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.

Pictures Change

House for sale

I hesitate telling you this because you’re going to think I’m weird. Those that know me well don’t wonder.

(Don’t let my husband know what I’m sharing with you. It exasperates him because he wants me happy at all times)

At the closing of our home, our realtor asked, “Do you think this will be your forever home?”

“Yes I do. We are weary of moving and needing to downsize. A large house sitting on big land means a lot of work.”

Choices can make or break an outlook on life. For me it was home, with each house, the picture changed.

I ask you, have you ever been in a place that didn’t feel right? At first it seemed ideal, but later, not so much.

It took several moves before I had a handle on what my problem was. Houses are nothing more than buildings until you take residence and make the habitat an environment that reflects the people living there. Until recently that wasn’t happening.

Currently, my husband and I are living in a new home. Every other home was previously owned, selections made by others. But here we got to pick out the cabinets and flooring, etc. It was as close to perfect as it gets. I. Was. In. My. Element.

That is where my prayer stemmed from. I’ve read in the Good Book what heaven is like. I’ll give you a hint, you’ll want to go there. No sickness, no worries, everything good we strive for on planet earth but never seem to attain. It’s there. Plus, you will be in the presence of Perfection, our Creator. The questions we have here will all be answered there. Finally things will make sense.

My prayer?

That this home that was built for us would not be perfect. I didn’t want it to make me so happy I’d lose sight of my real forever home…with Jesus.  Nothing compares to him.

Our home isn’t perfect, making it answered prayer!

A friend once told me she had the joy of choosing things in her home, and now she has regrets. I’m not alone. That’s life this side of heaven. Imperfect.

My husband knows I’m happy because I remind him. He’s a little on the forgetful side.

On any given day you might see a sawdust trail or a quilt project laying around. There is a perpetual jigsaw puzzle in the making and a cluttered kitchen counter. It’s us living there, being as happy as we can be this side of heaven.

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.

Who Is The Most Blessed?

Never have I met anyone quite like Kira.    Redhead

How do you picture a missionary?  Serious, sedate, logical, holier than thou, determined to change your mind about religious stuff?

Kira was a missionary, but none of the above. She was a 70 something widow, talkative, enthusiastic, spontaneous, and could see humor in everything. She changed my mind on what a religious person looks like.

During Kira’s stay with us we were without a camera. But the dear lady pictured here displays the aura we experienced beautifully.

She would regale me with tales of things her dearly departed husband would do, laughing so hard I thought she was going to pee.

I wasn’t even aware of her existence until her presence was announced in church. Here on temporary furlough, she needed a place to live.

“I hear you have been sleeping around,” was my greeting when she came to the door.

With that said, she determined we were going to get along just fine.

It seemed so right, our children had grown and left home. Dave and I rattled in our large home. Kara’s personality filled it to full capacity.

She had so little, but her reason for being here was to rid herself of what she had. The home she raised her family in was only a couple miles from us. Her plan was to to fix it up and sell it.

“It ties me down and I don’t want anything dragging me away from where my heart is. “What a blessing to be planted right in the home of a remodeler, how perfect can it get? Only God could do that!”

Well yes. Don’t misconstrue my words. Dave loves helping others. It’s just that his job is a physical one and at the end of the day, he’s tired. She ran circles around both of us. Keep in mind, she was in her 70’s.

However, Kira had plans, “I could use some help, have you got the time?”

Those who know my man knows he’ll make the time.

After selling the house, her plans were thought out. “When I get old, I’ll return to the States. In my 80’s I’ll just take short-term mission trips.”

Kara’s goal was questionably commendable. She had a special needs son. Another son had deliberately removed himself from family ties. She has no idea where or how he is. Those are things that keep parents up at night. It puts them on their knees.

In so doing, Kira got a divine message.

“I’ve raised my kids and made sure my one boy is well cared for. Now it’s time to impact my new young friends that are so hungry for truth. I love doing that, letting others know about Jesus.”

She was eager to get back to her mission field.

Rubbing shoulders with Kira has impacted my life. She showed me how precious life is, to make the best of unfortunate circumstances and to make the important things a priority.

We have lost touch with Kira, she may be  living with the Lord now and having a ball. She’d have it no other way.

 

Heart Medicine

Stack of Bibles
© jb katke

It doesn’t have to be done this way. But if you do, the treasures you will find!

I’m talking about meeting the challenge I was presented with. From the Good Book, in Romans, pick out one verse and jot down thirty things you learned.

