Valentine People

Cookies and cupcakes

It’s half over…but Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you received something special from your loved one or good friend? If not, it’s likely you won’t at this late hour.

This is why I’m sending this message today. To let you know there are people out there that don’t need Valentines to let others know they are loved and appreciated.

They express it often and when it’s least expected. Two women come to mind. One near, the other far.

My far friend is a cousin by marriage. Locally, she is known as the Cookie Lady, a badge she wears proudly. Anne is quite community-minded and often bakes cookies for neighbors, teachers and firemen. Those are the ones I am aware of, my guess is the list is much longer.

Why does she do that? My guess is it meets a need for her as well as her recipients. Through the years Ann has lost a lot of family. She loved them deeply then, and continues today. What else can one do that has so much to give?

The near friend, supplies so much to me. Yesterday was cupcakes. But prior to that, because she knows what a material girl I am, and a former quilter at-large, sends me quilt magazines. Not to mention the cards and wishes throughout the year.

She knows how to reach me. Undoubtedly, she shares with many others as well.

These women spread their love far and wide. They make a huge impact on their receivers as well, understanding she doesn’t have to do it. It’s done by choice.

(Now you know why momma told you to be picky in who you make friends with!)

I understand. We can’t choose our family. By design, that’s done without consultation. It gives us all a chance to extend love to those who don’t deserve it.

Ya know, like Jesus. He extends himself to one and all to be his friends. Regardless of how we have lived, he makes himself available 24/7.

Not feeling it? Here is a challenge for you. Think of any variety of situations in your life that could have worked out differently. Good or bad.

The bad ones can be looked upon as learning experiences. The good ones, Jesus extending his love and mercy for what could have gone so wrong. He doesn’t have to, it’s just he wants to, because he has so much love to give.

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?

 

Seriously?

Churchill HS marching band

My anger was over the top. It seems I’m not over the confrontation yet.

To give you a little background, a lifetime ago I was a marching band mom. My son, Jamie, played the trumpet though high school and beyond. He enjoyed it and so did his father and I.

Let me hasten to add, it was hard work. Every week of the football season meant a few new songs to learn and new formations to perform at the games. This, on top of all the demands from other classes.

Life has a way of changing everything. By the time our youngest, Naomi, hit high school, we had a job transfer and new schools to acclimate to. Naomi opted to become a member of the flag girls that performed routines alongside the band.

Each week the band played the same song. I couldn’t understand why. If you watched one performance, you’ve seen them all.

In asking the band teacher about this he explained, “The students couldn’t possibly be able to learn a new song in every week.”

This is when I became livid with anger. Standing before me was a picture of what separates good teachers from bad.

“Yes they can! These kids aren’t learning anything doing the same routine week after week. They need the challenge and the opportunity to expand their repertoire. Playing the same musical number repeatedly is a recipe for boredom. Not to mention zero desire to discover if they have a music preference.”

Fortunately the flag girls did their own music numbers offering various costumes with different flag formations. At least they weren’t bored to tears!

Olathe South HS flag corp

My take away was this: The mindset of the band teacher revealed was he was tired of teaching and was merely putting in his time until retirement. Mentally done, he no longer cared to instill a love for music to his pupils.

Everyone has something to offer, instilling what we love into others should never grow old.

Sometimes Jesus gives me opportunities to grow that I may not like. But it’s something he knows I can master with his help, and usually holds a future benefit. He never tires, becomes stagnant, or limited in love. It never ends.

 

 

 

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

 

20210103_102114
© 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.

My One Word

Relinquish
© jb katke

 

Never would I have imagined it so life changing.

My One Word is an alternative to a New Year’s resolution.  It’s a Bible Study, but only sort of. You begin by asking Jesus for a single word that would focus on a lasting change for your life.  Search the Bible for verses that allude to that word and what he wants you learn from it. What makes it so doable is, it’s just one word/one change.

January has begun, but it’s not too late for you to dive in.

The word that surfaced for me was ‘relinquish.’ I had considered other words, ‘submit’ and ‘surrender.’ But they didn’t lead me to where Jesus was having me focus.  Submit was something I already do with my husband.  Surrender, to me, means giving up.  Relinquish, on the other hand, means to willfully release.

That is an ongoing process in my life.

Over time it’s taken on differing forms. My first wrestling match was selling my brass bed.  We were down-sizing.  I was the only one who liked it and my family couldn’t understand why I loved it so much.  At the time I couldn’t put words to it, but I can now. That dumb bed was one of the few things in our home that reflected my decorating taste. Tears flowed.

Sometime later I had cataract surgery. I was convinced I’d end up blind. Relinquishing sight, when you are a quilter and supposedly writing a God-ordained book, this just cannot be. Fear reigned. Needlessly. Isn’t that true of so many of our fears? They never come to be.

Selling my grandmother’s enamel kitchen table was another opportunity to relinquish.  As a child, my memories recalled me sitting on a step stool eating her raisin bread, picking out the raisins, eating the frosting on top and leaving the bread.  Yes, I was chastised. But it did no good.

We sold it to a young family that was thrilled to get it. Their home is all vintage thirties, all they were missing was an enamel table. It continues to be cherished, but not at my house.

