An Easter to Remember

20200411_190602                                                                                           © jb katke 

Considering we are still in lockdown because of the coronavirus, this year will be remembered.

We fondly look back at previous years, when new clothes were purchased to wear to church. Eggs were hardboiled and ready to dye. Festive baskets came out filled with chocolate and marshmallow bunnies. Some families hid the eggs for children to hunt down.

But this year? Our new outfit consists of a face mask. Churches are closed but providing services online for us to watch at home. No doubt many things will be traced back to ‘the year of the lockdown.’

I’m certain too, that in nine months or so we will witness another baby boom. The country will be ready for new life.

Spring time reeks new life. Our lawns come back from dormancy, the flower bulbs start to make their presence known. Gardeners are poring over their seed catalog, designing their new flower beds. After a long cold winter, the greenery of new life is always a welcome sight.

I heard a speaker recently. While gardening was not the subject matter but an analogy was used of a simple seed. We walked through the growth of a seed. When put in the ground, providing the seed has been properly nourished, will grow. But looks radically different. The seed breaks and dies in order to be transformed into a new and different life.

The message was timely. At Easter thoughts turn to Jesus. His life of helping and encouraging others is spoken of with admiration. We hear about a solid week of false accusations, imprisonment, mockery, an unjust court trial, and beating. All leading to his brutal death on a cross.

I’ve heard this story on many Easters. What I find astounding is he intentionally left heaven to make certain these events would take place. Why?

Because he also knew what would happen afterward.  Jesus didn’t stay on the cross. He didn’t even stay in his tomb. His earthly body was broken and dead. But he rose again to a new life.

He wants us to have that same opportunity.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by belieiving in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point his finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…                     John 3:16 The Message

Jesus returned to heaven to be at his dads’ side. Because of him you and I have the same opportunity. If we consider Jesus our friend,  we try to follow his direction on how to live. After he left, Jesus even sent a helper for mankind to make it easier for us.

In your remembering today, I hope you remember Jesus and what he did with us in mind.

That gives us reason to celebrate wherever we are, even in this pandemic crisis. Will this be the year your life is transformed to a new and better life?

Happy Resurrection day!

 

 

Just One Word

20200215_162627

 

 

 

© jb katke

 

https://youtu.be/7lfaSmDxVZQ

How are you doing on your New Years resolution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Grandma

20200209_154330“A stainless steel colander? Don’t you think that’s asking too much?

So said Grandma Andrews. She had a way of letting me know how she felt.

Our conversation revolved around the requests in my bridal registry shortly after my engagement. For starters, JL Hudson was the only store that offered a registry for soon-to-be couples. Secondly, it was a high end department store. They didn’t sell junk.                                        © jb katke

My husbands’ grandmother claimed I didn’t ask enough on my registry. Some grandmas you just can’t please.

This time every year I think of my grandma. Her birthday was on Valentine’s Day. I think of her whenever I use my colander too.

Grandma Andrews was a practical lady. She lived through the Depression and knew how to make do. She had a plastic colander from the early days of plastic. Hers got a little too close to the heat from the stove and bore a melted souvenir from the experience. But it still worked.

Her home was always meticulous. She even washed her walls. I recall she had a coal furnace when I was very little, and over the long Michigan winters it would leave a residue on the walls. Hence, spring cleaning.

After I was married she asked me, “Do you get on your hands and knees when washing the floor?”

“No Grandma I don’t.”

I considered myself more modern than that. There are mops that make that unnecessary. But I learned getting down on hands and knees does a better job. Likewise when I clean the woodwork. Grandma would be proud. However I do wait to make the effort worthwhile.

I wish I had gotten to know grandma better, I think I could have learned much from her. She wasn’t the talkative sort and I never questioned her past. Too bad for me. You can understand why people are the way they are if you have a sense of what they experienced.

I do know she loved baseball. And she had what I call a British sense of humor. During the Christmas season a popular song, Jingle Bells, came out sung by a clucking chicken. Grandma said it was a fowl song. Her favorite was The Little Drummer Boy.

All this is a distant memory now, my colander is going on fifty years old.  Grandma would probably flip if she knew my kitchen now sports a second smaller colander. Yep, it’s stainless steel too.

Is There a Good Mad?

