Pause and think about it!

It happened to me at the Tomb in Jerusalem

After walking through the empty tomb at Calvary, we followed the path up to the park benches and sat down with others to discuss what we had seen and await the communion service we would soon experience together.

Throughout my time in Israel, I had been thinking how wonderful it would have been if my late husband could have shared this experience of traveling through the Holy Land—walking through the land where Jesus walked two thousand years ago.

Then my ears perked up. Could it be? Yes; there was a group of people assembled by the open tomb singing “Fairest Lord Jesus”—in German! It was the first German I had heard in Israel, and this happened to be one of my husband’s favorite hymns. I sang along on the first verse, but by the time they began the second verse the reality of the words and the incident began to well up within the depths of my soul. This group sang all five verses in German—my husband’s native tongue.

It had been a while since my tears came gushing with this magnitude. You see, my husband is buried in the Resurrection section of the cemetery in Livonia, Michigan. Right beside his grave is a replica of the tomb with the stone rolled away and a sign reading: “He is not here; He is risen!” The German group was singing beside the open tomb—under the exact same sign. No one else in our tour group indicated they knew German. In fact, most of our people were oblivious to the singing. A few people later told me they thought the melody sounded familiar but couldn’t place it. Why? It was just for ME! That’s how much my Lord loves me!

After returning home, I shared this story with my children, and they cried with me. My daughter asked, “Mom, what day did this happen?” I thought back and realized it was Wednesday. You guessed it—April 5my husband’s birthday! But he, too, has risen and is very much alive with his Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Oh how HE loves you and me!

(c) The Alabaster Box. C. Yvonne Karl.

How could the same scent attract one person and repulse the other? I had not yet entertained such a question. As I dressed that morning, little did I know the part my favorite fragrance would play in determining my life partner. It was my first day on the job as professor in a private college. We had not yet met, but my office was across the hall from his and others had taken care to inform me that my teaching cohort was a single professor and seminarian. Based on their descriptions, I formed a mental photo of this suave gentleman and was most curious to meet him, although the thought of marriage was far from my mind at the time. As I walked through the hallway toward my office, I heard someone call my name. I turned; and there he was, not looking at all like I expected. A little shorter. A little balder. His eyes danced a greeting equivalent to his big smile and extended hand. At once, he introduced himself and asked me if I would go to dinner with him that night so we could get acquainted. Before I had a chance to respond, he verbalized a request that I not wear the fragrance emitting from my person as the very smell of it made him sick.

A great war broke out in my mind. My perfume was expensive and I liked the smell about me when I wore it. How could he not like it? Obviously I had to make an instant decision. Convincing myself that I needed to get acquainted with my fellow staff member, I accepted the invitation and promised not to wear the cologne. At dinner that night, he thanked me for responding graciously to his request and said he thought a good bath was the best perfume anyone could wear. He also let me know he would not want the woman he married to wear any fragrance. Less than three months later, he proposed marriage to me and I accepted. Giving up my favorite fragrance seemed like a small sacrifice to be his wife. I found I didn’t even miss wearing it.

Years had passed when one day I remembered how much I missed the taste of the Brussels sprouts my mother used to cook. Guests were coming for dinner and I decided to prepare the delectable treat. My husband arrived home while the sprouts were cooking and immediately demanded that I identify the putrid smell that was permeating the house. He simply could not take the pungent odor even for the short time it took the dish to cook. “Get them out of the house,” he insisted. I considered arguing, refusing, or appealing, but decided a joyful evening was more important than serving the veggie dish. I carried the Brussels sprouts outside, pan and all, and buried them in the snow. Back inside, I hurriedly put some cinnamon in the oven to absorb the smell. Yes, of course, I chaffed a bit at the thought of not enjoying this tasty dish, but I rejoiced that I had a happy husband to entertain our visitors. Buried in the snow, the smell was completely gone. The next day, I scraped them into the garbage and cleaned my pan. In retrospect, I wonder why I didn’t eat them since they were well preserved in the snow!

This was not a one-sided problem we experienced over food likes and dislikes. He liked sardines and I gagged and choked at the thought of their smell. My husband graciously agreed to eat them only in my absence.

A simple yet major principle illustrated from these experiences in our life is that different people respond differently to the same smell. In each scenario, one of us liked the fragrance and one of us didn’t. Believe it or not, these responses also hold true in spiritual matters. The same gospel message brings the fragrance of life to the believer and the fragrance of death to those who reject it.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life (2 Cor. 2:14-16).

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the above scripture, was in tune with the culture and politics of his day and often refers to public events in his epistles using them as analogies to communicate spiritual truths. He explains to the Corinthian believers how they are a fragrance liked by some and hated by others.  It is the same message with opposite responses.

An eternal fragrance

We are all putting forth an odor from our life. Is it a sweet fragrance that gives forth the love of Christ? Or is it a putrid smell revealing death? If our life has been hidden with God in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation full of the fragrance of Christ. We are a precious trophy carried by our conqueror, Jesus Christ, for all to see. He conquered us, then freed us. Now the Lord has put up His banner over us symbolizing His love for us. Those who desire life will love the fragrance. Those who despise the Lord will command us to take our banner out and bury it in the snow so they can’t see or smell it to remind them of how much they dislike it. No worry. He washed us as white as that snow. They can’t make us rid ourselves of the fragrance of Jesus in our life; we have everything to win! We will allow the fragrance of our Christian life to be smelled by all regardless of their reaction. It’s an eternal fragrance. One day, when their final battle is fought in life, those who rejected the gospel will wish they wore His fragrance. Meanwhile, we will be rejoicing in our triumphal entry into heaven with our Savior. Ah, the fragrance of victory.

