Numbers

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grunt Work

© jb katke

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

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

One favorite is How America Works (www.imdb.com/title/tt15460842). The show is hosted by Mike Rowe and features all aspects of things we never think about. The shows have covered firefighters, how aluminum is made on down to sugar, corn mills and a whole lot more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mind Bending

 © jb katke

It’s over now. A piece of my history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nike Thing, Just Do It!

 ©jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am learning that the hard way.

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

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

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

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

Wednesdays With Ardie

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images Created

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting High

 ©jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It Shouldn’t Happen

©jb katke

It should not have happened. I was so careful.

But it did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who ‘Da Thunk It?

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.