Tuesday, December 15, 2009

His Mercies are new every morning....

Well, guess what? We have a new Mercie. Our landlord responded to Lessons I learned from Mercy by offering us a free kitten. John and I hemmed and hawed for about 12 seconds. We really, truly do NOT want to be cat people! Our love for our children warred with our dislike of cats, and.... well... some of you are parents! I'm sure you know what won.

We have a new Mercie (we debated a new name but just really loved that one so instead we changed the spelling).... Here's a picture of Mercie Mae Kastner. She was delivered by our landlord's son this morning. The children are in HEAVEN! They are just tickled, and they ADORE this kitty.

I'm ambivalent... waiting to see if I'll love this Mercie like the last, but I am very glad to see the frowns on my children's faces turned upside down.

When our chidren were born, we chose verses for each one. I'm picking one for Mercie Mae too.

Mercie Mae Kastner

It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (inner self); therefore, I will hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.
Lamentations 3:22 - 24

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lessons I learned from Mercy

I need to begin this blog with a HUGE disclaimer. I am NOT a cat person. I really am not. I can hardly stand cats. In fact (as MANY would tell you), I might have even been heard saying, "The only good cat is a dead cat." I really do not like cats. Okay, finished with the disclaimer. Here's the story:

About two weeks ago, a stray cat followed the kids home from a bike ride. What I didn't know then was that it was just the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" storyline being played out in front of my eyes. As John and I decorated the Christmas tree (something the kids were supposed to be helping with), they sat out on the driveway petting the cat and playing with the cat.

"She's hungry Momma." was the first step in my slippery slide down the hill. I gave in out of love for my babies, not out of any affinity for this cat. We gave her a can of tuna and a saucer of milk. She set up an abode underneath our front porch, and the kids started calling her Lucky. After about two days, it was time for Elijah's tonsil surgery so Riri came out to the country to watch the other kids. She brought along with her a water dish, food dish and a bunch of cat food. I guess that was step two...

I can't remember the exact timeline, it is all so foggy and seems like it was forever, not just a few weeks. Eventually (we theorize because we were leaving her food outside) she got into a scuffle with another animal. One morning we found her face all gashed up and her nose bleeding. We let her move into the garage to keep her safe and let her heal from whatever predator had attacked her. John and I rationalized, we can have an outside cat and not be cat people. At that point, I announced that Lucky was a lame name, and we needed a real name. We decided upon Mercy because in our dreams the dog we'll have is named Gracie, and Grace and Mercy go so well together. We moved her food and water into the garage, gave her a camp chair and a few blankets to sleep on, and opened the door during the day for her to "do her business."

Our setup became problematic when the weather started turning colder. The day that I found her water bowl frozen solid was the day we knew we were in over our heads. We moved Mercy inside and set her up in the mudroom. In breezed Riri, with a litter box, toys, canned cat food, a brush... all the goodies the spoiling Aunt has right at her fingertips (at least after a quick trip to Target). The kids were in heaven. They would sit and pet Mercy forever.

Mercy was a GREAT cat. She was not like other cats. She wasn't snobby or persnickety. She was friendly and patient. She was great with the kids. She would let Hannah manhandle her and love on her, and she never got mean. She must have been someones cat who had been abandoned or something, because she immediately knew what the liter box was and used it consistently from the beginning. She was a dream cat (if there is such a thing).

We always kinda knew that Mercy was sick. When she first showed up, I told John, this cat just came here looking for somewhere to die. So when we decided to let her come live inside, we determined she would have to take a trip to the vet in order to make sure she wasn't a danger to the children. The vet did not have good news. Likely Mercy had a terminal condition that wasn't treatable, but nothing that could be transmitted to the children. We could try to clear up her infections with antibiotics and keep her for awhile. So we tried. That was Monday.

So there I was (NOT the cat person) squirting antibiotics down this cat's throat twice a day and wiping away her bloody buggers. I mean SERIOUSLY?!?!?! John was humoring me, but I know he was thinking, "Who is this crazy cat lady who has taken over my wife's body?" The medicine seemed to be working. We could hear Mercy sneezing a lot, and she seemed to be clearing some of the mucus from her lungs and nose.

Then yesterday, she climbed in her litter box and wouldn't get out. She sat in there much of the day. It was awful. I explained to the children that she was likely going to die soon, and she knew it. She would let us pet her, but if we tried to pick her up she'd bare her teeth and make a little pitiful sound like, "Please don't. It hurts too much." I was a wreck. The triple assault of watching this creature suffer, realizing I had fallen for this dumb cat and was now going to lose her, and knowing that this would break my babies' hearts was too much for me. I cried all day.

I struggled to find something to do for her. We could not afford to put her down (the vet said it would be nearly $100). No Humane Society would help me because we live in a "non-contracted" area. Part of how we ended up in this jam was because we had called the contracted "dog catcher" guy for Hubbard earlier in this saga, and he never called us back. We prayed for Mercy and that God would help us find a way to help her, and I tried one more time to reach the Hubbard animal guy. Miraculously, I reached his wife. I think my tears helped plead my case for once. She assured me he would call as soon as he returned from work. Mercy left with the animal man at 4:10 p.m. last night. We were devastated but not left without many lessons learned.

1. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:15) I am not saying Mercy was sin; however, I am saying, if you don't want to have a cat.... if you don't want to be a "cat person".... do NOT (I repeat) do NOT feed a stray cat. Don't even pet it. Don't even look at it. The parallels here are too clear not to be applied! If you don't want to have sex before your married, don't take your clothes off. If you don't want to become addicted to drugs, don't smoke even your first joint. If you don't want to cheat on your husband, don't spend any time with a man you are not married to. If you want to avoid sin, do NOT entertain it! Don't give it even one second of your time. Because if you let it get just one tiny little paw into your front yard, before you know it that thing will be sleeping on your couch, and you'll be wiping the bloody mucus from it's nose. Trust me! I know some of you are saying, "Not me! I hate cats!" or "Not me! I love my spouse!" or "Not me! I don't drink, smoke or chew or go with boys who do!" But let me tell you: If it can happen to the greatest cat hater of all, it can happen to you.

2. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) God sure works in mysterious ways I tell you. Me falling for this cat reminded me of this unexpected friendship that came my way. I had determined in my heart to hate this girl. She had taken my place. She was the new (and MUCH better) cheer coach at HCS, and I was still bitter about having my job, my calling, my ministry ripped from my grip. But in breezed Shannon Michelle and it was all over. She and I "clicked" like peanut butter and jelly. Still now... ten years later she is one of my BFFs. God works in mysterious ways. I never thought I'd love a cat. But I did, and because I kept my heart open to the unexpected I gleaned a lot of good things.

3. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14) Mercy really seemed to be on the upswing this week. Then all of a sudden she veered suddenly and started declining rapidly. Life is like that too you know. All is going well and then without much warning, it is lying shattered at your feet. We had such a short time with Mercy before she was gone, but we enjoyed every moment with her and we loved her and gave her a little taste of Heaven before she succumbed to her illness. So the lesson I take from that??? Suck up every second like it is your last. Savor every moment you have with the ones you love because before you know it your time may be up. I have had two relationships like this. Two very intense friendships that came seemingly out of nowhere and overtook my life. Two "BFFs" who became indispensable within a matter of minutes and then after not very long left my life with a heart-shattering "BAM!" I have really learned to just be grateful for every second I have... with Mercy, with my friends, and with my family. Because I know that sickness, death, or betrayal can rip those things from your grip in an instant, and I never want to be left regretting the fact that I didn't cherish what I had when it was there.

4. The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40) Being kind can never be wrong. It just can't. It might hurt in the end. You might end up with your heart torn to shreds and bleeding profusely, but it can NEVER be wrong to be kind. Recently, I made a kind gesture that was rebuked and thrown right back in my face. At first, I was so angry. The sting of the rejection really hurt. But then I realized, I wouldn't change one thing I had done because I had been kind and that was a good thing. Right now as I sit here a little bruised and battered from having known and loved Mercy, I realize that I wouldn't change one thing. It hurt like heck to let her go, and it hurts like heck still as just a few moments ago I had to console Elijah through a storm of tears after he asked, "Mom, why did Mercy have to go to sleep?" But I am glad we were kind to this tiny little creature. I am glad we gave her love and warmth and food for her last days on this earth.

Okay so I'm finally to the end of this long-winded blog. Please do not mistake me, I am still NOT a cat person. However, I think I may amend my famous saying, "The only good cat is Mercy."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The dark side to love...

When I was 13, I broke three bones across the top of my foot at gymnastics. Apparently I had a slight tendency towards tears, therefore because I didn't cry, no one believed I was really hurt. I didn't cry because I was trying to tough it out. I didn't cry when it happened. I didn't cry when my coach examined it. I didn't cry when my friend's mom picked me up to drive her turn in the carpool and get me home. Oh but when I arrived home, the floodgates opened up! The second I saw my Momma, I couldn't put up a front any longer. All the tears I had been holding back, rushed forth in a torrent. See it is hard to keep our defenses up around those we know love us unconditionally.

I observe this phenomenon quite frequently in my own children. You've seen it too. You know you have! The same child who walks in the front door of your house and immediately drops his coat on the ground goes to a friends house, and the mother tells you, "He is such a wonderful child! He offered to help me with the dishes after dinner!" And you think, "I wish he would just 'offer' to pick up his coat once in awhile!"

