Flags Will Fly

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Good Hands

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just An Ordinary Day

© jb katke 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooking 201

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

Garage Sale revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            How? By learning from our mistakes.

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

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

Garage Sale

            Why do I do subject myself to this?                    

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

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

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

            How did she know he would ask about them!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mom’s Day

 © jb katke

            Coming soon to a home near you.

Mom: “Mother’s Day is coming soon.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh No!

©jb katke

How could such a thing happen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine, an eternity of looking perfect!

New Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Misteaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Think of what he could do in and through you!

It’s A Done Deal

 

Cross picture
© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter!

 

Midnight Lessons

 

Midnight
© jb katke

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

“Shush girl, I’m right here.”

“Woof.” Quieter yet.

“That’s enough!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other lessons I learned from Midnight:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly, always have the last word.

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

Pet Preferences

Stella Geyer
© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Never Would I Ever…

 

I will never drive a minivan
© jb katke                                                            

Have you ever eaten crow?

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

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

That was Cindy’s sentiment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purging

Quilt room purge
© jb katke

What a dilemma.

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

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

The voice of a new retiree.

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

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

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

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

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

How can I know that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures Change-Revisited

sub zero temperatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly, I was grateful for this frigid weather.

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

The reason I tell you this stems from concern.

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

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

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

Life seems to continually get harder.

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

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

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

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

Pictures Change

House for sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My prayer?

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

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

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

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

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

Valentine People

Cookies and cupcakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is The Most Blessed?

Never have I met anyone quite like Kira.    Redhead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In so doing, Kira got a divine message.

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

She was eager to get back to her mission field.

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

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

 

Heart Medicine

Stack of Bibles
© jb katke

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

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

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

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

The following is what came to my attention:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

But why did she have to experience so much heartache?

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

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

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

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

 

Seriously?

Churchill HS marching band

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olathe South HS flag corp

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

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

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

 

 

 

Not Lookin’ Good

20210111_192135
© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was it worth it? That remains to be seen.

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

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

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

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

 

 

Enough is Enough

 

20210103_102114
© jb katke

“Just how much is enough?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My One Word

Relinquish
© jb katke

 

Never would I have imagined it so life changing.

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

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

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

That is an ongoing process in my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye 2020

 

istockphoto-1286391517-612x612

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

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

Memories come swarming in enough to suffocate you.

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

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

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

News Flash! This happens every year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gift Giving

Gift

We are in the Christmas season. Jesus’ birthday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were changes. Lots of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Tennessee Waltz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord, what more?

I’ve since learned not to ask him that.

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

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

 

Fifty Years!

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© jbkatke

How did that happen?

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

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

The following is how it played out through the years:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Spirit Living

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© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Thanksgiving of Gratitude

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© jb katke

Thankful! Are you kidding me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keynote Speaker

OIP

All I can say is it was an opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is this going to take very long?”

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

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

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

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

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

Nonsensical

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© jb katke

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

Here is my current conundrum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Need Met

Old Ford van © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Maybe Now I Get It

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

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

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

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

In turn, she also stopped.

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

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

Pray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Feel Good Moment

Road debris

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

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

Yesterday I had that opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Me?

Parking lotHave you ever found yourself in a situation that made you wonder, “Why me?”

It comes in the most unexpected ways and generally something you’re unprepared for.

Mine happened in the parking lot of a local mall. My shopping trip had all the makings for a fun morning. Things took a turn when I parked my car.

Before I could even exit the vehicle a man approached me. For safety sake I lowered my window only far enough for him to speak to me. He was asking for money.

So I think, why me?

The parking lot was teeming with vehicles and people were all around going to and from their cars and stores. Why did he come to me? He could have approached any number of other people.

He explained that his car was parked across the street at a service station. He wanted to get fuel and go to someone that needed his help. I’m guessing that I know what you’re thinking. I was suspicious too.

How could I know if he was telling the truth? Maybe the money would be used for alcohol or drugs. Heck, a person cannot be too careful in this day and age.

Except this took place years ago. Deception is as old as time itself.

I gave him $10. That wouldn’t do much, but it was better than heartlessly turning him away. The man was grateful and offered to repay me if I would give him my address. “No that won’t be necessary.”

I could have stayed and watched to see if he hit upon any other people. At the time I didn’t think of that, maybe some things we just don’t need to know.

But that is not all I did for him. Unbeknownst to him, as he was walking away, I said a prayer for him. After all he might truly have been in need. A little bit of prayer never hurt anyone.

