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Karen Helsel

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Laugh together

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

July 8, 2015 4:13 p.m. read more..

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.

June 10, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Sharing joy

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

June 3, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

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.

May 6, 2015 3 p.m. read more..


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

April 29, 2015 3 p.m. read more..


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

March 4, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

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.

February 18, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

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.

January 28, 2015 3 p.m. read more..


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

January 21, 2015 3 p.m. read more..

Laughing alone

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

January 14, 2015 3:13 p.m. read more..

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.

January 9, 2015 3 p.m. read more..


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

December 31, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

The real Christmas story

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

December 24, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

November 26, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Picky eater?

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

November 19, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

November 12, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

October 22, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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?

October 15, 2014 3:12 p.m. read more..


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

October 8, 2014 4:05 p.m. read more..

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.

September 3, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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?

August 27, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Need a smile?

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

August 20, 2014 3:01 p.m. read more..

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.

July 30, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

July 9, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

June 25, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

June 18, 2014 3:01 p.m. read more..

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.

May 28, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Return to joy

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

May 14, 2014 3:48 p.m. read more..

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.

April 23, 2014 3:01 p.m. read more..

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.

April 16, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

April 9, 2014 3 p.m. read more..


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.

April 2, 2014 3:01 p.m. read more..

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!

March 26, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.

March 19, 2014 3:03 p.m. read more..

Young and stupid

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

March 5, 2014 3:05 p.m. read more..

What next?

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

February 26, 2014 3:02 p.m. read more..

Embarrassing moments

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

February 19, 2014 3:51 p.m. read more..

An expensive set-up

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

February 12, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

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.”

February 5, 2014 3 p.m. read more..

Are you a philologist?

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

January 29, 2014 3:06 p.m. read more..

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.

January 15, 2014 3:34 p.m. read more..

Positive assets

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

January 8, 2014 3:07 p.m. read more..

A picky reader

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.

December 26, 2013 2 p.m. read more..

Winter woes

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

December 18, 2013 3 p.m. read more..

It’s a good thing to give thanks

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

December 4, 2013 3:02 p.m. read more..

I called the police on my husband once

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.

November 20, 2013 4:19 p.m. read more..

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.

November 6, 2013 3 p.m. read more..

How to lie

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

October 30, 2013 3:33 p.m. read more..

Power of imagination

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?”

October 23, 2013 3 p.m. read more..

Not-so intelligent life

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.

October 16, 2013 4 p.m. read more..

Sheer Joy

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

October 9, 2013 3:57 p.m. read more..

What do they know?

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

September 25, 2013 3:56 p.m. read more..


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.

September 18, 2013 4:21 p.m. read more..

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.

August 21, 2013 4:27 p.m. read more..

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.

August 14, 2013 4:07 p.m. read more..


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