Sometimes an assignment can feel more like a challenge. My heart wanted to select from Esther, but that was not an option.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  (Roman 8:28 NIV)

The following is what came to my attention:

  • Know/head knowledge
  • All things/everything
  • God caused/allowed/made so
  • Work/effort
  • Love God/heart knowledge/in tune to his desires
  • Good/what is best/beneficial
  • Them/those of God
  • Called/made contact/responsive
  • According/relating to/pertaining to
  • Together/bound/united/joined/drawn/pulled
  • His purpose/Gods’ plan/assignment/use

 

Wow! Who knew so much could be pulled from one verse? Granted, I used more than one Good Book. It isn’t necessary, but if you do, so much more comes to the surface. It’s all good stuff.

Did you know you were created for a special purpose? That it pertains to a divine plan? The things that nag at you could be our Creator tapping you on the shoulder urging you to do the Nike thing, Just Do It?

Here is the clincher. That your life events had a purpose and were preparing for some great work. Allow me to elaborate on great. I’m not talking making the national news. By great, I mean something that you would never imagine yourself doing. But with God’s help, oh my, he makes all the difference in the world!

This is where the rubber meets the road. Maybe some life events have happened that were bad. And God let it happen. That is hard to swallow. Understood.

I know a lady that had a terrible childhood and in her adult years had a destructive marriage. That is behind her today because she turned her life around. It can be done. I witnessed it.

But why did she have to experience so much heartache?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know who does. Jesus has the definitive answer. What I saw was him strengthening her to make some needed changes.

I almost forgot! There was more to my assignment. I was instructed to rephrase that one verse into my own words.  They are:

Because of the love I have for God, I am assured that the events in my life were custom designed to benefit me and can be pulled together in such a way to be of use to God’s unique plan for my life.

That takes a mouthful of faith to live out. Note one of the above words I got was ‘work.’ Faith is a muscle that must be exercised to become strong. Anything worthwhile requires work. Are ya up to the challenge?

 

Seriously?

Churchill HS marching band

My anger was over the top. It seems I’m not over the confrontation yet.

To give you a little background, a lifetime ago I was a marching band mom. My son, Jamie, played the trumpet though high school and beyond. He enjoyed it and so did his father and I.

Let me hasten to add, it was hard work. Every week of the football season meant a few new songs to learn and new formations to perform at the games. This, on top of all the demands from other classes.

Life has a way of changing everything. By the time our youngest, Naomi, hit high school, we had a job transfer and new schools to acclimate to. Naomi opted to become a member of the flag girls that performed routines alongside the band.

Each week the band played the same song. I couldn’t understand why. If you watched one performance, you’ve seen them all.

In asking the band teacher about this he explained, “The students couldn’t possibly be able to learn a new song in every week.”

This is when I became livid with anger. Standing before me was a picture of what separates good teachers from bad.

“Yes they can! These kids aren’t learning anything doing the same routine week after week. They need the challenge and the opportunity to expand their repertoire. Playing the same musical number repeatedly is a recipe for boredom. Not to mention zero desire to discover if they have a music preference.”

Fortunately the flag girls did their own music numbers offering various costumes with different flag formations. At least they weren’t bored to tears!

Olathe South HS flag corp

My take away was this: The mindset of the band teacher revealed was he was tired of teaching and was merely putting in his time until retirement. Mentally done, he no longer cared to instill a love for music to his pupils.

Everyone has something to offer, instilling what we love into others should never grow old.

Sometimes Jesus gives me opportunities to grow that I may not like. But it’s something he knows I can master with his help, and usually holds a future benefit. He never tires, becomes stagnant, or limited in love. It never ends.

 

 

 

Not Lookin’ Good

20210111_192135
© jb katke

Today I made chicken pot pies. I must think things through. There is nothing I hate more than looking as bad as I am.

Have you read the back of a prepared food item to see not only how many calories it has, but, the ingredients?  There is way too much salt and some things listed I can’t even pronounce. I prefer to know what I’m eating.

That was my driving force behind making these pot pies. What a process! I had to cut the chicken into small pieces and parboil them. Peel the potatoes and parboil them as well. Onions got chopped and fortunately the frozen vegetables were user friendly. I avoid using salt in my recipes to keep from consuming too much.

Uh-oh. I just read the label on my canned chicken gravy. Note to self: make your own gravy from chicken broth next time, that is, if there is a next time. More ingredients I can’t pronounce. Pardon me while I bang my head on a brick wall.

I got started right after I mopped up the vitamin E oil I accidently spilled after my shower. Just as soon as I sort laundry and get a load washing. I always strive for efficiency.

Oh yes, don’t forget the pastry I had to make and roll out. Darn! Flour spills on my clean kitchen floor.

