A Blind Eye

As our bus pulled into the parking lot; the sight before us was unmistakable. Much can be said for first impressions, sometimes without uttering a word. Such was the case.

My husband, Dave and I, were on a short-term mission trip in the remote mountains of Jamaica. One of the recommended must-see destinations was the Poor House. While many of us may feel we are in the poor house; this particular one was nothing we could imagine.

Standing in the middle of the drive was a figure in a large ill-fitting pink dress. A lost soul unaware of his own need. Yes, the resident was a male, a large man. My guess is the care-givers did not have clothes to fit his ample size, but for this huge pink dress.

The Poor House is a large facility that is home to the senior citizens and mentally unstable. The average household of Jamaica does not have the means to care for or support these individuals.

 Certainly, this greeting would have made an impressive photo to share at home to friends and family of our experience. But I could not bring myself to snap the picture. Beneath the dress was a man, not of sound mind. By design, he was created for a purpose, like we all are. But not to be exploited. Instead, my eyes turned away out of respect.

I had not thought of this moment in years; but in listening to the morning news, it came to mind. Allow me to take a radical turn from the above. Two policemen were shot in the line of duty. It is quickly becoming a daily event. Not to say that is okay. Someone said something like, we are living in an open-air mental asylum.

We hear a lot about gun control, and yes, they are a danger. So are cars if care is not used in driving them, likewise with knives if not used properly. Each of them are capable of killing if misused. It is the heart that is the force behind these potential murder weapons, not the weapon itself.

Right under my nose, with my eyes blinded to what was going on, the mental institutions in America have been closed down. Where did those residents go? It seems they roam our streets. Only God knows for certain.

The average family does not have the means to offer what these institutions did. Behind bars and fences, residents had meals supplied, medical assistance and counseling; there was no access to weapons.  The confines of the walls offered safety. As well as the community at large.

I remember those institutions as a foreboding place to visit. My Aunt Geraldine lived in one until her death. As a child, I was not allowed entry, so family met at the courtyard, inside the gates. On a personal note, when she came close to being released, she would act out in some manner, assuring her continued residency. She knew her limitations, that living in the real world was too frightening.

We all are God’s creation and the Good Book shows us what the limitations of mankind look like. Because we were made in his image, I want to get a better handle on how to do life. I’m finding its all there for us to learn.  

The Ones Most Missed

Recently we have lost some significant people in our life. Death is a part of life, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. Or for that matter even welcomed. COVID is still lurking around and that is bad enough.

Pictured here is Bob Saget. His death came suddenly and no one was ready for it. Many memories of Bob have come forward since then. As with many in show business, he was involved in other realms of the Hollywood scene. His thing was stand-up comedy; it has been said some of his routines were raunchy; but that was prior to my awareness.                                                     

He loved entertaining, helping us all forget about our problems and making us laugh. I like you, might best remember him as the wise and loving television dad on Full House. Everyone loves a dad involved in a child’s life, offering wholesome support. He will be missed.

Bob wasn’t the only one though. Betty White was another pillar in Hollywood. I first ‘met’ her watching Password on TV. She was a delight to hear and seemed to be forever full of joy. Betty didn’t take herself too seriously and seemed to make anything fun. She portrayed a life well-lived and will also be missed.

Totie Fields is another one. She is from way back. I first became ‘acquainted’ with her on the Mike Douglas show. A comedian like Betty, never taking herself seriously. As I recall her jokes were mostly of her being overweight, but at peace with herself..

The one joke Totie cracked that stayed with me was when she thumped two fingers under her double chin aiming to reduce it. She would hold those fingers up for us to see how slimmed down they were. Upon hearing that, I recall thinking I’ve gotta tell Mom that, she would love it. Then it hit me, Mom died. No more could I share funny little things with her. I miss Totie’s humor.

But I miss Mom more. It’s interesting to think how much people impact our life, but we never let them know how much they mean to us. Good, wholesome people that bring a smile and joy, but it is too late now.

That is not a new realization. Back when Jesus walked the earth, he was not a funny man. But he did take himself seriously, and sure could make people smile, forget their problems, and enjoy his presence. Not everyone loved him. He would tell it like it is, much like a parent that speaks what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  .

He exuded a different kind of joy, not fun, but giving hope and restoration to people that badly needed it. Not until after his death did people realize who they had lost. The good news is it is never too late to revere him. He is a timeless kind of guy, who sent a comforter to come behind him. A spirit that gives a strength beyond what we know, and hope for a better future. We don’t have to miss him because the Good Book says he is closer than a brother. He doesn’t leave memories; he makes them as we go along together.

Those Were The Days…

my friend, we thought they’d never end. We’d sing and dance, forever and a day. Thankfully, they did end. No, I was not singing and dancing. I was going through the grocery store in three laps.

The time was in the early seventies, the place Glenview, Illinois. My husband Dave was in serving in the Navy.

We lived on a tight budget. People find this hard to believe, and even I marvel how we ever made it through. Dave was fresh out of boot camp and brought home $77.00 every two weeks. That covered paying on a mobile home we were trying to sell and rent for our furnished apartment. Furniture that I could pick up with one hand.

Our lives were much improved over that earlier time when we had two to five cents between us by his next payday. But now we had a baby and they don’t come cheap. We were stationed north of Chicago, but still under the dictates of the city. The meat packers union decided to close the meat counters at 6:00pm. To go grocery shopping after six, you would find the meat counter under cover; unable to purchase anything there.

At that time, we were a single-car family, making it impossible for me to shop early in the day, as Dave had the car at work. He would race home, so our little son, Jamie and I could hop in the car to get our weekly groceries.

Our first stop was at the meat counter. Fortunately, we could purchase meat after six; getting it into our cart before six, our battle was won. Then we would go up and down each aisle picking up the bare essentials.

Oh! Did I mention our little clicker? As we carefully selected each item we added up the price in our handheld clicker. We used mindful caution not to break the bank. This was before the day of a calculator on our cell phone. If anyone spoke of carrying a telephone around wherever we went; we would think they were nuts. Today, people go nuts if they’ve mislaid their cell phone.

The third trip though the store was if we could afford any pleasures. A brownie mix or package of cookies, you get the idea. People speak of the good old days, I’m here to tell you, not all of them were so good. Every era has its short-comings, every generation has an opportunity of obstacles to overcome.

What is amazing is we live to tell about it. Kids haven’t a clue what some of their parents went through, life was not always what it is today. I include myself in that statement; how I wish I had asked my folks what times were like way back when.

It is an eye-opening experience to comprehend what we can both live with and without. One day at a time, the good Lord sees us through it. That is the cool part, he provides what we need, when we need it. If I were to get all my life blessings at once, I would have used them up by the time I entered kindergarten.

One hour at a time, one day at a time; that’s how he rolls.

Resolving Resolutions

©jb katke

Scratch resolutions. They are nothing more than reminders of how we have let ourselves down. Again.

Upon reading through my past Happy New Year 1 blog, I find not much has changed. I continue to avoid artichoke hearts and have yet to lose weight. In fact, I’ve gained a couple pounds…tis the season you know.

The problem is this new year resolution stuff comes right after gorging ourselves during Christmas. Who arranged that? Poor planning if you ask me. Those who knock themselves out preparing holiday junk food; who am I to be rude by refusing to eat it?

This reminds me of what my husband, Dave, has always said. “If it tastes good, spit it out!”

Another decision I made long ago was to discontinue sending Christmas cards. Go figure, this year we received more than the usual folks trying to bone up their business. We actually heard from friends; whom I have decided have more of a life than we do.

Many send greetings through social media, which I find less personal and depressing. Normal people take countless pictures of friends and family. More years than  I care to admit, we went without a camera, now the camera is on our phone. That doesn’t mean I will remember to snap a few memories. This year I was bound and determined to do just that.

Too bad I didn’t get a picture of our Thanksgiving memory-maker. Our meal was laid out buffet style. For the table we painstakingly laid out the silverware place settings, making certain we were all gathered together. How wonderful that our family has grown so much we ran out of chairs! Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to plan.

Christmas day was spent with our daughter and son-in-law. With no pictures to prove it. Tradition, bah humbug!

COVID came for a visit and brought our New Year’s plans to a screeching halt. You do not hear me complaining; both of us are well and are just being cautious interacting with others. It was a quiet holiday. Dave is having a time well spent with woodworking projects and I am catching up on reading.

Regardless of how much planning goes into them, our days are what they are. It is what we make of them that counts. This year has been one of reflection on the good memories. I have chosen to revel in what I have…even if there are no pictures to prove it.

If the lens in our minds have clarity that is something to be thankful for. Happy four-day old New Year!

There is Hope

 © jb katke

Many can hardly wait to see 2021 in the rearview mirror, broken as it is. Are you breathing a sigh of relief because the holiday is over?

The Christmas season is a lot of work. Shopping, wrapping, baking, and being of good cheer when you might not feel it, is hard. Especially when social media blares happiness at us. Many folks just as soon forget ringing in a New Year.

I can recall telling my daughter a new day is a fresh start, an opportunity to change the direction we are going. If only I could take those words and apply them to self! I may not be the only one.

When Jesus arrived in the world, there were no cameras to document the event. I guess you could say he did have a form of social media; but it was to only to a certain, select group. The heavenly angels appeared to a couple shepherds and the brilliant star caught the attention of a few astrologers. That was the extent of what we could call his friends.

Baby Jesus didn’t come to be a rock star calling attention to himself but his life did just that. Through the years his impact was made one person at a time; individuals were his thing. Particularly the broken, overlooked, oppressed, or those just down in life. He was drawn to them like a holy magnet.

Before he set to work, he gathered twelve nobodies. Just ordinary guys, maybe a little broken, that got a front row seat to what he was doing; giving them the opportunity to do likewise. His message of love, hope, forgiveness, and a chance of a new life was spread by word of mouth. It never ceases to amaze me that he trusted these guys to carry it forward.

I can relate to that. Do you feel like a nobody too? I write because Jesus gave me his word to pass on. Through these blogs of mine, I am astounded at the ways he has made himself real to me. Twenty-twenty hindsight opened my eyes. As a child, I could have drowned; as an adult, a possible victim of a drive-by shooter, or maybe killed, being pushed into a full skid of bricks.

But here I am, telling you what a great God we have. One that wants to impact your life for the better. He selected and gave me a chance, now you give him a chance.

Perfect Timing

Or was it; considering being up to your eyeballs in wedding plans? I would never have thought of Christmas as a supernatural experience. Joseph didn’t either.

Nor Mary. Not the shepherds that were just out doing their job. Possibly the astrologers: they may have been the forerunner of our climate change people of today. But the timing of it all!

We know the story of Christmas, of Mary expecting a child out-of-wedlock. My guess is this was not in her plans. She was a girl in her teens, engaged to Joseph. Back in the day it was a promise; an agreement between parents where the young people involved had no say.

Joseph didn’t believe Mary when she first told him of her pregnancy. Her line was that she was visited by an angel that told her she would become pregnant, not in the normal way, but God would do it. If you were Joseph, would you believe her?

Necessity took precedence. The society of that time would put a black mark on Joseph not waiting for his wedding day. Poor Mary could be stoned to death for her sin. Arranging for a hush-hush divorce was the only way out of this hot mess.

 Cue the angel coming to Joseph before he finally believed. Complete with telling him what the name of the baby would be. But the story doesn’t end there. A whole choir of angels appeared in the night sky for shepherds to witness. In one sense, they were not expecting this angelic visit, but on the other hand, they knew a Savior would come…sometime.

Reading in the Good Book, starting in Matthew, we are told the genealogy of her baby boy. Keep in mind this could be a fantasy story because of the supernatural nature. The following book, Mark, tells us of the things this child, now grown man did.

The book after that, Luke, goes centuries back in time, foretelling the birth of this child. Does the movie Back to the Future come to mind? After Luke, comes the book of John. In it we read more of the back story as well as a continuation of this man named Jesus.

Who would have thought this Savior would come as a baby? Everybody was looking for a king to come to set things right, not an infant!

But wait, there is more. Astrologers were watching, studying the stars, noticing one especially bright this night. They set out to follow where it was leading. 

At the risk of being a spoiler alert, I urge you to dig into this story; there is so much to gain from it. The beauty of a good book is the ability to put yourself into the story. To imagine yourself living in that life and time. What would you do? What would you think?

How would you respond, knowing full-well the injustice going on around you? The world needed a Savior, now we have access to one. Maybe I need to  cooperate with God’s plan like Mary did, accept it as Joseph did, be in awe of the miracle like the shepherds, and keep a watchful eye like the astrologers to recognize it when its as plain as the nose on my face.

Merry Christmas

This Is Just Between Us

“Warning! Danger!” So said the Robot on the television series, Lost In Space. This post is for adults only. If you have trouble dealing with truth, sign off and go on about your day.

I am sharing a peek of my brother with you. Bruce is seven years older than I, so I missed out on this scene. Although mentally, I can see it played out.

Bruce was around six years old, when he came home from school in the pit of depression. Entering the house, he plopped himself down on the steps leading to the kitchen with his head in his hands. Despair written all over his little face.

Mom asked, “Bruce, what happened at school today to make you so sad?”

The little guy may have had trouble speaking, choking on his words. “Some kids at school today told me there is no Santa Claus.” His face reflected the loss of a dear friend.

Our mom was always honest; even if it meant she could no longer hide the truth. She confirmed that what Bruce heard and dreaded was true. For several moments he just sat on the steps letting this soak in.

