Cabin In The Woods

                                                                                            

My folks’ cabin in the woods was far from a Norman Rockwell painting.  It was their heaven on earth. I hated it.

Uncle Geo sold them land to build a cinder block cabin. It was outstanding in its field as it was 14 miles from civilization. The rustic one room dwelling, gave all new meaning to an open floor plan. Picture in your mind no privacy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The amenities could be counted on one finger. We had electricity.

My uncle walked around with a forked willow stick, known as dowsing. When the

Pumping water
© jb katke

branch turned down in his hands, there he declared underground water. Dad dug down making a well. Running water consisted of running down the little hill with bucket in hand.

Water was heated to meet our needs. I can still feel the spider running up my arm as I plunked an item in the dishwater, and shudder at the memory.

Bathing consisted of standup baths at the kitchen sink.   Repeat zero privacy.

Outhouse
© jb katke

 

Having no plumbing required an outhouse. Upon a visit, I observed a ribbon type thing swaying in the breeze from the door closing. Only it continued to sway well after the door shut. I cracked open the door enough to let light in to see it was a snake coiled around a grill rack. I can’t explain why there was a grill rack there. Needless to say, I my exit was swift.

 

Heat came by way of a fireplace and space heater. Fortunately, we didn’t make many trips to the cabin in cold weather.

To go took some planning. I suspect my folks kept the necessary supplies within easy reach if an opportunity should present itself. I understood where their hearts were year-round…

Both of my grandparents lived too close by. The many responsibilities in looking after the elderly fell heavily on my parents. They needed a break.

No way did  I willingly join my parents in their road trips north. Ever. In their eyes I was too young to be left home alone. As I grew, so did my resistance. It was just too primitive for me.

Compared to pioneer days, my folk’s cabin would have been considered sheer luxury.  Four walls, a roof and a door, who could ask for more? Me.

I amaze myself enduring circumstances that appeared so awful in my teenage mind. Life has taught me otherwise. This year has for sure, 2020 has helped me see things differently.

Sometimes I think the Lord supplies us with opportunities to .learn and grow in ways we would consider impossible. Yet here we are.

In The Navy Now

Dave at Navy Court in Milligton Tenn ©jb katke

The woman behind the counter leaned forward to better hear my husbands’ words.

“I beg your pardon, would you mind repeating what you just said?’

Dave patiently repeated the purpose of our visit, “I’ve just got out of boot camp and returned home to get my wife. I am to report for training classes tomorrow so we need to get housing.”

Eyes wide with amazement, the woman replied, “That’s what I thought you said.  Excuse me while I see what we can do.”

She disappeared behind an office door.  We glanced at each other, wondering why there was confusion over something the housing office does on a daily basis.  The woman returned along with the housing manager.

“It just so happens that yesterday we got an unexpected vacancy. We have a duplex available for rent.”  We signed the paperwork and promptly took possession.

We were into our marriage ten months and had missed each other terribly during the month long boot camp.  We were young and in love; separation was unthinkable to either of us.

Nevertheless, the Viet Nam War made some decisions for us. Dave realized his draft number was coming up.  He preferred the Navy so he had to take action or he would automatically be inducted into the Army.

Needless to say, our first year of marriage had not played out as I had anticipated.

Both of us were clueless to a thing called military protocol or a housing waiting list two years long.

Looking back, I see several miracles:

A couple moving unexpectedly. We walked into the military housing office at just the right time.

The people next in line on the waiting list hadn’t been notified yet,

The manager taking compassion on our situation.

Even now I can’t believe all that was a mere coincidence.  Stupidity yes, but Jesus had everything covered unbeknownst to us.

He didn’t have to provide for us the way he did.  At that time in our spiritual life, a relationship with God was nonexistent.  Both of us grew up in moral homes and went to church each week prior to our wedding.

But attendance doesn’t automatically make you a Christian any more than going to a fast food restaurant turns you into a hamburger.   Having any kind of friendship with Jesus wasn’t in our mindset at that time.

Fortunately Jesus doesn’t wait until we get life straightened out with him before he starts blessing us. Looking back I can see his love was already at work as he patiently waited for us to realize his presence.

Island Life

Bois Blanc Island

This was to be a weekend for the memory books.

A ferry ride took us across the top of northern Michigan’s Lake Huron. Our destination was one of the islands, where our friends inherited vacation home was located. It was formerly Nan’s dad home, he was one of the few hardy residents that stayed during the rugged Michigan winters.

Our family was invited but it was my husband they wanted. He was the helping hand in a porch roof repair.

We were in for an interesting experience. The shower curtain bore the attached note:

‘If a shower you must take, don your suit and head for the lake.’

You see, there were these house rules like none other…:

  • Breakfast was served at 7am. Attendance mandatory. It was the only meal we shared together. The rest of the day we were free as a bird.
  • No one sleeps in the master bedroom. It was considered a shrine where dad once slept. Not out of endearment mind you, but a fearful respect for the tough father he once was. Our visiting required this rule to be broken this one time.
  • No watching television. Except for the adults to watch an hour of evening news. Young people were expected to make their own entertainment. The island offered activity in the form of a four-wheeler that they didn’t have at home. The entire island was considered their playground.
  • No milk allowed. Period. In a weekend visit we couldn’t drink it fast enough before it would spoil. (This was our youngest daughters’ favorite rule.)

The family was cautious not to run up burdensome utility bills. Nan and her sister were the inheritors. They ran a tight ship.

Our contentious daughter added to the ‘fun’ until she eventually let her hair down.  A bat latched onto the shoelace of their son, prompted her laughter as he hopped around on one foot trying to shake it off. Eventually she resigning to the fact that our time together required interaction, so she joined the others in a game.

All of us have looked upon on this memory with fondness. It has become an inside joke for the family. When any of us come up with an outlandish desire, we always declare, “…when I get my island….”

Rose Flower

 

20200705_140323 © jb katke

Rose accused me of having frog eyes.

I hope my introduction of Rose will do her justice. Her life was like a flower to me. Did I ever let her know that? No, and it hurts my heart that I’m so lousy at maintaining friendships.

She and her husband Hank were neighbors of my husband. We were going together when I first met them. Often, when we had no money for a real date, we walked two doors down to visit with them.

Hank and Rose mentored us when mentoring wasn’t cool. They may or may not have realized how much we gleaned from them. It took years before I realized it myself.

Together they showed us what family life was all about. They were a blended family but Hank took her family as his, and likewise, his family became Roses. I know no details of their life beforehand and refuse to speculate. There is an advantage to take life where it’s at and move forward because the past is history.

Rose was perpetually involved in some project. Always revolving around family. Although she may have been contemplating a needlework sampler for the two of us. I saw the same pattern she did and ordered it to make myself. That’s when she called me frog eyes.

Even so, both of them took time to chat with us teenagers. They made relationship a priority. We weren’t part of the ‘in crowd’ of party-goers, drinkers, or doing drugs. Instead these precious neighbors were more our speed.

She shared the secret of how to get a husband to do a chore for her. Rose had repeatedly asked Hank to paint their iron stair rail, but he never quite found the time for it. One Saturday morning she laid out newspaper on the carpeted steps and proceeded to open the paint can.

“What are you doing?” Hank inquired.

“I could see how busy you’ve been, so I decided I could probably do this myself.”

“Here, give me the brush, I’ll take over.”

Mission accomplished.

I use the analogy of a flower because a flower brings beauty into any place.  It improves whatever is close by it and that is what Rose did for me. She showed me the impact a loving wife can have to her husband, her home and her family.

Whatever brought her to mind I cannot say, but I googled her and learned of her death. This I can say, whatever her age, she always seemed young. She embraced the computer age and became adept in the cyber world, putting me to shame.

Just as a flower fades with time, apparently so did Rose. Alzheimer’s is a frustrating death that is torturous for loved ones to witness.

While I don’t know her spiritual life, she reminds me much of Jesus. Rose and Jesus prioritized people. Both of them saw the good in others and showed their care.

Goodbye Rose, I love you and hope to see you later.

 

Quilt Of Shame

WP_20150920_001 ©jb katke

Mother’s Day was around the corner.  Perfect timing.  My church was giving me the opportunity to conduct a quilt class for mothers and their daughters. Quilting is a passion of mine and I was getting to share it with others!

I selected a sampler style project that would be an introduction to the many facets of the craft.  With a creative seed planted, I was hoping other women would join me in making quilts for those in need.  This could be the start of something big.  I was going to shine.

It was a learning experience alright.  For me.  Organization was required. Relaying directions in a way novice quilters and young girls could understood was important. Supposedly, I was to be the knowledgeable teacher.  It was going fairly well.  Until the end was in sight and it was time to bind the edges of the wall-hanging.

One mother/daughter team was getting in the groove and were ahead of the group.

There is just no easy way to say this. 

I ruined their project. I cut her binding too short.  If only the ground would open for me to fall in and disappear!

Needless to say, no one jumped to join in my little mission for the needy.  I was more than embarrassed, I was humbled.  Which I greatly deserved.

With all my fluff and greatness, I never asked the Lord to bless this opportunity.  How arrogant can one get?

Since my public tragedy my friends smile with patient endurance as I rattle off on my current quilt endeavor.  But I’ve learned not to be so full of myself.  A friend aptly clarifies quilting,

“You buy several yards of fabrics, cut them into pieces, and then sew them all back together again.” Yes, she gets it.

Eventually, two women did join me in quilt-making for those in need.  We met once a month.  But due to all of us employed, getting a quilt completed proved to be a challenge.  I discussed this dilemma with the Lord many a time.  My prayer was answered via a garage sale.

A neighbor came by purchasing my fabric. She shared that several ladies in her church do a similar ministry to an organization my church is also affiliated with.  She graciously invited our group to join them.  More hands to the task! At first I was encouraged, but eventually turned my mission over to them.

These events took place over many years.  Not because God was slow to respond or that he was punishing me for promoting self.

I’m certain it has more to do with dedication to what God wants, not what I’m willing to do for God.  He has his plans which far surpass what I can imagine.

If my intentions are genuine, then my life needs to walk in step with Him.

Balloon Daze

20200612_195001       © jb katke

Hot air balloons drift through my mind. Three of them floated over our home recently.

The thought of being carried by the wind, and the birds eye view, entice me. Maybe it’s the sheer size of them, or being so colorful. Whatever it is, I love them.

Whenever I see one anymore it reminds me of the time I pierced my sons’ eardrums. Poor Jamie. Several years ago we were chatting on the telephone. Having a cordless phone gave me the freedom to walk around the house.

I casually strolled into the office and opened the window blinds.

(Humor me. Hold both your hands close to your face, but not touching. Can’t see too much can you?)

When I opened those blinds all I could see were massive stripes.

“Oh my gosh!”

A hot air balloon landed in our front yard. It was a bit of a miracle because of the two large oak trees on both sides of the house. The balloon filled the entire gap.

If I hadn’t opened those blinds I would have missed the whole scene. And Jamie might have his full hearing today!

Blinds shield too much sun and offer privacy at night. Blinders on horses keep them from being distracted.

