Vintage Blessings

© jb katke
© jb katke

Circumstance can be better than they appear.

Looking online, I see class trips after a high school graduation remain alive and well. Did I have one? No. The high school I graduated from was brand new; mine was the second graduating class. There was a reason. There is always a reason for things.

Neighborhoods were sprouting everywhere. Young families with fresh mortgages lacked funds to send their child to a far-away destination just to click a few snapshots for the memory book.

Obviously, I have survived the lack of opportunity.

Spring break season for college students is over. These young’uns are not even degreed graduates, but off they go to pleasure island. Wherever that is. Some off to their death, I should say.

Seven of them, I couldn’t keep counting, I know there is more, but it’s too depressing. These college attendees didn’t return home. Whatever the cause, death seems premature for them, not even getting started in life. The pain of loss is incredible.

Because I didn’t go to college, another missed memory for me. Maybe I should be grateful because I am still alive. And making memories of another sort.

Fast forward to my marriage with no honeymoon. At the time, it was okay. Later on, not so much. I was thrilled to have my man under the same roof forever. Many times’ I have reminded myself of that contentment. It works every time.

It’s been said we could take our honeymoon later. No!

Traveling together later is a vacation, not a honeymoon. I will let your imagination define the difference. We have traveled together more times than I can count and I am grateful for that.

The thing is, it’s all about viewpoint. Mine is a lot of hindsight. There are so many hurts and missed opportunities in life. The stuff we cannot explain the whys of.

But repeating my words above, there is a reason.

A picture is worth a thousand words. How many times I have heard that! And licked my wounds because I had no pictures. However, the lens of a camera doesn’t catch everything. The circumstances that bring us to where we are today. It would be in our best interest to remember that.

To realize there is a God who does know and understands us becomes invaluable. Heck, he made us the people we are. Circumstances have his stamp of approval because he knows what is best. That is why he designed a special place inside each of us that only he can fill to satisfaction. Did you know that?

The Good Lord knows what it will take for us to turn to him. Sometimes it can hurt if I hold onto things so tightly that I should let go. Instead of being bitter, feel protected. He is higher and has a better view of what is ahead for us. He holds tears and heals hurts. That’s a fact.

there is Always hope

Considering my situation, I should not have laughed. I couldn’t help myself. The waves were tossing me around as if I were a rag doll.

All my husband Dave had to do was release his grip on my arm and I would be carried away, never to be seen again. But he didn’t, his grasp kept me safe next to him.

I was up to my shoulders in the Caribbean Sea. Those that know me best understand I have a deep respect for water. Unable to swim, I limit my use to drinking it, showers, dishes and laundry.

We were part of a group on a short-term mission by Won By One, in Jamaica. Paradise, had we not been thrust into Harmons, among the poorest of the poor. Yet they were happy.

How can that be?

Two of us women were in charge of sorting the clothes that had been donated. Mens, ladies, girls and boys, including shoes. Many of the residents were barefoot.

One Jamaican woman sticks in my mind. She and her two children took a taxi to our mission. I met her at the door asking how we could help her. “Anything you have to sell us would be much appreciated.”

It was the practice of the mission to sell the donated goods. While you might think that wrong to do, it was explained to me. “By selling our donations, these people gain self-respect. Instead of promoting dependance, it gives them pride to know they have provided for their family.”  At the time the cost was minimal, clothing could run as much as one cent per item.

Having deposited his charge to our Mission establishment, I noted the taxi left. Whatever the mother bought, she would have to carry as she walked home.

That day we went to the Caribbean was a little recess from what we came to do. Build a home, the size of a bedroom. The land some of them owned were minute and far from where tourists visit. The less fortunate are not allowed there, it would not make for good PR.

Jamaicans are a friendly lot, smiles abound. My guess is they lack medical care, I know they lack dentists.

Yet they are happy.

How can happiness thrive in abject poverty?

Because they know no other way of life. They have no access to how others live, having nothing to compare their lifestyle to. The Good Book says we will always have poor among us. Maybe that is so that we will see God better, perhaps make a difference in ones life, just like Won By One.

They know there is a God. Countless churches from all over the globe come to minister to these folks. It’s only natural to cling to what other faiths offer. There are over four hundred different religions. Take your pick from what you want to believe in, always embracing the message of hope.

But…is their hope in the one true God?

Only he knows. It would seem unlikely, except for Won By One. They reside nearby offering opportunity and hope. They are a steadfast anchor for spiritual growth. Fortunately, God only looks at hearts, not our surroundings or belongings.

He is holding these people, caring and protecting as only a good God would do. Like my Dave, he has a strong grip on their heart, keeping them close to him and safe. By the way, he is here for you too.

What’s In a Day?

  © jb katke

Here is the potential of opening a can of worms.

Every day is some kind of day. That could be considered a deep thought for a shallow mind.

Somebody, somewhere decided to make each day of the year a national observance of something. I mean the nondescript observances that for the most part are irrelevant to our life.

For instance, National Banana Cream Pie Day, or National Cheese Doodle Day. What is a cheese doodle? Never have I started my day thinking of pies. Who makes this stuff up and for that matter who determines the day of note?

From what I gather it is the United States Congress.

It seems there are lots more issues that need attention than banana cream pie day. Can I hear an Amen?

I have already missed a really good one, National Old Stuff Day. Who among us doesn’t have old stuff. This spring I hope to unload a bunch of my old stuff with a garage sale. My track record thus far has not been good.  No one wants my old stuff.

Another missed observance was National Son Day. I have a son and am mighty proud of him. I try to let him know how much he means to his dad and I, but will let him have the deciding vote. The point is there must be sons out there who don’t get the feels of appreciation. So, a special day is set aside for him. That is a sad commentary.

Is there a National Daughters Day too? If I don’t ask, I may miss that as well. I have a couple of them and dread the thought they may think I’m not proud of them as well. But then, if I did, at least I would be giving the kids equal billing…no observance of sons and daughters at all. Except for those moments when I verbally tell them how special they are. I have been on a words kick lately; that may give more meaning than a mandated day of observance.

There are some days that concern me. Lets’ just focus on this month, March. Many of the days share special observances, they must, there are only so many days in the year. And sooo many subject matters. Take for instance the 13th. Its National Good Samaritan Day, Open an Umbrella Indoors Day and Napping Day. Does this indicate one can only be a do-gooder one day a year, and what is with opening an umbrella indoors mean? What about only being able to take a nap one day a year? Mothers of little people would take issue with that one for sure.

There is even a day set aside for True Confessions. The Good Book says to confess our sins whatever the day is.

March 16th might be much appreciated for No Selfies Day. You already know what you look like.  

Sorry but the 18th has already been spoken for. It’s National Supreme Sacrifice Day. The supreme sacrifice has already been accomplished by Jesus, who died for the wrongs of the world. Ya can’t get any bigger or wide covering than that.

Do we need a day set aside for Common Curtesy Day? If so, it’s the 21st of the month. Everyone should love the 22nd, National Good Off Day. Many may get the two days mixed up with daily patterns.

Why would we need National Weeds Day on the 28th of March? In my part of the country, we may still be waiting for the snow to melt away. This year there are parts of the country that will agree with that clear into June!

The 30th is another day of shared observances, National Pencil Day and National I Am In Control Day. If you are in control, how come pencils have erasers? Just a thought.

But what about today? It has to be recognizing something. It is, it’s National Be Heard Day. Everyone has an opinion on something and feels the need to let others know about it.

Are you listening to me? Here is my message to you:

Let your children know how much you love them, no matter how old they are. Show kindness daily, forget opening an umbrella indoors, it’s of no purpose. Regardless of the day if you feel sleepy take a nap, but not at work. Admit it when your wrong, especially to the Lord, he already knows it but confession soothes the soul. Thank Jesus for his supreme sacrifice. Try not to goof off, time is precious, instead show some curtesy to those who don’t deserve it. Pull out some unwanted weeds. Pencils excel over pens; words can be erased when we realize we are not in control.

Sticky Words

Words count for something. Especially out of the mouths of babes.

Through the years, I have accumulated a few treasured words from children. They are beyond cute, all the way to hilarious. I hope you find as much enjoyment as I have in them.

Our son, Jamie, just a toddler, repeated words he had heard me say on a regular basis.

“Alba rubba.”

I’ve never said that. It took me a few days to figure it out. Each time he said it, he was in the living room, running into his bedroom to get a toy. I realized he was saying ‘I’ll be right back.” The very words I told him as I left the apartment to go downstairs to our mailbox. He didn’t want me to worry he wasn’t returning, just as I didn’t want him to think I would never come back.

A few years later, at the ripe age of four, we were running a few errands.

“Momma look, a kenkeetiedkitchen!”

Can you imagine the thrill a little one would have at seeing the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant featured on the TV commercials? Oh, to be young and impressionable again.

Our daughter, Cindy, was equally impressed of things. She admired beautiful clothes when she saw them (Four-year-olds must become aware of their surroundings enough to comment.) A Bumblebee came to visit our flowers. The buzzing sound is so deep, I was petrified she would do something, prompting him to sting her. She stood still in admiration, “Oh, bee has a pretty dress!”

On a particular rainy day, Cindy mentioned we should probably take our “umberdella” with us. Indeed, we needed our umbrella.

Our youngest, Naomi, didn’t lack for memorable words either. As we sat at the dinner table, the family was trying to learn the books of the Bible. Micah was the one that caught her attention. “Do you think Micah ever went on a hikah?”

Of our three children, Naomi liked words the best. She could carry on a one-person conversation, never giving the four of us a chance to get a word in edgewise. Her father gave her food for thought.

“If you aren’t careful, you are going to run out of words.”

Pondering that for just a moment, she replied, “I’ll just use the same ones over again.”

Problem solved. Those memories stick with us to this day, as do the words. Dave and I continue to use them, even if we two are the only ones that understand what is said. They stick.

But it wasn’t just my children. Take Julianne for instance. He and his family were attending an open house at school when they encountered one of this former teachers.

“My goodness Julianne, you have grown a foot!”

Checking his feet and looking behind him, he responded, “No I haven’t.” I still laugh at that.

The most recent sticky words were relayed to me from Cindy, now a grandmother. My great-granddaughter, Rosie, is hot to get her ears pierced. Mom has been putting her off, so she decided to go to a higher authority, aka Nana. Surely she could make this happen.

Cindy shared the story of getting her own ears pierced way back when. It had been a hard sell to her mom (me) as well. My intent was to wait until she had reached the age of taking care of them herself. She ended her story with, but you should hear GG’s experience. (That is what the great grands call me) It involved an ice cube and a potato!

Rosie’s eyes grew wide, “That was back when everything was black and white!”


But truth doesn’t always hurt. Things are not black and white. You can count on the Good Book because its message never changes. God says he will never leave us or give up on us. Let that stick with you. No matter your past, it’s over and history to be learned from.

Instead, look ahead to what God can do in your life. It will only improve. Need I remind you he created the universe? Life will not become instantly easy, but he will make it bearable with a smattering of miracles to follow. Hes’ got this.

What Now?

It ended on Valentines’ Day.

For the past month I have shared excerpts from a long-ago journal to my husband. Now that the man-made holiday is over we can be done and move on. That in no way means our showing love should be over and done with.

Many years down the road though, it may look different.

A (kind of) humorous side note. When things, anything, doesn’t do what I intended; I have a habit of saying, “It has a mind of its own and will do as it pleases. It never consulted me about this matter.” Case in point-these candles.

© jb katke

When I brought them home, they looked like a normal candle. You can see the center candle is green with white ones on each side. Upon being lit, initially they performed as I expected. Melted a little with the wick recessing deeper in the candle. With time and usage though, the picture changed. They melted down into the most interesting configurations. Not at all what I had expected.

The candles changed in ways I could never have anticipated.

Dave and I changed as time went by too. Our marriage doesn’t look like it did when we were newlyweds. Personalities we had not seen began to emerge. Life became interesting. It can make or break a relationship. To our good fortune and an ever-loving God, our marriage was enhanced by the nuances.

Going into this relationship of ours, we were, and continue to be, clueless how the future will unfold. Whatever…it’s all good.

© jb katke

Check out these candles now that they are lit and burned down even more. They are the same ones. That green candle now looks red.  How can that be? Your guess is as good as mine. Nonetheless, we enjoy them still. They are an unexpected surprise.

That is a good definition of life. An unexpected surprise. Things enter our lives that we could never have imagined. The only difference is life does not have a mind of its own.