Life application

Am I willing to forego my petty likes and dislikes in order to be successful in the critical relationships of my life? 


Heavenly Father, In all my relationships grant my desire to be an aroma of life. In Jesus’ name, I pray.


(c) C. Yvonne Karl –

From C. Yvonne Karl,  Brussels Sprouts in the Snow, Chapter 5, by Brentwood Press, 2003

Published by UPCI in The Vision, November 29, 2009

As often happens with newly married men, my husband gained a few pounds. Not many—just enough to make his trousers a bit uncomfortable and cause the seams to split. He assumed that I, his new wife, knew something about tailoring since I frequently sewed my own clothes. Not wanting to disappoint him, I willingly took on the task of mending the seams. 

My zeal, however, was exceeded by my ignorance. Instead of opening the seam and sewing it properly, I merely applied iron-on patches. Imagine his discomfort when he slipped into the trousers without looking at the repair job. He spent the evening trying to ignore the scratchy irritation caused by the patch. Kindly and graciously he did not comment about it until we got home.

Although the patch closed the seam temporarily, it did more harm than good causing damage to the surrounding fabric and the skin of my beloved husband. The trousers found their way to the trash can. I had looked for a quick fix and it ended in destruction. In the same way, many are throwing away the best God has for them because they don’t stop to think. They try to get around problems rather than solving them to the benefit of themselves and others.

In Luke 5:36, Jesus spoke a parable: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old” (NKJV). My own experience confirms this truth; but as I meditate and apply the basic principle to life, it begins to take on a much deeper meaning. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor.5:17,NKJV).  Patches are not allowed.

When we are born-again (John 3:3,7), we are created anew—not our outer shell called the body, but the real person that we are—our spirit. Jesus doesn’t patch up the old; He gives us a brand new start:  “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Rev.21:5,NKJV).

“You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness – righteous, holy, and true” (Eph.4:24,NLT).

In the next verse, Jesus continues:  “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Luke 5:38, NKJV).

In the New Testament world there were no college degrees in packaging. Containers as we know them today did not exist. They took animal skins, sewed them together and used them as we would use bottles and jars and plastic boxes.  As they aged, the skins would become dry and hard and eventually they cracked and liquid spilled out. If new wine was poured into the old wineskins, it would continue to ferment and the gasses would cause the wineskin to explode. Jesus told the parable and He said new wine must be put into new wineskins.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom. 12:2, NLT).

Many of our friends and relatives “act as if they are religious, but they reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Tim.3:5,NLT). They try to patch up their life in their own way—unwilling to let the power of God make them new because it might mean giving up some of their old ways of living in immorality and materialism, undisciplined in every way. At first, their ungodly attitudes and actions may be concealed from others, but soon they will become obvious. In fact, the Apostle Paul says: “You must stay away from people like that” (2 Tim.3:5b, NLT)—people like what? Those who say they’re Christians but do not live godly.

“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A NEW life has begun” (2 Cor. 5:17,TLB). That’s what it means to be “in Christ.”  Die to old way; get a fresh start. Jesus says you can’t put new wine in old wineskins because they’ll burst and the joy will fall out of your life. “Now you can really serve God; not in the old way, mechanically obeying a set of rules, but in a new way” (Rom. 7:6b-TLB) having a life and breath relationship with Jesus Christ thus allowing Him to make all things new in you.

By the way, my husband never again asked me to mend his trousers. He did it himself for the rest of his life—and he never complained about it. In the same way, we cannot expect others to take care of the problems in our life. We have the Mighty Counselor living in us, continually reminding us of our responsibility to “put off” and “put on” certain things. Scripture tells us what natural tendencies we need to put off and the spiritual attributes that must replace them. We get in trouble when we try to keep our old ways and simply patch them up with something new. We cannot put the new attribute on the old pattern. It simply won’t work. No patches allowed.

Here are some “put off…put on” admonitions:

  1. PUT OFF lovelessness, 1 Jo.4:7,8,20; PUT ON love, Jhn.15:12
  1. PUT OFF judging, Matt. 7:1,2; PUT ON God consciousness, Jhn. 8:9
  1. PUT OFF bitterness, Hbr.12:15; PUT ON tenderheartedness, Eph.4:32
  1. PUT OFF unforgiveness, Mrk.11:26; PUT ON forgiveness, Col.3:13
  1. PUT OFF selfishness, Phil.2:21; PUT ON self-denial, Jhn.12:24
  1. PUT OFF pride, Pro.16:5; PUT ON humility, Jam.4:6
  1. PUT OFF boasting, 1 Cor.4:7; PUT ON esteeming others, Phil.2:3
  1. PUT OFF stubbornness, 1 Sa.15:23; PUT ON brokenness, Rom.6:13
  1. PUT OFF disrespect for authority, Acts 23:5; PUT ON honoring authority, Hebr.13:17
  1. PUT OFF rebellion, 1 Sam.15:23; PUT ON submission, Heb.13:17
  1. PUT OFF disobedience, 1 Sam.12:15; PUT ON obedience, Deu.11:27
  1. PUT OFF impatience, Jam.1:2-4; PUT ON patience, Heb.10:36
  1. PUT OFF ungratefulness, Rom.1:21; PUT ON gratitude, Eph.5:20
  1. PUT OFF covetousness, Luke12:15; PUT ON contentment, Heb.13:5
  1. PUT OFF discontent, Heb.13:5; PUT ON contentment, 1 Tim6:8
  1. PUT OFF murmuring/complaining, Phil.2:14; PUT ON praise, Heb.13:15
  1. PUT OFF irritating others, Gal.5:26; PUT ON preferring others, Phil.2:3-4
  1. PUT OFF jealousy, Gal.5:26; PUT ON trust, 1 Cor.13:4
  1. PUT OFF strife, Pro.13:10; PUT ON peace, Jam.3:17
  1. PUT OFF retaliation, Pro.24:29; PUT ON doing good for evil, Rom.12:19-20
  1. PUT OFF losing temper, Pro.25:28; PUT ON self-control, Pro.16:32
  1. PUT OFF anger, Pro.29:22; PUT ON self-control, Gal.5:22-23
  1. PUT OFF wrath, Jam.1:19-20; PUT ON soft answer, Pro.15:1
  1. PUT OFF being easily irritated, 1 Cor.13:5; PUT ON not being easily provoked, Pro.19:11
  1. PUT OFF hatred, Matt.5:21-22; PUT ON love, 1 Cor.13:3
  1. PUT OFF murder, Exod.20:13; PUT ON love, Rom.13:10
  1. PUT OFF gossip, 1 Tim.5:13; PUT ON edifying speech, Eph.4:29
  1. PUT OFF evil speaking, Jam.4:11; PUT ON a good report, Prov.15:30
  1. PUT OFF critical spirit, Gal.5:15; PUT ON kindness, Col.3:12
  1. PUT OFF lying, Eph.4:25; PUT ON speaking truth, Zec.8:16
  1. PUT OFF profanity, Prov.4:24; PUT ON pure speech, Prov.15:4
  1. PUT OFF idle words, Matt.12:36; PUT ON bridling your tongue, Prov.21:23
  1. PUT OFF wrong motives, 1 Sam.16:7; PUT ON spiritual motives, 1 Cor.10:31
  1. PUT OFF evil thoughts, Matt.5:19-20; PUT ON pure thoughts, Phil.4:8
  1. PUT OFF complacency, Rev.3:15; PUT ON zeal, Rev.3:19
  1. PUT OFF laziness, Prov.20:4; PUT ON diligence, Prov.6:6-11
  1. PUT OFF slothfulness, Prov.18:9; PUT ON wholeheartedness, Col.3:23
  1. PUT OFF hypocrisy, Job.8:13; PUT ON sincerity, 1 Thes.2:3
  1. PUT OFF idolatry, Deu.11:6; PUT ON worship God only, Col.1:18
  1. PUT OFF leaving first love, Rev.2:4; PUT ON fervent devotion, Rev.2:5
  1. PUT OFF lack of rejoicing, Phil.4:4; PUT ON rejoicing always, 1 Thes.5:18
  1. PUT OFF worry and fear, Matt.6:25-32; PUT ON trust, 1 Pe.5:7
  1. PUT OFF unbelief, Heb.3:12; PUT ON faith, Heb.11:1,6
  1. PUT OFF unfaithfulness, Prov.25:19; PUT ON faithfulness, Luke 16:10-12
  1. PUT OFF neglect of Bible study, 2 Tim.3:14-17; PUT ON Bible study, Psa.1:2
  1. PUT OFF lack of prayer, Luk.18:1; PUT ON praying, Matt.26:41
  1. PUT OFF misuse of talents, Luke 12:48; PUT ON developing abilities, 1 Cor.4:2
  1. PUT OFF irresponsibility in family and work, Luk.16:12; PUT ON responsibility, Luke16:10
  1. PUT OFF procrastination, Pro.10:5; PUT ON diligence, Pro.27:1
  1. PUT OFF cheating, 2 Cor.4:2; PUT ON honesty, 2 Cor.8:21
  1. PUT OFF stealing Pro.29:24; PUT ON working and giving, Eph.4:28
  1. PUT OFF overindulgence Pro.11:1; PUT ON temperance, 1 Cor.9:25
  1. PUT OFF gluttony, Pro.23:21; PUT ON discipline, 1 Cor.9:27
  1. PUT OFF wrong friends, Ps.1:1; PUT ON godly friends, Pro.13:20
  1. PUT OFF temporal values, Matt.6:19-21; PUT ON eternal value, 2 Cor.4:18
  1. PUT OFF stinginess, 1 Jo.3:17; PUT ON generosity, Pro.11:24-25
  1. PUT OFF moral impurity, 1 Th.4:7; PUT ON moral purity, 1 Thes.4:4
  1. PUT OFF fornication, 1 Cor.6:18; PUT ON abstinence, 1 Thes.4:3
  1. PUT OFF lust, 1 Pet.2:11; PUT ON pure desires, Tit.2:12
  1. PUT OFF adultery, Matt.5:27-28; PUT ON marital fidelity, Prov.5:14-19
  1. PUT OFF homosexuality, Lev.18:22; PUT ON moral purity, 1 Thes.4:4-5
  1. PUT OFF pornography, Ps.101:3; PUT ON pure thoughts, Phil.4:8

As you study the Bible, you will find many more references to “putting off” and “putting on.”  It’s not enough to know about them; their purpose is to change you and give you abundant life.

