Not Sorry

© jb katke

It’s so easy to look back on things we’ve done and have regrets. Can we take a moment and make a list of what we are not sorry for?

I’m sharing this photo with you, a weekend project. The wheelbarrow carries much more than these pumpkins you see. It was my dad’s, and he used to give me rides in it when I was a child. We have no need of it, but I can’t seem to part with it yet. Having limited storage ranks this as yard décor. I hope.

Currently, we are in an HOA community, they call the shots as to whether we can keep it or do away with it. Providing it is not a problem will entail having to have some form of a pretty in it year-round. I’ve figured out summer, each fall I can do as you see here. Winter I will have to think on.

My husband has his doubts. Especially after we embarked on moving the thing full of dirt in this locale. A few things were in its path, making it difficult. It took muscle, moving the downspout and a guy grumbling, “The things we do to keep a wife happy.”

Not sorry. It’s looking good, for the moment. Now if I can just get the powers that be to see things my way.

When a new baby joined our family, I made it a practice to keep the older siblings home from school when I returned home with our new bundle of joy. My purpose was to give the children a chance to get to know their new sister and how home was going to look a little different. Hopefully too, they wouldn’t feel left out and resentful. Not at all sorry.

The day our youngest put in a request to wear her roller skates to school amongst warnings, “You’re gonna get in trouble!” She didn’t. Permission granted, not sorry.

Here is a big one, giving my granddaughters cake along with their breakfast! When Momma found that out, “Mom! I can’t believe you did that! You never let us kids do that.” Along with grand parenthood comes certain rights, like spoiling them rotten. Not sorry.

Finally got my husband to agree to moving. “This winter we’ll fix up the house and put it on the market in the spring.” I found our new home that same afternoon. Not sorry, we enjoyed that home. 

It took a long time coming, but I have a hutch for all the inherited dishware that belonged to various relatives, I was next in line. No one, including me, has good dishes anymore, making hutches almost extinct. I enjoy mine. Not sorry.

I accidently got into a car accident, totaling my vehicle. A car I never liked anyway. It is now of great importance to my husband that I like our cars. Not sorry.

It took me some time to realize the Lord was serious. I’m now following his direction and writing a book. Not sorry.

Really grateful that our Creator sees potential in all of us, giving us opportunity to step out of comfort zones and see what a difference he can make in life. So incredibly not sorry!

Things That Bring A Smile

© jb katke

During this COVID season, I have cut back drastically from shopping. Such a pity as I am an excellent shopper. I have a system; beginning to my right, I walk the four outer walls. Then proceed up and down the center aisles, making sure I miss nothing. As I go along, I place items of a potential purchase in my cart. Just before I approach the cashier, I retrace my steps and return my choices back on their respective shelf. I don’t bring much home, but do save a few dollars in the process.

A new home dec store opened in the neighborhood some time back and I could resist no more. The day was reserved on my calendar and I was so anxious I could taste the anticipation. Enough time had passed that I gave myself permission to make a fresh addition to my home. Clearly, I was in a spending mood.

Following the above pattern, I happened along many nice items. They didn’t make it to my cart, though. The place was full bore decked for Halloween. I’m not into spooky, so passed them by. However, I am all over autumn décor. There was much to be had; but a bit glamorous for my taste. Others were a little too scare crow like. Did I mention that I’m picky? I prefer the term selective. Much was priced over what I was willing to spend. Leaving the store, I was disappointed in my inability to satisfy that spending spree I had hoped for.

But wait. Next door is an antique shop. Old and broken in is more my style. Antique stores are not what I remember from my youth. My parents used to frequent them when there was a furniture need; and indeed, the merchandise was vintage. Today, we might find something old, a fair share of refurbished items or new crafts with that aged look. If you are intent on a genuine antique, care must be taken.  

I am glad I entered. Because being a genuine antique is not of importance to me, I find myself  more open-minded to what strikes my fancy. Today my fancy was struck by a vintage toy we once had for our children. It was a pint-size bench that held round pegs for hammering. Immediately, it brought a smile to my face.

Our first home had four bedrooms upstairs in a revamped attic. There was only one heat register; unacceptable for Michigan winters. The home improvements started with a new furnace and heat ducts for the upper level. The job created quite a racket, more that our little son could handle. When the workers began their hammering, so did Jamie on his toy. I thought was his coping mechanism was clever for a three-year-old.  

I’m not quite sure what to call the other purchase I made. Possibly an urn, or maybe a vase? It certainly was not a need but the colors called out to me. Blue and green are a favorite color combo of mine. Showing the purchase to my husband, Dave, I noticed Roseville written on the bottom. I have watched enough of the TV show, Antiques Roadshow, that the name sounded familiar to me. Roseville pottery is of value. There were no other markings to determine if it is the real deal or a knock-off. No matter to me, I like it.

