Treasures of the Heart IV

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you feel the angst?

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

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

A Lopsided View

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Fine Way

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

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

Sometimes life gets in the way.

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

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

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

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

It is possible I over-indulged.

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

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

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

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

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

A New Day Dawns

© jb katke

We are days away from a new year.

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

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

Oh yeah?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year to a new you!

Chocolate Chip Caper

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

Random Holiday Thoughts

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

Home is loud, but it will come to pass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post Thanks

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas 2022

 © jb katke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genuine Thanksgiving

© jb katke

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

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

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

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

Our friend Carrie thought of that. Its natural she would, being the mother of four.

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

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

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

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

Halloween Memories

What makes Halloween memories so great?

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

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

I hope I am not too late with this message.

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

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

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

There is an option I will share.

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

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

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

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

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