“Then I suppose there is no Easter Bunny either?” Reality can bite.

Perhaps this made you smile, remembering your own moment of truth. Looking back at my own childhood, I recall playing along with my parents, and believed in the fantasy. One can not be too careful when dealing with incoming gifts.

It also makes me recall Dave and I taking our firstborn, Jamie, to see Santa. We patiently waited in line as our boy went over what gifts he would ask for. When his turn came we helped him up on Santa’s lap. After making his requests known, we walked away. Jamie spoke up, “That was not the real Santa.” He stated it in such a matter-of-the-fact manner that we were momentarily stunned.

“Jamie, how could you tell?”

“He never once said Ho Ho Ho.”

As adults its equally hard to comprehend someone loving us; despite our faults, and joyfully giving us gifts. Especially when we least deserve them. That is precisely what Jesus’ dad does; every year the Christmas season reminds us of that. Everywhere we turn we hear songs celebrating the birth of a Savior.

Why should that be so hard to wrap our minds around? If you are a parent, you know how to give your child the desires of his heart. They are mini-you, your own flesh and blood. Out of that love you may even not give them what they asked for, but what you know they need.

Just like God does, offering us the opportunity to live in perfection forever. No other gift can top that! Warning! Danger! Be sure you don’t confuse Santa with God though. One of them is a fantasy, the other a Life Saver.

The Best Gift Ever

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:15 NIV

I have a story within a story here, hang with me; every bit of it is true. The above verse is recorded during a very bad time. It hails from a long-ago society that may be hard to imagine today. There was a king, Ahasuerus, big on ego and short on temper. One could say he had a temper tantrum when his wife, who was incredibly beautiful didn’t cooperate when he ordered her to bare herself to his guests. As was common in the day, he just disposed of her. Not killing; worse, making her his concubine. No one in the outside world would have access to her for the rest of life.

But this left the king without a wife. He decides to put on a beauty contest, the winner gets to be the new queen. Enter Esther. She was a young orphan girl living with her cousin.

At the same time as this drama is unfolding, the kings right hand man, has anger issues of his own. He gets ticked at one guy and decides to have his entire Jewish race wiped out.  

Only God could orchestrate this scene. Esther wins the contest, becoming the new queen. Unbeknownst to the king, she is a Jew. Because you are reading this today, you can figure out how things turned out. If you want the gory details, haul out the Good Book and read Esther for yourself. It’s one of my favorites.

The reason I go to this story length is because you might be feeling like your living in a bad time. There is no reason for me to elaborate on the conditions, you know. We find ourselves in a place we never imagined being. Still. Holidays demands give enough stress and funds can go only so far. Christmas may look different for many this year. This is why I pass these words to you.

Currently I am reading a book from one of my favorite authors, Debbie MacComber. One Simple Act, Discovering the Power of Generosity. MacComber elaborates on all the ways we can gift someone without spending an arm and a leg. One of her suggestions is plain and simple. Words. Ones that encourage, build-up and offer hope. Like Esther, you may be in such a time as this for a reason.

Your words may be spoken or written. Not everyone is good at expressing themselves but I favor the written. The receiver will hang onto your note and read it many times over. It may be outside your comfort zone, but dabble with what you might wish to hear. Chances are others would like to hear the same thing.

The beautiful thing about words there is no need to shop around for the best price. The added plus is you don’t need to wrap them. Well, maybe wrap them in truth and love. It won’t hurt. Honest! Feelings and actions acknowledged are a gift.

Words have power, Jesus’ dad proved it.  According the Good Book, he spoke and nature, all of life really came to be. Creating mankind, he breathed in Adam and he came to life. The rest is history. There is more to that, but today lets focus on the birth of a perfect man, arriving on planet earth as a newborn. He experienced what the world had to offer and made a way for us to know a perfect life too. If we want it, I should add.

The WOW factor comes when we realize we don’t deserve the good things in our life, he granted them before we got our act together.

Post T-day Memories

 © jb katke

We have wrapped up another Thanksgiving Day for the memory book. Like every year, this one was different. Silly me, I thought the energy of the day was in all the prep work of the house and food. Not so, it’s keeping up with the little people in the family.

I learned my great-grandchildren are a bigger treasure than I realized. They bring life to the party and a new way to play games. Six-year-old Josie and I sat down to play a Bingo game. We were each playing by differing rules; she explained, “GG I think you are playing the right way, but that is not the way I play the game.” Such tact and insight from one so young.

Matthew found Nana cleaning up in the kitchen. But he wanted to play with her. “I’ll tell you what, you help me in the kitchen, then we will play, ok?” He agreed and was quite the little helper, never minding his clothes getting sopping wet in the process of rinsing dishes.

Aunt Naomi disappeared. Little Teddy found her for us. Not quite talking yet he stood outside the bedroom door pointing into the room. “Yes Teddy, that is my bedroom where I go nigh-night.” Placing his little finger up to his lips, motioning me to shush. There she was stretched out on the bed taking a catnap. Proving to me he was sensitive enough to be quiet when someone is trying to sleep. 

My youngest granddaughter, Emily, had agreed to a shopping trip with me. I learned she is in to antiques and all things old. A girl after my own heart! Initially we were after a bookcase, but that got taken care of by a friend. She’s becoming a reader, oh happy day! But it seems some home décor was also needed.

To the antique flea market we went, with boyfriend in tow. I thought maybe to keep her from spending too much, but no. He’s into old stuff too…my heart is full. What fun it is to (finally) have a young member of the family desiring heirloom things. She probably could have gone shopping in my home and saved some money. The two of them made this old lady very happy.

Families. Sometimes we think we think there is no living with them. In reality we cannot live without them. They are capable of bringing both tears of pain and joy, but the love is worth it all. Its been said we can choose our friends but something as important as kin are up to the Lord. He knows the personalities needed for us to expand and grow.

Most importantly, to hand the ones we treasure over to Jesus when we are helpless to make sense of awkward situations. Only he can do that; I can vouch to you it will all be good. Not just for you, but will bring added respect to Jesus. Then you too, can become the voice of experience spreading the good news to others that need hope. The Christmas season a prime time to do that.

Genuine Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

A particular Thanksgiving comes to mind annually. The year was 1981,

I had just come home from the hospital, having given birth to our third child.

Being so close to the holiday made commitments to anyone’s invite to join them for dinner sketchy. I’ve yet to meet a little one that takes note of a holiday or their parents schedule before making an appearance.

Our friend Carrie thought of that. Of course she would, being the mother of four.

Our church made a point of delivering meals to new families. And Carrie delivered. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving she brought us a meal with all the fixings. Even down to festive napkins.

I was incredulous at the time and effort she invested for our family. Not everyone would be open to preparing a meal like that to give away. Carrie wanted to make sure we didn’t spend a holiday in want. Mental pictures formed of her returning home and serving hotdogs to her own family.

Each year that memory comes back to life, humbling me every time. Except I can’t recall what we actually did for Thanksgiving that year. Whatever it was couldn’t top what Carrie had done for us. That sticks.

That is a picture of sacrificial love. Unexpected, but appreciated annually. My wish for you is a happy Thanksgiving, one that may be filled with kindness, love, and a memory for all things good.

Gratitude Attitude

The upcoming holiday season has all the makings of being different, just like last year was. Changes are part of life. The part of life I don’t like. It runs along the line of kids not coming home for Thanksgiving. Or the death of a loved one leaving an empty chair at the table will always bring a heart wrenching ache.

Many Thanksgivings ago, a group of our friends joined in making a basket for a less fortunate family. One of the women had the idea of using a laundry basket; a homemaker never has too many of those. We had a good time meeting up at the local grocer to select foods to place in it.  There was ample room for the turkey and all the trimmings.

Imagine our surprise when delivering this; to learn the family had no oven! We had the good fortune that one of our kids worked at an appliance store, making it possible for us to throw in a few dollars and provide that as well. I think the Indians had a saying something along the line of you can’t know what someone is going through until you walk a mile in their moccasins.

As you comb your mind, desperately seeking ways to make things festive, remember two this. Things could always be worse, and don’t forget to be grateful. Retail stores barely acknowledge Thanksgiving. Your thoughts will bring all sorts of memories to mind that could easily be overlooked. The near miss of an accident, the ability to pay your bills, or maybe being thankful you have an oven. An attitude of gratitude doesn’t focus on the have nots, just the haves.

This year decreased availability of items as prices go up in everything imaginable is a recipe for a stressful season. I urge you to take stock of what you do have. Have you seen the pictures of Christmas trees made of books? Lots of us have excess books, put them to work!

Let your creative juices flow. If you’re lacking in that, check out Pinterest, it seems to be teeming with projects. Tap into the people you know that love to work with their hands. Or, try shopping in the local mom and pop markets; they may cater services that Walmart doesn’t. For some time now I have heard we should check them out, too many have succumbed to the pandemic crisis. They struggle to make ends meet too and will thank you for the support.

Praise to the good Lord above that we still have options.

Unaturalistic

If you are a lover of all things nature, the following is not for you. You may be excused to carry on with your day.

Dave and I have a friend that can look at a spider and see the beauty of it. Mom always said, “A thing of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I see nothing beautiful to behold in a spider. My eye sees a creepy, crawly, too-many legged thing that does not belong in my home. Nor in my yard.

Our exterminator and I were chatting outside as he finished up working. Spotting a spider crawling on the house. “Since you are here, could you shoot some spray on that spider?” That being his business, he obliged me. “Oh, he’s irritated now.” With indignation I replied, “I don’t want him irritated; I want him dead!”

This time of year, I would wield a big stick when mowing the grass of our previous home. The house sat on a  larger than normal piece of land for a neighborhood and held all kinds of nesting places. The autumn season brought those really big orb spiders making their presence known. If you should run into one of their webs you would get a crawling sensation, even if the spider was not there. I probably made quite a picture for passers-by, waving a stick around, knocking down webs that cannot be seen from a distance.

Just writing this makes me feel  crawly. I cannot tolerate them. Everyone has something that can’t be tolerated. Grandma wouldn’t tolerate a messy house. My mom couldn’t tolerate the cotton balls that come with over-the-counter medications.

The mystery is why some things are more bothersome than others. Even the most tolerant of people can be intolerant. We come from various walks of life and experience different situations. Its saddening when folks find they can’t handle those who think differently. It happens in places you would least expect. Differing diagnosis between doctors, private schools, right on down to families.

 No one is exempt, not even churches. Does that surprise you? Many look upon a church as a place where perfect people go. Not so. A church houses  a people group who are struggling to make sense of life, that have messed things up badly and need to know that God provides hope. He is capable of turning difficulty into something good.

My father once told me, “If you find a perfect church to attend, you’ll ruin it.” Gee, thanks dad! He also told me that if I find one that teaches from the Bible, you will hear truth. Dad was right to steer me in that direction. Even with our differences, we can find Jesus’ words to cling to, when our actions are questionable.

He warns us against doing what seems right in our own eyes and thankfully sees where our heart lies. Jesus doesn’t want any creepy, crawly attitude to enter our hearts, especially with those that we will be spending an eternity with!

Costuming

Shhh,,,can you hear a sigh of relief? Halloween is over for another year. For the mothers that made those costumes, they should get a badge of honor. I remember those days. Making them a size or two larger to accommodate a coat was a necessity. Michigan Octobers are cold.

Halloween isn’t the only time costumes are donned. Back in the day of my childhood, we dressed up for church. Flying on an airline, travelers donned their good duds. Later on, work places allowed casual Fridays, veering from the business casual of the week.

Living near an international electronic business, I see employees out and about in ultra-casual attire. They could turn the tables and have a dress for success Friday. Time has changed and I’m not certain if its for the better or worse.

Through the years I have witnessed these changes, not just in our wardrobe, but the behavior of people as well. When dressed nicely, people don an attitude of  civility towards each other. Those who put time and thought into how they present themselves are respected.

Tim is a case in point. He lamented, “My wife makes such a big deal about how I dress for work. But I like wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, they’re comfortable.” Not to argue his point, but when he presented ideas or wishes concerning his position, he wasn’t taken seriously. It sincerely brought him down.

I tried to make him understand, but not sure he bought it. “The thing is Tim, how you present yourself to others is a reflection on both you and your wife. She thinks highly of you and knows you deserve the respect that comes with what you bring to the company.”

Years ago, our son Jamie earned a two-week scholarship to the National School of Music. It was a big deal for us; as we readied him for the school, there were regulations we had to abide by. He was required a certain color of pant, shirt and belt. The purpose was not lost on us.

Students from all walks of life came for the focused classes they provided. By everyone having the same attire, it leveled the playing field. Class and social distinction was eliminated and gave the students the opportunity to form lasting friendships, no matter the background.

Getting back to Halloween, perhaps we should have more input in what our children put on. If they are going to act out that character, it could be to their detriment. I wouldn’t want my little Superman to try flying out a window. No one would want their young one dressed like a devil.to act like one. Better to stick with innocent figures; angels would be good!

Impact!

            Tooling down the street, minding our own business, we suddenly find ourselves swerving out of control. Our hearts were light, giddy for how our future was unfolding. I was five months pregnant with our first child. How quickly our picture changed!

            My husband Dave had recently gotten out of bootcamp, with the Navy stationing us in Glenview, Illinois. The least likely place one would think to plant a military base. It was what I considered an upscale neighborhood. Middle class may have been a better description. One must keep in mind comparisons; I was raised in a semi-rural area.