But what about the blinders we wear on a regular basis that keep us from seeing reality, the big picture? We may have less compassion for others and potentially lose an opportunity to make a difference in life.

If Edison hadn’t acknowledged the need for light, we would still be in the dark after sunset. If a person hadn’t wanted to cross a body of water, rafts and boats wouldn’t have come to be. Pioneers felt there must be a better way to travel, hence trains. You get the idea.

Need I even mention counselors and therapists to aid in both mental and physical capacities? Churches offer hope in hard times, plant seeds of trust and strengthen all the time. IF we approach them with an open heart.

Ugghhh…sounds too much like welcoming change! It is, for the better.

 

 

 

Cheerful Helpmate

20200614_140123                                                                                                   © jb katke

“You have been married forty years? I can’t imagine being together with someone that long.”

Tina was caregiver to my father and his wife in their final years.  The admiration of the love they shared spoke to this twenty something young woman. That’s what prompted her question to my husband and me as to the years we’ve been together.

“What is the glue that motivates you to stay together?”

I ask you, how does one explain in a few words what has taken a lifetime to learn?

We married so young, I must confess, both of us had some growing up to do. But there were some things set in place that helped.  Each of us came from a solid two parent home.  Both families acknowledged God.

Being high school sweethearts gave us the time to get to know each other. Learning what makes a person tick is beneficial as to whether the relationship continues.   We liked each other and appreciated our respective outside interests.

In our dating years there was no sexual intimacy.  That may sound admirable, but I later learned becomes crucial.

Our marriage has definitive roles.  We relied upon each other.  Knowing the one would pull their weight made for less conflict because we shared the same goals.

But things don’t always stay the same.  Employment can change. Age happens.  Health plays a big part. Adapting becomes the rule of the day.

God’s word indicates a wife to be a help, not a hindrance, to her husband. I became right-hand man to my husbands’ remodeling business. Office assistant and go-fer were added to the hats I wore.

When life changes come at you came, we knew we had each other’s back.  Whatever we were in, we were in it together.

The Bible doesn’t indicate a husband to be a helpmate.  But he can be if he wants to.  Recently, at a quilt workshop, I forgot to pack way too many needful items.  My husband willingly brought what I needed.  Four times!  Happily, because he knows I would do it for him.

Have done it for him.  Well, not four times in one day.

Bear with my lopsided humor. In reference to the picture, differing adhesives are required:

Painters tape for little touch-ups that need attention.

Movers tape because oftentimes we need to move on.

Electrical tape as sometimes tempers get hot (ok mine can).

Duct tape when you need something that will stick forever.

Wood glue, with a clamp, when you remember a commitment was made on our wedding day, complete with witnesses!

Explaining to so many doesn’t make sense when you genuinely love each other and know we were brought together for a divine reason.

 

The Perfect Husband

Dave sunning 3[2898]                                                                © jb katke

Can you define the perfect husband?

When my girls were teenagers they could sum it up in a single word. Rich.

My definition of the perfect husband has changed through the years. I didn’t think about it when I got married. My list came into existence when our first child was born. I should have married a pediatrician. He could have answered my endless questions and known just what to do in child raising.

Fathers Day is approaching, so I focus on Dave, the father of my children. As the years stacked up I was glad to have married a man that can fix anything. Anything. But then I got to wishing he would stop with the constructive criticism. I found he wasn’t so handy at emotional issues.

Our first home shrank after purchase. We moved in as a family of three but grew to five. Even completely rebuilding the upstairs, it still left us wanting more space. But it definitely improved the salability of the home. I was truly grateful for his skill.

We shared several lean years when he did much of our automotive maintenance. He knew how to do a lot, then I found out he didn’t like it too much. Shoot, we couldn’t afford all our car repairs! So I was glad he was at least willing to tackle some.

His career was in machine maintenance at a check printing company. So many of the plants were closing that it made moving away from the only home we knew necessary. Both of our hearts ached at the division it created in our family. But he faced the hardship in order to continue providing for us.

He retired at a young age which required further employment. By now his skills had become well known to friends. It led to his starting a home business in remodeling. He was a man in demand. I was so proud to his expertise until he was a little too busy to make what I deemed necessary for our home!

When friends found themselves out of work, Dave offered for them to join him, making it a win/win for all. My man has a good heart. After several surgeries, he needed a helping hand. Friends stepped up, even though construction was out of their wheelhouse, and came to his aid. He knows how to make and keep good friends.

Our life together has not always been perfect. But I have come to the point of realization Dave is perfect for me. He balances me as no other can. He is a man full of wisdom and I appreciate being able to bounce thoughts off him. Sometimes he wonders where I come up with stuff, but its all good, we keep each other on our toes.

Dave has supported me while I looked for myself. That’s what women of the 70’s did. They felt the need to be someone more than wife and mother. Deep inside, we know we are made for a unique purpose. Many left home, but I stayed and kept looking in the cracks and crevices until I found me.

The thing is we more than like each other, we love each other. Staying together just made sense.  But I’ve saved the best for last. He recognized his need for Jesus and together we have included him in our marriage. Our life together has never been so good!

Life Behind the Mask

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© jb katke

Masks have caused so much controversy. Every voice has legitimate reason why they are for or against them.

Lets’ be honest. People have been living behind masks for years. I’m not talking Halloween either.

Look at the employee that is passed over year after year without that anticipated promotion and pretending it’s no big deal.

Or the battered wife, convinced she can’t live without her husband. So she covers for his abuse with no end in sight. The hurt is real.

How about the couple dreaming of having a family only to learn it’s not going to happen? Time eventually heals for that to be OK.

Consider the people that have worked hard all their life, anticipating all the things retirement will bring? Only to find reality isn’t what they thought.

Here’s a good one. Church goers accused of putting on a good front on Sunday, but living a lie the rest of the week.

The problem today is, we are called upon to wear masks for the protection of self and others. The unthinkable has suddenly made us a health hazard!

Maybe we have been living unhealthy for a long time. Are your meals a balanced diet? Mine aren’t.

Have you read any articles on the benefit of fitness lately? Its’ one thing to know what should be done but quite another to do it. I know.

A voice of reason might say we just need to do what seems right. Even that can’t be trusted because our right could infringe upon another adversely.

What then?

A decent start could be something I already mentioned…try church. You might be surprised to find the people there are like you, not so holy, and looking for hope. Jesus gives us that.

I mean, what have you got to lose? With the worst of the COVID19 pandemic behind us, services are resuming again. Possibly in their front lawn.

Hey, it could be kinda fun! Bring your lawn chair and a cup of coffee.

Unorganized Church

Small church

“You’re serious. You really looked us up through the yellow page of the phone book?”

Its true. The church I was looking for had to be non-denominational, fundamental, and evangelical. So I let my fingers do the walking.

The time had come to provide for our son what my folks had made available to me. Church.

It was a tall order for the small church I settled on. My husband and I preferred not to be aligned with a denomination. Only we kinda were and didn’t realize it. Much later I learned it was a Plymouth Brethren church. I wasn’t attuned to various religions, and because it was located in the town of Plymouth, I thought nothing of it.

Our attendance met a need…at first. Our minister was a knowledgeable godly man called to many speaking engagements. He traveled a lot, and favored teaching from the Old Testament mapping the travels of various people.  Interesting, but nothing to take home, think on, or apply to our daily life. Spiritually, it was lacking.

I became aware how a congregation lives reflects their spiritual life. When given the opportunity for expansion, the offered land to build on was shot down. So no growth.

Our little church jumped on the popular band wagon to sponsor a Vietnamese family in coming to the US. A home was obtained and made ready for their arrival. But no one seemed interested in providing food or befriending these folks once they arrived.  What’s going on here?

One morning our minister expressed his dislike of men who had long hair.  This was the era of the seventies when that was the fad.  He referred to them as ‘shims.’

Finally the elders of the church suggested he leave to find other employment.

In time a Canadian was selected to lead us.  This new man of God opened scripture like we had never known.  We were introduced to biblical people to identify with and learn from, be they good or bad examples.  He suggested creative ways to show the community our love of God. But it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Our disillusionment grew.

When we moved out of state we set out church shopping. This time we were a little wiser and more selective to find sound teaching. The one we settled on has gone through numerous changes that a church shouldn’t have to experience. But then, why not? We are in the real world where stuff happens.

The COVID19 pandemic has brought on yet more changes. Through the years I’ve learned organization, or disorganization, is a choice. But Truth never changes, it’s who I represent that speaks volumes to those around me.

Roller Coaster Realty

Livonia Home[2874]

 

 

© jb katke

 

Who would have thought buying or selling a house is akin to a roller coaster ride? Emotions swung like a pendulum.

Whatever home improvement project we tackled didn’t address the real problem. As our family grew, the house shrank.

So we put our first home on the market. If memory serves me right it was the first time our son, Jamie offered to cut the grass. Mentally he wanted to mow the For Sale sign down. .

Wishing to keep our kids in their current schools kept our choices in a small circle.   I tackled house-hunting hoping to find one that would meet our needs.  Mission impossible.

One home had a cast iron reproduction stove I loved, but not so the house. Eventually I gave up. Why look when no one was coming to see ours?

Having returned from vacation I was diving into the mountains of laundry when a realtor called. Someone wanted to see the house, but I put no hopes into a possible sale.

“Please pay no mind to the laundry, it doesn’t come with the house.”

Even though the young wife promised her husband he could pick their next home, she fell in love with ours.

“How soon can you move out?”

Wait, what? We had to put it into high gear to find a place for ourselves. Go figure, our realtor had gone on vacation. So another filled her absence even though she was sickish.

We found a place in the neighborhood of our youngest childs elementary school. Ideal because many friends lived in that area of our older daughter as well.

We learned the sellers were friends from my parents past. When that became known they really wanted us to have their home. What a warm feeling!

“How soon can you move in?”

We had been told someone else had made an offer but had to back out of it. The following weekend the realtor set up another open house.

We placed our offer beforehand, but despite the sellers’ wishes, the realtor went on with her plan. She was hoping to benefit of being both seller and the purchasing agent as well.

Things happened fast. But the time of closing needed a little tweaking. We appealed to the sellers’ agent asking if we could postpone it one week.

“Absolutely not! They were most put out by your unreasonable request.”

We felt terrible to cause them in any kind of anguish. Because we sort of knew each other, I called with an apology for putting them out.

“What? We had no idea you had asked that, of course we can wait a week.”

Out of kindness to us, the broker of our agent gave us a bridge loan to cover the four hours between the purchase of our new home and later sale of our existing home.

“In all my years in the realty business, I’ve never know the likes of this realtors practices.”

By now we had established a good relationship with many in the office.

We later learned this agent was a personal friend of the seller and was looking out for their best interest. Her ‘concern’ for them nearly put her in jeopardy of coming before the Board of Realtors.

It all came out in the wash and we have lived happily ever after. Several homes ago.

House hunting happens every day. What was my purpose in sharing this? I’d like you to know God is in the details

The Way Things Were

Have you had enough time to reflect? How life used to be and do you want to make things different?