As with all things we cannot accept the good without the bad. It is wonderful to know that I am someone that my children, my husband, my family can be real with. I love knowing that they do not feel they have to put up their defenses with me. However, it can also sting too. See the dark side to this principle is that we often "let it all hang out" for the ones we love the most. Like when I am crabby and grumpy with my husband, and the phone rings, some random person calling, and I pick it up with a smile and in a sweet voice say, "Hello!"

I also see this in the fact that it seems the closer someone is to us, the less often we engage the filter between our brain and our mouths. Now I guess we could, therefore, consider it a compliment when we get the unadultered (and sometimes painful) truth out of the mouths of those we love; however, I personally find it a bit of a shame. That the ones who matter most to us often don't get the courtesy we give to even strangers. That we are able to bite our tongue and hold back our negative or snarky comments with our friends, but are able to quickly spout off, "Mom this roast tastes like a tire tread."
With the holidays comes more and more "quality" time with our families. So I think it is a good time to consider a few things. Let's just call these Jami's rules for family gatherings.

1. It is okay not to say every single thing you think, and just because people are related to you, they are not entitled to your EVERY opinion. Do you REALLY think your sister-in-law needs to hear that you noticed she's put on a few pounds this year? Nopes. Chances are her scale is working JUST fine, and she does not need a reminder from you that there is more of her to love this year.

2. Gratefulness is not for the tangible gift given or the act committed; gratefulness is mostly for the sentiment behind the gift. If your grandmother gives you a pair of hot pink, shiny, spandex pants, just like those Olivia Newton John wore in the Let's Get Physical video. Even though with all your might you feel like screaming, "The 70s called. They want their hot pants back!" It would be much better to simply say, "Thank you." When mom slaves away all day over the turkey dinner, and it is so dry the turkey needs to be swimming in gravy in order to make the trip down your throat, it is okay to just be appreciative of the effort she put forth in making the meal.

3. Above all else put on kindness. You know kindness is about the most beautiful garment you could don this Christmas season. It will make those extra ten pounds seem like they just melt away. It can turn that dried out turkey into succulent fare. It can bind up old wounds. It can say, "I love you." like no other gesture can. It can be the best gift you give this year.

Good luck! Like any good thing in this world, families in excess can be a little hard to take. During this holiday time with tons of forced family fun, I urge you to tuck away the dark side of love and let the brightness, goodness, and kindness of your love for your family shine.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Fill the stockings... Hang candy canes on the tree... Restock the kisses in the centerpiece... Affix the easy-to-remove (ya right... we'll see about that) stocking hooks to their rightful spots.... Phew! St. Nick was busy in Iron Ridge tonight!

As I scurried around playing St. Nicholas in the wee hours of the night (and throwing in a load of dishes for good measure), I was amazed by how much I can quickly get done when no one else is awake. With no stopping to pour glasses of juice, referee fights, clean up new messes or cut peanut butter and jelly into exactly FOUR (or six or even eight) pieces, a mom can really get a few things done! A little peace and quiet shifts me into overdrive, and the results are heavenly.

That got me thinking. My heart's like that too. Sure God can speak to me in the busyness, through the chaos, when life is out of control, but oh how much MORE work he can get done in a quiet heart. When I set aside my craziness and still my heart, He shifts into overdrive and the results are heavenly.

During this busy holiday season, don't forget this. Cherish those quiet moments with your Savior. Protect your alone time with Him. Don't "pencil Him in" to your holiday mayhem. Write his name in bright red Sharpie across EVERY single day. Make a point to seek Him. Make sure to schedule a little one-on-one time with your God. Sneak away whenever you can. For in the"wee hours" of your heart, He can get a WHOLE lot done.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The bag lady

She shuffled down the street pushing a cart filled with all her worldly possessions, clutching a tattered bath robe closer to her in a futile attempt to fight off the cold. As she passed me, I caught a whiff of the street clinging to her. It was a mixture of body odor, garbage, and that smell kids have when they play out in the cold. Jesus in me whispered, "Reach out to her. Be my hands. Be my feet." But all my five senses recoiled at the thought of it. I started to rationalize my inaction, fighting the voice of God in my head. "Those who do not work should not eat. People should work an honest day for an honest wage. Surely there were others who would help her out." And I passed on by without lifting a finger to help.

As I passed by her walking down the street, head held high, designer coat warming her, I caught a whiff of her scent, fruity shampoo mixed with expensive perfume. I felt the disdain in her look, and I hung my head lower. The sound of her Jimmy Choo's clicking on the pavement brought back a flood of nostalgia. It wasn't too long ago I was like her: well kept, beautiful, successful. Then tragedy struck, and I lost the will to live. It wasn't too long before I had slid down the slippery slope of despair and landed face first in the muck of homelessness. Now that I was there all covered in mud and stuck knee deep in the slime, I wasn't sure how to get myself out. I was nearly positive if I could ever extract myself from the pit I was in, I would NEVER get all the filth and stench of my transgressions cleaned off of me.

Something made me stop in my tracks. I turned to look at her disheveled silhouette. She had stopped walking now, and she seemed transfixed, lost in thought. Fear screamed at me, "She's drunk or high! It would be dangerous to approach her." But a quiet voice whispered, "She's seen things you'll never, ever know. She's remembering those things now." I approached her quietly and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. As she turned to look at me, I softly said, "I am sorry I let your suffering offend me. Please is there someway I can help."

I know this blog is quite different from my normal writing. I am not sure if it will be a hit or a flop, but it has been rattling around in my soul lately. This propensity we as humans have to assume we know the whole story after getting just a glimpse of the punchline. I have felt convicted and humbled by the realization that 90% of the time, I only know 10% of the facts and I make a 100% judgement based upon my faulty understanding. How often I fail to give the benefit of the doubt! How often I fail to be Jesus with skin on! No judgement. No condemnation. No lecture. Just love.

There's a song by Sawyer Brown that frequently comes to my mind when I'm mulling over this dark propensity of my heart. The very first verse catches me in the gut each and EVERY time I hear it. It tells the story of a woman riding on the city bus with her children. The children are out of control and someone says, "Do you let them do that everywhere?" The woman responds by asking her fellow bus riders to forgive her children as they were up all night for their daddy "went to Heaven in the middle of the night." I try to remind myself that I NEVER know exactly what another person's shoes feel like, and I most likely do NOT want to walk a mile in them. Yet I am just an imperfect person. I let my frustration get ahead of my brain. I make judgments and raise eyebrows and propose what "I would have done."

Tonight I'm just wondering what this world would be like if I just took myself off the bench, folded up my robe, and packed away my gavel. If I just NO MATTER what refused to even think, "Well I wouldn't have done it that way." or "There's NO way I would find MYSELF in that situation." I know it is a tall and lofty order, but I am going to aspire to it. Starting today, I will not lift my eyebrows in judgment; I will extend my hand in assistance. Right now, I will not roll my eyes and think exasperated thoughts; I will intercede for others whose struggles I don't know the half of. Right now it is I, softly saying, "I am sorry I let your suffering offend me. Please is there someway I can help."

Safe in my Father's arms....

As I walked through the door to the recovery room, I heard his pitiful, scratchy voice wailing, "I want my Momma. I want my Momma." My heart leapt into action as I raced across the distance separating us to pull my baby into my arms. He was clawing at the tape holding his IV in and crying, "It hurts. Get it out!" My heart was breaking over his pain. I pulled him into my arms and held him. I just tried to get his attention off his pain with the soothing sound of my voice. Within mere seconds he was sound asleep with his head resting on my shoulder..... safe in his mother's arms. As I sat there cradling my tonsil-less baby, I pondered this phenomenon. The second he was in my arms, he quieted and fell into a deep restful sleep. Hmmmmm.....

Maybe that's why whenever trouble hits, I long for Heaven. I always used to focus on the leaving the troubles behind part, but that is not the root of why when my husband is about to undergo brain surgery, I long for Heaven... why when I don't have the money to pay the rent, I long for Heaven... when my life is falling apart, when my marriage is in ruins, when my fear is at an all time high, I long for Heaven.... It is NOT just to escape the pain of this world. It is to be safe in my Father's arms.

See in my arms, Elijah's pain didn't disappear. In my arms, Elijah was simply comforted knowing his Momma was there. In my arms, Elijah knew I cared enough to come as soon as I could. In the Father's arms, our pain doesn't disappear. In His arms, I am comforted knowing my Father is there. In His arms, I know He cares enough to be there for me. In my arms, Elijah was able to calm down enough to fall into a restful sleep and let his body do the healing it needed to do. Maybe that's all I need from my Father's arms... the restful "sleep" which will allow my spirit to heal. Lately, I have suffered through a lot of pain, disappointment, fear.... I go to Jesus for help and I bring my needs continually before Him, but maybe all my soul needs is to put my head on His shoulder and REST... so that His healing can take place.

Today I encourage you to do this. Don't just take your needs to God. Don't just tell Him everything. Don't just wait on Him to work. But take a few minutes just to REST. Bask in the warmth, the comfort, the support of His arms. For rest is GOOD for the soul and it will bring about the healing that you need.