            We were heading home from purchasing a sleeper sofa and an area rug. That was no small feat. Back in the day, it was difficult for young people to establish credit. Today charge cards are handed out like trick or treat candy.

            As newlyweds we purchased a mobile home; only to put it up for sale nine months later. Uncle Sam needed a few good men to serve their country during the Viet Nam era. Moving to our converted barracks apartment, furniture was sparse. Hence, our purchase.

            Suddenly a car shot out of the parking lot of a shopping mall, running a green light, hitting us. I suppose that could be reworded. We ran a red light. Traffic signals of Illinois may be different now.

            At the time we lived there, traffic lights were stationed at the corner of intersections, meaning a driver had to take their eyes off the road to see it. If anyone had asked me, I would have said that was poor planning of the road commission. No none asked.

            The elderly man that hit us got more than a fair amount of feedback from his son. “Dad, you had an accident with a service man? Do you have any idea how to contact him? You’re never gonna see this guy again. How do you feel, did you have any whiplash?”

            Several days later, Dave did contact the man, with cash in hand to pay for his damages. He was surprised to see us, welcoming us into his humble home. It was our turn to be surprised; the gentleman presented us with a Release of Claims document. He was not holding us responsible for any physical harm incurred from the accident.

            Enough time has passed for my reflection on this unfortunate incident and see the comparisons. The old guy didn’t have to do this; he was more concerned about a couple young kids and their unborn child. I know of a guy who voluntarily died for mankind, who was prone to do wrong.

Living in an imperfect world, Jesus made a way for us all to ultimately look forward to living in perfection. He didn’t have to do it, but did so by choice. He was more concerned about you and I.           

If Dishes Could Talk

 © jb katke

If a persons’ wealth revolved around their dishes, I am filthy rich. Recently my dishes have started talking to me. I had a few words for them as well.

Through the years I had become heir to several sets of dishes and glassware. I would love to continue the momentum of passing them on. One little bitty problem, many of my young millennial girls don’t want them. I wonder what will take place when they are next in line?

As I began my annual dishwashing ceremony; I was again reminded of how much of what I have is disliked. Washing dish after bowl, after cup, after saucer; they all began speaking to me. This Desert Rose pattern can be seen in antique stores everywhere.

 They were Aunt Janes. She never married, didn’t have a home to call her own until both her parents died, leaving her the only home she knew.  In her years of collecting, did she have hope of establishing her own home and a husband?

Other pink flowers entered my life from an Aunt Marion I barely knew. When she passed away, Mom and Dad traveled to collect Uncle Charlie and whatever else they could fit in their car. Among them, dishes.

The interesting story on them are how important they were to Grandma Andrews, Moms mother. Jane had her china; she may have thought this was her chance to have her own. I know she voiced an inquiry of them to my mom. “Mom, we only had so much room in the car.”

Grandma turned her question to me, but I knew nothing. It wasn’t until after mom died that the question came up again. Still, I knew nothing. But sometime later, those dishes found their way  to my house. Apparently, Mom wanted me to have them. The pattern hails from the 1800’s, that’s all I know about them.

I am the proud owner of my mother-in-law’s serving dishes. Or maybe they were her mothers’; it doesn’t matter, they are mine now. More pink flowers. There must have been an unwritten rule back in the day that all china must bear pink flowers. I thought it was only yellow flowers I didn’t like.

My mothers dishes are another story. She got the pieces one week at a time, at the grocery store. Each week a different part of the set was featured. Mom marched them home, right into her retirement hope chest, planning to put them to use after dad’s retirement. They aren’t pink! Blue cornflowers are the design. They remind me her favorite color was blue.

A small red set comes from my daughter. They are high maintenance because they require hand-washing. These are ideal around Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Another plus is they are relatively small; it keeps me from overeating.

I have a set bearing an apple pattern. Also, from Aunt Jane. I believe she got hers at the grocery store, like my mom.  The green leaves and red makes them perfect for both autumn and the Christmas season.

Finally, my dishes. A small set of dinner plates only. They sport a quilt pattern, reflecting my appreciation of quilts.

The plain old white set is what I use on a daily basis. I purchased them expressively for how attractive they would look with the tablecloths I never use.

All of these dishes has made my husband Dave, a dish connoisseur. Some are too small, others have to wide a brim, making the cutting of food awkward, others are too much like a bowl. All in all, each of them are too something. Bottom line: I have had enough!

From Trash to Treasure

© jb katke

When I was growing up it was called making do, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve since converted.

Many are still staying within the confines of home. Upcycling old pieces has become the rage. The time is ripe for all crafters and do-it-yourselfers to unite.

Never has there been so many TV shows on home improvement. It’s satisfying sitting in the comfort of my home watching houses get torn into shambles and rebuilt into new and improved condition that someone will gladly call home. I love the fact that I’m not the one sweeping up the debris!

It doesn’t stop at homes, either. Old things have the capability of being put to a new use. This picture I share with you comes from my mothers childhood. It was her toybox. The measurements are 20”long x 9.5” tall and 11” deep. That is not very big by todays standard toybox size.

Why so small? Mom never said as much to me, but I venture to guess. Back in the day, children filled their time with useful activities. Gardens needed weeding, or picking the vegetables for dinner. Many homes did not have the advantage of sidewalks or paved driveways, hence, floors needed perpetual sweeping. You get the idea.

Today moms toybox now lives in my quilt room; holding all manner of sewing paraphernalia I most likely will never use. Maybe its time for round two of flushing out unused items. It still amazes me that I don’t miss quilting; when at one time I lived and breathed it.

What pleases me is using the time I used to say I never had enough of for sewing, but now am writing. It satisfies the soul and take comfort I am doing something God initiated. If you have been following me all along, you know; this was never on my bucket list.

An idea is a mental revolution of doing what never was previously thought about. Such as the pie safe my husband Dave made. He probably didn’t know I loved pie safes. We trotted over to the new homes being built outside our door and gathered the wood pallets destined for the trash. The rest is history. You can get a glimpse of it in my A Labor Of Love blog.

A repair man commented on liking my singers. Singers? What is he talking about? Pointing up to the space above our closet were perched two sewing machines, removed from their cabinets. Once they were serviceable necessities in my grandmothers homes, now décor.

Likewise for the vintage hand tools from my grandfathers tool box. Newly attached to a distressed wood backing; complete with a center vice grip displayed as if a letter K for out last name. More décor. I should probably mention grandpa’s tool box as well. It’s built for the ages, weighing in just under twenty pounds empty. It now houses my ribbons, trims, and lace pieces that I won’t live long enough to put to use.

Having these things around me brings a smile. I think back on the people who once used them and how essential the items were to their daily life. Just as I looked upon myself as a quilter, God saw another use in me. One I never dreamed of, but feel a contentment that I am capable of more than I think. With Gods help, of course.

Not Sorry

© jb katke

It’s so easy to look back on things we’ve done and have regrets. Can we take a moment and make a list of what we are not sorry for?

I’m sharing this photo with you, a weekend project. The wheelbarrow carries much more than these pumpkins you see. It was my dad’s, and he used to give me rides in it when I was a child. We have no need of it, but I can’t seem to part with it yet. Having limited storage ranks this as yard décor. I hope.

Currently, we are in an HOA community, they call the shots as to whether we can keep it or do away with it. Providing it is not a problem will entail having to have some form of a pretty in it year-round. I’ve figured out summer, each fall I can do as you see here. Winter I will have to think on.

My husband has his doubts. Especially after we embarked on moving the thing full of dirt in this locale. A few things were in its path, making it difficult. It took muscle, moving the downspout and a guy grumbling, “The things we do to keep a wife happy.”

Not sorry. It’s looking good, for the moment. Now if I can just get the powers that be to see things my way.

When a new baby joined our family, I made it a practice to keep the older siblings home from school when I returned home with our new bundle of joy. My purpose was to give the children a chance to get to know their new sister and how home was going to look a little different. Hopefully too, they wouldn’t feel left out and resentful. Not at all sorry.

The day our youngest put in a request to wear her roller skates to school amongst warnings, “You’re gonna get in trouble!” She didn’t. Permission granted, not sorry.

Here is a big one, giving my granddaughters cake along with their breakfast! When Momma found that out, “Mom! I can’t believe you did that! You never let us kids do that.” Along with grand parenthood comes certain rights, like spoiling them rotten. Not sorry.

Finally got my husband to agree to moving. “This winter we’ll fix up the house and put it on the market in the spring.” I found our new home that same afternoon. Not sorry, we enjoyed that home. 

It took a long time coming, but I have a hutch for all the inherited dishware that belonged to various relatives, I was next in line. No one, including me, has good dishes anymore, making hutches almost extinct. I enjoy mine. Not sorry.

I accidently got into a car accident, totaling my vehicle. A car I never liked anyway. It is now of great importance to my husband that I like our cars. Not sorry.

It took me some time to realize the Lord was serious. I’m now following his direction and writing a book. Not sorry.

Really grateful that our Creator sees potential in all of us, giving us opportunity to step out of comfort zones and see what a difference he can make in life. So incredibly not sorry!

Things That Bring A Smile

© jb katke

During this COVID season, I have cut back drastically from shopping. Such a pity as I am an excellent shopper. I have a system; beginning to my right, I walk the four outer walls. Then proceed up and down the center aisles, making sure I miss nothing. As I go along, I place items of a potential purchase in my cart. Just before I approach the cashier, I retrace my steps and return my choices back on their respective shelf. I don’t bring much home, but do save a few dollars in the process.

A new home dec store opened in the neighborhood some time back and I could resist no more. The day was reserved on my calendar and I was so anxious I could taste the anticipation. Enough time had passed that I gave myself permission to make a fresh addition to my home. Clearly, I was in a spending mood.

Following the above pattern, I happened along many nice items. They didn’t make it to my cart, though. The place was full bore decked for Halloween. I’m not into spooky, so passed them by. However, I am all over autumn décor. There was much to be had; but a bit glamorous for my taste. Others were a little too scare crow like. Did I mention that I’m picky? I prefer the term selective. Much was priced over what I was willing to spend. Leaving the store, I was disappointed in my inability to satisfy that spending spree I had hoped for.

But wait. Next door is an antique shop. Old and broken in is more my style. Antique stores are not what I remember from my youth. My parents used to frequent them when there was a furniture need; and indeed, the merchandise was vintage. Today, we might find something old, a fair share of refurbished items or new crafts with that aged look. If you are intent on a genuine antique, care must be taken.  

I am glad I entered. Because being a genuine antique is not of importance to me, I find myself  more open-minded to what strikes my fancy. Today my fancy was struck by a vintage toy we once had for our children. It was a pint-size bench that held round pegs for hammering. Immediately, it brought a smile to my face.

Our first home had four bedrooms upstairs in a revamped attic. There was only one heat register; unacceptable for Michigan winters. The home improvements started with a new furnace and heat ducts for the upper level. The job created quite a racket, more that our little son could handle. When the workers began their hammering, so did Jamie on his toy. I thought was his coping mechanism was clever for a three-year-old.  

I’m not quite sure what to call the other purchase I made. Possibly an urn, or maybe a vase? It certainly was not a need but the colors called out to me. Blue and green are a favorite color combo of mine. Showing the purchase to my husband, Dave, I noticed Roseville written on the bottom. I have watched enough of the TV show, Antiques Roadshow, that the name sounded familiar to me. Roseville pottery is of value. There were no other markings to determine if it is the real deal or a knock-off. No matter to me, I like it.

My mother’s words come back to me, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Another adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It makes me so very grateful that Jesus found joy in me before I had joy in him. He might be smiling at us right now.

Who Would Do This?

© jb katke

Who do you know that would make three rounds of shopping through the grocery store? I did.

At the time, we were living north of Chicago and the meat cutters union decided to close the counter at 6pm. The solution was easy enough, do your shopping during the day. That wouldn’t work for us. We were a one car family for several years. My husband would have to rush home to collect me and our baby in order to get what we needed.

The first round I picked up meat, the second round consisted of baby food and essentials, the third time round was for the enjoyable miscellaneous items it would be nice to munch on. This was a time before cell phones that had a calculator. To stay within budget, I had a small clicker type device that kept track of my expenses

Do you know anyone who dislikes parties to put on a bash for the neighborhood children. I and my neighbors did. In the eighties there were many news articles of candy that had either a needle or a razor injected into it. For the safety’s sake, we eliminated that concern opting to throw a party, thus doing away with a trip to ER.

For the children to feel like they were not missing out going door to door, you can imagine how much goodies we had to provide for them. The upside of the situation; we were free to make baked goods and popcorn balls, knowing all would be safe for them.

Do you know anyone who swore up, down, and cross ways they would never live in a house that required you to pass it in order to arrive home? I did, only to make a liar of myself. Many homes are backed up to a main street. I must pass my home to get to the street that enters the neighborhood, then make an immediate turn onto my street where home sits. You will never convince me Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor. Speaking of homes…

Among the few that have the privilege of having a new home built in accordance with many of the buyers specs; who on earth would pray that it wouldn’t be ideal? Right again, I did.

We all have our reasons, here are mine. As I read through the Good Book, I came to realize there is another life other than this one we know today. A life with no end. When I leave this world, I am hanging my hat on living with Jesus and his dad. It has everything we hoped for on planet earth, but never came to be.

To seal the deal for my forever home, I have decided to agree with Jesus and give honor and respect to his dad, the Creator of life itself. To do that, I have willingly made other things, the stuff that is a big deal here, of little importance. Nothing here can compare with the life we have available later.

God never disappoints. My home here is less than perfect. When I come across some little detail that I know is a job poorly done, I smile at my answered prayer.

