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.