Today I am resting.... Safe in my Father's arms.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


1. Elijah -

Elijah's tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy went well. He was a champ entertaining everyone in the joint right up until they took him away for surgery. The procedure took a little longer than anticipated, but we were soon reunited with him. Coming out of anesthesia he was NOT happy. As I came into the recovery room I heard his hoarse little voice crying, "I want my Momma.". It was a relief, and it broke my heart all at once. Day one wasn't too bad. The night wasn't very good though. He threw up a bunch and fought and cried over having to take drinks or take pain meds. He rested comfortably from about midnight on and I am praying when he wakes he is feeling better. During surgery they found puss in his throat which indicates he has an infection. It doesn't make much difference though because they were going to put him on antibiotics anyways.

Please pray for healing, for him to be able to keep meds (and soft food) down today, and for his pain to be manageable.

2. John

John is progressing quite nicely. He still has quite a bit of pain, but is able to manage it and work through it. He is still FAR from full strength but is healing steadily. He is finding that the cold weather really bothers his incision area and he still suffers sharp pain when moving too quickly or knocking his incision area. His biggest physical struggle right now seems to be insomnia. I'm not sure if the insomnia is from a switch in meds or from stress, but I worry that without enough sleep his body won't be able to heal properly.

Please pray for his continued healing. Please pray for no more bumps or knocks to the back of his head. Please pray for him to SLEEP.

3. Finances -

Good news first: We are SO close to the end of this tunnel I can almost feel the sunlight on my face. Also God continues to provide for our needs. We have PLENTY of food in our house. Two very generous food donations, leftovers, etc... have us WELL stocked for a while. Also someone has offered to get some presents for our kids for Christmas... When John and I heard that we both cried... We have such bigger worries right now then Christmas presents, but even that detail God took care of. This is why I REFUSE to stress about the fact that today is the first and we don't have enough to pay the rent. As the day has been looming nearer, the lyrics from a song we used to sing a lot at Happy Church keep running through my head, "He did not bring us out this far to take us back again. He brought us out to take us into the promised land. Though there be giants in the land we will not be afraid...". I just keep on praying for a 4th quarter, hail mary pass to save the day.

Please pray for a MIRACLE regarding the rent. Please pray we get caught up with health insurance premiums quickly. Please pray John is able to work his full hours soon.

Just a quick bloggish kind of ending: I know my troubles are looming large right now. I am not Pollyanna-ish enough to miss that fact. But I also know AND BELIEVE: "He brought us out to bring us into the promised land!" God bless you today!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Blog Part 5 - My Troubles

I am thankful for my troubles. They keep me real. They force me to depend more and more upon the Lord. The pain of them makes the joy of the good times so much richer.

I'm thankful that my marriage nearly fell apart this year, for what was broken has healed stronger than ever.
I'm thankful John had brain surgery, for it saved his life.
I'm thankful John was out of work, for it brought this family closer together.
I'm thankful that we have no idea how we will pay the rent again, for it will allows us to witness another miracle.
I'm thankful for the broken relationship in my life, for it teaches me to value the whole relationships I have.
I'm thankful for all the messes I have to clean up, for it means there are still little ones in this house creating the messes.
I'm thankful for my stretchmarks, for they are the evidence that this body bore 4 amazing babies.
I'm thankful that I live so far out in the boonies, for it has forced us to simplify and greatly reduced the craziness of our life.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for all my troubles. They are really just differently wrapped gifts from God.

Thankful Blog Part 4 - My Family

I have the most amazing family in the world! We aren't perfect, and trust me we have got our CRAZY, but my family is loyal and true and faithful to a fault. No matter what, my family will support me... through the good and the bad... through the ugly and the pretty...

I am thankful for my mom. Everything I ever learned about how to love my children I got from my mom. She loves her children MADLY. She cherishes each and everyone of us dearly. My mother would literally give her heart if one of us needed a transplant. She is the most generous person. Most of all I am thankful that my mom loves Jesus. I am thankful that she made it a priority to give me a godly foundation for my life.

I am thankful for my dad. He was just a child when I was born... a mere 18 years old. And he did the best thing he could ever do for me; he loved my mom, he stayed married to my mom. I am thankful my dad was willing to work hard to provide a good life for us children. Again most of all I am thankful my dad loves Jesus.

I am thankful for my sister Jodi. I am thankful for her CONTINUAL and CONSTANT prayer support. I am grateful that in the middle of her husband being laid off she is worried about how she can minister to me in my time of need. I am grateful that no matter what whether she agrees with me or not she will love me and defend my right to believe what I believe and choose what I choose.

(Okay Riri... Here it is...your turn in the spotlight!)

I am thankful for my sister Cori. She is generous to a fault. She will give me or my children (or any of her family or friends) her last dime in order to make us smile. She has got my back! If someone hurts me or betrays me, that girl is RABID and straining at her leash waiting to ATTACK and rain vengenance on their head. She is funny. No matter what she can make me laugh. She does not judge me. I can always be exactly who I am with her and I know she won't judge me or offer unsolicited advice. She'll just listen and love. Finally, I am thankful for how much she loves my babies. So much in fact that some of them ask me frequently if they can go live with her.

I am thankful for my wonderful brother Seth who is the BEST uncle in the world to my children. I am thankful for my gramma, the matriarch of this wonderful, crazy family. She is supportive and amazing, and she folds some mean sock. I have an amazing Aunt and SUPER cousins.

I am blessed with the most amazing family and I am thankful for them this Thanksgiving.

Thankful Blog Part 3 - My Children

All I ever wanted to be was a Momma and a Wife. I went to college, had a career, but all along I was really hoping someone would marry me and make me a Momma. I laughed with WILD abandon at the movie 27 Dresses. While I didn't have quite 27 to my credit, I did have one summer where I was a bridesmaid in 3 weddings. WOWZER! It did for sure seem I would be "always a bridesmaid and never a bride." Then with lightening speed I met this man who fit my one and only, sole qualification: he loved Jesus. We married within 10 months and just 17 months after we married.... VOILA! I became a momma. It has been the most amazing, wonderful, excruciating, incredible experience I have EVER undertaken. It is everything I hoped of and everything I never realized it would be.

The one overarching thing I am most thankful for with regards to my children is how deeply, genuinely, and completely they love Jesus. It is amazing to me. Nine times out of ten, these children are the FIRST to say, "We should pray about that." They LOVE to go to Sunday school and AWANA. They just love Jesus. Jeremiah recently had this conversation with me,

"Mom I love you so much."
"I love you too baby."
"I love Jesus a lot too."
"I know you do baby."
"Is it okay if I love Jesus more than I love you."
"Absolutely Jeremiah. You should NEVER love anyone more than you love Jesus."
"Okay. Good."

Then from that point on he would frequently tell me and his siblings, "I love mom but I love Jesus more. You have to love Jesus more." Precious.

My time is quickly slipping away as we have to pack up our baked goodies and travel the hour into town for the Road Rally and Grand Feast, but I want to quickly mention a few more things for which I am thankful with regards to these children:

Noah James... my firstborn - I am grateful that this boy is so fiercely protective of his brothers, his baby sister, his momma, and actually any child or baby he meets. Our friends Brad & Amanda have a new baby and the few times she has been at our house, Noah follows her around making sure she doesn't get near the stairs, fall off a chair, or get into a toy which is not safe for her. This boy he is such a protector at heart. I am grateful for how completely he "gets" the things of God and desires to take in more and more knowledge about Him. I am grateful to this child for turning me into a mom.

Jeremiah David.... my sensitive one - This child sense when I am sad. He runs to comfort me if I cry. This summer was a tough one for this family and every time I dissolved into tears, I could count on his arms being quickly wrapped around my neck and his asking, "Mom can I pray for you?" That's the second thing: this child LOVES to pray for people. Everything that concerns him... every hurt he sees.... every need that occurs.... he takes to his God in prayer. I am thankful for how responsible and orderly Jeremiah is. If you ask Jeremiah to do something, if you give him a set of instructions to follow, you can count on the fact that every single i will be dotted and every single t will be crossed. I love that this boy has such a soft and moldable heart. If he is caught in a sin, he is QUICK to confess and make reparations. I am grateful to this child for making my job as a mom a little easier.

Elijah Daniel.... my oopsie baby - I always tell Elijah he is the best surprise God ever gave me. I joke that a child who was conceived in spite of TWO forms of birth control was destine to be resourceful, scrappy, determined. This boy is all of those things and some. My best parenting stories all stem from him: broken toilets - him, butter spread in the windowsill - him, poop in the stuffed Elmo's mouth - him... Elijah has given me most of my gray hair, but every time he ends up in one of his escapades I think of what my wise Momma always tells me, "You are not raising successful children. You are raising successful adults." And that resourcefulness will do him VERY well as an adult. I am thankful for this child's brain. I can frequently "see" it working behind those gorgeous eyes fringed in ridiculously long eyelashes. I am thankful for how energetically he attacks EVERYTHING in life. I am even grateful for how he knows EVERYTHING. I am grateful to this child for keeping me on my toes.

Hannah Elyzabeth... my little princess - I am thankful that God gave me a pretty little dollop of frosting on top of this amazing cake of children I have. She is EVERYTHING I hoped a girl would be: tender and tough, frilly and fierce.... part princess, part linebacker. I am thankful that God gave her imperfect eyes for it keeps her real. I am thankful that she is a little bit of each of her brothers: protective like Noah, sensitive like Jeremiah, impish like Elijah.... and yet COMPLETELY her own.... I have never seen a 3 year old who can command such attention from 3 older boys.... that little girl is like Hitler! She controls her brothers better than I do. Oh and I saved the best for last: If you ask Hannah what she wants to be when she grows up.... she says, "A cheerleader!" Perfection! I am grateful to this little girl for being my best buddy forever (pinky swear).