The process was interrupted several times to switch laundry from washer to dryer. Again to put clean clothes away.

Then, a lunch break. But I got back to it as soon as I fished the lid to my olive oil out of the pan of water.

Into the freezer they go for future meals. Go figure, I have more chicken filling than I do pastry to put it in. But I’m done, my enthusiasm is gone. They were a lot of work, and they don’t even look appetizing. All this just to know what goes into the food I eat.

Was it worth it? That remains to be seen.

This I know. Jesus made humans, not for consumption, but with a purpose in mind. Was it worth it? Looking at our world today makes one wonder. But in his scheme of things, yes.

How do I know? Because he did it. Twice. A whole lot of years ago, he got disgusted and did away with almost all his creation. Then he started over again. So those individualized plans of his must be huge!

Admittedly I wasn’t there, but feel certain his creation wasn’t as time consuming as the pot pies were for me. I’ve read that he wants his people to be the salt of the earth.

I have sneaky feeling my pot pies are going to need some salt, pepper too.

 

 

Enough is Enough

 

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© jb katke

“Just how much is enough?”

So said the speaker to we listeners. It was too many years ago for me to share his name, but I recall he came from a finance field and his question hit home. His presentation was revolving around income and much more.

Speaking of money can become a touchy subject. Some folks set a goal to what they hope to accumulate in a savings plan for retirement. Without changing their current lifestyle, I should add. No one wants to settle for less than what they deem necessary for comfort.

While others keep working just to put food on the table. Vacations, movie-going, or occasional dining out, not even up for discussion. Our situation fell somewhere in the middle.

Our speaker carried it further, alluding to the home we live in and the car we drive. Human nature is to always want bigger and better. What impacted me was furnishing our home. At that time is was a far cry from what I had in mind. I wasn’t asking for much, just a full size couch and some end tables to place lamps and drinks on. Thankfully, we have been able to rectify that issue.

We have just wrapped up a year that was more than enough. The likes that we hope never to experience again. But whatever the future holds, its valuable information to know we can get by, particularly when we have no choice. It’s easy to forget the stuff we are made of. Thank you Jesus for making a place in the human body that only you can fill to satisfaction.

Today that question takes on a humorous form for me. In an ongoing effort to hone my writing skill I’ve managed to build a collection of books chock full of helpful information. In reading my latest addition to the collection, I realize this sounds familiar. I purchased the same book twice! I’ve done that before in my pleasure reading.  Guess that makes me consistent.

By the way, I have found the Good Book is full of useful information that can be put into action right away.

What does a person do with all this acquired ‘knowledge?’ My impulse is to take it to heart and spread the word.  Hmmm…spread the word. That is not my strong suit. Not that I don’t have opinions, but we live in a society that flaunts thoughts. They are not always well received. Have you have noticed that too?

But on the other hand, there are several readers following my blog. A giant size thank you! Especially those of you that have it sent directly to their email. Those are the most beneficial for me. It shows people enjoy my words and regularly look forward to reading more. My writing coach tells me, “Words matter.” She’s right.

The most appreciated words are the ones of encouragement and hope. There is never too much of them! I’ll try to do better folks.

My One Word

Relinquish
© jb katke

 

Never would I have imagined it so life changing.

My One Word is an alternative to a New Year’s resolution.  It’s a Bible Study, but only sort of. You begin by asking Jesus for a single word that would focus on a lasting change for your life.  Search the Bible for verses that allude to that word and what he wants you learn from it. What makes it so doable is, it’s just one word/one change.

January has begun, but it’s not too late for you to dive in.

The word that surfaced for me was ‘relinquish.’ I had considered other words, ‘submit’ and ‘surrender.’ But they didn’t lead me to where Jesus was having me focus.  Submit was something I already do with my husband.  Surrender, to me, means giving up.  Relinquish, on the other hand, means to willfully release.

That is an ongoing process in my life.

Over time it’s taken on differing forms. My first wrestling match was selling my brass bed.  We were down-sizing.  I was the only one who liked it and my family couldn’t understand why I loved it so much.  At the time I couldn’t put words to it, but I can now. That dumb bed was one of the few things in our home that reflected my decorating taste. Tears flowed.

Sometime later I had cataract surgery. I was convinced I’d end up blind. Relinquishing sight, when you are a quilter and supposedly writing a God-ordained book, this just cannot be. Fear reigned. Needlessly. Isn’t that true of so many of our fears? They never come to be.

Selling my grandmother’s enamel kitchen table was another opportunity to relinquish.  As a child, my memories recalled me sitting on a step stool eating her raisin bread, picking out the raisins, eating the frosting on top and leaving the bread.  Yes, I was chastised. But it did no good.