“May the God of peace himself make you holy in every way; and may your spirit and soul and body be free from all sin at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess.5:23, NEB).                                 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl –

Published by UPCI in The Vision – September 27, 2009

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office…                        (Romans 12:4, KJV).

The phone call came in the middle of the day. “Pastor wants you to teach the third grade boys’ class in Vacation Bible School.” Since I was a high school teacher, I guess the pastor thought I should be able to teach any age anywhere. Reluctantly, I agreed to accept the assignment out of respect for him. The planning went well, but when the first day’s session was over, I was in tears—a woman in my twenties overwhelmed by eight third grade boys. They showed no interest in the class projects nor my object lessons. They talked louder than I and scattered crayons and snacks about the room. I could not grasp the psychology of “wiggling.” I pulled myself together and the with encouragement from other staff members decided to try again. After an even worse second day, I quit.   

What did I learn from this? There are people who are called and chosen to teach third grade boys and I am not one of them. I had neither the gift, nor the ability, nor the talent, nor the desire to teach third grade boys. I was beginning to understand that “all members have not the same office,” and I should not try to fit into a niche for which I was neither called nor equipped.

(c) C. Yvonne Karl –

Published by UPCI in The Vision – May 31, 2009.

Get Over It!

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, is vividly etched in my mind. My mother was incurably excited about reaching that mountaintop. With my father at the steering wheel, we approached the little road that would take us to the top. Since I had grown up in the hills of West Virginia, driving around curves up and down hills was not new to me, however this was different. On that day, the mountain rose above the clouds. In fact, it seemed so high to my little eleven-year old eyes and mind that I feared we might be traveling to heaven. “Can we stop now?” I begged. “No! We aren’t there yet!” my mother replied with incomprehensible joy and anticipation. Why were we putting our lives in danger just to get to the top of a mountain?  It was her dream. She had heard about it and nothing else would satisfy her. What drives one person upward is often exactly the same thing that paralyzes another with fear. Once at the summit, I was awestruck by the breath-taking view, all the while trembling and holding tightly to my mother’s hand. Years later, I treasure the memory of that beautiful scene and better understand my mother’s ecstasy as she drank it in.

This fear popped up again and again in my life. My first trip to Mexico was a frightening experience for me. Mother obviously had a love for adventure and decided to take a little-traveled road through the mountains. She heard about it from a physician friend who had been there and highly recommended it. My father was driving and I cried with fear that the brakes would fail on those unpaved mountain passes with only one lane and no guard rails. I had looked forward to this family trip but, because of my fear, could not enjoy the beautiful scenery. To make matters worse, I was not a child. I was twenty-four years old and at one time had considered a missionary assignment in Mexico. Would this mountain experience discourage me from making other such trips in the future? I knew I had to overcome this fear.

Like the Psalmist, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4 KJV). Since then I’ve been back to Mexico with my husband and thoroughly delighted in the land and the people. I’ve traveled throughout North America, Europe and Africa and encountered some frightful situations, but was not fearful.

In the summer of 1999, a ministry friend met me at the Cape Town, South Africa airport. We were within a couple of miles of her residence when a car ran a stop sign and totaled her station wagon. I knew we were both injured and was softly calling out to Jesus. We dared not go to the hospital since  they had no medical staff in the emergency room. Some locals took us to Ruth’s house, and she phoned a Christian physician friend of hers who came right away. Ruth had whiplash and a nasty knot on her forehead. I had a broken wrist and broken ribs. There was nothing the doctor could do for the ribs, but was able to purchase a metal wrist brace to protect my wrist. We rejoiced that we were alive and completed our three-week schedule as if nothing had happened (although I had to do everything with one hand and experienced pain every time I stood up or sat down or turned over in the bed at night). Three weeks later when I arrived back home to Detroit, x-rays confirmed five broken ribs and a fractured wrist—but all were healing as they should. All praise to Jesus.

Some have said to me, “Did that accident discourage you from traveling?” My answer is, No! Since that time, I have traveled through many other countries. My fear is gone. I commit myself into the hands of the Lord who is able to keep me and accomplish His purpose through my life. After all, “ whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8, KJV).