It has a Lord of the Universe. While he created humans, we are not his puppets to be manipulated. Each individual has a mind of their own; to live however we wish. While we may not be in a desirable circumstance, everyone has the ability to shine, like these candles. One small flame of a candle can light up the darkest of places.

Person to person, one can make all the difference in the world to another. With Gods’ help, that is. His love doesn’t look like what we may expect, but it’s all good. An unexpected surprise.

Treasures of the Heart IV

© jb katke

Here we are, the last of the four-part Treasures of the Heart series. If you have stuck with me, thank you! Maybe this is the first you noticed the series, if so, feel free to go back and read blogs I,II, and III.

The past blogs have covered Repairs, Acknowledgement, and the Spiritual. The final category that leapt out to me was Needs. We all have them, don’t we? Even feeling the need to be needed.

Within a marriage it is easy to think our partner is going to fulfill them all. Expectations can be a risky business, especially if they are not voiced.

“You needed my presence. Meeting with friends, sometimes conversations can get ‘sticky.’ Isn’t it nice that we can depend on each other? Each of us compensates for the weakness of the other. Being needed feels good, especially when accompanied with appreciation.”

There are such a vast array of needs that I feel inadequate addressing the subject. No one knows their needs better than you. That being said, I would feel remiss to overlook the obvious.

In these blogs I have been taking notations from a journal written from wife to husband. As you well know, husbands are not the only ones requiring acknowledgement, spiritual support and needs. So does the female species.

“Here I sit full of I don’t know what, confusion I guess. It doesn’t seem fair that God made women more flexible than men; to be the ones to adjust to the situation at hand. Do you suppose that God is teaching me how to wait by waiting on you? Maybe I don’t want to learn. It’s no fun when the outside world keeps us from coming together.”

The world was different when these quotes were originally penned. Womans’ Liberation was in its heyday. Considering females in the workforce not getting equal pay for equal work, it was time for their voice to be heard. Unfortunately, it took on a militant bend that only raised the ire of not just men, but ladies too. Where does the homemaker fit into that dynamic?

The stay-at-home moms, such as myself, didn’t fit in. The benefit of a husband providing living needs is glorious. But how can her worth be tallied? I won’t list off the various roles a mother wears; I’m certain that to hire out those tasks would cost a fortune. Men couldn’t afford to pay a wife! A certain few may have given their wife a spending allowance, making a woman feel demeaned. Isn’t it the children that get an allowance for doing chores?

Can you feel the angst?

My friend Rebeccas’ mantra is Words Matter. If acknowledgement is missing, one can lose hope for any change. Words are a good start and actions count too. Today is Valentines’ Day, let your spouse, male or female, feel the love. They need it. Singer Jackie DeShannon sings, What the World Needs Now is Love.

It’s a wonderful sentiment, but Gods’ love fills the bill. He has the to die for kind of love that gives purpose and meaning to our lives along with the strength to carry on.

Treasures of the Heart III

 © jb katke

Are you still with me? I present to you my third installment of the four Treasures of the Heart series. Portions of this blog come direct from my heart as it is written in my husbands’ journal.

My previous blogs have covered Repairs and Acknowledgement. The next theme that ran consistent through the journal was Spiritual.

Todays’ words may be hard for some to swallow. They stem from a deep spiritual belief that I realize not everyone shares. To put faith in a loving God can be challenging if hard times are experienced. I get that.

When Dave and I married, we did not come from the same religious background. There is a name for that, ‘unequally yoked.’ As I write, I try not to use Christian lingo. But I will share it now because it might ring a bell in your own marital relationship.

Try to imagine two oxen yoked together plowing a field. It is crucial for them to be in step with each other or nothing will be accomplished. It is kind of like that in a marriage. If a husband and wife are not sharing the same goals, they are not working together. Harmony is nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully, in our situation, Dave and I had the same morals growing up. That helps. As the years went by, a series of confrontations occurred in Daves’ life that prompted a spiritual change. Those things don’t happen overnight, but when it does all becomes well in due time.

“Walking around our yard after the rain makes everything so beautiful. This is the day the Lord has made and I am rejoicing in it! I am so happy with what you & God have provided for me.”

I was seeing the everyday backyard with new eyes. Dave had planted some trees and they are growing beautifully. It takes time to grow a tree and likewise to apply a spiritual attitude. When I tuned into God, I was self-conscious to speak about it. So was Dave.

“I think it was a wonderful idea to include prayer requests when we say grace at the dinner table. It was probably difficult for you, but I admire the step you took in leading our family.”

I’m not gonna lie, it takes guts. All the more so if you have trials going on. The previous blog mentioned some issues at his workplace. Sometimes Daves’ job required travel to take further classes in machine maintenance. I never enjoyed his absence.

“I’ve prayed that you might feel Gods’ presence and draw on his power. I know he will keep you safe. You mentioned the possibility of this being a test for future job opportunities. Whatever comes of our future, I hope we can see God working things out.”

He did, we did. This was written later:

“Today I read Psalm 40. There was so much in it that I shouldn’t even try to put it in a nutshell. From it I got, Gods’ ear is opened to us, not to hide our faith, that evil seeks to destroy us-but will be brought to shame, and so much more. God has a plan for you, for us-we don’t have to get uptight over the power people have over you because God has even more power!”

This. As we sat together filling out a form for a job transfer. At best, all I can tell you is being God-conscious is an uncanny feeling. We may feel at the end of our rope, but take heart, God has this.

Until guilt came knocking at the door.

“Honey, you’re so tired tonight. You’ve had a tough two weeks and tonight was no better at Boys Brigade. I feel so guilty when these times happen because I’m reminded that I haven’t prayed for you enough. How can things go right when your mate isn’t doing her job at home? I have let you down. Sometimes I dream of us packing up and going somewhere far away, quit work, and just make woodworking projects and sewing things to sell. Having you home would feel like a daily vacation.”

It would be so easy to give up. Having a faith in God isn’t a religion. It’s a relationship that requires our part as well as God’s part. He has already done his, the rest is up to people to walk in step with his plan. There is that yoke thing again. God did his part by sending his son, Jesus, to earth; it’s what we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus brought a message of hope and a new way to live. By dying on the cross, he made open a way to live with him and God eternally, it’s what we celebrate at Easter.

Like any relationship, it takes two.

Treasures of the Heart II

 © jb katke

This is the second of my four-part Treasures of the Heart series. These blogs stem from a long ago journal I gave to my husband.

Dave presented it to me as he was scouting for something else. Looking back, it must have been a difficult time in our life. All marriages have them. As I reread through the entries it brought home the importance of words. Spoken or written, makes no difference.

The first theme I noted was Repairs. Today I focus on another theme that came to my attention. Acknowledgement. We all have a need to be recognized, yes?

Of all the pages of affirmation I wrote, Acknowledgement carried the most entries. Words were even mentioned one day in particular.

“You’re talking more today, that makes me happy. I know you are recovering from the stress at work.”

Can a spouse understand working conditions? She can try.

“I realized you didn’t receive anything positive in your life. Not from work, not from the kids, not from me either. I am the only one that can change that.”

Let’s face it, the workforce does not hand out praise for doing the thing you were hired to do. Children cannot comprehend the adult world. Allies can be few and far between, a sensitive spouse can make all the difference in the world.

My dear treasured husband, this has been a difficult week. Twice you had to deal with uncomfortable circumstances. Addressing them doesn’t come natural to you. But this is what I see, God is at work in your life, giving you the strength to face the moment.”

Even a bad example can be a good one. Having a boastful, arrogant boss who routinely takes credit for your work accomplishments is the epitome of frustration. Being on the receiving end of that provides you the know-how of what not to be.

You know how tough life can be.

“I can tell by your face.”

Home is all we have to let off steam.

As parents, Dave and I didn’t realize how our character impacted the kids. Twenty-twenty hindsight reveals all.

“Years ago Jamie told me he wanted to be a carpenter because that is what Dad and Jesus were. Today he reminded me of how much he looks up to you. The shed key was missing and he had to get newspapers delivered. Anger and frustration spilled over. Looking out the window I saw he was taking the lock off the door so he could get his bike. When I tried to stop him, his words were, ‘Mom, it’s what dad would do.’”

He thought it through-so like his father! I hope that made you as proud as it did me. This is how I wish to end today. Be an overcomer, it is possible with Gods’ help.

One more thing-our son has a career that requires problem solving, much like his father had so many years ago.

Treasures of the Heart I

© jb katke

One would think living with a man for fifty plus years, a wife would know him.

Entering my quilt room, Dave handed me a small book.

“I remember that!”

The small brown tweed journal I used to document some sentiments to my man for a season of our life.

“I have been looking for my pictures of when I was in the Navy and found this in my personal box.”

“You have a personal box?”

“Yes, all the notes you wrote me in high school are there too.”

“What? You saved all those notes!” Note to self: Find that box and destroy all evidence of my youthful desires.

“I still haven’t found the pictures I want, but thought you might use this for a blog or something.”

Like any marital couple, we experienced some stuff. The entries were short-lived. I guess I either got too busy or the journal was put away in that Personal Box I never knew existed. Reading through that little journal from so long ago brings back some bittersweet memories.

Four categories ran consistent. Enough for me to share with you bit by bit. Each week I will reveal one of them. Keep in mind these words I share come from another realm than where we live today. The first category that came to my attention was Repairs.

 “When are away, things had a way of breaking down.”

Thankfully, upon his return Dave addressed the issue.

 “Thank you for the repairs you make in our home.” I also noted using his talents to work for extended family.”

Not all men are able to make reparations. We need to cut some slack if they are lacking in that department. However, my man was born to fix things. Dave has an inquisitive mind on how things work. He tells me in his childhood he often took things apart to better understand the inner workings.

Some of which were working just fine until his young hands got ahold of it. There was at least one instance of his putting things back together to never work again. At this time, I would like to address that child you may have today that does likewise. Try your best not to chastise the little one. A well-known publication touts, ‘Inquiring Minds Want to Know.’ It falls into the learning process.

A Lopsided View

 © jb katke

Although the holidays are officially over, the house can look as lopsided as this picture.

All the décor of the season packed away, making our home look bare. Except one hides in plain view, to delay its slumber until next Christmas. It’s an unintended tradition of mine, to overlook packing away at least one of the objects. I’ll get to it, but don’t hold your breath.

My husband, Dave, and I have been swapping germs for the last four months. I’m not good at illness. Enough already. Feeling good is in the distant past. So long ago that we think back to our childhood. Okay, that is an exaggeration.

Returning to reality is hard to do. Am I the only one that needs a vacation after the holidays? A time out from the demands to go and do that come along Christmas, an escape from the germs that roam freely. Just a chance to breathe easy and be at peace with ones’ self.

Last week I showed you the finished product of an apron for my granddaughter. It felt good to get back in the quilt room. Quilts were what I did before this writing gig kicked in.

It brought me pleasure to create something beautiful that was useful too. Only my quilts generally were not beautiful, and rarely finished. Those that did reach completion were done with great relief, followed with the comment, “I won’t be making that again!”

I could breathe easy in the quilt room peacefully stitching fabric into designs. I used to say that time stops in the quilt room because I could lose myself in the pleasure it brings. Meals and housework took a back seat. Indeed, today time has stopped. The clock batteries ran out and I seldom enter the room anymore to worry about the time and how I shouldn’t be here.

Meals and housework continue to reside in the back seat because I haven’t been up to it. Have I ever been up to it? No. Some day I will get the ladder out and set that picture upright. Refer back to not holding your breath.

Another place to breathe easy is when I sit down to read God’s word. Have you ever read something that just impacts you to the core? If not, the Good Book is a great place to start. I enjoy reading of history, families of the past, and what to expect in the future. Even if you are into Sci-fi or talking animals, it literally has something for everyone. Royalty, family rivalries, you name it.

Each time, I come away with a peace that cannot be explained. The pages reveal that there is a reason and a plan for living. Inside you will read how much you and I are loved; I’m telling you it’s over the top and sets your life straight…no ladder needed.

Willow’s Apron

© jb katke

I thought the Facebook post was kinda cool and so did my granddaughter Willow.

So much of what we read in social media can be taken with a grain of salt. The truth is questionable. But if you like what you read, you share it. That is what I did with a blurb I read some time back on aprons.

The post I speak of had a picture of an older lady wearing an apron. I connected with it as it reminded me of my grandma wearing her apron.

