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.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Orange Crush

First Published April 20, 2018
 
There is a freeway interchange in Orange County, CA where Interstate Highway 5, California State Route 57, and California State Route 22 intersect. I first navigated this nightmare around 1977 on my way from college to the north to a hair modeling gig (another story for another time) at a hair products show at Fashion Island, Newport Beach to the south. The traffic was bad.  The accidents were bad. The confusing signs were bad. My headache was bad.

A year later when my then boyfriend Jeff planned to drive us to a Kappa Mu Epsilon Math Society party at Newport Beach, I related my horrifying experience. “Oh, you can easily bypass the Orange Crush!” he said. The what?
***
One of biggest problems I have with reading scripture inside and outside of the Bible is the context. The impact of the words at that moment may be squelched by my need to find out the “who, what, why, where, and how” surrounding the verse. But that’s those are important details for truly understanding scripture.

How can we understand God’s word better? The solution is simple. We just need to be consistent in reading, asking questions, listening, praying, and doing.  The real stinger word is “consistent,” and the Bible addresses this.

My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. Psalm 49:3. Reading and listening to God’s word will give results.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 is also wisdom for us as children of the word. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

We can gain understanding of the scriptures. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

There are many references that address understanding scripture.  We need to stay diligent, focused, and opened to continually learning.
***
The Orange Crush is the name of where the I-5, Orange, and Garden Grove, freeways cross,” Jeff continued. I thought he was talking about the popular soda pop. I knew about the tasty Nehi Company product, but I hadn’t driven around Southern California much and didn’t know about the nick name given to the tangled mess of roadways also called the Orange Crush.
***
Lord, you know that I truly desire to understand your Word.  Help me to be consistent in study, clear in asking questions, quick to listen to wisdom, strong in communing with you, and confident in doing your will.  Thank you for those in my life who teach your precepts.  They hold a torch for your truth.  Thank you for your son, Jesus, who died on the cross that I may find peace and salvation.  Amen.


Copyright 2018 by Karen E. Vaughn

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Belated Pi-Day Chuckles


Fun Facts    Mag-pi : an irrational bird.
Pi-ano: a transcendental musical instrument.
Pi-ca: font type π in height.
pi-man Lambert:       Used a tan-ed pi.  Very irrational!
American Pi: 3.14… stars
: It was transcendental!
Fruit pi: fig, a plum, a peach, raspberry,…
Pi’d Piper:

Pi-thon: official Pi-Day mascot

Mrs. Vaughn’s Pneumonic – Now, I wish I could blackbelt my number facts and learn concepts acceptably

Inner Beauty


First Published October 11, 2017
                                               

Galatians 5:22-23(NKJV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.
***
Recently a dear lady was laid to rest after a short, but very intense bout with cancer.  The ceremony was beautiful with hundreds gathered, mourning the loss of Susie. Several multi-story windows in the church allowed us to gaze into the blue sky with mingling billowing clouds, and an occasional soaring bird. Truly it seemed like a heaven-sent picture.

Later on during her Celebration of Life gathering, friends and family lined up to say a few words about the life of beloved Susie; a life characterized by her dedication to her husband and children, her community and charity work, and her hobbies.  One common thread emerged: Susie exuded inner beauty unlike many had ever encountered in a person.  She was kind, good-natured, joyous, …the very list of the Fruit of the Spirit.

No one disagreed. She was remarkable and the loss was so painful.  But what I didn’t see in the nearly 33 years that I knew her was that there were two main things that contributed to her inner beauty. The first thing was a given: her faith in God and Jesus Christ. Only by Heaven’s Grace could she pray for others, help others, be compassionate for others, accept others, and be joyous through tough times.

Secondly, Susie’s Fruit did not appear from feeding on the mishaps of others, but rather that fruit sought to plant seeds, to allow all that knew her to continue to grow in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And this is what I learned from her absence. By His Grace I entered into faith, and by my life I can grow in spiritual maturity, planting the seeds from the Fruit of the Spirit.  That’s Inner Beauty.
***
Dear Lord, Thank you for the moments that I had with Susie and the lessons of faith reignited in my heart.  I pray that my life will grow in the Spirit and that others will see you as the seeds of that fruit nature.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Luke 10:27

“Love is like pi – natural, irrational, and very important.” - Lisa Hoffman

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Go Kim!

And who should I see on the cover of the latest issue of CRPA Firing Line, which arrived last week, but my former Trig student, Kim Rhode!  It was an honor to have such a hard working student.  You Go Mommy! Mas Oro!!!






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

Onomatopoeia

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