My mom cane to mind, maybe because we just celebrated Mothers Day. Or it could have been this gross dishwater I’m sharing with you. This was a daily occurrence in her life.

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Back in the day dish soap wasn’t what we know today. Mom would have to drain the sink after washing a few things and get fresh water and soap. Did I mention she didn’t have a dishwasher?

So many, including myself, will talk about the good old days. But maybe they weren’t altogether sooo good.

Permanent press clothes have not always been. Ironing was a necessity.

Microwaves weren’t invented yet. So reheated food was often a little cool or burned from further baking.

You think our roads are bad now? I can recall dad putting chains on the tires of his car for the winter season. That’s another thing. Living in a northern state, we had snow. Lots of it. I’m not talking climate change, and you can’t make me.

There were no malls to shop or for teens to hang out at. The big name brand stores resided in the metropolitan cities. The suburbs had mom and pop stores. Today many are returning to small businesses to support the community.

That’s what we used to have…community! Churches have a reputation of filling needs and we can see that today. We have made the effort to be there for each other.

Jesus was big into people. Admittedly he did get around a lot. Often his scheduled appointments were a distance away, so he walked. Giving him the fresh air and exercise many are doing now.

Have you ever given any thought to Jesus having meetings to attend? He knew the answer to life problems made himself available to others.

To do that takes time. We have had lots of that too. Suddenly multi-tasking has taken a back seat and life has taken on a slower pace. It’s nice not to rush from one activity to another.

It would be nice too, to have someone to turn to for answers. Oh wait…we do! If Jesus makes himself available, we might as well give him some of that time we have excess of. You know where to find him. Incorporate the Nike thing, just do it.

Mothers Day

Asbury out the front door neighbors © jb katke

Allow me to share this interaction with my mom from many years ago.

Mom: “This Sunday is Mothers Day.”

Me: “Again, we just had one last year! When are we going to have a kids day?”

Unfortunately when I was young I thought and talked like a child. I was kinda stupid too. Think about it. When we were young how many of us worried about the house payment, clean clothes, or the next meal? I didn’t know how good I had it.

I would like to turn this Mothers Day around. Instead of focusing on moms, I’d like to give our attention to the people that made us moms. It’s easy to overlook the people that made us who we are. Our children.

I’ve learned a great deal from my kids.

Such as:

After I vacuumed my four year old entered the house from playing outdoors. “Oh, you vacuumed.”                                                                                                                                  Lesson learned: Make your house-cleaning so apparent even the youngest member of the family takes notice.

Despite parental efforts, we could count on our contentious one to do the opposite of our intentions for her well-being.                                                                                                               Lesson learned: Patience, perseverance, and prayers actually work!

Seizing the moment. If that means doing cartwheels down an otherwise busy street in the middle of the night; calling attention of the police, so be it.                                                   Lesson learned: Express your joy in unexpected opportunities.                                                 (BTW this little caper brought your sister unspeakable joy!)

There’s more.

These children of mine grew up. (Sometimes I had serious doubts) My children are no longer children. They have married and fled the nest.

Now I have their spouse whom I also consider my children. They’re the best kind because I didn’t have to give birth or raise them.

Likewise I’ve learned from them too:

Sometimes life isn’t fair and gives ailments that hinder the life they dreamed of living.       Lesson learned: Compassion. Many of us didn’t choose the life we live.

Teen choices are not always the smartest.                                                                              Lesson learned: We carry on and with Jesus’ help see how he changes things for good.

Reality messes with our plans, hopes and even assumptions of how life plays out.               Lesson learned: Always have a plan B. Maybe even a C or D wouldn’t hurt. It takes a while to figure things out.

Kids, it’s called parent-raising.

As you reflect on your childhood years there’s bound to be some bad memories. Keep in mind knowledge isn’t part of the birthing experience. I recall my mother telling me the first time she held a baby was after giving birth to my brother.

If anything, it’s when we have children that we realize how much we don’t know. It’s an ongoing process, too many times a trial by error thing. On the job training, parent-raising at its best.

Look at the people who are in our life and be amazed! They are just who we need to learn lifes greatest lessons.

What we all have in common is sacrifice and love. Too late I learned there is a how-to book available. The good book says the greatest of these is love. That’s where sacrifice stems from. Our words and actions prove where our heart is.

God and Jesus, man how they sacrificed…and loved! The to die for kind of love. I hope you feel it.

Ready To Go

SparrowHope is in the air. The excitement is building.

People are daring to talk of what they will do when our lockdown is lifted. For many, going back to work is priority #1. They are ready to go.

Summer is coming though. Will people be able to afford vacations this year? Will any of us feel free as a bird again?

It brings to mind another kind of excitement our family experienced many years ago. We had purchased a used camper trailer but the concept was new to us. While we never camped before we were ready to go.

The trip started off with a bang. Literally. On his way home from work the evening before take-off, my husband Dave had a car accident. Fortunately it was minor and we were determined not to let that dampen our spirits.

We were headed to northern Michigan. The day was sunny and clear, so the windows were down to enjoy the mild weather wafting in.

Our spirits were high for this new adventure, until our daughter, Cindy let out a blood-curdling scream. It was unavoidable and we hit a sparrow with our rear view mirror. The poor thing was stopped cold mid-flight. Because we were still in motion, it entered the car through the back window and landed smack on Cindy’s lap.

Surprisingly, it only stunned the bird. We stopped and Dave placed it on the shoulder of the road to collect its equilibrium. That little guy had a story to tell its family in recounting the events of his day!

We arrived at our destination, Indian River for a week of relaxation. It is a beautiful campsite and we had a wonderful time…except for the nights.

I was very pregnant with our third child, who made her presence known whenever I laid still. Dave and I were sleeping on what campers call a queen-size bunk. If only it were. He got a taste of what pregnancy feels like as our little one kicked both of us through the night.

If memory serves me right that is the same time I went through withdrawal of iced tea. Loved it then, love it still. But at the time I felt like a human trampoline. This could not continue.

Kind of the same thoughts we have today concerning this COVID-19 lockdown. It just cannot go on. And it won’t.

Yes, 2020 is one for the memory books. Our Creator is well aware of what’s going on in our life. In fact, he even knew about that little sparrow. He wrote in his book.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart of the will of your father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:29-31 NIV Bible

I don’t know about you, but I have a whole lot more hair to count these days. Grasp hope, it’s there for our taking. Soon the hair shops will be open again.

Getting To Know Myself

20190414_150111-1 ©jb katke

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlx6gQWfjp0

When I entered the seventh grade I walked into a new school and a different life.

There were lockers and every subject having its own classroom. All of them in different halls. Anything new and different can be scary.

One of my teachers, Mrs. West, knew that. As we entered her classroom her record player was on playing a song from the musical play The King and I, Getting To Know You. First impressions of our teacher were accurate, she cared for us and desired for us to see our own potential.

New and different. These are the times we are living in. Fortunately there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At least a recess until the fall comes when Coronavirus may make a return engagement.

In the meantime I have gotten to know myself better.

I liked staying home with no place to go.

In addition, I  realized it wasn’t just having family in the house that kept me from cleaning. While I love a clean house, I didn’t want to be the one doing it.

Because our days are melting together, it’s easy to say why do today what can be done tomorrow?

Former neighbors, Deirdre and Thom, introduced a notion that I embraced. On a visit to their home, we observed Thom was vacuuming the floor. He explained that the handle of the vacuum didn’t fit Deirdres’ hand well, so he did the vacuuming. I like that idea.

Some have put this time to good use and dug into dark corners and purged their home. Six weeks into this I decided maybe I should too.

Last week I started in my favorite room, the quilt room.  Fabric was shuffled from here to there. I confronted scraps saved from previous projects. Still good, mind you, just little bits of pieces. My problem is I can see their potential.  I just know they would be good for something,

“No!” I must admit I’ll never use them and they’re in my way. The time to be ruthless is now.

Something else I’ve learned about myself. Don’t be thinking about my next project until the current one is done. I get enthused, start a new one while the other is in my way.

Now you know how to create a quilt mess.

It, and I, are a work in progress. I’m still in the quilt room, but I’ve learned something else. Releasing and letting go is liberating. I’m feeling free!

In the midst of a mess there is always something to be grateful for. I’m glad Jesus isn’t ruthless and hasn’t pitched me because I got in his way. Instead He kept me all these years knowing my potential. He has a unique plan just for me.

That’s why I’m still lurking about. My guess is that’s why you’re still here too. Pitch the unnecessary and make room for Jesus’ unique plan just for you. It’s way more fun than shuffling baggage around.

A Thought

20200419_165706                                                                                          © jb katke 

Before it’s too late, I’ve got this idea to bounce off you.

The news is talking about a gradual return to work. A cautious step must be taken because we are still in the midst of the Great Coronavirus Lockdown.

But my thought is this: What if we made a time capsule type of thing with how this experience impacted our lives? I don’t have a time capsule and you might not either. But we could probably find a shoe box or anything with a lid.

The obvious could be a job loss. Or maybe if you are in the medical field or shipping industry, you are working nonstop. Write it down!

Keep track of the changes your life has taken in recent weeks. Cooking three meals a day, finding grocery shelves empty. The frantic hunt for toilet paper.

What about the Zoom app? Did you learn how to get on it to stay in touch with family or friends? How about suddenly having to stay six feet apart from others?

Maybe it was visiting your elderly parent through a window because they were quarantined. Or worse yet, a family members death. Alone.

The birthdays that came and went with no celebration. Weddings and funerals continue to be on hold.

School that was closed ahead of schedule forcing parents to suddenly become teachers so their kids don’t fall academically behind. Not to mention the graduating seniors that had to do without a ceremony.

To one degree or another we all have been impacted. Tell how you had no income but somehow got by. Document it, otherwise the future generation may not believe it.

Sacrifices never come easy. Particularly when we had to celebrate the greatest sacrifice of all privately at home. I’m referring to Jesus’ death on the cross for all the stuff we have done wrong. He loved mankind enough to willfully die, knowing that a better life was in store for us.

So maybe when all this is behind us, our lives will be better. We’ve renewed the act of being neighborly and became sensitive to the needs of others. Businesses have stepped up to provide what the medical field was lacking.

This is America. This is love in action. This needs to be recorded, don’t you think?

Its Just Another Miracle

20200413_221021 © jb katke

You might think, ‘Here she goes again.’ Cue the eye roll. Or maybe ‘I’m so happy…for you.’

Today was like any ordinary day. My husband Dave and I had a few errands to run. I suppose you’re going to remind me COVID-19 is still lurking about and our lockdown continues.

We are doing our best to stay home, but life does go on. Besides we were wearing our masks.

Because of the mask that I had this incident. I lost one of my hearing aids. There is only so much room for things around my ears and I maxed out. My hair is thick, I wear glasses, and donning my mask took me over the top.

I never felt it go or heard it drop. Of course not, we were in a store among other shoppers.

When I finally did realize my loss, I retraced my steps. An employee was near the entrance, when I inquired if he might have seen it?

“No, but I can alert the people at Customer Service for you. “

Maybe it happened in the parking lot. Nope. Inside the car maybe? Nothing.