It was what women did back in the day. The post shared the various ways aprons were used. Things that never entered my mind, so it proved to be informational. Let’s see how many I can recall.

  • Drying tears. Young moms know children are capable of crying many times a day. It is a part of their life. An apron can mop them up.
  • A convenient carrier. One did not have to be a farmer to sport a chicken coop in the backyard. An apron was a handy carrier to bring those eggs in the house.
  • A hiding spot for timid little people. When a visitor came to the door, forget about introductions.
  • Temperature control. If a woman got the chills, wrap that apron over your arms. Or if standing over a hot stove got a bit much,  grab the corner of it to mop perspiration.
  • A gardening essential. During war time, Victory Gardens were the rage. Homeowners were growing their own vegetables to economize. To scoop their harvest in an apron was downright convenient.
  • Picking up fallen fruit. Those fortunate enough to have a few fruit trees experienced those that fell from the tree. The trusty apron was ready to pick them up.

Willow decided she needed an apron. I had nearly forgotten my promise to make her one until venturing into the sewing room. There was the pattern she selected waiting for me. My work was cut out for me.

It was a way of connection with her that thrilled me. How Willow uses her apron remains to be seen. The above uses are almost obsolete, her life looks different than way back then. Young people today are creative and will find a distinctive way making it every bit as useful.

Susanna Wesley found a unique use of her apron. Her children were told when mom has the apron over her head, do not disturb, she was in prayer. Google her for a powerful story.

We can look upon those old time uses to be ripe for picking up germs. Aside from washing hands before mealtime and washing behind your ears in the bath; concern for germs were unheard of. If anything, letting your system build up an immunity could be good for you.

No doubt I will get some flack for saying that. I come from the generation that made mud pies and took outside drinks from the garden hose. What more can I say but I lived to tell you, and deal with it?

A Fine Way

This is a fine way to start a new year. Forget your routine.

Each Tuesday I have a blog posted for you to read. It’s always written ahead of time. Except for today. When you rise, it’s there for you to open. Here it is folks, better late, than never. Not that I have any wise words to share today. It’s just…

Sometimes life gets in the way.

It would be convenient to tell you there were so many returns to take care of in the gift department. Only that would not be the case here. My involvement of holiday festivities is not nearly as much as some folks. Same with the New Years parties.

I haven’t begun the putting away of the holiday décor yet. So that is not my problem.

No, I think it must have been the let-down of the season. All the demands of Christmas and New Years are over. The time has come to just sit down and relax. Enjoy the silence.

Pick away at the leftover snacks that none of us need to eat, but we do. Have that extra cup of coffee, take the book that has been neglected for the last few weeks and read. Take joy in having no place to go.

It is possible I over-indulged.

The grocery shopping can wait. The last few weeks I have only shopped for the necessity of the moment. The pantry needs restocking in the regular stuff-you know, the year-round things like salt and pepper. The stuff that adds spice to your daily life.

I was surprised to read the Good Book speaks of salt. While I have never experienced it, the book says it can lose its flavor. It draws an analogy of comparing the spice to people. With all the hubbub, we can lose our ‘flavor’ in life.

Maybe that is what happened to me. With all the commotion of the holidays, I lost my flavor for living. I needed a time out to just be. No more demands please. Take the time to refuel.

A good way to do that is picking up the Good Book, blow the dust off and read God’s word. It refreshes the mind-establishes the important things in life and gives the steam to keep on keeping on.

Life does go  on. Soon we will return to work, the kids will go back to school. Make the time to refuel, it is worth it.

A New Day Dawns

© jb katke

We are days away from a new year.

That usually prompts my self-reflection. Looking back, I tend to give thought to what I have endured, what I have accomplished. How satisfied am I with self?

My Momma always said, “If you know what your problem is, you’ve got it half solved.”

Oh yeah?

Case in point. I had written a partial blog to share with you today. It needed editing and set forth to do so. Somehow I wound up with two files. In my effort to delete one of them, I found, no can do. I tried the other one. That did not work either. Only to learn, what I had deleted was the content, not the title. Of both.

Swell. I know just enough about computers to be dangerous. Use caution when tapping that delete button-learn from your mistakes. If you are one of my faithful followers that read my words regularly. Take a moment to stop here and be amazed I do not mess up more often.

All this to say, folks are quick to beat themselves up. It is so easy to do. No one knows me better than I know myself. Well, my mom and my husband, but they are biased. They love me.

This is where I must remind myself that our Creator knows me too. I am a piece of his work. So are you. Mankind was made in the image of God himself.

News flash, he too is biased. He loves what he created. He gifted us with a mind and will do as we please. Nothing pleases our Creator more than for us to seek out his wisdom.

Warning, this is gonna sound sexist. Have you ever driven with a male, lost in the drive, but refuses to look at a map or refer to the GPS? It does not come as second nature for a person to seek assistance. Just give him enough time and he can figure it out.

Another no can do effort. Consider our Creator as a GPS. The creator of the universe can guide and lead us in what direction to go, and much more. He thought so highly of his work (in progress) that he provided a way to live with him forever.

We just wrapped up the holiday of celebrating the earthly birth of his son, Jesus. He came and accomplished his mission. Providing a way to live forever with the Creator. You can read all about it in the Good Book. But…there is a hitch.

Picture in your mind a gated community. Not everyone has access to enter. Only those who belong. You do not allow just anyone entry into your house because they do not belong there. Neither does the Creator.

You may be asking how can a person belong in this forever life? He gives us the key in his book. He makes it accessible. It is a gift that you can accept or not, it is up to you. Ya gotta want it.

Happy New Year to a new you!

Chocolate Chip Caper

© jb katke

The next thing I knew I was catapulted out of the kitchen, landing at the dining table several feet away.

Laying in my landing spot a few minutes, I took stock of my well-being. Shock that it was, I was grateful arms and legs were all in their proper places. I was going to live.

I was trying to bake some chocolate chip cookies for my man that would equal my daughter, Naomis.’ She makes (almost ) the best I’ve had. Hers are not sprawled all over the bake sheet, but nice uniform, and thick cookies.

I say almost because she uses the same ingredients I do, which is minus the walnuts. It’s all shes’ known, not realizing they could even be better with the walnuts. I’ve never included them because her dad doesn’t like them.

To coin the phrase that Peter Paul Mounds commercials say, “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.” My Dave has never felt like a nut. But that is getting off the subject at hand.

The cookies were all mixed and ready to be chilled before baking. As I contemplated which mixing bowl to use for chilling, I continued around the kitchen island, forgetting the cabinet door was still open.

Hence, I flew through the air with not the greatest of ease. Admittedly, it was a self-inflicted injury. With a fair amount of time, it was also a home remedy that healed me.

Momma always said, “If you know what your problem is, you have it half solved.” I now close kitchen cabinet doors. They can be hazardous to your health.

The end result; my efforts could not be compared to Naomis’ cookies. I’ve heard good cooks, when sharing a recipe, will deliberately omit an ingredient or useful information.  I hate to think my Naomi would do that to her momma.

This tale was not recently. It must have come to mind because in years past I would be up to my eyeballs with baking Christmas cookies. Not so anymore. Dave and I are empty-nesters and don’t need all those calories. Except my guy really likes his sweets and they have become slim pickins at home. 

These days, we aim  to focus on the reason for the season. A celebration of Jesus’ birth. I’ve heard it said that many babies became a King, but Jesus came as a baby and a King. If you will pardon my pun, he is sweet on mankind, and wishes to be our personal Savior.

He is a Savior, but can only become a personal one by invitation. It takes faith, trust, and an admission that he is a much-needed ingredient in living a good life.

Merry Christmas!

Random Holiday Thoughts

© jb katke

Some day in the future I will look back on this and smile. But not today.

My household is currently experiencing some challenges. My dearly beloved husband, Dave, is entering his third week of a cold. Like none other he has ever had. An ear infection decided to join in his misery. Thankfully that is better…sort of.

This none-like-any other cold has rendered him hard of hearing due to congestion. Therefore, the volume has been upped on the TV. If we try to talk, that volume has to be increased too. Conversation has been limited because it does a number on my throat.

I had a cold too, but not as bad as his. All said, it can wipe the smile off your face.

Home is loud, but it will come to pass.

Another challenge is not being up to the demands of the moment. My house has taken a hit in the cleaning department. I’m behind in the décor for the season. Good heavens girl, some don’t have a home to decorate. Suck it up!

The Christmas tree is finally up and I decided to limit what ornaments I put on it. Each year looks like the last because my ornaments never change. A self-inflicted dilemma, as I couldn’t live with myself buying new everything each year. Do I store the old ones in my down-sized home or give them away? That’s a waste of funds.

Not so this year; but with its sparse appearance, the lights on the tree shine so bright we can’t see what little is on it. Methinks I will have to buckle and put on more trimmings. This too will come to pass.

Is it just me, or do the holidays come at the busiest time of the year?  Folks tend to make the season more than celebrating Jesus’ birth. Frenzy reigns and joy fades.

It can make one wonder if the Grinch is real and really has stolen Christmas because people are hurting.

Recently I read a book, Peering Into The Tunnel, An Outsiders Look Into Grief by Angie Clayton. She addresses the different kinds of grief and how to come along side a hurting person. Loneliness is part of the package; Clayton shares how we can make a positive difference in the life of those who grieve.

Jesus was good at that. It seems the people that have been hurt know how to minister to others in their pain or grief. He grieves that people disregard him and his teachings of how to live well. To ease loneliness can mean the world to one who suffers.

The season of joy to the world can appear unattainable. Not so. Be Jesus with skin on to help  pain and grief come to pass.  

Post Thanks

 © jb katke

Our Thanksgiving holiday is over. May my thankfulness not discontinue. Even though things went askew from expectation.

I have dubbed the day before Thanksgiving as national pie day. This year was no different, although the kitchen was. Dave and I had made the trek to Michigan to celebrate with our son, Jamie, and his wife, Sara.

Sara’s mom now spends her days in a nursing facility; making her condominium available for us to stay. It has all the comforts of home and makes our visits affordable. We are thankful.

On national pie day I arose early to get started on my task. Jamie had provided beautiful, large MacIntosh apples that I lovingly peeled. In my world it’s the MacIntosh that makes my pie so good, no other apple will do. Don’t even bother if you haven’t got them. With the ingredients all in their place I set it in the oven to bake.

Taking joy in my contribution towards the meal, this apple pie is one of Jamie’s favorites. I was feeling all the fuzzies mothers do when providing  something special for their no longer youngster child. Shortly after I began to smell the lovely aroma. I was thankful to be doing this for him.

Glancing at the oven a couple minutes later I noticed smoke coming up from one of the burners on the stove. That shouldn’t be. The appetizing aroma had turned into an offensive burnt odor. The pie was ruined.

The oven heating element had decided to malfunction, that is not uncommon in an appliance seldom used. The preheat continued heating, not stopping after reaching the temperature I had set. Hence the burnt offering.  I was reduced to purchasing a ready-made pie from the store that lacked any kind of flavor. But life goes on.

Later in the week, I tried putting a load into the washing machine, which in turn, decided to break down. There my clothes sat, with liquid detergent soaking into them, minus the water to dilute. I was able to rescue them by soaking until I was able to use Jamie and Sara’s washer. Ditto for lack of usage, although Jamie had used it not long ago. Still, I felt awful.

By this time, I felt like a jinx to appliances, half afraid to use the garbage disposal that might follow suit with the other appliances. They might be in cahoots with each other, making me look like some kind of mayhem home wrecker

“Just don’t ask to borrow my car Mom.”  Now why would Jamie say that knowing I didn’t need his car? Sometimes, it’s just hard to understand our kids thinking.

Despite the best of plans, sometimes things just don’t turn out the way we want. The good Lord has provided plenty of opportunities for me to roll with the punches. It’s just that I’m a slow learner. I will continue to be thankful for a mind that can be molded and reshaped to fit what the Lord has in mind for me.

Christmas 2022

 © jb katke

Tis the season to be jolly. Are you feeling it? I’ve been told the Christmas carols were lurking about long before Halloween.

While I don’t want to camp here, many look upon the holidays with dread. It’s another year without a loved one, a time where family thinks Grandma should be baking all those Christmas cookies, another season where gifts are expected. So many demands of the season. And maybe you’re just are not feeling it. Yet.