 

20200103_142146 © JBKatke

The question is can I hold the mad…for a year?

The house is officially dedecked from Christmas. Except for the few items that got overlooked in the packing.  Unintentional tradition reigns.

What I don’t understand is why I had so much trouble packing things away. I had bought nothing extra, but somehow couldn’t get things packed back into the box they came from. What’s with that?

Each year I enjoy hauling the décor out that I haven’t seen in a year. It’s fun to transition the house to be festive. Memories are relived. The ornaments family members have made, the ones grandpa used to painstakingly place over lights so they would spin.

Packing the stuff away again finds me in the no fun zone. The box I thought I had for my nutcracker was missing. I like for him to be protected in storage. This year my little guy is going to fend for himself to stay presentable for next year.

I had boxes and bins everywhere and nothing seemed to fit in them. Frustration led me to anger. This should not be happening. My husband wisely kept his distance from me until it was time to stow the goods away.

“Look, they fit in the space just fine.”

That is not the point. I’m supposed to be getting rid of stuff.

“How come it’s taking more boxes than ever to get them put away?”

I’m furious. Next year I must be ruthless. Somehow ruthless doesn’t blend with a season of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

Some people can hold onto a good mad for a lifetime. I can’t recommend that, it’s wearing a perpetual chip on your shoulder that permeates everything and everyone around you. That is a real no fun zone.

Instead I aim to learn from this experience, like decorating with large objects. It’s too easy to overlook small things hanging here and there around the house. I’m not going to ask why God brought all this stuff under my roof either. He didn’t, he just allowed it.

That puts the ball back in my court to graciously let go of stuff that adds nothing but stress. I prefer my life not have room for anger, but to be filled with Jesus’ positive energy. With his help I can do this

Stolen Christmases

20191209_085838

Today I’m burying the Grinch. May he never rear his ugly head again.

He has stolen too many of my Christmases and I’ve had enough.

I’m not speaking of the beloved Grinch we love to hate each Christmas season. I’m speaking of my own personal demon Grinch. Like the famous Grinch, mine is green too, I suspect envy.

Dr Seuss wrote the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and I am amazed how much the two Grinches have in common. My Grinch also hates Christmas, doing everything he can to make mine miserable. But it doesn’t end there. Like the Grinch in the book, he can’t tolerate happiness of any sort, only my Grinch has no heart at all.

Each miserable Christmas I would come to realize my poor attitude and feel shame. Too late I would reach the point of what Christmas is truly about.

The sad fact is I gave my Grinch permission to be a demon in my life. It was so unnecessary. For no reason I allowed this Grinch to ruin my disposition. Our home wore the décor, but it was a façade. My heart wasn’t there.

The holiday season can be painful if a beloved family member has died, but that wasn’t my case. I don’t have the fear of a family member in the military serving overseas in a dangerous country.

I believe my situation is shared by many. The season of celebration isn’t what it used to be. Through the years our family has spread across the country and now reside far from each other. Through no fault of our own, life just takes us places. Now there is no one to ‘do’ for.

Our children are no longer children. All of them are living responsible adult lives as they were taught. I’m proud of them. Even the grandchildren are adults, more pride added. We have been promoted to great-grandparenthood, but again, distance comes between us…I’m not alone. There are others.

It’s inexcusable to be distraught over not having to fight the maddening crowds Christmas shopping. We no longer exchange gifts, so are spared the concerns. Would she like this, or does he need that? I confess it’s hard not to buy for those I love. Likewise I shouldn’t miss baking Christmas cookies. We don’t need all the calories.

The time for a wake up call is now. Are we not celebrating the birth of our Savior? He’s the ideal gift. He’s needed, one size fits all, plus he doesn’t require wrapping. No shipping costs either. Didn’t he come to take away all the hurt this world dishes out?                        A gift doesn’t get more perfect than that.

This year I’m looking forward, not back. I can recall past Christmases with fond memories as long as I return my gaze to what Jesus will be doing in the future. Both in my own life and those around me. I’m convinced that is why God placed eyes on the front of our head, not the back.

Merry Christmas!

Too Many Toys

20191209_091058

 

 

 

 

 

My husband had enough.

Begging was wasted breath. Rewards meant nothing. Bribery didn’t work, and neither did grounding. Grounding I learned, is never a good idea. It punishes the stay-at-home parent. AKA me.