Thoughts of having to replace it brought me down. We can’t afford this. But I also knew Jesus was on this. Nothing gets by him.

Mentally I started thanking him for how he was going to provide. Either by unexpected funds coming our way or my finding it.

All the while Dave is conducting our shopping with some help from a store employee.

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Only finding my hearing aid I lost.”

“Oh, someone found a hearing aid and turned it in at Customer Service. I just heard it on my two way radio.”

Arriving at the front desk, I had to wait my turn to be helped.

I hadn’t even opened my mouth when the clerk asked, “Are you here for your hearing aid?”  I marveled at how he knew what I was there for. Then it dawned on me, I’m old. I look like some lady that would wear hearing aids. The truth hurts.

The reason I share this little saga is I want you to be aware of Jesus in a life. It pleases him to meet our needs. But we gotta acknowledge his presence.

Extraordinary things can happen in an ordinary life. I’m proof.

An Easter to Remember

20200411_190602                                                                                           © jb katke 

Considering we are still in lockdown because of the coronavirus, this year will be remembered.

We fondly look back at previous years, when new clothes were purchased to wear to church. Eggs were hardboiled and ready to dye. Festive baskets came out filled with chocolate and marshmallow bunnies. Some families hid the eggs for children to hunt down.

But this year? Our new outfit consists of a face mask. Churches are closed but providing services online for us to watch at home. No doubt many things will be traced back to ‘the year of the lockdown.’

I’m certain too, that in nine months or so we will witness another baby boom. The country will be ready for new life.

Spring time reeks new life. Our lawns come back from dormancy, the flower bulbs start to make their presence known. Gardeners are poring over their seed catalog, designing their new flower beds. After a long cold winter, the greenery of new life is always a welcome sight.

I heard a speaker recently. While gardening was not the subject matter but an analogy was used of a simple seed. We walked through the growth of a seed. When put in the ground, providing the seed has been properly nourished, will grow. But looks radically different. The seed breaks and dies in order to be transformed into a new and different life.

The message was timely. At Easter thoughts turn to Jesus. His life of helping and encouraging others is spoken of with admiration. We hear about a solid week of false accusations, imprisonment, mockery, an unjust court trial, and beating. All leading to his brutal death on a cross.

I’ve heard this story on many Easters. What I find astounding is he intentionally left heaven to make certain these events would take place. Why?

Because he also knew what would happen afterward.  Jesus didn’t stay on the cross. He didn’t even stay in his tomb. His earthly body was broken and dead. But he rose again to a new life.

He wants us to have that same opportunity.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by belieiving in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point his finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…                     John 3:16 The Message

Jesus returned to heaven to be at his dads’ side. Because of him you and I have the same opportunity. If we consider Jesus our friend,  we try to follow his direction on how to live. After he left, Jesus even sent a helper for mankind to make it easier for us.

In your remembering today, I hope you remember Jesus and what he did with us in mind.

That gives us reason to celebrate wherever we are, even in this pandemic crisis. Will this be the year your life is transformed to a new and better life?

Happy Resurrection day!

 

 

In The Meantime…

geo drake - Copy                                                                                              © geo. drake 

…we carry on.

The COVID-19 virus continues to be with us.

We are in week, I’ve lost count, of lock down.

And now the masks. Who would have ever thought the ensemble we put together to wear on Easter Sunday would be face masks? That is if we absolutely must leave the house. Otherwise stay put and attend church online wearing your PJ’s.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, more people are out walking. The dogs of the neighborhood have never been so physically fit.

All of us are thinking outside the box for sanity sake. I heard of one family that packed their children a lunch in individual baggies and hid them. If the kids wanted to eat, they had to search for their food. Sort of a bend on the Easter egg hunt.

I’ve become aware of many seamstresses now making masks, easing the demand and keeping the N95 masks in the medical field.

Neighbors continue to stay in touch with each other within the 6 foot guidelines of course.

Jigsaw puzzles are coming out. Non-techy people such as yours truly are learning how to get on Zoom to stay in touch with loved ones.

A new normal is beginning to take form. When this is said and done with, and it will, because scripture says this too, shall pass. It will be interesting to see how we do life after coronavirus.

Many have already learned what was once essential to living, no longer is. Are restaurants going to reposition tables a little further away from each other? Will we rush to theaters and sporting events to sit shoulder to shoulder with others? Only time will tell.

Hopefully we will carry on those good hygiene practices forced upon us now. America may have become too lax. Each of us has had our consciousness raised.

One thing is certain, we have a much better handle on who is really in control. At the risk of offending, not mankind.

Some have turned to Jesus in this crisis time. They want answers, explanations at why this was insidious virus allowed to enter our lives. We may get answers, but don’t count on it.

Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell Him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?                     Romans 11:36 The Message

Not me. The choices are to ditch him completely or trust him. Considering he made the world I’m thinking he knows what he is doing. I chose trust. Faith in him has made my life bearable.

In the meantime, I’m curious to know what you are doing to maintain sanity. Share please!

Coping With COVID19

20200329_143109 © jbkatke

The whole world seems to be hibernating.

That’s fine for us introverts but seems like torture to the extroverts. However, if you are able to wake up feeling good, count yourself among the blessed.

As they say, it could be worse. The duration is what has thrown so many into a tailspin. No one knows.

So in the meantime some of us have gotten mighty creative at keeping our sanity.

I’ve seen a few things, and heard of others.

I live in a close community where many neighbors enjoy interacting. So they bring their lawn chairs, meet in the driveway, chatting it up at a respectful distance.

Those on social media have been sharing on an hourly basis. Some teachers formed a parade of cars, driving through their students neighborhood, waving and shouting out greetings. What a caring way to let these kids know they are missed.

Another on Facebook spoke of trying out new recipes. Not I.

Someone else has dusted off the board games they used to play with the kids, and enjoying them all over again.

A grandma I know is missing her grandchildren big time. So they met together at the local ice cream shop, parking their cars next to each other and enjoying their treat together separately.

But I saved my favorite thing for last.

A young mom traced the hands of her children on paper and cut them out. She then measured a piece of string the length of the childs outstretched arms. She attached the string to the hands and gave them to the grandparents. That way grandma and grandpa can wrap themselves in a hug from the children whenever they need it!

This is priceless stuff. No doubt you have come up with some novel ideas too. I’d love for you to share them with us all.

Moses Encounter With God

See the source image

 I’ve taken this from Exodus 3 and felt it was too good to keep to myself. In light of the current world-wide Coronavirus crisis I’m hoping it means as much to you as it does for me. It might help to read it from the Bible first.

Verse 2 God appears suddenly-Sometimes where we least expect to see Him

Verses 3&4 He catches our attention-When our mind & body is always busy God will use whatever it takes to get us focused back on Him.

Verse 5 He is Holy-How we see God is crucial to our relationship together.

Verse 6 God has a history-We have heard of Him before and still speaks to those who listen.

Verse 7 God sees, hears & is aware –Sometimes we may wonder, but if scripture is truth then there is a reason for what is going on right now.

Verse 8 He rescues & leads-Acknowledge the good results of what we had no control over as his rescue.  He purposely uses the people in life for our benefit.

Verse 10 He sends-We may find ourselves in places or situations we would never have voluntarily gone.

Verse 11 Mankind reeks with insecurity-How do you see yourself?  Are you willing to help others in crisis times?

Verse 12 God is with you and knows the future-This gives us hope & a reason to continue on, if for no other reason than to see how God works things out.

Verse 14 God is who He has always been-It’s the same guy, the One who created life itself all the way to where we are today.

Verse 15 God is known through all the generations-You have heard of Him, it’s our responsibility to tell others about him.

Verse 16 He watches over you-As bad as things seem, they could always be worse.

Verse 17 God promises a better future-Take that as a fact from Someone who knows.

Verse 19 God is the Supreme Motivator-To comply with his will avoids him having to apply heavy pressure to reach us.

Verse 20 God strikes at the heart with His miracles-He can and will amaze you in ways you never imagined.

Verse 21 He will see to it that His will is done-With or without help from you and I.

Verse 22 God provides-He gives us what we need when we need it; in ways we would never thought of.

These recent days have brought the uncertainty of life home. Literally. Instead of panicing, lets join together and see how our future will unfold. Keep in mind, God is still on his throne.

 

 

 

Say What…?

20200315_155307 © jb katke

“I think the best thing is for you is to not go to church.”

My words. Never would my children, or even I, imagine me saying that.

My youngest was checking in on me. I have just gotten over the flu. A ‘normal’ flu that left me feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Several times. Naomi was still battling a cough that doesn’t want to quit.

I told her our church was taking a time out for two weeks, conducting services online only. She wished her church was doing that, hence my above statement.

What has come over me? For that matter, what has come over our country? Answer: Corona Virus. AKA COVID-19.

The pandemic has overtaken not just the world, but our senses. A couple days ago my husband and I did our grocery shopping. Some of the shelves were bare, reminding me of third world countries I have visited. The top selling product first to run out? Toilet paper.

As much as I hate to admit it, we were among the maddening crowd. It becomes a survival of the fittest mindset. Inconvenience is not widely accepted in this country.

Hunkering down is another new concept. Also not warmly received.

But as I have scanned through the Bible, I have seen this isn’t a new thing. Famines and plagues have been going on and off for centuries. Read this for a mind-boggler:

What has been, will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV

So it’s just us and an unfamiliar experience. Very much like waking up to the realization that I’m a senior citizen.

Opportunist that I am, it has been a life mission of mine to offer spiritual encouragement to anyone who will listen. Many life questions are addressed in a church setting. Good news can be heard there that generally is not broadcast outside the doors of Jesus’ house.

There is a fine line between encouraging and harping. No doubt I have crossed that invisible line on more than one occasion. It’s not that I know so much, I just know where to turn for answers. It takes time, patience, and an open heart that wants to know.

This week I attended church in my family room. It was a timely message. I’ll be there next week too, join me won’t you?

journeybible.org

The Haircut

20200301_160056                                                                                          © jb katke

“My God girl, who got ahold of your hair?”

Spoken by the hairdresser who was about to give me my first professional haircut. I was appreciative of her expertise concerning what to do with the mop on my head. But I could have done without the belch in my face.

I was a twelve year old, soon to enter my teen years and junior high school.

Finances dictated how our family lived and Mom knew every shortcut in the book of economizing. During my childhood, she cut my hair.

While I don’t recall any of that, I do remember hiding whenever she came at me with her comb. My hair was thick and full, combs hurt. Why didn’t we have a hairbrush in the house?

Thankfully, Aunt Jane was sensitive enough to realize the potential ridicule I would receive if someone didn’t intervene. She took me to her hairdresser. That became a regular practice until I was able to continue it on my own.

I marveled at having so much attention to the grooming process. Long strands of hair fell as I got snips here and clips there. The beautician put her face up to mine to get a precise measure of evenness at my ears. That’s when she chose to let loose with a healthy burp, compliments of her drink.

The Detroit area is known for more than just the automotive industry. We also take pride in Verners Ginger Ale and Sanders Hot Fudge topping too.