Finally, who on earth would purchase a greeting card for themselves? You are noticing a pattern. I did. While I never set out to do so, as I perused cards for a couple upcoming birthdays; I come across this one. Is it perfect for me or what? It is perfect for a lot of writers I know.

Here is the deal. I have never desired to write, not a blog, nor the book I am in the process of. Whether we realize it or not, everyone has a message to get out. Yes, I know everyone seems to be writing a book these days. Others planned it, I did not. My message to you is, God is alive, working 24/7 and would love very much to be more involved in your life. Will you let him?

I can tell you he will take you places you have never been and what a ride it will be!

Don’t Forget

Can you remember what took place twenty years ago?

We have wrapped up a week of remembering. The mantra of 9/11 was, “We will never forget.”

Atrocities have happened throughout the centuries. Generations have been impacted and stories documented. A high school teacher once told parents how difficult it is teaching history, “Events happen every day, adding to what has already occurred long ago. It’s too much to teach!”

A sad truth.

As a rule, I have trouble remembering what we had for dinner the night before. I may have gone to great pains in preparation, but our meals are never noteworthy enough to write about. It’s easier to do the opposite of remembering, and forget. As New Yorkers may say, “Fget about it!”

Another sad truth are the good things that happen and for whatever reason, the stories don’t get passed along. This is not a new or unique situation. Take a peek into the book of Exodus in the Good Book. It is a story like none other.

Jesus’ dad promised Abraham that a great nation would be founded through him; it was Israel. Only they were oppressed by another nation into slavery.  But God impressed upon a man, Moses, to lead the Israelites out to a promised land.  It took forty years!

Spoiler alert: Jesus’ dad made lots of promises that stand even today. In addition, he uses ordinary man to get his plan done.

You can’t make this stuff up; read it for yourself! Tragedy, disappointment, and miracles all took place in this one true story. Here is my point in mentioning it, people witnessed all these things happening around them.

They were warned, don’t forget what you experienced. Tell your children what you saw and how Jesus’ dad worked miracles into those difficult days. The kids are not going to realize the importance if you don’t let them know. It’s part of their history; they were too young to understand at the time.

I can’t help but think it is more important now than ever. There was a time when families all lived in the same community. Not so anymore.

No longer do grandparents have the opportunity to invest in the grandchildren, reinforcing what mom and dad strive to teach. There are times, whether baking cookies, or going fishing, whatever; they are teachable moments we can impress our young ones into becoming responsible adults.

This is close to my heart, because the little ones in our family are not close by. It’s not always children either. I recall teaching my brother how to sew on a button after his wife passed away.

People need people. People need Jesus and the miracles his dad can do to help make good things come from bad situations. 

Looking Reality in the Eye

 © jb katke

Good heavens girl, what is your problem? There are thousands, maybe millions of people, that would give anything to be in your situation.

I had just left my eye doctors office. The report indicated there was very little change in my vision. Prior to my appointment I had geared myself up for getting new lenses. I was ready.

The glasses I wear now are three years old. At the time, I had chosen, to step away from the transition lenses I’ve had in the past and try something different. I opted for a tiny magnet on them that held magnetized  sunglasses when needed. I don’t like different. No surprise there!

When I step in from outside, I must stop to remove the sunglasses and put them in a safe place in my purse. They are fragile. Is there really a safe place in a woman’s purse? Not likely. Likewise, when going outside, I stop to fish my sunglasses out to put them on.

That, my friends is called a first world problem. Wah, wah ,wah. 

In fairness, I should say I am getting new glasses, but they are strictly for working at the computer. I’m eager to get these prescription lenses as it has been a challenge writing. Currently, I find myself wearing my glasses together with regular computer glasses. There is a fine line ‘window’ of where my vision is good and I end of nodding my head up and down as if saying yes. Hope you enjoyed that little mental picture.

Have you ever noticed there are some people you can’t please? Apparently I am one of them. It’s the little things in life that can be big if you are dealing with them on a daily basis. No one enjoys inconvenience.

Even so, I can’t help but wonder if inconvenience could be a flag waving for us to realign our thinking. We live in an age of convenience and comfort. While we take selfies of our pleasurable moments, it can also lead to idle time ill-used.

Maybe if our society took a more hands-on approach, we would feel better about ourselves. In the formative years of our country, people worked together to meet needs. Or so I have read. Folks put their heart and hand to the task to build a life. At the end of the day there was a satisfaction in meeting a challenge.

Another by product was appreciation for a can-do attitude. That is what Solomon found to be true.  He dabbled in a bunch of stuff, experimenting with what brought him the most pleasure. He discovered the most rewarding thing was, believe it or not…WORK! You can read all about his experiences in Ecclesiastes.

There is a pride in accomplishment and nothing feels better than feeling self-satisfaction.

NOTE TO SELF: Be thankful for the abilities I have each day that can so easily be taken for granted. Like vision.

Acknowledging a Need

© jb katke

Cut out from a magazine, this little sign was found in dad’s garage. It reads:

I want my own place.

A place where

I can’t be reached.

I want to be “Off Duty.”

I want to call a “Time Out.”

I want a mute button for reality.

I want to put the world on hold and tell it:

“I’ll get back to you.”

Why did dad feel the need of his own place, and does that resonate with you as much as it did him, and me?

My father lived a full life. Having a sister with mental issues, he grew up in a dysfunctional home. At the ripe old age of twelve, he was gainfully employed up until his retirement. During WWII dad served in the Navy and was stationed in Hawaii-post the Pearl Harbor attack. How tough could that have been?

He and Mom never had an overabundance of funds, but could identify those in need and addressed it to the best of their ability. They made their home open, sometimes to teens, another to an aging uncle. As my grandparents aged, Mom and Dad stepped up looking after them too. Not too long after his retirement, mom’s health took a turn and passed away.

And the Good Lord addressed their need. Before they were promoted to their eternal home, they did find that place of respite and initiated their own time out. It came in the form of a cinder block cabin smack in the middle of nothing. They reveled in their off-duty status of zero responsibilities.

Whatever era we born in, there are times we need a time out. Just as we begin to return to a normal life, pulling off our masks, we find a comeback and the mask becoming part of our wardrobe.

Have you found a place to just breathe and be? My son and his wife love the Northwoods, a niece loves the beach and sun, a friend yearns for the mountains. I have found a couple places, rolling hills bearing bales of hay that speak of a life of purpose. Another is the ocean, watching waves rise and fall, you don’t know where they come from or where they are going, but life goes on. Sometimes, just listening to leaves rustling in the breeze can be calming.

There is a place that can easily be overlooked. The words of the Good Book have so much to offer.

I will give you only one for now, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Life can be so heavy. Acknowledging a need for divine help can go a long way; the Lord has a supernatural way of making the unbearable bearable.

The Price of Beauty

© jb katke

Beauty don’t come cheap. I was on a mission triggered by my declining blush. Without even consulting me, the company that produced my favorite chose to discontinue my color. The gall!

I aimed to purchase blush, nothing else. As I shopped with a beauty consultant, she pointed out a couple shades that might work well with my skin tone. Then the salesmanship leaked out of her

“Using this toner enhances the color and blends over all.” She put some on my hand for me to see and instructed me to compare it with my other hand.

Oohh, I wish she hadn’t done that. I could see all right; I saw how old my hands were. Those veins sticking out proclaiming my years of toiling on planet earth. That should not have been necessary to point out. Truth hurts!

Then came the sticker shock. I was willing to pay up for a quality product, but had no idea how up, up would be.

That’s when I came up with a battle plan. Each time I need blush, I’m going to a different brand. In so doing, I aim to find an acceptable replacement so that I won’t be stranded again if a color should get discontinued. Never mind that it would take years to use up just one. We’re talking strategy.

As I shared my shopping experience with my husband, Dave, he pointed out a fact that I had completely overlooked. “The make-up counters are the last vestige of personal service we used to experience in retail stores.”

The man is right. No more do we have a salesperson showing us the handkerchiefs or gloves from under glass display cases. Stores of today, we pick what we want off the shelf. Many places are forcing us to ring up and bag our purchases. 

The problem? Not so much the self-service as a lack of personal interaction. People need that, not to mention needing employment.

We all wish to look our best when going out in public, do we not? I became aware of what I forgot as I rushed to leave the house one Sunday morning. Seated next to me sat the beautiful, shapely, always well-dressed, and manicured Jeanette. I forgot to put my face on.

Actually, I have Jeanette to thank for my current lack of make-up standing. She wore it to the hilt, prompting me to wonder about the day when she wasn’t feeling well. What a shock to visit  her and fine her with no false eyelashes, her hair a mess, pale cheeks, and sporting a bathrobe.

From that moment on, I determined to look as presentable as possible with very few enhancements. This should lessen the shock for those visiting and seeing me at my worst.

In light of what is going on in our world today, this is the epitome of trivial. Especially so, when our Creator made us as we are. I venture to say in his eyes, we look good. My assumption comes from when I first cracked open the Good Book.

Right at the start we read of how earth, water, sky came to be. After each accomplishment God said it was good. I take the liberty of thinking likewise for mankind. Not perfect of course; but we are made in his image.

Even so, we bear a  history of making poor choices. It’s that blasted free will that can get in our way. Like deciding blush is absolutely necessary. But then, if we are prone to poor decisions anyway, maybe a little color on our cheeks can’t hurt.

Marital Expiration Date

© jb katke

Question: Is there an expiration date on wedding rings? The date I got mine is indelibly stamped on mine and my husbands’ heart. But on my rings, nothing but the evidence of heavy wear.

I ask because lately I have been unable to wear mine 24/7. After fifty years of devotion! Thank goodness my husband, Dave, has not questioned my naked finger.

I tend to get occasional itching and the rings irritate my raw skin. The situation brings the memory of my childhood when I had dry, chapped and scratched up hands. Apparently when washing my hands, I wasn’t drying them enough. Me and water never have gotten along well.

Maybe I am in hot water too much. Not the trouble kind of hot water, the hand-washing dishes kind of hot water. I must be working too hard.  Those that know me will laugh. I don’t approach housework with gusto.

I did work hard at obtaining my Mrs. degree though, and equally hard to maintain that status ever after. For two people to join forces having been raised in differing homes is no small challenge. Overlooking the cute traits while dating, that now drive you nuts can require daily patience. The flame that used to burn so bright, now needs a little fanning.

My heart goes out to those who seem unwilling to keep their marriage alive. A relationship that turns dry and scratched up is begging for relief. We are living in a disposable society. From house plants and razors, to cars, and even marriage. If it becomes worn out, replace it with something new. I beg you, don’t let the good thing you have die.

New flash! Relationships don’t operate in the same manner. People thrive in an environment of love and acceptance. Our pets may get more affirmative strokes than our spouse or children. The golden rule applies here, do unto others what you would have done for you. It requires a willing heart and effort.  The things worth having are worth working for.

I once heard a quip that people never change. They become more of what they were in their younger years. I can testify that Dave and I are not the same people we were in our early years of marriage. With shared experiences comes a better understanding of not only our weaknesses, but our strengths as well. Joining forces makes for a stronger union.

Additionally, I would not recommend leaving the Lord out of the equation. He comes with a track record of making all things right.

Recently I had a conversation with a fellow budding author. Our subject was nothing about marriage, but all about books. We spoke of our love of them and how vital they are in child-raising. Another world would open up each night as we read to our little ones at bedtime. We shared in their excitement of selecting books to add to their home library collection from the Scholastic Book Club. It involved intentionally entering their world of make believe.

That’s it right there! Intentionally entering in a relationship of another world. Just as Jesus allows things in our little life on earth, prompting us to give him time and thought of his world. Daily he pours love into us to share and spread wherever we can. Sometimes he stops us dead in our tracks to notice what he is doing. A relationship takes time to nurture, but carry on. It is worth it.

Memories

 © jb katke

Stick with me, there is a story here.

Well, maybe more like a memory. Who does not have memories? They can hit you between the eyes when you are least expecting them. It happened to me this morning when we were singing a hymn in church. One I had not heard in a long time.

It took me back to my childhood, when the Methodist congregation would sing, Blessed Assurance, written by Fanny Crosby.

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God…

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long…

All Sunday afternoon, Dad would whistle that hymn. He passed away and now resides in the presence of God. Were you aware that you have been purchased? I will not go into the gory details, and they are gory. Suffice it to say, Jesus, God’s son at one time walked this earth. He lived a perfect life and died on a cross in the most horrific of ways; bleeding to death paying for all the wrong things humans do; for no other reason than for us to have a relationship with him & his dad.

Most of the time, I do not dwell on memories. But when shopping I came across this little toddler toy. A quacking duck. Memories came back of my mom purchasing a toy much like this one for our son, only it was a clucking chicken. It has long since gotten discarded.

I had to purchase this little guy for my soon-to-be forth great-grandchild. It was meant to be!  For no other reason than to honor Mom and her quirky gifts. I have already earned the badge of a grandma with foresight, buying clothes the little ones will grow into years from now. What have I got to lose with this gift? It is unique and one-of-a-king, just like our God.

Despite Appearances

© jb katke

“Wow, you folks must read a lot of books.”

“No ,we really don’t.”

Have you ever met someone whose words did not match their lifestyle? During our travels, we had the pleasure of catching up with the Skrogans. These friends from the past have the most amazing bookshelf I have ever seen in a private home.

Greeting us at the door, Kyle and Suzanne gave us the warmest welcome ever. Stepping inside It was the next thing luring us in. Seeing the books put me at immediate ease, and felt right at home.