We sold it to a young family that was thrilled to get it. Their home is all vintage thirties, all they were missing was an enamel table. It continues to be cherished, but not at my house.

I come from a family of savers.  When my dad was moving he divided up his collection of dried up paintbrushes between my husband and brother. Our allotment helped fill the trash bin.

Generations before me collected a vast amount of possibly useful things. Upon going through my aunt’s estate after her death, we came across an envelope.  Written on it was, ‘For poverty living.’ Inside it was a large needle and a six-inch string. One can expect that thinking when you have survived a depression.

Moving their stuff out of my way was forever driving me nuts.  Keep in mind, they had all passed away. This was only perpetuating the pack-rat lifestyle I hated.

This is my history. Mental battles run rampant as I dispose of what my ancestors diligently spent their lifetime saving.  Just in case.  My daughter is helping me let go, I mean relinquish.

But to dispose of something……what if sometime down the road I might need it?

I keep reminding myself none of it will be coming with me to my eternal home. By then, there will be no need!

Goodbye 2020

 

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Congratulations, you’ve made it through Christmas of 2020! What now? Or should I ask what more?

Every Christmas is the first for someone to miss a loved one. I know that hole in your life cannot be replaced. My first one without my mom was difficult, regardless of my efforts I couldn’t take her place in Dad’s life.

Memories come swarming in enough to suffocate you.

What is your Christmas memory? They can become bittersweet. My memory from a long ago Christmas leaned on the humorous side.

I recall helping mom wrap an especially awkward gift. It was only a few inches tall, but extremely long and wide. She had the giftwrap covering it in the nick of time. Christmas morning I learned the gift was for me!

Now we are soon to unwrap a new year. A fresh one, hot off the presses, to be used any way we wish. Wait a minute, didn’t we have that same emotion on January 1, 2020?

News Flash! This happens every year.

Of course, there are always unexpected things that pop up and take the wind out of our sails. You know, like COVID-19, that we have no control over.

Every day I roll out of bed to a new day filled with potential. Those are the opportunities to show what stuff we are made of.

It’s hard, I know. Life is hard. I once heard a wise man say something the likes of our life being ten percent what happens to us and ninety percent how we react to it.

How can a person react in the right way? Ya gotta know what’s right, right? A few things that came in my path proved to be helpful. Surround yourself with people that are the way you would like to be.

I have Darlene in my life that seems to know the Old Testament of the Good Book inside out and sideways.  There is much to learn of the people in it. The good, bad or the ugly.

Janice knows scripture like none other. She and her husband would recite it between themselves to strengthen each other. That came in handy when her beloved passed away. She can hardly wait to join him, but knows there are people to encourage (like me) in the meantime.

My husband loves and encourages me, despite all my flaws. Just like Jesus does.

Read! Of all the reads available, only the Good Book has the power to transform your life for the better. However good your New Year resolutions may be, I can tell you scripture tops it.

 

Gift Giving

Gift

We are in the Christmas season. Jesus’ birthday.

For some, it’s a depressing time. For others, thoughts are filled with all the glee the holiday holds. Along with the songs and carols of the season.

My favorite is Mary, Did You Know? Listening to it brings tears to my eyes. Probably especially so for us mothers. Mary Did You Know Mark Lowry – YouTube

We treasure those moments of holding our newborn in the still of the night when the rest of the house sleeps. This little one is mine, all mine to admire, cuddle, and gaze in awe of how perfect a child we have. What a gift!

It brings to mind what Mary did know. An angel came and told her she was held in high esteem and in God’s favor. He continued, saying you will get pregnant, without having sex.  You’re gonna have a son, and will name him Jesus. He will do great things and will be called God’s son. Jesus will sit on a throne as his ancestor David did, and will rule over his kingdom forever.

What Mary didn’t know was how all of this would happen. She’s in her early teens and her family are not rulers of anything. There’s a gift to wonder about!

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the future holds for us? As eager as I was to start a family, I was clueless to what all is involved in this childrearing thing.

There were changes. Lots of them.

The most recent has actually been going on for several years now. It made for more years of seasonal depression than I care to admit.

Our children are no longer children, even so, during the Christmas season gifts flowed. However, we all share in the necessity of wise spending.

Jointly we all agreed to stop this gift-giving practice. Little did I realize how difficult this was going to be for me. Giving is what parents do.

How I miss shopping for the perfect gift just for them! I admit, I love to shop. The flip side is, it removes a lot of pressure for all us.

