Irrefuedable Words

The question:

“Name an occupation whose men should show more respect to women.”

This, from a television game show favorite at our house, Family Feud, hosted by comedian Steve Harvey. The gist of the game is two families consisting of five members, to answer questions that would match the answers of surveyed people.

The answers can range from sensible to ridiculous, and it’s anyone’s guess what might actually match in the effort to win cash, ultimately a car if a family wins five games. Each player takes turns. If they come up with a wrong answer three times, the question moves to the opposing family. The ‘correct’ answers can be from four to eight words, depending on the top responses from the survey.

The down side of the game, sometimes the contestants are made a mockery. I don’t enjoy seeing others being played a fool. I suppose that is what keeps the viewers and ratings up.

This question is from season twenty-three, episode four. The winning family went home with several thousand dollars and a car. Not a bad days work, if you want to call it work.

You might be interested in the answers.

They are as follows:

Lawyers, military, and teachers. These were all the ‘wrong’ answers. Some of you might argue that.

Here are the correct answers:

Construction workers, politicians, entertainment/news people, doctors, police officers, and professional athletes.

This question in particular struck a nerve with me, thinking it might generate some conversation. How would you answer the question?

We come from various backgrounds and experiences. I have been on the receiving end of a lack of respect. Two of which were not even mentioned, a boss and a car salesman-it’s a no fun zone.

It will be interesting in hear your thoughts. In any case, our experiences are real and leave an impact. I have to agree with my writing coach, words do matter, whether you are trying to win a game or give a little encouragement to a hurting soul. It all leaves an impact.

Pro Choice

The irony of it all, as we recently honored mothers. Am I the only one who sees it?

The news is focused on the Roe v Wade discussion in the Supreme Court. Opinions are heartfelt. As a swinging door goes both ways, so goes public opinion. It is a highly emotional issue.

Mother’s Day. That too, can be an emotional roller coaster. Some women dread it, desiring a child, but the choice is out of their hands. Others regret the day they gave birth, delivering the infant to an adoption agency asap.

Women come from any variety of experiences landing somewhere in between. Can we agree life can be hard? Either direction you lean, has the potential for a life of regret. What appears to be right today, tomorrow could feel so wrong. 

Some of my regrets are not of my own making. Decisions were made without my input that impacted my life. It’s a surefire recipe for discontentment to take up residence if f I dwell on it too long. Today I was almost there. It breaks my heart.

To go down that path is an exercise in futility. One cannot change the past. The healthiest thing for me to do is take life where I am at and move forward. I have a choice in where my thoughts take me. Wrong thoughts can lead to destructive actions. 

It brings the nameless woman to mind.

The story goes, that a woman was hauled into church on a day of worship. Thrust before Jesus, her wrongs were aired for all to hear. Prostitution. Back in the day there were laws against such a thing, worthy of a death sentence. Single women of that era had few career choices in how to make a living.

The religious leaders were daring Jesus, whose mission offered hope, to do away with her. Caught red-handed, she deserved it. Instead, Jesus did the fair thing. He turned the tables onto her accusers-instructing the one who had never sinned, and lived by the book of the law to cast the first stone in murdering her.

Can you feel her terror? Her life was in the hands of others, she had no choice in the matter. Quietly, Jesus waited, writing a message in the sand. One after the other, they left the scene. Jesus inquired, “Where are your accusers, has no seen to it that you get what you what you have coming to you?”

“No sir, they all have left.”

Jesus’ response was unbelievable. “Well, I am not going to see to your death either. You go too, and don’t sin anymore” You can read it for yourself in the Good Book, in the first part of John 8.

How I would love to know the path this woman took to live differently. That message in the sand too, what did Jesus write? Did the men leave because they knew their life wasn’t sin-free? Or was the message in the sand directed to them? Inquiring minds want to know. The Good Book only reveals what we need to know. Maybe, we too, should wait quietly and see what Jesus is going to do in the situation. He loves fairness, whether we deserve it or not.

Great Beginnings

© jb katke

I’ve been here before, but each revisit becomes a little more serious. More intentional.

Another garage sale season is coming upon us. Even though I say ‘never again,’ I find myself doing it again. They are so much work! Can I get an Amen?

We have an antique chair from Grandma Andrews house. A no longer needed area rug. Clothes too big; can’t say they are mine darn it. And that blasted quilt room I practically never enter anymore. It’s become a cesspool of excess everything.

I feverishly worked at yet another purge. My fabric is stored on those cardboard bolts that the fabric stores use. After emptying fourteen of them I felt good about myself. Never mind the room looks like a hot mess. Bins, bolts, and fabric strewn everywhere. Apparently people are right, I have enough fabric to open a store.

Now I can put the fabric that was in storage bins on these empty bolts and be rid of the bins. With room to spare…ha! I did empty a bin, but now my shelves are bursting again and I haven’t even gotten to the bin downstairs.

Enough of this nonsense. Clear the ironing board so you can at least get the ironing done. Only to learn a button is missing from a pants pocket. That led me to scrounging in the button box. One would think that having close to a bazillion buttons, I could easily find one that matches. Another ha!

Mission accomplished after my husband tells me he never buttons that pocket. How many times must one set out on a project, get distracted by another, and give up because it’s a hopeless mess?

Life is like my quilt room; it never seems to be what I think it should. I can rise out of bed, full of ambition, and get side-tracked so easily. Or maybe reality sets in. Do you sometimes feel like a hopeless hot mess?

An alarming realization came to mind. Today, right here, right now, could be where Jesus wants to meet with you. If you are down so low that all you can do is look up. Look up to him. He doesn’t want us to stay down low, but he does want us to see him in our mess. That is the coolest thing, he meets us right where we are at.

Like a box full of useless buttons, a life without Jesus is a side-track of the here and now. That is a dangerous place to be. Moving out of this life, is moving on to another. Let him purge out all the excess baggage in your heart so there is room for him. It will feel so good, and you will be ready to live in the mansion he’s prepping just for you.

A Love Life

© jb katke

Silly me, I thought I was over it. But not so.

 My friend invited me to a quilt show recently; only to learn I continue to love fabric and quilts. A vast array of finished quilts were on display for us to ogle. Finished, what a concept! That alone was worthy of admiration. I fall short in the completion process.

So much beauty in one room dazzled me as we meandered up one row and down the other. We visitors were to select a favorite from each size range; as if I were any expert. That is when my rebellious side makes an appearance. I can’t select just one; I wrote down all my favs. The judges can sort out winners; there were so many in my mind’s eye.

There was a day I considered myself a quilter. A season in life that never quite lived up to my expectations. Hence, a fair amount of frustration came out of my quilt room. My dearly beloved, Dave, always said I was too hard on me.

Do you ever get disappointed at yourself? It’s a genuine no-fun zone. This world offers so much to fall in love with, too many to mention. What comes to your own mind as you read these words may be true in your life. The thing is in time it will probably come short of your expectations, just as my quilting did for me.

The problem is twofold; nothing on earth lasts forever. The other is it takes your mind off really important things. Like a life after death. Its real. Whether in agreement or not, I say that with confidence because scripture says so. I have yet to see where anything in the Good Book is false.

Today, I patch words together instead of fabric pieces. It too, is a lot of work, but find myself at greater peace. The difference is a contrast between what I wanted to excel at versus the direction Jesus was leading me. Need I mention he carries more weight in decision-making?

Not long ago I heard a speaker making a point of how easily a person can get wrapped up in their own desires that they become ‘deaf’ to the importance of an afterlife. For too many years I could relate.

Years of church-going has enlightened me. It’s a unique place to go hear truth spoken; a refreshing place that gives generous doses of encouragement. While so much of the world is at odds, with other countries, within our own fifty states, down to our schools, even neighbors who may disagree. We don’t have to look far to recognize war time.

Spoiler alert. God wins! I urge you to hear what Jesus’ dad has to say about life. It is both scary and full of hope at the same time. Well worth the time to read for yourself.

Mrs. Astors Plush Horse

Easter Sunday I dressed up fancy-like. I felt like Mrs. Astor’s plush horse.

Who on earth is Mrs. Astor, and what is a plush horse? I can recall my mom verbalizing this idiom. Seeking to find the history behind it, I learned Mrs. Astor was a New York socialite. A monied one; her husband, William Backhouse Jr was a successful horse breeder.

The Mrs. was known for her extravagant dinner parties; formal dress always a prerequisite. From there, the story gets a little wild. Rumor has it that she put on a dinner party for animals and they all came adorned in the fancy dress of the day. Needless to say, she looked like a fool.

Since COVID has entered our lives, I have been living on the casual side. On Sunday I felt overdressed. Upon entering the church, I encounter a friend, “Oh my goodness, you have knees!”

I felt like a fool.

But why? I know folks who think church-going is unnecessary. Foolish even, given the whole joint is full of imperfect people. Why not look the part? Put on some fancy clothes so others will think we have life all figured out.

That is where my story takes on a wild side. Imperfection is the very reason church-goers go. We know we don’t have life figured out, but we also know who does. Jesus doesn’t care what clothes we wear; he cares about where our heart is.

Back up.

Maybe he does somewhat care about our wardrobe; knowing some attire draws unsavory people to our circle. Unlike Mrs. Astors dinner parties, there is no mandatory attire in church attendance. Jesus prefers those who don’t put themselves on display. From what I have read in the Good Book, he is especially drawn to  those who don’t have high self-esteem.

One of Jesus’ specialties is transforming a nobody into a person of influence. Nothing can impact others like witnessing a changed life. Better yet, is experiencing a changed life. Rarely do I take sermon notes, but this one hit me between the eyes. The pastor shared, “Sometimes the best way to believe the impossible is to experience the impossible.”

Hmmm, there is food for thought. Easter commemorates the impossible that happened. At the ripe old age of thirty-three, Jesus died for something he had no part of. By the reports I’ve read in the Good Book, he arrived on earth in a supernatural way. He was God’s son, but referred himself as the Son of Man; he chose to be identified as both. Perfect, but human.

There is an oxymoron for you. Not everyone buys into the ‘God is love’ story; a  choice only you can make. Regardless of your stance, Jesus did the impossible and rose from the dead. A change of heart can give you the same experience, rising to a new eternal life. If a perfect living sounds good to you, it’s a heart turned to Jesus that is a prerequisite.

It’s a come as you are party, but I recommend adding a seatbelt to your wardrobe. The places God takes you will be an adventure!

The Letter

 © jb katke

“I wonder how Easter got started anyway?” The question came from one of my co-workers that haunts me to this day. My mind responded, but nothing came out of my mouth. Much later, having this recurring question stalking me, I responded to her by letter. I don’t know if she ever received it.

Not having her address, I sent it in care of the company. It may have been too late. My position was eliminated; thus, losing the job I loved.  Had she gone on to other things too?

Even though I had included my address; possibly my phone number too, if she wanted to talk with me. No response came. I’d like to think she got it, because much thought went into what I wrote.

First off, I clarified that Easter has nothing to do with bonnets, bunnies, or baskets full of candy and colored eggs. I can say that with certainty because I’ve done my homework. Researching the Good Book, I read about how it came to be.

It started way before our time, before even the day God’s son Jesus walked the earth. Jesus was a real people person kind of guy. He loved to tell others about where he came from and how mankind could go there too when they leave this earth. All folks had to do was believe in him and change their mindset.

You know how it can be with a know-it-all;  a warm welcome can be rare. That was how the religious leaders of the day felt. They wanted to tell people how to live and what to believe. The power, respect, and the revenue they got from it put them in a prestigious place.  

Jesus coming along, saying you don’t have to obey all these man-made rules the leaders came up with didn’t set well. Push came to shove; they decided the only way to stop Jesus was to kill him. Jesus became a prey, while the leaders waited until the time was right. Passover.