I wish to introduce you to some alternative ways to tackle the holiday season. If you don’t have a home church to attend, try one this year. Lots of people do. The choices are many, but if you find a keeper church, make it a new tradition to go every Sunday throughout the next year. You may be surprised to find many others like yourself. Find joy in getting out of bed to hear an encouraging word.  

We don’t have to look far to see another individual in need. You could make a difference. Particularly this year, with so many coming at us from foreign countries. I don’t wish to camp there either. But I will share a couple experiences Dave and I had long ago.

While still living in Michigan, we learned the family living across the street were renters from Great Britain. The company the husband worked for sent him to the US on a temporary project. It was Thanksgiving and we decided to open our home to them for our big dinner. We all had a wonderful time and later they returned the kindness by inviting us over for a meal. What stands out in my memory was their greeting us by the door, all standing like ducks in a row to welcome us. Traditions vary and its fun to learn how others celebrate.

Another time, here in Kansas our church gathered the names of some in our community that could use a little Christian love. We were encouraged to use baskets to fill with all kinds of food for a Christmas meal. Our Bible study group decided on a laundry basket instead, as it would hold more and be useful the rest of the year too. We shopped together gathering food for a meal not to be forgotten. When we delivered it, we became aware, this family had no oven!

That was not acceptable for the turkey we had in their basket. Fortunately, one of our group had a family member employed at an appliance shop. (Need I insert here that God never makes a mistake? The Good Book says all things work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose.) A range was selected for them and we got it delivered and installed in time for that meal.

Whatever your traditions may be, I wish you the Merriest Christmas ever.

Genuine Thanksgiving

© jb katke

Bear with me as this memory is etched in my memory bank. Good memories are worth retelling.

 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 close to the holiday made commitments to anyone’s invite to join them for our big annual family 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. Its natural she would, being the mother of four.

Our church made a point of delivering meals when a new infant joins the family. 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.

To me, that is a picture of sacrificial love. Unexpected, but appreciated annually. May each of you be blessed with good memories, great friends, and an appreciation of how God works in your circle of people.


 © jb katke

“Age is just a number.” So said my Dad. Ha!

No one likes numbers, no matter what they are indicative of. Every year we get a little older. If anyone asks me how old I am, I’m always tempted to add ten so that others think I look good for my age. But it doesn’t have to be all about age.

The last time we bought a bathroom scale, I liked what we chose because it had 125lbs on it. Bringing it home and peeling the label off was the last time I saw that acceptable number.

Dieters have never been friends with counting calories. All the good food is high in caloric count. It’s no wonder our overweight population throws up their hands in surrender.

We could speak of the Senate and House of Representatives; someone is bound to not like the who has the majority number.

Quilters accumulate a stash of fabric that like-minded quilters envy. While a non-quilter is aghast at all the money spent for something that is going to require more storage. The expense mounts to ever higher prices.

Speaking of, everything has gone up in price. Americans are hit with higher rent, an enlarged food bill, including the over-the-top heating a bill. I have yet to meet an individual that is happy about the rising figures as they try to live normal lives.

Clocks can be included in the numbers game. Is it just me, or does time move faster now? As a child time dragged for me. Now? I make the bed, figure out what’s for dinner and boom, its time to cook it.

Let’s not forget calendars, the ultimate day counter. Days used to take forever to end and now they fly by so fast I can’t keep track. Sometimes it takes me all day to figure out what I want to accomplish, then it’s too late to start anything.

My clothes dryer can’t count. I’ll set the dial for forty-five minutes and the timer rings twenty minutes later that the clothes are dry. Um, not.

Were you aware the Good Book speaks of numbers too? There is a whole book that gives us the details. It focus’s on the disobedience of a nation, relying on their strength in numbers instead of what God promised to do for them. It was a big no-no. The New Testament tells us God knows the hair count on our head. Not that that is important, but it does indicate how involved he is in our lives.

Furthermore, he mentions our days are numbered. Bottom line, I think we just need to use the time we have in the best way possible. That’s what the Good Books Solomon concluded too. He determined work will bring joy in accomplishment and following God’s direction is our duty. Wow.  

Grunt Work

© jb katke

My thoughts take on a dangerous subject. Education, the higher kind. But first my confession.

My husband and I are into reality TV. Our viewing pleasure ranges from home improvement to how things are made, with a smattering of history.

One favorite is How America Works ( The show is hosted by Mike Rowe and features all aspects of things we never think about. The shows have covered firefighters, how aluminum is made on down to sugar, corn mills and a whole lot more.

All of them boast of the work and products that maintain America. Its informative and by shows end, one appreciates what these average American workers do to make our life easier and/or safer.

As I have watched various episodes, I took notice of the employees featured on the worksites. Not all these individuals have a higher education. Some are college educated, but for the most part a mere high school education.

These are blue-collar workers, doing what some refer to as ‘grunt work.’ Grunt work is generally looked down upon, considered an undesirable, thankless and menial job. But as I watch these workers do their thing, they are not ignorant. Instead, they take pride in what they do realizing its importance.

I have found no shortage of self-esteem, not to say they are snobs, but they know what they know. Their vocation provides a necessary commodity to communities all across the nation. They are knowledgeable on their product and well-versed in presenting it before a camera crew.  

Being a person that is comfortable as a wall flower, I’m impressed at the ability of others  to speak before a nationwide audience. One doesn’t need an education to do that. What is needed is confidence of the on-the-job training they were privy to.

Education is a hot topic these days. I don’t wish to get into a debate. There is nothing wrong with having a college degree, some jobs require it. But according to, we may give consideration to these stats. Forty-one percent of college graduates are unemployed in their study line, of that, 33.8 percent are underemployed; meaning the grads are working at jobs that don’t require higher learning.

College is not for everyone, and there is a place for everyone in our society. They too, provide an important asset to how we live. Just as important as doctors and teachers to name a few. You may come home filthy dirty or bone tired, as well as the satisfaction of a job well-done.

Putting TV and education aside, how does your reality of life rate? If it is failing you, there is help and hope to be had. I know this guy, Jesus is his name, empowerment is his game.  Upon request, he will add a dimension to life you may have never experienced before. He more than loves you and has a task custom made you…along with his help I might add. The two of you together will make an amazing team and the self-worth and satisfaction goes sky high.

Mind Bending

 © jb katke

It’s over now. A piece of my history.

Those close to me knew I was dreading Saturday. The potential excitement turned out to be more than I could have imagined.

I participated in my first book-signing. That’s a good thing, right? Years of writing became a physical reality in producing my first book. That is an accomplishment by anyone’s standard.

Never have I imagined authoring a book. I was not a writer, not even given to journaling. When the notion was introduced to me, I balked at the idea. It wasn’t in my radar, nor my bucket list.

Some things take time to sink in. It occurred to me when the Lord brings something to attention, it’s best to listen up. Not only is he a God of action, he means what he says. The Good Book is full of instruction; those that  heeded it and people who did not. The latter was not a pretty sight.

As time went by, more incidents of my life were recalled, proving my life was not as uneventful and I had always thought. Putting my encounters down on paper, I realized the Lord has been involved in my life more than I thought. One Day Wonders, Ordinary Days Becoming Extraordinary came to be. Or birthed, as my writing coach puts it. It took labor to make it happen.

The difficult thing is I am an introvert. Talking with others is not a problem, but often after being in a crowd, I feel the need to crash at home. It wears me out. Hence, my dread.

My how the picture changed. A week ago, I was diagnosed with COVID and felt awful. That’s when my mind did a flip. Suddenly, I was concerned I might not be able to be a part of the book-signing event. Recovery was out of my hands.

Just like that, the thing I was dreading became something I wanted to do. Worried that the decision was out of my hands, I did the only thing I knew to do. Discuss it with the Lord. This whole book thing was his idea in the first place.

What I did sounds ludicrous even to me. Keeping in mind who prompted me to write, I gave the Lord permission to do whatever he wanted with my health. Why not trust the one who has all the control? His decision would be all right with me. As if he needed my permission! If I’m healed, I will go through with the book-signing. If I remain sick, he will get me through it.

Waking up in the morning, I felt good. Getting up hours before I have been through the week with no help from an alarm clock. The strange thing is I felt no dread, just calmness. And peace.

This is why I am sharing my day with you. Concerning the things in life you may dread; you can have the same experience I did. Good intentions are nice, but determination takes a person only so far. Bottom line, some things are just outside of human jurisdiction.

It’s nothing more than a simple trust in someone who has more power than you do.

The Nike Thing, Just Do It!

 ©jb katke

When a person does not feel good, we need a comforting environment. Even if it looks too much like a funeral home.

“Mom, by the time I went to bed, my heart rate had slowed to 127 beats per minute. I was not sure I would wake up in the morning. I told the Lord he could take me if he wanted, although I didn’t know who then would take care of Sara.”

Those words are enough to chill any mothers heart down to the core.

Jamie’s wife, Sara, with autoimmune disease, has multiple health concerns. They have no children to look after them, and are currently caring for Sara’s mom in her elder years. The two of them have a full plate with no room for further illness.

But Jamie tested positive for COVID. I wanted in the worst way to be there for him, but there are miles between us. He’s a grown man, for goodness sake, but motherhood knows no end date.

His request from a year ago flashed through my mind. “I’d really like you to write about your mom, to know more about my grandma.” Have I done it? No.

I’ve gotta do this thing, we never know how much time we have. Chances are his sisters would like it too. Too bad I don’t understand more about the human psyche to comprehend why we don’t do the things requested of us. Particularly, for the ones that we love the most.

Me of all people, should value that simple request. In my younger years, I never thought to question the past of my family. Today is too late, they have all gone to their eternal home. The history I will never know until we are joined together again. If we are joined together.

This situation has gotten me off my proverbial butt. Even though my favorite chair (Edith’s chair, only because it is mine, it’s Julie’s chair) calls out for me to settle in with my current read or sit a spell to work out my Sudoku puzzle.

No instead, I tackled the ironing, and picked up that blasted unfinished quilt that we are using on our bed anyway. Time is ticking. But words must be written, passing on what little family history I know. Even if no one asked for it, someone down the road may find it more than interesting.

I am learning that the hard way.

Another thing I learned recently; one can contract Covid through cell phone lines. Who knew?

Not to blame Jamie or anything, but I have no idea where I picked it up at. I graciously shared with my husband, Dave. Neither of us are amused, but count ourselves among the fortunate to live to tell about it.

At this point we are too weak to point any fingers. The other night, Dave accidently spilled his drink on the carpet and I jumped (as fast as I could) to mop it up. “I think that’s the most work you’ve done in three days!”

If I were stronger I would have let him have it between the eyes. Besides…it was only two days.

Wednesdays With Ardie

© jb katke

To others Ardie and I may have had an unlikely association.

Our friendship took birth when we met at a local quilt guild; connecting immediately. We promised each other to do lunch and quilt together every Wednesday afternoon.

Have you ever made a commitment that sometimes was inconvenient, then much later, look back at those times with fondness? Ardie loved to go out to eat. She spoke my language, as I enjoy going to different restaurants. I let her make the call where we went.

Her husband Bill’s job took him on the road; forcing him to eat lunch out daily. When he returned home, he wanted a home-cooked meal. After his retirement, he was not in good health. She too was retired from nursing and more than able to care for him. Those meals out never happened.

Until our commitment with each other. Are you aware Wednesday comes on a weekly basis? There were days, thankfully not often, that I wished for a Wednesday to call my own. I recall one day in particular that my thoughts were traveling down that road. What would I do if I had the afternoon to myself?

Out of nowhere, tears came to my eyes. What would I do without her?

Ardie meant so much to me, I would miss her terribly. Our afternoons were never wasted as we solved the world’s problems together. Quilting bees from days back when were much like that. She had an uplifting way about her. At the end of our afternoon, she would send me home to my responsibilities feeling good.

Those Wednesdays were like recess in elementary school. I was free to do what I loved. Quilting was new to me and Ardie was highly skilled. Such an encourager she was.

Ardie was old enough to be my mother. She had two daughters, but one day she commented, “You could have been one of my girls.” Both of us enjoyed that notion. My own mother had passed away several years ago. You could say we each filled a void in our lives.

I was comfortable enough with her that she helped at some Bible memorization. Church-going was in Ardies past, but after her children grew and left home, the habit didn’t continue. Often that is the case with empty-nesters. It saddens me that she did not have comradeship with like-minded Christians, as I had with this quilt buddy of mine.

During our friendship she was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t her first rodeo; I remember her words. “I’m not going through the radiation and chemo route again. It doesn’t enhance life nor lengthen it either.” The cancer won and I do miss her.