The wonderment of the experience was that I had a little extra cash. That doesn’t happen often. I was still able to do my shopping, and I felt even better because I had been gifted with an opportunity to help someone.

I hadn’t asked for that opportunity. It just walked up to my car and presented itself to me. It occurred to me that out of all those other shoppers milling around, I might have been the only one to have prayed for the man.

That gives me food for thought. It prompts me to rethink my interruptions that interfere with my plan of the day. It’s a divine appointment in Jesus’ plan for my day.

 

Speechless

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Today was an exceptional day. I was speechless.

This is how the scene unfolded. Unlike our current situation, a new, normal, school year was approaching.  I joined other mothers bombarding the mall to nail as many clothing bargains as possible.

With my son and daughter in tow we foraged through clothing racks with fellow shoppers. The department was in disarray.  Pint size shoppers were clearly tired of standing in long lines just to go into the fitting room.

A loud voice arose above the crescendo around me.

“Why on earth are you have bringing another child into this world?”

The question was directed to me.  I was noticeably pregnant with our third child,

“You already have a son and daughter, there is no reason you should have a third child.”

I wonder what she would have to say if she learned that at one time, we talked of having four kids?

I was speechless. Those that know me can appreciate that.

What can you say to an obviously irate woman? She had taken it upon herself to confront me over something that was none of her business.  There was some talk of zero population growth in the news.  Apparently, this woman was of that mindset.

If she only knew.  Some women can get pregnant easily. Not I.  When I was a child playing outside I had an accident.  My self-entertainment was climbing on the trunk of dad’s car and sliding down.  Automobiles of the 50’s with the bumper guards weren’t good for that kind of play.

Had I been more alert to the harm they could inflict, I would have been mindful of where exactly I was sliding down.  But I wasn’t.  It wasn’t until I came in the house that I realized I was bleeding profusely. I can recall no pain, but marveled that mom had something on hand to address my issue.

Before the day was out I found myself in the doctor’s office getting stitches.  It has been my self-diagnosis that explains why I’ve had trouble getting pregnant.  All that to say, every one of our children took work and are treasured.

That happened many years ago, yet I’m still amazed at the encounter at the store.

My take-away from the experience is I can’t understand where people are coming from until I have walked in their shoes.  Maybe she would like more children but for whatever reason can’t.

Each of my children has been a learning and growing experience for me.  Without them I would have missed that.

They are no longer children, but the joy they continue to bring me is priceless.  I’m convinced our experiences are opportunities to become what the good Lord has in mind for our life.

Decisions, Decisions

 

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© jb katke

 

Have you ever had trouble making up your mind? This poor tree has red on the top and green at the bottom. It can’t decide whether to give in to dormancy or try to hang on to living.

I did a pint-size research on the hows and whys of leaves changing color. I learned it’s chlorophyll that gives them the green color we enjoy in the summer. The length of the night and cooler temperature cause biochemical processes, and thus, the colors change. Probably you already knew that.

To my way of thinking, then, people may have some tree-like tendencies. Have you ever run across a stubborn person? They are as unbending as the strongest tree trunk. I will say no more.

Just as the environment changes for trees, so does mine.

I won’t even go through the list. We all have one. There are seasons for everything and in the time span of one year I can feel I’ve have run the gamut on changes, emotional and otherwise. Particularly this year. Hang in there I tell myself, nothing on earth lasts forever. It just seems like it.

Cooler weather is here. The temperature never made it to the triple digits in my little world. Nonetheless, I’m glad we no longer need protection from the unrelenting sun. It’s even easier to breathe. Or is it, with these gosh darn masks? I repeat, nothing on earth lasts forever.

However triple digits of anger have hit too many of our cities. Never in my lifetime have I seen the hate rise within our fellow citizens. We have literally turned against ourselves. I cling to what is said in the Good Book, ‘This too will pass.’

There is a story making the Facebook circuit about the elderly, nearly blind, woman being moved into a nursing facility. An aide is describing the room as she guides her resident to her new home. Before even arriving there, the old lady states, “I love it!”

“How can you know you love it when we haven’t even got there yet?”

The old woman says, “Because I’ve decided to.”

I might not have that story verbatim, but you get the drift. These days, more than ever, it’s crucial what we set our minds (and hearts) on. The decision is ours.