Not obvious to the naked eye, Suzanne explained, “They are all categorized. These here are my manuals for my work, Over here are the ones that Kyle has used in his studies and ministry work. The ones at eye level are where we keep the children’s books when the grandchildren come by. This lower shelf holds paper, anytime we need something to write on, it comes in handy.”

They say they don’t read much? I beg to differ.

The four of us come from a generation to know books as an information highway. Clearly, they were available before things like internet. What we didn’t have at home, the public library made accessible.

Today the internet is certainly more available, but sometimes I question the accuracy. Plus, books can always be referred back to. I have discovered what I see on the internet could get lost in cyberspace, never to be found again. To my knowledge, the internet doesn’t read to children either.

I am a bookaholic. Does it show?

Recently, Dave and I found a reality television show concerning an overabundance of…pretty much everything. Not to say the Skrogans home is like that, it was neat as a pin. Nor am I alluding that we identify with excess either.

But we do have books. Some high school textbooks that are no longer applicable to today. Yearbooks of course. Souvenir books from places we have lived or visited. Then there are those books from family members. The ones that meant something to them only. Some are worth keeping, others not so much.

As we have seen on television, some things carry a heavy emotional value. I have found that to be true with many of my home items. Admittedly, I have even thought so far as to purchase in three’s, so that my kids would have this wonderful whatever I was buying too.

Your can’t imagine my shock and amazement that they are not interested.  The television show aired a daughter explaining to her mom, “Your ties to this are yours, not mine. You knew my uncle, I never met him. I don’t have your memories Mom; I have different ones.”

Oh. My. Goodness. My daughter shared those same words with me some time ago. The truth can hurt, but it also is freeing. I now have the ability to let go of an object I’m not taking into eternity with me anyway. Furthermore, I won’t be burdening the kids with stuff.

This letting go stuff is a process. It takes time.

By the same token, I am extremely grateful that God still finds value me and hasn’t disposed of me like an outdated book.

On The Road Again

 ©jb katke

            Weary body, but oh, the things I have learned on our trip!

            Dave and I are home from our twelve days, 2,600+miles of travel to ‘Parts unknown.’ Leaving home, we determined to head northwest. It’s one thing to know we live in a beautiful country, quite another to experience it.

            Nebraska grows cacti. Who knew? I considered it a strictly hot desert plant, not to be found in a climate where ice and snow are common in winter.

©jb katke

            Buffalo don’t live in the United States, bison do. We found them moving on to a better field to graze in South Dakota. That was an unexpected roadside attraction we had not considered.

            Mount Rushmore. What an experience, I had to pinch myself to make certain I really was there. It took fourteen years to create what we enjoy today. With our audio tour we learned many men from various walks of life were involved.  I am in awe of the time, determination and skill to accomplish that work of art.

            Before heading home, we returned to Colorado to revisit a city that had more to offer than we could take in before. That fact remains. The rest of the country got there first making parking nonexistent. We sat in our hotel room  resting before the twelve-hour drive home.

            We still saw things.  Some folks continue to wear face masks, fearing exposure to last years COVID pandemic. Don’t think I am being critical, too many deaths have occurred to not take it seriously.  We all have our reasons for or against the masks, it just saddens me because Jesus doesn’t want us living in fear.

            There were plenty of marijuana shops available. Along with that were people that have chosen to live high, making this traveler uncertain of safety on the street.  Speaking of street…we witnessed some sleeping on the sidewalk of former businesses.

            Lots of businesses have closed permanently, or short hours of operation due to a lack of employees. Simply put, what we hear on the news is a sad reality.  

            We have not traveled in a long time, not that I’m complaining, some never get that privilege.  When the opportunity comes up though, Carpe Diem it. Seize the moment and go for the joy to be had. Our Creator did it for the pleasure we would get from his work.

            My take-away is to look for joy around us. So much in our world has changed. That is one of the things I appreciate about Jesus and his dad. They are the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Good Book says we will be getting a new world and I can hardly wait, ‘cause it’s gonna be good!

            Just make sure you are going to be part of it. You do realize you are a work of art, compliments of God, don’t you? It didn’t even take fourteen years either.

Parts Unknown

As a rule, vacations are rest and recreation. Ours became a spontaneous plan. The summer was fast disappearing. Crunch time was a now or never reality. We wanted to get away from it all before Dave’s work schedule resumes.

Usually, we get in the car and go, stopping wherever something of interest catches our fancy. We made a point of going to parts of the country we have not visited before.

The problem is there are too many places we have never been.

Planning was a prerequisite. We are fresh out of danger of COVID and ready to break loose from the restrictions made necessary last year. Along with the rest of the country. Better to have reservations made with assurance of a bed to fall into at night.

This dear man of mine planned the entire trip single-handed, thinking of where and what I would most enjoy. Dave did such a good job. Our final destination was somewhere west, so we dubbed the trip to ‘Parts unknown.’

I prepared for other aspects of the trip. Like leaving the house in a state you are okay with walking into when returning home. Naturally, washing and packing clothes too.

We are cramming too many miles in our allotted time. It’s one of those situations that, ‘Since we have come this far, we may as well go to…’

The Wyoming State Museum was one of our stops. It provides more history of the state than this head can hold. As we travel, I learn too

Question: As you bake, and note a recipe calling for baking soda, have you wondered where it comes from? Strolling through the displays, I came across this tidbit of information that I share with you. Baking soda comes from Trona rock! Who would have thought?

© jb katke www.wyomingstatemuseum.com

So many thoughts drift in and out of my mind as we travel. Dave’s main concern was me. Just like all that Jesus has done, just for me. Both are good men. We are not home yet, but thus far, we have had safe travel.

An unexpected perk too, was finding money in the washing machine at the laundromat. Provisions come, whether we ask for them or not. All we need do is look. Sometimes we find ourselves in parts unknown, but Jesus is there, excited to astound us.

Significant Other

 © jb katke

It is not what you think.

Today I feature a friend from long ago. Artie, old enough to be my mother, was my mentor in all things quilting.  She was all knowing in my sewing world. I would like to think we were good for each other.

I was new in the community and a novice in the quilt guild. She befriended me as I tried to fit in with so many gifted women. They didn’t know my skill level; I knew how to run a sewing machine. That didn’t matter to Artie, she determined to like me anyway. She had a saying that I still hold dear today, “From the back of a galloping horse, who is going to see the mistake?”

Wednesdays were set aside for us to quilt together. We met at her house, as her husband, Bill, was in poor health. I think the big event for her though, was not the quilting, but going out to lunch. During Bill’s days of employment, he had lunch out and wanted nothing more than a home cooked meal every evening.  Being home, with the kids, she wanted nothing more than to go out.

This photo I share with you, is what I was working on at that time. A handkerchief quilt. In my quilt room I have three handkerchief boxes overflowing with hankies from my mom, grandmother, and aunt. My guess is back in the day, they were as essential as underwear.

Rather than get rid of these handkerchiefs that bring memories of these women, a quilt seemed like a good way to use them. It may have touched Artie’s heart too, appreciating bygone days. I had used fifty of them, putting some around the edges, bed skirt style. Today those handkerchief boxes are still brimming over.

Back in the days of quilting bees, women would gather together bringing their completed quilt tops and attach batting and backing. They could whip out several in a day as they all worked together. From what I have read, they also talked. A lot. Because women have concerns.

That hasn’t changed. Women of today do too. Artie and I would talk. We need a safe place to say things with a person you know will not share it with the world. That was the way in a pre-Facebook era.

My quilting days today don’t look the same. It was a season in my life, when I think the good Lord knew these two women each had something to share with the other.  I began taking my Bible memory verses to Arties for her to help me learn them.

Artie shared she and Bill attended church when they were child-raising. Those days were over. Its difficult to stay focused on a spirit lead life when you don’t get refueled on a regular basis.

 I will never know this side of heaven, but hope those shared times renewed Arties faith. The people in our life are an influence and there for a divine purpose. God bless you all in spending time with me.

Wise Words

 © jb katke

Mom’s words come back to me., “If you know what your problem is, you’ve got it half solved.” As an adolescent I hated that she knew me so well. Even more, I resented that she was right. Hard as it is to give ear to what we need to hear, it’s tougher yet to put myself into action.

Probably you have heard the definition of a fool. Do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Necessary changes are in direct conflict with what I am accustomed to doing.

It seems there was am animated movie for children that put it well, “Life is tough.”

What is my problem? It’s so trivial, something we all cope with on a regular basis. Time management and priorities, and the struggle is real. Throw in old age mixed with a lack of energy and I have a recipe for frustration. I’m not cooking this up. Sorry I had to throw that in.

What I need to do is return to my previous pattern of getting into the Good Book and allow its truth to marinate in me. (What is all this cooking lingo about? It’s not my thing!)

I am well aware not everyone is into Jesus. They have their reasons. But I happen to know what a positive difference he makes in life…if I let him in. Due to the tyranny of the urgent, I have set my Bible aside. Today I suffer the consequences. I can’t think of anything more disruptive than unrest. A lot of that is going on in our world today.

I have been blessed with just the right amount of pain. It’s keeping me from sleep and driving me to my Good Book. When all else fails, go do what I knew was missing all along. I dug out my Bible to play catch up with the reading program I had started.

I read about this guy; I’ll call him Neil. He was high up in a military position that lived in a wealthy part of town. Neil received access to spiritual truth. He took it to heart and was directed to seek out a particular person, Pete, that was going around teaching of Jesus. Normally Pete would not have given Neil the time of day. But he too was directed to do something out of the norm. The two men eventually met.

I have left a bunch of crucial details out. Neil was of a different nationality and religion than Pete. The teacher was focused on one people group only. Period. . Translation, the two men would probably never have crossed paths. The word ‘direct’ I used, is actually an angel and a vision. The end result was a whole other group of people got to hear about Jesus that under normal circumstances would not have been privy to. How Jesus came from heaven, healed sick folks, was nailed and left hanging on a cross until he died, and came back to life, ultimately returning to heaven. I know, it sounds unbelievable. You can fact check it in Acts 10.

But here is the deal. The Good Book is the only book I have read that includes, real life  characters, history, romance, wars, dysfunctional families, futuristic events, drama, and more than I can think of right now. Literally, there is something for everyone.

Even though the Good Book doesn’t need anything additional, many writers have produced books that in their own way direct readers to Jesus. I’m telling you this in what I refer to as my take away.

To me it means: A persons status or location in life doesn’t meet inner needs. Jesus’s dad uses all manner of things to communicate with us. And about those aforementioned writers, by all appearances I am one of them.

I’m just a regular person that usually only talks about Jesus with folks close to me. However, in many of my blogs I aim to point others to Jesus. Folks  from all parts of the world have read some of my writing and I am genuinely humbled. Pete got to see the skin and bones Jesus, I have seen Jesus work more subtly, through circumstances and people, that only he could do.

I enjoy hearing from those who read my words. If you have questions; there are things I don’t understand too.  I can’t guarantee wise answers, but I can point you to someone who does…if you ask him.

A Labor of Love

 © jb katke

Too bad I didn’t get a before picture. You can see the after here. What you can’t see is all the between. This is a pie safe.

Back in the day before kitchen pantries were a thing, women had a pie safe. Probably it was before bakeries and air conditioning, when more windows were open for air circulation. Women baked breads and pies. In order to keep flies off the baked goods, they put them in a pie safe. It wasn’t intended to be airtight, hence the punched tin.

Today antique buffs like to utilize them, mostly for the quaint appearance they give to country décor. That is where I am at.

As my husband constructed my current computer desk, it became apparent I was going to need some storage. We contemplated a wall unit with a cabinet base and shelving above. Some shelves open, others behind closed doors to hide stuff. We all have our stuff don’t we?

He being a builder, it would have been impressive, and more than meet my needs. Probably his first choice too, because it would fit in with what we have in the rest of the house. He likes stylish well-built furniture.

But me, nooo.

I was going through his woodworking magazines, destined for our garage sale. Oh look! A pie safe. You know I’ve always wanted one of those.  The rest is history.

My pie safe started out in life as pallets, used to deliver all manner of lumber for the new homes built nearby. They sat out in the weather for quite some time as we mulled over all the potential they held. Finally, I inquired if they would be used again. Their days were numbered as they were headed to the dump. We rescued them before that happened.

Now for the in between. Dave lugged them home to dry out. He then took them apart, sorting them by the size of the boards. After that, he de-nailed them. The next step was running them through the planer down to a smooth board.

To give the finished product more character, he glued the boards together, then cut them to the specified ¾ inches. Yes, he built boards! At long last he was able to construct what you see here, complete with his hand punched tin. Truly, it was a labor of love. It was his desire to please me.

Our Creator did likewise. Designing human-kind was a labor of love, specifically made in his image. Our capacity to love, anger, forgiveness, laugh, cry; all come from him. Mind boggling, yes? It was a labor of love.

More than anything, he wants a relationship with us, and to please us. The trick is for us to want for ourselves what he knows is best for us. Like any loving parent would.

Just for the record, the pie safe is well built and blends nicely with the house too, because we have a fair share of antiques. Likewise, with our Creator. He fits things into our lives that blend perfectly with our character.

Why Do You Do This?

© jb katke

What prompts a person to do what they do?

That question could apply to any bazillion topics. Mine, today, is directed to those unsung hero’s that write for a living.

The last few days, I have lived at my keyboard. Not writing, but listening to those that do. I am fresh from an online conference for authors. What am I doing hanging with them when I’ve yet to produce a book?

