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Karen Helsel

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Don’t stop laughing

It’s called “the end of the run.”

Laugh together

My friend sat outside with me and munched on watermelon as we spoke of serious life issues.

What’s your name?

My son has been looking up ancestry information recently.

Generation gap

My two eldest grandsons are visiting me for several weeks before their parents and little brother arrive from Indonesia. They have not spent a lot of time in Seattle, so we have done a few sight-seeing things.

Sharing joy

When I was 5 years old, my family moved from Lebanon, Ore. to Port Angeles, Wash.

Keeping track of time

You know how it is when you lose track of time?

All the wrong places

I was having a great Sunday morning, and decided I would attend church. I almost made it on time; I live about 30 minutes from the church.


Do you remember when surprises were the things you found in cereal boxes or Cracker Jacks?

Don’t waste anything

Recycling is required in many counties in Washington state.

Sounds of travel

Do you ever pay attention to the sounds of travel?

What’s keeping you up at night?

Last Friday, March 13, was World Sleep Day, sponsored by the World Association of Sleep Medications

Simplicity or complexity?

“Great things come in small packages.”


One of the first sentences I learned in Thai was, “Praisanee you tii nai?”

The woman who didn’t smile

Several sources reported that Tess Christian, 50, has not smiled since she was 10 years old.

Write it down

As my mother aged she didn’t sleep well. When she laid her body down for rest, her mind seemed to speed up.

Sun breaks and a poor job of eavesdropping

My friend and I met at a restaurant for a late lunch. We were ushered into a window-decked, porch-like room, with a blazing fire pit surrounded by only six tables: an intimate setting.


What is it that makes you do a double-take…to look again at something that seems unfamiliar or out of place?

Laughing alone

Our world seems like a less friendly place this morning. Terrorist activities are front and center in the news.

Read it again

As a pastor, my first sermon of every year was to challenge my church members to read the Bible – all of it – before year’s end.


If you haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions, you have only a few hours left in which to do so.

The real Christmas story

The real Christmas story is found in the Christian scriptures, particularly in the first four books of the New Testament.

Gifts for Santa

Don’t show this to your children if they still believe.

The new bobbleheads pose a threat to us all

On the website,, you can read about the history of bobbleheads. They have been around in some form or other since the 1800s.

The joys of travel

Non-stop flights from Seattle to Boston take 5-plus hours.

Pre-Thanksgiving travels

Months ago my son asked if I would be interested in coming out to Boston to stay with their two young children while he and his wife went to academic seminars in San Diego.

Picky eater?

My friend recently made some crock pot tomato soup, which she claims, “…smelled and looked delicious.”

The blame game

Since the dawn of time, humans have been searching for someone to blame for our personality problems, environmental issues and the decisions we make.

Overheard conversations

“She’s 96 years old and still sews and mends.”

Smiles instead of frowns

The beauty of this season is astounding, with leaves changing color right before our eyes.

Thankful for the harvest

When we purchased a home in Anderson, Ind., there was a section of the back yard which had previously been allocated for a garden.

Someone’s always watching you

Don’t you hate it when you pull up to a four-way stop, and as you take your turn to the right, you accidentally get too close and run over the curb?


As I neared the elevator, she yelled a bit louder, “You are wrong in the head!”

Are you a coffee addict?

As I write this, it is National Coffee Day.

Football crazies

I admit it. I love the game of football.

Pay attention…body language speaks

Ken Burns is a household name due to his amazing documentaries.

A short (uneventful) trip

It was a short trip to see my father on his 92nd birthday.

Music mania

When I was in third grade, my mother started me in piano lessons. My brother, five years older than I, was already taking lessons from Vienna Neal Case.

Hearing things

Have you ever counted how many dings, rings, whistles, tweety sounds and other signals are coming into your life at any given moment?

Different kinds of laughs

Just ask Turkey Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc…smiling can make you beautiful.

Need a smile?

Maybe these (internet) quips, followed by my comments will bring new insights to your world, or at least a smile.

Robin Williams made us laugh

We are saddened by the loss of a great comedian, Robin Williams.

Dead people can’t vote

I had my mail forwarded when I moved.

It may be in our genes

My mother was a pretty good sport, but my brother and I would often roll our eyes at things she said or did.

Signs and wonders

How well do you pay attention to signs?

Get some rest

Are you one of those people who can sleep anywhere?

It’s all in the eyes

My husband has always had a “baby” face and looked younger than his age. It has sometimes been a cause of frustration to me.

Learn to persevere

This is one of my favorite times of year: Wimbledon Tennis!

Listen to the VOICE

When cars first came out with a GPS system already built in, it was considered a wonderful innovation – by most people.

Older challenges

A couple I know run a child sponsorship program for our national church. Traveling in Prague this week, they are sharing fantastic photos on the internet.


Are you a people-watcher?

Don’t forget to kiss the bride

June is here, and it’s the month for weddings.

The Back Story

The “Back Story” is a phrase which means “narrative providing a history or background context.” It is most often connected to movies, books or news.