I can't end a blog about my children without a quick shout out to my step-babies. You know regretfully I don't know them as well as I wish I did. The past corrupted the present making the future very difficult to navigate. I, ever the optimist, am prayerful that God will continue doing His redeeming, healing work in their relationships with their daddy and the rest of us, and I am very grateful for the chance to be a part (no matter how small or big) of their lives.

Alex Joseph - I am grateful that he is a strong, brave, responsible man. I am grateful to him for sacrificing being with his beloved bride and his beautiful new children to travel across the ocean and fight to protect our freedoms.

Amanda Gene - I am grateful for Amanda's loving, giving, sacrificial heart. And this Thanksgiving I am grateful for the budding relationship I see growing between her and her daddy. God can do amazing things if you let Him and I am grateful that Amanda is letting him.

Amber Jade - I am grateful for this girl's spunk! This girl is scrappy and tough and (while this is slightly off topic) the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. My favorite story about Amber is one John LOVES to tell. She was young (idk maybe 3 or 4) and he took her to Chuck E. Cheese. Some kid tried to skip her on a ride and she hauled off and punched him in the face. Life will NOT take advantage of this girl and I am excited to see the woman she is going to become. I see her taking on life just like that kid at Chuck E. Cheese. It better not try to skip her or it will pay the price.

This Thanksgiving I am eternally grateful that God gave me what I wanted, sevenfold. I am the momma to 4 amazing children and the step-mother to 3 incredible adults. Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful Blog Part 2 - My Hubby

Apparently when I was single, I came off as quite picky about guys. A former student I recently reconnected with on Facebook informed me I told them I would never marry someone whose thighs were smaller than mine. I don't recall that, but I do remember measuring the height of my head in order to add that figure to my height and determine what would be the perfect height guy. In my head, perfect was tall enough to place his chin on top of my head.

When push came to shove and I met John, all I ever wanted was a man who loved God. I knew that marriage would have ups and downs, but I believed that if I just found someone who loved my Jesus with all of him we could work through the tough times. We have had a rough year and a half's worth of testing that theory. It has proven to be true, but the tough times of the past eighteen months have revealed many things to me about this man I married, and I am grateful for EVERY single one of them.

John J. Kastner:
*is the hardest working man I have ever met
*loves me fiercely and lavishly and completely
*lays down his pride for me on a daily basis
*loves his children and is RABIDLY protective of them
*is handy and resourceful
*has a thirst for the things of God
*is good at math and LOVES to teach our children it
*loves to worship unabashedly and completely
*is hysterically funny and terrifyingly surprising
*loves Jesus with ALL of him

Oh and one more thing, he is tall enough to place his chin right on top of my head.

This Thanksgiving I am eternally thankful for my hubby.

Thankful Blog Part 1 - My God

I am so grateful that Jesus Christ died to save me, a filthy rotten sinner. I am grateful that the God of this universe loves me so much that he chose to be born as a human, live a perfect life, and die to save me from my sins. But that wasn't good enough for Him. Nope! He also cares enough to intervene in my daily life, to carry on in relationship with me, to answer my prayers, to provide for my needs, to speak to me daily. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for my God.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sometimes I wanna be a turtle...

Sometimes I just wanna be a turtle. I want to pull my head and arms and legs inside my hard shell when I am scared or under attack. I want to hide away from the cold, cruel, painful world protecting myself from the sting of judgment, the harshness of reality, the pain of loss. I wish I could just crawl away to a corner, retract my appendages and lick my wounds. Yet somehow I don't feel that is what God has called me to.

Trust me I know FULL well the cost of being transparent. I have gleaned the blessings of laying it all there: the constant prayer support, the encouragement, the aid and helpful suggestions. But I have also paid the price of being forthcoming: being judged and criticised, being misunderstood, being ridiculed and looked down upon. Yet in spite of the cost, I remain comitted to the calling of being laid bare before you. In spite of how much the rejection and scorn hurt, I will continue on presenting "My life as a leson.". I will count it joy to be found worthy of the suffering, because it is my life's passion to help others. I want to make a difference in someone's life. I want to bring hope to a weary soul.I want to encourage someone who is ready to give up.

So even though it is heating up out there, even though EVERYTHING in me screams, "Retract! Retract!" I refuse to back down. I will continue to let it all hang out. I will continue to share and write and keep giving you "My life as a lesson,".because THAT is God's will for ME in Christ Jesus.

Your enemy the devil....

Spiritual warfare... I think most of us who are Christians admit we believe it exists, but I really don't think it is something we give much thought to. I think we imagine Satan as this bumbling idiot who occasionally stumbles into the perfect situation to taunt us or make us trip, but I do not find that image of Satan backed up by the Word AT ALL.

The past five or six months, I have battled some EXTREME spiritual warfare. I have come face to face with the snarling beast. I have rounded a corner to find the sneaky snake lying in wait for me. I have exhausted myself going one more round with a formidable foe who seems to have endless endurance. And I have stood in awe at the incredible craftiness and intelligence my enemy uses to get to me.

Make no mistake. Satan is NOT an idiot. He is a wise and beautiful creature who got too big for his britches. He does not bumble. He craftily plans attacks. He does not stumble. He knows what has made you fall in the past. He knows what has made other people fall too. He is not just out to make you fall. He is out to destroy you. He is out to devour you. He uses his wisdom, his experience and his tricks to deceive us. And guess what? He is VERY good at it.

The most important, key lesson I have learned about fighting Satan is that I canNOT defeat him on my own. The ONLY thing that wins against Satan, the only thing that has any power AT ALL, is the blood of Christ, the name of Jesus. He alone can beat the devil. When I try to face the enemy on my own, with my willpower or with my "vast" knowledge of Biblical things, I fall FLAT on my face over and over again. The only way to beat the devil is to admit that you cannot beat him alone, and then remind him, loudly and CLEARLY, that you don't need to beat him because there is One who defeated him for good and that One is on YOUR side. When Satan throws your failures in your face, throw the success of Christ's death on the cross in his. When Satan tells you, there is no way you can resist the temptation in front of you, remind him that in Christ you can do all things. When Satan tells you your situation is hopeless, your marriage will never recover, your cancer will never go away, your finances will never improve, remind him that your God is the God of the impossible and that your Jesus defeated death itself when he rose from the grave.

I don't know what battles you're facing today, but I do know this: Satan is at the root of them. He is trying his best and hardest to destroy you, and he doesn't give up. But here's the part I love the best: every single situation we face, every single battle we are fighting with the devil, God can (and wants to) use for our good.

I believe that Satan wanted this brain surgery experience to destroy the Kastners. I think he used many different weapons: the hand grenade of physical setbacks, the machine gun of constant exhaustion, the bayonet of fear of the unknown, and the nuclear bomb of financial devastation. All those weapons had the same battle plan: destroy the Kastners. But do you know what? Not only did he fail completely, the Kastner family is still standing, alive and well and serving their God, but God used his attack to accomplish His good purposes, and the Kastner family has gleaned a MULTITUDE of GOOD things from this experience, including but not limited to:
***improved family relationships - not only was the "forced family fun" of being around each other 24-7 used to bond this group of six people like never before, but also we experienced growth and healing in our relationships with John's daughters too. We mended broken bridges with our extended family. We reconnected with family we'd lost touch with. We brought a MULTITUDE of new people into our "family." People we would have NEVER crossed paths with if not for this situation.
***increased awe in the power of God - we saw God use a mortal man to intricately operate on John's brain and heal him completely... We saw God provide for our physical needs over and over again.... We saw God heal relationships and change our attitudes and purify us like never before.
***unshakable faith - we still stand in the midst of the battle: John is NOT up to full physical strength, we are still not back to full salary, we are still EXHAUSTED... but we face those situations with an unshakable faith, like we never have before. We face those situations with knees wobbling a little, but hearts STEADY and FIRM in the belief that God will NEVER let us down... He will give John the strength to work through his pain and weakness. He will continue to provide for our financial needs till we make it to the end of this road and beyond. He will give us the energy we need to face every challenge put before us.

This is the beauty of spiritual warfare. Not only does Satan NEVER win in the end, but God ALWAYS rubs his face in it and turns what Satan has meant to defeat us into our victory. He sat there chuckling and gloating. He had destroyed Christ. He had foiled God's plan of redemption. Then what he thought was his victory came crashing down all around him when gloriously, victoriously Christ ROSE FROM THE GRAVE! But not only did he fail at killing Christ, he lost because now there was a way paved to heaven for all of us.

What battle are you facing today? Realize that without the blood of Christ, you canNOT defeat it. Invoke His name. Invite His power. And then sit back and watch God turn your possible defeat into AMAZINGvictory, and glean the many blessing which will rain down around your head because you simply gave the battle over to the only One who can win it.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I Peter 5:8

Friday, November 20, 2009

The hole in my heart....

When people come into our lives and then leave, it leaves a hole in our heart. Funny thing is we can try and try and try to fill that hole with someone or something else, but it rarely works. No two people are alike; therefore, no two holes left in our heart are alike either.