It was the Verners that did it. For being non-alcoholic, it still packs a punch.

Since the hairdresser brought up God, I’ll continue that thought. I’m grateful for mom teaching ways to save a few bucks. I’m especially grateful God put it in Aunt Janes heart (and purse) to rescue me from what could have been a devastating school experience. Kids can be cruel.

On one of our later visits I recall the weather getting stormy. The sky was an ominous shade of green. There I sat under one of those cone shaped hair dryers.

Thankfully we arrived home before the sky let loose. I shudder to think of what might have been. As always, God was on duty looking after my well-being.

 

Kitty Katke

Kitty © jb katke

Perfect. We can afford this.

Ours is a family of cat lovers. Visiting my mother-in-law gave us the golden opportunity of picking a kitten from a litter her cat had a while back. We enlisted our son Jamie to be the selection committee.

I wasn’t hot for the couple yellow/orange ones and hoped he would choose one of the others. Of course he did not.

“Are you sure you want that one Jamie?”

“Yep.”

Piquing my husbands’ curiosity, he asked, “How can you tell the difference between the two orange kittens?”

“I don’t know, I just like this one better.”

For sure we didn’t want a female. Mom’s husband insisted Jamie’s choice was a male. She wasn’t. Maybe that’s when things went sour.

On the four hour drive home, the kitten positioned herself on the back of the driver’s seat. She yowled her displeasure inches from my husband, Dave’s ear. Jamie and I took turns trying to comfort her but she would have none of that. Never had I ever heard such a small cat produce such loud cries.

It took us several weeks to come up with a name for her. But it was all for naught. We had called her kitty for so long, she wouldn’t respond to anything else.

We had intended Kitty to be an indoor/outdoor cat, but she had other ideas. She freaked each time the wind ruffled the grass. That might have been for the best. We discovered she had an extra claw that didn’t retract. If she got hung on something it could put her in danger.

Later on, we took her to the vet to be spayed. She was so upset she wouldn’t let the attendant bring her out to me, I had to go get her. If cats can suffer depression, Kitty did.

But Christmas day made everything better. Nothing brought her more joy than running through the giftwrap littering the floor and making it crinkle.

I couldn’t decide if Kitty had anger issues or if she took delight in tormenting people. When family visited, she would either race up the back of the couch scaring people or growl at them to feed her. My dad declared we needed a sign at the door warning others of the attack cat. She appeared to have the temperament of a Siamese.

Our daughter Cindy loved all creatures great and small. Sometimes she would hug Kitty too long or hard. The claws came out and thankfully Cindy’s eyes never were the recipient. We probably shouldn’t have kept her, but she had crept into all our hearts.

Kitty had a special friendship with Dave. As pets do, she would beg at the dinner table. If Dave took too long sharing, Kitty would gently pat his leg. If she didn’t get a treat, she would remind him of her presence with claws extended. When he was finished, Dave would wipe his hands together indicating that’s all. Only then would Kitty walk away.

For the most part Kitty enjoyed her position in our family, until she was dethroned by a puppy. Her nose was permanently out of joint. It was a grudge she held to her dying day.

Looking back on her life, I recognize Kitty had some human-like traits. She had days when she was up and others down. Like a child, she didn’t appreciate smother love. With the arrival of our puppy, Kitty felt a type of sibling rivalry. Unfortunately, she allowed someone else to ruin her life. When that happens beware, you may turn into…wait for it…a sourpuss.

 

Just One Word

20200215_162627

 

 

 

© jb katke

 

https://youtu.be/7lfaSmDxVZQ

How are you doing on your New Years resolution?

Long ago I abandoned making one because I was constantly disappointing myself. Why set myself up for failure?

A friend challenged me to take one word and look around scripture and see what it had to say about it.

“One word to work on is a lot easier than overhauling all your habits at once,” claimed Marnie. But focusing on a word took some time. Looking at where my life was at helped.

We were empty nesters contemplating moving to a smaller home. My problem was I come from a family of savers. Not hoarders by any means, but stuff that piles up through the years can become burdensome. I was next in line of acquisition.

This challenge of just one word had potential of lifestyle change. Mentally I thought of “Submit,” but that has a marital connotation. Then I considered “Surrender,” but that sounded like giving up. ”I settled on “Relinquish” because that was a positive willful action.

Memories can be wonderful but we were in a constant state of shuffling things out of our way. The kids didn’t have the space and/or desire to take them either. That worried me and I confess it was hard.

My family saved so many things for future use that I was getting rid of. Would I be sorry later? As if that were my only concern. Tears were shed.

What if I were to lose my sight, how could I quilt? One lady does to my knowledge. Or how could I write as God has impressed me to do? This business of handing willful relinquishment over to someone that has power to take things away is frightening!

But here is what I found.  Poking around the Bible was surprising:

John 16:33 said this world will have trouble, but not to worry. God has already conquered it.

I Peter 5:7 told me to dump my cares on God because he cares.

Genesis 2:15 tells me we are to maintain things and keep order in our tasks.

Matthew 6:25 indicates I shouldn’t fuss over things, God provides what we need when we need it.

II Corinthians 12:9 speaks of Gods grace being enough and shows best through our weaknesses.

Amazing century old words that I can put to use in my life today. Who would have thunk it? Another thing for me to keep in mind, when I move on to eternity, I ain’t takin’ this stuff with me. I’m telling you, burdens lifted gives a mighty light and free feeling.

Park Benches of America

benches-31642-32377-hd-wallpapers

We were in for a fun time. Well my mother-in-law and I anyway. Maybe not so for my husband Dave. But he’s a good man.

Our destination was central Missouri, specifically a quilt shop. Mom, we were close enough that I considered her my mom too, were both fabriholics. Dave would always enter the shop with me to size it up as to how long I might be. A big shop=a long time, small shop=only a short time.

Before he exited, he always said the same thing, “Take as long as you like, there is a park bench outside calling my name. I’m conducting a study on the park benches of America. I’m thinking of writing a book that I know husbands would appreciate. I’ll include the GPS stats of where the best ones are located.”

Inside, Mom and I were finishing up our purchase when the alarm went off at the fire station across the street. It was deafening and encouraged us to stay in the store a little longer.

As we chatted with the shopkeeper we learned the fire department was made up of volunteers. The alarm raged on for what felt like hours instead of minutes. Dave, being the trooper that he is, remained manning the bench getting a front row seat to the action.

A pick-up roared up from out of nowhere parking at the fire station. The driver leaped out running inside the station. The garage doors flew up revealing the red engine ready to go. But it stayed there.

Soon after, a second pick-up rumbled to the scene and thundered to a stop… The first arrival stuck his head out of the window of the fire truck, “Have you got the keys?”

Apparently he did. The shrieking alarm was turned off which made the silence as deafening as the alarm had been. The fire truck came to life and lumbered off to the emergency. We were relieved to know this small town had same day service.

To date, my dearly beloved hasn’t written a single word of his book. Such a shame as so many men would find it a valuable resource.

Remembering Grandma

20200209_154330“A stainless steel colander? Don’t you think that’s asking too much?

So said Grandma Andrews. She had a way of letting me know how she felt.

Our conversation revolved around the requests in my bridal registry shortly after my engagement. For starters, JL Hudson was the only store that offered a registry for soon-to-be couples. Secondly, it was a high end department store. They didn’t sell junk.                                        © jb katke

My husbands’ grandmother claimed I didn’t ask enough on my registry. Some grandmas you just can’t please.

This time every year I think of my grandma. Her birthday was on Valentine’s Day. I think of her whenever I use my colander too.

Grandma Andrews was a practical lady. She lived through the Depression and knew how to make do. She had a plastic colander from the early days of plastic. Hers got a little too close to the heat from the stove and bore a melted souvenir from the experience. But it still worked.

Her home was always meticulous. She even washed her walls. I recall she had a coal furnace when I was very little, and over the long Michigan winters it would leave a residue on the walls. Hence, spring cleaning.

After I was married she asked me, “Do you get on your hands and knees when washing the floor?”

“No Grandma I don’t.”

I considered myself more modern than that. There are mops that make that unnecessary. But I learned getting down on hands and knees does a better job. Likewise when I clean the woodwork. Grandma would be proud. However I do wait to make the effort worthwhile.

I wish I had gotten to know grandma better, I think I could have learned much from her. She wasn’t the talkative sort and I never questioned her past. Too bad for me. You can understand why people are the way they are if you have a sense of what they experienced.

I do know she loved baseball. And she had what I call a British sense of humor. During the Christmas season a popular song, Jingle Bells, came out sung by a clucking chicken. Grandma said it was a fowl song. Her favorite was The Little Drummer Boy.

All this is a distant memory now, my colander is going on fifty years old.  Grandma would probably flip if she knew my kitchen now sports a second smaller colander. Yep, it’s stainless steel too.

Keynote Speaker

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“Do any of you ladies have an open morning to chat with a few college girls?”

Our missionary sponsor had entered the Belarussian hotel lobby where we were basking in the warm sun shining through the window. We were part of a group of business people attending a Business Conference in Belarus, the former USSR.

I volunteered and Boris, a national, was escorting me to the college.  “How is this person we are to meet going to know us,” I asked. It seemed a legitimate concern as neither of us knew this individual.

Had I given it a moment’s thought would have realized I looked very American.

Upon arrival I was hustled into the Dean’s office. “What is it you intend to speak on?” Speak on? I just came to for a short visit with your students. She seemed to approve of my explanation that my husband and I have a small home business and would be sharing how that came about.

I was lead into the front of the classroom and offered a cup of tea I never had time to drink. I should have noticed the podium a few feet from me.

Eager young women were pouring into the room until eventually it was standing room only. I could feel excitement in the air.

The light dawned. Suddenly ‘the visit’ began with an introduction of their guest speaker and invited me up. Oh no, my speaking notes are back at the hotel!

Taking a deep breath, I dove in. Giving a brief history of our business. A venture that grew with time. Immediately a hand shot up from one of the instructors, “Is this going to take very long?”

My warm welcome plummeted. Except for the girls, they seemed to soak up every word I spoke. I mentioned that we hadn’t planned on becoming a business. But the skills of my husband were passed on by word of mouth as one construction opportunity led to another. The business evolved and God was blessing us.

The students listened intently because back in 2005 self-employed businesses were unheard of in this third world country. They wanted to know more, about our home, family and about my quilting hobby. They were enthralled by the pictures I showed them.

To my amazement I recalled everything my notes had and was able to give these young women a vision of life in America.

We came to offer encouragement and hope to a people that have limited opportunities. We came home with a deeper appreciation for what God has done in our life, the country we call home, and the freedom we take for granted.

I highly recommend traveling to another country, not the vacation areas, but where the people live. I guarantee it will be an eye-opening experience.

A Day of Celebration

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Have you ever accomplished something out of your realm? It gives you that Wow feeling of celebrating.  Happy anniversary to me.

I’m sharing with you the biggest balloon I could find. (This big boy landed in my front yard)

My blog posts are one year old this month. For a person that had no desire to blog, and isn’t fond of computers, this is remarkable.  Just for the record it wasn’t my idea.