I come from a family of savers.  When my dad was moving he divided up his collection of dried up paintbrushes between my husband and brother. Our allotment helped fill the trash bin.

Generations before me collected a vast amount of possibly useful things. Upon going through my aunt’s estate after her death, we came across an envelope.  Written on it was, ‘For poverty living.’ Inside it was a large needle and a six-inch string. One can expect that thinking when you have survived a depression.

Moving their stuff out of my way was forever driving me nuts.  Keep in mind, they had all passed away. This was only perpetuating the pack-rat lifestyle I hated.

This is my history. Mental battles run rampant as I dispose of what my ancestors diligently spent their lifetime saving.  Just in case.  My daughter is helping me let go, I mean relinquish.

But to dispose of something……what if sometime down the road I might need it?

I keep reminding myself none of it will be coming with me to my eternal home. By then, there will be no need!

Goodbye 2020

 

istockphoto-1286391517-612x612

Congratulations, you’ve made it through Christmas of 2020! What now? Or should I ask what more?

Every Christmas is the first for someone to miss a loved one. I know that hole in your life cannot be replaced. My first one without my mom was difficult, regardless of my efforts I couldn’t take her place in Dad’s life.

Memories come swarming in enough to suffocate you.

What is your Christmas memory? They can become bittersweet. My memory from a long ago Christmas leaned on the humorous side.

I recall helping mom wrap an especially awkward gift. It was only a few inches tall, but extremely long and wide. She had the giftwrap covering it in the nick of time. Christmas morning I learned the gift was for me!

Now we are soon to unwrap a new year. A fresh one, hot off the presses, to be used any way we wish. Wait a minute, didn’t we have that same emotion on January 1, 2020?

News Flash! This happens every year.

Of course, there are always unexpected things that pop up and take the wind out of our sails. You know, like COVID-19, that we have no control over.

Every day I roll out of bed to a new day filled with potential. Those are the opportunities to show what stuff we are made of.

It’s hard, I know. Life is hard. I once heard a wise man say something the likes of our life being ten percent what happens to us and ninety percent how we react to it.

How can a person react in the right way? Ya gotta know what’s right, right? A few things that came in my path proved to be helpful. Surround yourself with people that are the way you would like to be.

I have Darlene in my life that seems to know the Old Testament of the Good Book inside out and sideways.  There is much to learn of the people in it. The good, bad or the ugly.

Janice knows scripture like none other. She and her husband would recite it between themselves to strengthen each other. That came in handy when her beloved passed away. She can hardly wait to join him, but knows there are people to encourage (like me) in the meantime.

My husband loves and encourages me, despite all my flaws. Just like Jesus does.

Read! Of all the reads available, only the Good Book has the power to transform your life for the better. However good your New Year resolutions may be, I can tell you scripture tops it.

 

Gift Giving

Gift

We are in the Christmas season. Jesus’ birthday.

For some, it’s a depressing time. For others, thoughts are filled with all the glee the holiday holds. Along with the songs and carols of the season.

My favorite is Mary, Did You Know? Listening to it brings tears to my eyes. Probably especially so for us mothers. Mary Did You Know Mark Lowry – YouTube

We treasure those moments of holding our newborn in the still of the night when the rest of the house sleeps. This little one is mine, all mine to admire, cuddle, and gaze in awe of how perfect a child we have. What a gift!

It brings to mind what Mary did know. An angel came and told her she was held in high esteem and in God’s favor. He continued, saying you will get pregnant, without having sex.  You’re gonna have a son, and will name him Jesus. He will do great things and will be called God’s son. Jesus will sit on a throne as his ancestor David did, and will rule over his kingdom forever.

What Mary didn’t know was how all of this would happen. She’s in her early teens and her family are not rulers of anything. There’s a gift to wonder about!

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the future holds for us? As eager as I was to start a family, I was clueless to what all is involved in this childrearing thing.

There were changes. Lots of them.

The most recent has actually been going on for several years now. It made for more years of seasonal depression than I care to admit.

Our children are no longer children, even so, during the Christmas season gifts flowed. However, we all share in the necessity of wise spending.

Jointly we all agreed to stop this gift-giving practice. Little did I realize how difficult this was going to be for me. Giving is what parents do.

How I miss shopping for the perfect gift just for them! I admit, I love to shop. The flip side is, it removes a lot of pressure for all us.

That, in turn, presents another difficult thing for me. The acceptance of gifts from others. It’s uncomfortable to be trained in how to be a gracious in receiver. It’s not natural.

This Christmas I received a small book from a friend. As I read through, I realized she had placed a sticky note with a message on it. Excitedly, I kept reading until I reached her note with an encouraging message.

I was certain it was just for me. But she confessed it was something that was meaningful to her, written years ago and had forgotten it was there.

Since I’ve started this writing thing, I take the written word more seriously now. Like the found sticky note, I feel like it is something meant for me directly from the writer.  I realized I had to be thankful for the author of the book too.  It came from his heart and was meant to impact the reader.

Thinking further, the Good Book came to mind. It carries a message from the author directly to the reader. The words in it are the gift of life. Yes, Jesus’s story, but how that story pulls us in until we become part of the message too.

Read it, absorb it into your life, love it, and then pass it on because it is a gift….Merry Christmas!

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.