Recently I lost a friend. Attempts at reconciliation have failed and currently we are estranged. While I believe that God always wants reconciliation (in a friendship, in a marriage, in a church), I realize that because we are flawed humans, reconciliation is not always possible. Sin, pride, misperception, unforgiveness can all get in the way and rob us of the perfect plan that God has for us. Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose… Philippians 2:2 Ever the optimist I have left myself open to “Maybe…. Someday….” in this friendship. However, the tiny little realist shoved away in the corner of my heart keeps trying to be heard, “Not this time Jami.”

Therefore, I mourn. Like a teenage girl replaying every text, note and call from her “ex BF”, I mope about the good times. My heart catches every time I touch the coffee cup that was a gift from this friend. My brain replays the situation over and over looking for how to fix it… how to find reconciliation.

Lately my torture has heated up to a boil. I am sure part of that is because Satan wants to torture me. He wants me feeling blue. He wants me missing and longing and lonely. He wants me caught up in YUCK so that I will be less effective for the kingdom of God. I think some of it is also because God wants to get my attention. He wants to call my eyes to different parts of this relationship. He wants me to see what went wrong and why it went wrong, and He wants me to learn from my mistakes. I guess what I can’t get past is just the estrangement. I am really not a person who has many enemies (that I know of). For me friendships wane and wax due to proximity or availability, but very seldom do they end abruptly and severely. In fact including this situation, I can only think of one other time that I have been estranged from a friend and just kinda agreed to let it lie and not be friends anymore. And even that situation, with time, resolved itself. The friendship was never the same, but we returned to being sisters in Christ and having an amicable relationship. I guess maybe it is just the fact that I don’t do “break-ups” well because I haven’t been through many of them. But my soul just has this longing…. This hole I can’t seem to fill….

I think this is what God is trying to tell me. It may not be the exact lesson God has for you in your unresolved relationship, BUT it is not sin and it is probably a good idea to give it a try because it can’t hurt.

1. Pray for my friend. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 This verse doesn’t say pray for the saints who you’re in relationship with or pray for the saints who you are getting along with or even pray for the saints who want you to pray for them. It says, “praying for ALL the saints.” (emphasis mine and wishing I could make that PERIOD huge and more emphatic)

2. Walk away…. Again while I FULLY believe that God always WANTS us to reconcile… to make a friendship work…. to stay married…. to keep a church together… this is not always possible. There are times in life where we do have to separate. Abram and Lot had to separate. Their reason may not be the same as mine (or yours), but their example remains. Maybe to tell us, there are definitely times in life where we must go our separate ways. There are times in life when we must just walk away.

3. Never give up hope… I do not think it is wrong for me to hope that at some point in the future God will bring reconciliation about in this relationship. Love always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:7 There is nothing wrong with hanging onto hope. For that is what love does.

4. Let Him fill the hole left by my friend… When all else has failed… When I have tried everything I, in my human power, can do… I need to just let go of it and let God come in and “caulk” the tiny places where the hole hasn’t been completely filled.
So here I am today. Trying hard to prayerfully walk down this path minus one friend but never, ever letting go of the hope that someday in the future God’s will for ALL relationships, perfect unity, will be made complete in this one too.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone… Romans 12:18

Friday, November 6, 2009


1. John's physical condition. Ugh! We just NEED this week to end. John didn't get much sleep again last night. Today he is sore and stiff. We are also both fighting some nausea thing.... not sure if it's a bug or something we ate or stress but it is no fun! We just need it to be the weekend BAD! Please pray for John's strength to make it through this day and for his morale as well. I can feel that the toll of being a strong person stuck in this weakened body is wearing on him. Please pray for a TON of SLEEP this weekend..... for rest and relaxation.... for healing from this nausea bug AND for healing of his neck and brain.... for lifted spirits and his patience with his infirm body...

2. Finances.... THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Encouragement poured in yesterday and IDEAS too! I am running hard after all the ideas suggested and am trying to believe as so many encouraged, "Our miracle is on it's way." However, my blanket of peace is thread bare in a few places... forgot about a bill that comes out automatic withdrawal... our poor little checking account.... It is like that little Engine that Could: "I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!" trying to chug up that mountain. I just keep telling myself: God did not carry us through months of this ordeal to drop us mere weeks from the finish line and let us crash and burn alone. But my eyes still get fogged up with the natural view of things. Please pray that John and I both will view this situation with supernatural vision. Pray that we will have God's eyes to see that this struggle in front of us is not the lion it looks like in the natural view but is really just a little kitty when you put on your supernatural goggles.

3. Elijah: I think I forgot to post this part with a detailed explanation. Elijah is having his tonsils and adenoids removed on 11/30. He has struggled with sleep apnea as long as I can remember. In fact, some nights the sounds of his breathing stopping and the gasps which follow when he starts breathing again are bad enough that I just can't sleep through it. Finally just a little over one and one-half years AFTER we first discussed it with our pediatrician, we took him to the ENT who said on a scale of 1 - 4 his tonsils are enlarged to a 3.5 and the x-ray indicates enlarged adenoids as well. The tonsils almost touch his uvula. Well..... the good news is: it is only a 30 min procedure, he should recover in 7 - 10 days, since he is homeschooled he won't even miss school for it, and since it is an outpatient procedure our insurance will cover it at 100%. Only bad news: have to let my baby go under anesthesia and watch him suffer through 7 to 10 days of healing. So surgery is scheduled for 11/30 at 7:30 a.m. Please pray!

Now that I am done being the neediest person alive and presenting my 1001 prayer requests, I feel today the need to end with a little counting of blessings. Counting my blessings ALWAYS makes me feel better!

My Blessings:
1. Jesus died to save me from my sins!
2. God is my BFF and is walking with me every step of the good days and the bad.
3. I have an AMAZING mom and dad and INCREDIBLE siblings.
4. God fulfilled my life-long dream of being a wife and a mom.
5. He fulfilled that dream by giving me the strongest man in the world as my husband.
6. He gave me my version of the PERFECT FAMILY... perfect! I gave birth to 3 rambunctious boys and 1 tom-boyish princess.... and I married into being step-mom to one VERY brave man who is currently fighting for our country, and two BEAUTIFUL, HYSTERICALLY funny, and never-endingly kind women (anyone for some pope cake?)
7. I have a flexible, work-at-home job which allows me to fulfill my dream of being home with and even homeschooling my children.
8. We have two reliable vehicles to get us around.
9. We are living in a HOUSE! A HOUSE! and we are on our way to fulfilling the dream of being HOMEOWNERS!
10. We have a VAST network of support from friends, church families, former students, former cheerleaders and former youth group kids.
11. While our collective health has needed some "tweaking" this fall, NONE of what we have had to deal with is terminal and while there are always risks nothing has been too life-threatening.
12. We found the most AMAZING new church up north here.... on THE FIRST TRY!!! That is unheard of! This place is PERFECT for us in EVERY single way! Last week, Jeremiah said, "Mom, let's NEVER leave LifeChurch. It is the PERFECT church."
13. My children LOVE Jesus. They love Him SO much. They see God everywhere they look. They love Him deeply. There are learning about Him and hiding His Word in their hearts. They love to pray and sing His praises and go to church and AWANA.
14. I got work today! All week has been slow, but TODAY I got some work!

Okay that's good enough. I have MANY more blessings but I just picked my own chin up off the ground with the typing of that list and I'm ready to get back to my busy day.

Hope I've inspired at least one of you to "count your blessings" too. God is good..... ALL the time! and DON'T YOU FORGET IT!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I have two pretty significant prayer requests to put out there. Please, please PRAY!

1. John's physical condition. He had a rough and exhausting day yesterday at work. He still struggles to tilt his head upward and is not strong enough to lift stuff without hurting his neck. Then last night we had an exhausting evening of running around followed by a sleepless night for him. As he left for work this morning, his neck was stiff, he was suffering significant pain, and he was EXHAUSTED! Please! I need everyone who reads this blog and prays for us to STOP right now and pray that God will reach down and touch John. That he will get supernatural strength and energy to make it through this day. That his neck muscles will relax and give him some relief. That he will have an easier day today and that this day will seem to pass quickly for him. Long term please keep praying that strength will return to his body. That his neck muscles will heal. That he will take forward steps towards full recovery.

2. Finances... (ugh so difficult to know what to share... still so self-conscious about sharing this stuff now, but we NEED prayer!) Okay here goes: it's bad. Please pray for God's miraculous provision or a creative idea on how to make things work.... I'm just praying for things I didn't think of: an extension on the due date of a bill, a miraculous credit I didn't know was coming, a positive answer when I apply for energy assistance next week.... Please pray with me that God does these things or "exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine." While I refuse to worry and fret, it is hard not to line up the severely lacking bank accounts and the fact that actual paychecks won't come until at least December against the bills which need to be paid in the next weeks and the gas tanks that need to be filled and everything else. I remember a story a friend told me of how when she was little and they were broke her mom once put a post-it note over the gas gauge and just drove around praying God would keep them going. Miraculously the car did not run out of gas. That story has been continually running through my head lately. I feel God telling me to just proceed, and he will keep our tank from running dry... While my head is like, "Okay God but there is only like $0.52 in my checking account!!!!" my heart keeps feeling a blanket of peace saying, "Consider the lilies of the field....." So please pray for miracles to get us through the rest of this struggle.

Thanks as always.... without the prayers of all those standing with us in this, we would be lost.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A bum thumb...