Have you been following me? If you haven’t read my Intro , let me explain with a little background. For years I have been learning to love Jesus. I’ve been reading his book, it’s been on the best seller list for almost ever.

But it’s a process that takes some time. At least it did for me. There comes a point in what do you do with this stuff you’ve learned? It was suggested I tell others about it.

Don’t be thinking I’m gonna give you this big ole sermon. Instead, let me paint a few word pictures for you. Some of these scenarios may not take too much imagination.

Imagine your car breaking down on the highway in the middle of nowhere. A tow truck comes along and the driver says, “I know who could fix your car, but I’m not helping you get there.”

Perhaps your basement has flooded. A cleaning service comes to access the situation but tells you, “This place is a mess, but there is nothing I can do about it.”

Or your doctor’s diagnosis is cancer, but refuses you treatment.

You get the idea. Frustration, helplessness and anger can be the recipe for stress levels and blood pressure to skyrocket.

That is why someone broaches the name of Jesus to you. I’m your gal to do that. He works in ways that can astound you.  A friendship with this guy can make such a difference in life.

So I blog to tell you how Jesus has been involved in my life. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it hurts big time. But bottom line, I know he is aware of my situation. It’s a mystery how he always works things out, but it’s always good. It can take time, but it gives me the opportunity to trust.

Stuff will still happen. There have been occasions that I got put out with circumstances that aren’t going my way. But then I remember Jesus’ dad isn’t Santa Claus. He’s God. Usually my heart hasn’t been in the right place, so he waits for me to catch up to his perfect plan.

He wasn’t dragging his heels, I was. Eventually I come around and I hope you do too. If my words mean something to you, I invite you to follow me on this journey.

Better yet, invite Jesus into your life, I promise it will be a ride!

Those 9-9 Girls

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Looking in my daughter’s eyes, I could feel her heart sink. She supposed her teacher and I would be rehashing the good old days. That was not to be.

We were at her junior high open house. Lo and behold, she had the same Home Economics teacher I had so many years ago. As I re-introduced myself, Mrs. Tada rolled her eyes. “Oh, those 9-9 girls.”

Turning to Cindy, she explained, “That was my first year teaching.” I could hear what she didn’t say. I never want to relive that year.                                                                                                                                                                                               © JB Katke

 

When I was in school, back in the dark ages, students met in homeroom. It was there that we listened to announcements over the PA, attendance was taken, then dispersed to our various classes. We were numbered by grade and group, hence my 9-9 status.

My Home Ec class was a little on the rowdy side. Not me of course, I considered my sewing class as recess. It was the only subject I excelled in. But poor Mrs. Tada had trouble keeping order in the classroom.

My friend Belinda got into a heated disagreement with one of our tablemates. Belinda picked up a seam ripper and as if shooting a dart, took aim at the girls face. I freaked out, fearing the girl was about to lose an eye. Thankfully nothing happened.

Cindy feared comparison with the sewing skills of her mother. Instead she learned Mom was young once and part of a class filled with immaturity. My school days were challenging too. .

Home Ec didn’t ‘click’ with either of my girls. But that’s okay. Both of them has excelled in areas I could never have imagined. I think it’s interesting how they have grown up in the same home, with the same parents, but blossomed individually. My children make me proud.

At birth, each of us are given differing gifts and talents. Sometimes it just takes a long time to realize them, like myself. I’m finding life is a giant learning process.

Barry and Sharon

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Disclaimer: The pictured gun was not the weapon used in this story. Additionally, names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sharon didn’t wake up until she sat bolt upright in bed.

“Barry! Are you alright?”

The stillness of night returned.

It couldn’t have been a dream, the shot was too real. “Barry, answer me, are you okay?”

All was quiet. As she sat pondering what to do, a second shot rang out.

Never again would Sharon hear her brother’s voice. Or her father’s.

The reality was Sharon and Barry lived a nightmare life. Their dad was mentally unstable. The siblings learned at an early age to look after each other.

Their paternal grandparents were well-known and influential in the community. The stigma of their son in a mental institution would have been more than they could bear.

Instead they live with this.

It was the Viet Nam era and Barry was in his senior year of high school. His dad was under doctor’s care and doing quite well. But as father’s do, got thinking…

Soon Barry would be eligible for the draft. The thought of his son going to war was too much for this dad to handle. There was only one way he could see to spare him of that horror.

Now reality set in. What he did was reprehensible and the remaining family will suffer from his action.

The next morning I learned what had taken place down the street. There are no words for that kind of pain and loss. At the funeral I merely held Sharon’s hand. The following year Sharon and I graduated high school and we lost contact with each other.

After all these years, I still pray for the family. I’ve heard there is a reason for everything. Maybe that is why we have established interventions now? Perhaps our world needed a wake-up call to learn better treatments for mental illness.

Or should we just depend upon God for all the things that we don’t understand, because he does?

Humble Pie

20191227_110826© JB Katke

A lady I know will go on and on about apples. In her opinion McIntosh are the only apples worth eating. I can’t believe how opinionated she is. As if she were some kind of apple expert or something.

Do you know anyone like that? Who cares about her opinion anyway? The best one can do, is smile, let them vent, then walk away. Don’t bother trying discuss the pros or cons, she has a deaf ear.

This year though, she experienced a comeuppance. It was hilarious, I wish you could have been there. It was Christmas day and this lady was in full-blown praise of her precious apple pie. “The only apple pie I’ll eat is my own.”

Her son-in-law made note to never bake her an apple pie because she wouldn’t eat it.

As she is slicing her pie to serve, she notices it’s really juicy. “Darn, I wonder why? That’s never happened before.”

Okay, it’s me.

I have my reasons for being so apple biased. What many people look upon as desirable apples to bake with I find lacking. Other apples hold their shape and don’t cook down. I like cooked down.

McIntosh apples could easily be on a grocers list of unwanted produce because they are fragile and bruise easily. That makes them hard to find. So when I found a local grocer that carried them, I praised the managers in charge. It was important to me that they keep on coming while in season.

Too late, I realize why this pie bombed. My pie plates are deep dish. Normally one would think that’s a good thing because it holds more filling. And fill it I did.

Because McIntosh are soft and moist, made for a very juicy product. Humble pie. Note to self: Don’t use so many apples.

Isn’t that typical in life though? We think if a little does a little good, a lot will do a lot of good? Or bigger is always better, right? Wrong on both counts.

Good golly, now I must exercise food discipline in the kitchen as well as at the table. Life sure can get complicated. But if I’m not mindful the outcome may be undesirable, like being overweight or juicy.

I bet that’s why the good Lord gave us a conscience. The mind and heart are not always in agreement, best to let a wise conscience prevail.

Is There a Good Mad?

 

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The question is can I hold the mad…for a year?

The house is officially dedecked from Christmas. Except for the few items that got overlooked in the packing.  Unintentional tradition reigns.

What I don’t understand is why I had so much trouble packing things away. I had bought nothing extra, but somehow couldn’t get things packed back into the box they came from. What’s with that?

Each year I enjoy hauling the décor out that I haven’t seen in a year. It’s fun to transition the house to be festive. Memories are relived. The ornaments family members have made, the ones grandpa used to painstakingly place over lights so they would spin.

Packing the stuff away again finds me in the no fun zone. The box I thought I had for my nutcracker was missing. I like for him to be protected in storage. This year my little guy is going to fend for himself to stay presentable for next year.

I had boxes and bins everywhere and nothing seemed to fit in them. Frustration led me to anger. This should not be happening. My husband wisely kept his distance from me until it was time to stow the goods away.

“Look, they fit in the space just fine.”

That is not the point. I’m supposed to be getting rid of stuff.

“How come it’s taking more boxes than ever to get them put away?”

I’m furious. Next year I must be ruthless. Somehow ruthless doesn’t blend with a season of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

Some people can hold onto a good mad for a lifetime. I can’t recommend that, it’s wearing a perpetual chip on your shoulder that permeates everything and everyone around you. That is a real no fun zone.

Instead I aim to learn from this experience, like decorating with large objects. It’s too easy to overlook small things hanging here and there around the house. I’m not going to ask why God brought all this stuff under my roof either. He didn’t, he just allowed it.

That puts the ball back in my court to graciously let go of stuff that adds nothing but stress. I prefer my life not have room for anger, but to be filled with Jesus’ positive energy. With his help I can do this

Happy New Year!

 

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© of JB Katke

 

The New Year is upon us…ready or not

.As a rule I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  Why set myself up for disappointment? Unless it’s reasonable. Like promising myself I absolutely will not eat artichoke heart or sushi. That I can pull off. It isn’t my intent to hurt anyone’s feelings if you like them. It’s just far be it from me to take your pleasure away.

I’m hoping this year will be different though. Recently my doctor has been casually mentioning some weight loss for me. Easy to say, hard to do. For me anyway. You may know the verse that says little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice? I am here to tell you years of that stuff turns into Velcro that adheres to waist and hips. I am living proof.

But it’s not just weight I’d like to change. There is exercise (that should actually be a four letter word). Stressing my body is not pleasurable. Some people like it which boggles my mind. Just thinking about it wears me out.

Writing too. Does that surprise you? While I have never been at a loss for words, writing doesn’t come naturally to me. Its work. Blogging exposes me and that’s not comfortable. I’m an introvert. Likewise being with a group of people wears me out as well. My husband doesn’t agree, just because I’m able to carry on a conversation.

All that being said, here’s what I’m hoping for in 2020. I’d like to see Jesus better. I’m well aware he is with me all the time. He knows what is going on in my life. But I feel a little like our relationship is lopsided. He blesses me, but do I give him enough credit?

Here’s my plan, and I expect you to hold me accountable. I feel the need to be quiet as I meditate on his presence more often. It takes time and discipline. But he has made himself known to me on several occasions and it was an amazing experience. I want more of that.

Seeing more clearly in 2020 is wordplay I know, but this might be well worth the effort.

Stolen Christmases

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Today I’m burying the Grinch. May he never rear his ugly head again.

He has stolen too many of my Christmases and I’ve had enough.

I’m not speaking of the beloved Grinch we love to hate each Christmas season. I’m speaking of my own personal demon Grinch. Like the famous Grinch, mine is green too, I suspect envy.

Dr Seuss wrote the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and I am amazed how much the two Grinches have in common. My Grinch also hates Christmas, doing everything he can to make mine miserable. But it doesn’t end there. Like the Grinch in the book, he can’t tolerate happiness of any sort, only my Grinch has no heart at all.

Each miserable Christmas I would come to realize my poor attitude and feel shame. Too late I would reach the point of what Christmas is truly about.

The sad fact is I gave my Grinch permission to be a demon in my life. It was so unnecessary. For no reason I allowed this Grinch to ruin my disposition. Our home wore the décor, but it was a façade. My heart wasn’t there.

The holiday season can be painful if a beloved family member has died, but that wasn’t my case. I don’t have the fear of a family member in the military serving overseas in a dangerous country.