In the year 2000, I had the opportunity to visit the Alps on the border of Germany and Austria. I traveled to the top of one mountain via a narrow road in the only transportation allowed, an authorized tour bus. Since there was no room for two vehicles to pass, all traffic was controlled by radio. Each bus had to wait until the other one had arrived at the peak before the next one could begin the trip. Once we arrived at a parking place, we walked through a 400 foot long tunnel to an elevator which took us to the top of the mountain. There we saw the famous Kehlsteinhaus sitting all alone overlooking Salzburg and Bavaria. A short hike on foot took us higher yet to the foot of a cross perched on a rock atop the mountain. The view was worth all the emotional ups and downs and the perceived dangers we experienced on the way. A number of people in our entourage opted not to make the trip. “I just can’t do it,” they said of the mountain looming above them. But those of us who chose to go will always marvel at the beauty of God’s creation seen from the heights: heaven and earth, clouds and sea, mountains and valleys, all giving praise to their Creator. The old fear attempted to invade my consciousness, but I denied it entrance. “…but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images” (Exodus 23:24, KJV). 

Israel was commanded to defeat the various tribes, one of which was the Amorites whose name means mountains. We, too can conquer the mountains in our life—the situations that seem too big to overcome. Comparing our impossible circumstances with mountains is a common metaphor. We often say, “I just can’t get over it!” We don’t feel we have the physical strength or emotional stamina to rout them. They make us feel so small. We succumb to this image concocted in our mind and readily disclose we never were mountain climbers—in fact, we can’t even get up a flight of steps without being worn out. Thus we approach the mountains in our life in the same way—with physical and spiritual energy depleted.

Remember Deborah? What if she had said, “Lord, I’m just a woman. I’ll sit here and counsel these people; but why do I have to ride with Barak into battle? Isn’t that asking too much? Isn’t war for men only?”  Of course, no such words came from Deborah’s lips. No situation would prevent her from doing whatever necessary to win the victory. When faced with the magnanimous task of leading the troops into battle, she said, “I will surely go with thee…” (Judges 4:9). Because of her obedience to God, Israel won the battle. Deborah didn’t look to the bigness of the task but to the greatness of her God who would go before her and bring the victory.

Remember David? What if he had said, “Lord, I’m just a teenager. Look at all these brave men dressed in their armor. If they can’t defeat the giant Goliath, why should I even try?”  Of course, no such words came from David’s lips. No mountain giant would intimidate him. He said to the giant Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD…(1 Samuel 17:45, KJV). David didn’t fear the giant or his dagger because he had confidence in God. Likewise, when we put our trust completely in God Almighty, we shake off intimidations from mental images and sharp tongues while we implement a plan of attack.

In the Name of the Lord, we not only can, but we will get over every situation in life that otherwise might paralyze us from moving on to enjoy the abundant life that Jesus came to give (John 10:10, KJV). “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23).

Get over it!

(c) C. Yvonne Karl  –

Published by UPCI in The Vision, April 26, 2009

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.[i]

My husband and I had been married nine years all the while praying and believing God for children. The Lord encouraged us many times through His Word and through brothers and sisters in Christ that we would have children. We learned during that time that Jesus, not children, must be the most important person in our life—that if we would delight ourselves in the Him, He would give us the desires of our heart. So we committed our future to the Lord and trusted in Him knowing that our steps were ordered by Him and He would bring the desires to pass even though we knew not how.[ii]

During the winter of 1988, God sent a fourteen year old girl across our path who was pregnant and planning to give up her baby for adoption. While investigating ways to help her, the Lord began to birth a vision in our hearts about foster care. Scriptures we had meditated on many times before now began to have new meaning for us. We remembered how Pharaoh’s daughter had adopted Moses and reared him in her palace. Now we just needed to trust, rest, and wait patiently for Him[iii]

In February 1989 we began our eight weeks of training and became licensed as foster parents in mid-April. Six weeks later. I received a call from the agency saying only that they wanted to place a four month old baby named Maria in our home. I arrived at the agency eager to meet her. After an hour delay, the long awaited moment arrived. They brought to me a tiny baby girl with dark brown wavy hair and blue eyes—just like the little girl I had dreamed to have.

I wasn’t prepared for a baby with so many special needs. Maria was born three months premature, weighed two pounds and four ounces, was drug addicted, had a large growth on her ear, and was both blind and deaf! Nevertheless, she was beautiful and needed to be loved, nurtured and healed. Part of me wanted to get up and leave her there, but I knew deep inside myself that she was a gift from the Lord even with all her imperfections.

From that very first day the Lord gave us a vision for Maria, and we began by faith to see her completely whole and healed even though we had to keep her on an apnea monitor for several weeks. My husband and I prayed over her every night—and often many times during the day. On her very first Sunday in our home, we dedicated her to the Lord at our church. All of our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as our natural family fell in love with Maria.

On Father’s Day, only a few weeks after she came to us, we could already see the healing process beginning as she was following us with her eyes. Near the end of June our church family gave us a surprise baby shower, and Mrs. Karl’s Bible study was about adoption: specifically how as believers we are adopted into the family of God. Even though we had taken Maria as a foster child, there was strong faith among the people at the shower that Maria had come to our home to stay.

Over the next three months we continued to love, care for, and most of all, pray for our baby girl. In late September 1989, she had surgery to remove the growth from her ear. During the pre-operative exams we were told that Maria showed no side effects of her premature birth, and her vision and hearing appeared to be normal. Her healing was being made obvious to all. We were confident that the Lord was completing the word He had began in her.[iv]

The next four months were a very difficult time as the Lord reminded us that Maria was not ours but His, yet our desire to adopt her was intense. Just as Abraham had to be willing to give up Isaac, we had to be willing to give up Maria. Both our church family and our natural family were a great source of comfort during this time, and they will never know what a blessing they were to us as they prayed and believed God that the decision made concerning Maria and her future would be His best for all concerned.