This aforementioned tree will eventually succumb to winter dormancy. But it’s not over, there is life after (what looks like) death. Next summer it will come alive with new growth and be bigger and stronger than it was this past summer. It will be wiser too, realizing this whole thing is nothing more than a cycle of life.

Same thing goes for people.

Sunday Teacher

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© jb katke

My Sunday teacher in high school was nice enough, a well-meaning lady. Mrs. Newman taught from the Bible what God’s marriage plan looked like. In a variety of ways, she got the consistent message across. She may have referenced a stack of Bibles; it’s just that she didn’t understand.

If she could have met the boy I was dating, I’m certain she would have taken her words back. I mean, my boyfriend was a really nice guy, there was nothing to dislike about him. Ok, he didn’t go to a church like mine, but still…

Mrs. Newman had to be in her forties, what could she possibly know about boys and dating? She was married, but still, she was so old-fashioned. She was teaching ancient stuff. How could any of that be of importance today?

One of her favorite bones to pick was to be equally yoked. What was that? I envisioned a male and female with this wood yoke around their necks pulling a cart. They would walk in unison. Ok, I got it; but like we would hardly be doing that!

“Be of the same faith.” Whatever for, it can’t be that important?

She had quite a list of other things to consider when we were dating boys:

“There are a lot of fish in the sea, make sure he is respectful of you.” Yeah, yeah, I know. He is

“Don’t spend too much time with each other.” Uh-oh, we have become exclusive. Not really hanging with our friends. We couldn’t get enough of each other.

Let me clarify that, he had friends, but not so much me. My neighborhood was full of old people, no kids to be had.

When you go out together, make it a group date with friends.” That’s fine if your friends had dates too, ours did not.

“No sex.” I knooww, what do you take me for?

There were others that I dismissed as well.

But I had moved on. Time has shown me there was truth in her words Wisdom comes with age!

I learned having the same religion makes it easier to be on the same page with each other. Fortunately, I found out his love and respect for his mom carried over to me as well.  If I believed in luck, I would say that was a lucky break. I know better.

Twenty years later, attending a women’s conference, I saw Mrs. Newman. At break time we happened to sit at the same table with our refreshment.

It was so long ago, would she even remember me?

No matter, I looked upon this encounter as a divine appointment. I introduced myself and she claimed to have remembered me.

With pleasure I told her of my husband. I married that high school sweetheart, and yes, we had some ups and downs. But we reached a happily ever after marriage.

There is no doubt in my mind God had his hand on our relationship. Twenty-twenty hindsight tells me it could have been much different for us.

There are no guarantees in a marriage certificate. In his book, God mentions, if we do life his way, things will go well with us. We are living proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill ‘Er Up

It brings me great joy to share my empty laundry basket with you. Laundry basket

I know, you’re thinking the lady has lost serious brain power. (PS Join the long line, others are way ahead of you)

Allow me to explain myself.

I use this basket as a hamper, and for more years than I care to admit, this basket has been ½ full, with dry cleaning as well as laundry. I won’t burden you with why I didn’t get the dry cleaning done in a timely manner. Let’s agree some things just are and leave it at that.

This year, 2020, I got the dry cleaning done! It may be the only accomplishment I achieve this year. That’s okay.

My real purpose is for you to see what I see in that empty basket. It has potential. It can be used for storage; or as when we moved, packed with all manner of things to get from here to there.

I can almost hear you now, “They’re not perfect for everything with holes in the sides, which limits what gets put in them.” True, but…

That empty basket reminds me of myself. Imperfect, kinda limited in what I can do. But still, good for something. I’ll even go so far as to say Jesus sees me that way too. My potential combined with his help will see me through things I never imagined doing.

Like what? If you have followed my blog from the beginning, you know this was not my idea. I don’t see eye to eye with technology, what computer skills I have generally get me in trouble. More than once I’ve had to issue an SOS to my husband or writing coach.

If you read through a few of my entries, you will get it. I don’t know much, but I know Jesus. I have shared things that I have observed in others, stuff from my own life; some scary and others are kinda funny. Bottom line, though, Jesus has been with me whether I have been aware of it at the time or not.

A good blog will have a purpose to the message. My purpose is for you to see the different ways Jesus is with you too. Be of good heart. I believe mankind has value and something to offer to others. Can ya see it?

Boy Shoes

Boy shoes

For a little girl this was devastating. I wasn’t aware of having a foot problem.

Mothers notice these things though.  The wear on my shoes indicated fallen arches, prompting mom to take action.