I believe my situation is shared by many. The season of celebration isn’t what it used to be. Through the years our family has spread across the country and now reside far from each other. Through no fault of our own, life just takes us places. Now there is no one to ‘do’ for.

Our children are no longer children. All of them are living responsible adult lives as they were taught. I’m proud of them. Even the grandchildren are adults, more pride added. We have been promoted to great-grandparenthood, but again, distance comes between us…I’m not alone. There are others.

It’s inexcusable to be distraught over not having to fight the maddening crowds Christmas shopping. We no longer exchange gifts, so are spared the concerns. Would she like this, or does he need that? I confess it’s hard not to buy for those I love. Likewise I shouldn’t miss baking Christmas cookies. We don’t need all the calories.

The time for a wake up call is now. Are we not celebrating the birth of our Savior? He’s the ideal gift. He’s needed, one size fits all, plus he doesn’t require wrapping. No shipping costs either. Didn’t he come to take away all the hurt this world dishes out?                        A gift doesn’t get more perfect than that.

This year I’m looking forward, not back. I can recall past Christmases with fond memories as long as I return my gaze to what Jesus will be doing in the future. Both in my own life and those around me. I’m convinced that is why God placed eyes on the front of our head, not the back.

Merry Christmas!

Too Many Toys

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My husband had enough.

Begging was wasted breath. Rewards meant nothing. Bribery didn’t work, and neither did grounding. Grounding I learned, is never a good idea. It punishes the stay-at-home parent. AKA me.

Clearly our children’s concept of a clean room differed from ours. They threw things in the closet and stowed as much as possible under the bed. Leftovers were designated to line the walls. On the plus side, we never worried about a bed collapsing. Their ‘cleaning’ took all day. As buried treasures surfaced, they played.

I’m not sure if it was frustration or tired of hearing my ranting. But desperate times called for desperate measures in getting the kids to pick up their toys. Out came the leaf rake.

At the end of the day, so-called cleaning done, their dad raked what was left into the middle of the floor. It was deposited into a box. If the kids wanted them back it was going to cost them. Prices ranged from a penny to a nickel.

Who Is Learning A Lesson Here?

Eventually there were no more purchases. What’s with that? They didn’t care whether they got the rest back or not. The excess toys were unnecessary. By all appearances we all had something to learn.

Good Intentions Are Not Always Good

When Christmas or a birthday rolled around, we went overboard in gifts. The Grandparents hearts held more than their wallets, unable to give as much as they wanted. They lavished love for our children. It’s what money can’t buy, doesn’t need wrapping and takes up no space.

All we wanted to do was give our children good memories. Too many gifts multiplied by three children gave new meaning to a well-rounded Christmas tree. We have learned.

That’s the problem with parenting. By the time we learn how to do it right, the children are grown and the damage is done. We’ll do better with the grandchildren, we’ve got this.

Wait a minute, grandparent play by a different rule book, don’t they?

Tradition

“’What is your favorite Christmas tradition?” 20191208_154746

It was an icebreaker question for my tablemates at Bible study.  First off, getting-to-know you questions are dumb. We are women, nurturers at heart, compatible beings, user-friendly and capable of carrying on a conversation.  With or without cause. We have words and know how to use them.

Secondly, I don’t have a favorite Christmas tradition.  My mom did. When you got any clothes for Christmas, you couldn’t wear them until after the New Year. Where she came up with this I don’t know.

After I got married, this went out the window.  With gusto.

As far as Christmas shopping is concerned,  my husband is not prone to buy clothes.  Many Christmases ago, as I shopped for others, I kept seeing things I’d like for myself.

When my husband returned home from work I told him, “You have some clothes on hold at the store.  Pick through them and surprise me for Christmas.”

He did.  I got them all-and amazingly they all were the right size.  Not all husbands can do that.

When I was a child, Aunt Jane had the tradition of hiding a really large gift for me behind the chair.  I caught on quickly. Christmas Eve always found me peeking at it.

Apparently I did have one tradition albeit unintentional.  It seems every Thanksgiving for too many years I clogged the garbage disposal with potato peels.

“Mom, again? You do this every year.”

“I do?”

“Yes, it happened last year too. Don’t you remember?”

“Um, no. That was last year.”

But I’ve learned.  Now I make instant potatoes. Problem solved.

Grandma Andrews had the tradition of baking fruitcakes for everyone in the family.  I grew up with them, but my little family didn’t share the love. It was mine, all mine.

Grandma died, but Aunt Jane carried on her tradition. It wasn’t until my aunt passed away that I had access to their recipe collection.   I was shocked that neither of them followed the recipe. Both these women were sticklers for doing things by the book. While I haven’t made a fruitcake yet, if I did, I’d modify it too. It’s what I do. Then wonder why it didn’t turn out good.

One would think I would learn from my mistakes, especially in the cooking department. But why change a perfectly good tradition?

Salvation Army

SA Bucket

Many a Christmas season I refused to donate to the Salvation Army cause. But my heart had been touched as I gave it more thought. Both physical and spiritual help is offered year round to the less fortunate.

“Oh no, I didn’t mean to do that!”

I came unglued. What was I going to do now?

About to enter the grocery store, I scooped up all the loose change in my purse and deposited it into the red Salvation Army bucket. I watched helplessly as the coins fell in, along with my husband’s wedding ring.

A couple volunteers stood at the post ringing their bell.

The man spoke up. “That was really generous of you.”

“No it’s not, I’m not generous at all.”

I learned the couple belonged to each other, but neither of them had the key that belonged to the bucket. Sensing my anguish, the man pulled out his cell phone placing a call to his supervisor. There was nothing he could do to help me either.

The husband handed me his business card, in case I should need him. He was a lawyer.

I wagged my finger at him. “You better be honest, because I have your number now.” I can’t believe I said that. Clearly I must stop watching so much TV.

I was cold and in a hurry.

I had just left my husband’s bedside. He was still hospitalized recovering from his fourth back surgery. The wedding band was put in my change purse for safe keeping. Yeah, right.

Eventually I was given a phone number I could call to retrieve the ring. The office of the Salvation Army was alerted to my error and were on the lookout for it. I was told it was found and waiting for me to pick it up.

It was one for the memory books.

That was several years ago, but it still brings up a vivid holiday memory. Today, I smile at it, not so at the time.

The following year, I again deposited some change in the red bucket. “You’re not getting any wedding rings this year.”

The young man’s bell stopped mid ring,  “That was you?”

A change of heart

The Salvation Army folk are a good group of people that make a positive difference in lives. Who couldn’t use a little encouragement now and then?

The Blue Season

 

 

We are fast approaching the blue season.

No one wants to be identified with what the world calls it. Depression. Down time or a case of the blahs doesn’t sound so bad. But it feels awful. I know.

We all have some form of heartache.

Too many of us have lost loved ones this time of year and the absence screams at you.

Why should this time of year be more painful than losing a loved one any other time?

In my case, it’s those Norman Rockwell scenes that appear. The pictures that depict what our family gathering will not be. The memories of what used to be

The holidays can look as bleak as this festive but hollow turkey.

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© of JB Katke

It’s all where you place the syllable.

My dear departed mother used to tell me about putting the emphasis on the other       syl-i-able. She meant for me to look on my situation differently.  The good Lord gives us enough opportunities to do just that, because nothing stays the same.

Not all change is bad…so I am told.

A few years back I inadvertently found the secret to overcoming the blues. It’s about taking my eyes off self and really seeing others.

A family from Great Britain were renting the house across the street. Being in the US meant back home there were going to be some empty seats at the table. We had some empty seats of our own and invited them over for Christmas dinner. It was a memorable evening for all of us.

The reality is not all Facebook lives are necessarily as they are portrayed.

Perspective changes, when you suddenly realize how much you have to offer and be grateful for.

Note to self

Joy comes when you lighten the load of a heavy heart.

Black Friday

Black Friday is by far the biggest shopping day of the year. Daily, ads came pouring into my mailbox alerting me of sales I must not let pass. One in particular caught my eye, that I had every intention of taking advantage of.  Only it would have to be my deep, dark secret from the world.

20191112_080527© of JB Katke

A roll of quilt batting, normally costing $300.00 was discounted down to $99.00. A roll can make at least twenty-five quilts depending on their size. Ideal for the little quilt ministry I had.

Generally this store frustrates me enough to avoid shopping there, but I was willing to make this one exception. The doors opened at 8am and I was there early. Several other people were ahead of me. Time enough to strike up conversations.

Shopper #1 turning to the lady behind her. “What brings you here so early?”

Shopper #2: “I came to get that roll of quilt batting for only $99.00.”

Shopper #3: “I did too!”

Shopper #4: “So did I.”

On down the line it went.

Yet another piped up, “I’ve come all the way from Lawrence. I called the store to make sure they were stocked before I made the hour long drive to get here. They have twelve rolls.”

I counted down the line of shoppers. I was #15. This was not looking good. My heart began to sink. My hands began to sweat as the doors opened.

A mad rush whooshed inside. A display by the door held four rolls. They were scooped up instantly. Others charged down the aisle to the batting department to claim the rest. I was at the tail end of the crowd, and knew there was no hope for me.

A sales person called out, “Here are two more by the register.”

Shopper #14 and I grabbed them. Come to find out, there were only six rolls, not twelve. By 8:01am they were sold out.

My heart flew higher than a kite.

Who knew one could be euphoric without drugs?

But now my dilemma. I couldn’t tell anyone what God had done for me.

I don’t know the origin, but the saying, ‘A fool and his money are soon parted,’ stuck in my mind.

We were low on cash. In the eyes of others, this could look like a foolish expense.

Maybe the foolishness is worrying about what other people think.

My husband had no issue with my purchase, but the guilt was eating me alive. I could take it no longer and told to my missionary friend. Instead of criticism, she agreed that was a super deal.

Confession is good for the soul.

I realize the importaqnce of telling others what God does in your life and what he means to you. Letting people know what a positive difference he can make in their life isn’t a bad idea either. How else will they know his awesomeness?

Genuine Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To me, that is a picture of sacrificial love. Unexpected, but appreciated annually.

My Plastic Career

The auditorium was full of ambitious women in a selling mood.  My endeavor was to become a representative for home sales in a plastics company. My manager and I took a seat in one of the rows of folding chairs in preparation for the presentation.  Nothing could have prepared me.

The meeting started off with the introduction of a new product line. Demonstrations took place on how to convince my hostess and her friends that the new item was essential to their kitchen.  

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“To the homemaker, storage and organization is key.  Remember to encourage the guests to invite you into their home.  Don’t listen to the first three ‘No’s.’ That’s how we stay in business girls, by continuous demonstrations.”

This reminded me of my high school pep rallies.

Then came a testimonial.  A manager stood before us heralding one of her newest recruits.

“Her husband is currently in the hospital and she has three children under five years of age. Her car broke down last week but still Veronica made it to her hostess’ home keeping her commitment.”  One could almost hear the violin playing.  Yes, I’m being sarcastic and I’m sorry. I find it distasteful to put a person on a pedestal.

No doubt my face reflected that deer in the headlights expression.  This was more than information overload. This was sell, sell, and sell.

