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?

 

Not Lookin’ Good

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© 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

 

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© 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.

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.

 

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.