This sounded like fun! Hallelujah!

Um…(awkward silence)…”hallelujah” was the only word I found.  But, that is really a Hebrew word. Hm.  Upon further investigation, I learned that the Hebrew text often contained onomatopoeia.  Here are a few I found.
They slip by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops on its prey. Job 9:26

The Hebrew word for “swoops” is tus’, which sounds like the motion of the eagle (or peregrine falcon) when it swoops on its prey at an amazing high speed.

Thus says the Lord, “Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests.  Jeremiah 19:1

In this example, the Hebrew word for “earthenware (clay) jar” is baqbuq, mimicking the sound of water gurgling out of a jar.

(Roy B. Zuck. Basic Hebrew Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth.)
In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.  Isaiah 14:29

Zevuv is the Biblical Hebrew word for a fly which imitates the insect’s sound.
Fascinating, isn’t it? And there’s more to study.  The Biblical Hebrew scholars discuss how these words changed on their way to becoming Modern Hebrew, how combinations of words (like compound words in English) created new words, and how insight to the study of Biblical linguistics can help understand how the original audiences interpreted the scriptures. Awesome!

Obviously my measly investigation barely scratched the surface, but God’s word has new structural meaning to me!  Perhaps you might pick a verbs or nouns from the Old Testament and search for the Hebrew equivalents to discover onomatopoeia.  Pqh!!


Abba, thank you for embedding meaning to the spoken word.  Be with me as I discover and share your truth through the structure and words of Hebrew. Amen.

Copyright 2017, by Karen Vaughn

Friday, June 23, 2017

Down the Road

First Published June 23, 2017

Proverbs 16:16
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Recently my son Reuben shared with me that as a child he hated listening to classical music.  He hated how corny and old fashioned it sounded.  Squeaky. Blah. Pointless.  Boooooring.

One of the reasons we as parents take our children to Sunday school, have family devotion time, sing hymns and spiritual songs is to instill at an early age the importance of God and his son, Jesus. You can have the assurance that later God will be there for you in any circumstance.

Joshua 1:5b
Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

The issue with teaching and learning is that it takes time and money, because time is money. Time outside of a normal work week to do extra learning is rough. One must plan ahead of time to get the family up early for church, make sure the youngsters have their scripture verses memorized, and don’t lose their offering.  Then after class, Mom and Dad recap and ask the little ones about what they learned and the craft that they made.  All of this is so that when the time is right they can say, “You learned about this in Sunday School.  Do you remember what the Bible says about this?” Whew, I’m tired just writing about it!

But, the lessons learned at an early age are going to be there when Mom and Dad are not around.  It is during these moments that having the Word of God in your heart is most important.  When teens are out on the road with their brand new driver’s license, God’s word is still there.  When high school graduates are headed to college, God’s word is still there.  When moving away for the first “real” job, God’s word is still there.  Down the road, God’s word is still there.

So, parents, parents-to-be, and children of all ages, earnestly learn, teach, and cling to the Word of God. When others fail, God’s word will still be there.

Hebrews 1:3a
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,
Sustaining all things by his powerful word…
The next time Reuben was in my car I reached for the radio button to change from the classical music station.  “Oh no,” he said, “I like classical music.  There’s a lot to learn from it. It’s soothing and the notes tell interesting stories…”

Oh Majestic God, thank you for my parents who instilled in me a love and appreciation of music; and a thirst for learning and reading Your Word. May that yearning never cease, but increase each and every day.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Copyright 2017 by Karen Vaughn

Anniversary Flight

Jeff piloted us to Camarillo (KCMA) to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary.  We had a scrumptious lunch at Waypoint Cafe as well as a great time at the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Museum.

In His Presence

First Published May 19, 2017

One of the greatest things I experience as a parent is being in the presence of my children.  I like basking in their energy, watching them in a fierce game of “Uno!”  They talk and it’s a joy to listen to them.  They sing and I’m lost in beautiful music.  I laugh at the funny stories and cry when they share sadness.  God also wants to be with his children.
Joshua 1:5b
Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you;
I will not fail you or forsake you.
Growing up as a child, my father’s business demanded long hours of him away from home from Monday through Friday.  The same thing happened on the weekend, except us kids worked at the store too.  Just by being in Dad’s presence I learned about working with the public.   At six years old I learned how to make change. There is an art to stocking shelves.  I watched and learned. Some years later I learned about inventory and ordering products.  Even as a young teen I was taught about revenue and accounting.  Dad taught me to drive the truck and pick up wholesale orders. It was hard work, but I like being around my Dad, watching and learning.  God also wants us to watch and learn.
Proverbs 16:16
How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.
Well, if God wants to be in our lives and we want to be in God’s presence, how do we get this done?

1. Be in His presence through prayer. Matthew 6:9-13 (Lord’s Prayer)
2. Be in His Presence through corporate worship: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (We are God’s temple)
3. Be in His Presence through word and deed. James 1:22, Matthew 5:16 (Doers versus Hearers).

Let’s enter into God’s presence, reflecting His Light of Hope!


Dear Father God, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to watch and learn from my Dad. I also want to watch and learn from you, to be in your presence always.  Please help me to focus on doing this through prayer, worship, and action.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Copyright 2017 by Karen Vaughn

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?



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.