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.

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.

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.

Seriously?

Churchill HS marching band

My anger was over the top. It seems I’m not over the confrontation yet.

To give you a little background, a lifetime ago I was a marching band mom. My son, Jamie, played the trumpet though high school and beyond. He enjoyed it and so did his father and I.

Let me hasten to add, it was hard work. Every week of the football season meant a few new songs to learn and new formations to perform at the games. This, on top of all the demands from other classes.

Life has a way of changing everything. By the time our youngest, Naomi, hit high school, we had a job transfer and new schools to acclimate to. Naomi opted to become a member of the flag girls that performed routines alongside the band.

Each week the band played the same song. I couldn’t understand why. If you watched one performance, you’ve seen them all.

In asking the band teacher about this he explained, “The students couldn’t possibly be able to learn a new song in every week.”

This is when I became livid with anger. Standing before me was a picture of what separates good teachers from bad.

“Yes they can! These kids aren’t learning anything doing the same routine week after week. They need the challenge and the opportunity to expand their repertoire. Playing the same musical number repeatedly is a recipe for boredom. Not to mention zero desire to discover if they have a music preference.”

Fortunately the flag girls did their own music numbers offering various costumes with different flag formations. At least they weren’t bored to tears!

Olathe South HS flag corp

My take away was this: The mindset of the band teacher revealed was he was tired of teaching and was merely putting in his time until retirement. Mentally done, he no longer cared to instill a love for music to his pupils.

Everyone has something to offer, instilling what we love into others should never grow old.

Sometimes Jesus gives me opportunities to grow that I may not like. But it’s something he knows I can master with his help, and usually holds a future benefit. He never tires, becomes stagnant, or limited in love. It never ends.

 

 

 

My One Word

Relinquish
© jb katke

 

Never would I have imagined it so life changing.

My One Word is an alternative to a New Year’s resolution.  It’s a Bible Study, but only sort of. You begin by asking Jesus for a single word that would focus on a lasting change for your life.  Search the Bible for verses that allude to that word and what he wants you learn from it. What makes it so doable is, it’s just one word/one change.

January has begun, but it’s not too late for you to dive in.

The word that surfaced for me was ‘relinquish.’ I had considered other words, ‘submit’ and ‘surrender.’ But they didn’t lead me to where Jesus was having me focus.  Submit was something I already do with my husband.  Surrender, to me, means giving up.  Relinquish, on the other hand, means to willfully release.

That is an ongoing process in my life.

Over time it’s taken on differing forms. My first wrestling match was selling my brass bed.  We were down-sizing.  I was the only one who liked it and my family couldn’t understand why I loved it so much.  At the time I couldn’t put words to it, but I can now. That dumb bed was one of the few things in our home that reflected my decorating taste. Tears flowed.

Sometime later I had cataract surgery. I was convinced I’d end up blind. Relinquishing sight, when you are a quilter and supposedly writing a God-ordained book, this just cannot be. Fear reigned. Needlessly. Isn’t that true of so many of our fears? They never come to be.

Selling my grandmother’s enamel kitchen table was another opportunity to relinquish.  As a child, my memories recalled me sitting on a step stool eating her raisin bread, picking out the raisins, eating the frosting on top and leaving the bread.  Yes, I was chastised. But it did no good.

We sold it to a young family that was thrilled to get it. Their home is all vintage thirties, all they were missing was an enamel table. It continues to be cherished, but not at my house.

I come from a family of savers.  When my dad was moving he divided up his collection of dried up paintbrushes between my husband and brother. Our allotment helped fill the trash bin.

Generations before me collected a vast amount of possibly useful things. Upon going through my aunt’s estate after her death, we came across an envelope.  Written on it was, ‘For poverty living.’ Inside it was a large needle and a six-inch string. One can expect that thinking when you have survived a depression.

Moving their stuff out of my way was forever driving me nuts.  Keep in mind, they had all passed away. This was only perpetuating the pack-rat lifestyle I hated.

This is my history. Mental battles run rampant as I dispose of what my ancestors diligently spent their lifetime saving.  Just in case.  My daughter is helping me let go, I mean relinquish.

But to dispose of something……what if sometime down the road I might need it?

