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.

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.

The Haircut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kitty Katke

Kitty © jb katke

Perfect. We can afford this.

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

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

“Are you sure you want that one Jamie?”

“Yep.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Just One Word

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© jb katke

 

https://youtu.be/7lfaSmDxVZQ

How are you doing on your New Years resolution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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