A few months ago, I hyper extended my thumb. I could tell it was not broken so I did not go to the doctor; however, time would tell that I had pretty badly damaged it even if I hadn't broken a bone. I lost much mobility and almost all strength in that thumb. I was unable to bend it very far. With time it started to heal from excruciating and constant pain to a dull ache to hardly hurting at all. However, still now, three months after the injury, it is not as strong as it was, and if I bump it or jam it in a certain direction, the pain returns in waves feeling nearly as bad as it did when I first hurt it.

I jammed it at the end of last week (and then several times over the weekend... seems when it rains it pours). As the pain rushed in I thought, "DARN! That thing is just NOT better!" Now for the past few days it has been sore again, and I've taken a few steps back in strength and mobility in that thumb.

This got me thinking... some of life's emotional hurts are like that. Some of the REALLY big things, the ones that are nearly our undoing, keep on hurting for a long time. You struggle through the pain and agony. You push through trying to rehabilitate. Then without warning an unexpected jolt comes from out of nowhere stabbing deeply into the partially healed wound. It might be a flippant comment, a familiar scent which evokes an unpleasant memory, a return to the "scene of the crime," or even a memory of a time before the "injury." Immediately, it feels like you are transported back to the first moment of betrayal, loss, heart break. The pain is so intense, and you feel discouraged by the realization that you have not quite healed yet. For days after, the pulsing of pain in that area of your life reminds you that there is still restoration to be done.

I discussed this connection recently with my dear friend Christina. In late June I received a middle of the night phone call from Christina. My gut fell when she told me, "My mom is dead." Christina is just 21 years old. Her mom was just a few years older than I. A motorcycle accident claimed her life. When I shared the thumb situation with her and then compared it to a major hurt in my life, she wholeheartedly agreed with my connection between the thumb and emotional pain. She admitted that sometimes a random occurrence will transport her right back to that night she first heard the news. Her heart will explode with the pain of the announcement. For days afterward she will feel sore again almost tender to the touch.

Here's the good news, it is not for nothing. I think these "reinjuries" are akin to emotional physical therapy. It is almost like it is necessary for you to "bump that thumb" to remind you how far you've come, to begin another phase of your healing, or maybe just so that you NEVER forget that sin, betrayal, loss, heart break. So that you never forget the lessons you learned from it.

Whatever occurrence this blog brought to your mind today... whether it is the loss of a loved one, betrayal from someone who should have never let you down, or disappointment so deep it feels bottomless... know these two things:

1. He is Jehovah Rophe, the God who heals. He will continue healing that fracture in your heart.
2. Feeling and remembering the pain does NOT mean you have not made any ground. So take a second to look back at that earthquake that hit your life. Do not shy away from it. Acknowledge how far you have come in your recovery, but allow yourself to grieve it some more so that you can take another step forward towards full and complete healing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Whimpiest update in the WORLD!

I'm so sorry y'all. I canNOT manage a real, full update right now. I am to weary to even wiggle. This week has been exciting yet excruciating. I just wanted to quick let everyone know:

John's neurosurgeon appointment was today. He got rave reviews, applause from the head nurse for being back to work so soon, and different medications. He doesn't have to go back until December. YIPPEE!

Please PRAY: he's so wiped out. I'm pretty darn sure that he should NOT have returned to work so quickly, but if you know him at all you know it's hard telling him anything and it's hard keeping him down. He is SO beat EVERYday when he returns home from work, and today he banged his head on a low pipe shoving his neck back in a direction that it's not ready to move yet. So he came home tired AND sore. He's a trooper, so he'll make it, but I still worry about him... he's my baby.

Thanks everyone! Have a great night!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

He made it through the rain....

He kept his world protected...
He made it through the rain ...

Well today was exhausting and grueling for all involved. John left for work at 6:15 a.m. Because of his restrictions, he was not allowed to return to his regular job at his building. He was given a "light duty" assignment. This was a bit disappointing to John as he misses his building and the people there; however, eternally grateful to be earning a paycheck again and to be allowed (by MU) to return to work in spite of his restrictions, he cheerfully plodded on at the boring task of inspecting fire extinguishers all day. He returned home from work at 4 p.m. sore and wiped out, but with a smile on his face. The children (and I) FLEW into his arms, grateful to have him back after what seemed like such a long day without him. Noah said (15 minutes after waking up this morning), "This place is boring without daddy." I had to admit I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

So day number 1 is under our belts. I sometimes cannot believe that we are actually at the end of this ordeal. I know... I know... the doctors say that John may not be back to "normal" for another four months; however, I am rejoicing over semi-normal and glad to be this far.

When I look back and think of all the things we have overcome in the past eight weeks, I am in awe over the goodness of God and His people.

Jehovah Rophe: the God who heals! I vividly remember the debilitating fear over the fact that they were cutting my husbands skull open and removing part of it. I remember a point during the actual surgery when Amber left to go smoke a cigarette, and I sat there literally rocking back and forth and chanting soothing snippets of Bible verses in my head. I remember sitting there when he was unconscious and praying till I felt I would sweat blood that he would just wake up. I remember when he awoke in MISERABLE amounts of pain and I could do nothing about it. I remember not too many weeks ago fighting with him to the point of nearly killing him just to get him to wake up, get out of bed, and EAT something! The physical healing that God has already brought to this man's body boggles my mind.

Jehovah Jireh: our Provider I have taken flack for being too open about our financial strains; however, I need to bring them up once more because I really, truly do not know if people get the FULL picture of what an AMAZING miracle God has already done in that area. John and I both work; however, he brings in about 71% of our total income. So we went from 100% to 29% for the past two months. We have NO savings. In fact at the point at which he stopped being able to work, we were not even caught up on our bills. We have so far made it through two months without any services being shut off (well sorta but that was just a clerical error cuz I didn't know when it was due by), without going hungry, without being late on even one rent check.... does anyone else realize how AWESOME it is that God made 29% into 100%???? I mean SERIOUSLY now. John really and truly talked about just trying to live without the surgery because he could NOT see how we could go without his salary for that long when we were already behind to start out. He literally talked about risking his life because of money worries. God QUICKLY stamped out that silly idea by DRASTICALLY increasing his pain and symptoms and making it impossible for him to work even before the surgery was done, and then God MOVED and did some mighty and AMAZING things and we feel humbled and blessed to have been the ones to receive such a miracle. I am sorry to those who take offense at hearing these kind of details about our finances, but I cannot let a miracle of these proportions go by without proclaiming it from the mountain tops! Our God reigns in the HUGE things like giving a human being the wisdom to cut open someones brain and offer him healing from miserable symptoms and in the medium things like turning 29% salary into 100% salary for two long months and in the little things like a wonderful, beautiful little angel showing up at my door with lavender smelling frivolities to reduce my stress and make me feel like a girl again. Our God reigns!

Jehovah Shalom: my Peace. If I close my eyes I can still feel the stress from the worst part of this ordeal. I can feel the weight of the zillions of tasks I had to complete all on my own. I remember having to wake all night long to give John meds. I remember having to work and school the children and nurse John and still finish unpacking. I remember having to all of a sudden take over paying John's share of the bills too and not being sure what his ones even were. I remember sleepless nights, lying in bed with the worries of this dark valley weighing heavy on my heart like there was an elephant right there in my bedroom who had taken a seat on my chest. I remember that day driving home from the hospital after John had been discharged. I literally thought I was the one stroking out at that point. My chest was tightening, my vision was weird in my one eye, I couldn't take a deep breath. I wasn't sure if I was having those symptoms because all the stress had finally gotten to me or if the power of suggestion from him just experiencing them was playing with my head. I really and truly do NOT know how I lived through this experience. It was THE single most difficult thing I have EVER in my life had to do. I was pushed to the limits of EVERY boundary I had: physical, emotional, spiritual, mental. I fought battles with well-meaning but BRUTAL loved ones. I fought battles with friends. I fought battles with John and the kids and the devil. I do not know how to state it emphatically enough: our God is SO good. It is because of Him and Him alone that I am still alive right now.

So here I am feeling I am nearing the end of this ordeal, and I want to come up with a poignant and meaningful scripture to close with, but this is all that is going through my head right now... It's an old children's song we used to sing in Sunday school.... do you know it? Then sing it along with me:

God is so good
God is so good
God is so good
He's so good to me!

In closing, keep on praying please. Pray for:
*John's physical needs:
-ability to continue managing his pain while working
-won't overdo it at work
-will have patience until he is allowed to return to his regular position
-ability to return to his part-time job soon
*Our collective stress level:
-haggling out the details of all of these medical bills to ensure they are correct is wearing at Jami
-scheduling and rescheduling and getting to all of the remaining doctor appointments is tough
-still have to make it through November on the grace of God
(returning to MU gets us part of the way there hope to be back to McD and 100% salary in 2 to 3 weeks or at least by the end of November)

Monday, October 26, 2009


Well tomorrow is THE day! We are excited, anxious, and saddened all at the same time! John returns to work!

We are excited for him to finally be earning a living again. Please do NOT take offense at this! We are grateful for all the support and assistance from God's people, and we are in awe at the way He has provided for us thus far. That being said it will be nice to FINALLY be earning an income again!!!!

We are anxious about his ability to make it through the day/week. He is MUCH better than he was even two or three weeks ago, but John is NOT back to full strength yet. Small motions and accidentally lifting things can cause a lot of pain still. We think he is ready to return, but we are also just a bit anxious. Will he have the stamina? the strength? the energy? Will his pain be kept at bay by taking it easy or will it be aggravated by the additional activity? Only time will tell.