That, in turn, presents another difficult thing for me. The acceptance of gifts from others. It’s uncomfortable to be trained in how to be a gracious in receiver. It’s not natural.

This Christmas I received a small book from a friend. As I read through, I realized she had placed a sticky note with a message on it. Excitedly, I kept reading until I reached her note with an encouraging message.

I was certain it was just for me. But she confessed it was something that was meaningful to her, written years ago and had forgotten it was there.

Since I’ve started this writing thing, I take the written word more seriously now. Like the found sticky note, I feel like it is something meant for me directly from the writer.  I realized I had to be thankful for the author of the book too.  It came from his heart and was meant to impact the reader.

Thinking further, the Good Book came to mind. It carries a message from the author directly to the reader. The words in it are the gift of life. Yes, Jesus’s story, but how that story pulls us in until we become part of the message too.

Read it, absorb it into your life, love it, and then pass it on because it is a gift….Merry Christmas!

Our Tennessee Waltz

4922080300_7000d2b30b_bWe didn’t realize what was on the road ahead of us.

We were expecting our first child and were dancing on air. I was sicker than a dog but certain it would all be good. Even better when my husband, Dave’s tour of duty in the Navy would be over and we could get on with life. He had just completed training in the Navy.

Within a month we would receive orders on where he would be stationed. Having no ‘home’ to return to we relied on our parents. Two weeks each should get us through the wait.

We loaded our goods in a small rented trailer and headed for Michigan.  Living in Millington, Tennessee was much like camping. We were there a mere four months so only had the bare essentials.

As we traveled, Dave commented, “Soon we are going to have to get some gas.”

Then I feel asleep. Allow me to note here, nagging can be a good thing and sleeping on the job not so good. We ran out of gas.

I was awake by then and we reasoned he would walk up the incline to see if there was a gas station nearby.

Did I mention this was wintertime? The poor guy was wearing those lovely polyester pants so popular at that time. They had zero warmth and the wind was blowing.

I glanced around our stranded location. It occurred to me I should have warned him not to accept any rides.

Don’t be silly, he’s a grown man. He wouldn’t do anything as risky as getting into a stranger’s car.

My gaze returned to his path in time to see him climbing into a car that pulled over for him. Panic seized me and instantly I lost it. Mentally I knew he was going to be slaughtered and thrown out in some ditch. I sat there sobbing at the side of the road, waiting for the police to come tell me the horrible news.

I was going to have to raise this child alone. What would become of us?

As expected, the police came. Having seen our car at the side of the road, and Dave walking back my way with a gas can, they picked him up. How dare he be alive and well! I was still in my devastated mode trying to figure out how I would carry on without him.

After settling me down, we traveled on, stopping for the night. We awoke the next morning to snow. A lot of snow. Dangerous driving kind of weather.  But continue we must.

The traffic made two ruts of the road. In front of us cars were losing control left and right providing several close encounters. Miraculously no one hit us. It’s frightening to have a vehicle heading right for us and seeing the passengers inside screaming.  However, they did clear a path allowing us forge on.

We were almost at our destination when the transmission gave out on the car.

Lord, what more?

I’ve since learned not to ask him that.

In that month long wait, a family member got me a doctor appointment concerning my excessive morning sickness.  The meds were costly, but they got me over the hump and I felt much better.

Looking back at that ‘season’ of life I’m in awe of God’s protection. True, we experienced some thrills and chills but thankfully nothing on earth lasts forever. His love does.

 

Fifty Years!

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© jbkatke

How did that happen?

Each day holds some kind of specialness to someone. This week my husband and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.

When we married we had no idea what was ahead of us in our new life. No matter what happens, we would be together. That was my dream, we would grow old together.

The following is how it played out through the years:

The Navy                                                                                                                                              Children to the third power                                                                                                                  Leaving our home state                                                                                                            Various homes                                                                                                                            Mission trips to various countries                                                                                  Grandparenthood                                                                                                                        Home business                                                                                                                              Bunches of surgeries                                                                                                                 Retirement                                                                                                                                   Husband returning to the work force

Some of our years have been really good, others not so. But we have remained together for the long haul. I could tell you it was due to our love, which is true. But mostly, it never occurred to either of us that things might not work out. Divorce wasn’t in our vocabulary.

Maybe I left something out. Both of us are convinced our happenstantial meeting was no accident. Have you read how we met? I won’t repeat myself but you can find it in my Many Octobers Ago blog.

The point I wish to make is that we were heaven sent to each other. It was nothing we could have orchestrated ourselves, but with God anything is possible. Don’t take my word, the Good Book says so. Refer to Luke 1:37. (Take note. That is what Mary was told when learning she would have a baby, without sex. Another heaven sent miracle!)

