Life Behind the Mask

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© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What then?

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

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

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

Unorganized Church

Small church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roller Coaster Realty

Livonia Home[2874]

 

 

© jb katke

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How soon can you move out?”

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

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

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

“How soon can you move in?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Way Things Were

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mothers Day

Asbury out the front door neighbors © jb katke

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

Mom: “This Sunday is Mothers Day.”

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

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

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

I’ve learned a great deal from my kids.

Such as:

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

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

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

There’s more.

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

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

Likewise I’ve learned from them too:

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

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

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

Kids, it’s called parent-raising.

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

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

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

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

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

Ready To Go

SparrowHope is in the air. The excitement is building.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting To Know Myself

20190414_150111-1 ©jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime I have gotten to know myself better.

I liked staying home with no place to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now you know how to create a quilt mess.

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

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

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