My parents did not have the income for specialty anything.  So they may not have been any happier than I was.

I cannot recall going to a doctor to get his diagnosis or what should be done to correct my feet. Not to say it didn’t happen, my childhood memories are lacking.

I do clearly remember going to the store for corrective shoes. Looking back, I can see myself being a little bouncy. I didn’t get out too much, so even the shoe store was an adventure. It wasn’t a regular shoe store, but one that addresses various foot issues.

I made the salesman quite nervous, as he had one of his own feet in a surgical shoe, nothing like the surgical boots we see today. He feared that I might step on his foot. Not one to disappoint, I did, causing him a great deal of pain. Today I can still see him hobbling around the store moaning. That I can remember.

As our shopping experience continued, I was none too pleased with him either.

Back in the day, shoe stores had a stool with a small ramp. This provided a place for the salesman to sit as he/she tied the new shoe on. A service no longer available today. Before we even got to that point, he decided my foot needed tickling. That was far too personal for a stranger to do and made me wary of putting my other foot up.

Sadly, the shoes brought out for me to try on were all boy shoes. Ugly and black. I emphasize, at that time, I was not fashion conscious. Even then I thought they were fine for boys, but certainly not for a girl.

Today, I’m certain other kids would make an issue over my shoes. Bullying has come to the forefront of awareness in today’s society.

In my childhood though, many families were like mine. Middle class and striving to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead. I’m grateful that no one paid any attention to my shoes. Even in a trivial situation like this, I see God’s providing for a need and His mercy to not be made a spectacle of.

Unfortunately my fallen arches have stayed with me into adulthood. It’s a love, hate situation. There are so many cute shoes to be had and I have to wear something that an insert will fit in. If I go several hours without them, my feet begin to ache, so I’m grateful to have them…darn it!

Our Escape

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© jb katke

“Excuse me, sir. Sir! Excuse me, is my head bleeding really bad?”

This was how my husband was greeted as he exited our truck.

It was quite a start to what was intended to be a relaxing time away.

Inwardly I groaned, oh no, are we going to get sucked in a riot? For months the news has been reporting them occurring at night but it was the middle of the day. There is so much unrest in our country these days. My thoughts did a kneejerk reaction.

Then I noticed the young man carrying a skate board. Apparently he had an incident and the pavement won, leaving a nasty souvenir.

Like so many, we were getting restless in this seemingly never ending COVID pandemic. Optimistically confident school will be starting soon, means Dave will be returning to work driving students. Taking off for a few days was now or never.

Our travel took us to the Patee House Museum in St Joseph MO. It satisfied my interest in local history and antiques without the dilemma of whether I should purchase something I don’t need.   I especially enjoyed the vintage light fixtures throughout the building. We were pleasantly surprised to find an old Edison record player identical to ours.

www.stjoemo.info/369/pateehousemuseum

Our final destination was to visit family in Nebraska. While there I realized we are old. Those great grandchildren of ours are a bundle of energy. There is an open market for someone to learn how to bottle that; they could make millions.

Watching the little ones at play wore us out.  It has made me a strong believer in naps, I’ve decided that must be where it stems from.

Looking back on my own child raising years I recall working harder during naptime. I knew when the children came back to life, the needy interruptions would pick up where they left off.

This I can say, I’m grateful Jesus never tires of my incessant interruptions. Not only is he there 24/7, it seems he’s expecting to hear from me. It’s as if his day isn’t complete unless we’ve had some conversation. Oh wait, that’s me.

Locked Out But Not Down

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© jb katke 

 

“Not again.”

For the second time I’m confronted with the situation of being locked out. The instances were years apart but still that sensation of helplessness washes over me. Both times my son came to the rescue.

My hands full as I headed out the door. My friend Vivian was parked in the driveway waiting to take us Bible study. I was bringing the snack so my absence on this day would be noticed.

The kids, not realizing I needed to go back in the house, slammed the front door shut. My keys and purse were inside the house.

Flash back to this morning. I promised my husband Dave, I wouldn’t disturb him at work as he was up to his eyeballs in a huge project.

“Not even if there is a death in the family.”

He alone was in charge of a massive rearrangement of the entire plant, all the while never stopping production of their workload.

Against my promise I called an SOS to Dave. “I’m sorry but there is nothing I can do, there are men standing around me waiting for instruction.”

Now what?

I encouraged Vivian to go ahead to study with the snack. We would figure something out. But she insisted on staying to see us through this dilemma. I learned this is what friendship looks like.