My todays are filled with what would I do without Ardie. Wednesdays mine again. For the most part, my quilt days are over. Now I devote time to writing. The life of a homemaker does not lend itself to variety. But the Lord brings me plenty of variety that fills my void.

Halloween Memories

What makes Halloween memories so great?

We had some good times that included candy, that’s why. Perhaps glad there are no do-overs? My past Octobers used to be filled with sewing costumes. I don’t miss it. Michigan Halloweens come cold. There had to be enough room under the costume for a winter coat.

Another factor, which I don’t share, is getting scared out of your wits. That has never been pleasurable, real life has enough blood-curdling thrills. Consider today.

I hope I am not too late with this message.

If you have been listening to news lately, there are many concerns about Fentanyl entering our country in various forms, one of which is candy. Many are frozen in fear of their children falling victim to this deadly drug.

The fear is not new. When my children were young, there was a scare at this same time of year concerning needles and razor blades found in candy and apples. That and this Fentanyl deliberately placed in the hands of innocent children makes anyone’s blood grow cold.

What can a parent do when children cannot go out Trick or Treating? In the eyes of small people, this is not an option. Parents want their kids to be safe, to have a good time, and make memories to look back upon.

There is an option I will share.

The mothers in my neighborhood threw a party. Instead of going door to door, we decided the safest bet was providing a different memory. This was not an easy task for yours truly, who is not a party animal.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. One mother offered her yard. It was an ideal setting backed up to a park bearing spooky trees at night, complete with wind blowing through them. All of us volunteered homemade treats; we had to make a large quantity to compensate for not begging candy from the home of strangers. At least we knew what was there and that all food was safe for consumption.

Games were planned and the kids all seemed to have a great time. Most of all though, we mothers could take a sigh of relief knowing our kids were not going to be a statistic of a death related to this foul play.

That’s what loving parents do. Provide stability in fearful times, showing a different way of having fun, keeping innocent ones safe. Just like Jesus did. He showed a different way of life, provided a safe place to live.

And fun. It doesn’t have to have an evil intent.

Images Created

© jb katke

Each day I see my image in the mirror and I seldom like what I see.

Working with what I have is a challenge. After I have done the best I can, I still look like me. Or not.

Our image actually goes deeper than what is visible on the outside. Deeper than our DNA even. Our feelings stem from the beginning of time. I say that with confidence because God said so. Reading in his first book, everything he created was “good.”

People are made in God’s image. Look with me at mankind as a whole.

We laugh, get angry, shed tears, feel sorrow, mourn, love, hate, experience times of both energy and fatigue,  get impatient, and last but not least, passionate. I have experienced every one of these feelings. Have you?

Each of those expressions come direct from our Creator. The Good Book proves it.

Check out what Nehemiah 12:43 mentions, “…the sound of rejoicing could be heard far away.” Hmm…that sounds like laughter to me.

What about anger? Numbers 32:10 says, “The Lord’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath…” I will let you research that.

Jesus, God’s son shed tears, “Jesus wept,” is found in John 11:35.

Sorrow and mourning. ”The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain,” says Genesis 6: 6. Wow, I better shape up!

He wrote the book on love. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.”

Hate too? Proverbs 6:16- 19 tells us God hates seven things. I’ll let you look that up on your own.

Energetic. Jesus drove the money-changers out of the house of worship. Read how in John 2:15.

Fatigue. Jesus had a quiet spot to recharge himself at the Mount of Olives, according to Luke 22:39.

Impatience, can ya believe it? Take a look at Mark 8:12, Jesus sighs!

Passionate to his cause. Acts 2:3-4 tell what the Holy Spirit did to ordinary men.

Feelings are legitimate, but also short-lived. They change. Except what God has created in you. That soul, that lives forever and reflects the Guy who made you. He considers you good because you’re a reflection of him. Your image in the mirror needs to hear that.

Perfection is impossible on planet earth, but with God’s help your life can show others what he is like.

Getting High

 ©jb katke

I’ve only gotten high twice. Both times by accident.

Recently I finished reading a book by Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy, What Are The Odds? He has a story. His words introduced me to a life I have never experienced. Nor do I care to. Reading it comes close to being a downer until the end, oh never mind, spoiler alert.

My own experience was the time I returned home from the hospital to recover from surgery. My exit instructions were not to take the pain killer unless needed. It went in one ear and out the other.

As I readied for bed, my thoughts were to sleep through the night. That doesn’t happen in the hospital where vitals are taken round the clock. It never made sense to me for a nurse to offer a sleeping pill when she knew darn well I would be awakened in the night.

At home, I was looking forward to an undisturbed night and didn’t want pain to be waking me up before morning. I popped the pill…when I was feeling no pain yet. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the instructions and proceeded to have a night of little sleep. Instead, I spent the night being quite happy and grateful I was not hurting.

By morning I was grateful the drug had worn off. Meds don’t last forever.

The second time I got high was on a shopping trip. Who knew it can happen without drugs? There was a super sale on quilt batting and I aimed to get me some. Other shoppers had the same intent; there were not many rolls available, making my chances slim of getting one.

But the good Lord saw fit that I was among the fortunate few to snag one. I was flying high, euphoric that my trip was a success. Particularly when I had no control over the situation.

 I no longer quilt, but still get excited about it; as I am a non-believer in luck. That is what it is like to be on the receiving end of a God-blessing. The high stays.

What a difference between the two. One high wears away, leaving you wanting more. The other warms your heart years later. All because Jesus loves you. What baffles me are the folks that shun his love when it is so incredibly pleasing.

If people only knew the truth! The Good Book says it in a variety of ways. “I am with you always.” “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Speaking for myself, I have a good handle on weakness.) “The truth will set you free.” (That has to sound attractive to a weary soul feeling trapped by circumstances.)

Jesus loves to love people. We are the only creation made in his image. One needs to look no further than a mirror to get an idea of what he looks like.

Furthermore, mankind is designed for a purpose. That I have only recently begun to experience. Jesus knows what we can easily do. But he wants us to step forward into something unfamiliar, that only he can help us through. Then we get to experience his awesomeness. It’s a supernatural, mind-expanding high that stays with you.

It Shouldn’t Happen

©jb katke

It should not have happened. I was so careful.

But it did.

Recently at my local thrift shop I purchased a shirt that looked like it would fit. Trying it on at home, learning it was huge. The fit depends on the manufacturer, some clothing lines run large. Usually the upper end name brands, which of course are more expensive. Requiring a smaller size, in my world is worth the price.

Here I am, trying to downsize it by four inches. Tailoring is not my thing. Not only because I lack the training: but I used to work for a tailor. I look upon those days as a dark time in my life. I had been sewing for thirty years, but this Lebanese man, who could barely speak English, stood over my shoulder watching my every stitch. Eventually he walked away with his arms in the air and an, “Okay, okay.”

Clearly I was not living up to his expectations. Likewise, in my little sewing room working on this shirt, I was not living up to my own expectations. The fabric was a limp, loosie goosy challenge. The kind I generally avoid. It tends to get caught in the seam I’m sewing, and regardless of how careful I am, it happens. It did not disappoint.

Thinking I had a job well-done, I learned in ironing it the body of the shirt was taken up in my stitched seam. Frustration consumed me. After stitching, I had cut the excess off of the seam. I had to set it aside overnight. This tuck in the shirt was incredibly close to that cutting. Did I ruin it before I even had a chance to wear the thing? Had I thrown good money away? Okay, so it wasn’t much money, but still being a clothes horse, I never have too many changes of clothes.

Today I was back to it. Amazed at what I discovered. Each stitch I unsewed indicated the wayward tuck was not impacted by my trimming the seam. It’s a miracle! My little sewing escapade may seem trivial, but it brought something to mind.  

Churches are full of people that try so hard to do things right, and mess up. Day in-day out, week after week, expectations go unmet. Christ followers keep coming back for their weekly dose of encouragement. Things happen, even to those trying so hard to make sure they live right. Its part of living on planet Earth, being human dealing with stuff that should never be.

That tailor I worked for was a disappointment to me too. He was a married man with a lady on the side. He could not fathom why his wife was so angry with him. Wrong is wrong and he was old enough to know better.

It’s a miracle that Jesus never gives up on us, regardless of how we botch things. In fact, he doesn’t see any difference in varying degrees of wrong. To him, it’s all the same. Sin is sin.

That doesn’t give free license to do whatever a heart desires. It’s just that Jesus will meet us where we are when we are in tune with him. He is the only God I know that can take a wrong, and turn it around for good. That’s why what he does are called miracles instead of ordinaries.  It pleases him to please us…when we aim to please him. It’s a two-way relationship I’m talking about.

Who ‘Da Thunk It?

© jb katke

Oh. My. Goodness. It actually happened. This book has been in the works for five years and one lifetime.

In the process many of you have encouraged and supported this notion, that was never my idea in the first place. Without even realizing it, you believed Jesus would give me the words to write. And he did.

Do the names Perez, Hezron, Amminadab ring a bell to you? They don’t to me either, except they are mentioned in the Good Book. An FYI for you, they are part of the ancestors of Jesus and lived a noteworthy enough life to be mentioned in his book. Still, they may mean nothing to either of us.

I could name more. But you get the idea, we know little else about them. To you and I they are nobodies. Have you ever felt like a nobody? I have.

In one sense, its comforting, because little is expected of you. The truth of the matter is you are somebody to Jesus. We may not know each other, but I know he has plans that only you can accomplish. With his help I hasten to add.

Just because one likes to read does not make him or her a writer. Unless, Jesus is behind it. Suddenly, your life is replayed in your mind to your amazement. Have you found yourself in situations that you were clueless to how it would play out? Somehow it did because Jesus was right there with you.

I am not foolish enough to think he will get you out of a tight spot of your own making. Don’t be thinking he set you up; we all have made choices that ruled Jesus out of the equation. Even then, Jesus knows it and may throw a lifeline.

The question is, will you recognize it if he does? I have spent the better part of a lifetime clueless to his involvement in my life. Twenty-twenty hindsight has shown me I have wasted too many years in not thanking him.

Even so, his rescues never stopped. That is how strong his love is for mankind. That would include you.

Don’t make the mistake I did. I had dreams and aspirations of how I could please Jesus. My ideas, not his; as if he, creator of the world, needed my help. His workmanship speaks for itself. I can appreciate a good sunset, but had no part in making it.

My desire to serve those less fortunate fell flat. All because he had other ideas for my life. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned he doesn’t need people with an agenda and feel highly qualified. Rather he prefers those who feel completely inept, but willing to step into uncharted waters, splash around until they feel his support under their feet.

Then, put a seatbelt on. You are gonna get a ride like none other, and come out the other end feeling like Jesus’ somebody because of what you accomplished together. And surprise everyone in the process, especially yourself.

The purpose of One Day Wonders, Ordinary Days Becoming Extraordinary is for you to see your own life differently. I hope you do. Find it on Amazon.


Labor Force

© jb katke

What does a cookbook have to do with labor? Not much, if anything..

The year before our wedding, Dave gave me this cookbook for Christmas. A smart girl would have eagerly opened it to try out a few recipes. Not I. After the wedding I took the cellophane wrapper off to use it.

Red flags should have been flying for both of us. Food is important and cooking shouldn’t be. A side note: I have reason to believe that this particular cookbook could be valuable. This picture caught my attention. It doesn’t belong in a book of recipes. On the plus side, numerically the pages continue, so I’m not missing any recipes.  As if I would.

© jb katke

I wasn’t excited about cooking, then or now. Because I like eating I have been prompted to try my hand navigating around the kitchen. My first venture was making a roast beef. I highly recommend understanding the recipe prior to preparation. Unfortunately, I misread the roasting temperature to what was actually the inner roasting temperature. A long and slow 300⁰F brings better results in a timely manner, rather than the 165⁰F that takes all night. As the hours ticked by and bedtime was looming, we chiseled off a few bites to keep body and soul together.

It’s difficult to do an unlikeable task. I understand. Around town, we are finding help wanted signs everywhere. This concerns me and will pass what I have learned on to you for future reference.

When a person reaches senior citizen age, Social Security will come. A situation may arise. The income received in your elder years stem from how much you put into Social Security during those years of employment. With fewer people working now, it’s only a matter of time when it will not be pretty. Age happens, ready or not.

The government uses the social security we pay, if there are few employed, funds will be low. So low that by the time you reach retirement, there may not be a Social Security.