Good question. I ask myself that on a regular basis. The answer may not make sense, sometimes not even to me. A voice led me here, where it came from doesn’t matter because it was real to me.

As I sit under the tutelage of educated folks, I am learning new words.  Like Scrivener, Trope, enneagrams. Don’t ask me for definitions, as I haven’t wrapped my head around them yet. I fear there are more lurking about, yet to surface. One of the speakers I heard mentioned we never stop learning.  I have grasped I am in over my head and writers are introverts.

My dear husband disagrees with me being introverted. He thinks because I can carry on a conversation I am an extrovert. Not so. This conference has proved my point. All I did is sit and listen, barely responding to questions or comments and I am exhausted! Interacting with people, and apparently just listening wear me out.

The caveat is how much a writer must do to get their words not only published, but then sell themselves. They must be their own advertising agent, convincing others why they need to purchase this book. Let me assure you, this is no easy task for someone who prefers not to call attention to themselves.

Why do they put themselves through this? Because they have a message. It is an inner voice that says their words are of value. That others could learn from a writers experience or wisdom. That’s what Jesus’ dad did. He chose to write a book, sharing his life and all kinds of other stuff that are helpful for living. He included people that set examples, both good and bad for us to learn from.

There is so much more to absorb. Same as reading the words of the Good Book-we never stop learning.        

The Cottage Cheese Caper

© jb katke

If a school teacher did this today, I bet she could lose her job. Oh, it had all the wrappings of being a good, wholesome thing to do. But I thought I was going to die.

This awful event took place in my early elementary years. The deed? Every so often my teacher would bring in her electric fry pan to class. That alone, was a risky thing. One of us students could have gotten burned if we got too close. It never happened…but it could have.

Her logic was to bring in foods that might be out of the norm and prepared them for us to try. I can’t recall anyone balking at the items she brought in. That is until me. Some of the foods she introduced to us were lima beans, asparagus, brussal sprouts, and much more. I had no issue with that because those were foods we ate at home and liked them just fine.

My undoing was the day no electric frypan was needed. She brought cottage cheese. Up until this day, our teacher brought in normal spoons. On cottage cheese day, the spoon looked more like a huge stirring spoon some cook would use in preparing a dish for one hundred people. I repeat, thought I was going to die.

What makes people like this stuff? It’s snow white, lumpy, and tastes awful. Looking at my description, you could imagine vanilla ice cream with some added cookies or something. While its not my favorite, vanilla ice cream at least tastes good. Not so, for cottage cheese.

Speaking of ice cream, reminds me of the debate my husband and I have from time to time. Soft serve is what is trending now. Likewise, with frozen custard. You know, the stuff that melts all over the place if you don’t eat it fast enough. Give me ice cold, solid, ice cream, thank you. Dave will enunciate it, “It’s ice creeaamm that is so good.”  I come back with no “It’s iiicce cream.” Around we go trying to convince the other one how wrong they are. It never ends; a first world issue with no relevance.

At any rate, back to the cottage cheese thing. No doubt some of you will be giving me all kinds of feedback on how you most enjoy cottage cheese. that’s fine as long as you realize I’m not changing my mind.

The good Lord has created all kinds of food for all kinds of taste buds. We can at least be grateful and agree on that.

Flags Will Fly

© jb katke

Flag day is fast approaching and I’m not ready. Once again we have no flag to display. At our previous home we had a flagpole planted in our landscape. We miss it.

Upon moving to our current home. we purchased a flag holder to mount on the house, as well as a new flag. The darn thing kept getting twisted up. Eventually, we stitched in some triangular pockets in the bottom two corners and inserted a dowel rod. It worked, but looked interesting in a homemade, dorky way.

The Kansas winds took its toll and here we are flagless. My husband tried replacing it several weeks ago. Only to return home from an unsuccessful mission. While it’s discouraging, I’m opting to take that as a good thing. People are showing their love of country. 

Those that know our heart won’t take offence for what we are lacking. The people that don’t know us, I hope they don’t judge us badly. Funny, how much concern we put into how people see us. Nobody wants to look bad. It’s why we put our best foot forward.

Never mind the reason, people are coming from all over it seems to live under this American flag. It represents freedom and hope. They were warned not everyone would receive them warmly. One way or another an understanding and relationship will be established. Be encouraged that things will work out.

How can I say that with an unknown future? Confidence comes from the Good Book. It says so in Romans 8:28, that circumstances work for the good to those that love God and are living in sync with his purposes. It’s up to each individual as to whether they want to love God…the rest he takes care of.

When things in life get twisted up, its’ comforting to know all is under control. Not mine, but his. What I do have control of is how I respond to those twisted moments. Spoiler alert, dowel rods don’t help.

I almost hate to put these words in print, because I’m certain something will come up to test my faith in him. I’ve known God to do that from time to time. Life just seems to hold one opportunity after another to strengthen that faith muscle. He knows our heart and trusted us enough to put us in a country that displays hope.

In Good Hands

© jb katke

            Today I take a break from the norm. Usually I’m writing to tell you of my past. Today is today.

            The most mundane, ordinary things speak loudest to me. Past blogs have shared how life with Midnight, our dog, spoke to me. Another was Gods’ sense of humor in how he orchestrated a job for our son. Today it is my dish drainer. Well, sort of.

            It is one of the newer of kitchen items I own. When I washed dishes, I was setting them on the bottom of the sink, where sometimes it may not have been freshly cleaned. Oh, TMI-sorry!

            I spied a collapsible number in the home improvement center my husband and I frequent. First, I must think on it. I am, not good at instant decisions. Recently, I took the plunge and purchased one. It works well except for one tiny detail. It does not drain well. Not good since that is what it is designed to do.

            Casually mentioning this to my man, he set about drilling out bigger holes for drainage. I am telling you; I do not think there is anything he would not do to make my life better. Not all men are this way and I know it.

            Do not think I am attempting to rub it in  your face that mine does and yours does not. My point  is, it can be hard to put faith or any kind of trust in this guy, Jesus. A man you have never laid eyes on. In light of family and personalities, it may not be your husband, but the upbringing you experienced with a father.

Understood. If you are in an unfortunate relationship, what now?

Currently, I am reading a memoir of a famous personality and her road to knowing Jesus. It was not an easy one. Much of her life made sense, until after she formed this friendship with him. Then things started getting sticky.

Popular opinion says life gets better knowing Jesus. I wish to rephrase that and say life gets bearable knowing Jesus. The problem lies in the fact we are too human for our own good. Making a poor decision is too easy, and can take a nasty downward spiral.

This is the very reason why a friendship with him is vital. Jesus directs steps. He brings people into our life for one of two reasons. Either to better identify who we should avoid, or, to recognize his direction and follow it. Getting to know him through his Good Book is a great start. Focus on it, instead of our wishes.

Wishes are a good thing, but a tad too human. Speaking for myself, they have not always been of a godly nature. I want what I want.

What Jesus wants might take us places we would never initiate on our own. Even those difficult times in life can serve a purpose in honing in on how Jesus sees us. He has designed you for a specific task. Others might be able to accomplish it, but then you would not see the growth in yourself. That is what it is all about. Growth. With his help, I might add.

Confession time; I do not know what his help looks like. Just as there are no two identical snowflakes, neither are there set in stone ways Jesus works. With assurance, I can tell you this, if your heart is in seeking him, he makes the way known. You will see it and be able to identify it.

It is only fair to say, his way is not always the easiest way. The potential for pain is there. I hate pain! However, experiencing it, we can make certain not set ourselves up for a repeat performance. Wisdom moves in. So does strength to do the hard stuff. Supplied by none other than you know Who.

Just An Ordinary Day

© jb katke 

         Not so fast. May 21st is special to me. Until I told her, my granddaughter, Liz, had no idea.

            Long ago, in a faraway place, my fiancé and I set the above date to be married.  Only, with further thought, we decided we didn’t want to wait that long. We upped it to January.

We decided to get married at Greenfield Village, in the Martha Mary chapel Henry Ford had built for his mother. We were informed all of January was already booked.  We settled for a December wedding, which at the time was perfectly acceptable because it was sooner yet.

Alas! May 21st has remained in my heart all these years. It’s beyond explanation and irrational; I have no regret over the man I married. After all, we are talking a date, for goodness sake.

The year of COVID-19 we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. Thankfully for us, life went on. I am aware that was not the case for everyone. With the restrictions set world-wide, our celebration has been detained. 

With that in mind, I decided to ask Liz, to take some pictures of us in June. She has a budding business in photography and that would be fifty and a half years.

We learned of a May wedding for her extended family requesting she take a few pictures. Coming from Nebraska, we had the opportunity for her to pull an overnight at our house. With her camera.  

Pictures were taken of my husband and I…on May 21st!  Snapping away Liz was concerned about the lack of good lighting. Nevertheless, we did a bunch of poses and comical shots,

 Later, an upset Liz confirmed the pictures didn’t come out as we hoped. She didn’t know the full story. Fifty years ago, my folks hired a friend employed at a camera shop to take our wedding pictures.  It wasn’t until the day after he realized there was no film in the camera. It only seems right that this unfortunate occurrence happened again.

Best laid plans don’t always come to be, Our photo shoot was unplanned, just a fun and convenient opportunity. A coincidence? Not in my world. I don’t believe in it. Nothing under the sun just ‘happens.’ It’s all part of a plan, a divine one. We will have other opportunities, when the light is better.

My telling you this saga has an ulterior motive. I wish for you to know Jesus and what life can look like with his friendship.  I’m not saying it will always be a bed of roses, but he never disappoints and he gives endless opportunities. His friendship makes the difficult things bearable.  And sometimes, really good perks like an unexpected overnighter comes along.

Cooking 201

© jb katke

            Must I really have to learn how to cook all over again?

            A year before I was married, my fiancé gifted me with a cookbook. Had I realized he was concerned about my cooking, I might have tried a few recipes in it before the wedding. No, I probably wouldn’t.

            After our marriage, I removed the cellophane wrapper off the book. Inside was a foreign language; words like parboil, sear, scald with many others, just to name a few. It was enlightening in ways I never wanted to learn.

            Ahh, learn. That must be where the crux of my problem lies. I do not speak kitchen-nese.  In our last house-hunt I desperately sought a residence that had no kitchen.  To no avail, they all have one.

            The frustration doubled with this most recent home we now live in. Allow me to clarify my husband desires me to have good tools to work with.  I do, He selected a lovely range with a double oven.

            However, there seems to be an awful lot of operator error. I didn’t realize until I put the range use that it’s a convection oven. He knew that but somehow I missed reading that little detail.  Do I lower the temperature in baking, or shorten the minutes? Each time I must decide which to do.

            Translated, that means I learn how to cook all over again. It took me two years to learn how to fry an egg to his liking.  Fifty plus years later, I now must master this newfangled oven.  

© jb katke

            But it doesn’t end there. One visit at my daughter, Cindy’s house, we began cooking the evening meal. She pointed out a plastic gadget to use in frying up hamburger. “I don’t know how I ever got along without this.” She was right, it was a delight to use. If you can find any delight in the kitchen, I mean.

            Upon returning home, and frying up hamburger for spaghetti, I thought of Cindys’ kitchen tool. Using a fork, the handle isn’t quite long enough without my feeling the heat. It didn’t do nearly as good a job as hers chopping up the meat.

            That settles it, I’ll get one. It kinda grinds me to get this new utensil when I got along without it for so long. Not to mention its an addition to a room I try to avoid going into in the first place,

            Odd, I never seemed to have qualms adding a quilting tool to my collection. The Good Book says there is nothing new under the sun. I wonder what cooks used way back when before this thingy hit the market? I might not want to know.

Garage Sale revisited

            Sitting and waiting for foot traffic stirs the mind to wonder. Is disposing of excess baggage trendy? We had some perfectly good junk that no one wanted.

            After years of failed effort to have a profitable garage sale, I’ve finally pinpointed our issue. My husband and I are specialized individuals. Specialties reign in todays’ world, however…

            Dave, being a woodworker, and I, being a quilter, we have learned those two skillsets are not what is trending.  Not to say those qualities are not appreciated; just not hot button items that the general public is seeking.

            For those who make a habit of hitting the garage sale circuit; looking for wood or quilt related items. We have a deal for you! Alas, it’s not to be.

            What, exactly, is the general public looking to find?

            Clothes.  Possibly toys. I guess I don’t know.

            Not books, which is a shame, as we have close to a bazillion.

            For sure, not antiques. Too bad, because we have lots of them too. While the old furniture might be appreciated, it needs updating. As I mentioned in my previous Garage Sale blog, most folks would prefer someone else do the refurbishing. Only then do they make the purchase and put the item to use immediately.

            Immediate use must be the key. Do people have no vision of what could be? Or lack the elbow grease to tackle projects on their own? We live in a drive-up society oozing with convenience.

            Creating takes more than know-how, it requires patience. Not losing sight of the goal is crucial. I’ll bet Jesus hung his hat on what could be. That’s why he invested so much of himself in people. He knows what we are made of; the kind of impact each of us could make on each other for the betterment of all.

            He could see our shortcomings, but knew with a little honing we could become more than mere creations. We could be a dynamic force pointing others in the way to live.

            How? By learning from our mistakes.

            I wish there was a better way. Experience teaches. Jesus experienced a perfect life in heaven. That must be why he spoke of it so much. It’s his home. Home is where we get a handle on relationships, and by golly, Jesus mastered that.