Passover is an annual Hebrew celebration, a time of remembrance when God spared the Jews from death. It took place in Egypt; where the Israelites were in slavery so long ago. God was about to perform a miracle. The Egyptians were going to lose their firstborn everything. Livestock, cattle…and their first child. This was the final straw in the many plagues Egypt endured, until they finally set the Hebrew nation free.

This death of the firstborn would include the Israelites too, unless they sacrificed a lamb and spread his blood over the door frame of their home. Fortunately, they took God seriously. The death angel only ‘visited’ homes unmarked. Hence, pass over. This all took place long before Jesus was born, but the tradition holds true.

So now, returning to Jesus. He was framed, captured, placed in a mock trial, brutally beaten beyond recognition, and eventually forced to carry his cross to be hung from. There, he died. Today we know that as Good Friday. Ironic, huh? Read on to see why it was good, the story continues.

Jesus’ body laid in rest in a borrowed tomb for three days. On day three, he rose from the dead. According to reports, others saw him alive and interacting with people. We call it Easter Sunday.

Even today, that is not the end of the story.

Here is the kicker, Jesus knew what events would take place all along,  So then, why did he come?

Remember my mentioning that he was telling all sorts of people they could go where he came from?  He knew folks could not get to heaven under their own power, it’s the home of a holy God. People are too full of wrong-doing; the Good Book calls it sin. The only way that was possible was for him, God’s only son, to die with bloodshed. Taking on the world-wide sin on his own shoulders; sacrificing his life like those innocent lambs from long ago whose blood was on the framework over the door.

Death was his mission in life. I have read Jesus did it with pure joy. The best way for me to wrap my head around that statement is to liken it to childbirth. For months this new body growing within is looked forward to with eager anticipation. Giving birth hurts like heck…but the joy in bearing a new life; it’s worth every painful moment!

Celebrating Easter is remembering what God did for the Israelites in slavery. To know that same God can today, perform a miracle for those who choose to believe. To be saved from the slavery of alcohol, drugs, prostitution…you name it. God is a miracle worker, freedom is available.

As I wrote this letter to my coworker, I realized this event recorded in the Good Book was God’s letter of explanation to anyone who would read it. To understand what Easter is all about and why it is so important. Where we go after leaving this earth is a vital concern.

I hope my friend got that letter. Every Easter I think of her. While this is a religious holiday, it applies to every man woman and child today throughout the world. What Jesus talked about then, still holds true if we just believe.

Happy Easter!

Addict or Fanatic?

 © jb katke

People in my circle may think I’m taking a stab at them. Not so. Confession time has come for me. There are probably more addictions than I can count, some worse than others. I hope mine isn’t as costly and heartbreaking as the few I’ve listed.

Drinking and cigarettes are socially acceptable. Both are life-shortening. Once hooked, it’s tough trying to stop. If you are a smoker trying to quit, don’t give up. Having seen people in their last days of life due to smoking, let me assure you it is not pretty. I have noticed cigarettes are new and improved. Back in the day, it was obvious when a smoker was nearby. There was no denying the scent they emitted.

Drinking is not so lucky, it still smells. It too, is hard to strop. I’ve visited with folks who have been on the receiving end of drinkers turning mean under the influence. Often professionals are called to defend a spouse or children.

Ditto the drug users. The life they destroy is more than just their own.  For families it’s an ache that never goes away; making birthdays and holidays haunted by the MIA relative.

My addiction is watching the home improvement shows on TV. There was a time seeing upgrades I never thought about, made my home seem lacking.  Except for a couple things I won’t bore you with, I’m content. It’s hard to wean yourself off this stuff when your husband has been a remodeler for so many years. He knows how to do just about everything, and nothing pleases him more than pleasing me.

Do you see my point in how our addictions do sift down to those around us?

Sadly, (?) more shows come to my attention. Our DVR is full of them. One noticeable thing; homeowners are over the moon happy with the new renovation. Really? Just once, I’d like to see them at the unveiling of a fixer upper and say, “I hate it, what have you done with my house?”

I wonder if there are that many people needing a home reno, or turn to these professional stars to get on national television? I have noted there are a lot of people with poor taste. Mid-century modern is all the rage;  but not my cup of tea. Do they truly like it or just want what is trending? Inquiring minds need to know.

Looking at my own home, trying to put a label on what I live with. Nothing modern. Some traditional, more than a few antiques, some nicely broke in. Mom called it early attic. Admittedly, my home might take on the look of Grandma’s house, but it’s comfortable, and I am a Grams. One heartbreaking thing; I don’t think the kids will want anything when I move heavenward.

When I get to heaven is gonna be out-of-sight, out-of-mind anyway. I’m thinking that place God is preparing for me is my heart; getting prepped for meeting him. I consider that a renovation that will be divinely perfect. My new place will be peaceful, beautiful, full of warmth, lots of loved ones; and the best part is getting to hang around with our Creator.  

There will be work too. Does that surprise you? It will involve doing what we love, so it won’t feel like ‘work’ and it will be honorable to God.

The Good Book says we well be eating there too/ Right now, cooking is not in my heart. I can only hope a kitchen isn’t in my heavenly home. Let someone with a heart big enough to hold a kitchen have it, I only like to eat. Or maybe my heart renovation will want a kitchen. He does change hearts; I’ll have to wait and see.

Bring on the Smiles

© jb katke

What makes you smile?

Any number of things can bring one on. Babies, helping others, special people, a favorite TV show, a hobby, if you enjoy your job, even work can instigate a smile.

In a recent visit to my local grocer, I brought a smile to a lady without even trying. We were standing in the checkout lane; the cashier very slowly was ringing up the customer of the woman ahead of her. The cashier was far more interested in conversation than doing her job.

The shopper in front of me turned, sighing and giving me an eye roll. Understanding how she felt, I couldn’t resist asking is she had ever visited another discount store in our area. “Yes, I have.”

“Then you know how fast they ring up your bill, this cashier would never make it working there.” She laughingly agreed.

Spurred on by her friendliness, I commented, “I don’t like these self-checkouts that everyone seems to be getting. I think if they want me to ring up and bag my own purchases; the manager needs to put me on his payroll.”

Again, laughing, “You’re funny! You should be a comedian.”

I doubt that, I only have one joke in my repertoire. Things in life can make me see the humor in them, although it may take a while. Recently, in the course of doing laundry I made a big boo-boo. Using the large bottle of detergent can be too heavy for me; I kept a smaller bottle that I routinely refill. Such was the case when I added more detergent. I think this is detergent, I should have checked the bottle before just dumping it in. Girl, have more confidence in yourself, you know what you’re doing.

After I filled it (of course) I peeked at the label. Yep, I put fabric softener in the laundry detergent bottle. Both of the bottles are white, making confusion easy if one is not paying attention.. Because I was raised in an economical home I found a way to use the mixture anyway. Let me know if you need my ‘recipe.’

Getting back to my grocery story; emboldened still more, I shared, “God is so good, you know through all these hard times, we have not wanted for anything.” She nodded in agreement, “you’re right, I haven’t either.”

Eventually both I and my new friend ahead of me got checked out. Each of us walking to our vehicles, “Thank you for making my day lighter,”

It was nothing, really. To bring a little joy in someone’s life doesn’t hurt at all. It can make or break a day. Nest time you are out, give it shot, what do you have to lose…except looking foolish? You’ll get used to it, I did.

Dream On

Are you a dreamer? I’m not speaking of future hopes, but when asleep; do you have dreams? For the most part my dearly beloved doesn’t. The few times he has, he tries very hard to remember them to tell me; but alas, by the time morning comes the dream is gone.

I, on the other hand, have them more frequently than Dave. Mine are considerable longer, very detailed, and memorable. None of them make any sense. I wish I could understand where they come from and if there is any meaning to them.

To name a couple; I had a dream back when Dave and I were dating. I still remember it. I was on some sort of game show; it might have been Lets Make A Deal, because I had a choice of three doors. I think I opted for door number 3, and it was a whopper. I won seven tons of cat food. The dream alone was foolish, but at that time, I had lost my dear cat Boots. He came by his name rightfully; a black tomcat, with four white feet. He was a big boy and a marshmallow at heart. Boots took a liking to one of my slips. When I left it out, he would jump at the opportunity to massage his claws in it and suck as if he were nursing from his momma. He was so well-fed that, when laying out in the sunshine, the blue jays would dive bomb him. He didn’t care. If he had not died, I could have fed him, and every other cat in the state of Michigan for life.

A more recent dream placed me where I am today, the community of Asbury. A couple old ladies uninvited, barged in our home, don’t ask me where they came from, I haven’t a clue. But they completely took over, getting rid of our furnishings. I mean completely; no counters,  cabinets, sinks, appliances, all was removed! They had few things of their own, mostly clothes; and refusing to leave. I screamed. I yelled. I ranted and raved. All to no avail. They would just nonchalantly move into another room in the house to get away from me. If you knew these homes; they pretty much have an escape route in any given room. And Dave? He just shrugged his shoulders, saying we should just make the best of the situation. Excuse me? Yes, I was more than a little mad. So mad I woke up realizing it was just a dream. Except for our clutter, our home was all in place. The least these little old ladies could do is clean up a little bit. Can I dream of that? Nooo.

Dreams run as far back as time exists. I’ve read in the Good Book of Joseph’s dream of future greatness. That didn’t set well with his siblings. Ultimately, he did reach a life of greatness, but the crap he had to go through to get there…no thank you. If you want to read it yourself, you’ll find it in Genesis chapters 37-47. Sorta lengthy, but a roller coaster of a read. In that true story you will read how Joseph also had the ability to interpret dreams. It bode well for one guy, not so much for the other, including a kings dream and the fate of a nation. Ya can’t make this stuff up.

Maybe this recent dream stemmed from the horror of Ukraine our TV brings into our family room. Dreams, whether of future wishes or via our sleep can become a living nightmare that we never imagined. Now that I think about it, maybe I don’t want to know what my dreams mean.

Whatever our future holds, the Good Lord will see us through it if we ask him to.  

It’s A Good Day…

…waking up in the morning and nothing hurts. Not everyone can say that.

…when you can walk. Some people don’t have that luxury.

…that you have the convenience of a grocery store carrying everything you need. I have visited countries where that is not the case.

…to have employment that not only supports your family, but supplies you with a sense of worth. I cannot think of anything that matches the feeling of accomplishment.

…to love and be loved back. It provides a lifetime of memory-making that will astound those around you.

…paying bills without wondering where the money is going to come from. Twenty-twenty hindsight taught me it was a needless worry that only increases stress levels.

…eyes that can see. Some people are blind.

…vision. Its different than sight. Vision is looking ahead to desired goal. Too many feel their future is hopeless.

…friendships. To have a friend is to be a friend. I have been in a room full of people and felt alone. To reach out and get acquainted with someone can be a mind-expanding experience.

…the medical field. Whether it be mental health or physical, doctors and nurses have made it their life ambition to be of service to others. In other parts of the world, they are few and far between.

My words have all the makings for being preachy. That is not my intent; through my life, I have experienced the above. Where there is breath, there is hope. I wasted too many years taking these things for granted.

To go through life with any of the above situations is frightening. With all my heart, I want you to know that you don’t have to be alone. Not to suggest life will be easy. Sometimes we need to take one step at a time. It’s a process, the one that helps the most is the Lord.

I have heard of a young teen, having a swimming accident that left her a quadriplegic. She offers hope and encouragement to others in her position. How can she do that? There is a blind woman that sews quilts. How is that possible? I can’t answer either question. All I can tell you is what is. I will add a little spoiler alert. Jesus is coming back to gather his believers, and every eye will witness the event.

What I do know is when God’s son, Jesus, died on a cross, he sent a Comforter that helps us through those hard times. Relying on him to get you through the day is a life-changing experience. I urge you to give him a chance.

What Pictures Portray

 © jb katke

I don’t have enough fingers to count how many years, my husband Dave, and I went without a camera. During those years, we purchased several cameras for our children. It was on their wish list at Christmas time, and we parents do like to please our kids.