I keep reminding myself none of it will be coming with me to my eternal home. By then, there will be no need!

Roller Coaster Realty

Livonia Home[2874]

 

 

© jb katke

 

Who would have thought buying or selling a house is akin to a roller coaster ride? Emotions swung like a pendulum.

Whatever home improvement project we tackled didn’t address the real problem. As our family grew, the house shrank.

So we put our first home on the market. If memory serves me right it was the first time our son, Jamie offered to cut the grass. Mentally he wanted to mow the For Sale sign down. .

Wishing to keep our kids in their current schools kept our choices in a small circle.   I tackled house-hunting hoping to find one that would meet our needs.  Mission impossible.

One home had a cast iron reproduction stove I loved, but not so the house. Eventually I gave up. Why look when no one was coming to see ours?

Having returned from vacation I was diving into the mountains of laundry when a realtor called. Someone wanted to see the house, but I put no hopes into a possible sale.

“Please pay no mind to the laundry, it doesn’t come with the house.”

Even though the young wife promised her husband he could pick their next home, she fell in love with ours.

“How soon can you move out?”

Wait, what? We had to put it into high gear to find a place for ourselves. Go figure, our realtor had gone on vacation. So another filled her absence even though she was sickish.

We found a place in the neighborhood of our youngest childs elementary school. Ideal because many friends lived in that area of our older daughter as well.

We learned the sellers were friends from my parents past. When that became known they really wanted us to have their home. What a warm feeling!

“How soon can you move in?”

We had been told someone else had made an offer but had to back out of it. The following weekend the realtor set up another open house.

We placed our offer beforehand, but despite the sellers’ wishes, the realtor went on with her plan. She was hoping to benefit of being both seller and the purchasing agent as well.

Things happened fast. But the time of closing needed a little tweaking. We appealed to the sellers’ agent asking if we could postpone it one week.

“Absolutely not! They were most put out by your unreasonable request.”

We felt terrible to cause them in any kind of anguish. Because we sort of knew each other, I called with an apology for putting them out.

“What? We had no idea you had asked that, of course we can wait a week.”

Out of kindness to us, the broker of our agent gave us a bridge loan to cover the four hours between the purchase of our new home and later sale of our existing home.

“In all my years in the realty business, I’ve never know the likes of this realtors practices.”

By now we had established a good relationship with many in the office.

We later learned this agent was a personal friend of the seller and was looking out for their best interest. Her ‘concern’ for them nearly put her in jeopardy of coming before the Board of Realtors.

It all came out in the wash and we have lived happily ever after. Several homes ago.

House hunting happens every day. What was my purpose in sharing this? I’d like you to know God is in the details

Intro

Have you ever had an inadvertent conversation with a know-it-all? There is no point in bringing up reason or logic because this individual has an answer for everything.

This is how mine went:

My thought: I would enjoy reading a book about an average Christian and how God impacted her life.

Mindreader: Why don’t you write it?

Me: Are you kidding? I’ve never dreamed of writing or becoming an author. I wouldn’t even know how to go about it.

Know-it-All: You could learn. Did you notice that Heart of America Christian Writers Network website about a conference in your area?

Myself: Yes, but it’s expensive.

God: Following me is costly, but its worth it.

I: You know I’ve gotten myself in trouble too many times with saying things better left unsaid.

Circumstance Planner: I let that happen for you to realize how much power there is in words. Now that you understand that, write!

Me: What about that quilt ministry i was involved with? That was serving you.

Creator: Yes it was, but that was your idea and it didn’t go as planned did it? You and I don’t think the same, I have something different in mind for you.

Myself: You know how uneventful my life is. There’s not much to write about. It would require using a computer, you know how much I hate technology. I get in situations that i don’t know what to do.

Timeless One: That’s part of the world you live in, I know some folks that can help you deal with it. You’ve had some experiences to write about, I’ll help bring more of them to your mind.

I: There’s another issue, interacting with people. I’m not comfortable sharing my life with others.

Jesus: I love people! Tell them about me. Sometimes I can be funny, tell them that too.

Me: You mean like this house I’m living in? The type I swore I’d never live in?

Holy Spirit: You’re catching on.

And so my story begins…