Have I mentioned to you how resourceful my son is? Like his father, he’s a thinker. Jamie analyzed the problem and came up with a solution.

“I’m going to go through the basement window. That way I can come upstairs and unlock the door.”

“Hon, you can’t do that. The only way to get in is breaking the glass and you could get cut and hurt falling down to the floor,”

“No mom, I think I can do it without breaking the glass.” Did he know something about gaining entry to the house that I did not?

Mission accomplished, and we were on our way.

The second instance took place several years later when Jamie discovered the shed locked with his bike inside. He needed to get newspapers delivered. Except his father had the (only) key in his coat pocket. Again at work. There was nothing we could do until he came home.

Jamie had raided his dad’s toolbox. The next thing I know, he is unscrewing the hinges off the shed.

“Jamie, what are you doing, you can’t do that?”

“Mom, I thought about it and this is what dad would do.”

How do you argue with logic like that? The kid is his father’s son. They were cut from the same mold, thinking outside the box. Also known as problem solvers.

I’m proud of our boy and grateful for the impact his dad has on him. Parents have a role to play in teaching their young. But thank you Jesus, for supplying a learning mind and teachable heart.

The Questionable Gift

Gift

The following story is fiction. Or maybe not.

Chads dad reached across the vast table to hand him his gift. Instead, Chad just looked at the package.

Time stood still.

Could this be what he had been longing for all his life? Chad kept his wishes to himself. Only because he was always modifying what he was hoping for.

Could dad automatically know what I want? What I despearately need and can’t find the words to express?

His hearts desire was based upon his mood so there was no telling if this package held it.

Should he take it? Accepting this gift had the potential to make or break his heart. He felt his whole future would forever be impacted. Was it worth the risk?

Chads mind drifted off to a million different disappointments.

What about your promise? Dad was going to give us the vacation of a lifetime, then mom got sick, squelching our plans. She died. Not one for goodbyes, her last words to me, “I’ll see ya later.” Did she know something I didn’t? I miss her so much ‘cuz she made up for the lack of dad.

Chads dad was a professor with many of his teaching assignments worldwide. He explained that it was a benefit to the students for him to go to them, because they weren’t able to come to him. Yeah, whatever.

I know he loves me. He was forever sending little gifts to let me know he was thinking of me. Some of them were neat, but others made me wonder what he was thinking. Like what was up with the book on American Indians? He knows I’m not into books. Besides its history, who cares what life was like back then? This is now.

Chads head swirled with what ifs…?

His dad set the gift in front of him. He had to deal with it. Others were watching, waiting for his response. The pressure was intense.

Taking a closer look at the package, Chad recognized the wrap. He’d seen it before.

Good old mom, waste not want not, seemed to be her theme in life.

Why dispose of perfectly good wrapping paper that can be reused at a later time.

The time was now. Seizing the moment he took the gift. Being incredibly right is a weird feeling, it did change life as he knew it.

This scene is played out on a daily basis. Different people in various places, even the circumstances aren’t the same. But the same gift of accepting Jesus’ love is offered time and again.

We all know love expressed comes in many forms, but a healthy love always wants what is best and there is nothing’ bester’ than Jesus’ love.

Chad hit the nail on the head, his choice did affect the future, not just in the here and now, but for all eternity. I believe people are watching, both from above and the ones around us.

By the way, the change in us is for the better. The Good Book gets dusted off, language is tidied up, behavior upgrades, and the rewards are supersized beyond imagination.

Life cerealRemember the commercial from long ago for the new Life cereal? Siblings place the cereal in front of Mikey to try, and he liked it!

This life is new, but Mikey and Chad liked it and you will too.

An Old Fashioned Love Story

Couple

The love story of TC, as I’ve come to call them, isn’t mine to tell. However, they aren’t inclined to call attention to themselves. So if I don’t tell you, how will you ever know what love looks like?

TC are their initials; wherever you saw one of them, the other was surely nearby. They belonged together as much as peanut butter and jelly.

I confess I don’t know their full story, just the good part.

There was 15 years difference in their age. What I don’t know is how they met. It could have been at church or maybe at a summer camp. Questions come to mind about what a 25 year old man would be doing with a girl so young. As a parent I confess to shudder, thinking all kinds of wrong in it.

That’s why when sixteen year old C asked her folks what they thought of her and T getting married, they were aghast.

“Absolutely not!” How could a young impressionable high school girl know her heart? It was unthinkable.