The problem was, they did not always take pictures of what we would. Hence, few memories to look back on. Birthdays, holidays, and some vacations went by undocumented. The beauty of photos is, they remind you of past events. Aside from their reaching adulthood, we have little to prove the kids really did grow up.

Those were the days prior to the cell phones we have today; I don’t have to list the attributes of these pocket phones; you know. Today people take pictures of their meal, as if it was important enough to look back on in years to come.

It’s been said that, ‘A picture can say a thousand words.’ Recently the two of us, along with our daughters family, visited a local exhibit, Auschwitz. It was a sobering experience to see the multitude of pictures displaying the evil mankind is capable of. Just inside the exit door of the exhibit was this above sign I share with you.

Pictures cannot lie. I can’t imagine anything worse than what these people endured. Yet here we are; with injustice happening again. Televisions are bringing in our living room the pictures of the devastation in Ukraine for the whole world to see. It is hard to comprehend.

What is even harder to grasp, is why the Lord is allowing this to happen. Who can know the mind of God? Based on what I have read in the Good Book, this is not a new thing. Wars and rumors of wars have been going on from the beginning of time. Power overcoming another.

It becomes a situation of survival of the fittest. I cannot see an end in sight. But I know it will eventually end because the Good Book says nothing on earth will last forever.  That can bring to mind the question, is there a world where things will last forever?

That I can answer. Yes. Referring to the Good Book again, we can read that the Lord has prepared a place for us to live eternally…if we want to. It has everything we yearn for now, peace, unity, contentment, love, good health, joy, and much more. We will want for nothing, but you have to desire what he has to offer.

What I am speaking of is God’s house. His place is like yours, in that, not everyone is allowed entry. Just as you would not desire for anyone evil to come in and ruin the aforementioned, or trash your home; the same goes with the Lord.  Try not to wait too long in deciding whether you want that or not, much can happen in the meantime.

In order to trust him, you gotta read what he promises; then hang your faith there. He has the final word and even tells us all become good in his time. The best is yet to be if we cling to him.

This, coming from a seasoned worrier; I have finally learned it accomplishes nothing.

A Day to Remember

 ©jb katke

Well folks, two, twenty-two, two thousand twenty-two is in our rear-view mirror. One that we will not live through again. Amen to that.

Did you do anything remarkable that day? I know it will not reach the infamy of the day John F Kennedy was assassinated or even anything the likes of walking on the moon. I did not set out to make it anything other than another day. Despite my good intention, it did stand out from the norm. Thank heavens not every day is like that one.

The day started out with my Tuesday morning Bible study. A hymn was recommended to look up. I shared a page from my songbook that includes a brief story of events that took place in the songwriters life, inspiring the song. It’s quite interesting and the ladies seemed to appreciate it.

On my way home, I stopped into Walmart to pick up a few grocery items. My choice is always to use a checkout where an actual person is ringing up my purchases. The management has instead chosen to make the row of cash registers a décor of bygone days. The only ones open are those the consumer has to man themselves. I hate that. If we customers are ringing up our own purchases and bagging them, we ought to either be put on the payroll or given an employee discount.

I finished my transaction only to find the can of peanuts that I missed in ringing things up. Immediately I find myself having to decide to forego the peanuts or ring up a second purchase. I realize there is a third option; to quickly exit the store without paying. I decided on option #2; the following explains why.  Cameras are everywhere. There is not a doubt in my mind that I would have been caught, detained by the police and most likely been taped for the television series of America’s Most Wanted. I didn’t have that kind of time. Besides which, I wanted to sleep that night, and you know…the Lord would know.

The day could have ended there. But nooo. I had a load of laundry to do. I use a smaller bottle of detergent to load into the washer because the bigger bottle is harder to handle pouring. Little bottle was nearing empty. No problem, I’ll just pour more from the bigger bottle. As I’m doing so, I got to thinking I should have made sure I picked up the right bottle, both detergent and fabric softener are white bottles. Girlfriend, you’re always doubling checking yourself. Show a little confidence, you know what you’re doing. I couldn’t resist, after filling my detergent I peeked at the big bottle. Yup, I poured fabric softener into the detergent bottle. I went to bed early that night before I could make any more memories.

Hope For Ever-After

A marriage conference is coming soon. Dave and I will not be going. If we haven’t figured out how to get along with each other after 50-plus years of marriage, it ain’t gonna happen. Fortunately, we have and are living in our ever-after years.

Or are you living in coexistence and feel those conferences only rock the boat? You’re at the point where it’s better to live and let live; neither of you willing to change, and this way no one gets hurt.

Consider this: marriage requires a license. It’s a document that confirms medical tests have been passed, no DNA issues will cause concern.

According to the Concise Oxford American Dictionary a license is issued by an authority to own, use, or do a particular thing. This covers a myriad of things:

  • Driver’s license, learning and obeying traffic laws. This keeps others safe from harm.
  • Liquor license, of age and with proper training. Including how to handle alcoholics from harming themselves and others.
  • Electrician’s license, must be trained and abide by state regulations. Making homes and businesses a safe environment.

           I have only named a few, but you get the idea. Safety from harm. I tie this to marriage because there is more that you may not have considered.. The paperwork is signed by witnesses that each party will be devoted to each other for life. Only death should break the contract.

Prior to death, breaking the contract can inflict harm.  I don’t have to elaborate on how, and I understand there are legitimate reasons for divorce. I merely want to consider that it is the death of a relationship. As with a natural death, it takes time to heal from the hurt and loss.

Among the many things we see on a daily basis, our Creator also designed relationship. With others and with him. He gives us free license to choose how we live, with or without him. He more than prefers to have a friendship with us, it is his heart’s desire. The fact is, he created us for a couple reasons; relationship and to tell others about him.

How can others be told if there is no relationship? It takes two people, each having a responsibility in maintaining it. I am here to tell you; our Creator always keeps his word. Refer to the Good Book to see what his part is. It is all good.

Some may argue that point. Life can hand out some hard things. I have cracked open the book a few times and have read things saying, ‘I have a plan for you, I will lead you, I will provide for you…’

I cannot begin to list them all. But I can say those things can happen in a supernatural way. Like any relationship, it requires faith, trust and yes, there is hope.

Enlightenment

When the wedding ceremony is over and the reality that two becomes one, enlightenment sets in. There is a ‘No duh’ statement for you. Within hours you’re in the world of couples, and some can look a lot different.

Shortly after my marriage, I came to know a lady I’ll refer to as Plain Jane; as that is how she saw herself.  According to her, the  love for her husband is real and when they married, all she wanted was for them to grow old together. As time went on though, it seems that was not enough. She found herself comparing her life with others, and in her eyes, fell short of the ideal.

“The two of us together were fine at first, but then I got to wanting a baby; and that wasn’t happening fast enough to suit me.” Eventually, it came to be. We were close enough for me to see she was over her head in motherhood. “I’ve got the child, but now what do I do with it?”

That was when I realized what was going on with Plain Jane, or PJ for short; but not pajamas. The woman was always wanting something. Life was perfect, except for ____________________. Filling in the blank could be anything at any given time. Nothing seemed to satisfy her.

I recall one time her lamenting that she would like to work outside of the home. Just to talk with grown-ups and feel like she was making a contribution to her family. Having a purpose meant a lot to her. She had a few more kids as the years went by and they needed her. But that was not fulfilling to her.

More than once, I told her she was contributing. This was before there was such a thing as playdates for the children; like-wise no Moms Day Out at the local church either. I suppose being unable to change her circumstances made her feel stuck.

Our relationship continues and find ourselves more comfortable now. We are more than two peas in a pod. We are one and the same. I’m not the same person I used to be.  Time and experiences make a difference.

I’ve learned that I am loved by more than just my family; God does too. He he has a plan for my life and considers me precious enough to care about things that concern me. He has let me know that I shouldn’t compare myself with others as that is dangerous to my well-being.

There is more. It is a mistake for me to worry over things out of my control, that’s infringing on his turf. Miracles are his specialty. He has my back and promised to meet my needs. I can vouch that he does. Maybe not when I think he should, but seeing how he also created the universe, I have to concede that he knows more about timing than I do.

Here is the thing that can boggle any mind. He loves everyone. Even those who least deserve it.  He provides for folks that think they have complete control of their life. If the proverbial rug has pulled out from under you, its recipe that provides a chance to get to know him better. Opportunity awaits.

Almost Gone

© jb katke

This bottle of dish soap has been sitting on my counter for what seems like forever. I wash dishes a couple times a day, but the bottle just doesn’t seem to empty. While it frustrates me, it also brings a story to mind.

A true one.

Long ago, Elisha would pass on messages he got from our Creator to his people. “Y’all are going to experience a time of no rain.”  Because the people were big into idolizing fake gods, and would not pay any attention to him, the Creator told him to leave the area so that they would also experience a lack of encouraging words. (Wait what, the Creator lets us experience life without him?)

Where he was directed to go was the darndest thing. Smack into the country where this false god started from. Elisha hid in a remote part, where getting food would be an impossibility. Here is another amazing fact, birds brought food to him so he would not starve to death.

Sure enough, a drought took place. When the brook where Elisha was staying dried up, the Creator told him to move on to a place where currently a widow was living. Don’t let your imagination run away, it’s not at all what you might be thinking.

When Elisha arrived, he found the widow out gathering some firewood. She aimed to fix herself and her son their last meal, as her pantry was empty. They were gearing up to die. It was a bleak time for everyone.

Elisha asked the widow for a drink of water and thinking further hollered out that some bread would be nice too. At that, she explained her situation. “I have nothing to give you.”

Elisha assured her everything would be ok and not to be afraid. “Give me what I asked for first, then you & the boy can eat.  The Creator said that you won’t run out of food.”

Surprisingly, she did as he asked. Even though she lived in an evil place, the widow sensed Elisha was different; this guy seemed full of hope. Furthermore, Elisha was right on, she never lacked food in her pantry.

I’m not making this up, the story has all the feels of a fairytale where everyone lives happily ever after. You can find it and read even more in the Good Book, I Kings chapter 17. Did you pick up on the same thing I did? Our Creator knows what is going on, sees how we are living, and provides a way to live. That is a fact enough to boggle the mind of anyone.

As is often the case, one thought leads to another. Am I willing to admit I’m not living right? As far as Elisha is concerned, he had to wonder what the Creator was thinking sending him to an evil place. Do you ever wonder how on earth you got in the place you’re in?  And birds bringing him food…come on. Until we remember the Creator can do anything.

As yet, I have not experienced an empty pantry. Could I be as level-headed as this widow if I thought I was about to die; to trust the fact that he cares for me?

The closest we have to the likes of Elisha are ministers that preach truth. I better make sure I place myself within hearing distance of them and heed their words. What they share comes directly from our Creator…and he knows what he’s talkin’ about.

All this from a bottle of dish soap.

Raking It In

© jb katke

It’s not what you think.

In desperation, my husband Dave, brought in the rake. The problem was the bedroom our girls shared. No, not the bedroom, but the toys in it. The result turned out to be a wake-up call for all of us.

For more years than I care to admit, I have harassed the girls to put toys away and clean their room. I petitioned them. Begged them. Threatened them. Refusing them to come out until the room was clean. Playing with them in that process was more fun.

That is when I realized two things. They didn’t have a clear definition of what clean was, and that our home lacked a thing called away. We lived in an older home that did not cater to storage. What the children called cleaning was stuffing the closet, cramming things under the bed and lining the walls.

Eventually their dad got involved. As our daughters wearied of my nagging, no doubt he did too. Out came the garden rake. We took advantage of an oversize box and Dad raked all the toys into the middle of the room, scooping them into the box to take away.

“You want your toys back? You will have to buy them out of the box; and make sure you have a place to put it.”

