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.


 © 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.