At the beginning of February 1990, we received the news that we may be able to adopt Maria who was now one year old and had been in our home for almost nine months. At her one year checkup with the pediatrician she was considered to be a normal one year old with no delays. She walked at fourteen months and began to say words shortly thereafter. What a miracle had taken place before our very eyes! Initial medical reports said she was blind—but now she could see! They said she was deaf—but now she could hear! They said she may not be able to take steps—but now she was walking! So great was our rejoicing and thanksgiving to God.

We were then faced with another challenge: we really wanted to foster more children, but we lived in a mobile home and the room Maria slept in was not large enough for two. Then it occurred to us, why not switch her to the master bedroom? We did, and on March 7, 1990, our capacity was increased to two children.

Our first home visit for Maria’s adoption was scheduled on April 5, 1990. At 9:45 a.m. that day, the agency called asking if they could place a healthy two-day old baby girl in our home. The following day, I brought Ashley home from the hospital—a beautiful little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. What a blessing she was—a perfect picture of health.

Later that month, during a visit with our adoption worker, I asked if she thought we might be permitted to adopt Ashley as well as Maria. She said she would not recommend us because we were already adopting one child, and they had several couples waiting for healthy white babies. We were disappointed but thankful to have Ashley even for a short time. Again we prayed. We were blessed to have Maria and didn’t want to be selfish. We knew the Lord would prepare us if Ashley came up for adoption and we had to send her to another home.

When Ashley was two and one-half months old, she appeared to have a typical attack of fever. I took her to Dr. Luttmann—a wise and concerned pediatrician—who immediately ordered more detailed tests on her. The diagnosis was a total shock: spinal meningitis. He sent her by helicopter to The University of Michigan Children’s Hospital where a team of medical experts fought to save her life. My husband and I sat by her bedside and prayed. God intervened!

With all glory to our wonderful God, after ten days Ashley was released from the hospital to our care. She was tested for any side effects of the illness and had none. She was completely healed from a disease that continues to kill children every year.

About this time, we were assigned a new adoption worker, and she continued the home studies to finalize Maria’s adoption. She had the report of our relationship with Ashley while she was in the hospital, and in our home she observed the tie between Ashley and Maria who already related as sisters. As a result, in late September 1990, the worker came with the tremendous news that we would be allowed to adopt Ashley because of the severe illness she had suffered and the bond that was established between Ashley and our family.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose…Jesus…said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.[v]

Maria’s adoption was final on October 4, 1990, and we began the proceedings for Ashley whose adoption was final a year later, October 27, 1991. We are truly blessed. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.[vi]

Our daughters are now teenagers and continue to amaze us with their gifts and abilities as well as their deep respect and affection for one another and us—their parents. From the beginning we have let them know they are adopted and loved perhaps more than some children because they were chosen and did not arrive by accident.

Maria loves the Lord, is active in the high school youth group at our church, plays the keyboard for the high school praise team, plays piano and flute and has won a number of awards in local, state, and national competitions. She also works with special needs children in our church, is an avid tennis player, studies guitar, and writes original songs—both lyrics and music. It is no surprise that she wishes to be a music teacher one day.

Ashley is athletic and full of energy which helped her develop her skills and win several awards in gymnastics. She also plays tennis, is a gifted artist and very active in the junior high youth group at our church where she is part of the praise team. She loves music, plays the violin, and especially enjoyed being a part of a fiddling group. Her adventuresome spirit keeps us on our toes and she has become the family comedian. Butterflies, rabbits and our family pooch have found safe shelter under Ashley’s care. She dreams of one day working with animals.

As I look back over the years at our two blessings from the Lord, we stand in awe of what God has done in our lives. We are most grateful for their birth mothers who chose not to abort them but allowed them to be born. We are thankful to the Lord for bringing them into our lives and entrusting them to us for love, nurture, and care, and know that He will lead them, guide them, and keep them on the path He has chosen for them.

 Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, we pray for the mothers who feel the need to give up their babies for adoption, and we pray that you would send the babies into the homes of loving, caring, Christian people. We are thankful that these mothers have chosen life and pray that both the mothers and fathers and the babies will come to experience the abundant New Life that comes through knowing Jesus Christ. Amen.

NOTE: This article was written in 2000. As of January 2018, Maria is a teaching working with special needs students.

Below you can read the speech Maria gave to a ProLife meeting when she was 18.

[i] Proverbs 3:5-6

[ii] Psalm 37:3-7

[iii] Exodus 2:10; Psalm 37:3-5

[iv] Philippians 1:6; 4:6-7

[v] Rom. 8:28 -John 11 :4, KJV

[vi] Ephesians. 3:20,21

CLICK BELOW TO READ MARIA’S ProLife speech at age 18.

Maria’s ProLife Speech

Below: Maria and Ashley with their Kindergarten teacher, Bev Bettega.

The wreath of love.

The completed circle.

The Christmas Story.

The Circle of Light.,

May it hang in our hearts.

May it surround our life.

May it grace our home at Christmas and always.