We never charged much, five cents for the really expensive toys. Prices dropped for things of lesser value. It went well for a while. But as time went on, we noticed some toys were not ‘purchased’ back. While the contents were greatly reduced, we still couldn’t see the bottom of the box.

The kids learned their lesson, but now it was time for Dad and I to be schooled. A bottomless box cannot lie. Through the years, we had provided too much. At Christmas and birthdays, we admittedly were generous. We had our reasons; neither of the grandparents were financially able to give much. Our effort to make the day a happy one backfired. They had more than they could handle.

That took place a lifetime ago. Our girls are out of the house now, and we live in a maintenance provided community. The rake has been repurposed into a new life. Storage, how I love organization!

The girls caught on, but still  have stuff, as do I. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much, now that they have a home of their own. Only they don’t want mine, as I continue to downsize.  I’m talking heirloom stuff. They have learned to say “No thank you.”

My life lesson continues as I say goodbye to my excess baggage. Its freeing that I won’t have to pack it up to take in my afterlife.

A Blind Eye

As our bus pulled into the parking lot; the sight before us was unmistakable. Much can be said for first impressions, sometimes without uttering a word. Such was the case.

My husband, Dave and I, were on a short-term mission trip in the remote mountains of Jamaica. One of the recommended must-see destinations was the Poor House. While many of us may feel we are in the poor house; this particular one was nothing we could imagine.

Standing in the middle of the drive was a figure in a large ill-fitting pink dress. A lost soul unaware of his own need. Yes, the resident was a male, a large man. My guess is the care-givers did not have clothes to fit his ample size, but for this huge pink dress.

The Poor House is a large facility that is home to the senior citizens and mentally unstable. The average household of Jamaica does not have the means to care for or support these individuals.

 Certainly, this greeting would have made an impressive photo to share at home to friends and family of our experience. But I could not bring myself to snap the picture. Beneath the dress was a man, not of sound mind. By design, he was created for a purpose, like we all are. But not to be exploited. Instead, my eyes turned away out of respect.

I had not thought of this moment in years; but in listening to the morning news, it came to mind. Allow me to take a radical turn from the above. Two policemen were shot in the line of duty. It is quickly becoming a daily event. Not to say that is okay. Someone said something like, we are living in an open-air mental asylum.

We hear a lot about gun control, and yes, they are a danger. So are cars if care is not used in driving them, likewise with knives if not used properly. Each of them are capable of killing if misused. It is the heart that is the force behind these potential murder weapons, not the weapon itself.

Right under my nose, with my eyes blinded to what was going on, the mental institutions in America have been closed down. Where did those residents go? It seems they roam our streets. Only God knows for certain.

The average family does not have the means to offer what these institutions did. Behind bars and fences, residents had meals supplied, medical assistance and counseling; there was no access to weapons.  The confines of the walls offered safety. As well as the community at large.

I remember those institutions as a foreboding place to visit. My Aunt Geraldine lived in one until her death. As a child, I was not allowed entry, so family met at the courtyard, inside the gates. On a personal note, when she came close to being released, she would act out in some manner, assuring her continued residency. She knew her limitations, that living in the real world was too frightening.

We all are God’s creation and the Good Book shows us what the limitations of mankind look like. Because we were made in his image, I want to get a better handle on how to do life. I’m finding its all there for us to learn.  

The Ones Most Missed

Recently we have lost some significant people in our life. Death is a part of life, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. Or for that matter even welcomed. COVID is still lurking around and that is bad enough.

Pictured here is Bob Saget. His death came suddenly and no one was ready for it. Many memories of Bob have come forward since then. As with many in show business, he was involved in other realms of the Hollywood scene. His thing was stand-up comedy; it has been said some of his routines were raunchy; but that was prior to my awareness.                                                     

He loved entertaining, helping us all forget about our problems and making us laugh. I like you, might best remember him as the wise and loving television dad on Full House. Everyone loves a dad involved in a child’s life, offering wholesome support. He will be missed.

Bob wasn’t the only one though. Betty White was another pillar in Hollywood. I first ‘met’ her watching Password on TV. She was a delight to hear and seemed to be forever full of joy. Betty didn’t take herself too seriously and seemed to make anything fun. She portrayed a life well-lived and will also be missed.

Totie Fields is another one. She is from way back. I first became ‘acquainted’ with her on the Mike Douglas show. A comedian like Betty, never taking herself seriously. As I recall her jokes were mostly of her being overweight, but at peace with herself..

The one joke Totie cracked that stayed with me was when she thumped two fingers under her double chin aiming to reduce it. She would hold those fingers up for us to see how slimmed down they were. Upon hearing that, I recall thinking I’ve gotta tell Mom that, she would love it. Then it hit me, Mom died. No more could I share funny little things with her. I miss Totie’s humor.

But I miss Mom more. It’s interesting to think how much people impact our life, but we never let them know how much they mean to us. Good, wholesome people that bring a smile and joy, but it is too late now.

That is not a new realization. Back when Jesus walked the earth, he was not a funny man. But he did take himself seriously, and sure could make people smile, forget their problems, and enjoy his presence. Not everyone loved him. He would tell it like it is, much like a parent that speaks what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  .

He exuded a different kind of joy, not fun, but giving hope and restoration to people that badly needed it. Not until after his death did people realize who they had lost. The good news is it is never too late to revere him. He is a timeless kind of guy, who sent a comforter to come behind him. A spirit that gives a strength beyond what we know, and hope for a better future. We don’t have to miss him because the Good Book says he is closer than a brother. He doesn’t leave memories; he makes them as we go along together.

Those Were The Days…

my friend, we thought they’d never end. We’d sing and dance, forever and a day. Thankfully, they did end. No, I was not singing and dancing. I was going through the grocery store in three laps.

The time was in the early seventies, the place Glenview, Illinois. My husband Dave was in serving in the Navy.

We lived on a tight budget. People find this hard to believe, and even I marvel how we ever made it through. Dave was fresh out of boot camp and brought home $77.00 every two weeks. That covered paying on a mobile home we were trying to sell and rent for our furnished apartment. Furniture that I could pick up with one hand.

Our lives were much improved over that earlier time when we had two to five cents between us by his next payday. But now we had a baby and they don’t come cheap. We were stationed north of Chicago, but still under the dictates of the city. The meat packers union decided to close the meat counters at 6:00pm. To go grocery shopping after six, you would find the meat counter under cover; unable to purchase anything there.

At that time, we were a single-car family, making it impossible for me to shop early in the day, as Dave had the car at work. He would race home, so our little son, Jamie and I could hop in the car to get our weekly groceries.

Our first stop was at the meat counter. Fortunately, we could purchase meat after six; getting it into our cart before six, our battle was won. Then we would go up and down each aisle picking up the bare essentials.

Oh! Did I mention our little clicker? As we carefully selected each item we added up the price in our handheld clicker. We used mindful caution not to break the bank. This was before the day of a calculator on our cell phone. If anyone spoke of carrying a telephone around wherever we went; we would think they were nuts. Today, people go nuts if they’ve mislaid their cell phone.

The third trip though the store was if we could afford any pleasures. A brownie mix or package of cookies, you get the idea. People speak of the good old days, I’m here to tell you, not all of them were so good. Every era has its short-comings, every generation has an opportunity of obstacles to overcome.

What is amazing is we live to tell about it. Kids haven’t a clue what some of their parents went through, life was not always what it is today. I include myself in that statement; how I wish I had asked my folks what times were like way back when.

It is an eye-opening experience to comprehend what we can both live with and without. One day at a time, the good Lord sees us through it. That is the cool part, he provides what we need, when we need it. If I were to get all my life blessings at once, I would have used them up by the time I entered kindergarten.

One hour at a time, one day at a time; that’s how he rolls.

Resolving Resolutions

©jb katke

Scratch resolutions. They are nothing more than reminders of how we have let ourselves down. Again.

Upon reading through my past Happy New Year 1 blog, I find not much has changed. I continue to avoid artichoke hearts and have yet to lose weight. In fact, I’ve gained a couple pounds…tis the season you know.

The problem is this new year resolution stuff comes right after gorging ourselves during Christmas. Who arranged that? Poor planning if you ask me. Those who knock themselves out preparing holiday junk food; who am I to be rude by refusing to eat it?

This reminds me of what my husband, Dave, has always said. “If it tastes good, spit it out!”

Another decision I made long ago was to discontinue sending Christmas cards. Go figure, this year we received more than the usual folks trying to bone up their business. We actually heard from friends; whom I have decided have more of a life than we do.

Many send greetings through social media, which I find less personal and depressing. Normal people take countless pictures of friends and family. More years than  I care to admit, we went without a camera, now the camera is on our phone. That doesn’t mean I will remember to snap a few memories. This year I was bound and determined to do just that.

Too bad I didn’t get a picture of our Thanksgiving memory-maker. Our meal was laid out buffet style. For the table we painstakingly laid out the silverware place settings, making certain we were all gathered together. How wonderful that our family has grown so much we ran out of chairs! Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to plan.

Christmas day was spent with our daughter and son-in-law. With no pictures to prove it. Tradition, bah humbug!

COVID came for a visit and brought our New Year’s plans to a screeching halt. You do not hear me complaining; both of us are well and are just being cautious interacting with others. It was a quiet holiday. Dave is having a time well spent with woodworking projects and I am catching up on reading.

Regardless of how much planning goes into them, our days are what they are. It is what we make of them that counts. This year has been one of reflection on the good memories. I have chosen to revel in what I have…even if there are no pictures to prove it.

If the lens in our minds have clarity that is something to be thankful for. Happy four-day old New Year!

There is Hope

 © jb katke

Many can hardly wait to see 2021 in the rearview mirror, broken as it is. Are you breathing a sigh of relief because the holiday is over?

The Christmas season is a lot of work. Shopping, wrapping, baking, and being of good cheer when you might not feel it, is hard. Especially when social media blares happiness at us. Many folks just as soon forget ringing in a New Year.

I can recall telling my daughter a new day is a fresh start, an opportunity to change the direction we are going. If only I could take those words and apply them to self! I may not be the only one.

When Jesus arrived in the world, there were no cameras to document the event. I guess you could say he did have a form of social media; but it was to only to a certain, select group. The heavenly angels appeared to a couple shepherds and the brilliant star caught the attention of a few astrologers. That was the extent of what we could call his friends.

Baby Jesus didn’t come to be a rock star calling attention to himself but his life did just that. Through the years his impact was made one person at a time; individuals were his thing. Particularly the broken, overlooked, oppressed, or those just down in life. He was drawn to them like a holy magnet.

Before he set to work, he gathered twelve nobodies. Just ordinary guys, maybe a little broken, that got a front row seat to what he was doing; giving them the opportunity to do likewise. His message of love, hope, forgiveness, and a chance of a new life was spread by word of mouth. It never ceases to amaze me that he trusted these guys to carry it forward.

I can relate to that. Do you feel like a nobody too? I write because Jesus gave me his word to pass on. Through these blogs of mine, I am astounded at the ways he has made himself real to me. Twenty-twenty hindsight opened my eyes. As a child, I could have drowned; as an adult, a possible victim of a drive-by shooter, or maybe killed, being pushed into a full skid of bricks.

But here I am, telling you what a great God we have. One that wants to impact your life for the better. He selected and gave me a chance, now you give him a chance.

Perfect Timing

Or was it; considering being up to your eyeballs in wedding plans? I would never have thought of Christmas as a supernatural experience. Joseph didn’t either.

Nor Mary. Not the shepherds that were just out doing their job. Possibly the astrologers: they may have been the forerunner of our climate change people of today. But the timing of it all!

We know the story of Christmas, of Mary expecting a child out-of-wedlock. My guess is this was not in her plans. She was a girl in her teens, engaged to Joseph. Back in the day it was a promise; an agreement between parents where the young people involved had no say.