            Do you find that as astounding as I do? That Jesus thinks highly enough of us to want to spend eternity together with him? Eternity is a long time. Give it some thought, because it never loses its appeal…and always trendy.

Garage Sale

            Why do I do subject myself to this?                    

            Garage sale season has arrived and I’ll try hanging my sign out again. Repeat try anyway. Ever since we moved into our downsized home, I have been trying to unload excess baggage. Unsuccessfully for the most part.

             It seems no one wants my stuff. Gwen, a former neighbor of mine was uncannily good at it. I will never forget the year ago, we went in on one together.  As we sat in the hot sun, a van pulled over; as the driver strolled towards us, she turned to me. “The bikes are not for sale.”

            “How ‘do, Ma’am? Fine day for a sale. Are you selling these bikes?”

            How did she know he would ask about them!

            I can’t say her stuff was any better than mine, she just knew what was in demand. Now that I give it thought, our kids were young so there were a certain number of toys and outgrown children’s’ clothes. That makes a difference. Those days are long past

            Today I have big stuff, area rugs, exercise equipment, and excess furniture to dispose of. Ok, so my furnishings are not the latest and greatest. Heck, all kinds of people shop at the Salvation Army and come out with purchases I would never consider. With recycling and refurbishing items trending now, one would think people would love to grab these

            I know. If that is the idea, they would happily prefer for us to do the refurbishing making items look new again. Few people want to invest the elbow grease it takes, I don’t either.

            Even my kids have let me down. I distinctly told all three of them to buy large enough homes so they could take my unwanted stuff. Did they cooperate? Nope. Probably what they do want are the things I’m still using and enjoying myself. Of course, with so many miles between us, doesn’t help in getting anything to them either.

            Several quilt books and sewing supplies will be available to buy. Hopefully, the kids will appreciate that. I’m not the quilter I used to be, or maybe never was. Anyway, if all goes well, my quilt room should look neater. Should, being the key word. Stay tuned.

            I eagerly look forward to my forever home, where there will be no excess baggage. Did you know a place is being prepared just for those who be living in heaven? I’m not sure what all to expect, but I know it will be perfect. All I need will be there, Jesus, waiting for my arrival.  No fuss, no muss, no garage sales.

Mom’s Day

 © jb katke

            Coming soon to a home near you.

Mom: “Mother’s Day is coming soon.”

Child/me: “Again? We just had one last year. When are we gonna have a kid’s day?”

            How I wish I could have Mom back. A long time ago she was promoted to her eternal home. For too many years I didn’t appreciate her. I do now.

            The Good Book says there is a cloud of witnesses watching over us. That gives me hope and encouragement that she knows how I feel about her now. People always have reasons for their words and actions. I never asked about her childhood. Our conversation would be different today.

            A couple times she mentioned things of the past. One from her childhood pertained to her artwork. Mom was a tremendous artist. She particularly enjoyed drawing the human body. Back in the day, they could be mistaken for promiscuous pictures. She shared her fathers’ words with me, “Just remember, there is always someone better than you.”.

            If Grandpa Andrews were with me today, I would have more than a few words to rail against him. Couldn’t you see how gifted your daughter was at such a young age? Would it have been so terrible to give her some encouraging words? Encouragement wasn’t our family motto.

            Note to self: Grandpa came from a different era, children were seen, not heard. Perhaps intended to be family helpers too, what value can a family gain with some pencil drawings?

            In another conversation, Mom told me, not of herself, but of a friend. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this friend was out living on her own at a young age. She was intending to rent a room in a boarding house. Her boyfriend was adamant that he see this place and make some inquiries.

            “When I come visit my girl, how far inside can I go?”

            “Right where you are now, young man, no further than this living room.”

            Thankfully, he was a guy of good character and cared for the well-being of his future wife. Men of evil desires have been around since the beginning of time. I never had given that thought.

            Mom knew, that is probably why she & Dad were so protective of me. When my girls were young, that was my concern too.

            What disappoints me now, is of moms’ pictures I have, she signed none of them. I would love to boast of them, and the talent she had.

            As for Kids’ Day, I understand there is one now. The second Sunday in June. Here I am, all grown up. Go figure!

Oh No!

©jb katke

How could such a thing happen?

Recently, I and my table members had our picture taken at our last meeting of the season. Wonderful women, all of them. But do you ever wish when having your picture taken, that someone else could stand in for you?

After seeing the pic, I realized that somehow, it was my aunts’ image that showed up unannounced.  Pretty tricky, seeing how she is deceased.  The horror of it all indicates that I look just like her. Here I was, worried about looking like my mother! Now this…

Upon showing the picture to my husband, he snickered, “You can’t deny family heritage.” I can if I want, until stuff like this happens. You don’t have to scold me for focusing too much on myself, I’m aware.

I realize there is a benefit to having your picture taken. At the risk of sounding morbid, go to any funeral and you will see what I mean. Pictures of the deceased are posted on a big screen. That is beneficial for others to see you in better, happier times. It leaves a vivid memory of a life well lived.

That very thing is what made my husband a believer of photos. When his father passed away, there were few pictures of him. Reason being, his dad was the one taking pictures of everyone else. While my husband is not a fan of standing in front of the camera, he is far more tolerant of it so the rest of us can enjoy images of him in the future. Gratitude abounds here.

I go so far as to agree with him, therefore allowing others to take my picture. Unfortunately, I have protested so many shots of myself, I’ve frightened others, It’s just easier to not take my picture. All I ask is for them to pass my approval. I take horrible pictures.

 Half-jokingly I request showing my good side, and turn my back to the camera. “Oh no, they say, it looks just like you!” My heart and self-image take a beating.

Because I love words, I would rather others described me by word instead of image.  That’s what Jesus did you know? From cover to cover, his book is of words describing himself without any pictures.

But, speaking of images, he took them on. He came to earth looking like his creation, so that we could relate to him.  While here, he took the image of God, for all to see his dad’s holiness. Finally, he took on our wrongs, so that we could have free access to eternity with perfection.

Imagine, an eternity of looking perfect!

New Life

Its important for you to understand I don’t look for these things. They come to me unplanned and seemingly out of nowhere. Snapshots that impress me, stuff that I can share with you.  Like my neighbors Ginkgo tree.

Last year the homeowner’s association of our neighborhood planted it to replace a tree that died. I was ecstatic because I love ginkgos! It was a baby, all of two feet tall with twig branches. Until I realized, girl, you’re not going to live long enough to see this in its full- grown beauty.

Sometimes I crack me up! To get so excited over something I won’t see.

Hopefully winter is behind us, spring is coming and the tree is growing. I snapped this picture to tell you how it spoke to me.  New life is coming. Or should I say renewed life is coming?

It was proof positive that we all have a future renewed life to look forward to. Not everyone can see that. It reminds me of the young girl that was struggling in her teen years. Her mom did the best she could to offer encouragement, letting the girl know a new day was coming that could be better.

As so many teens would say, “You don’t understand.”

Maybe the mom didn’t, after all, generations live in different generations. Times change. Issues can be chameleon-like, taking on different shades based on the background of current society. What remains the same is the struggle. It’s difficult to get excited over something we can’t see. 

This is why it is imperative to blow the dust off your Good Book and give it a read.  To be lifted up and get a birds-eye view is nice. But to get a Gods-eye view gives hope and enlightenment. Everything around you will take on a different viewpoint.

Plants and trees experience a dormant season. The COVID pandemic has given us a taste of what that is like. Never have I given a thought to nature taking a forced time out. How good it must be, for plant life to feel the warmth of the sun, taking nourishment of the spring rain. Just to come alive again!

Here is my take-away for you. Splash in the puddles, rejoice in a brand-new day. Give thanks that our dormant season is becoming a thing of the past. Grasp hold of the opportunity that God gives for us to have a new life, with his perspective making all the difference in this world and the next.

Perfect Misteaks

Mistakes in life are too often downplayed. They have a place of value. I can tell you firsthand, my best lessons have been learned through the uh-ohs of life.

Generally speaking, people don’t like to confess their failures.  The need to be always right is part of the human nature. 

My former neighbor Selina, once told me she had never given her mother a moments concern.  Looking back at that conversation, I wonder if I raised my eyebrows?

She became pregnant out of wedlock when she was fifteen years old. Current society doesn’t think that is any big deal, but back in the early sixties, yes, it was frowned upon. Selina also openly admits that she has a favorite child. Imagine how the ‘unfavorite’ kids feel. 

Have you ever heard a person say they have no regrets? Thoughts come to mind that perhaps they have never challenged themselves. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is true. Or maybe there is no inquisitive nature.

My husband for instance, as a child was always wondering what makes things work. More than once he took a perfectly workable object apart to learn the mechanics of it, but when put back together, it no longer worked. I don’t believe his parents ever chastised him. If they had, it would have thwarted his curiosity. Today the man can build or repair anything-and this wife is thankful!

Like anything, the pendulum could also swing the other way. I recall a co-worker learning of a position open that she was interested in. She applied, and was interviewed. She gave herself a glowing report, claiming she could easily transition into this new role. For her sake, I hoped she didn’t get the job, because no way she could perform to the degree she implied.   It would do nothing for her reputation.

            Another downfall to not being honest with yourself is the false sense of security. To be ‘your own person,’ to the extent of not acknowledging a need for Jesus is risky. So much of life is beyond control and to think events can be manipulated in a pleasing manner is a recipe for disappointment.

            In my own experience, I have found a friendship with Jesus has given me a healthy view of myself. I see all kinds of faults, but Jesus shows me he can take those flaws and turn them into a productive work that encourages others and makes both he and I look good at the same time. He can do stuff in and through me that I could never do on my own.

            Think of what he could do in and through you!

It’s A Done Deal

 

Cross picture
© jb katke

Do you get into folklore stories? Some folks are and can’t get enough of it. The reason I ask is I’ve just finished reading a book that claimed to be a true legend. With some research I learned a true legend is a story handed down that is true, but there is no proof of it.

The only legend I am familiar with is the one about J. Have you heard of him? Tons of books have been written about him. From what I understand, J was from another world. How he got here is disputed. But it’s hard to deny the existence of a guy standing in front of you.

According to the story, a magical voice spoke to a young girl saying she was going to have a baby, but not by natural means. Supposedly she was a goody two shoes, as we call people today that seem to do no wrong. Naturally this caused quite a stir from her family, even her boyfriend was put off by the whole thing.

One would need to be a fly on the wall to hear the conversations that followed her announcement. Nothing is documented on what her folks had to say, but the boyfriend was ready to nix their marriage plans. But the magical voice spoke to him too, so he wound up staying by her side.

So that is how J came to planet earth. He was an interesting sort of character. People either loved him or hated him. He had that kind of personality that seemed to draw out a persons’ true character. It was as if he could see right through them and read their minds. But he told neat stories that always seemed to have a message and drew folks to him from all over.

Keep in mind he was an alien from another realm, they can do what no man can. J healed sick people. That could be another reason for drawing as many crowds as he did. His actions irritated so many knowledgeable men of the day. J made them look bad because he could do things they couldn’t. He knew things that they didn’t. J claimed to be on a mission.

There was only one thing the haters could do…get rid of J. It would solve all their problems and once again, folks would look up to them in respect.  To accomplish this a trial was necessary, only the timing was bad. There was a religious holiday going on. So a pretend one was established.

The scum of the earth people were hauled in to court giving false testimony. The whole thing was a cruel joke. But it was effective and J was tortured, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Yes nailed! Let that sink in a moment. He hung there for all the world to see until he died. The haters won, or so they thought.

One would wonder, if J knew so much, why would he put himself through this? What exactly was his mission? He made some outrageous claims. Like he and his dad created life! You and I know how babies come, but this lends the question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Something had to get the ball rolling, right?

It didn’t stop there. He was always talking about the home he came from. That people could come live there with him if they wanted to. How is that possible? All he asked was to give credit where it’s due. To acknowledge him as who he was, the Son of God. J had a way of making all the wrongs of this world turn into something right, like is was his ultimate plan all along.

One little problem with the haters plan. They neglected to keep in mind they were dealing with an alien.  J didn’t stay dead! He helps us see what he sees, encourages us to want what he wants…he draws us.

J is waiting but the ball is in your court on what you think of this true legend.

Happy Easter!

 

Midnight Lessons

 

Midnight
© jb katke

Our doorbell rang. Midnight barked her announcement that we had a visitor. My husband headed for the door telling her to settle down.  Midnight barked quieter.

“Shush girl, I’m right here.”

“Woof.” Quieter yet.

“That’s enough!”

Midnight stalked away with disgust written on her snout, mumbling “mwmwm.” After all she was only doing her job!

Pets do have personalities.  As far as Midnight was concerned, the door belonged to her, likewise the sidewalk.  Naturally she would sound the alarm when someone who didn’t belong used them. Midnight included in her fold Grandma, and her dog Puddin.  Grandma adored Midnight and Puddin adored coming to our house to watch the fish swim in the fish tank. It appeared to be canine MTV.

Midnight considered us family, but not everyone was thrilled by that.   My husband and I both grew up with pets, but my husband was done with them.  Our son had other ideas though.  I vividly recall the day my husband called me upstairs where he was working.

“I’m getting weak,” he said. “I’m thinking of getting Jamie a dog. Can you think of any reason we shouldn’t?  Please, any reason at all?”

His petition took me by surprise because nothing had been said recently. At the moment I could not come up with a reason why our boy should not have his dog.  Later I was able to pinpoint an issue with pet ownership.  Hair. Everywhere. Which should not have come as a surprise because we already had a cat.  Adding another pet to the mix just meant twice the hair.