Truth is something you can always depend on, he can even turn bad circumstances around to good if we rely on him. You know like trying to celebrate when there are so many restrictions going on?

We are postponing our celebration to next year, when hopefully life will be done with COVID. As a result, we figured this day will be unremarkable. To others it will be just another ho hum day of the week.

But not so, to our surprise we received a package from an ongoing business relationship. It is a custom wood tray that blends beautifully in our kitchen. Noting our anniversary coming up, they chose to honor us. It was so unexpected, but it doesn’t end there. Our special day is also our son-in-law’s, his birthday. See, good things really do happen!

 

Spirit Living

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© jb katke

Until moving to Kansas City, I had never seen anything like it. The spirit these people have is like none other.

We’ve lived here for twenty seven years now and I’m still not used to it.

There are three seasons when people just pour themselves into the moment. Summertime baseball, all I hear about are the Royals. Autumn brings Kansa City Chiefs football fever. Lastly, the season we are in now, the Christmas season.

The number one question is ‘Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?’ It isn’t just the conversation though. All decorators seem to crawl out of their hole and inundate the marketplace with the latest trends in making a home more festive.

What really gets to me with these three seasons is the attire. People here have complete wardrobes endorsing the sport teams. It’s all they wear, eat, and sleep, their devotion worn on their sleeves. Literally. Likewise for the Christmas season. Every day is a new and different holiday ensemble.

My photo shows you what I have. My holiday tops of choice are either solid red or green. That’s it. Why, you ask? So that I can wear them throughout the year. Yes, I did succumb and purchase one Christmas sweater so that I wouldn’t look like Scrooge. As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” Or red.

The reason I’m adamant about this is I don’t have the space or desire to store these exclusive wardrobes until the right season comes. I’m also cheap. Ok, maybe not cheap, but not where I want to invest hard-earned cash. I can be frivolous, just ask my husband or kids.

Needless to say, my mindset doesn’t always fit in with others. Actually, that’s biblical. Did you know that? Romans 12:2 in the Message says it best,

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.

I’m okay with that, how ‘bout you? When you think about it, it’s kinda like a three-fer. Change how you think, be mindful of your God, and thereby eliminate all those self-improvement efforts. God will do it for you. It doesn’t get any better than that folks.

A Thanksgiving of Gratitude

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© jb katke

Thankful! Are you kidding me?

Need I remind you this is 2020? The year of have nots.

Worldwide people have suffered the loss of a loved one. Business owners have closed their doors for good. Hospitals are full capacity. Churches were forbidden to hold services to their community. There’s more, but you’re capable of filling in the rest.

Some find it astounding that the sun rises to another new day. Where is the hope?

We have been forced to look at life differently. Instead of gazing back at what used to be, we must look at the way things are now.

Perhaps the hope is in ourselves. If you are still breathing, you have survived thus far. That is an accomplishment. Where there is breathe, there is hope. Now is the time to acknowledge what we still have.

Doctors and grocery stores still exist. Online shopping has become the norm.

Organizations have rallied to the call of need, helping any way they can. Neighbors have opened their doors to each other, looking in to see if all is well. It’s what America does.

With schools closed, teachers have made themselves available to continue educating students. Time invested in others is never wasted time.

Churches have opened to technology and encourage online listeners that God is still God. He knows and cares what is happening in our lives. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Families have turned inward and reconnected to each other in creative ways. For the elderly, visits are through a window, reminding them they are loved. That’s what love looks like.

Home may feel like a prison, but it also is a refuge from harsh realities. Not everyone has a place to hunker down in, if you do, consider yourself rich.

Listening to the news is optional, many feel better without it. I’m not encouraging putting your head in a hole, but sift truth from falsehoods. You can still think for yourself.

One of the many things I am grateful for is you. Some may think I harp on a religious platform. No, what I share with you is my life, things I have found to be true. Stuff you won’t likely hear from anywhere else.  Thank you for your time and interest in these words I share.

During this ongoing pandemic, I hope you can find some nuggets of hope this Thanksgiving.   Maybe even give some encouragement to others. It’s what we are here for.

Keynote Speaker

OIP

All I can say is it was an opportunity.

The mission team at church was planning a trip to Belarus, the former USSR. By design they were forming a Business Conference to English speaking students. My husband and I ran a cottage industry in home remodeling, so we qualified.

At the time, I felt we were the comedy relief of the group. Our fellow travelers were bona fide professional business people. We, on the other hand were a pint-size home business.