Joseph didn’t believe Mary when she first told him of her pregnancy. Her line was that she was visited by an angel that told her she would become pregnant, not in the normal way, but God would do it. If you were Joseph, would you believe her?

Necessity took precedence. The society of that time would put a black mark on Joseph not waiting for his wedding day. Poor Mary could be stoned to death for her sin. Arranging for a hush-hush divorce was the only way out of this hot mess.

 Cue the angel coming to Joseph before he finally believed. Complete with telling him what the name of the baby would be. But the story doesn’t end there. A whole choir of angels appeared in the night sky for shepherds to witness. In one sense, they were not expecting this angelic visit, but on the other hand, they knew a Savior would come…sometime.

Reading in the Good Book, starting in Matthew, we are told the genealogy of her baby boy. Keep in mind this could be a fantasy story because of the supernatural nature. The following book, Mark, tells us of the things this child, now grown man did.

The book after that, Luke, goes centuries back in time, foretelling the birth of this child. Does the movie Back to the Future come to mind? After Luke, comes the book of John. In it we read more of the back story as well as a continuation of this man named Jesus.

Who would have thought this Savior would come as a baby? Everybody was looking for a king to come to set things right, not an infant!

But wait, there is more. Astrologers were watching, studying the stars, noticing one especially bright this night. They set out to follow where it was leading. 

At the risk of being a spoiler alert, I urge you to dig into this story; there is so much to gain from it. The beauty of a good book is the ability to put yourself into the story. To imagine yourself living in that life and time. What would you do? What would you think?

How would you respond, knowing full-well the injustice going on around you? The world needed a Savior, now we have access to one. Maybe I need to  cooperate with God’s plan like Mary did, accept it as Joseph did, be in awe of the miracle like the shepherds, and keep a watchful eye like the astrologers to recognize it when its as plain as the nose on my face.

Merry Christmas

This Is Just Between Us

“Warning! Danger!” So said the Robot on the television series, Lost In Space. This post is for adults only. If you have trouble dealing with truth, sign off and go on about your day.

I am sharing a peek of my brother with you. Bruce is seven years older than I, so I missed out on this scene. Although mentally, I can see it played out.

Bruce was around six years old, when he came home from school in the pit of depression. Entering the house, he plopped himself down on the steps leading to the kitchen with his head in his hands. Despair written all over his little face.

Mom asked, “Bruce, what happened at school today to make you so sad?”

The little guy may have had trouble speaking, choking on his words. “Some kids at school today told me there is no Santa Claus.” His face reflected the loss of a dear friend.

Our mom was always honest; even if it meant she could no longer hide the truth. She confirmed that what Bruce heard and dreaded was true. For several moments he just sat on the steps letting this soak in.

“Then I suppose there is no Easter Bunny either?” Reality can bite.

Perhaps this made you smile, remembering your own moment of truth. Looking back at my own childhood, I recall playing along with my parents, and believed in the fantasy. One can not be too careful when dealing with incoming gifts.

It also makes me recall Dave and I taking our firstborn, Jamie, to see Santa. We patiently waited in line as our boy went over what gifts he would ask for. When his turn came we helped him up on Santa’s lap. After making his requests known, we walked away. Jamie spoke up, “That was not the real Santa.” He stated it in such a matter-of-the-fact manner that we were momentarily stunned.

“Jamie, how could you tell?”

“He never once said Ho Ho Ho.”

As adults its equally hard to comprehend someone loving us; despite our faults, and joyfully giving us gifts. Especially when we least deserve them. That is precisely what Jesus’ dad does; every year the Christmas season reminds us of that. Everywhere we turn we hear songs celebrating the birth of a Savior.

Why should that be so hard to wrap our minds around? If you are a parent, you know how to give your child the desires of his heart. They are mini-you, your own flesh and blood. Out of that love you may even not give them what they asked for, but what you know they need.

Just like God does, offering us the opportunity to live in perfection forever. No other gift can top that! Warning! Danger! Be sure you don’t confuse Santa with God though. One of them is a fantasy, the other a Life Saver.

The Best Gift Ever

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:15 NIV

I have a story within a story here, hang with me; every bit of it is true. The above verse is recorded during a very bad time. It hails from a long-ago society that may be hard to imagine today. There was a king, Ahasuerus, big on ego and short on temper. One could say he had a temper tantrum when his wife, who was incredibly beautiful didn’t cooperate when he ordered her to bare herself to his guests. As was common in the day, he just disposed of her. Not killing; worse, making her his concubine. No one in the outside world would have access to her for the rest of life.

But this left the king without a wife. He decides to put on a beauty contest, the winner gets to be the new queen. Enter Esther. She was a young orphan girl living with her cousin.

At the same time as this drama is unfolding, the kings right hand man, has anger issues of his own. He gets ticked at one guy and decides to have his entire Jewish race wiped out.  

Only God could orchestrate this scene. Esther wins the contest, becoming the new queen. Unbeknownst to the king, she is a Jew. Because you are reading this today, you can figure out how things turned out. If you want the gory details, haul out the Good Book and read Esther for yourself. It’s one of my favorites.

The reason I go to this story length is because you might be feeling like your living in a bad time. There is no reason for me to elaborate on the conditions, you know. We find ourselves in a place we never imagined being. Still. Holidays demands give enough stress and funds can go only so far. Christmas may look different for many this year. This is why I pass these words to you.

Currently I am reading a book from one of my favorite authors, Debbie MacComber. One Simple Act, Discovering the Power of Generosity. MacComber elaborates on all the ways we can gift someone without spending an arm and a leg. One of her suggestions is plain and simple. Words. Ones that encourage, build-up and offer hope. Like Esther, you may be in such a time as this for a reason.

Your words may be spoken or written. Not everyone is good at expressing themselves but I favor the written. The receiver will hang onto your note and read it many times over. It may be outside your comfort zone, but dabble with what you might wish to hear. Chances are others would like to hear the same thing.

The beautiful thing about words there is no need to shop around for the best price. The added plus is you don’t need to wrap them. Well, maybe wrap them in truth and love. It won’t hurt. Honest! Feelings and actions acknowledged are a gift.

Words have power, Jesus’ dad proved it.  According the Good Book, he spoke and nature, all of life really came to be. Creating mankind, he breathed in Adam and he came to life. The rest is history. There is more to that, but today lets focus on the birth of a perfect man, arriving on planet earth as a newborn. He experienced what the world had to offer and made a way for us to know a perfect life too. If we want it, I should add.

The WOW factor comes when we realize we don’t deserve the good things in our life, he granted them before we got our act together.

Post T-day Memories

 © jb katke

We have wrapped up another Thanksgiving Day for the memory book. Like every year, this one was different. Silly me, I thought the energy of the day was in all the prep work of the house and food. Not so, it’s keeping up with the little people in the family.

I learned my great-grandchildren are a bigger treasure than I realized. They bring life to the party and a new way to play games. Six-year-old Josie and I sat down to play a Bingo game. We were each playing by differing rules; she explained, “GG I think you are playing the right way, but that is not the way I play the game.” Such tact and insight from one so young.

Matthew found Nana cleaning up in the kitchen. But he wanted to play with her. “I’ll tell you what, you help me in the kitchen, then we will play, ok?” He agreed and was quite the little helper, never minding his clothes getting sopping wet in the process of rinsing dishes.

Aunt Naomi disappeared. Little Teddy found her for us. Not quite talking yet he stood outside the bedroom door pointing into the room. “Yes Teddy, that is my bedroom where I go nigh-night.” Placing his little finger up to his lips, motioning me to shush. There she was stretched out on the bed taking a catnap. Proving to me he was sensitive enough to be quiet when someone is trying to sleep. 

My youngest granddaughter, Emily, had agreed to a shopping trip with me. I learned she is in to antiques and all things old. A girl after my own heart! Initially we were after a bookcase, but that got taken care of by a friend. She’s becoming a reader, oh happy day! But it seems some home décor was also needed.

To the antique flea market we went, with boyfriend in tow. I thought maybe to keep her from spending too much, but no. He’s into old stuff too…my heart is full. What fun it is to (finally) have a young member of the family desiring heirloom things. She probably could have gone shopping in my home and saved some money. The two of them made this old lady very happy.

Families. Sometimes we think we think there is no living with them. In reality we cannot live without them. They are capable of bringing both tears of pain and joy, but the love is worth it all. Its been said we can choose our friends but something as important as kin are up to the Lord. He knows the personalities needed for us to expand and grow.

Most importantly, to hand the ones we treasure over to Jesus when we are helpless to make sense of awkward situations. Only he can do that; I can vouch to you it will all be good. Not just for you, but will bring added respect to Jesus. Then you too, can become the voice of experience spreading the good news to others that need hope. The Christmas season a prime time to do that.

Genuine Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

A particular Thanksgiving comes to mind annually. The year was 1981,

I had just come home from the hospital, having given birth to our third child.

Being so close to the holiday made commitments to anyone’s invite to join them for dinner sketchy. I’ve yet to meet a little one that takes note of a holiday or their parents schedule before making an appearance.

Our friend Carrie thought of that. Of course she would, being the mother of four.

Our church made a point of delivering meals to new families. And Carrie delivered. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving she brought us a meal with all the fixings. Even down to festive napkins.

I was incredulous at the time and effort she invested for our family. Not everyone would be open to preparing a meal like that to give away. Carrie wanted to make sure we didn’t spend a holiday in want. Mental pictures formed of her returning home and serving hotdogs to her own family.

Each year that memory comes back to life, humbling me every time. Except I can’t recall what we actually did for Thanksgiving that year. Whatever it was couldn’t top what Carrie had done for us. That sticks.

That is a picture of sacrificial love. Unexpected, but appreciated annually. My wish for you is a happy Thanksgiving, one that may be filled with kindness, love, and a memory for all things good.

Gratitude Attitude

The upcoming holiday season has all the makings of being different, just like last year was. Changes are part of life. The part of life I don’t like. It runs along the line of kids not coming home for Thanksgiving. Or the death of a loved one leaving an empty chair at the table will always bring a heart wrenching ache.

Many Thanksgivings ago, a group of our friends joined in making a basket for a less fortunate family. One of the women had the idea of using a laundry basket; a homemaker never has too many of those. We had a good time meeting up at the local grocer to select foods to place in it.  There was ample room for the turkey and all the trimmings.

Imagine our surprise when delivering this; to learn the family had no oven! We had the good fortune that one of our kids worked at an appliance store, making it possible for us to throw in a few dollars and provide that as well. I think the Indians had a saying something along the line of you can’t know what someone is going through until you walk a mile in their moccasins.

As you comb your mind, desperately seeking ways to make things festive, remember two this. Things could always be worse, and don’t forget to be grateful. Retail stores barely acknowledge Thanksgiving. Your thoughts will bring all sorts of memories to mind that could easily be overlooked. The near miss of an accident, the ability to pay your bills, or maybe being thankful you have an oven. An attitude of gratitude doesn’t focus on the have nots, just the haves.

This year decreased availability of items as prices go up in everything imaginable is a recipe for a stressful season. I urge you to take stock of what you do have. Have you seen the pictures of Christmas trees made of books? Lots of us have excess books, put them to work!

Let your creative juices flow. If you’re lacking in that, check out Pinterest, it seems to be teeming with projects. Tap into the people you know that love to work with their hands. Or, try shopping in the local mom and pop markets; they may cater services that Walmart doesn’t. For some time now I have heard we should check them out, too many have succumbed to the pandemic crisis. They struggle to make ends meet too and will thank you for the support.

Praise to the good Lord above that we still have options.

Unaturalistic

If you are a lover of all things nature, the following is not for you. You may be excused to carry on with your day.

Dave and I have a friend that can look at a spider and see the beauty of it. Mom always said, “A thing of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I see nothing beautiful to behold in a spider. My eye sees a creepy, crawly, too-many legged thing that does not belong in my home. Nor in my yard.

