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.

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.

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?

 

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.

A Thanksgiving of Gratitude

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© jb katke

Thankful! Are you kidding me?

Need I remind you this is 2020? The year of have nots.

Worldwide people have suffered the loss of a loved one. Business owners have closed their doors for good. Hospitals are full capacity. Churches were forbidden to hold services to their community. There’s more, but you’re capable of filling in the rest.

Some find it astounding that the sun rises to another new day. Where is the hope?

We have been forced to look at life differently. Instead of gazing back at what used to be, we must look at the way things are now.

Perhaps the hope is in ourselves. If you are still breathing, you have survived thus far. That is an accomplishment. Where there is breathe, there is hope. Now is the time to acknowledge what we still have.

Doctors and grocery stores still exist. Online shopping has become the norm.

Organizations have rallied to the call of need, helping any way they can. Neighbors have opened their doors to each other, looking in to see if all is well. It’s what America does.

With schools closed, teachers have made themselves available to continue educating students. Time invested in others is never wasted time.

Churches have opened to technology and encourage online listeners that God is still God. He knows and cares what is happening in our lives. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Families have turned inward and reconnected to each other in creative ways. For the elderly, visits are through a window, reminding them they are loved. That’s what love looks like.

Home may feel like a prison, but it also is a refuge from harsh realities. Not everyone has a place to hunker down in, if you do, consider yourself rich.

Listening to the news is optional, many feel better without it. I’m not encouraging putting your head in a hole, but sift truth from falsehoods. You can still think for yourself.

One of the many things I am grateful for is you. Some may think I harp on a religious platform. No, what I share with you is my life, things I have found to be true. Stuff you won’t likely hear from anywhere else.  Thank you for your time and interest in these words I share.

During this ongoing pandemic, I hope you can find some nuggets of hope this Thanksgiving.   Maybe even give some encouragement to others. It’s what we are here for.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Questionable Gift

Gift

The following story is fiction. Or maybe not.

Chads dad reached across the vast table to hand him his gift. Instead, Chad just looked at the package.

Time stood still.

Could this be what he had been longing for all his life? Chad kept his wishes to himself. Only because he was always modifying what he was hoping for.

Could dad automatically know what I want? What I despearately need and can’t find the words to express?

His hearts desire was based upon his mood so there was no telling if this package held it.

Should he take it? Accepting this gift had the potential to make or break his heart. He felt his whole future would forever be impacted. Was it worth the risk?

Chads mind drifted off to a million different disappointments.

What about your promise? Dad was going to give us the vacation of a lifetime, then mom got sick, squelching our plans. She died. Not one for goodbyes, her last words to me, “I’ll see ya later.” Did she know something I didn’t? I miss her so much ‘cuz she made up for the lack of dad.

Chads dad was a professor with many of his teaching assignments worldwide. He explained that it was a benefit to the students for him to go to them, because they weren’t able to come to him. Yeah, whatever.

I know he loves me. He was forever sending little gifts to let me know he was thinking of me. Some of them were neat, but others made me wonder what he was thinking. Like what was up with the book on American Indians? He knows I’m not into books. Besides its history, who cares what life was like back then? This is now.

Chads head swirled with what ifs…?

His dad set the gift in front of him. He had to deal with it. Others were watching, waiting for his response. The pressure was intense.

Taking a closer look at the package, Chad recognized the wrap. He’d seen it before.

Good old mom, waste not want not, seemed to be her theme in life.

Why dispose of perfectly good wrapping paper that can be reused at a later time.

The time was now. Seizing the moment he took the gift. Being incredibly right is a weird feeling, it did change life as he knew it.

This scene is played out on a daily basis. Different people in various places, even the circumstances aren’t the same. But the same gift of accepting Jesus’ love is offered time and again.

We all know love expressed comes in many forms, but a healthy love always wants what is best and there is nothing’ bester’ than Jesus’ love.

Chad hit the nail on the head, his choice did affect the future, not just in the here and now, but for all eternity. I believe people are watching, both from above and the ones around us.

By the way, the change in us is for the better. The Good Book gets dusted off, language is tidied up, behavior upgrades, and the rewards are supersized beyond imagination.

Life cerealRemember the commercial from long ago for the new Life cereal? Siblings place the cereal in front of Mikey to try, and he liked it!

This life is new, but Mikey and Chad liked it and you will too.

Balloon Daze

20200612_195001       © jb katke

Hot air balloons drift through my mind. Three of them floated over our home recently.

The thought of being carried by the wind, and the birds eye view, entice me. Maybe it’s the sheer size of them, or being so colorful. Whatever it is, I love them.

Whenever I see one anymore it reminds me of the time I pierced my sons’ eardrums. Poor Jamie. Several years ago we were chatting on the telephone. Having a cordless phone gave me the freedom to walk around the house.

I casually strolled into the office and opened the window blinds.

(Humor me. Hold both your hands close to your face, but not touching. Can’t see too much can you?)

When I opened those blinds all I could see were massive stripes.

“Oh my gosh!”

A hot air balloon landed in our front yard. It was a bit of a miracle because of the two large oak trees on both sides of the house. The balloon filled the entire gap.

If I hadn’t opened those blinds I would have missed the whole scene. And Jamie might have his full hearing today!

Blinds shield too much sun and offer privacy at night. Blinders on horses keep them from being distracted.

But what about the blinders we wear on a regular basis that keep us from seeing reality, the big picture? We may have less compassion for others and potentially lose an opportunity to make a difference in life.

If Edison hadn’t acknowledged the need for light, we would still be in the dark after sunset. If a person hadn’t wanted to cross a body of water, rafts and boats wouldn’t have come to be. Pioneers felt there must be a better way to travel, hence trains. You get the idea.

Need I even mention counselors and therapists to aid in both mental and physical capacities? Churches offer hope in hard times, plant seeds of trust and strengthen all the time. IF we approach them with an open heart.

Ugghhh…sounds too much like welcoming change! It is, for the better.

 

 

 

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.

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.