The Beginning

In the beginning…the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep…and God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.

1. Jesus left Heaven – The Light of God to shine into my darkness

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross: therefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

2. Jesus came to earth – The Light of Life

Then spoke Jesus to them again saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’  There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness to bear witness of the Light, that all through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world.

3. Jesus lived among men – The Light of Truth

Jesus said unto them, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but my me.’ That was the true Light which lights every man that comes into the world.

4. Jesus died on the Cross for our sin – The Light of Love

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

5. Jesus arose from the grave – The Light of Victory over sin and death

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.’

6. Jesus ascended to Heaven – The Light of Prophecy fulfilled

Arise, shine; for your light comes come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people, but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. And the city had no need of the sun, or of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in the light…

7. Jesus will come again and receive me unto Himself – The Everlasting Light

And there shall be no light there. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

The Wreath of Love – Our Christmas Light

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shine.

No greater love. No greater light. No greater gift. Jesus is Christmas. Jesus is love. Jesus is the Light. Jesus is the greatest gift of all. May He live in our hearts day by day and hour by hour and may the Light of His presence shine forth through us that others who walk in darkness will have the Light shined on their pathway.


EAST OF BETHLEHEM: The fragrance of Christmas and other holidays, Chapter 4. C. Yvonne Karl, (c) 2003, Brentwood Press.

An Easter drama given through the eyes of those closest to Jesus. Characters include Peter, John the Baptist, John, James, Mary Magdalene and Mary. 

Peter: Hello. I’m Peter. I’m sure that you have all heard about the twelve disciples that Jesus chose to follow Him. I guess I have the reputation for being the spokesman for the group, so I am the one who gets to welcome you tonight. We are grateful that you have come …and I believe that you will be blessed by being here. Perhaps we should just go back for a moment and recall the great moment of Jesus’ birth (music begins). Mary. Joseph. Bethlehem. The Shepherds. The Angels. The birth of a King!

Song: O Come all ye faithful

Peter: Come, let us adore Him? Christ the Lord! Yes, Jesus…our Lord and Savior…the King of kings and Lord of lords…was born. But most of the world paid little attention to the event. He grew up in Nazareth in a carpenter’s shop…(sees John off to side). Oh, there’s John—the one we call John the Baptist. (Calls and motions to him) John, come over here and share with the people what you know about Jesus?

John the Baptist: Shalom, Peter. I always like to talk about Jesus. I was preaching in the wilderness of Judea asking the people to repent for I knew that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand. I was baptizing those who repented in the Jordan River; and I told them by the Spirit of God that there would be One come after me who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. One day as I was baptizing—standing there in the Jordan River—I looked up and saw Jesus coming toward me. As He walked His face was shining, and then He spoke. He asked ME to baptize HIM in the water. I said, “No, Jesus, please, no! I need to be baptized of you, and you come to me?” But He insisted telling me that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Oh, Peter, as soon as Jesus went under the water and came up again the heavens opened up, and the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove and stopped on Him and said in a voice that we could all hear: This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. At that moment God instructed me to tell the people assembled at the Jordan River that this Jesus was God’s Son—the Lamb of God that takes away their sins. It was soon after that I found myself in prison for preaching to Herod that he needed to repent for taking his brother’s wife. (John walks away.)

Peter: (To the audience) While John was still in prison, Jesus began His ministry and started to call together some disciples. I was fishing in the sea of Galilee with my brother, Andrew, the day Jesus walked by. All He said was Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men; and do you know what we did? We immediately left our nets and followed Him! Andrew and I walked with Jesus on down the seashore where He saw James and John mending their nets, and He called to them, “James and John, follow me!”   (James and John come up and greet Peter with a slap on the shoulder while he is talking.)

James: I surely remember that day. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm. We saw Jesus coming with Peter and Andrew. When He spoke, it was with such love that we couldn’t resist the invitation, and to think that a Rabbi such as He would want us for disciples was overwhelming. We were excited to leave all and follow Him.

John: We went with Jesus all around Galilee, listening as He was teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people. How quickly His fame went throughout land. They brought to Him many sick people and those possessed with devils, and He healed them! When they were hungry He fed them. It was marvelous to see!

James: When He opened His mouth and taught it was with indisputable authority.

Peter: Yes, and I remember that He nicknamed you boys “the sons of thunder!”

James: You would have to remember that! It’s true. By the time He finished, Jesus had called together a group of twelve—John and me, you and your brother Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Thaddaeus, James of Alphaeus, Simon and Judas. Most people don’t realize how young the twelve of us were—we were just teenagers. You, Peter, were probably the oldest when Jesus called us to follow Him.

Peter: Those three years were packed with activity—watching Jesus as He moved among the people with such compassion and love.

James: Then the night we ate the last supper in the Upper Room: Jesus broke the bread and shared it with us. He blessed the wine and drank it with us. None of us could comprehend what was about to happen. He said that one of us would betray Him. I guess we all wondered how anyone could possibly betray Him after all the good He had done. We all asked Him, “Lord is it I?”

John: Except Judas!

Peter: Now as we look back we can see that Jesus was trying to prepare us all along for what was about to take place: His death, burial, and resurrection. But it was beyond our understanding.