Our exterminator and I were chatting outside as he finished up working. Spotting a spider crawling on the house. “Since you are here, could you shoot some spray on that spider?” That being his business, he obliged me. “Oh, he’s irritated now.” With indignation I replied, “I don’t want him irritated; I want him dead!”

This time of year, I would wield a big stick when mowing the grass of our previous home. The house sat on a  larger than normal piece of land for a neighborhood and held all kinds of nesting places. The autumn season brought those really big orb spiders making their presence known. If you should run into one of their webs you would get a crawling sensation, even if the spider was not there. I probably made quite a picture for passers-by, waving a stick around, knocking down webs that cannot be seen from a distance.

Just writing this makes me feel  crawly. I cannot tolerate them. Everyone has something that can’t be tolerated. Grandma wouldn’t tolerate a messy house. My mom couldn’t tolerate the cotton balls that come with over-the-counter medications.

The mystery is why some things are more bothersome than others. Even the most tolerant of people can be intolerant. We come from various walks of life and experience different situations. Its saddening when folks find they can’t handle those who think differently. It happens in places you would least expect. Differing diagnosis between doctors, private schools, right on down to families.

 No one is exempt, not even churches. Does that surprise you? Many look upon a church as a place where perfect people go. Not so. A church houses  a people group who are struggling to make sense of life, that have messed things up badly and need to know that God provides hope. He is capable of turning difficulty into something good.

My father once told me, “If you find a perfect church to attend, you’ll ruin it.” Gee, thanks dad! He also told me that if I find one that teaches from the Bible, you will hear truth. Dad was right to steer me in that direction. Even with our differences, we can find Jesus’ words to cling to, when our actions are questionable.

He warns us against doing what seems right in our own eyes and thankfully sees where our heart lies. Jesus doesn’t want any creepy, crawly attitude to enter our hearts, especially with those that we will be spending an eternity with!

Costuming

Shhh,,,can you hear a sigh of relief? Halloween is over for another year. For the mothers that made those costumes, they should get a badge of honor. I remember those days. Making them a size or two larger to accommodate a coat was a necessity. Michigan Octobers are cold.

Halloween isn’t the only time costumes are donned. Back in the day of my childhood, we dressed up for church. Flying on an airline, travelers donned their good duds. Later on, work places allowed casual Fridays, veering from the business casual of the week.

Living near an international electronic business, I see employees out and about in ultra-casual attire. They could turn the tables and have a dress for success Friday. Time has changed and I’m not certain if its for the better or worse.

Through the years I have witnessed these changes, not just in our wardrobe, but the behavior of people as well. When dressed nicely, people don an attitude of  civility towards each other. Those who put time and thought into how they present themselves are respected.

Tim is a case in point. He lamented, “My wife makes such a big deal about how I dress for work. But I like wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, they’re comfortable.” Not to argue his point, but when he presented ideas or wishes concerning his position, he wasn’t taken seriously. It sincerely brought him down.

I tried to make him understand, but not sure he bought it. “The thing is Tim, how you present yourself to others is a reflection on both you and your wife. She thinks highly of you and knows you deserve the respect that comes with what you bring to the company.”

Years ago, our son Jamie earned a two-week scholarship to the National School of Music. It was a big deal for us; as we readied him for the school, there were regulations we had to abide by. He was required a certain color of pant, shirt and belt. The purpose was not lost on us.

Students from all walks of life came for the focused classes they provided. By everyone having the same attire, it leveled the playing field. Class and social distinction was eliminated and gave the students the opportunity to form lasting friendships, no matter the background.

Getting back to Halloween, perhaps we should have more input in what our children put on. If they are going to act out that character, it could be to their detriment. I wouldn’t want my little Superman to try flying out a window. No one would want their young one dressed like a devil.to act like one. Better to stick with innocent figures; angels would be good!

Impact!

            Tooling down the street, minding our own business, we suddenly find ourselves swerving out of control. Our hearts were light, giddy for how our future was unfolding. I was five months pregnant with our first child. How quickly our picture changed!

            My husband Dave had recently gotten out of bootcamp, with the Navy stationing us in Glenview, Illinois. The least likely place one would think to plant a military base. It was what I considered an upscale neighborhood. Middle class may have been a better description. One must keep in mind comparisons; I was raised in a semi-rural area.

            We were heading home from purchasing a sleeper sofa and an area rug. That was no small feat. Back in the day, it was difficult for young people to establish credit. Today charge cards are handed out like trick or treat candy.

            As newlyweds we purchased a mobile home; only to put it up for sale nine months later. Uncle Sam needed a few good men to serve their country during the Viet Nam era. Moving to our converted barracks apartment, furniture was sparse. Hence, our purchase.

            Suddenly a car shot out of the parking lot of a shopping mall, running a green light, hitting us. I suppose that could be reworded. We ran a red light. Traffic signals of Illinois may be different now.

            At the time we lived there, traffic lights were stationed at the corner of intersections, meaning a driver had to take their eyes off the road to see it. If anyone had asked me, I would have said that was poor planning of the road commission. No none asked.

            The elderly man that hit us got more than a fair amount of feedback from his son. “Dad, you had an accident with a service man? Do you have any idea how to contact him? You’re never gonna see this guy again. How do you feel, did you have any whiplash?”

            Several days later, Dave did contact the man, with cash in hand to pay for his damages. He was surprised to see us, welcoming us into his humble home. It was our turn to be surprised; the gentleman presented us with a Release of Claims document. He was not holding us responsible for any physical harm incurred from the accident.

            Enough time has passed for my reflection on this unfortunate incident and see the comparisons. The old guy didn’t have to do this; he was more concerned about a couple young kids and their unborn child. I know of a guy who voluntarily died for mankind, who was prone to do wrong.

Living in an imperfect world, Jesus made a way for us all to ultimately look forward to living in perfection. He didn’t have to do it, but did so by choice. He was more concerned about you and I.           

If Dishes Could Talk

 © jb katke

If a persons’ wealth revolved around their dishes, I am filthy rich. Recently my dishes have started talking to me. I had a few words for them as well.

Through the years I had become heir to several sets of dishes and glassware. I would love to continue the momentum of passing them on. One little bitty problem, many of my young millennial girls don’t want them. I wonder what will take place when they are next in line?

As I began my annual dishwashing ceremony; I was again reminded of how much of what I have is disliked. Washing dish after bowl, after cup, after saucer; they all began speaking to me. This Desert Rose pattern can be seen in antique stores everywhere.

 They were Aunt Janes. She never married, didn’t have a home to call her own until both her parents died, leaving her the only home she knew.  In her years of collecting, did she have hope of establishing her own home and a husband?

Other pink flowers entered my life from an Aunt Marion I barely knew. When she passed away, Mom and Dad traveled to collect Uncle Charlie and whatever else they could fit in their car. Among them, dishes.

The interesting story on them are how important they were to Grandma Andrews, Moms mother. Jane had her china; she may have thought this was her chance to have her own. I know she voiced an inquiry of them to my mom. “Mom, we only had so much room in the car.”

Grandma turned her question to me, but I knew nothing. It wasn’t until after mom died that the question came up again. Still, I knew nothing. But sometime later, those dishes found their way  to my house. Apparently, Mom wanted me to have them. The pattern hails from the 1800’s, that’s all I know about them.

I am the proud owner of my mother-in-law’s serving dishes. Or maybe they were her mothers’; it doesn’t matter, they are mine now. More pink flowers. There must have been an unwritten rule back in the day that all china must bear pink flowers. I thought it was only yellow flowers I didn’t like.

My mothers dishes are another story. She got the pieces one week at a time, at the grocery store. Each week a different part of the set was featured. Mom marched them home, right into her retirement hope chest, planning to put them to use after dad’s retirement. They aren’t pink! Blue cornflowers are the design. They remind me her favorite color was blue.

A small red set comes from my daughter. They are high maintenance because they require hand-washing. These are ideal around Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Another plus is they are relatively small; it keeps me from overeating.

I have a set bearing an apple pattern. Also, from Aunt Jane. I believe she got hers at the grocery store, like my mom.  The green leaves and red makes them perfect for both autumn and the Christmas season.

Finally, my dishes. A small set of dinner plates only. They sport a quilt pattern, reflecting my appreciation of quilts.

The plain old white set is what I use on a daily basis. I purchased them expressively for how attractive they would look with the tablecloths I never use.

All of these dishes has made my husband Dave, a dish connoisseur. Some are too small, others have to wide a brim, making the cutting of food awkward, others are too much like a bowl. All in all, each of them are too something. Bottom line: I have had enough!

From Trash to Treasure

© jb katke

When I was growing up it was called making do, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve since converted.

Many are still staying within the confines of home. Upcycling old pieces has become the rage. The time is ripe for all crafters and do-it-yourselfers to unite.

Never has there been so many TV shows on home improvement. It’s satisfying sitting in the comfort of my home watching houses get torn into shambles and rebuilt into new and improved condition that someone will gladly call home. I love the fact that I’m not the one sweeping up the debris!

It doesn’t stop at homes, either. Old things have the capability of being put to a new use. This picture I share with you comes from my mothers childhood. It was her toybox. The measurements are 20”long x 9.5” tall and 11” deep. That is not very big by todays standard toybox size.

Why so small? Mom never said as much to me, but I venture to guess. Back in the day, children filled their time with useful activities. Gardens needed weeding, or picking the vegetables for dinner. Many homes did not have the advantage of sidewalks or paved driveways, hence, floors needed perpetual sweeping. You get the idea.

Today moms toybox now lives in my quilt room; holding all manner of sewing paraphernalia I most likely will never use. Maybe its time for round two of flushing out unused items. It still amazes me that I don’t miss quilting; when at one time I lived and breathed it.

What pleases me is using the time I used to say I never had enough of for sewing, but now am writing. It satisfies the soul and take comfort I am doing something God initiated. If you have been following me all along, you know; this was never on my bucket list.

An idea is a mental revolution of doing what never was previously thought about. Such as the pie safe my husband Dave made. He probably didn’t know I loved pie safes. We trotted over to the new homes being built outside our door and gathered the wood pallets destined for the trash. The rest is history. You can get a glimpse of it in my A Labor Of Love blog.

A repair man commented on liking my singers. Singers? What is he talking about? Pointing up to the space above our closet were perched two sewing machines, removed from their cabinets. Once they were serviceable necessities in my grandmothers homes, now décor.

Likewise for the vintage hand tools from my grandfathers tool box. Newly attached to a distressed wood backing; complete with a center vice grip displayed as if a letter K for out last name. More décor. I should probably mention grandpa’s tool box as well. It’s built for the ages, weighing in just under twenty pounds empty. It now houses my ribbons, trims, and lace pieces that I won’t live long enough to put to use.

Having these things around me brings a smile. I think back on the people who once used them and how essential the items were to their daily life. Just as I looked upon myself as a quilter, God saw another use in me. One I never dreamed of, but feel a contentment that I am capable of more than I think. With Gods help, of course.

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.

Who Would Do This?

© jb katke

Who do you know that would make three rounds of shopping through the grocery store? I did.

At the time, we were living north of Chicago and the meat cutters union decided to close the counter at 6pm. The solution was easy enough, do your shopping during the day. That wouldn’t work for us. We were a one car family for several years. My husband would have to rush home to collect me and our baby in order to get what we needed.

The first round I picked up meat, the second round consisted of baby food and essentials, the third time round was for the enjoyable miscellaneous items it would be nice to munch on. This was a time before cell phones that had a calculator. To stay within budget, I had a small clicker type device that kept track of my expenses

Do you know anyone who dislikes parties to put on a bash for the neighborhood children. I and my neighbors did. In the eighties there were many news articles of candy that had either a needle or a razor injected into it. For the safety’s sake, we eliminated that concern opting to throw a party, thus doing away with a trip to ER.