For our own best interest, employment should be considered. It has its benefits. Working gives us purpose. When I became employed my mind expanded, taking in knowledge of how one business serves another. Thank you Jesus for farmers and truckers. With no thanks to COVID, we had a taste of empty shelves at the store.

Employment keeps a person occupied so that time is not wasted on the frivolous. I learned time management, my job provided income, my responsibilities at home sustained our family. Both have value and bring positive self-esteem for the effort. At the moment, there is not an over-abundance of self-worth.

Contributing to society had another bonus. It taught my children the value of hard work. Even though life is work, I dislike the word ‘force.’ Like it or not, living does bring a kind of force. Balancing a job with pleasure takes work. Spending quality time with those we love takes time. Instilling a sense of right and wrong in our little people takes patience, and portion of our sanity. Take it from me, it’s worth it!

May the force be with you this Labor Day weekend, and beyond.

Stuff Hitting The Fan

© jb katke

If you are easily offended, there is no reason to read further. The following may not set well with you.

As I write, my husband Dave is installing a new fan in the home of some friends. To do so, he must first remove the old existing fan, then the new one will be installed. The darndest things will strike a thought in me.

Such as the following:

Has some stuff hit your fan? In our world, your country, the state you live in, maybe at school, work, or neighborhood? Your house even? Yeah you’re not alone. I hear you.

Your fan has been hit hard and debris is landing everywhere. Life can be hard to deal with. Perhaps like you, I’ve experienced some stuff. I know frustration well. Fear of the future has been with me longer than I care to admit. Sometimes anger seeps out of me. 

Allow me to share some words that may not resonate with you, they have helped me immensely.

As I plow through those tough days, I remind myself that God is in control. If ever there was a time to face that fact, it’s now. The Good Book has much to say about it and I’m passing on to you what I’ve read from the New Living Translation.

  • God knows what is going on. This is a mind-boggler.  Check out I Corinthians 2:9. (For sure this gives us the opportunity to see how awesome He is.)
  • What we are witnessing has been done before. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says so.
  • God provides. Look for yourself in 2 Corinthians 9:8.
  • Exercise your faith muscle. Read John 14:1 (This reeks what we have all heard, “Because I’m the mom and I said,” only here Jesus says it)

I must remind myself of these truths. Change is in the air. It will only benefit me if I can remember these facts so I can roll with the punches. Here is the really tough part.

If I get upset with events around me; it reveals my faith, or the lack thereof. If I am going to embrace the message of hope the Good Book offers then I must relax my hold on things I never had control of in the first place.

This forces me to deal with some things that are just wrong. But it also keeps me looking at God to see what He is going to do about it. He cannot be coerced to make life what I (or you) might want. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; with a perfect plan.  

Look what Malachi 3:6 says. Yikes, He can do that! Bottom line, don’t mess with God, he is a God of his word.

Maybe all of us should ditch the old stuff to make room for something better. That way the goodness of God can enter our lives. I promise a new and improved you (and I) will be better.

School Shopping Nightmares

Can I get an amen for how grueling back-to-school shopping is?

My first experience, when prepping our son, Jamie for kindergarten was hair-raising. It happened so many years ago but the memory never fades. I had asked my mom to come with us as Cindy, our youngest at that time could be a concern. She did not disappoint.

Cindy grew restless, so mom suggested they go for a walk. They had made it only a few steps when Mom encountered a friend of hers. They stopped to chat for only a moment, but that is all the time Cindy needed. As they moved on, mom reached for Cindy’s hand—which was not there. Cindy was gone.

Mom looked anxiously around, no Cindy. Up one aisle and down another, she was nowhere to be seen. How mom must have feared coming to me without my daughter. Together we fruitlessly searched clothing racks where little people like to hide.

As both of us were preparing our hearts for a missing child to be forever gone from us. A voice over the PA announced a missing child. Cindy, because she was well aware of where the toy department was, had gone up the escalator on her own to the furthest part of the store, collected a teddy bear and plopped herself down at the top of the escalator where she assumed we would meet her.

A stranger, recognizing the child was by herself, took her to Customer Service. I consider this shopper to be an angel in disguise. Today, Cindy is a grandma.

Another year of back-to-school shopping had me facing a fellow shopper ripping my face off. I was noticeably pregnant with Naomi, our third child.

“How dare you have another child!”

Sincerely, I did not know how to respond. This was back in the era of zero population growth, so she may have been of that persuasion. Or—she may have longed for more children, and that was not to be. We can never know the pain others may be dealing with.

My last unpleasant back-to-school shopping left me dumbfounded. As anyone knows, the children’s department is an upheaval from searching the right size. The lines into the fitting rooms were enormous. One mom, would have no part of that. She insisted her son, around eight years old, big enough to have a sense of modesty, to undress right there in the middle of the store.

The boy, sobbing, begged his mom, imploring her not to make him do it. She had reached her breaking point and forced him. I could not believe my ears or my eyes. I wonder what her relationship is with her son today? Those are things that stick in the memory bank.

To this day, they all stick in mine. I thank the Lord for bringing our Cindy back to us, for a tidbit of compassion for an angry mom, and giving us a healthy little Naomi.  Not to mention a God that only asks us to follow him, stretching us out of our comfort zone in a way that encourages us to keep our focus on him.

Each Day a Gift

“It’s a gift.”

The words easily rolled off my tongue. I meant it.

A new school year has begun, placing my husband back to work. Translation: Our summer days of living as if we were truly retired have come to an end.

Dave works for a company that services our local schools. Each day, late in the afternoon, he gets his work order for the following day. However, no contact was made for the first day of school. This seemed unusual to me, “Are you going to go in anyway, just in case you were accidently overlooked?”

“No, no work order means I’m not working.”

What we thought was our last full day together actually was not. We had one more to enjoy each other’s company. Hence, my ‘gift’ comment.

Not only had we received a gift, but I also had an opportunity to give a gift.

I was about to enter a small grocery store when a young man approached me. “Excuse me ma’am, could you help me out? This is not easy for me ask, but could you give me some money? My car is out of gas and I am in need of getting some formula and diapers for my baby, along with some food for the week too. I won’t get paid until next week.”

That is a lot of need. I hesitated at first. But have come to recognize our Good Lord knows who should be approached to meet some needs once in a while. Our family has known need from time to time too.

“I can go with you across the street to Target and help you purchase some things. Would that work for you?”

“I’m not sure they have everything, but my car needs gas too.”

“Would it help more if I got you gas instead?”

“That would be nice, if you could do that.”

We met at the corner station and as I filled his gas tank he proceeded to go to others nearby petitioning them. I realized there was a male passenger in the car. Be careful girl, you are alone.

Upon his return, “This is so good of you. Most people just tell me no and to shove off. They don’t give a damn about my needs. I went to my church, and they refused to help me too. I really need the money for diapers and formula, food too. I live in Paola, but was here to see my girlfriend.” The more he talked, the more flaws I recognized.

“What church do you go to?” He gave a generic name just about every community has.

“Let me call my husband, he will be expecting me home soon. “Hi Babe, listen I have received a ministry opportunity and may be a little late. There is a chance I might be going to Walmart, but I will let you know when we can meet up.”

“Would you like me to follow you up to Walmart where I might be able to help a little bit?”

“Oh no ma’am, you have already helped so much. All I need now is money.”

I could see where this is going. He wanted cash, nothing else would do.

“Well, if you change your mind, let me know. God be with you,” as we parted ways.

Almost at the grocer for the second time, I realized I didn’t get my receipt at the gas station. Rushing back, can I remember which fuel pump we were at? I did and it was still hanging there waiting for me.

Finally, arriving at the store for the third time, there the young man was. Asking for help to anyone who would listen. Red flags flew as the light dawned.

He was peddling at locations that did not have what he claimed he needed. This grocery store was limited in merchandise, but what they did have was good prices. There was a risk in seeking help at Target or Walmart because he may encounter someone willing to do what I did. Meet his supposed need, what he wanted was money.

He may or may not have a girlfriend and a baby. Only God knows. Having filled his gas tank, I may have enabled him to carry on his quest for cash. He may have considered me a fool. What he would do with the money is anyone’s guess. But…

Listening to my phone call, he learned I considered him a ministry. On our closing conversation he received my blessing of God being with him.

I am no gardener, but seeds were planted. What is done in the name of Jesus is never wasted. Never forget that.

Remembering Important Things

 © jb katke

Saturday morning proved my point. Truth does not lie.

My husband, Dave, doesn’t understand my thinking spots. I have been richly blessed with two. My bed, which keeps me from sleeping, and the shower.

The day started when the alarm rang, I could not get the thing turned off. As it fell to the floor I realized the remote control does not work for the alarm. Startled, I leapt out of bed realizing the sewing repair to our sun protector for the car had gone undone. The summer heat has made it essential to keeping the car cool.

Questions ran through my mind. Can I get it done before we leave the house? Should I eat breakfast before or after the repair? Is there time for any of this?

Then I woke up. We aren’t going to church; we are going out for breakfast. With church friends, hence my confusion. Today is Saturday, not Sunday. I don’t need to eat.

Jumping into the shower, shampooing reminded me I had not responded to the message my hairdresser sent me. She arrived at work late Friday, overlooking my appointment. No problem, it wasn’t until this week anyway.

Double checking that fact, it came to my attention I had never entered the appointment in my calendar. If I only had a brain.

I can remember things. Like the day I purchased these shoes. We had traveled to visit our daughter Cindy, and her family. Us girls took a shopping trip where I encountered these cute shoes. On sale for $4. Deliberation set in. Do I need them? They are sooo comfortable.

Incredulous that I would hesitate, Cindy piped up, “If you don’t buy them, I will!” This at a time when she barely had two nickels to rub together. As you can see, I bought them.

What I don’t recall is how long ago that was. But it has been years, and I relive that shopping trip today as I am about to pitch the shoes. They wore out.

It makes me sad but Dave is in awe of my memory. In marriage, it never hurts to be in awe of your spouse. Respect and admiration in each other is a healthy thing.

The Good Lord gave us a mind to use in memory and discerning.

It is important to remember that none of our circumstances are a surprise to God. It is a mystery how the human mind works, but always remember that he is in charge. It builds that aforementioned awe, respect and admiration.

No Staycation

Are your vacations via the posts of others on Facebook? That would be me.

This year though, we did a little travelin.’ It started out as business, with a conference I attended, but we took the scenic way home.

Our first stop was Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Thought I was gonna die there. The heat was unbearable for this Michigan girl with British blood. We found it best for me to enter lots of shops for the air conditioning.

A dangerous thing for a vacationer to do, shop. I came home with the most expensive purse I have ever owned. Remembering whatever we purchase must find a place to fit in a down-sized home is essential. Keeping in mind too, when moving to my eternal home, nothing comes with me helps too.

Continuing homeward we landed in Branson, also in Missouri. We encountered the Veteran’s Memorial Museum. I recommend visiting any of the Veterans memorials as they ooze so much information about a life not everyone has experienced. Considering what we hear in the news, I am not confident our children are getting historical facts of our country.

© jb katke

Memorials of all kinds are essential. More about that another time.  

We willingly endured a sales talk concerning time share vacation apartments. It wasn’t our first experience. Knowing what we set ourselves up for was worth getting a show at seventy-five percent off, plus a fifty-dollar gift card. A heads up for you, those salespeople don’t take no easily.

Traveling on, I noticed with pleasure the differences in locales. We passed a restaurant under construction. The site bore signs announcing the coming of a Schlotsky’s. At home we learn which bank is funding the build and who the construction company is. I don’t care about that, just let me know what’s coming.

We encountered minimal road construction, as opposed to enduring it everywhere in Johnson County. One can count on that every summer. All this to say we had safe travel and made some good memories. © jb katke

Travel is nice, but there is no place like home. Where the responsibilities lie. Reality bites but I cannot tell you how wonderful DVR’s are. It’s petty thing, but watching TV in the hotels and having to set through commercials are a pain. The commercials seem to run longer than the show itself.

Sleeping in our own bed is priceless. Settling down in our easy chair at home without sinking down to the bare wood frame is appreciated as well. Take a deep breath, enjoy where you are, vacation or no.

Seek joy wherever you can because I am convinced when settling into our eternal home, it’s gonna feel just as good.

Disdainful Treasures

© jb katke

The essentials of former kitchens. These are the tools of women of my past.