Getting ready for culture shock

In 1976 we moved from Southern California to Anderson, Ind., to prepare ourselves to become career missionaries.

Return to joy

Joy is supposed to be our natural state. If everything was perfect, every newborn would be extremely longed for and wanted.

Non-stick duct tape

That title makes no sense.

Prepare for laughter

Laughter does not just fall out of the sky.

Push back

I just got off the phone with a very annoying person, who said he was from the Microsoft Technical Department, and that I had a very dangerous virus he wanted to help me fix.

A lesson from the Bible

I find so many humorous stories in the Bible, because it is not whitewashed or written only about good, smart, holy people. It’s about regular folks, warts and all! And I find lessons for myself all over the place.

Children’s prayers

There are many kinds of prayers. There are Thank You prayers, Help Me prayers. Books of prayers have provided consolation, wisdom and strength for centuries. The Serenity Prayer is a famous, powerful prayer.


As I begin the arduous task of sorting, throwing, selling, giving away stuff in preparation for moving, I know I will find surprises along the way.

Be very afraid

My attention was grabbed by a Yakima Herald Bulletin headline: “Wolf pack could be coming to this area but no one knows when.” I’m sure this warning will be helpful to livestock owners and other outdoor enthusiasts. It makes me wonder how I should prepare!

Smiling through a cloud

It’s a fact that many comedians and humorists live in a rather dark place and use their humor as a survival tool.

What would you miss the most?

My mother did not like silence.

Young and stupid

My friend sent me this on Facebook: TO BE OLD AND WISE, YOU MUST FIRST BE YOUNG AND STUPID.

What next?

When they said airplanes could fly, people shook their heads.

Embarrassing moments

Have you ever done something silly and totally embarrassing and felt thankful that nobody was around to see it?

An expensive set-up

Here it is Valentine’s Day. Cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts will be given or received with great expectations.

Can’t laugh…and can’t stop

The pastor’s wife called her: “Sue’s mother-in-law passed away. Her husband and his family do not attend church, and I wondered if you and your husband would be willing to just attend the funeral to support Sue.”

Are you a philologist?

“Philologist” is an antiquated word meaning: someone who studies languages, their origins and meanings.

Driving myself crazy

For Christmas I bought myself a subscription to an online site called Lumosity.

The power of clutter

I once worked in a law firm with four managing partners. It was a busy practice, with a long history and many clients.

Positive assets

A recent movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” is based on the 1939 short story by James Thurber.

The end and the beginning

Many television programs and internet sites are talking about the notable news of 2013.

A picky reader

A Hint of Humor

No, I did not say a picky eater, but reader. I look for books that are well-written, that stretch my imagination and vocabulary. I like many genres, but especially look for good mysteries.

Winter woes

After 12 years in the frozen tundra of Indiana, we were glad to move to a milder climate in Sunnyside.

Misunderstanding the signs

We arrived in Thailand on July 2, 1977, for our first four-year term as missionaries.

It’s a good thing to give thanks

In our church we made this past November the month of Thanks-living, encouraging folks to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for an entire month, not just one day.

Airplanes are safer

That’s what they say, and it’s true…airplanes are safer.

I called the police on my husband once

A Hint of Humor

Jay Leno often shares funny, short news stories on his television show: a man says it’s his fault that his wife shot him five times when she mistook him for an intruder.

Promises, promises

When my crocheting buddy died, I inherited some of her pattern books and magazines.

Third culture kids

American sociologist David Pollock developed the following description for third culture kids: “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.

How to lie

A Hint of Humor

Remember the movie, “Liar, Liar,” starring Jim Carrey?

Power of imagination

A Hint of Humor

Three-year-old Chase and I were having a discussion early one morning. I asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Not-so intelligent life

A Hint of Humor

Charles J. Sykes wrote a book, entitled Dumbing Down Our Kids; Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves, But Can’t Read, Write, or Add. We have known that many American children and youth do not measure up to others around the world, especially in math and science. We are a culture of video games and reality/unreality television, idolization of movie stars and Miley Cyrus.

Sheer Joy

A Hint of Humor

This week my adult son is flying in from Boston for a visit. He is my youngest child, born in Bangkok, Thailand.

What do they know?

A Hint of Humor

The AARP, of which I am a member, sent me an email entitled, “Karen, 7 Reasons Why You Are Fat.”


I did not start drinking coffee until I was in my 30s. We were house guests in Ohio, and I woke up to this intriguing, delicious smell. It was Albertson’s 8 O’clock Coffee. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Rare remote wars

My friend shared this hilarious story with me, so I will pass it on: Our church choir in Post Falls, Idaho always enjoyed taking holiday music to assisted living facilities. The room in Hayden, Idaho provided just enough space for the choir to stand in two rows between the fireplace and the audience of residents.

What did you see today?

My office window opens to the view of my back yard, lined with towering lilac bushes. A wire runs from one telephone pole to another about three feet above the lilacs.


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