After we brought our pup home, the family gathered around the table for the serious discussion of a name for this new family member.  Because she was all black, I leaned towards Licorice.  But that was quickly squashed due to my tendency to go by nicknames.  Standing at the door calling for Licker didn’t seem appropriate. We settled on Midnight but called her by many names, Pup, Poochkie, Mid, Mutney.  She responded to all, lapping up the love and attention most of us gave her.

At about the same time Midnight joined our family, some friends of ours added a pup to their family as well.  Their experience with a new puppy wasn’t altogether good.

“Are you folks having problems at night with your puppy whining and crying after being put to bed?”

“No, not at all,” I said, perplexed as to why they were experiencing this.  All the kids welcomed her with open arms, our son especially.  Because the puppy was too small to jump onto his bed, our boy lined the floor with newspapers and slept on it with Mid.  Our friend, on the other hand, put their pup in a kennel far from any family members.  Clearly, he didn’t grasp that dogs shouldn’t be treated like animals.

Midnight was happiest when she was included in family activities. She especially enjoyed going camping with us.  Most of the time we were outdoors with her, so she had ample attention.  One vacation in particular she tried to befriend another black critter that had a really neat white streak running down its back. Thankfully I managed to squelch that doomed friendship before any bad memory took place.

It amazes me the how and what lessons God will bring into my life to learn. Living with our new family member, I became a student of valuable lessons that Midnight had for me. Take for instance the aforementioned visitor at the door.  Immediately Midnight determined whether our visitor was friend or foe.  Her policy was to like everyone.  Then had a friend for life

Other lessons I learned from Midnight:

When a person is hurting, stay close by, with a  listening ear available to them. Midnight lived that out making herself available to any one of the kids during those tough adolescent years.

Even the few times we reprimanded her, Mutney always forgave us.

Little people were some of Mid’s favorite humans.  I guess because they knew how to have fun.  If they tended to be a little clumsy she exercised patience.

Mid could read people and take joy in another person’s happiness. Understanding wasn’t a prerequisite for her to join in the celebration.

Our girl loved car rides. She made it a practice to never pass up an opportunity for a road trip, however small it might be.  Ditto for red wagons.  Don’t postpone joy.

When outdoors, she always took the opportunity to go to the bathroom.  Who knows when the next opportunity would be?

You don’t have to finish all the food in your bowl. If her snout was dry and she felt a little under the weather, it was ok.

In theory, Mid was not to be on furniture.  It was my way of controlling some of the shed hair.  When we were gone, it was another story. The furniture was at her disposal. When taking a nap, she would find the softest pillow in the house.

Be a kitchen-helper. There just isn’t an easy way to conduct floor patrol without getting underfoot. At least the cook shouldn’t feel lonely in there by herself.

Adapt to the changes in your world. As long as you have family, you have all the support and protection you need.

Lastly, always have the last word.

While my husband might not completely agree, our lives would not have been complete without this four-legged family member. As long as Midnight gave her master the lead dog position, all was well with the world. We miss you girl and always remain your faithful family.

Pet Preferences

Stella Geyer
© jb katke

Somehow through the years pets have reached an elevated status. Back in the day they served the purpose of teaching children responsibility. They had names like Spot or Ruff. Today they are members of our family, bearing people names.

While taking care of business at the DMV, an employee had a family photo on display, with their dog included in the picture. It made me wish we had done a similar thing with our beloved cockapoo, Midnight. She certainly grabbed the heart of this family. We may have gone to pick out a puppy at the pet shop, but in reality, she adopted us.  She knew her role and was protective of her humans.

Take for instance the time we stayed in a hotel. There was a reception going on and a party member had too much to drink. Seeing Midnight he swaggered over to make friends. She would have none of it, lurching forward and growling for him to keep his distance from her family. Dogs have a keen sense of potential danger.

That is unless they wanted to play. Our neighbor leaned toward Airedales. Chris was just big enough to prompt respect from our youngest, Naomi. When she went over to play, Chris would see her coming and bound out to meet her with play in her mind too. He would grab her mitten off her hand and run off. Seldom could Naomi get it back. He must have had a swell hiding place.

Whatever pet you have, they all carry their own unique personality. For a brief season, my husband had a cockatoo. Coach, so named, because she would perch on a cue stick as he played pool. He claimed she gave advice as to how to hit the ball. I’m thinking she was beyond people friendly and thought herself as one of us. Coach desperately wanted to join us when eating. She would pace the ledge near the table, calculating where she would land. When firmly told no, to stay put, she would pout and peek her head around to see if we were watching her suffer.

Kitty came to us from grandmas’ house. She wasn’t a Siamese, but had the personality of one. Petting her was tolerated only up to a point, and let you know you were done by nipping at you. Our neighbor mocked us for having a cat because they were no protection. Only when she stopped by for a chat and Kitty entered the room, our neighbor went halfway up the stairway to avoid her. Fear by intimidation also covered meal time, Kitty included herself in our family meals, either by the use of claws or growling to get you to feed her.

Speaking of cats. Meet Stella. She owns our granddaughter. By now you get it, animals own we people. Stella is low man on the totem pole of where she currently lives, the other cats have her completely buffaloed, making certain she stays out of their way. When she wants a drink, this is how she gets it. From the kitchen faucet. I guess she likes her water fresh. While she may not realize her power, she has people accommodating her demand.

Despite their manipulation, we love them all. Some folks can’t imagine life without a pet. In their own way, they can be therapeutic. Animals can sense a persons’ emotional state and offer themselves on a lap for petting and conversation. All one-sided of course, but they are skilled listeners. They don’t judge and accept you just as you are. Much like Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

Never Would I Ever…

 

I will never drive a minivan
© jb katke                                                            

Have you ever eaten crow?

I don’t mean the bird. I’m talking about swearing you would never do something, then at some point, find yourself doing it.

As I pulled into the parking spot I saw this sticker on the minivan next to me. Immediately my daughter Cindy came to mind. The sticker stated, “I will never drive a minivan.”

That was Cindy’s sentiment.

To date, she has kept her word, and I smile thinking of that. Someday she will have to educate me on why that is so bad. She is a suburban mom with two children and has carted many others around on any given day.

Another thought came of Cindy and her sister, Naomi. They absolutely refused to wear bell-bottom pants. I did in my day, which could be why they are adamantly against them. Recently I was shopping for some new pants, and was aghast to find the fuller legs are what’s trending now. Behind my back styles changed. How dare they! Just because I wore them in my youth doesn’t mean I wish to go back to that.

Thoughts kept flowing. When I was in second grade, my teacher did an admirable thing. Each week she would bring a new food for us students to try. Most of it wasn’t new to me, so it presented no problem on my part.

Until the day she brought cottage cheese.  Each time she brought a normal size spoon for tasting. That day she brought a huge serving spoon, or so it seemed to me. The stuff didn’t look appetizing and had no desire to put it in my mouth. But I must; not one spoonful, but two. I thought I was going to die.

Today, I don’t touch the stuff and venture to say, she would be in a heap of trouble forcing children to eat something against their will. That was before kids became snowflakes that melted over whatever they didn’t like.

Where I am living now, figuratively I eat crow every day. I have never seen the advantage of living in a neighborhood that sits next to the main street, but you have to pass your home to the nearest side street and meander through the neighborhood to get to your home. I swore I would never live in a place like that.

It doesn’t stop there. I’m also anti-cookie cutter homes that all look alike. Never would I put myself in a community where the only difference in homes was the address. You guessed it on both counts, this is exactly how I’m living now. And I love it!

All this to say one thing. Jesus must have quite a sense of humor. Why do we people make statements only to look stupid later and have to eat our words? My guess is it’s the best way for us to realize some things are not as bad as we think.

It’s quite clever of him to let us learn stuff on our own. Kind of like letting your children find out the hard way, through experience. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting, we are Jesus’ kids. Parents know what is best for their kids, but letting them come to the same conclusion reinforces the lesson. Touché.

Purging

Quilt room purge
© jb katke

What a dilemma.

So much time and money invested in acquiring tools of the trade, only to come to this …

“I must ruthlessly purge my collection of classroom materials, now that I’m no longer teaching. It’s hard to let this stuff go when it has taken me so long to accumulate it. I know they are still valuable.”

The voice of a new retiree.

“If you want to add something in your quilt room, you have to decide what you’re willing let go of to make room.”

Marty, my quilt buddy, knows how heart-wrenching that can be, having already downsized her home.

On the flipside, it can be freeing. All those pattern books that sucked me in to their inspiring pages.  First though, finish the work in progress. Today I can be at peace. While quilting will always be a part of me, finishing my projects has become a chore. The feeling has passed.

Purging is a must, because I’m not the same person I used to be. Many can relate to those words. If not now, your future self certainly will.

Looking back, I can’t help but smile. I can identify ways of the past that led me to where I am today. Only it wasn’t quilting.

How can I know that?

Simple. My focus was on making my passion known, without investing the time it took to excel. It was about me.

Jesus made it clear that his plan was different. Take me to a place I’ve never been before and rely on him to instill the passion to excel. That makes him the focus, and all of us can be in awe at what he accomplished through me.

It’s an adventure that can only be recognized by stepping out of my comfort zone. Surprisingly, I’m kinda liking it.

In my quilting days, I used to think quilters were very much like Christians. Always supporting and encouraging.

I’ve come to learn writers are the same way. Those that respect their skillset are sharing themselves so others can develop too.

So I scour the quilt room, digging up the stuff I was going to do ‘someday.’ There is a two-fold benefit. By doing so, I will have room to store the projects important to me. And it eliminates the excess baggage my kids will have to sort through later.

Who knows? Maybe after I’m done and things have a storage place, there may be room to work!

Pictures Change-Revisited

sub zero temperatures

A meme was forming in my mind. It went something like this:

You’ll like living in Kansas they said. The winters are mild there. People, the wind chill may drop to -30 tonight!

All I had to do is remember how to meme on Facebook.

Arctic temperatures hit us with I can’t even think of anything that hard. Our furnace has been running 24/7 for nearly ten days. We are warm when others are not. We get it, and understand this deep freeze is impacting too many in the nation.

A friend living in Texas posted a humorous message that her state was closed. Southern states aren’t equipped for this kind of snow and cold. Life comes to a standstill.

In the course of the year some have lost jobs, most schools have been closed, COVID-19 has taken too many lives. Death, it seems is lurking behind every corner. Now this.

Our personal crisis involved the compressor to the refrigerator dying. The thought of losing food was a place I didn’t want to go.

Suddenly, I was grateful for this frigid weather.

Our frozen food was boxed up and set outside. Refrigerated food was delegated to the garage. The years we went camping came to mind, it was inconvenient but doable.

The reason I tell you this stems from concern.

Situations happen beyond our control are made bearable if one has a friendship with Jesus and his heavenly father. That is the take away message in many of my blogs

How you might receive that message is added concern for me. I dread to think you may be thinking, ‘I’m so happy things worked out…for you.’ However, your response is out of my control.

Where you are at today may be radically different than where I am. I have seen the news on TV. Wind turbines have frozen up, making power outages abound. No heat and yes, food loss. Accidents on the road, some causing death.

Life seems to continually get harder.

The clincher for me is where these events are happening, Christians are there. They too, are suffering, and they have that friendship with Jesus! What about them?

My only response is Jesus is there with them. Somehow, some way, he is making the circumstances doable for them to get through. Because the Good Book says so, I can relay that message to those who may not have read it.

This usually impacts me with the “Why them and not me?” question.

The best I can figure is it’s my call to pray for them, and give thanks for what is going to be done to help when I’m so far from the situation. Jesus is right there, on the spot, in the moment. You can’t get a more personal, present help than that.

Valentine People

Cookies and cupcakes

It’s half over…but Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you received something special from your loved one or good friend? If not, it’s likely you won’t at this late hour.

This is why I’m sending this message today. To let you know there are people out there that don’t need Valentines to let others know they are loved and appreciated.

They express it often and when it’s least expected. Two women come to mind. One near, the other far.

My far friend is a cousin by marriage. Locally, she is known as the Cookie Lady, a badge she wears proudly. Anne is quite community-minded and often bakes cookies for neighbors, teachers and firemen. Those are the ones I am aware of, my guess is the list is much longer.

Why does she do that? My guess is it meets a need for her as well as her recipients. Through the years Ann has lost a lot of family. She loved them deeply then, and continues today. What else can one do that has so much to give?

The near friend, supplies so much to me. Yesterday was cupcakes. But prior to that, because she knows what a material girl I am, and a former quilter at-large, sends me quilt magazines. Not to mention the cards and wishes throughout the year.

She knows how to reach me. Undoubtedly, she shares with many others as well.

These women spread their love far and wide. They make a huge impact on their receivers as well, understanding she doesn’t have to do it. It’s done by choice.

(Now you know why momma told you to be picky in who you make friends with!)

I understand. We can’t choose our family. By design, that’s done without consultation. It gives us all a chance to extend love to those who don’t deserve it.

Ya know, like Jesus. He extends himself to one and all to be his friends. Regardless of how we have lived, he makes himself available 24/7.

Not feeling it? Here is a challenge for you. Think of any variety of situations in your life that could have worked out differently. Good or bad.

The bad ones can be looked upon as learning experiences. The good ones, Jesus extending his love and mercy for what could have gone so wrong. He doesn’t have to, it’s just he wants to, because he has so much love to give.