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

1952_ford_4dr_sedan_211

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.