For the children to feel like they were not missing out going door to door, you can imagine how much goodies we had to provide for them. The upside of the situation; we were free to make baked goods and popcorn balls, knowing all would be safe for them.

Do you know anyone who swore up, down, and cross ways they would never live in a house that required you to pass it in order to arrive home? I did, only to make a liar of myself. Many homes are backed up to a main street. I must pass my home to get to the street that enters the neighborhood, then make an immediate turn onto my street where home sits. You will never convince me Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor. Speaking of homes…

Among the few that have the privilege of having a new home built in accordance with many of the buyers specs; who on earth would pray that it wouldn’t be ideal? Right again, I did.

We all have our reasons, here are mine. As I read through the Good Book, I came to realize there is another life other than this one we know today. A life with no end. When I leave this world, I am hanging my hat on living with Jesus and his dad. It has everything we hoped for on planet earth, but never came to be.

To seal the deal for my forever home, I have decided to agree with Jesus and give honor and respect to his dad, the Creator of life itself. To do that, I have willingly made other things, the stuff that is a big deal here, of little importance. Nothing here can compare with the life we have available later.

God never disappoints. My home here is less than perfect. When I come across some little detail that I know is a job poorly done, I smile at my answered prayer.

Finally, who on earth would purchase a greeting card for themselves? You are noticing a pattern. I did. While I never set out to do so, as I perused cards for a couple upcoming birthdays; I come across this one. Is it perfect for me or what? It is perfect for a lot of writers I know.

Here is the deal. I have never desired to write, not a blog, nor the book I am in the process of. Whether we realize it or not, everyone has a message to get out. Yes, I know everyone seems to be writing a book these days. Others planned it, I did not. My message to you is, God is alive, working 24/7 and would love very much to be more involved in your life. Will you let him?

I can tell you he will take you places you have never been and what a ride it will be!

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. 

Looking Reality in the Eye

 © jb katke

Good heavens girl, what is your problem? There are thousands, maybe millions of people, that would give anything to be in your situation.

I had just left my eye doctors office. The report indicated there was very little change in my vision. Prior to my appointment I had geared myself up for getting new lenses. I was ready.

The glasses I wear now are three years old. At the time, I had chosen, to step away from the transition lenses I’ve had in the past and try something different. I opted for a tiny magnet on them that held magnetized  sunglasses when needed. I don’t like different. No surprise there!

When I step in from outside, I must stop to remove the sunglasses and put them in a safe place in my purse. They are fragile. Is there really a safe place in a woman’s purse? Not likely. Likewise, when going outside, I stop to fish my sunglasses out to put them on.

That, my friends is called a first world problem. Wah, wah ,wah. 

In fairness, I should say I am getting new glasses, but they are strictly for working at the computer. I’m eager to get these prescription lenses as it has been a challenge writing. Currently, I find myself wearing my glasses together with regular computer glasses. There is a fine line ‘window’ of where my vision is good and I end of nodding my head up and down as if saying yes. Hope you enjoyed that little mental picture.

Have you ever noticed there are some people you can’t please? Apparently I am one of them. It’s the little things in life that can be big if you are dealing with them on a daily basis. No one enjoys inconvenience.

Even so, I can’t help but wonder if inconvenience could be a flag waving for us to realign our thinking. We live in an age of convenience and comfort. While we take selfies of our pleasurable moments, it can also lead to idle time ill-used.

Maybe if our society took a more hands-on approach, we would feel better about ourselves. In the formative years of our country, people worked together to meet needs. Or so I have read. Folks put their heart and hand to the task to build a life. At the end of the day there was a satisfaction in meeting a challenge.

Another by product was appreciation for a can-do attitude. That is what Solomon found to be true.  He dabbled in a bunch of stuff, experimenting with what brought him the most pleasure. He discovered the most rewarding thing was, believe it or not…WORK! You can read all about his experiences in Ecclesiastes.

There is a pride in accomplishment and nothing feels better than feeling self-satisfaction.

NOTE TO SELF: Be thankful for the abilities I have each day that can so easily be taken for granted. Like vision.

Acknowledging a Need

© jb katke

Cut out from a magazine, this little sign was found in dad’s garage. It reads:

I want my own place.

A place where

I can’t be reached.

I want to be “Off Duty.”

I want to call a “Time Out.”

I want a mute button for reality.

I want to put the world on hold and tell it:

“I’ll get back to you.”

Why did dad feel the need of his own place, and does that resonate with you as much as it did him, and me?

My father lived a full life. Having a sister with mental issues, he grew up in a dysfunctional home. At the ripe old age of twelve, he was gainfully employed up until his retirement. During WWII dad served in the Navy and was stationed in Hawaii-post the Pearl Harbor attack. How tough could that have been?

He and Mom never had an overabundance of funds, but could identify those in need and addressed it to the best of their ability. They made their home open, sometimes to teens, another to an aging uncle. As my grandparents aged, Mom and Dad stepped up looking after them too. Not too long after his retirement, mom’s health took a turn and passed away.

And the Good Lord addressed their need. Before they were promoted to their eternal home, they did find that place of respite and initiated their own time out. It came in the form of a cinder block cabin smack in the middle of nothing. They reveled in their off-duty status of zero responsibilities.

Whatever era we born in, there are times we need a time out. Just as we begin to return to a normal life, pulling off our masks, we find a comeback and the mask becoming part of our wardrobe.

Have you found a place to just breathe and be? My son and his wife love the Northwoods, a niece loves the beach and sun, a friend yearns for the mountains. I have found a couple places, rolling hills bearing bales of hay that speak of a life of purpose. Another is the ocean, watching waves rise and fall, you don’t know where they come from or where they are going, but life goes on. Sometimes, just listening to leaves rustling in the breeze can be calming.

There is a place that can easily be overlooked. The words of the Good Book have so much to offer.

I will give you only one for now, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Life can be so heavy. Acknowledging a need for divine help can go a long way; the Lord has a supernatural way of making the unbearable bearable.

The Price of Beauty

© jb katke

Beauty don’t come cheap. I was on a mission triggered by my declining blush. Without even consulting me, the company that produced my favorite chose to discontinue my color. The gall!

I aimed to purchase blush, nothing else. As I shopped with a beauty consultant, she pointed out a couple shades that might work well with my skin tone. Then the salesmanship leaked out of her

“Using this toner enhances the color and blends over all.” She put some on my hand for me to see and instructed me to compare it with my other hand.

Oohh, I wish she hadn’t done that. I could see all right; I saw how old my hands were. Those veins sticking out proclaiming my years of toiling on planet earth. That should not have been necessary to point out. Truth hurts!

Then came the sticker shock. I was willing to pay up for a quality product, but had no idea how up, up would be.

That’s when I came up with a battle plan. Each time I need blush, I’m going to a different brand. In so doing, I aim to find an acceptable replacement so that I won’t be stranded again if a color should get discontinued. Never mind that it would take years to use up just one. We’re talking strategy.

As I shared my shopping experience with my husband, Dave, he pointed out a fact that I had completely overlooked. “The make-up counters are the last vestige of personal service we used to experience in retail stores.”

The man is right. No more do we have a salesperson showing us the handkerchiefs or gloves from under glass display cases. Stores of today, we pick what we want off the shelf. Many places are forcing us to ring up and bag our purchases. 

The problem? Not so much the self-service as a lack of personal interaction. People need that, not to mention needing employment.

We all wish to look our best when going out in public, do we not? I became aware of what I forgot as I rushed to leave the house one Sunday morning. Seated next to me sat the beautiful, shapely, always well-dressed, and manicured Jeanette. I forgot to put my face on.

Actually, I have Jeanette to thank for my current lack of make-up standing. She wore it to the hilt, prompting me to wonder about the day when she wasn’t feeling well. What a shock to visit  her and fine her with no false eyelashes, her hair a mess, pale cheeks, and sporting a bathrobe.

From that moment on, I determined to look as presentable as possible with very few enhancements. This should lessen the shock for those visiting and seeing me at my worst.

In light of what is going on in our world today, this is the epitome of trivial. Especially so, when our Creator made us as we are. I venture to say in his eyes, we look good. My assumption comes from when I first cracked open the Good Book.

Right at the start we read of how earth, water, sky came to be. After each accomplishment God said it was good. I take the liberty of thinking likewise for mankind. Not perfect of course; but we are made in his image.

Even so, we bear a  history of making poor choices. It’s that blasted free will that can get in our way. Like deciding blush is absolutely necessary. But then, if we are prone to poor decisions anyway, maybe a little color on our cheeks can’t hurt.

Marital Expiration Date

© jb katke

Question: Is there an expiration date on wedding rings? The date I got mine is indelibly stamped on mine and my husbands’ heart. But on my rings, nothing but the evidence of heavy wear.

I ask because lately I have been unable to wear mine 24/7. After fifty years of devotion! Thank goodness my husband, Dave, has not questioned my naked finger.

I tend to get occasional itching and the rings irritate my raw skin. The situation brings the memory of my childhood when I had dry, chapped and scratched up hands. Apparently when washing my hands, I wasn’t drying them enough. Me and water never have gotten along well.

Maybe I am in hot water too much. Not the trouble kind of hot water, the hand-washing dishes kind of hot water. I must be working too hard.  Those that know me will laugh. I don’t approach housework with gusto.

I did work hard at obtaining my Mrs. degree though, and equally hard to maintain that status ever after. For two people to join forces having been raised in differing homes is no small challenge. Overlooking the cute traits while dating, that now drive you nuts can require daily patience. The flame that used to burn so bright, now needs a little fanning.

My heart goes out to those who seem unwilling to keep their marriage alive. A relationship that turns dry and scratched up is begging for relief. We are living in a disposable society. From house plants and razors, to cars, and even marriage. If it becomes worn out, replace it with something new. I beg you, don’t let the good thing you have die.

New flash! Relationships don’t operate in the same manner. People thrive in an environment of love and acceptance. Our pets may get more affirmative strokes than our spouse or children. The golden rule applies here, do unto others what you would have done for you. It requires a willing heart and effort.  The things worth having are worth working for.

I once heard a quip that people never change. They become more of what they were in their younger years. I can testify that Dave and I are not the same people we were in our early years of marriage. With shared experiences comes a better understanding of not only our weaknesses, but our strengths as well. Joining forces makes for a stronger union.

Additionally, I would not recommend leaving the Lord out of the equation. He comes with a track record of making all things right.

Recently I had a conversation with a fellow budding author. Our subject was nothing about marriage, but all about books. We spoke of our love of them and how vital they are in child-raising. Another world would open up each night as we read to our little ones at bedtime. We shared in their excitement of selecting books to add to their home library collection from the Scholastic Book Club. It involved intentionally entering their world of make believe.

That’s it right there! Intentionally entering in a relationship of another world. Just as Jesus allows things in our little life on earth, prompting us to give him time and thought of his world. Daily he pours love into us to share and spread wherever we can. Sometimes he stops us dead in our tracks to notice what he is doing. A relationship takes time to nurture, but carry on. It is worth it.

Memories

 © jb katke

Stick with me, there is a story here.

Well, maybe more like a memory. Who does not have memories? They can hit you between the eyes when you are least expecting them. It happened to me this morning when we were singing a hymn in church. One I had not heard in a long time.

It took me back to my childhood, when the Methodist congregation would sing, Blessed Assurance, written by Fanny Crosby.

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God…

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long…

All Sunday afternoon, Dad would whistle that hymn. He passed away and now resides in the presence of God. Were you aware that you have been purchased? I will not go into the gory details, and they are gory. Suffice it to say, Jesus, God’s son at one time walked this earth. He lived a perfect life and died on a cross in the most horrific of ways; bleeding to death paying for all the wrong things humans do; for no other reason than for us to have a relationship with him & his dad.

Most of the time, I do not dwell on memories. But when shopping I came across this little toddler toy. A quacking duck. Memories came back of my mom purchasing a toy much like this one for our son, only it was a clucking chicken. It has long since gotten discarded.