We are saddened as well. At the same time that we are glad to have him back to bread winning, we are all a bit mopey about being apart from each other all day. We have gotten quite spoiled byall this family time. I feel almost like a woman having to leave her 6-week old baby when her maternity leave comes to an end. I have been caring for this man's health, chauffeuring him anywhere he needed to go, and watching over his every need. Now I have to just send him away to work and let him live independent of me for 10 hours.... seriously?!?!?!

Please keep John, the children, and me in your prayers tomorrow. It promises to be an exciting, challenging, and sad day. I promise to post an update on how it went tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why oh why do you share as you do???

I share it all (almost). I lay it all out there. The good, the bad, the ugly, almost ALL of it is out there for the world to see. Recently the question arose again, "Why? Why do you do it Jami?" I realized that there are many reasons I do this: to beg for prayer, encouragement, support during a trial; to allow others to witness God's miraculous provisions right along with me; as a catharsis for my soul... there is something so liberating about "getting things off your chest." But recently one reason has risen to the top to reign supreme. It is the BIGGEST reason that I share. I share so that others will know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I, too, know the depths of despair.

As I have walked through the various struggles I have faced in life, the hardest part for me has always been the loneliness of feeling like no one understands and the shame of feeling surely NO ONE else in the world has been this low. As I walked through the valley of the shadow of financial destitution, as I swam through the rapids of the river of betrayal, as I hiked up the side of the mountain of perpetual singleness, as I fought in the battle of the struggle against bulimia, the thing that I hated the most was the isolation... That feeling that surely no one would understand if I told them exactly what I was going through. That feeling that surely I was the only one to have plunged to these depths. The thing that I craved the most was someone to understand... someone to tell me I have been there and I made it through or even I'm there right now and I don't know if I'll make it through.

There is some truth to that old adage: "Misery loves company." On Monday I spent literally the ENTIRE morning on the phone hashing out the specifics of our medical insurance plan with our benefits administrator, clarifying amounts on medical bills received with billing offices, and setting up medical appointments with doctors. It was so mind numbing and time consuming. I mentioned to my mom how RIDICULOUS it is that it takes SO much time to manage your family's health care. She responded with her own tale of woe about trying to manage care for my great aunt in Florida: social workers, attorneys, nurses, etc... Somehow when I picked up the phone the next day to start another round of calls to doctors, nurses, and customer service representatives, I was comforted in knowing there was someone out there, my own mother, who knew EXACTLY what I was going through.... someone who had felt my pain, someone who was standing up under those same pressures.

That is my BIGGEST reason for sharing. I share all the nitty, gritty details.... I share frequently.... and I share just about all of it.... in the hopes that someone out there will hear my underlying message, my REASON for laying it all out there: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Even if your struggles aren't the exact same as mine, whether you have it better than I do or you have it worse than I do.... YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And I am still standing up under these pressures which proves you can too! Do not give up! Stand up with me because YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are NEVER alone!

I risk the rejection, the possibility that others may judge me and look down on me, the chance that I may be misunderstood.... all for this reason. So I hope you're hearing it from me loud and clear. I hope it pulses in the background as you read the words I write. I hope it echos through your soul in the dark of the night when the worries or recriminations flood in. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update/Blog Combo

FINALLY! an update from the Kastners! Sorry it's been so long. You'll see why in a bit.

Lessons from Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

I went to the mud room this afternoon to get some mac & cheese to make for lunch. My heart skipped a beat when I noticed my pantry is getting a little bare. It's not bad, but for the past few months due to the kindness of God's people my pantry has been OVERFLOWING with food. I'm not so sure exactly why, but as a mom, I always feel so secure when the cupboards and fridge are full. Somehow I feel I am in a much better place to care for my family when the cupboards have food. The sight of my supplies starting to dwindle made my heart skip a beat, but only for a second. You see I am really and truly a changed person. John isn't the only one whose entire existence was rocked by this brain surgery.

If you've known the Kastners for long at all, you know that we have struggled for about four years through a DEEP and DARK valley of financial destruction. Bad choices from many years ago, circumstances beyond our control, and just regular life have been conspiring to make for LEAN times for the Kastners. So when we stood on the threshold of this brain surgery escapade knowing that John would be out of work without pay for at least 2 months, I was thinking, "Seriously God? Seriously?" I mean we have barely been making it with John working two jobs. We have survived for over four years SOLELY on the grace of God and the goodness of His people. I suppose that should have made me a BETTER candidate for this Survivor-like escapade of my husband going without a salary for two months, but it really didn't. Now... here... nearing the end of this adventure... I can honestly say to you, I am a changed person. I am not the Jami who stood on that threshold eight weeks ago.

Last week Wednesday night, John and I were discussing what we've been reading in our Bibles the past week. As we talked, the subject of rent came up. He admitted that he was very scared. (I was too.) Facing a third month with no way to pay the rent was making our knees knock a little. But I told him that even though I was a little scared, I REFUSED to doubt. God had miraculously brought us this far, and He was NOT going to drop us now. The very next morning, THE VERY NEXT MORNING, I received a phone call informing us that someone would be paying our November rent for us. They wanted to call right away once God laid it upon their heart to do so, because they wanted to alleviate any worry that might occur between the time they sent the check and the time we received it.

So as I walked into the mud room today and caught sight of my not as full pantry, in the time it took for my heart to skip a beat, in those moments before worry could even take hold, I realized: I am NOT who I was eight weeks ago. I am a changed person. I am a person who realizes that a millisecond of fear is NOT doubt. I am a person who realizes that she must STOP the freight train of worry the SECOND she hears it coming down the tracks. I am a person who KNOWS beyond a SHADOW of a doubt that her God is big enough for ANYTHING she faces. ANYTHING!


Kids: yups they've been moved up to first on the list this week. We have been fighting a VICIOUS virus here. I got it first and had it for about 8 or 9 days. During that time Elijah succumbed. Most recent on the list of victims was Jeremiah. He started vomiting yesterday morning and last night he gave us a REAL good scare with a pretty decent fever. It hit its height at 104.1 and then FINALLY broke. As hermit-like homeschoolers with a telecommuting mom, we RARELY get sick any more so I was a bit at a loss for what to do. Couldn't even remember how to treat a fever. YIKES! Today I ran into town for some supplies and I am ready and prepared should Noah and/or Hannah be the next in line. Please pray for:

Me - some sleep!!!!!
Elijah - NO secondary infections from this virus
Jeremiah - to kick the last bit of the fever from his body
John, Noah & Hannah - to resist this bug

He is feeling better. The dark side to that is he is starting to forget that he is not 100% whole. Last week he picked up Elijah (he's still under a 10 pound lifting restriction) and paid the price for two days. He strained his neck muscles and suffered a little set back in the pain area. Then yesterday he did it again. He picked Noah up. So the dark side to being better is that he's starting to forget he's not completely himself. Please pray.

Tomorrow John starts physical therapy to relieve some of the tightness in his neck and increase his ability to turn his head. This is KEY to him being able to drive again. So please pray for its effectiveness to be multiplied greatly.

Return to work: the goal is still Monday 10/26. Tomorrow we contact the doctor to find out if this goal can become reality. Please pray! He is VERY anxious to return to earning a living (as am I) BUT I really don't want him pushing himself to return if his body is not up to it.

As I indicated above, our November rent is covered (PRAISE THE LORD!) However, there are other big bills on the horizon and pay checks won't be coming for a little bit. Please pray. We are trying to figure out how to pay a large electric bill (this is a catch up month because the house had been vacant for so long and estimates were at unoccupied levels) and also how to get some propane in our tank soon. We are actually trying to apply for energy assistance. Never done this before... not sure it will work.... there is A LOT of paper work I have to get together in a VERY short time and one problem is we can't establish propane usage as we have no account yet for propane and as no one has used much propane in this house for over a year and a half as it has been vacant. I know that these are MINOR hurdles for our God, but please pray about them anyway.

Medical bills are starting to pour in and they aren't that astronomical (we have pretty good insurance), but they are confusing and I am having to spend A LOT of time insuring we aren't being over charged. Also they are starting to add up... Again: I'm a changed person. This isn't worry I express, simply request for prayer....

Again I am sorry it has been so long since I posted an update. It has been a crazy week here adding sickness into this other circus we have going here. Thank you SO much for continuing to keep the Kastners in your prayers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Penelope... my new hero

The other night we watched Penelope on Netflix. What a great flick! We watched it at the end of what was a very rough weekend for me. I had been struggling all weekend. I was feeling down and worthless. Just kinda having a bad hair day all weekend. I know people mean well, but it is really stressing me out to hear, "Jami, you've got to take care of yourself too." I know this, but right now I just do NOT have time for that. I am just flying by the seat of my pants around here, trying to make it as best I can. The most recent comment I received was coupled with a reminder of how fat I am and how much I need to lose weight, that "encouragement" to take care of myself nearly put me right over the edge. As if worrying about how to take care of a sick husband, how to pay the bills when he has no income, how to homeschool and work and keep up with the house is not enough.... Now in addition to that I have to worry about the fact that I am fat and I need to take time to lose weight! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

So there we sat Sunday night watching Penelope. (I'm going to try to do this without any spoilers... hope I can make it understandable without them.) The main character is a girl who because of a curse has a pig snout. I was only there just looking for a little escape from reality. I didn't expect to hear a sermon from a movie character sporting a pig snout for a nose. There were two quotes from this movie that ROCKED my world.