John: How well I remember the Garden of Gethsemane—He asked us to stay awake and pray with Him but we all went to sleep. Three times He came back to check on us. It must have been painful for Him to know that we didn’t realize He was about to die.

Peter: The things that followed happened so quickly. ..the arrest. ..the trial before Pilate…

John: They put that purple robe on Him, and place that prickly crown of thorns on His head… and mocked Him. (head down)

James: And they spit on Him. .and got down on their knees and pretended to be worshipping Him..mocking… (head down)

Peter: Then they took off the robe and led Him to Golgotha. (head down)

Song: My Tribute (Lights reflect Peter, James and John kneeling at cross throughout the song. Lights out at end of song. All three leave stage. Mary Magdalene enters)

Mary Magdalene: I was in the crowd that followed Him up that hill to Golgotha. As He carried His cross, I saw the blood run down His face, yet I saw the glory shine forth from Him. I watched them nail Him to the cross and lift it toward the sky. I stood there at the cross and felt so all alone. Why was I here? Why was He there? I recalled how He intervened and saved my life! I saw Him heal Blind Bartimaeus and make the lame man walk. I saw the love in His eyes when He freed the demon possessed man. Oh, how He loved the children and held them in His arms and talked to them. As I gazed at the cross remembering the great miracles He did, the sun went down and it became very dark. I felt the earth tremble under my feet and heard shouts from the temple as the veil was torn in two. I heard Him cry with a loud voice: “It is finished. Father into Your hands I commend my spirit.” I watched as Joseph of Arimathea begged Pilate to let him take His body, and having obtained permission, he took Jesus’ dead body from the cross. I saw Nicodemus join him as they anointed His body with spices, wrapped Him in grave clothes, and laid him in a tomb. I followed and watched from afar off. Was it true? Was He really gone? (She kneels at the cross during the verse of next song, then walks off stage)

Song: The Old Rugged Cross

Mary: (coming up center aisle with Mary Magdalene) Hurry up! Let’s take these spices and go to the tomb so we can anoint the body of Jesus. The sun is just rising. If we hurry we can get there just at daybreak.

Mary Magdalene: (as they walk toward the tomb) Do you think the soldiers will roll away the stone for us? It is very big! (They approach the tomb) Mary! Look! The stone is already rolled away. She looks in and begins to weep.

Angel: Why are you weeping?

Mary Magdalene: Because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him. (Keeps head in shawl, weeping)

Angel: Don’t be afraid. If you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, He is not

here. He is risen! See! The place where they laid Him is empty. Go quickly now, and tell His disciples and Peter that Jesus is going into Galilee. You will see Him there.

Mary & Mary Magdalene: (Peer into tomb, then exclaim…) He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive! (Hugging each other and jumping up and down) Let’s Go!  (Run out of room shouting… He’s alive… He’s alive)

Song: Easter Song 

Mary & Mary Magdalene: (Coming up aisle from back of room and telling everyone, He’s Alive… He’s Alive! We’ve seen Him!

Mary Magdalene: Peter! Peter! Peter! (Calling to him as she sees him sitting on the side with James and John looking sad and whispering to one another)

Peter: Yeah. What is it?

Mary: James! John! Peter!

James, John, Peter: Yeah, ok. What happened now? Did you find out who moved the stone?

Mary Magdalene: He’s alive. We’ve just seen Jesus! He’s alive!

Mary: (Shakes Peter) We’ve just seen Him. He’s alive!

Peter: He’s alive? He’s alive? (He shakes James and yells in his face) He’s Alive! (Then he shakes John, and they are all shaking each other, jumping up and down and proclaiming loudly…) He’s Alive! (They begin the chant, “He’s Alive!” and go throughout the congregation telling everyone. He’s Alive! He’s Alive!)

Song:  He’s Alive, or He Lives

Peter: (To the congregation) Oh my friends!  Weep not! Jesus is Alive! He appeared unto us many times during the next forty days before He ascended into heaven. He told us to wait in Jerusalem and He would send the Holy Spirit to baptize us and give us the power and authority to do greater works than He did!

Mary Magdalene: And we all did as he said—one hundred twenty of us waited in Jerusalem and prayed, believing and expecting to receive His promise.

James: And on the day of Pentecost as we were sitting in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit fell upon us like tongues of fire—as it falls upon us even today, and we receive that power to be a witness for Him.

John: It seemed that all of Jerusalem came out to see what happened in the Upper Room that day, and Peter, you preached, man, did you preach! telling them the whole story of God’s plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Mary:  Three thousand people became followers of Jesus Christ that day.

Peter:  And thousands upon thousands more have joined the Gospel team over the years since that time. Thanks to God, one day that same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us and we will be resurrected to live eternally with Jesus in our Father’s House.

All:  Hallelujah! Amen!

Song:  The Blood will Never Lose its Power

Note: Costumes can be very simple wrap-around togas and sandals or bare feet. Props include a large cross (or silhouette of cross projected on wall), and a stone wall to represent the tomb (made of cardboard or a projected silhouette). Musicians may be soloists, ensembles, choirs, or the congregation. The musical selections given here may be substituted with other appropriate songs. Be creative in the presentation. For example, during Peter’s opening narration, you could have the nativity scene assemble as he speaks their names.

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 17.