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…hat 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,” 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.

https://www,amazon,com/s?k=jb+katke&i=stripbooks&crid=1103edsfx84yh&sprefix=jb+katke%2cstripbooks%2c108&2c108&ref=nb_sb_noss.

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.

Mrs. Astors Plush Horse

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

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

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

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

I felt like a fool.

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

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

Back up.

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

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

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

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

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

The Letter

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter!

Addict or Fanatic?

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on the Smiles

© jb katke

What makes you smile?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dream On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s A Good Day…

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

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

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

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

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

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

…eyes that can see. Some people are blind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Pictures Portray

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Day to Remember

 ©jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope For Ever-After

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enlightenment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost Gone

© jb katke

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

A true one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this from a bottle of dish soap.

Raking It In

© jb katke

It’s not what you think.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Blind Eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ones Most Missed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those Were The Days…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resolving Resolutions

©jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is Hope

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Timing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas

This Is Just Between Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jamie, how could you tell?”

“He never once said Ho Ho Ho.”

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

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

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

The Best Gift Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post T-day Memories

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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