Our missionary sponsor approached the women of the group, “The Dean of our local girls’ college contacted me after learning of your visit here. If one of you has a free morning she would love for you to come have a chat with her students.”

I did, so we made arrangements to get me there. Boris was to escort me to a meeting place where someone would take us to the college.

“How is this individual going to recognize us, as neither of us know her?”

It seemed like a legitimate question, but if I had given it any thought, I look quite American.

Arriving at the college, the Dean welcomed me into her office. “What are you going to speak on?”

Speak on? I thought I was coming for a chat with students.

I proceeded to explain the nature of our business and she seemed satisfied. She graciously took me to the classroom where I was to visit with the students. There was a podium at the front of the room. This was not going to be a ‘chat,’

Swell, my speaking notes are back at the hotel room.

I was given a cup of tea that I never got a chance to drink. Students just kept pouring into the room, soon it was standing room only.

After my introduction, I began with how our business came to be. Immediately a hand shot up from one of the teaching staff.

“Is this going to take very long?”

A portion of my warm welcome flew out the window. Except for the girls, they seemed to soak up every word I spoke. I explained that we didn’t plan on running a business that it evolved with time.  The skills of my husband were passed on by word-of-mouth that led from one construction opportunity after another.

I shared how it takes money to make money, insofar as obtaining the right tools for each job. We operated for several years before finally getting some business cards, only because clients asked for them. God was blessing our endeavor.

The students listened intently. The business opportunities of 2005 were unheard of in this third world country. But what interested them the most was when I spoke of our home, our children, and how many cars we had, as well as my quilting hobby. They were enthralled by the pictures I brought.

To my amazement, I managed to share everything without my notes. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. It proved to me how God meets our needs when we step out of our comfort zone to speak of him.

We came to bring hope and encouragement to a people with limited opportunities. We brought home a deeper appreciation not only for what God has done in our life, but also the freedom we take for granted.

Nonsensical

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© jb katke

Can we agree that some things in life just don’t make sense? Countless times reality disregards logic.

Here is my current conundrum.

Nine Thanksgivings ago I was challenged to write one thing I am grateful for every day. Having never been one to journal I figured this I could handle. It has been my practice up until now.

This year has been challenging in many ways. As 2020 progressed I neglected my entries. October came to a screeching halt. It didn’t make sense. Under forced captivity due to COVID19, I had more time than ever to write. But it didn’t happen.

If you have been following my blogs, you’ll remember this writing thing wasn’t my idea. As I take baby steps forward, I continue to be grateful, but not in written form.

These days I have been reading and spending time with people. It’s interesting that when we are advised to keep our distance from others that we lean towards companionship more than ever. Go figure.

There are lots of good books to help take your mind off concerns. But I’ve found the Good Book is the only publication that can offer practical help and hope in times of trouble. It speaks a lot of Jesus. For sure he lived a life that doesn’t make sense.

He is the son of a creator king, filthy rich, and perfect in every way. He came here so that he could hang with ordinary people, and get this, take the blame for every bad thing they have ever done. I’m talking generations here. Let that thought settle in.

Its mind boggling that he deliberately left a perfect world to come here and wind up murdered.  Believe it or not, it’s what he did. Why? So that others could join him in that perfect world later on.

So here is what I’m thinking. When Jesus walked the earth, he tackled a challenge. Regardless of what was happening around him. His focus stayed true to what was important. People. Hope. A forever life.

Despite my challenges, or what’s going on around me, I need to follow his example. Invest in people, give hope, and share with others the everlasting life he offers to us all.

In nonsensible times like these he is the only one that makes sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Need Met

Old Ford van © jb katke

Am I the only one that sees a divine hand in everyday happenings?

We needed a larger vehicle. Cars today just don’t comfortably accommodate baby car seats together with older children. Fights are sure to ensue, and they did.

I was at a point in my life where my Christian faith was beginning to grow. But our family didn’t have what I deemed we needed. Can I get ‘amen’ on frustration?

I could have listed countless reasons why we should have a van, when a thought came to mind.

Wait a minute, God makes no mistakes, right? If we don’t have it, there must be a reason. I should wait for it.

Easy to say, hard to do. I’ve never been big on patience.

Time passed and so did a relative providing an unexpected inheritance. Typical isn’t it to lose one thing in order to gain another.

The van entered our family. We referred to it as the Limo. The back seats were captains’ chairs that swiveled to the rear, facing a bench seat. My husband built a small table for the kids to play games, complete with cup holders built in. Fights dropped by 99%.

While the kids may not agree with me, I take pride that all of them learned to drive in Big Blue. Notice the name change? Time passed. Within 11 years we had three children, for them to have a shared experience was both a challenge and accomplishment.