Clearly our children’s concept of a clean room differed from ours. They threw things in the closet and stowed as much as possible under the bed. Leftovers were designated to line the walls. On the plus side, we never worried about a bed collapsing. Their ‘cleaning’ took all day. As buried treasures surfaced, they played.

I’m not sure if it was frustration or tired of hearing my ranting. But desperate times called for desperate measures in getting the kids to pick up their toys. Out came the leaf rake.

At the end of the day, so-called cleaning done, their dad raked what was left into the middle of the floor. It was deposited into a box. If the kids wanted them back it was going to cost them. Prices ranged from a penny to a nickel.

Who Is Learning A Lesson Here?

Eventually there were no more purchases. What’s with that? They didn’t care whether they got the rest back or not. The excess toys were unnecessary. By all appearances we all had something to learn.

Good Intentions Are Not Always Good

When Christmas or a birthday rolled around, we went overboard in gifts. The Grandparents hearts held more than their wallets, unable to give as much as they wanted. They lavished love for our children. It’s what money can’t buy, doesn’t need wrapping and takes up no space.

All we wanted to do was give our children good memories. Too many gifts multiplied by three children gave new meaning to a well-rounded Christmas tree. We have learned.

That’s the problem with parenting. By the time we learn how to do it right, the children are grown and the damage is done. We’ll do better with the grandchildren, we’ve got this.

Wait a minute, grandparent play by a different rule book, don’t they?

Minimalist In The Making

Family pictures are precious, and displaying them made conversation when visitors came. The down side is dusting them. I generally save housework to make it worth all the effort. Memories have a way of accumulating like dust bunnies under the bed.

I needed to sort through them, and enlisted my husband to help in this decision-making nightmare. He was no help.

“Why are you asking me, I’m not the decorator here?”

Determination Spilled In

A memory came over me of my childhood closet. My parents home was circa 1920’s when storage was wanting. My closet doubled as a pint-size attic. It’s contents were listing into my clothes.

A fit of determination spilled over me as I proceeded to clean it out. How can a young girl determine to save or pitch what took her folks a lifetime to accumulate? It can’t be done. So it all went back.

This Stuff Was Our Stuff

20190923_142916

I was determined to flush something out.

“What should we do with this picture Aunt Vic painted, whom we have never met?”

One thing in my favor was our open floor plan that gave us few walls to work with. Did I love this picture enough to dust it forever? Nope.

One decision seems to hinge on another though. Is this the way I’m going to keep my furniture arrangement? Where is the dart board going to hang downstairs?

“I’d like a mantle size shelf over the bed so I can ….” You get the idea.

“I’d like to put my wood hanger collection in the bathroom. Where are they anyway? I wish we could locate the box they got packed in. What would be helpful is to have a large case on wheels that would house the keeper pictures that aren’t on display. Where could we keep that?”

Round and round she goes, where she ends, nobody knows.

 

 

Moonwalk Memories

Do you recall where you were on the 20th of July, 1969?

Thunder Moon July 2019

If you need some help, that day went down in the history of mankind for the American astronauts landing and walking on the moon. The news stations talked of nothing else it seems.

Turning downhill

My grandmother came over to see it with us. That’s when this momentous day took a turn downhill. We had two televisions, both tuned in, so whichever room we were in, nothing would be missed. Unfortunately, when the landing took place, Mom, Dad, and myself happened to be in one room, leaving Grandma in the other room by herself. It wasn’t deliberate by any means.

But Grandma was offended. Big time. She marched into the room we were in, tossing her words< “If I wanted to watch this alone, I would have stayed home!: With that she stormed out of the house, making a beeline down the path to her home next door.

Needless to say, Dad went scrambling after her. Completely ruining the moment in my eyes. Every once in awhile Grandma showed us her drama queen tendencies.

There Comes a Time

But I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on her. There comes a time when we all need a little companionship. Grandma had lost her husband, seemingly lost her daughter due to mental issues, and considered her son (my dad) gone too. There was another woman (my mom). Even though she lived next door and could keep tabs on him. She was good at that. She was lonely, as though she had no one to live for. That can be an empty feeling. We never know what is going on in another persons life. But we can exercise our patience and mercy muscle-just as God does with each of us.