I had to purchase this little guy for my soon-to-be forth great-grandchild. It was meant to be!  For no other reason than to honor Mom and her quirky gifts. I have already earned the badge of a grandma with foresight, buying clothes the little ones will grow into years from now. What have I got to lose with this gift? It is unique and one-of-a-king, just like our God.

Despite Appearances

© jb katke

“Wow, you folks must read a lot of books.”

“No ,we really don’t.”

Have you ever met someone whose words did not match their lifestyle? During our travels, we had the pleasure of catching up with the Skrogans. These friends from the past have the most amazing bookshelf I have ever seen in a private home.

Greeting us at the door, Kyle and Suzanne gave us the warmest welcome ever. Stepping inside It was the next thing luring us in. Seeing the books put me at immediate ease, and felt right at home.

Not obvious to the naked eye, Suzanne explained, “They are all categorized. These here are my manuals for my work, Over here are the ones that Kyle has used in his studies and ministry work. The ones at eye level are where we keep the children’s books when the grandchildren come by. This lower shelf holds paper, anytime we need something to write on, it comes in handy.”

They say they don’t read much? I beg to differ.

The four of us come from a generation to know books as an information highway. Clearly, they were available before things like internet. What we didn’t have at home, the public library made accessible.

Today the internet is certainly more available, but sometimes I question the accuracy. Plus, books can always be referred back to. I have discovered what I see on the internet could get lost in cyberspace, never to be found again. To my knowledge, the internet doesn’t read to children either.

I am a bookaholic. Does it show?

Recently, Dave and I found a reality television show concerning an overabundance of…pretty much everything. Not to say the Skrogans home is like that, it was neat as a pin. Nor am I alluding that we identify with excess either.

But we do have books. Some high school textbooks that are no longer applicable to today. Yearbooks of course. Souvenir books from places we have lived or visited. Then there are those books from family members. The ones that meant something to them only. Some are worth keeping, others not so much.

As we have seen on television, some things carry a heavy emotional value. I have found that to be true with many of my home items. Admittedly, I have even thought so far as to purchase in three’s, so that my kids would have this wonderful whatever I was buying too.

Your can’t imagine my shock and amazement that they are not interested.  The television show aired a daughter explaining to her mom, “Your ties to this are yours, not mine. You knew my uncle, I never met him. I don’t have your memories Mom; I have different ones.”

Oh. My. Goodness. My daughter shared those same words with me some time ago. The truth can hurt, but it also is freeing. I now have the ability to let go of an object I’m not taking into eternity with me anyway. Furthermore, I won’t be burdening the kids with stuff.

This letting go stuff is a process. It takes time.

By the same token, I am extremely grateful that God still finds value me and hasn’t disposed of me like an outdated book.

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.

Parts Unknown

As a rule, vacations are rest and recreation. Ours became a spontaneous plan. The summer was fast disappearing. Crunch time was a now or never reality. We wanted to get away from it all before Dave’s work schedule resumes.

Usually, we get in the car and go, stopping wherever something of interest catches our fancy. We made a point of going to parts of the country we have not visited before.

The problem is there are too many places we have never been.

Planning was a prerequisite. We are fresh out of danger of COVID and ready to break loose from the restrictions made necessary last year. Along with the rest of the country. Better to have reservations made with assurance of a bed to fall into at night.

This dear man of mine planned the entire trip single-handed, thinking of where and what I would most enjoy. Dave did such a good job. Our final destination was somewhere west, so we dubbed the trip to ‘Parts unknown.’

I prepared for other aspects of the trip. Like leaving the house in a state you are okay with walking into when returning home. Naturally, washing and packing clothes too.

We are cramming too many miles in our allotted time. It’s one of those situations that, ‘Since we have come this far, we may as well go to…’

The Wyoming State Museum was one of our stops. It provides more history of the state than this head can hold. As we travel, I learn too

Question: As you bake, and note a recipe calling for baking soda, have you wondered where it comes from? Strolling through the displays, I came across this tidbit of information that I share with you. Baking soda comes from Trona rock! Who would have thought?

© jb katke www.wyomingstatemuseum.com

So many thoughts drift in and out of my mind as we travel. Dave’s main concern was me. Just like all that Jesus has done, just for me. Both are good men. We are not home yet, but thus far, we have had safe travel.

An unexpected perk too, was finding money in the washing machine at the laundromat. Provisions come, whether we ask for them or not. All we need do is look. Sometimes we find ourselves in parts unknown, but Jesus is there, excited to astound us.

Significant Other

 © jb katke

It is not what you think.

Today I feature a friend from long ago. Artie, old enough to be my mother, was my mentor in all things quilting.  She was all knowing in my sewing world. I would like to think we were good for each other.

I was new in the community and a novice in the quilt guild. She befriended me as I tried to fit in with so many gifted women. They didn’t know my skill level; I knew how to run a sewing machine. That didn’t matter to Artie, she determined to like me anyway. She had a saying that I still hold dear today, “From the back of a galloping horse, who is going to see the mistake?”

Wednesdays were set aside for us to quilt together. We met at her house, as her husband, Bill, was in poor health. I think the big event for her though, was not the quilting, but going out to lunch. During Bill’s days of employment, he had lunch out and wanted nothing more than a home cooked meal every evening.  Being home, with the kids, she wanted nothing more than to go out.

This photo I share with you, is what I was working on at that time. A handkerchief quilt. In my quilt room I have three handkerchief boxes overflowing with hankies from my mom, grandmother, and aunt. My guess is back in the day, they were as essential as underwear.

Rather than get rid of these handkerchiefs that bring memories of these women, a quilt seemed like a good way to use them. It may have touched Artie’s heart too, appreciating bygone days. I had used fifty of them, putting some around the edges, bed skirt style. Today those handkerchief boxes are still brimming over.

Back in the days of quilting bees, women would gather together bringing their completed quilt tops and attach batting and backing. They could whip out several in a day as they all worked together. From what I have read, they also talked. A lot. Because women have concerns.

That hasn’t changed. Women of today do too. Artie and I would talk. We need a safe place to say things with a person you know will not share it with the world. That was the way in a pre-Facebook era.

My quilting days today don’t look the same. It was a season in my life, when I think the good Lord knew these two women each had something to share with the other.  I began taking my Bible memory verses to Arties for her to help me learn them.

Artie shared she and Bill attended church when they were child-raising. Those days were over. Its difficult to stay focused on a spirit lead life when you don’t get refueled on a regular basis.

 I will never know this side of heaven, but hope those shared times renewed Arties faith. The people in our life are an influence and there for a divine purpose. God bless you all in spending time with me.

Wise Words

 © jb katke

Mom’s words come back to me., “If you know what your problem is, you’ve got it half solved.” As an adolescent I hated that she knew me so well. Even more, I resented that she was right. Hard as it is to give ear to what we need to hear, it’s tougher yet to put myself into action.

Probably you have heard the definition of a fool. Do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Necessary changes are in direct conflict with what I am accustomed to doing.

It seems there was am animated movie for children that put it well, “Life is tough.”

What is my problem? It’s so trivial, something we all cope with on a regular basis. Time management and priorities, and the struggle is real. Throw in old age mixed with a lack of energy and I have a recipe for frustration. I’m not cooking this up. Sorry I had to throw that in.

What I need to do is return to my previous pattern of getting into the Good Book and allow its truth to marinate in me. (What is all this cooking lingo about? It’s not my thing!)

I am well aware not everyone is into Jesus. They have their reasons. But I happen to know what a positive difference he makes in life…if I let him in. Due to the tyranny of the urgent, I have set my Bible aside. Today I suffer the consequences. I can’t think of anything more disruptive than unrest. A lot of that is going on in our world today.

I have been blessed with just the right amount of pain. It’s keeping me from sleep and driving me to my Good Book. When all else fails, go do what I knew was missing all along. I dug out my Bible to play catch up with the reading program I had started.

I read about this guy; I’ll call him Neil. He was high up in a military position that lived in a wealthy part of town. Neil received access to spiritual truth. He took it to heart and was directed to seek out a particular person, Pete, that was going around teaching of Jesus. Normally Pete would not have given Neil the time of day. But he too was directed to do something out of the norm. The two men eventually met.

I have left a bunch of crucial details out. Neil was of a different nationality and religion than Pete. The teacher was focused on one people group only. Period. . Translation, the two men would probably never have crossed paths. The word ‘direct’ I used, is actually an angel and a vision. The end result was a whole other group of people got to hear about Jesus that under normal circumstances would not have been privy to. How Jesus came from heaven, healed sick folks, was nailed and left hanging on a cross until he died, and came back to life, ultimately returning to heaven. I know, it sounds unbelievable. You can fact check it in Acts 10.

But here is the deal. The Good Book is the only book I have read that includes, real life  characters, history, romance, wars, dysfunctional families, futuristic events, drama, and more than I can think of right now. Literally, there is something for everyone.

Even though the Good Book doesn’t need anything additional, many writers have produced books that in their own way direct readers to Jesus. I’m telling you this in what I refer to as my take away.

To me it means: A persons status or location in life doesn’t meet inner needs. Jesus’s dad uses all manner of things to communicate with us. And about those aforementioned writers, by all appearances I am one of them.

I’m just a regular person that usually only talks about Jesus with folks close to me. However, in many of my blogs I aim to point others to Jesus. Folks  from all parts of the world have read some of my writing and I am genuinely humbled. Pete got to see the skin and bones Jesus, I have seen Jesus work more subtly, through circumstances and people, that only he could do.

I enjoy hearing from those who read my words. If you have questions; there are things I don’t understand too.  I can’t guarantee wise answers, but I can point you to someone who does…if you ask him.

A Labor of Love

 © jb katke

Too bad I didn’t get a before picture. You can see the after here. What you can’t see is all the between. This is a pie safe.

Back in the day before kitchen pantries were a thing, women had a pie safe. Probably it was before bakeries and air conditioning, when more windows were open for air circulation. Women baked breads and pies. In order to keep flies off the baked goods, they put them in a pie safe. It wasn’t intended to be airtight, hence the punched tin.

Today antique buffs like to utilize them, mostly for the quaint appearance they give to country décor. That is where I am at.

As my husband constructed my current computer desk, it became apparent I was going to need some storage. We contemplated a wall unit with a cabinet base and shelving above. Some shelves open, others behind closed doors to hide stuff. We all have our stuff don’t we?

He being a builder, it would have been impressive, and more than meet my needs. Probably his first choice too, because it would fit in with what we have in the rest of the house. He likes stylish well-built furniture.

But me, nooo.

I was going through his woodworking magazines, destined for our garage sale. Oh look! A pie safe. You know I’ve always wanted one of those.  The rest is history.

My pie safe started out in life as pallets, used to deliver all manner of lumber for the new homes built nearby. They sat out in the weather for quite some time as we mulled over all the potential they held. Finally, I inquired if they would be used again. Their days were numbered as they were headed to the dump. We rescued them before that happened.

Now for the in between. Dave lugged them home to dry out. He then took them apart, sorting them by the size of the boards. After that, he de-nailed them. The next step was running them through the planer down to a smooth board.

To give the finished product more character, he glued the boards together, then cut them to the specified ¾ inches. Yes, he built boards! At long last he was able to construct what you see here, complete with his hand punched tin. Truly, it was a labor of love. It was his desire to please me.

Our Creator did likewise. Designing human-kind was a labor of love, specifically made in his image. Our capacity to love, anger, forgiveness, laugh, cry; all come from him. Mind boggling, yes? It was a labor of love.

More than anything, he wants a relationship with us, and to please us. The trick is for us to want for ourselves what he knows is best for us. Like any loving parent would.

Just for the record, the pie safe is well built and blends nicely with the house too, because we have a fair share of antiques. Likewise, with our Creator. He fits things into our lives that blend perfectly with our character.