Trying to take in all this pomp and circumstance was over the top.  My thoughts turned to Christians that have this same drive for sharing their love for Jesus.  This was a turning point in my life.  Passing on hope to someone for their benefit, not for my profit, deeply impacts me.

At one of my own demonstrations a guest challenged whether a container was water proof. Oh no, onfrontation!  I held my breath as we put a camera into the container; trying to submerge it in a sink full of water.  Thankfully it floated, but that was more stress than I needed.

Mine was a short-term business venture.  We took that experience as a business loss at income tax time.  I prefer not to force myself on others. Even the husband of my manager gave encouragement, but not in the sales realm. She didn’t care what he did as long as he didn’t bother her.

This was not for me. But it did a world of good for my spiritual growth.

It Just So Happens…

Who would have considered a trip to the grocery store as a divine encounter?

My purchases were made and I was in the process of loading them in the car. Likewise for the shopper parked next to me. I was oblivious of her until she spoke.

“Why is my car moving?”

 First she panicked, then leapt into action to stop the car. The young mother had put her daughter into the back of their SUV, then proceeded to load her groceries.  Apparently her little one clamored about the car, hitting the gear shift that set the car in motion.

The Memory Came Flooding In

thVE2CGGDEIt took me back to Clyde Smith, a local produce market that is now defunct. In its heyday, it was a thriving business, set far off the road with a huge parking lot in front. I let my toddler in the back hatch of our Chevrolet Vega and proceeded to load my purchases.

Just as I slammed the hatch down I became aware of the car moving in reverse. The keys were in my hand but I couldn’t side step fast enough to get them in the lock to open the door.

My daughter had climbed into the back seat, her eyes wide, as I watched her through the window passing by. The car getting ever nearer the heavily traveled main street.

I was screaming for help, but no one could hear me. Having to think fast, I darted behind the car and let it bump into me, not thinking of the dangerous consequences.  Eventually it stopped.

But here is the main thing. From where I was parked, the car came to a halt about fifty feet from the road.

No other cars were parked behind me that could have been in the path of mine.

Now is that a God thing, or what?

Back to the Present

Because of my experience, I was able to share with this mom how God had made himself known to me.

The Point is

In thinking back,  I hope she sees God in her experience as well, because he was most assuredly there.

Then She’s Gone

Do you know what your purpose in life is?

For the longest time I didn’t give it a thought. Not even wondering if there was a reason for my existence. Today I have a better grasp on it. But I find it changes with time.

Or maybe it’s just me changing, realizing there is more involved to living than just existing.

I’ve mentioned my cousin Diane in a previous post. We spent a lifetime separated. Not deliberately. The circumstances of our lives were worlds apart.

During those separated years, Diane made the family she never knew as a child.

“I made a good life. I have wonderful children and we are happy.”

Diane & Julie

Except she always wondered.

Through all those sixty plus years, she never stopped thinking of me or my brother. We did share the same grandmother, after all. We had that much in common.

Doing volunteer work in the library gave Diane access to a computer. My guess is that is where she conducted her search. Obviously my brother and I were found.

What I hadn’t realized when I met Diane, was this completed her life. Finally. She had extended family of which she also belonged. That brought her satisfaction and closure.

That dreaded C word

Soon after I learned she had cancer. This was not her first go round with it. Mentally she was prepared that this would take her. And that was okay. With her, but not me. To my way of thinking, we were just getting started.

We agreed about life after death. Only she was at peace with wherever she went. I hadn’t known her long enough to share her peace. Because I wanted her with our Creator. Life is better knowing he is by our side at all times. Whether we are on planet earth or face to face.

Lessons Learned

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Family has handed me a fistful of mysteries. Grandma’s anger at her sister-in-law went unexplained.

Curiosity made me wonder why Aunt Jane refused marriage proposals from three men. In time she became comfortable with her singleness. How did she know marriage would be a mistake for her?

Learning has no age barrier, the longer I live the more I learn. Soon I expect to know everything.

Too Late Now

A neighber insisted her children spend equal time between the TV and reading. Likewise, learning a musical instrument to listening to the latest rock songs. Why didn’t I think of that in my child-raising years?

I wish I had seized the opportunity to teach my granddaughters to sew when they lived nearby. Regardless of my busyness, I realized too late that children don’t stay little.

How Can This Be?

Is this (practically) an instant replay? I was dragged into grandparenthood before my time. Now great-grandparenthood too. How can this be? My daughter a grandmother at thirty-eight years of age. Is she old enough to qualify for this? Doesn’t anyone get married and have children after the wedding?

I have made too many blunders to point fingers at anyone. 

My Circle

My circle of family and friends have taught me much, but I am a slow learner. Patience was won by raising forgetful, rebellious, talkative children. The bloodline has become my launching pad. Kin has been a priceless experience bringing me where I am today.

Tolerance came when I realized others with a different background than my own; their words and actions made sense…if only to themselves.

I’ve found forgiveness is best learned on the receiving end. Then pay it forward to another undeserving soul.

God is patient with me. Past events have shown I’m no longer the person I used to be. That’s a good thing,

Friendships can move on, but family should never be cast away. There is too much to be learned from them. I wonder what my family has learned from me.

I may not want to know.

Many Octobers Ago

Fifty two Octobers ago I met my husband. It was a high school field trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. In the automotive section, some of the students climbed over the barriers to clamor about in the antique cars. Security was on us in no time.

Henry Ford Museum

“Ok, that’s it. You were warned. Consider your tour over, exit immediately.”

We were shoved out a side door into a cramped courtyard. Some guy and I were shoved through the door, his broad shoulders crushing me.

Getting To Know You

We struck up a conversation. Both of us bummed at leaving such a neat place. A date came soon after, that grew into going steady. I can’t recall what we talked about, but spent hours on the phone with each other.

Often I stayed after school as he worked on a drafting assignment. I learned he couldn’t doodle without a straight edge. In turn, he learned I considered my sewing class as recess to play.

During football season, we attended every game. Completely ignoring it, as we were wrapped up in each other. Grandma called it puppy love.

A Questionable Proposal

Our recollections of his proposal don’t agree. I say we were on the phone, he says in the car. I just hope it’s acceptable, now that our children are grown, with their own kids. Us being great grandparents is no time to learn it wasn’t legit.

Take note though, the proposal came after his purchasing a radial arm saw. That should have waved a red flag, had I not had stars in my eyes. Today we continue to support and encourage the interests of each other.

The Best Part

The best part is we still like each other. Not that life has always been peachy keen. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we never outgrew that puppy love. It was what glued us together. Both of us are convinced that God brought us together and carries us through wherever life takes us.

Commercial Break

If you are a history buff, consider traveling to this wonderful museum. Next door is Greenfield Village. Both are owned by the Ford Motor Co. and well worth the trip. Give yourself several days, both are huge and you don’t want to miss a thing.

It Is Finished

How can I blithely spend a few minutes jotting down an accomplishment that has taken me years to complete? I am the only quilter I know that can make a brand new antique. But it is finished.

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This cathedral window quilt began in a workshop many years ago. My goal was three-fold, learn something new, use up scrap fabric piling up everywhere, and follow in our foremothers example of using the fabric on hand.

But Then…

For the mostpart I stayed true to my intent. But then I used up all my blue scraps and was far from done. So I begged scraps off fellow quilters. Eventually I used all my white fabric too. So I used off white colors. But then I was reduced to going out and purchasing more.

Life has interruptions. In the course of this project, I took on quilting for a lady that had inherited an unfinished quilt. She had everthing needed to complete it, all I had to do was put it together.

“You can keep all the white fabric left over, I’ll never use it.”

What a blessing! I was back at it, able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Just The Stats M’am

 

If you’re not already sitting down, feel free to do so.

Keeping in mind one yard is 36 inches. Three forths of a yard will make one block. One row consists of 8 blocks, bringing the yardage up to 6 yards. To cover a queen size bed required 11 rows. All total, 66 yards of went into this. It weighs in at 9lbs.

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A Work Of Love

This helped fill my evenings with handwork to keep myself busy. I’m not good at sitting and doing nothing.  Things worth having are worth working for. This work of love filled my heart as I imagined my family enjoying the warmth it provides.

Jesus comes to my mind, as I consider his lifetime of love, example, provision for mankind, and his sacrificial death so that we might spend eternity with our Creator. He finished His task too.

I included an up close picture of the quilt to see what can’t be seen from a distance. If you keep too much distance from God, your going to miss knowing Him and what He has to offer. Its woth the time investment to see Him better.

 

Minimalist In The Making

Family pictures are precious, and displaying them made conversation when visitors came. The down side is dusting them. I generally save housework to make it worth all the effort. Memories have a way of accumulating like dust bunnies under the bed.

I needed to sort through them, and enlisted my husband to help in this decision-making nightmare. He was no help.

“Why are you asking me, I’m not the decorator here?”

Determination Spilled In

A memory came over me of my childhood closet. My parents home was circa 1920’s when storage was wanting. My closet doubled as a pint-size attic. It’s contents were listing into my clothes.

A fit of determination spilled over me as I proceeded to clean it out. How can a young girl determine to save or pitch what took her folks a lifetime to accumulate? It can’t be done. So it all went back.

This Stuff Was Our Stuff

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I was determined to flush something out.

“What should we do with this picture Aunt Vic painted, whom we have never met?”

One thing in my favor was our open floor plan that gave us few walls to work with. Did I love this picture enough to dust it forever? Nope.

One decision seems to hinge on another though. Is this the way I’m going to keep my furniture arrangement? Where is the dart board going to hang downstairs?

“I’d like a mantle size shelf over the bed so I can ….” You get the idea.

“I’d like to put my wood hanger collection in the bathroom. Where are they anyway? I wish we could locate the box they got packed in. What would be helpful is to have a large case on wheels that would house the keeper pictures that aren’t on display. Where could we keep that?”

Round and round she goes, where she ends, nobody knows.

 

 

Time is of the Essence

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Until now, my posts have consisted of past memories. Today is different.

A day can start out normal, then take an unexpected detour of events. Today I want to embrace the treasure time allows me. However, I know me too well. It’s only a matter of time (there’s that word again) when I will fall flat on my face, overwhelmed by whatever.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Life is full of the good, the bad & the ugly. Each is well known. I will share a few of my own, but you have your own list.

During the summer I had the opportunity to meet a long lost cousin. She is at war with the C word. Now in hospice care, it appears cancer is winning.

This past week a friend went to the doctor, something wasn’t right. By nightfall she was sporting a pacemaker. If she had waited a few days, thinking time will heal what ails, her husband would be making funeral arrangements.

Control, Or the Lack Thereof

While we haven’t reached it yet, my dearly beloved and I can see our 50th wedding anniversary approaching. Our relationship is strong enough that I’m confident we’ll make it. Yay!

We have raised three wonderful, independant children that live wisely. Try as we did, we weren’t perfect parents. It had to be God intervening where we fell short.

For all those days in between, that went pretty much as I anticipated. Well, it enabled me to lay my head down at night in peace. I got the trash out on time.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom 

Psalm 90:12 NIV