1. "I like myself the way I am!" This hit me HARD after spending a whole weekend moping around hating what I see in the mirror, imagining how much better my life would be if I just had the body I had ten years ago. When Penelope the pig-snouted proclaimed, "I like myself the way I am!" something in my heart JUMPED and you know what I realized??? I like MYSELF the way I am too! I like this body! It is strong and hardy. It helped me conceive, carry around, and nourish four healthy babies. It is flexible and not very wrinkly. You know what else? I like more about the "way I am too"... I like that I "lay it all out there." I like being transparent and sharing my worries, needs, wants, victories and defeats. I like that I am ridiculously sensitive and that the troubles of other people frequently drive me to my knees and bring tears to my eyes. I like that I forgive too easily, that I believe the best no matter WHAT, that I take on WAY too much for any mortal to accomplish. "I like myself the way I am!"

2. It's not the power of the curse - it's the power you give the curse. That was definitely one of those "things that make you go hmmmmm" for me. How many of the things we struggle with are struggles because of the power WE GIVE THEM? I know for me much of what I struggle with: insecurities, self-loathing, worries, fears... I GIVE those things the power they hold over me. I make them looming giants. I put myself in bondage to them. It's not the power of the curse - it's the power you give the curse.

So once again I sat down to mindlessly watch a movie with my kiddos and I walked away with some lessons and even a soothing balm to my soul.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Update from the weekend

It seems we are slowly but surely getting better around here. It was a fairly decent weekend.... Christina and Matt came for a visit on Saturday. It snowed while they were here! Then Sunday we went to church! It was GREAT to be back in the house of the Lord. After church James & Amanda came for a visit and the Nordmeyers brought dinner. It was a very fun weekend of visits and socializing.

Today John's neck is VERY stiff, but other than that he is doing pretty well. I, on the other hand, am not so well. I am on day 3 of a very bad headache. I am starting to wonder if I have a touch of the flu or something :( I'm taking pain meds like they are going out of style but no go yet...

With regards to our high aspirations to have a I Survived Brain Cancer Party. That's not looking like it will happen. That is turning out to be the weekend we are HOPING John will return to work. We do NOT want to be throwing a big party that weekend. After that in VERY quick succession comes Noah's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! We'd really LOVE to just have people come on up for a visit when they can make it. Please do NOT wait for an invitation. You are always welcome! So please let us know when you can make it up here. We'd love to have you.

I think that's all.... just your typical things going on besides that.... Please just keep up in your prayers:
***continued prayer for our finances. I keep trying to remind myself God's gotten us this far He isn't going to dump us now, but it is still a little nerve wracking to have no income.
***Also continued prayer for healing all around. John's been using heat therapy ALL day, and I'm contemplating making the hike into West Bend for some Starbucks if the Tylenol I took a bit ago doesn't kick in soon.

Well I gotta get back to work. Hope you are all having a blessed Monday!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Prayers worked! John is feeling much better, and his spirits have improved as well. Thank you so much for stepping up and shooting up all those prayers for us. We really appreciate it!

Also as requested I am updating the Kastner Needs List as fast as I can! People keep blessing us so quickly I can hardly keep up with it! Thank you God's people. You are AWESOME!

Finally, we are in the tentative stages of planning an "I survived brain surgery" party. Mark your calendars for Sunday, October 25. Please make sure I have your e-mail address as I am going to be setting up an Evite. If you get my e-mail saying, "I've posted an new blog." Then you know I have your e-mail. If you're not getting those e-mails, then please shoot me a quick, "hey" at jamilynnkastner@gmail.com

Thanks all!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Please, please PRAY! John is having a ROUGH day today. Yesterday was a bit much for him. He did not get a nap, and he was up and out of bed the ENTIRE day. Today he is suffering from a bunch of pain and he is just very tired. But worse than all of the physical symptoms is the emotional toll. He is so DOWN from this setback. He was so encouraged by feeling stronger and by the encouraging news at the neurosurgeon. To feel this crummy the day after is almost more than his spirit can take. Please start praying for him right this minute. Pray that he is energized and that the pain ebbs. Pray that he is encouraged and renewed in his body, mind AND spirit.

One of the worst sources of pain right now is his incision. There is a spot on it that is really bothering him. Yesterday, the nurse said it is probably from his nerves trying to "reconnect" there and causing him pain. Also his neck muscles are very tight. We are using the pain meds (conservatively) and using heat therapy (LIBERALLY). Right now he is resting with Hannah. I am praying that during this nap, God restores him physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Tonight is AWANA and since he has been doing so well, we had planned to have a little date/discipleship/ALONE time while the kids were in there. But now I don't think he will be up to it. That is another blow for both of us. We so crave a little time together without the children. Oh well... maybe next week.

On a positive note: we finished paying all the screaming necessary October bills. We made it for this month and that was encouraging. Also our little trip into the city yesterday yielded us a TON of homegrown tomatoes, a HUGE bag of hand-me-downs (which included a BUNCH of sweatpants for the boys!!!!), and a promise to get the lawn mower fixed. God is so good to us! He is continually caring for our needs. Still we have to work so hard to rest quietly awaiting each day's provision. This is so challenging, but we know we don't walk through it alone. He (and all of you) are walking with us shoulder to shoulder.... carrying us when needed. Thank you for continuing to partner with us through this challenge.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Post-op with the Neurosurgeon

Phew! What a L-O-N-G, LONG day! This guy has GOT to be some kinda celebrity. His waiting room is INSANE! Every single chair was full today, AND they went to go get chairs from another room for the overflow to sit in! It's what I imagine waiting for an appointment with Simon Cowell would be like. Finally after waiting an HOUR, we were ushered back to a room. Because there was so much backup, we saw the doctor in a conference room this time :) tee hee...

First the P.A. came in, then the nurse, finally Dr. Ahuja. From all we heard the same verdict: CT scan looks good. Symptoms he has been experiencing are typical. We need to be PATIENT this is a very difficult surgery to recover from and recuperation will NOT be easy. They warned him to keep taking it slow and to take his time backing off his pain meds. Both the doctor and the nurse noticed his significant weight loss. Finally, we got to see the CT scan (not that either of us knew what we were looking at), but the nurse assured us there were no abnormalities. There is a pocket of fluid around where the decompression surgery was done, but that is to be expected. It is comparable to when you have knee surgery, and it takes a while for the swelling (fluid) to go down. Basically, John's brain looks good, and he is traveling nicely down the road to recovery.

His next appointment is in about 3 weeks; however, he does not necessarily have to be off work that long. The nurse said to check in when he starts feeling up to returning to work, and they will consider releasing him to return to work. John's goal is in two weeks. He said this to both the doctor and the nurse, and while they didn't make any promises, they didn't act like that was an outlandish goal either. So two weeks is what we're aiming for. With God's help, we hope to get him healed enough by then.

Thank you so much for continuing to hold us close in your prayers. While we are far from the finish line still, I feel at least like now I can see the tape crossing the track, and I really feel your prayers energizing me and giving us the strength to gut it out and kick into high drive for this end stretch here.

Thank you ALL for your support through this difficult and trying time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Needs and Update

Needs list:

People keep saying, "Please let me know if we can do anything." I always get this deer-in-the-headlights feeling because I can never seem to think of what our specific needs are at those moments. In addition, I was recently told, "Darn! I wish I knew you needed that! We have tons of it just sitting in our basement."

That got me thinking. I'm going to post a Kastner needs list here on my blog. It's possible that we need something that you even have sitting on your Goodwill pile. I will try to remember to update it regularly, but at bare minimum it can be used to remind me of what our current needs are next time someone asks :)

In a funny little aside, I thought of doing this early this morning, but didn't have time to post the list then. I was planning to put an item on the list, but before I even started the list, someone called me this morning and offered me a REALLY good deal on the items! I didn't even put it out there yet that we needed it! God provided long before the need was even announced. Anyways if you look over there to the left, underneath my life verse, there it is: Kastner Needs List (had to throw in a little humor for good measure.... without humor I'd go insane). Hoping your Goodwill pile has something we could put to good use.

Update on John:

John is doing pretty well. Over the weekend he overdid it a little again. It seems there is a VERY delicate balance between the appropriate amount of exhertion and overexhertion. One thing we have determined is he MUST honor naptime with Hannah everyday. His body just fatigues WAY too easily to be out of bed the entire day. This is however a GREAT improvement over last week this time when I was begging/crying/screaming at him to get his butt outta bed! He had overdone it again the weekend previous hence the refusal to get out of bed. Baby steps.... we are learning this takes baby steps.

Tomorrow is John's post-op follow up appointment with Dr. Ahuja. We are excited to hear how he is doing and what the results of the CT scan are. Please pray and we will update you as soon as we know anything.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I'm not sure how many of my new readers have read back through this blog. I have a lot of (what I think are) better writings near the beginning before I got even more sleep-deprived and so much less coherent from the Summer of 2009 (which shall go down in infamy in the history books of the Life of Jami Lynn Kastner).

I keep getting e-mails lately thanking me for my candor and my willingness to "lay it all out there." Thought it might be an appropriate time to link you back to one of my favorites and explain a little of why (inspite of the humiliation and debasement it brings) I do that.

Check this one out (maybe even re-read it if you've been around this blog from the beginning):

Bare Naked Honesty
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