It took us comfortably on many vacations. Our son used it on a three hour drive, full of newly graduated seniors to an amusement park in Ohio to celebrate. One daughter narrowly missed hitting a butterfly, while another came dangerously close to mailboxes. No harm done on any account.

That is except for my trip into town where I bought a drastically reduced sweater, ripping the trim off the side of her in a too tight parking space.

For several years Big Blue was there for my husband in his home improvement business. While I referred to it as his mobile office, it soon became the Big Lug.

Coming from Michigan, it suffered from salt cancer. Rust had eaten away too much of the body. Insulation poured out of her leaving a trail much like Pigpen of the Peanuts comic strip. She began to waddle on her frame. To my husbands’ dismay, “It still has its hubcaps!”

“No babe, Big Lug needs a decent burial.”

She served us well, but all things eventually come to an end. It was an opportunity to practice letting go. That’s hard. Especially when there are so many memories wrapped in it. Thank you Jesus for them.

 

Maybe Now I Get It

Don't Play ChickenI got a snapshot of why some folks look upon Christians with disdain.

Stick with me here and allow me to paint a word picture of how it played out.

This week as I was leaving the coffee shop, I found myself playing chicken with another driver. As I was weaving my way through the parking lot, another driver came from around the corner. The driver, (a female, darn it!) made a wide right turn planting herself on my side of the lane.

She continued moving forward towards me, not even trying to get back in her own lane. Having no place to go, I stopped. Surely she saw me, I was only a few feet from her.

In turn, she also stopped.

Lady, what are you thinking? What do you want me to do?

Finally, smiling, she turned into a parking space. That’s when I saw what was written on the drivers’ door. Get this…

Pray.

Honey, if that’s the way you drive, you need prayer. (This is precisely why I don’t place Christian anything on my car…I don’t want my driving to jade the faith of others)

So why am I telling you this? My better sense tells me I shouldn’t because you may know this individual.

I have come to believe we live out what has been entered into our memory banks. This is why we need to be mindful of the places we go and the things we do.

Without uttering a word, actions speak loudly. Especially stupid ones.

I recall my aunt would present her good intentions, but sadly she fell short in her own eyes because her actions were lacking. A friend says words matter, and they do. But actions is where the rubber meets the road.

Hopefully not as vividly as the lady I spoke of above. But you get my drift. It may be the only Bible some people will see.

As far as the Christian faith I mentioned, this is why so many cling to this guy, Jesus, who devoted his life pointing others to his dad. To the extent of a horrific death suspended on a cross, taking the blame for the evil in this world.

All that so that everyone could have direct access to his dad…through prayer. Just as that lady was endorsing. Not to mention the perks that come with that. Stuff like, protection and a peace beyond what you can imagine, on a daily basis.

A Feel Good Moment

Road debris

When was the last time you had a feel good moment?

I’m not talking about health, but a time when you did something good for the benefit of all. Maybe it wasn’t you at all, but you were there and witnessed the good deed.

Yesterday I had that opportunity.

I was driving down the road minding my own business, when the traffic light changed to red forcing me to stop. Not just me but others too. That doesn’t sound like a unique, even noteworthy moment. But it’s those ordinary moments that often impact me the most.

A driver happened to notice some road debris in the lane next to her. She sat there waiting out the light apparently deep in thought. Suddenly she opened the car door hopping out of her vehicle.

What was she thinking of getting out of her car in the middle of the street?

She ran over to the left hand turn lane next to her, signaling the driver to wait. She leaned down and scooped up what appeared to be a box of electronic equipment spread out on the pavement. Quickly she tossed it over on the boulevard next to the left hand turner.

Not even checking the traffic light, she returned to the remaining mess on the pavement and picked up what could potentially damage a tire if anyone ran over it and threw that next to the box.

Here’s the thing. She didn’t have to do that. It was in the middle of the lane. Most cars could easily straddle it and drive through with no harm done.

But this lady decided not to take that chance, even though it wasn’t in her lane to worry about. To let things be could be a potential problem for somebody. She was thinking of others.

Fortunately she got back in her car before the light turned green and we all went on our way.

I wonder what that driver in the left turn lane thought?  Was he grateful? Did he think she was stupid? I’ll never know. But I can tell you this, it made me feel good.

This reminds me of what I read some time back in the Good Book.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”                    Hebrews 12:2 The Message

Like this lady, Jesus didn’t have to do it. He took a risk but it made him feel good that he might be helping someone later on. He was thinking of others. Ya know, people like you & me.