Can you recall the tools and utensils in your family kitchens and thinking how old, battered and ugly they were? Looking through child eyes I missed so much. I never gave a thought to how inefficient grandma’s kitchen was. She had a tiny counter; making her workspace at the kitchen table.

The table that partially jutted into the doorway leading to the dining room, making navigating between rooms difficult. People of her day never complained of inconveniences, they just made do. It was grandma’s lot in life.

Her smooth bottom cast iron fry pan is different than the likes we see on the market today, and incredibly heavy. It lacks the enamel exterior of a pretty color to admire as one cooks, but it served its purpose. Likewise with her enamel mixing bowls bearing a few nicks. In my minds-eye, I can still see her using them at that table.

The melamine mixing bowl was my mom’s. Then and now, it’s ugly to me. But I love it. The teal color is so old its new again. Looking back, Mom must have reveled having it because she seldom got anything new or what we refer to as ‘trending.’ She did not have a complaining spirit.

With the passage of time, I have come to treasure these things because they bring the women of my past to life. As a child, I didn’t appreciate them, but I do now. Even scripture from the Good Book speaks of children’s thought processes.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  I Corinthians 13:11 ESV

Mother and daughter knew their value and didn’t seem to need verbal appreciation. Which is a good thing because I’m not sure they got it. They adulted because that is what adults do.   Their mentality was serving the people they loved.

Jesus loved in that same serving manner and he wasn’t altogether appreciated either. Children adored him more than some adults. Little ones trusted, whereas many adults questioned.

His love continues to this day because Jesus can see in his minds-eye our future life with him. That is if we will accept it. Knowing we don’t deserve all the good things he has in store for us is humbling. Humility is not popular at the moment. Nor is trust. Nevertheless, his love exists.

Don’t be an Evelyn. Her thinking is as flawed and ugly as the mixing bowls. She is determined to get the best this world offers and is willing to step on anyone who gets in her way. She is oblivious to the hurt she freely inflicts on others.

Life with Jesus by your side, doesn’t work that way. He will chip away the flaws in our words and actions, creating a whole new person. One that draws people to want him in their life because they witnessed the change. It’s a promise to a willing heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new sprit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

Take him at his word.

Becoming a Sponge

 © jb katke

People and sponges have much in common. 

My hope this week includes becoming more sponge-like. Sponges absorb a lot. I best chose my words carefully or you may think I speak of drinking in excess. Not so.

Soon I will be attending a writers conference on marketing. Every bone in my body says I don’t want to learn this. Deep in my gut, I know it is precisely what I need. Do you have moments in your heart of not doing what is best?

It could be anything. A class, cross-training at work, exercise. Maybe it’s an unhealthy relationship. It’s a change that will ultimately better you, but the effort is daunting. Like a rung out sponge left drained. But it must be done.

This marketing thing is necessary if I want to sell my future book. It entails selling yourself. That is not my strong suit. Particularly when I have an inkling where this could take me. In time I may have to purchase a square, that little electronic doo-dad that attaches to your cell phone when someone buys my words.

What if I’m asked to speak somewhere? Standing up in front of people is difficult for an introvert. I may even have to learn Power Point. Oh. My. Goodness. Will it ever end? No. Learning is part of life. Do you see how important open-mindedness is? A prerequisite.

Much like a sponge, I have absorbed important things in life. Among my education has been getting to know our Creator. Sharing what I know of him to others is his plan for my life. That can be both exciting and humbling.

Someday I will grasp that change plays a large part in life. It begs the question of why do I put myself in these situations. The answer is simple and complicated because not everyone will “get it.”  It is not my doing, our Creator suggested it to me.

You may be getting messages from him yourself, not realizing who is speaking to you. Do you have nagging thoughts knowing  what you should be doing, but put it off? It’s a human trait, so don’t beat yourself up too much. Just enough to realize that it must be done if it will make you a better person.

The bottom line is this, my future includes meeting our Creator face-to-face. He’s gonna ask about the stuff he directed me to do. How come I didn’t follow through? He will ask the same thing of you. Make sure your answer will stand up before a really holy Guy.

Rather than consider the task daunting, look upon it as an opportunity. That is what life with our Creator is like, going from one amazing opportunity after another. Don’t be fooled, some of his opportunities look like mission impossible. It would be, without his participation, but knowing he is right beside you, watch and see what he can do!

Let the buyer beware, the upcoming book will tell you all about my life with him…when I wasn’t aware of his presence.

Kitchen Secrets

© jb katke

Oh, to have a formative mind. Or even a mind that can remember things. The right things, that is.

A lifetime ago, or so it seems, my youngest granddaughter, Willow, and I were baking together. I shared a kitchen secret about eggs. Cracking a raw egg in a measure cup that you will  use for either shortening or molasses prevents it from sticking and easier to scoop out.

Willow was young enough to grasp knowing secrets was a highly treasured confidence. “What other kitchen secrets are there Grandma?”  

That was all I could think of at the time, but olive oil does the same thing. Her “yes” to my inquiry if she liked cooking, prompted me to ask if she would cook for me when I get old.  No doubt she may not recall that conversation, but I am open to holding her to that commitment.

This came to the forefront of my mind as I pawed through the freezer. I came across a couple foreign objects used in previous meals, thinking there was enough left for future use. Normally I label what I freeze, but I will remember what it is. Sure, I will.

Both of them, some sort of sauce. Teriyaki from a recent chicken dinner, or is it Aunt Ellens pork glaze? Your guess is as good as mine. Fear of using the sauce on the wrong meat, you can guess what will happen this next trash day.

The problem is, I hate to cook. Always have.

Even before that catastrophe in my 7th grade Home Economics class. The class was cooking tapioca. Even the name sounds disgusting. I imagine it’s like eating lumpy pudding and the appearance is far from appetizing. But that is just me.

The ingredient list called for a dash of salt. I ‘dashed’ the salt shaker and the lid fell into the mix, pouring gobs of salt out in the process. Someone from a previous class thought this would be funny. It saved my table group from tasting it, so I guess I should be grateful.

It may not be the taste as much as the texture that seems revolting to me. If you eat it and like it, I would appreciate hearing your comments.

Is this you, do you feel the ingredients God used to create you are disgusting? Not everyone will agree with you. Putting the color of your hair and eyes aside, and every other aspect that makes you, you. Know this. You have been made to order, a custom job according to God’s specific specs. Do some research.

The first few chapters of Genesis in the Good Book speak of the sky, our earth, the animals, every natural thing you can imagine was made just right. God, himself said it was good. My guess he is equally happy with you as well. It’s easy to love kittens and puppies, but loving yourself as God does, not so much.

I encourage you to look into that book to find out what makes you so great. I will give you a spoiler alert, you are made in His image. You will also find surprising stories of  people and families that are similar to yours.

Many of them are word pictures of God and his son, Jesus. My personal favorite is the chic book, Esther, that makes no mention of God at all. But the stuff you find He did behind the scenes will amaze you. If you are a party animal, enjoy a good glass of wine, into fairy tale rags to riches stories and the consequences of what gut hate can do to a person, read on!  I have said too much, but I’m telling you the Good Book has something for everyone.

My Invisable Helper

© jb katke

Well folks, it’s happened again.

Some mornings I wake feeling defeated before the day begins. I hate it when that happens. The problem is I get easily overwhelmed. I have more to do than there are hours in a day. Retirement just ain’t what I imagined. Do ya know what I’m sayin’?

Then I remind myself, for most women, retirement is an illusion. You are familiar with the workload of a homemaker, so there is no need to elaborate. Grandma Andrews once told me, “A housewife never lacks something to do.” Those are true words if I ever heard them.

While I don’t do the gardening or canning grandma did, I do have one little teeny tiny task that makes all the difference in my world. I’m writing a book, and I am here to tell you that is difficult to accomplish. Particularly when I never dreamed, or set out to write. Ever. Period.

As if waking with a crummy attitude isn’t enough, I find myself behind in my allotted time reading the Bible. So, I picked it up this morning and the following is what I read,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress…”                                                                                                         Hebrews 12:1 NLT

It is uncanny how often when I am playing catch-up in my reading, I come across a verse that speaks to where I am at in that moment. I interpreted that to mean, others are watching. Girl, God’s got this. Don’t let little things get you down, there are others that suffered far more grief than you will ever know. There are people rooting for you

I continued reading.

So, take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet…”                                                                           Hebrews 12:12 NLT

The fact that God doesn’t make mistakes, wrestles in my mind and heart. The waters I tread are strange to me. Writing a book takes a truckload of effort; keep moving forward one step at a time. A saying comes to mind, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

My aim is not to spook you, but experience points to a supernatural experience.

People and circumstances have come to my attention making this a doable project, showing me the next step. I will tell you this. Never will I look at a book the same again. Authors literally pour themselves into the art of writing, not for the money, but because they either have a message to convey, or a desire to entertain.

As usual, when I read the Good Book, I feel strengthened and encouraged. Today is no different. I still find myself challenged, but God’s got this, it was His idea in the first place. My writing coach feels I will have book in hand yet this summer. She thinks great things of me because she knows an invisible Helper is by my side. Stay tuned to my continuing saga.

Kidnapped or Ransomed

Have you ever been kidnapped, without realizing it?

Possibly so, but not in the sense of how we define kidnap. Our society considers kidnapping to be taken against our will and held captive. Usually demanding a financial transaction to take place before setting free.

There are other dimensions to the word that we can pursue. Instead of being taken physically, some may be drug dependent, addicted to porn, subject to alcohol disease. Or perhaps fastened to social media on your phone? I know, ouch, right?  Not all of these issues are considered  life-threatening.

Obviously, drugs can kill. Alcoholics can eventually pickle themselves to death. But porn? That hurts no one. No one except maybe the spouse, or children if they are exposed to it. Involving children is a whole other issue I won’t focus on today. Our cell phones can easily take over the time and energy we normally devote in person-to-person interaction.

Look at what the Good Book has to say:

“For you know God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver”. NLT I Peter 1:18

The things of the world has the power to hold us captive. In the eyes of our creator, it is considered emptiness. Probably because addiction to stuff doesn’t provide lasting satisfaction. We want more. And then still more. Before we know it, we are held captive by our desires.

To a degree, I can relate. Maybe my desires were not life-threatening, but it did prove lasting satisfaction was not to be had. Continual wanting of more ties us down. Kidnapped. This has been the lot of humankind from the beginning of time.

In reference to the above verse, if gold or silver is an inferior payment, what could be of more valuable?

“ He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”               NLT I Peter 1:19

The guy we are talking about here, is Jesus, God’s only son, that he specifically sent to earth to die for our sins. The only way we can get to heaven is to confess our wrongs and agree with God that we need the kind of help Jesus offers. He paid the debt with his own blood, something far more valuable than gold or silver.

The two of them are waiting to hear from you, the ball is in your court. Tonight, you may be looking skyward admiring a fireworks show. Think beyond that to the celebration held in heaven when you invite Jesus to be part of your life. It will set you free. Free of worry, free of fear, free to tell others of what a difference Jesus makes in life here, and in eternity.

 Despite the confines of government, you will be free indeed because you are looking beyond the here and now. The hope of living in perfection forever awaits you.

People v People

The Supreme Court decision concerning Row v Wade has put so many loving people at odds. Air has become volatile, even among family members. Everyone feels they are right.

Individuals come to decisions based on their situations, and that is what forms the great divide. We all come from varying experiences. What is absolutely right for one individual could be the undoing of another.

Should either side of the issue become law? Pardon the pun, but conversations have become pregnant with emotion. Let’s remember that as long as mankind has existed, there has been a difference of opinion. How do we handle these times we live in without pointing fingers?

My mind goes back to a childhood television show, Leave It To Beaver. When the family hit a crisis point, Beaver’s mom would turn to her husband, “Ward, do something!”  In that era, we all had a sense of right and wrong. To cross an unacceptable line carried big consequences. Lines are still drawn, but no one seems to care anymore.

Correction, most people care, they are merely silenced by those with a louder voice. Who is it that carries the megaphone? We may not want to know.

Our Inventor of family could be taking a dim view of the society we are living in. It would not be the first time. A long time ago, he held sorrow for the likes of man, and allowed a flood to take many lives. We are here today because a certain few that held him in high esteem. The rainbow we see today after a rain is his promise he won’t do that again.

But he is capable of other things..

In the Good Book, I’ve read of a guy killing his brother, becoming a fugitive the rest of his days.