(Note: This is another part I don’t know. Did TC go behind her folks back? If so, it was a long distance relationship.)

Through the week T worked as a road surveyor in the north woods. He was most comfortable out in nature, enjoying the fresh air, natural beauty and peace it offered.

Weekends found him back downstate among the hustle and bustle of the suburbs where C lived. What TC shared was genuine.

Years passed. C graduated from high school. She went on to college, graduating after four years of studies. She got herself a job, saving enough money to eventually move out of her parents’ home into an apartment.

All the while love remained, grew actually. T waited all this time for one reason. Mind you, he and C never abandoned the dream of marriage.

But first T wanted C to experience what adulthood held. Independence, and the responsibilities of working for a living, purchasing a car along with the maintenance of it, housekeeping, cooking, you name it.

T didn’t ever want C to feel rushed into marriage, not having the chance to do things on her own. She got to experience it all.

Ten years later we were invited to their wedding. Here is the best part. T standing at the foot of the altar, his arm down at this side, but his hand very subtly urging C to come forward quickly down the aisle. Enough time had passed.

It was a day of joy like I had never witnessed before or since.

Besides the love they had for each other, together they shared a love for Jesus. He was the one that gave them the patience and the strength to do this thing right, with no regrets.

This is how I envision Jesus’ love for us. He lets us grow up and experience life both with and without him, all the while, his love never ending. Any mistakes we make along the way are opportunities to see him better and realize he has the best for us in the long run.

Altered Moms

Julie and Alyssa
© jb katke

My life was to be forever changed and I was not pleased.

I had come to the end of my rope, all I could do is hang on for a very rough ride. My daughter Cindy, was pregnant. She had become a statistic, joining the ranks of teen moms.

Let me say right up front, too many others didn’t understand my turmoil. The era was rampant with young people making adult decisions that the rest of the family had to deal with. So I admit, it wasn’t a new concept, but one of those ‘everyone is doing it’ mindset.

But not us, not our family! We loved Jesus and my husband Dave and I did all we could to spread the love of God to our children. On second thought, why not? We’re not perfect parents.

Unfortunately, several families in our church were dealing with much the same situation. At the time it felt as though an epidemic had hit. We mothers rallied around each other, offering support and encouragement to the best of our ability.

I dubbed our group Altered Moms. Each of our lives were to be forever altered. The situations varied among us, but the concerns were the shared. One had a teenage son that fathered a child, another had a son so rebellious that his mom claimed he would get pregnant if he could! That named a few, but…what now?

We talked out circumstances that we couldn’t change. Mostly we prayed. Prayer is a funny thing. A person of strong faith may very well ask for God’s will, but that is a potent prayer. God hears our heart, but it also puts a spotlight on future words and actions.

Can I accept his will?

Think about it, this all powerful God could have prevented these crises, right? Is it possible that this unasked for dilemma be part of his plan? Not just for me, but for our kids too? I have come to believe the answer is ‘Yes, yes it can!”

I continued going to church and gosh darn if every message preached hit home. Even though our minister was clueless to our crisis, mentioning our names from the pulpit was the only thing missing. Every Sunday put me in tears because I knew it was me that needed the changing. Broadening my mind and heart was required.

A side effect is the relationship with my future son-in-law. We all have a part to play in what life hands us. These things take time. I am pleased to tell you it is well between us all now. Each of us in our own way had some growing up to do.

The beautiful little granddaughter put into our lives continues to bless us in ways we could never have imagined. A couple years later a little sister joined the fam. Our lives have become enriched over what initially seemed so hard to deal with. God knew what he was doing after all.

That is history.

I would be foolish not to mention the altered lives we are living under now in 2020. Too many have lost loved ones through this insidious COVID 19 virus.

While there may be finger pointing blame, what does that accomplish? We are where we are and at best we must move forward to what lies ahead.

Here is a mind-boggler for you:

It’s the same Guy that allowed my personal crisis and this current time we are living in. Again prayer comes into play.

Can we accept the pandemic we are in as God’s will?

What choice do we have? This isn’t over.

Experience teaches us things. We have learned staying home isn’t horrible. ‘Someday’ projects turned into accomplishments. Discerning what is important and what isn’t took center stage. Others have learned to cook. We have found creative ways to entertain ourselves. Better yet, how to relate with each other.

Bottom line: My mom was right, life is what we make it.

But I will say this with it, good things can come from bad situations. I’ve come to believe it’s one of Gods specialties.

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.