My mother’s words come back to me, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Another adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It makes me so very grateful that Jesus found joy in me before I had joy in him. He might be smiling at us right now.

Don’t Forget

Can you remember what took place twenty years ago?

We have wrapped up a week of remembering. The mantra of 9/11 was, “We will never forget.”

Atrocities have happened throughout the centuries. Generations have been impacted and stories documented. A high school teacher once told parents how difficult it is teaching history, “Events happen every day, adding to what has already occurred long ago. It’s too much to teach!”

A sad truth.

As a rule, I have trouble remembering what we had for dinner the night before. I may have gone to great pains in preparation, but our meals are never noteworthy enough to write about. It’s easier to do the opposite of remembering, and forget. As New Yorkers may say, “Fget about it!”

Another sad truth are the good things that happen and for whatever reason, the stories don’t get passed along. This is not a new or unique situation. Take a peek into the book of Exodus in the Good Book. It is a story like none other.

Jesus’ dad promised Abraham that a great nation would be founded through him; it was Israel. Only they were oppressed by another nation into slavery.  But God impressed upon a man, Moses, to lead the Israelites out to a promised land.  It took forty years!

Spoiler alert: Jesus’ dad made lots of promises that stand even today. In addition, he uses ordinary man to get his plan done.

You can’t make this stuff up; read it for yourself! Tragedy, disappointment, and miracles all took place in this one true story. Here is my point in mentioning it, people witnessed all these things happening around them.

They were warned, don’t forget what you experienced. Tell your children what you saw and how Jesus’ dad worked miracles into those difficult days. The kids are not going to realize the importance if you don’t let them know. It’s part of their history; they were too young to understand at the time.

I can’t help but think it is more important now than ever. There was a time when families all lived in the same community. Not so anymore.

No longer do grandparents have the opportunity to invest in the grandchildren, reinforcing what mom and dad strive to teach. There are times, whether baking cookies, or going fishing, whatever; they are teachable moments we can impress our young ones into becoming responsible adults.

This is close to my heart, because the little ones in our family are not close by. It’s not always children either. I recall teaching my brother how to sew on a button after his wife passed away.

People need people. People need Jesus and the miracles his dad can do to help make good things come from bad situations. 

On The Road Again

 ©jb katke

            Weary body, but oh, the things I have learned on our trip!

            Dave and I are home from our twelve days, 2,600+miles of travel to ‘Parts unknown.’ Leaving home, we determined to head northwest. It’s one thing to know we live in a beautiful country, quite another to experience it.

            Nebraska grows cacti. Who knew? I considered it a strictly hot desert plant, not to be found in a climate where ice and snow are common in winter.

©jb katke

            Buffalo don’t live in the United States, bison do. We found them moving on to a better field to graze in South Dakota. That was an unexpected roadside attraction we had not considered.

            Mount Rushmore. What an experience, I had to pinch myself to make certain I really was there. It took fourteen years to create what we enjoy today. With our audio tour we learned many men from various walks of life were involved.  I am in awe of the time, determination and skill to accomplish that work of art.

            Before heading home, we returned to Colorado to revisit a city that had more to offer than we could take in before. That fact remains. The rest of the country got there first making parking nonexistent. We sat in our hotel room  resting before the twelve-hour drive home.

            We still saw things.  Some folks continue to wear face masks, fearing exposure to last years COVID pandemic. Don’t think I am being critical, too many deaths have occurred to not take it seriously.  We all have our reasons for or against the masks, it just saddens me because Jesus doesn’t want us living in fear.

            There were plenty of marijuana shops available. Along with that were people that have chosen to live high, making this traveler uncertain of safety on the street.  Speaking of street…we witnessed some sleeping on the sidewalk of former businesses.

            Lots of businesses have closed permanently, or short hours of operation due to a lack of employees. Simply put, what we hear on the news is a sad reality.  

            We have not traveled in a long time, not that I’m complaining, some never get that privilege.  When the opportunity comes up though, Carpe Diem it. Seize the moment and go for the joy to be had. Our Creator did it for the pleasure we would get from his work.

            My take-away is to look for joy around us. So much in our world has changed. That is one of the things I appreciate about Jesus and his dad. They are the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Good Book says we will be getting a new world and I can hardly wait, ‘cause it’s gonna be good!

            Just make sure you are going to be part of it. You do realize you are a work of art, compliments of God, don’t you? It didn’t even take fourteen years either.

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.

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.

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!

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.