In another part, I read of a guy that murdered in defending someone, but after forty years was given an opportunity to defend a whole nation of oppressed people. The difference? The heart.

Years later, there was a dude that hated the people of that saved nation. To the extent, he devised a plan to have the race annihilated. Only it didn’t go quite as planned. Someone leaked the news and the dude found himself hanging. Literally. Not just him either, his boys too.

Therein, can be the problem. To focus so much on what is right in our own eyes, we become blinded to who else is being affected by our stance. The heart is the heart of the matter.

That is where the Ten Commandments come in handy. It pretty much lays out how we should treat others, whether we agree on everything or not. They are old, but gold, laid out by a Guy we cannot argue with.

Father is Watching2

 © jb katke

In my childhood our family didn’t take vacations, so I was eager to get to Burroughs Farms. It was beachfront park land owned by Burroughs Corporation, where my dad worked. Only Burroughs employees were admitted in. Looking back, I don’t know why I was excited. Mom would secure the ties of my swimsuit so tight around my neck I couldn’t stand up straight. Besides I didn’t know how to swim. Most of the time I was at the waterfront making sand castles.

There was this slide in the water that all the kids loved. I am a land-lubber at heart, even as a child. But decided to give it a try. However, once I got to the top of the ladder, my perspective changed. From my new perch, the water looked ominous. I was reconsidering my decision. My brother was nearby. He told the kid behind me, “Go ahead and push her, it’s OK, she’s my sister.”

Ready or not, down I went, with my arms and legs thrashing the water. Panic-stricken I couldn’t rise to the surface. Fortunately, Dad was watching and came to my rescue.

Did he see that I had been pushed? Was my brother in trouble? Had dad not been paying attention; I could have drowned. From that episode, I learned a greater respect for the power of water. 

There is always something powerful in our midst that can bring about danger. Have you noticed that too? Now days, we have something else to be mindful of. Video cameras are everywhere. They record the suspicious, traffic violations, and people doing stupid. On the flip side, they can offer protection and validation.

Our Heavenly Father also looks after us. Many a time he has saved me from what could have been a dangerous situation. He is attentive 24/7, nothing gets by him. His heavenly perspective is more accurate than what I see. What any of us see.

I am grateful for both my fathers. The one I had on earth and the one I have in heaven. As well as the father of my children. We have just wrapped up a weekend celebrating Father’s Day. Maybe there are a few that do not realize how valuable they are, how much they have to offer that balances what mothers teach their young. It takes all three to train up a child, don’t leave out our heavenly father. His love is greater than any evil power lurking about.

Thanks Dad

© jb katke

Dad, I’m glad you didn’t leave. There were tough days when it would have been so easy to walk out and never come back. Thank goodness that was not even an option in your thinking.

I don’t know if Mom ever said it, but she needs you. It’s not just her either, so do Sis and I. Looking back at all those camping trips, teaching us how to fish. Even if we didn’t like eating it. Mom is not as fond of fish as you, she would never have shown us the fun and challenge of catching them.

All those sports games you and Mom attended, just to watch me flub up. Your support meant so much, thank you for coming. Some parents never came. I guess I should include all the dance recitals too. Did you really enjoy all that tippy-toe dancing? The same heart went into attending those as my games, and it pleased Sis too, to see you proudly sitting there watching every her every move.

Many of my friends don’t have two parents at home anymore. I feel for them. I’ve seen Jimmy’s mom, after working all day, to come home to cook dinner. Then, help him with his homework, she doesn’t get the new math either. But she tries, sometimes she looks so tired.

You know what I loved the most? The times you entered my world, trying to master some musical instrument that just wasn’t going to happen. But you tried, so that we could have a good laugh together.

I know we kids have not always been so fun to be around, but heck, being a kid is tough. Hearing about when you were a kid is neat. Life sure was different back then. I’m still trying to figure out how walking to and from school was uphill both ways. And barefoot? Wow.

Sis and I have grown up now and left home. Bet you never thought we would do that, huh? We sure do appreciate knowing we can call you with some problem, knowing you will always be there for us. Now we learn, it’s not just us.

A little bird told us what you did. Cleaning the floors and dusting? Are you losing it, or do you love Mom that much? Never mind answering, we know. Sis and I are glad you treasure her, so do we.

All this to say, thank you for being you. I cannot imagine anyone else could be as good a Dad as you are. We don’t say it too often, but Sis and I love you. Mom does too. In fact, we sorta look up to you as a national treasure. No one else could fill your shoes.

Thank you for not leaving, Dad. You have no idea how important you are. Oh, BTW, Happy Father’s Day.

Love, Us

Standing By The Banner

My research proved to be short-lived and left me deflated.

The debate was settled on June 14th, 1777.

Today is Flag Day and I had hoped to give you a little history of how it came to be. Stars and stripes it is. What I don’t know is what were the other options for our national flag? No matter, it’s all history now.

Were we in total agreement back then? Most likely no, seldom have the citizens of our fine country been in complete agreement. The only instance I can recall in my lifetime was after the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were under attack.

Leaders gathered on the steps of the courthouse, regardless of their political party, and prayed for our nation. Yes, prayed! Together. Every one of us stood together, united under our flag.

There are many flags to stand for and be united under. Each state has its own flag. The only other flag I recognized was the white surrender flag.

These days, the police have a flag for those who esteem how vital their role is in our society. Black Lives Matter has one to memorialize the oppression their race used to live under. The Jewish nation also has a flag, remembering the atrocities their ancestors endured.  

I am beginning to see the importance of flags in general. It is what they represent, a people, a nation, a sect, united in cause. Standing together. This is what makes our American flag so popular, and desired by many.

Our stars and stripes reveal we are one nation, under God’s authority, giving liberty and freedom to our residents. Freedom to pursue worthy endeavors, and worship in our own unique way. To live without fear, or at least it used to be.

That has to be why so many are eager to come here. To experience what freedom looks like. Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Every nation has their laws.

It gets sticky when man-made laws interfere with God’s laws. His laws can be found in Exodus 20 in the Good Book. What many don’t realize is that following God’s laws far surpass man’s laws. Both are intended to protect. One just does a better job than the other.

If God’s laws are disobeyed, and a contrite heart admits it, the offender may suffer the consequences.  But also gets grace and mercy. A second chance to do better, it makes for a new and improved you. Man-made laws cannot guarantee that.

Near Surrender to Fred

© jb katke

There comes a time when ya gotta give up. We named him Fred.

This spring we have had the annoyance of a cowbird seeing it’s reflection in our window. Fred demands mating with it and will not take no for an answer. He ignores his female counterpart at the feeder.

The screens came down to protect them from damage. Fred now has free access to perching on our window sill with frequent body slams trying to get at its reflection. One would think he would get the hint or knock himself silly.

Covering the window with aluminum foil, we thought the shiny surface would deter it him becoming a nuisance. No such luck. Swapping the aluminum foil with cardboard was considered, but talked ourselves out of it. To be effective, it should be placed outside the window where the spring rains would make a mess of it.

Either way, our vision outdoors was blocked. What really angers me is Fred is keeping the humming birds away. I have worked hard at drawing them, all to no avail now.

Anger is putting it nicely; I want to kill him. Wouldn’t you know, Jesus had something to say about a birds.

Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. (Matthew 10:29 NLT)

I bet that applies to cowbirds too, so murder is out of the question. That blasted bird is holding us captive.  On our pleasant days we have been unable to open windows for the lack of screens.

Dave has done a little research and learned a further reason to hate Fred. Cowbirds lays eggs in other bird’s nest. If the home-owning bird returns home to find foreign eggs, it kicks them out. The next time it leaves the nest, that ornery cowbird kicks out the homeowners eggs. Talk about squatters taking over, I have nothing nice to say about him.

In the past, I have wished to learn the various bird calls to know who is ‘singing.’ I have learned the cowbird; he is still lurking about. Any ounce of Christianity I have is quickly evaporating.

Until I continued to read what Jesus has to say about people v birds.

So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.            (Matthew 10:31)

Clearly Fred knows enough scripture to not fear the evil intent of my heart. As a last resort, we have placed a wood owl wall-hanging Dave made in our window. Fred seems to be keeping his distance now.

Perhaps I should be content that the good Lord values me above a bird, regardless of my heart. It almost makes me want to surrender my anger to play nice to this creature God created. After all, it is people that God created to be his own image, not some birdbrain.

Opposites Attract

©jb katke

Winter is necessary.

My dearly beloved, Dave, would hasten to disagree with me. We are polar opposites. Not to say I love winter, but it does create an appreciation for springs new growth.

At least in normal people. Not I. After our springtime rainy season is over and it gets warm, sadness settles in me. I know what is coming. Heat and sunshine, neither of which I can tolerate. Nor can this squirrel.

The same happens with Dave, only his time of sadness is when autumn hits. That is when I shine. But we both know what is coming. A cold dead winter that chills him to the bone.

Trees lose their leaves. Don’t you just love hearing them crunch underfoot? Dave doesn’t. He sees the bare branches of those trees losing their lush greenness, standing bare naked for all the world to see

I, on the other hand, see them pointing up to their creator. The beauty of the individual leaves is better seen when underfoot, not so when massed together in the branches. Suffice it to say, one of us is perpetually gloomy. Correction, not gloomy. just eager for the season to be over.

Looking back, I can’t say when this mood swing became apparent. When we married we agreed on everything. I jokingly say he’s changed. But I have too. Those tendencies were lurking about for a long time. Each of us growing up in Michigan, we were unaware of extreme weather changes.

Living in Kansas, we now recognize the change and can lay a finger as to the why of it. Michigan is full of trees and overcast skies. The sun shone brightly, but the trees were a shield. We had occasional hot days, but they never lasted long, and gentle breezes made it bearable.

On the other hand, the Kansas breeze is more akin to a constant wind. In the summer, it blows hot air. Admittedly, I do appreciate it when we have the winter ice storms, as it seems to blow the pavement dry.

Bottom line, there is always something to be grateful for. As well as something to whine about. Change is what the world is all about, and for the longest time, has never meant to be perfect. Instead, it gives us something to look forward to. Something to hope for that is better than what we see or feel today.

Something that won’t change, ya’ know, something everlasting. Like God’s love. And heaven, where life is perfect because of who lives there. Jesus and his dad, the Lord God.

Spoiler Alert: He was the Guy who created all this climate change. Something for everyone!

Domino Friday

 © jb katke

A lousy seventy-five cents nearly sent me off the deep end. How is that possible?

Events went down like dominoes.

Friday is my grocery shopping day. It started seeing my husband off to work. My mistake was returning to bed. Three hours later I hurried to get this day going.

I have told others, “You must have needed the sleep.” It’s a poor excuse when it happens to self. Kiss the reduced meat counter goodbye. The early bird catches the worm. But not today.

Habit takes me to several stores to catch the deals and I question my routine. Money saved on sales is spent in the gas tank. Not all products are available in every store. Am I willing to sacrifice my pet brands? Apparently not.

One of my stops was at a well-known discount store. There in, my blood pressure elevated. Distilled water is a prerequisite, the shelf was full of the jugs. All, outdated. Ditto for the grocery store. I gambled on the purchase.

Daily the news speaks of unmet supply chain demands. Be it a shortage of truckers, or lack of store employees to stock, we all are feeling the inconvenience. Can water go bad? Never mind, at home I realize I was reading the wrong date.

My heart goes out to the mothers unable to find formula to feed their infants. My prayer is God will provide for them, and for Momma to see Him  better.

At said store, I found a frequent purchase of mine bearing a seventy-five-cent coupon. Eureka! Only to find the self-serve cash register would not recognize the coupon. Thus, an employee came, not to my rescue. “I don’t know why it won’t work. Oh well.”

“Get me a manager.” Wise spending is a prerequisite, I didn’t want to let this go. Prices are high enough without machines, that supposedly don’t make mistakes, to malfunction. “Nooo, you don’t want a manager, it would take too long getting one to come.” I left, feeling robbed.

I would not mind if it had been a small mom and pop store, they need support. But this huge franchise has forced the ‘little guys ‘ to bankruptcy. It disturbed me enough to think they don’t need my business.

Thankfully, I have other options. Not everyone does. Turmoil could have reigned had I not lectured myself. Seriously girl? Don’t fret, God has your back.

I don’t have to look far to see frustration in others, I am not alone. But the Good Book says,

I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33.

What are ‘these things?’ In prior verses, Jesus explains. His words foretell a future of hope and encouragement. A much-needed commodity these days.

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.